Number of Results: 16
iBlast Moki is easily one of the best physics puzzlers available in the AppStore, winning quite a few awards, and being named the best puzzle game by IGN in 2009, it was no surprise to see a sequel released a couple years later, and Godzilab nailed it. iBlast Moki 2 contains more of the same great things that made the original so great, including the great physics, fantastic level design, and awesome level creator, along with cool new bombs and gameplay mechanics. It’s also no surprise that after a year, you can still find the game on our devices. Though the hype has gone down quite a bit, with the release of Godzilab’s newest title, Happy Street, they made both the original and the sequel for iBlast Moki available for FREE, either reminding everyone how great the game was, or giving everyone who missed it the first time around another chance to pick it up. Now, with just about everyone who owns an iDevice having iBlast Moki 2, the user created levels have started getting more attention, and there’s still tons of new, unseen, and great content to be played, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you found iBlast Moki 2 on our devices in another year. It’s simply one of the best puzzle games available for the platform.
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.0
iBlast Moki needs no real introduction, the physics-puzzle game from Godzilab is one of the most popular on the iOS, snagging the #2 game spot of all time on metacritic. So when iBlast Moki 2 was announced, everyone was eagerly anticipating this sequel, and for good reason. In iBlast Moki, you use bombs and other items to get Moki’s into the portal at the end of each level. The physics are amazing, the level design is top notch, and the environments are varied, and extremely vibrant. The sequel includes even more kinds of bombs and items to help the Moki’s reach the portals, the same amazing physics, even more interesting level design, and more vibrant environments, and it takes advantage of retina and HD display. There’s also a level editor and a level sharing service thrown in for endless hours of entertainment and fun.
In iBlast Moki 2, you’ll encounter some very interesting bombs, and you don’t need to play for hours to get into the new game mechanics. They are thrown at you almost from the beginning. Paint bombs that each have different characteristics, ropes, and balloons are some of the first you’ll see. There’s also objects that you can stick your Moki’s to in order to get them to the portals at the end of the levels. In the game, it’s your job to place bombs throughout the levels, and set them to go off at specific times in order to fling the Moki’s to the end while collecting all the flowers in each stage, and doing it as fast as you can.
Your regular bombs are the ones that you’ll really have to play with trial and error getting the timing just right, making them explode at just the right time to send your characters off in another direction. This is done easily because the level resets every time you press the stop button in the lower left corner. The paint bombs, however, are more about where you place them, and timing isn’t really an issue with these. You’re given red, green, and orange bombs. The red acts as a bouncy liquid, and once your characters or any other objects touch it, they bounce up into the air. Green bombs act as glue, making your characters stick to whatever objects get covered in the liquid when the bomb goes off, and orange bombs act as turbo speed bombs, drawing your Moki to them, and shooting them forward at faster speeds.
Because iBlast Moki 2 is a physics-puzzle game, the physics are a huge part of it, and Godzilab has done an amazing job with them. Everything feels real, and sometimes it might seem like you’ll have to be a physics major in order to get the solutions on the first or second time through the level. I actually would not be surprised if Godzilab had some physics majors help them with this aspect of the game, as they’re done so perfectly. This, coupled with the superb level design, add a ton to the challenge of getting up on the high-score board that’s in-game in the pause menu. The top 3 scores for each level are shown, and if you’d like, you can pay 1 Moki coin, which you earn throughout the game, to see these top solutions. This, is something that’s already upsetting people. Some gamers work for hours on a level trying to get the best score they can, and then their solution, if one of the best, is saved to the server, and accessible to everyone for 1 Moki coin. Godzilab has commented on this issue, and said that they will come up with a fix for it in a future update, but until then, the best solutions for each level are there, ready to be seen by everyone, unless you play offline. This is the only bad issue I can find with iBlast Moki 2 though.
With 90 levels spread across 6 different environments, and a level editor that lets you share and download created levels, there’s pretty much endless gameplay. A cut-throat leaderboard helps immensely with the replay value, and like I’ve said, some people will spend hours with one level, and some might even spend weeks creating one. iBlast Moki 2 could very well end up being the best puzzle game in 2011, maybe even the best puzzle game for the iOS, period. The scoring mechanics are great, the graphics are cute and polished, physics are perfect, level design is mind bending, and the gameplay is endless. For $3, it’ll be pretty much impossible to find a better puzzle game out there. It’s highly recommended to fans of the genre, and new-comers to the scene alike, and is on sale for launch, so you can grab it now for a buck! The universal version is $3, and should shoot up to $5 soon. If you don’t have it yet, make sure you get it soon, because it’s going to be a game that you end up buying eventually after hearing everyone you know talk about it.
