Lumigon (out now, $0.99) is the tale of a little girl, whisked away to an alternate realm when she one day touches a mysterious orb, that now has to follow around a light giving baby dragon as together they try to find a way for her to get back home. In order to do this the dragon will have to pick up Lunas, little spheres that temporarily increase the little dragon’s light making abilities, all while being sure to swerve out of the way of oncoming enemies. Along the way they will also encounter a variety of power ups that will either help the team collect Lunas more easily, or somehow provide protection from the abundance of enemies littering the locales they travel through.
The game controls simply enough with the player tilting their device up to move the two heroes up, and – vice versa – tilting their iOS unit down in order to move the heroes in the opposite direction.
While these controls seem to work well at first, there is an odd problem with Lumigon where the controls start working less correctly the longer the game is played until a point is reached where they simply stop working altogether. Now these controls can be recalibrated at any time during a play session, simply by tapping the omnipresent pause button in the lower right hand corner of the screen and selecting ‘recalibrate controls’, but that still doesn’t change the fact that I can’t think of any other iOS games were I am expected to constantly reset the controls.
The baby dragon, Purumi, will get sick and die if his light goes out – consequently stranding the little girl, Pina, alone in the dark to fend for herself – so it is imperative that he pick up as many Lunas as possible in every stage. Unfortunately this puts that duo at odds with survival as Purumi’s two self defense moves – the bubble shield and the fire breath – only activate if he manages to exclusively eat many of the same color Luna in a row, yet early on he can ill afford to be picky if he doesn’t want to starve to death. Previously grabbed Lunas can be used to purchase upgrades from Lumigon’s in-app store to lower the number of same colored orbs that must be eaten in a row to activate a defensive power, but the cost of each successive upgrade increases in price astronomically such that the developer is clearly expecting you to IAP purchase more Lunas in order to be able to afford them.
These temporary defensive upgrades include the light bubble that will protect Purumi from a single collision if he eats enough yellow Lunas in a row, and the fire breath that will temporarily roast everything in Purumi’s path after he eats enough red Lunas in a row. One particularly annoying part about the temporary light bubble is that it actually seems to deactivate a whole second before the fade out animation plays, thusly players who thought they were safe will often see Purumi die from a collision where he was still clearly wearing a protective light bubble at the time. Since Lumigon will then happily offer to sell you a single use ability to continue mid level – sans restarting the entire level from scratch – each and every time you die, I can’t help but wonder if this game bug wasn’t actually an ‘intentional feature’.
If Purumi manages to eat a whole lot of Lunas in a short time frame – regardless of their color – then he will be able to attain his ultimate form of the Golden Dragon, which can be maintained so long as he continues to rapidly eat Lunas without stop. Purumi – while powered up as a Golden Dragon – will be able to chomp down on each and every enemy he runs into, converting each not-so-lethal encounter into massive point bonuses. The chief problem with Purumi’s Golden Dragon form is the same as with the light bubble that I previously mentioned: Purumi will continue to appear Golden for a second or two after the game registers him as having lost the ability.
Other items that litter the field include a lantern that will temporarily stop Purumi’s current light level from decreasing, a giant magnet that will attract nearby Lunas, a shadowy vial that makes Purumi invincible for a few seconds (but unable to pick up Lunas during that time), a flaming ball that will allow Purumi to rocket invincibly forward for a few seconds (while still being able to pick up Lunas), and a ball with a star on it that will let Purumi automatically collect every Luna currently on the screen. Most of these items also have upgrades that can be purchased in the Luna shop to increase the duration of how long they last when picked up, or some other enhancement of that sort. Some of these – just like the bubble shield and the Golden Dragon – can have just as odd deaths occur when the power up wears off, such as the one time when the shadow potion wore off and Purumi was instantly killed by an enemy behind him that he wasn’t even remotely in contact with.
The last item you can pick up during the course of Lumigon’s gameplay is a powerful flashlight that will occasionally be carried onto the playing field by a friendly pink colored dragon. Unlike everything else in the game that I have mentioned so far, this item is picked up by physically tapping the pink colored dragon instead of by having Purumi walk over top of it. The mighty flashlight – once obtained – functions as a sort of smart bomb that can instantly fry every single enemy currently on the iOS unit’s screen, but – in much the same way that it is acquired – is activated through the somewhat awkward action of tapping the little girl who is now holding it.
There is one more thing you can do during the course of any given level in Lumigon, and that is activating Purumi’s ‘secret powers’ by tapping a button that is always available in the lower left hand corner of the screen. Once tapped – assuming there are any charges left – the little girl will climb up on Purumi’s back and ride him across the screen while laser beams shoot every which way, easily clearing a chunk of the current stage. As is common in games that are heavily IAP driven like Lumigon, this particular invincibility item is only available by buying it with Lunas that the player has either picked up or purchased with real money.
iFanzine Verdict: Lumigon is actually a charmingly cute game, but the beautiful graphics contained within do almost nothing to offset the bevy of IAP greed related issues that that title is plagued with. The bland up and down dodging does little to justify the fact that this game becomes ridiculously difficult less than an hour after you start playing, at which point you probably won’t feel like the game was worth either grinding for Lunas or buying them. The worst part of all this is perhaps that Lumigon isn’t even offered for free upfront, I have seen many IAP fueled free titles that were both far more entertaining as well as having the IAP wall – where progress sans heavy grinding and/or buying victory essentially becomes impossible – not hit the player up side the head nearly so early on. When you stack on top of all this the controls that constantly have to be recalibrated or else they’ll stop working, and the defense items that fail to protect you even when they’re still displaying on screen as active, and you immediately have a title that should just be avoided.