GooDroid! World of Goo is Coming Soon to Android!

GooDroid! World of Goo is Coming Soon to Android!

Oct 4, 2011

Indie developer 2D Boy’s PC and WiiWare hit World of Goo became an iOS hit last year, when the game finally hit the iPad, and later the iPhone and iPod touch. Now, the game is hitting everyone’s favorite Linux-based mobile OS, Android! With just a simple post announcing that the game is “coming soon” and the nickname GooDroid, Android owners suddenly have a new game to get hyped about.

The gameplay, which has been often imitated by other games such as Tiki Towers, involves using a variety of goo balls to build structures that must reach a certain point in the level. The game has also become known for its sense of humor and distinctive art style. The Android version will support both phones and tablets; the iOS version was initially for the iPad only before 2D Boy made the game work properly on the smaller screens. We’ll have a full report on the game when it releases. Until then, I build up hope that the game will be playable on my refrigerator. Just not in my refrigerator, it’s cold in there, and I’d much rather keep goo out of it.

Cows Vs. Aliens Review

Cows Vs. Aliens Review

Sep 9, 2011

Throughout the ages there have been countless rivalries documented and romanticized as tales told and passed down from generation to generation. David versus Goliath, the Montegues versus the Capulets, the Hatfields versus the McCoys, Republicans versus Democrats, Coke versus Pepsi, Pirates versus Ninjas, so on and so forth. But the one rivalry seldom heard about is the one of Cows versus Aliens. Finally, one developer brave enough to turn their powerful, amazing story into a game is XMG Studio with the game Cows Vs. Aliens.

Cows Vs. Aliens is simple enough, in concept. You’re constantly herding a steady stream of cows into a barn to protect them from incoming alien ships. As cows appear in the pasture, you just use your thumbs to push them along, ushering them towards the open doors while keeping the aliens at bay by shoving them off the edges of the cliff. The game ends when you either run out of time or allow an alien ship to slip by and into the barn.

While the core gameplay is simple, there’s a little more nuance to the game in the form of dozens of challenges to be met that earn you “milk points” which you can use to buy new stages, upgrades and other items. The addition of special cows with abilities to extend time, provide huge bonuses or eliminate aliens do help to keep the game interesting, but there still isn’t a lot of depth to it. The very arcade-like gameplay is rather shallow and sees you repeating the same stage again and again as you attempt to meet each challenge.

Conversely, if you don’t mind spending real money, you can completely circumvent many of the very difficult challenges by simply buying all the milk points you need. Seeing as how the game, itself, is free, this might not be such a bad option. In fact, depending on how adept you are, spending money on milk points might be the only way you can get enough to actually buy anything. Again, some of the challenges are very, very difficult to pass, and they earn so few points that you might never pass enough of them to afford the items you want.

One of the most frustrating things about Cows Vs Aliens is that the touch controls aren’t as good as they could be. I’ve noticed that the game doesn’t always register touches, making a difficult game even harder. It’s unfortunate as the game is a lot fun due to the arcade-like experience of racking up points and competing with friends over OpenFeint.

Sporting some rather high production values, the cute graphics and interesting concept make it seem like this game has a lot more to offer than it actually does. However, the shallow gameplay and multiple flaws tell a slightly different story. If you’re a fan of short, simple arcade games, you’ll probably enjoy this very much. If you’re looking for a deeper gameplay experience, however, this might not be enough to hold your attention.

Herman the Hermit Review

Herman the Hermit Review

Sep 6, 2011

At first glance, I thought that I was really going to enjoy Herman the Hermit. After all, the gameplay bears a lot of resemblance to other platform jumping/auto-running games that I’ve played, and I’ve always enjoyed those. But Herman the Hermit gets a lot wrong, and it doesn’t waste any time in showing you its ugly side.

