Mobius Final Fantasy Review

Mobius Final Fantasy Review

Aug 23, 2016

I have to admit it. When I first saw the screenshots for Mobius Final Fantasy, I didn’t believe it’d look that good, let alone look that good on my crusty old phone. I was wrong. This will undoubtedly be the first thing you’ll likely notice about Mobius Final Fantasy. It looks brilliant and it’s beautifully animated too.

The game itself is both confusing and extremely straightforward at the same time. The bit that’s easy to get your head around is the fact that this is simply a set of battles, one after the other. There’s a map shown to you but there’s zero exploration as all you need to do is simply click on the next location you need to move to. It’s entirely linear and it’s only the animation that takes up the top of the screen that lets you know that your character is actually on the move.

What’s also easy to understand is the controls. To fight your opponents all you need to do is tap on the screen to do a normal attack and press a button to cast some magic. Dead easy.ff3

This is now where things get out of hand and the tutorial lets you down in a big way.

You see, Mobius Final Fantasy is actually all about collecting, fusing and levelling up cards in a deck. The cards you’ve got will dictate what type of fighter you are, a melee, ranged or magic user, they’ll dictate what spells you can cast and they’ll also decide what your summon attack is.

The thing is, there are so many stats to each card and so many ways you can build a deck it makes your head spin.

Each deck has to have a ‘job’ card, this can be levelled up to unlock more jobs, has status boosts and abilities that can also be unlocked on it. Each deck has to have a weapon, this will also boost stats and attacks and statuses. Each spell also has abilities, both passive and active that can be levelled up. You can fuse two cards together to make the levelling up process quicker. There’s also an ‘affinity’ system during battle that means you take less damage from those types of attacks. Using and ‘affinity’ spell will mean you’re less likely to receive seeds of that type. Seeds are used to cast spells but only spells of that type of seed. Before you go into battle you can ‘rent’ a card. This is a card that is owned by another player and by fighting with it you gain experience for that card. This is good for the other user because they can be offline and have people level up their cards for them.

That giant paragraph I just wrote? It seems like total nonsense to me and I wrote it. Lord only knows how you feel.

So this is the major problem with Mobius Final Fantasy. It’s a bunch of systems built on systems with other systems that support it. Fuse this, rent that, meld them, collect these, pick up shards of the other… it’s too much for what is essentially a game that requires little skill.

Maybe you’ll enjoy building decks but the only thing that changes after you’ve spent hours in confusing menus with confusing systems is the fact you get to see larger numbers appear over a monster’s head. It’s so much work to play and to understand and not much fun to play. A visual spectacle that dazzles before the gameplay itself confuses. You can always press the ‘Auto’ button, whereupon the game literally plays itself. At least it seems to understand its own rules.


Dropsy Review

Dropsy Review

Aug 23, 2016

Some games take very little explanation – ‘hit the ball’, ‘cross the road’, some are pretty simple. Others, like Dropsy, need a little bit of a set-up. Whilst the gameplay of Dropsy is straightforward enough, it’s a point and click adventure game, the story is pretty unique.

You control the titular Dropsy. He’s a clown who has a somewhat terrifying appearance, with a bald head, permanently applied make-up, missing teeth and a body that seems to resemble more water-balloon than flesh. He’s a little unnerving to look at.

As if things couldn’t get worse for poor old Dropsy at the start of the game you’re shown that the circus tent he lives and works in burned down years ago, with his Mother and other townsfolk dying in the fire. Now he lives with his poorly Father and is ostracized by the outside world who believe the fire was his fault.

So this is Dropsy’s story. He wanders around the town looking to make people’s’ lives better, though they initially don’t trust him and don’t want anything to do with him. All he wants to do is give everyone in the town a hug (seriously, there’s a ‘hug’ button) but he’ll need to prove his worth first. Along the way Dropsy will acquire new friends, in the form of a dog a chick and a rat – with these little critters being controllable and allowing you to solve puzzles, such as climbing up a drainpipe, that Dropsy himself couldn’t do.unnamed-16

The puzzles are pretty simple, such as planting a new flower for the girl that’s crying over the fact her current flower has died. There’s no ‘click on everything’ nonsense that you usually get with point and click games. Interestingly, the game has no dialogue, either written or audio, as it conveys all of its messages through the use of symbology. It’s a system that works well and puts you in the oversized shoes of Dropsy, as he feels alienated and can’t communicate with people all that well.

