Weekend Mobile roundup: Yes it's Mother's Day edition


Xbox Live Indie hit Techno Kitten Adventure is coming to iOS and Windows 7 Mobile on June 7th, with an Android release following shortly after. New graphics, levels, and more of the oontz has been promised for all versions, including the XBLIG one. Windows 7 Mobile players will even have achievements? Oh my.

More of this game and mobile versions sound good to me, and guess I can scrap those plans for club adventure The Ballad of Oontz Master Guido G now. Because come on, how do you compete with dolphins!?

This weekend has more free games than paid games and should have something for everyone. Unless you have an Android phone, I suppose.

It's also Mother's Day! Thanks for everything mom, but I don't know if you'll really like any of these games. You did refuse to hand me back my iPod when I let you play Air Penguin after all.

Weekend highlights:

Piclings (iPhone & iPad, $0.99 -- universal app)

In Piclings, you control a kind of Pikmin-like creature that can fly upwards if you tap and hold the screen. The gameplay is pretty basic: each level has coins you have to collect and enemies to dispatch. You can collect a butterfly to destroy enemies like eating a magic pill in Pac Man, try to get them to hit each other while following you, or collect a camera to let them "pose" and stay in position for a few seconds.

The game only comes with a few levels, but the main draw here is that you can import any photo (as long as it's over 480x480) and use it to generate your own platforming screen. Naturally, I tried this using a few rage comics from Reddit's F7U12 as well as an image of my penis. Yes, it works and you can share your photo levels with friends if you want -- although the game has some trouble with matching colors and flesh tones. No, I'm not giving you a screenshot!

Whether the game is worth getting is really down to how much you're going to use the photo feature, as the gameplay is very basic and can get old pretty fast. It also seems optimized for iPhone photos, as no matter how I resized a Playboy scan image of The Witcher 2's Triss, it kept complaining it was not over 480x480. After half an hour of trying to make it work, I just gave up on it. If you tend to sext images to your boyfriend or girlfriend though, this might be a way to add some fun to the them.

 Siege Hero (iPhone, $0.99; iPad, $4.99 -- out on Monday)

Before Angry Birds, there was Crush the Castle. Now, Armor Games is publishing a sequel to Crush the Castle with a twist. You still have the same block-based structures, but this time you tap directly to shoot all kinds of cannonballs, bomb, oil, and fire flasks to get tid of baddies. You can also tap and hold for a zoomed-in view with increased accuracy.

It's a decent game, but it's baffling that they didn't learn from Angry Birds' success. The levels sometimes have a twist in that you have to protect certain maidens from being crushed, but the new direct-shooting mechanic removes a lot of the difficulty of the long-range aiming mechanic that proved CtC and Angry Birds most of its longevity.

Instead of stars, a crown gets filled up and it can be hard to see if you actually filled it or almost did. Overall it simply lacks the casual charm, gameplay mechanics, and the amount of hard levels that made Angry Birds such a megahit for mobile gamers.

If anything it settles the debate on which game is better, regardless of which one was first, and in the end any Angry Birds game just provides better value for money. However, if you want a twist on the gameplay or got sick of Angry Birds, Siege Hero is still a decent enough game for the $1 price. Just don't expect it to be the next big thing.

 Just Survive (iPhone, $0.99 or Lite)

I'm always a bit skeptical when I get my hands on a retro-styled mobile shooter that looks like Space Invaders, but after being challenged by Just Survive's developer to beat the high scores, I gave it a try regardless. And lo and behold, it's actually pretty addictive!

The gameplay is more about dodging shots while shooting than it is about trying to kill everything. You have only one shot and one life, with a life bar that gets reset every time you hit 10,000 points. Although it can be a bit hard at the start, and the controls can take some getting used to on an iPod Touch (this might be easier on an iPad), you'll get farther and farther into the game as you keep replaying it.

Some waves also give you a lot more points, which encourages you to take damage in favor of getting enough points to reset your health at the next 10,000 points. It's a great concept really, and updates are in the works to address some of the control issues and to add power-ups.

The leaderboards are not that populated, so there's a good chance of getting that #1 spot though it is far from easy. It's also one of the main draws behind the replayability factor, so you should know that the Lite version doesn't come with global leaderboards. I'd say give the Lite version a try, and just spend the $1 for the full game if you end up playing it more than 10 times.

 Ozone (iPhone, $0.99; iPad, $0.99 -- regular price: $4.99)

Ma-ya-heee, ma-ya-haaaaaa. No? Okay. Ozone puts you in control of a small bubble filled with air that has to collect stuff in labyrinthine levels on the way to a goal. Whenever you move it around using a virtual analog stick, your bubble loses air. Brake, and you lose air. Get hit, and you guessed it: you lose air. Run out of air, and you die.

Sounds simple enough, but it's far from easy to pass all the levels. The controls have a bit of a learning curve because, well, you float around in a bubble of air. But if you can stick with it, it become really engrossing. Ozone certainly has a good amount of pretty levels with mechanics that vary between evading obstacles and enemies, and includes collectable weapons to dispose of them.

There's also a level editor on Mac, Windows and Linux should you want to get creative. It's a good package overall for the price, although I can imagine it being more fun on the iPad's larger display if you have the luxury to choose.

 Pulse: Volume One (iPad, $4.99)

I've seen a lot of reviewers trying to wrap their heads around describing how this iPad-only music game plays, but the above video is one of the better ones I've seen that actually shows you exactly how it works. The game makes you tap dots (notes) at the moment a circle hits them in order to play a track.

With 8 tracks it may not sound like a lot of content, but tracks can have an adjusted amount of expanding rings to change the rhythm of the music -- depending on the time signature. I think. Without an iPad, it was a bit hard to actually play this game, but I've heard good things about it since it was released this week. If you are in the market for an iPad music game, this looks like a good place to start.

