Archive for the ‘ Games ’ Category

Squibble Lite – The Trouble With Squibbles*

Squibble Lite

When it comes to gaming on Android handsets, ‘Angry Birds’ is the big behemoth that nothing can touch right now however over in the world of iOS the folks there are currently enjoying the new challenger ‘Cut The Rope’ and I’m eagerly awaiting the Android port. Currently there’s no information on a release date but if you need something similar while you wait then Squibble Lite could be what you’re looking for.
In ‘Squibble Lite’ you play the role of Squibble, a small octopus that’s been captured by a crazy/bored/perverted scientist and your goal is to help him escape from the castle in which he is kept. Squibble moves about by using his tentacles to latch onto the surroundings and flinging himself around the environment. There are collectible items that add to replay value and obstacles to avoid that will damage your health meter. The main gameplay hook is how you use Squibble’s method of travel, you have two sticky tentacles to play with and you simply tap a piece of the environment to make Squibble shoot out a tentacle and grab it. Tapping another area will make squibble grab it with his second tentacle, from here you can make him swing ‘Spiderman’ style around the map or pull back and catapult him through the air. Don’t worry if you can’t get your head around it on paper, there’s an excellent tutorial that walks you through it all.
This is a very polished game, the graphics are perfectly realised and the levels scroll smoothly as Squibble swings and flies about the place. The makers have also thought to include a useful profiles section which allows up to three different people to save their progress in the game.
The lite version is limited to 6 levels which is plenty to give you an idea of whether you want to pay up for the full game which includes 20 levels (with more being added regularly) and costs roughly £1.80 which to some people may seem a little on the pricey side. In a marketplace full of Fruit Ninja rip-offs and poorly made games it’s nice to see something with some quality and charm come along to keep us entertained.

* – That’s the worst headline pun yet, hands down.

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Squibble Lite is a great little free game that entertains as much as it challenges. Worth downloading.


ROM Gripper – It’s Got A Kung-Fu Rom Grip

ROM Gripper

Before today’s review of ROM Gripper, an app that downloads retro game Roms here’s a legal notice... of sorts

“ROMS in themselves aren’t illegal per se, however the manufacturers take a dim legal view on those who ‘steal’ content that they have created. In practises such as emulation and Roms it is advised to only download games which you already legally own (and I know you’re going to do just that aren’t you?). That way no-one (technically) gets hurt although to be honest this is still something of a legal murky patch and I’m not here to condone piracy or anything like that… and anyway, piracy on the Internet? Are you mad? Who commits that?”

Hells yeah! PGA Tour Golf for the Megadrive, still rocks the mic after all these years (and yes, I still actually own my copy)

ROM Gripper is an app that allows you to play those classic video games from your youth on your Android handset. If you want to re-live a classic title from either the Nes, Snes, Atari, Gameboy Advanced/Colour, Megadrive (or Genesis for you non-U.K. people), Sega Master System or Gamegear, ROM Gripper will help you grab a game from one of those consoles and if you need one, an emulator app to play it on.
ROM Gripper isn’t going to be winning any awards in terms of looks but then again it doesn’t really need to, all you’ll want to do is grab your games and play. Opening the app gives you a list of gaming platforms to choose from and from there you have a list of games available for each console, you can scroll through the list or use the ‘filter’ function tucked away in the menu and watch it return results as you type.

Two shots over par and 3ft from the hole, I can't miss this shot. (Just after I took this screenshot I missed the hole).

Once you’ve clicked on your game of choice you’re taken to the download screen and you can watch it beam across the airwaves and into your handset. Using the app is simplicity in itself and the wealth of titles available (which you already legally own, of course) is staggering, it’s apps like this that remind me why I love the open nature of the Android platform. It’s worth noting that the emulators downloaded by Rom Gripper are the free versions, they work perfectly fine but you won’t be able to load any saved game states unless you pony up for the full emulator apps.
So er, yeah… that’s it really. Please forgive the lack of journalistic insight, there’s not much to review in Rom Gripper, it simply does the job it’s meant to do. If anything I just wanted to flag it up to you in a “Hey you! Look at this, it’s bloody brilliant” kind of way.
Tip : Controlling games on a touch screen can be a bit tricky at times so if you have the means it may be worth giving the Wiimote Controller app a try (although I couldn’t get it to work).

