Mikey Hooks, the Grappling Hook Sequel to Mikey Shorts, Comes to Android April 10th

Mikey Hooks, the Grappling Hook Sequel to Mikey Shorts, Comes to Android April 10th

Mar 31, 2014

Enjoyed Mikey Shorts, but thought “I can’t wait to play more of it?” Well, good news, consumer – Mikey Hooks, the sequel to the speedrun platformer, now featuring grappling hook action, is coming on April 10th. As with the original, it’s a port done by Noodlecake Games. The Android port of the original was well-done, so expect more of the same top quality with this game — only with grappling hooks, and more hats. We’ll have a full review of the game around its release.

Major Magnet Arcade Coming Soon to Android, Now in Open Beta

Major Magnet Arcade Coming Soon to Android, Now in Open Beta

Mar 31, 2014

PagodaWest Games, creators of the gorgeous Major Magnet, are following up their Sonic-inspired, magnet-based platformer with Major Magnet Arcade, a free-to-play take on the game — and now Android gamers will get to enjoy it.

The gameplay is familiar to the iOS-exclusive original: players tap on magnets to spin around them, tapping them to launch off, and tapping other magnets to start spinning around them, using angular momentum to get around. Collecting orbs that increase score and the multiplier are important: this version is about high scores, and completing a set of five levels consecutively with as high a score as possible. The game does make clear when players have gotten a perfect multiplier, which helps — getting it on all five in a row is a challenge.

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There’s an energy system for continues, it seems, and currency for buying powerups, though PagodaWest has indicated that the game will try to be as unobtrusive as popular. The game is currently in a quasi-soft-launch/open-beta phase, and players can join the beta right now if they choose by joining this Google+ community. The game should be available soon. Check out footage of the beta (which is not finalized, and things may still be tweaked) below.

Social Quiz Game Series QuizTix Enters Open Beta

Social Quiz Game Series QuizTix Enters Open Beta

Mar 31, 2014

QuizTix, an upcoming quiz game that will let players compete against their friends in quizzes of various topics, is now in open beta on Android. Join the QuizTix Google+ community and get a chance to play the “Pop Music” and “Movies” versions of the game before their general public releases.

ZeptoLab Releases Free-to-Play Version of Cut the Rope 2 for Android

ZeptoLab Releases Free-to-Play Version of Cut the Rope 2 for Android

Mar 31, 2014

Cut the Rope 2, the first “true” sequel to ZeptoLab’s hit series, has finally made its way to Android. It’s still about cutting ropes to get the candy to Om Nom, but now there’s a vareity of new puzzle types, and a new level structure that only slightly resembles Candy Crush Saga. There’s also an energy system, so beware. The game is available now for free from Google Play.

Herocraft Releases Neon Commander, a Retro-Style Shoot ’em Up, Today on Google Play

Herocraft Releases Neon Commander, a Retro-Style Shoot ’em Up, Today on Google Play

Mar 31, 2014

Herocraft wants you to command neon itself in Neon Commander. Or, at least, use your own finger to attack neon-glowing enemies that appear to be invaders — possibly from space! So stretch out those thumb and index finger tendons, but not necessarily your wallet, as Neon Commander is available now for free from Google Play.

Google Celebrates April Fool’s Day by Bringing Pokemon to Android via Google Maps. Seriously.

Google Celebrates April Fool’s Day by Bringing Pokemon to Android via Google Maps. Seriously.

Mar 31, 2014

Granted, April Fool’s Day means anything is possible, but Google has decided to up the ante by bringing Nintendo’s Pokemon to Google Maps. Really. Get the latest version of Google Maps from Google Play, go to the search bar and choose “Press Start.” Then, look around the Mountain View, CA area for Pokemon on the map to collect them. Catch ’em all but do so quickly, because this is sure to go away not soon after April Fool’s Day ends.

A New RPG is Released on Google Play: Heroes of Atlan

A New RPG is Released on Google Play: Heroes of Atlan

Mar 31, 2014

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Heroes of Atlan is a free-to-play PvP-heavy role-playing game with over a hundred different heroes, available in five different classes. One part of the game consists of various tournaments where players’ heroes will fight against each other to sharpen their skills, get gold and level up, and another part is sending these heroes to scout lands, devastated by a demon king. The game can be downloaded for free from here: Heroes of Atlan on Google Play.

