Category Archives: Impressions

First Look at Racer

When I first saw this game, I thought to myself “Nice graphics, gameplay looks so uninspired.”  Little did I know, Racer has the potential to be the next Flight Control.  It’s a bite-size or “snackable” game perfect for the App Store $0.99 economy right now, and it provides some fun worthy for hardcore and casual gamers alike.

Gameplay is very similar to all those flash games where you have to dodge all the incoming rocks.  In this case, you dodge incoming traffic while trying to race through the highway as long as you can.  Each car you pass counts as around 200 points, and after around 2 levels, you get another life.  The game starts out with 3 lives, and if you are skilled enough, those lives can keep climbing up and up until the top.  Of course, the game is far from being that easy and as each level passes by, the traffic gets faster, thicker, and more aggressive.  Once you run out of all your lives, you can post on the global leaderboard and see what place you rank among the thousands of other people.

Artwork and graphics are very nicely done, and everything is done with a level of extreme polish.  Just like Flight Control, this game offers some high-end artwork that should be placed in the Hall of App Store Artwork or something; it’s just that good.  I love the detail that went into the cars, and although there aren’t a variety of cars, each one has nice and crisp details to depict one from the other.  One feature that I found was quite intriguing was the fact that you can change the color of the car from green to red to a light or dark blue.

All in all, Racer is a simple game that offers everything an iPhone gamer could ever wish for.  It’s not one of those huge Real Racing type games with thousands of customizations and whatnot, but it offers adequate options and great gameplay.  The gameplay is very, very uninspired but what the developer did with this concept is absolutely amazing.  Online highscores, great graphics, and surprisingly addictive gameplay make this game a wonder.  This is casual gaming done right.

The price is $0.99, and the creators are Tatem Games.

First Look at Pinball Fantasies

Of all the pinball games in the App Store, Pinball Fantasies seems like one of the top ones.  It was great on the Amiga game system, and the iPhone version looks even better.  But does it play better?

Gameplay is what you would normally find in a pinball game: use the flippers and don’t let the ball get through.  Hit as many bumpers you can and complete missions to achieve the ultimate score.  In Pinball Fantasies, there are 4 tables provided, each with its own unique design and missions.  Personally, I liked the Stones N’ Bones table the best since I got the highest score from that table, but the other tables also provide some fun missions.  The tables include Party Land, Stones N’ Bones, Speed Devil, and Billion Dollar Gameshow.  Highscores can be found on the main screen by “staying still” until the highscores show up.  I would have preferred for them to be on the back of the disks, but for right now, they aren’t much of a problem.  The objectives and missions in this game seem to be a lot more clearer than Monster Pinball, and it seems to play very fast and smooth.

Graphics and animations are very nicely done, and they have been improved compared to the Amiga version.  The table and everything included within the table is very intricately designed, and the detail is impeccable.  I’m very impressed with the designs and really love what Cowboy Rodeo did with the menu screen.  The floppy disks that show which table you want to choose is really well done with a design that is absolutely flawless.  There is also a landscape mode provided with this game and is compatible with all tables and menus.

All in all, Pinball Fantasies is quite a game.  I enjoyed this one a lot more than Wild West Pinball and Monster Pinball, and it seems to be one of the best to date.  Clear objectives and intricate designs for each table make this a clear winner.  Although it is a direct port with little to no changes in gameplay, Cowboy Rodeo did a great job with preserving the gameplay and not butchering it with difficult controls or anything like that.  The game runs very smooth also, which is another huge plus to this game and an update has been submitted that will let the game run 60 frames per second on every device.  I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Pinball Fantasies, and although $5.99 is a high price, it certainly is worth every penny.  If you’re a pinball fan, this should be a no-brainer for most and should be purchased sooner rather than later.

The price is $5.99, and the creators are Cowboy Rodeo.

First Look at Lunar Module 3D

Ever since Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, space exploration has been quite an awesome subject for us humans.  Exploring the stars, looking at our solar system, everything is quite beautiful when it comes to space… right?

Gameplay is pretty unique, and it’s all about patience and beauty.  In Lunar Module 3D, you control a lunar module by tilting your device left, right, up, and down while pressing the thrust button.  The thrust will get you to where you are going, which in this case is a landing pad, and it is all about being patient in this game.  It is recommended that you should thrust with short bursts of flame to land safe and sound on the landing pad.  To land safely, the horizontal and vertical speed must both be green; they can be found on the bottom left hand side of the screen.  If you don’t land gently, you’ll inevitably crash into pieces and all hope will be lost.  There are around 9 levels included in the game, and each level gets more difficult by adding more landing pads.  In each level, you must land on each landing pad before progressing to the next level, and I found that each level took around 10-20 minutes.

