Posts by tag: 1.5
For some reason I am drawn to downloading puzzle RPG games. I love games with dynamics like Bejeweled or bubble shooter. However, there are inherent problems that I’ve found with every puzzle RPG game I’ve downloaded. They all are the same with minute differences. This is the same case with Pet Monster Gem: Puzzle Shooter, in which I thought the puzzle shooter dynamic would be interesting and make it more unique. Instead, I got an almost direct clone of Monster Match that shares all its faults and more.
Square Enix has had its fair share of missteps on every platform, but it seems like their releases on the Google Play Store are consistently shoddy. Even when it’s classic games people already love like Chrono Trigger and the early Final Fantasy titles, DRM problems, compatibility bugs and control issues appear, all on top of a high asking price. A fan of some of the old Playstation titles, myself, I hoped Final Fantasy: All The Bravest would elicit a rush of nostalgia while also delivering a new gameplay experience, one not caught up in a turn-based battle system and serious, end-of-the-world drama. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get either of those things. In fact, I’m not even sure I got a game at all.
All The Bravest tosses all the old JRPG combat out the window with this mobile title. Here, you don’t scroll through menus to pick spells or attacks, equip items, or summon behemoths from beyond. When the battle field appears, filled by one to four enemies and across from your squad, all you do is click on each of the sprites of your party members. When you tap one of your fighters, they leap at one of the baddies, complete a short attack animation, do a bit of damage, and leap back into formation until the cooldown bar above their head fills up and you send them in again. If they get attacked, they are removed from the field. There isn’t any HP for your team, so each hit you receive just takes one of your guys away. These means you want to tap as furiously as possible, so each of your units gets as many attacks out as possible before they die (or go unconscious, or whatever), especially once your party grows to a larger size.
As the number of soldiers grows on your side of the field, so increases the number of different units you have. You start with simple Warriors and Knights but eventually bring Rangers, Monks and all sorts of Mages into the fold. A new party slot is unlocked every time you level up, allowing for a party of up to forty characters. Though you gain experience and Gil, the money in this fiction, and these units sometimes find new items as well, all this is quite meaningless. You can’t customize your party make-up or control the gear they use, so all the heroes are just nameless cannon fodder and the rest of it is window dressing. The only difference between enemies you fight (aside from their sprites, animation and dialogue) is their amount of health and attack frequency, so there’s no way to use tactics against them. All you ever do is tap each hero as quickly as you can, eventually swiping your finger across every unit in your formation, since this primes attacks a bit faster.
The only thing that makes you go faster than swiping is enacting Fever Mode. This is possible only every three real-world hours, when you get a push notification and alerting Chocobo noise that tell you the Fever is ready. Click the Fever button in battle and the screen goes blindingly bright red, allowing your heroes now glowing gold to attack as fast as your finger can hit them. Obviously, this reduces the enemy HP a lot faster, so the effect only lasts a few seconds, but hopefully it keeps the party alive. If you do lose every member of your army, you have two options: click the hourglass icon in the top right corner of the screen to replenish your forces or wait…a long time. Eventually, your party will refill itself using this second method, letting you know with that Chocobo call once again.
The game gives you ten free hourglasses at the start, but after those are gone, it’s a consumable that must be purchased in packs using real money. And this where things get pretty sketchy. The other tyoes of paid content in this otherwise free game are the airship tickets and characters. There is a world map of a fair size to explore, but if you want to travel to iconic Midgar from Final Fantasy VII, that’ll cost ya $3.99. It’s the same price to board an airship to areas from Final Fantasy X and XIII. That might not be so bad if it weren’t for the way the premium characters are handled in All The Bravest. Though Cloud and other popular faces are in the game, you can’t just go and make a purchase to add them to your party. Paying $.99 will, “summon a legendary character,” but who you get is completely random. Since there are 35 different characters to unlock this way, it could take a while until pulling that lever gets you the results you want. Don’t hope to bank your Gil for any of these purchases, though. If there’s a way to use the fake currency at all, I couldn’t find it.
The extremely shallow mechanics in All The Bravest leave only its art and all the references to the classic RPG titles of the nineties and early two-thousands to pick up the slack. If you’re a big enough fan of the entire FF series, maybe this is enough for you, but then seeing every piece of content would still cost you almost $50. I’d have a hard time believing anyone who says that’s a worthy investment in a game requiring so little interaction and giving so little narrative in return. Even if the technical bugs (such as the visuals scooting up the screen about an inch so as to be out of sync with the touch-receptive parts) were ironed out and its in-app purchases were less exploitative, I’m not sure a polished version of this serves FF devotees, RPG fans, or mobile gamers well enough. Unless a Final-Fantasy-themed Cow Clicker sounds appealing to you, it’s best to stay away from this famously-branded mess.
