Monthly Archive: June 2012

Suspect In Sight [Jujubee Games] – $0.99

It’s always exciting seeing a new coming development company come to the AppStore, especially when they have previous iOS experience, release their first iOS game. Suspect In Sight, from Jujubee Games (founded in 2012 by ex-Projekt RED, Traveler’s Tales and Infinite Dreams developers), is their first release, and it shows that they have quite a bit of experience behind them. 
Suspect In Sight has you controlling a helicopter, chasing suspects cars, lighting them up until the police can take them out. The game has 4 separate game modes, and 3 cities to chase the criminals in. the main game mode is the campaign, where you’ll gain experience points and chase down wave after wave of cars until your time runs out. Starting in Miami, you can choose between two different control schemes, tilt and joystick (on the left or right side of your screen), and are given a basic helicopter to start off with. 
As you chase down the cars, gems are given to you after each capture which add to your overall score. There is a multiplier gauge as well, which increases if you can keep the cars in your spotlight until they’re taken down. Each car also adds 5 seconds to your time limit, and there are also “?” scattered throughout the stages which give you little bonuses, like extra time, increased speed for a short time, extra points, stopping the cars for a short time, and more. Experience is gained depending on how many suspects are arrested, how many waves you complete, and your time played. 
Leveling up is required to unlock the extra modes. Race for Gems Mode has you following a stream of gems throughout a level, trying to get them all in the shortest amount of time. As for the other two modes, AC-130 Mode, and Bird of Prey, I haven’t been able to unlock those yet. Which brings me to pretty much my one and only complaint with the game. 
Unlocking modes requires you to reach certain levels by gaining experience. Race For Gems requires Level 3, AC-130 – Level 7, and Bird of Prey – Level 12. After playing for about an hour and a half, I managed to reach level 4. Generally, each game takes about 5 minutes, and only nets between 300 and 600 experience points. Level 3 is at 5,000 experience points, and level 4 is at 10,000 experience points, with level 5 at 15,000 points. With the gameplay being pretty basic, and everything that might make the game a lot more entertaining locked away when you first pick the game up, the grind to get up to level 12 (which is when Bird of Prey is unlocked) can turn out to be long and boring. I’m assuming others are experiencing the same type of grind, as I’m currently #11 out of 5,125 players on the Highest Score board, and #18 out of 5,141 players for Total Experience Points. 
This is pretty disappointing, considering how great the graphics are, and how much potential the game seems to have right now. GameCenter leaderboards for Highest Score, Total Experience Points, and Best Time in the Race For Gems, along with 18 achievements. Being Universal, priced at $0.99, and having loads of replay value, it’s a great game that all action/arcade + high-score chasing fanatics should check out. Hopefully the experience points required for leveling up will be lowered, or the next helicopter I unlock (whenever I reach whatever level I need to reach in order to unlock it – it doesn‘t say when it is unlocked) helps me gain experience points faster. In the beginning it’s a pretty big downer seeing how long it’s going to take to unlock all of the modes. 

