Monday
Jun202016

APESTORM: Full Bananas

Take to the skies to defeat the terrible humans and protect the forest with your band of rogue apes. That's right these apes are not your average primates, these are intelligent and vengeful apes who shall use their zeppelin to take down all in their path. APESTORM: Full Bananas will take not only great flying skills but a good sense of physics as you will have to aim carefully to destroy only that which needs to be destroyed. This is a challenging game, however, it does have some of its drawbacks. 

So lets start off the biggest thing in the game and that is Bananas, that's right folks, it is in the title and you're going to have to complete objectives that will give you bananas at the end of each stage. The thing is that you can potentially get through a level successfully and not gain a single banana, which to me seems odd, wouldn't you think that by surviving a level, which is challenging in some cases should warrant at least a completion banana? 

The objectives range from not bombing the forest, blowing up all the buildings, blowing up the outhouse, destroying watch towers, and so on. The interesting, or challenging thing is that as you progress through the levels the difficulty ramps up and you start to unlock more power ups, but these power ups actually are more of a hindrance more times than they help. The reason is that there's usually something in the level that will cause a penalty to incur upon hitting something that you're not supposed to hit, and that chance multiplies exponentially when you use most of the power ups. 

As it stands this game has 20 levels to sink your teeth into, and if you are looking for a challenge, and a game that you're going to have to play levels many times over to achieve specific objects, then this is a game you're going to want to get. I do love the fact that you can focus on one objective, complete the level, and then restart it again with already having credit for completing the previously completed objectives. If you had to complete everything in one run I'm pretty sure that many a mobile device would be thrown against hard objects and lose their lives in the act. 

Graphically, this game looks good, and surprisingly the controls actually feel good. My issue with mobile games of this variety usually stems from the fact that my fingers take up almost the entire screen, but for some reason, even though you have to interact a good amount with the screen to speed up, slow down, rise, fall, and shoot, I never had that big of an issue with playing the game, from that standpoint. 

Here's the deal, at the end of the day I think that this game has its entertaining aspects to it, but it also has some game mechanic issues that just don't seem to completely fit just right. There's also the fact that to this day I still can cause the game to, basically, on any level, make everything from that level disappear and not show up, which of course means that I can't actually complete any of the objectives for that level. This game ends up getting a 6.9 out of 10.

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Monday
Jun062016

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X Review

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X is a F2P mobile game from Square Enix & Disney, available on both iOS & Android.  It's a direct descendent of a Japanese version of the game - now in English!

The game starts off simply enough where you have a Keyblade that you put medals in.  During battle, you use you chosen keybload containing between 3 & 5 medals in your keyblade (depending on its level) to battle enemies of the darkness.  Combat is nice and simplistic.  You 1) Swipe for a multi-attack 2) tap for a single attack or 3) drag your medal's portrait to use their special ability.  In each of the missions - 325 currently available in the American version - you will encounter a variety of maps and enemies to fight.

While combat is simplistic enough, its the meta that can really draw someone in.  There's your typical rock > scissors > paper > rock combat - in this case, Power > Speed > Magic > Power.  I really appreciate that there are only 3 elements to keep track of and the game always has this relationship displayed.  In some games, this relationship is rarely shown and I always forget.  So, you have thse form of tactical combat.

There's your keyblades that you level up.  Do you go with a balanced keyblade that gives a little power to all the elements, or keyblades that grant great power to 1 element but not others?  Then, there's leveling up your medals and optimising them for combat.  While you have to level them up like most of these mobile games, I find the leveling system in KHUx interesting and I really do have to plan ahead.

There are 2 things I things that give me pause:

1) For F2P players such as myself, you'll be severely limited in the quality of medals you can get.  You get medals in 2 ways: 1) Story mode drops (these are free medals) and using the premium currency, jewels, to randomly draw medals  Recently, there was a special even with 2 of the best medals available via a random draw.  Being F2P, I could have randomly drawn twice with a very low chance of actually getting these medals.  And the cost of drawing 10 random medals is approximately $15.  Not a cheap gamble!  To be the BEST at the game, KHUx is absolutely P2W.  The best medals in the game will undoubtedly go to players who lay down a large chunk of money.  But, ya know what?  I don't care that much so long as another player's P2W doesn't impede on my fun, which is true in KHUx.

2) The social aspect.  When going on a mission, you can select a friend's medal to go in with you.  Friends can also summon raids for the party.  Besides chat, there's really no ither direct social interacting in the game.  It would be interesting if party members could interact with their avatars at the same time in raids or special missions.

Overall, if you like mobile games that has decent combat and a meta to draw you in, Kingdom Hearts Unchained X is definitely worth checking it out.  I've been playing it pretty much exclusively the last 2 weeks and have been enjoying it!

Wednesday
May252016

Mandie Manzano Jigsaw Puzzle Art Review

Puzzle lovers of the world rejoice, there's finally a game on mobile devices worthy of your time. In Mandie Manzano Jigsaw Puzzle Art, by Octo Mini, you will get to put back together the stained glass-like art of Mandie Mazano. You will be able to start with 12 pieces and you can build your way up to 2000. There's even a choice to allow for piece rotation or not. Now if this doesn't seem like every aspect that a puzzle lover wants in a game, I'm not sure what is missing. 

