Rymdkapsel Now Available, Here’s a GIF to Celebrate

Grapefrukt’s Rymdkapsel, recently featured here on this very site, is now out on Android! It’s now possible to download this strategy/simulation game from Google Play right now for $3.99. We’ll have a full-fledged review tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this GIF version of the game’s trailer.

Five Reasons to Care About the Upcoming Heroes of Loot from Orangepixel

Five Reasons to Care About the Upcoming Heroes of Loot from Orangepixel

Jul 31, 2013

Heroes of Loot is the upcoming game from prolific one-man studio Orangepixel, a retro-inspired hack ’n slash that is currently in beta. Here are five reasons why you should care about this upcoming title.

1. It’s Gauntlet-inspired!

So many modern roguelikes and hack ’n slash games ignore what is one of the more prominent entries in the genre in the history of gaming: Gauntlet. Heroes of Loot does not. There’s projectile-based weapons for all the characters (even the ‘melee’ ones) and loads of enemies to take on. Massive enemy waves to take on. Thankfully none of the really annoying elements are there (yet) like indestructable Death and the ability to constantly pump in quarters.

Boy am I glad no free-to-play game has tried to do what Gauntlet did back in the day.

HeroesOfLootPreview-03

2. It’s gonna have multiplayer

A game can’t be a good Gauntlet-like without having multiplayer, and lo, there will be multiplayer in Heroes of Loot! Right now, it’s primarily supported through the use of multiple Green Throttle controllers, though it seems quite likely that the unconsoles like Ouya will have support for the game and multiplayer too because I’m reasonably certain that if someone releases an unconsole or a controller, Pascal Bestebroer is coding support for it. In fact, the game is spirtitually a lot like Gunslugs in many regards…

3. It has that Orangepixel ‘voice’ in it

Anyone who plays Orangepixel games knows that for the overwhelming majority of them, they have common themes and similar art styles. It’s a very familiar brand and style, and it’s good for gaming – both as an industry and as an art form – to allow a developer to cultivate a voice and style for themselves. Heroes of Loot is a new expression of that voice. Speaking of loot…

HeroesOfLootPreview-07

4. The game doesn’t skimp on loot

If you like collecting coins, jewels, treasure chests, and other assorted beads and baubles, there’s loads of them to pick up. Loads and loads and loads and loads and loads. It’s loot all the way down.

5. Interesting permanent elements

There seems to be a permanent dungeon difficulty that increases as players do better at the game, trying to ensure that players are constantly challenged. While it’s not fully understood or realized in this pre-release version, it’s definitely an interesting element to be explored as it nears release.

Heroes of Loot is still in the works, and should be coming to Android at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Ouya Hardware Review

Ouya Hardware Review

Jul 31, 2013

Ever since the Ouya was announced, it has been a lightning-rod. Not only was it one of the biggest Kickstarter projects ever, it has also served as the flagship for the “unconsole” movement. But now that it’s a real product, the question remains: is this thing actually any good?

Interface

Once everything is plugged in and set up, Ouya very easy to use. The power button on the Ouya itself or on the controller is used to turn the system on. It’s simple to launch apps, quick to quit back to the menu by double-tapping the menu button on the controller, and the whole interface is great for the 10-foot experience. There are moments where the stock Android UI is used instead, but it’s not a terrible experience.

Ouya-Menu

It’s very easy to spend money on games too. When an IAP opportunity arises, it’s a simple confirmation dialog and optional security prompt to lock in a purchase. Of course, getting convinced to buy anything when there’s vast amounts of free stuff is a challenge of its own. Still, from a pure user experience, Ouya is successful. The only tricky thing is figuring out how to sideload apps, but hey – we wrote a guide on that.

Hardware

This is a Tegra 3 Android device, and it performs about as well as one expects it to. So don’t expect games that look like even current-generation console titles, but don’t expect completely ugly experiences either. Thanks to multitasking being disabled by default, the experience does feel a lot more stable than the Nexus 7 does when playing games.

Ouya-1

The wi-fi has been mentioned as an issue by others, possibly because of the system’s case, though I didn’t have an issue with connectivity. Then again, my Ouya is near my router anyway, so it wasn’t a big problem. There is ethernet connectivity for those who need that instead.

