Smashing Four Review — shuffleboard on steroids

Smashing Four Review — shuffleboard on steroids

Feb 15, 2018

Full disclosure: at the risk of being soundly mocked (as I probably should be), I just learned how to play Shuffleboard the other day. Loved it… so much so that I am negotiating with my better half to get one for the house. I can dream.

All that to say this… it was a good time for Smashing Four to come across my desk.

Look, to be fair, the shuffleboard comparison gives a comparative baseline, but really doesn’t completely describe the game. It is group battling and strategy in a rosy presentation.

Almost like shuffleboard.sf3

It starts with the glitzy visuals: bright use of color that highlight the main playing area, which comes into focus with an effective top-down view; the animations, on which the gameplay depends a great deal, are well done, with plenty of whimsical touches and appropriate sound accoutrements.

I know, I know… you wanna know about the gameplay proper. Well, shuffle shuffleboard out of your mind. The built-in primer helps you learn the game, which is all about gathering troops and knocking the sense out of opposing troops in a war of attrition. To further explain, you line up against a random opponent, each of you with four pieces and alternate turns. You project your pieces, one after the other, and reduce the lifebars of your opponents, before they do the same to you.

And “project” you do… by dragging and releasing your piece, Angry Birds catapult style. You can aim, and look to do maximize damage by direct hits and secondary rebound damage. You can also look to strategize, because the game also plays like billiards, you can also look to play defensively, making it harder for your opponent to hit you when it is his/her turn. Oh, you can’t tarry too long, as every turn has a time limit.

As the pieces lose life, they varnish, and the player that loses all pieces loses. Winners get game coin and orbs, which, when matured, yield new cards and more. The orbs add a time requirement of sorts, as they require maturing (which can be shorted by green gems or real cash).

The cards can reveal new players (with new attributes) or clones of cards already owned and/or deployed. Clones can then be used to upgrade existing pieces do that they can be more useful in battle.

It comes together well, and has been an enjoyable pastime for the past few days.

Better than shuffleboard?

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Dawn of Titans Review

Dawn of Titans Review

Dec 24, 2016

Dawn of Titans has been making quite a stir of late; it’s only right that we took it for a spin.

We do get some fantasy back story: long, long ago, large behemoth beings called Titans roamed the earth, and helped protect it. Then, one of the Titans decided to, well, consolidate all that power. Yep, Almarand did what folks who are stronger than everyone else do: he took on the other Titans.

Korthan, the noble king of the Titans, took it upon himself to stop Almarand, and sacrificed himself to do so. As a result of that defeat, all Titans disappeared from the world.

Until now. Looks like the Titans are back.

The action opens via tutorial; here, we begin to see the lush fictional world that makes up Dawn of Titans. Aerial kingdoms, huge castles, medieval-type soldiers and more. The game employs deliberate animations, and the in-battle audio gets intense.

The game also incorporates a very hands-on tutorial. This guides the player along and through the games’s complex gameplay via visual highlighting and pop-up screens. The main goal? Gain stuff by force, and repel efforts by others to get yours.

Simple, no?


It’s a pretty engaging saga which starts out with the player under siege from a powerful rival; at this time, you also find out from trusted advisors that Titans are not a myth; they are here, and hey, can be used to repel and beat the enemy. There is a process to select troops, train them and such. And there is battling. A lot of battling and raiding.

The battles are were strategy is of a premium. Having well trained, varied troops is great, but nothing beats a good plan. At first (with the help of the tutorial, fighting is a matter of mapping out troops and winning a war of attrition; secondarily to that, it is necessary to have the materials to train them with and move high enough XP-wise to unlock better troops and perks. Even when numerically outnumbered, it is possible to win a PvP battle via superior tactics.


There are a lot of elements, and they are all interconnected. To, say, upgrade one’s base, there are pre-requisites that must be met. In this way, one grows somewhat evenly. As one goes on, other elements get opened up, like alliances, and the need to protect ones accumulated lands. Titans can be collected, and XP and VP are important measurements.

It is a pretty interesting game, with a lot of depth, and one that is hard to explain adequately in a review. For folks looking for quick sagas, this might not be great; it demands a good deal of involvement to be successful.

