Traffic Surf Review

Traffic Surf Review

Nov 26, 2014

There is something to be said for indie games. Often some of the most unique untried game ideas come from some enterprising unknown developer and a small team of passionate individuals. Traffic Surf however falls firmly in the amateur side rather than the indie side.

Screenshot_2014-11-24-13-40-25Playing Traffic Surf is a dull experience. Controlling a slow car, the player drives up a straight road and must overtake traffic without hitting anything. Points are earned for passing cars closely and driving quickly. When the player hits a car and the game is over this is converted to cash. There is also an ad banner permanently displayed in the corner.

The game just isn’t fun. Dodging the same cars over and over is not enjoyable and the imprecise controls, average graphics and aforementioned ad really make it the polar opposite of anything resembling entertainment. The game never changes and there is just nothing interesting about it compared to the bumper crop of great free games on Android.

Cash is used to buy new rides or upgrade the ones you have. The player starts off with a pile of cash but once that is gone it’s hard to earn much more, without buying it with real money.
Even when later cars are unlocked it doesn’t change the gameplay at all and simply makes the game harder if anything since faster cars are more difficult to dodge with.

Screenshot_2014-11-24-13-40-01Traffic Surf is one of the most crash prone games I have played. The game crashes for no apparent reason constantly. It crashes on the car select screen; it crashes during gameplay, it crashes after games. It crashes more often than the player does.

Traffic Surf doesn’t look good. Its graphics look amateurish and the boring environments and boxy cars don’t really do it any favours. The game also features an annoying banner ad on screen during gameplay, ruining the game’s looks.

Traffic Surf is an unenjoyable, repetitive game that crashes more often than pretty much any other game I have played on Android. It should not be played by anyone.

Dark Guardians Review

Dark Guardians Review

Nov 26, 2014

It’s been a bit of an emotional swing with Dark Guardians for me. At first, when I saw the screenshots, I thought: “Damn, that’s a cool action game with awesome art style”. When I’ve launched it, I was pretty displeased to find that it’s, in fact, a runner, and felt a little dirty that I’ve spent a whole dollar on it. But after I got the hang of things, it turned out to be a bit of both – and it really does have awesome art style.

For some unknown reason, there’s literally no backstory in Dark Guardians – and unlike with many generic fantasy games or cartoonish runners, Dark Guardians actually makes me want to know it. As it is, the game presents the player with a badass ancient nordic warrior, who runs through mystical, snow-bound forests, mountaintops, and other picturesque landscapes, and fights against a horde of demonic spirits that are seemingly led by a flying horned demon thing, who looks somewhat like Krampus. The warrior possesses a mighty sword that can smite the undead with a single strike. In order to kill an enemy that runs towards him, the hero simply needs to slash it with his sword. The trick is to strike at the right time, when the monster is exactly in front of the hero. If the player strikes too fast, the hero won’t be able to recover in time for a second strike, and get hit. The second trick is to hit with a corresponding element. There are four buttons on the bottom, each for a strike with a different element. At first, the enemies only come in one, basic form, but soon they start appearing in different forms, Dark Guardians 3and in much greater numbers. Every once in a while, the player can temporarily summon a horse that will take the hero through any monsters for some time, making him invincible. The more enemies the hero kills before succumbing to his wounds, the more runes he gets. The runes can be spent on making the hero strike further, start with more lives, or start further down the path that goes for 10 kilometers, and leads to the ultimate battle.

In general, Dark Guardians has a surprising feel of playing a rhythm game, like Guitar Hero. But instead of following the flow of music, the player has to follow the hordes of scandinavian ghosts – arguably, a more “metal” thing than actual metal. Let’s also not forget about the great, stylish graphics, changing scenery and cool music that turn the game into an awesome spectacle, even if a bit devoid of variety. It’s not long, and it’s not expensive, so check it out.

XCOM: Enemy Within Review

XCOM: Enemy Within Review

Nov 25, 2014

XCOM: Enemy Within is a standalone expansion to the amazing 2013 game XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It is essentially the same game with a fair few new additions and some refinements that make it a better game.

XCOM: Enemy Within as said above is a lot like Enemy Unknown. It is an in depth turn based strategy game where players take control of XCOM, an anti extraterrestrial organization attempting to fend off a global alien invasion.

Screenshot_2014-11-20-16-40-34Players take control of recruitment, training and research and both air forces and ground forces when the need arises. XCOM couples base building and broad strategic choice with a turn based, squad based combat engine. Aliens completely outgun humanity at the beginning of the game, so developing XCOM’s technologies is a central part of the game. That is the super complex XCOM in a tenuous nutshell.

