Archive for April, 2012

h1

Proverbidioms review (iPad)

April 30, 2012

“You better put all your eggs in one basket
You better count your chickens before they hatch”

10 word description: Identify over 800 everyday phrases and sayings in four paintings.

10 word review: More of a general knowledge test than a video game.

The first 20 phrases/sayings from painting 1 are free, then it starts to cost money to unlock the rest, about £7.50 if you want the lot

You will like this if you enjoy: Similar “spot the words/phrases etc. in a jumbled picture” style games such as Say What You See.

The first painting apparently has 264 proverbs and clichés hidden within it

The good news: Pretty good for burning up any spare time you have when you aren’t playing any actual video games, because this isn’t a video game.

The bad news: I don’t think it uses the iPad functionality anywhere near as well as it could. Searching for the phrases in the scrolling list is a chore.

Arcadelife verdict: There’s nothing wrong with the concept, but it could have been implemented better on the iPad. The identified phrases in the list are marked with a star, but there’s no option that I could find to hide them or remove them from the list. Also, the identified elements of the painting don’t change; they’re not greyed out or otherwise marked as “done”. Compare that with Say What You See, where the picture elements are faded/greyed when correctly guessed. The pictures in SWYS also all have free demo modes, whereas only the first painting in this collection has a demo mode of 20 guesses. It’s not a bad app, but it could do with a bit of polish and some thought for the customer, with regards to improving the overall experience and a bit more generosity with the demos.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8.5/10
Audio – 2/10
Controls – 8/10
Content – 7/10
Fun – 5/10
Final rating – 60/100

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

Proverbidioms website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (OS 5.1)
h1

Spellsword review (iOS / Universal)

April 28, 2012

“How do you spell sword? Well, it’s ‘S W O R D’ I guess”

10 word description: Retro inspired hack ‘n’ slash survival. Missions & endless. Game Center.

10 word review: I’m drunk; it’s great. It’s still great when I’m sober.

You will like this if you enjoy: Muffin Knight, Super Crate Box. Jetpac, because I remember that one too.

Loving the Fallout 3 nod

The good news: No stupid frickin’ IAPs. And it’s a great game too.

Loads of upgrades and not an IAP in sight

The bad news: Hardly anyone reads these reviews.

Arcadelife verdict: Life sucks and video games are trivial time-wasters at best. I could be doing so much more with my time than reviewing spare-change phone games but I’m not. Maybe one day I’ll look back at all this and ask myself why, but I seriously doubt it. Overall, this game is a lot of fun and you should get it.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 8/10
Controls – 8.5/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 8.5/10
Final rating – 85/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.1
iTunes link

Everplay website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.1)
iPad (OS 5.1)
h1

Prince of Persia Classic HD review (iPad)

April 26, 2012

“Tonight I’m going to party like it’s $99.99”

10 word description: The original cinematic platformer (seriously) with graphical makeover for iPad.

10 word review: All the frustration of the original, now with ridiculous IAPs.

You will like this if you enjoy: Playing Prince of Persia with annoying controls and graphics that are more colourful but arguably less charming than the original. Spending real money on extra lives.

Combat is of the tap-tap-tap variety

The good news: Nobody is forcing you to spend $99.99 on extra lives, although it does feel that way. The graphics are ok.

No, I wasn't making it up

The bad news: Stupid IAPs. Seriously, if you’re willing to spend $99.99 on extra lives for a fairly weak iPad game, I think you have some problems. The graphics, although nice, are not quite as mind-blowing as Ubisoft would like you to think they are. Animation looks less fluid than in the original 1989 game… just think about that for a few seconds. Controls are annoying and unreliable, deaths feel cheap and unfair on a regular basis.

Arcadelife verdict: The original Prince of Persia was good at the time, subsequently surpassed by many games that improved on the concept such as Another World, Flashback and Blackthorne. Today, on the iPad, there are some great platform action games, for example Swordigo, that make PoP look quite feeble by comparison. If you ignore the “Revive for 1 life” option when you die you will never need to consider the IAPs; the game will be partially crippled but at least you won’t be handing over more cash to Ubisoft.

