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.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review: Chaos Rings

Let's be honest, the AppStore has spoiled us all. Long gone are the time when you had to pay 50 bucks for one game, now you can even get them for .99. Yes, I know the quality is different, but the community has gotten used to this lower quality lower price games, that feel at home specially at the iDevice.

Then comes along games that call themselves "premium" which dare to break this dog eats dog situation by placing their games in a margin higher than anyone else. Most bash these kinds of games, calling them "too expensive" forgetting about older times. I myself cannot vouch for the other premium games, as I haven't played them. But all of those that ditch this game because of the price, they're missing a lot here.

How to explain Chaos Rings? Well, as you'd expect, it feels a LOT like a FF game, same mechanics and all, but, well, being like FF doesnt make a game bad (far from it) and this one sticks out enough to be worthy of its own name.

The story is simple: You don't know anything of where you are, just that you're stuck somewhere with people, everyone paired, and you need to fight til death for immortality because failing to do so (as well as losing) gets you killed. Simple, no? Still, from the time I've played it I feel this game has enough twists to keep you interested (something that, coming from an iTouch game, means a lot, since I haven't seen the 1st game before this one to have a decent storyline).

The game itself is separate by scenarios, levels in which you have an objective, and to get to it, you need to defeat several bosses and go through a lot of puzzles. Yes, puzzles, because not everything in this game is about fighting, you'll have to do a pretty good deal of thinking (nothing too hard, don't worry) to get through the game. I consider that to be truly awesome as it helps break the simple running/fighting sequence we're all used to.

But wait, do you think this is the same as all of the others FFs out there? It may, but it has enough tweaks to keep you really hooked into it. For instance, you may choose the level range of the enemies that are to be found in the scenario, so you yourself decide how much you want to be challenged (makes it playable by everyone + adds a lot to the replay value). And what about you? Tired of the same old random encounters that seem to pop out every 3 steps? They have something for you too. In the 1st dungeon you find a skill that allows you to simply turn random encounters off (be in mind that you still have to face mandatory bosses, so don't go thinking this is gonna be a walk through the park).

Also new is a new tweak in the battle system. As you can imagine, being paired is not for free, so, in battle, you can choose to fight as one, dealing bigger damage; or 2 dealing different types of attacks and skills. And talking about skills (because we can't about a SE game without talking about magic) the games gives you skills through something called "genes" each time you kill an enemy, you have a chance of getting their genes, granting you an ability of their species to be equipped and be used in battle.

So yeah, pretty much SE managed to give everyone a bit of what they wanted/needed and delivering a top notch title, and all of this on the platform everyone though it was doomed for cheap and low quality .99 games.

Is it worth the asking price? I must admit I'm a bit stingy myself regarding the AppStore, but I can tell you, as a RPG fan myself, these are the BEST $12.99 you can invest in a game on the AppStore. Where you thinking about getting 13 other games? Don't! Get this one, and you won't regret it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Review: IMO

Long time since I posted here and I don't want to abandon it (consider this a hobby) so I'll do a quick review about the game that is keeping me from making more reviews: IMO.

Yes, the 1st *real* MMORPG is finally in the AppStore, yes, it is a port from a korean mobile game, but this is so much fun, that who cares!

I say 1st because text based games doesnt really give the same feeling, and lobby based games are not as fun as open world where you can actually see everyone around.

Ok, now into the game. In IMO you get to choose 1 of 3 classes, mage, warrior or archer. Each with its own strengths and weaknesses, and a HUGE ammount of skills, going up to level 50. You start by distributing points into the different stats, but be warned, they're permanent and will affect you characters growth for the rest of the game, so be sure to check com2us' guides on that matter. After that a rather small screen for a bit of char customization, and you're thrown into the world.

