Thursday, 23 October 2014

#SlideMaze [iOS] Update

So recently I got to preview Slide Maze by Luke Craig (Stereophonic Games.)
    You can read my preview/ review here.  

The thing is, I've since completed it and while eagerly awaiting its first update have come to realise, I was a bit off with regards something said regarding visuals. 
"Though, a little rough around the edges." 
See Slide Maze is much more polished than initially given credit. 

Small attentions to detail which make a big difference; like little exclamation marks that appear around our protagonist in directions posing danger.
    The individuality and unique traits of each character.
    Subtle acknowledging visual and audible effects when hitting a 'wall', animations in the UI  --camera shake!  

Anyway, I just felt these realisations were warranted mentioning.  I'm liking the game a lot and news of new content was perfect excuse to write some more.

Now onto the actual update!
    Luke tweeted me earlier today that this had been submitted to Apple for review, so keep a look out.  Meanwhile, you can sneak peek it at his website

Also available on Android

Consisting of 21 additional levels and an editor.  Players will be able to share their creations with the community and rate others'.
After creating a free account, you can create either race, or puzzle levels, then even test, also name them before submission.  All objects featured in Slide Maze's core game are available and the editor is easy to use. 

    The fact you can create, browse and play community levels brings potential infinity to already booming replay value.  That said, I look forward to more customisation options in a future update, perhaps with the background?

Yet to play this slide puzzler?  You can download it now for free.  

Saturday, 11 October 2014

#SlideMaze [iOS] Preview/ Review

Last night I was kindly given a chance to preview Slide Maze before it lands on the App Store today (Sunday) and so thought I'd share my first impressions with you guys. 

Stereophonic Games presents its take on a classic puzzler with fresh twists and calling this, one thrilling maze runner would not be far off the mark.

 As with similar games of its sub genre, the premise is simple: get 'x' ("Humphrey") from point 'a' to 'b' by navigating a 'maze'.
     Well, per usual things start off relatively easy, but this soon changes and routes become more obscure upon progression.

To navigate, simply swipe up, down, left or right, anywhere on screen.  
    Though it should be noted, the player can only change direction when they run into a 'wall'.
Controls are easy, responsive and at no point did I feel they were to blame for me making a wrong move, or failing any level by sliding off the edge.

Can be played in Portrait or Landscape Mode.

Slide Maze can be played in portrait or landscape mode and with one thumb, which gets a *thumbs up* from me.
Visuals, though a little rough around the edges, are cute, fun and in colourful 3D with some nice shadow effects.  Mazes are seen from a bird's eye, but limited view and the UI, also menus sit well alongside.  Navigating's straightforward though there is one 'page' somewhere that seems out of bounds.

A couple of previously unplayed aspects this time, at least in my experience are; levels are also time trials and some even against the clock in another way.
    The latter's mechanic materialises by way of an automatically moving screen.  Move too slow and our protagonist disappears into oblivion along with some already vertically scrolled play-field.
    These features turn what may have formerly been a leisurely puzzle title into one fast-paced race for the finish over foreign ground. Quick-thinking is good exercise, as there's often no time to plan ahead or go back.  Memorizing routes might work for replays and "practise makes perfect"?

Slide Maze has three virtual currencies, two of which can be bought with real money;

Jewels:  As you progress these are earned, up to three per level. First upon successfully reaching goal, then when a stage is completed fast enough ,and finally for using the fewest number of moves required.
    In addition to replay value, earning jewels also unlocks gates to higher levels and a bonus stage (one every six) where you can earn bonus coins.

Coins:  Along with the aforementioned, these are both awarded for completing levels and given daily --just for playing.  Coins can be used to buy up to five additional playable characters.

Keys: Far as I've gathered these can only be purchased for in real life cash and are an alternate way to unlock level gates.

XP is also accumulated, this possibly unlocks music from the soundtrack? It's quirky!

One more thing worth mentioning, you actually get rewarded for viewing picture ads!  (Or penalised when skipping them.)  Also hey, if one really dislikes advertisements that much ,and/ or does not want free money, albeit virtual, an upgrade to remove them all is available. 

This iOS version sports 48 hand-crafted puzzles so far.  Additional levels and a level editor that grants you opportunities to upload your own creations (as on Android devices) may be in the pipeline. 

Slide Maze
Stereophonic Games
"Calling this, one thrilling maze runner would not be far off the mark."

Special thanks . . .

to @cokamouse, my fellow writer, for the heads up via a ReTweet.
    You can read her review here

Also @Shadow20TDR for his pre-release gameplay video, see it there.

