Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.
Where fantasy-based, castle siege, catapult-style games are concerned, there aren’t too many deviations out there. In fact the genre is quite cliché. Use heavier iron shots for thicker stone walls, hurl rocks that split apart to increase the range of damage and employ exploding bombs for the most stubborn of defensese. Choosing the appropriate target bases for what you are about to throw is always part of the challenge. The story of Catapult King is also typical for the genre: rescue the kidnapped princess from the fire-breathing dragon and his army of well protected mercenaries.
What makes Catapult King stand apart from other catapult games is a matter of perspective. In Catapult King you are immersed into a three-dimensional world where you are in charge of the catapult. While the game is clearly all about the physics of catapulting, gameplay feels more like a sharpshooter. In Catapult King, you sit behind the catapult and aim like you would a rifle or other instrument of mass destruction. Raise the catapult higher to fire the shot farther, lower for closer targets, and swing the ropes from side to side to aim.
The camera angle is mainly situated behind the sights of the catapult in a first-person perspective. However, you can also take control of the camera angle and pan, twist and zoom your way across the battlefield to gain a different perspective. You can even see how things look from your enemy’s perspective. Looking at your target from multiple angles will help you plan out a strategy on how to approach each level.
There is a power-up mechanism built into the game where you earn magic with each successful level you complete. The more damage you cause with the least amount of launched shots, the more magic you will earn. With magic, you can aim your catapult better with Aim Arrow, call up an earthquake with Earth Shock and even summon a meteor shower with Lunar Storm. Each costs an increasing amount of magic. But this is no ordinary power-up: Unlike most game power-ups, this one will not earn you a crown or gems with each level. To earn you crown and gems, you will have to forgo the magic power-ups. What these magic power-ups will do is allow you to advance to the next level very quickly. And if you take advantage of the in-app purchases to maximize your magical prowess, you may even complete all levels in no time at all.
The real challenge of the game is to pass each level without the use of any of the magical power-ups. This will earn you a crown and jewels with each level passed. Along the way you will also learn how to craft a heavy shot that can smash through stone walls, a splitter shot that will split up after launching to maximize damage, and a bomb shot that will explode. Certain levels even have hidden helpers like lodged boulders that, once freed, will tumble down a hillside wrecking through even the strongest of enemy defenses. By carefully planning out each level, you can have one tower fall upon and destroy another. So it is not impossible to complete each level without the aid of magic, just a bit harder. Overall Catapult King brings a welcome new perspective on the genre of physics-based catapult games.