Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake Review

Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake Review

Jun 27, 2014

Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is a Kickstarted puzzle collaboration between SleepNinja Games and Cartoon Network The game is self-described as being like Legend of Zelda, and that specific description is apt. The 2D stylings are whimsically implemented, with cutscenes and dialog boxes used to move the gameplay along. The intro action kind of plods along, but as soon as one gets through that, the backstory catapults us into the digital quest. Our protagonist is a young boy named Niko, who, upon wanting to experience the renown glory of cake for breakfast on his birthday, finds that his cake has been stolen by the Boogin King and his cohorts in a fit of “cakelust.”

Accompanied by his trusty canine companion, Niko looks to save all treats by looking to best the Boogin King. In practice, this is done by solving puzzles presented in the leveled series. It starts off simple enough to highlightmon1 the controls: tapping and dragging to guide the movement of our hero.

The first few levels introduce the top-down view and the escalating mind-benders, most of which involve getting from point A to B. B is usually a piece of cake and/or some coinage. In between both points is an obstacle or two… a river, spikes, etc. The spikes are generally controllable by pressure plates, but the trick is to keep constant pressure to keep them down. To do this, the random block structures come in handy, as they can be pushed or pulled over the pressure plate. Then, the cake piece (and other goodies can be retrieved, and the level is completed.

As the game goes on, more elements are added, like helper monsters and timed levels. There’s plenty of stuff to unlock (including costumes) and fantasy lands to explore. It comes together nicely without being cheesy, and is familiar without being overdone; the game flows well in most parts, and escalates naturally. The puzzles do feel somewhat formulaic at times, and the intro dialogue somewhat bogs down the gameplay at the beginning, though. I did enjoy the simple graphics, as they lend a bit of charm to the overall atmosphere. I also think that while the control mechanism can be stubborn in places, it is far from unusable.

It’s a fun experience, with several elements to enjoy in chunks or small morsels.

Caveboy Escape Review

Caveboy Escape Review

Mar 20, 2014

Caveboy Escape is an enjoyable combo-type puzzler.

It takes the match-3 paradigm, and tosses in some tile travel to create a fun series of puzzle situations. The tutorial does a fine job of walking players through the finer aspects of the gameplay. The successive playing areas are rectangular, and made up of smaller tiles. The tiles are of different colors seemingly randomly placed, and there are usually two special points, start tile (point A and an end tile (point B). Facilitating the escape means moving the avatar from point A (usually at the bottom of the screen) to point B (towards the top). cave1

Now, movement is guided by one major guideline: the avatar moves in steps of three tiles of the same color. So, to get from the beginning to the end, one has to find a set of three tiles (end on end or adjacent), and then another set of three, and so on and so forth, till you get to a tile that is adjacent to he end tile, from which escape can be made. Control is done by gesture swiping, and the playing piece can only move in the approved manner; if the move does not follow the rules in an attempted direction, the playing piece won’t move. Moves can be reversed when progress seemes impossible.

The first level or two are easy, and as mentioned, the tutorial plays a part. A quick visual look definitely helps to take stock of the situation and plan moves. Eventually, the gameplay gets harder, with layered puzzles and interesting angles like timed problems with potions as helpers. Levels can all be replayed, and getting the coveted three-star ranking is a huge goal.

Even with the extras, the game can feel a bit monotonous at times, but in short spurts, it is a fun, engaging time waster that is worth a look.

Lost Words Review

Lost Words Review

Feb 18, 2014

Word games can be hit or miss; Lost Words is one which attempts to liven up the best parts of the genre.

The gameplay comes in two flavors, Classic and Arcade mode. Each mode is further broken into four levels of difficulty: Kid, Easy, Normal and Hard. For the most part, the game is the same in both modes; the playing area consists of word blocks stacked six high and representative of the six tries one gets to solve the word. The width, which is the length of the word, varies by level and is generally longer with tougher difficulty.

The general premise runs thus: there is a word, with maybe a starting letter given as a hint piece. The goal is to guess the word in the least number of tries. When a wrong word is guessed, the game automatically looks to see if a letter from the right word is there. If there is one or more, it will highlight it in green if it is in the right lost1place, the game engine retains it on the next line in said correct spot. If it is not in the right position, it will be highlighted in burnt orange on the built-in keyboard.

To visualize this, if the game asks to solve a five-letter world starting with G (lets say GLOAT). If the first guess is, say, GOALS, the game retains the G in green, and highlights the O and A in burnt orange, so the player knows those words are in the word, just in the wrong place. If the next guess is GLOWS, the game would retain and highlight in green the G, L and O.

Thus, in this way, via guesses and process of elimination, the word can hopefully be discovered. Points are assigned for correct guesses, with bonus points and game coins assigned depending on how early in the cycle the word is guessed. In Arcade mode, there are helpers that can be purchased to help solve the words, like a guessing tool. There is also a spinner which, when tapped, spits out a random helper or obstacle. Missing the word ends the run.

