Online Multiplayer fans should be in heaven right now, especially when it comes to Asynchronous play. Last week, the releases of Outwitters and Summoner Wars (and Left2Die for the non-async MP gameplay), and now this week, with the release of Ayopa and F5’s Pocket Heroes, an RPG title with Roguelike influenced gameplay has hit the virtual shelves, and servers are loaded!
Starting it up, I was pretty surprised to see that Pocket Heroes has no single player campaign. Not that I was expecting it, but I’ve never had the privilege of playing an Asynchronous MP only RPG title, but with the versatility of the iDevice, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing more and more of these MP-async titles popping up.
You’re able to start a game with up to 3 other players through either your GameCenter friend’s list, or through e-mail. With 4 different classes to choose from, you’re able to put together quite a team. Once you actually start the game, your first quest is a fairly simple one, and acts more like a tutorial phase. You’ll learn how to target enemies, how to move, where you can move to, and how the upgrade system works.
Upgrading is done automatically, your stats increase with each level you gain, but you’re able to work your way down through the skill tree, getting a skill point which you can spend on an extra ability every other level upgrade. As you take out enemies, they’ll drop loot; coins and items. You are able to pick up items which you can’t equip, and drop them around your friends, so item hunting usually benefits all players involved. After each quest, of which there are 10 in each game, you’ll meet at a tavern. Here, you’re able to purchase items from the shop with the coins you’ve collected, and get ready for your next quest.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have any friends who own the game, and can’t strategize before-hand, there is a chat area at the top of the screen which lets you co-ordinate attacks, and let the other players know what you’re doing, or what you hope they’ll do. This is also really nice for letting other gamers know if you’ll be gone for a while, or when you’ll be back. It’s really a nice little addition. Right now, as with most MP games that hit the stores, there are quite a few issues and bugs that couldn’t have been found during the beta testing. Some issues that I’ve run into; When I first started the app, I registered my name as ‘Syntheticvoid’ and couldn’t connect to the server. Thankfully, the developers at F5 were kind enough to help me out, look through their server log, and see that I had a capital letter in my name. Turns out I needed to register with ‘syntheticvoid’ in order to connect to the servers. Right now, there’s no random match-making, which could be a real deal-breaker for quite a few gamers. Denying and deleting games is not an option, so you have the potential to wind up with loads of unfinished, or un-joined games in your game log. There’s also no randomized quests. Even though the level generation is randomized, the 10 quests that you’ll go on in each game will always be the same.
With F5 being great right now at working with players and trying to make Pocket Heroes the best Async-MP RPG title it can be, and Ayopa being the publisher, with every single game under their belt having been updated quickly, and consistently, I have complete faith that Pocket Heroes will reach it’s true potential soon enough. Priced at $0.99, it’s easy to take the plunge, and experience gameplay that’s reminiscent of a Dungeon’s & Dragons session with friends. But if you’re hoping this is a full-fledged Action or Turn-Based RPG with hundreds of quests to do online, you’ll be pretty upset with the game. There are plenty of other titles that let you join in a world that’s pre-constructed and always alive. But if you’re looking for a close game with friends, Pocket Heroes is just the game you’re looking for, and it can only get better over time.
One of my favorite iOS games has got to be Hook Champ. The amount of content, the gameplay, the mechanics, controls, items, everything is just fantastic. But since, there hasn’t really been a game that comes close to the type of gameplay without feeling dull, stiff, or just no fun. Sweden based A Small Game’s most recent iOS title, Hanger, has changed that all around, matching gameplay reminiscent of the Hook titles, with the feeling of Karoshi.
Hanger is a game which has you controlling characters who are trying to use a rope to fling themselves through various environments, some seeming extremely strange, to get to the end of the stage while loosing the fewest amount of body parts they can. That’s right, legs, arms, torsos and loads of blood will go flying all over the stage while your characters are Tarzaning it through the levels.