The main addition of Enemy Within is the Meld. These canisters of orange goop are the key to unlocking a number of powerful new abilities for soldiers. One use of Meld is to upgrade soldiers with genetic implants that can boost their stats or endow them with abilities, like buffing the whole squad after a kill.

The other path for Meld use is to construct a Cybernetics Lab that can transform soldiers into giant, armoured killing machines with heavy weapons.

Both of these are fun and let players boost their favorite soldiers in new and exciting ways. You can do things like have elite ocular enhanced snipers popping aliens or have a MEC lead the way, absorbing all incoming fire while shotgun-wielding pheromone releasing assault soldiers cover it.

There are new enemies like the new Seeker which can cloak itself and strangle soldiers, rendering them helpless unless it is killed or the soldier dies.

Screenshot_2014-11-20-06-46-51A great new addition is medals. Medals can be awarded to any soldier and function as combat buffs. These can do things like raise their stats by completing missions without soldier deaths or cause a soldier to never panic from allied causalities. This is a good idea and helps make soldiers feel even more like individuals.

The game looks about the same as it did before. There are a few new pieces of equipment and some nice new environments, but they are more of what you’d expect from XCOM. Of course Enemy Unknown was an excellent looking game so it’s not like this is a bad thing.

The sound is improved. There are new soldier acknowledgements, speech and new ambient sounds. Sometimes you’ll roll into a sector and hear a nice ambient saxophone playing in the service station as your soldiers trade fire with aliens and plasma bolts reduces parts of the building to rubble. Other than that, the game retains XCOM’s excellent weapon and environment sounds and disturbing alien sounds. Great stuff as always.

XCOM Enemy Within adds a lot of interesting feature to the still fantastic gameplay of the original Enemy Unknown. Players who played the original to death will still find fun in the new features, while strategy fans who missed the game the first time around will be in turn based heaven.


Foosball Cup World Review

Foosball Cup World Review

Nov 25, 2014

Here’s a sentence I didn’t expect to make today: this free-to-play foosball simulator is a lot of fun. If someone is too young to remember what this is, and/or have never watched Friends, foosball is a table version of soccer, in which the players stand on the opposite sides of a specially crafted table, crossed by several parallel rods with dummy players on them. The players rotate the sticks with the dummies in order to hit the ball into the opponent’s gates. Although the game looks weird at first, it’s pretty fun, so Foosball Cup World simply needed to accurately transport the field into digital world, add a proper physical simulation for the ball, a couple of options for variety of gameplay, and not screw it up with useless free-to-play restrictions. And thankfully, it coped with the task almost perfectly. Besides the small ads and a long time it takes to get comfortable with the controls, the game is exactly what I’d expect to see from a mobile foosball game – if I ever did expect to see one.

There are several game modes in Foosball Cup World. There’s the quick match, where the player plays against an AI, in any battlefield and by any rules he wants. There’s the challenge mode, providing about a couple dozens of challenges, in which the player has to test his skills. The challenges reward the player with special points that can be spent on purchasing new tables, players, or balls that have different behavior. There’s not a whole lot, but it’s enough to keep the game fresh for quite a Foosball Cup World 2while. If the challenge is failed, it can be tried again after a couple of minutes. Another mode is the tournament, where the player has to win in a series of matches to gain special prizes. Finally, there’s the World League which is the most difficult mode, in which the player has to win against all other countries. The tournament and world league aren’t available from the start and have to be unlocked. Finally, there’s the two player mode, in which two players can play on the single device against each other, quite in the spirit of original foosball.

Overall, it’s the best recreation of foosball on the platform – at least because it’s, likely, the only one in existence. If you’re a fan of foosball, nothing should stop you from enjoying it, and if you’re not – it’s still a fun and challenging little arcade to kill some time.

Pocket Heroes Beta Review

Pocket Heroes Beta Review

Nov 24, 2014

Pocket Heroes is a tactical action that puts the player in a weird, loose adaptation of a Legend of King Arthur. The story follows Eric, a bearded lieutenant of the king’s guardsmen who pretty unexpectedly all die at the hands of a demon, after being sent away from the castle on the order of Mordred. After being saved by a priest girl who joins him, he needs to go back to Camelot and save the kingdom from the hordes of various fantasy rabble.

The gameplay of Pocket Heroes is pretty familiar. The player controls up to four characters on the arena as they are being attacked by waves of enemies. The player needs to tap one of the characters and drag a line to make him move. Dragging it onto an enemy will make a character attack, dragging it onto an empty area will make him go there, and dragging a priest onto your character will make him start healing. The system is years old, and still as uncomfortable as ever, since trying to select a character in the middle of battle is welcoming to produce all sorts of mistakes. It’s not like it’s impossible to keep control over the characters, but every so often you give the wrong order to a wrong character, sometimes costing you a clean win.

