Sunburn! Review

Sunburn! Review

May 26, 2015

We’ve waited for a while for Sunburn!, and with good reason; early clips of the gameplay hearkened to something fun and engaging. Now that it’s out, we have the perfect occasion to check it out.

Graphically, it’s a fun, retro-feeling trip, with old-school characterizations and purposely stilted animations. It incorporates the use of color effectively, as in the visual representation of the target sun. The backdrop is dark, and the sound effectively carries along the gameplay.

The backstory for this one leans a tad towards the macabre; faced with the somber surety of inevitable demise, a space captain that is stranded in space without a ship decides to retrieve his scattered crew and use the suns gravity to assist the party in diving into it one last blaze of glory. Contact with a crew mate allows that person to attach to a hitch of sorts, and then launching the whole convoy at the sun successfully clears the level.

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Movement is fairly easy, and is mostly explained in the in-game tutorial. As the planets are depicted in 2D fashion, one can use either side to achieve walking in either direction along the circumference; this allows the player to pick up any stragglers, and also allows one to sharpen up the launch point. Double-tapping and holding primes up the jumper, and releasing launches the player’s person. There is an oxygen meter that shows the player how much float time is left (it replenishes if and when the player lands on a space rock of some kind).

As it progresses, it becomes a series of procedural puzzles which force the player to figure out how to collect the stranded space folks and make it into the sun. At times, the player might have to jump from one planetary object to another; navigating this can be a challenge. There are different types of obstacles to get around, and even a shooting star or two to dodge.

The puzzles and the graphics work well together, and the overall simplicity give it a boost that make this premium title worth checking out.

Plancon: Space Conflict Review

Plancon: Space Conflict Review

May 26, 2015


Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don’t care, I’m still free
You can’t take the sky from me.

If you’re a fan of Serenity, those lyrics will make sense almost immediately. The criminally short-lived series would probably find a kindred spirit in HeroCraft’s new caper Plancon: Space Conflict. In this one, space exploration is the name of the game, ut with an added twist: invading aliens.

The action starts with an in-game tutorial; it is a bit of a slow going, almost ploddingly so, but, as gameplay further on underscored, it is important to understand the basics. The player takes on the persona of an adventurer in a future world where extended space travel is possible and commonplace. The game leads one through the basics of interplanetary travel, which is effected by tapping and double-tapping. There is also the collection of valuable materials, and simple combat. One is also introduced to the commerce system, which is probably the most intricate aspect of the game.

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With this, one can pick up missions to earn payment in cash or kinds. Taking such missions usually entails overcoming a hazard or so, and it is pertinent to note that valuable resources are logically expended during missions. The payouts and/or goods procured can be used to get better machinery and gear. One big thing that continually needs to be improved is the ship itself, as the one the player is initially gifted with is barebones in nature

So, in a nutshell is brings a lot of RPG elements and ties them into a space cowboy narrative. The missions help the player to gain the resources needed to maintain and improve gear. Then, by assembling a crew to go with what one hopes will be an able battle cruiser, it is possible to go toe-toe with the Earth-hating enemies.

The game works well because of its variety. There are several things to do, and several paths to take. From recruiting to space dogfights, there is plenty to wet one’s beak in. The graphics are a bit gentle, and the action sequences took some getting used to, but all in all, the game calls to the space cowboy in all of us.

I think Nate Fillion would be at home with this one.

MORTAL KOMBAT X Review

MORTAL KOMBAT X Review

May 21, 2015

Simply put, it’s Mortal Kombat X. Enough said.

There are two modes, Battle and Faction Wars, with a new one — Raiden Challenge — coming soon. It unfolds in a fairly logical manner; in the base form, one has a set of three fighters, and takes on three enemy fighters in a war of attrition. In Battle Mode (where I spent most of my time), the 3v3 paradigm is on full display.

