Trap Master is “dodge and collect” game that takes a different approach to the whole genre. It puts the user in a whole new setting, makes the primary focus actually collecting objects, and actually has a controlled method of unleashing the obstacles upon you. In a way it makes the game more exciting than most of it’s type, because there’s actually a bit of strategy involved, and while you need quick reflexes, you can occasionally take a fraction of a second to breathe, which doesn’t happen on most dodge’em games.
In Trap Master you play a retired army general who’s fallen out of favor and makes a drunken claim one day that he will recover a treasure hidden in the bowels of a dungeon guarded by many traps and a red dragon. Seeking to make good on your claim you head into the dungeon to recover the treasure. You’ll traipse through many heavily trapped levels, grabbing treasures and trying to avoid whatever traps are meant to crush the life out of you. Each level has a certain number of traps you must avoid, which are counted down at the bottom of the screen. A trap could consist of more than one object, however. At the borders of the playing field arrows will flash to indicate where the traps are coming from. In some cases traps will be objects that roll from one side of the screen to the other, and in other cases they will be things like lasers that will shoot across the screen. It’s really important when you’re dealing with things like lasers that you quickly analyze all the arrows and how they might intersect, because there is no dodging a beam once it has been fired.
The game uses tile based movement, and on random tiles treasures will appear and disappear. You need to grab these treasures for two reasons. First of all, your points come from the treasures, rather than from merely surviving the traps. Second, if you miss a certain number of treasures you’ll have to spend some time dodging the angry dragon, which will try and stomp you out with his really big foot. During that time you won’t get any points, because no treasures spawn. To move around the dungeon you have two choices: you can use a virtual d-pad (which can be placed on the left or right) or buttons that appear on the four edges of the screen. I found the buttons along the edges too hard to use because they are far enough apart that quick reactions become difficult. Unfortunately, while the d-pad is my preferred option, there were still times where it felt like it wasn’t being as responsive as it could be or it just plain went a different direction than what I had requested. Still, the virtual d-pad works well overall.
Trap Master sports three different game play modes. In Original you traverse the dungeon a level at a time, avoiding 25 traps per level. As you progress through the levels there are more objects per trap and they move more quickly. It also takes less missed treasures to stir the dragon up. In Survival mode it appears that you are just trying to dodge the dragon’s foot as long as you can, collecting treasures along the way. There’s also an Expert mode, but I haven’t come close to unlocking that one yet. The game is OpenFeint enabled and has 19 achievements for you to earn, and there is of course a global leader board as well. There is also multi-player promised for an update, but I’m not sure what that will entail. If there was one “major” minor improvement I’d love to see right now it would be the ability to skip levels in Original mode. I’d be willing to take a cut in score if I could skip some of the beginning levels of the game.
Visually Trap Master is a pretty polished game. The backgrounds look nice, though nothing really out of the ordinary as far as dungeon themed levels go. The traps are pretty slick, and some of the death animations look like they came right out of a cartoon (for example, your character turning into a pile of ashes when fried by a laser). The main character is almost to that “mascot” level of design and animation, especially when it comes to the aforementioned death scenes. The one thing I don’t care for is this black fog that sweeps over the board after each level is complete. For a while I thought there was something wrong with the lights in the room where I was playing the game. It’s just odd and doesn’t really add anything to the game. The sound effects for moving and collecting treasures get a bit old after a while, but I do like the sounds the various traps make. The music is pretty decent, and suits the atmosphere of the game pretty well.
Trap Master is a fun little game. It’s nice to have a “dodge’em” game that’s a little more than just flailing about trying to avoid everything in sight. I also like the fact that they chose a dungeon theme, but then I am particular to the whole dungeon crawl type of thing. The three different game modes and 19 earnable achievements should keep you busy for a while, and I’m curious to see what the multiplayer mode will bring. This is another challenging casual game to add to your collection.