Sunday, October 21, 2012
Sunday, October 21, 2012 Syntheticvoid 1 comment
Kemco is very easily one of our favorite RPG developers/publishers here at The App Shack. Their previous games; Symphony of Eternity, Alphadia, Eve of the Genesis, Fantasy Chronicle and Grinsia have all received glowing 5 star reviews. So you can imagine our excitement when we got an e-mail earlier in the week letting us know that their newest English translated title had hit the US AppStore; Dark Gate. Not only did it have the potential for fantastic translation, an incredibly immersive storyline, lovable characters and depthy gameplay, but, because it’s from Hit-Point, the studio that brought us Fantasy Chronicle, arguably one of the best classic Turn-Based RPGs available in the AppStore, also had the potential to completely blow us away.
Now, before we get knee deep in gameplay mechanics; the story. Dark Gate tells the story of Leo, a young man who’s been chosen to lead a group of warriors, from high ranking generals kin down to old drunks, on a mission to find and destroy the Dark Gates, and find out why they‘re popping up, as they’re the cause of the onslaught of monsters appearing throughout the land.
There is a pretty large cast of characters to be found in Dark Gate, and you‘re able to switch these characters out at the Guild‘s HQ in Polaris, the land‘s centermost city. The story unfolds and expands depending on who you’ve got in your 4 member group. You’re also able to choose, level up, and master over 70 different job classes. Along with the job classes, you’re given equipable perks which allow you to have one job class, but use skills that you’ve learned while leveling up another. In essence, you could be a warrior, but be able to cast ice, wind and fire magic, so long as you’ve leveled up those job classes and have those perks equipped. This makes for an incredibly deep customization system that doesn’t only result in sword wielding magicians. You can also level up jobs for other warrior types, and have a spear warrior that’s proficient with using bows, and large shields, or a healer that’s skilled with hand to hand combat.
On top of this, there are spell orbs that fill up during battle, with each character able to have 3 orbs full at one time. These orbs are used to cast spells and, if you have more than one orb full and have a character that’s learned two different elemental skills, you can combine these spells in one attack. For instance, if a character has 2 spell orbs filled, and has wind and ice spells active, you can cast an ice attack, and then tap on a wind spell, merging the two, and using up your two spell orbs for one incredibly strong attack. The same applies for warrior skills as well, merging a fire spell with a special sword attack will combine the two and give you an incredibly strong, fire-based elemental sword attack.
All of this did throw me for a loop when I first started the game, and if you’re not consistently leveling up job classes, and fleshing out the members of your team, chances are you won’t get very far, and a lot of enemies, even enemies in the beginning of the game, will be able to cause one hit kills and will take no damage. Learning what elemental types the enemies are in each area is essential, and if you’re having problems with a certain monster, you can almost always find something out if you exit the area (which can be done very quickly in the pause menu so long as you‘re not in battle, which is great if you‘re in real trouble) and go back into town, stopping in at bars and civilian houses.
With all of this depth in skills and job classes, it is pretty surprising that each of the 4 areas you’ll be making your way through all have the same set of quests; Defeat X number of a specific enemy, take lunch to the soldier, deliver this weapon to a soldier, collect X number of coins, destroy the dark gate, ect. This is really my only complaint. I will say that a deeper help section would have been great, but it’s not required, and the quest variety is really the only aspect of the game that seems to be lacking.
The graphics and animations are all very familiar, and there’s a good reason why. Dark Gate was developed by Hit-Point, the developers who also created Fantasy Chronicle. The extremely polished and old-school graphics have been carried over to Dark Gate while still having their own flavor and look. Each area is designed very well, with winding pathways, dead ends and semi-hidden areas all with the classic top-down viewpoint. Towns, on the other hand, are set up horizontally, like a side-scroller, with the Inn to the far left, followed by the towns Guild, Weapon+Armor shop, Potion shop, bar, Guild leader’s home and then two civilian homes. Moving throughout the town is done by tapping on the building you want to move to, and then tapping again once you reach it. It does take a little time to get comfortable with and there are some times you’ll want to exit the town, which is right next to the Inn, and instead, be asked if you want to stay at the Inn, but it does help to distinguish the game apart from Fantasy Chronicle even more.
Like Kemco’s other releases, you are able to have these touch to move controls in areas/dungeons as well, but can also select to use virtual controls if you’re more familiar with that set-up. The touch to move controls do a very good job of pathfinding, and avoiding objects within the world, which is essential for making the control scheme comfortable.
