Tag Archives: OpenFeint

Who’s That Flying?! Review: A Soaring Good Time

The Guardian of Earth has failed in his duties, has allowed hordes of Doom Beasts to run rampant in Earth’s fair cities, and has been put to trial by his intergalactic peers — the Galactic Counsel of Space Justice — to face space justice for his inadequacies …

Who’s That Flying?! — a.k.a. WTF?! — is a unique side-scrolling shooter emphasizing both its narrative and its action. The tale unfolds as the Guardian of Earth recounts events to the council, often hilariously, with players reliving his exploits — as action-packed stages of alien blasting! — in the telling. The dialogue is punchy, full of banter, and laugh-out-loud funny, if a tad juvenile at times.

With excellent use of humor, unique game mechanics and a presentation as stylish as it is adorable, WTF?! manages to set itself well apart from other app store shooters. What’s more, the game is just plain fun!

In most shooters, players must avoid collisions with enemy ships and projectiles, while collecting power-ups to better their chances of success. WTF?! eschews even these basic conventions. For starters, the Guardian of Earth cannot die; he can only fail in his appointed duties. Ravagers are the most basic of enemy types, but also of greatest concern to our hero; their goal is not to defeat him, but to get past him so that they may rampage in the city. Each ravager that gets by the Guardian of Earth will do damage to the city, and when the city suffers enough damage, the Guardian will have failed.

The Guardian of Earth is too powerful to be harmed by these creatures; collide with a ravager and the Guardian will simply tear it apart. More effective in dealing with the ravagers’ constant threat, however, is the stream of laser beams the Guardian constantly spews. By destroying ravagers, the Guardian of Earth builds his multiplier. As the multiplier builds, his Awesome Meter increases in several levels, each level corresponding to increasingly devastating special attacks. Allowing a ravager to slip by, however, breaks the chain and empties the Awesome Meter’s current level progress.

The thrust of the game then is to chain attacks, building the Awesome Meter to unleash destruction upon your foes, and not allowing a single ravager to slip past you. Collisions are okay, but misses are not.

Beginning with the second stage, however, new enemies appear to attack the Guardian of Earth directly. While they cannot kill him, they have various means of distracting him, stunning him or blocking his attacks, allowing ravagers to slip by unharmed to wreak havoc upon Earth’s cities. Larger enemies need be softened up with laser beams, with the Guardian then able to grab hold and pummel them. Fun stuff!

And so WTF?! is both a shooter and a defense game, an intriguing blend of genres.

The game’s audio/visual presentation is cartoonish and further serves to drive the game’s humor. The Guardian of Earth spins and hurtles through the air impressively, showboating for his fans while battling invaders. As he builds chains, the crowds below can be heard cheering, but begroan his failures when a ravager gets by him. All the while, the Guardian proclaims his own awesomeness and enthralls his audience with his tales of daring-do.

The game includes 12 achievements, in-game labeled as “Evidence” for the trial. The OpenFeint social gaming platform is supported, but Game Center is not — indeed, WTF?!

Aside from the lack of Game Center support, the only gripe I can level against the game are its controls, which take some getting used to. Left or right joysticks are available as options, but the Touch controls are definitely the way to play. But even so, the touch controls are a mite wonky and imprecise. Essentially, a joystick is centered wherever you touch the screen; I find myself having to crank the sensitivity WAAAAAY down to prevent my Guardian from swirling all over the screen. After a short adjustment period the controls become manageable, but I would far prefer to see 1:1 relative touch controls, like those found in Space Invaders Infinity Gene and a number of other shooters. Maybe I can hope to see such controls (and Game Center support?!) added in an update …

Minor shortcomings aside, Who’s That Flying?! is a wonderfully fun game and an easy recommendation. I’ve been having a blast with it!

Who’s That Flying?! [$2.99] is developed by MediaTonic and published by Capcom. Reviewed on an iPhone 4.

Tiny Wings Review: An Exhilarating Flight

Tiny Wings was quite a surprise.

At first glance, it looked like a game that looked nice but would never do well on the App Store.  There were just way too many apps with this type of artwork (or at least I think I’ve seen some like this), and the gameplay wasn’t all that exhilarating at first.  It was $0.99, but it was lacking GameCenter and decided to go with the old OpenFeint.

