It’s Monday all over again (where is this year going?) and we’ve got four more games for you to take a look at in this week’s Mobile Monday. First off we’ve got a game that a couple of you may recognise from one of our very first ‘First Look’ features, when we talked to Chillingo’s PR Manager Dan Tausney. One of the games he showed us was Hank Hazard and now that the game is finally out we’ve got the review! The Lighthouse HD is a game which plays similarly to the line-drawing games that are so popular, but with a little twist that makes it interesting. Fly With Me is a game published by EA that’s more than a little bit addictive and finally there’s a nice little, calming game of Mahjong after all that hectic gameplay in the form of 1001 Ultimate Mahjong.
There’s plenty there for you to download and play through the week, but don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments below.
See you next week!
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!
Back in September of last year, at Eurogamer Expo 2011, we took a look at a few upcoming games, even filming a ‘First Look (on Tour)’ with Dan Tausney (@dantausney on Twitter). One of the best looking of those games was a little physics based puzzle game called Hank Hazard. We had no idea when the game would finally become available at that point but that day has finally come and Hank Hazard is available for purchase from the iOS App Store. But is it as good as it looked in that First Look? It’s time to strap Hank into his trusty little hamster ball and fire him across the screen (multiple times) in order to find out.
The gameplay in Hank Hazard tasks the player with getting Hank (the hamster) to end of the level and collecting all three of the starred targets as you go. This can sometimes be quite easy – not to mention obvious – but as things progress and you make your way to the later levels of the game you’ll have to have your wits about you if you want to carry on. The puzzles that you’re asked to overcome take the form of physics based puzzles, usually involving allowing weights to drop at specific times to make other things happen. This makes sure that the user has their eye on every aspect of their surroundings in order to makes sure they trigger things in the correct order, adding to the enjoyment of the puzzle aspect and the game overall.
Red Rocket Games has made sure that people will want to spend even more time glued to their iDevices by adding a set of achievements to each of the levels. By accomplishing certain feats, which usually include getting to the target area while travelling at a certain speed, or getting there in a certain amount of moves, players will get the illusive gold medal. Completionists are going to want these medals from every single level, I know I did. The challenge that they provide, as well as the sense of satisfaction that’s attained when you manage to get one, will keep most players hooked for a very long time.
The control scheme that the game uses is extremely intuitive, the player only having to tap the areas of the game that they want to interact with. Want the boxing glove to whack poor Hank into the air? Just tap it. How about destroying that block to allow the weight to fall? Why not tap that too. This intuitive control scheme ensures that the game is easy to pick up for people of all ages, gamers and non-gamers alike. The only real difficulty with the controls is how fast you’re expected to use them, especially in the later levels. Only people that play games on a regular basis, or have superhuman reflexes, might be able to get past these levels; but it’ll still be fun to try.
Hank Hazard is one of those games which you’ll pick up for five minutes and then wonder where two hours have gone. The gameplay alone will keep many people entertained for the foreseeable future but add to that the level achievements, the repeat plays to get better scores and all the unlockable levels and you’ve got a game that screams value for money. Hank Hazard has quality written all over it; the gameplay, the art style, everything, and you certainly won’t be disappointed if you’re in the market for an excellent new puzzle game.
THE LIGHTHOUSE HD:
I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or if lighthouses are somehow making a comeback without me noticing, either way we’ve got another Lighthouse game to review, this time developed by Kavcom Limited and, other than the fact that a lighthouse is involved, The Lighthouse HD couldn’t be more different from Light Guardian (which I reviewed a few weeks ago). The first thing I noticed while comparing it to that previous lighthouse game, was that it worked on my iPad. The second thing I noticed is that I really shouldn’t be comparing the two games; they are very different.
The gameplay in The Lighthouse HD plays very similarly to line drawing games such as Harbor Master and Flight Control in the sense that the player has to trace their finger along a path that they want the A.I. – in this case some boats – to travel along. The main different between The Lighthouse HD and those other games is that the player can’t just draw a line and then expect the computer to follow it, that would be too easy, here you’re using your finger to place a beam of light onto the sea. The ships will follow this light if they can see it, and in order to see it, they have to be rather close to it. Placing the light onto the sea close to a boat will cause the boat to turn to face the light, if they can’t see the light then they’ll just plough on forward in whichever direction they’re going. Rocks, the shore and even other ships aren’t safe from the bow of a vessel without proper direction.
Similarly to those line drawing games, you’re given a task to complete within each level. Sometimes is might be as simple as navigating the ships through the rocks to the right hand side of the screen to safety (although with a couple of ships and plenty of rocks often being the norm in The Lighthouse HD, this is anything but “simple”), or you may be tasked with picking up life-rafts and taking them (again) to the right hand side of the screen to safety. There are three medals/coins to collect on way level, for those of you who like to replay your levels to get the best possible result. One coin is for getting 50,000 points, a second for following the shipping lane (a glowing line on the water that, when followed, will net the ship a good few extra points), and the last coin is awarded for completing the level without losing any ships; which is almost impossible on later levels unless you’ve got six pairs of eyes.
The controls scheme is simple enough to learn as the player only has to tap the screen on the area of the sea where they want to place the point of light. The difficulty – at least before players are used to the game – comes from the fact that the point of light always appears underneath the players finger, obscuring it from view. This is fine after a couple of level as players will get used to how far their fingers need to be away from the ship in order for it to start turning, but many will lose a lot of ships in those first levels until they’re used to it. The other difficult part of The Lighthouse HD comes from how many ships at once the player is often asked to direct, especially in later levels. This adds to the fun for a lot of people but some, especially people who don’t play games too often, may find it frustrating before it becomes challenging and entertaining.
