Well, it’s that time of the week again, the beginning, and that means that you’re all getting your working week well and truly underway, I’ll bet you’re in need of some games to help pass the time too, right? Of course I’m right. Good job then that we’re back for the second ever Mobile Monday and we’ve got some nice little gems in here for you this week. We’ve got the alternative racing game DrawRace 2 HD, where you’re encouraged to be the backseat driver, instructing the car on where to go by just pointing, Join It – Jigsaw Puzzle, a nice little, classic, jigsaw puzzle game that people will be able to sit back and relax to, Tiny Invaders, the first game from a development team that consists of ex-Bizarre Creations members, and it certainly is a “bizarre creation”. Lastly, there’s Companions, an iPad RPG that is certainly interesting, for various reasons that we’ll get into soon enough.
So get reading, get downloading and get gaming – it’s Mobile Monday!
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!
DRAWRACE 2 HD:
Ever played games such as Forza and Gran Turismo with the racing line help on? I’m sure most of you have, at least to begin with. What would it be like to be the person who draws that line, deciding the success or fate of the people following it? RedLynx probably had the same thought when they dreamt up the DrawRace series of games, a title where you literally draw your own racing line; for better or for worse.
As mentioned before, the gameplay in DrawRace 2 HD revolves around the player drawing a line around 2 laps of a track, sounds simple at first doesn’t it? The challenge lies in the fact that as well as drawing the line to tell your vehicle where to go, you also have to manage the speed at which you’re drawing the line. The faster you draw the line, the faster your car will go. That can cause serious problems when it comes to some of the truly vicious corners that can be encountered on even the easiest of tracks.
There are a plethora of game modes to choose from, starting with the standard career mode, which is absolutely massive containing around 12 events in each difficulty level, 3 medals in each event and 4 difficulty levels, all adding up to a total of 144 unique events which will take you quite a bit of time and dedication in order to complete. On top of all of that there’s also the world championship mode, where you compete in a time trial style against other people in the world to see just how good you really are. All of this adds up to some serious value for money.
The controls for DrawRace 2 HD couldn’t be simpler, everything you’re expected to do is in the title of the game; draw to race. A lot of people will find some difficulty in mastering the nuances of the control scheme, such as slowing down on corners and using the speed boost at the right moment, but the accessibility of the game from the moment you fire it up for the first time is what makes DrawRace 2 HD so appealing; trying to master it is what keeps you coming back.
DrawRace 2 HD is one of the most visually striking games on the iPad to date, everything about it screams quality, from the menu system down to the game itself, it’s easy to see that a lot of due care and attention went in to building such a high quality title. The main game is reminiscent of something such as Micro Machines, especially with the camera angle, and the vehicles themselves are modeled and textured to a level that we’re used to seeing on AAA console titles, or at least on a high level Xbox LIVE Arcade/PlayStation Network game. The fact that this is on the iOS devices automatically puts it a cut above most other games.
If you’re a fan of racing games, or even very well made line drawing games, then you need to pick up DrawRace 2 HD. The price tag could put some people off at first but, believe me, you get every penny worth and more. What you’re getting with DrawRace 2 HD is a graphically stunning, highly addictive racing title from the guys that brought us Trials HD and MotoHeroz, all for a very modest price tag.
JOIN IT – JIGSAW PUZZLE:
Most people will have sat there on a lazy afternoon, after exhausting all other methods to entertain yourselves, putting together a jigsaw puzzle. There’s something calming about putting something back together again, watching the picture form itself before your eyes as if you’re rebuilding something historical and magnificent. Then the unavoidable rage as you realise that it’s not that you “can’t find” that one piece, it’s missing! I’m almost sure that’s the story behind Join It, a jigsaw game for the iPad, making it impossible to lose a single piece.
It’s difficult to talk about the “gameplay” aspects of a jigsaw game, there’s nothing new here in terms of completing a jigsaw puzzle, choose a picture, choose how difficult you want it to be to complete (which is how many pieces it will have) then sit back and watch it get divided up into the familiar jigsaw shaped puzzle pieces. Then put it all back together again as quickly or as slowly as you want. If you want a little more of a challenge than the inherent difficulty of solving the puzzle then you can try to complete the puzzle as quickly as possible, there’s a timer in each puzzle to help add that competitive edge. Most people would probably see this as a detriment to the calm nature of jigsaw puzzle solving but it’s a nice little addition for those people that want a little bit of a change.
Another addition to the application, that would probably make it much more worthwhile in most peoples eyes, is the ability to create unique puzzles out of your own photos. In the real world, with a real puzzle, this would take a lot of time and money to do, but with Join-It it takes mere seconds and makes the whole puzzle solving a lot more fun, while also ensuring a constant stream of new puzzles; as long as you keep taking photos.
