Along with Bonpeach’s wonderful arcade title, Explodables, exactly one year ago we also reviewed a great game from a little development company known as Orange Pixel. You might have heard of them. Their title, Super Drill Panic, was released as a FREE game, with ads. There was no IAP for removing ads, but soon after, Super Drill Panic was updated to a paid game, removing the ads, and giving everyone who downloaded the game for FREE, the full paid version. SDP has only received 2 updates since it’s original release, but luckily, it’s not really a game that needed any major updates, and is still one awesome score-chasing arcade game. If you have yet to pick it up, it’s, as you might imagine coming from the amazing OrangePixel Studio, definitely a must own game.
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.0.
Super Drill Panic is the new retro arcade game from Orange Pixel, the developers of the awesome Meganoid and Time Chaos. In Super Drill Panic, you’ll make your way through 30 Levels along with two Endless Arcade Levels, while collecting coins, to upgrade items in the shop, hammers to smash through platforms, treasure chests that hold letters (spelling out DRILL once you collect all of them in a world), hourglasses that give you some breathing room, key cards that let you open doors, and glasses that make you invisible, all while trying to escape from a huge boulder trying to crush you or the jail bars from coming down on you.
Orange Pixel caught the attention of many gamers when they released the great platform game, Meganoid. This time, they have stuck with the retro graphics, but tried something new. Super Drill Panic is free. That’s right, free. It has ads, but you can’t complain when you’re not paying anything to play this great game. And it is one great game.
Aside from the awesome retro graphics, you’re given two control options, tilting, and virtual buttons, right on the bottom right side, and left on the bottom left side. I prefer the buttons, as most tilting games get on my nerves, but here, you can make quick turns more easily, and it just plays better while using the button setup.
Throughout the 30 levels, you’ll encounter 6 different environments, along with 2 more in the arcade modes. Each environment has different colors, and different obstacles, but the goal is always the same. Make it to the bottom of the level without loosing all your lives while collecting as much as you can.
In the shop, you’ll be able to upgrade your hammer, to smash through more platforms, your time, which pauses the boulder longer when you pick up the hourglass, your running shoes, which makes you run faster, another time, which pauses jail, burglar vision, which lets you stay undetected longer, and your key tech, which lets you open more doors.
There’s two different characters available to play with, the female is unlocked after beating the first 15 levels. Each has a different set of worlds to go through, different shops, and different arcade levels. With the male character, you try to make it through caves while stealing the treasure and avoiding the boulder, kind of like a vertical version of hook champ, minus the hook, while with the female you try to escape the building after breaking into a vault, avoiding the bars coming down on you.
There’s plenty of challenge, as getting a high ranking at the end of each level is pretty decently hard to accomplish. The graphics are Orange Pixel Retro goodness, sounds, music, it all feels like an old-school Nintendo game, filled with action. I do, however, wish that I could get rid of the ad bar on the top of the screen, even if it was with an IAP, as I do feel this game is worth a buck or two. The arcade levels do add quite a bit to the replay value, but once you upgrade all your items, the replay value goes down quite a bit. For free though, it’s an amazing game, and highly recommended.
Over the last year, we’ve seen quite a few ‘Pokemon’ like games hit the AppStore; Mighty Monsters, Pocket Summoner, Minimon, MinoMonsters and more, with even more slated for future release. MinoMonsters was a decent Pokemon-esque experience, but with some recent updates has pretty much gone down the drain, and no one else has really nailed the different aspects of gameplay. Well, NNT Resonant (Cats Away [$0.99], iGADGET [$2.99], Berzerk Ball [$0.99], GemCraft [$2.99] and Hex Empire [$0.99]) is now taking a crack at the genre with their new release, Dragon Island Blue.
Dragon Island Blue tells the story of a young boy who’s found a dragon egg, which, for a long time, were thought to be extinct. This starts your journey of collecting, battling, evolving, destroying and mixing over 200 different monsters. Starting off, you’re able to pick a element for your dragon; Earth, Wind, Fire or Water. Like NNT Resonant’s previous release, Cats Away, D.I.B. starts off pretty slowly, requiring quite a bit of ‘grinding’ before you actually get into the real meat of the game, but once you do make it through the slow beginning, the game starts to really shine, turning into one of the best Pokemon-type games available for the iOS.
When you start off, you’ll only have access to one area. This area contains a main village, a forest, planes, and a cave. Movement is done by tapping on selected areas of the map, with battles popping up randomly. Once you’re in a battle, you’ll have two different options for control. One, lets you select the attack you want to pull off, and then select which enemy you want to attack, while the other has you swipe over the enemy you want to attack in the direction of the arrow on each attack card.
Depending on which attack you use, you’ll be knocked back in the battle sequence. The battle sequence determines who attacks and when. If you use your regular attack, you’ll be given a lower number, and a higher number for a stronger attack. Each turn that’s made will decrease this number, and once it reaches zero, you’ll be able to attack again.
