What better way to start the week than with a load more games to try out, or not as the case may be. If you’re an iOS gamer, whether on your way to work or just while you’ve got 5 minutes spare, then I’m sure there’s something within the confines of Mobile Monday that will whet your appetite a little bit. This week we’ve got Skull Kick, a game which, as the name implies, is all about kicking your skull as far as you can. Saving Moo HD which is actually more about using cows to attack aliens than it is about saving them. Extraction, a gorgeous little top down shooter from Shortround Games and lastly there’s SpinTrick, a crazy yet cute platforming game with colourful visuals and some weird and wonderful gameplay mechanics.
Read on for the full reviews of each game, get downloading and 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!
Quite a few games in the App Store have addictive qualities, they draw you back again and again either in an attempt to beat your own score, a friend’s score or even just because it has a certain charm that makes it unable to leave it alone for extended periods of time. Skull Kick, developed by Battery Acid Games is a game that has all the qualities of a game that’s addictive to most players but does it fall in the first category, or the second one? There’s only one way to find out.
As you would expect from a game with the title of ‘Skull Kick’ the aim of the game is to kick a skull (your own skull to be precise) as far as you possibly can. Yeah, you read that right. There’s no reason as to why you’ve got to kick your own skull as far as you can, not even the little bit of a story at the beginning of the game explains just why kicking his own skull as far as possible is so important to Skully but that’s the aim of the game so I suppose we’ll oblige him anyway. The skull is kicked by using an arrow at the start of the stage. The trajectory is set using the player’s touch on the screen and once you’ve set the angle of the kick, which makes a huge difference in how far the skulk gets kicked, all the player has to do is let go of the screen when the skull reaches their desired power level, Skully will then drop kick his skull as far as you’ve told him to; hopefully setting a record in the process.
There are a couple more things that the player needs to be aware of after they’ve kicked the skull. Firstly there are three items along the course of the kick that have the potential to either help or hinder your score. Graves and coffins will help you get the best score possible, the former allowing Skully to give the skull another cheeky little kick and the latter giving him a power up to use which can give the skull the ability to fly, allow another kick and a few other things. The shovel and the laid down coffin however, will hinder performance by slowing down the skull or simply stopping it all together and, once the skull stops completely, the game is over.
Skull Kick is a game that tries really hard to be addictive and, in some parts at least, it succeeds. If you’ve got a few friends round and you’re playing this while taking a break from playing something else, or while watching a film, then you may have fun passing it around. Sooner or later (more likely sooner) Skull Kick will start to get extremely repetitive, there’s only so many times you can kick a skull into the distance before you start to question what you’re doing. If you want something competitive, quick and silly then you could do worse that Skull Kick, otherwise you wouldn’t be missing much by skipping it.
SAVING MOO HD:
I’ve said it quite a few times now, some games in the App Store have some very strange names. They meander between being descriptive or extremely vague, between something I’d want to play and something that I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. The best names, at least in my opinion, are the ones that let you know what the game is about without turning you away from buying it; in the speedy world of impulse purchases that’s massively important. As such I’m not sure where Saving Moo HD, a game developed by Espada Entertainment, stands. It’s descriptive enough to let people know what it’s about, saving cows, but is it something that people will want to play?
Gameplay revolves, as you would expect from the title of the game, around saving cows. In this case you’re saving your beloved bovine friends from the impending threat of alien abduction. In order to save the aforementioned cows you’re given the rather strange task of attaching weapons to their backs to fight off the plethora of aliens that with come and attempt to take them away. The cows seem to be blissfully unaware that they’re being used to save the world, or at least the farm, from invasion and carry on tirelessly eating grass throughout the attack.
In order to use the weapons, player must collect Moo Sacks, which are generated by the cows in much the same way as sunflowers generate sunlight in Plants Vs. Zombies, players then use these Moo Sacks to create weapons that they’ll place on the cows back to fight off the aliens. All of the weapons are based on food (you are on a farm after all) and many players will enjoy seeing just how different varieties of food are used in an offensive manner. The other thing that Moo Sacks are used for is summoning additional cows, the more cows there are on the field of battle, the more Moo Sacks can be created and the more weapons you can have firing at any one time. Saving Moo HD is very much a game where resource management is hugely important; run out of Moo Sacks and you can kiss that lovely field goodbye, so it’s important to keep a few left over just in case the aliens manage to destroy a weapon, so you can quickly add another and keep your level of firepower up.
With good looking visuals and audio, as well as addictive and entertaining gameplay, Saving Moo HD is a game that everybody should at least try. If you’re a fan of Plants Vs. Zombies, or any type of resource management game then you’re going to enjoy playing this game. The balance between humour and gameplay is an extremely thin line but it’s a line that Espada Entertainment didn’t seem to have much problem with. There’s nothing better than beating back those pesky aliens anyway. Welcome to Earth, meet our protectors; cows.
