Jane Wilde Review (iOS)
A piece of string walks into a bar and orders a drink. The barman says “ I’m sorry, we don’t serve string in here”. The piece of string goes outside, ties himself up, ruffles the top of his head, walks back in and orders a drink. “Hey, are you a piece of string?” asks the barman. “Nah” replied the piece of string “I’m afraid not!”
Did you get it? A frayed knot – afraid not? Admit it, it’s silly and you smiled. Imagine mixing this type of playfulness and bad wordplay together with a boat load of zombies, skeletons and guns and you’ll end up with Jane Wilde, a free to play shooter that launches today on iOS for iPhone and iPad.
Set in the Wild West, you take on the role of Jane Wilde, the sheriff of a town suddenly overrun by the undead. Jane knows that the undead cannot raise themselves and sets off on a journey to find those responsible. From the heroine of the game being so curvy she should not be able physically stand upright, to the zombies who are also vampires with comedy false teeth and zombie dogs who bring you sticks of dynamite, Jane Wilde is a cartoon vampire zombie shooter with its tongue stuck firmly in its cheek.
The game takes place over five different stages separated into over thirty levels between them. The stages vary from the town you are ridding the undead menace from to a train ride to the south and a swamp. Each stage has between five and ten levels in them. The levels themselves are side scrolling from left to right with the object being to reach the endpoint which is normally a sheriff’s office or a gunsmith’s. Along the way you face waves of zombies – these get larger and contain different types of zombies as the level progresses and as you progress in each stage.
For each enemy you kill you earn coins. These are used to purchase more ammunition, powerups and weapons. You can also upgrade all the weapons you purchase to make the task in hand a little easier. Weapons available for purchase include a shotgun, Gatling gun and a fish that shoots grenades (that is not a typo; it is a fish that shoots grenades!). This all makes for a rather pleasant gaming experience. The levels are brilliantly paced that you can get through a couple of levels at a time whilst commuting or even a full stage should you be comfortable situated. The difficulty is also well placed that you do not feel cheated on the occasions that you do die and need to restart the level. These tougher stages can be overcome by simple grinding – playing previous levels will still earn you coins that can be used for upgrades and better weapons. Or you could purchase more coins with real money, but more on that later.
The sound in Jane Wilde matches the gameplay and cartoony feel of the game – silly and rather well placed. The weapons make the expected cartoon noises whilst the zombies die with a satisfying squelch. Music for the game has been provided by the Classic Maestros. A Western-like version of Grieg’s the hall of the Mountain King plays throughout the game which has you humming and tapping along by the time you are done.
Controlling Jane Wilde on your iPhone can be a mixed experience and possibly the weakest point of the game. The controls occupy the bottom quarter of the screen with two arrows for forwards and backwards, a fire button, a cycle weapons button and three buttons for activating your powerups. The main issue with the controls lie with the movement controls. Most arcade games on a touch screen device tend to use a sliding mechanism where you slide your finger in the direction you want the character to move. Jane Wilde has opted for buttons instead of slidey finger thing. This is fine when you are on a an easy level but once the game progresses and you have enemies coming at you from both sides of the screen lifting your finger to change direction can sometimes mean you miss the appropriate button and poor Jane stands there whilst the undead horde has lunch. The powerup buttons are also a bit on the small side. You tend to encounter the same issues here as you struggle to activate a power. By the time you have managed to find the tiny button and push it the zombies have already finished you off and are away looking for dessert. These issues are not deal breakers by any means, but rather wee annoyances that pull you out of an otherwise immersive world.
As previously mentioned, Jane Wilde is a free to play game and once again the game does things its own way. Sure, you can purchase more coins with real money but you don’t have to. In fact, it feels like you are not expected to either. I was able to buy all the weapons, upgrade them a couple of levels and get all of the upgrades during the normal course of play.
There are some costumes for Jane that you can buy for around 69p each (I would suggest the outfit based on a current western titled “DJane – the D is silent”). Again, these purchases are not essential or forced, they are a bit of fun. Where Levelbit are making their revenue from Jane Wilde is from advertising rather than nickel and diming the player. The adverts are in the form a static screen shot – normally for another game or app available on the app store – that pop up between the upgrades screen and the level select screen. They do not flash and whizz and annoy you, they simply appear and you have the ability to close them as soon as they do.
Levelbit also give you the ability to earn in-game coins for free by either watching a video advert or liking them on Facebook. The Free to play mode has in the past been used to disastrous effect with developers letting you only progress so far in the game before you need purchase in game currency or holding later levels or bigger weapons hostage unless you pay the exorbitant asking price for downloadable content that should have been included all along. Jane Wilde does not fall into any of these traps; it tends to use a different strategy – guilt. After playing this rather fun and well-crafted shooter for a little while you feel that you should acknowledge the hard work of Levelbit in some way. Personally I watched one of the video adverts and purchased a costume. My suggestion to Levelbit would be to include an option to pay a nominal amount to remove the adverts; I think you would be surprised by the results.
So, if your little town or village suddenly becomes overrun with the undead, pray that somewhere in your midst is a Dolly Parton lookalike sheriff who will help you in your fight to reclaim your home. If not, you could always head down to The Winchester, play Jane Wilde and wait for all this to blow over.
3.5 zombie-battling boobs-of-death out of 5Jane Wilde Review (iOS),