Archive for September, 2012

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Rayman Jungle Run review (iOS / Universal)

September 24, 2012

“I’ll take you to a place where we shall find our roots”

10 word description: Rayman auto-running platform game with one-touch control. Game Center.

10 word review: Slick, stunning looking; puts Rayman on rails to excellent effect.

You will like this if you enjoy: Rayman, auto-runners, speedy wall-jumping, zip-lining, rope-swinging platform games.

The good news: The graphics are excellent, with great performance on my 1st gen iPad and 4th gen Touch. Audio is of a similar high calibre; groovy Rayman tunes and a subtle jumping sound effect that doesn’t become annoying. Level design, while nothing stunningly original, uses plenty of elements from Rayman Origins and delivers a consistently fun and often impressive variety of challenges.

Nasty killer roots. Now the lyric (at the top of the review) makes sense, right?

The bad news: If you go in expecting a proper Rayman platform game (with directional controls) you might be disappointed. As my 4-year old son asked, after playing through a few levels on my iPad, “Where’s the fight button?” Note to concerned parents and assorted do-gooders: He has played the demo of Rayman Origins a couple of times on an XBOX 360 in Toys R Us, he is not a drooling couch potato addicted to video games – that’s just me.

Arcadelife verdict: I’ve got two conflicting views on this game. The first one is that this is a very good mobile interpretation of Rayman Origins, with gameplay and controls simplified to suit short bursts of gaming on touch-screen devices. The opposing view is that this game engine is obviously more than capable of running a fully featured 2D Rayman platform game on iOS, so why didn’t they do that instead? Ultimately, speculating about what could have been done doesn’t take anything away from the game they have produced, but it does make me wonder.

Providing your iOS device can run this game – it does not support iPhone 3G or any previous device – and you’re not going to throw a tantrum because it’s an auto-runner, I suggest that you get it as it’s easily one of the best looking and endearingly entertaining action/runner/platform(ish) iOS games available. As is often the case, there could always be more levels, but the challenge of getting anywhere close to 100% perfect completion should keep most people going for quite some time.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 10/10
Audio – 9.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 92/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.2
iTunes link
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)

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Block Earth review (iOS / Universal)

September 21, 2012

“My world is empty without you”

10 word description: Block building / destroying. Jetpack, rocket launcher, multiple textures.

10 word review: Not much to do, plenty to spend real money on.

You will like this if you enjoy: The risk-free building mode in Minecraft. Lego. Pretty skies. Walking on water.

The good news: It mostly looks quite pretty and the performance seems ok on my test devices (iPad and 4th gen Touch). Building and destroying are both easy to do, as is moving around. If you love virtual building blocks and you don’t own Minecraft (an unlikely combination, granted) you will probably like this.

The bad news: It’s not a game. Beyond texture changes, you can’t really do much. Water isn’t water, it’s a solid block with a static watery texture. There is no way to add lighting, no torches. The rocket launcher often doesn’t destroy, it adds a small number of blocks until you change the selected texture. Way too much of the content is available at additional cost. The controls and texture selection icons can’t be hidden for screenshots. Draw distance isn’t that great.

Arcadelife verdict: It’s a start, but that’s really all it feels like. Without any objectives or challenges, you can see everything Block Earth has to offer in the first few seconds. The game engine is decent enough, as are the graphics, although the draw distance could be improved. The controls need a bit of tweaking and special blocks, like water, need to behave differently from normal blocks. Walking on water and hearing the clunk-clunk of your footsteps is just wrong. If this is all Block Earth is ever going to be then that’s a shame as there’s a good game waiting here, even if it is another Minecraft clone. Why not do something a bit different, stay away from the mining, crafting and fear of night that define Minecraft’s gameplay and maybe come up with some objectives based on constructing specific sized buildings to attract alien lifeforms… or anything else that you can think of. Keep the world-building familiar but get innovative with the gameplay. But then what do I know? I’m just some old gamer with a review site.

