Like day follows night, Monday must come after Sunday, which means it is time for Mobile Monday, your weekly look at four games you can play on the go, whether it’s iOS, Android or, occasionally, on PlayStation Vita or Nintendo 3DS.
This week we have some exciting games you need to be involved with, including New Star Soccer, which will cause multiple recharges of battery, as well as Chillingo’s latest title, The Act. Not to forget Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing and…Ninja Factor, a challenging little game that mixes Fruit Ninja with factor based math puzzles!
Since Martin has a catchphrase, I better have one too…though on second thoughts, it’d probably be too rude, so just go play some of these fantastic games, then come back and tell us what you thought.
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!
NEW STAR SOCCER:
The last time a game grasped me by its addictive little claws as heavily as New Star Soccer, I was left talking about Tiny Tower for weeks on end on our flagship podcast, The Godcast. It’s with that in mind that caution must be observed when reading the following text, as this is another classic iOS title, a real battery draining monster of a title.
I don’t really like the idea of Football games on iOS, save for arcade titles like Flick Kick Soccer, because I just don’t feel that on-screen controls work. Indeed, much like my colleague Mr Martin Baker, they are the bane of my iOS loving existence. Thankfully though, New Star Soccer dispenses with that kind of action, instead relying on a simulation gameplay model. You see, you pick a name for your footballer – I can’t share mine, it’s too rude – and you start out in the conference, with the goal of becoming a superstar very much on the itinerary.
How is this achieved? Put simply, there are in-game micro-transactions available (though you can also use real money) which allow you to buy energy drinks or upgrade your social life – mobile phones, clothes, etc – and combined with interactions with the manager, the team and the fans, these all improve your star rating. However, it’s not just about playing a role, you actually get to act out moments in matches with touch controls. Be it attempted interceptions, free kicks, passes or shots, you will get numerous chances in a match – depending on how much effort you put in, controlled with one of three buttons – to get a higher rating per game, or even a goal bonus. All of the skills used in the matches are upgradeable too, via training exercises, which not only upgrade your skills but are in a very real sense training exercises for your fingers.
Put simply, the career mode is one of the most addictive things I’ve ever played on an iOS device. Like many others, I found myself waking in the morning and wondering if I could fit a few more matches in before I had to set about my day – pro tip: you can’t, don’t try – and then eventually having “one more go” before bed.
New Star Soccer doesn’t really even require too much knowledge of the beautiful game itself, as it is an arcade based take on Football, for the most part. It really can’t be over-estimated how brilliant New Star Soccer is, and considering you can try the first 10 matches of career mode free – then upgrade to the full version is a measly 69p – you have absolutely no excuse not to get downloading this right now. Make no mistake, this is a phenomenal title.
SONIC & SEGA ALL-STAR RACING:
Making the transition from a fully fledged console release, to a mobile device only ever really results in one of two outcomes. You may get a stellar port of an already decent game, or you may end up with a horrendous mess of garbled controls. Thankfully, SUMO Digital are an excellent developer and have lavished plenty of love and care onto the iOS release of the funtastic Kart-Racer, Sonic & SEGA All-Star Racing.
If you were a fan of the previous incarnation of the title – released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and plenty of other consoles – then you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself into; a simple, nay traditional, kart racer. Standard fare really, but just in case you’ve never played one of these games, let’s get the basics out of the way. You’ll control either Sonic or one of the All-Stars (Tails, etc) and jump behind the wheel of a kart, racing around in competitive tournaments (with the other A.I.) and grabbing floating pick-ups to savage the enemy and gain an advantage.
But what about the lack of control pad, I hear literally everyone ask? Well, this iOS version has two control methods, to cater for most users. First up you can use tilt to steer your kart, with on-screen buttons for breaking, sliding or using power-ups. You see, whichever control method you choose, the game has changed for iOS, meaning acceleration is done for you. With the aforementioned first control method, this makes sense, but the second method offers a small joystick on the bottom left of the screen, allowing you to steer left and right, in a more traditional sense.
It’s an odd decision to remove acceleration controls from the user, but it works well and makes this incarnation of Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing an even more accessible one. At the time of writing, the game is actually free, so it’d be foolish not to give it a go. Plenty of options, achievements and local or online multiplayer, this falls into the category of superb conversions; definitely worth a go.
In casual conversation, you’d be forgiven for accusing the iTunes store of offering a lot of repetition. Indeed, here in Mobile Monday we’ve reviewed titles that are startlingly similar to other titles we’ve also taken a look at; and I’m sure you don’t need reminding of the Tiny Tower/Dream Heights saga. However, with The Act, Chillingo are offering something I’ve personally not experienced on iOS before, a sort of interactive movie experience, but does it actually work?
