One silly, one strategic. Both fast and fun.
A couple of new iPad titles crossed my virtual desk this week: Chasing Yello, a game about chasing a beleaguered goldfish (or more accurately, escaping the sadistic little brat who wants to put you back in your bowl), and Lumicon, a word-building game that appears deceptively simple at the beginning, but ramps up like a mean game of Tetris towards the end. In most ways, they’ve little in common, but I was pleasantly surprised to find they were both fast-paced, and highly replayable (and not to mention affordable) titles.
hasing Yello comes to us from developer Dreamfab, who brought us the equally non-SPCA-friendly game Saving Yello, where the nasty little Mathilda spent the entire game throwing her goldfish Yello about the house, and basically wrecking everything inside along the way. In this sequel, poor Yello is making a go of escaping his crazed (yet creative) owner, and begins the game by leaping out of his bowl and into a nearby stream. Mathilda is hot on his heels, net in hand.
And so you play as Yello, moving your iPad from side to side in order to steer him, and performing the odd upwards flick on the screen to make him jump, or a downwards flick to make Yello dive. He’s got to avoid boulders, dive under logs, and most certainly steer clear of the piranhas. Along the way Mathilda grumbles and curses and swings her net, and it’s up to Yello to hang in there for the remainder of his journey through the level.
There aren’t just hazards along the way however. The stream Yello travels through is bedecked with thousands of stars, which Yello can collect by swimming/jumping/diving through. Collecting these allows players to buy new abilities for their fishy friend, with the extra ‘feature’ of being able to spend real-world money to buy more stars, if you are an impatient sucker. (Seriously, this is my most detested ‘addition’ to modern casual gaming.)
In any case, Chasing Yello proceeds at a great clip, and while it perhaps sounds like a game more suited to kids, the challenge factor of the game is still pretty high, and grown-ups will most certainly get a few good gaming sessions out of it. At $0.99 USD in the app store, Chasing Yello definitely falls into the category of “Cheap and Choice”.
umicon is a fast-moving word building game, built from a simple premise of taking letters from a gutter area, and dragging them up into one of seven rows, to combine with other letters and ultimately make a word. Every couple of seconds (at least initially), a new letter appears in the gutter, and once the gutter fills up completely, it’s game over.
Any word of three or more letters is considered valid, and is indicated with a white highlight on the screen. A simple tap on the highlighted word clears the tiles from that row and adds the basic points to your score. Simple, right? The strategy in the game however, is in building up multiple words that you can then clear all at once in a combo move, which has the benefit of increasing the points multiplier for the words (the multiplier increases for every extra word you clear in the combo), and in triggering different power-ups.
Power-ups are triggered once you get a combo of at least three words. At this stage a power-up is randomly displayed, which you can then activate at your leisure. That said, waiting too long to make use of the power-up isn’t advised, as this will be replaced at the next three-word combo you generate. There are power-ups to add a new random consonant or vowel to your gutter, to pause the gutter timer for a little while, and there’s one awesome ability that lets you clear the gutter of letters completely.
On top of this (the slowly increasing gutter-letter rate, and the increase in junk letters that you’ve put up in the rows, in a panic), occasionally letters will appear in the gutter that have a timer attached to them. If you don’t play that letter before its time runs out, that letter becomes effectively ‘dead’, unable to be used, but taking up precious space in your gutter area.
Like Tetris, the gameplay in Lumicon gets faster and faster (and at this stage the game is more about the repression of panic-mode) until the player ultimately loses. The challenge is in hanging on for as long as you can.
Lumicon’s currently going for $1.99 USD in the app store, and while there isn't a designed-for-iPad version available, the smaller-screened iPhone- and iPod-friendly title is totally accessible on the bigger screen. This is a must-have title for strategic thinkers.