This Is Not A Test Review

This Is Not A Test Review

Mar 18, 2015

This Is Not A Test tells the story of a man’s attempts to survive a chemical weapon attack on his country. With just a truck, a few skills and a gun they must work their way through a variety of harrowing situations to survive the disaster. Or not survive as the case will likely be.

This Is Not a Test is all about choice. There are multiple ways to handle a situation. What items and skills your character has always affects what options there are. For example if you’re in your truck and gas is entering you can tape up your cars air vents to protect yourself, if you have duct tape or simply skilfully weave though the gas cloud to avoid it, if you have driving skill. Violence is much easier and indeed often only survivable if you have brawling or marksmanship skills as well.

Screenshot_2015-03-05-12-27-17TINT however isn’t that well written. Characters you meet are boring and one dimensional, there is minimal dialogue and what’s there is dull. The story just lacks tone and the desolate feeling that better visual novels like Overlive have. Interesting details are few and far between and there is just little payoff for reading it. Go ahead, shoot everyone you meet. You sure won’t feel bad about it. Some of the endings are ridiculous as well. Like the one where the military simply allows you to starve to death. Or be crushed. Are they the world’s most inept soldiers?

Speaking of feeling bad, death happens often in TINT. The story is quite short, a lot of the endings are bad and you die often unless you had the foresight to grab certain items. There are checkpoints and the game is short enough that restarting isn’t a huge bother. The game keeps track of what endings you’ve seen including ones where you die so it’s fun to try to find new and creative ways to kill yourself which isn’t something that often happens in a game.

Screenshot_2015-03-05-12-48-40This is Not a Test unfortunately features ads. While you’re working your way through the story and trying to immerse yourself in the world an ad banner is flashing away at the top of the screen. The ad isn’t even static; it is constantly moving and changing, trying to get your attention which is a superb way to distract someone when they’re trying to read. Removing the ad is part of the game’s solitary IAP, which is a $2.50 fee to remove ads as well as display color artwork rather than black and white. This is totally worth the cost.

Some of the endings in TINT make no sense at all. For example in one ending you’re trapped in a house that fills with gas, suffocating you. The problem with this is that I had already picked up a gas mask early in the game and had it with me still. Apparently, my character just decided to not use the gas mask he bought hours beforehand. There was no option to use it either. What the?

This Is Not a Test is worth a read, but it is nowhere near as good as a far more advanced game like Overlive and the writing and logic leave much to be deserved. Still, it’s certainly not a bad romp.

Ice Hockey 3d Review

Ice Hockey 3d Review

Mar 17, 2015

Ice Hockey is a really under represented genre on Android. While there are penalty shootouts, management sims and even flight simulators, plain hockey is hard to come by. Finally, Ice Hockey 3D comes along to scratch that goal scoring itch.

The funniest part of Ice Hockey 3D is the team names. With bizarre parodies of real teams like the Flamingos and my favorite the Violent Bears this is difficulty not an officially licensed game!

Screenshot_2015-03-03-04-12-18Once you’re on the ice, Ice Hockey 3D is a very traditional hockey games. Rather than silly penalty shootouts or the like Ice Hockey 3d is simply a full game of hockey, as you skate around the rink trying to score a goal. This isn’t that well executed however. The controls feel rather loose and it can be difficult skating accurately to clean up loose pucks or aim a shot. The virtual stick doesn’t feel precise enough and the lack of physical buttons seems to affect this sport more than most.

The AI is really poor, particularly for teammates. They routinely skate right past loose pucks, make no real attempt at defence and never seem to check opponents. Speaking of checking, the check button doesn’t seem to work at all. Brushing up against opponents and mashing the check button doesn’t seem to do anything. The only real way to take the puck from the opposition is to intercept a pass or steal it.

The player control switch is also annoying. It often switches you to a player who is useless for the current situation or not the one closest to the puck. This is very frustrating and since the teammate AI is so useless it makes defence way harder than it would otherwise be.

Screenshot_2015-03-05-08-10-35As well as normal Hockey, Ice Hockey 3D features Air Hockey. This is a very basic take on the classic game, but it works well and the AI is quite smart compared to the main game. It can be played by two players as well.

The game is festooned with F2P elements. Coins that are earned by winning games an logging in on consecutive days can be spent on boosting player stats, it is unclear whenever boosting stats only affects players that the player controls or their whole team but these stats boosts really make a big difference., It is very tough to score goals without boosting your shooting skill and speed is vital to attacking effectively. A large amount of currency is handed out when the player first loads the game but this is quickly spent and winning games to earn more is quite difficult. This F2P isn’t very satisfying and makes it unclear is player skill or simply unbalanced stats come into play more.