Another problem of Pocket Heroes is the free-to-play system that irritates the bowels like a mix of milk, pickles, and Pocket Heroes Beta 2barbed wire. The game is currently in Beta, so it’s possible that the control system will be fixed – however, I’m guessing that the ads and the expendable mission energy are going to stay in the finished game.

Still, besides the lack of originality, free-to-pay stuff and the uncomfortable controls, Pocket Heroes is pretty fun. The cartoon graphics are crisp and pleasant, the outcome still depends on the player’s skills, and the wide range of loot, as well as long skill trees for each hero that include special upgrades, make it interesting to play for a long time – or at least as long as the energy bar lets you. Overall, this game is more or less, mediocre.

Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved Review

Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved Review

Nov 21, 2014

Despite its name, Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved is neither a shmup, nor is it particularly evolved. It’s still pretty good though. The story and characters put McBane to shame with their corniness. The player becomes a missile commander for allied forces that are fighting against the Terror – as in, an organization that literally calls itself Terror. They employ lunatics and fanatics to their side, lacking but a swastika and the actual Devil as their commander to complete the image of a perfect enemy for the forces of democracy and everything that is good. Anyway, the player has to endure endless waves of enemies as they try to destroy the thingy that the player is trying to protect (what is that that we’re trying to protect, by the way?) by shooting a barrage of missiles onto advancing enemies.

The gameplay of Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved isn’t anything new, but it’s executed in a pleasant way, so the repetition isn’t too tiresome, and the difficulty can be played around for quite a while. The enemies come from the top and the player needs to tap onto them to order a missile hit. The missiles take half a second to drop, so the player has to aim a Tank Invaders 3bit in advance, although that’s not a big factor in the game’s difficulty. Mostly, it’s about reaction time, as the enemies grow in numbers, and their speed starts increasing. Besides the missiles, the player has expendable nukes, a bunch of power-ups that, when picked up, make the missiles stronger of faster for a while, and a special “On fire” mode that’s activated when the player hits a number of targets in succession, without missing once.

The enemies differ quite a lot, and I’d say, they’re the most interesting part of Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved. There are tanks, aircrafts, missile silos and various bosses. The boss encounter is a challenging test of the player’s skills, although, strangely, it isn’t the most likely place to get defeated. When the player’s base health bar is completely erased by enemy shots, the enemies getting through the player’s defenses, or the player hitting the allied vehicles, the game is over, and the player gets money based on how long he lasted and whether he completed any of the three special missions. Then he can spend the money to resupply his nukes or upgrade some part of his armory, before going on the line again.

Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved is fun, and it’s the most that matters. Sure, it’s free-to-play, and has its limits, but it’s not punishing the player for not paying, and the ads aren’t shoved in the face – you can actually get bonus gold by watching a 30-second video ad. Regardless, it’s a fun game with cool graphics and corny dialogues for anyone who likes explosions with a bit of tactics on the side.

Joinz Review

Joinz Review

Nov 21, 2014

Joinz is a puzzle game with deceptively simple gameplay, starting out easy, but very quickly becoming a test for your brain, particularly that part that is responsible for not throwing violent tantrums when you fail to beat a high-score.

The gameplay of Joinz is somewhat similar to Lines. There is a square field that has a single building block. The player can slide this block in four directions, making it travel until it hits an object or a border. Every time the player moves a block, another block appears on a random position on the field. Unlike lines, where the player has to create lines from the blocks of the same color to remove them from the field, Joinz requires the player to create one of the three shapes that pop up on the top of the screen. When the shape is complete, the player gets another one to make. As the player progresses, the shapes get gradually more complex, starting from simple tetris-like forms, to the complexities that fill up half of the game board. Also, appearing blocks start to get additional colors, making the field even more difficult to navigate. The player has to “jump” off of the existing blocks in order to create the required shapes. Don’t forget that once two or more blocks are connected to each other, it’s almost impossible to break them apart, so they’ll behave like a singular shape.

Although Joinz has a pretty demanding set of rules, it also has power-ups that can extend the game for a long while – if the player knows how to use them, of course. Every once in a while, a special “gift” block appears. Tapping on it gives the player a choice of different power-ups. The longer the game goes, the more power-ups can be summoned from the gift block. It’s a pretty cool system, since the player can choose the most fitting power-up that he requires, but then he still needs to move it in the position where he wants it to be.

Overall, Joinz is a decent and unusual puzzle that requires quite a lot of skill and forward thinking on behalf of the player. It lacks additional game modes or special challenges, and general variety, but it’s still a fine treat for the fans of brain-bending puzzles.

