Archive for August, 2012

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Puppy Sanctuary – Puppies are the new kittens

August 14, 2012

Puppy Sanctuary (iOS / Universal) – released on 14th August – is on offer at half price for a short time.

This is another great game from Clockwork Pixels, creators of Kitten Sanctuary and Darkside. Puppy Sanctuary is following the same “try before you buy” pricing model as Darkside – get the demo version for free and unlock the full version at any time via a single one-time in app purchase.

Players of Kitten Sanctuary will spot that the gameplay in Puppy Sanctuary is very similar – rescue puppies and acquire prizes and in-game currency by playing the very polished and entertaining match-3 levels. Puppies that you save are kept in a separate sanctuary area where you can interact with them and buy them toys and decorations for their home. There are also additional sanctuary themes to unlock. None of this involves additional IAPs – it’s all done with in-game currency gained by playing the game.

To mark the release of Puppy Sanctuary, Kitten Sanctuary is also on offer at half price.

Puppy Sanctuary is a lot of fun, which didn’t surprise me. Read the Arcadelife review of Kitten Sanctuary if you want to find out more about this type of game.

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The Lorax HD review (iPad)

August 14, 2012

“Feels like I’m stuck in a movie”

10 word description: Lorax movie tie-in marshmallow rescuing physics puzzler. Game Center.

10 word review: Short but sweet (Argh, I really hate myself for that).

You will like this if you enjoy: Tumbledrop, and all the other iOS games where you have to remove various objects while saving or stacking other objects.

The good news: Visually quite appealing. Addictive enough for me to play through all 40 levels before writing the review. Music (I assume from the film) is not bad, sound effects are decent too.

The bad news: It’s quite short, but then it’s a free game to advertise a film. Also a bit too easy, but then it’s probably more aimed at young children than hardcore extreme gamers.

Arcadelife verdict: Considering it’s a free game tied to an animated film, this is really quite good. The physics, while not brain-meltingly incredible, are functionally satisfactory and the toppling, sliding, bouncy and sticky objects all behave the way you would expect them to. If you’re even remotely capable of playing this kind of physics puzzler, you will get through all the levels quite quickly, easily under half an hour.

If I wanted to be unnecessarily cynical, I would assume that Miniclip had a half-finished physics puzzle game lying around and they just stuck a Lorax background on it, added a couple of characters to the interface and dumped it onto the app store. A platform adventure game would have been perfect with the characters and environments from the film (based on what I’ve seen in the trailer) but that probably would have involved way too much time and effort.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 7.5/10
Controls – 8/10
Content – 6/10
Fun – 7.5/10
Final rating – 75/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.2
iTunes link

Miniclip / Lorax website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)
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Hell Rider review (iPod/iPhone)

August 13, 2012

“Hellrider … roars on through the night”

10 word description: 2D motorcycle race challenges. Hell theme. 40 levels. Game Center.

10 word review: Simple game, decent visuals; controls need a bit of tweaking.

You will like this if you enjoy: Motocross / trials style side-view bike games.

The good news: Quick, short challenge levels. Graphics, although they don’t change through the game, are fairly attractive. Quite fun to play, which is important.

Oh hell

The bad news: The tilt-only control method (for leaning) isn’t calibrated particularly well. It could do with being more sensitive so that you don’t have to tilt like crazy all the time. Either that, or add an optional on-screen slider or some buttons to do the leaning. The sounds are horrible – tinny, rasping noises with clicks that should just not be there. Other things could be added, such as an endless mode, although that might be more effort that it’s worth if the levels are hand-built and there’s no current facility to generate them from a random selection of track pieces.

I never thought I’d be wishing for spike pits in a game

Arcadelife verdict: Hell Rider lacks a bit of finish and the single control option hasn’t been tweaked enough, or maybe not tested by enough different people. For me, tilt would be fine in this game if it was calibrated a bit better or there was a sensitivity option. Adding optional slider/buttons to control the leaning would be an excellent move. The tracks feel a bit nasty at times, with big angular blocks not really adding anything more than an opportunity to fall off. Maybe add some longer jumps over fiery pits, where you need to reach a certain speed in order to make the jump – that wouldn’t feel as cheap or frustrating as tripping over wonky bits of landscape.

Satan on a moped. Feel free to use that name for YOUR next game

Overall, it’s not a hellish game but it could do with a bit more attention to detail, particularly the controls.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 2/10
Controls – 4.5/10
Content – 7/10
Fun – 5/10
Final rating – 53/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1)
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Draw Breaker review (iPhone & iPad [HD])

August 9, 2012

“You know you make me break out”

10 word description: Block breaker game. Draw lines (platforms) to deflect the ball(s).

