Path-drawing games have been around on both the iPhone and the iPad for some time now, but they usually involve steering object A to a stationary B. Blue Fang Games takes that concept to a different level with a new iPad title, Lion Pride HUGE — a complement to the older iPhone version, Lion Pride.
Rather than steering airplanes, as in Flight Control, or flies in Fly Control, you help a pride of lions hunt down packs of animals along the Serengeti. A game of both strategy and quick thinking, Lion Pride quickly becomes challenging
You control a pack of lionesses, and as the female lions of the pride, it’s up to you to hunt down food. In each level, different African animals will wander onto the plains, and you must draw a path from your lioness to an animal in order to catch it. As time goes on, the supply of food will drain and you must catch these animals in order to replenish it. This process continues until a set number of animal packs have entered the level.
Sounds simple right? Well, as your lioness approaches the animals, they will run away and many of them are faster than lions. In order to catch them, you must slowly draw a path — represented by a white, dotted-line. This allows your lioness to stalk its prey unnoticed until close. Once near, a quickly drawn path, indicated by a red dotted-line, will cause your lioness to sprint (making the it more visible). Even if the animal is still faster, you can double tap prey to temporarily stun and slow it.
It gets better. As the game continues, you control more and more lionesses and bigger prey will enter the field. Larger prey, such as zebra or even elephants, will require more lionesses to take it down. For example, a zebra will take two lionesses while the elephant will take four. Furthermore, you will often need to steer lionesses into ambush positions, in order to catch speedier meals. Oh, and some larger animals fight back, stunning the your lionesses (which can be fixed with a double tap).
More lionesses makes the game a bit more difficult, because prey is more likely to see any individual lion and run off screen. To make the challenge even greater, later levels include hyenas that will steal prey, forcing you to chase them off. In a special night mode, hyenas will also try to steal the pride’s cubs.
Some levels will also have the male lion. Of course, Discovery Channel aficionados will recall that male lions tend to sleep around 20 hours a day and let the females do all the work. Double tapping male lions will wake them up, but they just wander about where they like and only catch prey if happens to be near them.
At the end of each level, there is a break down of how well you did. Including an overall score, a letter rating, number of kills, number of stuns, and any other bonuses you may have earned. These scores tie-in to Lion Pride’s social elements.
Integrated with the OpenFeint mobile, social network, there is a different leaderboard for each of the game’s levels, as well as the night mode and a survival mode. As you rack up high-scores, you can share and challenge your friends to play via email, Twitter, or Facebook. You can also post scores online through the game itself (not through OpenFeint.)
Lion Pride does have some minimal usability issues. The game is not clear on how much you have progressed in a level until it is almost over, and you never really know how much time you have remaining in a level until then. There are also minor precision problems with the controls. When you use multiple lionesses to take down a target, it is often problematic to send two, or more, off in separate directions. The game tends to end up drawing paths from the same lioness, when you intend to draw them from separate lionesses.
Even with these minor problems, the game is fun, challenging and a nice change of pace from the traditional path-drawing games. Of course, for $4.99 on the iPad ($2.99 for iPhone) if you aren’t a fan of the genre, it’s probably not the game for you. But, fans of games like Flight Control will likely have a good time stalking the Serengeti with Lion Pride.