Castle Doombad Review

Castle Doombad Review

May 28, 2014

Ever since Dungeon Keeper turned out a flop massive enough to sink Japan, I’ve been yearning to play an interesting bad guy dungeon strategy, and Castle Doombad is almost exactly what I was looking for. It’s a trap strategy, somewhat close to the tower defense genre, but at the same time – completely different from it. And, of course, the main hero is a bad guy. Not some poor, misunderstood sob, but a proper torturing, evil and cunning bad guy.

Each level, a mob of self-proclaimed heroes storms your lair in an attempt to kidnap your princess that the evil boss has probably just finished kidnapping himself. There’s a number of cunning traps at your disposal, and they should be used to defeat the armies of good that can’t just leave you well enough alone with your tortured princess. The princess Castle Doombad 2produces screams that are collected and stored as the sole resource for your traps and minions. Incidentally, the minions don’t behave much different from traps, but can move around their floor, which the castle is divided into. The traps are very different and there’s a lot of great synergy between them, like a freezing trap making enemies get hit twice on the floor spikes. There’s a great number of traps and minions in Castle Doombad, and each one of them can be upgraded, giving them new abilities and improving characteristics. Of course, the enemies get tougher and tougher as well, and some of them can destroy your defenses and leave you helpless, if you don’t dispose of them in time. There are special abilities that you can use and turn the tide of an almost lost battle, but they should be kept for later levels.

I didn’t notice many IAP restrictions in Castle Doombad. Sure, the game becomes more and more difficult with each passing level, but smart management and the correct traps for each level almost remove the need to farm the gold on purpose. And repeating the levels is great fun anyway, as is often the case with strategy games. To be fair, if you don’t like optimizing your strategy and thinking about the different tower placements, Castle Doombad will probably seem too tense and punishing, but if you don’t mind the challenge, it’s a fun and unusual mobile strategy game. And it’s about 250% better than Dungeon Keeper 3.

Pivvot Review

Pivvot Review

Sep 24, 2013

Pivvot is nothing if not eye-catching. Its stark graphics and simple gameplay demand attention. But how does it play?

Pivvot’s concept is as simple as it gets. You control a rotating circle that moves along a line. As you move along you’ll see obstacles you need to avoid, lest you crash into them and die. To do so you use very simple two finger controls that rotate your intrepid circle left or right.

While this sounds like an incredibly simple concept, in practice it is extremely challenging. The game starts off simple with easily avoided obstacles such as Screenshot_2013-09-23-07-28-13spikes that only take up one side of the course, but quickly adds in much harder ones that require exact positioning, like lines of small walls that move constantly.

It’s when these obstacles are mixed together that the gameplay really takes off as you’ve faced with a long line of spinning blades, spikes and barriers that are more than tough to get past. You’ll die early and often as you smash into yet another perilously spiky protrusion. Fortunately dying only sets you back a small distance on the course, short enough to guard against repetitiveness but far enough that you’ll need more than luck to get past that trickly bit that keeps killing you.

Pivvot’s soundtrack is enjoyable if extremely repetitive. Pumping techno music pulses in the background as you play and everything in the game moves along with the music, giving it an almost hypnotic feeling.Screenshot_2013-09-23-07-14-22 I am a huge electronica fan so this music should really appeal to me. Unfortunately, the music just didn’t click with me, and the single track for each difficulty is especially noticeable if you keep dying as you’ll constantly hear the same part of the music. I would appreciate a few different tracks or perhaps a random mix of different tracks.

Pivvot features two game modes, the basic Journey mode where you make your way along a course that is partly randomly generated and partly fixed until you reach the end and an endless mode which is exactly what it sounds like. There are also expert versions of both of these, and an incredibly difficult endless Berzerk mode. Remarkably for a mobile game there is no IAP whatsoever in Pivvot and you unlock new courses only by completing previous ones. This is a breath of fresh air to anyone who is used to being nickeled and dimed by games.