There are two gameplay modes in Hanger, Levels, which is kind of a Story Mode, with little clip scenes at the beginning of each world, and Endless Mode, which, you guessed it, has you flinging your character as far as you can before they’re nothing more than an arm and head, or fall to their doom. Right now, there are only two worlds and 30 levels in Level Mode, but each level has a possible 3 star rating, which depends on how many ropes you use, the number of body parts you loose, and how many gems you can collect while going through the level. The base score is 50,000, and for each rope you use, 500 points is deducted, while each body part you loose deducts 1,000 points. The gems that you collect give you 200 points each, so you can either try and make your way through the stage by using the least amount of ropes, going quick, and praying to god that you don’t smack into a wall or whatever other strange object the environment is made out of, or you can go slow, and collect all of the gems, giving you a bigger bonus score at the end of the stage, or you can do a little bit of both, it’s really up to you.
The graphics are retro inspired, with stickman people, and very interesting backgrounds, all effecting the level’s names; for instance, in the level, ‘Party’, you’ll come across bottles of Champaign, laughing heads, fancy hands, and more, while the level titled ‘Forest’ will have you swinging from trees. Now, I’m not usually a fan of rag doll physics, but here, the physics in Hanger, are fantastic. Flinging your rag doll stick figure, always having a name, which is, by the way, a great addition to the game, through each of the levels looks and feels fantastic. A Small Game’s developers nailed the physics portion of Hanger. The controls are also spot on, with left/right arrows and a rope button, which you’ll press to detach your rope, and again to shoot your rope out.
Right now, priced at $0.99, it’s a fantastic buy. The price will go up soon to $1.99, which is still, a great price for this game. More worlds for Level Mode are in the works, but with Endless Mode, there’s loads of gameplay, as well as replayability. Also adding to the replay value, GameCenter’s 15 achievements and 6 different leaderboards, one for each Level Mode World’s total score, as well as one for each of the 4 separate Endless Mode levels. A couple things I would love to see added is an HD build, or an update to make the iPhone version Universal, as well as an option to move the controls around to where you’d like them on the screen; especially if the game becomes Universal or HD, as on the iPad, the buttons are kind of far inward. But still, I’ve been having a blast with Hanger, and really, can not recommend it enough, especially for fans of Hook Champ, Karoshi, and score-chasing games. I can see Hanger easily becoming a classic iOS game.
Endless games are a staple of the AppStore. Almost everyone has more than a handful of them, and even if you’re sick to death of all of the endless runner/climber/diver/jumper releases, chances are, there’s at least one or two (or ten) that will never leave your iDevice. Captain Antarctica, FDG’s newest release developed by Ideal Bureaucracy, might just wind up turning into one of those rare titles. At the moment, Captain Antarctica isn’t an Endless Runner, per say. It’s level based. But there is an endless mode coming in a future update.
You’ll control Captain Antarctica, a penguin who’s on a mission to save his family. After his wife and children were kidnapped, Captain Antarctica decided to team up with a wacky scientist who’s invented an underwater jetpack suitable for a penguin to wear. Now it’s up to you to make your way through 6 different levels, each with a boss battle at the end, and manage to save your wife and kids.
Captain Antarctica is a diver. You’ll need to dive down into the depths of the ocean in order to defeat each level’s boss, and move onto the next one. Fortunately, these 6 levels will take multiple replays in order to beat the bosses. Each time you make it through the stage and down to the boss, you’ll be able to attack him once, knocking off a piece of armor, or injuring him. Also adding to the amount of times you’ll play through each level are objectives. These objectives help you earn coins which you can use to upgrade and buy equipment in the shop.
There are IAPs included in the game, but these are, like most games, only if you’d like to outfit your character with all of the best gear right when you get the game, or want to show your support for the developer, sending them a couple extra bucks.
In the shop, you’ll be able to purchase Utilities, including extra health, a better flashlight so that you can see better in the deep dark ocean, rescue buttons, which let you stay alive if you run out of health, and rush kits, which torpedo you down at light-speed. Bonus items are also available to be upgraded. You can increase your booster, upgrade your magnet, get a better shield, or upgrade your portal gun. There’s also cosmetic upgrades for your jet, you can purchase a trash can, flower, fruit, smiley, Soviet and more jets. Unfortunately, none of the jets increase your speed or agility, and are strictly cosmetic, though it would have been great if each of them had stats.