There is a bit of strategy within the battle system, given the battle sequence and various attacks that you can use. But also, when you’re thrown into battle, you’ll face an unknown number of opponents. This plays into how you’ll attack each of the enemies. Up to 3 enemies can be on the screen at once, but in the upper right corner is a number showing you how many back-up enemies will appear once you defeat the starting line-up. Not only do these mechanics play a part in the battles, but also which elements your creatures are. Each element has a strength and weekness; Fire beats Earth, Earth beats Wind, Wind beats Water, Water beats Fire. If you’re up against a bunch of Earth creatures, you’ll want to use your Fire creatures more often because even their regular attacks will be stronger that usual.
As you battle creatures, you’ll also be able to capture them. This is done by purchasing Bronze, Silver and Gold cards in the town’s shop. Each type of card has their own capture percentage when up against creatures, depending on how strong they are. Once you capture a creature, it’s automatically added to your line-up. As you level your main character up, you’ll be able to hold more and more creatures. However, only the creatures that you use while in battle get the experience gained for each fight, so switching out your creatures is something that you should do regularly, or else you’ll just wind up with 3 decently powered creatures, and the rest of them will be very week, pretty much not helping out your team at all.
If you don’t want to use a creature, once you get back into town, you can destroy that creature, and turn it into a soul stone, which you’re able to attach to another creature. This can be useful, especially if you’ve captured a very low-level creature, or just have duplicates.
When you level up your character, you’re given a stat point which you can assign to either the defense, attack, magic, resistance, speed or max HP of your creatures. You’re also able to increase the license of your character by battling it out in arenas across the land. After doing this, you’ll be able to attach gems to your character. These gems are available in the shop, or can be won in battle and increase your creatures stats as well. Each license that you earn will add one more slot for a gem. You’re also able to collect totems by completing certain battles. These totems assign a specific creature to your character, able to use a special ability while in battle once each time you leave a town.
In each town, there are quests you can accept, which reward you with gold and silver, as well as special creatures. Once the quests are explained they go into your quest log. In order to re-read them, all you need to do is tap on the quest again, and you’ll get a full explanation. These quests range from killing or capturing a certain number of creatures to evolving your creatures or taking out a certain creature breeder who’s been causing trouble for the town, and more. There’s a very nice variety within the quests, keeping the gameplay interesting.
GameCenter is supported, with 3 leaderboards; Collection Percent, Hero Level and Infinite Dungeon, which scores how many levels you can make it through on the endless dungeon. There are also 24 achievements included, which will take some time to complete. Dragon Island Blue contains endless replayability, with the Infinite Dungeon, not to mention the countless hours you’ll be able to spend going through the actual story mode. There is a ton of content in the game, and is easily my favorite Pokemon type game in the AppStore. Right now, NNT is having a launch sale, pricing Dragon Island Blue at $0.99 for a limited time. Soon it’ll shoot up to $2.99. DIB is Unviersal, so no worries about playing in 2X mode on your iPad. If you’re a fan of Pokemon, Dragon Island Blue is a must own game. There’s plenty of depth as well as strategy, and once you get through all the beginning creatures, there are some pretty bad-ass ones you’ll want to try and collect over and over again until you can snag em, building up the best team of creatures that you can.
Chillingo. Just saying the word brings hundreds of games to mind. They’ve ranged from casual to hardcore, puzzlers to action, adventure to arcade titles, they’ve basically released something for everyone, and I still find myself being surprised fairly often by the games they shove into the AppStore’s virtual shelves. Case and point? One Tap Hero, the new Puzzle Platformer from Coconut Island Studios (developers of the physics puzzler, Finger Balance and the score-chasing toilet paper dragging game, iDrag Paper).
I should say that I know there are some gamers out there, platformer fans, who are worried about a ‘one tap plat former’ – but with games like ChocoRun, Wind-up Knight, 1-Bit Ninja, the newer titles Bitless and Sunshine, and the onslaught of Endless Runners with platforming elements that have made their way onto the iDevice, I was pretty excited to check out another addition to the genre. Knowing that like-minded titles can range from fairly easy with simple level designs to hardcore with crazy level designs and enemies/hazards everywhere, I wasn’t sure what to really expect, but I knew right away that it had the potential to be a great game. Even then, I was still surprised while making my way through the game.
One Tap Hero is the story of a little ghost looking creature who’s, in a way, chasing after his abducted girlfriend. While out in a field one day, a wizard appeared, turned his girlfriend into a zombie like teddy bear, and now, as you collect stars from each of the levels, you’re slowly turning your sweetheart back into the normal cutesy little creature she use to be.
