Tagged "App Store"

May 30
By Jake In Mobile Games No Comments

Let's Eat Sweets!

How do you choose a game from the baffling variety on offer on the App Store? When it’s only 69p at stake, the name is as good a reason as any to splash the pennies. Let’s Eat Sweets! – that’s Temporal Games’ exclamation mark, but I like it – definitely falls into the ‘good name, what the hell’ category.

After all, who can resist sweets? I know I can’t, and that’s why I run. The little girl in Let’s Eat Sweets! also combines running and sweets, but the former in order to obtain the latter, rather than in mitigation for it.

Not only can she run along any side of the screen, but she can also fall from any side to any other, in a slightly undefined floaty way. The tilt controls are good though, and with a bit of practise you can glide around the screen in wide arcs. It’s just not abundantly clear why you can.

But the point of doing so is, naturally, to eat sweets. Equally important are the bonuses – extra time, speed-ups – and avoiding the opposing anti-bonuses. One bonus turns all the sweets on the screen into chocolate-covered sweets, because chocolate is best; an anti-bonus turns them all into bagels, because bagels are not sweets.

It feels slightly unbalanced at the moment, in that the appearance of sweets and bonuses – and thus the chance of a good points haul – is a bit on the erratic side, and the floaty mid-air control isn’t exactly intuitive.

Yet the unusual physics are part of what makes it curiously likeable. That and the look of the game, which is cute while managing to remain distinctive – no mean feat on the App Store.

Verison: iPhone
iTunes App Store: £0.69

Mar 30
By Jake In Mobile Round Up No Comments

Interesting tales at both ends of the App Store this week. Angry Birds Space achieved 10 million downloads in three days, a story so important that literally every site on the internet reported it.

At the other extreme, one-man developer Mr Qwak had his well-received iOS game Retro Racing removed from the App Store for what amounted to a banking error, then thankfully reinstated, albeit a few days later. His account of the removal and subsequent reinstatement is admirably balanced, and offers a fascinating insight into indie development.

Anyway, onto a couple of games that don’t really need any more coverage, but I feel compelled to write about.

Beat Sneak Bandit
version: iPhone

Beat Sneak Bandit

I’m awful at rhythm-action games, and I know it. But every few years, a game too interesting to ignore comes along, convincing me to give the genre another try. Space Channel 5 was one. Loved the look and sound of the game; bloody awful at it. Hence misery.

Beat Sneak Bandit is the latest: it’s achingly stylish, and the sneak-to-the-beat premise is inspired. It’s funny, and the levels are exquisitely designed.

Yet I just can’t deal with it. It’s hard work for me: I can manage a couple of levels before my concentration falls, and I begin to fall out of time with the beat – through a combination of ineptitude and impatience – and get stuck there.

It’s completely my fault. The game is outstanding, but I just can’t enjoy it like I want to. Highly frustrating.

iOS (£1.99)

version: iPhone


ZiGGURAT, on the other hand, has turned out to be something of a slow burner. It’s incredibly simple: you’re the last human alive, standing atop a ziggurat (look it up), armed with a laser rifle, fending off the advancing aliens for as long as possible.

A couple of goes, and you’ll have the measure of it. Next. But there’s a strange appeal. Back I went. A few more goes. And actually, the aiming system – sliding your finger along the bottom of the screen to aim, holding it down longer to charge the shot to a maximum which is maintained just for a moment – is more precise than it perhaps first felt. Failure is my fault.

Not wishing to invoke the name lightly, it’s starting to earn a long term place on my iPhone similar to Canabalt. It may not lend itself to prolonged play, but the simple mechanic, together with distinctive looks and sound, mean it’s always tempting when I’ve got a few minutes to fill.

iOS (£0.69)

Oct 28
By Jake In Mobile Round Up 1 Comment

Warning: mobile games can cause severe earworms. This week I’ve been warming to Whale Trail – which Adam covered last week – and with that the Gruff Rhys track of the same name has become firmly stuck in my head. The lyric, “I can see my house from here,” in particular, in a very bad approximation of a Welsh accent. It’s been that or The Crystal Maze theme tune. Or, bafflingly, ‘Baby Come on Over’ by Samantha Mumba.

Enough. We begin this week with a Multi-Writer Bonus Round! – as Adam tackles Wonton 51.

