PopCap has made a name for itself by creating charming, addictive games like Plants vs. Zombies and Peggle for computers, and then bringing those experiences to all kinds of game-playing devices such as consoles and handhelds. With Popcorn Dragon, PopCap's new IP, the studio is -- for the first time -- starting on iOS, building a game from the ground up for that platform.
Popcorn Dragon (iPad [previewed], iPhone)
Ignatius might be a dragon, but he's not so different from you and me: for him, films and popcorn are inextricably linked. Popcorn Dragon is essentially a twin-stick shooter with dual-finger touch controls instead of joysticks. The game contains ten movie-themed stages in which corn kernels float across the screen. You drag a finger on the touchscreen to fly Ignatius around and orient him in a particular direction, and you tap with another finger to unleash a burst of flame. (A translucent but noticeable arrow ahead of Ignatius' snout indicates which way his next breath will go.) Once he's roasted the kernels, it's time to swoop in and snatch them up.
But outside forces conspire to try and keep Ignatius from his fluffy, inside-out corn snack. Each level throws obstacles at you, so you have to weave your way around them if you're going to fill your belly with popcorn. For example, in the prison-themed stage (seen above), Ignatius has to pop corn clandestinely -- that is, away from the harsh glare of the guard tower's spotlight. Getting caught in the beam temporarily brings the action to a halt, and resets the points multiplier to 1x. In some cases, you can fight back instead of just evading: Ignatius is, after all, a creature that can shoot fire from his maw, and that flame is good for scorching more than just corn.
From my (admittedly limited) time with the game, Popcorn Dragon seems to be more of a quick diversion rather than a full-fledged experience. But on these platforms, that's not necessarily a drawback; it might be exactly what iOS gamers are looking for. We'll find out when Popcorn Dragon launches this holiday season.