The Last Express Review

The Last Express Review

Sep 6, 2013

Solvable mystery adventures are the cream of the mobile gaming crop as far as I’m concerned, and it’s not everyday we get a port like The Last Express on Android. It is borne from the popular PC game of the same name by the renown creator of the Prince of Persia line, Jordan Mechner.

The game is played in the character of Robert Cath, a likable fellow fleeing his own troubles. He is on the move, and is looking to hook up with an old friend on the Orient Express. From there, the story explodes. Literally.last1

Artistically, the game is a fine period piece. The animations bridge the staggered artwork that makes up most of the background visuals. From the reflected outfits through the intricate nature of the train’s tapestry, there is a definite aura of beauty that envelopes the game. Said animations are not wasted, and as such, when they do occur, the player unconsciously pays attention to them. The usual playing perspective is an adjusted first person, and the interactions may not seem to be the most natural, but within the user interface that governs the game, it all looks and feels great even as it brings 1914 to life.

In a lot of games of this type, the storyline is more or less rigid, regardless of actions. In other words, outside small variations, you get the same outcome. What I like about the this story engine is that the variations in end result seem to be affected by action and inaction. Different characters have different goals, and the characters seem to be quite intertwined, even if somewhat reluctantly. The action mostly goes in real-time, which is unique, and thus, the rewind button is of good value at times. There is a three-part hint system that can be helpful as well; other familiar elements (like the player inventory are available for use.

The Last Express is a great tale. It does plod along at times, but for the most part it is scarily engaging and pleasantly fulfilling, even for a port of an older game. It reads like an action story that one would invariably enjoy on the big screen; word is is that that dream may actually become a reality.

For now, we get to be in the story.

Raiden Legacy Review

Raiden Legacy Review

Mar 6, 2013

I was right.

Forgive me for the self-adulation, but retro is back. Don’t believe me? How else is the reemergence of Raiden explained?

Raiden Legacy took me way, way back… to arcades and early game console systems and boxy TV sets. For the gaming old heads like me, Raiden is close to the Gaming Grail. It was an early, popular (eventual) four-part arcade scrolling shooter that combined earth invasion, unified world governments and super weapons that were deployed to save the human race. It was glorious.

In this Android port, the story was the same. The villainous Cranassians have plans to take over the planet by first ridding themselves of its human inhabitants. The united defenders use Raiden, a super jet as the core defender, and a powerful jet it is. In this scrolling game, my job was to use a finger to guide jet in its sorties, destroying enemy infantry and air power, while avoiding enemy fire and picking up floating goodies like power-ups on the way.

Gameplay came in three levels of difficulty: Easy, Medium and Hard. There were also three modes: Arcade, Mission and Training.

In Mission, I could get into previously unlocked levels, while Arcade was created to play like the original series. Training, obviously, allowed me to hone my skills. The actual gameplay was fun, with the action starting hot and heavy. Avoiding enemy fire gradually got hire, and the game engine did a good job of mixing things up by combining ground attacks with air attacks. I liked that I could toggle firing mode on or off, and the floating bonuses made it more challenging. The weapons were varied, and the bosses meant business.

Graphically, the design mimicked the original faithfully, allowing for me to enjoy the game as it was designed, with matching music. I liked the online leaderboards (Scoreloop functionality), un-lockable achievements and the choice of touch control methods.

I liked Raiden Legacy, but I admit to have a long-standing bias. Those who try it probably will develop it too.

R-Type Review

R-Type Review

Sep 30, 2011

There is a funny thing about shoot’em up games, or shmups for short, and that is no matter how this genre grows and evolves, one game still sets the bar for difficulty and game play. That game is R-Type. DotEmu has brought all the frustration and man tears back for a new generation to enjoy, and it is a beautiful thing.

At its core, R-Type is all about learning enemy patterns while navigating through the stage and shooting down various aliens, and it must all be done with a detachable shield and a handful weapon power-ups. Make no mistake about it, this was a difficult game when it first came out, and it is still an extremely frustrating game to this day. Even though the game may only contain eight levels, those levels will be replayed over and over again.

As luck would have it, the controls for this game are rock solid. The primary scheme is a 1:1 touch recognition where the player can move the ship by dragging their finger around the screen, and this is complemented by two buttons on the right for launching the shield and charging up the death beam. A second method is a virtual d-pad, but this was less responsive. Rounding out the package is the next stage in progression unlocks as levels are completed, thus making it easier to continue the treacherous path of finishing this game.

DotEmu also kept this game true to its roots when it comes to how the game looks and sounds. Chiptunes will fill eardrums while bullets fly and enemies die, all in their screechy retro goodness. The game is packed with colorful sprites and levels ranging from open space to alien infested colonies. It may look and sound old, but that quickly subsides to the frustrations of yet another death, and there is no better place to die than in this game.

R-Type is still one of the most challenging games on the market, and this version is no different. Those that beat this on normal can try hard, but it maybe best to play that mode in a padded room, as chucking the phone in anger is sure to be a possibility. Those that love retro games, or just want to try their hand at IGN’s 7th most difficult game to beat, will find a marvelous port courtesy of DotEmu.