Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Quick Look: Supermarket Scramble for iPhone

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

I’ve played many match 3 games before, and I’ve also enjoyed one or two grocery store time management games, but this is the first I’ve dabbled in a combination of the two.  It turns out that the mix works quite well!  There are a couple of limitations that the random nature of the food drop and the interface place on strategy, but overall the two concepts blend together nicely and actually make for a rather challenging game.

Lots Of Produce

Lots Of Produce

Like typical time management games, it’s all about the customer. Your customers will line up at the bottom of the screen, each one having a list of items they need to buy.  To fill their items you must make a sufficient number of matches in the match 3 board that takes up most of the screen.  Once you’ve match enough of an item a check will appear next to that item in the shopper’s list, and excess will go to the next shopper that needs it.  When all items are matched for a shopper a cash register appears.  The customer will eventually go away on their own, but you can clear them out early by tapping on them.

Of course every patron is losing patience as they stand around waiting, and I’m assuming they’ll leave if you don’t get their order filled before their patience runs out, though I haven’t had that happen yet.  The obvious cure for this is to fill their order in a timely fashion.  To help you random power ups will appear like candy to sooth the shoppers’ nerves and a cart to clear away rows of items and help shake things up a bit.  Each new power up is introduced after several levels of play, and once you’ve acquired a power up you can level up that power up to make it more useful.  The one thing I didn’t care for was that it seems like the hard candy, which only affects one shopper, always affects the first shopper instead of giving you a chance to pick.

I Did Good!

I Did Good!

Speaking of upgrades, once you’ve completed a level you’ll earn stars based on reaching your goal, your expert goal, and the bonus set out for the level.  In effect you can earn up to three stars per level.  These stars can be spent upgrading power ups, food quality (which I assume means you need less matches to fill an order), and the store itself (for instance, adding 10 seconds to the clock at the start of the level).  There are a lot of items to upgrade and a lot of upgrade levels per item, so each game really could be a different experience from that perspective.

The graphics are certainly pleasant, though not quite up to the standards I usually expect from time management games.  The match 3 board looks decent enough, and you can certainly tell what everything is. Shopper portraits look alright, as does the image of the shopkeeper on the results screen of each level, but it’s clear the artist isn’t quite as skilled with drawing people.  The sound effects are adequate, and I do like the voices.  It’s just a shame the diva never has anything nice to say!  The music pretty much sounds like what you’d hear while walking around a supermarket, so I suppose your affinity towards the tune would depend on how much you like that somewhat generic elevator type instrumental.  For me it works.

Plenty Of Upgrades

Plenty Of Upgrades

The main drawback to Supermarket Scramble is that unlike traditional time management games, you don’t have as much control over your resources since they come from the randomly generated match 3 interface.  That aside, this game has managed to take two of my favorite casual genres and mash them up in an interesting and fun way.  I wouldn’t mind seeing the game get a bit of a facelift aesthetically, but that in no way detracts from the game’s entertainment value.  Whether you look at it as “you got your match 3 in my time management” or “you got your time management in my match 3”, what you end up with is a whole lot of fun.

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Treasure Seekers 3 – Follow The Ghosts for iPhone

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

It seems you can’t keep a good treasure hunter down.  Nelly and Tom are back for yet another globetrotting adventure.  This one starts out as a quest to recover a missing jewel, but quickly turns into a mission to settle supernatural forces around the world.  It’s certainly a worth successor to the Treasure Seekers franchise, with it’s nice blend of puzzle solving, hidden object scavenging and mini puzzle distractions.  It would be nice if it weren’t so hard to find your objectives on screen sometimes, but otherwise it provides for quite an enjoyable romp.

It's No Audrey II

It's No Audrey II

I’m not quite sure how to proceed with this review, because I don’t simply want to regurgitate my words from my thoughts on part two.  However, everything I said there pretty much applies to Follow The Ghosts, so you can check out my review of The Enchanted Canvases here.  One thing I really like about this series is the use of “key” objects, or items in the background that when tapped produce a list of objects you must find in the scene.  What’s nice about the way this is done is that unlike a normal hidden object scene where everything is purposely cluttered, these key object quests happen on the normal screens, so it feels like the objects you are searching for are more naturally blending into the environment.

I also like the fact that the mini games are just that – mini.  While they are used to uncover something about the game, they are fairly basic and unobtrusive, and typically make sense.  So far in Follow The Ghosts the main form of mini game has been of the “assemble a picture from torn parts” variety, though one mini game has you swatting flies.  It’s a way to break up the potential monotony of object finding without burdening the player too much.

A Man And His Cat

A Man And His Cat

As usual the game is a “tap the screen affair”, and aside from the occasional perceived lack of responsiveness the controls work quite well.  Fortunately you don’t get penalized for wrong taps, so there’s nothing to worry about in that regards.  The one thing I found a bit frustrating about Follow The Ghosts was that it seemed even worse than The Enchanted Canvases as far as actually finding key objects and the like.  Obviously finding the hidden objects should be a challenge, but when you can’t even determine where the starting point for your search is, that can be somewhat annoying.  At least you have unlimited hints to compensate for this, but I really don’t like using them if I don’t have to, and there have been times where even after I used a hint I thought to myself “I would have never thought of that”.

Once again the graphics are very well done.  The objects you need to find are easily discernable, unless you just don’t know what a particular object in the list is in the first place.  They haven’t upped the ante much in the animation department, though there are a few nice touches like a man petting the cat sitting next to him or the snapping plant.  Ambient sounds are a bit lacking in this iteration of Treasure Seekers, though the music is still certainly up to snuff.  One of these days I’d love to hear some voices put to Nelly and Tom.

Cute Little Monkey

Cute Little Monkey

There’s no question that Follow The Ghosts is yet another strong entry in the Treasure Seekers franchise.  I’m not sure that I like it quite as much as The Enchanted Canvases, but that opinion might change by the time I’m done with the game (we’ll have to see how the ending goes).  Whether you’re new to the series or a franchise veteran, there is plenty here to love.  I can’t wait to see what their next outing has in store for us.

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

[All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Front Runner for iPhone

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

With as easy as it is to get games on the App Store, the scrolling shooter genre is becoming just as saturated as any other these days.  As a result, you really need something different to stand out from the crowd.  On the down side, Front Runner doesn’t really offer that “something different”.  Thankfully, it’s still pretty fun to play, especially when you encounter the bosses (either for real or when they show up to taunt you).  There’s no new ground broken here, but it treads the old ground well enough.

 

Red Ivan's Coming

Red Ivan's Coming

It’s been a while since I started playing this game, so I don’t honestly recall the story, but from what I gather you’re a funny looking red dude that plays a mean trumpet and is trying to rescue an alien named Daisy.  In story mode you’ll have to beat 21 levels of bad guys, complete with three boss battles.  There’s also a survival mode that you unlock by completing story mode, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.  It’s not that the game is overly difficult, because you’ll pretty much fly through all the levels of each stage with little challenge except the boss levels.  It’s just that there appears to be a nasty glitch that prevented the last level from ending even though I defeated the bad guy, and I didn’t feel like tackling it again.

There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to the level design in this game.  The enemies start of pretty sparse, but as the levels progress the screen will soon be flooded with adversaries.  When you take them down, some will leave notes for you to pick up.  These notes are worth either 1 or 5 points, and at the beginning of each level you can use those points to upgrade weapons and your ship.  The ship’s speed and shields can be upgraded, and each weapon can be upgraded for power and rate of fire.  What I really like about the system is that you get to keep whatever points you collect even if you don’t finish the level, so this ends up being one of those games where it won’t be impossible to fully upgrade all your weapons.  And trust me, there are times where you’ll need it.

