Tagged "iPhone"

Jan 20
By Jake In Mobile Round Up No Comments

Everyone’s talking about The Artist – the awards-tipped nearly-silent movie starring Channel 5’s The Hotel Inspector and the bad psychic from Phoenix Nights. That’s partly because the film’s very good, but also in no small part because it uses technology no longer common in mainstream cinema – silent film, black and white, 4:3 aspect ratio.

That got me thinking about different it is in the world of games, where old fashioned has been borderline-trendy for some time. It helps that old for games isn’t actually that long ago; we have an established word for it – retro; and natural, relatively high profile places for it to reside – mobiles and downloads. On the App Store alone this week we’ve had the Tamagotchi faithfully resurrected as Hatchi, and Jeff Minter’s latest retro-tinged thing Caverns of Minos.

Anyway, onto some not-very-retro mobile games.

Run Roo Run
version: iPhone

Run Roo Run

Less is more, or more is more? 5TH Cell have both angles covered with this micro-platformer, their first new IP since Scribblenauts: levels typically last 3-5 seconds, but there are hundreds and hundreds of the things – and ten more added every week.

Standard levels come in groups of 15, each of which introduces a new element – fans, springs, double jump, etc. It gives the game a curious tempo, since each group of levels starts off simply to introduce the new element, then grows in complexity, bringing in combinations of earlier elements. So there’s a nice arc to follow even if you’re only playing for a couple of minutes.

The standard levels are, however, distinctly on the forgiving side. In an attempt to balance that, each group of levels successfully completed spawns a set of extreme levels, which demand an awful lot more precision. There’s probably a more satisfying solution somewhere, but it’s better than blocking progress with unreasonably tricky levels.

iOS (£0.69)

Woody Woodpecker
version: iPhone

Woody Woodpecker

A competitive version of Tiny Wings? Why not! Starring Woody Woodpecker? Er, okay!

The similarity to Apple’s game of the year is clear to see, but putting a racing game on top of the ‘tap to fall, release to fly’ mechanic is a fine idea. The addition of recharging power ups and various obstacles differentiates it further.

And for the most part, it works. It looks suitably smart, and the simple controls are eminently effective. It’s in the little details that it falls slightly short: your view of the level doesn’t always keep the ground in good sight, and given the importance of hitting a nice downward slope, that’s not ideal. The placing seems to go a bit wonky on the final sprint to the line too: places are often gaining without overtaking anyone, even after crossing the finish line.

iOS (£0.69)

Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix and Her Nightmare
version: iPhone

Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix and Her Nightmare

Following success on Windows Phone, Replay Games have brought Vanessa and Her Elaborately Named Game to iOS. Bad Pilcrow’s platform-puzzler has an interesting conceit: its levels are mapped onto the sides of a cube, and to get to the exit you have to rotate the sides, changing the direction of gravity, and opening and closing passages between the sides.

Once block moving puzzles, keys to collect, and dangerous spikes are introduced, it hits a difficulty sweet spot, and it’s all rather enjoyable. Towards the end of the game, adding spiders to avoid and relying more on platforming elements takes it a step too far.

The problem with the platforming side is one of precision: the controls are bafflingly laid-out (see screenshot) and a tad unresponsive. It’s a lower resolution affair than one has come to expect, though the art style is quite nice. It’s also on the short side at just 36 levels, and an inconsistent star-rating system limits the attraction of replaying.

iOS (£0.69) / Windows Phone (£0.79)

Jan 13
By Jake In Mobile Round Up No Comments

The App Store charts look quite familiar at the start of 2012, with Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Bejeweled and so on all taking the top spots in an effort to make all other mobile game developers feel a little hopeless. At least Catchphrase is high in the charts, which should please Roy Walker.

Nintendo might be slightly annoyed with Mole Kart (we’ll avoid the hyperlink), a game which not only copies Mario Kart, but directly rips off some of its tracks too. Almost as blatant as Angry Chickens.

In another piece of self promotion, Paper Glider vs. Gnomes has just been released on iOS and Android, with a dozen or so levels crafted by the dainty hands of our own Mr Philbin. It’s free, so get that to shut Adam up.

