Zombie games are really getting out-done in the AppStore. It seems like every week, another zombie game is released, and I can’t see an end to it. Fortunately, there’s a whole mass of gamers who just can’t get enough of it, and plenty of developers out there who are willing to take a chance on yet another zombie game. North Carolina based Spark Plug Games, a fairly well rounded development company, producing over 50 products over the last 4 and a half years. It’s pretty safe to say that they’ve learned quite a bit since their inception, and with their most recent iOS and Android title, Plight of the Zombie, it shows.
Plight of the Zombie is a line drawing puzzler which has you guiding Craig Creeper and other mysterious zombies through 5 worlds, and 50 levels of line drawing zombie fun. Each level contains 3 brains and various humans, some wielding shotguns, some pistols, some will just cower in fear as you walk up and bite them. Once you touch a non-zombie, they instantly turn into another zombie which you’re able to control. This adds to the puzzle solving, as you’ll need quite a few extra zombies to get blown to bits so that you can get a zombie to reach a gun toting human. Each level is completed once you convert all humans to zombies, whether you have collected each of the 3 brains or not, so planning out your paths is a pretty important aspect of the game.
In each of the 5 worlds, you’ll have different zombies which you’ll start each level with. In world 1, it’s Craig Creeper, a basic zombie that can’t take much damage. However, these basic zombies become useful in world 2, where you’ll control Charlie Chunker; a nice fat zombie that can take loads of damage, but moves relatively slow. He’s also unable to fit through many of the smaller pathways in the levels, which is where the basic Craig zombies need to be utilized in order to progress through the world. Learning how to utilize each zombies strengths and weaknesses is essential for completing the game.
Another great facet of PotZ is the level design. It’s evident that Spark Plug Games has spent an incredible amount of time with the layouts and designs of each of the levels in Plight of the Zombie. As I’ve already stated, the level design comes into play by blocking off some zombies, while others are able to reach certain areas. But also, sometimes figuring out how to collect all of the brains in a level before converting all of the humans will require some quick thinking and figuring out which zombies need to go ahead of others, when zombies should be sacrificed, or when one should be used as a decoy so that others can pass by safely. Early on in the game, you’ll start seeing brains which have a timer underneath them. In order to collect these, you’ll need to reach them before the timer runs out and to do so, you’ll need to employ various tactics throughout the game.
With Plight of the Zombie priced at $2.99, being Universal, having slick graphics and some of the best line drawing gameplay I’ve seen on the iOS, and although it starts out a little slow, once you hit the 2nd world, the game really picks up. It’s definitely worth grabbing, even if you’re sick of zombie games. It might just reignite your love of the genre, and give you hope that, when used to their full potential, zombie games are not done evolving. Not by a long shot. Including GameCenter integration with 16 achievements (that unfortunately, are not working ATM), a store full of items which you can dress up your zombies with and 3+ brains per level, there’s quite a bit of content to keep you busy for a while. Spark Plug Games has also stated that every 2 weeks, new cosmetic items will be added to the shop, and that we can expect more level packs as well. Plight of the Zombie definitely shows that Spark Plug Games knows exactly what they’re doing, and precisely what it takes to create a fantastic line drawing puzzler. It’s one development team that, without a doubt, we are going to be keeping our eyes on.
10tons has brought out some fantastic titles for the iOS gaming scene. Azkend, Joining Hands, Grim Joggers, Sparkle, and more. Boom Brigade, a tower defense/line-drawing strategy arcade title, is definitely one of my favorites from 10tons, which is kind of funny, because line-drawing games and I don’t really get along. But there’s something about Boom Brigade which just hit’s the right nerve with me. Now, I get to experience it all again. Boom Brigade 2 is finally here, and it’s everything you would expect in a sequel. The same great gameplay mechanics and type of gameplay as the original, with more of everything.
Boom Brigade is a real time strategy line drawing defense title. You might not think it, but all of those genres mashed together really seems to work out well, especially since 10tons has done such a great job with the design of the game. You’ll guide army men around the map by drawing lines for them to follow. Enemies come at you from all sides of the screen, and you need to defend your base through wave after wave.
There are two modes contained in the game, the 30 level Campaign, and a Survival Mission Mode. In the campaign mode, before each mission, you’re able to select your load outs for the givin units, and then go into battle. While you’re in battle, you’re able to pause the action with the icon in the lower left corner, and draw the lines for your men to follow along. This really helps out when the action gets hectic, and it does get very hectic. Throughout the stage, various power-ups and health containers are dropped from the sky, helping you to fend off the onslaught of aliens.
