You know what day it is? It’s Monday again and that can mean only one thing here at GodisaGeek: It’s time for another edition of Mobile Monday, the article where we take a look at four mobile games and let you know if they’re worth your time and money.
This week, continuing the celebration of the launch of PlayStation Mobile, we’re taking a look at Super Crate Box from Vlambeer, Rebel from PomPom Games, Twist Pilot from Crash Lab and, just for good measure, the Nintendo 3DS downloadable title Liberation Maiden from Grasshopper Manufacture.
Read on to find the full reviews of each game, but don’t forget to come back next week for more Mobile Monday reviews. While you’re here, if you have played any of the games listed, or even just want to come back once you’ve had a go to let us know how you got on, we’d love to hear from you in the comment box at the bottom of the page.
Get downloading and get playing!
All of this week’s titles can be found on the PlayStation Network’s brand new PlayStation Mobile store or the Nintendo 3DS eShop. Go and check them out now!
SUPER CRATE BOX: by Martin Baker
Quite a few games that were made famous in the indie scene have made their way to the mobile platform over the last couple of years. It’s a normal progression as they usually involve retro-style graphics that aren’t too taxing, even on devices which are a little bit older. Super Crate Box, developed by Vlambeer, was no exception, making its way to the iOS App Store and enjoying quite a bit of success. One thing always held it back from greatness on the mobile platform though, and that was using on-screen controls to perform the actions in the notoriously twitchy, yet highly addictive game. Thanks to PlayStation Mobile and the ability to play those games on the PlayStation Vita, all that has changed.
The gameplay in Super Crate Box is extremely simple, so simple that you’ll be surprised at how difficult the game is. All you have to do is collect as many crates as you can. The more crates you collect, the more weapons, characters and game modes you’ll unlock, and we all enjoy unlocking stuff. The weapon unlocks are cumulative, meaning that if you need 25 to unlock the next weapon, and die after only collecting 5, you’ll only need to collect 20 on your next turn, and so on. The major unlocks, characters and modes for example, require you to collect a set number of crates in a single level and therefore are much more difficult to attain.
There’s a catch though! While the aim of the game is to collect as many crates as possible, each of the crates contain a weapon. That might not sound like a catch but imagine that you’ve got the Rocket Launcher, you’re obliterating the enemy and loving the weapon that you’re doing it with, but if you want to increase your score, you’re going to have to throw the Rocket Launcher away and pick up another crate, at which point you may get a paltry pistol. It’s gameplay decisions like this that keep people coming back for more, and it’s the reason all I can think about is playing it some more while I’m writing this.
If you’re using the PlayStation Vita the controls are absolutely perfect. Move around using the left analog stick or the D-Pad, jump using the X button and shoot with just about anything else. The only barrier to entry is the twitchy nature of the game, if you’re not a fan of games like Super Meat Boy then you’re not going to enjoy Super Crate Box too much. That being said, if you’ve got a PlayStation Vita then you should at least give it a go, as it’s remarkably cheap.
Super Crate Box is the type of game that the PlayStation Mobile store was created for, amazing little retro-style games with pick-up-and-play gameplay mechanics that absolutely benefit from being played with real controls. I can’t speak for what it’s like on a touchscreen PlayStation Mobile Certified device, but there’s no doubt that the PlayStation Vita is the way this game was meant to be played. Absolute perfection.
REBEL: by Martin Baker
The bullet hell style of games are the bane of my life, mostly due to the fact that while I’m not very good at them at all, I simply can’t stop playing them. They always instill a sense of “I can do better next time”. When it comes to the bullet hell games, we usually get the same thing, a side scrolling shooter, usually in space, that requires keen eyes and quick reflexes. Rebel, developed by PomPom Games, is totally different. The gameplay elements are the same but it’s played from an isometric 3D viewpoint. However, just because it’s a little bit different from what we’re used to, it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s going to be good; although, let’s be honest, it certainly does help.
The gameplay in Rebel revolves around simply trying to survive for as long as you possibly can. You play as an unnamed prison escapee, running around various locations and being chased by the local law enforcement/prison officers who are doing their best to recapture you and slam you back inside. Thankfully, these prison officers aren’t exactly the brightest stars in the sky and while they’re shooting at you, they’ll invariably shoot their comrades, giving you some lovely points in the process. This is what you’re going to spend your time doing in Rebel, running around, getting the enemy to shoot each other (you have no weapons at all other than your running speed) and collecting gems for even more points. What do points mean? That’s right! Prizes!
There are lots of items that you can trade your points in for, varying from entirely new game modes such as one where the enemies are different colours, and only enemies of the opposing colour can kill another enemy (only a blue enemy can kill a red enemy and vice-versa), all the way through to power-ups that’ll make you last longer on the battlefield, and different coloured jumpsuits that’ll just make you look even more awesome. There’s a good chance that someone will spend a great deal of time in Rebel just collecting all of the available items, and I wouldn’t blame them.
