Archive for June, 2011

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Platinum Calculator review (iOS / Universal)

June 30, 2011

“So you’re living by numbers
And numbers you answer to”

A calculator app that needs a loading screen ... hmmm

10 word description: Calculator; glass buttons glow when pressed; key history on screen.

10 word review: Nice looking calculator, slightly marred by a few odd features.

The key history would be improved if it removed unnecessary leading zeroes

You will like this if you enjoy: Having more than one calculator app on your iOS device…

Buttons glow when pressed. It looks nice in a screen shot but when you're using it the glow is mostly hidden under your finger...

The good news: It has the potential to be your favourite iOS calculator.

Shame. And I was really hoping this would be the calculator that could divide by zero.

The bad news: Initial load takes 4 seconds. Compare this with the virtually instantaneous load of the default Apple calculator app. No memory function. The sounds of the number keys are much quieter than the maths symbol keys. The key history gets confusing because it doesn’t reset when you start a new calculation. Repeating “=” doesn’t work like any other calculator I’ve ever seen – example… Enter 2+2. Press “=”. You get 4. Now press “=” again. You get 4 again. Every other calculator I’ve ever used would repeatedly add another 2 every time you pressed “=”, and that is what I’m used to. Making a calculator that behaves differently is probably not a good decision. Although it looks good, it doesn’t quite live up to the app store description regarding its appearance. Trivial nitpicking – the key history division symbol is a /, whereas the calculator key symbol is a ÷

The key history easily becomes a confusing jumble... particularly when deliberately messed up by a silly reviewer

Arcadelife verdict: This could be my favourite iOS calculator if a few niggling issues are fixed. It doesn’t need to be overloaded with new features, that isn’t the point of this app, but what is there needs a bit of attention to get it as perfect as possible. This shouldn’t be hard to do; I’ll watch the updates with interest…

How many screen shots does anyone need of a calculator app?

Arcadelife rating: 66/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.00
iTunes link

Sharp Agency website link

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

June 29, 2011

“Mirror, mirror split in two
Look at me – who are you?”

10 word description: Casual puzzler. Strategically place mirrors to reflect beams of light.

10 word review: Great basic concept, missing some kind of campaign mode. Entertaining.

Light can reflect from either side of the mirror - do this for higher scores...

You will like this if you enjoy: Elements of games such as The Incredible Machine, Enigmo, etc. if only because they seem to use the same tiny, failing part of my brain.

PISL - I played this 4x4 board a thousand times and that's the closest I ever came to a swear word

The good news: Looks good, basic game mechanic is well conceived and nicely implemented. Score is based on strategic placement as well as speed.

Randomly plonking mirrors down is often the least successful strategy

The bad news: I think it could do with a campaign mode. The basic game lets you pick a board size and play, then do it again. And again. It isn’t being pushed as an arcade high-scoring game, but beating your own score is the only real achievement to be had. The largest board sizes end up being slightly silly, as the dozens of icons around the edge are hard to tell apart and the board itself quickly becomes a bit of a tangled mess.

You will try the largest board size once, because it's there, and probably never go back to it

Arcadelife verdict: The basic game concept is very good. It’s simple to understand but challenging to beat, fairly satisfying when you do! I think some kind of campaign mode is essential and should be very simple to implement. Overall, it’s great to see games like this coming out on the iPad and I hope this one develops into something special. The overall score reflects (ouch, sorry) what I feel is missing. If there was a campaign mode, the score would be up in the high 80s, maybe the 90s.

Arcadelife rating: 70/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Pixani / Reflection Connection website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (OS 4.3.3)
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Push Cars HD review (iPad)

June 28, 2011

“I’m gonna get me a car
And I’ll be headed on down the road”

10 word description: Logic puzzle game; select car directions – escape city or collide.

Some cars want to leave the city unscathed, others want to crash ... into anything

10 word review: Addictive and very polished; puzzle elements gradually increase. Fun game.

You will like this if you enjoy: Logical puzzle games. Note – this isn’t a line-drawing or reactions type game. You select a direction for each car, then start them off and watch what happens… hopefully what you wanted to happen.