The engaging aspect is obviously the stable of MK universe characters to pick from. Yes, originals like Sub-Zero and nemesis Scorpion are here, as are Cage and Kitana. There are some relative newbies too. D’Vorah, to say the least, is creepy. Combat is a matter of battling till the life bars go dry, and the side with a combatant(s) still standing wins the round. Attacking is effected by tapping and swiping, so battling is usually accompanied by a flurry of virtual screen action.

Within this battling system are a few more elements that add some depth. One can switch out fighters on the fly, such that if, in the middle of a match, one can pick another fighter that, say, matches up better with a particular opponent. Finishing a allows for allows one to get to the next, and yeah, there are bosses. Fatalities are present, and winning accrues payouts which can be used to improve individual fighters (an aspect that can be expedited with real cash).

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In Faction Mode, one can go toe-toe with other players online for prizes and leaderboard dominance.

It comes together well. The characterizations are gritty, and even the familiar folks are done up in a fashion that ups the menace factor. The fighting is great, if a bit one-dimensional, and the card elements are not overly pronounced during gameplay. The controls are okay, but still feel like something is missing in translation. That could be due to my console history with the title.

It’s a nice port, definite;y passable, and with enough console tie-ins (reward unlocking, hello?), it’s a great game for franchise fans and future fans alike.

GUNSHIP BATTLE : Helicopter 3D Review

GUNSHIP BATTLE : Helicopter 3D Review

May 19, 2015

GUNSHIP BATTLE : Helicopter 3D almost screams to be played. We gave in.

It’s presented well visually, in that the developer cloaks the gameplay well in eye-pleasing graphics and animations that are quite smooth and mostly reflective of a reasonable degree of realism.

The gameplay is leveled, which makes it easy to get into, and just as easily enjoyed in relatively small chunks. Each section is appropriately called a mission, and one gets to start out with a training mission, which gives one an overview of gameplay generalities. Based on it, it’s easy to glean that the player gets to pilot a helicopter (with a default view from behind) and, using the bank of virtual weapon buttons nestled to the right, the idea is to destroy enemy units, optionally collect all available goodies, and otherwise complete the mission.

Controlling the aircraft is also a function of combining virtual buttons, such that one does get to use both hands to fly and shoot. With some practice, it is possible to get into attack mode by swooping.

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Players have to think defensively as well, as the enemy units are not docile pieces waiting to be taken out; they fire back. As the chopper can take only so much damage, one has to figure out how to fly in a manner that reduces the probability of being struck by enemy fire. It also means one has to strategize a bit: does one focus on the primary objective, or get rid of pesky defensive pieces? Fly by strafing or war of attrition? The options are endless, and lend themselves to fun gameplay. Destroyed installations sometimes yield boosts which can be collected by touch. Missions do evolve over time. SImple smash and run to seaborne dogfights… they all come together quite well.

Success yields payouts, which can (and almost must) be used to upgrade the chopper to more effective ones. There is an interesting black market feature that allows users to get some interesting attributes too. Real cash can be used to make things go a lot faster.

My biggest comma were the controls. It took me longer than I’d like to get comfortable with them, but to be fair, the developer does provide several different option sets so that folks can tailor flying to their own needs.

In the end, it’s a fun game with plenty of elements that can be appreciated by all types of players.

Prison Break Review

Prison Break Review

May 18, 2015

Prison Break is an interesting game that has a simple, enjoyable premise: figure out a way.

Out, that is.

It works as a still frame puzzler; one is presented with a scene, and the basic idea is to utilize objects and clues to advance out of the room. Several objects can be interacted with — read, collected, utilized and such — to help solve procedural stumblers that otherwise halt progress.

To be more specific, the opening scene helps frame the gameplay. It starts with a disheveled prison cell, and a few loose objects — the backstory is that the player has been left to die in an abandoned prison. Tapping on objects reveal if they are useful or not, and objects that can be added to the inventory are placed there. Typically, there are several things to investigate, and there are even objects that can be moved to reveal hidden things, with the immediate objective to make it out of the room one is currently in. When that is accomplished, one basically does the same in the subsequent room, and so on, until complete escape is effected.

