Android

All posts tagged Android

Indie Studio Mobrite returns with a followup game to their original zombie hit Dead Ahead. Fight rather than flee in this combat focused squeal. 

Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare is the follow-up game to the mobile game simply titled Dead Ahead from developer and publisher Mobrite. It is available on IOS and Android and is free to play. Dead Ahead is a simple game where the player is tasked with escaping the zombie hordes that are chasing them in a side-scrolling, obstacle-filled driving game for mobile. Zombie Warfare features the same unique visual charm, with a huge array of new characters, enemies, weapons and locations to enjoy the apocalypse. As the name implies, Zombie Warfare’s gameplay is focused on combat, but with a heavy coating of micro-transactions it’s hard to focus on its interesting gameplay and graphics.

Setting and Graphics – An Expanded World for Dead Ahead

One of the main ingredients that made the first game a joyful experience to play was the game’s graphics and subtle world building. The first game’s opening cinematic creates a sense of dread but also shows a glimpse of the world the player will be inhabiting. Its characters are hand drawn and have a cute, almost chibi quality to them. The player drives a pizza delivery scooter, and most of the zombies have cute (even mildly sexy) designs, making Mobrite’s apocalypse a fun, playful and unique world to survive in. This followup game features even more of the same high-quality pixel art, and creative character and enemy designs. There are a large collection of survivors to unlock from civic employees and civilians like the shotgun-wielding farmer and the armored Fireman to fully armed military and police units. There are plenty of new zombies and even human enemies as well. Your squad will occasionally go up against roaming gangs, some of which are half infected with the zombie virus and brandish ranged weapons or special armor.

Overall the art style and environment in Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare is high quality for what is there, but does seem to be lacking a bit of the charm that was present in the first title. This specifically is felt with the game having no cartoon cinematic into, and the campaign feels very much like a set of levels, not a continuing journey, and there is no story at all. This would be fine but it seems like the game is trying to have a larger scope than the first title, though it really is just in level variations and not in an overarching story. It’s hard to not be a bit disappointed by this, as it seems like a missed opportunity, especially as the world map gives the feeling of being in a whole world of zombies to explore. This is not a major mark against the game though, as the levels feature a high variety of enemies and visual palettes.

Gameplay and Mechanics-  The Game has Good Bones, with Flawed Execution

Pushing any non-gameplay issues aside, there are great things to say about the backbone of the game.  The concept of a PvZ style strategy game in the universe of Dead Ahead works well on paper. Seeing the small pixelated characters running off their battle bus into the zombie hoard is great. The basic game rules are that the player has 2 main resources to manage: “Courage” (blue meter) and “Rage” (Red meter). All units and abilities cost one of these resources and the player will have to choose a “hand” of 6 units/abilities out of their total unlocked (or bought). As the level timer ticks on the player slowly builds courage, while every kill builds rage, both of which are used to drop units and objects onto the battlefield. all units attack and move automatically, and the player must deal a certain amount of damage to the enemy barrier to win. Unlike PVZ though, units kinda behave as if they are in lanes, but there is no way to control which of these invisible “lanes” they will move to attack or defend it. The player units have AI behavior that is designed to have them respond to threats ahead of them or when enemies are in close proximity, but sometimes the AI is not very responsive, which is a huge problem in a game where taking ANY DAMAGE to your battle bus at all will cause the player to lose their 3-star score. This has lead to many frustrating times of my units allowing a single weak zombie to run past, or to not fire at the most critical target because they moved to another lane automatically. This could be fixed with set lanes, or with the addition of manual focus fire or move orders, but neither of these are in the current build.

Price and Micro-Transactions – Mid to Late Gameplay is Very “Pay-to-Win”

The promising qualities of great art, a good gameplay premise, and the pedigree of an enjoyable first game make Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare all that more disappointing when the whole product is taken into consideration. In order to actually enjoy the positive game elements, the player will be loaded down with having to watch a lot of adds that remind them that the game is going to be unbalanced if they don’t start paying real money. I will say that when playing this game to review it for this article I did not pay any money but rather just relied on the daily login bonus and set out to grind for any currency I lacked. This made the experience start off as a fun game with a simple loop of fighting and upgrading my units. As with most games that feature an XP or currency-based upgrade system the amount of currency or XP required for a level up or upgrade is increasingly high for each new tier. This increase in upgrade prices is unreasonably steep and causes players who are not using micro-transactions to essentially be soft-locked out of the higher level units and even the final worlds of the game. At this point in the game’s progression, it is becoming obvious that the game is designed to have players pony up more than just a few bucks now and again to be able to continue playing.