Herman the Hermit features the titular character in a race against time. As strange as it may seem, his goal is to leap across a series of floating platforms as he collects power-ups and special trophy items. As the clock slowly ticks down to zero, the only way to build up time is to jump far enough to skip several platforms, causing butterflies to fly into the clock and adding extra seconds while raising the score multiplier. It doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the basic premise.

Controlling Herman is accomplished by swiping in the direction you want him to go. An upward swipe causes him to jump up high while tapping causes him to make short, quick leaps. It’s important to understand the distinction between movements because platforms can show up anywhere on the screen and the slightest wrong gesture will send Herman tumbling into the void. Advanced maneuvers earn you a higher score, but if you fall, you’ll lose your score multiplier along with precious time. Once the clock runs out, game over.

The problem with the controls is that they are terribly inaccurate. It takes a lot of finesse to get Herman going in the direction you want him to go, and even then, it’s a sketchy proposition. Sometimes, Herman just dives off the edge of a platform rather than leaping across the gap, or going in the complete opposite direction you need him to go. It’s very finicky and works against you, most of time.

Even if you become proficient enough with the controls to keep the game going, there’s not a lot of substance to keep it interesting. It quickly becomes an endurance test as you wonder, “Just how much more of this can I take?” Collecting power-ups, trophies and other items just becomes dull and tedious before very long. Other problems include long loading times and annoying background music. The technical problems ruin this game, but even without them, it’s just not a lot of fun.

In the game’s favor are the charming visuals and subtle, witty attempts at humor to keep it light-hearted and funny. From the names of achievements and trophies to the animation sequences when Herman dons a jetpack or rides the back of a rocket for several seconds, the game does its best to put a smile on your face. If only the rest of the game could provide as much fun and entertainment, it would be a much better experience. Instead, you’re left with a frustrating, boring game that you won’t want to play for very long.

Kona’s Crate Review

Kona’s Crate Review

Aug 18, 2011

For anyone who’s ever shopped online and found themselves gazing longingly at their front porch or mailbox, wondering, “Where’s my package? Where could it be?” to the point of near-psychosis, now’s your turn to be on the other side of that scenario. As Chief Kona’s delivery person, your mission is to pilot a rocket-powered platform carrying Kona’s crate through a twisting obstacle course filled with hazards and dangers untold. Get Chief Kona his crate under a set time, and you’ll earn yourself 3 stars for the effort.

The premise is about as wacky as you can get, and as much as the theme and setting are completely “out there,” it makes for a much better experience than, say, a generic, physics-based game set in the empty void of space, or among soulless, geometric shapes. Of course, that’s until you allow your mind to wander towards some darker, “Se7en” inspired territory as you wonder, “What’s in the box?” It’s probably better that we don’t know.

Controlling the platform is easily accomplished by tapping either side of the screen. Getting it where you want it to go, however, can be a hair-tearing experience. Touching the left side fires the left rocket while the ride side fires the right rocket. Touch both sides and each rocket fires at the same time, giving you maximum thrust. Once you become proficient with the finer intricacies of moving the platform around, you’ll find yourself capable of doing flips, rolls and quick directional changes without dumping the crate, which is extremely easy to do. Dump the crate, and the level is pretty much failed, because there’s no way to pick it back up.

Where the game gets especially tricky is when you accidentally nudge the crate slightly to one side of the platform. Suddenly, you’ll find that the platform becomes incredibly unstable, tipping easily and near-impossible to control. What a sense of accomplishment you’ll feel if you can actually get it to its destination, though!

There isn’t too much to complain about in Kona’s Crate, except that it can get a bit tedious. Depending on your stamina, you might not want to deal with more than 85 levels of nail-biting stress and frustration. Odds are, though, you will. You’ll be compelled to keep trying long after you might think you’re done with the game. It definitely hits that, “Just one more try, I’m sure I’ll get it this time!” spot.

One nice touch is that the environment changes slightly as you progress through each of the 4 “worlds” (plus one world of bonus stages). You’ll notice that each has its own theme, such as “Sunny Skies,” “Dusk,” “Starlight” and “Stormy Skies.” As you might guess, the lighting and background changes in each theme to reflect the time of day and environmental conditions. It makes for some diversity.

