Pictionary Review

Pictionary Review

Apr 30, 2017

We’ve seen a lot of variants, and now we get to see the “the” board game come to life — digitized — to Android.

We are talking about Pictionary, people.

There are two modes to get involved in: Quick Draw and Turn-Based. The game politely suggests starting with the latter as a learner, and then we’re off to playing.pict3

Now, if you’ve played “real” Pictionary, the gameplay will be familiar. Basically, you and another player pair up to guess words and phrases listed on cards. One player selects a clue card, and the idea is for that player to draw a clue that allows the partner to guess the clue word… in essence, artwork to unlock the word.

You draw, they guess, then they draw you guess. There are prizes to be won, and the game comes alive intuitively.

In the other game mode (Quick Draw), you get to team with a player to play against two others in real time. This is a race… best be fast. Whichever pair figures out the target word or phrase first wins.

The game is fantastic in theory. Who wouldn’t want the classic dinner party game in digital form? There are some aspects that make it hard, and no surprise really… we have seen the same on similar games. For example, there is an easy way to cheat the game; simply hand write the word to be guessed.

Then, there is always the possibility to pair up with some unknown propensity to draw unmentionable body parts; as such, a degree of care has to be taken.

In any case, it is an enjoyable game, if a bit predictable in places. The ability to create local group play would be a fantastic touch; any form of localized group play could be a game changer of sorts, as well as player feedback system.

Word Connect Review

Word Connect Review

Apr 30, 2017

Word-based games rock. Word Connect is a word-based game.

Proceed? Yes, indeed.

The premise for Word Connect is fairly easy to understand. At the bottom of the playing area is a jumble of letters, and right above these letters are text boxes. The idea is to glean words from the letter jumble till all the missing words are found.wc3

It starts out easily enough, with a smaller selection of letters and shorter words to be discovered. The number of boxes in each word intuitively hints at the number of letters in each word, and one can then guess accordingly.

When a word is gleaned, all one has to do is gesture trace through the letters to form the guessed word. If the word is correctly spelled (and one of the choices), it lights up green and fills out one of the letter sets. If it is misspelled, or is an unrecognized word, it shows as red. Correct words release points for the player, and if/when all the words are guessed correctly, the level is finished, and the next one is unlocked.

The progression of the puzzles is what really makes the game worth the gander. As noted, it does start of easily, but the developer does a good job of ratcheting up the difficulty quotient, with longer words and a bit more obscure words. Now, not every “real” word is solution word though; so, as it stands, one may have to cycle through several sets to get to the right word. Some non-solve words yield points too, and also help to fund the extra words meter, which, when it hits a particular threshold, adds points too. There is a hint button for especially tough situations, but it has a cost… you guessed it: the points we have been talking about. The game also has an “ask friends” tool and a shuffle button; the latter helps untwist the mind.

All in all, the simplicity makes it a tough game to put down, as it’s easy to keep on going. It could probably use time trials perhaps, but as is, it is a veritable bag of fun.

OffRoad US Army Transport Sim Review

OffRoad US Army Transport Sim Review

Apr 30, 2017

Like a challenge? You might wanna check out OffRoad US Army Transport Sim.

The core idea is to help our folks in the army to be all they can be by serving as a transport driver: here, using all manner of vehicles to lug all manner of gear from point A to point B.

The vehicles run the gamut, from relatively itsy bitsy 4 wheelers to massive trucks. The idea is to use the virtual controls to steer the vehicles along windy roads better suited for roller-coasters, and get the endpoint in one piece.

Easier said than done, no?

Our first task was a commodity laden flatbed big rig. This allowed us to check out the controls: gas and break/reverse plus left and right buttons. Controlling the vehicle with the selection is fairly intuitive, and the game mechanism accounts for momentum adequately. Then, it’s off to get out of the base and onto the roads.

The game visuals are somewhat bleak and desert-y, with high unpaveed roads that are quite narrow with matching cliffs. Navigating these is hard, but hey, watch out for the oncoming vehicles that seem to have a propensity for driving on the wrong side of the road. The turns are sharp, and remember that bad accidents cause the stage to be failed.

