Archive for September, 2011


Cowboy Guns HD review (iOS / Universal)

September 19, 2011

“The rider wearing black,
You know he’s gonna shoot you in the back”

10 word description: Dual stick shooter, Cowboy themed; adventure, survival; upgrades, weapons, bosses.

10 word review: Enjoyable story-driven action with amusing characters and decent pace.

In this town, they're ALL called Shorty...

You will like this if you enjoy: Games with a cowboy theme; dual-stick shooters; action games with a story. Stumpy characters reminiscent of the ones in Michael Bentine’s Potty Time. You’re too young – Google it.

This guy is definitely from the wrong side of the tracks

The good: Graphics are great; performance and camera positioning are both consistently good. Controls work well. Dialogue cut-scenes fit in nicely and are short enough not to get annoying. Characters and dialogue are pretty good. Upgrades from cash and star collection means you have plenty to do and lots of stuff to look forward to earning. The game auto-saves and can also be manually saved at any time. Great Spaghetti Western inspired music.

We deal in lead, friend

The bad:When wandering around, particularly when looking for the last few stars in a map zone, the player character could walk just a little bit faster. At times, in fights, it would be nice to be able to zoom out and see more of the immediate area, although I can see a few reasons why that might not work, graphical performance possibly being one of them. There’s a noticeable lack of movie quotes that a Western movie geek would appreciate.

They come at night ... mostly

The ugly: The bad guys are an ugly bunch. Shoot ’em full of holes, pardner.

It's a huge gun called "Doomsday" - you know you want it

Arcadelife verdict: This is a fun game that uses the Western theme convincingly, rather than feeling like an old dual-stick shooter that has simply been re-skinned with Cowboy graphics. The star collecting could be unfairly criticised as a time-sink, but it does give you a good reason to explore every dead-end in every zone. Overall, it’s great to see such a polished and enjoyable Cowboy game with competent action, a solid story and plenty of weapons and achievements. Still not sure? Try the lite version.

Arcadelife rating: 88/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Chillingo / Cowboy Guns website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

Lap Uranus review (iPod/iPhone)

September 18, 2011

“I’m on a rocket to Uranus,
And the rocket’s going to take us, to the planet that’ll save us”

10 word description: Traverse the rings around Uranus. Avoid ploughing straight into Uranus.

I'm on lap "number 2" and I am getting perilously close to ramming into Uranus

10 word review: Pun-splattered suicide mission blends puerile innuendo with intense gameplay.

There are plenty of achievements. Here's one of them

You will like this if you enjoy: Casual “how long can you last?” type games. An overload of Uranus puns and humour. Simple, addictive games.

It's worth doing this to get the "Zero Laps" achievement. It's also funny

The good news: Looking beyond the arse jokes, it is actually a pretty good variation on the “endless travel” theme, although you’re only ever travelling in circles. Around Uranus. Difficulty is pitched about right, with gradual speed increase guaranteeing eventual disaster of one sort or another.

If you don't find this even remotely amusing, I kind of pity you

The bad news: If you find Benny Hill offensive or you don’t appreciate playground Uranus-pun humour, you will probably already be writing a frothing letter of complaint to Apple. The game itself is fine, for what it is. Controls work well (tap to turn left) and graphically it’s more than adequate, as you can tell from the screen images.

I must admit I haven't tried multiplayer but it looks fun

Arcadelife verdict: If you fancy piloting a rocket around Uranus, with the huge possibility of ramming right into Uranus at high velocity, and you can’t stop smirking at the idea of doing this, there’s really nothing stopping you getting this game. Not even a complete lack of money, as the standard version is free. There’s a small cost associated with unlocking multiplayer.

There's a whole load of Uranus-themed merchandise on the website

Arcadelife rating: 69/100

They have stickers too...

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)

GoatUp review (iOS / Universal)

September 17, 2011

“Life’s an illusion, love is a dream
But I don’t know what it is, ‘cos
Everybody’s happy nowadays”

10 word description: Raise a family of goats – as high as you can.

