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Number of Results: 6

Review Rewind: Cubes Vs. Spheres

Cubes Vs. Spheres, the second iOS release of ShockPanda Games, hit the AppStore August 18th of last year. Since then, it’s gone through only two updates, but those two updates added quite a bit to the game. 3 endless survival levels and an extra difficulty, insane, filled with 10 new levels. Each stage offers up a challenge to get a perfect, or star, rating, done by hitting a certain score, and not taking any damage throughout the stage. The endless levels also add quite a bit of replay value, and that’s why it can still be found on both my iPod, and my iPad to this day. The core gameplay is so incredibly fun, that even though all you’re doing is blowing up boxes with spheres, I find myself playing it for hours on end. It’s definitely one title that everyone should check out.
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.0.
Cubes Vs. Spheres is a new 3D physics attack game by ShockPanda Games, creators of Space Bunnies, a personal favorite of mine. In it, you’re job is to fling spheres into cubes, protecting the circled area around your sphere chute. You’re given 30 levels, 10 in each difficulty of Easy, Medium, and Hard. The goal is to blow up cubes as they make their way towards you using different spheres that you can buy in the between levels shop; trying to produce huge combos by hitting cubes with bits and pieces of cubes that your spheres smack into and getting 3 stars, and a P, for “Perfect”, by not letting the cubes hit your area that‘s marked off within a circle. 
The game’s graphics are very minimal, but this makes it so that the engine can handle huge waves of cubes coming at you. The minimal graphics work so well, and look so polished, that it’s hard not to see how impressive they are while you’re playing. The level designs are great, and the structures in which the cubes come off of, and out of once they come towards you get more and more impressive as the move on. I found myself just scrolling around the levels sometimes checking out the structures, not paying attention to the cubes, and ended up with huge waves of them coming at me. It’s really a great looking game. 
You’re given 6 different spheres, that come out of a chute inside of your area. They are selectable at the bottom of the screen, and do not appear until you decide which sphere you want to fling at the cubes. There’s your regular sphere, which you can upgrade to split into 3 and 5 other spheres by tapping on the screen after you fling it at cubes, a fire sphere that explodes on impact into about 8 smaller spheres, a big black sphere that squashes cubes, and can smash through them, hitting cubes behind it, a sphere that locks on to the closest cube to your area, a freeze sphere that slows down cubes, and a decoy that draws cubes to it, exploding after a certain amount of time. You end up unlocking these with credits earned throughout the game, and need to keep buying them in order to use them. This isn’t a real problem though, because you’ll earn enough credits in each level for about 15 different spheres or more, and helps add to the strategic side of the game.
There are only 3 different cube enemies in the game. Red cubes, which you will see a lot of, black cubes, which are mixed in with the red cubes, and are more powerful, and harder to destroy, and sometimes cubes that are almost invisible. There are not very many of the invisible cubes throughout the game, but you will be checking the sides of each level just to make sure you know when they’re there or not. It would have been nice having more types of enemies, maybe enemies that are immune to some of your power-up spheres. Seeing a flaming cube that could melt your freeze spheres ice, or an assassin cube that could take out your decoy would have been awesome. But with the three enemies in the game, you get enough variety to keep you busy, and with the cubes moving differently each time you play the levels, you’ll never have the exact same experience twice. This randomized intelligent movement is great, and coupled with the GameCenter leaderboards, 3 star and P rankings, and achivements, add immensely to the replayability of the game. 
The physics in a game like this are very important, and ShockPanda Games has done an amazing job getting it just right. Seeing each cube explode when it’s hit with a sphere or bits of an exploding cube is awesome, and really nice eye candy and the spheres feel like they actually have some weight to them. The music in Cubes Vs. Spheres is fitting, minimal but kind of catchy, and fits with the atmosphere, but the effects for throwing spheres and hearing them bounce kind of made them sound like hippity hops that were filled to the extreme, and about to blow up. You are given two control schemes, one is tilt to turn, and the other is swipe to turn. Both work very well for this type of game, but there were a couple of times the screen would end up shooting upwards when I tried to fling my ball forward using the swipe controls. Not often, but it did happen. 
I’m giving Cubes Vs. Spheres 4.5 out of 5 stars, because even with it only having 3 different enemies, and experiencing a cube getting stuck way in the back of a level, unreachable, and having to replay that level, it’s an awesome game. Very well made, very polished, challenging, and a blast to play. The replayabilty is off the charts, and it’s one game that will never leave my device. For $0.99, including retina display, and being Universal, it’s a great deal. ShockPanda has definitely put a lot of time and effort into this game, and with them taking part in the Touch Arcade thread, I have no doubt that this game will get even better with only a few updates.

