Mines of Mars Review

Mines of Mars Review

Mar 18, 2014

At this point, it’s pretty cheap to call anything a “Minecraft clone” because the mining and the crafting is becoming a staple mechanic everywhere. But still, Mines of Mars have a strong aura of a Minecraft clone, or at least. Or, rather, of a space version of Terraria, which is itself a take on Minecraft. In reality, it’s actually a clone of an old flash game, called Motherload, so if you played that, you know what to expect from Mines of Mars.

Mines of Mars is catching for all the same reasons other mining games do. Wonder of exploration with an added desire to craft better gear, while eradicating natural ecosystem. There is a small station on the surface that refuels, resupplies and crafts gear for the hero, all for free, meaning all the materials he gets from the ground go towards crafting and improving the gear, or unlocking new areas. There’s no ground-level world – just a small station and mines that are connected with portals. They are insanely deep, but tough luck if you wanted to see a game with an open world. Tough luck if you wanted to build something in this world as well, as there are no building mechanics. As I said, all unearthed materials like metals and gems, go towards improving the hero’s gear.

I could say that it’s just an overpriced Motherload HD, but there are some features that make Mines of Mars worth cashing out 5 bucks for. For instance, as the player unearths new mine levels, they start being invaded with various lifeforms, some dangerous, Mines of Mars 4others just pretty-looking, all playing a role in the player’s well-being – or lack thereof, mostly. The graphics and sounds are also great, and I found myself mesmerized by the monotonous clunking of my pickaxe, as I climbed deeper and deeper into the red underground. Surprisingly, the story is very interesting as well. It’s not a driving force, but I found the hero’s smalltalk with the only other sentient being in the game very endearing. Oh, there are also three mini-games that have almost no connection to the main game, and to be fair, I didn’t really find them exciting.

Mines of Mars is basically a PC game, fit into a mobile screen. It costs like a PC game, it’s as complex as a PC game, and it’s as slow as some PC games. Forget about sitting down for a quick play – Mines of Mars requires all of your attention, and can eat up a whole evening. I can’t say anything about the total length of the game, but it goes for a lot more than a couple of evenings. In general, while it has its flaws, especially in the control department, and 5 bucks being a relatively high price for a mobile game, I liked it. If digging into an unfriendly planet is your flavor, then Mines of Mars is the game for you. Dig yourself, Lazarus!

Blocky Roads Review

Blocky Roads Review

Dec 23, 2013

Never thought I’d have a chance to see a trend in development, but here we are. Minecraft is such a popular game with such a distinct graphic design that it has already spawned a whole generation of games that look exactly like it. Blocky Roads has gameplay that is nothing like Minecraft, or parts of it, but it looks exactly like Minecraft. It may actually not be based on Minecraft itself, but on any of its successors in graphics. The whole world, including the car and the designated driver, are build of blocks, and if you’re still not sick of the whole block thing, is looking really fine, with crisp graphics and cartoony, sharp textures.

Blocky Roads is a driving arcade game with very simple gameplay. Each level, the player needs to drive a car to the right, <em>Blocky Roads</em> 4″ width=”300″ height=”168″ class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-34603″ />collect gold and three crates, and get to the end. Even if the player smashes the car along the way, which will 9 times out of 10 happen because the car turns over, all the gold collected is saved, and can be spent on various needs. The needs include buying car parts that improve its speed, handling and other characteristics, new player skins, and new levels. There are also different kinds of cars, and the player can even build his own car from scratch, using blocks of different color. I found the process a bit tiresome, but if you’re interested in this sort of thing, it’s certainly a pleasant feature.</p>
<p>Although <em>Blocky Roads</em> is a great game, and I had absolutely no problems with it, it’s not perfect. The problem for me is that gameplay is too simple. There are lots of locations, and obstacles, and rockets, and runways, and ramps, and everything, but for some reason, it doesn’t amount to varying gameplay. 90% of the time, I simply pressed “forward”, and watched my car go through the level. 10% of the time I died stupidly over and over on some tricky cliff, but apart from that, <em>Blocky Roads</em> doesn’t require any skill. It’s not simple, but it’s unchallenging, if it’s even a word. Nevertheless, the game is fine, plays fine, and looks just fine.</p>
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Terraria: Android Rundown Video of the Day

