Beetle Breaker Review

Beetle Breaker Review

Apr 2, 2014

First things first: Beetle Breaker, at first blush, looks very, very familiar. Big catapults, creatures flung through the air to destroy objects and performance measured by stars. Yep, we’ve seen it.

But hold on one hot second. No smirking pigs, differing angles, and, most notably, no exploding balls of feathers. So, yeah, it looks old hat, but has enough variation to stand mostly on its own two legs.

Instead of angry birdies, we get cool (but explosive) bugs. They all generally have an explosive quality; the first one simply explodes after launch. The idea is to use the mega-slingshot to create a bug-projectile that blows up the target piece of wood in front of it, with the goal to eliminate as much of the obstacle as is necessary to bb6unlock the next level of play. Striking the target generally causes a big explosion.

The bugs come in different variations: the simple exploding one, one that splits into two when tapped before hitting the target, one that drops mines while coasting overhead, and more. These all come handy at some points, as the game engine and starts spitting out harder problems… stuff like very irregular, disjointed pieces, or ones with hollow parts that need combined bug powers to get through. Additionally, there are quests to complete, and leftover threshold have to be met to hope to get a 3-star score.

One unique aspect is that the walls can be used to rebound beetles, like one would play Air Hockey. This opens up a bit of strategy with regards to some levels of play. Good runs yield coins which can be used to purchase boosts.

Graphically, it retains Chillingo-quality design characteristics, which is a good thing. It looks glossy without being cheap, and the animations are top-notch. The color is a touch muted, but all in all, comes together very well visually.

Where’s My Water? 2 Review

Where’s My Water? 2 Review

Oct 17, 2013

Disney’s strategy with regards to the mobile space seems to be generously present. It has underwritten quite a few popular titles in the last couple of years, and Where’s My Water? was definitely a fan favorite. Where’s My Water? 2 is a sequel that is blessed with a good foundation in the Android gaming world.

For fans of the first iteration (or other Disney-made clones like Where’s My Perry), the gameplay will be very, very familiar: the basic idea is to get water through pipes so Swampy could have a much-wanted shower. The game follows the general rules of physics, and so the water is usually in an elevated position, with immovable rock and flexible dirt serving as barriers. To get the water to the penultimate shower pipe, it’s necessary to move the soft dirt, and this is accomplished by swiping away the dirt on by finger. The games gets craftier with advancement, and errant swipes can be costly, especially since the right water threshold must be attained for the Swampy to get enough water. As usual, swampy1the rock cannot be drilled/swiped away, and the rubber duckies are alive and kicking, and available to be “collected” by sustained water contact.

It looks much the same, but with seemingly more vibrant looks. The basic color palette remains similar, but there are a few more environments added in for effect: Soap Factory, Sewer and Beach. The animations are smooth; they retain the cartoon character without being overly silly. The sounds are whimsically appropriate, and all the media comes together quite well.

Probably one of the biggest changes with regards to the game is the addition of challenges. These are innovative flips in the gameplay that literally turn the game upside down. All of a sudden, ducks become untouchable obstacles, gates are to be avoided and more. In Duck Rush, one has to dig down frantically downwards before the water “disappears” while collecting as ducks on the way. There are hints, boosts and facebook functionality built in.

It’s an intense reboot, with a good deal variation that keeps it fresh. There is a lot of the same, and this might be a barrier for some, but the game is a nice one all the same.

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.

Save the Snail Review

Save the Snail Review

Sep 6, 2013

Save the Snail is a fun little game that brings another perspective of positional physics to Android gaming. Familiar gameplay rules the roost these days, and it is nice that this one brings it while stepping out on a ledge.

And no, this isn’t just Yet Another Angry Birds Clone. In this one, the goal is to keep the snails safe from aerial dangers that can cause injury. Basically, there is usually a snail (or two) that exist in the playing area. The overall goal is to prevent the mollusks from being crushed by falling rocks (don’t ask) or being zapped by especially vicious sun rays.save1

The first level kind of explains what is needed to be successful in this game. Using everyday materials that the game provides (in this case, matches and pencils) to create a protective shelter over the snails before the sun floats by, or a shower of pebbles does their damage. The items to be used are suspended in the air one after the other; tapping them makes them fall straight down, and the items mostly obey the laws of physics, so a rough release can have bad consequences. As soon as the last item is dropped, the hazards start moving.

The playing areas and objects vary. In addition to the first two items, stuff like buttons and attracting cheese make an appearance. The objective sometime shifts from creating protection to moving the snails to an existing cover; in some levels, nails and spiked tools force timing to become a part of the strategy, and puzzle-solving logic becomes crucial. The levels are timed, so quickness is a factor.

The visual aspect of the game is simple, with emphasis placed on the foreground contraptions. The animations are effective, and work well within the game principles.

