IronSun Studios

Xbox Live Developer Interview: IronSun Studios, makers of MonstaFish and Fathom

It's been a while, but we're back with another installment of our Xbox Live Developer Interview series! This time we talk with Paul Kelly, director of IronSun Studios. The British development house has already brought IonBallEX, Battlewagon, and MonstaFish to Xbox Live. Here we discuss some of their influences, design philosophies, and even their next Live game. Head past the break for the full interview and lots of exclusive concept art!

Xbox Live - MonstaFish escapes onto the Windows Phone Marketplace

MonstaFish is the latest Xbox Live release from IronSun Studios, makers of IonBallEX. Windows Phone Central first revealed the game to the world two weeks ago, and now it’s available on the Marketplace.

In MonstaFish, too much toxic waste has been dumped into the water, resulting in gnarly mutations known as MonstaFish. Naturally these toxic fish aren’t too tasty and must be removed for the good of the ocean!

This mode will kill you. A lot.

MonstaFish features five distinct game modes:

  • The main game, MonstaFish, involves waiting around as a super-Octopus spits bubbles out. These combine when they bump into each other and can then be popped to defeat enemy fish.
  • Fish Hook allows requires players to rescue friendly goldfish, hooking and pulling them through schools of MonstaFish using tilt controls. This is probably the most fun and intuitive gametype
  • In Fish Hunt, a couple of cursors float up and down the screen. Tap them when a fish comes through to wipe it out. The mechanics seem a bit confusing so far.
  • Time Attack gives players three minutes to tap and eliminate as many MonstaFish as possible. If the fish escape or you hit too many toxic waste barrels or Boomer fish, the game ends. This mode is actually quite hard and frustrating, though super gamer Zebrasqual has already knocked out both of its more evil Achievements.
  • Fish Tank lets players feed their fish by tapping on the screen to drop flakes. You also need to scare off snails by swiping the screen, which unfortunately doesn’t work very well for me. Anyone else having trouble with that?

As you can see, MonstaFish packs a lot of variety for a single game. It costs only 99 cents and there is a free trial. Swim over here to get it from the Marketplace.

Take an exclusive look at MonstaFish, coming to Xbox Live on Windows Phone for May 30

Where do mobile gamers go for first looks and details of upcoming Xbox Live titles? Why, Windows Phone Central of course! Today we’re pleased to bring you the first screens and trailer for MonstaFish, the final Xbox Live release of the month. It comes from UK developer IronSun Studios, makers of IonBallEX and Battlewagon.

In MonstaFish, too much toxic waste has been dumped into the water, resulting in gnarly mutations known as MonstaFish. As you can imagine, these toxic fish aren’t good to eat and must be removed from the environment for the good of all. That’s where the player comes in…

Head past the break for pictures and details of each game mode!

IonBallEX opens the doors of its dark tower as the Xbox Live Deal of the Week

Wow, somebody at Microsoft is on the ball this week. Not only has Gerbil Physics appeared on the Marketplace ahead of schedule, but so has the new Xbox Live Deal of the Week. Said deal happens to be IonBallEX from IronSun Studios. It’s on sale for $1.99, down from $2.99.

IonBallEX is an Arkanoid-style game in which players use a paddle and ball to break bunches of bricks. This game is more interesting than many of its brethren (especially 3D Brick Breaker Revolution, ugh) thanks to its gothic steampunk setting, a wide variety of block types and power-ups, lots of enemies and bosses to fight, and an addictive upgrade system. Check out our full review for more details.

IonBallEX is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. Get it here on the Marketplace and start knocking some balls around.

Thanks to Tyler1701 for the tip. Kid’s got the heart of a champion!

Battlewagon update fixes Achievements and improves gameplay to boot

IronSun Studios’ second Xbox Live title, Battlewagon, suffered from a bad case of broken Achievements when it launched last year. Like any responsible developer, IronSun quickly set out to fix those Achievements – but they didn’t stop there. The Battlewagon version 1.1 update includes a few additional tweaks that make for a more enjoyable game – fancy that!

