Did you know that you can download handheld games now? That's amazingly convenient! The only inconvenient part of it is finding the right games to buy -- and that's where we come in, with our Portabliss column. In each installment, we'll tell you about a downloadable game on the iPhone, iPad, Android device, DSi, 3DS, PSP, etc. Today: Bag It!.
At first I dismissed Bag It! -- a game about safely and quickly filling grocery bags -- because it seemed way too simple. Early levels give you just a few different items, including watermelons, milk, and eggs, and there's not really any problem with arranging them into grocery bags. Make sure the egg cartons don't have three watermelons on top, pretty much. After each level, gravity and physics click on and you have to rotate the phone to help the items settle without squishing one another.
But playing on, I found that developer Hidden Variable Studios worked to add variety to the experience in neat ways. First, of course, you start getting more items to try to fit into your bag, like bags of chips and long, thin loaves of bread (all with little happy faces). And then, when you've seemingly mastered the art of arranging groceries so they won't crush each other, you unlock a set of levels about crushing as many items as you can. That is followed with a set of challenging puzzle levels in which you have to rearrange already-placed items without damaging a single one.
It's a boastworthy achievement for a game about something as banal as filling grocery bags to be the source of surprise, but Hidden Variable managed to keep the experience fresh. And in honor of that, I'll stop here before I turn that adjective into a food joke.
Bag It! is available on iTunes for iPhone for .99, with a separate "HD" version also available for .99. An Android version is on the Android Market for $1.99. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.