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Easy access retro gaming nirvana at your fingertips. Rom Gripper is ace but remember kids,… keep it legal.

Slice It! – Slashy Slashy!

Slice It!

Originally on the iOS platform, ‘Slice It’ is a game in which you slice large shapes into a number of equally sized smaller parts within a certain limit of ‘slices’, it doesn’t sound like much but in actual fact it’s a brilliant idea that’s ideal for touchscreen phones. Without a doubt, ‘Slice It’ is by far the best looking game I have played on an Android handset but bizarrely it’s also a game where the more I play it the more I find myself hating it. For everything it does perfectly it also does something else that makes me want to uninstall it as quickly as I possibly can.
The first thing that strikes you about ‘Slice It’ is the presentation and style of the game, it really pushes the ‘pencils and paper’ theme to the fore putting it very much in the same realm as a high quality Nintendo DS game and on the AMOLED screen of the HTC Desire these graphics are very striking indeed. The game itself is great, it eases you in to proceedings nicely and before you know you’re stuck in that ‘just one more level’ mindset however it’s not long before the problems become apparent.

Yeah, let's get slicing mo-fo's!

First up is the number of levels, the game ships with 60 levels which for a free app of this quality is brilliant. The app then also teases at an extra 40 levels and says they’ll be released sooner if more 5 star reviews of the game are posted on the Marketplace. Is it me or is that just a little bit, y’know… wrong? I’d rather pay to have extra levels for I game I truly enjoyed rather than be bribed into writing a 5 star review against my will in order to get them. If anything it seems to undermine any confidence the makers have in the game, are they so desperate for good reviews they need to hold their customers to ransom?
The annoyances don’t stop there. One of the worst things happens whenever you fail a level, you’re treated to a pop-up link that CONSUMES ALMOST THE ENTIRE SCREEN. Sure it’s not a big deal to press the skip button but in the app itself there is a consistent ad-link at the bottom of the screen at all times, throwing such a huge pop up into the game as well (especially during a moment of fail) is just taking the piss.
Sadly failing comes all too often in the later levels but it’s not down to the difficulty of the game, it’s more to do with how fiddly it can be to accurately draw slices in exactly the right places.

...and here's the game in action. Oh no wait... it's a hugely annoying pop up.

Just a few pixels out and you can end up making miniscule slices which will make you fail a level. There is an undo button you can use after making a such a slice but once you fail a level you cannot undo your last step, you have to start again from scratch, once you’ve skipped past the annoying pop-up that is; it’s enough to drive you to write a grumpy review on an Android based blog.
I’m really torn on this app, when it works it’s an addictive game and it’s far more polished than the previous gaming titles we’ve reviewed. Yet it seems to exist purely to groom you into writing 5 star reviews for the creators and buying the other full price apps they have made. Fair enough it’s a free app and the people involved need to get paid but there are better ways to go about it and the methods employed here do nothing but leave a sour taste in my mouth.

Links : Download from Getjar

Bottom Line : A brilliant game that looks gorgeous but is ruined (for me) by it’s fiddlier gameplay and annoying pop ups.

Crazy Bird – I Got 99 Problems But A Crazy Bird Ain’t One

Crazy Bird

Phew! After all that stressful Rooting & Flashing from last weekend I needed an app to help me unwind and Crazy Bird looked like just the thing I was looking for. Crazy Bird is one of the many apps currently riding on the coattails of the success that is Angry Birds. It’s description on AppBrain pulls no punches with regards to subtlety, “Can you help the angry birds find his destiny?” it asks, talk about standing on the shoulders of giants. You play the role of the ‘Crazy Bird’ (who let’s be honest isn’t really the slightest bit crazy) and your task is to jump from one disc to another making them disappear as you go whilst making your way to the final target disc. Each screen has to be totally cleared of discs before you can proceed to the next level so you’ll need to plan ahead in order to clear all the discs without stranding yourself. Later levels introduce platforms that don’t disappear or only let you move in one direction as well as bombs that explode within a number of steps.  Really this game could have been based around other, more logical themes; a frog jumping on lilypads or a mouse jumping on mousetraps but no it’s a bird jumping on discs that float in the sky, yeah that makes sense.
The game itself plays well enough, I’m sure I’ve seen this style of puzzle game somewhere before but Crazy Bird is still a simple, effective idea to casually dip into to get your brain working. There’s a charming simplicity to the presentation which firmly places the game in the realm of ‘pleasant quick distraction’ rather than ‘super-massive time vortex’. There’s still the odd rough edge, the in-game transistion from day to night is a straight switch from one to the other, a little animation would have added a little polish but really it’s just a cosmetic complaint. Blatant ‘Angry Birds’ promotional tactics aside, Crazy Bird is a fairly enjoyable free puzzle game which despite being far from a graphical tour-de-force is still enough to divert your attention for a few minutes.