On the PlayStation Vita the controls couldn’t be simpler. All the player has to do is choose the analog stick they wish to use for the title and starting using it to make the main character run around avoiding bullets and collecting gems. There’s no weapons to worry about, or any other kind of complex control system, just an analog stick and that’s it. When you get to the part of the game where you’ve unlocked a couple of power-ups, these will appear at the bottom of the screen and will just need to be tapped in order to activate them. It’s simple enough but I would have preferred not to have to take my hands off of the device, especially when there’s millions of bullets flying towards me.
Rebel is a nice breath of fresh air, it’s a game type that we’ve seen before but never in this visual style; that alone makes it something that’s worth a look if you like this style of game. There’s plenty of reason to keep playing Rebel: The collectibles, the addictive nature of the genre, the unique look and feel of the title, and more. The developers have really tried to create something different and have actually managed to succeed. If you own a PlayStation Vita it’s a no-brainer.
TWIST PILOT: by Martin Baker
So far, with the PlayStation Mobile games I’ve seen games such as Aqua Kitty and Super Crate Box, games that use the dual analog sticks present on the PlayStation Vita to give a superior gaming experience on the move. Those games didn’t even use the touch screen so played more like a typical Vita game rather than a mobile game. Twist Pilot, developed by Crash Lab is more like a traditional mobile game, using only the touch screen to further your progress in the game and, as such, feels like it would probably translate well to the other PlayStation Mobile Certified games, whereas other games may not. However, all that being said, being able to be easily played on other devices means nothing if the game isn’t any good to begin with. Thankfully, Twist Pilot isn’t a bad game.
In its simplest form, Twist Pilot is a game where your task is simply to get to the end of the level. If you can manage that, you’ll unlock the next level and you’ll be able to proceed. If you truly want to complete each level though, you’re going to have to do a couple of things. Firstly, you’re going to have to collect all of the Sonic-style rings that appear throughout the stage, and secondly, you’ll be expected to finish the level in under a certain amount of time. Do all of these things and you’ll be awarded the much sought after three stars.
The “twist” in the title comes from the fact that your character will be constantly spinning. This means that when it comes to gaps in the maze, you’re going to have to wait until the character is rotated to the right angle to slip through. This isn’t difficult but it does add an element of tension if you’re looking to beat the time that’s been set for you to get those three stars. There are power-ups that you’ll be able to use throughout the game in an attempt to make your life a little bit easier, and these range from speeding up your spin to lengthening your body, and can really help in tight spaces. You’ve got to use them wisely though, as some of them will hinder you if they’re not used at the right moment.
The controls are easy to get used to and the entire game plays more like a traditional mobile game, using the touch screen for all interaction with the title. As with most games of this nature, the biggest problem is that there’s an urge to touch the screen where the character appears in order to move him, causing your finger to obstruct your view of the screen. This isn’t so much of a problem with Twist Pilot so much as you can touch anywhere on the screen in order to move, so if the screen is obstructed by the player, it’s their fault; the developers have already thought about that.
Twist Pilot might not be as instantly recommend as Aqua Kitty or Super Crate Box, but as far as traditional mobile games go, it’s a solid game. It’s easy to pick up and play a couple of minutes or so and the gameplay is unique and appealing. The larger screen of the PlayStation Vita also makes it a joy to play. Well worth a play, but maybe not the first on your list.
LIBERATION MAIDEN: by Sean Smith
You can generally rely on Suda 51 to deliver something extraordinary. Grasshopper Manufacture blew me away with their first-rate horizontal shooter Sine Mora, and I am so excited about their forthcoming Black Knight Sword that it hurts. In the meantime, they have popped up with a little gem of a shooter for the 3DS, which has been put together in conjunction with Level 5, another usually reliable developer who, like Suda and his crew, use dodgy anime tie-ins to fund their more off the wall artistic pursuits. This is undoubtedly one of them.
As a wonderfully mad anime introductory sequence explains, you find yourself in the role of the President of New Japan (!), a patriotic, bordering on right wing young lady who, when her country is under threat from some nasty outsiders, straps herself into a giant winged mech and sets out to deliver her own brand of laser death based politics.
What this means to us, the gamer, is a fun Starfox-esque 3D shooter, where you are tasked with taking out legions of enemies and huge, ominous alien structures that rise out of the Earth’s crust with two excellent weapon types that borrow from shoot ’em ups past glories. The first weapon is a volley of missiles, which plays like a 3D spin on the lock on systems used in Layer Section or Soukyugurentai, those two brilliant 1990s 2D classics. You use a well-implemented touch screen targeting reticule to lock onto to enemies before releasing the pen to fire. The second weapon is a laser, which is operated by holding down the pen on your desired foe, being careful not to overheat the bugger. Your shields and weapons are interlinked – meaning that if you simply fire repeatedly at will, you become more vulnerable. However, carefully taking out your foes charges up your blade, a special attack which can be unleashed for awesome damage.
The controls are excellent, the gameplay fun with an emphasis on chaining together attacks and getting a high score, and the bonkers plot holds everything together rather nicely. It isn’t a huge game, and don’t expect the same “wow” factor that Sine Mora delivered, this is a much more repetitive, less imaginative beast. But on a system lacking in games worth downloading, this is thoroughly recommended.