This is a combined review of 3 exciting games, we will be reviewing All-In-1 Gamebox, Amateur Surgeon 2 & Amazing Breaker
We’re all used to seeing “value packs” pop up for old formats, whether it’s in the form of a mini-console that sits under your TV or all-in-one discs that transform your Xbox 360 into a Genesis for a few hours. Having one turn up on iPhone, however, could be a little disconcerting. Is it all over already? Has our favorite gaming haven already become a relic?
Of course, rather than confining it to the pages of history, Triniti’s All-In-1 Gamebox is actually an attempt to cash in on the thousands of apps currently in the App Store. Here, 25 and counting games are bundled into one hefty download, the idea being to serve up a range of accessible titles for a very reasonable price.
Value packs live and die by the quality of the games they offer up, however, and All-In-1 follows the traditional pattern of headlining with some games you’ll have heard of, while filling in the rest with some that are a little more obscure. This particular package sways far more towards the latter, and those who take a chance are likely to be confronted by a wealth of entirely new titles, and not all of them are good.
The fact that they’re new doesn’t mean they won’t feel familiar, however. Anyone who has sampled Flash-turned iPhone classic Canabalt, for instance, will instantly recognize some of the titles available here, with Jailbreaker following its formula almost to the letter.
In Jailbreaker, the idea is to leap over and roll under objects as you try to make your escape from prison. With the running taken care of, your only input is to tap buttons to jump and roll, lasting for as long as you can before you inevitably smack straight into a wooden crate. It doesn’t quite have the crisp appearance of Canabalt, however, and it can’t escape the fact that it feels like a blatant copy.
Indeed, that’s a running theme with much of what’s on offer. Hell Flyer offers touch-based swinging action that borrows more than a little from the superb Hook Champ, but sadly lacks both its style and breadth. Likewise, All-In-1 Gamebox also comes with Bubble Master, which follows old school classic Pang’s rule-set to the letter– spear-guns splitting bouncing balls that threaten to squish you into the floor– but comes without the same spoonful of charm.
In essence, you get what you pay for. While most of these titles are completely playable, none exactly draw you in for a second round.
This is why All-in-1 Gamebox falls back on two Triniti “big hitters” to capture the crowds. The most notable is strategy sim Ancient War. Its cartoon cavemen offer a distinct amount of quality otherwise lacking in the vast majority of the package’s efforts. The other high flyer is iSniper 3D, which, despite its disjointed difficulty setting and frustrating controls, is at least a headline release that pushes some visual boundaries.
And that is essentially All-In-1 Gamebox’s problem. Though on the surface 25 titles for just $0.99 seems like the bargain of the century– and iSniper 3D costs that by itself– most of them don’t need to be played more than once. What is admirable is Triniti’s efforts to keep the flow of titles coming. Since launch, All-In-1 Gamebox has been updated nine times, tripling the number of games originally on offer.
If Triniti can branch out and secure more original games rather than just knockoffs, then it might be onto something. As it is, picking up All-In-1 Gamebox won’t do you any harm, but it isn’t quite the bargain it might initially appear to be.
For an amateur surgeon, Alan Probe has some incredible medical skills. This MacGyver of the operating table uses a DustBuster for suction, a butane lighter for cauterizing wounds, and a pizza cutter for a scalpel. This sequel to the popular Adult Swim surgery game is just as versatile as its hero, but it’s also a lot more professional.
A spoof of the Trauma Center series on Nintendo DS and Wii, Amateur Surgeon 2 is all about performing wacky medical procedures. These include pulling a rabbit out of a clown’s colon or fighting a squid lodged in a sea captain’s stomach. Each procedure requires a tool, located on the side of the screen, and corresponds to a touch-based motion. For example, making cuts with the pizza cutter/ scalpel requires a swipe, while removing foreign objects with the salad tongs/ forceps requires a gentler finesse.
The story takes place 51 years after the events of Amateur Surgeon, and Alan Probe has ended up in a retirement home estranged from his wife and family. He’s pulled out of retirement by a mysterious benefactor, and is given a number of freakish patients to practice on. The variety of wacky characters are the best part of the game– our favorite is a pig named Napoleon who wants a transplant of opposable thumbs.
