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Mobile Monday – Diggin’ Dogs, Time of Heroes, Mad Coaster, Don’t Run With A Plasma Sword

by on April 2, 2012

I honestly can’t believe how quickly this year is going, it’s another Monday already! It’ll soon be Christmas all over again. Shocking! Well, this week we’ve got four more games for your gaming pleasure. The first is Diggin’ Dogs, a strange little game the gives the player the task of digging through the earth to get some golden boots for the three dogs. Yeah, odd.

Secondly there’s Time of Heroes, an RTS game with RPG elements from the guys at Smuttlewerk Interactive. Certainly something to check out if you’re a fan of the genres. Next up is Mad Coaster, one of those crazy, addictive “run-left-to-right” games that will keep you up at night. Last up is Don’t Run With A Plasma Sword, which is another “run-left-to-right” game that…”borrows” from a lot of familiar concepts. Play it, you’ll see what I mean.

That’s everything for this week, we’ll be back again next week. So predictable that you can practically set your clock by us.

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!

Diggin' Dogs - IconDIGGIN’ DOGS:

It’s not often that a game enters the iOS App Store and it takes me by surprise. I’ve seen a lot of games now, some good one and some terrible ones, but I can usually say that I expect what I end up playing. That wasn’t the case with Diggin’ Dogs, developed by Soap. The description of the game didn’t give much information about what I was letting myself in for and the icon looked a little cheap; an obvious indication that I wasn’t in for something of high quality. Upon starting the game though, I was greeted with the Chillingo logo, which lifted my spirits a little bit; perhaps it wasn’t going to be so bad after all. An hour later and I found myself addicted to the gameplay, loving the concept altogether! You can’t always go with your gut feeling about things then…

The objective of the game is to guide the three dogs towards the golden boot that’s located in each of the levels. This is done by digging through the ground and creating a path for your canine companions, guiding them towards any treasure, especially bones, that you may find along the way. While all you need to do to finish the level is gather the golden boots, in order to get a decent score at the end you’ll also need to collect the coins that are dotted around each of the stages. Collect enough of the coins and you’ll be rewarded with either a bronze, silver or gold medal. Obviously, most players – and I’m using myself as a benchmark here – won’t allow themselves to continue without getting that elusive gold medal. Diggin’ Dogs caters to that obsession.

Diggin' Dogs - Screenshot

If collecting the gold coins on each level and attempting to get the gold medal wasn’t enough, there are also three bones scattered through level and it’s your job to find them. These can be quite difficult to find at times as it’s not uncommon for the bones that are collectible to get mixed up with the ones that aren’t, causing you to pass them by without even giving them a second glance. If you’re not paying attention – and you’re a completionist – then you’ll be coming back time and again to get that one bone that you somehow managed to miss.

If there’s one thing that Diggin’ Dogs makes simple, it’s the controls. The actual “Diggin'” is done by simply moving your finger around on the screen. Wherever you move your finger the dirt will disappear, allowing the dogs to delve deeper and deeper into the earth. The difficulty lies in trying to move the dogs themselves, which has to be done via tilting the iDevice. This wouldn’t normally be difficult on its own, but combined with touching the screen it can be a little bit much if you’re trying to play the game using an iPad. Use an iPhone however, and you’re golden!

Diggin’ Dogs is a game that we haven’t seen much of on the iOS App Store. If you think you know what you’re in for then you should download the game anyway, it’s nothing like you expect it to be. It’s a charming game with some interesting game mechanics and you’ll probably find yourself coming back to it time and time again; I know I did. You know you’re getting quality when you see the Chillingo logo pop up at the start, and Diggin’ Dogs just proves that even with an obscure concept, if Chillingo are interested in a title, then you should be too. Diggin' Dogs - Chillingo Ltd

Time of Heroes - IconTIME OF HEROES

Despite the fact that the touch interface lends itself extremely well to controlling a real time strategy (RTS) game, we don’t see many of them on the iOS App Store. In fact, I could probably count on one hand how many I’ve seen on there. It’s a niche market that could be seriously exploited if the likes of Blizzard decided to port any of the original Warcraft games onto there. I’d give them my money, and I’m sure a lot of you would too. As it stands, Smuttlewerk Interactive – the developers behind Time of Heroes – is attempting to take control of that market with their RTS, but is it the type of game that we’ve all been waiting for?

The gameplay revolves around defeating other enemies that are placed on a map, a fairly standard RTS affair. The difference with Time of Heroes is that you don’t have to busy yourself with creating bases and gathering resources, all you’re bothered about is how many men you’ve got left and how many men the enemy have left. At the start of the game you decide where you want to place your hero on the battlefield, then when it’s your turn, you move your units. Once those units are perpendicular to an enemy unit, they can attack. The success rate is determined by the number above their head, if the number above the head of your unit is higher than that of your enemy then you’re more likely to succeed, but it’s not guaranteed.

Time of Heroes - Screenshot

The gameplay goes much deeper than that though, as you can equip weapons, place units next to heroes to grant bonuses, as well as a plethora of other tactics in order to ensure your victory. When it all comes down to it, Time of Heroes plays more like a board game with RTS elements than anything else and I’m sure that people who enjoy strategic board games such as Risk – or even Chess – will get a kick out of this game. The only major downside to this is that just like those other strategic games, you’ve got to put a lot of time into it before you start getting anything out of it. You’re going to be presented with a lot of tutorial screens at first, which is understandable because you’ve got a lot to learn, and this may be a little bit daunting for some, but push past it and you’ve got a surprisingly enjoyable game.

