Archive for February, 2012

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Fishbowl Racer review (iOS / Universal)

February 20, 2012

 “He will never be left on the shelf
‘cos Kevin he’s in love with himself”

10 word description: Guide the fish on his jolting cart through the house (Taken from app store picture caption).

10 word review: Endless runner as described by Salvador Dali after 14 pints.

"Get the fish up on the shelves" - It's so obvious ... if you live in an alternative dimension

You will like this if you enjoy: Having your preconceptions of videogames challenged by something fundamentally quite silly but a lot of fun.

And there he is, up on the shelf

The good news: (If you’re a Donut Games fan, just buy it). Graphics, sounds, controls – all very nice. Gameplay – incredibly, it’s an endless runner that is quite unlike any other, also very addictive and a great deal of fun.

5 points for hitting the ceiling lamp. Because it's a goldfish. Are you paying attention?

The bad news: It’s not very realistic; people might try this and damage their furniture.*

It's very hard to take screenshots of this game. Here, I just about managed to snap a shelf combo as it happened

Arcadelife verdict: Excellent game. Once you start getting into the ‘shelf combos’ it’s just a whole new level of genius. I don’t know who they’ve got working at Donut Games, designing this stuff, but they’re bloody good at it.

This is the kind of thing that's missing from too many games these days

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8.5/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 87/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.00
iTunes link

Donut Games website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
iPad (OS 5.0.1)
* Yes, that’s a joke.
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Gridrunner submitted to Apple

February 19, 2012

Great news from Llamasoft – Gridrunner for iOS has been submitted to Apple! It’s going to be a 69p / 99c game, which is even more good news.

As soon as it’s available on the UK app store I’ll be reviewing it on Arcadelife. Meanwhile, here are a couple of videos …

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SpongeBob’s Super Bouncy Fun Time review (iPod/iPhone & iPad)

February 18, 2012

“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea
Absorbent and yellow and porous is he”

10 word description: SpongeBob themed action physics puzzler. 100 levels. 15 power-ups.

10 word review: Lots of fun. Love of SpongeBob Squarepants is not required.

You will like this if you enjoy: Peggle, Angry Birds, Coin Drop … gameplay that mixes up the fun parts of those games.

20 levels done ... another 80 to go!

The good news: Excellent casual/fun gameplay. Bright, colourful cartoon graphics. Amusing sound effects and varied vocal exclamations from SpongeBob, plus a cheerfully rousing soundtrack. 100 levels. Stored high score for each level encourages replays. Consumable power-ups and cosmetic upgrades – some very pretty – are all earned in-game with no IAPs. All coins gained in a level are retained, even if you fail to beat it.

The bad news: Difficult to single out anything that is wrong with this game. One thing that I don’t really understand: instead of a single, universal app there are separate versions for iPhone/iPod and iPad.

In the 20th level, there's a creature to rescue

Arcadelife verdict: I’m not a SpongeBob fan. I don’t mean I came into this disliking him, just that I was previously indifferent. Despite the lack of SpongeBob in my life, I found this game to be instantly likeable and also a heck of a lot of fun. The basic aim/lob mechanic of the Bubble Blaster is similar to the shooting in Angry Birds, Fragger, etc. and the subsequent ball bouncing and scoring works very much as it does in Peggle and Coin Drop.

Some levels present quite a challenge achieving a 3-star rating with the default ball, which makes tactical use of the consumable power-ups more relevant as you progress through the later levels. This is well thought out and adds a fair bit of depth to the gameplay, while never feeling like it’s forcing you to use specific power-ups to solve levels. After completing the whole game with 3 stars on every level, I started playing through it again on my iPad with my 4-year old son, with him taking most of the shots. It’s easily the game he has most enjoyed recently.

Even if you fail a level, you still keep any coins that you earned while playing it

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 8.5/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 9.5/10
Final rating – 89/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Note – as yet unavailable on UK app store. Link is to iPhone version on US app store.

Nickleodeon website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
iPad (OS 5.0.1)
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Furmins review (iPod/iPhone)

February 17, 2012

“Hey you, what do you see?
Something beautiful, something free?”

10 word description: Physics based puzzler. Arrange items, reach exit. Over 70 levels.

As you know, there are no straight lines in nature

10 word review: Pretty and playable, if not entirely original. Some tricky puzzles.

You will like this if you enjoy: “Place objects to bounce characters to exit, optionally collecting rating boosting items en route” style games. Come on, you know exactly what I mean, there are loads of games like this. Drop The Chicken is a good example. Fans of Cat Physics and iBlast Moki would also find lots to like here.

The very first thing to do is go and unlock the x2 multiplier. Otherwise you're going to be replaying all the levels you played before you got it...

The good news: Very pretty. Note, I’m reviewing the iPhone non-Retina version, not the universal HD version. Good music and varied, atmospheric sound effects. Control method for the object placement phase (hold and drag) and the tap actions while the level is running are reliable and accurate. Pinch zooming is smooth and useful. Puzzle design is good. Almost all the levels can be unlocked before real money needs to be used in order to unlock some of the later bonus levels (assuming you’re capable of 3-starring everything).

