By granderojo 2 Comments
When I first played Middle Manager of Justice on my aging off-contract now defunct iPhone 3G I liked it on a rather superficial level. Not having seen all the systems having only spent a lot of time in the early aughts importing and loving weird restaurant management rhythm games alongside playing lots of sims on the PCs, I was picking up what Double Fine was putting down. That iPhone ended up dying before I could get past the opening stages of the game. Fast forward to the Android release, I believe I downloaded it before there were even reviews on the Play store up.
When I first devoted time to playing, I devoted large chunks of time and bought the coin & superium doubler because I wanted to support Double Fine but not ruin my progression by buying too much. It became apparent to me that how I normally play games, isn't how the average mobile user does or should quite frankly. When I shortened my play sessions from one hour to 15 minute chunks, the grind when away and I found the game’s rhythm. Playing for long periods of time results in a warm phone, a lot of waiting and not a lot of decision making which is why you come to a simulation game. As Sid Meier said, simulation games at their core are about giving the player a set of decisions to make. Strip decision making from the simulation and you have a big pile of steaming crap. I still think the rhythm or routine the game creates is not as good as past efforts by the studio with Costume Quest but Double Fine embraced the delectation that arises from the novelty of monotony.
Monotony is often maligned in games, hell in any media routine by it’s nature is a constant source of ridicule. While it can be used for evil, so to speak, monotony can also be interesting. When I was contemplating why shifting from long play sessions to chunks with Middle Manager worked so well, I was hearkened back to my experience with Papers Please. Once a day, I would fire up Papers Please, and devote one run to that day. I was too exhausted after each session to continue with more. When you look at how many people don’t complete games. Developers are constantly commenting at the staggering number of users who don’t complete games. I think this can often be attributed to the fact that games often times take too long to start. Middle Manager gives players routine set of goals with a reasonable set of decision making opportunities to complete those goals and that’s it. Whether this system was by design or not, it's application to a mobile game makes a lot of sense. Not only do games take too long to start but they also expect to much extended periods of time from most player, which on mobile especially most users don't have.
It’s funny that a game that by it’s nature of being free-to-play sets out to waste the time of the majority of it’s users, also happens to waste the least amount of time in the decision making process. That’s something a great deal of pay-to-play games don’t accomplish. The game isn't without faults. Middle Manager suffers from some path-finding bugs usually to do with beds, which don’t affect the game, actually they speed it up the training process by a few seconds so I didn't mind. A few graphical pop-in bugs in combat which again, didn't affect gameplay so it was fine. One bug that is affecting the gameplay has to do with the boss battles. There seems to be an error that occurs where bosses, both Beastfly and wanted-poster gangsters will instantly kill my entire team despite having full health and the villains never actually performing an attack. It doesn't always happen to the gangsters, but it has kept me from beating the Beastfly despite a fully upgraded team(to the coefficient of my progression). The fact that it’s a fluid platform makes me think these bugs will be fixed. These minor annoyances aside, I wholeheartedly recommend it. I've never played a mobile free-to-play that I've enjoyed but Double Fine exceeded my expectations as they often do.