Six! Review

Six! Review

Oct 10, 2016

If you have heard us say it before, you’ve heard us say it dozens of times: yes, give us a batch of challenging sagas, but we also want our simple time-wasters. By simple, we mean the quick hitters that can be played for seconds, minutes or even hours.

Six! is a game from Gram Games that looks to be on the carefree side.

The concept is simple: Go lower. And lower.six3

It plays in landscape, which makes sense considering the main game element; to begin, the playing area has a hexagon perched on top of looks like a wall. Now, this “wall” is made up of 2D shapes: squares, trapeziums, rectangles and the like. Not all are the same size, even within shape types, but, at the onset, they all are packed in tightly to create the tight wall-ish platform.

The core idea is to drop the hexagon? How, by tapping on a shape underneath to remove it, and allowing the hexagon to drop into space. Tapping a shape pops it into nothingness, vacating the space it occupied. Think of as 2D jenga, with an object at the top of the assembly. The challenge is to prevent the hexagon from toppling off the structure. For every piece dissolved, points are garnered.

See, the simulated physics is really what makes this tick. The whole structure acts in a “natural” manner, such that it can tip, and gain momentum, and otherwise cause the hexagon fall off. Once it has fallen off, the run ends, so you have to try to pull out the supporting pieces oh so carefully. It gets interesting when, say, the hexagon straddles two separate pieces. Oh my…

There are also challenges and leaderboards.

The game succeeds in part because of the simple motif, light on the backgrounds and easy on the sounds.

And so it goes, a battle to get low; not much deviation, but the game still has its own charm.

Monster Smash Squad Review

Monster Smash Squad Review

Feb 23, 2016

Dispatching monsters with extreme prejudice almost never gets old, and that’s probably why Monster Smash Squad starts off well. Nobody — no one — ever complains about shooting monsters.

It has a zany look, with deliberate characterizations and fun music and sound effects. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that works for it, with darkish colors that pay homage to its undead storyline.

The game concept is simple enough to understand, but enjoyably less easy to master; the core goal is to take out bad creatures, and to do so with as little ammunition as possible. One, in the persona of our game protagonist, usually “enters” a level from the left and beholds one or more creepies stationed. The players job is to take them out.

The key trick is in the shooting mechanism. In this one, the players touches the screen and activates a virtual bullseye. Said bullseye can be moved around, as long as one does not lift one’s finger off the screen, as doing so causes the gun to fire. Now, there is a limited amount of bullets, but the bullets have one valuable gimmick: they ricochet a set number of times. So, if one uses angles just right, it is quite possible to take out more than one monster with a shot.


The gun-fu thingie has other uses. The game is leveled, and as one goes further, the game unfolds like a puzzle with increasing difficulty. Soon, it’s nigh impossible to get a direct shot on a monster, so one will have to bounce one of a wall or the ceiling to get it to the intended target.

Getting all the targets allows one to open the subsequent level; being able to do so with a prescribed number — remember, less is better — allows one to be awarded stars, like Angry Birds; three stars is the best. Failed levels (or levels that were completed with less than three stars) can be re-attempted.

It all comes together fairly well. The physics aspect is a nice addition in that it is fairly intuitive, and allows for different solutions to be tried by overachievers. It isn’t overly gory either, so the game can be enjoyed across the board. Still, the shooting mechanism could probably use more sight lines, and more boosts could be earned.

It’s easy to like the game, as the good all but annihilates any supposed negatives, and as a free game, it’s tough to argue against a look.

Go ahead. You’d be killing baddies after all.

World Spin Review

World Spin Review

Jan 26, 2016

If we said it once, we’ve said it several times before: complex, plot-driven games are to die for, yes, but every now and then, give us a quick-hitting time-waster to unwind with.

Something like World Spin, perhaps?

