Tagged "iPad"

Mar 02
By Jake In Mobile Games 1 Comment

Gluddle

It’s hard to predict what’s going to make something stand out on the App Store. In the case of Gluddle, it was the screenshot above faintly recalling some Lemon Jelly album artwork. It’s quite the stylish game, to my eye.

It’s more physics-based fun, in this case launching bouncy balls (‘Gluddle’) to knock into targets (‘The Supervision’). Handily, you can freeze a Gluddle in mid-air whenever you like, to bounce subsequent Gluddle off. Less handily, The Supervision can also freeze Gluddle if they stay in their gaze too long.

Gluddle

As usual, levels slowly become more complicated – by the likes of black holes and transporters. And of course there are targets on time and number of Gluddles used.

What’s nice is that not all of the levels are highly orchestrated. There are levels with targets such that there’s only really one solution, but also more free-form levels. These have much higher targets, letting you freeze Gluddle all over the place and improvise your way to completion.

This plays neatly on the chaotic nature of the physics, where a small change to the launch angle can result in a very different path for your Gluddle several bounces later. It’s like throwing a bouncy ball very hard indoors and seeing what it smashes. Fun, in other words.

The only sticking point is the price. Peanuts in absolute terms, yes, but three times the price of many equally good one-screen physics-based games? It’s a tough market out there.

Version: iPhone
App Store: £1.99

Feb 24
By Jake In Mobile Games 1 Comment

Beat Hazard Ultra

Beat Hazard Ultra looks fantastic, with its neon explosions and swirling backgrounds, and sounds – well, it sounds as good as your iTunes library. Which in my case is excellent, I’ll have you know.

Here’s the twist: the soundtrack you choose is used to generate the on-screen action. More going on aurally means more going on visually, affecting the enemies, your firepower, and the backgrounds. Volume power-ups heighten the effect, and there are others to increase your multiplier, smart bombs and so forth.

Beat Hazard Ultra

The action matches the music enough to convince, but not too much to hamper the game. There’s a lot of fun to be had just playing around with different types of music; Girls Aloud work fantastically, Fanfarlo less so.

There’s a choice of single and twin stick control. Shooting is automatic with a single stick, leaving you to duck and dive – but mainly just enjoy the visualisation effects, as the auto-firing is fearsomely accurate. It’s inevitably a more challenging beast with twin sticks. Either way, the virtual controls are surprisingly unproblematic; it’s hard to quantify exactly what makes them work where others don’t, but they’re responsive, accurate and unobtrusive.

They need to be, too, particularly for the boss enemies. The pace varies hugely, not always entirely based on the music, but at times you’re faced with a screen full of hell. Which, as every gamer knows, is a good thing.

It’s a fun visualiser, then, but also a very nice shooter. And all that by one man UK studio Cold Beam Games. Ludicrously impressive stuff.

Version: iPhone
App Store: £0.69

Feb 10
By Jake In Mobile Round Up No Comments

Some games are dangerous. There was no mobile round-up last week, because Triple Town monopolised my time to the point that I’d not played the rest of the games I was intending to write about.

Actually, that’s not quite true, because I did get around to writing about Kimi Raikkonen ICEONE Racing elsewhere. (It’s not great.)

So: onto the games that I should have written about last week.

Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon
version: iPhone

Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon

In an App Store full of cartoon-cuteness, it’s surprising that more games don’t try to stand out by being differently lovely to look at. Like Sir Benfro here, with his gorgeous eye-nugget of a world, the tone to my mind recalling Wes Anderson as much as the stated influences of the likes of Terry Gilliam and Studio Ghibli. Which is a good thing. It’s so successful, in fact, that a picture book based on his travels is already in the works.

As a game, it’s not quite as interesting. Exploring the four worlds uses a tried and tested mechanic: tap and hold to float upwards, release to drop. You have to collect the ‘hilariously’ named Light Emitting Daves – which make a sound which might as well have been lifted from LocoRoco – to keep floating, and bumping into the scenery or monsters causes a further loss of Daves.