Ice Hockey 3D is a somewhat decent, but flawed take on Ice Hockey. Still there aren’t many pure hockey games on Android, so if you can live with useless teammates it could be worth “checking” out.

Puller Review

Puller Review

Mar 16, 2015

Puller is a pretty unique game. Players take control of a little explorer with a natty little hard hat who must make his way out of an increasingly difficult series of “Wells” which are large, mine shaft like holes full of danger. Tapping a button makes your intrepid explorer climb and another button allows him to sway left or right. Swaying is important, as each shaft is full of falling rocks, spitting enemies and other hazards that are best avoided, as well as ledges that need to be swung around. Of course swaying too much can cause your man to swing into other dangers.

Picture 7Screenshot_2015-03-01-01-16-43.pngToo many hits and he falls to his doom and you must restart the level. Each level is full of coins that entice the player to sway their way over to them, often leaving them wide open for a nice rock to the head or an unfriendly encounter with a spitting worm. Reaching the top of the hole more or less intact completes the level and awards 1-3 stars. Completing a level with minimal damage tends to award more stars as does collecting coins.

Puller is a good bit of fun. The game keeps adding new hazards and the gameplay is interesting and unique.

Picture 8Screenshot_2015-03-01-01-17-56.pngCoins can be spent on various upgrades, such as magnets to attract coins to you or gloves to climb faster. These can only be used once however. Of course coins can be bought with real cash but there is little need to.

Puller looks pretty nice. Its simple 2D graphics are incredibly detailed and it’s very easy to see what’s happening. The game helpfully zooms in as you navigate hazards to aid you in seeing what’s going on and in general has a nice, warm look. The sound is well done as well there are plenty of sound cues to alert you of things like falling rocks and the sound effects get the job done. The music is relaxing and suits the game well too. The only bad part of the game is its horribly ugly app icon. Eep!

Puller is a good bit of fun and available for free. With fun gameplay, no nasty ads and good presentation Puller is worth playing.

Stick Squad 2 Review

Stick Squad 2 Review

Mar 13, 2015

Stick Squad 2 is another entry in the well-worn sniper genre on Android Is it worth a shot?

As for the actual gameplay Stick Squad 2 provides some pretty good sniping action. A simple control system lets you pan around the scope with a finger and there are buttons for fire and reload, although the reload button for whatever reason is very small. The rifle you use in Stick Squad 2 has a very small magazine so it’s important to a make your shots count. Head shots of course are instantly fatal while sloppy body shots usually requires multiple hits to kill enemies.

Screenshot_2015-02-27-18-48-34Only a few missions are unlocked at once and these must be completed to unlock more. Completing a mission awards a rating and three star rating are worth much more cash. Missing even one shot usually ends any chance of a three star rating, so like real sniping this game is all about precision. The missions vary wildly in fun and challenge. For every fun snipe fest with enemies there is another mission that is dull as dishwater, such as a target shooting mission. Blowing off heads is fun, but shooting static targets isn’t so much. These target shoots take place in the same levels as those used for enemies as well, so they really feel like filler.

Stick Squad 2 features an upgrade system for its guns. Coins earned in gameplay can be spent on weapons upgrades. These get expensive in a hurry but good play awards plenty of coins.

Graphically, Stick Squad 2 is slick. Unsurprisingly the game features plenty of stick figures yelling at each other and amusing/terrible voice acting. There is plenty of blood and good death animations and targets are easy enough to make out.

Stick Squad 2 is a fun game and since its free it’s worth a download for some head explody action.

Square Haste Review

Square Haste Review

Mar 6, 2015

Looking at Square Haste’s screenshots in the Play Store might make you wonder if it is indeed a game at all what with its blocky screenshots and complete lack of anything resembling graphics. More venerable gamers might think it an Atari 2600 emulator. The nostalgia is hard with this one.

Screenshot_2015-03-02-07-45-45As game concepts go Square Haste has about the simplest possible. Players control a square that moves along a simple retro styled course. The course is punctured with gate like ledges and running into these ends the game. Tapping the screen causes the square to mysteriously jump in the air and another tap sends it shooting forward, hopefully right through the gate. The trick is to time your jump and dash so that the square is at the right height to make it through each gate. As the player gets further without making a mistake the game gets faster and gates become narrower.

Square Haste is very basic indeed but it is strangely addictive, and the idea is unique. It also has that just-one-more-go extreme difficulty that games like Flappy Bird often have. A disappointment however is the lack of achievements. There are online leaderboards at least.