It's very pretty, even in basic non-Retina form. There's no arguing about that

The bad news: Why can’t all the levels be unlocked naturally by earning stars/coins in the game? I worked out how many stars could be earned (with the x2 multiplier enabled from the start) and there just aren’t enough to unlock all the level packs and all the bonus levels. I don’t know if this is deliberate, an accident that will be rectified, or a failure of my calculating skills, but the fact that I felt the need to calculate the point where the IAP would be necessary tends to take some of the fun out of  the game. Here’s a tip – don’t start unlocking the individual bonus levels (in level pack 8) before unlocking level packs 4, 5 and 6 because you might find yourself unable to unlock those level packs due to running out of stars/coins.

Arcadelife verdict: Overall, it’s a polished and very nice looking game. You do need to 3-star pretty much every level with the x2 multiplier enabled in order to be able to play all the locked level packs without spending more real money. I found the level solutions to require rather precise object placement and tap-timing, making a 3-star victory more a process of applying tiny adjustments than conquering a puzzle through ingenuity. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; games like Cat Physics bring that kind of micro adjustment very much to the foreground of gameplay and there’s a definite market for competitive point chasing in physics puzzlers, even if the only competition is your previous best score. It’s a shame, then, that Furmins doesn’t have a points score for each level; the best you can ever do is get 3 stars.

Clearing a level awards you a nice firework display

Although I’ve emphasised a couple of things that struck me as negatives, it really depends on your point of view and your feelings about paying to unlock existing content within a paid-for game. The game itself is a more than worthy addition to the iOS physics puzzler collection.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8.5/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 8/10
Final rating – 84/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.0
iTunes link

Furmins website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
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Diggin’ Dogs review (iPod/iPhone)

February 14, 2012

“Now I wanna be your dog”

10 word description: Guide your intrepid pups as they dig through the earth. (Lifted verbatim from app store description.)

The dogs only dig for the first inch, then it's all up to you

10 word review: Mostly enjoyable digging and collecting; screen view sometimes becomes annoying.

Good advice, in life as in videogames. Unless you're Super Mario

You will like this if you enjoy: The digging type puzzles in Where’s My Water?

In a completely unexpected turn of events, you have to collect gold coins!

The good news: Graphics are good, sounds are also ok. The digging (done by your finger, not by the dogs) works well, pretty much the same principle as in Where’s My Water? Plenty of levels, lots of enemies and additional puzzle elements.

Whoa, too many mushrooms, man. Stop it. Stop it now

The bad news: It can become rather fiddly at times. Levels often feel claustrophobic and the slow tilt-to-scroll method of viewing more of the surrounding area is a bit of a hindrance.

Yes, the icicles are dangerous

Arcadelife verdict: Employing the basic digging/tunnelling mechanic of Where’s My Water?, this game tries very hard to match the cuteness but also introduces a higher level of difficulty and frustration, making the game a bit too punishing to get top marks for fun. It’s a good game, but I’m not sure the prevalent use of tilting has improved the fundamental gameplay. Ultimately, it’s a decent physics puzzle game with plenty of appeal. If you had fun with the way the digging worked in Where’s My Water?, you will probably enjoy this game too.

Collecting the chest involves a panic inducing tilt-fest that is most likely to end in disaster

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 7.5/10
Controls – 8/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 7.5/10
Final rating – 78/100

Rating categories explained here.

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.02
iTunes link

Chillingo / Diggin’ Dogs website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
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SpongeBob game coming to iOS

February 13, 2012

I’ll be reviewing this on the day it’s released (15th February), but I thought I’d mention it now because it’s a lot of fun.

“SpongeBob’s Super Bouncy Fun Time” is best described as a cheerful mixture of Peggle and Angry Birds (or Fragger, depending on your personal preference). With a cast of colourful cartoon characters, including the titular sponge himself in the role of Ball Blaster shooting guy, and 100 levels to play through, this could be a must-buy and not just for fans of the show … wait until Wednesday to see what sort of rating it gets from Arcadelife.

The game will be released in two separate versions, one for iPhone/iPod Touch and one for iPad. I’ll cover both versions in the review.

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The Lost City review (iPod/iPhone)

February 11, 2012

“Welcome to the jungle, we got fun ‘n’ games”

10 word description: Point & click style adventure / puzzle game. Journal, dynamic map.

10 word review: Polished, varied and very pretty. Enjoyable; hint system is sensible.

You will like this if you enjoy: Point & click adventure games with varied puzzles.

The good news: Very good looking, graphics and animations/effects are of consistently high quality. Decent music and sound effects. Puzzles are varied and the solutions (as far as I’ve come so far) seem to be fairly logical.

On the map, the screen numbers match references within the hint system

The bad news: Getting stuck would normally be the main issue I’d have with a game like this, but the hint system does its best to help the player. It’s particularly useful when you manage to miss a hidden item on a screen, avoiding the usual looping frustration where you start clicking every item in your inventory on every screen…

Arcadelife verdict: This is a great genre example, adding variety with some interactive puzzles as well as the conventional “match inventory item X with object Y” point & click conundrums. The presentation is all very high quality; the inclusion of a journal that updates itself with symbols and clues, plus a dynamic map of discovered locations, adds to the overall enjoyment of the experience.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 8.5/10
Final rating – 88/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.01
iTunes link

Fire Maple Games / The Lost City website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)