Time Flux Review

Time Flux Review

Sep 30, 2016

A developer challenge, you say? Score 10?

Time Flux’s creator is laying down the gauntlet.

Visually, it doesn’t try to do too much; simplicity is the key, and is reflected in the subtly changing backgrounds and digital graphics. It plays in portrait, and the main visual tool is a simple 2D clock that occupies most of the viewing area.tf3

The clock has the requisite hour numbers, and a simple hour hand.

The imagery flows naturally into the game play. SImple stuff, really: the player taps the screen, game screen flashes a time and the basic hour hand starts moving; now, the main idea is to tap the screen at the exact hour requested. One has to be pretty exact, because tapping the screen to stop the hour hand a bit too quickly or too late ends the run.


Yea, right. Not so fast. Stopping the hand on a dime is interesting enough, but as soon as one stops it, the screen calls out a new time, and the hand starts moving in the opposite direction simultaneously. One then has to stop it on the new time, and then, if one is successful, the clock starts in the opposite direction again, and continues, till one mis-hits.

For every correct tap that prolongs the gameplay, the player gets a point. Of course, more points equal more bragging rights.

It’s challenging without being overly difficult; the innate challenge of looking at two different spots (and reacting via taps) doesn’t get old too quickly. Not knowing what time will be posted, plus the clockwise/anti-clockwise dichotomy works well.

In the end, Time Flux mostly manages to be an easy-to-like impossible game that doesn’t infuriate too much. It does provide a challenge, and the developer’s cheeky challenge only adds to its allure.

When it comes to time wasters, his one definitely holds its own.

One More Line Review

One More Line Review

Dec 6, 2014

One More Line is yet another in a seemingly endless stream of brutally hard minimalist games that was kicked off with the venerable Flappy Bird. Is it the bottom line?

One More Line is as simple to describe as it is to play. A small rocket like ship flies along a course filled with strange planet like things. Tapping and holding the screen causes the ship to latch onto these planets and begin orbiting them. The aim is to use the planets to fling the ship around obstacles in an effort to get as far as possible. Hitting a planet or the sides of the course ends the game.

Screenshot_2014-12-06-21-30-39One More Line is extremely difficult. The game requires perfect timing to not slam helplessly into a wall as the player must let go of a planet when the ship is facing the right way, lest they end up facing a wall. This isn’t the fun kind of hard though as found in other games like RETRY or Mineshaft, but rather the frustrating luck of the draw type difficulty where it’s a total crapshoot as to whenever the player can navigate the course or not

None of this is fun. The game simply fails to be interesting. The flinging mechanic is very random and strange as it is nearly impossible to accurately gauge where the ship will go when orbiting a planet. The game lacks any kind of gameplay variation as well making it get dull quickly.

One More Line features rather poor graphics. The planets the player orbits are little more than circles, the player is some kind of tiny white ship and the only interesting looking thing in the game si the neat rainbow trail the player’s ship leaves behind as it moves. Retro can be cool, but this game just does nothing with the concept. It isn’t up the standards of other retro space games, such as Battlestation: First Conflict and doesn’t emulate a particular style.

The sound is fairly bad as well. One More Line boasts that it has music composed by Batterie an apparently famous Sydney based composer. It is difficult to appreciate this however as the music restarts whenever the player dies and so usually players are just going to hear the first few seconds of the song without being able to actually listen to it. It kind of seems that the game itself is an ad for the music. There is also a distracting ad banner on the screen at all times

One More Line is a punishing and dull attempt at yet another overly difficult game and there are simply far too many premium gaming experiences on Android to take the time to play it, let alone play it well.

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.

Wayward Souls Review

Wayward Souls Review

Jul 14, 2014

Wayward Souls looks and sounds like the spiritual successor to the well-received Mage Gauntlet. Prepare to be surprised!

Wayward Souls is an old school rougelike with style. A virtual stick moves the hero, while a tap on the screen executes a normal attack. Abilities are handled with swipes. For the Warrior a downward swipe uses his shield, which defends against any attack or projectile for a few seconds. An upward swipe unleashes a throwing axe for defeating enemies that are too dangerous to get close to. This super slick control scheme works very well indeed and is much less fiddly that a collection of small icons.

Screenshot_2014-07-13-04-19-51Players can pick from three initial classes in Wayward Souls. Like many RPGS it features a Warrior, a Mage and the ever popular Rouge. The Warrior is tough up close and can throw axes and gain high health. The Mage can attack from a distance, but must allow her energy to recharge to attack, so she’s very vulnerable to getting overwhelmed. The Rouge meanwhile attacks and moves very quickly, but isn’t as good in a stand up fight as the Warrior.

Expect to die early and often in Wayward Souls. Wayward Souls is HARD. The player will die repeatedly. Enemies move around faster than even the Rouge and do loads of damage and there are tons of them. A lot of skill and constant attention are needed to survive for any length of time. Enemies are deadly and even the weakest ones, like berserk miners who throw pickaxes will do a lot of damage. A few enemies ganging up on the player can drop their health like nothing else. Of course like all rougetypes, as soon as the player dies, they must start the game all over again.