10 word review: Completely revitalises the block breaking genre. Great visuals and gameplay.

Creating a barrier to give myself a few seconds to relax

You will like this if you enjoy: Block breaking games, but thought you had seen all they had to offer. Intense, high-score chasing games.

Different blocks have different abilities. You will quickly recognise each one and know what it can do

The good news: A virtually flawless touch-screen game. Very attractive graphics, animations and effects. Control method is spot-on. Objectives and score multiplier add immensely to the gameplay and high-score chasing.

The monster glossary is handy and quite amusing

The bad news: Two separate games (and GC leaderboards) for iPhone & iPad versions; shame there’s not a single universal app. The game’s graphics may make it appear to be too childish for some gamers, even though the game is challenging, often intense and not at all childish.

Big combos, unsurprisingly, are useful for getting high scores

Arcadelife verdict: The concept sounds a bit weak – Block breaking with line drawing – come on, it does! However, the game is astonishingly good fun and obviously the product of a great deal of care, attention to detail and, yes, love. Once again, building a game around a well conceived touch screen control system has paid off, with the rather charming graphics and amusing sound effects adding a couple of extra layers of enjoyment.

Overall, this is a very good game; great fun, challenging, with plenty of content and a high level of polish. Recommended, although I’m pretty sure the lack of a single, universal version will annoy some players.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 10/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 91/100

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

Draw Breaker website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)
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Wild Blood (Gameloft / Unreal engine) – Trailers

August 9, 2012

Wild Blood is the first Gameloft game to use the Unreal engine, coming soon to iOS & Android.

The most surprising and encouraging news is that, according to a Gameloft comment on this YouTube video, the game will be a premium title, meaning no (or maybe very little) IAP nonsense to spoil the game. I have to admit, it looks pretty good…

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NinjaBoy promo codes giveaway

August 9, 2012

I’ve just been given some promo codes for NinjaBoy by 2 Ton Studios. The game recently received a great review here on Arcadelife.

If you would like the chance of getting hold of a promo code, send an email to Arcadelife@planetshooter.com (by clicking that mail link). I don’t have many, so get in early to avoid disappointment!

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Alien Breed review (iOS / Universal)

August 8, 2012

“I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care
I don’t care, I don’t care, care if it’s old”

10 word description: Sci-fi themed top-down shooter. Classic & Enhanced modes. Game Center.

Get to the chopper …. ah, wrong film

10 word review: Classic Amiga game becomes iOS dual-stick shooter. Pleasantly nostalgic.

Here’s one I made earlier … a side by side comparison of classic (left) and enhanced (right) visuals

You will like this if you enjoy: Dual stick shooters (or not quite a DS shooter in Classic mode). Retro games enhanced for iOS devices.

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

The good news: Enhanced mode is quite pretty, although I’d like the classic control method available in this mode too. There are plenty of missions spread over 3 separate campaigns. Lots of weapons in the shop – it doesn’t take long to collect enough gold for a couple of new ones. Level map (an upgrade in the shop) is very helpful. Gauntlet style action is still fun and does work well on the touch screen. IAPs are not needed in order to access all content and play the whole game.

“So, if they fire their weapons in there, won’t they rupture the cooling system?” – Some missions involve destroying things and then running to escape the subsequent Game Over scenario

The bad news: Initial ‘black screen’ load is very slow and made me wonder if the game was loading or had crashed. What is up with the computer/warning voice? “Player worn requires keys” … “Player worn requires first aid” … who is this “Player WORN”? And she sounds so bored. I wouldn’t complain if they changed this voice, that’s for sure. (Yes, I know she’s saying Player One but it doesn’t sound like it). Gameplay isn’t quite as intense as I remember; the constantly respawning aliens aren’t particularly scary or dangerous and the main causes of player death are mostly related to walking into environmental hazards that instantly kill you and then kill you again when you respawn in exactly the same place.

“I like to keep this handy… for close encounters.”

Arcadelife verdict: While Alien Breed for iOS hasn’t completely blown my mind, this port of a fairly old game has been done very well and the enhancements and additions are generally for the best. The IAPs are purely there for anyone who wants to unnecessarily throw extra money at the game; there’s no content locked away behind a real-money wall and the new weapons and upgrades in the shop are nice to have, but not essential for winning, and can easily be bought with game currency – I was able to afford two new guns and the level map upgrade after less than an hour.

“We got tactical smart missiles, phase-plasma pulse rifles, RPGs … We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks…”

It’s worth at least getting a flamethrower for the cool retro flaming effect and the related achievement. The Dalton Arc Flame (SE) is also rather cool as it flings a whole load of reflecting boomerang shots all over the place, killing most enemies with a single hit.

