Yup, it’s Monday again and as well as a whole host of original content here on GodisaGeek.com, it’s time for another Mobile Monday from me! This week we’ve got Toy Factory, a management game of all our childhood dreams, StreetBike HD, the iPad version of a game I reviewed a few weeks ago, Lock ‘n’ Load, a twin-stick shooter for the iPad that actually works with on-screen analog sticks and Shaun the Sheep: Fleece Lightning, a racing game featuring that wooly mischief from the Wallace & Gromit short; A Close Shave.
That should be enough to tide you over for another week, as usual check below for the full reviews. Get downloading and get gaming and I’ll see you next week, same time, same place.
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!
Management games seem to be a little bit hit and miss at times, over the past couple of months here have been a couple of good examples of great management games – such as last week’s Aero Vacation – but over the same period of time there has also been about the same number of games that don’t quite get what the genre is supposed to be and what makes it so addictive to a large number of people. Throwing their game into the mix, Noritown Studio has come out with Toy Factory. But which side of the scale does it come out on?
As with most of these management games, the whole point is to raise as much money as you possibly can by making objects and selling them in the shop. In the case of Toy Factory, the objects that you’re building and selling are – as you would expect – toys. As you level up within the game you’ll get more and more objects that you’ll be able to build, usually you’ve got to start by building machines that will create the base components of each of the toys that you’re wanting to create. Sometimes it could be wool or sometimes simple cotton, but whatever it is, if you’re wanting to earn a serious amount of money, you’re going to need to create the base materials and create the toys in quite a large quantity.
The addictive nature of these types of games isn’t lost on Toy Factory and it employs all of the usual tropes to try and get people coming back time and time again like the levelling mechanic, notifications telling you that certain things have finished being produced and other game mechanics, but the fact of the matter is that there just isn’t the same amount of pull that other games in the genre seem to have. The animations in the game leave a little to be desired and the factory on the whole simply don’t feel as if it was “alive” enough to be entertaining. It’s a very good attempt on the part of Noritown Studio, but there’s just something missing that a lot of people have come to expect from the genre.
All the user has to do to interact with the game is to tap that aspects of the game world that they want to interact with, pretty simple stuff that means that there’s no barrier to entry for people that may want to play the game; whether or not they’re the type of person who are used to playing games or not. The main difficulty with the game is that being an iPhone game, people may have trouble tapping on the screen accurately enough to not be frustrated. Management games are mainly suited to the iPad, or bigger screens in general, so it just feels a little frustrating to be playing on the smaller screen of the iPhone.
Normally I’m a sucker for these management games, I can’t stop playing them and they end up being some of the most addictive games on the iDevices. For some reason however, I didn’t find myself being drawn to Toy Factory. The visuals are serviceable but nothing special and the gameplay turns people away more than it gets them addicted. Nevertheless it’s a good attempt and I’m sure there are some people that would find enjoyment in it.
STREETBIKE: FULL BLAST HD:
A little while ago, I reviewed StreetBike: Full Blast for the iPhone (which, admittedly, I played on an iPad) and one of the problems that I felt that the game had was a lack of high definition visuals. Well the developers, Turtles Entertainment, are back with a version of their game made specifically for the iPad, complete with HD visuals and the same gameplay that I enjoyed in the previous game. Does the game work better on the larger screen of the iPad or are there more problems that have revealed itself on the new device?
The gameplay is just as you would expect from a racing game, get to the front of the pack of racers and cross the finish line to advance to the next race. Pretty simple stuff really, and if you’re just looking for a quick race, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with StreetBike: Full Blast HD. One of the things which surprised me was the fact that the game opened rather quickly, even on my ageing first generation iPad, I was inside the game and racing within thirty second. Pretty impressive stuff if you ask me. There’s more than just the simple Quick Races though, and players that are looking for a little bit more substance will be happy with their selection too.
If sitting down to a simple Quick Race isn’t what you’re looking for in your iOS racing title, then you can sit down for a longer gaming session and get to grips with the Street Battle mode, which is essentially the tournament mode that most gamers will be used to. With this mode you can work your way through the game, unlocking tracks along the way that you’ll be able to play in the Quick Battle mode if you’ve only got the time for a small amount of gaming. There are even quite a few mode in the Quick Battle menu that are interesting, the one that instantly springs to mind in the Wheelie mode. Get to the end of the race while also performing a wheelie for a set distance of the track. Fun stuff indeed.
Controlling StreetBike: Full Blast HD is as simple as moving the iPad itself. Rotate it towards the right to lean your bike towards the right and vice versa. This control method instantly lowers the barrier to entry as even people that don’t play games on a regular basis will instinctively rotate the iPad if they’re wanting turn that way, it’s as simple as that.
StreetBike: Full Blast HD was a decent enough game on the iPhone and it feels much better on the iPad. Playing for long periods of time may cause aching in the arms, as you’ve go to hold the iPad in the air to play the game successfully, but if you’re only looking for a race or two at a time then you’re not going to have much trouble at all. The HD graphics highlight the fact that the models within the game aren’t top notch, but the gameplay, and the sheer amounts of game modes that are available make that a negligible problem and something that you’re not going to be bothered by after the first couple of minutes.
