PDAMill is trying to get the working PPC community fired from their jobs! They recently released their game Fun Factory and while that game simulates a 5 day work week, it just might cost you your real life job if you spend too much time on this game during office hours. It contains 5 mini games, one for each day, and while they’re easy to understand and pick up, I’m not sure if I will call this a stress decreasing game – it will make you sit on the edge of your seat!
And guess what? There’s a review after the break!
The trial/demo is a seperate download from the full version, which will be made available after purchasing. Also, there is no .cab file available so you will have to install the demo using ActiveSync. After purchasing, you are asked to enter your registration code during the installation process of the full version on the desktop PC.
The demo of the game disables the “Continue” button in the main screen, so you can try the games, but you can’t really progress since you’re limited to a one week career. Where the full version shows buttons for “Menu” and “Next” after completing a week, the demo will just show the “Menu” button.
Menu screens etc.
The main screen of Fun Factory gives you four buttons in the lower part of the screen, and has an Exit button in the top right. New Game will give you access to the two game modes which we’ll discuss in the next section, and the Continue button allows you to pick up your game where you left it in the case that your boss walks into your office to check on your activity. Hooray for the auto-save feature!
The Settings button lets you tweak the sound and music settings. As we’re used from PDAMill, there is an original soundtrack which sounds really good. I usually mute a game right away, but this time it was a pleasure to listen to the music and sound effects. I don’t say that a lot! Finally, there is a setting to flip the screen which could be useful on some devices. The game plays in Landscape mode, so depending on how you prefer to hold your PPC you might want to flip the display of the game 180 degrees.
Next up is the Info button, which shows 8 pages of information. The first two pages are displayed below, and show general instructions on how the game is set up. The following five pages explain each mini game, and they will be displayed in full size next to each section of this review where I discuss that particular mini game. Finally, page 8 shows the credits. Right next to the arrows which let you navigate between the pages, you can access the high scores which will show the high score and the week you reached. Here the button in the top right lets you go back to the Main screen.
After pressing the New Game button you can pick between starting a new Story mode game, which will give you a full 5 day job in which you have to play a different game each day. After each week the games become harder, so this is a very nice challenge for those of you that can last until after the evaluation period of a week. A special mention to the screen where you have to enter your name: the letters are placed in balloons that float in the ‘air’, and after you tap a balloon, it pops, and a new balloon in a random color comes rising from the bottom of the screen and takes the place of the previous balloon. Very original!
Actually, when I installed Fun Factory, I started out with a little practice. This is the second button on the New Game screen and allows you to play each game as a stand-alone version, in which you will simply move on to the next difficulty level after completing the previous one.
Make sure you never get your score too low though, since that will make you lose your job! Doesn’t that make you want to pop one of those balloons in the face of that bold, sigar smoking, bossy, ehm.. yeah, boss?! On the other hand, if you complete a week succesfully, you are awarded a rating, and you can continue to the next week.
I sometimes have my doubts about games that require you to play a set of games in order to progress – what if you like 3 or 4 of the games but just don’t have any talent for the other 1 or 2? However, I found that in Fun Factory, all games were entertaining, so let’s discuss them in more detail now!
In this game you are presented an image which, after the first couple levels, will represent images of the various other PDAMill titles. Knowing some of them, this is a cool way to be ‘confronted’ with them again and think back about how fun it was to play them. Of course this is also simply advertising the other games. ;-) This is no problem, since the puzzles still give you a serious challenge – especially at those levels where there is title printed on top of a banner since you will have to slide those pieces around because they all look a bit the same.
You’ll first see the ‘completed’, correct version of the image, and when you tap the screen (and only then, you can take all the time you need to examine the image) the pieces will be scrambled and you have to ‘slide’ them back to their original position. Some of the pieces will stay in place, so you can use those for reference, but you don’t know which pieces are still correct. So if you slide a piece onto a place where it doesn’t belong, not only do you place that piece incorrectly, you also move the piece that was in that place to position where the first piece was located, so now that piece is also positioned incorrectly!
One of the images that are a decent challenge is the puzzle below, which is an image from the Corsair. The sail of the ship consists of various white pieces and you will need to pay close attention to the small parts on the puzzle pieces that are not part of the sail, so you can use them for reference and see where they fit best. I found that the gameplay was very smooth in this game. This varies for some of the game so I want to say something about this for every game, but I had no issues with gameplay in this game, sliding worked good and was very smooth.
On the left side of the screen you will see a balloon slowly rising to the top as time progresses. At the top there are some sharp needles, so if make sure to complete the puzzle before the balloon goes *POW*! The right side of the screen has four faces, marked by an increasing amount of sweat on their faces. So when you start a puzzle (the balloon timer and sweaty faces come back in some of the other mini games as well) you will see the bottom face which looks fairly calm, but as you get closer to the end a higher face will be highlighted to indicate that you get closer to the end of that puzzle.
There are two buttons available outside the puzzle field: the Hint button and the Exit button. You have five hints, which will shows you how the puzzle *should* look like, but only very briefly. So if you really get lost, press this button to remember how the end result should look like. The Exit button doesn’t immediately end the game, so you can safely press this icon. It just pauses the game, making it possible to quickly go into the menu or practice a little more on some of the games. Your Story mode progress is automatically saved!
