Another week and another set of games to play here at the Mobile Monday offices (my iPhone/iPad and my brain), and we’ve got a pretty impressive selection for your perusal this week. We start off with IMDb Trivia. Sure you’ve been watching lots of films over the course of your life but do you remember anything specific about any of them? How about the chance to find out? IMDb Trivia is just for you, and it’s free! iSlack is a game about what we all do anyway, slacking off at work, playing games and browsing Twitter when we should be working. Roll in the Hole is a game seemingly dreamt up during those times, when your brain is simply about to die of boredom. Rolling a portly little panda into a swirling vortex while collecting ice lollies? Yeah, that sounds completely normal. Lastly we’ve got Hard Lines, a crazy little mash up between classic Snake and Tron. So what are we waiting for?
Let’s get playing!
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!
Most of you are probably the same, when you’re watching a film or a TV show you can’t help yourself, you see someone on the screen that you just barely recognise and you simply have to look them up on IMDb to see who they are and what you’ve seen them in before. Don’t worry though, we’re all the same. By spending the last 10 or so years doing that most of us will have built up an impressive little knowledge base about what that one actor was seen in before, or what year such a film was made. What better way to test that semi-useful movie knowledge than with a trivia app straight from the guys over at IMDb themselves.
The gameplay involves, as you would expect from a movie trivia game, answering questions based on movies and TV shows from a selection of packs. These packs include Blockbusters, Family Films and TV shows, to name a few. You’ll get a couple of these packs just for being good enough to download the game in the first place, but some of them need to be bought for the relatively low sum of 69p. Not that much considering that you’re getting the initial app for free and, if you enjoy movies, you’ll get as much fun out of it as you would some pretty heavily priced iPhone games.
After a few correct answers you’ll be given the opportunity to either win a life back, if you’ve happened to lose one up to that point, or just win a few extra points that will help you beat that ever elusive high score, and, to be honest, who can resist those high scores; especially when they belong to someone that’s been gloating ever since they attained them.
The visuals of the game are both something to be praised and something to be derided. Yes, they look fantastic, and the high definition graphics even look amazing on the iPad when they’ve been expanded to twice their intended size, but the major downside that comes with this is that IMDb Trivia simply will not run on an iPhone 3G or lower. From a game that’s based entirely around answering questions this is a limitation that’s unneeded, unfair and a little bit strange. The only reason I was even able to play it was because I had an iPad.
If you’re even remotely interested in films then IMDb Trivia is a no brainer. It’s free to begin with, allowing players to unlock a couple of packs through the simple act of playing the game; which people will be doing anyway. Most people will also find that the additional cost of 69p for more packs is very modest and, considering that the game itself costs nothing, will result in some very knowledgeable movie buffs. If you’ve got an iDevice capable of playing the game and you’ve not already hit the download button then you’ve already lost some points. Points of respect at least.
Some games make you sit and think for a little while, wondering just what they could be about. Some of them could almost be anything given the generally vague titles they’re sometimes given. That’s not even close to the truth when it comes to iSlack by Kaida Games, the game does exactly what it says on the tin, gives you a game that involves slacking off, and doing so for as long as possible. We’ve all done it during our working lives once or twice, even if we don’t like to admit it, but now we can do it in our gaming lives too! What could be better?
The gameplay in iSlack involves the player, as a hard working member of a team (well, that’s the image you’re trying hard to convey anyway), trying to get away with doing absolutely nothing for as long as possible without getting caught by the management. The player is given five buttons, one of them is for working, and is the button you need to press if one of the bosses is around, and the other four buttons are for doing nothing at all. For slacking off.
The aim of the game is to generate the highest score possible, points are generated for every second you’re slacking off and the game continues until you’re either caught by a member of the senior management slacking off, or your happiness metre gets to zero, which, as you would expect, decreases as you work.
As I briefly mentioned earlier, the controls in iSlack are as simplistic as you’re going to get in an iOS title, why make you work hard in a game that praises slacking off? Players are required to simply touch the icon for the task that they want to be doing, either working or one of the four slacking off tasks. This simplistic control method may come as a blessing or a curse, once a player has mastered how to avoid work while also avoiding the management there’s nothing else to do in the game except keep playing for higher and higher scores. Which can get quite boring over time, especially over extended single sessions of play.
The logo for iSlack is a guy playing on their iPad while on the toilet and that’s all the game is really good for, short gaming sessions where you try and beat a friend’s score, or your own. Beyond the original gameplay mechanic there’s nothing much else to do to keep players entertained for any kind of long term basis. The visuals look good and the hand drawn, Microsoft Paint style, visuals add to the overall theme of spending as little time doing something important as possible. Hopefully that was the intention. iSlack is a game that’s difficult to recommend due to its very short term life span but if you’re even a little curious then you could do a lot worse.
