As I find myself drawn to my PS3’s online games (article incoming), my iPod has been downloading lots to try and keep my attention. So I’m looking to the iPod to do something different. Something that I don’t normally do on the main console: board games. On the other hand, Alec looks at what games (and films) have been doing for years: saving women from naughty men.
Cluedo / 59p
I’ve never played Cluedo before. So I never knew it was also known as “Clue” to those in America. Neither did I have any idea how the game worked. It was for that reason then, that I decided to go and take a look at this app. After spending most of the week playing it, I can still say that I have no idea how to play the board game.
That is because Cluedo as an app is not a board game at all. It is instead a game inspired by the original, designed for single play. Instead of rolling the dice, you’re given a time deadline that ticks down a certain amount every time you take an action until your murder story goes to press. An action can include moving between rooms, talking to one of the suspects or inspecting something in the room, and the amount of time elapsed depends on what you just did. For instance, if you asked a suspect the wrong thing, looked at something unimportant or moved a long distance to the next room, more time is taken off. The opposite will take less time off, and if you can’t solve the murder before the time hits zero, you’ll be given a small extension. Hitting zero after that ends your time for inspecting, and you’re asked to make your accusation to print.
There’s twelve situations to play in, the answer randomising every play. In every game, there’s four stars up for grabs. One for correctly accusing the murderer, one for the room of murder, one for the murder weapon and the last if you solve it all before the first deadline. I managed to complete all of these to at least three stars within a few hours, and there’s always the chance to go back and replay to reach four stars, or just for fun. The randomised ending gives it that re-playability.
Cluedo has a great art style, its sound also adds to the slickness in presentation, and you feel as though you’re playing a quality game. Towards the end, you start giving up trying to solve the mystery as you go along, and probably try and collect all the clues before the first deadline to spend a good ten minutes working it all out with the drag-and-drop crime map. You’ll be recapping your notes, crossing out suspicions and moving people and weapons about a map of the house like numbers on a Sudoku puzzle – but it all makes for a very good puzzler.
If there’s anything to find in this game that lessens it is the length. Each situation changes the layout of the rooms, and the excuses people give, but if that’s all that changes, it feels as though there could be many more situations that could randomise. Also, I’d like to see the characters have a few more emotional changes on their faces, especially when they’re accused correctly at the end. Otherwise they look like cardboard cutouts, which is essentially what they are. While I enjoyed the fact that this was single player and I could sit alone working out the mysteries to myself, I’d also like to see how this game could go multiplayer. The original board game managed it, and I’m sure this game could somehow benefit from it – not if it’s a beat-the-opponent-to-the-answer-first game. The best part about this game is spending the time to just sit back and enjoy the time spent thinking who murdered Mr.Black. This app was £1.19 when I bought it earlier in the week, and I’m still happy I paid that much. RW.
Prince of Persia Retro / 59p
In Persia, Princes are not the type to sit around all day and ponce off of their dads. No, they go out into the wide world and save damsels in distress and fight big bad evil dudes. That is exactly what happens in Prince of Persia. This is the remake of the original title, which found its way on to consoles two years ago as a downloadable game, before making its way onto the iPod and iPhone platforms.
So what is it all about? the story is really quite simple and straight forward and one we have seen many times before. But for those who have never played the original POP games or played Sands of Time for that matter (as the stories are really quite similar), is that an evil vizier has kidnapped the sultan’s daughter and you have to rescue her from his evil clutches, oh and save the kingdom in the meantime. So as I said – nice and straightforward.
This release has been given new blood with the release of The Forgotten Sands on most main consoles, including a price reduction to
just 59p. But the real question is how the game translates onto the touch screen capable platforms. The answer is a game of two halves, really.
On the one hand we have a game that’s graphics look great even for a game that’s getting on for almost 20 years old. It has been given a new HD make over and looks so much the better for it. While, it is still a 2D sprite running flatly across the screen it has some of the sharpest textures I’ve seen on an ‘i’ platform revamp. Moreover, the same gameplay is there and is actually better suited to that of the portable ‘i’ platforms instead of the overly stuff stay-at-home consoles, or at least in this new form.
This said there is still problems with it, the first being the control system that has been crowbarred into the game, on the bottom of the screen you are presented with a set of directional buttons, all the normal suspects are there: Left, Right, Up and Down. Now that seems quite normal, but on a touch activated device it just doesn’t sit well. For one, a sixth of your screen is covered up by these buttons, which doesn’t sound like much but when you consider the actual screen size that you have to start with it is more than you think. Secondly, using directional cursors on a touch screen just doesn’t work, due to their placement you don’t have enough access to move around the keys with sufficient time to pull off forward leaps or to duck under a trap. This could have been solved with a change in the code for something like placement detection so the game can see if you’re on an edge of a chasm or standing next to a wall.
In a nutshell we have a pretty great old school game that still holds up well in terms of gameplay and style. But the question is where is it better to play it? If I’m honest, I would have to go for the console version over this one. Sure, it’s more expensive but the bigger thing here is actually how it plays. For me, the controls on the ‘i’ platforms are just too fiddly to get a good handle on the game and as it does require some quick hand-man-ship at points the controls need to be your friend not your enemy. While the game looks and would have been suited better on the portable system, it’s the god terrible control scheme that kills the experience completely. AH.
*Prices correct as of 13th June 2010.