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Armadillo Review (iOS)

Stefan Spieler & Ralf Mauerhofer have created this adorable iOS game available for your iPhone and iPad and I believe, from what little information I can find, that they are both Games Design students. So I wanted to first say a jolly well done to them both on their app reaching the app store (and my phone).

In their debut game, Bulldozers threaten to destroy the homes of the armadillos for road building purposes so the armadillos (you) need to work to blow them up using TNT. Where an armadillo obtains TNT from is beyond me, perhaps they have connections with Wylie Coyote or ACME. Lets just hope they are more effective with it then he was.

So far we have: cute characters – check; explosions – check. It’s a good start but can it deliver?

During the opening sequence of the game you see a bulldozer knocking down trees and scaring off some armadillos who were rolling around quite happily. Then an armadillo blows up a bulldozer but the look in his eyes, oh man, he means business. You do not want to mess with this guy.

So begins your path to the destruction of the humans to save your homeland. In order to blow up the bulldozers your armadillo must trigger the TNT switches on each level. As you start out there is just one switch needed, but as levels progress there will be more switches that need triggers. In order to move your armadillo you have to pull its tail in the opposite direction that you’re aiming for. Sounds terribly cruel but cruel to be kind and all that. You let go to send your armadillo rolling away. The more you pull his tail back, the more power he will roll with, though you have a limited amount of power with which to roll your armadillo. If you don’t use up all the power then the excess is turned into bonus points so there is incentive to try to do this in as few moves as possible. Of course you could pull his tail as far as it will go and set him off like a rocket in a pinball machine and hope for the best, this is not always the best option, especially in the later levels where you will encounter holes in the ground.

You try to collect the dynamite sticks (before they blow up) and destroy any crates by crashing into them for extra points too, but you need to be sure to do this before setting off the TNT trigger. Once all of the triggers have been pressed this lights the fuses and the bulldozer goes boom and it’s end of level. Well done on your destruction. At the end of each level you will get a Damage Report of how well you’ve done.

This is all very simple but soon the dangers start showing up. Tumbleweed can blow across your path and slow you down considerably, very annoying when you want to ping your armadillo around at high speed. Soon you will encounter holes in the ground and unstable areas of land; don’t stand there too long or you’ll fall down the chasm to a meet a sticky end. Some rocks might block your path and require a bit more power to burst through to get to where you want to go. If you use up all your energy before triggering all the switches then you will be swept up by an eagle and no doubt become dinner for a horde of hungry eaglets. Starting from area 2 there may be an eagle flying over the map and if you happen to get too close then the same fate awaits. Pipes make an appearance in almost a mini golf style, though not all pipes lead to safe places so be warned. Maybe it’s just safer to take the longer route.

The level difficulty progresses at a nice pace and it soon becomes very important how much power you put into pinging your armadillo around, especially when all of the above dangers come into play.

I found I was able to play Areas 1 and 2 and once I had completed those levels I expected to move into Area 3. On each area screen you are shown how many of the 3 dynamite sticks for each level you managed to collect. Now either Area 3 doesn’t exist or I didn’t collect enough dynamite sticks, but it isn’t clear to me which is the case. Ultimately I’d have to replay some levels to collect more sticks of dynamite just to see if it unlocked another area. Having said that, the description on iTunes does say it has 36 levels, so it looks like it’s just Areas 1 and 2, although this does give the developers the opportunity to add new areas via updates which I hope they do.

The graphics are nothing spectacular but they do the job nicely. What I do believe the game to be lacking is music. There is no in-game music at all. What you do hear is the rumble and revving of the bulldozer, constantly. When you are pulling on the armadillos poor tail you hear a sound that resembles the stretching of rubber, or pvc, like someone struggling to get into the pvc catwoman costume. I almost felt rude hearing it. I think the game could have done with some comical or wild west themed music like the title screen.

With Game Center integration and Leaderboards there is the opportunity to compete with friends for top spot if that kind of thing tickles your fancy.

All in all Armadillo’s is a great way to kill time, albeit a bit short.

6 stretchy little critters out of 10

Published inReviews