TouchMyApps » Puzzle http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:42:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.4 Gummy Drop! in Review – Match 3, Quests And IAP, Oh My! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/10/10/gummy-drop-in-review-match-3-quests-and-iap-oh-my/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/10/10/gummy-drop-in-review-match-3-quests-and-iap-oh-my/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:09:22 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74084 Most of my experience with Big Fish Games has been in relation to hidden object games, at least when it comes to my iDevices.  I was intrigued by the release of Gummy Drop!, though, because I was told that it wasn’t a cookie cutter match 3 game, and as a devout fan of the genre … Read more]]>

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Most of my experience with Big Fish Games has been in relation to hidden object games, at least when it comes to my iDevices.  I was intrigued by the release of Gummy Drop!, though, because I was told that it wasn’t a cookie cutter match 3 game, and as a devout fan of the genre I’m always looking for something that feels fresh.  The truth is that from a mechanics perspective there really isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, or at least that’s the case with as far as I’ve gotten.  What does stand out, however, are all the goals and extras that come with completing the levels.  Be warned that this is a free to play game, which means you’ll need a fair amount of patience or the willingness to spend some IAP to keep progressing after a while.

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Your job is to travel the world fixing all the destruction the gummies have caused.  To do that you’ll have to match gummies like you’ve never matched before, clearing them away to reach high scores so you can move on to subsequent levels.  Some levels have special tiles that need to be cleared away in order to win, and still others have bricks that need to be collected by matching them.  There are even some cases where you have to gather souvenirs by matching away the stuff beneath them so they fall to the bottom of the screen.  Each level has three difficulties with progressively harder goals to attain and greater rewards to earn.  Besides getting to keep the bricks you match you will earn coins and other items that will help you fulfill certain missions.

You see, in addition to simply beating the levels there are various quests around the board that you’ll need to complete.  The most basic one is rebuilding certain structures which you’ll use the bricks you collect to accomplish.  In the first 10 levels you’ll need to collect special coins that you’ll use to help rebuild a lighthouse, and so on.  I like this because it gives you incentive to replay the levels at a higher difficulty and provides you with more satisfaction than just beating other people’s high scores and climbing leaderboard charts.  Of course if you really do care about that sort of thing you are more than welcome to invite your Facebook friends and challenge them to beat your scores.

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Coins are used to buy power ups that can help turn the tide when you’re not meeting your goals as well as buy extra hearts when you’ve run out and want to keep playing before the timer refreshes.  The problem is that the rewards you earn from beating levels don’t go a long way towards purchasing power ups, and the further you progress in the game the more non-optional power ups become.  Thankfully some of the quests provide you with extra coins, and you also get to scratch off a lottery ticket each day where you can win some money.  Between having only three lives and the hefty cost of the more advanced power ups, however, the game is definitely geared towards making you shell out for IAP at some point.  At least it has the courtesy of not popping up something every couple of rounds asking you to buy, though, so kudos for that.

I really like the way the game looks.  In the matching scenes there is plenty of sparkle, and on the map it has a cool “made out of paper” appearance.  There’s plenty of animation and everything is well drawn.  The sound effects are okay, but they can be useful for things like knowing that you’ve crossed a milestone in the score or cleared away yet another tile.  Your tour guide pipes up with comments quite frequently, though I’m still not sure what she means when she says “weekend”.  The music is nice and subtle so it keeps you entertained while you’re thinking yet is not overly distracting.  It’s kind of like good elevator music, if that is even possible.

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Overall Gummy Drop provides a pleasant match 3 experience, and while the actual matching mechanics don’t offer anything new there’s plenty to do with quests and multiple difficulty settings to conquer at each level.  I just wish there were some way to get the full effect of the game without having to spend a ton of money on IAP.  I could see investing $5 or $10 in this game, but to truly make smart purchases is probably going to cost you a lot more than that.

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App Summary
Title: Gummy Drop! Developer: Big Fish Games, Inc
Reviewed Ver:  1.0.3 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: Free App Size:  72.3 MB
  • Plenty of levels to conquer
  • Each level has 3 layers of difficulty
  • Additional quests give you more to do
  • Good visuals and sound
  • Nothing new from the match 3 perspective
  • IAP basically becomes a must at some point

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Spellfall – Puzzle RPG in Review – You Better Watch Out, Puzzle Quest http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/27/spellfall-puzzle-rpg-in-review-you-better-watch-out-puzzle-quest/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/27/spellfall-puzzle-rpg-in-review-you-better-watch-out-puzzle-quest/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:51:05 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74029 Since the dawn of the match 3 / RPG hybrid Puzzle Quest has always been king of the throne.  In fact, I think it was the game that introduced me to this wonderful mash up of genres.  Now Backflip Studios has released Spellfall – Puzzle RPG, and while I’m hesitant to say that this contender … Read more]]>

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Since the dawn of the match 3 / RPG hybrid Puzzle Quest has always been king of the throne.  In fact, I think it was the game that introduced me to this wonderful mash up of genres.  Now Backflip Studios has released Spellfall – Puzzle RPG, and while I’m hesitant to say that this contender has usurped the crown, it’s pretty amazing in its own right.  The battles are fast and furious, the rewards are plenty and the rune system is a really nice bonus.  The combat effects are among the best I’ve seen in this style of game, and the overall polish is quite impressive.  Chalk up another win for Backflip.

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There is actually a story going on here, though to be perfectly frank I don’t remember what the whole point of the mission is.  It’s not like a “one and done” intro thing either because there is text at the beginning of each combat filling you in just a bit more on everything that’s going on.  In the end it won’t matter for most people because one of the pluses of Spellfall is that you can play for as little at a time as you want and you never feel like you’re missing anything the next time you load up the game to play again.  The basics are that you’re trying to conquer evil and in order to do so you must explore a series of different locations.  You’ll meet some interesting creatures along the way, and while it seems like they only introduce 2 or 3 new ones per area, given the number of areas that kind of pacing should still result in a nice range of foes to fight.