Save the Snail a fun game; it feels familiar, but is reasonably different. Great price too, so there’ll be no regrets, but much to potentially gain.

Gluddle Review

Gluddle Review

May 30, 2013

If there is anything that we learned from the furious avian franchise, it’s that physics-based games almost never get old, and that’s why puzzlers like Gluddle will always get a happy look-see from blokes like me.

The game story is simple: the bouncy blobs known as Gluddle want to live their lives without being harassed by the prying eyes of “The Supervision” anymore, so they take matters into their own hands and dispatch with the enemy blobs themselves. Being a seemingly peaceful set of beings, it seems as if the height of Gluddle violence involves launching themselves aggressively at the enemy to dissuade them from being bothersome.

The actual gameplay basically has to do with flinging our protagonist(s) at the opposing spheres. There is a direction glu1winder of sorts, and this allows one to direct the blob. A tap then launches it in the predetermined path.

But wait. There’s more. Of course, it gets harder. Eventually, I had to go against more than one Supervision orb per round. Usually, the number of Gluddles increases as well. Also, the distance from the launch area to the targets increases, which means using advanced techniques (like freezing an orb to bounce another one off of it) becomes an essential piece to progress. Using fewer orbs gives better scores.

As hinted at, the gameplay is leveled. The orbs have infinite bounceability, which adds to the fun factor. It’s pretty cool to see the action that occurs when multiple ricochets occur. The developer describes it as “pinball meets trampoline,” and it is an apt description. The levels were blessed with plenty of variation, so everything felt new.

The animations are sharp, and are the perfect complement to the bright graphics. The detail is pretty amazing, and the sequences really nice to see. The exotic scenery inspires the desire to personally hug the brain stem of the developer.

The game comes with free levels with more unlockable via in-app purchasing.

For a trip on the wild side, Gluddle is definitely worth the time.

Chuck the Muck Review

Chuck the Muck Review

May 17, 2013

How much muck could a muck chuck chuck if a muck chuck could chuck muck?

Chuck the Muck is a cool entry from KizStudios that merges nice graphics with easy-to-learn gameplay and a familiar scoring method.

Bob is the name of our protagonist in this one. A blob with attitude, Bob is described as a being with an appetite, and it seems to hunger for colored gems. It just so happens that these gems are not that easy to get to. Thus Bob’s job is to use the gooey stuff in his environment to solve the physics puzzlers that the the gem placements created.

The basic tool was a stretchy, springy “muck” that I could manipulate to a degree. Using it as a trampoline of sorts,chuck1 I could use my finger to direct Bob in a pre-determined trajectory. This helped me collect the gems for three start score. Missing a target or a landing could lead to Bob’s demise. The controls mostly involved dragging, pulling to release and tap and hold.

As the game progresses, the puzzles get harder. There are guards (who could catch Bob/me) and different traps and tools made an appearance. For instance, I ran into diamonds that were conveniently placed in precarious spots, such that even if I did get the gem, I could drop into an endless abyss. Using movable ooze cannons in tandem allowed for me to figure out the puzzle. The power-ups (like guard uniforms to “hide” from the guards) make sense in the context of the game, and denote creativity. The store was well stocked with purchasables to enhance the game.

The scoring and gameplay are quite similar to that used in Angry Birds, with leveled gameplay and cumulative gem collection. I think it help that these elements make the game familiar, while allowing the gameplay ensure that it is not just another Angry Birds clone cloaked as something else.

All in all, it is a pretty nice addition to anyone’s gaming portfolio, and I do believe it has the best intro tongue twister in the history of gaming.

Naught Review

Naught Review

Jan 7, 2013

Naught is a very realistic physics-based game. The world literally gets turned upside down. The screen needs to spin in order for the character to move. Unlike most games where there’s a simulated gravity or effects, Naught truly uses gravity to move the character.

By tilting the Android device to the right the character will start to move in that direction. The reason being is that he is essentially following gravity. To slow the character down, the device needs to be tilted to the left. The character can also walk on ceilings by tilting the device 180° so the top of the screen is now at the bottom.

If this sounds like a little too much device spinning, other options for controls are available. Buttons can be used to control the character as well as using what they call drag controls. This is simply moving the screen by dragging the finger crossed it. This is the least responsive of the control options.

The goal of the game is pretty simple, reach the end of the level. Like many 2D scroller games, there is a set destination to be reached. Along the way there are items to be gathered. In this case, their diamonds and seeds. If all three diamonds are gathered, the level can be played in time trial mode. The seeds are used to create portals. The portals are essentially check points allowing a restart from that location is a character dies. Along the way, there are also seed activated doors.

While the Naught is simple in theory, the execution is surprisingly difficult. Getting used to the movement of the character will take a few levels to master. What it really comes down to is timing and paying attention to how far the screen is tilted. If the screen is tilted too far, the catlike character will either run or fall. If the screen is not tilted far enough, the little guy won’t run very fast and may miss an opening or moving platform.