Finally, thank you to @2phonicGames for the promo code.  You too can download, soon as Slide Maze's link above is live. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Qbic [iOS] (Mini) Review/ Feedback

Much like the arcade game, but with a possibly unique dual-scoring system, also life mechanic.
    Speed-stacking contributes to your final score and you are too playing against the clock.
Simple and vibrant visuals.  Catchy music loop that can be toggled.
    High score table minus Game Center integration . . . so hopefully no hacking!
Paid game, though unobtrusive ad banner in menus.

Sound effects are barely audible, less over the soundtrack detracting from potential feedback.
Not losing a square when you perfectly align would lengthen gameplay and add replay value by granting beating your/ also "o.p.'s" high score/s a success or failure of your own actions, rather than one from luck.

Qbic [£0.69]
Perry Kappetein
"The Sky's the limit!"

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Soccer Physics [iOS] Review

Given the sheer choice available, never would I have foreseen a game that started its life as humble Flash would one day, at least for now be my favourite, on any platform.
    Fact is, often we enjoy the simple things in life most ,and I guess that includes video games.

Originally played on Kongregate, now my iPhone and iPad, Soccer Physics by Otto-Ville Ojala is an accessible soccer game for everybody, even if you're no fan of football, in any form . . . almost.
    This is a title from said same developer who brought us the likes of Wrestle Jump [£1.49] and Tug The Table [£1.49].  So if you're familiar, you probably get where this is going.  Most likely head over heels!?

A 2 V 2, one or two -four player game, where the aim's to somehow control your team and be first to score five goals past an opposing human, or AI/ CPU side.  That's unless you're playing endless mode, which is self explanatory of course.
    You control your team ,and I use that term loosely, with one or two on-screen virtual buttons. This enables the player to move their players simultaneously, alternatively independently.

Noticed I changed my description of loosely controlling, to moving.  That adjective seems more apt, seeing as when you tap the button/s your player/s mostly, well  . . . do what they want!

This is far too funny to ever be frustrating though.  Amusing alone, double --no, quadruple the fun in parties!
If only someone invested in making it into one of those arcade tables with dual screens and in real life buttons.  I mean, no need to explain the pros there.

Different scenarios are thrown at you after each goal, adding to the already random spontaneity.
From the divergent players, to goal size, ball type and weather.  You just never know how it will play out next!

Visually clean, colourful also crisp, with subtle real-time reflections and a catchy soundtrack.  Soccer Physics is now available on the App Store and in your browser.  Physics, yo. 

Soccer Physics
"Football has never been so physically hilarious!"

Share your goal replays with Everyplay integration!

Monday, 25 August 2014

#SwingCopters Update: Version 1.1.0 [iOS] News

A first update for Dong Nguyen (dotgears/ @dongatory)'s Swing Copters in now live on the App Store.  
    As you can see from the screenshot above it contains a display ads bug fix, also gameplay tuning.  Unfortunately Game Center still doesn't work and needs mending, but I've learnt that is more of an Apple problem as they prepare for iOS8, so not unique to this particular app. 

I beat my top score first launch after installing version 1.1.0 ,and have definitely found the tuning to be game-changing.  Now it feels more a test of stamina above all else.
    The few things noticed and noted were:

1.)  The first gap level has been heightened.  This gives you more time to centre before  manoeuvring through. Gaps thereafter may have been widened too, or it could be all about point 3.).

2.)  Hammers appear to swing slower, making them less of a distraction while gifting more time to    dodge.

3.)  Taps feel more responsive and momentum feels reduced giving more overall, tighter controls.

While I believe these changes have made the game more accessible, if you're still having trouble getting started --check out my tried and tested High Five mini guide compiled [here.]  Yet to play the new Flappy Bird?  You can download a latest version for [Free] with an optional in-app purchase of £0.69 to remove ads. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

How To Swing Copters [iOS] Mini Guide

After perusing all the articles I could find via Google Search for tips and tricks playing Dong Nguyen's successor to Flappy Bird, I think I've compiled a commonly agreed, universally accepted list:

Swing Copters is currently available for [Free] on iTunes App Stores worldwide ( Play Store also.)

Friday, 15 August 2014

The Expendables: Recruits [iOS] Review #EX3

The Expendables: Recruits [Free] from Lions Gate Films Inc. in my opinion is a surprisingly good promotional video game for The Expendables 3 movie. ( Now showing in cinemas worldwide. )

Or should I say games?  Dozens of them in fact.
    Chances are, if you like Wario Ware, or are a fan of mini-game collections such as the PlayStation classic Bishi Bashi, you're probably going to have some fun and maybe experience much fury here.

