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Saturday Specials: Chillingo Catch Of The Day

Rating 4.00 out of 5
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This week I’m going to take a look at three games from the Chillingo / Clickgamer fold.  These games have been out for a long while, but I made a commitment to review them and that’s what I’m going to do.  I had hoped one of them had gotten better with age.  Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be the case.  Anyway, without further ado we shall begin with…

IO

This is one of those typical sci-fi scenarios – ship lost at space, crew has vanished, what happened?  It’s up to you to find out and bring the ship safely home.  You can rest assured that if something like this ever became a reality I would not be in charge – or anywhere near – the rescue crew, because I would just add to the mystery.  I have as yet to make it past the second bad guy in this game, and after I’m finished with this review I will be more than happy to delete IO from my device and never try again.  I think there is a lot of potential here – a nice “rails” platform game that still has a sense of depth, hidden areas in multiple layers of the ship, a cool atmosphere.  All the makings for a deep space thriller are there.

Isn't He From Robocop?

Isn't He From Robocop?

Unfortunately, the game is just too difficult.  On top of that, small things in the interface just bug me, like the fact that the toggle button for running, walking and crouching is a bit flaky.  Also, as I found out the hard way, if you try to select a gun you don’t own yet, it unselects your previous gun, leaving you unarmed.  Shooting doesn’t seem entirely accurate either, which is somewhat essential for a game like this.  You’re supposed to tap on the screen where you want to shoot, but I think the pseudo 3D nature of the levels confuses the targeting sometimes, and you can be standing right next to a guy and tapping on him, yet you aren’t actually hitting him.  It gets quite frustrating after a while.

Visually IO is okay.  The actual playing field is only about one third of the full screen, so the graphics aren’t overly detailed.  The background colors are kind of muddled to give the game an ominous atmosphere, but in the end they just look muddled.  I do like how foreground objects and things that can be interacted with are more colorful to stand out, but that has a mixed effect of almost making things feel cartoonish.  The sound effects are pretty basic sci-fi affair, and there is no music, which I think is absolutely essential for a game like this.  In the end, though, sloppy controls and insane difficulty are IO’s downfall.  Fix those two things, and this could be a decent platform game.

Final Verdict: Not Recommended
App Store Link

Zingles

I’m not really sure what the name Zingles means, but basically this is another variation on Sudoku.  Sudoku is a game of logic and numbers.  The standard version uses the numbers 1 through 9, and the object is to fill the board such that each row and each column contains the numbers 1 through 9, and each 3×3 grid within the board also contains the numbers 1 through 9.  It sounds a bit odd, but once you actually play it the game can be a blast, and it can certainly tax your reasoning skills.

Well, It's Sudoku

Well, It's Sudoku

My general philosophy about electronic Sudoku has been “Sudoku is Sudoku, and it’s all about the interface”.  Well it turns out that Zingles challenges that philosophy by actually presenting variations on the game.  You can play on a nice selection of board sizes, ranging from 4×4 (definitely designed for kids) all the way to 16×16 (requires the use of the letters A-G in addition to numbers).  There are also two variants called Jigsaw and Killer, but sadly the game has no instructions, so I’m not sure what’s different about these modes, though looking at them tells me they are different.  To fill a square you double tap it and select the number or letter that you want in that square.  To take notes you select a square and then tap the pencil icon, and whatever letters / numbers you tap will show up in the square as suggestions and not your final answer.  There are a couple of other icons as well, but without some help I’m not really sure what they do.

Visually the game looks fine, though there is nothing exciting about the graphical scheme.  The numbers and letters are easy to read, even on the 16×16 grid.  There is no music or sound effects, but thankfully the game supports letting you listen to your own music.  I give Zingles a shaky recommendation.  I’ve seen better interfaces on electronic versions of Sudoku, but I like the fact that there are multiple board sizes.  A game having no help is a big turn off for me, though, especially when there are modes that don’t appear in most versions of a game that I’d like to know how to play.  Still, there’s some nice variety here, and the smaller board sizes are a great way to introduce the game to your children.

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link

Potpourrii

I love match 3 games, so I really thought I’d enjoy Potpourrii.  The first couple of times I tried it, however, I just didn’t get it.  Turns out that was the problem – I just didn’t get it.  Revisiting the game after all this time I realize that it’s actually a nice match 3 game with a twist, and it’s quite fun.  The playing field is a pool that contains spirits floating in it which represent the seasons.  To remove a spirit from the pool you must shoot it with a spirit from the previous season (ex: spring spirits remove summer spirits).  If the pool gets too crowded the spirits will get stuck, and if they can’t move for 5 seconds you lose a life.  When all lives are gone the game is over.  Spirits will continually be generated from four points along the pool, one for each of the seasons.  If a spirit stays queued up too long it will be launched automatically, which can result in less than desirable circumstances.

Well Done In Winter

Well Done In Winter

To launch the spirits yourself you take control of a cannon that rotates 360 degrees around the pool.  Moving the cannon simply requires you to turn a wheel in the lower left corner of the screen.  Once the cannon is positioned in front of a spirit spawning point you can pick up the spirit by pressing the lower right corner of the screen.  Then you position the cannon where you’d like and press the lower right corner again to fire.  There are also supposed to be bombs that you can drag and drop to use, but so far I haven’t run across any of those yet.

The graphics in Potpourrii are both cool and functional.  There are nice little details, such as leaves floating in the pool during the fall and ducks swimming in the summer.  The spirits and gnomes look pretty neat as well, as does the little warlock in the upper left corner.  Even though he’s the evil guy, he’s actually kind of amusing, much like Gargamel from the Smurfs.  The sound effects fit the game quite well, and love the sounds of joy from the gnomes when you clear a level.  The music is okay, but I actually like the little riff that introduces a level better than the music that plays throughout the level.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to try Potpourrii yet, I highly suggest you give it a whirl.  This is one of those oldies but goodies.

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link

That wraps it up for this week. Hopefully it was still Saturday somewhere when I posted this, but if not, oh well. I’m not sure what’s on tap for next week yet, but we’ll all know by the time I get it posted next week, won’t we?

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