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Gaming Review

Mobile review round-up: 'Beatdown', 'Battle Cats', more

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Released on Tuesday, Nov 20 2012

Each week, Digital Spy rounds up the biggest mobile gaming releases with reviews and trailers. This week's games bring back the feeling of an arcade brawler, send adorable cats into battle, solve puzzles in their sleep and find a creative new use for poker chips.

'Beatdown!' screenshot
Beatdown

Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: 69p / $0.99

Beatdown is reminiscent of classic arcade brawlers like Double Dragon and Final Fight. It tries to recapture that arcade feeling with tons of enemies, combos and well-animated pixel-art graphics. For the most part it succeeds, right down to enemies who drop weapons to pick up. Swords, hammers and steel pipes add a temporary boost while a rage meter also builds up allowing you to unleash powerful attacks when full.

Unfortunately, Beatdown isn't very well adapted to the iOS touchscreen. The touchscreen joystick works well on larger screens like the iPad while it can feel finickier on the smaller iPhone display. Meanwhile, virtual buttons simply aren't made for the button-mashing that this type of brawler game demands, resulting in inputs not registering at the least opportune times. While Beatdown is high on nostalgia, it is hard to play it without wishing it had released on nearly any other gaming platform.


> Download 'Beatdown' from the App Store




'Battle Cats' screenshot
Battle Cats

Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: Free

Battle Cats is a simplified 2D take on the tower defence formula. You and your opponent each have a single tower, and must send forces across a flat battlefield to topple each other's castle. As the name suggests, all of your soldiers are cats, adorably animated in a hand-drawn art style. While you only start with a basic cat, as you progress through levels you'll be able to upgrade it as well as unlock cats with unique skills, like higher defence, attack and longer range.

Over time your castle automatically gains funds to deploy cats into battle, or that money can be spent on upgrading your tower so that funds grow faster. The game's strategy comes from balancing the two, which for most levels isn't much of a problem. Overall the game is fairly easy, with odd spikes in difficulty every few levels as a boss creature is introduced. Bosses typically require you to go back and replay past levels for more experience to upgrade your cats, making the game more reliant on sheer numbers than actual strategy. Regardless, the art style makes up for it with pure personality, as it's hard to say no to axe-wielding cats facing off against hand-drawn hippos.


> Download 'Battle Cats' from the App Store



'Sleepwalker's Journey HD' screenshot
Sleepwalker's Journey

Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android
Price: iPhone/Android: 69p / $0.99, iPad: £1.49 / $1.99

Rather than putting players in direct control of their character, Sleepwalkers Journey lets players control the environment around a drowsy boy as he haplessly snoozes through treacherous obstacles. Players will tap and drag ramps and platforms to connect the path ahead or move blocks out of the sleepwalker's path. New elements are added regularly, like enemies to tap, torches to light, cannons and tightropes that can be cut to open new paths. Each level is fairly short, but the ideas build on top of one another to create clever puzzle combinations along the way.

Completing a level is only part of the challenge, as medals will be rewarded for collecting all of the stars or all three moons in each level. Should you accidentally miss a star or moon there is a rewind button to backtrack the sleepwalker's steps. This encourages experimentation, though rewinding will take away from your medal score by making you miss the level's time limit. Players uninterested in collecting all of the stars and going back to earn medals will likely feel that Sleepwalker's Journey is over far too quickly. It is, with levels that are meant to be replayed and mastered rather than offering a lengthy adventure.


> Download 'Sleepwalker's Journey' from the App Store



'Chip Chain' screenshot
Chip Chain

Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: Free

Chip Chain is a refreshing puzzle game built around poker chips. At its core Chip Chain is a match-3 puzzle game, where you tap chains of the same number chip to clear them from the board. However, rather than completely clearing, the chips consolidate and increment wherever you tapped. For example, tapping on a 2 chip that is part of a line will create a chip marked with a 3 at that spot. Clearing multiple chains in succession earns a multiplier, encouraging you to plan in advance and set up chains that will lead into more matches.

In addition to clearing same-numbered chips, you will also be placing new chips on the board to help make those lines. The catch is that for every chip you place, a random chip is also put onto the board. The random chip can be any number and land anywhere, giving it an equal chance of perfectly lining up a combo or throwing a wrench in a carefully laid arrangement. While at first this seems like a negative, it also keeps the game more interesting by forcing you to think on your feet. Chip Chain has multiple modes, with short, long and timed matches.

As a free game the modes rotate so that a different one is unlocked each day. Players can pay to unlock all three modes permanently, or there is also the possibility of earning enough in-game currency through play to unlock them. The fact that it is actually possible to earn enough currency to unlock everything makes Chip Chain unique among free-to-play games, to the delight of players. All of it leads back to a satisfying core matching game that will keep players glued to their touchscreens for a long time to come.


> Download 'Chip Chain' from the App Store



What mobile releases have you been playing recently? Add a comment in the space below!

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