Mobile Monday – Einstein’s Brain Trainer, Superman, SteamBirds Survival HD, Ray Marching

by on November 21, 2011
 

As regular readers know I was on my honeymoon last week so our very own UK Editor, Mr. Adam Cook, stepped into the Mobile Monday shoes for a week and reviewed some absolute gems (I hope you downloaded Scribblenauts Remix, I know I did). Well I’m back this week and I hope that these games will keep you entertained for another week. Firstly we’ve got a brain training game similar to those that you’ve probably played on the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS, Einstein Brain Trainer. Secondly we’ve got one of the first Superman iOS games, before the inevitable influx of movie tie-in iOS games. Next there’s an amazing little turn-based free-to-play title in the form of SteamBirds Survival HD and lastly we’ve got another puzzle game for your perusal in Ray Marching.

That should keep you going for another week so go, be merry and play some games!

Titles are available on iPhone and iPad unless specifically stated otherwise. If you like what you read, click the small black “App Store” button to load iTunes up and purchase the title!

Einstein Brain Trainer - IconEINSTEIN BRAIN TRAINER:

If you’ve got a Nintendo DS, or even used one for a fraction of a second, then you’re probably well aware that the genre of brain training games is quite popular on the handheld device. Given that popularity, there hasn’t been a steady flow of the games on some of the most popular of handheld devices on the market at the moment; the iDevices. Seeing that there was an obvious gap in the market the guys over at BBG Entertainment have come up with Einstein Brain Trainer, a daily brain training game for the iPhone and iPad. Now you’ve got no excuse at all for not doing your daily brain training.

The gameplay in Einstein Brain Trainer is just as you would expect from a brain training game, if you’ve ever played any of the games that are available on the Nintendo DS or the Nintendo Wii then you know what you’re in for. The main meat of the game comes from the daily challenges, in these you’re given four random tests out of a pool of those available and tested on how quickly, as well as how accurately, you are able to perform the tests. Once you’ve finished all the tests you’ve been given, you’ll be able to see how well you did as well as getting a nice little stamp for your daily challenge calendar.

Einstein Brain Trainer - Screenshot

You don’t have to be taking part in one of the daily tests in order to play some of the games that are on offer, players can jump into any game they wish simply by tapping in Robo, Einstein’s helpful robotic sidekick, this will open up a menu where the player can choose to exercise their brain or simply pick one of their favourites to pass the time. While players are able to choose whichever game they want the main purpose of the game is still the daily brain challenge and therefore this is the most polished aspect of the game.

The sounds and visuals are also quite good throughout the game, they’re nothing special and if you’re running an older model of iPhone or the first generation of iPad, they will cause some problems as they seems to slow down the whole game to a point where the player will often find the game crashing while it’s loading. Once the game loads however, the visuals and the sounds on offer are appealing and keep the player coming back for more. There was me thinking that people couldn’t possibly make Einstein look any more strange.

If you’re a fan of the brain training games and you own either an iPhone or an iPad, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pick up Einstein Brain Trainer. The game is prone to crashes on older devices and can be a little slow paced in places but when you do get into the games they’re all fun to play and being able to track your progress through the days is a good little ego boost. A perfect way to start the day, with a little bit of a mental challenge. Einstein™ Brain Trainer HD - BBG Entertainment GmbH

Superman - IconSUPERMAN:

If you’re a fan of the capes and cowls then you’re going to need absolutely no introduction as to who exactly Superman is. The Man of Steel has had no shortage of video games over the last couple of years, even appearing in some that had nothing to do with him, but he’s never appeared on the iOS format; until now. Simply named Superman, the iOS game is a side-scrolling action game from Tiger Games that fills the vacuum that any superhero game on the device would fill. With a new Superman movie in the works there’s little doubt in my mind that we’re going to see a lot more video games about a certain Kryptonian man, but let’s see what the first one to hit has in store for us.

In Superman you will be given various tasks to perform in order to complete the level, the player will get more points based on how quickly they can perform certain tasks, which range from putting out fire with your breath to stopping runaway criminals. There are three medals that can be achieved through completing the levels, bronze, silver and gold, with each of them being progressively more difficult to attain, adding to the replay value for those players who like to fully 100% a level before they move on to the next.

Superman - Screenshot

As has become customary when it comes to iOS games, each of the levels (of which there are 18) are divided up into their own separate sections and players will be able to come back to any one of them they please at a later date, whether they want to increase their score or just replay the game again because it was fun, it’s easy enough to do. If you’ve played just about in puzzle game on the iOS since Angry Birds you’ll be familiar with the level selection process. It’s a little strange to see it in a game that’s action driven instead of a puzzle game but it’s a welcome and familiar addition.

One of the first things players will notice when they start the game for the first time is that the only way to control Superman is by using the on-screen buttons and analog stick, while this is something most players, including myself, normally can’t stand in an iOS game, it doesn’t feel quite so bad here. The controls are just about forgiving enough to make the game playable, most people will still wish they could play the game using a good old fashioned controller but if this is what we’ve got to put up with in the iOS gaming world then there have been a lot worse examples of its implementation.