**Note: iBlast Moki 2 HD is priced at FREE for a limited time, so if you don’t have it yet, you should definitely pick up this great physics puzzler!
Cubes Vs. Spheres, the second iOS release of ShockPanda Games, hit the AppStore August 18th of last year. Since then, it’s gone through only two updates, but those two updates added quite a bit to the game. 3 endless survival levels and an extra difficulty, insane, filled with 10 new levels. Each stage offers up a challenge to get a perfect, or star, rating, done by hitting a certain score, and not taking any damage throughout the stage. The endless levels also add quite a bit of replay value, and that’s why it can still be found on both my iPod, and my iPad to this day. The core gameplay is so incredibly fun, that even though all you’re doing is blowing up boxes with spheres, I find myself playing it for hours on end. It’s definitely one title that everyone should check out.
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.0.
Cubes Vs. Spheres is a new 3D physics attack game by ShockPanda Games, creators of Space Bunnies, a personal favorite of mine. In it, you’re job is to fling spheres into cubes, protecting the circled area around your sphere chute. You’re given 30 levels, 10 in each difficulty of Easy, Medium, and Hard. The goal is to blow up cubes as they make their way towards you using different spheres that you can buy in the between levels shop; trying to produce huge combos by hitting cubes with bits and pieces of cubes that your spheres smack into and getting 3 stars, and a P, for “Perfect”, by not letting the cubes hit your area that‘s marked off within a circle.
The game’s graphics are very minimal, but this makes it so that the engine can handle huge waves of cubes coming at you. The minimal graphics work so well, and look so polished, that it’s hard not to see how impressive they are while you’re playing. The level designs are great, and the structures in which the cubes come off of, and out of once they come towards you get more and more impressive as the move on. I found myself just scrolling around the levels sometimes checking out the structures, not paying attention to the cubes, and ended up with huge waves of them coming at me. It’s really a great looking game.
You’re given 6 different spheres, that come out of a chute inside of your area. They are selectable at the bottom of the screen, and do not appear until you decide which sphere you want to fling at the cubes. There’s your regular sphere, which you can upgrade to split into 3 and 5 other spheres by tapping on the screen after you fling it at cubes, a fire sphere that explodes on impact into about 8 smaller spheres, a big black sphere that squashes cubes, and can smash through them, hitting cubes behind it, a sphere that locks on to the closest cube to your area, a freeze sphere that slows down cubes, and a decoy that draws cubes to it, exploding after a certain amount of time. You end up unlocking these with credits earned throughout the game, and need to keep buying them in order to use them. This isn’t a real problem though, because you’ll earn enough credits in each level for about 15 different spheres or more, and helps add to the strategic side of the game.
There are only 3 different cube enemies in the game. Red cubes, which you will see a lot of, black cubes, which are mixed in with the red cubes, and are more powerful, and harder to destroy, and sometimes cubes that are almost invisible. There are not very many of the invisible cubes throughout the game, but you will be checking the sides of each level just to make sure you know when they’re there or not. It would have been nice having more types of enemies, maybe enemies that are immune to some of your power-up spheres. Seeing a flaming cube that could melt your freeze spheres ice, or an assassin cube that could take out your decoy would have been awesome. But with the three enemies in the game, you get enough variety to keep you busy, and with the cubes moving differently each time you play the levels, you’ll never have the exact same experience twice. This randomized intelligent movement is great, and coupled with the GameCenter leaderboards, 3 star and P rankings, and achivements, add immensely to the replayability of the game.
The physics in a game like this are very important, and ShockPanda Games has done an amazing job getting it just right. Seeing each cube explode when it’s hit with a sphere or bits of an exploding cube is awesome, and really nice eye candy and the spheres feel like they actually have some weight to them. The music in Cubes Vs. Spheres is fitting, minimal but kind of catchy, and fits with the atmosphere, but the effects for throwing spheres and hearing them bounce kind of made them sound like hippity hops that were filled to the extreme, and about to blow up. You are given two control schemes, one is tilt to turn, and the other is swipe to turn. Both work very well for this type of game, but there were a couple of times the screen would end up shooting upwards when I tried to fling my ball forward using the swipe controls. Not often, but it did happen.