I sense a how-to coming up…

Strategy Game ‘Battleplans’ Launches on Android

Strategy Game ‘Battleplans’ Launches on Android

Jul 7, 2016

Developer C4M and Publisher En Masse Entertainment have new game out now called Battleplans.

Formerly an iOS exclusive, the game is a PVP adventure that leans on strategic thinking.

Game features (per the press release):

· REAL-TIME TACTICS — Make decisions quickly to turn the tide of battle.
· COMPETITIVE PLAY — Dominate the map. Plan, attack, and defend on your schedule.
· INTUITIVE CONTROLS — Easy to learn, and fun to master. Quick-thinking beats quick fingers.
· PLAN YOUR BATTLES — Choose a mix of unique heroes and units for both attack and defense.

En Masse Entertainment Chief Sam Kim feels that Android users will appreciate the new game. “After the great reaction from mobile gamers on iOS, we’re thrilled to bring Battleplans to the Android gaming community,” he says. “We think Android gamers will agree that Battleplans is one of the most satisfying and challenging RTS games on their device, thanks to the intuitive touch controls, deep tactical gameplay, and aesthetically rich world of the game.”

The game is free (with in-app purchases) on Google Play now. Check out the trailer below:

Clash Royale Review

Clash Royale Review

Apr 8, 2016

In an increasingly saturated mobile app market, it is definitely hard to make a name for oneself; having a well-received big brother on the Play Store is definitely a benefit.

Clash Royale, from Supercell — yes, that Supercell — definitely has just that.

The graphics are fun to behold… deliberate, somewhat whimsical characterizations on a colorful background template. The main action is imbibed via a top-down view. The game incorporates animations that help the action along, and they do add visual pop that helps keep one engaged. From fireballs to marching duos, it comes together quite well, and even the side screens feel genially done. there’s detail in the little things — arrows look like arrows, for instance — and even the occasional dragon is easy spot and enjoy.clash3

The sounds are quite appropriate, and all connect with the eye candy component.

If the game feels somewhat familiar — as in, say, Clash of Clans — the similarities are well-intentioned, as both games share creative DNA. This one stands firmly on its own, and the seven-part hands on tutorial helps one understand the flow of the action.

The main idea is to win PVP battles; at the base level, there are three enemy towers, and three home towers. Intuitively, one wants to take out the opponent towers before that person returns the favor.

Like any tower defense game worth its salt, this one has troops (cards) of different abilities, and one has a limited, rechargeable amount of “elixir” which is used to deploy these different pieces. Deployment does two things; they can generally attack enemy installations, and may even be able to take on enemy troops that are attacking one’s home towers. Since each piece has its own attributes, and also because one has to wait for recharging (plus different pieces have different costs), one has to deploy with a semblance of strategy. Each side gets a king’s tower and two sentry towers, and protecting the king is paramount. The cards run the gamut, bringing fantastical fighting personnel to the fore.

It boils down to a timed war of attrition, if time passes without a clearly winner, the game starts a sudden death overtime period.

Cool stuff, really.

There are a lot of other pieces, like chests of goodies, the upgradeability of the cards, the ability to collect other cards and create battle sets, achievements and more. Gems and gold coins make things happen, and can be supplemented by real cash if one wants to expedite processes. Players can level up, and some things (like selecting clans) are based on one’s level.

The game does slow down, creading a faux energy requirement, but it is possible to go rounds and rounds if one is willing to forego some payouts.

Altogether, it’s an engaging caper, if a bit overwhelming; simply put, it has great appeal.

Stick War: Legacy Review

Stick War: Legacy Review

Feb 16, 2016

Web games from days past? Sign us up. We’re all for Stick War: Legacy.

Looks-wise, it maintains a retro feel, from the use of stick people, to the delayed animations of the characters to the color scheme. It isn’t glossy, and really isn’t trying to be, which, in a way, sets it apart.

There are three difficulty levels (“normal,” “hard” and the pause-inducing “insane”), and the game itself manages to fit in several elements; it starts out with in an in-challenge tutorial that lets the player get a feel for how things work out.

There are different types of players, and each has a cost. the player starts out with a limited amount of coins, and the game has one select a miner. This one sports a pick-axe and gathers gold, and essentially, finances the civilization (as can be seen from the increase in usable coin as it/they begin work).

As coins are accumulated, one can “make” more miners, or select another class of stickmen… like a swordsman. these blokes are important as well, as they attack, defend and otherwise advance the player’s agenda.