As you make your way through each level, you’ll be able to collect goldfish and various power-ups while avoiding the wall’s edges, sea urchins, fish, bombs, and other hazards. As you collect the goldfish, you’ll fill up your jet’s booster gauge, which will propel you down to the depths quicker once filled.
The graphics and animations are fairly polished, though having some better animations for when the penguin collides with objects, instead of just having him flash, and having explosions when you come into contact with bombs, would have been great. The comic strips however, look fantastic, and are one of the definite highlights of the game. The music and effects are a little cheesy, but they fit the game well.
Captain Antarctica is priced at $0.99 for the iPhone, and $1.99 for the iPad version. There’s not really a lot of content, but with the added objectives, and soon-to-come endless mode, it definitely has a chance of staying on your device for a while, especially if you’re interested in competing on the GameCenter Leaderboards for Total Coins Earned, and Total Distance Traveled. There’s also 32 achievements, adding quite a bit to the replay value. The addition of bosses at the end of the levels is great, and does kind of help the game stand out. However, not really being able to do battle with these bosses is a bit of a let-down. Having the penguin have to attack certain spots at a certain time would have been awesome. But there’s still enough here to keep endless gamer fans happy, and playing until they complete the game 100%. It’s definitely another nice FDG release. I can’t wait to see what they publish next.
Shmups have really seemed to expand outwards and spawn some new and interesting genres, especially since the introduction of the AppStore. Dodging games like FlipShip, Tilt To Live and Silverfish; Dual-Stick exploration like Isotope and Inferno; Survival games like ElectroMaster, even the endless genre has been touched resulting in games like Hypership Out Of Control and the wave-based Enborn-X.
Taking a page out of ElectroMaster’s book, and expanding even more on it, 2dgames.jp has recently released their bullet hell survival/dodger, Tameuchi.
Tameuchi is a bit strange, well, it’s not very surprising that it’s a bit strange, it’s created by Japanese developers who obviously have a taste for the cute and out of the box thinking. You control a little girl up against wave after wave of purple jelly looking creatures, milkboxes, pudding, and more who all seem to have a wide array of bullets and projectiles all ready to take you out. The good news is, you’ve got an endless supply of bullets, can fly, have proper shielding, can level up, and are able to regain health by collecting bananas.
The controls, like most iOS games, are fairly simple. To move, you just need to touch down anywhere on the screen, and drag your finger in the direction you’d like to move. While you’re doing this, you’ll be charging up your bullets. Once you let your finger off of the screen, your bullets will be released, and the carnage will begin.
As you collect green and yellow bananas, your projectile charge bar, and health will be regenerated, you’ll also be able to level up as you progress throughout the game, killing everything in sight. Once you level up, your charge gauge will get bigger, and your projectiles will get stronger, being able to take out more and more of the ever increasing onslaught of enemies. As your rank goes up, the enemies will get stronger, and more of them will attack you all at once. Their bullet patterns will also get more complex. What really helps out, is that while you’re charging your bullets, you’re able to suck up some of the smaller bullets with your charge shield. However, you can only absorb a certain amount before you wind up taking damage. Also working in your favor, once you defeat the milk carton, or pudding, all of the bullets on the screen turn into collectible bananas.
Priced at $0.99, it’s a fantastic game to pick up if you’re a fan of the slightly weird Japanese gaming culture, or are into dodging/bullet hell titles. The only bad things I can say about the game is that there is only one game mode, it’s not Universal, though, the game still looks great in 2X mode, and there’s absolutely no leaderboards. That’s right, not even local boards, it does save your highest score, which is a plus, but nothing else. GameCenter integration, as well as more modes would make Tameuchi one hell of a game. But for 2dgames.jp first at bat within the AppStore, they’ve hit, at the very least, an inside-the-park homerun.
