Game Dev Story+ (iPhone): COMPLETED!

Many, many moons ago, I bought the original version of this on my iPhone. It was great. In fact, I still have it and my development company (Ubisocks) is still going and is on year 300 or something.

Recently, a modified version was released on Apple Arcade as Game Dev Story+. I’m not sure what is actually modified, aside from a different coloured icon, but it doesn’t matter because it meant I could restart the game without losing my more-than-a-decade-long save file.

It’s easier than I remember. Certainly, the early stages anyway. Once you have All The Money and can get a game that scores 40/40 regardless of how hard you actually try during development or which genre combo you choose then it’s a walkover, but I had no issues in the beginning at all – never ran out of money, constantly made a profit, and quickly grew Fire Sausage (my new development house) to the point of unstoppable sales. My Animal Crossing clone in particular was a massive seller and award winner!

After 20 in-game years you reach “the end”, in that no new stuff happens, but by that point I’d won all the awards and created a best-selling console so I’d done everything there is to do.

Nuts (iPhone): COMPLETED!

I discovered that, since they added an Apple app to my TV, I could actually Airplay my iPhone screen on there, and with a PS4 controller connected via Bluetooth, I basically have another console. And then, Apple gave me another free month of Apple Arcade. And then, I spotted Nuts on there, when I was about to buy it for the Switch. So here we are.

Nuts follows you, as a squirrel researcher, setting up cameras with which to watch what the squirrels get up to. You then wind through the recorded footage, print off screengrabs of important sightings, and fax them to your boss who frequently contacts you in your caravan via phone.

I caught a squiggle on the tree!

At first, you simply put a camera where you’re told, watch a squirrel appear, and then move the camera to where it runs off to. As it takes the same route each night, you can effectively follow it to its den. Later levels are more complicated, with multiple squirrels, no known starting point, or having to track them backwards.

It’s a fun little game, uncomplicated and clever, and there’s a whole overarching story as to why you’re doing this research too, which adds to it. It’s only a few hours long, but it doesn’t outstay its welcome and changes things up enough to keep things interesting for that time. Also, squirrels!

That’s my caravan.

Data Wing (iOS): COMPLETED!

I’ve mentioned before, but I don’t often play games on my phone. Sometimes, though, one comes to my attention. Like Data Wing did.

Data Wing feels like a cross between Super Sprint, Thrust and escapeVector. You control a dart shaped object – supposedly a data carrier in a computer system – by pressing the left or right of the screen to steer. Simple controls, so workable on a touch screen!

Levels vary between reaching the exit in a fast enough time, racing other darts, finding keys, navigating through heavy gravity, and so on. Skimming the walls with your dart increases your speed, and some areas boost you, slow you down, or  strip you of control temporarily.

There’s a story about a process in the computer, Mother, wanting to use you to become a real human, and a possibly reformed malware entity who suspects Mother might not be all she appears. You can also collect files that contain message fragments from the computer’s owner, revealing another story there.

Data Wing is a simple, short but excellently executed and fun little flying/racing title. And current, it is totally free. Free! Not even any adverts or anything. Amazing.

Lifeline (iOS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_nws6j822qc1svmpf2o1_1280Look at this. I have not only completed a telephone game, but it was a telephone game that I had to buy with actual money. How rare. So rare, in fact, I don’t think I’ve done that in years. I gave up on the whole iOS game market ages ago as it was full of clones, IAPs and rubbish. Lifeline was recommended by the Midnight Resistance podcast, and sounded interesting. So I bought it.

Remember text adventures? It’s a simple one of those, but integrates into your phone. It starts with you getting a notification (a real actual app notification too) from Taylor, a student scientist onboard a spaceship. Well, they were onboard. It crashed and somehow you’re the person Taylor’s communication device contacted.

They tell you whats happening, and periodically they ask for advice or a decision. Sometimes they’ll disappear for (real life) hours at a time while they’re busy, for example hiking or sleeping, and then you’ll get another notification when they’re ready for another conversation.

tumblr_nws6k14r8y1svmpf2o1_1280Your aim is to keep Taylor alive by choosing the best option for them (I keep saying them and they – Taylor’s gender is never given) and ultimately leading them to rescue. They can be directed to explore the not-as-barren-as-first-thought moon, and decisions are as simple as go east or west, or as stressful as fight or run. Yeah, they’re not exactly alone. Minor spoiler.