Now, in each level, there is an opposing group. This group has its own fighters and miners, and, like the player, have a sacred statue they are willing to die to protect. The basic idea, as demonstrated in the introductory level, is to tear down the opposing statue while protecting one’s own. This entails using the any of the virtual buttons which can make one’s fighting force to attack, drop back or defend. If one works his/her pieces right, it’s possible to garner victories, which give one gems for boosts (spells) and the ability to upgrade attributes.

One learns how to control solitary players, which is a fantastic tool; more types are unlocked with success.

There are also levels with subtle tweaks. one might, for instance, be tasked with protecting one’s statue only for a set period.

So, when it’s all said and done, one gets a bunch: tower defense, some “capture the flag, resource management and raw strategy with regards to managing numerous ebbs and flows. To be successful, one needs to be patient and know when move, and what to develop when. Every break creates opportunity costs situations, and the different locations bring light changes in the strategy needed.

It’s a fun game that doesn’t tax the brain too hard, and is well worth a free-to-play try.

New Game ‘Tribe Domination’ Launches on Google Play

New Game ‘Tribe Domination’ Launches on Google Play

Feb 11, 2016

Tribe Domination is a spanking brand new turn-based strategy game that is now available on Google Play courtesy of developer Alexandre Delbarre.

In this one, San Francisco is the land to conquer.

The finer details (per Google Play):

Are you a Hipster, Geek or a Hippie? Pick your tribe and battle your friends to control the San Francisco Bay Area. Tribe Domination is a turn-based strategy game for 2-3 players – easy to learn but difficult to master. Log in with Facebook and battle your friends; you’ll be notified when it’s your turn to play!
Each turn is composed of 3 phases:

1. Place your troops strategically.
2. Attack your opponents, conquer territories and try to own a county in order to receive more troops at your next turn.
3. Make a strategic fortification move at the end of your turn.

Conquer counties (San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin) and get extra troops! Conquer at least one territory during your turn and receive coins at your next turn. The more coins you have, the more strategic attacks you can make:

If the game feels a bit like Risk, it shouldn’t be surprising, as the developer is a fan. “I’m a huge fan of classic board games such as chess and Risk, but I also love strategy video games like StarCraft,” Mr Delbarre says. “Tribe Domination merges both, and it’s something that everyone can enjoy. More than a bare bones digital board game, Tribe Domination was intended from the start to fit the mobile lifestyle — with asynchronous multiplayer and the ability to join several games at the same time. See you on the battlefield!”

The game is free, and allows for unlimited parallel play.

This Means WAR! Gets Huge Update

This Means WAR! Gets Huge Update

Oct 28, 2015

Popular strategy and real-time battle game This Means WAR! is getting a pretty big update.

The much-requested base transfer feature is now live, plus a whole lot more (per Google Play):


â–º With This Means WAR’s new BASE TRANSFER feature, you can move your base seamlessly from one mobile device to another!
â–º Unleash the new EMP STUN MINE on enemies to stop them dead in their tracks. Immobilized enemies are easy pickings!
â–º Troop AI fixes include: Seeker Drones from an ambush can now find something new to blow up, and your Troops no longer freeze when enemy targets are directly on a wall.
â–º Fixed a client error when visiting bases that had Missile Strikes, visit away!

We had a chance to review the game recently, and liked it a lot. It remains free (with in-app purchases) on Google Play.

This Means WAR! Review

This Means WAR! Review

Sep 30, 2015

Some games demand to be played. Add This Means WAR! to the list.

Graphically, the game is beautifully garnished, with vivid imagery that is expressive and whimsical at the same time. The animations are simple and almost enjoyable to observe, with a lot of bright colors and a landscape that is interestingly bereft (is that a dinosaur skeleton?). The view is abbreviated top-down, and one can drag to scroll.

And folks will love the scrolling action, if only to take all the action in. The gameplay incorporates several elements in a quest to create a homogeneous battling experience, and as such, folks with differing gaming lies are catered to.

The hands on tutorial reveals the entirety of the play concepts in easy-to-digest chunks. As a new commander in this army, one learns how to collect supplies, mine for valuable resources and construct buildings, all of which are important with regards to winning battles. In this game, supplies, mined red crystals and elusive power cells serve as game currency, and the underlying idea is to manage one’s resources in such a way as to maximize output.


