Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review: Pix'n Love Rush

I think we're getting old. All of us, realy really old. I mean, here we are in a new age where Sony and MS are working their asses out to give us games that look like real life. But what do we do? Once we see a "retro" title, most of us have no choice other than to go and just see it play. I mean, why? Weren't we past that? Like a long time ago? Is it nostalgia? Is is curiosity? Well, I really have no idea what is it, but, hell, keep that retro coming.

Pix'n Love Rush is a game that messes with your nostalgia as much as it wrecks your free time. It is a mainly inspired highscore game, dont worry, OF integration makes it so there's online leaderboards, and there are also other achievements for doing all kinds of stuff.

But what's the game about? Well, in it, you're a creature that in my head resembles a cat, and once you press the "How to play" menu, it tells you, you can move left and right, jump, and shoot upwards, you should get the +, avoid the -, kill the bats and spare the angels. Sounds simple right? Is because it is, that is all there is to it.

But then, even though the essence is simple, the game hasn't even begun. There are 2 game modes, infinite time and 5 minutes rush, and there's where the fun begins.

The game consists of different scenarios in which you need to do different stuff to, well, do what the how to play tells you, some scenarios you're going up, some you're going down, some are really a platformer where you jump from platform to platform, doing, well, you know :p. That makes the game very diverse, and fast paced at the same time, as, well you have time in each level to do your thing, and doing it perfectly grants you a bonus at the end of the level, but more on that soon. If all that wasn't enough, the scenarios by themselves are randomly generated (either that or there are TONS of variations to the same essence) giving it a great replay value.

But, why would you replay it? Well, I said it is a highscore based game, and the better you get, the higher your score goes, as always, but here there's something more, the way the score multipliers work. Once you gather enough kills and +s, you start filling little squares on your top right corner, once they're filled, the multiplier works until you get hit, or do something you're not supposed to do, the multipliers are x2, x5 and eventually x10. But wait, not only are there multipliers, but each time you successfully change one, the world changes, from the colorful default one, to a blurry one, to a retro looks like you're playing on an original GB one, and even to something that feels pulled out of the Matrix. It really is a blast just to look at it, and saying that from a retro game is a lot :p.

Bottom line is you'll get hooked by this for a good time, it is pretty, it is addictive and it plays well. And if there were an Arcade machine with this back in the day, well, I'd have spent a LOT more of my father's money playing this.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review: Pro Zombie Soccer

Soccer games... current status? Infesting the AppStore. And that should continue for like a month, until the World Cup is done. I mean seriously, they put all kinds of crap on the store and then add a soccer ball and think it is gonna sell just because of it, next thing we're gonna see is a copy of labyrinth with a soccer ball and say "omg get the ball to the stadium before the game starts". Even the more decent game devs have released subpar soccer games just to make a buck(I'm looking at you Gamevil).

Good thing is, not every game dev is like that, some actually develop a decent game, like in the case of this one.

The storyline is simple, you are a rejected soccer player that got bitten by a Zombie and now you want revenge and to stop them all. Yes, same storyline as always, stop the evil, save mankind, but believe me, it is told in such a way that it'll have you laugh more than once, really nice twist in an overly used excuse for a storyline.

How do you plan on stopping them? By smashing them with you soccer ball. The gameplay is rather simple, you're in a field with the ball at your feet, there's a circular thingy behind your player which you use to aim, and an arrow in front of the ball that helps you see the direction in which the ball will go. From that point, you just let go, shoot, and bam dead (again) zombie!

But a gameplay like that could get old fast, and we all know that, that's why to spice things up, there are different kinds of zombies that need to be killed in different ways, move in different speeds and require a different number of shots to kill. If that isn't enough there's a combo system that starts with headshots, the more headshots you do in a row, the higher the score multiplier (up to x10) missing the headshot will end your combo, but as not every zombie is killed with a headshot, the game is made forgiving in that, killing those without a headshot wont affect your combo and will keep them at the current multiplier, so yeah, if you lose your combo is your fault.

Not enough for you? Well, there's also a special shot system. Every time your kill a zombie, a yellow bar starts filling, and when it is full you have the choice of 3 awesome supershots (which I won't get into as they're part of the fun, but believe me they're all awesome). You'd think you'd stick to one and go with it for the rest of the game, and well, you can do that, but there's so much depth in the game that if you use them correctly you can totally skyrockets the score, adding a really interesting strategy to the whole package.

