I’ve come to notice that I have a habit of starting reviews for games by talking about a different game entirely. So holding to tradition I shall begin here by talking for a moment about Angry Birds. I think it’s fair to say at this point that Angry Birds is a success. With somewhere around 1 billion copies sold it has spawned sequels, a spin off and TV series in the making. You can now buy hats, shirts, toys, phone cases, docking stations and for some insane reason a cookery book of egg recipes. It’s a pretty good money spinner. So it’s easy to see why developers would look to imitate Rovio’s success.
Which brings me to Swing King. Developers Zoink! Have learnt all the right lessons from Angry Birds without producing a flat out rip off. The basic premise of the game is that, as the king (a ball of white fluff with a crown) you must swing around a selection of obstacles collecting stars before reaching your trusty unicorn and flying to the next level. This is broken up every now and then by a selection of boss fights that involves swing around obstacles in order to punch a massive black ball of fluff in his one eye. It’s a nice simple/forgettable storyline that gives the game some nice colour without distracting from the gameplay.
The action itself is driven a good solid show of physics based gameplay. The ‘swinging’ involved is a direct lift of Angry Birds catapult but over shorter distances and with the aim of finding something to hang on to at the other end. This is mixed up with boxing gloves, canons, disappearing platforms and more that keep the puzzles from getting stale. My only problem with it is that it is far too easy. Puzzles should be challenging, making you sit back and plan out how your going to attack the level and frustrate you when you cant figure it out, it’s what makes the completion all the more satisfying. The puzzles in Swing King will never frustrate you and most of them you will beat on your first try. This problem is compounded by the fact that the easiest parts by a long way are the games boss fights. For the most part though this is just a problem of level design and they point out on the game menu that there are more levels to come so hopefully, now that they have all the tools in place, they will be able to improve the execution.
But I don’t want to spend too much time being negative about this game because despite my issues with it, it’s fun. Which leads to another element that you can link back to ‘The Birds’, the art style. The bright poster paint colours mixed with the quirky silliness of characters and cut scenes (theres a nice achievement system that involves collectable wigs) brings the game to life and invites you to come play. Add to this a soundtrack sweet enough to give you diabetes that still somehow stays on the right side of irritating and Swing king becomes an excellent way to kill a few minutes on the bus.
Which I guess is exactly the point. The success of Angry Birds is not because it’s a great game it’s that it is perfectly suited to the platform. (I’m choosing to ignore the fact it’s been ported to every conceivable device over the past year or two.) There’s a fine line these games have to tread between being too shallow so you pick it up, play for 5 minutes and never think about it again and being too in depth where you’re only going to appeal only to the 5 or 6 people willing to sit around on their phone for 2/3 hours at a time. Getting that level right means you’re players are going to pick it up, play for a few minutes and put it down, but next time they have a few minutes spare they want to go back to it, and those are the games people are more likely to tell their friends about, and they tell 2 friends and they tell 2 friends and so on till one day you to will be making the kind of money that only cheaply made plastic tat with your characters face on can make.
+Good variation of simple ideas
-Not challenging enough
-Some issues with moving the camera
+Bright enticing world
+Vibrant and happy