Friday, December 21, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012 Syntheticvoid 4 comments
Well, it’s time once again; Kemco has released yet another top-of-the-pack Turn-Based RPG in the AppStore. Fans of Kemco know that just about every RPG that this studio has published carries with it some fantastic old-school gameplay, rivaled only by a few select developers, and able to hold their own up against the monster that is Final Fantasy. So, what has Kemco brought to the table this time around? How about a sequel to one of their previous games, the EXE-Create developed title; Alphadia 2.
Alphadia 2, as you surely must have expected, jumps into the world of the original Alphadia, only 200 years after the events in the original. If you’re familiar with the original, you will be running into some familiar faces, as some of the characters from the original were designed clones, they are still around 200 years later. The Schwarzschild Empire is also still playing a roll and the Lightning Guild an even bigger one, and Energi is still a force that drives battles, assassination plots and wars.
This time around, you’ll be following the story of Leon, a young Energi Guild member, Milfy, a researcher for The Guild who’s also connected to Leon’s past, Enah, who’s from the first Alphadia title, and Guildmistress along with others who will join your party along the way.
All available members of your unit will always follow along with you, but you are only able to have a party of 4 enter battles. However, since other members follow along, you’re also able to switch out members for others if you so desire. Alphadia 2’s customization is almost exactly like the originals. Each of your characters will have a main element in which they’re proficient in, but you’re also able to level up other elements by equipping your characters with rings which you’re able to attach elements to. Once you equip your character with an elemental ring, they will start learning skills based in that element. Aside from that, Weapons and Armor are the only other items that you’ll have control over, and stats are increased on their own by leveling up your characters.
If you remember playing through the original Alphadia, one of things that probably stuck out above everything else was the amount of battles you encountered. Thankfully, the grind has been lowered in the sequel, and progression through the story flows a lot quicker because of this. Also, leveling up of characters and skills has also been tweaked so that you’re not required to enter as many battles as you were in the original in order to gain skills and become stronger. However, gaining of currency is something that you might find yourself needing to grind for if you’re interested in always having the strongest gear, though this is by no means necessary in order to play through the game.
Graphically, Alphadia 2 follows the same look as the original, but adds a bit of polish on top of it. It still retains it’s retro feeling throughout, and environments are again maze-like in structure. Though, as mentioned, with the number of random battles that you’ll be thrown into, getting through buildings, castles and dungeons is done at a much quicker pace.
The menus are fairly different than the original’s, with more polish and easier navigation. The battles are also easier to get through since you’re able to use the d-pad and action button to select actions instead of having to reach up into the screen to tap on the action you want to perform. Along with the Auto battle option, Alphadia 2’s user interface has been restructured to allow for quicker and easier selection throughout the game, which is a great inclusion, and pretty much takes care of what you would expect a sequel to take care of.
Like all other Kemco titles, the translation is near perfect, with only minor grammatical errors here and there, allowing for players to fully understand the story and plot. This also helps players to become fully immersed in the story and characters, who, like previous titles, will grow on you fairly quickly.
With Alphadia 2 launching at a special price of $2.99 instead of it’s original $6.99, it’s a great RPG to pick up for fans of the genre. If you’ve yet to be exposed to Kemco, Alphadia 2 would be a great jumping off point, and one that you don’t need to know the ins and outs of the previous Alphadia in order to fully enjoy. The only negative thing I can say about Alphadia 2 is that the game is not Universal, which means that iPad owners will have to play in 2X, but with the iPad 3 and 4’s ability to smooth out the graphics of 2X gameplay, this is becoming less and less of an issue. Alphadia 2 is optimized for the widescreen of the iPhone/iPod 5 as well. Kemco has proven, once again, that they are capable of being named along with Square Enix , Quest, Beam and others in the old-school RPG category.
Friday, December 21, 2012 Syntheticvoid No comments
I remember way back in the year 2000 when I encountered the game American McGee's Alice. It was bold and took a fresh point of view at one of literature's most beloved characters/fantasy world. Somehow playing through that game changed the way I look at, or imagine, Wonderland for the rest of my life. Now I feel nostalgic or reminded about those times having to come across March on OZ.
