The World Ends With You : Solo Remix : a feast for senses, total immersion JRPG.

The World Ends With You: Solo Remix[iPhone/iPad- $19.99] is the Square Enix hit JRPG in iOS. It is a rhythmic, musical, Japanese style street culture RPG made of unadulterated awesome. Solo Remix is a treat to (almost) all your senses. In fact you will begin to love this game just because of the music.But, of course, there is not all there is to it.Fashion,quirkiness and music all blend into one whole experience.It is more like a feast rather than a game. It invades your private space rather than entertain you standing aloof. And you would love the invasion, every bit of it.

The game starts with our hero, Nekuro Sakuraba waking up in a strange place with a cryptic message that he should clear the level or face erasure(whatever that means). The game is played out in a sort of underworld, a layer on top of the reality as we see it, and the day to day citizens are totally unaware of its existence. But our hero and his party can see that world, and it is up to them to defeat the “reapers”- the villains of the game- who summon “noise”, vile creatures. The game is very atmospheric- most of the game world is modeled on the Shibuya, the real and fashionable city of Japan.

The game gets its variation and depth by discovering and leveling up “pins”. And you can of course, level up your characters as well. The combat system totally suits the touch screen form factor. Merely fighting out is a joy in itself,which you perform with various gestures. And add to that eye popping HD art and you get maximum immersion.

 

You know! Just running around haphazardly...!

Mr.Wolf: I will just stand here like I just don't care!

The underground world and how it works is slowly introduced to you over hours of gameplay- yes hours, which is unusual for an iOS title; but then there are many things that are unusual in Solo Remix(price is one). Also unusual is the focus on fashion: you have to be wearing the clothes of latest fashion to have higher abilities. Perhaps the game rates highest in sheer amount of quirkiness and depth. A game which makes a case for “games are art”.

Perhaps the price seems a bit steep , but for serious Square Enix RPG fans it is worth the money. Unusual experience in iOS goes with the unusual price. Worth the price in terms of quality as well as the length of game play.

 

Developer : Square Enix.

Good : Deep ,engaging and quirky gameplay.

Bad : The fight controls sometimes feel clunky even though initially they feel novel.

Weird : Even when lost in underworld you have to care about fashion!

 

Team Awesome- a 3D perspective endless runner.

Team Awesome[iPhone/iPad-$0.99,Android-$0.82] is another game created by Ezone who also created Diversion. Both are 3D third person perspective endless runners.  Both are one finger games. Both have ridiculous bosses.And Diversion is one game in my Android device which I haven’t removed for the longest time,literally. By definition it has become a classic in my Android phone.

 

Team Awesome starts with some outer space crystals falling on earth: one the blue kind and the other red kind,giving powers to four underlings. Blue one gives you powers and red one sucks those powers. In short, get the blue crystals as frequently as possible to replenish your power -otherwise you lose it all and fall on top of a building with a dramatic thud-  and avoid the red ones. You run and hop and you can also fly,collecting blue crystals,powerups,coins. Giving coffee cups to tired metro goers, catching car thieves,breaking walls etc. Each time you play you gain experience and you level up after filling up the experience meter. Different chapters require a minimum number of levels ups to unlock.

 

The game is divided into chapters and each chapter has challenges ,completing which gives you extra coins. And with coins you can unlock new chapters(and environments) , buy upgrades and characters.

Coin or crystal?

 

View bottom.The infamous bottom view!

The best part of this game is the camera movement. The game very aptly shifts from side scroller view to top view to side angles. The camera movement is very smooth and really adds to the whole environment. Small details add up and give a truly immersive experience.

 

Game is easy in itself but it gets increasingly difficult to complete the challenges. The game loop is very short, and given it is a one finger tap game it easily can be played almost anywhere.The game is excellent in graphics and the voiceovers and music are also top notch. If you have played Ezone’s previous game Diversion then you should definitely check it out. If you felt awesome in Diversion then you will surely find a fine diversion in Team Awesome.

 

Good : Excellent camera.Short play loop.

Bad : Ultimately suffers from grinding like many of the games of this type.

Weird : Look out for the toilet boss to come!

Developer: Ezone.com

Squids Wild West : Physics based, tactical turn based ARPG

Cute,engaging,smooth controls. Squids WW[iPhone/iPad- $1.99] has all this.You are a Clint Eastwood style,gun toting,Wild West squid under water.You have to protect your town from such creatures like…crabs.Along the way you will meet many other colourful characters who would help you in your quest. And you would plot and plan with them and run on the actions as you kick away all the baddies.Squids WW is a sequel to the game Squids. May their tribe increase.