There’s a full-size USB port for connecting either wired Xbox or PS3 controllers, and a micro-USB for connecting the Ouya as a storage device. Video output for the Ouya is done solely through HDMI. The whole package is rather small, thanks to the cubic design.

Games

The selection is missing a lot of the elite titles that have released on Android over the last few years, but there’s some solid titles and some good exclusives. It’s hard to say that Ouya owners won’t find plenty of ways to be entertained.

Ouya-Towerfall

While most of the games are mobile conversions, even games like Nimble Quest brought to the platform actually are a good fit for sitting back in a chair or on a couch wih a controller and playing for a while. That, and physical controls actually work really well for some of these games. They’re just as fun on a TV as they are on a touchscreen.

Long-term, it will be interesting to see how the library stacks up. Early on, developers don’t seem to have good things to say about the conversion rates on free downloads, because ev erything is free to download. For Ouya owners, this is great because it’s very easy to see a game that looks interesting, and to give it a spin. The problem is that because there’s so much to sample, there’s not a lot of reason to spend a lot of money on full games. Plus, developers who are releasing outright free games aren’t helping either. It’s easy to get enough entertainment to justify the $99 purchase without spending much more beyond that.

Ouya-FistOfAwesome

And really, that’s the problem – if developers have no reason to push Ouya development beyond “eh, this might be interesting enough to put out there just becuase” then the library will be constantly deficient, and the system will remain nothing more than an affordable curiosity. That, or an emulation machine, which Ouya is not shying away from – multiple emulators are featured on the store. I suppose sideloading of emulators was something people were going to do eventually, but their featured place on the store is a questionable decision.

Of coure, the platform as a whole might be helped if perhaps it gains steam initially as a cheap emulation box, then the influx of new users to the platform will help propel developers to financial success solely through massive user numbers. Otherwise, expect most games to go the pure free-to-play route with IAP as opposed to a freemium unlock situation, solely because it will be a challenge to make money through any other method. That’s what worries me about the Ouya’s long-term viability more than anything else.

Controller

The controller is kind of weird. It starts with putting the batteries in, which strangely involve pulling the faceplates off of the controller and sticking a battery in each side. The joysticks are rubberized like the Playstation 3 controller’s joysticks, but without the rounded top. The d-pad feels a bit loose, but otherwise does the job well. The shoulder button positioning is a bit odd and cramped a bit, but it’s not exactly a problem.

Ouya-1

The use of a single start/menu button is weird, but doesn’t cause many problems beyond just being an unusual choice. The trackpad in the center works well enough for whenever it’s necessary. The button layout is odd because “O” is where “A” on the Xbox 360 controller is, and while the color-coding is identical, “O” has historically been cancel on Playstation systems, so there’s a mental disconnect that won’t quite go away.

All in all, it’s a combination that individually feels worse than it actually is, which is to say that it’s a controller largely without many problems in terms of pure usability. Some games suffer from some annoying input lag (Super Crate Box in particular) but this seems more like a software problem than a hardware one.

The ability to use Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 controllers (in certain games, at least) is a very welcome inclusion.

Conclusion

And really, I think the Ouya’s controller experience is indicative of the experience of the console in general: there’s a lot of little things that are off, but it overall works. It’s definitely imperfect, but it’s really neat.

But of course, that’s what the buyer of an Ouya has to tell themselves: this is as much about satisfying a curiousity about the unconsole market rather than buying into a fully-formed and completely viable platform. It’s about buying in to the idea as much as the execution, because I think the execution of the Ouya is still being written.

So, if the Ouya sounds interesting, hey, it’s $99, so it’s not a terrible impulse buy. While there will be other options, including the $20 cheaper Game Stick, I think that is the most-likely survivor unless Google comes out with their unconsole as rumored, or if Apple jumps in to the market. Just beware: this is still a work in progress. But there’s enough going for the Ouya to be hopeful for the future.

