Casual games with a story don’t really come around too often, and casual games with a long, deep, and well thought out story are pretty much non-existent. This is where Parogames Limited breaks the mold with their recently released title, Parodise. In this action/defense swiping game, you’ll learn about Parodise, your main character, Dumy-667, his supposed partner, Dumy-666, as well as his… boss, Yody, GOD, and Doomy.
To get through each day in Parodise, you’ll need to defend yourself against Doomy, a Dumy who has changed due to an insane amount of bottled up negative emotions, who will constantly be throwing objects at you. To do this, you’ll need to swipe on either the left, right, or both sides of Dumy-667, slicing each of these objects in two with your swords, but waiting until they get as close to your body as you can. Each object you successfully slice will add to your Soul Absorber, which, when full, will let you perform a super slash move that slices all the objects on the screen. Each time you get hit, you’ll loose one of two flames burning on the Holy Fire Defense System. Loose both flames and get hit again, and you’ll have to replay the level, but if you loose a flame, then slice an object, adding to your Soul Absorber, it will re-light the flame. Starting to sound confusing? Just wait until you really get into the story. Along with the Story Mode, there’s also a DOJO Mode, Hardcore Mode, Master Mode, and Panties Mode, each of which is unlocked by completing certain objectives in the previous Mode, thought these can be pretty challenging, and time consuming to unlock, once you do, it adds endless replayabilty to the game.
The graphics in Parodise are done in a nice and polished cartoony theme, with pretty interesting environments. The animations for all of the objects are done very well, adding loads of personality to the game, and everything in it. The music and effects give the game that real casual type feeling, and placed on top of the action filled gameplay actually fits perfectly with the game. This casual game with a deep, humorous, and profound story.
GameCenter is supported, with 63 achievements, and 4 leader boards, one for each of the unlockable Modes. There’s not a whole lot of replay value in the Story Mode, but with 4 endless Modes, there’s plenty to replay. Parodise is $1.99, and Universal, and right now is on sale for $0.99. This has quickly become one of my personal favorite casual games, and is so easy to recommend to everyone, hardcore gamers to casual gamers, this game will satisfy you in ways you never thought a casual game could. It’s addictive, funny, serious, challenging, and after the first couple days and little bit of story, you’ll start feeling for Dumy-667, feeling bad for him, rooting for him, and wondering what the hell is going on, all at the same time. This is one game no one should miss out on. Parogames has shown us with their first iOS release, that they are in this for the long haul, and are willing to put more work into their game than almost every other casual game developer.
I’ve said many times that Metroidvania is my favorite genre of video games, that includes off-shots, like plat formers that have a lot of exploration involved, or plat formers that require you to collect certain items, and then go back and replay levels, being able to reach different sections of those levels because of your new items. In my mind, they all fall into the same category, Metroidvania. Now, there’s only a handful or two of these types of games made for the iOS, but luckily, we can now add one more to that very short list. The Adventures Of Timmy: Run Kitty Run, by CB Labs.
This happens to be CB Labs first iOS release, but for fans of the genre, this doesn’t really scare us off. In fact, probably half of the Metroidvania titles for iOS right now are first games by indie developers. But if you are a little hesitant, don’t worry, there’s no need to be. The Adventures Of Timmy is a very polished, professional, awesome game with great level design, tons to explore, plenty of enemies, and nice controls, which consist of a moving joystick that auto-centers whenever you place your finger down, and a jump button that responds to how long you press your finger down on it. It might sound a little funky, but it works extremely well.
You’ll play as Timmy, a shy kid who always wears a cat suit. One day, the prettiest girl in school, Kitty, tries to befriend Timmy. But a big bully gets jealous because he “saw her first”, and decides to kidnap Kitty. Fortunately, you’ve got the courage to go after them.
You’ll make your way through 36 levels spread out over 4 different chapters. Each chapter has a different environment, new enemies, bigger levels, and of course, goes up in difficulty as you progress. The graphics are a kind of mesh of silhouette and cartoon styles. Throughout the game, most of the levels floors, trees, and objects are all silhouetted, with the main character, enemies, coins, boxes and backgrounds being in color, and looking like something you’d see on cartoon network. The animations for the main character, enemies, bosses and hazards are all very well executed, and add a ton to the polished feel of it all. The music fit’s the game, however, there is only one music track for each chapter. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it would be nice if there were maybe two tracks per chapter, switching every level. The effects are all top notch though, from background field noise to blips and pops of goo, and creaking of rope bridges, it all sounds very professional, and adds a ton to the atmosphere.
Chapter One is pretty simple, and the levels are not very impressive. It’s almost a straight shot from start to end, and will probably leave you wanting more. But if you push through the first 9 levels, the game really starts to open up, giving you multiple pathways, loads to explore, and sections that will take some skill and wall jumping in order to reach.
