GGF#70: More iPad games reviewed

Gamer Girl Friday

Last night (technically this morning), I played Vacation Mogul HD from 2 am till 5:30 am. It’s that fun. I’ve almost completed it. Only one island left to play. Boohoo.

All the missions are replayable, though. You can go back and replay them any time till you get gold trophies for all of them, which is what I did. =D

Okay, more mini reviews on iPad games today!

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Highborn HD (US$2.99 Introductory Price)

Highborn HD

I bought this because reviews say that it’s funny. There’s a lot of sarcastic, irreverent, slapstick humour in Highborn (in dialogues and character descriptions) and that’s all I need to convince me to buy a game.

I’ll show you examples in a minute but, first, the gameplay.

Highborn is a mission-based turn-based strategy game where you control a hero and his team of knights, archers and healers, to fight whatever the mission throws at you.

There are no tutorials or instructions, so you’ll be lost for about a minute. But it’s pretty straightforward. You can pick it up quickly with just a bit of initial trial and error.

The main game board is a grid with terrain, buildings and people occupying squares. The people look like human-shaped board game tokens and it’s funny to watch them hop on the squares when you make them move.

Highborn HD

If you choose to attack, the game goes into a close-up animation sequence of two small armies fighting, which is rather cute to watch.

Now, here’s a bit of funny dialogue between Archie (the first hero) and Minotaur (the first boss). They say a lot more than this but I can’t publish the entire dialogue here.

Minotaur:
SNORT! What is going on? You fools let him get one of our towns! Capture it back! I can’t come out and deal with this right now; it’s “Take Your Kids to Work Day” and little Bobbytaur got his nose stuck in the copier.”

(Later… after you manage to kill him…)

Minotaur:
SNORT! No! How could you defeat me? I don’t believe it! You made me look like such a wuss in front of my kids. Jerk!

Archie:
All right, now you tell me who is behind this evil tyranny or I’m gonna call your wife and let her know you brought your kids on to the battlefield.

(End of example.)

Currently, Highborn only has eight missions listed under Chapter One. There’s a note saying that Chapter Two will be coming soon but I don’t know if that will cost extra. Probably.

There’s also a multiplayer option through OpenFeint – The coolest thing since sliced awesome (their words, not mine).

You can have multiple multiplayer games going on at once. Like Words With Friends, I guess. Haven’t tried it because it seems to be bugged. When I tap on OpenFeint, the box that pops up is supposed to let me sign up, but it’s a blank page, instead.

Okay, enough. My mini reviews are getting too long!

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Color Cross HD (US$2.99)

Color Cross HD

If you like picross puzzles, you’ll love this. Color Cross has multiple colours per puzzle, unlike the usual picross’ monotone. It’s like having multiple puzzles on one puzzle. It’s very fun that way.

Picross is short for picture crossword, if you didn’t know. And if you haven’t tried a picross, you should. I think you can find some free ones online just to understand what it’s about. Google it.

I love the puzzles in Color Cross but I hate the user interface. It certainly needs more work. The graphics is ugly (not the puzzle pictures, but everything else), the sound effects are super annoying and I hate that they don’t allow you to turn off mistakes.

(If you tap a square where there isn’t supposed to be a pixel, the game tells you right away and you get time penalised. Some picross games allow you to turn this off to make the game harder plus minimise accidental tapping.)

Also, the game doesn’t mark the categories where you’ve completed all the puzzles. There are tons of categories organised by theme, so it gets impossible to keep track if you like jumping from theme to theme.

Despite all these annoyances, I’d still recommend this Color Cross… until I find a better one.

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Pinball HD (US$0.99 Sale Price – Normal US$2.99)

Pinball HD

The graphics is waaaaay amazing and worth the price of admission. It does take some getting used to playing pinball on the iPad but it’s not a huge mountain to climb.

The game offers a few different views, each of which gives you a different experience.

Portrait modes offers a top-down view while landscape mode offers a cool, diagonal angle (picture above).

Zoom out to see the whole table and play it static. Or zoom in to enjoy glorious graphic details in HD as the camera pans around smoothly, following the ball. (Slide both thumbs up or down the screen to toggle.)