I managed to kill Taylor a couple of times, but bar that it took maybe three days to beat the game and get them rescued. There’s not a huge amount of game there, but it’s spaced out (no pun intended) and somehow feels more real due to the phone integration and the way in-game things take real actual time to complete. An interesting diversion with an original concept, if not as great as I was hoping for. The writing is OK (and the story is right out of the sci-fi books I’d read as a kid), but Taylor’s humour doesn’t really fit with their situation. Still, you can spend 79p on much worse.

Stuff I’ve been playing recently

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I’ve not just been completing things, you know…

Johnny Kung Fu (3DS)

I was really looking forward to this when it was announced. Reviews were not kind, but I thought – they’re wrong, right? They were not wrong. Sure, it’s not terrible. And, separately, each level is fine. The problem is the game is a confused mess of Game & Watch, Kung Fu Master, and Wario Ware and it doesn’t really gel properly. Oh well.

Marvel Pinball 3D (3DS)

It’s Zen Pinball (which is awesome) only with four different tables (which is awesome). And, it’s awesome. Mainly playing the Captain America table at the moment.

Skylanders (360)

Recently, I was informed that you don’t actually need two “portals” to play two player, so I’ve been playing it a bit with my daughter as player two. Which is great and all, but she’s not quite got it yet and keeps dragging me off to my death. Oops.

Slay (iOS)

Still the best iOS (and Windows Pocket PC, originally!) game by a hundred billion miles.

Lego Star Wars III (360)

Started the second run through the game – in Free Play mode now. Only done three levels though. Pretty sure I’ve got True Jedi on every level now, but the achievement hasn’t “popped”. Unless you have to do all the ground battles too?

Games I’ve been playing recently

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Mutant Mudds (3DS)

It’s really hard now. I’ve done all 16 main levels, some of the secret levels, and collected all of the diamonds so far. I’ve done the first three Moon levels, but the last one? Nightmare. It’s so difficult!

It doesn’t help that you can only have one power up at a time, and you really need all three to make it through. I’ve swapped around which ones I’ve been using, but it’s too hard with any of them.

Rhythm Thief and the Emperor’s Treasure (3DS)

So awesome. I’ve just obtained the second (third?) treasure, from the Opera. The “waiter exam” rhythm game was pure excellent stupidity, but the fake-Mexican I ran into? Amazing.

Why amazing? Because he made me play Samba de Amigo. YES!

Castlevania: The Adventure (3DS)

With so many fantastic games I could have bought from the eShop, such as Kirby’s Dreamland 2, obviously I would buy this pile of old pants. Which I already have for the Game Boy, and which I already completed and declared rubbish. Tch.

It’s rubbish.

I’m on the third level and am really concerned for my sanity. Why did I buy this?

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (iPhone)

Not played the iPhone version of this in ages, but sadly now can’t. Recent iOS updates seem to have left it a jerky, juddery mess, with the action pausing for seconds at a time. Controlling it is now impossible. Boo!

Games I’ve Played In The Last Week Or Two

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Haven’t had an update post in a while, and I’ve been trying out lots of different games over the last couple of weeks and not made mention of them here, so here’s a roundup:

Say What You See (iOS)
A series of pictures with hidden clues to game titles, films, etc. Like a cross between Where’s Wally? and a cryptic crossword. There are number of “canvases”, and I’ve been playing the Arcade Games one. Completed it, but some of them were a complete pig. Like, which arcade game is denoted by a picture of a goat’s head on a piece of paper? No idea? Exactly.

Super Mario All-Stars (Wii)
I got this for my birthday. Yeah, it’s a bit cheeky being nothing more than the SNES Mario All-Stars cartridge on a Wii disc, but it is a collection of some of the best platformers ever. So there.

Little Big Planet (PS3)
One of the free “Sorry our security was crap, everyone – here, have some old games for free ‘cos everyone has stopped buying them now anyway” games from Sony. It took three thousand years to download, and I’ve played the tutorial level and a couple of other levels. Thoughts: it looks nice, but controls horribly. The into and out-of the screen moving (especially when jumping up) is rubbish. Sackboy’s physics feel wrong. The pop-up menu to access stickers and stuff is annoying, particularly when the camera zooms into your face meaning you can’t see where on the playfield you’re putting your stickers. I might get used to it all, but, y’know, I still have the woeful PS3 controller to contend with.