Square Haste has a few ads. These pop up now and then after games and there is also a banner ad on the game over screen. There are thankfully no ads during gameplay. A small fee removes these ads.

Screenshot_2015-03-02-07-44-16Visually, Square Haste is about as basic as a game can be. Flat, clean retro graphics abound with strong colors and basic shapes. The game even has an “attract” mode where it cycles colors just like an old Atari 2600 game! Indeed anyone who has played 2600 games like Surround will likely feel nostalgic. Pumping 8 bit tunes accompany the stylish graphics and suit the game well.

Square Haste is a simple, fun game with a great retro style and some addictive gameplay. It’s worth a play and fans of older game consoles will likely get an extra kick out of it.

No Hero – Renaissance Review

No Hero – Renaissance Review

Mar 3, 2015

No Hero – Renaissance appears to be a modern take on classic Prince of Persia games and curious demonic storytelling.

No Hero – Renaissance casts the player as an average kid who one day wakes up at the foot of an abyss full of fiendish platforms, spikes and traps and must find his way out of the hellish place. The story seems to try to explain highbrow ideas about survival and whatnot, but some poor translation and strange word choices make it stilted and rather incoherent.

Screenshot_2015-02-26-22-37-37Unlike most platform heroes, this unnamed protagonist steers about as well as a bus. Every action has inertia and jumping is very awkward. Rather than jumping on the spot, the kid must get a run-up first and even then it is hit or miss if he will actually jump or not. Simply moving around is a chore. The movement buttons are a simple set of split left/right buttons that are needlessly hard to tap on and use. A virtual stick would have been infinitely more usable.

No Hero – Renaissance is a frustrating game because of its controls. The game is entirely vertical, so one tiny mistake can see the player plummeting back to the bottom of the level. The simplest actions, such as running away from rolling boulders or jumping over spikes are rendered difficult due to the awful controls. There is just no excuse for this in 2015. Indeed, I could barely get anywhere in the game.

No Hero – Renaissance just isn’t fun. Bereft of humour or interest, there is just no spark to its gameplay. There is nothing to keep the player playing and the game just has no life in it. It lacks that hook that makes it an interesting game.

At least the game features multiple modes. The main mode of the game is History. This is the “story” mode of the game where the player must make their way through increasingly harder levels. Along the way there are books and other items to be found that apparently fill in the blanks and let the player piece together the nature of the world they are in and how they can escape. The other mode is Survival. This one is completely procedurally generated, so it offers a new random challenge each time. This adds a bit of longevity.

Despite No Hero – Renaissance’s glowing app description and old school leanings, it is little more than a deeply flawed game with very poor controls, frustrating gameplay and no fun to be found whatsoever. Best avoided.

Checkpoint Champion gets major update!

Checkpoint Champion gets major update!

Feb 27, 2015

Checkpoint Champion, a addictive little driving game recently reviewed on AR by yours truly has received a major update. Included in the update is a new set of icy stages full of slidey fun, a new car, lots of new challenges and more. This makes a already great game even better.

The list of new features, direct from the app page:

What’s New
If you are experiencing crashes, please disable any ad-block software.
– Features 24 brand new challenges!
– Ice and Snow terrain!
– With a surprise mix of checkpoints!
NEW CAR! – Britannia Micro
– Features a slower turning speed – great for beginners!
– 7 shiny new paint jobs to unlock!
– Added immersive mode.
– Added an Event of the Day star counter.
– Improved performance on slower devices!
– Various small bug fixes and improvements.

Robocop Review

Robocop Review

Feb 23, 2015

Poor old Robocop has had a bit of a curse when it comes to licensed products, particularity on the video gaming front. Does Glu capture what it means to be a nigh invinceable steel titan?

screenshot_2014-01-15-16-46-24Robocop’s gameplay is a bit like a dumbed down third person shooter. Hiding behind cover the player must pop out and spray down enemies that constantly filter into the area in front of them. Like any shooter timing your shots and taking cover from enemy fire is important. The player also must change cover shots to avoid sniper fire. A “scan” function can pinpoint weak points on enemies. Weak points either kill enemies nearly instantly when hit or disarm them. Disarming enemies allows you to arrest them which earns bonus resources.

There is nothing wrong with Robocop’s gameplay. It is however kind of repetitive and the shooting action lacks any visceral impact. Enemies kind of fall over silently and your guns just don’t feel punchy. Fighting robot enemies is more fun since they explode when they die and come for you relentlessly.

