You know what day it is? It’s Monday again and that can mean only one thing here at GodisaGeek: It’s time for another edition of Mobile Monday, the article where we take a look at four mobile games and let you know if they’re worth your time and money.
This week we’re taking a look at The Great Jitters: Panic Ride from kunst-stoff, Potshot Pirates from IT Art Team, Epic Adventures: Cursed Onboard from G5 Entertainment and Storm the Train from Games Faction.
Read on to find the full reviews of each game, but don’t forget to come back next week for more Mobile Monday reviews. While you’re here, if you have played any of the games listed, or even just want to come back once you’ve had a go to let us know how you got on, we’d love to hear from you in the comment box at the bottom of the page.
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!
THE GREAT JITTERS: PANIC RIDE:
There was quite a long period on the iOS App Store when infinite runners that tasked the player with running as far as they can to the right hand side of the screen were the norm – it seemed you couldn’t throw a metaphorical rock into the App Store without hitting one. While that time may have passed, it now seems to be the turn of another type of infinite runner to have its moment in the sun; running from the bottom to the top. 3D! It all started with titles such as Temple Run, and since then we’ve had Pitfall from Activision and the classic Subway Surfers. So what can The Great Jitters: Panic Ride, developed by Kunst-stoff, bring to the table that those other games didn’t? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.
Panic Ride is part of a series of planned games which follow the moulded jelly (or jell-o, for all you Colonists) main character. Panic Ride tasks our unlikely hero with getting as far as he can on the titular rollercoaster. Along the path of the rollercoaster you will come across many enemies based around the basic horror theme – skeletons, witches, etc. – and you’re to either defeat them with any of the weapons you’ve hopefully picked up, or just avoid them totally by steering onto the other available rails. What you choose to do will depend on the weapons you have available, if any (they’re very limited), and whether your reflexes are quick enough to move onto the safer rails. This is where your skill will come into it.
The weapons you’ll be using against the enemies – usually consisting of spring loaded snakes that you’d find in joke shops – are found on the rails of the Panic Ride and it’s up to the player to steer into them and pick them up. Be warned, travelling quickly without any form of defence is one of the quickest ways to the game over screen. That being said, the player must constantly decide if picking up a weapon is even worth it as there may be an enemy on the rail you want that’s going to force you to use the weapon against them as soon as you’ve picked it up, leaving you in the same position you were before but you risked death to get there. It’s these constant small decisions that keep you on your toes, and keep you playing.
The controls are another aspect of the game that makes The Great Jitters: Panic Ride different from most infinite runners. Instead of swiping left and right on the screen you’re tasked with tilting your device left or right to make the main character switch rails depending on which way he’s leaning. This control method is difficult to get used to at first but once you do you’ll be racking up those high scores like a pro, and loving every second of it.
The Great Jitters: Panic Ride isn’t the best infinite runner out there – it isn’t even the best looking – but there has been a lot of heart and soul poured into the development of the title and, in a world where companies tend to churn out games for a quick buck, that has to be commended. The control scheme might turn people off to begin with but if you just stick with it, learn it and master it, it’s extremely rewarding when you beat your high score. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.
Over the past couple of years, since the release of the very first Angry Birds, we’ve seen plenty of games hit the iOS App Store that emulate the same style of gameplay, usually adding little to nothing to the actual mechanics and usually only going as far as to change the titular birds to something else so as to avoid getting sued. Potshot Pirates, developed by IT Art Team, takes the same base mechanic as Angry Birds – in the sense that you’re knocking down structures to defeat what’s inside – but changes things so much that you couldn’t even call it a clone anymore. What does it add? The third dimension.
Angry Birds is famous for its 2D art style (the entire game is even based on the hugely popular Box2D engine), but Potshot Pirates takes what we all know and love and adds an extra dimension. Literally. When you start each level you’ll be tasked with destroying a structure. You’ll have a set amount of cannonballs with which to perform your mayhem and the fewer cannonballs you use to destroy all of your enemies, the more points you’ll receive when the level ends. It’s all very simple but that just adds to the game’s charm and its addictive nature. This is a game where the old sentiment of “just one more level” really takes a hold of you.
While every level asks the player to perform the same action, each will require a totally different solution. Due to the fact that players are going to want to achieve the biggest score, and doing so will require them to complete the level in the fewest number of shots, players will be constantly looking for that one structurally weak point that will cause the whole thing to fall to the ground. Then again, if that doesn’t work, you could always use your coins to perform the special moves, including summoning the mighty Kraken, and take the entire thing down in one fell swoop, no questions asked.
The controls in Potshot Pirates couldn’t be easier. All the player is required to do is swipe across the screen to move their pirate ship from left to right – the further from the point at which you touch the screen your finger moves, the faster the ship will move – and tap a small cannonball button in the bottom right corner twice, the first time to look down the scope of the cannon (yeah, I didn’t think they had scopes either) and the second to fire the cannon at the targeted area. These simple controls remove the barrier to entry but don’t expect to play the game on an iPod Touch; devices without a digital compass can’t even install the game.
Potshot Pirates is an amazingly fun game, and one that takes the core mechanics of Angry Birds and pleasantly turns them on their head, making a game that’s fun and vastly different in the process. The controls are simple enough that anyone could pick up the game and start playing, even if they’ve never played a game before, and the art style is a great combination of lovingly crafted 3D models and cartoon fun. The only real downside to is that it can’t be installed on all of the available iOS devices, but if you’re lucky enough to have an iPhone with a built-in digital compass then this is a game you’ll have a great deal of fun with.
