Six! Review

Six! Review

Oct 10, 2016

If you have heard us say it before, you’ve heard us say it dozens of times: yes, give us a batch of challenging sagas, but we also want our simple time-wasters. By simple, we mean the quick hitters that can be played for seconds, minutes or even hours.

Six! is a game from Gram Games that looks to be on the carefree side.

The concept is simple: Go lower. And lower.six3

It plays in landscape, which makes sense considering the main game element; to begin, the playing area has a hexagon perched on top of looks like a wall. Now, this “wall” is made up of 2D shapes: squares, trapeziums, rectangles and the like. Not all are the same size, even within shape types, but, at the onset, they all are packed in tightly to create the tight wall-ish platform.

The core idea is to drop the hexagon? How, by tapping on a shape underneath to remove it, and allowing the hexagon to drop into space. Tapping a shape pops it into nothingness, vacating the space it occupied. Think of as 2D jenga, with an object at the top of the assembly. The challenge is to prevent the hexagon from toppling off the structure. For every piece dissolved, points are garnered.

See, the simulated physics is really what makes this tick. The whole structure acts in a “natural” manner, such that it can tip, and gain momentum, and otherwise cause the hexagon fall off. Once it has fallen off, the run ends, so you have to try to pull out the supporting pieces oh so carefully. It gets interesting when, say, the hexagon straddles two separate pieces. Oh my…

There are also challenges and leaderboards.

The game succeeds in part because of the simple motif, light on the backgrounds and easy on the sounds.

And so it goes, a battle to get low; not much deviation, but the game still has its own charm.

Shoot Em Down Review

Shoot Em Down Review

Jun 10, 2014

Shoot Em Down is a simple, fun shooting and physics game from Think Octopus.

The leveled gameplay is easy enough to understand. At the base level, there are black boxes that are stacked in different ways. Our sniper looks to shoot them off the platform to reach the knock-off threshold that appears in the top right. Shooting is done by dragging the laser sigh that emanates out of the barrel toward the target, and then releasing.

Shooting is somewhat of a science. Angling is big; for boxes in high columns, one might decide to hit the base of the structure to create a cascade. The elements that are added as progress is made do change the gameplay in the most interesting way. For example, red boxes get added, and these red boxes have a negative effect when dropped. For example, if the threshold to pass a particular level is 30 black boxes, dropping a red box cancels out a black sed3count; in other words, red boxes are to be avoided, and it is even possible to go into the negatives if more of them are dropped than the black ones. Other elements like balances and breakable platforms make the game evergreen.

The graphics are simple, almost rudimentary, but the design implementation works within the concept of the game. Stick figures and such are charming, and he animations mostly observe the laws of physics.

There are a couple of things I really like about the game. I’m old and sappy now, and I like that the developer purposefully avoids human targets, even though that would be the easy and trendy thing to do. No exploding skulls or such; using boxes in different physical situations makes the shooting mechanism more palatable. The puzzles themselves are great, starting out easy enough and progressing to harder stuff.

It can be a great time waster, and is made more attractive that it comes in a free and paid/ad-free versions, the latter being available on the Play Store for $0.99.

Cut the Rope 2 Review

Cut the Rope 2 Review

Apr 23, 2014

Even though it didn’t feel like it was gone (thanks to some well-timed seasonal outputs), we should take time to welcome back Cut the Rope 2. Om Nom is back, of curse, and brings new characters and some fresh tweaks to the gameplay.

The cutscenes tell the woeful story of appropriated candy and an inadvertently lost Om Nom, and how our roundish hero goes about getting home while re-collecting his hoard. As with the previous iterations of the game, get the basic concept is to manipulate the playing area to get the candy piece into Om Nom’s mouth while nabbing as many of the three stars available in the process.

The general mechanism remains the same: swipe gestures sever the ropes holding the candy, and if done correctly, On cut1Nom gets his treat. Balloons and platforms make early and continuous appearances; the former works to complicate puzzles in an interesting way, as they (as everything else in the game) follow general rules of physics. As progress is made, new folks with interesting powers make their acquaintances.

