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.

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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