Posts by tag: t4.5
Out of the reasons gamers give for why they play games, releasing stress has to rank among the top. It must be surprising then, for an outside observer, what kind of content gamers consider “stress relieving.” Getting shot at by Nazis, jumping over boiling lava, careening down a rain-slicked street at 170mph, the activities of our favorite pastime must seem like ridiculous stress inducers to outside observers. Maybe it is the high intensity of these games that help melt away our stresses, putting the pressures of our relatively mundane lives in the background while we work on solving manageable problems.
Regardless of the psychological factors, that my Psych101 class in no way prepared me to analyze, that may be in play here, there comes a time when a different kind of stress reliever is necessary. One that isn’t so high strung, one that, like a Zen Garden, lets you move at your own pace. A stress reliever that doesn’t work by building up more stress and then letting it all out with a “level completed” notification, but instead allows it to simply melt away. Color Zen is that kind of stress reliever.
Draw Something remains one of the most popular and highest downloaded games in mobile gaming history. Omgpop’s electronic, internet enabled take on cooperative Pictionary struck a cord with players young and old. Zynga bought Omgpop and the Draw Something franchise back in 2012. Draw Something 2 represents not only the sequel to the massive casual gaming juggernaut but also the future of the premier art game on mobile devices. For those concerned that the Zynga accquition of Omgpop would negatively affect the Draw Something franchise, you can put those fears aside, Draw Something 2 is not only bigger and better in nearly every way than its predecessor but continues the same relaxed IAP system that helped make it such a big hit in the first place. Meet the new king of social art gaming, it is the same as the old king, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The basic setup for Draw Something 2 is virtually unchanged from the previous version. You are given a selection of words to choose from, and using your touchscreen device, must draw the word to a recognizable enough degree that the player on the other end can recognize it. Success results in coins for both players that can be used to purchase colors, or different mediums like paint brushes, highlighters, and crayons. Draw Something 2 brings more colors, mediums, and words. Just as importantly, it also integrates a whole host of other game modes and features that make Draw Something 2 much more than just an update and make it a true sequel.
Stealth Bastard Deluxe is difficult. Like really, really difficult. That is okay though, because for as difficult as it is, it is twice as fun. During a play through of Stealth Bastard Deluxe players will have to utilize patience, elite hand eye coordination, fast reflexes, strategy and improvisation, often in rapid succession of each other. All the elements to make up a good hardcore 2D platformer are in play here, plus a few extra for good measure.
Stealth Bastard Deluxe is available for Android exclusively through the Humble Bundle until early July, it will then be unavailable for purchase until it can make its way to the Google Play store. Regardless of when you read this, if Stealth Bastard Deluxe is available to you, you should get it now. If you are a fan of action games or stealth games, traditionally mutually exclusive genres, you will love Stealth Bastard. With a simple “visible, partially visible and hidden” mechanic, and level design that continues to add new elements even late in the game, there is continual progression and constant challenge.
I said in my previous two Vector Unit game reviews that they know a thing or two about gyroscopic racing games on water. Turns out, I was wrong. Vector Unit knows a thing or two about gyroscopic racing games, period. Beach Buggy Blitz, a sort of mix between the old Outrun arcade games and Subway Surfers, proves that their games don’t have to be limited to water in order to be good. Beach Buggy Blitz, surprisingly, controls great with physical or gyroscopic controls. Beyond the controls, thankfully, is an addictive and engaging game.
First, what Beach Buggy Blitz is. In Beach Buggy Blitz players race against the clock towards checkpoints, each checkpoint gives a little more time on the clock, giving the player more time to reach the next one. Players race through semi-randomized tracks around a tropical island with a variety of themed areas to explore, scattered along the track are various objects that if hit, will slow down the player’s progress. Gold coins, the game’s currency, and various power-ups are also littered around the race track. Coins can be spent to upgrade power-ups, unlock cars and characters and buy various “gadgets.” Small mistakes have large consequences in Beach Buggy Blitz and the margin between a good run and an average one is razor thin. The result is an addictive “one more run” quality that gives Beach Buggy Blitz a re-playability that I criticized their other games for lacking at times.
