Archive for May, 2011


Essential iOS games – Part 2 – Game Dev Story

May 31, 2011

Game Dev Story
is a frighteningly addictive game. It has a fairly ugly interface which hasn’t been scaled or optimised for iOS devices and relies heavily on the imagination and creativity of the player for much of the entertainment on offer. It is utterly absorbing and hilarious, going way beyond what would be required to simply overcome the basic handicaps of its appearance.

The fundamental premise is that you are managing your own games company, developing, promoting and marketing videogames. So who would want to play a game like that? Well, most videogamers probably would, so that’s a pretty astute example of audience targeting right there.

One possible ultimate goal - create a game that earns complete critical acclaim

As well as the game development and moneymaking, you have to employ and improve staff members. Although you can hire and fire mostly at will, there’s no option to replace your entire workforce of highly skilled and loyal employees with a bunch of polite yet incomprehensible foreigners. Chief Execs of financial institutions, take note – this game will show you the way to run your IT department properly.

How original

Much of the hilarity and entertainment stems from the ability to name your company and all its software releases however you see fit. If you happen to have a friend or two playing the game at the same time you will find yourself sending them text messages containing the name of your latest game and then LOLing in response to their own text messaged efforts. It happens, trust me.

It’s particularly satisfying when one of your poorly titled games gets high critical praise and goes on to win several awards at the annual award show. Despite the fact that “there is no game”, you find yourself cheering on non-existent releases such as “Chainsaw Enema” and “Eunuch Ninja”, often fantasising about what the game would actually look like … if it was real. Incredibly sad, I know, and again not something to discuss at the bar if you are hoping to get anywhere with the barmaid.

Who needs a real life when you can churn out virtual social comment like this?

I spent many, many hours on this game, taking several stupidly named companies to the top, and beyond. Getting hopelessly addicted to GDS is easy; all you need to do is start playing it. If you’re lucky, a few weeks later you might be able to suddenly drop it and move on.


Spoing HD review (iPad)

May 30, 2011

“Slingshot, slingshot, the sum of all your actions”

 word description: Elastic platform puzzler; fifty cavern levels, music choice, online leaderboards.

10 word review: Surreal slingshot action with stylish graphics. Some perseverance is required.

You will like this if you enjoy: The look of Cat Physics, iBlast Moki, Melon Golf, etc. and a slingshot, ball lobbing style game.

The good news: The one-touch slingshot control is instantly intuitive. The look of the game, although not 100% original, is stylish and interesting.

The bad news: Although its fairly addictive, there’s something about it that isn’t quite captivating enough to make it “the next big thing”. The game mechanics, however, should appeal to fans of Angry Birds style slingshot action as well as hardened physics puzzle addicts.

Arcadelife verdict: Overall, it’s an appealing, polished game that looks deceptively casual but requires a degree of persistence to master the levels and progress by scoring high enough.

Arcadelife rating: 75/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Chillingo / Spoing website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.3)
iPad (OS 4.3.3)

iDinobook review (iPod/iPhone & iPad – multiformat review)

May 29, 2011

“I love diggin’ in the dirt
With just a pick and brush
Finding fossils is my aim
So I’m never in a rush”

10 word description: Dinosaur encyclopaedia, over 200 species listed, pictures, descriptions and comparisons.

10 word review: Detailed and informative dinosaur reference. Some phrasing issues, nothing major!

You will like this if you enjoy: Reading about dinosaurs, looking at pictures of dinosaurs, dino-facts, a dino-quiz.

The good news: Loads of different dinos listed, most have a lot of information recorded. Plenty of pictures, several different ways to index the dino list. There’s a quiz.

The bad news: Occasional text/phrasing issues, possibly due to translation. The “word filter” in the index looks for the string of text anywhere in the word, so if you start to filter on “Tyr”, expecting to get “Tyrannosaurus”, you will first get “Styracosaurus” because it contains the letters “tyr”. Not a big deal, but I would expect to see a list of dinos starting with the letter “T” if I use a word filter starting with “T”. Some of the quiz answers are wrong…

Once you know that the right answer is wrong, it's fairly obvious that the wrong answer will be right.

Arcadelife verdict: There are hours of browsing and reading here, plenty for any dino fan. The issues are more minor irritations than anything else, they don’t really spoil the whole package, although it would be great if the word filter was fixed and the quiz was closely checked for incorrect answers.

