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IVG App Review Round-up (01/09/12)

This week, we have an interesting mix of games lined up for you that break away from traditional formulas in favour of new ideas. The madness, of course, comes hand in hand.

Granny Smith

Platforms: iOS, Android; Price: $0.99
Version tested: iOS

Suppose you were an old lady spending a lazy afternoon sitting on the porch admiring the countryside, when you suddenly spotted an impish kid make off with the apples from the trees growing in your garden. What will you, a frail old woman, do?

You will certainly not strap on a pair of roller skates and give chase, will you? Which is exactly why you should play Granny Smith. Through 36 levels set in three different environments, the game has an old woman on roller skates performing crazy stunts and spectacular crashes in order to retrieve her apples.

Movement is automatic, with one button to jump and one button to stick out your walking stick to turn electrical cables into ziplines. The game has the player use these two mechanics in smart and progressively challenging levels to stay ahead of the aforementioned apple thief, and pick up three apples spread out in each level. In addition, each level also has gold coins to collect, which can be used to buy objects such as helmets, baseballs, and banana peels to help Granny gain the upper hand in the chase.

The most interesting aspect of the jump mechanics is that not only does it make Granny Smith jump, but also spin. Holding the button pressed makes her spin longer. Hence, in long jumps, it is required to spin in a way so as to stick the landing on her feet. Throughout the game, you will watch Granny jump, spin and crash through various environments in excellent visuals and top-of-the-line production values.

If I have to nit-pick, I would say that the buttons could have been a tad bit larger on mobile phones, as it is easily possible to miss the button press in a tight or challenging scenario (which is often the case as you move forward). But it is not a good enough reason to not play Granny Smith.

8/10

Manos: The Hand of Fate

Platforms: iOS; Price: $1.99

This game is inspired by a 1966 horror movie of the same name that was so bad that it acquired cult status. Based on the nonsensical story and locales of that movie, as well as other horror movies, developer FreakZone Games has reimagined the world as an NES-era tough-as-nails platforming game.

When I say tough-as-nails, I mean it. This game completely takes off from the NES days, so there are no mid-game saves. You have five lives, and you have to get through the entire game with those (plus, the 1-ups that you find through the levels). Lose all your lives and start all over. No arguments.

The game is a great throwback to not only the old NES games in terms of graphic and music, but also the movie it takes its inspiration from. The game stays true to the idiosyncrasies of the movie; an inexplicable scene of a couple making out in a car from the movie is translated into a hilarious platforming challenge in the first level. The game has two buttons apart from movement; one to jump and one to shoot. Each level is reminiscent of games like Mario and culminates in a boss fight.

This game is definitely not for the casual crowd, which is fair. However, even the core gamers will get increasingly frustrated with the button placement and size. The game requires quick responses for the player to survive, and the placement and size of the buttons is often not up to the task.

Manos: The Hand of Fate is not for players who simply like to beat a game, but for those who like to conquer it. The game has the quirks and the setting to make it a nostalgic trip down the 16-bit memory lane; if only it had got the buttons right.

6/10

Score!: Classic Goals

Platforms: iOS; Price: $0.99

Score!: Classic Goals is a football game with an extremely simple idea at work: recreating classic goals. The game does not give you full control of the game. Instead, it picks out moments from memorable matches over the years, and puts you in charge of recreating them by tracing lines on the pitch.

The game is divided into decades, with each decade featuring 60 scenarios (further divided into amateur, professional and bonus) that are progressively unlocked. The game also features a ‘Best of the Euros’ packs, along with two additional packs that can be unlocked via in-app purchase.

At the beginning of each level, the player is shown an overhead view that traces out the exact requirement of each scenario (in terms of the placement of the passes and shots). The game then shifts to a third-person view, where the player is required to trace lines to match the requirements shown in the beginning. The player movement is AI controlled, and the game pauses just before the player takes the shot for the trace. The closer you are to the actual play, the more stars (out of 3) you get. Botch it up completely, and the scenario must be replayed.

It’s a fun game, best played in short bursts, where you not only recreate classic goals, but also get to witness some of the greatest plays of the sport. The graphics are excellent, the animations are smooth, and the game has voiced commentary and crowd effects to perfectly mimic the environment of the match.

The downside is that it is often very difficult to figure out the difference between a ‘good’ and an ‘excellent’ play. As you play on, you will figure out some of the equations, but the gap between two stars and three stars can be surprisingly vague and infuriating in some of the later levels.

That said, it is still a game worth its price for its sheer simplicity and the joy of reliving some of football’s greatest moments.

7/10

Olly Low Poly & The Zombie Tower

Platforms: iOS; Price: $0.99

Olly Low Poly & Zombie Tower is a game best played rather than spoken about. Created by Russian motion designer Vladimir Tomin, it is a game that will immediately catch your eyes with its offbeat graphics and unique gameplay.

As the titular character, you are required to traverse multiple levels of a tower to reach what I am almost sure is a friendly panda. Along the way, you will face multiple obstacles in the form of enemies such as zombies and decrepit old men, as well as platforming challenges such as falling platforms and rainbow drops. Yes, I know.

The design seems to be heavily inspired from dreams, and the game oozes quirk as well as charm. There are many challenging levels to complete, an endless (I knew we can’t get through this feature without uttering this word at least once) tower mode, and a few bite-sized mini-games that are completely unrelated to the core game, but match the game’s overall atmosphere, so there is plenty of content to engage in.

The game is best played on the iPad because of its movement controls. In order to move Olly, the player must hold down their finger ahead of her. Climbing is done in a similar fashion, by tracing along the path. On the small iPhone or iPod screen, it often leads to undesirable results, and considering that a single hit kills you, a few tightly packed areas can be frustrating.

For those with an iPad, there is absolutely no reason to miss out on this fantastic game that sets itself apart from the competition in almost every aspect.

9/10

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