Flipping Pancakes Is the New Flappy Bird

I flipped 14 pancakes with my iPhone and I’d like to see you do better.

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Apr 7 2015, 10:00am

​My score on Pancake, a new addictive pancake-flipping iOS game by Philipp Stollenmayer, is a mere 14. I am not going to embellish the truth. That's 14 flips of a pancake, and the flips only count if the batter matter lands safely back on your pan.

Pancake is free, though there are ads, which did plenty well for Flappy Bird. It's more akin to last year's Desert Golf, which also took a simple concept, added some mystery and did away with enforced penalties, pitting you against your own shame. It's why my ability to only flip a pancake 14 times is tearing me apart.

14 is not a high number, and when I first saw the game in Bennett Foddy's Twitter feed—the creator of QWOP, a legendary web game about marathon running that similarly frustrates you with gravity and goofiness—he was rocking a score in the 50s. Checking in now, he's hit the 70s. The jerk. His pancake has blueberries. Blueberries! How can I get blueberries!? When I asked Foddy how to master the flap jack, the hot cake, the chubby crepe, he sent me a video.

I guess I was going about things the wrong way, having taken this breakfast challenge slow and steady. I'd launch the pancake, keenly watch its trajectory and, if I could, tilt the pan towards me so that when the pancake lands I could try to center it and start from the top. But this only works if the pancake steers to the right, and only so far to the right. My strategy is narrow, I suppose, crunched by its own caution.

Foddy got his high score by using quick, smaller pan gestures, which is tougher than it looks, given the only interaction in Pancake is to touch and hold the screen. Like a lot of the best games on tablets and smartphones, Pancake is taking something small, dumb even, and making a silent spectacle out of all the different ways a jilting a pan can pan out.

You can get that pancake moving like a propeller, earning multiple points and flips with one flick of the pan. But sometimes you can only watch helplessly as the pancake rockets off the screen into the unknown. Or when the pancake lands with too much of its tail dangling off the side, the would-be dish slithering right off towards the floor. And what do you do when that pancake lands and balances on its side on your skillet, like a neutral coin toss? It's your call. Do you feel lucky?

Pancake is fun, with a surprising amount of complexity for a game based around but a single gesture. I'd at least like to bump my score up to 15 if only because that's a nicer looking number.

For the record, I also suck at flipping omelettes. But there's no video game for that. Yet.