Mobile Monday – Astroslugs, Baby Monkey (Going Backwards on a Pig), Staunch Defence, Legacy: Mystery Mansion
We’ve got some really special games for you to have a go on this week. One of them even got one of those coveted 10/10 banners. I wonder which one that could have been! First up we’ve got Astroslugs, a gorgeous looking puzzle game that’s about as addictive as it is strange. Then comes Baby Monkey, a game that if you listen to the Godcast on a weekly basis, you shouldn’t need any introduction to. Staunch Defence comes next, a tower defence game with a different, all made by a single person. Last, but by no means least, there’s Legacy: Mystery Mansion, a ‘match-3’ style game in the same vein as Bejeweled but with a little bit of a difference.
Read on, see what you want to play 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!
Given the sheer amount of iOS titles I review on a weekly basis I rarely get the time to finish them, I play for a couple of hours, get a feel for the game, and then write my review. Astroslugs was a whole different monster, compelling me to put hours upon hours into the title, finishing it and leaving myself begging for the moment when the developers, Bit Bandits, add even more levels to the strangely addictive title. What makes the game so addictive though? Is it the colourful graphics, the laundry list of Game Center achievements that walk a fine line between being challenging yet simple? Or is it the “I’ll just see how easy the next level is” gameplay mechanic that permeates every inch of the game?
The gameplay in Astroslugs has the player attempt to fit various shapes into a larger, more complex shapes. These smaller shapes are in the form of planets and can only be fitted into the larger shapes in a very specific way. That’s where the challenge comes in, trying to figure out exactly where each individual shape may go. You may manage to put every piece into the puzzle except the last one, at which point you’ll have to start the whole thing over again, however, this never gets frustrating; it just means that you’ve got to try harder.
After a while, if you haven’t figured out where everything goes the game will display a little question mark in the bottom left of the screen. Tapping on this question mark will display part of the solution although, thankfully, it never tells you the entire answer, giving you the chance to at least figure some of it out yourself. At the time of release there are 7 worlds in Astroslugs, all of which have multiple levels within them, then there’s the promise of even more levels yet to come which all together means that when you do purchase the game, and you will, you’re certainly going to be getting your money’s worth out of it.
All of the visuals apparent in Astroslugs are very pleasing on the eye, all of them consisting of a very cartoon style of animation which will appeal to people of all ages and of all gaming backgrounds. The controls, however, could potentially be a barrier for entry for people who don’t play games often, especially puzzle games. It is a game that, even if players find it difficult at first, they should keep playing, the more it is played the easier is is to see potential solutions quickly and, as a consequence, the more addictive the game becomes. Although this could be seen as a bad thing when you quickly run out of levels to play.
If you haven’t already started downloading Astroslugs after reading this review then you’re already missing out. Its a colourful, fun-filled, game which appeals to gamers of all ages. The puzzles will keep most players entertained for hours on end and the promise of even more levels to come will ensure that players will come flocking back as soon as the update is released.
If you’ve ever listened to the GodisaGeek Godcast then you’ll already know that we’re pretty much obsessed with the Parry Gripp song about a baby monkey who likes to casually ride, backwards, on a pig. When I found out that the internet sensation had been made into an iPhone game by the guys over at Kihon there was never any doubt about whether or not I was going to review it. The fates had already decided that for me. When a game comes out based on what may well be the greatest song on the internet with gorgeous looking visuals that puts me in control of a monkey, riding backwards on a pig, it takes a stronger man than I to avoid pressing that download button.
The gameplay in Baby Monkey tasks you with controlling an unstoppable pig through a variety of obstacles in order to keep the aforementioned baby monkey on its back. Crashing through crates and other obstacles while the monkey is still on board will cause him to fall off and the level to end, the main objective being to stay on the pig as long as possible.
In order to increase your score even further, and beat any of those high scores that anyone may have left on your device, there are numerous bananas dotted around the game. Collecting the bananas will increase your score significantly but you’ve got to be careful, some of the bananas are a trap trying to lure you into a jump so that you’ll crash when you land again. These little tricks means that you’ve always got to be keeping an eye out not only for what obstacles might be next, but what might be after that one too. Collecting the wrong banana, at the wrong time, could spell the end for your turn, forcing you to start all over again.
It’s impossible to talk about the Baby Monkey iPhone game without talking about the Parry Grip song, which is back in full force, the main menu has an amazing 8-bit styled version of the song which will both make you remember the good old days of 8-bit gaming, but will also have you humming the song to yourself for the next few hours. Whether that’s good or bad I’ll leave up to you to decide.
The controls are really simple to pick up, only consisting of two buttons, there’s a jump button for baby monkey, to help him collect all of the bananas he may want, then there’s a second jump button for the pig, to help with all those pesky obstacles that you’re going to come across while playing. The controls don’t pose any kind of barrier to entry and almost anyone who enjoys the song itself will be able to enjoy the game, mastering it with ease.