Recruits should also simply be taken for what it is, a mobile game, not some fully fledged triple a console title.
    Don't get me wrong Expendables is not without its flaws.  I'll give benefit of the doubt and say, "I may be doing it wrong."  Though there could also be a few bugs to iron out.
    Sometimes I feel the controls are not responsive, sensitivity sporadically changes and there has been a crash.

The Expendables: Recruits pits you against some tough as nails challenges from the team to the protagonist, an interviewee and potential Expendable.

These materialise as a selection of random mini-games.  Both in difficulty and generation.  As you progress, there are a few checkpoints after which you can retry and continue upon failure.  Fail after reaching the last part of Story Mode however and it's back to square one.
    This I think is harsh, especially seeing the final mini-game conveys chance as part of success.  That said it does add to the title's longevity.
    Other missions require a bit of skill and much trial and error.

Pop-ups prompt your instructions at the start of each round.
    Each play requires you either tap or tilt the screen, though often swipe, drag (slide), hold and release gestures are needed.

You'll be tasked with everything from safely landing helicopters to disarming bombs, but it's not all work and no play either --there are even some knife throwing, pool levels too thrown in the mix.

All missions are timed and cigars perhaps ironically, your lives.  You begin with nine, fail a stage lose one, lose all, it's game over.  Bonus cigars can be earned at select intervals.

Repetition is present, but there's a nice varied selection to become familiar with, attempt, then master.

Upon completing Story Mode, Endless Mode is unlocked and the Game Center leaderboards become your proving ground.

Much like the films, by sight and sound these retro mini-games celebrate 80's and 90's action heroes, humour included.

On the Extras page, there are links to the website, a theatrical trailer, featurette and link to order tickets.
    Strangely though, that's it. This is a completely free ( as opposed to freemium ) title.  There are no in-app purchases and at time of press not one advertisement was seen less heard.
    . . . It's like a digital goody bag!

The Expendables: Recruits
"Furiously fun!"

Tiny Wings And Doodle Jump Get Updates [iOS] News

It appears Lima Sky and Andreas Illger have both been hard at work on their said respective games.

First up, Tiny Wings [£0.69] receives an extra archipelago by way of Tuna Islands with five new isles to race along, over and through in Flight School.
    Tunnels add a fun new way to play then master ,and an almost 'even' playing field are amongst the new grounds you can now cover before feeding time.

Next, Doodle Jump [£0.69] gets a new Pirate theme with fancy dressed aliens, cannon ball-firing enemy ships to dodge, swinging rope ladders to scale, coin-filled treasure chests to collect and maps that mark the spots are included.
    There are also additional costumes for your perusal and purchase in the store, power-up items too.

Both title updates give these App Store classics a fun refresh and prompt re-downloads.  If you've yet to play either, now is a good time as any.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Z Hunter: War of The Dead [iOS] Review

Bet you can't guess what the 'Z' stands for?  Okay, so video games are saturated in this particular theme ,and the format isn't quite new either.
    It's a 'Freemium' title with assumably removable advertisements and in-app purchases.  There's an energy mechanic, timers, also in-game currencies.  Genera Mobile don't bring anything ground-breaking to the table (except maybe the bazooka shells,) but I've actually found it quite entertaining and playable so far.

Developed by iOS developer David Liñán, Z Hunter: War of The Dead [Free] (formerly: Bring Death to The Dead) is an arcade shooter, one I really could envisage in a cabinet, complete with holstered infra-red sniper and machine gun down my local amusements.
    It looks, sounds and plays just like one.  The only real difference being well adapted virtual controls.

Far as the story goes, there are a few pages.  Twelve to be precise, in the form of notes.  These can be unlocked, then read after fulfilling certain requirements.

Other than that, all I know is you play an ex-Marine in this zombie (apocalypse) survival First-Person (arcade) Shooter. Your duty is to seek and destroy all remaining zombies, rescuing the few survivors left.
    As missions become more difficult, you will need to purchase and upgrade more powerful weapons. There are also useful supplies available to buy in the 'store' that will give you the edge, such as a radar or hollow bullets.

The player is briefed on navigating the menus and instructed how to play from launch.  Throwing you straight into the action almost.

