Archive for March, 2009

Trixel

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Trixel

All the player has to do is flip the tile to match the solution in the upper left, either within a certain number of moves or within a certain timeframe. What makes this interesting, other than planning the correct flips, is a number of well-designed power-ups and obstacles that make you think; Counter, Nuke, Sequence, Wormhole, Rollback, and many others. The player is awarded a medal based on how many moves each puzzle is completed with. There is also a unlock-able Beat the Clock mode, in which a series of puzzle need to be completed. There are 100 different puzzles, with the grid size maxing out at 5×5. The whole effort is quite polished and the challenge is there.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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T.A.N.K. Arena Battle

Monday, March 30th, 2009

T.A.N.K.

This is Battlezone meets Atari Combat Deathmatch-style tank game, with beautifully rendered graphics, several tank upgrades, okay controls, and a mini-map to guide you through a limited number of arenas (4). It seems like 1v1 multiplayer would be a no-brainer for this game, but your only option is to play versus an AI opponent.

Update: 4 new outdoor maps have been added, as well as a Capture the Flag mode, which boosts my rating up to a 3, since I originally thought the map selection was weak and the developers addressed the problem.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Dark Raider

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Dark Raider

Worst game icon I’ve seen…EVAR. It’s meant to be a hybrid between Zelda gameplay and Indiana Jones theme, I guess. You travel between 8 themed worlds (Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc.), each with 8 levels, collecting keys to gain entry to more secret tombs. There are a variety of monsters, traps, and puzzles. The game’s not bad, but it’s not really good either. The primary issue is the controls. I rarely felt like it was my fault when I died, which is a huge problem. It seems like it has depth, but you have to be willing to soldier through the control issues to experience it. Sometimes, a game just rubs you the wrong way and this is how I felt about Dark Raider; it just doesn’t do anything really well. /do not want

Rating: ★★½☆☆ icon
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Castle Conflict

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Castle Conflict

This looks like an “in-ur-garage production”, but the old skool pixel are is alright. The goal is to reduce the opponent’s castle to zero health. Lumber is the resource and you send your little loggers out to get it, but have to out-think the opponent before they slaughter your workforce. Each different unit shown at the top has a different use, but they are not terribly diverse. The game is mostly about timing and a little strategy.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ icon
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Merlin’s Legacy

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Merlin's Legacy

Battling Wizards, FTW! The player builds her dueling deck of up to 5 cards, prior to the match, from a selection of cards and then enters battle against an opposing Wizard on the far right of the map. You can scroll back and forth between them at any time. Powerups drop and can be picked up automatically by the first minion, from either side, that touches it. Managing your Mana efficiently and casting the right spells, at the right time, and in the right location are the primary skills needed (other than deck-building). There are a total of 15 spells that are unlocked over the course of the game and three different modes of play. This game is better than I thought it would be, but it is not earth-shattering.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Tiger Woods Golf

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Tiger Woods Golf

Best golf swing meter ever. The typical semi-circular meter in every other game feels ridiculous, compared to how natural this feels. It’s not just timing, but also motion, as your swipe motion controls the drift of your shot. You also can adjust the flight path in mid-air, by swiping to represent the ball spin. I’m nowhere near playing through all the courses and can’t even report on the full-blown PGA tour mode yet. It doesn’t suffer from the framerate issues that Let’s Golf has, but the trade-off is that the character models and environments aren’t near as good. So what, it plays well and it has one-metric-ton of content. If you like golf games, you are buying this.

Update: Local Wifi and Bluetooth multiplayer has been added.

Rating: ★★★★½ icon
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Myst

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Myst

Myst is one of, if not, the most famous point-and-click adventure games ever produced. While some criticize it for being “just a slideshow”, respectfully, I think they are missing the point…and click. For its time, it was a brand new way of telling a story, one that included interaction from the “reader”. The player clicks through beautifully-rendered visions of a mysterious island, many with latent clues as to what went on there and why. Clues are sometimes subtle and don’t always make sense until you’ve explored more of the world, but that’s what makes it a compelling mystery.

Interaction consists of simple clicking and switch-pulling, in most cases, and while this level of interaction may seem limited (especially years later), it does serve its purpose to drive the story forward. While I don’t want to expose details of the story, I can tell you that the player enters various books that transports them to different “Ages”, each with their own riddles to solve.

Myst marks a milestone in game development, in which the sibling development team at Cyan, discovered and created a new form of gameplay. While it may not have been the first game to realize that the player could point at a hotspot and click, they did firmly grasp how computers could usher in a new form of storytelling and gameplay, and for that, it deserves recognition.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Need For Speed Undercover

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Need For Speed Undercover

This is one of the best looking racers on the app store and it is full-featured to boot; 8 different modes, 20 licensed cars, performance mods, exterior mods, intentionally dated Miami Vice style FMV cut-scenes, and boosh nitro. The AI rubber-banding is a little overkill, but it keeps the action level high. My biggest complaint is that there is no gas pedal. HUH? Yeah, your car just speeds up constantly unless you brake. I know you want your iPhone game to be approachable, but come on, that’s the point of racing! I’m probably over-critical of this point, but maybe it is because no one really seems to care. Anyway, it is a good racing game, regardless.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon
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Zooloretto

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Zooloretto

YES! More boardgame conversions please. I buy all of these in hopes that more will show up, because I’m a boardgame fanatic. This is one of the more approachable boardgames, even for families, and it’s quite good. Simple, but interesting decisions, cute theme, and short play time. The goal of the game is to create the most successful zoo, by having the best combination of animals and stands. Each turn you draw a tile or play a money action. Tiles drawn are either of an animal, a coin, or a stand, which are then placed in one of three awaiting trucks. When you see a truck that has a nice combination of goods for your zoo, use your turn to nab it and plop the new goodies in your zoo. The presentation of the iPhone version is particularly nice, with a nice little multi-part zoo for each player to deposit their cute little animals and a pretty effective interface. I like it. Plus, the likeness of me that they’ve created, with the monocle, is quite striking, IMO.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Reflexion

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Reflexion

Imagine Arkanoid, but you can just draw your paddle anywhere on the screen (like Skybound), instead of sliding it right and left. Whoa. Pretty clever and pretty fun. At first, it feels kinda broken easy, but with multi-ball, multi-paddle, and varied screen-out locations, it heats up and gets hectic fast. Worth a look.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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