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.
It’s no secret that The App Shack hasn’t been around for too long. If you’ve been following us recently, you might have noticed that we’re reaching back, reviewing older games that gamers might have missed, or that we weren’t around to review, as well as our new Review Rewind section, re-posting reviews for games that are still on our devices one year later. Well, another fantastic title that we didn’t get around to is Mobigame’s Perfect Cell. After Mobigame released EDGE, they were definitely a development team that many gamers had their eyes on, and like EDGE, Perfect Cell was something that iOS gamers had yet to see, and still has yet to be expanded upon since. It’s an amazingly unique game, and one that all iOS gamers should check out.
Perfect Cell is a Stealth-based Action Adventure title with quite a few puzzle elements thrown in for good measure. Taking place in the near future (2029), a meteorite came crashing to earth. Inside of it, scientists found a living lifeform. Able to regenerate and split itself in the blink of an eye, this lifeform’s special skills quickly became a danger to humans. Now trapped within a secret underwater facility, you’ll need to find your way through corridors, get through a hi-tech security system, and take out guards in order to escape.
Throughout the 35 Story Mode levels, spread across 5 worlds, you’ll be graded on how long it takes you to complete each stage, as well as how many humans you take out on your way to the exit. The environments are beautifully crafted, and with the latest update, are now optimized for the new iPad Retina Display, which just makes them even more outstanding.
The controls are simple, and explained as you make your way through the first couple levels. To move the cell, you just need to tap and hold on the screen where you want it to move to. Simple enough, right? It can also dash, which is used to break through glass, and take out the humans. This can be done either by swiping or double tapping in the direction you want to dash. There will also be parts of the game where you’ll need to split the cell in two, either to complete a puzzle, or to draw the attention of the guards so that you can sneak up behind them. This is done by touching two fingers on the cell, and spreading them apart. You’re able to split the cell into three pieces, each able to maneuver on their own via the regular movement controls. Another special ability the cell can perform is to disappear. Going invisible is done automatically by not touching the screen, and just letting your cell sit in one spot for a short period of time. The last move you’ll utilize throughout the game is a special drawn out attack. This is done by tapping on the cell and holding down for a second, and then dragging a line along a path that you want to quickly move through. Doing this, you’re able to blast through glass, and cut humans in half, as well as make it through some of the quicker environmental hazards you’ll wind up encountering.
Perfect Cell’s BGM and sound effects are top notch, adding to the atmosphere and feeling of the game, helping to draw you into the world. The graphics, as already stated, are fantastic, and on retina enabled devices, really pop. The human character models, however, are kind of pixilated, and with the rest of the graphics being smooth, this really stands out.
GameCenter support adds a bit of replay value to the game, with 2 leaderboards, one for ‘Time To Escape’ and another for your ‘Best Total Time’. 16 Achievements are included as well, but there aren’t many that will have you going back and replaying levels, as they can pretty much all be completed your first time through the game.
There are very few games in the AppStore that I believe screen shots do not do justice. Perfect Cell is one of them. The amazing Stealth/Infiltration based gameplay is full of action, and the puzzles are blended in seamlessly throughout the stages. Perfect Cell does have it’s flaws, but priced at $2.99 and being Universal, it’s definitely a game you won’t want to miss out on, and will not regret purchasing. Even after 2 years, it still holds up as being one of the most unique games you can have on your iDevice. The only thing I wish it had was a Challenge Mode, with separate leaderboards for each stage. Something like this, with time challenges, score challenges and more would add an incredible amount of replay value, as well as round the game out, making it feel complete. Right now, there is a bit of replay value, with the time limits, human deaths, and leaderboards on GC, but it still feels like it hasn’t reached it’s full potential. Being 2 years old, I doubt we’ll see anything new be added to the game, but it’s always nice to dream, right? Maybe we’ll see more if a Perfect Cell 2 ever hit’s the virtual shelves.