Links : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : A basic looking (which may put off some people) but a pleasant enough free puzzler that throws down a bit of challenge to keep you busy.

Radiant HD / Lite – No school like the old school.

Radiant HD / Lite

Action games can be a tricky proposition on the HTC Desire as getting the touch screen controls wrong can seriously hinder any enjoyment to be had. This has always been a downer for the numerous emulation apps that are on the Marketplace. Being able to play a perfect version of Super MarioKart on my phone is excellent, only being able to control my kart like a drunk, hamfisted badger is less so. As a result when it comes to playing games on a touch screen handset the simpler the controls, the better.

Space Invader backchat hasn't improved much over the years.

Hexage Ltd seem to have grasped this concept whilst creating the deliciously retro styled shooter ‘Radiant HD’, a vertical scrolling shooter that riffs off the arcade shooters of the golden age. The only controls you have to worry about are left and right with the odd occasion of tapping your ship to change weapons. Radiant HD is a game that initially looks very simple and it positively drowns itself in it’s retro stylings but that doesn’t stop Hexage from adding lovely little graphical touches to elevate the graphics above your initial expectations. Every in game character emits a warm fuzzy glow and the movements of the aliens are perfectly animated in a way that goes beyond the retro look to create a strange old skool/new skool kind of vibe.

Shooty Blasty Fun Fun Times

The game itself is also slightly deeper than it first seems (only slightly, it’s not exactly re-writing the genre here) the simple shoot em up gameplay is bolstered by collectable power ups and a credits system that allows you to upgrade the weapons on your ship. These are essential when the waves of colourful aliens become more complex and the bigger boss aliens enter the fray. The main game comes in three flavours of difficulty, casual, survival and hardcore and there is also an online leaderboard for you to upload your best scores.
Radiant HD (and it’s limited free version ‘Radiant Lite’) won’t set the world alight with it’s originality but it is a slick game that has clearly been made with an infectious amount of care and attention and for a measly 50p (until November 16th) it’s not a bad deal at all.

Links : Install FULL Version via AppBrain, Install FREE version via AppBrain, Hexage Ltd.

Bottom Line : For shoot-em-up fans or anyone looking for an occasional 5 minute colourful diversion this is worth a look. Try the free version (Radiant Lite) or grab the full version while it’s on limited offer at the low price of 50p.

Letter Rip – No Headline Pun Required. Nice.

Letter Rip

Who doesn’t love a bit of classic Countdown? Richard Whiteley, The Vorderman and all that crazy wordplay.  Now you can sharpen your word skills on your Android handset via a free game called ‘Letter Rip’. Nifty pun aside, ‘Letter Rip’ is actually a tidy little app when compared to some of the sloppier free game apps that litter the Android Marketplace. In the game you’re presented with a grid (you can adjust the size) in which letter tiles slowly appear, your job is to move them about and spell out words. As the game progresses new tiles appear at an increasing rate until the grid is full, once this happens you have to spell as many words as you can with the letters available to you. It plays like a mix between Tetris and Scrabble and it’s surprisingly addictive. It’s also interesting to see how creative your wordplay can get under pressure, I lost count of the number of time I spelt the word ‘Jam’ amongst my many other poor 3 letter efforts.

Hmmm, I'll never get on Countdown with wordplay like that.

There’s a number of options available to tailor the game to your needs as well as a local high score leaderboard which is strangely inaccessible from the main menu.
Sometimes the random letter selection doesn’t quite work, in one game I managed to spell ‘Slain’ two times in a row and another time I found myself with nearly a whole playing board filled with letters and only one vowel to work with. There’s no in-game pause function either so once you start a game you either have to see it through to the end or quit.
These annoying niggles aside this is still a funky little five-minute time waster and considering it’s free it’s hard to complain too much. Go check it out.

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : A cool little game to test your wordskills, perfect as a time waster.

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