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Did we mention the time limits? Yes, you can’t just gallivant on the roads all day. Got to there quickly, people.

Successfully getting the job done opens up new stage — with a new challenge.

Now, what makes the game fun is the diversity of vehicles plus the efficacy of the controls. Against the backdrop of the scarily windy untarred roads, it makes for an interesting adventure that seemingly escalates with every completed stage. The graphical representation does act wonky in places, and the contact physics leaves something to be desired, but the controls work quite well… challenging, but consistent.

Altogether, it’s an engaging experience, simple enough to mostly make one ignore its quirks.

Nonstop Chuck Norris Review

Nonstop Chuck Norris Review

Apr 30, 2017

Seriously, it has that name in the title.

Need we say more? Nonstop Chuck Norris has familiar pedigree and only the most exceptional man in the world in its title. We had to check it out.

If it feels familiar — more than a little bit — give yourself a pat on the back; two claps if it invokes Nonstop Knight from the memory banks. Yes, this one runs like a newer iteration of the prior flaregames hit, except with the king of, well, all things action is the main character.ncn3

The gameplay is fairly easy, and again, identical to Nonstop Knight. Good ol’ Chuck runs through some sort of building, from top to bottom (floor to floor), taking on hordes of baddies intent on doing him harm. This is Chuck Norris though, and all one has to do is to keep him upgraded well enough to take on the insatiable enemies, as well as to unlock and execute special moves when necessary.

After the spectacle of a smilingly maniacal Chuck

A good part of the game is doing the aforementioned upgrades with the collected gold. As Chuck Norris does his dispatching, it makes sense to continually update the attributes (lethality, defense, etc) so as to better equipped to deal with the increasingly powerful enemies. As noted, the action just keeps on and on, and the player’s job is to essentially ensure Chuck’s lifebar stays as high as possible.

The ability to pick when you want to take on a boss is pretty interesting, as it allows the player to amass as much “power” as possible before taking the bad guy on. I also like the Chuck Norris facts that are spewed all over the place; they help the game maintain a comedic feel.

Altogether, it’s a fine game, and it’s free-to-play presentation makes it relatively risk-free.

CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars Review

CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars Review

Apr 29, 2017

I’m fairly confident hitting up a ZeptoLab offering practically unseen; we have been keeping an eye out on CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars, and now that’s it’s out, we had to go for a formal look-see.

SO, first, this one simulates 1v1 arena battler, pitting you, the player against a series of enemies in different modes. Toss in crafting and an a simple upgrade process, and we just might have a winner.

From a visual perspective, this one is a feast; we get a vibrant pallet of colors, with cute characterizations (including animals, yay) and whimsical animations. It has a playful feel that does lend to the gameplay.

The game leads us through the basics. As noted, it culminates in an arena, and you start out with a basic machine composes of different parts: a frame, front wheel, back wheel, weapon and the like. The core pieces added together create a numerical value which shows how powerful the bot is.

Being powerful is great, but engineering plays a role in bot efficacy; attaching the right, say, weapon at the right point might turn the tide, even against an otherwise stronger opponent. Heck something as initially seemingly benign as the shape of the vehicle can be a huge advantage in battles.

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And then the fighting itself… now, there are different modes to get involved in, but the core idea remains take on an opponent and win for goodies. Now the goodies and parts won can then be used to upgrade one’s vehicle to be more effective.

Actual fighting requires no input from the players; build the best bot you can, and let it play out.

The crafting element is a good part of what makes this game tick; it encourages creativity with limited resources. Continually making one’s bot stronger is a very necessary, as the enemies get tougher, and some are very interestingly put together.

It’s a fun game, with a simple premise and a reasonable measure of complexity too. All round fun.

Causality Review

Causality Review

Apr 24, 2017

Simple puzzle games are always potential charmers, and Causality is a new-ish one we couldn’t turn away from.

To start out, the gameplay shows up as being relatively easy. You, the player, take control of an astronaut stranded on a weird world, and look to get him to safety.

