Apr 24, 2012

Temple Run

If there's one game that's been getting the most play time on the family Android Tablet it's Temple Run. This free title has my six year old enthralled and it has impressed me as well. One reason it has impressed me is that it's free, but at the same time it's not just an empty shell meant to sell me stuff. Sure, I can buy extra coins, but they're kind of hidden off to the side within the game's menu system. It's not that 'in your face' stuff or ads in the middle of the playfield during the game.

Edit: A screen shot would be here if Google's blogger tool didn't suck... oh, how I need to migrate off of it.

What's Temple Run about? Well, it's been high on the Market's charts for a while so I'm probably a bit late to the table with this one. In a nutshell it takes those 2D games where you have to jump over and slide under obstacles as you run and turns that into a 3D experience. At the beginning of the game you've stolen the idol and come dashing out of the temple with several nasties chasing you down. You'll have to swipe left and right to turn, up and down to slide, and tilt to move left and right in an effort to pick up as many coins as you can along the way.

qrcodeCoins are used to buy power-ups. I have to admit, though, that we haven't spent much time focusing on that. Temple Run has been a fast paced arcade game in our household as we don't last much longer than a minute or two. In fact, my six year old proudly earned the Miser achievement yesterday... that's running 500m without picking up a single coin. She doesn't quite get that coins are good... well, they are unless you're trying to earn the Miser title which is another thing that makes the game quite cool. There are tons of different achievements to earn to keep you pushing for that extra mile meter.

I don't have much more to say about this one... it's free, it's fast, and it's fun. 5/5 stars. Get it if you haven't already.

Apr 18, 2012


When I got my now dated Android tablet roughly a year ago there were a handful of games targeting its Tegra 2 chipset. Worse yet, those games cost substantially more than most other Android Market games (over $5). So, as fate would have it, I ended up picking up ShadowGun on the iPad first and loved it. It offered a very high quality first person shooter experience that controlled well. I almost let temptation get the best of me and wrote an Android review based on the iPad version, but I resisted, eventually got the Android version of the game when it went on sale, and (finally!) here's the MeAndMyDroid.com review.

ShadowGun's plot is simple and unexceptional. You are a futuristic bounty hunter invading Dr. Edgar Simon's fortress and have to battle past all of his droids and cyborgs. You're dropping in on the outskirts of his fortress and maintain contact with your commanders who feed you information throughout the game. Graphically the game is very sharp and it isn't that far behind modern console quality games. Actually, as more games of this quality appear, it makes me want to get a USB pad hooked up so I can use it instead of the touch screen as appropriate (not that this game supports that).

Everything is controlled by the touch screen with the typical on-screen gamepad on the left and on-screen buttons on the right. The on-screen game pad floats which, as I've said before, makes it much more accommodating. The game has a great tutorial to get you going and the difficulty ramps up at a pace that's just right. You'll start off with the basics of moving and looking around, firing your weapon, using controls panels to unlock force fields, and eventually be killing off a few, easy cyborgs. You'll soon be in the thick of things taking on multiple bots and automated weaponry just minutes into the game.

qrcodeBefore writing this review I did do one final test and that's to download the game on my phone (a single core Epic 4G) and run it through the paces. It installed just fine, but did load/run a bit slower although at an acceptable pace. One thing I was curious about was how well the game, after playing it on tablets, would adjust to the small screen size. Well, it's smaller and I must prefer playing on a tablet, but that shouldn't really be a surprise. It was however fully playable even though it was graphically jerkier. Actually I was surprised that a game of this caliber player as well as it did... at least until it force rebooted my phone. That didn't surprise me. All in all I'd say that if you've got a higher end phone you'll probably be fine, but anything less than a dual core phone comes with a warning.

All in all I love this game. It's a solid piece of work such that if you've got a device with the power to play it then it's a 5 star title. I would tend to stick with Tegra devices (and there's also an enhanced Tegra 3 version available), but it ran better than expected on my feeble Epic 4G albeit with the reboot. 5/5 stars.

Apr 4, 2012

Train Crisis HD

I'm slowing down on my Android game reviews in part because of how disgruntled I am becoming with the freemium model. I can't tell you how often I download a 'free' game only to be asked to pony up cash if I want this feature or that feature. I don't necessarily have a problem with the core idea of pay for play... it's really not too dissimilar from the coin operated arcade games I grew up with. It's more that it's not advertised clearly up front which is all part of the marketing technique of sucking me in and then asking for cash.

However, I did get Train Crisis HD this past weekend and was expecting another 'me too' Flight Control style game with trains. What I got was something quite different. Yes, in Train Crisis you're trying to land your trains in the correct stations and you have to make quick decisions to avoid the other trains, but it introduces much more of a puzzle element to the game.

For a start the game the game offers the usual tutorial mode. Each level requires you to click a start button to launch the trains in motion and then you can tap on the various screen elements to guide the trains appropriately. Every level has the standard switch to choose between this track or that track, but additional elements are added such as crossings that allow you to temporarily stop your trains or track debris which must be dynamited away with a limited supply of dynamite. The thing that really makes this game a standout is how well the puzzles progress, but moreso how much thinking one has to do before even putting a train in motion on the later levels. Each level requires analysis as to how to get each train from point A to point B, and then a bit of memorization, and then perfect timing of the required set of events you'll need to execute to complete the level.

qrcodeTrain Crisis doesn't stop there, though. It offers some beautifully rendered graphics of not only the trains, but rivers and grazing sheep. For a puzzle game it's also quite pretty. The game is a little short on levels with just 42 (2 sets of 21) and I'd say perhaps 5 of those are really just simple tutorial levels which I can really count as levels. However the game is just a buck and it's easily (and I mean EASILY) providing a dollar's worth of entertainment without trying to sell me additional levels once I made it through the tutorial. 5/5 stars. Oh, and if you just want that sneak preview to avoid that costly dollar plunge there is a demo available, too.