Island Delta Review

Island Delta Review

Feb 28, 2017

It’s time to get to Island Delta.

The game itself is presented in expansive top-down view, such that the simple touch controls easily guide the characters through simulated roofless buildings. The color is well done, and the animations quite smooth.

The leading narrative is dastardly indeed. Zoe is our main protagonist, and she is working on an exciting mechanical development. Unfortunately for her, mad scientist Gunderson takes a shining to her invention, and steals it with the help of a lobbed grenade. Zoe embarks on a trip with trusted friend Baxter to Gunderson’s lair to retrieve her stuff.

Simple backstory aside, this one gyrates into action immediately; the game gives pointers in the early going to help move things along. You, the player, take charge of Zoe (who is armed with a nifty gravity tool), and then look to make it from Point A to Point B in a series of levels.

Now, as one would expect, making if from the starting point to the the exit of each level isn’t as easy as walking in a dainty, straight line; there are interesting obstacles in the way. These obstacles are fairly interesting and varied, ranging from human to humanoid to whimsically evil (weaponized crab-like robot for the win). At the risk of playing spoiler, I especially liked — despised, really — the rotating gun, because it added an interesting challenge.

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Through it all, the player is tasked with solving procedural puzzles, while collecting important data while avoiding and/or destroying sentries. The puzzles usually involve getting doors to open so as to move on, but might entail doubling back to get to something missed or recently unveiled.

The gameplay is simple, and the challenges competitive enough to keep interest piqued; it all comes together quite nicely.

As intuitive as the the touch controls are, this is definitely one game that I hope the developer does see fit to add gamepad support to; it could do fairly well casted to bigger screens.

For a one-time premium price, Island Delta just about feels like a seal. Rare in this day and age.

Terra Tank Review

Terra Tank Review

Feb 28, 2017

We’ve been keeping an eye on Terra Tank, and now that it’s been officially unleashed on Google Play, we got our hands on it.

Yep.

Terra Tank does a good job of creating a visual pop. It makes use of several different backgrounds, and the animations manage to be relatively smooth. Flashes of color are especially potent, and these deliberate touches allow the gameplay to really come forth.

The action is taken in in top-down perspective, which allows the player to absorb the action in landscape orientation.

In practice, the game is quite easy to enjoy and get into. As noted, you control a terrestrial tank, and the core idea is to take on enemies that are approaching with hostile intentions. Additionally, the secondary goal is to pick up enough goodies to refuel the ship so as to be able to fly away.

To play, one needs to get acquainted with the controls. Two main ones rule the roost: a movement button and a directional shooting button; both are virtual in nature. Now, used in conjunction with each other, it’s possible to move around and shoot at incoming enemies in a complete circle.

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As soon as the action starts with the ship touching down, the tank is dispatched and one is simultaneously on the offensive and defensive. Beat back the attackers, and get fuel. As one goes on, there are power-ups to collect and so on, but the main idea is to finish the level by refueling the ship.

The game provides two difficulty levels.

Terra Tank is an enjoyable time waster, and maybe — just maybe — even more. The changing backgrounds blend well with the gameplay, and the simplistic concepts are quite becoming in practice. It doesn’t do too much, and it comes together well.

The one-time pricing is definitely a positive.

Mysterium: The Board Game Review

Mysterium: The Board Game Review

Feb 28, 2017

Digitized board games can be loads of fun, and are the perfect complement for an increasingly mobile existence. Few entities do it better than Asmodee, and the publishers ever-swelling stable of games is good for Android users.

It’s latest project is one we’ve been keeping an eye on for some time; Mysterium is an engaging board game in its own right, and we are eager to see how it translates to handheld.

The gameplay comes in a few flavors; at the onset, the game itself highly suggests for the player to get acquainted with Story Mode.

The game’s underlying story is set in Scotland in the 1920s. After numerous gruesome murders, someone is arrested, but after several more murders are committed, yet another perpetrator is apprehended.

Both claim no memory of the actual crime.

A local psychic is intent upon figuring out what otherworldly forces might be at play, and calls on a few psychic colleagues for assistance.

That is our setting, and the game proceeds thus.

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The visuals fit well. Graphically, the game isn’t overly serious, and is willing to use whimsical depictions to give characters life. It uses popups to help move the gameplay along, and there is an ethereal, almost ghostly feel to the game, which is entirely appropriate.

