Like most games that cause a big splash, Tiny Wings has had many imitators, and Hoppetee! ($0.99) is one of the best by far, possibly even outshining its mentor. The main character certainly has the personality the Tiny Wings’ bird lacks. His laugh is infectious, and the music in the game is quite cool. However, it really drives home why infinite-motion-themed games can be both addictive and quickly repetitive. To its credit, however, Hoppetee has employed some traits of more traditional infinite runners that help it rise above its peers.
Have you ever wondered what a muppet’s nightmare might be like? I’m betting it would look something like WeeWaa RockOn ($0.99). This game is bizarre, challenging, and might make you want to pull your hair out; but at the same time it is actually kind of fun. The biggest drawback to this mobile game is its lack of variety. Well, that and the fact that for a game based around music, the music isn’t all that great.
The visuals are the highlight of WeeWaa. The 3D engine is put to good use with detailed backgrounds and slick character designs. And tell me you can look at the Tall Purple Guy and not think of the Muppets! The sound effects are decent, as is the music. I’m a bit disappointed, though, as the focus of this game is using music to thwart the bad guys. I would have expected a more interesting soundtrack since music is a key element of the story.
The folks at Retro Dreamer taught me that sneezing can be fun. They showed me that mechanical raptor-spiders are cool, and elves really do work much harder at Christmas than we give them credit for. I’m not sure if there's a lesson to be learned with SlamBots ($1.99), but the latest Retro Dreamer games is simple, entertaining, looks great (in an old fashioned sort of way), and manages to get hectic before you’ve even realized it has done so.
In this game, you’re in the business of stamping out all these weird little creatures that look like part of the evolutionary chain from Despicable Me. You start out as a cyborg ninja with a basic slammer, and as you earn some cash you can buy new characters and better slammers. New characters don't appear to influence game play, but I believe the slammers do.
I think we often tend to romanticize things from our past, as evident when we try to go back and watch a TV show or movie we used to love or play a game that was once the “best game ever.” Such is the case with Karateka Classic ($0.99). Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed playing through it again, especially since I don’t recall ever beating it the first time around. But games have advanced so much since then, I have a feeling someone not fueled by nostalgia wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did. Still, it’s a nice example of a game that has clearly influenced many developers since its inception.
I guess this is where I’m supposed to start my glowing review of yet another G5 hidden object game. I actually have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by Special Enquiry Detail- Engaged to Kill HD (Free, $6.99 full with in-app purchase) as I wasn’t a big fan of the first version. It’s been so long I can’t pinpoint what’s different this time around, but I do know the exploits of detectives Turino and Lamonte have now clicked with me, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the adventure. This game lives up to the quality we’ve come to expect from G5 much more than certain other recent hidden object titles. Plus, the murder mystery angle gives it a different flavor than other offerings from this company.
I’ve long been a fan of strategy games, but the more engrossed I become in mobile gaming, the less I have the desire to play a game where one “round” or “mission” takes a half hour or longer. Thankfully, some mobile developers understand that, resulting in strategy games like Totems ($2.99). They may be simple in mechanics and short on play time for an individual match, but they still provide a sufficient mental challenge and sense of accomplishment when you win. In the case of Totems, I also like the whole tribal animal theme.
Sometimes a sequel to a sub-par game is so close to the original, you wonder why the game developers bothered. Other times, the sequel is so far removed from what made the first one popular that no one cares. Then there are games like G5 Entertainment's Youda Survivor 2 HD (Free, or $6.99 In-app purchase for full game). While mechanically it doesn’t seem much different than its predecessor, it’s so easy to get into and so hard to put down that you won’t care. I’m not sure what makes the style of game play so catchy, but whatever it is, the developers behind the Youda Survivor series have pretty much perfected it.
I’ve never been much for online gaming. I’ve not wandered the countryside of Britannia nor visited the realms of Azeroth. Even when Star Wars — one of my all time favorites — went multiplayer online, I couldn’t bring myself to join the dark side. As I get more and more engrossed in mobile gaming, however, I’ve come to appreciate the concept of multiplayer causal gaming. Developers have managed to find a way to let me play against other humans and still fulfill my desire to be a solitary game player.
In fact, I’m finding myself spending more time engaged in multiplayer battles within a few games rather than the many pages of high quality apps that fill my iPad. As a result, when the fine folks at iPhone Life asked if I would consider sharing my views in a semi-regular column on the state of gaming, I decided the perfect topic for my first installment would be “online games for people who hate online games.”
Have you ever tried to buy a toy from one of those machines in the front of a grocery store only to have it get stuck or refuse to come out of the machine at all? If you’ve ever wondered what happens to the toy as it’s making its way to the delivery spout, Cling! ($0.99) is here to answer those questions for you. Get ready to take on the journey of one ambitious octopus with sticky legs as it tries to make its way to freedom and the hands of a boy who will love it for at least a few minutes before losing it. Just make sure to bring your nerves of steel with you, because some of the levels in this game will demand it.
At first I was a bit surprised to see Chillingo publish a simple free faller game like Sky Hero ($0.99). But given the number and breadth of games it produces in a year, I guess it makes sense.