It’s a shame that, with the amount of games on the AppStore, there really are very few development companies that can continually surprise and impress gamers with their releases. Granted, this number is starting to grow, and the future does look incredibly bright for iOS gaming, but we all know that that really depends on the market, and who can stick to their guns, deciding to not start making freemium IAP monger type games that are taking over the charts. I’ve felt this way for a while, but this week was an incredible week for iOS gamers, and has put a lot of that oomph back into our hearts. Aside from the best Action RPG to hit the iDevice, an amazing Physics-Puzzler, an incredible, and unique firefighting game, we received one of the most innovative, original and pure Puzzlers as well; Cipher Prime Studio’s Splice: Tree Of Life. If you’re into Puzzlers, Cipher Prime is responsible for the awesome iPad titles Pulse: Volume One [$2.99], Fractal: Make Blooms Not War [$4.99] and the iPhone game, Auditorium [FREE], each of which receiving great reviews with all but Fractal earning multiple awards.
With all of that in mind, our hopes and excitement for Splice: Tree Of Life was incredibly high, and after playing through the first couple levels of the game, once I started to understand the mechanics, I was hooked. There is no tutorial in Splice. There is a ‘?’ that can be tapped at any time during gameplay, containing 3 screens of instructions, but chances are, you’ll still need to mess around throughout the first world before you really get a handle on everything that’s going on.
The goal of Splice is to align microbes in the outlined pattern in the given amount of moves. In order to do this, you’ll need to drag-n-drop the misaligned microbes, attaching them to the one center microbe. Once you pick up a microbe, light grey outlines appear in places where you can attach it. If you don’t place it in one of those outlines, the microbe will jump back to where it originally was before you picked it up.
There are some microbes that have white symbols on them. These microbes, and sometimes, microbes attached under them, can be mutated depending on what symbol they contain. Some have an arrow that’s split in half, these can be mutated to split into two separate microbes, side-by-side, mutating all microbes connected under them as well. Another type has a regular arrow, and these mutate into two microbes as well, however, these mutate by splitting down so that the second microbe is directly under the original one, and these do not effect any microbes attached under them. There is also an ‘X’ symbol, which destroys that microbe, as well as any microbes attached beneath it. Once you hit World 6, you’re able to let microbes float. Here, the grey outlines don’t really matter, as you can place microbes out on their own. You’ll also come across stages where you’ll need to pull microbes that are out on their own into the design.
There are 49 original stages spread out across 7 ‘Sequences’ in Splice: Tree Of Life, with each stage called a ‘strand’. Once you complete these 49 strands, you’ll unlock the Epilogue. Here, there are 4 more Sequences, each with 7 more strands, for a total of 28 additional levels. These Epilogue levels are incredibly challenging, with fairly large strands to solve, using all of the mechanics from the original levels. Adding to this great challenge are ‘Angelic’ solutions. Each stage, having a certain number of moves available to complete the strand, has a potential ‘perfect’ solution, requiring less moves than that that are given. All of the levels are challenging enough, not to mention the insane difficulty increase when you move on to the Epilogue levels, but solving each and every stage with the Angelic solution should prove to be a challenge that not everyone can undertake. However, if you do get stuck and would like to know how to solve a particular strand, Cipher Prime’s website has posted all of the solutions via YouTube.
Like Cipher Prime’s previous releases, the graphics and atmosphere in Splice are phenomenal. The animations and movement for each microbe blends together seamlessly with the other microbes, as well as the movement of your fingers on the screen. This, combined with the beautiful soundtrack make for an incredibly immersive puzzler. You can also listen to and download the soundtrack on Cipher Prime’s bandcamp page, or check it out below.
GameCenter is supported, and includes 18 achievements (2 of which are hidden), which will only be unlocked by the best players. Unfortunately, there are no leaderboards, so competing with friends to see who can solve an entire Sequence the fastest will have to be done manually.
Priced at $3.99, Splice: Tree Of Life, is a steal. Awarded as the Best Puzzle Game of 2011 via the Intel Level Up Contest, and including hours upon hours of gameplay and mind-wrecking puzzles, it’s easily one of the best puzzlers available on any gaming platform. If you’re looking for a new and unique game that will provide you with an insane challenge, look no further. Cipher Prime has done an incredible job with the creation of this title, and I feel lucky to be able to have a port of it available in the AppStore, for a fraction of the PC/Mac Version’s price. Splice is a wonderful experience that should not be missed.
