What day is it again? Oh! It’s Monday! Another week has started and you’ve probably got ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ by the Boomtown Rats going around in your head, or you’re at least feeling the same sentiments, but we’re here to make everything a little bit better.
We’ve got a good selection of games for you this week ranging from the relaxing (depending how you’re playing it) Saloon Poker, playing games with your Facebook friends has never been so easy. Next up we’ve got Frantic Frigate a game that does exactly what the name says, puts you in a frigate and lets the gameplay get a little…erm…frantic. Ship It! is a game that has you filling up and sending off shipments and finally there’s Whale Trail, a crazy little game that’s due to come out this week.
Have a read, see what you want, and go play some games
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!
Everybody likes a game of poker every now and again, whether it’s for money or just for fun. There’s nothing more satisfying than bluffing your way to a win, forcing your opponents to fold when you’ve almost literally got nothing in your hand. A two and a four could, potentially, be a flush; as long as you’re a good liar. Chillingo, knowing full well about peoples love of a good poker game, have published Saloon Poker, a classic poker game with some interesting Facebook integration and a cartoon visual style. Is there anyone that this game wouldn’t appeal to?
The gameplay relies heavily on standard poker rules and if you’re even remotely interested in Saloon Poker, I’m going to assume you’re already familiar with the basic rules of poker. All of the basic elements of Texas Hold ’em poker are brought to life quite well and everything is easy to understand, sit at a table and start betting, lying, cheating and scamming your way to a profit.
One of the more interesting aspects of the gameplay in Saloon Poker is the Facebook integration, every time you sit down at a table it will automatically be populated by people who are already playing the game, via Facebook. You can send messages to them, check on their stats and see how much money they’ve been able to win/lose through the course of their Saloon Poker careers.
The art style that has been chosen for Saloon Poker is a cartoony animated style, similar to something that Disney would do, especially with the backgrounds. The visuals themselves look good and all the assets for the cards and tables are all presented at a high standard, it just seems like an odd choice of visual style for a game that revolves purely around how well you’re able to lie. The western theme I understand, it is a game of Texas Hold ’em poker after all, but the cartoon nature of the entire thing is a little bit odd. Looks fantastic, just…odd.
The controls are very easy to understand, especially if you’ve played Texas Hold ’em poker before. If not, you’ll have more problems with how the game works than with the controls. There’s a few things that need to be learned and you’ll probably fail miserably at your first couple of games, but soon enough you’ll get the hang of things and you’ll be checking and raising, folding and making hands on the river with the best of them. One of the best things about Texas Hold ’em poker that ha’s been translated very well across to Saloon Poker is that once you’ve learned the basics of the game it’s no longer about how good your hand is, it’s how good you make others think it is.
If you’re a fan of poker then there’s little doubt that you’ll also be a fan of this cartoon iteration of the game. You can sit down with complete strangers, yet real people, and just play a quiet game of poker to relax or you can get your own Facebook friends together and have a heated battle of wits, skills and that ever important poker face. However you choose to play the Saloon Poker you’re bound to have fun; even if you’re not a regular poker player. Jump in and try your luck!
With the sea of iOS titles being as they are it’s often difficult to find a game that does something a little bit different, something which, if you’ll pardon the pun, pushes the boat out. Well, Frantic Frigate from Berserk is one of those games. There are probably a few games out there that have been similar to it, maybe even a few that play just as well, but I haven’t seen one that offers up the same level of polish as Frantic Frigate. At the end of the day there are few things more satisfying, on the iDevices or on any other gaming device, as zooming around the open ocean blasting away at sharks, other ships and treasure chests. Well, if there is, I’ve yet to find it anyway.
The gameplay element of Frantic Frigate is easy enough to get a grasp of, just sail around the map trying to avoid (while shooting) other ships, sharks and the occasional treasure filled chest of wonders that may pop up. The aim is to stay alive until the timer runs out, at which point the boss appears. Once the boss is in the level you’ve got to do the same thing with them, zoom around the map, shooting them while avoiding being blown into tiny bits yourself. Once the boss is defeated you do the whole thing over again. At least another two times, in the first level anyway.
Shooting the treasure chests, as well as the other objects within the game (to a lesser extent), will earn you money. This money can then be spent in the in-game shop in order to unlock upgrades for your ship. These upgrades come in various flavours from speeding up your vessel to increasing the damage it does with its cannons. These will ensure that, when used correctly, you’ll always have to upper hand in battle. Another thing that this system does is force the player to replay the same mission over and over again in order to earn enough money to allow them to upgrade their ship, to make getting to the next stage even easier. It takes a great deal of clever game design to make a player want to play the exact same mission over and over again and Frantic Frigate gets it down to an art.
The controls are the most disappointing thing about Frantic Frigate, the rest of the game feels so well designed that the control system just feels a little bit tacked on. You’re given the option of three different control methods – tilt, touch or an analog stick. Unfortunately even though you’re given an option of how you want to play, none of them make the game enjoyable to play, even the easiest one (the touch controls) will have you putting your finger on the screen where you want the ship to go. This means that you’ll spend most of your time with the ship underneath your finger; which makes it extremely difficult to avoid oncoming bullets from enemy ships.
