TimeDoctor's iGame Squadron #2
Hello, my name is TimeDoctor and I'll be your semi-regular guide through the fun world of the 10,000+ iPhone/iPod Touch games. Each week or so I'll bring you a new article describing and reviewing iPhone games that stand out from the crowd of farting applications. Note that I play all of these games on an iPhone, and though I'll keep an eye out for features which might not work on the iPod touch, may not catch them all. Please let me know if you enjoy these articles by e-mailing me, zakk @ timedoctor.org with your feedback. Thanks and please enjoy this second set of reviews.
Rubbing is still racing and Days of Thunder came out of nowhere. Who thought that anyone would take the classic 1990 Bruckheimer NASCAR flick and turn it into a game for the iPhone? In any case, the game works well and is probably the most fun I've had with any arcade racer on the device. Your avatar is Cole Trickle: get your mind out of the gutter because that is where your foes are going after you demolish their cars using the hammer-drop power up. I was shocked by the ridiculousness of it during the race, but then delighted by the effect it had on my opponents.
Each time you get enough draft behind the other racers in this game you have the option of "Dropping the hammer" and powering through them, most times this means that anyone you hit will explode and a short in-engine scene will play of their car flipping end-over-end in slow motion as it explodes and the game informs you which of the competitors you've eliminated. Also not to be missed is the delightful southern banter between Cole and his crew during races. The game has plenty of modes to play and 12 tracks. It is a shame that none of those modes are multiplayer, and also that the pit interface leaves something to be desired.
Days of Thunder does interfere with your device's current music track, but you won't miss it during the race. While it isn't a pick-up-and-play experience like Wurdle, you'll find it at least as rewarding as arcade racers on more powerful devices, if not more so due to the physicality of tilting the device in lieu of a wheel. My hope is that multiplayer is added to the game in a future revision - without it the game is a B+, but if it was there, it'd be an A.
Phil Hassey created Galcon back in 2007 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Most people probably still aren't familiar with Galcon. It is a quick game of simple risk-like army movements across planetoids. At the start of the game in most modes, planetoids have neutral armies which don't regenerate, easier for the taking. Once you capture a planetoid, though, your armies regenerate on each. The larger the planetoid , the faster your armies increase in size. Each space army has its own color, and the AI is fairly effective at getting the jump on you, though there is a very fine-grained choice of which AI difficulty you want. Eventually you'll exhaust those choices and the singleplayer modes suffer for it.
It will take a while for you to get sick of the AI, but for when you do, Phil Hassey has a plan. You see, he has already set up the most functional online competition around. I have never seen an iPhone/iPod Touch game with this extensive brand of multiplayer, including the online leaderboards. The competition is fierce, but at least it isn't as predictable as the computer's choices in singleplayer.
Galcon doesn't override the current musical adventure from your iPod application as long as you turn off the appropriate option in the settings application. Galcon gets a B because the game is a fun, but not excellent mix of strategy and speed. Just like in Risk, most of the strategy involved is spreading yourself far enough to gain more territory and thus more armies, but not so far that you thin your armies and become weak enough to get destroyed. It's a fine game, one that I would certainly recommend. Not spectacular, just fun.
Scrabble is pretty much just like the classic Hasbro board game, except with added multiplayer over a wifi LAN or hotseat play. Like most local wifi games I really wish that there was some kind of game-sharing for multiplayer, like on the DS it kind of stinks to have the requirement of purchasing multiple copies of such a simple game. Though this is most likely a problem with Apple's platform, not EA's game. Another Apple-platform issue that hits Scrabble hard is that the iPhone can't have local multiplayer games ad-hoc - it requires a wifi access point. There are some benefits to be had, though: one of them is that the game automatically checks your words against a dictionary when you submit them. This can be good to avoid those terrible long pauses where people are deciding weather or not to challenge words. Though I suppose some people might enjoy challenging each other's words. The AI also tends to be a little bit too good in singleplayer, picking words that parallel others for huge scores.
Unfortunately this game is a little top-heavy. The presentation is almost too heavy-handed for the game that it is, and why EA feels the need to waste resources so that the menu can have a spinny-floaty background and an intro logo movie can fly around before even that, I do not know. This is why the game takes too long to load and will discourage casual players. If another company had made this game, I suspect it would load faster and have static logo screens and only slightly animated menus.
Fortunately the presentation of the board itself is fine, you pinch and zoom to get up close with words and drag to place tiles from your set at the bottom of the screen. Each word is easy to toss out and you won't miss much from the board game itself except for the physicality of the pieces and the board when you're playing. The experience of Scrabble on the iPhone can't help being less social than the board game, even with hotseat mode and local wifi multiplayer. I hope that EA will buck their trend of releasing and forgetting games by returning to Scrabble and updating it with fewer ridiculous presentation pieces if that can speed the game up.
Truck vs Grenade version 1.0.1 by High Gloss Software (Free (for a limited time)):
The premise is simple, a truck is alone on a road with invisible barriers on each side matching the dimensions of the device...
From the sky, giant grenades fall. You tilt the earth and the truck moves to one side or the other.
The grenades pass through the Earth without incident, but if they hit the truck, the truck explodes.
In the background, a terrible knockoff of a Crystal Method song plays.
If that sounds interesting, the game is free for now. I wouldn't pay more, and neither should you. My recommendation is to get it now, understand that the people who like fart apps also found this amusing, then delete it. You'll learn to never trust reviews in the app store again.
Join us next time, for more adventures in...TimeDoctor's iGame Squadron!