WWE Champions Free Puzzle RPG Review

WWE Champions Free Puzzle RPG Review

Jan 31, 2017

Truly, we didn’t know what to expect with WWE Champions Free Puzzle RPG. I mean, it’s WWE, so there’s going to at least be a suplex or two, no?

Ah… not so fast.

From looks standpoint, it has a bunch of comfortable characters. It isn’t too glitzy, and the stars themselves look a bit whimsical. The animations are decent, and the other visual pieces are quite well done. The game plays in portrait.wwe3

The game launches with The Rock — and, seriously, no one is better — leading the tutorial. You’re the team manager, and here’s the opportunity to lead WWE superstars to victory.

By now, you must have figured it out: this is a match-3 game. Come again? Yep, this is all about manipulating pieces for points.

The game leads you to a grid with gems of different colors. The idea is to, of course, make matches by gesture swap. Making matches dissolves the gems and yields power.

And here is where the main gimmick really reveals itself: the gems power WWE stars… wrestling WWE stars. Said fighters are above the grid of gems; every time you make a match of three (or more) horizontally or vertically, the star you are managing is able to perform some action against the opponent.

And then there are some special cases. Matching specific colors unleash specific moves. Combos are always great. There are special move cards that can be charged, and everything is geared towards dealing enough damage to be able to pin the opponent.

Now, a great element is the defense. When a pin is attempted, the defending wrestler gets three opportunities to match three gems to generate enough energy to kick out. If not, match is over.

The RPG part is pretty involved. Winning yields coin (and more, like more superstars and XP), and the game money can be used to improve one’s stars, which is important. There is a collaborative online mode, and other aspects that make the game fun.

There are opportunities to use real cash to expedite processes.

All in all, an engaging, atypical “wrestling” game. Not bad.

AB Blast Review

AB Blast Review

Jan 31, 2017

Alrighty, AB Bast is yet another Angry Birds game.

But can you blame them? The flippin’ green pigs just won’t stop.

The game should look familiar to anyone who has played a Rovio game — and at this point,who hasn’t? High definition graphics, liberal use of color and very whimsical characterizations. A lot of the constituents will be familiar too, which can be good or bad for some.

Controls? Taps just about all through.ab3

The main gist of the game is that the troublesome pigs are at it again; this time, they have trapped the birds in balloons. This translates to a portrait-orientation game, with a wooden frame housing balloons that are replenished endlessly from the bottom as some of them are popped.

Freeing the birds entails popping groups of multiple same colored adjacent balloons; one balloon can’t be popped, but at least two touching can. When they are popped, the birds physically fly out to freedom.

The first few levels are just about that: freeing the birds. The goal might be to,say, free 7 blue birds. Okay… did we mention that there is a move limit? Yes, you only get so many taps to get to the requisite 7 birds. The idea is to then tap groups (or, strategically pop others to manipulate such groupings) until the count meter is down to zero. In true Angry Birds fashion, we have the three-star scoring mechanism: completing with less taps is always good.

There are boosts to use,and as with other aspects, strategy comes in handy here.

As more levels are opened, the game does gets more complex — and more interesting. Soon, some of the elements from the original slingshot games (like crystal structures) make an appearance. Pigs? Yessir; there are levels where beating them up and defeating them by contact is the goal. These are pretty engaging.

In the end, AB Blast is a bubble popper. There is an energy requirement, but there are in-game tools (like video watching) that can help you avoid in-app purchases.

Dawn of Titans Tips and Tricks

Dawn of Titans Tips and Tricks

Jan 31, 2017

It’s easy to a shine to Dawn of Titans. The empire building games has everything a kingdom marauder could want: gold, farms, relics,sky-borne lands… and giants.

Titans.

Yep, count us amongst the smitten.

If you wanna get ahead fast, we’ve prepared a list of simple things that can help the greenest newbies get a foothold in this complex game.

While you’re at it, check out our Dawn of Titans review.

Here are some rudimentary tips:

Fight. A lot.