Smash Hit Review

Smash Hit Review

Mar 31, 2014

At first glance, Smash Hit seems quite different from the usual Mediocre oeuvre, based on the Sprinkle series and Granny Smith. It’s a first-person game where players launch balls at glass structures to break them as they advance through them – a more abstract look than the cartoon-inspired games Mediocre has done before. But where those other games had wide appeal, so does Smash Hit with its easy-to-pick-up gameplay.

Yes, this is based around just one very simple play method: tap on the touch screen to launch a ball from that spot, aiming at targets that come as players travel forward. Players are trying not to hit any glass as they travel forward. Thus, there are two big things that players need to learn. First, there is the obvious factor of learning how to compensate for the arc of shots, that it’s not just “tap here to hit this object,” but that distance and movement must be factored in as well. The less-obvious thing is knowing that not all obstacles need to be hit. Some look dangerous, but learning when to hit them when it’s just right is important.

See, players are regulated by how many balls they have left to launch, and the game is content to let players run out eventually. Thus, being smart with them, realizing what is an actual hazard and what’s just for show, as well as finding efficient ways to destroy some hazards, is very important. The crystals which can be destroyed to get more balls are important too: keeping a combo going with them is great because the multi-ball shots serve as a great way to more easily destroy obstacles, but then players get obsessed with destroying the crystals because one miss and it’s back to the standard shot.

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Thankfully, the game uses what I’m coining as Minter checkpoints – inspired by Jeff Minter and many of his games, checkpoints for each level track how many balls are at each checkpoint, so players can improve their checkpoint performance by beating an earlier level with more balls. This encourages not just progression, but improvement, and progression by improvement.

Really, Smash Hit is quite an intelligent game for something so simple. It’s about breaking glass, but the way everything works around that core idea makes the game great.

Smash Hit is available as a freemium download: checkpoints are locked until one pays $1.99, but the game is perfectly playable without paying.

Block Legend Review

Block Legend Review

Mar 31, 2014

The puzzle-RPG hybrid has generally been a winning combination. By mixing match-3 puzzles with RPG gameplay, this has led to some really fun games: Puzzle Quest, Dungeon Raid, and 10000000 are all great examples of titles that combined familiar gameplay with dungeon-crawling elements to make for a fun mix. I may be tired of standard match-3 titles, but I’m down for a good RPG match-3 game. Thus, I entered Block Legend with some excitement, but found that it fell flat due to poor pacing.

The puzzle part of the game plays more like Collapse than the average match-3 title, as players just need to tap blocks to remove them, as long as at least two are bunched together.Thus, the game works a bit better in frantic instances because players just need to tap to find a match, rather than dealing with a block-switching mechanic of some sort. However, the game is built around turns in combat, where every few matches the player makes, the enemy gets to attack, so it’s not the ideal situation for this matching method. Players are not always in combat – outside of it, the attack icons which do damage turn into EXP blocks. Health and shield blocks restore those stats, green magic blocks do magic damage, and coin and treasure blocks increase one’s money and collect a new boost item, respectively.

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The RPG parts have players starting off as characters with various stats, collecting EXP when between battles to upgrade a certain stat each time one levels up, and gold to buy temporary boost items. There’s a hard currency, starblocks, which are used for the permanent unlocks and pre-game boost items. These are earned largely by completing challenges, so keeping an eye on these is a good idea, as many of the unlockable characters have higher base stats than the two starters.

However, the big issue with Block Legend comes when its boss fights start. The bosses do so much more damage than normal enemies do – and it’s a ruiner of game momentum because many wind up doing more damage per turn than anything but the perfectly-prepared player can dish out. So, one can try to heal up and collect shields, but this is merely delaying the inevitable in some cases. 10000000 did this well: normal enemies could serve as hindrances. Block Legend makes any boss fight a potential stumbling block. As well, since progress is about nebulous scores, there’s not much satisfaction in the progress. By the end, I found myself merely trying to chase down more of the starblocks so I could unlock more characters and environments, rather than playing to improve my performance, as I feel I should be doing.

While I wanted to like Block Legend – its graphics are colorful and its style whimsically-amusing, the flaws do significantly hinder what should be a winning combination.

The Upcoming Star Wars Pinball: Heroes Within Will Feature Multiple Character Tables

The Upcoming Star Wars Pinball: Heroes Within Will Feature Multiple Character Tables

Mar 31, 2014

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The newest table pack to the Star Wars Pinball series from Zen Studios will feature a table dedicated to Han Solo, among others. Here are the names for the upcoming tables: Han Solo, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Wars Pinball: Droids, and Star Wars Pinball: Masters of the Force. The pack will be released on Google Play, probably around early April. Meanwhile, you can purchase previous game here: Star Wars Pinball 2.

