Crumble Zone Review

Crumble Zone Review

Mar 25, 2013

Every now and then, I get to try out a game that initially baffles me, but ends up surprising me. Sometimes it’s good; other times, less than optimal.

Crumble Zone was one of those games that surprised me.

I have to say that I became infatuated with the look of the app. It was a true party of bright, inviting colors that really leapt out at me. The animations were smooth, and explosions brightly rendered.

The best way to describe the gameplay is “planetary.” I was a sentry alien of sorts around a large space rock, protecting it from incoming asteroids. The asteroids came in different sizes packing differing destructive payloads, so it was imperative to get to them — and destroy them — before they orbited into my home planet. To accomplish this, I made use of two direction buttons on the left, and a firing button on the right. Additionally, there were special weapons I could get with diamonds I procured.

Yes, I said diamonds. I got precious jewels for destroying particular space rocks. I also used the rotate button to pick them up. I found that these multi-colored diamonds served as game currency, which could be used to purchase upgrades and such. I liked this a lot, as it placed advanced activity in my hands: play well, and play long, and the game is more interesting.

The pace was fast, and got more challenging as I progressed. I liked the explosive sequences, and found out that it took a little bit of strategy to maximize effectiveness. I was able to instigate combos and the such, and the advanced weaponry and attributes were pretty cool.

The game also has a local multiplayer option that pits two players in a battle of asteroid blasting.

As I said at the beginning, sometimes I get surprised. This one one game that blew me away… in a good way. I was impressed with the design and consuming gameplay, but was not pleased at the length of time I had to use to, uh, review the app.

In fact, I have to go do some more research.

Fish vs. Pirates Review

Fish vs. Pirates Review

Dec 28, 2012

Over half of the world is covered in water. For anyone who’s ever watched a nature documentary, it’s pretty obvious marine life can be quite a day-to-day battle. Fish vs. Pirates is an underwater defense game where fish need to protect against attacking fish Pirates.

The incoming Pirates swim in a straight line. By placing the defending fish in the direct path, it’s easy in the beginning to ward off the attackers. More than one fish can be placed in the same row so both fish are attacking at the same time. As the need for more than one fish needs to be placed on the screen to defend from the attacking pirates, there becomes a shortage of pearls.

Gain more pearls to be able to add a better defense by placing oysters in locations on the screen. The problem with just placing the oysters anywhere is they take up valuable spots for the defending fish. Ideally keep all of the oysters to the farthest back row.

In progressive levels, different types of fish and sea life are available to play a defensive role against the Pirates. Snails, starfish and various other types of fish all have their pros and cons to adding them into the defensive line up. For example, snails are better at withstanding damage from attacking pirates. The downside is the snails shoot a lot slower.

As the defensive lineup gets stronger, so does the strength of the Pirates. Pirates will start out with a few weaker fish and get bigger more plentiful as well. There’s just something about seeing a shark dressed up for the pirate to make for a fun defense game. Main menu, click the book icon to get a better description of the fish and the Pirates. Having a better idea about the fish and the Pirates will help to line up the right defensive fish against the attacking pirates.

KickStarter Spotlight: Always Outnumbered

KickStarter Spotlight: Always Outnumbered

May 30, 2012

There probably is not a single gaming genre that has been copied into oblivion quite like tower defense. Hundreds of developers were quick to snap onto the simple and addictive formula and soon app stores were flooded with mediocre tower defense games. Well, a promising hope for the future is carried by SRRN Games and their re-envisioned, multiplayer oriented tower defense game, Always Outnumbered. The biggest thing Always Outnumbered offers is dedicated multiplayer that was built right into the game from the beginning. Everything about this multiplayer has purposely been stripped down to the basics. Players have no control over their autonomous waves and the only thing that is in their control is when and where they place those life-saving towers. Too many games offer a complex, menu oriented tower upgrade system that does nothing but directly bump up damage or speed statistics. In Always Outnumbered the tower upgrade system is handled by three attributes that can be upgraded up to three times a piece. These are combined into a more in-depth attribute tree and these upgrades will be accessed by a simple radial map that removes all clunky menus and confusion. All these customization options add up to a crazy number of different towers and SRRN Games has estimated that there are over 100 different tower combinations for each of the three factions.