As the name suggests, One Tap Hero is controlled by tapping an action button. That’s right, everything in the game is controlled this way; jumping, climbing ladders, switching levers, stopping at certain spots and more. Your character constantly moves throughout the level, bouncing off of walls, while you try and collect all 3 stars in a level, and make it to your girlfriend. The amount of different things your character could do with just one tap actually kind of threw me off guard, but with some great level designs, and well thought out gameplay, it never got too cluttered up, wanting your character to do one thing, but having him doing another was something that just does not happen throughout the game.
One Tap Hero’s Story Mode contains 4 separate environments, each offering up new mechanics and atmospheres, and having 20 stages, along with 5 bonus levels which can be unlocked by collecting hard to snag keys throughout some of the stages. Each level has a possible 3 star ranking, along with coins which you can try and collect, which adds to your total score, as well as another challenge to try and master. You can also spend your coins in the game’s shop, which lets you purchase different outfits, keys to unlock bonus levels, and bombs which you can use to take out the ninja enemies later on in the game. Also, these days, almost every time you see a shop in a game, you can bet there’s going to be IAPs, and there are; 1,500 coins for $0.99, 5,000 for $1.99, 15,000 for $2.99, 30,000 for $3.99 and each bomb costs $0.99, but you don’t NEED to purchase anything extra to enjoy and complete the game.
The graphics and animations do a great job of helping to draw you into the world of One Tap Hero. Levels are placed on top of various backdrops, and I will admit, as much as I love retro graphics, it’s nice when a platformer strays away from this. The animations are nice and smooth, and do a great job of keeping players immersed in the game. Completing this is a wonderful relaxing soundtrack, matching the gameplay and environments perfectly, and complimenting the atmosphere quite a bit.
Coconut Island has also done a fantastic job with the level designs. Even though the games difficulty isn’t really up there on the charts, that doesn’t mean that the levels are simplistic by any means. With perfectly placed pits, platforms, stars, coins and hazards, alongside levers that move entire sections of stages, spikes, rotating worlds and more, it’s very clear that a crazy amount of time has gone into the level designs, especially later on in the game.
GameCenter integration adds the final touches, with 4 leaderboards, one for the total score of each world and 43 achievements, there’s enough content and replay value to keep gamers busy for a while. Priced at $0.99 and being Universal, One Tap Hero is another great Chillingo publication. Coconut Island has done a great job with just about every single aspect of the game, and compared to their previous titles, it‘s clear that they‘ve learned quite a bit in their so-far short developing life-cycle. Though, it would be nice if there was more of a challenge, and the constant back and forth with the difficulty levels as you progress through the game would have been much better as a constant upward climb in difficulty. Power-ups would have also been a great inclusion, especially later on when the enemies make an appearance. But even so, One Tap Hero is another great addition to the Single Tap Platformer genre, and one that casual as well as hardcore gamers can enjoy. Now let’s just hope that this Chillingo game will be updated and that ’Coming Soon’ world actually does come soon.
We’ve said before that we absolutely love just about all of the ports that have found their way to the AppStore. One of them that happened to slip under our reviewing radar was released back in 2009 on XBLA. After making its way to Windows Phone 7, it was eventually ported over to the iOS late last year. Getting an 8.5 on IGN, as well as being an Editor’s Choice, and receiving an 80% on Game Rankings, I was really excited when I first saw the trailer, after hearing that it was coming to the AppStore. Rocket Riot, developed by Codeglue, a Dutch development company who had previously released titles for the Pocket PC, J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition), Nokia, generic Smartphones, as well as previous iOS titles, had also had their hands in Toki Tori, the fantastic puzzle platformer, and had a good 8 years of game development under their belts at the time (now, almost 10).
Published by Chillingo, Rocket Riot got quite a bit of attention, but still remains a sort of hidden gem of the AppStore, with it’s best position on the AppStore charts at #16, in the Neatherlands, and then fading away into the backlog of lost and forgotten iOS games about a month after it’s release.
Not to say that Rocket Riot is a game that’s worth forgetting. It was released mid-November of 2011, basically right before the craziness of the December AppStore, when just about every game went on sale, and developers scurried to get their games released before the 2 week shut-down Apple has at the end of the year. Unless you’re a major company and have a game that’s extremely hyped up, chances are your game is going to basically tank if you release it around this time.
Now, to the game. Rocket Riot is a sort of dual-stick shooter that’s built up like a sort of arena-type platformer (along the lines of Scorched Monster, BlibBlob, Bloo Kid, and to a lesser extent, Super Crate Box, Muffin Knight and Spellsword). You’ll control one of hundreds of available characters, which you can unlock as you progress throughout the game, as you chase after the evil pirate Blockbeard. The controls might take a little getting use to, with a sort of invisible joystick for movement on the left side of the screen, and an invisible tap-n-drag control for shooting your projectiles on the right. Firing works very well, however, being able to swipe frantically in the direction you want to shoot your missile launcher feels natural, and is a perfect fit for the game.
