Thursday, May 31, 2012
Thursday, May 31, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
Puzzler games have really been expanding and growing when it comes to new and unique ideas spawned by past games. It’s no secret that Angry Birds (or Boom Blox, depending on how you want to look at it) has, itself, pushed the physics puzzler genre into many different directions, and has had its fair share of clones. But it’s always nice seeing a developer take the flinging mechanic and do something new and interesting with it. Nano Titans, developers of Foodies, an arcade puzzler, has just released their newest title, another arcade puzzler, Webbies. This time around, instead of bouncing your main character around to collect food, you’ll be flinging bundles of food at your characters.
Seems that a grumpy old retired wizard doesn’t like the little woodland creatures hanging out around the forest all the time, and has come up with a formula that makes his arachnoid friends webs ultra strong. Because of this, the food that the creatures always munch on is getting stuck in the webs. It’s up to you to fling it into their mouths so that they don’t starve.
At first, the game seems really easy, and almost boring. But after you get past the intro levels, the game really seems to pick up, and gets some interesting mechanics thrown into the mix. Having more than one critter on the screen will give you different types of food, which are all mixed together in the webs, and you need to get certain types of food into specific animals mouths. This means you need to group the food together, shooting acorns into acorns, moving one piece of food out of the way of another so that you can get it to your critter, or in line with another piece of the same food and then to your critter. This gets ever more difficult as you progress, and moving platforms, sticky grabbers, logs, rotating cannons, moving critters and more all comes into play.
Now, the scoring mechanics are really what push the game forward, and make it more difficult. Getting three stars in each of the levels will require you to combine the same type of food multiple times, getting a combo bonus score. Matching two pieces of the same type of food will give you 5 extra points, while connecting 4 pieces of the same type of food, without connecting a different type of food while in the process, will give you 25 bonus points. If you have two bunches of food, say one bunch of 2 and one bunch of 3, then the smaller bunch is multiplied by 5, and you’re given that many points, in this case, it would be 10 extra bonus points. Once the platforms come into play, bouncing food of them will also give you bonus points. There’s also bonuses for feeding a critter until it’s full, giving you 30 points, and feeding a critter til it’s full in one shot, which gives you 50 points. All of these different types of scoring bonuses will need to be used in order to get 3 stars in each of the levels throughout the game, and to compete on the GameCenter scoreboard.
It’s great how a scoring system like this can really change how you play a game. If there were no bonuses for bouncing food off of platforms, bundling them together, or for other actions throughout the game, Webbies would be played very differently, and you have that option if you’re not into high-scores, which also makes this a great game for the younger iOS gamer audience as well. This is always a great thing to hear for those of us with children who are into gaming.
The graphics, animations, sounds and effects, all come together to create a very polished looking and sounding package. With Webbies being Universal, $0.99, and containing over 100 levels, it’s a great buy, especially if you’re into arcade puzzlers, or games with great scoring mechanics and score chasing. There are no extra IAPs in the game, so it’s a flat out purchase. Nano Titans has already submitted their first update to Apple which adds an undo button. I’m a little worried that this might make the game a bit too easy, but I guess we’ll see when it hit’s the AppStore later on in the week. As it is, right now, Webbies is very easy to recommend to fans of the genre, even if you’ve gotten a little sick of the whole flinging puzzler type of gameplay like I have over the last year or so. Webbies might not bypass all of the typical used mechanics within the genre, but the way it’s presented, along with the scoring system adding to the way you’ll wind up playing the game, it really stands out inside of a genre that’s been flooded with titles over the last couple years.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
Nob Studio's recent release, Dragon Evolution, a game in which you control the evolution of a dragon over 9 years by choosing which upgrades to give him, and attack tribesmen who are out to steal your dragon eggs for a good meal, has just dropped in price; from $1.99, down to $0.99. This sale comes along with the release of Dragon Evolution Free. This free version is limited to 4 years instead of 9, has no GameCenter integration, only contains 10 missions, and has in-game ads, but like all free/lite versions of games, you'll be able to check out a big majority of the gameplay, and decide if you'd like to throw down the dollar to pick up the full version.
