Dragger HD Review

Dragger HD Review

May 28, 2014

Dragger is a game of infectious joy from Twist Mobile.

The story runs thus: in a happy world inhabited by cheery jelly beings, a malevolent blob known as Evily rolls through, causing havoc and a dark pall to overtake the land. There is one survivor — our hero, Dragger — who works to lift the blight of sadness one jelly neighbor at a time.

It basically boils down to a physics puzzler, a 2D game of bowling, if you will, with saddies and stars as the main targets. Holding down Dragger and directing the shot to a target is how it starts, and “releasing” the jelly blob initiates the action. The first few levels are sedate enough, and work well to convey the gameplay; there is a set number of shots with which the player has to convert saddies and collect the stars by contact. And any contact is good, as moving saddies liberate other ones by touch, and can even collect stars. Using rebounded and/or transferred kinetic dra1energy is probably not going to be a winning strategy all the time, as struck saddies tend to not travel very far or for very long.

The levels get harder as progress is made, and more thought needs to be applied to make things happen. Just like in pool, the post-shot leave is key when more saddies are on the board because of the shot requirement; an errant shot can get Dragger blocked. Combo shots can be made, but do require a reasonable degree of precision to pull off; the power of the strikes can also be manipulated to a degree. Getting all three stars and converting the all saddies is the goal; levels can be repeated to effect this.

The graphics are rich and convey a fun experience, with vibrant colors and smooth animations.

All in all, it feels like the perfect time waster, with intuitive, freemium gameplay and looks that are easy on the eyes.

Polar Bowler Review

Polar Bowler Review

Apr 14, 2014

There are bowling games, and there are bowling games. Polar Bowler looks to NOT be your momma’s bowling simulation, and at first blush, it does well at being the renegade.

In a post-Angry Birds world, the initial element of catapulting animals will be fairly familiar. In this one, our genial bear, PB, straps himself on a tub of sorts, and with the help of a massive human-sized slingshot, becomes just the bowling ball that the curiously laid out set of bowling pins need.

The graphics are fairly sharp, quite representative of a polar atmosphere with a lot od whites and blues making up the landscape. The 3D representations are mostly reasonable, and are buttressed adequately by the animations. The control set involves gesture pulling and the occasional taps. The controls are a big part of the gameplay; to get PB in motion, “pulling back” and releasing in the direction of the pins is necessary. There are direction buttons pol1on each side of the play area that allow for the sling to be adjusted before the shot, and to also alter the direction of the already launched bear.

One aspects that makes the game unique is how the sets of pins are laid out. A typical level could have an initial set of pins, and another set or two in different areas that need some sort of finagling to get to; the basic idea is to knock down a set number of pins to advance.

The game has plenty of power-ups, some from wood cases that show up in the playing area, and others that are bonus grabs, or can be purchased with coins garnered from playing. The power-ups are stuff called tubes that can be selected prior to a run… stuff like pin magnets or extra jet power.

Yep, it’s fun. Some might balk at the additional in-app purchases after paying, but even as-is, it doesn’t feel like a wasted 99c.

PolarBowler, PB&J Sequel Coming Soon

PolarBowler, PB&J Sequel Coming Soon

Mar 11, 2014

PB Pose

WildTangent Studios has announced that a sequel to its popular game, featuring a groovy polar bear, PB and his friendly penguin J, is coming soon to Android. The game is a very unusual bowling simulator. If you want to see what’s coming, you can download the original for free: Polar Bowler 1st Frame on Google Play.

Rollabear Review

Rollabear Review

Jan 8, 2014

We know we like stuff projected by catapults. We know cute animals are to die for. We like physics puzzlers, adore gesture controls and absolutely live to knock over weird-sounding Homer Simpson wannabes.

Here’s Rollabear. It brings in subtle portions of all these elements. Somehow.

The gameplay is all explained in the doing. It’s virtual bowling on a whole new level. The backstory is a strange yet compelling tale that involves laundromat washing machines becoming portals to a forest world where grunting backwoods folk become bowling pins.

It (the gameplay) comes in three flavors. Campaign, Ten Round and Survivor. Campaign pits the player against AI in level-based gameplay. Ten Round is like “regular bowling over ten frames, while in Survivor, you have to get strikes or spares to stay alive.

To play, a virtual finger pull builds up the required kinetic power, while holding the extended elastic and shifting roll1the finger adjusts the direction. Releasing the catapult flings the bear projectile in the direction of the man-pins, which usually can just be seen in the distance. At some point during flight, the flung bear folds over and becomes more sphere-like. The basic rules of physics mostly hold sway. Hitting the front pin at an angle tends to create the right type of cascade for a strike; swiping on the screen right before the bear hits the pins helps create an effective spin.

