Chillingo is one of the bigger publishers of iOS games, often releasing at least one game every week, if not more. This past week, we saw 3 new titles go live and thought we’d take a look at the trio to see which ones make the grade and which don’t.
Dream Track Nation
Dream Track Nation is a casual side-scrolling arcade racer developed by PowPow Games. There are 60 levels spread evenly across 3 environments (Texas, Alaska, and New York) with distinct looks for each. You can play through the game in either Star Collect mode (nabbing all of the available stars placed around the level) or Time Attack mode (speeding to the finish line as fast as possible). In addition to the single player campaign, you can go head-to-head against other racers in an online multiplayer mode. Fourteen cars are available to use, though all but the default will require you to unlock them by playing through the game.
The physics are a bit quirky, as you find yourself racing around loops and hitting special orbs that flip gravity to allow you to reach faraway areas. Tilting the device allows you to spin the car forward or backward, with full flips giving you time reductions. You can also use a virtual pad instead of tilting if you so choose. There are accelerator and brake/reverse buttons on either side of the bottom of the screen, allowing you to travel in either direction quickly and easily. The soundtrack has the tendency to get a bit annoying after a short time. The graphic style is distinct, as the menus have a throwback feel and the graphics have a simplistic, unpolished quality that fits the game.
Replay value is great, as Time Attack mode always gives you the opportunity to whittle down your best times. Additionally, there is a full built-in level editor that allows you to build your own custom maps and share them with the community. There are few ways to actually die or fail a level, including falling off of the map, not collecting enough stars, or simply getting stuck in a tight area. This makes the game quite approachable for gamers of any age, and it’s one of our favorite aspects of the game. A universal app for a measly $0.99, you can’t go wrong with this 4-Dimple offering.
One Man Army
One Man Army is a new tower defense game developed by Tickled Pink Games that pits you as the last line of defense against a slew of mutant enemies. One Man Army contains 36 levels spread evenly over 6 locations that feature 3 distinct environments. You are bunkered down at the bottom of the screen near the exit as wave after wave of mutants stream down set pathways toward you. You must set up towers to blast the baddies, shoot them yourself, or use a combination of these two strategies. A health meter indicates how much damage you have personally taken, as certain enemies will actually attack you. Otherwise, your goal is to keep the freaks from reaching the exit. If 5 get through, you fail. The number of acceptable breaches carries over within each set of 6 levels, so if you let 3 go before completing a level, you’ll only be allowed 2 for the remainder of the journey. We found the starting number and carryover method to be unappealing and frustrating.
You can easily switch between build mode (where you set up and/or upgrade towers) and shooting mode (where you fire upon the descending waves). Money is earned for destroying bad guys, which in turn is used to buy/upgrade towers, purchase med packs, or toss costly grenades. The upgrades are quite expensive, and tower placement is only allowed in certain locations. The towers are not very powerful and will only offer a small assistance unless upgraded. Waves are quick and each level consists of just a few, but it is easy to get overwhelmed quickly. Better weapons become available as you progress and enemy variety grows, too. There are some environmental objects that can be helpful (holding on a nuclear waster barrel will cause a huge explosion that takes out nearby enemies) or a hinderance (some objects block your bullets). It’s a decent concept for a game, but it just doesn’t feel all that exciting or compelling to keep us playing.
Graphically, the visuals are good, with detailed environments and fair animations. However, the enemies do feel a little stiff for our tastes. The soundtrack is fairly subtle, while the sound effects take center stage. Controls come in 2 varieties of tap: touch anywhere in the gameplay screen to shoot at that spot, or drag your finger in the area behind your guy to fire in the opposite direction. The second method is way more imprecise, but it does afford the luxury of not blocking your view of the screen. We did notice a tendency to hit the pause button while using the first method, as it covers the entrance to one of the main pathways. This was a huge point of frustration. Another annoyance was that the upgrade options for a tower appear at the screen bottom rather than the base of a tower, which was confusing to us. Otherwise, the controls worked fairly well.
Replay value is not great, as the game just doesn’t offer a lot to come back for. You could replay to try for 5 stars on each level, but we don’t foresee doing this. Crystal integration brings nearly 2 dozen achievements to earn, as well as a total points leaderboard. At $0.99, One Man Army is a ho-hum 3-Dimple shooter.
Jet Set Go
Jet Set Go is a jam-packed time management game developed by Ph03nix New Media. Your goal is to build your travel agency from a lowly 1-star establishment to a 5-star powerhouse. You’ll be responsible to handle a variety of tasks at the agency, purchase new and upgraded equipment with the money you earn, and even go on vacation and serve the travelers in a variety of ways to ensure their satisfaction with the experience. There are multiple difficulty levels, which allow you to tailor the game to your liking. You must move quickly in all aspects of the game to ensure that patrons don’t get angry and lose stars or hearts, which will negatively affect you and possibly end the game. It can be a huge time sink for players who like this sort of micromanaging game. The sheer variety of things to do seems to keep the game fresh and reduces the overall repetitive feelings you get from this type of game.
Graphically, Jet Set Go is on par with any of the other popular time management games. It doesn’t really get fancy, except for the vacation mini-games that might have you swiping at coconuts to prepare drinks or drawing circles to flip people on their beach towels. The animations are nice and the game’s atmosphere is positive and fun. The soundtrack is average and never really gets too annoying. Controls mostly require tapping on patrons when a bubble appears overhead, or dragging them from place to place according to color-coded bubbles.
Replay value is pretty good, as the game requires you to play the same levels again and again to earn enough money or fill enough plane seats to move on to other game aspects. GameCenter integration is included, but currently experiencing some problems that should be addressed in an upcoming update. A universal app on sale for $0.99 (regularly $2.99), Jet Set Go is an enjoyable new addition to the time management genre, earning a solid 4-Dimple score.
A Trio From Chillingo for Review,