If you’re old like me, you may remember a PC title called Life and Death, made way back in the late 80′s. In this game, you played the roll of a surgeon who had a small variety of surgeries to complete. Amongst the Cyan and Magenta pixilated landscape of this game, you had to perform life saving surgeries. However, this game was meticulously accurate and realistic, resulting in my young self killing many a person via staph infections or bloss loss who were simply going in for a knee surgery. It was then I knew, a career in medicine was not in the cards for me. Virtual Surgery: Surgery Game, however, is not Life and Death in any way, shape or form, other than they both involve surgery. They’re nowhere close to even being in the same league as one another. Hell, Surgeon Simulator 2013 and Virtual Surgery aren’t even in the same ball park.
I was commenting with a colleague the other day about the lack of fighting games on the Google Play store. I spent some time perusing the various titles that came up under that search parameter; Fighting Tiger – Liberal being one of them. This game isn’t a fighter per se in the sense of your Mortal Kombat or Tekken, this is more of a 3D version of Streets of Rage or your traditional brawler. That confused me a bit that it would come up under fighters, but what the heck, why not give it a whirl, I thought.
By reading the description for Pixel Quest RPG, you can tell that the developer had some high aspirations. Advertising itself as an “retro RPG game with modern sandbox gameplay experience” you could be forgiven for thinking Pixel Quest was an attempt to make an 8-bit Elder Scrolls game. If that was the intention, or even if it was to simply make an interesting RPG, Pixel Quest fails miserably.
There is a large open world, in that there is no guiding force telling you where to go and what to do, but the sandbox aspect is a paper thin facade. A lack of direction does not equal a sandbox experience. During my attempts to play through the game before a game killing bug prevented any further progression, I was never once let loose on the world, nor did I ever have more than two quests at a time. In order to advance as far as I did (which took a ton of time due to an extremely slow “grinding” system) you have to complete quests in the exact order you receive them (technically you can choose the order of the first two quests you want to complete, but they both must be completed before you can get the third quest, and that quest must be completed before the fourth quest and so on.) Simply because the game forces you to figure this out on your own instead of giving hints on what you should do next does not make the game an open sandbox experience in any significant way, it is almost completely linear. A constricted world by itself wouldn’t be a game breaker, but an overly simplistic battle system, a lack of player progression, a frustrating reward system, an overall feeling of “incompleteness” and a multitude of bugs both large and small prevent Pixel Quest from capitalizing on its big game ambitions.
In the name of disclosure, I’ll go ahead and admit zombie games have to try a little harder to impress me, no matter what the genre. This wasn’t always the case. I’m not trying to go all hipster with the zombie thing and say I was into it way before it blew up… but I was totally way into it before it blew up. My mom was cool enough to rent me a VHS copy of Dawn of the Dead after months of begging when I was a kid (read: close to when it was actually released – I’m that old), and it was over from there.
The point of this isn’t to turn GameWoof into a LiveJournal. It’s to illustrate that, while I’m happy with the explosion of the genre, the ratio of good zombie games to poor ones has not been so hot since things blew up. Think The War Z or any number of the games advertised on Facebook if you need proof.
Dead Crossing is, fortunately, not bad on a War Z kind of level. That said, it’s still really bad. The lack of polish is evident from the moment you start the game. That alone sucks a lot of fun out of a premise that, given a little more love, could have been perfect for the Android platform: a motion-controlled runner where you smash zombies with your car – and shoot the ones that escape your bumper’s wrath.
In fact, many problems that plague low-to-mid-tier mobile games hit Dead Crossing twice as hard. The UI is garbage. Straight up, no exaggeration garbage. I tried the game on a Galaxy SIII and an Acer Iconia tablet, neither of which have small screens, and still struggled to navigate the menu because of the small buttons and the even smaller hitboxes governing my touch’s accuracy. I hated going to the store for fear I’d accidentally buy a gun, get stuck in an endless menu loop, or start a game before all my guns were equipped, leaving me weakened or defenseless until my quick and inevitable death.
You know what, though? Forget the UI’s friendliness. I don’t care that it couldn’t be worse unless my phone actually electrocuted me when I pressed buttons. Why? Because it’s super sketchy as well, and that’s close to an instant kibosh for me when it comes to mobile games.