Tagged "iPhone"

Nov 23
By Jake In Mobile Games No Comments

Stan Lee's Verticus

There are at least two things going for Verticus. First, it’s got Stan Lee’s name above it, and that’s going to generate a fair smattering of interest. Second, it’s vaguely reminiscent of that sky dive, which is still reasonably fresh in the collective mind.

I do mean vaguely though: thankfully alien attacks weren’t one of the challenges that Felix Baumgartner had to face. In fact, the similarities only run as far as sky diving in a fancy suit. Forget I said it.

So yes, aliens. For some reason or other The Obliterators want to, well, obliterate the earth, by exploding some sort of elaborate device at the centre of the planet. It’s your job to dive down, grab said device, and get it the heck into space. Along the way there are coins and orbs to grab, pointy bits and aliens to avoid, and a big boss thing to tolerate for a short time before it helpfully gets out of the way.

Stan Lee's Verticus

And once you’ve done all that? Do it again, but with more things in your way – because it’s an endless, high score chaser of a game. Or equally, it’s a money-grabbing exercise, since you can always carry on playing if you’ve got enough orbs – either collected or, yes, bought with actual, factual money.

The same goes for coins, which are used to buy upgrades. Thankfully the essential upgrades – rocket launcher, armour – are easily got without resorting to IAPs. I say resorting because, at £1.49 up front, it’s a bit rich to be pumped for yet more pennies.

There’s a nice learning curve to climb before successfully saving the earth for the first time, and it’s good fun to that point. Beyond that, there’s not a lot of reason for repeated playing, since there’s little obvious variation – unless you fancy forking out to keep going for high scores.

The controls, too, don’t do much to tempt you to keep playing. They’re serviceable, but there’s no weight to them, and the depth perception isn’t quite right, so playing isn’t particularly satisfying in and of itself. Go back to AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! to see how to do weighty, fun, imaginative falling.

Version: iPhone
iTunes App Store: £1.49 (but free for today only)

Nov 08
By Adam Philbin In Blog 3 Comments

So Peter Molyneux’s “social experiment” Curiosity – what’s inside the cube has been out for two days now, and at the time of writing more than 396,000 people have tapped away at the giant cube, destroying more than 163 million cubelets. The big question remains – what is inside the cube? We’d like to offer some suggestions…

Peter Molyneux jazz handsA photo of Peter Molyneux
We wouldn’t be remotely surprised if the centre of the cube contained a giant photo of Peter Molyneux. Though the game’s FAQ does suggest the contents of the center are displayed within a video. So, a video of Peter Molyneux singing and dancing, with waving jazz hands? No one would put it past him. But could the centre of the cube contain something even more inspiring? What could possibly be more inspiring?

A SphereA Sphere
What could possibly be better than a cube? A sphere, that’s what. Sphere’s are much better than cubes. If Peter’s looking for a new avenue to go down after the success of Curiosity, we speculate that he could look into making a sphere tapping game. So, will the final cube tapper reveal a spherical sequel to the cube-based wonder? If we were to hazard a guess, we’d say… probably not. It’s an idea worthy of consideration though. Pete loves his 3D shapes.

RickrollRickroll
Knowing Peter’s odd sense of humour and the pleasure he takes in trolling the gaming community, some have speculated that the centre of the cube may just contain a Youtube link to Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. In the event that this happens, we may have to refer to Peter Molyneux as a comedy genius and a brilliant man of our modern age.

What else do you think could be inside the cube?

Nov 02
By Jake In Mobile Games 3 Comments

Punch Quest

Punch Quest is free. And it’s brilliant. What more needs to be said? Let’s see.

I quite often invoke Jetpack Joyride as a comparison for mobile games, and I’m going to have to again here: from your character bursting through the wall at the start, through the endless running and classy 16-bit graphics, to the three additional goals in play at a time, it’s very reminiscent indeed.

But the genius is that while the structure, furniture and paraphernalia are familiar, Rocketcat Games have applied it to a completely different genre: the scrolling beat ’em up.

With a straight punch, and an upper cut doubling up as a jump, the controls are suitably pared back, but leave a surprising amount of room for combos and special moves. Those specials are bought from the shop and equipped two at a time, the unlocking gently guided by the goals that you’re set.

More specifically, that guidance comes in the form of tiny gnomes which bob around on the goals, leading you to the shop and to the particular special you need to achieve that goal. You can turn into a gnome during the game too. Or jump on a laser spitting dinosaur. Or have massive fists orbiting you. It’s delightfully strange.

Punch Quest

Back to the shop: you earn coins through playing, and at such a rate that I always had more than enough for upgrades when I needed them. This is good: no-one likes overly aggressive in-app purchases.

But at the same time, I don’t like not paying for a game when it’s worth paying for. It’s like Rocketcat Games don’t want your money: the shop itself is almost hidden away. But they do want your money: there’s a very appreciative message when you buy coins, and you get a snazzy hat as a reward.