The dialogue is, as you would expect if you’re familiar with Kemco’s previous releases, very well done, with only minor grammatical errors throughout the game. The words are also never cut off, or wrapped around to another line, so understanding what’s going on is never a problem. I know that this may sound trivial, but after you’ve played RPG after RPG with words that are cut in half, or wrapped around to another line or dialogue bar, you really do notice when it’s done right, and have a hard time taking it for granted.
Now, there is a new addition to Dark Gate, something that’s never been added to a Kemco game in the past, and that I was actually very surprised to see. IAPs. That’s right, premium currency, known as Dark Gate Points. There is a premium shop in Polaris that lets you purchase and spend these points for premium items like increased experience gain, increase job point gain, gold gain, heightened item drop percentage, movement speed increase, hard difficulty, and more, including quite a few premium weapons and armor items. Dark Gate Points can not be earned in-game, so the only way to get these is to shell out some extra cash. The items in the premium shop are priced reasonably when compared to how many DGP you get should you decide to purchase any (400 for $0.99, 1250 for $2.99, 2100 for $4.99, 4500 for $9.99), but none of them are required to progress through the game. With the IAPs, it seems that Kemco has gone ahead and lowered the original pricing for Dark Gate as well. Instead of being priced at $8.99 like their other titles, Dark Gate’s original price will be set at $6.99.
You can pick up Dark Gate now for $0.99, as it’s on sale for launch. Unfortunately, like all Kemco titles, it’s not Universal, so if you’re a graphics fanatic, you might be disappointed, but when it comes to old-school influenced RPGs, graphics aren’t really too important. Dark Gate is easily the deepest Kemco title released to date, and if you’re looking for an RPG with an incredible amount of customization and variety with perks and skills, Dark Gate should be right up your ally. There is a pretty steep learning curve, and if you don’t go into the game knowing that constantly upgrading jobs and switching perks are critical in progressing, you’ll have a hard road ahead of you, and might even become frustrated enough to quit the game. But if you’re ready for a challenge, and willing to take the time to learn, experiment and are not opposed to teaching your sword master how to cast fire spells, it’s well worth the purchase, effort and time, giving you one of the deepest RPG games available for the iOS.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Saturday, October 20, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
It's not too often that I'll play through a game on my iDevice, and then right away, go back and play through it again. But the charm, polish and downright crazy entertainment value of Grumpyface Studio's Bring Me Sandwiches!! has given me hours upon hours of gameplay. Not only have I 100% completed the game, but I've done it multiple times, and it's still on my device and opened on a regular basis one year after it's release. If you're a fan of wacky games or awesome platformers, Bring Me Sandwiches!! is a MUST OWN.
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.0.1
A lot of gamers have been wondering, when will Adult Swim put out games that aren’t mere flash games ported to the iOS? Well, wait no longer. With their release of Monsters Ate My Condo, developed by PikPok, Adult Swim Games has shown that they’re willing to support developers who have an insanely good idea packed on top of insanely weird gameplay, and with the recent release of Bring Me Sandwiches!!, developed by Grumpyface (who also made a favorite of mine, Wispin), they have started their trend of weird, but crazy good games that seem to hit every single one of our brain’s addiction centers.
The game Bring Me Sandwiches!! is a plat former that puts you in control of Jimmy Nugget, an ordinary fast food employee. It’s your job to create sandwiches that an invading alien race is craving, and in return, they’ve promised not to destroy Earth. You’ll need to carry around a piece of bread, and run over objects, in turn, making the sandwich. Once you have made the sandwich 100% full, you need to find one of the various aliens floating around the levels, and give it to him. Each level has an objective at the beginning, sometimes you’ll need to find a cat and put it on the sandwich, other times, 6 chickens, or 4 sandwiches. In the case of multiple sandwiches, each time you take a 100% or more complete sandwich to an alien, they will give you another piece of bread, and you can then pick up bigger items than the last one, generally ending up with you picking up small buildings and people and placing them on the bread, making it a sort of feel like a plat forming version of Katamari. There are also 3 different “golden bread”, like stars, to try and get in each level. One for score, one for time, and one for completing the level without getting hit a certain amount of times.
