Archive for March, 2011

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Forget-Me-Not review (Universal)

March 31, 2011

“Beware of the flowers, because I’m sure they’re gonna get you, Yeah!”

10 word description: Tiny arcade game; mazes + monsters + shooting; single or simultaneous 2-player.  

10 word review: Pac-man meets Robotron at Rogue-like convention in Jeff Minter’s garden. Awesome!

Use of colour is subtle - iPad screen image.

You will like this if you enjoy: Pac-Man on acid with a gun, Robotron in a maze, Mr Do’s cherry collection scoring system, Coverfire’s defiant retro stance, Jeff Minter’s latest iOS games, retro maze shooters, tactical high-scoring, procedurally generated dungeons, a twitch-paced Rogue-like… 

Occasionally your mind will trick you into seeing an object or number in the shape of the procedurally generated dungeon maze...

The good news: Forget-Me-Not takes some of the best elements of 80s arcade games, adds the infinite challenge of procedurally generated dungeon-style mazes, blends in some addictive high-scoring strategies and even includes a simultaneous 2-player option. And it has relative touch control, a personal favourite here at Arcadelife.  

You can play in portrait or landscape mode. Oh look, a centipede!

The bad news: No in-game music. This doesn’t matter. 

The key doesn't just open the exit door, it protects you from your own shots in wrap-around corridors.

Arcadelife verdict: This game reminds me of all sorts of very early arcade games, not just Pac-Man, but if I start listing them here it will only serve to confuse the majority of today’s iOS gamers. For anyone who thinks it’s easy to create a good retro arcade game, it really isn’t. I’ve tried enough times, so I can fully appreciate the genius behind this one.

As with all the best arcade games, you learn as you play and the more you play, the better you become and the higher you score. Recognising enemies and memorising their abilities and attacks is less than half of it; mastering wall-grinding and combining that with collecting as many flowers as possible in a sequence combo … that’s where your highest scores are going to come from.

If you take too long to complete a level, this big evil ghost appears and starts chasing you.

Ok, I was very hesitant about referencing Pac-Man because Pac-Man is slower and less interesting than Forget-Me-Not. However, the mazes and pill/flower collecting make the comparison mostly unavoidable. Please just don’t be put off this game because you don’t like Pac-Man. This game looks a bit like Pac-Man but plays much faster and with a lot more going on. Anyone interested in a new retro arcade game for their i-device(s) needs to get this. I tend to prefer playing it on the iPad, but that’s just a screen-size thing. Brilliant game, recommended.  

  
Click the thumbnails to view full screen – some images of 2-player Forget-Me-Not on iPad.
Arcadelife rating: 90/100
The version of this game that Arcadelife reviewed is 1.0.1 

iTunes link

Nyarlu Labs Website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
3rd gen iPod Touch  (OS 4.3.1)
4th gen iPod Touch  (OS 4.3.1)
iPad (OS 4.3.1)
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Sketch Ball review (iPod/iPhone)

March 30, 2011

“So I flex the real in the artist sketch, I paint it true, I paint it true”

10 word description: Line-drawing puzzle game. Direct bouncing ball with lines.

You have to deflect the bouncing ball towards the chequered flag.

10 word review: Gameplay falls slightly short of the promise of the graphics.

The ball must not hit anything else on the way to the flag.

You will like this if you enjoy: Line drawing, ball-physics, puzzle games.

The good news: The presentation and art style is attractive, clear and consistent. The concept is different enough to definitely warrant a look.

'Destroy' mode, aka - draw an umbrella around the target.

The bad news: (It might just be my brain doesn’t work this way, but…) I found puzzle mode quite frustrating and resigned on level 8. I found destroy mode way too easy. 

Arcadelife verdict: The problem I’ve got here is I can see how this game is meant to work, and I like the concept. I can also see that a lot of time and care has been put into the graphics and overall presentation. Even drawing the lines works well, they end up pretty much where you want them to be and there’s an erase function, etc. It’s just … I kept getting the ball stuck in a terminal ping-pong loop, or wedged behind an inadequately drawn line, or I just kept failing the same puzzle over and over because I’m rubbish at this game. 

No smirking pineapple can withstand my badly drawn umbrella line attack!

That was puzzle mode. So I gave up on that and tried ‘Destroy’ mode. Again, it’s a good idea but there’s one slight problem. If you draw a kind of umbrella line over the target, it gets destroyed very quickly. And you can do that same thing over and over again, at least up to level 10, at which point I stopped because I wasn’t really doing anything. Just drawing a random line and watching the ball bounce around until it wiped the last pixel off the screen.

