Jun 29, 2010

See the Light (Announcement)

Sorry for the lack of reviews this past week... I've been away at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, OH  since last Wednesday as I was helping FRED Distribution demo their games. I always bring my laptop and had hopes of getting a couple of reviews in while there, but I really didn't have time to play Android games at all.

In the meantime here's a press release that came in last week for a new game from Brian Sowers called 'See the Light'.

"A puzzle game set in deep space, See the Light challenges you to manipulate light using mirrors, lenses, energizers, absorbers, and other tools to solve 80 levels. See if you can overcome increasingly tricky puzzles while unlocking every award!"

Jun 22, 2010

Boris the Bullet Dodger

Boris the Bullet Dodger is a long name for a simple game. In this game you are Boris and you're headed north while dodging bullets. The rules of this one are pretty much contained in the title of the game which is good because the game doesn't include or need any. Then again, it might be motivational to know some of the cool power-ups that await me should I choose to persist at my mission. I'm also at a loss as to why he's dodging bullets as the enemy is nameless and faceless... perhaps some sort of new fangled Russian Roulette variant as Boris is of Russian descent.

Controls are basic... tilt left and right to move Boris. Furthermore, Boris can wrap around the edge of the screen which is a blessing and a curse (not to mention a surprise for me) as it's hard keeping track of what might be coming down the other side. However, once all is said and done this isn't really anything more than a variant of the well known SFCave game... just stay out of the way of obstacles. The major differences are the controls (SFCave uses the touch screen) and power-ups. I have to give the nod to SFCave with respect to controls... I find the tilt control used here troublesome. It works when I have time to plan, but falls miserably short when I have to make a split second dodge as I either under or over play my move often zooming across the screen into oncoming fire. The power-ups, on the other hand, are a nice touch. There are vehicles to ride in that absorb oncoming fire... there are toys to pick up like a hurricane that clears the screen of bullets... there are bombs to stay away from (like I need more stuff to avoid).

If the controls were better or I had a choice to use the touch screen or something this game would rate higher. The poor controls made the game very frustrating. I'm curious if other devices have better sensitivity to tilt than the Droid after playing this and seeing others praise this title. At a dollar it's not a major financial commitment (and that's about where it should be priced given the simplicity), but the controls leave this game as a mediocre experience in my book. 3/5 stars.

Jun 18, 2010

AutoBall Football

We've got a decent soccer game... a great hockey game... a solid baseball game... but no decent football games. Why? Why? Why? Football season is right around the corner so now is the time to strike. Enter AutoBall Football from Antithesis Design. AutoBall Football is unique. I've never encountered a football game remotely like this so let's take a look.

First, the instructions are hard to understand. There's something about playing cards up and down (yes, playing cards as in a standard poker deck) and fewer cards are better. After reading them I wasn't much better off. Then you'll pick a team and a name and you'll be playing. Next, a dice roll is done for the kickoff although the meaning of the rolled numbers is a secret... it's certainly not in the single page of instructions so I don't know when to get excited (I think higher is better after running through a few kickoffs). The graphical display isn't bad with tiny little players running about and doing their business. Then it's time to choose a play... Do I run? Do I pass? Does it matter? I don't think it does, because either way results in me playing a simplified game of Klondike Solitaire. I'm presented with 7 stacks of 5 cards and another draw pile of 16 cards. I then have to play cards from the top card on each stack onto my draw card such that I'm playing sequentially 'numbered' cards. My goal is apparently to play as many of the 35 cards as I can and the better I do then the better my play execution and yardage gain is. There's also a bonus for playing a series of 10 cards or more before having to draw another. But do I really want to play a full game of Klondike for every play? I think I made it through 3 plays before getting a headache.

Then there are other options such as Kings on or off. What does it do? Who knows? Who cares? I'm bored and I'm sad... I thought maybe we had a decent football game, but the wait will continue. About the only thing I can applaud with this game is innovation and the willingness to try out a new idea. Unfortunately it falls flat. 2/5 stars for a game that works, but strikes out.