After which time further campaign missions will be available, soon to be joined by three other game modes.
    Daily Weapons lets you try before you buy a primary or secondary weapon from the store.  This is available every ten missions.  In Where Are The Zombies you must find and kill two zombies before a human civilian is killed.  This mode is unlimited and a way to earn the virtual money if you are finding it difficult progressing.  'Superzombie' is much the same except the zombies can mutate and take more damage making them more difficult to down.  There are four missions here, at least in the first two areas.

Whether all this changes in the next area, I have yet to see.  There are four in total, all set at different times; Jacksonville --12 Days Later, Caravan of The Dead --45 Days Later, Amusement Zombie --90 Days Later and Dead Port --180 Days Later.
    With 40 plus campaign missions alone in Jacksonville, War of The Dead looks to pack quite a lot of content. Zombies, weapons, modes too have nice variation as do the different areas ,and the weather, even time of day differs.

More on the energy mechanic.  You begin with ten units and success, or failure, one unit is depleted per mission accepted.  All ten are refilled on ranking up.  There seems to be no clear experience tracker, aside from your level up bar, which appears to fill as you play the game. More energy can be bought with 'gold', or you can wait for it to replenish.
    Weapons, supplies and certain ammo also cost virtual money or 'gold bars' ,and upgrades have timers which can be bought or waited out.

Your primary weapon is always a sniper rifle, secondary, a machine gun or Bazooka covering both ranged and close quarter combat.
    You begin with a MOSIN M90/31 and AK-47.  Ammunition is free and unlimited, aside from the Bazooka shells which are unfortunately limited and overpriced in my opinion.  You can also accidentally kill humans if they are in range of the impact, so it's not always the best tool for the job.

A certain amount of grinding and waiting, or in-app purchases are required to complete this title.
    You do earn currency, slowly ,and there is a daily bonus, just for playing the game.  Bonuses are also earned by pulling off head-shots.  There are also limited time offers on in-app purchases that may be worth a flutter.
    I am finding it fun in bite-sized play sessions and will probably throw some money at the developer by purchasing something soon as Z Hunter is definitely worth more than the free price tag it carries.

While the game looks and controls just as well on the iPhone, iPad's bigger screen does make spotting your targets easier on the eye.  There's also sometimes a cool action-cam and 'slo-mo' feature when shooting zombies.  It's just a shame game save data doesn't carry over to each device you play on.  Headphones come recommended and will also help you determine whether a zombie is approaching from your left or right.

Whether or not it would be more appealing as a premium title, War of The Dead is worthy of a download at least.  That much is a 'no-brainer,' you up for a taster?

Story: 75%
Presentation: 90%
Gameplay: 90%
Longevity: 90%
Innovation: 75%

Great! 84%

"Dead good!"

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Callys Caves 2 [iOS] Review

I seem to recall getting lost in Jordan Pearson's App Store first, Callys Caves [Free] last year . . . and not in a good way.
    Given my early evacuation, comparisons to the newly released sequel will be sparse. That being said, there are a few noticeable improvements.

Callys Caves 2 [Free] also, is a tough as nails adventure-platformer that will have you glutton for punishment.

"Cally's parents have been kidnapped again!"

And once more it's "you" their daughter, who is to rescue them from nefarious Doctor Herbert's evil clutches and defeat him --for good!
    Brave depths of over a hundred caves, before exploring his lair's hollow halls.
    Along the way you'll encounter 20 enemy types and six diabolical bosses.
    16 unique weapons will be yours for levelling up, as too various attributes with new RPG mechanics to upgrade.

Early on, a few things were clear; visuals had been changed, this time resembling something more from Sega or Nintendo's super mega 16-bit era rather than the early MS-DOS age.
   I was getting lost again, but in a good way and at least always felt our protagonist was venturing towards the right direction.
    There are automatic saves on cave exit and a level select map in the pause menu!
    Both of the latter make this game feel more like a classic platformer. Where as its predecessor, though contained short-cuts to unlock, felt more perma-death.
    Not that there's anything wrong with that, just different. In fact, I've since revisited and am having a lot more fun second time round.
    If you have yet to play either, I'd actually recommend playing them in reverse order.

So, you start at home, passing through your garden heading towards the doorway in a tree.
    This also happens to be a portal and first descent.

Armed with only three hearts sword and pistol, it starts off rather basic. Cally has no elaborate attributes either, but all soon evolves.
    Right and left arrows are your forwards/ backwards, an 'A' button to jump, 'B' fire, 'X' mêlée.
    All virtual controls work responsively, I've yet to press the wrong one by mistake or find my view obstructed.

