Archive for July, 2009
After being positive, but maybe slightly lukewarm about this in yesterday’s post I went and surprised myself by playing it a lot. Sure, there’s not much to it, but as I’ve said elsewhere, this is not necessarily a bad thing. A small, simple game can be just what you need and Minigore’s one of the best games of that type that I’ve played on the iPhone.
It’s also a lot better now I’ve turned Expert mode on. It doesn’t change any game mechanics to make things harder, it simply gets the game going more quickly. No longer do you spend the first couple of minutes hunting out small enemies – it gives you more enemies to shoot at the beginning of the game and introduces new enemy types faster. It’s not overwhelming, it’s not some sort of hardcore mode for the twitch-gods of gaming, it just gets you to the good stuff faster. Try it.
Yesterday, I said that Minigore was the Zombies & Me of twin-stick shooters, by which I meant that it was simple, fun, good-looking and polished as heck. To test out whether it was a good comparison, I thought I better play some Zombies & Me, as I’ve been ignoring it.
1) My comparison was correct, I think.
2) Zombies & Me is a very good game. Sure, you wouldn’t want it to be your only game, but as one of a collection of short games that are good for a quick go it works very well. There’s nothing else quite like it.
I think the current pricing on the App Store is skewing our idea of value. Sure, it’s nice that there are games for 59p that you can sit down with, then look up and be surprised to find that you’ve lost half an hour. That’s great. However, games that you can play for two minutes at a time do have an important place on an iPhone. Stuck in a queue? Having a little poo? Commercial break during a TV show? There’s nothing wrong with spending a small amount of money on a game you’ll play for a couple of minutes every few days, as long as its good. As far as those games go, simple little games like Zombies & Me, Rope’n'Fly and Racer have as much right to your 59p as things like geoDefense, Underworlds and Isotope.
Well, it’s not Bookworm Adventures, unfortunately, but Bookworm has had a price cut to 59p. Probably to grab the coattails of publicity from the release of Bookworm Adventures 2 on the PC. It does what it’s meant to do, without fuss or bother. It’s just Bookworm. On the iPhone, not the PC.
And, yes, it does save your game when you quit out of the app. This is a good thing, because games of Bookworm never end. Seriously, the game never gets very difficult and you never actually lose a game on the PC version, you just have to close your browser after playing the same game for several weeks. It’s possible that the iPhone game might be rebalanced, of course. I guess I’ll find out… eventually.
Didn’t play any of the story last night, just levels in Mercenaries mode. First I tried out the Pincer Attack level again. I managed to do it, but I was stuck with just a handgun, my back to the wall and some scary enemies advancing on me when the helicopter finally showed up. Very tense stuff.
Though not as tense as the next mission, Sniper’s Hand. It is, as the name implies, a sniper level. You start on a ledge with the rifle and fair amount of ammo. There’s a ladder leading down to the ground that you can kick over. Then it’s a question of picking off the bad guys as they approach. It seems easy at first, but before too long the enemies have got the ladder back up. That’s still okay, though, because you can shoot them and kick it back down. That doesn’t last long, though, and eventually you’ll be unable to get to the ladder as more and more enemies approach and climb up to your ledge. They keep going down, but then the rifle clicks… you’re out of ammunition. Sometimes the enemies drop ammo, but do you dare to try and reach it with enemies approaching? Even if you do, you’ll run out again before long, so you switch to the handgun and keep firing as the final seconds count down, hoping that the rescue helicopter will reach you before the villagers. It’s awesome stuff, it really is.
And I didn’t even mention that now and again enemies can come from behind you and mess up your careful sniping. I’ve played this level a few times and it’s never been less than heart-pounding, terrifying stuff. If I was better at sniping people it would be a lot easier, but also less exciting. I’m actually hoping I don’t get too good at it.
Oh, and it also earns you a huge amount of money, due to the number of enemies and the amount of head shots you get. I’m building up a lot cash, which I’ll use to upgrade my weapons when I go and do the next story level.
Played a lot last night. Won some games, some lost games, many are still ongoing.
