Halfbrick makes some pretty great games. Games like Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride. In fact, I’m betting there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already played many (if not all) of their games. But if you haven’t, now is the best possible time to fix that.
Are the fine people at Halfbrick rather angry? Their last game, Colossatron, was about destroying humanity as a giant serpentine robot. Bears vs. Art can’t escalate on that concept, but it does try to go for something a bit higher-class: namely, destroying art as a rolling bear. The game’s currently in its soft launch phase, so I put on my monocle for this edition of It Came From Canada!
Players control a bear who hates art because museums wrecked his home, so he goes to various museums and wrecks up their paintings – and occasionally the snooty patrons there. Makes plenty of sense. This bear prefers to get around by rolling in the cardinal and ordinal directions, perhaps because he’s a big fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, and he can only roll in a straight line. There are also a number of parameters dictating just how many times the bear can roll in a level, or how much time there is to complete it. Okay, now we have stepped deep into video game logic.
Most levels just feature the bear and the paintings on the wall to destroy, but patrons are a frequent occurence. The patrons behave chaotically, though with certain rules: they always move if the bear gets near them. Thus, this requires an intelligent approach to taking them down; though if time and moves are a factor, this can be rather difficult. This is a system I’d be kind of wary of since it seems like it could be a real energy-drainer, but Halfbrick’s a reputable enough company that I would trust to not use this kind of system against players.
So, the levels become about figuring out the proper sequence to solve the various puzzles. Some paintings require rolling from a specific spot. Being able to roll diagonally really opens up the puzzle design. The introduction of timed levels, and ones where players must try to take out patrons and thieves (or even avoid them!), add even more variety, especially as levels start to blend each type together.
This game gets a lot of clever details right. For one, it’s legitimately pretty funny – from its rhyming storybook intro, to all the bear-themed art that can be destroyed. There are some art history students who made this game – perhaps disgruntled ones – because of all the parodies of real paintings and pretentiously-named modern art pieces that can be destroyed. Oh, and the destruction occurs by the player slicing up the paintings in a Fruit Ninja-esque way. The dialogue before some levels from the snooty patrons is often quite humorous and at one point self-aware that these museums were built without doors for some reason.
The game is ruled by an energy system, though energy gets refunded for completing a level successfully. There are coins to be earned and costumes with different effects to buy with them, along with extra turns and rage mode. There are permanent turn and time additions, but they come at rather expensive costs: $14.99 each as of the soft launch. The energy bar is lengthy, but later levels start to use more than one unit of energy and it refills very, very slowly. Like “16 hours of waiting didn’t refill it all the way” slow.
Of course, since it’s a soft launch these could all change as time goes on, and it’s quite possible they will. Free-to-play requires some exploration to see what works, and this game feels like it could be enjoyed long-term for free, so paying customers may need to shell out more for the game to be financially viable. Still, time will tell how players will take to it.
Halfbrick has released a new live report from Action News 6 as lead anchor Rick Dalton provides more breaking news on the Colossatron. The gigantic robot snake is blowing up everything in sight as it makes its way across the planet, causing major problems for general Moustache. Apparently, the Colossatron can use the damage it creates to its advantage by repairing and upgrading itself. The report also talks about General Moustache’s newest toys that are being used in the battle, including high-tech gunships and super tanks.
Colossatron: Massive World Threat is scheduled to be available before the end of the year.
Colossatron: Massive World Threat continues to get closer to its chaotic and destructive release, which is still set at sometime in 2013. For now, lets turn it over to the reporters at Action News 6 who are covering the havoc up-close. Field reporter Katie Hazard is catching up with General Moustache, discussing the capture of one of the Colossatron’s Power Cores. Tune in now by clicking the video below!
Halfbrick’s first published title is Band Stars by Six Foot Kid, a free-to-play band manager that shows some promise, or at worst the ability to be amused by random name generators. First seen back at GDC, it’s available right now in Australia, the native country of both developers. I take it for a spin in this installment of It Came From Canada Australia!
The first step to creating a great band is to get a cool-looking band with an awesome name – with nary any great ideas coming to my head, I hit the random name generator a few times, and it came up with “The Black” – simple, succinct, and totally metal. Let’s do this. The goal is to make the band rich and famous by coming up with popular songs, training the band to be better at what they do, and hiring new people to replace the terrible old ones.
