Normally when a game appears based on a beloved license, it isn’t unreasonable to have low expectations, but at the same time look for something neat about the game that captures something genuine about the source material in interactive form. Examples that come to mind are the fear mechanics in Batman Begins, the campy theatrics of the 007 games, and the unbridled coolness of Cool Spot (Okay, that last one might be a bit of a stretch). Usually, there’s evidence that at least someone on the dev team has a familiarity with and passion for the comic/movie/show they’re turning into a cheaply made and rushed video game. All that said, Speed Racer: The Beginning has zero merit and feels, if anything, like an attempt to sabotage the reputation of the classic anime franchise. Continue Reading
Mobile gaming is all around us. Everyone seems to have a smart phone these days. What is the best use for a smart phone you ask? Well besides telling everyone what you had for lunch (#idontcare) you can play games on them. Most of these games are focused clearly on the casual audience. That makes sense though because it is a mobile game for you to play on your cell phone to play while waiting in line or on the bus or something. One such game is Galaxy Express.
Having recently acquired an Android based phone I’ve discovered a world of gaming literally at my fingertips. I’ve been missing out on all these great mobile games while still living in the stone age of phones without large touch screens and high speed internet connections.
So as you might have guessed as a new Droid user I’ve been diggin up games to try out left and right and one such game to have crossed my path was PLANK’D by Australian developer N3V Games.
To be honest I had no idea what planking was so I turned to the infinite source of wisdom, Google.
Planking, by definition, is people laying face down, straight out, with their arms down at their sides. The idea is to resemble a plank of wood by laying in this prone position, get a picture of yourself “planking”, and then post it online for all your friends to see where you “planked”. I know what you’re thinking, “But Modus… that sounds retarded.” Shut up!
Planking is an internet craze right now and people are constantly trying to one-up each other by getting pictures of themselves planking in more and more outrageous places. In one reported case a man was planking on his balcony and fell to his death. Hilarious!
So of coure someone had to come along and make a game about planking. So the good folks at N3V Games have brought us PLANK’D.
In PLANK’D you take on the role of a planker and plank your way around town trying to string together planks with flips, jumps, and balances to achieve the highest score possible before “planking out!”. Planking out occurs when you hit the pavement and your score resets to zero.
The formula here is very simple and although the idea of planking may not sound riveting the gameplay here is quite addictive. It’s the perfect sort of game to pick up and play for 5 minutes while you’re waiting for something to download or riding the bus to work.
The only downside to PLANK’D is the limited options right now. You can play in Timed Mode where you have 2 minutes to achieve the highest score or Free Mode where you basically just plank around until you’ve had your fill. According to N3V Games there are more updates planned for the game including an entirely new level which should really help mix it up.
The mobile gaming scene is one coming into its own. With games like Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, and Pocket Legends the bar is being set higher and higher for what people are willing to pay for to play on their phones. That being said N3V Games is on the right track with games like PLANK’D and with a bit more variety in their titles I think there is a good chance we’re going to see some dynamo games from these guys.
After several weeks, I flipped through the pages and pages of games on my iPhone and decided, hey, what the hell. Why not see what Drop7 was all about. And after five minutes with it, I closed the game out, unimpressed and ready to move on to other titles in my recently expanded inventory of iOS games.
But unlike many of those other iOS games, it would later be revealed that Drop7 had planted a seed. One that would slowly grow and expand and demand more and more of my attention. And soon, I was all too happy to give it.
I revisited Drop7 days later, finding myself slightly more engaged this time around. I didn’t quite get it, but thoughts of the game had lingered in the back of my mind. I played until the inevitable end of a round, then closed it out again, slightly more taken with it than I had been before.
This pattern repeated itself, and each time, that seed that Drop7 had planted grew and grew and grew until it became my distraction of choice.Drop7
The blocks, and the strategy that they require, is what turned a seemingly bland and unimpressive game into a compelling addiction. Each block you will drop into the grid will either feature a number (1 through 7), or it will be gray and numberless. The numbers on the blocks indicate how many other blocks must be next to it – horizontally or vertically – in order for that block to dissolve. And if you dissolve a block next to those gray ones twice, it will crack away the block’s shell to reveal another hidden, numbered block under it.
The goal of the game is shoot for a high score, and this is obtained by dissolving the blocks, and rewarded thoroughly if you can chain those clearings into sequential dissolutions. For instance, you may have a 5 block at the bottom of the grid, and three 7 blocks on top of it. If you drop one more on that column, the 5 block at the bottom will dissolve, dropping the 7 blocks down a row. And if those 7s are accompanied by six other blocks total to its sides, they too will dissolve and score repeated chains worth more and more points.
