Continuing my recent look at some silly little games on my iPad, I decided to review one of my older games on it, namely Catapult King.
This game is available on the iPad and iPhone through the Apple App Store, and is also available on Android devices. It costs 69p to purchase, although there is a Catapult King Lite version, which is free, which allows you to trial before shelling out for the full version. The game is quite a small file at 49.7MB, which meant it was pretty speedy to download and install onto my iPad. It is compatible with iPhone and iPad as well as iPod touch, although I would really advise playing on a tablet as the screen is quite detailed and it would be a big strain on the eyes on a very small screen. The game is released through the company Chillingo and is rated by the App Store as 9+ due to the cartoony style violence depicted in the game, although I would say that this violence is in no way realistic and no worse than other games out there at the moment.
I think the fairest way of describing the game is to say that it "borrows heavily" the themes and ideas made a global phenomenon by the Angry Birds series. By this I mean it is one of those physics style puzzle games that have swamped the App Store over the last few years. This does seem to be a common theme in a lot of my game reviews, but it is impossible to overstate just what effect that series of games has had on tablet gaming, and to be fair it is a genre that suits the modern tablets well. The game is pretty much summed up in the title to be honest; you have a catapult and have to destroy things with it - End Of!
Well not quite, the game is a lot more visually appealing than Angry Birds. It is wholly 3D, and in the first person perspective, so you see the catapult ahead of you, and you can move the screen around to see all the targets and terrain. The goal of each level of the game is to kill all of the enemy soldiers on that level in a certain number of shots. The sneaky enemies do not however have the common decency to stand out in the open, and have constructed any number of different obstacles to protect themselves. The firing mechanism is quite easy; simply aim the catapult in your desired direction, pull back to determine the power of the shot and release. This will send your projectile on its merry way, but don't forget that pesky gravity, always pulling the ball downwards! This is the part of the game with the closest association with Angry Birds, and that is the fact that there are several different kinds of catapult projectile available in predetermined selections for each level. The catapult balls that you will have are as follows: -
Standard Projectile - A bog standard, no frills ball which is perfect for flimsy wooden structures, but rubbish on anything reinforced or built of stone.
Metal Projectile - These balls plough through stone, wood or people. One of the best weapons on the game as a versatile all rounder.
Explosive Projectile - Rather predictably these will explode on a second touch of the screen, so wait for them to lodge into a well defended structure and boom!
Three Way Split - This handy little projectile will split into 3 smaller ones offering a wider pattern of destruction, but at the cost of reduced damage from each one. Again handy getting inside of a well defended area.
Special Weapons - There are several special weapons such as Earthquake and Meteor Strike balls, which do huge amounts of damage but are only available after several levels when you have collected magic points (See next paragraph).
There are also crates of explosives and other items dotted around the map, which you can aim at to try and help you in your quest. Be observant for a random large rock perched high on a hill overlooking the combat zone or other strange features that look out of place. Quite often there is a cunning one shot option to complete a level that is on the face of it a bit left field, but it adds a certain strategy to the game which is definitely a welcome addition in my book.
Catapult King also borrows the idea of 3 levels of success when determining whether you have completed the level. I find these a little complicated in a lot of this genre, and this game is no exception. The levels are gold, silver and bronze, and depend on how many of a series of "goals" you have completed. The problem being these are not always obvious, and you are also awarded a certain number of magic points which can be used to call on special weapons on harder levels, but this number seems a little random at times. However I think the scoring system is slightly irrelevant in this game as the main goal is to kill all the enemies - anything else is a bonus if you can figure out exactly what it is you have done!
The graphics on this game are one of the major selling points and are amongst some of the best I have seen on the iPad. Whilst retaining a silly cartoony feel, the 3D world just looks better than the 2D ones present on many other games of the genre. The explosions and showers of debris flying after a particularly successful shot just look better in 3D, and the fact that the camera follows your shot gives you superb close ups, and the looks on the enemy soldiers faces when they are hit is quite amusing, as is the stuck out tongue they pull at you if the level is failed! As I said earlier, the scoring screen is a little complicated and really unclear as to how successful you have been, but this is a minor gripe really.
Sound quality is actually not too bad to be fair. I am not a fan of the repeating tunes on any of these iPad games and this is no different. It is not bad par say, just irritating after a while, although the sound effects of the shots flying around and destroying things is quite good. You have the option of turning off the music and just having the sound effects, which is my preferred option.
So how would I sum up Catapult King? Well I would have to say it is one of the very best games inspired by the Angry Birds phenomenon, and arguably more enjoyable than that. I think it is fair to describe Catapult King as an adult's version of Angry Birds. The sheer quality of the 3D scenery, and the complexity of some of the levels is a major plus point for me, as some are particularly challenging, and this adds to the longevity of the game. It is definitely one of those you can pick up for just a minute or two if you have a little time to kill, but also one which will leave you frustrated and slaving away at one level for ages, with the "just one more go" feel to it. I would say it is very good value for money at 69p and well worth a look for anyone who likes these physics style puzzle games.
Review may also appear on Ciao under the same username.