As you run, jump, dodge and attack your way through the stages, portal-portal, entrance/exit-exit/entrance, Cally levels up, becoming more powerful.
   So too does your weapon, depending on how often you use it ,and there are others to discover hidden within the caverns.
    Orbs, coins and gems are found also dropped by your fallen foes throughout.
    Collecting these is important as not only do they help with levelling up, but are your currency for the shop.
There, additional attributes and upgrades can be purchased.
    You may want to loosen those purse strings too, as being a window shopper might not pay off.

Callys Caves 2's difficulty curve maintains a clever balance for the duration. As your enemies get stronger, if you play and spend right, so do you.
    Always remaining tough enough without being game ending impossible, though you will die --a lot.

May as well get acquainted with this screen. He's not that scary after a while.

At occasional intervals you'll meet Lloyd, your guitar wielding guide. He will give you helpful hints and tips, even a suggestion you may have missed some secrets.
    These can soon be realized and give a tremendous amount of replay value to one title alone, that has generous longevity in itself.

Keeping boredom and repetitiveness at bay aesthetically also instrumentally, graphics are varied. Each environment is a unique underground chamber, every monster type has its own behavioural pattern-attack-portrayal. There are different hazards to avoid. When you cannot look before leaping, faith and a little trial and error is required.
    Similarly, it's fun experimenting with the assortment of weapons, as certain tools are better for specific jobs. Yours to discover, then made instantly available at the slide of an armoury icon.
    The soundtrack also changes after pausing gameplay, which I thought was nice attention to detail.

With an intriguing story and some classic platforming action, Callys Caves 2 is a well built successor in the mini saga.
    Completely free, yet more than worthy of the 69 pennies for additional gems, poison bullets and removal of ads I seldom noticed were there.

Story: 80%
Presentation: 85%
Gameplay: 85%
Longevity: 95%
Innovation: 90%

Great! 88%

"**** 4/5 stars --Classic adventure-platforming on the touch screen."

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Ball of Life 2 [iOS] News

Robert Curley of Shean Software, (the young indie developer who brought us Ski-Daddle) [Free] has just released his latest game on iOS.

The Ball of Life . . . 2 [Free] ,is a casual physics puzzle-platformer, not dissimilar to Kevin Calderone’s 2008 App Store classic, Trace [Free.]

Each level consists of a start, finish, gaps to clear and obstacles to overcome.
You, our protagonist, have lost your legs and turned into a ball. . .
The basic premise is to get you from point A-B safely. This is done by drawing lines with one’s finger, thereby manipulating your movement and route.

Perhaps the main difference between The Ball of Life 2 and Trace is that you have no actual after control over our character.
By this I mean, there’s no tilt mechanic, or tap to bounce; you must

–“Roll to the goal.”
Which in this case appears to be some sort of portal.

What you do have is an in-game slide to view menu. A virtual drawer. In it are: one pencil, eraser and restart button.
There is no timer, nor are there any penalties for time taken or retries amounted.

Each level becomes progressively more difficult, sometimes containing new and additional environmental hazards.

The tried and true three star scoring system has once again been adopted here.
There are 3 to collect per stage and the outcome of course depends on how many you pick up “en route”.

Two worlds, contain 48 levels in total. The first 25 are free to play. By which time you will have decided if you would like to purchase the full game and remove ads by way of a 99 cents in-app purchase.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Plantman Q&A with Dennis Nielsen.

I recently managed to contact Dennis Nielsen, Creative Director, Game Designer, Cow-founder of Copenhagen based game company Exploding Cow and *deep breath* . . . One of the guys behind Plantman [Free]  --Phew!

Dennis kindly agreed to answer a few questions that I'd bet have been on many of our lips. Here's what he had to say:

How did the National Film School of Denmark come to develop and self publish an iOS game?

There are different educational programmes at the Film School - the only programme not focusing on live-action films is called "Animation Director" - which is the programme I finished this summer, Plantman being my graduation project.
As an Animation Director student you get to play around with all different aspects of animation and games production, focusing on being "The one with the vision" and working with all kinds of people from different fields. You have almost endless creative freedom when it comes to the midterm and graduation projects. Most student choose to do animation films (of course) but I simply chose to make an iOS game, because it just felt like the right choice of platform. I hope to see more games published by the Film School in the future since it is a rather unique set-up with a lot of potential for making great story driven games.

From feedback to in general, how has life been for all involved since launch?

