Mack Masher is one mean molar out for revenge, a bunch of candies killed his best friend — by beating him to death in the park with a baseball bat — and this ill-tempered tooth is none too pleased. He’s got the guns — he’s got the skills — and he’s got the rage to see him through his divine mission, and pretty soon candies everywhere will learn once and for all that they can’t handle the tooth! Thus goes the setup to Sweet Revenge (out now, free), a game where a gun-toting tooth repels down the sides of buildings and shoots every last piece of armed terrorist-candy inside (until there’s finally no one left to ask questions).

screen1 (1)I want to get this out of the way right now: I actually did enjoy this game — despite the mid-range score listed above — the problem is that Sweet Revenge is currently riddled with a quite few holes that really needs to be filled in by a skilled dentist. The game is fully playable as it currently stands, but — due to these various issues — the learning curve to mastering Sweet Revenge is currently far higher than I think Alan Thomas ever intended. The worst of these is probably the game’s tutorial, which — for reasons I’ll cover further down — is woefully inadequate at explaining Sweet Revenge’s game play mechanics (so I apologize in advance if there’s something I failed to properly understand).

When Sweet Revenge begins you’ll find yourself — hanging from a rope — at the top of a candy filled establishment, at which point you can swing either left or right by tilting your iDevice in the relevant direction (with the angle of tilt also controlling your speed). You can additionally repel down a floor — but never back up — by swiping down on your iDevice’s screen, in the process Mack will kick out the windows directly below him as he slides down (which will also automatically take out anyone that happened to be inside). In particular, I really enjoyed how — during all of this — the portion of rope hanging directly below Mack would dynamically swing wildly about in reaction to your confectionary cleansing efforts.

Now here’s where things get a bit more complicated: Mack’s shooting mechanic — assuming his gun is currently loaded — is automatically carried out, but only if certain conditions are first met. Mack will always shoot whenever he’s next to a window either filled with glass, or next to an open window with an enemy inside, but only if something hasn’t recently interrupted him. Unfortunately — once Mack has been interrupted — either from taking damage, or by emptying his gun, he won’t start shooting again until after he first moves away from the window he is currently hanging next to.

screen3Furthermore, players will need to be sure they keep an eye on Mack’s reserve ammo — especially dealing with the extra hardy Peppermints — as he does not automatically reload his gun upon running out. Although extra ammo is always free, you’ll need to manually order Mack to reload his gun — which is accomplished either by shaking your device, or by tapping the gun icon in the lower left — whenever he happens to run out. During this reloading period you’ll be completely defenseless, which means you’ll need to be sure to steer Mack away from any harm until he’s finished filling his guns up with fresh justice.

There will also be some objects that Mack won’t automatically shoot at, but instead will only destroy whenever you manually tap them (and you don’t even have to be next to these objects for this to happen). These include hanging flower pots — which never get in your way, but do have a chance to drop grenades and tickets after being destroyed — as well as air conditioners, which must be destroyed in order to attack any hiding criminals. Finally, tossing out one of your limited grenades — which can be done via tapping an on screen button — will cause the eradication of every single enemy that is visibly present on the same floor as you (as well all bits of destructible scenery).

Anyways — basic game play mechanics aside — your first goal is to cause as much as chaos as possible before you either run out of time, or lose all three of your hearts (which restore either when you find a rare heart power-up, or after you finish the current stage). The chief methods available for extending the time-limit are either clearing out all the enemies present on the current level before descending, or via the hour glasses that enemies sometimes drop. Although you technically don’t have to obliterate every last candy to finish each stage, you really just need to keep swiping down until you reach the ground floor (that said, finishing the level doesn’t reset your time limit in the slightest).

screen4Your second — and perhaps even more important goal — is to collect as many shiny coins as possible, as you’ll need these to improve your arsenal (and, depending on your personal preferences, also to stockpile up on additional grenades and/or lottery tickets). Therefore — although you certainly could rush to next stage quickly just by doing nothing but constantly swiping straight down — you’re going to want to smash and blast as many objects as you can, as this is your primary method for causing coins to pop into existence.

Your other methods for finding coins are to either scratch off Sweet Revenge’s lottery tickets (which I’ll cover later on), or to partake in the Gummy Rampage mini-game that can be found at the bottom of each building.

