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Comprehensive Reviews

Random Selections: The “Really Random” Edition

Rating 4.00 out of 5

About the only thing the games in this edition of Random Selections have in common is that they are both casual games.  Cow Tippin’ takes physics to the casual world, and while it’s not really for me, I do see the potential in it.  Fortune Panda, on the other hand, is simple “I don’t have to think” fun that’s great for short bursts of game play.  You’ll never have to worry about remembering where you were at the last time you played, and you’ll probably never forget how to play it!

Cow Tippin’

I always thought the concept of “cow tipping” was amusing – sort of the farmer’s version of Snipe hunting.  Unfortunately, this game has nothing to do with that age old prank.  Instead, your task is simply to keep one or more cows balanced on wooden planks for a certain period of time.  In easy mode you get one cow, normal mode gives you two cows, and hard mode tips the scale at three bovines.  On screen controls allow you to tip the each board left and right to try and steady the cows.  If one of them should happen to fall off the game is over, though you can keep trying from whatever the last round was that you were on in any given difficulty level.

The main challenge behind the game comes when it starts flipping the screen on you.  It might flip the screen horizontally or vertically (I don’t think I’ve seen it do both yet).  What this in effect does is messes up the way the controls work.  I’m not a big fan of the “opposite effect” in games in general, and it especially drives me nuts in this one, because they confuse you even further in the fact that the controls really are reflective of the way the screen looks.  Normally the opposite effect means you’re moving in a different direction then what you’re pressing, but here you have to adjust your brain to actually look at the screen different, and for me that doesn’t quite work.

Three's A Crowd

Three's A Crowd

While I’m by no means perfect at any mode, I find Easy to be too boring.  Normal isn’t bad until I get fed up with the constantly shifting screen display, and hard confuses me too much because you have a separate set of controls for each cow.  The thing is, this is probably actually a pretty crafty physics game, but I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around it.  As a result, I tend to lose interest quite quickly when trying to play it.  Hopefully your experience would be different.

The graphics aren’t bad, though the background reminds me of a stock Windows XP wallpaper.  I do like the 3D renderings of the cow and the UFO, but the poor cow looks like it is having muscle spasms and continually hitting itself on the head.  Interestingly enough there are no sound effects at all.  The music actually isn’t bad, though it does tend to sound like elevator music before long.  Just be sure that if you’re not very good at the game you try endless mode, as you’ll have the best chance of hearing more of the track.

This is one of those tough calls for me.  I’m personally not thrilled with the game, but I could see how someone with a bit more coordination could get a kick out of it, especially on hard.  I’ve been leaning towards Not Recommended throughout the review, but as I ponder it in the end I realize the potential that’s there, so I’m going to say…

Final Verdict: On The Fence
[Note: Sorry for lack of a link, but this item is no longer available in the U.S.]

Fortune Panda

One thing I’ve noticed with me and mobile gaming is that I tend to appreciate “quick play” games more now.  A game where you can just turn it on, play for a few minutes, and shut it off without feeling like you’ve missed anything or your gaming experience is going to be hampered in anyway.  Fortune Panda is just such a game, and I’m quite sure that I probably would not have gotten into this game so much a couple of years ago.  Now, however, I find it quite enjoyable in short playing sessions.

There’s really not much to the game.  You play a little panda bear carrying a basket behind him, and you have to collect all the coins falling out of the sky.  Silver coins give you 1 point, gold coins give you 5 points, and a 3x multiplier triples your points temporarily, though I don’t know if it’s for a certain amount of time or coins or what.  Along the way bombs, lobsters, frogs and trucks will try and keep you from your riches.  Have no fear, though, you can collect shields to help protect you.  Shields will destroy bombs and keep you safe from lobsters (though it doesn’t destroy the crustaceans).  I’m not sure what the shields do to the other things because I can’t seem to ever get far enough to run into the frog or truck.  The other power up you’ll get is a clock that temporarily slows time, giving you more opportunity to dodge bad things.

In For The Long Haul

In For The Long Haul

To move the panda you simply tilt your device left and right.  If you want to jump just tap the screen.  In the original version the game used the “delayed jump” mechanism where you didn’t actually jump until you let go of the screen, but the developers must have heard my silent cries.  Now you jump as soon as you tap the screen, which is the way it should be.  About the only real drawback to the game is that there are no difficulty levels, and as the game gets rolling power ups seem to fall abundantly from the sky.  Of course this doesn’t stop me from being bad at the game, but it might bore more talented game players a bit.

The graphics are cute, especially when it comes to the panda bear.  When he gets hit by a bomb he gets all singed like in the old Tom & Jerry cartoons, and for some reason that effect never gets old.  Unfortunately nothing cool happens when he gets hit by the lobster.  The one other really cool thing is that the background turns cool shades of red when the slowdown is in effect.  The sound effects as a whole are just okay, but the one thing I do appreciate is the fact that the noise made when a coin is collected is actually different when the 3x multiplier is in effect, so at least you have some way of knowing it’s still going.  The music isn’t anything you’ll hum to yourself while standing in line at the grocery store, but it’s lively enough to compliment the game well.

This is one of those games that is almost too casual for even the seasoned casual gamer, but I still really like it.  Granted I could never see myself sitting down and playing it for hours at a time, but I’m not ready to give up after playing just one game either.  If you’re looking for something with any amount of depth you should probably pass this by, but for anyone else it’s a nice diversion from time to time.

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link

This time around I took a look at two games that, while both casual in nature, will probably appeal to two primarily different sets of people.  As it is I didn’t really care for Cow Tippin’, but if you’re a casual gamer with a closet interest in physics games you might want to take a look.  Next time I’ll be analyzing the sequels to two iPhone games I really enjoyed that managed to capture snippets of my youth in an electronic format.  Until then…

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