I met up with Chillingo at last week's E3 event here in Los Angeles, and got to see a few of their upcoming titles in action. Here's a few games they were showing off, and some early impressions of each.
This was probably my favorite game of the show -- it's a line-drawing game where you're tasked with drawing routes for survivors of a zombie apocalypse to rescue choppers. As they appear on sides of the touchscreen, it's your job to draw a path through the walking undead, and as the 28 days in the game go by, the difficulty ramps up with more undead and more survivors. Additionally, there are powerups and other items to collect, which give the game some tower defense-style elements, enabling you to defeat the undead from offscreen. But sending your survivors to get the powerups means they'll have to take separate routes and risk more danger.
Zombie Escape was about three weeks out from release when I saw it last week, so it should be on the App Store by the end of this month. It's definitely worth a look, especially if you're a fan of the line-drawing genre.
The Jim & Frank Mysteries: The Blood River Files
The Jim & Frank Mysteries are Chillingo's version of the popular Professor Layton games for the DS -- a fun little mystery story wrapped up with a nice set of minigames and puzzles to go through. Jim and Frank don't quite have the charming educational feel that Professor Layton does, but the puzzles aren't any less devious, and some of them make excellent use of the iPhone's hardware. The (first episode, I suppose) of the Jim & Frank Mysteries should be out on the App Store any day now.
Pro Zombie Soccer
Zombies are popular, and the World Cup is going on, so why not combine the two, right? That's the thinking behind Pro Zombie Soccer, which is out on the App Store right now. The premise may be silly, but it makes for fun gameplay -- the section I played had me kicking a ball at the heads of encroaching zombies, and apparently there's a whole backstory and extra abilities to earn, all portrayed by some very polished and well-designed (if a little gory) graphics. The basic gameplay has you dragging a marker behind a ball to aim and kick it toward some undead craniums, but there are powerups that can help out along the way as well.
The game's only 99 cents as an introductory price right now, so if that gameplay video linked above interests you, it's worth the buck for sure.
Knight's Rush was another very impressive-looking game. The idea here is that Chillingo is taking their popular Knights Onrush castle defense title, and turning it into a more straightforward side-scrolling beat-em-up. I didn't get to play much of it (about half a level), but what I played was very well done -- attacking was responsive and the graphics were colorful and satisfying. The one issue I had was that it was a little shallow, but of course I played the earliest part of the game, so there will eventually be more abilities and features to play around with. This one's due out in about a month or so, and it's certainly one to watch for.
Finally, Chillingo is publishing the movie tie-in game for Predators on the iPhone, in conjunction with Fox Digital Entertainment. The game is interesting -- rather than follow the storyline of the movie, it's more of an arcade title, where you play as a Predator wandering around a jungle environment in top-down third person, killing all sorts of human bad guys in all sorts of gory ways. The game lets you use all of the Predator's various toys, including his shoulder cannon, camo mode, and heat vision -- at the beginning of the game, you get access to everything, and then after a quick story sequence, it's your task to upgrade over various kinds of levels and re-earn all of the equipment yourself.
As you play through the twenty-four levels, there will also be various challenges to meet. And there's one more fun feature: something (no spoilers) apparently happens in the upcoming movie which will change the story, at which point Fox will release an update for the game. No idea what that is, but it's cool that a bigger company like Fox is supporting their iPhone game with content after release.
The game was interesting -- the graphics are good, and though I was only playing the iPhone game blown up 2x on the iPad, this seems like a game where the larger characters and bigger screen space might make a difference. Unfortunately, the app won't be released universally, and I was told that the $2.99 iPhone and iPad versions will play pretty much the same (though there are supposed to be more features added to the iPad version eventually). The game will hit the App Store on July 1st, just a week before the movie releases on July 9th. We'll have to see just how good the final game is, but it is interesting to see a bigger property brought to the iPhone with a little more care and attention than just a movie cash-in.
Excellent lineup from Chillingo lately -- while their genre choices aren't exactly risky, they are really showing a lot of polish and variety in the games they're choosing to publish.