Stories by Ian DeMartino
There is no doubt that Mario remains the biggest face in gaming. Nintendo may no longer be the 800 pound gorilla it once was but the round plumber and his red cap is still the most iconic image in the industry. Not without good reason, the franchise sports some of not only the most influential game play but also some of the best and most balanced 2D platforming ever made. Mario is gaming’s version of The Beatles, and like The Beatles, his hits still hold up well and his influence is readily visible, even in games made today.
Enter in HEAVY sword. HEAVY sword takes no shame in its inspiration and proudly displays backgrounds and enemies that are clearly clones of ones from Mario games, players can even jump down pipes and headbutt blocks for coins. Where it breaks away from the iconic franchise is what makes HEAVY sword special. Rather than jumping on enemies and depending on magic stars and hippie fire flowers, the protagonist of HEAVY sword, named Pike, takes a more logical approach: he uses a big freaking sword, at least when he can. Unsurprisingly, the result feels a bit like Mario and a bit like playing as Zero in one of the Mega Man X games, and it is fantastic. It is only a few annoying bugs and the underwhelming length of the adventure that prevents HEAVY sword from being a must own game for side scrolling fans.
Great Big War Game is the third in what many consider the gold standard in turn based strategy games for mobile devices. The first two, Great Little War Game and its expansion Great Little War Game: All Out War still represent some of the best traditional war gaming on Android more than a year after their release. While the second game, All Out War was more of an expansion pack than a true sequel, Great Big War Game has been billed as the true next step for the beloved franchise. Unfortunately, as great as the game is, it still holds to much to its past and utilizes too many assets from the previous games to feel like a true sequel. Great Big War Game ends up feeling like yet another expansion, albeit one that includes one of the most sorely missed features from the last two games, online Multiplayer. Fortunately, this is enough to make the purchase a wise one for most strategy fans.
First, for the uninformed. Great Big War Game (and its predecessors) are turn based strategy war games, meaning players are tasked with raising funds, buying and deploying units, with the goal of conquering the map by destroying the headquarters of the other players. At their disposal players have eight infantry units (plus one more available in the DLC) ten vehicles, four planes/helicopters and six different ships. Spread throughout the map are oil fields that can be captured and are the primary source of income in the game, each player’s headquarters and a few barracks, factories, seaports and airports for building units.
Back in the heyday of gaming (and by that I really mean my heyday) there were two seemingly universal rules to gaming. One was that if you couldn’t beat anyone else in a game, you could still beat your dad. The second was that licensed games always suck; but like Moore’s law, there has been increasing evidence that both of these rules no longer hold water. Gamers are getting older and for the past decade or so there have been an increasingly large number of quality games based off of beloved franchises. Batman games in particular have been a bright spot for gaming and it hasn’t hurt that this Renaissance has coincided with a string of Batman movies directed by Christopher Nolan. The Dark Knight Rises for Android, however, is a good first attempt but doesn’t quite live up to the level of its inspiration.
Built ostensibly as an open-world adventure, The Dark Knight Rises is frustratingly linear. There simply isn’t enough for the Caped Crusader to do besides progress the main story by dutifully obeying the commands of Commissioner Gordon and Lucius Fox in pursuit of Bane, the dastardly villain of both the game and movie. This issue is further magnified by a battle system that sacrifices depth for accessibility and a story line that does little to make the player want to keep playing. That isn’t to say that there aren’t positives to The Dark Knight, there is a solid base to an entertaining game here, it just needed to ramp everything up one more level.
OUYA Controller Update:The Developer of the Code that Fixed OUYA’s Controller Talks, and so does OUYA
On Tuesday we told you about problems that developers have continued to have with the OUYA controller since the first backer units started shipping in March. In that article we told you that Eric Froemling, who goes by the name efroemling on the OUYA developers board and created BombSquad for OUYA, has developed a few simple lines of code that developers can put into their games and fix the issue. Today Eric was kind enough to take some time to clarify for us what exactly the problem is, where he thinks the problem resides and how his code fixes it.
According to Froemling (and many other developers on the OUYA forums) the problem is that not all of the stick is accessible. In some areas the console will only pick up stick movement 60-70% of the way to the edge, while in other directions there is no detection at all. This can negatively affect aiming and movement, making certain games unplayable.
Developers are expressing additional concerns over the OUYA’s controller directional stick the past few days, less than a week after OUYA announced that it was delaying its long awaited home brew Android-based console due to higher than expected demand. This new controller issue has come to light just days after concerns with the controller’s buttons and stick durability were brought up by the developers and addressed by OUYA CEO and Founder Julie Urhman in a recent Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything).
