Keeping an Eye on iOS (w/e Mar 24)

Each week, I’ll endeavour to trawl through a baker’s-dozen worth apps from my ever-growing backlog of iOS games that are, or have been, free. I’ll investigate and describe each game, and then decide what to deserves more playtime, and what warrants deletion.

Infinite Warrior

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In short: A good looking, but ultimately shallow slashing experience.

On face value, this appears to be another entry in the recent trend of iOS games that place style slightly ahead of substance; graphic ahead of gameplay; visuals over variety. Titles like Batman Arkham City Lockdown, Avengers Initiative, and Infinity Blade are games often mentioned in this category: Ultimately they play fine, but are more focused on visual flourishes. This game however, doesn’t even play fine. It is basically a glorified Fruit Ninja, with less player choices. You are given a direction to swipe in for each passing enemy (of which there are only about 5 different types), and if you fail to take them down you die instantly. Sure, you can buy swords and armour, but to what end? This is all about repetition and timing. It looks good thanks to the Unity engine, but it just isn’t very fun.

Verdict: Unless I’m missing something here, this is a definite pass.

I’ll be removing this.

I Like Flies

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In short: A silly little thing, probably made for kids.

I downloaded this one on a whim. Twas a new game that launched for free, so I though why not? Now I realise there are plenty of answers to that question. Firstly the story; a cow develops a taste for insects. The gameplay: Rudimentary at best, with rather dodgy tilt controls. The whole game is really left up to chance, as there is no way to manipulate the flies that you try desperately to reach with your cow tongue.

Verdict: Broken and silly.

I’ll be deleting pronto.

Prince Penny

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In short: A cute as a button runner.

This game started off with some very nice art, moody piano tunes, and a brief story about a dilapidated kingdom. I thought I might be in for something unusual, but then came an injection of bog-standardness. A gyro-controlled runner where you collect coins. That currency in turn buys boosts. Its been done plenty of times before, and plenty of times better. Prince Penny looks cute, but banner ads and unresponsive controls drag it below par. It also lacks the sense of speed that makes the genre’s stalwarts, like Temple Run, so addictive and entertaining.

Verdict: Pass on this.

I’ll be saying goodbye to Penny.

Rat On A Scooter XL

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In short: A side scrolling runner come platformer.

Like all Donut Games games, this has the same visual style and the identical menu layout. Normally I am a fan of their games, but this is one of the worst. It features a combination of gameplay elements seen in later rat games; Rat On A Snowboard and Rat On A Skateboard. But it just doesn’t just have the same feeling of speed and fun as those two titles. The scooter can’t perform tricks like the other game’s vehicles, but absurdly, you can still perform grinds, even on a Vespa-style scooter. There are a fair few modes in the game, but unlike many of the other Donut Games games, there are no set levels to beat, only variations on fairly bland endless levels, focussed on either collecting food or avoiding hazards.

Verdict: Donut games have their charms, but there are far better ones, so grab one of them next time there is a sale.

I’ll be sticking with the plentiful supply of better Donut titles.

Evolush

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In short: A side scrolling runner that evolves as you play.

This runner, is actually six runners in one. It roughly progresses through the evolution of man, from fish thing to lizard thing to monkey thing and so forth. The mechanics also change with each evolution. The lizard can only jump, but the monkey can double jump and sprint. It is a unique method of mixing up the gameplay, and it really sets it apart from the usual runners where upgrades and abilities can be purchased to change the gameplay. The game does feel a little underdone though. The visual style is cartoony, but doesn’t really appeal to me and the game is also missing the achievements or objectives that could really drive it along. It also crashes too often for my liking.

Verdict: A neat idea, not so well executed.

I’ll be playing a little more, just to see what each evolution brings, but ultimately, deletion awaits.

Saving Private Sheep 2

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In short: Another in the crowded slingshot genre. Oh, and ads. Ads everywhere

In my first 30 seconds playing, I faced two advertisements for Jackpot Slots, one being a pop up banner, and the other in a quasi iOS notification. This was followed by a full screen ad for Ninja Toss… From there on in, there were also small banner ads in loading screens, in menus, and in level scorecards. There was also an annoying issue with locked rotation, that had me constantly 180-ing my device in my hands between loading screens and menus. Plus, retina-graphics as an in game download? What is this, 2009? I also don’t even understand the name of this game… There are sheep using slingshots to fire hedgehogs at a wolf, and hopefully also to collect a few coins on the way… The only reference to the military is the fact that the sheep are wearing camouflage helmets. As for the game, when I finally got to it… A fairly basic slingshot game.

Verdict: Avoid. There are far better slingshot games in the App Store. For something very like this, but oodles better, I’d recommend Adult Swim’s Snoticles.

I’ll be burning it with fire.

Monkey Labour

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In short: An old school Game and Watch style game.