Kiss that goat and start your family

10 word review: Happy, trippy, nostalgic, eccentric, addictive and endlessly amusing. Get it.

The game applauds the arrival of your first-born

You will like this if you enjoy: Endless jumping games (but to plonk it into that genre is doing it a huge disservice), retro themed games, Jeff Minter’s other games, iOS games with perfect controls, games that make you smile.

One of the more useful power-ups slows you down. Others do stranger things

The good news: Controls are perfect. I thought I’d get that out of the way first. Gameplay is close to perfect. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it, I’m just leaving some room to manoeuvre in case the next Llamasoft game gets it even more right. Graphics are a warped mixture of animals (to be expected), retro gaming sprites (Berzerk, Manic Miner, etc.), household objects, foodstuffs, the ZX Spectrum title screen, and a whole range of bizarre items.

The bad news: Real life is nowhere near as happy as this game.

Enemies can be whacked with your trail of kids, often scoring a lot of points

Arcadelife verdict: I couldn’t get my feeble brain to adapt to Llamasoft’s previous release (Deflex) but this one, for me, is just brilliant. Leaping around as a procreation obsessed goat in a world of 80s gaming sprites and trippy weirdness is just pure fun. It makes me happy. Not many games do that nowadays and I don’t think many developers put “Make the player happy” at the top of their list when designing a game.

There's Miner Willy ... and some furry dice, of course

Arcadelife rating: 92/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.011

iTunes link

Llamasoft website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

Burn the Rope Worlds review (iPod/iPhone)

September 16, 2011

“Can you light me up tonight?
I’d like to see you burn me down”

10 word description: Sequel. Rope burning puzzles; tilt control; different themes, many levels.

10 word review: Polished, enhanced sequel packed with content. Simple, fun, attractive, challenging.

Burn the green bug to turn the flame green to burn the green ropes ... easy

You will like this if you enjoy: Burn the Rope, casual puzzle games, games without time-limits, games involving a fair amount of tilting, games that are quite different from established iOS genres.

The 4 different worlds have rope shapes consistent with the world's theme

The good news: Improves and enhances the experience of the original. The rope-burning game mechanic, as well as being very different from the majority of iOS games is also perfect for tilt control. Graphics, effects, level design and interface are all of a high standard.

Failure is always an option if you're me

The bad news: Anyone with an aversion to tilting really won’t like this game. Personally, I’m not a huge tilting fan but it works really well in this game due to the natural feel of directing the upward burning flames.

I love the smell of burning rope in the morning. It smells like ... victory

Arcadelife verdict: This is a polished and content-rich game with a unique and convincing flame-guiding concept. There are no time limits and it’s possible to progress even if you don’t do a particularly great job on a tough level, due to the fairly lenient bronze rating. All four worlds are instantly accessible, so if you get half way through the first one (Jungle) and get stuck, or just want a change of theme, you can start playing any of the other worlds whenever you like.

Bonus bug-burning round. Kill 'em all

Overall it’s a nice mix of challenge and relaxation with good looks and the aforementioned ton of content.

100 challenge levels. That's plenty

Arcadelife rating: 88/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Burn the Rope Worlds website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)

Gun Fu review (iOS / Universal)

September 15, 2011

“Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor”

10 word description: Screen tap reaction testing shooter. “10 Trials” and “Onslaught” modes.

10 word review: Very simple, quite stylish, rather addictive, surprisingly hard, definitely fast.

By shooting two enemies at once, you score higher than taking them out one at a time

You will like this if you enjoy: Intense reaction games; stylish yet simple action games; casual whack-a-mole type games; Equilibrium (film).

