Super Mario Run Review

Super Mario Run Review

Mar 27, 2017

We’ve been waiting for it, and it is now here: Nintendo’s Super Mario Run is now on Google Play.

If you have seen any part of the iOS port, the game should feel quite familiar. It is a brightly colored affair, with an overall look that is very Mario in nature. The main gameplay manifests in 2D and is presented in portrait.

When it’s all said and done, this is a damsel in distress story. Familiar Nintendo characters hold sway here… Bowser, the King of the Koopa is up to his usual nefarious ways. This time — as in time past — Peaches is his target. Mario takes on the role of enthusiastic, running hero.smr3

And run he does. The game opens with a hands on tutorial that explains the basic playing mechanism: our hero runs forward perpetually without any input from the player, and also jumps over small obstacles all by himself.

Soon, a bit more user interaction is required though, and this is where tapping the screen comes in. This invokes a jump, which is great for jumping over gaps or reaching things suspended in the air. Holding the tap makes a higher jump.

It’s leveled, and the partial goal is to make it from the beginning to the end in the allotted time. That means to avoid the obstacles and enemies successfully; secondarily to that, there are plenty of coins to pick up (including specially colored ones).

The game also has alternative play options; Toad Rally is a great way to mimic PvP action.

Alas, as you probably heard, the game is limited. It has a few levels available, after which you’ll need to drop $9.99 to unlock the full game. Not back-breaking, but in the mobile space, some folks might balk.

There is a good deal of activity available though, and the source material definitely gives this one a bit of mindshare.

Super Mario Run finally arrives on Android

Super Mario Run finally arrives on Android

Mar 23, 2017

Hold the presses: Super Mario Run is it now for Google Play users.

Finally, Nintendo!

We’d like to pretend like it isn’t a big deal, but hey… this is major stuff. It’s only the game with the biggest buzz of 2017… the one game that underscored the ever-shrinking app gap.

And what do we get? Well, Super Mario Run promises to be the one Mario titled game you can play hard — with one hand. It’s all about tapping to jump to avoid, collect and advance. Run, left to right, in an engaging, varying 2D environment that mimics an arcade experience.

Very, very Mario-ish.

Hey, don’t mind us. Get to it… we are. You should know it’s free with in-app purchases.

In the mean time, check out the trailer below:

Fire Emblem Heroes Review

Fire Emblem Heroes Review

Feb 20, 2017

Nintendo are under some serious scrutiny with their foray into the mobile game scene. Most other publishers can fart out a Flappy Bird clone and no one would think twice but this is Nintendo. Ninty. The House of Mario. Big N. They have standards and a reputation to keep (and a new console to launch) so it’s important that they do things right.

Miitomo aside and ignoring Pokemon GO (which they didn’t make), Fire Emblem Heroes is Nintendo’s first ‘proper’ game to launch on Android (Super Mario Run, where are you?). I’m pleased to say that it’s a success in many, many regards yet it also shows a naivety towards the mobile gaming scene in how it handles IAPs.

Before I get too ahead of myself, let’s explain what Fire Emblem Heroes is. Well, it’s a turn-based strategy game based on the hugely popular Fire Emblem series. Never heard of Fire Emblem? Well, that’s on you – because it is hugely popular. Honest.

The scenario is pure fantasy, dragons and magic fare. Fire Emblem games often boil down to wizards and kings becoming evil or fighting evil or wanting to be rulers of evil. So the story’s not important in the Fire Emblem world, what is important is the mechanic of how you build up an array of characters to go into battle with.

You see, the Fire Emblem games are filled with hundreds of unique characters and the thing that makes Fire Emblem stand out is that these characters can die. Die, die. As in the ‘this character got killed and we know you spent 20 hours leveling her up but she’s dead’ kind of die.

Pretty savage.

Now, Fire Emblem Heroes does away with the ‘proper dead’ mechanic but it is full of the titular heroes and more heroes are being added through updates. Not only has the Fire Emblem’s death mechanic been softened but so has everything else. Console Fire Emblem games can have sprawling battle maps and have you take a large number of units into battle.unnamed-2

Fire Emblem Heroes strips all of this back and has you take only 4 characters into the fight, with the battlefield being a single screen map. This works really well though, as it means that battles are over within a couple of minutes. The combat also has a fairly simple ‘rock-paper-scissors’ strength and weakness system involving spears, swords and axes. It’s straightforward but it’s fast-paced and really enjoyable.

What’s a bit of a let down is the IAPs and the rest of the systems that exist outside of battles. The issue is that there’s shard, crystals, feathers, orbs, dueling swords and a stamina bar to keep track of. It’s more convoluted than it needs to be and it makes levelling up your character more of a pain than it needs to be.

