It's time for massive property damage! Indulge your secret (or perhaps not-so-secret) desire to smash skyscrapers and spy satellites with the power of your mind. Effing Hail, brought to you by Jiggmin and Greg Wohlwend (Dinowaurs), takes place during the worst hailstorm in history, and you are the unseen power behind the devastation.
I understand if you're hesitant. After all, it's normally a mighty challenge to take down a skyscraper with nothing but hailstones. But it's not quite so hard if you build a ball of ice 35 meters across, and then fling it.
Hold the mouse button to produce an upward current of air. Hail will fall freely from the outer atmosphere, and your job is to catch a hailstone with your updraft and keep it aloft in the moist air as it gathers mass. Once it reaches sufficient hugeness, try to steer it at your target. To crush the house in the opening scene, try a hailstone about the size of a house. Then, if you're like me, giggle hysterically.
Analysis: It may bring back memories of such exercises in mouse-driven destruction as Pillage the Village and Defend Your Castle, but to gravely understate things, Effing Hail has its very own character. To begin with, the indirect way you guide your icy death-spheres home makes this much less like a glorified update of Whack-a-Mole, and much more like a game of skill.
It would already be a pretty terrific game if all you did was drop improvised asteroids on buildings, but it's so much better than that. The first time you heave a stadium-sized hailstone at an orbiting satellite is a revelation. Airplanes, weather balloons, and pedestrians all demand different tactics, and the solid physics engine makes the whole thing feel like recess in November.
I predict the combination of simple controls, wanton destruction, obsessive fans trying to form the largest possible snowball, and the slightly off-color humor will make Effing Hail into a cult hit; but as an application, it could be more complete. The mission-based timed mode is the only way to play. There's no sandbox option to let you smash things up freely, and I want one. Also, at the time I'm writing this, there's no way to restart a level, or turn off the music and sound effects separately, or even pause. It's strange for a game that looks so good to be missing basic interface functions.
Speaking of the graphics, they're fantastic. Everything looks like it was cut and pasted from a weather diagram, complete with little airflow arrows around the airplanes' wings. The look is a work of genius, right down to the detailed newspaper article that serves as your Game Over screen, complete with an authentic-looking chart that catalogs your destructive efforts.
Effing Hail: it's effing brilliant. Aw, there I go giggling again.