Chillingo shows off new titles at E3

Chillingo held its E3 demo this year in the same area as EA, which makes sense considering that EA outright purchased it last October. The publisher of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope has a very impressive stable of titles due in the next few months, and I got to both see and play with them at E3. I've got some quick descriptions on these future Chillingo releases, including cute platformer Roll in the Hole, Draw Race 2, and an artsy little puzzler called Contre Jour.

Roll in the Hole

The first title I saw was a fun platformer featuring a rotund panda that rolls around the stage using two buttons on the front of the iPad or iPhone. The panda's very heavy, so momentum is what you're really fighting against, and you have to push the little guy through a series of stages without getting him rolling too quickly. In later stages, precision becomes paramount, and that's why Chillingo said it didn't allow for tilt controls in the game; they were too general for the close-up movements required.

The game's quite cute, and (because it's Chillingo) the music and graphics are well polished. Each of the game's big stages also has three ice cream cones to collect, and the player is scored at the end of the level on time and whether those cones were grabbed. This is similar to the stars in Cut the Rope, which is a design feature that Chillingo has used in pretty much all of its games lately.

Roll in the Hole seems fun. There's no price listed yet, but it should be out along with these other titles in a few weeks, likely in a universal iPhone/iPad format.

Draw Race 2

For Draw Race 2, Chillingo is working with developer RedLynx, the folks behind XBLA's popular Trials HD title. The first DrawRace was a self-published title and is still on the App Store, but for the sequel, RedLynx decided to throw in with Chillingo. Not only is RedLynx's further experience apparent in the excellent full 3D graphics and great sound, Chillingo's influence is felt in the tons of content available.

In Draw Race 2 you race a car around a track, but instead of merely driving the car yourself, you have to draw the car's path with your finger, then let the car run itself. It's wacky, but still fun. The game plays motor sounds as you move your finger around the curves, and the challenge comes in setting up real race lines. You only win when you can successfully cut in on the curves and open up on the straightaways, moving around as fast and yet precisely as possible. A boost button, a new introduction to the series, allows you to add a little interactivity to your races and possibly even turn the tide when you've made a bad line. There are a few different modes to play (four players can even compete on just one iPad with pass-to-play), and there's a lot to experience and then master.

Draw Race 2 will have Chillingo's own Crystal integration, but unfortunately, Game Center won't be included. That's a strange choice from Chillingo, but apparently EA wants to run its own gaming network rather than buy into Apple's in-system designs.

Contre Jour

Finally, Chillingo showed off one of my favorite mobile games of the show, an artsy platformer called Contre Jour. The name means "against the daylight," and that's what the game is. You roll a little eyeball named Petit around the levels, navigating him through pre-dawn and dusk areas. The twist is that instead of controlling Petit himself, you're controlling the environment around him. For example, to make him move forward you'd lift up the ground beneath him to send him rolling.

Later in the game there are other physics-based tools to play with, like tentacles that will grab on to Petit or fling him across a level, or Cut the Rope-style sliders that can move around the screen. I really liked Contre Jour; the gameplay isn't too inventive, but the art style and the nice, subtle music give the game an excellent, graceful mood.

All of these looked pretty great. Chillingo has definitely earned a reputation as one of the most profitable and quality publishing houses delivering apps on iOS, and if these three titles are a fair indication of its slate going forward, it'll likely be staying right in that category.