It’s this aspect that makes Drop7 appear simple and inconspicuous at first, only to reveal itself to be devilishly clever and hard to put down. After your first few rounds, trying to score small little victories by removing the easiest and most obvious block-sets, the requisite strategies start to reveal themselves. You begin to think longer term, devising ways to chain the blocks into higher and higher scorings and how best to accommodate the row of locked gray blocks that will pop up from the bottom after a set number of moves. What first seems trite and boringly simple soon becomes engaging and involved, setting your mind into motion, leaving you plotting and devising move after move.
Choice of the Vampire is a text-based ChoiceScript game for browser and iToy by Jason Stevan Hill. Interactive fiction games put all the focus on the story, without the distractions of graphics and mechanics, and CotV uses this advantage to create a world covering several decades in several cities. This is an incredibly ambitious game, beginning with a long list of possible characters to play, personal characteristics and goals, and potential sires.
CotV asks players a lot of questions about their goals for their, uh, un-life. Do you want to create lasting art, find true love, rise to the top of the vampire society or accumulate power? This helped me feel like my character had actual motivation, but I was frustrated by the lack of progress towards my stated goal. Choice of the Vampire is the first of several planned installments, so hopefully I’ll get another chance at rocking the undead art world.
Certain choices were greyed out, which was a lovely reminder at first of the widely varied world of possible vampire story arcs. Later, though, it frustrated me to see a choice that would match my player goals or character concept perfectly, only to see it was unavailable to me.
In one playthrough, when asked what type of prey I prefer, I picked animals only, for the tortured Edward Cullen or Angel vampire. In the next scene, my questioner asked if I was lying, and the only available option was Yes. Apparently I’m no good at tortured, sensitive vampire? I couldn’t choose a new prey, so instead of defining myself as veggie vamp, I defined myself as a liar. And a pretty bad one at that. No wonder Edward and Angel get all the girls.
At times, the game was moving me from A to B, and really all I could do was decide to follow along heartily or reluctantly. I suppose all linear games do this to some extent, but the whole game shouldn’t unfold like a cutscene. The narration also told me how I felt about things, which added to the feeling that I was just reading a book and clicking Next. It was a bit like a tabletop game with an inexperienced DM or a romance novel.
Because there are so many possible storylines, my chosen path sometimes felt uneven. A detailed description might follow a bare-bones introduction, or I might try to interact with a character who was really more setting than possible friend. The narration clearly sets out that vampires can’t and shouldn’t interfere with the course of human history, which made me view descriptions of battles with casual undead detachment, a perfect in-character way to read the excellent settings.
At times, there’s also a bit of bleedthrough from paths not chosen. Although I’d already chosen to spend my free time studying vampire lore, when my Confederate soldier boyfriend wrote me a letter, it turned out that I couldn’t actually read. In another playthough, I avoided the Chloe storyline completely but Guidry still shot me a dirty look, blaming me for Chloe’s death, even though I’d never spoken to either of them in that playthrough. (Avoiding Chloe is not easy.)
These are World of Darkness-style vamps, filling their immortality with backstabbing, power struggles and gossip. There are plenty of ways to play this: heartless, well-meaning, manipulative, kind, but if playing a social vamp isn’t for you, then Choice of the Vampire isn’t for you.
I also felt like there were trick questions. As a young nerdy girl, one frustration I had with Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books was the dead-end choice. You hear a sound in the woods, do you investigate? You do? Oh no! It was bandits! They kill you and take your stuff! Or, you don’t? Too bad, it was a wizened old man handing out magical baubles. (The other frustration was that the books were a hundred and something pages long BUT your story was barely a third of that! False advertising, man!)
Blah blah blah, time for my usual complaint about midgame saves and ChoiceScript, blah blah. Just to clarify, you can stop playing and then pick up again where you left off, but you can’t return to a savepoint and play from there again. So, if you’re interested in two different paths, you’ll need to start over and remake exactly the same vampire in order to try the second.
But, the fact that I felt like my character was rushed through interesting interactions or railroaded down underwhelming story paths does say something about how connected I was to my characters. There are so many backstory options, it’s hard not to engage with your vampire. There’s a lot of room to play and replay, choosing new histories or personalities in a well-researched world.
At the end of the game, you’re given a short summary of your success and adventures, and a long keystring, saving all your character information for the second installment of Choice of the Vampire. The summary hinted at other potential paths. After completing the game the first time, I was told I hadn’t fed from any famous people… a goal I hadn’t previously considered. Guess what I set out to do next?