But boy was I wrong, as looking at iTunes reveals Tiny Wings as the #1 Paid App ahead of Angry Birds, which was the king for quite a while now.

And with that said, I still don’t think that Tiny Wings is great.  It’s good and it’s really not too far away from great, but like I said before: it’s not great.

GameCenter is sorely lacking, there’s really no way to fairly compete on the leaderboards, and some more game modes would be nice.  Listening to your own iPod music is also lacking, and it’s extremely frustrating when I can’t listen to my music.  The soundtrack in here is great and all, but I’m just the type of person that doesn’t really like to listen to game music at all.

Likes

Artwork: While I feel like I’ve seen this type of artwork before somewhere within the App Store, that still doesn’t take away from its charm.  Tiny Wings has some smooth and soothing artwork that almost looks like paper.

Simplicity: It’s simple.  There’s really nothing more to it, and I’m pretty sure that this is a type of app that anyone and everyone can play.

Addictive: Trying to get your multiplier up is quite addictive, and reaching objectives really adds another twist to the casual gaming genre.  While unlocking objectives does make the game a little bit unfair, it adds some needed depth.

Dislikes

GameCenter: I have no use for OpenFeint anymore, sad to say, as I have moved on to GameCenter.  I want to unlock achievements on GameCenter so that my total number of achievements will be higher.  I have more people to compete against in GameCenter.  I could go on and on and on, and the developer promises that an update is coming soon, but until then, this was a major oversight when releasing the app.

Leaderboard competition: There’s no way you can compete on the leaderboards.  Just because you had a good run doesn’t mean you’re going to be beat your brother or friend: whoever has the highest multiplier and has achieved more objectives will receive a higher score.  So if your friend has a x20 multiplier and you only have x12, nine times out of ten your friend will have a higher score no matter what.  That does kind of defeat the purpose for competition.

iPod music: Let me play my iPod music.  Yet another major oversight.

Crashes: I don’t think I’ve had to list this one in a long time, but Tiny Wings does crash.  If you’re receiving push notifications from another app (at least in my case), Tiny Wings will crash almost all the time.  It is especially annoying when you’re closing in on your highest score only to crash and have to restart the entire game.

Tiny Wings is a good game.  But it’s extremely raw when it comes to options such as being able to listen to your own music, and it also left out GameCenter on its initial launch.  The gameplay is addictive, though, and the artwork isn’t too shabby.  It has all the necessary components to make a good game, but for now, I can’t give it our highest award and deem it absolutely perfect.

Tiny Wings was developed by Andreas Illiger, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $0.99.


Chop Chop Caveman Review: The Best Chop Chop Yet!

When developer Gamerizon released Chop Chop Ninja late last year, they had a hit on their hands. The unique action platformer offered a novel solution to the dilemma faced by most of its genre peers on the iPhone, eschewing virtual d-pads and buttons altogether in favor of a buttonless touch interface. And while the experience often devolved into a screen-tapping frenzy, it was nonetheless refreshing. Gamerizon was quick to follow-up on that game’s success, releasing the ninja spin-off Chop Chop Runner and the sports titles Chop Chop Tennis, Hockey and Soccer. In the last year, the Chop Chop franchise has enjoyed more than six million downloads worldwide!

And at long last, the Chop Chop franchise returns to its platforming roots in its newest, and perhaps greatest itineration — Chop Chop Caveman.

Likes:

Visual Presentation: Chop Chop Caveman looks fantastic, having the best art direction of the franchise. The game keeps with the series’ signature Powerpuff Girls-like look, but has perhaps the richest, most attractive color palette of any Chop Chop game thus far. The jungles and other environments are alive with color, vibrant and exciting, and a joy to behold. The titular caveman is adorable, as are all of his prehistoric nemeses, and the game has some really nice animations, especially when compared to the cardboard puppetry of Chop Chop Ninja. Add support for the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, and Chop Chop Caveman is a pretty game indeed!

