Tuesday
Apr122016

Yo-Kai Watch: Wibble Wobble

With the power of your Yo-Kai Watch you can see the mischievous spirits called Yo-Kai. All of these spirits have different powers and affect humans in different ways. You will be sent on a mission to try to collect them all and defeat all the wild Yo-Kai that might stand in your way. This is a free to play puzzle RPG game in which you will be working with a party of Yo-Kai to try to conquer one spot after another. You will have to be careful however because you only get a limited amount of energy to work with at a time.

I'm going to be honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when it came to this game. I knew that there is a TV show tie-in, and that it sounded like Pokemon. Well here's the deal, after playing a good chunk of the game and then watching the show, I'm not seeing any connection past the main character and the Yo-Kai. In the show the Yo-Kai are used to solve a problem, or correct an issue. In the game the Yo-Kai are used to kill or perhaps just incapacitate opponents. I don't get the fighting vibe from the show. 

As I stated previously this is a puzzle based game. The Yo-Kai you have in your active party will end up affecting the bubbles or orbs that you see in the playing field. You are going to want to draw, with your finger, a line to connect all of the same types to create bigger orbs and then tap them to make them break causing damage to your opponents as well as filling up that specific Yo-Kai's special meter. 

Here's the problem you have to time it just right to draw those lines, if you put your finger too quickly on the screen you don't get to draw a line and you end up just popping that one small orb. There are other times where you draw a line and then lift your finger up to discover that the game has just ignore your input and you will have to do it again. Now I know that there will be those out there who don't like the fact that these orbs are in a circle playing area so they do roll and bob around, that to me wasn't that big of an issue.

Graphically this game looks amazing, it is right on par with the show. The Yo-Kai all have a very distinctive look. I like the animations that are associated with the different specials that are performed. The game map looks good, it has differing terrain, locations, and they are all reflected in the background of the battles.

I think that this game has missed the mark, not by much, but there's just something that is off about it. First there's the fact that you have 5 energy to work with, each battle will cost you one, win or lose. I think that's one of the things that bothers me. Here is a game in which you are going to want to grind, especially when you get new Yo-Kai so you can advance the game, but there's no way that you're going to be able to grind properly if you are costing yourself valuable energy to continue the actual progression of the game. I would have loved to have seen energy be deducted after a failed level, the reason is that I have failed MANY levels either by not being fast enough with the matches, or I just tried to go up against enemies too strong for me to take on.

In the end I feel like this is just a dirty way to expand the franchise, there's no real story, the soul of the show is completely missed by the game, and I think that if you are a die-hard fan you might like the fact that there are other ways to see Yo-Kais, but I think ultimately you're going to want to gain Yo-Kai and interact with them like they do with the show. Even though this game is Free to Play I think you should probably pass this one up, unless you really just HAVE to play it. This game gets a 5.9 out of 10.

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Thursday
Apr072016

Karaski: What Goes Up...

Take to the skies in this whodunit mystery. You will take on the role of a passenger on this one of a kind airship, but something has gone wrong. The airship has been sabotage, but who has done it. Was it you? Will you be able to uncover who did it? Will you be caught snooping around and have everyone expect you of doing this heinous act?

In Karaski: What Goes Up... this is exactly what you'll be doing. You will be playing through the game with your main mission being to get to the bottom of the mystery of the sabotage, but there are other quests that you can take on to perhaps pry information from other passengers. In this game you will have the chance to bribe guards to look the other way, entice passengers with the promise of alcohol, and of course gain tools that will allow you access to different areas of the ship.

I'm going to be honest when I first picked up this game I didn't really get into it. I was really just running around the airship aimlessly while getting frustrated, but when I tried again from scratch and really tried to sink my teeth in I found a game where I didn't know what was going to happen next. There is definitely the need for stealth in this game, and early on I got caught ALOT. Thankfully as I played more and more of the game I was able to develop strategies of how to move around the different sections nearly undetected.