Ironkill: Robot Fighting Game Review

Ironkill: Robot Fighting Game Review

Nov 20, 2014

Ironkill: Robot Fighting Game wants you to fight; it might be the easiest directive to follow in handheld gaming.

The gameplay boils down to combat. The initial run is a tutorial of sorts, and the gameplay is laid out with the help of an appropriately named intro robot. The fighting is works as player against a CPU opponent, and is a war of attrition: whoever depletes the other’s life bar first wins, and doing a damage is performed with the help of the control buttons at the bottom. One initiates a quick attack, one does a harder type of attack, and there is a defense button.

To be the most effective fighting is done by using the virtual buttons in a creative tandem while keeping an eye ironkill2on both life bars. Winning is ranked with a star system (just like in Angry Birds) and payouts are given. The play is leveled, so one gets to battle successively harder opponents the further one gets into the game. Winning yields experience points too; eventually, the idea is to have a team of robots to choose from.

The game cash serves an important purpose: upgrades. it is possible to improve one’s offense or defense in increments with game gold, and doing so increases the rating of one’s robot, and gains experience points as well. As one goes on, other elements show up… championship funds, match boosts, faction advantages, special timed bouts and more. Of course, real money can be used to expedite progress, but does not seem entirely necessary.

The game’s greatest attribute is probably the artwork. It’s grim and underworldly, with a dash of desperate. The animations are fun, if a bit repetitive, and the cutscenes are quite helpful.

The game flows smoothly, and the elements all tie-in well together, creating a gladiatorial series that is quite fun to traverse. The freemium nature is the perfect lure, too. All in all, it hearkens respectfully to the genre and underlying concept (related movies) in equal parts, which is probably why it is easy to fall in love with.

Huey Review

Huey Review

Nov 20, 2014

Huey is an old school platformer featuring cute monkeys! What’s not to like?

Huey has all the elements of a classic platformer. Players guide Huey along precarious platforms, jumping over deadly pits, avoiding traps, bonking enemies by jumping on their heads and grabbing coins on the way to the stage’s exit.

Screenshot_2014-11-17-05-38-26Huey lacks any kind of tutorial. While the titular monkey can grab coins to trade for extra lives or even the ability to skip levels, it’s unclear what the eggs are used for.

Hey is quite tough. Like most old school platformers, one wrong step generally results in death and enemies aren’t pushovers either. The challenge is engaging without being overwhelming and makes Huey a tense experience. For players that really get stuck the ability to skip levels with coins might come in handy.

The game does have some pretty cheap moments however. Snails and hedgehogs fire nearly impossible to see projectiles and there are quite a few very cheap obstacle courses involving instakill spikes. With the way the game allows skipping of levels it is tough to tell sometimes if these puzzles are designed solely to frustrate players into paying for coins. The game is never impossible however.

Screenshot_2014-11-17-05-41-13Huey looks average It feels a few years old and lacks the sharp pixel art found in other games of its type. It certainly looks 16 bit and has some personality. There are plenty of enemies to fight and besides the aforementioned hard to see projectiles the game is easy to see.

The sound could be a lot better. With nope speech at all and very muted sound effects Huey feels a little amateurish. The music suits the game well though.

Huey controls well enough. The stick works fine, although sometimes I could have sworn I pressed the jump button an instant before it responded, resulting in me falling onto spikes. The game does not support external control pads, which is a pretty big oversight in this age of mobile gaming.

Huey has a lot of levels and the game’s stiff challenge will ensure it will take a lot of time to work through them. The game makes reference to future updates as well so expect more levels in the future.

The game has a few ads bit these only appear between levels and are very short. Coins can be spent to remove ads.

Huey has few surprises, but it is still a competent platformer, if nothing too amazing. Players who grew up with 16 bit games should check it out.


Sweet Drmzzz Review

Sweet Drmzzz Review

Nov 19, 2014

Sweet Drmzzz is a cool, collected brain teaser collection that might actually be named counter-intuitively. It is a tale about sleepy fantasy, alarm clock travel and space adventures.

The game is leveled, and packs in puzzle after puzzle based on a several templates. As to be expected, the mind benders presented start off at an easy keel, and as progress is made, the difficulty gets ratcheted up. Now, while the graphics and sounds are definitely soothing, I think its true strength is in the simple quality of the puzzles.

For example, one of the early capers had to do with capturing stars with definite moving beings. The beings can be moved as right angles by taps, and the idea is to pick up all the stars. Down the line, the developer gradually adds elements that make it a bit tougher: stuff like extra beings controlled by the same taps, ghost guards and color-coded collectible stars etc. it eventually comes to feel a little like a free-moving Pac-Man without the alleys.