I’m realizing more and more that Real-Time Strategy is a sort of niche genre. Seems the difficulty keeps a lot of gamers from diving into it, which is a shame, because, well, for one, RTS titles are a perfect fit for the iOS, and two, there’s some extremely console quality depthy gameplay to be had. One prime example of this is Omni Systems first iOS release, Eufloria. Originally released back in February of this year, Eufloria was originally only released for the iPad, but with an update that hit Thursday, the HD version was made Universal, and alongside it, an iPhone/iPod only build was also released. Luckily, the HD build is compatible with the 3rd Generation iPod Touch and up, so gamers who already own the HD version don’t need to double dip.
Starting it off, Eufloria has 3 different gameplay modes; Story Mode, Skirmish Mode and Dark Matter Mode. Story Mode includes 25 levels, and can be played on either Relaxed or Challenging difficulties. Skirmish Mode contains 8 separate arenas, and Dark Matter Mode lets you replay Story Mode levels on a harder difficulty, providing more of a challenge.
Granted, the words difficult and challenge have already been tossed around a couple times, but Eufloria is a fantastic title for newcomers to the Real-Time Strategy genre. Actually, I’d have to say that it’s probably one of the best, if not the best title for newcomers to start out with. The UI is fantastic, as the minimal graphics carry over to the controls, making it one of the simplest to control titles within the genre.
The goal of the game is to completely wipe out the opposition in each stage by taking over each asteroid that is, or can be, controlled by the enemy. To move your creatures, you’re able to either tap on the asteroid that they’re flying around, and then drag to the asteroid you want to attack, or you can tap on an asteroid, and use the icon at the bottom of the screen to enter movement mode, which lets you choose, by tapping, which asteroid you want to move to. Once you’ve got your destination selected, you’re able to alter how many creatures you send to that asteroid by dragging, counter-clockwise, in the green circle that appears. Then just hit ‘OK’. If you’d like to scout an asteroid before sending a massive amount of your creatures to it, there’s an icon at the bottom of the screen aptly named ‘X1’. This sends just one creature to the selected asteroid.
Once you have taken over an asteroid, you’re able to build trees, which sprout more creatures, or build defensive bomb type objects, by tapping on the icons at the bottom of the screen. You can also change the type of creatures that that asteroid produces by tapping on another icon, and altering the gauges for Strength, Speed and Energy. The last icon sends a beacon to another asteroid, sending all of your produced creatures straight to it.
Graphically, Eufloria is one of the more beautiful, atmospheric titles available in the AppStore. The minimal environments, matched with the fantastic ambient soundscapes create an incredibly immersive world, one that’s very easy to fall into while playing. Zooming in on the asteroids, you can watch the trees that produce your fleet grow, as well as see the bustling creatures. Zooming out leaves you with an expanded view of the environment, and little dots for your fleet. The animations are very well done, and with the amazingly simple user interface, it all fits together perfectly, and seamlessly, to create one hell of a great game.
Now that Eufloria HD is Universal, and has an iPod/iPhone only build, it’s very easy to recommend to all gamers, especially fans of the RTS genre, but even for gamers that aren’t really into strategy games. It provides a fantastic gameplay experience, and ranges from casual to hardcore, with basically endless replay value. Being one of the best RTS titles available, on any gaming platform, $4.99 for the Universal build, and $2.99 for the iPhone version is a steal. With GameCenter integration sporting 20 achievements and iCloud support, along with more levels and a new game mode or two promised with future updates, it’s definitely a game worth picking up and supporting. Here’s hoping online skirmish battles will be part of the promised updates, because right now, that really seems to be all that Eufloria is missing.
Earlier in the week, we reviewed a new Chillingo title, Chimpact. In that review, we kind of noted a couple of complaints about previous Chillingo titles, and their lack of updates and support. But recently, I’ve been chatting it up with a couple of developers who have had their games published by the big name company, and it really looks like our complaints might just be a thing of the past. Hopefully.
Chimpact, Orc: Vengeance, Jelly Jumpers, Catapult King, Eager Beavers, and more are recent releases that have either already received updates, or have updates in the works, which is fantastic news for gamers, and Chillingo. Hoping to add to the revival of this tradition is KIZ Studios, offering up their first iOS title, Critter Escape.
The first thing that drew me to Critter Escape wasn’t the screen shots, or the game’s description. It wasn’t word of mouth, that it’s a Chillingo publication (meaning that it was most likely going to be a very well made, and nicely polished title), or even the trailer for Critter Escape. Nope, what drew me to the game was the development team. KIZ Studio has a great little section on their Official Website detailing not only their History, but also their studio’s Values. In this section, they list some pretty impressive traits that was what really piqued my interest in Critter Escape. Not only do I have faith that Critter Escape is going to get updates, and be tweaked to become the best possible game KIZ can make it, but they’re a development studio that I have no problems in wanting to support.
Now, Critter Escape. Critter Escape is a sort of stealth influenced action/arcade adventure title that puts you in control of a cute little creature that kind of looks like a bean with arms, legs, and a face. Of course, completing the look is his spiffy crash test helmet. When you start the game up, you’ll be able to watch a cut-scene showing you how this little critter was captured by a scientific team in order to perform various tests on him. Before you start the first level, you’ll see another cut-scene showing the critter cuddled up in bed, sucking his thumb, and looking incredibly worried about his future.
Luckily, the scientists forgot to pick up every chemical agent, and you’re able to use these to your advantage. Items that turn you into a huge monster, able to smash your way through guards, speed boosters that let you zip by and away from guards and ghost pick ups, turning you invisible and a superhero pick up that gives you super speed and strength can all be found scattered throughout the world of Critter Escape. While you’re playing, you’re also able to collect, and will earn gems which you can use to purchase these power-ups from the pause menu. When purchased, instead of only taking effect for a short period of time, the pause menu items last the entire level. So if you’re having trouble with a certain level, you’re able to blast through it by purchasing these power-ups. You’re also able to purchase gems through IAP, but these are not required to complete the game, or to unlock any specific levels, as everything can be seen, experienced and completed without the gems.
Each of the levels fits into different objective categories. They are grouped together, with about 4 levels in each group. These range from not being detected, escaping the level before the timer runs out, knocking out all of the guards, rescuing other critters, escaping without using any special items and more. With 120 levels, there are more than just a couple of these objectives. There are also 10 separate environments, adding to the look, feel and immersion of the gameplay.
Critter Escape contains two different control schemes. One is a virtual joystick that appears whenever and wherever you set your finger down on the screen, and the other is a line drawing scheme. I have had some issues with the joystick controls, as they’re pretty finicky, and I’ve constantly found myself needing to readjust my thumb on the screen, and if you’re controlling your character, and accidentally touch the screen with another finger, or the side of your hand, the controls stick until you pick your finger up again. The line drawing controls work a lot better, but aren’t really quick enough for the speedy levels, when you’re being chased, or to avoid a lot of the environmental hazards. The controls are nothing game-breaking, but they could use some tweaks, and I wouldn’t say no to a static joystick.
Graphically, Critter Escape looks great. The character models, objects, and environments all provide a pretty immersive atmosphere, and with the great animations, the atmosphere is only increased. The various enemies and hazards all stand out, even though they graphically fit in perfectly with the environments, which is great, especially when speed running through the stages. The music and sound effects also add quite a bit to this atmosphere, and immersion, making it an extremely polished and well produced game.
Priced at $0.99, being Universal, including GameCenter integration with 36 great achievements and having iCloud support, even with the control issues, Critter Escape is an incredibly fun and entertaining game. It has the usual polish that most of Chillingo’s publications include, and comes from a fantastic development team. KIZ Studios is definitely one to keep an eye on, especially if they follow through with their values, and make Critter Escape the best it can be. Let’s hope this is a new beginning for Chillingo, because they really do publish some outstanding mobile titles.
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.
Tilt controlled platformers are a bit of a touchy subject, especially for hardcore fans of the platform genre. Fortunately, there are a couple of titles out there that use tilt controls, and do it exceptionally well, building the game around the controls, instead of building a game and throwing in tilt controls because they’re available; Crazy Hedgy, Bounce On and Hoggy are a couple titles that instantly come to mind. Well, now platformer fans can add one more title to that very short list. The brother-duo development team, 2 Ton Studio’s, who’ve, until now, been releasing games for the WP7 (originally though to be one of the iPhone’s most competitive devices, crashing soon after, they released Flying Heads, Akiak, and a title recently brought over to the iOS, NinjaBoy), have finally decided to spread their wings, and attack the AppStore bringing over the quick-level platformer, NinjaBoy.
