LIMBO Review

LIMBO Review

Mar 9, 2015

LIMBO is an interesting adventure game from Playdead that looks to prove that the slightly creepy can be infinitely entertaining.

The backstory is simple: boy in search of lost sister, a young boys wanders into LIMBO, a gloomy, foreboding land that would give most people pause.

The environment is a huge element in the game; the stark coloring is curiously intriguing, with different shades of white and black blending in and out to create a delightfully murky 2D environment. The dark colors are pervasive, and hide all sorts of hindrances and helpers in their depths. The animations are smooth, and convey action themes in a reasonable matter.

The gameplay itself is easy to understand; in a nutshell, one guides the character (using virtual controls) from left to right. This is, of course, easier said than done, because there are times one has think how to get through an obstacle to clear egress — and at other times, one needs to avoid lethal traps that end the run. The game gently gets one going with simple puzzles, and it’s not hard to glean the basics of advancement/survival.


Being vigilant is a biggie, as, even at the onset, one has to look for a tool or two that can help our protagonist to get moving, even including upwards. As the game progresses, quick reactions become more important, and one has to be on the lookout for the unexpected.

As one progresses even further, the puzzles become more intricate. I like how the developer has looked to prevent an over-reliance on going the “right” way. Sometimes, going backwards a bit is needed. Also, the platform elements are welcome, as they further prevent monotony. There are ropes and such as well as bear traps.

When one considers how simple the LIMBO is, one might be surprised at how addictive it is. It comes together well, looks relatively good and manages to spooky without being scary. The premium, one-time price ($4.99) is a plus in my book; the developer also provides a demo version.

Well worth a look, I say.

Buzz Killem Review

Buzz Killem Review

Feb 26, 2015

Action platformers almost always resonate; they are simple to learn, easy to enjoy and can be tweaked with several gameplay elements. With Buzz Killem (from industry strongman Noodlecake), we get some glorious graphics, easy-to-learn controls, arcade goodness and a lot of action.

Buzz Killem is a story of, well, going buck wild. It’s Rambo meets Independence Day. Buzz (action star’s Bill Killem’s dad) is a war vet who is brought back to confront an alien threat. Now, the kicker is tha Buzz has no compunction with regards to blasting away, and in the 2D environment that the game is set, all advantages are to be treasured.

And it is a simple but delightfully intense environment, with retro, chunky-ish graphics making up the core of the visuals. The animations further extend the old-school feel, with a bunch of staggered movements and jumpy animations. The controls are easy to understand, and are virtual in nature, allowing our here to travel in both directions, as well as the ability to jump (and double jump) over obstacles and up and across to aerial platforms. There is also a shooting button, which allow Buzz to use his firearm to dispatch enemies from relatively afar.


The gameplay is fairly simple, and boils down to avoiding dangers and staying alive. Dropping boulders, boxes, reactive floating enemies, shooting creatures and more make their presences felt; there is even a rotating blade or two. The action comes together such that quick reactions are necessary to be successful. The game is split into missions, and the developer tosses in an achievement system too.

The interesting aspect is the diversity and unpredictability of the dangers; mistiming a jump can be lethal. this element comes together quite well. I also like the arcade elements: collectibles, boosts, coin collection and upgrades. Real money can be used, but doesn’t feel mandatory.

Buzz Killem a cool game, simple at heart with plenty of fun aspects. It’s almost impossible to not enjoy.

Dragger HD Review

Dragger HD Review

May 28, 2014

Dragger is a game of infectious joy from Twist Mobile.

The story runs thus: in a happy world inhabited by cheery jelly beings, a malevolent blob known as Evily rolls through, causing havoc and a dark pall to overtake the land. There is one survivor — our hero, Dragger — who works to lift the blight of sadness one jelly neighbor at a time.