The pieces fit together in a logical fashion, and are mostly entwined. To build and upgrade barracks, one must have an appropriately leveled command center, and to have the right command center, one has to have the right amount of red stuff, and so on. As one gets more involved, one gets to craft soldiers and weapons; as with other aspects, the diversity of options available generally depend on how strong other pieces are. Crafting fits have a time component, so planning based in this is required.

Actual fighting is a big portion of the game. The player looks to craft an army for skirmishes in a leveled track, taking on some interesting enemy leaders. In these battles, crafting and utilizing the right tools for the job is key, and they usually boil down to deploying troops and arsenal in a strategic manner. It’s fun seeing the virtual border move as advantages are won and lost; ultimate success is rewarded with limited resource payouts.

There are a number of other defined elements, like factions, tasks, multiplayer options and more. Real cash can be used to expedite stuff, but isn’t completely necessary.

It comes together well, is hard to put down, and the many angles help prevent it from feeling overly complex.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Door Kickers Review

Door Kickers Review

Sep 22, 2015

As a child of the 80s, I grew up loving some of the iconic shows of the time. The cop shows were the best; CHiPs was a staple, and for me T.J. Hooker — and not Star Trek — was my first introduction to William Shatner. One show I loved was from the preceding decade, and I got to enjoy it via reruns: S.W.A.T. From the opening score to the credits to the uniforms to, well everything, the show defined cool. Yep, the cops that “regular” cops called when stuff got tough.

Boyhood fantasies aside, there’s plenty of room for special tactics sims for mobile devices, and Door Kickers, one of the more notable PC ports, has made its way to Android.

The game is a full-fledged planning and action adventures. There isn’t much back story, no; this one gets right down to it.

The game has a gritty look, it comes in in landscape, and presents a top-down view that plays into the management aspect of the game; think of looking down on a roof-less house. The developer uses virtual lighting to highlight the gameplay and give action contest, and dragging and tapping is what generally is used to effect navigation and selection of tools and such. Visually, the game is intuitive, which makes it easy to get into.


The game gets going quickly; one gets to choose to go on a single mission, a full campaign or work through replays. To begin, one gets a rookie squad, and the idea is to do well enough to pick up experience. Using single mode as our test bed, the gameplay becomes apparent. Using a “planning mode” to pause and plan, one can use gestures to set travel areas, and also to use tools like flash bangs to effect justice. The team members shoot automatically when confronted by enemies, and it should be noted that said enemies shoot back.

Finishing levels entails neutralizing criminals without losing all the team members taking part; each level is graded, and success opens up more. 

It plays well, has heaps of strategy built-in and feels pretty logical. I think it could use a dedicated tutorial, as the pre-play info seems a bit short.

For a premium game, it is much easier to like than not.

Alien Robot Monsters Review

Alien Robot Monsters Review

Sep 21, 2015

To be fair, tower defense games are a dime a dozen on Android, and for good reason really; the concept is simple, and supply will meet demand.

Still, it’s a crowded field, and newbies like Alien Robot Monsters do have to be a cut above to his their own.

The playing area is, well, alien terrain presented in a top-down view; generally, one gets a set of windy paths that culminate in an exit point.

The gameplay is leveled, and each frame essentially consists of waves of marching enemy robot hordes trying to get from point A to point B. The obvious objective for the player in this one is to build defenses to prevent the enemy robots from getting to their destination.

To do this, the player constructs towers in predetermined spots, using limited game cash that is replenished by taking out robots. The towers can be upgraded, torn down and reallocated, and even converted during the “live” action. Likewise, the enemy combatants vary in vitality and armor, such that some are much easier to destroy than others. Of course, letting too many enemy pieces past the threshold ends the level in failure; successfully withstanding the waves is ranked by stars (depending on how few robots get through) and opens up new levels to explore


The upgrade process is fairly easy to navigate, and the developer does a good job of providing info blocks to help explain related aspects. Unlike some games, the transition in towers is fairly varied, adding in cool elements like melee battles and a “technology” component. Because of the fixed building spots, a good degree of strategy and planning has to be employed to go further in the game.

As one goes further, newer pieces are unlocked, and, seemingly, tougher opponents. The challenge always rises, and this is part of the game’s charm. Real cash can be used to expedite progress, yes, and there are times it’s tempting to do so.

