Football Strike Review: “real” football on demand

Football Strike Review: “real” football on demand

Sep 21, 2017

Look, I love soccer. I coach it, still play it (somewhat, ha!) and watch it as much as I can. And with the major leagues back in full swing, I can do my commonwealth thing and enjoy referring to it as “real” football.

Yep, I was okay with formally checking out Football Strike – Multiplayer Soccer, a new one from Android all-star development house Miniclip.com. Very, very okay.

As one would expect from a Miniclip.com game, this one has high visual content. The soccer players, fs3containing environments and the like were all pretty well done, with matching sounds and effects that are equally of the standout variety. The animations work very well; ball flight and player movement look natural. The controls are intuitive, mostly consisting of free-screen taps and directional gestures.

The game plays in landscape, and this also works well.

The game tutor is front and center to begin. It starts out with a Shooting Race mode. Here, you learn the basics of shooting while racing against another character to smash through targets superimposed on the face of the goal for points. At the end of the allotted time, winner gets goodies. After working on that, you then get to try Free Kicks mode, which is fashioned after spot kicks. In this one, you go head to head with another player. You and your opponent alternate taking free kicks from different spots and controlling the keeper. Best of five, and again, winner get the jackpot.

After a particular player level is attained, Career mode is unlocked. This is a leveled adventure featuring different challenges, and you have to win to advance to the next one. The stuff here is inventive and familiar, featuring stuff already seen and a few new tricks.

The game also has a training section, and there are goodies that can be collected, and accumulated game cash can be used to procure better gear and such. Fun all the way round.

But alas, there is an energy requirement. This can be circumvented by real money.

Still, it is a worthy game, such that you don’t need need to be a soccer feen to enjoy it. You just might afterwards, though.

Mini Guns Review: the little guys wage war!

Mini Guns Review: the little guys wage war!

Sep 21, 2017

Off the bat, the biggest mistake you might make with new game Mini Guns is trying to fit it all into one tidy box.

It’s a fun looking game, with great use of color and great animations.

The hands on tutorial is just right with regards to getting acquainted with how everything works. Basically, you get two armies, and these armies are made up of miniature army pieces — whimsical yet deadly versions. Each piece has unique abilities… for example, an infantryman has a relatively low efficacy and defense, but can be deployed easy. A tank is relatively powerful, but requires a bit more to deploy.

So, when it gets going, you are pitted against an opponent, and the idea is destroy their home base before the opposing army can destroy yours. There are so many opportunity costs to consider. For instance, there are multiple buildings in addition to the base; do you go for those, or go straight down the gut trying to end a match by hitting the big stuff? Do you go at it with several small pieces, or wait for points to accumulate to attack with something bigger?

There are challenges, pieces can be upgraded, there are gift crates and one need not necessarily spend real money.

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This game excels in the way it brings together several different elements, and in how well it does so. The head to head battles are fun in and of themselves, but the minor piece of capture the flag adds to the enjoyment factor.

It also sneaks in some distinct tower defense aspects in the way one has to figure out a way to prevent one’s base from getting whacked. Of course, the fact that you simultaneously have to be on the offensive to win battles makes it that more engaging.

All in all, it plays well, and might even be more addicting than you might be prepared for.

Just as well.

Jump Ball Quest Review

Jump Ball Quest Review

Sep 20, 2017

If there is something we are always on the hunt for, it’s that perfect time filler. As such, we were happy to give Jump Ball Quest a go.

Visually, it isn’t overly aggressive, with a easy motif playful sound; it plays in landscape and uses the sparing animations adequately. The playing area looks much like a dungeon crawling environment, or an easy platformer, packing in dangerous spikes and the like.

The action is straightforward: guide the perpetually bouncing ball from point A to point B, the latter being the exit. Easier said than done, because to start with, the bouncing creates an interesting visual and virtual physics challenge in and of itself.