Now some games about augmented sound and art.

Dimensions. Adventures in the Multiverse

Dimensions. Adventures in the Multiverse

A game based on augmented sound is a fascinating idea, and the initial noodling around with Dimensions doesn’t disappoint: noises around you in the real world come at you pleasingly translated and distorted through your earphones, over and above the soundtrack which changes depending on what you’re up to. The idea is that you leave Dimensions running in the background as you go about your business, and every now and then you’re notified that there’s an Artifact to collect or a Nephilim to fend off.

There’s just one problem with this. Both activities use up Quantum Cells, which appear around you relatively frequently, and can be collected by scanning the environment occasionally. But this requires you to pay constant attention to the game, which is not really the point: as I said, the idea is to have it as a background; Artifacts and Nephilim are relatively infrequent. The solution is to buy Quantum Cells with actual money. When the app itself is already at the pricier end of the scale, this is a bit much.

The game is quite a demanding beast, too. The different dimensions are unlocked by being quiet and noisy (fine), playing between midnight and 1am (bit specific), and promoting the game to your friends (sod off). Notifications, too, are on the bothersome side – though developers RjDj have taken note of this in a recent update, and they can of course be turned off.

It all adds up to a game that, for my money, just asks a bit too much of the player, in return for relatively little beyond the initial joy of discovering what the game does with augmented sound. It’s an intriguing curiosity, and there’s definitely potential in this area, but that’s not quite fulfilled here.

iOS (£1.99)

Race Against Time

Race Against Time

I enjoy a wander around Tate Modern as much as the next pleb, and developers Somethin’ Else – The Nightjar, Linkem – are a class act. Combine the two, and what’s not to like?

Not a lot, though initially it might not seem that way. You control a little chameleon guy, jumping through levels based around the art of each decade from the 20th and 21st centuries. For the first few levels, it’s all a bit pedestrian: the action is undemanding, and the background – inspired by the art styles of the time – doesn’t seem particularly varied to my idiot’s eye.

But the second half of the game is a different matter: the variation in scenery and music is far more noticeable, and all the better for it; the levels themselves become exacting sequences of jumping and power-up collecting, long enough to challenge but short enough not to irritate.

Not surprisingly, there’s a bit of education in there too: a nice modern art timeline, and explanations of the different art styles unlocked as achievements.

iOS (free)

Dec 23
By Jake In Mobile Round Up 2 Comments

There do seem to be a lot of conversions swimming around the mobile gaming pond at the moment, and the big fish in that pond is of course Grand Theft Auto III: 10 Year Anniversary Edition. It’s been interesting to watch the reviews roll in – overwhelmingly positive with the odd notable exceptions, such as Eurogamer.

No review of that here though; my copy of the Grand Theft Auto Double Pack, which I bought for Xbox many years ago, sits unplayed in my spare room, so I’m not about to jump into a tiny fiddly version of the same game.

Let’s move swiftly on to things that are reviewed here, then. Plus, a few pointers for some very tempting freebies this festive period.

Star Sky

Star Sky

The blurb for this not-really-a-game, which debuted on PC and has now made it to iOS, uses the phrase “interactive poem”, which will instantly turn a lot of people off. But it’s a fairly helpful way to describe the tone of the thing.

That tone being quite attractive and moderately intriguing. Playing through once won’t reveal all there is to see, as events do or don’t unfold, by player choice or otherwise. It’s quite brief, so repeat plays are not an big ask.

The way you play through the piece is less subtle and interesting. You walk or run by touching the screen; a musical flourish denotes places where something may happen, and if it’s going to happen little sparks appear when you stop.

That’s it: you’re largely a passenger, watching signposted events happen when they do. It’s certainly different, and worth a look for that reason. The sparseness is presumably intended to give you space for contemplation, but to my mind it could have done with a bit more incidental background detail to make the meandering more engaging.

iOS (£1.99)

Dizzy – Prince of the Yolkfolk

Dizzy - Prince of the Yolkfolk

I never really liked Dizzy. Actually, that’s not true: I liked aiming for him as he walked along the net in the bonus game in Pete Sampras Tennis for the Mega Drive. But his mix of object-based puzzling and unforgiving platforming always struck me as a touch irritating. But then I was a stupid, impatient child, so what did I know?

