Stay Alight Review

Stay Alight Review

Dec 31, 2013

Stay Alight is a great physics-based game. The goal of Mr. Bulb is to free the very polluted world of the green microbes who took over the undersea where he lives. The quick explanation of the game is Mr. Bulb tosses a little bit of light at the little green guys. The direction and velocity of the light is user controlled. That’s the hard part.

Stay Alight-5The first couple of levels are a tutorial. I thought some of the directions were a little harder to understand. There are just fingers displayed on the screen indicating which way to tap the screen. Other than that, the controls for the game are pretty easy to use. As the game progresses, there are different weapons available. While this makes Mr. Bulb’s job a little easier, other obstacles make it more difficult. Things like bushes will actually absorb the light limiting the ability to get a ricochet like desired.

There’s only a limited number of light bursts available to throw. The less used the better and the more points earned. Many times there are ways to hit multiple green guys with one light throw. Sometimes it’s throwing a light burst at a barrel or corner of a platform will results in a chain reaction backing out several enemies.

I understand that they need to make money, but the ads interrupting gameplay are a little inconvenient. I would almost rather have them in a bar at the top or bottom of the screen. Or even if it placed the ads in between levels, that would be less intrusive. Where the advertisements are placed, it really wrecks the flow of the game. Making a purchase is the only way to eliminate the advertisements.

I really like the graphics and even the music in the background is not too bad. The controls are pretty easy to use, they are just a simple tap and drag style. There were few instances where placing a finger on the screen inadvertently made it hard to readjust the angle and power of the light burst.

This great physics puzzler is worth checking.

Ragdoll Blaster Review

Ragdoll Blaster Review

Oct 24, 2011

Physics-based games on the Android Market are a dime a dozen. There, I said it. And yet, despite their ubiquity, I still enjoy them for a brief time. They offer a simple, proven gameplay mechanic that you can’t help but get into with very little effort. However, when you come across a game that isn’t too novel when compared to similar games, you have to ask for a little more originality. If nothing else, polish and presentation is of the utmost importance. While not a terrible game, Ragdoll Blaster finds itself lacking just such qualities.

From the beginning, Ragdoll Blaster requires you to log into your Mobage account, if you have one. If not, you are simply locked-out of the game until you create one. The social gaming network gives you the ability to connect with friends and compare scores, but the lack of option to use the network seems arrogant. It also requires an internet connection, making this game even less attractive to those who don’t have or don’t want to use their 3G connections while away from a WiFi router. Of course, the game also takes the liberty of installing a shortcut to Mobage right on your home screen. It’s excessive and invasive, but it’s required if you want to play this game. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s fair, considering that this is a free game, but it doesn’t sit well with me, at all.

Beyond the odd requirements, the game is a fun, but standard, physics-based game. Your goal is to fire as few ragdolls as possible from a canon in the attempt to hit a target set somewhere on the screen. It’s a slightly different gameplay mechanic, as opposed to knocking over obstacles or crashing structures for points. Sometimes, you have to hit a moving target while other times you have to act quickly, setting up moving set pieces that open a gap or move the target to a place where you can hit it. Ragdoll Blaster shifts back and forth from being all about precision aiming to patient timing and skills.

Aiming and controlling your shots couldn’t be easier. Simply touch the screen to aim, set velocity and fire a ragdoll, all at the same time. The game even marks your last shot, making it easier to make minor adjustments in case you miss the first time. However, the mark remains, even after you reset the level. This means that you can easily get the lowest score on a level just by restarting and firing again. With just over 100 levels, you might find yourself burning through the game in an hour or two, assuming you don’t come up against a level you simply can’t figure out.

Ragdoll Blaster has little to offer fans of this style of gameplay that they haven’t seen elsewhere. The simplistic visuals might be easier on older Android devices, but it doesn’t help the game compete with better games in the same genre. Given the odd requirements and lack of polish, this is a free game you can afford to miss.

Kona’s Crate Review

Kona’s Crate Review

Aug 18, 2011

For anyone who’s ever shopped online and found themselves gazing longingly at their front porch or mailbox, wondering, “Where’s my package? Where could it be?” to the point of near-psychosis, now’s your turn to be on the other side of that scenario. As Chief Kona’s delivery person, your mission is to pilot a rocket-powered platform carrying Kona’s crate through a twisting obstacle course filled with hazards and dangers untold. Get Chief Kona his crate under a set time, and you’ll earn yourself 3 stars for the effort.