EXTRACTION: PROJECT OUTBREAK:
The iPad has enjoyed some pretty decent games over the past year or so, and not just in terms of gameplay, some of those games have had some very impressive visuals considering the power of the device. Games such as Infinity Blade and Anomaly HD instantly spring to mind when talking about games that have great looking graphics on the iPad and now Shortround Games have added to that list with the release of Extraction. Extraction is a top down shooter that prides itself on being able to be played using only a single finger. No on-screen analog sticks or players attempting to hold the iPad in an uncomfortable way just to play a game, just simple, gorgeous looking fun.
The story of Extraction centres on the idea that you’re the only person capable of sorting out a given situation, working for a secret organisation you’re tasked with entering a place, sorting out the problems and reaching the extraction. It’s a pretty simple affair and one that players will be able to pick up without much trouble. The first level (as usual) is simply a tutorial level and as long as new players pay close attention to what’s being said, as soon as they enter the second level they’ll already be old masters, moving, gunning down enemies and collecting ammo and power-ups with the best of them.
To control the character in Extraction, the player only need to use a single finger. When enemies appear, a quick swipe over them will highlight them and let the character know that these are the enemies he should be shooting, then it’s just a matter of tapping the screen at the location that you want the character to move to and that’s that, he’ll continue to shoot at the highlighted enemies until they’re dead, or you are; all players have to worry about is constantly dodging and weaving any enemies that may come out of the woodwork while you’re dispatching their friends. Once all the enemies on a given map have been killed the extraction point opens and the player has to walk to this area to complete the level.
Another aspect of the game that players of RPGs may enjoy playing is the ability to level up your weapons, upgrade them or even simply purchase better ones. Quite soon into the game you’ll find yourself getting overwhelmed with the sheer amount of enemies coming your way, the ability to kill them as quickly and efficiently as possible become hugely important very early on and this is where the upgrade system comes into play. Once players have finished a mission they’ll be able to use the money they’ve accumulated to buy new weapons or upgrade their existing ones, either way it’s something that you’re going to need to do if you intend to keep playing; which you will.
Extraction is a very impressive game, it’s visually stunning and the fact that Shortround Games have managed to create a top down shooter that doesn’t use on-screen analog sticks should be especially commended, proving to everyone that touch controls can be fully utilized into just about any genre of game. If you’re looking for a top down shooter for the iPad then you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by not getting this game. Even if you didn’t think you were a fan of the genre, if any game will change your mind, Extraction is it.
Every so often I’ll come across a game for the iOS devices makes me sit back and just stare for a little while. It might be that I’m amazed by what developers are capable of doing on such a notoriously closed system, it could be that the game is obviously so addictive that I’m wary of even pushing the start button or, as it the case with the Ablemagic developed SpinTrip, I’m sitting back to try and work out if the designers of a game are geniuses or simply high. SpinTrip is a side scrolling platform game where the main character, which you choose from a selection of two, rolls around in a giant wheel picking up creatures which will help you traverse the environment as well as destroying the enemies. Oh and you’re constantly followed by a strange old man floating on a cloud. Yeah.
For the majority of your time in the game you’ll be jumping around the level in your little wheel and collecting the little objects that litter the path. In this sense everything in SpinTrip plays out just like your average side-scrolling platforming game, collect all the items until you reach the end, walk through the gate and do the same thing all over again on a different level. The difference in SpinTrip is that you’ll often find yourself up against some kind of obstacle, either an enemy or some environmentally based challenge that you’ve got to overcome before you can proceed.
In order to overcome these challenges you’ve got to pick up specific Chibs that are dotted around each level, each one of these little creatures gives you a specific ability when activated and they can only be used a certain number of times before they’re expended, so you’ve got to be careful to only use the abilities when you really need them too. The abilities that the Chibs give you range from enabling you to shoot at enemies to destroy them to turning the wheel that you’re riding into a spinning death trap by adding sharpened spikes that cut through ice.
The controls that are used in SpinTrap are extremely difficult to use and are the primary barrier for entry and even when the player has learnt how to use all the button properly, the controls will still be the main cause of problems and deaths throughout the game. SpinTrap utilizes the dreaded on-screen buttons that plague the iDevices with buttons for left and right and jump as well as lots of other buttons to activate the different Chibs and use their abilities. Most players will frequently find themselves missing jumps, attacks and other things simply due to not being able to press the jump button accurately while trying to watch the game, or just a using a Chib when you were meaning to do something else. While this isn’t necessarily the fault of the developer it is the most annoying part of the game.
Overall SpinTrip is a good game that’s trapped inside the confines of a terrible control scheme. The gameplay is certainly there and the fact that you have to think about your actions, as well as which Chibs you’re going to need beforehand adds a nice little mental aspect what would already be a pretty solid platforming title. If on-screen control methods don’t annoy you as much as they annoy most people then you’re probably going to have some fun here, if they do, however, it’s probably best to steer clear of SpinTrip for the time being.