When first looking at Stoneloops! of Jurassica it looks just like another marble shooter ported to the iPhone, especially similar to Luxor, but after browsing the menu screen and entering the first gameplay mode, I found it is amazingly more than that.
In a marble shooter it’s an elaborate match three, where different colored balls in a chain travel across a pre determined path. You have a shooter to try to launch a given ball into the chain to match three. The chain of balls is moving towards an end point, and if it reaches there you lose, so you try to get rid of all the balls on the chain before it gets there.
Like Luxor the shooter is at the bottom of the screen, and there are a bunch of upgrades to pick up to help you destroy all the balls. Each level has a progress bar, and there is even an upgrade to boost the progress by 10%. When you complete an entire chain a gem pops out you try to catch. Then once you complete a level a Pterandon flies the length of the path up to where you completed the last chain throwing gems the entire time.
To maximize your score you try to make combos so that when you’re match explodes the chain smashes back together and there are at least three more balls to match without you shooting another one. In Stoneloops of Jurassica, the balls are stones, and the chains of balls are called Stoneloops.
Stoneloops of Jurassica changes things by creating a prehistoric theme that is intertwined into everything. There are five regions you cover on your quest beginning with the jungle then proceeding thorough the desert, the glacier, the swamp, and finally the mountain volcano.
There are 15 levels and five bonus rounds per region. The levels are actually days for example you’re on day 11 of 15 on your trek through the jungle, and as you progress the days get longer and more difficult.
Each area gives you a different house to upgrade as you complete the levels. Once you move from one region to the next you get a new bare house that you will again upgrade all the way. Also as you progress you earn new trophies for different accomplishments in the game including number of combos, levels reached, and number of bonuses earned.
There are two gameplay modes: the first is classic where you’re given new stones after each one is fired, and the next one coming is shown in the upper right. The other is grab n’ shoot which differs from classic by taking a stone from the stoneloop to use to fire back up rather than it being given to you.
Stoneloops also provides three types of controls: touch, buttons, and tilt. With touch you drag the shooter with your finger, and when you release it fires. While holding one finger down you tap with another finger to swap the stones. With button you do the same dragging mechanic, but there is a button to fire and swap. Tilt control is simply tilting your device, and tapping the screen anywhere to launch. All three modes have a colored arrow to show where the stone will land.
There are plenty of upgrades in a level that usually pop out when you get combos. There is meteor, lightning, fireball, spear, Pterandon, boost, and the usual stop, reverse, multicolor, and color cloud.
Almost everything is great with this title making it the perfect casual iPhone game. I’ll admit when I first loaded this title I didn’t have very high expectations, but when I went into classic mode the map of Jurassica showed up.
The map progressed from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the jungle across five regions with about 20 markers per region. I was shocked and amazed that there were so many levels included. Stoneloops established an actual long journey rather than a brief experience like so many other titles.
The visuals are outstanding and the overall polish intertwined into every aspect makes this a visual masterpiece. Every level is designed differently plus a different color scheme for each region. Even the menu screen is oozing with style with a stoneloop passing in the background, and each corner of the menu having a different region theme from snowflakes, to smoldering lava.
The animations are top notch, and everywhere. The best animation is the explosion of stones on matches or massive blasts when you evoke meteor shower, lightning, or fireball. All of the text in the game is bouncing the entire time from the level entrance to little sayings like avalanche and good. Once a level is complete your score is quickly etched on stone with sparkles emitting along the way.
The greatness is in all of the animations working at the same time without any lag, choppiness, or any slip. The sounds are outstanding as well with each area having it’s own theme song that varies slightly per level. Also within a level when a stoneloop is close to the end a whole new faster more dire song plays. The matches of stones sound like blasting rocks, and there are intricate sound effects for each of the upgrades.
The gameplay is addictively fun that builds upon the greatness of zuma and luxor. Each level has a different path the stoneloops follow with some containing two different stoneloop paths. The paths are so intricate that multiple stoneloops block each other as they slowly progress to your demise.
All three controls work flawlessly and the choice makes sure you’ll find one that fits you. The game also saves wherever you are in a level on the exact stone you are on, and allows a save file on classic and grab n shoot. You may never even question replayability because going once through takes so long and is so deluxe.
The difficulty amps up perfectly and combined with the two gameplay modes to finish there is nearly limitless fun. In total there are 150 levels to get through before even considering playing through again to better your score. Also along the way, the upgrades to your houses, and the unlockable trophies provide challenge and reason to continue playing.
This is only a single player affair. There are no online high scores, and there aren’t even local scores for each level just one for total score in each gameplay mode. You can’t play against anyone in any fashion, and there is no way to play an individual level. You can’t even do your own manual challenge never less the more complex twitter or facebook challenge. Really though that doesn’t bring this game down, it’s the best strategy puzzler.
Stoneloops of Jurassica is the perfect casual game for the iPhone. It’s more than the best in its category, it’s the best pick up and play game in the App Store. There is a seemingly endless supply of fun to have with the two gameplay modes, 75 levels each, and multiple unlockables.
The overall polish put into this game may be the best in the App Store, and it really reinvigorates the tired marble shooter. Stoneloops can appeal to everyone, and is definitely a must buy, and truly astonishing.