Stories by Evan Wade
For those of you too young to remember using physical media for entertainment, video stores were places where you could exchange cash for temporary rights to a VHS tapes or console video games. Last century, when I was a young man, I would often ask my parents for money so I could buy temporary rights to games for my Super Nintendo Entertainment System or Sega Genesis. Don’t bother checking Wikipedia on your fancy smartphone. I promise you Sega had an actual console back then.
I say this all from the beginning because none of it matters. If you’re one very specific type of gamer, Roaming Fortress will sink its claws in you without remorse, pity, or any regard for any of your existing plans. If not, depending on what features in a game trigger your dopamine sensors, you’ll play it for somewhere between 20 minutes and three hours, then drop it. Either way, the flaws it does show probably won’t have much of an influence on your decision. If you think about it, that’s a weird thing to say about a game.
The 45 minutes I’ve spent trying to write an effective lede for Slingshot Racing serve as a pretty good indicator of my feelings for the game: I should be writing. I know I should be writing. Nothing would please me more than to be a productive adult, putting words on a screen instead of guiding a tiny sled around a vicious, iced-over racetrack in pursuit of imaginary points.
Yet here I am, more than 21 years old, sitting at my desk in pajamas at two in the afternoon, shouting obscenities at a mobile phone. It’s a shameful state of affairs. Frankly, I’m not sure if it’s more surprising that I found a wife to begin with or that she hasn’t taken off on me yet.
But whatever. The game isn’t going to review itself. It’s too busy making me feel like a complete and utter failure. How? There’s absolutely no reason a title that employs one button — one single stinking button — as a control scheme should be this rewarding. Or fun. Or frustrating. It’s still very much all three of those things.
It’s hard to review a game like the Android port of NBA Jam without some serious mental gymnastics. There are so many factors to consider: the rosters, the gameplay, the new features, the old staples. The exact placement of Rasheed Wallace’s weird bald spot on his in-game avatar.
To the first several questions, I offer a resounding blergh. To the final consideration… Sheed, as far as I can tell, isn’t in the game.
It’s a shame, too, because if any game could get the real-life Rasheed Wallace experience down personality-wise it’d be this one. It’s as loud and brash as my favorite ex-Jailblazer, anyway.
You’ve got to wonder what kind of crazy, mixed-up world we’re living in when the name Fort Conquer isn’t the optimal choice for a game based largely on forts and conquer(ing). It’s not a bad title, mind you. It’s not even an inaccurate one. But it’s just as surely not the *best* one.
“Whoa, buddy,” you may be saying. “There’s no way to measure a name. You can’t say one’s for sure better than another any more than you can call a single Train song the greatest musical composition of all time.”
If that sounds like you right now, let me make a few points. The first is that you have historically bad taste in music. The second is that, even if the quality of a game’s title *is* generally subjective, there’s no combination of words that describes Fort Conquer better than this alternative:
I’d like to start this review by saying flat out that I wanted to like this game. We choose our own titles for review here at the GameWoof Review Labs; I make it a point to know nothing about the title I’m reviewing when I choose mine. Based on the emails and tweets I get (@wadefreelance — FOLLOW ME NOW), you’d think I know nothing about them after I review as well… but that’s beside the point.
This is why I was was thrilled to stumble across Osmos in the Play Store. The screenshots promised me awesome graphics and unique gameplay. The user reviews did much the same. Here was a title, they assured me, that broke the bonds of conventional mobile gaming, that would free me from the endless runners and physics puzzlers dominating the mainstream landscape. A game I’d be proud to tell my jaded friends I discovered. One game, as Ned Stark famously said, to rule them all.
So I clicked the link, paid my three bucks, and loaded ‘er up. A page before the title screen told me the game was “best with headphones.” If you read my Beat Hazard Ultra review (Thanks for the interview, Steve! I love Reddit), you know I’m a total mark for music titles. I was thrilled.
Maybe the biggest thing Castle TD has going against is that you can’t fit “crack” anywhere in the title. This is because the game is terribly addictive. Like World of Warcraft — excuse me, World of Warcrack — it’s the sort of title you turn on, sit down to play, and wake up a few months later with a headache and a sweet new beard.
I exaggerate, of course. I’ve only played the game a couple of days, so I couldn’t grow a (longer) beard or anything. It’s still really, really good however.
Tower defense is one of those genres I can understand people liking but don’t personally care for. Being an impulsive, easily distracted person, I don’t really have the patience or attention span to build up a huge defensive network and invariably watch it collapse because I don’t have the mental faculties to strategize. Castle TD changed that for me. The game’s beauty lies in the simplicity it displays on the surface — and the impressive depth you find once you spend a few hours murking orcs.
I’m going to present an image of Hungry Shark Evolution — a visual one, unfortunately, because I couldn’t take any screencaps — that should make anyone with any taste whatsoever download the game immediately: a shark, clad in a Santa Claus cap and a flak jacket, leaping out of the water to pick a parasailer out of the air.
Yeah. Seriously. This is something I did many multiple times in my time with Hungry Shark. Frankly, I’m fighting the urge to go do it some more as I write this.
And this is all for a game I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like from the onset. Something about the logo, namely the fact that it’s a near-direct ripoff of the Finding Nemo branding, made me wonder how good the title would be. Not because I care either way about some Pixar movie, mind you, but because games that “borrow” minor stuff like that sometimes aren’t of the best quality.
Well, I say “sometimes” specifically because of this game. I very much enjoy it, as I assume most people who try it will. Whatever creativity it lacks in the logo department it more than makes up for in the actual gameplay. It’s a good tradeoff.
The game, based on a Flash title of the same name, has a deceptively simple premise: Your nameless Fred Durst lookalike of an avatar needs to cover a set amount of ground in his Jeep. Every time you hit a milestone, the amount of ground needing crossed increases. Along the way you gather coins (which buy upgrades, cars, and levels) and gas cans (which keep your car moving). You’ll also kill and/or paralyze Fred many, many hundreds of times if you want a decent vehicle or new levels.
Most of the neck-breaking is done by way of the game’s many hills and bridges. Not on purpose, mind you. It’s just that, in the moon-physics world of Hill Climb Racing, cars float and roll as easily as they drive. Any little incline can send poor Fred barreling end-over-end — and leave you praying the car lands on its wheels. If not, Fred’s neck goes *pop*. Then you have to do it all over again. But not before the game presents you with a snapshot of Fred’s exact moment of death, which I frankly found a little disturbing. There is absolutely no way Fred survived some of my more spectacular crashes, yet he came ready for certain death every time with a single press on the screen.
The Galaxy S IV is looking pretty sharp. Outside of all its fancy eye-tracking, health-checking features, several of the hardware improvements over last year’s model will undoubtedly make it a formidable mobile gaming device. Here are some choice bits from today’s press conference:
- Bigger, Better Screen: At 5″, Samsung is pushing the limits of what some would consider a comfortable screen size — though it’s still no Galaxy Note. The extra .2 inches could be perfect extra space for your thumbs, however, especially if you do most of your gaming in landscape mode. On top of that, the 1080p display packs 440 pixels per inch, which is quite a step up from the S III’s 720p/306 PPI combo.
- Bigger Battery: Samsung didn’t say anything about the S IV’s battery life, but size-wise, it’s quite a bit bigger: 2,700 mAh vs. the S III’s 2,100 mAh. Will it equate to longer playtime between charges? We don’t know for sure yet, but here’s hoping.