Within each level, there are coins and enemies scattered throughout, as well as one picture that you’ll need to hunt down in order to find. Sometimes you might just happen to come across it while looking for the exit, and other times, it will take multiple plays of a level, seeing if what’s down a hole is another platform, or a quick death. This would give the game a trial and error sort of feeling, which could upset some people, but thankfully, the developers have made it so that Timmy can hold on to, slide down, and jump off of walls. So, you want to see if there’s anything down a hole? Run off of the side of the platform, and fall back into the wall, slowly sliding down. Nothing there? Wall jump back up to the top of the platform. Very nicely done.
Along with a picture to collect in each of the 36 levels, there’s also 3 stars to try and snag. To get these, you will need to usually collect all the coins and kill all the enemies in a level. There are no time limits, so you can feel free to thoroughly explore every little nook and cranny in every level. This does help add to the replay value, as getting all of the stars will take quite a few attempts. There’s also GameCenter leader boards for your High-Score, which is a total of your best score in every level of the game, as well as a Total-Score, which combines all your scores, including every score for one level you might end up playing 4 or 5 times. Combined with 30 achievements, there’s quite a lot of content to explore, and tons to try and achieve, along with plenty of challenge.
The game is $0.99 right now, but that is the launch price, and should go up to $1.99 very soon. Even at the full price, The Adventures Of Timmy is a game that all plat former fans should check out, especially fans of exploratory plat formers. The graphics, animations, controls, sounds, level design, and gameplay is all extremely professional and very polished. Right now, it’s easily one of my favorites of the genre on the iOS.
The Adventures Of Timmy: Run Kitty Run gets a score of 9 out of 10.
I’ve said before that the platformer genre is one of my very top favorites, so when I heard of Black Hive Media’s Arcade Jumper, and saw a couple beta version screen shots, I was instantly intrigued. A “retro-inspired, endless, randomized side-scroller”? If done right, this could be one crazy great game. Considering the dev team is a husband and wife duo with a combined 10 years of experience, and numerous iOS releases under their belt, it was hard not to get excited. So after about 4 months of waiting for the game, it was finally released on September 26th.
In the game, you’ll start off playing as Eddy, and be able to unlock 3 additional characters with tickets that you’ll earn in-game. Now, the game is randomized, but only to an extent. You’ll go through Zones made up on 3 levels, and each Zone has it’s own theme. Zone 1 is Noob Hill Zone, and is a nice introduction. There are no real hazards here, a couple moving platforms, it’s really an intro zone. Zone 2 is called The Tilts, and here all of the platforms move like seesaws, either automatically, or with your character’s weight, and the rest of the game follows this type of set-up. But within each of the Zones, you never know what type of level you’ll encounter, though there are 3 general types, a Space Invaders theme, a Mario mixed with Sonic type theme, and a City-scape, kind of like Double Dragon type theme. It is also only endless in the sense that you can never replay the same game twice, but there are only 10 zones.
You’ll start off running through the level, jumping from platform to platform, either jumping on or shooting enemies, and head-butting blocks, a-la Mario, until you get all the way to the right side of the level. Here, you’ll need to collect the token floating in the air, which opens up the warp machine, which is back at the beginning of the level, so you’ll make your way back to the beginning, going left. The enemies re-spawn, so you can’t just do a speed run back to the beginning, but once you know where they all are, it takes about half the time to reach the warp machine, which, go figure, is an arcade machine. As you progress through the game, each zone requires that you collect more tokens, so sometimes you’ll go all the way to the right of a level, collect the token, and then come back to the middle, and collect a token there, and then go back to the right, collecting another token, before you head back to the warping arcade machine. There is a pretty good variety of enemies, each zone introducing new ones, as well as mixing in enemies you’ve already encountered. In each level, you’re aloud to take 3 hits, but loose those, or fall off of a platform, and it’s game over, and you’ll need to start from scratch. You can, however, earn a continue every 25,000 points.
There are also 3 mini-games, a Plinko like game where you’ll drop balls and have them bounce off of pegs, trying to get them into the highest point slot at the bottom, a Skee-ball type game, and yes, a Wack-A-Mole game. All of these will help you earn tokens which you can use to buy the 3 unlockable characters, along with other items. In the shop, you can buy a different controller set-up, a permanent space ship that will rotate around your character, and help you take care of enemies, and a pinball flipper that will bounce you back up onto a platform if you fall off. You are able to purchase 2500 tickets for $0.99 via IAP, but you can, of course, take your time and earn the tickets in-game, so it’s not necessary.