This is ultimately where it always ends - in a pit full of spikes

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 7/10
Audio – 8/10
Controls – 3/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 2/10
Final rating – 50/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 2.0.0
iTunes link

Ubisoft website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (OS 5.1)
h1

Air Jump review (iPod/iPhone)

April 24, 2012

“I know you want to
Jump up in the air and stay there”

10 word description: Side-scrolling endless platform jumping style game with upgrade shops.

10 word review: Pretty, quite addictive, do we really need all these IAPs?

You will like this if you enjoy: Casual endless jumping games with tilt controls.

The good news: Quite nice to look at, music isn’t annoying. Tilt control works well.

The bad news: Upgrades seem to be quite expensive (using in-game gold). As I tend to completely avoid IAPs, particularly for upgrade items in games like this, I suspect a fair amount of grinding may be required in order to buy decent items from the shops.

The shops appear during your journey

Arcadelife verdict: Air Jump plays quite well, looks attractive enough and the tilt control won’t let you down. It’s really all about how badly you want a horizontally scrolling endless jumper/bouncer. The IAPs don’t interest me, but they also aren’t essential for enjoying the game.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 7/10
Controls – 8/10
Content – 7/10
Fun – 7/10
Final rating – 74/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1.1
iTunes link

Air Jump website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.1)
h1

Run Run Die! review (iOS / Universal)

April 23, 2012

“Jump and run, jump jump and run”

10 word description: Tap jumping, terrain tinkering auto-runner. 35 levels and Dinosaurs.

Jumping into the water is the easy bit

10 word review: Quite hard, but fun. One for million-death platformer fans.

Some stars are easy to reach; most are not

You will like this if you enjoy: Hard auto-runner platform games where you die a lot before finally managing a perfect run on any stage. Similar (perhaps not very similar) games would be Spike Dislike, The Impossible Game. Games that aren’t particularly similar at all, but appeal to the same general area of your brain (the masochistic, twitching bit that likes failing  and dying a million times in platform games) would be Bean’s Quest and League of Evil.

The good news: Smooth, fast, decent looking with simple yet pleasantly maddening level design. The music is appropriate and doesn’t feel like it’s going “ding ding ding” as you die and restart approximately once every 3 seconds.

Do you think the red TNT crates might be dangerous?

The bad news: I had to rewrite part of this review because I’m stupid. The level 17 bug, among others, has indeed been fixed; I thought I’d updated the game and I hadn’t.

Arcadelife verdict: Good game; plenty of infuriating yet ultimately immensely satisfying million-death style challenge. The cartoon dinosaurs are very funny, although I always find cartoon dinosaurs (that look like a child’s drawings) to be highly amusing. The game is obviously not going to appeal to everyone, but then what does? Fans of platform gaming masochism will love this.

That wasn't easy, I assure you

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 7.5/10
Audio – 7/10
Controls – 8.5/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 8.5/10
Final rating – 78/100

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

Voltic Games website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
iPad (OS 5.0.1)
h1

Rolling Jump review (iPod/iPhone)

April 22, 2012

“You gotta roll with it, you gotta take your time”

10 word description: Vertical endless jumper. Jump from wheel to wheel. Game Center.

10 word review: Polished, simple, slightly derivative but certainly addictive. Entertaining power-up strategies.

You will like this if you enjoy: Vertical endless jumping games. Captain Ludwig involves similar planet-hopping mechanics, although Rolling Jump has a more focussed feel and, for me, is more fun.

The good news: Graphics and sound, while perfectly acceptable, are secondary to the instantly addictive gameplay. Control method is generally fine.

The bad news: Tiny issue with tapping the character to deploy the power-up – he’s rather small and the tap often registers as a jump instead of initiating the power-up booster. Not a massive problem; you get used to it.

Arcadelife verdict: This is a good addition to the endless jumping crowd; nice looks and great use of collectible mini-suns to charge up the booster plus the capped 10x multiplier – do you use the boost as soon as possible or gamble on maxing out your multiplier first?

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 7.5/10
Audio – 7/10
Controls – 8.5/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 8.5/10
Final rating – 79/100

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

Rolling Jump on Facebook website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.1)
h1

Shark Dash review (iOS / Universal)

April 20, 2012

“Please don’t mess around with me
I’m a shark fatality, in the sea”

10 word description: Bath toy (including some sharks) themed physics puzzler. 96 levels.

10 word review: I’m trying really hard, but I can’t dislike this one.