It’s always great seeing something new and unique hit the AppStore. With so many new developers that have hit the AppStore over the last 4 or so years, it’s incredible that there are developers out there that have ideas that haven’t been done or taken advantage of yet. That’s the case with Jorge Hernandez’s Astronaut Spacewalk, an astronaut simulation title that has you move and control an astronaut around a spaceship right above the earth’s atmosphere.
The first thing you might notice when starting up the game is the detailed controls. Going through the operation manual is something you really should do before you start playing. The controls are unlike anything I’ve experienced on the iOS as of yet. You’re given buttons which will move you up, down, forward, back, left, right, rotate you right, left, strife right, left, rotate you forward and back, and controls that will move the camera around you, however, they aren’t your typical virtual controls. On the left side of the screen, you’re given your basic movement buttons, and on the right you have your rotating, and the center of the screen controls your camera. It does take a little fidgeting around before you get comfortable with them, but once you do, the controls are perfect for the game.
Starting off, you’ll need to guide the astronaut to various spots around the shuttle. You have a certain amount of boosters, and re-aligning energy, as well as a set amount of oxygen. If you can’t make it to all of the checkpoints around the ship with the given amount of energy and oxygen, you’ll need to start from scratch. There are also set boundaries around the shuttle, and if you leave them, you’ll need to restart as well, so no making your way from the shuttle to the moon, or re-entering the atmosphere in your suit. There are some glitches that occur if you manage to collide with the ship, and keep going forward, you can wind up getting stuck inside of the ship, unable to make your way out, but this really only happens if you’re trying to make it happen.
After the first mission, you’ll be faced with objectives that generally have you moving from one area to another, and staying there while something is fixed, attached, or checked out. You will need to align the astronaut in the correct positioning in order for this to happen, which can get quite challenging. Even further on, you’ll be making your way to satellites, space stations, and more.
The graphics are definitely a highlight within the game, with the Earth, Shuttle, Astronaut, and space debris very detailed. Combined with the controls, physics, inertia, and basic gameplay, Astronaut Spacewalk becomes a very immersive experience. Something that also helps is the music and effects, as well as the constant background NASA chatter. Astronaut Spacewalk is really less of a game, and more of a challenging experience. Each of the 20 Missions provides unique tasks which you must complete before you run out of air and power.
Having a launching price of $3.99, it’s a fantastic simulation title to pick up if you’re interested in something new and unique, and are up for a challenge. I can’t really see the gameplay appealing to a wide audience, but hopefully it does. With more and more people becoming interested in space and NASA, now seems like a perfect time for a game like this to hit the AppStore, but with so many casual gamers, it’ll be a hard sell. Being made only for the iPhone is another thing that will most likely keep people from purchasing it, but if you’re willing to play in 2X mode, with a little bit of pixilation, or just have an iPod/iPhone, it’s definitely a game you should check out. I can’t wait to see what Mr. Hernandez has in store for future games on the platform. Here’s hoping this is only the beginning.
I’m generally not too big a fan of racers on the iOS. Even on console platforms, racers have almost always seemed a little dull after getting addicted to Kinetica on the PS2, and wasting a good 200+ hours of my life playing it. But there are a few that have that special spark that makes them stand out above the crowd. QuBIT, Protoxide, jAggy Race… and now I can add one more racing title to that very small list of mine; AXL: Full Boost, developed by SpinVector, an Italy based, 15-person studio who’ve won numerous awards. Now developing titles for the iOS, AXL: Full Boost is their second iOS title, the first being the award-winning BANG! With 10+ years of experience under the belt, it’s no surprise that at first glance, AXL looks amazing. But, as with other games that look amazing, the gameplay that lies underneath all the special glitz and glamour can make or break the game.
Using technology developed by another Italian company, Raylight, AXL: Full Boost stands out by including orbs into the racing. These orbs can either be used to boost your racer, reaching insane speeds, or you can use them to take advantage of power-ups found throughout the tracks. The catch is, when you use these orbs, they’re left behind you, giving your opponents the opportunity to pick them up, and use them themselves, adding an extra little layer of strategy to the gameplay.
