Review: Bobby Carrot series
Attila writes: Java games have arguably been around longer than Symbian games, they are far more numerous and, in my opinion, they are quickly decreasing the once so obvious gap in quality between games written for these two platforms. It is high time to meet a real Java royalty: Bobby Carrot.
Bobby Carrot is probably the longest running java game series in mobile gaming history, which is a real a feat in such a huge and unfortunately deluded and over-saturated market. Since 2004, this little rabbit has given the thinking mobile gamer more than 530 puzzling levels so far and he doesn’t seem to be losing any steam.
It all started with German developer FDG Soft’s cute little bunny and his brain teasing levels of problem-solving in two different game modes: the first 30 levels saw him collecting (seemingly) endless number of juicy carrots while in the second mode he had to place Easter Eggs before going for the exit of another 20 maps. In this heroic undertaking, he faced various dangerous and not so dangerous obstacles, including walls that spin 90 degrees after walking between them, traps growing spikes after stepping off them, one way conveyor belts, remote control switches, coloured padlocks and keys. Your only help – besides yourself of course – is the centre button, which enables you to look around the map without moving a step, with Bobby this way giving you the opportunity to plan ahead, which is a key to being victorious in the game.
The game was an instant hit not just because of its well-balanced puzzles, straightforward controls and easy to understand rules, but also its sharp and friendly graphics and catchy original tunes. The whole captivating experience was screaming for a sequel and it arrived in the form of Bobby Carrot 2: Winterland.
This second episode brought along another 30 levels of collecting mayhem (this time, stars - obviously, you can’t pick carrots in the winter) with the now familiar obstacles and a few new ones for good measure. Slippery ice paths were introduced and so were ice-cube roadblocks that can be defrosted with a laser beam and fixed positioned mirrors that you can spin to control the laser beam. A background story about a captured squirrel friend and the text-only help added little to no extra flare to the game, but they didn’t really get in the way either. Exactly as in the first episode, you had to finish the current level before you could advance to the next one. One might say it’s an annoying thing if you get stuck with a particularly difficult level, I say it’s part of the charm of this title. The magic was there, the puzzles were there, the presentation was there, all paving the way for a third episode.
Bobby Carrot 3: Evolution was exactly what it said in the title: evolution. Bobby has evolved, he has learned scuba diving and learned floating on large waterlily leaves. It was obviously a summer title, all the ice-related obstacles are gone, not carrot season but lots of swimming in refreshing ponds and surfing on one-way currents of water that you could reverse in direction with underwater pressure pads. The graphics got even cuter, and a new system of map packages appeared with 3 levels of difficulty indicators. Just like in previous episodes, there was a high score list to show the time and number of steps it had taken to finish each level and there was a short help text about the game controls – this time with no story. For the first time, there was a detailed description for each game element, with pictures too, probably because the list of these items was getting so long. This was the first episode to offer the choice of six languages for menus and the help screen. Bobby was clearly gaining more and more momentum with every new episode and not just because of a new vehicle in the next episode.
The fourth instalment brought even more features, showing clear signs of growth in the franchise. The biggest new element in Bobby Carrot 4: Flower Power was the Bazaar, where you could spend coins you could collect while going through the levels on new level packs, new background music, picture pieces for the final screen of congratulations and useful tools like shoes that make you walk faster or a magnifying glass that shows you where hidden coins are. At certain points you were also offered to gamble with your coins, with risking three coins and choosing one of three chests to win nothing, win back the three coins you risked or win six coins.
Level packs with a difficulty indicator proved to be a welcome idea last time so they were here in this episode too and so were the carrots. The Easter Eggs from the first episode re-appeared too this time as flowers, with one little change: while the Easter Eggs (right after deploying them) became obstacles straight away, flowers did the same only after a couple of seconds of budding. A couple of new obstacles were introduced (as in every episode so far), this time in the form of three colour-coded roadblocks that you can turn on and off with their own remote control switches and a lawnmower which comes very handy to mow the grass, otherwise too tall for you to walk through. Your vehicle can also ram into rocks if you pick up some speed from a conveyor belt, destroying in this way a previously indestructible blockage.
