Stories by Paul Huxley
King’s Bounty: Legions comes with a lot of history, and almost lives up to it. The original game was released back in dawn of time circa 1990, and laid down a lot of the ground rules for what would evolve in to the long running Heroes of Might and Magic, a series which has eclipsed it’s predecessor. A Russian publisher, 1C brought back the franchise eighteen years later, with the excellent PC game King’s Bounty: Legend and it’s direct sequel, Armored Princess.
I played both of those compulsively for weeks, so when I saw that there was King’s Bounty game available on android I jumped at the chance to to return once more to the world of Endoria and see if it was possible to recapture some of that turn based strategy magic.
As a follow up to the Game Woof review of the excellent 10000000 , Luca Redwood (
@LucaRedwood) agreed to a short interview to explain some of the hurdles faced by an indie game designer when you’re the only one responsible for the game.
I’m not really a sports fan, and football (sorry, soccer, pardon my Britishness) comes at the bottom of a very short list of my favourites. But there was something about this game that intrigued me. Perfect Kick focuses on the penalty shootout, a part of the game that causes endless controversy and upset in real life, but when distilled in to a simple little videogame works very well.
Of course you get a bonus for artistic impression, as you smear the entrails of an innocent pedestrian across the highway. Of course you do, why wouldn’t you? That’s what racing is about isn’t it?
As a kid growing up in the UK, we never had access to the uncensored original 1997 version of Carmageddon. Instead of fragile screaming pedestrians to run over in your spike encrusted vehicle of death, we had gloopy green blooded zombies. The game had garnered a bit of controversy before release and would only be given a certificate if all the blood was removed. The fact that back then games didn’t even need a certificate to go on sale didn’t seem to matter, developers Stainless Games had asked for one and were denied it. Blood or no blood, it was still enormously satisfying to plow through a bewildered crowd, locking the car in to a tight handbrake turn and broadsiding them for a multi-combo. The question is whether it still holds up today? Now that the novelty has worn off and games have progressed so far since the late nineties, does Carmageddon have what it takes to make an impact on your precious gaming time? (Spoiler Alert: it does.)
Every now and then a game comes along that strikes you as being so simple that it couldn’t possibly work. Putting squares of color in order of shade–for example going from red to violet, through pink and purple– just doesn’t seem like a good basis on which to build a puzzle game. In fact it seem insultingly childish. But somehow Blendoku pulls it off.
No doubt inspired by those charts you get at hardware stores in the paint aisle, which have every possible color graduation and are intended to help you pick out just the right shade for your bedroom walls, but instead get you helplessly confused and overwhelmed by the sheer variety on display, Blendoku lulls you in to a false sense of security during its early levels leading you to think that this can’t possibly as fiendishly taxing as it turns out to be. All you have to do is complete a sequence of colors by dragging the correct one from the jumbled selection at the top of the screen to the placeholders at the bottom. The subtle differences in hue across each colored piece will be familiar to anyone that uses any kind of photo editing software, as the player is essentially tasked to recreate the paint function’s color selection sub menu. It’s an odd task, but soon you’ll accept this new variant on the sudoku formula, in fact arranging the colors becomes as instinctive as the number sequences in that classic puzzle.
Browsing through the Google Play store I came across this game and was intrigued. The trailer looked liked like a third person tactical shooter–a mix of Counter Strike and Company of Heroes. I figured it would be a welcome change of pace from all the disappointing deck building time sinks I had been plowing through. I was intrigued just how they were going to implement a free to play structure around such a skill based game.Naively, I started up Rivals at War and was presented with a deck of cards all with various troops classes and weapons, and I thought, that’s a novel way of selecting your team for a tactical shooter, lets play through the tutorial and see where this goes.
Tokyo based developers Kairosoft have built their own little niche in the mobile gaming market. With only nine very talented people on the team, they have consistently produced some of the most compulsively addictive games available. They have made their own brand of management sim practically a genre unto it’s own by releasing dozens of titles ranging from horse stable simulators, to ninja villages and and any number of ‘Storys’, from Mega Mall story, Grand Prix Story…the list goes on. The amazing thing is that even though each game displays the unique and unmistakable visual style of the Kairosoft product, and sticks to a tried and tested game type, every title has unique gameplay elements to distinguish it from it’s stablemates. It’s never just a case of taking a formula and reskinning it with what ever theme they come up with that week. There’s a certain amount of integrity on display that could have been dismissed to cash in on a hit and make a quick buck by releasing the same game, again and again like some devs do.
A fine balance has to be achieved when you decide to go the freemium route in a dungeon crawler. If you’re too generous then the player will simply grind through enemies in order to get better loot; this is after all the appeal of these games anyway. Make progression too hard however, and you risk subverting the enjoyment of your hack ‘em up, and relegating it to the ‘play to win’ category. Many players of Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter 3 felt that the pendulum had swung to far in favor of in-app purchases, unsettling the tried and true compulsion loop of incremental improvements to carry your character just that little bit further each time. Dungeon Hunter 4 redresses a lot of the complaints leveled at that game, but the question is; does it do enough?
The first game in the Final Fantasy franchise was indeed intended to be the last. Director Hironobu Sakaguchi had decided to say farewell to the industry after a run of failures at Square Enix (née Square) after on last try, but the the game proved such a success that a genre defining series was established. The first two games haven’t aged as well as some of the later releases but Final Fantasy III was the game that set the standard and laid down many of the tropes that have become so iconic of the series such as the job system.
This remake comes to Android via Nintendo’s DS, a great proving ground for touchscreen gaming, and is a fully re-conceptualized world. Gone are the naive 2d sprites of old, replaced with, well, some equally naive 3d rendered graphics. There’s clearly been a lot of work and thought gone in to interpreting the old style and updating to modern standards, but it falls short of what we know is possible on android. Whether this was because it was originally conceived with Nintendo’s less robust hand held in mind, or because Square (assisted by Matrix software) were keen to maintain the feel of the original is moot. What we get is charming, chunky and a little rough around the edges and even though the technical side doesn’t hold up, the design of the world and the characters themselves are as good as you’d expect.