PinOut Review

PinOut Review

Nov 15, 2016

‘Tis the season of retro, and PinOut helps one to reminisce.

It’s a really glitzy affair, with pulsating colors and contact-ignited visual sequences. The animations are silky smooth, and as game the depends so much pn believable simulated physics, it is feels quite authentic. If one is looking for something that looks like an old-school arcade thriller, this one works well.

But this ain’t your grammy’s pinball, no sir. The mechanics are the familiar, and the controls are equally as intuitive: keep the ball from dropping by pinout3using the paddles to propel it upwards. Tap controls can be used to manipulate the original set of flippers; tapping on either side controls the flipper on the corresponding side.

But unlike a regular pinpall-style game, there isn’t just one set section to bounce around in. The main goal is to travel “higher” and forward, so as to make the ball travel as far as possible. Think of it as a pinball machine that has an endless height area, and you, the player, is looking to keep on geting higher and higher, using subsequent flippers to keep the movement going.

The playing area is very pinball-like, with arches, targets, bumpers and more serving as either obstacles or helpers depending on the goal at any given point. With a bit of practice, it it possible to be fairly accurate with regards to propelling the ball through a particular pathway. This one utilizes time trials, so it’s a matter of looking to go far fast, and to pick up as many performance-enhancing boosts on the way.

In the end, high score glory is the name of the game. There are mini-games, and one can open up checkpoint continues via in-app purchase.

If anything, it definitely is interesting; one could described as, well, an endless “pinballer” (maybe?) with time trials, The optional premium checkpoint continues increase potential value, and the opportunity to reach newer sections helps players keep motivated.

It’s simple and enjoyable, and sometimes, that can’t be beat.

Endless Destruction Awaits in Rubble N Strafe

Endless Destruction Awaits in Rubble N Strafe

May 12, 2014

Developer Far From Sleep has released their take on the flaplike craze with Rubble N Strafe. Featuring a chunky pixel art style, players tap and hold on the left side of the screen to fly upward, and tap on the right to drop bombs, with auto-firing at anything that comes in the laser sights. Lasting as long as possible without crashing into anything, or running out of fuel, is the goal here, with plenty of destruction to be had. The game is free and ad-supported, with a $2.99 in-app purchase to get a new ship and remove the ads. The game is available now from Google Play.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Fat Cheeks: The Cannonball on Kickstarter

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Fat Cheeks: The Cannonball on Kickstarter

Apr 9, 2014

Spring time has officially arrived; at least that is what people keep telling me, and what better way to ring in the new season then by spotlighting a game that features an anthropomorphic squirrel collecting nuts while flying through the air. The title is more than fitting as the protagonist, Fat Cheeks, is literally launched from a cannon and soars through the landscape dodging foliage and mountains; all the while actively fighting off legions of furry enemies. At first glance Fat Cheeks: the Cannonball looks like a classic Flappy Bird copy, but that is a shallow assessment. Looking deeper and there are enough differences here to dissuade real complaints and the addition of the ability to attack enemies adds a much needed new gameplay element to what is ultimately a stale and overworn genera. Sure, the core fundamentals stay the same, tap to rise and avoid all obstacles, but Fat Cheeks seems to do this with aplomb and “falls with style” better than similar efforts.

Ryan Gallini, the creator of this game, has done an incredible job hand painting the graphics and creating a game that visually stands heads and shoulders above its competition. The animals are appropriately adorable and the three different level designs are unique and compelling. These various levels host different enemies with their own various attacks and strategies. By varying up the gameplay, Ryan has created a game that could potentially harbor more replay value than just simply attempting to best a high score.

At time of writing the KickStarter campaign is still more than $5,000 short of being successfully funded, but with 25 days to go this seems easily achievable. All it takes is one dollar to earn a free copy of the game when it debuts on Android, iOS, and online at their website and the Chrome Store. To be honest I initially passed over this effort as just another clone, but after taking a look further I found that there are undeniable redeeming qualities that warrant a trip to the Fat Cheeks: The Cannonball KickStarter page for a small contribution.

Daddy Was A Thief Review

Daddy Was A Thief Review

Sep 12, 2013

Isn’t it strange that a game is only perceived as mature when the developers consciously try to make it so? By all accounts, Daddy Was A Thief is a hardcore circus of violence and destruction, but since it has nice music and cute graphics, it feels like a completely peaceful game. And I’m definitely digging its style. I’ve already reviewed it a while ago on iOS, and since Daddy Was A Thief got an update, I figured it would be a great time to also review this great game on Android, as well.