One thing I find rather interesting is that once you’ve completed a block of seven levels, you can go back and play that level set again.  Your score will start back at 0, but it’s a chance for you to actually better your score from the first time around and earn achievements that you couldn’t earn before.  Don’t think this is necessarily going to be an easy way to earn extra points for upgrades, however.  I decided to test this out for kicks, and you don’t earn a whole lot of upgrade points on the first set of levels.  Guess the developers didn’t want you to “cheat” your way to victory!

Him again?

Him again?

Your only option for controlling the game is to drag your finger around the screen.  Normally this is the option I prefer for scrolling shooters anyway, but in this case it starts my list of “what I don’t like about Front Runner”.  Your ship is pretty small, and unless I use my pinky, I’m covering the ship a good portion of the time that I’m playing.  This makes it rather difficult to dodge just in the nick of time, which is often required when lots of bullets are flying around.  Second, while it doesn’t happen very often, sometimes achievement notices will pop up, blocking the action.  That’s not very cool in my book.

Finally, I’d like to mention the errors.  I usually leave this part out, but in this case they were significant enough for me to bring them up.  The game pretty consistently crashes after about 10 to 15 minutes of playing.  Thankfully it’s usually between the shop and the next level, so at least I don’t lose anything.  Then there was the bug at the end of the last level.  This one I think happened because there were notes that I could not pick up, and it was like the game didn’t know that I had completed the last level.  As a result I was stuck and had to shut the game down, and even though I had beaten the final boss I now have not completed the game yet.  That is definitely not cool.

Graphically the game is quite charming.  There are only a few types of adversaries, but each one looks quite different, and the end bosses actually have some personality to them.  Some of the objects appear to be clay moldings like in OddBlob or Platypus, but the overall style doesn’t seem to match that, so I’m not really sure if they’re 3D models or just good old fashioned pixel art.  Whatever the case, it looks pretty good.  I really like the look of the protagonist as well, but sadly you don’t really get to see him except for in the title screen.

Bad Guys Keep On Comin'

Bad Guys Keep On Comin'

The sound effects for the most part were just okay – there really wasn’t anything new to be heard here.  I did, however, crack a smile every time a villain would come out and wag its tongue at me.  I was actually somewhat disappointed in the soundtrack.  Especially when compared to several of the scrolling shooters I’ve played recently, the music was generic and bland.

I’m really torn on this one.  It’s not very in-depth (most gamers should easily beat the game in an hour or two), and the bugs are a bit annoying, especially whatever caused me to dump on the last level before I could win the game.  There’s not really anything new about the game compared to others of its type either.  Still, I did have fun playing it and the bosses are quite amusing.  Everything points to me giving this a Not Recommended, but instead I’m just going to caution you strongly that you might experience some stability issues with the game.

Final Verdict: On The Fence (leaning towards Not Recommended)
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

[All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Turtle Fly for iPhone

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

It seems like if there’s not a “continuous running” game coming out then there’s a climb up / fall down as far as you can style game.  Well, Turtle Fly isn’t a “continuous running” game, so I bet you can guess what type of game it is.  I always approach this type of game with a “do we really need another one?” attitude, whether that’s really fair or not.  At first I wasn’t sure Turtle Fly would qualify for a “yes” to my question, but with all the upgrades available and the 4 achievements on each level, I find myself playing for days at a time every time I sit down to play (that’s game days, of course, and not real days).  It may not be the best of its type of game, but it has certainly kept me entertained long enough to earn its keep.

A Turtle Or A Crayon?

A Turtle Or A Crayon?

Apparently a scientist has concluded that if turtles can fly then humans can as well, and you get to be the lucky guinea pig to test out this theory.  All you have to do is strap on a rocket pack and sail into the heavens as high as you can.  Unfortunately, it appears that even though you are in a no fly zone, you can expect to see obstacles like hot air balloons, planes and more.  There are also strong pressure areas marked by arrows that will push you back down just a bit.  This might hamper you just a bit, but it could also save you from a nasty collision, as it gives you a chance to adjust your course just a bit on the way back up.  You also have to fight wind gusts, which are indicated by a directional arrow and number on the left side of the screen.

So how do you combat all this?  The most important thing is to stay in flight.  You start off with just your main rocket engine, but eventually you’ll be able to by a temporary booster.  Whether using the booster or not your main fuel will eventually run out, and your booster has its own fuel tank.  You can pick up red and blue cans respectively to reload your fuel.  You’ll also take damage when colliding into obstacles, but collecting the heart and wrench icon will replenish some of that health.  There are also gems to collect that help you earn money towards upgrades.  You also earn money simply for staying in flight, and each level has four achievements that provide you with a significant amount of money when completed.

Into Space We Go

Into Space We Go

Each upgrade has anywhere between 3 to 9 levels, and include things like better control, resistance to air and wind, less damage when hit, and more efficient fuel consumption.  Which order you perform the upgrades in depends mainly on your cash flow and what you think will suit you best, but chances are you’ll max out all the upgrades before completing the game.

The controls are pretty simple.  The left and right arrows turn the turtle left and right respectively, and the rocket button gives your turtle power.  Actually controlling the turtle is a different story, however.  While you can upgrade anything at any time as long as you have the money, I’d suggest working on things like air and wind resistance and the actual “better control” upgrade early on, as these items will make your navigational life easier.  As you start going faster and moving to more advanced levels, though, these options don’t seem to make as much of a difference, so don’t be surprised if you sometimes feel like you’re going out of control even if you’re barely adjusting your left or right directions.

Fuel Looks A Lot Like Coke...

Fuel Looks A Lot Like Coke...

One might label the visuals as “doodle like”, especially since many of the developer’s other games has Doodle in the title.  However, much like his other games, Turtle Fly has much better graphics than the average doodle game.  The vehicles look decent enough, and I really like the turtle as he goes through his different phases of shell, booster and plain turtle.  The different hats for protection are a nice touch as well.  The sound effects work well enough, and the fizz of a pop can being opened when you collect extra fuel is somewhat amusing.  The music is pretty good, though more than one song would be nice.  There doesn’t have to be one for each level, but at least have two or three songs that can be selected in an option screen or something.

I won’t tell you that Turtle Fly is this best this genre has to offer, or that it even really breaks any new ground, because it isn’t and it doesn’t.  However, Turtle Fly is certainly a very solid entry in the genre, and its level achievements and extensive upgrade system certainly give you plenty to play for.  My one concern would be how difficult the last few levels will be seeing as I’ve already almost maxed out all of my upgrades on level 4, but I don’t think I’ll have to worry about the for a while.  If you’re in the market for a new “perpetual climbing” games and you want to see a turtle fly, Turtle Fly is certainly worth checking out.

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Quick Look: Neon Mania for iPhone

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

I never thought all that time I spent tracing pictures when I was a kid would come in handy, but I guess Vivid Games had different plans for my faux copying skills.  Neon Mania is all about tracing, and you’ll need a steady hand and quick reflexes to get the ultimate score.  I’m not sure older gamers will appreciate this quite as much, but kids will love it, and there are certainly a lot of puzzles to complete to make it worth your while.  Unfortunately, a lot of the images suffer from “small screen syndrome”, but overall it’s been a pleasant if not somewhat uninspiring gaming experience.