AVP: Evolution Review

AVP: Evolution Review

Jul 31, 2013

When it comes to sci-fi feuds, there are some pretty epic rivalries out there with fans and the characters themselves. Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Superman vs. Batman and what this game is about… Alien vs. Predator. Yup, this is the newest rendition of that age old battle between 2 alpha male types from somewhere other than earth.

Starting the game, there is the choice to play as either a Predator or an Alien. Each will have their own special attacking moves and combos. The initial level as a Predator is like a proving ground to get used to the controls, movements and weapons of the Predator. The second level is where the game actually starts. They have the Predator on a ship unarmed. The first step is to find the wrist blades used as the basic attacking weapon at the start of the game.

avp-12The controls are an on-screen controller type with a d-pad and a couple of buttons. On a side note, for players with them, AVP: Evolution is optimized for MOGA controllers. (: In my opinion, games like this are much easier to play with an actual controller instead of the on-screen d-pad style controller.

Throughout AVP: Evolution are options to upgrade the skills, weapons and armor of the killing machine being used. This can give a unique advantage and can create a different game each time a new game is started. As mentioned, there is a choice to play as either extraterrestrial killer making for a very different game and storyline. From the perspective of the Aliens, it is a matter of freeing the species from slavery. From the Super Predator side of the story, it is all about conquering the Jungle Hunter Clan of Predators.

The thing to remember is, AVP: Evolution is all about the graphics and action. This might mean AVP: Evolution won’t be compatible on slower or older devices. If the Android device being used barely meets the requirements to play the game, it might not be as enjoyable.

The finishing moves in AVP: Evolution are great. Make sure to learn and get good at some of the combos so kicking some butt and advancing the skills of the player is a little easier. The levels are pretty cool and very detailed. As The lighting is pretty eerie and dark, yet leaves enough to see whats going on.

AVP: Evolution takes some getting used to the movements and the different actions, but after playing for a few levels, it get smoother. It took a couple tries for me to get some of the different final kill moves but they are pretty cool. It’s also how health can be increased.

Oh My Glob! Cartoon Network Video Now Supports Kindle Fire, Nook HD, and the New Nexus 7

Oh My Glob! Cartoon Network Video Now Supports Kindle Fire, Nook HD, and the New Nexus 7

Jul 31, 2013

Cartoon Network’s app with clips, episodes, and even live network streaming is now available to even more Android users. The app has just launched on the Kindle Fire and Nook HD on their respective app stores. But owners of Google Play Android devices need not fret, as the app has been updated to be properly optimized for 7- and 10-inch tablets, just in time for the new Nexus 7! Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Voxel Invaders Review

Voxel Invaders Review

Jul 31, 2013

When it comes to arcade icons like Space Invaders, using hushed tones is very appropriate. That game was one of the granddaddies, and is still a favorite across generations. Voxel Invaders brings that exact type of fun to the Android screen.

The retro feel is underscored by the graphics. The 2D environment is presented in old-school format, with purposefully simplistic backgrounds and hues meant to emphasize visual color separation. The animations are relatively smooth within the design confines of the gameplay.

But yes… it’s quite okay to think of a specific arcade shooter of yester-years. Voxel Invaders has the same type of wave offense gameplay. Attack is the best form of defense; the lone ship starts out at the bottom of the screen, and waves of enemy ships appear directly in front, at the top. The main goal is to stay alive by clearing the voxel1enemy ships and avoiding return fire.

The ship itself shoots on its own, so dragging the ship with a finger gets it in position to be in front of an enemy ship. It also helps maneuver it out of the way of moving fire coming right at it. To begin, the waves were simple formations and the return fire is fairly slow and intermittent. As the game progresses, and waves are successfully cleared, the gameplay gets craftier, sending out sneakier gunfire, tougher enemy ships and more agressive formations. Enemy ships start coming forward faster, and shooting in multiple directions.

Thankfully, there are upgrades and powerups that somewhat help level the playing field. These usually appeared at tough spots, requiring a bit of danger to procure. There’s stuff like extra lives, invincibility, weapons upgrades and more

The game has three difficulty levels (Easy, Normal and Hard), so different abilities are covered.

All in all, it’s a superb time waster that celebrates the power of longevity.