The game is surprisingly focused, considering you’re never funneled through the game and are given a great deal of freedom. The developer calls it an ‘open worl point and click’ and whilst that’s a bit too bold of a claim, it’s fair to say there’s plenty of screens to walk through to see where they’re coming from.

One system that’s a little bit of a miss is the way the day passes. You see, as you switch from screen to screen, a clock of sorts ticks down. This means that each screen you visit has a day and a night version. This also means that the people you can interact with move from screen to screen as the day progresses. This can leave you confused and wandering around wondering where that one character has walked off to. It can also leave you with the situation where you need to ‘wait’ for the sun to set before you can actually get on with the game.

It’s a fairly minor gripe, in the grand scheme of things and considering all of the positives this game has going for it. The graphics, the animations, the music, the story, the characters – it’s all incredibly unique and ultimately sweet-hearted. It’s unlike any point and click adventure I’ve played before and I can’t recommend it enough.


Zootopia Crime Files Review

Zootopia Crime Files Review

Aug 23, 2016

Well, it is becoming tougher to find a major movie without a companion mobile game than with one. We are not complaining though; it is a fine way to increase potential engagement with regards to said movie, and everybody wins.

It is what it delightfully is.

Disney is an old-hand in this game, and brings us Zootopia Crime Files, a hidden object caper based on animated feature Zootopia.

The game itself pack in familiar characters, as one would expect, really. The opening sequences give us a front-hand view of the graphics and navigation mechanism: very bright visually, with plenty of perspective, plus text boxes to help move stuff along. The game also utilizes virtual buttons to instigate actions.

Without much ado, the game throws the player into it. A crime has occurred, and we have to solve it. Here, it pops towards its main job, which is to be a hidden object adventure. After a few helpers, one gets to look for objects — uh, clues — in an area represented by a still image.

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Simple taps retrieve the items, and finishing a stage earns one cash… more, based on speed and accuracy. There is also a hint system if one gets stuck. Retrieved items can be “analyzed” and information can be gathered for future use, such as to infer who did what when. New scenes are opened, and one can proceed on.

There is an energy requirement that can be overcome with patience or in-app purchase.

In games like this, the quality is all but determined by the way the objects are hidden. In this one, they puzzles are not very complex, which might be a function of the targeted demographic. The investigation aspect is fairly interesting, but seems bare-boned in parts.

Altogether, it’s a tidy entry, which is able o stand on its own, even while doing it’s source franchise good. It doesn’t tax the brain too much, and that isn’t neccessarily a bad thing.

LEGO Star Wars: TFA Review

LEGO Star Wars: TFA Review

Aug 18, 2016

Two things I hold dear: Star Wars and LEGOs. The former opened a world of imagination, and the latter gave me the tools to physically build it.

The continual amalgam of virtual LEGO characters and major franchises is almost always welcome, as is the new LEGO Star Wars: TFA, based off the latest Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens.

As with most LEGO-themed games, this one relies somewhat on the relevant source material to cobble together an adventure that encompasses more than one movie period. The imagery is quite LEGO-ey, with adjusted looks and interesting constructions. The animations are quite smooth, and the game does an engaging job of creating several different type of playing environments with the same template. It looks fun, relives the movies and pops visually.

Controls-wise, a simple gesture system makes things happen; a big part of the game is exploration and interaction. There are a lot of things to research, and this allows the game to take on a bit of an adventure path. Beyond the crafting aspect, one sees opportunities to battle enemies.

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If getting involved with movie characters is one’s thing, this game shouldn’t disappoint; starting with Poe, there are quite a few to invest in. I found the different type of fighting enjoyable. Dogfighting, gun battles and the like. Interestingly, there are new fighting mechanics included that further set this iteration apart from early stablemates.

All content isn’t available for free though; a paid All Season Pass unlocks everything, plus feature additions. The game is Family Library-eligible.

