The Gods Must Be Lazy [Godville iPhone Game Review]

(written by guest author Tim Giron. follow Tim on Twitter @timgiron)

I picked up Godville when it first came out back in July (it’s free — iTunes link — so there is absolutely no barrier to entry), set up my deity account, crafted my hero and then promptly forgot about it. Perhaps I should have stretched the whole process out over 6 or 7 days – maybe then I would have had an inclination to meddle more in the affairs of men.



So, fast-forward to about three weeks ago (yes, I am asking you to fast-forward into the past, McFly), when my brother-in-law asked me "Have you played Godville?" After my quick retort of "Has anybody *really* played Godville?" I pulled up the app and lo and behold, my hero had been slaving like a Working Class Dog. So, I tossed him an encouragement and a punishment, ’cause I don’t need him going all soft on me and then read through his diary. As far as I can piece together (hey, the app doesn’t bestow omniscience, it’s free — iTunes link — remember) my hero, Dread Pirate Roberts, has been wandering the countryside, handing out cans of throwback whoop-ass to over fifteen hundred monsters, grabbing fistfuls of loot and yes, even dying 4 times (so it is quite possible he is now a zombie).


Some of the diary entries are quite funny. The player community’s suggestions and ideas are incorporated into the game’s text, so you’re not likely to see the same thing over and over. My current stats show that my hero belongs to the Zombie Hunter guild. I don’t recall choosing this, but it seems appropriate given my appreciation for all things zombie. At some point, my guild was Sweet Dreams, I can guarantee I didn’t choose that one.


The update that was just released last week adds several new features, including making the app Universal. I just loaded it onto my iPad and it puts the extra screen space to good use, combining several screens from the iPhone version into one. Another new feature just added is the GodWiki where you can get extra information related to the game.

The app is also available in Russian where it is called: Годвилль – I was hoping this was the Russian word for FartApp, but alas it is simply Godville. [iTunes Free]

If You Sudoku, Sudoku 2 HD Pro is For You [iPad App Review]

(written by guest author Tim Giron. follow Tim on Twitter @timgiron)

sudoku-2-iphone-title I think Finger Arts, the developers of Sudoku 2 HD Pro [iTunes $2.99] for the iPad (and Sudoku 2 [iTunes Free] and Sudoku 2 Pro [iTunes $2.99] for the iPhone/iPod Touch), may have missed a better name for these apps: Squeeeeeeee!doku.  This is based on a conversation I had earlier this week that went something like this:

My Wife (the Nth level black belt Sudoku master): "What are you playing over there?"
Me: "Oh, I’m checking out Sudoku 2 HD Pro to writeup for KRAPPS this week.  It’s also"
My Wife (notice that she is completing my sentence here): "available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I play it all the time, it’s my favorite Sudoku app."
Me: "Well, now, you can also play it on the iPad and it looks great"
My Wife: "Squeeeeeeee!"

See, there it is, product marketing gold.


Having played it a bunch this week, I can see why it’s her fave.  The app takes the familiar Sudoku game and gives it a friendly little spank in the form of a continuously decreasing multiplier that is used to generate a score.  And if you’re going to have a score, you might want to compare your high scores to those of Bob from accounting and Yuri the yak farmer from, um, wherever yaks are farmed, right?  You’ve got it, in the form of OpenFeint integration.


As I said before, the app looks great.  In the Pro version, there are three different board styles: Tiles, Classic and Glass and you can play in either landscape or portrait layout.  The free version doesn’t have the Glass style and can only be played in the portrait layout, but it’s otherwise the same game, giving you ample opportunity to try before you buy.


Lush ambient music and sound effects add to the enjoyment.

If you like Sudoku, I would definitely recommend giving this app a look, especially if you are playing on an iPad.  If you don’t currently like Sudoku games, the added elements of scoring and such should give you a reason to give this one a try.  It might just change your view of Sudoku forever.


The Gravedigger For iPhone – Human Or Zombie, Who Will You Be?

(written by guest author Tim Giron. follow Tim on Twitter @timgiron)


When I first heard that there was a game called The Gravedigger [iTunes $1.99], I presumed it to be monster truck rally kind of thing.  Then I heard that the game was developed by a group from Brazil and it features zombies which really piqued my interest.  Reading the description, I learned that you can play either as the humans or the zombies, so when I fired up the game for the first time, I decided to go the undead route.  This is accomplished by choosing the gravedigger’s side (vs the priest’s).