Failed levels can be repeated, and there are plenty of upgrades and such that can be applied after procurement from the in-app purchasing depot. There are bonuses that can be used to help with solutions, as well as other exhaustible power-ups.

The graphics look familiar, which is a good think. the different environments are mostly unique, but retain the look most folks know and love. The use of color os well done, and the hi-res, glossy imagery coupled with the occasional cutscenes work well to convey the gameplay. The animations are smooth, down to the soft bounces of inflatables and flail of the severed restraints.

Cut the Rope 2 seemingly manages the difficult art of being a sequel to a well received game that stands on its own feet without wrecking what worked to make the original popular in the first place. It’s a great time waster that reaffirms Zeptolab’s mindshare.

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.

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.

Bombcats Special Edition Review

Bombcats Special Edition Review

Jun 26, 2013

Bombcats Special Edition is Radiangames’ entry into the casual physics-puzzler genre after an assortment of action-oriented titles and block-based puzzle games, and it stands out as a fun and addictive title.

The gameplay can be best described as a hybrid between Angry Birds and iBlast Moki. The goal is to free all the bombkittens from their electric cages by launching the bombcats around the levels, eventually using their ability to “tele-splode” (so they don’t actually die) to free them from the cages. However, there’s a fuse on the bombcats, so getting them from point A to point B in a timely fashion is key!

Bombcats-4

Now, early on, this involves getting the bombcats near the bombkittens and having the explosion free them. But where the game becomes extremely clever is that it starts to really mix up not only how the bombkittens are freed, but how the player has to get the bombcats around in the first place! Smaller bombs may help break up debris or to free the bombkittens, but multiple of them may be needed. The bombcats’ tele-splosion may be used to get the necessary objects in place, rather than freeing the kittens.

New bombcats are introduced over time, each with new abilities and challenges to use them. Most levels just involve one bombcat, but then others will have multiple that must be used in sequence, adding a level of planning and forethought to the equation. As well, challenge levels that force players to use different bombcats in levels designed for certain ones, and marathon levels where the goal is to get the bombcats as far as possible before they tele-splode.

The game launched as a free-to-play title on iOS, but the Android version is paid. Why is thatoid, here it is. The game definitely has the appearance of an F2P game, with the currency system and powerups, but the game is balanced in a way where the crystals are earned regularly enough to where upgrades can be easily bought regularly, and powerups used often as well. There’s no IAP in the game at all, so earning additional crystals is best done through grinding levels and completing objectives, but this is not really necessary on a regular basis. In fact, while the upgrades and powerups make the game easier, they’re not needed to beat the game, though they do help!

There’s a lot of reason to love Bombcats – there’s fun gameplay that lasts for a while with nearly 200 levels that encompass a wide variety of challenges, and there’s cute round cats that can be dressed up in hats.

Little Luca Review

Little Luca Review

Jun 10, 2013

Armageddon. Deep Impact. 2012.

The next on the list of epic disaster/close to disaster movies? Little Luca. Why? Because falling stars are always sad.

Little Luca tells the story of lost stars, and the quest to find them. Underneath that premise, it is a physics game that incorporates timing and logical sequences to complete its leveled play.

The gameplay is pretty interesting. The best way to describe it is to advance to new levls by propelling a ball (myself) with mostly bouncy surfaces (hills) to collect as many stars as possible on my way to the final destination, a black hole of sorts. Tapping the screen popped the bubble the ball is suspended in to start, and another tap deflates theluca1 initial bouncy hill, and another tap sort of pops the surface up sending the ball up to potential star-saving glory. There are always three stars per level, and the goal is to collect as many stars as possible overall. A wrong launch could drop the ball in the sea, causing failure, but all levels are repeatable.

Now, as to be expected, the solutions become harder. Multiple surfaces begin to appear, and the stars start to show up in non-optimal places. Not all surfaces are “inflatable” at points; some worked like swinging bats. At some levels, timing of the launch is everything, and in some, a primer jump is needed. There are windstreams, orbital gravity and even obstacles to account for. Combining the different puzzles and getting the levels completed can be maddening in a good way.

