RETRY Review

RETRY Review

Nov 28, 2014

RETRY is one of those games that is frustratingly great. Like the Flappy Bird of yore it is capable of frustrating the pants off of any player but also to keep them coming back for more.

Screenshot_2014-11-24-12-48-58RETRY’s concept is as simple as can be. The player guides a small yellow plane from the beginning of a course to the end. These courses feature lots of up and down slopes, small tunnels, water and sometimes even moving blocks. Along the way are checkpoints the player can unlock to begin again from that point.

The catch is that the plane controls very weirdly. Pressing down hard on the throttle causes the plane to flip and loop and eventually probably crash into whatever is above it. There are no directional controls. The player must control the plane entirely by pressing and releasing the throttle.

Screenshot_2014-11-24-10-52-30As awful this sounds it is also deeply satisfying. With careful use of the throttle the player can flip and loop though obstacles and feathering it at just the right rate allows the plane to glide along at the perfect angle and land safely. This is a lot of fun.

Whenever the player crashes, which will happen a lot, they can restart at a number of checkpoints found along the way. These checkpoints must be unlocked however. The player can use coins to unlock them. These coins are found along each course and often placed in positions that will cause players to crash if they aren’t careful when picking them up. Coins can also be bought with real money. Lastly – and this is the most controversial choice – they can watch a 15 second video ad to unlock the checkpoint.

RETRY embraces its old school vibe in a way few games have on Android. Older gamers will grin from ear to ear at this game’s presentation. A great fresh, colorful visual style with pixel art really gives RETRY that warm old school vibe that many games on the Play Store shoot for but few hit. The sound is extremely good as well. Dangerously catchy chiptunes warble away in the background and suit the game exceptionally well. The actual sound effects are very limited like you’d expect from an old game. There is the putt putt of the plane’s engine and the “tack” of smacking into yet another obstacle. Particularly great is the super triumphant sound that checkpoints make when you unlock them. RETRY is a smile stretcher.

For all its old school charm however RETRY feels a little dirty. The way the player can choose to watch ads to unlock checkpoints feels..unclean like the game is taking advantage of the player in a way games really shouldn’t. If the game wasn’t as hard as it is this would be less of a problem. The game also has an ad on its pause screen, which is less excusable. It doesn’t help that this is labelled “Rovio News” like its actually something interesting rather than the upteenth shrilling of a certain overexposed game license that should have ended long ago.

RETRY is fun stuff, a real challenge and it is a unique idea which isn’t often seen on mobile. Despite the insidious ad system RETRY is definitely worth a look.

Ace Tales Review

Ace Tales Review

May 22, 2014

Ace Tales is a doggie trip shaped in a 2D endless flier.

Traveling is the name of the game in this one, and travel is not the easiest endeavor either. The plane moves in typical fashion from left to right, and there are several obstacles that appear. To avoid these obstacles (and/or to pick up the the valuable goodies that appear in the flying area), the control mechanism is important. It can be configured in several ways, but the default gestures to make the craft rise or lose altitude work fine.

The action builds up very quickly, with a the playing screen getting more packed with objects as progress is made; the first few “feet” mostly do with biscuits and diamonds that can be collected for use later. Soon, there are ace1birds that need to be overtaken carefully, because crashing into them ends the run. This is so for other dangers, like dropping objects and hot air balloons and do on.

In between all these are aforementioned diamonds and cool power-ups that might be unlocked… cool stuff like slow down effects, a sidekick, smart bombs and more. These are usually encased in a bubble that floats in the air. Weaving up and down and through to collect or avoid stuff is quite enjoyable.

There are other elements that appear, like the need to fly low to collect gas so that one doesn’t run out of fuel. The game also incorporates quests, and the ability to donate doggie biscuits. the in-app store allows one to use jewels to increase the duration of bonuses and to buy additional craft. Of course, more diamonds can be procured with real cash if one wants to, but I was able to enjoy the game without it.

I did not like the energy requirement, but this fuss is somewhat tempered by the fact that more play time can be purchased with extra jewels, which provides an incentive for playing well.

All in all, it’s a game built for enjoyment, and it mostly delivers. Even better, it is a game with a conscience, as the developer use tokens to effect donations to underprivileged kids and dogs.

Does it get better than that?

Zombie Volcano Review

Zombie Volcano Review

Dec 9, 2013

Zombie Volcano reminds me of Time Surfer quite a lot, although its style is a lot different from that. The core gameplay is basically the same. There’s a zombie head that flies out from a mountain. The player needs to tap at the right moment, so it would go out with the most speed, and then control it, as it stone-skips across the shallow water. Actually, it shouldn’t do that, as going through water quickly drains its “fuel” reserves. To not lose them the head should bump from the little islands. Even better would be to bump into some sort of object, like a human, or cloud, or many other strange little objects in the world of Zombie Volcano – it’ll get a slight speed and fuel recharge.

