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Game Review: Spermania - The Race for Life

15 September 2014
Appeared in BioNews 771

Spermania: The Race for Life

By PinchPoint

Available to install here

'Spermania: The Race for Life', by PinchPoint

This little app for Android has been getting a bit of hype because: (a) it's kind of about sex (snigger like a seven-year-old); (b) it was designed by PinchPoint, based in Ramallah, Palestine (do concerned Guardian-reader face).

In the game you pilot an intrepid little sperm through an assault course where you dodge antibodies, avoid pools of acid and generally try to get from point A to point B. The mechanics are very straightforward, you move your finger up and down the side of the screen to steer your sperm and there is a boost button to overtake your rivals.

The boost button is interesting as it is limited to how much stamina you have - shown by a bar on the top left of the display - this also acts as your health-meter. With every dip into an acidic pool or bump with a homing white blood cell you lose a significant portion of your stamina, which can be recovered by driving into little grey blocks of ... energy? who knows? What they are exactly is not clear but many of these grey squares are littered throughout the levels, allowing you to recharge and continue the race.

This game is very reminiscent of the Flash classic Helicopter, or even the viral hit Flappy Bird. But would I recommend this game to other people? No. It's a dull old business with no original features. Go from one end of the fallopian tube to the other, outrace other sperm, try not to die. I reckon the only reason this game is getting any attention is the designers' unusual provenance.

The worst, and possibly most cynical, feature of this game is the lives system. You start with five lives, and once they are gone you have to wait 30 seconds for another four. Then once those four are gone you wait a minute for three lives, then one and a half minutes for two so on and so on. At the moment, because I am not very good at this game, I have one life per go and have to wait five minutes before I am allowed another.

How do you get around this? You can skip the wait if you invite your friends on Facebook to play. Which shows this game for exactly what it is - a marketing exercise with some graphics tacked on. Making this game about racing sperm is the equivalent of shouting 'SEX!' and then adding, 'now that I have your attention...'. It has nothing to do with reproductive rights and is not at all educational. It isn't even a fun game.

I would have given up on playing five minutes after downloading it, were I not writing this review. Fortunately, it's free.

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