It doesn’t even seem like it’s been a week since I wrote the last one of these but here we are again, another Monday afternoon so that can only mean that there’s another Mobile Monday article to read, maybe you’ll see something you’ll like, there’s certainly enough here to keep most people going for at least a week. First we’ve got Star Marine: Infinite Ammo! A crazy little side scrolling shooter game in the same vein as those 8-bit games we all loved all those years ago. Next is Greedy Penguins, an environmental puzzle game from Shamrock Games where you have to feed penguins; simple enough. Doodle Devil comes next and puts the player in the position of a God, creating something out of nothing; well, very little at least. Lastly, we’ve got Chuck’s Challenge, a puzzle game that gives the player a plethora of challenges to solve, and with a hundred of them to go on you should be busy for a while.
That’s the summary of what we’ve got, read on to get to the full reviews.
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!
STAR MARINE: INFINITE AMMO!:
There was a time in gaming when everything looked pretty much the same. All the developers only had a small amount of memory to try and squeeze their game on to, so invariably the graphics tended to take a back seat; made up of sprites of about 20 pixels for the most part. Still, a lot of us have a fondness of those old-school styles, you just have to listen to the Saint & Greensie podcast to hear two grown men wax lyrical about things most of us had forgotten about by the time we hit double figures. That being said, retro gaming is undoubtedly making a comeback and Star Marine! Infinite Ammo is one game for the iOS devices that knows this all too well. Developed by GlitchSoft (the guys that brought us Destructopus from a couple of weeks back) Star Marine! Infinite Ammo is a game straight out of the 80s; but should it have stayed there?
The gameplay is exactly what you would expect from a game that’s this reminiscent of those classic games that we all played as kids. It’s a 2D shooter in the same vein as Mega Man and the player is tasked with making their way from the left side of the screen where they start, to the right side of the screen where the exit is located. There are plenty of enemies to make this transition a little more difficult four our stalwart hero (who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Space Marines of Warhammer 40k fame). These enemies vary from being small and fast to huge. All of them require the player to utilise slightly different tactics to take them down and figuring out how to do this without getting yourself killed is half the fun.
As well as the main campaign mode of the game there are also a set of challenges that can be completed. These are simple enough and exactly what you would expect from challenges within a shooter and while they’re not revolutionary in any way the developers didn’t really need to include them in order to add anything to the game, the main campaign mode is good enough for most people, but the fact that they’re there means that the people that really love the game (and there’ll be a few, I’m sure) will have something to keep them occupied for a little while longer.
If you’re a fan of the 8-bit generation then Star Marine! Infinite Ammo is a game that you certainly should pick up. The aesthetics alone guarantee it to be an interesting game to look at and – thankfully – it’s just as interesting to play. It’s just as hard as those old-school games we all remember in sections too! The controls could have done with a little bit of work as they seemed a little sluggish and unresponsive at times but they never caused me to lose a life or even put myself in any kind of real danger so they don’t affect the gameplay; they’re just a minor annoyance at times. If you’ve been looking for a game to quench those old-school thirsts then Star Marine! Infinite Ammo is the game for you. Give it a go!
Ever looked at a penguin on a documentary program, swallowing fish after fish whole, and thought to yourself “Wow, those penguins really are greedy”. No? Neither had I to be honest but when I saw a game based on the idea developed by Shamrock Games and published by Chillingo it certainly made me take another look, and do you know something? They’re right! They really are greedy! Greedy Penguins tasks the player with feeding a set number of penguins within a level by using the environment to their advantage. Be careful though, if you don’t manage to feed them, they can get a little vicious. You have been warned.
The main aim of Greedy Penguins is to feed all of the penguins within a level. Sometimes there is just a single penguin, making things easy (or so it seems at least) and sometimes there are flocks of them. However many there are, the goal remains the same; feed the penguins. There are fish suspended in nets within each of the levels and the colour of the fish corresponds with the colour of the penguin that needs feeding that particular fish. Feed a penguin the wrong coloured fish and it’s game over so you’ve got to be particularly careful with the order in which you release them.
As with any good puzzle game the main mechanics of Greedy Penguins are straightforward, feed the penguins, after a couple of levels you’ll be able to see where the game is going to try and trip you up later down the line, and sure enough it does exactly what you were expecting, adding more penguins and a lot more mechanics to the levels. Not game mechanics though, no, real mechanics, as in pulleys, levers, gears and the like. All of these added together make the gaming experience somewhat addictive as you’ll get onto a new level, say to yourself “I’ll just see how this puzzle works” and before you know it you’ve spent the last 20 minutes trying to complete it; addictive gaming at its finest.
Greedy Penguins is a Chillingo game and as such comes with Crystal built in, this means that on top of the addictive nature of the game itself, there also achievements that a lot of people are going to want to get too, not to mention competing with your friends over the service too (which is my only option as I don’t have Game Center on my iPhone 3G /sad face). Levels are unlocked by collecting 3 golden fish from each level, they work like the stars in Angry Birds and other games of that nature and are awarded based on how well you completed the level. You’ll find yourself striving for those last couple of golden fish every time you come to the end of a stage as a certain number (which is almost all) of them are required to unlock the next stage; pretty cunning if you ask me.