Jun 17, 2010

Droidkoban 3D

I've been meaning to review this title for awhile, but it's gotten interesting. At one time the developer was giving away copies to anyone willing to write a review. Now the game is free and the developer is asking for donations. I say the developer needs to just let things take their course... the game is good (and I'll talk more on that) and there was a free, lite version already. I think sometimes a rookie mistake is to get too desperate, too quickly. No need to do that here...

Droidkoban is a Sokoban clone using the Android mascot as the main character in the game. As stated the game is now free, but the developer does ask for a 2 euro donation if you like it (which can be done by buying 'Droidkoban Donate'). Differences? First, the game features a 3D environment. For Sokoban that's just a gimmick. Sokoban is all about great puzzles that require thought and, unlike many of the physics puzzlers, it's not just a festival of trial and error. As you zoom out, however, the game's play area does flatten if 2D is more your thing, although I think the flattest mode requires a bit too far of a zoom out. Next, the game features 2400 puzzles... that's less than a tenth of a euro (or penny) per level. If Sokoban is your thing then there's a lot of entertainment here for a small price (assuming you're honest and donate to cover the hard work that goes into a game).

The graphics are tile based and are average. The 2400 levels are broken into six themed areas such as a winter one where you're pushing black hats onto snowmen. Sometimes the zoom level of the 3D gets in the way of the puzzle solving... make that often. I find it far easier to zoom out... think about the puzzle... and then zoom back in to execute my solution. The game will play music that can easily be disabled while you play... average audio. The controls are quite flexible... use swipes to move, a DPad, a keyboard, or even a trackball (if I recall correctly). The only problem with swiping is that there's a menu along the bottom that needs to be tapped to active it. Swiping once might activate it if your swipe reaches a bit too low on the screen and swiping twice would then click a button on it. That did accidentally happen to me a couple of times... and the button I hit was the one on the far left which restarts the level. Aaargh!

The game isn't perfect, but the developer has regularly updated it and hopefully will continue to do so. I'm sure some support would encourage that. I did experience a force close while messing with some of the options, but not while solving a level. The game also features an undo option which steps you back by the movement of one object (i.e. not just a move, but rather you have to have actually moved one of the objects).

What would I like to see? A dedicated 2D toggle... a way to scroll around on the map without affecting anything... and dare I say leader boards based on who has conquered the most levels (not times... that's silly in a game like this, although the game does have a timer so you can track how long it first takes you to solve a level). Unless you abhor Sokoban give it a try now that it's a freebie... this is some good work. 4/5 stars.

Jun 16, 2010

Sniper Vs Sniper: Online

Sniper Vs Sniper: Online (SVS for short) rocks! This game is a blast to play. I'm normally not into playing games over the Internet (and know I'm in the minority given my passion for gaming), but figured with 'Online' in the title it might be a good thing for me to exercise that portion of the game before writing a review. Conclusion? Great game! And I'm glad it made the jump from the iPhone.

In SVS you play the role of a sniper. Your goal? Shoot the enemies! This isn't a deep game... just a fun one, and a great game for mobile devices. Once in a game you'll be looking at some scenery and will have to target the enemy (or enemies). You can zoom in with binoculars or get an even closer look with your sniper rifle along with firing a shot. Binoculars give you a wider view and are a better choice for finding your target.

The graphics are nice... the audio unobtrusive... and the controls are great. Plus, I'm not seeing any real slow down during play which is important for a pseudo-twitch game like this (which further puzzles me after seeing some in Com2Us's prior release... then again I suspect Heavy Gunner is a much more taxing game). For those wondering, yes.... there is a set of solo missions and this game is not limited to online play. I suspect Com2Us could advertise that better as that was an initial concern of mine... especially if I'm in a 'no coverage' zone. Controls are simple... tilt back and forth or up and down to move your view around and find enemies. Tapping on the screen changes modes between full view, binoculars, and the sniper rifle. Tapping also fires if you've got your rifle in hand. There are also a few on screen buttons to change between the modes and game play is smooth.