There are two other control schemes available, with the joystick option, you still need to drag on the left side of the screen to move, but to fire, you can just hold down on the screen, moving the joystick to the right around to auto-fire in that direction. The last control scheme uses the iDevice’s tilt option to move, while utilizing the default swipe to shoot controls for firing your weapon. The controls do work well enough, though I would have preferred an actual static joystick for movement.
There’s 48 story mode levels, each with their own completion objectives, usually just killing a set amount of enemies that randomly appear throughout the stage, but also thrown into the mix are levels that have you find a football, and bring it back to the uprights at the other end of the stage, given objects which you’ll need to destroy before being taken out by the level’s enemies, boss battles, and more, making for a nice variety of gameplay throughout the campaign. Also included is an Extra Levels Mode, which contains 6 especially challenging stages with either ‘kill every enemy’ or ‘destroy this object’ objectives.
As you start blasting away at the environments, which are all completely destructible, various power-up boxes will appear randomly, before the environment starts rebuilding itself. These items can either boost up your shot, change your shot, give you extra defense, or be a total pain in the butt. Ranging from super big missiles, to shooting various sports balls and from missiles that drop straight down to a ‘bang’ flag that does absolutely no damage at all, and more, learning what boxes to pick up and which ones to avoid is extremely important, especially when trying to ‘3 Rocket’ (rockets are in place of stars for the level rankings, dependant on how long it takes you, how many shots you fire and how much of the environment you destroy) each stage.
The graphics stand out as being a highlight of the game. 8-bit stylized pixels are put together in a 2.5D-like environment, with a modern look. It’s something I’ve yet to see done in an iOS game, or any other console game for that matter. The animations for explosions fill the screen with small pixels, making for some very hectic feeling gameplay. The music and sound effects also add to this quite a bit, giving the game a great arcade look and feel.
GameCenter is supported, including 9 separate leader boards; Total Points, Pirate Levels, Warehouse Levels, Army Levels, Chips Levels, Mansion Levels, Lab Levels, Space Levels and Bonus Levels, along with 12 achievements, which will take even the most hardcore gamers quite a while to unlock (Shoot every type of enemy at least once, shoot 20 enemies in 60 seconds, get 50 long shots, destroy 1,000,000 blocks and more). With it’s content, polish, and the incredibly entertaining gameplay, it feels perfectly priced at $2.99. Being Universal helps out with that as well. Granted, it is a Chillingo publication, and from the long period of games that haven’t been updated since their release, it’s still a great game, with no bugs that I’ve come across, and basically endless replay value, especially if you want to try and better your times in the extra levels, or compete for better scores on the leaderboards. Rocket Riot is definitely a hidden gem that you’ll want to snag if you’re a fan of Dual-Stick Shooters, Arcade/Arena Score Chasing titles, or a fan of XBLA ports (I know you’re out there! I’m one of you…).
Our second Review Rewind spotlights the great little retro platformer Bloo Kid. Developed by Eiswuxe, Bloo Kid started off as an Android title, but found it’s way over to the AppStore, and I, for one, and definitely glad that it did. With a great challenge and 84 levels, it’s still a game that can be found on my iPod, and that I occasionally play whenever I’ve got a couple minutes to spare. The bite-sized levels make for great jump-in-and-play-for-a-minute gameplay, but it still provides enough challenge that you can sit there and all of a sudden realize that a good hour has gone by. Old-school fans, and platformer fans looking for another under-rated gem need look no further. Bloo Kid is where it’s at.
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.0.
Bloo Kid is the first game for the iOS by Eiswuxe. It’s a platformer, soit’s a risky first game, but Eiswuxe has pulled it off almost flawlessly. You play as Bloo Kid, who is trying to rescue his girlfriend from the evil Wizard. You’re given 60 levels through 5 different worlds. Each level is the size of the screen, so don’t expect any side-scrolling goodness. But to avoid clutter, the developer has made it so that enemies spawn in different places of the levels, giving you waves of enemies to defeat before you complete the level. In each level, you can get 3 stars. One star for beating the level, another for collecting the star that shows up at the end of the level, and lastly, for making it through the level without taking any damage.
With platformers, controls and physics are huge. If you can’t nail those, then your game will pretty much tank. Eiswuxe has done an amazing job here making the physics and controls work great. The controls are nice and tight, you don’t need to lift your thumb up to change directions, and the jump button is very responsive, and how high you jump is directly related to how long you hold on the jump button. The buttons are also placed very well, and are just the right size. The physics are great. The game doesn’t feel floaty or weighed down at all, which is always very nice to see. It makes the game feel like a game that’s meant to be played instead of a game that’s meant to be fiddled with, struggling with the controls the whole way through.