You will like this if you enjoy: Those casual physics puzzle games where you launch some cute cartoon creature and try to collect a bunch of gold coins, or stars, or whatever, and get a 3-star rating, etc.

The good news: Deep breath; I really wanted to despise this game, or to feel utterly indifferent towards it. However… the graphics are really good, the animations are rather nice, sound isn’t too bad and the game is a lot of fun, quite challenging and there are loads of levels. Even the IAPs aren’t particularly offensive; I unlocked the first elite shark (just to see what it was like) after completing the first zone by playing the game – no real money was involved.

The bad news: The only bad news for me is that I saw this as an opportunity to rip into Gameloft again, but there’s nothing I can really complain about. There’s no Game Center, but that’s not exactly an issue with this game, it’s just the way Gameloft do things and it’s hardly their worst game-related crime in recent memory.

Arcadelife verdict: Ok, it’s a good game, I admit it. Now can we move on, forget this ever happened and look forward to the next bloated, Freemium IAP abusing joke so that we all know that normal Gameloft service has been resumed? This game doesn’t even feel like a Gameloft game, and these days that is a definite plus point.

A screen full of 3-star ratings; these must be the easy levels

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9/10
Audio – 8/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 8/10
Final rating – 85/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.1
iTunes link

Gameloft / Shark Dash website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.1)
iPad (OS 5.1)
h1

Snow Bros review (iOS / Universal)

April 19, 2012

“Like a ball of snow, like a snowball grows”

10 word description: iOS port of Toaplan’s classic (1990) snowball-rolling arcade game.

Eliminate all enemies with a single snowball and you will be showered with cash

10 word review: Great port with less than perfect use of screen area.

You will like this if you enjoy: Snow Bros, or Bubble Bobble if you’ve never heard of Snow Bros.

Cool – they added a level select screen

The good news: The port is pretty much perfect, as far as gameplay, graphics and audio are concerned. Good performance on 1st gen iPad and 4th gen Touch. Individual levels can be selected (as a start point) once they have been reached/unlocked. The gameplay is very good, as anyone who has played Snow Bros in an arcade or on MAME will know.

The stage 1 boss fight

The bad news: The game doesn’t make the best use of the available screen area on either device. Orientation is selected by tapping a “View mode” button and resets to portrait before every new game while you’re playing. Although the virtual d-pad and buttons do actually work very well, I’d like to see other options and less intrusive on-screen controls. There’s no 2-player mode, so your Snow Bro has no bro; sorry about that!

Arcadelife verdict: Everything I used to love about Snow Bros is here in this version, plus a level select that means you don’t have to play from the start every time. In addition, each level has a 3-star rating based on your score, with a special “All Kill” rating if you manage to wipe out all the enemies with one snowball. The screen size of the iOS devices could have been used more effectively, the controls could be improved, the bizarre method of constantly changing orientation at the start of every game could definitely do with being sorted out, and some kind of 2-player mode would be nice.

Gotta kill ’em all

However, in spite of those gripes, this is still a great single-screen action platformer in the same style as Bubble Bobble and it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in a solid, enhanced port of a classic arcade game.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 7/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 83/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.0
iTunes link
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
iPad (OS 5.0.1)
h1

Start The Rockets! HD review (iPad)

April 18, 2012

“Baby you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth”

10 word description: Brain-teaser puzzle game. Aim rockets, light one, ignite everything.

10 word review: Pyrotechnic puzzler looks wonderfully flashy and plays very well too.

You will like this if you enjoy: Puzzle games where you have to position various objects in order to achieve something, usually feeding some random animal or alien, but in this case creating a chain-reaction of fireworks.

The good news: It’s a puzzle game involving fireworks; that’s worth a polite round of applause on its own. The graphics, effects and idle animations of the individual rockets are all excellent. The background sounds are very atmospheric. Puzzle elements are introduced fairly frequently and there are loads of puzzles – 135 levels spread over 3 different worlds. The puzzles themselves  are challenging and entertaining.

The bad news: When you fail a level, all the objects are reset back to their starting positions. This adds a layer of repetition and frustration that the game does not need. Please look at a similar game, such as Feed That Dragon HD, and see how they handle this – they keep everything where you put it unless you manually choose to reset the level. I don’t want to start positioning everything from scratch each time I have to restart the level, it isn’t part of the fun. That’s the only issue I have with this game.

