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Gaming Review

Mobile reviews: Ms Splosion Man, Super Stickman Golf 2, Solitaire Blitz

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Released on Tuesday, Apr 2 2013

Each week, Digital Spy rounds up the biggest mobile gaming releases with reviews and trailers. This week's games include an explosive platformer, a massive miniature golf game, a reinvention of the original cellphone game and a mobile card game from Popcap.

Ms Splosion Man
Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: £1.99 / $2.99

Rather than worry about the XBLA original, Twisted Pixel has jumped right into the iOS market with its platformer sequel Ms Splosion Man.

While platformers have many inherent problems on touch screens, Ms Splosion Man's virtual buttons work quite well for movement while tapping anywhere else on the screen performs an explosive jump. The game is still all about timing, giving you three jumps before needing to touch the ground or rest against a wall.

On iPhone the camera can become a bit of a problem though, using a zoomed-out view that often makes it hard to see Ms Splosion Man and obstacles. This is compounded in some later levels that let you jump into the background, which is a nice effect but also makes you that much smaller on the screen.

Twisted Pixel has managed to port all 50 levels of the game to iOS, with a few visual tweaks and simplified backgrounds for the mobile version that players will only really notice if they played the console version heavily.

'Ms. Splosion Man' screenshot

© Microsoft

'Ms. Splosion Man' screenshot

'Ms. Splosion Man' screenshot

© Microsoft

'Ms. Splosion Man' screenshot



There is one big change in the iOS version though, and that is the addition of challenges for each level. The additional goals will earn you coins, which can be used to unlock new levels. This new level progression means that you no longer unlock levels simply by making it to the exit, and may have to replay levels to earn enough coins to continue.

It also means levels that once required players to find a secret exit are now easily accessible. It's nice that more people will get to play the previously hidden levels, but without the incentive to explore for secret exits Twisted Pixel has removed a lot of replay value from the game.

Ms Splosion Man is as faithful a port as you can get, right down to the heroine's chipper pop culture references and hilarious cutscenes. It isn't perfect though, due mostly to the unavoidable limitations of the touch screen.


> Download 'Ms Splosion Man' from the App Store




Super Stickman Golf 2
Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: 69p / $0.99

Super Stickman Golf 2 is everything a sequel should be. It offers 20 increasingly creative courses that mix up the satisfying 2D golf gameplay with fun twists, including sticky surfaces to let you tee off from the walls and ceiling should the opportunity arise.

Later levels go even further with portals to teleport your ball around the hole, which comes on top of trying to avoid typical golf hazards like water, sand traps and clever contours in the landscape.

You can also now unlock a wide array of hats for your stickman or stickwoman golfer, through a hat lottery. The hats add cosmetic customization, but also offer new abilities like slowing down the swing timer or turning all sand traps into sticky surfaces.

Super Stickman Golf 2

© Noodlecake Studios Inc

Super Stickman Golf 2



In addition to playing through the wealth of content as a solo player, there are both simultaneous and turn-based multiplayer modes for up to four players. The turn-based mode is a more conventional score-based match letting players asynchronously take turns at their leisure.

The simultaneous race mode is the exact opposite, having all players competing to be the first to the hole with an emphasis on time rather than the number of swings. Both modes have their own charms, so it's fantastic that the game includes both from the start.

Super Stickman Golf 2 is one of those games that is easy to pick up and play a few holes, or you can dive in and practice to master all of its tricks. There's already so much content that you'll be playing Super Stickman Golf 2 for a long time to come, and if the studio's history holds true then expect to see regular updates continue to build on an already fantastic game.


> Download 'Super Stickman Golf 2' from the App Store



Nimble Quest
Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: Free

At its core, Nimble Quest is an update to the original cellphone game, Snake. However, instead of collecting apples to grow, you're collecting RPG characters to help you through each level.

You start by picking a hero, like an archer, knight or mage, who takes the lead in the parade of characters, each with their own attack style. For example, archers fire long-range arrows straight ahead while knights attack up close in a wide arc.

By defeating enemies you'll earn gems to upgrade power-ups and new heroes to recruit, adding more units to your RPG conga line.

'Nimble Quest' screenshot

© NimbleBit LLC

'Nimble Quest' screenshot

'Nimble Quest' screenshot

© NimbleBit LLC

'Nimble Quest' screenshot



As the levels progress, you'll encounter more frequent and powerful enemy waves, while also trying to avoid running into any walls.

It can get pretty challenging before too long, relying on quick reflexes and more than a little luck as enemies roam the map in irregular patterns. Enemies can even defeat characters in your line if you aren't careful, though if the lead hero falls then it is a game over.

Nimble Quest is a fun twist on the classic Snake game, with the random heroes you collect making it a different enough experience each time to keep you coming back.


> Download 'Nimble Quest' from the App Store



Solitaire Blitz
Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: Free

Solitaire Blitz brings Popcap's free-to-play card game to mobile devices with everything intact that made it an addicting time-sink on Facebook.

Based on the classic card game Pyramid Solitaire, players build on a pile of cards from seven stacks, tossing up cards that are either one higher or one lower than the top of the pile.

With the blitz name though, the game becomes a race against the clock with a round coming to an end when the timer runs out rather than when you run out of moves.

'Solitaire Blitz' screenshot

© PopCap

'Solitaire Blitz' screenshot



You can extend time by depleting your seven stacks below set goal lines, which adds an interesting strategic element as you start to look at each move in a different way. Using certain cards will also unlock up to two additional piles to build on, which opens up more move possibilities.

Solitaire Blitz does incorporate microtransactions, letting you buy silver with real money to buy single-use power-ups, but the game is plenty fun without them, making it entirely optional.

Rounds are quick and satisfying, encouraging you to try just one more time, and before you know it Solitaire Blitz will easily eat away hours of your time.


> Download 'Solitaire Blitz' from the App Store

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