Guiding said playing piece boils down to mastering the controls; tapping on either side of the screen makes the ball bounce in that direction. By trial and error, it’s easy to find out that long-pressing (instead of just tapping) makes the ball jump a hair further and higher. The controls are fairly efficient for this type of game.

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A very simple twist is clear early on… can you pick up three stars by contact, even while getting to the exit? That makes it a bit more difficult. Risk reward, but then the levels get harder and harder. As you play on, you you have to somewhat creative. Thankfully, there are exhaustible boosts and helpers, such as one touch bridges that can be used to cross a chasm or get to a higher platform. As the caverns become more intricate, so does the challenge of finishing levels. Avoid the spikes, obviously, but don’t fret too much, as the run ends, but you can go again.

It’s simple, and for this one, that descriptor is far from a negative. It’s a game you can pick up and get into at a moment’s notice, while at doctor’s office waiting room, or while the oil is getting changed and the like. In that, it works very, very well as time waster, but somehow feels like it can be even more.

Sonny Review: it takes a zombie to beat a zombie

Sonny Review: it takes a zombie to beat a zombie

Sep 19, 2017

At this point, I think we all can agree that zombies do exist. No? Then why are they such a staple of our entertainment lives? Books. TV. Movies.

And games. Including mobile ones. Yes… it’s an undead world, and we just live in it.

So, coming up upon Sonny, a new-ish zombie fighting game from Armor Games, we figured it’s worth our time to give it a going over. For science.

It has great comic-inspired looks, with text boxes and audio that underscores the riveting storyline. We learn that there has been an outbreak, people are turning. Our narrator helps save a half-turned victim, who becomes Sonny. Remember Blade? Yep, Sonny has zombie attributes which help him combat them.

Action? This one brings turn-based battling with an RPG twist to the table. The game intro serves as a tutorial that allows you to figure out how to use our newly revived, somewhat undead hero. The battles are posed much like retro fighting games, with our hero on the one side and enemies on the other. Each group individuals has a lifebar, and the overarching goal is to obviously sap them of their lifesource before they can do the same to our dude.

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As noted above, fighting actions are turn-based. You, the player goes first, and then the CPU responds. So, a typical sequence involves our hero is accosted by an enemy (or enemies), and you go at it, one after the other, till someone is depleted. Doing well yields game cash, we can be used to unlock and sharpen several attributes and abilities.

As the action continues, and you lead Sonny to find a cure, it’s all about improving him to be able to match up with the increasing number of tougher enemies that begin to arrive.

It comes together nicely; it can be a bit of a challenge to creatively use such a tried and true such as the undead in a current mobile game, but in Sonny, it works relatively well.

Zombie Shoot: Pandemic Survivor Review

Zombie Shoot: Pandemic Survivor Review

Sep 13, 2017

Look, at some point, we’re all going to have to wonder if zombies are really coming. Anyone else catch that story about the zombie canines out west?

Zombie Shoot: Pandemic Survivor… a training tool, perhaps?

Yes, it’s all about surviving the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You take on the persona of our hero who is quite handy with all sorts of weaponry, and is very willing to take out any and all undead creatures that cross his path.

Visually, the game is able to evoke a dark feel, and the developer allied the game to be taken in via landscape, with the player looking “down” on the action. The controls are virtual in nature, with two main buttons encouraging use of two thumbs; main buttons control movement and shooting.

And the aforementioned top-down view works relatively well, especially with the the dual thumb control mechanism. Different, deadly creatures look to move in and kill your character, and your job is to evade them long enough to kill them before they kill you.

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The gameplay is leveled.

The enemies come from all around, and shooting automatically makes our hero rotate to take out the closest threats. Reloading is done automatically, though the argument could be made that it is probably quicker to relax manually before running through a magazine or clip completely.

Occasionally, a dispatched event will leave behind collectible goodies, like game cash or other valuables; these are scooped up by contact. The goodies help with crafting, which is necessary to be able to take on the more difficult waves that eventually arrive at tougher levels.

