Doug Dug Review

Doug Dug Review

Jul 11, 2014

I have to say that I’ve almost skipped on Doug Dug, just because it looks like a rip-off of Terraria, or Spelunky, or some other attempt at Minecraft design school – and I’m glad that I didn’t, because Doug Dug is neither of those things. It’s an original, captivating platformer that lacks just a few pieces to become absolutely awesome.

The player controls Doug, a dwarf who does two things all dwarves do all the time: digging for gold and sporting a kick-ass beard. Doug Dug is focused on the first task. The level Doug dug 3is a single screen wide, but infinitely deep, containing lots of treasures and challenges beneath. The player needs to navigate around it by digging. Dragging the finger across the screen will make Doug dig right, left, or down. He is unable to jump, unfortunately, so any loot that you miss on the way down, stays there most of the time. That said, it can come crashing down if it lacks any support, or is only held in place by a collapsable dirt block. So, the player needs to be aware of his surroundings and not get caught in the avalanche. Basically, the avalanche system holds about 50% of the game’s worth, as it grants a tricky random element to each run. The avalanches also crush whatever enemies get trapped under them, and it’s great, because the enemies are a pain. They can only be killed by falling on them from above, and Doug can’t jump. So, if he is on their level, or lower, it’s quite difficult to stay alive. The game has no shortage of things that can kill a digging dwarf, and if left unchecked, will definitely do so, leaving but a ghost of the spelunker on the next playthrough.

Basically, my only problem with Doug Dug is that there’s not enough of it. Besides the growing difficulty of the level, when the player goes deeper, there’s very little diversity in the content. The collected gold can’t be spent on anything, and its only worth is for the high-score. Regardless, Doug Dug is still a fun and unusual game with cool mechanics and a vast replayability. Definitely worth getting if you like mining, but not crafting.

Mines of Mars Review

Mines of Mars Review

Mar 18, 2014

At this point, it’s pretty cheap to call anything a “Minecraft clone” because the mining and the crafting is becoming a staple mechanic everywhere. But still, Mines of Mars have a strong aura of a Minecraft clone, or at least. Or, rather, of a space version of Terraria, which is itself a take on Minecraft. In reality, it’s actually a clone of an old flash game, called Motherload, so if you played that, you know what to expect from Mines of Mars.

Mines of Mars is catching for all the same reasons other mining games do. Wonder of exploration with an added desire to craft better gear, while eradicating natural ecosystem. There is a small station on the surface that refuels, resupplies and crafts gear for the hero, all for free, meaning all the materials he gets from the ground go towards crafting and improving the gear, or unlocking new areas. There’s no ground-level world – just a small station and mines that are connected with portals. They are insanely deep, but tough luck if you wanted to see a game with an open world. Tough luck if you wanted to build something in this world as well, as there are no building mechanics. As I said, all unearthed materials like metals and gems, go towards improving the hero’s gear.

I could say that it’s just an overpriced Motherload HD, but there are some features that make Mines of Mars worth cashing out 5 bucks for. For instance, as the player unearths new mine levels, they start being invaded with various lifeforms, some dangerous, Mines of Mars 4others just pretty-looking, all playing a role in the player’s well-being – or lack thereof, mostly. The graphics and sounds are also great, and I found myself mesmerized by the monotonous clunking of my pickaxe, as I climbed deeper and deeper into the red underground. Surprisingly, the story is very interesting as well. It’s not a driving force, but I found the hero’s smalltalk with the only other sentient being in the game very endearing. Oh, there are also three mini-games that have almost no connection to the main game, and to be fair, I didn’t really find them exciting.

Mines of Mars is basically a PC game, fit into a mobile screen. It costs like a PC game, it’s as complex as a PC game, and it’s as slow as some PC games. Forget about sitting down for a quick play – Mines of Mars requires all of your attention, and can eat up a whole evening. I can’t say anything about the total length of the game, but it goes for a lot more than a couple of evenings. In general, while it has its flaws, especially in the control department, and 5 bucks being a relatively high price for a mobile game, I liked it. If digging into an unfriendly planet is your flavor, then Mines of Mars is the game for you. Dig yourself, Lazarus!

Terraria Review

Terraria Review

Sep 26, 2013

Outdoor survival, nicely-rendered 2D graphs with whimsical monsters and… wait for it… zombies?

People: Terraria is here!

The gameplay takes familiar survival staples and rolls them into a fairly complex system involving manipulation, combination and strategy. The tutorial underlines the basic stuff quite well; the first grand explains how to use the left-set control to move on either direction, as well as how to jump, scale downward… and instinctive movements, like directing jumps in either aerial direction are logical. The tutorial goes on to walk through collection of materials, protection, creations and dangers.

Survival boils down to, well, staying alive. There are bouncy monsters of differing colors that can do damage, and the game shows how to use the standard sword to beat them. Collecting materials invokes using a pickaxe to dig into the ground and getting metal ores of different kinds. Wood is a valuable resource, and to procure this, you can use the axe to chop down trees.

One of the the most urgent tasks is to create a shelter to protect from the undead prowlers that roam as soon as the sun goes down. Using the wood within set parameters, it is possible to build a structure with walls and a ceiling. But a house and walls do not a house make; a door needs to be crafted, and for this, the anvil needs to be activated. terr1

Thus the game goes. There are plenty of situations that demand problem-solving skins and combining tools, like making torches for nighttime use and making iron tools to access other things.

I suspect that what makes this game such a hit with some folks — the logical complexity — could probably be a barrier for others. There are some things that don’t appear intuitive in the gameplay, so I was constant researching gameplay. The pixelated graphics I adored somewhat obscured the identity of some items, so it took a bit more time to figure out what was what. The tutorial is probably the most valuable asset, and the lack of multiplayer is distressing.

Still, it is an exciting game that clearly shows why Terraria continues to be a hit across several platforms.

Terraria: Android Rundown Video of the Day

Terraria: Android Rundown Video of the Day

Sep 17, 2013

The smash hit PC game Terraria has made its way to mobile, first on iOS, but now on Android. The 2D crafting and exploration game with RPG and questing elements has been given some slight tweaks to fit on to mobile, but this is a game that fans should enjoy for its faithfulness, providing a high-quality 2D exploration experience on the go.

The Android version of the game is free to download but only gives the tutorial mission away for free. This is two-fold: one, it serves as a test for if the game will run on the device it’s being tested on. Two, the tutorial is actually really helpful for game-specific information that might not be immediately apparent by just jumping into a randomly-generated world.

This video shows off the first ten-plus minutes of the full game, which is unlocked for $4.99. The unlock can carry across multiple devices, just make sure to install on another device after purchasing, or delete and reinstall, as the fine folks at 505 Games’ tech support informed me after recording this video. Watch, and decide if the first few bits are worth investing into further.