The Trail Review

The Trail Review

Nov 18, 2016

You might not believe you have a New World pioneering spirit deep down inside, but The Trail, a new-ish game under the Kongregate banner, just might have you doubting that surety.

This one has some great pedigree too, being another Peter Molyneux production; this one definitely reaches for the inner pilgrim; it’s set in a what feels like a newly populated land, and the player takes on the persona of one of the brave souls looking to make their fortune in the mostly uncharted territory.

The game begins with a very detailed, extensive tutorial; it leads one through selecting a character, and then gives the hint of a backstory which involves trail3the player arriving in the new land by ship. Thereafter, the game leads the player through the activities that hopefully ensure success. With the use of an in-game guide, the game slowly comes to life.

There is a lot of exploration; there are target destination in place, and the core idea is to make it to the checkpoints, replenish the life-source, and continue on. Secondary to that, there are plenty of mini-tasks to accomplish. One is collecting materials as one travels the pathways. This is very important, because this supplies the entire game, and involves things like collecting edibles and other things which can be crafted for trades.

This collection element is interestingly layered. After a while, one gets to do stuff like hack tree stumps and/or hunt game. There is also a resource management aspect; there is limited space to collect materials, so one needs to know what to carry or discard. Does one item have better trade-in or crafting value than another? Energy depletion is a real danger, so does one have an emergency snack onboard? Decisions, decisions…

These opportunity costs really make the game interesting. Stuff can be expedited with real cash, but play can go on without it. Progress unlocks more and more stuff, and the game continually unfolds, which is surprising for something that, at first glance, looks like a gingerly walk along the path. Take the trading battles for instance; losing is not to be condoned!

It comes together nicely; the graphics feel stilted at times, but the visuals do the job of adequately conveying the gameplay. All in all, it is easy to enjoy, and tough to put down; the combination of action, strategy and management make it easy to get addicted to.

Hammer Bomb Review

Hammer Bomb Review

Apr 5, 2016

Hammer Bomb – Creepy Dungeons! is an interesting dungeon caper that puts the player directly in the driver’s seat.

The old-school graphics are front and center in this one; we get cavernous dungeon hallways, barely lit, with an ominous feel that is presented in first-person view in portrait orientation. The travelways have different backgrounds per level, providing a slightly different experience in different attempts. Altogether, the visual accoutrements are well done, and definitely encapsulate the gameplay quite well, especially when they explode into voxel-y goodness.

As noted, the gameplay is imbibed in first-person; this makes the action feel up close and personal. The initial idea is hb3to roam and explore the medieval-looking hallways and to find an exit, and navigating the play area is mostly accomplished by gesture swipes. These are useful to cut left and right, and one can also jump.

Roaming entails going forwarding, cutting to the left and right when appropriate, and then jumping over the occasional obstacle and being willing to do a 180 when required. There are goodies that can be had, and these are acquired by tapping. Goodies include coins, weapons, bombs and the like; one needs to keep an eye out for whimsical things like collectible pizza and soda.

Weapons you say? Why, yes. See, roaming these same halls are some weird monsters, looking to reduce the players in-game life expectancy. One can avoid them, or, if in possession of a weapon, can dispatch it with prejudice. Bombs can be used to re-do ways. It incorporates a simple navigation map that helps knowing where one is on the ever-growing grid.

In the end, it’s a serious, leveled adventure that challenges one to take on noble quests, while looking to level up and even adds in some awesome boss battles to boot. It’s a lot of the same, but the exploration aspect works for the most part.

On to glory, Sir Hammer Bomb!

Dig Out! Review

Dig Out! Review

Feb 26, 2016

There a many a digging/mining game on Google Play, and several puzzle capers, so Dig Out!, a new-ish title from Banda Games, does have its work cut out for it.

Bright colors? Expressive visuals? Fun Sounds. All here.