All in all, it should be a visual feast — even for folks who are used to LEGO entries. It doesn’t try to match the movie plot point for plot point, and I think that serves it well. It stands on its own, and that’s all someone can ask for.

Shadowverse Review

Shadowverse Review

Aug 15, 2016

A bugbear of mine is game reviews that rely heavily on simply comparing the game they’re talking about to another, more popular game. Sadly, there’s no way I can talk about Shadowverse without mentioning how much like Hearthstone it is.

Seriously. It’s really like Hearthstone. Really.

You have 3 cards to start with and you’re in a 1 on 1 fight. The fight progresses in rounds and in each round you’re given points to spend. The first round you can spend 1 point, the 2nd round you can spend 2… you get the idea.

These points are spent on playing cards. Cards that have been played are placed face-up in front of you. More powerful cards cost more points, so you’ll only be able to play them in the later rounds.unnamed-11

Cards have 2 values that are important when they’re in-play. A defense and an offense value, these two numbers represent how much damage the cards do and how much damage the card can take before they ‘die’ and are taken off the table. The aim for you is to attack your opponent, which is made harder by the fact that your opponents cards are trying to attack you too. Do you hit your target this turn, or should you remove some of their cards from the table, lest they hit you back?

Honestly, it’d be so much easier if you just went and played Hearthstone.

One thing that Shadowverse does that’s totally unique is an ‘evolution’ feature. In each battle you have 3 evolution points to spend. These allow you to evolve your cards which can result in better stats or entirely new abilities becoming active.

Much like Blizzard’s competitive card game, Shadowverse has a wide range of cards, all featuring exquisite art. There’s hundreds of the things for you to collect and building your own deck is a chance for you to create something that’s unique to the way you play. A lot of cards have abilities that suite one style of play over the other, though sometimes they’re written poorly and take a bit of trial and error before you fully understand how they work.

Another criticism would be that card’s stats aren’t clearly identifiable when you’re in the middle of a game. To be able to see what affects the cards have, what their attack and defence values are, you have to click on them. This might not seem like much, but when you’ve got 4 cards on the table and six in your hand, it can become confusing as you try and figure out what each card does and how they’ll affect each other.

One aspect that Shadowverse has over Hearthstone is the single-player offering. There’s a large number of characters to play as (each offering their own unique decks) and there’s fully voiced dialogue between each battle. The story is your normal fantasy nonsense of magic and evil, but it’s useful for players that want to learn how to play offline, rather than getting their decks kicked in.

Shadowverse is blatant in what it’s trying to do – copy Hearthstone. In fairness, it does this well. Whilst not offering too many of its own unique ideas, aside from the evolution feature, it’s well made and just as fun as Blizzard’s own.


Tiny Archers Review

Tiny Archers Review

Aug 15, 2016

No goblins allowed in Tiny Archer.

The game starts with aplomb, and Adam is a character that the game nudges one to pick. Our boy Adam happens to be the Guardian of the Northern Kingdom. We also learn that he is tasked with protecting the tower from dastardly goblins, and he accomplishes this task by keeping the monsters away with his rusty bow and arrows.

The shooting mechanism mostly defines the game. The archer is perched up high, arrow ready to fly, waiting on individual goblins to break into view on the right. The game utilizes an arcing line to show the arrow’s projected flight path; this can be adjusted by dragging a finger on the screen.

The interesting trick is not to just get the arrow to hit a stationary enemy, but to gauge its forward progress, such that one has to actually aim a few “game feet” ahead; when one gets it just right, it’s possible to kill or slow down an oncoming goblin. The built-in tutorial is helpful here, and practice makes perfect.

Headshots are especially valuable, and other hits generally reduce the monster’s lifebar. You can’t let a monster get to close, because the shooting angles become impossible when it get’s closer — too many monsters accumulating at the base of the tower means death to the defender. After a set number of incursions, the level is hopefully passed and goodies issued.

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As the game goes on (and XP increases), the enemies get tougher, and so do the weapons available. There are other archers that can be unlocked too. You can use boosts, and craft more weapons in between. Bosses, multiple incursion paths, enemy projectiles… yep, yep and yep.

