This week’s Mobile Monday will not be written by the regular writer, as our Reviews Editor Martin Baker is off galavanting on his honeymoon. Be sure to tweet him congratulations @CyberGrim! Back to business though and this week we’re looking at an interesting take on a Poker title with Chillingo’s Poker Pals, the much loved Scribblenauts game that has arrived on iOS devices, a game that you’ll all have heard of by now in Jetpack Joyride and finally, an interesting take on both tower defence and RTS gaming, in Anthill.
Let’s waste no time then and see which titles are worthy of a download in this week’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! Normal service will resume next week with Martin back at the helm.
Ah the grand old widow-maker that is Poker, it’s been a while since we’ve had a new game based on thee! Sarcasm aside, Chillingo have come up trumps with a new take on an ancient pastime, which veterans and newcomers alike will enjoy. Whilst most gamers will pull out their iPhone to play a quick burst of an action game, or a puzzle game, some of us have been secretly obsessed over turn-based titles like Words With Friends, but move aside as there is a new kid in town.
What we have here is a title based loosely around the rules of Texas Hold ‘Em, but the five cards you possess are played onto a grid where you will be tasked with making as many different types of hand as possible. In a similar way that you may try and remove multiple jewels in Bejeweled, in Poker Pals you are placing cards onto the grid to create huge scoring hands, that traverse the entirety of the grid. Think Scrabble, but poker hands instead of words.
Supporting push notification and game centre, Poker Pals is a fabulous idea that falls into the “Why did nobody else think of this?” category of games. You can play against differently skilled AI opponents if you are tired of waiting for your friend (or a random player you’ve been matched against) too, but these aren’t ever really that difficult. If you’re a fan of Words with Friends or Scrabble yet also have an interest in Poker (but this really isn’t a necessity) then you’d be crazy not to grab Poker Pals.
By now Halfbrick have established themselves as a huge player in the mobile gaming market, especially on iOS platforms, yet they have even expanded their horizons to fully fledged home consoles, with the Xbox LIVE Arcade release of Fruit Ninja Kinect. Barry Steakfries has become a household name (well, maybe not – but let’s work on that people, okay?) and he returns for Jetpack Joyride to enact yet more heroic fun on the world. Barry is most definitely a hapless hero, and this time he has stumbled across a window that shows a jetpack, and…yes, you guessed it, he grabs the jetpack (illegally, it would seem) and goes for a joyride.
On an iPhone, often the best games are the simplest and it doesn’t come much simpler than Jetpack Joyride. Barry will run along the ground happily until you place your finger onto the screen. Upon doing so Barry will fly upwards with his jetpack and will do so until you let go. The trick is to avoid obstacles by pressing and releasing the screen to make Barry rise and fall, collecting coins along the way. There are also varying power-ups which you can use until you get hit and revert back to plain ol’ Barry, sans power-up. A recent update has brought even more of these power-ups into play, even bringing back the motorbike from Monster Dash; a nice callback.
With game centre achievements, a fantastical cartoon look and a roulette mini-game after each session, Jetpack Joyride is the very definition of addictive, and you’ll find yourself (like our News Editor, Terry Lucy) saying “Just one more go” every night before you fall asleep. If you’ve somehow never heard of the game, buy it instantly, you’ll love it.
Seeing this title appear on the App Store was a very pleasant surprise indeed, even at the £2.99 price level, as the Nintendo DS title was a lot of fun made even better with a superior sequel. The basis of Scibblenauts is that if you can think of it, you can make it appear with the on-screen keyboard, which you will use to solve the puzzles and help Maxwell collect the Starite and thus finish the level. Simple yet insanely deep, you can lose time simply seeing if the game can keep up with your own intellect and can replicate your thoughts onto the screen – which it nearly always can.
Scribblenauts Remix is based more upon the second game though, so adjectives are in for this iOS version which means you can make a “really big cat” appear, instead of a plain old “cat”. The issue that has arised in all Scribblenauts titles though, is that most puzzles are solved by simply making a jetpack appear and using it to fly to the Starite. The other issue with this iOS version is that it the puzzles on offer don’t pose too much of a problem difficulty wise and you may well finish them all off quite quickly.
The price point may put some off, but Scribblenauts Remix is still a hugely unique idea on the puzzle genre which deserves to be played, even if you’ve experienced the prior Nintendo DS versions. With a bit of luck we’ll get some more levels soon too, but this is a definitely a title you should be playing.
ANTHILL: TACTICAL TRAIL DEFENSE
Tower defence games have been a hugely popular genre on touch-screen mobile devices, but mixing with Real Time Strategy doesn’t always go well. Thankfully, Anthill is a roaring success in this department and as much as it is a tower defence game, it is also an RTS game. As the title suggests, you will take control of an anthill and will be using trails (which are how you direct your ants) to defend the anthill. However, there’s so much more to this title and you’ll soon find yourself needing to recharge your device just to continue playing.
Some of your ants will just exist to collect food for the colony, food which the soldier ants have killed previously. You won’t have individual control over each ant, but that’s a good thing otherwise the title would be impossible to play. You simply draw the trail for your heroic ants and start collecting food, but quickly you’ll be under attack from other insects. The strategy element comes into play here and you have to continue collecting food (mining for currency, if you will) to enable you to create more units, which in turn beats the other insects so you can collect yet more food. This all happens over numerous waves which get gradually more difficult as you progress, but the most impressive thing about the entire title is just how well everything works – so fluently and efficiently.
On top of all this (which at first seems a little overwhelming, but once you play more seems simple) you can even upgrade individual units as you progress, making the collector ants faster at grabbing food, or making the soldier ants stronger in battle. It’s very deep for an iOS game, but also quite repetitive (as is the nature of the genre) yet it has to be respected what has been achieved on such a device. This is a fine example of both a Tower Defence game and an RTS title and if you like either (or both) you should most certainly be getting some Anthill in your life.