Now, I will admit that when I first heard of NinjaBoy, I blew it off, and it was because of the controls. More often than not, I absolutely despise tilt controls in platformers, and with so few titles utilizing them and building their game around the controls, it’s pretty easy to say that 95% of tilt-based platformers are going to crash and burn. Fortunately, I’ve got some very pushy gamer friends who would not let up. Finally, I caved. And my iPod is all the better because of it.
NinjaBoy is the story of a fallen kingdom, and a harsh ruler. Tadeo, the character you’ll be controlling, and his master, Minoru, escaped the land, running to a forgotten temple to train until Tadeo is strong enough to battle Lord Hito and take back the kingdom.
2 Ton Studio’s has marked NinjaBoy as a puzzle-platformer. And it is, of sorts. Quick thinking and figuring out how to get through the screen-sized levels so that you can collect all 3 stars before hitting the exit can prove to be a bit of a challenge, especially after you make your way through the first set of levels.
Starting off, you’ll need to go through the Dojo, where you’ll go through 40 levels, learning the basics, and preparing yourself to enter The Kingdom. The Dojo is split up into 3 sections, the Lower, Mid and Upper levels. Each stage has a possible 3 star ranking, though not required to move on, this is where the core challenge is. In each stage, there are 3 stars which you can grab, and an exit. If you touch the exit before you collect all of the stars, the level ends, and you’ll need to replay it if you’re trying to get all 3 of the stars. Some levels also have a locked exit, and a key. In these levels, you’re able to pass through the level’s exit before you have the key, and still be able to carry on, collecting the rest of the objects in the level.
The levels are designed so that you’ll need to figure out the best way to collect all 3 stars, the key, and reach the exit in the quickest time possible. In the Lower level stages, you’ll learn the game’s basics, but as you move on into the Mid level stages, it starts to get a little more tricky. Here, you’ll start to encounter trip-wires and golems. If you touch the trip-wires, you’ll need to restart the level. Now, since one hazard isn’t really sufficient, you’ll also come across golems. These creatures kill you if you fall into their direct line of sight, so avoiding the front of them is essential for progressing through the stages. In the Upper level stages, it gets a little more tricky. Here, you’re exposed to different trip-wires. In the Mid level stages, the trip-wires were red, and killed you on impact. In the Upper level stages, you’ll come across blue and green trip-wires. Green wires let you fall down through them, while blue wires let you jump up through them. If you happen to go the wrong way through them, you’ll be killed. You are graded on how many stars you collect, the amount of time it takes you, and your efficiency. This is how you earn gold. The higher your grade, the more gold you’ll earn.
In the shop, you’re able to spend your earned gold on various items and costumes, all with different abilities and stat increases. Different outfits will give you different abilities; The red outfit will let you tap and hold while you’re jumping to slowly float downwards, while the green outfit boosts you back up if you happen to fall past the bottom of a room. Along with 3 other outfits, there are also charms which, when held, can give you a gold boost at the end of every level, and potions, which let you bypass trip-wires and get past golems without being seen.
With tight controls, playing NinjaBoy on the iPhone/iPod Touch is a blast, and does provide a great challenge. However, even though the game is Universal, there are no other control options, so playing on the iPad can get kind of frustrating. With the constant tilting, your wrists are in for quite a workout. Though I’m not saying that I’d like to see virtual controls, because the game is built around the tilt scheme, I am saying that the game is a lot more comfortable for gameplay on the smaller devices. Priced at $0.99, and containing 80 levels, each with a possible 3 star ranking, there is quite a bit of content to play through. However, there is no GameCenter support, which does take away from the replay value, and the drive to play your best to unlock achievements. Hopefully GameCenter will be added in a future update, because I’d love to battle it out on some leaderboards, and see what extra challenges some achievements could add to the game. 2 Ton Studios has provided a really good tilt controlled platformer with NinjaBoy, and it’s very well developed. I’d love to see them bring more titles over to the iOS in the future, and will definitely be keeping my eyes on them from now on.
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!