Songs are created by assigning band members of different stats to different tasks – imagine the job rankings from Tiny Tower playing a more active role. The band members of Band Stars are multitalented in a way that actual pop stars are often not, being singers, songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, and even willing and able to mix their own tracks. That they even need a manager is kind of a surprise.
Also surprising is that their only real bad habit seems to be energy drinks. Every action undertaken with a band member drains a bar of energy, which can be refilled by letting them rest on furniture or instantly replenished with energy drinks. At least the energy system makes sense as a limiting mechanic here in that a character is actually doing something in-game, rather than it being an arbitrarily-defined limit.
There’s plenty of things to spend the two currencies on. Coins are spent on permanent things like hiring new band members, buying items, and training sessions. Inspirado is used during solos to help raise certain point values on the songs as they’re being created.
How interesting this is long-term and if the monetization gets annoying are still to be seen over time as the game nears worldwide release. Until then, check out footage below of the early days of my band, The Black:
Halfbrick announced the first gameplay details today for its upcoming game, Colossatron: Massive World Threat. In this title, players will be dealing with fast and action packed gameplay as they control a robotic snake known as Colossatron. Success in this title is met by the amount of damage that is caused, leading to high scores that players can compare through social features.
Keep an eye out for more information about this giant robot snake that crash landed on earth, leaving nothing but destruction in its path. Also, give the trailer a viewing!
Halfbrick (Jetpack Joyride) gave us an early look at its new Game Dev Story meets Rockband game, Band Stars. Choose a genre, band members, and lyrical topics to create hit songs and build your following. Train musicians, keep them well supplied with energy drinks, and you’ll have a dream team rockin’ in no time.
Fruit Ninja is about to get its biggest update yet to celebrate its second anniversary on Thursday, May 24th. The key new element in the game appears to be that players will now be able to earn an in-game currency, called starfruit, that can be used to buy new powerups from new characters Gutsu and Truffles, introduced in the new trailer produced by People’s Republic of Animation. Powerups and new “super fruit” like berry blasts will be available to help players raise their high scores. New powerup peaches will add extra time to Arcade and Zen modes, making higher scores even possible. As well, a new bomb deflect powerup is available for skilled ninjas.
As well, in celebration of this new update and the 2-year anniversary of the game, Fruit Ninja is temporarily being given away for free from their Fruit Ninja Anniversary page, where a promo code for the iPhone/iPod touch version can be generated for a limited time. The update will arrive for both versions of the game this Thursday.
Jetpack Joyride‘s 1.3 update is still in the works, and Halfbrick continues to roll out teaser trailers showing off some of the new gadgets that will be made available. The latest animated teaser is for the Gravity Belt. While its effects are still somewhat unknown, it appears as if gravity will greatly increase while using this belt. Will this make it easier to fall to the floor when up high, helping those runs go up even longer? We’ll soon learn just what exactly it does, as the update is scheduled to hit this month. The only other of the 15 total gadgets revealed so far are the Air Barrys and the Freeze-O-Matic, each with their own teaser trailer. Any two Gadgets will be usable together, though they will unlock in tiers of three each. So until this major update finally hits, keep collecting those coins, and get ready for the Gadget onslaught.
Halfbrick, developers of the immensely popular Fruit Ninja games has announced a lineup of brand new licensed Fruit Ninja products from a number of partners. These new products will include key chains, toys, plush figures, card and board games, headwear, bags, apparel, underwear, phone cases, calendars, fruit snacks, stickers, posters, and other odd and ends.
While it’s not yet clear exactly what these products will be when they are all realized, the prospect of Fruit Ninja card games and underwear is interesting to say the least. These products will be produced through a number of partners and will begin to roll out this week. As of yet, no announcements have been made concerning the cost of any of the products or where they will be available for purchase.
“For the first time, we’re creating characters and personalities around the fruit that players slice through,” says Halfbrick CEO Shainiel Deo, commenting on the new products. “I’m confident that the Fruit Ninja community will love these products.”
