League of Stickman Review

League of Stickman Review

Aug 6, 2015

Stick people are fun. Period.

And here we have League of Stickman, a game based on the famed figures, bringing warrior combat to handheld Android gaming.

Yes, sir.

The game has a dark feel, visually and gameplay-wise. Specifically with regards to the former, the game employs dark shades with muted pastels, with the stick people super-imposed in dark personifications. Graphically, the developer is able to sew in decent amounts of usable animations, and the incorporated sounds do a good job of helping the action los2along. Altogether, it’s an atypical presentation that mostly encases the experience well.

The control set lies to the bottom right, and the movement buttons are to the left, allowing the player to use a dual stick method to move and fight. It feels fairly natural, and doesn’t take up much of the important space.

The gameplay itself boils down to an understated beat ’em up type of game. The protagonist warrior moves around, and enemy fighters emanate around, looking to do damage. All parties have life-bars, and the idea is to ensure that the protagonist warrior outlasts the enemies intent on destroying it. Success allows for more heroes to be unlocked, which is particularly useful with regards to the Boss levels one encounters.

While there is a lot of action to be had, because of the way the gameplay is organized, there is the risk of simply slashing through engagement. In other words, the playing area sites get crowded, and one might look to get by button-blasting. Not the sexiest way to play, but it does work at the lower levels.

There is plenty of play to be had, and the game is simple in the way it comes together. The RPG elements are not overpowering, and the leaderboards allow for bragging rights to be earned.

Worth a look, we say.

Fightback Review

Fightback Review

Jul 29, 2014

Fightback puts the player in the bloodstained shoes of Jack a hard ex-soldier whose sister has been kidnapped by Drago, a mysterious figure from his past. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue Jack’s sister?

Screenshot_2014-07-24-19-51-11Fightback nails the old school Beat ‘Em Up vibe perfectly. Jack, the stone cold badass, makes his way through seedy locales such as trashy apartment buildings and dirty rooftops and bashes up mohawked punks and guys in leather jackets who shout at him. While doing this he wears a dirty white singlet, aviator sunglasses and jeans. It feels exactly like the kind of world found in classic fighters like Final Fight and Streets of Rage and the sweaty, dirty atmosphere is tangible. You half expect Jack to get into a Dodge Challenger and light up a smoke at the end of each level.

Combat is loads of fun in Fightback and very fluid. Taps punch, while swipes kick. A series of taps or swipes executes a combo and they can be mixed up any which way. Jacks position when you attack also affects what happens, so swiping up after ducking to avoid a punch results in a jumping knee while swiping behind Jack executes a nasty back kick. When the game’s rolling along with multiple enemies in screen it’s a dynamic mix of frantic dodging and brutal looking punches and kicks

Screenshot_2014-07-24-20-29-01Enemies can be kicked into the air and pummelled like makeshift piñatas. Lowlifes come from both sides constantly, so the player must decide whose blood gets on their knuckles first. Like any good Beat ‘Em Up, weapons like bats and cleavers are dropped by enemies that can be used. Guns also play a small part in Fightback. Shooting a punk in the face is undoubtedly an excellent way of stopping him from attacking you, but guns can only be bought between levels and are extremely expensive.

Fightback has a lot of freemium features. The game constantly bugs you to spend money on temporary buffs like bulletproof vests but money is much better spent on boosting stats. Jack starts off rather weak and boosting both his defense and attack strength is vital to surviving the crowds of enemies in later levels. Upgrades get pricey in a hurry and the game never seems to award quite enough money to play the game properly. Repeating earlier, already beaten floors isn’t just a good idea, it’s required.

Fightback also includes a dreaded energy system. Jack can handle six fights before having to rest for about an hour to refill his energy. This never changes. If Figthback dumped its energy system it would improve the game immensely.

Fightback looks fantastic. As said above, it nails the 80’s action movie style and there is a great sense of atmosphere and personality. The sound is very well done as well. Pumping action music and painful sounding combat really make Fightback special.

