Good iOS games are the ones that hook you by adding tricky or surprising elements you have to deal with as the game develops: new zombies that react differently to your plants (Plants vs. Zombies); pigs hiding behind hard to hit objects (Angry Birds); or green ooze that messes with the water you need for your shower (Where's My Water?). These examples illustrates ways to mix up gameplay in interesting ways. Adding just plain more of the same is not necessarily the way to do it.
Sluggo, a game from part12 studios, unfortunately does just that, and only that. Overall gameplay is simple enough. You're a planet-eating worm and you eat planets by dragging your finger across the screen, being careful not to hit things not yet targeted for destruction. You also need to avoid running into the sun and to prevent comets from destroying planets before you do. As you eat planets, you grow in size. It can get incredibly cramped on the iPhone when the game starts throwing more than 10 planets at you at once.
Sluggo is great for people just learning how to play games on the iPhone. Your little brother or sister will get a kick out of the little ditty played at the completion of each successful level. But the game probably isn't right for "hardcore" iOS gamers.
To learn more about the game, I spoke with part12 studios game producer, Caleb Garner.
Q: Sluggo has a familiar feel to it. Did you guys look to any other games for inspiration?
A: Sluggo's original idea was in 2007, so the iPad didn't exist and even the iPhone was really just coming on the scene, and there was no App store... [A close friend] Doug and I co-conceptualized the core planet eating game initially as a misunderstanding. I was telling Doug about another game I made that dealt with an evil planet consuming worm-god ("Dark Summer," unreleased) and his mind shot off thinking about a space worm. We started talking more about it and the rules just fell into place. It just clicked and we knew it needed to be made.
Q: Sluggo has a bit of a retro graphical design. Was this a design decision, or did the studio want to focus more time on actual gameplay instead?
A: I really liked the feel of the original flash game with vector art. The dynamic shadows of the termination line for the planets and such were much more effective with vector art and gradient fills. So I wanted to retain that look. We were idea/tech rich and art poor, so our games show how we used to really design games that worked without requiring lots of art. This is not so much the case these days, when we're using artists for game development more and more; but since this was a "port" of a flash game, we opted to keep it like the original in some of the ways we felt the game was strong.
Q: I really enjoyed how the level of difficulty ramped up as I went along, but at the same time, it did get a little repetitive. Have you guys thought about ways to change up gameplay in future versions?
A: We have actually been working hard on our 1.1 release, which changes the game rules a little—the sun no longer hurts you, scoring changes and more. We also added boss fights at levels 15, 30 and 45. We have other ideas (planets with moons, enemy planet eaters, additional comet power-ups, etc.); but we also have other games to get making, so it's a bit of a challenge to make every game all it can be without enough people playing it to drive those changes. So we're going to release 1.1 as a nice improvement, fixing a few bugs and making UI improvements so the game is as solid as it should be in its current design.
photo credit: part12studios.com
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