Arcadelife verdict: Apart from the complaint about the objects resetting every time you restart a level, this game is hard to fault and is a fun and challenging puzzler with novel firework visuals. I suppose if I was being hyper-critical (which I am) I’d suggest that the timer is redundant, only serving as a score mechanism and not contributing anything to the challenge or fun of the game. Overall, this is a great puzzle game with a unique theme and it looks very pretty on my iPad.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 8/10
Final rating – 88/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.4
iTunes link

Start The Rockets website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (OS 5.1)
h1

Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition (iPad) – coming in December 2012

April 16, 2012

As a player of the original Baldur’s Gate – and its superior sequel – on PC, back when those games were first released, I’m very interested in the forthcoming enhanced edition of Baldur’s Gate that is due for release on multiple platforms (PC, Mac & iPad) – the iPad release is now rescheduled for December 2012. I don’t intend replaying Baldur’s Gate on the PC, but the iPad version is an intriguing prospect that I’m definitely looking forward to playing and reviewing for Arcadelife.

Update – The game will cost $9.99 on the iPad – I think that’s around £7 based on current app store prices. Apparently the game (on iPad) will also include additional content that can be bought using IAPs (in-app purchases).

All the images in this news item are from the original PC version, unless otherwise specified

The official webpage for the iPad version is here. It has been updated since I first published this post so I have updated the link (the old one led to a fairly uninformative page).

This isn’t the PC version, obviously

I sent an email to Overhaul / Beamdog with a few quick questions; Cameron Tofer from Beamdog was kind enough to reply:

Arcadelife: iPad compatibility – Will BG Enhanced run on all versions of the device, including 1st generation iPads?
Cameron Tofer: Yes.  It will run on all iPads.
Personally, that’s really good news as it means I can hang on to my 1st gen device  for a while longer. 

Arcadelife: Any clues about the new party member – human or … something else?
Cameron Tofer: Sorry, not yet.
Oh well, it was worth asking! 

Since then, I have found out that there are three of them: Neera, a “half-elf wild mage slowly coming to terms with her enormous magical potential.” Rasaad yn Bashir, a “Calishite Monk demonstrating his monastic arts to the people of Nashkel.” Dorn Il-Khan, a half-Orc Blackguard, “whose otherworldly patron grants him terrible powers in the form of his black sword and unholy spells.” They can all be recruited, although probably not at the same time if their alignments match their descriptions.

There’s also a new arena zone called The Black Pits where your party can spend up to six additional hours fighting through 15 levels of the arena.

Arcadelife: Will there be multiple save slots?
Cameron Tofer: There are multiple save slots, we will also support iCloud saves.
Again, that’s great news about the iCloud saves. 

If you have never played the original game, but you fancy getting the enhanced edition when it comes out, here are some facts and opinion about the original version of Baldur’s Gate. If you follow any of the links, please be advised that the information you find may be deemed a SPOILER if you haven’t previously played / completed Baldur’s Gate.

Baldur’s Gate uses Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D) rules, specifically the second edition rule set. Character creation and development follow these rules quite strictly and there is a lot of significance given to the alignment of a character, their charisma and morale, particularly the party leader – your main character.

As you progress through the game you recruit up to 5 additional NPCs to your group. If an NPC group member has a radically different alignment from your main character, or you choose to continually act in a manner with which they disagree, they will complain and may ultimately leave the group and become an enemy.

Minsc is probably the most well known of the party NPC characters

A full list of Baldur’s Gate characters can be found here on Wikipedia.

Baldur’s Gate (PC) has an overall Metacritic score of 91. The sequel, Shadows of Amn has a score of 95.

IGN reviewed Baldur’s Gate (PC) and awarded it 9.4 /10. “BioWare has not only done justice to the AD&D license, they’ve set the standard for what role-playing games should be.

Gamespot reviewed Baldur’s Gate (PC) and awarded it 9.2 / 10. “Not only is Baldur’s Gate easily the best computer adaptation of AD&D ever, it also convincingly returns role-playing games to the forefront of computer gaming.

If you’re not bothered about spoilers and you want to find out more, there are loads of reviews, images, character build guides, gameplay videos and wiki entries all over the place for Baldur’s Gate – it was (and still is) a very popular game.