High Heel Kicker (iOS) review

High Heel Kicker is a new iOS release from 6waves and GungHo Online Entertainment, developers of Puzzles & Dragons, a game which proved very popular in its native Japan. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store.

High Heel Kicker is essentially a physics-based puzzler similar to Angry Birds with some role-playing game mechanics laid atop it. The result is a surprisingly good game, albeit one with a few flaws that spoil the experience somewhat.

The player takes on the role of a princess who is setting out to find her prince. On her journey, she encounters numerous monsters of various types, and must defeat them in order to proceed. In order to do so, she must kick members of her army over towards the monsters to damage and defeat them. Kicking them is accomplished in a similar manner to throwing birds in Angry Birds — the player “pulls back” as if they are firing a slingshot, aims carefully with the aid of an on-screen arrow and trajectory line showing the previous shot’s course, and then releases. Different types of unit have different special abilities that can be unleashed if the screen is tapped while they are in mid-air — swordsmen, for example, drop down with a devastating attack, while archers fire arrows downwards and forwards.

Every few levels, the player faces a larger boss monster, which must be defeated by attacking its weak points. Units that have been thrown continue to attack after each subsequent throw until the enemy creatures defeat them. This means that tactically positioning units with careful throws is an important part of the strategy to complete each level.

Between each level, the player can use collected experience orbs that are dropped as rewards for particularly effective shots to power up their units’ weapons and other equipment. Additional equipment can also be acquired by collecting special items and by playing the “slots” machine between levels, and herein lies the point where High Heel Kicker starts to lose a bit of focus. Between every level, the player is invited to play the slot machine with a rather obtrusive popup. Not only that, but every achievement brings up another popup inviting the player to share their accomplishments on Twitter and Facebook — functionality that didn’t appear to work properly at the time of writing. Given that early levels often see players fulfilling the conditions for several achievements at once, this can get very tiresome very quickly.

There are also a few flaws in the gameplay itself. Sometimes the action appears to “freeze,” allowing the player to scroll around the battlefield but not to take a new shot. When this happens, the player may scroll back to the princess and the usual interface for taking a shot appears, but tapping and dragging on the screen to prime the shot in the usual manner simply makes the screen scroll again. If this happens, the level becomes impossible to complete and necessitates a complete shutdown of the app and restart.

It’s a shame the game suffers these flaws along with some mildly obtrusive advertising (tapping the “Play” button on the title screen brings up a full-screen ad that must be dismissed manually) because there’s a good game underneath that successfully adds some depth to the Angry Birds formula. Right now, though, all of the above-mentioned issues just get in the way and actively spoil the experience, making this title a tough recommendation for the moment. With fewer nag screens and the player able to take greater control over whether or not they want to play the slot machine or share their accomplishments on social media, this could be a great game. As it stands now, however, it’s a flawed title that will put a lot of people off before they get to the goodness underneath.

High Heel Kicker is not listed on the App Store leaderboards at the time of writing, as it is a new release. Check back shortly to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.

Wait

Beneath the nag screens and obtrusive advertising, there’s a great evolution of the Angry Birds formula struggling to get out.

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