Boom Brigade’s line drawing controls are some of the best I’ve ever experienced on the touch screen. One of the things that really turns me off of line drawing games are the clumsy controls, never really drawing the line exactly where I want it to be, or not responding and cutting off halfway through a path. Here, 10tons has done an excellent job making the controls precise as well as responsive.
Graphics-wise, Boom Brigade 2 has a top/down view of the battlefield, but that doesn’t effect the gameplay like you might think. Your units are very clear, and it’s easy to tell if you’re moving your machine gunner or shot gunner, and the environments have plenty of detail. The animations also help add to the gameplay, with great death scenes and sounds, blasting the enemy away becomes very satisfying.
With 30 missions spread across 3 environments, unlockable upgrades for every character, and loads of line drawing strategy, Boom Brigade 2 is a game that’s definitely worth picking up if you’re even remotely interested in the genres. Priced at $3.99 (on sale ATM for $2.99), and Universal, as well as including GameCenter support with a whopping 11 leader boards, and 16 achievements, and a whole set of Survival Missions, there’s loads of replay value to be had.
Line drawing and tower defense genres really seem to go together quite well from the couple of titles that merge these two genres I’ve been able to check out. Phoenix Defense Force, Boom Brigade, A.I.R. Defense, Into The Blue, and the ever popular Axe In Face come to mind, and now fans of the genre have another game to add to that short list of incredibly well done line drawing/TD games; Anthill: Tactical Trail Defense, by Image & Form International.
To start things off, the graphics and animations. I&F has done an amazing job creating some very vibrant and layered environments. You get an idea of this right when you get to the main menu. The very well done environments match the equally well done bug models and animations. It’s actually so well done that you might end up finding yourself just staring at the screen watching them move around. The bugs are also very colorful, matching the vibrancy of the environments perfectly. It’s easy to tell that a lot of time and effort went into making the movement, look, and flow of everything within the game just right. To top it off, the music is Disney-esque, and almost like something that would have fit very well within A Bug’s Life. It compliments the atmosphere and feeling of the game perfectly.
Now onto the gameplay. You start out looking down at an anthill, surrounded by shrubbery. The tutorial is well explained, learning the basic mechanics in the first level, and then new mechanics when new units are added. You’ll need to draw a line from the top of your anthill to your desired location, and then decide what units to send out on that line. You’ll need to constantly collect food in order to send out more units, and there is almost always a leaf close-by that you can snag about 100 food points from over a short amount of time. So to start things off, you’ll usually draw a line from your anthill to that leaf, and then decide to send out your collector ants on that line. They will go out to the leaf, and start bringing the food back to the anthill. Now, to keep those ants safe, you’ll need to drag your finger across the screen, or pinch to zoom in and out, to scan the area for enemy bugs that will kill your worker ants and deprive you of food. Once you find out where those bugs are coming from, or where they might come from, you’ll need to draw another line starting from the top of the anthill to an intersecting point between the bugs and the worker ants, and then send out your attacker ants. These guys will kill whatever bugs are encroaching on your territory, and leave their bodies for your worker/collector ants to pick up and take back to the hill. So after your attacker ants have cleared out an area of enemies, you’ll draw another line to their bodies, and choose the collector ants to pick them up, and take them back to the anthill for some major food points. Once you’re done with a line, you hold down on it, and select the “X” that pops up. You are able to draw as many lines as you want, but the more you draw, the more spread out our available ants will become, so it’s best to erase the lines you no longer need in a timely fashion. You can also use bomber ants, who fly out of the anthill, and drop goo wherever you tap on the battlefield. A direct hit with the goo can kill an enemy instantly, but to do this, you’ll need to hit a moving target who has the ability to change direction at any point in time. Which brings us to the AI. Each of the bugs behaves differently. This makes learning how each of your enemies moves, and attacks essential in taking them out successfully.
