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Quick Reviews from the Request Desk – 11.18.11
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Our latest installment has us checking out a Pong-inspired arcade game, a line-drawing casual title, and an Angry Birds-type physics puzzler.

Ninja Pong

Ninja Pong is a fun casual title from Alien Worm that uses a modified pong mechanic to safely deliver leaping ninjas across a gap between buildings. Ninja Pong includes both Arcade and Endless modes, with a couple of difficulty levels, a handful of unlockable locations, and tons of unlockable hats and perks that impact gameplay. Special power-ups come in the form of colored coins, providing longer boards, double points, slo-mo, metal boards, and more for a limited time. There are also golden coins that are collected and used to purchase the hats and perks. All are collected by touching them with the pong paddle as they fall from the sky. The pong paddle is controlled by touching the screen and moving your finger back and forth, exhibiting great responsiveness. This aids in avoiding bombs which blow up your paddle or fiery arrows that set your board ablaze and kill any ninjas that touch it. Moving your paddle quickly back-and-forth can put out the fire and allow you to resume safely moving the ninjas across the level. We found it easier to play on the iPad, as our finger tended to drift upward toward the paddle and obscure our view on the smaller-screened device.

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the game occurs when you enter Night mode, where a stream of ninjas appear for a fast and furious few moments. Saving several ninjas in succession will build your multiplier and afford you chain bonuses. Maintaining these bonuses can be tough, as some of the ninjas behave differently, jumping either long or short, or even hovering in air temporarily before dropping down to the paddle again. The Arcade mode tasks you with saving as many ninjas as possible within a strict time limit, while Endless mode only allows you to lose a certain number of ninjas, indicated by hearts, before the game ends. The style is cartoonish, fun, and colorful, and the soundtrack is equally appealing, with beautiful string music by day and a more frantic tribal-type tune by night. While it can get a bit repetitive and coins can take a while to earn, the core gameplay is solid and enjoyable, making this $0.99 offering (the HD version is on sale for the same price) a terrific 4-Dimple pick-up.

Pearls

Pearls is a clever line-drawing puzzler from Happy Camper Games that challenges you to collect as many colored pearls as possible while they stream from screen top to bottom. Dragging you finger from the collector pearl at the screen bottom will trace a path that will be followed once you release your finger. Pearls of the same color that you contact as you move along the path earn additional points for each successive pearl. Snagging a pearl of a differing color will reset the multiplier. The trick is to anticipate where the pearls will be when your collector arrives to avoid missed opportunities or hitting the wrong pearl. Pearls are limited, and the game ends once the last pearl has fallen.

A handful of power-ups are present to assist in your high score quest. Tapping a multicolored pearl will turn all on-screen pearls to the same color. Tapping a clock icon will freeze time for a few moments, eliminating the need to anticipate pearl positioning. Another item shaped like a sun can add more pearls to the level, extending your chances to earn points. The graphics are colorful and simple, with a pleasant cartoonish presentation. The soundtrack offers a cheerful arcade tune that’s fairly catchy. Controls require dragging to create the line, and taps to initiate power-ups. They are simple mechanics that even young gamers can grasp. Replay value is good, as you can shoot for long multipliers, higher scores, and more stars for the three available environments. GameCenter integration allows for 3 leaderboards and a couple dozen achievements. At $0.99 for a universal app, Pearls is a 3.5-Dimple option.

Snappy Dragons

Snappy Dragons from Extensive Studios is a cutesy physics puzzler in the tradition of Angry Birds. There are 4 environments with a total of 80 levels to play. The goal is to fling a limited number of fireballs to kill enemies and save the baby dragons. Baby dragons are locked in cages, with the explosive force of the fireballs destroying their prisons while vanquishing baddies and vaporizing parts of the environment. The challenge often comes in the form of preserving the babies and killing the bad guys who are situated extremely close to one another. Other obstacles like moving platforms that cannot be destroyed will factor in to your ability to be successful. You earn access to bonus levels in each world by achieving perfect scores in specific situations. Bonus levels often ask you to clear an areas with unlimited fireballs within a very short timeframe.

Each world introduces an interesting new element, such as wind patterns that affect the flight of your fireballs (as well as the fall of enemies and baby dragons). Additionally, you can use blue fireballs to freeze enemies, as well as cause a force to draw them close together. Black holes also cause you to find new ways to hit your targets. The graphics are cute and colorful, with great animations like blinking or tapping toes that give them a bit of life. The physics are decent and the aiming mechanic is easy to use. Simply drag your finger from the dragon toward your target, using the aiming line to determine direction and power. Releasing sends a fireball streaking across the screen. Small changes in velocity and position can have drastic effects, so finding the correct pathways is key. The soundtrack plays a few cheerful bars over the menus, with environmental sounds taking over during game play with the occasional few musical notes tossed in to sweeten the experience. Replay value is ok if you are looking to earn any missed stars, but beyond that, you won’t find much reason to come back for more. At $0.99 (or $1.99 for the HD version), Snappy Dragons is 3.5-Dimple fun.

Be sure to check these titles out and check back for more quick reviews!





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