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Pop! Food Factory review – a sweet free game for Windows Phone and Windows 8

Earlier in the summer, we compiled a two-part list of freshly-released indie games for Windows Phone. Microsoft had helped a number of independent developers create a fine batch of games. One of those games, Pop! Food Factory from Blacksmith Software, suffered from performance issues though. I liked the core game but felt it needed more time in the oven.

A few months later, Blacksmith has updated Pop! on both Windows Phone and Windows 8 and RT. With the technical issues mostly smoothed out and a few visual and UI improvements, Pop! has become a much better game. It's free and the Windows Phone version runs on 512 MB devices, so everybody can give this Pop a taste. Read on for our full review and fresh game play video.

Don't stop poppin'

Pop! is sort of like Fruit Ninja, but different enough not be a clone. Food floats up from the bottom of screen, encased in bubbles. It's your job to pop all the tasty food like donuts and pies without letting it get away. Simply tap the bubbles as quickly as you can – no need to swipe as with Fruit Ninja.

Along with the good food comes some bad apples, though. Not actual bad apples (which might be neat), but inedible things like vials of chemicals and fish bones. Tapping one of those will make you lose points or a life, to say nothing of the stomach ache you'll get.

Pop! has a little combo system in which players earn bonuses for hitting three of the same food items in a row. Actually doing so is mostly impractical, though. You're penalized for missing food, and things move too quickly to be choosy anyway.

That's my one complaint about the core game play. Things get really hectic and they never slow down. The quiet moments between waves of fruit are a fun and important part of Fruit Ninja. Pop! could use some breaks in its pace instead of just being non-stop frantic.

Pop! offers two game modes at present. Classic is the main game type, bestowing players with limited lives. The game continues until you miss too many foods or hit too many foul items, losing your lives. Arcade Mode lasts for a flat sixty seconds, with no limit on lives.

After either game mode ends, the game tallies up your bonuses and score. Initially, the tallying process took too long and was unskippable. One of the post-update improvements is a better-looking tally sequence that can be skipped at will. This makes getting back into the game so much quicker.

Improving the recipe

Another improvement since launch is the title screen. The professor character has been completely redrawn in a much more pleasant art style. That's a step in the right direction, but the title screen still has a dithered, grainy appearance. I believe the image has been compressed in order to reduce the game's file size. But come on, one uncompressed PNG is not going to bulk the game up that much. Looks do matter.

More importantly, Pop! needs more things to do and collect. Right now, you can play for score, but that's it. There's not even a leaderboard, so beating your own personal high score is the only goal. Implementing a leaderboard would at least add a competitive element.

Next I would suggest adding an in-game store with things for players to buy and unlock. New backgrounds are badly needed, and probably some less repetitive music as well. Another fun unlockable would be different food groups. That way we could pop bubbles with fruits instead of just unhealthy sweets.

Overall Impression

I'm glad that Blacksmith Software has continued to refine Pop! since its release. This game is completely free with no ads at present, making it more a labor of love than anything. If the developers can find a way to monetize the game fairly, and add the content the game needs, Pop! could have some real staying power. That would be sweet.

  • Pop! Food Factory – Windows Phone 8 – 50 MB – Free – Store Link
  • Pop! Food Factory – Windows 8 and RT – 7 MB – Free – Store Link (opens in new tab)

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

29 Comments
  • No IAP? No adds? Support for 512?
    Downloading!
  • But no Xbox Live support! *cancel downloading* jk.
  • Yeah :) To make this game top-notch they need to add XBL as well xD
  • Whatbis an iap
  • In-App Purchase.
  • Why do you care about achievements? Just play for fun, even if I win some achievements in Xbox games, I couldn't care less, just playing for fun, pass the boring time between closes, that kind of stuff ^^
  • I didn't say anything about Achievements. Did you mean to reply to IzaacJ? Achievements are great and fun to unlock when they're present, but I agree that playing for fun is far more important.
  • Yes. I was talking to issac. I get that people get addicted when it comes to achievements(I am a playstation gamer), but I have stopped caring for those since my game purchase depended on whether the game had good achievements or not. Note I couldn't care more for them and I just play for fun! Cheers!
  • What can we do when unlocking achievements and gain silver and gold (xbox)
  • You gain achievements to gain achievements, nothing more nothing less
  • Ok thx
  • Wow! 50mb for windows phone and 7mb for windows 8. GREAT!
  • Weird how the Windows 8 version is so much smaller!
  • typo
  • It really is listed as 7 MB in the Windows 8 Store.
  • Probably a troll! :3
  • Might be highly compressed in Windows 8 version.
  • haha now I notice it, may be the windows 8 ver needs to download content
  • Hey Paul, didn't read the article, I'm sure it's great as always!
    I wonder why you review those indie games when Xbox titles (kinectimals, hungry shark, tentacles...etc.) don't get an appropriate treatment here.
    This was different in the past when you were the Xbox man. Good old times!
  • I didn't review Kinectimals because I'm just not interested in it. Tentacles is kind of a maybe because I didn't like the first game. Probably going to review AC Pirates at least. Right now I'm focusing on our Xbox One coverage, but I will still squeeze in WP games like Pop! and Spider-Man Unlimited when I have the time. Wish I had the time to cover everything.
  • Already an answer, thanks man!
    Time is precious, so I know what you mean.
    AC pirates definitely deserves a review, great game. Tentacles should get some attention as well, very fair when it comes to iap or similar stuff.
    Have a good day :-)
  • I love food games! I can't wait to try it out.
  • Did anyone else think that said poop at first glance?
  • Me!
  • No
  • Me too
  • Probably not gonna download. I have too many games in my 520, and this one has quite some mb also
  • Meh. I'm still waiting for Kwazy Cupcakes to happen.
     
  • this app reset my phone!!! "#$%% uninstall right now