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.
As we get ever closer to that Holy Grail of modern games–complete photo realism–one of the inevitable consequences is that more designers will push back against that wild goose chase. Just as in the art world it took the dutch masters to create life-like depictions of the human face, to usher in the impressionists and the surrealists, so to are we seeing a greater exploration of what a game could look like, as the Uncanny Valley gets narrower.
Contre Jour (literally Against Day) is a term used in photography where the subject is back lit so that they appear as a silhouette, and it’s this technique that Chillingo’s puzzle/platformer employs to great atmospheric effect, similar to the equally creepy Limbo. I don’t bring up the subject of art, that perrennial bugbear of the game reviewer, for no reason; the developers themselves pitch Contre Jour as “blurring the lines between interactive art and games.” This is of course completely untrue, they could have released the game with the most crude graphics and it would still have been one of the most inventive and challenging gaming experiences on the market. It is however a very pretty game.
Over the years we’ve all been indoctrinated in to thinking we know how games work, and most of the time we’re right. Can you really say that one racing game controls radically differently than the last one? Steer left and right to go in the direction you want. Press button to go forwards. We’ve become accustomed to a certain way of doing things in games that they just seem natural.
Once Mario 64 cracked the 3d platformer, no one messed with the formula, and when Medal of Honor appeared on the scene, it laid down the rules for twin stick FPS’s, which have stayed intact to this day. So when a game type so entrenched in popular gaming as the match-three puzzle, is rejigged the way that the brilliantly titled (and search engine unfriendly) 10000000 does it, the new spin on the genre had better be worth breaking from what we’re used to, or risk alienating it’s audience.
Eighty Eight Games’ first foray in to the games market distinguishes itself immediately with the retro styled graphics. I don’t mean cute enhanced fake 16-bit cartoony sprites or even the sparse pixel art of a Mega Man. 10000000 goes all the way back to something akin to what you would find on an old Atari console. It challenges you to like it from the outset, and if you’re not open to the ultra blocky art style then you may be turned off enough not to experience the game. If however you’re like me and grew up on the likes of Pitfall and Jet Set Willy (yup, that’s a real game) you’ll get that tingle of nostalgia as the chirpy chiptunes kick in and your character jumps out of bed with a digital “boing.”
Endless runners are games that are uniquely mobile. It is the one genre you are not likely to see on other platforms. The ability to take out your phone or tablet on the bus or during a work break and give a go at getting a high score, quickly and without commitment, along with their generally simple control schemes, make them ideally suited for mobile gaming. The flip side to that is that they lack progression, and while beating a high score can bring a sense of accomplishment, once that wears thin there isn’t much to keep you around. Mega Run, Get Set Games’ follow up to the widely successful Mega Jump, is not an endless runner. It does, however, have all the advantages of an endless runner listed above and adds a healthy dose of Angry birds style progression that keep things fresh by providing set levels you can practice until you master. If it seems like Get Set Games is offering you the best of both worlds it is because they are, and surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be any drawbacks.
InXile, developers of Bard’s Tale, made Kickstarter history when they secured over four million dollars to fund the incredibly ambitious Torment: Tides of Numenera, the spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment, one of the most fondly remembered and respected hardcore PC RPGs of all time. While the Torment games deal in a very traditional form of Western role-playing aimed at those who have a lot of time to invest in an epic story of conflicted characters and mind bending worlds, Bard’s Tale offers something almost completely at the opposite end of the spectrum, allowing InXile to indulge the sillier side of fantasy gaming. Loosely based on three classic–read: old–games of the same name (all of which are included in the package) The Bard’s Tale was initially released way back in 2004 for PS2 and the original Xbox, which should give you some idea of what to expect. While it failed to set the world on fire, it was reasonably well received and has now become somewhat of a permanent fixture on the top ten Google play charts, due in no small amount to the deep discounts it has had since it’s first appearance.
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.