No, honestly, I really don't.

Overall, I’d say the gameplay needs a bit of work. Puzzle mode is rather frustrating and Destroy mode lacks any kind of challenge, which is desperately needed in a game because that is what holds the interest of the player, not just watching a ball bounce around the screen. It looks really nice and just needs some attention to the way the game elements hang together.

Arcadelife rating: 60/100

The version of this game that Arcadelife reviewed is 1.0

iTunes link

Gamers Rejoice website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.1)
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Companions (upcoming iPad game) – new gameplay video

March 30, 2011

Thanks to Martin from smuttlewerk for letting me know about this new video, uploaded today, that shows the “Tactical Pause” being used in upcoming RPG/Dungeon Crawler, Companions. As well as showing how tactical pause works, there’s a also fair amount of game action to start getting excited about…

You can find more information about the game at the smuttlewerk website.

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Air Supply – 1bit Run update – version 1.2 now available, plus exclusive preview of 1.3!

March 30, 2011

Air Supply – 1bit Run has recently (29th March 2011) been updated to version 1.2. This is really just an interim update before the unveiling of something rather wonderful in version 1.3. More on that spectacular Arcadelife exclusive later. You do understand I have to make the absolute most of these exclusives, don’t you?

Here we go, the official update information:

What’s New In Version 1.2

Hello lovelies! What’s new in this release I hear you ask!
Well I’ll tell you! 😀
*Added a new short and sweet track by Mister Beep – this gives the game an awesome 1bit soundtrack of 8 chiptunes in total.
*Added user requested option to allow buttons to remain visible. This can be found in ‘options’ under ‘control settings’
*Added ability to adjust opacity of ‘always visible’ control graphics.
*Reduced amount of stats visible at game end. You can still see the full stats by pressing the button in the top right hand corner of the game over screen.
*reduced loading times slightly
*Some tiny bug fixes

The slightly redesigned Game Over stats screen

The all new controls options screen

The controls permanently visible, with your choice of opacity.

And now for the unveiling of that special something that is going to be in version 1.3 … Spaceman Sam finally gets a chance to jump back in his own Spaceship and give those pesky aliens a little bit more than just harsh language. You saw it here first! Unless, of course, you saw it somewhere else first…

I can't wait to try that out ... !

If you haven’t already got this great game, click this icon right here:

iTunes link

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Chop Chop Kicker review (Universal)

March 29, 2011

“Can I kick it? Yes you can. Well I’m gone, gone.”

(4th gen iPod screen image)

10 word description: Flying/distance game; draw lines; earn coins to unlock upgrades.

(iPad screen image) That 'Grumpy' dino is one of the unlockable characters.

10 word review: Colourful, casual, instantly playable; great addition to the Chop-Chop collection.

(4th gen iPod screen image) You can draw lines of any length and curve, even complete loops.

You will like this if you enjoy: Other Chop-Chop games, Solipskier, flying/distance games.

(iPad screen image) Who you callin' a puff?

The good news: Bright, cheerful, polished, pick-up-and-play fun. Players of Chop Chop Caveman will appreciate the way the graphical style has been incorporated into a different type of game. Simple controls, cosmetic and “boost” upgrades, varied and entertaining game world. 

(4th gen iPod screen image) You can unlock different worlds quite quickly, but the changes are purely cosmetic.

The bad news: The completely freestyle line-drawing can lead to the occasional unplanned result, such as your dino reversing direction and flying backwards, which ends your flight rather abruptly. I’ve also seen my dino fall through a drawn line a few times for no obvious reason.

(4th gen iPod screen image) "The acronym VLAN expands to Virtual Local Area Network." Uh-huh, ok...

Arcadelife verdict: Chop Chop Kicker is another fun game in the series, departing from familiar running/platform mechanics while retaining the casual feel and the fun cartoon style graphics of the earlier games.

Drawing lines to make ramps and little ski-slopes for your flying dino is very simple and intuitive. When you manage to successfully draw a full loop through a pattern of jelly-beans it is very satisfying.

(3rd gen iPod screen image) Looping is much more satisfying when you don't completely MISS THE GIANT EGG!

