Imaginary Range review
Brace yourselves, for today we have a "new genre of entertainment" to tell you about. Or, more precisely, a comic that thinks it's a game. Or is it a game that thinks it's a comic? Either way, Square Enix is trying to gently tweak our temptation glands by offering it for nought pence.
Developed by H.A.N.D., the studio that brought us Final Fantasy: Chocobo Tales on the DS, this 53-page comic essentially intersperses the narrative frames with occasional mini-game interludes which move the story along.
In principle it's not a bad idea, but it relies on a) the quality of the story and b) the quality of the mini-games. Sadly it's by no means a foregone conclusion that you'll be interested in either. I certainly wasn't.
Now, I'm certainly no authority when it comes to comics and graphic novels, but it was hard to care about Toshiyuki Itahana's story even a tiny bit. There's an attack on Paris. Cue onomatopoeia. Blah.
You might care a little more if the mini-games were any good, but they're are as throwaway as can be. If insultingly basic block rotating puzzles and lame Flight Control and Missile Command-style interludes sound like a fun way to kill some time, then go ahead. It is free, after all.
But if Square Enix is considering monetising its experiment in the future, the least it can do is make the games worth playing. As it is, Imaginary Range feels like a waste of everyone's time.
- iPhone/iPad (Universal App) - £0.59
When a game rockets to the top of the App Store from nowhere, it's easy to assume it must be another insidious irritant designed for people with low attention spans and a peculiar fondness for birds. Well, incorrect, Mr Jump-to-Conclusions.
Nor is Crescent Moon's latest another copycat cog puzzler. Instead, the team has managed to trot out one of the finest ball-rolling games your disbelieving eyes have ever seen, all for the obscenely low price of 59 pence. I know.
Set across 27 lovingly rendered 3D levels, the premise is as simple as it needs to be: just roll that damn ball into the yawning funnel within the time limit. Getting there is another matter entirely as you try to gently tilt (or swipe, if you prefer) the ball across rotating cogs and gears, and negotiate precariously narrow ledges.
Unlike the iOS Super bloody Monkey Ball games, you always feel fully in control and, more importantly, the camera always gives you the ideal view. If you fail, it always feels like it's your own stupid fault.
Like the equally awesome Dark Nebula, Gears pitches the challenge perfectly, and gives you that one-more-go feeling without also instilling the need to lie down in a darkened room afterwards. When developers make games this good, it's only right and proper to reward them with cold, hard cash.