Mike & Milkbox [SangWoon Yi] – FREE

Platformers. Whenever a new one hit’s the AppStore, I get extremely excited. There’s always so much potential and possibility within the genre, even on mobile devices. The most recent one to find a spot on my iPod is Mike & Milkbox, developed by SangWoon Yi. You are a bird spy named Mike who’s been recruited to save the world. Evildoer ‘Melanie’ is trying to design her own world government, and you need to traverse through the 4 worlds/24 stages taking out her minions, collecting coins, and saving little baby chicks. 
First off, Mike & Milkbox currently only has an iPhone version, which means that playing on the iPad will be in 2X mode, and the controls really aren’t designed for the big screen at the moment. The developer has said that an HD version is coming, so there is hope that they will be customizable on the iPad, and maybe the iPhone version will get some control tweaks in a future update as well. As it is now, the controls work well enough, but the jump button could be a little more responsive. You are able to choose between big buttons and smaller arrows in the pause menu, which is a nice addition, especially since the bigger buttons sometimes block enemies or objects. The dead zone for both control schemes is perfect, but it’s always nice to have buttons which you can place wherever you like, and with so many iOS platformers including that option, it is kind of a bummer when you come across a title that only has fixed buttons. 
Other important aspects of a platformer? Inertia, physics, and movement speed. Mike does move a little bit slower than what I’d like, but it’s easy to get comfortable with, and isn’t distracting at all. As for inertia, there isn’t any. Once you let up off of a directional button, your character comes to a complete stop, even when in mid-air, which is a huge plus. No need to try and adjust when you let up off of buttons while trying to land on a box, or edge of a platform, and the physics in Mike & Milkbox feel great, making most of the gameplay very comfortable. 
The graphics are great, with beautifully detailed backdrops, retro inspired platforms and wonderfully designed character and enemy sprites. The animations are decent, with enemies falling down into the bottom of the screen when killed, and Mike’s death animation being pretty cute (a bandage, bruises, and ‘x’ed out eyes appear as Mike falls down into the bottom of the screen). 
The level designs in Mike & Milkbox are also a highlight of the game. At the beginning, in the Barnyard levels, the stages do seem pretty simple, but as you progress into the Jungle, Lab and Cave environments, the levels become pretty complex, with great warp mechanics, and areas hidden behind fake walls making exploration a part of the gameplay. 
Each of the 24 stages has a 3 star ranking, one for completing the level in under 100 seconds, another for collecting each of the 3 little chicks, and the last for taking no damage throughout the level. Since the game does not include any online support, no leaderboards or any achievements, this does help add to the replay value, but only so much. Along with some control options, GameCenter boards and achievements would add a ton to the game.
Mike & Milkbox is FREE right now, but is regularly priced at $1.99, so make sure you grab it, and tell all your platform addicted buddies about it. SangWoon Yi has definitely made a platformer that fits very nicely in an iPod folder full of Miss Claire Garden, Wawa Land, Supercow, Kale, and loads more… if you’re a fan of the genre you definitely need to check it out.

Freebies Galore!

Recently, a whole bunch of fantastic games have gone free. If you don’t yet have any of these, now would be the best time to snag em up! So pull our your iDevice, and get ready to download. =oD

Hollow Grounds [Full Color Planet]

Dragon Wrath [Faraway Frontiers]

Grabatron [Future Games of London]

Micron [Apparition Games] – $0.99

After the success of Pulse, another rhythm based puzzler which came in 2nd place in the Kongregate contest “Project Eden: Experience The Music”. Apparition Games was formed, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. It seems like the music genre for iOS games is finally looking up. After loads of Guitar Hero type games that required tons of song purchases or were made to help sell music for one group, we’re starting to build a list of ‘must have’ games if you’re into the genre. Groove Coaster, Cytus, Thumpies, Miku Flick, Beat Sneak Bandit… well now we can add Apparition Game’s first iOS release, Micron, another rhythm based puzzler, to that list. 
In Micron, you need to place objects around a level, guiding balls to hit buttons, opening doors, to get a ball into the exit. A basic beat will be playing at the beginning of the stage, and every object within the level creates a sound. Bouncing balls off of platforms creates new sounds, which wind up making a full song by the completion of the level. Granted, music doesn’t effect the gameplay, but it’s a very creative use of beats and sounds merged into the gameplay, and it’s clear that a lot of thought, work, and testing has gone in to the placement and possible placements of each and every object. 
The controls in Micron are simple. In the left column, you’re given a certain amount of items which you can use to complete each level. To place them, you just need to tap on the level’s grid where you want to place the object, and then select the object from the column. Each exit has a barrier, which requires 4 balls hitting it in order to open, exposing the exit, which just needs one ball to enter to complete the level. There is no time limit, and each level is shown as complete by having a star next to it on the level selection screen. 
The level select screen is made up like a tree, with branching off stages which unlock when the previous stage is completed. This means that not every stage needs to be completed to get to the last level. As you progress through the game, more objects are thrown into the level designs, like different colored balls which can go through lasers of the same color, but can’t go through lasers of a different color. With the placement of different colored doors and buttons to open those doors around the levels, there’s some very nice level designs, especially later on in the game. 
All of this going on with each object being hit making a different sound is incredibly impressive. Sadly, there’s no real replay value, so after you complete the 51 stages, there’s no drive to keep you coming back. Also taking away from the replay value is the lack of GameCenter or OpenFeint. No achievements and no leaderboards. A game that has this much work and thought put into it suffering from no scoring system, leaderboards and achievements is kind of disappointing. If players were timed, or there was a score based on how quickly you completed the levels, and had that as the leaderboard, it would add quite a bit of replay value. Not to mention achievements. The game just needs something to keep players coming back to it. 
All-n-all, it’s a very impressive first title from Apparition Games. Priced at $0.99, and being Universal, those of you who have been waiting for more music based games to hit the AppStore should definitely pick this one up. The developer has said that he’s planning on adding more levels, more music, and possibly a level generator and way to share community generated content, but only if the game sells well. It’s a long shot, but here’s hoping that more will be added to Micron. There’s tons of potential here, and it would be a shame if Apparition Games didn’t take advantage of it. 

