Saturday, September 17, 2011

Haraka - 0.99 (Studio Joho)

Haraka is a pong type game from Studio Joho. It is an interesting and modern take on the old classic, giving it a sci-fi style, super quick movement, a leveling up system, great graphics, and plenty of one and two player content.

In the game there's 9 levels, each represented by a color, and progressing in difficulty. You control a character in a space age suit on a blocked in court, holding a big stick. The controls are simple, directional arrows on each side of the screen. You can move left and right, but also climb up the sides of the court, up to the center of the screen. To score a point, all you need to do is hit the ball, which is done automatically once you're next to the ball, and have it hit the walls of the court on your opponents side. 10 points, and you win. Obviously, its ideal to try and hit all 3 edges of the other players section before the ball returns to you. If you were last to touch the ball, and the ball comes flying back to your side of the court, hitting the wall, it does not count against you. Only if the opposing player was the last one to touch the ball. Your player is also upgraded as you progress throughout the game, gaining speed, strength, and agility, which is a great addition to the pong type genre, giving it more replay value just for trying to get your character’s stats as high as they can go.
Power-ups have been included, and they all fit very well within the game. Strength increase, speed increase, agility increase, add 2 to your score, a deflector, and a 2x point multiplier. There’s also power-downs, including slowdown ball, decrease skills, remove deflector, and score - (minus) 2. Each of these power-pods can be used by touching and then dragging them onto the side of the player you want to use the ability. So you can decrease the opponents skills, and increase yours, making for some quick easy points. The power-ups are generally abundant, but you need to be careful and watch what you do with them. They can also be hit by the ball, which makes them active, so if you don’t move a power-down out of the way and over to your opponent, it could end up effecting you, which is a nice game mechanic, and adds some action to the already pretty hectic gameplay.
The two player content is a played the same way, but on the same screen. That's right, no multiplayer online, but done on the same device. This can be kind of hard to get use to, as are most 2 player iPod games are that are played on the same device, but once you get use to it, it provides you with quite a bit of entertainment. Me and my wife have been playing this quite a bit over the last week, bringing back a lot of memories from when we first got together, and would play old arcade games at the bar up the street. So even though it might not be ideal, playing a game with two players on one little iPod, I can see it working pretty well on the iPad, which is kind of upsetting, because the game is not universal, and not retina, so I also imagine it looks kind of bad on larger screens. Though I could be totally wrong. Games with this much quick action, with gamers focusing on one little moving point on the screen, probably play well regardless of the stretched or slightly blurry graphics.
Right now, there isn’t any online support, no GameCenter or OpenFeint, but the developers have said that it’s coming soon. I doubt the inclusion of GC will include wi-fi multiplayer, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As with most GameCenter auto-matched multiplayer games, there would be no indication of what level the other player is, and soon after the update, a lot of players would be turned off of the wi-fi multiplayer because the players with their maxed stats would be constantly whooping up on the new-comers, and there wouldn’t be anything we could do about it. The main inclusion with GameCenter will be the achievements. This will add a decent amount of replay value, with having goals set, it should take a while to collect all of them. There is also no scoring system at the moment, and I’m not sure one will be added, so that means no online leader boards, unless it’s put up with how many total wins each player has got.
Studio Joho has done a very nice job here creating a modern sci-fi pong game. Being $0.99, it’s a great game, and offers quite a bit of content, even with only one playable mode, especially considering it’s essentially pong on steroids. I was pleasantly surprised while playing, and am finding it more and more enjoyable as I progress in the game. It’s actually turning into a pretty addictive game, and one that I’d recommend any fan of old-school, or quick moving arcade games gets, even with the non-retina non-universal graphics. It’s a game that will grow on you fairly quickly, and one that you can enjoy quite a bit with a friend.

Haraka gets a score of 8 out of 10.



Awesome work guys! This game rocks!

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