Review: Babo Crash and Sketch Nation Shooter Are iPhone Games That Get It

Geek Culture

Babo Crash screenshot © Playbrains; Sketch Nation Shooter screenshot © Engineous Games Inc.Babo Crash screenshot © Playbrains; Sketch Nation Shooter screenshot © Engineous Games Inc.

Babo Crash screenshot © Playbrains; Sketch Nation Shooter screenshot © Engineous Games Inc.

I know what you’re probably thinking: Another iPhone game review? And is that really just a clone of Bejeweled? Well, yes, it’s another iPhone game review, but both of these games really use the iPhone platform well, and no, it’s not a clone of the classic game but a similar game with a few crucial differences.

Screenshot © PlaybrainsScreenshot © Playbrains

Screenshot © Playbrains

I was skeptical about Babo Crash at first because of its obvious resemblance to Bejeweled — a game I’ve played and enjoyed many times, of course, but one which hardly needed another derivative knockoff. I was pleasantly surprised to find my expectations if not shattered, then at least turned on their sides. Babo Crash at its core plays just as you’d expect it to: You swap two gems in order to make a set of three or more, which then vanish.

From there, though, it adds several ideas that make it its own game: Sets of four create a “hero” gem that, when matched, uses its super power. Each color hero has a different power, some more helpful than others, and some which, in a very cool use of iPhone technology, can be guided around the board by turning the device. You can also turn the iPhone to cause the regular gem-matching to settle the remaining gems in whichever direction you want. This can be especially helpful with levels where a bomb appears and needs to be guided to one of a particular set of four spots so you can finish the level before time runs out. There are also creatures called “Chompiis” that infest the board, locking up certain gems so they can’t be moved or matched until the Chompii is gotten rid of.

There are several more fun elements to the game which I’ll let you discover for yourself. It’s good fun for grownups and kids alike, and can be purchased for only $0.99 at the iTunes Store.

Wired: An awesome way to kill time for anyone. Incredibly easy to play, but difficult enough at the higher levels to provide a reasonable challenge.

Tired: It’s still obviously derivative of Bejeweled, so may feel a bit like something you’ve already played too much of.

And then there’s Sketch Nation Shooter, an innovative new game that uses the iPhone’s camera in a way I haven’t seen before. Not only is it a fun scrolling shooter game, but it incorporates a sophisticated game creation/customization system as well.

Screenshot © Engineous Games Inc.Screenshot © Engineous Games Inc.

Screenshot © Engineous Games Inc.

The shooter part of the game is completely straightforward: You move a figure around a scrolling game map, avoiding obstacles, shooting the bad guys before they shoot you, picking up points and power-ups, all while trying to reach the next level before losing all your lives. You control it by dragging your finger across the screen, and it’s a fun implementation of a scrolling shooter, but that’s hardly a new thing for any platform, iPhone included.

What sets Sketch Nation Shooter apart is the “sketch” feature. You can draw your own figures and make your own game around them. It’s a fairly simple process: You simply draw your figures on white paper (there are detailed instructions on how best to do this in the game) and, using the camera, pull them into the game. You can mix and match them, or use some of the ones that come in the art library included with the game. You can then build your own map with your own obstacles and power-ups, or just let the game do it for you. I’m no artist, but even I was able to make a game based on a drawing that (I think) slightly resembles one of the GeekDad icon’s robots (see screenshots).

This gives the game the spark of originality it needs, and makes it essentially infinitely replayable. You can share your games with other people, or try out other people’s creations, and the possibilities are, as they say, only limited by your imagination … well, that and your drawing ability. Imagine how much fun your kids would have drawing pictures of each other and shooting them, and you’ll see why this added dimension really makes the game.

Sketch Nation Shooter is also only $0.99 from the iTunes Store, and well worth it.

Wired: The ability to create your own game, and to play with drawings made by your own hand, is pretty awesome.

Tired: At its core, it’s still a scrolling shooter game, and there’s really no getting away from that. Of course, sometimes a scrolling shooter game is exactly what you want to play, right?

[All screenshots used with the permission of their copyright holders.]

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