Tuesday
Dec092014

Reagan Gorbachev Review

Reagan Gorbachev, developed by Team2Bit, puts you into an alternate universe, one in which the US President, Ronald Reagan, and the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, have to team up to battle a radical militaristic group who have stupidly kidnapped both of these leaders. In this Co-op game for the OUYA, you will get the chance to either play as one of these historical figures, or as both. This game does require that both characters be active in a level, and if one dies the level is over, but at the same time there is the option to toggle between the two so a single player can enjoy the game as well.

Graphically you are looking at something that screens old school, you are going to notice that this game tries to simulate the actual time in history that this game is taking place in, so the graphics are going to act accordingly. This is a top down game, and most of the game is really well laid out, and from the bird's eye view you get while playing you are going to find that the layout of the each level is easy to navigate, and you won't be surprised by anything that could cause you frustration. What I mean by that is that the answer to getting through a specific part of the game is not obscured by the way the game is laid out. 

The music goes hand in hand with the graphical style, so don't expect voice acting, or crazy new beats, but what you do get is something that fits right into the rest of the game, so enjoy it as you progress through the game.

The controls of the game really depend on what style you are playing, if you are playing single player you're going to have to use the toggle button so that you can move both around the level, though have no fear there is no screen lock, so you don't have to worry about that. You'll also need to know the attack button, the pick up button, and of course, for Reagan the lock picking, and Gorbachev the computer hacking (quite bizarre, right?).

So as stated previously you are in an alternative universe/history where these two fabled leaders actually have to fight together, one with a samurai sword (Reagan), and the other with deadly darts (Gorbachev) to not only free themselves from their imprisonment, but to also foil the plans of this radical organization that is trying to throw the world into chaos. Now I know that this might be slightly spoiler-ish, but I think it is safe to say that there's going to be potential nuclear consequences to be had if these two can't work together and save the day. 

I do like the fact that there is a little bit of a mini-game after completing a level, which tests your knowledge/luck when it comes to knowing information about these two leaders. I'm not sure what, or if you get anything out of it in the long run, but it was fun to find out a bit of trivia about those two, and most of the time guess correctly on the question (I mean it is a 50/50 shot).

So I guess to kind of wrap this review up, if you like a little bit of cheesiness, own an OUYA, are willing to deal with alternative histories (cough cough, Jesse). You might want to check this game out. I will say that there sis a bit of a learning curve when it comes to figuring out the best strategy for the level you find yourself in, but this is definitely an enjoyable game, and as long as you can keep both leaders alive you are in for a good experience. So lets give this game a score, shall we, and that score will be an 8.7 out of 10.

 

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Monday
Dec082014

Hour of Code Week Begins!!!

Today is the official start of the #hourofcode, aka Hour of Code, week; a yearly event where kids code for an hour to introduce them to the wonderful world of computer science.  Long gone are the days of a student's first coding experience being rather intimidating in the form of basic or the ti-8x calculator.  Now, there are a number of fantastic coding tools for people of all ages and skill levels.  At this link, a number of learning tools are presented, ranging from purely graphically interfaces that aim to teach basic logic progression to tools that require students to type, while still holding their hand.  I've tried out 3 such tools over the years:

 

  1. Scratch.  One of the original tools to help youngsters learn to code.  Coding consists of moving code blocks (move, change, loops, etc) to move pixies in interactive 2d dimensions.  Sounds simplictic, but there's some awesome projects out there!  Definitely a good place to start students learning on the logic of coding and logical statements.  And, it's all programmable from your web browser!
  2. Alice.  Bills itself as an introduction to 3d programming and really gets into Object Oriented Programming.  Reminds me of Scratch which the clickable functions and logical statements, but with an added complexity of the 3d environment.  Unlike Scratch, Alice does require a download.  There's 2 versions.  From my understanding, 2.4 (which I have experience with) is more "basic" (though not basic basic) than version 3 (which I have no experience with). From what I understand, version 2.x is the place to start with younger students.  Alice users can create full 3d clips&movies along with interactive 3d environments.  Very cool project that realy dives into the complexity of logic and having multiple functions and variables able to work together.
  3. CodeCombat.  The gamified version of learning to program!  While the above 2 options have tutorials and guides, they're also very open-ended.  CodeCombat, on the other hand (and this goes true of a number of links listed at code.org/learn), is all about guiding you in the ultimate quest for coding dominance!!  You have multiple classes (RPG class, not programming class!) to choose from to traverse the dungeson as you must use logical statements (eg, move.Left()) to guide your chosen class around and fight the evil monsters in order to collect crystals and make it to the end of the level.  A fun dive into the logic of coding.  One cool thing about CodeCombat: A lot of the guided tools deal with the logic of moving around on a grid, but the actual move blocks aren't in programming format - such as just a "Left" block will move your character to the left.  In CodeCombat, the statment will look something like move.Left("self") to move your self left, or attack.UberSword("Gershinin") to attack object Gershinin with your UberSword.  You also type the code into CodeCombat, albeit in a guided way to make it introductory and emphasize the logic of programming instead of the minutia of syntax.  [s]Not that I had any fun playing this game.  No sir, NOT AT ALL!!!!  [/s]

