By Dave Gilmore
4:57 AM PDT, July 18, 2012
"SnowConeMaker" by Tiny Toys Inc., is in the top 30 of free gaming apps on the Apple store, which is not surprising since half of the country is experiencing oven-like conditions this summer.
Snow cones (or "snow balls," or "shaved ice" depending on your region) represent Americana in July like few other traditions.
As an enterprising 16 year-old desperate to buy a used car, I toiled one summer at my local snow cone stand to earn a few (under the table) dollars. If there was ever a mobile app I was destined to review, it is "Snow Cone Maker."
"Snow Cone Maker" is part of a whole subgenre of food-making games I didn't know existed. I was fairly certain everyone was happy with "Burger Time" 30 years ago and we just left it at that.
There are games dedicated to making cereal, milkshakes, cotton candy, popsicles, pizza, lemonade and Kool-Aid. Once Guy Fieri catches wind of this craze, there will no doubt be an app that lets you make andouille sausage and jambalaya. For now, it appears that the focus is creating a series of diabetes-inducing sweet treats.
The first thing "Snow Cone Maker" glosses over is the setting. The game places you on a pristine Caribbean beach under the shade of a palm tree. In reality, the life of a snow cone maker is spent in a prefabricated shed placed along some busy thoroughfare.
(You would think a five by five foot area filled with ice would be cool, but it's actually like being inside a sweat lodge.)
The game fails to fully capture the functionality and difficulty of working with ice. It's a fickle substance -- sticky on some days and like loose gravel on others.
The ice machine in "Snow Cone Maker" seems to work incredibly well. I spent most of that summer dumping a bag of ice into the machine, realizing it had jammed, and nearly getting frostbite trying to dislodge a piece of ice from inside (praying I didn't lose a finger in the meantime).
I'll say that "Snow Cone Maker" accurately represents all of the posisble snow cone flavors. However, they skip over the part where the giant syrup dispensers perpetually leak, making your tennis shoes stick to the floor.
They also don't mention the phonebook-length menu posted outside the shack (but never inside), even though a "Superman" is the same as a "Spiderman" is the same as a "Captain America."
Another incredibly unrealistic part of the game is that nobody ever comes up to you asking for free snow cones. As any snow cone stand employee will tell you, this happens all the time.
The most expensive snow cone you can make probably costs $3, so none of your friends feel bad about coming once a week for a freebee.
"They count the cups" is not a valid excuse, either. If a hot chick comes up to the window, especially in a bathing suit, it is proper etiquette to give them free ice and sugar water for the rest of their natural lives. I assume this feature is included in the paid version of the game.
Other than that, yes, it pretty much captures the experience of making a snow cone. When you saunter up to your local stand in the oppressive heat and demand an "Aquaman with extra marshmallow," remember to tip the poor soul inside.
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