I did run across some bugs and weird issues while I was playing, for instance, if you’re running, and run against a platform that came down to squish you, while you are waiting for it to rise up again, the screen will keep going right, like your character was still in the middle of the screen, leaving you all the way on the left side of the screen, and then disappearing, until the game over screen pops up. Also, when a platform is seesawing, the coins, tokens, fruits and enemies that are on that platform are not stationary, and are left to fall off of these moving platforms. There were some instances where I would shoot at an enemy, and my shot would go right through it, or I would accidentally run into an enemy, and he would crawl up and around my character without harming him. Lastly, there are some weird collision detection issues with the platforms, enemies, and especially the boxes you’ll need to head-butt. The boxes do not let you jump through them while you’re right under them, but if you go at them from an angle, you will be able to jump right through them. These issues, all but the collision detection and objects on seesawing platforms, are rare, and I only encountered once or twice. But they are still present, though nothing that can’t be fixed with a quick update, and I’m not even sure the free moving objects on seesaws is an issue, might just be something I consider a little weird.
Still, Arcade Jumper is a nice randomized plat former that does present quite the challenge, and does have decent controls, physics, graphics, and gameplay. For $1.99, and the game being Universal and supported by iCade, if you’re a plat former fan, as well as an old-school arcade buff, you should enjoy what Black Hive Media has produced here. There’s also GameCenter leader boards for highest score, furthest zone reached, and all of the mini-games. There are also 20 achievements, but an update is needed in order for them to work, right now none of them are unlocking. If you are bugged by issues, and are looking for a highly polished and top notch platformer, you might want to wait and come back to Arcade Jumper after it’s had an update or two.
I’ve said many times before that Metroidvania games are my favorite types of games, but right under it is, of course, platformers. Before playing Super Meat Boy for the first time last year, I hadn’t come across any speed run platform game, and since, only a couple made for the iOS; League Of Evil and Mos Speedrun being the first two, and then the recent release of Stardash added to that little list of mine. Now I have yet another speed run plat former to drive me crazy and go nutzo over.
Commander Pixman is this new addition, developed by One Minute Games, and is their 2nd release in the AppStore (preceded by Quad Pong). First off, I should say that if you’re expecting another LoE, Mos, or Stardash type game, you will probably be disappointed once you start up Commander Pixman. The physics take a little getting use to, as do the controls, and the main character has a gun. However, once you get use to the controls, thinking of the jump button as more of a jetpack thruster button, the controls and physics come together nicely. If you completely avoid using the gun, you’ll make it harder on yourself to get through the levels, but you’ll be able to get through them quicker once you figure out the right path, which will take you numerous re-tries, which is to be expected in the genre. Though taking your time, and using your gun to destroy all the enemies in a level will earn you a badge for that level.
The graphics are 8-bit retro styled, which in itself has become more modern than old-school over the last couple years, though here, it fits. The difficulty and ‘learn the controls’ feeling you’ll see from the beginning of the game through to the end completely screams old-school inspired. The soundtrack is also done in chip-tune style, and helps add to the overall feeling of the game.
Each of the 80 levels (65 regular levels plus 15 unlockable ones) contains hazards and obstacles for you to jump over, through, or avoid while trying to make it to the end of the level as quick as you can. The faster you make it through each stage, the higher star rank you’ll get at the end, while a perfect run will give you 3 stars. There are 20 different hazards/obstacles, including spikes, laser doors, rotating chainsaw blades, mines, various monsters, moving platforms, disintegrating platforms, sections of the floor that boost your jump, and in the later levels, portals that transfer not only you, but your momentum, and more.
To unlock each of the 15 bonus levels, you’ll need to complete different objectives. To unlock the first bonus level, you’ll need to get reach level 20, and to unlock the second bonus level you need to kill all enemies in level 22 in less than 13 seconds.
Now, even with it centering around collecting badges and getting the quickest time you can, there is no online leader board or achievement support, which does kind of take away from the drive of getting 3 stars in a level, or getting the best time you can, and collecting all the badges. Also, you can not run off of a platform that has a spike sticking off the 90 degree edge of it without dying. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but it does. The left and right directional arrows are kind of too far apart as well. But aside from these things, Commander Pixman is a very competent speed run plat former, with controls that work very well once you get use to them, and great physics. There’s also portals with the nice physics attached to them, and that does add a ton to the gameplay. Right now it’s on sale for $0.99, but only for a limited time, after that it’ll be $1.99, and with all the content within the game, even without online support, is well worth the price. There’s also more content promised in future updates, so if you’re a plat former fan, speed run fan, or old-school game fan, Commander Pixman is definitely worth picking up.