You start off with enough magic ink to make quite a lot of progress, even on your initial fumbling flights; enemies and obstacles add comedy value as much as they add challenge and the game never feels frustrating. The unlockable items – dinos, worlds and booster upgrades – will all come with time, giving you a steady drip-feed of new content while you play.

(4th gen iPod screen image) Not all unlocks are purely cosmetic.

Chop Chop Kicker is universal and looks great on Retina display and iPad. It would definitely benefit from a set of challenge levels to complement the basic ‘endless’ flight mode but is still an enjoyable and replayable pick-up-and-play game.      

Arcadelife rating: 75/100

The version of Chop Chop Kicker that Arcadelife reviewed is 1.0

iTunes link

Gamerizon / Chop Chop Kicker website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
3rd gen iPod Touch  (OS 4.3.1)
4th gen iPod Touch  (OS 4.3.1)
iPad (OS 4.3.1)
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Stoned 3D – Update 1.1.0 released

March 29, 2011

Stoned 3D, a casual, stone-age quarry themed shape matcher, has recently (28th March) received a fairly significant update. The official details are as follows:

What’s New In Version 1.1.0
Version 1.1 is a major update that brings loads of improvements to Stoned! The biggest ones are:
° Twitter and Facebook integration
° New background music and some new sounds
° Added a bunch of achievements
° OpenFeint is now linked to Game Center
° Games are faster
° Significantly decreased the file size and loading times
° The personal best score is now shown on the start screen
° … and many more improvements and fixes!

Arcadelife was given the opportunity to play a pre-release version of this update so I have had plenty of time to prove how bad I am at matching tumbling blocks of ancient stone with the correctly shaped holes…


Click on the thumbnails to view the full size (Retina display) images.

Stoned 3D is good looking, but arguably more of a 2.5D game than full 3D as it is a single-screen 2D game with 3D objects. Putting Shape-matching in the description gives the impression that this is a game for “younger players” but I found it entertaining (and quite tough) and I am really not that young!

The latest update has mostly polished the rough edges (gotta love these stone quarry puns) and added or refined the online elements. This game is aimed pretty squarely (I know, I can’t stop myself) at the casual gaming crowd with its simple pick-up-and-play concept and single swipe control method, but it’s easy to recommend as it is an instantly playable little game and avoids the more tedious app-store casual-gaming clichés.

iTunes link

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Slice HD review (iPad)

March 28, 2011

“And you can’t help my life, but you can hide the knives”

10 word description: Multi-touch, move/avoid blades, push button. Twister meets Saw.

"Hello .... I want to play a game..."

10 word review: Unique, very stylish. Clinically clean blades are genuinely intimidating. Intense!

Slide blade ... push button ... ah, this is going to be easy!

You will like this if you enjoy: Playing with knives; “Saw” traps; clever puzzles; razor sharp graphics.

Now that's just ... not fair.

The good news: This could be the perfect multi-touch game. Graphics, concept, gameplay and touch controls are all very, very good.

"Yes, there will be blood."

The bad news: The absence of menu, level select, restart-confirm, and any kind of in-game performance rating (there is an online leaderboard for completing the whole game), plus a relatively small number of levels, mean that there is quite a lot of room for enhancement. Note that the current Arcadelife rating for this game reflects all of that.

"Did you cut yourself because you truly wanted to die or did you just want some attention?"

Arcadelife verdict: The perfect multi-touch game? It’s definitely a fantastic looking, unique and incredibly intense experience. The art style is great; shiny, polished blades against a sparse, clinically clean surface and gory splatters of very realistic looking blood.

Although there are only 24 puzzles the difficulty curve is almost perfect, with each puzzle adding more complexity, precise timing and puzzle elements as you progress. Until you get more than half way through the puzzles, failure means you have to repeat the previous puzzle. This adds to the tension and it is a great relief when you reach the point where you aren’t tested in this manner!

Currently, the only way to rate your performance is the online leaderboard, where crazy people spend 24 hours every day "testing" themselves.

Sound is also used well; sudden jabs of harsh noise accompany the blood splatter whenever you slip up and cut yourself – ouch!

Playing the game gives a feeling of trying to complete a series of fiendish traps, reminiscent of the “Saw” movies, but the “Slice” traps are much more clean and shiny than the majority of traps from that franchise. It’s not a negative observation, Slice has its own clearly defined style, but maybe a future level pack could introduce a more grimy and visually disturbing set of puzzles… 

The movie poster for "Slice II" was decidedly minimalist.

