Archive for February, 2012

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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)

 

 

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DARIUSBURST -SP- review (iOS/Universal)

February 10, 2012

“Nobody told me it feels so good
Nobody said you’d be so beautiful”

10 word description: Horizontally scrolling shoot-em-up from Taito’s classic Darius series.

10 word review: Utterly gorgeous, action packed, pretty much a perfect port. Recommended!

The cybernetic sea-creature enemies are traditional and always entertaining

You will like this if you enjoy: Side-scrolling shooters. The Darius series or any arcade style shoot-em-up.

The good news: Beautiful graphics, really good music and sounds, great gameplay (that doesn’t overwhelm with screens full of utter chaos or complex scoring systems), two different game modes, 4 ships (2 unlock within game), hardly any slowdown at all. Relative touch controls and a couple of on-screen buttons that can be moved wherever you like.

The massive, detailed 3D bosses fly in and out of your field of view before taking up their attack position

The bad news: Screen orientation is fixed in what I consider to be upside-down mode. To take the screenshots for this review I played the game upside-down (right-to-left) in order to be able to get screenshots without performing bizarre hand contortions. Hopefully an update will introduce automatic screen flipping or at least an option to flip the screen orientation. Saying that, I still managed to complete original mode on normal difficulty playing upside-down…

It's a pyrotechnic masterpiece. The almost total lack of slowdown, even in the busiest sequences, is very impressive

Arcadelife verdict: Absolutely stunning game on every level. Looks, sounds, gameplay, and it’s a lot of fun. This isn’t a bullet hell shooter, it’s very much an updated version of the kind of arcade games that emerged in the late eighties – Gradius, Darius, etc. and I think it’s more fun than the admittedly technically phenomenal games from companies like Cave.

It’s considerably more expensive than the majority of iOS games, but when you look at what you’re getting, any arcade or shoot-em-up fan will love this and have no regrets buying it.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9.5/10
Audio – 10/10
Controls – 10/10
Content – 9.5/10
Fun – 9.5/10
Final rating – 97/100

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

Taito / DariusBurst website link (English)

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

 

 

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Angry Bomber review (iPod/iPhone)

February 9, 2012

“What you gonna cop
When the bomb drops”

10 word description: 2D scrolling City Bomber style game. 30 levels. Game Center.

He's angry because of the slow, unresponsive controls

10 word review: Derivative and rather slow; unresponsive controls/menus, and loading delays.

You will like this if you enjoy: City Bomber style games.

The good news: Graphics aren’t too bad.

I'm angry, ok? I'll kill whoever I want to

The bad news: It’s not a great genre example. Apart from the colourful style, it doesn’t really entertain. The controls aren’t very good.

Arcadelife verdict: If you’re not going to aim for originality, you at least need to make the game fun to play. The touch controls are weird, introducing unnecessary frustration.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 6/10
Audio – 5/10
Controls – 5/10
Content – 5/10
Fun – 3/10
Final rating – 48/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link

Creative Rights website link

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

February 8, 2012

“But it’s only words
I meant every word”

10 word description: Use refrigerator magnet words to create sentences and solve puzzles.

10 word review: Interesting variation on word puzzles, relies more on general knowledge.

The title at the top is often helpful

You will like this if you enjoy: Puzzles involving a mixture of word arranging and trivia.

If you don't know, you can try several times, but time is always running out

The good news: It’s different enough to stand out among other word-themed puzzle games on iOS. Decent mixture of general knowledge, word-spotting and quick reactions required.

If you know the quote, it's a lot easier than piecing it together a word at a time using guesswork

The bad news: Graphically it’s not particularly awesome. There are only a couple of spot effects for sounds and no music. There’s no single-word undo, just an option to reset all the placed words.

Arcadelife verdict: This is a good effort, taking the “word puzzle” idea and giving it an interesting twist. Some of the puzzle categories are easier if you have decent general knowledge as you will be able to see the correct answer almost immediately, rather than having to move the words around to work the answer out. With a bit of tweaking this will be a very good game, although there’s no reason at the moment for anyone wanting a new word puzzle game not to get it.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 6/10
Audio – 5/10
Controls – 8.5/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 8/10
Final rating – 71/100

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

No website link available, sorry.

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

February 5, 2012

“The death of one is a tragedy
The death of a million is just a statistic”

10 word description: Play as Death on its horse, reaping everything in your path. (Lifted verbatim from app store description. I know it’s 11 words… again ;-)

You are Death. On a horse. It really doesn't get much cooler than that

10 word review: Dark, addictive, eerily beautiful endless runner with great permanent upgrades.

That tree didn't suffer, honest

You will like this if you enjoy: Endless runners with a dark/gothic theme. Spooky Hoofs is very similar in atmosphere and execution. Endless games with unlockable permanent upgrades and score boosters.

Knights appear at regular intervals to challenge Death - the poor fools!

The good news: Great style, graphics, music, sounds, controls, combo system, unlockable powers. And no IAPs – how absolutely bloody fantastic; there is still a very small corner of the world where people aren’t stupid. I’ll just mention the music again, because it’s great.

The game features a constant day/night cycle which is really rather pretty

The bad news: You have to play the game. You can’t buy your way to success. All you IAP monkeys will have to find something else not to play. Aw, what a shame.

