In honour of Potato Week – a hideous monster of a feature theme that I have the sneaking suspicion I may be partly to blame for – I’ve trawled the App Store in search of tuberous gems. And lo, many I have found, but not before all faith in humankind was erased, rekindled, and erased again.
On a quiet Tuesday evening as I typed ‘potato’ into the App Store search bar, I didn’t have high hopes. At most I was expecting a few amateur games, maybe an app about how to grow potatoes. But no. Potato-themed apps came frothing forth like sulfur spewing from the fiery pits of hell.
“Neptune’s nadgers!” I exclaimed, much to the confusion of my housemates.
I had hit a rich seam: Potato Escape, Potato Runner, Mr. Potato Head (multiple versions), Potato Panic, Mr Potato Warrior, Flappy Potato… the list of interactive potato-based media goes on. It matters little that 90% of these games were absolutely identical in almost every way. That doesn’t stop those apparently multitudinous potato-loving iOS developers, nor does it stop people like me downloading this trash.
The number of anthropomorphized potatoes fleeing from things was certainly striking though – is there some underlying potato-refugee narrative at play here? Do potatoes even experience fear? Almost certainly not.
Likewise, the number of digital recreations of Hot Potato. I mean, that game isn’t even good in real life.
The real nail in the coffin for humanity though was the sheer volume of apps directly related to the cooking of potatoes. Whole recipe apps dedicated to potato soups, potato salads, and other potato recipes. One claimed to list every potato recipe, ever…
“Potato-themed apps came frothing forth like sulfur spewing from the fiery pits of hell.”
In what world is there a market for this? In what world is a specific potato-based recipe app more appealing than a general cookery app? No one needs this much detail on the cooking of potatoes. Not only do they (the people) not need this skulduggery, there is definitely no need for multiple versions of this idea. Is this the glorious reign of free market competition in the digital era? Is this the ultimate result of so-called consumer choice? The choice between hundreds of apps telling you how to cook a fucking potato? Where is the demand for this? It’s late capitalism gone mad!
Amongst this unbearable tyranny of ‘choice’ I was able to cobble together approximately five games that were completely awful but somehow stood out to me amongst the tide of filth that filled my vision.
- Potato Rocket
The instructions for this were in Japanese. I had no idea what was going on. The aim of the game appears to be to pull potato-clouds from the top of the screen to the bottom. Here they burrow into the earth and allow a rocket (presumably titular) to lift off.
The rocket appears to have been tied to a whole bunch of onions. No idea why. At the end I was awarded points, possible related to the number of onions, it was unclear. This experience was entirely baffling to me; I cannot recommend it at all.
- Potato Balls
A endless potato-runner controlled by tilting the ol’ phone around. Kind of terrible but by far the most polished experience here.
The narrative was confusing at best, tomatoes seemed to be the main antagonists and sour cream a soothing remedy but little explanation given as to why. This may well be a thinly-veiled comment on intra-genus competition for supermarket shelf space.
- Morimori Potato
Also Japanese. The objective of this game was to juggle cartons of French fries. It crashed my phone almost immediately. 0/10.
- Potato Time
Not a game, barely an app. This is a digital clock that constructs the time using various potato based shapes (mostly chips and sliced potatoes).
You can also draw on the clock using the touchscreen, for some reason. Weirdly charming, not the worst thing by far.
- Potato or Trump?
This was by far the best thing I found: a quick-fire quiz in which you – the unsuspecting participant – have to identify whether an image is Donald Trump or a potato. While the task itself is easy at low speed, as soon as the speed ramps up it’s easy to make mistakes.
Turns out the colouration and general phrenological proportions of Prezzy Trumpton are not dissimilar to a potato. It will make you question everything you think you know about yourself and your relationship to the presidential overlord. Donny is the hideous Frankenstein of America’s hopes, dream and fears. He is potato.