Graphics and artwork are very simple, but at the same time, very nicely done.  The 3D aspect is very nicely put together, and I found the overall design of the game to be adequately done.  The one thing that I quite enjoyed were the “space commentaries” found in the beginning of each level, and I found them to be quite comical.  The simple design in this game works great, and while I would want some moon craters in the background, the current version is enough to sate your moon design needs.

All in all, Lunar Module 3D offers some breathtaking gameplay that’s beautiful and stress relieving at the same time.  I found the soundtrack to help in the total concentration needed in this game, and I also found it to be stress-relieving.  Crashing the lunar module is a horrible feeling, but this game makes me want to keep playing over and over until the level is complete.  The controls also work very nicely in this game, and I am glad the developer did not input a D-pad control scheme into this game.  Some suggestions would be to have each level timed to try and add some replay value, and maybe even online highscores to see who can land the lunar modules the fastest.  Other than that, this game provides some beautiful gameplay that can’t be found anywhere else for $0.99.

The price is $0.99, and the creators are J-Squared Software.

We’re In For A Shipwreck!

CandyCane, the makers of the highly acclaimed Fuzzle, has just released their newest game Shipwreck to the App Store.  The game is very similar to Harbor Master and Flight Control, but does it have what it takes to shine from the rest?

Gameplay is just like Harbor Master, drag the ships to the ports and unload the cargo.  The boats will unload automatically and drive away automatically, which is something I prefer over manually driving the ships out.  There are two different colors of ships, red and yellow, and there are around 3 types of ships for each color.  There is only one map in this game, and although the core of the gameplay is great, the execution was a little poor.  One map and two colors of ships is not quite enough to compete with Harbor Master which has 4 maps and Flight Control which also has around 3 or 4.  There are no noticeable twists in this game, and it feels like a direct copy of Harbor Master.  The ships automatically driving out of the harbor could be counted as a “twist”, but other than that, the gameplay is almost exactly like Harbor Master.  Another thing that I found was lacking was online highscores.  A game like this without online highscores is a pain, especially when it’s competition contains online highscores and much more.  The gameplay is a little bit faster-paced than Flight Control and Harbor Master, but there is a lack of a fast forward button.

Artwork is adequate enough to look great and feel great.  The artwork is probably the biggest plus to this game, and although all the other games offer great artwork, this one looks nice as well.  The docks and map could have been designed a little better, but the overall design was pretty well thought out, and the graphics are pretty clear.  My main gripe with this game was that the artwork and graphics were a little too simple, and I felt that there wasn’t much time put into it.

All in all, look for alternatives.  With only one map and two colors of ships, this game is sorely lacking.  No fast forward, no online highscores, and very simple graphics also add to this game’s main failures.  The core of the gameplay is great, and the landing of ships was a little bit more enjoyable than Harbor Master, but the lacking features are the main failures to this game.  If CandyCane updates this with online highscores, I would be more than happy to change my review, but as for now, buy something else from this “genre”.

The price is $0.99, and the creators are CandyCane.  It is currently on a release sale for 66% off, so get it before the price increases.

First Look at A Doodle Flight

There have been many top-down shooters in the App Store from iFighter to Siberian Strike.  Most of them were quite enjoyable, although one problem with all of them were the controls.  Your finger would be covering the ship most of the time; therefore, you couldn’t see half the screen.  A Doodle Flight uses the accelerometer control method that works quite nice and is pretty accurate.  But does it have enough to survive?

Gameplay is similar to all the other shoot-em-ups, shoot the enemies in front of you and dodge the bullets.  In this game, you start out with two lives and three bombs, and it also includes a health bar on the bottom left corner of the screen.  Tilting your iPhone left and right will move your ship, and tilting your phone forward will move the ship up.  What I found quite enjoyable about the game were the variety of enemies, each with their own style of shooting and their own size.  I found this game to contain a variety of enemies and different bosses at the end of each level.  The beginning levels of the game are quite easy, and I breezed past them with no problem, but the later levels will be tough enough for all you hardcore gamers out there.  Compared to the other shoot-em-ups, I found this one to be the most challenging and entertaining.

Graphics look like a doodle you would find on your paper, similar to the graphics found in Doodle Jump and Parachute Panic.  I actually enjoyed the graphics and artwork quite a bit, and every detail is done quite nicely.  Menu designs are very nicely done, and the overall game design is great.  Some people may not be appealed to this graphics, and I did notice the ships were a little bit off, but most of the game is pretty well designed.

All in all, A Doodle Flight should be a game you should be looking out for if you are a fan of top-down shooters and shoot-em-ups.  If you enjoyed iFighter and Siberian Strike, this one should be right in your lane.  For only $0.99, A Doodle Flight provides adequate content, a variety of enemies, and great artwork.  Gameplay is also quite enjoyable, and I thought this game was wonderfully made.

The price is $0.99, and the creators are j2sighte.  There is also a lite version to try out.