What other company's Spring slate features big guns, stargates, and shaved llamas?
Last month during GDC I got the chance to sit down with Skyzone Entertainment, and take a look at some of their spring line-up. Here's the low-down on three titles that you'll want to keep an eye on in the upcoming months:
The first of SkyZone's new offerings, Llama Country, wins my award for funniest game concept at GDC Mobile. You and your brother live on adjacent hills, you're in the middle of a feud, and each of you own a llama that the evil wool consortium is trying to shear behind your backs.
The action takes place on top of your hill, in a fenced off square that houses your llama. By collecting coins that appear, you are able to build weapons to destroy your brother's walls (or shoot your brother directly, knocking him down). Holes in the surrounding walls allow the evil ranchers to sneak in and shear a little wool off your llama, so you have to be quick to repair damage done by your brother as your furry pal can be shaved bare before you know it. That's the whole point, of course, as your goal is to keep your llama "clothed" while making openings for the ranchers on your brother's property.
Graphically, the game is solid; not exactly impressive, but there's a lot of care in what's there. As an example, I dare you not to crack up at the sight of a giant rancher tip-toeing into your pen, shears in hand. If you've ever seen "The Emperor's New Groove," you'll understand when I say they are Pacha's level of big and awkward. [If you haven't seen it, you should, it's hilarious!]
The controls were simple and effective, always important for a mobile game, and the ranged attacks on your brother are handled from an easy to understand top-down view of his pen. Skyzone assured that that later levels would feature improved weaponry, tougher wall types, and a more aggressive AI opponent. Due to be released "soon," Llama Country is definitely worth giving a test run if you like your mobile games quirky and fun.
I got a slightly shorter amount of hands-on time with SkyZone's next Stargate SG-1 title, but was again pleasantly surprised with what I saw. Unlike the previous outing, a side-scrolling shooter that received lukewarm reviews, the new title is an isometric-view adventure game with an original script that aims to play out like an episode of the series.
The first puzzle I encountered had me chaining button presses together to destroy enemy robots, hoping to hold out long enough for an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) to charge. It took me a few seconds to understand what was being asked of me, but pretty soon I was blasting the little bots with abandon. Next, I found myself having a chat with Samantha Carter as she explained the situation, leading me to the final puzzle of my play-through. Presented with a 4x4 grid of icons, I was told I needed to enter the password, and the icons vanished. It seemed a bit of a head-scratcher until I realized it was a memory-matching game, and I was through the door in a flash.
If these puzzles are any indication, Stargate SG-1 should hit just the right balance of difficulty; it's great design when solving a problem results in "why didn't I think of that before" instead of "I never would have guessed that!" The graphics fit the game quite well, the almost top-down view perfect for an adventure game, and the complete package looks to entertain fans of the show and newcomers alike when it's released just over a month and a half from now.
SkyZone's Duke Nukem mobile games have been almost universally liked, especially the recent 3D outing, but not many expected their next step. While I didn't get to go hands-on with Duke Nukem Arena (I may be getting that opportunity in the very near future), I was assured that the folks at SkyZone are working hard to make multiplayer FPS deathmatch on mobile a reality.
The matches will be limited to three players per map, but that's far preferable to ending up with lag issues. Finding a game will be as simple as creating an account and logging into the multiplayer browser, allowing you to see what other games are available, how many players are on each map, and other standard multiplayer info. Due to be released in May, Duke Nukem Arena could be a very big step towards bringing mobile gaming to "hardcore" players.