Fire Emblem Heroes Review

Fire Emblem Heroes Review

Feb 20, 2017

Nintendo are under some serious scrutiny with their foray into the mobile game scene. Most other publishers can fart out a Flappy Bird clone and no one would think twice but this is Nintendo. Ninty. The House of Mario. Big N. They have standards and a reputation to keep (and a new console to launch) so it’s important that they do things right.

Miitomo aside and ignoring Pokemon GO (which they didn’t make), Fire Emblem Heroes is Nintendo’s first ‘proper’ game to launch on Android (Super Mario Run, where are you?). I’m pleased to say that it’s a success in many, many regards yet it also shows a naivety towards the mobile gaming scene in how it handles IAPs.

Before I get too ahead of myself, let’s explain what Fire Emblem Heroes is. Well, it’s a turn-based strategy game based on the hugely popular Fire Emblem series. Never heard of Fire Emblem? Well, that’s on you – because it is hugely popular. Honest.

The scenario is pure fantasy, dragons and magic fare. Fire Emblem games often boil down to wizards and kings becoming evil or fighting evil or wanting to be rulers of evil. So the story’s not important in the Fire Emblem world, what is important is the mechanic of how you build up an array of characters to go into battle with.

You see, the Fire Emblem games are filled with hundreds of unique characters and the thing that makes Fire Emblem stand out is that these characters can die. Die, die. As in the ‘this character got killed and we know you spent 20 hours leveling her up but she’s dead’ kind of die.

Pretty savage.

Now, Fire Emblem Heroes does away with the ‘proper dead’ mechanic but it is full of the titular heroes and more heroes are being added through updates. Not only has the Fire Emblem’s death mechanic been softened but so has everything else. Console Fire Emblem games can have sprawling battle maps and have you take a large number of units into battle.unnamed-2

Fire Emblem Heroes strips all of this back and has you take only 4 characters into the fight, with the battlefield being a single screen map. This works really well though, as it means that battles are over within a couple of minutes. The combat also has a fairly simple ‘rock-paper-scissors’ strength and weakness system involving spears, swords and axes. It’s straightforward but it’s fast-paced and really enjoyable.

What’s a bit of a let down is the IAPs and the rest of the systems that exist outside of battles. The issue is that there’s shard, crystals, feathers, orbs, dueling swords and a stamina bar to keep track of. It’s more convoluted than it needs to be and it makes levelling up your character more of a pain than it needs to be.

The IAPs need to be called out in particular as they are such a miss it’s unbelievable. Essentially, the only thing you can buy in this game is ‘orbs’. These orbs are used to summon new heroes and they’re the key to getting your favourite characters from previous Fire Emblem games into your party. It takes 5 orbs to summon a character and it costs £1.99 for 3 orbs. 3 orbs are practically worthless. They can’t be used for anything good, so it means that, at a minimum, you’re going to spend £4 just to get a new character, at random.

When you take into consideration the chances of getting a good character (4 stars or better) are 43%. This is an absolutely shocking value proposition, so it’s handy that the game dishes out tons of orbs for completing missions. Which then leaves you wondering just how Nintendo plan on making money off this thing? Who’s buying these orbs?

Obviously someone is – with reports that the game’s already made over $5 million since launch. Still, that’s a topic for another time. This is a review and I’ve got to say I’m impressed with the game. It’s bitesize fighting with just enough tactical challenge.


Tap Titans 2 Review

Tap Titans 2 Review

Jan 30, 2017

Another clicker game? Why do I do this to myself? Good clicker games will simply hook into the part of the brain that creates habits and will keep you playing even if you don’t want to. Bad clicker games are beyond dull and offer no gameplay whatsoever. There’s no way to win when clicker games are involved.

Except – this time it’s different. Honest. This time I’m playing Tap Titans 2 and this time the game is really… good? Who am I kidding? Tap Titans 2 is good in the same way that a Big Mac* is good. You know it’s bad for you but damn it’s tasty.

What makes Tap Titans 2 so tasty? Well, for a start, it’s absolutely loaded with carrots. They’re dangling everywhere you look and there’s just so much to unlock. There’s a daily login bonus, there’s tons of ‘allies’ to unlock, upgrade and each of them has skills to unlock, there’s items to find and equip, there’s artifacts to unlock, there’s skills to learn there’s…unnamed-31

There’s a lot going on and it would be easy for Tap Titans 2 to fail in expressing what everything does. It doesn’t fail and in fact one of the strengths of Tap Titans 2 is the fact that it’s so easy to see what’s happening with each tap and with each unlock. Some unlocks make your taps stronger, some will make monsters drop more gold, some will boost your allies’ strength and it’s simple to figure out. Bottom line is that whilst you have the app open and you’re tapping away, you’re never more than a couple of seconds away from being able to unlock, upgrade or equip something new.