The votes have been tallied and the people have spoken. Jetpack Joyride is 2011′s Best App Ever.
Halfbrick’s latest title was one of the most-hyped iOS games of the year: we were reporting on it back in March when the game was originally known as Machine Gun Jetpack. Back then, the concept was the same: Halfbrick protagonist Barry Steakfries flies at a high speed through tunnels on a jetpack that fires bullets so quickly that it propels him upward. It’s the kind of concept that’s completely ludicrous but instantly intriguing. After all, when it was just a powerup in Monster Dash, it was entertaining enough, but now a full game is built around it? That’s exciting. Afterward, the game became more extensive, adding a variety of new jetpacks and powerups along with the eponymous jetpack.
So what made Jetpack Joyride such a hit? Maybe it is that the game is extremely easy to get into. The controls require no real explanation, just tap to go upward, let go to go downward. No virtual buttons were necessary at all, just tap anywhere on the screen. It works perfectly on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
But it’s also the way that it compels players to keep playing that makes it so addictive. The objectives compel players to play the game in a particular way, and to make a specific session have a goal to it, from trying to skim so many red lights, to running on the ground for so long. They introduce variety to a game where the goal is the same each time out: get as far as possible without dying.
Jetpack Joyride‘s use of currency is also especially modern: gaining coins for upgrades and new costumes is something that a variety of games are doing now, but is one that Jetpack Joyride excels at. There are the different levels of items to buy, from the simple costumes and jetpacks to buy (who doesn’t love a Fruit Ninja-inspired jetpack?), to upgrades for the powerup vehicles, to finally the extra-distance bombs and second chance lives for high rollers. These generally require money to purchase reliably, but they can be earned in the game itself through the tokens collected and used in the slot machine.
In many ways, the game is about luck, as sometimes a high score requires that a second chance be earned in the slot machine, or a powerup be earned at the right time, or even just that a laser barrier show up a pixel later in order for the player to not die. It can be frustrating, but the fact that luck could easily turn back in the player’s favor is part of what makes chasing that high score so gratifying.
But if all these secondary elements were taken away, if there was only one jetpack and no upgrades, no coins, nothing but pure skill involved, then it would still be one of the best games of the year. It’s just that simple to get in to, and that desire to play just one more time, dive into just one more session is based not just on a desire to earn more coins, it’s because the game is fun at the heart of it. Plenty of games have snazzy costumes and upgrades to unlock, but they aren’t as addictive as this one is.
In many ways, the success of Jetpack Joyride is exactly like how Fruit Ninja has succeeded from a gameplay standpoint. Both are games that are not limited by the touchscreen, as both use direct input for control. Fruit Ninja has 1:1 actions with the tracing finger on the screen, and Jetpack Joyride responds whenver the finger is on the screen. They are not held back by the need for virtual buttons, and that direct user interaction is part of why the games have been such smash successes, and why people voted Jetpack Joyride 2011′s Best App Ever.
In fact, the success of Jetpack Joyride is currently resonating throughout the App Store. Games like Sea Stars and Seal Force both take obvious direct inspiration from Jetpack Joyride in not just gameplay but in structure. The endless runner is certainly very popular nowadays too, as Temple Run‘s current success attests to.
I personally have had great experiences with the game. I first got to play it about a week before it released, which was also a day I had jury duty on. Jury duty was not very fun, but getting to play Jetpack Joyride during any chance I had to take a break? My growing addiction to the game was probably more memorable about that day than being selected for a long trial. It’s the power of gaming, and it’s the fun that a game like Jetpack Joyride can provide that can be memorable, and it’s why it is a worthy choice as Best App Ever of 2011.
We got our paws on this overhead racer back in March at GDC. We were pretty impressed with the game then, and we still like what we see. Today marks the day of the game’s actual release, and we couldn’t be more excited to take it out for a spin.
Mini Motor Racing is a retina-display-ready isometric top-down racer made for iOS devices. There are over 20 of tracks and locations, as can be seen below in the screenshots. In addition, players can upgrade the four different car types (sports, hatch, big-rig and pick-up) with a variety of different add ons like grip, top-speed, acceleration and nitro.