Controls: Mechanically, Caveman’s controls are identical to those found in Chop Chop Ninja and should feel immediately familiar to anyone who played the earlier game. A great deal of refinement has been introduced to the experience, however. Overall, the controls just feel tighter and more responsive. The Caveman feels less floaty and easy to maneuver, and the game has been streamlined such that it feels more like playing a game, and less like a tap-tap storm. The experience of playing Chop Chop Caveman is just much smoother than its predecessor, and these relatively minor control adjustments make a world of difference in actually playing the game.

Replay Value: There are lots of reasons to come back to Chop Chop Caveman. In each of the game’s 20 stages there are pebbles, three large gems and a tasty vegetable to be found. High scores are also kept for each stage — based on completion time, pebbles collected, kills and meat eaten — providing incentive to return to completed stages to better your scores. The game features integration with both OpenFeint and Game Center, with acheivements and leaderboards.

Universal App: For $0.99, Chop Chop Caveman comes as a universal app playable both on iPhones and iPads. And because of the game’s buttonless interface, it plays equally well on all devices. I find myself preferring the iPad only because its larger screen allows me to enjoy the game’s gorgeous art assets all the more.

Story: Chop Chop Caveman is HUNGRY and needs meat!! It’s a simple premise, but cavemen are not known to have been the deepest of thinkers. This is a no-nonsense tale of a hungry caveman munching dinosaurs, and that’s all the motivation I need to have fun. What I enjoy most about the game is its lack of melodrama and pompous puffery. The game takes itself about as seriously as it ought to: not much.

Dislikes:

Whatever dislikes I leveled against Chop Chop Ninja have more or less been addressed in Chop Chop Caveman. Anything negative I could say against the game would be nothing more than nit-picking, and even then I find it difficult to complain.

Chop Chop Caveman may be the best prehistoric platformer since Bonk’s Adventure, and the best Chop Chop game yet. Despite its setting having moved backwards in time, the imperfections of Chop Chop Ninja have here been honed in the most forward-thinking manner, and while cavemen may be well-reputed for their rough demeanors, Chop Chop Caveman is as smooth as they come. I’ve been really enjoying the game, and I’m pretty sure you will too. You get a lot of thump for your buck in this one, and I have no problem calling it a …

Chop Chop Caveman is developed by Gamerizon, and available as a universal app for $0.99. Reviewed at version 1.0 on an iPhone 4 and iPad.

Fruit Ninja update: Slice it up in Arcade Mode

Although it was released a good six months ago, Halfbrick Studios’ über-popular title Fruit Ninja received a free update yesterday, introducing a new variation to their ubiquitous fruit-slashing goodness. The new game mode, Arcade, borrows a little bit from each of Fruit Ninja’s already established modes, Classic and Zen. In Arcade Mode, like in Zen Mode, you are given a certain amount of time to try for a high score. And like in Classic Mode, bombs are tossed into the mix, although here they set your score back by ten points rather than giving you a “game over” if you should slash one by accident. Arcade Mode also introduces a breath of fresh air into the traditional Fruit Ninja milieu, with the addition of power-ups.

The three power-ups, which are unique to Arcade Mode, are the Double Points, Frenzy, and Freeze Bananas, and they add a level of frantic excitement to the Fruit Ninja formula which I really enjoyed. Once activated, each power-up lasts for about six seconds or so. The Double Points Banana does… well, exactly what it sounds like it would. The Frenzy Banana, my personal favorite, unleashes a torrent of fruit across the screen, allowing you the chance to rack up some insane fruit-slicing combos. And last but certainly not least, the Freeze Banana slows down time, giving you a chance for pin-point accuracy and even bigger combos.

Although it’s still essentially the same old Fruit Ninja most of us have already come to know and love, it’s nice to see Halfbrick Studios giving back to their fan base. If you’ve already tried the game and somehow managed to not enjoy it, this probably won’t be enough to change your mind. But if you still haven’t tried it out, this is a perfect time to head down to the dojo and get to slicing. And for those of us who already own it, the update adds a good reason to keep coming back for more and more succulent combo-licious goodness.

Rogue Runner Review: Run Away!

Hot on the heels of nearly every app store success follow the inevitable quick cash-in copycat titles. Glowdot ProductionsRogue Runner is one such game. Crafted in the mold of Halfbrick Studios’ Monster Dash, Rogue Runner attempts to offer a similarly over-the-top, casual run-and-gun experience, and while it plays many of the same notes, it plays them without any feeling. Like an uninspired cover version of your favorite song, Rogue Runner is familiar, but falls flat in its execution.

