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.

stick3

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.

mr3

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.

valerian3

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.

Rider Review

Rider Review

Jun 30, 2017

Ketchapp has quite the reputation for games that are easy to digest. You know, games that need almost no intro or tutorial, but are simple with regards to getting into, and enjoyable to boot.

Its roster is full of games that fit this criteria, and Rider, one of its latest, looks to carry on the tradition it seems.

This one is a looker. It comes in 2D, with the neon presentation allowing one to really delve into a psychadelic adventure. If the idea is to forcibly (and delightfully) grab one’s attention, this one mostly does the deed, adding in smooth animations and explosive effects that underscore and enhance the overall gameplay concept. The bright lines with ever-changing colors against the midnight background is quite becoming, and the way the track unfolds as one plays is done very well.rider3

The gameplay isn’t overly complex, or, if one is honest, especially innovative — we’ve seen it before. The core idea is to guide a sleek vehicle along the creatively challenging track… but the control mechanism is what one might find somewhat familiar. Tapping and holding the screen allows for the vehicle to accelerate when it is on the track, and releasing the screen allows the vehicle to slow down “naturally.” The track spins round and all that, but when the vehicle is on the “ground” things are pretty good, even when one encounters the gaps that frequent the raceway.

When the vehicle is airborne — which happens quite often — things really, really get interesting. Now, the player has to figure out whether keeping the gas going is free, because, the run ends anytime the vehicle ends up upside down. When the gas is going, think of the car as a monster truck that tends to pop the front wheel(s) up, except that doing it without moderation cause the car to flip. When airborne, it causes somersaults.

Now, the airborne somersaulting can be productive. Say you rev up and lose control of the machine, and it is tending towards a run-ending crash. Well, if you have enough air, it might behoove you to go ahead and flip it, so as to right the landing. With a little bit of nerve, it is possible to make lemonade out of lemons, and to even look cute while doing it.

The raceway does its part to keep things interesting. As noted, it is fairy hard to predict, and one has to contend with barrels, holes, hills, and even track that dissolves as it is being traveled over. You will encounter air catapults and rotating blades too; beware and be ready!

The gameplay is leveled, and there are gift boxes that can be unlocked that provide better gear. There are achievements and related goodies as well, so players do have targets to aim for.

As already hinted at, the simplicity of this game is what makes it tick. It is easy on the mind, allowing it to require a bit of skill without demanding too much mental resources.

Just travel and get points.

Bounzy! Review

Bounzy! Review

Jun 30, 2017

Time for Bounzy!.

In this one, you are a mage, and you are helping to protect a town. From what? Well, a host of scary beasts that look to do the town harm. You, the player/mage, are all that stands between the incoming creatures.

At your disposal are magical weapons that manifest much like fire bombs. The idea is to fire these bombs to destroy the enemy before they make it to the city gates. Now, it helps to know that every beast has a lifebar, and it generally takes more than one hit to take them out. Thankfully, the aforementioned magical weapon is a stream of fireballs that each inflict a degree of damage on the enemy.

The real gimmick, the thing the game gets its name from, is the bouncing walls. You see, the magic has the ability to rebound continually within the playing area, doing damage to damage-able things, on and on till they destroy all the enemies or are bounced back towards the bounzy3town where they dissipate. The mage character at the bottom of the screen, and the beasts march forwards. You shoot, and they move forward unless/until they are destroyed by the fire spells. As an added twist, the position of the mage changes randomly every go.

Shooting is performed by tapping, holding and dragging to specify direction, just like operating the catapult in Angry Birds. It’s all about physics, angling and figuring out how to create the most long lasting cascade of bouncing fireballs every round.

So, a typical series is easy to understand: a line of monsters appears. You shoot at them… but hey, do you look for the direct hit, or do you try to angle the line of ammunition off the wall to, say get behind that initial line and bounce off the back wall for multiple hits? Uh, oh a new line with more beasts; these ones have a higher tolerance and require more hits. Go for those, and ignore the easier to damage (but closer) initial beasts?

Decisions, decisions. You gotta decide quickly, because the city walls only allow for so many incursions before the level is failed. Interestingly enough, the game incorporates consumable special weapons, and as the game goes on, you get to encounter additional foils, like sided impenetrable shields. If one gets into a tight spot, there is a video-watching system that allows you to replenish special weapons.

Completing levels without getting the wall breached allows for you to earn goodies, and these goodies allow for upgrades; stuff like both ends of the weapon stream can be improved, as can the wall.

It looks and feels a bit like a pinball game joined with Tetris, with a bit of physics puzzler sprinkled in. It is an interesting mix, quite addictive with easy-to-understand upgrade path.

For what comes down to a tower defense game, it does pretty well. The charm sorta sneaks up on you, presenting several different elements that blend together pretty well, allowing a simple game feel a bit more like a more expansive experience. The video-watching weapon replenishment system could probably be limited to increase the challenge, but all in all, it’s a fine game.

HAWK: Freedom Squadron Review

HAWK: Freedom Squadron Review

Jun 30, 2017

On deck? HAWK – Force of an Arcade Shooter. Shoot ’em up!

Yep, it’s a mouthful. Goodness.

First glance… a brightly colored experience, pleasing to the eye and full of sharp animations. Folks shouldn’t fall asleep looking at this one.

The controls define this game. It works in portrait orientation, and the idea is to use a finger — fore seems to work best — to control hawk3the lead craft by “dragging it across the screen. This way, you can put it in position to train it’s auto-firing weapons on enemy craft and avoid incoming fire and other dangers. It’s a simple means of control we have seen before, and it works well here.

Like any game looking to describe itself as an arcade title, this one also has several boosts floating around… sometimes, they are not easy to get, and provide opportunity costs situations.

