Archive for February, 2010

iGibbets

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

iGibbets

I downloaded iGibbets, sat down, and proceeded to play through every single one of the 30 levels provided. On one hand, this shows the developers nailed the fun-factor and this makes it worth the price of admission. On the other hand, it shows how fleeting the experience is and that the outcry for additional content will ring out across the land (although you can activate Hard Mode, which seems to be replaying the same levels, but with fewer arrows in your quiver).

Each level presents the player with several poor souls hanging from gibbets, soon to be executed. It’s the player’s job to “save” the victims, by shooting each noose with an arrow. If a stray arrow or two happen to graze one of these fellows…hey, it’s better than dying, good sir knight. To sever the cords, the player simply presses the convenient bow and arrow icon, drags it to set angle and distance, and then releases to let it fly. Arrows are a valuable commodity in this line of work, so the player is sometimes presented with a powerup that provides three additional arrows when shot. For those hard to reach places, a ricochet powerup can be shot, which bounces the arrow in a predetermined direction.

Sometimes, the player must shoot down a stack of boxes in order to take aim at the vict…uhh, rope…the rope…the one that suspends the victim. I mean…shooting directly at the guy would just be sadistic…*nervous laughter*. Anyway, these stacks of crates may seem out of place, but after a little research, I found that this practice is somewhat historically accurate. Executioners would oftentimes stack boxes at various locations near the gallows, in order to prevent some sissyboy from spoiling a perfectly good execution by “saving” the victim with a well-placed shot.

The physics model is good, the challenge is adequate, and let’s face it, piercing a guy in the neck…and then the elbow…and then the ankle is just inherently fun! I don’t think anyone would dispute that, particularly when the target is hanging from a noose; now that is Comedy Gold, “Arterial Sprays for 200, Trebek.” In fact, the overall experience this title provides is so real and so compelling that it may even serve as a safe outlet for people who enjoy shooting criminals down from the gallows, in real life.

To the potential naysayers, let me assure you, no actual prison inmates on death row were harmed during the filming this video game.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Lilt Line

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Lilt Line

I really like this one. You may not, primarily because it’s way too short. You could play through all the levels in one or two sittings.  The idea, the minimalist presentation, and the Dubstep soundtrack (provided by 16bit) are absolutely killer. You guide a simple white trail through an ever-changing tunnel, by tilting the iPhone. When you cross a thick white column, you tap your finger to the beat anywhere on the screen. Hitting the walls or missing a beat reduces your score. Hit zero, game over. Unfortunately, the beat tap feels unresponsive, since it’s triggered on the release, not the press. C’mon, it’s a rhythm game, how could they make that mistake?!? Another questionable design decision is that the key parts of the music are dampened, after a miss, which is punishing. This is billed as a “massively single player tactical espionage survival horror musical space flight simulation”, which is pretty awesome in and of itself. Why is it called Lilt Line, instead of Tilt Line? No idea. Again, I like it, but I don’t really recommend it, in it’s current state, for anyone but the most adventurous, rich, and/or drunk.

Update: Kick_Butt. The developers have added 4 new, huge levels; bumps my rating up to 4 Stars. I really do like this game and I can heartily recommend it, now that they have addressed my primary concern.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Alice Greenfingers

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Alice Greenfingers

This is one of the many farming sims on the App Store in which you control a cute little girl that must grow crops to sell at the local market, to make money to buy more seeds, to grow more crops…you get the picture. The starting sequence goes like this: dig plots, plant seeds, water them, harvest them, bring them to market, and set a reasonable price for them. Customers will come by your stand and purchase them or express their interest in buying a different type of fruit or vegetable. New seeds become available, over time, that you can buy from the local store to increase the variety of your harvest and sell more. The store also sells harvest baskets, watering cans, pumps, sprinklers, chickens to lay eggs, cows and sheep, and fences to keep them in check. You just run around each day of the month, repeating the sequence described above, while you expand your business and experiment with pricing. This may pull you in at first, but it gets really repetitive, as you may have guessed. There are no target quantities of items to sell or pressure to produce, so there isn’t much depth or challenge at all. It can be fun for a while, but eventually, you just feel like you are going through the motions. To be fair, many casual players and children don’t like being stressed out and they might like this, but for more seasoned players, you probably want to check out a more sophisticated game like Ranch Rush.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Project 72

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Project 72

Yo, peep this: 4 kewl dewds up in Venice Beach, by way of Sweden, decide they want to develop an iPhone game, from start to finish, in 72 hours. Project 72 is the result of this tweaked out madness and it is all documented here: Dogtown Studios, so check it.

