Category Archives: Impressions

The Blocks Cometh updated, second impressions and a whole lotta love

The Blocks Cometh by Halfbot [$1.99, review] recently received an update featuring improved controls and collision, as well as addition bug fixes and performance improvements. I thoroughly enjoyed the game when I reviewed it last month, and with the improvements made in 1.01, the game is even more enjoyable and easy to recommend. But that’s not where this story ends …

Having put The Blocks Cometh aside after completing my review and moved on to other releases, I came back to the game with the update and have hardly put it down since. In the last two weeks, The Blocks Cometh has become the most played game on my phone as I have gradually been working my way through the game’s 20 achievements — I have only a few more to go!

Of the unlockable characters, Halfbot and the Agent from League of Evil are my favorites. The agent is incredibly mobile and a lot of fun to play. Halfbot is fast on his feet — er, wheel — but one of the game’s weakest jumpers. The little guy has a wealth of personality, though, making him the game’s most likable character. When the other characters die, the game is over and it’s a shame; when Halfbot bites it, I feel really bad having let the little guy down. Being a humble conglomeration of blue pixels, it’s a fantastic feat of art direction for Halfbot to possess such incredible strength of character.

In all honestly, I would very much like to see Halfbot get his own spinoff title. I want to spend more time with the little guy.

Halfbot — the developer, not the robot — promises a content update coming soon including new gameplay modes, characters and achievements. Beyond that, however, I can only hope the game will continue to evolve. Following an all-too-brief spike on the app store charts, the game quickly fell off the radar. According to the developers’ blog, the game’s sales performance has been less than what was hoped for, perhaps due to the much publicized plagiarism of the game that hit the app store some months earlier.

Can weak sales be attributed to gamers having previously bought Edison Games’ rip-off, and not wanting to shell out for the real thing?

Whatever the case, let’s hope the next update isn’t last we see for The Blocks Cometh, because I still have a wish list of things I’d like to see added to this fantastic game: character-specific leaderboards and further control improvements (the attack button could be more responsive yet) top my list of realistic requests, while wishful thinking would also like to see a game mode with enemies to fight — maybe crossing over with League of Evil again to include some of that game’s baddies — as characters all have attacks anyway, why not give them someone to fight?

Of course, The Blocks Cometh is already wonderful as it is. I have a wish list not because the game still isn’t good enough, but because it’s so good that I just want more.

If you haven’t yet played The Blocks Cometh, get on it. When it comes to games of vertical ascension, games like Doodle Jump, Mega Jump and The Incident are all okay, but only The Blocks Cometh has really managed to grab my attention in any significant way. I can’t put it down, and I certainly hope more iOS gamers will pick it up.

‘Cro-Mag Rally’ GameCenter Impressions

GameCenter has finally made its debut onto the beloved iPhones and iPod touches around the world.  The wait wasn’t as long as everyone thought, atleast for me anyways.

And since I’m such a sucker when it comes to new and shiny things, it only made sense to try out GameCenter and see what it’s really like: is it everything we hoped for?  And to that I say only one answer: yes.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still some large flaws in GameCenter and its implementation.  In Cro-Mag Rally, for example, you can’t add friends within Cro-Mag and must exit out and go into the actual GameCenter app to add friends.  I also noticed crashes after receiving a phone call; the reason being GameCenter is unknown.

But other than that, everything else seemed to run quite smoothly.  My brother and I played an online multiplayer match via GameCenter, and to the surprise of both my brother and myself, seamless voice chat has been implemented alongside the online multiplayer.

The multiplayer itself was also very smooth with no lag or stutter, but I must say that the voice chat is the most surprising feature.  And if you don’t like people hearing you curse in frustration or do the sexy dance after winning first place, you can turn off the microphone with the touch of a button.

The most disappointing thing for me though would have to be the UI.  Apple is usually numero uno when it comes to the user interface; in my opinion, the iPhone has the best user interface among all smart phones.

But GameCenter’s UI is quite old-school and the font doesn’t seem quite right… along with the fact that the whole thing seems quite bare with little to no color; it feels like I’m staring at a wall of text.

Overall, I would say that GameCenter is the best, but not what it could be.  The UI needs a major overhaul, the features implemented into apps need to be more abundant, and bugs still need to be worked out.  I really like the online multiplayer with voice chat though, and hats off to Apple for creating the next step for iPhone gaming.

If you’re interested in picking up Cro-Mag Rally from the App Store, it’s available now for $2.99 with iPhone 4-optimized graphics and iPad support.

First Impressions of ‘Rimelands: Hammer of Thor’

Rimelands takes place in a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, in which the world produced so much pollution that it created a thousand year period of winter.  While many people failed to survive, some did through the use of “Steam Fountains”, fountains of energy and heat that moved the machinery and gave the people warmth.

Hammer of Thor is the first in the Rimelands series, and the first one seems to be based just after the thousand year cold spell, in a world that’s starting to recover.

You are casted as a treasure hunter who’s grandma is obsessed with collecting treasures, so your job is to go out there and find as many as possible, along with finding out about your past.

The game as a whole looks great, even though it is a bit pixelated on the iPhone 4.  The controls do need some time of getting used to, but they shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  Combat is based on a turn-based method, meaning you attack, then your enemy attacks.