So far the world is not complete, some shops are still closed, but the highest lvl maps go as far as lv 50 (the current cap) so don't get fooled by the map of the initial areas, there's much more underneath them, making the game have a huge ammount of contect from the start.
Additionally, Each 2 hrs there's a war amongst the 2 factions, where you get fame points and loot exchangeable for equips. other than that you can follow a (rather simple) storyline, and yes, grind. But the world is so involving, and there's so much people that soon you'll find yourself chatting, buying and selling and get even more into it.

It is rather hard to explain what makes a MMORPG any good, it is a genre you either like or you don't, due to the fact that it needs dedication (in the form of grinding and rare loot) but hell, if you're gonna get any MMO a chance, might as well be IMO, after all it IS free and you only need to pay if you feel like checking the market (not neccesary at all to enjoy the game, but a good source of money).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Review: Bombardier's Guild

Yes yes, I know that's an old game, but sometimes they don't get the highlight they deserve, and I really think this one deserves a lot of it.

BG is in a genre in its own, it is unlike anything, but if I had to describe it would be like, Worms, 1 v 1, with physics on steroids. In actual description, the game consists of 2 cannons, one yours and one of the enemy, localized in opposed positions in space. You shoot trajectiles, which are... well, missiles that are affected by gravity (like every missile), so far, pretty straightforward, right? Well, it gets complicated when you add planets with their own gravity in the middle of them, and that affects the path of the trajectiles, by a lot.

To avoid spamming, you can only have 1 trajectile fired at a time, and you objective is to destroy the other cannon. Although it starts easy (campaign wise), in the end each cannon has 2 shields, so potentially you need to shoot it 3 times, but not only that, but 3 times with different power. You see, due to the gravity of the planets, the more the trajectiles are wiggling around the pace, the stronger they get, and you need that, as the shields, to be powered destoryed need a single, very powerful shot, which means you're gonna have to play with the planets to get a very powerful shot to win.

Simple concept, hard execution. But how does that play out? In a few words, it comes from easy to very hard (at least for me) but it never stops being addictive. So addictive that I've come up with the term "frustratingly addictive" as, sometimes you just see yourself getting killed once and another time, but that never stops you from coming back to get a little bit more.

The game itself has a very unique GUI, and it all works out as to immerse you into the BG's universe, where they treat you like a trainee climbing up the skill ladder, rating your skills, the power of your shots and the achievements you... well.. achieve. And god it is a big ladder, with 3 difficulties that you scale slowly, in the beginning it is just mission based, but in the end, not only you have to win, but to win enough so that your rating goes up and you can go on the next challenge.

And if that wasn't all, it also allows for same-screen vs play, delivering truly a complete package.

Yes, I know, this isn't my best review, but this isn't the easiest game to describe. There are so many elements in this game, that even if this review didnt convince you, you still should check out the lite, and if it did convince you, well, you're in for a blast.

Bottom line: if you like being challenged and you like getting addicted to games, this is by far, really worth the 1.99, if not, check the lite.

Lite Version
Full Version

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Review: Solomon's Keep

Have you ever been in one of those days, where you really don't wanna do what you have to, and just like to wander around looking for what to do next? Well, today is one of those days to me.

As I was bored to no end, I looked over at TA's forums to see what I could find, what game I could get and play, something interesting to keep me entertained for a bit. I found this topic about this game, the title? Majorly unappealing, but hell, I was bored, so I went in. The Result? Fantastic.

Solomon's Keep is, in essence, a Dual Stick Shooter, and of those, there are many in the store. What keeps this game fresh is the implementation of a funny storyline (You are a Wizard student sent on a suicidal mission as your final test), which is told in a very cool way, along with RPG elements and a diverse cast of enemies and items.

As you start, you are presented with 3 wizards, a guide, a merchant (sells equips) and a magical one (sells exp or skills to your liking) and a key, should you want to ever go back there from your venture into the castle of the evil Solomon.

Once you enter the castle, you are greeted by skeletons, and archer skeletons, much in the like of Catacombs. But unlike that game, here the enemies actually get every time more diverse, stronger (at least in terms of defense, since I do my best to not get hit, after all, I am only a magician) and different kinds. It gets to a point that ever so many levels, you get to fight a really cool boss that drops tons of money and a really nice item.

