We haven’t yet seen the film “Frozen,” but it seems that everyone else in the free world has. It’s picked up a number of awards in the Best Animated Feature category, and the soundtrack is almost as popular as the movie.
It should therefore come as no surprise that Disney is taking advantage of its success, creating spin-off products, including the Frozen Free Fall app. We were curious to try it, only because we’d heard so much about the film, and we wondered if we would understand the game as easily if we hadn’t previously viewed its inspiration.
Turns out that this app very much resembles predecessors like Bejewelled and Candy Crush, all wrapped in a Frozen package. Although we quickly recognized this fact, we nevertheless gave it a go.
How it works
You’ll get a brief explanation and tutorial when you start to play, but the app probably assumes that most users are familiar with this type of game. If you’re completely in the dark, you can tap on the snowflake in the bottom left-hand corner, which takes you to a settings menu. Here you can adjust the sound, the music, and learn how to play.
It’s all actually quite simple. You have to match up at least three ice crystals to “break” them and score points, and if you manage four or five ice crystals at a time in a line, “T” or “L” shape, you get a “Windchill,” an “Iceberg” or a “Glacier” that can be combined to create some powerful effects and boost your score.
The background features a snowy landscape with mountains, lakes, castles and villages, and you can swipe your way ahead to see where you’ll be going as you make it through each level. You’ll also see a heart in the top right-hand corner with a number on it. This indicates how many lives you have, as each board only allows you so many moves to get to the target score. If you don’t get at least one star (out of a maximum of three), then you lose a life, and you have to try again.
This app, like so many others these days, is a freebie to download but offers a lot of in-app purchases, and that’s how they get ya. Candy Crush Saga is making a fortune for its creators, thanks to people who are so addicted they keep buying lives and other items to help them get through difficult levels and move on. Frozen Free Fall works in much the same way. You can buy lives, and what appear to be snowball packs and ice picks, among other things.
The in-app purchases element seems to be the thing that irks players the most about Frozen Free Fall. They feel that it is too difficult for children to play, an audience you would assume would be the creators’ main focus due to the subject matter, and therefore parents with deep pockets are expected to fork out for assistance when necessary.
You would be amazed how those purchases can mount up over time, so be aware of that fact going in. It doesn’t help that the game makes very satisfying clicking noises every time you break some of those ice crystals. The siren song of Frozen Free Fall.
The further you go along, the more hurdles that will be introduced, which is probably where the snowballs et al come into play. That might be a good time to get out, before you have to reach into your pocket.
When we played
As we have fallen under the spell of Candy Crush, we immediately saw this app for what it was – the same game in disguise. We’ve already sold our soul to the former, so we weren’t keen to get pulled in by the latter. However, in the name of science (and this column), we realized we had to give it a try.
Sure enough, we were already at the end of level 5 when we found out that we had unlocked the “Ice Pick,” and we were keen to find out what it did. We were officially sucked into Frozen Free Fall until we had to go and get some food or risk starvation.
Yes, this is a very nice looking app, and yes, it’s fun to play and free at the beginning, but it’s tough to recommend yet another game that makes it almost impossible at times to move through to the next level without having to pay for something. Of course it takes work to create apps, and the people who sell them should be able to make money somehow, but there’s something insidious about these in-app purchase ones that are becoming more and more prevalent in the iTunes store.
By all means give it a go, but if you’re going to let your children play it, make sure they don’t have the password to your iTunes account. While we’re at it, after Candy Crush Saga, we’re inclined to get our friend to change our password and not tell us until we’ve learned to control ourselves.
- Pros: Free. Attractive graphics. Familiar game rules. Pleasant music.
- Cons: In-app purchases are the devil.
- Frozen Free Fall
- Cost: Free
- Seller: Walt Disney
- Devices: Android and iOS
- Rating: E for Everyone
- Two and a half stars