Are you a fan of the kingdom-building gameplay of Zynga's CastleVille on Facebook? Do you wish you could take your kingdom with you wherever you go? Well, if you're willing to start over from scratch, you can now do just that in a very similar package: Rocket Sprocket's Circle of Crowns, which has now launched on iPhone and iPad for free.
The game places you in the role of ruler of a seemingly abandoned kingdom. With only a friendly mouse to help you out, you'll take over the tasks of building your kingdom into a prospering community, full of other helpful critters (cats, turtles, etc.) and all sorts of functional and decorative items. Unlike CastleVille, the gameplay here is incredibly focused on having your critters actually complete tasks for you, and as such your own energy supply (in this case, magic) is incredibly low. Still, as you move new critters into your kingdom by building additional homes, they'll all be able to complete tasks that you normally would (chopping down trees for lumber, mining rocks for stone, plowing the fields for crops, and so on).
All along the way, you'll gain experience points for your own character, but your kingdom's villagers will also level up as they complete multiple tasks. Each critter comes with its own personality and can play either a small or large part in your kingdom's story, with bonus stats like earning additional XP when completing tasks, or simply special personality traits, like being particularly nice and talkative to other critters within your community.
There's a fairly basic quest system in place here, asking you to plant certain kinds of crops and build specific structures, among other expected tasks, but your own magic can actually make these go by faster, as any task with less than five minutes remaining on its timer can be finished instantly with one point of magic. Otherwise, you can speed tasks up with Charms, the game's premium currency (Charms can be purchased at a rate of around 20 Charms per dollar, which is a pretty standard ratio).
Circle of Crowns has charming graphics and performs well technically, although I would have appreciated larger buttons or menus when playing on the iPad's large screen space. As it stands, it can be a bit hard to tap on information buttons or the individual store icons, due to their downright tiny size. Still, this leaves more space for you to view the current status of your kingdom, as the menu in no way clutters the screen (a problem in other games), so there does seem to be a justification for their size.
Unfortunately, Circle of Crowns is without social features, which is disappointing as I would have enjoyed viewing critters working in my friends' kingdoms. If you're fine with playing by yourself, though, there's still a lot going on in Circle of Crowns that makes the game worth a look.
Click here to download Circle of Crowns on iTunes --->
Have you tried Circle of Crowns on your iPhone or iPad? How do you think the game compares to CastleVille on Facebook? Sound off in the comments.