Blind Man’s Dungeon Review

Blind Man’s Dungeon Review

Jul 31, 2013

Blind Man’s Dungeon belongs to a lightweight category of games that only feature main menu, and a single gameplay mechanic. Although it means that the clutter of useless power-ups and in-app purchases is absent from the game, it also means that it’s incredibly repetitive, and if that one mechanic isn’t enough to keep the player interested for a long time, the whole game is pretty much useless. Naturally, Blind Man’s Dungeon suffers from the same issues. It has an undeniably working and unfamiliar core mechanic, but since it has nothing else, Blind Man’s Dungeon becomes dull somewhat quickly.

Blind Man's Dungeon 1The player is tasked with guiding a supposedly blind hero around with a fairy, whose ability is to build walls everywhere in her steps, unless there’s something already in that place. The hero always goes clockwise, so the walls should be built appropriately. The dungeon is screen-sized and tiled, and randomly gets filled with enemies, loot and traps. When the hero clashes with common enemies, he kills them and gets some points. Likewise, when he approaches loot, he picks it up, and gets more points. When the hero runs over a trap, or clashes with a special enemy, he loses one life, and the enemy isn’t removed. There’s a single activated ability, which allows the player to remove all the traps from the dungeon, but it can only be activated after a recharge.

This is pretty much, everything there is about Blind Man’s Dungeon. While it does feature different styles for dungeons and different heroes, along with various achievements and collectibles to mark at least some sort of progress, it’s still quite simple, and as such, can quickly become repetitive. Although it’s a very interesting game, and quite flawlessly executed one as well, featuring simple but endearing pixel graphics, and also simple, but working mechanics, it lacks variety. Some unlockable abilities, or additional dungeons, or different difficulty levels or something else to strive for, could greatly help. But, even as it is, it’s a fun little game, quite worthy of its price.

G5 Entertainment Launches Massive Summer Sale

G5 Entertainment Launches Massive Summer Sale

Jul 31, 2013

G5 Entertainment, the publisher well-known for their library of time management and hidden object games, has announced a massive summer sale through August 11th. Nineteen of their games for Android are on sale through August 11th. Check out the full and extensive list of games on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore below.

Hero of Many Review

Hero of Many Review

Jul 31, 2013

Upon launching, Hero of Many announces as clearly and distinctly as possible: it’s an “art” game. Wildly-colored graphics, total absence of a single written or spoken word, and absolute confusion as to how in the heavens one is supposed play it. I don’t really want to talk about the gameplay of Hero of Many. Partly – because I still don’t understand it completely, and partly – because there’s quite a bit of joy in figuring out how to actually play the game. Anyway, it’s not like the game is really difficult to figure out, so here goes the explanation.

Hero of Many 3The player controls a small floating sphere, not unlike a cell, emanating a dim white light. The cell is controlled by tapping anywhere on the screen, moving it closer to that direction. When the cell comes in contact with other small white spheres, lying around the levels, it absorbs them and its light grows brighter. The goal of the game is to simply drive the cell around the level, reaching the end. This is quite tricky, however, since the levels are filled with small black sperm-like tail-wagglers that attack the cell on sight, slowly draining it of its light, and eventually killing it.

The cell itself is absolutely defenseless against them, but as it floats around the level, it reaches white tail-wagglers that start floating along with it, and attack the black ones, should they float too close. Naturally, the cell should evade the black things, letting the white tailheads do their job. These spermints can be controlled, to an extent, by swiping in any direction, making them dash there. Of course, the player’s floatingsters die just as easily as they kill, so they always need to be resupplied, searching for the stray ones across the vast, branching levels.

Although Hero of Many is ridiculously simple at the beginning, and I indeed wondered, if it’s just philosophical pondering and meditative resource, instead of a proper game, it gets difficult staggeringly fast. Just as I wanted to dismiss it as all beauty and no challenge, I found myself completely stuck, losing all of my tail-wagglers to the spikes that some levels are scattered with, as well as losing my cell’s health to the constant onslaught of dark-mattered bastards.

So, while it is indeed beautiful and has a majestic micro-universe design, I am personally a lot more amused by the fact that it’s quite a challenging and unconventional game. It’s half action, half strategy, and all exciting. Perhaps, it’s a little too unusual to be interesting to everyone, but Hero of Many is a game of great quality, as well as of great challenge, and I liked it quite a lot.