It’s passably entertaining, but the balance is slightly off. It’s too easy to get stuck on an obstacle, losing all your Daves in the process. With long levels which require a modicum of memory, this can be a touch tiresome.

But it really does look ruddy lovely. For visual nourishment alone it is emphatically worth 69 pennies.

iOS (£0.69)

Triple Town
version: iPhone

Triple Town

Apparently, Facebook games aren’t all rubbish. This is, quite genuinely, news to me. Shameful, I know, but there it is. The proof is Triple Town, frankly one of the most inspired ideas in years.

I love a bit of match-three, but that’s ingeniously turned on its head here. Placing three or more matching items on your town map not only removes them, but replaces them with an evolved item where you put the final one. Grass becomes hedges becomes trees – it goes on. These evolved items can too be matched, and so it continues. Cue much mental gymnastics to work backwards four or five evolutions. It’s fantastically intricate.

Bears complicate matters by wandering around, getting in the way. But they can be turned into gravestones by trapping them in a space, and these can be matched to turn into churches – and so on. Later, ninja bears are even worse, as they can’t be trapped. But robots can be used to destroy any item, and there are crystals to use as wildcards. Plus a shop for when you need it, where you can spend coins earned or bought.

And it’s free, for God’s sake. That gives you limited – though quite generous – moves, which replenish over time. But if you’re not willing to spend £2.49 (on iOS at least) to unlock infinite moves by the time you need them, then you’re just being difficult.

iOS (free) / Android (free)

LostWinds
version: iPhone

LostWinds

As even Nintendo would admit, WiiWare hasn’t exactly been a rip-roaring success. But it has been peppered with highlights, one being 2008’s LostWinds. An adventure game with vague nods to the likes of Zelda and Metroid, the core mechanic of creating gusts of wind makes it a good candidate for a touchscreen conversion.

For the most part, it’s a very successful job. The intriguing, but manageable, unravelling game world definitely helps in the mobile suitability stakes, and the wind-based puzzles – which variously involve water, fire, boulders and the like – are no less charming.

The controls have been tweaked in an update since release, but I’m not convinced that a game converted to rather than designed for a touchscreen is ever going to feel absolutely right. Nevertheless, drawing a gust of wind to carry Toku over a chasm is a delight, and movement by tapping areas of the screen is effortless. Other than the awkward combat, it’s just when fine accuracy is required that it falls short, probably nothing more than an inevitable result of a fat finger on a reasonably small screen.

iOS (£2.49)

Jan 27
By Adam Philbin In Mobile Round Up 3 Comments

Though it was released quite a few months ago, Temple Run is the game dominating the App Store today – yes it’s free, but it’s also high up in the Top Grossing chart, thanks to the sheer volume of downloads and in-app purchases.

Tiny Tower developers NimbleBit rightly had a pop at Zynga this week, after Zynga shamelessly copied Tiny Towers to make a rip-off called Dream Heights. It’s nothing new for Zynga though, a company well known for copying, buying and sometimes stealing other company’s games – such as MyFarm and Mob Wars.

Now, how about some nice mobile game reviews.

Paper Monsters
version: iPhone

Paper Monsters iPhone

The monsters in the title might be a bit misleading, as they’re merely there for you to crush and jump on, as in Mario and countless other platformers. But regardless, Paper Monsters looks lovely. Really, quite pretty indeed.

It’s a fairly standard 2D platformer, as you run along at a fairly relaxing pace and jump to collect buttons and paper clips. The characters are all beautifully created, origami-style 3D creations, in a bright landscape full of flowers, mushrooms and rainbows. Ok, no points for originality, but it looks oh so very nice. Occasionally the frame rate struggles to keep up, and the controls can feel a little unresponsive at times, but… puurrrty!

iOS (£0.69)

Epic Astro Story
version: Android

Epic Astro Story Android

Kairosoft can basically do no wrong, we all know this by now. As the name suggests, Epic Astro Story is possibly their most epic game to date – this time, you’re in space! (Well, a newly colonised planet, with space tourists and interplanetary expeditions.)