Rumr Lets You Have Anonymous Conversations With Your Friends

Rumr Lets You Have Anonymous Conversations With Your Friends

Mar 31, 2014

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If you need to speak your mind freely among a group of your friends, that’s exactly what Rumr can give you. Add friends or other acquaintances into a group chat, where everyone is anonymous and the only way to tell people apart is their message colors. The app can be downloaded for free from here: Rumr on Google Play.

Nvidia’s Cutting the Shield’s Price and Offering Exclusive Content, but Selling Games and Devices May Not be Their Future

Nvidia’s Cutting the Shield’s Price and Offering Exclusive Content, but Selling Games and Devices May Not be Their Future

Mar 31, 2014

The Nvidia Shield and what the company is doing with it is really quite intriguing as the Tegra 4 and Android gaming flagship device nears its first year of public availability. Nvidia’s continuing to promote the handheld with price cuts and now quasi-exclusive content to try and sell it. But based on the context of the device, the news, and what I’ve seen and heard straight from Nvidia, the Shield seems to be more Nvidia hammering down the nail for their efforts with internal hardware and services, by providing consumer products that showcase it.

This runs much in contrast to Intel’s efforts with Android, which they were happy to talk about at GDC 2014, but were lax to discuss in a consumer context, it seemed. Sure, there are Intel-powered phones and even the iConsole.tv that they promoted at their booth. But there’s just no flagship Intel Android device, one that screams “This is an Intel Android device!”

Nvidia has been in that lofty position before. The Tegra 3 was ubiquitous for a while in 2012, and while it felt like the Tegra 4 has been less-used, or at least more under the radar, there are still devices that use it. The most prominent, of course, is the Shield. And it may not just be a one-off device if all the continued promotion is a sign.

Nvidia decided, probably quite smartly, to save two of their big announcements for the Nvidia Shield for after GDC, what with all the announcements regarding game engines, VR headsets, and the like. First, the Shield has gotten a price cut to $199 from its current $249 price point, putting it well within the price range of other Android tablets but also the Vita and 3DS as the hardware relatively ages.

But what’s really fascinating is that Nvidia seems to be really pushing for console-quality content on the Shield – or at least Android as large. This isn’t just with the announcement of Portal for the Shield, which is a rather cool game to have on mobile, being one of the best games of this millennium, and one that as many people as possible should play, even if many already have.

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But Nvidia is also dipping their toes in game streaming, and their GDC booth flaunted it. They had what looked like Ultra Street Fighter 4 being played on a big screen TV and a couch, with a Shield hooked up. Various Shield units were streaming games, including one example where one of the Batman Arkham games was being streamed from a local machine with imperceptible latency, and another Shield streamed the same game from over a machine in Houston via Moscone Center’s wi-fi. There was perceptible latency, but not so much that the game was unplayable, a minor technological miracle given the situation.

Nvidia of course has announced their Grid technology for streaming games over the cloud as well, but representatives indicated to me that they want this to be more of a backend service than one that they provide themselves, even though they are doing so for the beta.

And really, it seems that their approach is just that: they want to be the man behind the curtain, but they’ll bring down the hammer on their efforts in public when necessary – and exclusivity is only a limited option. After all, The Shield is functionally not much different than an Android phone in a clip on a MOGA controller. Portal was announced for Tegra devices, not just the Shield. Even WayForward’s recent Shield-exclusive release was more “it’s optimized for Shield and Tegra 4, anything else is gravy.” The Shield controller uses the HID protocol that they helped develop.

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Really, there’s no reason why Nvidia has to make hardware at all other than to be reference hardware, like with the Tegra Note. But it helps to have these devices that are out there that have actual, real-world consumer applications.

It’s a fascinating approach because Nvidia seems to want to have their cake and eat it too, while being perfectly fine to just have the cake, they’ll only eat it if they feel the need to. It’s a metaphor that doesn’t quit pan out. But their goal seems to be to elevate Android gaming by any means necessary: by providing the hardware from the internals, to the externals, to the peripherals, from software solutions to software itself. And perhaps that’s what’s necessary: it’s easy to be like Intel and talk a big game, but Nvidia is ready to talk and play the game when it comes to powerful gaming on Android.