Get on down with Funky Smugglers

Funky Smugglers is a new iOS and Android game from 11 Bit Studios, a Polish developer best known for its “tower offense” game Anomaly: Warzone Earth. It’s available now as a paid download from the App Store and Google Play. There’s also a Mac version available from the Mac App Store for the same price. This review is based on the iOS version, tested on an iPhone 4S.

Funky Smugglers is a simple swipe-based game of reflexes, somewhat similar to Halfbrick’s Fruit Ninja but with its own twist. Players are tasked with removing contraband items from a series of colorful characters who wander past an on-screen airport X-Ray scanner, and must do so without accidentally removing any permitted items. Contraband items are marked in red and permitted items in green — not ideal for color-blind players, but the objects are also visually distinctive from one another. To remove items, the player must simply “flick” them off the screen.

The player has three lives with which to score as many points as possible. A life is lost every time a contraband item is allowed through or a permitted item is removed — at this stage, all the items from the next few passengers disappear to give the player a momentary reprieve. Occasionaly, remote-control helicopters carrying powerups fly through the scanner — some of these allow the player to recover lost lives, while others provide other gameplay benefits.

The key to attaining high scores in Funky Smugglers is its “combo” system — by tapping and holding rather than flicking items off the screen one at a time, the player can collect several at once. There is a time limit preventing the player from doing this for too long, however — allowing this to expire will lose the player the combo bonus they have acquired by collecting the items. The timer may be reset by throwing and catching the items without flicking them off the screen. It is possible to upgrade the amount of time the player has available to complete a combo in a single touch by expending in-game currency, which is earned at a good rate through play and may also be acquired via in-app purchase.

The game is built for social play. The iOS version has Game Center compatibility and supports iOS 6’s Challenge feature directly from within the app. “Team Battles” are also scheduled regularly, allowing players to pledge allegiance to one of two humorously-named teams and contribute their score to the global totals. These also serve as a means of viral promotion — the player has the option of posting Team Battle information to Facebook and Twitter, and friends liking or retweeting the post in question earns the player’s team additional points.

All in all, Funky Smugglers is an excellent mobile game. It’s simple to understand and quick to play but enormously addictive in the same way that established classics like Fruit Ninja are. Its mechanics are recognizable and understandable but have their own original twist, and the presentation is exemplary. Couple this with the solid social features and unobtrusive additional monetization and you have a package that will hopefully see some success both critically and commercially.

Funky Smugglers is currently ranked at No. 367 in Top Paid Apps and No. 174 on the iOS App Store. On Android it is ranked at No. 234 in the Paid Games chart. Follow its progress on both platforms with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social appps and developers.