Developer:Triniti Interactive Limited
Release Date:November 18, 2009
Price:$0.99 for 14 games
Summary:14 games in one app. Some are better than others. I like King Fish, myself.
There’s a reason why this app is currently so popular in the iTunes App Store. With 14 games for just $0.99, no wonder everyone is clamoring to download it.
The games aren’t anything exceptional, all of them very simplistic in design, with simple fighting or survival objectives, been-there-done-that gameplay interfaces, and quirky environments to toil in. However, being less than exceptional has nothing to do with their entertainment value. These games are mindless, fun, easy to play, and difficult to conquer. The All-In-1 Gamebox app by Triniti Interactive Limited is perfect for road trips, subway commutes, or when passing the time during your lunch break, or when you simply can’t fathom what else to do with your downtime. I, personally, favor King Fish for its comical big fish eat little fish premise, in a well-presented ocean environment. The crunching sounds are satisfying when munching on your fellow fish food, as is tilting the iPhone this way and that to send your progressively tubbier Clown Fish swimming in all directions.
The latest version of All-In-1 Gamebox contains 14 games, including Climber, Get Rich, Ancient War, Bowman Defense, Jailbreaker, King Fish, iSniper, 1945 Ace Destroyer, Operation iWolf, 2009 Road Master, iUFO Catcher, 3-2-1 Jump!, Bubble Master, and iSign 365. Phew! That’s a long list! While I was immediately attracted to a few right off the bat (King Fish, Operation iWolf), I decided to test them out in chronological order, starting with Climber. The intro clip was dashing, with dark red splashed behind your silhouetted character’s black frame, his white eyes narrowed and his white, Venom-like webbed claw shooting spindles of thread to climb into the bleak abyss above. The game disappointed soon thereafter, with a seemingly impossible aim (to where?) versus incalculable trajectory. I cannot recount how many times I witnessed my character’s plunge to his inevitable death, impaled upon the same, lone spike from a dilapidated building. I lost interest pretty quickly. The second game, Get Rich fared a bit better, the objective at least attainable, if not ridiculously easy. Unfortunately, I tire of games that have me mundanely tilting my iPhone in only two directions, left and right, to move a character and catch falling objects. Yawn. The graphics are laughable, and I can see the premise becoming dull all too fast, particularly with a myriad of levels, 14 or so. No thanks.
The prospects picked up intensely with the third game, Ancient War, a game of warring pygmies protecting their respective totem poles. Like a watered-down version of a strategy game, you pump out troops – made easier by the purchasing price being an ever renewable source of meat – by tapping on their images, and let the bare-bones A.I. take charge for themselves, attacking any enemy foe in sight (this is made easier by the fact your troops only want to go in one direction, right, to the enemy totem pole). Lots of blood is seen as the pygmies bash each other with novelized bludgeon sticks and pelt each other with large rocks, and exploding pygmies are not uncommon in later levels. It’s only too bad strategy in this game boils down to producing little to no troops in the beginning so your meat supply can quickly skyrocket to 1000, and then letting the enemies rush you in the beginning with an onslaught you can usually obliterate with your special firestorm skill from the totem pole. Then, just quickly pump out troops and let the wild rumpus begin. Once again, there are many levels to contend with, so longevity is not an issue, but choppiness is killer when you have an army of pygmies onscreen, making the game seem insufferably long at times. It’s just a giant wave of lag lag lag.
Bowman Defense, too, is more entertaining and effective than the first two, and unlike Ancient War, requires some fine finesse and dexterity. The game, itself, looks really cool, like an episode from Samurai Jack, but as the levels progress, shooting down the oncoming horde of enemies becomes ridiculously challenging, and ultimately frustrating. I always grapple with inverted aiming mechanisms in games, such as this one, where dragging your finger up points the arrow down, and dragging your finger down points the arrow up. When you have to shoot fast, and take trajectory patterns into account, aiming like this is hard. Not to mention, some of the special arrows (which you earn, incrementally, by level) require long reloading times, and oftentimes it’s easy to forget to switch to a more basic arrow, or one with a shorter reload time. Wait too long between shooting bouts and you’ll find your castle invaded by the onslaught.
JailBreaker has the same design as Climber, with the same silhouetted character, it seems. Unlike Climber, this game is far more entertaining, if not a bit jarring anytime your fugitive runs into one of the many sawblades and a big “AHH!” is heard, with an image of him being decapitated with plenty of blood. Okay, so it’s a wee bit upsetting when you die, but other than that it’s gripping, totally gripping. You escape from prison and make your way, jumping and rolling, from a sideways scrolling view, through an expansive field of fatal sawblades and, yes, cardboard boxes. Hey, when you’re running at breakneck speed and you ram into a cardboard box? It ain’t a pretty sight.
King Fish adds some much needed lightheartedness to the games thus far, with its Clown fish skirting around eating all the smaller fish, while avoiding the larger ones. In later levels you encounter sharks and other scary adversaries, but munching on sea creatures proves to be a surprisingly addicting pastime. You’d think it’d be dull, just aiming for the small fries, but something about the ocean sounds, the crackling of morsels as you swallow them whole, and avoiding bigger fish is just so swimmingly fun.
“I am a sniper. The prey which I stare at can never escape… ” Back to the gruesome, we are. With terrorists and ransom money on the table, in iSniper it’s time for you and your sniper rifle to put things right. I actually really enjoyed this game; but, then again, I’ve always liked sniper games. Maybe I was meant to be an assassin, who knows. Tapping on an enemy target puts your perspective through the sniper scope, and you must take into account your character’s breath to properly aim, which you do by tilting your iPhone around. The enemies reappear every so often, and they will shoot at you, so make sure you target the more hostile ones first.
