Every now and then I stumble upon an amazing original ARKit game that makes me love AR games even more. In this review, I am going to talk about one of those games and its called Meddling Martians AR.
About Meddling Martians AR
Meddling Martians AR is my favorite ARKit game as for this moment. It’s an action augmented reality game where the player needs to protect the world from the invasion of evil little green aliens by catching Martian bombs before they destroy the planet.
The gameplay is probably one of the more originals that I’ve seen in ARKit games. An original game doesn’t mean that it’s actually going to be fun to play, but I can assure you that this one is surprisingly entertaining.
When you start the game, it will ask you to scan the ground with your phone to find a flat surface to spawn the game’s level.
There are four alien pillars that will be deployed facing the opposite direction around 1.5m between one another. This is the area where the action takes place. It’s the area that only within it the aliens can throw bombs.
Once the game starts, an alien will appear. As you progress there will be more aliens in the same area. Aliens, on their free time, will generate a bomb and throw high in the air. Because it’s a 3D level, the bomb can be thrown in different directions along the Z-axis, to different places in the room.
Those bombs can reach an area outside that 1.5m perimeter. That area is only to signify the place where the aliens can actually generate bombs.
Now, your goal is to try to catch the bomb using your bucket before it falls on the ground. You start with 20 tries and if you lose all your tries it’s game over.
The bomb-catching part is very intuitive. You only get to see a part of the bucket, but this is enough to give the sense of holding a bucket in your hand. You need to move your iPhone or iPad like it is was the bucket. The physics works amazingly well in this game.and if the bomb falls on the edges, it just bumps and floats a bit to give you another chance to put it in.It feels really nice trying to catch the bombs like that. This is part of the game that I liked the most.
Now, the game can be played in portrait or landscape orientation. I recommend playing in portrait orientation because it’s much easier to catch a bomb this way due to the taller field of view and the bombs are thrown up and fall vertically not horizontally. You can also see the bucket better this way. I think I could have achieved a higher level if I played it this way. OK, let’s move on.
Let’s take a look at some gameplay before we move on. Sorry for the second part, the iPad didn’t record sound.
There are a certain amount of bombs that you need to capture each round in order to move to the next. I personally really liked the physical activity of moving around the place trying to the bombs and I’m sure you’ll like it as well unless you have back problems but this is a different story.
The game has more than just moving around with the bucket and catching bombs. The developer, Polycene, added another mechanic. You can poke the aliens by tapping on the screen to push them down and interrupt their throws. So what this is important? because you are going to reach levels where there are many aliens in the same area and there is a great chance they are going to throw the bombs as around the same time. You have only one bucket, so you just can’t run all over the place catching two, three or more bombs at the same time.
When you poke them, they are pushed way. It does interrupt their throw, but you can also use it to push them out of that 1.5m perimeter that I was showing you. If they are out of this perimeter they won’t be able to generate a bomb. The aliens will eventually return back to the perimeter after some time so you need to keep an eye on them at all times. There are also coming to the middle after you finish a match so you need to start poking them all over again once a new level is started.
I just want to add that you can’t resize the stage of the game, only move it to accurately place it in the right place.
The use of that poke feature makes the game more strategic because you are continuously monitoring the aliens and poking them to make sure you won’t be able to deal with several bombs at the same time.The animation when they are pushed and fall them is very funny and you can poke them like that like forever LOL.
The game can be really challenging as you progress throughout the levels. I reached level 6 and there was a total madness there, but as I mentioned, I could have done better playing more in portrait orientation using my iPad.
Augmented Reality Experience
This ARKit game was born for augmented reality. You can see that a lot of thinking and effort was put into making sure that this game will play well in augmented reality.
Everything just felt so right in this game. The game is built on physical movement around the game area, and part of the things that make AR games so engaging and fun. It’s not that everytime I feel like playing a game that requires physical movement, sometimes I just enjoy playing a game like Sing AR Fight that you can just sit and play, but Meddling Martians AR caught me on a very good day today.
The game does require some space, not just the 1.5m that I’ve mentioned. More like 1.80 if I consider the area where the aliens move outside the perimeter if you poke them. This game plays like a room-scale game, at least it felt like it when I played it on my iPad. I wonder how different the experience will be when you play it on the iPhone X that has a smaller display with a different aspect ratio.
I like games that are optimized very well to run in small space. It reminds me of powARdup that played amazingly well in my very small living room.
I did have some hard time catching balls that were thrown a bit further close to the walls or doors. Maybe it’s my fault that I let an alien that is close to the top part throw a bomb, I should have poked him. Anyways, if you play the game, just, make sure you have a good amount of extra space so you won’t bump into something while playing.
I really want to find some noticeable flaws in the AR experience, but it was flawless, I am really impressed to be completely honest.
Visuals & Music
The music in this game is my second most favorite thing in this game. This is one of the most entertaining music I’ve heard in an ARKit game to date. It really wrapped up the whole gameplay experience with a cynical atmosphere that just fits the game perfectly.
The alien’s animations are really cute, I love how they turn around to see where you are before the throw the bomb in the air. They look like evil little bastards and it is just so much fun to play with them, poke them and make their life harder.
I like the broken glass effect when the bomb bumped into the screen, cool effect.
The particle effects of the bombs and the generation of the bomb in the alien’s hands look really nice. I do wish there were more objects in the scene make it look more interesting, rather than just those four alien pillars, it just looks very empty, to be honest.
The bucket’s graphics on the iPad in landscape orientation looks like a Boeing 787 engine, I think this should be changed.
Things I would have liked to see added or changed?
Meddling Martians AR is a fun and challenging augmented reality game. In some ways, it reminds me of the game Alien Invaders AR that also demanded continuous physical movement and was very challenging.That being said, there are things that I would have liked to be added to the game or changed:
That being said, there are things that I would have liked to be added to the game or changed:
- Have the bucket in landscape mode on the iPad to look more like a bucket, not like a Boing engine.
- Have different type of aliens with different bomb throwing mechanics (maybe there is but I haven’t reached a level that I can see this)
- Have some beneficial power-ups that we can use. Maybe a dude coming with a power-up that if we catch it we have a larger bucket!
- A voice for the aliens would be so cool. For example, make them laugh when a bomb explodes on the ground LOL
- Adding some more decoration to the scene, it just looks very boring.
- Make different types of bombs with different looks and physics.
- Make some sort of a boss-fight round every few rounds to spice things up.
These are just a few ideas and I hope the developer read it, maybe one of those will find its way to the game at some point.
Meddling Martians AR was really so enjoyable to play in Augmented Reality. This is one of the most amusing and engaging ARKit games I’ve played lately. You can see that this is one of those ARKit games that isn’t an afterthought, the whole gameplay idea was meant for AR. Both the idea and the execution work flawlessly to create a unique AR experience like no other.
There is some room for improvement, especially on the level design and visual side to make it more eye-candy but the game nails it in all the other departments, including a fantastic music, superb AR gameplay experience, gorgeous characters with great animations, challenging gameplay, leaderboard to show off your achievements and above all, it’s free on the App Store!
This is a must have ARKit games that you should miss no matter what—Highly Recommended!