EPIC ADVENTURES: CURSED ONBOARD:
There’s something strangely addictive and relaxing about games that task you with finding specific objects in a scene. Perhaps it’s because I grew up with Spot the Difference and Word Search puzzles, and these games use more or less the same skill set; or maybe it’s just because finding the objects will lead to another part of the story, another piece of the puzzle, and I’m a sucker for continuing a story. G5 Games seem to be the current masters of this type of game, having put out quite a few of them to date, and this latest game, Epic Adventures: Cursed Onboard, looks set to continue their reign. But how good is it?
Cursed Onboard is primarily a story-driven game, just as any good adventure game should be, and most of the gameplay is concentrated in finding items that will let you move further into the game – such as keys that will open certain doors – and the search puzzles (which I’ll get onto in due course). The story in Cursed Onboard follows the story of the La Jangada, the ship from the last game in the Epic Adventures series, which mysteriously went missing in the 70s. Everyone who has tried to investigate the disappearance has found themselves meeting a sticky end and you’re the latest in a long line of would-be Sherlocks determined to find the answers.
The search puzzles are the main crux of the gameplay and the areas of the game that you find yourself in most often. During these sections you’re given a list of items that you need to find in order to progress and, once you find all of them, you’re allowed back to the main part of the game to continue your story. A lot of the items are relatively easy to find, sticking out like a sore thumb, but there are others which will take some time. Thankfully, there’s a ‘Hint’ button that will show you the location of one item at a time, though you’ll have to wait for it to cool down after each use before it will work again. Within each of the search puzzles there’s usually one story piece that will go into your inventory and allow you to solve a puzzle, so they’re important to do as well as fun.
As with any adventure game on an iOS device, the controls are extremely simple to grasp, only requiring the player to tap the objects that they want to interact with. The most difficult control you’ll come across is learning how to use an object with another object from your inventory but that only requires an extra tap so it’s not going to take long even for a novice gamer. The biggest difficulty in terms of playing the game comes from the fact that objects you can interact with sparkle for a short period of time, however, if you miss this short sparkling period you could be left wondering what you’re supposed to be doing and what you should be interacting with. It’s not a major problem, but just remember to keep your eyes peeled when you move to another area of the game.
It’s the story in Epic Adventures: Cursed Onboard that will keep you playing more than anything else. The gameplay is perfectly fine but you’ll soon find yourself needing to know what happened to the La Jangada so much that you won’t be able to put the game down. Adventure fans can play the game without hints for that “pure” feeling and people that have never picked up this genre of game before will find plenty of hand-holding to ease them along the path. It’s all optional though, and choice is never a bad thing. If you’ve been following the Epic Adventures story then you’ve probably already downloaded and played Cursed Onboard, but if you’re a newcomer to the series then why not jump onboard? You probably won’t get cursed that much.
STORM THE TRAIN:
We don’t get too many side-scrolling action games on the iOS App Store, maybe because they have no choice but to use on screen analog sticks and we all know how well that goes down with the community at large. Maybe it’s just that there haven’t been that many good ones, so few people are actually talking about them. Whatever the reason, Games Faction are hoping to put a stop to it all with their new side-scrolling platformer Storm the Train, and you know what? It’s actually rather good; even with on-screen analog sticks.
The gameplay in Storm the Train tasks you with selecting a character from a choice of three, then making your way through a series of themed train carriages killing all of the enemies that come towards you in an attempt to get further and further along the train. The longer you survive, and thus the further along the train you get, the more points you’ll get at the end of your turn. More points mean more upgrades are unlocked and the more coins you collect during your turn means that you’ll actually be able to purchase them. It’s almost like an infinite runner, except that instead of infinitely running from left to eight, you’re infinitely slaughtering your way there, as quickly or as slowly as you want.
The most impressive aspect of the game, at least for me, are the boss fights. At the end of some of the trains, in a seemingly random order, a boss will appear that you’ll have to take down before you can progress onto the next carriage. These bosses are impressive because they actually require some skill to take down and while you’re playing it you’ll get a distinctive retro vibe. If you die during these boss fights it’s simply because you’re not good enough, not because of anything the game did. You really do get a sense of achievement when you see the boss go down, spurting coins everywhere as he does.
As I mentioned previously, the controls are all on-screen analog sticks and buttons but that doesn’t take anything away from the game; the developers have managed to work their magic in such a way that the controls in Storm the Train are actually surprisingly responsive – something that’s required in a game of this genre. Not only that, but if you don’t like the positioning of the analog sticks you can change where they’re located in the options menu. Nice bit of forethought there. Storm the Train isn’t a game for the faint of heart – it’s not easy and relies on old-school game mechanics that a lot of us grew up on, and so novice gamers may find it too difficult. For the vast majority of iOS gamers, however, the challenge will be one of the biggest draws.
Storm the Train is a wonderfully addictive, gorgeously-presented side scrolling action platformer that rewards players every time they turn it on. There’s a massive thrill to beating your own distance through the train, or even your friends’ time, and then there’s the coin-collecting, the purchasing of upgrades and many more features to keep you coming back time and time again. It’s easy to recommend Storm the Train to any iOS gamer, especially if they grew up playing some of the classic side-scrolling games. I better be off for now though – that train isn’t going to storm itself!