Battlewagon version 1.1 release notes

  • All Achievements are now attainable
  • Added a restart button to the Pause menu
  • Changed the wagon launching mechanism
  • Added a power and angle indicator for lobbing

The new restart button should make replaying levels for higher ratings far more pleasant – no more suffering through additional tries when you’ve blown your first life or two. The wagon launching is much less finicky now, thank goodness. The shot power and angle indicator (displayed numerically at the top of the screen) also improve the gameplay. I still find aiming to be kind of awkward, but at least now you can replicate effective shots by paying attention to the numbers.

Battlewagon is a unique and very British game that takes place during medieval times. The object is to retake your lands from four evil barons, Robin Hood-style. Battlewagon’s 68 levels encompass a variety of gameplay styles, and the colorful Amiga-like artwork is quite appealing. We’ll have a full review soon.

Battlewagon costs $2.99 and you can get it here on the Marketplace.

Xbox Live: Battlewagon & Doodle God make it to the Marketplace, breaking & making things all the while

Joining the free game Breeze on Xbox Live this week are two paid titles, Battlewagon and Doodle God. Both games are now available on the Marketplace.

Battlewagon is a curious and very British game that takes place during medieval times. The object is to retake your lands from four evil barons. Battlewagon’s 68 levels encompass a variety of gameplay styles: firing a catapult from a stationary wagon, winding up the wagon just the right amount to stop it within a designated zone, jumping over or barreling through obstacles and enemies, and tossing bombs at specific parts of enemy castles.

While the gameplay is creative and the art charmingly retro, Battlewagon shows a few rough spots out of the gate. The slingshot mechanic could work better as you don’t have much room to aim without hitting the edge of the screen; it’s easy to fire accidentally too. The game seriously needs a retry option from the pause menu and after failing levels as well.

Doodle God is a popular indie game that has been upgraded to Xbox Live status. It’s a hard game to describe, but think of it as an alchemy simulator. You start out with only four elements to mix and match, each combination creating a new element. The object is simply to make them all, which requires tons of experimentation and thought. What makes glass in real life? Fire plus sand. Combine those ingredients in-game and you’ve just unlocked glass, which can then be mixed with many other elements.

Doodle God may look simple in screenshots, but it’s bolstered by terrific British voice acting and a sharp UI. The interface is actually optimized for Windows Phone (swiping left and right to switch pages, etcetera), something you don’t see in many iPhone ports. It also includes several minigames to unlock and a Windows Phone-exclusive quest.

Battlewagon costs $2.99 and you can get it here on the Marketplace. Doodle God is also $2.99. Pick it up here, chemistry enthusiasts.

Battlewagon storms to Xbox Live next week

A few weeks ago, we mentioned that IronSun Studios’ Battlewagon would be coming to Xbox Live soon. At last, Battlewagon has a release date: December 14, next week!

Battlewagon is a lot like Robin Hood, but with a rolling death machine instead of a bow and arrows. Four evil Barons have taken the player’s kingdom, and it’s time to get it back! Equip your wagon with instruments of destruction and then storm the bad guys’ fortifications in 68 levels of medieval mayhem. Not only is Battlewagon a totally fresh premise, it also has that lovable Amiga-like British artwork that has all but disappeared these days.

Battlewagon debuts on Wednesday, December 14. It will cost $2.99.

Head past the jump for the full Battlewagon announcement press release.

IonBallEX gets a Mango update, kills a few bugs

IronSun Studios’ new game Battlewagon is due to hit Xbox Live in December. In the meantime, the developer has updated its other Live title, IonBallEX, with Mango support.

IonBallEX version 1.1 release notes:

  • Support for Fast Application Switching
  • Fixed the following bugs:

Xbox Live: IronSun Studios follows up IonBallEX with Battlewagon

IronSun Studios' IonBallEX (review) nicely filled a niche in the Xbox lineup. Their new title BattleWagon looks to do the same, but this time it doesn't fit an established genre so closely.