Classic Arcade Machine

Classic Arcade Machine

Neon Mania is currently comprised of 9 groups, each containing several images that look like neon signs gone dark.  It’s your job to bring the signs “back to life” by tracing the parts of the images to light them back up.  Once you start tracing a segment you must finish it, and once you’ve traced all segments you’ll get a ranking from 1 to 3 stars depending on how well you traced the image.  Personally, I’m not 100% convinced the scoring is accurate, because there were times where I’d trace an image and get two stars, then trace it again thinking I did a better job and get only one star.  Other times I’d stay at my current ranking even though I felt I did a much better job tracing the image the second time.

To trace the image you simply press where the flashing stars are and then trace the corresponding line to completion.  For straight lines this isn’t too bad of a proposition.  For curved lines, on the other hand, this task can be quite daunting, especially if the line has a lot of tightly wound curves or sharp angles.  This problem is augmented for me by a combination of the small screen and my larger fingers.  Kids should be fine with the game, but I think it would be a better experience for me on the iPad.  The other problem I have is that sometimes there are several stars close together, and when I think I’m starting one line I’ve actually started another.  I’m not sure how much of an issue this is because I don’t know what all goes into factoring the final score.

The River Flows

The River Flows

On the plus side, if you can get past all the nuances of the line drawing itself, there is plenty to do.  As I mentioned in the beginning there are 9 groups of objects.  The smallest group contains 21 items, and the largest holds 175!  There’s also the fact that you can earn up to three stars for each object, so while you might get through a group, getting through the group with perfection is a whole other story.  The game also has 16 achievements to earn and supports both Game Center and OpenFeint, so you’re covered by both the major social network players.

The graphics are pretty simple, but the objects still look really good.  I don’t think there’s a lot you could do to something that should look like a neon sign to make it flashy without ruining it.  The backgrounds are pretty basic as well, though the Easter image set has a couple of nice selections that it toggles between.  The sound effects are okay, with a nice little ding to confirm that you’ve completed a line or a slight buzzer to let you know you’ve made a “wrong turn”.  The music is nice and easy to listen to, but reminds me a little too much of elevator or lounge music.

Pizza

Pizza

This game was definitely made with the causal gamer in mind.  Beyond that, though, there are times where it feels like an iPad game crammed onto an iPod Touch screen.  Still, aside from not 100% understanding how scores are determined, I have enjoyed my time spent with Neon Mania.  I think hardcore gamers will be disappointed, but everyone else should consider giving it a try.  I’d especially recommend Neon Mania if you let your kids use your device on a frequent basis (or if you happen to be a kid reading this review).

Final Verdict: Recommend
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Desertic for iPhone

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

When I first saw the screen shots for this game I was concerned that it would be a bit “odd”.  Turns out I was right.  Fortunately, that’s mostly a good thing.  Desertic is actually fairly entertaining, and I can pretty much guarantee that while the mechanics might not be wholly new, content-wise you’ve probably not played anything like it on your iPhone.  My main issue with the game is that even on easy it seems to be quite challenging to do the most basic task, which is to get water to your flowers.  Still, if you have quick reactions you’ll probably do just fine in this game.

Water The Cactus Too

Water The Cactus Too

In Desertic you’re in charge of making sure the flowers in the desert can soak up what little drops of rain fall during the blistering heat.  You’ll have 3 flowers at a time, and you must make them grow until they get big enough to fly away in the wind.  A cloud will travel across the top of the screen and periodically release a drop of rain.  You must swipe that drop in order to guide it towards the top of one of the flowers.  It has to hit the top of the flower, so you need to account for the fact that the flowers will always be gently swaying.  There’s also the wind factor to take into consideration.

Your task won’t be nearly this easy, however.  Locusts will try and destroy your flowers.  You must tap them to destroy them, or double-tap a rain drop close enough to them to dispose of them.  There are also camels that fly by and occasionally lose their wings (told you this was weird).  If you tap a falling camel it will get its wings back and fly away, otherwise it will crush whatever flower it hits and cause it to shrink somewhat.  As the sun gets hotter it can cause the flowers to shrink as well.  The heat also makes the locusts angrier and can cause the lone cactus in the background to dry up and explode.  If you double-tap a rain drop by the cactus it can rehydrate the cactus somewhat.

Flowers Under Glass

Flowers Under Glass

Conceptually it’s actually a nifty little game.  The main issue that I have is that unless I’m missing something, it’s awfully hard to steer the rain drops.  I could probably learn to live with that if there wasn’t so much going on, even in the easy level.  Sometimes I find myself smashing bugs and tapping camels so much that I’m completely neglecting the rain drops.  Also, up until the last couple of games I played, it was quite difficult to stop the camels from falling.  Overall it just seems like the controls aren’t sensitive enough where they need to be and are too sensitive in other places.  Or, I could just be really bad at the game.  Still, I don’t think it’s me.

The visuals are pretty good, though something doesn’t seem to gel quite right between everything.  Even so, the camels and locusts look nice, and the flowers are just right as they wither and grow.  There are even nice little touches like steam that rises from the flower pedals if they get too hot.  One thing that does look a bit unusual to me (if such a thing applies to this game) is that the camels almost appear to be swimming.  The sound effects are just as torn between sensible and crazy.  The locusts sound good, but like all infestations get annoying after a while.  The camels sound like humans screaming when they fall.  If you successfully use a large drop of water you get some applause.  In some respects this feels like a Monty Python sketch.  There is some music, and it does a really good job blending into the background, though I’m not really sure it’s worth listening to on its own.

Even The Nights Are Deadly

Even The Nights Are Deadly

So by now I’m not quite sure if I’ve enticed you or scared you off a bit.  If you’re looking for something entertaining and a bit different, I’d say Desertic is a good choice for you.  Keep in mind that you need some pretty quick reactions after a while, however, so if you prefer slow, casual games this probably will intimidate you within a few levels.  The visuals are decent, and it’s almost worth it just to hear the falling camels scream once or twice.  I wouldn’t put this at the top of my list, but it certainly would be worth giving a try.

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

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

App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Sparkle The Game for iPhone

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

While I’m a fan of the genre, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say before that I’ve been truly addicted to a marble popper game.  With Sparkle that has all changed.  I think I might have even gotten over the sadness of losing Stoneloops Of Jurassica.  Whether that’s really true or not, Sparkle is one awesome marble popper.  The action is fast and furious like it should be, there are some incredible power ups, and the music is some of the most entertaining tunes I’ve run across in a while.  If you love the genre or are a fan of casual games in general, look no further for your next fix.

Just Getting Started

Just Getting Started

I’ve gone over the basics of marble poppers in the past, but just in case there’s anyone reading this who is not familiar with the concept, it’s basically match 3 with groups of objects heading towards a “danger zone”.  Your goal is to shoot individual objects into the group such that you create a section of three or more objects of the same color, eliminating those objects and reducing the size of the groups.  All groups on each level must be eliminated to move on.  If one group makes it to the “danger zone”, then either the level or the game is over, depending on which mode you’re playing.

The game has the standard quest mode, where you progress through a series of increasingly difficult levels.  In this mode you can collect amulets, which will give you certain bonuses when you decide to wear them (use is unlimited, but only one amulet at a time is allowed).  The next mode is challenge, where you can play any level you’ve beaten in quest mode, attempting to get the smallest time on each of four difficulty levels.  Finally you have survival mode, where you select an amulet and then progress through a series of levels, just trying to last as long as you can on each level.  Normally with a game like this I stick to one mode, but in Sparkle they are all equally entertaining.

