Slingshot-based physics puzzlers on the iPhone are plentiful, if anything: Angry Birds and Crush the Castle reign among many other derivatives, including licensed fare such as WWE Superstar Slingshot. Each have their own unique quirks, but they all typically amount to using a catapult, slingshot, or other projectile-hurling device to launch ordnance into large structures to crush those who dwell within.
In that regard, Catapult King is no different. A dragon has swept in and captured the fair maiden (princess, queen, beauty pageant winner– they don’t really specify), conjuring up numerous little (and not-so little) laughing implike soldiers to stand in the way of getting her back. It’s up to you to take up arms with the kingdom’s catapult and reduce the enemy army to rubble through 60 levels.
How many times did I remind you to fortify the bridge?
The difference, and a rather considerable one at that, is the perspective from which the game is played. The aforementioned titles all take place in two dimensions, with the projectiles and debris only moving up, down, left, and right. Catapult King, on the other hand, is in 3D, which allows for a more realistic application of physics as the pieces are able to fall appropriately in all directions.
Though new types of ammo don’t appear until after the first 20 levels, one neat feature is that as you play, you’ll earn magic points which can be used to purchase special types of ammunition that are activated by touching the screen while the projectiles are in mid-flight. Unfortunately, doing so resets the board, so there’s less strategy to their use than one might expect– you just have to make sure you trigger their abilities at the right time, and it pretty much wipes out the board.
Rain blue fire upon your enemies.
Also unfortunate is that there is a certain tedious nature as you are forced to frequently reset so that you can realign shots. Aiming your catapult in 3D is trickier than 2D, given the extra dimension to account for, and the only aiming aid must be purchased in each round and only lasts a short time before fading away. And trust us, there are few things as grating as watching your cannonball go soaring straight through the middle of a ramshackle archway, off by only a few degrees– especially when everything up to that point was going so well.
In addition, the third dimension makes locating some soldiers a bit tricky. You can move the camera around to a limited degree, but they can be tucked away in some surprising spots, making it all the more unpleasant when your assured victory becomes an unexpected defeat. Still, it’s no worse than any other game of its type in terms of repetition and the ‘try, try again’ mentality– there are simply more elements to account for this time.
Overall, Catapult King is a good game, as good as any of this type, but with a third dimension to freshen things up. Not so much as to redefine the genre– it plays pretty much how you’d expect a 3D version of Angry Birds or Crush the Castle to play– but it’s enough to make someone who might be otherwise weary of the genre take another look and gain some newfound pleasure from the concept.