It is a relatively simple game, easy to pick up, and relatively self-contained in that it doesn’t necessarily require an outpouring of real cash. Zombies are a tried and true trope, but there is a reason it never gets old.

Blocky BEAST MODE Football Review: run Marshawn… RUN!

Blocky BEAST MODE Football Review: run Marshawn… RUN!

Sep 11, 2017

It’s football season!

It’s when the naming purists like myself willingly step back and allow the pointy ball folks have the limelight. Stateside, football — not the weather, or tree leaves — mark the beginning of Fall. It’s college rivalries renewed, and professional player suspensions are suspended, and we pay $20 for a hot-dog while watching these tiptop athletes battle in grass-grounded arenas, even while taking part via fantasy leagues.

Like I said, it’s football season.blocky2

And with it, hopefully, comes a lot of content, including mobile adventures. Introducing Blocky BEAST MODE Football.

Now, if you know Marshawn Lynch, the mercurial running back that made a name for himself bulldozing defensive backs for the Seattle Seahawks before retiring at the of of his game, checking out this game, which features his blocky digital likeness, should be fun in and of itself.

If you don’t know Marshawn “Beast Mode” yet (now of the Raiders), running as him might just make you a fan.

As you might have guessed, this one is is presented old-school style, with fun chunky characters and matching blocky scenery. It plays in portrait orientation, such that the action proceeds from the bottom of the screen to the top. The action encourages holding the device with two hands to effect a two thumb control system.

Gameplay-wise, it works just like a three-laned runner. Marshawn is running the football, and he looks to dodge the oncoming defenders and get as far as he can… yep, he looks to gain yards. Running into a defender ends the run, and avoiding them is performed by tapping on either side of the screen; tapping on the left makes Marshawn dart to the left, and same goes for the other side.

As you run, you can collect stars and gems, and these can be used to extend runs and unlock stuff in game. The game incorporates achievements, and one can get more game cash by watching ads. Thus, even though real cash can be used, this system does allow for the game to be fairly cash-free if need be.

It’s a simple game, comes well together, and has Marshawn Lynch. They had us at “Beast Mode.”

Stickman Ghost 2: Galaxy Wars Review

Stickman Ghost 2: Galaxy Wars Review

Sep 7, 2017

In a crazy world, we all need our genteel pastimes; here’s to Stickman Ghost 2: Galaxy Wars making the list. It’s set in deep space, and has all the potential trappings of a thrilling beat ’em up.

Control-wise, it is well set, with dual thumb control probably being a natural mode. There is a virtual slider for movement, and a bank of buttons for attacking and jumping. It comes together well, and the controls do not interfere with the playing area.

As far as gameplay goes, easy does it. You take control of a the main sticky character, and battle through waves and waves of faceless attackers. The options are not singular, no; there is the reliable melee method, special combos, rechargeable effects and even guns. All can be used to dispatch the enemy.

But not infinitely so. Most pieces have a timed recharge requirement, so you have to mix an match — and do do so strategically — to ensure you can get through a level. So, take them out before they reduce your lifebar to nothingness.

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There are in-level power-ups that can be collected by contact, and these are quite helpful. As one gets through, newer, tougher challenges await. The attackers become otherworldy even, and it takes even more of said strategizing (as well as upgrading of skills and attributes).

It’s a game that is fairly easy to become enamored with, and not just because of its inherent simplicity; the different pieces come together just right. The achievements are logical, and increase in complexity as you play on, and splitting them into two broad categories just fits.

The upgrade system make uses of different types of currency, yes, but in the end, it boils down to the tried and true improvement of attributes so you can compete better at the more difficult higher levels.

This a a fun one. Trust us.

Microbot Review

Microbot Review

Sep 6, 2017

Yes, Brick Breaker… the iconic BlackBerry game. Two-tone brick smashing fun powered by a rebounding ball and a trackwheel guided paddle. For it’s time, it was mobile gaming through and through.

It was fun.

