It’s been a long time coming, but Disco Pixel’s Jungle Rumble is almost upon us!
Jungle Rumble is very much a rhythm game. It’s also kind of a real time strategy game. It’s being described as “Patapon meets Advance Wars” and I have to say it doesn’t seem too far from the truth. Controlling your monkey (or squads of monkeys) is simply a matter of tapping your commands in time with the beat. Move, run, toss coconuts, that sort of thing. The goal was to make an iOS rhythm game that allows the player to make decisions rather than simply trying to stick to a specific script or pattern.
I have to admit Jungle Rumble feels pretty good. It doesn’t necessarily look like it from the screen shots but it really does call to mind games like Patapon in a very pleasant way. I had a little trouble keeping the rhythm at times but I’m fairly certain that had more to do with a noisy show floor than anything. Still, I’m interested in seeing how it plays in a much quieter setting.
Jungle Rumble should be releasing within the next couple of weeks (probably). I didn’t get a set number for the price, but it’s definitely going to be a premium game because the folks at Disco Pixel “don’t want to monkey around with micro-transactions.” Yeah.
EchoChamber is the title hoping to be funded by it. It's described as a rhythm game with a "unique twist." It's a free-to-play local multiplayer title that uses positional audio to get players to follow various cues and perform gestures in time with the music. I took the time to learn more from Cody Lee, co-founder and developer at Little bit Games.
148Apps: How did the idea for echoChamber come about? Cody Lee (CL): The idea for echoChamber came about after playing the game SpaceTeam with friends. It seemed like such a unique and original idea and utilized your phone for multiplayer in a way that I’d never seen before. It kinda blew my mind and I started to think of other ways we could use mobile devices for multiplayer experiences that you couldn’t get on any other platform. I spent a lot of time picturing people physically standing around with friends, trying to come up with games that required that physical space, and that used the capabilities of modern cell phones.
148Apps: Why the decision to be free to play? CL:echoChamber is a multiplayer only game, and is more fun the more people you are playing with. It seemed natural for us to release the game as a free download so people can start playing it as easily as possible with their friends without requiring everybody to commit to purchasing it. We’ll be releasing additional tracks as paid DLC for people who want to extend their experience beyond the base tracks.
148Apps: How hard has it been to implement the positional sound effects? CL: Doing the positional audio itself isn’t too bad. It’s really just a matter of adjusting volume for the different devices to get the desired effect we want. The hardest part has been synching the playback of the track on all of the devices while accounting for network latency. If the sound is out of sync at all, the positional effect is lost, and you get more of an echo. If it’s REALLY out of sync it just sounds like garbage!
148Apps: What other challenges have you faced? CL:echoChamber started out as more of a Pong-like game where sound would move around and players would have to tap their screens to hit the “ball” away. The problem is it’s hard to know when the ball has reached you. It get’s louder so you know it’s closer, but how loud is the “loudest” and “closest”. That’s why we ended up going the rhythm game route. When there’s a set beat, and the ball moves to the beat, it’s easier to know when the sound will “hit”. We’ve since moved away from the Pong aspect of the game and are focusing more on an overall fun musical experience instead.
148Apps: When do you hope to release echoChamber? CL: If the Kickstarter goes well, we hope to release some time early next year. If it doesn’t go well... we’re not sure.
The Kickstarter campaign runs until December 27, with a wide selection of backer rewards to cover everyone's budget.
Thanks to Cody for taking the time to answer our questions. We'll be sure to keep an eye on echoChamber's progress.
Anyone who's ever watched "The Muppet Show" or "Rocky and Bullwinkle" should be able to understand the importance (and challenges) of creating something for both kids and adults. It's a difficult task that can alienate one or both if handled improperly, so I had some reservations when starting Roklienz: On Tour for the first time. However, aside from a few minor missteps it straddles that line quite well.
The Roklienz are rockin' aliens (hah, get it?) looking to dominate their home planets with some sweet tunes. Yup, that's right, Roklienz: On Tour is a music game. Not just any music game, but a sort of iPad adaptation of Elite Beat Agents (or Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan for purists). For those unfamiliar with this particular style of music interaction it essentially boils down to following the on-screen prompts. Players have to tap/swipe/spin/etc the right icons in the proper order and in-time with the music in order to keep the crowd happy and complete each level. The better they do the more coins they earn to put towards unlocking and buying new planets, extras, or power-ups.
Roklienz: On Tour's gameplay isn't groundbreaking at this point, but it's still quite excellent. Following all the various prompts in the proper order can become a real challenge in later levels and it all blends together with the music really well. I've yet to need to resort to using any of the power-ups but I can certainly appreciate their presence. Plus I imagine they're more for the kids. And speaking of, I have to say I'm a big fan of the sketchy/scribbly art style. It's simple and there aren't more than a handful of frames for each animation, but there's a distinct personality shining through all those colorful critters.
I noticed a few technical issues with Roklienz: On Tour, such as a couple of crashes and prompts that don't always feel like they're timed quite right, but my biggest problem is with the pacing and difficulty. The difficulty, in short, is ridiculously easy throughout the entire first planet. I'm sure it's mostly due to wanting to give young iPad players a chance at having fun, and I can totally appreciate that, but it drags on a little too long and feed in to the pacing problem. The pacing problem being that in order to progress I have to play through every song four times in a row, with the difficulty going up a little each time. It starts to become a drag after the third consecutive time.
While I would have preferred having a way to "fast-forward" to the more difficult stuff, I still had fun with Roklienz: On Tour. It's silly and doesn't take itself too seriously, yet provides a lot of unlockable content and challenges for those willing to stick it out through the first third.