Halos Fun Review

Halos Fun Review

Dec 9, 2013

PikPok brings mandarin oranges to life in a kid-safe wrapper known as Halos Fun that dares to dream of being even more.

In this one, the mechanics feel a bit like Angry Birds. While there are not any birds or pigs, we do have a catapult to the left, and it is manipulated by dragging on the cutie-laden sling and releasing. Direction and power of launch can be controlled by angling the orange and/or adjusting the virtual tautness of the pull. On the other side, as noted, there are no taunting enemies; instead, raccoons are the enemies, having stolen true halos, and these halos line the right side of the play area. And of course, the less halos needed to clear the halos, the better.

As the game progresses, the halo setups get a bit more complex, with arcade-type bumpers and slides serving as helpers and obstacles at the same time. Some levels are simple affairs; a good strike can set off a sequence of ricochets andhalos1 bounces that clear the section. Other levels need a more measured approach, with timing becoming a major factor the further one goes. There are hidden items to get and also puzzles to solve; such elements help prevent the game from being too one-dimensional.

For every level, reclaiming all the halos with the minimum number of oranges leads to a coveted three-star score. Doing it with more reduces the number of stars proportionately.

Simplicity and familiarity are the games biggest assets. The color scheme is fun and whimsical, and the artwork is bright and engaging, with smiling fruit taking front stage. The animations are smooth, with easy transitions and reasonable graphics.

For a kids game, it helps that there are no in-app purchases to guard against. It is a fun game to try… without or without your child.

Or so I’ve heard…

Angry Birds Star Wars II Review

Angry Birds Star Wars II Review

Oct 3, 2013

There was a time each new a new game in the Angry Birds franchise was met with fanfare. We could not get enough of the raging flyers, the maligned pigs and the catapults. We’ve seen the birds take over Rio, inhabit space, and go George Lucas-y with the force. We even got to see the pigs become protagonists, and bought the plush toys. In our home, there is at least one Angry Birds t-shirt that is worn proudly and regularly.

But it’s 2013. There is no way Angry Birds Star Wars II can continue the streak, is there?

At this point, for most smartphone and/or tablet wielding folks with either a child or parent, the gameplay will be familiar. These birds angrily don the personae of Star War characters again, and are tasked with wrecking Empire structures and lackeys. The main weapons are the propelled birds themselves, injected with kinetic energy via the huge catapult to the left. Basically, the goal is to angle the the flight of the birds to inflict as much damage as abf1possible and destroy each pig. The number of birds available is limited, so a bit of strategy is needed to minimize the use of birds (which maximizes the score, and increases the chances of getting the coveted three-star grade).

In this version of the game, the assumed ambience is what will probably be most appealing. As in the prequel, a lot of Star Wars favorites take on bird characteristics: Luke, Leia, Obi Won Kenobi and more. But, in an interesting twist, it is possible to play as the pigs on the aptly named “Pork Side” and go with double-bladed Darth Maul, for example. In fact, the characterization component is HUGE; besides allowing players to pick a side, it is also possible to import Teleport characters via camera (I didn’t get a chance to try this), and powered characters can be earned and used at will.

In essence, it is a whole lot of the same, but quite a lot of new… mostly enough to keep folks engaged.

It’s 2013… and Rovio still pulls our heartstrings. Darn.

Boomerang Trail Review

Boomerang Trail Review

Jul 10, 2013

A game that easily makes its way to one’s heart is Boomerang Trail. I mean, it has boomerangs. It is a leveled game that  incorporates delightfully funky gameplay with cool graphics and special features.

Big secret: playing pieces are different types of — you guessed it — boomerangs! And that is only a small part of the allure.

Using a virtual pull-back motion to set course and guide flight, the boomerangs are released to make contact with (and collect) as many tokens as possible to get points. The pull back mechanism was interesting; it involves virtual lines that describe the proposed flight path. Keeping a finger on the pulled boomerang helps to manipulate the flight path to something preferable if need be, and this is key, as there are obstacles like rock trail1formations and trees that can interrupt the flight of the boomerang. The boomerangs travel and return in the elliptical orbit we all know and love, and the graphical representation is pretty well done, simple in presentation and easy to understand.

As the game progresses, the targets get tougher. Stationary tokens become mobile, and then some even disappear and reappear, creating hard targets. Thus, timing of release is a big part of the strategy. Also, cool new pieces like explosive boomerangs are added to the shooting arsenal, which allows for the removal of some obstacles.

To complete a level and move on, 70% of the tokens in that level must be collected before the supply of boomerangs is exhausted. Each level has a star system of scoring, with a tally three stars denoting perfection. The cool thing is that all levels are repeatable, so failed levels can be done over, and one can shoot for a better final star score.

the game has achievements to be earned, and these add a level of excitement to the gameplay.

All in all, goota give kudos to the developers for a simple yet engaging game that makes use of nice graphics and effective animations to encompass some inventive gameplay. My biggest gripe? Too short.

Did I say “boomerangs” yet?

Catapult King Review

Catapult King Review

Mar 28, 2013

I think a lot of people admire what Angry Birds did for the mobile gaming space. Almost overnight, it became a cult classic and the de facto kingmaker of mobile platforms, and pretty much showed us that avian revenge could be effected with a catapult and a basic understanding of simulated flight physics.

I say all that to say this: to call Catapult King a clone of Angry Birds does both games a huge, undeserved disservice.

Yes, there’s a catapult. Yes, there are platforms with preening enemies. But instead of birds, I got to use more genteel boulders, and the Angry Birds franchise doesn’t yet have a medieval spin-off. And all those Angry Birds may have gone after Darth Vader, but have not yet tangled with a dragon, have they?

My, my… the catapult was a thing of beauty. It was big, it was menacing, and it had range. It looked real enough, with the developer doing well to replicate wood, levers and rocks. I also liked the green scenery that somehow allowed a rogue dragon look at home. The animations were smooth, and special effects were, well, special. All in all, it was a rich 3-D featurette that completely enveloped the story.

The gameplay fit together well. Extra fearsome boss holding a damsel in distress? Check. Inept, mocking henchmen? Present. Cool power-ups? Here. The catapult action needed some learning, but was not too difficult to figure out. I especially loved the complexities of the targets; the henchmen were generally spread out on wooden structures, and they got harder the further asking u progressed. I had a limited amount of projectiles to use to dispatch them. Doing so successfully earned me points, jewels and magic units (the magic units allowed me to select power-ups that could be used to ease my way through a particular level).

Call me easily amused, but I thought the power-ups are what really set this title apart from the pack. I hate to be Mr Spoiler here, but allow me to say that the aptly named “Lunar Strike” was awesome in its potency, and the Tornado effect was fantastic as well.

There is so much to like about Catapult King. The familiar type of gameplay will be welcome, but the perspective makes it feel so new. The combination of graphics and extras will most likely leave it as a fan favorite.