Ports are always a pretty big deal in the iOS gaming world. The most recent port to hit the AppStore, Wizorb, is a mix between an old-school block-breaker and an RPG. Sound good? We thought so too. And so did thousands of PC/MAC gamers when the game was released on Steam and the Mac AppStore back in March. Since then, Tribute Games, a very small, 2 person studio, with roughly 10 years of development experience (working with Ubisoft, Eidos and Gameloft), has been figuring out the best way to port Wizorb over to the iOS. Well, last Thursday, it finally hit the AppStore, and the first ever brick-breaking RPG was made available for mobile devices around the world.
Wizorb starts off similar to other RPGs; After an introduction level, you’re taken to Tarot, a small town in the Kingdom of Gorudo, where you find out that a curse cast by demons has whipped out most of the town, and that monsters came from Gorudo castle, attacking the townspeople. Seems Cyrus, your badass wizard, is the only hope for Gorudo’s salvation. And here’s where you might start to get disappointed. The control scheme is horrid.
Starting off in the intro level, you’re able to see two buttons, labeled A and B in the lower right corner. During the block breaking segments, these are used to launch your ball, and to cast spells. To move your paddle left and right, you can drag anywhere on the screen. This isn’t so bad, especially on the smaller iPhone/iPod screen, but you might have some issues on the larger iPad screen, needing to constantly pick your finger up and re-drag it in order to move the paddle all the way across the screen, and the A and B buttons are fairly small, and have a pretty large dead zone, so you’ll constantly be missing the buttons. During the town sequences, movement is done by touching in the direction you want to go. So to move upwards, you’ll need to touch above your wizard, left, on the left side of the screen, ect. Again, this isn’t too much of a problem on the smaller iPhone screen, but on the iPad, it’s a real pain, and you’ll wind up blocking a lot of the gameplay area. The collision detection in the towns areas doesn’t help movement much, as you’ll need to be completely clear of an object in order to get around it. This generally just makes things a little more frustrating.
Once you get out of the first town, you’ll be taken to the world map, where you can move on to the next town, and start the real brick-breaking gameplay. Here, as you destroy bricks, mana bottles, gems, extra lives, keys and coins will occasionally fall, depending on what color the bricks that you’re destroying are. Also thrown into the mix are evil monsters which you’ll need to destroy in order to complete the levels. Like most brick-breakers, if you can manage to get your ball stuck up above the bricks, you’ll be in for a smooth and easy ride, just needing to collect the items that fall down towards you. Also, learning how to control the ball is a very valuable asset. Hitting the ball in the center of your paddle will send it straight up, while hitting it on the edge will send it flying in that direction (left edge = ball goes to the left), and everywhere in-between sends it at a different angle. Getting this perfected will make the game a lot easier, while at the same time, provide another level of challenge to the gameplay.
Unfortunately, I have experienced quite a few drops in framerate, and some lag, especially in levels that are packed with bricks. In a game that’s dependant on quick movement and reflexes, this can be a real downer. Another issue I’ve experienced is having buttons get ‘stuck’. Occationally, if I hit the A, or launch ball, button before the wizard completely changes into the paddle, the game will read the A button as being held down, and I won’t be able to launch the ball. The only way to fix this is to quit and restart.
Another complaint that others have had is that the game only takes up ¾ of the screen. The developers have said that this is because re-sizing the game to fit the iDevice’s screen caused the gameplay area to distort, and that they would have had to re-do all of the game’s artwork in order to have it display correctly. This has left a giant black bar on the bottom of the screen. Something to fill in this black bar would have been great. For instance, Cave’s games also do not necessarily fit the iDevice’s screen, so instead of having a large black bar around the gameplay area, they’ve included some nice artwork along the outside.