Is having to pay for a mobile game really that absurd? Well no, it would not be if there was a way to pay one time to remove adds, but there is not. It wouldn’t be so bad if the paid products where at least priced well so that $3.99 (what I would pay for this title if the progression was balanced) got you enough gold to buy all the “base” units, but it is not. Not even close. For example, if someone pays $2.99 they get 500 coins. Several of the low power units cost around 700 coins, and the ones you’ll need halfway through the game’s progression are usually 3,000 – 15,000 coins. See? Not even close… Also to really put the nail in the coffin, the most interesting units are not only super expensive, but they can ONLY be bought with real cash, like the pic below of the super OP SWAT unit bundle, demanding $30.

All the extra bits – everyone loves bonus content!

The development team did seem to add some clever extra bits to the game that are worth mentioning. These extra features are not particularly robust or game-changing but are still worth mentioning. Elements like a simple auto battle PvP mode to get a few extra coins, a bonus game mode that cycles through several options a month, and a community discussion board in the game app that allows people to post fan art, and discuss strategy are all good ideas that add just a little extra content to the game. The bonus game modes and the PvP game show the differences between paying players and free players very obviously, and it is unlikely that non-paying players will be featured on any high score boards.

Conclusion

When considering that the game is soft-locked at higher difficulties unless players pay a unwarranted amount of cash, combined with the clumsy inaccurate nature of the enemies and units, along with essentially all resources being on timers rather than allowing for meaningful or satisfying progressing, Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare is a game that has many compelling gameplay elements, but in the end is more frustrating to play than it is fun.

If you have an experience with this game you want to share, positive or negative feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. As always…

Happy gaming friends!

Stormbound is a game I wrote a review for a while ago when it first came out. Stormbound’s development team even since then has been hard at work making the game better with new cards, performance updates, and new campaign missions. They even added the one thing I criticized them for in my review which was adding a private matchmaking mode! I’m personally still having a great time with it and now the developers want to know what card the community would have added to the game! The coolest thing about this probably is that new abilities and custom art are being taken into consideration for this competition. I personally was hoping for this competition to pool good ideas from the community and produce a new card pack or at least a handful of cards, but it seems that there will only be one new card when the contest is over. The cool thing about this though is that the community gets to submit then vote on ALL aspects of this new card, and therefore will be a product constructed from all the most voted for ideas. There are also various prizes to be won, which according to the contest web page (which you can find here) are as follows:

ALL PARTICIPANTS – When you vote, be sure to include your Player ID number! All participants will receive 1 copy of the new card when it is added to Stormbound. 

CARD ABILITY – Players who submit a Card Ability that makes it into the voting round will receive 100 Rubies! 

CARD NAME – Players who submit a Card Name that makes it into the voting round will receive 100 Rubies! 

The schedule for voting/submissions are here as well. As of now, the first vote has already been cast, but there are still tons of categories to get your submissions in.

DATE(S) VOTING/SUBMISSION ROUND WINNING RESULT(S)
FEB 16 – 19 Vote for Card Type Unit
FEB 20 – 26 Submit Ability Ideas
FEB 27 – MAR 1 Vote for Card Ability
MAR 2 – MAR 5 Vote for Movement Speed
MAR 6 – MAR 13 Vote for Art Sketches
MAR 14 – MAR 19 Vote for Mana Cost
MAR 20 – MAR 26 Vote for Art Coloring
MAR 27 – APR 2 Vote for Strength & Ability Values
APR 3 – APR 9 Submit Name Suggestions
APR 10 – 13 Vote for Card Name

Submit entries and vote on the Contest Web Page.

Good luck everyone, and Happy Gaming!

For those who seek visceral death in bizarre, creepy fantasy lands, look no farther! Badland 1 was a great journey through a machine infested forest, and if you liked that then Badland 2 is the experience you’re looking for!