As you might have gathered, combat takes place in a match 3 scenario.  Instead of the usual breakdown of physical and magical attacks, defense and coins, however, Spellfall is all about the magic (though there are still coins to be matched).  You have four elements to work with, and most monsters will have a particular weakness to one of the elements.  Matching 4 of a kind will create a special tile that can wipe out a row or column, and matching 5 or more in a line will create a bonus attack tile.  If you match one of these tiles then when that turn is done your character will launch a special attack based on that particular element type.  There are also runes that match each element type, and if you have one of those runes and it is active it will get slightly charged each time you match the corresponding element.  When runes are fully charged they can heal, poison, shuffle tiles and more.  I do wish runes would charge as long as you had the equipped, but that’s a minor quibble and could actually make things a bit too easy.

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Monsters only get to attack once every so many rounds, but they make up for it by unleashing some deadly attacks.  If you’re victorious you can earn Exp Points which help you level up, Rune Points which enable your runes to level up, Collected Coins (those you match up during play) and Victory Coins for winning the match.  Should you fail you’ll still earn Exp Points and Collected Coins, but obviously winning is preferable.  Money can be used to buy weapons, armor and runes as well as to heal your character between battles and unlock rune slots on weapons or armor.  Thankfully runes don’t become permanent attachments to your other equipment, but sometimes to get the more powerful duds you might have to give up using some runes for a while.  That’s the single biggest point of frustration in this game – it takes a while to earn money unless you want to supplement your coffer via IAP, so you have to be real careful what you spend your loot on.  Add to that the fact that the items store is randomly supplied and items don’t stay in the store very long and you might miss out on something you really wanted.  Of course this is how they drive you to spending your cash, but since it doesn’t really hamper you from playing the game that’s okay with me.

The visuals in Spellfall are great.  The characters are very well designed so that even the creatures you’re used to feel fresh.  The animation is fluid, the creatures’ attacks are varied and interesting, and the bonus attacks your mage makes can certainly impress.  The sound effects are all pretty good, though your character does sound a bit wimpy when he gets hit.  The music has a nice fantasy tone to it, and while it’s nothing earth shattering it’s just nice to have there for the few seconds when you breathe between battles.  Otherwise you probably won’t even notice it.

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The match 3 / RPG hybrid continues to thrive, and while the basic tenets of each game is the same developers are still trying hard to add features that make their entry rise above the crowd.  Spellfall does an admirable job with that.  Quick, intense combat along with a constantly rotating inventory keep you on your toes while the deep runes system lets you customize your character to your style of play.  The whole thing is wrapped up in a slick graphical bow and topped with a wonderful incentive to keep you coming back: play for 20 days to get a special prize.  I’m working hard to see what mine is!

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App Summary
Title: Spellfall – Puzzle RPG Developer: Backflip Studios
Reviewed Ver: 1.2.0 Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: Free App Size: 78.9 MB
  • Easy to pick up and play
  • Deep, diverse rune system
  • Excellent visuals
  • Nice sound effects
  • Doesn’t hammer you about IAP
  • Runes have to be active to be charged
  • Often one fight forces you to wait or dump a bunch of money into recovering health

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Munin in Review – Puzzling Pleasure with a Twist http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/14/munin-in-review-puzzling-pleasure-with-a-twist/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/14/munin-in-review-puzzling-pleasure-with-a-twist/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 09:21:48 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74006 There seems to be this intense push for “console quality gaming” on mobile devices, but if I wanted that I’d just buy a console.  What I like about Munin is it takes advantage of the hardware to be the best mobile game it can be without trying to be anything else.  It can get frustrating … Read more]]>

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There seems to be this intense push for “console quality gaming” on mobile devices, but if I wanted that I’d just buy a console.  What I like about Munin is it takes advantage of the hardware to be the best mobile game it can be without trying to be anything else.  It can get frustrating at times, but you’ll always feel like you’ve accomplished something when you’ve completed a level, and you won’t feel like you’ve missed anything should you not get back to the game right away after quitting to enjoy real life for a while.  If you’re a fan of puzzle games, Munin should be at the top of your list to try.

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I’m not really sure how important a story is in puzzle games, but in case you’re interested you play a servant of Odin who was once a magnificent crow.  Thanks to Loki you’ve been transformed into a human, and you must travel the realms to gather up all your feathers and return to your avian state.  If nothing else it gives you a reason for what you’re doing.  Naturally your task won’t be easy as the locations you visit have been well designed to keep you from the plumage you seek.  Fortunately you have the ability to rotate sections of the scene 90 degrees at a time, theoretically making the job of retrieving your feathers a bit easier.

Yes, this is a platform game with a quite literal twist.  It’s been done before in various ways, but this is by far one of the most intriguing.  The intro level set just gets you used to the rotating room mechanic (you can also move your character around and jump via on screen buttons just like a typical platform game).  Once you’ve completed the first leg of your journey you’ll get to pick between three different level sets, which is itself a nice feature.  Each level set introduces a new mechanic: filling areas with water so you can swim to and reach higher areas, rolling boulders to fill gaps and break walls while making sure you don’t crush yourself in the process, and animating various platforms by manipulating souls that are trapped within the walls of the levels.  I look forward to seeing what other novelties await as I unlock the rest of the level sets, as well as potentially seeing already established mechanics combined.

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As mentioned previously, there are arrows for moving your character left, right, up and down, as well as a button to make her jump.  They work well for the most part, but trying to accomplish an angled jump (up / left or up / right at the same time) can be rather difficult.  To rotate a section you simply tap anywhere within that section, as long as your character isn’t standing in that section when you try to rotate it.  Occasionally I end up accidentally rotating a section when I’m trying to hit a movement control, but as long as you pay attention that can be avoided.  The game has no Game Center integration or 3 star rankings or anything like that, so you need to be able to handle simply beating a level as its own reward.

