Solar Swarm Review

Solar Swarm Review

Mar 10, 2014

Yes, Solar Swarm is a tower defense game… but it’s a tower defense game with more than a little bit of attitude, mean-mugging its way to gameplaying relevance.

It’s comfortable in its dual skin, as it moonlights comfortably as a space shooter without skipping a beat. In this one, the background graphics are not overly eye-popping, but to be fair, they probably don’t have to be; the visuals are simple in representation, and do the job of conveying the tale of a structure under attack. The animations are smooth, and do their part to move and prove the action. The overall design depends on a soft darkness, with enemy craft and power-ups clearly denoted.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a game delve faster into the action. I tend to prefer tutorials, but I kinda dig how this game grabs the player and chucks the player unceremoniously in the deep end of the pool. The first swarm comes sol1with a quickness, and it is fairly easy to discern how to control the defense mechanism, which is a rotating gun set in the middle of the playing area. Narrowing in on the central unit from offscreen are creepy floating objects reminiscent of the sentinels in the Matrix movies. The general idea is to prevent these troublemakers from reaching the center unit by firing on the incoming enemy by tapping on them. The first few swarms are somewhat easy, but then it gets quicker, and soon, it is an all-out tapping frenzy.

To help defend the onslaught, there are some arcade type power-ups that can be initiated via gestures and replenished: shielding, bombs and barriers. For folks wishing to get a better selection, in-app purchasing is available.

It’s a surprisingly fun game that cleverly offsets monotony with simple, fast=paced, competitive sequences. It’s free to play, so take a deep breath first.

Trust me on this.

Monochrome – Shooter/Labyrinth Review

Monochrome – Shooter/Labyrinth Review

Mar 4, 2014

Don’t take Monochrome – Shooter/Labyrinth Review too, too literally.

It’s a first person shooter crafted around the backstory of the abduction of several women — one of whom is the player’s wife, which, raises the urgency level.

This game gets its heartbeat from the intricate artwork; it’s mostly bathed in blacks and whites, with an ominous dash of red for effect. The area to be searched has uniquely designed walls that conceal objects… as well as some spooky dangers. Overall, the artwork conveys a palpable sense of foreboding and is quite well done.

The labyrinth in which the adventure takes place is a confusing mass of walkways, rooms and dead ends. As noted, it has a first-person perspective, and the hero husband is decked out with a re-loadable pistol and a cutesy compass. The mono1controls are mostly spread around the bottom, with a general movement toggle to the left, and a button to “swing” eyesight round on the right, along with the firing button and reload utility.

The lighting is challenging, presenting mostly darkness only pierced by what seems to be something like an unseen miners hardhat light. Early on, the player is treated to huge spiders, which are the main antagonists in this game. They materialize seemingly out of the walls, lumber around and are unnerving in their lethality. The gun is effective against them but require a degree of aiming accuracy and multiple hits. Letting them get too close and getting some licks in leads to game death. Getting through them, brings a sense of satisfaction, but this game incorporate some arcade elements, so beware of the boss creatures.

Searching and discovery is the name of the game, and patience and awareness are key. The gameplay is leveled, with success opening new levels.

I feel the control set can be tweaked for smoothness. A better mapping system could be useful too, but all in all, it is that type of game that keeps one quite engaged, and wonderfully priced.

Nutty Fluffies Rollercoaster Review

Nutty Fluffies Rollercoaster Review

Feb 13, 2014

Everyone has a “driving” bucket list. Think about it: haven’t you ever wanted to captain a shrimp boat? What about a tank? The toddler choo-choo train at the mall?

You know you do. Well, it’s time to add and strike rollercoaster conductor to/from the list. This is what Nutty Fluffies Rollercoaster from Ubisoft can do for you.

It’s an inviting game with a large heart, the latter point underscored in the engaging artwork. It’s a fun, cheerful romp, with smooth animations and subtle use of perspective.

The gameplay allows the player to control a rollercoaster add it travels along courses of varied design. The carts are not anchored to the course, so with a little bit of momentum and sharp dips, the entire linked contraption can gonutty1 airborne. Movement is generally achieved by swiping from left to the right in the direction of the travel, while swiping in the opposite direction decelerates the carts. The overall objective is to finish the course in one piece, while accumulating coins to “build” the newly unlocked levels.

At first, it does feel easy, but the game does get a bit tougher. Moving too fast can have unforeseen consequences, and conversely, slowness can have dire consequences; landing too roughly can upend the unit and kill the run, as can missing a key jump. Generalized laws of physics come into play and have to be accounted for.

The game employs some cool arcade elements. Collectible hearts line the travel space, and it does take some contorting to get to some of them. Collecting hearts is useful, as it converts to gold at the end of the level. Also, there are plenty of boosts and extra carts that can be purchased with gold. Levels can be repeated to gain the gold coin supply, and there are also tasks to be completed. Short on gold? More can be obtained with real cash, or via Tapjoy specials.

