It’s time for another Mobile Monday here at GodisaGeek.com, the feature where we take four games and see whether or not they’re worth playing when you’ve got a spare five minutes or not. This week we’ve got Catapult King from Chillingo and Wicked Witch, a game where your task is to take down the building that’s been placed in front of you. Next we’ve got Pascal HD, a game from Nicolas Ivanoff that allows the player to play using only the power of their voice.
We’ve got a special treat for you after those two iOS games as Lee Garbutt joins us to talk about two augmented reality featured PlayStation Vita games, PulzAR and Table Top Tanks. You’re not going to want to miss these.
As usual, keep on reading to get the full review for each of the games and remember to check back next week for four more reviews of four more games.
Get downloading and get playing!
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!
CATAPULT KING: by Martin Baker
There are a few physics based games that have made the iOS App Store their home, a few of those games even involve flinging objects at other, when a game comes along that has the now famous Chillingo branding on it, whether or not there have been other games of a similar ilk, you sit up and take notice. That’s one thing that doing Mobile Monday has taught me and it’s something I adhere to. It’s exactly what I did when Catapult King, developed by Wicked Witch landed squarely in my inbox, looked at it with a sense of suspicion, noticed the Chillingo mark and proceeded to boot up the game; but is the game any good?
The gameplay is exactly what you would expect from a game with “Catapult” in the title. You’re given a basic target, some sort of structure built of wooden blocks and other materials, and the whole point of the game is to knock all of the soldiers that are positioned on the structure onto the floor by throwing as few objects as you can into them. The fewer pieces of ammunition you use in order to level the building, the more points you’ll be able to rack up when the level finishes.
There are other ways you can increase your score too, other than simply levelling the building with as few shots as possible. If you’re good enough, you can also aim for certain items such as gems and coins, if you manage to collect these while also managing to take down the building, you’ll get a huge increase in the amount of points you’ll manage to get. Some of these extra objects are a little bit out of the way though, so if you want to get them you’re going to have to do some creative thinking. If you collect the item but fail to complete the level (by failing to knock down the structure) then it’s all been for nothing.
Controls are relatively simple to use too, all the player has to do is move their finger across the catapult in the direction that they want to rotate the contraption. Once they’ve got it in a position that they like, they simply pull back on the launch mechanism and let go. The ammunition will go hurtling towards its destination and hopefully take out something structurally significant. The simplicity of the controls means that just about anyone can get in on the action and you can be sure that if the people you show Catapult King to can play the game, they’re going to enjoy playing it too.
There are quite a few physics based games on the iOS App Store now – too many to choose from really – but very few of them have the charm, humour and gameplay that Catapult King displays. If you’ve been looking for a new game that you can sit down “for five minutes” with and lose your whole afternoon then you can stop looking; Catapult King is here.
PASCAL HD: by Martin Baker
If there’s one thing you expect to have to do when you sit down to play a game it’s touch the device in order to control it. That’s not always the case though, as Pascal HD is here to prove. Developed by Nicolas Ivanoff, it is possible to control the game using the traditional method of tapping the screen in order to make the central character jump in the air and avoid all of the obstacles in its path, but the main selling point of Pascal HD is the fact that you can control the entire game using nothing more than your voice. Does it work though? Does it create a game that people are actually going to want to play?
The short answer is yes, just don’t expect to be playing it in public unless you want a plentiful supply of strange looks coming your way. The game’s instructions suggest that you shout “Jump” at the screen when you want the main character to leap over the object that litter his path, but you can shout anything you want really. The game detects any voice at all and – given the genre of the game – there’s only one action that you’re going to be doing while you’re playing the game; jumping.
Pascal HD places itself squarely in the genre of games that have been littering the iOS store as of late; the tap-to-jump games (I’m sure that’s not the official name for this genre of game but it’s the name that I’ve taken to calling them, and I’m sticking to it). From the moment you start the game the main character will start running from the left hand side of the screen to the right, there are plenty of obstacles in your path from other characters, rocks and balloons and it’s your job to avoid them all by shouting at your iDevice. The further you manage to get along the game’s world, the more points you’ll manage to grab for yourself.
As you can imagine from a game that can be totally controlled through voice, the controls of Pascal HD are simple. All a player has to do in order to get things working is shout single, short, quick words towards the iPad or iPhone and the main character will jump. I’m sure you could shout longer words towards the game if you wanted but considering how quickly you’re going to need to jump later on in the game it’s probably not advised.
If you think of Pascal HD simply as a game then chances are good that you’re not going to see the game’s charm, it is after all, a very simple, basic little game that doesn’t really push the boat out in an attempt to be something more than it is. It’s when you look closer at the game, and at what the game offers that very few other games are offering with the voice control, that you start to see where the game succeeds. I’m all for allowing all people to play video games, even people that have disabilities the would otherwise prevent them from doing so, and in allowing that, Pascal HD deserves a very special round of applause; even if the game itself is a little basic.
