CounterSpy Review

CounterSpy Review

Sep 30, 2014

I don’t drink, but if I did, it would all be shaken. Not stirred.

We all have a little bit of Bond in us. Deep down, there’s a super spy within us, and veins coursing with the spirit of espionage. For this reason, CounterSpy probably has a leg up on making us happy, and at the very least, it should be interesting to see how the gameplay adds up.

For back story, our super secret agency is C.O.U.N.T.E.R, and it is welcoming our main character, Bishop Five, into its folds. With the use of cutscene dialogue, the developer gives us an overview of the intro mission, Bishop’s CIA roots and that the game is set during the Cold War. The intro guides us right into the gameplay itself, and there we get our first look at the graphics. It’s a zany affair, with stretchy characterizations and a great use of light to effect the environment. The game is set up in a 2D side-scrolling format, with most movements occurring from left to right, and occasional flashes to 3D for special action sequences. Movements and interactions are effected by gestures and taps; for example, swiping makes our guy walk, double swiping makes him run in the swiped direction. There are other controls too, which can make our spy navigate ledges, creep and do melee attacks, crouch and shoot. Altogether, the flexible control set really makes the game shine.


The gameplay is generally boils down to a set of missions with collected data and materials serving as the waypoints, and plenty of dangers in the person of guards and raised DEFCON levels. The hints system is helpful, and the action is fairly continuous. I like that this isn’t just some simple shooter; in some instances, stealth is the preferred option, and in other scenarios, holding an enemy at gunpoint might be the best option. The game engine seems to adjust well too, using a procedural system that allows missions to not be 100% the same. Success yields cash which can be used for boosts and upgrades in the game store.

All in all, it is a pretty fun game, quite worthy of its Playstation/console roots. It works well, is flexible and does a good job of keeping players engaged. The advertised Playstation/cross platform sync is another cherry on top.

Whether or not one likes it shaken or stirred.

Empire Run Review

Empire Run Review

Sep 26, 2014

Will Empire Run be different enough to stand out from all the other endless runners out there?

Endless runners need to pack some great content to be noticeable in the Google Play Store. Either that or they must have a great theme or graphical appeal to have a chance to be downloaded. Because there are lots of endless runners out there. Perhaps to much – but that is for another rainy day. The endless runner Empire Run is a game that does things right: it has a very nice graphical style and offers some nice gameplay tweaks, in its attempt not to be overlooked by the public.


Empire Run offers three gameplay modes with three layers of difficulty each. As a player, the goal is always to complete a stage, but the sub-goal differs from one another. In the first, players need to win from another character in a one on one match. In the second, they need to defeat a certain amount of enemies and in the third, it is necessary to survive the level. That last one is a classic endless runner mode, but even than the game keeps his own appeal.

The character on screen needs to collect an amount of coins to get access to his superdash. With that dash, players can defeat enemies and break stuff that would otherwise slow of even kill them. Collecting those coins isn’t just for the sake of it – it has some meaning to the gameplay, and that is something I can really appreciate in a video game. There are also special history coins: they give players little did-you-knows about the period of history the player is playing in. It’s great!

The runner in the game is a student that is learning for his history test. During his studying, he falls asleep and dreams of the stuff he just learned about. This gives the developer the chance to put many different styles in the game – the levels are based on different real-life history periods and leaves us with colorful and vibrant levels. If there would be one endless runner to download right now, I would say that this game is my number one pick from now on.

Motoheroz Review

Motoheroz Review

Feb 14, 2014

Motoheroz has made its way to Android.

The gameplay comes in two generalized versions: One Shot, which exists to perpetuate leaderboard bragging rights, and Career, that highlights prowess over extended levels. In the latter version, finishing a level with a star (more on this later) opens up future levels. There are eleven environments (with another “coming soon”) and each environment is broken down into said levels. Social network sign-up is necessary to take part in the One Shot series.

Racing starts off in familiar 2D platform style, with vehicles going left to right in a time trial of sorts. In Career Mode, the car “races” against a blue shadow vehicle that more or less paces the “real vehicle.” Now, an interesting wrinkle in this gameplay is that, in addition to left-right racing, in some levels, it is necessary to actually double back and complete the time trial zipping along back towards where the trial started from.

