PinOut Review

PinOut Review

Nov 15, 2016

‘Tis the season of retro, and PinOut helps one to reminisce.

It’s a really glitzy affair, with pulsating colors and contact-ignited visual sequences. The animations are silky smooth, and as game the depends so much pn believable simulated physics, it is feels quite authentic. If one is looking for something that looks like an old-school arcade thriller, this one works well.

But this ain’t your grammy’s pinball, no sir. The mechanics are the familiar, and the controls are equally as intuitive: keep the ball from dropping by pinout3using the paddles to propel it upwards. Tap controls can be used to manipulate the original set of flippers; tapping on either side controls the flipper on the corresponding side.

But unlike a regular pinpall-style game, there isn’t just one set section to bounce around in. The main goal is to travel “higher” and forward, so as to make the ball travel as far as possible. Think of it as a pinball machine that has an endless height area, and you, the player, is looking to keep on geting higher and higher, using subsequent flippers to keep the movement going.

The playing area is very pinball-like, with arches, targets, bumpers and more serving as either obstacles or helpers depending on the goal at any given point. With a bit of practice, it it possible to be fairly accurate with regards to propelling the ball through a particular pathway. This one utilizes time trials, so it’s a matter of looking to go far fast, and to pick up as many performance-enhancing boosts on the way.

In the end, high score glory is the name of the game. There are mini-games, and one can open up checkpoint continues via in-app purchase.

If anything, it definitely is interesting; one could described as, well, an endless “pinballer” (maybe?) with time trials, The optional premium checkpoint continues increase potential value, and the opportunity to reach newer sections helps players keep motivated.

It’s simple and enjoyable, and sometimes, that can’t be beat.

Smash Hit Review

Smash Hit Review

Mar 31, 2014

At first glance, Smash Hit seems quite different from the usual Mediocre oeuvre, based on the Sprinkle series and Granny Smith. It’s a first-person game where players launch balls at glass structures to break them as they advance through them – a more abstract look than the cartoon-inspired games Mediocre has done before. But where those other games had wide appeal, so does Smash Hit with its easy-to-pick-up gameplay.

Yes, this is based around just one very simple play method: tap on the touch screen to launch a ball from that spot, aiming at targets that come as players travel forward. Players are trying not to hit any glass as they travel forward. Thus, there are two big things that players need to learn. First, there is the obvious factor of learning how to compensate for the arc of shots, that it’s not just “tap here to hit this object,” but that distance and movement must be factored in as well. The less-obvious thing is knowing that not all obstacles need to be hit. Some look dangerous, but learning when to hit them when it’s just right is important.

See, players are regulated by how many balls they have left to launch, and the game is content to let players run out eventually. Thus, being smart with them, realizing what is an actual hazard and what’s just for show, as well as finding efficient ways to destroy some hazards, is very important. The crystals which can be destroyed to get more balls are important too: keeping a combo going with them is great because the multi-ball shots serve as a great way to more easily destroy obstacles, but then players get obsessed with destroying the crystals because one miss and it’s back to the standard shot.

SmashHit_screenshot4

Thankfully, the game uses what I’m coining as Minter checkpoints – inspired by Jeff Minter and many of his games, checkpoints for each level track how many balls are at each checkpoint, so players can improve their checkpoint performance by beating an earlier level with more balls. This encourages not just progression, but improvement, and progression by improvement.

Really, Smash Hit is quite an intelligent game for something so simple. It’s about breaking glass, but the way everything works around that core idea makes the game great.

Smash Hit is available as a freemium download: checkpoints are locked until one pays $1.99, but the game is perfectly playable without paying.

Sprinkle Islands Review

Sprinkle Islands Review

Jul 16, 2013

App developer Mediocre likes jokes. You can tell from its name, as the games it makes are usually far from it. Sprinkle Islands is no different in this regard. It is yet another well-thought out water physics puzzler that incorporates a lot of the same elements from other games in the Mediocre stable.

The main piece of equipment is an interestingly looking fire truck-like contraption that looks like it was designed by Dr Seuss. At the back of the vehicle, there is a water jet hosted on a retractable crane. The crane water cannon’s angle and height can be adjusted to affect the direction of water.sprink2

The different levels generally involve extinguishing fires before they consume nearby huts, and before the water supply runs out. Putting out the fires usually involves a bit more than just directing a stream of water at the blazes.

To understand this, visualizing the layout is key. The huts are laid out high on hills and in “natural” caverns. There are also bridges and buttons that can be manipulated with boulders of different shapes. So, blazes need to be put out, and the vehicle moves on to the next stage. If and when gaps in the path occur, blasts of water can be used to re-arrange wood and rock to make makeshift bridges, or to operate the buttons that open sliding doors and/or invoke pulley lifts that allow for further movement. Further in the game, you get stuff like boats and fire fauna.

As noted, the water supply is exhaustible, and there are time constraints too; taking too much time to solve a fiery puzzle can cause a hut to be completely razed, which causes the level to be failed. Levels can be repeated, and more points are awarded for using less water.

The use of color is pretty subtle; the animations are good enough to get the ideas across. The blue skies contrast great with the village and greenery, and the addition of water bodies add some realism to the look.

This game is easy to like across generations. It simple and very appealing.