All in all, it is an engaging piece of software, simple in concept, but with plenty of play in i that should appeal to folks from different age groups.

Ghul Review

Ghul Review

Jan 8, 2014

Ghul is a futuristic arcade-type thriller that matches hi-res looks with otherworldly challenges. When will we learn that sarcophagi are never, ever good?

This game comes in a glitzy wrapper, with high def splashes of color and rapidly changing environments denoted by suck backgrounds and eye-popping animations. The eye candy is fast and plentiful, alternating blues, greens, reds and everything in-between and beyond. Different circumstances are in gameplay are underlined by visual cues, and it all comes together rather well.

The gameplay is your familiar running play with a twist. Our hero is Jett, and he gets to man an interesting looking craft that, minus the heavy artillery, like a hovering jet ski. The craft is controlled by a joystick on the left (tilt controls are optional in settings). It’s possible to dart left or right, jump up or dive down with the virtual ghul1controls. On the right, there is a shooting button that unleashes the weaponry needed to survive. The basic premise is to avoid obstacles and bad guys while collecting coinage and power ups.

It’s the running course and different type of enemies that define this game. Numerous demons make their presence felt, some stationary and others becoming akin to flying, lethal drones. Dealing with these makes up some challenging play even before the virtual environment is considered.

And the flying area is no bed of roses. It feels like the sprawling underground secret bunker gleaned from the game’s backstory. Sliding doors, sharp turns, metal structures mix precipitously with the shooting enemies to create an environment that tests reflexes. Being hit continually and/or crashing degrades the flying vessel and eventually ends the run.

The game incorporates challenges which can be skipped by using “meeds” (and meeds are purchased with “cellests” which line the running area and collected contact.

Some if the graphical interchanges were a bit soft for me. I didn’t like the tilt mechanism; it was just on my test device.

All in all though, it’s a fun game, high on the looks and packing a lot of action. Folks won’t be falling asleep on this one.

DuckTales: Scrooge’s Loot Review

DuckTales: Scrooge’s Loot Review

Oct 22, 2013

DuckTales: Scrooge’s Loot is another Disney Inc. game. While it only lightly touches upon the DuckTales storyline, we’ll try not to hold that against it.

With regards to actually playing, the tutorial is quite informative, with mini-tasks that help learn the ins and out of the gameplay. Movement, shooting, switching weapons and such are all touched upon, and I had to physically do these things to advance. If I may be so forward, for all but the simplest games, such tutorials are invaluable, and should be standard fare. Controls consisted of a general directional toggle that works like a neck swivel, allowing the character to look around, up or down. The joystick controls movement, and there are buttons to shoot and toggle different weapons. The weapons are whimsical, and frankly, should be played to be enjoyed; hauling around a water duck1closet that fires plungers is an opportunity most people won’t ever have.

Scrooge’s golden loot is the center of this adjusted Flag battle. Several teams battle it out in unique locations to collect as many bars as possible. Winning involves blasting the competition, ducking enemy fire, and collecting the most gold. Michener is facilitated by unique jump squares that can send combatants airborne to higher levels. The shooting mechanism isn’t complex, but I did find ducking a bit toy easy of technique, in that I was able to literally hide away from opposing fire.

At the end of a round, the winners are proclaimed, and battle can then be resumed. Of course.

Looks-wise, it is more than okay, with the 3D backgrounds looking good against the duck characters. Good color, neat animations and the non-goriness all add up to make an attractive package, and the sound were goofy without being too cartoonish. The third-person perspective worked, and the environments provided were quite creative, encompassing different light conditions.

All in all, it’s a fun diversionary game, simple in concept, and not drowned out by IAP. Perfect for local and multiplayer gaming.

Bloo Kid Review

Bloo Kid Review

Sep 6, 2011

Bloo Kid’s girlfriend has been kidnapped by an evil wizard, or so the story goes in this retro-styled platform game. You’ll have to survive through 60 levels of running, jumping and monster stomping if you hope to get her back. The gameplay is simple, but the challenge hits on multiple levels as you attempt to fulfill the requirements of completing each level to perfection.

Bloo Kid is a lot like the arcade version of Mario Bros. There is no grand, sweeping adventure, and no power-ups. You aren’t exploring vast levels for hidden items or ducking into underground realms, you’re just trying to stomp all the monsters in a level before heading to the next one.

At the end of each level, your performance is evaluated. The ultimate goal is to collect 3 stars on each level. You do this by defeating all the enemies and catching a special star at the end of each level without getting hurt. However, you only need to defeat all the enemies on a level to pass it, which includes defeating the boss at the end of each world before getting a cutscene that furthers the story.

Aside from the star collecting, finishing a level really comes down to surviving the wave of enemies. There’s a specific number of enemies in each level, and you get a handy counter to let you know how many more you need to dispatch. There’s a puzzle element to each level as you try to memorize and anticipate the behavioral patterns of enemies and places they materialize. It’s a good thing that lives are infinite, because you’ll be dying plenty of times. Also, there’s no time limit, giving you plenty of time see how each level works as you formulate a plan to finish a level.

