Toast Time is a charming pixelated shooter that gets jammed up with its own hectic mechanics. (Rating: 3 out of 5 stars)
Most of the time when you're shooting things in video games, you know exactly where the shots will come from. The game might be a first-person shooter, with projectiles firing from a gun in your hands directly to the center of the screen, where your aiming reticle or gun's sights are. Or you might control a character that's always in the center of the screen, firing toward its edges. But Toast Time burns that idea right off your toast, since every time you shoot your character is propelled around the screen in the opposite direction.
In Toast Time, from British developer Force of Habit, you control Terry the Toaster, and you must use your toasted breads to stop, uh, little blob things from getting to the alarm clock, or else it won't go off, and you'll wake up late.
But the momentum of each shot propels you in the opposite direction. Up, down, diagonally, wherever you want to go, you can fire toast to get there. Along the way, you'll pick up crates of different breads to toast, giving your projectiles different patterns and properties. Bagels spread out, crumpets will bounce around the map, etc.
That primary mechanic is what makes Toast Time interesting. Not only do you have to aim at and hit the evil blobs, but you have to keep Terry out of tight spots. This adds a frantic and random element to the game that changes it from a casual screen poker to a full attention grabber.
The randomness—and that's what it feels like, unless you're really good at geometry—that the kickback from launching toast adds is fun, but in later levels it can become frustrating. The difficulty ramps up, and sometimes you have a very small window in which to figure out what's going on before one of the blobs runs into your alarm clock and ends the whole thing. I often found myself looking at a "Round Over" screen and wondering just what had happened.
Toast Time uses the standard three-star method of progression that Angry Birds and many other mobile games are known for. One star for completion, two for doing a good job, and three for totally nailing it. But the problem here is the action is so fast and chaotic that if you get 3 stars it often feels like total chance.
That said, the game starts out fun, and the charming aesthetic does a lot to enhance the experience.
The art style is definitely a retro pixel look, but aside from the backgrounds everything is stark white. The background art is fun, though, and changes from zone to zone. The foreground art—Terry, the blobs, and the crates—manages to still be easy to keep separate. The toaster is sometimes zipping around so fast that it can be hard to spot, but it isn't easily confused with other objects. The music is retro as well, but tends toward the whimsy of old NES games instead of the thumping chiptunes we hear a lot of lately.
There's also a heavy dose of humor to enjoy. You can decorate your toaster with things like top hats, monocles, kung fu-style headbands, and staves, as well as facial expressions in case you prefer that your battle toaster be more grim about its task.
Toast Time isn't Force of Habit's first game, but it is their first game to his iOS. While it does get frustrating in later sections, it's still a fun, unique mechanic and worth checking out.
- Toast Time
- Developer: Force of Habit
- Platforms: iOS (played), Android
- Price: $2.99
- In-App Purchases? No