If you've yet to hear about Dragon Evolution, you can head on over and check out our review to get a better idea of what the game is like. We gave it a score of 4 out of 5 stars, and with it's current price drop, it's really a game that deserves to get checked out. You can also watch the trailer below to get a glimpse at the gameplay in action.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
I've been following Dotomchi's 'Fortune' series since Sorcerer Of Fortune and Rebirth Of Fortune came out in late 2010. Not only are the games very well made, but developer Seok Kyu Chang has been extremely responsive and supportive when it comes to players issues, suggestions, and just all around feedback. Needless to say, this has made the 'Fortune' series even better.
If you've yet to purchase these great strategy games, now would be the best time to pick them up. Each Fortune game has gone free for a limited time. That's right, Rebirth of Fortune, Sorcerer of Fortune and Defense of Fortune (including the HD [iPad] version) are all free. Want some even better news? Each of these games have great tutorials and are easy to learn, even if you're new to the genres. Turn-Based Strategy, set up like Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, Real Time Base Defense and Turn-Based Extermination set up like a board game. All 3 of these titles have great RPG elements, and once you get into them, each have quite a bit of depth, giving veterans and newcomers alike hours upon hours of fantastic gameplay.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Monday, May 28, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
My personal top contender for iOS Game Of The Year (so far) is definitely, without a doubt, Lightstorm3D's cave exploration adventure title, Gene Effect. Since it's release, it's undergone quite the change; being released as an iPhone only game, lots of gamers were upset with the $5 price tag being that the game was from a basically unheard of company, and wasn't Universal. About a week and a half ago, this all changed. Lightstorm3D added Universal support, along with Retina Display support for the new iPad, and loads of improvements, changes, additions and optimizations.
Unfortunately, Gene Effect's sales haven't been so great, and it's always terrible seeing a developer you completely and totally respect, and a game you've come to absolutely LOVE not get the attention and sales that they/it deserve. Hopefully this price drop from $4.99 down to $2.99 will help stir up the gaming community, and get more gamers to check this mind-blowing game out.
If you've yet to hear about Gene Effect, or how amazingly fantastic it is, be sure to check out our review, as well as other reviews from around the net (getting a 5 out of 5 from iPhoneGamerUK, a 4 out of 4 at SlideToPlay [including their Must Have award], and others). It's definitely a title you don't want to miss out on, and encompasses everything iOS gamers have been begging for since the Free To Play model got so popular. No IAPs instead of a low price and the game pushing you towards additional purchases after your original purchase, a fantastically supportive and responsive indie development team, amazing graphics, an awesome story, and basically, a console game for the iOS, at an incredibly reasonable price, even by the AppStore's standards. So be sure and check it out while it's on sale, and tell everyone you know about this hidden gem of a game.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Sunday, May 27, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
Robot Riot, a 2D side-scrolling sci-fi platformer from Glowing Eye Games and Retromite that was released in September of 2011, has just received a much needed update. With Version 1.2 the game has received Retina support for the new iPad, new levels, new power-ups, new bosses, enhanced visuals, upgraded sound quality, bluetooth arcade support, as well as GameCenter support. Although there's only one leaderboard, and no achievements, hopefully the GameCenter support will be expanded in the near future. But with the inclusion of retina support, and the new content, Robot Riot has come back into play as one of the better platformers available for the iOS.
If you haven't heard of Robot Riot yet, it revolves around a repoing robot who's out to take back ships letting the captains know that IT AIN'T NO JOKE IF YOU DON'T PAY THAT NOTE! (BLAAAA haha... sorry) Anyway, the captains aren't too happy about this, as you can imagine, and you'll have to fight your way through various enemies and go through loads of backtracking, unlocking of doors, and avoiding loads of hazards throughout each of the ships sections. At the end of each ship, you'll face off against the captain in an epic boss battle before moving on to the next one.
