Game Reviews

Review: Greedy Bankers vs The World (iOS)

Greed Is the Name of the Game

Greedy Bankers vs The World is a fun and challenging new puzzler created by Alistair Aitcheson, an indie developer with a passion for problem solving and experimentation. The game is the iPad successor to his original iPhone game, titled Greedy Bankers.

The aim of the game is simple – you are a banker, and you have many expensive things to pay for. You have a limited amount of time to combine and cash in gems that are falling all around you, thus making your target cash total. Things like falling rubble distract you and get in the way, as well as some cool bonuses such as explosives that replace rubble with gems, and so on. You can play by yourself in arcade mode, trying to meet your quota before the time runs out, in story mode against an AI, dashing to make money before they do, or in the competitive multiplayer mode, in which you share the screen and have to beat one another to the quota.

The game is an excellent commercial debut for Alistair, providing a fun and sometimes intense challenge that proves to be addictive and exciting.

Bankers’ Beginnings

This banker, your mentor, is counting on you to make some cash!

Alistair spoke to us about how the game came into being, outlining its inception as a simple challenge from the Experimental Gameplay Project, a website which every month challenges developers to create a game within seven days based on a theme selected by the website.

The game developed as a response to an Experimental Gameplay Project theme, Casual Addiction. I made a simple XNA prototype as an evolution of an earlier game I’d made (called Shifty Trains) – it was the only game my mum would play so it must have been good!

The beginnings of Greedy Bankers proved to be successful – the game was entertaining and popular before it had even hit the market, and the art style was funny and engaging, but Alistair felt that it was more fun on a touch screen. This led to the start of the game’s development for iOS devices.

Who Said Bankers Didn’t Play Dirty?

The game as a whole takes a satirical and fun look at the banker’s scandals that have been flying around in the recent recession panics, with fun characters and witty humour.

Story mode puts you in the shoes of a rookie banker taken under the wing of a more successful and wealthy individual, who has “a yacht to pay off”. Level by level, you race against your AI opponent in order to stack same-coloured gems together to make money – the touch screen really makes the game work here, as you’re grabbing frantically at the gem you want, trying to get it round any others that might be standing in the way. Of course you’ll start to get itchy fingers as more and more gems drop, either helping you make more money, or hindering your creation of new gems by getting in the way. And of course if you’re keeping a close eye on your opponent, that just adds to the intensity and desperation of your game.

The levels get harder and harder as your opponent becomes better at the game, cashing in large gems and combos left and right, whilst you may be panicking about where your next paycheck is coming from, or steaming ahead, depending on how good you are at the game, and your ability to keep a cool head.

However, across all the game modes, there are little helping hands that will allow you to make more money, get rid of obstructing rubble, and exchange certain gems for other gems. Every time you cash in a large gem, any nearby rubble will be removed, creating a larger field of play for you to combine gems, and some rubble has ore in it, which produces a fun bonus should it be removed; an example is a tomato that changes nearby rubble into red gems – very handy if you’re going for that big ruby!

The game also provides players with a simpler arcade mode, in which you’re simply racing against the clock to make a set amount of money. It means that you don’t have the added pressure of playing against anybody else, but it doesn’t mean it makes the game less hectic. There are bonus rounds, encouraging you to get the banker’s bonus, and, as before, it’s sometimes a mad struggle to stack the gems together to make a huge cash prize. But this excitement is really what makes the game so much fun, even when playing by yourself.

One of the scarier moments in the game – your opponent has already made their quota!

Greedier Bankers

The final gameplay mode, and certainly the most fun and notable, is the multiplayer. This is the main addition to the iPad version of the game as opposed to the iPhone version, as Alistair described the process.

The iPhone version was in development for three months, and the iPad version built on that code for another three months. I had a little time between the two projects to reflect and decide how I wanted to approach the larger screen size. I knew there was more I could do with a larger screen, and multiplayer was the obvious one. I love single-player score-chasing games, but having a human opponent adds so much complexity and unpredictability.

You and a friend share the screen of your iPad, and both have the same cash target to make. You then play the game as you normally would, grabbing gems and making money by combining them into huge combos.

There are a few exciting elements that add even more pressure to the multiplayer mode – robbers come along to steal gems from you, which is obviously dangerous if you’ve got a huge cash prize lying around unattended, and there are all the standard bonuses that help you along in the arcade and story modes.

However, what really makes multiplayer mode shine is the ability to steal gems from your opponent. Your play area is right next to that of the other player, which means that, in the same way you would move gems around your own bank vault, you can nab gems from the player next to you. Great if they’re foolish enough to leave a giant gem too close to the border between the two of you, and the added multiplier for robbery is also a great incentive.

An example of a multiplayer game, in which you can steal your opponent’s gems for extra cash!

Despite it being Greedy Bankers vs The World‘s shining feature, Alistair admitted that it didn’t come about on purpose:

Stealing gems by reaching across the screen actually began as an accident, but it proved so much fun that I decided to reward it with a bonus multiplier. Showing the game at [Eurogamer] expo proved that this was the secret sauce that made everything zing! Fortunately there’s been no spilt pints or broken iPads, although one game at Eurogamer did practically become a wrestling match!

Speaking from experience, the multiplayer mode is a very dangerous thing – it can throw friendships aside as you realise that money is more important, and victory must be had. There will be a point where you start getting greedy, and your morals are left outside the game, but let’s face it, you have to be greedy to be a good banker.

Final Verdict

Greedy Bankers vs The World is a stunning indie title for iOS with a fun cartoon art style, hilarious one-liners, a satirical twist, and, most importantly, enjoyable and addictive gameplay. This is a game that will have you screaming at the top of your voice with gleeful frustration, no matter whether you’re playing by yourself, against the AI, or with a friend.

The multiplayer mode is really what makes this game shine, however, and whilst it’s a shame that it’s unavailable on the iPhone version of the game, it’s only really possible on a larger screen, which is where the iPad comes in.

Greedy Bankers vs The World is available on the App Store now for £1.99 on iPad, or 69p on iPhone.

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