Fate of the Pharaoh Review

Fate of the Pharaoh Review

Apr 1, 2013

Fate of the Pharaoh is a fun simulation set in, well, ancient Egypt. In this game, I worked as an Adviser to Pharaoh, tasked with rebuilding the empire after a victorious but devastating war.

It’s a G5 game, so I expected nice graphics. I wasn’t disappointed. I found the rich graphics, sharp animations and fine detail that we all have come to expect from G5.

There were two modes: Adventure Mode (timed) and Relaxed Mode. Anyone who has read my reviews knows I am a sucker for tutorials, and thus, this gamee found a way to my heart early on. The teaching section allowed me to use taps to get a basic understanding of gameplay: accruing money, and the different ways you can spend it. I learned that to progress, I had to finish tasks and manage resources.

The gameplay mostly made sense, with the contributing segments logically connected. To build structures, I needed money. To get money, I had to tax citizens. But money wasn’t the only thing I needed to build the structures necessary to revitalize the kingdom; as noted, I also needed materials. Well, to procure materials, I had to build quarries. I had to figure what I needed, and then I monitored production.

With the successful completion of a level, I got a nifty stat sheet — with accompanying fireworks — that gave me a measure of taxes, wealth/happiness, a “Time of Ra Bonus” and resources. They each had a point value, and they all added up to a total.

I liked the little things that tied the gameplay together. I loved the little ominous snake, and the way it blocked progress; I had to move it, and the interaction with the worker that I sent while doing so was cool to see. And yes, clearing the roadways cost money. Water wells brought happiness, and diminishing water supplies did the opposite, as well as reduced the tax amounts I could get from thirsty citizens. I also liked the achievements. I can see how monotony might be a risk, but the leveled type gameplay should alleviate that somewhat.

Some might also balk at the cost of unlocking the higher levels.

It was a fun game… plenty of gameplay, and fun to look at. It is definitely a game that begs for higher end devices, but I think is well worth the download.

Bad Piggies Review

Bad Piggies Review

Oct 8, 2012

The pigs of Angry Birds are finally out in their own game, wrecking up the place on their own terms in Bad Piggies. While they might not be good at defending what they’ve stolen, those pigs are rather adept builders, given the many complex landscapes that they constructed without even the use of hands! Sure, they fall like a house of cards, but victory through obfuscation is their ultimate goal. They’ve decided to be more proactive in this game, getting mobile to get those eggs they want. Players build a vehicle for the pigs that at the minimum must get to the goal. These involve boxes, wheels, balloons, soda jets, fans, and more. Players launch the vehicle, and deploy their equipped tools at the right time to ensure the objectives are complete. Alternate ones include finishing under a certain time, collecting star boxes in a level, and not using a certain item. There are two other objectives in each level to get. The sandbox involves giant levels with a bunch of star crates to collect, and the ultimate goal of trying to get them all.

The idea feels a lot more involved than Amazing Alex, another game that involved building things. Here, because there’s a skill component of timing, it’s not just about creative solutions and fighting the physics, but also about playing well. It’s got more of that Angry Birds feel where chaos can take over, but the player who has a good approach can succeed. That the player gets to choose their loadout from the given materials and can complete a level in many ways just makes it more satisfying. Also, Rovio has decided to release the game for free on Google Play in both “HD” and regular versions: there’s some occasional banner ads after levels and on the level selection screen. There’s 90 levels in the first two level packs, and 100 collectible stars in the Sandbox mode that is unlocked later.

Yet, somehow, I’m finding myself more in love with the times that I fail, than when I succeed. Those provide me with more joy, seeing the way my pig contraption has failed when I really thought it was going to succeed. I suppose comedy truly is the difference between expectations and reality. So it’s almost a letdown when I succeed. As well, while I like that it’s possible to get all three stars in different runs, it always seems impossible to actually do that. I’ve succeeded, yes, but am I finished? It’s difficult enough completing that first run, and there’s often a second strategy that’s required to complete that other objective. This is where Angry Birds succeeded: there was success, and then there was a higher level of success. Maybe a new approach had to be carried out, but it was for the same goal. Here, it’s just a completely different goal. It just doesn’t feel as satisfying as it should be.