With Apple bringing gamers a device that can utilize tilting controls, developers have pretty much been able to invent new genres of games based around that device function. Tilt To Live is one of these types of games, making gamers tilt their iPods to maneuver their triangle through dots/enemies on the screen, using power-ups to defeat them. Since then, there’s been quite a few games that have built on this type of gameplay, and created a whole “Tilt To Live” genre of games for the iOS. The newest addition to the TTL genre is FlipShip, by ByteSize Games, which is their first iOS release. And what a great first release it is.
Expanding on the Tilt To Live idea, you’ll maneuver one of three types of ships around your screen, dodging two different colors of enemy ships, shooting, and using power-ups to take as many of them out as you can. Here’s the catch; to shoot an enemy, your ship must be the same color as that enemy, and to change colors, you simply tap the screen. Also, the longer you stay one color, the bigger your combo gets, and the more points you get per destroyed ship – but that combo score is banked, and only added to your total score once you change the color of your ship again. This can lead to the loss of millions of points if you’re not careful, but also gives gamers a very nice risk/reward gameplay mechanic.
The controls for FlipShip are, like you’d hope for in a game like this, very nice and tight, making weaving in-between groups of enemies doable, if you’re careful. One tap on the screen changes the color of your ship, and resets your combo score, saving the score you’ve built up, and tapping on the icon in the lower right corner (this can also be changed to go into the left corner) will activate your special ability, which is different with each ship. There are quite a few calibration options, but by default, the game will automatically calibrate at the beginning of every game, and every time you resume the game from the pause menu. You can also adjust the sensitivity of the vertical and horizontal tilting aspects.
The graphics are retro/vector styled, and really feel quite nice. There is more detail than most vector styled iOS games within the different ships and enemies. The backgrounds are all pretty much the same, but each time you play, the background and enemies will all be different colors. There’s red, blue, green and yellow, and each time you play, two of these colors are chosen. The music is your typical pumping electronica music, but, like most games, it fits in very well with the action.
Now, with the power-ups, they are all the same for each of the 3 ships, there’s two types of bombs, once regular, and one electrical. The regular bomb blows up everything within it’s radius, and can cause a chain reaction, but generally not a big one. The electrical bomb shocks everything in it’s radius, and jumps from ship to ship if they’re close enough, so you could, in theory, clear out an entire screen of enemies if you time running into this electrical bomb just right. The clock power-up slows down all the enemies on the screen for a short period of time, making it easier to escape large groups of enemies that are the opposite color of your ship, helping you build your combo score even higher. There’s also a power up that boosts your ship in the tilted direction, flying through, and destroying, any ships in it’s way, a seeker bomb, which sends out 6 different missiles, seeking out any enemies on the screen. Then, of course, there’s a shield power-up, and a power-up that refills your ability icon.
As for the abilities; they are different for each ship. There is a slow, average, and fast ship, each also having different firing attributes. The slow ship, called the “Steinway”, fires long projectiles out of a narrow section of the front of the ship, and it’s special ability is sending out 4 drones, 2 of each color. These drones don’t last long, but they can clear out quite a large group of enemies if used right. The average ship, called “Deadeye” shoots a short projectile out of a wide area of the front of the ship, and it’s special ability is called “Starburst”, which sends out a burst of colorless material in 8 directions, destroying everything in it’s path. The 3rd ship is the fast ship, and it’s called the “Preacher”. It’s able to shot in all directions, but it only shoots enemies that are close to it. It’s special ability is being able to change every ship on screen into the current color of the ship, making it pretty easy to build up a huge combo pretty quickly.
There is only one mode within FlipShip, but you are given 6 different difficulties; Very Easy, Easy, Medium, Hard, Very Hard and Insane. All of the different difficulties are on the same difficulty scale, but starting on the harder difficulties starts the game off harder, stays harder, and increases the difficulty quicker. Each different difficulty effects the enemy spawning rate, their speed, what enemy patterns you will see, and how difficult those patterns will be. So really, if you start a game on Very Easy, and you’re good enough, you can make it to the Insane difficulty gameplay. It will just take you longer than if you start out on any difficulty above Very Easy. Insane difficulty throws you right into the hardest difficulty the game will be. This growth of difficulty makes the game accessible to all gamers, and also gives hardcore gamers quite the challenge. However, making it so that less power-ups were present in harder difficulties, and the players abilities charged slower the harder you started the game off at, would be a nice addition to really separate the difficulty modes a bit more. It would also be great to see more gameplay modes in the future. There’s also the feeling that one death is enough to re-start the whole game. If you’re playing, and rack up a score of 1 million points with your first life, and end up loosing it before changing colors and banking that score, it really makes more sense to restart the game than to play through your last 2 lives. Some gamers might also find that 6 difficulties is just too many, especially when they’re all basically the same. There are also some color combinations that don’t mix together too well. For instance, Green and Yellow are a little too much alike, and do not have much contrast. However, Red and Blue, or Blue and Yellow, go together very well, and being able to choose these colors would be great, and would also be a good idea for our color-blind gamers out there.