Wonton 51

Wonton 51 - iPhone

A game named after a Chinese dumpling, featuring bowls of Japanese ramen, and sushi signs. The mix-up is probably intentional, as the game tries to cram in anime cliches, lolspeak and “endless bullet dodge panic!” gameplay, somewhat like Ikaruga as designed by anime fans.

Retro-style shooters are generally well suited to the iPhone. In Wonton 51 you juggle between shooting and dodging waves of bullets, which can make for an intense and tricky experience, but sometimes gets hampered by the limited controls. You need one index finger to slide your character left and right, and another to aim shots. It’s a mechanic that would make use of dual thumbsticks on a console, so the iPhone’s touchscreen is a slight hindrance.

Wonton 51 feels like a game with good intentions. The artwork has a certain charm and the sound effects have a nice 8-bit NES-style vibe (plus random Japanese girl speech samples). If you keep at it there’s enough of a challenge, though it doesn’t really manage to ramp things up or go far enough, which you kind of wish it would.

iOS (£0.69)

Hard Lines

Hard Lines - iPhone

Having never owned a Nokia phone, the Snake phenomenon passed me by completely; frankly, it didn’t feel like I was missing much. But I am thoroughly ashamed that I let Hard Lines pass me by when it was released in the summer: it’s outrageously good.

There are plentiful modes, but all basically boil down to moving your line around the screen, collecting glowy things, forcing other lines to run into you, and trying not to run into your own tail. It’s perfectly entertaining score chasing stuff, but elevated to sheer brilliance by a staggeringly well-judged dose of humour.

The lines regularly spew short lines of text, with references from The Fast Show to Futurama, and doubtless many that I missed. It doesn’t become an unwelcome distraction, precisely because it’s not distracting if you’re trying to concentrate on not dying – which, in the wisely named Gauntlet mode, is frequently all you can do. Wonderful stuff.

iOS (£0.69) / Android (£1.49)

Boss Battles

Boss Battles - iPhone

I enjoy a good boss battle; though I hate a generic boss battle at the end of a long level. A game focusing on boss battles, then, sounds like a good idea: all of the developer’s energies going into imaginative boss design, and no slogging to get to them.

It’s remarkable, then, that the bosses in Boss Battles are so uninspiring. They’re interesting enough cosmetically, but there’s no thinking required, just constant shooting. Which is pretty inexcusable.

On the plus side: it’s free, with the option of in-app purchases to buy upgrades and avoid a bit of grinding. It’s still not worth it though.

iOS (free)

The Crystal Maze

The Crystal Maze - iPhone

Since Challenge became available on Freeview, I’ve watched a fair bit of The Crystal Maze, and it’s still brilliant. The Richard O’Brien era, anyway; Ed Tudor-Pole does not compare. Fortunately it’s O’Brien who features in the game.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t feature very much. There’s a soundboard, but that aside speech samples are few and far between, and you have to make do with text. It’s not as evocative as it could have been, then, though the moving-to-a-new-zone sequence has made it wonderfully intact.

The games themselves are generally quite simple. Towers of Hannoi, anyone? Slide puzzle? Not desperately original, but serviceable fare – and reasonably representative of the TV show.

It just turns out it’s more fun to watch than play. Which is a shame, because the developers seem so enthusiastic and eager to please.

iOS (£0.69)

Oct 25
By Jake In Mobile Games 2 Comments

Katamari Amore - iPhone - review

A lot of people seem to have taken umbrage at Katamari Amore’s pricing structure. It’s a free download, which gives you access to one level in time attack mode. Essentially, it’s a demo. What’s wrong with that? Honestly, people have been spoiled by the level of freeness on the App Store.

What this one level lets you do is discover that, as you probably suspected, Katamari doesn’t really work on a touch screen. Tilt controls are hideously unresponsive, and virtual stick(s) lack the weight of control you need to manhandle a Katamari around. It’s also prone to a smidgen of slowdown.

Katamari Amore - iPhone

But if, like me, you choose to throw some pence Namco Bandai’s way to get some more levels, you might not be crushingly disappointed. Incidentally, I eventually settled on the single virtual stick controls, unfortunately finding twin sticks a bit fiddly on a touch screen.

There is still fun to be in the basic task of rolling up the occasionally curious assortment of objects you find, and the satisfaction in the shift of scale is undimmed: from rolling up scraps off the floor in one tiny area at the start of the level, to consuming the entire environment with your building-dwarfing Katamari.

What is slightly dimmed is the game’s personality. It’s telling that I was soon skipping virtually all of the dialogue – once a selling point of the series. Maybe it’s the law of diminishing returns, but it just didn’t grab me.