PULZAR (PlayStation Vita): by Lee Garbutt
PulzAR is set around the premise that a meteor is about to collide with Earth and only an asteroid-busting missile can destroy the chunk of rock, but the missile launch system is powered by lasers. What follows is an updated version of a very old idea. Use a variety of mirrors to reflect a laser beam from one point to another.
PulzAR adds a little augmented reality magic to this tried-and-tested type of game. Instead of rotating mirrors around within a game area, it is down to the player to physically place mirrors and other items around in real-life space, using their PlayStation Vita AR Cards. The impending meteor collision adds a time limit to proceedings, and there is a further challenge as on each level there are three Star icons; you are encouraged to ensure that all three of these Stars are hit with the laser en-route to the missile node, adding a further objective to an already mind-bending puzzler.
Setting up the game is incredibly easy; upon starting a level, you are prompted to place an AR card in the middle of your play area. Once this card is picked up by the PS Vita, the virtual play area is instantly created and the game begins. You add and place mirrors or other objects by placing AR Cards within the play area. These objects can be selected by touching them (or pressing L or R) and can be rotated by using the analog stick. Virtual objects can even be removed without moving the AR Card, by pressing the delete icon.
In manipulating objects physically (and by being able to view the play area from any angle) it takes an existing style of game and actually improves it in a meaningful way. Launching your missile, and watching it fly into the air before smashing into the meteor is an incredibly rewarding end to each puzzle.
PulzAR’s 25 puzzles, split into five stages, gradually get more complicated as new features are added every few stages. Eventually you’ll need to contend with different coloured nodes, so filters need to be added that change the beam colour. Objects that split the beam into two individual rays are another object (of many) that adds another level of depth to to a tough but extremely addictive puzzle game. Collecting the three Stars on each level (75 in total) adds a reason to replay each level to try and do things a little differently. The game gets pretty tough as it goes on, so there is plenty to keep even the brainiest player occupied.
Of all the Augmented Reality games I have played on any system, PulzAR is the greatest. It’s the only title I have seen that uses Augmented Reality functionality in a way that is both beneficial to the game, while still providing entertainment and challenge.
At £1.59, this game is a must-have PlayStation Vita title. Yes, you heard me right, this is a brilliantly crafted, challenging game that you need to buy right now. It is an addictive and rewarding game that demands to be played, and deserves to be seen as more than just an Augmented Reality gimmick, but a brilliant game in its own merit.
TABLE TOP TANKS (PlayStation Vita): by Lee Garbutt
One advantage (of many) that the Playstation Vita has over the Nintendo 3DS, is far greater utilisation of Augmented Reality (AR) technology. While the 3DS’s AR Cards haven’t left its cardboard housing since I first got my launch day console, Sony have already released more games that support AR within its short lifespan.
The premise of Table Top Tanks is a simple one; use your AR cards to create a virtual environment on your real-life furniture, and control a tank to perform various missions. These missions involve eliminating up to three other tanks (and occasionally the odd turret as well), capturing flags and bringing them back to base, shooting targets or touching waypoints. Later missions will even request that you do a combination of these tasks.
Your tank controls you would expect, left stick for movement, right stick for turret direction, L for machine guns and R for rockets. Various power-ups are available, including three-way rockets, invisibility, shields, spanners to replenish health, and airstrikes that are used by touching the screen to indicate where you want deadly missile death to fall.
The game’s challenges are bite-sized affairs, and it shouldn’t take any longer than half an hour to finish them all; especially as they’re not challenging in the slightest. As well as the solo challenges, a built in level editor allows you to create your own environments, using both virtual and real-life objects as obstacles in your very own custom challenges. Finally, there is Ad-Hoc Multiplayer; those who have PlayStation Vita and Table Top Tanks-owning friends will be able to experience the joys of Multiplayer tank action for themselves (as I don’t know anyone with a PlayStation Vita, unfortunately I could not test this mode). Rather annoyingly, some of the game’s Trophies actually require you to play the Multiplayer mode, which will be out of reach for many players.
For a sensibly priced £1.59, this is a title that offers about 30 minutes of gameplay in terms of single-player challenges. If you have a few friends to hand, the Multiplayer and Level Editor look like they could be a bit of fun, but won’t keep you glued to the Vita. Table Top Tanks is a fun but brief encounter with Augmented Reality, but its AR features are unnecessary enough that they could be completely removed from the game, and it would not take anything away from it. In fact, including the AR functionality makes for quite a fiddly experience, as trying to get the Vita to recognise the minimum of three AR Cards required, can be a tricky juggling act.
Table Top Tanks is a simple game for a very reasonable price, but due to its lack of challenge or length, unfortunately this is just a little bit too mediocre to recommend.