Slide to Unlock: Issue 13

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I’m back in England today, so naturally I’ve gone about two days without sleep. Despite the sudden thought that my writing might be out, it actually means I’ve been playing games more on my iPod Touch since I’ve been camping on a mountain and moving from Wales back to England. So with Alec preparing for what I’ve been going through today, I’ve reviewed the games I’ve played the *family-friendly-word* out of over the past few days. Enjoy.

Jet Car Stunts / £1.19 / Free Demo

Take Faith from Mirror’s Edge, the ‘Pure’ time trials from Mirror’s Edge, a car and some rocket boosters. Now attach the rocket boosters to the car and remove Faith – you’ve just made Jet Car Stunts. The game is one of the loveliest-looking games I’ve seen on the platform, with everything that made the abstract time trails in Mirror’s Edge included in a time trail… for a car.

It’s a strange relationship I’ve built with the game over the last few weeks since I found my iPod from down the side of my bed. At first, the controls felt a little awkward, with steering being entirely dependant on you tilting the device, but soon feels natural, and with the flowing camera movements that match the direction you’re driving in, you’ll get the hang of things quickly. That’s where things get weird. The driving is execptionally fun, but you’ll find yourself falling off the edge of the floating blocks of white, red and green a lot. While this would normally cause frustration, there’s just something about the beauty of the surrounding sky and the playability of an awesome car that has you continuing to play without a care in world.

The game has three different modes: Tutorials (twelve tracks), Platforming (twenty five tracks) and Time Trial (twelve tracks). All are quite self explanatory, and like me, you’ll find yourself playing on the Platforming tracks the most, with each track needing you to reach the end with ten lives. You lose a life if you fall off the side (most likely), or if you smash your car into an obstacle when going too fast (less likely, but looks cool).

Jet Car Stunts implements OpenFeint, which, for those of you who know what it is, is always good news. There’s no in-game music, and you can play your own music while you drive. However, I only recently found this out, and was happy just listening to the rumbling engine noises. It’s also because because I can’t find an in-game music selection button, so you’ll need to quit the game to start playing your song from your music list before hitting the app button again.

Overall, the game is beautiful, and better looking than many other 3D iPod and iPhone games. The floating-above-the-clouds location is surreal, yet lovely, and looks damn sexy on the sunset tracks. It’s obvious that the background is one image that maps around the track, but the entire scene is very believable and creates a mood that was similar to when you first entered the Mirror’s Edge time trial pack. Jet Car Stunts isn’t much about stunts, it’s more about controlling your speed and direction, and this may annoy some if you like racing tracks with barriers at each side to stop you falling off – kind of like bowling. There’s also no AI to race against, but the escapism surroundings fit the idea that it’s just you on your own to play to your heart’s content. This game might not therefore be for everyone, but for everyone else, it could be one you’ll keep returning to with pleasure. RW.


Coin Dozer / Free

If like me you once, and maybe still do, love to walk around an old arcade next to some grimy beach looking at pennies being inserted into slots and lost to a big wall moving backwards and forwards, the onlooker hoping it’ll push a mound of coins off the edge and into their pockets, then the thought of this app might just well intrigue you. But don’t get too excited.

As much as penny pusher machines are fun to play on, playing on a virtual penny pusher with virtual coins is practically the opposite of fun. It’s more like a slap in the face to happiness. A kick in the groin to that childlike, innocent sense of gambling. Coin Dozer is literally a virtual penny pusher machine that hasn’t been filled up by the person before you. Getting your first coin takes about four just to push the lot forward enough, and you’re likely to lose many down the holes in the sides. Yes, the one part of penny pushers you hate the most has been replicated in a fun little app. To work the app, you simply tap at the top where you would like your coin to fall on the penny pusher, then watch in exhilaration as your coin falls to the floor level and feebly nudges the surrounding coins, making no difference to the game whatsoever. Do this enough times and if it hasn’t fallen off the side, you might earn a coin.

The game rewards you with new coins to push into the machine at timed intervals, and also if you leave the app and return later. Prizes appear on top of the coins, which, if you collect all four different colours of the same prize, will give you a special power-up. These include faster coin regeneration, coin walls staying up for longer, multipliers on ‘special (silver) coins’, more ‘special’ coins, getting prizes that fall off the sides and increase coin regeneration limit. That’s six power-ups, with four prizes needed for each. Maybe that’s your sort of thing, maybe it’s not.

Nevertheless, Coin Dozer is simply what it set out to be: a virtual penny pusher. The problem with it is that there’s never that same sense of tension that you feel when you actually play on a real one, and you may find yourself lifelessly dropping fake coins into this machine as fast as you can in the hope that you’ll go broke before the timer gives you more to play with. The game does allow you to throw in four coins at a time, but the frame rate drops dramatically and turns any fun from this game into a grey, depressing boredom. RW.