Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sporos [AppXplore] - $0.99

Last year, Bulkypix published quite a few really really good games. Many of which, I still have on both  my iPad and my iPhone. One of these titles was AppXplore’s Lightopus (if you don’t have it yet, you should definitely check it out). Since then, AppXplore has been had at work creating their most recent release, Sporos, a puzzler with a crazy amount of content, and this time, has decided to publish it on their own.

Now, puzzlers on the iOS are kind of hit a miss. There’s more than a few out there that are just way too while others can be frustratingly hard, and the amount of content can be minimal to overwhelming. Basically, there’s very few that really just hit the nail on the head in terms of difficulty and content. Sporos, even though there’s a whopping 500 levels, is one of the later. Levels can be solved fairly quickly in the beginning, but once you get into it, do take some thought, as well as experimentation, in order to solve. The added 3 star system helps to push gamers, but because you can take all the time you need solving a stage and then restart it and 3 star it in about 3 seconds does kind of take away from the drive to get it right the first time through. Having a special ‘first timers’ medal or something for those of us who are lucky enough to be able to 3 star stages on our first time through would have been a fantastic addition, but the lack of it kind of makes it feel like every other 3 star system puzzle game out there in that regard (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just something that quite a few gamers would like to see built upon every now and again). 

The goal of the game is to fill up a pattern of empty cells by using seeds known as sporos. These sporos are able to branch out and fill up cells based on the patterns that are imprinted on them. For instance, having a seed that has two horizontal lines found on it will fill up empty cells in a straight line to the left and right of wherever you place the seed. In each stage, you’re given a few seeds and will need to fill every empty cell with the bits that branch out of them. The quicker you do this, as well as how many times you move a seed, will result in your final star rating for the level. But as already stated, you can take all the time you need figuring out where to place the seeds, and then restart the stage and complete it earning you 3 stars in about 3 seconds. 

That’s not to say that it’s not a difficult game by any means. With the breaks in the pattern and seed branches able to jump across empty spaces, actually figuring out how to intertwine the seeds and their branches will take some thought, and is not something that can be figured out right off the bat just by glancing at a pattern and available seeds. There will be times when picking up a seed and moving it around the pattern, seeing what empty cells light up and would get blocked off before deciding what seeds to place where and when (as a seed can not be placed on top of another seeds branch) will become something that most players will wind up doing at the start of almost every stage. 

The stages are broken up into two different modes; Essential Labs and Experimental Labs. Essential Labs mode is like your typical puzzler, where levels start off easy, and grow increasingly difficult as you progress through the game. Experimental Labs can be a bit more tricky. In the Experimental levels, you’ll find cells with arrows in them. These cells act as extenders for the seeds branches. Once a branch hits the cell with an arrow, it will carry on in the direction that the arrow is pointing. What makes this more tricky is that the extentions caused by these special arrow cells are not highlighted when deciding where to place your seeds, so they do take a bit more thought (and experimentation) to figure out. 

Graphically, Sporos looks, and feels, a lot like AppXplore’s previous title, Lightopus. The neon colors and unit models look like they could have been pulled straight from Lightopus. This isn’t really a bad thing, especially if you enjoyed the look and feel of their previous title, and it also fits within the puzzle genre very well. Animations aren’t really too important in a game like this, but they’re very fitting, and compliment the gameplay. The background music is light and also fits the look and helps add to the feeling of the game. 

Sporos is Universal, has widescreen support for the iPhone/iPod 5, and includes GameCenter support with 19 achievements. There are no leaderboards and no stats to explore like total time played, total moves, ect, but that doesn’t really take much away from the game. iCloud support would have been a great plus, especially since Sporos is a Universal app. There is an IAP included, but this is for hints just in case you get stuck. You are given 3 hints to start with and a pack of 30 hints will cost you $0.99, but is definitely not required to complete the game. With Sporos priced at $0.99, it’s a great addition to the puzzle genre, even though some little extra touches here and there would have made it stand out more, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a puzzler fan. AppXplore has also said that more levels are set to come in future updates, so there should be plenty of content now, and in the future. There is also a free version that you can try out before deciding if you want to purchase the full, which is always a plus. 


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