It’s no secret that The App Shack hasn’t been around for too long. If you’ve been following us recently, you might have noticed that we’re reaching back, reviewing older games that gamers might have missed, or that we weren’t around to review, as well as our new Review Rewind section, re-posting reviews for games that are still on our devices one year later. Well, another fantastic title that we didn’t get around to is Mobigame’s Perfect Cell. After Mobigame released EDGE, they were definitely a development team that many gamers had their eyes on, and like EDGE, Perfect Cell was something that iOS gamers had yet to see, and still has yet to be expanded upon since. It’s an amazingly unique game, and one that all iOS gamers should check out.
Perfect Cell is a Stealth-based Action Adventure title with quite a few puzzle elements thrown in for good measure. Taking place in the near future (2029), a meteorite came crashing to earth. Inside of it, scientists found a living lifeform. Able to regenerate and split itself in the blink of an eye, this lifeform’s special skills quickly became a danger to humans. Now trapped within a secret underwater facility, you’ll need to find your way through corridors, get through a hi-tech security system, and take out guards in order to escape.
Throughout the 35 Story Mode levels, spread across 5 worlds, you’ll be graded on how long it takes you to complete each stage, as well as how many humans you take out on your way to the exit. The environments are beautifully crafted, and with the latest update, are now optimized for the new iPad Retina Display, which just makes them even more outstanding.
The controls are simple, and explained as you make your way through the first couple levels. To move the cell, you just need to tap and hold on the screen where you want it to move to. Simple enough, right? It can also dash, which is used to break through glass, and take out the humans. This can be done either by swiping or double tapping in the direction you want to dash. There will also be parts of the game where you’ll need to split the cell in two, either to complete a puzzle, or to draw the attention of the guards so that you can sneak up behind them. This is done by touching two fingers on the cell, and spreading them apart. You’re able to split the cell into three pieces, each able to maneuver on their own via the regular movement controls. Another special ability the cell can perform is to disappear. Going invisible is done automatically by not touching the screen, and just letting your cell sit in one spot for a short period of time. The last move you’ll utilize throughout the game is a special drawn out attack. This is done by tapping on the cell and holding down for a second, and then dragging a line along a path that you want to quickly move through. Doing this, you’re able to blast through glass, and cut humans in half, as well as make it through some of the quicker environmental hazards you’ll wind up encountering.
Perfect Cell’s BGM and sound effects are top notch, adding to the atmosphere and feeling of the game, helping to draw you into the world. The graphics, as already stated, are fantastic, and on retina enabled devices, really pop. The human character models, however, are kind of pixilated, and with the rest of the graphics being smooth, this really stands out.
GameCenter support adds a bit of replay value to the game, with 2 leaderboards, one for ‘Time To Escape’ and another for your ‘Best Total Time’. 16 Achievements are included as well, but there aren’t many that will have you going back and replaying levels, as they can pretty much all be completed your first time through the game.
There are very few games in the AppStore that I believe screen shots do not do justice. Perfect Cell is one of them. The amazing Stealth/Infiltration based gameplay is full of action, and the puzzles are blended in seamlessly throughout the stages. Perfect Cell does have it’s flaws, but priced at $2.99 and being Universal, it’s definitely a game you won’t want to miss out on, and will not regret purchasing. Even after 2 years, it still holds up as being one of the most unique games you can have on your iDevice. The only thing I wish it had was a Challenge Mode, with separate leaderboards for each stage. Something like this, with time challenges, score challenges and more would add an incredible amount of replay value, as well as round the game out, making it feel complete. Right now, there is a bit of replay value, with the time limits, human deaths, and leaderboards on GC, but it still feels like it hasn’t reached it’s full potential. Being 2 years old, I doubt we’ll see anything new be added to the game, but it’s always nice to dream, right? Maybe we’ll see more if a Perfect Cell 2 ever hit’s the virtual shelves.