I think the game mechanism could use more polish; while it might be a deliberate design decision, I don’t like the fact that there isn’t a way to play around with the known letters. The game might feel a little bland as well.

In any case, it is a decent game, with fun gameplay, and can be the perfect time waster.

Stack Rabbit Review

Stack Rabbit Review

Dec 9, 2013

Stack Rabbit is a gentle puzzle-solving game from Disney.

The gameplay starts out very simple — almost too simply. The game area is a visual garden of varying configurations depending on the level. The garden is split into square patches, with most having a vegetable of one of three colors either growing or ready to be picked. At the simplest levels, the veggies patches are “guarded” from a thieving, babysitting rabbit by a delightfully narcoleptic dog. The basic premise is to abscond with plant goodies by stacking matching colors of veggies on the rabbit’s head by a factor of three or more; a set if at least three are dissolved for points Tetris-style. The colors must be checked off according to the game listing located the right side during an active round. If the rabbit moves into a square with a mature plant, it is automatically stacked. Movement is gained stack1by gestures.

The kicker is that the colors must match, and there is only a finite number of match attempts per level. Now, a different color can be picked up (and this might even be a necessary strategy at some levels with the difficult arrangements, but again, as in Tetris, these random color square can be reduced eventually if stacked with at least two more pieces of the same color. When a set of three is realized, patches are either reactivated randomly, and/or patches with young plants become full grown and eligible to be stolen. Further on, the game throws out multiple sets, with a true check off list, which need to be corrected in order. Failure to do this wakes up the dog, signaling the capture of our antihero and the end the run. Then there are times the dog is awake, and hunts the rabbit line by line; variations like this make the game, and I wish there were more.

Stack Rabbit provides a bit of delayed gratification… if one is patient enough. It is a decent timewaster, but to be fair, that’s what I think it wants to be the most.

Special Enquiry Detail 2 Review

Special Enquiry Detail 2 Review

Oct 16, 2013

G5 hits up with yet another hidden mystery thriller in the name of Special Enquiry Detail 2. Yes, it’s a sequel of first game of similar name from the productive development house.

In this one, brides are being hunted by the maniacal Engagement Killer, and it’s up to detectives Lamonte and Turino to figure this out. They get tapped by special request from the influential relative of a bride-to-be.

At it heart, this game is a hidden object game. The gameplay almost immediately goes for quick identification and isolation of clues that can be used/manipulated to help solve the bigger mysteries. Interacting with characters is a huge part of the game; very useful information can be gleaned in this manner, and are almost needed. Logical sequences need to be adhered to, and in some cases, solving a current problem entails going “ahead” in the game to collect itemspec1 that can be used to solve said problem.

Mini-games are also a part of the solution process; in the one a keen eye is needed to separate wires; others are as simple as looking for specific items.

The graphics are nice, with creative cutscenes providing atypical buffer. In fact, this is one game that I looked forward to seeing how the video clips linked the story together. A lot of detail is put into making stuff look realistic, with wistful coloration adding a degree of gravity to the storyline. The dark scenes looked sufficiently spooky, and even the audio bits conveyed the plot nicely; the game uses both dialogue bubbles and audio to denote speech.

I though the graphical representation of person-to-person interaction could have been a bit more refined; the disembodied torsos weren’t ugly, just a bit weird when weighed against the rest of the graphics. Some clues are bit extraneous, but as far as flow, this is one of G5’s more polished offerings.

Which, with G5’s history, is saying quite a lot.

Save the Snail Review

Save the Snail Review

Sep 6, 2013

Save the Snail is a fun little game that brings another perspective of positional physics to Android gaming. Familiar gameplay rules the roost these days, and it is nice that this one brings it while stepping out on a ledge.

And no, this isn’t just Yet Another Angry Birds Clone. In this one, the goal is to keep the snails safe from aerial dangers that can cause injury. Basically, there is usually a snail (or two) that exist in the playing area. The overall goal is to prevent the mollusks from being crushed by falling rocks (don’t ask) or being zapped by especially vicious sun rays.save1

The first level kind of explains what is needed to be successful in this game. Using everyday materials that the game provides (in this case, matches and pencils) to create a protective shelter over the snails before the sun floats by, or a shower of pebbles does their damage. The items to be used are suspended in the air one after the other; tapping them makes them fall straight down, and the items mostly obey the laws of physics, so a rough release can have bad consequences. As soon as the last item is dropped, the hazards start moving.

The playing areas and objects vary. In addition to the first two items, stuff like buttons and attracting cheese make an appearance. The objective sometime shifts from creating protection to moving the snails to an existing cover; in some levels, nails and spiked tools force timing to become a part of the strategy, and puzzle-solving logic becomes crucial. The levels are timed, so quickness is a factor.

The visual aspect of the game is simple, with emphasis placed on the foreground contraptions. The animations are effective, and work well within the game principles.