The technology also allows for Quick-Time Events. This is used for very sharp turns within the game. Whenever a sharp turn is coming up, an icon appears on the center of the screen, letting you know which direction you’ll be turning. When this does pop up, you’re able to twitch your device in that direction, and have your racer attach itself to a track within the turn, letting you keep up your high speed racing, and focus entirely on the racing and orb collecting/strategic aspects of the game.
Looking at the screen-shots for AXL, it’s very clear that the graphics for the game are top-notch. The futuristic, clean, smooth, minimal look of all the buildings and racers definitely creates an intriguing atmosphere. Also pretty noticeable is the draw-distance. In most iOS games this is usually pretty short, but with AXL, the minimalistic graphics help to allow the developers to make the draw distance fairly large, which is a huge plus, and something that I hope is taken advantage of more within the genre.
Once you get into the game, you’ll notice that not only do the graphics stand-out, but the automations are also fantastic as well, drawing you into the game even more. One of my favorite animations in the game is when you break, and get ready to boost, and your whole racer changes shape. It definitely adds to the feeling as well as style of the game.
Like a lot of other racers out there, there is a story intertwined with the game. In 2099, the environment collapsed, and humanity needed to find a new energy source, in 2123, HEX a new form of renewable energy was found. In 2150, Shifters, shape changing racers, were built using HEX, and after that, large corporations create newer and better Shifters, and the AXL Division of racing is established. This is where the game starts.
At the beginning, like most racers, you’re only able to choose between one Shifter, and have to go through training missions before getting into the real gameplay. You also find out that you’re responsible for the loss of 55 Pan-American engineers. You were expelled from Rotco Global Defense Corporation, and have been sentenced to 4 years of civil labor. Later, found with contraband, you’re currently waiting for sentencing from the courts. Ikuma Energetics, a racing company that has scouted you out, has the power to suspend any criminal proceedings for the duration of your apprenticeship. Lucky you, you get to race Shifters.
There is loads of content within the game, 3 different modes; Starcade (or Story/Carrer Mode), Free Run, and Custom Race. As you progress through Starcade Mode, more tracks, and more Shifters will become available to you, there are 12 total, each having different statistics. Starcade Mode offers up 71 different races spread across 7 different locations. Free Run lets you practice on any one of the tracks that you’ve already reached, and Custom lets you race against however many opponents you want, and lets you decide if there’s power-ups included or not, as well as which track you race on.
In the options, you’re able to adjust the Effects, and Music volumes, as well as change the view from First Person, Near or Far views, and adjust the sensitivity. Unfortunately, there is only a tilt control scheme, which really does have an effect on the gameplay. Even though you can adjust the sensitivity, until you get comfortable with the controls, more often than not, you’ll find yourself bouncing from wall to wall, which effects you more than you might like. With the Quick Time Events included in the tracks, you need to be going full speed to use them, which means that you can not accidentally touch the wall of the track, and need to have an orb for boosting right before it, which can result in your Shifter smashing right into the wall of the turn. Without orbs for boosting right before the QTE turns, you’ll need to take the sharp turn on your own, which almost always results in bouncing off the walls even more. But if you have the patience and determination to stick with it, and most likely play track more than once so that you can learn them, the controls become less and less of an issue as you make your way through the game.
Running at a smooth 60FPS, even on my 4th GEN Touch, which, with each passing week, is becoming more and more obsolete, and has fantastic tracks, amazing graphics and animations and great music and effects, with outstanding stand-out of the crowd mechanics with the orbs, power-ups, and turns. There are also 24 achievements, and 14 leader boards included in GameCenter, which definitely adds to the replay value, which is, of course, already fairly high. Sadly, the game is not Universal, which means you’ll be playing it in 2X mode if you’ve got an iPad. AXL: Full Boost is priced at $2.99, which is a fantastic price. Fans of the genre should definitely pick this up. It stands out in a genre full of like-minded titles, offers loads of content and basically endless replay value. It could very well wind up being the best racer available for the iOS, maybe even one of the best racers available on any gaming platform.