This game was a lot of fun, and there were plenty of clues that you had to be on the look out for to help solidify your case against the evildoer. There were quite a few repeat clues scattered on the ship as well, but something tells me that these locations are just the places where random items are placed so that you can experience a unique playthrough each time you play. That's right folks the person who did it in one playthrough might not actually be the the person who did it, if you were to play it again. 

Graphically there was definitely a good art style going on, however sometimes it did come off as cookie cutter in certain areas where the same assets were used over and over again. Not surprisingly it was mostly the NPC guards that were all the same, the boxes/trunks around the ship, the different bedrooms, etc. Sure there is going to be duplication of areas and items in real life, but I just feel like there should have been a little more for a personal effect in the different people's rooms. 

One of the things I always hope to see is voice acting in the game, unfortunately this game does not have that component, and there are sections that have pretty lengthy conversation pieces that after a while you just want skip through and hope that they weren't too important. However that's usually when there's something key in finding out who did it.

This game might not be for everyone, there's definitely some rough spots to the game, and as I just stated there is A LOT of text to read at certain parts of the game, but I did enjoy playing the game, and I think many people out there would enjoy it as well. This game gets an 8.0 out of 10.

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Sunday
Apr032016

Futurama Game of Drones Review

Many might immediately recognize the name Futurama, an animated show that was gone way before its time. Well it turns out that there's still enough love and name recognition that a mobile game has been created to take players into the time and space of the TV series. You'll get to play as some of your favorite characters, each with their own special skill. Now before I go any further I would like to point out that this is a match four on a hex grid puzzle game.

You will take on stage upon stage, completing enough to advance the story of your newest delivery helpers, the drones. You will get to interact with some of your favorite villains from the series, through storyboard cutscenes. Most of these scenes are going to make the Futurama fan smile as the humor is still there.

This game is pretty solid all the way through, there's plenty of levels to sink your teeth into, there's a good amount of story to give you a little humor and direction of where you'll be going to next. There are several different locations that you will recognize from the show. It also looks solid, from a graphical standpoint, well that's when we're talking about the actual puzzle game portion and the cutscenes. Oddly enough the roughest looking piece of the game is when you are watching to ship move from one puzzle stage to the next, it just doesn't look smooth, the graphics seem jagged and if you advance enough through the story in a small amount of time, it does get to you after a while.

Now lets get into some of the logistics of the game, this is a free-to-play game, but there are definitely microtransactions in this game. You will be pulling from a limited energy pool, each time you fail a stage one energy gets taken away. So you may want to spend some money to keep playing for an elongated time. There's also pre-game power ups, and in-game power ups, each of which will help you take on the stage either giving you starting special pieces, giving your character a fully charged special, or some sort of power up that will clear away a section. These of course can also be purchased through a micro-transaction system. I will say this, you do get some free samples of these power ups, but I have yet to see any areas where after defeating a stage I regained those power ups. There is some special in game currency that you can collect that will give you access to micro-transaction moves, but of course the quickest way to get that money is to spend real cash.

For any Futurama fan, who likes puzzles, this is a game that you're going to want to play. Now I REALLY REALLY wish that we could have had the cutscenes voiced by the cast, but at least we do have some short taglines after losing a level, activating a power up, or having one hell of a combo happen in game. I'm OCD so that in-between stage thing gets to me, but I think for the most part everyone is going to find this is a solid puzzle game. This game gets a 9.0 out of 10.

 

BONUS: For those out there who have watched anything that Matt Groening has created you know that the openings always slightly vary, and in this game be prepared for quite a few extra phrases to be visible when you fire up the game.

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Thursday
Mar172016

SPRINTER Review

 

SPRINTER, developed by Light Step Games, is the type of game that lulls you in with its minimalist design, and then takes a hold of you with it's challenging levels, music, and emotional story depicted in only pictures. As you play through the game you will be asked to complete more tasks, and take on more obstacles, but the one thing that you'll always be doing is sprinting. This game is all about reaction time, rhythm, and speed. Can you get through all the levels so that you can see the whole story?