You will get to start for free with 8 different pictures to hone your skills on and then if you are ready for more, you can buy additional packs for a low cost of $0.99 each, or get the 4 pack bundle for $2.99. Each of the current packs has a theme to them there is Fair Ladies, Below the Waves, New Orleans Inspire, and Tell Me Stories. You also get the chance to see each puzzle in thumbnail view to give you an idea of what you're going to be getting.

I'm going to be honest, I was a little hesitant when it came to putting a puzzle game that could go from 12 to 2000 pieces on my iPhone, but amazingly enough it actually works pretty well. Sure, there's a good amount of zooming in and out that has to be done and there is definitely some moving around the workable area, but overall I enjoyed the ease and the challenge presented by this game. Now I will also say that it took me a good amount of playing before I was brave enough to turn the rotation feature on in the game, but with a simple double tap to make the pieces rotate I was right at home as if I was doing a puzzle on my kitchen table. 

This game is definitely not for everyone, but with the vibrant colors, the stained glass style, the soft music, and the challenge of putting these pieces together, I have to say that if you like puzzles this is something you have to, or at least try. The best part of course is that you can take this game for a test drive for Free. So go get this game, and know that we gave it a 9.2 out of 10.

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Thursday
May122016

Orbit's Odyssey Review

The peaceful planet, Planet X, a very little known planet on the other side of the galaxy was thriving until the day the Parasitic Robot Space Zombies attacked and stole the very core of their planet, a core made of the most pure form of gemstones. Thankfully a lone traveller saw the attack and theft take place and vowed at that moment that they would take on the PRSZ and take back the fragments of the gemstone core that was stolen, and return all the pieces back to Planet X. This is how the story starts in Paperkyte's Orbit's Odyssey, and you will quickly find out that you will have to keep your wits about you as you will have to adapt to different strategies to deal with different planet's effects. 

From a control point of view, this game is REALLY simple, you will touch the screen to cause your character to walk forward, when you release the character will stop walking, however that doesn't mean that the objects, portals, etc. that are rotating on the planet(s) stop. You will have to come up with ways to collect the coins in each level so that you can then retrieve the gemstone fragment. Now what makes matters a little bit more difficult is the fact that most levels contain a couple of Parasitic Robot Space Zombies, and unfortunately for you there are times where they will multiply, and if they do end up touching you it is game over. 

I will fully admit when I first took a look at this game I had concerns that it was going to be a rip off of another game that Altered Confusion has reviewed in the past, but as it turns out with only share element was the fact that the character's interactions with the planets was them standing on top of them. 

This is definitely one of those games because of the simple controls that you think, how hard could this game be if all I do is tap and hold down on my screen, and that's the trick. The developers have found a way to trick you into a sense of complacency and allow you to build a bit of confidence up and then they begin to show you that this game is going to require more than a nonchalant approach to it. This really starts heating up when the game introduces you to multiple portals on multiple planets that will make you have to build a multi-layer strategy, all the while trying to avoid those PRSZs that seem to be multiplying the longer you take. 

I think it's obvious that this game definitely stands up on its own, and with over 90 levels I think you'll find a game that isn't going to easily be taken down in a single sitting, hell I think I'm on sitting 30 and I'm still trying to battle my way through some of the more complicated levels. This game gets a 9.0 out of 10.

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Thursday
May052016

Super Arc Light Review

Don't be fooled by the simplistic look of this game, Super Arc Light is going to lure you in and keep you coming back for more. In this game you will be protecting the middle of the screen as enemies will be trying to attack that middle.The twist is that you're going to be moving in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction to try to protect the middle. The tricky thing is that the enemies will first start circling, but when they make their move they are going to come straight for you. 

The thing that really made you not want to put down the game the first time I actually played it was the unlocking of the weapons that happened from time to time. You see, this is a very challenging game and the more weapons you unlock the better you're going to feel about lasting in this game. Now, as you might have guessed this game is full of twists and the twist on weapons is this. You're going to have your standard, start the game, weapon and at different intervals you'll be given a selection of three different power-ups that you will have to shoot at. The power-up you first hit will be the one you'll get to use for a certain amount of time before returning your starting weapon to you. 

I stated that you'll be moving in different directions, and you will indeed be doing that. When you hold your finger to the screen you will slow your movement and will start shooting. When you release you will then start going in the opposite direction. So my bit of advice is to be ready to tap the screen when enemies start really taking, so that you can quickly change directions and save the middle. 

The last thing I want to point out is the techno soundtrack that just has this certain beat that will have you bobbing your head, tapping your feet, and hoping that you can play long enough to hear the song and more. All in all this game is one of those games that might not look like much, but once it has a hold on you you're going to have a serious issue letting go. This game gets a 9.2 out of 10.

