Week in Mobile: Lumber Jacked, Dungeon Hunter 4, and Mr. Crab
Every Saturday here on GameZone, we’ll feature a handful of new titles released for iOS/Android and update you on the biggest news we covered that week.
This week was a slow one for mobile games, but we did discover the finer pleasures of being a lumberjack. We also fought demons and saved some baby crabs.
Get ready to punch a lot of beavers.
Lumber Jacked (99 cents, no in-app purchases) from Everplay Interactive puts a humble lumberjack on a quest to steal back his stash of wood from a gang of nefarious beavers. Of course, you’re not reclaiming property as much as you’re pummeling beavers and jumping around a forested wilderness like the mountain man version of Super Meat Boy.
The platforming in this game is nowhere near as intense as Edmund McMillen’s relentlessly difficult indie title, but it still causes that sweaty-palms nervousness that accompanies the close calls and perfect landings that characterize the genre.
While the goal for every one of the 60 levels (more to come) involves reaching the head beaver at the end (and only collecting items along the way if you choose), Lumber Jacked is a suicidally dangerous experiment in acrobatics. Normally, jumping anywhere in a platformer is a gamble — a test of skill in which knowing when and how to leap is just as crucial as making sure you touch down on solid earth. Those decisions are often impulsive and made on the verge of panic.
Everplay keeps the anxiety but adds the flexibility of the Matrix. This super-powered lumberjack can slide down walls, hop between walls, catapult off the same wall, even perform double-flips while falling. He’s a master, and that kind of physicality enables players to improvise — and succeed against the odds — as they race daredevil-style through a level.
The beauty is that the pinch-tight controls never make the experience feel any safer.
Quick-turning from left to right causes some uncomfortable and slightly disorienting snapback, but you notice this less as you play. What Lumber Jacked lacks is personality — the kind of bold, endearing style that makes the world worth bouncing around in. The insane gymnastics are fun, but the game runs low on substance.
Dungeon Hunter 4
Gameloft’s fourth Dungeon Hunter action-roleplaying game is greedy.
Really, really greedy.
I’m not talking about the player’s insatiable search for loot and gold, which is even harder to quell in this title. Rather, Dungeon Hunter 4 (iOS and Android) makes you pay — and wait — for nearly everything a normal action-RPG would grant quickly and for free. You pay to refill potions, upgrade items instantly, remove and combine charms, and so on.
After all, the genre is about charging ahead. Not even a story can slow it down.
The game itself is free, and even with the ridiculous IAPs (or, as an alternative, the constant managing of a pea-sized inventory and the oppression of overzealous tax-collectors), Dungeon Hunter 4 deserves a download. Beyond the typical epic-fantasy plotline of demons and heroes and the foot-soldiers along the way — and past still the lazy dialogue that doesn’t account for a female player-character — is a game with lush, colorful graphics (and a gorgeous world map), a clean and customizable interface, friendly tutorials, and gameplay that’s as addictive as any Diablo or Torchlight before it.
This is Diablo lite, but it doesn’t feel like it.
Dungeon Hunter 4 suffers a little lag, but it handles itself fairly well considering how many enemies and characters constantly pop onto the screen in the 25-scene campaign. While the game keeps players on a short leash, it’s loose enough that the experience is still immersive and enjoyable. This release merges the series’ single-player history with its more recent venture into multiplayer arenas. While most of the adventure is a solo affair, you can team up with friends and tackle harder areas together or face off in player-versus-player mode.
If you want to avoid the lure of IAP, though, this quest might take you longer than others. At least the spin-the-wheel gambling feature can increase your spoils.
Crabs look good in sombreros.
The game takes an autorunner and smashes it down into a tower-shaped challenge, where players can explore multiple paths and switch directions by bumping into barriers. Running into enemies like penguins, walruses, or pufferfish (instead of bouncing on their heads) drops you down a level, and the gaps between ledges might mean you’ll plummet even further, losing any crabs you’ve saved along the way. Players must recollect them — along with any score-boosting items like coins or fruit — and continue to the top to earn the most possible stars for the level.
Mr. Crab consists of 44 levels, 8 of which are boss fights, where a giant version of a regular foe stomps around the stage and can be taken out with several good pounds to the noggin. Defeat it, and the heroic crab will wear its hat as a reward.
As frustrating as the gameplay can be — finding the best route forward, gathering and keeping all the crabs, successfully making jumps and toppling enemies, springing off trampoline-like objects the right way — you do start to establish a rhythm. But mastering each level is still tough.
Overall, the design is a clever twist on the standard runner that requires patience and a good amount of skill.
These games were reviewed on an iPad Mini.
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