However, the tactics you use aren’t quite as varied. Some of your instruments have a few different purposes, like using fire and electricity to fight enemies inside of patients, but mostly you’ll be performing just a few actions. Stitching, cauterizing, and cleaning a wound is performed on literally every patient, and none of these actions requires much skill.
You’re graded on your performance after each patient, and your score will be uploaded to OpenFeint. To obtain a top score and unlock the game’s two hidden missions, you have to perform each action flawlessly. Once you know what to do, the game can be a snap, except for finagling the finicky forceps.
Amateur Surgeon 2 is pretty hilarious, with a well-written storyline and a cast of bizarre characters. We were disappointed that the gameplay can quickly become repetitive, but for a port of a Flash game (which you can play online for free), Amateur Surgeon 2 is more fun than a malpractice lawsuit.
Breaking the ice is seldom easy, and while the ice-busting action in Amazing Breaker does little to alleviate that, it still contains an addictive sense of ‘if you just keep at it, you’ll eventually get through.’ In truth, Amazing Breaker is very much like so many other games in the App Store, such as Angry Birds, Castle Clout, or nearly anything in which slingshots are involved. However, this game manages to turn the basic idea on its side, and quite literally at that.
Unlike those other titles, you are not out to eliminate the denizens of some precariously-constructed shelters; instead, your goal is the complete and utter annihilation of ice structures. And in order to achieve this goal, you are given a slingshot and bombs.
Rather than hold the iPhone on its side, you instead hold it in its more natural vertically-oriented position as you pull the slingshot down and adjust your aim accordingly. The left, right, and top borders of the playing field are solid, allowing you to ricochet shots off– a crucial skill needed in order to proceed.
At the start of each level, you are given a number of bombs to deploy, each with its own attributes; the basic type immediately adhere to the ice and detonate, while green ones can split into three, blue ones can go through the ice and be manipulated slightly with the touch screen, and purple bombs can drop three smaller charges before finally detonating on their own. And in some stages, more bombs can be obtained through detonating one of your own in proximity to the pick-up, though their presence on the playing field tends to be finite.
In addition, it is possible to chain explosions of the smaller bombs together, provided they are close enough. Sometimes a little strategy is in order, and you can swap your current bomb out for another, thus allowing the sprinkling of bombs all around the structure, waiting for one big bang to set them all off and eliminate large portions of the sculptures.
Your ultimate goal is to destroy all of the ice, but thankfully, you can come up a little bit short and still clear the stage. However, you might find the required 90 percent destruction rate to be a little much in some cases, and even question how the amount left over can make up as much of the structure as the game declares.
Even so, with a little persistence you can succeed, but there’s still some frustration involved. For instance, if you begin to pull back on the slingshot, you can’t cancel the shot to swap bombs out, leaving you stuck on a course of action. Some spaces you’re required to shoot a bomb through can have extremely narrow– if not nonexistent– margins of error, leaving you to wish for a longer reach for your trajectory arrow.
And while the chain-detonations are a blast, sometimes it’s difficult to tell how close you need your bombs to be without clustering them together. The game illustrates after they’re placed which bombs are linked, but a better idea of their radius before trying to place more bombs would have been a big plus.
Finally, while it’s nice to have a game of this type that uses the iPhone in its vertical orientation, the full stage does not fit on the screen, which gives way to a little bit of scrolling. And that’s the bothersome part– the off-screen portion is really not that big, yet is large enough that aiming for fragments or targets at the very top is difficult to do. You can scroll the screen up, but doing so prevents you from being able to launch bombs with the force needed to reach the top.
Despite these flaws, which are all very minor in the overall scheme of things, the game is a lot of fun to play. In a way, it is like taking the Angry Birds style of game and streamlining it to some degree. No weird toppling physics, just aim and destroy. To that end, we like Amazing Breaker, and we like it quite a bit. And the game features plenty of levels and stages, with more to come, ensuring we’ll be playing this for a while yet.