But boy, you just might wanna checked the newfangled game Microbot, relatively fresh on the Play Store. It an interesting Brick Breaker clone, with a lot of flair, and simple makeup.microbot3

But this ain’t your grandma’s brickbreaker, nor would this one be found on the classic BBOS smartphone. No, this one has a few tricks up its sleeve, which allow it to be a bit of a multipurpose action pony if you will.

At first glance, it looks futuristic; at the very least, an updated version. It uses colors to highlight effects, and the animations are mostly smooth and logical. The sound effects are a welcome, almost needed aspect of the game, and help the gameplay along. It plays in portrait orientation.

Yes, the game itself is an ode to its backstory. Instead of a paddle, you man a gun protecting your city from said microbots. The idea is to fire on the boxes that appear; you should note that the boxes have differing levels of invulnerability, as shown by the number on them. A box with, say “2” requires two hits to be destroyed. The boxes usually come in lines.

Said gun can be shot every step by tapping the screen in the direction you want. One strategy is to bounce shots off the wall to get multiple hits on the encroaching enemy. As you get hits, the weaponry gets better.

But back to the aforementioned encroachment… get those things quick, because there is a major tower defense element going on. You have to eliminate the bots before they breach the city line (at the bottom of the screen). Ah, but there are some bots that do special things; some heal others or themselves every step, which means you might want to take them out quickly.

But there are also energy-bound power-ups which are fun, like reflectors, viruses and the like, which help.

All in all, ii is fun, with plenty to like; the commercials can be distracting, but can be removed.

Crosswire Review: Mindless Fun

Crosswire Review: Mindless Fun

Sep 1, 2017

The world will always have a spot for fun time-wasters, and as such, Crosswire should be good to go. In theory, that is.

It is probably easier to play it than to explain it. It’s set up simply from a visual point of view… dark background to start, fairly stark, but perfect to highlight the white text and the main play pieces. It plays in portrait, which “feels” natural, and is otherwise bereft of frills — in a good way.cross3

The main concept is to guide two mirrored lasers through specific gates. At the beginning, the one was green, and the other orange. Both travel forwards at angles that mirror each other. The path of each can be altered simultaneously by tapping the screen.

Now, each beam has to make it through a gate of matching color: green through the green gate, and presence through the orange great. The gates appear periodically, always in tandem and equidistant from the width of the playing area. To be clear, they aren’t always in the same place, which adds to the challenge.

So, the trick is to guide the beams by the aforementioned tapping, so as to ensure they make it through the appropriate gate. Sometimes, they’ll cross paths, and a lot of times, it boils down to quick reflexes.

Missing the gate ends the run. Missing the right color ends the run. Being slow sucks… and generally will end the run. Oh yeah… those collectible pieces? Opportunity costs.

The duality of the game is probably a big part of its charm. Controlling two streams while only really controlling one is actually interesting. Keeping it going is tougher than you might guess, and while last second recoveries are possible, sometimes it’s too late to correct course. Again, the big thing is to keep an eye on the gate colors and adjust accordingly as early as possible.

All in all, it is a simple game, high score driven and ad-supported. Not a bad game at all, especially with the cash-unlockable extras.

Marble Run Review — a builder’s dream

Marble Run Review — a builder’s dream

Aug 28, 2017

If we’ve said it once, we’ve preached it often… and from every rooftop we could fine: most of the time, simple does it. Yes, we do crave our multi-layered sagas with loads of visuals, but who can turn up a nose to a simple, well-made game?

C’mon. Here we got Marble Run.

It’s all about building. You have pieces, you have space and you have a marble. What type of virtual structure can you create to allow this marble do its thing? Yep, think of those rollercoaster tycoon-ish games, here. Get a marble town going.

It’s easy to get into, even without the incorporated tutorial. You start off in a 3D environment, with selectable pieces that can be used to create said structure, all so that the marble can travel in style.. The pieces run the gamut, too, with gutters, rails, angled pieces, and even pseudo-mechanical ladders and the like. Physical rules apply, so you do have to think of things like gravity, and account for momentum and steepness. Just keep building, adding and adjusting.

