Every now and again, a game comes along that is so fundamentally flawed and so unequivocally broken that the act of quantifying one's enjoyment of said product becomes challenging. However, like any instrument capable of fine measurement, a gamer's palate must occasionally be calibrated--reminded of what horrors a truly terrible game can wreak. One of the worst games ever made for a mobile phone, Tough Trucks shouldn't be played except out of morbid fascination.
Tough Trucks' visuals would be more at home on an Atari 5200 than on our Sony Ericsson S710, so it's tough to even discern what aspect of pickup hardiness the game is trying to depict. For the sake of argument, let's say there's some off-road rally racing going on. These races invariably involve three cars and take place on minute, narrow tracks. The toughest part of Tough Trucks is guessing in which direction your truck is moving. The answer is usually "all of them."
Thanks to the game's unusable control, you'll be helpless to do anything but slam repeatedly into the course boundaries, like a bumper car with a flatbed. Eventually, you'll explode, only to instantly respawn (barely losing any time while doing so). In an attempt to compensate for its idiosyncratic physics, Airborne has made [steel] plating one of the statistics of its vehicles. The only stat you can upgrade, however, is your engine performance. Pouring cash into your ride will let you crash into walls at higher speeds.
To clarify, it is impossible to be good at Tough Trucks, or really to even play it as it was likely intended. The format of the races--some cars, some turns, a finish line--would have you believe that, through perseverance, you might pass your opposing cars and ride on to victory. Your superhuman work ethic fails you here, because Tough Trucks was simply never meant to be played with human hands, however dutiful and calloused. Tapping once on the turn key will either send your vehicle ricocheting off the walls or in a full circle. The artificial intelligence-controlled vehicles, on the other hand, aren't subject to these concerns, and so they never collide with each other or slam into barricades. What wondrous virtual handsets they must wield! Losing races doesn't seem to slow your circuit advancement, however. Is a shortage of Tough Trucks drivers to blame? Save your money and be part of the problem!
Tough Truck's sound is probably its best element, which is to say that it's not as mind-bendingly awful as the rest of the game. When you toggle it on, brace yourself for a loud MIDI riff that sounds like it could be theme music for Miami Vice, or some similar show featuring a healthy half-hour dose of police brutality and ruddy complexions. After that, the game's only sound is a cooking-timer "DING!" to signal the start of each race.
It's difficult to describe to the free world the nonpareil agony that accompanies a Tough Trucks session, because most people don't have a point of reference for this level of suffering. Don't play this game. Write your congressperson, contact the Better Business Bureau, but don't play this game.