Network play? There's a '1 on 1' mode and an 'Alliance Attacks' mode. 1 on 1 is just that, and Alliance Attacks is essentially a team play mode. Plus you get to play with those owning the iPhone version of the game so jumping into a game took a max of a minute during my network play session in mid-afternoon. I played a couple of 1 on 1 games... first played against a guy from South Korea that got me twice, I then got a head shot in, and he dropped yielding a victory for the USA! My next opponent was from the USA and was clearly better than me having playing 17 games to my 1... the game does do some balancing though. After getting it it gives the hit player a bit of help in finding the opposition. My current ranking puts me around #90,000... I am that good.

Single play mode starts off with some basic target shooting of police targets in batches of 5 at gradually increasing distances before jumping into snipers that shoot back. I enjoyed single player mode just as much as network play. I'm also going to be honest... this isn't a game I can see playing for hours on end. It has levels, but all you're doing is sniping progressively more difficult targets and opponents. I love it as a mobile game as I typically want something I can play for 5-10 minutes which waiting at the post office, during kid bathroom breaks, or what not.

Summary? This game is $2.99 and is a whole lotta fun. I've loved sniper games ever since Silent Scope on the Dreamcast and while that game had more of a story the sniping is just as good here. Network play is the icing on the cake. 5/5 stars and I pretty much knew that after about 2 minutes of play. Here's a video (from Com2Us and the almost identical iPhone version demoing online play mode):

Jun 14, 2010

Sniper Vs Sniper Online is Here

Sniper Vs Sniper Online from Com2Us is now available for the Android. This is a networked sniper game where you play against others over the Internet and has been my top desire to see make the leap to Android from Com2Us. Here's the trailer for the iPhone version (as they don't have the game listed on their website as I write this):

PAC-MAN Championship Edition

Namco is one of my favorite game companies. The realization of this occurred when I had the original Playstation and they released such greats as Ridge Racer (probably the game that sold me on the system), Air Combat, and 5 volumes worth of the Namco Museum series which included a picture perfect rendition of Galaga and several other games, such as Assault, which I grew to love.

This week saw the release of PAC-MAN Championship Edition (or PMCE) at an eye popping price of $6.99. I suppose that's not that big of a surprise considering PAC-MAN is $6.99. I think I got too used to Apple App Store prices where PMCE is $2.99 and went on sale for $.99 last month. But I don't think anyone minds paying $6.99 if they're going to get their money's worth which in my book would be several hours worth of enjoyment (based on the price of other entertainment mediums).

PMCE is a variation on the original that adds different mazes that don't all fit on screen at once so that they have to scroll back and forth. The bigger difference, however, is that you're juggling the left and right sides of the maze by clearing them, eating the fruit that appears on the other size which then repopulates the maze with new eats. The game also adds a timer and flashier graphics with a hypnotic maze pattern when you've eaten a power pill, sparks as you anticipate turning a corner (and sparking for a second is an achievement), and ghosts that get faster as you eat more (and slow down once they've got you). When all is said and done the game is enjoyable, but I'm not really convinced that this is an improvement over the original.

When writing this review I was initially concerned based on some of the Market feedback claiming the game is a lousy port of the iPhone version. After trying it for myself I have to agree that this game does have problems and I don't even understand why. PMCE can't be that taxing of a game on system resources... not compared to a game like Heavy Gunner. And then we've got HyperDevBox making games that run as smooth as silk on the Android without any excuses. In a nutshell, PMCE has slow down problems... yes, the same old problem that plagues way too many Android games and is why I can't consider the Android to be on par with the iPhone for gaming even when ignoring the quantity of game titles. In PMCE that are little lags, but I also had a few big lags when the game just slowed to a crawl and wouldn't recover... and this problem occurred JUST in the game... I could pause and view menus just fine. I also trying killing all of my tasks before playing to see if that would make a difference and after waiting for apps that auto-restart (such as my news app) to start back up I still saw the same performance issues. Not a crowd pleaser for a $6.99 game.

In summary, Namco... you're still a favorite, just not on the Android. You need prices more in line with the competition and quality in line with what you should be capable of. PMCE is not junk... it's like a delicious dessert minus the sugar and now that you know it's missing your answer should be "no thanks"... at least not until these issues are fixed. I'm also wondering why these issues exist (as they're not just Namco issues). Are these games tested on a fresh device without any other software on that's plugging away in the background on our multi-tasking phones? And then they hit the real world? What? As for PMCE it's 3/5 stars and my recommendation is to wait for the sugar.