The controls within Join It can be a little difficult to grasp at first, not because they’re particularly hard to understand but because the actual mechanical function of moving things around on the screen isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially with puzzles that have smaller pieces. There is a zoom function to help you get in close to the puzzle and position all of the pieces with a little more ease but it doesn’t seem to help as much as it could have. As such, I tended to keep the difficulty level quite low (which gives less pieces) because even on the iPads relatively large screen it was often difficult to pick up the piece I wanted, once I did manage to pick it up however, it was even more difficult to rotate into the correct position, often leading to frustration.
If you’re a fan of jigsaw puzzles then Join It is one of the better jigsaw apps out there, the ability to add your own pictures and make puzzles out of them means that there’ll always be a new puzzle for you to play with. The addition of a timer adds a “game” element to an application that would otherwise not really feel like a game. This competitive edge is something that’s not really needed when it comes to a jigsaw puzzle but it’s a nice little addition anyway.
When it comes to puzzle games there are certain people that you look towards in order to guarantee that you’re going to get a good experience from your purchase, people such as Rovio get all of the attention for coming up with something as soul/time sucking as Angry Birds. Hogrocket isn’t a name that you would associate with well made puzzle games, probably because they hadn’t made one before now, but if a good first impression is what you’re after then Hogrocket have done a damn fine job with Tiny Invaders.
Tiny Invaders is based around the idea of a species of little cute Aliens that only really want one thing in life, they’re not asking for much, just the President of the United States’ brain. The only problem lies in the fact that they failed to land inside the president, they only made it as far as some backwater hick, so they’re going to have to make their way to the President by jumping from person to person infecting their bodies. Seems harmless enough.
The gameplay revolves around you sending little aliens out to infect various parts of the human body by travelling along the blood vessels to collect items, and the puzzle part of the game comes into play when you realise that there’s an item you need on a separate track than you’re currently on, and in order to get it you’re going to have to flip a switch, or in this case a blood vessel, to change which “track” you’re travelling on; much like a train does. Once you’ve completely infected all the areas of a single person, finishing with the brain, you’ll move on to a different person, until you reach the President of the United States.
The controls of Tiny Invaders are simple enough, tasking the player with only two things really, tapping on the aliens to get them to move faster and tapping on the blood vessel junctions to get them to change the path they’re leading you on to. The main problem with this method, especially with tapping the aliens to make them go faster, is that players will often inadvertently tap the Junction they’re about to go over while quickly forcing the alien to go faster. This is really the only frustration with the game, and it happens so rarely that it’s only an occasional inconvenience.
If you’re looking for something new but still within the puzzle genre then there’s no excuse not to give Tiny Invaders a go. It’s got a charm and wit that you don’t see very often, coupled with some addictive gameplay that is genuinely challenging. Add to that the fact that there’s a lot of levels here, enough to keep most people playing for a decent amount of time, and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid little title. Hogrocket are truly looking like a development company worth watching, especially if this is how they’re going to start out, so why not jump in at the beginning?
There are a lot of puzzle games on the App Store, and many of them get a lot of attention (mostly because practically anybody can pick them up and start playing almost immediately) but the RPG games on the same store hardly ever seem to get the same treatment. Most of them are difficult to control, don’t have the same depth as their console cousins and generally play quite badly. Smuttlewerk Interactive are attempting to change things in that regard with their own entrant into the iPad RPG market with Companions.
The gameplay in Companions revolves around completing quests with your group of fellow warriors in a way that’s similar to a dungeon crawler, without the hack and slash elements. A lot of the time when you enter a new room something will trigger that will require you and your team of adventurers to investigate further, walk towards it, trigger the enemies to spawn, kill them all and collect the quest item that has either appeared or is already in the room that you’ve found yourself in. Most of the game feels very linear, often leading you by the hand into a very specific room and not really allowing for any level of exploration. Couple that with the fact that anything that drops on the floor can be very difficult to actually pick up and you’re left with a game experience that’s less than enjoyable most of the time.
The control scheme in Companions can be very difficult to get used to, especially the fact that players will have to use a single finger to tell their character(s) where to go in the game world and two fingers to move the camera around the current area of the game. This means that most people will find themselves inadvertently moving characters when all they wanted to do is move the camera around the area. This can lead to frustration if you’ve just gotten them into a very strategic position and then accidentally move them.
The visuals of Companions looks quite good, the top down viewpoint is reminiscent of some old Nintendo games and helps the player to see a lot of the screen at a time without obstructing it too much. The major downside to the visuals however, is the fact that a lot of them feel very similar to each other with each dungeon feeling exactly the same as the last one, some of them even having the same layout, which will make most people feel like not a lot of effort has gone into the level design.
With all that said and done I sadly can’t recommend that people play Companions, it’s not the worst game out there and for a touch based RPG it certainly has a good go at getting the controls functioning well, and I commend them for not resorting to on screen buttons and analog sticks, but overall there just isn’t enough enjoyable gameplay to keep people involved for an extended period of time.
Mobile Monday will return at the same time next Monday!