Chillingo. Just saying the word brings hundreds of games to mind. They’ve ranged from casual to hardcore, puzzlers to action, adventure to arcade titles, they’ve basically released something for everyone, and I still find myself being surprised fairly often by the games they shove into the AppStore’s virtual shelves. Case and point? One Tap Hero, the new Puzzle Platformer from Coconut Island Studios (developers of the physics puzzler, Finger Balance and the score-chasing toilet paper dragging game, iDrag Paper).
I should say that I know there are some gamers out there, platformer fans, who are worried about a ‘one tap plat former’ – but with games like ChocoRun, Wind-up Knight, 1-Bit Ninja, the newer titles Bitless and Sunshine, and the onslaught of Endless Runners with platforming elements that have made their way onto the iDevice, I was pretty excited to check out another addition to the genre. Knowing that like-minded titles can range from fairly easy with simple level designs to hardcore with crazy level designs and enemies/hazards everywhere, I wasn’t sure what to really expect, but I knew right away that it had the potential to be a great game. Even then, I was still surprised while making my way through the game.
One Tap Hero is the story of a little ghost looking creature who’s, in a way, chasing after his abducted girlfriend. While out in a field one day, a wizard appeared, turned his girlfriend into a zombie like teddy bear, and now, as you collect stars from each of the levels, you’re slowly turning your sweetheart back into the normal cutesy little creature she use to be.
As the name suggests, One Tap Hero is controlled by tapping an action button. That’s right, everything in the game is controlled this way; jumping, climbing ladders, switching levers, stopping at certain spots and more. Your character constantly moves throughout the level, bouncing off of walls, while you try and collect all 3 stars in a level, and make it to your girlfriend. The amount of different things your character could do with just one tap actually kind of threw me off guard, but with some great level designs, and well thought out gameplay, it never got too cluttered up, wanting your character to do one thing, but having him doing another was something that just does not happen throughout the game.
One Tap Hero’s Story Mode contains 4 separate environments, each offering up new mechanics and atmospheres, and having 20 stages, along with 5 bonus levels which can be unlocked by collecting hard to snag keys throughout some of the stages. Each level has a possible 3 star ranking, along with coins which you can try and collect, which adds to your total score, as well as another challenge to try and master. You can also spend your coins in the game’s shop, which lets you purchase different outfits, keys to unlock bonus levels, and bombs which you can use to take out the ninja enemies later on in the game. Also, these days, almost every time you see a shop in a game, you can bet there’s going to be IAPs, and there are; 1,500 coins for $0.99, 5,000 for $1.99, 15,000 for $2.99, 30,000 for $3.99 and each bomb costs $0.99, but you don’t NEED to purchase anything extra to enjoy and complete the game.
The graphics and animations do a great job of helping to draw you into the world of One Tap Hero. Levels are placed on top of various backdrops, and I will admit, as much as I love retro graphics, it’s nice when a platformer strays away from this. The animations are nice and smooth, and do a great job of keeping players immersed in the game. Completing this is a wonderful relaxing soundtrack, matching the gameplay and environments perfectly, and complimenting the atmosphere quite a bit.
Coconut Island has also done a fantastic job with the level designs. Even though the games difficulty isn’t really up there on the charts, that doesn’t mean that the levels are simplistic by any means. With perfectly placed pits, platforms, stars, coins and hazards, alongside levers that move entire sections of stages, spikes, rotating worlds and more, it’s very clear that a crazy amount of time has gone into the level designs, especially later on in the game.
GameCenter integration adds the final touches, with 4 leaderboards, one for the total score of each world and 43 achievements, there’s enough content and replay value to keep gamers busy for a while. Priced at $0.99 and being Universal, One Tap Hero is another great Chillingo publication. Coconut Island has done a great job with just about every single aspect of the game, and compared to their previous titles, it‘s clear that they‘ve learned quite a bit in their so-far short developing life-cycle. Though, it would be nice if there was more of a challenge, and the constant back and forth with the difficulty levels as you progress through the game would have been much better as a constant upward climb in difficulty. Power-ups would have also been a great inclusion, especially later on when the enemies make an appearance. But even so, One Tap Hero is another great addition to the Single Tap Platformer genre, and one that casual as well as hardcore gamers can enjoy. Now let’s just hope that this Chillingo game will be updated and that ’Coming Soon’ world actually does come soon.