The control mechanism is extremely important, and almost equally atypical. It uses a bank of virtual controls. On themoto1 right are a pair of buttons that control direction to the left or right; as such, if using the one to accelerate the vehicle in any direction, the opposite button slows it down, stops it and eventually makes it go the other way. To the left are a couple of balance buttons. The one dips the vehicle forward by raising the back wheels, and the other lifts the hood/bonnet up by dipping the back wheels. These buttons are especially useful when the vehicle is airborne. Going up a steep hill too fast, for example, launches the vehicle much it might look in real life, with the vehicle struggling to land evenly. These balance buttons help adjust the car to prevent bad landings.

At the end of the day, speed is the name of the game. performance earns coins which can be used to upgrade vehicle attributes. Gold can be collected on the track, but the best hauls occur when starts are earned. Every level is rated thus, and stars mark achievement. For example, making specific time thresholds or beating the pace car earns some nice payouts and unlock the the next level.

There is an in-app purchase system, but it is quite straightforward; for a single price, the vehicle can be completely upgraded.

All in all, it is a well done port, with slick graphics and addictive, easy-to-understand gameplay.

Rope Escape Atlantis Review

Rope Escape Atlantis Review

Sep 19, 2013

It’s one thing to spit out a lot of games in the Android gaming marketplace; another to publish good ones worth playing more than once. In Rope Escape Atlantis, it seems that development house Deemedya has at chance at executing the latter.

The backstory is adjusted a bit from the original. In this one, Atlantis is being destroyed by its legendary catastrophe, and is literally collapsing into the encroaching sea. The is the basis of the 2D environment that makes up most of the graphics; especially, when compared to the original in my mind’s eye, the five environments seem brighter, with usable animations that invoke panic and destruction. Sky looks like sky, water looks like water and atlantis1lava looks like, well, lava.

It’s pretty similar to its predecessor with regards to its basic gameplay. To survive the destruction to Atlantis, our hero uses automatically generated shooting ropes, Spider-Man sidescrolling style, to swing from column to column to… well, anything above the water: stuff like flying column pieces, hot air balloons and more. Mistiming a release, or swinging too low can lead to smacking the water, which ends the run. There are gold coins and powerups like magnets and rockets that can be collected, and there is also a task list.

There are some interesting differences from the original. One is that the ropes in this version are not unlimited; You get only so many missed shots. Additionally, here is a limited amount of lives too, when they run out, more can be bought with real cash, or, alternatively, one can wait half an hour or so for new lives to be generated “naturally” by the game. There are different characters to unlock, and kid-friendly ones that can be utilized. There are extra pets too.

All in all, it’s a nice game that creeps a bit beyond just a “refresh” in terms of its identity.

He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe Review

He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe Review

Sep 11, 2013

He-Man: The Most Powerful Game In The Universe is a cheeky side-scrolling ode to the popular 80s cartoon from Android gaming masters Chillingo.

Most of the action involves continual left to right movement in the running area. Using the preferred two-thumb control system, the left mostly controls lateral movement, and the right thumb controls the basic attacks and jumping.

The first level is an informal training tutorial. The general premise is to get through the tunnels and henchmen to get to Skeletor. He-Man has his trusty weapon, and it can be wielded and used by tapping the right side of the screen. There are boxes and structures that can be violently reduced to collectible coins, and the henchmen have damage infliction attributes of their own. One cool aspect is that you start with three lives; they can be refreshed by collecting the occasionally discarded heart from vanquished bad guys. Knowledge of how the henchmen attack also he1governs strategy, as it makes sense to hold back a little when dealing with groups of multiple guards.

As the game progresses, the level of difficulty rises; moving, spiked ceilings, bigger enemies and even physical obstacles that encourage speed of action start appearing. Thankfully, allies like renown weapons master Man-At-Arms and Orko the magician begin to show up. Additionally, it is possible to upgrade weapons and other attributes using collected gems or real cash. The weapons, for instance, are actually helpful, and almost necessary to advance and unlock future levels. Some specials can be invoked from the top right of the screen; The “GreySkull” power-up was quite worth using.

