Animals vs Mutants Review

Animals vs Mutants Review

Oct 20, 2014

Asia keeps pumping good-looking, poorly-designed content on Google Play, choke-full of free-to-play restrictions and mechanics. I can’t see why anybody would play another rip-off of a ten-year old flash game, and yet thousands of downloads suggest that there’s a reason. Animals vs Mutants is exactly that kind of game, with more mechanics than a Formula-1 pit-stop, and with just as short service time.

In Animals vs Mutants, the player is filling the shoes of a hero, whose animal friends get kidnapped by Dr. Wicked (literally his name – no wonder the guy went bonkers) and his army of mutants. It’s now time to build an army of cute but bloodthirsty animals and attack his strongholds to rescue them. The gameplay is a familiar 1-D strategy. One base on the player’s side, one on the enemy’s. The player controls a hero and can summon various animals to help destroy the base, while the enemy does the same. Two armies meet somewhere in the center and whoever is stronger, pushes closer to the base, while waiting for the reinforcements to come closer. The new mechanics here is that different animals fight Animals vs. Mutants 2better on different terrains. Pandas can roll downhill and push back the enemies below; squirrels can shoot acorns uphill, and platypuses get better stats underwater.

It’s all fine, but as always, instead of demanding better skills down the line, Animals vs Mutants just throws bloated bullet sponges at the player, and waits until they get enough upgrades and equipment for their animals and hero to out-sponge the enemy. Speaking of which, there’s tons of equipment that can be purchased, upgraded and swapped, each unit type can be improved, and there are special superpowers that cost gold to regenerate. In other words, the game is a market in and of itself, filled with stuff that you need to purchase if you don’t want to use an energy point for nothing. Oh, right, there’s also energy. I didn’t hit the paywall while I played, but I’m sure that it’s somewhere in there, further along the line. And even if it wasn’t, the game isn’t all that interesting, although I did enjoy it. I say enjoy it, I mean I tolerated it. I say tolerated, but what I mean is I poured acid on my face and danced on a fire ant colony in needle shoes to distract me. The little animals are all pretty cute though.

Entwined Challenge Review

Entwined Challenge Review

Oct 16, 2014

Twitch games are an addiction of mine now, so checking out Entwined Challenge was destined to be.

The visuals rely on simulated distance perspective; to start, the two flying beings are colored red and blue. In the distance is a circle with colored segments; the colors of the segments are generally red, blue and green. the flying beings can be controlled by thumb gestures on either side to move along the axis of the circle, so that each flying being is guided through a matching color segment.

As progress is made, the game adjusts too; for example, where the color segments were stationary, they begin to move, forcing the player to make adjustments and quicker decisions on the fly. While the concept remains simple, the developer does a good job of delicately layering levels of difficulty upon the easy-to-understand premise, and it flows well, with no major deviations to distract from the chase of excellence.entwined3

Success in matching yields points and more playing time, and there is only a set number of misses allowed before the run ends, so accuracy is key. Dexterity is also an asset, as is the ability to react quickly. There are combos that can be attained, and high scores are recorded; the high score mechanism making it easy for folks to find an excuse to beat the previous score.

The game is split into five levels, with the threshold of a preceding one needing to be met for the next to be unlocked. The graphics of each level have subtle characteristics that highlight the Asian elements the developer based them upon.

I liked the way the game flows; the console roots show, and that is a good thing. While I think the controls can be tweaked a little to account for shifts in gameplay, I like that the sensitivity of said controls can be tweaked for sensitivity. Big ups for the upfront payment model.

It’s the perfect time waster, and is easy to get into. What more can we ask for while we test our reflexes?

Loot Dungeon – Pixel Roguelike Review

Loot Dungeon – Pixel Roguelike Review

Oct 14, 2014

Foreword: Loot Dungeon is basically a mod of Pixel Dungeon, an open-source rogue-like that I already played a while ago, but completely forgot about, while writing this review. Oops. Anyway, consider this review to also fit Pixel Dungeon.

There’s been a great number of rogue-like games that were somewhat okay, but finding the classic rogue-like experience is still a treat. Loot Dungeon offers just that, with just a couple of tweaks here and there.