There are 4 different environments, each with 6 to 8 different levels. You’ll travel from the US to Mexico, Italy, and Japan, each time having different objects in the levels, different enemies, as well as, of course, different looking environments. The graphics and animations are done amazingly well, with almost everything in each level being animated, and the graphics almost fitting perfectly as an extension of the crazy Monsters Ate My Condo. The music also just tops it off, completing the crazy cartoon world experience.
Now, controls. Controls are always a huge part of plat formers, as are physics, and Bring Me Sandwiches!! is no exception. Amazingly enough, there are 3 different control options, and the virtual buttons that are one of those options is not the tightest, most fluid feeling control scheme. For once, an invisible slider on the left side, and jump tapping on the right is incredibly accurate and tight, and leaves the bottom parts of the screen open and un-cluttered. There are also tilt controls, but there’s not many who favor those in plat formers, though if you are one of the few, they are tighter and more accurate than most. Combined with the perfect physics of the Bring Me Sandwiches world, the game comes together to create an amazingly smooth, perfectly fun plat former, that doesn’t require you to think about the controls at all while playing.
Grumpyface has shown that they know exactly what it takes to reach gamers addictive habits, exploiting them in a way we here at The App Shack can’t help but love. Following the new $0.99 trend with Adult Swim games, the amount of content, and crazy gameplay makes it a must-buy for fans of any iOS genre. GameCenter is included, giving us 13 different leader boards, one for combined score, one for combined time in each of the environments, as well as overall, and a total sandwich ingredients board, along with 22 crazy achievements to try and snag, adding tons of replay value. This is one game you don’t want to miss, as it’s one of the best plat formers available for the iOS. It’s also looking like the beginning of a trend we don’t want Adult Swim to stop; Crazy games that are insanely fun to play for the low-low price of one dollar. How could we ask for more?
Friday, October 19, 2012
Friday, October 19, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
It's not very often that a game comes along and just completely blows us away, so much so that we're driven to stop everything until we 100% complete that game. Last year, Yuguosoft released such a title; Robo5. Not only did we sink an insane amount of time into this one, but we didn't stop until we completed every single level, unlocked every achievement and, at the time, had the #1 spot on each of the leaderboards. Better yet? It can still be found on both my iPod and iPad. For those of you who aren't familiar with Robo5, it's basically the AppStore's Catherine, minus the sexual innuendos and mature story line. Robo5 does contain a story, but it's more along the lines of 'who am I?' and 'what am I doing here?'. If you're looking for a top notch puzzler, Robo5 is definitely one game you NEED to check out.
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.0
Puzzle games have gone in all sorts of different directions since the iPod came out. The openness of the AppStore, coupled with the mind blowing amount of talented developers, and the range of possibilities that the touch screen brings to the table makes for some very interesting games. However, it kind of seems like puzzle games have hit a rough patch. Almost everything entering the AppStore these days is a physics based Angry Birds or Tiki Totems type game. So it was a real surprise when I started up Yuguosoft’s new action puzzler, Robo5.
In the game, you’ll control a robot who’s trying to find out who he is, and why he is here. You’ll solve a series of box moving puzzles in order to move through the worlds. Each of the levels has 3 stars that you can earn, one for completing the level in a set amount of time, one for collecting all of the items, and one for having under a certain amount of box moves. Every time you earn 20 stars, a Diary, or challenge, level is unlocked. These give you more back-story on Robot Number 5, and the world he lives in, and when you complete the Diary levels, even more is revealed.
The controls in Robo5 are simple enough, tap and swipe. You’ll tap to move to a box, and swipe to grab and move boxes. You can also tap on the box you are already standing on to hang off of the side of it, enabling you to move around piles of boxes that might be in the way. You’ll need to move boxes around opening and creating pathways to get to the top of, and the exit, of the levels. In order for a box to stay in the air, or be held up, it needs to be touching another box on one of it’s 4 bottom edges. There are different types of boxes, expanding the puzzle element quite a bit. Along with the regular boxes, some will crumble after standing on them twice, some will start to count down from 5 and then explode after you step on them, some boxes can float in the air, some give off electricity shocks, and there are some which are shown with a big “?” on them, and these can turn into any type of box after you touch them, so you never really know what you’re going to get with them. Put all of these together, and there’s some pretty wild puzzles that you will need to get Robot Number 5 through in order to make it through the game.
The graphics are amazingly detailed, and some of the best I’ve seen in an iOS game. I would put them up to par with Unreal Engine graphics, even though they did not use Unreal to create the game. The atmospheres are very immersive, and along with the animations for movement, and the music within the game, it creates quite an amazing world.