The main attribute that comes to mind when getting into this game is how simple it is; right from the start, with the sharp colors and definite shapes, one absorbs an easy-to-digest visual presentation that highlights a game that clearly wants one to focus on the goal at hand. It incorporates smooth animations, and as one finds, this is a key aspect of the game. The options reveal a whimsical side to the developer, and the cheery sounds hint at a arcade-y experience.ws3

It is a puzzle game, yes, and it’s all about the switch. The aforementioned button is the target in each level, easily identified in it’s red manifestation. It is generally nestled in a layered, somewhat irregular shape, full of aisles and more. Somewhere on this structure is a ball, gingerly resting.

Tapping on the left side of the screen rotates the structure to the left, and tapping on the right makes it go that way. The ball acts as if affected by physics, and rolls accordingly. The basic idea is to guide it to the red switch so as to open up subsequent levels and to earn points.

If the ball falls off the structure, the round is failed, and one is allowed to retry indefinitely.

Frankly, it can be plenty of fun. As one progresses, the puzzles get delightfully harder, demanding a firm touch and more than a little patience. The game engages because it manages to overstep the “basic puzzler” descriptor by adding in unexpected twists just when one thinks its figured out. It might feel monotonous to the hyper-industrious, but the developer does well to make the game more-or-less play well, even without really having to spend real money.

There is nothing wrong with being simple.

9 Elements: Action Fight Ball Review

9 Elements: Action Fight Ball Review

Jan 21, 2015

While it looks like a generic anime-styled garbage fills Google Play all the time, 9 Elements: Action Fight Ball is very distinct and fun. It combines two very different genres with a surprising simplicity, although I wouldn’t mind if it was a little more complex.

9 Elements: Action Fight Ball is an sports action game of sorts. A bunch of colorful characters play a very violent variation of volleyball, using magic and weapons to confuse and knock out the opponents. Each round, the player needs to score more points than the opponent while the timer counts to zero. If he wins, he gets some magic rocks that he can use to upgrade his character, or purchase a new one. The characters differ by their stats, as well as by the style of their attacks and super attacks, although the basic tricks remain the same for all of them.

The fighter can move around, dash, jump, hit the ball and use their ability if the ability gauge is full enough. The most interesting part is that the player can choose the direction of the ball when hitting it, trying to pass it around the opponent, as the ball moves around more or less according to physics. It also can move at high speeds, but the player has help in the form of a marker that shows where the ball is going to land, so it’s not just spastic running around and guessing where it will fly next. As I mentioned, 9 Elements 3the abilities, as overpowered and cool as they are, don’t really hurt the players, as they don’t have health or anything to lose. The worst that can happen – and it often does – is that the player misses a goal because he was knocked out or otherwise couldn’t deflect the ball.

The best part of 9 Elements: Action Fight Ball is that it is, for the most part, a game of skill. It does contain lots of upgrades and at first feels like it’s pay-to-win, but once you get a hold of the controls, it’s fairly simple to defeat 90% of the opponents. Not that it’s not challenging, but outside of the completely overpowered boss of the arcade mode, I defeated the AI enemies most of the time. There’s also a bunch of different modes, including multiplayer, to test your skills with.

Overall, it’s a cool little volleyball sim with a twist, and while it may not last you for a long time, I think it holds up just great.

Turbo Dismount Review

Turbo Dismount Review

Dec 31, 2014

There are two types of reactions to playing Turbo Dismount. The first one is natural, “what sick bastard is going to enjoy this?”, the second one is “that’s the game I’ve always wanted!”. As always, my reaction is closer to the number two. Not exactly because the game is so great, but because I am probably a sick bastard.

Turbo Dismount is the latest in the series of small indie developments that give the players a glimpse into the personal hell of crash-test dummies. Each level, a dummy is placed into a vehicle that is on a crash course towards some solid objects, much more solid than the dummy. The player “aims” the vehicle’s acceleration, choosing between available paths, puts some obstacles on its path to the main “dish”, and lets it loose. The point is to deal the most amount of damage to the dummy and the vehicle, to get the most points. The actual in-game player input of Turbo Dismount is boiled down to a single lever that marks the maximum achieved speed of the vehicle. Everything else is left to the player’s calculating skills – or, if you want to be realistic about it – pure chance.