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As one builds, it is possible to see how it works; you know, to test as you go. Here, it gets fun, seeing what might have made sense theoretically and sometimes observing it fail spectacularly when virtually manifested.

And yes, there are opportunities to spend money.

Now, for all its charm, there are a few things that might pull at the eyebrows somewhat. The adjustable #D view is a brilliant way to see your gorgeous structure develop and expand, but darn, it feels a bit stilted in actual usage. Also, the actual melding mechanism — adding new pieces — acts a bit stubborn, and the menu could do with a bit of souping up.

If being a fun little game allows folks to overlook miniature drawbacks, this game just might be make it through to players hearts scot-free. Just as well, we suppose; time to get a-buildin’.

Valerian: City of Alpha Review

Valerian: City of Alpha Review

Jul 12, 2017

When it comes to movie-tie in projects, it’s safe to say they are closed to standard; when a major motion picture drops nowadays, you can almost always find a mobile game companion.

And we love that. New ways to increase mindshare, and even a way to pull in new fans. We all win.

Now, we are even getting to see interesting games like Valerian: City of Alpha. This one is pieced out from and based on Luc Besson’s upcoming futuristic space thriller Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. This one takes even a step further, as it looks to help develop some backstory for the game.

Interesting.

It’s visually pleasing, with an uncanny ability to invoke a sense of deep space. The game utilize engaging colors, with pulsating effects and effective animations that help the gameplay along and even frame it. The use of stills also buttress the action, and the sounds work well along with the looks.

Our location is Alpha, an erstwhile metropolis looking to expand to humans and other species. From a timeline perspective, it’s 600 years before the events in the movie, but still way out from where we are now. The gameplay tutorial is extensive, which is helpful; it leads players on some of the basics of world-building. There is a symbiotic feel here, because it takes a bit of give and take to ensure positive outcomes result.

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Without spoiling too much of the game, one aspect that stands out is the CYOA — choose your own adventure — element. During play, you can and will face scenarios with multiple options. Each has an element of risk and a corresponding reward. Your job is to figure out which path is best, and deal with the results. There is a crafting element as well, and simple stuff like re-aligning habitats help facilitate this. The game also has objectives and achievements.

In the end, the exploration, creation of partnerships and strategic moves is all about creating a space city worth being proud of. The movie looms large in this one, as it may feel as though it is a bit open-ended without its source material to lead into. Still, it mostly works.

Quite well.

Wordscapes Review

Wordscapes Review

Jul 10, 2017

Yes, yes… if we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: we love “simple.” After all the hustle bustle of a zillion game types, sometimes, we all can do with a simple, easy-to-understand brain teaser to cool the brain off on.

A word game, perhaps? Something like Wordscapes, maybe?

Wordscapes uses simple graphics set in portrait orientation. The layout is simple enough, with the solved word section taking up most of the screen. Towards the bottom is a circle containing a word jumble, and then there are virtual buttons that serve as the controls around the main pieces.word3

It comes together much like the love child of a word search game and a crossword puzzle. It’s a leveled game, and each level starts with a set of letters, jumbled up. The idea is to glean words, and form them by tracing over the letters to correctly form the word; if the formed word is a correct one — and correctly spelled — it then automatically is applied to its spot in the crossword grid. The idea is to keep on going until the crossword area is completely full.

It starts out easily enough, with relatively short words that probably won’t tax the brain too much. The crossword element helps move the gameplay on, because the words overlap on the grid, and as such, with more correctly guessed words, there are more hints. The strength of the game, really, is the wealth of anagram sets, especially deeper in the game.

As one plays on, you might have to use the helpers: there is one for scrambling and one for hints. The former is great for re-mixing the letters, and the latter for filling in gaps. There are bonus squares, and some levels give you credit for finding words that are not part of the solution.

Again, simple does it. Words are fun again.