Because indie games usually come from very small teams, their developers tend to take personal responsibility for their games’ shortcomings and actively work to improve them. Such is the case with Tainicom, the Greek developer responsible for The World of Dr. Pickaxe (a pinball game) on Windows 8 and Windows Phone.
Only two months after the Windows 8 and RT version of Dr. Pickaxe debuted, this week’s update fixes practically every complaint from our previous article. It adds a bunch of new features like Xbox 360 controller support as well. See all the improvements in our video after the break!
User Interface and Graphics
At launch, the game’s menus were tough to navigate due to the lack of an onscreen back button. I eventually figured out that the Backspace key on the keyboard could back out of menus. Now the game displays a clear back button at the top of the screen during all menus, making it easy to get back to the title screen after adjusting the settings.
Speaking of settings, Tainicom has added some graphical effects that can be toggled in the new Graphics menu. Users can now choose between three levels of anti-aliasing (smoothing of rough edges). Lens flare and reflection effects can be toggled on or off. These options basically let you cut the graphics down a bit in order to keep the game running smoothly on less graphically capable devices. Don’t feel bad, Surface RT. You’re still a man!
The update also introduces an online leaderboard. Swipe left or right to switch between your current score stats, the all-time highest scores, and the month’s best scores. You can scroll through the top scores but an option to jump directly to your position and see the surrounding players would make the leaderboard browsing even better.
When playing with a keyboard, gamers can now use either the Ctrl or arrow keys to move the flippers. But you probably won’t play with keyboard anyway because the mouse controls are now great. Click and drag down and then release in order to launch the ball, just as you’d do with your finger if using a touch screen. The left and right mouse buttons each move the corresponding flipper.
Speaking of control options, the game now supports Xbox 360 controllers as well. The A button launches the ball and the bumper buttons control the flippers. Controller support works well, but it still needs a couple of improvements. The B button should back out of menus, not just the Back button. And the game over message only reflects touch or keyboard controls (as shown above), not the Xbox 360 controller.
Dr. Pickaxe launched as a pretty good pinball simulator that needed a little development love in order to be great. Thanks to this week’s update, Dr. Pickaxe really has become a much better pinball game. And the store description actually mentions pinball now, which surely can’t hurt sales!
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