I also have an issue that Namco has NO mention of the Android on their website. They have several Android games and they have a separate iPhone section on their website. I guess we're second class citizens to them... second class citizens that want to pay triple for the priviledge of having Namco games. (Heck, I can't even find Namco's Android games in their Mobile section.)

And I'm really getting plagued by these slow down issues on so many games. I played with my old iPod Touch over the weekend and no such problems exist. In fact I'd say it's the ultimate mobile gaming platform right now due to it's size, price, and the abundance of quality freebies on the system nevermind all the great paid ones. I'd start thinking these problems are caused by some app I put on my Droid, but I haven't changed things in months and some apps like the HyperDevBox and Polarbit ones are smooth as silk. It's got to be a programming issue... it just has to be... I'm also wondering if Froyo's supposed speed improvements will help. And that's coming out when?

Jun 12, 2010

Furry Legend

Furry Legend arrived in the Android Market a day or so ago and looked to be a solid platformer. Even the "it's not my kind of game" review in the market gave it 4/5 stars. Furry Legend is actually based off a WiiWare game and has made it to a few other mobile platforms such as Brew. So what is this game all about?

In Furry Legend you're a Furball and you roll around the 'planet' picking up gems for points. The game has a similarity to Sonic the Hedgehog, but a Furball's normal speed doesn't match that of Sonic's. The game comes with a cute little background story complete with cute little graphics showing some background to the limited story, but who needs a story if the game is good?

The graphics are very good with a bright and colorful world and the animation is smooth (unless background tasks come to life while playing which seems to plague so many Android games). The game also has a nice, unobtrusive audio soundtrack that does wear thin after too many repeat cycles. The audio can be shut off, though, so no complaints. The controls consist of several on screen buttons coupled with DPad support. There are five directional arrows (left, right, and then jumping left, up, and right) and what is effectively an action button which allows your Furball to move a lot faster and/or attack. The game plays slow enough that using the on screen buttons worked for me and I really didn't have a preference in this game (which is odd for me based on my negative feelings towards virtual DPads).

The game plays like an action puzzler... you'll generally have time to plan what you're going to do, but then you'll have to muster up the dexterity to get those buttons pressed correctly in order to run, speed up, jump... etc at the right time. I had a LOT of difficulty getting past the first level due to a long jump that you have to make close to the end of the level. If you visit the company's web site you'll find that one of the hints is that "The faster you roll the farther you jump" and when using FurPower (fancy talk for the A button) you do accelerate. It took me about 20 tries to finally "get it" after becoming frustrated with the "Help" option (which isn't really help at all, but rather a summary of both the controls and what gems / hearts do).

Flaws? Other than the familiar slow down I didn't really find any excect for... well, let me back up. With my old iPod Touch I rarely experienced any major issues. Occasionally some apps would be sloppy with memory (that's my theory) and require me to 'reboot', but it was only after extended usage. One benefit the iPod Touch has (until OS 4.0) is no multitasking and not having to cooperate with other running apps makes things a lot simpler. When I exit some Android apps... usually heavy duty games... I get the impression that they don't actually exit which makes sense given that it's a multitasking OS in some sense. I know I've had games continue playing music after quitting and part of that is the lack of enforced standards that the iPod Touch has in place. So let's make a long story short and note that one time I exited this game and my screen went white and I could no longer do squat with my phone until pulling and reinserting the battery. I'm sure I didn't choose exit, but rather hit the home button so you could argue that I didn't do things right and should have exited properly. I'd argue that this kind of behavior will aggravate the average user. I'm going to be learning more about this soon as I delve into mobile programming so maybe I'll have some more insight and be able to more intelligently write about this. In fact, forget that this paragraph is part of this review as it's more of a general commentary and has little to do with Furry Legend.

In summary, this is a well done game that improves the state of Android gaming in a Market where I'm starting to think that 19/20 game submissions are complete junk. I was happy to see a decent Lemmings style game a few weeks back and now we have another good platformer. I'm getting a bit stingier as the quality of Android releases goes up. This game is a solid 4/5 and perhaps a bit better than that. I've got a sample video from another platform below that should provide a basic idea of how the game plays (although the Android version uses a wide screen for more on screen action) and at $1.99 this game is definitely worth it.

