Tagged "iOS"

Nov 25
By Jake In Mobile Round Up No Comments

If you’re still not convinced by mobile games, then consider Superman. His gaming past isn’t so much chequered, as vaguely depressing – and bloody awful in the infamous case of his N64 outing.

But as we found out this week, Chillingo hit the nail on the head with their iOS effort, where others flailed around blindfolded with the hammer attached to a Swingball.

So there you go: going mobile is the solution to bad games. (Possibly.)

Superman

Superman - iPhone

What’s it like to be Superman? It’s not every day that a sinister evil threatens the future of the entire planet, after all. Whether intentionally or not, that question is addressed here. There’s a plot of sorts, but essentially your task on every level is to follow the arrows, and put right that which is wrong – extinguish a fire, eliminate a baddie, whatever.

It’s not quite as repetitive as that, since new perils are introduced regularly. They escalate in scale nicely, too: stopping missiles, helping a plane land safely, stopping debris falling from space. Every new danger prompted an amused internal “what now?” in me.

The virtual control pad is pretty reliable, with buttons for super-speed – be it running or flying – and a context-based action. It’s fairly slick, particularly flying around at speed.

It would be hard to describe it as original or innovative, but it’s a lot of fun on the train. A great mobile Superman game, then, if not a great Superman game outright. But that’s arguably better than anything the license has delivered before.

iOS (£0.69)

Super Smoothies

Super Smoothies

From Superman, to Super Smoothies, made by a couple of geeks (their word not mine) who’ve never met.

Your task is to make smoothies of the colour specified on each glass by using appropriately coloured fruit. Curiously, I didn’t find the smoothie analogy helpful, since the colour changes so quickly. For example: five bananas followed by a couple of strawberries will make a red smoothie.

But once I’d ditched my own smoothie-making logic and adopted the game’s, I found it a quite serviceable little puzzle game. Once the difficulty picks up – with various non-fruit items to complicate matters – it becomes more about putting items in the least-bad place, than filling the glasses with what you want.

There’s a lengthy Puzzle Mode – with pretty harsh time limits – but to my mind it works better in Time Battle, where your timer gets topped up as a reward for nice big smoothies. It appears to have gone free recently, too.

iOS (free)

Petri-Dash

Petri-Dash - iPhone

The recipe for a great score attack game: a simple idea, with a neat twist, well implemented. Petri-Dash hits the first, lacks the second, and isn’t far off with the third.

You play as an amoeba in a Petri dish, battling to survive by gobbling food and charging at enemies. The simple control scheme is well thought out – touch either side of the screen to turn that way, touch both to charge. But the execution isn’t quite there: it lacks a bit of fluidity by requiring discrete taps – for example you have to fully lift off the screen after charging to turn either way, rather than just release one thumb.

That aside, it’s a rather enjoyable, if quite simple ditty. There’s the odd technical glitch, and it has surprisingly low quality music, but nothing devastating. I’ll certainly be watching what British start-up Distorted Poetry get up to next.

iOS (£0.69 / free)

Nov 20
By Adam Philbin In Mobile Round Up 1 Comment

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…

Shadowgun

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.

iOS (£2.99) / Android (£3.49)

Stardash

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.

iOS (£1.49) / Android (£1.39)

Scribblenauts Remix

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.

iOS (£2.99)

Nov 11
By Adam Philbin In Mobile Round Up No Comments

This week is all about Skyrim really. A few of you might still be interested in some mobile gaming though. Perhaps to keep you occupied whilst on the bus to your local games store or sitting near the mail box. Adam has been admiring Bike Baron and mulling over Atari’s use of the Asteroid’s license, whilst Matt slices Activision’s Prototype advert/game and Jake praises something. Hallelujah!

Bike Baron

The best mobile games generally make use of simple touching and tapping controls, or dragging and swiping across the screen. On screen virtual control pads generally aren’t the greatest solution ever, but Bike Baron manages to stick a handful of virtual buttons on the screen, and still remains impressively playable. The game itself is basically an advanced Excitebike though (accelerating and tilting your bike back and forward), so the controls needn’t be particularly complex.