The graphics are cute without being silly; He-Man and most humanoid characters look like the same muscle-bound creatures BALCO customers would be jealous of. The color is great, animations are fluid, and the cutscenes were well done. As far as I went in the game, Prince Adam didn’t make an appearance, which borders on the criminal, but I’m still looking. The jump button was a bit wonky too.

This game does remind me why I had He-Man action figures as a kid, and really, that’s all that matters. Laugh all you want; I’m off to save Eternia!

Monsters, Inc. Run Review

Monsters, Inc. Run Review

Aug 13, 2013

When it comes to movie tie-in games, Disney is becoming as prolific as the best of ’em. I say it’s good business; mobile games can be easy ways to get people to engage with any franchise. Monsters, Inc Run is a sideways scrolling running game that incorporates running, jumping and some of Disney’s favorite characters.

The artwork does Monster Inc proud. It’s a really bright, but can’t be simply described as being kid-friendly; it’s actually pretty nice. There’s a pervasive but pleasant use of green, and other colors used combine with it well. The animations are decent, and the game did have an arcade feel to it visually.monsters1

The gameplay is full of action, with only two major controls: tap to jump, and tap and hold to jump longer. These can be invoked anywhere on the screen. The running area is built out of several non-continuous platforms of varying lengths. The “natural” gaps in the running area encourage jumping, and it is evident early on that harnessing the jumping power can also get our running monster to upper lanes. Plenty of goodies are available to be collected all through the running paths; they range from all sorts of upgrades to gold coins that can be used in the in-app store. Each run is, in essence, a race; at the end, time and points determine performance ranking measured by three hearts. The game speed and monsters get tougher as the game goes on, and I especially like how Scully makes his upgraded appearances.

As noted earlier, there are some obstacles, living and inanimate. Bad monsters can be jumped on, over or (with an appropriate power up) run through. Usually, though, touching these specific type of monsters knocked our running monster down a level, or worse — into nothingness, ending the run prematurely. The gameplay is leveled, and XP opens up further levels (and consequently, new attributes).

The game store does encourage the purchasing if upgrades. The good news is that the gold coins can be used. Some attributes are level-dependent, and the game does accept real money as well.

It’s a game that does Mike and Scully proud in their quest to save Boo.

Mad Dragon Review

Mad Dragon Review

Jul 26, 2013

Mad Dragon is an interesting side-scrolling runner that features an almost lovable fantasy character.

A hitherto sleeping dragon is our angry protagonist. In this side-scroller, action proceeds from left to right, and the enraged dragon possesses an exhaustible set of attributes that assist it in its desire to wreak as much havoc as possible. Wreaking havoc, in this game, mostly refers to destroying as many buildings as possible, while avoiding the bombs that are spread out around the place to stop the dragon.

To help in the quest to destroy structures, I had a pair of wings. Tapping on the screen is the solitary control, and this action invokes the ability to fly. Holding after tapping increases altitude, and releasing losses height. Not doing anything allows the dragon to run on the ground “normally.” At the top left, there is an energy bar that mad1measures how much flight power is available. It is depleted by flying, and replenished when the dragon is running.

There are collectible gold coins that are interspersed in the passing area; by default, contact with them collects them. There are also cool, temporary power-ups, like fire breathing ability (name says it all), rocket speed (shoots the dragon forward at high speed with a degree of invincibility) and coin magnetism.

Running into bombs directly twice ends the run, so these are to be avoided.

One thing I liked about the game was the simple upgrade system: run, stay alive, destroy buildings, and accumulate coins. There are no special tokens; no convoluted conversions. Just get coins, and use the coins for upgrades. There are a lot of power-ups that can be purchased in leveled style, with successive levels costing more till that feature is topped out. Simple, direct and easy to understand.

I did find the jump/fly mechanism a bit touchy, and there was a time or two I felt a power-up was more trouble than it’s worth, but this is a game that, in my mind, has way more positives than negatives. I truly love the lesson that this game brings.

Let sleeping dragons lie.

Spunk and Moxie Review

Spunk and Moxie Review

Jul 23, 2013

Spunk and Moxie is a simple, simple game that makes us fall in love with goo. For now, I’ll describe this as a side-scroller; the uniqueness is probably in the roving direction.