Cardinal Quest [Joshua E Day] – $1.99

Roguelike games have definitely become a new obsession of mine. After 100 Rogues and Zaga 33, I just can’t get enough of them. A three-man project, Cardinal Quest, just so happens to be the newest roguelike to grace my iPad, and it’s already gotten quite a bit of gameplay out of me. 
Starting off, you’re able to choose between one of three different characters; a Fighter, who has strong melee attacks, a Thief, who is agile and can use his speed to get away from enemies quickly, and a Wizard who’s strength is in his spells. You’ll be going after Asterion. A minotaur who crushed the town you were living in when you were young, also captured many of the townsfolk, and turned them into his slaves. Now that you’re older, you’re going after the beast, fighting through swarms of his minions and maze like dungeons. 
To control your character, you’ll need to tap in the gameplay area in the direction you want to move. A swipe to move control scheme would be a nice addition, but right now, the tap to move and hold to run controls work well enough. On the right side of the screen, you’ll have your spells, at the bottom, your quick select inventory, and on the left, you can select a map, inventory, and check out your character’s stats. As you make your way through each level of the dungeon, you’ll automatically level up your character by defeating enemies, and gain more spells by exploring and finding them laying around. Your character also automatically equips himself with the strongest equipment he finds, which is a nice addition. No needing to go and manually figure out what items to wear. Once you find stairs to a lower level, all you need to do is tap the center of the screen, and your character will go down to the next level.
Like most other roguelike titles available, Cardinal Quest is done with retro graphics, but even though you’re going through dungeon level after dungeon level, the environments do change enough to stay interesting. Also, the character and enemy sprites are well done, and surprisingly, the equipment that your character wears is shown on his in-game sprite, which is a great addition. Great animations, the nice BGM and cool sound effects complete the atmosphere perfectly. The level design is fairly simple, with no hidden passage ways, no locked doors, but the exploration aspect is still there, and the lack of any hidden areas doesn’t really effect the gameplay. The developers have also said that this is something they’d like to add in the future, so we’ll see.
Unfortunately, unlike most other rogue like titles, there are no stats. Having a stats screen is a big thing for a lot of roguelike fans. Seeing how well you’ve done, how far you’ve gotten, which character you play the best with, ect… is usually a big deal. Thankfully, this is also something that the developers are talking about adding in a future update for the game. But as it is right now, there are no end game stats at all. 
Cardinal Quest is a great, fast-paced roguelike title that fans of the genre should definitely check out. Priced at $1.99, and being Universal, it’s a great buy, and one that will fit very nicely between 100 Rogues and Fargoal in any Roguelike folder on your device. Hopefully the game will sell well, and we can see the game become more well rounded, but even as it is now, it’s a game that no roguelike fanatic should be without.

