This installment of Quick Reviews highlights a couple of retro platformers and a logic puzzler.
Meganoid is a quirky little speedrun-based platformer from OrangePixel. Currently, there are 70 levels to play, broken up into groups of 10. The goal in each level is to collect diamonds and reach the finish area as quickly as possible. Each level is quite short, though you will need to avoid obstacles like spikes while traversing moving platforms, doors, portals, and other elements. There are even hidden areas in certain walls that will lead to rooms with additional diamonds, so a bit of exploration is key. Snagging all diamonds and completing the level in less than the given time will earn stars, eventually unlocking Sarge mode which brings a greater difficulty level. Unfortunately, the awkward controls make the normal levels difficult and frustrating enough for us. There is a left/right arrow pad on the left and a jump button on the right, but using them in conjunction often leads to situations where the character doesn’t jump diagonally, but gets stuck in a vertical position. This causes him to miss platforms, land on spikes, etc. It’s too bad because the 8-bit retro pixel graphics are pretty cool and the chiptune soundtrack isn’t half-bad, either. If the controls worked properly, this could be a great little game, but in its current state, we just don’t find it worth our time with so many other options that play in more predictable ways. OpenFeint integration adds to the experience. At $0.99, it would be worth snagging if we knew that the controls would get tightened up. At it stands, it’s a 3.5-Dimple platformer.
Don’t Die is a platformer from Black Phoenix Games that challenges you to get through its 37 levels without dying. Due to its odd controls, however, this is easier said than done. Levels are quite short, requiring you to maneuver around various objects to grab the piece of candy at the end. You have a left/right slider to control movement, as well as a jump button. Wall-jumping is permitted, giving you an extra boost to get higher than you normally would. The slider is an odd choice, as it doesn’t offer a very good level of precision. Coupled with the fact that the hit range for most dangers extends well beyond their borders, you’re sure to suffer an early demise or two or forty. The graphics are pretty amateur and the soundtrack isn’t all that great, either. In all, it’s not a very compelling offering. Despite OpenFeint and GameCenter integration, Don’t Die doesn’t have a lot of replay value. Despite its $0.99 price tag, its lack of polish and frustrating controls make this a lackluster 2.5-Dimple game.
Joining Hands is a cute new puzzler from 10tons Ltd. The goal of each level is to place all of the Peablin characters so that all hands are joined together, making the Peablins happy. Each Peablin consists of a head and a certain number of arms. You drag and place the Peablins on empty hexes within the honeycomb grid. Any free arms will align with each other, causing the Peablins to smile and become brighter. Once all Peablins are happy, you move on to the next level. One hex on each level contains a star, which you can earn by completing the level with a Peablin occupying the same hex. As you progress, you unlock new elements, such as the heart hexes (these make any Peablin happy regardless of whether their arms are connected to anything or not), inflexible Peablin (these have two arms in a fixed position), sad Peablin (they have no arms and are only happy if they are not next to any other Peablins), and more. Most levels are quite easy, requiring little thought and simple logic. A handful are very difficult, though, and you might find yourself stumped for a while before inspiration strikes. The graphics are pleasant and the controls are easy to use if you move slowly. When we tried to swipe Peablins quickly into empty spaces, they often wouldn’t “catch” and they’d get sent back to their original hexes, requiring re-swiping to properly move them. Replay value is only present if you need to collect stars you missed, as there is no timer or points to earn. GameCenter integration brings a global leaderboard for collected stars, and with nearly 100 levels, there are plenty of stars to snag. At universal app at $2.99, Joining Hands is a solid 4-Dimple puzzler.
We’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section.