Big Flash

Big Flash

Controlling the game is dead simple – just tap where you want to fire.  The game is very responsive, so if you miss it’s just because you didn’t time your tap or have your aim right.  Power ups are used automatically, and there are a number of really fun ones that you can get.  Some of my favorites include “revenge of the moon”, which rains particles down on the level and destroys a bunch of objects, and another one that backtracks from the danger zone to about half way through the level, destroying everything in its path.  I’m not 100% sure what all the different power ups do, but if you’re diligent about hitting them you can make quick work out of a level without having to fling too many extra objects.

Visually this game is all about flash.  That’s not always a stringent requirement of mine, but it sure makes me happy when it’s there.  The menus look cool, the backgrounds look good, and even the objects are pretty nifty, even though they are basically just spheres.  What really sticks out, however, are the darkness and spell effects.  Whether it is initially tracing over the level or oozing out of the danger zone when a group gets too close, the darkness is almost creepy.  When a spell takes effect there is usually some sort of particle effects or sparkles or whatever.  This is by far one of the best looking marble poppers on the App Store.

Here They Come

Here They Come

The sound effects are surprising well done too.  Usually I could give or take the sounds, but in this case they actually manage to enhance the atmosphere.  Granted it sounds kind of like you’re playing pool as the objects clank together, but the spells each have a unique audio quality.  I especially like the cackle when you acquire the joker orb.  And the there is the music.  It’s classical… it’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes”… it’s from a Tim Burton soundtrack… in the end all I can say is that it’s pretty amazing.  I could easily sit and listen to the music while working on other stuff, but it’s too alluring to pick up the game and start playing again.

If you haven’t gathered by now, I like this game just a little bit.  In fact, I’d say it’s my most played game of the week so far, and not just because of the review (which is just a bonus, because this wasn’t on my list to review anyway).  If you like marble poppers, shame on you should this be absent from your collection. If you’ve never tried one before, what are you waiting for?  Sparkle’s probably one of the best places to start.

Final Verdict: Highly Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

GIVEAWAY: A Free Copy of WiFi2HiFi to 3 Lucky iPhone Users

Friday, April 8th, 2011

  Technobrainsis giving away licenses of WiFi2HiFi to 3 lucky iPhone users.

WiFi2HiFi for iPhone is a new app allowing users to stream computer’s music to any audio dock or home music system connected to your iPhone. Some of the features of WiFi2HiFi to note include:

    * Ability to use one’s preferred music program to wireless stream audio from one’s computer
    * Listen to your computer’s music library while selecting the songs with your preferred remote app
    * Super sound quality
    * Streaming begins as soon as your iPhone is detected by the app

www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMAdZZblIwU

 

More details are available @ WiFi2HiFi & iTunes

  

To have a chance to win one of the 3 licenses of WiFi2HiFi, you must post a response to this posting with an answer to this question:

  • Do you currently find listening to a variety of streaming audio via your iPhone/iPod Touch very simple to do?
  • If not, explain briefly why?

You must provide a valid email address when posting to qualify. Your email address will be kept private and only used to commuicate via Technobrains. 3 lucky winners will be chosen on Sunday April 17th @ 9 pm local time. Winners will be contacted shortly thereafter to confirm there acceptance of the GIVEAWAY. Once all 3 winners have been confirmed, their posted names will be listed as the winners.

Good Luck.


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Share

GIVEAWAY: A Free Copy of WiFi2HiFi to 3 Lucky iPhone Users

Friday, April 8th, 2011

NOTE: GIVEAWAY DEADLINE EXTENDED to April 24, 2011.

Technobrains is giving away licenses of WiFi2HiFi to 3 lucky iPhone users.

WiFi2HiFi for iPhone is a new app allowing users to stream computer’s music to any audio dock or home music system connected to your iPhone. Some of the features of WiFi2HiFi to note include:

* Ability to use one’s preferred music program to wireless stream audio from one’s computer
* Listen to your computer’s music library while selecting the songs with your preferred remote app
* Super sound quality
* Streaming begins as soon as your iPhone is detected by the app

www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMAdZZblIwU

More details are available @ WiFi2HiFi & iTunes

To have a chance to win one of the 3 licenses of WiFi2HiFi, just post a response to this blog with an answer to this question:

  • Do you currently find listening to a variety of streaming audio via your iPhone/iPod Touch very simple to do?
  • If not, explain briefly why?

3 lucky winners will be chosen on Sunday April 17th @ 9 pm local time. Winners will be contacted shortly thereafter to confirm there acceptance of the GIVEAWAY. Once all 3 winners have been confirmed, their posted names will be listed as the winners.

Good Luck

NOTE: GIVEAWAY DEADLINE EXTENDED to April 24, 2011.


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Share

Quick Look: Ninja, Please! for iPhone

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Unfortunately, this is a fairly easy review to write, which is actually kind of bittersweet for me.  Technically, this game has it all.  80s arcade gun game play.  The silly “bad guys attack while innocents wander around aimlessly” level layout.  Guns, magic and insults as your weapons of choice.  Cheesy digitized graphics where backgrounds and characters may or may not blend.  The problem is, despite all this coolness, the game lacks any sort of difficulty balance.  That makes it nearly impossible to play after a point.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself now.  Let’s talk Ninja, Please!

Insult Time

Insult Time

You play the lone gunman, trying to take down a ninja clan that would just assume taunt you as shoot you.  Now don’t get me wrong – they will shoot you, so you might just want to level the playing field before that happens.  You start the game with a pretty much worthless pistol, but since it’s free you won’t be complaining.  As you take down ninjas you’ll earn money towards things like weapon upgrades and magic.  You can also earn money by insulting the ninjas, which is both more fun and more profitable.  I’ll discuss that more later on.  On the flip side, you can money when innocent bystanders dying.  And if you think you’re being extremely careful with your shots, don’t worry.  It won’t be you that dispatches the innocents most of the time.

The main allure to this game is the insult system.  When available, an arrow with the word insult will appear above a ninja’s head.  Being careful to tap the arrow, you will engage in a round of slinging hash.  If you start, you will lose.  This mode is just for you to learn the appropriate responses to the most heated insults.  If the ninja starts, you will only win if the retort to the ninja’s insult has already been revealed to you.  You will be presented with a list of retorts, and you either need to pick the one that goes with the insult or just pick one at random.  If you were able to select the appropriate retort you’ll earn $30 (and you can still shoot and kill the ninja for an extra $10).

Lift Him Up

Lift Him Up

Control in the game is primarily a matter of tapping.  You tap to shoot, tap to start an insult war, and tap to select choices during the insult war.  If you’re luck enough to afford magic, the electrocute and freeze spells work by tapping on the spell and then tapping on the recipient.  The only one that’s a bit different is levitation, where you drag the ninja you want to levitate and then let go once you have them where you want them.  The game does suffer a bit from “fat finger” syndrome (which I can say because I have fat fingers), but I haven’t run into too many shooters that didn’t.

The big problem I have with the game is in the balance of difficulty.  You start off with $100 and a free pistol, so all seems well.  The problem is that the least you need to spend to use a spell is $150 ($100 for the spell and $50 to buy some mana).  Health and bullets each cost $1 a unit.  The bare minimum for a gun upgrade is $200.  By the time you’ve theoretically racked up enough money to get a gun upgrade or buy a spell, you’ve wasted all that extra cash refilling your life and bullets.  Even if all I’m spending my money on is bullets (and life when I really have to), I’m out of bullets by the end of the 4th level.  No bullets and you’re dead.  Either the prices need to be more reasonable or there need to be power ups you can shoot to earn extra lives, bullets or money.