The water looks nice, but it isn’t really water

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 4/10
Controls – 7/10
Content – 2/10
Fun – 2/10
Final rating – 40/100

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

Block Earth of Facebook website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1 & iOS 6)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)
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Jump to Medieval – Time Geeks review (iOS / Universal)

September 20, 2012

“Might as well jump”

10 word description: Strategy / reaction based medieval vs aliens defence game. Various scenarios.

10 word review: Nice looking but very simple gameplay. No upgrades or levelling.

You will like this if you enjoy: Castle/village defence games with short, simple scenarios.

The good news: It looks pretty. The controls are ok and it’s an easy game to pick up and play. No IAPs.

The bad news: Scenarios are either very easy or suddenly rather tough (until you figure out the prescribed way to beat them). There are no upgrades or any concept of levelling up characters or defences. Scenarios have no score or rating; once beaten, there’s no incentive or reason to replay a scenario. The erratic leaps in narrative and gameplay mechanics from one scenario to the next undermine any real sense of progression. One scenario appears to fail for no apparent reason, every time. Overall the game seems very short.

Arcadelife verdict: Well, it feels like a demo of a much larger, deeper game. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with Jump to Medieval, just a nagging sensation that some things are missing or not quite right. The archers are introduced in scenario one and reappear in other scenarios, but they never develop or improve although, in one later level, the archer is no longer a “drag to aim & shoot” guy, he fires at a fixed position when you tap him. There’s no explanation for this and it adds to the overall impression that the game is a group of disassociated single screen events rather than a progression through a related sequence of narrative driven missions.

As soon as you think that you are starting to master a strategy, as basic as it might be, the game switches you into a different scene that plays very differently from what has gone before. I’m not criticising variety, because we all love variety, but here it seems to exist at the expense of consistency and immersion in the game. And, a final nail in the coffin of fun, the scenario where you have to protect the 4 wizards in the forest seems to fail every time for no reason, at least no reason that I can see. I’ve failed it with more than one wizard remaining and over 30 seconds left on the timer. If anyone can explain that to me, it would be much appreciated!

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 7/10
Controls – 8/10
Content – 4/10
Fun – 2/10
Final rating – 49/100

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

Jump to Medieval 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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LAD review (iPod/iPhone)

September 18, 2012

“Trapped in the body of a man defeated
I am the shame of mistakes repeated”

10 word description: Monochrome style platform puzzler. Jump, push boxes, reach the door.

10 word review: Limbo imitator with flawed controls and jumping. Glitches don’t help.

There is a pit-of-death immediately in front of the player character. I know, I can’t see it either

You will like this if you enjoy: The challenge of poor controls, erratic collision detection and death pits that are invisible.

The good news: The background graphics, although obviously “inspired by” Limbo, are quite atmospheric.

This is painfully accurate

The bad news: Controls feel unresponsive and awkward. Jumping doesn’t work properly, or it deliberately works in a way that ruins the game – I can’t decide. Either way, this game should have been tested a lot more before it was released. The game is very dark, but not in a good way; player character is hard to see because it’s so small and mostly the same colour as the background. It also moves either painfully slowly or in strange surges of glitchy speed. Object interaction, kind of a top priority in a platform puzzler, is unpredictable and frustrating. Transitions between screens (menus, level select, etc.) are plagued by The Curse of Game Salad, meaning they are very slow.

An example of the object physics in all their glory

Arcadelife verdict: I wasn’t sure whether to review this or not, as I can’t find anything good to say about it and that kind of blatantly negative review generally doesn’t serve any useful purpose. However, if you were tempted by the prospect of playing a Limbo style game on your iOS device, consider this a warning. Wait until the game is significantly updated, then come back and have another look at this review. If an update manages to resolve the majority of the issues, specifically the jumping and general glitchy interaction with objects, then I will amend this review (and the game’s rating) to reflect that.

The last picture (above) needs some explanation. What happened here, as far as I could tell, was that I managed to glitch into the next screen – where that message about falling makes some sort of sense – but my character remained on this screen, stuck in the ground just to the left of that large dark rectangle. I know it’s hard to see, that’s the nature of this game.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 7.5/10
Audio – 6/10
Controls – 2/10
Content – 5/10
Fun – 0/10
Final rating – 15/100

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

Black Chair Games website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1) Note – this version isn’t universal but I tried it on my iPad anyway
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Gibbets 2 review (iOS / Universal)

September 15, 2012

“I’m hanging on the limb of a tree…”

10 word description: Bow and arrows arcade puzzler / sequel. 50 levels. Game Center.