The premise is about as wacky as you can get, and as much as the theme and setting are completely “out there,” it makes for a much better experience than, say, a generic, physics-based game set in the empty void of space, or among soulless, geometric shapes. Of course, that’s until you allow your mind to wander towards some darker, “Se7en” inspired territory as you wonder, “What’s in the box?” It’s probably better that we don’t know.

Controlling the platform is easily accomplished by tapping either side of the screen. Getting it where you want it to go, however, can be a hair-tearing experience. Touching the left side fires the left rocket while the ride side fires the right rocket. Touch both sides and each rocket fires at the same time, giving you maximum thrust. Once you become proficient with the finer intricacies of moving the platform around, you’ll find yourself capable of doing flips, rolls and quick directional changes without dumping the crate, which is extremely easy to do. Dump the crate, and the level is pretty much failed, because there’s no way to pick it back up.

Where the game gets especially tricky is when you accidentally nudge the crate slightly to one side of the platform. Suddenly, you’ll find that the platform becomes incredibly unstable, tipping easily and near-impossible to control. What a sense of accomplishment you’ll feel if you can actually get it to its destination, though!

There isn’t too much to complain about in Kona’s Crate, except that it can get a bit tedious. Depending on your stamina, you might not want to deal with more than 85 levels of nail-biting stress and frustration. Odds are, though, you will. You’ll be compelled to keep trying long after you might think you’re done with the game. It definitely hits that, “Just one more try, I’m sure I’ll get it this time!” spot.

One nice touch is that the environment changes slightly as you progress through each of the 4 “worlds” (plus one world of bonus stages). You’ll notice that each has its own theme, such as “Sunny Skies,” “Dusk,” “Starlight” and “Stormy Skies.” As you might guess, the lighting and background changes in each theme to reflect the time of day and environmental conditions. It makes for some diversity.

Throw in the extra challenge of OpenFeint achievements and the promise of more levels to come and you’ll find that there’s plenty to do in this game. Now, if we could just get Chief Kona to stop ordering so much stuff, online. Seriously, what’s in the box?

They Need To Be Fed Review

They Need To Be Fed Review

Aug 8, 2011

They Need To Be Fed is a physics-based platformer that just seems to get everything right. It’s got a cool concept, precise controls, excellent graphics and great level design. Just about everything comes together to make this game a real winner.

The core concept has you playing as an odd looking silhouette who must run and jump across platforms while avoiding obstacles only to dive head-first into a hungry monster. Why? Because they need to be fed, that’s why. But a concept is nothing without gameplay, and this game has a lot of it.

Unlike most platform games where gravity is a constant and falling means certain doom, in They Need To Be Fed, gravity is relative to the platform you are closest to. You can never fall “down” because you are always being pulled towards platforms hanging in space. Even as you run and jump while completely upside down, there’s nowhere to fall but towards the closest platform. It can become disorienting, but that’s just half the fun.

Because it’s so easy to become disoriented, one of the things that can be hardest to grasp is trying to remember which way you are running. While upside down, if you forget to run in the right direction, you might run straight into a spike trap, laser beam or any of the other deadly obstacles that litter each level, including floating orbs that kill on contact and auto-turrets that shoot self-guided missiles. However, the game is very careful about not getting you in over your head too quickly.

They Need To Be Fed has a great way of increasing the difficulty by taking previously established ideas about the world and varying them just enough to keep you guessing. For instance, you might have become comfortable with the idea that certain platforms are stable while others constantly rotate, but how do you deal with a platform that only spins while you’re standing on it or vice versa? You have to be careful when timing your jumps and find a way to plan ahead, even when you have no idea what’s coming next. It can get very overwhelming, but it’s worth it for the fun you’ll be having.

As you go through each level, your ultimate goal is to collect enough diamonds to unlock all 7 levels in all 7 worlds. Additionally, there are “x” levels in each world which are absolutely some of the craziest levels in the game and completely worth the effort of unlocking.

My only complaint about They Need to Be Fed is that it’s short. Very short. You can complete every level in about an hour or two. Even with the achievements, I’m left wanting more.

They Need To Be Fed is a lot of fun. It can get frustrating, but without any real punishment for failure, you can just keep on playing and having a great time. For fans of quirky indie games that offer something unusual, I can’t recommend this game enough.