Facebook Launches Mobile Game Publishing Initiative

Facebook Launches Mobile Game Publishing Initiative

Jul 31, 2013

Facebook has announced their new Mobile Games Publishing initiative. While it appears that the idea is to get better game discovery for users, Facebook will provide developers with analytics and tools to make their games more appealing to Facebook users in exchange for a revenue share. The list of developers that are working with the program early on are of a wide variety, as quoted from Facebook’s announcement:

5th Planet’s RPG card battle game, Dawn of the Dragons
Brainbow’s puzzle-packed adventure game, Dr. Newton: The Great Brain Adventure
Certain Affinity’s pirate-themed strategy game, Age of Booty: Tactics
Dragonplay’s social poker game, Live Hold’Em
Gameloft’s medieval strategy/simulation game, Kingdoms & Lords
Gamevil’s city building simulation game Train City
KiwiGames’ quest-based exploration game, Shipwrecked
Outplay Entertainment’s explore-and-battle fantasy game, Monster Legacy
Space Ape’s multiplayer combat strategy game, Samurai Siege
WeMade Entertainment’s endless-running game WINDrunner

Rocket Island Review

Rocket Island Review

Jul 31, 2013

Remember when games weren’t about getting all of the achievements or completing all of the levels? There used to be a time where you’d play a game not to finish it but to simply get better at it. Pac-Man, Tetris, Donkey Kong – all they had was the allure of the ‘High Score’ to keep you playing.

Rocket Island is a throwback to those days gone by. It’s a puzzle game that forces you to think quickly and react even quicker and all it offers in return is the promise of doing better next time. This may sound like a game that’s in for a bit of a rough review, but it’s not. Rocket Island is fantastic.

Like all good puzzle games, the premise is simple. A grid of hexagons sit in front of you and you have to build up combos of continuous lines through this grid. The catch being that the combos have to be of an exact length and this length gets bigger and bigger. For example, you start off needing to touch one hexagon. Then you need to drag your finger over two, then three, then four and so on. Another barrier to this simple idea of dragging your finger over the screen is that each dragged out combo needs to be made of hexagons that are the same ‘type’.RocketIsland4

After dragging your finger over a hexagon, it ‘levels up’, until it reaches its final form, a rocket, and launches into space saving the island’s people and giving you more time to play. Does that make sense? Is that clear? It may seem a bit lazy to say ‘look at the video’, but the video clearly explains in 5 seconds what I’ve attempted in 140 words.

A minor criticism I have with the game is the sometimes too random nature of doing well. With volcanoes and earthquakes doing their best to ruin your combos and tarnishing a run at a high score, it can sometimes feel unfair. This may have been just my way of coping with defeat or looking for excuses, but one too many times I’ve had a meteor smash dead into the middle of a group of 10 rockets I was just about launch. This ate up time, stopped me from getting a time bonus due to launching said rockets and resulted in my game being over.

The fact I was annoyed enough by this to remember it should go some way to how invested you can become in a good run. There’s a real thrill and sense of reward to see a huge combo of rockets take off that a lot of puzzle games just don’t have. It’s also pleasing to see that the game’s developers don’t let you ‘pay to win’. This is a free game and all it asks is that you to look at an advert at the end of every game or to unlock the full title by downloading a partnered app or pay little more than a dollar.

Rocket Island is a great puzzle title that doesn’t offer huge amounts of content, but instead relies on fantastic gameplay to hook you in and always want to have ‘one more go’.

Samsung Coded the Galaxy S4 to Give Misleading Benchmark Results

Samsung Coded the Galaxy S4 to Give Misleading Benchmark Results

Jul 31, 2013

Samsung’s been caught sticking its hand in the cookie jar. A recent report by AnandTech reveals that the Samsung Galaxy S4 overclocks its processor specifically when running benchmark tests in order to make it look more powerful than it actually is. This causes the phone to look more powerful on paper than it is in real-world usage, especially to those who may download a benchmarking app unaware of the hard-coded trickery Samsung is doing.