Randling: the show and the app reviewed

According to Andrew Denton a ‘randle’ is defined as “a nonsensical poem recited by Irish schoolboys as an apology for farting at a friend”. I feel a little like I might owe Denton a randle for this review of his new show Randling.

I so much wanted to love Randling. I’ve admired Denton for such a long time that he seems like a friend and I wanted his show to be a success. Add to that my own love of words and Randling was enough to drag me into watching free-to-air television without time-shifting. Sadly, so far the series has only hit me as being ‘okay’.

I’m not sure that having completely new teams each week works – you lack the reliable jokes and banter of a fixed team leader. Denton himself is so laid-back in his delivery that he’s not filling the gap. There really needs to be some team rivalry or some edged banter with the host to make the show compelling. Right now Randling comes across with all the quiet, smiling reserve of the way you hope your kids will play together but they never do.  I’ll stay with Randling a while longer; but, honestly, more in hope than expectation.

If the TV show has not managed to capture me, the associated app has stuck its claws deeply into my brain. It’s a simple enough app, letters fall down and you have to make words to clear the decks before towers of letters hit the top of the screen or a timer expires. In that sense it’s extremely similar to Word Monkey. There are a couple of little twists with special blocks that freeze the screen or do other things. What seems to make it compelling is the idea that you are playing against other local players – that need for some rivalry again. It would have been nice to see a stronger tie-in with the TV series too – perhaps someway to pick and track a favoured team? Maybe get a free block if your team wins?

The Randling game is the sort of thing that has you sitting up at midnight thinking that if you just have one more go you’ll get a better score. It’s certainly entertaining; but more it’s horrifyingly compelling. I may be calling for an intervention soon.

The Randling app is free; but you can buy blocks that give you additional time or blank letters. That does remove a feeling of a fair playing field in the competition. There are numerous apps using this sort of model these days, but few where your real-world spend can so materially impact on a competitive outcome. Mostly the in-app purchases let you jump up a level within a game but then you’re still competing with others on a level playing field. Here the purchases give you a distinct advantage in the game. For a modest investment you could rack up a lot of points and sit high on the leader-board. My personal jury remains out on how much that matters to me.

One the thing that did make me laugh though; and honestly it was a better laugh than I’ve had from the TV series so far. The thing that I found really funny was that the app will not accept the word ‘randle’.

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