Shoot the ropes, save the dangling Coldplay fans

10 word review: Improves on the original; addictive with some innovative puzzle elements.

You will like this if you enjoy: The original Gibbets game. Other aim, drag & shoot games; Fragger, etc.

If you don’t shoot the cow, you will be the only person in the universe, ever, who hasn’t

The good news: Very good control method; you can draw the bow back by dragging your finger anywhere on the screen, not just the place where the bow is located. Intro/tutorial levels are helpful without being too simple. Difficulty can be altered at any time without having to restart, or redo earlier levels. Graphics and sounds, while not jaw-dropping, are good and suit the game.

Hang on, this is horrific!

The bad news: Each level must be completed in order to progress; if you get stuck on a level, that’s it until you eventually manage to beat it. Not necessarily “bad news”, but worth mentioning as it may be a negative factor for some players.

Arcadelife verdict: Although it’s a port of a mouse-controlled Flash game (note – the levels are not exactly the same) considerable effort has been applied to making the controls as touch-screen friendly as possible. Unlike the majority of this type of 2D shooting/lobbing games, you don’t have to draw back the bow at the bow’s location. Kind of a relative-touch bow-drawing control system and it works really well, eliminating (almost 100% of the time) issues where your finger leaves the edge of the screen by accident while aiming.

As for the gameplay, it’s nothing new – it is a sequel after all! – but it’s addictive and quite a lot of fun, at least until you hit a level that leaves you stumped for a while, or until you go and look at the solution on YouTube… just be aware that the levels don’t appear to be the same, or maybe just not in the same order, as the ones in the original Flash game.

There’s a free/lite version with quite a few levels if you fancy trying it before you buy.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 7.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 8/10
Final rating – 82/100

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

Herocraft 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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Teeny Green review (iPod/iPhone)

September 14, 2012

“I’ve got a pocket full of pretty green”

10 word description: Turn-based 2D platform/maze logic puzzler. 100 levels. Game Center.

10 word review: Solid concept, tough without frustration. Polished, nice looking, good controls.

You will like this if you enjoy: Logic puzzles. Turn-based platform games … personally, I think the world needs more of them. Toki Tori; ok, it’s not that similar, but it seems to involve the same parts of my brain… the small, feeble parts.

Instead of a timer, you’re rated on the number of jumps (turns) that you take to complete each level

The good news: While not 100% original, it’s a nice change from the usual iOS puzzle games. The basic turn-based puzzle concept is very good; different elements are introduced on a regular basis. Graphics are good, enemies and objects nicely drawn. Plenty of levels.

The bad news: The name (Teeny Green) sounds like the smallest miniature golf game ever.

Arcadelife verdict: This one is pretty good all round, providing you’re a fan of logical puzzles and don’t mind a bit of trial and error when things start to get tough which, for me, was quite early in the first set of levels. I’m not even sure why I’m reviewing this game, as it isn’t particularly new. I’ll just blame it on the fact that I’ve had no internet access for the last 3 days.  Hey, at least you got to read about a decent game that you’ve probably never heard of. You’re welcome.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8.5/10
Audio – 8/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 8.5/10
Final rating – 86/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.2
iTunes link

Phenom Studios website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1)
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Sorry, but it wasn’t my fault.

September 14, 2012

Apologies to anyone who was expecting a review, news item or anything at all to appear on Arcadelife recently. My Internet Service Provider has been spectacularly failing to provide any kind of a service for almost three whole days which, as we all know, is a lifetime on the internet.

So, Virgin Media, no thanks at all for that. They can expect a communication from me very shortly stating exactly why I’ll be getting a refund. The stupefyingly annoying voice of the woman reciting the same uninformative phone message for three whole days should be worth a full year’s refund on its own.

Customer service? What the hell is that? At least I’m bothering to explain where this website has been since Tuesday and, last time I checked, nobody is paying me to do any of this.

I’ll get a review posted as soon as I can.