Originally, Robot Riot only had 4 ships, and about 10 levels, and with the game being as good as it was, players were begging for more. Even though the developers listened, the game now only has 5 ships and about 15 levels, but this is a giant step in the right direction. Hopefully Robot Riot will gain more attention, and that will push the developers to continue adding content, making it a fully rounded out game. For $0.99, it's definitely worth checking out, especially considering the gameplay, graphics, level design, controls and physics are all top-notch. If you're still on the fence, you can head on over to Kongregate and play the game in their Web-Based Unity Player. If you're a fan of platformers, this is definitely a game that will make a great addition to that 'Platformer' folder on your iDevice. So be sure and check it out!
Sunday, May 27, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
Crescent Moon Games have definitely established themselves as one of the top developing and publishing teams in the AppStore. Aralon, Rimelands, Gears, Deadlock, Pocket RPG, and loads more have all gained a serious gamer following. Their constant support is also something that needs to be mentioned. Whenever there’s an issue, they’re on top of it, fixing it as soon as possible. Over the last year or so, they’ve turned their sights more towards publishing and working with other development teams, which has expanded their reach throughout various genres. RPGs, Platformers, Ball Rollers, Multiplayer, and now, with the latest release of Slingshot Racing, developed by Snowbolt Interactive, they’ve ventured into the Racing Genre.
Over the last couple years, iOS developers have really started trying out new things with racing games. Draw Race, Jet Car Stunts, QuBIT, jAggy Race, FishMoto and others have utilized the iDevice, and tried to reach out beyond the typical racing formula that most racers stick with. Slingshot Racing is definitely a game that can be added to the list of games striving to push the boundaries of the genre.
The controls are as simple as they can be; One Touch. Touching the screen makes your car fling out a grappling hook which attaches to rotating poles. Doing this lets you slingshot your car around corners. There is no gas or break, and your car drives on it’s own. The only thing you need to worry about is when to attach to these poles, and when to let go. Staying attached too long will result in you mashing your car into the side rails, while letting go too soon will cause the car to take the outer most part of the track, both causing the car to slow down dramatically. But once you get the timing down, you’ll be flying through the races, flinging your car around corners, and earning the 3 possible bolts (stars) for each stage.
The campaign contains 64 races across 8 tracks, split up into different sections, each with an interesting name (like Winding Roads, Slingshot Mastery, Twist And Shoot, Wrap And Roll, and more) and containing 4 races each. Each of the races contain different objectives and hazards, also racing clockwise and counter clockwise during the day and night, which always keeps things fresh. There are 4 main different types of races. Racing against other racers, trying to place in 1st. Racing against other racers while a car eating machine trails behind you in an elimination type race. Solo racing while trying to collect bolts which are left on the track as quickly as you can, and solo time trials which push you to your limits trying to get the best time you can.
There’s also a multiplayer mode which lets you play with up to 3 other people on the same device. Of course this is more comfortable while playing on the iPad, but playing with 1 other person on the iPhone/iPod Touch is also easy enough, and doesn’t hit the frustrating factor at all. Within this mode, you’re able to choose which track to race on, how many tracks to race on, the order of the tracks, the number of laps, forward or reverse, and day or night. Each of the other players will have their own corner of the device to control their car, and when you really get into a racing battle, this multiplayer mode can end up being loads of fun.
Since each of the races are pretty short, usually just 8 laps, or anywhere from 20 to 60 seconds, the frustration you might usually come across in other racers when screwing up with one little mistake towards the end of a race isn’t really found here. You don’t need to be perfect in order to get a 3 bolt score, except for on the time trial stages. For these, it’s pretty difficult to grab a perfect rating.
But if you are a fan of perfecting your laps, you’ll be very glad to hear that Slingshot Racing is supported by GameCenter, and has 18 separate leaderboards. That’s right, 18! One for your Total Bolts Earned, and boards for various stages throughout the game, ie; Shoot The Breeze Race 3, Sliding By Race 2, Slingshot Mastery Race 4, Melting Away Race 2, and so on. There are also 32 Achievements for you achievement hunters out there, all of which adds a TON to the already insanely high replay value.