If you’re a comic book fan, or just want to play a Superman game before the massive inevitable influx of games that will be coming when the upcoming film is released then you could do a lot worse than Superman. The controls are a little bit off-putting and the artwork isn’t really what we’ve come to expect from something that has the Superman brand attached to it, but the gameplay is good and it’s accessible to a wide range of people. You’re not going to play the game for hours on end but for 10 or 20 minutes at a time you could do a lot worse. Superman - Chillingo Ltd

SteamBirds Survival HD - IconSTEAMBIRDS SURVIVAL HD:

Since the advent of video games a lot of board games have taken a back seat, the turn based nature of them seemingly lost in time with video games favouring a more real time aspect to them. That is until Spry Fox and Halfbrick came out with SteamBirds Survival HD, a turn-based warplane game for the iDevice of your choosing, where the sole purpose is to perform whichever wartime task you’re given in order to collect copper to help the war effort. This is done by tactically deciding what your next turn is going to entail, are you going to unleash your reinforcements? Drop a bomb? Or maybe just turn tail and run? The choice is yours.

The gameplay revolves around surviving waves of enemies while performing certain tasks that will be given to you. These tasks may include destroying certain types of aircrafts, surviving a certain number of waves amongst other things. Once the player has done whatever they need to do in a certain level they will be given the choice of either going back to the main menu and moving onto the next level or continuing with the level you’re currently playing in order to obtain more and more copper; the currency of the game.

SteamBirds Survival HD - Screenshot

The overall objective of the game is to unlock and complete all of the cities in the game, in order to complete a city a number of start must be attained, these stars are gained through completing each of the stages within the cities. Once all the stars have been obtained the player is free to move onto the next city and repeat the entire process all over again. While the gameplay itself is refreshing, especially the turn-based nature of it, the fact that the player must perform the same actions over and over again does means that it gets a little repetitive after long periods of time.

One of the most impressive aspects of SteamBirds Survival HD is the visual side of the product. Everything is displayed in a 2D, top-down, perspective and all of the sprites are extremely detailed which adds to the overall quality of the game. On top of the sprites themselves being crisp and clean, the motions that the sprites make during play is also very fluid and well executed. The sound of the game isn’t offered the same quality as the visuals however and some of the sounds effects that are used throughout the game can get a little insufferable after extended plays. Again, this isn’t really a problem if the game is played for short periods of time, as mobile games tend to be, but something that people should at least be aware of.

SteamBirds Survival HD is a game that everyone should be playing, not only does it have excellent gameplay but it is presented in a way that is visually appealing and should make everyone who even had a passing glance stop and take a closer look. There are some flaws with the game, but what game doesn’t have a few flaws? At least the ones present here are easy enough to overlook when they’re surrounded by so many things that are simply done right. Oh, and the game’s free to play; what could be better than that? Steambirds Survival HD - Spry Fox, LLC

9outof10

Ray Marching - IconRAY MARCHING:

There are many puzzle games on the App Store, some of them are well known, popular and often in the top spot of the gaming charts and some of them, through no fault of their own, are often left by the wayside, constantly trying to claim users. Some of those games are quite impressive little puzzlers that often go without being played by the masses. Ray Marching, developed by Macro Graph is one of those games.

The gameplay in Ray Marching involves having the player destroy all of the targets within a given level with the limited amount of rays that they have. Each targets takes five rays to destroy and the puzzle element lies in trying to figure out exactly how to destroy all of the targets without running our of pieces of ray whilst also completing the level within the given time limit. Some levels, thankfully, don’t have a time limit but these are usually the more difficult of the levels and the lack of a time limit is only to give the player a chance to figure everything out. In this sense the lack of a time limit lures the player into a false sense of security.

Ray Marching - Screenshot

Later levels are even more difficult, requiring the player to bounce the little pieces of sunlight around corners using mirrors and forcing the player to decide the order in which the targets should be destroyed. Choose the wrong order and the level can no longer be completed. These levels make the player stop and think for a little while before they react and, while the levels aren’t too difficult once a little bit of thought has been applied, they are all entertaining.

One of the most disappointing aspects of Ray Marching is the visuals, none of the sprites used at any point during the game are sharp or eye catching, the addictive nature of the gameplay makes up for the low quality graphics but it would have been nice to see crisp sprites and visually pleasing animations. Even the sounds that are used throughout the game don’t help to make Ray Marching any more impressive; all of the sounds used are very simple and don’t add much to the game at all, playing the game without any sounds at all doesn’t hurt your enjoyment.

Ray Marching is a very entertaining little puzzle game that happens to be wrapped in a packaging that isn’t very pleasing to the eyes. Nevertheless the gameplay more than makes up for any failings and players will find themselves addicted to destroying targets in the quickest, most efficient way possible. Getting three stars on each of the levels is no easy task but I imagine quite a lot of people will spend quite a substantial amount of time attempting it. Ray Marching - Macrograph

8outof10