Robocop features a familiar strengthening system where resources can be spent on boosting Robocop’s stats. Most of these upgrades are really minuscule, such as adding 1 health point or slight, slight increasing damage. The really annoying part of this is that periodically though the upgrade tree the player must spend large amounts of resources on Breakout nodes that unlock new breaches of abilities. These are quite common and have a chance to fail to unlock, wasting the resources you spent. This all but forces players to spend large amounts of their other resources to avoid the chance of the upgrade outright failing and wasting their stuff. This is a terrible idea.

Screenshot_2015-02-18-15-57-29Freemium is well and truly in play in Robocop. Weapons cost so much money in game that it will take months of play to afford even the weakest ones. For example, a basic shotgun costs about 3000 gold. That much money in in app purchases is $20. For one virtual weapon. One of the biggest insults is the constant begging to watch a video for currency. Watching a video awards one gold. One. Robocop is playable without spending money in a basic way, but if you want any cool weapons expect to pay and pay a lot

Robocop has more popups than any game I can quickly think of. It is needier than any girlfriend. Between levels there is an ad for another game that can’t be dismissed for a few seconds, another popup suggesting you buy a first aid kit or whatever, other ones telling you that you have enough resources for an upgrade and ones begging you to watch videos for extremely small amounts of resources. It also insists on constantly sending notifications. The sheer amount of interruptions makes playing Robocop infuriating.

Robocop is a somewhat playable but very annoying shooter with too many popups, ridiculous in app purchases and gameplay that gets dull rather quickly. It’s worth a look for fans.

Samsung Ultimate Accessory Pack Review

Samsung Ultimate Accessory Pack Review

Feb 16, 2015

Ah the fun of buying new a smartphone! It’s always great having a brand new device to fiddle with, play games on or just enjoy using, especially if it’s a behemoth like the amazing new Note 4. However, a new phone means having to buy a new raft of accessories. Luckily, our friends at Mobilefun have a useful bundle of vital accessories available to get new owners of Samsung’s phablet up and running.

Billed as the Ultimate Note 4 Accessory Pack, this kit contains everything that a new smartphone owner might need.

First is the ever useful Micro Suction Desk Stand. This is a universal stand that will work with any phone model. It is a small, easily portable stand with a micro suction pad that sticks instantly to any phone. Using it is as simple as pushing the phone firmly onto the pad. Mobilefun have managed to do this in such a way that the sticky pad does not feel sticky at all to the touch and does not leave any nasty sticky residue on your device. The connection between the phone and the stand is very strong too; shaking the stand around will not dislodge the phone and you can rest assured that it will not fall or slide off. The stand even includes a plastic plate that can be stuck to the stand. This allows phones without flat backs, such as those in cases to be used with the stand without having to remove the phone from the case. This is a really nice feature.

Next is the Universal In Car Mount. This is a very important item for most any mobile phone owner. It sticks securely to the dash of your car and allows a clear view of your phone for actions like GPS and voice replies to SMS. The holder’s arms support any phone from the gigantic Note 4 to smaller iPhones. The suction cup uses a unique twist-lock mechanism that causes the device to stick fast to glass. It also includes an adhesive pad that allows it to stick to other surfaces like plastic.

I found this a bit problematic however. I tested this by sticking the phone to my fridge. After about half a minute the phone holder itself came away from the suction part and my phone ended up on the floor. The second item I tried, the suction cup failed and the entire holder ended up on the floor. While a great idea and very simple to use, I would not trust this device with very heavy phones.

Next is the Universal Car Charger. This is a familiar charger than plugs into your cigarette lighter and charges your phone. The device also includes an additional USB port to allow charging of two devices at once. This is very good.

There is also a smaller mini desk stand/desk stylus included. This is small enough to fit in a wallet and is very useful.

Also included is a basic Perspex case. It only covers the back of the phone, but it feels solid and does the job. 5 screen protectors are also included.

All up the Samsung Note 4 Ultimate Accessory Pack is a solid pack of useful items. The stand and the car charger work great and the case and screen protectors are a good starter set, although the car holder is a bit unreliable. For $30.99 its a bargain. Recommended!

Thanks to our friends at Mobilezap for providing the items for this review.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall Review

Shadowrun: Dragonfall Review

Feb 13, 2015

Shadowrun: Dragonfall starts off great. Players are offered a bewildering array of skills and races to choose from. All of them are clearly described and it is really possible to make just about any character you like. Rifle toting elven dignitaries, dwarf computer hackers and troll mages are more than possible.