At the center of this game is a bouncy blob that users kinetic energy to move. The thing is, referring to this as a sideways scroller is a bit of a misnomer. The controls are easy to manipulate, and mostly explain a lot of the game movements and challenges: tap to jump, longer tap to jump higher and long holds to climb till the walls run out. I liked that the controls are more or less a single finger affair, as it makes the game easier to play in my opinion.

Our friendly matter starts out from left to right; (“starts” is the operative word, but more on that later). The traveling area looks like an a warehouse, with plenty of boxy obstacles and artificially tight passageways. The blob had some cool bouncy properties that allow it to get over even tall hurdles; conversely, the jump-cum-bounce could spunk1make getting into the toughest openings particularly challenging. At times, trial and error is the best strategy; eventually, my timing got better and I was able to traverse the travel area in an easier fashion. As noted, the gaameplay does get harder the further one goes in the game.

Each level had a time limit and special, point-generating icons, as well as ones that invoke power upgrades. The whole system is not overly compex.

Good games should always have a good visual component, and I think that this game delivers. The artwork is bright and vivid, with cool animations and an effective background. I especially like the use of colors, and how they pop out on the screen during gameplay.

It’s an entertaining piece of software that takes a fun genre and soups it up even further.

Good for us.

Ultimate Stick Fight Review

Ultimate Stick Fight Review

Jul 11, 2013

So many of us cut our gaming teeth on scrolling beat em ups. You know, those games like Fighting Force that gave us the opportunity to graphically beat up hordes of violent thugs. There was usually the simplest of backstory, plenty of swinging limbs and even a weapon or two to procure.

Ultimate Stick Fight is in that same glorious vein. Jumps, kicks, punches and tons of people to practice them on.

And stick figures.

Part of what sets this game apart is the look; instead of regular-looking characters, we get souped up, colorful stick people. Interestingly enough, the developer does well with colorization, and is able to imbibe a good usf1deal of character into the thin guys. The movements and animations were fairly life-like, but kept the whimsical nature that we expect in characters of this genre. When matched with the numerous, creatively diverse backgrounds, it makes a pretty compelling 2D visual feast.

The gameplay is fast and furious. The incorporated tutorial is brief, giving our protagonist (two choices) some purpose, which in this case, is to save the city from the “Man.” And the Man, as to be expected, has plenty of thugs to spare, and sends them in swarms. The first stages are basic and easy to understand, and this is helpful as it allows time to get used to the virtual controls that guide movement, jumping, kicking, punching, and holding. Additionally, there was a rechargeable bomb feature that helps with the large swarms down the line.

The enemy combatants basically try to do to me what I am trying to do to them: inflict enough damage to wipe out the life bar. Craftier opponents with different weapons start making an appearance as the game progresses, and it becomes clear that the in-game upgrade system is a key component. Successful level completions gives payouts in virtual currency, and this make-believe cash can be used to upgrade player attributes. Such upgrades make the game much easier to play, and the procurement of these can be expedited with real cash. Levels can be replayed for cash (or two increase the star score, as in Angry Birds) but the cash payouts are not as high as the initial go.

All in all, this game is a fun diversion, even if only because of the familiar genre and the unique visuals. This makes it appreciable across age generations.

Fish Tails Review

Fish Tails Review

Apr 30, 2013

Fish Tails was a fun game that I stumbled upon while reviewing Green Throttle Bluetooth Controller.

In this side scrolling aquamarine game, I got to guide my adventuresome koi fish on gold collecting errand. The game made me think of arcade games, with its soft color schemes that made up the background. Visually, it was made up of mostly stills; the animations were not groundbreaking, but they worked. Air was air, water was water and little ambiguity existed. The extras, like fish and birds, were utilitarian in looks and movements.

The gameplay was equally simple. Coins lined the travel path at different levels. I had two touch controls; tap to fish1dive, and multi-touch to increase speed. The trick was a combination of timing the dives to get deep coins, and also getting enough latent energy to arc into the air to capture highly placed coins. When you add in the objects that could slow me down, it became quite the challenge to get a set amount of coin in the shortest time possible. For a side scrolling game, it was not boring.