Chicken Doom [Bulkypix] – $2.99

Tower+Base Defense games are everywhere in the AppStore. It’s definitely a genre that has been overwhelmed with releases. With the growing capabilities of the iOS hardware as well as it’s software, this genre is finally expanding after a sort of dead period where nothing really new was hitting the gaming scene, and 3D Tower Defense titles seem to be gaining ground. The most recent TD release from the very prominent publishers over at Bulkypix is Chicken Doom. A tap-based 3D Base Defense title that has you defending a chicken in a lookout tower armed with a Gatling gun. 
Chicken Doom has you playing through various environments on Easy, Medium, and Hard difficulties. Your chicken sits at the top of the screen, back in the stage a bit, while enemies come at you, appearing from the bottom of the screen. The controls are simple; Tap on an enemy to fire at them. You can also hold down on the screen to constantly fire, but this knocks out any chance of building up a combo multiplier, seriously effecting your score. 
So long as you can hit enemies consecutively, without missing one or having too long of a break between hits, you’ll build up your combo, which, in-turn, seriously helps build up your score. The higher your score, the more currency, labeled as ‘Corn’, you’ll earn. Helping out with this is certain power-ups. You’ll be able to use these to increase your combo by picking up an individual enemy, and hitting them about 10 times. During this period, the action freezes, and the one enemy is the only enemy on the screen. 
You’re also able to purchase and upgrade power-ups in the store. Here, you can equip up to 4 power-ups, from a TNT Barrel, which rolls down the hill, flattening all the chickens in it’s path, a Bugger power-up, which covers the chickens in goo, and slows them down, a Chicken Bomb, which burns all surrounding chickens, and more. You are able to upgrade these as well, making them stronger and stronger as you progress through the game. Items will also be unlocked as you reach achievements within the game. A huge plus here is that there are no IAPs, so the game isn’t incredibly difficult just to push you towards throwing more money at the developers. Not to say that the game is easy. It’s not.
With each of the 6 stages having 3 difficulties, Medium and Hard will offer up quite a battle. You should definitely expect to spend quite a bit of time on these, and be ready to play them more than just a couple times before you complete them, especially in the later environments, which are unlocked after you complete the beginning levels. 
What really makes the game stand out is the Co-op Mode. You’re able to play every level with another player on the same device. Unfortunately, it does not support online co-op gameplay, which definitely would have made this one of the best base defense titles available in the AppStore. But it does add an extra level of fun as well as strategy to the game, which is fantastic to see within the genre. 
With Chicken Doom priced at $2.99, and on sale at the moment for $0.99, it’s definitely a game that base defense fans should check out. Yet again, Bulkypix doesn’t disappoint. The tap controls could use some tightening up, and more content would be great, as right now, even though the levels offer up plenty of replay value, especially when you take into account the 12 GameCenter Leaderboards, one for each stage, as well as co-op boards, and 24 Achievements. It could use some improvements, but it’s a huge step in the right direction for the 3D Base Defense genre. 