Choose quick game to get a feel for the controls with a simple goal: kill the priest before his followers kill the gravedigger.  The zombies fare better when they attack in groups, so you’ll want to build up a few before you send them off against the club, torch and gun wielding humans.  The gravedigger makes new zombies by tending to his graveyard, giving them a help up out if the ground.  You can also make new zombies by killing a human and turning them.  The priest appears to make new followers by visiting their homes and reading the bible to them.


In campaign mode, you are given a series of tasks to complete for each level.  In this mode, you can also recruit additional zombies by hanging around outside their houses.  I guess the inhabitants just all of a sudden up and decide to turn, because they’ll come out of the house ready for action.  If you don’t get to the house in time, you get angry mobs armed to the teeth instead.  In later rounds, your zombie minions will auto-attack anything that comes near, so you’ll need to pay attention or they will quickly get themselves into trouble.


The art and music for this game is top notch, but the gameplay feels a little clunky at times and a bit repetitive.  After playing several rounds, I expected to encounter new characters or at least new abilities and power-ups. The Gravedigger is available for $1.99 via the App Store.


Hey Soldier, You’re Looking a Little Sheepish – Saving Private Sheep [iPhone Game Review]

(written by guest author Tim Giron. follow Tim on Twitter @timgiron)


From the opening salvo of the old timey newsreel intro to the hilariously impossible to understand ovine leader, General Sheepard, to the sometimes dastardly difficult puzzles that comprise the gameplay, Saving Private Sheep [iTunes $0.99] by Bulkypix is a winner on many levels.


The game starts you off easy, with a few basic levels that outline the mechanics of attaining your goals.  Don’t be fooled by these introductory levels, however, the puzzles will quickly ramp up.  The basic idea is that you are presented with a sheep soldier that is resting upon a structure.  By carefully removing the elements that the structure is made of, you attempt to get the sheep onto solid ground.  One false move, however, and he’ll tumble over the side and be devoured by the wolves.  In later levels, the sheep must make it across chasms to reach safety, requiring careful and precise timing of falling elements.


There were several levels that took me multiple tries to get through (like the first time I had to flip the sheep into the air to get him to safety).  It is also important to pay attention to any levels where the General gives you pointers.  These levels introduce new concepts that are key to success, like when a wolf appears in sheep’s clothing which changes your goal to *trying* to dump the "soldier in disguise" over the side.


The military theme carries throughout as you move across the campaign battlefield map and try to achieve medals for your best scores.  The in-game music and sound effects also follow this theme.  Global leaderboards are available via OpenFeint integration.


The iPhone and iPod Touch version is just 99 cents [iTunes] with two additional campaigns available via InApp purchase for 99 cents each.  There is also an iPad HD version for $3.99 [iTunes], which I have not yet played, but it sports 20 new levels that were designed just for the device.


Say Yep! to Yipe! 5: Attack of Idle Hands [iPhone Game Review]

(written by guest author Tim Giron. follow Tim on Twitter @timgiron)

idle-hands-points If you like RPGs (the role playing games kind, not the rocket-propelled grenade kind) with a sense of humor, then you’ll want to check out Yipe! 5: Attack of Idle Hands.  It’s an old saying that "idle hands are the devil’s pawnshop" and here, Idle Hands refers to a demon that’s been terrorizing the land.  I haven’t yet met him in the game yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll need more than my current weapon, a rusty pitchfork, to get past him.

The Yipe! franchise has been around for quite some time with Mac and PC games dating back over 10 years.  The iPhone game gives you a full-blown, big feel adventure right in the palm of your hand.  The game is currently on sale for 99 cents [iTunes $0.99] and there is also a free version [iTunes Free] with an in app purchase to turn it into the full game.



You start out by choosing a character icon and then selecting one of three archetypes: Sneaky, Superhero or Brains, each of which highlights one of the traits of strength, dexterity or intelligence.  Once you’ve got your character built, it’s time to go adventuring.  Stopping by the castle for a quick chat with the king, he laments the state of his kingdom which is being overrun by zombie bunnies.  Since there’s gold for the brave adventurer who takes on the quest of the day, you sign up and then proceed to run amok.  Along the way, you’ll fight all manner of beasties and (hopefully) grab more gold and experience to level up.  If you can survive long enough, you can come back to town and upgrade your weapons and armor or buy some grub to sustain you on the road.  Yes, I have paused right in the middle of a fight to eat a cheeseburger and replenish my hit points!


The fighting is pretty straightforward and each character type has a few special skills that can be employed to give you an edge.  Hilariously, some of the monsters won’t even take notice of you if you are a lower level character.  You can choose to fight them anyway, but you will definitely lose.  Better to choose your early battles wisely, grab the loot and go shopping before you face off against the Monster Mouths or the Boss Zombie Bunny.