“I want you to lay down a suppressing fire with the incinerators…”

By evolving into a dual-stick shooter – because that’s what Enhanced Mode is – Alien Breed is joining a packed and competitive iOS genre. The link with Aliens is probably strong enough to pull in some players who never played the original Alien Breed games and may otherwise have overlooked this version, and I don’t think anyone is going to be disappointed with the amount of content. If you don’t include the female warning voice, the sound effects are very good; whether you prefer the sounds in Classic or Enhanced mode will be entirely down to your own choice.

Here’s a tip – keep the sticks “fixed” or they will end up somewhere that you don’t want them to be

Personally, I feel that the game lacks a bit of excitement and tension; the aliens are blundering bullet-fodder and mission challenges generally involve “find the exit” or “find the exit before a timer runs out”. However, what’s on offer is still a decent, playable shooter – just take into account that the gameplay, number of enemies and enemy AI haven’t been enhanced, which is a bit of a shame.

Levels are large and complex, but feel fairly generic while you’re running around. The map (shop item) is definitely worth getting

Overall, it’s still a solid game and it works well on touch screen devices. If you approach it as a Gauntlet style dual-stick shooter with some imitation Aliens, you should know what to expect. If you go in with your rose-tinted memories of how Alien Breed was the pinnacle of Amiga gaming perfection, you might come away slightly disappointed.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 9/10
Controls – 8.5/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 7.5/10
Final rating – 83/100

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

Team 17 / Alien Breed website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)

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NinjaBoy review (iOS / Universal)

August 7, 2012

“You’re simply the best, better than all the rest”

10 word description: Puzzle platformer. Avoid traps, collect stars, solve puzzles. 80 levels.

10 word review: Destroys the majority of iPhone games. Addictive, imaginative ninja fun.

Red tripwires = death … until you get an outfit that disables them

You will like this if you enjoy: Challenging, imaginative platform games. Being surprised to find that it is actually possible to have tilt control in a platform game and that it works really well!

These green guys are only dangerous if they’re looking in your direction

The good news: Possibly the best implementation of tilt control in a platform game that I have ever seen. I don’t like tilt control in platform games, but this works so well it’s hard to imagine playing it any other way. Very imaginative and challenging puzzle elements and level design. A lot of useful upgrades in the upgrade shop and no IAPs at all! A whole lot of fun – seriously, LOTS of fun. Nice graphics and sounds – almost forgot to mention that! It loads very quickly. And … there are 3 separate save slots.

You can drop DOWN through GREEN traps and jump UP through BLUE traps. Doing anything else = death

The bad news: A few minor issues, but nothing to put anyone off getting this game: Tilting on iPad is, as always, not quite as much fun as on the smaller devices due to the size of the iPad. No Game Center – I hardly ever care, but this game would work really well with GC achievements and leaderboards. There are a couple of “please rate” and “share” message pop-ups but, once you respond to them (even if you don’t actually rate or share), they go away and don’t come back.

You only get one chance at each end-of-level coin challenge – win or lose, it’s up to you

Arcadelife verdict: I missed a couple of days posting reviews on here, mostly because I’ve been playing this game so much. I’ve now beaten the final boss so I think I’m in a fairly good position to be able to offer a full and honest review of NinjaBoy! It’s bloody brilliant! I went in thinking stuff like, “Oh great, a platform game with tilt controls – I bet I hate it” and “Another Doodle Jump clone … yawn”. It’s so nice to be so utterly, appallingly wrong about a game.

They don’t call this the Unicycle of Doom, but I thought it sounded cool

From the gentle tutorial, through the platform environment of the upgrade shop, to the very last set of levels, NinjaBoy is a constant source of fun, challenge and memorable moments. Saving up for a new outfit (with some great perks) adds to the entertainment. Once you have your new gear, some of the earlier levels can completely change for you as your new perks disable specific traps or give you new abilities. The best gear in the shop requires stars and Grand Master achievements that are earned by beating levels in the best way, but the best gear is not needed to reach the end of the game.

My white suit is impervious to red tripwires … of course, there aren’t any in this level

NinjaBoy should be in Apple’s New & Noteworthy and it should be being bought and played by everyone who likes a bit of challenge and a lot of fun in their iPhone games. If, like me, you think you won’t get on with tilt control in a platform game, just buy NinjaBoy and be very pleasantly surprised.

I killed ’em all. It was fun. If I wanted to, I could use the green guy’s big stomach as a trampoline

Overall – contender for platform game of the year for me. I don’t need to say any more, do I?

