Archive for the ‘Casual’ Category

Fruit Ninja

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Fruit Ninja

For Ninja, it is way of life. Ninja must eat. For the rest of us, it is the simple pleasure of slicing fruit, not bombs. That’s all you do, really; no chain combos, no skill shots, no mercy. Miss three fruits, you’re dead. Slice a bomb, you’re dead. Sensei say: The fruit speak to you…just listen.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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The Impossible Game

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

The Impossible Game

Much respect to this developer for delivering on their promise, because so many games don’t. The promise, in this case, is that The Impossible Game is indeed impossible. Decidedly low-rent graphics don’t keep me from returning time and time again to see if I can best my previous efforts and prove them wrong. I mean, all you have to do is jump over scrolling obstacles, right? Trust me, it’s a daunting task, especially since you have to begin again from the start point every time you fail. The repetition does allow you to feel good about the sections that you have learned, though. And learn them, you must; the timing, spacing, and rhythm of your jumps needs to be dead-on, otherwise, it’s back to square one. They did include a Practice Mode, which allows you to drag your spawn point along with you, but clearly if you use it…you’re a cheater. Monotonous? Yes. Ghetto graphics? Yes. Worth it for the challenge? For me, the answer is definitely yes, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Above

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Above

This is a simple one-thumb sky-jump game with stellar anime-influenced artwork. Press and hold anywhere to charge your businessman’s jump and release to jump upward accordingly and hopefully land on a platform. Wash, rinse, repeat. The timing and strength of these jumps is the core gameplay, which benefits from a small number of platform types; stationary, moving, trampoline, and disintegrating. There are three different environments, each with beautifully hand-drawn backgrounds. For me, this doesn’t have the addictive quality of other pick-up-and-play titles like Doodle Jump, but it still has a nice level of polish.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Tilt to Live

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Tilt to Live

Tilt to Live is an excellent pick-up & play title with perfect controls, lively visuals, and host of killer power-ups. As the title suggests, all you have to do is live; red dots bad, open space good. Avoiding the evil red dots is no small task, however, because you’ll be weaving your way in an out of random dot bursts, encroaching dot rings, and solid walls of dots. To aid you is a wide array of power-ups, such as homing missiles, ice blasters, lightning strikes, and the spiked ball of death. The accelerometer gives surprisingly precise controls and the collision sphere on your ship must only be a pixel wide, because you can really get yourself out of some impossibly tight situations. This is really where the game shines; After triggering an impossible chain of power-ups at split-second intervals, while maneuvering between 50 obstacles, you really feel like you are in the zone and can’t put the game down. Not only that, but hitting the big scores on the AGON leaderboards will uncover hidden achievements that provide access to newer and bigger weapons. Tilt to Live is a challenging and addictive game that brings out the strengths of the iPhone platform.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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We Rule

Monday, March 29th, 2010

We Rule

We Rule is a beautifully presented Farmville clone for the iPhone with a compelling medieval theme, period soundtrack, and addictive gameplay. The player begins the game with a modest encampment which can be upgraded multiple times over the course of the game until it becomes a relatively intimidating castle. Castle upgrades are purchased using gold which is generated by constructing a thriving town. Planting crops, building tailor shops, lumber mills, wizard dens, housing for your citizens, and a ton of other structures all provide gold and/or experience. Creating or transplanting an active social network is the most efficient way to accomplish your tasks, because other players can put in orders for your goods simply by tapping on one of your shops (which conveniently sends an opt-in PUSH notification). They will do this repeatedly too, and so will you, because there is no work involved whatsoever, just time. You see, each task requires a predefined duration, from seconds to hours. Welcome to OCDville, please enjoy your stay!

Each time you level up, you are provided a small amount of “Mojo” which allows you to complete a task immediately. You can also buy your way to stardom by purchasing Mojo directly from ngmoco:) from within the app (which ca benefit both you and your friends, incidentally). This business model is being called “Freemium”, because the game is free to play for everyone and it is a premium title from a proven developer, but if you want access to content faster, you can buy it. I don’t typically talk much about app pricing, because it varies so much, but I thought this was worth mentioning, because ngmoco:) has stated that all of their games from now on are going to use this model. They’ve gotten some bad press for the decision, but to me the game is significantly better than most of the free games on the app store and if you want to support the company by purchasing Mojo, it’s your decision.

There are a few improvements that I think could be made to the game, primarily in the area of user interface and networking. There are no tool-tips to guide your purchasing, which was a major feature to overlook, because you want players to feel like they are making interesting decisions, even if all roads lead to gold and XP. Another missing feature is an “Achievement Earned” pop-up and the Achievements themselves are somewhat uninspired, as well. Moving buildings around is fairly cumbersome process too, but I’ll give them a break, since there is no associated cost to do so or frequency limitation. Just like any server-based game with a large player base, there were connectivity issues early on, but the company spokesperson did an excellent job of addressing the community and the team is burning through the issues as fast as possible.

