Most avid players of action games know how to use hand grenades. The little throwable explosives make titles of the first person shooter genre much more enjoyable and provide for an exit where there often isn’t one. There are even smoke emitting models that manufacture temporary refuge. Typically though, grenades aren’t used extensively — they’re just a secondary weapon. This is not so in Fragger HD, an Adobe Flash classic from the early 2000s recently brought to the iPad.
Developed by Miniclip, the creator of the original, the iPad game aims to entertain. Does it live up to such ambitions?
Throw Grenades, Solve Puzzles
As I explained, Fragger is a game in which the player throws hand grenades. But at what? The helpless men standing in various areas of each level. There are 340 levels in 11 worlds, all of which are completely different and laid out to challenge even a master of puzzles. A task like throwing grenades at motionless enemies does sound effortless, but once tunnels, wooden boxes (which cannot be destroyed with a grenade, unrealistically enough), brick walls and destroyable stone come in, things get complicated. Grenades are limited, after all.
Throwing a grenade is about precision, not sheer power. Fragger’s control scheme is very similar to that of any golf game that you’d play because it has an angle and power setting for each grenade you throw. This makes it possible to get the explosive in little crevices that are so small they can be missed if your aim is a mere ten pixels off. Physics matter as well, especially when there are two paths that a tunnel can take.
Look out for a faint wall on the right of each level. That means you can throw a grenade against it, bounce it off and hit your target like you would get a basketball in the hoop.
Sometimes there’s even a specific order moves have to be made in since routes can be blocked off. Restarting a level will become a routine, frustration being the usual suspect for failure. It’s especially annoying when you run out of grenades; often all you need is one more chance, but that won’t be granted. That’s why you should try to hit more than one target at once. If you strike an enemy on his head, he’ll topple over and you’ll get bonus points. It depends on where you hit the target, but most of the time the reward is over 100 points.
There are other boxes too, like the flying explosives that, if a grenade explodes by them, fly in the direction the box has on it and explode. Then there are the red explosive ones that simply explode where they sit. There’s no value in these unless you use them strategically; simply making them explode will not do. On some levels, I’ve found that stacking them, if possible, is the best way to successfully obliterate the enemy.
The hardest levels are ones that require a meticulous degree of precision. It’d sure be nice if there were measurements for where the arrow is pointing to easier complete these levels, because if you miss once, forget those three stars. It’s difficult to always get three stars, but at least the restart button is near when you need it. This game is so challenging that I had to reset some levels over ten times on just the first world. The levels are designed well, I must say.
Solutions are Available — for a Price
It’s likely that you’ll get stuck on a level and that’s okay. You could always skip the level, but it’s not a good idea to admit defeat too often because the game only allows three free skips. Or you could view the solution to that level, but that’s also limited to two uses. After those have been used up, you can buy more in exchange for coins, which start at $1.99 for 1,500 and that’ll get you five solutions or the same amount of skips. You can always get 1,000 for Liking the game on Facebook, but that will only get you two solutions.
So yes, like many other iOS games, advancing to the next level comes with a price. Some would even go so far as to call this cheating, but it looks like, if anything, the player is being cheated. Any way to get some extra money for the game you’ve already purchased, the developer conspires. It’s understandable, but never honorable no matter the market; iOS is just more known for such things. So if you want to beat this game, either spend a lot of money on it — really, the price for skips and solutions is expensive — or complete them like you should. There are no solution cards like in Rush Hour.
On occasion, you’ll encounter a green square box with a star on it. No, it won’t give you invincibility. These boxes are to be meddled with: they add 5,000 points to your overall score for the level. Most of the time it’s hard to get a grenade down the hole, over the wall or around whatever else that conceals the box, but that’s the point: a challenge. If you know your friends are better than you, try grabbing the boxes on every level. That’ll raise your score, so long as you can destroy the enemies as well.
Touchy Control Scheme
The browser version of Fragger is controlled by the mouse which can be moved with precision, usually. The iPad adaption isn’t quite as easy to control, however. It’s often that pointing dragging a finger from the bottom of the screen fails to register with the game correctly and will not allow for correct throwing of the grenade. This is especially troublesome when a level is nearly complete, but one more grenade is to be thrown.
To effectively control Fragger, it’s best to drag from the top of the screen up. Make sure your finger isn’t all the way at the top of the screen though because that’ll also cause trouble. The middle ground isn’t what it should be either, so it’s best to start a little above the front-facing camera as a start. Even when you’re used to the control scheme, it can turn on you, so pay attention.
No Retina Optimization as Advertised
Any app that’s been out for a while should have been updated with optimization for the Retina iPad, which was released in March of this year. Fragger fails at its promise of modern-day “HD” graphics. The developer has even, for some odd reason, decided to add “Amazing Retina Graphics” to one of the images on the game’s App Store page. This is deceiving as the game does not offer such a feature.
There would be little lag in the game if it was updated for the Retina display so I see no reason why the app has not been updated since January (before the new iPad was released). Hopefully the developer corrects its wrong of false advertising. The app costs $2.99, after all.
Puzzling, Explosive Fun
Fragger was brought to the iPad the same year it came to the iPhone, but it should be much more playable on a large screen. The controls can be irritating and inaccurate and the lack of Retina optimization uncalled for, yet this game still goes beyond the call of duty in entertainment. It would take days to beat all its levels with three stars — even one.
Puzzling levels that challenge the player are what make a game truly great and Fragger HD succeeds in delivering many a challenge. Miniclip’s classic is still great on the iPad, despite the aforementioned issues.