It basically boils down to a physics puzzler, a 2D game of bowling, if you will, with saddies and stars as the main targets. Holding down Dragger and directing the shot to a target is how it starts, and “releasing” the jelly blob initiates the action. The first few levels are sedate enough, and work well to convey the gameplay; there is a set number of shots with which the player has to convert saddies and collect the stars by contact. And any contact is good, as moving saddies liberate other ones by touch, and can even collect stars. Using rebounded and/or transferred kinetic dra1energy is probably not going to be a winning strategy all the time, as struck saddies tend to not travel very far or for very long.

The levels get harder as progress is made, and more thought needs to be applied to make things happen. Just like in pool, the post-shot leave is key when more saddies are on the board because of the shot requirement; an errant shot can get Dragger blocked. Combo shots can be made, but do require a reasonable degree of precision to pull off; the power of the strikes can also be manipulated to a degree. Getting all three stars and converting the all saddies is the goal; levels can be repeated to effect this.

The graphics are rich and convey a fun experience, with vibrant colors and smooth animations.

All in all, it feels like the perfect time waster, with intuitive, freemium gameplay and looks that are easy on the eyes.

PuzzleBits Review

PuzzleBits Review

Apr 22, 2014

PuzzleBits is as easy-going as they come.

It’s an easily digestible game, and fairly intuitive with regards to figuring out. The playing area is 2D in nature, with a shaped white grid (usually patterned after animals) taking up the top part; to work within the game concept, the shapes are generally made up of defined lines and angles. Just below this are colored pieces, all of which are polygons of one sort or another; few are generally identical. At this point, the basic idea becomes apparent: fit the smaller pieces to completely fill in the space in the big grid, much as one would do with jigsaw pieces, via dragging and dropping the given pieces to “holes” in the grid.pu1

The developer has done a good job of being just a bit tricky here; the pieces are very deliberately shaped, and the initial gambit is most likely to drag a piece that looks like it can fit into a specific area. Most of the time, this works, but it is clear that there are some false leads built in, because one misplaced piece means the puzzle will be incomplete at the end. At times like this, it is easy to just drag the pieces one thinks are placed incorrectly back down, or simply reset the puzzle back to the empty beginning.

Completing the puzzle causes a burst of color, and the next one is opened. Hints are available, and they allow for players to get free correct piece placements. Hints are exhaustible, but can be bought in bulk with real cash; I do like the fact that the developer includes free ways to get a hint or two during gameplay.

From a simplicity standpoint, the game is hard to beat: simple gameplay, truly optional in-app purchasing and low-frills playing environment.

Golfy Bird Review

Golfy Bird Review

Apr 11, 2014

Okay, I admit it. I really didn’t want to have a go at Golfy Bird. I mean, it is from Noodlecake, yes, which is almost always a positive. Still, it sounds suspiciously like The App That Was Pulled that we deign not mention by name. Frankly, the clones that popped up were somewhat depressing, and I even winced at real birds for a spell.

I was wrong.

Golfy Bird is its own person, and it’s somebody that might be very easy to like, and even fall in love with.

The graphics are appealing, in that they are fairly familiar, with a tint of retro that works. It is first and foremost a golf game, so the 2D graphics that highlight interestingly designed golf greens are expected. The animations are useful, and the whole visual representation is far from flashy, which I think is a good thing. If the courses look familiar, you’re not mistaken; they are based off of the courses in Noodlecake’s Super Stickman Golf 2 game.golfy1

As already noted, it’s a golf game — the idea is to pocket the bird in the holes with the least number of taps. To do this, the controls needed are a left movement button and a right movement button; tapping on them moves the button in the corresponding direction, while continuous, close-interval taps cause the bird-ball to go airborne in the corresponding direction, and it remains airborne and moving. The holes start out easy, and then get harder, with obstacles, bounces and combinations becoming integral. I thought the game could dearly use a zoom mechanism to cut out some guesswork, but the holes can be replayed, which is of some consolation.

The game employs a similar “scoring” system as to that made ubiquitous by Angry Birds, in that there are thresholds of success. If one makes it in the par number, one passes with bronze. A few shots less? Silver… and so on. The game play is leveled, and stars (which are accumulated by finishing holes) are the currency to get into the 30+ successive courses. To remove ads in this freemium game, a 99c in-app purchase is required.

