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iPhone  header logo

The Horrible Vikings

For: iPhone

Pillaging for princesses

Product: The Horrible Vikings | Developer: Low Five Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Arcade | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
 
The Horrible Vikings iPhone, thumbnail 1
Watch too much TV and you get square eyes. Drink too much pop and your teeth fall out.

What happens if you play too many video games? Do you start loitering outside jewelers lusting after their ring collection? Do you find yourself ransacking your local supermarket for packs of mushrooms?

If nothing else, The Horrible Vikings helps to answer this age old question, for it feels much like the product of those who have spent far too much time with a joypad in their hands. The game is littered with gaming references, yet clever quips alone don't make for great gameplay.

Violating vikings

In command of a viking duo, you're charged with looting islands of their treasure. They're far from defenceless, of course, each one mounted by scores of ninjas eager to protect the land from your advances.

Yet this is no fighter. Far from content to lay down the ninja card, The Horrible Vikings reaches into the reference bag and pulls out the burgeoning catapult genre, the ship itself acting as the device that launches you onto land.

Sliding a finger tips the ship, which in turn alters the catapult's trajectory. Once set, you pull the catapult back to determine its power. Mid-flight controls are then handed over to the accelerometer: tipping your handset influences the direction of your shot.

Swipe and swindle


To a certain extent, anyway. Just where you end up is largely determined by your initial launch, but with your target usually a fair distance away, there are other tricks to ensure you keep moving.

Swipe your finger down on the screen and your voracious viking comes crashing back down to earth like a missile, colliding with ninjas and other forms of architecture (handily marked off for you with mini arrows) for a springy bounce. Timing these bounces correctly so you maintain momentum takes a lot of practice.

Indeed, though you're encouraged to bounce your way into as much treasure as you can over and over, levels are actually only brought to a close when you reach your goal - either a princess or a massive treasure chest.

Early levels are straightforward enough, but soon stages become too complicated to be entertaining.

Bounce-out


Money earned can be exchanged for upgrades in the shop that, as you might expect, help extend your flight time or defend you from ninja attacks. There are plenty of trinkets to buy and the incentive for accumulating cash is strong.

While said goals seem clear enough, The Horrible Vikings is just too fiddly and random to really deliver the kind of direct play it promises.

Levels stretch too far - a dozen screens or more wide. They're so long, in fact, that you shouldn't be surprised when you can't even remember the layout. A free camera mode combats this (as do the aforementioned arrows), though having to survey every level takes away from the casual appeal.

By stretching the set-up just a bit too far, both in terms of launching your viking and the very length of the levels themselves, The Horrible Vikings loses some of the immediacy of rival titles like Crazy Penguin Catapult and Angry Birds.
 
The Horrible Vikings
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 27 January 2010
Bringing a fair amount of character to the catapult set-up, The Horrible Vikings comes with too much baggage to really take on the genre's masters
 
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