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 Build-A-Lot 4: Power Source from Hipsoft, Revolve from Piñata Games, Nitro Chimp from C2 Game Studio and Man in a Maze from SmallGreenHill.
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!
BUILD-A-LOT 4: POWER SOURCE:
With SimCity just around the corner, it’s no surprise that city building games have started popping up all over the place. Once location where this style of game is more than welcome is in the iOS market, a market which works well with games that ask the player to tap, or usually click, on the screen in the location where the want to perform an action. Build-A-Lot 4: Power Source, a building game from Hipsoft, is slightly different in the sense that you’ll be completing levels by building your small town, but it’s no less addictive that its big brother, SimCity. That’s just the nature of the genre.
At the start of each of the levels in Build-A-Lot 4: Power Source, the player will be asked to perform several tasks. These could be as simple as building a certain number of house, or as complex as building specific houses with particular conditions imposed, all while raising a pre-specified amount of money. As the levels progress they will get steadily more difficult – as you would expect – until they become quite a formidable challenge indeed. How much a player is allowed to build is determined by two main factors: whether you have the required materials and whether you have the required cash to pay the builders. If you have enough of both of these then you can build to your heart’s content, but be careful that you don’t spend it all on things that aren’t needed to complete the level or you might find yourself stuck.
If you find yourself without materials to build, but you’ve got plenty of money, you can always send off for more materials and get them delivered to your budding town; if you run out of cash, however, things are going to be rather more tricky as you may find yourself having to sell any houses that you’ve built if the income from the rent on your houses isn’t enough to cover your outgoings as the builder of the town. It’s all down to how well you’re able to manage the construction aspect, along with the landlord sections. A healthy balance between the two will see you in good stead throughout the game, but if you forsake one for the other, you’ll find your earnings taking a rather steep nosedive. Be warned.
Controls in Build-A-Lot 4: Power Source are as easy as tapping on the screen. Tap an empty plot and you’ll be asked what you want to put there, tap a house and you’ll be asked a variety of different questions. Whether you want to sell, upgrade the house, make it more energy efficient (and therefore upping the rental price) as well as a few other options. There’s no timer on the levels either, so you can tap away without any worry that you need to be doing so at a certain speed in order to complete the level. In this way Build-A-Lot 4: Power Source is hugely accessible to a wide range of people, from gamers all the way through to people who have never picked up a controller or smartphone in their lives. You can’t ask for more than that.
Build-A-Lot 4: Power Source could do with some upgrades, most notably in the visual and quest department as both can be a little bland at times, but the game is fun to play nonetheless. Players will find themselves moving onto the next level as soon as they’ve finished the previous one in a definite sense of “just one more level”, so if you’re looking for a game to tide you over until March 8th, when SimCity is released in the UK, then grab yourself Build-A-Lot 4: Power Source and perfect those city-building skills.
Let me get right down to it, Revolve is a strange little game which initially looks as if it’s going to be a Breakout clone, tasking the player with bouncing a ball around the screen in order to collect objects. While that is technically what you do, the bouncing aspect isn’t the main focus. That’s where the difficulty, and the strangeness, comes into play. Developed by Piñata Games, Revolve is a title that asks nothing of the player except survival; everything else is a bonus.
When you first start playing the game you’ll be given two options, the first decides if you’re going to be controlling both of the two paddles at the same time and the second option allows you to control them independently of each other. Which option you choose is going to be a matter of personal preference; I preferred operating both paddles at the same time but it’s always good to see developers giving players a choice. The aim of the game, as I mentioned previously, is simply to survive by keeping the ball, or balls, bouncing between the two paddles. Allowing the ball to reach the outside of your circle will cost you a life, lose all lives and it’s game over; it really is as simple as that.
While you’re bouncing the ball around the inside of the circle, you’ll invariably pick up some of the objects that will spawn inside. Some of these are of a benefit to the player, but some will cause things to become increasingly more difficult, such as the pick-up that speeds up the balls. As you’re playing the game you’ll charge up a special metre which, when full, can be tapped and activated to perform an ability for a short amount of time. Initially this “ability” is the creation of a force field around your circle that prevents the balls from escaping, but more abilities can be bought from the shop using the game’s in-game currency, which is collected through simply playing. The longer you last, the more you’ll receive.
The controls in Revolve are easy to get a hold on, only requiring one or two fingers – depending on which mode you chose when you first started the game – and all the player is required to do is slide their finger(s) up and down the iPad’s screen in order to rotate the paddles clockwise or anti-clockwise. The major difficulty in Revolve comes from the speed at which the balls will undoubtedly start flying, and players will need to have quick reflexes and a precise hand if they want to survive for long, but that’s something that will come with practice – something that you’re going to need a lot of if you want to succeed in Revolve.