But these are very, very weird lands. Weird creatures, landscapes and such, but especially weird happenings: multiple instances of self that the player comes across while traversing the playing area, and the ability to go back and forth in time.

The multiple instances manifest as several astronauts, which start to appear after the first few cursory, introductory levels. The main idea is to guide the astronaut along the tricky squared path to an end square, at which point the level ends.

Soon, one has to deal with the first “extra” astronaut; with the use of the direction buttons, one can play around with which path to make them take. Solving the puzzles sometimes means getting to a button which opens a path, and then figuring out how to double back to get to the endpoint.

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The game also makes use of time limits, so doing solving before time runs out is key. If failed, one can reverse time to try another sequence of movements.

The game goes on and on, gradually increasing in difficulty, with more space gear-clad pieces making their way onto the playing area. The main goal remains; get the different colors from point A to the color-matching end square, avoiding all obstacles in the way.

If it feels a bit like the Go series of games, the familiality will be delightfully excused; the time manipulation concept works well to create interesting solutions. Because of the design, one is also able to correct mistakes at the point of creation, and also play around with different paths.

It plays as easy as itis to get into it, and has plenty of levels available.

Justice League Action Run Review

Justice League Action Run Review

Apr 24, 2017

As DC looks to close the mindshare gap between it and the other guys, consumers have been blessed with all sorts of content, especially movies. With those movies (and the burgeoning DC/Justice League Universe), ge get the almost ubiquitous movie tie-in mobile games.

Like Justice League Action Run, based off of the team and Cartoon Network show Justice League Action.

No mystery here… it’s a three-laned runner, yes, but looks to step beyond that simple descriptor with a bunch of enjoyable gimmicks.jlar3

At the beginning, the game leads you on a learning journey. Pick your noble champions from a stable that includes the Man of Steel, the Dark Knight, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Firestorm. But wait… you get to pick three stars for each run? Interesting. Yes, each hero has cool abilities, and it’s possible to “switch” during a run.

The runs themselves are fun to get into, and the missions help spice up the familiar fare. One mission might be to collect items with a time trial, another to “follow” a baddie fir a set distance without getting tripped up. As hinted at, there are special powers that can be triggered, and there are several times it pays to be aware of a changing perspective.

Sometimes, the hunter becomes the hunted…

New characters can be unlocked, there are boosts, leveling and challenges. The game even tosses in boss fights for good measure.

Visually, the game does a good job of bringing Metropolis, Gotham City and Darkseid’s fiery Apokolips to life, with the characterizations being

Now, the game mostly manages to avoid the trap that most three-laned runners seem to fall in: swiping around, over and beneath obstacles has been done so frequently and so well that it’s stuff to set a game apart from the crowd. The elements in Justice League Action Run aren’t necessarily genre-defining, or unique, but they are placed well together, and feel almost natural in the DC Universe that the game is immersed in.

Mini Metro Review

Mini Metro Review

Apr 24, 2017

If I were to list some of the things that I find awful, trains would come near the top. They’re a mode of transport that doesn’t offer freedom and instead requires that you follow a rigid path through cramped tunnels and they only turn up when they want to. Imagine if your car refused to drive on anything other than the A13 and would only operate between the hours of 9am and 11pm. You wouldn’t stand for it, would you?

Anyway – my dislike for trains has been clearly noted and it’s only made it into this review to make the following statement even more impactful. Mini Metro is a game about operating trains and I think it’s outstanding. So there.

Some more detail, then. Mini Metro is something of an arcade puzzle game. The puzzle is that you’re looking at a map with train stations on it – much like the maps you’d see for London’s Underground service. These stations are all different shapes and soon you see they have passengers waiting at them. These passengers are also made of certain shapes which designates where they want to go. A small triangle waiting at the Square station simply means there’s someone who wants to go from the Square Station to the Triangle Station. Easy.unnamed-14

So you draw a line from one station to the next. The problem is that you have limited resources, such as tunnels, carriages and bridges. The arcade element comes with the pace of the game throwing new stations at you. The maps start off with 3 stations but very quickly you’re trying to figure out how to serve 20 stations of all varying shapes.