Engage in battles, be they PvP or campaigns. It’s an easy way to do a host of things: accumulate resources, gain XP, improve Titan levels and pick up all-important VP. Plus, there are always bonus rewards to pick up.

When raiding other players, it is so easy to pick on easier prey; it pays to attack players at higher levels though.

Pick your battles

Pick who you pick on with a degree of care. Check what the player you want to take on has by way of defenses. Does he/she belong to a huge alliance that can come back at you with a vengeance? Sometimes, it’s a good idea to shore up your defenses before taking on extra people.

Max out your farms and mines

The interesting thing about kingdom building in Dawn of Titans is that the game forces you to build and upgrade uniformly. Wanna upgrade the castle? Well that requires Building x to be at Level y. Oh, by the way, getting to level y means Building a has to be at level b.

In some ways, this is great, because it allows you to build somewhat evenly across the board. On the other hand, it can be tricky to pick and choose specific tracks.

Take the time to grow resource storage (vault, granary, etc), because it’s tough (read: impossible) to collect enough gold and/or food when you don’t have the space to store them. Overnights are best for the longer upgrades.

Join an alliance (available at 1k vp)

There is strength in numbers. Find an alliance, and make friends. Alliances help with advice, reinforcements and can stand up to bullies.

Keep troops trained/upgraded

Don’t forget to upgrade troops as you move up the ranks. Competition gets tougher, so getting the best fighters out there becomes quite important.

Fuse away!

Fuse those titans. Better yet, fuse weaker ones into titans of higher abilities (stars).

Beyond creating stronger fighters, it helps with gem rewards every so often… and gems are important.

Don’t forget relics

Think of relics as boosts and bonuses. Chances are, if you’re new, you’ve started to amass them and either don’t know how to use them, or don’t even know you have them.

And don’t be bashful about using them; you have only so many slots for them, so use them, and repair the ones you can when you are able to.

Gems!

Are so very useful. Keep them, but don’t hoard them. They can be used fr a host of operations. Along those lines, endeavor to complete the daily tasks. The payout? Yes, you guessed it…

Check out the DOT Wiki

The gamepedia pages are a fantastic resource. Enough said.

[Our Dawn of Titans Review]

Acer Chromebook R11: a Google Play Experience

Acer Chromebook R11: a Google Play Experience

Jan 31, 2017

Chrome is my preferred browser, and had been for quite some time. As one who cut his teeth exploring the interwebs via Netscape Navigator, I enjoy the success of the little guy. Chrome isn’t the little guy anymore, and its adoption is part of the reason that Chromebooks are decent options today.

And yes, Chromebooks aren’t exactly new. I remember the minor cottage industry that formed around tracking services during Google’s CR-48 giveaway way back when. Since then, the platform has matured, and is even seeing significant deployments in education and enterprise.

So, having been in and out of Chromebooks, we were somewhat intrigued when it came to taking a formal look at the latest iteration of Acer’s R11 Chromebook. This isn’t just any Chromebook, see; we are talking about a Chrome OS device with serious tablet sensibilities.

Specs-wise, it is decent hardware: 11.6″ screen with 1366 x 768 IPS touch-enabled display, a quad-core 1.65GHz processor. it also packs 4GB RAm and has 32 GB of onboard storage. It’s white frame fits in a full HDMI port, two (2) USB ports, an audio port, an SD card slot and a webcam.

The biggest asset for folks looking for raw productivity is its recent access to the Play Store. With the vaunted app environment, users have access to a slew of applications that otherwise might need workarounds to get to on Chrome OS… apps like Microsoft Word and Skype, plus all the games one can shake a stick at.

The hinge assembly is built in such away that it can be “opened” all the way till the screen is resting flush against the back of the keyboard, making it quite akin to a tablet. This hybrid design allows the device to be used in a few more ways than, say a regular netbook can.

Now that touchscreen becomes even more valuable, no?

Battery life is impressive. I was able to squeeze out 6 hours of browsing writing on it.

