‘Catapult King’ Mobile Game Review
With Angry Birds having swept the mobile planet, developers and publishers are always on the lookout for the next big thing. Or at least the next big thing that some what resembles a gaming sensation like Angry Birds. Lucky for us, Chillingo has found a developer that breathes new life into the Angry Birds style of gameplay.
Catapult King is the newest 'slingshot' style game from developer Wicked Witch Software. The story is simple – the princess has been kidnapped by a fire-breathing dragon and it's up to you to rescue her by defeating the soldiers in 64 playable levels. How do you accomplish this task? By launching your arsenal of cannonballs towards the different structures in each level, knocking the soldiers out. What else is different about the game? It's a first-person perspective, not the third-person one you're used to.
The first thing you'll notice when you start Catapult King is how bright, colorful and cartoony it is. The artwork is really nice to look at, with vibrant daytime colors and wonderful night skies with flickering torches in the dusk levels. Towns and castles off in the far distance give a nice sense of depth and the soldiers themselves are goofy and fun, as they stick their tongues out, moon you and otherwise mock your attempt at defeating them. I would have liked to have seen more variety in the soldiers besides a fat and skinny one. Maybe some horses or goofy jesters running around.
The goal of each level is simple – knock out all of the soldiers using the cannonballs provided. Controls are self-explanatory but the game does provide some in-game pop up hints as to what you're supposed to do. Launch your cannonball by pulling back on the sling. You can pull back as hard as you want, but you've got to be aware of how far you want to launch it. Tilt the catapult up or down by using the cog to achieve the best angle. You can swipe the top of the screen to explore the level and see where all of the structures are and if there are any hidden soldiers behind any structures. Tap the screen to return to the catapult view. One thing I found nice was if you wanted to cancel your shot, just use your finger to bring the catapult level and your cannonball will stay in place and not just plop onto the ground.
There are different kinds of cannonballs at your disposal, and work pretty much the same way the different birds work in Angry Birds. A Heavy Shot cannonball will blast through most wood and concrete structures. The Splitter, when tapped, will divide into three separate buzzsaws. The Bomb Shot explodes when you tap on it after launching. You can't change the order of the cannonballs so you've got to use some strategy as to which structure you should go after depending on what's next in your catapult.
The physics worked rather well, and in a game of this nature, if the physics are too tight then the game can become quite difficult. But I have one small complaint -- the physics in Catapult are almost too loose. One well placed shot and the structures come tumbling down like a house of cards. It only took me a couple of hours to breeze through all 64 available levels. Level 54 and up has your dragon enemy wandering around and you can use him to clear the stage, which makes the last levels quite easy once you figure out when to hit him. Some stages are quite clever, with a few rube goldberg ones that are fun to watch if you hit the right spot. There is added replay value in that you can try and go for gold crowns in each level, something I'll touch on later in the review.
If you find yourself stuck, don't fret. The game also comes with special power-up cannonballs that you may purchase. You'll earn magic points for each level you defeat. Use these points to buy a powerup if you're unable to knock out all the soldiers. There are three available power-ups:
Aim Arrow – Use the Aim Arrow to see where exactly your cannonball will hit. While a nice power-up, I only actually used it twice, and the second time it was worthless because I was launching over a wall and couldn't see where the cannonball was going to land. Once you get the hang of how to properly use the catapult, you won't be using this one very often.
Earth Shock – The Earth Shock power-up is a lot of fun to use. Can't seem to knock down that structure and get all of the soldiers? No problem. For 25 magic points, launch one of these babies toward the structure and watch the thing explode into a hundred different pieces as soldiers go flying everywhere.
Lunar Storm – This is arguably the most powerful power-up in the game and one you'll use the most if you're stuck in a level. Once you hit your target, a rain of blue death comes falling from the sky, smashing everything it hits. It's great if there are multiple soldiers scattered in an area and your single cannonball can't get at them all.
Don't worry if you're low on magic. Most of the time you'll be able to get through the levels without having to spend your magic points, though if you are low you can purchase more. You can get some free magic if you connect the game to Facebook and Twitter. Post a message to Facebook or Twitter and earn 50 magic points for each one. You can only earn these points once, however.
Chillingo also has their own version of GameCenter called Crystal. Create a Crystal account where you can challenge friends, snag achievements and see your ranking. It's quite a nice interface and worked well within the game, alerting you to badges and achievements earned. The only downside to it is I didn't see a lot of my Facebook or Twitter friends using it. Perhaps I need more friends...
The number of shots you use, the enemies you knock out with each shot, your direct hits, rebound shots, etc., will determine what kind of crown you earn on each level. It can be difficult to earn that coveted gold crown but practice makes perfect. There are also hidden coins in the levels that you can try and go for, though I'm not sure if they're absolutely necessary to achieve a gold crown. I don't know if you unlock something by getting all gold crowns. I'm still working on it. What I do know is that future updates will have more levels, so you're going to get a lot of gameplay for your .99 cent purchase. (You can unlock the current levels for another buck, but don't waste the money.)
Fun graphics, great sound effects and clever levels make Catapult King a must buy. The game is a lot of fun to play and I actually couldn't put it down, stopping my review twice to pick it up and play some of the levels again. With the promise of additional content, Chillingo has another easy to pickup and play winner on their hands. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a princess to rescue.
App Store Link: Catapult King | By Wicked Witch Software/Chillingo | Price: $.99 | Version: 1.0 | 43.9 MB | Rating 9+