Sadly, the graphics are the weakest part of the game.  They aren’t bad, with plenty of details and some nice particle effects when it comes to the water.  The main character looks pretty stiff where animation is concerned, however, and she is very tiny.  Also, a lot of the background elements tend to lean on the dark side, which sometimes makes it difficult to determine where passages, walls or other important items are.  On the other hand, the audio elements are top notch.  The sound effects and ambient noise are very well done, and the different musical tracks provide a wonderful boost to the overall ambiance of the game.  There are definitely some movie soundtrack quality pieces to be found here.

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Munin is a great concept wrapped up in a stellar execution.  The puzzles are challenging but as long as you preserve you should be able to conquer most of them before pulling any hair out.  The atmosphere of the game is great as well, despite less than wowing visuals.  This game definitely belongs in any puzzle lover’s iPad collection.

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App Summary
Title: Munin Developer: Daedalic Entertainment GmbH
Reviewed Ver: 1.2 Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $2.99 App Size: 262 MB
  • Great mechanics
  • Challenging puzzles
  • Sticks to a single screen
  • Wonderful music and sound effects
  • Controls can be slightly finicky
  • Visuals sometimes hamper game play

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Nun Attack Origins: Yuki’s Silent Quest in Review: Silent, Deadly and Fun http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/07/29/nun-attack-origins-yukis-silent-quest-in-review-silent-deadly-and-fun/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/07/29/nun-attack-origins-yukis-silent-quest-in-review-silent-deadly-and-fun/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:07:25 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73958 We were introduced to the nuns in 2012 with the RPG Nun Attack, which I sadly did not get the chance to play.  The following year brought us Nun Attack: Run & Gun, a runner with potential that ultimately fell flat for me.  Now we have Nun Attack Origins: Yuki’s Silent Quest, and unlike some … Read more]]>

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We were introduced to the nuns in 2012 with the RPG Nun Attack, which I sadly did not get the chance to play.  The following year brought us Nun Attack: Run & Gun, a runner with potential that ultimately fell flat for me.  Now we have Nun Attack Origins: Yuki’s Silent Quest, and unlike some origin stories introduced into established franchises, this one actually works.  Silent Quest takes a puzzle like approach to the nun’s adventures, and it provides a decent amount of challenge with frustrating the player.  It is lacking a bit in variety, but otherwise provides for a solid puzzle game experience.review-yukis-quest-2
In this tale of the nun known as Yuki you must help her rescue the children from her childhood village that have been captured and reconstruct the village after nefarious villains have destroyed it.  Your mission will take you through 60 hand crafted levels full of miscreants and scared kids, as well as 15 bonus levels overflowing with bread!  The bonus levels are like a mini version of Fruit Ninja, except instead of fruit you’ll be slicing through loaves of bread, and rather than solely using your finger you’ll need to guide Yuki to do the slicing.  There are still bombs that will prematurely end the level for you, though.

As for the main levels, each one has three tasks: rescue 3 children, complete the level using a certain number of moves or less and finish the level under a certain amount of time.  The tasks are all attainable (with the exception of level 29 for me), but good luck getting them all in one try.  Thankfully the game lets you earn each goal individually.  The first time you reach a goal on a given level you’ll earn a shuriken and when you have enough you’ll be able to rebuild part of one of the buildings in your village.  To finish the game you have to get through all 60 levels, but to truly complete the game you need to rebuild the village.  It seems like a pretty noble cause to me.

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To control Yuki you simply draw a line from her to where you want her to go.  A “guiding light” will appear between your finger and Yuki which will turn either green or red for any bad guy it passes over – green means they are good to attack and red indicates they will defeat you.  Control seems pretty solid, though there have been a few times where the location I ended up wasn’t quite what I was pointing to, or at least that’s how it appeared to me.  That potential quirk aside, the biggest problem with the game is the lack of variety.  Sure the levels are all configured differently, but in the 30+ levels I’ve played so far the background theme has been the same, and there are basically two types of bad guys so far, the only difference being one seems to be a bit jumpy and the other doesn’t.  Earning three shurikens on each level and ultimately rebuilding the village are your only rewards as there is no Game Center integration, but that’s actually okay in this game.

The visuals in Yuki’s Silent Quest are pretty nice.  Everything is fairly detailed and well animated, if not just a bit small.  I like how some of the bad guys are jittery and the slow motion action for the final attack on a given board.  Sound effects, on the other hand, are kind of weak.  The bad guys don’t really make any noise, and surprisingly neither do the frightened kids.  Even the sound Yuki makes when getting hit is more like a man than a woman.  There is decent music, but only in the menu section.  Why can’t we have tunes during the game itself?

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Overall I’m quite pleased with this installment of the Nun Attack franchise.  A cool game mechanic, challenging levels and the feel good desire of rebuilding the village make for a solid package.  I do hope that another level set will be added at some point to enhance the variety, and it would be nice to hear some better audio, but otherwise Yuki’s Silent Quest is certainly an enjoyable one.

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App Summary
Title: Nun Attack Origins: Yuki’s Silent Quest Developer: Frima
Reviewed Ver: 1.3.3 Min OS Req: 7.0
Price: $1.99 App Size: 65.6 MB
  • Fun Slash n Dash mechanic
  • Challenging but fair levels
  • Nice visuals
  • Lack of variety
  • Audio not so hot

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Vampire Ventures in Review – No Blood, But It Doesn’t Suck http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/12/12/vampire-ventures-in-review-no-blood-but-it-doesnt-suck/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/12/12/vampire-ventures-in-review-no-blood-but-it-doesnt-suck/#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2013 16:14:10 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73462 When I first saw this game I liked the screen shots but I thought it was basically going to be a “been there, done that” sort of match 3 game.  In some ways it really is, but it packs in so many cool features from other games in the genre that it doesn’t really matter.  … Read more]]>

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When I first saw this game I liked the screen shots but I thought it was basically going to be a “been there, done that” sort of match 3 game.  In some ways it really is, but it packs in so many cool features from other games in the genre that it doesn’t really matter.  Throw in great music and a story that ties everything together and you end up with one of the best match 3 games to hit the virtual iOS shelves in quite some time, if not ever.