The trick is to try and figure out a sensible route for your trains to run, as customers will happily switch lines. What happens if you have too many people waiting at one stop though? What if 3 different lines all converge on one overcrowded station? It’s game over, that’s what.

The game will give you upgrades, such as faster trains, more carriages or more lines, but having these extra tools doesn’t always make your job easy. You still need to really think about just how to best serve your customers and just how overstretched one part of your train service is compared to other parts.

Each level does end in a ‘game over’ though, with the aim being to survive as long as you can. You need to transport as many passengers as possible and to reach a certain score to unlock the next level. However, even though each playthrough ends in a defeat of sorts, with you trying to best your previous score, it’s rare to feel angry at the game for causing your demise. 99% of the time you curse yourself for not changing the layout of your lines sooner, for not adding an extra carriage or for not noticing that a particular station was becoming too crowded.

There are the 1% of times, however, where you will feel slightly cheated by a sudden boom of popularity that simply couldn’t be predicted. These are few and far between though and what you have is a game that’s damn near perfect.

Mini Metro has sublime game design that has you cursing yourself, planning ahead and needing to react in the moment all at the same time. I hate trains. I love Mini Metro.


Real Baseball 3D Review

Real Baseball 3D Review

Mar 31, 2017

I know nothing about baseball. This still doesn’t stop me from realising that Real Baseball 3D is a bad baseball game. Someone who’s never seen a base nor a ball could tell you this.

The premise is simple. It’s baseball. When it comes to gameplay you’re only in charge of batting and pitching, with all of the fielding being taken care of for you. Occasionally you’ll be asked the question ‘do you want to steal a base’ or ‘do you want to throw to home or 1st base?’. Other than that, how successful your fielding is comes down to your player’s stats.

These stats are what the game’s all about. You collect cards which represent players. Each player will be rated on power, accuracy and the like. The game is set up in such a way that it obviously wants you to pay real money to get those better cards.unnamed-8

The problem is that pitching is boring and there’s little skill to it. You pick a type of throw, you aim and then you tap the screen when prompted to. Whether your AI opposition smacks the ball out the park or not is seemingly random.

Batting isn’t much better. All you need to do is tap the screen to swing your bat. Time it right and the ball sails away to get you a home run. Again, how the logic of this works out is unknown. Sometimes you’ll swear you timed your swing perfectly but, maybe, your AI pitcher has better stats than you so it means it goes straight into someone’s glove?

A massive problem with batting is that your swing occurs when you ‘release’ the screen. This means that your ‘tap’ feels delayed as it only starts animating once you lift your finger. Why on Earth it’s programmed this way, I have no idea.

Then there’s the adverts. There’s loads of them and they pop up right in the middle of a game. Seemingly random, some downs will end in an advert filling the screen whilst others won’t. Then there’s the messy menus to fight through all in the name of getting better stats so you can do ‘better’ in what is a really dull pitching and batting game.

There aren’t that many modes to enjoy either. You’ll spend most of your time improving your franchise but when it all boils down to playing a bad game of baseball, you’ll feel no desire to improve your team.

One last thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is the un-licensed nature of the game. It’s fine that you don’t have the MLB license, but have your game load with a poorly Photoshopped picture of the New York ‘Gibnts’. ‘Gibnts’ isn’t even a word and it makes no sense.

Shadow Mafia Gangster Fight Review

Shadow Mafia Gangster Fight Review

Mar 31, 2017

Gamgsters and stickmen? A match made in gaming heaven, perhaps?

We’ll see. Shadow Mafia Gangster Fight gives us a chance to check this amalgam.

It uses, well, stick figures for characterization, outside that, the 3D presentation is decently done.

The gameplay is broken down into missions; the intro mission kinda gives an idea of what you’re supposed to do: get briefed, and complete the mission. The controls are virtual in nature: spots for joystick generated motion, and others for attack, running, crouching, and the like. Missions include stuff like taking out spies, accosting LEOs, robbing banks and all sorts of illegal crime family fare.

The ability to attack from behind is interesting. It does allow for a bit of strategy to completing missions.