Boom Brigade 2 [10Tons] – $3.99

10tons has brought out some fantastic titles for the iOS gaming scene. Azkend, Joining Hands, Grim Joggers, Sparkle, and more. Boom Brigade, a tower defense/line-drawing strategy arcade title, is definitely one of my favorites from 10tons, which is kind of funny, because line-drawing games and I don’t really get along. But there’s something about Boom Brigade which just hit’s the right nerve with me. Now, I get to experience it all again. Boom Brigade 2 is finally here, and it’s everything you would expect in a sequel. The same great gameplay mechanics and type of gameplay as the original, with more of everything.
Boom Brigade is a real time strategy line drawing defense title. You might not think it, but all of those genres mashed together really seems to work out well, especially since 10tons has done such a great job with the design of the game. You’ll guide army men around the map by drawing lines for them to follow. Enemies come at you from all sides of the screen, and you need to defend your base through wave after wave. 
There are two modes contained in the game, the 30 level Campaign, and a Survival Mission Mode. In the campaign mode, before each mission, you’re able to select your load outs for the givin units, and then go into battle. While you’re in battle, you’re able to pause the action with the icon in the lower left corner, and draw the lines for your men to follow along. This really helps out when the action gets hectic, and it does get very hectic. Throughout the stage, various power-ups and health containers are dropped from the sky, helping you to fend off the onslaught of aliens. 
Boom Brigade’s line drawing controls are some of the best I’ve ever experienced on the touch screen. One of the things that really turns me off of line drawing games are the clumsy controls, never really drawing the line exactly where I want it to be, or not responding and cutting off halfway through a path. Here, 10tons has done an excellent job making the controls precise as well as responsive. 
Graphics-wise, Boom Brigade 2 has a top/down view of the battlefield, but that doesn’t effect the gameplay like you might think. Your units are very clear, and it’s easy to tell if you’re moving your machine gunner or shot gunner, and the environments have plenty of detail. The animations also help add to the gameplay, with great death scenes and sounds, blasting the enemy away becomes very satisfying.
With 30 missions spread across 3 environments, unlockable upgrades for every character, and loads of line drawing strategy, Boom Brigade 2 is a game that’s definitely worth picking up if you’re even remotely interested in the genres. Priced at $3.99 (on sale ATM for $2.99), and Universal, as well as including GameCenter support with a whopping 11 leader boards, and 16 achievements, and a whole set of Survival Missions, there’s loads of replay value to be had. 

Warmongers [Category 5 Games] – $1.99/$3.99

Castle Defense titles have become a great way to grab a few minutes of defense strategy gameplay while on the go, because of the AppStore. They’re great anywhere, appeal to a wide range of players, and hit that strategic nerve a lot of us gamers have without requiring us to play through a 2 hour game, or 45 minute level. While games like Stick and Cartoon Wars pioneered the genre on the iOS, games like Legendary Wars and the Fortune series pushed it more towards the hardcore strategy gamer, and that’s where Category 5 Games most recent title, Warmongers, fits in. 
Warmongers is a single screen, 5 lane defense title, which requires quite a bit of strategy to progress through. While battling it out through hundreds of levels, you’ll be able to collect coins, unlock and upgrade characters, build up powers, and select special ability giving colors for your army. 
Starting off, you’ll need to play through one area, with 3 stages. Each of these stages has 3 separate battles that you’ll need to complete in order to take over the area. Once you battle your way through all 9 stages, each getting progressively harder than the last, the territory is yours. As you make your way through the territories, more and more battles are required to play through before you take the territory over. 
In order to win a battle, you need to get enough of your characters over to the enemies side. At the top of the screen is a gauge, starting with each side locked at the middle. Once you get a character over to the enemies side, your gauge takes over a little bit of the enemies gauge. If they get a character over to your side, the gauge moves back. To win the battle, you need to completely own the enemies gauge. Sometimes it can take less than a minute, others, it’s an all out epic battle, going back and forth, with each side almost winning multiple times. It all depends on what characters you send out, when you send them out, what power ups you use and when, and when you use your special color ability. With each character you send out costing mana, and only 200 mana available to you at any given time, it’s usually a struggle the whole battle.