Daddy Was A Thief 1Daddy Was A Thief puts the player in the shoes of a middle-aged manager, who gets fired from his job, and, quite hastily, perhaps, decides to pursue a criminal career in the private sector. In other words, he decides to rob a bank. It’s a daring thing to do in that world, as bank robbery is punishable by execution on the spot – by rockets. The game picks up the hero as he gets busted at the bank, and escapes from the top floor on an adjacent skyscraper. Now, the guy needs to get to the bottom of the virtually infinitely long building by smashing his way through the floors. The hero runs back and forth on the floor by himself, and the player’s only task is to pick a right time to swipe wherever, so the guy would jump and crash down onto the next floor. The place and time of crash should be picked, depending on whatever is situated on the floor below.

And there are lots and lots of things that can be there. Starting from furniture, washing machines, TV sets and safes, all of which can be destroyed by jumping on top of them and bringing them down through the floors, and ending with cops, kick-ass grannies, and giant fish tanks. Each level is different in its own way, and it’s fun to try and make the best of them all. Later on the floors are getting harder and harder to pass – and they should all be passed as fast as possible, since the police shoots rockets through a floor, if the thief takes his time on it. They can be evaded, but still.

In general, Daddy Was A Thief is really fun. Although it can get a bit repetitive after a while, new upgrades and power-ups to unlock are enough to keep it interesting. Although it’s not that difficult, it still requires some skills, and eventually, becomes like Tetris – not about whether you survive the next floor, but about how long you can keep playing it, before making a mistake. And damn if I’m not going to start it over again when I do.

KickStarter Spotlight: Cube Sync

Music is one of the best ways to convey specific emotions and is the easiest way to add suspense, drama, comedy, or action to any movie scene or video game. Games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band became popular because of the then-innovative way they blended music and addictive gameplay. Inherently these games remained restrictive to the kinds of games that the developers decided to implement, and often, by their nature, did not include recent releases or more unknown songs or artists.

So, I guess the solution is to allow players to create their own gameplay from their favorite songs. I used to play a fairly popular mobile Guitar Hero-esque game that allowed the user to import their own songs and create the note patterns which would then be available for playback in the future. This was a step in the right direction, but the hassle of keying up every song was too much. Well here to break the mold and introduce a game that organically forms to any currently playing song is Amir England. Amir has created a stunning game called Cube Sync that works like familar endless runners of the past, but creates those oncoming obstacles in accordance to the beat of my music.

Now every level is different and they are enhanced by the song of my choosing. Slap on some hectic EDM music and watch the screen fill a cascade of glowing red cubes hurtling toward our blue protagonist. The visuals here are pulled straight out of Tron and are quite amazing to look at. Another thing that impressed me is the subtle animation quirks when I would switch between the 5 separate rails or jump over an oncoming cube. These are the little things that help set apps apart from one another, and Cube Sync is full of these little details. Another example is the thrilling sense of speed upon getting a green power up cube. The subtle cube blocks that spray out upon obliterating block after block for those fleeting seconds is quite enjoyable.

Like all KickStarter projects this one will never see the light of day unless they are properly funded by the community. So if this game sounds interesting please do not hesitate to swing over to their KickStarter page and help make this project a reality.

SlamBots Review

SlamBots Review

May 27, 2013

Retro Dreamer has taken the basic trappings of a formula it introduced in Happy Poo’s Revenge and have expanded it out into a more full-fledged game in SlamBots. The increase in fledging has paid off quite well, as this is a fun endless title from the developer.

Expect to die frequently, as there’s a bouncing slambot to control by tilting horizontally, who can only take down enemies by bopping their heads, with the added ability to slam down by tapping on the screen. Hitting an enemy from the side or below? Game over, man. Thus, the challenge becomes to use the platforms available to get a leg up, and to stay alive! Of course, some of the platforms crumble and catch on fire, so there’s that, but then there’s the platforms that become extra-bouncy, allowing players to fly high up in the air and collect coins! Scores definitely have an accelerating effect to them, where later on in the game, so many enemies spawn that it becomes more difficult to not bounce off of them; this is when it becomes important to have the upgrades to slam down in to enemies more!

SlamBots-07

Coins serve as the currency for the game’s upgrade system, which allows fo rthe slam meter to be recharged faster, for a shield to be unlocked, and for new characters and machines to be used. Want to control a zombie named Colin in a giant spiked wrecking ball? Congratulations, today’s a perfect day. However, the upgrades don’t get in the way of the gameplay at all – they just serve as a supplement to it. The bouncing mechanic is just fun to play with, and the game is easy to bounce back into after failing. The tilt controls work extremely well, and the pixel art, taking after the underappreciated earlier Retro Dreamer title Velocispider, is great.

