Bookworm Heroes (iOS) review

Bookworm Heroes is a new iOS release from PopCap. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and carries additional in-app purchases.


Bookworm Heroes is an adaptation of one of PopCap’s older games, Bookworm, which has been around in one form or another since 2003. In practice, however, it’s not all that similar to the original Bookworm at all, save for the fact that it involves building words, and that it features the titular Bookworm named Lex as a mascot character.


Laboratz review

Laboratz is a Facebook game from French developer Adictiz. It’s available now for anyone to play on the social network, and showed up as the No. 2 emerging Facebook game last week.

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Laboratz is a virtual card game based heavily on the “Triple Triad” minigame from Square Enix’s 1999 PlayStation role-playing game Final Fantasy VIII, though no acknowledgement is given to its obvious inspiration. The game sees players collecting a variety of cards that depict cartoonish mutated rats and then using these cards to battle against other players. As the player progresses through the game, they will be able to obtain new cards and upgrade their existing ones.


Ugly Animals (iOS) review

Ugly Animals is a new iOS game from Cerasus Media. It’s available now as a free download for iPhone and iPad, and is currently featured as a New & Noteworthy app on the App Store’s front page. The game carries a single in-app purchase to unlock its full content and remove advertising.


Ugly Animals is a physics-based puzzle game in which the titular ugly animals (actually more monsters in most cases) must woo the ladies of their dreams by putting gift boxes in specific locations. Gift boxes, like most other objects in the game, are affected by the laws of gravity and physics, and thus must be sitting on something stable when placed on the marker in order to register as a success for the level.


Jelly Glutton review

Jelly Glutton is a Facebook game from Royal Cactus. It’s available now for anyone to play on the social network, and is currently showing up in the Trending section of the Games category on App Center.

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Jelly Glutton is a match-3 puzzle game that takes very strong cues from King’s immensely popular Candy Crush Saga. In other words, it takes a linear level-based structure with a variety of different objectives to complete, ranging from attaining a specific score in a set number of moves to clearing all of the “jelly” from a stage by making matches atop it. As the player progresses through the levels, they proceed through a number of different visual themes, all of which are food-based. This gives a degree of variety to the game’s aesthetic, if not the gameplay.


Fish Out Of Water (iOS) review

Fish Out Of Water is a new iOS game from Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride developer Halfbrick. It’s available now as a $0.99 download from the App Store, carries additional in-app purchases and is, at the time of writing, the Editor’s Choice game of the week.


Like most of Halfbrick’s other titles, Fish Out Of Water is a very simple game designed to be friendly to quick play sessions, but also not to limit the amount a player can enjoy in one go. The basic mechanics are perhaps the simplest out of all of the developer’s games: players have a selection of fish, and must “skim” them across the water in order to attain the highest possible combination of skips and distance with three throws. Each of the available fish have their own particular abilities — some skip a lot, others bounce high and are easier to make travel further — so it’s important for the player to learn how each fish handles and use them appropriately. Fish may be “boosted” by tapping on the screen while they are airborne, but the amount this can be done is limited by an on-screen meter. The boost meter may be replenished if the fish collects “boosties” — glowing orbs that are scattered randomly at various altitudes along the course. Once three fish have been thrown, a selection of crab judges, each of whom supposedly has their own “personality” and criteria for marking, scores the player’s performance out of ten. After this, the game begins again.


Quiz Buddies review

Quiz Buddies is a new Facebook and mobile game from Playdemic. It’s available now on both platforms, and features cross-platform play between the Facebook and iOS versions. The iOS version does not require a Facebook login to play — the game also features a proprietary username system whereby friends can compete against one another without requiring a connection to the social network. This review is based on the Facebook version of the game.

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Quiz Buddies is a simple asynchronous multiplayer quiz game that pits two friends against each other in an attempt to score as many points as possible over the course of five questions. The questions are initially all general knowledge, multiple-choice challenges, but as the player progresses through the game, they can unlock various themed question packs. These question packs may also be acquired by asking friends or paying real money.

Gameplay in Quiz Buddies is designed to be quick and easy to understand. Players must simply answer questions as quickly as possible, at which point they gain points if the question was correct, plus a bonus depending on how quickly they answered. This bonus can potentially double their winnings for a single question, and this score may be further increased by using a once-per-game powerup that doubles the score attained for a single correct answer. Two additional powerups are also available: one swaps the current question for a new one, and the other removes two incorrect answers, giving stumped players a 50/50 chance of guessing the correct one.


Take It Easy (iOS) review

Take It Easy is an iOS game from Ravensburger Digital. It’s available now from the App Store — its regular price is $1.99, but at the time of writing it is available for free as Apple’s App of the Week. The game has no additional in-app purchases.


