Plants vs. Zombies 2 Is Released

Plants vs. Zombies 2 Is Released

Oct 14, 2013

Plants vs. Zombiesâ„¢ 2 3

A sequel to the highly-successful tower defense game about the advantages of being a florist during a zombie invasion, is on “soft launch”, and is available for all users in Australia, New Zealand, and China. You can get it for free from Google Play: Plants vs. Zombiesâ„¢ 2 On Google Play.

KickStarter Spotlight: Pixel Kingdom

KickStarter Spotlight: Pixel Kingdom

Jan 10, 2013

One of the great things about KickStarter is that people who would normally have a very hard time developing games because of the steep monetary cliff are able to get a barometer from the public to see if their idea is worth publishing. This is especially true for college students who are financially strapped as it is with the rates of tuition, room & board, and books. There rarely is enough time or money to sit down and purchase the developing software and licenses to produce the games of the future. Today we’re looking at a game that is the brainchild of a college sophomore from Central Florida and it is a fresh take on the game-type that was popularized by games such as Plants vs. Zombies; where waves of enemies come down set lanes, and it is up to the player to deploy defenses down each specific aisle. Named Pixel Kingdom it is a small twist on this idea is that here these defenses are actively moving down their lane in an endless battlefield against the ranks of evil. Thrown in are a handful of bosses that fill multiple lanes, such as random dragon attacks.

The whole art direction is very familiar but also very well done. Pixel art is nothing new, but when done right the affect is both attractive and still different then a majority of the apps in its category. Each unit; there are 9 of them so far, has a very unique design and they all look great, and it is very apparent that a lot of effort went in to the design of these units. The kinds of units vary greatly as well and range from the usual warrior and archer to necromancers and berserkers who are clad in purple and red, respectively. The variation in unit types is essential to a game like this as it adds much needed variation and increases the opportunity for creativity, which is rarely a bad thing.

Pixel Kingdom promises infinite levels which is a great idea because it promises that the game will never end and there will always be something new to play. The idea of having an invite level is great, but I do find it concerning because that means the game is never really done which means that there is no real conclusion to strive for. Seeing as this game is still very much still in the developing phase there still is a long time for changes to take place, and I have no doubt that with some funding from the KickStarter crowd more features will begin to appear that will make this game a Play Store juggernaught. I see a lot of promise in this young sophomore and I hope the KickStarter community does as well; as it stands at the time of writing, with a month to go Pixel Kingdom still needs more than $4,000 to meet its goal. So spread the word, and help give some deserving young developer a shot at glory.

Editor’s Note: Read our review of the final product here!

Six New EA Games Come to Android

Six New EA Games Come to Android

Dec 23, 2011

EA is nothing if not dominating the mobile space, and to prove it once again, they’re launching six new gaming titles to the Android Marketplace. First up is Dead Space, named by Apple as iPad game of the year, and Real Racing 2, one of the best iOS Games of the year, according to Venture Beat. Real Racing 2 will be available for a free test drive, with an upgrade to the full version available for the first time on the marketplace. In addition, Plants Vs. Zombies, Peggleand Monopoly will also be on offer, so make sure you hit the Android Market in the coming days to fill up that sweet new device with EA gaming goodness.

EA Mobile is a leading mobile entertainment publisher witha ton of games like as Tetris, Bejeweled, The Sims, and Need For Speed, for starters. They also publish casual games based on the company’s alliance with Hasbro, Inc. including Monopoly, Yahtzee and Scrabble as well as sports games from the EA SPORTS brand, like Madden NFL Football and FIFA Soccer. EA Mobile develops games for multiple mobile platforms including feature phones, smartphones (Android & Windows Phone), the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. For more information about EA Mobile, head on over to www.eamobile.com.

PopCap Buyer Revealed: EA

PopCap Buyer Revealed: EA

Jul 13, 2011

The mysterious suitor for distributors of digital crack, PopCap, has finally been revealed, and it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, as it is EA that has bought PopCap. The price is both less and more than the rumored $1 billion figure, as the deal includes $650 million in cash, $100 million in stock, and bonuses that can be earned by PopCap based on their revenue, according to TechCrunch. EA buying PopCap makes sense, as both companies have a notable mobile presence, and EA has been seeking to expand their mobile presence in the past year, having purchased mobile developer Firemint and publisher Chillingo.

What this deal could mean to Android gamers is potentially more titles from the PopCap library beyond their current releases, as EA has shown a focus on releasing games on Android as well as iOS, though Android’s library of EA titles pales in comparison to their iOS releases. PopCap are showing some humor in the acquisition, having left this little Plants vs. Zombies-inspired note for their new overlords at EA:

With that out of the way, now PopCap can get on their way to consuming more and more brains with addictive games.