The storyline is well crafted, the art is top notch and the music and sounds add to the fun.  Normally priced at $1.99 [on sale – iTunes $0.99 or Free Lite Version], there’s a lot of entertainment for your gaming dollar here.

LandFormer – Puzzles Undisguised [iPhone Game Review]

(written by guest author Tim Giron. follow Tim on Twitter @timgiron)

Continuing in their tradition of delivering solidly entertaining games, Streaming Colour Studios recently released LandFormer [iTunes Free], a challenging puzzler for iPhone.  Even better, the basic game is FREE, giving you a chance to try it out before plunking down some scratch for the add-ons.


The game’s rules are deceptively simple.  You are presented with a 5×5 grid of tiles, each capable of 5 different terrain levels: deep water, river, field, hill and mountain.  Using six patterns, you raise or lower the tiles one step at a time until all are at field level.  Each step counts as a move and each puzzle has a stated number of moves required to accomplish the feat.  When you first start the game, a brief tutorial takes you through all of the game’s concepts.


The free game comes with 10 beginner levels which allow you to determine if this is your kind of game (it is decidedly my type of game!).  An additional 50 levels (easy, medium, hard and expert) are available for $1.99 via in-app purchase.  Another great feature in the free game is the ability to create your own levels, ingeniously implemented using the very same pattern tools.  Once you have crafted your masterpiece, you can share it with friends, challenging them to solve it in the same number of moves it took to create it.  The same Premium Content in-app purchase that provided the additional levels also gives you the ability to save your creations and those you receive from others.  I made up one I entitled "Donner Pass" which I exchanged with the developer while I was preparing my review.  Interestingly, he solved it in one fewer move than I took to create it, so I must have introduced an extraneous, superfluous move at some point and didn’t notice.  He indicated it took him a few tries to match the number of moves exactly, which is another level of challenge that the game presents.


Also available for in-app purchase is a Disco theme which gives the game a Studio 54/Saturday Night Fever spin by way of colorful, glowing tiles.  I just read on the developer’s blog that they are working on a City theme as well.  I hope there will be rats in the sewers!


I give the LandFormer [iTunes Free] high marks for originality and playability and a big plus for perfectly executing the freemium model.  The free version is entertaining in its own right and the additionally available content is top shelf quality.  I look forward to additional themes and level sets and I’ll be sending out some of my own to get friends hooked, too.


Vuvuzela Ate My Brain! – Pro Zombie Soccer for iPhone

(written by guest author Tim Giron. follow Tim on Twitter @timgiron)

When the zombies come for you (and they will), you must use your skills to their fullest to defeat them.  And if your skill is making wicked moves with a soccer ball, it would probably look something like Pro Zombie Soccer [iTunes $0.99], developed by Super Awesome Hyper-Dimensional Mega Team and released by Chillingo.


Similar to a tower defense setup, you control the character of Jax, who’s short on time since he may already be infected himself.  The story unfolds via beautifully delivered comic art cut scenes.  In the first rounds, you start off on "The Streets", armed with just a soccer ball.  The zombies approach from the right side of the screen, some moving faster than others and some just a little harder to kill.  You can power up your shot for extra killing effect and it’s never a bad idea to aim for the head.


As you work your way through the levels, you’ll pick up extra powers as well.  One gives you super-speed to get more shots off.  Another lets your soccer ball mow through a whole crowd of zombies before it returns to you.  Yet another lets you target multiple zombies for a laser blast from space.  Each of these powers comes in handy when things get a little crazy.  You get bonus points for using these extra powers to their full potential.


After you’ve mastered "The Streets", your next mission takes you to "The Scrapyard".  The first level of that set has you running headlong at the zombies while still controlling the soccer ball.

Near the end of each level, you will face off with a burlier "boss".  These take multiple shots to kill, so aim well and shoot quick.  Hilariously, at one point I scored a "Nut Shot".  I wasn’t fast enough to capture a screen grab of it, but it dropped that zombie right quick.


A recent update fixes issues with iOS 4.0 and a free companion app was just released, Pro Zombie Groan [iTunes Free] which gives you access to the various sound effects used in the main game app.


Currently priced at 99 cents [iTunes] to coincide with the FIFA World Cup, the app is normally $2.99, which is a great deal anyway when you consider the amount of gameplay you will experience.  The game looks great and plays decently, even on my 3G iPhone.

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