Chromebooks have elbowed their way onto the scene and mostly established a collective reputation of slimmed down reusability. The R11 embodies that, and the increased software ecosystem that Google Play brings is just another feather in the cap.

It isn’t all roses.

Since I started using the R11, one big name, Microsoft, all but killed Chromebook compatibility with the MS Word apps on Google Play (word is they’ll be back at some point for Chrome OS devices 10 inches and smaller). Beyond that, not every app feels natural, though most I tried worked fine; I was able to play several games via touchscreen or game pad.

For device accessory hogs like me, the landscape can be sparse depending on the device chosen. Folks used to servicing/upgrading their own equipment might not be able to do the same on specific Chromebook models. Of course, if one isn’t vested in the cloud (or, at least willing to try to), then Chrome OS might not be a viable option

Thankfully, there are quite a few budding enthusiast communities, like on Reddit, so help shouldn’t be too far away.

Frankly, this evaluation periods has turned into a difficult one; we don’t always fall in love with the products we review. This one though, because of its portability, battery life and fast startup, as morphed into my main work machine.

Pokémon Duel Review

Pokémon Duel Review

Jan 31, 2017

It’s a Pokémon world. You and I just live in it.

Yes, that insane Pokémon GO is still turning heads it seems, and on the heel of that, we should expect more games to take advantage of the mindshare. In Pokemon Duel, we get that: the lovable creatures set to a digitized tabletop game that is made for duels.

The true essence of Pokémon, no?

There’s backstory too. Look, you (the player) are taking part in the — wait for it — the “Pokemon Figure Game World Championship” at Carmonte Island. The grand prize? A skyscraper known as the Jewel Tower.pd3

The game has a tutorial that introduces folks the the gameplay basics and the visuals that make up the game. To begin, the games gives you a “Duel Set” (figures and plates) and a mask, and then walks you through a shadow match of sorts.

There are different gameplay modes: local multiplayer, online duels and even the ability to be a spectator at featured duels.

After the tutorial, the game is open for the taking. If you pick the online duel, the play opens up just as is shown in the tutorial: you get a set of Pokemon pieces and plates; the game selects an opponent, and the match is set.The main idea is to get to the goal of the opposing player before he/she/AI can do the same to you. Whoever gets there first wins the match and earns goodies and XP.

What makes it stand out is the nature of the gameplay; there is a decent amount of depth. It comes across as a less glamorous form of chess, and the ad hoc battling (involving spinning wheels and other elements) is a nice twist. Different pieces have different abilities, and the game adds in fusing and leveling. It does involve strategy, and the different modes help keep it fresh.

In retrospect, the tutorial feels detailed, but probably won’t be nearly enough to get a good understanding of the game. Thankfully, there is a training portal that uses challenges to help bridge the gap; the game becomes much more enjoyable much quicker with this.

If PVP is not you’re thing (or you’ve had enough of blasted rattatas), this one might fall flat. One can spend real money, but it’s possible to enjoy without.

Or… you could try this, bounce around the leagues and be a beast. Hey now…

Seagate Duet External Cloud-Supported Hard Drive Review

Seagate Duet External Cloud-Supported Hard Drive Review

Jan 31, 2017

Vent time.

Look, marriage has been good to me; I am seriously blessed in that regard. I know it’s cliche, but my better half is close to perfect, one of those rare specimens that makes me better by simply observing her aura.

Fantastic as she is, she does have a weakness: smartphone storage management.

It blows my mind. She could run the world, but when it comes to managing media, she lives life like Captain Jack Sparrow, with no regard to the rules media disciplined folks — like me, by the way — live me. She takes pics and records video with abandon, and at some point, when her phone shuts down from the strain of all the data, she looks at me, wondering why I didn’t fix it.

*sigh*

The Seagate Duet, a cloud-supported hard drive with Amazon Drive specific functionality, is just what the doctor ordered for her… and for me.