The gameplay itself is nothing special. It is, after all, a clicker game. All of these unlocks and abilities do nothing more than make small numbers turn into bigger numbers. You start off earning 100 gold for each kill but soon earn 100 million. You begin doing 1 damage per tap and quickly start doing 1 trillion.

But it’s all done so well. The graphics are sharp and characters are well animated. There’s tons of content, with lots of different enemy types and locations to work through and at the heart of it all there’s just an unforgiving number of ‘hooks’. Hooks that keep you playing, hooks that convince you to open up the app every day and hooks that make you want to get to the next level. I’ve not even mentioned the fact you can join clans.

Tap Titans 2 isn’t a great game but it is an outstanding clicker. It will reward you for doing nothing more than tapping mindlessly at your phone. But boy do those rewards feel good.

*This only makes sense if you enjoy a Big Mac from time to time. Insert your own junk food / guilty pleasure here


Overtake Review

Overtake Review

Jan 30, 2017

I’m all for simplicity. I’m always impressed when a game can be fun and engaging when all it asks you to do it tap on the screen, learn one or two rules and doesn’t require you to play an hour long tutorial.

In this regard, I suppose, Overtake : Car Traffic Racing is something of a success. It’s blindingly simple. You are a car, you go forward and you try not to crash into other cars. Simple.

This is about as far as I can when trying to praise this game. The simplicity on offer is then let down by pretty much everything else. Firstly, the controls. At the start of each run you get to choose if you want to tile your phone to steer or if you want on-screen buttons. Whilst playing the game I found neither particularly responsive enough to avoid the oncoming traffic, which led to collisions.

Collisions are awful. Instead of looking like tons of metal colliding into one another it instead resembles two dry sponges bouncing off each other. Often a collision won’t be enough to end your run, as the run only finished when your car’s health gauge reaches zero. This means that the collision has now pointed you in the wrong direction, leaving you to right yourself using the previously mentioned awful turning mechanics.

Maybe I’m just not good at the game? Maybe I need to unlock a better car? Maybe you’re right. What isn’t right is the way the game locks everything behind paywalls or asks you to grind for hours to unlock anything. New cars and new tracks will take an absolute age to work towards and their IAP prices are pretty tough to swallow.

Add to the mix the fact you have randomly appearing adverts. After some runs, an advert will fill the screen. After some returns to the main menu and advert will fill the screen. You get no rewards for these adverts and they’re intrusive.

And that’s pretty much all there is to the game. There’s 3 ‘modes’, but they just alter the direction of the traffic you’re driving past. The game is nothing more than a series of dodging challenges but with some bad steering controls. There’s different tracks to race on but they don’t change the game in any meaningful way.

Overtake is boring, controls badly and offers no variation to its poor gameplay. It looks quite nice, I suppose, with some well modeled 3D cars. That’s about the nicest thing I can say about Overtake. It has some nice car models. Avoid it.


The Stunning Art of The Witness on NVIDIA SHIELD TV

The Stunning Art of The Witness on NVIDIA SHIELD TV

Jan 26, 2017



Much has been made of the puzzles featured within The Witness, the recent release from Jonathan Blow (developer of Braid), and they deserve any admiration they receive. The game is more than just a series of mind benders, however. It also offers the chance to tour a beautiful island paradise, one that comes to breathtaking life on the new NVIDIA SHIELD TV.

Rather than go the hyper-realistic route, the developers at Thekla Inc. adopted the cel-shaded style memorably used in a number of other games. In The Witness, that simple but effective art style is used to perhaps its greatest effect yet, turning the varied island environments into a true wonder to behold.

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As you explore the island, you’ll encounter a variety of trees. Some are naked, black skeletons that rise toward the sky while the desert sand stretches around them like a blanket. Others are covered in foliage: greens and oranges, even pink. Their hues bring to mind the cycle of the seasons, and they contrast beautifully with the surrounding foliage and architecture.

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Water is also rendered beautifully, whether that be the placid shoreline as it plays over the shallow sea bed, or the foamy caps of waves colliding with boulders. There also are cascading waterfalls, and turbulent rapids. Water greets you at every turn, constantly in motion, not the lifeless backdrop to which gamers have often become accustomed.