In Fury mode you aren't penalised for missing, but it still means that you suck

The good news: Judging what is here, rather than what is not, the game is a very intense and stylish test of reaction speed and tapping dexterity. I actually liked the film Equilibrium so I can appreciate what is being attempted in Gun-Fu, although it’s easy to point out flaws and gaping holes in the game’s partial emulation of Equilibrium’s Gun-Kata, in the same way that it is easy to point out plot-holes and the fundamental silliness of the movie. In the genre of minimalistic reaction tap/shooters, Gun Fu has the intensity and graphical style to make it stand out in the churning mass of fruit slicing, vegetable chopping and zombie splatting games.

"No ... Not without incident."

The bad news: None of the detractions (simplicity, lack of variation in gameplay, graphical monotony) actually spoil the game. They are all part of the design and can’t honestly be singled out as flaws. As a textbook example of “what you see is what you get”, Gun Fu is perfect. The only real complaint I have is that it is almost impossible to get decent screen images of the action while playing, due to the frantic pace of the game and the lag (nothing to do with this game) associated with taking screen shots on an iOS device.

A miss is indicated by that red X above his head. Three misses and you're out

Arcadelife verdict: This is probably the fastest bodycount generator on the app store. It’s simple, fast, mindless and really rather fun; whack-a-mole in a trench coat.

Not very good, but it is a tough game!

Arcadelife rating: 79/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.2
iTunes link

Dobsoft Studios website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

Bouncy Bug review (iOS / Universal)

September 14, 2011

“Everybody now… Doing the bed bug bounce”

10 word description: Action game, flexible liquid environments, trampoline style, dynamically generated graphics.

10 word review: Flinging control takes some practice; polished and fairly good-looking.

That big floating blob of black glop isn't really helping

You will like this if you enjoy: Casual, blob-flinging games (come on, this is a well known genre, right?). Games where you don’t have direct control over the main character, but manipulate the environment to influence its movement.

Now I've almost collected all the fruit... If only the time ran out a bit slower

The good news: Dynamically generated levels mean that each game is different in appearance and challenge from the last. The tapping/flinging game mechanic works quite well – it’s arguably not that original (for an iOS game anyway) but it makes good use of the touch screen. Graphics are ok, considering that the environment is just a variable black space. Backgrounds and objects are colourful.

Bonus consumables are awarded for completing certain levels

The bad news:  I initially found it quite difficult to aim the bug/blob guy by tapping the floor and walls of the environment. Aiming accuracy is never 100% reliable. Time runs out quite quickly and it can be a bit frustrating to have your attempts to collect fruit thwarted by unpredictable launch trajectories and a rapidly ticking clock. I would prefer to be allowed to progress to the next level if a certain percentage of fruit had been collected, rather than the current scenario which is Game Over if even one fruit remains when the timer runs out. The use of consumable items completely breaks the flow of the game as it involves going into a pause menu, selecting the item and then resuming the game.

After a great run, this "insta-fail" level predictably ended my fun

Arcadelife verdict: Overall, it’s a well presented game that is slightly let down by the erratic difficulty spikes created by the dynamic levels and the aggressive timer. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the game, and it is fairly addictive despite the frustration factor, but it isn’t the most exciting game I’ve played recently. The “pause to select an item” method is just wrong. The dynamic levels are good for replayability but are also the source of some irritation when a virtually unbeatable level pops up unexpectedly after a run of fairly simple ones.

Nice pear ... huh huh huh

Arcadelife rating: 68/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Bouncy Bug website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

Babes Vs. Robots review (iPod/iPhone)

September 13, 2011

“This time I’ve got to win,
You can call me anything but….
Don’t call me babe”

10 word description: Kill the Robots! Help the Babes! Save the World! (Taken from the app store description and, yes, I know it’s only 9 words.)  

If you zoom in, it's obvious that she's not wearing a bra. Trust me.

10 word review: Decent, challenging Worms/Fragger combat; plenty of levels and weapons.

Often, grenades need to be precisely bounced to reach their target

You will like this if you enjoy: Worms, Fragger, Angry Birds. Blowing up robots from a 50s sci-fi movie.

