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Developer: Softeq Development Corporation
Price: $4.99
Version: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Review Update: 11/14/2011, Version 1.8

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds: Minigame Adventure has seen a slew of updates since we last covered it, bringing the total number of mini-games up to 8 (out of 12). The four new games include Forever Autumn (Ep. 5) – a rhythm game featuring 12 different songs and two difficulty levels, Thunder Child (Ep. 6) – an action game that tasks players with defending civilian ships, The Red Weed: Part 1 (Ep.7) – a puzzle game reminiscent of Ataxx, and finally The Spirit of Man (Ep. 8 ) – another action game in which the Martians must be destroyed before they reach the Earth.

The developers have also noted that they’ll be releasing a free version in the beginning of December, which will give players access to the prequel episode at no charge. Additional episodes can then be purchased in-app.

Review Update: 9/15/2011, Version 1.3

Episode 3: Horsell Common and The Heat Ray has recently been added to the previous two mini-games, with strategy-based Episode 4: The Artilleryman and The Fighting Machine coming very, very soon. Now that a third of the promised twelve games are (almost) available, Softeq has stated that further updates will continue once every two weeks until the collection is complete. So if anyone’s been holding out now is the time to finally cave in.

H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi story has been adapted into many different forms of media, including several movies, that infamous radio broadcast, a pretty lame TV series and a musical. These run the gamut in terms of both format and quality, but they all portray the same themes: Invaders from Mars, the turn of the century, heat rays, tripods and unintentional germ warfare. Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds: Minigame Adventure (which I’m going to refer to without the “Jeff” through the “of” from now on) takes many of these individual themes and creates a self-contained mini-game experience around each one. At least that’s what it will do. At the moment ten of the twelve games have yet to be released.

Eventually, The War of the Worlds: Minigame Adventure will feature games ranging from beam-bouncers and “finding the object” to affairs such as heat beam dodging and land-grabbing. Right now, though, it only contains those first two. The Prequel is a short adventure game kind of puzzler in which players must use objects found in a handful of areas in order to gather other items needed for… well I won’t spoil it, but once everything is found there’s one final mystery to unravel. Story-wise, it takes place before the events of the book and offers a brief but very ominous glimpse of the impending conflict.

Then there’s The Eve of the War; a “use mirrors to bounce light from the origin point to the lens at the other end” game with a rather heavy Astronomy theme. This takes place right around the time the Martians begin launching their machines toward Earth. Each stage provides a set collection of mirrors and lenses, some of which aren’t needed, which are used to redirect the light from one end of the telescope to the other. Later levels (there are nine, total) also use sliders to position and turn the different implements, making a few of them surprisingly tough considering they’re featured in a mini-game collection.

As standalone games, both the Prequel and The Eve of the War are solidly built and just plain good. The illustrations are very nice and do a good job of reflecting the time period (around the 1890’s), the sound effects are appropriate and there are plenty of nods to the musical (obviously) in the soundtrack. Both offer unique challenges and vastly different gameplay styles, with The Eve of the War pulling ahead in terms of longevity and actual game-ness. Were they the sole content of this collection I’d more than probably take issue with the five dollar price point, but since there are ten more (ten!) on the way I’m actually rather excited to see where this goes. And if the general quality of these two mini-offerings is any indication, the rest of them will be a real treat.

So far the only real criticism I can level at The War of the Worlds: Minigame Adventure is it’s brevity. Both games currently on offer can be completed fairly quickly; probably in an evening if one had an hour or two to spend on it, and that’s mostly because the last few mirror puzzles can get pretty brutal. I absolutely understand and acknowledge that the content (and by extension the overall length) is going to increase as time goes on, but right now, as of the writing of this review, there are only two games available.

Even with a five dollar price tag and little more than an hour or two of entertainment value, I still think The War of the Worlds: Minigame Adventure is a worthwhile purchase. Yes, the current offerings are rather meager but they aren’t bad games. They’re just short. Technically it would be kind of a crap shoot to spend the cash since a good five-sixths of the content still doesn’t exist, but as I said, if what’s here is any indication things are only going to get better. Exponentially. It’s also worth noting that I intend to revisit this title once the final game has been released.

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