This a card game, and it involves making educated guesses based on communication from a ghost; as such, it incorporates murder mystery elements. One might be forgiven for seeing some parallels with Clue, but this one is very, very far from a clone. One looks to decipher things like location, tool, weapon etc, and to add to the challenge, there are time limits involved.

After some (hopefully) shrewd guessing, one gets to “solve” the case… and move on.

Not bad.

The game also includes solo play and a multiplayer option.

It comes together surprisingly well, and is great for short bursts or extended play periods. It is engaging enough to not need the physical game to create fans, and that’s saying a lot.

Gravity Duck Islands Review

Gravity Duck Islands Review

Feb 21, 2017

It’s a rough and tumble world, and plenty of mobile games that mimic it. Battling, strategy… heck, even simulated “reality” games. Pick your poison, eh?

Still, there are times when we all wanna just be like the Commodores on a weekend day… this one just about gets you hummin’.

At first rip, Gravity Duck Islands looks and feels like your regular platformer. The cavernous pathways, gaps to jump and the the like allow it feel familiar out the gate; the core idea, presented in leveled fashion, is to avoid all the potential stoppers and get from the entrance door to the stage-ending exit.

The obstacles start out being relatively easy, and start getting harder by type and manifestation: endless gullies, good old lethal spikes, animals and more. To navigate his, first, we have a the ubiquitous jump button; there is also movement buttons that allow you to control the left/right movement of our protagonist duck. Running with the jump button creates a leap and all that hood stuff.

But the main gimmick in this game is the gravity button. This allows the player to literally simulate the reversal of gravity — the ground becomes the ceiling and vice versa. Now, it’s a fine tool from the get-go, as it becomes apparent from the first level that it is impossible to move on without looking to switch perspective and path to a fixed piece of play area.

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And the challenge then becomes timing jumps, gravity swaps and avoiding obstacles, while collecting collectibles and moving on. As you move on in the game, you will discover that our traveling duck does have a few more tricks up it’s wing feathers, like the ability o engorge itself with air like a balloon, and a funky teleporting skill.

It comes together fairly nicely, and overall, it’s a relatively enjoyable experience. premium, one-time pricing with no ads is the cherry on top.

Fire Emblem Heroes Review

Fire Emblem Heroes Review

Feb 20, 2017

Nintendo are under some serious scrutiny with their foray into the mobile game scene. Most other publishers can fart out a Flappy Bird clone and no one would think twice but this is Nintendo. Ninty. The House of Mario. Big N. They have standards and a reputation to keep (and a new console to launch) so it’s important that they do things right.

Miitomo aside and ignoring Pokemon GO (which they didn’t make), Fire Emblem Heroes is Nintendo’s first ‘proper’ game to launch on Android (Super Mario Run, where are you?). I’m pleased to say that it’s a success in many, many regards yet it also shows a naivety towards the mobile gaming scene in how it handles IAPs.

Before I get too ahead of myself, let’s explain what Fire Emblem Heroes is. Well, it’s a turn-based strategy game based on the hugely popular Fire Emblem series. Never heard of Fire Emblem? Well, that’s on you – because it is hugely popular. Honest.

The scenario is pure fantasy, dragons and magic fare. Fire Emblem games often boil down to wizards and kings becoming evil or fighting evil or wanting to be rulers of evil. So the story’s not important in the Fire Emblem world, what is important is the mechanic of how you build up an array of characters to go into battle with.

You see, the Fire Emblem games are filled with hundreds of unique characters and the thing that makes Fire Emblem stand out is that these characters can die. Die, die. As in the ‘this character got killed and we know you spent 20 hours leveling her up but she’s dead’ kind of die.

Pretty savage.

Now, Fire Emblem Heroes does away with the ‘proper dead’ mechanic but it is full of the titular heroes and more heroes are being added through updates. Not only has the Fire Emblem’s death mechanic been softened but so has everything else. Console Fire Emblem games can have sprawling battle maps and have you take a large number of units into battle.unnamed-2

Fire Emblem Heroes strips all of this back and has you take only 4 characters into the fight, with the battlefield being a single screen map. This works really well though, as it means that battles are over within a couple of minutes. The combat also has a fairly simple ‘rock-paper-scissors’ strength and weakness system involving spears, swords and axes. It’s straightforward but it’s fast-paced and really enjoyable.

What’s a bit of a let down is the IAPs and the rest of the systems that exist outside of battles. The issue is that there’s shard, crystals, feathers, orbs, dueling swords and a stamina bar to keep track of. It’s more convoluted than it needs to be and it makes levelling up your character more of a pain than it needs to be.