Find a level where you can do this, then repeat it to quickly earn lots of gold

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9.5/10
Audio – 9.5/10
Controls – 9.5/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 10/10
Final rating – 95/100

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

2 Ton Studios website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)

  

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Offroad Legends review (iOS / Universal)

August 3, 2012

“Monster Truck, Monster Truck, run into me and you’re outta luck”

10 word description: 2.5D offroad challenges. Multiple vehicles, 56 tracks, physics, Game Center.

10 word review: Great fun, with realism judiciously sacrificed in favour of entertainment!

You will like this if you enjoy: Trials style driving/riding games. 2D side-view racing/stunt games. Pretty graphics. Car crashes and explosions.

The good news: Excellent graphics. Good performance on my test devices – 4th gen iPod Touch & 1st gen iPad. Suitably rocking soundtrack and convincing (i.e. not tinny) sound effects. Tilting the vehicles (as if you were leaning forward or backward on a motorbike) works well and adds a lot of fun to the game, despite not exactly being very realistic! There’s a nice variety of challenges, including transport missions that aren’t timed and insane target jumps over huge pools of lava. Again, hardly realistic but a heck of a lot of fun. The controls are spot on.

This screenshot is from the Warmup (free) version. That’s why there’s a “buy full version” button top right. Just in case you were wondering

The bad news: Although I didn’t find the game brutally difficult, it’s worth noting that progress requires the completion of each mission in order to unlock the next one. There’s what I would call a “sympathy IAP” one-off payment to unlock everything, although if you are finding it impossible to unlock all the tracks and vehicles by playing the game then you’re hardly going to want to pay to unlock more tracks that you won’t be able to beat.

Arcadelife verdict: I really like this game! It’s great that the graphics look so good and there’s a diverse variety of vehicles to muck about with, but what is truly impressive is that the developers chose to include all the crazy stuff like the target jumps, rocket-powered nitro pick-ups and the unavoidable yet hilarious crashes. It’s always amusing when you lose two wheels but don’t get prompted for an automatic restart, your vehicle crawling slowly along until the first uphill slope where it just comes to a grinding halt.

There’s even the charming but quite unnecessary inclusion of a pretty young woman in partially unzipped racing overalls offering tutorial style advice and the occasional congratulatory comment when you win a medal.

Overall, this is a fun and good-looking game, easily recommended. If you think it might be a bit too unrealistic for you, or too difficult, or whatever, the free/demo version – Offroad Legends Warmup –  has plenty of challenges and several different vehicles; try that and you’ll definitely know whether you’re going to want the full version.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9.5/10
Audio – 9/10
Controls – 9.5/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 92/100

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

DogByte Games / Offroad Legends website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)

 

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Happy Street review (iOS / Universal)

August 2, 2012

“Happy talk, keep talkin’ happy talk
Talk about things you’d like to do”

10 word description: “Discover a lively world where everybody is happy”. Game Center.

That’s not a happy street, that’s a dodgy looking animal in a field

10 word review: ‘Happy Street’? It’s more like ‘IAP-y Street’. Looks pretty, though.

Sometimes, I wish I could walk around with a bloody great question mark over my head

You will like this if you enjoy: Snoopy’s Street Fair, all the other cute looking IAP-or-wait-ages games (yes, I know they’re popular). Happy Street also has vague similarities with proper, non-IAP games such as Animal Crossing, but only vague ones.

The good news: Very pretty graphics. Initial progress is fairly quick without IAPS, as expected. They’ve stolen, I mean paid homage to, the bit in Pocket God where you tap the bird as it flies overhead to make it “poop” on people below – ha ha, how we laughed. Again.

If your bird misses with its poop, people can still slip over in the big piles of bird shit. And there was I, thinking video games are no longer fun

The bad news: Once you start thinking you might be enjoying the game, progress starts to slow right down unless you’re happy (ha ha, happy!) throwing real money at it. Apart from that, which should ruin it for anyone who isn’t completely stupid, it crashes a lot. Tapping to select characters and items is frequently inaccurate – tip: don’t plant the apple tree next to the bus-stop. Gameplay, and I use the word very loosely, involves tapping an icon then either waiting to tap it again or paying real money to tap it immediately. This is not a ‘game’ as it presents no challenge and requires virtually no skill beyond the ability to tap icons and wait.

Go on, spend your money to make some cartoon characters in a video game happy, you know it makes sense

Arcadelife verdict: This would be a reasonably acceptable way to pass the time if it wasn’t bogged down with IAPs and if it included a bit of actual gameplay instead of just tapping icons above shops and waiting. As it is, if you get this and allow small children to play it (not a good idea, although I can’t see who else would be interested) be prepared for a lot of whining.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9/10
Audio – 7/10
Controls – 6/10
Content – 5/10
Fun – 2/10
Final rating – 58/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.3
iTunes link

Godzilab Games website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)