The levels are all new to this game, and unfortunately they’re not great. I’m talking to you, Space Center – a sprawling yet sparse level, which is staggeringly unsuited to the small screen and slightly fiddly controls of the iPhone. It really is a thing of horror.

Katamari Amore - iPhone

The Pac-Man mini-game is similarly unsuccessful: rolling Pac-Man around is a nice idea, but surely someone might have noticed that the walls of the maze rather get in the way of your view.

Not a disaster, then, but neither is it particularly worth playing. Just dig one of the PlayStation 2 titles: they’re loads better.

Oct 03
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Apple’s App Review Board has come into scrutiny after letting an unofficial Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game slip onto the App Store.

The game, which is apparently close to being unplayable, has been created by a Vietnamese developer going by the name of either Dang Van Phuong or Namphuong Star – depending on which news source you trust. A quick look on the App Store shows that it has now been removed so we’re unable to research their name for ourselves.

Develop-Online reports that it went up on the App Store six weeks ago (18th August), so it’s not hard to believe that a fair few people were duped into buying it for the $5 asking price. According to Destructoid it was still available to download earlier today.

Nickelodeon currently owns the Ninja Turtles license, and it’s not just Nickelodeon that are victims of copyright fraud here – the backdrops have been lifted from Konami’s Contra.

Imagine if Nintendo ever let something as dodgy as this slip onto the 3DS eStore. That would certainly turn a few heads.

Aug 26
By Jake In Mobile Round Up 2 Comments

I beligerantly maintain that Zoo Keeper was, and is, the best game for the Nintendo DS. GameRankings disagrees, but GameRankings is wrong. 193rd? Shove it up your arse, GameRankings.

It took a long time for it to make the natural transition to iPhone, but now that it has, I thought I should assess some of the contenders for the match-three crown.

ZOOKEEPER DX Touch Edition

ZOOKEEPER DX Touch Edition

It’s not as good as the DS version. That has to be the starting point, I’m afraid. Only two modes have made it over: normal (levels require an increasing number of each animal to be caught) and tokoton (catch 100 of an animal to level-up). Meagre.

Not only is there not as much game as the DS version, but what there is isn’t as well balanced. The specific problem is the sudden speeding up of the timer when rabbit is added to the mix. It’s a difficulty spike not present in the DS version, and it’s not terribly welcome.

But still, it’s a ruddy good match-three game. The animals are as charming as ever – possibly more so in glorious pin-sharp resolution – especially when they’re the only animal you need to collect to level-up, and their faces go all grumpy. Wonderful.

It’s also still the best match-three for bringing it back from the brink: even when there’s virtually nothing left on the timer, a good run of matches and combos can replenish to back to a healthy level. And doing so remains a joy.

Piyo Blocks 2

Piyo Blocks 2

Before the official version came along – with its shouty all-caps contraction of a title – Piyo Blocks 2 was pretty much the iPhone version of Zoo Keeper. If it wasn’t so good, it the similarity would be shocking.

In fact, overall, it’s better. The only negative I have is that once the timer gets low, unless you can get to the next level, it’s pretty tricky to recover – the amount the timer gets replenished is just a touch too stingy, to my mind.

Oh, and it’s not quite as sharp looking. The animation is a little smoother, though.

There are generous additional modes, two of which are rather fine. Three second mode gives you, yes, three seconds to make each move, and is delightfully relentless. Disco is even better: it’s all neon colours, and every so often the blocks all change colour, keeping you on your toes, and making for some incredible combos.

The power-ups are nicely implemented too, and achievements add welcome targets somewhat more reasonable that the worldwide high score tables. It’s the full match-three package.

Bejeweled 2 + Blitz

Bejeweled 2 + Blitz

I don’t entirely get Bejeweled, to be honest. Classic mode ends when there are no more moves on the board, which strikes me as not fully under the player’s control, so at best arbitrary, at worst unfair. It just doesn’t work for me.

Action mode is against the clock, and much more what I’m looking for when matching three. All perfectly servicable, and it definitely has the most interesting special blocks of three games, some requiring a little work to actually use them.

The swishy wormhole-style graphics between stages, and incongruous photographic backgrounds are hugely enjoyable too.

The Blitz element, on the other hand, is some sort of Facebook time attack thing, which I frankly can’t be doing with.

Piyo Blocks 2 wins

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