In the shop, you’re able to upgrade your characters, powers and colors. With each character, you can upgrade their level, which increases their defense, speed, and attack, or increase their attack and defense separately. You’re also able to purchase Bloodlust abilities, which are special attacks that can be used when your bloodlust gauge is filled. 
There are IAPs in the shop, and with no levels being able to be replayed for extra coinage, and the pretty high cost of upgrades and character unlocks, and the difficulty brought on by only having 200 mana available to you at any given time throughout the game (with characters mana costs being between 35 and 45) it can feel like the game is pushing you towards purchasing extra coins quite a bit. This is a shame, because everything else within the game is top-notch. Unfortunately, this push to purchase extra consumable IAPs after the original purchase of the game can be a real deal breaker for many gamers.

Right now, Warmongers is having a 50% off launching sale, and the iPhone version is priced at $0.99, with the HD version priced at $1.99. Considering it’s pushed towards purchasing extra coins through IAP, having a $1.99 and $3.99 title, and not being universal, it’s a hard game to recommend. But if you’re looking for a game that pushes you towards making certain upgrades without any experimentation, and loads of challenge, and high difficulty, then Warmongers is a strategy game you’ll most likely fall in love with. 

Funny Hell – 2.99 (Bulkypix + Fazen)

Real time base defense games have generated quite a following in the iOS gaming world. Cartoon Wars was my, and probably a whole lot of other’s, first foray into this genre. Even though there’s not a whole lot of variety throughout the genre, they really seem to sell well, and are almost always fairly addicting. I recently was able to get my hands on Funny Hell, developed by Fazen and published by the ever popular Bulkypix.

Like others in the genre, Funny Hell has you sending out various characters to battle the enemy. However, in Funny Hell, you’re given a mission or two at the beginning of each stage, which does set it slightly apart from other titles. The first 10 of 50 levels, that are split up across 5 different worlds, each leading you closer to the center of ’hell’, and each having an available 3 ‘skull‘ ranking, are set up like tutorial levels, adding another character to the line-up, and getting you acquainted with the enemies, and gameplay in general. Most of these levels are completed when you send out a certain number of characters, or kill a certain amount of enemies. After this, the gameplay picks up fairly quickly, with the first real stage’s mission having you survive for 3 minutes and 30 seconds, which, believe it or not, can prove to be quite the challenge, not often, but sometimes to a frustrating extent. There are more of these mission type levels as you progress throughout the game, having you save up a certain amount of coinage, or kill a certain amount of one type of enemy. It does add some extra strategy behind the already fairly strategic gameplay. Each of your characters has a certain ability, generally either shooting a projectile, or having a strong attack. There are some which both fire projectiles and melee attack, but cost more as well. You will need to go through some trial and error figuring out which enemies require which units to be sent out to ensure the most possible damage is done, but once you figure it out, deciding when on the battle field they should come into contact with each other also becomes part of the strategy. You’re able to build an offensive attacking stone type character on the side of your base, which tosses projectiles out, but only within a certain range. If you’re having trouble with some enemies, sometimes waiting for them to make it down towards your base so that you can also attack with that stone character is the best course of action. It makes for some challenging, and entertaining gameplay.
There is no upgrade store, which is kind of upsetting, but as you progress through the game,
Funny Hell is controlled like most other base defense titles, tapping on the units you want to send out, which are located at the bottom of the screen, and swiping anywhere else on the screen to scroll left and right. There are also coins which pop up randomly as you are battling, and they bounce along the ground, disappearing fairly quickly, and are picked up by tapping on them. This might become a problem for some gamers, because as the coins are bouncing, sometimes in the heat of the moment, you can wind up trying to tap on a coin, and end up tapping on a unit to be sent out since they are directly beneath the bouncing coins, and when it happens, it can be incredibly frustrating.
The graphics and animations are fantastic. Graphics-wise, the game is fairly cartoony, and very vibrant with loads of color. The character and enemy designs are done very well, and fit the extremely vibrant cartoon looking environments to a “T”. The animations for attacking, movement, falling objects, coins bouncing around, death, they’re all fantastic, really adding quite a bit to the entertainment. The BGM that’s included with the game brings it all together to create one hell of a great base defense game.
Funny Hell is definitely a release that deserves it’s $2.99 price tag, and then some. Being universal, and coupled with incredible replay value, emphasized by the addition of GameCenter leaderboards for Coins, Killed Monsters, and Skulls, along with an incredible 60 achievements to try and unlock. There’s quite a bit of challenge here, especially if you go ahead and try and grab 3 skull rankings on each stage. Having missions for each of the stages does bring some originality to the game, which is great to see within the base defense genre. It looks like December is a great month for Bulkypix publications. Fazen has created an extremely polished, and well produced title, and I can’t wait to see what they bring iOS gamers in the future!

