It’s official – I was finally forced to delete Toy Blast from my phone. Some time ago I thought this was one of the cool games, but it seems the random number generator is rigged, just like every other game. Of course, I recognise this is only my opinion, which I can’t force onto others. All I can do is turn to page 7374 of the Big Book of Clichés and say “judge for yourself”.
The problem is if you attempt to design a game with rigged RNG, it’s probably too easy to design an experiment that can expose certain issues. The culprit is level 7374 which looks like this:
It is beyond the scope of this document to explain the rules of Toy Blast in detail. The essential points are:
- To beat this level, one of the requirements is getting at least three slices of bread. This is difficult since there is only one toaster which cannot be accessed with ordinary cubes. Power-ups are a must.
- The basic power-ups are rotors, TNT and Rubik’s Cube. Rubik’s Cubes are always a particular color (one face is a solid colour, other faces are random).
- Power-ups are obtained by matching 5 or more ordinary cubes of the same colour in one move.
- Combos can be obtained by getting two or more adjacent power-ups. Adjacent means touching horizontally or vertically, but not diagonally.
- If the player activates a Rubik’s Cube + rotor combo then every ordinary cube with matching colour turns into a rotor that can be oriented horizontally or vertically.
Let us define a “coin-flip” as follows. The player activates a Rubik’s Cube + Rotor combo when exactly one of the four cells in the top row is a matching colour. The following four images show example of coin-flips. For instance, the first diagram has Y-B-G-B in the top row and a Yellow Rubik’s Cube next to a Rotor in column 6.
Note that if more than one cell is the matching colour, we do not count it as multiple coin flips. For instance, if the top row was Y-G-G-G and we activated a Green Rubik’s Cube + Rotor combo then I do not count that as three coin-flips. It’s not even worth one coin-flip. It’s ZERO coin-flips – the same number of points you get for playing a phoney in Scrabble.
The term “coin-flip” should be self-explanatory. If (in the first diagram) every yellow cube turns into a rotor then the yellow cube in the top row will collect one bread with 50% probability. Any other yellow cube on the board cannot collect bread, even if the player were allowed to call directions for every individual rotor. As every student of probability knows, all this assumes rotors are indeed horizontal or vertical with 50% probability.
I played level 7374 multiple times with the objective of getting as many coin flips as possible (not necessarily maximising my chances of beating the level). With enough skill and luck, it’s possible to get three coin flips in a single game. After sufficiently many games I got 50 coin flips and every time the rotor was vertical instead of horizontal. I did not hit the toaster once in 50 coin flips. Yes – Every Single Time.
On one occasion, I was down to my last move (see images above) and was destined to fail the level for multiple reasons. And the software still saw fit to give me the vertical rotor in the top row.
Just out of interest, I have already beaten level 7374 (I’m up to 7377) and managed to beat all levels without spending any coins (e.g. getting 5 extra moves or strategically changing the colour of a single cube). It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Toy Blast is trying to punish players that are playing a little too well.
It is quite possible that something untoward happened to Peak Games (e.g. acquired by another company) when I wasn’t looking – but I do not intend to discuss this in detail. I recommend the reader google search “Peak Games” and “Zynga”.
And if you happen to be a game designer – don’t even think about it. You are not fooling anybody.
Let me repeat that for the 7374th time:
You. Are. Not. Fooling. Anybody.
It goes without saying the same holds for Spider Solitaire. I believe we have reached the point if Joe Bloggs claims the game is rigged then the onus of proof should be on the game developers, not the player.
To be fair, I should point out that Toy Blast survived far longer than some other game apps on my phone. Some really awful games (both match-three and card games) basically “didn’t even try to hide it”.