Sunday, May 26, 2013

Best Park In The Universe [Heavy Boat Games + Cartoon Network] - $2.99

One of our favorite beat-em-ups/brawlers here at The App Shack has got to be Grumpyface Studio’s Mutant Fridge Mayhem. Published by Cartoon Network, it contained the gameplay that previous beat-em-ups promised, but couldn’t deliver. This wasn’t too much of a surprise, as Grumpface’s previous releases (Bring Me Sandwiches!, Wispin and Super Mole Escape) are all top notch titles on the platform. But what Mutant Fridge Mayhem did for us was open our eyes to Adult Swim’s fledging gaming brother and since it’s release, we’ve been keeping a close eye on Cartoon Network’s releases. Earlier this week another brawler came out of the Cartoon Network studio and this time it’s developed by Heavy Boat Games (developers of quite a few Cartoon Network games; Ben 10 Hack, Pickle Farmer, Copa Toon Champions, Toxic Targets and many more, most of which can be played on Cartoon Network’s website - they're also the developers of Jumping Finn Turbo, available in the AppStore) and is set in the world of the popular Regular Show titled Best Park In The Universe. 

Mr. Maellard and Benson are called away to a Park Management Conference, leaving Mordecai and Rigby in charge of the park. Benson promises that if the park is clean when they return, everyone will get some days off. On the other hand, if they screw up, they’ll get fired. Deciding to impress Benson, Mordecai and Rigby call together the whole gang to upgrade the park. While they’re starting work, a strange man comes up and says that he has what it takes to turn the park into the best park in the Universe. Deciding to trust him, Mordecai and Rigby make the deal. Once they shake the stranger’s hand, a huge portal appears in the sky and ends up swallowing the entire park. Now it’s up to the two mischievous characters to save their friends, the park, and still show Benson and Mr. Maellard that they know what they’re doing. You’ll face off against aliens, monsters and strange park workers while you tag team between Mordecai and Rigby making your way through 15 stages spread across 3 crazy worlds. 

Similar to the recent release of another brawler, Combo Crew, Best Park In The Universe uses a series of swipe gestures instead of virtual controls. To move your characters, all you do is tap on the screen where you want to move to while attacks are based on swiping gestures that can be done anywhere on the screen. Swiping left has you attack left, while swiping right attacks right. To change characters, all you need to do is tap the character icons in the top left corner of the screen. Each character also has a special attack which can be used once your special meter is filled up, and is triggered by tapping two fingers on the screen at once. 

As you make your way through the game, you’ll gain experience by defeating enemies and picking up items that are scattered throughout the stages. Each time you level up, you’ll be given a point which you can use to upgrade your characters. The upgrades are a great addition and done in a branching tree format. Unlocking these upgrades will either increase your characters hit points, the amount of damage you can take, the amount of damage you dish out and add more attacks, allowing you to swipe up and down in the middle of a combo to pull off special moves. By the time you upgrade your characters completely, you’ll have quite a few different swipe combos at your disposal adding some depth and complexity to the gameplay. 

The first couple of stages are not very big, but as you progress, the levels do start to open up, with multiple paths to explore, and even though there is only one ‘right’ path to each stage’s exit point, it does help add to the variety within each stage. Also adding to the variety are the world’s backdrops. In the first world, you’ll be fighting your way through the park while the second world has you battling it out beneath the park and the third world is a station in space. Graphically, the game looks almost identical to the cartoon, and the animations are incredibly smooth and quick, complimenting the responsive controls. 

Although GameCenter is supported, there’s no scoring system, which means that there’s no leaderboards. However, there are 15 achievements to help to drive the game forward. However, unlike most brawlers the lack of leaderboards and a scoring system does not take anything away from the game. While it could help add to the replay value, that’s not the driving force behind the gameplay, which is actually kind of a refreshing change of pace. You’re not required to beat every single enemy in a level in order to progress, and you don’t have to visit every stages branched areas to complete them. It does add a more casual feeling to the game while the gameplay still provides a nice challenge for those who are willing to try and beat down every enemy and visit every area in a level. But I doubt many of us would complain if leaderboards and a scoring system were added in an update.

Priced at $2.99, it is a bit ‘high’ compared to other iOS titles, but the amount of polish and entertainment value presented in the game definitely justifies the extra buck or two. Not to mention more characters, another world with 5 more levels, endless levels and multiple modes are planned, we’re incredibly excited to see how this game grows with future updates. If you’re a fan of beat-em-ups/brawlers, don’t let the Cartoon Network publication make you overlook Best Park In The Universe. Alongside Mutant Fridge Mayhem and Combo Crew, it’s very quickly become one of our personal favorites on the platform, and we really can not recommend it more.


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