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Infinite Warrior review (iOS / Universal)

September 11, 2012

“I’m a warrior, I take no prisoner”

10 word description: Endless fighter, swipe-based combat. Collect gold, buy upgrades & consumables.

10 word review: Simple controls plus rather impressive visuals. IAPs are not essential.

You will like this if you enjoy: Simple controls. Fighting games. Fighting games with simple controls… bet you didn’t see that coming.

The good news: Very nice graphics; the soundtrack is almost as good. Incredibly simple gameplay and controls. The expensive items (that would potentially need IAP gold/gems for very impatient people) are not at all necessary for full enjoyment of the game; the different map areas unlock via random crow loot (more about that later). Gold is very easy to acquire without spending any real money. Cloak/hood colour can be changed repeatedly at no cost.

The bad news: The simplicity of the controls tends to detach the player from the on-screen action, which has very limited association with player input. All the upgrade items (swords, shields, helmets) are consumables, apart from the body armour which is a permanent upgrade. By its nature, this is a repetitive game; avoid it if a lack of gameplay variation doesn’t appeal to you.

Arcadelife verdict: It’s quite a bizarre mix of very impressive graphics and stunningly simple gameplay, far more than Infinity Blade, with which it is obviously going to be compared. You’re limited to swiping up, down, left or right following appropriate directional prompts that precede each unfriendly encounter. And … that’s it, apart from tapping the occasional purse or chest of gold in the background or any crows that happen to fly overhead. The crows are particularly important, as they can randomly drop very valuable items such as a single use resurrection token or, most important, an unlock for a new map area. I managed to get two new areas unlocked (via crows) within the first 30 minutes of playing the game. Crows are also the single biggest reason that my character died, if I don’t include trying to take screenshots of the game! It’s easy to miss (or mess up) a directional swipe while being distracted by a crow.

Overall, a very easy game to both describe and pick up. Whether or not you like it will depend pretty much entirely on how simple you like your eye-candy games to be. At the moment I’m enjoying it but I’m not sure how long that will last, probably until I earn enough gold to buy the best suit of armour, which doesn’t look like it’s going to be that difficult to achieve.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 8.5/10
Content – 7/10
Fun – 7/10
Final rating – 80/100

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

Empty Flask Games 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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Dragon Island Blue review (iOS / Universal)

September 8, 2012

“Oh ain’t you glad that we live on an island
You can choose your own way of being killed”

10 word description: Build monster army; collect, evolve, combine, fight. Over 200 monsters.

10 word review: Large, compelling mix of collecting, levelling and turn-based fighting.

You will like this if you enjoy: Pokémon, trading card games, turn-based combat, party-based RPGs, monster collecting/breeding…

The good news: Entertaining and very addictive. Loads of different monsters. The fighting is easy to get to grips with and progress is straightforward at the start, with no frustrating dead-end defeats or the feeling that any of your choices have been monumentally stupid. The whole collect/combine/evolve concept is implemented very well. Although there are IAPs (for game currency) there is no “pay or wait” and I’ve not yet come across anything that made it feel like I needed to buy anything with real money. Some of the graphics are very good – monster images and the map are nicely presented.

The bad news: The cave/dungeon exploration graphics are rudimentary at best. The tutorials are not bad but could do with a bit more explanation, although I had no problem figuring out what I was supposed to be doing; there’s no obvious penalty for experimentation. The ‘wheel of chance’ method of gaining some quest rewards feels a bit cheap; hey, I completed the quest so just give me the damn reward, ok?

Arcadelife verdict: Although I never really got into Pokémon I could always appreciate the attraction of collecting different fighting creatures and pitting them against others, I was just put off by how mindlessly happy Pikachu always looked. Dragon Island Blue, although using a colour suffix in the name as a blatant nod to the naming convention of Pokémon games, employs far more identifiable and serious looking creatures. I didn’t expect to become instantly hooked by this game but I was, and I’m currently getting a lot of enjoyment from it.