In 2013 Frogmind released the incredibly fresh and sharp game Badland. The original was compelling, surprising, eerie, and exhilarating. With the Game of the Year Edition bringing the single player level count to 100, I thought I probably didn’t want more Badland. After a few levels of Badland 2, I quickly changed my mind.

It should be noted that Badland 2 has been out for well over a year, but I personally hadn’t spent much time with it until just recently, and I think that it is well worth a mention here as a great indie mobile game recommendation. The game is a little old but still stands up incredibly well and is just as amazing as some of the better mobile games of this year.

Setting: Bizarre lands, familiar and new. The setting of Badland 2 starts off pretty much the same as the original. The unmistakable whimsy of Badland is seen through all the eerie and beautiful levels. The small fragile creature you control flaps through a twisted quiet forest that has been infested with machines. The sharp contrast between nature and metal starts as a familiar, yet effective mood. As the levels continue however the biome of the levels changes, introducing more realized versions of past level variations. Snow levels have new environmental challenges, like ice beams. Fire levels have lava flows, heat lamps, and lasers…so many lasers. And finally the hero (and their many clones) find themselves in an all new sort of void environment, with floating green plasma, new gravity mechanics, and puzzles.

No matter the color and style of the environments and puzzles, Bandland 2 is still very much the same game as the original at heart,  which is perfect. Any large departure from the original game mechanics would likely be a loss. The squeal feels much more like a natural progression from where the first game left off.

Gameplay: New Layers of Paint on the Same, Wonderful Game. For those who have not played the first installation, essentially the objective of any level is to get at least one of the flying (or rolling) creatures that you control to the end alive. Though there are other objectives, which i’ll talk about in a minute, this all the player needs to do to win any given level. There are of course always a gauntlet of spines, explosives, lasers, waterfalls, pits, and lava (to name a few) which the player must carefully avoid on their way to the goal. The controls are super easy to use, just tap the left or right side of the screen to move in that direction and keep from falling for a second. This creates a simple but challenging task as flying through levels usually demands a lot of avoiding things.

Some of my favorite times with Badland 2 (and 1 for that matter), are levels that incorporate a lot of the pick-ups that change speed and slow time. These are often combined with cloning pick-ups will split and duplicate the little creatures. There are some incredible moments in Badland 2 particularly that give the player a brief feeling of being out of control. Having  50 clones tear across an open map full of saws at super speed, then dramatically slowing time just before they all die is an example of the kinds of things that this game will impose upon it’s players. One new addition to the squeal is the occasional ability to stop time, which makes for some amazing moments. There are also pick-ups that will make the clones sticky, bouncy, fat and heavy, or tiny and fast. This makes for tons of crazy combinations that are tricky but always fun to experiment with.

Difficulty: Change your goals to change difficulty. Though the main goal of any given level is always to get at least one clone to the end, levels always have secondary objectives like getting a certain number of clones to the end, losing no clones, or finishing the level in one try. This challenge based objective system allows players to progress through most levels simply attempting them multiple times, while also allowing experienced players to challenge themselves by aiming for more specific (and much harder) goals. This allows Badland to be what the player wants; An atmospheric immersive experience, or a tight difficult set of challenges.

Badland 2 is not really new anymore, but it still holds up as one of my personal favorite mobile games. If you decide to get into the greatness that is the Badland games, bigger screens if available are recommended along with headphones. The game’s soundtrack is subtle but all the sound design blends together to make for a great audio experience. Badland 2 is available on Android and IOS. I believe that the only difference is that the IOS version is $4, while the Android version is free but plays ads unless you pay to remove them. Badland 1 Game of the Year edition is available on Steam for $10, with controls and levels adapted for PC. This Steam version also features a 4 player mode to play with friends!

The Badland games are some of my favorites for playing in my spare time and I defiantly recommend them to anyone at all interested!