World 1 stars out pretty bland, but it’s designed for you to get a real grasp on the levels and how the game works. Eiswuxe decided to make the first world available in the lite version, which might have been a mistake, because most of the interesting gameplay comes after the first world. World 2 gets more difficult, and way more interesting, as you’re faced with enemies that throw objects at you, more platforms that move and take you to other parts of the level, bouncing spikes that you need to avoid, dashing enemies, enemies that you need to jump on in order to make it to other parts of the level, and enemies that need to be jumped on more than once in order to kill them.
From here on, there’s not too many new enemies, but you will facemore and different ones as you progress. The level design as you go along gets better and better as well, and level design in a one-screen platformer is very important. But just like the controls and physics, Eiswuxe has pulled it off almost flawlessly. There are a couple of areas that it’s impossible to jump over spikes without an enemy being there, and a couple levels where the star is placed in an area where you’d need to jump on the last enemy in order to get there before the star shows up. You are given 5 hearts in each level, but having the stages set up this way just adds to the difficulty, and if you’re really worried about getting 3 stars on each of the 60 levels, this adds to the re-playability of the game.
At the end of each world, you’re faced by a boss, who takes 6 hits to kill. Each of the bosses has a special attack that you’ll need to figure out in order to survive the battle. Also, at the beginning of each world, you’re given a little clip of your girlfriend being taken to the next area where you’ll be playing. The animations in Bloo Kid are done very well, even when you stop running your character starts to take deep breaths. It’s got a cute factor to it, but it’s a game with difficulty for sure. Especially if you’re trying to get all the stars. Making it through some of the levels without taking damage might take you multiple tries, but each time you screw up, you’re going to end up cussing yourself, and not the controls or game. The retro graphics are fitting, as it’s a game that reminds me of older NES games with it’s frustration level, and difficulty, and that just draws me to it even more.
For their first game in the AppStore, Eiswuxe has shown that even though they’re new, they can make a professional game with top notch controls and physics, along with wonderful level design. You can check out the lite version in the AppStore, but it only contains the first world, which isn’t a very good representation of the entire game. I almost skipped out on this one because of the lite version, and it would have been a mistake on my end. But the lite version will give you a feel for the game, and let you check out the controls, physics, and first world level design for yourself. I’m giving Bloo Kid 4.5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to all platformer fans. It could be a 5/5 game if it had online leaderboards, achievements, and some power-ups thrown in, but it’s definitely a game that you will play all the way through, and then most likely end up going back to just to try and get most or all of the stars. For $0.99, it’s a wonderful game.
I am constantly amazed by iOS games. Whenever I even so much as start to think that there’s nowhere else for games to go, WHAM. I find myself in the midst of an original and unique type of game that I’ve yet to see in the AppStore, and it’s almost always by an indie developer I’ve never heard of prior to that release. Well, here it is again, another awesome surprise from a new-to-the-iOS-scene, Spencer Cordes first foray into the AppStore, Tread of the Dead. Ready for another surprise? It’s a zombie game. Yeah, that’s not the surprise. It’s a zombie game, and I’m not sitting here wishing it wasn’t. SURPRISE.
Tread of the Dead is a tilt-based survival game that focuses more on quick thinking and puzzle solving than actual zombie killing and survival. Each stage gives you 3 different weapons to fling at the oncoming zombies, and your goal is to guide these weapons into the various patterns of zombies, slicing each of them in half before you run out of your available gear.
Starting off, you’re only given chainsaws, which are able to take care of the first patterns, and usually in one go, but as you progress through the game, and the zombie’s patterns get more complex, some swift and skillful tilting will be required in order to destroy all of the zombies. Then you’re given another weapon. Shuriken. These nifty little ninja stars are able to either stay locked together as one zombie killing weapon, or split up into 3 equally separated stars preformed by tapping anywhere on the screen. Pulling this off just right can slice up tightly nit zombies while transforming from one to three stars, but only if timed just right. As you progress even further, you’ll unlock pipe bombs, zombies with bombs strapped to their chests, direction changing machetes and more will help you take out the crazy amount of zombies in even crazier patterns as well as some incredibly tough boss battles. Another fantastic thing that’s been thrown in for good measure is the between-worlds ride where you’ll get a environment specific vehicle to mow down road fairing zombies as you move on to your next location.
As if that weren’t enough, Tread of the Dead also contains 4 additional gameplay modes, with one being unlocked every time you complete a world in Adventure Mode. These 4 additional modes? Arcade, where you’ll be armed with a never-ending supply of chainsaws to take out an endless amount of zombies. Once a zombie reaches you, it’s game over. Infinisaw lets you tilt a never stopping chainsaw into an endless mass of zombies as a timer runs down. Here, for each large combo you get, more time will be added to the timer. Once it runs out, that’s it. There’s also Vehicular Mode, which lets you chase down zombies while avoiding objects. Gas is given to you for building up large combos, and once you run out of gas, game over. The last mode is Zombified, where you get to take control of a zombie, and play an endless distance game, avoiding all of the objects that come flying your way.