Arcadelife rating: 78/100

The version of that Arcadelife reviewed is 1.0 

iTunes link

Twitch Games Website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (OS 4.3)
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Fruit Juice Tycoon 2 for iPad review

March 27, 2011

“Fresh fruit, juice and pulp, Like to gulp the whole lot up”

10 word description: Tycoon with match-3, time-management, action, even RPG style elements.

10 word review: Engaging and thoroughly entertaining mix of styles. Manic yet deep.

Your main quest is to achieve Fruit Juice Empire world domination. Sort of.

You will like this if you enjoy: Tycoon games, Time-management, match-3, RPG-lite.

Match-3 blended with time-management. There are even combos to be had. Yes, combos!

The good news: It blends a lot of game types and elements seamlessly in a gorgeously drawn and polished game world.

The campus is the second district you will be able to enter.

The bad news: It deliberately throws a lot of information and tasks at you all at once. Some players (not me!) may find it a little overwhelming.

The quest log is essential to keep track of what you are supposed to be doing.

Arcadelife verdict: This game is responsible for making me want to play Tycoon games again! I’d got a bit tired of them, also with time-management games which I never really liked much anyway. If you’re put off by the thought of tycoon, time-management and match-3 all together in one game, don’t be! It works incredibly well, not by dumbing down any of the individual elements but by applying a lot of thought to how and why those game types appeal and how best to link them together.

Please stop shouting at me! (The coloured shouts indicate what flavour drink they want).

For example, the match-3 game involves mixing 3 fruits of the same type to fill up your fruit juice reservoirs. It’s almost as simple as it sounds, but you are doing this at the same time as the time-management game where you serve customers the correct type of juice. It can get quite stressful, but is also great fun.

Meanwhile, you have quest chains going on – RPG lite style, where person A needs something that you can only get by doing a job for person B, etc. Each quest usually has x number of days available for you to complete it. You also have HP points that reduce while you work, selling fruit, and you need to sleep to recharge your HP on a regular basis.

Sleeping time is accelerated. You only get a few seconds of 'real time' rest.

The map is divided into 6 different districts, of which only the first is unlocked at the start of the game. Questing and levelling up the districts opens up new ones. Each district is graphically different, representing areas such as “Residential”, “Campus”, “Commercial”, etc.

The commercial district. Spot the quest guy with the exclamation mark over his head.

As in many RPGs, people with an exclamation mark over their head have a quest for you. People with a question mark are waiting for you to complete their quest or to impart some kind of information.

In addition to the supply shop, there's an item shop that sells all sorts of upgrades and bonus items.

To summarise; this is an attractive looking, polished, diverse and entertaining game. I’m not a huge fan of any of the individual game elements but as a package, and as a wake-up call to other tycoon/TM/Match-3 developers out there – it’s quite an eye-opener.

Arcadelife rating: 90/100 

The version of Fruit Juice Tycoon 2 for iPad that Arcadelife reviewed is 1.2.0  

iTunes link

There’s also a lite version to try.

Minoraxis website link.

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (OS 4.3)
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Operation wow HD (iPad)

March 26, 2011

“My childhood was a bizarre parade,
Broke off the uzi from Operation Wolf, and robbed the arcade”

10 word description: Operation wo.. reimagined for multi-touch. Story, endless, minigames, GameCenter

The menu has that whole "looks familiar" thing going on...

10 word review: Fabulous cartoony re-working of the legendary cabinet shooter. Classic fun! 

If you never played Operation Wolf, you'll miss out on the deja-vu, but it won't spoil your enjoyment of this game.

You will like this if you enjoy: Operation Wolf (which this game is not, honestly your honour, not at all).

Alternatively - Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out.

The good news: Impressive multi-touch screen-tapping shooter. Plenty of modes, lots of action, great cartoon style graphics. 

The bad news: You’ll wear your fingers out before you get anywhere near tiring of this game.

Peace ... through superior firepower

Arcadelife verdict: The original game (yes, OK, let’s admit we’re talking about Operation Wolf) tried for fairly realistic graphics (realistic for 1987 anyway) and was arguably based on Rambo and Missing in Action, etc., putting a cabinet mounted Uzi in your hands and throwing hundreds of enemy soldiers, helicopters and armoured vehicles at you, all of which generally succumbed to a few well-aimed shots or a hand grenade.

Taking screenshots of multi-touch games - not my favourite task.