The controls are a little bit hit and miss. It’s easy enough to understand what you’re expected to do, simply tapping on a unit and then tapping where you want them to go, but it can be difficult to see exactly where you’re tapping at times. The blocks are so small that the simple act of trying to tap them covers them up with your finger. A lot of the time this doesn’t cause a problem but if, for example, you need a unit to be in a specific place for a tactical play you’ve got in mind, and you accidentally click the wrong position, you may find yourself quickly frustrated. Thankfully, if this does happen, there’s an undo button (as long as you don’t click on another unit first), so all’s not lost.

If you’ve been searching the App Store for a decent RTS game that you can sink your teeth into then why not try Time of Heroes? It’s not the best game out there but it’s worth a shot. It adds some decent gameplay elements and does them well. People that find themselves enjoying it within the first 30 minutes will find themselves playing it for hours more, if you don’t enjoy it in that first half an hour then Time of Heroes probably isn’t the game for you. Still, you gave it a shot, that’s what counts. Time of Heroes - smuttlewerk interactive

Mad Coaster - IconMAD COASTER:

When most people start up Mad Coaster for the first time they’ll probably be expecting a game that’s reminiscent of something like Theme Park, a game where we’re going to be tasked with building our own palace of fun and ensuring that we can make money while keeping all our fans having fun. Mad Coaster is a game that only gives the player one task; get to the end of the level. How you do that is totally up to you. CGMatic clearly know how to make an addictive little game and Mad Coaster is proof positive of this.

As I mentioned, the whole gameplay revolves around getting from the left hand side of the screen to the right. There are plenty of obstacles that will block your path though, making things a little bit more difficult than things first seem. The main obstacle that you’ll have to overcome will be the gaps in the tracks, you are on a roller coaster after all, so gaps in the track are pretty much devastating. While getting to the end of each stage is the only thing that you actually have to to, it’s not the only thing that you can do. In order to gain more and more points, which is the goal of just about every game, attaining more points than other people, players can do two things, either taking down animals or collecting coins. This makes things much more difficult as collecting the coins can be rather distracting, causing the player to go head first down one of the game’s many gaps.

Mad Coaster - Screenshot

As the stages progress seamlessly, the only time you’ll see an end to a level will be when you lose all your lives, things will get faster and faster, getting more and more difficult all the time. For people that enjoy a challenge, Mad Coaster is a game that will be hugely enjoyable, not to mention addictive. The controls are easy enough to learn too, travelling from the left hand side of the screen to the right is all automatic, requiring no input whatsoever from the player, the only thing the player needs to do is to tap the screen to get the coaster to jump and swipe down to get the coaster to move to a lower track, if one is available.

If you’re looking for a game that has a challenge, but one that doesn’t stop ten minutes into playing it, then Mad Coaster is exactly the type of game you’re looking for. The art style is great looking too and adds to the overall quality of the title. Chillingo don’t publish just anything and Mad Coaster is yet another example of an addictive game that many people will find difficult to put down. Madcoaster - Chillingo Ltd

Don't Run With A Plasma Sword - IconDon’t Run With A Plasma Sword:

As far as names of games go, “Don’t Run With A Plasma Sword” is the most safety conscious of the lot. Although, if you really think about it, and you’ve seen even one of the Star Wars films, then it’s pretty obvious anyway. Don’t Run With A Plasma Sword, developed by XperimentalZ Games is another one of those ever-so-popular “run-left-to-right” games, this time putting you in control of a young man with a giant plasma sword (read: Lightsaber, although don’t tell George Lucas). Your main objective is simply to see as far as you can get within the level while slicing robots, jumping over gaps and ducking under obstacles. Simple really. Until you start playing it.

In order to make things a little bit more difficult there are robots littering the path between you and your goal. These robots must be destroyed in order to get past them by swinging your plasma sword and cutting them down. You could jump over them, in theory, but let’s be honest, it’s much more satisfying to swing a plasma sword through anything. There are other obstacles that will slow you down too, gaps in the floor that you’ll have to jump over in order to progress, and other obstacles that you’ll have to slide under. Sometimes these obstacles will come at you in extremely quick succession, especially in the later levels, so you’ll have to be on your toes at all times if you want to get that high score you’ve got your eye on.

Don't Run With A Plasma Sword - Screenshot

Doing various things in the game will award you with experience points, these are what you’re going to want to collect if you want to enjoy the game to its full potential. Using the experience points you’ll be able to unlock a lot more abilities, such as being able to double jump to get those more elusive stars, as well as many other abilities that will effect how you play the game. As well as these functional abilities there are also a number of cosmetic upgrades such as changing the colour of your lightsa…sorry…plasma sword. These are nice little additions for players that play a lot of the game but you’re still going to want to make sure you get the more useful additions before moving onto the cosmetic stuff. Unless you really want that blue plasma sword instead of the default green one.

The controls are still quite simple, but they’re a little bit more confusing than normal. With this genre of game there’s usually a single control, tap to jump, meaning that just about anybody can jump in on the action and start playing. With Don’t Run With A Plasma Sword there are three buttons, jump, slide and swing the plasma sword. This doesn’t really pose that much of a problem for players that are used to playing video games, but the more casual player may see it as a barrier to entry; not a huge one, but one that’s there nonetheless.

Don’t Run With A Plasma Sword is a nice, fun little game but it’s nothing that we haven’t already seen before. If you’re a huge fan of this genre of game then you may want to download it because of the aesthetics and the overall theme of the game, which is something that I haven’t seen before, but if you’re looking for something new in terms of gameplay then this isn’t the game you’ve been looking for. It’s a good game, and well worth a look if you’ve never played a side-scrolling run and jump game, but if you’re well versed in the genre then you’re not missing much by skipping this one. Don't Run With a Plasma Sword - XperimentalZ Games