But no... you want more as you think the gameplay will get repetitive? Well, not really, because the devs have managed to even fix that. Every so many levels, a new mechanic or spin will be added to the initial formula to keep it fresh, so believe me, you will stay hooked to the game until you're done with it, and then some (since an extra difficulty and survival mode are added after you finish the game once).

Bottom-line is, amongst so many crappy soccer games out these days, someone really got it right, and the end result is a really fun and addictive game that will keep you hooked to it for quite some time. So if you went to the trouble of reading all this, go do yourself a favor and just get it. NOW!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Review: Sigma

Match 3 games are like doodle games and TD games in the AppStore. God! There are so freaking many I already feel sick just by seeing another one of those. Really, is like someone had told a bunch of people "do this, exactly this, do not try to innovate, improve or anything in any way, ppl will love it" and people actually believed this. Thank BigStack Studios for not listening to this...

What can I say about Sigma? It is as simple and as complex as you want it to be, it is a match 3, made different. In this game you have 2 cylinders in each side of the screen, which you can roll with your fingers, a click will send a piece from one side of the other. The objective? Match 3 or more of the same color and start making points. But the game doesn't stop there. Matching 5 or more gives you power-ups, those, when "matched" with any color, have different effects, there's destroy row, destroy row and column, all of the same color, until the biggest and most powerful one, the nuke, which totally clears the screen.

So far so good? Ok I've told you that this game is a match 3 that you play different but that does the same, but believe me, that " playing different" is enough to make it worthwhile. Not convinced? Ok, let me elaborate on the complexity of the game. As you can imagine from the different gameplay, this game is harder than most M3s, since you can only use the top block on your columns. But to add to that, there are also... chains. But they're not your usual chains, to begin one, just make a match, from that point on you'll have a colored timer in the bottom of the screen, and that determines the time you have left to make another match of the same color to get a multiplier going. Make a match of any other color, and the multiplier, chain, combo or however you wanna call it, is gone. That means that potentially high scores will be only for those with enough dedication and fast fingers to pull it off.

But worry not. The game is also designed for the casual not color matching crazy player, you could go by matching colors as you see them, as big as you can, and survive with the aforementioned power-ups. The game also comes with 3 difficulties, casual, normal and hardcore, each with several sectors and each sector with 5 levels. To go through a level you simply need to fill a bar at the top (fills with the points you make) before the time runs out. Yep, it is timed, so I'd really suggest you to start with casual, because this game is different enough that will take a bit to get used to it (even the dev admitted to still lose several times on hard mode).

Bottom line, this game is great,it has a LOT going for it, visuals, music, gameplay and addcitivity (yes, I just made that up). This is what ever M3 game wishes to be and will never become, so if you're ever to give a chance to any M3 game, give it to this one, and you will not regret it.

Review: Soccer SuperStars

Gamevil... Known for RPGs like Zenonia and Hybrid, and the top seller Baseball SuperStars (2009 and 2010). This time, due to (most likely) the world cup, GV ventured itself in the world of soccer.

You'd probably be thinking "OMG BSS but with Soccer! Amazing!" Well, not really, but please read on.

In SSS (or SS) you have exactly the same options that you'd find in your BS game, Exhibition, Cup, Dramatic (Challenge), and the most important... " My League". In this one, as in BS, you create your own player, put it on a team and improve its stats and win games. But the short comings start even there. You're met, not with a customizable character a la BS, but with a miniature of a player, in which the customizations can't even be differentiated amongst them other than from color, so your unique player ends up being generic player #2112. But then you say "but the rest must be awesome fun!" Well, depends. Gone are the random events that would ef you up in BS, most of the events in SS only have 2 choices, and it is pretty damn obvious which one is the good choice. Gone is also your rival, that would ensue some really great and difficult gameplay scenes. And also, gone is the ability to choose which kind of player you want to be. Yes, you can be a power, speed, technique or stamina player, but you'll always be the striker, you have no other choice. So yes, My League has been dumbed down.