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You play Val, a vampire on a quest to rescue her father from the clutches of some evil fiend that seems to desire your destruction.  As a progressive vampire family that drinks strawberry juice instead of blood you can’t imagine who’d want to hurt you, but you’re sure to find out as you travel through 75 levels across a variety of locations.  Along the way you’ll encounter a variety of play styles including clearing away designated tiles, causing a variety of objects to fall off the bottom of the screen, and clearing a path so that you can move an object from one location to another.  The last mode is cool because there are buttons that let you rotate the board 90 degrees in either direction so that you can get the tiles to fall to your advantage no matter how the path twists.

Occasionally you will have to fight some bad guys as well, which is also accomplished via a match 3 board.  The difference here is that you and the villains will be making matches on the same board at the same time, so you have to be quick and pay attention to what they are doing at the same time.  In grand super hero cartoon style, the first character to push their opponent’s ray back in their face wins the battle.  There’s a lot to tackle, but thankfully at certain milestones you’ll collect talismans that give you the ability to do things like clear all the tiles of a certain color, remove all tiles in a selected area and even make diagonal moves for a short period of time.  Some talismans require you to match tiles that are the same color as the talisman, others just require matches of four or more of a tile, and some give you one use and then you have to win them with the spin of a wheel in order to use them again.

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The game uses a simple tap or swipe mechanic to swap two tiles for a match.  Some talismans require you to drag their energy to a target location on the board, while others require basic taps to activate.  Overall the control scheme is easy to use and quite responsive.  Beyond the 75 level campaign there is no infinite level but there are both relaxed and time modes as well as the ability to add additional tiles to each level where you must clear away designated tiles.  This at least adds some replay value.  The game offers 3 profiles so multiple people can play on the same device and iCloud support so you can play across multiple devices.  There are 15 achievements to earn and one leaderboard to compete on which ranks you based on your overall score for the game.

Vampire Ventures is not the fanciest looking match 3 game around, but the visuals are still pretty nice.  The characters remind me of something out of a PBS cartoon, and there are some nice special effects when you use the various talismans.  The sound effects are okay, and I do like the voice they used for Val in the cut scenes that appear between many of the levels.  The most impressive part of the aesthetics is definitely the music.  Sometimes bouncy, sometimes series and occasionally bordering on moody, I could easily see this score being used in a Hollywood soundtrack.

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When I first played Kitten Sanctuary I felt like Clockwork Pixels knew their way around the match 3 concept pretty well, and Vampire Ventures just validates that theory.  Multiple play styles, useful power ups and a story to tie everything together all help this game stand out from the crowd.  Now if they’d just throw in an infinite play mode the replay value would be incredible.

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App Summary
Title: Vampire Ventures Developer: Clockwork Pixels
Reviewed Ver: 1.02.0 Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $1.99 App Size: 89.8 MB
  • Multiple play styles fend off repetitiveness
  • Profiles and iCloud support provide flexible playing options
  • Music is incredible
  • No infinite mode
  • Achievements on first come, first serve basis

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Cavemania in Review: Stone Age Match 3 Mayhem http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/10/11/cavemania-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/10/11/cavemania-in-review/#comments Sat, 12 Oct 2013 01:21:19 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73257 Not too long ago a game called Scurvy Scallywags came out that created a new breed of match 3 hybrids.  It was a welcome evolution from everything we’d seen so far, and I was hoping that more games would take the concept and run.  Well, not only did Cavemania run with it, the game created its … Read more]]>

Not too long ago a game called Scurvy Scallywags came out that created a new breed of match 3 hybrids.  It was a welcome evolution from everything we’d seen so far, and I was hoping that more games would take the concept and run.  Well, not only did Cavemania run with it, the game created its own finish line.  Now I’m not trying to say I love Scurvy Scallywags any less, and there are actually a couple of features in that game I like better, but Cavemania has me hooked.  I’m really not quite sure what to classify this as yet, but if you had to give it a label I suppose “strategy / RPG / match 3” hybrid would work as well as anything.

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So your job is to help a poor chieftain reunite his tribe that has been mercilessly scattered asunder.  Of course one would suppose that had the chieftain been doing his job in the first place this wouldn’t have happened, but I digress.  You’ll travel the land locating comrades, building structures and fending off predators.  Along the way you’ll have to gather resources, which is where the match 3 part of the game comes in.  The more items you match in one go the more resources you get (for example if you match 4 items you get 8 of that resource instead of just three).  You can also earn up to three power crystals by making matches of 4 or more, and you earn a prize box for every match of 5 or more that you make.  When you’re not busy making matches you’ll want to be sure that characters are next to any bad guys that are on the field, as they will automatically attack after every round.  Characters can only move one tile a turn but at least they can move independently of making a match.

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Each level has a set of tasks to accomplish in order for you to be successful, and those goals are displayed on the right side of the screen.  You only have so many slots to fill with character types that you can use, so you’ll want to pick the best ones for the tasks that you need to get done.  You also have a limited number of moves to work with, so make sure you keep an eye on the counter in the upper left corner.  You can play as many levels as you want as long as you beat them, but every time you lose a level you lose a heart, and when all the hearts are gone you either have to buy more via IAP or wait for them to regenerate.  Upon successful completion of a level you earn between 1 and 3 stars as well as coins for those stars.  If you go back and try to do better on a level you previously completed you will only get coins for extra stars you earn.  You can also collect money by matching certain items on the board.