James Pond 2: Robocod (PS1 on PS3)
Free for the duration of my free month’s worth of PS+. And an utterly horrible, bastardised version of one of my favourite platformers ever – it’s even worse than the DS version. I never want to play it again.

Street Gangs (NES on Wii)
It’s like playing a retro version of Scott Pilgrim! ūüôā Lovely game. Not far in though.

Muscle March (Wii)
Why didn’t I get this not-gay, manly game for manly men a long time ago? It’s like Hole in the Wall, only less camp! Amazing.

Lasercat (360)
The ugvm people recommended this Indie game as a sort of Jet Set Willy-alike. I can see what they mean, but the¬†sparseness¬†of the rooms (many of which are completely devoid of, well, anything) and the lack of things to collect (only 20 keys), in addition to the silly trivia questions, put me off a bit. I think I’d have enjoyed it more if JSW hadn’t been mentioned. It’s not bad, but not what I wanted.

Contra (360)
This XBLA game was on offer at 200 Microsoft Moon Points a few weeks ago, so I bought it. Never really was a fan of Contra (or “Probotector”, as I always knew it), but it’s fun, if totally impossible. Managed to get to the boss of level 3 before I ran out of credits.

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (iPhone)

Lets just gloss over the fact there was a Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit game, and a sequel, about 10 years ago and get on to the rubbishing of the new one, yes?

It’s rubbish.

To be more specific, it’s a dull Chase HQ clone with awful stuttering problems (the game would pause for 5 seconds or more, sometimes!), a seemingly pointless handbrake turn (that rarely works anyway) and terrible rubber-banding. I played the first 6 events, didn’t really enjoy any of them, and decided not to play it again.

Yeah, it was only 59p, but that’s still too much.

Mirror’s Edge (iPhone): COMPLETED!

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The Rev had pointed out that this was excellent. I wasn’t so sure, since I loved the 360 version and a move to a 2D, controller-less version didn’t seem like it would work. If only he’d said “It’s like ‘Run!’, only better”, I’d have bought it like a shot.

As it is, The Rev died this week. Also this week, EA had a sale on the App Store, and Mirror’s Edge was reduced to 59p, so in some strange, possibly wrong, way – I bought it in tribute. Is that appropriate? Probably not. Would The Rev mind? I doubt it. Too late now, anyway.

Today, I played it from start to finish in one sitting. And it is glorious. Just like Run!, there are swipes to do different moves, and you can change running direction, wall run, climb, swing and do an alarming number of things you can in the “proper” game – all in 2D. It feels the same too, with the same graphical style and story. At 59p, it’s an utter bargain.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 (iPhone): COMPLETED!

Er, hurrah? I think? I’ll write more about the game itself at a later date when I’m in a more ranty, wordy mood, but needless to say it wasn’t great. There were great bits, and the idea was mostly sound, but the wrong physics and totally not-Sonic feel to it (despite visually being a clone of previous (better) Sonic titles just broke it.

But I’ve completed it now. Sans emeralds, but the Special Stage is too ridiculous to attempt any more, and I don’t care.

Let us not speak of this game again.

Peggle (iPhone): COMPLETED!

Yes, I realise that not only have I already completed Peggle on both the iPod (nano) and Xbox 360, but completed Peggle Nights first despite being DLC.


It’s just Peggle. Again. And it’s as great as it ever was. And now I’ve completed it. Again. I’m not really sure what else there is to say?

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 (iPhone)

I said I wouldn’t buy it. I wasn’t going to buy it. I really didn’t want to buy it. Really. But of course, I did. Rubbish. But is it actually any good? Could it be a surprise?

In many ways, it does a lot right. Like, very right. Splash Hill, for instance – it’s ace. First level of Lost Labyrinth? Excellent. Mad Gear 3? Lovely. But some of it, like the nonsense of “get 100,000 points!” in Casino Nig^H^H^HStreet 2, and the AWFUL minecart of Lost Labyrinth 2 just make me want to smash things. They’re not hard, just rubbish.