It has been amazing to see all the positive responses to Plantman - especially since we launched the game with the catastrophic error of not being able to save - Even so, we got a lot of kind words from people who played it anyway. 
Now that the new update is out it finally starts to feel like the game is all done, after 10 months of hard work.
To our big surprise Plantman got featured on the Chinese App Store the first day of launch and we have received a staggering number of downloads. So far we have reached more than 160.000 downloads in total which is just insane! We are extremely happy about it.

Your film school influences and abilities have shone through in the production and presentation, yet even as a whole package --it's still one heck of a debut!
    Experienced iOS developers still struggle with touch screen controls, yet first time round you've pulled off a flawless and responsive scheme. The gameplay itself is fun and sometimes challenging. The story is well written and immersive   . . . Something tells me there's more experience behind this "debut" than meets the eye? Beginner's luck? Or did the whole school get involved!?

Thank you for the nice words! About the controls - My ambition from the start was to make a game without virtual joysticks - It was important to me that we made a game that felt tailor-knitted for mobile platforms - We have spend weeks just figuring out the answer to the simple question of "what is a swipe?". Touch controls seems so simple in theory, but it is in fact a tough and delicate process of tweaking and testing before you nail that "right" feeling when your finger hits the screen.
    Plantman is actually my 3rd game that have been released on App Store. My midterm project was an old school 2D point n' click adventure called "Shadow of Kharon" [Free] which was released in spring 2013.

    In the fall 2013 I teamed up with programming wizard Jacob Sloth Laursen and we formed the game company Exploding Cow, outside my studies at The Film School. We have released one game so far called "Blendimals" - a puzzle platformer where you combine animals (in a big blender) to solve the levels - the game is soft launched on the App Store only in Nordic Countries so far, but the world wide launch in coming up.

    For both  Plantman and Shadow of Kharon I have worked closely together with producer Andreas Hjortdal and Script Writer Mads Grage - both students of the Film School - everyone else on the team have been people from outside the school - both students, friends and professionals - so it definitely takes a fair amount of knowing-the-right-people and a bit of luck when making games at the Film School. 

Plantman definitely evokes nostalgic feelings of the PlayStation classic Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. Was this intentional?

There were several things I wanted to achieve with Plantman - I wanted to make a game with loads of personality, a game where storytelling blends together with gameplay, a "relaxing" puzzle-action experience, and not least, a game without guns.
To me Oddworld: Abe's Odyssee is the perfect example of how to achieve this. 
Using Oddworld almost as a "genre" was very appealing to me - to figure out all the little things that made me fall in love with that game in the first place and then twisting the gameplay to fit with my own ideas and the story I wanted to tell.

Plantman is neither paid, nor "Freemium". While it's refreshing to see no ads or in-app purchases, I can't help feel like I want to throw some money at you! Whose wacky idea was it to make the game completely free?

In short, it was the Film Schools wacky idea - being an education of arts it is not allowed to make profit of games (or films) produced at the Film School - But then again, working on a non-profit production also have its benefits - People are in it for the passion of the project, and if you do an episodic game series (like plantman) it is quite nice to release a "pilot" episode that everyone have access to ...and also you can get away with a few more bugs obviously.

Having almost completed Episode One: Last Day at The Plant Plant, I'm left wanting more. Do you have any exclusives you can reveal regarding  Episode Two? E.g. A release date? Whether it will be available as an in-app purchase? If so, pricing? ( Seriously, you must need to put food on the table! Ahah. )

Right now we're looking at different possibilities to fund the production of Episode 2 so unfortunately I can't give you any details on the release just yet. But the whole story of the Plantman trilogy is already planned and is definitely going to be epic! We have a lot of new gameplay ideas we want to try out and I can promise that Andy and S.A.M.M. have a BIG adventure ahead of them.

Do you have any plans on porting the game to other platforms?

We are currently looking into making an Android version of the game.

So . . . What's next for you guys? Are you currently working on any other projects? Or is your focus locked primarily onto Plantman for the foreseeable future?

While we are planning the next episode of Plantman, we're also working on the last bits of "Blendimals" and making it ready for its world wide release on iOS and Android, later this year.

It's been great to finally catch up with you!
Please accept my apologies for my naivety of the Danish language and wishes of the best success for the future!
--Tak Dennis!

Det var så lidt!