Terraria: Android Rundown Video of the Day

Sep 17, 2013

The smash hit PC game Terraria has made its way to mobile, first on iOS, but now on Android. The 2D crafting and exploration game with RPG and questing elements has been given some slight tweaks to fit on to mobile, but this is a game that fans should enjoy for its faithfulness, providing a high-quality 2D exploration experience on the go.

The Android version of the game is free to download but only gives the tutorial mission away for free. This is two-fold: one, it serves as a test for if the game will run on the device it’s being tested on. Two, the tutorial is actually really helpful for game-specific information that might not be immediately apparent by just jumping into a randomly-generated world.

This video shows off the first ten-plus minutes of the full game, which is unlocked for $4.99. The unlock can carry across multiple devices, just make sure to install on another device after purchasing, or delete and reinstall, as the fine folks at 505 Games’ tech support informed me after recording this video. Watch, and decide if the first few bits are worth investing into further.

Miner Review

Miner Review

Jul 26, 2013

Miner is an interesting game, with an interesting difficulty curve. I suggest teaching it to kids at school, to give an honest, un-romanticized outlook on life and work. At the core, Miner is a distant relative to Minecraft – but without the crafting part. Actually, yeah, Miner is a pretty sufficient explanation. Player controls a small private mining vessel, using only four arrows to move around, and embarks on a journey into the bowels of the Earth in search of various precious metals and minerals. After digging for some time, the vessel has to return to Earth to unload a cargo, refuel and repair, and this is where the challenge hides.

When the vessel moves through the ground, it runs through the fuel supplies quite quickly, and refilling those not only costs a significant amount of money, but also requires getting back up to the surface, and then – going all the way down again. Driving through already existing tunnels doesn’t require as much fuel, but still has its cost. The other problem is that the minerals are quite rare to come across in the beginning, and require lots of exploring around – again, eating the precious fuel. If Miner vessel gets too far down, it will overheat, and damage itself.

Miner 4The unusual part in Miner is that when the vessel loses all health, or fuel, it doesn’t get destroyed, but is instead transported back to the surface, repaired and refilled, but this costs a great deal. If the player doesn’t have enough money on his account, it goes into negatives. This puts miner into a tricky situation, where he not only has to repay the debt, but also try to earn money for the fuel resupplies. This is definitely a problem with the game’s design, as it won’t allow purchase anything, if there isn’t enough money to pay for it. So, stalemates will happen, when it’s impossible to repay the enormous debt, impossible to purchase upgrades for the vessel that would allow mining in the deeper layers, and thus – impossible to make any progress. The player will sells his soul to a company store, as the song goes. So, it’s almost a guarantee that the first try is going to be unsuccessful. Second will probably be as well. This can probably lead to some frustration.

But, in my opinion, it’s a golden mine for people who strive for a challenge and competition. It’s almost impossible to succeed in this game, but “almost” is enough to try again, and Miner has lots of stuff to purchase and upgrade, to provide hours of gameplay. It’s a very unusual game, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. However, for people who like their games like they like their coffee – bitter, agitating, and potentially dangerous to one’s health – Miner will definitely be a welcomed addition to the library.

Block Story Review

Block Story Review

Jun 13, 2013

Block Story is a quest-based adventure in the same vein as Minecraft that puts an adjusted spin on survival style gaming.

Gameplay starts straight away: a mini-tutorial greets you with basics of the action. Players learn movement, collection of items, hunting and the procurement of sustenance, and more. The options give a good idea of what to expect; players get to name a new “world” and “world seed” and select from three modes: Story, Creative and Hardcore. Then you can pick or create a character and push on.