Want to learn "real" coding an all that syntax stuff?  A free place to start where I taught myself Python is Learn to Code The Hard Way.  I use this version for Python, which links directly to the (free) HTML version.  There's also Videos if you pay for the guides - I went in already having programming experience, so was able to follow along, but I might suggest the video version if you're new to programming.

 

Tuesday
Dec022014

Smash Hit Review

 

Smash Hit is a game by Mediocre with a pretty easy concept: You travel along a straight path and shoot (and hopefully destroy) glass in your path by touching the screen which will shoot out marbles.  There may be glass crystals, doors, bars etc, and you must take into account the trajectory of your marbles and your speed to successfully hit the glass.  The challenge in the game is you have a finite number of marbles which get used up as you shoot them.  Along the path, there are targets to hit which give you additional marbles.  While the game starts off easily enough, the real challenge begins when the glass is in your path.  If you fail to shoot glass that you'd otherwise run into, you loose a significant number of marbles.  Once you get to 0, you shortly get a gameoverscreen.  Later levels require multiple shots to take out glass and the screen even starts spinning.  Trippy!

While Smash Hit is a free game, there is a paid version which gives you some sweet perks, such as being able to load the game from a checkpoint.  This is especially advantageious if you get through a few checkpoints with perfect play so you have maximum number of marbles - you'll want to load from that checkpoint so you don't have to start from the beginning every time.  While I didn't mind starting from the beginning with the challange of playing perfect every time and the beautiful scenery, I reckon some people would greatly benefit from the ability to load from checkpoints.

At the price of free and utilizing touch screen technology in a fun way, Smash Hit is a quality Android game.  Smash Hit is also available on iOS devices.  Given that you need some precision with shooting your marbles to successfully hit the glass, I'm not sure I'd want to play on a screen much larger than 7" though.

Monday
Dec012014

Forest of Doom Review

Forest of Doom, developed by Tin Man Games, puts you into the roll of an adventurer who has adventure thrusted upon you. You are just camping, minding your own business, when someone comes to you, gravely injured, and puts you on a quest to put together a hammer that will save a town. The only problem is that you don't know where it is, and you are going to have to journey through an area called the Forest of Doom to try to recover it. This is an interactive choose your own adventure game, where you will have to be careful, but bold if you are going to be able to get through this game. You will have skill, stamina, and luck to help get you through the game, but know this, if they run out, you are doomed to die within these very woods.

Graphically you are not going to see too much in this game, it truly is a choose your own adventure, so the vast majority of the game is centered around text. There will be some times when you get to see a still show of the enemy you will be facing, but the majority of this adventure is ruled by text and the rolling of dice. I have to say that the animations for the die rolling is very realistic, but the collision on the dice from time to time was a bit too much as they violently shook off of each other because they were touching ever so slightly. 

The music definitely gives you that midieval adventure feel to it, and the only sound that you're really going to hear, other than the sounds of the forest from time to time, is when damage is being taken.

The controls in this game, as you can imagine consist of clicking on your decision, lets hope that its the right one, too many wrong decisions and the end of the game will creep up on you fast.

So this is actually one of those times where its really hard to talk about the game, without really giving too much away, but I'm going to try. This is definitely not an easy game, and you kind of need to keep track of what directions you are taking so that you don't accidentally move too fast through the forest. Let's just say you want to explore all you can, and hopefully survive, so that the ending that you seek is actually obtainable. You are going to rely HEAVILY on your skill to hit, your stamina are your life points, and luck should ONLY be used to get you out of deadly experiences. You may have the option to use it in combat, but if you are not down to your last stamina points don't waste them. Now this game does feature a go back a page feature, so if you make a wrong decision, you can sometimes erase it in the blink of an eye. 

