On PAX 2013, Capcom announced a fresh addition to the roster of characters in its popular cross-franchise fighting, Combo Crew. Viewtiful Joe can now rock the arena along with other colorful characters from many other Capcom and indie games. The sad truth is that he costs $1.99 to unlock – quite a price, considering the game costs half as much. Combo Crew can be purchased from here: Combo Crew on Google Play
Capcom’s latest edition of their game franchise about streets, fighting, and those who fight in the streets, is on Android. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s currently only available to LG Nitro HD owners.
The Android version, entitled Street Fighter IV HD, appears to be similar to the iOS version, utilizing a simplified 4-button system: Punch, Kick, Focus Attack, and Special Attack. As well, super and hyper attacks can be executed by tapping on the EX and Revenge meters respectively. The iOS versions controlled much better than a game with virtual controls should; likely, the Android version should be the same.
The question for those of us who don’t have LG Nitro HD phones – only available from AT&T at the moment — is when will this game reach the Android Market at large? Until that day comes, LG Nitro HD owners can download the game for free, though this appears to be limited to the first 2000 downloads, and is only through the LG SmartWorld. As well, LG and Capcom are holding a competition in LA where worthy fighters can compete to win cash and prizes in tournaments on both Street Fighter IV HD, and on the console Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition.
Smurfs’ Village, the mammoth free-to-play hit on iOS, is making its way to Android at last. The game, currently only available in Australia, France, and Canada (likely as a stress test for the servers; this kind of tactic is used regularly on iOS in order to stress test games), will be making its way to the global Android Market this September 28th. The game will be available from this link. This is a so-called social game, where players try to build up a Smurfs’ village of their very own, with buildings that take varying amounts of time to build. The building process can be sped up through the purchase of the game’s in-app credits, appropriately enough entitled Smurfberries.
What will be interesting to see is if any kind of controversy over in-app purchases flares up with this game as it did on iOS. In-app purchases could be restricted on iOS, but due to the game’s kid-friendly nature, many kids were spending large amounts of real-world money on the Smurfberries. On Android, passwords aren’t required for app downloads or in-app purchases at all; an optional PIN for purchases can be set from within the Android Market’s options, but the likelihood that unintended purchases from children not aware that they are spending real-world money will occur seems high. It’s a concern Capcom has hopefully addressed beyond just a notice on the Market page that Smurfberries cost real-world money.
Still, for a game that has been a perennial member of the “Top Grossing” chart on iOS, this is a major title for the platform, and a potentially new huge source of revenue for Capcom and developer Beeline Interactive. Whether or not it can duplicate its chart success over on Android will be interesting to track; and to see if any kind of in-app purchase controversy will bubble up will be interesting to see as well, with more and more apps using in-app purchases.
At first glance, I thought that I was really going to enjoy Herman the Hermit. After all, the gameplay bears a lot of resemblance to other platform jumping/auto-running games that I’ve played, and I’ve always enjoyed those. But Herman the Hermit gets a lot wrong, and it doesn’t waste any time in showing you its ugly side.
Herman the Hermit features the titular character in a race against time. As strange as it may seem, his goal is to leap across a series of floating platforms as he collects power-ups and special trophy items. As the clock slowly ticks down to zero, the only way to build up time is to jump far enough to skip several platforms, causing butterflies to fly into the clock and adding extra seconds while raising the score multiplier. It doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the basic premise.
Controlling Herman is accomplished by swiping in the direction you want him to go. An upward swipe causes him to jump up high while tapping causes him to make short, quick leaps. It’s important to understand the distinction between movements because platforms can show up anywhere on the screen and the slightest wrong gesture will send Herman tumbling into the void. Advanced maneuvers earn you a higher score, but if you fall, you’ll lose your score multiplier along with precious time. Once the clock runs out, game over.
The problem with the controls is that they are terribly inaccurate. It takes a lot of finesse to get Herman going in the direction you want him to go, and even then, it’s a sketchy proposition. Sometimes, Herman just dives off the edge of a platform rather than leaping across the gap, or going in the complete opposite direction you need him to go. It’s very finicky and works against you, most of time.
Even if you become proficient enough with the controls to keep the game going, there’s not a lot of substance to keep it interesting. It quickly becomes an endurance test as you wonder, “Just how much more of this can I take?” Collecting power-ups, trophies and other items just becomes dull and tedious before very long. Other problems include long loading times and annoying background music. The technical problems ruin this game, but even without them, it’s just not a lot of fun.
In the game’s favor are the charming visuals and subtle, witty attempts at humor to keep it light-hearted and funny. From the names of achievements and trophies to the animation sequences when Herman dons a jetpack or rides the back of a rocket for several seconds, the game does its best to put a smile on your face. If only the rest of the game could provide as much fun and entertainment, it would be a much better experience. Instead, you’re left with a frustrating, boring game that you won’t want to play for very long.
Mobile gaming is here to stay, and its prominence and importance are only increasing. You wouldn’t know this from going to conventions, though. Having been to this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, and seeing the gaming companies’ offerings, mobile gaming was practically non-existent. Capcom advertised Street Fighter IV Volt on one of their booths, Sega featured Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing in their Sega Arcade setup. Both of these are games that are already out, though, and the extent of other companies’ mobile offerings were jack and squat. The only original title that was seen there was a game that played like the classic copter game, but with unicorns. It was admittedly so memorable that I don’t even remember what the game was called, except that unicorns were involved. GameSalad had a booth set up to demo their game programming solutions, and both the Pocket God and Cut the Rope comics made an appearance at Ape Entertainment’s booth.
Is that a paragraph full of examples? Yes. But that was pretty much it for mobile gaming, and Android was nowhere to be found. Granted, mobile gaming is not as sexy as console gaming, designed for huge HDTVs and flashy displays. But everyone had a smartphone. Everyone probably has at least one game on it. It’s still cheaper to set up mobile devices than the big console and TV setups that they had, and this is a place to show off products to people who can buy them right away. Why not use it more? It is a self-replicating problem; mobile gaming isn’t going to get bigger without companies making it a big deal.
The biggest sign of mobile gaming’s rising prominence comes not in mobile releases, but in the migration of mobile titles to other platforms. Fruit Ninja Kinect was a big draw at Microsoft’s Xbox gaming lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel, with contests to win Xbox systems. As well, Roku was promoting Angry Birds coming to the Roku 2 heavily, with people dressed up in costumes, handing out temporary tattoos to help promote the game coming to the media device. Mobile gaming may nt be making a splash on its original home, but franchises from there are starting to spread out. Perhaps that is the real draw of mobile gaming, as it is a kickstarter. GameSalad’s booth was expressly for that purpose – to get content creators to try their software and use the power of mobile and web gaming to spread their creations. That is what mobile gaming can truly do, and perhaps that is harder to show than putting a game on large, flashy display.