Overall, The Lighthouse HD is a challenging game that, if you stick with it long enough to get used to how far the light needs to be away from the ships in order to get them to move, can be very rewarding. It’s a game that looks good and plays even better. A lot of players will find themselves coming back to the game time and time again, even if they don’t spend that long within in during their play sessions.
FLY WITH ME:
Over the past couple of months EA have started to make a serious push into the casual mobile gaming market with some pretty impressive games, some that have even made an appearance on previous Mobile Monday instalments. The Sims Freeplay, for example, was one such game that was stunning in terms of both the visual style of the game and the gameplay, as was Tetris, but both of these are well established games with a set design style; essentially just ports of their respective big brothers. Fly With Me however, is a new game published by EA that’s a totally new IP, not a port, not a remake, a true new game. Can EA stand up to the might of someone like Chillingo in this area of the gaming world? They’re a tough company to beat, that’s for sure, but if anyone’s got the “ooomph” to do it, it’s EA.
The gameplay in Fly With Me tasks the player with getting to the end of the stage. That’s it. The difficulty lies in the fact that in order to get to the end of the stage you’re going to have to flap your little wings, and doing so costs energy; something that you only have a limited amount of. In order to replenish this energy all you have to do is fly the bird into bees with the bigger bees giving more energy than their smaller counterparts. There are plenty of obstacles in the way too, making management of those energy levels absolutely crucial if you want to get to the end of the level; especially if you want to do so while also collecting the three stars and the cog that are located on each of them.
As with many other games of this ilk, there are many ways to “complete” a level. You could just simply get to the end of the level, unlocking the next one and progressing through the game and completing things that way, or you could collect all of the items within the level before you move on. Within each level there are three stars, some of which are easy to find, others are a little bit more difficult; collecting these stars, and seeing them displayed underneath the level on the level select screen, is something for the completionists but extending any games lifetime in any way is always a welcome thing. As well as the three stars that appear on each of the levels, there’s also a cog which, when you’ve collected them all, gives you access to the robotic bird; a special character that gives players something to strive towards.
The controls in Fly With Me are easy to learn, only requiring the player to tap the screen in order to cause the bird to flap his wings, making him go up, or letting go of the screen to let the bird fall. It’s the mastery of this control scheme, not the learning of it, which will cause players the most problems. It may sound simple enough but when you’ve got obstacles in your way, the accelerating effects of gravity pulling you down and star to distract you; things become a totally different story. This difficulty certainly adds to the level of enjoyment though, not subtracting anything from the value of the game as all.
Fly With Me is a game that everyone should at least give a go. The gameplay is hugely entertaining and the art style is akin to Saturday morning cartoons; making it extremely appealing to all ages. The gameplay can get a little repetitive at times, but not enough to warrant a complete uninstall, maybe just put it down for ten minutes. Definitely a worthy recommendation.
1001 ULTIMATE MAHJONG:
Mahjong is a classic game, something that almost everyone will have played in some form or another. Whether that was digitally, on the PC, iPhone, iPad, or any other device, or physically by actually getting all of the pieces together, stacking them all up and playing (although that method takes a significant amount of time to set up). Due in no small part to just how old the game is, there are a lot of versions of the game on the iOS App Store. Some are simplistic versions with only the bare minimum in terms of graphics, while others take the classic game and bring it into the new age with impressive graphics, interesting tile formations and other things. 1001 Ultimate Mahjong, developed by Nawia Games is in that latter category.
At its core, 1001 Ultimate Mahjong is a basic Mahjong game, you play it in exactly the same way you would any other Mahjong game, you’re given a board that comprises of a set of stacked tiles and your task is to get rid of all the tiles in the game by matching two of them at a time. This might sound simple enough – and at the very basic level it is – but players will have to be careful about what they’re matching as there’s a chance they could back themselves into a corner, putting them in a position where they can’t remove any more tiles, thus failing the level. If you’ve played a game of Mahjong before, whether digitally or physically, you’ll feel right at home with 1001 Ultimate Mahjong.
One of the more interesting aspects of 1001 Ultimate Mahjong are the tile formations. Everybody’s seen the standard Mahjong formations, where the tiles are simply stacked in a square pattern that’s built up (similar to a pyramid), and that’s what I was expecting from this game, just as standard Mahjong game, well made and gorgeous looking, but standard nonetheless. Needless to say I was shocked when I saw a Mahjong board which made the shape of Pac-Man. That was the moment I knew that we had something different here. Add the interesting shapes with the graphics and you’ll soon start to see why this is one of the most impressive interpretations of Mahjong that’s available.
In terms of controlling the game, things are, again, a very simplistic affair, comprising of simply touching the tiles that you want to remove. If those tiles match and are accepted by the game as a legitimate move, then the tiles will disappear and you’ll be free to take your next move. The simplicity of the controls makes the game accessible to all people, after all, with a game as old, yet fun as Mahjong, you can guarantee that everyone is going to want to get in on the action. Even with a relatively updated version such as 1001 Ultimate Mahjong.
If you’ve been waiting for a Mahjong game that you can sink your teeth into, as well as one that’s been updated in such a way that it’s brought into the modern age but without tampering with any of the aspects that make the game a classic, then 1001 Ultimate Mahjong is the game for you. It’s not a game that everyone is going to enjoy, but then again neither is Mahjong itself. You can’t please everyone all the time.