Welcome to our latest edition of iOS Gems! Today, we’re looking at three new games released within the past few days, each representing different segments of the gaming market: a mission-based war game, a board game, and a dual-stick shooter.
All there of these titles are simply good, none of them are great. We recommend Mutant Storm and OLO Game more highly than Tiny Troopers, mostly because the latter almost necessitates in-app purchases to get the most out of it.
iPad-only Mutant Storm ($5) by Crescent Moon Games is a port of an Xbox Live Arcade title dating back many years. This graphically impressive game puts you in control of spaceship responsible for destroying swarms of enemies. With 89 levels and eight difficulty settings, it’s likely to appeal to appeal to strike completionists as a pretty good deal.
The bright, loud game positions the camera above the action, allowing you to see the entire playing field at once. Dozens of enemies quickly spawn and must be destroyed; run in to one of them or their weapons and you’re done. Your left thumb moves the ship around the screen, while the right is used for aiming and firing. The controls feel natural, allowing you to play without having to actively think about them. A big part of the game revolves around the difficulty levels, or belts, and their point multiplier effect. The more progressive levels you beat without losing a life, the higher that multiplier will be.
Mutant Storm’s graphics immediately made us think of the phrase “Tron-esque.” There are lots of bright colors and flashing lights with a definite digital feel. It all looks very good, especially on the third-generation iPad’s Retina display. Crescent Moon Games claims that it runs at 60 frames per second on all iPads. The music and sound effects match the visuals. One aspect we didn’t like about the game is its level selection system. The levels are grouped into tens, which means you must complete all of them to replay any of them. For example, if you stop playing after level 25, you can’t jump right back to it; instead, you’ll start over at 20. Other than that though, it’s a fun title and those who like to challenge themselves with progressively harder levels and higher scores will particularly like it. At $5 it strikes us as a little high for casual gamers however, earning it a general recommendation.
iLounge Rating: B.
Sennep’s OLO Game ($2) is a new top-down digital board game that feels both fresh and familiar at the same time. A universal title optimized for both the iPhone and iPad’s Retina display, it’s a sensorially minimalistic game that’s easy to pick up for a single game or a round. There’s support for two or four players on the same device as well as online one-on-one action through Game Center or with random opponents.
The rules are quite simple. Each player starts with six circles called OLOs. You alternate flicking them across the screen, attempting to land in the color-matched segment of the board. Any that stay in there earn you points, but your opponent has the opportunity to knock them out and lower your score. If you overshoot your OLO and it lands in your competitor’s “on deck” area, he or she gains control of it; those that get knocked back to your’s can be reused up the three times. The player with the higher score once all the OLOs have been used is the winner.
OLO Game’s visuals and sounds are all quite simple. There are a few basic colors and rudimentary shapes which all look quite nice on the high resolution display. When an OLO lands in scoring position or knocks into others, it makes a noise, and there’s a simple soundtrack on the menu screens. We found the game’s voice chat feature to be pretty problematic, with frequent pop ups and occasional crashes. The lack of a single player mode against the CPU is also disappointing as it limits how the game can be played when offline. Overall it’s a fun title with good replay value but a few bugs, making OLO Game worthy of a general recommendation.
iLounge Rating: B.
Finally today, there’s Tiny Troopers ($3), new from Chillingo. This universal iOS game puts you in charge of soldiers in the field, with each of the 30 levels representing a different mission. The goals vary on a level by level basis, but generally involve killing all the enemies, destroying their buildings, and securing their weapons. To move, you simply tap on the screen where you’d like your characters to be. Tapping on an enemy causes your soldiers to attack, and special weapons can be used by simply dragging them to the desired target.
Tiny Troopers cartoony, polygonal animation isn’t best we’ve seen on the platform but we were somewhat impressed by the topography and lighting. Sound effects vary based on the mission. Night time levels will have crickets in the background, while those in the day will have jungle noises. The soldiers yell when they’re prompted to attack and their weapons make the appropriate noises. In between, there’s a looping soundtrack that sounds like something out of a war movie.
The game very much encourages in-app purchases as a way of moving on to advanced levels and beating them at harder difficulties; this is the biggest strike against it. Without upgrading soldiers or buying special weapons, it’s difficult if not impossible to earn two or three stars on a level. Upgrades can be unlocked with command points and medals, which are both found in the game and available for real cash in packs ranging form $1 to $4. Of course Tiny Troopers isn’t the only game to do this, but we’re generally against the tactic, and frankly, this title isn’t fun enough to justify it. For $3 some people will get a kick out of the game, but we don’t suggest sinking any more than that into it.
iLounge Rating: B-.