Don’t let your phone be boring, spruce it up with the apps in this week’s Android Market Roundup.This week we’re looking at five new games on Android. There is a stylish 360° platformer, a game about landing planes, a classic puzzle game, a pinball table in your pocket, and an excellent top-down shooter.
They Need To Be Fed
Platformers on mobile devices have been done in just about every way. But there are still times when a game can show up with an established formula and still feel compelling thanks to slick visual style and solid game play. They Need To Be Fed is definitely one of those games.
The premise is simple. You need to feed the monsters to keep them alive. Apparently there is no other source of food than your own giant-headed avatar. You must navigate each level to reach the monster at the end to be eaten. It sounds more gruesome than it is. This is a 360° gravity-based platformer. You jump from object to object, and are always under the influence of the gravity from one of them. Throughout each stage, there are diamonds to collect. You can just skip them to reach the end, but you will need a certain number to unlock each world.
There are only three buttons to worry about in this game. The left arrow walks around the surface of a platform in a counter-clockwise direction, the right arrow is clockwise. Across from these is the jump button. You will need to position your avatar correctly before making a jump lest you fail to reach your target, or run into some nasty spikes. We often find this sort of platform jumping game frustrating due to bad physics, or it just gets boring after just a few levels. They Need To Be Fed suffers from neither of those issues.
The gravity effects feel accurate, and you quickly get a feel for how far you can jump. You can even learn to slingshot yourself around dangerous obstacles. The obstacles and aforementioned nasty spikes help keep the game fresh. Each world has different types of platforms. Some rotate, some others have spikes on some sides, and some disappear a few seconds after you’ve touched them. The game doesn’t have a set number of lives, it just keeps track of how many times you die. Getting through a level without dying nets you a bonus.
The entire game has a vector art look to it. In each of the seven worlds, the colour scheme changes and they all look really well done. There is a real attention to detail in this game. All the animations are perfectly smooth for us, not even one hiccup. The music is actually good too. It fits with the game’s vibe and doesn’t get too repetitive, which is a rarity in mobile games. They Need To Be Fed is a great new game and it’s only £0.59, or less than $1.
EA Mobile has published PopCap’s Bejeweled 2 to the Android Market at long last. This jewel matching puzzle game is a classic that has managed to keep people addicted for spectacular amounts of time. The Android port really lives up to our expectations.
You’re probably familiar with how to play Bejeweled after seeing similar games. You have a game board with different jewels on it. Drag one into line with two or more others to clear them and cause more jewels to drop in at the top of the board. You can get special bonuses by clearing more jewels at once. Four jewels gets you an explosive jewel that will take out adjacent jewels when it is cleared. If you get five jewels matched, the game presents you with a hypercube. Just swap it with any jewel, and the board will be cleared of all matching jewels. There are three different game modes to try out. Classic is a level-based game where you fill up your progress bar to move on to the next level. If you run out of possible moves on the board, it’s game over. Action mode is a little more hectic. Here, you need to keep making matches to keep the timer bar from falling to zero. If you take too long, the timer runs out and you have to start over. Zen mode is a nice addition for people that don’t the pressure of the other game types. You can just match jewels endlessly.
The graphics are solid with varied level backgrounds and good visual effects. The animations are smooth and when you chain matches together you get encouraging feedback flashed across the screen as the board clears out. The sound is a mixed bag. The music can get repetitive, so we ended up turning it off, but the sound effects make the game feel a little more alive. Bejeweled 2 for Android is still as addictive as ever, and it’s only $0.99 in the Market.
The game that started a genre all its own on iOS has finally made the jump to Android. Flight Control is a game in which you must manage the air traffic at various airports to avoid collisions as long as possible. The game remains a good diversion and definitely stands up to the competition thanks to unique levels and achievements.
The thing that makes Flight Control successful is the dead-simple, intuitive game play. When an aircraft comes on screen, you tap it and drag a path for it to follow to the appropriate landing zone. Since many planes and helicopters need to go to the same place, and at different speeds, you need to tweak your flight paths frequently to ensure there are no crashes.
Flight Control manages to keep this simple game play interesting by offering up multiple levels with different rules. There is an aircraft carrier that slowly rotates in the water as you play. You also get an outback airport with medical flights that you can’t control and have to work around. The ski lodge airport has two sets of runways, but one or the other is always being closed because of snow. Flight Control also has more simple tropical and classic airports with no special rules, but most airports do have special planes to land. The graphics in Flight Control are good, not great. The cell-shaded style is attractive, but it looks a little more blurry than we’re accustomed to on WVGA devices. Hopefully a higher resolution update is in the works. The audio is a mix of fun campy tunes, that we have yet to get tired of. The game is very good at saving your place when you leave the game, so it great for short play sessions. Despite some graphical issues, Flight Control is a fun game that just feels more polished than some of the competition. The game is selling for $2.99 in the Android Market.
In some ways, a mobile phone is perfectly suited for a game of virtual pinball. Unfortunately, some of the implementations on Android have been less than stellar. Pinball Deluxe manages to present a polished and fun pinball experience, and it does it for free.
You get three different tables to play, each with its own unique theme. You have a space table, a carnival table, and a deep sea table. Each one has a totally different design and special features. You can even unlock mini games on each one. We’re really impressed with the presentation of these too. The game has a matrix display up to for your score that looks like a real pinball machine. The mini games happen here, and are controlled with the paddle buttons. Speaking of the paddle buttons, you don’t really have to hit the buttons exactly. The developer has smartly extended the hit box for these to cover the lower portion of the screen. On phones with multitouch, you can hit both areas at the same time, and the game will respond accordingly. The physics the game uses to launch the ball around feel very accurate to us as well.
All of the tables look great. There is clearly an attention to detail here, and that’s impressive for a free game. Even the sounds are different for each table. Everything is smooth, and we’re really hard-pressed to come up with a single complaint. Maybe the ads? Every few balls, an ad will pop up at the top of the screen for about 10 seconds. It’s not too intrusive, though. Since this game will cost you nothing, we suggest you pick it up.
AirAttack HD Lite
Top-down scrolling shooters have been done, but AirAttack HD Lite does it better. This game combines excellent graphics and killer music to make us yearn for the full version. For the time being, you’ll have to make do with only 2 levels of awesomeness.
The game uses touch input to control your plane. Just tap and drag to move around the level. The game offsets your touch, so the pane appears to fly just in-front of your finger tip. Your craft will be firing continuously, because let’s face it, that’s what you’d be doing anyway. As you take out enemies on land, sea, and in the air, you can pickup power ups and bonuses from them. The levels aren’t just one screen wide, you can actually scroll your view from side to side by flying over to one edge of the screen. This gives you much more room to manoeuvre in. You can drop a bomb at any time by double-tapping on the screen. As you progress through these surprisingly long levels, you will hit checkpoints where you can buy upgrades. One of the most useful is the side plane upgrade. You will get two wingmen that fly alongside you, firing all the time. They stick around until you run out of health and have to burn a life. You can also buy extra lives or cannon upgrades. As you destroy more enemies, more upgrades will be available to you.
The graphics are excellent in this game. The models and textures are really top notch, and we aren’t even seeing any slowdowns from too much action on the screen. When you take out an enemy, they don’t just blow up all the time. There are different death animations for each unit. Some planes might spin out of control, and a blimp might catch fire. Even moving your own plane is done elegantly; it doesn’t just glide across the screen, but looks like it is banking. This lite version of the game is great fun, and should keep you occupied until the full version appears.