It’s also disappointing that the whole game is just a remix of the previous games. They’ve literally just done new Green Hill, Casino Night, Labyrinth and Metropolis levels. On one hand, this is fine, but not when this is supposed to be a new sequel in the series – new levels that are similar to old levels (Angel Island/Green Hill, Metropolis/Scrap Brain) are OK, but the same levels with new layouts? Lazy. Same can be said for the bosses – they’ve actually reused the bosses from the previous games, just adding a bit of a twist after a few hits (which, if you’re quick, you don’t see in some cases). Not good enough, Sega.

On the subject of bosses, Sonic 4 suffers from The SuckySuck(TM) bit. That’s Irritating and Unnecessary Gaming Clich√© #1 on my list. For those not aware, it’s a Boss Rush just before the final boss. And is lazy.

Then there’s the homing attacks, which although sort of fit the game, shouldn’t really be there in the first place. They make an already easy game much too easy. However, due to the iPhone’s less than great touch controls, the attack did save me more than once.

Unforgiveable, however, are the bugs. Yeah, I seem to attrack bugs in games, but in fact they just annoy me more than most people who can just ignore them. The few minor ones I had (got stuck in a wall once, stuck in a rock once, glitched through loops multiple times, fell through a floor to my death once) weren’t too bad and are the sort of thing that happened in the original game occasionally too. The one that REALLY pissed me off, was on the end of game boss. His (presumably final) attack form took 5 or 6 lives to figure out a dodge for. Once I did, I dodged a couple of times, and then the game quit. That’s right – the game CRASHED on the end of game boss. Seems I’m not alone either – in searching for a fix, lots of matches on Google came up with the same problem – mainly for iPhone 3G devices, but also a few on 3GSeseses. Annoying. Very annoying.

Overall then, it’s nowhere near as bad as it could have been, and for about 50% of the game I was having fun. It’s a shame Sega didn’t reel in the crap bits, and actually put a bit more effort into making it a proper sequel rather than a rehash. Mind you, given past form, perhaps that’s for the best.

I certainly will not be buying the XBLA version on Wednesday.

Peggle Nights (iPhone): COMPLETED!

Since I’d never played Peggle Nights, but have completed Peggle on both the iPod Nano and XBLA, I thought I’d play Nights first. And… it’s just Peggle. Only with different levels.

After a couple of days play (doing levels here and there) I completed it. There’s not a lot to say, really, except that as before, it’s addictive and frustrating in equal measure. And is only 59p! Er, so long as you’ve already bought Peggle (which was also 59p) of course.

Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor (iPhone): COMPLETED!

T’other day, there was a big sale on the App Store, with loads of iPhone games reduced to 59p and ¬£1.19. S:TSOBM was one of those, and I bought it.

And so it came to pass, it was the second iPhone game I completed!

Took about 3 hours in total, I’d say. Yes, I could have done it quicker, but I tried to get every insect on every level, so it took longer. So there.

Perhaps I should explain the game? OK then. You’re a spider, and by using various swipes you can jump around the rooms and environs of the manor house, spinning webs (you draw the edges, and it fills in the middle) in order to catch flies and other insects. Once caught, you eat them, which gives you more silk to make more webs. Eat enough in a single room, and you move on. Simple!

There are many puzzle elements to the game, in both how you create the webs (spanning large gaps, for example) and how you work the insects into them (e.g. trip a light switch to coax the moths out), but with no time limit and, for the most part, more than enough silk, the levels are more relaxing than taxing. Unless you hate spiders or something.

Lovely game. Now to play the other game modes!

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (iPhone)

TONY HAWK. He’s the best guy ever! Well, maybe Tom Jones is better. Hmm. But he’s still GREAT, and his games (aside from RIDE, but we’ll just forget that one…) are GREAT. And THPS2 is one of the MOST GREAT games.

And now it’s on the iPhone!

Amazing!¬† Surprisingly, it works really well. Controls are great (and I generally hate virtual d-pads and buttons), and pulling off tricks isn’t any harder than I remember from the Dreamcast and PC versions. There’s a bit of slowdown (though I got that on the PC a lot too), but nothing game breaking.

So far, I’ve got all bar the 100% goal on the Hangar, and around a third of the goals in the School. And it’s lovely.