Am I being too critical of Bad Piggies for this? Perhaps. It’s executed with that Rovio charm and polish that they are known for, but I just feel like something’s fallen short of greatness here, though that Sandbox is rather inviting for some more playtime…

Monster Life Review

Monster Life Review

Aug 17, 2012

Monster Life is a city-building game with vibrant, paper-inspired 3D animation. In the village of Numa, all monsters where killed by the evil creature, Chaos. Little did he know that a monster keeper kept his monster hidden and secretly built a safe place for them.

Monsters are born in the village’s barn. To prepare them for battle, a monster has to be fed, played with, and trained to fight. All these actions allow the player to earn gold coins and add XP points. When it’s time to fight, simply tap on the map icon and travel to the fighting grounds. Battles are not that complicated, as all one has to do is wait for the monster’s turn to attack. When battles are won, there is a specific reward, given in gold coins. There are 36 battle grounds in four different islands.

One can generate more money by putting up structures like a shop or a fountain. These structures generate a specific amount of coins in several time intervals. Buildings and structures are accessible from the Shop, along with purchasing more monsters or habitats which become their home. There are over 20 monsters to collect. However, one needs to be at a certain level before one can buy a certain monster from the Shop.

The game also has a function for sharing in social networks, Facebook and Twitter. Although the game itself does not require Internet connectivity, it will require it to connect to social networks.

One can also play the lottery by tapping on the bell by the beach, at which point a boat will prompts to choose which type of lottery one would like to bet on.

Monster Life is obviously more of a casual game than anything else, with its cute and easy game play. Being so, this game appeals more to young children than adults. Although the characters are supposed to be fierce monsters, their appearance is extremely kid-friendly. Because of the need for monsters to be taken care of, this can also help kids foster a sense of “responsibility” that hopefully translates to their real world activities.

The 3D quality of the graphics renders itself well during gameplay, except for occasional lags which was probably caused by too many apps running in the background. Navigating in the virtual world is an otherwise smooth and fascinating experience. Not only are the graphics superb, they transition smoothly as one goes in and out a certain area of the village.

The only issue I have with this game is its slowness in getting anything done without running out one’s resources. Even skipping certain tasks requires gems. For gold coins, one has to wait a specific number of minutes before a structure can produce more. This makes the game something one can’t play for a long period of time, and is best for several, short sessions within the day.

Overall, Monster Life‘s brilliant and endearing graphics make for a fun intermission from a hectic day. It may not be for all adults out there, but kids and kids at heart alike who are drawn to paper-like illustrations will find this game worthy of a download.

BraveSmart Review

Being a fan of match-three games, I’m always on the lookout for more challenging ones. Lately, that need has been filled by BraveSmart, a primitive setting where three resources are gathered together to build homes in a village.

The game’s premise is simple – match three similar resources (wood, stone or metal) to build a shelter made of the said material. The first shelter that is built is usually a small house, match three of these and it forms a bigger house, match three bigger houses and it makes a mansion – ultimately a three mansions make a castle.

The village is laid out in a hexagonal grid – which makes matching easier. On the third level, a human builder accompanies the resources on the grid – providing more materials as others are matched out. Human builders also come in three kinds – one for wood, one for stone and one for metal. They usually get trapped in between objects so they’ll have to be moved around to proceed with the game. When they are moved, they leave behind whatever it is they use to build the shelter (a plank of wood, a pile of stones or a sheet of metal). When the grid is all filled, the game ends.

The goal is indicated on the top right corner of the screen. It should show a picture of the kind of shelter that needs to be done, and in more advanced levels it will require the player to build more than one of this. As the game progresses, barriers like boulders, sheep and hills will make building more difficult. Sheep can also be matched and “herded” to free up more space.