Pocket Gamer had some interesting comments from the developer in the week on this very subject: they have indeed had very few people spending money, and are learning from the experience.

So if you’ve not got it, get it – it’s free! And if you do like it, do throw them some pennies – it’s only fair.

Version: iPhone
iTunes App Store: free

Oct 26
By Jake In Features No Comments

I was thinking about handheld screens recently – don’t ask – and a question occurred to me: when did everyone decide that, yes, widescreen definitely is the answer?

There’s only one way to answer that question: a scatter graph of screen width by year. WITH A TREND LINE.

Handheld Aspect Ratios

Look at that: what a trend line! Thanks to him, the gradual shift from nearly square screens (1:1) to widescreen (1.78:1 being the standard 16:9 widescreen TV aspect ratio) is clear to see. What a hero.

In fact, there was a square screen, on the not particularly legendary early ’90s Supervision – Quickshot or Watara, depending on your persuasion. The Game Boy and Game Gear were barely more rectangular, mind, at 1.11:1.

Around the same time, the Atari Lynx was being much more ambitious. The 1.57:1 aspect ratio nicely illustrates that: there’s nothing closer to widescreen on our graph until Sony with the PSP, 15 years later.

Around 2000, the next generation of handhelds started to move to slightly wider screens. Nintendo were strange ones around this time, the DS retreating back to 1.33:1 from the Game Boy Advance’s 1.5:1. They got back in line with the 3DS though, and a more respectable 1.67:1.

In fact, over the last few years it’s the iPhone 4 which looks most anachronistic, matching the Game Boy Advance’s aspect ratio of 1.5:1. Again, Apple got back in line though, with 1.78:1 – which looks close to an industry standard now – for the iPhone 5.

Analysis over. Source data follows, if that’s your thing.

(more…)

Oct 22
By Jake In Mobile Games No Comments

An imagined conversation

Tom: “Sonic Jump? That’s just a rip off of Doodle Jump.”

Dick: “Ah, no, the original Sonic Jump was released for non-smart phones back in 2006, pre-dating Doodle Jump by a good three years.”

Harry: “SHUT UP I DON’T CARE IT’S NO FUN.”

Some elaboration

Functionally, there’s nothing wrong with Sonic Jump. Jumping is automatic, tapping to double jump is accurate, and the tilt controls perform perfectly well.

But I had virtually no fun playing it. The graphics are nice and colourful, but lack anything to make you smile. The level design is bland, the music joyless.

The stages typically take less than a minute to complete, yet seem so much longer, because you come across so little that’s remotely distinctive. The zones – three of them at the moment – have 11 acts before the boss, which seems never-ending. There’s too little imagination stretched too thinly.

Even when things do change – new types of platform, for example – it doesn’t get more interesting. It doesn’t even get less interesting, or frustrating, or in any way different. It just feels like more of the same.

A conclusion

It’s Sonic, but he’s dead inside.

Version: iPhone
iTunes App Store: £1.49

Oct 05
By Jake In Mobile Round Up No Comments

Mobile developers like to make life hard for themselves, it would seem: platformers are thriving on mobiles, yet touch screens don’t have the delicious precision of physical buttons that the genre demands. Rayman Jungle Run notably rose to the challenge recently, but here are a couple of other recent examples that tickled my platforming fancy.

Bitless
version: iPhone

Bitless

One solution to the buttons problem is to strip the controls right back. That’s exactly what Bitless does: your little square careers through the stage, changing direction if it hits a wall, and all you can do to help it get to the portal marking the end of the stage is tap to jump.

Simple controls, then, but the game makes life anything but simple. It’s a brutal test of memory and, for want of a better phrase, deftness of tap – a longer tap for a longer jump. Throw in wall jumps, crumbling platforms – which you might have to traverse more than once – and evil eyes that want to kill you, and you have a recipe for, well, some sort of iOS platform game, clearly.

It could be frustrating, but not only is the game brutally hard, it’s also brutally fair – with controls this simple, death is nobody’s fault but your own. The game’s post-death dialogue with you – “OUCH”, “DELICIOUS”, “LOLZ” – helps, as do rapid restarts. You might not see the end of the game – I certainly won’t – but it’s good to be pushed sometimes.

iOS: £0.69
Windows Phone: £0.79

Mikey Shorts
version: iPhone

Mikey Shorts

It’s also nice not to be pushed too hard sometimes, which is the approach Mikey Shorts takes. The virtual controls – left and right, jump and slide – are as good as they get, and perform admirably with the wisely dialled-back difficulty. Story mode can be rinsed through in a sitting or two, but that’s not the whole… er… story.

There’s also the small matter of dozens of trickier challenge levels, with strict limits to hit. As things get more frantic, the inherently slippery virtual controls occasionally reveal their limitations, but that’s not the lasting impression of the game.