Source: TechCrunch, EA News

PopCap Games and Orange Pixel on “What’s right, and wrong, with Android?”

PopCap Games and Orange Pixel on “What’s right, and wrong, with Android?”

Jun 29, 2011

As Android users, we’re passionate about this operating system. We love games and apps and all the neat things we can do with our phones, and we know what makes Android great. Why, then, does it seem like the best games keep popping up on iOS devices? To get to the bottom of this question, I contacted a few different developers and studios to ask them, “What’s wrong with the Android?”

One of the first studios I contacted was PopCap Games who are responsible for such brilliant titles as Bejeweled, Peggle, Plants vs. Zombies and more. Many of these games began as PC games and then slowly made their way to mobile phones. They also have a spin-off division called 4th & Battery that creates edgier, more experimental games such as Unpleasant Horse and Candy Train, both currently exclusive to iOS.

I asked Jeff Green, Director of Editorial and Social Media at PopCap Games, why many of PopCap’s games start off on iOS and then come to Android. Is it a matter of hype, that the iPhone just seems to get all the attention? Or is it something simpler we aren’t seeing — for example, the developers all just happen to have iPhones? His response, via email, was both insightful and troubling.

“It’s really kind of neither. I mean, plenty of PopCap developers have Android phones, too. It’s more that — in this goes for PopCap as a whole, too, not just 4th and Battery — that it’s far easier to do quality control on the iOS’s closed system. The openness of the Android is great, but it also means that it’s a huge hassle to ensure compatibility across multiple phones. This has been made even worse by the wild west nature of the Android marketplaces themselves, which don’t make it easy for consumers to tell which games might actually be compatible on their phones.

“PopCap never wants to give anyone a substandard experience, whether it’s with the game itself or even just buying the game. The Amazon marketplace has been a huge step in the right direction, and that’s why we were finally able to get a couple of our games (Chuzzle and PvZ) out there on it. But the [Android] OS itself is the biggest hassle. If we had said to ourselves, ‘Okay, Unpleasant Horse is going to be an Android game first,’ we’d still be testing it now.”

His answer is very similar to Pascal Bestebroer of Orange Pixel, who are a bit of an anomaly. Orange Pixel like to design games first for Android and then port them to iOS. As Pascal points out, “… indeed, we like doing things backwards, and are porting some of our Android games to iPhone right now ;) This has only one reason: a more interesting market place.”

Orange Pixel make many fine games for the Android platform, including Meganoid, Mini Plane, Super Drill Panic and more.

Pascal’s response to the question of Android’s strengths and weaknesses were that, “Openness is a strength: from the OS to the hardware to the Android market and development tools. You can develop for Android on Windows, Linux or Mac; the tools are free. You can then easily test on the devices (side loading) or distribute to various testers for them to give it a spin. This requires a lot of extra steps to get working on iOS. Also, the rapid developments of Android could be seen as a strength. Although, you could argue against it obviously.”

As for weaknesses, Pascal cited some of the unique challenges that face Android developers, noting that the variety of devices is especially daunting. Even the simple question of screen size, for example, proves challenging. In his own words, “Making sure it looks good on all the various screen sizes.”

“I don’t like to call this fragmentation, however,” he continues. “because it is just part of this ecosystem. As with PC’s, Java-based mobile phones, and now also iOS: there are variation in devices, so you have to either calculate that in or ignore a large portion of devices. Android takes care of a lot of the screen-variation, but it is still something that requires extra attention and adds a challenge. All other stuff that people keep mentioning in their ‘fragmentation’ rants is just not a real issue. Most devices come with the same type of feature set: tilt, touch, processor speeds.”

From what I’ve gathered, you can see how the iOS offers a simpler environment to develop for, which seems to be very attractive even if more costly. Android, on the other hand, offers cheaper development tools, but the variety of devices and openness of the platform, while great strengths, can also be great weaknesses. As new features and functions continue to roll out, it’s easy to see how this “problem” will grow. As long as PopCap, Orange Pixel and many others continue to bring their work to Android, however, we’ll still have plenty of reason to love it.

Plants vs. Zombies Review

Plants vs. Zombies Review

Jun 1, 2011

NOTE: Plants vs. Zombies is not yet available on the Android Market; it is exclusive to the Amazon Appstore as of publication. Click here to download the game.