Stunt Bunnies Circus [Jujubee] – $0.99

Score-chasing arcade games are a god-send for iOS gaming. They’re a perfect fit for the platform, with endless play, quick gaming sessions, and tons of drive that always keeps you coming back for more. In my opinion, the AppStore will never have too many score driven arcade titles. The most recent addition to my Score-Chasing folder on my iPad is Chillibite Entertainment’s Stunt Bunnies Circus. 
This tap based arcade game has you controlling an extremely quick and agile rabbit who’s trying to save all of the falling rabbits from smashing into the floor. It sounds pretty basic, and the main idea is, but once you add in the fireball tossing rabbit, fireballs around the falling rabbits, cannons shooting rabbits every which way, the different types of rabbits, the snarling lions, combos needed to gain coins, things can get pretty hectic pretty fast. 
There are two modes of gameplay, Story, and Arcade (which is unlocked after completing Chapter 2 of Story Mode); Story Mode has you going through 8 level chapters, adding different mechanics as you go along, and slowly progressing in difficulty. Here, you need to try and save as many bunnies as you can from hitting the ground. Only being able to catch 5 rabbits in a row, you’ll need to keep making sure you drop them off before the next wave starts or else you could wind up missing quite a few of them. You’re able to earn coins if you catch more than one rabbit per tap, but you’re also able to align yourself mid-air. This does require more taps, and quickly, but once you get the hang of it, pulling it off is incredibly fun. As you catch bunnies, you’ll fill up a bar on the right side of the screen. Once this is full, you’ve completed the level. Arcade Mode is basically an endless mode. You’re able to miss 5 bunnies, and then it’s game over, but here, you’re able to earn quite a few coins which you can spend on power-ups which can help you get through Story Mode. 
With the coins that you collect in both gameplay modes, you’re able to purchase one time use power-ups. There’s Rocket Fuel, which doubles your jet pack speed for one round, Crash Mats, which gives you 3 mats which will each save one bunny from hitting the ground, and a Fire Jacket, which protects you from up to 10 fireballs in one round. Prices for these are fairly high, with Rocket Fuel priced at 100 coins, Crash Mats at 200, and the Fire Jacket at 500, they’re pretty much only there for Story levels that you’re having a very hard time beating, or when you’re ready to try and get a high-score in Arcade Mode. But you can pretty much count on either playing through the vast majority of the levels with no power-ups, or purchasing coins through IAP (1,000 coins for $0.99, 2,500 coins for $1.99 and 10,000 coins for $2.99). Now, I have nothing against IAPs in games, but having consumable items (and ONLY consumable items) in your game, with consumable IAP, and games that push you towards IAP with INSANE difficulty, or having to wait for 10+ hours before getting a couple gold pieces, kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Luckily, here, they aren’t required to play through the whole game, as you only need 1 star to move on from level to level, so you’re really pushed towards getting better at the game than purchasing coins, which I view as a positive addition to games. 
With Stunt Bunnies Circus priced at $0.99, being Universal, having pretty much endless replay value and GameCenter with a leaderboard and 26 achievements, it’s a nice score-chasing tap based arcade title. It’d be great to see even more bunnies added, some playable characters which could be unlocked, or more power-ups, but as it is now, it offers up some nice variety, a great challenge, especially if you’re going to go for 3 stars on every level, nice graphics and animations, and all-around entertaining gameplay. It’s very clear they know what it takes to make a fully rounded iOS title, and I’m hoping to see more from Jujubee Games in the future. 