With Yuguosoft pricing both the iPod and iPad version at only $0.99, it’s an amazing buy. It’s taken me about 10 hours to get to the last level of the game, which I am currently stumped on, but I still need to go back and get 3 stars in about 25 of the 40 levels, not including the 7 out of 8 Diary levels I have yet to complete. GameCenter integration completes the game adding quite a bit of replay value, even for gamers who manage to get 3 stars on every level. 6 leader boards, one for a combined score in each world, and one for your highest world score, along with 32 achievements, some being very hard to snag. For a puzzle game, Robo5 goes above and beyond the expectations of gamers, and gives them an incredibly immersive, amazingly thoughtful and enriching gameplay experience. I really can not recommend Robo5 enough, to any and all gamers. The difficulty in the later levels is pretty high, but once you get to the end of the levels, the feeling you’ll have is more than enough of a reward. Yuguosoft has definitely created a contender for Game Of The Year, and over the last week has easily moved into my top 5 of 2011, and has set a new standard for action puzzle games of the future.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
It really feels like we’ve been reviewing quite a few RPGs lately. Maybe it just feels that way because I’ve gone back and re-played through Chrono Trigger, Vay, Symphony of Eternity, Fantasy Chronicle, Eve of the Genesis and Osiris Legends recently, also while playing through Lunar Silver Star Story and Dragon Knight 4. Well, another one caught my eye this week, Lakoo’s Demon Souls (not to be confused with the PS3 title, Demon’s Souls), and I couldn’t help but jump on it. Am I happy I did? Well, once I put my Pokemon hat on, yes, I am.
Starting the game up, it’s clear that DemonSouls very story driven. There are tons of story sequences, though you're able to fast forward through them. You take control of Thunder, a young fisherman/hunter who’s overly confident and dreams of bigger and better things. Living with a young women, River and her grandpa, Thunder helps to provide the village with fish and help out whenever he can. While out helping another village member, Thunder comes across a dragon and a mysterious man who gives Thunder the power to control the souls of demons with a demon soul jar in order to defeat the dragon. Cheesy? Yes, you could say that, but it makes for some pretty interesting gameplay. Once you have the demon soul jar, you’re able to capture enemies within the game by getting their HP down to a certain amount. Once you do, an icon pops up and you can then capture and use them in the future.
DemonSouls is pretty much like your typical Action RPG. After going through story sections and while finishing quests and objectives, you’ll be mashing away on the attack button and using spells (or your captured demon’s in this case) to clear out monsters and raise your level. The controls in DemonSouls could use some tweaking. At the moment, there’s only 4 directional movement, up, down, left and right, and really, I can’t stress this enough; Once you’ve played a game like Crimsonheart, with it’s 360 degree movement, anything but just feels clunky. It doesn’t help that the game has a low frame-rate, adding to the jerkiness of the movement. With the 4 directional movement, you’re given one button for attacking and actions, with 4 icons around it which you’ll able to use to summon demons. An icon for capturing enemies appears only when you’re able to capture an enemy, and appears above the uppermost summoning icon.
In the top left, your character’s HP, MP and XP are all gauged. Tapping on this takes you into the game’s menus where you’re able to allocate your earned points for leveling up, equip Thunder, use potions, go through your captured demon souls, merge items, forge items, go through your journal, check out the map and enter the settings menu, save, load, view the help file, check our your achievements or exit to the main menu.
The demon capturing and forging systems are a bit of a saving grace for the game. Once you capture an enemy, you’re able to equip it and use it’s powers in battle. You can also sell these enemies at shops, or use them in conjunction with weapons to forge stronger weapons. There is also a pretty shallow elemental system, with enemies having either Fire, Water or Wood elemental bonds, and using opposite elemental weapons against them helps in defeating them quicker. With the game’s enemy capturing system, there’s pretty much always a new enemy to try and capture and use as one of your own, mixing in a sort of Pokemon-esque system to the hack-n-slash action. You’re also able to collect soulstones which let you create demons, though these are few and far between, and if you don’t save them, you might wind up having to purchase them via IAP if you’re wanting a new monster later on in the game.