But wait, there’s more. Mini Motor Racing has a special Fruit Ninja themed buggy and track. FRUIT NINJA!!! Says The Binary Mill, “The Halfbrick folks are located very close to the Mini Motor Racing team from The Binary Mill, and they’re good friends — resulting in this fun addition.”
Also, there will be holiday themed cup where players can race as Santa himself, steering a souped up version of his sleigh! Both track add-ons are available as un-locks for players progressing through achievements in the game’s career cup circuits.
All in all, these are very exciting additions to an already exciting game. Grab it right away and stay tuned for a review coming soon – The iPhone/iPod Touch version sells for $1.99 USD and the HD iPad version is $3.99 USD.
Fruit Ninja is just winding up everywhere, which seems appropriate for a game where fruits are routinely destroyed. As comedy legend Gallagher taught us, destroying fruit is messy and it just gets everywhere. Like Fruit Ninja‘s reach, which is now popular enough to inspire plush toys based on the game. There’s not only a toy for the Sensei, but there’s also a half-sliced watermelon with eyes. They’re happy, cute eyes, not the eyes of sadness and regret that should be directed at one who would so callously attempt to slice them in half. Created in cooperation with ToyFoundry, the Sensei and watermelon are now available from the Fruit Ninja online store.
But still, Fruit Ninja is a game first and foremost, and besides a brief interlude with Puss in Boots, there has yet to be a true sequel to the game. The operative word there is yet, as according to noted gaming publication, the Illawarra Mercury, Halfbrick is now opening up a studio in Sydney, Australia. This studio is going to make the next version of the Fruit Ninja series. It sounds like it’s going to be a departure from the other games in the series, as now the fruit will be on the attack against those reckless fruit-slicing ninjas. According to Australian Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, “The new game will involve players launching a series of fruit to knock ninjas off their towers in a 3D world, with each fruit having special powers.” While Australian politicians leaking details about unannounced games is new, the mobile gaming industry is all about new frontiers!
The game is due out sometime in 2012, and will launch first on iOS before spreading out to other platforms. This will be a title to keep an eye on, considering the franchise’s already massive popularity. This new gameplay style will be interesting to see how it works compared to the current game. But from the sounds of it, that cute sliced watermelon might just be able to get his revenge just yet.
Barry Steakfries, Halfbrick’s erstwhile and versatile wisecracking protagonist, is back in a special re-release of his debut game to take advantage of new iOS features. Age of Zombies Anniversary is especially designed for Retina Display and iPad devices. While the game was universal before, and remains on the App Store as the preferred version for earlier generation devices, the Anniversary Edition’s artwork has been redone for high-resolution screens. This version of the game also supports iCloud for game save and stats syncing across devices. Most importantly, the game has a new Wild West level, which seems awfully overdue for a game involving time traveling and killing zombies in different eras of history. These new levels take place after the regular end of the game, and come with a new survival mode to boot. Most importantly, there’s now a zombie t-rex wearing a party hat. This re-release, for 3rd generation and later devices, is now available at a sale price of $0.99.
Buttonless: Incredible iPhone and iPad Games and the Stories Behind Them is coming out December 21 (and available for pre-order now) to bookstores and online retailers everywhere. It’s a book about iOS games and their stories by Ryan Rigney, a freelance journalist who has covered the video-game industry from every angle for publications and sites including Gamasutra, PC Gamer and GamePro. We managed to talk with him for a bit about the inspirations for the book, among other things. Click through to the post for the interview AND an exclusive chapter from the upcoming book, all about Fruit Ninja.
Spry Fox Games are at work on a follow-up to their Flash, iOS and Android turn-based strategy game Steambirds. The original iOS version was developed in part by Semi Secret Software, makers of games like Canabalt. Now, they’re working on a new iteration of the game, and have partnered up with another major indie developer on this new version of the game. Entitled Steambirds: Survival, this sequel to the original Steambirds is being co-developed by Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride developers Halfbrick.
