For this edition of Random Selections I’ve decided to explore two releases from one of my favorite indie developers, Kuyi Mobile. While the iPhone brand has been around for but a year, I have spent several years playing this developer’s mobile games under the label eSoft Interactive. If anything can be said about them, it’s that they just keep getting better over time. Case in point – both games in this selection are re-releases of Pocket PC / Palm software, and both are better than their non-iPhone counterparts. More importantly, though, they are both simple, fun diversions that should be in your casual iPhone gaming collection.
In a former life this was known as Earth Day, but no matter what you call it, the game is intense, addictive fun. Your task is to protect your planet from invading aliens by shooting first and never asking questions. You start with one gun and three weapon points, and it’s up to you to make it all work so you can keep your planet safe for as long as possible. Of utmost importance is destroying the aliens. At first an alien will only require one hit to dispatch, but soon multiple shots are necessary. Thankfully you have some options to enhance your attack.
As the game progresses satellites will float by the contain power ups. These bonuses include the freeze bomb, which is activated on contact and temporarily freezes everything on screen. Then there’s the smart bomb, which you can horde up to five at a time on and are activated by tapping the planet or the smart bomb icon. This nifty little device will blow up everything on screen. Earth points help replenish damage done to your planet by the invaders, and then there’s the BFL – you’ll just have to try it to find out about this bad boy. Finally you have weapon points, which is what has always attracted me to this game.
There are six areas you can upgrade, including number of guns, rotation speed, and two special weapons. Each area has three levels of upgrade which require weapon points. You start the game with three points, and some satellites will leave another point for you. At any time you can tap the score to enter the customization screen (this is also pause). What’s cool is that at any time you can take points away from one area and allocate them to another. More and more games are employing this technique now, but Earth Day / Alienz was one of the first that I was aware of.
Visually Alienz is quite appealing. The aliens are almost too cute to shoot, but you’ll get over that when you realize that they care nothing for you. Some of the weapon special effects are pretty slick, and I like how the planet degrades as it looses earth points. The only thing I miss from Earth Day was how the planet turned “techno” as you got further along in the game (unless I’m just not far enough in Alienz yet). General sound effects are, well, general. Nothing really sticks out too much in this department. I actually do like the music, however, even though it’s not my normal style of tunes to listen to.
I’ll leave you with a tip – don’t waste smart bombs, but don’t be afraid to use them. Okay, here’s a real tip – go buy this game. It’s a nice derivative of all the other shooters on the App Store, and its dynamic upgrade system is rather engaging. Besides, this is one of those development houses that we really need to encourage to keep them making more games.
Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link
Yes, this is another one of those “jump as high as you can” games. And yes, I am a bit biased because I just really like the company behind the game. Still, this is one of the more entertaining variants on this theme and it’s free, so even if you think I’m nuts on this one it won’t cost you anything to validate my opinion on your own.
The game actually started out in a collection called Arcade Challenge for the Pocket PC, but like Alienz and the soon to be released Jump Rope (another Arcade Challenge remake), it has gotten a substantial face lift as it has made its way over to the iPhone. You control the Jumpbot, a little robot who just wants to climb as high as it possibly can. You do this by simply tapping the screen to get the robot to jump. If you land on the platform above you then you keep going. If not its game over and you start again. Spikes and fast moving or vanishing platforms will try and deter your progress, while transmitters will give you extra points. You can also score bonus points by landing closer to the center of a platform or by jumping multiple platforms in quick succession (this takes practice and good timing).
In addition to the game’s original (or Normal) mode you have Spike Attack and Ironman modes. In Spike Attack every platform has a spike on it, so your jumping must be really precise. In Ironman mode each platform has a transmitter, and you have a power gauge. If your power drops to 0 it is game over, so you need to be sure to collect as many transmitters as you can. The game is OpenFeint enabled, and there are 12 achievements to earn as well as leaderboards for each game type.
The graphics are good, especially when it comes to Jumpbot itself. The backgrounds have a simple Saturday morning cartoon look to them, but the dark tones kind of counter that in an odd way. It’s almost like they were going for a Bladerunner-esque feel in the coloring but a Fox kids’ cartoon style for the images themselves. The main sound effects almost sound like a cash register, which I’m not really sure fits the overall feel of the game, and as always when you have a cool looking main character you almost feel like it should say something every once in a while. Guess it’s the silent Wall-E type. While not overly impressed with the effects, I do quite like the music. It’s not overbearing and at the same time gets you pumped up if you take the time to listen to it.
Have I played better games in this category? Yes, I have. Have I played worse? Way too many! Jumpbot is a nice happy medium, with just enough variety to keep it interesting. If this and Jump Rope are any indication, I can’t wait to see what Kuyi Mobile does with the rest of the Arcade Challenge mini-games (I’ve already told them what I’d like to see next).
Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link
I think Kuyi Mobile has proved that they’re in this for the long haul. That, and they certainly know their way around the casual game market. They’ve already given us several good games, and I think we’re in store for a lot more goodness to come. Just make sure you support them by picking up their free games, as it really is a win-win situation.