Archive for June, 2009

Big Top 10

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Big Top 10

This is fun. It’s like a simpler, but whimsical, and thematically rich take on Numba, but without the falling tiles. The goal is to remove numbers from the screen in sets that total 10, hence the title. Negative numbers and a variety of powerups are thrown in, for good measure. The ancillary screens are really nice too. The achievements are graphically rich and humorous, although an alert when they are obtained would be great. The production is nice and the game is fun, which bodes well for the relatively new developer, Bight Games.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Ronnie O’Sullivan’s Snooker

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Ronnie O'Sullivan's Snooker

I’m a sucker for Snooker. I play both this and International Snooker and, at some point, I should do a head-to-head comparison. The most obvious thing when booting this up for the first time is that the engine is really slick. You actually see the Snooker balls drop in the holes, instead of just magically popping out of existence, like most other iPhone pool games. The core concept of Snooker is like pool, but the strategy and scoring is much different. You must alternate between potting one of the many red balls, with the other colored balls, each of which has a different scoring value. This game does a great job of showing which category of ball you have to hit next, with a colored ball at the top-left. It’s not a swipe-to-hit game; instead, you move your view around until you get the line-up you want and then set the strength of the hit, by a gauge on the side. I know it sounds a little lame, but you get used to it. I prefer International Snooker’s granularity of aim control, but this game offers some other benefits. One is a number of different and beautifully rendered backgrounds. The other is that you get to play against the famous Snooker champ, Ronnie O’Sullivan, at various points in his career. This part of the game really makes no sense to. Am I him, playing against a 7-year old version of myself, 40 years ago?!? WTF, dumb. Good game though.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Warpack Grunts

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Warpack Grunts

This game has been on the hype train for a few months and it was finally released. Fans of Cannon Fodder, will recognize this as a spiritual successor. Having played Cannon Fodder a great deal, this doesn’t fell nearly as good to me, but it has the same cute little, Alvin and the Chipmunks sounding army men with heavy weapons. You control a squad of four little tykes as they wend their way through a variety of levels and environments, blasting the living crap out of other cute little army men. You have default rifles, fired by furious taps, and any number of secondary weapons picked up along the way, which can be fired when your squad is stationary. You control the movement of the squad by pressing and holding a location, which causes problems as it often obscures your view of the battle. You can find binoculars (shown above) to scope out the level, in advance, and sniper rifle that works in a similar fashion. It all sounds great, but in practice, the controls can be cumbersome. The menus system is ridiculous and confusing; you can continue a campaign mode, but you select on a per-mission basis, but you have no idea from the UI, what mission you were last on. It’s not even clear, after cycling through the options, which is the first or final mission. I somehow managed to screw up and have to restart my entire mission again, at one point. It’s cute and funny, but it needs some work, IMO.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Tyrian

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Tyrian

This is a port of an old-skool shooter that some of you may remember. The graphics are kewl and kinda retro, the powerups are good, and there is a high level of action. The touch controls work fine and you auto-fire. My only complaint is that it should be in portrait mode.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Frootrees

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Frootrees

Good core idea, great sense of humor, good escalating challenge, and it’s fun. You just pull the froot off the trees and plop it in the collector of the corresponding color. I have to say that the risk vs. reward mechanism in this game is brilliant. You want to do the lob move, to get the local multipliers, but it takes much more skill than the drag move. It’s also interesting that the low-threat, early to mid-game is when the lob is the easiest to pull off, but it is in the end-game, when you have racked up a higher global modifier that it really matters. The more I play this, the more I like it. I wish every Froot type smiled when they were ripe, because it’s sometimes hard to tell when they are prime for the pluckin’. You want players operating with full knowledge of the game state, otherwise it can be frustrating. When I get a low score, I want it to be due my own screw-up, not because I couldn’t tell when to time my moves. Game’s fun, though.

Update: I really recommend this title, if you guys and girls have overlooked it, for whatever reason. I have consistently returned to it, because TheTinMan has hit on such a perfect combination of simplicity and depth. The screenshots really don’t do it justice, because the game is very involving. I’m not even sure that a video would capture it either; you really need to play it. I ended up playing one-metric-ton of this game, because there is always that feeling of being able to do just a little better next game. AGON leaderboards have been added, as well, so you can see which of your friends is the biggest Froot!

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Mind Wall

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Mind Wall

This is a tricky shape recognition game, in with the player simply has to place a single square on the playing field, in order to allow a shape to pass through it safely. It sounds easy, but oftentimes, it is not. After you unlock all of the early shapes, Challenge Mode opens up, which is the primary way to play. You are shown a shape, you have a very limited window of opportunity to place your dot (although you do have time to correct mistakes) and then the view changes and you see if you were successful or not. Immediately after, you are return to the front view and given a new shape. Faster timing allows for multiplier combos, which is the key to putting up high numbers. I found myself playing this a lot, because it was so simple and quick, but still offered a challenge.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Joyland Bounce

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Joyland Bounce

Kind of a Rolando wanna-be, that should play super-fast like Sonic and be awesome, but instead, you always get hung up on obstacles. Whatever. It is very pretty.

Update: This appears to have been pulled from the App Store; reason unknown.
Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Battle of Pirate Bay

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

The Battle of Pirate Bay

This is like a Castle Defense meets Harbor Master, but with guns! You have three ships, each with a different combination of movement speed, weapon range, and ammunition. These ships are charged with defending the central fortress, which takes damage from the attacking pirates. The fortress has a long-range cannon to defend itself, because when the fortress reaches zero “health”, the game ends. The levels aren’t as diverse as Sea Captain, but hey, you get to shoot pirates.

Update: The developers, Muteki Corporation, allowed players to cast votes on the inclusion of upcoming features, which garnered a favorable response from the community. They also added power-ups, which improved the game a lot and improved the tuning. Rating increased to 3 Stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Evacuation

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Evacuation

It’s pretty fun, actually. The goal is to jettison all the baddies, without making too many of your space dewds suck vacuum. Tapping a door toggles the state of all similarly colored doors. When an exterior door is open, baddies and crewmen alike are sucked into space along the entire path of open cabins. The player can place a flag in adjacent room to make crewmen move there, so the gameplay consists of getting crewmen to safety and then opening doors in the proper sequence to boost the baddies to oblivion. The ship reconfigures for each new level. The soundtrack is appropriately lighthearted and the sound for the airlock is great. The graphics are WYSIWYG, as shown in the screenshots. It’s a fun puzzle game that makes you think like you would in a board game.

Tap Star

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Tap Star

This is Dance Dance Revolution clone that is a vehicle for pimping Sony’s music catalog, which is a blessing and a curse, as you can see from the shot. It launched with a diverse selection of 11 songs, so diverse in fact, that it is unlikely that you will find anyone that likes more than two songs on it. Warrant anyone? The claim is that they will release a boatload of new songs for free, in the upcoming weeks, and then the micro-transactions will start on a per-song basis. The game itself lacks much of what makes DDR successful: animating characters, special effects, and a meaningful progression. In addition, they came up with a somewhat smart colored arrow system and then spoiled it by making they flash different colors, when you are doing well. They are also hard to reach, particular with the note patterns on the higher levels of difficulty. Dear Britney, we failed to give you a proper upbringing and now this. Please accept our apologies. – your adoring fans…xoxo