Revolve is a title that’s presented well and is fun to play for short periods of time. The addition of in-game currency and missions (of sorts) gives players something to strive for but they require so much play time in order to actually achieve that they often feel more of a visual flair than something that’s actually attainable. The visuals are good and the gameplay is interesting enough to keep people coming back for more, but there’s a steep learning curve that will put a lot of people off. Players who stick with the title will enjoy it as it fills a gameplay gap that not many other games do, but a few more game modes and achievable missions wouldn’t go amiss; it would certainly keep people playing in the short term.
You couldn’t swing a cat in the iOS App Store without hitting an infinite runner game (metaphorically speaking, of course – swinging a cat in a digital store isn’t possible. Yet). They all pretty much rely on the player, and their skills, in order to get as far as they can towards the right hand side of the screen, avoiding the obstacles that litter their way and collecting as many pick-ups as they can on their journey to finish with the most points possible. Nitro Chimp, developed by C2 Game Studio, is another infinite runner which takes a slightly different angle – literally.
We usually get infinite runner games in two varieties, behind the character (3D), which can be seen in games such as Temple Run 2 and Subway Surfers, and from the side (2D), which is where the original Canabalt comes in. Nitro Chimp revolves around an isometric viewpoint, allowing the player to see what’s coming as well as having a good view of the titular simian. The view has its positive and negative aspects – it can sometimes be hard to see what’s coming quick enough to allow for the speed that the player is going, for example – but it’s a welcome change to see a developer doing something different with such an established genre.
The gameplay itself is fairly standard given then genre. The player is tasked with getting as far as they can while collecting coins and avoiding the obstacles in the path, either by jumping over them or steering around them. Players are also able to perform tricks to boost their points by move their finger around on the right hand side of the screen in various combinations. Drawing an anti-clockwise circle while on the ground, for example, will perform a wheelie; do the same thing in the air and you’ll pull off a backflip. This trick system is another example of how the developers have taken an established genre and iterated on it to give it something different, and it works.
The biggest barrier to entry in Nitro Chimp is how fast players will be going. This usually isn’t a problem, however the bike that the chimp is riding doesn’t seem to react quickly enough. Players may see an obstacle coming and start moving the bike only to smash into the obstacle because the bike didn’t move quickly enough. Players can compensate for this by having quicker reflexes, or attempting to anticipate the hazards, but it does mean that not everyone is going to be able to get the most out of Nitro Chimp.
Nitro Chimp is a welcome change to the standard infinite runner genre. It’s absolutely not perfect, there are some glaring issues in there that would stop some people enjoying the title after only a few minutes, but for the most part it’s a well-executed title with plenty of charm. C2 Game Studio have taken a genre that everyone knows and forged themselves a little corner of it. With a few patches and a bit of polish and it could be something special, but even now it’s worth a look.
MAN IN A MAZE:
There are some games littering the iOS App Store that you simply won’t understand just from looking at them. You may have heard that they’re worth playing by word of mouth, or you may be just taking a chance based on the icon and the title’s reviews – whatever the reason, it’s a fact that some people download, and often pay for, games that they’ve no idea about. Man in a Maze is one of those games. Developed by SmallGreenHill, it’s obvious that the game is about a man in a maze but any more than that is difficult to discern. It could almost literally be anything at all – but what exactly is it?
The main crux of the gameplay in Man in a Maze involves walking around different levels in a maze, collecting tokens and other collectibles. The player must collect every single one of the collectibles in the level before the exit will open and the player is allowed to move on to the next area. At the end of each level, the player is able to use the tokens they collected to spin a wheel which has the chance of netting them even more prizes – but it could just as quickly cause you to lose everything. It’s all in the luck of the spin.
The game is presented in the form of levels, so it’s an easy game to pick up and play for just a few minutes at a time, with each level only taking a couple of minutes to complete. It’s not difficult to finish the levels either – the titular maze is more of a location than an indication of the style of gameplay involved. The hardest part for players will be avoiding the many obstacles in their way. A lot of these can be destroyed by using the various weapons that the game provides, but they still can be a little bit of a challenge if you haven’t got your head screwed on correctly. The levels are definitely more puzzle than platformer.
The controlscan be a little difficult at first, even for a seasoned gamer. The game uses one on-screen analog stick to move the character around the world, and a second to use the weapons. Due to the often precise nature of some of the levels, and the lack of tactile feedback given to the player through on-screen analog sticks, navigating each of the levels’ hazard can sometimes be a daunting task. Death sends you right back to the start of the level, too, so it can be mildly frustrating at times. Man in a Maze isn’t difficult to understand though, and if you can get over the on-screen controls, there’s a good chance anyone will have a great deal of fun with it.
The whole game is presented in a manner that makes people want to play it again and again. There’s a lot of humour dotted around, from the game show aesthetic of the title through to some of the crazy dances that the main character performs at the end of each level. A lot of players will find themselves laughing at various moments and this laughter adds a definite element of charm to the whole experience. The controls could do with a little bit of tightening, and the gameplay doesn’t really lend itself to extended sessions, more suited to five to ten minute stints, but Man in a Maze is a fun game that, despite its relatively ambiguous title, can easily be recommended if you’re looking for something new for your iOS device.