Weekend Mobile roundup: Tiny Tower, 1000 Heroz and more


Holy Ezio that game looks familiar! After last week's pretty barren landscape on the mobile gaming front, iPhone devs somehow decided to throw a ton of games at us this week. Since I'll be away next weekend, here is an extra large and unapolegetically tl;dr roundup for you to enjoy.

Android users: Cut The Rope is free on Android for a week starting last Friday, and GAMEVIL is bringing ZENONIA 3 and Baseball Superstars II from iOS to Android. Those games should've been on the Market already, but of course there's not a hint of them if you look it up on the Android Market website. Unless it's Baseball Superstars 2011, which is available and looks pretty crazy.

KAMI RETRO was released over a week ago though, and it's free. Every other game this week is for iOS however, so there, I saved you the trouble of going through the list of this week's games. There's always Grand Prix Story to rub in the iOS users' faces!

Weekend highlights:

 1-bit Ninja (iPhone, $1.99)

I already wrote at length about 1-bit Ninja earlier this week, so I'm not going to do that again in here. It's still worth a shout-out, so if you like old school platformers with a twist, just go grab it.

 Continuity 2: The Continuation
(iPhone & iPad -- universal app, $0.99

The iOS sequel to Flash game Continuity, Continuity 2 is a mix of sliding puzzles and platformers. Levels are cut into sections, on which you platform and both collect coins and the elusive door key that opens the door to end a level. By sliding the sections around, you can run and platform between sections -- but only if sections match at the edges.

It starts out pretty easy, but things get harder as you progress to levels with 8 sections to slide around and levels to pull. You can zoom out to slide around, and it's easy and pretty addictive to solve these platforming puzzles. With 48 levels there's plenty of content for your buck to keep you going for a while, and of course there is the challenge to get an under par time while collecting all the coins.

Just try out the Flash game if you're not sold, and/or try out Office Rush (lite) which is very similar.

 1000 Heroz (iPhone, $0.99; iPad, $1.99)

If you are fooled by the aesthetic, don't be. 1000 Heroz is great. It has some of that addictiveness that Tiny Wings can give you with the score, except here it's all about the times. The controls are pretty standard for an iOS platformer, with left/rignt and jump in the bottom of the screen. The key is to use the momentum of the terrain to get to the finish line in the shortest amount of time possible.

That's easier said than done, especially because you're always ranked against a global leaderboard with ridiculous times. It's incredibly addictive to keep trying to beat your own highscore, and even to get the gold medal on a level can keep you occupied for plenty of spare moments throughout the day.

1000 Heroz also gives you one new level every day, for 1000 days. That's a ridiculous amount of value, even if you might forget about it for a couple of days or a week. You can always go back and try to beat those times in all of the previously released levels if you want. If competitive highscore-based games are your thing, you should definitely check it out.

 Hills of Glory: WWII
(iPhone, $0.99)

This game has been called "castle defense but without the castle" which is as accurate as it gets. You man a stationary jeep/bunker/helicopter/whatever at the top of the screen, and soldiers and tanks attack you from different directions at the bottom. Depending on what characters you have in your squad, you use different touch controls to defend your position.

Tap to shoot, slide a line to shoot a machine gun down that line, hold down a finger to lob an explosive, swipe horizontally for a horizontal attack, etc. It's fun, easy to play for up to 10 minutes at a time, and being able to upgrade and configure your squad adds to the replayability.

Once you finish the campaign, you also unlock what looks like a survival mode. As a tower defense whore, I'm still enjoying it as a casual break here and there, after spending hours on end on traditional TD games.

 Reflection Connection (iPad, $1.99)

I thought this game was an iPhone game for some reason, but alas it is not. Of course, I only figured that out after redeeming the code...

One of the reasons I was interested in it in the first place is because I love the idea of getting a complete mindfuck when you have to solve a 20x20 board using mirror reflections. In most action adventures there's some kind of mirror-reflection puzzle, and this seemed like a great way to get better at it. Or a way to just blow your mind.

Unfortunately I can't vouch for whether it's any good, but I can't imagine it's wildly different from what you'd expect from its trailer. It looks a tad unpolished on the graphical side, but just imagine how quiet that talkative stoner friend will be if you shove this in his hands.

Knighty Knight
(iPhone & iPad -- universal app, $2.99)

I can't say I've ever seen a proper jousting game on the app store before, so of course I donned my The Mountain armor and gave it a try. Knighty Knight pits you against a series of very British opponents, who spout lines that are funny to anyone who is not British and thinks they all talk like in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Fun fact: the guy who did most of the voice acting was an extra in Game of Thrones.

