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Comprehensive Reviews

Saturday Specials: The “It’s That Time Again” Edition

Rating 4.00 out of 5
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This week I don’t have anything planned, so I’m just going to take a look at three different games that I told the developers I’d review at one time or another.  There’s no rhyme or reason to the choices I’ve picked, other than the fact that I hope I can describe them to you in just a couple of paragraphs so that I can try to keep to my original premise behind the Saturday Specials.  Anyway, that’s enough for this intro.  On to the games…

The Fifth Wheel

This game is like Whack A Mole meets Odd Man Out.  On each level there will be one or more pairs of beings popping out of holes like in a Whack A Mole game.  The thing is, you can’t just start tapping any of the beings that appear on the screen.  Amidst all the pairs there will be one being that doesn’t have a match.  That’s the only one you want to tap.  It sounds easy enough, but trust me when I say that even with as few pairs as there are on screen, it’s really easy to miss the second of a pair and tap the wrong being.  There’s a timer, and every time you make the wrong selection the timer goes down a bit extra.  I think the timer goes up just a bit when you make a right selection, but it’s hard to tell.  There are extra items you can tap as well that give you bonus points, though I wish some of them would give you extra time instead (or again maybe they do and I just haven’t noticed).

One Of These Figures Does Not Belong...

There are five worlds, and each world is divided into several levels.  A level is comprised of multiple screens.  After each level you get a second type of game that’s like a mini Pachinko.  There are multiple beings at the bottom of the screen, and you must drop one from the top such that it matches its partner at the bottom after falling through some pegs.  I personally don’t care for this part, and quite often it seems like I have to back out of it anyway, because no matter how many times I tap the top of the screen nothing drops.  The responsiveness issue seems to be an overall problem.  Quite often in the “odd man out” screens I have to tap a being multiple times before the game registers that I’ve tapped it.  Of course this never seems to be a problem when I tap the wrong one.  Still, the control issues haven’t been problematic enough to keep me from enjoying the game.

The visuals in this game are pretty wacky.  Considering half the characters don’t really have faces they still have lots of personality, and there are a wide range of characters to look at.  You have your basics like a kid with big glasses and one with a lightening bolt painted on his face to your horror icons like a mummy and the mask from the Scream movies.  And then there are some things that are better left without description.  Sadly there is no animation, as I’d love to see some of these characters moving around.  The sound effects are basically limited to a buzzer when you click the wrong being.  I think it would be great if the characters actually said something when you tapped them.  The music sounds like something from a sinister circus, but there are only a few bars before it repeats, which means it gets old really quick.

This game still needs a bit of polish, but I like the idea and I love the different characters.  Unfortunately, the problem with the Pachinko mini game not responding and forcing me to return to the main menu on a number of occasions makes it so that I can’t outright recommend this game.

Final Verdict: On The Fence
App Store Link

Backlash

Your goal is simply to guide a ball through the chambers of a machine, getting it to the vacuum tube that will help it escape each chamber.  The trick is that your ball is quite elastic, and you only have so many bounces in each chamber before the machine’s security system detects your presence.  There’s also the fact that some blocks will cause you to speed up, while others make you slow down.  And there are some vents that will blow your ball in the direction the vent is pointing.  Oh, and did I mention that you can only “start the ball rolling” once per level?  If the ball should happen to stop for any reason (I’ve only had that happen once) you’ll have to start the level over.

Going Up?

To get things started you draw a line from the ball in the direction you want the ball to go initially.  The longer the line, the faster the ball’s velocity will be.  What I love about this type of game is that the right answer is usually not the obvious one.  Also, as with any other game of this type, you’ll spend a good amount of time on some levels trying to prove my last statement wrong.  Still, in the end it’s neat to see how some of these levels end up working out.  It won’t seem like it at the time, because you’ll get frustrated that you can’t pass a level, but in the end the efforts will be worth it.  I would like to see a bit more variety in the types of blocks you encounter (and a few items besides blocks would be nice), but it’s still enjoyable with what’s there.  A few OpenFeint achievements wouldn’t hurt either.

The visuals are quite nice.  The more I see games utilize it the more I like the whole “steampunk” look.  I love the gears in the background – it reminds me of some leftover imagery from the game Jump ‘O Clock.  I do have to wonder what my fascination with gears is, though, being mechanically uninclined as I am.  The sound effects are decent, and really do give you the feel that the ball is bouncing around a real area.  The noise the vacuum makes when it sucks in the ball is pretty cool.  The music is okay but it gets repetitive rather quickly.  It almost feels like it’s not quite a complete song.

Backlash is simple and doesn’t have lots of variety to it, but it’s been fun trying to beat each level.  There are some levels that have certainly given me a run for my money.  If you like physics puzzles that don’t require you to place 50 million objects around a room to create a singular effect then this might be a good candidate for you.

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link

Well, I think I’m going to leave the Saturday Specials at two games this week.  Partially because it’s late and I want to get this published, and partially because I don’t feel like writing about anything else at the moment.  Besides, I’m too busy checking in on my Bloomies garden at the moment (you can check out my review of that game here).  Until next time…

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