This is a challenging game, and really should be attempted by those who aren't afraid of going through the game a couple of times, trying different things, to figure out what you need to do, and where you need to go. If you are able to do that, and you want a twist of pencil and paper RPG thrown in there, then you are going to enjoy this game. I will fully admit I've definitely had some high levels of frustration, but its only because sometimes I try too many different things during a playthrough and end up in a worse spot than I was last time. 

When everything is all said and done, this is definitely the type of adventure one would take in a pencil and paper setting, and the writing is pretty solid. If you are up for lots of reading, you are going to find a game that you can get into. So with that being said I'm going to have to give this game an 8.1 out of 10.

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Monday
Dec012014

Dungeon of the Endless Review

Dungeon of the Endless, developed by Amplitude Studios, puts you in the shoes of a group of individuals who are on a spaceship that has decided to crash. It will take teamwork, timing, and a little bit of luck to get through this game. You will have to explore level upon, randomly generated, level, and you will have to find the exit out of each level if you are going to advance.

Graphically I have to say that after playing another one of the studio's titles, I was not all that impressed with but it kind of grew on me. It kind of ended up giving off that 80's B movie feel. Sure the graphics weren't the best, but the action was good, with the waves of enemies coming at you throughout your exploration, and even though it felt dated, it worked. Sure the characters, and items felt a bit 16-bit-ish, but I really liked the look and feel of the levels. 

The music in the game also gives you that old-school feel. I feel like they found space age music from my SNES and put it in this game. Now that's not to say that there's anything wrong with it, but it definitely feels like it would be right at home on an older console.

The controls in the game are basically your mouse and a little bit of your keyboard. You are going to need to open doors, trade, add defenses or boosts, and of course you are going to want to make sure your party stays together. All of that can be accomplished with a couple keys on the keyboard, and all of the mouse.

Alright so lets get right into it, this is an interesting way of doing one of those mystery tower type games. You are going to have to go up floor after floor until you reach the top. Now of course there's always going to be obstacles, and there's always going to be enemies of increasing difficulty getting in your way as you try to go up the tower. You will be collecting resources to upgrade your characters, power up rooms, and place deployables that will help you in a couple of ways. 

There's definitely a balancing act in this game, and you are definitely going to have to pay close attention to your resources, which are food, science, industry, and dust. Food is used to heal your units as well as level them up. Science is used to upgrade your deployables, which will allow you to collect resources faster, give your characters bonuses, protect the room, or cripple the enemies. Industry is the resource that is used to actually place the deployables. Dust is the magical element that will allow you to power up rooms so that you can utilize the different deployable spots in the room, if there's no power the deployables don't work. Now of course to make things REALLY interesting, depending on how traders are feeling they might require all kinds of resource types to sell their items. So you just need to make sure that you balance all the resources correctly so that you don't find yourself in a hole you can't dig yourself out of.

As you defeat the tower you're going to be able to open up new opportunities to take on, and it will also allow you to start with a larger party. Speaking of parties, always be on the look out for new characters appearing in the game, if you have less than four currently in use you can ask them to join your team for food. Now of course you can boot a character out if you want to, but its probably better to try to unlock the specials revolving around that character (a new picture for the album, a new piece to the story, and of course if you are lucky the ability to choose that character as one of the starting characters next playthrough).

You are going to have to learn a lot about this game through trial and error, and unfortunately you are going to have to basically start from scratch every new game. Research does not transfer between games, neither does levels, and items. So be careful, pray that you get a good roll on the randomness of your tower, and then pace yourself for the long game. This is definitely a game that requires a lot of rinsing and repeating, sure you could experience new stuff all the time, but at the end of the day, what your only mission is, is to find the spot for the crystal to go so that you can advance to the next level. Just be careful, once you pick up that crystal the enemies come out of the woodworks.

So with that being said I think we need to get down to a score for this game, and even though at first I was turned off by the graphics, after doing the rinsing and repeating, and a ton of trial and error to really get into what the game was all about, I found that I couldn't stop coming back to it and trying one more time to see if I could reach the top of the tower. So with that my score for this game is an 8.4 out of 10.

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Friday
Nov282014

Earn to Die

 

As usual, I'm very late to play a certain video game - in this case, Earn to Die by Not Doplar on my iPhone 6.  It is also available on Google devices or in your regular web browser.