One of the key features of exploring and fighting is the fact that you can only heal monsters by returning to a town. This initially sounds a bit annoying but it adds an extra level of strategy when it comes to travelling further afield or deciding whether to delve deeper into a dungeon after a tough couple of fights. Do you gamble on an easy victory to claim some treasure or leg it back to town to heal, knowing that the enemy monsters will respawn if you choose the latter?

Overall it’s not a perfect game but it has loads to do, a non-frustrating approach to combat and progression, and most of the time it has a very good graphical style. I’m not a Pokémon fan, so I can honestly say it’s not necessary to be one in order to enjoy Dragon Island Blue. If you think it sounds like something you might fancy, then I’d say take a chance as it’s highly likely you’ll have a lot of fun with it.

Arcadelife rating

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

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

Dragon Island Blue 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 review (iOS / Universal)

September 6, 2012

“But the darkness has a hunger
It offers you blood for wild blood”

10 word description: Gameloft’s Unreal-engine powered hack ‘n’ slash action game. 10 levels.

10 word review: Big swords, pretty graphics, multiplayer. What’s to dislike? Let’s see…

You will like this if you enjoy: [Insert long list of all the games that have been heavily borrowed from/plagiarised/imitated here]. Sorry, but I can’t help it; a much hyped Gameloft game turns up and it’s impossible to resist taking a few cheap shots at it. Stay tuned to hear how much I actually like this one!

The good news: Graphics are undeniably very nice, as are animations (generally) and visual effects. Sound is great, with some rousing music and solid, reverberating heavy weapon impacts. Incredibly, combat is more complex and less of a button-masher than expected, also far better than the combat in Gameloft’s recent The Dark Knight Rises game. Weapon and armour customisation is quite vast, with specialisation and point allocation entirely up to the player. Level design is generally good. Enemy health bars can be optionally enabled – yay! Finally, and most importantly, I can honestly say that this game is a lot of fun.

The bad news: Originality, what’s that? Oh come one, it’s flippin’ Gameloft. Anyone expecting this to be original hasn’t been paying attention for the last few years. Gameloft don’t do ‘original’. If that’s bad news for you, you probably won’t care about the rest of this review or this game, purely on principle. Apart from that, there are some erratic camera angles due primarily to the auto-targeting, most noticeably in tight corridors and/or big fights. Personally, I found the aiming of ranged weapons, particularly the mounted crossbows, hindered by the non-customisable control system. There are the usual stupidly priced IAPs (for game gold) but I’ve almost given up caring; in this case they aren’t needed to unlock content so it’s all down to how much you want to cheat and waste your real money. And, of course, there’s no Game Center support. The large (1.5gb) install size may be too much for some people!

Arcadelife verdict: Oh dear, I’m having so much fun with this game that it almost makes me feel guilty. “That’s a Gameloft game, you can’t be enjoying that!” etc. But I am, and quite a lot. The story is completely daft, which is nice; it involves a warped ‘demonic invasion’ vision of Arthurian times that sounds like the opening episodes of the fourth series of Merlin (BBC) as described by a hyperactive 6-year old Call of Duty addict. Combat, which makes up about 99% of the game, is a lot of fun despite offering nothing that I haven’t seen in dozens of other games. In the middle of all the God-of-Dark-Infinity-Dungeon-Sparta carnage, the occasional treasure chest requires a block-sliding puzzle to be completed in order to open it. After the first, where I just pointed at the screen with a big “What the…?” question mark over my head, I greeted each subsequent one with a wry smile. Good old Gameloft, bless ’em, they can’t even do an original chest-unlocking mini-game. It makes you wonder why they bothered at all, but it’s probably best not to start down that particular line of enquiry!

So, the single player game is a lot of fun, slightly marred by some wacky camera angles, occasionally less than brilliant controls and possibly the least original gameplay I’ve seen this year. Multiplayer is the big surprise – a fun, up-close festival of skull smacking and frag counts; I’ve tried it and it works very well, surprising myself in my first match by managing a triple-kill. If you’re not put off by the unoriginal solo gameplay or the 1.5gb install (or the fact that this is from Gameloft) and you fancy a bit of hack ‘n’ slash action – with very pretty graphics – you can’t really go wrong with this.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9.5/10
Audio – 9/10
Controls – 7/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 87/100

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

Gameloft website link

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