Soon, faster cars are introduced. This creates a variety of interesting problems...

The good news: There’s a high level of polish and a great feel of a finished game here. The cars have their own abilities, personal goals and a lot of character thanks to the full screen cartoon intros/infos for each vehicle. Playing the puzzles is very entertaining, far more than I expected. I often hit a wall with puzzle games and give up due to frustration, but I keep going with this one because the game mechanics and the clever puzzle designs are really very good.

Later levels start to introduce road signs that allow you to control the direction of a passing car ... once

The bad news: Sometimes, when a car and a road sign are very close, it’s possible to accidentally move one when you tap the other. As this all happens in an unlimited amount of time before you start the cars moving it isn’t really an issue, although it may be more of a problem on the smaller iPod/iPhone screen – I haven’t played that version.

All the vehicles have their own abilities, desires and cartoon personalities

Arcadelife verdict: This is one of the best puzzle games I’ve seen for quite a while. Everything about it is very polished, including things like the “zooming in” 3D feel as a level starts and details like the shadows of clouds and planes passing by on the ground. Anyone who even slightly enjoys puzzle games on their iPad should be perfectly happy with this game.

So far, so good

Arcadelife rating: 94/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.1
iTunes link

Push Cars website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (OS 4.3.3)
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Interstellar Cupcake review (iPod/iPhone)

June 27, 2011

“Calling occupants of interplanetary, most extraordinary craft”

10 word description: “You’re a cupcake, flying through space in a rocket ship!” (Lifted verbatim from the app store description. Why try to improve on that?)

10 word review: Simple, casual endless flyer. Collect stars, dodge baddies. Various characters.

These should be mostly unlockable rewards instead of immediately available. My opinion. And I'm right.

You will like this if you enjoy: Casual (and rather easy) endless flying games. Aero Bear comes to mind, that was fairly similar.

The good news: Pick-up-and-play casual game with decent graphics and gameplay.

Shields are one of several random power-ups to collect from different coloured stars

The bad news: It could (should) be smoother. Having all the playable characters available at the start is a huge missed opportunity for unlockable content and associated replayability.  There are a few bugs with the high-score table. First, if your score is over 9999 (mine is, of course) you lose the leading digit(s), so, for example, my score of 27801 is displayed in the right position on the table, but as 7801. You can only input 8 characters as your name, but if you delete any characters off the end and enter something shorter, the old deleted characters are still there. See screenshots…

Boo! Arcadelife - denied!

Note - 27801

Reduced to 7801, but still top place. The name is all messed up too...

Arcadelife verdict: It’s playable and rather fun, but feels like it should be running a lot smoother considering how basic it is. I’d recommend locking all but one of the different playable characters and making them rewards for attaining scores or achievements. Sort out the minor bugs with the high-score table and that’s pretty much everything fixed.

Here's a tip - don't try to colonize space with sentient confectionery

Arcadelife rating: 68/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Nesesita / Interstellar Cupcake website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.3)
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1-bit Ninja review (iPod/iPhone)

June 26, 2011

“This is the end of everything.
You are the end of everything.
I haven’t slept since I woke up and found my whole life was a lie…!”

10 word description: Run & jump 2D platform challenges. Gameboy style graphics. Unlockables.

Level 1 is hard. It doesn't get any easier

10 word review: Platform gaming in its purest form. Very hard, well designed.

How did I get up here? Well, that's part of the fun

You will like this if you enjoy: Mos Speedrun; League of Evil; Gravity Runner; Very, very hard platform games.

The 3D swipe mode can show you hidden paths that are invisible in the 2D view

The good news: The simplified controls and brutally well designed platform challenges create the perfect hardcore platform experience for touch-screen devices. Despite requiring an intimidating number of retries to collect all the “Big Bits” in each level, this adds to an immense feeling of satisfaction when each level is completed. The Gameboy style graphics are great and the inclusion of a 3D rotation option to spot hidden paths is inspired. Controls are perfect. If you fail a jump, YOU failed a jump, not the controls.