I like the game a lot, after playing it for a couple weeks. One reason is that it provides a nice outlet for creativity, because there are all sorts of ways to decorate your town; several types of trees, lakes and rivers, picnic tables, windmills and water towers, rune-stones, banners, flowers, and the list goes on. This is in addition to the income-generating shops you can purchase, of which there are many (I’m saving up for the Dragon’s Lair!) There are also ways to min-max the system, so there is room here for math fiends as well. The artwork is cute without being cutesy and when you build your bakery and see a teeny-tiny little chef wandering around town, it really sells the theme. We Rule is an excellent entry into the social gaming market on the iPhone that is well worth a look.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Ragdoll Blaster 2

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Ragdoll Blaster 2

I don’t need to say much about this one; this sequel offers 150 new levels of ragdoll rage, as good or better than the first title. The graphic style is much more sophisticated now, but it is up to each individual whether they think it betters the original doodle art. Personally, I like the update. Anyone that loved the first title has already hit the Buy Button, but for those that missed the original, it was an excellent pick-up-and-play physics puzzler that was smothered in winsawse. You simply aim the cannon and set the shot strength, together in one simple swipe, and hope for the best. Ragdoll hits target, move to the next level. Couldn’t be simpler. Killer game.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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The Hero

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

The Hero

Zombies? Check. Ninjas? Check. Swarms of killer bees, giant tanks with heat-seeking missiles, UFOs that spawn replicating green blobs from outer space? Check, check, check. Babies plummeting from tenement buildings? Check baby, check baby, 1, 2, 3. Well, it seems as though this title has something to please everyone…and to be fair, the babies do have parachutes…

You are a Superhero. Meanies invade the neighborhood. You look at your directional radar and fly at the meanies. You defeat them simply by flying into them, but using a little of your boost gauge helps. To fill your boost gauge, you give high-fives to the local residents that pop out of the windows frequently. You also have to put out fires, destroy uber-bombs, and make sure you don’t destroy too many civilian cars in the process. Killing creeps and high-fiving peoples increases your Fame meter. Do neither and your Fame meter decreases to nothing and your game ends. The further you get into the game, the more things you have to manage simultaneously, which is the core focus of the game.

The controls provide very fluid movement, albeit with a limited turning radius. Managing your boost is key as are your special powers; the two I’ve unlocked thus far are Freeze and Boom; both act as you would expect. There are two modes, Campaign and Survival, each with their own set of challenges. The soundtrack is upbeat and well-crafted, there are a number of achievements to gain, and the whole package is very polished.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Dizzypad

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Dizzypad

This is the latest one-thumb casual game by NimbleBit of Scoops fame. Their games are typically based on a simple premise and game mechanic that is fun to practice repeatedly; this game is no exception. Your goal as the tiny frog is simply to jump from one spinning lilypad to another. Skipping over a lilypad or snarfing up a dragonfly will net you an extra 1up flower. Dropping in the drink loses you a flower and, if you run out, it’s game over. I’m surprised at how challenging this simple task can be. For instance, there are a slew of achievements to gain, one of which is to hop a 40-lilypad sequence without fail and it is no easy feat. Since there is no clock running, you could take your time for each jump, but the game feels like the pacing should be quick and that is how I tend to play. The sound and graphics are all perfectly understated to reinforce the pond theme and colorful frog skins open up frequently. Another winner from NimbleBit.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Thumpies

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Thumpies

What surprising and innovative rhythm game. At the beginning, it’s very simple; just tap the drum when the Thumpie bounces on it and you start to hear a rhythm emerge. When you reach the higher levels on hard difficulty, though, it can be maddening; four Thumpies bouncing every which way at breakneck speed, multiple drum positions and butterflies being snarfed up before you can tap them. That last point is important, because different numbers of tapped butterflies open up new Thumpies, including one called “Flippy”, thank you very much. On-beat drum taps fills the meter and moves you to the next level, but watch out, because letting it bottom out consumes one of your precious butterflies.

The artwork is amazing, both background and foreground, and you simply have to see these little guys bouncing around in 3D (well, 3D actors on a 2D plane). What’s really important in a rhythm game, though, is the music and rhythm and Thumpies scores high marks on both counts. What separates this title from others in the genre is the fact that you are discovering the rhythms, insead of trying to replicate them. Initially, you are just tapping when you see a Thumpie hit a drum, but later on, when there are several simultaneous Thumpies, the ability to recognize rhythm really helps. These quirky little creatures emit the strangest form of alien beat box too, which adds immeasurably to the charm of this title. The game really is lovingly crafted and I love pretty much everything about it, which is why I would also love some additional levels please…

Rating: ★★★★½ icon
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Sword of Fargoal

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Sword of Fargoal

This remake of the classic Commodore 64 Roguelike really plays well in short bursts on the iPhone. I’m a big fan of dungeon crawls and this one is no exception since the C64 was my computer of choice as a child, due to the great selection of games and the low barrier-to-entry (which here means, “rock-bottom price point”).

This translation may include the same old skool sid-chip sound effects, teleport traps, and buried treasure that you know and love, but what it adds is the real surprise. The developers have obviously put a significant amount of work into updating this to modern-ish standards. The artwork for the random dungeons is now in smooth 3D, the character art is much better (if you can believe it from the screenshot), they’ve added super-smooth fog-of-war, and also swipe controls (which act a little strange, but you get used to it).

What it has over similar games like NetHack is that it is very accessible. No pages and pages of cryptic commands, no ASCII graphics (*sobs*), and in turn, not as much depth. Still, it’s a really fun romp through a multi-level dungeon, as it always was, and its arrival on the iPhone is a pleasant surprise.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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