The IAPs need to be called out in particular as they are such a miss it’s unbelievable. Essentially, the only thing you can buy in this game is ‘orbs’. These orbs are used to summon new heroes and they’re the key to getting your favourite characters from previous Fire Emblem games into your party. It takes 5 orbs to summon a character and it costs £1.99 for 3 orbs. 3 orbs are practically worthless. They can’t be used for anything good, so it means that, at a minimum, you’re going to spend £4 just to get a new character, at random.

When you take into consideration the chances of getting a good character (4 stars or better) are 43%. This is an absolutely shocking value proposition, so it’s handy that the game dishes out tons of orbs for completing missions. Which then leaves you wondering just how Nintendo plan on making money off this thing? Who’s buying these orbs?

Obviously someone is – with reports that the game’s already made over $5 million since launch. Still, that’s a topic for another time. This is a review and I’ve got to say I’m impressed with the game. It’s bitesize fighting with just enough tactical challenge.


Raft Survival Review

Raft Survival Review

Feb 20, 2017

Survival is the name of the game in Raft Survival.

The game starts with a bit of dramatic flair; you, the player, comes to on a raft. In the middle of endless ocean, no less. The entire world is taken in in first person perspective. The way the distance blends into fog is well done, and the water and wooden floating structure play the role of central characters rather amiably.

The game doesn’t do much by way of introductory pointers, but a lot of it is intuitive. A lot of debris (wood, grass, metal (yes, metal) and barrels float by; in your inventory, there is a hook. The beginning idea is to use the hook to drag in the floating materials. Why, you ask? To craft other valuable tools, of course.

The barrels are the great catches, as they carry a lot of goodies. When enough stuff is procured, when can ten make stuff like fishing rods, water purifiers, axes, and more to make one’s lonesomeness a bit more palatable.

The idea is to build, stay alive and avoid the gruesome-looking shark. Staying in the water too long is deadly, as is, say, not replenishing the drinkable water quickly enough. With a bit gumption, the goal is buid an ocean house with walls, windows and even floors, and to eat and drink. And thwart the shark.

It is is an interesting idea, and comes together relatively well — ocean survival, in essence.

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To be fair, there are plenty of games with this general concept, and with good reason: it’s a fun, waterborne survival adventure. Still, this particular one has some interesting quirks that hold it back a bit.

There are some graphical occurrences that defy the laws of physics, and there are other visuals that twist the imagination somewhat. Then, there are a few glitches, like not being able to switch tools, or a particular one not working as intended.

My biggest whine is the absence of of a tutorial. Now, I actually don’t mind exploring games on my own, and this one certainly lends itself to that, but I think it would be helpful to have one in this particular game. The trailer (below) is okay but hardly sufficient.

And then… those ads, sir. A premium ad-free unlock would be dearly welcome.

All in all, it still manages to be a fun diversion. It’s a simple crafting adventure, and doesn’t try to be too much more — to its credit.

War Wings Review

War Wings Review

Feb 20, 2017

When it comes to action games, few genres beat the trusty aerial shoot-em ups. In any case, we still want to be wowed, so Sixjoy’s new game War Wings does have a lot to live up to.

Yep, it’s a slick affair from a visual, uh, point of view; the presentation is well done, with a great use of color. The animations really bring the game to life, and the accompanying sound is excellent.

To start out, you get to pick from a, well, lowly rated plane; the game then takes you in on a hands-on tutorial. This tutorial is helpful with regards to using the controls (the game allows the player to pick tilt, virtual buttons or external bluetooth controller). After that, it leads you on a couple of game-like missions.

Beyond the training, the actual gameplay comes in three more flavors: multiplayer, season and a challenge mode. For the most part, the action boils down to a lot of dogfighting; in the multiplayer, one gets to play with other players in teams set via the game servers. It takes a while to get used to stuff, but it comes together well. Trying to shoot while being shot at is pretty fun.

One thing that makes the game enjoyable is the inclusion of different play modes; with this, you can become as involved as you like. Wanna quick shot? Here. Season action? Check. Training? Oh yeah. The game can be very involved, so it’s a good idea to serve up different servings of playable action.

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Another aspect I like is the control mechanism. The default is quite intuitive, and gives the game a degree of realism despite the simplicity. As noted, the action can be controlled in several ways, and the gamepad support is especially fantastic.

The upgrade aspect feels a bit busy, but again, it does help with the realism.

