Entry 16: Fruit Ninja and Pewpew: Android quickies

Recently I’ve been downloading many Android apps as to study as I am hoping to develop some games for the platform. There are several kinds of Android/mobile games; some, like Gameloft’s library of games, attempt to reproduce the home console experience on tiny smartphone devices.  But another kind of game caters specifically to the mobile format and the usually very short game times associated with it. This short playtime means that they resemble older arcade games in many ways; like those early games, they are designed for a quick turnaround. These games often work best as reflex-based sensory experiences, a trait both the games considered in this entry share. Pewpew is clearly based on the Geometry Wars series of games and serves as an adequate replacement for that series on Android.

Like those games, it is played with dual joysticks (in this case, virtual touch-based joysticks). Though not quite as accurate and responsive as the dual analog sticks of an xbox360 controller, the virtual sticks work remarkably well. The left “stick” controls the player ship’s movement, and the right stick controls direction of fire. The game’s bright, colorful, but simple graphics, replete with fast, exciting particle effects, make for a game that is as much light show as shooter. This is reinforced by the heavy beats of the game’s soundtrack. The game is very challenging, and while game modes technically last until the player is eliminated, in practice each play session lasts only a few minutes. The end result is a pleasant, stimulating, but shallow gaming experience, but that is perhaps its intent.

Though very different in subject matter and control system, Fruit Ninja is in many ways a similar experience.  The player “slices” fruit apart by making a “swiping” motion across the touch screen with a single finger; the fruit are tossed up from the bottom of the screen, arc, then fall back below the screen. If the player is unable to slice three fruit, the game ends and the player is given a score for his performance. Combos and corresponding extra points are awarded for slicing multiple fruit in a single swipe. The game is attractive to look at. Colorful, well textured 3D polygonal fruit are well drawn and seem reasonably accurate; when sliced, their insides also accurately portray the fruit they represent. Sound design is excellent. The sound of slicing fruit and the splash of juice against the game’s “back board” are particularly satisfying. Like Pewpew, Fruit Ninja makes for a pleasant, fast-paced sensory experience. It is similarly shallow, but satisfying for short play sessions.

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