There we have it! Hope this article has answered any questions you may have had regarding Plantman and shed some light on Exploding Cows' other projects. If you have yet to download Plantman, I highly recommend doing so. Check out my "first look" [here.] View the trailer [there] ,and the official website and Facebook page [here] and [there] respectively.
    iPad owners, don't forget to click the link to install Shadow of Kharon. Last  --but by no means least! I shall update this post with a live direct link for Blendimals on world-wide launch day.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Plantman [iOS] First Look

A surprise release last Wednesday for me was Plantman [Free] subtitled,
"Episode One: Last Day at The Plant Plant."

An App Store debut no less from, wait for it... The National Film School of Denmark, in co-operation with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation -you don't see that every week!

So how and why did an iOS game come into development by a film school? Those are questions I may not be alone in wanting to ask these talented self publishers.
    Now, I've visited their **website and unfortunately the only apparent means of contacting them is via post, fax, or telephone not hold our breaths!? I digress.

Curious of its title, intrigued by Plantman's screenshots, l decided to download the game and at least check it out.
    20 -30 chapters later, I've heard, seen also played enough to bet, I'll probably soon be left in anticipation of Episode Two ( and the rest of the series. )

Unsurprisingly perhaps, though of course not detracting any due credit from its presentation, the introduction looks and sounds as though it could have been made by a major animation studio.
    A compliment and maybe clues on the makers, given it is big on production value.
    Of which, on the contrary to games sometimes falling short of their cinematic bits in-game, on this occasion the quality doesn't end there, but continues throughout.
    Headphones come recommended, if not for the witty laugh out loud dialogue, an all round enhancing accompanying soundtrack.

Described as a "Post nuclear, near-apocalyptic Sci-Fi Adventure" Plantman is a Puzzle-Platformer which will have you using stealth and outsmarting, even manipulating creatures and robots with your sidekick.

You play protagonist Andy Sprout, best friends with a coffee machine and Oxygen Plant Plant Manager of Sector 347,  Greensworth Gardens.
   The main freshly produced oxygen supplier of Earth 2284, where natural plant life and sunlight are things of the past.
    Set at the start of the Last Day at The Plant Plant, growing tired of a daily plant-eating giant plant-lice infestation, our green-fingered hero is about to find something that will change his life forever.

The game plays not unlike Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee and definitely evokes nostalgic feelings of the PlayStation classic.
    Rather than a virtual d-pad and buttons, swipes and taps have been cleverly implemented. These work seamlessly ,and just feel right.

Embark on a journey of wonder, adventure, loveable characters and bugs, lots of bugs.

Talking of which, aside from a one-time occurring bug where Sprout became stuck in a wall, the only problem I have encountered is with in *saving.
    There are no manual options and so I presume the game saves automatically? After playing for the first time, you are able to continue from where you left off. That, or choose to restart a previously completed chapter.
    Well, that is how it's supposed to work. However, up to press, for me at least, tapping a chapter number or 'Continue' has no effect.
    Hopefully this can be fixed in an update.

The game itself doesn't feel all that long ( though there are three acts, totalling 43 chapters. ) Still, even if the title could be completed in one sitting, it would be nice to have a save function that worked.
    You know, for those times when we get stuck, or just want to play a quick session.

Not only is Plantman free, but it contains no advertisements or in-app purchases.
    Which begs the question: will the next episode be an IAP?
Let's hope so! Hopefully we won't have to wait too long for news of a release date either -watch this space?

I really feel I've stumbled upon a hidden gem here, got drenched in nostalgia and left wanting more -I'm Indiana Jones dammit!
    If you like either, or all of the following; puzzle-platformers, animated shorts, immersive stories and yes okay, Abe -I highly recommend you download Plantman.
    What have you got to lose? Except a potentially wonderful experience missed if you don't try, after all -it's free! Oh and did I mention it is flawlessly universal?

This has been more of a first look than a full-on review, nevertheless, right now I would surely give Plantman 

*****5/out of 5 stars - Majorly epic all-round!

*Since the posting of this article Plantman's developers have found said problems with saving progress.
    They issued a bug alert in their app description and are working on fixing it. Hopefully we shouldn't have to wait too long.

** A-hah! Fancy that? There is now a fully-fledged official website [ link updated ] dedicated to the game, complete with a contact form. ( I'm holding out for the twitter account. ) Plantman is going to Android and a browser version is coming soon!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

"Truly Redonkulous"

Earlier I tweeted the news of Tilt to Live [*Free] and Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous [*Free] going *free on the App Store for a limited time.

Throughout the day it has spread like wild fire and while it’s probably now old hat ( though hopefully still correct ), “better late than never” I thought, to post an article myself.

I shan’t keep you any longer, only to publicly ask,

“Why has it taken me this long to check out these gyroscopic gargantuans!?”