But FlipShip, as it is now, with GameCenter support, leader boards for each of the difficulties, 50 achievements, 3 ships, accessibility to casual and hardcore gamers, and an exceedingly well done addictive risk/reward combo scoring system, $1.99 for the game is a great price, made even better because right now it‘s on sale for $0.99. It’s got tons of style, and some very intense action. ByteSize Games have proven that the Tilt To Live genre is still alive and thriving, and can still be expanded on. If you’re a fan of the genre, want a challenge, or are a high-score monger, like myself, FlipShip is a no-brainer must buy. I’m definitely looking forward to future updates, and seeing what ByteSize brings to the table with future games.
Tweet In a world of crime, genocide, and developers that integrate in app purchases there is little room to relax. Even our gaming experiences are stressful like Gears of War 3 or RAGE. Idyllic by Fatcow Games fills that hole with relaxing tilt-based gameplay that is easy on the eye and aesthetically pleasing to boot.
First things first, this is by no means a vertical jumper like DoodleJump and its millions of clones. You jump horizontal in Idyllic which can be a bit trickier as more precision is needed but is a welcome change. Similar to its predecessors the gameplay is in fact infinite so you are getting your moneys worth by investing 1.99 in it. But where it differs is in the character upgrades, upgradeable powers, mini bosses and coin collecting.
When you first start off the gameplay is a little slow and it takes awhile to get to where you feel comfortably challenged by the gameplay. In fact, most of my main deaths occurred early in the game because I tend to over tilt. The reason why I say early in the game is because there are checkpoints in the shape of houses placed randomly along the course of the game. The game saves your progress there and whenever you die or accidentally lose battery power you always restart at that particular part. That means no drudging through the same platforms over and over again to get back to the point you were before. I haven’t got far enough to really test the infinite gameplay aspect of the game but rather than spending all of my life playing Idyllic I’m going to take the developers word on this one. After you bounce on a platform it changes from evil to good. Apparently you are on a quest after you find your world in pain to restore your planet to the way it used to be. Later in the game it of course speeds up and gets harder to be sure you’ll land your jumps successfully.
At each checkpoint you can buy upgrades with the coins you find randomly strewn about the level. These upgrades vary between increasing the value of your coins and allowing you to double jump in the game. This adds a extra element of replayability to the game as you will have a extra objective rather than just jumping around aimlessly. Your two basic abilities are power smash and flap. With Power Smash you can come crashing down on a platform or enemy to procure coins reminiscent of Mario. Flap allows you to grow wings and float over to a platform in case you misjump. These abilities recharge over time and one of the upgrades is in fact to reduce the time it takes to recharge.
The music is fantastic and has a deep relaxing melodic feel to it that draws you into the game. The graphics are good particularly the backgrounds which feel like they had a lot of work put into them. Overall this is a great casual endless jumping game that really drew me in and had me playing for quite some time. If you have some spare change on your account there is no better place to spend it than on Idyllic. I give it 9/10
Platformers have been my favorite genre of games ever since I was 5 and introduced to the original Super Mario Brothers. That love affair carried on throughout the years with the rest of the Mario series, the Metroid series, Sonic, and really, too many more to name, but I can’t tell you how many hours I put into Super Mario Land and Metroid II on my GameBoy. Until recently, I figured those types of memories were long gone, never to be relived again. Enter – the AppStore.
Retro styled plat formers on the iOS totally take me back to childhood gaming, spending hours upon hours of my life staring at a black and yellow screen. 1-Bit Ninja almost totally nailed it, but after about 4 hours, I found myself tired of it. Meganoid respawned something in me that had long been forgotten, and I really couldn’t thank Orange Pixel enough, but now they’ve released Stardash, and I feel like I owe them even more. They have captured the look of old-school GameBoy games, and modernized it in just the perfect way. The difficulty level is also pretty high, though not as high as Meganoid, coupled with the graphics, it takes me back to a time before I was a pimply, full of rage, teenager, when life was good, and all that mattered was getting home from school and playing video games with my friends.
Stardash is an awesome plat former game, and will most likely end up in my top 3 favorites for the year, if not snagging the number 1 spot completely. The controls are great. Not perfect, like, say, League Of Evil, or Mos Speedrun, but they work very well. You don’t need to pick up your finger to change direction, which is a big issue with some iOS platform games, as dragging your finger back and forth on the directional buttons is a huge part of platform gaming, and the jump button responds to how long you hold it down. You’re also able to save your jump, and use it in the air, for instance; I’m running, and fall off of a cliff, barely missing the next platform, but op, it’s okay because I can use my jump while in the air to make it onto that platform I would have otherwise missed. This is not to be confused with a double jump, because if you decide to jump off of a platform into the air, you can not jump again until you touch the ground. This approach to movement mechanics has helped Orange Pixel come up with some pretty sweet, and challenging, level designs.