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Thankfully, it’s not necessarily a straight, linear journey. Some objects require the player to travel back to rooms that have already been checked through to use a newly acquired tool. Some solutions require multiple tools used in conjunction. There are plenty of visual red herrings as well, so one is tempted to tap everything in a particular frame.

The game does a decent job of combining more than a single gameplay element while mostly remaining simple. The hand-drawn art is quite becoming. The music was surprising, but can be toggled.

My biggest gripe is the length. The developer should be punished for giving folks such an engaging journey that is, in my opinion, way too short. Just when I was getting warm, it ended, and I want to scream.

All in all, it is a fun romp, worthy of sequels, and at the very least updates.

Please.

Stick Squad 3 – Modern Shooter Review

Stick Squad 3 – Modern Shooter Review

May 18, 2015

At one point in the Internet’s short history, stick figures ruled the World Wide Web. Animated videos showed stick figures performing many activities, most of which involved brutal violence. While stick figures aren’t so popular anymore across the Internet, they have experienced a revival of sorts on mobile games. From playing golf to running endlessly, stick figures seem to be leading active lives.

Stick Squad 3 – Modern Shooter brings takes stick figures back to their violent Internet roots. A squad of sticks must snipe and shoot their way through secret agent-style missions that take place in the U.S. and Spain. Gameplay is bland, but the game manages to capture the humorous spirit of the early Internet stick figures.

Players probably won’t be expecting any production value from a game centered around stick figures, but there is some surprising storytelling involved. Animated cutscenes give players some convoluted context to missions and provide some funny moments, but the dialogue seems like it was written for 13-year-old boys. Voice acting is comically bad, and it’s hard to tell if that was done on purpose. There are also some glitchy moments when mouths move long after the dialogue has completed or is it just not in sync with the words.

Right out of the gate, it is obvious this game was made for the same people who still enjoy the Internet’s brutal animated stick figure videos. It is somewhere between niche and parody, but it could be quite off-putting to those who don’t fall into that niche.

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Gameplay is obviously inspired by games such as Call of Duty and Sniper Elite. Most missions involve sniping specific targets. Players will see the level through a sniper scope, and will have to find and eliminate those targets. This is very simple on early levels, but players will receive more complicated instructions as they progress through the game. For instance, in one early mission, players will have to take out a target but make it appear as an accident by shooting a propane tank on a barbecue grill. In another level that has players carrying a pistol rather than a sniper, the target must be shot without actually killing him.

In addition to instructions becoming more complex, levels also expand and targets get further away. Players will have to find enemy patterns and attempt to view the whole map before taking action, which can be frustrating without the ability to get a complete map view.

Players earn in-game currency by completing missions and performing tasks, which can be used to upgrade weaponry. However, this seems to have little impact during gameplay. Weapons mostly handle the same, and levels can be completed without upgrading firearms.

Gameplay is functional, but it is not very challenging or rewarding. Missions can easily be completed through trial and error, and killing off helpless stick figures just doesn’t provide a sense of accomplishment. Maybe it’s because they’re stick figures, maybe because they can’t fight back, or maybe it’s because the attempt at a plot doesn’t make players feel like they’re really fighting bad guys, something seems eerie about shooting enemies in the head.

Stick Squad 3 – Modern Shooter is mostly just shooting for the sake of shooting, and it is not fun even as a mindless timewaster.

MARVEL Future Fight Review

MARVEL Future Fight Review

May 8, 2015

It’s a Marvel world, and I suspect we all just live in it. MARVEL Future Fight might be proof.

MARVEL Future Fight is part attrition beat-em up, part RPG, and all action. The basic concept is to assemble heroes from the expansive stable of MARVEL characters, good and bad, and to use the resultant collective to prevent destruction. More specifically, Nick Fury calls up for help from the future, letting the whole crew know about collapsing dimensions and such. Scary stuff.