I would have preferred an action tutorial to the built-in text one, but I still believe that for games of this type, block1any tutorial is better than none at all. The gameplay is leveled, with action points furthering progress. I like the ability to upgrade player attributes via points earned. The action does get pretty intense, with an interesting array of mythical and real dangers. Stuff like snakes and bosses like airborne bosses make the quests challenging but mostly enjoyable.

The environment is truly boxy, with an edgy feel. The developer uses colors to highlight the finer parts of the environment, and such use does a good job of differentiating elements. Bright greens, subtle skylines and living objects are represented well within the design principles of the game. While some might find the animations a built stilted, I think it all fits in together quite well.

The controls are fairly intuitive. The virtual buttons are tight but responsive, with virtual joysticks and buttons to control movement and creation. The first person perspective is interestingly vivid. As an added jolt of functionality, the game is compatible with MOGA controllers.

Block Story is a a fun adventure that does very well to create a virtual terrain that begs to be discovered. it is in parts charming, at others scary, and the dichotomy it part of its charm.

Survivalcraft Review

Survivalcraft Review

May 13, 2013

Survivalcraft is an interesting sandbox adventure that is very reminiscent of the sandbox cross-platform game Minecraft.

To be honest, it was pretty hard to see Survivalcraft outside of the shadow if the game it’s cloned from. A lot of the elements were similar. A careful look, however, did reveal things that made the former somewhat unique in its own right.

The game came in three modes: harmless, challenging, cruel, and creative. I was also able to tweak the conditions of the world in some of the game modes by toggling living conditions, weather and even time changes. There were a lot of options that changed the feel of the game, and thus increased the playability of the game. Folks familiar with Minecraft won’t be disappointed.

The basic premise played out like a Mark Burnett-inspired reality show: I was marooned by a sea vessel on an unfamiliar island, and had to use my ability to adapt to survive. The playing perspective was first person, and the graphics were a combination of block shapes and stark colors. The animations were purposely stilted, and the surv1appearance gave it all an understated charm. I could toggle views (like from first to third), and was able to move and crouch with the controls, and swipe to turn or glance around.

Now, a lot of the gameplay depended on the mode selected; basically, I had to do what was necessary to survive. The developer did a good job of making the gameplay feel realistic; crouching in water was lethal, as was being unprotected at night or not procuring and consuming enough sustenance. Mining and creating things out of my immediate surroundings helped me survive, as did avoiding natural dangers that lurked.

The thing I liked best about this game was the infinite perspective. I liked the ability to use stuff like electricity, horses and electricity.

For a clone, it was fun to play, and as noted, wasn’t a mirror image, which made it worthwhile to try.

Kickstarter Spotlight: Pixel Sand

Kickstarter Spotlight: Pixel Sand

Feb 1, 2012

Editor’s Note: Kickstarter Spotlight is a new weekly column spotlighting promising Android-related Kickstarter projects. Have any suggestions for projects to be featured on Kickstarter Spotlight? Leave them in the comments or send an email to the author.

The great thing about Kickstarter is its ability to give under-funded app developers a chance to create great, innovative apps. Last week I wrote a blog post about a great website called Kickstarter, and in it I mentioned a developing app, Pixel Sand. There are a few “falling sand” games scattered around the internet, and for those unfamiliar with them, they are basically an open sandbox with small particles that react to gravity and to each other. These particles can be anything from water to fire to nitroglycerin. Here, take a look. The problem with these games, other then being a black hole to free-time, is that there has never been a foray into expanding these games from simple sandbox to full, story driven, co-op titles. As is probably obvious by now, one man, Trevor Sundberg, is trying to tackle this very thing. Already with a working game for the PC, Xbox, and Windows Phone 7, Trevor is trying to expand his game by adding a campaign and of course, expanding to iOS and the little green robot.