Every jousting run, you choose a weapon ranging from a soiled mop to a lance and a cricket bat. Each weapon has different values for attack strength and attack power regeneration, and some weapons don't let you defend. Just before you reach your opponent in the run, you choose whether to attack either the head, shield, or armor of your opponent, who does the same. You also guard one of those three, and if you're lucky only your shield will take a hit instead of your health.

Guarding can be pretty hard though. Unless I am totally missing cues here you have a 33% chance to block, making the choice of guarding in favor of attack strength a bit useless in singleplayer. Attacks use up attack power, indicated by soccer balls. Some weapons, like the rubber ducky, don't do much damage but increase your attack power for a next run's full-on assault. Most of the gameplay goes into having to manage your attacks across a number of jousting runs per match.

This game is really meant for multiplayer which unfortunately only works through Bluetooth, so I couldn't test it. I can imagine it being quite a bit of silly fun at something like PAX though, where you can taunt your real-life opponent with fake British accents before you smack him in the head with an inflatable sword after you lose. Real opponents would also make it more fun to try to figure out their attack patterns.

However, at $2.99 it is a bit overpriced. It's not expensive, but a $0.99 pricepoint would make it far easier to recommend as a novelty purchase for mobile consumers, especially when you need two copies for multiplayer. If you see it on sale though, give it a try because it's unique.

 Breitling Reno Air Races The Game (iPhone & iPad -- universal app, free)

A free sponsored kind of game with a way too long name. It looks really good though, and controls ok for a mobile arcade flight sim. Tilt to control the plane, use two buttons for yaw control, and two others for zooming. It has multiplayer via Game Center too, which works really well actually.

However, it does not have F-22's so I couldn't care less about it. But if you like those air race things, it's not a bad free game by any means. I doubt you'll end up playing it a lot though.

. (iPhone, $0.99 during launch sale -- normally $2.99)

You've probably played this type of twin-stick shooter before. While there are a ton of those available, D.A.R.K. has a Dead Space vibe to it. It's not particularly scary though, and some of the mini cutscenes are in fact hilarious, but I liked it quite a bit.

The gameplay is pretty straightforward, although it's packaged in a more action RPG fashion with some minor exploration, leveling, and weapons & armor to buy. It took me about 2.5 hours to finish it, which isn't very long. But you can do a New Game+ and a new episode in a completely different setting is going to be released for free down the line.

Of particular note are the cutscenes, which are really well done for a game which probably didn't have a huge budget to work it. Together with the music it sets the atmosphere nicely and although it's not the hardest game out there, it's well above average as a package. However, the next episode really needs more exploration because it's way too lineair as it is now. I can see this selling well for $2.99 already, so it might be worth a look while it's on sale.

In Case Of Fire
(iPhone, $0.99)

The trailer explains pretty much what the game is about: don't get burned. You tap to summon temporary movement reversal signs for a very slow walking character, tap on the top or bottom of a staircase to make him use it, tap on buttons to make them do things, and swipe to make him run.

It works well, and it's basically a one-person Lemmings with more hazards and touch controls. Playing it comes down to following paths to unlock a safe path to the finish, by turning on sprinklers and finding keys to unlock doors and whatnot.

It looks really crisp on a Retina display, which works in favor of the simplistic art style. But it was also not really my kind of game, and it can become a bit tedious if you play it too long. Mostly because you need to control your character pretty well as stages progress, and it can become a bit chaotic to do so when you need to tap and slide frantically in order to do just that.

I found the controls to be working against the type of puzzles that are meant to create more excitement, and instead they created more frustration for me. It's not a bad game by any means, but nothing about it screams must-buy either.

Powerslide Penguin
(iPhone (not retina!), $0.99; iPhone & iPad HD, $1.99)

A really curious game, this one. The pull-back-to-launch mechanic has been done countless times before, but instead of creating an arcade type of game it has somehow become a game that is too hard for youngsters and not interesting enough for older gamers.

At its core, Powerslide Penguin just requires you to slide to the finish gem in the least amount of slides while collecting as many coins as possible. Problems arise when enemies that explode and kill you are introduced. They chase you around, and it's not easy enough to fully control the penguin (called Penn Gwynn) to effectively dodge them in any way that is fun. Kids will probably get bored of it after a couple of deaths.

After the first few levels with enemies, I gave up on caring about scores. And after breezing through 47 levels (out of 79) within half an hour or so, I just quit and never looked back. There is way too much stuff put into this game's design to be simple and fun for all audiences, and without that fun factor you're unlikely to go back for better scores. Selling the Retina version as HD for a buck more adds insult to injury.

Peter Packer
(iPhone, $0.99; iPad $1.99)

When Peter Packer was announced, that trailer made me think "What am I, three years old?" We got a code for this among a bunch of Chillingo games though, so I figured I'd try it out anyway. And yep, it's for three year olds.

