Archive for the ‘Big Blue Bubble’ Category

Quick Look: Paper Munchers for iPhone

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Paper Munchers is proof that the food chain works just fine, as long as it’s aided by a bomb every now and again.  The big monsters are hungry, and it’s up to you to feed them as efficiently as you can.  This is a different take on the physics puzzle concept that’s both fresh and fun.  That is, of course, unless you run out of bombs.  But, as a last resort, there are always in-app purchases for that.

Spinning Doom

Spinning Doom

The world of Paper Munchers is full of big monsters with their mouths wide open, just hoping that something small and scrumptious will pop in.  There are plenty of little monsters for them to consume, but the small critters don’t seem too eager to just jump into the jaws of death.  That’s where you come in.  As wielder of the bombs, you simply tap the screen to place an explosive device, and watch as monsters go flying.  Every monster will get consumed, but aside from helping you complete the level, only certain ones are beneficial to your immediate game play.

There are two types of bombs in this world: temporary and permanent.  Permanent bombs come in a group of three, and this group gets replenished each time you start a level.  The one saving grace to your collection of permanent bombs is that you can actually earn them back while playing a level.  The first critter of a certain color that lands in the mouth of a big monster of the same color after using a bomb will earn you a replacement bomb.  Don’t get too excited, though.  If you land a small pink monster in a big pink monster’s mouth, and then a blue one in a big blue monster’s mouth on the same turn, you won’t get two bombs.  Still, if you can manage it you should be able to keep your supply of permanent bombs coming.

The Corner Pockets

The Corner Pockets

Temporary bombs, on the other hand, are quite fickle.  As their name implies, once you use them they are gone.  Don’t despair, though.  You can always buy bombs in the store.  Bombs cost currency, which you earn every time you complete a level.  Or, if you want to fast track things, you can spend your hard earned cash buying currency through in-app purchases.  It all seems a bit ironic if you ask me.  So far I haven’t run across a level I couldn’t beat with only my 3 permanent bombs (I ran out of temp bombs pretty quickly), but going this route you’ll certainly spend a lot of time on some levels.

The graphics in Paper Munchers are interesting to say the least.  The background employs the “make it look like paper” style of art, which I suppose has something to do with the name.  When implemented well it can be very stylish, and there’s no question that it looks fabulous here.  They even managed to make the oft times drab color pallet work.  The small creatures are basic shapes like rectangles and squares that have eyes and mouths, though they are certainly animated little shapes.  The hungry monsters start out as gnarly beasts with wide, gaping jaws, but later transform into other things like big organic saw blades.  One of the best (and admittedly rather morbid) parts of the visuals is the bones that are spit out when the monsters are done eating the small creatures.

The Blocks Cometh

The Blocks Cometh

The sound effects work well towards creating a darkly humorous mood.  The victims gurgle and chirp until they cease to exist, and in the case of the wide-jawed monsters, a nice little chomping sound followed by a spit completes the gruesome picture.  Other noises are appropriate to the types of monster you are feeding.  I will admit that I was a bit disappointed with the music, which is actually rather plain.  Given the atmosphere I would have almost expected a couple of Danny Elfman style tracks.

The main issue I have with Paper Munchers is that except for when you first complete a given level, currency doesn’t flow so freely in this game.  If you don’t mind spending some real do for fake currency, or you can live with 3 bombs once your supply of temps has been depleted, this is one very entertaining game.  Just remember that no actual monsters were harmed in the making of this software.

Final Verdict: Recommended
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Quick Look: Animal Pop for iPhone

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Casual games abound on the App Store, and while in theory that seems like a good thing, in practice it makes it that much harder to find ones that are worth spending your time on. That’s what people like me are here for, and I believe I’ve found another one to add to your “worth having” list. I hate to classify Animal Pop as a match 3 game, because I don’t think that completely describes the game play to be found here. However you want to categorize the game, it’s got bubbles, physics and cute animals. What more could you ask for?

Free The Rabbit

Free The Rabbit

Somehow cute little critters have gotten themselves trapped in bubbles, and it’s your job to get them out. Different colored bubbles will continually float to the top of the screen, and when two or more of the same color are touching you can tap the group to pop them. Ultimately your goal is to clear a path so that the animals’ bubbles will touch the top of the screen, at which time they will pop on their own and the animals will be free. There is no other way to pop an animal’s bubble. A level is complete when you rescue the designated number of animals. The game is over when your time runs out on a particular level.