The thrill of the game is, of course, not in getting the better score, but in actually watching the dummy get ragdolled around violently, and get picked apart by the rampaging Turbo Dismount 3steel death trap as it comes in collision with other objects. Now, this is the part where I promise that I’m not actually a psychopath, and the thrill isn’t in any way associated with actually seeing someone else get hurt. If you ever were on a high ground, like a mountain, I bet you’ve experienced a lurking thought of what would it look like from the first person, if you jumped down. Turbo Dismount provides you with exactly that sort of experience – there’s even a way to see from the dummy’s “eyes”, and options for slow playback and repeat.

As for the game itself, my only complaint is that the content costs a bit too much. The basic, free version includes three cars, 7 scenarios, and a bunch of different obstacles. The level and car packs offer much more, but again, purchasing everything means giving about 10 bucks, which is a little too much for a mobile game. But, to be fair, it’s a damn good game that knows the reasons for its popularity, and does the best at making them even more refined.

Foosball Cup World Review

Foosball Cup World Review

Nov 25, 2014

Here’s a sentence I didn’t expect to make today: this free-to-play foosball simulator is a lot of fun. If someone is too young to remember what this is, and/or have never watched Friends, foosball is a table version of soccer, in which the players stand on the opposite sides of a specially crafted table, crossed by several parallel rods with dummy players on them. The players rotate the sticks with the dummies in order to hit the ball into the opponent’s gates. Although the game looks weird at first, it’s pretty fun, so Foosball Cup World simply needed to accurately transport the field into digital world, add a proper physical simulation for the ball, a couple of options for variety of gameplay, and not screw it up with useless free-to-play restrictions. And thankfully, it coped with the task almost perfectly. Besides the small ads and a long time it takes to get comfortable with the controls, the game is exactly what I’d expect to see from a mobile foosball game – if I ever did expect to see one.

There are several game modes in Foosball Cup World. There’s the quick match, where the player plays against an AI, in any battlefield and by any rules he wants. There’s the challenge mode, providing about a couple dozens of challenges, in which the player has to test his skills. The challenges reward the player with special points that can be spent on purchasing new tables, players, or balls that have different behavior. There’s not a whole lot, but it’s enough to keep the game fresh for quite a Foosball Cup World 2while. If the challenge is failed, it can be tried again after a couple of minutes. Another mode is the tournament, where the player has to win in a series of matches to gain special prizes. Finally, there’s the World League which is the most difficult mode, in which the player has to win against all other countries. The tournament and world league aren’t available from the start and have to be unlocked. Finally, there’s the two player mode, in which two players can play on the single device against each other, quite in the spirit of original foosball.

Overall, it’s the best recreation of foosball on the platform – at least because it’s, likely, the only one in existence. If you’re a fan of foosball, nothing should stop you from enjoying it, and if you’re not – it’s still a fun and challenging little arcade to kill some time.

Beyond Gravity Review

Beyond Gravity Review

Jul 28, 2014

Beyond Gravity is a simple game about an astronaut who got stranded in open space with his spaceship’s parts flying around. Well, I say open space, but it’s actually crammed with planetoids that the astronaut can jump between, collecting any parts that he comes across on the way. The astronaut can’t move around the planets, but he can jump across them, so the player needs to pick the right moment to jump off the spinning rock to reach another one.

There are two paths between each planet. The straightforward path, when a hero jumps while looking straight at it, and a curved one, when he needs to aim correctly, so that the curvature of the jump would lead him to the planet, and not into the gaping nothingness below. Naturally, most of the parts he needs, are along the second path. It’s actually pretty easy to guess the angle, since the floating parts act as guidelines, and the astronaut can double-jump, if the jump got grossly miscalculated, but it’s not the only challenge. There are also asteroids that fly between some of the planets at high speed, and it’s rather difficult to avoid them, even when you don’t try to collect the damn parts.

The parts aren’t there just for the score-keeping, by the way, as they should be spent on different upgrades for the astronaut, giving him much needed versatility. Frankly, the Beyond Gravity 3upgrades aren’t that impressive, but they do help a bit.