The graphics are decent enough, though there are items in the world that are outlined in blue, or that just don’t look like they fit within the area you’re in, and as mentioned already, the frame-rate does add some jerkiness to the movement, but it’s nothing as bad as Legend of Master 3, where the whole screen jerks when you move. The animations are designed nicely, but it would have been great to have more attacking animations included. The story is translated very well, but unfortunately, the text does sometimes reach beyond the screen, leaving the players to try and fill in a couple of words every now and again. On top of all of this, the music, though fitting for the game, isn’t looped correctly, and can be kind of distracting.
Now, even with these little issues, DemonSouls has some interesting gameplay mixed in. The demon collecting adds a nice layer of depth the gameplay, and the story allows for multiple endings based on how you decide to interact with the other NPCs. This does help to make DemonSouls stand out in an over-saturated genre. Priced at $1.99 and being Universal, even with the 4 directional movement and slightly cheesy storyline, DemonSouls is definitely a game that fans of monster collecting and hack-n-slash gameplay should check out. Lakoo has done a great job of mixing the two genres together, and hopefully the game will get a boost in the framerate and some tweaks with the music looping in an update soon.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
Back in July, we had the chance to review Starbounder, a level-based star-ship ‘runner’. Unfortunately, we did have some issues with it; no GameCenter support, and it was a bit bland, needing something more than nice level design to push it forward. Yesterday, we got our hands on Inverse Blue’s (developers of the speedrun plat former, Little Acorns) Skyriders, and were instantly reminded of Starbounder, which also had us wondering if Skyriders could excel where Starbounder didn’t. By the 4th level in the first zone, we had our answer. Yes - by leaps and bounds.
Skyriders puts you in control of an alien in a UFO as you travel across 5 zones and 40 levels collecting stars, boosting, comboing, building up your score, changing polarity and basically just trying to stay alive throughout the insanely well designed levels. With GameCenter integration including 6 leaderboards, one for each of the 5 challenge levels and a total score board, along with 32 achievements, there’s loads of replay value here. At the end of each Zone, there is a challenge level that strings together the last 7 stages in one long level, giving players the chance to build up massively big boost streaks, and huge scores. Luckily, that’s not the only thing pushing players to go back and replay levels for better scores and perfect runs.
The game also includes an upgrade system where you can spend points to increase your Star Grabbing range, Boost Combo Time, Score Multiplier, Acceleration Speed and Shield Power. You’re given one point for every 1 million total points that you score, with each upgradeable stat able to be increased 5 times. Not only does this help to increase your scores and get through the levels a little easier, but with the score increase upgrade, it also allows for replaying of levels again after fully upgrading in order to try and totally max out your score, moving up the leaderboards.
The graphics, physics, level design and animations are top notch as well, helping to drive the action packed gameplay forward throughout all 5 zones. Like just about all games, the first zone is fairly easy, especially after you get a hang of the changing polarities and physics that feel like they were ripped out of a skiing game, pulling you down to the lowest part of the track, you’ll be able to use the spot on controls and physics in conjunction with the level designs to pull off some pretty slick moves, increasing your score, and upping the game’s entertainment value. The graphics, while pretty generic, are still very polished and smooth. There’s nothing that’ll really stand out, but in a game where what you’re really focusing on is the next jump, how to use sections of the track properly, collecting stars and avoiding hazards, graphic sections of the world, making anything but what you need to focus on your focal point of attention, would become bothersome or just be avoiding anyway. And on lower end devices would also result in lag and frameskips, hurting the gameplay as well. That’s not to say that the graphics here are not special, all of the starry backgrounds and lit up tracks work exceptionally well together, creating a universe that lets you focus on exactly what needs to be focused on. The animations for jumping and speeding up look great, and do add to the atmospheric feeling found within the game as well.
Aside from the amazing level design, the polarity shifting is really where the challenge for scoring and getting perfect runs comes in. Your character is able to double jump. Each time this happens, the UFO’s polarity changes. At the beginning of each stage, you’re usually able to choose between going after Red or Yellow stars first, this will have a pretty large impact on how you play through the rest of the stage. Once you start, the first star that you collect will give your UFO it’s beginning polarity. In order to collect more stars, there-by carrying on your boosting streak and combo, you will need to double jump, changing the ships polarity color. Each star that you collect fills up your boost meter, which is also filled by running over the boosting pads on the tracks. The larger your combo, the bigger your score, and the closer you’ll get to that next upgrade point.