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Monday
May022016

Dungenious Review

Travel through area upon area all the while taking on monster after monster. You will also get to level up thanks to strategically placed treasure chest hidden through the areas. There is one catch to this who thing, though, you see this isn't your normal RPG/Dungeon Crawler. This is a game where you have to put your knowledge of powers of memorization to the test. The only way to attack an enemy is to get the correct answer from a choice of four. If you do it fast enough you can score a critical hit, and believe me the deeper you go the more you're going to hope you get those critical hits. This is the game Dungenious, a game that takes educational elements and adds an RPG twist that is sure to not only keep people playing, but learning as well.

Graphically it is not the most attractive of games, but it does give you a good almost top down view of the single screen area. You will be working with a grid system and there will be obstacles, enemies, and treasure chests, all of which are clearly distinguishable on the screen. Speaking of the screen, most of it is very well laid out. You can clearly see how much live you have, what special skills you have, what floor you're currently on, your current score, and of course the entire one screen level.

I do like the variation of the look, movement, and health of all the different enemies that you'll be facing. However the longer you are playing the harder they hit and sometimes I really do wish they would give me a second to catch my breath. Thankfully this is a turn-based game so all the mechanics are centered around when you move.

So lets get to the heart of the matter, the educational piece of the game. The RPG piece is frosting on top, a generic grocery store brand, but it definitely makes the game more attractive. So the learning part of the game... It's all based off a flash card system. There are certain enemies that will give you new information, and then you will have to incorporate/remember what was given to you because at any time you could be asked to match the inventor of electricity to Ben Franklin, or something along those lines. The very interesting thing about this game is the number of flashcard packs you can pull down. You can pull down inventors, history, math, art, foriegn languages, and if you're feeling really up to the challenge you can create your own through a secondary website that you can then upload. I'm not 100% sure if your personal ones are tied specifically to your account or if they are available to others, but if they are available to others that might be a pretty good tool for in the classroom.

My one issue with flashcards is that I, personally, hammer all the information into my brain for that short amount of time and then it's gone. I do not retain any of it. Now if you want to take that approach this game is going to be for you, you're going to have to think lightning quick to cause maximum damage and to survive level after level, but if you are looking for something to really stick, this game probably isn't going to do that because at the lowest level, late in the game, you're going to have to just go off of keywords in the flashcard to match it to an answer.

I did mention power ups and I do want to go over them quickly. I do like the variety of power ups, there are fireballs, walls of fire, ice, slow time, remove answers, hell, skip a turn, and more. There are chances to level up these skills, and they all use action points, sometimes 1 and sometimes more, it all depends on what your HUD says for that skill.

From the RPG perspective this game really feels like someone's first real attempt at an RPG, but from an Educational RPG/Dungeon Crawler hybrid I have to say that I kept coming back for more always hoping that this time I wouldn't put myself in a corner where enemies could get to me faster than I could take them out. This game gets a 7.9 out of 10.

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Sunday
Apr172016

Overwatch: Beta thoughts and videos


 

I played Overwatch, Blizzard's new FPS game, in a Closed Beta this weekend.  My initial thoughts are basically that this feels like Team Fortress 2, with some tweaks and more classes.  A lot of the gameplay - be it maps or character classes - were very reminiscent of TF2.  However, a few things that differentiate Overwatch from TF2:

 

  • Matches are currently limited to 6 v 6.  This is in stark contract where you could play up to 32 v 32.  That doesn't make the battles any less fun.  Blizzard did a good of creating maps that were fast paced and small enough to create congestion and choke-points.  You didn't feel like you're on an island with these matches.  However, that also leads me to wonder if there will be lack of variation in Overwatch's maps.  One of the beautiful things about TF2 is that with the 32 player/team upper limit, large and interesting maps were playable.  Even in random corridors, you were never alone.  With 6 v 6 though, a large map could easily make combat a little too sparse and lonesome.  I would also like to be able to choose the map type to play from Quick Join matches.
  • TF2 has 9 classes versus Overwatch's 20+ characters.  While Overwatch has the 4 "classes" of offense, defense, support, and tank, each class is more than capable of dishing out its own brand of punishment.  I did enjoy the variation of Overwatch's classes.  You have snipers, heavy classes, melee classes, your classic healer, rocket launcher classes, etc.
  • Healing was frustrating due to your team's health bars visual effect.  You see your team with white health bars that just go light grey when they loose health.  It was inifnitely easier to see the oponent's health than your own teammates.  You'll see an icon when a teammate's health is low, but overall, it was frustrating to tell just how much health my team had.  I also greatly miss the ability to overheal in TF2, which is absent in Overwatch.  Eliminates some of the healer's fun in FPS's.  It is interesting have potentially 4 different healing characters.
  • There is a level up system.  I'm still not sure what its point is...

 

Overall, I enjoyed the Overwatch beta.  If you're a fan of TF2, I see no reason why you wouldn't enjoy Overwatch.  I can also appreciate Blizzard's choice to go with a $40 purchase point instead of microtransactions like Heroes of the Storm requiring players to unlock characters.  I think an FPS like this is much better off to have all characters available to all classes.