Along the way you’ll get certain power ups to help you clear the screen. They are surrounded in bubbles as well, and must be matched just like any other bubble. The anvil floats to the top then falls to the bottom of the screen, destroying every bubble in its path. The lightening bolt gets rid of all other bubbles of the same color as its bubble was, and the mine destroys a few bubbles around its proximity. The clock obviously adds more time to the level. This power up is the one exception because it is encased in ice instead of a bubble. You free it by popping groups of bubbles around it, shattering the ice.

I'm Number One

I'm Number One

The main obstacle is of course the bubbles themselves. The board is in constant motion, so what one second might two touching bubbles another second might have just enough space between them to keep you from popping them. Also, it’s not uncommon to clear a path for an animal, just to have the space get filled up by other bubbles before the animal gets there. Time is an obstacle as well (at least when it runs out). Your ranking is also based on time. The other thing I’ve run into so far is animals that are wrapped in “layers”, where every layer except the innermost one must be popped first by combining it with a group of bubbles of like color.

Controlling Animal Pop is quite simple – just tap to pop bubbles. Power ups are used as soon as you free them, so there’s nothing additional required there. Unfortunately there is only one game play mode, and there are currently no achievements either for OpenFeint or Game Center. Hopefully both of these things will change in future releases. Granted the game as it stands right now is pretty fun, but it could use both these things I’ve mentioned to be even better.

Anvils Can Float?

Anvils Can Float?

The visuals are pretty decent. The bubbles actually look nice, the animals are cute, and the backdrop is simple but charming. The only thing that seems a bit out of place is the clouds, which are somewhat blocky in nature. They don’t look bad, but they don’t really fit the overall style of the graphics either. The sound effects are actually enjoyable, especially when it comes to the animal noises when they are freed. I don’t know how authentic they are (I’m pretty sure no animal goes “ewww” in real life), but they sure make for entertaining video game noises. The music is good and very light-hearted, but it would be nice if there were a couple of different themes mixed up between the levels.

If you’re looking for a lot of variety, this definitely isn’t the game for you. With one game play mode and no achievements, it can get a bit repetitive even if it does click for you. Thankfully I quickly grew to enjoy it, so the repetitive nature doesn’t really bother me. Besides, rescuing those cute little animals makes it all worthwhile. If you have kids, this is a game they will certainly enjoy as well. There are better matching type games out there, but the constantly shifting playing field and animal rescuing goal are twisty enough to make this one worth playing.

Final Verdict: Recommended

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Quick Look: Burn The Rope for iPhone

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Obviously Angry Birds has been the most talked about puzzle game in the last year, though Cut The Rope received a decent amount of buzz when it was released as well (primary because it dethroned Angry Birds for a week or so as #1).  While these games certainly deserve the accolades they have received, a lot of good puzzle games slip completely under the radar.  Burn The Rope is one such game, and I feel it is just as creative as the other games I mentioned above.  I can pretty much guarantee that you’ve not played a game quite like it on your iDevice, and you really should check it out if you’ve not already played it.

The Actor's Dichotomy

The Actor's Dichotomy

The premise behind Burn The Rope is that each level has a shape made out of ropes, and you must set the ropes on fire and burn away as much of the shape as you can before the flames go out.  Like many puzzle games these days there are three levels to medals you can receive: bronze, silver and gold.  These levels are based solely on the amount of rope you burn away.  You can unlock the next level at a given location simply by earning a bronze medal on the highest unlocked level at that location.  Once you get into the game, however, you’ll find yourself drawn towards trying to earn the gold on each level.  It’s great for replayability.

To begin a level you just tap somewhere along the rope in order to ignite a flame.  As long as there is rope to burn the flame will stay lit… as long as your device is rotated in the direction the flame is pointing.  That’s the trick to Burn The Rope – you’re constantly rotating your device to make sure all of your flames stay moving.  It doesn’t take long for a flame to burn out, either, so if you need to focus on a particular flame make sure it’s the one that can do the most damage.  After a number of levels I’m still trying to get used to the whole thing myself, but I can give you one bit of advice: don’t try playing this with any kind of cables plugged in unless you want to get cords tangled!

A Firey Story

A Firey Story

As you would expect, the further you get into the game the more complex things get.  The shapes get more detailed, providing several paths that can all be alight at the same time.  Eventually you get introduced to bugs that cause the flames to change colors when they collide.  If a segment of rope is a certain color, it can only be burned by flames of the same color.  There are also bugs that explode when burned.  And just wait until they turn the lights out!  These are just some of the things you’ll encounter in the first set of levels, and the game in its current incarnation has three areas to explore.

The visuals are pretty decent in Burn The Rope.  Fire is almost always cool in the electronic world, and they’ve done a good job with the flame effects.  The bugs themselves look like bugs, so mission accomplished.  Probably the best part of the graphics is the dancing flames on the end of level screen.

