Monday, June 18, 2012

Michelin Game - Catapult King

There is no doubt that Angry Birds has been a phenomenal success in the video gaming industry. It is basically the best selling game ever on a mobile device and has reinvented the casual gaming genre.

Not only that, the game has been successful because it has a certain personality, so much so that merchandising of the Angry Birds characters is now on par with Nintendo's Mario and Sega's Sonic.

Yet, despite all these incredible successes, I have never grown to love Angry Birds. I like it, I think it is a fun game, but I can never get past a few dozen levels without getting bored.

And one of the reasons I have never been super ecstatic about Angry Birds is that I have always wished for a 3D version of the game, and while there have been a few games that have actually accomplished this ie. Bizango Blast and Siegecraft, they lack a certain personality and gameplay.

Well, Chillingo has finally found a remedy for me with their recent release, Catapult King. In Catapult King, the premise is simple. A princess has been captured by a dragon and your task is to bulldoze through various fortifications using only a catapult to aim at.

Beautiful, Bright And Cartoony

At your disposal are a various array of cannonballs which you can slingshot using your very elastic catapult. These range from a simple cannonball, to magical ones where they can split into multiple cannonballs to ones which on an additional tap, will send a hail of comets down on the hapless soldiers.

To fire a cannonball, it only requires you to pull back on the slingshot and release. You can aim by swiping left or right before you release and that's it. There is also a lever to adjust the height before you fire. The gameplay is easy and smooth, which is something that Siegecraft lacks.

64 Levels

Unlike Angry Birds, Catapult King renders everything in full 3D, and the point-of-view is also from behind the slingshot instead of sideways. This really gives you a great view of your targets and allows quite a greater degree of flexibility. It is also slightly harder to gauge your distance and height.

There are 64 levels in total for now, with more levels being promised in future updates. Like games of this nature, each level is scored based on 3 ratings, but instead of stars, you are awarded according to either bronze, silver or gold.

In addition, you are given additional gems and points based on what and how soldiers and objects are taken out. This essentially gives a lot of replay value as you can always try to retry each level to gain a better score and rating.

Full Of Personality And Attitude

The graphics are bright and colorful for the most part, and has that fairy tale and cartoony tone to it. The soldiers, especially, are well animated and they are full of taunting and teasing animations, including one which they will show their fannies to you to try to wind you up, in an amusing manner.

The level design is probably one of the highlights of the game, as there seems to be a lot of variation between levels. Perhaps the 3D nature has something to do with this, but in essence, I never seem to get the feeling that the levels are repetitive, and the levels themselves may occasionally seem impossible, but with a little experimentation and brainwork, there is always an elegant solution.

There is also an additional in-app option for you to purchase additional magic points to purchase those magical cannonballs, but I found this not necessary to advance in the game. You can also purchase an option to unlock all the levels at once, but again I found it unnecessary.

Addictive And Fun

As a game, Catapult King is fiendishly fun and addictive and even on the Retina iPad, the graphics move at a very smooth framerate with little hint of a slowdown. My only gripe is that on the iPad, it is a bit harder to play in portrait mode and would have loved to see this in landscape versions as well.

It is universal, and has all the necessary Game Center achievements and leaderboards, and gaining high scores is one of the main reasons for returning to this game. It may be derivative and lack a certain sense of originality, but it sure is great fun.

Catapult King is a perfect IOS casual game that encapsulates great graphics with great fun. It is also indicative of how far reaching iOS gaming has perpetrated into the masses, and how far casual gaming has become the mainstream for most people nowadays.

Catapult King (US$0.99) - Click here to download the game.

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