- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Here’s a look at a few games for Apple’s iPad.

Back to the Future: The Game, Episode 1 (Telltale Games, $6.99)  Famed time travelers Marty McFly and Doc Brown are continuing their adventures on Apple’s magical tablet.

This animated ode to the 1980s film franchise directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd gives fans a new way to enjoy interactive cinema.

Taking place roughly six months after the third film, the story has gamers control Marty and, with help from the films’ time-bending DeLorean, go back to the 1930s and Hill Valley’s Prohibition days on a quest to find missing scientist Emmett “Doc” Brown and not rewrite history.

Fans of games such as Tales of Monkey Island and Sam & Max Save the World will be familiar with the search-and-question routine. The player interrogates characters such as the dowdy Edna Strickland or bully Biff Tannen through choices on the screen, and uses the iPad’s touch screen to move Marty around to explore locations.

Although already available for computers and PlayStation 3, I much prefer the iPad’s mobility to play anywhere and its touch-screen interface for this type of challenge.

Specifically, it’s much easier to point to objects, such as grabbing a mysterious shoe in the DeLorean or accessing an ever-expanding inventory with simple taps on the screen.

Be aware, completists, this is only episode one of five (it will take $28 more to complete the adventures), but this episode offers six chapters worth of plot-building interactivity that should take hours to exhaust fans.

As far as any problems, I’ll forgive some of the scene stuttering and the simplicity of the puzzles, as the stylish three-dimensional animation looks great, with likenesses of all of the primary characters. It’s also nice to hear Mr. Lloyd reprise his role as the wacky Doc.

WackyLands Big Boss (Chillingo, $1.99)  The Trogon Kingdom and North Pole are ripe pickings for a crushing visit by a customizable behemoth in this cute, side-scrolling action game.

The challenge requires a player to use an egg-shaped Godzilla-size monster to pillage and plunder while fending off attacks from a variety of foes, such as archers, knights, ninja, pesky wizards (who aren’t afraid to shrink the Big Boss) and brigades of Santa’s female elves wielding spears.

The addictive experience is not just about controlling the beast through exhaustive finger-tapping and swiping at him to deliver devastation and movements, but also about collecting coins to purchase fashion, weapons and upgrades.

Spending time equipping the big guy with a club and sensible footwear while bringing out his personality through facial features, eyes and an assortment of radical clothing (ranging from a Robin Hood shirt to a jester hat) will take longer than actually playing through the more than a dozen scenarios.

Power-ups are also enabled as the boss conquers multiple hordes of enemies with helpful tricks, including stomping a battlefield clear of enemies and setting foes on fire.

And just to keep the Big Boss consistent with his monstrous personality, he can snack on a princess (or even Mrs. Claus, heaven forbid) to keep the health meter full while in the middle of combat.

A trio of minigames, the ability to create three monsters and a pair of difficulty settings add to the replayability while a modern animated storybook style set in snowy villages and quaint fairy-tale towns will charm the youngsters.

It’s hard to believe this much depth and fun can cost so little.

Additionally, the beauty of this game is not just having so much colorful fun for $2, but also the sneaking suspicion Chillingo will add free downloadable levels to the dozen already in place (remember its other ever-expanding titles, such as Angry Birds and Candy?) to keep the Big Boss wreaking havoc on other kingdoms.

Food Processing HD (Chillingo, $1.99)  In this iPhone upgrade, the player will feel as if he is stuck in an episode of “I Love Lucy,” as he finds himself chopping and dicing an assortment of fruits and vegetables whizzing by, more and more quickly, on a conveyer belt with the only reward being the prospect of sitting atop a worldwide point leader board.

The level of pride I felt after mastering the popping of peas out of their green pods nearly brought a tear to these weary eyes.

Of course, finesse and following instructions is the key to victory here, as clipping an eggplant just to take off its stem, splitting a pumpkin in four pieces and poking a pomegranate just right to get it to spill its seeds must be performed quickly and with a scalpel-style precision of the index finger.

Avoid rotten produce to stay alive and build point totals in this organic chop shop with the unenviable promise of meeting one’s demise in the daunting Hell’s Kitchen mode.

That’s about it, folks, to this odd sort of challenge guaranteed to exhaust fingers as they poke and swipe on the iPad’s touch screen. Food Processing HD defines time-wasting, but can deliver the goods while sitting in a doctor’s office or stuck on a subway ride.

Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries: Shadow Ranch HD (Chillingo, $4.99)  The famed female sleuth makes her debut on the iPad and gives tweens a story to not only read, but also interact with.

Through a book format, complete with swiping the top of the screen to move through pages, children not only delve into the eight chapters of text, but also will find word-building challenges, sound effects, animations and plenty of items to click on.

With ghost sightings and accidents on Shadow Ranch, the story places Nancy and her pals, George and Bess, in full-blown mystery-solving mode.

That translates into readers following her adventure while performing tasks, such as singing along with Shorty to campfire songs (“Home on the Range,” anyone?), finding 10 bird eggs in the forest (click around a photo-realistic image and on each egg to collect) and trying to identify constellations in a dark Western sky.

It also leads to dozens of word puzzles. For example, play a minigame to form words using a set number of letter tiles while Nancy takes part in a horse race. The faster words are formed, the faster she moves to the finish line.

Or click on word collectibles within the text that open more letter tile games. Solve all of those lexicon puzzles and receive seven additional mini-mysteries to read.

No question, parents will love the potential as they watch youngsters poke at highlighted words to read definitions, select paths to determine the story and actually read something besides text messages from friends.

However, players will be exhausted slogging through those dozens of minigames guaranteed to boggle the brain.

* Send e-mail to jszadkowskiwashingtontimes.com.


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