Nov 17, 2011

Clouds & Sheep

What can I say about Clouds & Sheep? Well, first off it's free and I'm trying to avoid reviews of such games. At the same time this one is different. Ok, not totally different as it really falls into a 'sims' style of game. This time, however, instead of managing a city or a family or a farm or a... you get the idea... you're managing a flock of sheep. If that doesn't sound like fun then you're right on board with me. It's not.

Two things fascinate me about this game. The first is that over 36,000 people have given it a 5 star rating on the Android Market (and that dominates the runner up rating of 4 stars). I don't see it. Perhaps I'm so removed from mainstream gaming that I shouldn't be writing game reviews. Second, this game is VERY polished. It's beautifully done. And it's done by the company that has created one of my favorite Android games (Panzer Panic).

Ok, what's it all about? You've got some sheep on a green pasture. They're really dumb and need all the help they can get. Dumb as in "hey there's food over there... but I'd rather stand here and starve" dumb. So it's your job to drag their lazy a@@'s to the food before they die. Obviously you need to grow food so you can do neat stuff like drag clouds together and tap on them to make it rain and create a little puddle thus watering the grass to grow more food. Or you can keep on a tapping and create a larger watering hole. And the game slowly progresses with more stuff like that. Very slowly. I actually started playing this while waiting half an hour in a dentist's office and only made it to the watering holes. From the screenshots there's all sorts of neat stuff that comes along later, but I just didn't have the patience for it nor the desire to grow more sheep.

qrcodeTypically when I see a game like this come around I expect there to be some grand strategy. The game bills itself as a sandbox style game. That it is. But let's use SimCity as an example. The thrill in that game is trying to grow a city while maintaining a sustainable balance of things like jobs, services, tax revenue, ...etc. Here that's lost on me. I'm just trying to grow my sheep herd.

As I've already said, the game is quite pretty with its cartoony style graphics. Sound and controls match that polish. If the hot thing to do in real life was to raise sheep then this game would be #1! I just don't see it. It's awfully hard for me to rate this game or even call it a game. Obviously the goals in creating it were met almost perfectly, but the fun just isn't there... at least for me it's not... apparently 36,000+ Android owners would disagree. But it's free so you make the call. 3/5 stars.

Nov 15, 2011

Riptide GP

I picked up the Riptide GP demo back when I first got my Transformer tablet and was looking for games that took advantage of the Tegra 2 chipset. I had to admit that it really wowed me. The graphics on this game are drop dead gorgeous especially for a device that I can hold like a steering wheel. However, the $6.99 price tag scared me away. Since then it's dropped to $4.99 and there was even a $2.99 Halloween sale that was enough to put me over the top.

Riptide GP is basically a water racing game similar to arcade games like Hydro Thunder or perhaps more akin to Wave Racer on the Nintendo 64. I don't personally get too excited about racing around a track with the sole goal of trying to better my time. Does Riptide GP do much more than that? Honestly, no. It's got lots of pretty tracks and several vehicles with which to race that are rated on a few basic attributes such as handling and speed. On top of that the game does have a boost meter that you can recharge by doing various stunts and there are several that you can pull off.

The games controls are pretty simple. Tilt to steer. Hold down anywhere on the lower left side of the screen to brake. And if you choose to control acceleration then you can hold down on the lower right to accelerate although auto-accelerate is on by default. Then there's the boost meter on the right that you can touch for a burst of speed. Stunts are executed by dragging your thumbs on the lower left/right while in the air. The keyword there is thumbS as it took me entirely too long to process that. I was getting quite frustrated at my in ability to dance in the air when I drag my thumb on one side of the screen or the other. However, the help clearly documents the different thumb patterns that perform fancy moves along with the fact that both thumbs must operate in synchronicity.

qrcodeFor some reason I prefer water racing games over car racing games. I don't know why... that's just me. The reality is that this isn't going to be a game that consumes a lot of my time. It'll get some attention here and there and will be a go to game when it comes to showing off my Android Tablet to the iPad masses (not that it beats the iPad... it just puts us on par with it). It's a beautiful game that's really executed very well. It's got Open Feint support for online leader board support (and it would have been awesome if I could race over the Internet), but it doesn't quite have the extra oomph to make this a must have... especially at $5. If you love water racing games or need another graphical gem for your collection then by all means grab this one, but if you can wait then I'd hold out until the next sale or just grab the demo. This is a quality title for any Android owner with a Tegra 2 (or better) chipset that just seems to be missing that little extra bit of fun that makes me want to play it over and over. 4/5 stars.