Save the Snail a fun game; it feels familiar, but is reasonably different. Great price too, so there’ll be no regrets, but much to potentially gain.

NumberOne Review

NumberOne Review

Aug 23, 2012

Brain teasers keep the mind young. I think I read that somewhere but can’t remember where. By playing games to evoke thought, the hope is that mind will work like a muscle and get more awesome the more its used. And with apps like NumberOne, now we can work our brains from anywhere.

NumberOne is a brain teasing game to test reaction time. The game is deceptively simple, see the numbered tile at the bottom of the screen and tap the same numbered tile at the top of the screen. Pretty simple, right? Think again. (No pun intended.)

What makes NumberOne a challenge is the mind trickery they play. The number at the bottom might be the number 2 on a red tile. The brain is looks for the color first so at the top, the red tile might be 10. To find the right number the eyes and brain need to look for a number 2. To add to the neural trickery, they toss in dual numbers. So when the red 2 is at the bottom of the screen, there may be a red 10 and a green 22. Both are meant to trick the way the brain processes what the eye sees.

For those people out there who feel like NumberOne is way too easy, there is a Hard level. Instead of small numbers there are triple digits, and not the easy numbers. 539 might pop up at the bottom and the top numbers may be something like 529 or 839 or 536. Number close enough to cause a second look and slow reaction time.

Remember, the whole point of the game is to have the fastest overall reaction time. When the Stroop effect is added to the equation, reaction time is slowed. Working out the brain using games like NumberOne will keep the mind muscles more youthful and sharp.

X Construction Review

X Construction Review

Apr 18, 2011

X Construction makes me glad I’m not an engineer, as I got to see the dark side of the profession, when shoddy building could lead to people’s deaths. In this physics-based building game, like a distant cousin to World of Goo, your goal is to build bridges for trains of various lengths. These trains like to cross over perilous chasms, and the task has fallen on you to build the bridges that they have to cross. However, things are rough in this economy, and you have limited supplies of girders with which to build these bridges. So, your goal is to build bridges that are physically sound in the most efficient way possible.

There are 15 levels in the game, which doesn’t sound like a lot, until you consider how absurdly difficult the 15 levels are. If you get to all 15, you have definitely achieved something. Be proud of yourself! This feels like something more unique than the typical World of Goo clone; while it’s about interconnected structures that connect via common nodes, the thought process is entirely different. You have to worry about support, and keeping the bridge standing up. It’s a unique process, and requires a different line of thought to keep the train from falling off to its doom. Plus, this game is one that you actually can’t get on iOS yet!

X Construction cares not for things like difficulty curving – the game largely just plops you down in the thick of it from the word go, forcing you to figure out what works from even the first level. When you get to level 6, the game suddenly throws a large map with over a hundred usable girders your way.It does not hold your hand at all. And the scream that the train passengers emit when they crash is downright horrifying. It is pure nightmare fuel. My recommendation is to play the game on mute, lest the screams of horrified passengers plummeting to their doom haunt your dreams. The game’s zooming is controlled through buttons, not through pinch-to-zoom. Also, it’s very easy to misplace your girders, as your finger covers the exact point where the girder will go unless you’re zoomed in entirely (and the scenery becomes blurry when you zoom in, too), and it becomes very easy to mix up the exact girder point you’re trying to reach.

X Construction requires patience and intelligence to complete, and will force you to think more deeply than other games will – but it will also frustrate you. Approach X Construction with caution, as its challenge can be addictive, but seriously…keep the game on mute. The screams will haunt me forever.

Toobz Review

Toobz Review

Apr 5, 2011

Plumbing isn’t easy, and neither is Toobz. Similar to your Pipe Mania-type game, water flows out of a beginning point, and you have to construct a series of pipes, randomly assigned to you, to lay down to create a consistent water flow – if the water path flows out into an empty square, it’s game over. You have 4 modes to play in – Classic, where you have a limited amount of time to lay down pipe before the water starts flowing; Show, where you are shown are the next 4 pipes; Timed, where you have a total game time that you have to try to score the most points in 3 minutes; and finally, Max5, where you try to score the most points in 5 levels.

Spaghetti Marshmallows Review

Spaghetti Marshmallows Review

Dec 24, 2010

Every time I see the name Spaghetti Marshmallows I think of Will Farrell’s character, Buddy, in the holiday movie Elf. You know, the part where he’s eating spaghetti with marshmallows and every other sweet delectable you could imagine, topped with syrup. While Spaghetti Marshmallows doesn’t sound in the least bit appetizing to eat, it does however make for an interesting game title. I just had to download this peculiar title by developer Fruxotic Games to see what exactly Spaghetti Marshmallows was. I soon found it to be a minimalistic physics-based tower building game that uses — you guessed it — spaghetti and marshmallows. Anyone who has played games like “World of Goo,” or “Tiki Towers,” will be familiar with how to play Spaghetti Marshmallows; everyone else stay tuned for an Android Rundown.