Off the bat, the review unit Seagate sent us reveals a very slender device, smaller all round than most slab smartphones. The topside is fairly spartan in appearance beyond the Amazon logo and a small LED light; the bottom is has a somewhat understated swirl design. The unit has one port for a miro-B cable; this is included with the unit.

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We got right into the usage. Now, the documentations lets us know this works with computers physically and smartdevices via the Amazon Drive app; additionally, if using said app, the data is synced to Amazon Cloud. Thus, from a mobile point of view, this solution allows for physical and cloud storage in one neat package.

In practice, it all works well; the cloud functionality does require internet, but one cool aspect is that even though the documentation does not explicitly show physical connectivity with smartphones, this unit works with devices that OTG functionality. Using a micro-USB adapter, I was able to connect the device to Android tablets and smartphones, allowing the Duet to show up as a drive on either device. It can be manipulated via file manager.

Quite nifty.

The whole thing is a great concept, not the least of which is its portability. It comes with a year of free Amazon Drive storage (albeit for new users only). At $99, 1 TB doesn’t often look much slicker.

RealMyst Review

RealMyst Review

Jan 30, 2017

Wow…

It’s a beautiful environment, distinctly island-y, with quiet paths,stone outcropping and interesting looking buildings.Go forward? Backwards?

Hmmm…

This is pretty much how realMyst, the classic PC-borne puzzle game, unveils itself on Android.

And yes, the visuals are the a great intro. The graphics do underscore the PC roots, with plenty of attention to detail in the varied environments. Sunlight cuts to darkness appropriately, and the fantastic objects almost adopt a ring of truth. The game is all about discovery and exploration, and the game eye candy is clearly privy to this. The game is taken in in first person, just as it is in the original iterations.

The default controls make use of touchscreens, and the in-game helper gets one going fairly quickly; in short order, one learns how to move forward, normally and at pace, as well as going backwards. Swinging one’s view up and down and from side-to-side is fairly intuitive.

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The action gets going. Immediately. Right from the start, the player is invited to move around, and interact with objects. Nothing is too obvious; one has to take in information, and look for patterns, and, every now and then, double back to find something missed. The puzzles are quite interesting; without playing spoiler, it pays to pay attention to shiny things and buttons. As already noted, exploration is the name of the game, and there are several mechanical solutions that become apparent when sequences are figured out.

It comes together quite well. It doesn’t deviate too far from the source ports, and the puzzles do provide a good deal of challenge. The combination of artwork and fantasy tales work well together, and the narrative is pretty decent. There are achievements to garner, and the game even packs an onboard guide (psst: if you get stuck, there are walkthroughs online. I think).

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Still, those controls probably could be tweaked a bit, and the unilateral nature of solving puzzles might be a bit of a drag.

Nontheless, this is a fun one. It is very easy to get into, and the relaxing nature of the game is a great draw.

Tap Titans 2 Review

Tap Titans 2 Review

Jan 30, 2017

Another clicker game? Why do I do this to myself? Good clicker games will simply hook into the part of the brain that creates habits and will keep you playing even if you don’t want to. Bad clicker games are beyond dull and offer no gameplay whatsoever. There’s no way to win when clicker games are involved.

Except – this time it’s different. Honest. This time I’m playing Tap Titans 2 and this time the game is really… good? Who am I kidding? Tap Titans 2 is good in the same way that a Big Mac* is good. You know it’s bad for you but damn it’s tasty.

What makes Tap Titans 2 so tasty? Well, for a start, it’s absolutely loaded with carrots. They’re dangling everywhere you look and there’s just so much to unlock. There’s a daily login bonus, there’s tons of ‘allies’ to unlock, upgrade and each of them has skills to unlock, there’s items to find and equip, there’s artifacts to unlock, there’s skills to learn there’s…unnamed-31

There’s a lot going on and it would be easy for Tap Titans 2 to fail in expressing what everything does. It doesn’t fail and in fact one of the strengths of Tap Titans 2 is the fact that it’s so easy to see what’s happening with each tap and with each unlock. Some unlocks make your taps stronger, some will make monsters drop more gold, some will boost your allies’ strength and it’s simple to figure out. Bottom line is that whilst you have the app open and you’re tapping away, you’re never more than a couple of seconds away from being able to unlock, upgrade or equip something new.