Fightback is yet another quality game trapped in the mire of freemium. It has some super fun gameplay on offer and players who can look past its annoying freemiuem features will find some smooth exciting gameplay.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Apr 1, 2014

Movie companion apps are almost always a good idea, and Gameloft provides us with another one in Captain America: TWS.

The game starts off with an urban backdrop, with a good deal of mayhem reflected in the visuals. The 3D graphics are intricately done, with high rise buildings seemingly getting just as much design attention as character shadows and road surface markings. The Captain looks heroic as ever, even from the top down perspective that the game is rendered in. The colors that are used to highlight health and good versus evil are bright and hard to miss.

The gameplay itself is a combat thriller with fantastic beat ’em up elements; The Captain and his crew do cap1S.H.I.E.L.D’s bidding. There are plenty of henchmen to dispatch, which Cap does physically with his hands, feet and shield. The attacks are automatic as soon as our hero gets within arms length of the baddies, and when enough damage is inflicted, the bad guy is vanquished. It goes both ways though, Cap and his crew have a set amount of damage they can sustain, too; Cap’s life bar is in the top left. Fortunately, there are health packs that help assuage a bit of damage. Movement is achieved via joystick or simply touching the screen you want Cap to move to. There are special powers, and Cap’s shield is a weapon in and of itself, and can be flung by swiping.

An interesting part of the game is the aforementioned crew. Success opens up more spots, and some are quite useful. The sniper, for instance, is able to take out the enemy from a distance, thereby neutralizing danger before it gets close. There are familiar bosses too, multiplayer functionality and upgradable equipment.

All in all, it’s a decent game, free to play, albeit for only two levels; to go on, one needs to unlock the game for $2.99.

Thor: The Dark World Review

Thor: The Dark World Review

Jan 7, 2014

Thor: The Dark World is loosely based on the movie of the same name. Does it break the curse of poor movie games?

Thor: The Dark World’s interesting gameplay spark is its reliance on summoned allies. During missions Thor can summon lesser fighters, such as swordsmen, archers and so on. These warriors will aid in combat. Indeed, using allies is rather vital to stay alive as they act as meatshields and take some of the heat off of Thor in battle. Unfortunately, allies have nearly non-existent AI. Once summoned they march forward constantly and die very quickly. They ignore enemy numbers or other dangers and cannot be ordered to go after a specific target or even told to wait. This makes them remarkably short lived.

Screenshot_2013-12-30-08-35-22Besides the allies, Thor is a pretty basic beat em up. Thor runs along, bashing up any evil fiends with Mjolnir and can use the occasional godly power to wipe out groups at once. There really is little else to it. Allies don’t add enough to the game because of their hopeless AI and there’s not much else to do but tap on enemies and watch the repetitive animations.

For a god Thor is surprisingly weak. It’s easy to go from full health to dead in a matter of seconds, even against basic grunt enemies who should be little more than speedbumps. Indeed it is much better to stand back and attempt to throw Thor’s hammer at enemies like an enraged home handyman while the meatshields do all the melee combat. Thor feels weak and unskilled, which is really not acceptable.

Thor: The Dark World has fairly bad controls. Ordering Thor to attack is a very dull experience: simply tap once and he auto-acquires targets. Getting him to throw myjolinir is an exercise in frustration however. The controls for throwing it are so imprecise that even hitting a stationary chest is a complete pain, let alone using it in actual combat. Thor’s movement just feels very unresponsive.

Screenshot_2013-12-30-09-05-12The game features no less than three types of currency.. First there’s Runes, the in game currency, then there’s ISO-008 used to power up Thor and his abilities. Then there’s Uru, which is used to charge money for a lot of things. Health potions, the most basic item in any game cost Uru here. To unlock anyone cool from the movie, like Loki, will cost a serious amount of real world cash to buy the required Uru. Even basic tasks, like reviving Thor if he dies on a mission costs a fair chunk of Uru.

At least Thor: TDW looks nice. The graphics are highly detailed and the sound is decent enough, with plenty of clangs and yells.

Thor: The Dark World is a poor game. With poor controls and uninspired gameplay Thor: The Dark World can’t be recommended to anyone.