Screenshot_2015-02-03-05-26-23Shadowrun: Dragonfall is a tactical RPG. Combat is all about good positioning and flanking attacks, using cover and picking off enemies smartly. Using your party to support each other is essential and running in guns blazing will result in death in record time. The game is difficult and fans of X-com or other rock hard tactical games should settle in for a long tough campaign full of exciting tactical gameplay.

A robust help system also teaches gameplay concepts in a fast and simple way. The game’s branching dialogue system is loads of fun and the game is very well written with lots of funny moments and character nuances. The game has a real magic vs tech feel to it as guns exist alongside mages and totem sprits. Shadowrun’s world is vibrant.

Unfortunately, nearly every other aspect of Shadowrun: Dragonfall on Android besides the character creation and story is a dismal failure.

Screenshot_2015-02-03-05-01-37Even on the biggest phones on the market, like the Note 4, Shadowrun is the definition of unplayable. Fonts are completely unreadable. Interface icons are so tiny it’s difficult to press the one you meant to and characters and enemies alike are indistinct, vague shapes on the large 5.7in screen. There is no excuse for this whatsoever. There isn’t even a zoom control. X-com Enemy Unknown, a simular (much older) game managed to be playable even on the smaller S4 and it is even better on the Note 4. The sheer smallness of everything in Shadowrun makes it impossible to see what skills do, let alone coordinate combat in a meaningful manner.

Things don’t improve very much when output to a big screen either. There is still no zoom control and you still need to use your phone to control the game’s tiny, tiny interface.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall looks poor. The game looks a year or two old and the muddy textures, flat colour palette and microscopic size of everything make it a dull looking game to say the least. The game is also extremely laggy. It takes multiple attempts to get taps to register and movement feels very stilted. The sound is very flat. Unexciting gunfire and quiet, subdued spell effects add no atmosphere to the game at all.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall takes a great PC game with a great story, impressive writing, fascinating skill trees and interesting tactical gameplay and ruins it with zero mobile optimization, appalling performance problems and one of the worst interfaces seen in an Android game in recent memory. By all means buy it for PC, but stay far, far away from this unplayable port.

Huge Monster Dash Update Adds Ghostbuster and New York Backdrop

Huge Monster Dash Update Adds Ghostbuster and New York Backdrop

Feb 12, 2015

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the legendary movie Ghostbusters Halfbrick and Sony Pictures have teamed up in a huge update to the popular game Monster Dash. The update adds Peter Venkman himself to the game, a perfect fit. Also included is a New York backdrop for Venkman to do his busting in and a new weekly event called Who you Gonna Call on Wednesdays and Saturdays! The daily event of course includes Slimer which Venkman can bust with the new proton pack weapon, for maximum retro cool.

Venkman is only playable in the daily event unless players spend money on an In App Purchase, but this is more than reasonable considering the raft of new content. Download Monster Dash and get bustin’ today!

Grand Ride NXG Review

Grand Ride NXG Review

Feb 11, 2015

Grand Ride NXG plays a bit like the well-known classic Spyhunter. Taking control is a well-armed motorbike the player powers their way up the road blasting suspicious looking cars and grabbing powerups to blast more cars. The poorly translated plot mentions something about an invasion and racing to a border but the game is little more than shooting and driving.

Screenshot_2015-02-08-13-13-24Unfortunately this isn’t very interesting. Bullets don’t seem to damage your vehicular enemies so rather than blasting everything the game is more about dodging cars until you happen to find a bomb power-up then destroying everything around you with a smart bomb like explosion. Then the cycle repeats. There are no other power-up or weapons.

Grand Ride NXG looks very unpolished. It looks quite poor to the point where it is difficult to tell what things are. The player’s bike barely animates and the bullets it fires are barely even visible, making it difficult to aim.

Screenshot_2015-02-08-10-55-59Even more glaringly, the game is very buggy. Text routinely fails to line up with windows which make it impossible to read. The game often continues to play sounds even when the player switches away from it or exits it until the phone is rebooted. Most text is full of typos. As said above It also seems to be impossible to blow up enemies. Shooting at them seems to do nothing. Fortunately, enemy guns are just as useless; their shots seem to almost never hit the player no matter where they are. This renders the game completely pointless. The only way to blow up enemies is with the occasional bomb.

Grand Ride NXG is also festooned with ads. When the game is launched it begins with a full screen ad with a “click to play” button. As soon as the game loads another ad appears. After every game another ad appears that must be dismissed.

Grand Ride NXG is a poorly made game that is no fun to play. It just lacks any spark. Players expecting Spyhunter mobile will be very disappointed with Grand Ride NXG.