The proposed new game elements are genius and are sure to have users stretching the limits of the platform. As I stated in my earlier review of Apparatus, from prior experiences with games such as Little Big Planet, Halo, and Minecraft there are no limits to what the community can create if given the right tools. Seriously, click on those links, the Minecraft one specifically is that perfect internet mix of impressive and sad.

That is what makes the stunningly simple inclusion of electricity so smart; it is such a simple yet absent addition in the few other “games” in this genre. Other great elements include power-ups and doors that only open after a select number of coins has been collected. I personally am excited to see some of the user-generated content, and one thing that is a definite is that someone, somewhere will re-create the iconic first Super Mario Bros. level.

Unfortunately, as of now, Pixel Sand still needs funding. There is still time, however, and I strongly encourage everyone to click on the link in this post, head over to Kickstarter and help this game out because it deserves to be realized to its full potential.

10 Billion Download Promotion Starts Today

10 Billion Download Promotion Starts Today

Dec 6, 2011

Starting now in the Android Market is a promotion designed to call attention to the 10 billion downloads on the store. Each app on the featured list is being offered for $0.10. According to Slashgear, the promotion will see ten apps released each day for the next week and a half, and may in fact result in more credit cards attached to the Android Market, something that’s been an issue for Google for some time.

The apps on offer right now for the ten cent price include some fantastic games, like Minecraft Pocket Edition, Great Little War Game, and Fieldrunners HD, as well as the fantastic non-games SketchBook Mobile and Soundhound. Get on over to the sale now, and keep checking in each day as ten new ones arrive. Don’t forget to tell them that AndroidRundown sent ya.

Minecraft – Pocket Edition Review

Minecraft – Pocket Edition Review

Oct 10, 2011

It is time to rejoice all ye Minecraft Junkies, for this electronic dope is finally out on Android 2.2 devices. That’s right, Xperia Play owners are no longer the only people who get to build in this marvelous land. While the excitement for this game is through the roof, there are a few caveats that need to be kept in mind before hitting that purchase button.

Let’s start with the fundamentals of what Minecraft is, just incase someone has been living in the Arctic Circle with no internet for the past few years. This game generates random worlds and allows players to freely construct whatever their minds desire. Anything from the Starship Enterprise to mansions complete with outdoor water slides are constructible with cubes of various materials, and the only limiting factor is the imagination. This game is the definition of open world creativity.

The game runs rather well, and the touchscreen controls are relatively solid. There are times when looking around becomes hindered by the game trying to decide if it should break a block or look towards the sky. A virtual d-pad provides the movement, holding a finger on an object will start to break it, and materials are quickly accessed via quick keys at the bottom of the screen. The UI is intuitive, well-put together, and stays out of the way, thus allowing the player an unobtrusive view into their play land.

This also maintains the sounds and looks from the computer game, which means everything is constructed of square blocks that carry a pixellated look. Breakable cubes make up trees, mountains, oceans, and beaches. The only sounds are those of breaking various items or slapping down a cube. The whole package is simple yet effective, and it is nice to see that the mobile version stays faithful to its computer roots.

Now for the downside, and that is players looking for a full port of the computer version are in for a rude awakening. Survival mode is missing, there are no enemies to battle, not all the building materials are available, and playing online is limited to a local WiFi connection. This version brings only the building aspect to the table, and even that is roughly a year behind from the desktop version. Anyone hoping this is a cheaper version of the full Minecraft experience will be let down. Yet, there is still hours upon hours of fun in just crafting a world to one’s own design.

Minecraft – Pocket Edition is just that, a smaller version of the full game to play anywhere an Android-based phone or tablet goes. It is not the full experience, but crafting worlds that are limited only by blueprints created from the imagination will suck away hours of time, and I would know as I’ve lost 10+ hours to this dang game. This is a solid purchase for anyone addicted to this Mojang creation. Those that are still hesitant need to give the demo a look, but be careful as once the addiction sets in, it is incurable.