This new directional stick issue, which is separate from the glue leakage issue OUYA has already addressed, is apparently a detection issue, resulting in extreme hot spots and dead zones for the directional stick. These images are taken from the OUYA developers forum, where users with both developer kits and early adopter versions of the OUYA console are posting results of tests they are running on various versions of the OUYA console and controller.
War drives innovation. For all the hardship, blood, and horrors of war, the silver lining for humanity has been the innovation and the progress it has, for better or worse, provided technologically. So what happens when you take thousands of gamers across four platforms, give them tools to innovate and then set them loose on each other in turn based naval warfare? Leviathan: Warships is what happens.
Strategy games are a dime a dozen on the Android platform. Everything from real time strategy games to reverse tower defense games to RPGs have been done seemingly hundreds of times on the mobile platform. That is why it is a pleasure to find a strategy game on Android that is as refreshingly unique, deep and balanced as Leviathan: Warships is.
It has been a while since I have been as obsessed with a game as I became with Leviathan: Warships over the past few weeks. While it does include a short single player campaign, the real fun in Leviathan comes from jumping online and battling friends or strangers. The amount of shit talking that has been going on between me and my friends these past few days has hit a level I haven’t seen since the long nights of Starcraft and Battle.net.
Creating a completely Interactive and then jumping online with it and either winning or losing would cause me either great shame or pride that few games can match. Its not just that I won or lost, its my creation, the thing I spent hours perfecting, beating or getting beat by something someone else spent hours perfecting themselves. When someone out flanked me and destroyed my flagship before I even got a chance to implement my strategy, I felt as dumb as Alonso Perez Guzman in 1588 (look it up kids!). When things went according to plan, on the other hand, I felt like Chester Nimitz after the battle of Midway. custom fleet using the very robust tools provided by developer Paradox
Racing games need multiplayer. Ever since the original Mario Kart on the SNES, multiplayer has been an absolute requirement for any game that includes a start line, finish line and some sort of motorized vehicle. That is why it is such a shame to see a game that has so much going for it, like Riptide GP, throw it all away by completely ignoring the most crucial game mode for its genre.
First, what Riptide GP does have going for it, which is a lot. It is the best 3D jet ski game currently available on the Google Play Marketplace. Partially because it is the only 3D jet ski game on Google Play, but also because everything about the game, from the graphics to the water effects to the level design to the sense of speed is extremely solid. All of the elements needed for a great racing game are here.
Furthermore, by the nature of racing on water, this is the first racing game I have played where I found the tilt controls to be tolerable, and the game was still a lot of fun without physical controls. Less precision is needed when controlling a jet ski going over wakes than a car drifting through streets and it felt a lot more natural making a character lean on a jet ski by tilting the device than it does trying to simulate driving a car.
This is the HardCore HookUp, where we find the games hardcore gamers like you want to play. This week we have a Naval Combat Turn-Based Strategy game that packs in more ship than its price tag would let on, a Wave Race Clone that has tons of potential and tilt controls that actually work, but comes up short because it lacks something very important in racing games, a new take on the WWII setting that is part Gears of War, part Temple Run but all hardcore and an Old School JRPG that is all about tradition, right down to the cheesy English translation and cliched characters and storyline.
There are just some games that will not work on a touchscreen. There is either too much going on, or the precision needed is just too much for touch buttons to work well enough to be enjoyable. Castle Crashers, it could be argued, is one of those games. Hardcore Beat-em-ups require some split second movements and the idea of your character sitting still and taking hits because your thumb fell off of the virtual stick it can’t even feel, isn’t appealing.
Rather than try to pigeon hole a similar experience onto touchscreen controls, Battleheart takes everything that we loved about Castle Crashers (minus the co-op) and gives it a brand new feel and a few extra levels of depth by giving it a control scheme that is designed from the ground up for touchscreens. In doing so developer Mika Mobile has made a game that is completely unique and a ton of fun. It is a bit like if you mixed Castle Crashers with an RTS and threw in a few extra RPG elements to round it all out. The result is addicting and captivating.
Tom Eastman, Eric Huang and Ben Perez are doing what millions of Americans dream of everyday: They are working for themselves and following their passion. After the three friends met at Disney’s Wideload games they decided to go into the game business themselves. Trinket Studios, bases in Chicago, and the games Color Sheep and Orion’s Forge were the result.
Tom, the president of Trinket Studios, carved out some time to answer some questions for GW about Color Sheep, Orion’s Forge, In-app Purchases (or the lack thereof) the future of the indie scene and what their next plans are.