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 Pocket Festival from Strawdog Studios, Ski Jumping Pro from Vivid Games, Aero Porter from Level-5 and Kingdom Conquest II from SEGA.
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!
I’ve been to quite a few festivals over the years, and each time something has gone wrong that caused me to say, “I bet I could do a better job at organising!” Whether or not that’s actually true in the real word – it’s probably entirely untrue – at least I get a chance to put my money where my mouth is in the digital world thanks to Pocket Festival from Strawdog Studios. Time management games are my weakness, and one based around music, my other lifelong passion, is sure to go down well. Right?
The gameplay, like other time management games, tasks the player with organising their production – in this case a festival in order to make money and keep the whole thing going for as long as they’re able. In Pocket Festival this involves a couple of key components. Firstly, you’re going to need to book bands, because if you’ve got nobody playing on stage then you don’t have paying customers coming through the door. Secondly, you’re going to need to create and maintain somewhere for your customers and your musicians to stay. Lastly, you need to create places for your customers to spend their money, giving yourself another useful source of income.
As you’re creating your festival, there are things that you’re going to keep an eye on, the most important or which is the festival rating in the top bar. This rating indicates how well your festival is doing at the moment, and keeping your customers happy with things to do and places to see are the quickest ways to get those ratings up. The higher your festival is rated, the more money you’ll be able to squeeze out of people – as much as we like music, it’s all about those monies. On top of managing your festival based on what you think it needs, you’re also going to have to keep an eye on the quest log. Completing quests is the quickest way to gain XP and level up your character/festival. The higher level you are, the more equipment you have access to and the better festival you’re able to put on for people.
Controls are based around tapping the different areas of the screen in order to interact with them and, in this way, the entire experience is accessible to a wide range of people, from young gamers all the way through to the older non-gamer. The biggest problem with the controls in Pocket Festival is the fact that the detection area for some items is rather small, leaving the player tapping at the screen in frustration as they’re trying to open the snack cart to create more food. Zooming in helps a little, but not nearly enough to make it any less annoying.
If you’re a fan of this type of the time management genre, then Pocket Festival is really one of the better examples. It looks visually impressive, there’s plenty to do and you’ll have fun while you’re doing it. There are a few little problems that stop it being as great as it could have been but, all in all, it’s an enjoyable game that people should at least give a go. You even get in-game rewards for listening to your own music!
SKI JUMPING PRO:
Sports games are few and far between on the iOS App Store – that is, the ones I don’t mind actually playing are. When it comes to sports games I only care about one thing: my score. If the only major gameplay element is playing the same thing over and over again to get a better score, and then having those scores displayed on some kind of leaderboard without muddying up the whole affair with unnecessary things like “tactics”, then I’m sold. Ski Jumping Pro from Vivid Games is a game that just asks you to jump as far as you possibly can, nothing more, nothing less.
There are two game modes in Ski Jumping Pro, Career and Quick Jump. They both do the same thing in the sense that they ask the player to jump as far as they can, but the Career mode has a tournament style to it in which the player has to qualify, then make the best jump they can out of three chances. At the end of the third jump you’re placed in a position and you get to move forward to the next competition if you’re good enough. If you’re not, then I’m afraid it’s home time for you.
Quick Jump is the mode that people will spend the most time in as it allows for simply competing without the constraints of the tournament style. If you don’t jump particularly well then you don’t have to start the entire mode all over again, just attempt to do better next time. It even works well with friends, passing the iOS device around to see who can get the best score. Each of the jumps only take a matter of seconds too, so it’s not as if each player is going to be holding on to the device for a long time at all – pass the device, play your go and move on. I found that this is the most fun method and something which can only really be done in Quick Play, which is why I spent the most time there.
The controls in Ski Jumping Pro are the hardest thing to get used to and even someone with extremely quick reflexes will have trouble hitting all three of the required points quickly and accurately. Each jump requires the player to tap the screen when two circles meet and turn green, then again to jump, then a third and final time to nail the landing. This may sound simple but it takes some getting used to. Eventually you’ll learn the timings and the appearance of the circles won’t be as much of a surprise but don’t expect to get far, not even over the red qualifying line, for at least the first couple of jumps. Ski Jumper Pro isn’t for those who are easily frustrated by relatively hardcore game mechanics.
Ski Jumping Pro is an interesting title, and an enjoyable one if you’re a score junkie, but it’s light on features and most people won’t play it for too long unless they’re specifically trying to beat each other’s times by passing the device around. The fact that it’s so similar to last year’s offering would leave me to suggest that if you have that game then you wouldn’t find much new with this updated title – not enough to make a second purchase anyway. However, if you don’t have last year’s game and you’re in the mood for some ski jumping, then Ski Jumping Pro is the best you’re going to get.
Level-5 are a studio that bring us a hugely eccentric bunch of games. We recently had the hugely popular Ni No Kuni from them, a game which took everyone by surprise by taking the number one spot in the UK charts, and then we got Crimson Shroud, a turn-based eShop JRPG which relies heavily on dice rolls. This latest game, Aero Porter, is another strange one, a mix between a puzzle game and a management sim that asks players to sort different coloured bags onto specific carousels in order to load them onto a plane. You’ve almost certainly never seen anything like this – but is it any good?