The subtle Gameboy styled graphics are consistently good

The bad news: Casual gamers should stay well away. The amount of stupid comments on the UK app store and a well known touch-screen gaming forum, complaining about “no back button” are testament to the number of people who just can’t handle this level of challenge. If you buy this game after reading the app store description, where it clearly states that there is no back button, please don’t bother complaining that there is no back button. It makes you look a bit silly.

Yeah, I really am that good

Arcadelife verdict: Brilliant. The platform gaming challenge that the iOS devices needed. It even has built in replay recording function for all those perfect runs that you achieve…

If you're reminded of those old isometric games on the ZX Spectrum, like Knight Lore, you're not alone

Arcadelife rating: 95/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.01
iTunes link

Kode80 / 1-bit Ninja website link

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

June 25, 2011

Arcadelife is currently playing Reflection Connection from Pixani Games, an iPad only puzzle game that was released on June 15th. Look out for the Arcadelife review very soon! Meanwhile, here’s the press release from Pixani and some screens from my iPad…

iPad game “Reflection Connection” picked as New & Noteworthy

First offering from Pixani Games gets nod from Apple

Media, PA – June 23, 2011 – Just days after its release in Apple’s App Store, “Reflection Connection,” the first iPad game created by fledgling company Pixani Games LLC, has been promoted to the coveted New & Noteworthy section in both categories where it is offered: Puzzles and Board Games.

“We’re very excited and grateful,” says Mike Lorenz, Pixani’s Lead Designer. “We were hoping Apple would see what our beta testers saw, and it looks like they did. From the very beginning, our testers absolutely loved Reflection Connection. One of them told us it’s the first game since Tetris that had him so addicted to something so simple.”

Reflection Connection is a unique game, infusing a mixture of casual playing and positional strategy. Players place mirrors on a board to reflect beams of light to connect identical pairs of gems. As more beams of light are created, less of the board is left for new ones, so some planning is often required.

“What’s great about this game,” adds Lorenz, “is you can choose to solve small boards, which play very quickly, or choose larger boards which can take ten minutes apiece. There’s even a mode where everyone in the room with an iPad syncs to the same board to see who can solve it fastest. I’ve seen this in action, and it’s a ton of fun, especially when kids play against adults.”

Reflection Connection is now available as an iPad app for $1.99 in the United States. Pixani is currently working on an iPhone / iPod Touch version. The game was written using Ansca Mobile’s Corona SDK.

For more information on the game, including a demonstration video, visit http://www.ref-con.com. For more information on the Corona SDK, visit http://www.anscamobile.com/corona.

Pixani Games LLC is an independent games studio based near Philadelphia, PA. Mike Lorenz co-founded the company in 2011 to create enjoyable games, much like the ones he played growing up. Lorenz won First Prize in the Ansca Corona 48-hour competition in February 2011 for his entry “Princess Pixani and the Monkeys of Rainbow Island”, completed from start to finish in 48 hours real time.

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Globs review (iOS/Universal)

June 23, 2011

“Get some colours on, get some colours on”

10 word description: Match colours, merge Globs and get big points. Normal & Time mode.


10 word review:
Colourful, casual and incredibly simple game. Didn’t really grab me.

You will like this if you enjoy: Casual colour matching games. Note – this isn’t a Match-3 game, even if it sounds like one.

The good news: Very easy to get into; fairly relaxed play, even in timed mode.

The increased number of globs doesn't make the game any more challenging. It just takes a bit longer.

The bad news: Too easy and it feels very limited with only two modes which are almost identical due to the very generous time limit in Time mode.

You can go and make a cup of tea and the timer bar (bottom of the screen) won't move much more than this

Arcadelife verdict: It’s ok for what it is, but those looking for anything beyond a casual, relaxed colour-matching game should probably try one of the other thousands of games available on the app store. Apparently 70 million people have “enjoyed the online version” of Globs. I’d hazard a guess that the word “enjoyed” might be a bit of optimism on the part of the marketing department.

Thanks, you're welcome

Arcadelife rating: 40/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Crawl Space / Globs website link

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