Orphan Black: The Game Review

Orphan Black: The Game Review

May 31, 2017

TV show Orphan Black has acquired a bit of a following; the show details clones and what happens when someone inadvertently stumbles upon the opportunity to take the identity of someone who who looks just like her. Orphan Black (the game, that is) sprouts from this general premise. there is a conspiracy afoot, and solving the game puzzles helps the player unravel it.

Who cares, yah? This was one we really couldn’t wait to get into.

It’s a colorful game, and makes use of a number of backgrounds graphics to give the evolving storylines some depth. The animations are simple, but effective, especially in the advanced “chase” sequences, and the way light ups sre used do help the game pop.

The game mechanics feel a bit like the GO! series, in that the main idea is to lead the character from Point A to Point B. Easier said than done, because there are obstacles in the way; Thankfully, the game uses the first few levels to help players understand the gameplay.

Movement is achieved via gestures; all you have to do is swipe to tell the clone where to go. The paths are generally defined, so there are only so many places to go but along the path, you can make the character move back and forth in a defined set of units. So, a set of swipes gets the player;s character to the end point.

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But (as already pointed out) there are obstacles, burly medical sentries for instance. They have no compunction when it comes to catching a clone and administering knockout drugs to the jugular. They do have weaknesses though, like bad sight and a propensity to chase the clones along the same exact path the clones travel, and such habits allow a player with some creativity to outwit them. There are also explosive traps than can be deployed; careful with these, as they don’t respect good guys or bad.

As one goes on, there are other foils: sliding bridges, switches, multiple foes and collective problems, all interspersed with sequences from the series that true fans should enjoy.

It comes together nicely, even if the first level tricks you into needing more; it’ll cost you to unlock the bulk of the game.

Lode Runner 1 Review

Lode Runner 1 Review

May 31, 2017

Not too many titles have as much rep — or longevity — as Lode Runner. For a lot of folks, this title definitely defined the puzzle platformer genre.

The sheer number of clones on Google Play reflect the game’s standing, no doubt.

In any case, mobile development stalwart NEXON is throwing its hat into the ring with Lode Runner 1. It feels familiar enough, and has just enough elements to make it fresh for today.

Visually, its source is clear: 2D playing area set in landscape, with a dark blue aesthetic that allows the bright colors to pop against it. The platform playing area is set up in block-ish form, with telltale ladders, rails and gold pieces. The controls are equally basic, with one bank to control movement and the other allows for blasting rock. The controlled character isn’t a stick, but is simply manifested.

The game evolves gradually… almost too much so. The first level works to be a teaching level of sorts, and allows players to get acquainted with the aforementioned controls and to understand the general gameplay. The main premise is simple, in that the player’s character looks to collect all the gold pieces, which activates the exit door. Level complete, new level opened.

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But it’s what happens in-between that makes for a challenge. Collecting the pieces means getting to them, and that means using the ladders and rails to get over and across obstacles. As one progresses, the rock blasters come into play, because you might want to make your own path. Take heed though: not all ground can be blasted, and the blasted rock does regenerate.

Finally, it gets a lot tougher. There are sentries, but through the first several levels they are fairly impotent. They do show a propensity for security, and roam to catch. Now, speed of action and even blasting ground is useful.

It comes together nicely. As noted, a slow beginning, but it mostly makes up for it.

Battle of Warships Review

Battle of Warships Review

May 31, 2017

There are several warship battling games on Google Play, so it ain’t that easy to stand out. Good luck, Cube Software; Battle of Warship is on deck.

This one has one get right into it. Literally. One might be forgiven if they missed the tutorial button when they encounter the “Battle” button, but don’t fret; learning on the go is the name of the game.

But even before that, the graphics do make a great first impression. The cutscene shows the developer’s attention to detail and visual perspective, and even for the player that might not be a seacraft buff, the scenery should be a treat. The ships look like hulking sea beasts, and one can almost taste the metal. The physics are nicely done, with explosive explosions and screaming collisions.

The gameplay involves WWI and WWII era warships. The player goes to go into a battle consisting of two factions, arena style; the team that takes out all the opposing team ships wins. Simple. Rewards and goodies go to the winning players.