The good news: Theme and style are pretty good, graphics are ok (zoom function is fun but of limited usefulness), levels are varied and well designed, different weapons encourage thoughtful strategic deployment rather than just random blasting. Difficulty level seems about right, at least for me.

The molotov cocktail won't damage the robots but can be used to burn away flammable parts of any structure

The bad news: The Babe quotient is too low and there are no unlockable outfits. Some people may dismiss this criticism as utterly pathetic, however I disagree. I would, seeing as how I said it, but in a game called Babes vs Robots I’d expect to see at least as many different Babes as different Robots. There also needs to be a separate screen where the main babe can be viewed in 3D and rotated, maybe with clothing that is affected by physics and gravity and a directional wind-tunnel effect that blows loose-fitting clothing about.

In the future, when stuff explodes, lots of numbers will fly about

Arcadelife verdict: As with many iOS titles, a game that would struggle to get beyond the initial-idea stage on any other platform appears quite normal and unsurprising as an iPhone release. The title “Babes Vs. Robots” is just as likely to repel as it is to attract, depending on your personal preferences, and the blatantly derivative combat style is also treading a thin line between “instabuy” and “Oh no, not again”. Dispensing with any attempt at common sense, I’d recommend forcefully violating your iTunes credit one more time in order to help these scantily clad saviours defend our planet from the Robot menace.

This makes so much sense, on so many levels

Arcadelife rating: 74/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)

Jelly Wars review (iOS / Universal)

September 12, 2011

“War is love, war is hell”

10 word description: Online multiplayer (1 vs 1); destroy jelly opponent; ranking system.

Not all the levels are symmetrical - here I am the one on the ground and I am going to lose because I haven't yet started to use my initiative...!

10 word review: Entertaining, polished online battles. Worms/Angry Birds style shooting. Fun!

To shoot, jump, or try something clever and fall in the water? Decisions, decisions...

You will like this if you enjoy: A combination of intuitive Worms style slingshot combat and online 1 vs 1 multiplayer gaming.

Many times, the next thing you see after this is a message that your opponent has left

The good news: Of great importance, the online system is smooth, polished and quick to join games. Graphics are very good, with a nice zoom & pan functionality. Combat takes maybe one or two games to figure out, with only three shooting modes to master – normal shot, sticky shot and character shot (to move your jelly around the level).

Thanks, some free points. Always welcome...

The bad news: Online play only. There’s no offline or single-player mode, so the only way to learn is to play online against other players. The fun can sometimes be slightly spoiled by opponents who quit after the first round, although this guarantees you some points so it’s not all bad news. Note – there’s no chat function so you don’t have to endure grammatically challenged insults from pre-teens and angry middle-aged nowheres.

Here's an example of the destructible scenery ... see the next picture ...

Arcadelife verdict: This is an impressively conceived and implemented online game. Most of the matches I’ve played have been great fun, against randomly picked players with a wide range of Jelly lobbing ability. Graphics, controls and combat are all very good. There’s more to the combat than shooting accuracy, and I have won several matches by either destroying the lowest platform under an opponent or knocking them off it, both of which have the same result – they fall into the water and instantly die. Ha ha ha…. great fun!

After a hard battle, the landmass is looking rather different

It would be really nice to have an offline / single-player mode, but I understand why there isn’t one – it’s a multiplayer game… Highly recommended, but try the free version (ad supported) if you’re not sure.

Different level layouts require adaptive strategies, according to my book on how to sound like a pompous tit on the internet

Arcadelife rating: 89/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.15
iTunes link

Star Arcade website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

BloodRunner review (iPod/iPhone)

September 11, 2011

“The bats have left the bell tower
The victims have been bled”

It's not an endless runner, let's clear that up right from the start

10 word description: Vampire-themed free-scrolling platformer. 60 levels, Retina display, achievements.