The developer describes Battlewagon as an arcade action/strategy game. Players equip a medieval Battlewagon with various weapons and upgrades and then send it to invade enemy castles. Combat uses simple, one-touch controls that should be well-suited to mobile play. With 68 levels that take place across the four seasons and some lovely Amiga-esque graphics, Battlewagon should provide a fresh and lengthy gameplay experience.

Battlewagon is currently targeted for a late December release. It will require Mango out of the gate, which shouldn't be a problem by then. We’ll let you know when the release date and price become official.

IonBallEX - Review

The Atari classic Breakout may have started the brick-breaking genre, but Taito’s Arkanoid took it to the next level, adding enemies and powerups into the mix. Enter indie developer IronSun Studios, whose IonBallEX draws liberal inspiration from Arkanoid while adding a few unique twists.

Before we get to the nuts and bolts, a history lesson: IonBallEX (a title which could seriously use one or two spaces) is the Xbox Live sequel to the original IonBall, which debuted as an indie game on Windows Phone (see our review). It then migrated to Xbox 360, also as an indie game. The only Xbox Live brick-breaking competition on Windows Phone is the abysmal 3D Brick Breaker Revolution (review), so IonBallEX is automatically the best game of its type by default. Thankfully it’s actually pretty good.

Slide past the break for our full review.

IonBallEX is this week's Xbox Live game

Last week, WPCentral broke the news that IronSun Studios’ IonBallEX (yes, the developer is averse to spaces) would be coming to Xbox Live. We just didn’t expect it so soon! IonBallEX is this week’s Xbox Live release.

IonBallEX is an Arkanoid-style game in which players use a paddle and ball to break bunches of bricks. This game is more interesting than many of its brethren thanks to its darkly futuristic setting, a wide variety of block types and power-ups, lots of enemies and bosses to fight, and its experience system. Plus it’s a sequel to an indie game, which we don’t often see on Xbox Live. For more details and screenshots, check out our preview.

IonBallEX (boy I’d rather type that as Ion Ball EX) comes out on Wednesday, August 17 and will cost $2.99. Brick-breaking fans won’t want to miss it.

Indie game IonBall gets Xbox Live sequel with all the trimmings

Xbox Live isn’t exactly crawling with brick-breaking games at the moment. The only such game, 3D Brick Breaker Revolution (review), is ten kinds of terrible. Gamers looking for a Breakout-style fix have had to make do with indie games, such as IronSun StudiosIonBall, which we reviewed in December.

Great news for fans of that game and brick-breaking games in general – IonBall is getting a sequel, and it will be an Xbox Live title to boot.

Head past the break for more exclusive IonBall EX details and screens!

InQuizition - Review

IronSun Studios, developers of Ionball, Lucky7 and Santa Quest, is now offering InQuizition over at the Windows Phone Marketplace. InQuizition is a trivia application that presents you with questions that have multiple answers.  Your job is to find all the correct answers under a time limit.  You start the game with three lives and with each wrong answer or if you fail to beat the time, you lose a life.

InQuizition presents you with a question and twelve possible answers. The number of correct answers are illustrated by a row of stars at the top of the screen and as you choose the correct answer, a star lights up.    Trivia questions range from identifying Beatles songs to animals in the Chinese Zodiac.  

You will need to read the questions carefully. Sometimes the questions directs you to choose answers that are NOT a part of a particular group. Then there are times you are asked to identify answers that are a part of a particular group.

Continued after the break.

Santa Quest - Review

Just in the nick of time for the Holidays, IronSun Studios is offering Santa Quest.

Ionball - Review

IronSun Studios is offering Ionball over at the Marketplace. Ionball is a Breakout styled game that is presented, as described by the developer, in a unique SteamPunk style.

The game play itself isn't anything new. The object is to destroy the tiles by bouncing a ball into them. You keep the ball bouncing by virtue of a paddle board at the bottom of the screen. Miss the ball with the paddle and you loose a life.

To see if Ionball is a breakout of a game, ease on past the break.