However, there is an option to purchase weights using gold that one has accumulated. Weights clear out unwanted objects – but do not work on living things such as the builders or sheep. Other items for sale are Undos and Hammers. Undos provide more chances to undo a previous move in the grid. Hammers turn any object into a universal resource (can be matched with two of any kind of material).

Game play and controls are superb as far as I can tell. No lags or difficulties in swiping or doing anything else. The graphics are also quite appropriate for the game’s Scottish theme – with predominant dark greens and maroons as background or even main colors. Sound effects are nice and subtle, only to be balanced out by bagpipes blowing loudly during other parts of the interface.

BraveSmart is a bit similar to Triple Town, but I find myself preferring this game more because the rules are much simpler and less confusing. I also prefer the rugged graphics over the polished, cartoon-y one of Triple Town.

The only gripe I have with this game is it only has four worlds with more or less 10 levels in each world. However, the level of difficulty might affect how fast one finishes all levels. There is a “Coming Soon” box so the developers at least plan on releasing new levels.

Overall, this game is a great mind-bender and not the typical match-three game one might expect. I highly recommend it for people who want a more challenging puzzle on their collection.

Babel Rising Review

Babel Rising Review

Jan 4, 2012

Would you imagine that it’s possible to make a game about a God smiting humans as fast as possible without it being tasteless? Well, the team at Bulkypix took that challenge and have succeeded. Babel Rising is daring in concept, cute and hilarious in execution — pun intended.

In Babel Rising you play as a god, and the humans over which you rule have had enough. As in the biblical story of Babel, they decide to build a tower up to the heavens, to meet with you and ask what the deal is with life, the universe, and everything. But, you are a vengeful god and want none of that. So the goal of the game is to kill the humans before they can build their tower high enough to reach you in the sky. You have a variety of mystical powers at your disposal, all reminiscent of those events which we refer to as Acts of God. There is Lightning, Wind, Flood, a Rain of Fire, and Earthquakes. These all take varying amounts of time to load, you so must be strategic in your use of them. There is however also the Finger of God, which you can use to smite the humans one at a time. A simple tap and the little builder falls apart bloodlessly. Each of the other attacks have a specific gesture that commands it, and there is finally a bonus attack where you can destroy a level of the tower with one blast from the god’s eye. And again, you would assume that a game like this would verge into tasteless territory, but I’d have to say that your mileage on that will vary. The tiny humans are cute and merely look surprised when they fall apart or are swept away by a wave.

The developers have also made sure that the game will not get old quickly. There are four modes of play, and each is different. Classic is the version I mentioned above. Divine is the same game, but now Lightning is your fastest power, and you have the new power of the Burning Bush (lighting it sets the nearest humans on fire). The next option is Fury, and this time the workers are immune from some attacks, depending on their type. They are actually meant to be damned souls trying to escape from Hell, which explains why they might be resistant to lightning. And the final mode is Campaign. Each stage sets you with a specific goal to complete before you can advance to the next. An example is a countdown clock during which you have to smite as many humans as you can. You can also earn coins which you use to increase the strength and range of your attacks.

The coolest thing about the game, in my opinion, is the simple fact that no matter what the humans will get to the top. The game will just fill the screen with builders until the point that you simply cannot stop them from building. You can become incredibly skilled at slowing them down with your weapon use, but no matter what, the humans will eventually reach the top. Rather than being discouraging, it is instead exciting as you see how long you can hold them off for.

The game is a little buggy at times. On a few occasions it has thrown so many little men at me that it can’t render its own handiwork and freezes. I’ve lost entire game files to that error; the men were all frozen in place and I was unable to kill them. I was forced to begin a new game to get around it. very frustrating. In fact, as I was playing the game while writing this review the game froze and even after I exited, the music continued to play. It was a bit eerie, hearing the little builders continuing their word behind the scenes.