This sequel to the original game features similar turn-based strategy gameplay. Players chart a course for their planes to fly, with the goal being to take out enemy ships, using powerups to help achieve this goal. All ships move and commit their actions at the same time. The game takes place in an alternate history steampunk-inspired universe, where players must try to lead UK planes against the Axis forces. While the gameplay appears at first to be similar to the original, at least in terms of core mechanics, this game focuses on endless survival levels instead of pure level completion. However, the mobile version is claimed to be a different game from the Flash version, with a mission-based structure, and a variety of new media and gameplay elements.
The game will be free to play as well. The Flash version, playable for free on Spry Fox’s Steambirds website, uses an in-game currency for buying new planes; the mobile versions will likely use a similar setup. It would be likely that coins will be able to be purchased through the app to speed up the process of buying new planes. The game is set to release in early October for iOS devices, with no word yet on an Android release. Until then, check out some screens and a trailer for the game.
Halfbrick’s latest original game for iOS, Jetpack Joyride, finally has an official release date. The game will release worldwide on September 1st, next Thursday. This is still technically a summer release as was originally promised when the game was announced. Halfbrick has also renamed the game from Machine Gun Jetpack to Jetpack Joyride because they felt naming the game after just one type of jetpack was now inaccurate as the game has grown and expanded past just the machine gun jetpack. This endless game has players using their various weaponized jetpacks to avoid airborne perils and take out enemies on the ground, collecting tokens that go toward upgrades and new jetpacks.
While the formerly eponymous machine gun jetpack is still in the game, it is no longer the focus of the game, as a wide variety of jetpacks have been added. A jetpack that shoots rainbows? I do not jest! It is one of many different types of armaments that players will have access to in the game, and can be purchased in the game. The game will feature a mission system where players get more tokens for completing certain tasks, as well as online leaderboards through Game Center and stat tracking of players’ performance over time.
Jetpad Joyride will be available on September 1st for $0.99 with universal app support. The video also goes in to what they do to make the game look nicer on the Retina Display and the iPad, particularly the smoothing of the pixel art on the higher-resolution displays. This smoothing may be necessary due to a lot of the source artwork being from Age of Zombies, a game originally released on lower-resolution screens. Check out a new developer diary video below featuring footage of the final game, as well as some new screens of the upcoming title.
Sometimes, all I need to sell me on a game title is a few simple details. When Halfbrick announced a game at GDC this week called Machine Gun Jetpack, with recurring protagonist Barry Steakfries from Age of Zombies and Monster Dash, I was immediately intrigued by this game. Of course, my editor wouldn’t appreciate it if I just submitted an article with that information alone, so out of the necessity of being actually informative to you, our loyal, valuable, and intelligent readers, here’s the skinny on this new game from the developers of Blast Off, Fruit Ninja, Monster Dash, and Age of Zombies.
Machine Gun Jetpack is an endless runner game, where Barry Steakfries pilots the eponymous machine gun jetpack (first seen in Monster Dash) and wreaks havoc on his enemies, all while trying to avoid the obstacles in his way, like lasers and missiles. If Monster Dash’s controls were too complicated for you, then you’ll be glad to know that Machine Gun Jetpack simplifies the controls down to one button to fire, which also will send you flying upwards, as your machine gun jetpack is so powerful that it lifts you off of the ground. Well, if that is somehow not enough for you, then you also have other weapons to use, such as a Gravity Suit, a Badass Hog, a mech suit called the Lil’ Stomper, and the eptly named Crazy Freaking Teleporter. Because, if you’re going to have a teleporter, you might as well call it a crazy freaking teleporter.
The game also lets you collect coins to spend on a variety of upgrades, promising things from top hats, to double shields, and, according to Halfbrick themselves, “a jetpack that looks like a shark’s jaws and shoots bullet teeth.” This game seems so gleefully over the top, it’s hard not to get interested in it. As well, the game will be universal for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. The game isn’t scheduled to hit until early this summer, so there’s a ways off to go before this game. However, given Halfbrick’s impressive track record on iOS, this might be one worth getting excited for.
Halfbrick, the developer behind Fruit Ninja, has reason to be proud. The fast-paced fruit-slicing game has won many hearts. Our own Carter Dotson, reviewing the HD version, wrote that “The game is simple and addictive. It’s the kind of basic mechanic anyone can pick up and enjoy in seconds, and keep playing for hours, especially in Zen mode, where the quest for high scores can keep you playing for long periods of time.” Fruit Ninja has apparently won over App Store customers as well, and is now celebrating its 6 millionth sale.
