Mobile Game of the Week: Non Flying Soldiers (iOS)

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Mobile Game of the Week: Non Flying Soldiers (iOS)

Non Flying Soldiers

Platform: iOS
Developer: Blue Shadow Games
Publisher: Chillingo
Release Date: 05/17/2012
Price: $0.99

Remember what Luke Larsen wrote about Chillingo in last week’s review of Robbery Bob? Many of the same observations hold true about Chillingo’s Non Flying Soldiers. It’s a physics puzzler with a simple concept and a three-star rating system that adapts an old traditional gaming genre for your phone or tablet. This time Lemmings gets the once-over, as the goal is to redirect the ceaseless progress of a small cadre of cute animals around various deadly obstacles.

Soldiers brings a small flock of new touches to the Lemmings formula, but it’s essentially the same when reduced to the simplest English. Your flightless birds march straight forth at invariable speed while you try to guide them along the least dangerous path. Each level starts with an edit mode, where you look down from on high and can place a limited number of path-diverting objects. Those include barriers, ramps, speed-boosting arrows, and various other perks that modulate the rhythm or direction of your birds. When you’re finished editing the camera switches to a side view and you sit passively as your birds traverse the course. If your additions usher the minimum requirement of birds to the finish line you pass the level. Each level also has three medals that can be optionally collected, a suggested time to beat, and coins that can be used to play a simple but fun first-person rail shooter. There’s enough happening with each stage to entertain players of many different skill levels.

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Non Flying Soldiers might be too complex for its own good. I definitely appreciate that there’s more to do in each level than there is in Angry Birds, but the masses that made that game a smash hit might not put in the minute or two of work necessary to understand Soldiers. That’s their loss, as these birds are almost as addictive as those more famous ones, and without the annoyingly unpredictable patterns.

Soldiers might frustrate you if you’re inclined to look down on games that openly ape the ideas behind other, longer lived and more successful games. Brittany Vincent actually deals with the topic of clones in today’s Leaderboard column. I don’t necessarily agree with all of her points, but then Soldiers isn’t exactly a clone of Lemmings, anyway. It’s similar in concept but the execution is very different. Soldiers also isn’t nearly as memorable as Lemmings, but it’s a perfectly acceptable diversion in its own right, customizing that style of game for the particular interface of a touchscreen device.