Welcome to Pogue’s Rated:App series. Each week, I install whatever is the No. 1 app on the iOS or Android store and review it, to save you the effort in case it’s a turkey!
This week, the No. 1 most downloaded free app on Android store is a newly released game called Impossible Bottle Flip. (It’s also available for iPhone, although it’s not No. 1. It’s not even in the top 200.) It’s a sequel to an earlier, also popular game, called Water Bottle Flip Challenge 2. (Editor’s note: As of publication, Impossible Bottle Flip was the fourth most-downloaded free app on the Android store. It was No. 1 as of Tuesday, April 24.)
Bottle flipping, in case you were wondering, “is an activity and a challenge that involves throwing a plastic water bottle, typically full or partially full of liquid, into the air so that it rotates, in an attempt to land it upright on its bottom. It became an international trend in 2016, with numerous videos of people attempting the activity being posted online.” (Thank you, Wikipedia!)
That’s all the background you need to understand Impossible Bottle Flip, the game. It’s a standard side-scroller: Your cartoon water bottle keeps tumbling off to the right, propelled by gravity, some version of physics, and your finger taps. Each tap launches another flip.
How it works
The goal is to flip the bottle onto various household objects (chair, couch, vacuum cleaner handle, and so on), keeping it in motion, until you reach a finish-line shelf. If you miss landing the bottle, it falls to the floor, and you’re out; you have to start again from the beginning of the level.
There’s nothing to it but timing. You can’t control how hard, high, or far you flip the bottle, and you have no other decisions to make besides when to tap the screen.
Even so, it’s really hard to master IBF. It’ll take you a bunch of tries in each level to get through it without muffing.
And that’s the problem.
The nightmare of commercialism
Impossible Bottle Flip is difficult, not actually impossible. But you may find it impossible to tolerate.
That’s because this game is crawling with commercials. I don’t mean splash-screen ads that you can dismiss with a tap; I mean 10- or 15-second video ads that you must sit through before you’re allowed to proceed. Most are ads for other games.
You have to endure another ad every three rounds or so, and you have to watch two before you can advance to the next level.
You can pay $3 to upgrade to an ad-free version of the game.
I guess some people have the tolerance for all the ad-waiting. (As one customer says on the Google Play store, where the game has only a 3.9 average: “Everyone Hating on this game Your just Mad do Deal with it! This Games freaking Amazing.”)
But I’ll bet you can find better, less crassly commercial free games for your phone. Impossible Bottle Flip feels like it’s 60% flipping, and 40% flipping out—from the obnoxiousness of the ads.
David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance, welcomes non-toxic comments in the comments below. On the web, he’s davidpogue.com. On Twitter, he’s @pogue. On email, he’s firstname.lastname@example.org. You can sign up to get his stuff by email, here.
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