The game has just a few lacking features: one, there’s no leaderboards yet. Hey, Google Play Game Services just became available so I’ll excuse this one…for now. As well, there’s no ability to actually buy coins, just to earn them through Liking Retro Dreamer on Facebook or by watching video ads. This is quite possibly due to the issues with payments on Google Play, where Google doesn’t handle international taxes like Apple does, so this is understandable as well. The game is ad-supported as well, and the post-game ads that pop up to download other games wind up being way too easy to open up accidentally.

Minus these minor quibbles, SlamBots is a must-download. Its simple gameplay boasts surprising depth and is endlessly replayable to boot. Plus, Velocispider is an unlockable character. So yeah, go get this for free.

1001 Attempts Review

1001 Attempts Review

Apr 16, 2013

1001 Attempts is quite the vulgar game. I say this not because of any of the content in it – sure, there’s a little dude who meets their demise by missile, spike, and ghost, but the game itself is inoffensive. The vulgarity comes from when after I think I’m on a good run, when I think I’m about to get that high score, and then suddenly, it’s all yanked out in front of me because I flipped into a laser, or hit a missile, or did something that I thought would keep me alive but really didn’t. I then usually unleash a series of words so vile that I make an angel cry.

Such is the fun of 1001 Attempts: it’s a maddening high score game, but in madness comes bliss.

The goal is to flip gravity on a single-screen board, trying to stay alive and collect red gems that are worth 10 points and green gems that are worth 100. Various hazards come about, like spikes that come up from the walls, missiles and buzzsaws that launch across the screen, and the glowing green skull. He appears around the 800 point mark, and he will make life hell, or at least limit where it’s possible to move. But even he is no match for the lasers. The evil, evil lasers. Like everything else, they appear with enough warning to know they’re coming, but one ill-advised flip and dreams are shattered.

1001Attempts-3

The game is all about high scores (with Scoreloop integration) and part of the reason that going after them is so fun is that once the skull starts appearing, the game becomes simply an endurance test. Thus, knowing what to do when specific hazards arise is key, and sticking to that plan while chaos reigns is the key to reigning on the leaderboards. The game issues a reminder of the player’s current world rank, so that’s plenty of incentive to keep going.

The game is a solid port of the iOS version, with the features from the latest update including random new characters for collecting certain lifetime amounts of gems. The Android version is free with ads, with an IAP to remove them, which is worth it because the ads are full-screen and hard to close without accidentally opening them up. However, the launch version has an issue where the game crashes when tapping the “Disable Ads” text after a round. The only other downside is that the default controls do obscure the lower corners of the screen – keep an eye on them to make sure death doesn’t come from those parts of the screen!

Minus any small quibbles, this is a high score game that succeeds because of its simplicity letting the challenge of the game shine through. Everplay Interactive and Cookiebit have a winner on their hands here.

Hill Climb Racing App Review

Hill Climb Racing App Review

Dec 20, 2012

If 2012 is known for anything in the world of apps it should be about the rise of the endless runner. Games like Temple Run have taken over the addiction throne from the usual skill/puzzle games like Cut the Rope and Angry Birds. The reason these games are so addictive is because no matter what there is never an end, and the game always ends on account of a mistake of the player. This mechanic is pretty much exactly what makes these games so addicting because they leave the player with this feeling that something is unfinished; that all they need to do is not make the same mistake and they will progress further. I do not mean to sound conceited or elitist but I find that it is hard for me to truly become addicted to mobile games. Sure, I will love them for a while but like a bachelor with commitment issues I quickly become bored and move on. This all changed when my girlfriend had me download Hill Climb Racing and this semester’s final grades might be a reflection of how much class time I spent engrossed in this game.

Instead of most endless runners which put the player above the action looking down this game operates very similar to those dirt bike flash games where the player controls the physics of a motorcycle rider over a turbulent terrain. The view is from the side and the goal is simply to advance as far as possible over 8 different rugged terrains. The catch here is that the basic jeep that is given to start with has terrible traction and struggles to get up even the most basic of hills. Combine this with a ever depleting gas meter and for the first few tries the jeep does not get very far. A standard coin system allows for upgrades to the vehicle as well as unlocking better vehicles and new maps. What is nice is that these upgrades are really well spread out and there are enough of them that a fully decked out car takes an amazingly long time to obtain even though it feels like it is being constantly upgraded.

