Last year we looked at a Windows Phone development tool called Automagical that assists with porting iOS code to Windows Phone. In short, the PC software translates Objective-C (iOS and Mac) code into C# (Windows Phone) code. Automagical comes from Slovenian developers Dawn of Play, who released the beautiful Windows Phone puzzle game Dream of Pixels in 2014 as well.
Automagical sounds great in theory, but what about application? We can now see the results firsthand, because Dawn of Pixels has used it to convert their iOS game Monkey Labour to Windows Phone and Windows 8. Monkey Labour is a classic LCD-style game starring a robot laborer who battles a mean monkey. In celebration of its launch, the game is free this weekend!
Read on for our Monkey Labour impressions and hands on video, plus details of how Automagical helped port the game to Windows Phone.
Bringing Monkey Labour to Windows
Unlike Dream of Pixels, Monkey Labour was ported to mobile Windows platforms using Automagical. This game is the first real world proof of Automagical's benefits.
Using Automagical, the developer ported the alpha version of Monkey Labour from iOS to Windows Phone in less than a day. After that, it took less than eight hours (over the course of a week) of manual code fixes to polish the game and make it ready for players.
Check out our original Automagical story to learn more about pricing and how the application works.
He works hard for the monkey
Starting in 1980, Nintendo produced a series of standalone LCD games under the Game & Watch banner. Other manufacturers like Tiger and Konami would go on to produce a variety of handheld LCD games through the early 1990s. Monkey Labour is designed to emulate the original Game & Watch style, with the same two input buttons (left and right) and three setting buttons surrounding a simulated LCD screen.
Players control a robot worker named Mobot as he picks up blocks dropped by a conveyor belt on the right side of the screen and places them in a furnace on the left side. Each time he delivers a block, you get a point.
The job would be easy, if not for the crazed monkey who has infiltrated the factory. He tosses blocks of his own down at our worker. Mobot mostly has to dodge the blocks, but he can also block an attack if he holds a block above his head. Take a hit without a block in-hand and you lose a life.
As blocks get delivered into the furnace, fires occasionally light up in the pipe above the money. Should a fire fully ignite directly above the bad guy, he takes a hit and sits things out for a few seconds. Then he comes back angry! The player scores a bunch of extra points as well. The position of the fire when it ignites seems random; it would be better if players could predict and plan for the ignition.
Classic LCD screens had some distinctive traits. For instance, the screen could only "light up" and produce shapes in specific places as designed by the developer. Characters don't so much animated as move between preprogrammed positions on the screen. When a "sprite" was not "lit up," you could still see a ghostly shape in its place. Monkey Labour simulates this effect.
Also, pressing down on an LCD game screen will cause some LCD distortion. Monkey Labour simulates that effect too!
The only thing Monkey Labour lacks (other than an easy way to know when the fire will hit the monkey) is audio flourishes. It does have some (kind of annoying) main menu music created in a modern style. During gameplay, you get basic sound effects in the classic LCD gaming style. However, the game badly needs startup and game over jingles. Not every LCD game had those musical snippets, but newer ones did. The experience is too dry without a touch of music.
If you've ever played a classic LCD game, or simply have an appreciation for retro gaming, you'll want to give Monkey Labour a try. The game is free during launch weekend, and then the price will go up to $1.99. Get it down and start burning those blocks!
- Get Monkey Labour for Windows Phone (Free this weekend)
- Get Monkey Labour for Windows PC and tablets (Free this weekend)