There are four classes in the game, each one having subclasses, all of them quite varied and differ in a lot more than just starting stats and equipment. The game has a standard dungeon-crawling pattern. The player needs to storm through several levels and fight a final boss, finding loot, killing countless enemies, getting levels, and ultimately being killed by a man-eating plant or giant enemy crab or other murderous flora/fauna/furniture/ambiance. There are potions, scrolls, and equipment, all of which have to be identified, Loot Dungeon 2unless the player is willing to risk drinking what could be a potion of liquid death, or putting on a cursed set of armor.

The dungeon floors are not only filled with enemies, but contain various traps as well. These traps can burn, paralyze, poison, or make a number of different effects. The hero can also place some traps in the form of mutant vines, found along the level. Going through corpses or graves can also spawn driad-like spirits of vengeance that can take the unfortunate hero apart in a couple of turns. Basically, in Loot Dungeon, everything can, and certainly will, murder you, if you’re not attentive, strong, or simply lucky enough. And I wouldn’t take it any other way. And no, although it would take a while for new players to acquaint themselves with it, Loot Dungeon isn’t in any way more difficult or unfair to the players, than popular rogue-likes, so it’s still as interesting to create a new character on the twentieth run, as it is on the second.

The graphics and sounds are rather simple and cheap, but they are present, so it’s already a lot prettier than the classic rogue-likes. I didn’t have any difficulty with its controls or interface, and only have minuscule critique I don’t even want to mention. Overall, it’s a great, free, solid rogue-like experience for those who crave some old-school dungeon crawling.

LEGO Star Wars Yoda II Review

LEGO Star Wars Yoda II Review

Oct 13, 2014

The new Star Wars movie release grows closer, so it’s about time new Star Wars games start popping up. Lego Star Wars was the very first and successful title in the modern wave of Lego games, so it’s not surprising to see Lego making another one. Unfortunately, Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles isn’t that exciting, but it’s a nice collection of mini-games to pass the time in, while waiting for the more interesting stuff.

Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles lets the player complete various missions, on all sides of the conflict, and throughout different points of Star Wars history. The two sides of the conflict have basically the same missions, and only differ in the characters and their surroundings. Which isn’t that bad, actually. Although gameplay gets repetitive after a while, the various landscapes definitely work for a while longer.

There are four kinds of missions: run-and-gun, where the player plays as a trooper or a jedi, moving forward on a path and shooting or striking the various infantry on his way, while evading the enemy fire; air strike (Hoth defence FTW!), where the player pilots an airship and his mission is to destroy small support airships, and huge battle tanks; space Yoda II 3battles, done surprisingly well for such a small-scale title, similar to air strikes, but in space, and solely against other aircrafts; and weird falling sequence, which has pretty uncomfortable controls, where the player falls into some sort of pit, while evading the obstacles and enemy fire. Although the games are endless by their design, the player only needs to keep up fighting until he collects enough blue pieces, after which the mission will be “complete”, furthering his progress and unlocking a more challenging version of the same level. Some games are not yet released as of this writing, so there might be more stuff later.

In general, Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles is a great way to kill some time. It’s varied, has that iconic Star Wars feeling about it, filled with characters and places from all over the Star Wars universe, and it’s entirely free! High-quality stuff. Even though the games get a bit repetitive after a while, it’s definitely a treat for all fans of Star Wars, or Lego.

FIFA 15: Ultimate Team Review

FIFA 15: Ultimate Team Review

Oct 10, 2014

This year, EA shakes things up by only presenting us the Ultimate Team mode in FIFA 15 for Android. That’s a fact that you either hate or love, but I must say: I was surprised by that choice.

Normally I would start a soccer game review with the words that the game is bigger and better than the version released a year ago. But that is not the case with FIFA 15: Ultimate Team. Instead of making the game, sometimes unnecessary, bigger, Electronic Arts tried to built upon the core of the Ultimate Team mode. You know, the mode where you need to collect cards of players, technical staff, coaches and attributes and build your own team based on the cards you collect. You get those cards by fulfilling certain goals.

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Although it is quite the unusual decision to make a big game small again, I found myself enjoying the game much more because of the lack of more features. Also, the concept of the Ultimate Team mode is excellent for smartphones and tablets, because of its strategic nature and the fact you will spend some time in a menu or two. It just works very well; I was never lost. It is also possible to compete in quick games with your own managed team, so it is not the case that you can only be a manager in this game.

