Mobile Monday – Retro Racing, Sticky Sheep, Traffic Wonder, Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North
Mobile Monday is back again, and we’ve got some pretty special games for you guys to take a look at this week. First up we’ve got Retro Racing, a game that pretty much speaks for itself and if you ever spent your childhood huddled around an arcade machine playing old racing games then you’re going to want to try this out.
Next we’ve got Sticky Sheep, a Chillingo published game that is about as crazy as it sounds. Traffic Wonder is a game from the independent studio Yo Ambulante and is quite possibly one of the most addictive games I’ve ever had the privilege of playing. Lastly we’ve got Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North, a simplistic looking game that’s anything but simple, taking elements from RTS, MMORPG and God games.
That’s all we’ve got this week, check out the reviews below, go download the games and then come back and tell us what you thought.
Let’s 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!
Over the past year or so there has been an influx of retro gaming items on all of the major gaming platforms. We’ve had remakes on the XBLA and SEN, we’ve seen various items of merchandise from the likes of the newly launched Sonic store (among others) and we’ve also had our fair share of iOS games which harken back to the “glory days” of gaming. Some of those iOS games have been ports of games we saw all that time ago, while others have been new games that have been crafted to look like they should belong in that bygone era. Retro Racing, developed by Qwakers, falls into that latter category, but does it suffer for it or does it bring the memories flooding back in a good way?
First and foremost, before we start getting into the retro style of Retro Racing, it’s a racing game. The player starts off in last place in a race and has a predetermined number of laps to get as far up the positions as they can; hopefully crawling their way to that first place position. In order to do this you’ve got to boost, brake and slide your way past your opponents, trying to avoid touching them lest it slow you down, sometimes costing you a position or two. The track is littered with power-ups for the speed freak in all of us to pick up, some of them increase acceleration while others increase speed or give the player a temporary boost of nitro. All things to help you crawl your way into the pole position.
As is the norm with games on the iOS devices, once you’ve finished a race you’ll be awarded a selection of stars, with three stars being the most that can be awarded on any one track. Players will often find themselves replaying tracks, trying to find that all important “perfect racing line” through a track in order to get those three stars that we’re all after (if you deny it, you’re lying). There are plenty of levels in Retro Racing for players to be getting on with and the promise of even faster cars being unlocked later on in the game keeps people coming back for more, that’s before we even talk about the visuals.
The visuals take their cue from the racing games of yesteryear, a top down viewpoint and extremely pixellated vehicles being the order of the day. This doesn’t take anything away from the game and most people will know what they’re getting themselves into visually anyway from the title of the game. It definitely brings back memories of games such as the original Spyhunter in terms of its visuals, and that’s a welcome change from iOS games trying to be the best looking games in the world (and ultimately not working on an original iPad). Everything in the game runs silky smooth too, which is great and helps the game towards being one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have on an iDevice at the moment.
Retro Racing is one of the best racing games on the iOS App Store. It blends the worlds of retro visuals and modern controls and gameplay mechanics perfectly and in such a way that you’ll often be torn between thinking that it’s a remake or a modern masterpiece. If there’s one game you download this week and you want to be certain that you’re going still be enjoying it by the time the next Mobile Monday comes around, then get Retro Racing, you won’t regret it.
What are you supposed to do when you’re a sheep dog whose sheep simply won’t listen? The answer is pretty obvious: Strap a helmet on and launch yourself at the sheep in question, rolling them to the intended target through brute force alone. What? You didn’t think of that? Well Chunk Games did, developer of the new Chillingo published iOS game Sticky Sheep. Well, what are you waiting for? Strap on that helmet and let’s see how the game hold up. Having an interesting concept is one thing, but having good gameplay doesn’t come easily.
The gameplay revolves around knocking the sheep into the targets that are laid around the area, the closer to the centre you manage to get the sheep, the more points you’ll be awarded. Sounds simple enough, and for the most part it is. The difficulty starts to present itself a few levels in when you’re tasked with collecting a sheep that’s around a corner, forcing you to figure out velocity and trajectory, including rebound trajectory, before you can even think about making that shot. Not the easiest thing in the world to do and something that isn’t expected from game with such a cartoon art style.
The levels become progressively more and more difficult, as you would expect, employing obstacles such as pinball bumpers that bounce you and the sheep around the stage, and sticky areas that slow everything down to a snail’s pace. The obstacles make the game a little more challenging, and therefore more fun, keeping people playing through sheer willpower that they “will finish this level!”. There are also coins to collect on each level and if you’re going to want to completely finish each stage, you’re going to be spending a lot of time replaying levels just to get these. They add to the fun of the game, and you don’t even have to collect them if you don’t want to, but they certainly add to the longevity of the title.
The controls are extremely simple to get to grips with, even if the game isn’t. All the player needs to use is a single finger. Tap the dog, drag back to set the amount of power and the direction of the charge and let go to send him flying. The controls feel a lot like Angry Birds in the sense that you pull backwards to send the dog forwards, so if you’ve played that game (who hasn’t?) then you’ll feel right at home with Sticky Sheep. Everyone can at least have a go at the game, young and old, gamers and non-gamers can all enjoy charging at sheep for hours on end. At the end of the day all we’ve ever really wanted is to charge headfirst at some sheep, isn’t it?
Sticky Sheep isn’t the best game that you’ll ever play on the iOS devices but it’s got charm, humour and visuals that others only dream about. If nothing else it’s worth a download just to experience the crazy gameplay and the introduction video. If you ever find another game that involves throwing dogs into sheep then let me know, until that day comes around, at least we’ve got Sticky Sheep.