Fist of Awesome Review

Fist of Awesome Review

Oct 18, 2013

Fist of Awesome is the beat ’em up revitalized. Or, in keeping with the theme of the game, a bear ’em up. I’ll see myself out.


This is a time-travelling action game where players control lumberjack Tim Burr, who gets possessed by Fist, on a quest to defeat evil bears that have taken over the planet all across the timeline of Earth. Tim earns experience as he beats up bears and fights boss bears which can be used to get more health, strength, speed, or a stronger special Fist attack.

The problem with most beat ’em ups is repetition: they get old fast. Not so with Fist of Awesome: it avoids this pratfall thanks in large part to the depth of the combat. Having so many different moves means that it’s possible to strategize in combat – it’s all about controlling the crowds, knocking enemies down to keep them from overwhelming Tim, and using the Fist move to deal large amounts of damage at one time. Perhaps the Fist move is a bit overpowered, but it requires a short setup time that also leaves Tim open to attacks, so there is a trade-off there.


The controls are great with a gamepad – I spent most of my time sitting back on my couch playing with my Nexus 4 hooked up to my TV, and using a Moga Pro to control the game – and I highly recommend doing this. Fist of Awesome is perfect for console-style gaming (it’s available on Ouya and GameStick for those who want it on their microconsole of choice). But the touchscreen controls are excellently-implemented: all combat is done with taps and cardinal swipes that all make contextual sense. It doesn’t get in the way of combat at all. Would I rather play with physical controls? Yes, but the virtual controls are still great.

The campaign will take at least a couple hours on the first go-round to defeat, with harder difficulties unlockable after beating the game. There’s an Arenas mode where players get to fight enemies for a limited amount of time in the game’s levels, but this mode has problems. For one, most of the objectives, which need to be completed to earn more XP and to extend the timer, are often extremely difficult to get. As well, the different characters having all kinds of different stats seems like an unnecessary hindrance as they all have their own stats that need to be leveled up. Why not just make them different skins for Tim Burr, particularly as he will always be the most powerful character and has health regeneration?

Fist of Awesome is a game starring a bearded lumberjack fighting bears throughout time. That’s a lofty premise to live up to, and I’m proud to say that the game does not disappoint. I highly enjoyed this, and beat the story mode in one sitting. I rarely just lose myself in a game for hours on end any more with the breadth of games I have to play, but Fist of Awesome did just that. Check this one out.

Ultimate Stick Fight Review

Ultimate Stick Fight Review

Jul 11, 2013

So many of us cut our gaming teeth on scrolling beat em ups. You know, those games like Fighting Force that gave us the opportunity to graphically beat up hordes of violent thugs. There was usually the simplest of backstory, plenty of swinging limbs and even a weapon or two to procure.

Ultimate Stick Fight is in that same glorious vein. Jumps, kicks, punches and tons of people to practice them on.

And stick figures.

Part of what sets this game apart is the look; instead of regular-looking characters, we get souped up, colorful stick people. Interestingly enough, the developer does well with colorization, and is able to imbibe a good usf1deal of character into the thin guys. The movements and animations were fairly life-like, but kept the whimsical nature that we expect in characters of this genre. When matched with the numerous, creatively diverse backgrounds, it makes a pretty compelling 2D visual feast.

The gameplay is fast and furious. The incorporated tutorial is brief, giving our protagonist (two choices) some purpose, which in this case, is to save the city from the “Man.” And the Man, as to be expected, has plenty of thugs to spare, and sends them in swarms. The first stages are basic and easy to understand, and this is helpful as it allows time to get used to the virtual controls that guide movement, jumping, kicking, punching, and holding. Additionally, there was a rechargeable bomb feature that helps with the large swarms down the line.

The enemy combatants basically try to do to me what I am trying to do to them: inflict enough damage to wipe out the life bar. Craftier opponents with different weapons start making an appearance as the game progresses, and it becomes clear that the in-game upgrade system is a key component. Successful level completions gives payouts in virtual currency, and this make-believe cash can be used to upgrade player attributes. Such upgrades make the game much easier to play, and the procurement of these can be expedited with real cash. Levels can be replayed for cash (or two increase the star score, as in Angry Birds) but the cash payouts are not as high as the initial go.

