This week we’ve mostly been… well, playing Skyrim really. We did manage to find a few hours to play around with our phones though. The most notable new iPhone game this week must be Minecraft, which we covered last month when the Android version was released. Aside from that, we’ve got these three…
From a technical point of view, Shadowgun is quite an achievement, right up there with the most accomplished mobile games. It wouldn’t look out of place on a home console, looking and feeling quite a lot like Gears of War. It’s all very polished.
If anything lets Shadowgun down, it’s the on screen virtual control pad, which makes moving and aiming a little fiddly. That, and the sci-fi “bald guy shooting thugs in masks” theme that borders on being the most over-done concept ever. Still, when you’ve got used to the movement and cover system, there’s a decently playable game here, with hours of content and a general ability to make you gawp as you realise you’re playing on a mobile phone. Although, the price difference between the iOS and Android versions is somewhat annoying.
It’s not uncommon for mobile games to borrow gameplay or art styles from established console games – sometimes it even borders on plagiarism (hello Gameloft!). There is a thin line between IP theft and nice homage though, and Stardash just about falls on the right side. This is essentially the Game Boy’s Super Mario Land, though minus the fat Italian plumber and with just enough differences for it to be acceptable.
The basic monochrome graphics work quite nicely on a mobile device, and show that the game’s clearly referencing the Game Boy original in a friendly, nostalgic way. Nintendo might not look too fondly on it, but until they start re-releasing their games on the mobile app stores, people after a bit of old school Mario-style gameplay probably won’t mind spending some spare change on a little title like Stardash.
Remember that Nintendo DS game from a couple of years ago, Scribblenauts, where you wrote things and they came to life? Yeh. This is basically that DS game, although for the iPhone and at a tenth of the cost.
To give a bit more of an explanation, the game involves lots of little puzzles and missions that require you to think of the right word to conjure up a way to solve the level. It’s all quite varied and fun – one level simply asks you to create five items to put in a student’s room (think books, computers, etc), another asks you to kill all the dinosaurs. There are usually dozens of ways to complete a level, limited just by the game’s dictionary and illustrators. It’s hard not to like it really.