But how exactly should Halfbrick celebrate? Apparently, they want to make amends. Luke Muscat, lead designer of Fruit Ninja, remarks that without growing fruit, there won’t be any more fruit to slice! The press release continues:
To celebrate the sales and make amends for fruit death worldwide, Halfbrick has partnered with the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation to help give something back to juice lovers. Yep, there is a charity specifically dedicated to growing fruit! The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation plants orchards around the world to benefit communities and the environment. Halfbrick has committed to sponsoring a fully functioning orchard in a low-income Native American community as part of FTPF’s Reservation Preservation program. The harvests will not only provide fresh, healthy sustenance but also income for the long-term benefit of the tribe.
A little whimsical? Well, naturally (have you seen Fruit Ninja?). However, sponsoring an orchard sounds like a great way to mark a milestone, as it not only resonates with Fruit Ninja’s theme but hopefully can make an impact as well. The developers promise that you’ll be able to monitor the orchard’s progress through their blog. Halfbrick is also teasing that some new content for the game itself is in the works. Mm, tasty.
Congratulations to Halfbrick for hitting 6 million—and for coming up with such a creative way to celebrate it!
Fruit Ninja has consistently been one of the best-selling and most beloved gaming apps available on the iTunes Store, and now this super-entertaining game has gotten even more addictive with the addition of a brand new mode. The game, both in standard and iPad HD varieties is getting support for a brand-new Arcade mode, which looks to be highly entertaining. Among the new features included are:
Double Points – This banana will award you double points for a short period of time. Criticals and combos count too, so rack up those fruit for some massive scores!
Frenzy – If you’re not content with the amount of fruit on screen, the Frenzy banana will take care of that. A mammoth amount of fruit will begin flying in, but you have to stay focused to slice it all!
Freeze – The entire screen will slow down, allowing for maximum accuracy and combo potential!
Each round in Arcade mode lasts for 60 seconds, and at the end you can post your scores and see how you stack up with other members of the fruit slashing community. It’s very similar to other Arcade style games such as Bejeweled Blitz, and we all know how ridiculously addictive and popular such games can be. When you’re tired of cutting the rope why not go back to cutting the fruit, but this time with a frenzy?
Now that the mysterious “banana mode” which has haunted players for months has finally been revealed we have to ask, what do you think? Is this the sort of thing you had been dreaming of, or would some other new mode have suited the game better? From where I sit, you should be happy I stopped playing long enough to report this news, there are pineapples that must be frozen and then sliced and I’m wasting precious seconds typing instead!
If you’ve played Halfbrick’s Monster Dash, you will be aware of the game’s wisecracking protagonist, Barry Steakfries. What you may not be aware of is that Monster Dash is not the character’s debut – he first appeared in a PSN Minis game called Age of Zombies, that was a top-down shooter that involved time traveling and snarky humor. Why am I telling you this? Because iOS gamers will get to experience this game for themselves this October.
Age of Zombies is a dual-stick shooter (although coming from the PSP, this is the first time it will actually be controlled with dual sticks), that has you killing zombies across various time periods, from the age of dinosaurs to samurai Japan, all the way to the future and all with zombies. The game is level-based, but there is a survival mode for each time period that you can play in once you beat each age’s boss. Assuming it is unchanged from the PSN Mini, you can expect plenty of hilarious (and occasionally profane) dialogue to set up the game’s ridiculous story, and plenty of humorous Barry Steakfries one-liners, which are actually spoken by the character, instead of being just lines of text as in Monster Dash.
What is most interesting about Age of Zombies for iOS is that it is Halfbrick’s first universal app, with graphics in high-resolution for the iPad. While it is unknown if it will also support Retina Display graphics, the game’s interface and menus have been redesigned for the iOS touchscreens. As well, the game now features global leaderboards, a feature not present in the PSN version. With a nebulous release date of ‘October,’ fans of Monster Dash’s protagonist and fans of twin-stick shooters will likely want to keep an eye out for Age of Zombies for iOS.