The gameplay develops at a reasonable pace, with advanced weaponry mostly becoming available right in step with the arrival of tougher villains.The other elements aren’t too tough to comprehend, and the changes in pace help keep the concept somewhat evergreen.

The combination of graphics and shooting mechanism work well, and allow this title to live a bit beyond the confines of its genre.

Nonetheless, it is a tough genre to break into, and even with the engaging action mechanism, it might feel a tad monotonous after a while.

Nothing wrong with doing what it does well.

Fall Hard Review

Fall Hard Review

Aug 9, 2016

There will always be room for good arcade games. Games that offer and require no story, that don’t change with each playthrough. PacMan, Galaga, Super Crate Box – these games are always the same each time you pick them up and that’s just great.

Fall Hard is an example of this too. You play as a ball which desperately wants to fall to the floor. It’s like an inverse Doodle Jump, where you want to get to the bottom rather than reach the top. The game doesn’t score you on the distance you travel downards but instead gives you a point for each green square you hit. These green square bounce you upwards, but disappear as soon as they’re hit.unnamed-9

Easy, right? Well, it would be if it weren’t for the natural enemy of green squares, the dreaded red triangle. Red triangles will simply kill you on contact and end your run. Game Over. Here’s you score. Please try again.

So the game’s dead simple and the controls work well. Touch the left side of the screen to move left, right side of the screen to move right.

The visuals are striking, with a neon colour pallette and a cool looking CRT filter applied to everything. Audio is not much more than simple blips and bloops, though this plays into the hands of the ‘arcadey’ feel of the game.

The game’s real issue is with the ‘fairness’ of the game. With a title like Fall Hard, you’d expect there to be difficulty, however it seems to veer into the impossible on occasion thanks to the squares and triangle spawning randomly. Sometimes it will feel like you’re funneled into a trap, with a green square popping you up into a red triangle and offering you no choice but to get killed.

This might have been me being rubbish at the game. Perhaps my reactions were too slow, I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that I quickly stopped getting angry at myself and started blaming the game. It went too far and it became no fun. I put it down and only went back to it because I needed to write this review.

Most players will also find it difficult to come back if they’re not grabbed by the gameplay. This is because there’s little to unlock, except for some different looking circles. Aside from this there’s no change in the ‘enemies’ you encounter. You’ll always see red triangles and you’ll always score off of green squares.

Once you’ve played it the first time you’ll have seen everything. If the game feels fair to you, you might keep coming back to it. I, however, found Fall Hard to be more unfair than it was hard.

Suicide Squad: Special Ops Review

Suicide Squad: Special Ops Review

Aug 9, 2016

Summer is the season of the major motion blockbuster and — as an increasing norm — the major motion blockbuster companion mobile game. DC Hero spawns the anti-hero flick Suicide Squad, and from that, we get Suicide Squad: Special Ops.

Yes… the joy of living.

It action comes in first-person style, and landscape is how it is taken. The game is decidedly dark, with visual tools that give it a bit of an ominous look. Our three characters are easily identifiable: the keen-eyed Deadshot, the incendiary El Diablo, and the spooky Harley Quinn. Overall, the artwork and animations work well.

Each of our heroes has a representation of their telltale powers, and via use of cutscenes and an interactive tutorial, one gets to understand the basic idea which gets us here: the city is overrun by, uh, creatures, and the players job is to survive the wave of attackers and make progress.

The controls are pretty liberal: one side to swing the targeting module, and the other side moves the character. Shooting/attacking is done when the target has the movable sights on it and is close enough, so all one needs to do is be nimble enough to keep the baddies in front. The baddies do attack if they close enough, so it makes sense to keep them at arm’s length. One can select which hero to use every so often, and there is an opportunity cost associated with such a choice.

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There are checkpoints and ammo depots and health packs to pick up; at certain junctures, one might be invited to upgrade an attribute which makes battling easier. There is plenty of city space to check out as well.

It’s all about survival.

It’s a simple, energetic romp, one which boils down to a first-person wave shooter; it has the benefit of having relevant characters, easy-to-understand gameplay, and the current movie tie-in definitely doesn’t hurt. It manages to squeeze in a usable task, a replenishment system, RPG elements… and more.