With the GameCenter leaderboards, achievements and upgrades driving the replay value and drive to perfect your scores, along with the 40 very well designed levels, options for touch and tilt controls and smooth gameplay, there’s a lot to love in Skyriders, especially being Universal and priced at $1.99. If you’re a fan of platforming racers, or arcade, high-score driven games, it’s definitely one that you’ll need to check out. Aside from Skybounder and Cosmic Cab, this 3D, behind-the-back, racing platforming genre really doesn’t have much competition, but at the moment, Skyriders has set the new standard for what’s expected in future additions to it. What makes it even better? There’s no IAP to be found anywhere within the game. If there was ever a perfect, shining example of an indie made title to model your game after, this would be it. Inverse Blue has done an outstanding job here, and I hope we get to see much more from them as the AppStore grows and expands even more.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
Kemco is easily one of our favorite RPG publishers here at The App Shack. With their previous titles; Symphony of Eternity, Alphadia, Eve of the Genesis, Fantasy Chronicle and Grinsia all receiving perfect 5 star review ratings from TAS, we've been extremely excited to see what Kemco would bring to the AppStore next. Late last night we received an e-mail that Dark Gate had been translated to English, and would be available for purchase today. This morning, we awoke to see it. Dark Gate. And not only that, but Kemco had priced it at $0.99 for launch, which will eventually rise up to $6.99 soon, so if you're even the slightest bit interested in Turn-Based RPGs in the same vein as Square's FF series, you'll definitely want to check this one out.
Dark Gate tells the story of Leo, a young man who's been recruited to help seal the Dark Gates popping up all around the land which are the cause of a spreading monster presence. Dark Gates is the first Kemco title, and actually, is the first Turn-Based RPG that we've seen on the iOS that automatically has an automated battle system. Here, you do not need to worry about hitting 'auto', or about deciding to attack or use an item. If you want to preform a special task, you can either tap on your character on the battle screen, or tap the menu button at the top right, allowing for you to have more control over the battle if you choose to. You're also able to fast forward through these battle sequences, resulting in less time being spent in battle, and more time being able to focus on the story and other aspects of the gameplay.
Another huge inclusion; job classes. There are over 70 jobs which your characters can switch between, depending on what they've learned, what items they've gained, and what other skills they've received throughout the game. Not only is there a depthy job system, but there's also a huge cast of characters, each one effecting how the game plays out if you decide to take them with you, as well as what ending you'll unlock at the end of the game, allowing for replay value, which is something we don't normally see in the RPG world.
Feel free to check out the trailer below, or head on over to Kemco's official Dark Gate site to learn more about the game, and as always, we'll be posting up a review as soon as get deeper into the game. If you can't wait (we don't blame you) - you can also head on over to the AppStore, and pick up Dark Gate for a measly buck before it goes up to more than a pack of cigarettes. Hopefully we'll be able to get our review up before then so that we can help you decide if Dark Gate is really for you, but as with just about every price shift in the AppStore, no one really knows how long this sale will last, but you can expect our review ASAP.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Sunday, October 14, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
Rubicon's Great Big War Game, the sequel to their first TBS title, Great Little War Game, has just received yet another update. What's been added this time? How about iPhone 5 and iCloud support! Now you can play the game on your 4 inch screen, and be able to transfer data between devices. iCloud support has been one of the most requested features since Great Big War Game's release back in July, so it's great to see it finally implemented.
If you haven't picked up GBWG yet, you can check out our 5 star review, watch the trailer, or just head on over to the AppStore and pick up one of the best TBS titles available for the iDevice!
Sunday, October 14, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
Updates are a huge part of the iOS gaming scene, and it's always great when a huge one goes live. This morning, I woke up, checked my updates, and saw one for Cubemen, a 3D TD/RTS hybrid developed by 3 Sprockets, and was surprised to see all that had been tweaked and added to the game. Here's a list of new features and improvements;
>Level Editor including level creation, sharing & favorites
>Local Mayhem games (no need for online connectivity at all)
>Added random tower placement option in defense (unlocked per level by getting platinum)
>Added reverse tower placement in Skirmish Mode (local and online games)
>Added brand new music tracks with custom music theme selection options per game mode
>Added volume controls for Music and SFX in game options and in game
>Added music selection control in game options and in game
>Added smarter AI
>Added Level Theme skinning gallery and ability to create custom themes to share
>Improved level selection
>Made in game scores the same calculation as end of game scores
>Brand new Cubemen original music score available as an album (available soon)
>Updated pathfinding library for better performance, lower memory usage and fewer crashes
>New local Mayhem Level - Empires
Yeah, that's right, a LEVEL EDITOR! Now, I will say that not many games with level editors really keep me coming back time and time again, and there's very few gamers out there with the skills required to create levels worth sharing, but it can be incredibly fun to mess around with for a while, and if you are one of the few that has some nice level design skills, it gives you the chance to create and show off your ideas. On top of that, all of the new tweaks and features look like they add a ton to the gameplay, and if you have Cubemen already, you know that these are some additions that weren't really needed, but now that they've been incorporated, have put Cubemen at the top of the genre, and make it a must own for fans of TD/RTS hybrids.