Pulse will have updates with new tracks from indie artists from the Philadelphia area. All I know about music and Philadelphia is that Nic Cage found some item near the Liberty Bell in one of the National Treasure movies. So yeah, moving on!

Free games:

New Sokoban (iPhone, free)

An update to the old Sokoban formula, Toni Sala's New Sokoban is arguably more about his intentions than the game itself. Here we have a very commited and interesting indie dev who spoke about his ideas behind New Sokoban at the Spanish DevUp iPhone developer congress.

To be perfectly honest, I'm terrible at these kind of puzzle games and I never have the patience for them, but this is a free game with some clever and simple design. I suggest you go read up on this guy's story first on his blog, and then give the game a try. There seems to be more to it than meets the eye, but I'm just not the person to tell you if there actually is.

Space Bunnies (Android, free; iPhone & iPad, free -- universal app)

In Space Bunnies, you drag to catapult your ship and tilt to steer it throughout a galactic map with planets and obstacles, trying to pick up lost bunnies in space and drop them off at a planet. On the way, you can bump into things for points and whatnot.

There's a lot to it, especially for a free game on multiple platforms, with quite a few levels and gameplay features to wrap your head around. It's not particularly hard, although you have to learn to keep an eye on your carrot juice that runs out if you don't refuel at a planet.

 Legendary Wars (iPhone, free this weekend; iPad, $0.99 -- regular price: $2.99 )

Another one of those lane-based RTS games, but this one is surprisingly funny and well made. The basics are simple enough: a miner unit collects resources so you can purchase units and place them on one of three lanes. You can command all units to move forward to the enemy castle, move back to defend, or select a unit to manually attack specific enemies.

There is a wealth of upgrade options for units, resource gathering, and the like to keep spending earning gold on. With the manual control of units, you can also unleash special attacks once you slay a few enemies. Also, there are Unicorns that die in a splash of rainbow blood! It's free, so at least give it a try.

 World in War (iPhone, free; iPad, free)

If you've been waiting for a casual approach to a mobile version of something like Hearts of Iron, go grab World in War. It does have the dreaded simul-turn gameplay where all actions are played out simultaneously when a turn ends, but there's a mix of strategic placement and Advance Wars battles that make it all simple enough for most players.

I didn't play this for very long, but it felt worth investing more time in while watching a movie in the background. All you really need to focus on is the numbers, so if you're a strategy gamer who knows the drill then you could do worse than playing this in an off hour.

 Imaginary Range (iPhone, free; iPad, free; Android version in late May)

Square Enix's free comic-meets-minigame adventure is pretty amazing. The story is a typical Japanese affair that should make JRPG fans feel right at home, and is told through comic panels you swipe through. Some of these panels will contain items you can circle to collect, and those items in turn can be used by one of the protagonists -- Cid! -- who uses them to "imagine" them into existence.

I don't want to give too much away, other than that Chocobo's make an appearance and there is a scantily clad girl who has no reason not to walk around without armor on a battlefield. The minigames are a varied and mixed affair that each last about a minute tops, and range from rotation and sliding puzzles to Flight Control-esque gameplay.

It's definitely worth checking out to experience it for yourself. The whole thing will last you upwards of 30 minutes, so go give it a try after dinner or something when you are feeling lazy from a food coma.


Panic Time (iPhone & iPad, free -- universal app)

I wasn't sure whether to embed the video and spoil this little troll app or not, but I figured you are all smart enough to not freak out over it when you try it and would rather want to know what it is. Panic Time acts like a game, but simulates a BSOD-style crash screen when you load it up. If you hate someone who loves his or her iDevice just a little too much, go wild.

 Office Jerk (iPhone, free)

The only reason I'm even mentioning this is because this free game reached 1.6 million downloads in four days, and became the number one free app in 23 countries. So it's worth knowing what it is at least. There isn't much game here to speak of though. You act like an asshole who throws stuff at a hard working nerdy "jerk" in the office, who is just minding his own business and keeping the economy going.

There is a fan that changes the "wind direction" slightly, which in practice mostly means you either aim to the left or to the right of the poor guy. And if you want to throw more than just a pencil or a wad of paper, like a pie or TNT, you have to pay for it... Great.

You might be able to entertain some simpletons with it, but if you are not the type of person that likes to have stuff thrown at your face for no reason at all, then there are a whole bunch of better free games listed above.

Weekly news highlights:

Notable updates:

Death Rally (iPhone & iPad, $2.99 -- universal app)

They keep pushing updates to Death Rally at a ridiculous rate, so this will be the last update on it for a while. Suffice it to say that if you were holding off on it, the post-launch price drop and continuous updates should make it worth your while by now.

The new update adds a snow level, some in-app purchase boost nonsense, the ability to collect track parts to unlock new tracks (like you do with weapons), and some minor tweaks.

 Puckerz! (iPhone, $0.99, free lite version)

Puckerz! received a rather large update that adds better graphics, two new game modes, zooming and the ability to brake your puck. It's an air hockey game with some Peggle-like dot collection stuff in it. It might be fun for some people who dig this kind of thing, but I found it to be a bit too monotonous to keep playing it for more than 5 minutes at a time. You slide pucks around to get points, and that's about it.

It does look slick and has a nice soundtrack, so if you like these kinds of games it's by no means bad or anything. It's just not really my kind of game so let the trailer and the free version sell you on this one.

That's it for this weekend. If you know of a ridiculous or cool new Android or iOS game, hit up Jim Sterling or myself on Twitter. 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



Filed under... #Android #Apple #Freebies #iPad #iPhone #Mobile gaming #Spend the weekend



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