(Available in the iTunes App Store for iPhone & iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later. Price: Free to Download, with buyable Power-Ups)
Since the introduction of Apps and the Apple App store in 2007, many companies have utilized “smart” products to also play to our growing need to be entertained on the go. Ergo, games for multiple mobile devices can usually be found on several.
Of course, it is usually in simple games of matching and shapes, do we sometimes find ourselves going to. When I was growing up, one game that was most entertaining, was Tetris. We had a copy for our Nintendo Entertainment System, and I always remember it as the only game my Dad would sit down and play.
Prior to the release of Frozen in late November, was the release of a game titled Frozen Free Fall. Following the same setup as games like Candy Crush, Free Fall brings you a Frozen-themed matching game, where matching 3 of a jeweled object will cause it to disappear. There are also other things that will happen if you match 4-5 of a certain colored jewel, usually with ice/frost-based results.
There are currently over 90 levels, where one can earn 1-3 stars, based on how many points you score. The levels include tasks like clearing a certain number of ice blocks, making certain items drop from top-to-bottom, and a timed level where you need to earn a certain number of points.
The game can be oriented for both portrait and landscape formats on the iPad, and each screen includes a character from the film, who also can give you the ability to utilize a special item to make some jewels disappear, or clear out certain sections of your gameboards. For those who have seen the film, you will get both young and old variations of certain characters, as well as background images taken directly from the film! There’s also a minimal amount of animation on the characters. They will do little gestures during game play, as well as give you an affirmative if you beat a level, or a look that says “sorry” if you fail.
In truth, the game does nothing really new with the matching game format. It’s a cute tie-in to Frozen, but I’m sure it is the presentation that will make people click on it (okay, it definitely WAS the presentation that made me click on it!).
Musically, you won’t find any of the film’s toe-tapping songs, or any of Christophe Beck’s score. Instead, some original music is included, with piano and string melodies, that is actually quite soothing, if a touch sad at times.
When you first start unlocking various characters, you’ll be given 2-3 special items that character can use, free of charge. The problem is that the level you’re on, will then force you to use those items. So, what you may think you can stockpile later, will most likely be gone after a few gameplays.
It’s almost like the game is doing this to whet your appetite, and make some in-app purchases. This also seems evident in how the game tries to regulate your game play activity. At the beginning of a full gameplay session, you are given 5 lives to play with. However, once you blow through all 5, you have to wait a certain amount of time for your lives to build back up.
The in-game purchase option allows you to buy items such as a 5-pack of lives for 99 cents, as well as packs of various power-ups. The power-up packs range in price from 99 cents, to $2.99. I believe they’re trying to make people think that $2.99 is a drop in the bucket, but I could see some people falling back on them like a crutch trying to get 3 stars on some levels. If you’re not careful, Frozen Free Fall could become a rather expensive game to play/invest time in.
One person I discussed the game with, said the strategy to winning, is patience. It may take you several dozen times, but eventually, you just might get a board with the right combination to get you at least one star, if not more. If you take the game at its value as something to just sit down with and unwind to, I think it’ll help (unless you get tense in the case of the timed levels).
As of now, Level 90 leads you just past Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post (and Sauna). We can assume further updates will be coming down the line, as the game’s path seems to be following that of the one we see within Frozen. Of course, just how many levels we’ll encounter, is anyone’s guess at the moment.
Frozen Free Fall has definitely proved a good time-waster over the month of December, and is something that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. However, I strongly caution parents to watch their kids, as if you’re not careful, I could see some parents find some bills charging them for power-ups and add-ons to the game, if their password information isn’t protected.
I don’t know what it is about the 1990’s, but there seems to be an overload of special-edition/limited-edition stuff overflowing from that decade. One that reared its head in the 90’s comic industry, were Variant Covers.
It used to be that one would buy a comic book, and that was it. That was all you got. But somewhere in the early 1990’s, the gimmick of specially bagging comic books with extra incentives (like promo trading cards), or giving them alternate covers came into play.
In February 1994, the Wildstorm Productions arm of Image Comics released the beginnings of a 4-issue miniseries titled Gen 13 (originally titled Gen X, until Marvel Comics came knocking on their door).
The comic dealt with a group of super-powered teens, who after their powers manifest at a secret training facility in the desert, go on the run from the group I.O. (International Operations). Joining them is former I.O. member John Lynch, who has defected, and becomes the group’s mentor as they work out their life and new powers in La Jolla, California.
The series proved to be a surprise hit, and even ended up adding a 5th part to the storyline, and serving as a launching pad for up-and-coming artist J Scott Campbell (also known these days for his art on Danger Girl, and Wildsiderz). As it neared the end of its run in 1994, word spread that Wildstorm would make Gen 13 into an ongoing series, with the first issue released in March 1995.
I remember eagerly walking into my local comic shop, only to be greeted by a surprise. Along with 2 regular cover variants, I noticed 4-6 different covers for issue #1 sitting behind the counter (with much higher price tags, courtesy of the shop owner). Now, I had encountered variant covers before (they were a staple of the whole death/return of Superman saga DC Comics did), but Image had taken the promotion of this new release to insane levels.