The unforgiving bit has gone with this iOS iteration: should he die, Dizzy instantly regenerates somewhere in the general area, ready to carry on. Which leaves us with the object-based puzzles, which are diverting enough. It’s gently amusing, and the slow pace of platforming means the touch-screen controls aren’t a problem.

Not a bad attempt at porting Dizzy to iOS, then. In fact, it almost makes me want to give his original adventures another chance.

iOS (£1.49)

Festive Freebies

Who needs Father Christmas when you’ve got the App Store? It seems like every developer is embracing the spirit of giving at this time of year, so here’s a little selection of treats on offer for precisely no money for a limited period.

Top of the pile, Jetpack Joyride, which I’ve been a tiny bit addicted to this week. As Adam said, it’s the missions that make the very simple one-touch gameplay endure. That and the personality of the game which, not wishing to invoke the name lightly, I’d liken to Gunstar Heroes.

I’ve written about Hard Lines and Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint before (here and here), and they’re equally brimming with personality and touch-screen brilliance.

For Adam’s sake I’ll point out that Traffic Panic 3D (more here) is now free, as is Broken Sword – The Smoking Mirror: Remastered.

That’s enough for anyone, surely? Even if you get nothing but coal in your stocking on Sunday morning, you can at least have a happy iChristmas with that lot.

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 09
By Jake In Mobile Round Up 3 Comments

The worlds of mobile and proper games overlap this week, with the release of Dizzy: Prince of the Yolk Folk on iOS and Android, and Chrono Trigger on iOS. £6.99 for the latter. £6.99! It’s easy to forget that that’s probably cheaper than you can get the game on any other format.

While all this big-name development company stuff was happening, Apple named iPhone Game of the Year the rather excellent Tiny Wings, made by a man called Andreas Illiger. Good stuff.

Anyway, enough of that, and onto this week’s arbitrary selection of stuff you can shove your fingers at.

Catball Eats It All

Catball Eats It All

There’s a very fine line between beautiful and disturbing, and it’s a line that Catball Eats It All jumps up and down on with glee. The art-style is certainly distinctive, mixing the cute-yet-wonky Catball with some properly odd-looking levels, which as the title suggests, it’s your job to eat, accompanied by lovely piano music.

Before that you’ve got to hoover up all the small collectables around the level, by rolling, jumping and flying around. If you’re not quick enough, then the genuinely threatening Dogwall rises up to engulf you. It really is a bit mental. But in a good way. I think.

The controls are pleasingly simple, all done through combinations of touching either side of the screen, though it’s perhaps a little too floaty, which makes matters a little harder than they need to be. But the game itself is almost secondary to enjoying the crazed aesthetic.

iOS (free)

Tetris

Tetris

EA have relaunched the iOS version of Tetris, which is all the excuse I need to go back to the game. It’s been a while since I’ve been confused by Tetris, but launching the new One-Touch mode did indeed throw me initially. No manual rotating here: the game gives you a selection of placement options for the next piece, and you just touch the one you want to go with – or touch elsewhere to cycle through more options. To my surprise, I rather liked this way of playing – it’s faster and more accurate than the standard mode (also present and well-implemented), it’s a nice slightly easier alternative.

There’s also a Galaxy mode, which is effectively a series of puzzles to solve as efficiently as you can. They’re fine, but really, if you’ve got Tetris, you want to play Tetris, don’t you?

It’s all looks and sounds very slick. In short: Tetris has not been broken.

iOS (£0.69)

Paper Glider Holidays

Paper Glider Holidays

Christmas is coming – if you’d not noticed – so it’s about time we started covering the odd festive game. Plus it saves Adam plugging another of Neon Play’s wares.

So. Christmas music? Check. Santa? Check. Reliable gliding-based gameplay? Check. Free(mium)? Check!

iOS (free)

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 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)

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