Another important part of this game for SRRN is establishing a solid backstory that could potentially be carried on to future games and really draw in the players. The story centers around a girl who is fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. It might not be the most original premise ever, but I give the developers credit for at least making a discernible effort at establishing a credible backstory. As it stands now, this game needs a lot of help from the internet to get going. With only a week remaining SRRN still needs to raise just under $166,000. But there is no reason to panic, all it takes is a little publicity for these projects to take off and I hope everyone at least gives the page a look because the great people over at SRRN deserve a hand in delivering a breath of fresh air to a stale genre.

KickStarter Spotlight: Lil’ Sherman

KickStarter Spotlight: Lil’ Sherman

Apr 4, 2012

The traditional tower defense genre has definitely been worn thin, so it is time to uproot those towers and stretch their legs in a KickStarter project called Lil’ Sherman. As is probably obvious by the name, Lil’ Sherman puts the user in control of a cartoon tank with the mission of safeguarding supplies and clearing out the proverbial baddies. The gameplay has two parts that help break up the monotony of static towers slaughtering infinite waves of mindless drones. The first part is classic tower defense; protect a valuable command center from relentless droves of enemies with increasingly powerful armaments. But what makes Lil’ Sherman different is that there also is a third-person shooter element as the game puts the player in control of their very own tank and gives them the chance to go all Rambo on their foes.

If the Rambo image was too strong, don’t worry because this game has a nice cartoony design that will make it instantly accessible to kids and acceptable to their parents. The choice to distance the game from reality works perfectly because the World War II theme could have easily become too dark and serious for the intended demographic. Also, making the game more cartoonish provides room for humor and completely unrealistic weapons; both of which Lil’ Sherman looks to deliver. As in most other games in the genre, these weapons can be earned after completing certain objectives or destroying enough enemies and Lil’ Sherman promises to bring a deep customization menu for more sophisticated gamers.

Like many recent KickStarter projects, Lil’ Sherman utilizes the Unity 3D game engine that allows for great graphics; and combined with the art design, this game should really be gorgeous, especially on a tablet. The developers, Floppy Entertainment, are asking for $20,000 to bring this project to iOS and Android, and as of writing this they are about 15% of the way to that goal with 19 days remaining. Like all these projects I encourage everyone to check them out a consider donating a few dollars to help someone’s dream become a reality.

Siegebreaker Review

Siegebreaker Review

Jan 16, 2012

The tower defense genre has been well worn, and new ideas are generally very thin. When a new game comes out it generally follows the same pattern: survive a round, then upgrade and add new hardware. The Android Market is flooded with bland, cookie-cutter tower defense games, leaving those looking for something new at a loss. Incredibly, Siegebreaker actually manages to bring something different to the tower defense genre. Instead of an infinite number of low leveled pawns, you begin the game with a horribly stereotyped “Rock God” who was playing at a show and was magically transported to a land run by identical looking brothers for kings. As the story progresses you gain companions to help you with your wave annihilating quest.

These differences add a new layer of strategy, instead of just slamming a ton of static towers in a row; Siegebreakers’ allows its ‘towers’ to be fluid and part of the strategy is actively moving them around to give you the biggest advantage over the immediate onslaught. Also different than most tower defense games is that you have the ability to move the target, and your main character has a power that lets you roll a large stone around the battlefield, crushing or injuring your opponents. These additions, combined with the ability to move your player, forge a game that makes the rounds more involving and exciting. The limited number of towers makes this game much more challenging than the norm, but the painful dialogue when these new characters enter is laughable at best. This goes for all of the dialogue in the game; “Cringeworthy” puts it nicely as overplayed “rocker” stereotypes freely flow.

Unfortunately, the dialogue isn’t the only disappointment outside of the core gameplay. Spotty animation and repetitive sounds mar this game, but because of the solid, innovative gameplay these sins are easily overlooked. If you’re not a fan of freemium apps like I am, the constant ads telling you to buy more “orbs” to level up can be annoying. It’s so hard collecting them in the game that the offer to buy seems unfair because the difficulty ramps up very quickly. Siegebreakers is a fun and fresh game, but the basic reliance for expensive upgrades can ruin this game quickly.