There are three different tables (different themes) but they all seem to follow the same template, roughly, so that’s a bit disappointing because then it doesn’t quite feel like three different pinball mahines even though they look different.

Pinball fans will love it but I’m a fussy pinball player. I need more surprises, bonus features, multi-balls, etc. So, I only like this game rahter than love it. Pinball HD has bonus features but not enough. It’s mostly the amazing graphics that does it for me.

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Tap Tap Radiation (Free)

Tap Tap Radiation

Yay. Finally a free game worthy of my time to download and play.

I was never a Tap Tap fan even though it’s a huge hit on the iPhone. Nanny Wen is always calling me lousy for not having Tap Tap on my phone. I just found it too monotonous.

Now, though, I shall once again demonstrate my nauseating iPad fan-gerism by declaring, “iPad makes everything fun!”

On the iPad, the three tap spots are not static at the bottom of the screen, like on the iPhone. They actually move around, so you have to move with them while tapping your beats.

After a while, you’ll look positively spastic as you twist your fingers all over to follow the moving circles without missing a beat. Try not to play this in front of a girl/boy you’re trying to impress until you’ve mastered looking glamorous while getting a perfect score.

Another challenging feature is that, in some songs, you’re getting like a top-down view instead of the diagonal angle you’re used to on the iPhone. This makes it harder to gauge when to tap, especially on hard and extreme modes.

The best thing about Tap Tap Radiation, though, is that it’s free to download and you get 40 songs free from the start. Requires three other separate downloads once you get the game. I’m not sure if these will be available permanently. The base game comes with six songs.

No iPad should be without Tap Tap Radiation! It’s free, anyway, so.

Of course, later on, you’ll be tempted to buy your favourite songs when they’re made available, but that’s your problem. Current lineup includes Lady Gaga and Pink. Very limited choices. My bank account breathes a sigh of relief.

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Jigsaw Box (US$2.99)

Jigsaw Box

I didn’t buy this. Yet. I downloaded the lite version. I was in the mood to play jigsaw puzzles and there are a whole freaking load of them in App Store, so I spent quite a bit of time looking through all of them before finally deciding on this.

Jigsaw Box has decent pictures and a decent user interface. I love the sound it makes when two pieces snap to each other. There’s a very gentle “tac” sound and joined pieces because inseparable, which helps you move them around to make space for loose pieces.

Jigsaw Box Lite has three categories: Famous Landmarks, Castles and Kids. (There are many more in the paid version.)

Yes! There are kid puzzles so this is great for young families.

The advantage that iPad jigsaw puzzles have over real ones is that you get to cheat. If you don’t like that word, let’s just say that the iPad takes the work out of jigsaw puzzling, leaving you with only the fun part.

You can choose the game to show only edges first, so you don’t need to pick them out yourself. Join up all the edges first without being distracted by other peices!

(Another jigsaw game I downloaded – Bright Puzzles – allows you to show only pieces from a specific quadrant, which is a bit more cheating. But it’s up to you. You can choose to be a hero and sort through an entire mountain of pieces yourself. But I don’t quite like it cos it makes an annoying sound when you fit pieces together.)

The free version of Jigsaw Box comes with 16 puzzles while the paid version has more than 100. Wow.

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Arrow Words (Free)

Arrow Words

For crossword puzzle fans. I’m not a huge fan but I like to do them occasionally. I downloaded this because it’s free and because it’s an interesting version of crossword puzzles.

I kinda like it. Since the clues are on the board itself, you don’t have to keep looking left and right and then try to find numbers that correspond to the clues you want to solve. Nice.

Free version comes with nine puzzles in three difficulty modes. More puzzles can be downloaded for cash. Sneaky people, them!

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Now, I am going to try very hard not to buy anymore iPad games for the rest of the month, so don’t count on more reviews for some time.

lol.

I’ll be travelling from the 17th to 29th of this month anyway, so probably won’t have time to play and review new games during that time.

Well, let’s just see what happens. You never know with the unpredictable Gamer Girl Friday! Cos she doesn’t even know herself.

GGF#68: My first 6 iPad games

Gamer Girl Friday

I almost didn’t want to write this today because I couldn’t stop playing the new games I just bought for my iPad.

