At this year’s Gamescom, Nisute met with the people from dreamfab, a small game developer (actually a daughter company of Regensburg-based Gonamic) from Germany specializing in mobile games for IOS and Android. The company has only recently been founded, in 2010, yet has already released several games, amongst which the popular Chasing Yello, an award winning free game and Happy Hills. These enthusiastic young developers certainly don’t sit still and revealed an entirely new line-up of games to be released later this year.
First off these is Monster Plant, an entertaining little puzzle game taking to heart the fact that everyone loves flesh-eating plants (right?). Controlling a trio of different coloured venus flytraps you need to devour similarly colored prey using simple drag-and-drop mechanics that are instantly understood and fit the game perfectly. Prey will be walking from one side of the screen to the other and the goal is to make sure they’re devoured (by the right plant) before they reach the opposite site. Plants can’t eat prey of different colours than themselves or you lose. Sounds easy? The concept is, but it gets progressively harder as time (and levels) progress. There’s also the opportunity to earn ingame currency by gulping up coins that spawn in each level, allowing you to buy upgrades for your plants and some other cute visual features such as hats to outfit your plants with (they have no in-game benefits). The game is to be released sometime this year.
Another title from dreamfab is Word Wonders, combining the ever-popular Scrabble (if word-feud is anything to go by) with adventure games, all coated with a Prince of Persia-esque vibe. The goal is to create a hero, progress through a tower by beating several stages each level. There’s five levels in total and each level has a good number of stages, each with three different progressing difficulties (normal/hard/heroic) making for a total of 150 different stages. Each stage takes the form of a duel; your hero meets with an enemy that needs to be defeated by playing Scrabble against it. Placing down words allows you to gain points and deal damage. Letterblocks have different symbols on them, like a lightning symbol or a skull, respectively allowing you to gain energy points (for abilities that can be purchased) and deal damage. Once enough damage has been dealt this way to deplete the opponents pool of hit points (before he has done the same to you) you win and progress to the next stage. The concept is once again decidedly simple but effective and addictive. The game is of course heavily language-based and it may feel unintuitive if you’re not playing in your native language, but luckily dreamfab is looking to release the game in multiple languages. For now, German, English and French are confirmed but we were assured other languages were in the works.
Zen Shapes: The Way of the Brush is a little puzzle game revolving around Caligraphy master Yu, whose paintings have been cut into pieces and need to be rearranged. The player is supposed to accomplish this by choosing where to put square pieces containing various lines (straight lines, bends, etc.) and align them to make shapes. The game doesn’t force you to make any particular shape, the the shapes need to be closed and all the pieces need to be used up at the end of the level in order to advance. There’s two different modes: endless mode and puzzle mode. Endless mode allows you to freely create shapes and earn points. The left side of the screen turns into a Tetris-like sidebar showing you which new pieces are up next. If it fills up to much, you lose. Other then that, you’re free to make whatever shapes you want, as long as you want, and earn loads of points. Puzzle mode is more constrained and has you play as described before (completing levels).
Dreamfab’s original Happy Hills is also going to be expanded with a sequel, Happy Hill 2. Similar to the first one, you need to use bombs (placed by simply touching the desired location) to blow away different kinds of blocks that have fallen upon the once happy hills, now left in a saddened state by the weight placed upon them by the blocks. Completing a level has you use a limited amount of bombs to clear all hills of blocks, but there’s also a second optional (but a must for completionists) goal of trying to destroy all the blocks. Different blocks can be destroyed in different ways: wooden blocks need to set on fire, stone blocks can be drowned (or cracked when enough bombs are thrown at them), Steels must be drowned (no cracking) and balloons need to be popped (by propelling them into spikes). Wooden blocks are very light, Steel blocks heavy, and balloon blocks become heavy when wet and light when filled with hot air (fire). This creates for many possibilities to clear a level and get things done. There’s also an endless mode where you earn new bombs by destroying blocks and where bombs keep dropping until you either choose to quit, or too many bombs have fallen on-screen at the same time and you lose. It’s a nice fun mode for people looking for a easy, accessible challenge (although we were told the current initial difficulty level needs to be balanced and lowered for the end-product). The release of Happy Hills 2 is very near: it will launch this September for IOS, and will receive an Android version sometime later on.
After these demonstrations, we also got a chance to see a new game by Bit Barons, the team that’s developing Tri-dek: Creatures of Galena, a mobile based trading card game (the game is published by dreamfab). The game has been developed from an actual physical card game created by one of the designers, and turned into a digital game to optimize the chance for success (so as not to compete with Wizards of the Coast too much). However, if the game is successful enough, a physical version is definitely among the possibilities in the future. Trading card game fans can rest assured that it is one of Bit Barons priorities to ensure that full deck customization is in the game and that the ‘trading’ aspect of a TCG is going to be implemented in the game at some point (likely not on launch). The game looks to be a cross between Magic The Gathering and YuGiOh, but somewhat simplified to suit the mobile platform, without losing possible depth.
The game had just left pre-production at the time it was shown to us, but looks promising.
Most of these games are meant to be distributed for free, but some of them (Happy Hills 2) are released for a small fee (€1,99), and are due sometime this year or early 2013.