You can check out Choice of the Vampire and other examples of Multiple Choice Games at the Choice of Games blog.
Feathers fly as Angry Birds makes its way to your iPhone. Have you wondered who the arch nemeses of birds are? Well? Wrong! It’s pigs. I know I thought statues too. Why else would they constantly poop on them? However, it seems some incredibly dim witted green pigs have stolen our eggs and decided their best protection from our wrath are forts made from glass, rock, steel, and wood.
As a flock of Angry Birds, your arsenal will include an array of colored birds with attacks such as a basic assault, multiply and conquer, fast flight, suicidal bombing, egg bomb, and boomerang birdie. You will need to use every trick in your arsenal to attack and kill the Pigs, while they hide and squeal with delight at your failures. Deploy your birds from a slingshot and do not miss, because one wrong angle or ill choice will send you back to the drawing board on every puzzle challenge. It can get frustrating but the victories are sweet. Die Pigs!
From world 1 level 1 onward you will solve miniature puzzles which bring back fond memories of old puzzle games like Lemmings but with the violent twist of games like Tanks and Bowman. New puzzles and an increasing arsenal of bird weapons will keep you entertained as you make your way through every level. Pre-determined bird selections make this a challenge for the mind, as you will need to find the best way to utilize your arsenal for complete pig destruction.
The game has a solid physics system, which is to say that the gravity seems accurate and the building collapses look good, but prepare for massive repetition as you continually maneuver your flight trajectory in the same patterns over and over and OVER again in order to obtain the perfect angle.
If you don’t mind a bit of repetitious squawking and pig grunting, then you will likely fall in love with this puzzle game. For a quick two minute game or a full 4 hour rampage, this game will keep you entertained. I have not yet completed the game, but after 6 hours of desperately clawing my way through Poached Egg (the original 3 worlds of now 11 worlds, which were later updated to the game, with a current total of 120 levels overall) I am still fighting with those pigs for ground. I won’t stop until I’m frying bacon for breakfast in my Angry Birds Nest, no scrambled eggs please.
In addition to the natural addictive nature of the game, high scores can be improved and compared online, using Crystal social network, providing extra incentive to replay and improve on every level.
A quirky game, Angry Birds will keep you coming back to blow up more green pigs. It’s addictive and expansive, the best possible combination. It’s a solid game for between classes, during a work break, or just lounging at home. You will feel your mind melt as you will need all of your skill to assault the pigs. If only we had the number to call the wolf, he could huff and puff and blow this crap down for us already. Then we could get our eggs back and return to beating up mosquitoes (check out the video below).
[review title=”” pros=”Complex and fun puzzles, great physics system, plenty of levels, and the designers update the game with more levels…for FREE!” cons=”Repetitive, repetitive, repetitive. Sound bits get tiresome and gameplay slightly stale.” verdict=”This is a good deal, hours of gameplay for $0.99, If you like puzzles and things that go boom, or just simply hate pigs, then this is a must have for you.” score=85]
For weeks now, I’ve been playing the free trial version of Flood-It! – developed by LabPixies – on the iPhone. It’s a simple puzzle game where the goal is to try to fill up the entire multi-colored board with one single color. This is accomplished by simply choosing a certain color, which then spreads out into all connected squares of the same shade, and the goal is to have the whole board filled this way within 22 moves.
The nature of the game is deceptively simple and surprisingly addictive. When first approaching Flood-It!, it is all too easy to feel like solving the randomly generated puzzle before you will be a slam-dunk, and that you’ll easily burn through this game and forget about it in no time. But that has proven to be anything but the case as time has gone on.
Say you’re stranded somewhere – at the airport waiting for your flight, at school on a long break between classes, holding up a 7-11 that the cops have surrounded while you negotiate the release of your hostages. Whatever.
And say that you’re bored, and your mind is screaming for some type of stimulation; a distraction to help pass the time. And lastly, though you’d love to sit down in front of a nice HDTV or computer monitor and play some videogames, all you have with you is your iPhone (or iPod Touch) and one measly dollar in your bank account. What are you to do?
Well, luckily for you, you’re one of the almost criminally sexy readers of TheJRE.com, and we’ve got your back on this one. We’re here to help.
The iPhone has definitely been a burdgeoning platform for games. Some good, a lot bad, and quite a few in between as well.
Today, we’re going to tackle Stick Wars, in all its brevity. A quirky little title that will run you all of $1 for the full version.
The central concept of the game is simple. You have a castle. There are barbarians – represented by various incarnations of stick figures – running up to attack it. But if you think this is another tower defense game, you’d be mistaken. This one definitely takes a different path to its defensive gameplay.