The graphics and animations are well done, though they are reminiscent of many other Doodle games, they aren’t really cheap looking, but graphics are not this game’s strong suit. However, the animations are great, with nice deaths and cheesy explosions, it’s hard not to laugh, and be drawn into the gameplay even more. GameCenter integration is also included, with leaderboards for each of the Adventure Mode’s 4 Worlds, your Total Adventure Mode Score, and for each of the 4 other gameplay modes as well as 38 great achievements. Tread of the Dead also contains a great in-game stat section where you can check out loads of different stats, and a skin menu, where you can change the colors of all of your weapons once you kill a certain amount of zombies, giving the game even more added replay value.
Priced at $0.99, being Universal, and with the incredible amount of content, as well as the crazy high replay value, Tread of the Dead is a great buy. Developer Spencer Cordes has also stated that more content is on the way, as well as touch screen controls so that iPad gamers won’t have to deal with the sore wrists that come with tilting your device for long periods of time. There’s also a lite version if you’re still on the fence after reading this, and checking out the trailer. I, for one, definitely hope to see more games come out of Mr. Cordes head. There’s obviously some incredibly good ideas bouncing around up there.
Alrighty, I’d like to welcome everyone to The App Shack’s first ever Review Rewind, a new section of TAS that will spotlight reviews that were posted exactly one year ago, but only for games that are still on our devices today. Our very first Review Rewind is Newtype K.K.’s fantastic Aerial Combat title, Fractal Combat. One year ago today, I was first exposed to this amazing game. Since then, it’s gone through 6 updates, and quite a few changes and tweaks, making the game better each time. It’s made its way onto our Writer’s Favorites list as my very own #10 favorite iOS game ever, and we also gave out 5 promo codes for it over the last week during our Big Ass Promo Code Giveaway, but if you don’t have it yet, it’s definitely one iOS title you need to own. Here it is; Fractal Combat.
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.0.
Fractal Combat is a new aerial combat game from NewType K.K. It’s also their first offering to the AppStore, but it sure doesn’t show in their presentation. Fractal Combat is a very polished, top notch aerial combat game. The fractal graphics are wonderful, the music is great, and the controls are user interface are phenomenal. I really was not expecting what I got out of this game. The animations of the exploding enemies, along with the flaming bits of wreckage you see after the explosion is great. You rarely find this much attention to detail within games like this on the iOS, and seeing that it can be done, and done very well, might make you start to think less of all the other aerial combat games in the AppStore.
You’re given 10 missions throughout each of the 7 different landscapes, that‘s a whopping 70 missions. Each of the missions it’s your job to take out the targets, highlighted in red on the map. While you’re going after the targets, you’ll be bombarded by enemies that show up on the radar as yellow triangles. Each time you blow an enemy up, they leave behind some energy which if collected, gives you some shield. If you have no shield power, your armor, which is pretty much health, gets knocked down with each hit. Once you have no armor, you’re dead, and need to start at the beginning of the mission. If you happen to succeed in the mission, you’re awarded with a rating of 1 to 3 stars, along with credits which you can use to buy better weapons, generators, radars and even new ships in the garage. There’s 5 ships total that you can unlock by progressing through the game, and then buy. Each has stronger armor, more shield capacity, and a different flight mode, or way of flying. For instance, you start off with a ship that has thrusters for flight, and the next ship up that you can buy uses magnetic rotors. There’s 7 different weapons, each with different speed, range, damage, and other attributes. 3 different radars, and 5 different generators. There’s slots in the game to have 6 profiles, so you can play the game on a device that’s shared between friends or family, and not end up playing each others games, or you can just start from scratch, and re-organize how you set up your weapons and which ships you buy.
You are given two choices of control options, a joystick which you can have on the left or right hand side of the screen, or you can use your devices accelerometer, and tilt while you play. You can also set the sensitivity, angle of accelerometer, and put the throttle on the left or right side of the screen. Fire buttons are on both the left and right hand sides of the bottom of the screen if you decide to use tilt controls, and on the opposite side of the screen of the joystick, if you decide to use that control method. However, you are not able to change the Y direction, so pressing up on the control pad makes you go down, and pressing down makes you go up. Which is not the case for tilt controls, tilting the top of your iPod towards you makes the ship go up, and away from you to go down. This set up is a tad weird, but manageable if you’re use to default settings in most aerial combat games. You can also change the music and fx volume, which is always a nice option, and there is, of course, a reset to default option, just in case you end up screwing everything up and want to start from scratch. All-n-all, there’s quite a bit of customization going on in the options menu. But I think an option to turn the HUD display on or off would have been a good idea too, as it can seem kind of crowded on the screen, but not in a way that distracts from the gameplay.