Lots Of Circles

Lots Of Circles

The sound works well enough, though the bugs sound kind of odd when they get riled up.  The flames and explosions and such are all pretty much on target.  There’s a voice every once in a while that says things like “right on” and “oh yeah” that’s pretty amusing.  The music is fun to listen to, though it will get repetitive quickly if you’re just sitting and listening to it without actually playing the game.  It seems like there were more vocals in the title screen on the first version of the game, and I don’t know why they would have cut back on that.

If you are any kind of puzzle game addict you need to add Burn The Rope to your collection.  It’s every bit as entertaining as all those OTHER popular puzzle games, and it is different than anything you’ve probably played on your iPhone up until this point.  Besides, how often do you get to safely play with fire?

Final Verdict: Recommended
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Quick Look: Thumpies for iPhone

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

I’m pretty sure Thumpies are what happen when you feed Uggles after midnight.  To say this rhythm game is wild is an understatement.  From the initial laugh when you press the screen to start the game, you know you’re going to be in for something different, and Thumpies certainly delivers.  The game fun, it’s fast paced, and the Thumpies are cute in a demented sort of way.  The problem is that the more Thumpies you get on screen at the same time, the less responsive the game seems to become.  Or, I could just have a bad sense of rhythm.  I’m not really sure what the case is, but it can be frustrating sometimes.

Thumpies are odd, furry little creatures with an innate sense of rhythm that like to bounce around and eat butterflies.  Each level contains three or more platforms that the Thumpies can bounce on, and it’s your job to help them find the beat by tapping on the platforms when they bounce on them.  A correctly timed tap will produce a sound and add to the meter at the top of the screen.  When the meter is full you have beaten the level.  If you get enough correct taps in a row the Thumpies will become electrified and the meter will fill up twice as fast, but that goes away with the first missed tap.  There are also butterflies flittering around that you can tap.  Collecting these butterflies allows you to unlock additional Tumpies to play with.  If your completion meter falls to 0 any butterflies that you’ve captured will fly away.  When the completion meter is full any captured butterflies will added to your total count.  Be warned, though, Thumpies like to eat butterflies, so you have to get to them before they do!

Here Come The Thumpies

Here Come The Thumpies

Like any good rhythm game, the key to Thumpies is timing.  Unlike most rhythm games, however, each Thumpie has a set pattern.  As such, the game has a Simon like element to it in the sense that if you memorize the pattern of each Thumpie it will make it easier for you to beat the level.  On the plus side, all you have to do is tap the screen on the corresponding platform when a Thumpie bounces.  The problem is that when you get more than one Thumpie going, especially if they are moving quickly, the touch response seems a bit shaky.  It gets worse when there are butterflies flittering around and you try and tap on them in between bounces.  It’s not always an issue, as there are some levels with a bunch of platforms and Thumpies that I was able to score pretty high on, but in some cases I literally had to just keep tapping all the platforms and hoping I got enough taps timed right that I could finally finish the level.

There’s certainly plenty of replay value with Thumpies.  Every level has three difficulty settings, which for most people should provide a good amount of challenge.  The only thing I don’t like about this is that it doesn’t appear that scores are kept by difficulty, but just by level.  It would be nice to know within a level what my best score on each difficulty setting was.  There’s also the matter of unlocking all of the Thumpies, which should keep you busy for a little while.  And, some of the levels are just plain fun to play over and over again.

Want Me Some Butterflies

Want Me Some Butterflies

The world of Thumpies looks good.  There’s a nice variety of detailed backgrounds, and the Thumpies themselves are quite interesting to look at.  I’m not sure whether I’d classify the Thumpies as looking cute or disturbing, but either way they are quite fascinating.  The sound effects are great.  There’s a laugh at certain times that sounds just like the crazy reindeer from the Santa Clause movies, and I can’t help but smile every time I hear it.  In fact, I found myself smiling quite a bit at the sounds in this game.  They’re just so much fun.  The music is also interesting.  You might start out with a light melody or nothing at all, and each sequence of Thumpies that you successfully complete builds on the background music for the next sequence.  I thought it was a very creative way of handling the music.

I’ve not been a big fan of the whole rhythm genre of games, but as variants like Beat It and Thumpies comes out I’m starting to appreciate the genre a little bit more.  Thumpies in particular has an addictive quality about it.  I’m not sure whether it’s because of the need to collect them all, the funny sounds the Thumpies make, or just the frantic nature of game play in general.  I do hope they consider revisiting the controls at some point, though, because this is a game where responsiveness is key and I don’t feel that when there are several Thumpies on screen at once.  Otherwise, Thumpies delivers some intense fun that will keep you coming back again and again.

Final Verdict: Recommended

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