I liked the different flavors of challenges. Want to race to 10 coins? 100? Fine. Differing levels of difficulty helped round out the playability of the title.

And then there is the Green Throttle Bluetooth Controller compatibility that I hinted at earlier. At the risk of sounding like it has mystical powers, I truly felt the accessory really made the game POP. I do not dare belittle the work of the developers, but I really loved this game when it was played with a conventional-felling controller. Frankly, it makes it stand apart.

For a no frills time waster that works well with Green Throttle peripherals and transforms to a two-player game on the big screen, one cannot go wrong with Fish Tails. It’s lack of frills is a tribute to the inevitable occasions when some basic, mindless fun is sorely needed.

Jones on Fire Review

Jones on Fire Review

Apr 25, 2013

Jones on Fire is a fun little runner that will probably have folks doing a double take due to the unique look of the playing characters.

It looked very, uh, Lego-ey. And somehow, that wasn’t even the best part.

Folks like me who grew up as fans of the iconic children’s building blocks, or have played console games based on their form (like Stars Wars or Batman) will understand. The simplistic block figures were endearing, and I thought they blended well with the unique background. The sharp colors added to the overall experience, with walls of fire retaining a menacing look even while contrasting with localized burns on the ground. I liked the little graphical things, like the look of the game store, decked out with green text and fireman’s pole. The entire atmosphere was almost as enjoyable as the game action itself.Jones2

Jones on Fire tells the story of the heroic Emma Jones, a firefighter who risks life and limb to save feline creatures. My job (via Jones) in this left-to-right sideways scroller was to find as many cats as possible and guide them to safety, avoiding spot fires, changing terrain, felled trees and the mammoth wall flame bearing down on me from behind. One trip, a mistimed jump or too early of a slide could cause the fire wall to engulf me and my cute cats. I was always running forward by default, and had to get myself and the cats to the firehouse.

The controls clearly were created with the same eye for simplicity that seemed to be reflected in the game as a whole. Two touches… that was it. A tap on the left made me jump; a tap on the right made me slide with momentum. This way, I could avoid fires, jump to touch-collect cats in the air, and slide under logs for cats cowering there. I could also jump up get power-ups.

There were plenty of power-ups to be had, paid for with the points I got from completing runs. The game got harder and more complex as it went to higher hazard levels.

It was one of the more engaging games I have played, and should be fun across generations.

Jumping Finn Turbo Review

Jumping Finn Turbo Review

Apr 10, 2013

Adventure Time is probably the most whimsical animated production I have ever had the pleasure of watching. It is an interesting excursion into the mind of a creative maverick. Thus, I admit to being more than just a little curious about Jumping Finn Turbo from Cartoon Network.

The game had the usual suspects in the usual roles: the consistently-victimized Princess Bubblegum, the dastardly kidnapper Ice King, And the weird siblings, Jake and bag-carrying protagonist Finn. It also had a few minor characters in other support roles.

At it’s heart, Jumping Finn Turbo is a side scrolling jumping game. To get the Princess back, I had to travel long distances, avoid pitfalls and gravity and use a slew of power-ups to stay airborne for as long as possible.

Starting out, I had to get Finn flying. There was no huge catapult or jetpack; no sir… I had to get him flying by kicking the heck out of his butt with Jake’s willing foot. To maximize force, I had to time the kick-invoking tap withjumping1 an oscillating power meter; to get the hardest kick, I needed to tap it at an instant when it was maxed out to the right. The resultant kick arced me high into the air, and this is when the fight for airborne longevity started. Early on, gravity was the enemy. Soon, I also had to be on the lookout for penguins who were trying to freeze me.

I thought the best part of the game was the power-ups/helper system. These ones ran the gamut: strength of kick, comets, birds and more. They were upgradeable with game coin and helped extend my time in the air. The butt kick replenished itself, and I had one Jake bounce. Each run ended when I hit the ground.

I thought that the controls could have been a bit more refined; without spoiling too much of the game, I thought defensive taps sometimes interfered with other controls, but then again, it did add to the challenge. Also, I just felt that, well, more could have happened with the gameplay.

Still, I thought it was a cool game with a cool tie-in that can make time disappear.