Continued success unlocked new worlds, such as “In Orbit.”

The visuals are simple but fairly effective. The developer uses pastels to create an imaginative dream world; the artwork is a testament to that imagination. The animations are smooth an uncomplicated, which fits in well with the general feel of the game. The sounds are fun as well.

It is a fun little physics puzzler that manages to be creatively fun and familiar at the same time.

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.

RopeBot Pro Review

RopeBot Pro Review

May 22, 2013

I love grappling hook games. I rarely buy apps right upon seeing them, because, well – I see so many apps. So I saw RopeBot Pro and bought it right away. That’s how interested I was in the premise.

The game takes the structure of a physics puzzler a la Cut the Rope where getting from point A to point B is the goal, with three stars to collect along the way. But in this case, players don’t necessarily cut ropes, but launch them in order to swing about the various levels. Players have direct control over RopeBot, in that they can swing it left and right to gather momentum, as well as to grapple on to surfaces by tapping on them. RopeBot can grapple to two different points at once, which allows for greater stability when navigating, but grappling to a single point allows for speed pickup and is required for navigation.

RopeBot-1

The problem is that because attaching and detaching ropes requires tapping on the screen to fire at that spot, doing them in a twitch-reaction way proves to be a real challenge. Play this on a tablet if possible. As well, the system prevents the best part of a grappling mechanic from coming to life: that feeling of momentum when swinging from one point to another. It is largely lacking in this game.

However, the greatness of the mechanic does come through: there’s the satisfaction of pulling off the perfect swinging through a tricky section. There’s the euphoria of going into freefall, pulling it off perfectly to land right on the goal. This game is more about the set pieces rather than the fast-paced action of some other games, so while some of my favorite parts of grappling may not exist here, it gets a lot of the other great elements down. Plus, it’s a game with grappling in it. As long as it isn’t completely terrible, I’m probably going to love it.

So, in the name of spreading the gospel of grappling, I do recommend RopeBot. While it’s not the grappling game we deserve, it’s the one we need. Because there are nowhere near enough grappling hook games!

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.

Cut the Rope: Time Travel Review

Cut the Rope: Time Travel Review

Apr 23, 2013

Om Nom is back, and he’s brought with him…other Om Noms? What? Such is the mind-bending concept behind Cut the Rope: Time Travel, ZeptoLab’s latest in their series of candy-and-ropes physics puzzler.

The core goal is the same as in the original and Experiments versions of the title: get the candy from its original position in to Om Nom’s mouth. But now, because Om Nom has been sucked into a time portal, he’s traveling throughout history, with other Om Noms to feed! The Om Nom dynasty is full of prolific candy consumers, so there’s now two candies to feed to two different Om Noms.

This means that challenges have to be approached in a new way, and there’s a lot more in the way of timing elements in trying to get each candy into each green creature’s mouth. As well, each time period, of which the game boasts six at launch with 15 levels each, boasts a new gameplay mechanic, like candies that mimic the movement of the other candy, or the ability to freeze time. That time-freezing is interesting because it also stops the momentum of the candy.

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What ZeptoLab appears to be doing with Cut the Rope: Time Travel is to emphasize a wide variety of gameplay mechanics versus exploring any one of them. The game doesn’t get too challenging, and an expert player can three-star most of the levels without too much effort. In fact, the fact that there’s an odd number of stars and an even number of candies makes for a few odd scenarios where two stars may be clumped next to each other on one side, with only one on the other.

While there’s certainly the promise of additional levels, and it’s something that ZeptoLab has definitely delivered on in the past, at launch the game seems merely content to introduce concepts instead of exploring them. It was something that seemed lacking in their previous title Pudding Monsters as well, so it’s hardly a new phenomenon with them.

There’s certainly a lot of clever things here (making one of the stars only available by using ‘superpowers’ which are largely obtained through IAP is not one of them), and there’s a lot for Cut the Rope fans to love. It’s just that like a sugary snack, it’s briefly satisfying, but not really fulfilling. But it does taste good for a while!