The story is loose and unclear. You’re some kind of rogue agent having busted out of a facility in the desert and are on the run from both enemies agents and their alien cohorts. In the course of your escape, you will battle enemies both on the ground and in the air while attempting to avoid the desert’s many pitfalls.

As in Monster Dash, tapping the bottom left corner of the screen causes your character to jump, while tapping the bottom right fires your forward aimed weapon. Setting out, you are given the choice of driving either a jeep or a tank. Your choice of vehicle is cosmetic only, however, and has no impact on game play. Ground enemies attack from on foot and in vehicles of their own, though they amount to the same thing. Helicopters and UFOs will also attack you from the air; to destroy them, tap on them to launch surface-to-air missiles or just shoot them down from the peak of your leaps.

Your vehicle can withstand three hits or falls. Miraculously, when you fall into a pit you only lose a heart and then your vehicle parachutes back in from the sky. Huh? Once your vehicle is destroyed, you have a final chance to continue on foot. In an act of pure senselessness, however, there is no game play difference between being in vehicle or on foot. On foot, you move at the same speed, jump exactly the same height and fire surface-to-air missiles out of your buttocks. Huh?!

Likes:

Pixel Art: I’m a sucker for pixelated, retro graphics. Rogue Runner’s sprites look something like the offspring of Final Fantasy VI and Metal Slug. The pixel art really is the best thing about the game.

Dislikes:

It’s all the same: The helicopters are the same as the UFOs. The running agents are the same as the driving agents. The jeep is the same as the tank is the same as the agent on foot. HOW DOES HE FIRE SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILES FROM HIS BUTTOCKS?! I WANT TO KNOW!!

No weapons or pick-ups: One of the things that made Monster Dash so much fun were the different and silly weapons, like the machine gun jetpack! Rogue Runner has none; you have your standard pistol and your butt missiles, and that’s all she wrote. There’s nothing to find, nothing to collect, nothing to do except shoot at your enemies, and your enemies — despite their different appearances — are all the same.

Jumping: The jumping in Rogue Runner just plain stinks. It feels floaty and off, too difficult to control with any degree of accuracy. Monster Dash and Canabalt both nailed the jumping and succeeded because of it. Rogue Runner, on the other hand, just feels wrong and you will constantly and senselessly find yourself falling into pits, not because you’re bad at the game, but because the game just doesn’t feel right.

A Fundamental Lack of Intelligent Design: Your thumbs obscure the lower two corners of the game screen. Monster Dash took this into account, making surfaces tall enough that they were never obscured by your thumbs and you could always see the next rooftop coming. Rogue Runner makes no such allowance. Ground will often scroll into the screen beneath your thumbs, costing you precious milliseconds in which to act as you simply cannot see what’s coming. It’s a flaw in the game that will get you killed repeatedly.

OpenFeint / No Achievements: I usually list OpenFeint support among a game’s strong points, but Rogue Runner fails to take advantage of what OpenFeint has to offer. It uses the service for leaderboards only, and there are no achievements of any kind. Truly lame.

Rogue Runner is obviously attempting to tap into the same market as Canabalt and Monster Dash, and trying to appeal to gamers who enjoyed those games. By their very nature, these running games become repetitive. Canabalt managed to overcome its repetitive nature by providing an atmosphere so compelling, and such attention to detail that it that it succeeded not only as a game, but as a work of digital art. Monster Dash managed to overcome its repetitive nature using achievements, awards, ridiculous statistic tracking, zany weaponry, changing environments and immense charm. Rogue Runner offers none of the above, and simply fails to overcome its own repetitiveness as a result.

Rogue Running looks the part, but sadly does not play it well. The game becomes tiresome quickly — in my case, within the first five minutes of download — and gives very little reason to return to it. It has far less on offer than either of the games it’s aping, and your time would be better spent playing them instead. If nothing else, Rogue Runner just goes to show that when a game makes Apple’s list of New & Noteworthy titles, that only makes it new, and not necessarily noteworthy. I wish I had my dollar back.

Rogue Runner is developed by Glowdot Productions, and sells for $0.99. Don’t buy it.