At the end of the day Pivvot is definitely an acquired taste. Its punishing difficulty and minimalist gameplay won’t be for everyone, but if you’re an electronica fan or just like simple games you’ll likely love Pivvot.

Sonic the Hedgehog Review

Sonic the Hedgehog Review

May 17, 2013

Sonic the Hedgehog is a classic, at least in the sense that it was the launching pad for a famous character. In reality, it’s a lot more like some bands’ first album: their later stuff is more refined, exploring their strengths better, to make for a better product. Such is the original Sonic game. Sonic 2 and 3 do a lot to make the series much better, so I must admit that when I heard that Sonic 1 was being remastered by Christian Whitehead and company a la Sonic CD, I was initially disappointed. But really, there was no reason to be: the tweaks and new features make this better.

Sonic should be well-known at this point. Run, jump, fight Eggman’s robots and contraptions (though he’ll always be Dr. Robotnik to me), and avoid those darn spikes. This is the game that started the classic formula, including the most underappreciated part of the series’ gameplay: the complex levels and challenging platforming that comes from their multiple layers.

Sonic1_Screenshot 7

The spin dash I have mixed opinions about: it makes the game feel better, but it makes certain sections much easier. This is especially true of the final boss, where dodging the sparks that come out becomes much, much easier thanks to the ability to quickly speed away from them on a dime. But hey, it makes the game a bit less frustrating, so it’s worth it, right? Plus, it’s just an option, so the purists can turn it off.

The other new features add a lot of value to the game. It’s possible to play as Tails and Knuckles, or even Sonic with Tails. Powerups from later Sonic games can be used. There’s a Time Attack mode. The cartridges for the three different versions of the game as well to be displayed when launching the game. It’s a minor feature, but for a project powered by hardcore fans who have gotten to work with Sega, it means a lot.

The controller support helps to make this a far-improved experience as well. A wide variety is supported just like in Sonic CD – the MOGA models are supported as are HID controllers, for example. The virtual controls are far from perfect, but at least they’re configurable.

Sonic the Hedgehog may not be the best game in the series, but the bonus content that comes along with it (in surprising amounts) is well worth checking out for fans both new and old.

Rayman Jungle Run Review

Rayman Jungle Run Review

Oct 17, 2012

So, who would have guessed that Rayman would wind up being the star of one of the best auto-runner games in a while? Yes, Rayman Jungle Run is an absolutely fantastic example of what auto-running platformers can be.

This is not an endless game, but primarily a level-based platformer where Rayman can’t stop, won’t stop running. He must get to the end intact, though he has hearts that he can pick up to protect him from minor damage. Along the way, he’s also trying to collect little firefly-esque creatures called Lums that populate the levels; collecting all 100 in a level collects a jeweled tooth that belongs to a ghastly grim-reaper-esque fellow who unlocks the Land of the Livid Dead, a level in each world that is notable for how extremely difficult it is.

Rayman starts out just with the ability to jump, but later on learns how to use his hair as a propellor to fly through the air, how to run on and along walls, and to punch through walls and enemies. It’s all the main abilities that Rayman is known for. As well, the game is known for its great art, especially in the modern Rayman Origins games, and thankfully Rayman Jungle Run runs on the same engine as those titles, so it looks absolutely spectacular.

While there are often extremely tight timing windows, here’s the thing about Rayman Jungle Run: It rarely if ever feels frustrating. This is thanks to the extremely tight controls that always do what they should. Level design is similarly tight: usually, getting all the items in each level feels like something that’s ‘supposed’ to happen when playing the right way. There’s a great variety of levels; only introducing new elements over time was a great choice, and keeps the game feeling fresh, though I got used to jumping by tapping on the right side of the screen; when punching was introduced I was thrown off for a short bit but it didn’t take long to adjust.

