Sweet Drmzzz Review

Sweet Drmzzz Review

Nov 19, 2014

Sweet Drmzzz is a cool, collected brain teaser batch that might actually be named counter-intuitively. It’s a tale about sleepy fantasy, alarm clock travel and space adventures.

The game is leveled, and packs in puzzle after puzzle based on a several templates. As to be expected, the mind benders presented start off at an easy keel, and as progress is made, the difficulty gets ratcheted up. Now, while the graphics and sounds are definitely soothing, I think its true strength is in the simple quality of the puzzles.

For example, one of the early capers had to do with capturing stars with definite moving beings. The beings can be moved as right angles by taps, and the idea is to pick up all the stars. Down the line, the developer gradually adds elements that make it a bit tougher: stuff like extra beings controlled by the same taps, ghost guards and color-coded collectible stars etc. It eventually comes to feel a little like a free-moving Pac-Man without the alleys.

Then there is an interesting hole-filling segment; there is a sprinkle of colored dust that has to be directed into the holes by using gesture movements to create slides. This gets harder too, with set amounts of dust, and the need to convert the dust to another color to fill a specifically colored hole. More elements get added, and the challenge becomes greater.

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Then there are memory tests and such. The developer does a good job of making it fun, and increasingly difficult without being illogically unsolvable. I like the intricate nature of the puzzles, as the easy parts aids familiarity such that the harder versions are more fun to tackle.

The graphics are cutesy, and more or less frame the gameplay quite well; it looks easy on the eyes, the pastels are clean looking, and the moving parts are quite smooth.

For some, it might feel a little repetitive though, as the gameplay does rely a bit on the templated styles. The upfront pricing is welcome, and goes far in my book.

So… back to the title: it’s an awesome time waster, but I did find myself losing sleep; the leveled gameplay got me again and again. It’s charm creeps on you, and that is okay.

So what if I lose a little virtual sleep…

Monument Valley Review

Monument Valley Review

May 20, 2014

For folks who love puzzles and creative geometry and puzzle solving, I have two words: Monument Valley.

The creativity sets the game apart. It’s an architectural puzzler that involves zany stuff like impossible shapes and the like to convey the gameplay.

At the core, the idea is to get from Point A to Point B. Generally, for each level, there is a curiously sculpted structure between both points. The structure is invariably castle-like, with several elements and a few latent moving parts that can be be manipulated to create a bridge or a temporary elevator to lift Ida to where she needsmv1 to be to complete the quest. Controlling ida is a matter of tapping where one wants her to be; she only moves to said place if there is a clear path or ladder. Tapping and sliding/rotating effects manipulation of buildings when possible.

As the game goes on, the gameplay further teeters — admirably — on the edge of reality, with gravity being defied and collapsing pieces that make easy parts automatically get tougher to traverse. Some levels are staged, and it is great to see one part solved and a new portion revealed. Completing a level opens up a subsequent one, and failed or stalled levels can be replayed.

Players might be forgiven if they tarry a bit on the structures. Finding the movable pieces is fun, and finding out what geometrical changes can be changed in defiance of the laws of true physics is pretty interesting. The games visual representations are chock full of eye benders that are cool even in their collective incredulity. It is a battle of angling and animations, and the artwork lays down the perfect foundation for the overall gameplay.

Overall, it’s a simple concept and a satisfying game that is harder to put down once one gets into it.

Cut the Rope 2 Review

Cut the Rope 2 Review

Apr 23, 2014

Even though it didn’t feel like it was gone (thanks to some well-timed seasonal outputs), we should take time to welcome back Cut the Rope 2. Om Nom is back, of curse, and brings new characters and some fresh tweaks to the gameplay.

The cutscenes tell the woeful story of appropriated candy and an inadvertently lost Om Nom, and how our roundish hero goes about getting home while re-collecting his hoard. As with the previous iterations of the game, get the basic concept is to manipulate the playing area to get the candy piece into Om Nom’s mouth while nabbing as many of the three stars available in the process.

The general mechanism remains the same: swipe gestures sever the ropes holding the candy, and if done correctly, On cut1Nom gets his treat. Balloons and platforms make early and continuous appearances; the former works to complicate puzzles in an interesting way, as they (as everything else in the game) follow general rules of physics. As progress is made, new folks with interesting powers make their acquaintances.