If you've yet to pick up Cubemen, it's $2.99 and available for the iPad. You can check out the trailer below, and if it strikes your fancy, pick it up! You won't regret it.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Saturday, October 13, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
It's kind of strange that we haven't had many new shmups hitting the AppStore lately. With the amount of them that were being released about 6 months to a year ago, it's just weird that we haven't had but a couple over the last 3 or 4 months. Well, one that's been on my device since it's release is Latansia's EnbornX. With it's endless gameplay and fantastically randomly designed enemies, I was hooked from the beginning. Since it's release it's received a couple of updates, one of which added relative touch controls into the mix. If you're a fan of wild way out there huge ass robot anime bad guys, you'll definitely wanna check this one out.
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.02
Shoot-em-up games have been making a huge comeback over the last couple years. Mainly because you can now play old favorites like R-Type, Earth Defense Force, Galaga and Battle Squadron as well as newer games, like Fast Striker, Deathsmiles, ESPGaluda and DoDonPachi all on a mobile device with touch screen controls that make previously hard to pull off with a joystick moves as easy as swiping your finger across a screen. Mixed in with these classics and new favorites, we’ve been given quite a few new and amazing bullet hell and shmup titles. Enborn-X, by Lantansia, is yet another example of this.
This endless boss battle structured game is a blast to play. There’s two different control methods, both being tight and easy to use. One option is a joystick, while the other is relative touch control, and both have 3 different buttons for attack options. Each attack has it’s own percs as well as weaknesses. Your spread shot can cancel out certain types of shots from the bosses, while some projectile shots go right through your bullets, a laser that you need to charge while avoiding the onslaught of bullets coming your way, and an incredibly strong up close and personal punch attack that, well, you need to be up close and personal to use.
In order to max out your score against each boss, you’ll need to pick them apart, destroying them piece by piece. You can go straight for the middle of them, destroying them fairly quickly, but doing this will cause your score to suffer quite a bit, and in a high-scoring game like this, that’s a big no-no. For each piece of the boss you destroy, you’ll rack up points while shooting that piece, as well as get a bonus score for destroying it before moving on to the next piece. Starting at the edges and moving inward is essential, but also comes with quite a bit of risk. Generally, the edges of the boss are the pieces that shoot out the most bullets. This means you’ll need to get use to weaving in and out of them while attacking instead of staying in the middle and slightly moving to avoid the missiles and big lasers that you’ll usually find there.
The graphics and animations in Enborn-X are very exuberant, and it can sometimes be hard to focus when each new boss is spawned from the orb that you’ll be fighting. The animations for this are great, each bit being flung out of the last in true overdone anime style. In short, it looks awesome. The animations for your character are pretty typical of shooters, but match the style of the game very well. It would be nice to see one or two more moves incorporated to the melee attacking, as right now you punch twice over and over again, adding in a kick or super twirl punch or something would have been a great addition, but as it is, you’ll be focusing more on how much damage you’re doing with those punches than what your character looks like while pulling them off. The sounds and music go together with the anime style too, being full of energy, and adding to the overall feel of the game.
Now, with the game being done in true anime style, it’s amazing that it’s only $1.99, as most anime entertainment is usually premium priced, and with the amount of replay value, and the sheer exaggerated amount of action that’s in the game, $1.99 is a great price. EnbornX is also Universal, and compatible with iCade, giving gamers even more reason to lay down a couple bucks for it. Of course, a high-scoring game like this wouldn’t be complete without OpenFeint and GameCenter leader boards, now would it? Highest score and highest stage boards are included, as well as having 15 different hard to snag achievements. Lantansia has proven that they can make an over the top game that fits within the growing genre as well as expands it. Hopefully we can see another mode or maybe more weapons and characters in future updates, but right now, if you’re a fan of the genre, Enborn-X is a great buy.