“ Manufacturer: Berzerker Games / Type: iPhone Game / Platform: iPhoneOS „
These days, it seems as though everyone is trying to find the next Bejewelled - the simple jewel matching game that took the world by storm a couple of years ago.
Enter latest contender, Super Juicy, probably best described as a mix between Bejewelled, Tetris and Puzzle Bobble. A variety of different coloured bubbles fall from the top of the screen. When at least three bubbles of the same colour are grouped together, you can explode them by tapping them before they shift position, creating more room on the screen. Tapping bigger chains of similar coloured bubbles will get you more points, but get it wrong and tap a bubble which is not near at least two others of the same colour and you will lose you points. As in Tetris, if the screen fills to the top, it's game over.
From a game play point of view, Super Juicy is immediately appealing. Its central concept is very simple and anyone can just pick it up and start playing. Tutorial levels guide you through the key features, gradually introducing ways to increase your score or master some of the more advanced aspects of the game play.
Deliberately created as a pick up and play title, the game actually suffers from being rather too easy and games lasting rather too long. One of the appeals of many iPhone games is that you can pick them up if you have a spare couple of minutes and have a quick game. Super Juicy is so easy that games last a long time. In my first go on Classic Mode, for example, I breezed through the opening ten levels or so, but it took quite a while to do that. By the time I reached that point I was getting rather bored.
There is the feature to start your game from a particular level, but this only lasts for the current gaming session. If you switch your phone off, all progress is lost and you have to start from Level 1 all over again. Similarly, sometimes the game seems to "forget" your progress and force you to re-do some levels you have already completed. This is frustrating beyond belief, since the idea of taking the time needed to repeat a dozen or more levels does not appeal.
True, the game does offer a number of different game modes. Action Mode does give you the option for a quick game since you are playing against the clock, Bonus lets you try out some of the bonus levels, whilst Chaos does what it says on the tin and simply hurls bubbles at you at an insane pace, challenging you to survive for as long as you can (often measured in seconds!). Whilst fun for a short while these are no substitute for a well-thought out, balanced difficulty level, which is what Super Juicy lacks.
Despite the different modes, there's also very little variety to the game. Each turn boils down to the same thing - keep poking the screen until you lose (or, more likely, until you get bored and quit the game). The presence of bonus levels every so often adds a little bit of further interest, but these are still based on the same basic concept of tapping the screen to explode bubbles.
Another thing lacking is a two-player mode, where you can compete with a friend to see who can spot bubble combinations first. The nature of the game is perfectly suite to that and would have given the game a much-needed extra dimension. OK, so the size of the iPhone's screen doesn't easily lend itself to two player games, but surely it could have been included as an online option for two phones? This would have given it far more depth and challenge.
Graphically, the game is surprisingly subdued. Obviously, there is not a great deal you can do with balloons other than vary their size and colour (both of which the game does), but I expected more. The game lends itself to big, bold colourful graphics, with lots of use of primary colours to make the game visually appealing. In fact, the palette is rather faded and muted, giving the game a rather bland, insipid look. True, it's easy enough to distinguish between the different coloured bubbles and spot chains, but brighter visuals would have given the game a far more cheery outlook.
From an audio point of view the game is nothing to write home about, either. A fairly standard tune plays throughout and rapidly becomes annoying. When they burst, balloons make a satisfying popping sound (especially when you pop lots at once), but again, it's nothing special and adds to that feeling of being rather underwhelmed and disappointed by Super Juicy. I don't believe that good graphics and sound necessarily make a good game, but they are certainly an important element and Super Juicy just doesn't cut it.
Controls work well for the most part, but there are issues. On the plus side they are highly responsive and easy to pick up. However, there are a couple of "dead spots" - particularly around the bottom edges of the phone's screens. This means that sometimes a couple of taps are needed before your movement is registered. This can be a frustration on levels where you are running short on space or time. A more annoying aspect of the game is the fact that the bubbles constantly jiggle around and move into any available space. The end result of this is that you tap where the bubble was (and where, until a second ago, there was a perfectly legitimate chain), only to find it has moved, meaning you tap an incorrect bubble and end up losing, rather than scoring, points.
At the end of the day, Super Juicy is fun for a little while, but it soon becomes a little rather dull and repetitive. At just 59p it's not going to break the bank but even at that price, it will only provide limited value for money and there are far better puzzle games available from the App Store.
© Copyright SWSt 2010