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The money can be used to upgrade your characters’ offensive and defensive skills, as well as reduce the cost of building structures.  You can even buy boosts that will give you extra resources when you make matches.  Don’t expect the cash to be too easy to come by, however.  The three star ranking for each level also provides your “score” to place you on the Game Center leaderboards, and there are 27 different achievements to earn.  You can also connect with Facebook, though I’m not sure how that plays in other than giving them cause to display the message “beat this level before your friends do”.  Of course you can post your victories to Twitter and Facebook if you want.

The game looks great, with colorful characters and cute critters.  Everything is nicely detailed and your troops’ victory dances can be quite amusing.  The sound effects have somewhat of a Flintstones vibe to them, which I suppose is fitting giving the Stone Age nature of the setting.  The music is decent as well, with at least two or three different tracks playing throughout the various levels.

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When it comes to match 3 mash-ups, it doesn’t get much better than Cavemania.  A fun atmosphere, challenging levels and mechanics that go beyond other games of this sort make playing quite a treat.  As you get deeper into the game the levels do get rather challenging, but patience and often taking several tries usually pays off in the end.  And of course nothing says “quick boost” like IAP if you’re so inclined.  Despite the deluge of match 3 games that arrive on a weekly basis, this is one I can definitely recommend.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Cavemania Developer: Yodo1 Games
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.9 Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: Free App Size: 79.4 MB
  • Great mash-up of genres
  • Ability to upgrade characters and structures
  • Fun, kooky characters
  • Atmospheric sound and music
  • Great victory dances
  • Have to wait for lives to regenerate if you lose too often
  • Earning coins for decent upgrades is a slow process
  • Might be tempted to pull hair out on some levels

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An Alien With A Magnet in Review – The Developer Sure Can Attract Some Fun http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/08/23/an-alien-with-a-magnet/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/08/23/an-alien-with-a-magnet/#comments Fri, 23 Aug 2013 13:36:51 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73028 Gamers are always clamouring for that next big thing that they’ve never played before.  I would hope that at least once in a while something new would come along, but I don’t hold my breath for it.  Instead, my main concern is that developers focus on ways to take the styles of game play that … Read more]]>

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Gamers are always clamouring for that next big thing that they’ve never played before.  I would hope that at least once in a while something new would come along, but I don’t hold my breath for it.  Instead, my main concern is that developers focus on ways to take the styles of game play that we have grown to love and make them even more interesting.  Personally I feel Rejected Games has done just that with An Alien with a Magnet.  I find myself loading it up even when I had the intention of playing something completely different, simply because I want to take it for another spin.  You might almost say it has a magnetic quality about it.  But we don’t go for those bad puns around here.

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You are a little alien that has crashed and just wants to get back home.  Unfortunately the only thing that still works in your craft is a magnet, but it would appear that will be enough as it can work in conjunction with the gravity of various planets to slingshot you through space.  Unlike most games of this type where you tap when you want to go, however, in An Alien With A Magnet you tap when you want to stay in orbit of a planet.  If you get too close before tapping you’ll crash into the planet, and if you get out of the planet’s orbit, designated by a ring that glows when you’re in the right proximity, you’ll just have to wait until the next one comes along (and hope you don’t collide with the rocks in the mean time).  While you’re in a planet’s orbit you’ll spin around it, and it often takes precise timing and facing the right direction while spinning to get to your next destination.

Several interesting challenges await such as planets that have no orbit until you bounce into them once or planets that don’t actually exist until you collect all of their puzzle pieces scattered about the level.  Sometimes you’ll need cannons to guide your path, and in other levels you’ll have to avoid black holes that have no problem sucking you in and not spitting you back out.  The one I’m not real fond of is the energy meter.  On some levels you only have a certain amount of energy before you can’t use your magnet any more.  Luckily that means as you’re drifting you’re fine, but while orbiting a planet you use up that precious energy.  It can only be recovered when you orbit certain planets that act as rechargers, but these don’t always exist on levels that use the meter.  I get that the developer was trying to be creative with the challenges, but this is the next worst thing to a timer, and to me doesn’t fit with the casual nature of the rest of the game.

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Controlling the game is as simple as pressing the screen to use the magnet and letting go to retract it.  It doesn’t even matter where you press on the screen, so long as you’re not pressing the pause button.  Along the way you can collect up to three green orbs on each level that act like many games’ “three star” ranking.  There are also tons of stars to collect to help bolster your overall score for the level.  Finally you can collect gems to unlock special sub-levels that aren’t required to complete the game.  How long it takes you to get through the game really depends on how much of a perfectionist you are.  If you can’t get your fill from everything the main game play mode has to offer there’s also Time Attack mode which lets you race against the clock and compare your lightning fast reflexes with other Game Center members.  Oh, and there are even some achievements to earn too if you need more.

Visually I could very easily see this being a Saturday morning cartoon.  The backgrounds have nice details while remaining bright and colorful, and the main character is full of expression.  The sound effects work well for the most part, though the sound a puzzle piece makes as it is travelling to its planet is really annoying.  The music is pretty decent, but this is one of those games where you’ll honestly not really notice it unless you’re trying to.

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An Alien with a Magnet is lots of fun.  The first time I played it I thought it was interesting but just kind of shrugged it off, and now I’m addicted.  If you’re one of those people that pride yourself on collecting every star, gem or what have you on any given level, you’ll certainly have your work cut out for you with this one.  There is plenty to do, a great feeling of satisfaction when you complete certain levels, and new surprises to be discovered throughout your journey.  An added benefit is that this is a game that is not only safe for kids, but one they will most likely really enjoy.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: An Alien with a Magnet Developer: Rejected
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: $2.99 App Size:
  • New spin on tested game play
  • Challenging, diverse levels
  • Plenty of extras
  • Lighthearted atmosphere
  • Cute visuals
  • Safe for children
  • Energy meter makes some levels frustrating
  • Time Attack mode uses same levels
  • No “infinite” mode

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LIMBO Game in Review – A Dark, Captivating Platformer http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/07/21/limbo-game-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/07/21/limbo-game-in-review/#comments Sun, 21 Jul 2013 17:41:53 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=72890 I’ve always felt platform games were a staple of the mobile game world, or at least they were until everyone wanted a touch screen.  It’s not even that people didn’t want platform games any more, but rather while some developers did a much better job than others, no one could really seem to master solid … Read more]]>

I’ve always felt platform games were a staple of the mobile game world, or at least they were until everyone wanted a touch screen.  It’s not even that people didn’t want platform games any more, but rather while some developers did a much better job than others, no one could really seem to master solid controls with no physical controller.  LIMBO doesn’t accomplish that task either, but thankfully that didn’t stop the developers from porting the game over to iOS devices.  There’s something about this game that grabs you pretty much from the beginning and just doesn’t let go… even when the main character doesn’t do what you want him to.