Rayman Jungle Run was developed by Pastagames, creators of Pix’n Love Rush, another fantastic auto-runner game, and this shows just how great they are at the genre. This is a must-play for platforming fans.

The Tiny Bang Story Review

The Tiny Bang Story Review

Sep 25, 2012

My normal tastes do not include The Tiny Bang Story. I like games to have action, usually. Or some kind of hyphenated action. Action-adventure, Action-RPG, Action-Cooking-Sim, definitely! Thus, my interest in the hidden object genre has been slight, a curiosity I did not understand as to why it was so popular, like most of the music the kids listen to these days. Well, I’ve dived headlong into the genre with the hyped The Tiny Bang Story, and let me just say, I think I get it now.

Essentially, the game throws the player into a weird situation without any instructions or anything, and it’s really about discovery from there. Dialogue is scant, and instructions are fewer. There’s an air of wonder and mystery to the whole experience, yet it all remains player-friendly. Puzzles are set up for the player to succeed at them eventually, and the game makes it possible to get hints by tapping on the dragonflies that occasionally fly around the screen. This helps out a lot when a particular object is hidden extremely well, or a puzzle solution seems obtuse.

The object collection usually involves scouring the environment for objects that may not look out of place on first glance, but on further inspection, don’t actually quite fit! Each ‘level’ has sections that will be revisited, and suddenly little things that looked odd before suddenly actually are usable objects. And more often, things that seemed normal like part of the environment actually are not!

Now, let me just say: The Tiny Bang Story is absolutely beautiful. The artwork looks amazing on high-resolution screens, all hand-drawn. It’s like interacting with a giant watercolor painting that comes to life, except less freaky because if a giant watercolor painting came to life I’d be scared. I mean, it’s just incredible-looking. The soundtrack does get a bit repetitive after a while, though.

Really, for those who love games where they can discover things, and do it in a world that’s compeletely gorgeous and engrossing, while still being player-friendly, The Tiny Bang Story is a fantastic choice. There’s a lot to discover here.

iBlast Moki 2 Review

iBlast Moki 2 Review

Aug 30, 2012

It was not all that long ago that Godzi Lab (formerly known as Godzilab, the name now spaced out due to legal issues with Godzilla’s lawyers) released their take on the physics puzzler, iBlast Moki, to Android. This was after iBlast Moki 2 released on iOS, and fans of the game have been left waiting. Well, no need to wait any more, as it is finally here.

The objective of the two games are the same: get the adorable Mokis from their starting point into the giant portal that serves as the goal. So what’s the big hook here? There are new paint bombs that change the physics of the surface that they explode on to. Yellow bombs make the surface speed up the Mokis, pink bombs make it bouncy, and green bombs make it sticky. Like other bombs, these can be set on a delay as well, which does become necessary in some levels which challenge the player with complex layouts.

Really, that’s the joy of iBlast Moki 2: the levels are so richly constructed. Some of the solutions to the puzzles are so ingenious that and often require solutions that are somewhat outside the box. Real thought and planning is required, there’s no real way to just fling and pray like Angry Birds. The replay value is very high, with a wide variety of online levels that are available to play, and a level creator that is so robust that the developers themselves used it to make all the game’s levels. There’s no limits to the creativity in this game.

Of course, with all the complicated levels, this game can be a little difficult to tryd to get in to, because there is that complexity. Solutions require patience, and the lack of a fast-forward button remains an annoyance. This is a very strategic and thoughful game, and it’s not just for those that want to fling objects and pray for success.

For those willing to handle the challenge that iBlast Moki 2 presents, it will be extremely enjoyable. Even if it doesn’t sound like the most appealing game right away, the fun that can be had from it is immense. I highly recommend it.

