Week the tenth:
Wimp: Who Stole My Pants?
In short: A platformer that uses just about every mechanic know to the genre.
Like most platformers, there is a nonsensical story and one or two McGuffins: In Wimp, a green blobby thing needs to find his undies in each level to open the exit, and there are three toilet rolls to collect in each level too. Each level contains hazards, which include, but are not limited to, pools of acid, other blobby things, moving and/or spiked platforms. Wimp travels around in a little bubble, and you can use this to stick on to almost any surface, allowing you to work through in the physics/puzzle elements of the game: Tipping platforms, moving and stacking boxes, and swinging on ropes. In other levels, Wimp can receive powers, like the ability to become a flying fireball (a-la Human Torch in Fantastic Four). By collecting the aforementioned toilet rolls, you are then rated from 0-3 rolls (just like the three star system), but you are also awarded a scored based on your pace and the number of times you perish. There are no ‘lives’ here, nor is there a health system. Death is instant and total, but Wimp will re-spawn a few paces back. This means frustration is minimal, and I’m sure this will be beneficial going forward into harder levels. Despite the fact that this game uses so many different mechanics; the physics elements, power-ups as well as encouraging both speed running and collection in each level, it feels totally coherent. The physics are tight, and the controls work without a hitch. There are over fifty levels, forty-four Game Centre achievements, (well balanced between specific and long-term goals), and leader boards, so content is not an issue. Nor is price: At just a buck, this is a very competent, visually appealing, and fun title.
Verdict: A platformer that uses just about every mechanic know to the genre: And successfully crafts a truly winning game. Hop to it!
I’ll be adding this to my list of excellent platformers; Mos Speedrun, League of Evil, etcetera, and playing it to completion.
I Love Squares
In short: A slower more precise take on the falling-blocks puzzler genre.
Like any game that features geometric shapes and falling rectangles, I <3 Squares will be compared to Tetris. The rules of engagement here are a little more complex though. Here you create square shapes from border pieces to clear the rows/columns/cells, rather than preformed blocks. Levels start out with universal while edges to build on, with more complex random pieces and coloured ones in Hardcore mode. Once you form a square, or another shape will either all red, or all blue pieces (and the universal white pieces if necessary) that area will clear, and everything above will drop down. To begin with, you have 20 moves before a new random row of white pieces is added, but this number decreases steadily as you progress in each game. It takes more planning than Tetris, because while obviously nothing moves diagonally, each of the pieces needs to fit between other to slot in where you need it to. So you might need two columns width to slot in a specific piece. It is tough to explain, but after the tutorial, you quickly come to grips with how it works. To me, It feels like less skill is required here than in Tetris. Of course, there is planning required here, but since there is no urgency (you direct the blocks from the outset, they do not fall), it feels like chance plays a greater role than skill. Although there are only four possible pieces, there is no forewarning of incoming pieces as there is in Tetris. There are Game Centre achievement here too, but the game is largely fuelled by a desire to beat high scores.
Verdict: A challenging puzzler that offers something a little different, though it won’t suit all comers.
I’ll be playing a bit more to see if I can get a better, but I doubt I’ll last long.
In short: A old school top down shooter with modern paint.
The graphics are pretty good, but sadly you appreciate the 3D models more in the menu (hangar) than you do in the game itself. Does offer quite a challenge. Need to get close to enemies to collect money and health they might drop after you shoot them.
Verdict: A nice gesture, but not really a nice game. I’d avoid unless you think you’ll be skiing a slope of nostalgia.
I’ll be removing this.
Call of Snakes
In short: A vague, 2D squad-based action game.
Visually, this game looks like one of those 2D turn based strategy game set on a grid, with anime-styled sprites to boot. It is not, however, one of these games. It is basically an action game. You have a party of six little anime styled guys, one is a healer, another is a melee expert, another has ranged attacks and so forth. You pick one of these to lead your party, while the others will appear during the game as hostages in need of rescue. Once in the game, all you do is swipe in the direction you want to move, and your party will make ninety degree turns in that direction. That’s it: They all fire automatically, but you need to be facing the right direction, roughly. Roughly being the key word here, because characters don’t move in a grid, and some fire diagonally while others don’t. There is a highlighted area around your character showing their range of attack, but there are other squares around the place, so it is not always clear. Plus, hit an enemy or a wall, and you’re dead. Your whole party. So this is where the “snakes” part comes in to play: The game is governed by the same rules as the classic Snake! Yes, it took me a while to realise this, but I still don’t think it helps the game much. I doesn’t follow the strict grid movement that Snake does, and sprites do not always take up a square as would expect.
Verdict: By being limited to Snake controls despite my character’s abilities to attack, I felt I had little control over the game. I would pass on this one.
I’ll be removing this.