After each level, you’re given a star ranking based on how many points you’ve collected throughout the level. This is more important than usual because you can then use these stars to upgrade your ants. The speed of the collector ants, brutality of the attacker ants, and more. If you don’t want to battle it out to gain stars, you can purchase them through an IAP, 20 stars for $0.99, which can upgrade your ants quite a bit, but it’s not necessary, and the game isn’t pushed toward you buying the stars at all. The difficulty is set just right, and you can replay levels to earn stars that you didn’t earn the first time through. You can not, however, re-earn stars, so if you got all the stars available in a level, you can not replay it and earn those stars to use for upgrades again.
Anthill: TTD is GameCenter enabled, and has leader boards for all 21 of the levels that are spread across the 3 different environments. There’s also a leader board for your total score, which combines all of your best level scores. Having a board for each of the levels, as well as a star ranking that gives you stars for upgrades does add quite a bit of replay value to the game, especially if you’re a high-score chaser. With the game at $2.99, and on sale right now for $1.99, and being Universal, it’s a great buy for the amount of content and gameplay you’ll get. If you’re a fan of line drawing or tower-defense games, this is one that looks beautiful, and has an insane amount of strategic elements. The controls are nice and tight, and really, everything within the game is so professionally done that it’s hard to not call it one of the best, if not the best line drawing tower defense title available for the iOS.
Anthill: Tactical Trail Defense gets a perfect score of 10 out of 10.
Carrot War is a new, and pretty original, line-drawing action game for the iOS by Sphinx Entertainment. As this is their first game in the AppStore, they’re up against some pretty high-profile companies in the genre, but this isn’t your typical line-drawing game. In Carrot War, you play as a rabbit who’s home-planet was invaded by aliens who came to take all your precious carrots. You’re the last hope of a dwindling civilization, armed only with a magic pen. The Rabbit Planet is counting on you to get the carrots back, and withstand the alien invasion.
The graphics in Carrot War are great. Showing the true professionalism of Sphinx Entertainment. Very smooth and flowing animations, along with nice explosion effects and great scrolling backgrounds are retina display supported, so you can experience all the beauty the way it’s meant to be seen. The controls are very tight and responsive, which is very important in a line drawing game, but I haven’t once died because I was busy fighting with the controls, or trying to get something just right. There’s enough give in the game that if you die, it’ll be because you weren’t quick enough. Which brings me to the gameplay.
In Carrot War, your goal is to make it to the end of the level without loosing your 3 lives. If you’re going for a 3 star performance, you won’t want to loose one. You’re also graded on how many carrots you collect and how many enemies you kill. To kill enemies, you’re required to do different things for each of them. Most can be eliminated by connecting a line between the two or more stars that are floating around them. For instance, if there’s just two stars around an enemy, you draw a line from one star to the other, going through the enemy, then it blows up. If there’s three, you can draw a triangle, or a circle, so long as it goes through each of the three stars. If there’s 4 stars, you’d draw a square. Killing more than one enemy at a time is pretty easy, because most enemies will stop moving if you place your finger on one of their stars, causing them to overlap each other, and making killing huge numbers of enemies a little easier. There’s also enemies that can shoot at you, and in order to kill them, you draw a line from the projectile they shoot, back to their ship, there’s bullets you can bounce off of lines, and much more. How long your line can be depends on how much ink you have in your pen, but this refills very quickly after using it, so you’ll never be stuck waiting for the pen to reload. To avoid being hit, you can place your finger on your character and move him around the screen freely as well.
There’s a total of 52 levels spread across 5 different worlds, each unlocking when you beat the boss at the end. There is quite a bit of difficulty within the game, as keeping up with the different enemies on the screen can get pretty hectic, but it’s never frustratingly difficult. In a game with only one difficulty, finding the right mesh between easy and hard is never easy, but Sphinx Entertainment has done a great job here, making a game that gamers from casual to hardcore can play and enjoy. There’s also an IAP purchase which gives you 3 extra lives per level, and 2 extra pens full of ink, so if you do find the game too hard, you can make it easier for $0.99.
GameCenter and OpenFeint leaderboards, and 12 achievements are included, and added with the 3 star rankings on levels, do help add to the replayability and challenge of the game. It’s got smooth graphics, great gameplay, and music and effects that fit right in with the experience, but I would love to see some power-ups, or maybe upgrades in the future. It seems to be all that this game is missing. I’m giving Carrot War 4.5 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended to action and line drawing fans. It is $2.99, but right now it’s on sale for $0.99, so pick it up before the price goes back up! If you do miss the sale, you can rest assured that this game is worth at least $2.99, and it will be spending quite a bit of time on my iPod.