The only real thing I think this game is missing is another mode, or a story. I know it’s not easy to create a story for a game, and it’s pretty much pointless to just cram a story into a game just for the hell of it, but if Fractal Combat had a story to go along with the missions, like why you’re fighting these ships, why they’re you’re enemies, something so that you know WHY, it would make this game a lot better. That, along with a survival mode, where you could take your fully equipped ship into a battle that only ended when you got shot down, would make this an even more amazing game. But with what it has now, Fractal Combat is still worthy of 4.5 out of 5 stars, and comes along with a strong recommendation from me. Anyone who’s into aerial combat, flight sims, or just action and arcade games in general should check this out one, it’s a game that you will never regret buying. It’s universal, and only $1.99.
One of the most successful development studios to ever hit the AppStore is, without a doubt, Gameloft. With over 100 iOS titles, and a $164 MILLION revenue, it’s hard to dispute that. Whether you hate or love em, they know what they’re doing, and have created some amazing titles. One of their most well-known and loved series has to be N.O.V.A. (Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance), releasing the 3rd title in the series earlier this year, this ‘Halo-Clone’ is one of the most popular games in the AppStore. The first N.O.V.A. won IGN’s Best Action Game of the Year, won Pocket Gamer’s Gold Award, and was praised by just about every review site known to the iOS gaming community. A year later, N.O.V.A. 2 – The Hero Rises Again, again won Pocket Gamer’s Gold Award, and was praised even more than the first. A year and a half after N.O.V.A. 2 hit, it was again time for Kal Warden to battle it out, this time, on Earth, in N.O.V.A. 3.
Like the previous N.O.V.A. titles, N.O.V.A. 3 has both a single player campaign mode, as well as a multiplayer mode (both online and local wi-fi). The single player story mode contains 10 huge levels with about 6-8 hours of gameplay. Like the previous titles, the difficulty ramps up as you progress through the game at a pretty constant and manageable rate. Unfortunately, there are no separate difficulty settings like the previous 2 titles, though some might prefer this; you either can or can not beat the single player campaign, and beating it gives more a sense of completion, because you’ve gone through the exact same thing as everyone else.
So, you might be asking yourself; ‘That’s nice and all, but is there anything in the way of rewards if I completely kick the games butt?’ Gameloft has thought of that too. N.O.V.A. 3 contains an in-game store, where you’re able to spend currency to procure some pretty unique weapons. At the end of each level, you’re rewarded with this currency depending on how well you preformed throughout the stage. This is a great addition, even though you’re also able to purchase the currency through IAPs, the reward for doing good is there.
Now, what will really suck away most of your time is the online Multiplayer Mode. This time around, you’re able to have up to 12 players, which, for the iOS, is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, there are only 6 maps, but hopefully, like N.O.V.A. 2, more maps will be added in future updates. You are able to choose between 6 different gameplay modes; Free-For-All, Team Deathmatch, Freeze Tag, Capture The Flag, Capture The Point and InstaGib. You’re also able to set time and kill limits as well. Another aspect that makes the Multiplayer Mode great is that, for the first time, multiple players can jump into the same vehicle, allowing for loads of destruction.
Not into Online gameplay? Not to worry. N.O.V.A. 3, carrying on with the N.O.V.A. story, has got to be the best title in the series. The graphics have had a pretty big step up from the last two, and the game plays more like an actual console game. I was very impressed on several occasions while making my way through the game, and was even reminded of F.E.A.R. 3 more than once (maybe this had to do with the slow-motion sections, I’m not sure). It’s definitely one of the very few First-Person-Shooters on the iOS that’s going to be a blast playing through a second, or even third time. The animations are also a huge step up from the last two, with fantastic explosions, smooth movement, and nice death scenes.
Chances are, if you’re a fan of the genre, you’ve already picked this up. But on the off chance that you haven’t, you need to. N.O.V.A. 3 could very well be the best FPS available for the iDevice. Even though there are some issues, a lot of the Multiplayer problems have been fixed via the latest update (Version 1.0.1). There are pretty long loading times, though this is very understandable once you see what the game was loading, and there is some occasional slowdown during hectic gameplay, though nothing game-breaking, it’s worth noting. The online features do have some occasional lag, which results in players jumping around on screen, and some pretty nasty hit detection, but again, this is only occasional, and is not game-breaking. Like most online multiplayer games, there are issues to be worked out, as not every iDevice with every OS can be tested on, and things like how old your device is, how used it is, how much space you have, and your internet connection can all play parts in how a game runs on your device. But even with all of this being said; N.O.V.A. 3 is a blast, will only get better, and is highly recommended. Gameloft has once again provided a very well rounded FPS adventure. One that’s definitely worth experiencing.