In the thick of the action, it becomes a bevy of strategic movement, darting forwards and back to collect goodies while avoiding all sorts of non-optimal objects. Doing well has its rewards, and these rewards are perfect for ship upgrades.

The challenge starts to build when the enemy waves start to get fancy. Then, it is harder to hit them, and the incoming shells become a bit less predictable. Heck, some diving ships mimic kamikaze planes in their ability to inflict damage by contact.

It’s poor form to mention other games in another game’s review, but it’s probably fair — and likely positive — to mention the parallels between this one and WWII battler AirAttack. The gesture controls are made for this, and while one might have to get used to the periodically blocked view, this control mechanism is about as natural as gets.

It’s a playful adventure, and seemingly works well because it doesn’t allow the one element to overshadow the others.

Fatal Raid Review

Fatal Raid Review

Jun 30, 2017

Fatal Raid is a game to go to bed too. If you can sleep after.

The game packs in a few modes — Survival, PvP, Challenge and Story; Story Mode is the opening mode, and the others open up when players reach particular progress thresholds. To begin, one simply follows the tutorial… and in this game, the tutorial is a necessary feature. It gives one the gameplay basics: the zombie-shooting action for one. In the simplest form, you play with two thumbs, one for movement, and one to wield the firearm. When set to auto-shoot, all one has to do is move the character, and get the monsters in the crosshairs.

Simple does it, but as one goes on, one has to deal with craftier enemies… different tendencies, speedier in approach, and so on. Still, the idea (in (Story) is to take out the enemies, collect collectibles, and avoid having your lifebar depleted by monsters that get too close before you can shoot them.

Doing well procures you game currency, and this can be used to upgrade attributes and weapons; it’s necessary to do both so as to be able to keep up with ability-improved uglies.

fr2

The game is quite arcade-y in the way it plays. Some action elements are deliberately over the top, and those parts do feel like they have a purpose. Visually, it is colorful, and makes uses of effects (such as an adjustment from first person perspective to slow motion third) is quite effective, and the changing backgrounds mostly show a degree of diversity, with devastated cityscapes taking front stage.

The games is presented in landscape, with the aforementioned first-person view being the primary means by which the player takes in the environment.

All in all, it is a very intricate game; there is a wealth of options, and gameplay to suit almost everybody. It does get complex in parts, which might gnaw at the nerves of folks who prefer to get going and keep going, but it should really appeal to folks that like to feel like they control the build-up.

Zombie Gunship Survival Review

Zombie Gunship Survival Review

Jun 30, 2017

Zombie Gunship Survival is here.

It starts spookily enough, with a deployment chopper bearing down on a cruise ship that is seemingly abandoned and steaming towards San Francisco Bay. Two spec ops operatives board the ship, and are quickly confronted by undead creatures looking to kill them.

Here, without knowing, the player gets a hands-on tutorial. To help the team search the ship, you take control of a gun from the aircraft to take out the increasing number of marauding zombies. It incorporates an appropriate top-down view which gives the gunner a good view of the surrounding area and incoming baddies. Tapping on the gun with enemies in sight mows them down.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t go too well. Too little too late; even a missile can’t stop the runaway ship from crashing into the docks and unleashing the zombie virus on western US and beyond.

The gameplay is intuitive, and is mission-based. The general idea is to protect troops on the ground, giving them time to complete missions like collecting gear or supplies. Zombies aren’t the only thing to be concerned about, as there are human enemies too. As described above, the idea is to take out enemies and installations before they reduce your ground force to zero life bar.

zgs3

There is an element of opportunity costs that comes into play. You see, do you take out the incoming zombies, or take out the obstacle in your operative’s way? Take out the gun tower or protect the building? You have to raise your own defenses up, and look to procure better weapons by raising your player level. As it goes on, there are tougher missions, more troops to defend and trickier enemies.

Choices, choices.

If you do it all right, you’ll keep your trooper alive with air support long enough to complete the mission and be rescued by the evac crew.

When it comes down to it, it is a cleverly laid out tower defense game. Keep the undead at bay from the gunship, earn goodies and improve one’s equipment to take on the tougher missions that come down the pipe. Simplicity works well, and everyone wants to be a hero.

We all win.

Up&Up – Balloon Puzzler Review

Up&Up – Balloon Puzzler Review

Jun 29, 2017

It’s not something you might dwell on too much, but when you think about it, it has to be a tough life for Balloons. Full of hot air, and the cool buoyancy is tempered by the fact that almost every bit of matter, including the air that gives it life, can be that which ends it.

In Up&Up – Balloon Puzzler, we get to help liberate a balloon that has the temerity to want to escape evil poppers and make it’s way up.up3

It’s simply laid out, with genteel stylings that are highlighted in portrait mode, with soft backgrounds that don’t distract from the “real” action. The game is based on a lot of seamless movement, and mostly delivers in this regard, with smooth animations and matching sounds.

As hinted at already, the core idea is to help the balloon move on upwards to an exit point, so as to escape the pin-laden bullies looking to do it harm. Of course, getting from Point A to Point B isn’t nearly as easy as it could be, as their are blocks that prevent “natural” physics from occurring.

Thankfully, the blocks can generally be moved by finger gesture “up” or “down” or “sideways” so as to create space that will allow Balloony get to where it want to go. Performance is measured by the the amount of moves required to finish a level; less is obviously better, and completing a level opens up a new one. There is a hints button that helps with levels for sticky situations.

The games does get a bit tougher as one goes on further into the game. The puzzles ostensibly get more complex, and the helpers get a bit more interesting as well — right in step with the “dangerous” obstacles that are there to make egress more difficult.

It blends together well, and comes across as a capable time waster.