Monthly Archive: October 2011

Arcade Jumper – 1.99 (Black Hive Media)

I’ve said before that the platformer genre is one of my very top favorites, so when I heard of Black Hive Media’s Arcade Jumper, and saw a couple beta version screen shots, I was instantly intrigued. A “retro-inspired, endless, randomized side-scroller”? If done right, this could be one crazy great game. Considering the dev team is a husband and wife duo with a combined 10 years of experience, and numerous iOS releases under their belt, it was hard not to get excited. So after about 4 months of waiting for the game, it was finally released on September 26th.

In the game, you’ll start off playing as Eddy, and be able to unlock 3 additional characters with tickets that you’ll earn in-game. Now, the game is randomized, but only to an extent. You’ll go through Zones made up on 3 levels, and each Zone has it’s own theme. Zone 1 is Noob Hill Zone, and is a nice introduction. There are no real hazards here, a couple moving platforms, it’s really an intro zone. Zone 2 is called The Tilts, and here all of the platforms move like seesaws, either automatically, or with your character’s weight, and the rest of the game follows this type of set-up. But within each of the Zones, you never know what type of level you’ll encounter, though there are 3 general types, a Space Invaders theme, a Mario mixed with Sonic type theme, and a City-scape, kind of like Double Dragon type theme. It is also only endless in the sense that you can never replay the same game twice, but there are only 10 zones.
You’ll start off running through the level, jumping from platform to platform, either jumping on or shooting enemies, and head-butting blocks, a-la Mario, until you get all the way to the right side of the level. Here, you’ll need to collect the token floating in the air, which opens up the warp machine, which is back at the beginning of the level, so you’ll make your way back to the beginning, going left. The enemies re-spawn, so you can’t just do a speed run back to the beginning, but once you know where they all are, it takes about half the time to reach the warp machine, which, go figure, is an arcade machine. As you progress through the game, each zone requires that you collect more tokens, so sometimes you’ll go all the way to the right of a level, collect the token, and then come back to the middle, and collect a token there, and then go back to the right, collecting another token, before you head back to the warping arcade machine. There is a pretty good variety of enemies, each zone introducing new ones, as well as mixing in enemies you’ve already encountered. In each level, you’re aloud to take 3 hits, but loose those, or fall off of a platform, and it’s game over, and you’ll need to start from scratch. You can, however, earn a continue every 25,000 points.
There are also 3 mini-games, a Plinko like game where you’ll drop balls and have them bounce off of pegs, trying to get them into the highest point slot at the bottom, a Skee-ball type game, and yes, a Wack-A-Mole game. All of these will help you earn tokens which you can use to buy the 3 unlockable characters, along with other items. In the shop, you can buy a different controller set-up, a permanent space ship that will rotate around your character, and help you take care of enemies, and a pinball flipper that will bounce you back up onto a platform if you fall off. You are able to purchase 2500 tickets for $0.99 via IAP, but you can, of course, take your time and earn the tickets in-game, so it’s not necessary.
I did run across some bugs and weird issues while I was playing, for instance, if you’re running, and run against a platform that came down to squish you, while you are waiting for it to rise up again, the screen will keep going right, like your character was still in the middle of the screen, leaving you all the way on the left side of the screen, and then disappearing, until the game over screen pops up. Also, when a platform is seesawing, the coins, tokens, fruits and enemies that are on that platform are not stationary, and are left to fall off of these moving platforms. There were some instances where I would shoot at an enemy, and my shot would go right through it, or I would accidentally run into an enemy, and he would crawl up and around my character without harming him. Lastly, there are some weird collision detection issues with the platforms, enemies, and especially the boxes you’ll need to head-butt. The boxes do not let you jump through them while you’re right under them, but if you go at them from an angle, you will be able to jump right through them. These issues, all but the collision detection and objects on seesawing platforms, are rare, and I only encountered once or twice. But they are still present, though nothing that can’t be fixed with a quick update, and I’m not even sure the free moving objects on seesaws is an issue, might just be something I consider a little weird.
Still, Arcade Jumper is a nice randomized plat former that does present quite the challenge, and does have decent controls, physics, graphics, and gameplay. For $1.99, and the game being Universal and supported by iCade, if you’re a plat former fan, as well as an old-school arcade buff, you should enjoy what Black Hive Media has produced here. There’s also GameCenter leader boards for highest score, furthest zone reached, and all of the mini-games. There are also 20 achievements, but an update is needed in order for them to work, right now none of them are unlocking. If you are bugged by issues, and are looking for a highly polished and top notch platformer, you might want to wait and come back to Arcade Jumper after it’s had an update or two.
Arcade Jumper gets a score of 6 out of 10.
Version Reviewed; V1.0
Reviewed on; 4th GEN iPod Touch – iOS 4.3.3