In short: A first-person, 3D stealth action game.
This game gives players a simple goal: Reach the CCTV camera in each level, by navigating a course of block. However, one must avoid being in the line of sight of the camera, lest it’s deadly laser tear you a veritable new one! That is all there is to it. If the laser comes your way, you try and run behind a block. (I think red blocks indicate that the camera has line-of-sight to that spot.) To walk to a spot, you simply tap there, and camera movement is hadled with the gyroscope. Sadly, those gyro controls are exceedingly finicky, and I see no option to choose an alternative control method, nor adjust sensitivity, which is a deal breaker for me. The graphics are pretty bland, even though it is deliberately low-fi. I gather this is developed by a one man team, so I shouldn’t be to scathing.
Verdict: Surveillant feels a bit loose for my liking, but if you can get past the controls, I think there is plenty of content.
I’ll be removing this.
In short: A 2D action racing game with all the bells and whistles.
Most would have played a game like this before; a combination of platforming and racing. The player has four essential controls; accelerate, brake/reverse, rotate left, rotate right. In addition to this, there is also power-up button, used to perform jumps or briefly fly, with the spring and wing powers respectively. The requirement of each level, is to finish in under X time to reach a one, two or three star ranking. Overall speed, the collecting of bolts and the performing of tricks will also net you experience points. Bolts can be spent on new cars or upgrades in the store, and levelling up with XP will let you access new items. The default car is a jacked up taxi, and the second unlock is a forklift, and the customisation options are equally zany. So there is plenty of light-hearted variety in the cars, and this is also found in the tracks. The 3D environments are all bright and bubbly. Some levels are set in forests, some in deserts, and others indoors, with everyday objects in the background that remind you why these are “pocket” trucks. The biggest issue with this game is the lack of an instant restart feature; games like this really cry out for it. The physics also don’t feel overly fluid, a issue not aided by the fact that each course is angular: Loops are clearly made out of diagonal parts. The level and bolts requirements to buy upgrades feel a little excessive. Though there are twenty levels in the first cup alone, so there could be something like eighty levels in total, which means there are plenty of opportunities to accrue bolts and XP without getting too bored.
Verdict: I find myself comparing this to RedLynx Motoheroz, a game I unashamedly love. And overall Pocket Trucks is just not as tight or as focussed. If you don’t have MH on the brain like I do, then this would be a worthier investment.
I’ll be removing this soon, but I will give it a chance, because it is a great package overall.
Texting of the Bread
In short: A shooter controlled by frenzied texting.
Like those online flash tutorials, this game asks you to be precise and fast with your typing, though through the texting interface of iOS. Gingerbread men are overrunning the world, and in order to shoot them all down, you will need to be quick with your fingers. Your avatar will fire his/her gun each time you press a (correct) letter, so the first gingerbread man will be killed after you type “h-a-n-d”, then the next will fall after “s-o-l-o” and so forth. Failing to defeat an enemy before it reaches you will result in loss of health. After a while the game started play tricks on me. I found myself with two competing urges: One, to type the word quickly and correctly, and two, to have the words in order to make a coherent dialogue. See, there often is a dialogue like; “how am I supposed to even shoot this…” and so forth. But because some enemy types move faster than others, and I may make errors, the order of the words becomes skewed. So while I know that I need to type green highlighted-word, I may want to type the word that came next in the dialogue, or the word that is closest to me. So somehow, a simple typing fest becomes a strange action/puzzle game. It really is a very clever and very original concept, even if the visuals, both technically and artistically, are a little lacking. There are also a few random bugs that cause the game to crash.
Verdict: Not the sort of game I think would stick with, but it deserves huge kudos for originality and is certainly worth looking at.
I’ll be playing a little more.
War of Eclipse
In short: A strange turn based strategy, driven by one core gameplay mechanic.
That core mechanic, is the classic ‘power gauge’. You know the one; often used in sports games to determine the power of a shot or swing or attack. In your spacecraft, you face off against enemies using this same mechanic, over and over. The gauge moves back and forth at various speeds depending on the situation, and you must tap at the right time to unleash the most powerful attack; or any attack at all. Each bar features an larger (therefore easier) grey ‘hit’ zone, as well as a smaller (ergo harder), dark grey ‘critical hit’. The game is sort of turn based; you get two chances with the power gauge before the enemy ship attacks you, although, if you take to long, the enemy can sneak in another blow. As a reward for consecutive hits, you might get a chance to unleash your mega weapon, which transforms the power gauge into a percentage marker, and challenges you to ‘charge’ it as much as you can (max 200%), without overheating it. After each battle you will earn money and experience, which allows you to level up, and also repair and upgrade your ship. As you would expect from the gameplay, the story is fairly light on; you just need to take on all these enemies. But at least they are pretty cool; often looking like aircraft with demon parts attached. Each battle is also presented somewhat like a card collecting game; grading the enemy’s type and rarity. As you can see above, the game is also visually striking, with eight bit graphics and an old Gameboy-esque colour palette. This developer, Game Stew, has a habit of making these sorts of games. There is one called Tower of Fortune which features a knight scaling a castle, rather than spaceships, and it relies on a random gambling system (a-la pokies) instead of the power gauge.
