The free-to-play model is becoming more and more popular within the games industry, and more and more consoles are seeing free-to-play games crop up on their digital stores. That said, it’s no surprise that the Vita has its own selection of free-to-play games ready to download on the PlayStation Store; some bad, some good – Crazy Market falls into the latter category.
In Crazy Market, you play as either a male or a female character named Eugene or Lulu respectively and you are the newest intern at the 24/7 Supermarket. Here you’ll be working as a cashier throughout three Summer months that are split into 20 work days, with each day offering something new – whether that be in the introduction of a new power-up, a new item, or a new technique to scan items.
You’ll be given a target number of items to scan each day, apart from every tenth day where you will have to last as long possible without failing to scan an item. Each day also has 3 stars that can be earned, the amount of stars awarded based on the score you get at the end of each day. Failure is met if you let an item reach the end of the checkout without it being scanned, drop an item before you scan it, or allow a bomb to detonate before throwing it
Scanning items is as simple as dragging them from the constantly flowing conveyor belt down to the scanner, which is located at the bottom left hand corner of the screen. Once the item is scanned you will then need to drag the item to the bottom of the checkout, preferably aiming for the small golden strip as this will earn you coins, which then increases your score and allows you to buy power-ups in between levels.
The free-to-play elements of the game come from the game’s Coffee system. Every time you start a day of work in Crazy Market you will use a cup of coffee, which are then given back to you over time or you can buy more coffee using the coins you’ve earned within levels. Alternatively, there is also a pack that can be purchased from the PlayStation Store for a fee named the Vitamin Superpack which allows you to remove the need for Coffee altogether. Coins can also be purchased using real money so you can buy power-ups to make the game easier to play, however if you simply eliminate the need for Coffee you’ll be able to replay previous levels as many times as you like.
As the days go on throughout the game, even more elements are introduced to the game, these include a laser scanner (which can be used to scan items quicker than normal), unwanted items and even bar codes.
Unwanted items can sometimes appear on the conveyor belt – including babies, dogs which can toss items in the air, and bombs. To get rid of the unwanted items you just drag them off the conveyor belt and the threat will be gone, however you’ll need quick reactions as if they reach the end of the conveyor belt, you’ll fail the level and will have to start again which will use a Coffee.
Bar codes are also introduced into the game as you continue to play. These are four-digit numbers that you will sometimes have to input when scanning an item. If you manage to input the four-digit number without error you will earn coins, but you will also remove any of the same item on the conveyor belt at the time – helping you easier reach your target number of items to be scanned on that day.
The game looks great on the Vita’s screen, the cartoon style graphics suit the game’s slapstick theme quite well. Each level begins with a cutscene and the characters look fun and often have humorous dialogue, but the downside is that it can become repetitive quite quickly.
Crazy Market – while certainly fun to play – is not without it’s flaws. The Coffee mechanic can really slow players progress down, with the wait for new cups of coffee to be added set around half an hour each. Since Crazy Market has the same goal throughout the game, it can also become rather repetitive and start to feel like a chore. The game’s difficulty also increases dramatically after the 20th level, meaning you’ll lose Coffee quite easily; it at this point where you’ll likely chose to either buy the Vitamin Superpack or stop playing the game entirely.