Comically, the answer is both yes and no. Stunningly rendered visuals really impress, as do the lovingly created characters that express real emotion, albeit in an over the top comic fashion. You see, what you’re watching is nothing short of a cartoon on your iDevice, one which you have a say in how the story plays out.
Poor Edgar is a – seemingly – bullied window cleaner, with a dim-witted sidekick who wants nothing more to sleep. On a presumably routine job, cleaning a hospital’s windows, he spots a nurse and falls instantly in love, as you do. The crux of the story is that you have to help Edgar get together with the love of his life, by choosing how he acts in various circumstances.
The Act is controlled entirely with two motions, swipe to the right, or swipe to the left. On the initial playthrough you’ll definitely find yourself frustrated with moments that you just don’t seem to be able to telegraph. You see, right or left is never “good or bad”, it usually is one kind of action, or another. Swipe right once and Edgar may cheekily smile at the girl, swipe right again and he’s making kissy faces, which is a step too far and you’ll achieve the fail state, which causes the game to rewind and offer you another chance.
Body language is the key, but it quickly amounts to trial and error gameplay because you can’t always tell what The Act wants you to do. As you progress through the short (and it is pretty short indeed, we’re talking half an hour here) experience, the body language becomes harder to read and you’ll fail a hell of a lot, causing yet more frustration.
There’s genuinely enough here to warrant more excursions in this genre, the art style alone is magnificent, but the frustrating gameplay means that it’s hard to recommend unconditionally. It’s a charming story, no question, but The Act ‘s actual gameplay sadly leaves a lot to be desired. Here’s hoping there’s a second attempt made though, as it’s wonderful to see developers taking risks on the mobile platform.
NINJA FACTOR by Martin Baker:
You can pretty much guarantee that anything with the word ‘Ninja’ in the title will make the gaming community sit up and take notice. It’s one of those internet buzzwords that will almost always get a reaction from the vast majority of people. Ninja Factor is a game – developed by Chipotlelabs – that’s an interesting mix between Fruit Ninja and some kind of math puzzler that will test your reflexes as well as your ability to work quickly with numbers. It’s not an easy game to pick up and play, and definitely one that isn’t easy to sell based on the game’s concept alone, but it’s one that’s at least worth a shot.
If you’ve played Fruit Ninja before then you know what type of gameplay you’re getting yourself into when you boot up Ninja Factor for the first time. There are a couple of modes that you’ll be playing, ‘Classic’ and ‘Crazy’. The ‘Classic’ game mode is where you’ll be spending most of your time and you’ll have three lives to get as many points as you possibly can. You’re given a number at the top of the screen and your task is to swipe across all of the number that can be factored into that central number. For example, if you’re given an 8, you could swipe across 0, 4 and 8, if you’re given a 6 you could go for 0, 3 or 6 and so on. While it may sound difficult at first, once you get into the swing of things you’ll be swiping numbers left, right and centre like a pro too.
‘Crazy’ mode is essentially the same thing as the ‘Classic’ mode except instead of having three lives with which to attain as many points as you can, you’re given a time limit instead. The more numbers you manage to correctly swipe through in the time limit you’re given, the more points you’ll get when the time runs out. ‘Classic’ is the game mode that people would more likely play on a more regular basis, but ‘Crazy’ mode gives the player a greater sense of urgency and therefore increases the enjoyment, if you’re into playing games against a clock of course.
The controls of Ninja Factor are easy enough to get to grips with, all the player has to do is swipe across the screen across the number that you’re choosing. This simple motion is all that’s required from the player, meaning that all you’re going to need in order to play the game is a single finger. If you’re capable of moving and thinking fast enough to get the numbers correct then you’re not going to have a problem with the controls. This simplicity lowers the barrier to entry and ensures that anyone who could want to play Ninja Factor, can do so. A good move on the part of the developers for sure.
If you’re a fan of Fruit Ninja, or even the many copies of the game that’s appeared on the iOS App Store over the past couple of years, then you’re undoubtedly going to fall in love with Ninja Factor, especially if you’ve been on the lookout for something that requires a little bit more brain power to get a decent score on. It would have been nice to have a couple more math based problems built into the game but the game does have ‘Factor’ in its title so it’s not really surprising that finding the factors of certain numbers is the only thing that you’re able to do. Buy it, check it out and have some fun; I’m sure you will.