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Joy uncontained

Product: Bucketz | Developer: Picnic Hippo | Publisher: Picnic Hippo | Format: iPhone | Genre: Arcade | Players: 1 | File size: 218MB | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1
Bucketz iPhone, thumbnail 1
Trying hard to be liked is a dangerous game. It tends to result either in people appreciating the effort and liking you all the more, or simply finding you incredibly annoying.

Bucketz walks a precarious line between the two, but its varied gameplay just about pulls it through.

Whether you can stand to be in its company in the long term will, we suspect, be a matter of taste.

Juggling act

The game itself is kind of an elaboration on the Fruit Ninja format. Objects whizz across your screen, and you need pinpoint reaction times to pick them out out.

In contrast with the fire-and-forget approach of Halfbrick's classic, though, the slashing is just the start. You don't destroy the objects at this stage - you pluck them out of the air and place or fling them into buckets of assorted sizes along the bottom of the screen.

There's a ridiculous number of things to think about, which is a large part of Bucketz's appeal - but also what might turn some people off.

Bucket list

You have to consider the size of the buckets in relation to the objects - a watermelon isn't going to fit in a small bucket. You also have to consider the angle of your throw, as there's a rudimentary physics engine at play.

Most of all, you have to consider the matter of balance. Someone, in their wisdom, stacked these buckets up along a precariously balanced plank of wood. Throw too many objects to one side and you'll tip the whole lot up.

Add in various power-ups and power-downs, boss levels that require you to hammer on said guardian in-between bouts of object management, and the need to literally juggle heavier objects until you can positively unbalance your buckets in preparation, and you have a very busy game.

There's a dizzying array of elements on display, which is a testament to the developer's imagination. But it's almost too much of a good thing. The way in which you're bombarded with new elements is tiring - as is the humour.

Hits and misses

Going back to our intro, Bucketz tries its damnedest to be funny. Sometimes it succeeds. Sometimes it doesn't. The Buckets themselves are anthropomorphic caricatures - there's the nerdy one, the dense Stallone one, the annoying kid one. And they don't. Stop. Talking.

Each launches a stream of one-liners in your direction prior to every level. At first it's amusing, but before too long we found it deeply irritating - especially when having to replay a tricky boss level multiple times.

More successful is the sarcastic commentator who adds a welcome dose of colour to the role of level tutor. Again, his attempts at wit aren't often laugh out loud funny, but they're enacted with enough conviction and originality that we found his presence oddly refreshing.

Bucketz tries so hard to be likeably quirky that we can't help but welcome it in with a pat on the back. But its overeagerness to make an impression - both in terms of its hectic gameplay and its attempts at humour - makes it hard to love.

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Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 3 August 2012
Bucketz is a hyperactive game full to the brim of bright ideas, but its attempts at variation and humour can be a little overwhelming
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