If the head bumps into an ascending cliff, it’ll get an upward speed boost, and if it falls into a lava, it’ll also replenish its fuel. The farer the head flies, the less land there is, and the harder it is to not fall into water. There’s a way to make it a bit easier, though. There are special offerings that are picked up upon start, and work through the level. They can be set before the beginning, and are bought with the coins. The real world US coins, I mean. They can also be gotten from the game, but I still can’t understand how.

The control is performed by an astonishing one button. Actually, there aren’t any buttons.Zombie Volcano 2 Pressing anywhere will make the head gain a downward acceleration, and fall straight downwards, bumping into whatever is beneath it. The player should notice the incoming islands, or objects, and press the button at the right time.

Although the controls and the core mechanics are more than basic, and the graphics – quite primitive, Zombie Volcano doesn’t feel like a cheap game. On the contrary, it’s surprisingly addictive and enjoyable, and has a nice, simple design that’s pleasing the eye. It may have something to do with the fact that there’s a very nice 8-bit remix of Edvard Grieg’s “In the hall of the mountain king” playing in the background, but I thoroughly enjoyed this little adventure, and think that it’s a nice way to kill fifteen minutes here and there.

Team Awesome Review

Team Awesome Review

Dec 10, 2012

Side-scrolling superheroes?


Team Awesome from is a delightful game that uses beautiful graphics and varying plotlines to frame a cool citywide adventure. The objective of the game was to move, get past barriers, rescue people, get rid of undesirables and any other level-specific tasks the game threw at me.

Back to the graphics: to borrow a word from the title of this game, visually, this game was awesome. Slick animations, changing perspectives and great looking backdrops all combined very well to create a feast for the eyes. Collisions came to life; knocking break-dancers over was never so much fun. Flying was rendered well artistically.

The gameplay was split into levels, and there were tasks for each level. Tasks involved whimsical stuff, like stopping car thieves or saving old ladies. The moving action was not your basic scrolling fare; as hinted at earlier, I could go airborne. Tapping the screen caused me to jump, and holding down made me flying.

What I really found exciting was the way the perspectives changed in-game. Calling this a side-scrolling game almost does it a disservice. It switched to rear-view and even top-down and the angles were great.

The tasks system was also very well done. I leveled up with points, and completing the tasks expedited the accumulation of points. Of key concern was my reservoir of Awesome, as this was where my power derived from. Running out of that caused my run to end, so I had to continually look for blue crystals for replenishment, while avoiding red ones, which were my kryptonite.

Coins were the in-game currency; I could use the coins I collected to buy goodies and power-ups to make the game easier, or, just use use real money.

Team Awesome is a game that is easy to get lost in while getting your superhero-on.

RocketBird Review

RocketBird Review

Jan 13, 2012

Some games thrive on backstory, detailed plots, and compelling characters to draw you in. Other games are inherently interesting enough not to need any trappings, and Rocket Bird is one of them. In fact, with no story and no tutorial, you find yourself playing the moment you start the game. But luckily the learning curve is short and you’ll be on your way in no time.

RocketBird seems like the result of someone having a funny dream about a jetpack-enhanced chicken, and this is the realization of that dream. The game gives you a third-person view of the bird on its path, or rather a view of the bird’s behind and the rocket on its back. He’s wearing a crash helmet and flaps his little wings intermittently and it’s just too adorable. He’s flying along a pastoral countryside, just zooming along as fast as possible. The goal of RocketBird is distance covered without crashing. As you fly, various obstacles appear suddenly in your path, such as fences, pine trees, windmills and cows. You use the accelerometer to navigate, and are actually able to make some pretty steep turns when avoiding sudden trees. You have a meter running down beside you as you fly, and it’s essentially a fuel gauge. To gain speed and keep your meter topped up you must steer into any lightning bolts that appear in your path. These give you a sudden hyper -boost, accompanied by a brief and rousing “Halleluiah!” But beware, the sudden boost can make navigating a bit of a challenge. Don’t avoid the lightning bolts though, because when the meter runs out your journey will end rather abruptly. When you do crash, you land with a *bonk* and a cartoon cloud of chicken feathers.

I never expected to find a game that is simultaneously hypnotically calming while at the same time being randomly stress inducing. I don’t think that the bizarre combination was the developers’ intent, but it is an interesting result in any case. I’ve found myself playing the game right before I go to bed and then closing my eyes to see the flying continue. But as you go faster and faster a sudden crash can be quite jarring.

I just wish that the game makers had spent a bit more time on making sure that the different levels are properly different in appearance. With over 20-levels I expected some newness in each but instead found more of the same: watching the same clumps of tree constantly pass by eventually made me feel like I was in a Tom & Jerry cartoon.