Dessert Storm Review

Dessert Storm Review

Jul 22, 2013

Dessert Storm is a cleverly named matching game that will make you think of a particular B game that most likely inspired it.

As far as Pick 3 games go, it is fairly familiar. The graphics are very colorful, which somewhat goes with the sett eats motif. The backgrounds are almost literally explosions of color, with animations like rising balloons occurring continually. The tokens themselves are colorful desserts that make the use of pastels to come to life.

Again, the gameplay is very familiar. It’s bejeweled in with a sweet tooth’s dream exterior. The playing area is made up of a grid with 81 pieces at any given time; to score points, sets of three have to be created by switching positions of eligible pieces. Horizontal and vertical sets count, but diagonals don’t. When a set of at least three matching, consecutive desserts is made (by tapping adjacent pieces to switch their positions), they explode, generate points and disappear, and gravity takes over, with the resulting space being filled by pieces above and from beyond dessert2the playing area; this way, there are always 81 pieces in play. If any other matches are made as a result of the cascade, they too follow the action sequence.

To be successful, a keen eye for shapes and colors is always good, as shapes are not the only category for successful matches. A lot of times, building from the bottom yields the best result.

The game comes in three modes: Relaxed, Classic and Rush. They are all fairly self-explanatory, but I thought the classic version was kind of long. That particular mode comes in levels with score requirements to proceed.

On my review devices, the play pieces were almost intolerably small, and I could not figure out how to change this. This made the pieces hard to swap, and, for me, fat fingering was common.

For a Bejeweled clone, it does the job of keeping the game close to heart without duplicating it, which for a lot of gamers, makes the perfect time waster.

Treasures Of The Deep Review

Treasures Of The Deep Review

Jul 18, 2013

Might as well admit it. I’m a sucker for when it comes to match-three arcades and the like. They are almost always complete rip-offs of each other, simpler than angering a wasp in rehab, and innovations in this genre happen about as often as South African penguin stampedes. But I can’t help myself: although I like complex, original games as much as the next critic, I can sit hours in front of Bejeweled, erasing more bricks in one sitting, than were stolen during the construction of the Great Wall. I’ve completed Tetris (this might have happened in a dream). Also, I don’t like this next critic. Basically, I’m a hardcore casual player. So, I hope my excitement about Treasures Of The Deep is well understood. I like this game, but it’s definitely not for its innovative gameplay, or amazing story.
Treasures Of The Deep 1

Treasures Of The Deep is a match-three arcade game, which really means it’s Bejeweled with a texture swap. It does have a couple of new gimmicks, and actually has an illustrated story, which is rare for a mobile arcade game, but the gameplay is the same classic experience. There’s a tiled field that contains differently-colored gems. These gems get destroyed whenever there are three or more of them in a line. The player can switch any two neighboring gems. The goal of the game is to collect a set number of shining gems, which get spawned randomly. If it is completed in a set time limit, a golden or silver star is earned, although it’s not a necessary requirement.

An interesting mechanic allows upgrading power-ups that destroy several tiles in a row, or several tiles of same color, etc., spending the gold, acquired during the game. The story is the usual deal about a girl, who embarks on a journey, following a set of clues, given to her by her missing father. Although it’s nothing really interesting, it’s a nice touch that adds to the general richness of the game – and it does look rich. It has great soundtrack, incredible graphics, and smooth controls, all of which definitely place it among the best casual games. I was pleasantly surprised with Treasures Of The Deep, despite the fact that this developer often releases games of great quality.

It’s very safe, and not remotely original, but it’s a very well executed not remotely original, and it definitely plays great. Oh, and it’s not exactly “free” – it requires a dollar-worth activation upon reaching an 8th level or so, also removing any ads. Which is a great deal, I think, because Treasures Of The Deep is really good.

Zapresso Review

Zapresso Review

Jul 10, 2013

Bad Crane brings us Zapresso, a game that taxes the mind and finger dexterity.

Most likely, it bring to mind cross-platform hit Bejeweled, but the gamepley is a bit more free-flowing. The square grid that makes up the game has squares of different colors, just like in Bejeweled. It looks appealing, with utilitarian visuals and effective animations.

However, the gameplay had more than just subtle differences. Instead of manipulating the board to get sets of three (or more) jewels of the same color to pop, in this game, the strategy is to zap big clusters of jewels that touch each other. Demolished squares yield points, and are immediately replaced by new, ransom squares that cascade from the top.zap2

And all this is done against a countdown timer. In true arcade style, large zaps cause valuable time bonuses to be earned and added, allowing for more time to score even more points.

I like the special bombs and the flashing squares. Tapping either of these at the right time unleashes explosive stuff that helps take out like-colored squares. There are also built-in penalties that occur if a solitary square is touched; then, standing time is deducted from the countdown timer, thereby reducing the time one can use to accumulate points for higher scores.

I think the true appeal in this game is the ease of play. After a few rounds, I got what I thought was a decent high score. I got my 7-year-old son, did some boating, and watched with dismay as he broke my treasured score on his first try. For a time, we went back and forth, having an immense amount of fun while trying to usurp resultant high scores.