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The island’s attractions, though a pleasure to view up close, often look even better when glimpsed from afar. As you climb the cliffs near the center of the region, you can see roots embedded in the clay wall, protruding the patches of soil that rest between large boulders. Continue along the trail and, at several points, you’ll find yourself looking out over a sea of trees, to distant towers and the endless ocean beyond.

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Such views have rarely been so beautiful within the medium, and the knowledge that you can walk virtually anywhere you see adds another layer to the experience. It’s a seamless experience that makes every boulder, fern, and stretch of rocky trail feel more genuine.

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The Witness is available now on NVIDIA SHIELD TV for $19.99 (half the price of the PC edition). As you solve the island’s puzzles, enjoy beautiful sights such as those pictured above and find favorite places of your own. There are plenty to go around…

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partner’s.

Arcane Online gives MMO fans a new character class to get to grips with

Arcane Online gives MMO fans a new character class to get to grips with

Jan 23, 2017

If you’re looking for a new MMO to get your year off to a good start, Arcane Online will probably do the trick. Gameplay follows the popular fantasy format – slay monsters, join guilds, win loot and level up. Rinse and repeat until you’re the biggest, baddest hero in all of Tristram. Or in this case, the troubled land of Eldine.

With this latest update, Arcane Online has gained a new character class. Alongside the mage, the shaman and the warrior, you can now fight as the archer. A master of the long range, you can hang back and hammer your foes with arrows. Each class has its own skill set, so pick your character based on your preferred play style.

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There’s also a new guild vs. guild event called Dominion Wars. During the battle, up to twenty players on each side attempt to win control of territories, with minions, bosses and towers standing in the way of glory.

To make glory a little easier to nab, the update introduces a buddy system. Essentially, this mean you can summon your own battlefield ‘pet’ to aid you in combat with a range of passive and active skills. There are 28 possible buddies for you to collect and raise, including animals like raccoons, dogs and ducks, as well as magical beings and animate objects like mimics. You can even give them each a name!

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So if your new year’s resolution is to slay more monsters than ever before, you might want to start by downloading Arcane Online from Google Play or the App Store.

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partner’s.

Burrito Bison – Luancha Libre Review

Burrito Bison – Luancha Libre Review

Jan 17, 2017

Some games are about skill, some will challenge your mental capabilities and others have a story to tell. There are also some games that are just exercises in repetition that require little thought and minimal technique. These games can be awesome and Burrito Bison – Launcha Libre is evidence of that.

The set-up is as follows – you’re a lucha libre trapped in a candy kingdom. The only way to escape is to launch yourself from the ropes and fly through the air to freedom. How this plays out is really simple. Drag your wrestler back and launch them, much like Angry Birds, and once you’re airborne you have nothing to do but tap the screen to perform a special ability.

With a choice of three wrestlers, you special ability will differ depending on who you’re playing as. One will slam into the ground at great force, one will launch a grappling hook to pull themselves onto an enemy and another can glide upward before falling back down.

So where’s the game? Well, this being an evil candy kingdom there’s gummy bears everywhere and you need to try and land on them to earn cash. There are different types of gummy bears, some that will slow you down and others that will launch you into the air, speed you up or give you a ball of honey that devours all the bears in your wake.

It’s really basic but it’s compelling because there’s a good variety of sugary enemies to bump into, each with their own unique affect on your character, and there’s loads of upgrades to unlock. You’ll need these upgrades if you want to get your wrestler to the end of each area. Getting to the end of each area is a feat but it’s blasting through the walls will let you move onto the next area of the candy kingdom. So all you need to do is make sure you keep your speed up, keep on upgrading and before you know it each run you make will consist of you breaching multiple cookie walls and destroying tons of gummy bears. Simple.

As you may be aware of, Burrito Bison – Launcha Libre is incredibly simple but it’s incredibly slick and well presented that it’s a real joy to play. Each of the enemies are well designed and fun to crash into, the 3 different wrestlers play only slightly differently but these slight differences make big differences to how you play and the audio gives every collision a real sense of power.

In the end, Burrito Bison – Launcha Libre is a very simple game but it’s made so well, has a lot of variety based around its simple premise and is incredibly generous with its advertising and IAPs. I can’t recommend Burrito Bison – Launcha Libre enough. It’s simple but it’s polished and it’s free but it doesn’t demand you watch a ton of adverts. Great stuff.


Cartoon Network Superstar Soccer: Goal!!! Review

Cartoon Network Superstar Soccer: Goal!!! Review

Dec 31, 2016

For as advanced as sports games have become, with realistic physics and visuals that make you think you’re watching a live game, it’s nice now and then to kick back with some arcade action. In fact, the most complicated thing about Cartoon Network Superstar Soccer: Goal!!! is trying to remember its name.