Puzzle games on the iPhone and iPad are a dime a dozen, you’ve seen me talk about them all the time on Mobile Monday. I’ve covered everything from the physics based puzzlers that are developed by tiny studios consisting of one or two people, all the way through to the more traditional puzzle games that are developed by teams of people working for months at a time to get you a game that will steal your hard earned time. Puzzle games aren’t going away any time soon, but it’s nice to see that people are being a little bit more inventive with their puzzle game creations, developing games that are a little bit more than just another Angry Birds or Bejeweled clone. Traffic Wonder is one of those games that’s just a little bit different, enough of a recognisable outer shell to get people into the game and then different enough to keep people playing for long periods of time.
The first amazing thing about Traffic Wonder is that the developers, Yo Ambulante, managed to create a game that I couldn’t put down even though it’s got the word “Traffic” in the title. Yeah, that alone amazed me. Once you get past the horror and vivid flashbacks of being stuck on the M25 at 6:30 in the morning, you’ll find yourself greeted by a wonderfully colourful user interface. Something akin to almost every other puzzle game on the planet. Not that that’s a bad thing, these types of games are the ones that most people will be playing on their way to work, waiting for the bus and all the other places where you’ll want to pass five or ten minutes quickly by playing a quick game of something, and in those cases you’re not going to want to look at something dark and dreary. Traffic Wonder is vibrant and almost makes you forget that the whole game is about being in traffic. Almost.
The gameplay in Traffic Wonder is both amazingly simple and deceptively difficult all at the same time. The main element is that you’ve got to get the different coloured cars to the matching coloured garage, all without running out of fuel. Sounds simple enough right? It is, for the first couple of levels at least, then the game starts dropping in multiple cars, multiple paths, then cars that go faster than other cars, limited amounts of fuel and a whole bunch of other stuff to make what seemed to be an extremely simple game at first into a time eating, soul destroying monster of a puzzle game; and I loved every second of it!
To get to the end of each of the levels, all you have to do is make sure that you put all of the cars into their respective garages, then you can move onto the next level and all is good in the world. Unless you’re one of those people who – in Angry Birds for example – needs to get three stars in every level before you’ll allow yourself the luxury of moving onto something else. If you’re one of those people then Traffic Wonder has you covered in that respect too. Simply getting to the end of the level, putting all the cars into their garages isn’t going to be enough, no, you’ve got to do with a certain amount of fuel left too. I can’t even count the times when I felt compelled to restart a level because I only had 200 units of fuel left in the level and in order to get the gold medal, I needed to have 250 units, or something similar. I need those gold medals!
I can almost guarantee that you’re going to have to pry that iPad out of my cold, dead hands before I’ll stop playing Traffic Wonder. I haven’t been this engrossed in a game for a while and if you told me a couple of months ago that I’d be this invested in a game that had the word “Traffic” in the title I’d think you’d fallen from somewhere very high when you were a child. Here I am however, playing the game multiple times a day, and when I’m supposed to be working, I’m not, I’m directing traffic into garages, organising stop signs and multiple routes, I’m playing Traffic Wonder for the gold medals and everything else that comes with it. Join me. JOIN ME!
KINGDOMS OF CAMELOT: BATTLE FOR THE NORTH:
We’ve seen a lot of management games over the years, the main ones that people will know about are the likes of Farmville and all those other x-ville games that seem to be littering Facebook all of the time. Some people may not even know what there are a hell of a lot of them on the iOS App Store too. Some of them are even half decent. Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North is another of these management games, developed by Kabam, it takes the tropes that we all know and love (or hate) and combines them with the Arthurian legend, which may automatically make it a win for some people, but we’re here to see how the gameplay holds up.
The gameplay starts out just like any other management game, you begin with starting up your small little kingdom by building various different buildings, performing quests and doing everything in your power to entice villagers to move into your new settlement. Once you have a decent population you’ll be able to create an army, even more buildings and before you even know it you’ll have a huge kingdom on your hands; and you’re the lord of it all. The main objective of the game is to keep all of your followers happy while performing the multitude of quests that Morgause will give you from time to time. There are other quests to perform – and you can take them on as and when you wish – but the main ones from Morgause are the ones that you’ll need to perform in order to make it in the game’s world.
The most impressive aspect of Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North is that to all intents and purposes, it is an MMO. Eventually players will get the opportunity to take on other players with the army that they’ve managed to amass. The outcomes of this can only be one of two things: You win or you lose. With that in mind you’ve got to pick and choose your battles carefully. You may be the type of player who likes to build up their little kingdom and not bother anyone at all, putting yourself at risk of getting attacked, or you may be the one doing all of the attacking. Whichever path you choose you’ll be able to do it in Kingdoms of Camelot, and for this reason it’s not a game for the faint of heart. There are elements of God games, RTS and even a little bit of MMORPG, and they all fit together seamlessly.
If you’re looking for a game that you can pick up and play from time to time, yet has a little bit of substance should you wish to play it for a longer period of time then you should at least try out Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North. You will have to spend a lot of time waiting for buildings to be built/upgraded and for troops to be trained if you’re not wanting to spend anything at all in the game, but if you’ve got the cash to drop then there’s the option to speed things up built into the game. Whichever play style you choose to go for there’s something to be enjoyed by everyone. So what are you waiting for?