Throw in the extra challenge of OpenFeint achievements and the promise of more levels to come and you’ll find that there’s plenty to do in this game. Now, if we could just get Chief Kona to stop ordering so much stuff, online. Seriously, what’s in the box?

Pixeline & The Jungle Treasure Review

Pixeline & The Jungle Treasure Review

Aug 2, 2011

Ever since those halcyon days of running around, jumping on the heads of goombas with the Mario Brothers, platform adventure games have held a firm place in my heart; I love them. When I came across Pixeline & The Jungle Treasure, I knew I’d found something special.

Pixeline is very much in the same vein as other classic platforming games except that you play as an adorable little girl going on a jungle adventure in search of map pieces that will lead you to treasure. There are no bosses or weapons in the game and only a moderate amount of violence that includes jumping on furry monsters, slimes and other bad guys.

In each of the 23 levels spread across 5 worlds, you’ll find coins, treasure and other collectible items. Some are out in the open while others are less obvious, and many are tucked away in places you can’t get to. In fact, it’s by design that you can’t reach some items. As you progress through the game, you’ll be granted the ability to transform into animals with their own unique abilities that will make previously inaccessible areas easy to reach. You’ll have a lot of fun going back to old levels and playing them in a whole new way.

As cute and cuddly as Pixeline appears, one thing you shouldn’t take for granted is the challenge ahead of you — especially if you aim to collect all the items on each level. Moving platforms, monsters, bottomless chasms and other dangerous obstacles make sure this jungle adventure is no easy task. Yet, even with all the environmental snares designed to stop your progress, one snare that was never meant to be one is the controls.

The traditional d-pad is replaced with a sliding nub that moves left and right. It’s an analog control, designed so that you can vary the velocity of your movement, and I absolutely hate it. When it works in your favor, you can make quick, tight controls, allowing you to turn on a dime. Mostly, though, you just end up moving too slowly, overcompensating and/or missing a jump, running into an enemy or heading straight off a cliff. It gets very annoying.

While it comes down to personal preference, my preference is to have digital buttons so I can time my movement, as opposed to an analog stick. Timing is critical in a platforming game, and the analog control just completely throws me off. It’s no wonder Pixeline’s developers, OSAO, chose to optimize the game for the Xperia Play and included Zeemote support.

Pixeline & The Jungle Treasure is a great platforming game despite my dislike of the controls. It appears to be appropriate for children of all ages, although younger ones may not have as much fun due to the difficulty level of the game. It stands out for featuring a female protagonist who loves adventure and braving the world without appearing vulnerable or pushing the limits of good taste with risque outfits and behavior. It’s just good fun.

Syrious Blasts! Review

Syrious Blasts! Review

Nov 22, 2010

Syrious Blasts! for Android comes to us from Visual Systems Corp., makers of Syrious Scramble, seriously! This Rocket Mania clone is a puzzle game in which you try to connect various shaped fuses to form paths to blast a barrage of fireworks before time runs out. Syrious Blasts! is available in the Android Market in both a Lite (Free) and Full (Paid) version so as always give the Lite version a try before purchasing. Shall we blast off a rundown?

Ngmoco + Android + Rumors = “We Rule”

Ngmoco + Android + Rumors = “We Rule”

Sep 22, 2010

Last month, sources reported that Google Ventures (money, money) invested somewhere in the realm of $3-5 million dollars into popular iPhone/iPad game developer Ngmoco. Why would they do this? I’ll let you guys ponder that. Of course, Google Ventures denies any direct correlation between money-money and Ngmoco’s recent announcement to start developing for Android but I’m not buying it (Google is buying it, ba-da-bump). Either way, it’s more good news for Android users.