The Adventures Of Timmy: Run Kitty Run – 1.99 (CB Labs)

I’ve said many times that Metroidvania is my favorite genre of video games, that includes off-shots, like plat formers that have a lot of exploration involved, or plat formers that require you to collect certain items, and then go back and replay levels, being able to reach different sections of those levels because of your new items. In my mind, they all fall into the same category, Metroidvania. Now, there’s only a handful or two of these types of games made for the iOS, but luckily, we can now add one more to that very short list. The Adventures Of Timmy: Run Kitty Run, by CB Labs.

This happens to be CB Labs first iOS release, but for fans of the genre, this doesn’t really scare us off. In fact, probably half of the Metroidvania titles for iOS right now are first games by indie developers. But if you are a little hesitant, don’t worry, there’s no need to be. The Adventures Of Timmy is a very polished, professional, awesome game with great level design, tons to explore, plenty of enemies, and nice controls, which consist of a moving joystick that auto-centers whenever you place your finger down, and a jump button that responds to how long you press your finger down on it. It might sound a little funky, but it works extremely well.
You’ll play as Timmy, a shy kid who always wears a cat suit. One day, the prettiest girl in school, Kitty, tries to befriend Timmy. But a big bully gets jealous because he “saw her first”, and decides to kidnap Kitty. Fortunately, you’ve got the courage to go after them.
You’ll make your way through 36 levels spread out over 4 different chapters. Each chapter has a different environment, new enemies, bigger levels, and of course, goes up in difficulty as you progress. The graphics are a kind of mesh of silhouette and cartoon styles. Throughout the game, most of the levels floors, trees, and objects are all silhouetted, with the main character, enemies, coins, boxes and backgrounds being in color, and looking like something you’d see on cartoon network. The animations for the main character, enemies, bosses and hazards are all very well executed, and add a ton to the polished feel of it all. The music fit’s the game, however, there is only one music track for each chapter. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it would be nice if there were maybe two tracks per chapter, switching every level. The effects are all top notch though, from background field noise to blips and pops of goo, and creaking of rope bridges, it all sounds very professional, and adds a ton to the atmosphere.
Chapter One is pretty simple, and the levels are not very impressive. It’s almost a straight shot from start to end, and will probably leave you wanting more. But if you push through the first 9 levels, the game really starts to open up, giving you multiple pathways, loads to explore, and sections that will take some skill and wall jumping in order to reach.
Within each level, there are coins and enemies scattered throughout, as well as one picture that you’ll need to hunt down in order to find. Sometimes you might just happen to come across it while looking for the exit, and other times, it will take multiple plays of a level, seeing if what’s down a hole is another platform, or a quick death. This would give the game a trial and error sort of feeling, which could upset some people, but thankfully, the developers have made it so that Timmy can hold on to, slide down, and jump off of walls. So, you want to see if there’s anything down a hole? Run off of the side of the platform, and fall back into the wall, slowly sliding down. Nothing there? Wall jump back up to the top of the platform. Very nicely done.
Along with a picture to collect in each of the 36 levels, there’s also 3 stars to try and snag. To get these, you will need to usually collect all the coins and kill all the enemies in a level. There are no time limits, so you can feel free to thoroughly explore every little nook and cranny in every level. This does help add to the replay value, as getting all of the stars will take quite a few attempts. There’s also GameCenter leader boards for your High-Score, which is a total of your best score in every level of the game, as well as a Total-Score, which combines all your scores, including every score for one level you might end up playing 4 or 5 times. Combined with 30 achievements, there’s quite a lot of content to explore, and tons to try and achieve, along with plenty of challenge.
The game is $0.99 right now, but that is the launch price, and should go up to $1.99 very soon. Even at the full price, The Adventures Of Timmy is a game that all plat former fans should check out, especially fans of exploratory plat formers. The graphics, animations, controls, sounds, level design, and gameplay is all extremely professional and very polished. Right now, it’s easily one of my favorites of the genre on the iOS.
The Adventures Of Timmy: Run Kitty Run gets a score of 9 out of 10.
Version Reviewed; V1.0.3
Reviewed On; 4th GEN iPod Touch, iOS 4.3.3