When you reach the bottom of a building you’ll see gummy bears freely roaming about, and this is something that your anti-confectionary rage simply won’t tolerate to continue existing. At this point you’ll be given access to an infinite stockpile of grenades, which can be tossed anywhere you like in an attempt to incinerate the many bastions of sugary evil strolling by. You’ll want to do this — even though the timing on hitting them can be awkward — as gummy bears are extremely likely to drop things like coins and grenades, yet the amount of targets available will be based on how many floors you fully cleared. Therefore — especially early on — your goal will be to first clear out as many floors as you realistically have time for, and then quickly rush down to the building’s bottom — kicking candy along the way — in order to commence the Gummy Rampage before time run out.

By the way, I also particularly liked the fact that at the bottom of each building — should you ever reach it — is a dynamically generated pile of every enemy you’ve kicked – every bullet casing you’ve ejected – and every bit of scenery you’ve destroyed during that run.

Anyways — getting back to topic once more — all of what I’ve said so far is purely what I presume to be how Sweet Revenge was meant to be played, since I was otherwise utterly unable to glean anything of value from the game’s tutorial. The problem with the tutorial — which the game only ever lets you see once — is that it never pauses, during which time the game itself is also actively playing behind the tutorial itself. Due to this — for one reason or another — I ended up missing more than half of the game’s tutorial, there really should both be a way to both repeat the tutorial and to not have it auto-advance itself.

screen5Another really annoying thing is that enemies give absolutely no warning as to when they’re about to attack, meaning that — more often than not — I would frequently die from being hit by an enemy that began shooting just before I could attack him. While any candy that you shoot first will be unable to fight back, thanks to them now being stunned, the game always gives preference to the enemy if they begin shooting at the last second. Unfortunately there is absolutely no warning that an enemy is seconds away from shooting, which is why I really think the developer should consider having an exclamation mark — or something — flash above any candy whom is about to open fire.

A further issue — that I presume to be a bug of some sort — is that you’ll occasionally find a window that Mack fails to recognize, meaning that he’ll never shoot at it no matter how many times you swing by (and worse yet, not even if there’s an enemy hiding behind it). This is especially annoying since clearing out floors is your primary method of adding time back to the clock, but discovering the last enemy on a floor is fundamentally invincible means that all the time you’ve spent on that floor so far was utterly wasted. Currently the only way to eradicate these invincible enemies is through your mighty grenades, but these are a limited resource whose stockpile doesn’t reset between separate game play sessions.

You probably won’t want to be frivolously spending your hard earned coins on these grenades — however — as it can take a very long time for you to grind up enough of them for you to buy a new gun, or even purchase your next weapon upgrade. Now this might initially sound like the recipe for a developer expecting someone to shell out an infinite amount of money just to make any progress, but that’s not exactly true in Sweet Revenge. Although the game is definitely a bit on the grindy side, the biggest IAP package available — valued at only $4.99 — already contains double the amount of gold you’d need in order too immediately add Sweet Revenge’s ultimate weapon to Mack’s arsenal.

By the way, one of your primary means for acquiring gold — when not using IAPs — will actually be the lottery tickets that I previously mentioned, which — as already stated — can easily be found either by smashing gummies or flower pots. While it’s initially novel that the game lets you manually scratch these off using your finger, this will quickly become a tedious process (especially when you have a sizeable back log to go through). Although definitely not the worst of problems in Sweet Revenge, Alan Thomas should probably consider adding a button that lets you instantly scratch off your current lottery ticket.

I would like to take a moment to reiterate — with the review almost done — that I actually did enjoy my time spent with Sweet Revenge, the game play is usually fun — when it works correctly — and I also appreciated the many touches of humor sprinkled all about. The chief problem is that — due to the many little nuances in how the gun mechanics work — Sweet Revenge ends up having a rather steep learning curve, which is further aggravated by the game’s unhelpful tutorial. While the game definitely has a solid foundation so far, it would be far easier for me to give Sweet Revenge a much higher recommendation if the various issues — as well as some bugs — were all tightened up.

iFanzine Verdict: Sweet Revenge is a game with amusing game play — and a lot of humor sprinkled about — but currently needs a serious trip to the dentist, as the game otherwise has some holes that really need to be filled in and/or smoothed out. It’s not bad — per se — especially since the game is otherwise being offered for absolutely free, and yet Sweet Revenge has the potential to be far better if Alan ever patches it all up.