The gameplay itself is nothing special. It is, after all, a clicker game. All of these unlocks and abilities do nothing more than make small numbers turn into bigger numbers. You start off earning 100 gold for each kill but soon earn 100 million. You begin doing 1 damage per tap and quickly start doing 1 trillion.

But it’s all done so well. The graphics are sharp and characters are well animated. There’s tons of content, with lots of different enemy types and locations to work through and at the heart of it all there’s just an unforgiving number of ‘hooks’. Hooks that keep you playing, hooks that convince you to open up the app every day and hooks that make you want to get to the next level. I’ve not even mentioned the fact you can join clans.

Tap Titans 2 isn’t a great game but it is an outstanding clicker. It will reward you for doing nothing more than tapping mindlessly at your phone. But boy do those rewards feel good.

*This only makes sense if you enjoy a Big Mac from time to time. Insert your own junk food / guilty pleasure here


Imprint-X Review

Imprint-X Review

Jan 30, 2017

We were probably more eager than usual to finally be able to play imprint-X, a new game from Morgondag; with its recent release we finally got our chance.

The artwork is exceptionally zany, borderline ethereal. It uses a lot of dark backgrounds with delicate pastels, and this backdrop allows the depiction of the core machine-ish objects to really stand out.

The gameplay backstory is a geek’s dream, if a bit busy. Bad nanobots called wardens are hurting people, and the player takes on the persona of a “hacker clones” that can free infected brains; this then boils down to solving puzzles in real life.

The intro cutscenes are long and creative. It might not really help with eventual gameplay, but this sequence is a nice touch. With regards to controls, it’s mostly about tapping.

And gameplay? It’s leveled, and it begins with the presentation of a sequence puzzle. Most levels begin with an interesting looking structure with buttons. Now, the idea is to figure out the correct sequence to free the mind. When one level is solved, another is open.

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The puzzles start out pretty easy, but as one goes on, they do get more challenging, and even a bit more engaging. Now, memory really plays a part with regards with potential success, because if one hits the wrong button, one has to backtrack and remember the previous button presses while finding a new series to press. Keep your eye on the prize; those light flashes run quick!

And it is isn’t just a monotonous set of button presses; there are interesting sets that test reaction time as well. Nifty.

The game has a sedate feel to it, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea; the somewhat slow beginning and amorphous intro are, well, different. Going in further does fulfill a lot of the game’s promise, and there are a lot of brain and dexterity teasers to keep one busy for some time.

Overtake Review

Overtake Review

Jan 30, 2017

I’m all for simplicity. I’m always impressed when a game can be fun and engaging when all it asks you to do it tap on the screen, learn one or two rules and doesn’t require you to play an hour long tutorial.

In this regard, I suppose, Overtake : Car Traffic Racing is something of a success. It’s blindingly simple. You are a car, you go forward and you try not to crash into other cars. Simple.

This is about as far as I can when trying to praise this game. The simplicity on offer is then let down by pretty much everything else. Firstly, the controls. At the start of each run you get to choose if you want to tile your phone to steer or if you want on-screen buttons. Whilst playing the game I found neither particularly responsive enough to avoid the oncoming traffic, which led to collisions.

Collisions are awful. Instead of looking like tons of metal colliding into one another it instead resembles two dry sponges bouncing off each other. Often a collision won’t be enough to end your run, as the run only finished when your car’s health gauge reaches zero. This means that the collision has now pointed you in the wrong direction, leaving you to right yourself using the previously mentioned awful turning mechanics.