Took them long enough. PopCap has finally brought their much-beloved take on tower defense, Plants vs. Zombies, to Android. The player must defend a house from oncoming zombies, by using nature’s finest plant defenses to repel the mindless hordes from trying to consume the brains of those unfortunate saps in the house. What really makes Plants vs. Zombies different is its lane element – instead of enemies traveling down a winding path, they travel through a lane on screen to the house; if a zombie reaches the end of a lane, a mower is started that kills all the enemies in the lane, but if they reach again, it’s game over. The player has sunflowers to collect sunlight, the resource used to buy other units, pea shooters of various types, potato mines, explosive jalapeños, mushrooms that only come out at night, zombie-eating venus fly traps, and even more. There are countless units in the game that get introduced, and success is based on choosing the proper units for a level, as each stage introduces new elements to account for, like darkness, water, and rooftop levels where specific catapult plants must be used on certain spaces.

This sounds very complex, and not very casual-friendly, as is PopCap’s usual MO. However, the thing that makes Plants vs. Zombies work is the way that the game gradually introduces elements in a way that never makes it feeling overwhelming. It introduces one or two new elements at a time, such as a new enemy or new defense unit, but continuously does this throughout the game. What this means is that the game is constantly expanding and providing something new. It takes a long time before the realization that there is a fair amount of complexity to the game. It just has that PopCap secret sauce that just make it so addictive, to compel players to pick it up and keep going at it until they absolutely must stop. Even I found myself suckered back into the game on Android, not too long after my first long-term experience with it on iOS, using it to pass time on long train rides. PopCap are just masters at making games that are fun to play, and are accessible to all audiences, even for atypical gamers. Give a non-gamer Plants vs. Zombies and they’ll still likely have fun with it. The Android port is faithful and identical to the iOS version of the game, and it even appears to run at a smoother frame rate than the iOS version on my iPod touch 4G. This doesn’t necessarily make a difference in gameplay, it just makes the animations look much smoother.

The one nagging issue with the Android port is that the visuals are stretched out for wider phones, like the Galaxy S’ 800×480 screen. This is a shame, because the game doesn’t deserve to unnecessarily lose crispness this way. While the game’s consistent introduction of new elements, it rarely ever takes any time to feel comfortable; there is always something new coming, and that is the tradeoff PopCap made with the game to keep players engaged, and to make the game feel perpetually fresh.

However, as far as tower defense games go, this one is quite different and extremely addictive, thanks to that PopCap touch. Brilliantly designed, with a charming concept and aesthetic, Plants vs. Zombies is instantly one of Android’s best games. Just fix the stretching, PopCap!

PopCap Games Bringing Chuzzle, Plants vs. Zombies to Android

PopCap Games Bringing Chuzzle, Plants vs. Zombies to Android

May 17, 2011

Finally, news that many of us have long been looking forward to has come out. On May 16, PopCap Games, developer of such instant classics as Bejeweled, Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies, made the huge announcement that it has signed an agreement with Amazon to offer its first Android games to the U.S. market via Amazon’s Appstore for Android.

During two, two-week periods, the first PopCap title to hit Android, Chuzzle, will be available from May 17 to May 30, followed by Plants vs. Zombies for a second exclusive offer. Not only that, but each game will be free during their first day of availability, after which they’ll be available at the price of US$2.99 each.

Chuzzle is a match-three style of puzzle game featuring a group of fuzzy creatures that you can slide, prod and nudge into order. The game features four modes of play, from the Classic mode, where getting a high score is all that matters, to Mind Bender mode, a puzzle where you must slide chuzzles into patterns. Then, you can race the clock in Speed mode or just spend all day popping chuzzles in Zen mode.

Plants vs. Zombies is a tower-defense style game where you must grow a garden of flowers, vegetables and other objects to be placed in the path of an invasion of zombies.

Obviously, this is great news for Android as a gaming platform; the kind of news that, hopefully, gets Android out of the “gaming ghetto” and into the limelight. We’ve been looking forward to the day when PopCap would finally release games for Android, and now it’s here. But is this just the tip of iceberg? Could a port of Peggle, or Unpleasant Horse from PopCap’s spin-off studio, 4th & Battery, be next? Will other development studios see this move as a sign that now is the time to come to Android?

My only other question is, why did PopCap agree to a deal with Amazon when it could have released the game on the Android Market itself? Was it the visibility of apps on the Amazon Appstore that swayed the exclusive deal, even if it meant releasing the games for free for a 24 hour period? If so, it appears that Amazon has quite a bit of pull in the apps market. Should Google be worried?