I don’t always fall in love with games, but when I do, I fall in love with games like Golfy Bird. Give it a shot to find out why.

Super Duck Review

Super Duck Review

Jan 6, 2014

In Super Duck, ducks need a hero to free them. They get… Super Duck.

Backstory aside, the game looks and feels like a retro arcade game. There are several ducks in a state of distress, and the goal to lead them to freedom by facilitating their movement to the exit door, which is generally out of reach of the birds in some way.

To help the birds on, the first tool is the ability of our hero to pick up boxes. Said boxes can be moved, and can be used by the ducks to get over obstacles. There are air tubes as well, which can be helpful or hinder. The blocks can be used to block the holes, or even create access to them when needed. In some levels, the one step height of a box isn’t enough; it’s possible to create ladders by combining boxes.super1

The leveled gameplay does not remain stagnant. As the levels go on, so does the complexity. Stuff like doors, for instance, create a time sensitive scenario where boxes have to be moved around to get the ducks to the exit. The action button, nestled to the right of the screen, eventually becomes useful and key to solving levels. Even explosions get a role in this one.

The game graphics are an ode to the past, with subdued colors and suitably stilted animations. The different rescue locations are rendered effectively within the confines of the game. The controls are easy and sharp on tablets.

It’s free to play, so complaining about the perceived shortness of the game feels wrong, but wrong I’ll be. I’d love to see more levels. I do like the solutions, which assist with sticky spots. I would have preferred looser controls as well.

All in all, it’s another example of he concept of simplicity winning day, and the frills-free nature makes it well worth a look.

Random Heroes Review

Random Heroes Review

Nov 22, 2013

May 2D platformers never die. Long live Random Heroes.

As far as platforms go, this one has the basics down: adjusted left to right running, with baddies and leveled platforms to get to. Our hero is outfitted with a gun, but the gun does not perpetually shoot; the a button nestled to the right only shoots when pressed. Just to the left of this button is the jump button, and the bottom left of the screen has two directional buttons.

The gameplay itself mostly rolls in the aforementioned left-to-right fashion, though it is possible to go back towards the left, an at times, it is necessary to do so. There are several dangerous elements, things green-skinned beings that caused damage by contact while generally marching back and forth, armed thugs and even flying machinery. Some ground levels are lined by spikes that cause damage, and if sustained, are lethal. Using the equipped gun, shooting is the easiest way to dispose of the creatures, but it does take sustained gunfire to dispatch them with the lowly ran1starting gun, so evasive moves (like jumping over oncoming creatures) is sometimes necessary. Destroying one of the monsters yields coins which can be collected by contact as well.

The damage from the green guys can be intense, and the life bar to the upper left is a measure of the life source of the protagonist. To replenish it, there are health packs that are strategically located in different parts of the running area. Getting to the door that eventually shows up on the right is the goal per level. And of course, there are boss battles to contend with.

A key part of the gameplay is the ability to upgrade. The process is fairly straightforward, with stuff like guns having the ability to be upgraded with collected coins. Each weapon has measurables (rate of fire and damage infliction) and thus, there is some thought that can be assigned to upgrading slowly or saving up an going big. Characters can be upgraded as well.

The game has fun pixellated graphics braced against an appealing steamish background, and it all comes together well to create an interesting 2D thriller. It is a lot of the same, and this might be a bit of a drawback, but it is not a bad game by any means.

Terraria Review

Terraria Review

Sep 26, 2013

Outdoor survival, nicely-rendered 2D graphs with whimsical monsters and… wait for it… zombies?

People: Terraria is here!

The gameplay takes familiar survival staples and rolls them into a fairly complex system involving manipulation, combination and strategy. The tutorial underlines the basic stuff quite well; the first grand explains how to use the left-set control to move on either direction, as well as how to jump, scale downward… and instinctive movements, like directing jumps in either aerial direction are logical. The tutorial goes on to walk through collection of materials, protection, creations and dangers.