Now, even with all these issues, if you’re a huge fan of the original PC title, it’s nice to have the game available at any time and fit in your pocket. The town segments do not take a lot of time to get through, and the real meat of the game is, in fact, the brick-breaking gameplay. Again, a lot of the issues with the controls are not as prevalent on the smaller iPhone/iPod Touch screens, but on the iPad, can be very frustrating. Priced at $2.99, which is also the same price on Steam, you might want to check out the PC version that doesn’t have all of the touch-screen’s issues. But if you’re a huge fan of the brick-breaking genre, Wizorb has the potential to be another great title. However, you might want to hold off until a couple of updates have gone through, fixing the control issues and gameplay lag as well as the drops in framerate. Right now, it seems like the developers over at Tribute Games tried to spend as little as they could, and worked as fast as they could to port the game over to the iOS. Luckily, updates are a huge deal in the iOS gaming world, and all of this can be fixed and dealt with; if the developers care enough to put the time and effort into it.
Ever since the release of CrimsonHeart, RPG fans have been looking for the next title to live up to the very high standards set by ANBSoft’s amazing title. Now, I won’t lie. Not one Action RPG title has made me come close to thinking of CrimsonHeart since. Until now. Playbean’s Master of Dungeon. What first brought on the memories of CrimsonHeart? The 360 degree movement. Yup, that’s really all it took. Once you play an Action RPG with 360 degree movement, all others seem stiff, and Playbean has nailed the movement, controls, and camera angles perfectly. The only question remaining; Does the rest of the game live up to the criteria of Crimsonheart?
Master of Dungeon is a story about a place called World Tree. Light and Food is scarce, but the people of the land follow and believe in the Prophet, willing to do anything to please her. The English translation is pretty bad, and this isn’t helped by the text being broken up across lines (what a kawinkidink, just like CrimsonHeart!), but it’s understandable, and I never found myself at a loss for words not knowing what was going on in the story. Once you start you’re able to pick your class; Warrior, who has a strong physical attack with fencing skills and sword spheres, Assassin, who specializes in fist combat and is great when luck skills are increased, helping him find gold and rare item drops easier than the other classes, and the Wizard, who specializes in magic attacks and skills, and is better used at medium range instead of up close and personal.
Each different class has a different skill tree, and these skill trees are pretty extensive, offering up numerous skills to use and expand on, helping you immensely throughout the game. The skills you wind up choosing will play a major roll, effecting combat, and guiding how you control your characters from the beginning of the game. Unfortunately, the combat is not equal to CrimsonHearts. Running into a swarm of enemies and hacking and slashing your way through them will not severely drain your HP, or effectively kill you. Instead, mob management plays a roll, guiding enemies into large groups so that you can easily take them all out at once. This does, however, bring down the amount of grinding needed in order to level up, and because you’ll be leveling up fairly often, you will be spending quite a bit of time managing your skill tree.
Master of Dungeon is set up so that you’ll constantly be visiting your tiny town in-between missions, talking to the townsfolk, progressing in the story, and starting new quests. Once you have your quests, there’s one exit out of the town, and it’s straight into a dungeon. When you start, you’re only able to go into one area of the dungeon, but as you progress, more areas will be opened, and you’ll be able to transport your character to these places directly, making it easier to navigate through the seemingly endless corridors of the world. Unfortunately, there’s not much in the way of environmental changes, which does have a pretty big impact on the game. Visiting essentially the same areas over and over again filled with different enemies does get a little boring after a while.
The graphics and animations are reminiscent of CrimsonHeart, though not as extravagant, the attacking animations do contain a lot of flare, and utilizing the strengths of each class, they really do make you feel like a badass. The movement, death, and re-appearing animations are also well done, also having animations for various impacts like confusion, poison, and more, making the gameplay pretty flashy. Along with the great music and sound effects, it does create a fairly immersive gameplay experience.
Priced at $3.99, and being Universal, it’s not a bad game by any means, and fans of the genre will love the 360 degree movement. It is better than CrimsonHeart? No. Not really. Is it better than most of the other Action RPGs out there? Yes. Yes it is. The 360 degree movement makes a huge difference in the gameplay, and even though it’s not equal to CrimsonHeart, I don’t think players want another game that’s exactly like CH, and I’m pretty sure Playbean knows this. There’s enough similarities to keep fans of CrimsonHeart satisfied, entertained, and hooked on the game, while also having enough differences to not be just a copy. Playbean has done a fantastic job here, and with a couple tweaks, it could rank right up there with CrimsonHeart as one of the best Action RPGs available in the AppStore.