Riot Rings Review

Riot Rings Review

Jan 13, 2012

I have been on a search, ever since I got my Android phone, to find the perfect commuter game. What that means to me is a game that loads quickly, one I can jump in and out of without crashing or data loss, and nothing too heavy on story that can be difficult to follow in spaced out intervals. It also wouldn’t hurt if the game is fun, funny, engaging, and a bit of a challenge. And in Riot Rings I have finally found all of these things.

It markets itself as being the “funniest game ever”, and I cocked a skeptical eyebrow at that declaration. So far it has proven to be quite humorous, perhaps even chuckle-inducing. The premise is simple: you are a zookeeper tasked with managing your rampaging animals, collecting them by matching them in groups of three or more. You operate from the safety of a dugout in the habitat while the animals circle around you. You match the animals by throwing new ones out into the rings, causing them to…well, it’s a little strange because they seem to explode with a pop, but I assume that no animals are harmed. If it all sounds confusing, then think of the game Zuma. You also have a few attacks in the form of meat (thrown to trick the animals out of the circle), drugs (to slow down rapidly spinning rings) and a Rhino (thrown to bash his way through the rings and knock animals out of the rings). It’s a very cartoony looking game, highlighted by the fact that the animals are little fat spheroids, and the rabbits are pink. They also tend to growl menacingly as they circle your hiding place, which is also made funnier when it’s the rabbit.

And a game like that could eventually get old, but the makers of Riot Rings have worked hard to make each and every level of the game unique and a challenge. You start out with one ring of animals, but soon you are faced with animals joining the ring from outside, multiple rings, stones that block your aim, or giant killer bees!! The bees are my favourite aspect of the game because you defend yourself by throwing other animals them. What a terrible zookeeper.

This game is fantastic, and it is my perfect go-to when I’m only riding two stops on the subway. I’ve never had a crash, and I am about 20 levels in with no repeated challenges yet. The different level names are pretty hilarious too.

My only quibble is that there are times when the rings (which will occasionally expand or decrease in size, to mess with you) will sometimes grow to the point that the edges are no longer visible on screen. It bothers me because I can’t be sure if it is a deliberate choice by the gamemakers, to challenge us, or if it’s a result of not accounting for screen size.

Sparkle Free Review

Sparkle Free Review

Sep 27, 2011

You’re about to enter the dark and sinister Crowberry Woods. As the enchanted woodland has fallen under an evil spell, darkness has come over it and no one who ventures in is safe. As you search for ancient artifacts, amulets and other items, you’ll encounter a series of match-3 action puzzles which much be solved before you may pass! At least, that’s the premise of Sparkle Free, which has you choosing paths through a dark, mystical woods.

The puzzles you encounter in Sparkle Free as you move through the Crowberry Woods involve shooting a colored ball from a stationary turret at a line of colored balls which are rolling along a track, slowly moving toward a dark pit at the end. If they reach the end before you can clear them, you’ll lose a life as the level ends and be one step closer to starting over from scratch. It’s a rough challenge, but you’ll have a few items to help you out.

At certain points, you can win extra lives while recovering amulets and other power items. Each amulet has its own set of powers that can aid you, although some add an extra hindrance as a condition of their use. Also, being limited in the number of amulets you can wear, you’ll have to choose which ones suit your playing style the best. At the end of each path is an additional object waiting to be found, each helping to bring the light back to the woods as you progress through the game.

The power-ups you’ll be able to activate during the puzzles are also very helpful. Some will eliminate an entire color while others allow you to “blast” the balls right off the stage. During the easier puzzles, I tended to ignore the power-ups as I tried to get higher combos for more points. Later, though, the game gets very challenging, and I began to forget about setting up combos in favor of focusing on power-ups and ball elimination. With a limited number of lives, the sense of urgency when things get tough is extremely high.

As polished and nice as Sparkle Free is, it’s really just a preview of the full game, which hasn’t arrived, yet. Once you’ve passed the final level, that’s it. The game abruptly ends with only a “Thank you for playing, please play the full version,” screen to meet you on the other side. No more story, no more amulets to collect, nothing. All we can do is wait for the full game.

Regardless of the abrupt ending, it’s still a great, fun game with a lot of levels to keep you busy. You’ll get a good look at some of the features of the full game, including in-game achievements and more.

Gameplay-wise, Sparkle Free may be a Zuma clone, but I was surprised to find the extra polish and the pretense of an adventure through a mystical woods to make this a delightful time-killer. I just wish the full game were already available.