This is compounded by an almost total lack of healing. Getting hit kills the player fast and healing potions drop so rarely from enemies I wasn’t aware they even existed for a long time. The main source of healing is the small amount of health restored by reaching the end of a dungeon level and descending into the next.

Screenshot_2014-07-12-07-09-21Wayward Soul’s challenge is a breath of fresh air. While a lot of mobile games embrace pay to win and do not require skills, Wayward Souls is unashamedly a game in the vein of old school, rock hard SNES games which will eat players alive if they don’t have gaming chops and this is something not seem very often on Android. Indeed, it is often ports from other systems, such as Dragon Quest VIII and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that aren’t afraid to kick the player around if they can’t hang tough.

Thankfully, a satisfying persistent upgrade system is in play. Coins can be grabbed during games and traded for permanent upgrades. These can boost the chance of doing critical damage, boost attack damage or recover energy for special attacks faster. Each upgrade also boosts maximum health and energy, so characters will gradually become stronger. This allows players to make it just that little bit further before becoming just another stain on the floor. This kind of slow burning gameplay is an acquired taste, but the game hands out plenty of coins and there are no nasty in-app purchases to dilute the feeling of progression.

Some smart game design ensures this needed replay never feels like grinding either. Like most Rougetypes, Wayward Souls is procedurally generated. Each time a new game is started the layout of the dungeon and enemy type and placement is randomly determined to ensure an entirely new brand of rage inducing death. This makes each game feel new and guards against frustrating repetition. It also prevents the player learning patterns and making the game too easy.

Wayward Souls is tough then, but it is the good kind of tough. It’s what gaming should be; a game that punishes you for not playing well and rewards the player when they do. Players who relish the challenge of extreme games like bullet hell shooters will likely revel in the unapologetic ass kicking Wayward Souls will deal out if they slip up.

Screenshot_2014-07-10-06-27-32Wayward Souls looks incredibly good. A super smooth, warm pixel art style defines the game. While pixel art on Android isn’t exactly hard to find, the great lighting effects, detailed sprites and the attention to detail make Wayward Souls look like a very pretty 16 bit game. The way the player’s character changes appearance as they get stronger is great as well. The music is extremely well done as well. Some excellent ambient tunes warble on in the background and really suck you into the game. Noodlecake are known for their great music and Wayward Heroes is another example of this skill.

Wayward Souls
has enormous replay value if players can stomach the challenge. The extreme amount of skill needed to even begin to get anywhere in the game will require much practice and stat boosting and the three classes and three more unlockable ones give plenty of replay value.

Lastly, Wayward Souls has a good bit of story. Each time the player descends a dungeon level more about their character and their motivations are revealed. These simple story scenes really reward progression. Rougetypes aren’t known for their story, so this is very engaging.

Wayward Souls is unabashedly made for a specific kind of player and helps propel mobile gaming into a more hardcore, serious level of gaming. Players who are dyed in the wool gamers who take any challenge in stride and will persevere and will take the time to learn the game will enjoy it. However more causal mobile gamers, such as those who like their freemium city builders and such will find it an impenetrable game. Even fans of Mage Gauntlet may not enjoy Wayward Souls due to its difficulty. Well-made but merciless Wayward Souls is the Dwarf Fortress of mobile gaming and only the player can decide if Wayward Souls is the game for them.

Meganoid 2 Review

Meganoid 2 Review

Oct 26, 2012

As outlined in our preview the other day, Meganoid 2 is not a game for the faint-of-heart. This is a very challenging platformer. The goal is quite simple: get to the end alive. And if that wasn’t hard enough, then there’s additional objectives for getting to the end in under the time limit, and for finding the golden idol in each level. It’s usually cleverly hidden somewhere in secret paths. There’s spikes, falling blocks, disintegrating platformss, snakes, and giant boulders standing between the player and ultimate success.

The visual style actually doesn’t resemble the original Meganoid much at all: gone are the bright colors, replaced with the kind of dank caverns that fill an adventurer’s days and nights. I’m almost suprised that this isn’t a spinoff of Super Drill Panic, given the similar visual themes, but Meganoid may have more brand recognition. Hard to fault that.

The challenge level is the most frustrating thing, but it’s also rewarding. There’s nothing quite like managing to get that one incredibly difficult level figured out, itis perils melting away with perfect jumps, and manging to avoid running into those falling blocks. Blocks bad!

The button placement is customizable, which is handy because there’s a small gap between the two directional buttons.I would like to see custom sizing of the buttons, and maybe a way to more easily snap them along the same horizontal line; as it is now, it’s easier for them to be just slightly askew. It can be maddening.

Quick reaction times are really necessary, and the levels are set up to be absurdly challenging. There is zero forgiveness, and very tight timing windows throughout. Good luck. The difficulty curve of the levels can be uneven, with some that took me dozens of tries to complete, while I completed the next level in one shot. Maybe I’m just that good.

Fans of Orangepixel games, retro-style adventures, or those just looking for a challenge, will get what they want out of Meganoid 2. It’s often frustrating for various reasons, but is often very satisfying.