That's you, the rather freaky looking black thing with its tongue hanging out

10 word review: Despite the tilt controls, this is a real hidden gem.

Your objective is to reach your coffin in each level. A high score is obtained by collecting all the blood drops as quickly as possible

You will like this if you enjoy: Platform games; Vampire themed games; fairly hard games (this one does get pretty tough).

The level select contains a mini-map of each level - make use of that!

The good news: Graphics, framerate, theme, controls (tilt actually works well in this one, surprisingly), amount of content, variety of obstacles, level design.

Travelling vertically is easy, and not just in the downward direction

The bad news: Although tilt controls do work well, it would be great to have a touch-screen alternative at least as an option. Single death restart (no health / lives) might be too tough for some, although others will love the challenge.

Unsurprisingly, wooden stakes are deadly

Arcadelife verdict: This is a fun platformer that avoids or totally skews several genre standards, completely omitting touch-screen controls and allowing the player character to climb vertical walls. The vampire’s life is constantly running out, hence the need to find and consume every drop of blood in each level. What surprises me most about this game is that although it has tilt controls and a timer (the health/blood thing) – two things I tend to instinctively dislike – I’m having a lot of fun with it. The graphics are very good and framerate is consistently smooth. Deaths are mostly down to rushing and making mistakes, rather than any issues with the controls or collision detection.

Water, also, is not a healthy option for the vampire

Overall, it’s a very enjoyable game that would probably get a lot more player interest and positive feedback if it was updated with a touch-screen option for directional control.

Figuring out when exactly to double-jump is an integral part of remaining alive

Arcadelife rating: 80/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link

BloodRunner website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)

Spooky Hoofs review (iPod/iPhone)

September 10, 2011

“Catch catch the horror taxi,
I fell in love with a video nasty”

10 word description: Endless stagecoach run; upgrades, boss battles, Gothic styling; Game Center.

A Hammer Horror film directed by that whippy bloke out of Castlevania. Also a really cool endless running game

10 word review: Incredibly atmospheric and stylish; flawless controls and great gameplay included!

Background animations (like that windmill) add to the incredible atmosphere

You will like this if you enjoy: Endless runners (of which this is a superb example); Gothic/Horror themed games; atmospheric games; large, detailed and imaginative boss monsters…!

This message reminds me of the "Huge battleship approaching" warnings in the Darius games

The good news: It’s really rather awesome. There’s a degree of randomness to the game, so the first area is pulled from what looks like a pool of two or three possible background themes and the first boss is one of at least three. I’ve seen three different ones appear as the “first boss” anyway. Controls are about as perfect as you need them to be and the on-screen buttons fade away after a while, as you can see in some of the screen-shots in this review.

Collect those floating, coloured tokens to earn powerful upgrades

The bad news: There’s a bit of a loading delay right at the start and between each game, but none during the game itself, even during zone transitions. Apart from that, it’s very hard to fault.

If you have the whip upgrade by the time you reach the boss, you can fight back. Otherwise it's a case of trying to survive until the boss leaves

Arcadelife verdict: I really love this one. The style, animation, upgrades, boss battles, everything has been considered carefully and polished into a really fun and atmospheric game. Yes, ok, I have probably used the word “atmospheric” at least three times in the review. Sorry, but it is. Very. I keep noticing little details every time I play, from the animated windmills in the background to the way the coach driver bounces out of his seat when you jump.

The short intro turns into the menu. When you start a game, the coach in the menu shrinks into the game coach. It's very slick, so much so that you may even miss it the first time it happens

Worth mentioning is how good it looks (and plays) at 2x on an iPad. A Universal update and maybe some star-rated challenge levels would catapult this game into the Best-Game-Ever league. As it stands, it’s the Best-Game-Ever this weekend and definitely the best ever stagecoach themed endless runner.

Arcadelife rating: 91/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Gamesmold / Spooky Hoofs website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5) – It looks & runs great at 2x