With each upgrade the impact is noticeable and that is what makes the game so addicting because every unscalable hill is just one traction upgrade away from being just a bump in the road. Mountains that once seemed impossible at the beginning now are jumped over without the slightest thought. No matter how powerful the vehicle the player possess is it never feels overpowered, and yet the game never is viewed as cheap or unfair. Each level has checkpoints that give coin bonuses and it is a great feeling struggling to get to Level 6 and then suddenly cruising all the way to Level 9 in one go. Hill Climb Racing is one of the greatest games I have played on my Android device and I strongly recommend that it moves right to the top of any download list.

Super Falling Fred Review

Super Falling Fred Review

Dec 20, 2012

Some people are good at doing dumb things. This perfectly describes Fred. His skill is falling. A lot of games out there that are about running fast and attacking their avoiding enemies and objects. Super Falling Fred is kinda like that except the objects need to be avoided while falling. Pretty fun huh?

Super Falling Fred uses the motion sensor inside the Android phone or tablet to maneuver Fred while he falls. The movement takes a little bit of getting used to. It’s not like controlling a character who’s running and jumping, it is simply guiding his drift. Initially Fred is falling down what appears to be a ventilation shaft. Some obstacles to avoid include pipes, fans, along with spots where there are reinforcements in the shaft making it smaller.

Along the way, there are many power ups. Some of the power ups are spelling out Fred’s name by capturing individual letters, hourglasses which slow Fred’s fall, skullies which can be used as currency and numerous other icons which speed Fred up. As Fred is falling, special care needs to be taken to avoid hitting his head. If he gets hit a bunch of times in his head, he’s too beat, passes out and falls right to the bottom. When Fred smacks his leg or arm on something, they can be taken right off but the game will still continue.

Scullies can be bought using the in-game purchasing system as well as some freebies gained by linking up a Twitter and/or Facebook account. Going to the store with a few skullies to spend, try out a new character. Currently there are 11 characters to purchase and hurl down large ventilation shafts. Also in the store are upgrades such as health and slow motion. In the power up section items such as shields and Lucky charms are available to help Fred along his quest at falling as long as humanly possible.

Ninjatown: Trees of Doom Review

Ninjatown: Trees of Doom Review

Jul 23, 2012

Ninjatown: Trees of Doom is not a “new” game per se, having been released back in May 2010 on iOS. It has only recently hit the shores of Android, bringing with it a shift in business model: it’s all about free to play now.

The core game is still the same: jump from side to side as one of Shawnimals’ adorable ninjas, trying to avoid the deadly purple goo boiling on the walls, and the red guys that float around and occasionally use blow darts. Players tap the oppositde side of the screen to jump to that side, with longer taps jumping higher, or holding on the current side of the screen to climb upward. There’s both a standard “get as far as possible” mode along with one where players are racing against a constantly ticking clock that can have time added to it at certain milestones.

The free-to-play additions to the game are surprisingly well-handled. Thanks to the game’s genesis as a paid title before in-app purchases were en vogue, it’s really just possible to ignore coins altogether and play the game exactly as it was meant to be played originally. However, now coins can be spent on cosmetic upgrades, along with consumable items like extra lives.

The game is still as fun as it was before in 2010. Also, if I’m going to spend virtual currency on something, it’s going to be a life-saving mustache. The mechanics are simple enough for anyone to pick up on, though there’s still a subtlety in tapping longer to jump higher that doesn’t always work out well when in tight spaces, or outrunning the clock. The game is extremely cute and colorful Landing on a branch just feels stiff, because there’s only so many spots to jump to. I mean, it’s smart, but it just doesn’t exactly feel like the smoothest implementation.

While there’s a lot of skepticism regarding free to play games, what Ninjatown: Trees of Doom represents the best possibility: it allows fun games to be dsitributed at no cost to players, only asking for optional payments in return.

Whale Trail to Fly Onto Android

Whale Trail to Fly Onto Android

Nov 7, 2011

British design firm and developer ustwo recently launched the high-budget endless flyer game, Whale Trail, to critical acclaim in the iOS App Store, scoring an 8.5 Quality Index, and earning the iPhone/iPod touch Game of the Week on the App Store. The game has racked up over 75,000 downloads on the App Store, but the game needs about 300,000 downloads to break even on its budget of nearly $250,000 USD. In order to help expand the game’s reach, Whale Trail will soon be available on Android, according to Pocket Gamer, in order to help it reach the biggest market. ustwo already has several games and apps available on Android, including their most popular app MouthOff, so this is not a new platform for them. We’ll have more on this fun game’s arrival on Android soon. Until then, for more info on Whale Trail, read the review on 148Apps, this preview including quotes on the game’s philosophy from ustwo’s charismatic “CHIEF WONKA” mills, and listen to his appearance on The Portable Podcast.