Crazy Rings by Cervo Media, released as Riot Rings, is a fantastic bubble popper. Using zoo animals as marbles, and including boss-like fights, along with the amount of polish, 3 Gameplay Modes and replay value enhanced by GameCenter support all make Crazy Rings one of the best Zumaesque titles on the iOS. Now, still a year later, Crazy Rings can be found on both my iPad and my iPod, and with the added Freeplay and Zen gameplay modes, chances are it’ll never leave my devices, and will be transferred over to every new device I happen to get. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is definitely one game you’ll want to make sure and check out.
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.1
Riot Rings is a new Zuma-type bubble popper from Cervo Media GMBH. In it, you’ll match up groups of 3 or more different animal bubbles to clear out multiple rings thought over 100 levels and 3 different gameplay modes. Right off the bat, I want to say that Riot Rings is now my favorite Zuma type game, knocking The Temple Zumas out of the #1 spot. Cervo Media has taken the bubble popper game, and expanded it in a pretty original way. Instead of trying to clear out the bubbles before they get to the end point, you try and clear out the bubbles before the key on one end, and lock on the other end of the ring touch each other. To make it even more interesting, animals are flung into the rack from the outsides of the screen along with the animals that you fling into the rack from the middle of the screen.
The controls are pretty much like every other Zuma-type game out there, where you touch where you want your bubble to go. And like all other Zuma-type games out there, this is easier said that done. There’s various twists and turns in the rings that give you some pretty awkward angles to shoot at.
Also, sometimes there’s inner and outer rings, causing you to sometimes wait for one ring to pass before you can hit an outer ring, or you will have a ring around your shooting area, with more rings on other parts of the screen, or even sometimes shake, constantly move, speed up, or shrink in completely, causing you to miss your target, or even worse, causing the key and lock to come together. There are, however, power-ups, which can help out big time. There’s a power-ups ranging from pieces of chicken that clear out big sections of the racks, to needles which can slow down the movement. These, put together with bosses, stones, and really so many different mechanics, that I can’t name or describe them all, makes Riot Rings easily one of the most interesting and fun Zuma-type games available in the AppStore.
The graphics are top notch, very polished, and retina display supported. The clouds hovering above some parts of the screen add a lot to the feel of the game, as do the great animal sounds. The controls are very tight and responsive, there’s GameCenter leaderboards, 3 star time-based rankings to try and snag, and re-playable levels along with Endless and Zen Modes to play after you’re done with the Campaign.
Riot Rings is great for all ages, and even my wife has started to obsess over it, and there’s 3 available profiles so that multiple gamers can play on one device. I can not say one bad thing about this game. It’s done extremely well, adds a lot of gameplay mechanics to the tired Zuma-like gameplay, and you’re bound to see something new every time you play. For $0.99, it’s a steal. The iPad version is $2.99, which is still a great price for all the content and gameplay you’ll get out of this game. I really can not recommend it enough, even if bubble popping isn’t your thing, this game is sure to show you a great time, and give you tons of hours of entertainment.
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!
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.
I am constantly amazed by iOS games. Whenever I even so much as start to think that there’s nowhere else for games to go, WHAM. I find myself in the midst of an original and unique type of game that I’ve yet to see in the AppStore, and it’s almost always by an indie developer I’ve never heard of prior to that release. Well, here it is again, another awesome surprise from a new-to-the-iOS-scene, Spencer Cordes first foray into the AppStore, Tread of the Dead. Ready for another surprise? It’s a zombie game. Yeah, that’s not the surprise. It’s a zombie game, and I’m not sitting here wishing it wasn’t. SURPRISE.
Tread of the Dead is a tilt-based survival game that focuses more on quick thinking and puzzle solving than actual zombie killing and survival. Each stage gives you 3 different weapons to fling at the oncoming zombies, and your goal is to guide these weapons into the various patterns of zombies, slicing each of them in half before you run out of your available gear.