 

Squids WW is a turn based ,physics based tactical Action RPG where you fling squids at your enemies. Each time you hit your enemy it loses health. It has the usual rubber band mechanics where you pull one of the squids and let it go as a projectile.All this happens from a top down view.Different squids have different specialities: some squids can shoot, some can catapult themselves farther,some can heal on contact etc. You have to be careful how far you fling a squid and in which direction because various elements are to be taken care of: proximity with friends and enemies. power ups,bombs,remaining power of flings etc. In that sense it is like shooting pool but with more violence. You go through levels which are tied together with a nice storyline with sub plots and goals to achieve in each level.

 

But that is just the action and tactical part. You can strategize your troops by choosing them carefully as each have different specialities.And you can power up your troops accordingly. So there is this careful RPG element thrown in there which might appeal to the RPG strategy building audience.

 

Pearls are the currency of the Squids world. Like the usual RPG style you can collect currency– in this case pearls– from dead enemies.And you can spend the pearls for power ups and buying special potions, like revival potion and the usual RPG trope. There is a three star system. You earn each star by : Finding the secret star, Getting all squids survive,Finish the goal within the requisite number of turns.

 

My power of pearls glows around me!

 

Look at all the squiggly heroes I can choose!

 

The aesthetics are well taken care of. Even though you are under sea the designers have managed to show an authentic Wild West scenario.

 

There are a more important and higher on an abstract level things I noticed. This game somehow doesn’t seem to be planned for a one time hit. First it is a sequel.It seems the designers are realising the power of good sequels.Second, it doesn’t seem like it was made just with mobile phones and iPads in mind but also for, say XBox? PC?The whole design seems like made for long run. Which is a welcome change from seeing titles after titles with trivial and threadbare gameplay in the hope of making quick bucks. It seems that Gamebakers(creators of this game) are here for good and they have a long term strategy in mind, just like you will have to have when you play Squids WW.

 

Get this game now and unleash your inner Squid.

 

Good : Lots of replayability. Characters with personality.

Bad: Too many choices of hats methinks!

Weird : How does the gunpowder work under water?

 

Developer : The Gamebakers.

 

Granny Smith- Smooth Sidescroller Platformer with the elderly

Granny Smith IconGranny Smith[iPhone/iPad- $0.99,Android- $0.99] from Mediocre Games is far from mediocre. Your stick wielding, roller skating granny is out to take the punks who steal her apples. So, she tries to outrun and take the apples before the punk gets his hand on them. The first thing that will grip you is its sheer whimsical nature. And the second thing is a very believable physics which you might have in a slightly altered gravitation. How the granny lands,jumps and slides along on wirelines is just nice. The controls are simple: you have two buttons: one for jumping and simultaneously somersaulting, and the other for lifting up your arms to hook your stick/umbrella/bone on the wires above your head.

 

Although the aim is to get all the three apples before the punk, it is not a necessary condition to pass the levels. You can still pass the level once you reach the finish line without having any apples. But of course you will be rewarded with less coins. The coins can be used to skip level and buy other characters which are equally whimsical: a dog and a businessman.And be careful how you land after a somersault, if you land correctly you get bonus coins and if you land on your head then some of you coins fall away.

 

The levels start at the Granny’s garden, then graduate to the zoo, then industrial area and then to the…moon! And then to Mars and Saturn!The punk never stops. When you go to different planets you will experience different gravity and you have to time your jumps accordingly. Obviously in the moon you have to be careful, you might overshoot your target and land in a dangerous area. Even though in the later stages the timing of your jumps are very important, each level seems to have been crafted very carefully and with just the right amount of difficulty. So if you fall it is entirely your fault and not the game’s. Next time if you make your jumps more carefully you will have a perfect landing.

 

Feisty Granny wins: noir replay video

The new character does it in space.Doggy style!

 

There is one more thing which is quite remarkable about this game and that something I have been wanting to have in so many other games: They show replays of your adventures. Each time you finish a level you can sit back and watch a noire video of your adventures. This is very important because while we are doing the actions we cannot fully enjoy watching our elegant acrobatics. Having a movie played for you while you are relaxed gives you that joy. I think it is a very good idea for action/arcade games where you require lots of concentration to do the job so that you cannot really enjoy your accomplishments in action. Replays give you just that.And you can see that I considered this feature so good that I gave it a paragraph of its own.

