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 Jones on Fire from Glass Bottom Games, Pac-Man from Namco Bandai, Splash or Crash from Nintendo and Mini Ninjas from Square Enix.
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!
JONES ON FIRE by Martin Baker:
If you were to take the iOS App Store at face value, assuming that the most common game genre on there is what most people want to play, then you’d be forgiven for assuming that all anyone ever wants to play is an infinite runner game. Even big corporations are getting in on the action, releasing infinite runners based on their most popular licenses. Similarly, if the internet is to be believed, then cats are the bespoke gods that we all worship daily. So, how about an infinite runner style of game that tasks the player with saving as many cats as possible? Instant winner, right? That’s the question that Jones on Fire, developed by Glass Bottom Games, is asking and we’re here to find out the answer.
Just as with any other infinite game, the gameplay in Jones on Fire involves helping Jones as she gets from the left-hand side of the screen to the right, collecting as many cats as possible along the way. While you’re travelling from left to right, there will be many obstacles that you have to avoid, some which you’ll have to jump over and others which require you to slide under them. The whole point of the title, as well as collecting cats, is running away from the fire. You’re allowed to stumble once – by not jumping or sliding quickly enough – but do it a second time and you’ll be burned alive, losing one of your precious lives in the process.
While Jones on Fire is technically an infinite runner game, players will be offered a small respite every so often in the form of small safe houses. As you progress through the game, as long as you don’t lose all your lives, you’ll raise the difficulty through the increase of the hazard level. Lose all your lives, however, and you’ll have to start back all the way at hazard level one. It’s a cruel, cruel world, but one that will have you striving for perfection each time you play it. Getting further and further into the game allows you to collect more cats, and more cats means that you’ll climb further up the leaderboard – which is something that we all covertly (or even overtly) desire.
There are really only two controls in Jones on Fire: jump and slide. Jumping is as easy as tapping the left hand side of the screen and sliding the right. People that have played infinite runners before may be more used to controls that involve swiping the screen but the controls in Jones on Fire are easy to get used to and you’ll be jumping and sliding with the best of them in no time. Thanks to the simplicity of the controls, Jones on Fire is definitely a game that almost anyone can get to grips with rather quickly, even with the change in control method from other games of the genre. Being an infinite runner, you’re going to need sharp eyes and quick reflexes to get further into the game, but if you’ve got those then you’re not going to have a problem at all.
There’s no doubt that Jones on Fire is an amazingly addictive game; the art style is gorgeous, the game is genuinely funny at times and you’re saving cats from fire! You’re a hero! There’s masses of replayability too, with mini-missions to complete, abilities to unlock/purchase and leaderboards to try and reach the top of. Once you start playing Jones on Fire, you’re going to find it hard to put it down. If you’re a fan of infinite runners, or just want something a little bit different and amusing to fill your morning commute with, give Jones on Fire a shot.
PAC-MAN by Martin Baker:
Everybody knows who Pac-Man is. The pill-popping partial circle first entered our lives via the arcade, as all games did once, but once his success was known worldwide, it wasn’t long before the game was ported to the most popular home console of the time, the NES. It’s been a long time since that release on Nintendo’s early system but thanks to the wonders of the 3DS and the eShop, we’re getting the opportunity to experience the joy of gobbling those pac-dots all over again. But does our little yellow friend stand up to the test of time? I think we all know the answer to that…
The gameplay in Pac-Man is a tried and tested formula, and it’s something that’s been shown off in many different formats, whether as parody, homage or just informational. It’s had so much media play over the last three decades that if you put someone in front of the game, they would instantly know what’s required of them. For the uninitiated, however, the basic premise is that the player – as Pac-Man – is required to collect all of the pac-dots/pellets within each of the levels while avoiding the four ghosts. Collect all of the pac-dots and you win the level and move onto the next in line.
The A.I. in Pac-Man, for its time, was amazing. A lot of people, myself included, could easily be caught thinking that Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde had their own agendas, that they were doing more than just using a simple pathing algorithm to get themselves closer to the main character at all times. Even now, with A.I. as intelligent as we’re treated to in AAA games, I still found myself thinking that the ghosts were working together to trap me in the corners of the maze. Even now, many years after I played Pac-Man for the first time, I’m still nowhere near good enough to get to the legendary end-game screen, which is so sought after that I can’t even fathom the outrage from fans if they spent the time to reach it only to discover that Namco “fixed the problem”. So, while I couldn’t get to it myself, I assume it’s still there.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think it’s possible to sit someone less than 70 years old in front of Pac-Man and have them not understand what they’re expected to do. Everyone knows how to play Pac-Man. The 3DS version of the game makes things even easier too, by allowing the player to choose whether they want to use the D-Pad or the Circle Pad. So, whichever control method takes your fancy, whichever one you use most often, or even whichever one catches your eye when you play Pac-Man on 3DS for the first time, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to use it.
