iPhone games roundup - July 2011
Posted by Kuang on Thu, 07 Jul 2011.
1 Bit Ninja
This is a throwback to the classic days of 2D platform gaming, complete with monochrome graphics and digital sounds that wouldn‘t be out of place on an original Nintendo Gameboy. 1 Bit Ninja throws a modern spanner into the works though - two, in fact. Firstly you can only run to the right and jump, so there‘s no fine tuning and going back for things you missed. Secondly, the game isn‘t entirely 2D - dragging a finger across the top of the screen allows the level to be viewed from slightly different angles and reveals that the flat scenery actually has depth. This means that what appeared to be a flat wall may have a secret entrance halfway down that leads to a different route. Unfortunately it‘s a gimmick that feels underused and at odds with the strict time limits. The idea is that you replay the levels for maximum points, and again for the quickest run, but the game is so unforgiving that you may not want to. Given that there are only controls for run and jump, jumping seems a little vague and frequently doesn‘t happen despite frantic stabbing at the screen. A death will take you back to the start of the level for another run - even Mario had restart points! It‘s an interesting title but probably a ‘marmite' one.
Devil Golf is a 3d crazy golf title featuring rather cutesy demonic characters who, for some reason, just stands there while you take your shots. It‘s a straightforward proposition - you have a ball and a 3D obstacle course in which there is a hole. Ball into hole in the least shots - got it? This would be fine, if the control scheme didn‘t have the biggest oversight in recent history: in order to play a shot you drag your finger to draw a line for distance and power, and release. This is pretty normal, but in Devil Golf you have to drag towards the target rather than drawing back. On small screened iOS devices this means you can‘t see where you‘re aiming until you remove your finger, and then you can‘t fine tune the position. You also have to repeatedly tap a set of arrows to spin the viewpoint instead of just holding one down.This renders the whole thing pretty much unplayable - if they can sort it out, it might be worth a look.
Cave Bowling is a simple physics game in which your caveman has to lob a bowling ball in order to knock down pins, which isn‘t that revolutionary. Thing is, the pins aren‘t lined up nicely on a smooth alley - they‘re scattered around a 2D sideways-on level featuring bonus collectible bones, turtle bumpers and other cavemen. You draw an angle and power, crazy birds style, then let rip - pins can knock over other pins to help you in your bonus collecting activities and the whole things chugs along nicely. It doesn‘t do anything special and never it feels like there‘s a huge challenge on offer, but it‘s OK for whiling away a few minutes.
Trucks & Skulls
Angry Birds with monster trucks and skulls. It‘s that simple. You have a few types of trucks with special tap attacks (tumble, charge, explode, bomb, split) and a series of skulls of different hardnesses, and the idea is that you introduce them to each other in the most explosive way imaginable. The controls are just what you‘d expect, but making fine adjustments to the angle without affecting the power, or vice versa, is pretty tough. There are lots of apparently useless in-app purchases that you‘ll want to avoid, and if you don‘t have Angry Birds already then there‘s really no reason to choose this over that. Otherwise it‘s a decent diversion but just doesn‘t feel as smooth or enjoyable as the game it rips off.
Race After 1977
When this post-apocalyptic racer was first launched the controls made it unplayable, so the developers put it on sale while they went to fix the problems. A few patches later and things have improved bit it‘s still a slightly unsatisfying experience. You‘ll be tearing around a variety of rough tracks using either an onboard or chase cam view, whilst racing against a field of equally grizzled apocalypse survivors. The problem is that the controls are still loose and feel disconnected, and the horizon can never keep up with the tilts of the device. You do have an option for tap controls but these make it hard to correct unintentional powerslides and you‘ll find yourself going into tankslappers while the pack races past. Getting overtaken will happen a lot on anything other than the easiest level, which is more likely to send you to sleep from boredom. To add insult to injury the game sucks a huge amount of battery power, and if you‘re using an iPod touch it‘ll be too hot and uncomfortable to hold after the first race. A brave attempt but with little to recommend it.
This is a freebie designed to advertise chewing gum of all things, but you‘ll struggle to work out how that has anything to do with the game! This is an odd audio based adventure designed by the people behind Papa Sangre. The only onscreen graphics are buttons for your left and right feet and a dial you use to turn - everything else happens in your earphones. You find yourself on the spacecraft Nightjar, just waking up as things are kicking off. It seems your crew have deserted you and your only ally is a strange voice that kicks in over the radio and begins to offer advice and guidance.
The idea of an audio only game is odd, but you have to let your imagination go with it. It uses a binaural sound engine, which is a way of accurately placing objects in 3D around the listener, so by tapping your left and right feet and turning the dial you can navigate around the Nightjar in darkness. You have to relax and listen carefully, but the quality of the sounds and narration (by Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch) is stunning and draws you into the atmosphere. It‘s a scary title, best enjoyed in the dark - when the ship tannoy announcements start to change from ‘there is - one - lifeform on board of which - one - is human' into something more sinister, you‘ll find yourself nervous and hooked in equal measures.