There have been plenty of iPhone titles that aim for the cinematic aesthetic, from the (James) Cameron-esque sci-fi stylings of N.O.V.A. to the crime epic that was Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, but so far the theatre remains a relatively untapped source of inspiration. Until now that is. Enter Battle of Puppets (stage left).
On the surface BoP may be colourful and cartoony, but behind the scenes it’s a game of tactical warfare. Appropriately enough, as anyone who has watched a Punch and Judy show or even an episode of The Muppets knows that there’s nothing puppets like better than beating the stuffing outta each other.
Once you’ve chosen a troop of mad-cap marionettes to take into battle, as puppet-master your job is to bring down the house… in more ways than one. Embarking on a quest for fame and fortune, these wooden warriors travel the length and breath of the US of A performing in a series of iconic operas.
And if all this sounds a tad high-brow, don’t worry – these shows play out more like gladiatorial duels than Madame Butterfly.
Each opera pits your against another army, the aim of the game to storm across the stage and tear down the enemies’ castle. Rather than influencing events directly though, you manipulate the ensuing action by building new puppets, upgrading your units, deciding which ones to send into battle and when, and whose unique skills can be better utilised to win the war.
This hands-off approach could have spelled disaster for BoP, but thankfully the tactical approach is more than compelling enough to keep you hooked. While watching these rival puppets go toe-to-toe in a slap-stick dance of death is truly a visual treat.
From the entertaining battles themselves to little details like day and night cycles and how felled warriors are yanked out of play by their strings, BoP bellows “class” at the top of its lungs. The game also offers a decent amount of content, with a plethora of levels, modes (Battleground, Survival and Fast Battleground), magic spells to be mastered and five different armies to play with.
Go on, break a leg, it’ll be a long while until it’s curtains for BoP on your iDevice!
iFanzine Verdict: Battle of Puppets pulls all the right strings, with a highly original premise, hugely entertaining gameplay and gorgeous graphics. In short, a masterclass in crafting an all round crowd pleaser.