One key is learning when to go full out, and when to be slick. The enemy are somewhat smart, in that if one gets careless and is “noticed” by a sentry or target, said target/sentry might attack or flee, causing the mission to be failed.

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Failed missions can be re-done though.

It’s an interesting stealth mission adventure no doubt; I admit that some elements, like some choice of the targets, made me queasy. I mean, it’s a mafia game, and there can be no shortage of underworldly characters to fill out the list off baddies to leave the game early. Hey, I admit, I am a bit of a wuss in such matters.

Also, some of the visual tools could be a bit more refined to further help along the gameplay. For instance, the panning action would be a bit more effective with, say, an automatic portion I think.

All in all, it is a bit of an atypical gangster caper, and that helps it with regards to potential mindshare. In a crowded app market, that’s a great foundation.

N.O.V.A. Legacy Review

N.O.V.A. Legacy Review

Mar 31, 2017

Gameloft’s N.O.V.A. series has come quite far — so much so, that simply referring to it as a Halo clone feels unfair, given its longevity. In N.O.V.A. Legacy, we get to see the latest Android iteration of the first person shooter series.

Backstory: it’s the future, and humans have had to find places beyond earth (near orbital satellites) to live. New alien threats have also appeared, and forces like the Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance — yep, NOVA — are formed to protect humankind.

The player takes on the persona of Kal Wardin, a retired NOVA soldier called upon to figure out what has happened on the Colonial Pride Frigate.

The game comes forth in first person perspective, allowing the player to glean the action through the “eyes” of the screen. The main character is equipped with weapons, and the main idea is to advance to way points — in other words, finish missions and move on.

The first step is getting through the hands-on tutorial. We’re introduced to the invaded ship, and learn how to use the controls to effect sweeping vision and movement. Then, using the weapons provided plus reloading, and interacting with objects that allow for such.

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And taking on the ghastly Xenos bent on human destruction. Especially that.

Using simple touch controls, the player goes through the ship, looking for goodies and looking out for enemies combatants. The game utilizes sights, with which one can shoot the enemy; they fight back though, and some even use evasive moves to make them harder to hit.

This cover and shoot element goes both ways; it is a great tool for our hero. There are grenades, codes to collect and utilize, and even strategic decisions to make when dealing with waves of enemies.

After a level is complete, collected goodies can be utilized; the game incorporates a crafting element. The arena multiplayer part is the cherry on top.

Clue Review

Clue Review

Mar 31, 2017

When we a version of popular board game Clue on Google Play, we had to check it out.

The game starts out as one versed in the game would expect… with the selection of the character. the whole crew is present: Mustard, newish character Orchid, Scarlett, Green, Peacock and Plum. Then, one can pick other virtual players, and select the difficulty from three levels, ranging from easy to hard.

Then, it’s off to the game.

Yes, Boddy is our victim. The idea is to figure out the where, what and the who of the crime; this is done by deducing the cards in the solution envelope.clue3

The gameplay pits the player against the game UI, and one can select to against two or more virtual opponents. The virtual playing cards are set in their categories (Suspects, Weapons and Room), and one random card from each category is placed in the solution envelope. After this selection, the rest are dealt amongst the players. These animations are all performed at the onset, and is pretty nifty.

The game starts with the roll of the dice; this done by tapping the virtual pair. The idea is to get to rooms, and then “suggest” who did the deed, along with what weapon. The basic strategy from the “real” game remains: after each player’s suggestion, the successive player(s) has to show a card that is part of the current suggestion that is in his/her possession. The other players take relevant notes to narrow down the choices.

Here is where the arguably the biggest adjustment manifests. Instead of a physical note and pencil, the game utilizes an automatically-filled out digital form. This does make the game quite manageable, though it somewhat eliminates the game’s native charm.

And thus it goes, until the final guess is proffered. If successful, the player wins. If not, game over.

So… to the big question: how does it really compare to the physical board game? Quite well, actually. Anyone who has played the physical version should enjoy this. On the one hand, the lack of multiplayer is somewhat understandable but still pertinent.