The polish is pretty strong in this one. Everything about Bike Baron looks lovely, even the menu and credit screens ooze brilliance, and the Baron’s lovely ginger cat adds a bag of charm to the proceedings. It does border on being a little too simple and easy, but that doesn’t stop it being fun and thoroughly entertaining.

iOS (£0.69)

ProtoSlice

ProtoSlice - iPhone

Slice SD is highly regarded by mobile gamers, beaming away on the App Store with a 5/5 review score. Quality comes with a price in this instance though – it costs £1.49. Fortunately Activision has provided a solution for the thrifty out there – a free version, renamed ProtoSlice. The catch? It’s filled with shameless adverts for the upcoming Prototype 2.

The Prototype franchise fits in surprisingly well. The knives that you had to carefully pull back with your fingers in Slice HD have been replaced with blades belonging to the disfigured lead character of Prototype 2. As the developers themselves describe it, this is Twister meets Friday 13th – sometimes you need to have more than two fingers on the screen to gently slide away more than one blade at once. If one of your fingers slips, even slightly, the blade springs back into place, spilling virtual blood all over the screen.

You’ll occasionally swear blind that you never let go, but the fact that you always come back for more proves how addictive this game can be.

iOS (free)

Contre Jour

Contre Jour - iPhone

With a recent update bringing a new pack of ever more elaborate levels, it’s a good opportunity to sing the praises of Contre Jour.

It’s easy to draw comparisons to other physics puzzlers – chiefly Cut The Rope – but it’s executed in a uniquely satisfying way. The landscape can be shaped by your finger, making it a very malleable, tactile experience. The refreshingly refined colour palette adds to the feeling that it’s a world you’re playing with, rather than a string of isolated one-screen puzzles.

The level design is pleasingly varied, mixing relatively simple reaction tests amongst more cerebral fodder, while other levels only unfurl with a little trial and error. Each new toy – tentacles, blowers, portals, slingshots – opens up new possibilities, but without displacing what came before. It is an utter delight.

iOS (£0.69)

Asteroids: Gunner

Asteroids Gunner

32 years since the original Asteroids, Atari are still making use of the license. If you’re a fan of the original, it’s available on the iPhone among the games in Atari’s Greatest Hits, although Asteroids: Gunner gives the concept a lick of paint and some fairly decent twin-stick controls.

It has something of the look and feel of Super Stardust HD, which gives a good first impression. It all feels rather neutered though. The basic gameplay is hard to argue with – shoot asteroids into smaller pieces, shoot even smaller pieces, collect stuff – but Asteroids: Gunner just doesn’t feel as good as it looks. It’s all a little slow, occasionally clunky, and never really gets particularly exciting. It can’t just be a limitation of the game’s heritage, as Super Stardust HD shows that such old-style shooters can still be incredibly energetic and exciting. Come on Atari, give Asteroids a proper 21st century revamp!

iOS (free)

Nov 04
By Adam Philbin In Mobile Round Up No Comments

After finally warming up to Whale Trail last week, Jake spent this week having a fiddle with Tiny Invaders. Exploring the depths of blatant IP theft, Matt has been dabbling with Cut the Birds, whilst Adam has been poking around with wind-up toys and helicopters.

Wind-up Knight

Wind-up Knight Android Game

It looks a bit like Clockwork Knight on the Saturn, but it’s arguably better, and certainly more visually accomplished. Which kind of highlights how far things have come, considering Wind-up Knight is a free (or freemium) Android game.

As usual, it’s all pretty simple – the wind-up knight in question runs forward continuously, as you tap to jump or slash away at enemies with a little sword, to collect coins and wind-up key boosts. It’s just about challenging and fun enough to be entertaining, although the gameplay can get a little repetitive and reliant on memorising the levels. Still, it’s all quite cute and charming, and kind of free (it takes the ‘additional levels cost money’ freemium route).

Android (free)

Cut the Birds

Cut The Birds - iPhone

Plagiarism is nothing new in the world of videogames – back in the early ‘80s just about every other game released for the cassette-based formats was a clone of either Space Invaders or Pac-Man. In this day and age though, it’s a whole lot more frowned upon.

