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Quick Reviews From The Request Desk – 9.27.11
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Our latest installment of Quick Reviews sees us tackle a Match-3 battle game, a fantastic foosball game, and another Match-3 style game, albeit with a decidedly ’80’s feel.

After The Fall Puzzle

After The Fall Puzzle from ArianeSoft is a Match-3 battle akin to Dungeon Raid, though it is decidedly less involved, easier to grasp the full experience, and not terribly compelling when compared against the competition. After The Fall Puzzle involves squaring off against a series of AI opponents in level-based gameplay using the same hex-based layout. Each of the hexes contains a health item, attack item, armor item, or attack enhancement item. You match like items by dragging your finger over 3 or more adjacent hexes containing the exact same item. Depending on its category, it will do damage to your opponent, recoup some lost health, boost your armor rating, or bolster your enhancement, which basically adds the enhancement amount on top of each attack match, making it extremely powerful.

Each item has a value that is added when matches are created. Most items are valued at 1, with only a couple ringing in at 2 or 3. You trade turns with your opponent until you drive their health to zero, at which time you’ll take on another opponent. Once your own health meter runs dry, the game ends. The graphics are fairly boring, the soundtrack loop gets annoying pretty quickly, and there are no RPG elements to speak of whatsoever. Controls are easy to use, and a visual indicator adds the points as you draw so that you know exactly what you stand to gain before making your move. Undoing a move requires tracing back over the path you’ve already created before releasing your finger and making it permanent. While the game isn’t half bad, it just feels boring and incomplete compared to the competition. OpenFeint integration allows for global leaderboards and achievements, so there is a bit of replay value in that respect. For $1.99, After The Fall Puzzle is a ho-hum 3.5-Dimple offering.

Stinger Foosball League

Stinger Foosball League from Stinger Games is a terrific new foosball app that does a good job of nailing the experience despite the lack of tactile feedback that pretty much dooms any attempt at creating a foosball game for iOS. In addition to the Single Player experience, there are several multiplayer options, including Bluetooth, local wi-fi, and split-screen on the same device, as well as Tournament play and Mini-Games. There are 52 international squads, and you can create custom teams, too. You also have a wealth of options at your fingertips, including multiple camera angles, 4 difficulty settings, number of goals per game, goalie controls, and 4 control methods: Auto Kick, One Touch, Dual Touch, and Tilt.

You can play the game in whatever orientation you like and the positioning of your device influences the camera angle, too. Lay it flat and you’ll have a pure top-down perspective. Hold it at an angle and you have a nice side view. The controls are well-implemented and easy to use. Even when getting beaten, we’ve been having a blast. The ball literally jumps off of the screen, as the 3D engine allows for very realistic physics that includes knocking the ball straight out of play. The graphics are gorgeous and the players, despite having a virtual rod shoved through their torsos, feel almost lifelike. The animations are smooth and the sticks seem to respond as if they would on a real table. The line trail follows the ball, making it easy to follow the action. The soundtrack is catchy and the controls are intuitive and effective. Replay value is great, and the GameCenter/OpenFeint integration gives you the opportunity to challenge others on the leaderboards and pick up achievements along the way. A universal app for $1.99, Stinger Foosball League is a solid 4-Dimple stud that’s the next best thing to owning a table.

Radballs

Radballs from Glow Play is a Match-3 style game that uses ‘80’s visuals and beats to create a unique experience. Your goal is to group Radballs of the same color into square/rectangular configurations (known as MegaRadballs) so that a bar that passes over the screen will cause them to disappear. This bar can be manually swiped across the screen repeatedly to build up a multiplier, which also creates a DJing atmosphere with scratching record sounds. Disappearing Radballs will fill your Radness meter, which completes the level and allows you to progress through the game. Failure to create MegaRadballs quickly will cause your Radness bar to deplete, which can end your attempt. A full board does not end your efforts, but rather provides plenty of opportunity to swipe Radball positions to create the necessary MegaRadballs.

Additionally, there are a few specially-powered Radballs that occasionally appear on the board. The Bomb is activated by holding your finger on it until it pulses. Releasing at its brightest point will create the biggest explosion, decimating Radballs all around. Releasing at the wrong moment can leave you with a very small burst, though. The Lightning is activated in the same way as the Bomb, building up a time period during which you can swipe your finger around the screen to destroy Radballs. The Ice will slow the gaming elements to a crawl, pausing the bar and giving you several moments to set up MegaRadballs to be destroyed once things get moving again. The screen fogs up during this power, allowing you to clear a visual path by wiping your finger around the screen and creating a cool effect.

There are 9 environments, which can be played in 3 different styles: an 8-level Arcade campaign, a Survival challenge, and a Timed challenge. There are also 4 difficulty levels to challenge yourself. The graphics are a nice throwback, though there are a few colors that look awfully similar and can trick you into moving the wrong balls into the wrong places. The soundtrack is excellent, providing an appropriate backdrop that matches its style and keeps your head nodding. You can even use music from your own library instead of, or in conjunction with, the in-game soundtrack. The bar matches the song beats, creating a wonderfully integrated experience. The scratching effect is a lot of fun to use, too. Controls are simple, requiring only that you swipe from one ball to an adjacent ball to switch their positions. In this way, a single ball can be moved all over the place. MegaRadballs form a single large immovable shape, and chains can be set up for huge point gains. Replay value is very good, and GameCenter integration allows for global leaderboards and achievements to earn. A universal app currently on sale for $0.99 (regularly $2.99), Radballs is a very solid 4-Dimple challenge.

As always, let us know what you think in the Comments section below.





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