In January of last year a unique new puzzle game called Cardboard Castle hit the App Store. If I were to quickly summarize Valentin – The Valiant Viking I’d say it was a “spiritual successor” to Cardboard Castle, even though it’s not by the same developers. The game has a similar knack for silly solutions to thoughtful puzzles and the visuals were clearly inspired. Still, Valentin does an excellent job of standing on its own two feet, and it throws a wrinkle or two into the mix to make sure it is a completely different game.
It seems like so many in the puzzle genre revolve around physics based gameplay that it’s nice once in a while to load up a game like BrainJewel. After playing this offering from TribePlay for a little bit you suddenly realize how nice it is to simply fling stuff at other stuff and get points for it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that physics games aren’t fun, nor am I claiming that this isn’t a good game, because neither statement would be true. I’m just suggesting that if you’re going to tackle a title like BrainJewel, you might want to have a game around that won’t require nearly as many brain cells when you need to take a break every once in a while.
I’ve always preferred games that make you think a bit to those that test your twitch reflexes, and portable touch screen devices have proven to be a perfect match for puzzle games. I have to say that the sub-genre of light bending conundrums has been among my least favorite, however, in large part due to the fact that it usually doesn’t take long before I get stuck and can’t move on. Light The Flower showed me that it has as much to do with the presentation as anything. Sure there are times where I still get stuck, but in the end it’s always worth the struggle to hear the content reactions of a satisfied flower.
Apparently the need to add “cuteness” to puzzle games isn’t going away any time soon, but that’s okay with me as long as the game is fun to play. Thankfully that is the case with Cannon Cat, the premiere offering from new iOS developer Loqheart. It would probably be more accurate to label the game action than puzzle, though there are definitely situations that will require a bit of thought if you want to score all the fish in a level. However you want to classify the game it’s enjoyable and quite habit forming.
On the surface, Two Lives Left’s Cargo-Bot looks like any other ordinary puzzle game, but beneath it all, it was created entirely on the iPad – making it the first iOS game programmed solely on an iOS device. Released earlier today, Cargo-Bot was made with Codea [$9.99], a touch-based programming app for the iPad.
Presenting Cargo-Bot. The first game programmed entirely on iPad using Codea™. Cargo-Bot is a puzzle game where you teach a robot how to move crates. Sounds simple, right?
It features 36 fiendishly clever puzzles, haunting music and stunning retina graphics. You can even record your solutions and share them on YouTube to show your friends.
When games set the bar so high in a particular genre, much like The Treasures of Montezuma 3 did for match 3 games, I often wonder if new variants are even going to be worth trying. I was especially nervous about this one because I had played its canine sibling, Puppy Sanctuary, on the PC and didn’t really care for it. I’m happy to report that not only is Kitten Sanctuary a much more interesting game than its puppy partner (or I didn’t give the other enough of a chance), but it can actually be quite addicting. The whole Tamagatchi style interludes aren’t even that bad.
I’m beginning to think developers are purposely making the tough puzzle games cute. They do it to lull us into a false sense of security because of course a cute looking puzzle game is going to be easy. It has to be for the kids that will invariably be drawn to it, right? I can’t think of a more charming premise than a disgruntled sheepdog that dons a motorcycle helmet and goes all Evil Knievel to get the sheep he’s supposed to be rounding up to respect him. Yet some of these levels can be quite maddening.
While rhythm action games in the old-school vein of Parappa the Rapper have certainly seen their day, Simogo Games has come to the table with a lightly veiled reincarnation entitled Beat Sneak Bandit. The game takes place in the city of Pulsebury, in which you, The Bandit, have learned that all the clocks in town are being stolen. The suspect is none other than Duke Clockface: villainous owner of the mysterious Clockwork Mansion. Serving more as Batman than Bandit, you invoke vigilante law in an attempt to steal back the town’s clocks.
There is a list that sits on my desk that is infamous – at least to me – because it is the list of all the games that I have slated for review. It’s not a bad list, mind you, but rather a constant reminder that I have a lot of playing to do. The problem with this is what has compelled me to write this particular review. I sat down one day at lunch to play one of those games that I’m supposed to review, and I spent about 10 minutes with it. The game was fun, but I was ready to move on. Then I decided to go back to Trundle Unlimited. Before I knew it a half hour had passed and my lunch break was over. I felt like I had been playing for five minutes.
Not too long ago before this review I wrote a preview for Azkend 2, so I decided to start over and play the game on my iPad this time around. I was about half way through the game on my iPod Touch, but the truth is that I’ve had just as much fun the second time around with this match 3 from 10tons. Actually, I think it was a bit more entertaining because I found it easier to pull off massive combos on the larger screen. Still, whether you’ve got an iPad or just a small screen device with which to play iOS games, Azkend 2 is definitely worth your time.