Light Byte [Ayopa] – $0.99

If you’ve been a reader of The App Shack for a while now, you probably already know that we LOVE Ayopa games here. Their nice releases, along with super support from the developers of the games they publish really makes them easy to support. Their most recent publication comes from developer Steven Pastro; an action puzzler, Light Byte. 
Light Byte has 3 different gameplay modes; Endless, Time Attack, and Full Byte. Each mode’s play is basically the same. You’ll need to match two blocks that are the same color, which will make them fall from the slowly descending wall of blocks, giving you access to the blocks behind them. The more blocks of the same color you match, the higher your score will be, and once you take out 8 blocks of the same color, you’ll enter frenzy mode, which turns all of the blocks into stars, and you can just tap away, knocking them all down. 
In Endless Mode, you start off with 3 colors of blocks, yellow, blue and red. As you knock down these blocks, they‘ll fill a level meter as well as color meters at the bottom of the screen. Once the level meter is filled up, you‘ll go up a level, and the speed of the descending blocks will slightly increase. Below the level meter are the color meters. Each meter is added to when you knock down blocks of the meter’s color. Once one of the meters is filled, it shoots stars up to the top of the screen, clearing all of the blocks on screen, and gives you a point bonus. And bonus points are a huge part of Light Byte.
As you knock down blocks, each block that’s the same color as the last is increased 100 points. Once you enter Frenzy Mode, each block knocked down gives you 500 points, and here, you can tap very quickly, and gain quite a few extra points, and if you’re lucky, you can clear the screen of every block, and get a clear bonus. With GameCenter support, and 14 leader boards, high-scores are a huge part of the replay value, and drive to keep playing. There’s also 33 achievements, helping to add to the replay value and challenge. 
Also a part of score chasing, unlocking modes requires you to collect a certain amount of total points. Normal Mode in Time Attack requires you get 5 million points to unlock it, Challenge Mode in Time Attack requires 10 million, and Extreme requires 50 million while Full Byte Mode needs 25 million. 
With the Modes being unlocked by cumulative points, and fairly large amounts, there’s a guarantee that even after playing for hours on end, you’ll still have a pretty big chance of unlocking something new, and having a whole new leader board to compete on. But if you’re impatient, you can unlock all of the modes for $1.99.
As we’ve said quite a few times in the past, Ayopa is one of our favorite publishers. The developers who release their games through them are very supportive, and have worked non-stop to make their games as user friendly as they can, and as entertaining as they can, based on gamer feedback. It’s pretty much a give-in that Light Byte will be the same. As it is now, I haven’t found any issues with the game, but as with almost every other game out there, the chances of someone finding some are fairly high, so it’s always great to have a team of developers+publishers that are devoted to customer satisfaction. Light Byte is $0.99, and Universal. And with the crazy amount of content and replay value, it’s a great game to get if you’re into action puzzlers or games that require quick thinking and reflexes. With Light Byte, you can chalk another one up to Ayopa, it’s definitely a game that’ll end up staying on my iDevice for a long, long time.

Chrono & Cash [OrangePixel] – $1.99

Arena based platformers for the iOS are really hitting their stride. But, as you can very well imagine, OrangePixel, the AppStore Retro-GODS, newest game, Chrono & Cash, doesn’t just sit back on the bleachers with the rest of the so-so titles in the genre; it’s out there, playing ball as best it can with the rest of the heavy hitters, with love for the game clearly visible in it’s eyes. And I think that’s enough of the baseball  talk. 
OrangePixel’s previous releases, Meganoid, Stardash, INC, they all fantastic platforming games. Easily some of the best in the genre for the iDevice. So already, the bar is set fairly high for Chrono & Cash. If you keep in mind some of the other games within the genre; Spellsword, Muffin Knight, RodLand, Snowy, Superstar Chefs, Blast Ball… then standing out of the crowd is not done easily. But OrangePixel’s developers definitely know what it takes to create unique and original games even in genres that are swarming with titles. 
Chrono & Cash has you playing as a robber who needs to collect as many items as he can before being caught. As you collect these items, you’ll be able to achieve objectives, which ups your multiplier (up to 5X ATM, with more objectives coming in future updates), and unlock other playable characters from very well known retro inspired iOS games (Cavorite, Commander Pixman, Scorched Monster, and more). Also adding to the already fairly high challenge, after collecting an item that’s got a white outline around it, another item will light up with the same outline. If you can collect all of the items in order of how they light up, you’ll get an end of level bonus. If you can get this bonus consecutively, the bonus points double (giving you the potential to grab 4,000 extra points every 3 levels). If that’s not enough, you’re able to rotate your device and play in portrait mode, which makes each of the levels platform and item placement different, almost like playing a separate version of the game.
Like most other OrangePixel releases, the controls in Chrono & Cash are adjustable, being able to separate how close or far away the left/right buttons are, and also has Joypad and iCade support. The game’s graphics are also done in the fantastic retro style that OrangePixel has become known for, and includes a great chip tune soundtrack. With all of these features, the game feels and plays like a true retro/old-school arcade title. 
Priced at $1.99, being Universal, and having GameCenter support with 2 leaderboards (one for Arcade Mode, and one for Landscape Mode), and endless replayability, it’s a great addition to the Arena Platformer genre, and to the AppStore in general. If you’re a fan of OP’s previous games, buying this one is a no-brainer, but if you’re new to OrangePixel, Chrono & Cash a great place to start. The difficulty level isn’t as hardcore as their previous games, and the gameplay is more accessible to the casual gamer. 