Sony Ericsson Announces New Games Coming Exclusive and Optimized for the Xperia Play

Sony Ericsson Announces New Games Coming Exclusive and Optimized for the Xperia Play

Jun 7, 2011

With the Xperia Play out on US shores, Sony Ericsson is starting to pick up some more exclusives for their gaming-focused Android phone. They’ve announced 20 new games that will either be exclusive for the Xperia Play, or will be optimized for the phone. There are a few interesting ones that have been announced:

  • Minecraft: This was already known, but it seems as if Mojang is expanding Minecraft through exclusive deals rather than an all-out assault on other devices; this is factored in with the announcement by Microsoft that the 360 would be the exclusive console home of Minecraft. Is an iOS or general Android version of Minecraft in jeopardy, at least in the short-term?
  • Battlefield Bad Company 2: This online first person shooter was previously exclusive to iOS, making a splash at launch when it was released for $0.99. This is a bit more bold than the typical EA Android release, where the games have been largely multiplatform franchises. Apparently EA thinks this one is big enough to bring to Android as well. No word on if the online multiplayer will make it as well. This one will be at least a time-limited exclusive for the Xperia Play.
  • Star Legends: The Black Star Chronicles: The announcement that this is coming out is not necessarily news, since the mobile release of this MMORPG from Spacetime Studios was announced back in February. What is news is that the name of the game has apparently changed, and that it will be getting Xperia Play support, along with Spacetime’s other mobile MMORPG, Pocket Legends. The games will not be exclusive to the Xperia Play, just optimized for the phone.
  • Order & Chaos: Also on the MMORPG front, Gameloft are bringing their World of Warcraft clone to Android, with optimization for the Xperia Play. No word on if crossplatform play will come along with it. Also coming from Gameloft with Xperia Play optimization are fellow RPGs Eternal Legacy and Dungeon Hunter 2.
  • A full list of the titles coming to the Xperia Play, in both exclusive and optimized form, is available at the link below.

    Source: The Droid Guy

    Minecraft Coming Exclusively to Xperia Play

    Minecraft Coming Exclusively to Xperia Play

    May 26, 2011

    One of the biggest successes ever in indie PC gaming, Minecraft, is finally making its debut on mobile platforms, as it’s coming to Android later this year. However, it’s not just coming to the OS in general, as it’s coming to the Xperia Play, Sony Ericsson’s gaming-focused phone with actual hardware buttons. This follows on the heels of the announcement earlier this year that Minecraft was coming to mobile platforms, particularly iPhone, iPad, and Android.

    This could be a major coup for the Xperia Play – Minecraft is a definite hit on the PC platform, having racked up over 2 million units sold despite a lack of traditional promotion or release; heck, the game still hasn’t even left beta yet! This could potentially be the kind of major release that helps push Android along as a gaming platform, especially if it gets released alongside or in advance of the iOS version. The problem is that the Xperia Play is still a relatively obscure platform. Most of the time when the Xperia Play is heard about, it’s when an exclusive game is released for it, not for any particular notoriety on the phone’s behalf. As well, it’s still limited to Verizon in the US – no other carriers have the phone at all, and unless some other carriers announce that they will carry the phone, the market for Minecraft on Android could be limited for a while, unless/until the game went to the Android Market as a whole.

    This kind of highlights the problem with the Xperia Play so far – it has been just a lot of hot air. A lot of interesting game announcements, but no major impact yet. The Android gaming market has yet to really change, and it doesn’t seem like the phone is quite the hot seller yet. Sony Ericsson deserve tons of credit for pulling in some big name publishers and developers to make the Xperia Play a potential success. It will just take users to actually adopt the platform, and Minecraft’s legions of addicted users could prove to be a huge spark. Minecraft for the Xperia Play is expected to be released later this year – when is ‘later’, exactly? Well, lead developer Notch did tweet a picture of the game running on the Xperia Play recently.