Hex-based strategy games haven’t really been my cup of tea. New World Colony, Conquest!, Neuroshima Hex – none of them really did it for me, and with Neuroshima Hex being GameShark’s iOS GOTY, TouchGen’s runner up for Best Board Game, and a whole slew of fantastic reviews and press behind it, probably the ‘best of the best’ – I just figured the genre wasn’t really for me. Lucky for me, I was able to have an entirely different experience with Synaptic Wave’s (a 6 person outfit from the Ukraine, and developers of Tesla Wars and Tower Siege) Zombie Quest – Mastermind the Hexes!
Maybe it appeals to me because I’m not a hardcore strategy fanatic, maybe I’ve still got some ‘casual’ gamer left in me from my early 20’s, I dunno, but Zombie Quest really hit’s the mark between casual and hardcore which is usually a difficult balance to achieve for most strategy developing studios, who generally go completely casual, or full-on hardcore within the genre.
With Zombie Quest, you’ll be able to think your way through 5 different enemies, including Pinhead, Dracula, Lecter, Frankenstein and Torquemada, each having 4 different stages with increasing difficulty. The gameplay is simple enough, yet full of strategy. Whenever it’s your turn, you select one of your wolf characters on the screen, and you can either select a spot directly next to them, which will clone your character, and turn any enemy characters that are touching that spot into one of your characters, or you can jump up to 3 spaces away, not cloning your character, but sometimes being able to make it into a group of enemy tiles, resulting in a huge addition to your team. The side with the most characters on the board when there are no more moves left for one of the players, or the board is full, wins.
The addition of power-ups makes the gameplay even more strategic. At first, you’re only able to use a shield, protecting one of your wolfs from becoming an enemy if they move next to your character. The enemy is also given a power-up, in the case of your first enemy, Torquemada, he’s able to use a crane like power-up, removing one character from the board. Once you complete the 4 Torquemada stages, you’re given that power-up, and can use it throughout the rest of the game. Also adding to the game is a special 2 player, side-by-side mode, which lets you play with another player on the same device. With not too many 2-player-1-device games out there, it’s definitely a plus, and was a pretty big surprise to find included with the game.
It’s not really anything that hasn’t been done before, I’m sure, though I’ve never had the pleasure of playing a hex based strategy game that does what Zombie Quest does, with a surprising amount of polish on the animations and graphics, as well as casual gameplay that could easily appeal to hardcore strategy gamers looking for something to blow through, or take their mind off of extremely deathy gameplay.
Zombie Quest also includes GameCenter integration with a total score leader board, and 15 achievements, adding some replay value to the game, but if you’re not really a high-score chaser, or achievement fanatic, the 20 levels don’t really offer up much replay value, and will probably not be a game you dive back into time and time again after completion. However, the time you do spend making your way through the game will be toughly enjoyed, especially if you’re new to the genre, or more of a casual gamer.
With a few fairly deep strategy hex based games in the AppStore, games like Zombie Quest is something we could definitely use more of. If you’re looking for something with loads of depth, and endless replay value, chances are, this is not for you. But priced at $0.99 for the SD version and $1.99 for the HD version, it’s worth snagging if your interested in getting into the genre, are looking for another 2 player on 1 device title, or are interested in something that won’t push your mind to the edge through every stage of the game. With their previous Synaptic Wave releases, the updates have definitely not been in short supply. Hopefully Zombie Quest will get a couple more enemies to take on, or maybe even multiplayer in the future. With the gameplay, it’s easy to see multiple different routes being taken, and hopefully Synaptic Wave will take advantage of that.
Castle Defense titles have become a great way to grab a few minutes of defense strategy gameplay while on the go, because of the AppStore. They’re great anywhere, appeal to a wide range of players, and hit that strategic nerve a lot of us gamers have without requiring us to play through a 2 hour game, or 45 minute level. While games like Stick and Cartoon Wars pioneered the genre on the iOS, games like Legendary Wars and the Fortune series pushed it more towards the hardcore strategy gamer, and that’s where Category 5 Games most recent title, Warmongers, fits in.
