Monday, October 21, 2013

Steel Story (Game Review)

While playing Steel Story, I had a sudden insight. Even though they don't play exactly the same, Steel Story has some similar concepts to tower defense games. Most tower defense games set up gun turrets alongside a path, bad guys come down the path, and (hopefully) your turrets blast the bad guys before they get to your home. I reviewed Age of Barbarians which I felt was a very well done but typical tower defense game. Plants vs. Zombies is probably the most well-known tower defense game.

But on the surface, Steel Story is a physics puzzle game, where you must place certain items, watch them fall, and if you placed things right, avoid bad things. Sort of like you were the pigs and you had to build your house so the angry birds couldn't get you (great idea for a game). But in reality, they feel the same. You do something, you wait, and you see the results of your actions. Different from arcade games, shooters, etc.

Well, Steel Story is a story about protecting cute little robots from a big robot that's trying to hurt them by squirting water at them. But it has the best help I've ever seen, especially for writing games to be played in non-English-speaking countries (which includes a large part of the Firefox OS world).

Instead of telling you, they show you with a cute two-page cartoon sequence.

Here's the first page:


You see robots in a factory with an boss robot telling the little robots what to do and feeding them oil. All is well. 

But, a pipe burst!


The boss robot is hit with water and it drives him crazy and the robots run away, afraid of the water.

But the confused boss pursues the little robots and spits out red water balloons. Your job is to help the cute little robots by dropping a few well-chosen objects from above. The objects bounce around and your goal is to have the objects cover the little robot so the water balloon doesn't hit them.

Here's an example:


The boss robot is moving from left to right across the top of the screen. I've dropped two wheels and a triangle in such a way that the falling water balloons won't be able to hit the little robot at the bottom left (above the left gear). Different screens have different layouts and objects, and the puzzles are sometimes tough. Essentially I had to try different techniques until something worked. 

So, Steel Story is a puzzle game, a physics game, a water balloon defense game, and in general fun. The art is really great and the help is really smart. This is an example of a nearly-perfect game that will keep you amused on a phone. Each round just takes a minute, but that's what phone games are all about.

Made with a modified Box2D game engine and another framework called Squire (created by the Steel Story creators, True-Token). Squire looks interesting as a game engine and they have a bunch of cool examples at http://true-token.com/squire/demos/.

All, in all, a great little game showing off the power of HTML5 and what can be on Firefox OS!

Cost: Free
Genre: Physics Puzzle (or Balloon Defense)
Score: 5 (out of 5)
Tested on: ZTE Open (Firefox OS)
Get it at: Firefox Marketplace