City State Entertainment's first title for the iOS is a game that transports us to their own rendition of the magical land of Oz. Here, you play an unnamed protagonist which you'll create/customize, that is whisked away by a tornado (like Dorothy) into an alternate version of Oz, only to discover that the realm is in dire peril under the invasion of the evil, mechanical looking, gnomes. Being convinced by the good witch Locasta to assemble and lead the Ozian Army of Resistance against the forces of evil, you march on a military campaign through the Yellow Brick Road towards the mystical Emerald city.
This is a strategy game that uses a lane defense system where you place an Ozian unit on a particular lane/area to stop a wave of marching enemies. Pretty much, the gameplay mechanic is quite similar to Plants vs. Zombies but offers more depth and flows at a much faster and exciting pace. In this game you can discover, or learn, battle formations that have a specific function and perk, summon a band of flying monkeys by using a magical golden flute to eliminate opposing units on a lane and have unique/hero like units that you can put on the battlefield once thus setting it apart from PvZ.
Each level of the game has a four star objective system for rating your strategic or gaming skills and 3 different difficulty settings. It also features unlockable content such as mini games, comic strips of the story and an encyclopedia of the different creatures/characters you'll encounter in the world. Giving it a lot of the replayability options which most of us yearn for. Being equipped with an online file saving interface you can also be rest assured that your progression is safe and can be revisited.
The narration of the story is set on a humorous tone with quirky animated characters to discover as you go along the way. With a beautiful BGM/soundtrack and a lush rendered 3D environment, it makes the game feel more alive rather than dull or soulless, thus making me feel engaged and emotionally invested towards the game.
My only critism about March On Oz is the level select section that's not fixed yet as you can only replay the tutorial levels, though the developers already said they are working on a fix that is to be uploaded soon. It's very hard not to love this game as it is very polished and exuberates with much artistry. The game also has a lot of features we request and yearn for in the mobile gaming world and has no IAP offering what so ever, which is pretty rare nowadays. The developers passion for making the game is felt on every detail or facet you come across as you play on. If you are a fan of Strategy or Tower Defense games be sure to check this title out.
**This review has been contributed to The App Shack by Alister from the Touch Arcade Forums**
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Thursday, December 06, 2012 Syntheticvoid 2 comments
DotEmu is definitely up there on our list of developers who do an amazing job with porting games to the iOS. R-Type, King of Fighters, The Last Express, Metal Slug 3, Blazing Star, I could pretty much list their entire catalogue when talking about great ports available in the AppStore. Their most recent release is no exception, and this time around they’ve brought another classic to the touch screen with Raiden Legacy. Not only have they ported over this must-own shmup, but DotEmu has also included 3 other Raiden titles in the package; Fighters, Fighters 2 and Fighters Jet.
For those of you who are not familiar with Radien, now is a great chance to get acquainted. Not only will you be able to see where quite a few other shmups were influenced from, but you’ll be exposed to a hardcore shmup on par difficulty wise with bullet-hell titles from the likes of Cave and Doragon (Sunny Tam), as well as many other titles from non-iOS development studios. It’s always great when games can still hold their own after 20+ years.
Not only does Raiden feature stages packed full of power-ups, loads of enemies and quick action like just about every other shmup out there, but it also incorporates some great features that help it to stand out, like bullet grazing, quite a few on-screen projectiles (at the time of it’s original release, it was known for having ‘loads’ of bullets, and even today is considered one of the first steps that brought shmups towards the bullet-hell subgenre) and a nice scoring system that includes the bullet grazing along with medals, two ‘secret’ items; the Fairy and Miclus, and end of level bonuses that multiply your remaining bombs by the number of medals you’ve picked up in the stage. There are also other little features that make the gameplay more interesting; various enemy projectiles, some of which can be ‘absorbed’ by your own shots, quick moving ‘grouped’ projectiles reminiscent of bullet curtain shots and a larger-than-the-screen play area that you can use to your advantage, like being able to avoid enemies as enemies that are not on-screen can not shoot at you.
Along with the original Raiden, Raiden Fighters, Raiden Fighters 2 and Raiden Fighters Jet are also included, all of which feature some of the same great mechanics as the original, including bullet grazing, medals and more. One of the major differences, aside from the graphical improvements, is the addition of numerous ships, each with their own strengths and weaknesses as well as some enhancements to the scoring system, charged shots and ‘slave’ ships that have a direct influence on the medal system. Needless to say, once you learn the ins and outs of each games scoring, they become a lot more difficult, as well as raise up the replay value and general fun factor of the games.
