Jumpster, the first physics puzzler from the folks at G5 Entertainment, is now available from the app store. A departure from their usual hidden object adventures, Jumpster’s misnomer (Flingster might have been more appropriate) isn’t nearly as egregious a misstep as its overly aggressive IAP system.

Jumpster Pros:

– Colorful graphics and interesting puzzles

– Soundtrack is cheery and fun

– Controls are familiar and easy to use; aiming line allows for precise shots

– Achievements to earn

Jumpster Cons:

– Overly aggressive IAP system tries to sell you perks to the point of aggravation

– Rechargeable energy system creates a similarly annoying problem

– Costume purchases feel tacked on and unnecessary

Jumpster is an alien who springs a fuel leak when crash landing upon a strange planet. Your goal is to help Jumpster to retrieve his dispersed units of fuel, collecting up to 3 in each of its 80 levels while avoiding dangerous traps and weird enemies. This task is accomplished via a slingshot mechanic that allows you to fling Jumpster around the board, offering plenty of puddles and large raindrops to utilize for life-preserving power. Land Jumpster on dry ground for too long and he’ll suffocate, forcing you to restart. Often times, the solution to the level involves using on-screen objects like bouncepads and blocks to cross great distances or destroy obstacles that keep you from reaching your spacecraft and jetting off to the next level. It may not be all that difficult, but it is fairly fun, until the IAP pop-ups start showing up. Fail a level a few times and you’ll be offered the chance to buy your way past the level. Fail again and you get another offer to buy invincibility to spikes. Keep missing the mark and you’ll keep receiving additional offers. Like dealing with an obnoxious car salesman, we could only take so much before bailing for kinder and less pushy games. It’s fine to have IAP available, but don’t keep “reminding” me and “suggesting” that I shell out money.

The graphics style is decent, offering colorful and vibrant worlds to explore. The slingshot mechanic is familiar, and an aiming line allows you to fire with precision. There is no timer forcing you to complete levels within a certain time, but some obstacles (like swinging spiky balls) naturally force you to play quickly to avoid failure. Level design is decent, though we never felt overly challenged, making the game feel appropriate for a younger audience were it not for the constant temptation to spend their parents’ money when advised to do so by the frequent pop-ups. The soundtrack is cheery, helping to create an overall pleasing presentation. Replay value is low, as we could only deal with the IAP system for so long before we were left with a sour taste and the desire to delete forever from our devices. We also didn’t care for the energy system that forces gamers to wait for real-world hours to pass before continuing, lest you cough up more money. Coins earned in the game can be used to customize Jumpster’s look if you so desire, and there are also 20 achievements to earn. A universal app for free, Jumpster earns a 3-Dimple score which could have been higher had they simply taken a chill pill first.

Wild Blood Review

Wild Blood, Gameloft’s original IP based on the legend of King Arthur’s best-known knight, is now available from the app store.

Wild Blood Pros:

– Beautiful graphics and smooth gameplay utilizing a variety of environments and enemy types

– Soundtrack meshes well with feudal theme

– Fun RPG elements allow for upgrading of weapons and character stats across multiple attributes

– Exciting action and solid hack-and-slash gameplay

– Multiplayer option, as well as increased single-player difficulty upon replay

Wild Blood Cons:

– Camera and controls have issues

– Objectives can be unclear and video flyovers pretty much tell you exactly where to go

– GameCenter not utilized

You play as Sir Lancelot, who has hooked up with King Arthur’s squeeze, Queen Guinevere. The understandably upset King has employed sorceress Morgana to punish Lancelot, which she does in roundabout fashion by unleashing an army of hellish demons upon the land. It is up to Lancelot to vanquish the beasts and turn the tables on King Arthur and Morgana. You start in a village, taking on a few baddies at a time, easily defeating them with a few well-placed sword swipes. A caged commoner needs rescue here and there, and coins collected from defeated beasts and unattended chests can be used to upgrade your battle abilities or purchase potions that can keep you safe in pinch. Things are tame for a bit until you start battling demons who can take some additional damage, as well as fight back with forceful combos, ranged arrow attacks, and the like. A life-saving encounter with Gawain results in the acquisition of a longbow, which comes in handy in a few situations, but it proves ultimately too cumbersome to use in most battle instances. You soon meet up with Morgana in the form of a huge dragon, seek out the help of Merlin and others for various reasons, and even get to take on large weaponry for some castle defense action.

There are timer-based objectives to carry out (like smashing a portal before time runs out or getting through a gate before it recloses) and silly puzzles to solve (like moving blocks around to free an object and open a chest) that feel tacked on and out of place. The need to slide-to-unlock when attempting to breach gates also feels like extraneous fluff meant to make common tasks feel more game-like, though it comes off as unnecessary. The most intriguing aspect of the game is probably the RPG-like elements that allow you to improve and customize your weaponry using your collected loot. Each weapon has attributes like damage, critical, quicken, fire, ice, and lightning that can be upgraded or equipped. Additionally, Lancelot can upgrade his HP, MP, stamina, and speed, too. The way that you allocate money and the weapons that you choose to use can have a significant impact on how you play the game.

Graphically, the environments and battle action look terrific, providing hack-and-slash gameplay on par with other Gameloft titles like the Dungeon Hunter series. You have a health and mana bar in the upper left corner while a virtual joypad appears beneath your thumb in the screen’s lower left corner and a handful of small, tightly-packed buttons adorn the lower right corner. The buttons include attack, rush, dodge and skills attack, which is rechargeable and indicated as such by its perimeter slowly lighting up until the button’s icon reappears. The joypad felt a bit slow to respond and the positioning of the multiple buttons caused us to mis-hit on a few occasions. While Lancelot typically auto-targets the nearest baddie when you hit the attack button, there were times where you’d have to adjust his stance with the joypad. There were also plenty of occasions where the camera got a bit stuck too close to the action or it wouldn’t quite give us the desired viewpoint without a struggle, pulling us out of the game. The swiping action to change your viewpoint felt a tad on the slow side. We also found the text used in the game to be so small that it was often unreadable. The soundtrack was decent, offering tunes that you’d expect to accompany a feudal tale. Replay value is good, as replaying after completion allows you to attempt the game at a greater difficulty level. Additional attempts would also allow you to allocate coins differently when upgrading weapons and purchasing skills and spells. There is a multiplayer mode that allows you to battle it out with other players from around the world, which is a great deal of fun. The Gameloft Live! system is utilized for online matchmaking. A universal app for $6.99, Wild Blood racks up a 3.5-Dimple score.

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