Within each level, there is a hidden “temple key”. Collecting these in each world’s nine levels will open up a 10th, and extra challenging “temple” level. Each of these keys are hidden pretty well, usually in platforms that you would usually jump over or pass up. Yes, that’s right, Stardash has the same kind of “hidden opening” sections that those who are familiar with Meganoid will be pretty familiar with. Along with the keys, there are two stars available for each level, one for getting all of the coins in the level, and another for getting to the end of the level before a timer runs out. You can take as long as you like getting through each level, but if you take longer than the timer, you will not get the “Dash” Star. To get these “Dash” Stars, you will need to find the best route through each of the levels, pretty much having a perfect run.
Getting the Dash Stars, and finding all of the hidden keys should prove to be quite the difficult task, but that’s not the only challenging part of the game. As you progress, each level gets slightly harder than the last, usually taking more than a couple tries to make it through. You are given an unlimited number of lives, so you can die as much as your little heart desires. To top off the great graphics, and perfect difficulty level, the developers have thrown in an awesome Mario-esque soundtrack to make sure you’re completely immersed in childhood memories.
Orange Pixel has proven that they know exactly what it takes to make a top notch plat former with the release of Meganoid, but they have taken it a step further here, and proven that they know exactly what top not plat former fans need to feel challenged and comfortable all at the same time. GameCenter and OpenFeint are also supported, giving players a global leader board, and 13 pretty tough achievements to try and grab. There are a couple bugs and issues that you might encounter while playing, like issues with the iCade controls, menus not responding 100% all of the time, and leaving a level you‘ve just reached while on the pause menu will re-lock that level, and some might find the game a little too difficult, but $1.99 for this Universal game is a great price considering you’ll be buying back a piece of your childhood. If you aren’t old enough to remember original GameBoy gaming, this would be the new title to grab if you’re interested in wondering what made a lot of us fall in love with gaming. It is hard, and with 40 levels, each requiring multiple plays in order to 100% complete them, Stardash should keep you busy for a while. Hopefully, like Meganoid, it will get a couple updates adding even more levels and gameplay to the mix, but even if it doesn’t, Stardash is a plat former all old-school, plat former, and challenging game fans should get as soon as possible.
Invasion Earth: 1953 is an endless shoot-em-up developed by 285 Digital. This is their first real game that’s been released for the iOS, and boy is it a great one. The AppStore has desperately needed a quality endless shmup for a long time now. We do have Gunrazor, but really, after about Wave 5, it’s just not very interesting. Invasion Earth: 1953 has filled a void on our devices, and really, we couldn’t be more grateful for it.
The game takes place in 1953, after World War 2, when tensions were still high, and the threat of invasion, both from other countries, and from space, were on the minds of everyone in the world. You’ll take the reigns of a UFO going up against the military, blasting them all to pieces. And better yet, it’s endless, so the difficulty just increases as you progress. This makes it a great game for casual and hardcore shmup gamers.
The game’s upgrade system is given to us in the Tiny Wings style. You will need to complete 3 different objectives in order to gain a power-up that will help you go further in the game, and get higher and higher scores. There are 31 objectives, and 12 different power-ups. Sometimes giving you a stronger magnet that will pull items to you from further away, other times giving you stronger abilities, or a permanent additional life to sacrifice in-game.
While you’re flying through the city, destroying helicopters, planes, and various aircraft bosses, each of the enemies will give you stars when destroyed. These stars add to your score multiplier, and fill up your ability gauge. There’s also random enemies that will drop weapon upgrades, and these are always highlighted by a little arrow that says “pickup” hovering next to it. When they’re destroyed, they’ll drop a hexagon shaped orb, when picked up, your weapon will get stronger.
You will always have 3 abilities that you can use when your ability gauge fills up. You’ll be able to choose between Magnet Power, which automatically draws all stars straight to you when enemies are destroyed, Shield, which absorbs enemies projectiles, and Laser, which lets you drag your finger on the right side of the screen to control a large powerful laser, each lasting a short period of time.
While you’re traveling through the city, you’ll be able to go through bonus rounds. These sort of signify the end of a wave, and start the next one when completed. Each bonus round has a certain amount of stars that you’ll need to try and collect. There’s also a health pick-up somewhere in the bonus level, which will take some quick maneuvering in order to snag. Collecting all the stars in a bonus round will give you a special perfect bonus round bonus score, which also helps with climbing the leader boards.