Babel Running [Bulkypix] – $0.99

Endless runners are a dime a dozen in the AppStore. However, it’s not too often you come across a runner that gives you a character and features that you’re already familiar with before hopping into the game. Bulkypix latest runner, used primarily as a promo for the sequel, is Babel Running. A runner where you’ll control a little guy just trying to get bricks from one place to another, while being ambushed by forces he doesn’t quite yet understand. 
As with most runners, the gameplay is simple. Tap once to jump, twice to double jump. Leave the rest up to the game. You’ll encounter tsunamis, snakes, spikes, lightning, fire, crocodiles, and more and you try to collect the rocks scattered throughout the world and take them to different stations, cashing in your points. Once you collect three of these rock pieces scattered all over the place, you’ll earn a stone, which you’ll need to try and carry to the next station. However, if you get hit, it’ll cost you one stone, and once you’re out of stones and get injured, it’s game over. 
Unfortunately, other than the GameCenter/OpenFeint leaderboards, Facebook posting and 23 trophies, there’s not much to the game, and with so many runners taking advantage of the platform, and going a little crazy with their gameplay, aside from the familiar settings and offerings of Babel Running, it doesn’t really stand a chance to stick out in the crowd. There is a Bonus Mode, which you can purchase for another $0.99, offering up bonus items throughout the gameplay, shields, and the like, but it still doesn’t do much to change the outcome of the game. There’s nothing really driving the gameplay, and nothing really keeping you coming back to it.
But if you’re looking for a familiar runner from a well known publisher that offers up a decent challenge; Babel Running is definitely one to check out. It’s $0.99, and Universal, and for all of you Babel fanatics out there, should hold you over until the sequel to Babel Rising comes out.

Golf Squared [Dynamo Games] – $0.99

One of my favorite iOS games ever is Super Stickman Golf. It’s sucked hours upon hours of my life away one swing of the golf club at a time. So seeing Dynamo Games title, Golf Squared, which looked AMAZINGLY similar to SSG, the excitement hit me instantly. But along with that excitement came unease. Would Dynamo Games be able to match the amazingly addictive gameplay of Super Stickman Golf, or would it fizzle out, being a less than mediocre clone? Well… it’s time to find out.
Starting off, the graphics of Golf Squared look great. The boxy look of the characters coupled with the nice modern retro type inspired environments, minimal user interface and vibrant colors all come together to create a very appealing graphic styling. 
The animations and physics add a bunch to this, with your characters showing obvious disappointment when things don’t go their way, sand kicking up when you hit a bunker and grass and flowers popping up when you roll through the rough. The physics when hitting a ball in these areas is also effected, which is a great addition to the gameplay. Sadly, other areas of the game don’t stand out like the graphics, animations and physics.  
There’s only one Mode, no online features like multiplayer, and no GameCenter or OpenFeint support. Within the one mode of gameplay, you’ll be able to choose between a male or female character, and have only one environment (golf course) to pick, with a “More Levels Coming Soon” message when you click the misleading arrow, thinking there’s more than one area to play in. In this one area, there’s 18 holes, each having an available 3 star ranking. That’s it. 18 holes. 
Once you actually get into the game, you might notice right away that zooming in and out can become quite a hassle. Once you zoom out, and then hit the ball, the camera automatically zooms back in, and stays there until you zoom it out again. This can get pretty annoying, and winds up taking away from the immersion of the game quite a bit. 
You’ll also probably notice that there’s no in-game currency, no in-game store, no customization what-so-ever. Now, this does mean that there’s no extra IAP, which I guess is a good thing, but with every single golf game out there these days having in-game stores, with extra balls, clothing, clubs, characters, and more that you can purchase, it’s kind of a let down. No powered up balls to unlock, you can’t even change your characters colors. 
Now, with this being Dynamo Games first real game released in the AppStore, it’s not exactly bad. But once you get past the graphics, the game doesn’t stick out. At all. The levels are designed kind of like Stickman Golf’s courses, but each is very short, and with only 18 of them, there’s not much gameplay here. You can replay the holes until you get 3 stars (which is done by achieving a Birdy [2 hits under par]), but then that’s it, and there’s not much drive to even do that with no online leader boards, and no store to purchase items. Hopefully Dynamo Games will keep working on Golf Squared, because it does have a ton of potential. But right now, it really just feels like a bare bones, graphically enhanced, lite/demo version of Stickman Golf.