If family fun is a worthy goal, this game fits the bill, and I’ve seen the proof firsthand. It’s a fun game, with plenty of upside.

Bejeweled Blitz Review

Bejeweled Blitz Review

May 8, 2013

Bejeweled is an icon in gaming. It’s the definition of cross-platform fun, and since I played it on my Palm ages ago, it dates me. It’s the perfect time killer, and has the benefit of appealing to folks from all generations.

Bejeweled Blitz is yet another souped-up version of the original, with time-based gameplay, jazzed-up scoring and an emphasis on communal sharing.

The game itself had plenty of familiar elements.The playing area is made up of a square grid containing 64 jewels of random different shapes and colors. My job was to use swiping gestures to create matches of three or more jewels which translated to points. As in the original, matches could be made vertically or horizontally, but not diagonally. Every blitz1time I created a set, the diamonds burst and disappeared, allowing for more random jewels to drop from the top and replace the ones that were gone. If I was good enough to create sets with 4 or 5 matching jewels, some great bonusing super-jewels were created. And all the wheelin’ and dealin’ could be done 60 seconds at a time.

The one-minute time limits were what took the game to a crazy place. And I do mean “crazy” in a good way. The limit created a challenging environment were speed of movement was beneficial. I learned that strategically, the first set of three that I could create wasn’t necessarily the best option; at the same time, the game favored the quick of hand. The duality of choice was fun in and of itself.

The bonuses were nice, with stuff like T-shaped set-ups invoking explosions and bolts of lightning. I really liked the animations, as they worked well with the bright color scheme. The moments were smooth, and I was unable to find any lag or even minor stuttering. There were extras that could be procured with gold coins, and that could be expedited with real cash. The game encourages sharing a great deal, though it isn’t necessary.

All in all, there is little not to like in this fun iteration.

Candy Crush Saga Review

Candy Crush Saga Review

Dec 21, 2012

When I first beheld Candy Crush Saga, I honestly figured to be underwhelmed. I mean, it was JABC (Just Another Bejeweled Clone), right?


Outwardly, it did have some familiar elements from popular tile-matching games: the method of swapping pieces is to create point-accumulating cascades and super pieces in a standard grid, but there was more than just subtle differences. First, in this game, there was colorful candy. Creating sets of three caused the three to explode; creating a line of four created a super-candy that could make major cascades.

Now, what made the game fun was the scoring methodology. To progress, I had to finish the level-specific task, like scoring a set number of points in a set number of moves, or pulling down randomly placed food items to the bottom and off the grid before running out of my ration of moves. This meant every move had to have a purpose, and it forced creativity towards the end.

Every level was rated via stars, and not finishing a task forced me to expend a life. Another kicker is that I had a set number of lives, and after so many “deaths” I was locked out the game for spell… impressed I wanted to pay real money for the opportunity to get back in earlier. This was somewhat of a bummer, but I cannot begrudge the reasonable (in my opinion) monetization, and I respect a developer that gambles on a game being that addictive.

Graphically the game animations were pretty nice, with explosive sequences that looked good even on non-amoled screens. The developer made good use of colors, and the candy-coated music and voice-overs mostly worked to enhance the experience.

That’s the great thing about reviewing products. I get to inadvertently judge a book by its cover, and then prove myself wrong.

Candy Crush Saga: here’s to you.

Zoo Keeper DX App Review

Zoo Keeper DX App Review

Jan 24, 2012

While I personally have never been a major fan of games like Bejeweled, I do find them fun for a while, but their repetitive nature wears on me. The whole connect-3 genre is hard-pressed for innovation, which is part of what makes Zoo Keeper DX a very intriguing game. To start off, if you’re not a fan of Bejeweled then I am not sure Zoo Keeper DX will do enough to make you change your opinion, but I found it to be a more enjoyable and intense experience than Bejeweled.

If you’re not familiar, Zoo Keeper DX is the mobile port of a fairly popular Japanese puzzle game that originated on the GameBoy Advance with subsequent releases on the PS2 and Nintendo’s DS. The biggest difference between Zoo Keeper and other games of its genre is that for the main mode you are instructed to collect certain amounts of animals, and when you have secured ‘x’ number of each animal that round is over and another one starts with a slightly higher objective. This twist adds a nice layer of depth and because you’re timed, makes for a much more intense game. Frantically scanning the board for that last chain of pandas is certainly an unique experience. This is aided by the changing facial expressions of the animals who do not like to be kept waiting. Other than the running counter above the playing field, the angry expressions of the animals you’ve neglected to capture remind you of your objective and also give the game more heart.

Unfortunately, I found myself playing this game on silent a lot because the the repetitive soundtrack gets very annoying very quickly, and the decent sound effects don’t do enough to make up for this. The graphics are your typical pixel art, which look great, and all the menu’s are local and well implemented. Overall, Zoo Keeper DX is a solid puzzle game for anyone looking, but if you’re not a fan of similar titles there just isn’t enough here to warrant a change.