Jun 8, 2010

Heavy Gunner 3D

One idea I've tossed about for a great game on the Android (and the iPhone) is a BeachHead style game. If you haven't played it, essentially you're in a bunker on a beach and troops are invading. The version I've played at Chuck E. Cheese's has a set of goggles that you look through and control is done by spinning around (yes, you look like a fool while playing) and tilting up and down to aim and then pressing buttons to fire machine guns and bombs. Unfortunately, the motion detection in a Droid wouldn't be up to that task based on how well it tracks in Google's Sky Map application. Enter Heavy Gunner 3D...

Heavy Gunner 3D appeared in the Android Market last month and has been on my try list primarily because it's a Com2Us title. I really like their HomeRun Battle 3D game and have a respect for their work (despite some recent issues reported with the Android version of HomeRun Battle 3D). The screenshots made me think it was some 3D space flight shooter... close, but not quite.

Heavy Gunner 3D puts you in the role of defending your home world against the alien hordes. And you have two guns that you control with left and right virtual thumb pads. The aliens then appear and you have to blast them out of the sky one by one. One of my initial complaints was that lack of any instructions, but they are there buried in the Extras menu.

The graphics on this game are great in Com2Us style as is the audio. No question that this is a professionally developed title. The more interesting aspect of the game is the controls. You can choose to use the accelerometer to move around and scan the sky for aliens in conjunction with your radar or the touch screen. I found the accelerometer mode to be the much more interesting experience... besides, I want to save the touch screen for blasting. As stated each gun has its own virtual joypad to control it and they also aim independent of one another... each has its own on-screen site so you can double up the fire on one baddie or pick on two at the same time.

The game has three difficulty levels in a campaign mode, but also offers what is effectively a free play mode where you try and survive to specific lengths of time. I spent most of my time in the campaign mode. As you play you are able to upgrade your weapons and there's a dazzling array of armaments to choose from.

Problems? The game isn't without fault. At times it becomes a bit jerky, but I really think that has more to do with other apps running in the background. I also got my usual SportsTap crash during the game which has become a sign that "this game is really taxing the phone you have" and is more of a badge of honor for a game title in my mind (I only wish I could find a good replacement for SportsTap). The game also crashed outright on me once leaving my audio clicking away with gunfire while everything else froze. Finally, it took me SEVERAL tries to get the game to succeed at doing it's initial data download trying over both WiFi and 3G.

In summary, this is about as good of a Beachhead experience as I've had on a PC or mobile device. And at $2.99 this is a good deal of a game. I'm also really pleased to see Com2Us start offloading data to my SD card which starts becoming a moot point once Android 2.2 is widely available this time next year (yes, sarcasm). If you'd like to see more the iPhone trailer is below and it's pretty much a mirror image of the Android version. 4/5 stars.

Jun 6, 2010

COPS: High Speed Pursuit

I'm not a huge fan of racing games, but when Need For Speed added a pursuit mode that got my adrenaline flowing. The idea of being 'on the run' or chasing someone 'on the run' is a thrill and was a great idea to expand the car racing genre. So when I saw COPS: High Speed Pursuit I was definitely on board and actually pretty excited as at $3.99 it had the smell of a premium title.

In COPS, a game which is indeed modeled after the TV show with 'Bad Boys' theme music and all, you represent the law. You'll have to chase down an outlaw and apprehend them. This is done by racing along which is controlled via tilt and a touch screen brake and accelerator. Unfortunately for me, the accelerator is positioned right next to the back button so occasionally while focusing on the action I find myself accidentally at the pause screen. I believe other phones have a button, whether it be back or something else, pretty close to it as well so who knows what will happen... not the best design in my book. In any event, you have to drive along and catch up to the offender, and then you have to wait until you have a chance to apprehend them during which a box will be drawn near the vehicle and you have to stay inside of that box for a second or two and then tap the screen to end the chase. First, I don't know what the accelerator is used for... when playing the game initially I figured I'd have to race to catch up to the bad guys that are surely speeding away. But I just tested the game and was able to catch up with them in a comparable, if not identical, amount of time without ever using my accelerator (which means I was driving along as a leisurely 40 mph). Second, it's VERY difficult to stay in the 'magic box' for any length of time and then tap the screen and consequently the game seems ridiculously hard with little reward for persistence. In other words, while I'm tilting left and tilting right to steer my way into this magic box my boredom meter rises way, way faster than my excitement meter does.

