Archive for the ‘3.5 Stars’ Category

Valet Hero

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Valet Hero

In this recent addition to the line-drawing genre, you are gently ushered into the exciting and glamorous career of…valet parking! Wait, wait, before you go anywhere, it’s actually pretty good. The player is tasked with parking each and every random car that enters the parking lot into a space that corresponds to the color of the car (there is a colorblind mode that adds symbols to the cars and parking spaces, which is a nice touch). You simply swipe your finger from the car to the space to park it, much like Flight Control.

What really matters in this game, however, is how well you park each car. Park it crooked, you get a “sloppy” penalty. Park on the wrong color, you also get a penalty (and in Marathon Mode, this is disallowed entirely). Park two or more of the same color car in sequence, you gain a multiplier. Bonus points are added for rear-in parking, pull-through parking (when you drive over another space before coming to rest in the adjacent space), and if your combo meter has juice, you can press-and-hold the boost button to speed up all cars on screen. This becomes necessary on levels with a ton of cars to park and in levels that have obstacle cars, like the po-po, that are all up in your business.

There are five different parking lots, each with a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Marathon level. You can play any of the lots, but for each one, you have to complete the Bronze, before you can play the Silver, and so on. The devs switch up the content a little bit in the medal levels, but the Marathon level of each lot follows separate rules. It’s endless, spots are colorless until the corresponding car enters the lot, and you are required to park in the matching spot or it’s game over. Same way with hitting a car or other obstruction; you’re dead, kid.

I think it’s a fun take on traffic control, but it’s hard to say how much lasting power it will have. It is OpenFeint enabled, though, so you can compare your scores with your fellow valets.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Chuzzle

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Chuzzle

Popcap is a driving force in the casual game market and their games have proven to be a perfect fit for the iPhone platform. Chuzzle continues that fine tradition and, in my view, plays even better than its computer driven brethren. It is a match-3 game played on a grid filled with adorably fuzzy little creatures one can assume are called Chuzzles. What sets this title apart is that entire rows and columns are shifted by the player in order to create matches of 3 or more. While this initially feels like a constraint to players of Bejeweled 2, for instance, it can actually provide a sense of freedom, because matches can be made in any configuration, as long as the Chuzzles are adjacent. The game can sometimes run long, but it is a nice way to pass the time. My kid likes it too. You may want to wait for it to “do a Peggle”, though (come down in price).

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Train Conductor

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Train Conductor

This game fits loosely into the line-drawing/route-building genre and is more fun than a description of the gameplay probably elicits. A number of tracks run horizontally across the screen, numbering 5 at the most. When a tunnel exit lights up with a number, it means a train is about to emerge, which needs to be quickly routed to the corresponding tunnel entrance on the opposite side of the field. One does this simply by touching the train and dragging it to the appropriate track, which automagically places a track at the angle drawn. This can get hectic, when there are multiple trains coming from multiple location, so the player can always tap a train to temporarily hold it in place. Managing all this simultaneously and preventing collisions is gameplay and it’s fun. For everyday time track, there is also a corresponding nighttime, with a somewhat different set of rules. You see at night, only ghost trains appear which means they cannot collide, but they still need to be routed properly and the night time pacing and frequency of trains is much faster. There are online leaderboards and such, but the one disappointment is that there are only 4 locations, each with a day and night version, that need to be mastered and then the game is simply one of bettering your scores, unfortunately. Still good, though, and one hopes the developers will see fit to release some new levels either free or DLC. Rating may go up when new levels are introduced.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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BloodnGuns

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Blood n Guns

Another dual-stick zombie shooter, but this time, they took it over the top with gore…which we all want desperately, of course. They may have taken it a just a wee bit too far, in fact, because not only does the blood not disappear in 2 seconds as we’ve all become accustomed to, but it stays on the ground from game to game! As you can see, it turns into a red carpet that makes the enemies nearly indistinguishable from the gore. We applaud the effort though, especially since the tuning is immaculate. You remember how we were all hyped for MiniGore, but when it released it didn’t like it delivered on its promise? Well this game is just has frantic and it keeps the player engaged, wave after wave, because the weapons and powerups that drop are diverse and are well-suited to the task of dispatching a wide variety of oncoming enemies, each with their own discernible strong and weak points. After playing through each of the six game modes, I came away feeling it was a worthwhile buy, even though the modes primarily consisted of “shoot stuff”. In the end, the developers gave us exactly what they promised us, Blood ‘n Guns.

Update: OMG, this is hilarious! Tons of people were posting complaints like the following:

“I cant beat the chickens. Only have the pistols and could hold shy of 200 kills before being overwhelmed. How to unlock more weapons and progresss? How do i play the other game modes?”

“Hi I can’t seem to get past the first level. I’m too slow. Only a pistol. Too many chickens. Any help with that? Suggestions?”

The developers built and playtested an anti-piracy level; only punks that pirated the game get that level, and only that level, and it can’t be beaten. That is the second coolest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Dictator Defense

Friday, December 11th, 2009

I bet these guys crunched like Arnold to get this Plants vs. Zombies clone out, prior to the iPhone version of PvZ. It may lack the brilliance of PvZ, but some of the basic gameplay elements are there, and in no way is it a shoddy production. This Casual Tower Defense game, has the player drag offensive and defensive units onto the field to battle the troops entering from the top of the screen that are attempting to blast your base at the bottom of the screen into oblivion. You also have an uber-weapon that can only be used once per battle. If PvZ didn’t exist, I would most likely be very excited about this game, but if that were true, this game probably wouldn’t exist either.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Implode!

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Great art style, clever gameplay, and tons of levels. Place the explosives in the best locations to blow the building, but be sure that all of the rubble falls below the dotted line and does not blast into the edges. Recommended.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Angry Birds

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Really nice catapult game themed around the idea of…um…birds that are angry at fat pigs, for some reason. Guess I didn’t catch the story, but the game is good. There are several different types of birds: one that splinters into three, once that explodes, one that gets a straight boost. There are several types of bricks too and the physics are convincing.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Nanny Mania

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

This is a port of a popular casual game for PC and Mac of the same name. You are the nanny that has to clean up the house and take care of the bratty kids. If you leave the children to their own devices, they will pee in the plants, leave cola cans and candy wrappers all over, and just generally drive you insane…just like IRL! Gameplay is comprised of tapping things to pick them up or clean them. You can cue up a series of actions, but if you do too many, you’ll lose track of the kids. Tapping them makes them sit down for a short duration. Tapping the coffee pot speeds you up. I like it, but it’s not for everyone, and it is pretty buggy.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Squareball

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Interesting game. The player has to bash apart the colored blocks, Breakout-style and make it through each level without letting the ball go out of bounds. The ball stays centered on the screen and swiping left and right moves the entire level. Not much to look at here, but in practice, it’s pretty fun and somewhat challenging.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Samurai: Way of the Warrior

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

A beautiful 3D world with amazing parallax, peach blossom trees, rivers, little floaty clouds, and believable towns. The soundtrack is perfect for the time period and theme. Your job as the lone Samurai, is to rid the towns of all the pesky ne’er-do-wells, using an extensive combo system, that consists simply of directional sequences of swipes. Oftentimes it is unclear which combat move is best for which encounter, but it is fun to simply swipe the crap out of people. As you’ll note, there is a good amount of torso-splitting and blood gushing, much of which ends up on the camera. To be perfectly honest, I was hoping the game would have an unplayable framerate, just so I could refer to it is as “Samurai Slowdown”, but alas, it plays great.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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