Flippy Bottle Extreme! Seems like an innocuous pixel-graphic mobile game where you flip bottles onto platforms, right? What if we told you that this is one of the most top-rated mobile game in the US and UK that’s made in the Philippines?

Within 2 weeks since its September 26 debut, the game has accumulated 2 million downloads WITHOUT any sort of pimpage and featuring from Apple and Google at all. No user acquisition or ad money was spent to even pimp this game among the dozen other arcade-style endless games available in the market.

It is currently sitting within the top ten in both US and UK App Store Top Free Apps chart. Here’s the latest pic from the Apple App Store chart in the US:

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You know you have something special when you’re just neck-at-neck with a free-to-play FIFA mobile game that EA obviously spends too much damn money on. So what’s the appeal? We dug a little deeper to find out.

The start screen already shows signs of a time sink, with a pixelated retro menu and simple enough interface to point you where to go. When we pressed play, we’re given a simple objective: flip the bottle by flicking on the screen upwards so that it lands on its base on the next platform. You don’t start from scratch whenever you go back in the game; you just continue flipping bottles until it lands base first onto the next surface.

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There are different modes of play: we already mentioned the mechanics of Level Mode on the above paragraph. There’s Zen mode where you’re given unlimited bottles to toss, and Endless mode where you have one table and you just need to flip it until you fail.

There’s even Space mode where gravity is so low that it’s harder to land the bottle because it floats and spins moreso than usual. If you need a bigger challenge (as if Level Mode wasn’t hard enough), there’s Bottlecap Mode where you have to land the bottle on its head. It’s harder than it sounds.

This reminds me of a conflict-less version of the MS-DOS game Gorillas, where you fling explosive bananas at other rival gorillas with the power of physics and arched throws. But you’re not causing collateral damage and killing apes, oh no. You’re on a quest to land goddamn bottles with your finger flicks and it’s so goddamn hard. Yet we can’t seem to stop.

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Part of the charm is that the game waits for you to make your move while it counts your past attempts. No special effects, no prompts: just you, your wits, and thinking that if you flicked your finger just at the right angle, you will make it onto that pixelated bookshelf. That, and the simplistic pixel graphics and bottle physics just looked good and felt right.

It’s also free to play, but not the “pay X for cosmetics” or “pay Y to roll for random bottles” kind of ordeal. You can pay a paltry sum of $1.48 to get rid of ads: they’re not that intrusive,but if it gets on your nerve, you have that choice. Nothing more, nothing less.

You can thank developer Derrick Mapagu for this slice of mobile phone entertainment. Although he’s been at the game development business for 8 years now, he was not prepared for the huge reception. “[I was] really shocked,” said Mapagu, “We designed it to be a popular game; a mass market game. But I didn’t expect it will be THAT well-received even without feature, even without marketing (we don’t have budget). It just got off on its own.”

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His company Most Played Games had a vision of making it to the top in the US market because the country is the biggest mobile gaming market in terms of population and revenue potential. Well, Flippy Bottle Xtreme is doing well in the UK market too, so job well done for bringing in a potential Flappy Bird epidemic of 2016!

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Jonathan Leo

Jonathan Leo

Jonathan is an avid self-proclaimed connoisseur of films, video games, music & comics. Prefers screwdrivers over martinis. Fears oblivion.