The action is pushed through gameplay tutorials, allowing one to pick a control set and to understand the basics of movement and attack. It is broken into missions, and generally starts with a single Marvel persona roaming through the playing environment and taking on groups of enemies of different abilities in a war of life-bars. Finishing missions brings rewards that can be used to unlock new superheroes, or to take advantage of the RPG mechanism by improving characters.

The game sports an original storyline, and players can do the single-player thing or use the Ally system to beat a particularly irksome boss-villain. There are bonuses to be earned, and each are valuable with regards to acquiring content. And yes, real cash can be used to expedite progress in several facets.

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I do treasure a good back/accompanying story attached to the game — it must be the writer in me — but I do find the surrounding tale, as dispensed by aforementioned dialogue boxes, a bit busy and almost distracting. I can’t complain too hard, because one can skip through these. The intro tutorial is also somewhat discordant, but relatively short.

In the end, it is a freemium game that manages to avoid — mostly — being too naggy. It is a simple beat em up adventure that didn’t deviate too far from its core elements, and that cuts both ways.

Fatal Fury Special Review

Fatal Fury Special Review

Apr 30, 2015

Fatal Fury Special brings nostalgic memories. Those of 16-bit graphics, cheat books, “you died, now my turn” hijinks, and lots and lots of blind adolescent rage. Fatal Fury Special on Google Play helps bring at least one of those things back, and it’s not the cheat books.

Fatal Fury Special is a direct port of an old fighting game that, as far as I remember, never went big in the western world. It doesn’t have the over-the-top violence of Mortal Combat, or over-the-top characters of Street Fighter. What it does have, however, is a solid fighting mechanic, a dozen of varied fighters with unique fighting styles, and a unique mechanic that allows the characters jump back and forth between two “layers” of the level.

There’s not a lot of content to speak about in Fatal Fury Special. There’s a bunch of locations and a bunch of different fighters. There’s a “story” mode that is actually just an arcade mode, in which the player has to defeat several enemy characters in a row, and a newly-implemented Bluetooth Mode, where two players can battle it out on their devices via bluetooth. That’s it. It’s a pretty bare-bones game, but since I got it for $.99, I don’t see any issues with that.

As for the gameplay, it’s almost identical to all of the other SNES and arcade fighting sims. Of course, it’s closest to Street Fatal Fury Special 4Fighter, to the point where some characters look quite a lot like that. There are four attack buttons, a “special” button, and a button that makes the character jump to the different layer of the level. Besides the layer-jumping, which isn’t really that game-changing, it’s exactly like the other arcade fighting games, so it’s no use describing all of its mechanics. Its fun, if you’re a fan of that sort of stuff, but it’s also incredibly difficult. The “beginner” difficulty AI had me plastered on the walls for about 10 fights, before I remembered how to button-mash. Fatal Fury Special is definitely aimed for the hardcore fans, and I’m sure those fans won’t be disappointed.

Overall, Fatal Fury Special is a straight, direct port of the original game, without any changes. Again, fans of the old fighting sims are going to be pleased, but I’m afraid more casual players will find it too punishing. Also, a couple of other things. The button layout and size can be changed in the settings, and I urge you to do that from the beginning, or the game turns into an unplayable hell, as the buttons take almost half of the screen.

Implosion – Never Lose Hope Review

Implosion – Never Lose Hope Review

Apr 30, 2015

Implosion – Never Lose Hope is a hack-n-slash action game that takes place after Earth has been invaded, and subsequently lost to, a weaponized virus that mutates humans into vile, disgusting creatures that kill everyone they see. With the question of how they sustain themselves decades after supposedly killing everyone off being left unanswered, the humans have set to the stars and created off-world colonies, being protected by a special army of special distantly-controlled robots, who are able to fight the creatures without putting anyone at risk of infection. The game follows the adventures of one of the pilots of these mechs, who has to return to Earth, in order to investigate a beacon that went off somewhere inside.