But if you own an iPhone or iPad and have a toddler, and you let it play some games, this is probably a lot of fun to play together. Two conveyor belts provide geometrical shapes that you swipe to the right hole. If they reach the end of the belt, you lose a life. I can't believe I'm even explaining it.

You get bonus points for throwing multiple boxes in the same, right hole in a row, and you can multi-touch to throw two boxes at once. A bunch of challenges might keep mom and dad occupied, but they are too hard for most toddlers -- beside the fact that they can't read the instructions. I'm not 100% convinced that kids will have the motor skills required for this, but I've seen my kid nephew at work on an iPhone and he's surprisingly good at it.

If you have an iPad, I'd say this is a pretty fun way to keep your kid occupied while training its motor skills and helping it through the pre-operational stage of development. If you are still reading this far, you have a kid and you know exactly what that means.

 Marty Mongoose (iPhone, $0.99 & lite)

Marty Mongoose is the product of game industry artist Brian Clarke, who decided to learn how to code and create his own iPhone game. And frankly, as just another $1 game it's nowhere near good enough to recommend. However, and here's the thing, it's a fascinating app that provides insight into the kind of things that come into play when people create an iPhone game.

The goal in Marty Mongoose is to guide a blind mongoose to a nest of eggs in a tree. Fans that blow him sideways or upwards can be placed, as well as wooden see-saws and girders that will stick anywhere you place them. The idea is good, and in theory the tools work together well to solve puzzles. The reality is another matter.

You can only reset the entire setup you've created with the tools at hand, and while the tutorial explains the basics, the truth is that the game leaves it up to you to figure out how everything works exactly. Despite the game working against you when it should instead be easing you into its design elements, it gives you a unique look at someone's experience trying to create a mobile game.

You should all check out the free version just because it's intriguing. Expect to fiddle around with the tools until you figure it out. But if you ever wanted a look inside the mind of a mobile game developer, or are thinking about getting into mobile game development yourself, this might be one of the best ways to learn more in a hands-off way.

 Tiny Tower (iPhone & iPad -- universal app, FREE GO GRAB IT!)

I savd this for last because this game... it's hard to put into words how amazing it is. Imagine Sim Tower with social game type of gameplay, but then without the need to have any friends. Then imagine that it has pixel art like Fez or Constructoid. That's Tiny Tower.

You build different kinds of floors to fit housing and need-fulfillers like retail, recreation, food, etc. Shops provide money, which you save to build new floors. Every shop needs to be stocked with goods, and the more employees (up to 3) a shop has, the more expensive kinds of goods it can stock and sell.

The social game kind of gameplay comes into play when stocking and building takes real world time, so you probably won't be playing this for an hour straight. The game notifies you when something is done though, so this is a game you can easily play throughout the day while you're at work or in school. You can skip the wait by using "cash" that you can either buy with real money, or earn through a number of in-game actions. You don't really need to spend money ever if you don't want to.

Tiny Tower also has a pixel-art menu with a Bitbook, where your Bitizens post messages about their life in the tower. And while it takes real time to stock goods, you can always earn coins or cash by moving Bitizens and VIPs around with the tower's elevator while you wait. I've already said enough, because this game is free and if you are reading this, you are not playing it right now. Which is pretty much a crime against humanity; I'll see you in The Hague's ICC.

WTF / Good cause:

Ask Rocco Zamboni (iPhone & iPad -- universal app, $0.99; Android, $0.99)

There's only two reasons for mentioning this although it's not even a game. The best reason is that 10% of proceeds go to the "I'm too young for this!" cancer foundation for kids with cancer, about which you can read more here. The other is to be able to post this trailer. DAT HAND!

It's just one of two voice sample apps that donate proceeds to the cancer foundation cause, and there's another one called Ask Some Drag Queens -- but that one just has random samples that aren't very funny. Ask Rocco is not high comedy either, don't get me wrong, but at least the app does let you select some topics that he says something about in an Italian-American accent. I had a mix of "Heh wtf" and "God, really?" feelings for the two minutes it lasted. Why am I still writing words about this?

Weekly news roundup:

Also worth noting is that Marathon fan Daniel Blezek has been working on porting the classic Bungie game to the iPad, and got Bungie's approval to release it to the Apple app store. You can read about the development process in an interview on Bungie's site.

That's it for this weekend. If you know of a ridiculous or cool new Android or iOS game, hit me up on Twitter or send us an email. Or post it in the comments!

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Maurice Tan
Maurice Tan   gamer profile

or on the banner above! Hai! You may know me as Professor Pew in older times. If you see a cblog here from beyond September 2010 or something: that's from the cblogging days and not anything ed... more + disclosures



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