“You thought the hardest part of bagging groceries was paper or plastic? Think again!”
Developer: Hidden Variable Studios
Publisher: Hidden Variable Studios
Platform(s): iPhone, iPad, Android
Release Date: Nov 17, 2011
Since the phenomenon that was Angry Birds; app developers have been looking for their own level and star-based games that could capture gamers’ interests in a way that was not only fun and challenging, but pushed you to complete the game in its entirety, and with Bag It! they’ve emulated that formula with exceptionally addictive results.
You thought the hardest part of bagging groceries was paper or plastic? Think again! Here the aim of the game, at first, is to stack groceries with the heavier items residing at the bottom and the lighter ones towards the top. It might sound simple at first, but when you’re dealing with a very limited workspace, sometimes shifting them around can result in damaged goods. Of course the first few levels are pretty simple, as is to be expected, and you’re fooled into thinking the game is going to be plain sailing – that is until time limits, limited breakages and multiple bags are thrown your way.
It then becomes a mish-mash of Tetris meets Jenga as you attempt to slot items next to each other, all the while making sure none topple over or crush one another in the process. Sometimes you’ll fill a bag to the top and be left with two or three items and you’re sat thinking to yourself ‘how in the world am I supposed to find room for these?’ and then after multiple attempts you do it and those feeling’s of anguish turn into ones of accomplishment and you begin the next level with a renewed determination.
As with similar games of this nature, it’s not just enough to complete the level, you also have to complete offbeat challenges along the way that somewhat contradict your ultimate goal. It’s here where many of the frustrations and indeed the games lifespan lie. For example, as you reach the second level set the aim of the game is flipped and it’s a case of breaking as many items as possible in the quickest time, and whilst doing that you’re tasked with saving some of the most fragile– namely eggs – that are in-play and unavoidable from the offset. It’s only quick fingers, a quick brain and a healthy dollop of patience that will see you through what at first seem like impossible tasks.
When the third level set rolls around however and you have to rearrange items so that none break and they all remain upright you constantly have to move and rotate groceries simultaneously and this is where the frustrations grow as the rotation system is incredibly flawed. It’s almost as if half of the time your finger movements aren’t registering and maybe being able to double tap groceries in order to spin them would be a more accessible solution.
In addition to the single player progression you can also test your bagging skills against others on the Online Leaderboards in three separate modes, my favourite of which is Endless Rampage, where the schizophrenic soda bottle ‘Fizzy’ really comes into his own - exploding upon heavy impact, when shakentoo vigorously, or out of sheer impatience. The aim here is to destroy as many groceries as possible before the timer runs out and with the right placements and explosive combinations you can really rack up some pretty impressive scores.
If this game is to be criticised it mainly comes from the lack of variety in groceries, which is something you especially notice towards the later levels. There are however more levels ‘Coming Soon!’ so perhaps that’s something they’ll be looking to address in future updates. There’s also a daft addition to the end of each level whereby you’re supposed to tilt your phone left and right to balance and sort the groceries, but this hardly has any real bearing on anything and feels tacked on in an effort to add some form of motion mechanic to proceedings.
Continuing with the criticisms there are a few hit detection bugs here and there that allow some groceries to be half-placed over one another, or half out of the bag, making some tough levels actually that bit easier, which many won’t complain about, but I’m sure it wasn’t the intention of the guys over at Hidden Variable Studios, who will have hoped such issues were ironed out before release.The loading times can also feel a little lethargic on occasion and the un-skippable intro’s - explaining basic functionality - can be a real bugbear after multiple level attempts.
Despite these downsides this is a game where the good far outweighs any small gripes I may have, and I’d even go as far to say playing Bag It! is one of the most fun and time-lapsing experiences I’ve had in a long while on not just an Apple product,but on any mobile device in general. Anyway, I must dash, as I have a couple more stars to collect in my unfaltering quest for one-hundred percent completion.
Craig Bryan, NoobFeed