According to the comic shop owner, as well as Wizard magazine, a total of 13 different covers had been released. Even though I salivated over these covers, they cost much more than a 15-year-old like myself could afford (my Dad also wouldn’t pay the $25+ per issue they were asking). Though somehow, over the course of the next year, I did manage to obtain all 13 of the covers. Nowadays, pricing on the variant covers is not as extreme as it was in 1995 (I attended the San Diego Comic-Con for the first time that year, and a couple sellers were asking upwards of $70 for a couple!!), but still, it can take a little jumping around to find these. So, let’s take a little stroll down memory lane, and look at the 13 different variant covers, and a few other odds and ends. Also, if you want to see what the covers look like at a higher resolution, simply click on the image.
I never did find one of the super-rare Do-It-Yourself variants, but over the years, I have been very fortunate to get a couple Do-It-Yourself covers drawn on by several members of the original Gen 13 crew:
But wait, that’s not all!
Btw, in case anyone is wondering, no, these are not for sale!
Now that we’ve blown through 13 covers, it may surprise you to know that there is an unofficial 14th cover. This cover was never released on retail shelves, but is part of a collected box set. Adding more wood to the collecting fire, Wildstorm released a slipcase box set containing all 13 variant covers.
The incentive to purchase these box sets was the 14th cover, signed by either Jim Lee, Brandon Choi, J Scott Campbell, or Alex Garner. Each signature set for each of the creators was limited to a numbered edition between 1500-2500. Unknown to a lot of people, there was a super-rare ‘Artists Proof’ red-box of the variant cover set that was released. If you were looking to get that exclusive 14th cover without a signature, this was where you’d find it.
Through an online source, I was able to obtain one of these rare treasures, though I was surprised that unlike the black box set, the red one does not give a number of how many were produced (mine just has the number “294” on it). I have a vague recollection of the comic store owner I used to go to in Iowa, telling me that he heard one was going for $500 (and this was in 1995!). Since then, I’ve never seen a proper price guide amount for the ‘Artists Proof’ set, which I guess just goes to show that these sets are incredibly rare.
I will admit even with the promise of an unsigned Chromium Cover inside, I have not been able to bring myself to open my set. I’ll blindly trust that the “legends” are true (and that possibly, there may be a drawn-on Do-It-Yourself cover inside too!), and keep my set sealed.
But, the fun doesn’t stop there.
Later the same year that Gen 13 was released as a regular series, Image released the trading card set Wildstorm Archives I, which was a 99-card set showcasing cover art from various comics under the Wildstorm Productions banner. These included art from comics like Wildcats, Stormwatch, Deathblow, and more. Every card series needs some chase cards (aka special incentive cards) to make people keep buying, and that’s where Gen 13 came into play. 1 out of every 6 trading card packs contained 1 of 11 holofoil cards that showed one of the variant covers.
Over the years, I have often wondered which of the covers is the most popular, as I’m sure everyone has their favorites (mine is Cover 1J!). Sometimes when I visit random comic shops, I’ll leaf through the Gen 13 back issues to see what’s sitting around. Aside from covers 1A & 1B, I often found cover 1F to be the one that would pop up most often. Of course, sex appeal does sell, and that explains why covers 1G & 1H are almost never seen in back-issue bins. Sometimes, you can get a good deal on a set selling on eBay, or in some shops (I saw a 1C at a shop the other day going for just $2!).
Keep in mind that this was not the only variant cover gimmick that Image took part in. There was an 8-cover variant set that came out in the fall of 1994, with each of Image’s main titles getting a special issue that showed all of Wildstorm Production‘s main characters front-and-center, creating a connecting image that spanned across all 8 covers. In August 1996, a spin-off from Gen 13 was created, with the series DV8. This series followed a second set of super-powered teens, although moreso a bad-guy version, and led by John Lynch’s former partner, Ivana Baiul. The release of the DV8 series was heralded with 8 variant covers. Along with a group-shot, the remaining 7 covers featured one team member partaking in one of the seven deadly sins. Unlike those from the Gen 13 release, prices for the extra covers barely reached above $10, and it was pretty easy to obtain a full set at release time from local comic shops.
After leaving Gen 13 to pursue greener pastures, J Scott Campbell and Andy Hartnell then created the Indiana Jones/James Bond homage comic series titled Danger Girl, which continued the trend of multiple variant covers. However, collecting the Gen 13 #1 variants was a cake-walk compared to all the exclusives that were released for Danger Girl (from merchant-exclusive releases, to foil-tinted cover-art, and even one cover release that was recalled!). I almost got into the hype, when my pre-order for the issue #1 Chromium cover netted me one on that issue’s release date. I held onto it for a couple years, before selling it to fund part of my trip to Comic-Con 2000. In the end, I didn’t really regret it, as my heart wasn’t quite into this new series like it had been with Gen 13.
All these years later, Gen 13 has been the only comic series in my collection that I was there for the start of. Though I can vaguely recall some of the story points all these years later, it was mainly Campbell’s art that kept me coming back for more, and by the time his art duties began to wane around issue #20, I began to pull away. It was a fun part of my teenage years collecting the series, and I still have a fondness for this little Variant Cover gimmick that Wildstorm pulled during the 1990’s.