Kiwi Dash Review

Kiwi Dash Review

Jan 30, 2014

Kiwi collecting Kiwi while chasing totem-stealing felines is the story behind Kiwi Dash

It’s an endless runner set in a sideways scroller. In this one, the kiwi characters are running to reclaim stolen totems; cats are the crooks in this caper. The recovery effort is done in typical running fashion, from left to right. There are uneven, gapped platforms to traverse and a jump button to the bottom left to help accomplish this. Tapping and holding the jump button miraculously causes flight for a finite time. To the bottom right is the dash button that allows our running character to literally dash forward for a short stretch.

At the top left is an energy bar; the Kiwi bird expends this when jumping or dashing. It rejuvenates over time during the run, but this a slow process. Running short of this darkens the screen ominously, and running out looks ability to jump or dash, which is invariably lethal.kiwi5

Looking the running area are groups of kiwifruit that vary in their levels of accessibility. Some are as easy as running into then in the ground; others require some jumping or flying to collect. The cats are devious, and go as far as sending missiles, which need to be avoided as much as the cats themselves. The game has some fun arcade elements, with temporary power-ups that have to be touched by the running/jumping/flying kiwi. Missing a platform or making contact with a bird or its weapon ends the run. Fruit is cumulative, but points are not.

The have also incorporates quests and levels that increase in difficulty, as well as a ranking system.

Power-ups can be purchased with collected fruit, as well as other items, like birds with advanced attributes. For folks looking for expedited access to some features, real cash can be used to purchase stuff. On the downside, I wasn’t a fan of some of the boosts, and some specials (like getting better birds) would take an awful lot of playing to get the fruit.

The graphics are whimsical, with a healthy dose of color and smooth animations, and it played well on a 9″ screen.

All in all, it’s a fun game with plenty of enjoyable elements. But again, it’s what we expect from Gamevil.

Westbound Review

Westbound Review

Dec 30, 2013

Westbound is yet another entry in the well-worn city builder genre. Does it differentiate itself?

Westbound begins with the player saving a frontiersman named Carson who somehow got his leg stuck in a wagon wheel. Soon after, a frontier lady named Ruby Mae joins him town and from there Carson decides to build an entire frontier town right there in the canyon in an effort to impress the pretty Ruby Mae. Ruby Mae meanwhile is searching for her missing daughter. The game’s story is pretty incoherent. Battle Nations this isn’t.

Screenshot_2013-12-17-10-09-25From there, the game enters a very familiar routine that will be all too familiar for players of Farmville or other games of this type. Buildings are built, resources are harvested and gradually the town takes shape. Mini quests frequently appear to give some direction. Money is needed for completing tasks and is gained from planting crops, selling items and so on. Since the game takes place in a canyon a large part of the game is about using pickaxes to mine out new space for houses and other objects. Mining is also often used to complete quests.

Unfortunately, Westbound has a few mechanics that suck the fun out of the game. The most overt of them is the total reliance the player has on pickaxes. Without pickaxes the game cannot really be played. The town can’t expand, items needed for quests can’t be found and the entire game grinds to a halt. The only way to obtain pickaxes is to buy them with real money or download other Kiwi games. Unless cash is ponied up the player will get nowhere in Westbound.

The game also relies heavily on timers for any task. Even the most basic money making tasks take three taps and about 30 seconds of waiting and anything more advanced, such as chopping wood takes five to ten minutes or even longer.

Screenshot_2013-12-17-00-37-12Westbound features a lot of ads. One time two ads to purchase pickaxes and another ad advertising another Kiwi game appeared in the space of a minute, interrupting gameplay each time. Ads are a necessary evil in freemium games, but this is a bit much.

Westbound doesn’t look good. The graphics succeed in driving home the game’s frontier feel, but they are poorly detailed and while some of the characters in game looks OK, there is little interesting to look at. The sound is workman like as well, with all the beeps and clangs common to this type of game.

Westbound is a poor game. It has little fun gameplay, it has too many restrictions and it does nothing new with the city builder genre. There are much better games of this type in Android. For a fun city building experience, check out Clash of Clans, Total Conquest or even Castleville.