You play, earn points, buy upgrades, play some more. Wonderful

Arcadelife verdict: I could play this all night. The unlockable powers not only add great replay incentive but also prove to be invaluable as soon as you try stage 2 and the ****ing archers start appearing! If you like endless runners, particularly ones with a bit of depth in the upgrade department and a rather cool theme – you play as Death on a horse, killing everything including trees – go get this right now.

Death's death by archer. I love this screenshot!

Arcadelife rating

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

Rating categories explained here.

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 2.0
iTunes link

Lethe Games website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
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Robokill 2 review (iPad)

February 4, 2012

“Is this gonna be a standup fight, sir, or another bughunt?”

Robokill 2: Leviathan Five, to give the game its full title

10 word description: Sequel. Dual-stick shooter. 12 missions, 600 rooms. In-App-Purchases.

10 word review: A copy of the first one, plus a few irritations.

You will like this if you enjoy: Robokill. Dual stick shooters.

The good news: Graphics and sound are generally good. Controls work well. Weapons and enemies are ok. Visual effects are varied and mostly impressive.

The bad news: Well, it’s virtually identical to the first one; the only significant change is a bad one – mission progress (i.e. cleared rooms) isn’t saved. If  you return to the menu or the game crashes, which happened to me a few times, you have to restart the current mission even if you had almost finished it. Your accumulated gear and cash, however, are retained. Now, call me cynical, but this appears to be directly linked to the in-app-purchases where you can buy cash and character levels. Oh, and there’s some slow-down on busy screens. Falling down holes is annoying when you didn’t even realise that there was a hole there.

Arcadelife verdict: It’s not an improvement on the original game. Apart from the ‘Aliens’ inspired enemies, which inexplicably start to feature laser toting generic bad guys within a few rooms, there’s hardly anything to identify it as a separate game. The doors look a bit different, but everything else looks the same, even the unnecessary screen border, the shop, and the level up notifications.

The shop screen is the same old mess, with no attempt at sorting a whole bunch of things that look the same. Instead, they added game-killing IAPs, so that's just great

Where the original Robokill showed you the whole map of each mission, this one employs a fog-of-war mentality, but it’s still the same old key-hunt and repetitive clearing of anonymous, randomly designed rooms. The IAPs are baffling – you can buy your way to level 17 without shooting a single alien. Well that’s just great; why not let us buy the congratulatory “Thanks for saving the universe” final cutscene or, better still, why not just go and watch someone else playing the game on YouTube? Pathetic. I honestly don’t care what the mathematically calculated final rating is for this, it’s getting a low mark for the total lack of inspiration and the sheep-like “must add IAPs” attitude.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8.5/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 8.5/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 7/10
Final rating – 50/100

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

Wandake website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (OS 5.0.1)
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AWESOME Land review (iOS/Universal)

February 2, 2012

“Something’s gone wrong again
And again and again and again again and…”

10 word description: 2D horizontal scrolling retro style platformer. 20 levels. Pixel art.

10 word review: Once again, a Mario homage doesn’t quite get it right.

You will like this if you enjoy: Retro scrolling platformers such as Super Mario. Come on, it doesn’t matter what anyone says, that’s the game this one most wants to be.

The good news: Pretty good retro graphics. Rock riff soundtrack at least doesn’t go for the bouncy chiptunes that everyone comes to expect. Level design, although never venturing anywhere near originality, is always tight and challenging. Controls feel right, although I’d argue (as usual) that the on-screen buttons are unnecessary. If you’re specifically interested in playing on iPad, I do like the positioning and the way they feel on that device.

What's the bet he calls his bike Princess, or maybe Peach?

The bad news: Once again, a Mario homage doesn’t quite live up to the promise. There’s too much missing from this game, and it’s a shame because what’s there is great. Here’s my list of notable omissions:

– No level select
– No score
– No par times
– Nothing to collect
– No secret rooms or alternative paths through levels

The above list removes a lot of the playability, not to mention the complete elimination of replayability. Overall, it’s not as bad as the glitchy, annoying cute mess of Paper Monsters, but it’s equally disappointing because the style, controls and level design are all very good.

The collision/death sound is weird, like a pane of glass breaking in a barrel.

‘New Game’ and ‘Continue’ options are close together and there’s no “Are you sure?”, with a new game completely replacing the current one.

Arcadelife verdict: Another sigh and raised eyebrows here, I’m afraid. There must be something that affects anyone developing a Mario homage that forces them to get half of it right and then botch the rest of it for no apparent reason, as if they feel they can’t possibly put out a game that feels complete. If this game included the omissions I listed in the bad news section, it wouldn’t be perfect, but it would feel finished. As it is, Awesome Land shows that it’s possible to code a convincing retro/Mario platformer with decent controls… but that’s all it does. I like the platforming on offer here, don’t misunderstand me, I’d just like to see more game wrapped around the tech. The content rating below isn’t a complaint about the number of levels, but about the lack of fairly obvious game elements.

Go and look at Pizza Boy – very short, but it nailed pretty much everything that this game should be trying to do but hasn’t even bothered with. Yes, I know it has huge on-screen controls. Like I said, nobody ever gets it completely right.

No flagpole? Of course not, we don't want to make it too obvious...

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 7.5/10
Controls – 8.5/10
Content – 4/10
Fun – 7/10
Final rating – 70/100

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

FreakZone Games website link

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