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You play a young boy trying to rescue his sister, though I wouldn’t have known that had I not read the iTunes description.  You start out in a field with no explanation of why you’re there or any instructions on how to play the game.  Anyone with the slightest amount of gaming experience will figure it out, though, and soon you’ll be up and running.  And jumping, pushing, pulling, climbing and swinging from ropes.  There is a wide variety of puzzles in this game, and some of them are very creative.  There are also a couple of “bosses” that you have to deal with in quite interesting ways.  The important thing is that you are willing to try things that you wouldn’t expect to work, because you never know what will succeed in the land of Limbo.

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You swipe both to move left and right and to jump, which can sometimes cause issues where you end up performing one action instead of the other.  This can be especially problematic in situations that require extremely precise movement or impeccable timing.  Most other actions require some combination of tapping and dragging and do tend to work fairly well except when timing is crucial.  Thankfully I’ve always managed to figure a puzzle out just before I was ready to chuck my iPad through a window.  It’s a good thing too, because I can’t afford a new iPad right now.  The focus of the game is exploring and ultimately finishing it, evidenced by the lack of level score or any sort of leaderboards.  There are achievements, but even though I’m nearly half way through the game I haven’t earned a single one yet, so I’d say these are geared more towards the folks that really need it all.

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The graphics in LIMBO are incredible.  Everything is extremely well drawn and despite the limited palette comprised of shades of black and white and the silhouetted nature of the design, there is still plenty of detail.  I particularly like the fact that you often see the protagonist’s white eyeballs amidst the shadowy nature of his form.  The only thing I don’t care for is that sometimes the scenes get a bit too dark and it’s hard to tell what’s going on.  The sound effects do a great job of bringing the world of LIMBO to life.  I don’t normally like it when games like this don’t have a soundtrack, but the ambient sounds are enough to accentuate the spooky atmosphere.

Conceptually this is a beautiful game.  It’s gripping without a vocalized story, it’s challenging and creative, and it looks and sounds amazing.  It’s probably one of the best platform games I’ve played in a long time, iPad or otherwise… at least in terms of content.  I just implore the developers to consider revamping the control scheme to make it more touch screen friendly.  By the time that happens I’ll probably be done with the game, but they’ll certainly save future players a bunch of heartache.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: LIMBO Game Developer: Playdead
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 6.0
Price: $4.99 App Size:
  • Great atmosphere
  • Creative puzzles
  • Beautiful visuals
  • Complimentary sound effects
  • Controls can be frustrating
  • Visuals sometimes get too dark

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The Room in Review – One Location, Plenty Of Fun http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/05/24/the-room-in-review-one-location-plenty-of-fun/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/05/24/the-room-in-review-one-location-plenty-of-fun/#comments Fri, 24 May 2013 16:45:09 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=72662 I couldn’t decide if I wanted to invest in The Room or not, but I was really tempted to grab it when the game went on sale for 99 cents.  A raving review in a TouchArcade forum I frequent pushed me over the edge and I made the purchase, but then I began to play it … Read more]]>

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to invest in The Room or not, but I was really tempted to grab it when the game went on sale for 99 cents.  A raving review in a TouchArcade forum I frequent pushed me over the edge and I made the purchase, but then I began to play it and started having second thoughts.  Once I went back to it after a day or two, however, something clicked and I realized how brilliant the game was.  I’ve always been more interested in Sierra and LucasArts style adventure games with lots of convoluted object puzzles and silly dialog than pure puzzle based games like Myst, but something about The Room captured my attention and wouldn’t let go.

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The entirety of the game takes place in a single room, and as a point of fact centers around a single entity, at least as far as I’ve seen.  The object is a large ornately carved box designed by your professor friend, and your task is to unlock all of its mysteries and figure out what the professor was studying before he disappeared.  In some ways you’ll really want to learn more about what he was studying, but truthfully you’ll be so intrigued by figuring out what the answer to the next puzzle is that you will forget there’s a reason behind what you’re doing.  That is, of course, until you find the next note that the professor has left.

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What makes this game stand out from basically any other puzzle / adventure game you’ve played before is how well it makes use of the features on your device.  The game is 3D, but that’s not just for looks.  You’ll constantly be rotating your view point and zooming in to explore the box and all that it holds.  Puzzles might require you to tilt the device to accomplish something.  A roll top lid actually expects you to use your finger to swipe as if you were rolling the lid.  Drag a drawer to open it up.  Flick a switch to reposition it.  This is one of the most interactive puzzle games I’ve ever seen that doesn’t require you to don virtual reality gear.  There are even some puzzles that require you to use multiple fingers to manipulate more than one thing at the same time.  And just wait until you have to start zooming in on and manipulating inventory items!

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Equally compelling is the hint system.  Each hint has multiple levels, and so far none of them have really outright given me the answer to anything.  They’re really meant more to strongly guide you in the direction that you need to go, which is the way a hint system should work.  If I had one gripe about the whole thing it’s that there are times where I just had no idea what to do without a hint, but since the hints aren’t too revealing I don’t mind that very much.

