Kill the Fly craps out

It’s game day, and today’s bottom line addresses Kill the Fly: Your kids will probably play with it more than you will. Unless you’re a kid.

Kill the Fly

  • Is a good tool for distracting your kids
  • Doesn’t crash
  • Has great, if somewhat gross, graphics

Why would your kids like it more than you?

  • Because it’s mindless and repetitive

Oh, and don’t let them play after eating sandwiches with a lot of peanut butter or mayo.

In addition, I discuss the morality of insecticide, why the obvious solution would ruin games for game developers, why the obvious solution probably wouldn’t be obvious to adolescent boys, and why a formula is a formula whether you substitute peanut butter, horseradish or trolls with vorpal swords.

Oh, and I still haven’t finished Farm Frenzy 2 because the peacocks seem to make it crash even more.


A friend named Faraydoon used to talk to me about the ant infestation at his house. The constant presence of ants posed a moral dilemma for him. He is Zoroastrian (yes, they’re still around and, no, they don’t take the name from a Mexican masked swordsman) but raised in a Hindu family. He was never sure if he should kill the ants for health and safety reasons or learn to coexist with them since they were living beings.

As an Episcopalian by marriage I had no comforting words or alternatives to his dilemma. We believe God tolerates any one who approaches him in good faith. At least this would be the view of the Episcopalians who didn’t bolt because we let gays and women perform the Eucharist. There seems to be a limit to what God tolerates.

Being raised a Baptist Preacher’s Kid, however, I can also tell you what my deep rooted Baptist beliefs were saying: “Nuke ’em. They can’t be saved anyway.”

This seems to reflect the feelings of the developers at Playsteria, only their pest of choice is flies. And to celebrate their deep rooted urges for total visceral barbaric and bloodthirsty insect carnage they released the game Kill the Fly for both iPhone and iPad.

Can a game about pests be considered a pest?

I downloaded the game to review because it was only a dollar. After all, developers don’t give me freebies and my budget for review applications was blown buying mojo for the free online game We Rule. I played with it through two levels and decided that was enough for me to able to write this review.

(Hint: When statements like this last one occur in literature, they are referred to as “foreshadowing.” Basically this means they are themselves hints of what is to come if you would just pay attention. Why am I telling you this? Because, if you were paying attention, you would know how this review will turn out.)

Kill the Fly’s premise is simple. Flies are attracted to crap. Kill as many of them as possible. But there’s a catch. You have to kill as many as possible before the dung eating blue flies polish off the crap. If you let the egg carrying blue fly land on your crap it’s all over. The little puppies explode from their eggs and gobble it up. No amount of swatting or spraying will save your crap.

The object of the game is to save your crap

It isn’t as easy as it sounds. You have to poke the flies with your finger to kill them and flies are faster than fingers. Even worse, as you progress through each level, you encounter painful obstacles like nettles and nails and soft spots where flies don’t squish. And some flies just don’t want to die. You have to whack them just right several times.

To make your job easier, the developers provide power tools, such as a fly swatter and insect spray. Of course, you have to earn them by killing the most difficult flies first.

Fortunately, you have weapons of mass destruction

Unfortunately you have to deal with obstacles as well as flies

You can also play in massacre mode where you just kill as many flies as you can before the clock runs out.

When I paged through the very simple directions, one thought kept popping up at the back of my brain. A thought that continued to pester me as I played, perhaps pestering me more than those annoying flies. Why not just clean the crap up? Then you wouldn’t have to kill the flies, they would simply swarm away looking for someone else’s crap.

A perfect distraction for adolescent boys you want to get off your back

It dawned on me that I wasn’t the target audience for Kill the Fly. The target audience would be adolescent boys who would never in a million years think to clean up a mess to get rid of flies.

Cleaning the crap would kill the fun. If you cleaned up the crap you wouldn’t get to experiment with different forms of insecticide, or watch them squirm as they fell to the floor, or pick them up by the leg with tweezers to see if they have little tiny fly penises. Besides, why clean up your crap when your mother will do it when she gets tired of waiting on you?

I suspect the Playsteria developers are either:

  • just emerging from adolescent years themselves, which in my recollection is about six years out of college, or
  • the parents of adolescent boys looking for something to distract them.
  • Download Kill the Fly and, when your own boys are yelling and whooping and pestering you for money, or you catch them rummaging through your purse for the same stuff you rummaged through your mom’s purse for, you can hand them an iPad and say, “Don’t bother me. Go kill some flies.”