It’s a great game, this, it really is. It would be nice if it wasn’t so buggy, though. I’ve had tiles stuck in their “move across board” animation and they’ve then appeared on every game board until I’ve restated the game. I once had tiles in my rack appear on top of each other and be unplayable – I could drag some of the tiles to empty spots on my rack, but not play them. That bug lasted through restarts and I eventually had to pass my turn to get past it. There’s also a very common bug where it often won’t apply a double word score to your move on the first turn if you place your word on a DW space. (Unlike Scrabble, the first word isn’t automatically doubled.) Also, sometimes you get a 35-point bonus for using all your tiles and sometimes you don’t.
The bugs can make a difference to the outcome of the game, so they really need to be fixed as soon as possible. It’s a testament to the overall quality of the game that the rampant buginess hasn’t put people off playing.
So, I tried playing My Brute yesterday evening. It got to the title screen, but the button wouldn’t respond, so I couldn’t progress. I tried a few times, rebooted my iPhone, finally got it working, only to find that I hadn’t quite left it twenty-four hours since I last played, so I couldn’t do anything.
Later that evening my iPhone informed me that there was an update, to version 1.7. It adds a new arena and, um, some other stuff I don’t remember, but which didn’t sound especially interesting. By this point I was actually able to play, so I finally got to see my dog in action.
It’s worth noting, too, that I’m only using one character, when I could have three, so I could actually be playing more if I felt like it. (The game lets you have nine in total, but only if you recruit people to unlock the extra slots. I’ve talked about how much I hate the policy of locking features unless you recruit other players before, but I’ll mention it again. I hate it. It’s rubbish.)
The Touch Arcade forums are not my favourite place on the web. I’ve not found anywhere else with so much chat about iPhone games and there are some good posters, but there’s an awful lot of static in between the good stuff. Recently, an awful lot of that static has been about Minigore, with the anticipation thread especially being nothing more than a churning mass of adolescent hype. A lot of it’s been at least semi-ironic, but there’s no doubt that a lot of people have been hyped up to the eyeballs for the release of this game.
Which, of course, has made me very curious about it. That’s the thing about hype – it works. Oh, in the long term it can backfire, but for getting sales on the day of release there’s nothing like it. Even people, like me, who weren’t caught up in storm have at least heard the thunder claps a few miles down the road.
Which is all a long-winded way of saying that I bought Minigore because of the hype. And because it was only 59p. And because it’s absolutely bloody gorgeous. Take a look.
It’s not much of an action shot, because there’s no time to take a picture when stuff’s happening, but you should at least be able to tell that it’s a good-looking little game. It’s a simple twin-stick shooter, with a small level and a few different sizes of enemy, with the bigger ones splitting into smaller ones when you shoot them. There’s not very much to it, but what you get it is polished, fast and fun. Think Zombies & Me for a similar amount of game and polish.
It also uses the OpenFeint system for leaderboards. This is good, because it means there actually are leaderboards, but it’s got the usual problem of not showing your position on them. (It’s possible I’ve missed something every time I’ve looked at a Feint-based leaderboard, but I have my doubts.)
The developer is promising many updates in the future, including a co-op mode – though unfortunately that won’t be online. For now, we’ve just got one small level, two guns and a great power-up that turns you into a beast and lets you kill everything you touch for a few satisfying seconds.
So, it’s not the best iPhone game ever, but it is well worth checking out as long as you’re only expecting an unpretentious little shooter. It has to be said, though, that Isotope is the same price and is a much better twin-stick shooter with a lot more going on.
I lost another game at lunchtime, between goes of I Dig It. No, no, I didn’t lose The Game, just a game of Words With Friends. Sorry for any confusion.
So, I tried again. And I’ve spent my entire lunchtime trying again. And again. Oh, I completed the tutorial I got stuck on last night with ease – even though it didn’t seem to actually give me all the instructions this time round – but then I tried the Mini Campaign option, which gives you fifteen minutes to earn $2,000. The wrinkle being that you can’t actually earn $2,000 without spending money. To get your balance above the winning figure you therefore need to balance spending money on your vehicle so you can explore further with saving money towards your goal.
And all the while you’re trying not to die by overheating, smashing up your vehicle or running out of fuel.
It all adds up to a very compelling experience once you’ve worked everything out and I kept going back for another go. Eventually, after many deaths, I managed to hit the magic $2,000 with two minutes and thirty seconds remaining. Phew!
And, yes, for 59p the full version has been purchased.