Not The Village People

Not The Village People

The visuals are lots of fun.  Whether or not they are, the characters have a digitized look to them, which for some reason reminds me of the old Sega Genesis game Pit Fighter.  The backgrounds look pretty good, though the characters don’t quite seem to fit with the backgrounds, adding to the cheese factor.  The silly animations of the innocents strolling back and forth doesn’t help any either.  The sound effects are pretty standard for the most part, but I do love the “woo-hoo” when a ninja first drops in.  There’s only one track for the music, yet for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on I really enjoy it.  That’s good, of course, since there is only one track.

Ninja, Please has the potential to be an incredible homage to those 80s arcade machines with the gun attachments.  The action is there, the graphics are solid, and the music is nice.  The insult system is a nice touch that even puts the game a step ahead of the rest.  However, the extreme difficulty sucks all the joy out of the game, especially when you know you’re going to consistently run out of ammo by the third or fourth level.  As I’ve said earlier, to me this feels more like a game imbalance than a true desire to make the game difficult.  As a result, until this problem is taken care of I sadly cannot suggest you spend your money on this game.

Final Verdict: Not Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Chop Chop Caveman for iPhone

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Warning: constant() [function.constant]: Couldn't find constant TT_TH8US_LEN in /home/bobkatt/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tweet-this/tweet-this.php on line 1821

Warning: constant() [function.constant]: Couldn't find constant TT_TH8US_LEN in /home/bobkatt/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tweet-this/tweet-this.php on line 1821

Warning: constant() [function.constant]: Couldn't find constant TT_TH8US_LEN in /home/bobkatt/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tweet-this/tweet-this.php on line 1821

Warning: constant() [function.constant]: Couldn't find constant TT_TH8US_LEN in /home/bobkatt/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tweet-this/tweet-this.php on line 1821

Warning: constant() [function.constant]: Couldn't find constant TT_TH8US_LEN in /home/bobkatt/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tweet-this/tweet-this.php on line 1821

It’s hard to believe almost a year has passed since I took a look at the first Chop Chop “trilogy”.  Of those games Chop Chop Runner was by far my favorite, and I honestly wasn’t a big fan of Tennis.  Since then 4 new Chop Chop games have been released, so as you can tell I’m a bit behind.  I want to get with the times, as it were, so I’m going to fast forward a bit to Chop Chop Caveman, the last game of the second “trilogy”.  Now I’ll probably have to stop calling them that, since I don’t know that the games will always be released in groups of three, so it’s out of my system.  Anyway, I haven’t had the chance to play Hockey yet, but of the Chop Chop games I’ve played thus far, Caveman is definitely the best.  The game is the most polished of their 2D efforts, and the puzzle / platform genre for me is more interesting than sports games.

Physics Based Puzzles

Physics Based Puzzles

Chop Chop Ninja was an okay game, but I think Chop Chop Caveman is the game that Ninja wanted to be.  You play a cute little caveman with a bad haircut that just wants to eat.  In order to satisfy your hunger you’ll need to bash the denizens of your world into bite sized portions.  Depending on the critter you can do this either by head butting them, slamming them on the descent of a jump, or throwing stuff at them.  Once crushed they’ll turn into meat that you can eat which not only gets rid of them but has the added benefit of giving you a health point back if you’ve lost one.  Some creatures will also eat the meat left over by other creatures, which I found to be a neat and amusing touch.

When you’re not busy feeding your face there are pebbles to collect, as well as three big jewels and a special food item on each level.  You can beat the level without getting the jewels or food item, but I suspect it might be worth your while to collect everything if you can.  In addition to collecting things and dispatching enemies there are also puzzles to solve.  Along the way you’ll be able to pick up items that you can throw, and you can use these items to either collect hard to reach items or to knock over or destroy things in order to open up the path so you can continue your quest.  None of the puzzles so far have been overly difficult, but sometimes you have to think about just the right place to hit something to cause the effect that you want.

Intuitive Touch Controls

Intuitive Touch Controls

To control your character you can either use a virtual d-pad or a method where your actions are based on the location you tap relative to the caveman.  The relative positioning thing isn’t bad, but I much prefer the virtual d-pad.  This gives you buttons for moving left and right, jumping, and bashing / headbutting when appropriate.  To pick up the objects that you can throw you just walk into them, and to actually throw them you draw a path in the direction you want them to go.  You do have to be careful that you’re not standing under an object you throw should it come back down, because it can actually hurt you.

There’s no question the game play is the best out of any Chop Chop game I’ve played so far, but I’d have to say that sentiment follows through to the graphics as well.  The caveman looks great with his bowl haircut and lack of general facial features (except for a big mouth at the moment he eats something).  The dinosaurs are quite amusing in their design, especially the Tyrannosaurus like one with the stubby legs.  Each level set has a unique look while still retaining the overall feel of a platform game.  All they need to do is transfer this level of style to their 3D engine and they’ll have some of the best looking 3D cartoon games around.

Classic Action Platformer

Classic Action Platformer

The sound effects are decent enough, though I wouldn’t in any way rave about them.  What I do like is the little chomp every time the caveman eats something.  What I find a bit disappointing is that none of the dinosaurs make any noise.  What’s up with that?  Anyway, the music makes up for any deficiencies in the sound effects.  Each world has its own theme, and so far they’ve been pretty enjoyable.  While I feel good music is important to any game, I remember spending lots of time with certain console games on pause, just listening to the music (especially in the 16 bit era).

Based on what I’ve played of Chop Chop Caveman so far, I’m looking forward to seeing what the franchise will have to offer moving forward.  They’re definitely refining their work with each new installment in the Chop Chop Universe, and it will certainly be worth keeping an eye on over the coming months.  In the mean time, if you haven’t already delved into the world of Chop Chop, or you just haven’t gotten Caveman yet, I wouldn’t wait any longer.  The traditional platform game play blended with basic physics puzzles and whimsical prehistoric cartoon characters is certainly worth the asking price.  Not to mention the fact the game is universal, and it runs really well on my “ancient” iPod Touch 2G with iOS 3.1.3.

Final Verdict: Highly Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Tiny Wings for iPhone

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Let me tell you a little story.  A few days ago I started seeing a lot of chatter on Twitter about how good a game Tiny Wings was.  Supposedly it had dethroned Angry Birds as the #1 game in the App Store.  Oddly enough, I hadn’t heard of it.  I say that’s odd because every week I write an article that requires me to scour all the new gaming releases from the week before.  Surely I must have run across the game as I was researching that week’s article?  The only thing I can imagine is that I saw the screen shots, read the description and figured, “eh, what’s the big deal?”

I Think I Can...

I Think I Can...

Not wanting to be the type to snub my peers, however, I picked up the game based on all the accolades it was receiving via Twitter.  I installed the game, and then… it sat.  I had other things to do, of course.  After a couple of days, though, the temptation was too much, so I loaded up the game and played it.  Then I played it again.  Before long I thought, “You know, I’d be remiss not to tell my readers about this game”.  So, here we are and now you’re all caught up.

In Tiny Wings you play a little bird that appears to love two things: flying and sleeping.  He’ll also eat any coins and boosters that are in his way, but that’s a whole other story.  To start the game your bird has a little bit of bounce in him.  It’s up to you to get the bird going and keep him going for as long as you possibly can.  The longer the bird stays on the ground, the more quickly dusk approaches, and as soon as the sun sets are fine feathered friend will go back to sleep.  Keeping him airborne is all about timing.