The gameplay looks like it could be confusing when you first start things. The screen consists of rotating carousels on the top screen, with the very top showing the player which colour bags are coming up next, and the bottom touchscreen where the carousel generator is. You’ll need to keep a close eye on both of these sections if you’re to succeed in the game, but the carousel is where all the magic happens. Each of the carousels rotates clockwise and players are able to drop down two platforms, one to drop bags down to a lower level, and another to bring them back up. Once a plane lands, and you’re tasked with filling it up with luggage, each of the carousels will change to a specific colour, and the main objective of the game is to fill each carousel with bags that match its colour. Once that’s done, fill the plane up with the baggage and send it on its way. Simple, isn’t it?
Well, yes and no. It certainly starts off simple, but the main thing that players will have to remember is the fact that dropping each of the platforms – to either drop or raise a bag – will perform the action on both carousels. You may drop the platform in order to drop a bag from the top level down to the middle, but in doing so you inadvertently drop another bag from the middle down to the bottom. Predicament! It’s these sections of the game where your mastery of the controls will come into play. Can you get all the planes departed, with the correct luggage and on time when you’re being thrown different coloured luggage left, right and centre? There’s only one way to find out. Play on.
The controls in Aero Porter are simple enough, and you don’t even need a stylus to perform them (although having one is handy to get rid of the tutorial messages at the start of the game). All of the action, the dropping and raising of platform and baggage, is done via the left and right bumper buttons on the 3DS. Holding the right bumper will drop the platform to lower baggage, and holding the left bumper will drop the one required to raise luggage. Letting go of either of the bumper buttons will reset the platforms back to their original positions and allow the baggage to continue around in circles unimpeded. Due to the fact that Aero Porter only requires two buttons in order to play, it’s incredibly accessible to a wide range of players, although quick reflexes will certainly make things easier as you progress through the game.
Level-5 has managed to create an unconventional game with Aero Porter, yet one that is a huge amount of fun to play. A few more game modes and a little splash of colour here and there, would have made it more appealing to the masses perhaps, but it’s an enjoyable game that’s easy to pick up and put down at a moment’s notice.
KINGDOM CONQUEST II:
A lot the time on Mobile Monday, we take a look at small iOS puzzle games that have one, maybe two, game mechanics that the player must repeat over and over again until the game ends. Kingdom Conquest II, developed by SEGA, is almost exactly the opposite of any iOS game we’ve taken a look at before: the sheer amount of gameplay mechanics ise simply astounding, but is it a case of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, or is there actually a good game under there?
The first mechanic that people will be introduced to, and arguably the most fun, is the third person hack and slash element. In the area, the player will be given two on-screen analog sticks and a variety of other buttons – which control special attacks, lock-on features and dodges – and asked to clear the floor they’re on. Once the floor is cleared they will move onto the other floors until the entire dungeon is cleared. These sections can be accessed at any time by going to the ‘Dungeon’ area of the menu, and can be played with multiple people for a huge amount of potential loot. Dungeons are where most players will be spending the majority of their time, but there’s much more to do in Kingdom Conquest II than just hacking and slashing.
Taking over areas of the map and expanding your kingdom is another huge part of the game and in order to do this, the player must take part in a collectible card-game-type mini-mechanic. Through your travels you’ll collect ally monster cards, and it’s your job to level them up and sort them into configurations that will help you take over the world. You won’t actually get to take part in the collectible card game as you would in Might & Magic: Duel of Champions but, instead, you get to set your units loose and hope they come back with a win based on their stats, level and a whole plethora of other modifiers. While expanding the lands your kingdom oversees, you’ll also be tasked with expanding your kingdom with the confines if its walls, by constructing utility buildings, warehouses and all of the other aspects that you would expect in a typical RTS game. This section of the game is the most frustrating, but that’s mainly down to the controls as it’s difficult to see where you’re attempting to place something if your finger is over the screen. A lot of trial and error needs to be utilized here but it’s still an extremely fleshed-out feature complete with quests that is rather fun to play despite its frustrations.
As mentioned previously, the major downside to the controls in Kingdom Conquest II lies in the fact that the player has to touch the screen, obscuring a lot of what they’re trying to do simply by having their finger on the device. This affects both the RTS and the collectible card game features; not enough to stop playing, but enough to notice it constantly, which could be frustrating to some people. Kingdom Conquest II definitely assumes that you’re at least competent with all of its various styles and, for that reason, isn’t a game that someone new to the medium should be taking up lightly. However, the tutorials are good, in-depth and frequent – it just takes a little bit more patience than usual to get the most out of them.
For a completely free game, there is an astounding amount of content in Kingdom Conquest II. The tutorial sections alone will take at least an hour to get through, and that’s about the length of time most people would usually play an iOS game before exhausting what it has to offer. There’s a definite feeling of “too many cooks” while you’re playing the game, and swapping between the various different gameplay mechanics can feel a little jarring, but once you’re used to it, and you know exactly what you’re doing at all times, you can’t help but keep coming back to it. Slightly improved touch controls, a less messy interface and an improvement on the excessive length of the loading times would make Kingdom Conquest II an absolute gem. As it stands it’s something that fans of the different genres would absolutely love, but newcomers could get easily frustrated with.