Commander Pixman – 1.99 (One Minute Games)

I’ve said many times before that Metroidvania games are my favorite types of games, but right under it is, of course, platformers. Before playing Super Meat Boy for the first time last year, I hadn’t come across any speed run platform game, and since, only a couple made for the iOS; League Of Evil and Mos Speedrun being the first two, and then the recent release of Stardash added to that little list of mine. Now I have yet another speed run plat former to drive me crazy and go nutzo over.

Commander Pixman is this new addition, developed by One Minute Games, and is their 2nd release in the AppStore (preceded by Quad Pong). First off, I should say that if you’re expecting another LoE, Mos, or Stardash type game, you will probably be disappointed once you start up Commander Pixman. The physics take a little getting use to, as do the controls, and the main character has a gun. However, once you get use to the controls, thinking of the jump button as more of a jetpack thruster button, the controls and physics come together nicely. If you completely avoid using the gun, you’ll make it harder on yourself to get through the levels, but you’ll be able to get through them quicker once you figure out the right path, which will take you numerous re-tries, which is to be expected in the genre. Though taking your time, and using your gun to destroy all the enemies in a level will earn you a badge for that level.
The graphics are 8-bit retro styled, which in itself has become more modern than old-school over the last couple years, though here, it fits. The difficulty and ‘learn the controls’ feeling you’ll see from the beginning of the game through to the end completely screams old-school inspired. The soundtrack is also done in chip-tune style, and helps add to the overall feeling of the game.
Each of the 80 levels (65 regular levels plus 15 unlockable ones) contains hazards and obstacles for you to jump over, through, or avoid while trying to make it to the end of the level as quick as you can. The faster you make it through each stage, the higher star rank you’ll get at the end, while a perfect run will give you 3 stars. There are 20 different hazards/obstacles, including spikes, laser doors, rotating chainsaw blades, mines, various monsters, moving platforms, disintegrating platforms, sections of the floor that boost your jump, and in the later levels, portals that transfer not only you, but your momentum, and more.
To unlock each of the 15 bonus levels, you’ll need to complete different objectives. To unlock the first bonus level, you’ll need to get reach level 20, and to unlock the second bonus level you need to kill all enemies in level 22 in less than 13 seconds.
Now, even with it centering around collecting badges and getting the quickest time you can, there is no online leader board or achievement support, which does kind of take away from the drive of getting 3 stars in a level, or getting the best time you can, and collecting all the badges. Also, you can not run off of a platform that has a spike sticking off the 90 degree edge of it without dying. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but it does. The left and right directional arrows are kind of too far apart as well. But aside from these things, Commander Pixman is a very competent speed run plat former, with controls that work very well once you get use to them, and great physics. There’s also portals with the nice physics attached to them, and that does add a ton to the gameplay. Right now it’s on sale for $0.99, but only for a limited time, after that it’ll be $1.99, and with all the content within the game, even without online support, is well worth the price. There’s also more content promised in future updates, so if you’re a plat former fan, speed run fan, or old-school game fan, Commander Pixman is definitely worth picking up.
Commander Pixman gets a score of 8 out of 10.