At the end of the day, despite Baby Monkey being based off of an amazingly addictive YouTube video, the game itself is excellent. The quality of the sprites, along with the animations, is of a very high quality and the gameplay will keep you playing for hours, whether that’s to beat a high score or just to listen to the song some more is up to you, either way it’s a game that’s well worth a download as long as you’ve got an iPhone 3GS or above; the graphics are so high quality that the game simply won’t even install on anything less.
Over the past couple of years there has been a massive boom in the amount of big budget development studios making the move over to the iOS devices, the guys from Bizzare Creations started up Hogrocket to create Tiny Invaders, Epic acquired Chair to create Infinity Blade, the list goes on. This industry shift of the big studios often means that there isn’t much breathing room for small indie developers to be able to showcase their work, often being buried under the sheer amount of content that’s being released onto the App Store on a daily basis. Staunch Defence is a tiny independent game in the same vein as all other independent games of this ilk, it’s just sat on the App Store waiting to be noticed and, again like other independent games, it deserves it.
The gameplay in Staunch Defence is just like any other tower defence game you might have played, place the towers and buildings along the path that the creeps are going to follow, await the oncoming hordes and pray to the gods that you’ve placed enough down to obliterate them as they walk past. Once the wave has passed, or hopefully been defeated, it’s time to repair any damaged defences, play some more (depending on what the next wave of enemies is going to be, generally you’ll need more and more defences with each wave though), and perform the whole cycle again.
What makes the gameplay in Staunch Defence a little bit different from your average, run-of-the-mill tower defence game however, is the very RTS addition of resource management. Usually in these types of game, you’ll only need money to buy better and better defences, money which drops from the creeps in various quantities, in Staunch Defence, as well as the usual need for money there’s also the need for building materials for use in those ever required towers. Placing particular buildings on top of resource deposits will allow you to collect what you’re going to need but you’re going to have to add it to the already mountainous list of things that you’re going to need to keep an eye on during a usual session.
The visuals are the most disappointing aspect of Staunch Defence and while there certainly is enough gameplay to keep people interested for a good deal of time, there’s a huge chance that people that literally judge an iOS game by its cover – i.e. the screenshots in the App Store – would be instantly turned away from the idea of giving this game even a secondary glance. It would be nice to see Staunch Defence remade with high quality, high definition, visuals but that’s probably never going to happen so we should just continue to enjoy it for what it is.
Staunch Defence is a very good take on the relatively stale tower defence genre, the resource management aspect as well as the usual defending will keep even the most stalwart of defenders on their toes. Unfortunately due to the severely low quality of the visuals Staunch Defence may not get played as much as it otherwise would. It’s still an enjoyable game, it just doesn’t look all that great.
The iOS App Store is almost literally flooded with games of the ‘Match-3’ variety. It all started with the original Bejeweled but the genre has taken off with almost a new entry into the genre being released for the iPhone or iPad every single day. Legacy: Mystery Mansion is another one of those games but, in order to make it a little bit different from the plethora of other titles, and to make it stand out a little bit, it’s got a very interesting twist. Developed by DNA Studios it’s going to take something special to stand out in an environment that’s so overpopulated. Let’s see if Legacy: Mystery Mansion has what it takes.
When you first start up Legacy you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s simply another Bejeweled clone. That’s exactly what it looks like and, at least for the first part of the game, that’s what it plays like too. Match up three of the same type of object and watch them disappear into oblivion. That’s the same right? What makes Legacy so different though, is that instead of working towards a point goal, you’re tasked with recovering pieces of antiques from within the puzzle itself by getting them to the very bottom row. Once the pieces are at the bottom you’ll collect them, collecting all of them will complete the puzzle and set that particular room as complete. Completing all of the rooms within the house will finish the game.
The visuals are one of the things that seriously let down the game on the whole. The tone of everything is so dark and dismal that it’s quite difficult to enjoy the game and feel good about doing anything within it. There’s a reason why puzzle games are generally bright and cheerful, it’s because they’re meant to be casual, happy. Legacy isn’t that, everything is dreary and while it does fit in with the overarching story of the game it doesn’t do anything in terms of making people want to keep playing, or even keep coming back more than a couple of times. One of the worst parts about the whole presentation is the text. Once a puzzle is completed and all of the parts within a specific area are collected, the game will display a short piece of text that explains what the piece is in order to flesh out some of the story. This text is absolutely unreadable. I was reviewing the iPhone version of the game on the iPad, doubling the size of the text, and this still didn’t help me in being able to read the particular font that was chosen. A massive oversight on the developers part as 90% of what little story there is, is explained in these short pieces of text; which are impossible to read. The iPad version of the game is a little better, with the text at least being legible, but that doesn’t help players who may not have an iPad yet still want to experience the story of Legacy: Mystery Mansion, they’re going to have to contend with squinting at the screen in the hopes of being able to make something out.
If you’re a fan of the ‘Match-3’ genre of puzzle games, and you want something a little extra than just trying to beat a certain amount of points, then Legacy: Mystery Mansion is the game that you’ve been looking for. Despite the promising start and how challenging and appealing the actual gameplay is, the lack of colour in the overall palette, coupled with the text being so difficult to read, means that it’s hard to recommend this game to anyone other than hardcore ‘Match-3’ fans. It’s worth a look at least, just be warned, don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed.