Let’s take a look at … – Alien Robot Monsters

I’ve always had a bit of a problem sticking with tower defense games. Sure, it’s fun for a little while, but then the game gets either too overwhelming or is too boring to keep my interest. Finally, a game worth my attention! Introducing Alien Robot Monsters by Kraftix Games, a game well-deserving of its 100% rating on Steam. This game is also available through the Apple Store and Google Play for you mobile gamers out there. Let’s take a look.

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Starting with a simple tutorial, this space-colony-themed game begins with the basics of building towers. Upgrades are explained and it’s quite easy to get into the game right away. It has a bit of an RPG-type upgrade system, where stars are earned based on how well you defend your map, and those stars can be spent on different types of global upgrades for your weapons, health, and troops. As you progress through the levels in the game, other towers are unlocked in a skill-tree style manner, allowing many layers of updates in your game. There are so many options to choose from, the game never gets boring, even while you’re out of scrap (the game’s currency) waiting for the next wave of alien robots to come through the lanes.

One thing I loved about this game was the combination of graphics and audio/voice acting. The 16-bit style graphics are bright and colorful and very detailed. I love seeing my tiny little troops walk out from their tower to defend their colony. Reactions to button selections upgrades are witty and funny comments from the soldiers themselves. Somehow the repetition never gets old, when that’s normally something that would irritate me about a game.

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The menu system is clear and helpful, allowing you to use your earned stars to help your become more powerful and survive longer. There are informative tree-style maps of the different towers and their unlocked upgrades. Enemies have informative screens as well, so you can decide the best type of tower to counter-act their specific skills and defenses.

When I found out I could download this game to my iPhone for free (with optional in-game purchases), I tried it out there too. Same game, great graphics, even on my small screen. This game is a steal at $5.99 on Steam, but if you want to get a feel for it first, download it to your smart phone and give it a try. I think it’s much more fun to play on a big screen so you can see all the details easily.

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Overall, I would recommend this game to anyone who loves tower defense games, and to gamers who feel like they can’t find a tower defense game worth their time. The combination of price, graphics, audio bits, and fantastic upgrade system make this game one of my favorites I’ve tried so far!

Tl;dr – Alien Robot Monsters is a fun tower defense game that won’t bore you!  Thanks to fun graphics, interesting upgrade systems, and a price that can’t be beat, this winner from Kraftix Games is one you should definitely get for your game library.

Rating – 9.5/10

Purchase – Steam £4.79/$5.99

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Heroki

 

Heroki is a premium IOS app from the 4 man team that is Picomy games. With trailers on their YouTube Channel dating back to 2011, it’s been in the making for 4.5 years! Not wanting to sacrifice anything from their vision, Heroki has been built from the ground up, including the proprietary engine that it runs on, the Picon Engine. Let’s take a look.

Now, we usually leave trailers until the end of the article but I’m going to break tradition. The look of the game plays a big part in its charm and appeal, so we’ll check out its new trailer before getting into the meat of the review.

How charming is that! The world looks amazing, and it feels just as good in game. It’s full of whimsy and colourful, interesting characters that induce child-like awe as you work your way through the multiple paths each level offers. The music conveys the exactly same feeling and couldn’t be more perfectly matched for the aesthetics. There is a light-hearted and up-beat soundtrack underpinning all gameplay, and a tonne of high-quality sound effects to add to that.

Production wise, Heroki is extremely polished throughout with a great aesthetic. It’s cute, whimsical, and just fun!

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At the start of the trailer you see a couple of evil villains steal a big, golden artefact called the Emerix. That was Dr N Forchin and Vapor, sworn enemies of Heroki and the village of Levantia. It’s your job to return the relic and save the town. Through travelling across many levels, throughout 4 distinct worlds, you will face a multitude of enemies and recover the artefact.

Each level contains a number of enemies to defeat, or avoid, and a selection of puzzles and hidden areas to find. Each level also offers 6 letters to find, 5 special artefacts and a chest that will give you a gift. There are also many pickups throughout that act as the games currency. Each level has a maximum score of 100, so the completionists out there can go nuts and 100% each level.

Heroki has three possible control schemes available:

  • A virtual D-Pad
  • Push to move
  • Pull to move

It’s easy to get touch controls wrong, but all three control schemes are solid and offer some nice alternates so everyone can find a solution that suits them. I played the game on my iPad and had no problems with the controls. Your mileage may vary on a smaller screen!

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Through progressing through the levels you will collect pickups that act as the games currency. If you go back to town, which you can at any time, then there are a wide selection of shops and goods available for purchase. You can buy lives, health, pickups and new abilities.

Having all these shops here really encourages you to explore more in the levels. The more you explore, the more currency you have, and the more you can buy when you head back into town.

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All in all, Heroki is said to offer over 10 hours of gameplay. It’s an incredibly solid app, and is the first time in a long time that I’ve sat and gamed on my iPad for more than 15 minutes. The story is fairly generic, but the character is fresh and charming and the world is incredibly enticing. I had a lot of fun with it, and will be finishing it for sure!

Tl:dr – Heroki is an incredibly well polished, charming adventure game. While the story is fairly generic, the charm of the character and environment shine through and provide a whimsical experience throughout. If you’re looking for a great premium iApp, look to further.

Rating – 9/10

Purchase – Apple App Store, IOS only £5.99

Let’s talk about … – Sonic gets a free app to celebrate birthday!

For those unaware, as I was, Sonic was first seen June 23rd back in 1991! To celebrate, the renowned Sonic Team have created a 2D side-scrolling infinite runner, Sonic Runners,  that will be releasing 25th June for IOS and Android. Best of all, it’s free!

The game will see Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles racing across endless worlds, collecting coins and gems whilst avoiding enemies from all directions. The environments look great, and are a throwback to the SEGA Mega Drive generation.

Sonic Runners was first released in Japan back in February, and from June 25th will be available worldwide* for both IOS and Android devices. A nice gesture from the Sonic Team to celebrate its 24th birthday!

*excluding China and Panama

Let’s take a look at … – A-Maze-In

A-Maze-In is a very polished, casual maze game from MAROBI Entertainment Inc. You play as Mino, a teenage Minotaur, and have to use his special abilities and potions to progress through many mazes, overcoming a range of enemies and obstacles as you do so. It’s currently available on IOS and is a free pickup.

A-Maze-In looks great and has quality production value. I love the cartoony-feeling art style and the sound quality is just as good. You can really feel that time and effort has been put into polish and as a result it feels nice and solid. The main menu has a couple of simple settings for sound and some social media buttons.

The game starts with comic book style narration that outlines the premise of the game. You’re Mino and your princess Mina gets kidnapped by another evil Minotaur and your adventure is to save her. It’s a neat way of introducing the player to the game; it’s much more engaging that a wall of text.

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And now we’re into the main screen of the game, the map, and it’s huge! There’s over 110 unique mazes in the game so there’s plenty of content to go at. My first nit-pick with the game comes here though and it lies in the ad. At the bottom of the map screen there is an ad and I think it’s a shame it’s there blocking the nice graphics.  It’s also there every time you view the screen which is a bit of a pain, I feel there’s other places it could be placed that’s less in the way.

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Gameplay is a very traditional maze game; work your way through each maze, find the key and get to the end. No awards for innovativeness but it’s certainly a solid implementation of the genre. As you progress through the levels there’s continuing running dialogue from Mino and cast which ensures the story doesn’t get lost along the way.

The controls feel great. I was worried when I saw the virtual D-pad as I’ve played games with a pretty awful implementation of it, but A-Maze-In’s is nice and fluid. Abilities and potions are used via 4 icons in the bottom left which is nice and simple and the quality of art is consistent with the rest of the game.

There are various enemies and obstacles throughout the levels that you can either avoid or fight and various pickups that give you score. Each level also has a number of objectives that you have to accomplish to get a maximum of three stars on each. I also believe there’s a number of unique bosses that you fight after X levels. I didn’t reach one myself, however I’ve been informed they add some interesting variety to the game and the screenshots I’ve seen certainly seem to hint at this. A-Maze-In is fun, but is certainly designed for a casual gaming audience. I think the gamers out there looking for a real challenge would be left somewhat short-changed.
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My main problem with A-Maze-In lies in the fact that once you run out of lives you have to either buy more, ask friends on Facebook or simply wait for 30 minutes; the whole social-coupling and pay-to-play game model. It’s a tricky subject. You can’t say ‘You wouldn’t have to buy lives for [insert AAA title here] so you should here”; they’re different markets. You don’t spend millions on an IOS title and making money in such a saturated market is hard and these are tried and tested techniques that have become a common feature in this type of game. I do however think that neither in-app purchases nor social integration should hold-back gameplay and in this case it does. If you want to add those things to extend gameplay to those willing to pay then fine, I’m still not a fan but I understand. I think however when it actively stops you playing the game a line has been crossed.

One item in the app-store I do like is the ability to remove ads. I like the fact that the game is free to attract an audience then you have the ability to pay and remove ads. That’s a good way of gaining an audience as opposed to having separate free and paid versions of the app.

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I’m going to give A-Maze-In a solid 8/10.  If I were to change my ways and become a social gamer A-Maze-In would be one of titles I’d download. As it currently stands however it’s a bit casual for me. Production value is there, it’s definitely a quality app, just I’m not a huge fan of social-media coupling and pay-to-play mechanics interfering with gameplay so directly.

Let’s take a look at … – Depri-Horst

Depri-Horst is a weirdly wonderful mobile title from Steffen Wittig. It doesn’t take itself too seriously which I something I really liked and it made me laugh more than once. The story is bit odd, the sounds are bit odd, the levels are bit odd and it works wonderfully.

The game sees you playing as a depressed mailman who has to work his way through levels delivering mail and killing enemies by throwing your mail at them. There’s 2 modes, story and survival. Survival is simply an endless level mode where you go as far as possible so if we cover story we’ll cover this too.

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Starting at the beginning, the main menu is great. Each page moves seamlessly into the other with a nice parallax effect. The controls are simple: Tap behind Horst to jump, top Horst himself to stop him and tap in-front of him to shoot. I must say, the instructions don’t tell you that you will shoot wherever you aim. It may seem simple but I overlooked this and it made the first level MUCH harder until I realised!

Each level starts with a nice, hand drawn, comic strip which lets you know what the level is about, then straight into the action. The main mechanics are very simple; jump and shoot, but they’re the main point of criticism for the game. I find the controls, and therefore general gameplay, very slow. To jump you have to press the screen, charge the jump and then release to actually jump. I’m not a fan of this as I think it slows gameplay down. There’s also quite a delay in the time it takes you to shoot which can be very frustrating as enemies sometimes come at you quicker that you.

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This is improved as you move through the game and start to unlock upgrades. Once you get a certain amount of points in a level you will have the chance to upgrade Horst. You upgrade his different abilities and after unlocking a few gameplay really speeds up and becomes much more fun. I like the fact that you have to work to unlock upgrades to improve Horst, but I would make him faster to begin with.

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To move through levels you have no navigate the level and shoot the enemies coming at you. Nothing ground-breaking, especially which what in my mind are weak controls, but the game really redeems itself with its humour. To start with the initial concept is a bit wacky and funny. Throwing your mail at cats and birds is pretty fun. Then there’s things like all sound effects seem to have been made by the creator with his voice. This is awesome and some in particular are really amusing. The death animation is a favourite and makes me laugh every time I die removing some of the frustration.

Humour is also achieved through gameplay. If Horst touches newspaper he reads then, gets depressed and will cry and crawl along the floor. There is a level where you’re been chased by a giant cat that’s on fire. All of the comic strips before the levels are funny. It’s all work really well together.

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And that’s where Horsts strengths lie. The controls I feel are a bit week, and gameplay is very simple but it’s really funny and charming and I found myself laughing while I through mail at cats and birds.

Out of ten, I’d say Depri-Horst is a solid 7. I’m not a fan of the controls and somewhat slow start, but it’s made up by its humour and charm.

Let’s take a look at … – Super Bomb Noms

SuperBombNoms is the latest title from Super Cookie Games. In their own words “It’s a cross between Bomberman and Pokemon, where you can collect all the Bomb Noms and play with them.” It certainly is, and the result is really rather pleasant.

I played the game for roughly 20 minutes so I’ll run through my experience.

The first thing that I took note of were the graphics which are very cute! The aesthetic works perfectly and everything is very well tied together. There’s a wide range of BombNoms you can collect that are all different designs and colours so you can collect them all! I’ll cover that more when we talk about gameplay. With bright, vibrant graphics you need the soundtrack to match and they certainly have that. The music is very preppy, bubbling and light hearted much like the graphics. All in all, my first experience on running the app was great. I have a particular fondness for this style so mileage may vary, but I think everyone can agree it’s a cute looking, and sounding game.

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Onto gameplay. There’s 2 modes, online and solo play; I only played solo. After a short tutorial you’ll pick your starting Bomb Nomb, much like picking a starting pokemon, and then the gameplay begins. Solo gameplay is, from what I can tell, a tournament which you enter and play against AI opponents through a number of rounds.

Actual gameplay is much like the classic BomberMan. Try place your bombs strategically to blow up your opponent. Here’s where I ran into my first negative. For my preferences the controls were a bit slow. The games implements a virtual keypad and I found trying to perform quick moved on it just didn’t work. For example, if you were to press down-up-right pretty quickly it would only action down-up. It’s not a huge problem, but I felt it slowed down the gameplay a bit would could be avoided with tighter controls. Keeping your finger on the keypad and moving it, as opposed to individual presses for each action, felt nicer but I feel could still be tighter.

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Collecting BombNoms is another major part of the game so let’s look at that. If you enter the ‘Bomb Center’ (the big bomb on the main menu) you’re taken to a large screen filled with unlockable & purchasable BombNoms. Most of them for me were not filled in as I hadn’t played much, but there’s LOADS that you can unlock. Clicking on the few that were unlocked I could see that you unlock them with coins and there’s some that get unlocked by liking their Facebook page etc. like in other social games.

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SuperBombNoms uses an in-game purchase revenue system which I’m not a huge fan of, but it’s not too forced; You can certainly still enjoy the game without making purchases and there’s lots of content to unlock through Facebook etc. You can buy coins in-game to speed up the processes of buying the characters you want. One area of this ‘pay to play’ mentality that I don’t like is the lives system. If you run out of lives you either have to wait for them to recharge, buy more with coins (which promoted in-app purchases) or ask friends on Facebook. I understand that in the app marketplace in-app purchases a leading source of income, but having limited gameplay been indirectly related to purchases (coins >> irl money) is not ok in my book. A game should be a game. You buy it, you can play all you want.

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All things considered I really did like SuperBombNoms. The graphics are cute, complimenting audio, the gameplay is solid and the app is well polished. Sure I think the controls could be tighter, and the tight coupling with social media and in-app purchases will deter some ‘hardcore’ gamers, but that’s not the demographic. For the ‘cacual’ mobile gamer SuperBombNoms I’m sure will be a much visited app and the Google App Store reviews mirror this. I’d rate SuperBombNoms 7/10.

 

 

Let’s take a look at … – Cookie Dunk Dunk

Cookie dunk dunk is a generic puzzle game made for iOS by Seven Gun Games ltd.

Made as a clone for the likes of Candy crush and Bejeweled, Cookie dunk dunk is a solidly OK experience for anyone not too interested in playing original content. Aside from the huge deterrence this brings, players can expect a ludicrous micro-transaction-based revenue model, as well as persistent lag during your game time. The graphic effects and individual sounds bring a dash of colour to this otherwise grey slate, but i feel that’s not enough to compensate for the games overall flabbiness.

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The soundtrack is nothing particularly innovative though resisted attempts to make my ears bleed, and the repetitive game-play is dull at best. The lack of diversity in this iOS game means that every level feels the same and there’s no feeling of progression or achievement during your “puzzle” experience.

A lack of substance in the app means a review can only go on for so long, however; If the casual gamer or “whale” inside of you yearns  for more of this generic content, I would suggest going back to a game like Candy Crush, which at least makes this kind of drivel  even remotely enjoyable… even if it might leave your wallet mercilessly empty when it’s finished.

If the gamer inside of you screams for innovation and new adventures for your mobile device, some excellent apps such as “Monument”  and “Audiorun” are waiting on your mobile store of choice.

Overall I would score Cookie Dunk Dunk as a lenient 5/10. As even though it isn’t even verging on good, this game is nowhere near the kind of  awful that made up something like ride to hell retribution.