Sci-fi adventure/aerial combat titles are a bit of a rarity in the AppStore. Galaxy on Fire, Dangerous, No Gravity, Warpgate and Star Battalion are basically it when it comes to the genre. Luckily, fans of the genre can rejoice once more, as InsurgentX Entertainment has added a new game into the mix; Acheron Prime, a sci-fi aerial combat RPG adventure title set in a dystopian future of Earth. Now, with the overall polish and larger studio that Fishlabs has (55 employees), it’s pretty clear that a game matching or out-shining Galaxy On Fire won’t happen any time soon, and I accepted that fact quite some time ago. So the real question is; Does Acheron Prime stand up as an aerial combat/sci-fi adventure title worthy of sinking hours and hours into? Well, hopefully you’ll be able to decide after reading this review.
Acheron Prime starts off in a rather beautiful and seemingly peaceful section of space in the year 2500. Of course, that silence ends very quickly, and you find yourself under attack. Here is where you’re introduced to Kirika, your main character, and LISA (Logistics Interface Strategic Analyzer), the AI construct within her brain, and a short gameplay tutorial. You’re given a joystick for movement, 3 buttons for ship control, and an accelerate/decelerate button. In the middle of the screen you’ll find your shield, hull health and speed + energy meters. You’re also able to rotate your ship by dragging your finger across the center of the screen.
After destroying the smaller fighters, a Mothership arrives, and you hyperdrive your way outta there. After a cut-scene, you’re taken to a major docking ship. Here, you get a little plot information, and learn the basics for maneuvering around within these areas. Seems you’re an Imperial Officer, yet the Mothership that came after you had Imperial Insignia on it. Looks like you’ve got a lot to figure out. But that’ll come later. You’re taken to the hanger to purchase a ship, and outfit it with a gun and radar. After unsuccessfully trying to get further away from the area, you start the main gaming session. Doing seemingly random small tasks to help get you where you need to go, find who you need to find, and learn what you need to learn.
The game is set up a lot like Galaxy on Fire, following the same basic outline. However, as you progress throughout the game, you’ll find out that Acheron Prime is more focused on the RPG elements and combat sessions rather than mining and trading. Traveling does seem to take a little longer, but there is a Fast Forward button that appears on screen for these sections, which really does help it not drag on. Another anti-GoF aspect is the world of Acheron Prime. Instead of spanning across an entire galaxy, Acheron Prime is limited to the Solar-System. This does help in regard to remembering areas, and knowing whereabouts you’ll be going when heading on missions.
Graphically, Acheron Prime doesn’t have all the flash and glamour that GoF contains, but it’s still very well designed. The space environments are beautiful, the ship designs are very well thought out, and every other object is wonderfully crafted. Animations are also very well done, with the explosions looking especially nice. Combined with some very energetic music, but not digging all the way into the techno genre, the effects and BGM do help add to the immersion of the game. The voice acting, like most iOS specific games, is a little cheesy, but I found it to be on the same level, if not better, than Galaxy on Fire’s voice acting, which is pretty impressive.
Also fairly impressive is the amount of content in the game. Apparently, the campaign is a full 40-50 OR MORE hours long. Combined with the outstanding gameplay, and really nice equip system, Acheron Prime really feels like a full blown major console game that’s been ported over to the iOS. If the voice acting was a little better, it could easily pass as a PS2 or XBOX title. The difficulty level is also something that separates it from other titles within the genre, as it will definitely give gamers a challenge.
Again, there won’t ever be another Galaxy on Fire, but it’s incredibly surprising that a 4 man team made a real contender for one of the best sci-fi adventure/aerial combat titles on the iOS. Being Universal and priced at $5.99, fans of the genre will not regret picking this up. Hopefully we’ll be able to see some add-ons like GoF, as I have the feeling I’m definitely going to want more after I complete the game. GameCenter is also supported, with 10 achievements that add some exploration aspects to the game. I did encounter one little issue; when I received a notification on my iPad 2 while playing, the sound cut out, and would not come back. Even after another loading screen. To get the sound and music back, I had to exit the game, and clear it from my multitasking bar, then restart it. Aside from that, I haven’t come across any issues. InsurgentX has definitely provided iOS gamers with a solid, console quality Space Adventure. It’s one that should not be missed, especially if you felt Galaxy on Fire lacked some RPG elements and needed more combat.
One of the best Real Time Strategy (RTS) games for the platform, Autumn Dynasty, has seen its first ever sale today (Thanks Bulkypix!) dropping its’ price from $6.99 to $2.99. Our ‘On Sale’ section is updated throughout the day with this information as well, but this game is just so awesome, I really wanted to alert you all as many places as I could!
I can’t say enough on how much this game rocks, and it has seen a few fabulous updates as of late which allows this game to be played as a casual pick-up and play, then save game, as well as game that you can sink massive amounts of time into. Something I still find myself doing, even with the plethora of new titles to the genre ever emerging. This is an iPad only game, but plays on all versions of the device.
Please check out our original review on this epic game for more information, or just do yourself favor if you are remotely interested in RTS games and hit that DL button!