I’m giving Cubes Vs. Spheres 4.5 out of 5 stars, because even with it only having 3 different enemies, and experiencing a cube getting stuck way in the back of a level, unreachable, and having to replay that level, it’s an awesome game. Very well made, very polished, challenging, and a blast to play. The replayabilty is off the charts, and it’s one game that will never leave my device. For $0.99, including retina display, and being Universal, it’s a great deal. ShockPanda has definitely put a lot of time and effort into this game, and with them taking part in the Touch Arcade thread, I have no doubt that this game will get even better with only a few updates.
As much as I hate to admit it, Disney has put out some incredibly good iOS games over the last couple years. Where’s My Water?, Puffle Launch, Breakspin, Jelly Car, Where’s my Perry?, it’s becoming harder and harder not to check it out when Disney releases a new title into the AppStore. Their most recent, Disney Fish Hooks, is a prime example of a game I didn’t think I’d like, and ended up eventually loving. What’s even more surprising, is that Fish Hooks is a physics puzzler, something I, personally, got sick of some time ago. But Fish Hooks has so much charm and that spark that keeps me coming back to it that I just can’t ignore it.
Fish Hooks is one of very few Disney original cartoons currently in production, which I guess says something. It revolves around a tiny fish Milo and his friends at Freshwater High, a school in a pet store’s aquarium. Why does this matter? Because you’ll be able to watch some cut-scenes, and unlock Milo’s friends in the game, and it’s always nice to know a little backstory, right? Anyway…
Disney Fish Hooks contains 5 worlds, with 50 levels split up between them and a bonus level in each world which, once completed, unlocks another of Milo’s friends for you to play as. Sadly, the characters do not each have separate abilities or stats, making it purely a cosmetic feature. The goal is to collect all 3 apples in each stage before making it to the exit. This is done by manipulating the environment with bubbles to send your character in different directions, bouncing off of turtle shells, and creating and popping bubbles around your character, making them stop, float up and fall down in specific areas.
Usually, you’re able to find teeter totter type objects in each level, which can be manipulated by creating bubbles underneath either side of them. Most levels will require that you set up all of these objects before popping your characters bubble, and sending them throughout the stage. As they’re making their way around the stage, bouncing off of turtle shells, you sometimes will need to quickly tap on your character, which will create another bubble around them. This stops them in their tracks, and immediately sends them floating to the top of the screen. This is a handy mechanic when trying to make your character land on a specific turtle shell or when trying to collect an apple that isn’t on the path you’ll travel while bouncing off of the shells. As you move on through different environments, and worlds, more spiffy mechanics are added to the gameplay, like spiky coral which instantly kills you if you touch it, moving turtle shells that require timed bubble pops, anvils that smash through coral, moving coral, and more.
The 3 apples in each stage act as a 3 star ranking system. Unfortunately, there is no GameCenter support, which does take away from the drive to 3-Apple each stage. There is also no scoring system, and no timer, so if you’re not driven by the desire to collect each of the apples, there’s no real additional drive outside of that, which is unfortunate. Fish Hooks would seriously benefit from a scoring system and GameCenter integration, and it is something I hope is added to the game in a future update.
As with most games, when you start playing, it’s a little more than easy. Almost too easy actually. I was almost turned off of the game before completing the first 10 levels. But the physics, level designs, and gameplay mechanics showed more than enough potential that I made myself stick with it, and as the difficulty level gradually increased, so did the amount of enjoyment I was having while playing.
With Disney Fish Hooks available for FREE, the only thing you’ll really risk if you check it out is time, but if you stick with it, and get through the first world, the game really starts to pick up, and becomes incredibly fun. Seeing GameCenter added in a future update would be great, and judging by Disney’s past releases, and fantastic support through updates with them, I’m thinking it’s a real possibility. Even if you’re sick of physics-puzzlers, Fish Hooks is definitely a title worth checking out, and has the potential to be another Disney game you wind up keeping on your device.
Sometimes it seems like physics puzzlers have taken over the AppStore. Ever since the success of Angry Birds, everyone realized the potential for hooking casual gamers. But FDG, a publication/development company that we here at TAS highly respect, and that has been on a roll lately, releasing quite a few titles over the last couple months, has jumped on the physics puzzler bandwagon, and is taking it in an entirely different direction. With Blosics, Expand It!, Cover Orange, Beyond Ynth and more under their belt, they’re continuously releasing new and unique physics puzzlers on the iOS.