…Still here!? For the whys: visit the onemanleft blog …Pssst! Have you seen Apple’s App of the Week? [*Free]

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Luftrausers [PS Vita] Review

Genres, however vague and impersonal are there to categorise for us. They provide method, organisation too, making cataloguing also searching for something specific that much easier.
    Sub-genres enable you and I to hone in on our target. The reverse act perhaps can at times not be so simple. Where do we put 'this'? Which describes 'it' best? That is where/ when occasionally on the contrary disagreements and arguments against tagging also labelling are made.

Luftrausers [£7.29] has been placed widely in the arcade shooter, or shoot-em-up folder and its files contain all assets expected from one, e.g. lone assault, large number of enemies, bullet dodging -check-check-check.
    However as mentioned, this process can be rather overcast -that's where reviews come in. (Hopefully) giving a clearer view, detailing those blimps on the radar.
    See some video games are what they are, and there's not much more to say, others... beg elaboration.

Upon launch Vlambeer's stylish arcade shoot-em-up looks as though it could possibly have been released back on the GameBoy Color what with its sepialike 8-bit graphics.
    Post a couple of brief screens and training, okay maybe Nintendo DS? After some gaming, resolution then frame rate realisation ( -while also available for PS3, PC, Mac & Linux. ) Alright this would probably work better with PlayStation Vita, if we're talking handhelds at least.

Control-wise, more reconnaissance is needed as part of me ( my right hand mainly ) wonders if the mouse is master for a title such as this? Not a shocker though, given its flash ancestor.
    That said, a d-pad or thumb-stick does work pretty well and if done right, mobile is always a bonus in my opinion.

The visual style is not uncommon, and while its sound effects may come across a little generic, Luftrausers' catchy upbeat soundtrack accompanies some rather unique gameplay.

Take the floaty manoeuvrability of games such as Atari's Asteroids and
Lunar Lander. Add some Bullet Hell enemies/ projectiles then finally a fictional war theme for RPG elements. Shake it all up in a snow globe and imagine yourself as one of those little plastic figures inside wondering what the heck is going on!?

As you bravely volunteer to pilot a Rauser and accept over a hundred dangerous missions, all while your admiral and some mad scientist apparently watch on nearby from their never-to-be-seen vessel.
    Enemies you encounter take the form of fighter planes, battleships, submarines, rival aces and even blimps, each with their own projectiles and manoeuvres.

Ships, subs and blimps wait silently for you to cross their paths before raining down ( and up ) fire on you, while the planes will take chase and instigate dramatic dogfights.

The action is chaotic and in addition to outwitting your foes as you dodge also return fire, further challenges await.
    There is no radar, and given the amount going on, your range of vision is poor. Enemy bullets do indicate their origins general direction, but most of the time you won't see a 'bogey' until you're both on a collision course with each other.
    Want some precision d-pad/ thumb-stick movement controls usually associated with shmups? You can't have them! Thrust and turn pilot ...thrust and turn.

One rare, if not unique health mechanic is a cherry on the cake to dig your teeth into. In place of the more common health-bar and several lives, Vlambeer opted for a cease fire.
    Damage taken is indicated by an ever decreasing circle encompassing your aircraft. Said circle decreases in size the more punishment you take and grows into oblivion when your health is full. To regenerate it and repair your Rauser, simply stop firing and get out of the way. This basically translates into, long as you can not get hit the one life you are given could be a long one.

Completing missions such as 'Encounter a blimp' ,and 'Destroy a battleship' unlock Rauser parts; super weapons, bodies and propulsion systems. Of which there are over 125 combinations.
    These mix up the, '2D is about as deep as it goes' gameplay, and I've yet to settle on a certain combo. Whether this is due to the fact, there is no master mix ( endgame? ) or that the difficulty ramps accordingly I've yet to decipher.
    Still -it's fun experimenting in the hangar before taking your new Rauser out for a test flight, albeit likely it's last.

Fancy a change of scenery? There are three colour variations I've seen in the 'Color Palette' to unlock, plus 12 trophies and of course the obligatory high score tables.

While maybe not quite so surprising , what with Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing in their back catalogue, Vlambeer have created yet another individual and addictive title in Luftrausers.

Thank you Devolver Digital, a low battery warning beats standing at an arcade cabinet with elephant ear pockets!

Presentation: 85%
Gameplay: 90%
Longevity: 90%
Innovation: 95%

90% Fantastic!

"Like every arcade shooter and nothing like any arcade shooter you have played."