    The game seems stable

    At least on the levels I took the time to go through. And I played each level at least three times to make sure, which may be why I had no desire to go further.

    Gorgeous but gross graphics

    The graphic artists behind Kill the Fly’s animation did a wonderful job. The characters are highly stylized in Japanese pop style and the colors are really vibrant. The graphics are far better than you would expect for an app this cheap.

    Except that everything bleeds. That’s right. Kill the flies and they bleed all over your beautiful screen. This, by the way, is clue number two as to whom the developers were targeting as their primary audience. It certainly isn’t little girls who want to play Hug Me Kitty.

    In fact, I can already see ten year old boys chasing girls around the room trying to show them squished blue flies because they’re too young to understand why they’re really chasing girls.

    Actually, that’s about all the praise I have for the game.

    (Hint: This is where the earlier foreshadowing is about to come into play.)

    Another clue that the game was geared toward a different audience is the fact that I was thoroughly bored after two levels, the garden and the loft. I had no desire to explore the street or the bathroom, even to see what they looked like.

    This game is designed for short attention spans

    Once again, I’m referring to boys. There is no strategy or challenge to this game. You just squash things until they die. I’m sure young boys will tell me differently. They would tell me how the fly swatter does this and the spray can does that.

    The problem is, level after level, nothing changes. Same obstacles, different shapes. Kill, kill, kill.

    My son and I used to have the same discussion about fantasy novels. I liked them well enough when I was in the tenth grade, but grew weary of the genre after spending a month slogging through the Lord of the Rings. I loved the Lord of the Rings, but once I finished that, every other fantasy novel seemed exactly the same.

    This would sum up my discussions with Bryan:

    “Every fantasy novel has the same elements. A quest with a young hero or heroine who doesn’t realize she’s destined for greatness. She has to find the talisman, build an alliance of unusual creatures to fight against different unusual creatures until the quest ends by vanquishing the most evil of all villains and prosperity returns to the realm. Usually she is rewarded with the kingdom, maybe a romance, and quite often it turns out she was really the princess all along. Oh, and ninety percent of the time there’s a prophecy which she believes she can’t possibly fulfill.”

    And Bryan would say, “No, dad. In this book the hero’s half dwarf named Helmlock who doesn’t know he’s the heir to two different kingdoms, and he has to find the sacred rune of Orlon which isn’t a talisman, it’s a spell locked in a key. And he conspires with the elf lords and zygotes to defeat the false empress Ophelia and her consort Claudius who send the evil trolls Rosenthaller and Guildenstein to stop them before the Helmlock discovers his royal bloodline. And there’s no prophecy, just an ancient fortune that a halfling would unite two kingdoms.”

    Trust me, I put a lot more thought into that than the developer’s put into Kill the Fly’s storyline. Which is why it’s perfect for the Ritalin generation and a little too shallow for me.

    You will have to clean your screen again and again

    Especially if you have boys in grade school, as my sister does, who like to swat flies with peanut butter on their fingers.

    But even with normal fingers, the game requires a lot of touching. No, a mega lot of touching and you’re bound to get prints and dust all over that beautiful crystal clear screen.

    I must admit, however, that these criticisms are relatively innocuous, as is the game itself. I can’t imagine going back to play it, but I can imagine showing it to my nephews Stephen and Nathan so they can gross out my sister.

    Show it to them on Carol’s iPad, I mean.1

    I’m not about to let two rowdy pre-teen boys near mine.

    For the mere price of a dollar it will be the best distraction you could buy.2

    Jenny Manytoes rates

    Jenny Manytoes would nap while I’m playing Kill the Fly. She thinks chasing flies is something for kittens. She wants to kill birds.


    1 [In what universe will this happen??? cs–proofreader] back
    2Not including the cost of an iPad, or several iPads, after your boys break the first one fighting over whose turn it is.back

    The Jenny Manytoes Rating System


    Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
    • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
    • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
    • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
    • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
    • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

    iPad Envy is created entirely using apps from my iPad
    iPad Envy.

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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in Entertainment, Games, iPad, Time Wasters and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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