Hills And Valleys

Hills And Valleys

The landscape is chock full of hills and valleys.  Obviously as the bird goes down a hill he will gain momentum, and as he climbs back up he will lose that momentum.  You can help things along a bit by making the bird “heavy”.  You do this by tapping the screen, which will cause the bird to fold in its wings and weigh itself down.  Done at the right time, this action will help the bird accelerate enough that it can use the upward slope of the next hill as a launching mechanism.  Done at the wrong time, however, and you’ll slow yourself down even more.

If you get a good rhythm going you can eventually keep the bird aloft for extended periods of time.  However, there are also times where you actually want to keep the bird on the ground.  You start out with a score multiplier of ten, and you can raise that in increments of two by completing certain tasks.  Those tasks might be something like getting a certain number of perfect slides or collecting a designated number of coins.  Each multiplier increase will generally require several objectives be completed, though thankfully you don’t have to complete them all in one run.  Also, the game doesn’t actually come outright and tell you what the objectives are, so be sure to click the Objectives button at the main menu to figure out what you have to do.

Fly Away

Fly Away

The graphics are decent enough.  The bird is cute, and the randomly generated landscapes look like something ripped from a Beatles animated movie.  One of the ground textures even makes it look like you’re sliding around on the back of a really long stegosaurus.  The sound effects are simple but really effective.  Sometimes it sounds like the bird is actually saying thank you, and I chuckle every time he screams “yahoo” when drifting between islands. There’s only one song during game play, but it fits the whole atmosphere so perfectly you won’t care.  Besides, it’s a good song.

This is one of those games that sounds like it would almost be too simple to be any fun, yet it’s one of the best experiences I’ve had on my iPod Touch in quite a while.  I’ve seen a couple of comments claiming that the game is only worth “five minutes of fun”, but the reality is I don’t think I’ve ever played just one game in any given sitting, and I know I’ve gotten a lot more than five minutes of fun out of it.  The truth is that no matter how many times I’ve slipped down the slopes of island number one, it never gets old.  I may be singing a different tune in a few months, but the truth is there are almost no games that can hold my attention that long.  As for Tiny Wings, I’m confident my money was well spent.

Final Verdict: Highly Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Escape Rosecliff Island for iPhone

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

While so many hidden object games are trying to blur the line between themselves and the more traditional adventure game, some offerings like Escape Rosecliff Island are bucking the trend and delivering more traditional item seeking game play.  Sure there are still mini-games to play, and your ultimate goal is to collect a series of items that will help you get off the island, but a majority of your time will be spent doing what hidden object lovers enjoy most – finding those illusive concealed items.  As it turns out, there’s something to be said for the more simplistic form of yesteryear.

The Treehouse

The Treehouse

The basic idea of the game is that you’re trapped on an island and are trying to escape.  This plot summary mainly comes from the title, because there is no exposition to be found in this game.  I do wish there were a bit of narrative, but it hasn’t dulled my enjoyment of the game any.  The structure of the game is that each area has multiple scenes with hidden objects.  You find all the objects, complete a simple mini-game, and then you are awarded with an object that will help you escape the island.

Each scene has 2 locks in it.  If you collect 25 locks you’ll open up the ability to play all the match 3 mini-games separately from the main game.  If you collect 50 locks you’ll open up a free roaming seek and find mode.  Ironically, I’m not sure how necessary these modes are, as there’s already plenty of content with 25 objects to collect in order for you to get off the island.  Still, it’s nice to have the other options available, and the locks are usually among the easiest things to find in a given scene.

Match 3

Match 3

The controls are pretty standard.  You pinch or double tap to zoom in and out.  Swipe movements slide the screen around when it is zoomed in, and tapping on an object selects it (or not if it’s not the appropriate object).  Mini-game motions are dependent on the game, but usually involve some sort of tapping and swiping.  The game suffers from the same pitfalls as any other hidden object game, but really doesn’t handle them any better or worse than any other game.

One thing about Escape Rosecliff Island is that it is big on scoring.  You get points for each correct object you find and bonus points if you find multiple objects in rapid succession.  You also get points if you find all the objects in a level without using hints, and you get points for finding all the locks.  Conversely, you can lose points for making too many wrong guesses, and you also lose points every time you use a hint.  The levels are timed, but if you’re careful you can actually study the scene and avoid false taps without running out of time.

Clean The Keyboard

Clean The Keyboard

The visuals are very nice.  The backgrounds are well drawn, and for the most part objects are hidden without being so obtuse that you can’t find them without using a hint.  There are a few scenes that are a bit too dark in my opinion, and most times I end up using one hint in a scene because either an object blends in too well or I just don’t know what the object is, but overall the visuals are sharp and don’t impede game play.

The sound effects are decent enough, but it seems like the same set of sounds for every scene.  That means that the island is full of flies, there’s one ornery fly chasing you around, or they need to mix up the sound effects a bit more.  The music is actually pretty good, though I will say that I don’t really listen to it all that much except for times like this when I’m actually doing something besides playing the game while the game is still running.  In other words, the music sounds good but it almost blends into the background too well.

Pick Your Poison

Pick Your Poison

Escape Rosecliff Island does nothing out of the ordinary, and some might even say that it’s a step backwards in the evolutionary chain of hidden object games.  Personally, I find that refreshing every once in a while.  The scenes are challenging but not frustrating, the mini-games are a nice diversion but are simple enough that they don’t impede your progress, and there’s plenty of content to keep you busy until you’ve played your money’s worth.  I wouldn’t want every hidden object game to regress in this fashion, but as long as the ones that do are of this quality, I’ll take it every once in a while.

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Dark Woods for iPhone

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Back in December of 2009 I reviewed a game called Mystical Woods.  The game is no longer available, but in a way (a very big way, in fact) Dark Woods is the reimagining of that game.  The problem is that for all the improvements Dark Woods has made over its predecessor, it still lacks that certain something it needs to rise above the crowd and be a standout platforming adventure.  It looks better, sounds better and even controls better, but it is just too plain to be very interesting at this point.

These Woods Are Dark

These Woods Are Dark

You’re not presented with the story right away, and I’m not big on launching a story through the options screen, so I didn’t check it out.  However, I’d imagine it’s along the lines of the first game, where the forest has been overrun by evil and you have to thwart it.  The reality is the story really doesn’t matter, since it’s never expounded upon with cut scenes or anything.  All you really need to know is that you run through the forest, shoot everything that moves towards you (you can’t shoot what you’re not supposed to hit) and make it to the end of each level.

To control your character you have left and right buttons on the lower left side and jump and shoot buttons on the lower right side.  The controls seem a lot more responsive this time around, though there still are some issues mostly revolving around jumping and moving at the same time.  Collision detection is still an issue as well, mainly when dealing with the edge of platforms.  There are times where I can walk farther off a platform than I should be able to – which can cause problems trying to get to an area below it – and there are times where artificial barriers are too obvious.

Diamonds, Hearts... And A Mushroom?

Diamonds, Hearts... And A Mushroom?

The biggest problem, however, lies in level layout and variety.  The levels are pretty boring and linear.  There are a couple of hidden things and a few places that you have to backtrack to get to, but that’s about it.  Even platforms are no more advanced than moving up and down.  There are maybe half a dozen enemy types, and aside from the slightly aggressive bats, all of them just move back and forth in small areas, hoping you’ll eventually run into them.  I haven’t even encountered a boss fight yet, and I’m not sure that there are any.

The visuals are actually much better than the original.  The style is more consistent among all the designs, and the main character has some decent animation.  The backdrops are actually fairly detailed, and the ones when you get to the end are especially nifty.  The evil critters could still use some more movement, but Dark Woods was much more pleasant to look at than Mystical Woods.