They are all amazing. Playing games on the iPad is amazing. I haven’t been so excited about a handheld gaming console since the DS, even though the iPad isn’t, strictly speaking, a gaming console.

But playing games on a 9.7″ full HD screen with multi-touchscreen capabilities is just ace. I’m all the more awed because I never intended to buy the iPad in the first place. When I finally did buy it, it was because I thought I needed an ebook reader to solve the space problem at home.

Well, so far, I have clocked maybe 60-80 hours on my iPad and I haven’t read a single book on it.

I would have clocked more hours on it had it not been frequently kidnapped by people around me (especially the Goonfather and Nanny Wen). Last I hear, they’re both gonna get their own. Good.

Anyway, people have been asking me (in Twitter/Plurk/Facebook) what games I bought, so I’ll provide a more comprehensive answer here.

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Plants vs Zombies HD (US$9.99)

Plants vs Zombies HD

This was the first game I bought. I wanted something fun to break in my iPad. I’ve already completed the PC version but this is the kind of game that you can play over and over for the rest of your life.

Now, if you haven’t played PvZ on the iPad, you haven’t experienced anything. I urge you to put this on your list of 10 (or 100) things to do before you die. (10 if you’re a gamer, 100 if you’re not.)

The main highlights are the amazing colours on the HD screen and the 11 touch points. (I don’t know who uses all 11 points at once, though. Anyone got a spare finger to lend me?)

But just think about it. You know how you go crazy juggling the need to plant more ammo with the need to collect much-needed suns (or coins) before they disappear? On the iPad, you can collect 10 suns at once with just one touch, leaving plenty of time left to plant a cob cannon to obliterate that annoying gargantuan.

My friends who borrow my iPad to play PvZ tend to use just one finger to play, as if playing on the PC. THIS IS WRONG, GUYS, THIS IS A MORTAL SIN.

If you’re playing PvZ on the iPad, you MUST train yourself to activate all your fingers for the ultimate gameplay experience.

Enough said.

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The Jim and Frank Mysteries – The Blood River Files HD (US$4.99)

The Blood River Files HD

This game is totally like Professor Layton on the DS, although it’s a smaller game, entirely linear, with fewer puzzles. I completed the game within 3-4 hours. But still fun. In fact, I enjoyed this a lot more than I did Professor Layton.

The gameplay is the same. There’s a storyline with small mysteries within a big mystery, which provides the frame for the game. As you go about unfolding the storyline, little puzzles pop out for you to solve before you can advance.

The puzzles are very similar to the Professor Layton ones, although I came across quite a number of unique ones. They’re also easier on the whole, although there were some rather tricky ones.

But I just love puzzles, and I like them not too hard so I can progress faster and play more games. I get bored if I get stuck at the same puzzle for, like, 20 minutes. (Not counting tough sudoku or crossword puzzles. Those are whole games by themselves.)

Anyway, this game makes pleasant use of the iPad’s touchscreen and the hand-drawn graphics are beautiful, so I had a really enjoyable time despite the main storyline being a bit juvenile.

Just enjoy the single puzzles. Don’t place too much hope on the main plot.

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Puzzler World US XL (US$4.99)

Puzzler World US XL

You can tell by now that I really love puzzles. I was playing this till 4:30 am last night. I had to make myself stop.

There are, like, 600 puzzles in this game. After a few hours of playing, I’m only at 5.9% of the Challenge Mode. In this mode, you need to successfully solve 240 + 240 assorted puzzles. (The +240 are mini puzzles. Each main puzzle is paired with a mini one.)

The puzzles get increasingly difficult. I’m now only at #33, so it’s rather easy, but still enough of a challenge to be fun. I don’t know what the later ones will be like!

You can also choose the Quickplay Mode to just play your favourite puzzles. (There are two types of puzzles I don’t enjoy in the Challenge Mode but I still have to play through them just to conquer the challenge, duh.)