Failed levels can be repeated, and there are plenty of upgrades and such that can be applied after procurement from the in-app purchasing depot. There are bonuses that can be used to help with solutions, as well as other exhaustible power-ups.

The graphics look familiar, which is a good think. the different environments are mostly unique, but retain the look most folks know and love. The use of color os well done, and the hi-res, glossy imagery coupled with the occasional cutscenes work well to convey the gameplay. The animations are smooth, down to the soft bounces of inflatables and flail of the severed restraints.

Cut the Rope 2 seemingly manages the difficult art of being a sequel to a well received game that stands on its own feet without wrecking what worked to make the original popular in the first place. It’s a great time waster that reaffirms Zeptolab’s mindshare.

The Adventures of Mosaika Review

The Adventures of Mosaika Review

Oct 29, 2013

The Adventures of Mosaika is a mystery thriller from Fire Maple Games.

The game combines elements of hidden object and logical puzzle solving into the gameplay. To get the most out of it, a lot of patient wandering with attention to detail is needed. There are plenty of items to be identified and collected to the inventory via taps, and some items or areas can be zoomed into visually.

As noted, getting out and about is key. The gameplay starts in a room, and the mystery solving gets underway with unique woodwork. The game area expands to outdoor areas and there is an interesting mix of nature, science and mystical facets. I like the random nature of the game, in that the clues are not linear in nature. You can go on and mos1on picking things up, solving puzzles, collecting more stuff and then going all the way back to visit places that have already been visited. The clues are not overly complicated; an empty notch here, an color-coded abacus there. A measure of memory it’s needed, because almost everything can be helpful, from a random log of wood to bird feed. Literally. The game progresses, a zig-zag pattern develops, and this isn’t bad in my book. New sections get discovered, and along with these, more clues. All together, some sequences stretch the imagination a tad, but it is a game after all. For moments when things get to complex, a magnifying glass helps with hints and solutions.

The game navigation is fairly straightforward; tapping the edge of the screen in the general direction of the next area moves play to the next screen. I think the mapping/scene selection mechanism could be more inuitive though; gestures would have helped a bit.

The visual aspect is vivid, with hand-etched artwork being the centerpiece. It’s always great when the environment becomes an enjoyable part of the game, and this is definitely possible here. The animations are sparse, but when they do make an appearance, they do feel alive.

It’s a simple game an a welcome addition to the genre.

Qvoid Review

Qvoid Review

Oct 9, 2013

Qvoid is a fun puzzler that packs in plenty of fun into a simple concept. Great looking 3D graphics, fluid animations and nice coloration are its unashamed hallmarks.

The premise is simple on paper. The aim is to use a movement cube to change the colors of all the other cubes to one single color in the least amount of movers. To explain further, the play area generally consists of a set of cubes that are adjacent to one another, making a raised platform of sorts. Most of these are all black; the face of one (more on further levels) box has another, brighter color on it. Whenever the top box is rolled by swiping, whatever color one of its faces touches is adopted and taken, leaving the color of the surface block black (which is what we want). The goal then is to swipe in such a way to get rid of the spare color by matching it to another surfaceq1 face. And as noted, the key to getting a three star score is to solve the puzzle in no more moves than is suggested by the game.

The game plays much easier than its description implies, and it is fairly intuitive. As the levels are completed and gameplay progresses, it gets trickier, with more spots, tougher positioning and unique tools and workarounds. Teleporters, rotators, bridges and multiple colors all join in to make the game quite challenging. The extras can help or hinder; the rotating squares, for instance, can mess up a move or be a strategic device. So even in a relatively simple game, the developer finds a way to use strategy to potentially keep players engaged.

Still, biggest issue might be eventual monotony. I would have liked some color variations, and maybe even the ability to play user-developed levels. That is admittedly a lofty desire, but hey, fantasy is what I do.

It should be fun to see what else Gavina Games can bring to Android.

Color Zen Review

Color Zen Review

Aug 2, 2013

Color Zen is a cool cucumber. It seems to want to tease your brain while calming it. It’s a lofty idea, but thankfully, I love checking out lofty ideas.

The game is definitely interesting. The best explanation is received from playing it and actually “feeling” the game.