Knowing that the game was developed in just 72 hours, I have to say that it exceeds my expectations in almost every way; the graphics are stylish and crisp, the soundtrack is bumpin’, and the gameplay is superb. It is perfect in its approachability, but still extremely challenging, which is a hard thing to accomplish. This is textbook Pick-Up-and-Play, folks; keep it simple and fun, present repeatable challenges, and make it compelling enough to make the player want to play it, “just one more time.”

A message to the guys at Dogtown: quit your day jobs…and if this is your day job, then get back to work! The days of 6-month development cycles are behind us now, so I’ll have my dollar ready for you when your next game releases on Friday.
Dog + Town = Win.

I was so excited, I forgot to tell you what the game is! It’s a casual-ish dodging game, in which the player guides a 50′s future rocket ship through space, avoiding asteroids, and nabbing powerups. The most important one being fuel, because if you run out – game over, loser. Same way with black holes; here’s a pro-tip from our boy Yuri – you see a black hole, steer starboard or port…not both. What makes it exciting and kind sorta somewhat insanely difficult is that your ship speeds up…and up…and exponentially up! Luckily, there is always a nearby object to help you gradually apply the brakes (hint: it starts with “a” and ends with “steroids”). My rating reflects the pure kickbuttedness of this idea and the team of lunatics behind it. I hope others will follow in their wake. Poehali!

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Parachute Ninja

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Parachute Ninja

You are little blue ball. Evil black ball kill your parents. Your house in flames. You flee to hut of uncle, Master Yo, a yellow ball. He teach you to be ninja. You must regain control of ninja scroll. Only this will avenge death of your family. Aaand…scene.

Picture a level filled with the slingshots from Must.Eat.Birds. Your ballboy is snug inside, while it’s stretched to the limit. You see an arcing, dotted line that shows your intended path, much like the system in Ignite (which I predicted ‘everyone ‘would copy…and I was wrong). You bounce between slingshots, collecting glowing goodies, until you reach the sacred lamp, at which point the level ends. If you miss your landing and you are plummeting to the water, which is deadly to your ninja ball, you can press-and-hold anywhere on the screen to pop open your umbrella to slow your descent. Tilting the iDevice left and right controls your directional vector. As you progress through the levels, springboards, giant fans, manually rotatable springboards, timed slingshots, an evil spiked ball, and other obstacles and modes of transport increase the level of challenge. BTW, don’t hit the spikes; it hurts. Although, it doesn’t matter that much, because blue ball has infinite lives.

The colors are gorgeous and the artwork too (especially the map), the music is soothing, the opening cinematic is super-cute, and the mechanics are good and scale properly. What bothered me at first was the pacing of the story mode. I thought it was a snoozer until figured out the rhythm of hitting the slingshots and parachuting to the nearest neighbor slingshot, then it became more interesting. You really need to embrace your inner zen. The endless mode is a bit speedier, though, the water level rises, and the obstacles are semi-randomized. It’s definitely a polished effort, although I don’t know long it will stay on my springboard.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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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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Ghosts’n Zombies

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Ghosts'n Zombies

What a pleasant surprise; this game came out of nowhere, from the developers of Cell War, and it is a blast. The first thing you’ll notice is that the artwork is superb. For instance, the protagonist is an ornery old monk with bushy eyebrows and a bright read nose, presumably from sampling his monastery’s fine brews.

In the first level, he enters from screen-left and must fight off a horde of ghosts haunting his place of prayer. He begins with a buckshot pistol that is fired simply by tapping the screen, but this is not a run-of-the-mill tap-to-shoot duck hunt. You see combos can be scored when nailing multiple ghosts with one shot, so position is of the utmost importance. The player controls the monk’s movement by simply tilting the iDevice left and right and he will automatically pick up fallen gems that serve as ammo.

If he runs out of ammo, freakin’ Death appears and lops his head off with a double-bladed scythe, dripping with blood. To keep from reaching this point, the player can upgrade weapons sequentially by scoring combos and he has quite a killer arsenal, up to and including a chaingun. I haven’t seen a flamethrower yet, but this game has me praying that there is one. When you do tap your upgraded weapon, a glorious angel descends from the heavens and provides to you the blessed tool of destruction. I know, right…best thing ever!

While the gameplay may seem rudimentary, it’s not; the developers, TipCat Mobile, have really put some thought into how this game plays. Aligning shots is important, as I said, but there are a variety of enemies that can potentially hinder your performance; pesky rodents running across the floorboards, meatheads that enter from either side and continue to hassle you even after their heads have been blown off, and also a number of flying enemies whose movement patterns and speed keep you on your toes. There is a Story Mode and an Endless Mode, in which every enemy and their momma are thrown at you. Good thing a holy cross shows up once in a while that obliterates every enemy on screen.

The whimsical and twisted theme, the beautiful artwork, the pacing, and the core gameplay mechanics all come together to deliver a game that, for me, is a must have title. It’s even OpenFeint enabled, with achievements and all, so be sure to pick this one up.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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