SolverLabs’ Cut The Birds isn’t a mixture of Cut the Rope and Angry Birds as the title suggests, but rather Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds. Birds, which look uncannily similar to those found in Rovio’s hit, fly at the screen and you have to swipe your finger across in a timely fashion before they smash it. Every few seconds a bomb appears – hit this by mistake and it’s ‘Game Over’. One of the birds resembles the bomb, which certainly isn’t coincidence – they look alike in an attempt to fool you.

Controls are responsive and trying to beat your high score gives some replay value, but all too soon the game becomes complete chaos. If Apple decides to take it off the App Store then you wouldn’t be missing out on much.

iOS (free) / Android (free)

Tiny Invaders

Tiny Invaders - iPhone

Tiny Invaders is no shameless clone, but I can’t talk about it without at least mentioning contemplative iOS favourite Trainyard. Both are based around junction-switching puzzles, but their implementation couldn’t be more different.

Tiny Invaders is very much played on the fly, as junctions are switched while your germs are in motion, and against the clock. There’s indefinite time to consider the task ahead before you start, but thereafter it’s generally an enjoyably frantic flailing of fingers to avoid the white blood cells and collect all the orbs, completing the infection.

It’s slightly awkward, in that tapping not only switches junctions, but also speeds up moving bodies – and it’s not uncommon for the two to be confused. In a way, it serves to make the game more frantic, as you try to clear up the mess before time runs out. But it also makes it a tad frustrating when you’re trying to complete the level super-fast to earn those all-important stars.

iOS (£0.69)

Paper Glider Crazy Copter 3D

Paper Glider Crazy Copter 3D

Admittedly, another bit of self-confessed pimping, as one GA writer may have had some involvement with the making of this game, but still, it’s new and it is really quite noteworthy. Paper Glider Crazy Copter 3D is another branch on the Paper Glider tree, this time seeing you control a dinky little remote control helicopter through a series of quite vibrant and tricky courses.

There’s a nice learning curve and genuine satisfaction as the helicopter goes from being an uncontrollable little bastard to a nifty, agile little bastard once you pick up the required skills. It’s all free too (being freemium, you can buy coins to speed up your purchase of upgrades and customisations), and a certain GA writer helped sneak in a nyan-style rainbow boost (which is in no way gay or related to nyan cat…).

iOS (free) / Android (free)

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 21
By Adam Philbin In Mobile Round Up 3 Comments

Welcome to the first in a hopefully regular series covering the latest noteworthy mobile phone games. We’ve dabbled with the idea of mobile and download game round ups in the past, though now we’re going to attempt to do it semi-properly. A couple of months ago the Pickford Brothers referred to us as “yet another website that lumps mobile games reviews together in a round up rather than a page per game”, which we found mildly amusing, seeing as we we’re only just starting our mobile games review round up now and we have given our favourite mobile games full page reviews. There’s nothing wrong with a nice bit of round up though, is there?

So sit down. Stick your hand in your pocket. Grab your phone of choice (assuming it’s an iPhone or Android phone, all you Windows Phone and ironic retro Nokia owners can go piss off), and get ready to download some of these little gems should they tickle your fancy. Unless they’re really shit. We’re not just doing a round up of the most brilliant mobile games are we? Mmm, whatever.

Jetpack Joyride

A few months ago Jake wrote a post about the cost per hour of console games vs apps… Jetpack Joyride is one such mobile game that manages to eat away the hours and provide a surprising amount of entertainment for 69p.

Playing’s rather simple – tap the screen to fire your jetpack and hover upwards. Combined with charming graphics, satisfying sound effects and an OCD-like mission/achievements system that rewards you with coins to buy new outfits and jetpacks, it’s really easy to lose a few hours or more just tapping away at the screen like a small-minded imbecile. High praise indeed.

Download on iPhone/iPad (£0.69)

Whale Trail

Whale Trail might seem a bit familiar after playing Jetpack Joyride, as it’s essentially the same “tap to fly” mechanic – although in this case you control a whale flying through the clouds collecting coloured bubbles. There’s a bit of a Nights into Dreams feeling to it, as you follow the ball trail, building up a multiplier and occasionally pulling off loop the loops (speaking of Nights, now there’s a game Sega need to re-release for iOS).

