Dragon Fire: Una’s Quest
It is becoming increasingly clear which new applications are designed with next generation handsets, such as the iPad and iPhone 4, in mind and, with its high definition graphics and expansive stage area, Dragon Fire: Una’s Quest is certainly one of them. This retro top down shooter contains all the quality you’d expect from a well designed internet flash game, which is pleasantly apparent from the first launch as crisp, bright colours and slick animations light up the screen.
This attention to high end graphics, however, is also its biggest downfall. Handsets earlier than the iPhone 4 will simply struggle to cope with the demand of the game, particularly in moments when there are lots of powerups and enemies on screen at once. Because of this, it makes the game almost unplayable as your dragon jumps sporadically around the screen, ignoring your instructions completely while you furiously hammer on unresponsive phantom buttons, while trying to avoid the alarmingly accurate fireballs heading for your face.
It may have proved more effective if the game had utilised the tilt function, or in fact, if the player simply shouted loud instructions into the microphone like ‘Why aren’t you working you stupid dragon? Fly left!’, or failing that, attempted telepathic communication by straining so hard you burst the blood vessels in your temples in the hope it might obey even a single command.
Having said this, it is abundantly clear that with a handset capable of running Dragon Fire: Una’s Quest to its full specifications, it would be an entertaining and enjoyable game. The bright colours, imaginative enemies and quick gameplay would undoubtedly prove a fun and addictive experience. For users of lowly generations of the iPhone like myself, it is less of a pleasant time waster and more a sure fire way to give yourself a stress related brain haemorrhage.
One of the most exciting facets of mobile gaming, especially on the iPhone, is the speed at which the quality of games is progressing. When classic games like the fantastic Monkey Island and Streets of Rage make their way into the App Store, you know the future is getting interesting. With Grumps, the latest release from OpenFeint, however, it is an unwelcome step backwards.
It’s hard to describe just how abysmally poor this game is without a mug of faeces for a visual aid. The guys from OpenFeint have noticeably attempted to capitalise on the ‘simple is better’ concept popularised by games such as Doodle Jump and Angry Birds, by welcoming any designer whose games posses the complexity of a paint by numbers colouring book. Grumps is no exception.
The objective of the game is to collect as many falling coloured smiley faces as possible while avoiding the angry looking ones. At intervals of 10,000 points both the background and the character you’re moving change colour and the speed increases. That’s it. Worse still, the graphics are shabby and unappealing, the music is rage-inducingly annoying and for some inexplicable reason, the character you control is poorly rendered in 3D, which looks as out of place against the cartoon aesthetics as an alopecia fundraiser hosted by Russell Brand. For a game charging 59p for the privilege to play it, this is unforgivable.
Grumps is a game without a single redeeming feature. It is so earth-shatteringly terrible if it was the first thing a coma patient played when they woke up to the modern world after twenty years, they would reach for the nearest scalpel and sink it into their jugular.
The frustration you feel while playing the game is increased exponentially if you have ever followed a tutorial for game coding in Macromedia Flash, as this type of avoid/collect format is painfully easy to create. Just to show you how simple this is I created one, and I know as much about flash as I do about the inner workings of a cow’s vulva. Admittedly, it comes without music and extra backgrounds but these could easily have been added if I hadn’t been cooking dinner, cleaning the house and preparing my asphyxi-rope with my spare hand.
It’s hard to believe looking at the simple colours, terrible drawings and worse coding but my GreenFingers game is actually more enjoyable than Grumps. It’s infinitely more challenging, more exciting and when you finally complete it, you feel satisfied. Now, if an amateur-made game with the coding complexity of a satsuma and the visual appeal of a rectal prolapse is better than a professionally published iPhone game, it should be proof enough that Grumps is one app really not worth the money. Better still, take that 59p, spend it on a bus journey to the developer’s studio and slam their fingers in the door so they never make anything like it again.