Archive for October, 2009

Ego City Invasion

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Awesome single-screen, Castle Defense-style game. You control your army brat hero using tilt-to-move and tap-to-fire. Baddies stream in from screen-right to attack your bunker on screen-left. Paratroopers and weapon crates drop from above. You can interact with the environment by lighting trees on fire to burn enemies and also by dropping stalactites on their heads. The special items are killer like, for instance, a giant ram that charges across the grassy hills. All-in-all a quality effort with good graphics and gameplay.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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33rd Division

Friday, October 30th, 2009

From the creators of Blimp, this path-drawing game shows that their first good game wasn’t a fluke. You have to path your little soldiers to their destination points, while avoiding the Metal Gear Solid-style view cones. They did a great job of making the patrol patterns discernible, but not always easy to avoid. There are several unit types, each with their own score total, and several powerups, such as invisibility and triple points. There are several different maps, all beautifully rendered and they use Open Feint online leaderboards. Good game.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Catan

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The official iPhone version of Settlers of Catan, the boardgame. It provides an extensive tutorial, multiplayer or AI play (good AI, BTW), eye-catching graphics, great period music, and a bit of personality. On the downside, it plods along at a mind-numbingly slow pace, the trade interface is just a teeny bit confusing, the dice can only be described as “goofy”, and there is very little add-on content. Even without expansion content, though, I do feel it is worth the price. The pacing, however, is rough. After each roll, every resource is given out to every recipient sequentially, instead of simultaneously and the map zooms in and out and pans around forever. While some will appreciate the detailed landscape graphics, I would much prefer simple, obvious symbols. The current graphics don’t scale that well, which probably warrants the auto-zoom, but with iconic graphics, they could have forgone the zoom. The Catan clone Kolonists had simpler graphics, but it was pulled from the app store, due to copyright infringement. I’m a big fan of the boardgame and, in general, they did a good job, but I hate the wait.

Update: One of my buddies told me that you can tap out of the move animations, which improves the game significantly, in my opinion, so my rating has been increased accordingly.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Flickitty

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Stellar graphics, good controls, and an adorable little kitty that must complete a series of platform quests. You steer the little bugger by stretching his neck out and snapping him in the corresponding direction. There are obstacles like fire that burn him to a crisp, as the screenshot shows, or seal him in a block of ice. Most of the quests are fetch quests and others are really quirky, like dragging a mine cart around, for no obvious reason. It’s worth it for the art and humor, but it is fun to pilot the little guy around too.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Cliffed

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

A Falldown clone with tons of cute characters to unlock, simple, but descriptive animations, a nice background, and very simple gameplay. You just try to fall as far as possible. Rocks get in your way, so you either need to land on top of them and slide off or use the side exit present on each platform. A dash move helps, to get you there faster. There are no powerups. You can post your scores online and you will have plenty of them, because it is one of those games that is easy to play a quick game of anywhere.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered

Monday, October 26th, 2009

AWESOME. The best non-Lucasarts point-and-click adventure makes its way to the iPhone. The story, the environments, the characters are all deep and full of charm. This re-mastered version adds cut-scenes lovingly crafted by Dave Gibbons, of Watchmen fame, and better audio. The puzzle-solving is clever and varied. If you are a fan of the original, this is a great blast from the past, when games were simpler and teams could take risks. If you are a fan of adventure games, you haven’t played the original, and this is one of those moments where you think, “Hmm, hadn’t heard of this; wonder if I should give it a try?”, I strongly urge you to play it. I can’t stress enough what an excellent gameplay experience this game provides and it still holds up to this day.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon
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2XL ATV Offroad

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

This is a really fun game that is a good showcase for the technical abilities of the platform. The developers were able to get quite a few racers on-screen simultaneously with lush backgrounds and kewl dirt effects. There are several modes to play and tons of content to unlock, so it seems like it will have staying power. The tilt-to-steer controls work fine and it actually feels kinda like you are steering an ATV. You can preload for jumps to get extra boost and allow for trick completion. There are several tricks you can perform, but I really wish there was more ceremony associated with them; all you get is an animation, no effects or shout-outs. All in all, this is a really solid entry into the racing genre and feels very console-like.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon
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FIFA 10

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Yes, I am a die-hard Pro-Evolution Soccer fan, but they haven’t gotten their act together and released an iPhone version, so hello FIFA. It’s the first iPhone football game to have full team licenses, which is great. The controls are simple enough for the platform, do allow for some finesse, but are also somewhat frustrating. The AI seems competent, unlike the Real Soccer ‘09, but I have yet to compare it directly to X2 Soccer 2009, which I really like. There are a ton of camera views, full-on manager mode, and most of the other options we’ve come to expect from a full-fledged console game.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Soosiz

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

This game rocks. It’s being touted as Super Mario Galaxy meets Rolando, which is spot-on. It pairs the old-skool jump-on-the-baddies mechanic, with typical star collection and platforming elements, while adding the Rolando-like planet hopping. The background artwork is outstanding and the gameplay has yet to get old, for me.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Dark Nebula

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Dark Nebula is a brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed video game that is perfectly suited to the iPhone platform. The controls are fluid, the gameplay is intuitive, the pacing is perfect, and the game is accessible to players of all skill levels. The pixel-perfect artwork is beautifully rendered and it conveys to the player exactly what it needs to; no more, no less.

The designer, Anders Hejdenberg, ever so delicately presents a simple set of features that scales perfectly with the player’s learning curve, in a way that just feels so elegant and natural that it is entirely transparent to the player. This is what a perfectly tuned gaming experience feels like, when crafted by an industry veteran. I doubt if we will see another iPhone game balanced this well, for quite some time…or at least until the talented team at 1337 Game Design release the next episode of Dark Nebula.

I cannot stress enough what a perfect game Dark Nebula is, so you’ll just have to fish out the $0.99 from beneath your couch cushions and find out for yourself. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. It’s immaculate.

Update: I actually never noticed, but it does have adaptive difficulty, which must be working quite nicely. The game has no soundtrack (although it is on the way) and is abysmally short, but they are adding additional episodes via downloadable content in the future. So it’s definitely worth the money, but it is not actually the answer to all of the world’s ills; it’s just a fun game that is over in 30 minutes.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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