If you’ve played arcade style soccer games before, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. Dribbling with the ball is as simple as running without it, tackling for the ball doesn’t require timing like in the real world and long range efforts hit the back of the net with frightening frequency. The World of Gumball’s Darwin is a better striker of the ball than Cristiano Ronaldo, it seems.unnamed-6

The action on the pitch is fast-paced and easy to grasp. You have three outfield players on each team with one of your players being a ‘superstar’. A superstar is capable of a special move once their meter is filled up and these special moves are simple to activate, requiring nothing more than the press of a button. Controls in general are simple, with a button for shooting, passing and dribbling being all you need. Holding down these buttons result in ‘bigger’ versions of each action, such as a shot with more power or a pass that travels further. The only difference between each player is the fact that the superstars have their own unique moves, with everything else largely being equal.

These superstars are taken from all manner of Cartoon Network shows, from Uncle Grandpa, Adventure Time to Regular Show. Odds are that you’ll find someone from one of your favorite shows but odds are that you’ll need to spend time unlocking them first. You can unlock characters by simply playing your way through matches and earning coins as you do. Coins are used to unlock characters as well as unlock equipable items, like hats and glasses, that let you customize your characters.

This is a bit of a problem, because whilst playing the game itself is fun, if a little basic, there’s really not much built around playing each match. There’s no real season mode or story mode to speak of. You can play a series of 4 matches, which the game will call a cup and that’s about it. You can also play online, which seems to work pretty well over 4G and using my home’s terrible wifi connection.

Other than that, there’s not really all that much else to say. The presentation is pretty great, with characters managing to look great in the game’s pared down 3D style, along with plenty of audio taken straight from the shows. The controls of the game are pretty tight and work well, considering they’re on-screen buttons, and the arcade action is bound to please most. There’s just nothing that’s particularly outstanding or memorable about this well made yet fairly simplistic arcade soccer game.

Game of Dice’s brand new winter update looks like its best yet

Game of Dice’s brand new winter update looks like its best yet

Dec 16, 2016

Well it’s that time of year again. The days are shorter, the nights are longer, and you’re broke because it’s nearly Christmas, and you’ve spent all your money on everyone else. Well we’ve got a bit of good news for you if you’re a fan of Game of Dice, as Joycity have just release a brand new winter update for the game.

Packed full of cool new features the winter update is looking like its best yet, and promises to be bigger, better and so much more intense than the game has ever been.

Play as the brand new avatar “Wintery Mary”, and obliterate your competition with a combination of skill, ruthlessness, and Wintery-Mary’s special skill to ensure you’re crowned king of the board. Just make sure you pick the right time to put her talent to good use, as you’ll only get a limited time to use it.

And with the addition of a brand new Crystal Village map, the fun just keeps on coming. Adding an intense twist to the original premise, get ready to race your mates around the board to take control of the glacial crystal – letting you ramp up your tolls, and plunge your competition into crippling debt.

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Just make sure you avoid the frozen city blocks, as stepping on one of these will freeze your assets and make them impossible to land on – meaning you won’t be able to collect your precious tolls.

But by no means does the excitement end there, as with a new update comes a new mission. Kick your competitive side into gear, and take on a consecutive mission. Now with every 5 – 10 consecutive matches you win, you’ll be rewarded with a bunch of cool new prizes including loads of brand new skills packs.

With so much fun stuff jammed into the game it’s pretty hard not to be excited about it, and we’re pretty sure it’ll be top of your download list if you’re crazy about virtual board games.

Game of Dice is available to download for Android and iOS.

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partner’s.

Seekers Notes: Hidden Mystery becomes a winter wonderland in latest update

Seekers Notes: Hidden Mystery becomes a winter wonderland in latest update

Dec 8, 2016

Siberian developer MyTona gave mobile gamers a new installment in its hidden object series last year, challenging us to lift the curse from a troubled town in Seekers Notes: Hidden Mystery. As an early Christmas present, there’s a brand new festive update to keep us tapping our way around the enigmatic city of Darkwood.

If you’ve played MyTona’s previous game The Secret Society, you’ll be at home with the gameplay here. Scouring 28 charming and detailed locations for clues, you’ve got to solve puzzles and quiz locals to uncover more about Darkwood’s history and its dreaded curse. If you get stuck on a puzzle, you can request help from a friend – they can leave objects in-game to help you, and you’ll receive an added research reward once you’ve solved it. You can then return the favour when a fellow ‘seeker’ gets stuck. There are 1200 quests to tackle, along with 222 collections to find.