Metri ... what? I'll just call him Eric

The app works well; it’s fun using the comparison feature to drop a load of different dino pictures on the same page and move them around. The quiz is pretty good, apart from the aforementioned issue with incorrect answers. Many dinos have a good selection of pictures and lots of detailed information. Overall, this is a good reference and an entertaining iOS app for anyone interested in dinosaurs.

You can drag and drop dino pictures for a size comparison and make your own Jurassic Park. Or Triassic Park if you want to be petty...

Arcadelife rating: 78/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1 (iPod/iPhone, 1.2 (iPad)
iTunes link to iPad version
iTunes link to iPod/iPhone version
iDinobook website link
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.3)
iPad (OS 4.3.3)

House of Mice review (iPod/iPhone)

May 27, 2011

“Baby won’t you come to my house
This ain’t a game of cat and mouse”

10 word description: Puzzle game based on conflicts between cat and mischievous mice.

Even if you don't play pool, you can see the shot that is being telegraphed here by the alignment of the cheeses

10 word review: Excellent game. Great puzzles, superb graphics, lightning fast retry option.

Unswerving videogame logic states that mice will turn themselves into cannon balls to destroy a large cat

You will like this if you enjoy: Cut the Rope, Drop the Chicken, casual physics based puzzle games.

Timing is often required, as well as judging the best shot angle

The good news: It’s a wonderfully addictive, fast-paced think-and-shoot puzzler with one of the fastest retry options I’ve seen on an iOS game. Any tiny shortcomings of the control method are rendered utterly insignificant due to the speed that levels load and the almost instantaneous retry. Did I mention that the retry option is really quick?

The bad news: None that I can think of. Maybe, just maybe, the control method could be slightly more friendly, you know, so your granny can play it a bit easier, but let’s not worry about that.

Enter one pipe, exit the other...

Arcadelife verdict: Excellent game. I sat down to play “a couple of levels” and completely 3-starred the first set of levels and more than half the second set in a couple of sittings. If you want an addictive, casual puzzler, here it is. Is it better than Cut the Rope? They’re really quite different games, yet similar looking. Right now, swayed by what is current, I’d have to go with the mice.

Arcadelife rating: 93/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.1
iTunes link

House of Mice website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.3)

Golfstacle – version 1.2 update

May 26, 2011

Golfstacle’s developer deserves to be congratulated for turning around what was an initially annoying and borderline unplayable game by radically altering the control method and also adding two whole new courses.

I have updated the Arcadelife review, which is well worth spending a minute or two of your time reading…

The official update notes for version 1.2 are as follows:

What’s New In Version 1.2

• Two new unlockable courses with 18 holes in each (54 in total now)
• Game Center support with global leaderboards for each course and achievements.
• Fixed a bug where the ball froze when it stopped close to obstacles.
• Lowered the distance needed to allocate full power for a stroke.
• Added arrows as a visual input on all slopes so it’s easier to judge if they are up or downhill.
• Added effects on the ball when it jumps over the hole due to too much speed.

iTunes link


Aero Bear review (iPod/iPhone)

May 25, 2011

“Oh let me be, your teddy bear”

10 word description: Brave bear, flying chicken. Avoid obstacles, travel the furthest distance.

I was born ready. Of course, I'm a brave bear on a flying chicken

10 word review: Decent, quite hard endless runner style flying game. Nice graphics.

Collect fruit, avoid spiky balls. Good rules to live by.

You will like this if you enjoy: Endless runner style games.

The good news: It is fairly addictive, as claimed. I’ve played it a lot, when I cold have been wasting my time in other ways.

Bear and Chicken vs multiple circular saw blades. You can work out how this will end.

The bad news: They’re going to get sued by the makers of SuperTed and the game will be pulled within hours. Possibly.

Yes, it ends something like this.

Arcadelife verdict: It’s ok. Not exactly Best Game Ever material, but it’s addictive enough and gets rather hard around level 2. Overall, a pretty good diversion for endless runner fans waiting for the next iteration of Air Supply…

Arcadelife rating: 69/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Aero Bear website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.3)

Blupt! review (iPod/iPhone)

May 24, 2011

“All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi
And she wouldn’t give it to me. Just a Pepsi”

10 word description: Slingshot bubbles, change the colour correctly, physics puzzles, 80+ levels.

