Action Gamer in Puzzler Play Shock Experiment !

TiG Challenge a Gamer's Narrow Mind

Originally, iPodgamer was due undertake this mission. However, the good bods at TiG have set me a task. Recognising my affinity towards my favourite action games, they have acknowledged a need for me to be more reflective of the diversity of different genres.

They have encouraged me to embrace the joy to be found in the variety and value of different Apps. TiG want me to change my ways. Deep breath; they have sent me off to review a Puzzle and a RTS or Tower Defence game of my choice. "Oh, the horror...the horror" whispered Colonel Walter E. Kurtz.

If I had my way I would happily keep on blasting through the likes of iDracula, Siberian Strike and Time Crisis Strike, whilst busting some heads in Kroll or Hero of Sparta. All of this I would follow up by punching the pedal in Asphalt 4 or Real Racing. I love all action games: next gen, console, PC, portable, retro, Blu Ray, cartridge, digital download, emulated, whichever and whatever. Bring them all on. I know my favourite genres, and they are all action.

I am all for current gen FPS and cover and shoot third person shooters (e.g Call of Duty 4 and Uncharted). I rock 'n roll to Arcade racers and combo Brawlers (Pure and Devil May Cry 4). In fact I don't object to a sprinkling of complexity and whisper it 'strategy', if it is hidden behind an explosive engine. The fact is that I have always been this way. I grew up in the height of arcades, where the single statement "arcade perfect conversion" was a license to rush out and buy a console game.

StriderI long to return to this golden time of nostalgia, a time when the Megadrive made the term 'arcade perfect' tantalisingly close to being real. A time when I read with amazement the Mean Machines 92% review of Strider (Issue 2, Nov 1990). My very favourite genre is the run and gun games, including their slow and limited evolution into 3D (what is the 3D equivalent of Run and Gun- Ratchet and Clank? Nope, too much platform adventuring breaks up arcade style run and gunning). I've been addicted since completing Amiga Midnight Resistance, bursting through 16bit Contra and Gunstar Heroes, right though to the genres amalgamation with on-rails blasters like Sin and Punishment.

Second favourite was the side scrolling brawlers. Any kid reared in the late '80s loved Double Dragon, Golden Axe, Final Fight and the joy continued a decade later with Guardian Heroes (1996). I don't even mind a bit of RPG style character levelling up, if it is hidden behind bustling gameplay. My other genre loves were racers and shooters. Embracing the thrill of the checkpoint chasers in Outrun and busting criminal Porsches in Chase HQ. Dual stick chaos in Smash TV and power up hunting in Gradius, or mixing both unique control with awesome power ups in Forgotten Worlds.

TiG are happy with my love of fast, arcade action. Diversity on the team is an important consideration for a review site after all! However, they also recognise that tunnel vision is making me miss out on the range of choice in the App Store. They realise that to appreciate the joy of iPhone/iPod Touch gaming, I need to open my arms to a range of genres which my handheld offers. This includes the puzzlers and RTSs which are undoubtedly far more suited to touch/tilt controls than a scrolling brawler or one on one beat 'em up.

In all honesty I am not a complete caveman in regard to these genres. I have dabbled in GBA Advance Wars (albeit, very, very briefly) and like everyone else I neatly nested away tetrominoes in my sleep and I could play the breezeblock green screened Gameboy version all the way to a mean high score. I had fun too and my fellow members of TiG see that I am missing out. I know how to sharpen a branch into a spear, I just need to check if I can rub those sticks together to start a fire.

So here is my mission (should I accept it); choose two iPhone/iPod touch games, one puzzler and one RTS/Tower Defence game. Then one at a time play them to death or a decent high score, whichever comes first. Then write a review.

I have not been set a deadline or submission date for my wordage, it is all about the fun times, baby! I even get to choose the titles, which is not an easy task given the variety available. Therefore to choose I have gone with instinct. I will play the puzzler first, because quite frankly I find the entire RTS and Tower Defence genres, especially the word strategy, intimidating to my frantic, unfocussed little brain cells. They are only used to sending pulse commands to itchy trigger fingers, my head might just combust into pixelated flames from too much thinking.

25 years of gaming and it has taken the iPhone/iPod touch, with a little nudge from the good folks at TiG, to make me question my ways. So, what about you? Are you a proud core gamer? The type who would happily dust off their old Saturn to play through your mint Japanese copy of Dungeons and Dragons Collection, rather than chill out and relax your way through Zen Bound. TiG have provided a tape measure for my mind and the results were narrow. It is happy and content game playing, but lacking in spontaneity and experimentation.

TiG have also expressed alternative motivations for my task. If the Wii and iPhone are creating a new type of gamer, the casual player, how does it feel to step into their new gaming frontier? I would be casting my mind back to a mid '80s introduction, with my cousin patiently loading up Spectrum Manic Miner, to experience what casual gamers are now.

It was just a platformer to me, I didn't worry if it had puzzle elements. My dire gaming skills ensured that I did not get that far into it to find out. I can (not so fondly) remember the screech of its load screen and I can hum its soundtrack out loud. I didn't know or care that it was Edvard Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King", it was simply a boppy tune to jump along to. Therefore, I wonder which first play experience a new gamer in 2009 will fondly remember in twenty odd years time? Chances are it could have been played on an iPhone or iPod touch.

Touch iPhone Games Image

I conceive puzzlers as mostly being pick up play simple, but I admit with slight embarrassment that I find RTS and Castle Defence games perplexing. Perhaps diving head first into previously averted genres is my only way to freshly experience a game, with a confused and inexperienced understanding of the concept in my head.

I am not an elitist gamer, spitting fireballs at a fickle casual market. I'm all for gamers, of all shapes and sizes. This hobby does not belong to me; it is fun time for all.

TiG are encouraging an open mind. If I find out that I'm not having fun, then that is fine. It may be the games I pick, or it may be simply that I don't enjoy the genre. At least I can say I tried and I will try again to double check, just in case. I may even find a genre I enjoy as much as my precious Run and Gun games, a genre I play over and over again. I'm sure that I read somewhere that games are addictive that way.

Many complain about an unstructured App Store, but the inherent beauty of the iPhone/iPod touch is that there is a massive amount of choice, much of which is priced so competitively that a gamer can experiment and dabble for the price of a choccie bar.

So the puzzler I have chosen is Puzzlings. It has the word puzzle in its title and the publisher is named after Street Fighter II Guile's projectile launching. Just this tenuous link alone to a beat 'em up legend, justified its selection in my head. Also the characters in the screen shots remind me of Ocarina of Time's Gorons, which can't be a bad thing. I have also selected the Tower Defense strategy game Knights Onrush, based upon the developer's past record.

I simply love Chillingo releases, especially the work of MoreGames, and I adore this game's cartoon sprite visuals. I am absolutely addicted to the MoreGames developed iDracula, not only their Robotron style dual stick wielding, but also the wonderfully detailed sprite work and gothic backgrounds. Expect the JamieO Puzzlings review shortly, Knights Onrush may take more time (depends upon how well my neurons can cope). Keep an eye on the TiG review section.

Will I really be converted?

Surely I am not the only gamer who sticks to what they know best. How open minded are your gaming habits? If I find a new gaming pleasure, will you be tempted to try out that one 8/10 scoring game, that you dismissed based upon its genre?

Let the fun times roll (I hope!) :-) :)