But if you’re like me and you find more fun into managing a soccer team rather than play with one, like you would on the consoles, you can always choose to simulate games – just like Nintendo Pocket Football Club on the Nintendo 3DS, for instance. But now with real players and everything that screams EA, soccer or buy my shit. Luckily, you can play FIFA 15: Ultimate Team without spending a single dollar, but than you know you’re in for the long run. But true FIFA players won’t mind that. They just want to manage the game and kick a ball.

Note that you need a lot of free space in order to play the game: make sure you have 1.35GB free internal space or on the SD card. Also, it is not possible to connect this game to your console version, so you cannot manage your team on the road, go home and see the results on screen.

Escape Bird Review

Escape Bird Review

Oct 9, 2014

When I saw the screens for Escape Bird, I thought: this looks like the Dark Souls version of Flappy Bird. Was I right?

We all know the type of game Flappy Bird was. It was an unfair and unpolished, but somehow hilarious game about a bird, trying to escape whatever through some odd looking pipes, that somehow reminded us all of a Italian plumber. By tapping we made sure the bird didn’t fall or touch anything and by doing good, we all scored higher points. Or not, depending on the (lack of a good) hitbox.

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A million Flappy clones came around, some ‘good’, some awful, but all with their own style. Because how much can a game differ from another game that has the same tapping mechanic. Now, here is Escape Bird. Escape Bird is a title that offers more hope than it should, because the bird in this game has no room to go. It is stuck and the only way out is to die. And it will die.

So despite the colorful character of the game (the chosen colors really suit each other), Escape Bird is quite dark. The goal is to get the highest amount of points by tapping, so the bird can fly from one side to another, avoiding the spikes on the wall. You must land the bird in the area between the spikes in order to let him live and fly another round, but there comes a point the bird will die.

He will die and you won’t be mad. Not just because he’s a cartoon bird in a video game, but because it is your own fault he is dead and the game is over. Unlike Flappy Bird, this game has a serious hitbox, meaning you know how to avoid the spikes. It doesn’t feel random – like it did in Flappy Bird. But where does the comparison with Dark Souls start?

Well at the moment you think you can do it better next time, because you know what to expect, while still knowing it could be the last thing you’ll ever do, you’ve got the core of a Dark Souls game if you ask me. The only difference is that at the end of a Dark Souls level, you make it out alive… Or… Something that still walks… And in Escape Bird, you’ll never escape. But you can always try your best.

The Walking Dead Pinball Review

The Walking Dead Pinball Review

Oct 8, 2014

The Walking Dead Pinball goes to show that two rights can make a wrong.

If you haven’t heard of the Walking Dead by now, than it is possible you have been sleeping for the past couple of years. The franchise, once only a comic book and now grown in to a TV series and multiple games, is massive and keeps on going forward. Zen Pinball, creators of my most memorable digital pinball experience to date, created a game I never saw coming: a pinball version of the point-and-click story-driven drama game from Telltale Games. And I’m not sure if I like it.

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So on one hand, we’ve got the best pinball game developer there is and on the other hand we’ve got Telltale, making sure we get to play the Walking Dead video game out there. But combined… well, let’s just say that it isn’t a winning formula. This pinball machine (you can download it separately or withing the existing Zen Pinball app) offers story driven gameplay, including making some choices, but it always leads to unnecessary distractions or unclear goals.

But the base of the game, the pinball machine itself, is how it is supposed to be. It is the pinball magic we’ve come to know and love by now. It man, does the game look great – it has the same graphical appeal of the Walking Dead game bij Telltale, so you’re in for a treat. But like I said, the game does offer a great deal of distraction, making you loose a ball when you think your attention is need elsewhere – but the fact is, you always need to focus on the ball, otherwise it is gone.

And another thing I found quite… odd: there is the option to ball an extra pack of pinballs, a dollar per three, when you’re game over. I understand Zen Pinball found a extra way to make a quick buck, but it defiles the basic rules of pinball. The rule that game over is game over, that you’ve just lost your points and that you can always try again, next time. This just feels wrong.

Goat Simulator Review

Goat Simulator Review

Oct 6, 2014

Five dollars for an Android game is quite the price. Especially when that game in particular is Goat Simulator. But you know, this is fun. Even on Android.