Wind Up Robots – 0.99 (Soma Games)

As I said in our review for the Bulkypix title, Funny Hell, base defense games have gained quite a bit of fans in the AppStore. The iDevice is a prefect platform for the genre, and almost all of them do well in the AppStore, because the genre has such a dedicated following. However, it’s hard to find one that brings something new and original to the table. Here’s where Soma Games (developers of Bok Choy Boy and a favorite of mine, G: Into The Rain) picks up at with their release of Wind Up Robots, a base defense game with a fantastic story, loads of polish, an awesome upgrade system, and great gameplay. You’ll control various robots that have been built by Jack, the grandfather of a young boy named Zach. These robots are used to vanquish the darkness that dwells within the world. You’ll use them to guard Zach of the evil that’s trying to get at him while he sleeps.

In order to do this, you’ll need to equip your robot box with the robots that you want to use for the stage. As you progress through the game, more robots are added to your arsenal. Once you have your set-up, and start the level, each of the robots are shown at the bottom of the screen. To select them, all you need to do is tap on them, and then tap on where you want them to go on the bed where Zach’s sleeping. While you do this, evil creatures will start spawning at the end of the bed, and will be making their way towards you. If you end up placing your robots on the edges of the bed, you might just miss the evil creatures walking in the middle, so it’s best to have them placed more towards the head of the bed, at least at first. With this lay-out, you risk not being able to defeat the creatures before they run into Zach’s head, taking away his “Z’s”. So in the beginning of the game, there is quite a bit of risk/reward, and strategy in where you place your robots. After a couple levels, you can start using the shop to upgrade your robots with the coins that are picked up as you defeat enemies in-game. Here, you can increase their attack, defense, speed, and more, making it easier to place them in various places around the bed, not needing to risk them passing you and running directly into Zach. The money you collect, as well as the upgrades you purchase also carry over to a new game, which is awesome. If the game becomes too difficult, starting over can drastically decrease the challenge depending on how upgraded your robots are. This comes in handy, especially when younger kids are playing.
On top of the Story Mode, there is also a Quick Play Mode, in which you’re able to play through each of the levels which you’ve already been to in the Story Mode, as well as a Survival Level for each of the 4 rooms that you’ll be playing in. This helps bring the replay value up significantly.
The graphics and animations in Wind Up Robots are incredibly well done. They create an atmosphere that totally immerses gamers in to the gameplay. Considering the monsters only come out at night, you will be playing in dark rooms throughout the game, but because of this, the robots bight colors, and the light given off by them while taking care of the creatures, really stands out in a fantastic way. It’s not so dark that you are unable to see the objects found throughout the rooms, which is great, because they really give you the feeling that this is a house with a young boy living in it. Really, the game’s graphics and animations remind me of Disney movies, Toy Story in particular. The music is also a great addition to the atmosphere of the game, bringing the entire gameplay experience around, full-circle, making it an incredibly smooth, polished, fun game to get yourself wrapped up in.
For $0.99, and the game being Universal, it’s a fantastic buy. GameCenter is included, with 4 leaderboards for the Quick Play Survival Levels, adding even more replay value to the game. There are also 22 achievements to try and unlock, which also throws quite a bit of replay value at ya. The gameplay is suited for both adults, and kids, though it can get pretty challenging, which is where the carried over upgrades comes into play. If you’re a fan of base-defense games, and are looking for something new and original, Wind Up Robots is a perfect title to pick up. Soma Games has done an incredibly good job, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in the future, both with updates for Wind Up Robots, and for future games they might end up releasing!