Greedy Penguins is a game that everybody should have in their gaming library, if you’re a fan of iOS puzzle games at least. Everything you would expect is here, great visuals, amazing gameplay and that addictive nature that we’ve all come to expect from Chillingo titles. I’ve stopped writing this review 3 times now just to play it some more, I keep telling myself that I’m just checking fact but, deep down, I know that’s not true. That’s the drawing power of Greedy Penguins. I’ll just check that though…
Every so often an application comes out on the iOS App Store that claims to be a game but, upon spending some time in it, I fail to see where the game starts. That doesn’t always mean that the application is bad, not at all, some of my favourite apps on my iPhone and iPad aren’t games at all, but it does seem a little bit misleading. Doodle Devil is one of those “games”. The point of the application is to combine two different items, they can be elements, they can be ideas, they can more or less be anything, once these items are combined the player has to hope that they make something new that can itself be used. Which category does Doodle Devil fall into then? Is it an application that calls itself a game in order to get unsuspecting gamers to download it, or is it something else?
Your time with Doodle Devil will be spent combining various different things that you’ll have at your disposal. You’ll start off with a few basic elements and your task is to combine them in such a way that they produce something else. That “something else” then gets added to your inventory for you to be able to use it to combine with other things to create even more objects to use. For example, something that might be obvious is that you can combine the elements of water and fire and you produce steam. Steam is then added to you inventory for you to be able to use it with other things. It’s quite an interesting concept and it’s something that gets more and more addictive the more you play it, there will be times when you’re absolutely sure that two particular elements will create a certain thing when combined but they just don’t. On the other end of the scale there may be moment when you think to yourself “Fire and air? That can’t possibly create anything…right?”, suddenly you’re staring at a nice little plasma ball. It did combine after all.
The control scheme that you use while performing these Godly combinations couldn’t be simpler, all the player has to do is tap on the two elements that they’re going to attempt to combine and, like magic, the application attempts to combine them. Once you’ve discovered a lot of the different combinations (which, if there was going to be an aim to the game, it would be to discover all of the different combinations) almost all of the ones you attempt will fail. It quicky starts to become a game of trial and error more than a game of thinking. Some of the combinations are easy to figure out and some of them seem totally random and impossible to figure out by attempting to just work it out.
If you’re looking for a game that you can play while you’re doing something else, coming back to it every so often and giving another combination a try then Doodle Devil is a good game for you to try. Considering that it’s hard to see what the “game” aspect is, it’s obviously not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but if it’s the type of thing you’re into then Doodle Devil is just about the best example of its genre; whatever that genre is.
As I’ve said countless times before now, there are a lot of puzzle games on the iOS App Store. That being said however, a lot of those puzzle games are repetitions of the same game mechanic, usually involving tapping something on the screen when it appears or something in that vein. It’s not very often that we get an environmental puzzler, something that gives the player a start point and an end point and just says “go on then”. That’s exactly what we get with Chuck’s Challenge, an iOS game developed by Niffler. But is it what we’ve been hoping for from this style of puzzle game? I know we’re all hoping so, let’s find out then!
The gameplay in Chuck’s Challenge tasks the player with safely delivering the happy little purple monster to the portal that’s located on each level. There are many obstacles in the way that the player will have to overcome, obstacles such as blocks that will need pushing out of the way (often in a specific order), doors that will only open with a specific key and other things of that ilk; things you would normally see in an environmental puzzle such as this. Everything is relatively straight forward and although the puzzles themselves might be difficult it’s easy to understand what the game wants you to do in each instance.
There are plenty of additional features for people to sink their teeth into too. There’s a Race mode, where the player can compete against a friend and attempt to complete the same puzzle in the fastest time. This adds a sense of urgency to the game and although the puzzles in the mode seem to be generally easier, the addition of a timed element almost makes it a different game entirely. There’s also a Create mode for those players who have completed all of the puzzles that the game gives to you at the start (of which there are 100, so don’t expect to be done with it any time soon). Create mode does exactly what it says on the tin, you’re given a grid of squares and the tools to create own levels, movable blocks, immovable blocks, water, fire, etc. Think of it as Minecraft meets Little Big Planet and you’re about half way there.
Players can customise the control scheme that they use from within the Settings screen so if the on-screen D-Pad isn’t working for you, you can easily change it to an on-screen joystick or simply swipe controls. Having said that, the on-screen methods of controlling the game feel fine. There’s no rush to complete the levels in the main game mode so the lack of a decent response time, which is usually the issue with on-screen controls, doesn’t really cause a problem in Chuck’s Challenge.
At the end of the day Chuck’s Challenge is an extremely enjoyable environmental puzzle game. The art could do with a little bit of polishing, especially when it comes to the in-game stuff but – for the most part – it’s fine. The on-screen controls might put some people off but they can easily be changed and because players aren’t required to act quickly to anything they’re not really a problem in the first place. If you’re looking for an environmental puzzle game that will take you a little while to complete, then give Chuck’s Challenge a try; it’s unlikely you’ll regret it.