Survival boils down to, well, staying alive. There are bouncy monsters of differing colors that can do damage, and the game shows how to use the standard sword to beat them. Collecting materials invokes using a pickaxe to dig into the ground and getting metal ores of different kinds. Wood is a valuable resource, and to procure this, you can use the axe to chop down trees.

One of the the most urgent tasks is to create a shelter to protect from the undead prowlers that roam as soon as the sun goes down. Using the wood within set parameters, it is possible to build a structure with walls and a ceiling. But a house and walls do not a house make; a door needs to be crafted, and for this, the anvil needs to be activated. terr1

Thus the game goes. There are plenty of situations that demand problem-solving skins and combining tools, like making torches for nighttime use and making iron tools to access other things.

I suspect that what makes this game such a hit with some folks — the logical complexity — could probably be a barrier for others. There are some things that don’t appear intuitive in the gameplay, so I was constant researching gameplay. The pixelated graphics I adored somewhat obscured the identity of some items, so it took a bit more time to figure out what was what. The tutorial is probably the most valuable asset, and the lack of multiplayer is distressing.

Still, it is an exciting game that clearly shows why Terraria continues to be a hit across several platforms.

KickStarter Spotlight: Stronghold 2D

KickStarter Spotlight: Stronghold 2D

Aug 28, 2013

With the ever increasing power of modern smartphones mobile graphics are getting more and more console-like, but eventually one must ask if that truly is a good thing. For one, all that rendering further tightens the already short battery leash, and on a 4.5″ screen, how good do the graphics really have to be? Planting themselves firmly into the two dimensional realm, and bucking the trend is the developing troupe behind this week’s KickStarter Spotlight, Stronghold 2D. Placing solid, addictive gameplay over technical prowess Stronghold 2D is some sort of Angry Birds/Worms hybrid. The gameplay is very simple; with two players commanding separate cities that reign weapons of varying degrees of intensity down upon each other. Stackable beams are used to protect the city, and laser defense turrets are just one of the many items at the player’s disposal. As is par for the course for similar games there is a plethora of upgrade options for each building, and these are controlled by an in game currency that is collected by defeating enemies or via mining buildings that require constant attention.

The game boasts a fairly robust 2D physics engine which helps render each impact as realistically as possible. There has also been a lot of attention paid to the control layout here. One of the state pet-peeves of the design team are games that, although graphically superior, have a broken and unintuitive controlling method. This led the team to work on creating the most simple, and user friendly UI and control scheme possible. Initial renderings look fairly good, and the city skyline silhouetted onto the sky makes for a very attractive background. The interesting thing is how these graphics will change when the designers are able to afford an artist to professionally bring these cobbled cities to life.


A few reservations still remain, however, and these center mostly on the, as of now, untested multiplayer component which is the game’s biggest selling point. Also, the UI could use some touching up around the edges without losing any of its practicality. Also, did I mention it is being developed for basically any device with cross-platform matchmaking included? I didn’t? Well, it’s true. Finally Android fans and iOS buffs can lock horns in a virtual arena and even take on that strange Linux friend from across the hall.

As always here, the game will not be funded without support from the fickle internet masses. So check out its KickStarter page and judge weather this creative and potentially addicting multiplayer experience is worthy.

Retro Racing Review

Retro Racing Review

Nov 29, 2012

Retro Racing is top-down 2D racing at its finest. Created by Jamie Woodhouse, who worked on Psygnosis’ Nitro and ATR for the Amiga, this is a new game in the style of those. Players race against up to 7 other cars, and along the way improve their vehicle mid-race with power-up icons. They can improve top speed, tire grip, acceleration, and provide a nitro boost. These are key to success, as the other cars are fighting for these powerups too. As well, some alternate paths may slow down the player, but may provide valuable upgrades.