The premise of Earn to Die is very easy: You have a vehicle which you drive from city to city.  Where you run over zombies.  Many, many zombies.  As you beat each of the 8 courses, the terrain, obstacles, and zombies get progressively more difficult to navigate.  Luckily, you can also upgrade your vehicle with better weapons, engines, transmissions, etc.  And, you can also upgrade the vehicle itself by purchasing a new one, such as a school bus or semi.

The controls are very easy.  You press Accelerate to go, Boost to boost at times, and you can also rock your vehicle up or down by pressing on the screen.  The challenging factor of the game is you have a limited amount of gas in which to complete each level with.  As you upgrade your vehicle, you should be able to finish it in less time so you use less gas, or just purchase upgrades or vehicles with a bigger gas tank.

In typical iOS games, it is an easy game to grasp, which does get a little harder as you play, but never too difficult.  For $0.99 and not a hint of microtransactions, this game was well worth the cost of a soda.  Definitely one of those games you can play between TV commercials or while watching the game.  It's not the longest game in the world, but it's an iOS game, so I don't expect hours upon hours of gameplay.  Just enough to get my fill and enjoy it while I'm playing.

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Friday
Nov212014

Coin Crypt Review

Coin Crypt, developed by Dumb & Fat Games, puts you in the role of one of many characters who will try to take on an island filled with treasures, but you are anything but alone. This game is a rogue-like collectable card game, where the cards are actually coins. Your deck will be your coin pouch, and what you draw is sure to be random upon the beginning of any battle. You will have to face off against enemies who will have their own coin pouches, and if you can defeat them you can take what coins they have no used. You see in order to advance you have to use your coins to win, but be careful, not only having your health go down to zero or below, but if you run out of coins, death will come.

Graphically you are going to be dealing with a cartoony environment with block-like characters and layout. As you progress through the game you will notice that the further you get on the island there will be changes to the randomized areas that you will have to get through. Now lets talk about the coins, since this is basically what is going to make or break the experience for you. Overall they are very straight forward, you will quickly learn what all the coins do, be it for attacking, shielding, healing, stealing, or making your opponent discard a coin. There will be new coins that get introduced, and there are definitely some coins that even after seeing them a couple of times I still have to take a minute to remember what they do, but the vast majority of them are easily recognizable.

The music of the game kind of gives you that light-hearted island adventure feel. The combat music definitely amps you up a bit and makes you aware that you can just sit back and relax.

You can either play this game with a gamepad or with the keyboard. I HIGHLY recommend the gamepad, after only one session of playing with the gamepad it felt natural. You are going to be using the the four buttons (X,Y,A,B or whatever they are for you) combined with the right trigger (this is basically your confirm button).

So here's the deal, you are a treasure seeker, and there are many others who want the hidden treasures on this ever changing island. You will have to battle each opponent as they come and you will have to be the victor. There is definitely a level of strategy to this game, you are going to pay more and more attention to what coins are actually in your bag as you progress through the game. The thing is that in the beginning what you really are looking for is as many coins as you can get your hands on, but as you go through the game you are going to have to be more selective, or the coins that you need to survive are going to get buried by all the other ones and you will end up losing the game. One of the ways to enhance your coin selection, and prune some of the ones that you don't want to use is by donating them to the god statues (this will allow you the chance of getting special coins the next time you find a stash), you can also use them to help buy items that can toughen your defense, allow you to heal better, or you can even buy a specific bag filled with coins (healing, attacking, etc).

Now losing the game isn't all that bad, in one sense, simply because that means that you can use the value of coins you collected to help purchase new characters with special abilities that might fit your playing style better. There's characters that will help you heal, there are characters that will allow you to take actions faster, and so much more.  My personal favorites are the Coinquistador, the Assassin, and the Thief, but the thing is that there are so many more to choose from. One of the nice features built into the game, revolving around the characters, is that you can see your best stats with a particular character, just in case you were not sure which one you had the best run with.

Alright so lets get down to it, shall we, this is definitely a rinse and repeat game, which is why adding the randomized maps was absolutely the right move for the developer. There's also daily challenges that you can partake in, but personally I'd rather just play the game. There's definitely going to be that unknown quality as you never know what kind of enemy you will come up against, and what coins you will have at your disposal as you play through the game. So I guess what I mean to say is that if you are looking for a collectable card-esque game, where the action is never the same, and you can personalize it with the type of character you use as you go through the game, then this has to be a game that you have in your collection. I'm personally not the biggest CCG person, but there was definitely something about this game that made me relish the victories that I pulled off against some of the tougher opponents, and I was always ready for one more round. So that being said this game deserves a 9.2 out of 10.

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