ROLL IN THE HOLE:
In the last review, for iSlack, I talked about the fact that there are some games out there that make it really easy to tell what you’re going to be playing from the moment you download it. Roll in the Hole is the polar opposite of that concept. When I first launched the game I had no idea that I was about to play a game that involved rolling a portly panda around a 2D environment, collecting ice lollies and launching myself into a swirling vortex. In all seriousness though, who would think that? I’m still not entirely sure if the people at Eccentricity Games weren’t having some kind of weird fever dream when they thought up the concept for the game but, to be honest, some of the best mobile games out there are the ones that keep us playing because, for the life of us, we can’t figure out what the hell is going on.
The gameplay in Roll in the Hole revolves around rolling a slightly podgy panda down a series of slopes and inclines, through some hazardous areas every so often, and ending up swirling through a portal that’s located at the end of each level. Just like most other puzzle games on the iOS devices each level has a series of ways you can finish them, you could either just get to the end of the level, very simply, and move on to the next stage that way; the completionists among us couldn’t possibly stand for that though. We’d have to do the same thing we’ve done in all other games of this ilk, we need to 100% each level. Completely finishing a level in Roll in the Hole would involve not only getting to the end of the level, but also collecting all 3 of the, sometimes hidden, ice lollies that appear throughout the level. Sometimes they’re in the path that you’ll already be travelling but sometimes, and more often than not, they’ll be somewhere off the beaten path. Somewhere where you’re going to have to work for it, and they may not even always be visible. It’s these ice lolly collections that will have most people coming back for more time and time again; and I don’t blame them.
When you download Roll in the Hole, and I’m certain at least some of you will, you’ll be getting a game with some really nice looking, crisp, graphics that look very good on the high definition display of the iPad. Roll in the Hole also has some solid controls that are easy to pick up, even for people that don’t play games on a regular basis. The hardest part about the controls is the fact that it’s often difficult to ascertain, until it’s too late anyway, just how much momentum you’ve gained by simply touching each side of the device. This can cause you to overshoot some of the platforms that often require a high level of precision, however, when this does happen you’ll find yourself blaming yourself more than you would blame the game; it’s just a case of learning from your mistakes and trying again, and again, and sometimes even again.
Roll in the Hole is a very fun little iOS game that people of all ages will enjoy, even if it is practically impossible to understand what the game is exactly and where the concept for it could possibly have come from.
Remember those days when we were growing up, when mobile phones first were getting popular with people other than business men? Those times at school when we would pass around the phone of that one person who happened to have a Nokia phone just so we could play Snake? Perhaps you’re a little older and you never had that, you would have had Tron though. One of the most memorable sections of Tron, both the film and the game, is the light cycle section. Now imagine a game where the light cycles from Tron and the snakes from Snake got together and made something totally outrageous. Welcome to Hard Lines.
The gameplay within Hard Lines is just as you would expect from a game that mashes together the concepts from those two classic titles. You’re given the task of moving around the map collecting small glowing objects which, as well as giving you points that count towards that all important high score, will make your snake even bigger. The bigger the snake is, the more difficult it is to direct through the maze of other players.
The other aspect of the game, the Tron aspect, is that while you’re playing the game other, computer controlled, characters will periodically join you in trying to collect those shining, glowing, objects. Having more and more people join the game as you’re playing is one of the things that make Hard Lines such a difficult game to play at times. Once a fair few people have joined, if you’re not looking in about eight different directions at once, then you’re going to end up losing the game pretty quickly.
The controls in Hard Lines are easy enough to pick up, players simply have to touch the screen and swipe their finger in the direction they want the snake to go. This control scheme is easy at first but after a while in the game, when there are multiple other snakes as well as your own one being much longer, things start to get a little hectic and swiping fingers all over the screen doesn’t feel anywhere near as precise as it did.
With Hard Lines you’re getting a fun, yet challenging, game that harkens back to some very classic games of our youth. The controls can be difficult to control under the pressure of the game at later levels but, for most people, that would probably make them feel right at home. The graphics of the game adds to the retro feel of the whole package and gives the player a sense of nostalgia that not a lot of games manage to pull off. Essentially, Hard Lines is a game that players who enjoyed Snake back in the good ol’ days are going to love. Anybody who didn’t play those old school games will probably still get a little kick out of it, just not as much or as quickly.