Right now, Slingshot Racing is priced at $0.99. Like most Crescent Moon games, it’s on sale for launch, and will go up to $2.99 after a limited time. With the game being Universal, and with the current price, Slingshot Racing is a MUST BUY! The steam punk influenced graphics, and great music and effects combined with the simple controls, challenging gameplay and basically endless replay value make Slingshot Racing the best casual racer I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing, and even one of the best racers on the iDevice. Hopefully online Multiplayer through GameCenter or through isolated servers will be added in the future. Slingshot Racing is just begging for online MP. Something else that would be great to see is some unlockable vehicles or cosmetic customization. Each of the cars is equal in terms of speed, acceleration, and all other aspects, but being able to choose the color, shape, and other cosmetic attributes would be a nice little addition as well. As it stands now, Slingshot Racing is still a game that everyone with an iDevice should own. Be sure and check it out, and get your race on!
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012 Syntheticvoid 3 comments
It’s not too often a simplistic game completely blows my expectations of it out of the water. But Bee Leader, the new game from Flightless Limited, has done just that. I never would have thought that a game that revolved around controlling a bee and collecting nectar would have hit almost every single addictive cell in my video game obsessed brain, but with Bee Leader’s gameplay and insanely good all around package have changed my views of video games that, on the outside, look boring, and like they’re made almost entirely for prepubescent children.
Throughout the game, you will basically be doing one simple task. Exploring each of the levels, looking for nectar, smaller bees to join you, and clocks which add more time to your day. You have from sun up to sun down to collect as much nectar as you can and take it back to your hive. There are, of course, hazards and enemies which you’ll need to avoid as you fly throughout the stages. Clouds with lightning and rain, trains that spew up steam, windmills and rocks which can trap you, birds, snakes, skull throwing eagles, and the dreaded hornets are only some of the hazards and enemies you’ll need to navigate around while looking for nectar. If you’re hit by a projectile, or by a hazard, you’ll wind up loosing quite a bit of your already collected nectar, and god-forbid you run into a hornet. They’ll wind up chasing you down and corning you, taking all of your nectar if you let them.
Bee Leader stands out in almost every single aspect. The graphics are cartoony, but very polished, the music and effects are outstanding, control-wise, you’re able to choose between a freemoving joystick which appears whenever you touch the screen, a set joystick on either the left or right hand sides of your device, touch anywhere and drag, tilting controls, and an option to use another device as the controller with the Joypad app. The physics and inertia of every moveable object is great, animations are smooth and level designs are top notch. But what I really love about the game is the scoring mechanics. Every smaller bee which you collect joins you, and adds to the amount of nectar you receive from the nectar balls as well as flowers, so the more smaller bees you have following behind you, the more nectar you’ll be able to haul away. The flowers have a ‘sucking streak’ which adds to the amount of nectar you collect so long as you don’t leave the flower. Because flowers also stick to you for a short amount of time, you can extend this sucking streak by jumping from flower to flower without stopping the collection of nectar, which allows for some nice bonus points. There’s also a honey bonus when you drop off nectar at your hive depending on how much nectar you’re dropping off. All of this, combined with the subtraction of nectar based on what you come into contact with throughout the stage makes the scoring system in Bee Leader fantastic.
Adding to the great scoring is GameCenter support. For each of the 12 levels, there’s a separate GC Leaderboard, as well as a total score board for when you complete the game. There are also 10 achievements, but these don’t really add much replay value, as they’re all centered around the ranks you get in the game by filling up your hives with honey. However, there are plenty of stats which help round it all out by being able to post these stats on social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and through e-mail.
Bee Leader is priced at $0.99, and the developers have stated that more levels are coming in future updates, which is great, because after playing and replaying levels trying to get the best scores you can, you’re only going to want more. The game is Universal for those of you who have iPads, or both and iPhone/iPod and iPad, which is always great to hear.
