Android reviews of the week: ToonWarz, Bonsai Blast, Armored Strike Online, Abduction! 2, Replica Island

Abduction! 2
Get itat the Android Market

If you never played the first Abduction! game, you missed out on one of the most charmingly sweet (and easy to pick up and play) titles on portables today. The premise here is that you're a cow (later, you get to play as other animals) out to save your animal buddies who've been mysteriously abducted by an unknown malefactor. Gameplay is built around a vertical-platformer core – think something like iPhone mega-hit Doodle Jump, or the ghost-house levels in some Mario Brothers games – where you jump your animal ever upward, and make use of a parachute to avoid falling too far.

The genius of the game is in its control scheme, which works by tilting your device (make sure your Android device has a good accelerometer in it) in the direction you want your animal to jump or fall. Controls are so simple, in fact, that you can viably play Abduction! 2 with just one hand. Don't expect levels to be unchallenging, though – while this is definitely a game geared toward kids, the later levels can be positively diabolical.

What isn't devilish, though, is the game's look. Graphics have that happy sort of hand-drawn style that puts you in mind of your favorite Sunday paper comic strips, or maybe something Bob Ross would've done, had he ever made a video game. Abduction! 2's sensibilities are so bright and lovely that it's nearly impossible to get frustrated with the game – even during the hardest of its more than 100 levels (and believe me, some are darn hard). Highly recommended, even if it is terribly derivative.

Replica Island

Get it at the developer's site

This surprisingly polished platformer follows a robot (controlled by a virtual trackball on your Android device) as he skids and floats his way around the titular island in search of power ups. The hook here is that you don't "jump" per se, but use jump jets to fly around – jump jets that require fuel. While it recharges after use, fuel is consumed very rapidly, requiring you to plan your routes carefully or face plummeting to your doom.

With a retro-digital soundtrack and some anime-inspired graphics, you'll be put in mind of the salad days of 16-bit platforming, but Replica Island is, thankfully, not quite as challenging as the games of yore. It does have quite a few levels, but most are fairly short and enemies are more of the "stand-around-and-shoot-one-direction" type than the type that actually requires AI to be programmed.

The best thing about Replica Island is its fluid control system – it might seem like a virtual trackball and virtual buttons would be hard to get a hold of, but after a couple of levels, you'll be moving around much more smoothly and easily than you do in most Android titles that use a virtual gamepad. The controls give Replica Island's gameplay a unique feel, and contribute not only to the action, but to the sense of accomplishment at passing each given level. Stroke of virtual genius.

Above: You'll need some quick reflexes for this one.

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Jan 14, 2011