New releases round-up: Ms. Splosion Man, Nimble Quest, Dungeon Hearts, and more
by Mark Brown 28/3/2013
Product: New releases round-up
Publisher: Steel Media
Format: iPhone, iPad
As ever, it's time to look at the week's new and noteworthy iOS games via the magic of mankind's two greatest inventions: the written word and YouTube.com.
After a glacially slow week, we're back on form.
We've got point-and-click adventures, match-three puzzlers, World War II shooters, and auto-explosive platformers.
Anyway. Enough yabber. Let's get to the video. Text, prices, App Store links, and pretty pictures are down below.
Runaway: A Twist of Fate By Pendulo Studios - iPhone, iPad (£2.99 / $4.99)
I've never been a big fan of Pendulo's point-and-click adventures. They have awful writing, an unlikeable cast of characters, and some seriously illogical puzzles. But like some obsessed junkie, I keep coming back.
So, this week, I played and completed Runaway: A Twist of Fate - the first half of the final game in the Runaway trilogy. As usual, it's got an exciting story with murder, hospital breakouts, conspiracies, and mimes.
But it also has poor writing, lame comedy, and puzzles that just aren't designed very well. Add in a few bugs and lots of pixel hunting, and you've got one sorry point-and-click.
The NimbleBit brothers are best known for freemium builders like Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes. In Nimble Quest, we get a lot more action with this fantasy spin on Call of Snakes.
If you didn't play that one, it's like the old classic Snake for Nokia phones, but with a procession of soldiers - or, in Nimble Quest's case, RPG heroes - that attack nearby enemies.
So, it's a case of getting close to baddies but without running into them. It's fun and relatively addictive, but it can become quite a grind if you're not willing to pay out for boosts and soft currency.
Frontline Commando: D-Day By Glu - iPhone, iPad (Free) [Also on Android]
Frontline Commando is, like many Glu games, an interesting idea that has been spoilt by aggressive free-to-play tactics.
It's a shooter that keeps you grounded in one place - so you can concentrate on aiming and shooting. You'll then pop in and out of cover, taking shots at the Nazis. You can swap between weapons, lob grenades, call in an air strike, or man mounted machine guns.
But eventually you'll get to a point where you try to throw a grenade, and Glu asks you for £3. Or you'll find that your rifle is about as accurate as a DigiTimes Apple prediction, and Glu wants a fiver for a better gun.
Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet By Ludosity - iPad (£1.49 / $1.99) [Also on Android]
Over in the world of PC, Magicka is this isometric, Diablo-looking, hardcore strategy fest. So, it's quite funny to see it come to iPad as a very cartoony, rather lightweight little adventure.
Basically, you tap on magic runes to set up spells, then tap on enemies - or yourself - to use them. You'll then come across monsters who are immune to one thing or weak to another, so it's all about exploiting those weaknesses and thinking fast.
Alongside a full campaign - with Icelandic voice acting, funnily enough - there's an online multiplayer mode. We'll try that out when we do our full review.
iPad-only Dungeon Hearts is another take on the RPG-meets-match-three idea we've seen in games like Puzzle Quest and 10000000. Only this time, it's more Final Fantasy than Dungeons & Dragons.
The idea is simple. You match together three same-coloured gems as they slowly trundle across the screen. This makes an attack gem which, when tapped, damages the enemy.
But those are just the basics. You'll soon be dealing with incoming attacks, massive chain reactions, new runes, and special attacks. Will this be your next match-three obsession?
Fester Mudd: Curse of the Gold - Episode 1 By Prank Ltd - iPhone, iPad (69p / 99c)
Another point-and-click adventure! Is it my birthday, or something? Fester Mudd is a super retro-flavoured adventure, with all the hallmarks of a mid-'90s point-and-click.
It's got the chunky interface, the pixellated graphics, the MIDI-like music, and even the exaggerated eyeballs. All in all, Replay Games and Prank Ltd have done a pretty darn good job of emulating games like Monkey Island and Space Quest.
As far as I've played, the puzzles are a little too easy for my liking. But it is awfully well put together, and has given me a couple of laughs already.
Tiny Troopers 2: Special Ops By Kukouri Entertainment - iPhone, iPad (69p / 99c)
We weren't blown away by the first Tiny Troopers, which was a Cannon Fodder-style shooter for iOS. We said, "while it has a few good ideas, Tiny Troopers isn't interesting enough to hold your attention for very long."
This sequel seems to be largely more of the same, but with some new guns, outfits, and zombies. Obviously.
Oh, and like in every Chillingo game these days, there are a lot of in-app purchases in Tiny Troopers 2: Special Ops, too.
And finally, the most harebrained, off-the-wall, totally bonkers game of the week: Twisted Pixel's Ms. Splosion Man.
This game centres on an all-singing, all-dancing lab experiment gone horribly awry, and her subsequent explosive escape from a secret laboratory.
You get about by causing yourself to explode, which forces you into the air. You only get three mid-air 'splosions before you turn to cinder, so you have to time them carefully.
It's super-fast paced, filled with clever ideas, constantly changing, and has a wicked sense of humour. It's also enormous - you're getting pretty much the whole Xbox Live Arcade game, plus some iOS extras - and looks great.