Any pins not picked up by a roll can be targeted again for the spare. Outgrowths, “natural” ramps and narrow lanes make it quite the challenge.

Rollabear is ostensibly free, with a catch; one gets only so many rolls a day, after which a prompt to unlock unlimited tools via in-app purchase comes up. Outside of that, players have to wait for the daily roll limit to reset.

Can’t fuss too much at developers for monetizing, though, and this is one game that I suspect won’t be held back by a purchase requirement.

Be ready though. This could be a new year addiction.

Rollabear, A Golf Bowling Game With Bears, Is Announced

Rollabear, A Golf Bowling Game With Bears, Is Announced

Sep 30, 2013

Rollabear 2

Rollabear is somewhere in the middle between a bowling course and a mini-golf. The task is to launch bears across the courses, trying to get a high-score. The game is due early October, and looks like a lot of fun. Stay tuned for details from the developers here: Rollabear Official Web-Site.

PBA Championship Review

PBA Championship Review

Jan 17, 2013

PBA Championship is an expanded 3-D bowling adventure from Concrete Software, the folks who brought us PBA Bowling 2. In this iteration, longevity and skill is the name of the game, and winning is the way to the top.

I loved the graphics in the original, and was still pleasantly surprised by the detail added to the look of the newer title. As in the original we reviewed, I liked the sharp use of colors, and how even reflections in the polished lane were rendered. The look of the bowling lanes next door, for instance, conveyed the same realism that the world championship lanes did, while, somehow, also highlighting the differences in the lanes. Concrete generally does quite well in the graphics department, and PBA Championship is no exception.

Sound-wise, this game also excelled. Don’t pipe the game sounds around someone who is sleeping; they might sleepwalk into bowling stance. The sound of the ball bouncing and hitting the pins is exceptionally realistic, and adds an aura of realness to the game.

Being good mattered. In basic gameplay, I had to play my way to the top. Starting with local contests in the neighborhood Mom and Pop’s lanes, I looked to win money and entry into more prestigious tournaments. To advance, I had to place in the top three and earn prize tickets (which also allowed me to buy stuff in the in-app store). To bowl, I positioned the ball at the top of the lane, and swiped to produce pace. Tilting the device provided spin, and the physics of the game made sense with regards to this amateur’s understanding of true bowling. Hitting the top pin dead on was great, but sometimes, angled contact brought about the best results.

There were some funky power-ups, including bombs and dual balls, adding to the fun.

Scoring followed the classic format, with spares making the occasional dastardly appearance. I would have loved for a training module and some sort of multi-player gameplay to expand on the fun factor.

In PBA Championship, Concrete brings great bowling gaming to the masses. Again. Thank you.

PBA Bowling 2 Review

PBA Bowling 2 Review

Oct 8, 2012

Anyone who thinks bowling is boring has never seen Pete Weber in action. That cat is crazy. He is my type of bowler. [Editor’s Note: Oh my god, this guy is the best. Watch those videos.]

PBA Bowling 2 brings the game, the lanes, Pete and his cronies to handheld devices. Concrete Software is no slouch when it comes to high quality graphics, and, at the very least, I think Concrete lives up to its reputation with this title.

First… the look and feel. Wow. I almost literally could smell the oil on the lanes. I thought a lot of detail was put into the graphics, and it was reflected in the rich imagery. The animations were also beautifully done. Anyone who has bowled knows the unique situation of not completely knocking down a pin that somehow wobbles out of place, but yet stays upright. I found this replicated on PBA Bowling 2. The developer was also able to toss in locations from the Lumber Liquidators and Tour to up the realism quotient.

Now, if there is one thing that I have to keep coming back to, it will be the detail. From the reflection of the pins, through to the artistic perspective of the gutters, to the movement of the pinsetter… everything looked and “felt” pretty good to me. Bowling itself was initiated by the flick of a finger, and controlling the handheld device did the rest.

The gameplay was split (see what I did there?) into three levels of play. There were also there missed of play: single game, spare challenge, and my favorite… championship. In championship mode, I got to go against the best in the game in single elimination games. It is quite easy to get caught up in the play, and by adding in unlockable achievements and rewards, the developer made me more willing to spend time trying to beat the simulated pros. I loved the special bowling balls that I could make for single game mode too.

The social element was a nice feature, with interactive leaderboards and a personal high score list for local play, which served as motivation.

I wish a game this fun had some sort of multiplayer functionality built-in. On a practical level, it may be hard to go ten-pin bowling with family remotely, but I still think multiplayer would have been a great addition.

I don’t know that I’d beat Pete Weber in real life, and so far, he has beaten me every time in virtual-land. But I’m sure I’ll get him eventually… in a hail of turkeys.

PBA Bowling 2 gives me hope.