Take It Easy is an adaptation of a board game that has been around since 1983, and has subsequently been expanded on by two slightly more complex quasi-sequels known as Take It Higher and Take It To The Limit. At heart, it is a simple mathematical puzzle game that can be played quickly by any number of players including solitaire, making it ideal for adaptation to mobile gaming.

The basic gameplay of Take It Easy involves randomly drawing hexagonal tiles and placing them on a hexagonal grid made up of 19 smaller hexes. There are 27 different tiles available to the player, so not all of them will be used in a single game. Each tile features three colored lines, each of which is marked with a number. Vertical lines may have a value of 1, 5 or 9; diagonal lines running top-left to bottom-right may have a value of 3, 4 or 8; diagonal lines running bottom-left to top-right may have a value of 2, 6 or 7. The aim of the game is to score as many points as possible by laying tiles in such a manner as to create unbroken lines across the entire board. If a line is unbroken, it scores the number of points of all its constituent parts added together — for example, a five-tile vertical line made up of 9s will score a total of 45 points. The key to success is in placing tiles that will allow multiple lines in different directions to be completed simultaneously — there is a degree of luck in terms of the tiles that are drawn, but for the most part the game is a strategic, skilful one that rewards careful planning.


Forbidden Garden review

Forbidden Garden (also known simply as Evil Game) is a Facebook game from Russian developer RedSpell and published by 6waves. It’s the follow-up to the company’s previous title Astro Garden (also known as both Nano Farm and The Big Farm Theory), which we reviewed here. It’s available now for anyone to play on the social network, and is currently featured on the front page of the App Center.

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Forbidden Garden is essentially the same game as Astro Garden, but with an “evil” twist. Players take on the role of a generic villain or villainess and must gradually build up their evil base to assert their dominance across the land while attempting to bring various evil schemes to fruition. This is achieved in largely the same way as in every other isometric-perspective building-centric social game out there — harvesting resources, constructing buildings to provide income, clearing garbage and gradually expanding across the land.

The core gameplay is not all that original or interesting, then, but like its predecessor, Forbidden Garden adds a few interesting twists to the mix. Once certain buildings have been constructed, for example, tedious tasks like harvesting resources can be automated, freeing up the player to go and do more exciting things. Other buildings open up new gameplay features — for example, constructing a library allows the player to research new technologies on a Civilization-style “tech tree” to improve their capabilities and capacity to do more things at once. Certain quests also advance the game’s unfolding story, which centers around the player character’s attempts to become a universally feared evil overlord.


SlotoLotto Slot Machines review

SlotoLotto Slot Machines is a new Facebook game from Peak Games. It’s available now for anyone to play on the social network, and is currently featured on the front page of App Center.

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SlotoLotto Slot Machines is a very conventional slot machine simulation that allows players to compete on a selection of 18 different virtual machines, though only one is available to begin with. The game opens with a completely unnecessary tutorial that simply points out things like the “spin” button and doesn’t really explain how the machine itself works — a simple help screen pointing out interface elements would have been better and got players into the game quicker.

Once past the initial tutorial, which is mercifully short, gameplay takes the form of some very straightforward multi-line slot machines. Players gain experience points for each spin, with more experience gained for larger bets. Leveling up sometimes unlocks new machines, and these later machines tend to offer a combination of more possible win lines and larger allowed bets per line. Leveling up also rewards the player with virtual currency bonuses — though as usual, virtual currency may also be purchased and acquired in small quantities through a regular timed bonus mechanic that counts down in the corner of the screen.


Cut the Rope: Time Travel (iOS/Android) review

F1UfBrSeRvFFBdr459AWlgCdoGINug75dT6-mlA6RVgCut the Rope: Time Travel is a new mobile game from Zeptolab, and the third in the popular physics-based puzzle series. It’s available for $0.99 on iPhone, $2.99 on iPad and for free on Android. This review is based on the iPhone version.

For those unfamiliar with the Cut the Rope series, they are simple physics puzzle games in which the player must drop a piece of candy into the mouth of a hungry green monster named Om Nom. The candy is typically suspended at an inconvenient place in the level by one or more ropes, so the player must determine which of the ropes must be cut by swiping through them in order to get the candy into Om Nom’s mouth. Further challenges are provided by gold stars scattered around each level, which the player must cause the candy to pass through on its way to Om Nom if they want to get the best scores.

Cut the Rope: Time Travel doesn’t deviate particularly far from this formula. The basic gameplay is the same, but the main difference is that in most levels, you’ll be feeding two Om Noms instead of one — one is the Om Nom from “our” time, while the other is supposedly one of his ancestors from the time period each of the sets of levels is based around. Both Om Noms must be successfully fed in order to pass the level.


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