Now on to the gameplay of soccer itself. Well, it sucks. Is like GV got a random generic soccer game from ages ago, copied the code, pasted, and added the condition arrow that is somewhat new. The animations suck, the controls suck, and the responsiveness, well, also suck, it takes ages for your character to pass the ball (whereas the computer does it instantly) and, due to the fact that you can hold to charge, there's an added problem. If by any chance the moment you are charging, you decide to go on another direction, stop moving, go faster, or breathe... well, the charge is now gone and you have to start over. Not to mention the fact that it takes ages for you to rob a ball, but the computer can even do so from a distance, AND! If you detail it very closely, you can see that you are charged for a fault before doing it (but already having pressed the button to do it), same goes for the goal kick.

This game really feels like GV knows nothing about football, not only in what I've mentioned, but also in the fact that, due to the WC, the teams in game are not fake teams, but real ones from actual countries, BUT, none of the players have their real names, so yeah, it is only a pseudo cover of fake teams.

Bottom line? Do not buy this, really, GV needs to put some major updates out there in order to fix this game for it to be playable. Is it fun? Well, only if you can make it past ALL of those problems, so yeah, 90% of the people won't like it.

I hope GV does some serious research and puts a major update out for this, for free, as good as it should've been to begin with. Otherwise, it seems this game was as rushed as the 1st release of Z2, which makes it 2 in a row of failures for Gamevil.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Review: Monster Mayhem

Since Zombies rise from the dead, and are always back to get you once and another time in a row, I guess this is a good genre where I can make a 2nd review (specially since I haven't done a single one in weeks, due to college and stuff). This time, another undead/zombies/evil things game: Monster Mayhem.

So let's start with the obvious: These 2 games are seriously different, so no, I won't be comparing them as they take totally different approaches to... everything.

Some time ago, Tapplay started hyping up their new game, a game consisting of, well, every evil-doer in you agenda, leprechauns, zombies, mummies, werewolves, etc. But they added a spin, they made it not scary, but charismatic and fun. The whole game is very cartoony and everything (from the presentation to the information cards on the enemies) feels very nicely put together.

The game itself consists of 3 difficulties, easy, normal and madness (this one needing to be unlocked after beating normal, and for a good reason, if you don't have weapon upgrades, this will be hard, but more on that later). After you choose how hard will the roots of all evil, cartoon style, will be, it is time to get into the campaign.

Campaign mode consists of a total of 5 "worlds" with 5 levels and a boss each, so we're talking about 25 levels + 5 bosses, so, technically 30 stages. Yes, you might think it is small, but wait wait wait! After you beat them all, you unlock Boss Rush mode (IMO, a nice addition to ANY game with bosses) and if that is not enough for you, after that, you unlock... PAM PAM! Yes! Endless mode, so... yeah, enjoy, you freak of nature that enjoys killing freaks of nature :p.

Gameplay is simple, these, creatures, are trying to scape the graveyard, through, conviniently, the main gate, so it is your job to keep them in there so that the only thing they annoy (other than you) is each other. For that purpose, you have a total of 8 unlockable weapons in your arsenal, you begin with the typical knife and pistol, but you can even unlock flamethrowers and... wait for it... a nuclear bomb!
(which, apparently, only affects the graveyard, so don't you worry about the world outside of it). You don't have freedom to unlock them, you must do so in order, but you do have freedom to upgrade them however you want. You might think this was a reckless decision from the devs part, but it comes for a reason. Not only must you kill every creature before you reach the game, but they all come with they own status card (think PvZ but with more info) telling you about their strength, speed and defense, and also which weapons they're susceptible to. Yes, you are forced to be in constant weapon switching in order to dispose of the enemies in the best way possible, which is awesome, as it adds to the diversity in which the game demands you to be played, potentially making it less monotonous than all the games in this branch (TD, etc) tend to get.

The game has a lot going for it and few things against it, so I really recommend getting it. One thing I must advice you, though, in case you decide to do so, is, the knife mechanic can get tiresome, so, remember you have 8 weapons! Don't be cheap! Use them all! if you do that, the game is far more enjoyable :p.

Review: N.Y. Zombies

Zombies, seriously? Who invented them? I think as long as I remember the idea of Zombies always have existed, just that, in the beginning we at least feared them, nowadays they're like ragdolls put there for us to shoot bullets at them, which ended up being rather fun.

I wasn't expecting much of this game, like I don't of most games in the appstore that use similar selling points (read: killing zombies) in a straight-forward manner. But hey, I got a code so I had nothing to lose. And I found out I was actually losing for NOT having this game.

N.Y.Z. is the typical "omg virus, omg zombies" game which has you put against a normal to read storyline. But well, none of us care about that anymore, do we? All we care about is how it plays, and what the playing is all about. And it is good.