Graphically I have to say that even though this game doesn't have anything that pops, there is something to be said about its very simple appearance. There's nothing to really distract the player from where they are in the level and what they have to do. Basically the only thing that has color in the levels is the background and then the areas that you have to complete/trigger something to happen. As I mentioned about the story is told through pictures, and to be a little bit more descriptive it happens in sets of 3 Polaroid pictures. The middle picture is the current event, while the outside two try to give context to the story. Throughout most of the game these pictures help add a depth to the story, and make you wonder about the three individuals that this story is based around.

The controls for a game like this have to be tight, there can't be any lag, or any input issues that would take away from the game. Since there is a time limit to each level, and you have to time the pressing of buttons to complete tasks, almost to perfection, if the controls aren't working, the game would fall apart. The good thing is that for the most part these controls are spot on, my only real issue is when it comes to the sections where you have to jump over sections. For some reason that mechanic was the worst of them all, now that's not to say that it didn't work, but I felt that this was the one thing YOU HAD to get perfect otherwise it wouldn't work. Most of the other actions had a little bit of wiggle room to keep you going.

I have heard that it is possible to get through the entire game in 17 minutes, but that's if you are the master of all that is this game. I personally have spent over 2 hours and still have not found the end. Have I failed on levels? You better believe it. Have I almost quit in frustration because I couldn't seem to complete a level? Absolutely, but I keep coming back. The reason I do so is that this game makes you feel like you are so close to being able to string everything together to advance, and so you rinse and repeat.

Now I will admit that this game isn't for everyone, this is a very challenging game, that you're not going to be getting much relaxation out of, but in the challenge you will definitely feel accomplishment as you pass stages that at one time you thought were going to be impossible to defeat. This game definitely deserves a spot in gamer's libraries, and with that I have to say that this game gets a 9.2 out of 10.

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Monday
Mar142016

Horror in the Asylum Review

You find yourself locked away in an asylum, and you're going to be the only one who is going to get you out of there. So you will have to explore the asylum, find what hides in the dark, and solve puzzles that present themselves as the asylum doesn't want to let you go easily.

In Horror in the Asylum you will have plenty of puzzles to solve, but there is always just one solution. This of course will come in handy when you die and start the entire game again from scratch. There are no save points in this game, there is no randomizing of the level, and to be honest there's not a whole lot of excitement when you're doing a specific section for the 15th time.

My biggest issue with the game is that there's a good chunk of it that is trial and error, and the error sends you back to the very beginning of the game. Sure this game will keep you wondering what will happen next, but an even bigger thought is, "am I going to have to do all of this over AGAIN???"

Now that's not to say that there aren't some interesting things in the game, but there are more frustrating and boring things that will cause you to want to drop the game after a while. You of course need a flashlight to move around in the dark halls, and I really like the blue light that reveals that which is hidden. I do find it odd, however that when you hide in cover that your light automatically turns on, even if you have it off, or blue. You can then toggle the light all you want without an indication of what position the light will be in once you get out of cover. Speaking of getting into cover, you will have to bend to fit in a spot, or crawl under a bed, however there is no crouch mechanic for items that are basically at knee level so you have to get just the correct camera angle in this first person view to collect items.

I could also mention that this game crashes every time I've exited the game, and look I just did, but that's the least of my worries when it comes to this game. There's something about it that seems like it was rushed. It feels like there's a story here, but there's no polish. The text choice for the notes that you collect while walking through the asylum have a terrible font choice which makes it difficult to read. There's also the lock picking mechanic that doesn't feel right. 

I really want to say that this game is worth playing through, but I can't, I really can't, and it really has to do with the forced rinse and repeat actions that are constantly occurring. After so many restarts it's just not worth trying to go through the exact same steps again. This game gets a 4.7 out of 10.

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Wednesday
Mar092016

Blue Rider Gameplay & Review

Play the video below for gameplay with thoughts about the game.  Or read on if words are your thing!