Verdict: A very quirky title, that is probably worth looking at just for simple but unique game mechanics. It appears to be free still, so have a stab at it.
I’ll be fiddling with this a little more I think, but I’m not sure that my attention will be sustained in the long term.
Super Snack Time
In short: A fairly basic slingshot shooter.
This is another in a list of many games that have iDevices held in the portrait position, and ask for objects to be pulled back with a finger, and released toward enemies of some description. The enemies here are different fruits, although they are so heavily personified with cartoon eyeballs and the like, that they hardly look like fruit. Unlike some other games, you only have a single projectile to shoot, (a little hedgehog?) but this is returned after every shot. So you have infinite chances to take out all the fruit, provided you don’t let more than three escape the screen, as you only have three hearths in your health metre. This also dictates your rating at the end of each level (1-3 stars), though you also earn a score and currency for your efforts. Enemies move in both directions across your field of vision, and some require multiple hits to defeat. You are also encouraged to hit more enemies with a single shot, and a five-hit combo will result in a huge explosion. There are bombs to hit which take out many fruits at once, or ice that freezes fruit, and there are also limited-time power-ups like a cannon ability. As you would expect, there is a store where coins can be spent to upgrade the aforementioned power-ups. In conjunction with this, there are a plethora of the typical offers and incentives; free coins for FB/Tweets, free coins for watching ads, daily rewards for opening the app, and IAPs. It also costs energy to play. You only have limited energy, so if you fail to beat a level, you’ll eventually run out of puff, and have to have a break or pay up. This isn’t a bad game considering it is free: There are 60+ levels, plus an arcade mode, and there really isn’t a pay-wall. So I guess the plugs for social sharing and the like are acceptable. I just didn’t really dig the gameplay, as it is fairly derivative. And while it is the perfect game to jump in-and-out of, multitasking is inconsistent at best, which is a pain in the arse.
Verdict: Perhaps it is appropriate that Under the game’s icon it says ‘Snack Time’, because there really isn’t anything super about this game. But it is popular and free, so maybe give it a crack if you are in need of something to play.
I’ll be removing this I think.
A Cloudy Adventure
In short: A puzzle game that has you harnessing the winds.
The aim of the game, is to cause the name of the game. The eponymous cloud himself is incapable of having an adventure, or in fact, moving at all. Your job is to use other characters to blow Cloudy to his goal; a red ball in each level. Characters can be dragged around freely at any time, but can only blow in certain directions, left, up etcetera, and you must use them wisely to navigate the various platforms that hinder your movement. Each level also has hidden cheese to collect. (Why cheese I have no idea). These are placed randomly in the air and only appear for a second every so often, so you have to try and remember their position. Often times too, levels do not allow you to move Cloudy left at all, so a very deft touch is required, lest you wish to restart the level. If Cloudy is close to a source of air he will move much faster, so the game requires a lot of trial and error, and patience. I have just played through a similar quirky puzzler, with an equally stupid protagonist, on Steam called Eets. I enjoyed the game, and I played it to completion, but I don’t think I want something this fiddly on my iPod.
Verdict: A game that requires time and patience. A little to finicky for me.
I’ll be removing this.
In short: A pretty, 3D, Christmas themed gallery shooter.
This game is a lot like Uppercut’s other gallery shooting game, Epoch. In fact, it is almost just a reskin! But at least it is an attractive one: Since it is also running on the Unreal engine, there are some very nice models as well as smooth animations and effects. It is only 41MB in size, but I think the engine does ask a bit from older devices like mine, (read: lag), so be aware of that. The game play here is fairly simple. Directional swipes will have you taking cover (down), (pictured), emerging from cover (up) and also dodging left and right. A tap on an enemies will have you hurling a snowball in their direction, but you will need to move quickly before they return fire. Some enemies are one-hit-KOs, while others take a little more perseverance. There are also coins that appear randomly and after an enemy is defeated, and these can also be collected with a tap, and used later in the store to buy cosmetic upgrades (hats) and also various booster items like fireballs. Sometimes presents or treasure chests will also appear, and hitting these with a snowball will reward you will a boost of some description, like extra coins or stronger snowballs. After defeating all the enemies in one area, you will move onto another snow laden cottage or hillside, so the game is essentially endless. There is health meter at the top of the screen, but despite appearances, it is very much a ‘bar’, rather than four lives. In other words, you can get half hit or grazed by a snowball, so this really encourages you to keep on dodging, even at the very last second.