Their newest release, Car Toons!, is another great example of this. With simple gameplay that can also provide a nice little challenge, it’s another physics puzzler that doesn’t follow in the footsteps of any previous iOS releases. The goal of the game is to get your good cars (ie; cop cars, ambulances, fire trucks, ect) into the parking zones while knocking any bad cars (the black cars) off of the screen. Sounds simple enough, maybe even too simple. But when you take into account the level designs, as well as the hazards and other various puzzle elements, it actually offers up a decent challenge while still remaining casual and simple enough to just jump on into when you’ve got a couple of minutes to spare.
With 100 levels, and possible 3 star rankings on each stage, with more levels coming soon, there’s quite a bit of content. The 100 levels is split up across 9 different worlds, each with different hazards and objects as well as mechanics to help keep the game fresh. When you start out, you’re only able to touch each good car to make them start, and then touch them again to stop them. Doing this, you’ll need to knock all of the bad cars off of the platforms, and stop the cars in the correct parking spots (each parking spot’s color matches the good cars lights). As you progress through the game, disappearing platforms, the ability to jump, nitro boosters, doors that open when you drive into buttons, exploding barrels and loads more are just some of the things that you’ll end up using in order to complete levels.
The graphics and animations are very well done, with each car having a set of eyes, making the graphics pretty cutesy. But the animations really bring it all together, with wheels turning, smoke flying up from breaks, the expressions of the cars’ eyes, explosions, and more showcasing the polish of the graphics, and making the gameplay fun and entertaining. The music sounds like your typical classic 80’s pop tunes, reminiscent of an underrated nerd winning over a jock jerk in a John Hughes flick.
Rounding it all out is GameCenter support with a leaderboard for your overall time and 23 great achievements. However, the board for time could use some tweaking, as the longer you play, the further down the board you’ll go. This could be fixed by not submitting a time until the game is completed, or by doing that as well as having leaderboards for each world, but right now, it’s pretty pointless. However, priced at $0.99 for the SD build, and $1.99 for the HD version, it’s a pretty unique casual puzzler, and one that fans of puzzle games should definitely check out. With the support that FDG has given their previous releases, I have complete confidence that the leaderboard issue will be sorted out and know that more levels will definitely be included in the future. Another great release to throw on the list that FDG is quickly building up.
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.
If you’re still interested, but on the fence, you can check out the Flash Version at NotDoppler.
Puzzle platformers are pretty hit n miss on the iOS. There’s not too many that really nail the platforming gameplay with a good mix of the puzzling mechanics. Beautifun Games SL first AppStore release, Nihilumbra, definitely does a good job of mixing the two, as you guide Born, a strange creature, unfamiliar with the world around him, while he tries to escape The Void. A darkness that is chasing him, as well as sending out weird and complex creatures after him.
The first thing that really caught my attention with Nihilumbra were the graphics. Surprisingly beautiful, the developers have managed to make the hand-drawn environments fit in with the artificial graphics, while keeping everything incredibly life-like. As you begin your journey, you find out that Nihilumbra isn’t you’re typical puzzle platformer. Not only do the levels run consecutively, but it also focuses on telling a story as well. Actually, a major part of the game is the story telling. Some screens have nothing but a flat path and text instead of platforms and enemies.
There are two control options, virtual controls with left/right and jump buttons, and tilt controls, which have you flip your device upwards in order to jump, leaving no buttons on the screen. The physics and inertia, like all platformers, are also incredibly important, though with Nihilumbra, the game focuses on using these two mechanics to drive the gameplay.
As you progress through the game, you’ll come across areas where you’ll unlock new colors, with a total of 5. You’re able to choose these by touching the icon in the top right corner, and then can color the platforms of the environment. Each of these has a different property, for example, blue; Blue is like ice. If you make the ground blue, you’ll go a lot quicker while sliding on it. Green is bouncy, and carries the inertia that you have when you hit it on forward, so if you jump from a high platform onto green ground, you’ll bounce back up to that same height. Brown is sticky, and lets you stick to surfaces. You also have a certain amount of these colors which you are able to use between checkpoints. At every checkpoint, the colors will be returned to your orbs. You can also use the ‘void’ color to erase any colors that you put down.
However, all of the colors don’t only effect you, they also effect every moving object within the game. The enemies, boxes, projectiles… everything, and Beautifun Games has done an outstanding job creating puzzles centered around enemies, their projectiles, boxes, as well as the environment.