 

If you like games which require good timing but are more relaxed then please get Granny Smith. It has a perfect mix of relaxed play as well as proper action.

 

Good: Nice controls and physics.

Bad: Some obviously valid paths/landings are deemed invalid

Weird: We should take health tips from Granny.Where does she get all the energy? By the way Granny Smith is also an Australian Apple cultivator.

Developer: Mediocre Games.

 

 

‘Fixed Screen Platformer’ [Game Mechanics]

Guaranteed Death! (Super Crate Box)

 

Let’s talk about Fixed Screen Platformer. We all have played Mario(if you haven’t then please stop reading right now.I am offended). Mario is a platformer, which means you go about jumping and advancing and killing enemies as the environment scrolls along. To be precise Mario is a side scrolling platformer.

 

There is another type of platformer that is very suited for mobile games. You can see it in games like Super Crate Box and Spell Sword. Here there is no scrolling. There is a fixed screen with platforms and you escape enemies coming from outside the platform environment. This kind of environment is very suited for games where you want exploration time to be small and want more action instead. And this fits well with the mobile form factor.

 

EVAC HD – Neon induced Pac Man. [Review]

EVAC HD[iPhone/iPad-$1.99, Android- Freemium] is a Pac-man inspired maze running,puzzle solving ,neon induced,hypno-music game from Hexage. Perhaps I should leave the review at that.

 

But let me bring forth it’s unique selling points anyway. It is a futuristic version of the retro classic Pac Man. It is colours galore,and lots of what we call juiciness: bright neon colours, rich feedback in visual and sound.

 

You are a square(as opposed to a circle)–a pink square– chomping around (old fashioned) pellets. The dark lord here is the shadowbox who has decided to imprison all squares of the universe and rule over them. But like any hero, you are different than other squares: you can actually move around. But don’t worry, you have other yellow friendly blocks to move around. So , like a puzzle you can strategically push and place the yellow blocks to trap or crush the hordes(red squares) unleashed by the shadowbox. And remember, your aim, the whole point of you being in this world is to eat up all the pellets which somehow opens up the door to the next maze/level.

 

The control is managed by a D-Pad which you can actually move around to your convenience. Just press it for 3 seconds and you can move the pad around. Once you are settled you can start the chomp-fest.

 

Each level offers new elements that you can make use of. Hiding areas, which will conceal you from the oncoming enemies. Pressure switches to open and close gates.Spikes. All these give the game its own character and variability. The good thing is that you don’t have to use all these contraptions to reach your goal. You can just make the old fashioned mad rush to finish all pellets. But using these helpful pieces will greatly reduce your burden. But not all elements are helpful. For example, pressing on some pressure plates can unlock the red army right behind you, and such calamities.

Pink violence

Dazzle and die!

 

In keeping with the tradition you have got three lives. Once you lose all three lives you are captured and the game is over.  The game has a total of 32 levels so far. In Android, which has freemium, you can play up to 7 levels. After that you have to buy it.

 

Hexage has done well in bringing old school games in futuristic and more colourful garb. Just like its previous game Radiant. The only little complain I have is that of its control. When the enemies are at your tail the control does not seem suited for fast response. It is easy to miss a turn or get into the wrong turn. I hope they will improve upon this tiny flaw in their next update.

 

If you are nostalgic of the sweet past gone by. If you want to be immersed in a hypnotic world of your childhood then for the love of Pac Man, get this game now and play it to your heart’s content.

 

Good : Eye candy. Nostalgia.

Bad : Controls not smooth.(Controls in Radiant were much better).

Weird : They die such colorful deaths.

Developer : Hexage Ltd.

Super Crate Box – Criminally addictive. [Review]

Stop!Stop! Just stop!! I had to slap myself from playing Super Crate Box[iPhone,iPad-$0.99] to be able to write a review. Remember that it is Free for now to celebrate its birthday!

