iPad reviews of the week: Spy Mouse, Feed Me Oil

If you were looking for Infinity Blade II this week, we’re sorry to disappoint, but that’s only because we’re putting up a proper full review of it next week. In the meantime we’re scoping out Spy Mouse HD, which takes Flight Control’s unique line-drawing mechanic into stealth-action terrain, as well as Feed Me Oil, a game which came out a while back, but one which we didn’t want to pass up covering since it’s a wonderful, unique entry you shouldn’t miss.

Game: Spy Mouse HD
Price: $2.99/£1.99
Size: 106MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US (opens in new tab) / UK (opens in new tab)

Spy Mouse HD developer Firemint is one of the safest bets in the iOS market – that’s why EA picked them up earlier this year – thanks to the smashing success of original franchises Flight Control and Real Racing. Upon first glance, Spy Mouse seems like another surefire winner, as it takes Flight Control’s line-drawing approach and puts it to surprising new use: controlling a mouse as he collects cheese by stealthily avoiding feline guards and utilizing the environments and items to stay alive Metal Gear Solid-style. Seriously. It’s a smart idea, and the core mechanics are fine; plus, the animation is some of the best we’ve seen on the App Store.

The campaign evolves steadily across 72 stages, introducing cat-distracting items like televisions and yarn balls, tricky boss battles, and pipes, switches, and mouse holes to shake up and complicate the common levels. Spy Mouse has all the bullet points you’d expect from a fantastic iOS title, and certainly seems like a well-considered experience at first. However, as the game stretched on, we found ourselves frequently annoyed by the overpowered cats, which are often much faster than your helpless rodent, and later can take back your stolen goods or hit you with projectiles from across the stage. It comes to a point where some missions become laborious tasks where you have to frantically collect and store each item individually to survive, rather than relying on stealth to get around with style.

While those niggles ended up hurting our overall opinion of the game, it’s hard not to admire Spy Mouse for what it does right: it’s easily learned but often clever, offers up a pretty sizeable amount of content, and is one seriously attractive 2D release. And in a nice touch, it’s just been updated with a holiday skin for a little seasonal flair. The iPad-specific HD version isn’t markedly different than the earlier iPhone release; and considering the difference in price ($2.99 on iPad vs. $0.99 on iPhone), there’s no built-in reason to spend more if you have both devices handy. Just be prepared for the wave of frustration that starts building after the early stages.

Game: Feed Me Oil
Price: $.99/£.69 or $1.99/£1.49 (HD version)
Size: 15MB/31MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US (opens in new tab) / UK (opens in new tab)

Using the provided tools, take the oil spilling out of the pipe and get it directed to the correct spot. It’s pretty much as easy as that in Feed Me Oil, an inventive puzzle game that’s been out for a while. Drawing inspiration from The Incredible Machine and World of Goo, this fantastic physics-based puzzler provides plenty of mind-bending levels and features some of the most addictive gameplay to be found on the platform. Yes, even compared to Angry Birds.

While it starts off simply enough, with the oil coming out of a pipe in the top of the level and easily being rerouted with a few well-placed platforms, things quickly descend into utter madness. Within a few levels you’re given a handful of platforms, several windmills, a fan (that can blow the oil in any direction), and a magnet (that pulls the oil towards it). The pipe is on the bottom of the screen, the oil needs to pass through a red filter, and there are two switches it needs to hit first. See what we mean?

New items are constantly thrown into the mix that would make it easier if not for the constant stream of hurdles that need to be leaped in order to get the oil safely to its destination. Once the game’s 45 levels are finished there are a few bonuses that can be unlocked by beating puzzles with fewer than the maximum number of items, but it definitely feels like there is limitless room to expand. Originally the biggest knock we had against the game was its length, but since its initial release new levels have been added, so it’s absolutely is worth the price.

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