All in all, a fun offering that stand on its own two feet.

Fallout Shelter Review

Fallout Shelter Review

Aug 20, 2015

At last, Bethesda has released Fallout Shelter on the Android, and personally, I couldn’t be happier. Fallout series is almost as famous as Mario nowadays, so I don’t think I should describe it in-depth. Basically, it’s an RPG, set in a post nuclear apocalypse America, with a distinct cheerful 50-s style mashed together with a very dark atmosphere. Fallout Shelter is a minigame that’s set in one of the numerous iconic shelters that are scattered across America, some of them working as the only safe havens across the radioactive wasteland. The player is tasked with sustaining and expanding one of them, fighting off the horrors of the wasteland, while making his citizens happy, well-fed, and working their sorry asses off.

Fallout Shelter is a shining example of why the “economic simulators”, or, simply, Farmville clones, deserve every bit of criticism. It’s not in the genre. It’s all in Fallout Shelter 2how you treat it. From the mechanic point of view, Fallout Shelter is just an economic sim with a slight dash of action and RPG thrown in. But the game has all the right elements, and hits just the right balance, to the point where you don’t want to put it away, even if you don’t actually have to do anything. Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of Fallout, but there’s no doubt that this game is crafted with much care, and actually attempts to be engaging – with great results.

The general mechanics of Fallout Shelter aren’t that unique. The player needs to construct various rooms that provide the shelter with everything, starting from the basic needs like power, water, and food, to medkits, weapons, and a lot more. The trick is that each room needs to have at least one human operator to function, so the player needs to manage his residents, assigning them to the room that best suits their abilities. The residents themselves can be acquired either by wandering randomly from the wasteland, or by being born from one of the female residents. The residents can also explore the wasteland and scavenge for various goods, including the main currency – bottlecaps, clothes, weapons, and more. But the shelter also has to be protected on its own, as it often gets assaulted by radioactive roaches, raiders, and even more deadly things, roaming around the wasteland.

All in all, this game is almost frustratingly catchy. It catches with its style, actually challenging and intelligent gameplay, and with its nods to the other games from the Fallout universe. So, I’m sure that both fans of the mobile economic strategies, and the fans of the Fallout games, are going to find Fallout Shelter equally pleasing.

EvoCreo Review

EvoCreo Review

Aug 6, 2015

There’s no going around it, so I’ll just say it. EvoCreo is a blatant Pokemon ripoff. It’s a copy of the Pokemon Red down to the T. Or, at least it seems a lot like that to me, since I never actually followed the endless franchise that Pokemon became. EvoCreo has all the same mechanics, all the same gameplay – hell, even the geography is a lot like the Pokemon. It is, for all intents and purposes, a Pokemon game, except with all obvious references cut and replaced by weirdly-named placeholders. But here’s the most interesting part: EvoCreo is actually pretty good.

For those that don’t know anything about the Pokemon, it’s basically a very simple turn-based tactical action, where the player needs to collect various weird creatures and then battle them against the enemy creatures. Each creature type has unique stats and abilities, and the creatures can level up and evolve into their more powerful selves. There’s quite a lot of management involved, so it’s very easy to become OCD about the stuff. As I mentioned, EvoCreo is exactly the same. The player EvoCreo 2takes a role of a boy/girl who travels all over a given region, gets involved with various stories, visits various places, inhabited and wild, and of course, collects a bunch of critters that will fight for him against their own kind.

EvoCreo is actually pretty fun, and copies Pokemon so perfectly that you can’t even blame it for its plagiarization, and start to actually admire its efforts. Although the creatures aren’t as memorable as the Pokemon, they’re still pretty well designed, and have different stats and abilities – there’s even 130 of them. The battles are also the same: the player can use one of his creature’s abilities, switch it for another one, use one of his items, or attempt to flee the battle. If the battle is won, the player and his creature get some experience points that allow them to level up and learn new abilities. There’s also a store that allows the player to purchase various stuff, although for some reason, I couldn’t access it – but I’m willing to write it off as a single-time bug.

Overall, EvoCreo is an almost perfect copy. So, if you’re a fan of the Pokemon and want to play it on your Android device, or simply want to see what all the fuss is about, you can try out EvoCreo. At least it’s easier than to buy a Nintendo.