Tablet Talk Links Android Tablets to Phones for Texting Purposes

Tablet Talk Links Android Tablets to Phones for Texting Purposes

Aug 14, 2012

Tablet Talk is an app that attempts to bring together tablets and phones in one important regard: texting! For far too long, texting has been limited to just our phones. Tablet Talk, when running on both a phone and a tablet on the same local wifi network, lets the tablet send SMS messages to people through the phone’s messaging connection. This is a handy feature for Android tablet owners, as it means that they don’t have to switch devices in order to carry on a text conversation. Plus, fewer typos thanks to larger keyboards!

As well, it helps to bring Android on par with iOS’s iMessages in a sense. Yes, it’s a third-party app, but it also has the advantage of being able to communicate with actual mobile numbers, instead of those in a locked-in system. Sure, something like Google Voice is a simpler solution, but for those who want to keep texting from their actual mobile number, this could help out. Tablet Talk is available for US $2.99 from Google Play.

Cannon Cat Launches on to Nook Color and Nook Tablet

Cannon Cat Launches on to Nook Color and Nook Tablet

Jul 6, 2012

Loqheart’s Cannon Cat was well-received on the iOS App Store, not just by players, where it amassed over a million downloads, but received critical praise from Apple, as it was their iPad Game of the Week, and got a glowing review on 148Apps. Now the game is making the jump to Android, and it’s doing something interesting. One, the game is going from free to paid on Android. Generally, the reverse happens on Android due to the issues with making money off of selling apps directly to customers. However, Loqheart is planning on selling the game exclusively on the Nook Store for Nook Color and Nook Tablet for $2.99, to hopefully make money off of its game on Android the old-fashioned way.

Cannon Cat, for those that haven’t played the iOS version, is a puzzle game of sorts where players must launch a cat through perilous levels, trying to rescue floating goldfish and reach the end of the level intact. Powerups are available to help make that job just a little bit easier. Cannon Cat is available now.

Cardinal Quest Review

Cardinal Quest Review

Jul 2, 2012

The roguelike is a genre of game that I’ve always wanted to get into: the idea of having a character that one doesn’t want to die, because death is permanent, yet through death learning more about the world to eventually master it. I would love to be the kind of person that is a Nethack expert. However, I was born in the overcaffeinated generation and I demand my games be interesting within minutes. Thus, Cardinal Quest is a great entry point into roguelikes for my blood, which is pretty much straight caffeine at this point.

Players choose one of three classes: the fighter, thief, and wizard, each with their own strengths. The fighter gets in enemies’ faces to fight them, the wizard uses abilities and spells to fight from a distance, and the thief is fast, preferring to strike first. Then, they descend into the dungeon, to try and kill the evil minotaur Asterion. Levels are randomly generated, with items and abilities appearing in random order. However, better equipment and tougher enemies generally appear over time in a regular order, so don’t expect to be fighting minotaurs in the second room. Still, the randomization means that each experience will be somewhat different because the different abilities will force players to adapt in each session. The soundtrack from noted indie game composer Whitaker Trebella sets a perfect mood for the game, ramping up as the later levels of the dungeon are entered.

The thief is probably the most fun to play as, because the Shadow Walk is so much fun to use. He can use it often thanks to his high speed stat that the ability determines its recharge rate on. It enables him to quickly sneak around undetected, but also do great amounts of damage by attacking while undetected. He isn’t easy to use, but he can be clever when used properly. Though, learning the game isn’t that hard: a few playthroughs will get players acclimated to the mechanics.

However, the game isn’t very deep. Players don’t have much say in how their character is built, and don’t get time to really care for them because with only 2 lives, the end can come quickly. Still, this is meant more for bite-sized chunks of play, and this is more for the kind of person who wants the mechanics of the genre with none of the filler. The money earned in the game is just there as a score indicator. The controls could really use swipe-based movement, as while the control scheme works well on phones, it seems fraught with inaccuracy on tablets. Inventory management controls make it too easy to accidentally move around items when just trying to view their stats.

Cardinal Quest is a good snack for those looking for a quick roguelike experience, without expecting anything too deep.