Each of the 4 titles have the same game options. If you’re familiar with DotEmu’s previous releases, you pretty much know what to expect. You can change the game’s volume level (though you can’t change the sound effects and music volumes separately), turn video filtering off or on allowing for you to experience the games in their original pixilated graphics, or more ‘modern’ smoothed out graphics and switch the aspect ration between ‘original’, which puts a ‘dead zone’ at the bottom of the screen, and ‘full-screen’ which takes up the entire screen. You’re also able to adjust the controls by placing them anywhere on the screen, turn auto-fire on or off and switch between the original arcade ship speeds, adding quite a bit to the strategy and ship selection decisions, and fast touch, allowing for near 1:1 movement and speed.
Along with the ‘typical’ DotEmu game options, you’re also able to choose between two difficulties for each game, Medium and Hard as well as play through the original Arcade Mode, Mission Mode which lets you play through single levels that you’ve unlocked by playing through Arcade Mode, and Training Mode, which gives you a chance to practice levels with unlimited continues.
Of course, an iOS shmup isn’t really complete unless you’re able to chase other players high-scores. Raiden Legacy is supported by GameCenter and features 8 Leaderboards; two for each of the 4 titles, split up by difficulty. Along with the 8 Leaderboards there’s also 15 Achievements, most of which will take some pretty slick gaming to unlock. Along with all of this, Raiden Legacy also features iCade compatibility, giving players the opportunity to have an almost exact copy of the original arcade experience.
There is one minor issue that I’ve run into while playing; starting the game back up after pausing it will give you a black screen for a second. During this second, the game has already started which can result in some very unnecessary deaths. But aside from this, Raiden Legacy is a near perfect port, as you might have expected coming from DotEmu.
Priced at $4.99 and being Universal, Raiden Legacy is an incredible deal. If you told me years ago that I would be able to own Raiden for a mere 5 quarters, I would have laughed in your face. Shmup fans looking for a hardcore gaming experience up to par with the bullet hell titles available on the iOS would be doing themselves a favor picking this collection up. However, if you’re not very good at shmups, you should keep in mind that the Easy difficulty has been taken out of each of these games, so there just might be more frustration in here than you’re willing to deal with. With that in mind, it should also be said that DotEmu has done an incredible job in the past with adding tweaks and features to games based on customer and gamer feedback, so there is a real possibility that Easy could very well be added to the games in the future, so you just might want to keep an eye on the updates for Raiden Legacy in the future. Personally, I’ve got to put Raiden Legacy in my top 10 favorite iOS games of 2012, and it’s definitely a must-own for shmup lovers.
Thursday, December 06, 2012 Syntheticvoid 1 comment
First off, thank you all for bearing with us over the last month, but you'll be glad to hear that we're on our way back. Starting it all off, here's a list of Review Rewind games that we were unable to post over the last month;
Universal - $0.99
Eve Of Impact is easily our favorite Missile/Base Defense title on the iOS. It's beautiful and slick graphics help to make the game incredibly immersive and the strategic gameplay having a direct effect on how many humans are saved, how many asteroids you'll need to destroy and how you play the game in general is some of the best we've seen within the genre. Developer Rik Schennink recently updated the game to include Universal support along with some tweaks to the game, like making it so that not every asteroid will collide with Earth, adding another layer of strategy to the gameplay. If you're a fan of high-score chasing endless arcade titles with a fantastic atmosphere, Eve of Impact is definitely one that you should check out.