Blue Rider is a solid new shoot 'em up game from Ravegan.  It's a throwback to classics like Raptor: Call Of the Shadow, 1942, and Raiden (plus all the sequels).

The controls are solid, which is necessary since the game gets rather hard quickly.  Players can use either the keyboard & mouse or gamepad.  I played both, and they each feel equally solid.  One control element that takes getting used to in momentum.  Your ship will continue to glide after your release the throttle which can make dodging bullets interesting.  As far as weapons go, you have primary and secondary (bomb) weapons.  Primary consists of the tradition red "spread" bullets and the tighter blue laser bullets.  Missles either shoot forward or are homing.  You'll be able to upgrade or change your weapons from destroying caches throughout the level.

Each world introduces new and progressively more difficult - both with more firepower and more health - enemies and bigger and badder bosses.  I appreciate that each boss fight feels unique and well thought out.  It's not just a bunch of random bullets fired at you (though there certainly will be a lot of bullets!), but rather little challenges within each boss fight to overcome.

A "boss rush" mode would be cool and a welcome addition to the features.  Speaking of features, there's not really any options other than screen resolution and mouse sensitivity.  You choose your starting level and that is it.  No audio options.  Nothing about upgrades outside the game.  There is no meta here - the game consists solely of the worlds.  That's not a bad thing; just counter to the trend where most games have some kind of meta with upgrades & leveling outside the stages.  In a way, the simplicity is refreshing.

I highly recommend Blue Rider to anyone who's a fan of the classic arcade hits or the popular Raptor: Call of the Shadows.  It is a solid shoot 'em game!

Monday
Feb292016

PATCHWORK Review

At first glance this game may appear to be just for ladies of a quilting circle, but if you don't at least give this game a chance you are missing out big time. This game not only requires a keen eye for trying to create a pattern with no holes in it, but strategy upon strategy. 

You see the game is all about trying to play the long game, sure you can try to put all the pieces together to make a nice close stitched patterned, but be careful your opponent can pull a fast one on you. The name of the game is the final score. It really doesn't matter all that much what you do in the game as long as you can get the best score.

So here's how it breaks down, you take the leftover available buttons and the add/subtract that from the number of holes times 2. If you did get a complete 7x7 section you get to add 7 points to your score, but to be honest I haven't seen too many matches where that is going to be the deciding factor. Now of course you get this score with the original scoring rules, there's also another choice of rules, but to get the most out of it I would keep it on the original mode.

The game is a turn based game where a random selection of patterns in different shapes will be available to you for a button price. If you have the correct number of buttons you can add that patch to your 9 x 9 quilt area. This is where some of the strategy comes into place. You see attached to each of these different pattern shapes is a number of moves you'll be making on the scoring track. You don't want to get too far ahead of your opponent but you do want to make sure you make it to the single square patches before they do so that you can plug up those small holes you might have made. If you move past a button on the track you get the number of buttons that have been sewn into your quilt as they are attached to different pattern shapes. 

The complexity and level of strategy needed to really master this game is astounding and to be honest with you you're definitely never going to have the same game twice, so a strategy that worked one time might not work the next, especially since the pattern shapes are randomized before each game. There's also the fact that you can see what patterns will be revealed later in the game. If you choose a pattern that isn't the first in the group the ones skipped over are discarded.

The game features several different modes to play with. You have the versus AI (easy/medium/hard), you have the hotseat option that allows two people to play on a device, there's also multiplayer mode (ranked/unranked). You can also do a little microtransaction action on the side, although it is just for different sets of patterns to use while in game.

I'm not going to lie when I first heard about this game I wasn't impressed, but after researching it a little bit and actually playing the game, I can't get enough of the challenging gameplay and the constant need to be flexible with the kind of strategy I bring to the table. As I said before, if you don't even give this game a chance, you are going to miss out on something great. This game gets a 9.0 out of 10.

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