A Slide

A Slide

One thing that originally attracted me to the series was the comparison to the old Sega game Castle Of Illusion, and that is most evident in the sound effects.  In fact, some of them sound very familiar (from what I can remember anyway).  The music is quite good, but that’s to be expected given the author is Kevin MacLeod.  I do appreciate the fact that BeanSprites chose some of his work that actually hasn’t appeared in 50 other iPhone games.

At the very end of the game I got a level that had disappearing platforms, and there was a final boss fight.  Sadly, this is too little too late.  I’m happy to see some marked improvements in the series, but it still has a long way to go before it becomes cream of the crop.  I hope BeanSprites continues to refine the Woods saga, but I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that the next iteration is a 100x better in quality, not just 10x like the difference between the first two.  Unfortunately, between the lackluster game play and the fact that the entire journey can be completed in about 15 minutes, I have to say…

Final Verdict: Not Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

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
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Knight’s Rush for iPhone

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

First MoreGames Entertainment proved that the flick mechanic could make for a fun and hectic castle defense game (it was the first game in that genre that I ever really got into).  Then they teased us by taking one of the beleaguered knights from the castle defense game and thrusting him in a fun side scrolling romp.  Now we get a full taste for the quest in Knight’s Rush, and it’s tasting pretty good.  Sure it might seem like mindless bashing and trashing, but there’s actually a lot more to it than that.  Besides, it looks good, it sounds good, and I quite enjoy it.

Don't Get Crabby

Don't Get Crabby

While the mechanics are the same, you get to choose between three different game play modes.  Campaign mode lets you tour 8 different worlds in an attempt to recover parts of the “ultimate artifact” and I suppose defeat some evil boss.  In Endless mode you can pick any of the worlds that you’ve beaten in Campaign mode and explore them, well, endlessly until you die.  Super Endless mode is a random mish-mash, picking backgrounds and characters from every level and combining them into a mode.  In general I’m not a fan of endless modes anyway, but the only redeeming factor to this one in my opinion is you get a sneak peak of creatures you might not have run across yet in Campaign mode.

In reality you get your choice of playing the knight, a barbarian or an archer (though I must say I don’t ever recall an archer wielding dual sickles before).  Unless you’re playing Super Endless mode you choose your “hero”, and then choose which world you’d like to play – any of the 8 when playing Campaign mode or any unlocked one in Endless mode.  Every world is comprised of several areas where you’ll fight off hordes of monsters, collecting experience, health potions, spells and coins.  Spells are “use ‘em or lose ‘em”, as you only have one spell slot and if you run over another spell your current one automatically gets replaced.  Don’t waste them, but don’t hoard them either.  Health obviously keeps you alive, and I’m not sure what the coins do yet.

I Got A Big Hammer

I Got A Big Hammer

When you earn enough experience you’ll go up a level, at which point you’ll get to give your character skills and perks.  Skills are things like additional strength and special moves.  Interestingly enough, Perks can also be special abilities, and also enhancements to your other abilities.  I’m not really sure what the true difference is between skills and perks, but I do know that while a good number of them stay the same between characters, there are some in each category that are different for each character type.  Also, each skill and perk has 5 levels, so there are plenty of different customization combinations to ensure that every game you play feels different.

Speaking of different, I’m amazed at all the different creatures that populate the land.  Unlike so many games where a different world means different colored versions of the same creatures, each world in Knight’s Rush has a lot of newness to offer.  That doesn’t mean things won’t overlap, but you never feel like you’re getting gypped in the bestiary department.  Sure you have your stock knights (both foot soldiers and the kind that ride horses), and your standard mages that cast spells.  But then you start getting more exotic things like walking plants that suck you towards them or vicious killer sand crabs.  Also, unless you’re playing Super Endless mode, the creatures fit quite well with the world themes they populate.

The Warehouse District

The Warehouse District

Graphically, this might be the best installment of the Knights series yet.  In some cases there are multiple scrolling background levels, but even if there’s just one background everything is finely detailed.  When you travel between different locales like a forest or desert you really feel like you’re in different places.  The character designs are quite well done and incredibly diverse, especially when it comes to non-humanoid type creatures.  As for the animation, it can tend to get a bit over the top at times.  I pretty sure when I’m done pounding a crate more wood has been thrown around than was originally used to build the crate!  I wouldn’t want it any other way, though, as it just adds to the charm of the visuals.

The audio is as diverse as the visuals.  Wooden equipment creaks as it rolls by.  Different projectiles make different noises as they wiz through the air.  In fact, pretty much everything makes a unique noise in this game.  It’s such a refreshing change of pace from the usual “one noise fits all” mentality for sound effects.  The music is quite epic when you sit and listen to it apart from the game, and makes for a nice backdrop while you’re playing.  The tune actually changes as you travel to different parts of the same world, though I’m not sure if there is separate music for each world or not.  Whatever the case, the audio and visuals does an incredible job of making the Knights world come to life.

Cannon Go Boom

Cannon Go Boom

Don’t let the hack ‘n slash exterior fool you.  There’s quite a game to be had here.  In depth character customization, a vibrant world and frantic game play all make for a compelling reason to play.  In the end, though, it’s all the little details that will suck you in and keep you coming back.  And, once you’ve completed the story mode Knights’ Rush can become your very own “endless running” game with Super Endless mode.  The game has plenty to offer, and is really quite a bargain for the price.

Final Verdict: Highly Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Air Supply 1bit Run for iPhone

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Now I know you may be thinking to yourself “hey, isn’t Air Supply a washed up 80s rock band?”  Well, that may be true, but it’s also the name of what is quickly becoming my favorite “run as long as you can” style game.  What’s amazing is that it’s not a whole lot different than many of the other top tier running games, though its main gimmick is quite interesting.  What this game really does to hook you in is present you with a whole lot of options that can only be unlocked by continually playing the game.  I know it’s got me trapped!

A Green Pirate Monkey

A Green Pirate Monkey

You start the game out as Sam, and your objective is simply to keep running, shooting everything evil that crosses your path.  You don’t control the running, so all you have to worry about it tapping to jump (tapping twice will double jump) and tapping somewhere else to shoot.  Ammunition is unlimited, though you only get one type of gun to play with.  On the other hand, what’s not unlimited is your air supply, hence the title of the game.  You start out with 8 units of air which slowly get used up.  Along the way you can pick up units of air, and if you’re real lucky you’ll get a tank that will fill up your air supply.  If you get hit by enemies or their weapons you’ll lose air as well.  When the supply is gone, so are you.

In addition to units of air you can also pick up shields, which will temporarily protect you from anything on the screen.  There are “slow down” items as well, though, they don’t really seem to do all that much.  Finally, there are stars that you can collect along the way.  Stars are important because they allow you to unlock additional characters to play with.  Collecting air, in addition to keeping you alive, will help you unlock different musical tracks.  The number of kills both increases your rank and unlocks various color schemes (and by “schemes” I mean changing from one basic color to another), and your mileage run will unlock different stages in the game.  This is the toughest one, because you have to put in a lot of distance to unlock new levels.

Orange You Glad It's A T-Rex?

Orange You Glad It's A T-Rex?

I’m not normally a fan of games that make such heavy use of unlockable items, but in this scenario it actually works quite nicely.  I will say, however, that it gets frustrating sometimes when I run through whole levels without ever seeing a star.  Also, there are times where it seems like I get hit even though it doesn’t look like I actually touched anything.  I assume it’s a collision problem, but it can still be annoying, especially when my air is low.  The next thing I’d like to see is the ability to switch options without going back to the main menu and pressing start.  That may not be possible, but if so it would be nice.  Finally, something explaining the differences between characters would be nice.  I can guess with the two I’ve got available so far, but seeing it spelled out is always a benefit.

