Slide to Unlock: Issue 1

New iPhone round-up feature kicks off

Last week I launched a new feature called Bonus Content. In the innaugural issue we covered some iPhone games that we’d been taking a look at. Well, that turned out to be a pretty popular decision so this week I’m launching yet another new feature which will hopefully be a regular weekly affair. We’re going to look at a few iPhone/iPod Touch apps each week and give you a little mini-review. We might even branch out to other mobile devices if we can find anyone who wants to write about them or, more importantly, read about them. I hope you enjoy this first issue, all feedback is welcomed in the comments.

Blyx

The game starts, as with all quality puzzle games, with a very simple premise. You have a square-tiled area covering a picture; in this case they are cartoon aliens. Some of the tiles are full colour and some are monochrome. The aim is to turn them all into full colour, completing the image, in as few moves as possible. You turn a tile to colour (or monochrome) by tapping on it but the trick is that all adjoining tiles horizontally and vertically (not diagonally) will also reverse their colour-situation.

The game starts on a default difficulty with a brief explanation of the mechanics. Nothing too taxing but it might be worth playing through the easier puzzles (there are sixteen on each difficulty) as a sort of tutorial and to warm up to the more taxing ones. Upon completing each puzzle the game tells you that you are a genius and offers you four choices to let your friends know – Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or email. This could add an element of competition to the game and increase the urgency to play.

On the whole it’s not a particularly large package and there is no variation to the game-play; it’s the same principle on a few different sizes of game-board. It is a compelling way to while away some time though and offers bite-sized chunks of gaming that fits the format perfectly. PC

8/10

Calorie Tracker Pro

This is not a game. It’s important you know that so you don’t aim for the high score. The aim of this app is to help you keep a track of your calorie intake as well as your water consumption and weight loss.

It has a vast array of restaurants listed with nutritional info for a huge number of dishes from those restaurants. Anything you cook at home can be added to the app’s database and stored for future reference too. There is an impressive amount of stored data and the editing capabilities mean that you should, in theory, always be able to keep a precise count on your calorie intake. It does what it aims to do almost perfectly.

If you’re the sort of person who likes a McDonalds breakfast, Burger King lunch and Pizza with your evening gaming session then this might just be worth picking up. At the very least it’ll help you remember to drink plenty of water. PC

9/10

Magic Ludo

When I was first tasked to review this game I had no idea of the concept, meaning I was completely confused in the first level. Thankfully the tutorial briskly kicked in and brought me up to speed. Magic Ludo involves high levels of chance in an attempt to move your piece around the entire board, finishing in the relevant triangle in the centre. A six is required to initially move out of the square and begin you on the journey, but watch out for the opposing players. If they can land on the same square as you, your piece will be killed and moved back to the start. Simple enough. Bonus snakes and ladders boards are included too and they follow the same rules.

The controls are all easy to follow, with every button being labelled clearly, and the graphics are adequate for the iPhone. You can’t expect much from a board game in this area and it would be very hard to go wrong. A small refreshing of the slightly outdated icons and banners would be nice to see though.

Two modes are available to play: Challenge and Casual. The latter is a collection of different boards to be played with up to four players and the former involves progressing through the different boards. They are both very similar though. The addition of multiplayer is the only major difference in the casual mode.

It’s not without its problems though. I have frequently experience crashes in the same place, losing my progress, and re-downloading didn’t fix it. This became very annoying because it was during the tutorial. After a lot of persistence I passed the tutorial and unlocked some of the other boards. While some people may not experience this glitch to the same extent as me, it did waste a large amount of my time and became very taxing.

What essentially is a basic but fun concept is ruined by the frequent crashes. I hope the developers are aware of this and can fix the flaw. MC

5/10

Hive

Hive is a chess hybrid based on a hexagonal play board with the pieces represented by insects. The main aim the game is to surround the other player’s Queen Bee whilst at the same time protecting yours. The tactical element comes from each insect and their own specific properties, the Queen Bee can only move one space at a time, the Beetle can travel over occupied spaces and block pieces in and Grasshoppers can traverse large areas by jumping.

The iPhone touch screen allows for easy movement of the camera and to select pieces by either tapping of dragging your finger across the screen. The basic, but effective, graphics allow you to differentiate easily from the many insect pieces on the play board.

As well as the four single player difficulty modes you can also play multiplayer either by sharing your iPhone to take turns or via a P2P network mode.

Hive is a tactical board game that is similar to chess and, once you have gotten your head around the many pieces and their set moves, it offers a strong challenge. DP

7/10

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