The melodic Gruff Rhys soundtrack and cutesy visuals are the main reason for people to take notice of Whale Trail. It doesn’t have the same compulsive “one more go” gameplay of Jetpack Joyride, but it provides a pleasant ride through charming scenery, while it lasts. Actually, it might just be all about the music…

Download on iPhone/iPad (£0.69)

Pocket League Story

I feel like I’m doing Kairosoft a bit of a disservice by just giving Pocket League Story this “mini review”, though if you’re a fan of their previous games you’ll probably know what to expect here, and hopefully love it just as much. This is basically Kairosoft’s version of Football Manager. It’s so cute and charming though, even sound-minded non-football-fans may be smitten with it.

Essentially it’s still a game of levelling up, watching numbers increase and growing your team, but as you turn your training ground from a dusty patch to a luscious pitch complete with parking and world class gym facilities, you feel a certain sense of satisfaction. The matches are just about right, short and snappy, enough to enhance the immersion without getting too repetitive. Currently only Android users get to experience the fun, but it will almost certainly get an iPhone release in a month or two, just like most other Kairosoft games.

Download on Android (£2.99)

Minecraft – Pocket Edition

You’ve heard of Minecraft surely? The crafting/mining/lego-style indy game made by one guy that went on to sell almost 4 million copies (and counting). Well, this is the game in mobile form, for Android phones. Having Minecraft in your pocket is rather amazing in its own right. Although, it’s hard to completely recommend this version, as it’s still effectively an alpha (currently at version 0.1.2), and Mojang are charging a rather steep £4.29, when most other mobile games are less than £1 and £2.99 is considered high.

If you have a capable enough Android phone though, this is definitely a game to keep an eye out for. By the time it reaches version 1.0, it could be quite amazing.

Download on Android (£4.29)

Golf Putt Pro 3D

The most amazing golf putting game, like, ever! Or at least on the iPhone. Using the power of your finger, you putt balls… into holes! Ok, admittedly one of the Games Asylum writers may have had some involvement with this game. It’s not like we’re on the developer’s payroll or anything. Well, maybe. It’s free though, so you might as well download it if you like golf or trajectory-based ball games. 87 out of 10!

Download on iPhone/iPad (Free)

 
 

Oct 11
By Jake In Mobile Games 1 Comment

Barcode Battler

The Barcode Battler was rubbish. Sure, it sounded exciting: turn everyday barcodes into exciting warriors, power-ups and so on, then battle them against others. Brilliant!

The reality was somewhat different. The barcodes had to be swiped through a narrow reader, so to even find out what a barcode was worth involved first cutting it off the packaging and taping it to a card. Which quickly became tedious.

Not to mention that the vast majority of barcodes were a massive waste of time. It also didn’t help that the display was little better than the average scientific calculator.

No wonder they’re now utterly worthless – even boxed – on eBay.

Warcode

I’ve often wondered why the brand hasn’t been revived on iPhone – it can scan barcodes, so it seems like an obvious application.

Warcode - iPhone

There isn’t an officially licensed Barcode Battler app, for whatever reason, but the brilliantly named Önders et Gonas (they’re Swedish) obviously spotted the gap in the market. Hence Warcode.

So, does the wonder of modern technology transform the experience of barcode battling? Not really. If anything, the tedium comes quicker: scanning barcodes is infinitely more efficient using the camera, so it takes less time to tire of searching for those rare powerful barcodes.

The game quickly becomes tricky without at least one very high level warrior in your team of three, and it’s not long until you need three of them. As such, how far through the single-player game you get depends on a how long you can be bothered to keep scanning barcodes, and how lucky you are with those barcodes.

Warcode - iPhone

I must have been quite bothered and quite lucky, having reached the lofty heights of the top hundred on the global leaderboard. Mind you, I was in the top thousand before even playing the game.

The initial barcode scanning is fun though, discovering the variety of warriors and equipment the game offers. A frustrating majority of barcodes seem to translate into one of several sorts of soldier, but there are other varieties of warrior to find – it’s definitely worth searching out foreign barcodes to see what stereotypical treats they conceal.

See, it’s not really about the battling. The attraction is the novelty of turning everyday barcodes into exciting warriors. And that novelty is only ever going to be short-lived.

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