iPhone Life magazine

Review: Champion Archer from Pocket Monkey Games

 

Pocket Monkey Games is home grown gaming at its finest. The artwork may not be the best, and the game play might be lacking in some spots, but there are two things you always know about a game produced by this company. The first is that the game was made with love – these guys have a great passion for the products they turn out. The second is that they are continually improving their products. Now that the sappy stuff is out of the way, I will say that Champion Archer is a good game that has a promising future. There are just a few things that need to be tidied up to turn this from a good game to a great game.
 
I seem to have some difficulty keeping track of the genres and sub-genres when it comes to this sort of game, but I’d guess you’d call it a castle defense game. The basic idea is that you play an archer trying to defend your castle from invading forces. Thankfully you don’t have to do it by yourself, though. Allies in the form of swordsmen will come out at regular intervals to help slay the enemy. In fact, the only way to beat a level is to get at least one swordsman to the right edge of the screen. Sadly, if left to their own defenses they will get crushed. That’s where you come in.
 
Who Let The Trolls Out?
 
You tell the archer what to do. You slide your finger up and down in front of the archer to set the angle of the bow, and as your finger is pressed to the screen the power meter will fill up and deplete again and again. When the power and angle are where you want them you let go of the screen to fire your arrow. The control scheme works, but not as well as it could. The archer’s bow doesn’t actually move until after you take your finger off the screen, so you don’t really know what angle you’re shooting at until it’s too late. Also, the power meter seems to move by awfully quickly. It would be nice if that could be slowed down just a bit.
 
If all goes well your arrow will impact the enemy. If all goes really well the shot will be the one to kill the target. If you wound the target you help your allies to victory. If you kill the target some money gets added to your pot. While you don’t want to run the risk of letting critters get past you, it’s also not advisable to end every level in record time. If you don’t let your money build up you’ll never be able to afford any upgrades. Yep, the money is for upgrades. At the end of each level you get the opportunity to buy things that will enhance both you and your allies. For you there are better bows and more useful arrows. For your allies there is stronger armor and “elven training”, which allows your allies to move faster. Hopefully these selections will be expanded in an update. It would be nice if there were something to make the soldiers do more damage, and of course things like flaming and freezing arrows are always a lot of fun at medieval parties.
 
Need Some Equipment?
 
I like the look of Champion Archer. The characters are well designed and fluidly animated. When the orcs are killed they throw their swords up, which then end up getting impaled in the ground. The background and victory screens have a bit of a “made in Paint” look about them, but there’s still a certain charm to the images. And, of course, there are moving clouds in the sky. Who doesn’t love moving clouds? The sound effects are decent, but I’m disappointed that in a war with cool creatures like orcs and trolls that there aren’t any grumbles and growls for the creatures. I do like the music, which suits the atmosphere of the game quite well.
Overall I’ve rather enjoyed the time I’ve spent with Champion Archer so far. The game is easy to look at, the music is nice to listen to and still manages to have an epic feeling about it, and the game play is solid and addicting. I just hope they tweak the controls a bit (or if nothing else, maybe throw in a power up for me that slows down the archer’s power meter). The other thing that would be extremely nice would be more variety. Add a few more power ups. Give us some new villains. Maybe even provide some variety in the look of the allies, regardless of whether the actually act different or not. Right now Champion Archer is a good game, but with a few tweaks and additions it could be on it’s way to being a great game.
 
Overall Score: 7.5/10
 
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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.