Fans of other Kairosoft games such as Pocket Academy and Hot Springs Story might know what to expect, although Epic Astro Story crams a bit more in. You basically need to develop your colony – in a manner similar to Sim City or perhaps Civilization. Whilst at the same time, you need to train and level-up your “away team” (full of appropriately named characters such as “James Turk” and “Jean Luc Vicard”), as you send them on missions to other planets and unexplored lands. This is where it all gets a little bit Final Fantasy, as you arrange your away team members, equip them with appropriate weapons and armour, and watch them scrap it out with alien monsters. It’s mildly strategic and exceedingly cute.

It’s hard to say anything negative about Epic Astro Story, as it really does its name proud. Perhaps a sequel could be a little more in-depth… maybe the phone battery could last a bit longer. Probably if it was 69p more people would buy it. It’s close to flawless though, and exceedingly adorable at the same time.

Android (£2.99)

Paper Glider vs. Gnomes
version: iPad

Paper Glider vs Gnomes Neon Play

The latest Neon Play game. Those guys are great, huh, huh (wink, wink!). (Full disclosure – a Games Asylum writer may have worked on this game.)

What do you get if you cross Paper Glider, with one of those destructive, puzzly physics games (yeh, you’re all thinking it… Crush the Castle!). You get Paper Glider vs. Birds Gnomes, that’s what!

There’s a bit more to it than just flinging a rock at a tower though – you need to throw your glider, drop bombs, and use a little thought to deal with the various contraptions, switches and puzzles. Plus it looks quite nice, the gnomes sound funny, and it’s free (you can buy power-ups, but they’re really not necessary), so you can’t say fairer than that.

iOS (free) / Android (free)

Dec 17
By Matt Gander In Mobile Round Up No Comments

There’s a little bit of a retro revival happening on the App Store. Last week saw a new Dizzy game roll out and EA’s Theme Park get some new life pumped into it; this week Grand Theft Auto III gets a 10th Anniversary Edition and Sega has slipped Sonic CD onto the App Store.

It’s not just the arrival of these games that has got the big name news sites talking. Last week Microsoft launched an official Xbox Live app. My Xbox Live isn’t too much to get excited about though. You can send messages to people on your friends list, change your avatar’s clothes, view your achievements and, well, that’s about it. It could however prove useful to those who want to organise online games with friends while away from the Xbox.

Apple’s annual 12 Days of Christmas app is now available to download too. This rather lovely app gives you a free download every day from 26th December through to early January. Previous freebies from the past two Christmases have included episodes of TV shows (including Father Ted and Outnumbered) along with games, music downloads and the occasional movie.

Amusingly, people on the App Store have given it a bad rating thinking that it ran from 1st December to the 12th. A few others have also mistaken it for an advent calendar. Never hurts to read the description, does it?

Stupidity aside, let’s crack on with this week’s mobile reviews: Matt on Theme Park, Jake on Breakout: Boost and Adam on Majesty: Fantasy Kingdom Sim.

Theme Park

Although pleasing visually with all the polish we’ve come to expect from an EA game, Theme Park really hasn’t been made to please fans of the original. Instead it feels like it has been designed for those that like to waste an hour or so a day playing the likes of Tap Zoo, Farmville and Smurfs’ Village.

Theme Park - iOS

It’s a free download but you’re constantly nagged to purchase bundles of ‘super tickets’ to create new rides quicker and unlock new items sooner. A free rollercoaster can also be yours if you sign up to Origin. Prices of the extra packages range from £1.49 to a staggering £69.99. Seventy quid!

There’s an insane amount of tapping to do – rides have to be tapped on to collect their earnings while bins have to be tapped to be emptied. You can also improve the entertainment value of a ride by, you guessed it, tapping on it rigorously.

Some things are better than the original though. You no longer have to put paths down as they’re already there when you start. Placing paths on the Nintendo DS version was a nightmare as one little slip meant you accidentally ended up placing a path stretching right to the back of the park. You can also select themes for sections of your park, such as pirates and cowboys, and the surroundings will be automatically decorated accordingly. An achievement system adds incentive to keep playing too.