The graphics in Invasion Earth are extremely polished, and presented very well. The planes are graphically made to look the time period, and the animations are awesome, especially the animations for enemies blowing up, and the UFO being shot down. The music also adds quite a bit to the edge of your seat feeling you’ll have when playing through the game. The controls are also done extremely well, giving a 1:1 relative touch control that works perfectly, along with a little hit box on the UFO that’s easy to see, and great to use while dodging through enemy fire. However, your ship does cover up enemies projectiles when going over them, so perfectly maneuvering through enemy fire can be difficult, though not impossible.
285 Digital has presented an extremely well made, and very polished, professional shmup. One that is endless, with the difficulty rising perfectly. Casual gamers, as well as hardcore players will find Invasion Earth: 1953 extremely entertaining, and very easy to pick up and play. Right now, later in the game, there is some slowdown. After you hit around 200,000 points, you’ll notice that the frame-rate gets a little out of hand, and there’s some noticeable lag and jitteriness. The developers have commented on this, and have said that they are working on a solution to the problem by staying in contact with the #1 score holder on GameCenter, so hopefully this issue will be addressed soon. Aside from that one issue, and the UFO covering up enemies projectiles when going over them, I can not find anything else wrong with the game. It’s got loads of style, an awesome scoring system, fantastic gameplay, 3 GameCenter leader boards, endless replayabilty, and personality out the kazoo. Being $1.99, it’s an awesome buy, and one that every shmup fan should get as soon as possible.
Fruity Jelly is a new puzzle platform type game by Scorsoft and published by the oh so popular, BulkyPix (Pix‘n Love Rush, Babel Rising, and many more). In the game, you will play as a little jelly who is the only one of his village left after an evil being went on a vicious rampage, threatening the fate of the peaceful and calm jelly society. You will need to collect all the fruits in each level and make it to the flower that pops up to save your friends, and restore the balance of this jelly land.
There are two control options for the game, tilting and virtual controls. Tilting will let you tilt your iDevice to move the little jelly through the levels, while having a button on each of the lower corners of the screen that can rotate each of the levels. The virtual controls will give you a slider bar for movement on the right side of the screen, and have both of the level rotating buttons on the bottom left side. Choosing to have the movement bar on the right side, instead of the left side, like most games, was kind of a risky move, but it works very well in Fruity Jelly, and only took a couple of seconds to get use to. You’re also able to pinch and pull the screen to zoom in and out, and double tap to enter a ‘scan’ mode, so you can look around the entire level before deciding what route you’d like to take. Wooden crates are also found in some of the levels, and to break them, you’ll need to tap on them, and some sections in the floors will require you to rotate the level to a certain angle, and then swipe down to make the jelly move through the holes in the floor.
The level rotating buttons are a great addition, as are the holes in the floors and wooden crates, and all really help expand the creation of the levels and level design throughout the game, which Scorsoft has done an amazing job with. You will need to rotate the level quite a few times in order to make it through each of the 40 levels in Fruity Jelly. There’s also one star in each of the levels, and sometimes collecting it can be quite the challenge. If you do manage to collect all the stars, bonus levels are unlocked for you, which are generally pretty fun. There is also a Time Attack Mode, in which you can try and get through each of the levels as fast as you can, going for the gold star time, which requires you to go through each level perfectly.
The graphics in Fruity Jelly are done exceptionally well. Along with all of the animations for all of the different enemies, the flower, water, all of the different animations for jelly, like squishing when falling from a high spot, or being hit by an enemy, even all of the fruits move, Fruity Jelly looks very professional, and playing through each of the levels, you can tell that a lot of work and thought has gone into each and every aspect of the game, how it looks, how it sounds, how it plays, and each and every route you can take to get to the end of the levels.
Fruity Jelly does have OpenFeint support, with 23 achievements, but no leader boards, which is kind of upsetting. Having a Time Trial Mode, with no leader boards, so you can’t compare your times with friends or other players around the world, makes the Time Trial Mode a little less interesting, and takes away quite a bit from the replay ability. But there is still a bit of replay ability in getting all of the stars in the game will require a few replays of certain levels, and in some of the later levels, getting through them will require multiple plays. The level design is top notch, and the gameplay is super smooth, and entertaining. Being Universal, and $1.99, with more content on it’s way, it’s a great buy.