By now you could be familiar with the concept of and idea behind Goat Simulator. The development of Goat Simulator started of as a joke during a Game Jam, but quickly gained popularity amongst the internet. The idea was to make a stupid game where players could do everything but nothing and live the life of a goat in a big city, while they ignore the basic laws of physics. It was called a simulator, because of the surprisingly popular games like Farming or Truck Simulator on pc.

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This is a product of mockery. In every pixel. In every sprite. And it’s stupid. And you should not buy this game on pc. Or mobile for that matter. Even the developers said so on their own product page on Steam. But you know what, this game, as dumb as it is, is damned fun. It is the perfect game to escape real life and just goof off in a strange world where the rules of physics are different and where nobody seems to care that a small goat is actually a penguin.

It kept me busy for quite some time – longer than I would like to admit. I missed the hype on pc, because I don’t have a laptop where I can comfortably game on, so I was actually glad I could try it out myself, after seeing some of the most hilarious Let’s Play video’s in a long time (looking at you, Steam Train!). But there were two things I didn’t like: the game world isn’t as big and doesn’t feature as many places to go to as in de pc version and there weren’t many other styled ‘goats’.

But is it worth five bucks? No, God, no. For a gamer, there isn’t anything to invest in. Is it a fun way to escape a busy life? Yes. So if you would like to play it, I’m sure the developers don’t mind you downloading a .apk file from somewhere on the internet, so you can play it without actually have to pay for it (figure of speech, the developers need to eat to, you know :)).

Cannon Crasha Review

Cannon Crasha Review

Oct 3, 2014

Man, Cannon Crasha is ‘one of those games’. In a good way! When you like games like Worms and Swords and Soldiers, you will definitly like this instant classic Android game.

Go play it. No seriously. This is one of those games. One of those games where the only thing you need to know is that you need to play it. It should be one of those games everybody should talk about, you know, like the time you were in high school, still playing those GBA games. Cannon Crasha is a turn-based-ish, real time strategic-ish game that borrows elements from games like Worms and Sword and Soldiers, covered up in light-humoured conversations and easy to learn controls.

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When I say Worms and Swords and Soldiers, you kinda get the idea of this game. On screen, there are two bases. One is yours and the other one is your enemy. That’s basicely all you need to know. The goal of the game is to destroy each others base, the castle. You can do that by simply rocking your cannon. That part is similiar of how Worms games felt at the moment you tried to launch a well aimed bazooka attack. But the next layer resembles Swords vs Soldiers and offers more options.

That layer offers different kind of helpful characters and items that can help you in your goal to destroy the enemies base. There are also options to enhance the speed of much needed resources so that you can build even more items or produce more soldiers to aim you. And you do this all while defending your own castle, by building structural steel that takes a lot – a lot – of inspiration from the Worms games if it comes to design and the way it is placed on to the field.

There is so much stuff you can do and the game makes it easy for you the get used to the controls, gameplay and mechanic, with massive and not irritating tutorials that are levels on its own. From the start, Cannon Crasha is a fun game to play. And it stays fun, right ‘till the very end.

Asphalt Overdrive Review

Asphalt Overdrive Review

Oct 2, 2014

When I think of the name Asphalt, I think of a fine Need for Speed like racing experience of mobile phones. Asphalt Overdrive offers some of the same experience, only in small, repetitive packages.

Asphalt Overdrive is an endless runner type of game, meaning that, in this case, the car on screen drives itself forward – the only way to go. Overdrive isn’t the typical Asphalt game in a sense that it offers exciting races, but it does a lot that the series is known for. Those graphics are just to damned slick and the way the game controls… Man, it just couldn’t be any better than this. Even the music isn’t as irritating as most games – in fact, it’s pretty good electro music on its own.

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So yeah, presentation wise, this game is awesome – that eighties style and feeling really suits the game. Gameplay wise, there is a lot to do. You can compete in different kinds of challanges, among racing away from the cops or getting as much points as possible while doing stunts. In a way, Asphalt Overdrive feels like an authentic Asphalt experience, but the developer has chosen to put that experience in to small dosages of fun. And it works, because of the genre of the game.

But because it is a free endless runner, you can’t run from certain necessities. Like the system the game is based on. You can not play the game for as much as you like, and you will run out of energy that is needed to play the game. Yes, you can buy more energy, but it will cost you real-life money. Asphalt Overdrive has another paywall like layer on top of it and I got quite sick of it – but, in all honesty, that second layer isn’t that much present as the first one, but it’s irritating nonetheless.

