Let it never be said that Chillingo are coasting along on a couple of franchises. They're continually pumping out great apps and iOS versions of established Indie games, and I was able to sit down with playable builds of their winter lineup at the recent EA showcase.
And what a lineup it is. Casual puzzle fans will be well away, while more hardcore gamers are about to be treated to what could well be an iOS benchmark for strategy titles. Chillingo will be delivering an incredibly varied lineup over the coming weeks, and I've rounded up all my hands-on impressions for your eager delectation. Oh, and be sure to check out Super Crossfire HD while you're at it...
Home Sheep Home 2: A Little Epic
If you've already played the flash version, you'll know that the Home Sheep Home is a cute, accessible and thoroughly enjoyable puzzler starring Shaun the sheep and a couple of woolly pals. Each sheep can use their size and weight (or lack thereof) to interact with different scenery objects and solve different puzzles, making for a deceptively cerebral game with a seriously nifty hand-doodled art style. The sequel, Home Sheep Home 2: A Little Epic doesn't mess with the formula too much, but will pack a huge number of levels and some exceedingly clever problems into its budget package.
Chillingo have been working directly with Aardman Digital to make sure that the sound effects and 'feel' of the game is just right, and with plenty of gentle humour, Home Sheep Home 2 deserves to be taken very seriously indeed.
They might as well have called this one 'Furious Vegetables.' After a massive inter-tuber war breaks out between warring factions of your five a day, it's up to players to load a varied selection of ammunition into catapults in order to destroy a huge selection of intricate fortifications.
Angry Birds with veg, then?
Not quite. Isometric 3D visuals and multiple upgradeable weapons make for a more tactical experience than Rovio's trendsetter, with the need to constantly acquire seeds to spend on special ammunition or increase the power and range of your catapults. Tomatoes, mushrooms and the aptly named Sir Floret of Broccoli all provide different effects when lobbed into the fray, and the fact that your foes can fight back makes for a hectic battle as you move your guns in and out of engagement range. Definitely one to watch.
Hank Hazard: Stunt Hamster
Here's one for the casual iPhone crowd... who like a challenge. Hank Hazard is a hamster who squeaks in the face of danger, and the aim of the game is to guide his plastic stunt sphere (well, ball) through dangerous levels by removing scenery items and letting gravity do its work. Trampolines, weights, see-saws, traps and hazards will all provide an increasingly tricky challenge, especially when you factor in a number of collectible nuts in hard-to-reach locations.
Easy to play, hard to master. We love it.
If you're all about puzzlers like Cut The Rope and Roll In the Hole, Hank Hazard: Stunt Hamster is going to suit you down to the ground.
"Don't worry, this is nothing like Superman 64."
The Chillingo rep was keen to distance their iPhone Superman tie-in from the atrocious Nintendo 64 abomination - and with good reason. See, this new version is actually shaping up to give us what we want from a Superman game: flying around at breakneck speeds, blasting robbers with heat vision, putting out fires and combatting crimes as they occur throughout the two-dimensional levels.
Eyecatching comic book visuals and one of the best virtual thumbsticks in the business (no, really) ought to make this a serious contender for 'not the worst' superhero game of all time. In fact, it's shaping up nicely. Nice one, Tiger Games.
Extraction: Project Outbreak
But here it is: the main event. A game that, frankly, will probably set the benchmark for mobile gaming as well as proving that dedicated gaming handhelds are on their way out. Two ex-AAA developers are crafting a strategy game that feels like a blend of Cannon Fodder and Syndicate; with tactile controls, massive guns and incredible Unity engine-powered graphics.
In fact, Extraction is far too big to be discussed here. It deserves better. Stay tuned for our full hands-on preview!