Maze+ is an interesting game at some levels. At a personal level though, it left us in tears.
The idea is simple enough – lead your cute little dude through a maze. The maze is interesting in that it doesn’t all fit on the screen at once, so you need to pan around through the maze to figure out the right direction to go. Solving it backwards is pretty easy because it only branches from the start point. From the end point of the maze, there are few decisions that need to be made to solve it.
But that tidbit is lost on a 6 year old.
The 6 year old enjoys the challenge of solving a maze that’s too big to fit on the screen at one time! And they are delighted when they get a gem that you couldn’t see from the starting point! And even happier when those gems are turned into coins and then they can buy a hat or backpack for their cute little dude with the coins!
Until one day, when they upgrade their cute little dude to the green cute little dude and find out that now they need a whole new set of accessories for the green guy. The yellow guy’s hat and backpack don’t transfer over to the green guy. This realization lead to a lot of tears and pleading to go along with the upsell.
And by upsell, I mean, about 50% of the UI leads you to a page where you can spend real money for their pretend coins. We’ve stayed away from Smurfberries and other types of these apps, because we want the screen time experience to be about exercising the mind, instead of fueling an addiction in a virtual world.
I had warned Sal about how the game wasn’t that much fun, because they are trying to trick us into giving them money. And he was very unthrilled about the extent to which they would try and push your patience over the edge and get you to spend money instead of doing 15 more busywork mazes.
So we switched apps to try and get in a better mood. Battleship didn’t sound appealing. Neither did Casey’s Contraptions. I think he didn’t want to have to think any more since that side of his brain was frustrated. So we went back to Draw 1-2-3 and drew some robots.
And things were right again.
So, I think this validated our aversion to the freemium add-on type games, with heavy upsells that prey on people lack of patience/need for instant gratification. Which is a little sad, cause the guy was cute and the mazes could be more fun with a couple of tweaks. And the multiplayer aspect of it was really interesting, because there were some dramatic chase scenes between our two characters, even though they were walking relatively slowly…