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 Wake the Cat from Halfpixel Games, Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden from Artifex Mundi, Pac-Man + Tournaments from Namco Bandai Games and Art Mogul from Funzai!.
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!
WAKE THE CAT by Martin Baker:
When it comes to iOS games there are a couple or genres that we tend to see over and over again, and the most common appears to be physical puzzle games. These are titles where each of the levels is a puzzle, and in order to complete the puzzle and get to the end, the player must overcome that game’s laws of physics and complete the goal. Wake the Cat, developed by Halfpixel Games, is a perfect example of this type of game, simply asking you to get the ball of yarn to the cat in each of the levels, but presenting it in a way that actually makes it a rather difficult physical puzzler at times.
When the player starts a level they will be presented with the ball of yarn and the titular cat who must be woken up by getting the ball to them. The player has to do this through a variety of means such as bouncing it off of trains, being blown by fans and even going through portals that are inexplicably found inside pairs of slippers. Some of these elements may sound strange but they lend themselves rather well to the overall aesthetic of the title, making it a game that many people will find themselves coming back to again and again.
As with pretty much all games, the further you get in Wake the Cat, the more difficult it becomes. It’s not long before you’ll find yourself manipulating multiple interactive aspects of the environment in an effort to get that ball of yarn to the cat. Once that happens, and the game gets harder, you’ll start find yourself slightly addicted. You’ll be obsessed with completing things on the first attempt, getting those three gold stars, and if you don’t, you’ll be restarting the level from scratch just to try it all over again.
The controls in Wake the Cat are some of the simplest I’ve ever seen in a game of this ilk, but that doesn’t mean that the whole game is easy. Not by a long shot. In order to make a move, the player must place their finger in the ball of yarn, then move it in the direction that they want it to go. The further away from the starting position the player moves their finger, the more power will be applied to the ball when it finally starts moving. This allows for a level of tactics that players will no doubt be pleased to see, as well as being something that directly contrasts with the cute and cuddly aesthetic of the game. Wake the Cat comes firmly under the heading of “easy to play, difficult to master” but that adds to the enjoyment of the title on the whole. Rest assured, even if you’re not a regular gamer, you’ll be able to sit down and get started without much of an issue. Getting to the end? Well, that’s a different matter entirely.
Wake the Cat is one of the most highly addictive games of this type that I’ve played in a while. Something to do with the combination of cutesy visuals and addictive gameplay makes a game that’s easy to come back to time and time again. Wake the Cat is certainly one of those games that you’ll find yourself coming back to, and with plenty of levels to play, as well as hopefully more to come, you’ll be doing so for a very long time indeed.
ABYSS: THE WRAITHS OF EDEN by Martin Baker:
If you’re a regular reader of Mobile Monday then you’ll know the name G5 Entertainment. You’ll also probably know that they publish quite a lot of iOS adventure games, games which require the player to find certain objects and solve puzzles before they can move on with the story. However, what you may not know is that they publish these games from a selection of different developers and, as you would expect, some of these developers are clearly better than others. One of the better developers is Artifex Mundi, the developer behind the Dark Arcana series – which we’ve looked at one of the games from here on Mobile Monday – and the Nightmares from the Deep series – we had a look at one of those games on Mac Medley too. So, naturally, I jumped at the chance to take a look at another one of their iOS adventure game series’. This time it’s Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden.
If you’ve played a G5 Entertainment adventure game before then you know exactly what you’re in for. Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden is full of instances where you’ll have to collect a certain number of specific keys to enter a particular door, puzzles that make you think outside of the box as well as the G5 adventure staple of the “Can You Find This Object in the Scene” games. Thankfully, if you’re not great at these searching mini-games – which is quite probable if you’re on the smaller screen of an iPhone or iPod Touch – then you can choose to play a game of Mahjong instead, so you’re not going to be stuck for very long.
As with most adventure games Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden will live or die on its ability to draw players into the story. The story follows a deep sea diver who has mysteriously disappeared while on a dive, the last thing his camera saw being some mysterious shapes in the distance. It’s your job to figure out what happened without succumbing to the same fate yourself. I personally didn’t find the story as compelling as Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart but I’ve seen much worse when it comes to iOS adventure games – even ones from G5 Entertainment – so it’s still worth a player’s time. I just can see people playing for hours on end without finding the story a little bit predictable. Still, the transitions between the scenes is something that Artifex Mundi are particularly good at, and they don’t disappoint in that department here.
The controls are exactly as you’d expect from an adventure game on an iOS device, consisting mainly of tapping the screen when you see something you want to interact with (usually because it’s shining). The biggest problem will probably come down to the device you’re playing the game on and the fact that the hit boxes for the objects you’re tapping on can be rather small at times, making them difficult to tap on if you’re playing on an iPhone or iPod Touch. However, that’s not the game’s fault and it’s unfair to criticise it for it, just something I think players should be aware of.
Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden isn’t Artifex Mundi’s best adventure game on the iOS – that’s still The Cursed Heart for me – but it’s another solid entry into their library. The story could do with a little bit of work, and the animations feel a little more rigid than some of their other games, but it’s absolutely an enjoyable game if you’re a fan of adventure games, just don’t expect it to turn anyone onto the genre who doesn’t already have a passing interest.
PAC-MAN + TOURNAMENTS by Jonny Lewis:
Ah, PAC-MAN. The videogame icon from yesteryear that just won’t go away. The greedy yellow pill popper has appeared on pretty much every format since the late 80’s, with this latest port, PAC-MAN + Tournaments seeking to bring a slice of that competitive arcade magic to your pocket. Oh, did we mention that it’s also free-to-play? Yeah, now you’re interested.
The game comes packing two play modes, the first of which is the always free to play PAC-MAN mode, which is old-school PAC-MAN just the way you remember it. Like other touch screen adaptations of PAC-MAN in the past, a swipe of the finger will get PAC-MAN moving in the desired direction. It’ll never be as good as using an arcade stick, or even a D-Pad, but it works well enough, particularly on the bigger screen on my Nexus 7. Here’s what you need to know about PAC-MAN: There is a maze. You eat dots. Eat all the dots to win. Avoid the ghosts. That’s it. If that all sounds new to you, well, welcome to video game land, we hope you enjoy your stay.
The other game mode, Tournaments, is where the game comes into its own. You can purchase tokens (with real money), that you can use to enter tournaments and compete with players around the world. Namco Bandai tell us they plan to release new stages every week, so don’t worry about it all getting old too soon. I had a stab at a couple of Tournaments (you get one free entry per day, which is a nice touch), and I had a good time trying to assail the lofty leaderboards. What did I learn? I suck at PAC-MAN. My video game ego has come crashing down around me. Those of you willing to put in the time (and a little bit of money) will have a chance to win real-world prizes, or SWAG, as we like to call it, so there is plenty of incentive for you to reach the top of the pile.
To sum up, it’d be difficult for me not to recommend PAC-MAN + Tournaments, since its free. It is PAC-MAN with none of the added frills and excitement of the modern Championship editions, so expect a sedate ride through early gaming history rather than a PAC-MAN revolution.
ART MOGUL by Martin Baker:
A lot of you may think that you have a good eye for art – we are passionate players of video games after all, one of the greatest forms of modern art there is. So, with that in mind you may think that you know which pieces of art would sell well, netting you a nice profit, and which ones you should probably avoid in order to maintain your dignity. This is the question that Art Mogul poses to the player. Can you start the game with a certain amount of money and, through bargaining with art dealers, making intelligent purchases and buying and selling in different locations, come out on top with a pocket full of cash? You may think you can, but what’s the reality?
The game starts, as you would expect, with a handy tutorial that every player should take the time to go through. Not only does it inform the player about some of the intricacies of what can end up being a rather complex game, but it also gives some interesting tips about how to maximise your profit margin when buying and selling these fine works of art, which is something your going to want to do seeing as the main way of scoring is to simply have as much money as possible. Once you’ve gone through the tutorial it’s time to let yourself loose on the art world, buying from galleries and – if you’re feeling risky – the cafés, and then selling the works of art at auction in an attempt to make a profit. Sometimes a gallery will ask for a specific painting too, which, if you can find it somewhere across the globe, will net you some money without the uncertainty of the auction environment.
One of the nice things about Art Mogul, apart from the opportunity to look closely at some rather impressive works of art, is the bargaining system. In order to knock a small amount off the asking price, the player is asked to find a number of items across three paintings. These items can appear in any of the current selection of painting and, because there’s no description of what you’re looking for, just a small partial image, they can be rather difficult to find. Thankfully, however, this never quite feels tedious – although it often hangs over the edge of being so – and as such feels quite rewarding when you can a piece of art that you know will sell well in a certain location for much less than the dealer wanted to sell it for. There’s nothing more appealing to a Northerner than a hefty discount.
The controls in Art Mogul are very simple, only really consisting of tapping the screen in various locations and to perform certain actions. These actions are all rather intuitive too, so you’ll hardly ever find yourself confused as to what you should be doing next. The screen itself can get a little cluttered at time, making the game slightly hard to read – especially to new players – but the tutorial at the start of the game does a good job at explaining everything so just make sure you don’t skip it.
Art Mogul is a game that can be confusing to play at first but if you take the time to learn the game’s mechanics you’ll soon have everything down to a fine art (pun intended). The biggest downside to the title is that, after extended periods of play, things can get a little bit repetitive, doing the same buying and selling techniques over and over again just to get more and more money. However, if you’ve always fancied yourself as an art mogul, but never had the opportunity to put those skills you think you have to the test, Art Mogul is one of the best opportunities you’re going to get without actually spending any of your hard-earned cash.