The graphics are fair to good with a background scene like a city or mountains that you can never reach. Trees and signs roll by with little other interesting scenery. And the road itself is odd... it never really bends... it just takes a sharp 20 or so degree turn and then it's straight again and then another 20 degree turn back and so forth. After playing Raging Thunder 2 or Asphalt 5 these graphics quickly become very stale. And the audio is solely the constant blare of a police siren. I suppose that's better than playing 'Bad Boys' throughout the game, though. The controls are also less than perfect as the steering is just not smooth... I have to turn a little either way before I start seeing any response from my car. And then there's this weird glitch where I'll drive off the side of the road and 'poof' I'm back driving on the road again, although perhaps that's a feature (ha ha).

I had big hopes when I saw this game that were dashed when the first one star review on the Market showed up. I never put any real weight on those though as I rarely find the Android Market to be a good place for insightful commentary so I had to take a look for myself. One star is probably a bit weak and it feels weird knocking a game that has had far more work go into it than say the "All in 1 GameBox', but ultimately it's because I seriously doubt that the results match the intentions for this game and ultimately it was just dumped out the door. So I can only guess that we'll hear how weak Android sales are versus iPhone sales?

I just verified the link for Hands On Mobile's website and was actually quite surprised to see some of the quality titles that this developer has pushed out although said titles are for the iPhone. So I checked out the scoop on the iPhone version as they display several 5 star reviews on their website (and I should also note that the photo is of the iPhone version and the Android version differs slightly). The reality is that several 5 star reviews and an overall 3.5 star review means several 1 star reviews were also submitted in the Apple App Store. Furthermore, the iPhone version of this game has seen a few updates to correct various issues with the game and we get version 1.0. My summary? 2.5 stars for a game that needs more worth to be worth $4. Stick with Asphalt 5 and Raging Thunder 2 for now even if you like the idea of a pursuit mode as much as I do.

Jun 2, 2010

Meteor Blitz is Available

Meteor Blitz arrived in the Android Market as a Motorola Droid exclusive and it looks like a Geometry Wars style game. I wish I understood just how hard it is to make these games work with the other, similarly (or superiorly) powered devices as I don't understand releasing games for just one model of Android. 3D Studio has been releasing Droid only 3D shooters for a while now and STILL hasn't addressed it as an issue (they just released 2 more Doid only games this past week).

In the meantime, if you do have a Droid and 25 MB of free memory then this looks like a pretty hot game. Here's the trailer from the iPhone version. Hopefully I can delete enough stuff to, at least, temporarily make room for it such that I can do a review soon.

All-In-1 GameBox

I'm not a fan of the 'all in one' game collections as they generally consist of a bunch of games that can't make it on their own all cobbled together as if a big pile of crap is better than a small pile. Suffice it to say that when I decided I'd give this title a try it was for two reasons: a) it's cheap and b) I was looking forward to writing a scathing review filled with wit and cheap shots.

First, the games... All-In-1 GameBox includes:
  • Fruit
  • Reversi
  • Memory
  • Sokoban (50 levels worth)
  • Solitaire (Klondike, Spider, FreeCell, and Forty Thieves)
  • Flip-Flip!
  • Lights Out (100 levels worth)
  • Fireman (100 levels worth)
  • DoDo Go Home
  • 15s Survival
Many of these are pretty well known staples of entertainment such as Reversi, Memory (i.e. Memory Match with anime characters... Naruto, I think), Sokoban, and Lights Out. If you're not familiar then fortunately the games all appear to have built in instructions. Fireman is slightly different take on Sokoban... instead of pushing blocks you're pushing water droplets to put out fires, but once a fire is out it is no longer an obstacle (unlike Sokoban).

