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Keep Customers Happy (and Play God a Little) in Zooniverse
It’s always nice to see something a little different in a market saturated with a bunch of “Me, Too” freemium titles. Chillingo's Zooniverse is one such deviation for a couple of different reasons, not just because of the unobtrusive tutorial. Seriously, it’s incredible how many developers think interrupting the player with pop-up boxes is “good.” *deep breaths*
While Zooniverse is about running a zoo first and foremost, it’s also about keeping the customers happy. These core customer demographics are divided into three main categories: men, women, and children. Each group has its own preferences when it comes to facilities and adorable critters to ogle, so it’s important to find a balance that caters to everyone. Making more people happy means more money, and more money means being able to expand the zoo with more enclosures, animals, and just space in general.
A great deal of critters ranging from woodland to aquatic, and even prehistoric and outright impossible, can be housed in the many available enclosures. Once an animal is settled in, be it through a purchase or breeding, players have to make sure to keep it well fed. Starvation won’t result in horrible complex-forming consequences, but it will cause the creatures to stop earning cash. So, you know, don’t be a jerk and keep them well-fed.
The burning question of what happens with a mouse is bred with a hippo (a Hippopotamouse) will finally be answered for free later this summer.
Happy Squirrels to Plant Roots in the Near Future
When the squirrel god - god of squirrels? I’m a little fuzzy on the specifics of this particular theology. No pun intended - sees a lone bushy-tailed critter dragging itself through the desert, he bestows it with a special acorn that creates a rather large tree. This tree becomes an oasis and eventual home to other wayward squirrels; constantly growing to make room for even more denizens. It’s similar to Tiny Tower, no doubt, but Chillingo's Happy Squirrels is much more than a simple re-skinning of a familiar concept.
As the tree grows and floors are added, players are able to choose what rooms they would like to create from a total of 25 different options. These rooms can earn nuts, the game’s main form of currency, at different rates and with different caps on how much they can hold. Each chamber can also be upgraded up to five times, with each iteration able to earn even more, faster. These munchies can be used to purchase new rooms and otherwise expand the tree. Potions, the other form of “kinda” currency, are needed to speed things up if players don’t feel like waiting X-number of hours for construction to finish. Or they can be exchanged for more nuts. Whatever the situation demands.
What really sets Happy Squirrels apart is its level of interactivity. At any time the iOS device can be jostled or titled in order to make the tree’s occupants jump or slide around, respectively. A number of other cosmetic interactive touches such as doorbells to ring, as well as a couple of acorn-earning mini-games, make it feel like there’s always something to do while waiting for the workers to finish their tasks.
Happy Squirrles will be setting up shop for free sometime this summer.
Airline Tycoon Deluxe Review
Blocksworld Makes All Inner Children Squeal with Glee
Everyone’s messed around with building bocks in some form or another at some point in their life. Everyone. It’s kind of a universal thing. Which is a big reason as to why I’m somewhat amazed that very few people have attempted to merge the concept with interactive design. It’s one of those ideas that doesn’t seem obvious until someone comes up with it. And Boldai came up with it.
Blocksworld is, in essence, a set of virtual building blocks. Structures can be cobbled together, tiny people can be crafted, and all manner of impossible creations can appear with a few taps and flicks. But simply creating a thing is only the beginning. Once that mutant frog or towering skyscraper is complete, it can be brought to life or used as an asset in an animated movie or even video game. This is because it’s more than just a sandbox, it’s an incredibly easy to use toolset for creative types.
Any iOS user can open up Blocksworld and create whatever their imagination can come up with. Then they can use it to create their own action movie or turn it into a game, then they can share it with the world on the official website. Or Twitter and Facebook, of course. The tools are rudimentary but the sky is indeed the limit.
Blocksworld is still in beta but is expected to release later this summer. There’s no official word on pricing yet but users will be able to purchase additional content packs (prices also TBD) in order to bolster their creative arsenal.
Dungeon Village Review
Men in Black 3 Review
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
It’s hard not to expect the worst from a freemium movie tie-in game. There’s just so much potential for things to go wrong. Fortunately things went right for Men in Black 3. Very, very right.
As soon as the initial loading is done players are thrust into the boots of a MIB rookie. Agent J (or at least a somewhat reasonable facsimile) is present to direct them through most of the tutorial stuff like fighting aliens, neuralizing citizens, and managing headquarters. Much like other genre offerings structures must be built and managed to earn cash, heal between missions, research new tech, etc. But playing Where Will This Room Fit is only a part of Men in Black 3. The other parts are comprised of investigating various happenings around New York (both in 2012 and 1969), combating hostile aliens in turn-based combat, and recruiting/utilizing MIB agents for special missions.
Seeing as Men in Black 3 is a Gameloft game I feel compelled to mention that I was thrilled to see it takes up less than two-thirds of my iPhone’s storage space. In fact, it takes up next to no room at all (just under 90 MB). It might sound callous but most of their games are so big I can’t actually keep them for long, so something like this is a rare treat for me. For everyone else who doesn’t care about rationing memory, it’s still a very well put-together game. Everything features the slick style we’ve all come to expect from MIB facilities and gear, exploration and combat do a good job of keeping the management aspects from becoming tedious, and hiring new agents recalls a few of those old X-COM feelings.
As impressed as I am, I wouldn’t mind having the ability to adjust the camera distance. The view feels just a tad too far away from everything for my liking, making characters and aliens seem almost insignificantly small. Floating icons ensure that tapping the correct person, place, or thing isn’t an issue, but it would be nice to get in closer to see a little more detail. Conversely I wouldn’t mid seeing a little less of the “OMG THEY WERE IN THE MOVIE!!!” characters. Not that I don’t think Agents J and K and friends aren’t awesome, I just got sick of them getting in my face so often. Granted this doesn’t happen as often once the tutorial is completed but they can still be somewhat overbearing.
It might be heavy on the exposition and light on the camera control, but this is one solid free-to-play that usually always has something for players to do. Being the boss of a secret organization created to deal with extra-terrestrial activities sounds like a fantastic job, and thanks to Men in Black 3 I’m even more inclined to believe it.