Warmongers is a single screen, 5 lane defense title, which requires quite a bit of strategy to progress through. While battling it out through hundreds of levels, you’ll be able to collect coins, unlock and upgrade characters, build up powers, and select special ability giving colors for your army.
Starting off, you’ll need to play through one area, with 3 stages. Each of these stages has 3 separate battles that you’ll need to complete in order to take over the area. Once you battle your way through all 9 stages, each getting progressively harder than the last, the territory is yours. As you make your way through the territories, more and more battles are required to play through before you take the territory over.
In order to win a battle, you need to get enough of your characters over to the enemies side. At the top of the screen is a gauge, starting with each side locked at the middle. Once you get a character over to the enemies side, your gauge takes over a little bit of the enemies gauge. If they get a character over to your side, the gauge moves back. To win the battle, you need to completely own the enemies gauge. Sometimes it can take less than a minute, others, it’s an all out epic battle, going back and forth, with each side almost winning multiple times. It all depends on what characters you send out, when you send them out, what power ups you use and when, and when you use your special color ability. With each character you send out costing mana, and only 200 mana available to you at any given time, it’s usually a struggle the whole battle.
In the shop, you’re able to upgrade your characters, powers and colors. With each character, you can upgrade their level, which increases their defense, speed, and attack, or increase their attack and defense separately. You’re also able to purchase Bloodlust abilities, which are special attacks that can be used when your bloodlust gauge is filled.
There are IAPs in the shop, and with no levels being able to be replayed for extra coinage, and the pretty high cost of upgrades and character unlocks, and the difficulty brought on by only having 200 mana available to you at any given time throughout the game (with characters mana costs being between 35 and 45) it can feel like the game is pushing you towards purchasing extra coins quite a bit. This is a shame, because everything else within the game is top-notch. Unfortunately, this push to purchase extra consumable IAPs after the original purchase of the game can be a real deal breaker for many gamers.
Right now, Warmongers is having a 50% off launching sale, and the iPhone version is priced at $0.99, with the HD version priced at $1.99. Considering it’s pushed towards purchasing extra coins through IAP, having a $1.99 and $3.99 title, and not being universal, it’s a hard game to recommend. But if you’re looking for a game that pushes you towards making certain upgrades without any experimentation, and loads of challenge, and high difficulty, then Warmongers is a strategy game you’ll most likely fall in love with.
It’s not too often you can come across an RPG title which is unique and has an interesting story. Winner of Bytten.com’s ‘Most Addictive’ Game Award for 2012, Fall of Angels, developed by Kevin Mitchell (who previously worked for Eurocom Entertainment Software and IBM) and Lee Pattison, is one of the few RPGs available in the AppStore which falls away from the typical cutesy plots and cartoonish graphics resulting in a terrific turn based/real time RPG with a memorable story, unique graphics, and great gameplay.
Starting off, you’re shown a cut-scene with some sort of object appearing out of nowhere and shooting through the sky, crash landing somewhere off in the distance. Next, there’s a dialogue sequence between a soldier and commander who’s forces are trying to break through the borders of the land where they believe the object has landed. You come in during the battle as Sariel, a member of CEL, an elite worldwide force working for the religious powers within the world of Fall of Angels.
The controls are presented nicely, and easy to use; A floating joystick, run button in the lower right corner, and the menu button in the top right. Battle controls are clean and also very simple to use; Tap on the character you want to use, tap on the action, Attack, Skills, Action or Items, and then tap on the enemy you want to take action against. If you would like to use your typical attack, you can just tap on your character 3 consecutive times, and he’ll automatically attack the enemy.
The fighting is Turn-Based, but only to an extent. Your character’s can only attack after a cool-down, but there is no break in the battle. If you don’t attack right away, you could wind up being hit numerous times before you get a hit in. This makes the battles more action oriented, and pretty unique. Each of the battles you enter is basically voluntary. You’re able to see each of the enemies and animals on the map, so there are no hidden/random battles.