10 word review: Challenging hybrid of pool trick-shots and Spore style “size wins”.

Avoid black spiky thing, touch all stars, absorb blue blob

You will like this if you enjoy: All the casual games that the app store description says that this game isn’t like …

The good news: It’s a decent, challenging physics style puzzler that doesn’t seem to borrow too heavily from any single source.

The bad news: I don’t think the name is going to do this game any favours. Straight off the top of my head, why not Slingshot Soda Pop? Or countless other names that are better than Blupt?

Arcadelife verdict: Blupt! is pretty good, apart from the title. Getting 3 stars on all the tutorial levels was quite challenging, but not so difficult as to completely deter a bit of perseverance. It makes you think a bit, and that’s not a bad thing. Overall, a pretty good puzzle game that manages to avoid feeling completely derivative.

Arcadelife rating: 73/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Blupt! website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.3)

Orions 2 review (iPod/iPhone)

May 23, 2011

“Read ’em and weep, the dead man’s hand again”

10 word description: Fantasy cards strategy game. Multiplayer on wi-fi, 3g or one device.

10 word review:  Surprisingly accessible. Mastering strategies is fun. Very nice spell effects.

The campaign map is randomly generated each time

You will like this if you enjoy: Other fantasy card strategy games. Different types of turn-based strategy games.

I'd pay good money to watch a film called "Python vs Kobold"

The good news: It doesn’t take long to figure out enough to start winning games against the AI opponents, even if you’re a complete strategy card game noob like me. It looks pretty and the spell effects are varied and quite impressive.

There's levelling up ... and stuff

The bad news: No matter how good you are at this game, it won’t impress girls. Unlike being good at Asteroids, which got me a whole string of hotties in the early 80s.

You have defeated Zealon. Unfortunately you can't exactly boast about this down the pub

Arcadelife verdict: I found this much easier to get on with than the other one, Shadow Era. There’s a building mode that I didn’t even try to understand and it didn’t seem to matter because I still kept winning matches (in campaign mode). I’d say give this a try, even if you’re not sure if it’s your thing. There’s a lite version, which is always good news.

It is advisable to read and understand how each character works within the game

Arcadelife rating: 78/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Chillingo / Orions 2 website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.3)

Companions – playing the full version

May 22, 2011

This is just a quick note to let you know that I have the full version of Companions, thanks to the very kind and incredibly hard-working people at Smuttlewerk. I won’t be posting anything else today as I’ve got other things to do, such as playing Companions!

The all new menu screen, straight from my iPad

Arcadelife gets a mention in the game credits - Yay!

Companions is with Apple for approval, so look out for it on the app store soon. Arcadelife will let you know as soon as it is available. Also, look out for an early review of the full version here, also coming very soon.


Storm in a Teacup review (iOS/Universal)

May 20, 2011

“I know we may never get outta here
A tiny storm in your teacup, girl”

10 word description: Scrolling platformer; solve puzzles, avoid pitfalls, 40 levels; Game Center

Just for a change, the first level contains tutorial elements

10 word review: Gorgeous looking, constantly changing and challenging gameplay. Essential platform fun!

Some dangerous objects roll down ramps, similar to the barrels in Donkey Kong

You will like this if you enjoy: Platform games, League of Evil, Pizza Boy, Super Mario… well, any decent platformer really.

When you enter a target shoot, the view zooms out to show more

The good news: It’s a well designed, challenging platform game with good touch controls and a great graphical style. Levels are interesting and new elements are constantly introduced. Flying about in a teacup is just plain weird, but that’s ideal for a colourful platform game like this.

Hazards aren't all jolly bouncing rainbows - underground it's Super Meatboy territory with circular saws and lava pits

The bad news: No auto-rotate (when device is rotated) – could annoy some people depending on preferences, etc.

The first unlockable survival level - collect as many falling sugar cube things before you die

Arcadelife verdict: Another Best Game Ever. I love the art style and the constantly evolving puzzle mechanics. Things like the zoomed out target shooting are inspired and do a nice job of adding different levels of entertainment into the basic platform navigation.

Success, achievements, winning ... whatever. Just click 'next level' and carry on having fun

Overall, thoroughly recommended. Platform addicts have to own it, everyone else at least needs to think about getting it.

Arcadelife rating: 90/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link

Chillingo / Storm in a Teacup website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.3)
iPad (OS 4.3.3)