What Beyond Gravity definitely lacks is depth. Once the tricky jumping mechanics are figured out, the jump calculations slowly start moving into subconsciousness and you end up sitting with a blank look on your face, as the bearded guy keeps jumping between the rocks like a space grasshopper. Some additional mechanics could go well, or some new challenges, or whatever. Mini-missions are a good thing, but it’s not enough in the long run, I think.

Overall, Beyond Gravity is a fine game. It looks great, it has crystal-clear mechanics, simple controls, and no bugs – what’s more to ask? If the simplicity isn’t an issue, it’s a great time-waster.

Kiwanuka Review

Kiwanuka Review

Jun 9, 2014

Kiwanuka is a game about freedom in a mystical world; it challenges players to solve innovative puzzles in the name of helping the people of this realm to discover freedom.

The lead tool in this saga is the lightning staff; the bearer is able to create solutions to physical problems, most of which revolve around leading refugees to a mystical pyramid, which usually has yet another being contained within. So, in essence, getting from point A to point B safely is the name of the game.

The key word is “safely.” The mass of people follow the torch bearer implicitly, and a wrong move can have them all stepping off over a ledge to nothingness. The game graphics define the gameplay to a degree; it is a bright, imaginative affair, with unique crystal structures that serve as platforms and irregular land masses. There arekiw1 different colors on the land masses, with the darker colors usually being lethal if touched; in other words, guiding the torch bearer to these areas ends the level unsuccessfully, in a splash of exploding crystal.

The player has some tricks to employ, the main one being the ability to use the staff to summon the followers to stack and form a human, end-to-end tower. This tower can be manipulated in different ways, the most obvious being pulled horizontally to form a human bridge which allows the leader and other followers to get from one mass to another. It can also be used to create human ropes to shimmy down, or, at one point, a dissolvable bridge that can drop the leader in a hole where the end pyramid resides. The physics-aspect is well done, with droops and shakes appearing where one would expect them to appear, and a lot of the elements feel logical, even within this mysterious fantasy world.

I felt a bit more could be done with the graphics, but the simplicity mostly works, and the important aspects of the gameplay are sufficiently conveyed. If anything, one will fall in love with the straight-to-the-point action.

Dragger HD Review

Dragger HD Review

May 28, 2014

Dragger is a game of infectious joy from Twist Mobile.

The story runs thus: in a happy world inhabited by cheery jelly beings, a malevolent blob known as Evily rolls through, causing havoc and a dark pall to overtake the land. There is one survivor — our hero, Dragger — who works to lift the blight of sadness one jelly neighbor at a time.

It basically boils down to a physics puzzler, a 2D game of bowling, if you will, with saddies and stars as the main targets. Holding down Dragger and directing the shot to a target is how it starts, and “releasing” the jelly blob initiates the action. The first few levels are sedate enough, and work well to convey the gameplay; there is a set number of shots with which the player has to convert saddies and collect the stars by contact. And any contact is good, as moving saddies liberate other ones by touch, and can even collect stars. Using rebounded and/or transferred kinetic dra1energy is probably not going to be a winning strategy all the time, as struck saddies tend to not travel very far or for very long.

The levels get harder as progress is made, and more thought needs to be applied to make things happen. Just like in pool, the post-shot leave is key when more saddies are on the board because of the shot requirement; an errant shot can get Dragger blocked. Combo shots can be made, but do require a reasonable degree of precision to pull off; the power of the strikes can also be manipulated to a degree. Getting all three stars and converting the all saddies is the goal; levels can be repeated to effect this.

The graphics are rich and convey a fun experience, with vibrant colors and smooth animations.

All in all, it feels like the perfect time waster, with intuitive, freemium gameplay and looks that are easy on the eyes.

Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage Review

Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage Review

May 14, 2014

Contrary to my initial thoughts, Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage is a physical puzzle game about vikings and not at all a manual to party conversations. Which is bad, because constant talk about mobile videogames doesn’t help my party cred. At least I get to rescue some vikings while continuing my sad, partyless existence.

Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage is similar to other mobile puzzles in which the player needs to slash things to achieve his goals, like, for example, Cut The Rope. It’s a lot more varied than that, though. The goal is the same in every level: get dwarfs – I mean, vikings, to your hero’s boat and rescue them. The obstacles from which they need to be rescued are quite differing from each other. Most of them are frozen in glaciers that have to be sliced through, and then moved to the boat, where the main hero will smash them with a hammer. Some are suspended on the ropes, and others are just standing there, apparently unable to make a step towards in fear of stepping on their own beards.

Variety, one of the most important features of a puzzle game, is really great in Icebreaker. There are lots of small challenges that need to be completed alongside the Icebreaker 3main task, there are chests that grant bonus coins, a sprawling achievement system, and lots of other challenges that make each level unique, even if you only spend about five minutes on it. The game isn’t too difficult, and I’ve spent more time adjusting the correct way and time to make my cuts, than actually thinking what I should do next. Of course, I’ve only played through about twenty five missions, and there are hundreds of them, so I’m sure that the challenge grows a great deal later.

In general, I found Icebreaker greatly amusing. It’s just a puzzle game, so don’t expect a miracle if you aren’t a fan of these in the first place, but it is a great, fun game with unusual challenges and nice graphics. Among hundreds of neon, minimalistic puzzles on Android, it’s nice to play a fully-featured game from time to time.

Icebreaker, a Popular Viking Puzzle Game, Now on Android

Icebreaker, a Popular Viking Puzzle Game, Now on Android

May 8, 2014

Icebreaker 3

Icebreaker is a physics puzzle game that requires the player to slice blocks of ice, containing his fellow vikings, and solve other challenges. The game is finally released on Android in all of its beardy glory. Icebreaker can be purchased here: Icebreaker on Google Play.

Microtrip Review

Microtrip Review

Apr 28, 2014

For some reason, I couldn’t get Flappy Bird comparisons out of my head while playing Microtrip. It’s also a very simple idea, the player has to navigate a funny-looking protagonist through a field of obstacles, it’s starting from the very beginning every time, it doesn’t have any unlockable content, and it’s also full of unfair obstacles that instantly kill you and make you scream bloody murder.

Unlike Flappy Bird, though, Microtrip has level progression, power-ups, and actual gameplay. The core is, of course, very simple. A single-cellular organism is falling through some primordial soup, and the player controls it, either by tilting the device left and right, or touching left and right sides of the screen. Touch controls are, of course, the better option, as they always are. This organism has a soft, jelly-like substance, and upon falling on something solid, it wiggles and bends around it, much like a happy water-filled Microtrip 3balloon. Some obstacles are solid, others are half-solid and slow down the blob, and finally, there are the spiky things that make me want to spray every surface in my house with anesthetic, in hopes of killing some of these smug little bastards.

There are two types of the spiky things: the small ones and the “screw your record” ones. Smaller ones only hurt you by removing a part of your life that can be refilled with small pick-ups that litter the game. While they are annoying, meeting a couple still doesn’t kill the blob, and after it’s hurt, it becomes completely immune for a couple of seconds. So, sometimes it’s necessary to bump into them on purpose, because everything is better than to meet the big ones that kill you outright and end the game. No second chances, no repeats – straight to the beginning with you.

Microtrip isn’t completely unfair, although after getting to a third, or even fourth difficulty level, it does seem like it. There’s a power-up that, when picked up, will make the blob change itself for several seconds, gaining some sort of power – sometimes even allowing it to navigate through the spiked enemies with ease. This is sometimes enough to restore health from almost nothing, or get through some difficult places.

I definitely liked Microtrip. It’s a simple arcade game, but it requires a lot of attention and knowledge of whatever small mechanics it has. It’s fair and doesn’t have any unnecessary gimmicks. It looks great, it’s unusual, and it has enough variety – frankly, I can’t think of a bad thing to say about it. It’s a perfect little endurance arcade game that I thoroughly enjoyed.