Verdict: An attractive game, that offers a fun diversion. Since the festive season has passed, the game is free, so I’d recommend checking it out. For previous players of Epoch though, (like myself), don’t expect anything new.
I’ll be removing this shortly.
In short: iOS’ answer to Pokemon(?)
You travel between villages, towns, and areas of wilderness. Along the way, you can capture creatures, and train them to battle against other creatures using a variety of attacks. On paper then, Dragon Island sounds a lot like Pokemon. When you play it though, it does feel similar, but also different. Rather than aiming to beat loads of other trainers, you have smaller quests to fulfil. Some do involve defeating others in duels, but there are also other types of quests, like clearing monsters from an area, or simply capturing monsters for the sake of it. Unlike Pokemon, there is no free movement in over-world, you simply select an area on the map to teleport there. Battles also work a little differently. It is still turn based, but each of your monsters has a chance to attack. So it is much easier to win in a random encounter, because it could be three against one. Capturing works as expected; though rather than Pokeballs, you can use more expensive ‘cards’ that will guarantee capture, or you can just work down the enemy’s health bar. As for the creatures you catch, they seem fairly well designed; though they have a massive range from dragons to tigers to birds to fairy-things to goblins to bugs. (They do, as far as I can tell, also evolve at some juncture.) They are perhaps a little inconsistent in their visual style when compared to Nintendo’s efforts, but that is being picky. The interface is a little different, perhaps slightly more clunky, than PKMN. Attacks work in the manner expected; some deal damage, others will raise your statistics, and some are hypnotic or paralytic. The music is perhaps where the greatest individual similarity lies; it is remarkably similar in tone and style to that of the Pocket Monsters games.
Verdict: A game that looks like it can deliver a solid Pokemon fix on Apple’s platform. Outside of the comparisons, this is a turn-based strategy come RPG game. It is the kind of thing you can play without paying too much attention, yet I think if you want to go deep, you can.
I’ll be keeping this. I think it will take a little time to form a complete judgement: There are things I don’t fully understand yet. It also takes balls to tread in Pokemon’s territory, so this deserves a little attention.
In short: Sonic takes on the ‘jump’ genre.
Like all games in of this ilk, you must navigate the protagonist (in this case SEGA’s famous blue hedgehog) upward through a maze of enemies and bounce on platforms of varying stability. Sonic can be guided left and right by tilting your device, and if he vanishes on the right, he will slide back in on the left of the screen. Touching the screen will make him double jump, or if pressed on a power-up icon, unleash said power-up. If you fail to guide Sonic to a platform, he will fall to his death, and you will have to start the level again. Like in the side-scrolling games, Sonic attacks when he jumps, so this is how you defeat enemies, like giant wasps (pictured) and crabs and caterpillars. Again like the normal Sonic games, you also need to collect rings. If you land on an enemy, you will lose all the rings you have, and if you have no rings, you will die. As well as providing life, the rings can be spent in the game’s store, on the typical boost items like a head start, a safety net, or ring magnet. There are two modes of play; story and arcade. It is a bit rich to call any mode of a jumping game ‘story’, but it seems that you end up freeing cats and other animals when you defeat Eggman at the halfway and end level of each area. There are twelve ‘acts’ (levels) in each area, two of which (6 & 12) are boss battles against Eggman. There are four different areas, (Green Hill Zone, Mountain Zone etc.), with another promised, so there are plenty of levels to work through. If you get tired of these, you can jump into endless mode, which is randomly generated from the themes of each story zone, and try to reach greater heights than your Game Centre friends. Speaking of Game Centre, the game does have a few achievements, though these are secondary to the objectives that the game challenges you to complete. These are fairly typical, like ‘use X power X times’ or ‘defeat X enemies’, but it keeps the game ticking, and allows you to level up; allowing access to more boosts in the store, and also extra characters like Shadow and Tails. There also appears to be some sort of global goal system that also offers bonuses to all players, however this seems a little buggy at the moment, and doesn’t properly connect with the SEGA website or whatever, so hopefully that gets fixed soon. Visually, the game has a crisp vibrant style, which you would expect. But it finds a happy medium between the older Sonic games and the new Sonic 4+ games.
Verdict: I don’t know why Sonic is jumping instead of running, but f*ck it. This really is a step above in this genre, so give it a shot
I’ll be playing through the story and completing as many objectives as I can.
_ _ _ _ _
So week ten… That means I’ve gone through 130 apps! Wowee!
I pick games totally at random, but I made sure I had really positive experiences to start and then end this tenth week with. Thank you to those still reading.