The Android release is freemium, with the first two tracks and three cars available for free, and IAP used to unlock the rest of the game and the last three cars, which all have better starting stats. However, these only make a slight difference in gameplay, considering that powerups make a huge difference; after all, when 5 or 6 speedups are being collected, having one or two at the beginning won’t help too much. However, these cars definitely are a great way to get a head start on the opposition. Those with multiple devices should note that the game will sync the unlock of IAP across devices, which is extremely handy. The game plays extremely well on the Nexus 7 especially.

My complaint with Retro Racing is the visual style is somewhat monotonous; the 12 tracks tend to blend together. As well, the game uses the same tracks from the original iOS release – I’d love to see some new courses to play on!

Really, Retro Racing is a jolly affair: it takes a basic premise of top-down racing, and executes it extremely well. Fans of retro gaming are definitely encouraged to check this one out: it’s got plenty to offer in terms of nostalgic fun, while remaining balanced for the 21st century.

Friday Android Free App Recap July 27

Friday Android Free App Recap July 27

Jul 27, 2012

This week we are going to look at games where the main character is a stick figure. Many of us suck at drawing so we can all relate to the simplicity of the artwork involved. There are actually way more stick figure games than I thought there would be.

Stick Fighter 2

Fighting games have always done well with the gaming communities. Stick Fighter 2 is a fighting game with some cool attacking moves. Superman-esque attacks, complete with a cape and one arm out and power sliding kicks make attacking the other stick men a blast.

Download Stick Fighter 2

Line Runner

Line Runner was the first stick man game I ever played. The idea is pretty simple; jump over or slide under obstacles. In reality, the fast pace of the game makes these simple actions challenging to say the least. Try to beat personal distance records or play friends online.

Download Line Runner

Stick Speed Runner

Stick Speed Runner has the little stick man jumping from rooftop to rooftop. Starting out the gameplay is pretty slow but increases the farther through the course he makes it. The only real action required is to tap the screen to jump. Believe me, that’s enough to pay attention too as things start to move fast.

Download Stick Speed Runner


Out of this bunch of apps, StickDraw is different because it is a drawing game, not an action game. Create different drawings and animate them. Remember back in the day at school people used to make the little flipbooks with the stick man jumping through the fire ring or over a car? StickDraw is like that but digital.

Download StickDraw

Stick Combat

Stick Combat adds a little more of a meaty body to the characters. There is a good range of motion for the butt-kicking, not just a 2D scrolling game like others. During the battles boxed with potential weapons to enhance the attacks or food to revive energy might be in side. Break them open to see.

Download <Stick Combat

Run Like Hell: Yeti Edition Review

Run Like Hell: Yeti Edition Review

Jul 13, 2012

Run Like Hell: Yeti is an expansion of sorts for the Run Like Hell game. All of the games are very similar with different themes, kinda like Angry Birds. The basic description of the game is to run like hell from whatever is chasing the scared little man; in this case it is a Yeti.

Run Like Hell: Yeti is a 2D side scrolling game. This makes the controls pretty simple. There is a jump, a slide and a turbo-like onscreen button. As the scared man is trotting through the icy levels, there are obstacles to avoid. Some of the obstacles need to be slid under while others need to be climbed over. Just like in the horror movies, the creature gets closer when the main character slows down or trips and falls.

While running from the Yeti, there are coins placed in your path, Super Mario Bros.-style to collect. Collecting coins lets you buy different things in the game. For example, if you are playing Run Like Hell, you can unlock Run Like Hell: Yeti. The game does have objectives to meet to further progress in the game. Jumping over the icicles that fall from the sky are one such objective.

The overall strategy of the game is to stay as far away from the Yeti as possible. Checking the meter in the top left of the screen will show how close the Yeti is. Timing is key. Sliding under obstacle will be faster than crouching and walking under it. Many times there is a need to go over something but instead of climbing, if timed right, the obstacles can be jumped over.

The most common mode is the endless mode. Endless mode just keeps going and going. Collect more coins and complete other tasks while running forever. Otherwise, the time trial mode is a good way to get the hang of the game. There is no Yeti chasing, just a race against the clock.