Monday, May 18, 2009

Stoneloops! of Jurassica. ($0.99, version 1.00)

iTunes Link.

I can count on one hand how many games I have been obsessed with. Puzzle Quest, Pixel Cross, PathPix, and Stoneloops! This is a rare game (for me) in that I keep coming to it for one... last... time, to try to beat the current level. This game is in the style of Zuma and Luxor. This is the sixth game of its kind that I try in the app store and by far the best. If you get one of these types of games, get this one.

You have one or more lines of colored marbles advancing through curvy paths onto evil skulls who want to eat your marbles. Your goal is to shoot colored marbles to match three or more and clear all marbles without any of them getting to the skull. Along the way you encounter different power-ups. The difficulty lies in having multiple skulls in some levels (along with multiple marble lines) and curvier paths that obscure your shots.

When you start the game you get a gorgeous menu screen with rolling marbles, glowing water, flying fireflies, and jungle sounds. The game has a prehistoric motif. I play most games without music and mostly turn on sounds just for reviews, but I find myself wanting to play this with sound all the time. It really adds to it. From the main screen you can choose from classic and grab n' shoot mode, change options around, view your high scores, view your trophies, learn how to play, or view more games by the same dev.

Options include a music and sound effects slider, enable voice on or not (more on this later), and controls. It remembers music options but sadly it doesn't seem to remember the voiceover option. The controls include:

a. Touch - Grab and hold to move, remove finger to release the marble - the default and the only one I use. There doesn't seem to be a way to swap marbles using this control method. On all controls method if you are covering the marble with your fingers other cues let you know the color - marbles of the same color appear to the sides of the "paddle/shooter," and the guide line (which shows you where your marble will end up) is the same color as the current marble.

b. Buttons. Move by holding and dragging. Button to shoot, button to swap marbles with the next one.

c. Tilt - Tilt left or right to aim, tap anywhere to shoot.

There's a control scheme to please anyone.

The trophies are varied and are given for points, gems collected, powerups used, etc. There's "levels" of trophies which adds more depth to the trophy system. The high scores are divided between classic mode and grab n shoot mode and include some pre-loaded ones. You can also clear them. You can see the name, score, and max level reached (but you can keep going from the last level finished without having to start over).

The tutorial not only has images but also has animations and walks you through all aspects of the game. It also covers the different power-ups:

a. Boost - advances your level progress bar by 10% (finish the progress bar and no more lines will generate).
b. Storm - a lightning bolt that destroys marbles in its path (which is only from the bottom to the top of the screen in a vertical line).
c. Meteor - a meteor shower destroys marbles.
d. Spear - get a few spears to destroy specific marbles and aid you in making matches.
e. Stop - stops the marble lines for a few moments.
f. Reverse - moves the marble lines back.
g. Color cloud - drops powder onto the marbles that turn them into the specific color of the cloud.
h. Pteranodon - a bird that eats the first 10 marbles of the line.
i. Multicolor - like a wild card marble, matches any other color.
j. Fireball - a ball of fire that destroys marbles.

The help includes instructions for both game modes. In Classic mode you have a "paddle" in the bottom with a marble that you shoot up to match other marbles of the same color and clear them. In grab 'n shoot, you grab a marble and then release it back up to make matches. Reminds me of the Xbox Live Arcade game Astropop.

There are some loading screens between menus and each level but only last 2-3 seconds and are not annoying.

There are 75 levels in each game mode (and you'll be playing some levels more times than one... many more times). There is easily over five hours of content here (being conservative). There are five different areas with 15 levels each. In each area you have the mini-back story of building a house. The one thing I hate is that every time I finally pimp out my pad, I abandon it for a new run-down house. No time left to enjoy it! I mostly ignore that backstory in this game and just tap through the five screens or so per fifteen levels.

When you go to start a new game you can resume a saved game or start a new game (and thankfully it asks you if you really want to start a new game, in case you accidentally tap that button while you are almost done with level 75). Going back to the menu or exiting out the app saves your progress. Not only do you start in the same level, you start with the same progress within that level. Nice.

There are bonus levels in which you first match marbles then hit rocks in order to get power-ups. Once you match the marbles, the rock will have a flashing power-up. Hit three rocks with that power-up and you will have that power-up at the beginning of the next round. You get a bonus round every five levels.

Before you start each stage, you can view the "world" name (i.e. five worlds, 15 stages each), the game mode, how your house is going, which level you're on, the total score, and you go to the main menu, view your house, or play. You also get a little progress map of how you are progressing through the levels. From the game you can tap Menu on the upper left to pause the game (and it's very responsive, which is great in this type of fast-moving game), you can view your cumulative save slot score (which doesn't get reset if you lose, only when you start over), your level progress meter, the world, the stage, and what color marble is next. From the pause pop-up you can go back to the main menu (and save your current stage progress), go to the options screen, or resume the game.

The sounds are absolutely amazing. There's some jungle music and sounds during the menu and some Indiana-Jonesy music during gameplay and if you turn the voice on, it tells you "Good," "Solid," or "Avalanche!" depending on how many marbles you match. I haven't heard any others so far. It will also tell you "Level Complete" and "Gem Catcher" at the end of the level. I can never get enough of a game that tells me how solid I'm playing. There's a little clanking noise when you release marbles and nice crunching breaking noises when marbles explode. You get a little congratulatory music when you finish a level. The music speeds up when you are nearing the skulls.

I have found the difficulty to be a little inconsistent. I'll play a few levels, then get stuck on a level, play the level 10 times, pass it easily the last time, then breeze through a few levels, rinse, repeat. It's more of a roller coaster ride than a gentle ascent to a top of a mountain. But with a game this much fun, little annoyances like this get a "who cares!"

Here is my wishlist. It seems the developer may not implement these as it seems I'm in the minority, so if you would like to see this too, please contact the developer :)  I'd like multiple save slots, with at least two. This would allow me to have a save slot with my current game and an open one where I can start the lower levels all over again when I just want to play for fun and not get (deliciously) frustrated by the current level I'm stuck on. I'd also love endless/survival mode, which is great for quick games. I'd also love to be able to start from any level previously beaten. Those three additions would make this the best game on the app store. That would just be icing on the cake. It's rare that a game will have me yearning just one... more... try. This one certainly does. I spent two hours on this review because every time I went back to the game to check on something, I played at least one more level.

It's a dollar right now with a description of 75% off sale. Get it. This is a no-brainer. This is one of the best apps in the app store right now. For the price of a cheeseburger you can have hours of fun. And less cholesterol.

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  1. Well, rather than above app I liked in fact I became the lover of another game as its just too good and awesome “iBouble Trouble” it’s been a craze for me for years and now its on iOS so its just wonderful for me and I am too excited and happy to have it

    Trailer :

    iTunes store link is:

    Hope you guys love it as well