Monday, February 07, 2011

Wend your way across a hostile paper landscape in this week’s top iPad game

I’m a sucker for an artistically rendered gaming environment. Ever since first playing Yoshi’s Island on the SNES back in the day, to the recent Super Paper Mario for Wii, there’s something unique, engaging and downright fun when you get the chance to explore a well-drawn, bright gaming environment that’s rendered in a wholly artistic manner.

Cardboard Castle HD raises the bar in the art department on the iPad, while offering a truly unique level of interaction with the obstacles that are dropped in the path of your errant knight. So grab your scissors, use the power of a paper sun to dry up the landscape, and more in this pitch-perfect iPad exclusive.

This week also sees the debut of an over-the-top sniper app that won’t cost you a dime, plus a dual-stick arena shooter from the good folks at Chillingo. Tack on a free off-road driving experience and you’ve got yourself my list of this week’s iPad games of the week.


Cardboard Castle HD
Calling all heros! Medieval knights are needed to save damsels, rescue orphans, and take out dragons. Sure you’ll be made out of paper, but don’t fold: this is one iPad adventure worth exploring.

Arcade 3D Super Sniper 2 HD FREE
The city has been taken over by a band of terrorists. Quick, grab your sniper rifle and head for the nearest open window. A free gore fest for iPad shooter fans.

Etolis: Arena
A dual stick shooter that pits you against waves and waves of an alien queen’s deadly forces. Can you survive the onslaught?

Alpine Crawler Desert HD
Frustrated SUV owners who wish they could go off-road with their expensive toys will finally find an outlet for their frustrations in this week’s freebie driving game.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.


Cardboard Castle HD ($.99)

“Behold our noble hero traversing vast cut-out landscapes of paper and card in search of derring-do.” This begins an epic journey boasting art every bit as bright and whimsical as you may recall from Super Paper Mario or Yoshi’s Island. Your little knight is on a quest to build a storied reputation, and he needs your help to clear his way. That might involve grabbing some plain black scissors to cut down a tree, which can then be used to build a bridge for him to cross. You may also grab a cup of water to turn an enemy solider into paper mush, which you can also drop into a gorge to fill it. Tapping the sun turns the mess into a land bridge which you can cross. And so goes your journey. With three epic quests at launch, lots of enemies to wipe out, and even some interesting allies to win over, there’s lots to enjoy in this worthwhile iPad exclusive.

Arcade 3D Super Sniper 2 HD FREE (FREE)

“Boom, headshot!” If that’s your idea of the perfect first person shooter, then this ad-supported shooter is right up your alley. Despite the poorly-rendered 2D environment, and the in-your-face ads, there is a fun game buried under these minor drawbacks. The touch controls are responsive, while switching to tilt mode made things even snappier. You know the drill: Focus on the windows of the buildings near at hand, find the snipers, and take them out with extreme prejudice. Heads generally explode in a bloody mess, and the slower you are in acquiring targets the more citizens below are subject to gunfire. Throw in a generous helping of C4, attack gunships, suicide bombers, and a legion of hidden agents, and Jacksonville is just a heartbeat from total destruction. Get to it, solider!

Etolis: Arena ($1.99)

Leave it to Chillingo to cook up an action-packed, dual-stick shooter that’s instantly familiar and downright fun. You’ve been captured by an evil alien queen, and it will take guns (lots and lots of guns) along with a little luck to plow your way through her nearly limitless legions of enemy forces. There’s a mountain of weapons to unlock and upgrade, including explosive mines, plasma weapons, and rocket launchers galore. Add in three additional game modes (dronez, rockets, and hammers), and you’ll be blasting away for many weeks to come. Try playing with the dynamic camera on and off to see which works best for your play style. (In my case, ditching it was the best way to go.) Work your way up the Game Center and Crystal leader boards, collect every power up you encounter, and watch as each achievement comes and goes. Let’s hope for some graphical improvements in the next update, but overall, this is a worthy addition to any gamer’s collection.

Alpine Crawler Desert HD (FREE)

Frustrated SUV owners who wish they could go off-road with their expensive toys will finally find an outlet for their frustrations in this week’s freebie driving game. You’re in the desert with an enormous trash truck and a battle-hardened Hummer at your disposal. Hope in the driver’s seat and make your away across six challenging levels that get harder and harder over time. You’ll need to keep your eye on the upcoming terrain map to break and accelerate at the right moments. The physics engine is realistic enough to mimic off-road conditions, while nasty inclines and steep ravines will stop you cold or give you plenty of leeway to crush your cab. For nary a cent, this is one little app that will take the edge off any commute, plane ride, or layover as you flee the latest winter storm.

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