June iOS Roundup #2 – the strategizers

Pandemic

Pandemic 2.5

Hey, remember playing this on your web browser back in… err… 2008 or thereabouts? Well, now it’s on your iDevice. It’s much the same as I remember, right down to Madagascar being a royal bloody pain to infect.

The game sees you designing a bacterial, viral or parasitic infection by activating and deactivating genes in the form of symptoms, traits and support characteristics. Symptoms range from photophobia to diarrhoea to projectile vomiting from every orifice. Traits are unlocked by achieving certain things with your disease (playing the long game, or spreading infection very rapidly; that kind of thing). Support characteristics allow your disease to spread better in certain climates, be carried by pests or more effectively resist treatment.

The objective is to infect and wipe out the world, or as much of it as possible. My general approach is to go with limited to moderate infectivity but low visibility and lethality to try and spread the disease as far as possible, then ramping up infectivity and lethality as soon as people start to really take note. I’ve not gotten the whole world as yet, but there’s plenty more attempts left in me. I’ll get you yet, Madagascar. You and your stupid smack-talking CGI animals.

Of note: like many iOS releases Pandemic is still being updated. At present there is no feature to save a game in progress, so you’re committed for a session. Sessions can take five minutes or half an hour; it depends on the game speed and your approach. Such a feature would be very nice but it’s not been added in over the month I’ve been playing the game for.

Epic Astro Story

Epic Astro Story

It’s another Kairosoft title! This one is a bit of a departure from Game Dev Story (yes, that’s the only other one I’ve played – I wasn’t tempted by Hot Springs Story or Numbers Go Up Story or Give Us Your Money Story). It sees you building up a colony on a newly settled planet, setting up production and export chains, exploring new territory, and visiting other planets to fight pirates and meet new people.

It’s halfway between what you’d expect from Kairosoft (get more people, level them up, find increasingly effective ways to make money, pursue new challenges and watch numbers go up) and a basic strategy game (simple automated combat, building placement, various economic options, research and development options).

Strategy fans will very quickly realise that the game has substantial limitations, but it still has that delightful Kairosoft charm thanks to its lovely 16-bit style visuals and constant drip-feed of new tasks and treats. I found it less open to replay than Game Dev Story as it was possible to more or less see everything on one playthrough, though it’s possible that there are things I missed (e.g. by maxing out all relations with other planets). Still, for the duration of that one playthrough I had fun with the game and don’t regret the purchase, even despite the higher than average pricepoint.

All that said it would be nice to see Kairosoft stepping a little further outside of their comfort zone. This is a start but they’re still only dipping their toe in the deep end.

Rebuild

Rebuild

Hey, remember when I reviewed this last year? It’s now available on iOS with improved graphics and music. Technically this is Rebuild 2, but it’s listed as just Rebuild so let’s keep things consistent.

The new music is provided by Bill Gould (of Faith No More fame) and Jared Blum (an experimental sound artist), and the new graphics (mostly concentrated around the zombie attacks) are courtesy of EvilKris (a British indie dev based in Japan). Both additions are enormously effective in lending Rebuild the foreboding atmosphere it always suggested but rarely presented.

The same is true of the new gameplay elements: the core mechanics remain the same but there’s now a lot more to consider including additional random events, means of completing the game, new research options, new survivors and equipment, etcetera. There are also new rock-hard challenges to tangle with: I’ve still not beaten the top two difficulties.

The game is as addictive as ever; I’m currently on my fifth or sixth playthrough. I know I was nice about Epic Astro Story just above, but honestly you should forget that and play Rebuild instead.