Color Sheep for iOS/Android: reviewed by and for the gaming parent
When I first walked by the signs for Color Sheep at the Trinket Studios booth during PAX East this weekend, I took a picture of the developer's booth- marking it for myself as a "must-play" game. When I did so, I was drawn in by the fluffy determination on the face of Sir Woolson, and the bright colors. I thought to myself "Finally! A game I can test for my son to play!" Oh boy was I mistaken. In fact, in large part I was pleasantly surprised as I was drawn into to this incredibly fun, addictive, fast paced and challenging new game.
Everybody loves somebody fluffy!
Meet Sir Woolson; he's adorable, fluffy, and fierce. He's the Knight of Light, defending the world from wave upon wave of deathly wolves, spewn forth from Wolfcano in a dizzying array of colors from the RGB spectrum.
The game's tutorial is incredibly well done, and as an adult player there's really nothing I would change. The intuitive gameplay design was invaluable, and I can see where the work truly went in to making this game user friendly. It is easy enough to pick up quickly, and with evolving levels of difficulty which adapt to the player's skill- it's challenging enough to keep me coming back for more- trying to best my scores.
In the lowest levels of the game, you are required to remember basic combinations of light and dark with red, blue and green. Changing the color of Woolson's fleece enables what is essentially a death laser, emitted from Woolson's mouth in an amusing, surprising and damned effective way. Match his fleece to the colors of individual wolves (or multiple if you like to live dangerously, allowing the hordes to advance enough), and watch those suckers disintegrate--leaving their crispy skulls behind.
"This is pretty eas- OH GOD HOW THE HELL DO I MAKE CYAN?"
As the difficulty of the game increases, you are required to learn multiple combinations, and remember them. Some, like combining blue and red to make purple, are fully intuitive. Others, like swiping red and green in combination with tapping the bright option, creates a bright highlighter yellow. On the flipside, Trinket's design team for Color Sheep was absolutely keeping the players in mind. As you burn through the onslaught of oncoming wolves, some may drop magical items which can destroy all of the wolves on screen in a moment of panic, racking you up multipliers at the same time.
Red, Green, Blue- Rainbow?
When I unleashed Sir Woolson's rainbow laser, and blew through all the remaining wolves on level seven, my jaw literally dropped. After forgetting the 4 part color combination to match a light olive green wolf who was clearly radioactive (or maybe the offspring of some kind of zombie direwolf), that laser kept me from rage quitting on my iPod. In fact, when my poor Woolson got devoured midway through level eight, that rainbow laser left me excited to starting over, desperately keeping my eyes open for other magical drops.
Photo from Trinket Studios dot com.
So.. Why a seven?
I love this game. Really, I do. I have already introduced it to a few friends, and my son has been watching me play--fascinated watching this fluffy adorable hero kill "all the bad guys," with "all the pretty colors." In his words, it's beautiful- and truly it is. In interacting with my son and the game however, is where I discovered what I perceive to be its flaws.
Thinking back to what I first thought when I saw Color Sheep, I realized: kids will want to play this game, I know mine does. The frustrating thing is, that kids younger than 5 or 6, probably won't be able to grasp the concepts, combinations and speeds necessary. Kids aged right around there probably won't be able to get beyond level five or so. (DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this, my experience is derived from years of childcare work and nannying)
When the player learns new color combinations, there are arrows indicating which direction to swipe, but the directions are written. The ability to remember to combine more than one color, as well as the addition of light or dark, leads me to believe that children would love the first couple levels of this game. Unfortunately, I am also led to believe, that parents will be bringing back the tried and true: "Oh honey, I'm sorry, Color Sheep is broken," when their little ones can't quite hack it on their own.
"What does this shiny rock with the blue lines do- OH CRAP THAT'S AWESOME."
As an adult, the speed and pressure I felt when I couldn't remember a color combination was actually pretty tangible. In writing this, I am keeping in mind the adaptive difficulty levels. However, I am curious if we may see an update to Color Sheep which may allow a player to sacrifice points in order to get a reminder of a color combination at higher levels.
The only other feedback I have on this game, is that I would love to have a little bit of story on Sir Woolson. An opening cinematic, or storybook where I could read about Woolson would be adorable, and make me love his little furry face even more. I wanted to know about the coming of the wolves from Wolfcano, and the nature and features of the random magical items I was encountering in the game; I feel this would give Color Sheep a much more rounded and developed story and history. Give the player a reason to want to help Woolson save his world, and maybe help us understand why these wolves come in so many damned colors and sizes! The short animations where Woolson moves between environments as he levels up were beautifully done, and I would love to see more!
Dear Trinket studios,
As a parent, I am hoping and begging the Trinket Studio's Color Sheep development team: Give us the option to play a kid friendly level, or an "easy" mode. I can't claim to know the depth of work it may require to do such a thing. I can tell you though, that if there was a "Color Sheep Junior," which would allow my three year old to focus on primary colors, and basic color combinations without the complexity of light and dark- I would buy that in a heartbeat. I would buy it, and still keep the regular Color Sheep game for me, so we could game together, a favorite pastime in our house. A pastime made difficult by the lack of games which cater to the developmental limitations of a three year old.
I do not believe that Color Sheep was blatantly designed for children, no. However, I believe that Trinket Studio's would haven to be pretty silly to not at least consider the very real market for bringing out a second, kid-friendly iteration of the game, or an in game level option tailored for kids.
You're not going to get it? What, are you dumb colorblind?
At $.99 on iOS and Android, you'd be foolish to not put down the candy bar, get a smaller order of fries on your lunch break, or dig out the pennies from your couch cushions. Go find those 99 cents, readers! (You've got 99 games but this really awesome one isn't? Come on!) Bet your friends a dollar that you can beat their high score and collect on that bet using the game's integration with Facebook for social point comparison. See!? It practically pays for itself (provided you aren't actually really terrible at the game).
If for some reason you don't love this adorable, intuitive, fun, and surprisingly challenging mobile game- then you must just be heartless, allergic to awesome...... Colorblind.
Yep, that's pretty much the only thing that would make sense.
03/28/13 9:30am EST UPDATE: Trinket Studios responded to this review via Twitter, stating that they have heard the suggestion for a "Junior" version and are working on their next update!
@souriant_nymh We hear you loud and clear on a 'junior' mode! We're planning our next update now :)— Tom Eastman (@TrinketTom) March 27, 2013
Give these AWESOME developers some twitter love on their twitter handle: @TrinketStudios