Pac-Man is one of those games that everyone should have on them at all times. It’s absolutely timeless. While it’s no longer one of the best games out there, it’s still a game that people can have a lot of fun with. If you’re looking to recapture that “misspent” youth wakka-wakka-ing around a blue and black screen, or even if you just want something to play on your commute to school or work, you can never go far wrong with Pac-Man. It’s a classic for a reason.
SPLASH OR CRASH by James Bowden:
Splash or Crash is a game about falling. And while it reads like the title of a Z-list celebrity tombstoning show it is actually about falling down wells. Rocks, melons, Russian Dolls; all manner of things are thrown down all manner of watering holes and it’s your job to navigate past some of the most unhelpful water collection set-ups since Jack and Jill’s hill with one goal: reach the water at the bottom of the well as quickly as possible.
The concept is dandy. Plot is shirked in favour of barrier-less high score fare, with the focus being to set as fast a time as you can on each of the game’s ten ‘different’ wells. You can choose which object you wish to assume control of, with each offering a difference in speed, boost and health.
The game is quickly undermined, however, largely due to its randomly generated level format. Each well is populated by a grab bag of obstacles such as shortbread biscuits, pizza gates, Japanese doors and boost-causing doughnuts, and you never know how those ker-azy objects are going to appear. Oh it’s mad. It is indeed zany. Ho ho, Crash or Splash is soooo so so so wacky!
But it’s precisely the random level element that ruins it. You’ll play through the ten levels waiting for the one that will surprise. The one that will open up into a grand chasm. The one that will take you through some absolutely bonkers Willy Wonka Well of chocolate milk dreams (the game’s loading screens promise that a well can contain anything, afterall). But all ten wells are effectively the same deal with different wallpaper, which is an ailment of being randomly generated; the designers are forced to work within easily generated and connected templates.
Fall. Splash. Seen one, seen ‘em all.
It’s a shame because Splash or Crash looks alright, has a sense of fun with its physics-enabled obstacles tumbling down the well should you collide with them, and the controls are responsive. As far as controlling a falling rock goes, anyway. Like that uncle, Splash or Crash is the sort of game that elicits deep sighs and frowned head shaking; you’ll likely tire of its ways within an hour, and it ultimately it lacks any sort of applaud-able ambition.
MINI NINJAS by Martin Baker:
A lot of us will have heard the name Mini Ninjas before, a game that started life as a console and PC platforming title developed by Hitman studio IO Interactive. However, people that may have played the original game in the franchise may be wondering how it could ever be transferred to an iOS device. The simple answer? It hasn’t been. Mini Ninjas on iOS, this time developed in-house by Square Enix, is a totally different game than its console/PC big brother; instead of a platforming adventure we’re given a side-scrolling infinite runner. But can it still capture the charm and inherent appeal of the original?
The gameplay requires that you run as far as you possibly can from the left hand side of the screen to the right, with the distance you manage to travel being the score that you manage to attain. If you stumble and fall, you do have an opportunity to pick yourself back up again, although you have to spend coins in order to do so, with the purchase becoming more and more expensive the more times you have to do it in any one attempt. As you run through the level you can pick up coins to spend in the in-game store, but you’ve got to be careful: while collecting coins might seem appealing, the aim of the game is to get as far as you can, and constantly collecting coins can often be an easy way to an early Game Over screen.
As you progress you’ll be able to enlist the help of other Mini Ninjas to help you on your quest to get as far as possible. These helpers take the place of power-ups in more traditional infinite runners, each of them having a special ability that the main character can make use of such as the ability to smash rocks and other obstacles, or just the ability to pull coins towards themselves easier. Whatever the ability is, you should make sure to grab it whenever possible as they make things a whole lot easier.
The controls in Mini Ninjas on the iOS are simple too, more similar to how Jones on Fire performed than any other infinite runner. To play, the player has to either tap the left hand side of the screen, or the right. Tapping the left will cause the character to jump – jumping higher if the “button” is held down and shorter if the player just gives it a quick tap – and the right hand side of the screen to slash your sword or whatever other weapon you happen to have (which depends on if you’ve got a “power-up” currently activated as the other ninjas have different weapons). Thanks to the fact that Mini Ninjas only asks the player to use two buttons, for the most part, it’s easily accessible to a wide range of potential players. Being an infinite runner, quick reflexes are a plus but not absolutely necessary.
Mini Ninjas is an enjoyable game, especially for fans of the franchise, but there are better examples of the genre out there. Constant drops in frame rate, even on newer iOS devices, hamper the progress of even experienced infinite runner gamers – there’s nothing more frustrating than dying because a frame dropped or the game failed to recognise a ‘jump’ command – and it’s that that’s keeping the game from the top of the pile. The visuals are nice and there’s plenty of replay value but, at the moment, it feels like a week or two more of development wouldn’t have gone amiss.