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 Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels from Nintendo, Drift Mania Championship 2 from RatRod Studio, EscapeVektor from NNOOO and Hundreds from Semi Secret Software.
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!
SUPER MARIO BROS.: THE LOST LEVELS (3DS, eShop) by Lee Garbutt:
So let’s get the obvious intro out of the way. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is the original sequel to Super Mario Bros. and was released in Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2 in 1986 for the Disk System add-on for the Famicom (The Japanese version of the NES).
Designed as a challenging version of the original game, it was deemed too difficult for Western gamers, who instead received a modified version of Japanese title Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic, replacing the game’s original characters (mascots from a Japanese television network) with Mario and Co. The game finally surfaced in the West as part of the Super Mario All-Stars collection on SNES, albeit renamed as The Lost Levels, with new 16-bit graphics and minor gameplay alterations.
This 3DS Virtual Console version is the original Famicom Disk System version, identical to the version previously released for a limited time only on the European Wii Shop Channel as part of Nintendo’s regular Hanabi Festivals (wherein Japan-only titles were released as Virtual Console titles in Europe). Music and sound effects are identical to its predecessor, with slightly prettier backgrounds being the only change to the visuals.
The Lost Levels are truly for the masochistic Super Mario players out there, as it turns everything you know about the original game on its head, screwing you over at every turn. Within 30 seconds of playing the game, you’ll collect a mushroom only to find out that it’s poisonous and will kill you on the spot, while jumping certain gaps require pixel perfect mastery over Mario (or Luigi, who is selectable and jumps further than Mario, but is more difficult to control) with some levels featuring unavoidable wind currents that can make those jumps an absolute nightmare. If you’re used to the casual approach of modern day Nintendo game design, this game will surprise you. It will rip you to pieces.
It may not be as well designed as the original Super Mario Bros., but it’s a unique piece of Nintendo’s history and one that’s worth a look if you’ve never played it before. Expect to be humbled.
DRIFT MANIA CHAMPIONSHIP 2 by Martin Baker:
We’re no strangers to racing games here at GodisaGeek.com, we’ve even featured quite a number of them on Mobile Monday, and while the undisputed king of iOS racing titles is still the Real Racing series, there are a couple of games out there nipping at their heels. One such game is Drift Mania Championship 2, developed by RatRod Studio, a game where what you’re expected to do isn’t simply race around the track as quickly as possible but – as you may have guessed from the title – do so while gaining as many points as possible through drifting.
The whole point of the game is to drift as far as you can and for as long as you can without crashing into the edges of the track. As soon as the car starts to drift, the counter will start to count up and will keep going as long as the player doesn’t stop the drift or crash into the edges. If the player crashes into the edges of the track then they will lose any points that they have accumulated in that particular drift or combo, but if they just stop the drift without crashing then they will bank the points and they will be added to their overall point count.
If you’ve ever played MotorStorm RC on the PlayStation Vita/PlayStation 3, specifically the ‘Drift’ levels where the main point is to gain as many points as you can through drifting for as long as possible, then you’ll know how Drift Mania Championship 2 plays out; the only big different being that you’re looking from behind the car instead of above it. There’s a big emphasis on controlling how fast you’re going in Drift Mania Championship 2, and if you don’t control it quite specifically you could easily find yourself smashing into the edges of the track and losing all those points you’ve been working so hard to keep; possibly even losing your medal position in the process.
When it comes to the controls of the game, you’re going to be using the accelerometer in your iOS device more than you ever have done before. Firstly, when you start each of the races, you’re going to have to place your thumb on the speed gauge at the right hand side of the screen (this is where the speed of your car is determined), then, once you’ve set a speed, drive through the game as you would in any other iOS racing game. Drift Mania Championship 2 starts feeling different when you realise that you have to throw the cars into the corners to get them to start drifting, then you have to physically fight with the in-game physics to keep the car moving in the direction you want without losing control. Correct the positioning too much and you’ll find yourself losing those precious points, which is not something that you’re going to want.
If you’re a fan of drifting in your racing games then you’re going to love Drift Mania Championship 2. The controls can be a little bit temperamental, and it does feel a little too difficult at times, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of challenge. The only real downside is that you’ll often find yourself grinding the same track over and over again in order to unlock new tracks, but if that’s something that appeals to you then go for it, there’s nothing to lose.
ESCAPEVEKTOR (3DS, eShop) by Jonny Lewis:
From Syndey-based developer NNOOO comes arcade puzzler escapeVektor, a game which first saw life on the Wii via Wiiware back in September. That version was released to much critical acclaim, so NNOOO have seen fit to bring escapeVektor to a mobile audience. In escapeVektor, you control a chap named Vektor who has been trapped inside a CPU, and who needs your help to escape the CPU using abilities you unlock as the game progresses. Vektor buzzes along a grid of highways in each level, converting them as he goes, needing to convert the whole level in order to escape and move onto the next level (or node as they are known in-game).
The game is fantastic to look at, super slick, super stylish, and definitely succeeds in the looks department. Its minimalist approach feels right at home on the 3DS’s little screen, with the 3D effects used well to add depth to the nodes. Speaking of nodes: there are 150 of them, so this is a game that will take a fair wedge of time to get through and, when you do, you’ll want to go back and achieve those high scores and grab all the medals on offer.
The difficulty curve is a steady one, introducing new gameplay elements at a comfortable rate, explaining things as you go. Some intelligent enemies, awesome unlockable abilities and bags of replayability are a real treat, and I really enjoyed my time with escapeVektor. Things get tricky in the later nodes and zones, but never so overwhelming that you get frustrated, which makes the game all the more addictive.
So should you pick up escapeVektor? The answer is a resounding yes, NNOOO have come up with the best 3DS eShop title yet in my opinion. Addictive, gorgeous, superbly-balanced and fun, escapeVektor is a wonderful surprise.
HUNDREDS by Adam Cook:
App Store runner gamers are a dime a dozen nowadays, but when they were first becoming popular, a title called Canabalt was at the forefront, showing everyone else that there was money to be made whilst keeping an interesting aesthetic in the process. Years have passed and the developer has now released a title called Hundreds, which couldn’t be more different and yet retains the simplicity that made Canabalt so accessible and popular to being with.
Just like the very best of the App Store, all you’ll have to do is touch the screen – there are no gimmicky controls here. Indeed, the first level, which tasks you with holding a finger on a bubble that counts up to 100 as it grows in size, is all the tutorial you need. You’ll immediately get the gist of the game and be on level 20 before you know it. The task at hand is to get to 100 by placing your finger(s) – multi touch is needed on several occasions – on the bubbles to raise then from 0 to the highest you can get, before trying the same with another bubble, the goal to reach 100.
Along the way, new puzzle mechanics are introduced, like the requirement to hold two bubbles at once to raise their score together, or a buzz saw blade that, on impact, cuts your score back to 0 on any given bubble. But there’s more, as at certain intervals a cipher puzzle is unlocked – a random assortment of letters that need to be analysed and understood in order to unlock their message. Accessible after first sight by touching the circle on the main menu, these are tricky brain teasers that require knowledge or research of the different kind of ciphers that exist.
Even without these additional puzzles, the action is tense and will need dexterous fingers and a deft touch to complete. Some of the later levels are fiendishly difficulty, requiring minute touches to raise the bubbles by almost one at a time.
Hundreds is one of those games that reminds you that SmartPhone gaming can be great, because simplicity is once again at the core of the tricky yet rewarding gameplay. An ethereal soundtrack populates proceedings and the Ciphers will require research and dedication to solve. Don’t be put off by the price, Hundreds is a game that will suck you in deep and spit you out the other side a happier iOS player.