Has anyone else noticed the recent influx of game developers jumping on the Android bandwagon? One would see it as the next logical step for game developers but why all of the sudden? This brings me to another rumor floating around. The one about Android supporting in-app purchases in the next couple of months. Now these rumors are starting to add up. It just makes sense that highly popular and profitable game developers such as Ngmoco (who rely heavily upon in-app purchases) would be flying over to Android. Another recent addition to the Android gaming market is that of EA Mobile who coincidently develops games that support in-app purchases. You get my point.

Another plausible explanation for this rush of new development could be due to Apple’s recent launch of its new online social gaming service “Game Center” We now see developers of popular Apple iOS games such as Ninja Fruit (which integrate social networking platforms like OpenFeint) heading over to Android. Ngmoco is another huge player who integrates its own social networking platform “Plus+“. It could be possible these once juggernaut social gaming networks are foreshadowing their own demise on iOS and are smartly deciding to search for other ways of survival. More speculation but sensible in my opinion.

What does this mean for us Android users? It means now we too can enjoy the once iOS exclusive games and no longer have to settle for the cheesy knock offs that litter the Android Market. If rumors are true it also means more free games which will support in-app purchases. The only constant I keep hearing is “More Games”. I don’t know about you but every time I say that I get goose bumps.

With that said, I would start working out those game fingers and prepare for the onslaught of gaming greatness that should be hitting the Android market very soon. Rumor also has it the first game Ngmoco will be releasing for Android will be their hit title, “We Rule.” How’s that for an obvious reference to Android and its users. *wink*

So what have we learned today. We’ve learned that some simple math + some reliable rumors = Android awesomeness.

Sources: MobileCrunch, mocoNews

Soccer Superstars Review

Soccer Superstars Review

Sep 21, 2010

Who would have thought the game of soccer would one day be played with hands only? Gamevil certainly did and they have convinced the little green Android that Soccer Superstars, their latest addition to the Android Market, is the way to do it.

I wouldn’t consider myself a vuvuzela weilding uber soccer fan but I do enjoy the game so I was eager to try this out. Demoing this RPG style sports game became sort of an oxymoron considering there were more features than, well, this thing:

Fruit Ninja For Android

Fruit Ninja For Android

Sep 20, 2010

“It slices!” “It dices!” And for one easy payment of 99 cents, you too can own this “fabricator of fruit fury,” this “slicing sultan of strawberries,” this reigning “walloper of watermelons.” So, what are you waiting for?! Click on over to your local Android Market and “Buy one today!”

Did you like my classic Ronald Popeil impersonation? No? Oh well, I tried. In case you haven’t heard, the very addicting & highly popular iOS game Fruit Ninja has sliced its way onto the Android platform. At only $.99, this ginsu game is a steel (get it? steel?).

Apparently the guys over at Halfbrick have found a long lost ninja scroll that clearly states “All ninjas hate fruit!” and Fruit Ninja is what happens when someone tauntingly tosses fruit in front of one. Very fun and very addicting, this game results in endless hours of unproductivity.

Tetris Review

Tetris Review

Sep 14, 2010

Ahh, the good ol’ Soviet Union. They’ve given us spies, vodka, the Cold War, and even Rocky IV. But I still believe their single greatest contribution to the world came in 1984 when they convinced all of us non-believers that tetrominoes could be fun. That’s right, I’m talking about Tetris. Twenty-six years later and Tetris is still highly addictive and reins supreme, holding the Guinness World Record of “Most ported video game”. So it should come as no surprise that Tetris is now available on everyones favorite (wink) platform. What platform is that? Wait for it.. A.. wait for it.. ANDROID! (what did you think I was going to say?)

Get Ready to Get Your Bird On!

Get Ready to Get Your Bird On!

Sep 2, 2010

Who loves angry birds?
Who hates egg stealing pigs?
Android does!

Rovio, creator of the highly contagious game Angry Birds has announced plans to scrap its closed beta testing and release an Angry Birds Lite Beta app to the Android masses this Friday. (Giving us one more reason to go get the swine flu vaccination early)