Friday Free App Rundown November 30 – Rope Games

Friday Free App Rundown November 30 – Rope Games

Nov 30, 2012

A rope is a simple thing yet has so many uses. This week’s pack of games all involve ropes. Some of the games in the list are about using the rope to swing while others use the rope to solve a puzzle. All of them are just plain fun.

Rope’n’Fly – From Dusk (Free)

Rope’n’Fly is a high flying game where the character swings from building to building, Spiderman style. After customizing the character and rope it’s time to get to swingin’. The gameplay physics are pretty good. When the little swinger falls or is flying through the air, there’s a cool ragdoll effect. To break up the building to building swings, the little man can also swing from balloons and passing planes.

Download Rope’n’Fly – From Dusk (Free)

Cut the Rope: Experiments FREE

Cut the Rope: Experiments is a cute and fun physics-based game. In a similar way to its predecessor, cutting the ropes at the perfect time is the method to solve the puzzle. Help the cute little guy get from start to finish in the allotted time. Like most physics games, timing is essential.

Download Cut the Rope: Experiments FREE

Rope Rescue Free

Rope Rescue Free is a different kind of puzzle game than I’ve seen before. The little bird takes the rope and flies it around the gears then to the birdcage. The goal of the game is to free the little guys friend from the bird cages. Avoid the dangers by maneuvering the little bird around what looked to be razor blades floating in mid-air and other obstacles.

Download Rope Rescue Free

Rope Escape

The little guy in Rope Escape is swinging for his life. He stole an sacred artifact from some natives in the jungle and is trying to escape a swinging through the trees. Use ropes the rockets are just a from being caught. Latch onto a zeppelin and drag it down out of the sky for higher scores.

Download Rope Escape

Rope the Frog

The rope in Rope the Frog isn’t really a rope, it’s actually the frogs tongue. Use the tongue to swing around and eat all the mosquitoes. The more mosquitoes are eaten, the fatter the frog gets. The fatter the frog gets, the more mosquitoes can be eaten. Also, as the frog gets better at swinging around, his tongue changes to different colors. Kind of like karate belt, , his tongue changes from white to black with several other colors in between.

Download Rope the Frog

Save Toshi Review

Save Toshi Review

Aug 29, 2011

After it’s discovered that a demon dies every time mega-popstar Toshi dances, the demons kidnap her to ensure that she never shakes her hips again! Before the world becomes overrun with hellspawn, someone needs to get her to the dance floor.

By firing tennis balls, you can topple pillars, move blocks and rotate set pieces to help push, slide and fling Toshi onto the dance floor. Solve the puzzle under a par number of shots, and you’ve got yourself a perfect score. Save Toshi’s puzzles get very challenging, and there are some I’m still not sure how to solve. Some require just one, carefully aimed shot while others require multiple, rapid shots. And then, there’s always the element of chaos, just to keep you guessing.

While saving the world requires saving Toshi, it also requires listening to her banter. In some cases, simply resisting the urge to fling tennis balls at her head can be the hardest part of the game. “It’s good to be back,” Toshi says, after I accidentally knock her into the water. “Are you blind?” she demands to know, after accidentally striking her with a tennis ball. “I’m alive! It’s a miracle!” she says after sliding off an ice platform and drowning, once again. Then, as she gets flung into the air, screaming, “SAYONARA!” I can’t help but laugh. As she coughs and sputters before exclaiming, “I think I swallowed some water,” while her voice tends towards a more annoying blend of Pikachu and Carol Kane (especially if you recall Kane’s role in the movie Scrooged), I find it impressive that the developers gave her such a variety of reactions. Thankfully, they also included the option to turn her voice off, if you’ve decided you’ve had enough.

Before you go rushing off to install Save Toshi, however, you should know a few things that happen outside of the game. Things like a notification ad that pops up, asking if you’d like to install other games and an app called “Heyzap” which would appear to be an OpenFeint-like social gaming network. While I really don’t mind in-game advertisements for a free game, this all seemed to go over the top, in my opinion.

Other considerations to take into account include the graphics being slightly stretched to fit the resolution of an Android screen — this is an iOS port, after all. And while the first level pack, consisting of 20 levels, is free, you can purchase the remaining 4 pack for a total of US$2.99. Thankfully, it relies on the Android Market’s in-app purchasing system, so it worked without a hitch. Alternatively, you can get the whole game for free by going through the built-in Tapjoy offer-wall.

Despite the odd ad placements, this really is a fun game. And keep in mind, you won’t even see the ads if you purchase the additional level packs. So, if you’re looking for some eccentric, physics-based puzzle fun, this might be the game for you. Save Toshi, save the world.


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.