Who doesn’t like a good side scrolling infinite runner? If you just raised your hand, this review probably won’t interest you. For those that are left, I’m afraid this game might not interest you. I appreciate that the developers felt they were doing something slightly different than the rest of the crowd, but frankly the game feels like a Robot Unicorn / Unicorn Dash knock-off with a horse riding, sword wielding demon. While in theory that sounds cool, in practice it comes off as a cheap second rate attempt at doing something that’s already been done much better. This may sound awfully harsh, but keep in mind we’re talking about a genre that already has plenty of entries.
If you were lucky enough to own a NES and had good taste in games then you have probably played Balloon Fight at some point. It was ported to a few other systems, and there were a couple of updates through the years, but sadly this title has been largely ignored in the gaming community. While it’s not anything officially tied to one of my favorite 8-bit games, there’s no question that Balloon Loons draws its inspiration from the aforementioned video game. With its colorful visuals, cute adversaries and plenty of levels to explore, Balloon Loons is certain to satisfy that craving for balloon popping that all former NES owners have.
Kickstarter has become a bit of a phenomenon, and with good reason. While just like with any other system there's no guarantee that every campaign will be successful, there are enough success stories to come out of the crowd funding camp to make it worth a developer's while to at least try. I run across more than my share of interesting projects on the web site, and get several requests from developers to publish "their story" and help spread the word. Here are a couple recent contacts that I thought I'd make you aware of.
G5 is probably best known for their adventure and hidden object games, but they have been branching out into other genres including time management and more recently physics puzzle games. Jumpster was an interesting first effort in the latter genre whose initial release was ultimately marred by an almost absolute necessity to buy IAP in order to play for any length of time. Green Jelly is their second physics puzzle release and it has managed to make a much better impression on me overall, except for the less than amicable controls. At least there's no IAP though.
When it came to PC gaming I think adventure games were what I grew up on, and I’m happy to see more developers bringing this great genre of game play to the iOS platform. In late November of 2012 we were treated to a cool time travelling piece called Tesla’s Electric Mist, and since I’m now getting back into it to try and finish it up I thought I’d share my experiences with the game. There’s no question that the developer has a deep fondness for this style of game play, and there are plenty of puzzles to solve and mini-games to conquer. I think it would have been nice to have a little golf cart with all the walking I had to do, though.
Infinite runners are to action games like Match 3 games are to the puzzle genre: there are a lot of options on the App Store, and so many of them start to feel the same after a while. Thankfully I like the infinite runner style of game play enough that I’m pretty much willing to try any one I can get my hands on, and occasionally I’m still surprised to find one that doesn’t feel just like the rest. Now I’m not suggesting that Ronin does anything revolutionary for the genre, or quite frankly even really evolutionary, but there’s something about it that keeps drawing me back.
I never considered frogs to be a very popular subject for video games, but there really are quite a few games staring the lily pad bound amphibians and their desire to eat bugs. Thankfully Mister Frog is a different beast altogether. Yeah you’re still trying to collect bugs with the protagonist’s tongue, but there isn’t a lily pad anywhere to be seen in this game. Plus, the actual game play mechanic is different than any I’ve come across in this sort of game to date. This is another fine example of simple, fun and addictive blending seamlessly together to create a game that probably won’t get the recognition it deserves.
Many of you are probably too young for this, and those that are my age probably had better sense than me, but the phrase “I have the power” was pretty much a regular part of my after school routine in grade school. It was part of the battle cry that transformed mild mannered Prince Adam into He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe. If you think it sounds just a bit corny, try watching the show some time. He-Man makes The Brady Bunch look like intense drama. Anyway, for better or worse – depending on your viewpoint – all the cheese that made the show what it was seems to have ended up in the game. And of course you have many of the main characters and locations from Eternia. Just don’t expect anything revolutionary game play wise.
There’s a reasonably credibly founded stigma regarding crossovers between video games and other media: it doesn’t work well. When it comes to basing video games off of other media, you tend to lose the story in favor of events that simply take place in the same universe. Go the other route and you find that many comics based off of video games pretty much have to come up with their own stories because the source material doesn’t have any. Either way you tend to have a match that doesn’t feel made in heaven. Ape Entertainment is trying to do their part to stay on the winning side of the curve with two offerings based off of currently popular mobile games: the Squids franchise of action / RPG games and Temple Run, the game that did for infinite runners what Angry Birds did for physics action games. In terms of content they’ve mostly succeeded, though I’m still not quite sure how I feel about the interface.
There was a time when “playing bat and ball” meant your kids were probably out getting a bit of exercise. Nowadays it could simply indicate that they are sampling the latest variant of the classic Arkanoid. Mechanics wise there’s no question that Magic Orbz pays homage to such games of old, but the environments and some of the power ups really give it a fresh feel. Don’t get too laid back while you’re playing, though, or the challenge of the last level set will really smack you in the face.