All of the action takes place on one screen; there’s no side-scrolling, climbing or exploring to do. The set-pieces, challenges and enemies constantly change, but the action only ever takes place on that one screen. At the end of each world lies a boss fight that changes things up. The same basic gameplay mechanic applies, and the challenges to grab all three stars are still there, but you’re facing a significantly larger enemy that requires multiple hits to take out. After successfully knocking the boss down, you end up on another world in a new setting, new set pieces and enemy types. It’s these small changes that help keep the game from becoming tiresome.

If you like the exploring and adventuring aspects of some platformers, the lack of such in Bloo Kid might come as a deal-breaker. However, if you’re more appreciative of the core mechanics of a platformer and enjoy the challenge of fighting multiple enemies while memorizing their movements and behaviors, Bloo Kid could easily provide a few hours of entertainment. With plenty of arcade action and retro-styling, it’s a good looking, entertaining game that should keep you on your toes. Bloo Kid is ad-supported, but the ads are non-intrusive and only appear on the menu/title screen.

101 Games in 1 Review

101 Games in 1 Review

Jun 1, 2011

101 games for the price of 1. Sounds like a great deal, right? Especially when you consider that the price of those games is free, how you can you possibly beat that? Well, just because something is free doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost something. Like, your precious time, for example.

This collection of mini-games was produced by Nordcurrent, a European game developer and publisher. Ported from the iPhone, 101 Games in 1 features puzzle games, arcade action games, gallery shooters, racing, sports, cooking and even Sudoku. There’s a little something here for everyone, and as you play through them, you’re sure to find a few diamonds in the rough. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many diamonds to be found, but there is PLENTY of rough.

In the beginning, you start with 10 games that you can play to your heart’s content. Each time you play the game, you’re aiming to beat a certain score so that you can rack up enough points to unlock more games. As you go, the games become more expensive, requiring you to go back, play the unlocked games more and get even higher scores. It’s not an unreasonable proposition, and certainly adds to the replay value, assuming you like what you’re playing.

The games in this collection are all simple, easy to play games. Some simply require you to touch the screen to get some action to happen while others will have you frantically tapping and dragging objects all over the place. As for the difficulty, the games range from very easy to nearly impossible.

An example of an extremely easy game is the air-hockey game, Tornado Hockey. Laughably, I discovered several “sweet spots” where I was able to park my mallet and watch the AI continually miss the puck. Again and again, the puck just kept bouncing right into the goal. After a while, I set my phone down and waited for the timer to expire. The AI never variates its attack, the pacing never changes and the game never gets any harder. It just repeats the same exact movements until the timer runs out. It’s a bit pathetic, but it only gets worse.

These are among some of the worst, “Punch the Monkey” style games imaginable. Really, I’ve seen better Flash-banner advertisements than some of what you’ll find, here. Some feature controls that are so unresponsive that they are barely playable while others have such poor hit detection and physics that, even when you’re playing the game correctly, you still can’t win. They’re just broken, terrible games wrapped around advertisements and offers to gain points by downloading apps, signing up for services and more. And that’s 101 Games in a nutshell, really.

If you’re looking for a collection of quick games that don’t require a lot of time or commitment, this app is for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a well-produced game with real merit that is actually worth your time, I recommend you look elsewhere.

Topple Towers Review

Topple Towers Review

Apr 14, 2011

You know what’s the problem with physics puzzlers nowadays? They’re all 2D. Real physics takes place in three dimensions, I say! Topple Towers agrees with great fury. Topple Towers puts you in a 3D environment, with a bunch of blocks and objects to shoot cannonballs at. However, the red and green blocks are your main concern. Your goal is to knock over enough red blocks to get their height down below a certain point, while leaving the green blocks above a total certain height.

The game’s concept is interesting and challenging – there’s some thought required to figure out how to properly beat some of the levels without knocking over the green blocks. There are 45 levels in the main mode, with 10 bonus levels as well, and you don’t have to play them in order if you don’t want. The game also has a solid physics engine, and you have to often find creative ways to exploit it to succeed. This is a physics puzzle game, with an equal focus on both words in that phrase. The game also lets you adjust the graphical performance for lower performance devices, or to adjust which parts of the engine you want to be more powerful than others.

Visually, the game needs a lot of work – it resembles a mid-90’s PC game in its interface and graphics. The controls are very problematic as well – the default sensitivity is way too sensitive to aim properly. The first thing you should do is set to a lower value in the options, and you’ll find the game far more enjoyable. As well, the aiming is tricky as you can only rotate around a circle around the level, so you might think you can get to a shot, only to find out that you don’t have an angle. Humorously, you actually can interact with objects if you reach them – I’ve knocked over a stack of blocks that had fallen in an area that I moved to.

Topple Towers is not a beautiful game by any means; but a creative physics puzzler is what it is. If you can get past the mid-90’s PC game interface and visuals, then you might find yourself a physics puzzle game that’s worth playing.