The IAPs need to be called out in particular as they are such a miss it’s unbelievable. Essentially, the only thing you can buy in this game is ‘orbs’. These orbs are used to summon new heroes and they’re the key to getting your favourite characters from previous Fire Emblem games into your party. It takes 5 orbs to summon a character and it costs £1.99 for 3 orbs. 3 orbs are practically worthless. They can’t be used for anything good, so it means that, at a minimum, you’re going to spend £4 just to get a new character, at random.

When you take into consideration the chances of getting a good character (4 stars or better) are 43%. This is an absolutely shocking value proposition, so it’s handy that the game dishes out tons of orbs for completing missions. Which then leaves you wondering just how Nintendo plan on making money off this thing? Who’s buying these orbs?

Obviously someone is – with reports that the game’s already made over $5 million since launch. Still, that’s a topic for another time. This is a review and I’ve got to say I’m impressed with the game. It’s bitesize fighting with just enough tactical challenge.


Waiting on Super Mario Run to Arrive on Android? March 2017 is the Date

Waiting on Super Mario Run to Arrive on Android? March 2017 is the Date

Jan 19, 2017

The leading question in Android gaming seems to be when the heck Super Mario Run is landing on Android.

Well, according to a tweet Android Central deciphered, we should get the full Nintendo treatment on the Play Store in March.

Finally… it’s about time the popular game shed its “iOS-exclusive” tag.

Can the game maintain its must-have status on Android? The freemium nature (and relative high-dollar full game unlock cost) did give some folks pause, so we are interested in seeing how it does on Android.

In any case, we admit to being eager to try this one out. Pre-registration is still available HERE.

[Courtesy of Nintendo Twitter via Android Central]

Attention Pokemon Trainers: Pokémon GO Gets New Tweaks via Update

Attention Pokemon Trainers: Pokémon GO Gets New Tweaks via Update

Jul 30, 2016

If you’re one of the masses that is captivated by Pokémon GO — weird sleeping patterns, a new-ish propensity to walk around with a phone to your face, knowledge of what a “vulpix” is, etc — then this news is for you.

Nintendo and Niantic’s hit augmented reality game just received an update; version 0.31.0 adds a number of enhancements, like the ability to make adjustments to your avatar from the profile screen, updated screens and refined gym animations — and a bit more.

More specifically, per Google Play:

WHAT’S NEW

Trainers, Pokémon GO has been updated to version 0.31.0:
– Avatars can now be re-customized from the Trainer profile screen
– Adjusted battle move damage values for some Pokémon
– Refined certain Gym animations
– Improved memory issues
– Removed footprints of nearby Pokémon
– Modified battle damage calculation
– Various bug fixes during wild Pokémon encounter
– Updated Pokémon details screen
– Updated achievement medal images
– Fixed issues with displaying certain map features
– Minor text fixes

Pokémon GO remains free (with in-app purchases) on the Play Store

KickStarter Spotlight: Super Retro Squad

KickStarter Spotlight: Super Retro Squad

Jun 27, 2012

KickStarter is a great avenue for developers to take their free small time online game into the next level and turn it into a fully fledged, premium product. Prime example of this is the developer studio Exploding Rabbit from Sacramento whose popular online game Super Mario Bros. Crossover was at a standstill and was essentially stuck as a side project because of the use of classic Nintendo characters. But with funding from the lovely interwebs this brilliant collection of programmers can take their idea to the next level and create a game like Super Retro Squad.

For those unfamiliar with Super Mario Bros. Crossover it takes the classic Super Mario Bros. levels that everyone is familiar with and introduces other classic Nintendo characters such as Link, Samus, Mega Man, Bill Rizer from Contra, and of course, Mario and Luigi. Each character comes complete with most of their abilities from their respective games and come in multiple “skins” spanning their long run in 2-D gaming. Super Retro Squad is a homage to the retro games of yore, and contains over 40 levels across 8 worlds. The gameplay is classic platforming and will be playable, like SMB Crossover, as 8 different characters, who each have their own world.

It isn’t as if Exploding Rabbit has completely forgotten about the Nintendo universe as the characters in the game all bear a suspicious similarity to those trademarked Nintendo stalwarts. Think of Super Retro Squad as more of a trip into a Nintendo Bizarro World that contains German mining brothers, Mecha Boy, a female Samurai, and a Samus and Tony Stark love child.

Response has been incredibly positive for this project and it is already fully funded with 23 days to go. This means all the extra funding goes toward ‘stretch goals’ that include Time Attack, Leader Boards, and Achievements for double funding, multiple languages for triple, and if the funding is quadrupled, which seems fully reasonable, a 9th character, EVE VII, will be added to the game, bringing with it extra levels in another world. So take the time to head over to KickStarter and help this game achieve its full potential.