LOCK ‘N’ LOAD
Twin stick shooters aren’t usually something that’s suited to the iOS devices. There have been plenty of them over the years, some of them we’ve even covered here in Mobile Monday, but the fact that they have no choice but to use on-screen analog sticks to control the action usually mean that they’re doomed to failure. Not because the developers are doing anything wrong, just because the genre itself isn’t really suited to the platform. Gamelab clearly weren’t listening to those past mistakes when they created their new twin-stick shooter, Lock ‘n’ Load. Are they going to fall down the same pitfalls that all those previous developers have done or are they paving the way for a new series of twin-stick shooters to make themselves available on the iOS App Store?
If you’ve ever played a twin-stick shooter before then you already know what you’re letting yourself in for with Lock ‘n’ Load. The basic premise of the game is that an evil girl has let loose a variety of horrors upon the world, enough to apparently take control of all humanity in a single day. Some of these horrors just happen to have trampled across your beautiful garden on their way to take control and that’s something that you’re just not going to take lying down. The story isn’t going to win awards, but if you’re playing the game at all you’re playing it for the gameplay, not the story, so you’ll probably not be too bothered about the lacklustre narrative.
It’s your job to take down all of the enemies that are blocking the path between you and the end of each level. In order to do so you’re given a variety of different weapons, ranging from simple sub-machine guns to chainsaws and plenty of other items along the way. Clear your immediate vicinity of enemies and you’ll be allowed to progress. Some enemies even drop cash that you can spend in the pause menu on new weapons, more ammo and health potions. Everything that you would expect from a top quality twin-stick shooter has been accounted for and is here waiting for you. If there’s one thing about Lock ‘n’ Load, it’s that if you’re a fan of the genre then you’re certainly not going to be disappointed.
Controlling the game is easy enough, using a pair of on-screen analog sticks which are located in the bottom two corners of the screen. This is usually where this type of game falls down, the analog sticks are often too small, too sensitive or simply not sensitive enough. Either way there’s usually something about the on-screen analog sticks that renders the game almost impossible to play except by the most hardcore of iOS gamers. This isn’t the case with Lock ‘n’ Load. The on-screen sticks are of a good size, allowing for easy control of the main character’s movements as well as which direction their weapons is being pointed – and fired – in. The sticks are also of an almost perfect sensitivity, not too sensitive and not too unresponsive, if Goldilocks was here she’d be in heaven.
If you’ve been on the look-out for a twin-stick shooter for the iOS devices that you can really sink your teeth into, as well as one that actually controls quite well, then your search may very well be over thanks to Lock ‘n’ Load. Gamelab have really put the work into the control scheme, making sure it works with the gameplay and not against it. If there was going to be a bad point about the game, it’s that the graphics leave a lot to be desired, but when you’ve got gameplay as fun and addictive as this then it’s easy to forgive what end up being relatively small problems.
SHAUN THE SHEEP: FLEECE LIGHTNING:
It doesn’t matter how old you are, or even if you’ve got kids, the fact of the matter is that just about everybody loves Shaun the Sheep, the loveable Aardman creation that was first seen in the Wallace & Gromit short A Close Shave. Now he’s made his way to the iOS App Store with a series of games, one of which, developed be Green Ant, is Shaun the Sheep: Fleece Lightning, a touch based racing game where the player has to help Shaun beat all the pigs in a race to the finish line. The question that I’m sure is on everyone’s lips is whether the game is as loveable as the main character within it; well, that’s what we’re here to find out.
The main gameplay element sees the player take control of Shaun and lead him to the end of a course, with the objective being to get through the gate before any of the pigs, shutting it behind him and locking the pigs inside the pen. Depending on which control scheme the player chooses to use this can be an extremely simple task as first, with things quickly ramping up in difficulty as the levels progress. The levels themselves are divided into stages, each with eight levels inside them. As seems to be the case with most games on the iOS devices, winning a level will award you one of three apples (think of them like the stars in Angry Birds) with the obvious goal to get all three apples on each of the levels.
Once of the most impressive aspects of Shaun the Sheep: Fleece Lightning is the fact that it comes with a full fledged create mode, allowing the user to create their own set of linear levels for Shaun to race down. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to share these levels with the world at large, as there is in games such as Bike Baron, but the fact that it’s there at all is a nice little addition and the social aspect of the create mode could possibly come at a later date with a simple update to the application. Nothing is beyond the realm of possibility when it comes to the iOS platform; that much is clear.
The are a couple of control schemes that come with the game, some of them are easier to use than others, but the fact that the player is given a choice means that if one of the available control schemes doesn’t quite work for you, there’s a chance that one of the others will, allowing just about anybody to enjoy the game. The easiest of the control methods to use is the first control scheme which allows the player to simply tap the screen wherever they want Shaun to run towards. This may not be the easiest for other people, but that’s why there are choices.
Shaun the Sheep: Fleece Lightning isn’t one of the best racing games on the App Store, some people would even argue that it’s a racing game at all, but there’s no doubt about the fact that its a game that’s chock full of charm, most people will have a hard time turning it off for long at all. The graphics could have done with a little bit of a polish and the gameplay can get a little bit repetitive if it’s played for extended periods of time, but it’s an entertaining game overall and well worth a look if you’re in the market for something new.