The game’s description in the AppStore says that it has 10 hours of gameplay. But chances are, you’ll be able to complete the game in about 2-3 hours. Where the real challenge and 10 hours of gameplay comes in is after you complete the game, and unlock Void Mode. Here, you have less amounts of the colors, and the puzzles become incredibly difficult.
Nihilumbra is priced at $2.99, and is Universal. The controls are re-sized on the iPad, so you won’t have to worry about dealing with controls that are out of reach. There is no GameCenter support, but this isn’t really a game that needs it. With the game focused around the story, and just completing the game, there is no score, and no time limit. It would have been nice to see some achievements, but the feeling you get when completing Void Mode is definitely worth more than 50 GC points. Beautifun Games has definitely made their mark on the genre with Nihilumbra. It’s fantastic graphics, and great gameplay make it a puzzler unlike anything else in the AppStore. It may come off a bit preachy at times, but it does an incredible job of creating an immersive gameplay experience, one that all fans of puzzle and platform games should not miss out on.
Chillingo is quite possibly one of the most well-known publishers of iOS games, and for a very good reason. They’re constantly releasing high-quality, polished titles. Last week, along with Disco Kitten, they released Eager Beaver, developed by Gamagio, a puzzle title which has you helping a beaver build dams.
When I first saw the trailer for Eager Beaver, I didn’t think I’d like the game too much, but after completing the first world (10 levels), I was hooked. The goal of each level is to use rocks to build up a barrier which blocks off the water from reaching the right side of the screen. Using fewer blocks results in a higher score. This gets pretty challenging, even towards the beginning of the game, once teeter-totters, mines, the water current, floating wooden barrels, and fish which can knock over your barrier, and disrupt where blocks land are introduced to the gameplay.
There is no time limit, which is nice, and lets you completely focus on how you want to build up your rock dam. The controls are also simple and easy to use. Each rock is automatically picked up with a crane at the top of the screen, and then you’re able to touch down on the screen, and drag the crane to where you want it, while picking your finger up from the screen releases the rock. Adding to the difficulty, however, as the crane is holding the rock, the rock spins clockwise, so you’ll need to make sure that you let go at just the right time so that you can match rocks together perfectly.
Each of the 5 different worlds has 10 levels, and each of the levels has an available 3 star ranking. Though to reach worlds, you do not need to complete all of the previous levels, you just need to get a certain amount of stars, which is great for a puzzle game like this, as it’s never fun getting stuck on just one level. To get 3 stars, you’ll need to build the dam with a certain number of rocks, leaving the rest of the rocks un-used. This does add to the challenge, as well as replay value, especially if you’re driven by high-scores or achievements. GameCenter contains a leaderboard for your total score, and 18 hard to snag achievements, giving players plenty to try and complete even after finishing the last level.
Graphically, Eager Beaver is well done with very nice and vibrant environments, each with their own items, hazards and plenty of variety in the atmospheres. Physics, animations, and inertia are all very well done, and highly polished. Even the movement of the water and the fish’s underwater breathing is animated, and these little touches add a ton to the all around feeling of the game.
Priced at $0.99, being Universal, and having loads of fantastic gameplay+replay value, it’s definitely a title that stands out within the physics puzzler genre. Seeing more levels, or even another gameplay mode would make it an outstanding title, but as it is now, it’s one of the better puzzler titles I’ve played in a while, and I’d certainly love to see more from Gamagio in the future.
FDG Entertainment is responsible for bringing one of my favorite flash games, Clear Vision, to the iOS. Recently, they also brought Tentacle Wars, another popular flash game to the iPad. This week, they’re doing it again. Expand It, the popular flash game featured on Bored.com has hit the iOS world thanks to one of our favorite publishers, FDG. Expand It falls into the physics puzzler genre, but thankfully, it’s not your typical run of the mill physics title. You need to make your expandable blocks reach a certain height by making them bigger as well as using the interesting objects found throughout the stages.
My first glance at the screen shots, I was kind of disappointed, thinking that it was another one of those ‘take out the blocks so that one block hit’s the platform’ type games. Boy was I WAY wrong. Expand It is an original and very unique type of physics puzzler, something the AppStore needs to see more often. To complete each of the levels, you need to tap on certain shapes that are in the levels to make them grow, and to activate various objects and hazards. Once you have the solution, all you need to do is make sure that one of your blocks winds up above the rainbow line towards the top of the screen for a couple of seconds, and voila, on to the next one.