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The first thing you’ll notice with the latest update is that Darkwood has transformed into a winter wonderland. But the frost has brought with it some unwelcome visitors. There’s an ice queen, a penguin who is a right scamp, an evil snowman called Sir Tubby, and they’ve brought company. You have to banish these nasty neighbours by solving puzzles and using items you’ve found. Each time you’re successful, you’ll get a haul of festive goodies including candy and toys, as well as more practical items like fixers. But once the season of good will is over, Darkwood will revert to normal and the newbees will disappear along with the potential rewards. So be quick or miss out.

Download Seekers Notes: Hidden Mystery for free from the App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, and Amazon Appstore.

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partner’s.

Explore the era of piracy and adventure in Oceans & Empires – downloadable now

Grab your parrot and eyepatch and embrace adventure in Joycity’s new strategy MMO Oceans & Empires, available to download now on Android and IOS devices.

You can enjoy the opportunity to explore 60 real cities with your very own fleet during the height of the age of exploration. It will feel seamless to trade, fight, and battle your way to ocean domination however you see fit, in any one of 15 languages with more coming soon.

Whether you wish concentrate more on trading resources with local islands and their NPC residents or grow to fight for your chosen alliance’s victory, Oceans & Empires offers the potential for players to do both in the hope of establishing better trade routes and gain a stronger foothold on the world map.

With over 12 historical fleets of vessels and 12 different levels of troops to take charge with, becoming master of the seas will come naturally, just be prepared to fend off the odd sea creature or two. It’ll be worth it should you be successful.

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So if you’d like to enjoy ultimate strategic battles as well as in-depth trading and looting, Oceans & Empires is the best way to keep a bird’s eye view on it all.

As a special event for the games Thanksgiving Day launch, you’ll also be able to experience some seasonal fun by encountering ghastly turkey monsters out on the oceans and earn yourself some useful booty for hunting them down.

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You can also pick yourself up an item for faster growth, offered to those of you who post your best decorated ship flags on the games official Facebook page as part of Oceans & Empires special launching event.

Try your luck now by downloading the game from Google Play or the App store.

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partner’s.

Pre-register now and pick up some fantastic rewards for Oceans & Empires

Pre-register now and pick up some fantastic rewards for Oceans & Empires

Nov 10, 2016

Avast ye mobile gamers. We have some exciting news for all you fans of strategy MMO’s out there – JoyCity are preparing to release Oceans & Empires next week for Android and iOS, and you can make sure you’re among the first to experience the nautical fun by pre-registering for the game right now.

Oceans & Empires is a visual stunning oceanic empire builder set during the golden age of exploration of the 16th and 18th centuries.

You can set the sails on twelve different historical fleets of vessel, as well as command a dozen different levels of troops to build an empire and conquer your opponents in engaging ocean battles – as well as trade, plunder, and forge alliances along the way.

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Pre-registration for Oceans & Empires has just opened up, and as well as giving you a heads up when the game is globally launched JoyCity are also offering some really useful in-game items – including five item units of 12,000 wood and food, 2,500 gold, and twenty items of that increase building speed.

So if you’d like to get a head start on the rest of the fleet, simply enter your email on JoyCity’s pre-registration page here. Also be sure to check out all the news for Oceans & Empires on the games Facebook Page.

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partner’s.

Roll your dice on a whole new platform, Game of Dice is now available on Facebook Gameroom

Fans of Game of Dice, get ready to experience the game in a whole new way following its launch on Facebook Gameroom.

In case you’re not familiar with it, Facebook Gameroom is a new platform which delivers a Windows PC experience to your favourite mobile games.

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Not only can you enjoy enhanced graphics, but you’ll also get the benefit of Facebook Gameroom’s brilliant network connection without any loss of features.

In case you’re already playing the mobile version of Game of Dice you can get in on the Gameroom gaming experience simply by logging in to Facebook on your mobile device too.

JoyCity, the South Korean developers behind Game of Dice, are also running a very special launching event that will reward 100 winners with 100 gems. Not only that, but a further 30 lucky players will receive not just the gems but also a ★6 Skill card.

To give yourself a chance of winning these fantastic in-game items you simply have to post a screenshot of the game on your Facebook feed plus a comment about your experience of playing Game of Dice on Facebook Gameroom.

So if it’s a new experience you’re after, head over to Facebook Gameroom and check out Game of Dice right now.

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partner’s.