Back to story mode, at first there isn’t even the concept of death, and later on falling through a gap only results in you being put back a platform or two to try again. This doesn’t remove all challenge though, because speed is the name of the game.

There are coins to collect, but other than touching every statue along the way, the clock is all that counts when it comes to your star rating. There’s a separate, optional target of collecting every coin, and finding the hidden pair of pants, but your chief concern is getting to the end of the level as quickly as possible.

Without death to unnecessarily concern you, this is good old-fashioned fun. You always succeed, which is nice – just at first you might succeed quite badly.

The oddball look of the game adds to the appeal, especially when you start spending your in-game coins on strange little disguises for Mikey. Yes, it’s a funny little game. But also a fun one.

iOS: £0.69 / free (first four levels)

Oct 04
By Jake In Mobile Games No Comments

Supermagical

The idea of Supermagical is neat: whack a story and some light RPG elements onto the classic bubble-popping game. It looks and sounds fantastic. What a shame, then, that the game goes out of its way to make playing it a real bloody chore.

Turning the classic mechanic on its side makes absolutely no difference, but all the stages are designed, rather than endless random bubble-popping. All good and well, except if you need to go back and replay stages, in which case it’s quite repetitive thank you very much. And you will need to replay stages, to collect enough coins to keep making progress.

Yes, money is tight. The game’s shops have all sort of handy goods on offer: special items to use in and out of stages, upgrades, ingredients for spells – and things that you need to enter certain levels. Which mean, at numerous points in the game, you have to pay a fee to continue playing. If you’ve just been tempted to indulge in an upgrade and wiped out your savings, then, well, tough. Cough up for a micro-transaction, or churn away.

Supermagical

Now, I don’t mind paying for my games, but particularly when I’ve paid upfront for the game in the first place, I’d prefer to be encouraged to splash some pennies to make my life easier, rather than being held to ransom. It’s just rude.

Alas, that’s not the only complaint. You can only move between adjacent stages on the map – unless you buy a special item. Which shop is that item to be found? You have to remember, or check each one in turn – unless you want to pay for a special item that tells you what’s on sale where, of course. Making the game downright annoying to encourage micro-transactions is, again, just rude tadalafil otc.

All of which is, as I said, a shame – because there’s charm oozing out of the rest of the package. There are a few different styles of stage – where you’re limited to a specific sequence of bubbles, for example – and neat conversational ‘boss’ stages, where choosing the wrong response is punished with a bit of enforced bubble-popping. And within the core game, you get to choose two of several special powers at any given time, and can use sweets to change the colour of the bubble at hand.

You know what would have helped? An endless play mode where you could happily churn the day away. Ho hum.

Version: iPhone
iTunes App Store: £0.69

Oct 02
By Jake In Mobile Round Up 2 Comments

They say that it’s a fine line between love and hate. What does that mean? Nobody knows that. But it might explain why I ended up playing a game I don’t really like as much as one that warmed my cockles something silly.

Super Hexagon
version: iPhone

Super Hexagon

I fully expected to love Super Hexagon. Reviews have been absurdly good, and it looks bloody wonderful, in a super-minimalist sort of way. But I’d argue that it’s impossible to love something this unrelentingly cold.

It’s very, very simple: you move your triangle around the central hexagon – clockwise or anticlockwise depending on which side of the screen you press – to avoid the lines coming at you. Let a line hit you, and you die. Retry, and you’re taunted with a cry of “AGAIN” from the game’s digital voice. That is the extent of the interaction.

It takes patience to get used to the overly twitchy controls, and you’re hardly encouraged to do so. I didn’t really want to, but the purity of the challenge meant I had to. Progress is incremental, but once it starts to click – and you start to memorise what’s going to come at you – it’s undeniably satisfying.

But it’s missing something. Gauge tries to distract you, laughs at you, pesters you; there’s a perverse sense of humour in the level design in 774 Deaths. Super Hexagon doesn’t even seem to enjoy your miserable failure – which sort of takes the fun out of it, doesn’t it?

iOS: £1.99

Voyager
version: iPhone

Voyager

And from quite the opposite corner of the App Store, the delightfully handmade – literally – Voyager. In Oh My! Me Studios’ own words, the game is “100% hand-crafted using needle-felted wool and stop-motion animated”. How great is that? It’s heart-warming that this game even exists.

The charm offensive continues when you play the thing. The tilt controls are nicely calibrated, and soaring up through the atmosphere and beyond into space is a gentle joy, seeing what oddity you’ll come across next. When you eventually crash, you’re consoled with some choice words of wisdom. But difficulty and challenge don’t really come into it; it’s a dreamy journey that’s enjoyable just to go on.

As a result, it’s not the most compelling game to return to. But look at it! It’s lovely.

iOS: £0.69

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