So do we really need more “dodge ‘em all” type games on the iPhone? One wouldn’t think so, but some of the recent entries seem to indicate otherwise. Then along comes Pastel Games who, in their own unique style, creates a game in this genre that’s really almost a must have. There’s nothing truly different about it, per se, but it takes some aspects of different interpretations of the genre and melds them together in a way that’s fun and addictive to play.
To start out the game you get to pick from one of four characters, assuming you’ve unlocked them. You get one choice to begin with, and so far I haven’t figured out how to unlock any of the others, though I suspect it has to do with earning a certain number of points. At any rate, once you’ve selected your character the mayhem begins. Your objective is to dodge the creatures and collect the berries that keep popping up. Creatures come in three varieties. The basic critter just moves around and will hit you if you’re actually careless enough to run into it. The aggressive critter will actually run after you if you get to close, but it will calm down when you put enough space between yourself and it. The final creature pops in, drops a bomb on the playing field, and pops back out. The bombs last for a couple of seconds and then detonate, or they detonate a couple seconds after being touched by a critter, I’m not sure which. Either way, stay away when they blow. On the plus side, critters get blown up by bombs too.
The main berry you collect earns you a whopping one point. The mushroom will earn you an extra life if you have less than three. The last thing you can collect is weapons. Once you’ve picked up a weapon you have 4 seconds to get as many critters as you can before the level is over. Most weapons leave you impervious to being hit by critters, but a couple still allow attacks to come in. Weapon types include a swinging ball and chain, lightening, a whirling vortex, and my favorite – a plug that when popped sucks all the critters into a drain. Talk about your homage to Looney Toons! Once a level is complete you’ll earn 10 points for each critter you destroyed with a weapon. You can also earn a drifting bonus which can range from 0 to 100. The more you stay away from the sides of the screen during the level, the bigger your drifting bonus is. The game is OpenFeint enabled, so there are also achievements that you can earn that can in turn give you extra points as well.
Controlling your character is simply a matter of tilting the device where you’d like to move. It actually works really well, and there’s always a calibration option if it’s not quite to your liking. Weapons are automatically activated when you pick them up, so there’s no need to worry about that. While not absolutely necessary since the current control scheme works pretty well, it would be nice if there were a touch option for those who just don’t want to use tilt for whatever reason.
As is pretty much standard for Pastel Games products, the graphics are quite interesting. The background is basically a bunch of leaves. The characters look good, but for the most part are not animated. The aggressive critter gets animated when it starts to chase you, and the bomb character is animated when it drops a bomb. Your character is only animated when it’s involved with a weapon. The weapon effects are definitely pretty cool, however, and almost make up for the lack of animation in the rest of the game. The sound is kind of the same way. Your character laughs once in a while, and there’s a cool Jaws like riff when a bomb or aggressive critter pops onto the board, but most sound effects are reserved for the weapons. The best noises are the frozen critters shattering and the whole sequence when your character “pulls the plug” (I love that weapon). The music is nothing to get excited about, so I won’t.
Pastel Games started out kind of weak in their offerings, but with Toxic Jump and The Glade I think they’ve hit their stride. Their games aren’t revolutionary, but rather solid implementations of tested genres that add a flair that is distinctly Pastel Games. They have a unique visual style that’s always interesting. As for The Glade, they managed to take a genre that’s been pretty overloaded lately and make it fresh again. The concept of levels, a weapon with limited use to finish out the level, and the “drifting bonus” concept all add up to a “dodge ‘em all” experience not quite like anything you’ve experienced before. This is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of the genre. It might even get you interested if you’re not yet a fan.