The next game is called Crane. You are presented a conveyor belt on which various products will move from one side of the screen to another. You will have to scan the products to see if some bears have an arm missing, if there are broken bottle’s, etc. If you see such a product, obviously it will have to be removed since it can’t leave the factory packed and ready for shipping to the stores.
You control a crane, which can be controlled simply by tapping the “Crane” button with the stylus or tapping it with a finger. It will then move down and take away the product that is under the crane at that moment. So you better make sure that you press the Crane button at the right moment, so that it will pick the broken product and leave the good ones on the conveyor belt! You will have to press the button a bit before the product is under the crane, but it requires exact timing or you’ll miss it.
You think this is easy? Wait a couple of levels. Then a second conveyor belt will be introduced, and the products will even move in opposite directions! You will then control two cranes (one for each belt), which significantly increases the difficulty of the game. You’re coordination will be tested in this game!
Gameplay was very good in this game, since it requires you to press the correct Crane button at the exact correct time. Luckily the button responds good to your tapping. In this game there is no timer, you will simply have to keep an eye on the conveyor belt until products stop coming. The faces on the right will show you your progress.
Okay so now we’re almost halfway. Let’s see if our brain is still capable of remembering some things! This is the classic memory game: open two crates and see what’s inside. If the two items are the same they disappear, if they’re different, they’re covered by the crates again and you try again.
On the left you will see a balloon again – oh no, a timed game! The time certainly isn’t overgenerous, certainly in later levels where the amount of crates will increase. The objects under the crates are different kinds of products (a ball, a vase, a wrench and hammer, a bear, etc) and in various colors. So this will put you in the situation where you think “I saw a blue item under that crate”, only to found out that you remembered the blue vase where in fact the blue ball was located.
When it comes to gameplay, I need to say two things. First, when you only have four crates left and find a correct pair, the last pair will be removed automatically. Logically these crates will contain the same items, so the game recognizes this for you and removes the items. This saves a bit time. On the other hand, I found that if you tap on two boxes which contain similar items, and then open another box to quickly, the correct pair isn’t registered: they’re simply covered by the crates again. This can be a serious problem since you will want to move on, but have to go back to the pair that wasn’t correctly removed.
Sorter is probably my favourite game, along with Slider. You are presented a screen with various paths, all of which eventually lead to a colored box. Your assignment is to guide each ball to the corresponding box by changing the direction of the arrows along the way. Tapping an arrow rotates it 90 degrees, and it will skip directions that are unavailable. So if at a point three paths come together, the arrow will rotate between these paths. Gameplay is fine here, the arrows respond accurately to screentaps.
In the first screenshot below, you can see the first level. Balls are coming from the “black hole” in the top left and start moving to the right. Depending on the direction that the arrow is pointing, the ball will continue right, will go down, or – if the arrow points towards the black hole – the ball can break. So at all cost you should avoid letting a ball move onto an arrow that is pointing at the direction the ball was coming from. It’s far better to make the ball move around the playing field and then guide it into the correct direction. Eventually you should get all yellow balls into the box just a bit to the right of the bottom center, and the red balls in the red box next to the yellow one. In later levels not only will you get more colors, but the tracks will also become more difficult. You will have to keep your eyes on several balls at a time, and make sure that as many as possible will reach the boxes. Pretty challenging!
Finally, there is Balloons. The goal is simple: if you see a balloon, tap it! This is made more interesting by adding a scoring rule: if you tap a balloon with the same color as the previous balloon, you get more points for this balloon than you got for the previous balloon. This way it may very well be possible that it’s better in some cases to NOT tap five different balloons on the screen which will give you 1 point each, if you can also tap three red balloons and get 1 + 3 + 5 = 9 points.
While this game is meant to releave some stress, I found that this didn’t always work that way. While the game does respond correctly to screen taps, balloons drift away rather quickly so it’s very easy to miss the balloon with your stylus! It’s quite annoying if you feel that you have to tap a balloon multpiple times before it pops, but I guess that that is what makes this game different from easy “pop the item” games.
This time, PDAMill combined no less than 5 games in one package. allowing you to not only play them in story mode, but also practice them seperately. Since the package comes with one of the professional soundtracks we’ve come to know from PDAMill and similarly excellent graphics, Fun Factory is not only fun to play, but also fun to listen to and to look at. Memory isn’t my favourite game but Sorter and Slider certainly make up for that. I hope that in a future release PDAMill improves the speed at which pairs are removed in Memory, this was the only point of critisism I could come up with. And if Fun Factory would become a success, and PDAMill would plan on doing a larger update, I would love to see a “Colleague” system where different players can play and save progress at the same time.
Fun Factory is one of those games that are easy to pick up, but the differences can already be seen in the first couple of stages where you’ll see that you certainly won’t finish a level in half the time you’re given. You’re given enough time (at least in the first levels ;-)) but I’m pretty sure you’ll find some good challenges in this entertaining game!