Starting off, you’re only given chainsaws, which are able to take care of the first patterns, and usually in one go, but as you progress through the game, and the zombie’s patterns get more complex, some swift and skillful tilting will be required in order to destroy all of the zombies. Then you’re given another weapon. Shuriken. These nifty little ninja stars are able to either stay locked together as one zombie killing weapon, or split up into 3 equally separated stars preformed by tapping anywhere on the screen. Pulling this off just right can slice up tightly nit zombies while transforming from one to three stars, but only if timed just right. As you progress even further, you’ll unlock pipe bombs, zombies with bombs strapped to their chests, direction changing machetes and more will help you take out the crazy amount of zombies in even crazier patterns as well as some incredibly tough boss battles. Another fantastic thing that’s been thrown in for good measure is the between-worlds ride where you’ll get a environment specific vehicle to mow down road fairing zombies as you move on to your next location.
As if that weren’t enough, Tread of the Dead also contains 4 additional gameplay modes, with one being unlocked every time you complete a world in Adventure Mode. These 4 additional modes? Arcade, where you’ll be armed with a never-ending supply of chainsaws to take out an endless amount of zombies. Once a zombie reaches you, it’s game over. Infinisaw lets you tilt a never stopping chainsaw into an endless mass of zombies as a timer runs down. Here, for each large combo you get, more time will be added to the timer. Once it runs out, that’s it. There’s also Vehicular Mode, which lets you chase down zombies while avoiding objects. Gas is given to you for building up large combos, and once you run out of gas, game over. The last mode is Zombified, where you get to take control of a zombie, and play an endless distance game, avoiding all of the objects that come flying your way.
The graphics and animations are well done, though they are reminiscent of many other Doodle games, they aren’t really cheap looking, but graphics are not this game’s strong suit. However, the animations are great, with nice deaths and cheesy explosions, it’s hard not to laugh, and be drawn into the gameplay even more. GameCenter integration is also included, with leaderboards for each of the Adventure Mode’s 4 Worlds, your Total Adventure Mode Score, and for each of the 4 other gameplay modes as well as 38 great achievements. Tread of the Dead also contains a great in-game stat section where you can check out loads of different stats, and a skin menu, where you can change the colors of all of your weapons once you kill a certain amount of zombies, giving the game even more added replay value.
Priced at $0.99, being Universal, and with the incredible amount of content, as well as the crazy high replay value, Tread of the Dead is a great buy. Developer Spencer Cordes has also stated that more content is on the way, as well as touch screen controls so that iPad gamers won’t have to deal with the sore wrists that come with tilting your device for long periods of time. There’s also a lite version if you’re still on the fence after reading this, and checking out the trailer. I, for one, definitely hope to see more games come out of Mr. Cordes head. There’s obviously some incredibly good ideas bouncing around up there.
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.
The puzzle genre seems to be one of the most expansive genres of video games right now, reaching out and being merged with other genres and unique ideas week after week. Back in February, newcomer Fluttermind’s first iOS title, Incoboto, hit the AppStore, and gamers were exposed to one of the most unique, atmospheric and incredibly immersive action puzzlers to ever be released. And a couple of days ago, it was updated to include iPad 3 retina support, making it one of the most graphically stunning games available for the iOS.
Incoboto is the story of a little boy named Inco, living in a dying Universe, who awakes to find everyone he’s known dead and gone. Luckily, he’s not completely alone. That day, a sun named Helios approached Inco, saying he was hungry. Tired of staring off into space, watching the Universe die, they set off on their journey. Clues are left everywhere pushing him in the direction of The Corporation. The company who’s built, produced and basically rules everything, everywhere.
Movement is simple; touching on either side of the screen moves Inco in that direction, and tapping on the screen or swiping upwards causes Inco to jump. You’re also able to choose a joypad control scheme which gives you left/right buttons. Still, a tap or swipe upwards is required to jump. When you run into an object that can be fiddled with, read or picked up, a finger will appear above it, and to interact with it, you just need to tap under the finger. In order to drop an object, you tap Inco, to throw an object, you need to draw a line from Inco in the direction you want to throw, and to scan objects, you press two fingers down on both sides of the object.
Each level contains a certain amount of Starpieces, which you need to figure out how to collect so that you can feed them to Helios. Once you do, he will have enough power to open up the next Stargate so that you can progress to the next level. There are also 50 Star Charts lying around throughout the game, which you don’t need to collect, but collecting them all will get you a bonus at the end of the game.