All in all, this game is a fun diversion, even if only because of the familiar genre and the unique visuals. This makes it appreciable across age generations.

Double Dragon Review

Double Dragon Review

Feb 5, 2013

For a bit of old-school, 2-D-ish style horizontal-sliding “beat-em-up” gaming, Double Dragon, from G-Gee just might earn a spot at the table.

If the game unconsciously brings back memories, it’s probably because of its roots as a gaming favorite on arcades, consoles and eventually, as a cartoon series and live action thriller. Double Dragon has seen many iterations, so I was pretty pumped to see how it would turn out on Android.

The storyline was familiar, and was quickly brought to bear via cutscenes: twin brothers — only discernable by different colored-bandannas and different hair colors — run a modest martial arts dojo five years into a post-apocalyptic world. Resources are scarce, and Billy and Jimmy share everything, including an admittedly uncomfortable collective affection for Marian, who has been kidnapped by the Black Warriors Gang. My obvious quest was to pick a hair color and fight to rescue Mariana in the character of one of the brothers.

Music and graphics were very well done and quite appropriate as a representation of the era that this game represents. The graphics seemed to be painstakingly recreated, from the finicky movement patterns to the bounce of dispatched bodies.

The gameplay was a trip to retro land, with hand-to-hand battles filling up the screen. I had control of basic attack moves, and my basic goal was to move on by beating the life bars out of my opponents before they could do the same to me. There were different game modes, and different at outset; I could play till one side lost (Dragon), but I could also choose a timed type of game (Time Attack). I could also select the type of control complexity, as well as the overall level of difficulty. Most of the things I loved from arcade games of this type were present, down to the ability to collect and use lost melee weapons and tougher boss characters.

I thought the control type menu could have been a bit more consolidated, as I hated to choose between ease of use and availability of attack moves, but it did serve a purpose. I was definitely not a fan of having to register with the to play, either.

Still, I liked retro titles, and I really liked Double Dragon, and not just because of its history. I thought it handled itself well regardless of its pedigree, and this is what makes it fun to play

Demon Hunter Review

Demon Hunter Review

Jul 7, 2011

If we’re to believe videogames, improbably-haired Asian teenagers are always being dragged into parallel universes. Once there, they must fight demons, have awkward conversations with large-breasted women and save one, some, or all of the days.

The latest entrant into this genre is Demon Hunter, an Android action RPG that casts you in the role of the subtly named Gun. Gun is dragged into an alternate reality by the even subtler named demon, Greed, and from there has to fight things, collect things and engage in badly translated dialogue exchanges with grumpy NPCs.

Demon Hunter is a side scrolling 2D beat-’em-up with RPG questing overtones and a frankly perplexing levelling and upgrade system. Armed with a sword and a gun, which you can swap between with the tap of an on-screen button, you guide Gun on a quest to find out what in alterna-Hell is going on.

Combat is quick and rewarding, with everything you need for slaughter displayed clearly on the screen. The only let down is the size of the buttons you’re using to control Gun – they’re a little small, and sometimes you’ll find yourself leaping in the air when you meant to bring a large sword crushing down on the head of an enemy.

The screen might be a little cluttered on smaller Android devices, but the action runs smoothly and there’s always something to be doing or killing. The respawn rate of enemies is perhaps a tad too high – you’ll sometimes be hacking the last of the on-screen enemies to death, only to find that the first three you killed are back and hungry for vengeance.

If you can get past the poor translation and the few niggles outlined above, then you’ll find Demon hunter to be a rewarding experience. The combat is fun and although the story is a gibbering bucket of nonsense, there’s plenty to do, explore and murder. Just a warning though, there seem to be some problems with the game’s latest update and rooted phones. Whilst that doesn’t change the quality of the experience, make sure you read up on whether it’ll work on your device before you download it.