For the past month I’ve been playing Kapowie, bjango’s latest creation. As we’ve come to expect from bjango, the game has great aesthetic appeal but it’s got it where it counts too, which is to say, it’s a smooth running, well-engineered piece of software. I tested this game on a first-generation iPhone and encountered no […]
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Review: Kapowie

icon-256.pngFor the past month I’ve been playing Kapowie, bjango’s latest creation. As we’ve come to expect from bjango, the game has great aesthetic appeal but it’s got it where it counts too, which is to say, it’s a smooth running, well-engineered piece of software. I tested this game on a first-generation iPhone and encountered no hiccups. (I hate to know how lightning quick this thing runs on an iPhone 3GS, third-generation iPod touch, or even the forthcoming iPad.)

This addictive little game based around how quickly you can spot, and tap a target. Rinse and repeat. It sounds easy but as you progress through each round of difficulty the game begins to pick up speed until you can’t keep up. They also throw in targets that you’re not supposed to hit to add to the confusion. Kinda like whack-a-mole, but for your fingertips.

Upon launching the game the first thing you come in contact with is the launch screen. After a few seconds loadtime, you are greeted with the main menu with in-game screenshots scrolling across the top, and a kinda catchy/annoying tune playing in the background. From here you can jump right into the game, check the leaderboard, or change settings.

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The options screen allows users to adjust sound effects and music volume levels, while giving you links to bjango.com and bjango’s twitter feed. There is also a Help link in the upper left in case you get stuck. Exactly the kind of stuff you would expect to see in an options pane.

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The leaderboard pane allows you to see your tops scores or the top 100 global scores. Again, exactly the kind of thing you’d expect to see.

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I’ll pause here to point out the “woodgrain” theme used in these different panes is definitely an odd choice for this kind of game, yet it doesn’t feel entirely out of place. The choice is even bolder when contrasted with the metallic-looking background they chose.

Now, as for the gameplay. When you push the “play” button you are presented with a randomly selected level to play through. After you clear the first level, you will be presented with another, then another, then another, and so on, until you come back to the original level you started at, except this time it will be that much harder to clear the level. This cycle repeats until you can’t keep up.

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Don’t fret, a traditional “life” system is there to back you up. You start out with three lives and can collect more as you go. That means you can tap on three “false targets”, or not destroy enough targets to meet the minimum target requirements needed to pass the level, three times before it’s game over.

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There is also an “ammo” counter, which means you can’t just randomly tap all over the screen and hope for a good outcome. You have to conserve ammo and make sure you aim for a target. That said, you don’t have to hit a target dead on. The game allows for a small tolerance in error when you tap at a target. In other words, you don’t have to hit a target exactly, but you better be really, really close. This helps as you climb your way to the higher, faster-paced levels. Ironically, when I would finally lose a game, and quickly tap on the “continue” button, the button wouldn’t always respond.

At the end of each level you are presented with a display showing the number of targets you hit, your accuracy percentage, your score for that level, and your total score up to that point in the game. When you do finally run out of lives you are still presented with the same screen, but when you press “continue” you are then brought to a text-entry field to enter your name and save your score. If you’re connected to the internet, you score will be published to the leaderboards (if it’s worthy).

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I won’t go into any detail describing the levels, but here is a video from bjango that really gives you a feel for the game:

Overall Kapowie is a slick, simple game for the casual gamer looking for a distraction while traveling on a trans-atlantic flight. I really didn’t notice any problems with the game, and any bugs that might be lurking in the code certainly didn’t affect the gameplay in my tests.

With everything going for it, there was still something about this particular title that didn’t feel “perfect” to me. Even after a month of playing the game nearly non-stop I still can’t put my finger on it. The polish and aesthetic is certainly there, but something feels unfinished.

A feature I felt were missing was in-app purchases. I know it takes time, effort, and money to create new content, but I would love to be able to purchase new levels in the future.

Regardless of it’s flaws, I must recommend Kapowie to anyone looking for a quick distraction yet a serious challenge all wrapped in one. You can get your copy of Kapowie from the App Store [iTunes Link] for an astoundingly low $.99. You can also check out bjango’s site here.

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