I Heart Geeks is the sort of game which illustrates the contempt Nintendo, and probably a fair amount of developers for portable gaming systems, must really have for the rise of iOS and Android devices. The mere existence of those devices, as well as their libraries, changes how a game like this comes across in some pretty stark ways – and it’s not a positive reappraisal. I’m bringing this up right away because it’s an important lens through which to view a portable game nowadays, and it’s a lens I (and I feel, many other reviewers) am going to bring out for each portable title that ends up in my hands. Let’s begin.
I won’t say much about the story for I <3 Geeks, because there isn’t all that much to tell. It’s pretty thin on details – help the geeks, thwart the bullies – and this scant level of setting and background is pretty standard for the genre. The story isn’t there to entice so much as to justify the sprites used for the graphics: “Oh, geeks are involved? We’re building contraptions? Alright, then all these wheels and cogs and balloons make a little more sense.” It does the job that can be reasonably expected of it, and what more can anyone ask than that?
Before I get into where I Heart Geeks becomes a little problematic, let me explain the basic gameplay you can expect here. You may or may not be familiar with The Incredible Machine – if so, it’s in that general direction of title. If not, I’ll try another way to explain it: Rube Goldberg Devices. Each puzzle presents you with a particular, simple goal you need to reach in a circuitously indirect way. So you use your assigned mix of devices to move target object X where it needs to be, assembling your contraption and then turning the whole thing on to watch the entire thing either achieve the desired goal, or gum up at a certain point in its operation. If it gums up, well, back to the drawing board to fix that problem. It’s done well enough, and the puzzle fan in me enjoyed the experience – even if some of the puzzles got a little repetitive.
So if everything is at least adequate, if the puzzle variety is respectable, and if the puzzle game itself is fun, what’s the glaring flaw? Easy: the price. At launch, this game was around thirty dollars. It’s come down since then I’m sure, but there’s no possible way it’s come down to the price it should really be at: 99 cents to 2.99. And this brings us back to what the rise of iOS and Android apps have done to the portable gaming market: they’ve made otherwise fair quality titles like I Heart Geeks very hard to justify. Nothing about I <3 Geeks can justify its initial price. Not anymore.
Which leads me to my final judgment on this game. It’s good, it’s solid, but the price can’t be ignored. If you want this kind of game and if you have access to an iPhone, iPad or Android device, hit their respective app stores – your money will be better spent. And if you wait long enough, with the way things are going, I Heart Geeks may end up in those same stores at a reduced price after a while.