List of puzzle types
Wordsearch (never really like this, but the iPad makes it quite pleasant)
Sudoku (fun, but the beginning ones are too easy)
Crossword (luckily, there’s a hint system using points)
Spot The Difference (nice break between tough puzzles)
Link-A-Pix (unique and very fun!)
Fitword (boring)
Codeword (tough, not so fun)
Silhouette (suitable for little kids, but also fun for adults)

Mini puzzles
Hangman (nice)
Picture Quiz (trains memory, ack)
Missing Piece (a bit tough and blah)
Jigsaw (fun)
Equate (simple math equations for now, dunno about later)
Chain Letters (not bad)

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Master of Alchemy HD ($2.99)

Master of Alchemy HD

This reminds me of The Incredible Machine series I played a long time ago. It’s something like that, except you’re an alchemist and you’re working with elements, gases, liquids and solids, transforming them. You’re supposed to manage the flow of precious elements, collecting them and preventing wastage by using the tools provided at each stage.

I’ve only played about 10 minutes’ worth so far. It’s challenging from the start and I can see it getting harder and harder. I wouldn’t say it’s incredibly fun, but I enjoy the brainwork the game exacts.

The graphics, music and philosophical quotes make the experience quite immersive. You feel like a real alchemist!

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Supermarket Mania HD (US$4.99)

Supermarket Mania HD

I caved in and bought this time management game even though time management games have a tendency to drive me crazy. It’s because the product screenshots has a page showing comics and I got curious.

The comics tell the story between missions. You’re a young girl starting work at a supermarket and your boss is supposedly competing against some robotic conglomerate that’s taking over the world by replacing human workers with robots.

But the main game is just like any other time management game. You stock shelves as fast as possible.

The frame of the game is appealing. I mean, I like the comics and the storyline. But the gameplay might need some work. Gets a bit repetitive after a while.

I played another time management game called Are You Alright? on the iPhone where you manage a hospital and patients, and that one seems a bit more fun, although it’s just as irritating.

But 9.7″ HD still beats everything.

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Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials (US$9.99)

Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials

I love this!!! I’ve only played 10 minutes of it and already I think it’s worth every bit of my S$15!

It’s like an adventure game combined with a hidden objects game. I love both genres so this is like, epic.

Mind-blowing, stunning graphics, good music, great special effects, intriguing storyline, fun touchscreen gameplay, etc, etc, etc.

I love how you never know what to expect next as the game unfolds. You could be asked to find 10 hidden objects, or you might need to pick up objects and combine them and use them to interact with other objects in the scene.

Or you might get to talk to ghosts.

Well, okay, since I’ve only played 10 minutes of it, I can’t for sure say the whole thing is going to be great, but it’s got good reviews all over the place so I know it won’t disappoint me!

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Um… that’s all the games for now.

I’m tempted to buy more (shopping in App Store has never been more fun) but I think I should finish up my current ones first. I have so many ongoing games at the moment I can’t decide what to play at any time!

I actually bought all these games without reading full reviews. I just saw the product descriptions, screenshots and user comments in the app store. I guess I just couldn’t resist the beautiful graphics. They really make a difference in gameplay.

Plus I feel that the prices are very affordable. Seriously, I spend a lot more money an evening at the arcade centre and I don’t think that’s as fun as cuddling the iPad. Haha.

Okay, enough talking about the iPad. I need to get back to my gaming. =P

Let me end with some photos I wanted to share last week but couldn’t because I was in China.

From the Rappelz launch party!

My three winners and one guest enjoyed a private gaming room with refreshments. Well, only two winners turned up because the third one couldn’t make it last minute, so I made Nanny Wen come, instead. Yes, it was very last minute so she came 1.5 hours late. Unker Kell was my guest!

Rappelz launch party

Rappelz launch party

Rappelz launch party

Nanny Wen was playing Rappelz and she got a crab for a pet in her newbie gift pack. She named the crab after me. So mean!

Screenshot

So I took a photo of her eating in retaliation. Heheh!

Wen eating

I was guest-of-honour at the event. They made me play the PvP deathmatch against all other veteran players. T_T

But I think everyone had fun. There was quite a big crowd and I got to help draw the winners for the lucky draw at the end of the event.

Rappelz launch party

One of the winners:

Rappelz launch party

Great event! Thanks, Eaglegame, for organising it!