The object of the game is to solve the color-centric puzzles. In the game’s playing area, there is a frame color — a color that covers a thin area around the play grid, kind of like a picture frame. In the grid itself are any number ofzen1 colored shapes. In general terms, touching any of the colors against another imbibes the second with the color of the first; in other words, the color is absorbed. For simplicity, one of the colors in the grid always matches the color of the outer rim.

The overall objective is to have the final color in the grid match the frame. For this to happen, it is important to figure out how to work the colors to allow he final colored shape be the one that matched the color of the outer frame. This is how the developer is able to carve out such a fascinating and calm game out of a seemingly rudimentary idea.

As the game progresses, new elements are tossed in; white becomes a neutral color; there’s stuff liked colored shapes within colored shapes, and asymmetrical formations that really force problem-solving.

It’s a game based on colors, and the graphics are proportionately sharp. The music is gentle and soothing, and works well in the game environment.

One thing that speaks well to the game is the support. The developer of the game has a forum, segregated by platform, that discusses updates, solutions and suggestions. I like this; consistent interactions can only help make the game better, and make the playing community develop a sense of belonging.

All in all, it is a surprisingly fun game that toils very little to create a fun atmosphere.

Blendoku Review

Blendoku Review

Jun 17, 2013

Blendoku is different… very different, and, I got to say that is a very good thing.

It’s a game that almost has to be seen (and played) to be thoroughly explained and enjoyed. The game engine spits out a 2D grid of blocks, with more squares of color suspended in an area above; the number depends on the number of empty boxes below. Every grid has at least one color square already placed, and it/they serve(s) as starter squares.

Now, to complete a level, the colors have to be set in roughly a blended fashion. Think bright colors to brighter colors, or vice-versa. The key is to bend the colors as naturally as possible to solve the puzzle. A keen eye and the ability to mentally process hues helps. For Instance, if going, say, from light grey to black, putting a darker shade of grey before a light one won’t solve the puzzle.blend3

Yeah, and action is timed.

As the gameplay levels get higher, the difficulty of the puzzles rise as well. Soon, the grids were not just flat strips; there were irregularly shaped grids, and some in the shape of diamonds, pyramids and so forth. The color mixing also gets more complex, with brighter colors making an appearance. For different types of players, there are four different levels of difficulty.

The controls were precise, with dragging and dropping being the main means of movement. For tough sequences, there is a redo button and an exhaustible reverse toggle.

The feature set is just about perfect for the casual gamer. There is a global time leaderboard that allows the player to compare times to; there is also a local one that allows the player to challenge his/her own best times. The games gives out recognition for perfection.

Looks-wise, it is a simple game, but the developer incorporates nice animations and uses the color to make a fun game with a minimalist environment. The gameplay sound is a cheery accompaniment that does a decent job. In-app purchasing does exist, but isn’t necessary to advance.

It’s a fun game, and comes close to being the perfect time-waster.

Pixoban Review

Pixoban Review

Jun 11, 2013

Pixoban is a delightful little leveled puzzler that incorporates simple, eye-catching graphics, intuitive gameplay and a basic prop story.

The gameplay starts with a scary alien abduction. But these crafty aliens are not picking me up for abhorrent medical research, or organ-harvesting schemes, or the noble pursuit of studying the social mores of human beings in confined space.

No, these aliens are messy, and need help cleaning up their messy ship.

The gameplay is situated on a squared 2D grid. Basically, it involves moving boxes to more or less inconveniently placed airlocks. Using drag motion, I get to use my game personality to move the box to the square representing the pix2airlock. Now, the kicker is that movement goes only one way. Boxes cannot be pulled; only pushed. Thus, moving a box plush against a wall could stop reasonable progress, especially if there is not any wiggle room. Every move has to be reasonably thought through; for example, moving a box sometimes entails reversing course to get behind, on top, beneath or beside a box to change direction of movement.

After a while, multiple boxes and multiple portals start to make an appearance. Boxes have to be logically moved from the beginning, and the puzzles do get a bit tougher. Did I say that there is a timer for the solutions? There is. Quickness is definitely a encouraged, and times are recorded.

But there are helpers too. There is a reverse button that allows players to rewind course, so that if stuck, it is possible to go back and re-do steps. While it does count against you, it is handy to have.

Success opens up further levels, and the game boast more than 120 different levels, so there is plenty of gaming to be had, as well as a special Pixoban award if every level is completed.

Pixoban is another game that shows that plenty of fun can be found in games with simplistic exteriors.