The graphics in Air Supply are deliciously retro.  And I’m not talking about that garbage where people draw really poor graphics and call it “old school”.  It’s clear that a lot of effort was put into making the graphics look like they belong on a pre-NES console.  What it proves to me is that such graphics could actually look pretty cool!  I also love how everything is silhouettes and lines so that you can actually have a setting that changes the color.  Genius!  The only issue I’ve had so far is that the alien city theme, which is the first theme you unlock, is kind of hard on my eyes.  It still looks cool but it is just hard to stare at after a while.

UFOs Are Not Your Friend

UFOs Are Not Your Friend

The music is a bit more upscale, weighing in at roughly the NES era of consoles and computing.  As you collect air units you’ll be able to unlock different tracks, and so far every one (I have 4 available) has been enjoyable.  The sound effects also have a retro feel to them, which isn’t nearly as impressive, but with the cool music, who cares about the sound effects?

The bottom line is that this game rocks!  As it is I’ve become strangely drawn to this genre of game, but Air Supply has kicked my obsession to a new level.  I love the look, I love the music, and I love trying to unlock all the unlockables.  There are a few minor things I’d like to see get cleaned up as I mentioned previously, but those items in no way hamper my enjoyment of the game.  If you do not own this gem yet, go out and buy it now.  Long develop Quantum Sheep!

Final Verdict: Highly Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Clumsy Bob for iPhone

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

In a genre filled with petite characters and stick figures running for their lives, Bob dares to be different.  Bob dares to be big, Bob dares to bounce, Bob… is an elephant.  Clumsy Bob is a nice variant of the traditional distance running game.  The visuals are great, the sound is well done, and it’s actually rather addictive.  That is, of course, until it crashes.  It’s a shame, because this could be one of the great distance games, but I like my game to stay running until I decide it is time to shut it down.

Guess Who's Dinner?

In Clumsy Bob you play the eponymous Bob, a happy go lucky purple elephant that just loves to bounce on clouds.  The problem is that things just don’t seem to have a habit of going your way, and there are lots of opportunities for you to cease bouncing merrily along.  It’s your job to keep the cute little pachyderm’s dreams alive as long as possible.  To control Bob you simply tilt the device left and right.  While jumping or floating this will literally cause Bob to move left and right. When you’re flying the rocket, however, tilting left and right will cause the rocket to go up and down, respectively.

Along the way you’ll get plenty of aids to help keep you going.  Springs will launch you farther than a normal jump.  Umbrellas will cause you to float to a landing, which gives you better control and potentially allows you to travel farther than jumping as well.  The aforementioned rocket lets you travel really far, though you might have to dodge some oncoming missiles during your trip.  There are also coins you can collect to boost your score.

Better Than A Jet

Besides the counter-missiles, there are hungry rats just waiting to get a taste of Bob.  Who doesn’t love a rodent that can consume an entire elephant?  There are also snakes that will attempt to gobble you up, and clouds that disappear after one bounce.  And naturally you can simply plummet to your doom with a badly timed jump.  The worst offender, however, is the crashing problem.  The longest I’ve been able to play Clumsy Bob without crashing is 15 minutes, but after playing a few other games that time frame drops drastically to between 3 and 5 minutes.  Seeing as I can run Dead Space for an hour with no issues, I think the developers need to tweak things a bit.  This is on an iPod Touch 4G, by the way.

In addition to addictive game play, the game sports Crystal integration.  There are a number of achievements you can work towards, and of course there are the whole leader board and challenge aspects that go along with the Crystal experience.  I understand the need to use Crystal since this is a Clickgamer game, but either offer me another social solution as well or please finally get around to fixing the problem where I have to log in every time I want to use Crystal.

Floating Along

The graphics are great.  Everything is colorful and well animated, and I love watching the rat eat Bob (not that I don’t want to see Bob succeed, mind you). The backgrounds are also pretty nifty, especially the one that has all the sea creatures in it.  The sound effects are amusing, especially when it comes to the noises Bob makes.  Certainly not something you’d expect from an elephant.  The music sounds good and is very upbeat, which just enhances the frivolous mood the game emits.  Aesthetically the game is quite pleasing.

Clumsy Bob has all the ingredients of a great distance game, and in fact is a nice change of pace from the norm in this genre.  It also has a very inviting atmosphere.  Unfortunately, until they get the crashing problem fixed it’s really frustrating wondering when the game’s just going to dump out on you.  Please get this fixed soon guys!  Until then, I can’t outright recommend this game.

Final Verdict: On The Fence
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter

Quick Look: Blast Monkeys for iPhone

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

My review schedule is so backlogged that I don’t get much of an opportunity to cover free games, but every once in a while one comes along that I feel compelled to discuss anyway.  Blast Monkeys is one of those games.  I honestly wasn’t expecting much when I downloaded it, but it turns out that its main flaw is the fact that there aren’t enough levels!  I was instantly hooked, and now that I’ve beaten the 25 levels in the game I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do next.  Well, not really, but I would love to see more levels added to the game.

The basic premise is that you must fire a monkey head out of a cannon and try to get it into the goal on the level.  That’s all you HAVE to do, but there are three bananas you can collect as well.  Of course you’re only really cool if you get all three bananas on every level.  There are 25 levels altogether, and so far I have 73 bananas.  Sadly, I’m not sure I have the skills to get the remaining to.  Guess I still have something else to do in the game yet!

Level 25

To fire the cannon you simply tap it.  The only other time you can interact with the game is if your monkey gets trapped in a bubble.  When you want the monkey out of the bubble you simply tap the bubble to pop it.  Other obstacles include boards and pegs that slide and spin and mini-mazes.  There isn’t a lot of variety to the types of obstacles, but the levels are so well designed that it doesn’t matter.  For some reason when I play this game I’m reminded of Donkey Kong Country… but I digress.

So what are my complaints?  As I said at the beginning, the main thing is length.  As I’ve been writing this review I continued to play the game, and now I’ve managed to get the remaining two bananas. There’s no replay value to the game, so now I just have to move on.  The bubbles are a bit hard to tap and pop in a timely fashion.  Also, there is a reset button that appears on the cannon, but it doesn’t always appear and I’m not sure what triggers it.  That might as well show up right after you’ve launched your monkey and just stay there so you can reset a level at any time.  Of course, these are all minor things, but things to think about none the less.

Level 13

The graphics are simple but get the job done.  A bodiless monkey is a bit freaky at first, but you get used to it.  There are really no special effects to speak of, though a little pomp and circumstance when you’ve gotten the last banana would be cool.  The sound effects aren’t bad, and there’s some nice music playing in the background, but it’s clear that the focus of the game was actual game play, and not aesthetics.  As long as its not horrid to look at or listen to, that’s okay for a free game.

In the end what we have is an extremely fun puzzle game that ends way too abruptly.  With some more levels, additional obstacles, and a couple more monkeys (don’t need abilities, just different faces), this could be quite a contender.  As it is the game is still excellent for killing a few minutes until you finish it.  Even if the result ends up costing money, let’s hope the developer expands this into the product it should be.  This is one of the most entertaining puzzle games I’ve played in quite a while, and with the right polish I believe it could give some of the heavy hitters a run for their money.

Final Verdict: Highly Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link

Quick Looks link: [All About Quick Looks]


Copyright © 2011 Technobrains. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@www.technobrains.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Post to Twitter