In some aspects though, it might be short of fulfilling. While it has the benefit of diving right into it, folks looking for a bit of a tangible backstory might be a bit miffed. The targeting system feels a bit rudimentary at times, and the controls could be a bit more reactive in the combat scenes.

The timing is great, and in the end, that’s the biggest asset; it looks to be a veritable companion game, and we won’t — can’t — complain about that.

RIVAL FIRE Review

RIVAL FIRE Review

Aug 8, 2016

When it comes to RIVAL FIRE, one isn’t left to guess what it is about for too long.

At it’s core, it incorporates the tried and true cover system style of gameplay. The player joins a team, and in its basest form, looks to take on waves of opponents while alternating shooting with ducking behind cover to prevent instant destruction.

The game helps one along to begin with, with plenty of vivid action. It starts sedately with target practice, which gives a crash course on how to use the bank of virtual touch controls nestled at the bottom of the playing area: firing, assorted weapons, ducking, darting, swinging view and the like. The controls feel easy, and make sense; the visual presentation works well. The game has 4 modes (Campaign, PVP, Survival and Co-op). Some are level-dependent, but Campaign opens up right away.

The action unfolds gradually, with the real action starting with relatively genteel enemy waves. The first few fire at one’s character, as one would expect, but as one goes on, the attackers get craftier and more varied. Soon, one encounters stuff liked lobbed grenades, which force one to use the aforementioned to dart. Snipers make an appearance too, along with transport vehicles and airborne enemy.

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Success boils down to quick reactions: evaluate risks, shoot, duck, move and shoot some more. After a successful level, one garners game cash, which can be used to upgrade equipment and attributes, as well as XP.

Frankly, in the cover system genre, it can be a bit hard for a game to set itself apart; the segment is well explored, and there are more than a few iterations across platforms. RIVAL FIRE has an understandably familiar feel to it, but is still able to be a bit different when it comes to its use of angles to advance the gameplay.

The menu system feels somewhat cumbersome and even busy at times; the leveling concept could be simpler.

On the other hand, the gradual buildup does continually whet one’s action appetite, and the other modes (yes, PVP) are excellent variations.

Tap my Katamari Review

Tap my Katamari Review

Aug 8, 2016

I’ve never hidden the fact that Katamari Damacy is one of my favourite games of all time. I’m also a pretty big fan of ‘clicker’ games. With this in mind you’d think that Tap my Katamari, which is a ‘clicker’ based on Katamari would be perfect.

Sadly it’s not.

The basics are as follows. On the screen you’ll see the Prince of the Cosmos. He’s rolling a ball, except it’s not a ball. It’s a sticky sphere called a Katamari. By rolling over items that Katamari picks up said items and eventually grows in size. This is the aim of the game, to grow your Katamari to gargantuan sizes. You’ll start by rolling up thumbtacks and before you know it you’ll be grabbing cars, buildings and eventually entire planets.unnamed-5

With each tap of the screen you prince moves forward, with a distance gauge showing you how close you are to picking something up. So you tap on the screen and pick things up, with each item dropping money. Money is spent on hiring your ‘cousins’ and they’ll earn money for you whilst the game’s closed. On top of this your cousins provide you with a boost so that each tap moves you forward further and quicker.

The problem here is that with most ‘clicker’ games you make progress when the game is closed. In Tap my Katamari you make progress to a degree, with money being earned whilst you’re away. This money can then be spent on upgrades, which is fine and makes future progress quicker. This means that if you return to the game after time away, you have a bunch of money and can now supercharge your Katamari. You’re now stuck having to tap away on the screen to pick up items. As no items were picked up during your absence no progress has actually been made.

On top of this lack of real progress whilst away there’s some real peaks and troughs to the distance required between items. You’d think that items would be harder to pick up (further away) as you progress through the game. However, some items are exponentially tougher to pick up, then you’ll have a very short distance and the sense of progression makes little sense.

Also, there’s 3 abilities you have to make tapping a little more interesting. You can use a ‘super-charge’, which gives you a one off boost of distance. Then you have an automatic clicker and finally you have a money boost which spits out coins for each tap.

These 3 abilities are fine but limited. Other clicker games have all manner of upgrades and abilities to unlock but Tap my Katamari has only 3, all of which will be unlocked on the first day of play.