It may sound surprisingly easy, but once you get past the first couple of levels, finding out the solutions could take multiple tries while finding out what each of the blocks and hazards do, and what actually moves within the levels and what size you need to have each of the shapes reach at what given times. After you think you’ve got a handle on the whole layout of the game, it ramps up the difficulty again, always seeming to add something new and unique as you progress.
Expand It has 4 different environments, each with 15 stages, offering up 60 separate levels to complete. Each of these levels has a 3 star rating, which can be achieved depending on how quickly you complete the levels. This does add a bit of replay value to the game if you’re interested in competing on the Game Center leaderboard, besting your own scores, or completing each of the 19 achievements. The game also has empty worlds showing that more levels are coming in future updates, which is always great to hear, especially when it comes to physics puzzlers.
As for the graphics, animations, and physics; Expand It has perfected each of these. The graphics are incredibly cute, well still remaining very polished, and the animations for each of the blocks only adds to the great feeling of the game. Each of the moving objects in a level have been done perfectly, making sure that not one of them throws the flow of the game off. The physics are done to perfection as well, as each object has a certain weight to it, and does a very good job projecting that weight through the gameplay, especially on the stages where you need to have blocks be a certain size at certain times in order to complete the stage.
As with other FDG games, Expand It is very reasonably priced, with both the SD and HD versions costing $0.99. A Universal version would be ideal so that people could compete on the same leaderboard, but with the inclusion of HD Retina graphics, I’m actually wishing more and more games would resort to this method of sales, lowering the price for each version making a $2 game $0.99, but keeping the SD and HD versions separate, as all of that extra space for heightened graphics isn’t’ needed on the small screen devices, and usually winds up being seen as a giant waste of space. If you’re a fan of the physics puzzler genre, and are looking for something new and unique, Expand It is definitely a game to check out. And since it’s released by FDG, you know the production qualities, and updates for the game are going to be top-notch, making it very easy to recommend and support.
With the insane amount of physics puzzlers in the AppStore, I generally wind up staying away from most of them. There’s very few that look like they incorporate some sort of new mechanic, but then after watching a gameplay video or trailer for the game, it usually winds up looking like just another brick in the wall, and it’s hard to get excited about something you feel like you’ve played a hundred times before. I felt the same way about Pebble Universe when taking a quick glance at the screen shots, but then saw a gameplay video, and was instantly intrigued. It seems the two man studio out of Sweden, Itatake.com, had something very special planned for their first foray into the iOS gaming world.
Unlike most other physics puzzlers, timing is very important in Pebble Universe. To progress through each of the 50 levels, you’ll need to time collisions between rocks just perfectly. In each stage, there’s a group of monsters, and to complete the level, you’ll need to destroy the monster king (the monster wearing a crown). To do this, you’re given a certain amount of little rock creatures to tap on, letting them roll down hills, or flinging them across the stage using fans, and crashing them into each other. Once they hit each other, they explode, raining bits of rock onto the monsters. Each monster that is hit with a piece of the rock creatures explodes, sending their horns, and eyeballs flying all over the level. If these bits and pieces of the monsters come into contact with another monster, that monster explodes, sometimes causing a huge chain reaction. If you hit the monster king before all of the other monsters, you’re docked points. The goal in each stage is to do this using as few rock creatures as you can.
As you make your way through the game, you’ll unlock different types of rock creatures. Some of which have bigger explosions, others send their exploded pieces straight up, while others have all of their pieces only fall downwards. Each one having a pretty big influence on how you’ll go about completing each of the levels. Also thrown into the mix are monsters that move around the environment, making the timing of the rock creature collisions even more important.
Of course, in all physics puzzlers, the physics are very important. In Pebble Universe, Itatake.com has done an amazing job getting the physics mechanics just right. The inertia of each object when it flies off of cliffs, or bounces off of something else, the angles of everything flying through the air after an explosion, the speed and general weight ‘feeling’ of everything is perfect. Even in the case of fans that only blow the bits of rock another direction after exploding have the look of real weight. It’s very clear that a lot of thought, research, effort, and work has gone into making the physics of Pebble Universe act and feel just right.