Having never played any G&Ws myself, I can’t be sure if this is an exact clone of something, but I don’t think it is. For this kind of game to hold up properly today, I think it needs a few more modes and other sweeteners. However it is totally free after all, so that pretty swell.

Verdict: A nice little amusement for the (non-existent) price of admission

I’ll be removing this, but after I’ve worked at a few more achievements.

League of Evil

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In short: Another retro styled platformer, but a good one.

There isn’t an ounce of fat in this package. It’s just a dinky-die, well designed platformer. You have the ability to jump, double jump, and punch, and your objective is to take out evil scientists, and any soldiers in your way. There are a whopping 169 levels to play through, leaderboards for the speedy, and 17 achievements for the collectors. Despite being ported from the wonderful world of Flash games, the controls hold up fine on the touchscreen, and they feel really responsive.

Verdict: A really winner in the retro platformer category, and great for those who like to speed run.

I’ll be glad to play through this one.

Nightmarium

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In short: A game that oozes style, literally.

Yes, the artwork for this game is pretty impressive. The gameplay however, is a bit sketchy. Players are required to keep the little girl safe and soundly sleeping, by killing off all the nightmarish creatures that populate the screen from the sides inward. This is done by a variety of tapping, slicing and shaking touch-inputs. That’s about the extent of it though. Lots of tappy-swipy action. It just isn’t a great deal of fun, which is a shame since the artwork and the soundtrack are quite swell.

Verdict: Worth a quick look,

I’ll be removing this.

Project: Mayhem

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In short: A low fi, fast paced, 2D platforming experience.

Negative points first: This game is ugly, and and the controls at times, feel floaty and loose. But that can be overlooked, because it is so damn quick. Yep, this one has taken a leaf out of the Meat Boy book. Movement is fast. Restarts are instant. Premature death is an assurance. However, there restrictions are recognised, and players can spend the (easily attained) in game currency to purchase level skips and double-jump abilities to keep things moving, and hopefully also keep frustration to an minimum. Oh, and you can always buy a top hat, of that helps. There are over 100 levels to die in, as your little lab-created-green-blob tries to escape, and thirty-seven achievements and oodles of leaderboards to climb for those on the Game Centre bandwagon. There are also quite a few ‘coming soon’ features, so things will only get better from here!

Verdict: Not as tight as the competition, but a fast, fun platformer nonetheless.

I’ll be keeping this one, playing, and looking forward to new levels.

Catapult King

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In short: If Angry Birds was in Camelot and in 3D.

Unlike good ol’ Saving Private Sheep up there, this game wastes no time getting down to business! There is no menu, as such, (only the level select screen) and the game just plops you in Level 1, which is great. Basically, you need to shoot big rocks from your catapult and destroy some bad knights, as well as the towers of wooden boxes on which they stand. The aim is to achieve the usual 3 star ranking (or rather a gold crown in this case) and you can additionally use power-ups to help better visualise your trajectory and so forth. The graphics are bright and colourful, and you get a chance to pan around the world a bit, so you can really appreciate it all, right down to the individual petals on flowers. There are eighty levels and there is full Game Centre support, so there is also plenty of content to complete the package.

Verdict: Just about a must have game, considering the content, lack of ads and the price; free.

I’ll be playing through.

They Need to Be Fed

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In short: A platformer that feels like a Super Mario Galaxy de-make.

Truly, that is how it feels. You can leap across the invisible gravitational fields produced by the spheres (pictured), and harness those forces, to collect the odd crystal and eventually reach the goal of the level. Said goal is to be eaten by a monster, but I won’t let that dampen what is an enjoyable platforming experience!  The graphics are minimalistis, clean, and crisp, all big pluses for mobile gaming in my opinion. Right now, there are eleven worlds, each with seven levels, and a bonus one. This is a great number, because you can play in small chunks and still be rewarded with a feeling of progress and accomplishment. Thirty-six unlockable achievements round out this great little package, and there are promises of more level packs to come.

Verdict: At $3 for the HD/Universal app, it isn’t cheap by App Store standards, but you get what you pay for… Or get what you wait for, if you’re a freebie/sale hound like yours truly.

I’ll be getting back to it, because, THEY NEED TO BE FED!

On The Wind

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In short: A game where–CRASH.

Yerp. Sorry to be a wowser by including this, but I’m merely recording my honest experiences with these games. This game just hangs on the loading screen. It sounds like a cool game: The player controls the wind like Flower, but in 2D. The semi retro world is ever scrolling, and leaves must be collected by the fingertip. Hopefully I’ll actually get to play it at some point.

Verdict: Have a look on your own device. Maybe you’ll have better luck.

I’ll be deleting it.

_ _ _ _ _

Adios! See you next time!

One comment

  1. Oh god the ads in some of the games are horrendous. ANother good article man!

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