Each world you come across will become progressively more difficult, with more and more objects, hazards, and gameplay mechanics being introduced almost every time you move forward. These include gravity beams, rotating planets, movable platforms, objects which require energy balls in order to run and loads more. The level design, and where all of the interactive objects are placed are fantastic, and very well thought out.
Graphically, the game is incredibly atmospheric, and combined with all of the clues and other text included in the game, creates a very gloomy and bittersweet environment. The lo-fi ambient music and sounds also help lend a hand to the game’s feeling, and perfectly complete the immersion provided by the gameplay.
With Incoboto priced at $3.99, it’s a steal, as it’s one of the must have titles available for the iPad. GameCenter is supported, and includes 12 achievements, but once you complete the game, there’s not much replay value there. However, the 6 or so hours it’ll take you to complete the game is 6 hours you won’t soon forget. Fluttermind has created an iOS classic with Incoboto, and if you’re even remotely interested in puzzle, adventure, or darker video games, this is one that you need to check out, and we, here at The App Shack, are eagerly awaiting to hear what Fluttermind will bring to the platform next.
iOS ports of games from other platforms are really hitting their stride. But Radiangames has very quickly become one of the top name developers in the dual stick shmup genre within the iOS scene. Porting over Fireball, Ballistic, Super Crossfire and Inferno from the XBOX Live Arcade, they’ve gained an even larger fan-base, and shown that an addiction to spheres can actually be quite healthy. But their most recent title, Slydris, is something totally different. And it’s great being able to see another side of the Radiangames team.
Slydris, originally released for the PC and MAC earlier this year, is a unique block-based puzzler that will have you just as hooked as their awesome DS Arcade shooters. Like Radiangames other titles, Slydris has multiple play modes; Infinite, Zen, and Survival, each offering up varied gameplay. However, the goal is always the same; Keep clearing lines by lining up and moving pieces.
Now, in Infinite Mode, you’re only able to move one piece at a time, which really puts the emphases on what piece you do decide to move. With blocks falling down from the top of the screen after every turn, as well as pieces moving up from the bottom every time you clear 5 lines after you clear 30, this emphases on which piece you move becomes even greater, because once a block is unable to fall from the top, it’s game over. The same rules apply to Zen Mode, you can move one piece at a time, except you don’t need to worry about making room for blocks. There’s no game over in this mode, and it’s more of either a ‘get comfortable with the gameplay’ or an ‘I just want to play with no added pressure’ mode.
In Survival Mode, it get a little trickier. You’re given a certain number of random lines while you’re unable to move any blocks. Once the lines are set, you’ll have about 5 seconds to move as many pieces as you can while trying to get rid of those lines. It quickly becomes pretty frantic , and is easily my favorite mode of play.
In each mode, there is a gauge on the right side of the screen which, when filled, gives you a bomb which you’re able to use to clear any 3 lines with. This really comes in handy, especially in the later levels when you’re looking at a game ending situation. Like in Tetris, every 10 lines you clear is counted as a level, and once you reach that level. Once you reach a level, you’re able to start every game from then on at that level, which, like Radiangames previous titles, eliminates a lot of the starting game boredom after you’ve gotten really comfortable with the game. Also similar to Tetris is the combo scoring system. As you complete lines, more blocks will be able to fall down into the nooks and crannies of your wall which has the potential to wind up knocking out more lines. The more lines you clear, the bigger your multiplier will wind up being, and the bigger the score.
Learning how to line up blocks so that they fall down, clearing more blocks is essential if you want to compete on the GameCenter leaderboards. And with boards for both Infinite and Survival Modes, as well as 16 achievements, there’s plenty of added replay value if you do decide to go score-chasing. Seeing this other side of Radiangames has given me a newfound appreciation for their titles. With as addictive, hectic and fun as their shooters are, Radiangames has captures that type of frantic feeling and injected it perfectly into this unique, and incredibly entertaining block-sliding puzzler. For $1.99, it’s a must have for puzzle fans, as well as anyone else who’s interested in seeing that Radiangames developers aren’t all orbs and spheres. I really hope to see them branch out like this more often with future releases.