Slaying Killer Bunnies in Aurora Feint 3 on iPad

It’s been some time since we looked at Aurora Feint games directly. More often than not, it seems that all the news revolves around the OpenFeint platform for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Nevertheless, Aurora Feint does, in fact, have a game that it is known for: The, well, Aurora Feint series. The last time we really looked at the franchise it was back when Aurora Feint II: The Arena was around. Nevertheless, with the new Apple iPad, a new title in the collection of Feint games came about: The match-three puzzler, Aurora Feint 3.

With the increased processing and graphical capabilities (not to mention the significantly larger screen size) Aurora Feint 3 is certainly the best looking of the Feint series. Using the familiar fantasy setting, players are whisked into a forest filled with Bejeweled-like puzzles and a band of very… unkind mercenaries and thieves.

The game is simple enough, combining Aurora Feint’s Tower Puzzles game mechanics with other match-three titles. Essentially, a number of different blocks with varying icons slowly move upward towards the top of the puzzle box. The main gimmick, however, is that the player can only move the blocks horizontally. In this new title, they can move them as far horizontal as they like (unlike other match-three games that only let you swap icons if it will make a series of three or greater). The real trick is to turn the iPad and change the game’s gravity.

Like in Tower Puzzles, anything that doesn’t have another block, say, to the right of it, will fall to the bottom of the screen when you turn your device to the right (obviously, this rule applies to all directions). This changes up the field and allows you to move different sets of blocks horizontally. Granted, it is a bit more cumbersome to do on an iPad rather than an iPhone, but it’s not that big of a deal.

As the player gets a handle on this basic mechanic and starts making matches, they will start generating health. This is the next major game feature. For each match you make, the more health you regenerate, with greater combos or strings larger than three granting more. Conversely, should you ever let the blocks reach the top of the puzzle box (which also changes as you rotate the iPad), you lose health. Not to worry though, as the blocks move extraordinarily slowly and players will often find themselves manually speeding them onto the screen by touching them with two fingers and dragging them across the puzzle-field.

After you have played this basic match-three for a while, you will encounter your first “boss” fight. Introduced in a quasi-epic fashion, this enemy, reminiscent of an evil rabbit or bird thing, will attack you. Once this occurs, the playing field turns from happy, peaceful forest, into dark scary woods and the baddie will periodically take chunks out of your health itself. In order to defeat him, the player must make matches to inflict damage, with greater combos and such doing more.

This part of the game also has a social element to it as well. Players can actually search their Facebook, Twitter, and OpenFeint friends and find those that have Aurora Feint 3 as well. Once you have collected a few, you can issue a “Call to Arms,” in which you sort of summon your friends’ usernames to attack whatever enemy is trying to kill you for heavy damage.

Unfortunately, this is the limit in which Aurora Feint 3 utilizes your friends. Frankly, it feels like a downgrade to Aurora Feint 2 where you could challenge friends in arena battles. That isn’t to say the Call to Arms feature is bad, we just hoped for more from the third installment.

Thankfully, the lacking is made up for slightly for the obvious OpenFeint integration. At the very least, you can still compete through a number of leaderboards ranging from overall win streaks, damage dealt, and so on. Additionally, the game also has a pretty hefty amount of achievements to unlock as well.

The real issue with this application, however, isn’t the blasé social mechanics, but the epic repetitiveness. Granted, this game looks beautiful and sounds great, but it constantly switches between a tranquil forest scene to regenerate health and a dark forest scene where you fight bad guys. Eventually, the enemies do get a bit harder, but it takes a while for any real challenge to rear its head. For the record, however, some of the more difficult ones really do require some strategy and setting up combos before hand. It’s just a bit mind-numbing getting there. Of course, even if you do reach these challenges, if you’re willing to spend a little cash, you can simply buy extra lives (not that you’ll really need them) to make it easier.

Evidentially, there is a story of some sort as well; something about crystals according to the Aurora Feint 3 website, but nothing seems to happen in game to keep player interest. At least not frequently enough.

Overall, Aurora Feint 3 is an okay title for the iPad, and considering it’s free, something that isn’t a bad time killer for at least a few minutes. Sadly, its level of repetition gets very old, very quick, and after those few minutes, many will probably not pick it up again. Honestly, it almost feels like a downgrade to past titles. The player lacks a purpose or reason for continuing. Tower Puzzles had real puzzles to solve and tangible levels. Arena let you uniquely challenge other friends with a “ghost competitor” feature. Aurora Feint 3… It just leaves something to be desired.