Week in Mobile: Fish Out of Water, Cut the Rope: Time Travel, and Trial of the Clone
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 we swam with dolphins and whales, fed green insatiable monsters, and made some really terrible puns (some of them don’t even make sense).
Fish Out of Water
Riding on the success of Vlambeer’s popular Ridiculous Fishing app comes Fish Out of Water (99 cents for iOS) from Halfbrick Studios (Jetpack Joyride, Fruit Ninja), a game that teaches players about marine life while you chuck it long distances for score.
Under the tutelage of a happy crab, players throw six ocean-dwelling fish and mammals — from small creatures like a pufferfish to big ones, such a dolphin and a whale — across the water. Each responds differently due to weight and aquatic behavior, so learning how to best launch them is the key to getting the most distance and number of “skips” on the water. It’s like tossing a stone on a pond, only these are alive.
The dolphin, for example, moves by diving in and out of the water. Others merely bounce, so you’ll need to learn to experiment with the height, force, and angle of your pitch to see what works best. The fish can collect “boosties,” or small globs of orange matter, as they pass by, and you can use these to pump a little extra mileage out of the throw.
Gameplay is quick and made for short sessions: after three throws of three animals, a panel of crab judges — each of whom values certain performance qualities over others — will rate you for a combined score. And winning them over isn’t easy, but you do get better with experience.
Players can join leagues and see how they rank next to others on a leaderboard, but that’s as deep as this social feature goes. Checking in at various points in the day alters the challenge somewhat because of changing weather conditions, which makes returning to the game fun. Achieving goals and leveling up grants access to sunken treasure chests that contain special gems, which combine to form special power-ups. These might increase your next overall score or positively influence one of the crab judges. Is that cheating? Nah …
As clean and simply entertaining as Fish Out of Water is, it lacks the variation and depth of play that makes for a strong game. It’s like rolling dice, over and over. Even the cute beach theme can’t remove the monotony entirely.
Cut the Rope: Time Travel
Cut the Rope is one of the most popular series on mobile, and now developer ZeptoLab has launched a brand new game that puts a fun twist on the familiar gameplay. Can you handle feeding two adorable, hungry Om Noms?
Cut the Rope: Time Travel sends the candy-greedy Om Nom through time, where he meets — Ancestors? Long lost relatives? — his fellow critters in eras and settings like the Renaissance and Stone Age. The goal hasn’t changed: break the ropes so the candy drops in the monster’s mouth. Only now you’re satisfying the sweet tooth of two, and ZeptoLab has added plenty of fresh mechanics so you’re never stuck following the same tired formula.
The objects in each level (15 per world, with six worlds and more incoming) change how players interact with the environment. Bubbles float candies upward, sawblades break chains that tie them down, stretchy ropes fling the delicious treats they’re attached to when cut, and more. Om Nom’s telekinesis serves as a bonus skill when you’re struggling; players can basically tap and hold a lightning-like power to guide candies toward their recipients without them dropping off the screen where the Om Noms can’t get them.
ZeptoLabs never slacks off. Each world introduces two or three new elements and focuses on them for several levels, so the challenge constantly reinvents itself but doesn’t overwhelm the player — some of these devices are more difficult to manipulate than others, so limiting their presence is a welcome relief. I wouldn’t call the game hard, but it can be tricky, and the final level in each time period tends to be more intense than the others.
Like before, players will want to collect all the stars in each level to earn the highest score and unlock new episodes. ZeptoLabs has even created a series of short cartoons that players can watch on YouTube. These enhance the experience by bringing even more personality to the different characters, like Pirate Om Nom and Caveman Om Nom. The developer has listed the dates along with a clickable video icon in the stage select, so finding and watching them from your mobile device is easy.
Trial of the Clone
Gamebooks are for nerds. But we live in 2013 now, and nerds are cool. Maybe that’s why Tin Man Games, responsible for bringing adventures like Steve Jackson’s Fighting Fantasy: House of Hell to mobile devices, opted to include an audio narrator who’s already a voice of the modern-day geek community: Wil Wheaton.
Because who wouldn’t want to hear a choose-your-own-adventure read by a geek legend like Wheaton? Of course, you can tap his disembodied cartoon head anytime during play to shut him up. In case you like, you know, reading. The thing you mastered in elementary school.
The five-act Trial of the Clone ($3.99 for iOS and Android) is particularly tongue-in-cheek — a riff on Star Wars with plenty of nerd humor. Better yet, it’s written by the creator of webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Zach Weinersmith.
You play as a clone, and a rather stupid one at that. Of course, the story is supposed to be ridiculous and hilarious, so anything you do well or pathetically bad is all in good fun.
Tin Man Games has added other interactive elements besides the voiced narration, including a bookmark feature that lets you cheat by reloading the game wherever you left off and an adventure sheet that tallies stats like current and max health, wit, charisma, and fighting strength. You might also pick up items, weapons, or gain special skills and aspects.
Trial of the Clone also contains background music, color illustrations that you can find and view in a gallery, and achievements accompanied by the text, “You actually did something.” It’s all part of the game’s you’re-a-loser-who’s-secretly-great charm.
While it lacks the depth of a full-on role-playing game, the combat elements and occasional minigames do accentuate player involvement. Different types of “battles” come down to the same input: spinning a number wheel. Items like medipacks or grenades, for example, can alter play, but as always with choose-your-own-adventures, new variables are small cogs in a greater design.
If you enjoyed these types of books from childhood, then you should definitely experience them in mobile-app form at least once. It’s a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.
These games were reviewed on an iPad Mini.
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