To start, one gets a “starter” ship, and can then upgrade it and/or attributes with game currency. A lot of the gameplay is intuitive, and strategy does matter when the actual battling begins, with time-restricted weaponry. In this war of attrition, you cannot take too much damage, lest you get knocked out and can only observe the battle conclude.

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Fun all the way through, really.

The biggest complaint one might have is the absence of a tutorial. Now, figuring it as one goes is a worthy effort, and even somewhat adds to the game’s allure, but it does help for there to be an option in most cases.

A little bit of clarity with regards to the comparative strength of ships could be useful, especially with regards to advanced choice.

All in all, this one is a really enjoyable game. It allows for creativity, and the RPG elements just add to the whole package.

Nothing beats being a captain. The captain.


Pokémon: Magikarp Jump Review

Pokémon: Magikarp Jump Review

May 31, 2017

“Pokémon.”

There. I said it.

Hey, say what you want; Pokémon GO! did own mobile devices not too long ago, and deserves some respect. Pokémon: Magikarp Jump has the same heritage, and is also seeing love on the Play Store. It’s only right that we give it some attention. pmj3

So at the heart of this game, we have Magikarp. Duh. Yes, we are referring to the otherwise, uh, unremarkable jumping marine pokémon. Those ones, front and center.

The player’s job is to take one of these thingies, and win fans an adulation by training it to become a jumping phenom. Hey, and bring fame to your town, as it has not had any Magikarp-related news to celebrate in quite some time.

Looks? Well, this game has that pokémon look. Playpul anime characterization, a lot of cutscenes chock-full of text-bubble dialogue and a good helping of interesting sounds. The animal is the main star, and everything the game does visually underscores this.

With regards to gameplay, the main idea is very simple, and hearkens to other games that use the same source material: train your companion, and win challenges. First, you have to catch one, and then you have to feed it to garner training tokens.

Feeding it entails guiding it to available resources via gestures; this increases it’s “jumping power”, which is a leveled measure of its prowess. Training it involves silly exercises and also increases its jumping power, but expends the limited training points (they are replenished over time).

Then, when the fishy is ready, it’s time to battle other trainers and pokémon.

Now, the battles are high jumping contests. WInners get rewards, and the player’s training rank gets a boost. Diamonds and game cash can also be earned by activity, and said valuables can be used to better one’s chances in a variety of ways through the game’s store. Ah… the energy requirement! Impatient folks will shell out cash to keep things going.

It’s a simple game, and easy to get into and enjoy. The dialogue gets a bit cumbersome, and the game has little by way of surprises, but its straightforward, and different from other games it might remind you of.

Battle Bay Review

Battle Bay Review

May 31, 2017

As the Rovio universe continues to expand, we get to see more and more concepts from the minds that brought us the first batch of angry, vengeful avians, and I believe we are richer for it.

Welcome to Battle Bay, where birds do their battling on water.

And these birds don’t seem pacified just yet, by the way…

Rovio generally does graphics well, and this one is no exception. It glitzy without being overdone, with a lot of attention paid to animations and physics, just like we’d expect. It uses color well, and manages to be playful and life-like at the same time. The controls are easy to manage, and work well with the landscape orientation; shooting and direction can be controlled with both thumbs.

The visual and audio aspects are a great gateway.

And what do we get by way of action? Team battling, of course. The player gets to select a personal, armed boat, join a random team and take on another team in a war of attrition. Yep, shoot and/or be shot… basically take the enemy out before your team is decimated.

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And this where the controls are important. The virtual joystick is important, so that you can move, avoid fire and find opponents to get at. Shooting is somewhat automated, but requires a steady hand, plus a willingness to adjust so as to finish off fleeing enemies.

When one faction is dead, the battle is over, and it’s time to collect the bounty. These goodies — game cash, parts and the like — allow for upgrades and crafting, which are necessary to be more effective at battling. It’s a symbiotic system that works fairly well.

There are guilds, tasks and different modes to try out. real cash can be used to expedite operations, but isn’t necessary.

It’s a fun ride, almost surprisingly so, and has us wondering what else Rovio has cooking.

We’re hungry.

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.