The game looks great.  I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say “eerily” realistic like the iTunes description, but the visuals certainly transcend most iOS games in terms of detail, especially when it comes to puzzle games.  You occasionally run into the typical 3D redraw issues when zooming in on certain areas, but for the most part everything is rendered exceptionally well.  The background is more ambiance than music, and that I would describe as eerie for a different reason.  It often reminds me of the noises one might hear in a Japanese horror film like The Grudge.  The sound effects all fit in nicely with whatever it is you are manipulating, whether it be wood, metal or whatever else.

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The Room is an amazing game.  It turns being locked into a room and focusing on one main object an engaging process.  I would certainly not want to see all adventure games go this route, but if a developer snuck one of these into the App Store every once in a while I certainly wouldn’t complain. One thing I hope more developers do take away from this product is that it doesn’t need to be an action game in order for you to take advantage of all the nuances the device has to offer.  If you like your adventure with a heavy dose of puzzles and a little story to tie everything together, you really don’t want to ignore this game any longer.

Kiss It Rating- 5/5

App Summary
Title: The Room Developer: Fireproof Games
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: $1.99 App Size:
  • Wonderful puzzles that take advantage of things like multi-touch and tilt
  • Excellent visuals
  • Great sound
  • Sometimes difficult to figure out what to do next

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Sporos in Review – Puzzling And Relaxing All In One http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/03/02/sporos-in-review-puzzling-and-relaxing-all-in-one/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/03/02/sporos-in-review-puzzling-and-relaxing-all-in-one/#comments Sat, 02 Mar 2013 22:47:34 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=72043 Sporos is one of those games that makes you wonder why they haven’t done something like it before.  The game is like a chain reaction puzzler except that instead of trying to destroy objects and clear the board you’re attempting to fill the board with the few objects you’re given.  It’s a clever take on the … Read more]]>

Sporos is one of those games that makes you wonder why they haven’t done something like it before.  The game is like a chain reaction puzzler except that instead of trying to destroy objects and clear the board you’re attempting to fill the board with the few objects you’re given.  It’s a clever take on the genre, and if it’s been done before I must have missed it.  Whatever the case I’m glad I’ve been introduced to the idea now, and Sporos is certainly a great starting point for getting acquainted with this type of gameplay.

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So where you’d normally start out with a full playing field, in Sporos all the tiles are empty.  At the top of the board are multiple pieces, each of which has several lines drawn in them.  The lines indicate in which directions spores will be created once you play the piece.  You have two objectives: use all the pieces and fill all the tiles.  Spores that are created can overlap each other, but you cannot place a piece on a tile that already contains a spore.  What’s really neat is that you can drag a piece to a tile and until you let go to place the piece it will show you all the tiles that will be filled in if you use the piece.  If you decide you don’t want to use a piece just drag it back to the top, even once you’ve placed it on the board.

I’ve only seen one deviation in the gameplay at this point, which is tiles that redirect the flow of spores when they are encountered.  While it might be nice to have more specialty tiles (and maybe they do come later since there are 500 levels), it impresses me how well the game holds my attention with what it has.  It also makes me look forward to getting to new level sets in the hopes that they will bring new features.  One thing that’s really refreshing about Sporos is that there are no time limits and you don’t get penalized for taking your time to think.  It’s nice when a game actually encourages you to plan your attack, as it were.  There’s no score to be had, but there are 19 achievements to earn, several of which revolve around acquiring stars.  I’m not sure what drives a three star rating, but if you don’t get three stars on a level you can simply go back to the menu and select the level again to “reset the counter” so to speak.

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The visuals are fairly simple, yet they can be quite mesmerizing.  There’s just enough movement taking place to keep you from falling into a daze, and the neon spores are a nice contrast the more basic colors of the background and tiles.  The music is very soothing and also sounds vaguely familiar.  It really enhances the hypnotic effect of the presentation.  The sound effects sound like popping bubbles, which is another soothing noise, at least for me.  I guess once you’ve beaten the game you can use the sights and sounds to lull you to sleep on a rough night!

This is one of the best puzzle games I’ve played in a long time. It gives you a feeling of satisfaction without the frustration of believing that you only beat a level because you got lucky.  It’s an original concept that sets itself apart from the crowd in a good way.  And it has an incredible presentation without resorting to another cute leading character (and don’t get me wrong, I like cute leading characters).  If you’re looking for something different to play, look no further than Sporos.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Sporos Developer: AppXplore Sdn Bhd
Reviewed Ver:  1.1 Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $0.99 App Size:  7.5MB
  • Original concept
  • Gives you time to think
  • Plenty of levels
  • Aesthetics are mesmerizing
  • Universal App
  • Nothing significant

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Block Blasters in Review – This Is Why You Shouldn’t Play With Bombs http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/01/23/block-blasters-in-review-this-is-why-you-shouldnt-play-with-bombs/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/01/23/block-blasters-in-review-this-is-why-you-shouldnt-play-with-bombs/#comments Wed, 23 Jan 2013 22:25:15 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=71783 I love physics puzzle game, but there is certainly more than a fair share to choose from.  Still, if one seems to offer something new or do something proven really well I’m more than happy to give it a shot.  In the case of Block Blasters you get to use various forms of explosives to shuffle … Read more]]>

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I love physics puzzle game, but there is certainly more than a fair share to choose from.  Still, if one seems to offer something new or do something proven really well I’m more than happy to give it a shot.  In the case of Block Blasters you get to use various forms of explosives to shuffle the board around, so who wouldn’t want to give that a go?  Unfortunately, while the game is conceptually intriguing, in practice it’s more burdensome than anything else.  Imprecise controls, frustrating puzzles and annoying sound effects highlight what should have been a fun little puzzle game.

