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Comprehensive Reviews

Random Selections: The Cute Casual Game Edition

Rating 4.00 out of 5
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This time around I’m taking a look at two games that couldn’t fit more nicely into the category of “casual gaming”.  Mice Heist is a simple “pound the critters” game which happens to center around mice stealing cheese.  CataGugl, on the other hand, is a bizarre little gem about a green alien creature that you try and toss as far as you can.  Neither of these will keep you occupied for hours at a time, but they’re both good for brief play sessions when you’re in between other things or your doing something mundane like waiting in line somewhere.

Mice Heist

Mice Heist is a game about protecting your pile of cheese from some mischievous mice… well, it’s more like a horde of rodents.  You start out each level with 20 slices of cheese and a timer.  You have to keep the mice away from the cheese until the counter gets down to zero.  If a mouse happens to get a piece of cheese, into one of the holes, you loose that piece of cheese for the current round.  All you have to do to stop a mouse is tap on it, and if it’s carrying a piece of cheese it will drop that piece.  Unfortunately, you don’t get as many points for slices that have been separated from the pile, and once a piece of cheese is on its own you can’t return it to the pile until the next round.  This also makes the round more challenging, because now you have multiple cheese stores to watch.

What makes this game fun – and sometimes frustrating – are the different types of mice you have to contend with.  Cheerleader mice don’t take cheese, but they encourage all the other mice to run more quickly.  Napoleon mice constantly call out soldier mice until you get rid of the commander.  Speedy Gonzalez mice dash about the room, making it hard for you to hit them.  Robot mice must be hit several times before they are destroyed.  The worst, however, are the ninja mice.  These guys will dodge your attack, and if you don’t hit them right after they dodge they will continue to dodge every time you strike.

Samurai Chop!

They’ve actually added a bit of strategy to this game, because as the room gets more crowded and the critters get quicker you often have to decide which mice are more important to take out first.  There’s also no question that your finger will get quite a workout as you progress through the levels.  And, if all else fails you can fall back on the cat’s paw once you’ve tapped enough mice.  This will unleash a dancing LOL cat to clear the screen.

The graphics suit the light hearted nature of the game.  The mice are cute and well animated, and there are several different backgrounds that get rotated throughout the game.  The sound effects are actually decent, as the mice pretty much all have their own sounds.  The music is also nice and upbeat (though a couple of different song choices would be nice).  The way the music is laid out you can even almost make your own rhythm game, since each mouse makes a sound when you tap it.

There’s nothing revolutionary – or even evolutionary, really – about Mice Heist.  It’s just a simple “tap all the bad guys” game with cute graphics and snappy music.  That’s what makes it endearing, though.  It doesn’t require much thought or time on your part to play a few rounds, and you’ll never forget what you’re doing.  Seems like the ultimate casual gamers’ choice to me.

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link

CataGugl

This was a really pleasant little surprise.  Judging by the screen shots and description I really wasn’t interested in this game, and wasn’t quite sure what it even was.  A marketing friend of mine sent me a code and said “want to give this a try?”  I figured I might as well, since I can’t turn down a free game.  As luck would have it, this game is a blast once you finally figure it out.  The basic gist is that you need to catapult the Gugl as far as you can (hence the name CataGugl – get it?)  You do this by pressing on the Gugl to “grab” it, and then dragging the poor thing back and forth across the screen for three seconds as the timer counts down.  This allows you to build up speed, and when you hear the word “go” you give one final swipe to toss the guy in the air.

As the Gugl soars through the air it might fly through a cloud, at which point it will fill up with air.  Pressing the Gugl will release the air, causing it to get a temporary speed boost.  Additionally, there a giant red bouncing balls that the Gugl can hit to get a sudden jolt of yardage.  On the down side – quite literally – if the Gugl accidentally hits the bottom of a red ball it can actually impede progress.  Ultimately your score will be measured by where the Gugl finally lands.  There are leader boards, which surprisingly are custom instead of one of the main few social networks, but at least you can still have high score competitions.

It's A Boomerang?

The main problem with this game is that the control is kind of awkward.  It’s quite easy to get a bit overambitious as you’re powering up your Gugl, only to find that your finger has slipped and you drop it.  Another problem is getting the timing just right so that you throw the Gugl right when the countdown says “go”.  You can throw it at other times, but your score won’t be nearly as good.  Finally, if your final swipe before letting go isn’t in the right direction, you might be recreating one of those worst case scenarios for new bowlers – can anyone say “look out behind me?”  Despite all this seeming negativity, though, it’s quite satisfying when you get the control right and earn a decent score.

Graphically the game is cute and pleasing.  The Gugl looks like Gumby’s mailbox with eyes, and it is fun to watch it twist and contort as it handles air from the clouds or bounces off a red ball.  The background is like a 3D no textured version of an earlier Super Mario Brothers game, which is all good for me.  The sound effects are amusing, especially on the final score screen when the Gugl is bouncing up and down making noises.  The music is okay, but it’s almost superfluous because by the time it starts playing you’re too wrapped up in watching the Gugl fly to care.

I’m a fan.  Your finger might get worn out as you continually try and top your best score, but you’ll definitely have the urge to keep trying.  Long live the Gugl!

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link

There you have it – another random sampling of what’s graced my device over time.  I hope you give at least one of these games a try, because they can both be great fun when played in moderation.  Until next time…

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