[Chocolate Liberation Front/MTV]
Universal - $0.99
Chocolate Liberation Front's atmospheric platformer, Oscura, has been a favorite of mine ever since it was first released. Even though Version 1.0 only featured 7 levels, it has since been updated with another 5 bringing the total up to 12. Granted, that's not many when compared to basically every other platformer out there, buck luckily, those 12 levels are incredibly well done, and offer enough replay value to make the game worth purchasing. Each stage has a possible 4 star ranking based on how quickly you complete the stage, if you can collect all of the light shards in a stage, another for collecting all of the gears and lastly, one for completing the level without dying. Also included in an update was the addition of virtual controls. Sadly, there is no GameCenter integration, which would have been the final feature needed to give the game a 'complete' feeling, but even without it, Oscura is still a platformer that we highly recommend.
iPhone - $0.99
Miss Claire Garden, developed by Chris Neveu, was my favorite iOS platformer for quite some time. Incredibly reminiscent of Super Mario Brothers 2, with it's pick-up-and-throw-enemies mechanic, it featured some Metroidvania type gameplay and upgrades as well as incredible level design and very responsive controls. Still on my device today, and still in my top 5 favorites in terms of iOS platformers, Miss Claire Garden is a must own for platformer fans. Unfortunately, the game did not sell well, and didn't receive the support it deserved. It's always a shame when an amazing developer goes un-noticed and results in that developer to give up on the AppStore, but you can still find MCG available for purchase. This one is HIGHLY recommended.
iPhone/iPad - $2.99/$2.99 [HD]
Mumbo Jumbo's exploratory side-scrolling adventure title, Glowfish is a must-own. Unfortunately, Mumbo Jumbo had recently thrown in FULL SCREEN ADS to the iPhone version of the game, even if you've previously paid for it. For some reason, the ads are only in the iPhone build and nowhere to be found in the HD/iPad version. They have seemingly disappeared over the last couple of weeks, but because of the addition of the ads, with no mention of them in the update notes, it's become incredibly hard to fully recommend Glowfish to people who don't have it already. Luckily, the game does drop down to $0.99 and sometimes FREE on a pretty regular basis, so if you're willing to wait, it's definitely one to keep an eye on. With 50+ levels, beautiful graphics, a great 4 star rating system and loads of areas to explore, if you're a fan of exploration titles, it's one you should keep an eye on.
Universal - $1.99
OrangePixel is easily one of the best old-school retro platformer developers around in the mobile scene. Their previous releases of Meganoid, Stardash, Super Drill Panic, Chrono&Cash and recently, Meganoid 2, are some of the best platformers available in the AppStore. Their Run'n'Gun Platformer INC is no exception. If you have yet to pick this one up, don't wait any longer. Right now, it's the best Run'n'Gun experience you'll find on the iOS, at least, that is, until their next title, GunSlugs hits the AppStore.
Universal - $2.99
Uppercut Game's cover based arcade shooter, EPOCH. was one of our favorite games of 2011, and recently, an update adding an Arena Mode along with new missions, new achievements, more leaderboards and more Intercepts to pick up, it's renewed our love of this amazing title. If you have yet to snag this one, don't wait any longer. It's definitely going to be known as an iOS classic if it isn't already, in some gamers minds.
[Witching Hour Studios]
Universal - $9.99
Up until recently, you could have picked up Ravenmark for an incredibly low price; $2.99. Granted, you would have had to pay for a couple of the campaigns, but it was an unbelievable price for what the game offered. Surprisingly, Witching Hour Studios took a daring risk; they raised the price of Ravenmark to $9.99 to better reflect the quality and offer the game in one full package - but also unlocked all of the campaigns for those of us who already owned the title for free. Those of us who had already purchased the campaigns were rewarded with some spiffy benefits to say thanks, and IAPs were removed except for the Tip Jars, which allowed players who didn't have the newest campaigns previously, but now had them unlocked for free to tip the developers as a thank you. Ravenmark is easily my favorite TBS title on the iOS platform. There's nothing that really comes close to the depth and gameplay that it offers. If you're a fan of the genre, Ravenmark is THE benchmark Turn-Based Strategy title that you NEED to own.
Universal - $3.99
Space Tripper was my personal GOTY for 2011, and is still a title that I consider one of my top 3 favorite iOS games ever. PomPom did an outstanding job porting the arcade, arena based shmup over to the touchscreen, but unfortunately, it didn't sell well. At all. On top of players being upset that there were no touch controls in the Version 1.0 build, there was also very little promotion and word-of-mouth for Space Tripper. Since, it has become quite the little hidden gem, along with receiving a relative touch control scheme update, it has 4 difficulties in the original game mode, as well as a SUPER EASY CHEAT mode and other gameplay modes including Score Attack and Challenge Mode. If you've yet to pick this one up, get it now. You won't regret it.