Week in Mobile: Pixel People, PinWar, and a toast to Little Inferno
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.
Last time, Temple Run 2 overtook the App Store and arrived on Google Play, and its downloads are climbing rapidly. The Wii U/PC indie game Little Inferno landed on iPad this week along with a classic board game and an old adventure gamebook.
We also cloned pixel citizens, waged war on a pinball table, and saved the world from meteoric destruction.
Pixel People from publisher Chillingo (Cut the Rope) and developer LambdaMu Games (Shady Puzzles) is an addictive city-building game where you make residential accommodations for arriving citizens and watch them colonize a new world and drive its economy. Performing genetic splicing based on their job classes and occupations creates different types of workers. So the more you splice, the more combinations that become available for future matchmaking efforts. Test tubes filled with pink liquid designate an undiscovered possibility. Just tap the icon to start the process.
It’s a very active game. Barely a second goes by where you’re not clicking something: collecting coins or Utopium (the energy source that speeds up construction and other tasks), welcoming clones to your planet, assigning them to workplaces, and even pressing and holding your finger on cute digital hearts to fill a meter that awards you “surprises” when it maxes out. Here, each space helps you in some way. Money actually grows on trees, and a successful splice might unlock a new building, which you can place for free. Certain structures enable you to add new types of residences, décor, roads, or trees, for example, which boosts progress by providing specific benefits.
Splicing itself is fun, and every person has a name and a fun phrase that complements their profession. You can zoom in on your city and see them walking around, enjoying life, and even paint their houses. The employees at the Town Hall might research new information in the form of helpful game hints. Certain chimes ding when a new event has happened (maybe a heart popped up or clones are waiting for housing). I’m not 100 percent sure what every icon (like the lightning bolts) represents, but it doesn’t matter. I could barely tear myself away to write this review. Pixel People keeps you busy.
Expanding the size of available land is costly but necessary although you can continue to develop as long as you don’t exceed your current limit. Thankfully, completing activities such as construction never takes overly long, and Utopium can be regained naturally.
Pixel People features 150 genetic matches, including animals. Best of all, it’s free for iPhone and iPad (requires iOS 4.3 or later).
PinWar ($1.99, universal app) doesn’t release until February 7, but you’ll want to keep this one on your radar. From developer Prank Entertainment (Ant Raid) and publisher BulkyPix (Undead Soccer) comes a two-player, super-charged pinball game that tests your thumb flippin’ skills.
It features three modes: Quick Battle, which lets you jump into a one or two-player game (again a computer or a friend, respectively); Battle, a series of 20 increasingly difficult tables; and Missions, where the goal is to break through a wall or hit energy spheres to charge a “nuclear meter.” (The ball got stuck for me the first time, but you can shake the device to bump it loose.) These can be fun challenges to play alone or with a friend, and they end in Overdrives, where you can bounce the ball around the screen to scoop up as many bolts as possible in the time limit.
The battles are where the real action is. Your thumbs control the left and right paddles, only each table varies in how they’re arranged. You might have to control two left and one right paddle that are positioned in different places on the screen. Both you and your opponent hit the balls as they slingshot around, and gravity carries them to one side or the other when they lose momentum.
Succeed, and you’ll earn experience and lightning bolts that can unlock new tables. Leveling up automatically awards you 100 bolts. Failing a match still results in experience, but it pays only one bolt as opposed to the full victory reward. Those spoils depends on a number of customizable factors: whether you’re facing a friend or the A.I., how much health each side has, how many balls are active at once, and the frequency of power-ups (good and bad). Players can even design their own tables.
Competitive play works surprisingly well, with each person holding either the top or bottom of the device and steadying it so it remains flat.
Meteor Storm Escape
It’s unfortunate that Meteor Storm Escape’s functionality is so broken considering how likeable the game is. Happy Little Aliens (Indigo Bunny) released the endless-escape game this month “for free,” but it’s hardly the full package.
The objective is to maintain a balance of boost, fuel, and shield energy as you avoid crashing meteors and execute stunts in the air (land safely for an extra push forward). It’s a little tough to control at first, and the meteors smack down in rather inconvenient places (right in front or on top of much-needed power-ups). Once you get going, though, it’s a blast.
It’s a universal app, too, so you can play it on iPod, iPhone, or iPad as long as you’re running iOS 6.0 or the most recent update, 6.1, which might be a bit demanding for some. And the music by Bristol, U.K.-based DJ Actraiser puts you in the perfect mood to pilot the aircraft and save the endangered city.
It’s quite a ruse, though. With only one mode and severely limited gameplay options, it’s easy to become frustrated with Happy Little Aliens’ allegedly “inoffensive” in-app store. Only one vehicle is available (the Republik) out of the three listed, with a promise of more coming soon. Each costs 99 cents, $1.99 for all, or $2.99 for everything.
Players have access to only one mission, too, before the game asks them to “like” on Facebook or follow on Twitter to unlock two more, Retro Urban Night and Retro Pyramids. But Anemdi Boreas, Dune Sea, and Mega Tropolis are held behind a price gate.
It’s very little content dressed as a free game, but the developer might have earned more appreciation from players through transparency: two separate versions rather than a single one where even removing the adverts costs money.
These games were reviewed on an iPad Mini.
Temple Run 2 passed 50 million downloads in only 13 days, shattering the record that Angry Birds Space set not too long ago with 50 million downloads in 35 days. That’s quite the accomplishment.
Razer showed off a new portable PC-gaming tablet called the Edge at the Consumer Electronics Show. It resembles a “mega-sized Wii U” and has some mean technology powering it. Check out our hands-on preview.
Remember the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks? Tin Man Games has digitalized Steve Jackson’s House of Hell for iOS and Android with some handy modern features.
Alien vs. Predator: Evolution is coming soon to iOS and Android devices. Consider it “a mobile hack-and-slash experience that’s full of pure nostalgia, delightful gore, and pretty graphics.”
Tomorrow Corporation’s Little Inferno launched on iPad this week, moving from Wii U and PC to mobile. The game largely remains the same, with no in-app purchases.
The board game Stratego is now on the web and iOS. There’s quite a divide in price, though. It’s free on Facebook but costs $6.99 for iPad although players can take advantage of cross-platform play. Take a look at our review.
Last week, Ouya announced it had updated its console controller according to developer feedback. Now PlayJam has done the same with the GameStick, changing the design of its controller based on community response.
Apple unveiled iOS 6.1 this week, which expands LTE capabilities for iPhones and iPads and provides “ultrafast wireless performance.” This is a free software update and the first major one since September 2012.
Apple also announced 128GB fourth-generation iPad with 9.7-inch Retina display. It hits stores on February 5. Pricing starts at $799.
Editor-in-chief Mike Splechta asks, “Are we becoming the pay-to-win generation?” Read on in his feature about how the state of apps are changing.