Slide to Unlock: Issue 7

More iPhone App reviews.


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This week I lost my iPod Touch, and I was devastated. No PS3, no iPod. PSP back home, I had to do something. So anyone following me on twitter would have read that I went out and bought a preowned PS3 Slim. My God, I’m back in the right gen and everything’s so shiny. Nevertheless, I’m still hunting down my iPod that lurks under piles of stuff, as it’s great for little games. In honour of that, this week’s Slide to Unlock focusses on games we remember playing a few weeks ago. Reviews by Robert W and Alec H.

Battle Bears / Free

Battle Bears, seemingly now free, is simply one of the best 3D shooters on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Most owners of the device are often calling out for something a little more developed than 2D puzzle games, and finally we get a 3D shooter that’s extremely easy to control, and has a sense of humour that actually works – something that’s very rare in gaming. The game revolves around shooting down wave upon wave of toy bears who run towards you eerily happy, arms outstretched for a hug. Being the only sane bear, you’ll be using weapons concocted from the remains of those cuddly toys you’ve killed. Shoot a bear in the head, and it bleeds rainbows. It’s that kind of game.

Most shooters on the iPhone get the whole control system wrong because they’re asking you to move around a 3D world, shoot, reload, duck, cover, jump and everything else while all the controls are part of the screen, meaning you’re always covering up the action with your fingers. Battle Bears doesn’t require you to move. You’ll spend the majority of your time sitting behind a mound of sandbags. Your only controls to remember are point and shoot. Much like any zombie game, the tension comes through the way you are limited in movement and weaponry, and despite the enemies being skipping colourful fur balls of happiness, you naturally get a little bit scared when they’re very close.

The humour in the game comes from the entire situation. When was the last time you were attacked by flying unicorns whilst shooting down happy bears with a machine gun as they skip through a scene that looks like it was ripped straight from Teletubbies? The protagonist bear swears a lot, which the sort of humour that’s coming from online animations, and can actually make you laugh at the madness of the story. Through it all, there’s no need to worry about keeping up with the story. The game is designed to be very easy to pick up and play, and it shows. RW.

9/10

Aging Booth / 59p

When I first played this game, I found the novelty to be never-ending. The prospect of taking a photo of someone you know from your iPod Touch or iPhone and pushing a few buttons before seeing them all old and shrivelled seemed pretty fun. Multiply that by two when you then upload the mass of aged photos to a new album and tag everyone, only to receive an equal amount of “WTF?!” comments.

But then that’s about it. Sure, you might later come back to the app and show others, but once you’ve gone through all the photos on your device, there’s not much else to do. Not that you could expect much more. The app itself isn’t quite perfect, and can’t always understand where the face is in a picture, and when letting you tell it manually, may crop away the actual face, so there’s nothing to select. Transferring files back to the computer can also be a hassle, but that’s more to do with the iPod itself.

The old age effect itself is pretty good for the few seconds it takes to process, and will save itself as a new image on your device, so you still have the original. Nevertheless, it’s nothing you couldn’t do in PhotoShop if you knew how to use it. Then again, there’s plenty of people who neither have PhotoShop or the knowledge to make a young person look fifty years older. So in that respect, this app would be for them. There’s fun to be had here as a novelty, but could wear off after a while. RW.

6/10

Doodle Ships / Free

If there is one game I have ever loved over the rest it is the board game of Battleships, the game is just simple but massive fun. So therefore the first game I had to search for when I got my iPod Touch was of course just that, Battleships. Upon surfing the App Store and downloading dozens of different types of the same game I found Doodle Ships which is just one of the most down to earth versions of the lot, even compared the EA Battleships game.

The basic principle of the game is the same as any other where you set out your ships over the board in any fashion you wish to do. You use the touchscreen to move the ships around the board and there is a button to rotate the ships as you wish to. Once the ships are placed the game moves onto the battle board, where you place your attacks with a press on either the grid square or on the side grid number bar. All this sounds much too like any another version of this game that has passed before. But the one option that makes this stand out is the presentation, I’m sure that most if not all of you at school used your exercise books to reek destructive havoc over the pages. Well, this App is exactly the game you used to play; it looks like a school exercise book.

The boards are just concealed under different pages so you can see where the opponent fires in regard to your ships with a neat little flick of the page. All the ships are just simple doodle like drawings which adds to the overall feel of the game as something you would have done at school. For the shots that are fired and hit a vessel there are some cartoony explosions that hark back to the 60’s BatMan days.

The game offers both games against the AI and also human versus human battles on the same iPod. For the AI there are three different settings for difficulty of which the last ‘three star’ one offers some challenging gameplay while not being overly taxing. For the human versus human games there is a slight delay before the screen pops up to allow for a change over of hands, keeping the game private.

Over all I believe that Doodle Ships is one of the best reimaginings of a board game I have played in a while. Of course it offers nothing really that new or different in terms of content each other version pretty much covers the same territory but it is the way the game is presented that got to me, it’s like reliving my schooldays again. AH.

7/10

*Prices were correct as of 25th April 2010

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