Icy Tower is a Facebook game that launched earlier this month, patterned after the old Nintendo title, Ice Climbers. If you’ve heard of Icy Towers before, it’s because the game has established itself as a downloadable Flash and mobile app — it’s been downloaded more than 20 million times.
The concept is to climb up something exceedingly tall; in this case, a tower. Players create an avatar and jump. Yes, just jump. The object is to climb as high as you can before the platforms you are standing on collapse and fall. As you ascend, coins are placed in strategically risky areas, which can be skipped but are needed to make in-game purchases.
Of all said purchases, the most fun involved clothing for the creation of a personal avatar for Icy Tower. With a hip-hop-meets-Saturday-morning-cartoon style, the characters felt very unique and interesting to look at. Furthermore, the initial set of items, combined with an enticing visual style creates an almost addictive need to purchase the better clothing (for the record, the pirate hat is awesome). Unfortunately, the rate at gaining coins to purchase said items is a bit slow and repetitive.
As with most Facebook games, the in-game currency can be purchased or earned through offers, but the vast majority of players will seek to do so the old fashioned way: Through direct play. As players collect the floating coins in each level and unlock trophies/achievements their digital wallet will fatten.
But the game does tend to be a little redundant. You see, users begin with one and only one tower. The “Classic Tower.” Evidently, the term “classic” is a synonym for plain, because it gets very boring, very quick.
Herein lies one of the key points about the game’s currency. There are two other towers themed with a respective disco and jungle style, which, by the looks of things have special objects to enhance game-play. Such items are fantastic to have, but said towers must be unlocked using the same resource as the avatar clothing – with coins, and a lot of them.
This creates a bit of a conundrum. In order to be more fun, players must earn coins, but in order to earn coins, players must play the more drab level over and over again or opt to spend real cash. Granted, there are some different types of platforms higher up in the Classic Tower, but it still feels a bit redundant.
All that said, the game does have a few other notably good parts to its design. One of the cooler social features is that competing friends are more than just icons. Their avatars are actually part of your game. Once you pass them, its time to wave good-bye, as they plummet to the depths below. Is it creepy to find amusement in that? Furthermore, the game does have some pretty cool jump combos that can be performed for greater height and distance. Unfortunately, it is a bit unclear as how to perform such combinations and this leads to a lot of deaths when trying to recreate them. Expectantly, this leads to a lot of frustration early on for your average casual user.
Despite a handful of problems, however, Icy Tower is off to a good start. As we’ve covered on our Top 20 up-and-coming games list, the game gainedmore than 250,000 users recently week, and currently has 527,000 MAUs. Suffice to say, the game has become popular with a number of Facebook players with its fun visual style, customization, and basic game play. Is it perfect? The game, made by Free Lunch Design, part of Swedish Flash game studio Muskedunder Interactive, is already off to a good start. So long as user input is listened too, it can only do better.