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The red blocks have invaded, and it’s up to you to boot them out while keeping the green blocks safe.  Thankfully you have a limited supply of bombs and dynamite at your disposal, but skillful hands and a sharp mind will guarantee that the resources you have do the trick.  Tap to place a bomb and you’ll immediately see the effects as blocks go flying.  Tap to place a pack of dynamite and you get three seconds to either mock the blocks or do something else.  The nice thing is that the game is real time, so you can set a pack of dynamite and then use a bomb while the dynamite is counting down.  If you do it right you can even redirect a block in mid air with another bomb.

There is no scoring or achievements in Block Blasters.  All you have as a measure of “completion” in the game besides actually finishing each level is collecting the three stars that reside on every level.  The way the game starts out that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be an issue.  Unfortunately before long it becomes a bit troublesome, especially once the green blocks are introduced.  You know, the ones you have to protect?  They are still impacted by the events that transpire, and if one of them crosses the boundary on either side of the screen the level is lost.  There are eventually stone blocks that get tossed around but don’t get destroyed with one blast and gold blocks that barely move on impact.

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Normally I would welcome the challenge, but I find it so difficult to set the explosions precisely where I want them that I’m often just thrilled to pass a level.  Combine that with the fact that there is no reset button on a level and I very rarely find myself caring about going back to collect all three stars once I’ve passed a level.  For someone that thrives on collecting stars, that’s never a good sign.

The graphics are pretty standard for this type of game.  The red and green blocks are cute, though not nearly as animated and some other puzzle games I’ve played recently.  In fact, the whole visual setup seems pretty stiff, and there is no animation in the background at all.  The sound effects are actually kind of irritating, which makes this the second game in a week where I’ve felt compelled to turn the sound off.  At least the other game had some decent background music, though, whereas this one has none.

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Unfortunately, in the end I wasn’t very impressed with Block Blasters.  It’s a fairly run of the mill physics puzzler to begin with, and when you throw in troublesome controls and lackluster aesthetics, I find it very hard to recommend giving the game a try.  In a fledgling game market it might be a different story, but with all the physics puzzle games at your disposal, there are much better options than this.

Slap It Rating - 2/5

App Summary
Title: Block Blasters Developer: G3zar Studios
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 5.1
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Certainly not the worst game I’ve played
  • Bombs hard to place precisely
  • Graphics aren’t very animated
  • Sound effects are annoying
  • No background music

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Pudding Monsters HD in Review – No Bill Cosby But Still Fun http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/01/10/pudding-monsters-hd-in-review-no-bill-cosby-but-still-fun/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/01/10/pudding-monsters-hd-in-review-no-bill-cosby-but-still-fun/#comments Thu, 10 Jan 2013 12:11:44 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=71680 Cut The Rope was one of the first games to be billed as an “Angry Birds killer”, and while I don’t believe it quite made it to that status, there’s no denying the game’s impact on the mobile puzzle game genre.  The developers are back with an entirely different concept in Pudding Monsters, but the … Read more]]>

Cut The Rope was one of the first games to be billed as an “Angry Birds killer”, and while I don’t believe it quite made it to that status, there’s no denying the game’s impact on the mobile puzzle game genre.  The developers are back with an entirely different concept in Pudding Monsters, but the important thing is that the game is just as entertaining as Cut The Rope.  Gamers looking for a challenge might be a bit disappointed, as the current level sets are a bit on the easy side overall, but those looking for a cute casual gaming experience are sure to love the whole package.

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Pudding Monsters is one of those games where you slide playing pieces around the screen to try and get them to certain spots.  The pieces in this case are all manner of different jiggly creatures, and they’ll only stop when there is an object or another creature in the way.  Objects simply stop the creatures, and in the case of ice blocks break on contact.  When a creature collides with another creature they merge to become a bigger creature and lose any type of “powers” the original creatures had.  The one exception to this is the eyeball, which can’t merge with another creature until it has rolled in some goop to become a creature itself.  There is also a replicator object that instead of stopping creatures creates clones of them as they pass through.

Your primary objective on each level is to merge all of the creatures into one big one, and while I haven’t experiment much with the concept yet I believe there is more than one way to solve some of these puzzles.  The secondary objective is to make sure that by the time you’ve merged all the creatures, part of the resulting monster is resting on top of each of the three stars found on a given level.  There are 24 base levels and a bonus level to each pack, and currently there are 3 level packs.  I’ve managed to get 3 stars in all but the bonus level of the last pack, which is why I caution that this might not be the most difficult puzzle game on the market.  Casual players should have no problem getting into it, though, and kids will love it.

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The controls are simple – touch a monster and swipe it in the direction you want to go.  There is nothing else to interact with because the creatures themselves handle the rest.  The only problem I’ve ever had with the controls is accidentally hitting the reset button once or twice, but that’s just me being clumsy.  Besides earning three stars on each level there are 20 game center achievements to get, a couple of which might take some thought to accomplish.  Unfortunately there’s not much replay factor beyond that, but there’s more than enough fun trying to accomplish the goals in the first place.

Like Cut The Rope, the atmosphere in Pudding Monsters is best described as cute.  The visuals are quite colorful and there are amusing little details including various objects like school buses sticking out of the creatures’ heads.  It’s fun to watch the critters dance around while they are waiting for you to do something as well.  The sound effects are decent enough, though if you get too many of certain types of monsters on the screen at once it can get a bit annoying.  Sadly there is only one musical track spread across the three worlds, but it suits the game well and never really gets boring.

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As a gamer that likes puzzle games but tends not to be very good at them, I appreciated the thoughtful yet mostly easy level sets.  The concept itself was a nice variation of a time tested style of play, and the atmosphere was just right to draw you in and make you smile.  I hope there are more level sets soon, and now that we’ve gotten the basic stuff out of the way some more challenge would be fine, but whatever comes down the road you can bet I’m ready for more Pudding Monsters madness!

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Pudding Monsters HD Developer: ZeptoLab UK Limited
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Simple, addictive game play
  • Colorful graphics
  • Cool background music
  • Tad on the easy side
  • Lacks replay value

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