The IAPs weren’t too invasive; we were able to get plenty of play without spending real money. However, we did take advantage of some free goodies, and yes, the game does pick up a good deal with them.

Corpse Party BLOOD DRIVE EN Review

Corpse Party BLOOD DRIVE EN Review

Feb 6, 2017

We love our exploration games, and Corpse Party BLOOD DRIVE (from 5pb) is one we’ve been keeping an eye on.

It’s been two months since the “Book of Shadows” incident — for those keeping tabs on the storyline, this refers to the events Corpse Party Book of Shadows. Now, the player takes on the persona of our heroine, who has to return to a world with a familiar faces completely erased erased.

The visuals are an interesting blend: on the one hand, we get the anime characterizations and cutscenes that make it easy to delve into the game; on the other hand, the panicked splotches of blood (along with screamy outbursts) do make for an eerie counterbalance. Visually, it comes across as a horror experience that isn’t overly horrific at first.

The game controls translate well; it’s easy to figure out illumination and how to run. The game fits in pointers through the lengthy intro, so that when the action really starts, it’s easy to feel comfortable with the game mechanics.

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And lengthy the intro is. Wow. I caught myself wishing I could fast forward through the bulk of it. It does well to frame the action, but there is a lot of dead space.

The main action boils down to a lot of point and click action. The narrative is compelling, with plenty of apprehensive turns. The game does demand a bit of patience, and with this type pf game, that is perfectly okay.

It’s a great concept, but the connecting dialogue feels convoluted in parts; it is tough to pay attention to the side content while seemingly looking to move on in the game. The black scenes are great, but again, I feel a bit of moderation is what would make them resonate.

When it finally gets going, it does manage to keep one’s digits going, but the in-between grate on the nerves more than a bit. In the end, that’s what matters.

WWE Champions Free Puzzle RPG Review

WWE Champions Free Puzzle RPG Review

Jan 31, 2017

Truly, we didn’t know what to expect with WWE Champions Free Puzzle RPG. I mean, it’s WWE, so there’s going to at least be a suplex or two, no?

Ah… not so fast.

From looks standpoint, it has a bunch of comfortable characters. It isn’t too glitzy, and the stars themselves look a bit whimsical. The animations are decent, and the other visual pieces are quite well done. The game plays in portrait.wwe3

The game launches with The Rock — and, seriously, no one is better — leading the tutorial. You’re the team manager, and here’s the opportunity to lead WWE superstars to victory.

By now, you must have figured it out: this is a match-3 game. Come again? Yep, this is all about manipulating pieces for points.

The game leads you to a grid with gems of different colors. The idea is to, of course, make matches by gesture swap. Making matches dissolves the gems and yields power.

And here is where the main gimmick really reveals itself: the gems power WWE stars… wrestling WWE stars. Said fighters are above the grid of gems; every time you make a match of three (or more) horizontally or vertically, the star you are managing is able to perform some action against the opponent.

And then there are some special cases. Matching specific colors unleash specific moves. Combos are always great. There are special move cards that can be charged, and everything is geared towards dealing enough damage to be able to pin the opponent.

Now, a great element is the defense. When a pin is attempted, the defending wrestler gets three opportunities to match three gems to generate enough energy to kick out. If not, match is over.

The RPG part is pretty involved. Winning yields coin (and more, like more superstars and XP), and the game money can be used to improve one’s stars, which is important. There is a collaborative online mode, and other aspects that make the game fun.

There are opportunities to use real cash to expedite processes.

All in all, an engaging, atypical “wrestling” game. Not bad.

AB Blast Review

AB Blast Review

Jan 31, 2017

Alrighty, AB Bast is yet another Angry Birds game.

But can you blame them? The flippin’ green pigs just won’t stop.

The game should look familiar to anyone who has played a Rovio game — and at this point,who hasn’t? High definition graphics, liberal use of color and very whimsical characterizations. A lot of the constituents will be familiar too, which can be good or bad for some.

Controls? Taps just about all through.ab3

The main gist of the game is that the troublesome pigs are at it again; this time, they have trapped the birds in balloons. This translates to a portrait-orientation game, with a wooden frame housing balloons that are replenished endlessly from the bottom as some of them are popped.

Freeing the birds entails popping groups of multiple same colored adjacent balloons; one balloon can’t be popped, but at least two touching can. When they are popped, the birds physically fly out to freedom.