Right from there, Implosion – Never Lose Hope sounds like a high-budget game with an interesting and complex story – and, surprisingly, it is. There are cutscenes, and professional voice acting, and complex gameplay – the game honestly wouldn’t look bad if it was released on PSN tomorrow. But this all comes with a huge “but”. Implosion – Never Lose Hope is merely a trial that expires at several missions in, and requires the purchase of the whole game, which costs 10 bucks. It’s a pretty huge price for a mobile game. This means that even if the game is awesome, you’re left wondering if it’s better to purchase 5 simpler and cheaper games instead. Which is a shame, since Implosion really is a good game, but not on a 10 bucks level good.

Gameplay of Implosion is a pretty standard hack-n-slash, set in the cyberpunkish background. The player’s mech is controlled viaImplosion 2 a virtual stick and a bunch of buttons. It levels up and can be upgraded by installing special libraries that can be found throughout the levels, or purchased from the store. The mech has a main melee weapon, and a bunch of long-range weapons that are quite difficult to aim properly. The melee weapon has a relatively simple, but varied enough combo system, as well as several special abilities that can be activated in the time of need. The enemies are also pretty distinct and have different behavior and attacks, and require some skill to kill – especially if the player wants to get the perfect score after beating the level.

Wrapping up, I’d say that Implosion is a great game. I’m eager to see more of its kind on Play Store, which currently lacks serious triple-A titles. But at the same time, its price makes it comparable to the PC and console-style games – and when viewed in that light, Implosion isn’t exactly up to the level.

Titan Empires Review

Titan Empires Review

Apr 30, 2015

It’s really tempting to copy and paste a review I’ve made of another free-to-play gimp of a strategy game earlier. If the developers can’t bother with making new content and release a copycat game after game, then why should I do that? Oh, right, it’s cause I’m not a completely lazy bastard.

Titan Empires plays just as generic as it’s named. The player controls a warmongering kingdom that goes to war with all the neighboring kingdoms, completing genocide after genocide in an endless chase for gold and glory. Not to hold out my point, Titan Empires is a cheap knock-off of Clash Of Clans. Completely and utterly. Not only that, but it’s a pretty crappy knock-off, too. There’s nothing done better, or even differently, than in that game. It’s an ugly, inbred child of Clash Of Clans, without any quality to it. Still, if you’re interested, here’s a rundown.

The “game” consists of two parts. The first and main part is managing your kingdom. Here, the player has to build his defenses, Titan Empires 3construct resource-gathering mills and mines, and recruit new units. The player has an acre of land that he can fill with various buildings that will bring some value to his kingdom. The buildings can be upgraded to increase their value – of course, all of this eats up resources like crazy, so be prepared to wait for several hours to upgrade anything, later in the game. The second part of Titan Empires is the half-assed strategy, mentioned earlier. The player picks a town he wants to attack – either controlled by AI, or by another player – then selects his hired troops, and a hero that will lead them into battle, then selects where on the map to deploy them, and from then on, watches as they either trample or get trampled on by enemy units. Of course, the outcome of the battle depends mostly on whichever player spent more time and resources – real-life more than in-game – on his army. Different heroes have various abilities that can be activated – at a price, of course – to help the fighting armies, and that’s basically it.

Overall, really, there’s absolutely no reason to ever play Titan Empires. It’s merely another cash-grab that doesn’t even attempt to make itself distinct, both in terms of mechanics, and in quality. If you’re really enjoying this sort of games, just play Clash of Clans instead – better yet, don’t play neither, and spend your time with some better games out there. I’ve played it for an hour, and already feel like my life is wasted.

Blaze for Twitter Review

Blaze for Twitter Review

Apr 29, 2015

Blaze for Twitter is a new-ish option that brings a new way to consume and produce tweets. AS there can never be too many options, we were happy to take a look.

The intro sequence is humble, inviting the user to add a Twitter account. After tokenization and such, one gets an idea of the customization options available, as well as a look a the user interface. It has a clean default look, with definite lines and bold coloring. The layout option which pops up at the beginning gives one a large say with regards to tweaking the exterior. Off the bat, it is possible to adjust the way Blaze handles images, going from full all the way down to thumbnails. After that, the background color — light or dark — can be selected; there is also a theme option, which allows the user to select from several colors.