 

Super Crate Box is a shooting platformer in which you play as an assorted gun slinger who is out to get rid of the bad guys, who also happen to be quite ugly. You start with a lame pistol and soon you notice a crate, you go an collect it and suddenly you have a machine gun or something. Kill bad guys. The moment you collect a crate, another one appears somewhere on the screen. You go and collect it and are surprised to find out a flame thrower.Cool! You love your flame thrower, and don’t want to exchange it with anything.But you need to collect more and more crates–that is the whole point of the game. So you go and pick another crate hoping that something better will come out of it.And you are right! You get a freaking rocket launcher.How cool is that? As you collect more crates, new weapons are unlocked.Needless to say that you accumulate points for killing the bad guys which goes into the leaderboard. The game also has a nifty iCad integration.

 

One thing I need to make it absolutely clear: this game is not for wimps, it is hard as nails. So far I have been able to collect thirteen crates the most ,before dying. I unlocked the Rocket Silo arena after collecting ten crates in a single game(you start with Construction Yard arena).When you die, you die roguelike, just one life.YOLO!

 

But you do accumulate tally of the crates you have collected based on which new weapons are unlocked. One thing I found a bit unfair was that you die on one touch with the enemies but they don’t with one touch of your bullet, which makes it just insane. Sometimes I also felt controls a bit jammed up in my iPod Touch, so sometimes it feels like I died an unfair death. But such occasions have been few and far between. Did I say that it is crazy hard? The only thing surpassing its difficulty is its addictiveness. Many a times I have to wrest my iPod from my hand with another hand so that I can resume my normal life.

Pwned with a rocket! (Construction Yard Arena)

 

Flame throwing in the icy Rocket Silo arena.

 

Such charming retro graphics, insane difficulty, amazing gameplay,arcade action shooting, it brings nostalgia of the bygone 8-bit era like a gust of wind, sweeping you away,fixating you with its sheer magic.

 

Sometimes some things that look too good to be true are actually true. Get Super Crate box right now for yourself, free or otherwise and thank me later!

Good : Super addictive and merciless gameplay.

Bad : Sometimes the controls get jammed in iPod Touch.

Weird: These days aliens are all just piece of meat!

Developer : Vlambeer

Kumo Lumo- be the rainy cloud [Review]

Rain on good things to make them grow, rain on bad things to make them go away.And preserve your water. When you play Kumo Lumo[iPhone,iPad-Free] it is hard not to be reminded of the game Cloud by Jenovah Chen.

 

It is relaxing, peaceful and cute. But at the same time it is able to maintain some tension. The aim of the game is to make good things grow and make the bad things vanish. The gameplay is supported by Around the World game mechanic. I have discussed this in more detail in my previous post : Around the World [Game Mechanics].

 

So,in Kumo Lumo you move around as an anthropomorphized cloud with a booming voice, in a paper-craft styled world.You can rotate the world while the cloud remains stationary or you can move around the cloud in the screen locally. Initially you are filled with water which also doubles as your life meter. If your water goes out, you die. You collect water through various resources like smaller white clouds, sheep etc.You tap the rain icon to let the rain fall on tress, buildings,tanks,mountains and see them grow. Trees would give you clouds, mountains will give you sheep which you can consume too(strangely!).And concrete buildings are a good thing too apparently, they are somehow good for the environment. Water tanks? They carry whales and by pouring water you let the whales swim there.Just hang low and get the water which the whale is happily spouting from its back.

 

And of course you have the bad guys. You have alien critters lasering your natural resources and putting them on fire. You have dark clouds whose only aim is to eat your water up.Chase them away by dropping water on them please. You can also throw  thunderbolt on some enemies–like on the aliens–and just fry them.Volcanoes spewing dark polluting clouds can also be zapped off the globe with your thunderbolt.

Grinning whale,floating sheep.

 

Even more whales!And foxy little red alien critter too!

Various stages have different goals(kill 40 black clouds, grow 5 forests etc). Completing each stage unlocks the other. You also can collect coins floating around which you can use to enhance yourself/cloud : increase the water carrying capacity, increase the bolt power etc.

 

Overall this game stands out as something fresh in the appstore with all its cut out cute graphics and a more easy going gameplay. It is free and you can go around being a cute cloud. What more can I say? Get it!

 

Good : Easy on eyes paper-cut graphics.Relaxed and quirky gameplay.

Bad : Controls are a bit clumsy.

Weird: Growing concrete jungle is a good thing?