The main gameplay area keeps to the 2D motif, and splits the it all into grids that represent physical underground. Each square generally represents some sort of material, or houses an object. For example, one can have dirt, rock or contain goodies, ghouls or just empty space. Our digger is armed with a rudimentary pick that allows him to get through regular dirt squares, but at a cost; each use of the pick reduces its efficacy, up until it is useless — which equates to ending the run.

Solid rock cannot be drilled through with rudimentary tools, so one has to navigate around them. Boulders can’t be chipped away at, but can be rolled, and there are colored jewels that one can collect by contact, and these or more or less the game currency. One can also collect special jewels that replenish one’s digging tool, but must look out for the bad critters and cretins, several of which can give chase.

The summary gist is such: one use gestures swipes to control our protagonist, one square at a time, past the baddies and obstacles, collecting goodies while traveling ever deeper and discovering new worlds.



The way the game is designed opens the door for a surprising amount of strategizing. For example, one quickly learns that the digging tool is definitely a very limited resource, as are the replenishing jewels. So, re-using paths and traveling through empty space is preferred to digging through dirt without purpose. Also, keeping the replenishments and only using when truly needed might be prudent. As noted, running out ends the session, as does getting crushed by an errand rock or caught by a creepy crawly.

The same opportunity costs apply to other pieces. Yes, one can try to use a boulder to destroy the movers, but could it be smarter to avoid them and save one’s tool? Decisions, decisions…

The colored jewels can be used to upgrade existing tools and procure new ones. there are tasks and rewards, and the game allows for in-game cash spending, but does not force it; in some cases, watching videos can be done to earn “continue” money.

All in all, it manages to stand out for it’s simplicity, groovy sounds and involved gameplay. be warned: it might be hard to put down…

Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake Review

Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake Review

Jun 27, 2014

Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is a Kickstarted puzzle collaboration between SleepNinja Games and Cartoon Network The game is self-described as being like Legend of Zelda, and that specific description is apt. The 2D stylings are whimsically implemented, with cutscenes and dialog boxes used to move the gameplay along. The intro action kind of plods along, but as soon as one gets through that, the backstory catapults us into the digital quest. Our protagonist is a young boy named Niko, who, upon wanting to experience the renown glory of cake for breakfast on his birthday, finds that his cake has been stolen by the Boogin King and his cohorts in a fit of “cakelust.”

Accompanied by his trusty canine companion, Niko looks to save all treats by looking to best the Boogin King. In practice, this is done by solving puzzles presented in the leveled series. It starts off simple enough to highlightmon1 the controls: tapping and dragging to guide the movement of our hero.

The first few levels introduce the top-down view and the escalating mind-benders, most of which involve getting from point A to B. B is usually a piece of cake and/or some coinage. In between both points is an obstacle or two… a river, spikes, etc. The spikes are generally controllable by pressure plates, but the trick is to keep constant pressure to keep them down. To do this, the random block structures come in handy, as they can be pushed or pulled over the pressure plate. Then, the cake piece (and other goodies can be retrieved, and the level is completed.

As the game goes on, more elements are added, like helper monsters and timed levels. There’s plenty of stuff to unlock (including costumes) and fantasy lands to explore. It comes together nicely without being cheesy, and is familiar without being overdone; the game flows well in most parts, and escalates naturally. The puzzles do feel somewhat formulaic at times, and the intro dialogue somewhat bogs down the gameplay at the beginning, though. I did enjoy the simple graphics, as they lend a bit of charm to the overall atmosphere. I also think that while the control mechanism can be stubborn in places, it is far from unusable.

It’s a fun experience, with several elements to enjoy in chunks or small morsels.

Android Gamers Can Dig Through Mines of Mars Really Soon

Android Gamers Can Dig Through Mines of Mars Really Soon

Mar 7, 2014

Mines of Mars, Crescent Moon Games and WickeyWare’s mining game with Metroidvania elements, is making the jump to Android shortly after its iOS release. Available next week, players will be able to dig through procedurally-generated mines while also trying to uncover the mysteries that lie deep within Mars. Also, there’s the ability to interact with friendly robots that become not-so-friendly if they’re shot. Also, there’s gravity boots. Huzzah! For more on the game, watch 148Apps’ livestream of the game and check out their review today on the site. The game will be available next week – likely on Thursday, but no specific date is available at this time.