All of the games have fair graphics and little sound to report on. The controls are touch screen friendly, but also take advantage of the Droid's DPad (and I'd suspect work with trackballs too). In all fairness, many of these you can get separately for free so if all you want is a Sokoban game then this is probably a waste of a buck. But the game's as a package are of decent quality with a game like Reversi actually offering some challenge during play that I think this is easily worth my dollar. Again, nothing is going to stand out or wow anyone... this package is all about decent version of classic games, the convenience of having them in a single package, and the value it provides for a dollar. It also appears that the author adds games to it occasionally as it's still listed on their website with just 8 games. 3.5/5 stars.

Guess the Number

Rejoice, Android fans! Moppin' Hip has some much needed competition. 'Guess the Number' has FINALLY made it to the Android Market! In this 'oh, so exciting game' you have 21 chances to guess a number from 1 to 1,000,000 and every time you are wrong you'll only be told whether your guess is too low or too high. It's $.99. I won't get into the math behind why this 'game' is stoopid... this just seems like it would be someone's first programming attempt vs. a paid app. And apparently someone bought it and gave it 3 stars despite stating how quickly it becomes boring. I wonder if Apple would have accepted this kind of trash in their App Store?

Jun 1, 2010

Crusade of Destiny

If there's one thing that Steve Jobs has absolutely right with his arguments against Flash it's that things are changing and mobile computing is different than desktop computing... more specifically there's no mouse, no left/right clicks, and clicking itself is different. Personally I'm having trouble letting that go. One thing I love about the Droid is the keyboard and DPad. Unfortunately the Droid's keyboard has been heavily criticized and newer devices such as the EVO 4G and the Droid Shadow exclude them. What does that have to do with Crusade of Destiny?

Often, with games it's all too easy for developers to port the old ideas to new platforms and ignore the new platform's strengths. Crusade of Destiny is a solid 3D action RPG experience, but what really makes it shine are the controls. Yeah, it still has the virtual DPad for running... but other than that things such as talking to the game's many characters and reading sign posts, looking around, ...etc are all done with the touch screen as appropriate instead of cluttering the screen with a mouth icon and an eye icon and so forth. Aside from the virtual DPad for movement there's a sword icon and some character info (that can be touched to get to the usual paper doll character sheet) on the screen and nothing more. I'm also starting to think it would be neat if the accelerometer was used for running instead of the DPad, but one thing at a time. The bottom line is that the controls are very well executed.

I'm sidetracking too much... because this game is great and polished and fun and an easy 5/5 star title (if not better). Crusade of Destiny starts you off in a village... you have to go and seek out the town's elder. There aren't too many people in town so he's not that hard to find. I don't want to give too much away, but it's the familiar peasant to hero storyline. The 3D graphics are gorgeous with good attention to detail making the game that much more immersive... I'd have been happy had I purchased this on Xbox Live Arcade, but to have it in my pocket...WOW!!! One thing I'm a believer in is that mobile gaming should be mobile gaming. I don't necessarily want an epic experience from a mobile game and would often prefer a game I can pick up and play for 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there. Crusade of Destiny is more of an epic type game, yet it's been easy to play a little of here and a little more of there... probably because it's not an RPG that involves hours of reading (I still remember playing Star Ocean on the Playstation for the first time... an hour later I hadn't done anything, but read), but instead allows you to jump right in.

The game's combat is also well done... the first thing you'll fight are beetles and you simply equip your sword, stand next to one, and start whacking it (and it starts whacking you). Pick a fight with something too big and you'll be toast... oh, and the monsters will semi-intelligently chase after you.

I'm not sure what else to say as I don't want to reveal any game play elements and as stated do not expect a deep plot, but rather a more arcade oriented RPG experience. For me I love it. I'm also a big fan of the King's Field series on the Playstation and this game brings back some of that feel although it's snappier and more responsive. Here's looking forward to Land of Legend (their forthcoming release). I'm also wanting (and planning) to review Zenonia which has been well received just to see how it compares. Nonetheless, regardless of any other Android Market titles we've got ourselves a quality RPG and a company that plans to support the Android going forward. If adventure is in your gaming bag then you'll definitely want this one... go get it!