The gameplay is rater simple, you are still in the middle of a map, where, unluckily to you, all the zombies in the world tend to converge. Good thing is, you have weapons, good weapons, upgradable weapons, to allow you to kill more and more of these undead things. To kill them it is just a matter of touching them in screen to shoot/stab/w/e at them, and o that enough times and they'll go down, for the second time. The game's pace is really frantic, specially in the later levels where there are zombies everywhere and you need to prioritize which ones are deadlier/will take longer to get to you in order to survive.

As far as weapons go, there's a VAST selection of them, all of them with 6 upgrading levels, greatly improving their performance in battle. There start with your normal pistol and knife (long and short range) but go all the way to chainsaws and chainguns, not forgetting the ever so lovely grenades that help you kill monsters in groups. But not every upgrade are just your straightforward weapons, added to that there are abilities, like healing and lighting dark areas, and the flare, which lightens up areas so that zombies can be easily spotted.

I am yet to finish campaign, which is a good thing, as it says the game is at least decently sized. And if you ever en up stuck in a level due to its difficulty, you are free to *grind* past levels for money and upgrades, grinding is not ideal, but is a nice way to compensate increasing challenge with the ability to not pull your eyes out of frustration. Campaign wasn't good enough for you? Well, don't complain, there's also a really nice endless mode, not to say varying difficulty modes depending on how gutsy you're feeling.

This game surpassed my expectations, having me hooked in it the moment I started playing. For that reason I have to recommend it for everyone still not tired of zombie shooting, and even for those who are tired, I found this one compelling enough to play just 1 more level, even when it is 1 am and you need to wake up early the next morning.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Review: AFROian Jewels

I don't know what it is about hairstyles, everyone has their own, and I think some other people even take them upon themselves to make their hair look like a piece of art (and I mean it, I'm sure I saw someone with a haircut like the Eiffel Tower the other day...). But whatever style someone has, it either makes or breaks the look as a whole, and in this case it is no different.

I don't know what it is about Afros, and more specifically, what the dev of this game has with them, but he (or she) has definitely made sure to represent them is a really nice way, and in really nice games.

AFROian Jewels is a rather simple at glance, hard to master game. In it, vertical "blocks" consisting of 3 differently colored afros fall from the sky, and you get to choose the order in the colors in the block before they fall to the bottom and stay there. The objective is simple, match 3 or more of the same colored afros, and humans will pop out from them and leave the screen, this includes the basic colors, plus the powerups that come in form of white afros that dissapear every afro of the same color than the one they fell on top of. From that, as in any game from the genre, you make chains and combos by foreseeing a bit if your moves, or just being plain lucky, to move up your score and after a set amount of points, you move up a level, moment in which speed increases (like classic tetris).

To mix things up a bit, now and then an Afronian will "wake up" from one of the afros and take up two spaces, which may ruin the whole setup you had, so it is nice to keep a surprise factor there. It has also been informed that in higher difficulties other environmental factors, like UFOs and such, also come in play to keep things even more interesting. But there's where I found a problem, I don't know if I'm inherently slow, or if I'm always sleepy or something, but once I advance even 1 level, the speed picks up so much that I find it really hard to keep up, to the point that, even though I've played several times, I've only made it to level 4, so I don't know if I'll ever see those higher difficulties. This, clearly, can be awesome to some that complain that games take too long to pick up speed, but might turn off less finger-happy people.

There are also many other things that don't seem very clear at first (or at all) so I'd think the presence of a tutorial to explain the score system, the chaining system and the powerups is something very welcome.

Other than that, I find this game to be thoroughly enjoyable, it starts simple and keeps adding enough twists to make you wonder what will pop out next, that way, if you can get used to the speed, this game can be really fun and rewarding, but if you can't, seeing the fact that you can't advance and staying in the very basic levels could be really frustrating.

Other thing I could complain about is that there's no direct control on the column, all must be done from the controllers on the side of the screen, taking away intuitiveness to the game, factor that, in a reflex based game like this one, can be decisive.

Bottom line is, if you're a fan of the AFRO games, and a fan of fast-paced puzzles, I really recommend this one as it a nice spin on the basic formula. But if you can't keep up to speed, well, this is definitely not for you. For $0.99, you definitely can't go wrong giving this charismatic game a chance.