Not a bad game by any means, but you won’t find much nostalgia here and once you’ve built the free stuff there isn’t much to do without having to cough up some cash.

iOS (free)

Breakout: Boost

Breakout: Boost - iOS

I’m a sucker for a good bit of block breaking. It’s been done a million times before, but I’ll always have another look. So to Atari’s latest iOS example of the genre.

Its one concession to originality is a slider which controls the speed of the game, and with it your score multiplier. It’s a neat risk-reward idea, but I found myself just settling on a moderately fast speed and not really bothering to change it much. Maybe I’m just lazy. Otherwise it’s down to a fairly familiar selection of block and ball types to add some variety.

The free download gives you a not-particularly-generous five levels, but throwing 69p at it yields plenty more. It’s all very functional, but completely lacking in personality; the aesthetic is vaguely futuristic, in the least interesting way possible.

iOS (free)

Majesty: Fantasy Kingdom Sim

Majesty Fantasy Kingdom Sim

I was going to write about the interesting looking space building game Space Frontier, with its cute Korean to English mistranslations (“Tap to screen”, ho ho ho!), but the game was such a chore to play, and then I came upon a rather similar but much better executed game – Majesty: Fantasy Kingdom Sim. Best of all, it was only 10p (or $0.10) in Google’s 10 Billion Android Apps sale.

At first glance it appears to be a fairly typical fantasy strategy game. It’s not quite though. It’s set in a fantasy world, but it’s more fairy tales than Tolkien, and the game itself is basically about fortress/city building. There are warriors and wizards, but you don’t control them directly, they just go about and do their thing, guided by the buildings and upgrades that you create. It makes things a bit more basic, but the slower paced, simpler gameplay suits relaxing moments on a mobile phone. If you really want to get a bit more hands on, you do get the chance to cast a few spells should you wish.

The price will jump up to the regular £1.99 soon, but it’s worth it if you like this sort of thing. It feels satisfyingly polished, with very sharp gameplay and crisp pixel-drawn graphics. In some ways it’s like Tap Zoo or Happy City or whatever, although playable in hours rather than days, and not constantly asking you for money as you try to do anything. Quite good then.

iOS (£1.99) / Android (£1.99)

Dec 04
By Adam Philbin In Mobile Round Up No Comments

The last week has been a bit quiet for the various app stores, although Infinity Blade II, the sequel to the massively successful original, was a fairly noteworthy release. We haven’t bothered reviewing that though, as we’d probably just write “it’s almost exactly the same as the original, only better”. I suppose you could call that our review then.

ChuChu Rocket

A new release for Android at least, although the iPhone version came out last year, with the Dreamcast original now twelve years old. Jake actually covered ChuChu Rocket earlier this year, where he grumbled a bit that it wasn’t free like the Dreamcast version. It’s hard to complain at 69p though.

We may have reviewed ChuChu Rocket more than any other game on this site, come to think of it (on the Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance, iPhone, and now Android, if you’re interested). So for that reason, long live ChuChu Rocket!

iOS (£1.99) / Android (£0.69)

Jelly Defense

Possibly one of the most overdone genres on the iPhone, this tower defense game does at least exude buckets of charm and simple yet beautiful graphics. The limitations on placing your towers make it a little more strategic than simply building a vast array of giant lasers. Even when the action gets quite hectic, with your base about to be overrun by bouncing jelly blobs, it still all feels quite calm and relaxing. That’s both a strength and weakness of the game – it’s thoroughly likeable, yet doesn’t always manage to suck you in.

iOS (£1.99) / Android (£1.99)

Traffic Panic 3D

Traffic Panic 3D

Another bit of self-promotion here, as one of the GA writers (this one) worked on the graphic and interface design. It’s still rather good on its own merits though, a deceptively simple game where you stop and start the traffic lights, to either flow the traffic through or cause big collisions, earning credits to unlock better and more explosive vehicles.

Matt said it was a bit like Burnout Crash for iPhone, which isn’t totally inaccurate, although it plays completely differently (you’re not driving a car, for starters). It’s out now on iOS, with the Android version following in the next week.

iOS (£0.69)

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 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)

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