Your damage is controlled through dice, which show two skulls, one skull, a shield, and an ‘X’.  The two skulls represent the most damage, while the ‘X’ means no damage.  You also have the choice to chose between three paths: a melee fighter, ranged, or magic.

Most of the quests in the beginning seem to be retrieving items from the dungeon(s), along with picking up odd quests from people in the village.  I haven’t gotten too far into the game yet, but from what I see, it looks to be promising.  The only thing that I don’t know is how much content it has, but it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.

We’ll be having our review up soon, but for now, be sure to check out Rimelands: Hammer of Thor in the App Store for $4.99.

iPad Games Hands-On: Flight Control, Touchgrind, and More

I visited the Apple Store today, not to get an iPad, but to test it out and see what it’s made of.  Once one of the demo models were available, I picked it right on up and launched Firemint’s Real Racing, a game that played phenomenally on the iPhone.  To me, racing didn’t seem like a type of game that would do well on the iPad, as the iPad looked a bit clumsy and large to tilt.  Boy, was I wrong.

Real Racing HD

Everyone has been saying this, and I’ll say it again, the resolution on the iPad screen is absolutely phenomenal.  When tilting away on the iPad, the experience was much more immersive than that of the iPhone.  The graphics were also quite amazing, and the cockpit view felt like I was actually driving.  Real Racing on the iPad works much better than on the iPhone, and I was completely blown away by one, the graphics and two, the resolution.

Flight Control HD

Yet another game that benefits from the iPad’s large screen.  The iPad version also adds another 4 iPad-specific maps along with a split-screen mode for multiplayer.  I tested out the split-screen mode and found it to be quite nice, although it seems that that mode can only be played on a flat surface.  As for the single player, new maps, the large screen brought out much of the color.  I wouldn’t say that the iPad version changed the gameplay experience to awesome sauce, but again, the resolution and aesthetics were what blew me away.

Touchgrind HD

This is one game that was screaming, convulsing, and pissing its pants to be on a larger screen.  The concept was absolutely wonderful, and it’s a game that can only be executed on a touchscreen.  So it only made sense for it to be brought to the iPad, and the larger screen made viewing the skate park much easier.  While I had some slight problems with the touch responsiveness, it was definitely a game that benefited from the larger screen.  And like all the games above, the resolution was absolutely amazing.

Madden NFL ’10 Zoomed In

The demo iPad was also loaded up with App Store games, including Madden NFL.  So what the heck, of course I would love to play some ground n’ pound football right on that big screen.  And from my impressions with it, it worked surprisingly well.  The graphics were slightly pixelated but not too bad, and the controls worked okay.  Madden neither benefited or declined on the iPad, and the experience felt the same as the iPhone.  The only thing different I have to point out is this: playing on the iPhone is like playing the PS3 on a 20-inch TV, while playing on the iPad is like playing on a 52-inch screen; whichever one you prefer to play your games on.

I didn’t get to try out anymore games on the iPad due to the large amount of people to lay waste to the device, but from my experience, gaming on the iPad and gaming on the iPhone is like comparing gaming on the PS2 to gaming on the PS3.  Sure, the iPad may be expensive and somewhat awkward to hold at times, but the larger screen and higher resolution fully immerses you in the game, something that the iPhone hasn’t quite been able to do.

First Look at ‘Speed Forge Extreme’ from Chillingo

Wipeout for the PSP seems to be the name of the game in the App Store, with tons of failed attempts at the futuristic racer.  We’ve seen some come close like Low Grav Racer 2, but ultimately, missing features led to its demise.  Among the many, Speed Forge Extreme was released just last night with some blur effects and whatnot on the iPhone 3GS.

Now, you’re all probably wondering, “Is this any good?”  I’m going to probably say, “Yes, this game is awesome.”  But why you ask?  Speed Forge Extreme feels like a futuristic racer, it looks like a futuristic racer, and drives like a futuristic racer.

When you’re playing the game, you’ll be listening to techno beats along with some other slight variations of the music genre, and it’s very well done.  The ship is more zoomed out than zoomed in, giving you a sense of speed along with a feeling that you’re gliding across the track.  I know a sense of speed is always important in a racing game such as this, and I believe the developer did a pretty solid job with the overall feel.

As for the graphics, they’re absolutely amazing.  I’m on an iPhone 3GS right now, but many users have reported that the game looks great even without the 3GS enhancements.  Everything runs so smoothly, and looks great, that you won’t have to worry about the graphics.  The only downfall with the design were the menu options; they look absolutely horrible.  It was slightly clunky and didn’t exactly fit with the whole theme.

The controls were also a huge part to this game’s success, offering accelerometer and touch controls, a feature that was missing in Low Grav Racer 2.  You shouldn’t have any trouble with the controls, and I found both methods to be very responsive.

Overall, Speed Forge Extreme is a solid futuristic racer.  While it is missing vehicle sounds, has a clunky user interface, and doesn’t have many ships, the overall look and feel is amazing.  We’ll have a review up soon enough, but for now, I think it’s safe to say that if you’re looking for Wipeout on iPhone, don’t look any further.