Nobody likes bad-looking apps. I'm so tired of crappy apps on the App Store that the moment I receive a good tip through the contact form, I run to download it. I'm sure we all agree that just a single mediocre icon can ruin your perfectly arranged springboard.
This is not the case of MuffinPop [iTunes Link] by shakemnostudio. It turns out that the developer behind this little game is also a designer, and you can clearly notice this from the moment you download the app from iTunes. Carefully chosen colours, pixel-perfect graphics and hip illustrations are packed in.
MuffinPop is a highscore game where you have to stop clouds from reaching the top of the screen. Simply tap on the moving clouds to make them disappear. However, if you accidentally tap on the background, you will miss a life. Every time you let a cloud escape you will lose points, and of course, the game ramps up its speed when you start to get the hang of it. As far as gameplay goes, this is pretty much it.
Where do the muffins come in? The muffin business is just a matter of annoying the player moving around and hiding some of the smaller clouds behind it. Every time you start a new game, a random animated muffin will sit on the middle of the screen seeing clouds pass by. The instant impulse of tapping it to see what happens will count as a missed tap!
As far as gameplay goes, MuffinPop is very linear and limited in the sense that you only need to tap, tap and tap. There is no strategic thinking or anything besides it. I think the game could benefit from some sort of leveling system, including new types of clouds after reaching a certain score or including some bonus items or boosters.
This is one of those apps where the looks matter more than the actual gameplay. The gameplay is very linear, but MuffinPop keeps surprising you with new animations and characters all the way through.
What really wraps it all up are the awesome graphics and the catchy music. The graphic style used in MuffinPop reminded me a lot of the early games by UsTwo. Textures, animations and even the colour palette used are bang on. Perhaps the only downside is the use of super-small pixel typeface that makes some of the buttons in the menu difficult to tap, but it doesn't mean I don't love the style.
All in all, MuffinPop is a great tech demo to showcase the skills at shakemno when it comes to iOS apps. Although it is bundled with OpenFeint and Game Center integration, I think of it as a show-off app or a good entertainment for young children rather than something aimed to arcade gamer types.