Then there is an interesting hole-filling segment; there is a sprinkle of colored dust that has to be directed into the holes by using gesture movements to create slides. This gets harder too, with set amounts of dust, and the need to convert the dust to another color to fill a specifically colored hole. More elements get added, and the challenge becomes greater.

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Then there are memory tests and such. The developer does a good job of making it fun, and increasingly difficult without be illogically unsolvable. I like the intricate nature of the puzzles, as the easy parts aids familiarity such that the harder versions are more fun to tackle.

The graphics are cutesy, and more or less frame the gameplay quite well; it looks easy on the eyes, the pastels are clean looking, and the moving parts are quite smooth.

For some, it might feel a little repetitive though, as the gameplay does rely a bit on the templated styles. The upfront pricing is welcome, and goes far in my book.

So… back to the title. it’s an awesome time waster, but I did find myself losing sleep; the leveled gameplay got me again and again. It’s charm creeps on you, and that is okay.

So what if I lose a little virtual sleep…

Battlestation: First Contact Review

Battlestation: First Contact Review

Nov 19, 2014

Battlestation: First Contact Is an interesting mix of RTS and tower defence.

As commander of a large space station the player simply needs to survive by any means possible while wiping out the enemy. Gun turrets can be built in a number of slots on the station. These range from fast firing anti fighter lasers to slower heavy missile launchers for pounding the snot out of big ships. Having a good balance of weapons to combat different threats is as important here as it is in any tower defence.

Screenshot_2014-11-14-08-15-18As well as towers however the player can also construct Hangars. Once built these spit out fighter in a steady steam, providing mobile defence that can be sent to attack the enemy or cover the station as necessary. Fighter squadrons can be individually ordered about and while they cannot be moved directly, the player always feels like they have firm control over their pilots.

A shuttle bay can also be built that allows marines to be sent in troop carriers to opposing enemy ships to take them over and steal them from the enemy. Lastly, Earth can be contacted for reinforcements to bring in the big guns. This doesn’t come cheap however.

Screenshot_2014-11-14-08-37-08Of course all this fancy gear costs credits which are gained by destroying enemies and tapping on salvage. Marines and pilots are also a finite resource, so flippantly throwing away fighters or troops in futile combat will swiftly lead to disaster.

Battlestation: First Contact offers quite a few tactical options. Everything the player builds or uses can be customized like any good RTS. Turrents can have their targeting priority changed, while fighters can be more or less aggressive or dock with the station for upgrades. Shields can also be tweaked to either have more capacity or recharge faster. All of this makes a big difference depending on the situation.

Battlestation is a rougetype. This means when the player dies that saved game is deleted and they must start all over again from wave 1. It is very easy to lose it all very fast in Battlestation: First Contact if a tactical blunder is made. This makes the game tense but it is very aggravating being blown up after twenty minutes of gameplay. This is not helped by the repeated dialogue each game. Battlestation barely has a story to speak of and it is irritating to click though dry dialogue.

Battlestation: First Contact looks nice and minimalist. Its bright, simple graphics give it an inviting TRON like look with chaotic battles that are fun to watch. The sound is well done as well. A pumping techno track accompanies the action. The “pew pew pew” of combat gets the job done in a retro way, but a few more sounds would have been nice.

Battlestation: First Contact offers its first episode for free while additional episodes cost $3.50. If you’re good enough to reach the end of the first episode the later ones will likely be a good buy.

Battlestation: First Contact is a slick well-made game with a great meshing of styles its exciting tactical combat and fresh graphics make it a winner, even if it can be just a little too brutal sometimes.


Duck Destroyer Launches on Android Courtesy of Chillingo

Duck Destroyer Launches on Android Courtesy of Chillingo

Nov 18, 2014

New game Duck Destroyer is now on Android courtesy of Chillingo.

The game takes a fox’s search for dinner and transforms it into a cutscene-driven arcade-type shooter

When hunger strikes, grab a shotgun and put some dinner on the table. Look down the sights and put those sharpshooting skills to the test as you blast flocks of ducks out of the sky.

From slingshots to rail guns, dynamite to robots – there’s nothing this duck destroyer won’t use to get his paws on a delicious meal. Load up on power-ups in the store and come out guns blazing!

A simple errand to fetch dinner takes this fox on an adventure that’s out of this world! Chart his incredible journey as he’s plucked from his humble home and thrown into the Arctic and beyond in fully-animated cut-scenes.

Duck Destroyer is available for free (with in-app purchasing) on the Play Store.