A Near Perfect iPhone Game, Hampered Only By a Better Competitor
Crush the Castle
Crush the Castle (CtC) is another physics based destruction game, very similar to Angry Birds. Crush the Castle was originally a flash game on the ArmorGames site, and if you want a nice preview of the App, I suggest you go check it out. The original game has spawned both a sequel and a pack of user designed levels, as well as this iPhone game.
I originally fell absolutely in love with this game, and it was in fact my first paid app on my phone. The action is interesting and polished. There are several different types of ammo, as well as several different materials at which you must fire. Each reacts in a different, but believable, way. This, however, is par for the course for these types of games.
What makes CtC stand out is the firing mechanism. This game uses a trebuchet style launcher, which is incredibly difficult at first. Generally, your first 15-20 shots will either by spiked straight into the ground in front of you, or land behind you. This is a drastic departure from games like Angry Birds where launching and aiming is straightforward. This added challenge is overall a nice addition. Once you get familiar with it, you will learn how to fling bombs incredibly far, or lob them directly into weak points. The control is actually very fine. This comes at a price, however, as some levels will require a series of very specific shots, each of which will require incredibly difficult timing. Some levels become a chore, rather than a challenge.
This specificity carries over into the physics model as well. There is very little randomness in how the game reacts to each attack. While this does mean it is very easy to determine what works and what doesn't, it also means that those edge of your seat moments completely disappear. After some play, you will know whether the shot will work as soon as you release it and see its trajectory. This turns the game into a technical puzzle that requires twitch timing, rather than an exciting demolition job.
As for the levels and difficulty, there are plenty of levels to keep you busy. Also, playing through the game rewards you with new ammo types as you go, which then carry over back to previously cleared levels, allowing you to go for high scores. Clearing levels is easy, as you have unlimited shots. This means you can simply fling ammo at the base until finally something gives way. There is a Gold/Silver/Bronze medal system, and getting golds generally requires clearing the level in 1 or 2 shots. This can become quite a challenge, requiring advanced ammo types and near perfect accuracy. Some of these can be a little frustrating, but I was able to get all Golds eventually. You then unlock "fantasy" ammo that completely breaks the game, but is an absolute blast to use.
Technically, the graphics are competent, as is the sound. The game goes for somewhat realistic visuals, and has a sort of tongue in cheek humor to it. There is also a level editor, but I found it way to much of a chore to be worthwhile. Also, you can't download other player's creations. The game doesn't update, but it is technically in perfect shape, as I have encountered no bugs whatsoever. It has that short burst gameplay that suits iPhone games, and the controls are a joy to use.
Overall, Crush the Castle is a great physics based destruction game. There is plenty of replay value, and the design is top-notch. Additionally, the high score challenges and unlocks make for real incentive to practice. Unfortunately, this game falls short when compared to Angry Birds, unless you prefer a very exact and technical style of gameplay. Nonetheless, this game gets a very high recommendation, and is a great value for the price.