Fast forward to 2011 and Operation wow, which takes the original game concept, replaces realistic characters with some great looking cartoon style creations, gives you 3 difficulty levels in story mode, two highly replayable mini-games and, in the latest update, a super-hard endless mode.

Multi-touch shooting works incredibly well. It also has to be used with extreme care, even in Easy mode, or you will rapidly run out of ammunition, which is never good!

If only I'd had one more bullet.

The whole game feels polished and runs very smoothly. Story mode feels pretty much as I remember it, yet faster and more colourful, super-hard endless mode is a twitch inducing tap-fest and the two mini-games are a great bonus: Targets is a fast-paced, simple target shooting game and Meat Ninja is a fairly obvious Fruit Ninja impersonator, only with burgers and steaks flying around instead of fruit.

With multi-touch you can hit all the green targets at once. And, erm, one of the red ones too.

Overall, this is a great touch-screen game; graphics are cute and varied, gameplay is rock-solid. The variety of modes should keep anyone happy. If you’re after a shooter that looks a bit different from the norm, or you’ve been secretly hoping for Operation Wolf on your iPad, here you go!

Arcadelife rating: 87/100 

The version of  that Arcadelife reviewed is 1.1  

iTunes link

Ivanovich Games website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (OS 4.3)
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War Pinball & War Pinball HD review (iPod/iPhone & iPad)

March 25, 2011

“And he kicked and he flipped some more,
Back to Vietnam to settle the score.”

10 word description: 3 pinball tables with themes based on action war movies. 

(iPad screen) Playing in landscape orientation gives you a fixed "down the table" view.

10 word review: More i-device pinball brilliance, featuring Charlie & Chuck! Hugely enjoyable.  

(3rd gen iPod screen) Portrait orientation follows the ball, zooming where appropriate. This "ball-cam" mode works very well.

You will like this if you enjoy: Pinball HD; showcasing your iPad or Retina graphics; Chuck Norris! 

(iPad screen) "There isn't a chin behind Chuck Norris' beard - just another flipper"

The good news: A virtually flawless, stunning looking set of pinball tables with great themes and variety. 

(4th gen iPod screen) The Platoon table's calendar counts down your days in the 'nam

The bad news: Of the 3, the Navy Seals table is probably not quite as appealing as Platoon and Missing in Action.  

(iPad screen) The Navy Seals table - Fun, but not quite as excellent as the other two.

Arcadelife verdict: It doesn’t really matter whether you think Chuck Norris is a Martial Arts icon or a born-again bible-bashing right-wing nutjob; back in 1984 the cult of Chuck Norris facts wouldn’t emerge for another 20 years and the man himself was starting a crazy ride on the Colonel Braddock rollercoaster of B-movie gung-ho action nonsense as the star of the first Missing in Action movie. For me, the 2011 release of a virtual pinball table on Apple’s i-devices, based on MIA, is simultaneously both bizarre and very intriguing. The fact that the table looks absolutely gorgeous and is phenomenally playable is a big bonus!

(3rd gen iPod screen) "Chuck Norris doesn't sleep - he tilts"

It’s not just Chuck Norris, though. Fiancé shooting, yo-yo careered, pornstar-dating rehab veteran, Charlie Sheen has two tables in the line-up. The Platoon table is suitably challenging – facing you with a year long tour of duty in the ‘nam, each day counting by on an animated calendar. For me, Platoon is a very close runner-up to the MIA table, but that’s purely personal preference. Both of these are instant classics.

(iPad screen) The fly-by demo mode shows how much detail there is on all the tables.

Charlie’s other table, Navy Seals, much like the film it is based on, is not the best of this bunch. Unlike the movie, however, it does have plenty of redeeming features and shouldn’t be dismissed just because you’ve never heard of it.

(iPad screen) "Get to da choppa!" ... Damn, wrong movie.

Overall, this is a great package of tables. Graphically impressive, highly replayable and very entertaining; War Pinball looks and sounds fabulous on all devices but is particularly special on Retina display and iPad.

Arcadelife rating: 91/100    

The version of War Pinball that Arcadelife reviewed is 1.0
The version of War Pinball HD that Arcadelife reviewed is 1.0


GameProm War Pinball website link.

Arcadelife played and reviewed War Pinball on:
iPod Touch 3rd gen (OS 4.3)
iPod Touch 4th gen (OS 4.3)
Arcadelife played and reviewed War Pinball HD on:
iPad (OS 4.3)