Beyond that, the app can be set up to be read from the top or bottom, and one can also pick long service to use and the frequency rate. When it’s all said and done, the app does give the user a bunch of options to make it his/her own. The app clearly pays attention the Material Design, and overall, it is a pretty vibrant-looking application.

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On the functionality side, the app incorporates a lot of the tools we’d expect in a microblogging client; one can slide through specialized screens for home, @ replies, direct messages, lists and trending topics. Each tweet in one’s stream can be manipulated individually via small symbols, and again, we get the core tools: reply, retweet, favoriting, muting and sharing. Working on an individual tweets brings even more options, like the ability to make a note or text someone a tweet. Retweeting gives one the option to quote, copy or do a simple retweet (I love the overlay). It is possible to work on one’s profile from within Blaze too.

The cherry on top? Blaze handles multiple Twitter accounts.

There’s not much to dislike; if I am to nitpick, it would be that I would have liked a “shoot-to-the-top” button, such that one can get up quickly. An option to tweet to simultaneously to multiple accounts could be handy on occasion.

All in all, it’s a great option, underscored by the option to use the ad-supported option, or the premium build. Either ay, it’s a client to appreciate, and well worth the risk-free try.

Sorcery! 3 Review

Sorcery! 3 Review

Apr 29, 2015

Sorcery! 3 is a continuation of an adventure game franchise from Steve Jackson, who is kind of a big deal. For those not familiar, Steve Jackson is a US tabletop game designer (not to be confused with Steve Jackson, a UK tabletop game designer – I wish this was a joke), who, among other great things, created a tabletop RPG system GURPS, and the bane of all geek friendships, Munchkin. He is basically neck-deep in the geek world. This should add credibility to the following statement: Sorcery! is one of the best, most immersive games, I’ve ever played.

It’s really difficult to explain Sorcery! 3 to a person that’s never played anything resembling a tabletop role-playing game. Because Sorcery! is basically that. It’s a digital tabletop campaign for one person. It’s not really an RPG in its purest sense, but it certainly feels like it. The player character is on a quest to defeat seven evil serpents that are controlled by a powerful warlock. The player must embark into a land, filled with magic, secrets, and time and space distortions, to find the ways to destroy the serpents – and to find the serpents themselves. The story is as rich and multilayered as one would expect from an RPG campaign, and describing it would take forever, so let’s not bother. Suffice to say, if Sorcery! 3 was a book, its page count would go far into the thousands.

The gameplay of Sorcery! 3 is a weird beast to describe, since it’s a mix of different elements without any anchor in established genres. At its core, it’s a really complex text adventure. But on top of that, you have a unique magic system with a couple of dozen of unique spells, a huge – and I mean, freaking huge – map with hundreds of points of interests, which change based on the circumstances, an endless amount of random encounters, and a whole lot of quests to complete on the way towards the serpents. I can’t describe how much stuff there is in the game. I’ve played it for hours, and I’m still well in the first quarter.

To be fair, while Sorcery! 3 is an incredibly great game, it’s not without some issues. The two biggest ones are the weird magicSorcery! 3 3 system and the weird battle system. The magic system could be made a lot more comfortable by removing the long transition and letter-picking mechanic, boiling it down to a simple list of castable spells. The battle system is just somewhat unintuitive. I’ve played a great number of fights, and still basically go with my instincts, rather than knowledge. The fights could also be a little more varied in terms of gameplay. Reading out the descriptions of the attacks is great, but it could very well be replaced with a more traditional turn-based system.

Overall, Sorcery! 3 is the best mobile game out there for people who like tabletop RPGs. If the thought of reading for an hour about how your character navigates through a magical forest, makes you dizzy, then it’s probably not the game for you. But, if you’re one of those people who want to try out a great tabletop RPG, but never seem to have the time, or people for that, then spending five bucks on Sorcery! is a no-brainer.