However, no matter how great the physics act and feel, it’s still kind of hard to actually get the game right without a lot of trial and error. Granted, a lot of great games come with that aspect, but even by the end of the second world, I felt that if the third world was included with this 1.0.1 build of the game, that I still wouldn’t be able to dive right in, and know exactly when to let pebbles go based on the level designs, rock physics, collection of pebbles, inclusion of fans, and moving monsters. There would still be quite a bit of trial and error involved, and I know there’s gamers out there that tend to shy away from that type of gameplay. But if you’re fine with, or even looking for a game that will have you playing a level once to learn it, again to get the timing right, and then a third time to try and max your score, Pebble Universe is a great game to check out. The satisfaction in seeing the chain reaction of monsters being set off is well worth the extra effort. And with the great physics, and movement of everything in the levels, there’s not just one specific solution for each of the levels. If you’re creative, chances are you’ll be able to have a blast with the game, while climbing the leader boards.
Sealing the deal are top notch graphics available in native resolution on both the iPhone and iPad, taking advantage of Universal support. Accompanying the great graphics, you’ll be able to track your scores through GameCenter, with Pebble Universe having 4 different leader boards, one for each of the 2 worlds, a total score leader board, and another separate board for the 6 extra bonus levels which can be unlocked while playing the game by hitting flowers that are set up in extra challenging positions. There are no achievements, but that doesn’t really hurt the replay value, with it being pretty challenging to hit all of the monsters in each of the levels, as well as unlocking all of the bonus levels. There’s also another world being worked on ATM, as well as an Android version (so those of you hybrid iPod/Android users out there – be sure and check it out in the Android market soon). With the price set at only $0.99, it’s very easy to recommend, and the high production values and unique gameplay make it even easier to add to our must-buy list.
Physics based puzzlers have pretty much gone overboard in the AppStore, with at least 2 or 3 being released every week, and that’s not counting the massive amount released by unknown developers. Because of this, it’s obviously pretty hard to find a title within the genre that will keep your attention beyond looking at the screen shots. Coffee Powered Machine, a two person development group based out of Argentina, took a risky chance having their first iOS release fit into the already cramped physics puzzler genre, but with Gravity Fleet, C.P.M. introduced enough fresh mechanics to keep players hooked from beginning to end.
Gravity Fleet places you in space, going up against invading aliens. You’re able to use the gravity of nearby planets, and sometimes their moons, to fire an array of different missiles at the invaders. There are 8 different worlds, each with 10 levels, and as with almost every other iOS game, a 3 star ranking for each of the 80 levels. Depending on how many missiles you use and how much health each of the planets have when you destroy the last enemy, your score will rise, and the stars are given to you based on your final score.
With each of the stars that you collect, you’re given 5 coins which you can spend in the shop. You can also earn coins by destroying more than one enemy at a time, and you are also given coins by the game when it wants you to buy something in the shop, or a power-up to use in a certain situation. There are consumables which can help you quite a bit if you’re stuck, like a “Gravity Visualizator” which shows you the path your missile will take based on the planet’s gravitational pull, shields for planets, extra missiles, and “Precise Sight”, which will show you exactly where your missile will land. These consumables are priced fairly reasonably, and you can also gain them in-game with random item drops when destroying enemies.
There are also permanent items which you can purchase; different ships, which are only cosmetic, and different assistants, all of which have a special perk like a 20% more chance to drop items, 20% larger explosions, 30% extra health for your planets, and more. As you guessed, you can also buy coins with real money through IAPs, but these are not needed to complete the game, and are there for a quick speedup through the game, to make the game easier, or better yet, to support the developers.
What makes the game stand out is the missiles that you’re given. You start off with regular missiles, and from there, move up to missiles that have larger explosions, split into smaller missiles, lasers that cut through enemies, missiles that bounce off of objects and enemies, and even missiles that implode, sucking everything around it towards the explosion. To add to the difficulty, some planets have a moon, or moons, which rotate around the planets at a decent speed, as well as having some enemies which move instead of staying stationary. As well as having planets that can be destroyed, each of the planets has different gravitational pulls effecting how your missiles will arc around them, and there’s even black holes in some levels, sucking missiles away into oblivion.
Right now, Gravity Fleet is definitely worth the $0.99 price tag if you’re a fan of physics puzzlers. Being Universal helps quite a bit too. However, there is no GameCenter or OpenFeint support at the moment, but the developers are planning on adding GameCenter support along with new ships, new assistants, achievements, and of course, new levels. Coffee Powered Machine has definitely done a great job with their first iOS release, and will definitely be put on my list of developers to keep an eye on in the future.