As last time, you needed to pick up a scuba diving kit before you could start swimming, this time you need to find petrol first before jumping on the lawnmower. In this episode, there is no swimming, no ice blocks, laser beams or padlocks so the water current switches were moved to the ground too. I have mentioned hidden coins that you could reveal with the lawnmower, you can also uncover hidden spots where you have to plant flowers – which is vital, because you can’t finish a level without collecting all the carrots or planting all the flowers on the map. This was the first episode to get rid of the high score list.
The last episode of Bobby Carrot (no, not the latest one, the final one – there won’t be episode six) was released in 2007. FDG Soft decided that they "have found the final format of the game, the best set of obstacles which provides the most opportunity to create the best puzzles for Bobby fans". Plenty of superlatives in that sentence and that is no accident. Although Bobby Carrot 5: Forever is really the final episode in the series, the developers did all the forward thinking with more than three years of experimenting with different items and game modes and were confident enough to make this episode with its features the one that lasts (hopefully, as the titles says: forever).
Episode 5 had four levelpacks of various difficulties and the idea was that new levelpacks are to be released every month using the same features (graphics, obstacles etc) as the first batch of maps of this final part. Up until today, there were 30 packages released in two different ways: you can buy packs of four maps as separate games or, if you have the download-enabled version, you can download three new packages every month and store up to ten packs on your phone at any given time. Whichever way you play the game, there are loads of new items to keep players busy playing.
First, the items missing from this episode (because it is a much shorter list): no high scores, no background story, no padlocks, no scuba diving and no gambling; stars are now definitely carrots, flowers are definitely eggs, Bazaar is called Beaver Shop and laser beams have been replaced with a fireball spitting dragon (which might take up twice as much space but looks a LOT cooler). Everything else is back, plus the following list of new features.
- 4 distinctive skins, so you can play in a forest, a desert, a snow covered area or in dream land on clouds, each with a decent number of passive objects so those hundreds of levels won’t start looking the same any time soon
- Bonus maps, where you have to find a hidden Golden Carrot in a fixed time limit. These carrots can be used online to purchase special Bobby Carrot related items, like the soundtrack in MP3 format, desktop wallpapers, drawings or a PC version of Bobby Carrot 3: Evolution
- In the shop, now you can buy train tickets, one will take you to Dream Land, the other will take you to Cloud 9. Since these are purchase items, I won’t tell you what they do, buy them and you’ll see :)
- You can also buy the new Golden Key, which will open you the door of the Bonus levels – if you don’t have the key, you have to pay 3 coins just to be given the opportunity of trying to find the hidden Golden Carrot
- Another new item in the shop is the Music Player. It opens up a new option on the main menu where you can listen to all the background music in the game, including the ones you have bought in the shop so far
New in-game items are:
- the shovel, use this to clear away blocks of snow in your way
- mobile coloured clouds, which can be formed in new paths to connect otherwise unconnected clouds; once they meet a frame of their own colour, they stop
- colour coded, fixed position wind machines to get those mobile clouds moving
- waterfall, which moves your waterlily downwards but is unaffected by the water current switch pads
- beans, which you can plant at given positions to build a pre-defined length of bean stalk, so you can climb up on it as if it were a ladder
- wooden platforms, which break after you step off them. They might hide other obstacles
- glider, which you can use to fly between a tornado and any of the four nearest landing points in the four directions you can move. The glider will fly above anything and everything but be careful because it doesn’t work from a landing to a tornado, only the other way around
Even if you think replayability is close to nothing once you have solved a puzzle, there are enough challenges here and there is definitely enough charm in the game to make it well worth the money. After you have played this game, you will surely understand why I’m so biased towards this particular series, one which has proved to be so popular that development is under way to bring Bobby to other platforms too.
Attila Katona, All About Symbian, 7 August 2008
Reviewed by Attila Katona at