So if you’re not bothered by the fact you are restricted in the amount of time you may play (and don’t mind the game make push notifications to alert you that you’re energy is refilled), you can enjoy a solid race game, with excellent audiovisual appeal. One of the best there is to play.

Size DOES Matter Review

Size DOES Matter Review

Oct 1, 2014

I’ll cut to the chase: Size DOES Matter is a rhythm game, and it’s hard. I consider myself to be pretty handy when it comes to rhythm games. I’ve played an absolute most of them. OSU, Guitar Hero, DDR, Bit.Trip, tons of other, smaller indies – you name it. But I still wasn’t prepared for the level of difficulty that this deceivingly simple game reaches. It’s hard to believe that I had to give up roughly half-way through it, simply because I’m unable to proceed. Anyway.

Story, Locations and other distracting stuff are all absent from Size Does Matter, leaving just a style of 8-bit graphics and neon, spiced by excellent chiptune soundtrack. It’s got everything that old-school arcade players like, including throat-cutting difficulty. As for the gameplay, it’s rather simple: the player needs to guide a vertical bar through a labyrinth by squeezing through the openings in the “walls”. The bar can extend and contract to be 1, 3, and 5 squares tall, and can scroll up and down, one square per finger swipe. Each time a level starts, the player gets three “lives”, a life being lost every time the player doesn’t fit exactly into the opening – whether the bar is too big or too small. Even if the player loses all lives, he continues playing until the end of the level, but if he has any lives left afterwards, the level repeats, this time Size DOES Matter 4becoming stupidly, eyes-poppingly, finger-breakingly difficult. Why, you ask? For the scores, of course! Also, because the next levels only unlock if you reach a certain score in a level. Which is logical, considering they don’t get any easier.

One small problem I have with Size DOES Matter is an absence of button controls. There are swipe and tap controls, but swipe requires a bit too much actions, and tap controls don’t have any visible buttons, making them a lot less intuitive. On the other hand, most of the mistakes that I’ve made, I would probably make with buttons as well, but I’d feel a lot better if I wasn’t able to blame the control scheme for my mistakes.

In general Size Does Matter is a great game. It’s mainly for the fans of rhythm games, but it’s fun stuff with great music and barebones gameplay that will make the player clench his teeth a lot of the time.

CounterSpy Review

CounterSpy Review

Sep 30, 2014

I don’t drink, but if I did, it would all be shaken. Not stirred.

We all have a little bit of Bond in us. Deep down, there’s a super spy within us, and veins coursing with the spirit of espionage. For this reason, CounterSpy probably has a leg up on making us happy, and at the very least, it should be interesting to see how the gameplay adds up.

For back story, our super secret agency is C.O.U.N.T.E.R, and it is welcoming our main character, Bishop Five, into its folds. With the use of cutscene dialogue, the developer gives us an overview of the intro mission, Bishop’s CIA roots and that the game is set during the Cold War. The intro guides us right into the gameplay itself, and there we get our first look at the graphics. It’s a zany affair, with stretchy characterizations and a great use of light to effect the environment. The game is set up in a 2D side-scrolling format, with most movements occurring from left to right, and occasional flashes to 3D for special action sequences. Movements and interactions are effected by gestures and taps; for example, swiping makes our guy walk, double swiping makes him run in the swiped direction. There are other controls too, which can make our spy navigate ledges, creep and do melee attacks, crouch and shoot. Altogether, the flexible control set really makes the game shine.

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The gameplay is generally boils down to a set of missions with collected data and materials serving as the waypoints, and plenty of dangers in the person of guards and raised DEFCON levels. The hints system is helpful, and the action is fairly continuous. I like that this isn’t just some simple shooter; in some instances, stealth is the preferred option, and in other scenarios, holding an enemy at gunpoint might be the best option. The game engine seems to adjust well too, using a procedural system that allows missions to not be 100% the same. Success yields cash which can be used for boosts and upgrades in the game store.

All in all, it is a pretty fun game, quite worthy of its Playstation/console roots. It works well, is flexible and does a good job of keeping players engaged. The advertised Playstation/cross platform sync is another cherry on top.

Whether or not one likes it shaken or stirred.