Developer: John Hartzog
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Get ready to get stuck up! Not in a literal sense, but rather, a new addictive game from indie developer John E. Hartzog which has blazed its way to the top of the App Store. StickWars is a frenetic war game that aims to capture the perfect balance of simple gameplay and meaningful strategy. In case you’re wondering if StickWars lives up to the hype being expressed all over the social media platforms (e.g. Twitter), I’d enthusiastically say “Hell yeah!”
StickWars puts you in the shoes of a king that’s tasked with the responsibility of protecting a kingdom under siege. A tenacious and ruthless invading army of stick soldiers are making life difficult for you by attacking the perimeter wall of your kingdom, so you have to take out your enemies one flick (i.e. touch and drag off the screen) at a time. Your game is over once your kingdom’s health bar is depleted, so you’ll want to make sure those skinny bastards don’t get their hands on your wall. Attacks come in waves over rounds (i.e. levels), and upon completing each round, you can collect cash enabling you to repair your kingdom walls and purchase new offensive measures to take out the army (e.g. prison camps, bombers, archers, magic, etc.)
The biggest strength of StickWars comes in its control mechanics. Killing an enemy is generally done by touching a stick solider and dragging it high into the air so it falls to a violent death. Your pulse will get going because enemies come so quickly requiring fast reflexes and an accurate index finger. In the later rounds of StickWars, new enemies will start to appear just as you acquire new offensive tactics to keep you on your toes as you progress. While there are options to relegate control to the iPhone’s accelerometor, you’ll want to stick to the touch controls since they are tuned very nicely.
A simple visual and auditory direction is executed in StickWars. The backdrop for the epic warfare occurs on a hand-drawn grass environment that looks like scene out of Braveheart or Kingdom of Heaven. While it looks great, more than one backdrop is sorely needed here to mix up the visuals. Soldiers are depicted as stick figures and it works very well. You’ve find comedy in watching and listening to the blobs of blood that come out of the stick soldiers from plummeting to the ground. Unfortunately, StickWars doesn’t have a musical score or support for the use of an iPod library, but I’m hopeful subsequent updates can address these issues.
Hartzog has captured lighting in a bottle. StickWars is a genuinely addictive game that does so much right, and it’s only going to get better with the impending 1.2 update (detail on the application’s 1.2 update is on StickWars detail page on the AppStore). While that update will address the lack of online functionality and some minor bugs, I’d like to see StickWars include some achievements and social media hooks ( e.g. Facebook Connect, Auto Tweets for Twitter) so I can compare my skills to the rest of the nation. All things considered, StickWars is a easily a top-tier experience and a tremendous value at the cost of a dollar.