Blip Blup Review

Blip Blup Review

May 28, 2013

Blip Blup is an interesting puzzle game from ustwo that manages to be infuriating and calming in an interchangeable manner.

The gameplay looks deceptively easy, but the proof is almost only to be had in the playing. In each level, there is set of squares laid out in 2D grids (think of ubiquitous kitchen tiles on a floor). Tapping on a grey one caused “pulses” of color to emanate, affecting tiles beside and around the original square by making them imbibe the color. Getting every eligible square to take up the color with a minimum of taps (“blips”) is the recurring goal.

The first set of puzzles, or “packs” in game parlance specific to Blip Blup, serves as a working tutorial. This is always a good thing, and even though I think the verbiage could be less sparse, it does give good pointers with regards to playing the game successfully. It also hints at the variations and increased difficulty to come; blip1progression into advanced packs reveals harder boards with less and less symmetry and different obstacles. Tapping and holding a square highlights the immediate impact of setting of a pulse, so it is possible to estimate the reach of each play… to a degree.

What sets Blip Blup apart from the pack for me is its deliberate minimalism. The developer manages to create a bright, engaging interface by keeping the colors segregated. This really makes the pulsing squares illuminate against the mostly white backdrop, making the animations come to life in (hopefully) in a cascade of level-clearing color. Different packs usually have their own colors — bright pastels and primary colors — and this helps to induce a feeling of advancement. Yes, I’m biased in favor of clean and/or conservative demand when it works, and here, it simply worked.

The developer does get some props for simplicity of controls. It’s mostly about taps, longpressing and dragging.

Simplicity is the biggest feature. It allows the game to be simple without being foolish, and challenging with out invoking the theory of relativity. It is one game that did have been scrambling to unlock; I do refuse to complain about developers using legitimate means to fund their hard work.

The hard work does show in this game.

Tractor Trails Review

Tractor Trails Review

Nov 27, 2012

Tractor Trails shows that even farm equipment without brakes can be useful, and seeding land has never been more fun.

The unassuming game hails from Origin8 Technologies Ltd, and made me the the helper of Red the brakeless tractor, and Chuck the duck (I think) We were tasked with seeding differing plots of land in an arborist’s dream. In imbibing graphics and challenging landscapes into the gameplay, the developer was able to prevent Tractor Trails from being Just Another Puzzle Game.

Using my hand, I had to guide Red with my finger as quickly as possible over the land to plant the trees. But the kicker is that I had to do it quickly, and do it without running into existing or new trees. Adding to the challenge was the need to do it quickly; every level had a time split. Meeting it gave me the opportunity to get the three-star worthy “Perfect” tag. Basically, figuring out the best path, and doing it quickly gave me the highest scores. Being less than perfect gave me less stars.

While completing the tree-planting puzzles, I was able to collect corn. Corn was gold (literally) in this game, as I could use corn to upgrade my planting machine. I also found out that I could use the golden kernels to glean hints when I could not advance.

The animations were cute; even weather elements made appearances, and I thought fit the game. In-app purchasing is available, and any purchase kills the ads on the game. This was good, as the ads might be off-putting for some. On the other hand, I was able to make reasonable progress without them. I thought the idea of a profile that kept count of stuff like my high score, corn recovered and even how many birds we had scared was whimsically interesting.

The game also had a toggle-able HD option, and yes, I did notice the difference.

My biggest gripe is that even with the variation, monotony might set in; the gameplay will either really intrigue, or probably not keep one’s interest.

All in all, Tractor Trails put the fun back in saving the planet. At the very least, it will have you appreciating nature; expect to be engaged, as the game boasts 130 levels that increase in difficulty.

Frenzic Review

Frenzic Review

Feb 3, 2011

Frenzic is a game that makes a bold promise with its name – fast, frenzied gameplay, but then, due to technical shortcomings, often fails to live up to it. The goal of Frenzic is to try and drop wedges into the circles around the board, to form other circles. The wedges come in 3 colors – orange, green, and purple (don’t worry, a colorblind mode is also available), and you want to try to form circles of the same color, as they give you extra lives, which you lose whenever you have a piece you can’t place down. The game is called Frenzic for a reason – it’s very fast. You’ll have only brief moments to lay down pieces before it’s on to the next one, and the next one…this is a game all about keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs.