iPhone Reviews: Plants vs. Zombies, Hungry Shark and Math Soldiers

iPhone Reviews

Something rad, something bad, and something with annoyingly repetitive music.

Plants vs. Zombies ($4.19)
”One of the best iPhone games around.”

This is an easy review to write: if you have an iPhone or iPod touch and need a game to lose yourself in, look no further than Plants vs. Zombies. Done!

Oh, you want more info? Fine. This is, at heart, a tower defence game, meaning you must strategically place a variety of different defensive barriers in an effort to keep zombies off of your lawn. Some plants have projectile attacks, while others act simply as barricades. By the time you’re a few levels in, the plant options available to you requires some serious planning if you want to keep the undead at bay.

This is a game that has been in development for several years, and it shows: Plants vs. Zombies is balanced and tweaked to perfection. If addiction can be distilled into video game form, then this thing can sit proudly alongside World of Warcraft. Just be careful who you show this game to – you might not get your phone back.

Hungry Shark ($2.59)
”Will leave you hungry for something better.”

This game is about survival: you are a shark who must constantly feed on the marine life around you, travelling through different areas in an eternal quest for anything lower down the food chain than you.

Did I say eternal? You’ll probably discard this one after a few minutes. Its main problem is its tilt controls: while they can be tweaked, they still don’t seem ideal for helping a shark navigate a 2D ocean. Hunting down fish, dolphins and even human swimmers becomes more frustrating than fun due to the controls.

And while there is a lot of sea to explore and random items to collect, you may find yourself not caring very much – it all feels the same after a while. The presentation also leaves a little to be desired. It’s not bad, but the style does seem somewhat bland – this game could have benefitted from a more cartoony, stylised look.

Hungry Shark isn’t totally awful – it’s just that there are many better games around for this price point.

Math Soldiers ($1.29)
”Fun distraction, but lacks variety.”

Math Soldiers is an interesting take on the new genre known as “combine match-3 puzzle mechanics with features from an entirely different game”. While technically it’s not a match-3 game, it does combine Chuzzle-like sliding puzzles with sending soldiers to their deaths to try and stop giant rampaging beasts. Good times.

It’s a fairly straightforward idea: you slide rows and columns of different unit types on a grid until you can put four of them together in a square. You then double-tap on the square to send that unit charging into the enemy.

While it’s actually a pretty neat concept, I got the feeling that the developers could have done a lot more with it. You can choose between a small number of easy and normal levels, as well as a ‘Serial Battle’ with a larger playing grid. Unfortunately, even though the levels aren’t numerous, you’ll still start feeling like you’re doing the same thing over and over again. Possibly due to a lack of user testing, there isn’t a smoothly rising difficulty curve, or introduction of new features to keep you interested. There are certainly attempts, but it all feels a little rough.

It’s a shame, as I really like the idea behind Math Soldiers – it’s just the execution that’s off. Oh, and what’s with the name? Maybe they should have sexed it up and called it Puzzle Slayer: Ruthless Defender of a Nation.

And one more thing: while the music isn't terrible, there isn't much of it. Mute it if you don't want to get driven crazy through sheer repetition.


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Comments Comments (4)

Posted by Srassy
On Friday 21 May 2010 8:40 AM
Hmmmm, Math Soldiers looks suspiciously like Patapon.
Posted by Sam
On Friday 21 May 2010 9:29 AM
Plants v Zomibies is off the chain my mate had it in a lecture the other day and I was considering getting an ipod touch just because of it
Posted by Phoenix
On Friday 21 May 2010 10:07 AM
21 May 2010, 08:40 AM Reply to Srassy
Hmmmm, Math Soldiers looks suspiciously like Patapon.
Holy crap, does it what!?
Posted by ChatterboxZombie
On Sunday 23 May 2010 12:24 AM
I swear that add for Lost Planet 2 was one of the games on the list