The first few levels are just about that: freeing the birds. The goal might be to,say, free 7 blue birds. Okay… did we mention that there is a move limit? Yes, you only get so many taps to get to the requisite 7 birds. The idea is to then tap groups (or, strategically pop others to manipulate such groupings) until the count meter is down to zero. In true Angry Birds fashion, we have the three-star scoring mechanism: completing with less taps is always good.

There are boosts to use,and as with other aspects, strategy comes in handy here.

As more levels are opened, the game does gets more complex — and more interesting. Soon, some of the elements from the original slingshot games (like crystal structures) make an appearance. Pigs? Yessir; there are levels where beating them up and defeating them by contact is the goal. These are pretty engaging.

In the end, AB Blast is a bubble popper. There is an energy requirement, but there are in-game tools (like video watching) that can help you avoid in-app purchases.

Pokémon Duel Review

Pokémon Duel Review

Jan 31, 2017

It’s a Pokémon world. You and I just live in it.

Yes, that insane Pokémon GO is still turning heads it seems, and on the heel of that, we should expect more games to take advantage of the mindshare. In Pokemon Duel, we get that: the lovable creatures set to a digitized tabletop game that is made for duels.

The true essence of Pokémon, no?

There’s backstory too. Look, you (the player) are taking part in the — wait for it — the “Pokemon Figure Game World Championship” at Carmonte Island. The grand prize? A skyscraper known as the Jewel Tower.pd3

The game has a tutorial that introduces folks the the gameplay basics and the visuals that make up the game. To begin, the games gives you a “Duel Set” (figures and plates) and a mask, and then walks you through a shadow match of sorts.

There are different gameplay modes: local multiplayer, online duels and even the ability to be a spectator at featured duels.

After the tutorial, the game is open for the taking. If you pick the online duel, the play opens up just as is shown in the tutorial: you get a set of Pokemon pieces and plates; the game selects an opponent, and the match is set.The main idea is to get to the goal of the opposing player before he/she/AI can do the same to you. Whoever gets there first wins the match and earns goodies and XP.

What makes it stand out is the nature of the gameplay; there is a decent amount of depth. It comes across as a less glamorous form of chess, and the ad hoc battling (involving spinning wheels and other elements) is a nice twist. Different pieces have different abilities, and the game adds in fusing and leveling. It does involve strategy, and the different modes help keep it fresh.

In retrospect, the tutorial feels detailed, but probably won’t be nearly enough to get a good understanding of the game. Thankfully, there is a training portal that uses challenges to help bridge the gap; the game becomes much more enjoyable much quicker with this.

If PVP is not you’re thing (or you’ve had enough of blasted rattatas), this one might fall flat. One can spend real money, but it’s possible to enjoy without.

Or… you could try this, bounce around the leagues and be a beast. Hey now…

RealMyst Review

RealMyst Review

Jan 30, 2017

Wow…

It’s a beautiful environment, distinctly island-y, with quiet paths,stone outcropping and interesting looking buildings.Go forward? Backwards?

Hmmm…

This is pretty much how realMyst, the classic PC-borne puzzle game, unveils itself on Android.

And yes, the visuals are the a great intro. The graphics do underscore the PC roots, with plenty of attention to detail in the varied environments. Sunlight cuts to darkness appropriately, and the fantastic objects almost adopt a ring of truth. The game is all about discovery and exploration, and the game eye candy is clearly privy to this. The game is taken in in first person, just as it is in the original iterations.

The default controls make use of touchscreens, and the in-game helper gets one going fairly quickly; in short order, one learns how to move forward, normally and at pace, as well as going backwards. Swinging one’s view up and down and from side-to-side is fairly intuitive.

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The action gets going. Immediately. Right from the start, the player is invited to move around, and interact with objects. Nothing is too obvious; one has to take in information, and look for patterns, and, every now and then, double back to find something missed. The puzzles are quite interesting; without playing spoiler, it pays to pay attention to shiny things and buttons. As already noted, exploration is the name of the game, and there are several mechanical solutions that become apparent when sequences are figured out.

It comes together quite well. It doesn’t deviate too far from the source ports, and the puzzles do provide a good deal of challenge. The combination of artwork and fantasy tales work well together, and the narrative is pretty decent. There are achievements to garner, and the game even packs an onboard guide (psst: if you get stuck, there are walkthroughs online. I think).

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Still, those controls probably could be tweaked a bit, and the unilateral nature of solving puzzles might be a bit of a drag.

Nontheless, this is a fun one. It is very easy to get into, and the relaxing nature of the game is a great draw.