LightGuardian is a new 3D defense game, and the first iOS release, from Lukas Penkava. It’s definitely a different type of game, as I’ve never seen or played anything like it. You’ll control a light tower’s light while blimps come flying towards you. In order to take the blimps down, you’ll need to focus your light on them, heating them and blowing them up.The controls are kind of hard to get use to, but once you do, they work so well, and I really can’t think of a better way the game could be controlled. To move your light tower’s light, you place your finger on the section of the tower that’s right under the light, and drag it around. Up for down, down for up, right for left and left for right. This type of control, combined with the camera control that’s movable 360 degrees, and up and down, moving the camera in the direction you want it to move; ie, dragging up moves the camera up, dragging left moves the camera left, and so on – can get a little confusing at first. Dragging left to move the camera left, then needing to drag right to move the light left will take some getting use to, but after you do, it feels perfect and natural. This is another original aspect I haven’t seen before in any other game. Original controls, and original gameplay is risky for a developers first AppStore release, but Lukas Penkava has pulled it off flawlessly.
The game is set up as an endless arcade type game, where you’ll go through wave after wave of incoming blimps. There are different types of blimps, some taking longer to kill than others. With them coming at you in every direction, there’s a bit of strategy thrown in, as you’ll need to decide, quickly, which blimps are posing the biggest threat. You’re given a radar that helps you know when enemies are getting close to you. When it’s green, most enemies are far away, yellow means they’re getting close, and red means you’re in trouble, and need to deal with a blimp IMMEDIATELY.
One thing that might bother people when they first start is that the radar does not show dots, or where the blimps are. It just lets you know if a blimp is getting close. However, moving around, up, and down in the 360 degree play-field, constantly looking around trying to see where blimps are, what type they are, and trying to figure out how close they are, and how big of a threat they pose is a huge part of the gameplay. Having a radar that shows you exactly where every blimp is would take away a lot from the mechanics of the game, and really, take away a lot of the fun and challenge.
Taking down 4 blimps will get you a light bomb, which shows up as a tab in the lower left corner. This light bomb will take out any enemies that are in your radar’s red zone, so using it when you can’t find a blimp, or are overpowered with blimps is great. There’s also items that some enemies drop. A bolt, and a green gem. Bolts signify parts, and collecting a certain number will make your light house ray stronger. It might take a while to level up, as getting to level 2 takes 40 parts, and that number increases as the level goes up, but you can only reach level 4, so taking a while to level up is understandable. Collecting 3 gems will give you a charged light ray that lasts for a short period of time. When it’s available, a green icon appears in the lower right corner of the screen, and when activated, it turns your ray green. This is good for taking out some of the stronger blimps that you’ll encounter, and can do away with the weaker ones pretty easily. The bolts and green gems are automatically picked up when you hit them with your light ray.
The graphics in LightGuardian are very nice. The whole environment looks, and feels, great. It is a little weird, when looking straight down, to see your light house on a piece of rock floating in the sky, but the main menu gives you a great image of the light house on the floating rock, that looks exceptional, with vegetation growing up the sides of it, it really is very unique. Floating around in the sky, with you and the blimps, are more of these floating rocks with vegetation growing all over them, presenting a very nice atmosphere for the game. Beautifully made clouds are also surrounding the area, and with the shadowing from dark towards the bottom of the play-field, and light in the upper part, the blimps that appear out of nowhere are easy to pick out. You’ll never find yourself searching for a blimp against the backdrop of the game, which is great, especially when you’re spinning around trying to find the blimp that set off the yellow or red color on your radar. The animations of the moving blimps look great, making it look like the wind is actually blowing them towards you. One thing I would love to see is an actual explosion animation. I’m not sure what it could look like exactly, as explosions would not look very good within the setting of the game, but something more than the blimps just disappearing would be nice. Maybe a puff of smoke or something would go together good with the overall aesthetic of the game, but right now, that’s the only real nitpicky thing I can think of.
Lukas Penkava and team have done an amazing job putting this game together. I don’t know exactly how many people worked/are working on the game, but when I talked to Lukas, he used the term ’we’ more than once. He’s also mentioned a couple of mechanics that they’re thinking of implementing, but I’m not sure I should share them as they aren’t set in stone. What I will say is that they are still working on making LightGuardian even better than it already is. There is no GameCenter integration, but the developers do have an in-game online leader board, which is great, because players won’t need to worry about hacked GameCenter scores like with most other GC supported games. Some in-game achievements would be a wonderful addition to the game as well, as there’s quite a bit the developers could make achievements for; destroying # blimps, collecting # parts, reaching level #, ect. Universal support would be awesome too, as I’m sure gamers with iPads would love to see the graphics how they’re meant to be seen on their bigger screens, but for $1.99 (and currently on sale for $0.99), this is a must buy game. Endless replayabilty, updates that will make the game even better, and a beautiful and original gameplay experience. I really can not recommend LightGuardian enough. I’m also extremely hopeful of what the developing team will come up with in the future.