Maybe I’m just not good at the game? Maybe I need to unlock a better car? Maybe you’re right. What isn’t right is the way the game locks everything behind paywalls or asks you to grind for hours to unlock anything. New cars and new tracks will take an absolute age to work towards and their IAP prices are pretty tough to swallow.

Add to the mix the fact you have randomly appearing adverts. After some runs, an advert will fill the screen. After some returns to the main menu and advert will fill the screen. You get no rewards for these adverts and they’re intrusive.

And that’s pretty much all there is to the game. There’s 3 ‘modes’, but they just alter the direction of the traffic you’re driving past. The game is nothing more than a series of dodging challenges but with some bad steering controls. There’s different tracks to race on but they don’t change the game in any meaningful way.

Overtake is boring, controls badly and offers no variation to its poor gameplay. It looks quite nice, I suppose, with some well modeled 3D cars. That’s about the nicest thing I can say about Overtake. It has some nice car models. Avoid it.


Star Wars: Force Arena Review

Star Wars: Force Arena Review

Jan 29, 2017

If truth be told, when something has the “Star Wars” tag, folks pay attention. Hey, I am not here to question that, because I am at the head of the herd. Return of the Jedi is the first movie I fell in love with.

One of the latest imprints on Google Play, Star Wars: Force Arena cries out to be handled, and that is truly hard to resist.

Launching the game brings the artwork to bear, allowing players to behold characters and environments from the expanded Star Wars universe. Main characters pack the appropriate weapons, and different factions have appropriate henchmen.

The tutorial is hands-on, and given one the basics of combat and card usage.

Now, the action does get interesting, especially the 1v1. Using the aforementioned cards and the hero selected, one gets to go head-to-head against an enemy group led my an opposite leader character. As in the training sequences, the core gameplay involves taking on the enemy (and his/her) crew in a virtual capture — or, more accurately, destroy — the enemy’s flag.

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So, say one selects Luke Skywalker as one’s standard bearer… one also gets a selection of cards that represent troops and firepower one can call on to win the battle. Then, fight on and take out the enemy’s main installation first.

Now, the strategy required is what makes the game interesting. One has to account for regeneration of leader, recharging of special weapon, and all sorts of elements with regards to rebuffing attacks and getting to the promised land to do damage.

Doing well yields rewards like XP gold and decks; beyond 1v1 and training, there is also 2v2 and a team-up mode. Guilds are available to join when one gets to Level 3; there are achievements too, but there is an energy requirement. Real money can be used to expedite processes.

Golf Clash Review

Golf Clash Review

Jan 29, 2017

You just might fall in love with Golf Clash.

For a host of reasons.

Visually, it employs a cheery type of outlay; quite green, really, with fun use of familiar icons and related imagery to help outline the gameplay. It gets played in portrait orientation, and this is a great design decision. The gameplay feels realistic, and this is at least partly because of the graphics.

The controls are easy to understand and utilize; here, we get to use gestures and a direction mechanism gc3to make things happen, plus accompanying taps.

The gameplay comes in two flavors: play with friends, and a PvP option that allows folks to take on other random players via the game’s servers. Of course, we dived right into the latter. With the help of the tutorial, it is easy to get going: there is a ball, and using the aforementioned controls, the idea is obvious, get the ball into the whole in less strokes than the opponent.

Now, the game has a few engaging elements up its sleeve. One is how the PvP works. See, as the turns alternate, each player gets to see the challenger’s prep actions in real time, and this is a nice twist. It adds a bit of exhilaration to actively hope for an errant tap on that, say, final putt shot to force a tie. Of course, it can help to copy a successful shot too.

Another nice thingie is the tie breaker. It’s a sudden death affair, with a single shot for each competitor: whoever comes closest to the cup after that round wins.

Winning yields goodies like gold coin and treasure chests.

The game also has a host of upgrade paths, as well as leaderboards. The former gives players to enhance equipment to make the game easier. One doesn’t need real cash per se, but it really does expedite processes.

It’s surprisingly addictive, and easily spans age groups. Here’s one where anyone can be threat.

It just takes practice.