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IVG App Review Round-up (08/12/12)

This week’s app round-up covers some interesting new (and slightly old) games for you to try out. There’s a clay world full of monsters, ghastly zombified birds, a fun rollercoaster simulator, and a word puzzler. The Android crowd should definitely not miss out on all the freebie awesomeness.

Clay Jam
by Amit Goyal

Platforms: iOS, Android; Price: Free
Version tested: iOS

Hate however much you like on Zynga, but their talent of bringing out something wholly addictive is undeniable, and their influence is more than evident in Fat Pebble’s latest game published by them.

The beautiful, eccentric, hand-crafted world of Clay Jam used to be a haven for happy monsters, flailing them arms and merrily running around on hills. That was until the Bully Beasts showed up and decided to chase the monsters off. Now, it is up to the player, a pebble, to beat the Bully Beasts on each hill by turning the age-old adage on its head and being the rolling stone that gathers moss (quite literally, except that you gather clay).

Each game has you take up the role of the pebble on an elegantly depicted world on which the monsters are made out of clay. The pebble rolls on its own, but the player can guide it by swiping on the surface of the world and creating tracks on it. Clay monsters populate the world, and gathering them makes the pebble larger. As you gather more clay, you can collect bigger monsters and obstacles. Try collecting them before you reach a threshold size, and you will bounce off them, losing clay. The aforementioned Bully Beast resides towards the edge of the World, and the player must swipe furiously on a launch pad of sorts to whack the bully beast with the now bloated pebble to send him flying as far as possible.

It doesn’t seem much, but there’s a very engaging eco-system around the game. Each hill can be progressively populated with more monsters that can be unlocked by spending the clay collected while playing the game. Further, each Bully Beast can be defeated by completing a series of unique objectives linked to each hill. All these elements, and others, will have you playing the game over and over to progress and build up each world.

In a refreshing shift from norms, while in-app purchases are available, the game did not seem that forceful towards pushing the players towards them. Considering that there is no price of admission, it is a game that is well worth trying out for its endearing graphics, slick presentation and unique gameplay.

9/10

Shoot the Zombirds
by Amit Goyal

Platforms: iOS, Android; Price: Rs 55 (iOS), Free (Android)
Version tested: iOS

Shoot the Zombirds, the sequel to Shoot the Birds, by iDream was released on Halloween to cash in on the season. While the game may be a little over a month old, its significant improvements over the already excellent Shoot the Birds make a case for a strong recommendation.

For those unfamiliar with Shoot The Birds, it featured a pumpkin headed archer, who joined the long line of unlikely enemies of birds. As birds of various shapes and sizes flew horizontally across the screen at different speeds, the objective of the game was shoot down as many birds as possible within a day cycle by swiping down and releasing arrows.

Shoot the Zombirds is a Halloween-flavoured version of the game that replaces regular birds with sinister looking zombie-birds. Understandably, the day cycle has been ditched for a more nefarious night in a graveyard background. The player now has to free helpless little ‘Pumpkids’ from the clutches of the occasional zombird that is carrying them. Only a limited number of birds carrying Zomkids can be allowed to escape before the game is over. Further, the number of arrows is also limited now, so while every successful hit replenishes the spent arrow, a miss reduces the number in the quiver. The player can increase the number of arrows by shooting down multiple birds with a single shot.

The accuracy and quality of shooting contribute to the score multiplier for the final score at the end of each game. Further, the game has a series of objectives that can permanently increase the score multiplier as well. The game also features an in-game store where the player can upgrade the size of the quiver as well increase the number of Zomkids, among other things.

One of the things that hurt the game is the lack of Gamecenter achievements. I also felt that the smaller size of the iPhone screen makes shooting a tad cumbersome as compared to the iPad, but that is something that can be dealt with over time. As it is, Shoot the Zombirds is a very addictive game that is well worth a dollar on iOS, and an absolute must have for Android users.

9/10

Worbble
by Amit Goyal

Platforms: iOS, Android; Price: Rs 110 (iOS), Rs 108 (Android)
Version tested: iOS

Quick! What is the other national language of Peru apart from Spanish? Do you know? Do you even care?

Worbble, developed by Mile Nine, is Milestone Interactive’s debut in mobile game publishing. The gameplay is a variation of word games such as Text Twist with a number of alphabets floating in bubbles on screen. The player is required to create words by popping them in a limited amount of time. The bubbles keep moving around and the alphabets keep shuffling, and each level has a specific requirement in terms of a set number of words with a fixed number of alphabets. For example, the first level requires you to make two four-letter words, the second, three four-letter words and one five-letter word, and so on.

The problem with the game is the sheer number of alphabets floating on-screen. Not only is it distracting, but also the availability of so many alphabets might actually leave you at a loss of what to go for. Word games generally rely on maximising from a minimal set, but Worbble has turned the formula around, and the lack of a context may actually leave you staring at the screen with all kinds of words floating in your head except the ones with the requisite number of alphabets.

This problem is alleviated to some extent by the Quiz Mode, which requires you to answer. A wrong answer ends the game, and the player can skip up to three questions or even use a hint. Balancing is an issue here. The questions were more often than not so esoteric that I had absolutely no motivation to come back to it after playing once.

The game has a free lite version, so you may want to try it out if word games work for you. It certaintly didn’t for me.

And the answer is Quechua, in case you were wondering.

5/10

Coaster Crazy
by Sameer Desai

Platforms: iOS, Android; Price: Free
Version tested: iOS

If the name brings back memories of Rollercoaster Tycoon, kindly temper your soaring expectations. Coaster Crazy isn’t a theme park simulator, but simply a rollercoaster creator, and a damn good one at that. It’s colourful presentation and cheery ‘crazies’ may give the illusion of a casual game, but beneath it is a surprising amount of depth.

The game gives you control over almost every aspect of building a rollercoaster, including altering length, elevation and angles as well as adding in scenery and special elements like loops and inversions. You can throw in accelerators and decelerators to alter speed and chain lifts to manage sharp inclines. All of these options are made easy to use thanks to the touch interface, which is intuitive on the iPad, but may feel a little cluttered on smaller screens.

You’re given certain objectives when creating each rollercoaster, such as achieving a certain amount of g-forces or upside-down time. The game gives you a fair amount of freedom to go about achieving those objectives though, especially in the latter stages. The rather competent physics engine throws up quite a challenge. Go into a sharp turn too fast and your coaster will fly off its rails; slow down too much and it won’t make it over inclines. When you do eventually complete a rollercoaster that meets all the criteria, it’s quite rewarding to take it out for ride, which you can view from several camera angles, including first-person.

Successfully creating a rollercoaster allows you to open it to the public, which levels you up and gives you a regular cash income, which can then be used to unlock new parts and buy new plots to create more rollercoasters. This is a free game, but it does include a few freemium features. Newly purchased plots take anywhere from a few minutes to hours to unlock, and you can pay real money to speed that up, which seems pointless. You can also purchase gems, which are required to use certain special parts.

Those freemium features aren’t heavily enforced though, so this is essentially a free game and there’s a lot of value to be derived from it. The one downside is that you’ll need to be connected to the Internet to start-up the game, which is a bummer. That aside, Coaster Crazy is surprisingly fun. Even if you aren’t interested in the concept of building rollercoasters, it’s definitely worth a look-in for the price of free.

8/10

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