Graphically, Fall of Angels looks like an old-school PC title; 2D sprites set against 3D environments. This does make for some hard to find pathways that are hidden behind trees or walls, but I’ve never wound up feeling lost or stuck. The environments are nicely detailed, and easy to tell apart. Animations are decent enough, though the running animation looks pretty weird, and some of the stances that the characters take look awkward. But it consistently gives you the feeling of an old-school RPG, which I absolutely love.
As you make your way through the game, you’ll be able to collect tools which you can equip and use to complete puzzles, and side-tasks, as well as collect various objects. The interactive puzzles are a nice addition to the game, and even though they take you out of the core gameplay, they don’t distract from the immersion.
Priced at $2.99, but on sale at the moment for $1.99, and available for the iPhone/iPod, you’ll need to play in 2X mode if you’re on your iPad, which is kind of a bummer. The environments don’t wind up being pixilated, but the character sprites do. Hopefully an HD or Universal version will be released in the future. The developers have said that Fall of Angels is only the beginning of a wider story arc that’s already been written, which is great to hear. The AppStore could definitely use more RPG titles like this. If you’re a sucker for old-school RPG games, Fall of Angels has one of the most interesting stories you’ll find in an iOS title, and interesting combat+puzzle mechanics. It’s one you should definitely check out.
Platformers. Whenever a new one hit’s the AppStore, I get extremely excited. There’s always so much potential and possibility within the genre, even on mobile devices. The most recent one to find a spot on my iPod is Mike & Milkbox, developed by SangWoon Yi. You are a bird spy named Mike who’s been recruited to save the world. Evildoer ‘Melanie’ is trying to design her own world government, and you need to traverse through the 4 worlds/24 stages taking out her minions, collecting coins, and saving little baby chicks.
First off, Mike & Milkbox currently only has an iPhone version, which means that playing on the iPad will be in 2X mode, and the controls really aren’t designed for the big screen at the moment. The developer has said that an HD version is coming, so there is hope that they will be customizable on the iPad, and maybe the iPhone version will get some control tweaks in a future update as well. As it is now, the controls work well enough, but the jump button could be a little more responsive. You are able to choose between big buttons and smaller arrows in the pause menu, which is a nice addition, especially since the bigger buttons sometimes block enemies or objects. The dead zone for both control schemes is perfect, but it’s always nice to have buttons which you can place wherever you like, and with so many iOS platformers including that option, it is kind of a bummer when you come across a title that only has fixed buttons.
Other important aspects of a platformer? Inertia, physics, and movement speed. Mike does move a little bit slower than what I’d like, but it’s easy to get comfortable with, and isn’t distracting at all. As for inertia, there isn’t any. Once you let up off of a directional button, your character comes to a complete stop, even when in mid-air, which is a huge plus. No need to try and adjust when you let up off of buttons while trying to land on a box, or edge of a platform, and the physics in Mike & Milkbox feel great, making most of the gameplay very comfortable.
The graphics are great, with beautifully detailed backdrops, retro inspired platforms and wonderfully designed character and enemy sprites. The animations are decent, with enemies falling down into the bottom of the screen when killed, and Mike’s death animation being pretty cute (a bandage, bruises, and ‘x’ed out eyes appear as Mike falls down into the bottom of the screen).
The level designs in Mike & Milkbox are also a highlight of the game. At the beginning, in the Barnyard levels, the stages do seem pretty simple, but as you progress into the Jungle, Lab and Cave environments, the levels become pretty complex, with great warp mechanics, and areas hidden behind fake walls making exploration a part of the gameplay.
Each of the 24 stages has a 3 star ranking, one for completing the level in under 100 seconds, another for collecting each of the 3 little chicks, and the last for taking no damage throughout the level. Since the game does not include any online support, no leaderboards or any achievements, this does help add to the replay value, but only so much. Along with some control options, GameCenter boards and achievements would add a ton to the game.
Mike & Milkbox is FREE right now, but is regularly priced at $1.99, so make sure you grab it, and tell all your platform addicted buddies about it. SangWoon Yi has definitely made a platformer that fits very nicely in an iPod folder full of Miss Claire Garden, Wawa Land, Supercow, Kale, and loads more… if you’re a fan of the genre you definitely need to check it out.