Overall Frantic Frigate is a game that’s designed well and has great gameplay but, like a lot of iOS games, is ultimately let down by its control scheme. I’d still recommend the game to anyone looking for a game they can pick up and play quickly but the fact of the matter is that if you can’t get along with the controls in the first five minutes of your time with the game then it’s unlikely things are going to change.
Ever wanted to play a game where your whole task is to fill up ships with their cargo and send them on their way? Or does that sound too much like doing work? It did to me too, but that’s before I got my hands on Ship It! from Coracle, a game where you do just that. Ship It! feels like the perfect companion game to Harbour Master, once you’ve had your fill of getting the ships in and out of the docks in Harbour Master, switch over to Ship It! and start filling those ships up while they’re in the docks.
The gameplay in Ship It! tasks you with getting each of the ships that will arrive at your dock filled with whatever they need (people, cargo, grain, etc) and then sending them on their way on time. Players will be penalised for keeping ships waiting for too long as well as for not being able to put another ship in that particular space. Ships will arrive into their docks and when they’re ready to be filled, an exclamation mark will appear on the line at the bottom of the screen. The player then has to take the piece of cargo specific to that ship and drag it onto a grey circle above the vessel. Once this is done a timer will start, this is how long it takes for the ship to fill up. When the bar has filled to the top a green tick appears and the player must then tap this is order to send the ship on its way.
The main point of Ship It! is to see how well you can manage your time, ships will constantly be coming into the docks and asking to be filled and sent on their merry way and it’s your job to make sure that happens as smoothly as my managing your time perfectly so as to not leave any one ship waiting for too long in the dock ready to go leave. Some ships take longer than others to fill up so the last ship into the docks isn’t always the last one out too. This means that players will constantly have to stay on their toes to know which ship to allow to leave next.
The controls are simple enough to learn, all the player is tasked with doing is dragging objects from the conveyer belt at the bottom of the screen and then placing them in the correct ship. The hardest part with the control is changing the view to look at the correct ship. This can be done either by swiping left or right on the ships themselves or tapping a colour on the bar just above the conveyer belt. I found that both of these methods of control never worked in the way I wanted – the swiping method always seemed to be going too fast or too slow causing me to lose valuable seconds, and therefore points, and the tapping method always required me to tap each of the coloured bars 2 or 3 times. Again, losing me valuable seconds.
Ship It! is a fun little game that has fallen pretty much all the way under the radar. Despite its problem with the controls when it comes to changing which ship you’re looking at, the game on the whole is quite fun to play, even for extended periods. The game also falls under the ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’ heading, it’s easy enough to learn how to do all the things you’re required to on the game but its quite another to learn how to be as efficient as possible in all of it. Certainly worth a download, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Some iOS games are a little bit crazy, others are downright mental, then there are a few game that are both of these added together and sprinkled with a dash of pure insanity. Whale Trail is one of these games. Playing as Willow, the flying whale (!), players must try and keep her flying by collecting the little coloured collectibles. If, for any reason, your Whale Trail reaches zero, then you’ll soon be falling through the clouds and into the waiting hands of the evil Barry Von Barry. If that doesn’t sound crazy enough for you then download the game, play it for five minutes with the sound on and then come back and tell me whether you’re willing to believe me about the sheer madness that’s involved. Yes? Then let’s continue.
The gameplay involves, as I mentioned earlier, keeping Willow the Whale flying by collecting plenty of coloured spheres. These replenishes your whale trail and can be seen behind Willow. If the whale trail disappears then you haven’t collected enough of the spheres to keep flying and you’ll end up falling through the clouds. Throughout each of the areas (which are seamless) you’ll just go from one area to the next with the background changing. There are thunder clouds dotted around and hitting any of these will cause Willow to get a little bit of an electric shock, taking her multiplier down by one level. Think of the multiplier like the rings in Sonic, as long as you have some then you’re fine, lose them all however and get attacked, and you’ll be looking at a game over screen in no time.
The controls of Whale Trail are about as simple as you could hope to get; a single button. To control Willow all the player has to do is tap the screen, doing this will cause her to start flying upwards. How far she’s able to fly upwards for is very much dependent on the momentum she’s got at that moment in time, enough of it and you’re laughing, sailing off the Thunder Bros (those pesky clouds) with ease. If the opposite is the case, and you’ve got no momentum, then you don’t have much of a choice but to, as elegantly as you can, faceplant the cloud and get yourself electrocuted a little.
The style of Whale Trail is rather visually pleasing, and is very reminiscent of old progressive rock videos, very psychedelic indeed. The music adds to the feeling by being both weird and amazing at the same time. I first started playing the game with the sound muted, as I do with most games when I first start them, but as soon as I’d put the music on for the first time I couldn’t imagine ever playing it without it again.
Whale Trail is an amazingly addictive little game that, even though you won’t understand the reason, you won’t be able to put down for very long before it’s back in your hands. The music will keep you entertained as much as the game will and the mere thought of being able to potentially top your own score, or other people’s, will keep you coming back for more, time and time again.