Blue Fang Games’ first offering in the App Store is a unique take on the routing management genre that has so recently become popular with such well-known titles as Harbor Master and Flight Control. Lion Pride blends line drawing with a fight for survival as you take on the task of managing a pride of lions trying to survive on the unforgiving African Savannah.
In Lion Pride you control all of the lionesses in the pride. Initially, you only have one lioness, but but it does not take very long before you will have three to manage. The male lion of your pride is not under your direct control, but he is an important part of its survival and the success of your hunts. Just like with real lions, you will need to be strategic in your hunting; flub too many hunts and the entire pride could wind up starving. Also, your lions aren’t the only predators on the Savannah. Hyenas are a powerful rival and they will eat or chase away prey animals so you must deal with them swiftly if you hope to succeed.
Controls: To direct a lioness, simply draw a line away from her and she will follow; however, the game expands on that and uses a simple mechanic to let you decide whether she moves stealthily through the grass or charges in for the kill. If you draw at a slower rate, her path is represented by white dots and she will move unseen through the grass. Draw more quickly, and her path is shown as red dots as she runs in for the attack.
Strategy: Your hunting success depends on more than your ability to have a lioness chasing down prey. To be successful, you will need to use stealth and strategy. Have a lioness move in close and then run in for the kill before her unwary prey can move. Alternatively, position other lionesses at key points and use one lioness to startle prey in their direction. The Savannah in Lion Pride is populated with a number of different animals to hunt including warthogs, antelope, zebra, and cape buffalo. Zebra and cape buffalo present their own challenge because they require multiple lions to coordinate for the kill. You must have two lions to take down a zebra or it will escape your grasp. Cape buffalo are even more devastating. They require three lions to kill them; anything less than that and the buffalo will throw the lion off and stun it for several seconds.
Diversity: The game has eight stages and a Survival mode. As you progress through the stages, which all must be played to unlock Survival, new game elements are introduced. This offers a nice learning curve on how to deal with all the things you will see brought together in Survival mode. In addition, each Stage awards you with points, stats, and a letter grade showing how well you did. This definitely adds to the challenge if you want to try and get all A’s. There is also global scoring for Survival mode so you can see how well you stack up against other players.
Graphics and Sounds: Lion Pride features polished looking, cartoon-like graphics in an overhead view of the grasslands that might remind you of a certain Disney movie. The graphics give the game a cute and fun appearance that offset its more serious themes and are a pleasure to look at. The game’s background music consists of some unobtrusive jungle beats, but it is the animals that provide the bulk of the sounds. All the animals have their own unique, realistic vocalizations that really help set the tone of the game.
Stats: The game has a Scores section that shows your highest score attained, your letter grade average, total number of kills, and your favorite prey among other things. I would really like it if the data were more comprehensive and included things like how many of each animal type you’ve killed, overall hunting success percentage, and your best letter grade earned per stage. Also, your letter grade average is determined by all of the games you have played and is not an average of your current letter grades earned per level. This means that after you have perfected your technique and earned all A’s for the stages, you will probably not have an A average in Scores because it’s likely that early on you were still learning and making mistakes giving you lower grades that are then incorporated into your average.
Pathing: The game is really sensitive to your drawing speed so you need to be careful on guiding your lionesses. Sometimes when you place your finger on a lioness and start drawing a path, the first few dots will be red and then go to white. This can cause nearby animals you are trying to sneak up on to become startled, and they will run away in all directions leaving you hungry. You need to take care to simply place a finger on the screen and draw steadily to ensure that when you want to sneak, you will be sneaking for the entire length of your path.
Lion Pride is a fun game that brings a unique twist to the line drawing or routing management type game. If you enjoy these types of games but want to do something more exciting than just docking ships or landing planes then you should try this fight for survival. Your success will depend on more than your ability to draw routes but also on your ability to make sound tactical decisions when hunting. Overall, Lion Pride is definitely a worthwhile game with lots of polish, challenge, and replayability.
Editor’s Note: Please welcome our new contributor to the team, Devilishly Good! This is her first post, and she’ll be continuing to focus on bringing you reviews of great new iPhone/iPod games.