As always, happy gaming friends! 

banner_selfmade

Ever since pinball games began to fill arcades they’ve become a staple of the genre. Since the trend towards digital over physical arcade games has accelerated recently, tons of pinball style games have come out for PC, mobile, and even been featured in console games. From the classic 3D Pinball (space cadet) for Windows 95, to the Pinball-like mini game in Final Fantasy XV (Justice Monsters 5), Pinball games are everywhere. A quick visit to any App store will reveal dozens of Pinball games to choose from, but Pinout is the only one that has ever stayed on my iPhone/iPad for more than a few days. Here’s what makes this Pinball adaptation stand head and shoulders above its competition.

Simple, Elegant Design 

The style of Pinout, Mediocre’s newest title, is a clean, crisp series of ramps and tracks dipped in a thick coat of 80’s neon. The level design is reminiscent of arcade-style pinball cabinets but is stripped down to only the essentials. Familiar elements such as ramps, bonus points, mini-games, and high score are all present, but without the usual busyness of 1000 flashing lights, and sounds. The combination of simple design with a heavy dose of style is perfect. It’s just so damn, cool. This simple design not only adds to its aesthetic value but also makes it feel really natural to play on a phone sized screen.

Adapted for Mobile

Though the visual design of Pinout is stunning, the most interesting and innovative change made to original pinball games is its progressive level design. Instead of well-aimed shots gaining the player points on a static arcade table, a successful shot scrolls the board up to new paddles and tracks to use. This is a natural adaptation for mobile and feels awesome! It keeps the feeling of traditional pinball machines with an added feeling of motion and progression. The player is battling the clock to get to the end of each area with the most extra time left as possible. Players who end each level with a low time left will have the opportunity to replay that level in order to bring more bonus time into the next level. Finishing one of the harder levels with only 10 seconds to spare will inevitably mean doom, as finding enough bonus time-points to sustain a whole level starting with non is almost impossible. The need to bank time as a sort of currency gives the game a feeling of linear progression, in what could otherwise be a series of scattered and unconnected levels.

Amazing Soundtrack

From the moment I saw the trailer I knew I would love the style and feeling of Pinout, but I wasn’t expecting the soundtrack to be such a strong addition to the overall value of the game. for an arcade game Pinout has an unusually striking soundtrack. Each level has it’s own song dedicated to it. As the player battles their way through the maze of ramps they are simultaneous journeying through the album. The game trailer doesn’t feature any vocals, but several stages layer mesmerizing vocals over the hypnotic, electronic beats, deepening Pinout’s winning style. The soundtrack is by Douglas Holmquist, who is joined by by Susanna Lundgren for the vocal tracks. Douglas Holmquist has done OSTs for other games such as, Smash Hit, Beyondium, and Does Not Commute. Pinout’s OST is available on SpotifyBandCampGoogle Play, and iTunes.

Pinout itself is technically free, but won’t save your progress unless you pay for it, so essentially the free version is just a demo. To really enjoy Pinout as it is meant to be played you will need to buy the premium version, which is $3. Not a bad price at all for the quality of the game.

What I’d like to see changed

Pinout is a win in my book, two thumbs up, a “Must Buy” for arcade lovers. My only reservation about Pinout is that it is a little too short. I felt like the game was building to a more dramatic and energy infused game ending, but as I thought I would be approaching what might be new game elements or some kind of dramatic end-game sequence, the levels were all gone, and a new endless mode was unlocked. The Endless mode is actually pretty cool, and introduces more randomness into the gaming experience than the main game did, but I wanted more handcrafted levels, with new themes and  new game elements. Pinout did some really cool stuff with doors and buttons near the end, but didn’t explore these options as long as I wish they did. If the developers would release more levels with a new song for each level that would really make Pinout a home-run. I would even pay another dollar or so for another 5 stages. It feels like they have something really unique and amazing here, and I would love to see that expanded on and explored more. However, the short time I had with it I enjoyed immensely, and I still recommend it as a game purchase.

Pinout is available on IOS and Android, and is a great mobile game to kill time when waiting in lines but is equally fun to play on the couch with a beer on Saturday night.  With good mobile games being hard to come by, Pinout is a creative and well made gaming experience, with a level of design and style I hope to see in more titles in the future. Let the chillwave, 80’s trance vibes flow over you as you gaze into a maze of neon! What’s your best end game score?

If you have thoughts about Pinout, feel free to leave them in the comments section, and as always…

Happy Gaming Friends!