Kilgamore Castle Review

Kilgamore Castle Review

May 31, 2011

Abusing animals isn’t cool. Can you imagine the outcry if I put my dog in a diver’s helmet and made him charge around, smashing obstacles with his head? I’d be arrested and thrown in jail. And I don’t even have a dog. That’s why it’s good that video games exist, because they allow us to do things we’d normally get in heaps of trouble for.

Kilgamore Castle is an Arachnid clone, or more accurately, an Arkanoid evolution. A cross between Breakout and a career in archaeology, it casts you as Ernest Pucklington, an aging adventurer whose best days are behind him. Instead of hanging up his adventuring shoes though, he enlists the help of his dog Barney and ventures out to the titular castle, in search of treasure.

There are quests to complete and a variety of different levels, each with their own challenge, to complete. The gameplay evolves as you move through the game, sometimes requiring you to light candles, other times to drop bombs or collect specific items that somehow fall down the screen, even though it’s a flat plane.

The game isn’t the best looking out there, but it’s by no means ugly. Its sounds too are perfectly adequate. Kilgamore Castle is one of the growing number of games available on the Android Market that do everything they set out to do and not one iota more. That’s not a complaint, so much as an observation; sometimes you don’t want innovation, just something relaxing to while away a few spare minutes.

There’s nothing wrong with Kilgamore Castle, but at the same time, there’s nothing about it that will grab your attention. It’s enjoyable enough, but there are plenty of other games out there that are more worthy of your time and attention. If you stumble across the app whilst browsing the Android Market, then downloading and playing it will do you no actual harm, indeed, you might draw from it some nostalgic enjoyment, but in the end, it’s an experience that’s remarkably easy to forget.

Space Bunnies Review

Space Bunnies Review

May 3, 2011

Space is huge, full of wonders and miracles and billions of things that we as a species haven’t even been able to imagine yet. If Space Bunnies, the new Android title from ShockPanda Games, is to be believed, it’s also full of bubbles and strange leeches that steal fuel from the engines of space ships. Oh, and bunnies. Lots and lots of bunnies.

Space Bunnies is a wonderfully presented game, a mixture of simple puzzle mechanics, tilt controls and a charming graphic style that’s both endearing and easy on the eye. You play a spaceship full of adventuring rabbits who have decided that it’s time to head back home, dodging obstacles and picking up their rabbity friends along the way.

You start each level on a planet, then blast yourself off with a slide of a finger. Tilting your phone moves the spaceship around the screen, enabling you to swerve around oncoming attackers, meteorites and, perhaps more importantly, turn corners. Scattered throughout each level are other worlds and you’ll have to visit all of them if you want to get full marks. Your spaceship also has defenses against threats, including a limited number of explosives on its hull.

There are currently three different adventures for you to undertake, each comprising of ten levels, with another one on the way soon, so there’s plenty of game for you to get your teeth into. Unfortunately though, there are some problems with the game. For starters, sometimes the touch screen menus aren’t sensitive enough, and you’re left ineffectually jabbing the screen to try and select what you want to do next.

The biggest problem though, is that Space Bunnies’ control mechanism isn’t suited to this sort of game. Tilt controls don’t really work from a top down perspective, especially if you’re trying to dodge and weave your way through a tightly packed asteroid field or avoid the attentions of a hungry space leech.

It’s a shame that a really great game is sullied by clumsy, muddy controls. Space Bunnies could be a must have app, and if something is done with the control system, then it’s likely to become just that. It wouldn’t take much, even a slight increase in sensitivity would make the game eminently more playable. As it stands, it’s a good game, with a bit of work, it could be a great one.