Did I just say Item? Yes I sure did, this game also counts with equipment implementation, you can equip 2 rings and a staff to help you fight the forces of Salomon, and if that were not all, those equipments can also come in their different presentations, Normal, Magic, Rare and Epic, which you get from buying, defeating bosses and in the various money filled chests you find all over the levels (why do bad guys ALWAYS leave all that treasure laying around? Beats me, but that's good for you).

Is that all? Errr, not really, no. As I mentioned at the beginning, there are RPG elements in the game, that means, you level up. And each time you level up you can choose to upgrade one of three randomly shown to you options from the different skills you get throughout the game. There are 3 main "missiles", with many upgrades to them and also specials with screen filling damage, not to forget speed, mana and health upgrades.

All that... for .99, at least until April 11th. The game did freeze on me once though, but its autosave system makes it so that it doesn't really matter, so forget about anything you're doing now and just go buy this awesome and cheap game.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Review: Zombie Smash

I don't know about you, but as for me, I got my iPod Touch almost a year ago. At that time, I knew nothing about the AppStore, how it worked, nothing, but an App had won me over, that app, was Knights Onrush. I loved the concept of flicking baddies to kill them, back then, the only TD I had ever played was Plants vs. Zombies on my PC, so I knew pretty much nothing about the genre, which made it all the better.

Problems came, in the form of lazy developers, who abandoned the game when they had promised so much more, leaving us, the ignorants of the AppStore ways, to regret and hate them. But then, along came Zombie Smash, with essentially the same formula, to recover what other devs had stupidly let go.

Zombie Smash is a game in the same line of though as KoR. Here, you are protecting you house from a zombie attack, but this game does that so much better. With the implementation of multitouch, the game allows you to defend from zombies coming from both sides of the house, ending up in a much more frantic and fast paced experience.

As you'd expect, the game is full with different types of zombies, from the very simple ones, to the omg pain in the ass get rid of them first or you'll lose, to really make it a complete experience. Add to that a plethora of upgradable items to defend yourself (because, after all you are only human and so are your fingers) and you're into a very addictive and enjoyable game that consists of 31 levels of non stop zombie defending action. Too easy? Well, there's even a hard mode and achievements if you want to come for more.

All in all I truly recommend this game as it is very addictive and very enjoyable, even if you're tired of TD games, this game is different enough to feel new and give you that cool feeling that only games that are doing something right can give you. So what are you waiting? It is currently in a .99 easter sale, so go get it. Even if you miss it, the full price, 1.99, is well worth it.

Review: Tilt to Live

Since the beggining of the appstore, the developers have been trying to attract the thing everyone enjoys the most out of the capitalist system, money. With that, they've tried millions of different ways to attract customers to buy their products, and that made the appstore market we know today. With that, and the strong competition that there is, the devs started going from complex to more complex stuff, creating fantastic worlds, RPGs and such, but sometimes, a developer manages to cut out of this pattern and do something simple, yet great. That's where Tilt to Live comes in.

I must say, the first time I heard about Tilt to Live, I was skeptic, the name didnt sound like much, and I was (and am) tired of crappy little games that do nothing and prove worthless. Until one day, I ventured into the topic it had at TA. I fell in love immediately, simple concept: survive, simple method: tilt. Result: awesomely addictive gameplay.

What do you do in game? You control an arrow to dodge red dots, and eventually get a powerup to kill those dots in order to create a combo and score millions of points. Simple, right? But it is sooo well done, the humor in it, the way you unlock the powerups (which is by getting achievements, first time I've seen achievements actually be worth something more than the bragging rights), the colors, the music, it all blends so well it is really hard to stop playing this.

Do I recommend this? Yes, a lot too. For me this is better than most other "lets waste 5 minutes" games like Canabalt, and a lot cheaper too. For 1.99, you get a game I've been playing for a long time now.