So, final verdict? I can’t believe a game that revolves around making a bee fly around a level to collect nectar before the sun goes down is this fun. Incredibly fun. Right now I’m still stuck in the first two worlds (6 levels) trying to best my score and move up the GameCenter leaderboards, playing and re-playing levels over and over again. The only bad thing I can say is that the game might be a tad too short. With only 12 levels, if you aren’t interested in besting your score for the leader boards, chances are you’ll complete the game fairly quickly. For a dollar, it’s a fantastic buy, and will definitely wind up being one of my favorite casual high-scoring arcade games of the year.
Saturday, May 26, 2012 Syntheticvoid 2 comments
Strategy Games are really hitting their stride in the AppStore, but one of my favorites has always been Tactical Warrior by James Pawliuk. Earlier this week, the two man team consisting of Mr. Pawliuk and Brandon Alter released their 3rd iOS title, LostStar Tactics, a turn-based strategy RPG with some great gameplay, nice graphics, and an interesting story to go along with it. But does it warrant purchasing when so much of the game is identical to Tactical Warrior?
When compared to Tactical Warrior, the whole set-up of the game and gameplay is almost identical. Moving costs stamina, unless you move to an orange tile and each attack or special ability you use costs stamina, while resting offers your character recovery of stamina. Each character, as well as enemy, has stats which you’ll need to learn so that you can know what attacks will work well, and what attacks will result in almost no damage at all. Even the party screen is an almost identical clone of Tactical Warrior’s.
The character designs and environments, however, are fairly different. The characters have quite a bit of details, with some wielding some pretty badass looking weapons while the environments lean more towards lightly forested and murky areas, though the environmental objects still play a roll in where you’ll move your characters and how you attack with them.
While exploring the outer reaches of space, you wind up finding something extraordinary. The planet Moridia, which legends say is home to mythical knowledge and treasures hidden in a mysterious ‘nebalua‘. An energy pulse takes your ship out while exploring, resulting in a crash landing on the unexplored planet. Now it’s up to you and your team to survive the attacking life forms, and find a way back home.
Starting off, you’re able to choose between 3 different groups of fighters; Mechanic, who’s main focus is summoning - Warrior, who focuses on powerful attacks - and Councillor who focuses on flexibility. You’re also able to choose between Easy, Medium and Hard Difficulties.
The game is set up kind of like a card based strategy game. Each character is able to equip various cards which allow them to perform different attacks as well as beef up their defensive skills. Once you earn enough experience through battles, you’re able to strengthen these cards up. Some battles will also give you cards as rewards, and sometimes you’ll be offered another character to add to your team. Each time you’re offered a reward, you’re given 3 choices to choose from. In the event of a new member being offered, you’re able to not add a member, and give some XP to your team. All of this makes the card equipping, leveling up, and even item equipping aspects of the game fairly deep.
Aside from the cards, story and character design+environments, LostStar Tactics could easily be a sequel to Tactical Warrior. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Especially when I think about all the hours upon hours I lost because of Tactical Warrior. There’s also the price. $1.99. Hard to beat that, considering Tactical Warrior is $2.99, and worth every penny. But even with the fantastic gameplay, there are a couple of down-sides to the game. The game is not Universal, so those of you out there who hate playing games in 2X mode on your iPad will be pretty disappointed. There’s also no GameCenter, meaning no achievements to shoot for. Also, if there’s a player or enemy at the bottom of the screen underneath the text that says “touch a warrior to view his stats.” you’ll need to move the playing field in order to select them. It’s not a big deal, but something that kept on bugging me while I was playing. Actually, none of these ‘issues’ are really a big deal. LostStar Tactics is one of those games that’s good enough it’s very easy to overlook having to play in 2X Mode, and the lack of achievements or any online features.
In the end, LostStar Tactics is a fairly deep turn-based strategy game with great RPG elements, also with a price that really can’t be beat. Hopefully it gets the attention it deserves so that more work will go into it, and hopefully we can get an HD or Universal version of the game. An online multiplayer mode would be amazing to see as well. But for $1.99, it’s a great buy if you’re a fan of turn-based strategy games. Even if you’re new to the genre, LostStar Tactics would be a great place to start. It’s easy to understand tutorial and simple gameplay that gets deeper the more you explore it is great for newcomers to the genre.