1945 Ace Destroyer is another warring game where you must destroy the enemy ships by your lone self, with hip, bouncing music in tune with your bombs dropping. It’s a great game – just fly and shoot. The flying mechanism entails tilting your iPhone from side to side, up and down, to navigate your plane, with the illusion of 360 degrees being your playing field (you can turn infinitely to the right or left). Levels progress as you shoot planes down and earn points, with larger bomber planes coming into play in later levels, and submarines appearing below that you must torpedo. There’s a learning curve to the shooting – it’s hard, at first, trying to shoot even two enemy planes down at a time. Thank god for the infinite ammo supply. The difficulty in aiming may be too frustrating for some, but once you get the hang of it, it’s very fun. Besides, who doesn’t like flying war planes?
Fast forward to 2011 (wait, isn’t that just over a year from now?), where in Operation iWolf, the world has become a chaos land stricken by the terrorist group with the irony-laden name of HEAVEN, and you, Lt. Cobra, are a part of the Global Anti-Terrorism Organization known as GATO, to dispel these Heavenites. Of course, being a part of super top-secret GATO, you have no name, no record – you simply do not exist. After being briefed on your initial mission (carry a fire reconnaissance mission in enemy territory, identify enemy personnel and facilities, engage enemy at will), you jump headfirst into the flames. And, I mean you really jump headfirst. For a highly classified and well-trained GATO troop, you sure don’t know how to take cover. The game starts off with a bang – too much of a bang – with you standing up straight, uncontrollably scanning from left to right at a snail’s pace, with dozens of enemies shooting at you. It’s unclear whether you’re encased in some futuristic, protective suit, with helmet and titanium shell, or if you’re just a complete idiot, standing within 5 feet of your enemies with your face crammed completely in your scope. I’m going with the latter. To add insult to injury, the aiming mechanism requires you to drag your finger to move the cursor, only there’s a huge, huge lag time between where your finger is and when the cursor will actually make it there. Seems like GATO needs to upgrade its training requirements.
My aggravation didn’t lessen with the next game, Road Master 2000. It’s a better game, for sure – more responsive, better graphically, more fun and gripping, in general – but it’s hard to get anywhere in the game. It resembles a less hip-looking Racer by Tatem Games (Racer is a far better game), only this game has a brief, unnecessary background story as to why you’re speeding down the freeway illegally. Unlike in Racer, where you drag your finger to navigate the car, in Road Master you tilt the iPhone – a clever interface that effectively mimics, as well as it can, the use of a steering wheel. After crashing into too many cars, the sides of the freeway, and roadwork blockades, you’ll most likely be tilting your iPhone more aggressively – into the wall. Keep at it, though, it’s not the most entertaining of the bunch, but it’s nice to have a racing car game in the mix.
When I saw the opening screen to iUFO Catcher, with its cutesy, Harajuku style puppies and clouds and rainbows, I jerked my head back in surprise, my eyes squinting from the blinding estrogen. With bubbly music to keep your head bouncing happily from side to side, the objective is to grab animals from moving platforms with your metal crane, much like those stuffed animal emporiums you find in arcade game places. At first you have two small puppies, one a generic hound with floppy ears, the other resembling a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, and each is worth 50 points. As you rack up the points, larger animals appear : a giant West Highland White Terrier it looks to be (despite they being very tiny terriers), pigs, a gray and a blue Siberian Husky, and more. Anytime the crane misses and hits the platform, your time shortens down. Trust me, you’ll be missing a lot. It seems like it’d be a fun game, just catching items as they move, but I was surprisingly bored. Plus, the name doesn’t make sense. Maybe all the bright colors and happy creatures and noises just saturated my senses.
In a similarly bright fashion, 3-2-1 Jump has a cutesy character jumping around in a splendidly bright background of clouds and grassy platforms, clouds, and floating creatures that pose a threat to you. It’s like a cheap version of Doodle Jump, with an eerie wail of terror when you plunge to your death, breaking up the sunshine scheme is one fatal instant. To instantly lighten up the mood again, the game distracts from the morbid picture of your character dead, facedown on split ground, with the juxtaposition of convivial “Hallelujah!” music. There’s not much to say about the game, other than if you liked Doodle Jump, then, well, you’ll just stick with Doodle Jump.
The opening screen to Bubble Master really intrigued me. The stark, cobalt blue background with a dark, fairy tale depiction of the Kremlin has an artistic edge to it, and the levels have a paper theater feel, with an ink-sketched cityscape, and a paper doll girl as your main character. It’s actually quite lovely, and just taking it in was satisfying enough. The bubbles you must burst in the game have a crinkled glow to them, standing apart from the rest of the game in a good way, and you must blow them up into small bubbles with the zigzag line you shoot vertically at them. Too bad you can only shoot in one direction, as this is the one pitfall of the game. It’s pretty challenging, and the pretty setting coupled with this make for a good game.
iSign 365, lastly, is a fortune-telling game that tells you of fortune, health, romance, or career after you shake the Chinese fortune sticks. With a Chinese metal seal that rotates and clacks, the app is very pretty to look at, and the various symbols peppered throughout, and drawings of cranes, landscapes and more, even if your fortunes don’t pan out, at least it looks better than your average fortune app.