 

Developer : Blitz Games

‘Around the World’ [Game Mechanics]

Around the world on cloud nine!(Kumo Lumo)

 

Today let us talk about Around The World(ATW) game mechanic. ATW can be seen in games like Gyruss(1983), Buganoids(2012), and Kumo Lumo(2012).In this you have a circular playing field where you go around in circles doing stuff. This kind of mechanic is good if the overall environment doesn’t change much(unlike platformers) but the enemies and local properties of the environment change more often.For example, in Kumo Lumo as shown above, you are a cloud going around in a circle doing good things like filling up a whale tank with water and doing such environment friendly stuff.

So, if you are making a game where you have to visit a location again and again , ATW might be a good idea. Unlike in a linear playing field you don’t have to go back and forth all the way.On an average it will take you half the time to reach anywhere as compared to if the playing field was linear. So, if you want to expand your playing field without making the player travel long distances, you can use ATW.And it feels more natural than letting your player go off screen and spawn on the other side. It also fits the mobile form factor pretty well.

ATW hasn’t been a very popular game mechanic, and I suspect that is because it was used mainly for shooting games(Gyruss). Shooting can be quite awkward in a circular plane. But game designers are experimenting with new game plays using this mechanic. Kumo Lumo is a case in point. It uses the mechanics beautifully which is really suitable for the kind of gameplay it wants to emphasize.

[Game Mechanics feature is meant to provide and emphasize building blocks of games so that game designers can make a more conscious choice while designing games]

Top iPhone Games this week [Link Dump Friday][iPhone,iPad]

Here I have five games worthy of notice with bias towards newer games. Enjoy your weekends with these games in your bed or sofa(but not while driving!)

 

  1. Pilot’s Path[iPad,iPhone-$0.99] : It is a randomly generated world where you have to pilot a helicopter to lift various, supposedly, illegal cargo. A mafia looking guy bosses you around to do his various errands. For your information, you are a pilot who got a dishonourable discharge from the military and now you can do nothing but to work for shady characters. That’s pretty much the plot. So, you have limited cargo space, and fuel. And over time you need to spend on maintenance , otherwise your copter disintegrates. You can increase your cargo and fuel capacity by spending money. Also you have a nifty little navigation system which will help you pilot the copter. It is a randomly generated world so it should have some replayability.Although I hoping the randomly generated world would be more random.

    Hovering over the mafia HQ

  2. Crazy Cab[iPad,iPhone- $0.99]: You are driving, as they say, a crazy cab. You don’t have any risk of crashing into cars because the cab will automatically slow down; but that is the problem: when you slow down you won’t be able to reach the checkpoint in time. You can avoid getting slowed down by changing lanes or by honking the car ahead of you when it will speed up. But remember that there is a cool-down period for the horn to charge up. Also you have limited number of nitros to boost up your speed. You earn coins after reaching each checkpoint and you can improve your engine, increase the number of nitros or just  do complete overall improvement by plonking a big bag of cash. Have fun! And drive safe, even if crazily.

    Honking and Nitro- that's all it needs!

  3.  DeathCall 2[iPad,iPhone-Free]: This is a target-shooting game where your targets hit you back. It follows the story of our protagonist out to kill the villains in an RPG mix Puzzle mix Target-Shooting experience. You got your cross hair in your left thumb and trigger on your right, just shoot the villains up. If you hit head you do more damage, you know the drill! It might be interesting for people who like target shooting and are willing to dabble in a little cross genre experimentation.

    Where is my shield??

  4. Robbery Bob [iPad,iPhone-Free]: This is a game you wonder why it wasn’t designed before. It so fits the form factor. It is a stealth game where you have to go places in a house or office, avoiding sight cones of wandering denizens. You are someone who has been busted out of jail by a long coat mysterious stranger and you have to pay his debts by stealthily stealing things. You are a man of “steal”. In story mode you perform various missions, theft dictated to you by your mysterious liberator. If you get detected you get beaten up or police comes to catch you. You can also sprint, but soon your stamina will run out. You can , of course, buy various power ups like stamina, stealth from the stash you steal from places. Let’s go! It’s stealing time!

    Catch me if you can. Or don't!

  5.  Jungle Style Pinball [iPad,iPhone- Free]: This is another game that is perfect for an iPhone form factor. You pinball your way in a jungle theme. A background jungle themed music plays on with subtle pinball sounds. The surroundings are engaging and the Physics of the ball feels just right. Nothing sophisticated going on here but you would be totally engaged. That much I promise!

    Jungle dance while pinballing!