The last decade has brought an amazing amount of high quality indie games to PC and consoles, providing a vast variety of games to pick from. But sometimes you might want something a little different than the many “pay-to-win” mobile games available when you are on the go. The struggle is real when it comes to finding great quality mobile games that are complete in themselves and that don’t lean heavily on in-app purchases to be fun. Everyone knows that Minecraft has had a mobile edition for quite some time now, but here are a few that you may not know about. This is my list of the top 5 best indie games that have pocket editions, so you can take these high quality games with you when you are waiting in that long line at your next concert or convention.

1. Downwell

Downwell gets the first slot on this list for a few reasons. first of course, it’s just a really great game that I think more people should know about. But secondly, it’s the perfect mobile game due to its fast pace and simple gameplay. Though sometimes it is nice to have a more complicated gaming experience on mobile, or perhaps a narrative based adventure, for those times that you need a quick burst of bullet-shoe, high-score, well-diving action Downwell has your back. Perfect for waiting in lines and killing time, but still a compelling game for Saturday night. Downwell is a simple game to learn, and truly a challenge to master. Any arcade game lover needs to go get addicted to this ASAP! It is available on on IOS and Android for $3

2. Crypt of the NecroDancer

WOW. This game is so unique and clever that I tell people often to check it out on the PC. Now that it’s available on IOS you can take the dungeon-crawling dance party with you! This one will be harder for people with smaller phone screens, but this shouldn’t be much of a problem since every phone these days looks like an iPad Mini. Even so a larger screen will be helpful as you have many enemies and items to view the farther each run takes you. Essentially this is a rouge-like that is played to the beat of the music. There’s a good number of items and weapons to discover along the way to dance-move mastery! Crypt of the NecroDancer is extremely well made. This title is currently available on IOS devices for $5.

3. Bastion

Bastion brings a gaming experience heavy in environment and brilliant story telling. The hero is accompanied in his journeys by a narrator who speaks about player in 3rd person, recalling your past while also commenting on present actions. This is tricky story telling medium that Supergiant Games nails in this title. Bastion is great because it actually transfers over to mobile pretty naturally. As with other titles you will need to have a decently sized screen for optimum gameplay, but Bastion should play well on most mobile devices. It’s a lot of fun, and tells a moving and beautifully imaginative story. The experience is well worth the low price of $5 on the apple app store, especially since on Steam it’s $15.

4. Transistor

Transistor is another title from Supergiant Games. This title takes place in a sci-fi, almost cyberpunk universe, and like Bastion, Transistor also has a great aesthetic and brilliant storytelling. In a world where people’s consciousnesses can be downloaded, city covers all you can see. The player takes the role of “Red”, an unlikely enemy of the government who escapes execution with an unexpected friend, a circuitry sword that is occupied by the consciousness of an old friend. The game can be played in real time, or in planned out turns where Red uses her highly customizable array of moves and weapons to take out her enemies in the most efficient way possible. Transistor truly is a unique game that borrows very little from other titles. Transistor is the most expensive game on the list at $10, but Supergiant Games seems to keep their games the same on mobile devices as on PC, so it’s still kinda like getting 50% off, as it’s priced at $20 on Steam.

5. Don’t Starve 

Don’t Starve is a brutal, crafting survival game set in a Gothic/Victorian setting. This game is both addicting and maddening. It’s very different from the other games on this list as a standard game of Don’t Starve often takes a long time, and being a rouge-lite game with no linear narrative plus perma-death, it is less fitting for killing time and lifting boring moments, but is better for sitting down for longer periods of time to focus on it. The PC version of Don’t Starve has been out for some time, but if you haven’t enjoyed the brutal sanity draining adventure yet this is a great way to try it out. There does not seem to be any additions to the pocket edition yet (no “Reign of Giants”, or “Don’t Starve Together”), but but hey, you can play in an airport now. As with the other games, the pocket edition is much cheaper at $5, as it’s $15 on Steam.

That’s my list of my top 5 indie games with pocket editions. I know there are some other good ones out there too, but these happen to be my personal favorites. If you have a different favorite indie title with a pocket edition leave a comment, or let us know on our Facebook or Twitter page!

As always, Happy Gaming Friends!

– Jacob Tillson