It’s shame that this unbalanced and lacking clicker has such a great look and sound to it. The Katamari series has always had outstanding music and this one’s no different, but when the best thing about your ‘clicker’ game is its soundtrack, something’s gone wrong.


Ghostbusters: Slime City Review

Ghostbusters: Slime City Review

Aug 2, 2016

We can always be thankful towards the Ghostbusters franchise for a lot of things — Aykroyd and Murray together, hearst-like work vehicles, and new jack swing hits by Bobby Brown (in his prime, no less) etc. — and with the current-ish reboot that is out now, we can almost expect a few companion games to make the round.

No sweat… anything that gives us an opportunity to hum the iconic theme is good with us. Here goes Ghostbusters: Slime City.

At first glance, it feels as though the game adopts the zany character of its source material. It just looks cheerful, right from the start, with an un-serious look buttressed by bright colors and engaging animations. The action sequences are designed to stop you from nodding off, and it mostly works.ghost3

And then, there’s the actual action. No slagging off here, as you are almost literally tossed directly into battle. The controls are intuitive enough, with tapping and dragging being the main thing to do. Between conversation bubbles and narratives that help move the gameplay along.

Of course, dealing with ghosts that are harassing the city is the main thing to accomplish. As you play along, jobs become available, and it starts out being a war of attrition: take out or capture the otherworldly cretins before they take you out. The player’s main weapon is the iconic proton lasers, and the player’s character wields, tapping enemy to direct its output (or, alternatively, dragging to deposit the baddies in safe). Do well, and the not only will you survive, but you’ll earn game cash and other valuable goodies along with XP.

The crafting element is an interesting angle; you can make your own proton packs with the use of garnered pieces. Eventually, the goal is to win back the city, building by building, in the face of more and more nefarious foes and bosses.

In some aspects, it feels as if the game relies a bit too much on it holding franchise. It’s hard to shake the feeling that the game could be a bit more rounded. The level-centric co-op mode is fun, as is the leaderboard, but some cushioning sections might have brought some diversity to the gameplay.

Still, it’s pretty hard to dislike, and comes together nicely, while doing what it does pretty well.

And it will make you question who you’re calling.

NBA Live Mobile Review

NBA Live Mobile Review

Jul 28, 2016

NBA Live Mobile. From Electronic Arts.

Yes, we’re on board.

This one is brightly done, with sharp colors and fine animations. Menus are visually descriptive, and the players generally conform to real life sizes and facial appearances. EA has a reputation in design, and mostly lives up to it here.

Off the bat, it’s important to note that this isn’t one’s usual basketball simulation; it doesn’t have current-ish NBA rosters in place for players to select a familiar and/or favorite team from. It isn’t really a management strategy game either, as there isn’t a traditional salary cap to contend with.

Instead, it’s more like a multi-mode sports RPG with NBA players in the mix, remixing teams from the start. After selecting a franchise, one gets a bunch of players divvied up into a few “lineups” with unique abilities.
Adding in Zach Lavine for the dunking lesson is savvy, as is tossing in Steph Curry for the special abilities tutorial.

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One can get into game challenges, or look to go against other folks, or engage in a seriously abbreviated season; mostly, he goal is to win resources and unlock players. Then, with some savvy trading and acquisitions, one can build a super team of sorts.

The action segment is fairly well done; it goes 5v5 with current players in one’s lineup, and onscreen virtual buttons control the movements and actions of the players. There are a set of defensive actions, and when possessions change, one gets

Ah, but just when one gets into it, one has to deal with the energy requirement. Be if far from us to complain about monetization, but this one sorta creeps on one, what with the use energy buckets to get things rolling, redoing a challenge can be costly. There are ways to get refills, and one can use real money to supplement.

The game does a feel a bit busy in sections, and the aforementioned energy requirement might deter one from simply playing. The play rules are fairly loose, so basketball purists might balk at some elements as well.

As noted, for a folks looking for a realistic sim akin to the console titles, this one probably won’t cut the mustard. If one is able to see it for what it is meant to be — a management/building game with familiar names as the pieces — it isn’t too bad of an experience.