Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Broken Record

The iPhone. I realise I don’t shut the fuck up about the damn thing and I’m aware how dull/dry my recent blog post about Dead Space was, but I can’t stop spending my disposable cash in dribs and drabs picking up new apps on the app store. These mini pieces of compelling gameplay are generally short lived but they’re bloody fun while they last.

Recently Nintendo President Satoru Iwata had a bit of a moan about how games are being devalued by mobile and social gaming… and to some extent he’s right, but it’s not entirely a bad thing. Nintendo probably can’t put out smaller, simpler games like Angry Birds for £29.99 on their handheld platforms, and nor should they – it’s a bit of a rip off. Instead they’re going to have to focus on larger budget, content heavy titles that provide the value that kinda price tag demands. With EA, Epic and id Software (to name a few) putting out higher budget apps still for a lower price than anything on Nintendo handhelds it’s no wonder Nintendo are a little bit miffed.

Here’s a couple of example games I may have bought for £29.99 on the Nintendo DS in the past, but have instead picked them up on iPhone for the price of a packet of Pickled Onion Monster Munch, a Chomp, and a can of Coke Zero…

Game Dev Story has done the rounds on various blogs and podcasts with many being critical of it's accuracy (shut up, you little children). It's a light hearted simulation of the games industry with gameplay in the sane vein as Theme Park (that's a good thing). The presentation is top notch, with cute character sprites and amusing animations. Unfortunately the music is annoying and repetitive but easy to redeem with a podcast of your choice (may I suggest Game Wank, sir?). The controls have been shoe horned onto the iPhone from a (presumably) 4:3 platform with buttons, but its still relatively easy to navigate through the various menus and the control method suits the somewhat passive experience. Gameplay consists of matching genres and themes for a desired game and deciding how to put it out; to push technology, high budget blockbuster, or quick and cheap. Then it’s a matter of naming your game (one of the more fun elements) and seeing how it sells when it hits the public domain.

As fun as the game begins, it's over all too fast. Progress is limited, and like most sim games of this ilk, a player’s success is their own worst enemy - once a player becomes a success it's simply a process of clicking next and submitting to the sequel grind, you'll find as soon as you start developing a console and hired Cokie Bottleson (if you can afford her), you've seen it all.

I have to praise the quick and easy saving system. Autosaves are a welcome addition for when people call and interrupt the game (iPhone gamers shouldn't be punished for being popular).

A brief but intense addiction. Pick it up if you want a whirlwind romance.

Next up another sim, Civilization Revolution. I was lucky enough to pick this up for free, though I wouldn't have felt too bad paying for it. Much like Game Dev Story the gameplay is fast and progress is swift. There are multiple completion goals available that roll around quick enough to avoid a grind or the infinite success loops experienced in Sim City or the aforementioned Game Dev Story.

It’s the same format as the previous Sid Meier games – a turn based strategy game, where you build a massive empire and wipe out everyone else like some kinda xenophobic bastard (at least that’s how I play)…

The visuals are rather crude and the sounds are really irritating - again, why not listen to some Game Wank?

It’s a scaled back port, but you should still pick it up if you enjoy it’s PC forefathers or perhaps see it cheap on the app store.

Next up something a bit more reaction heavy, Canabalt. Simply tap the screen to make the constantly running man jump over obstacles, through windows and over gaps in a city under attack by giant robots. The pixelated character is well animated and the highly detailed pixel art backdrops look amazing. It's backed by an awesome soundtrack by Danny B (download some of his tracks here and here).

It's worth picking up if you want a simple pretty game to burn away some time...

Available for free on PC and at a small price for iPhone.

Fruit Ninja is another game with very basic input. Simply swipe your chubby digits across the various pieces of fruit that are being tossed across the screen - just avoid the bombs (if you hit one of these it's Game Over). It's simple but very rewarding and the developers have been supporting the title with new game modes as part of various free updates.

Pick this up, it's great value for money. It’s most definitely my favourite toilet game.

If anyone wants to give it a go, my Game Center name is SeanNoonan. Add me.

...and I’ve got a feeling I’m about to start another whirlwind romance, Kairosoft, the makers of Game Dev Story have recently put out Hot Springs Story…

Oh dear.