Blastron is an iPad and iPhone game from Kabam. It is available now on the App Store as a free download and contains additional in-app purchases.
Blastron is a competitive action game that combines elements of 2D platformers and shoot’em ups in order to create a rather unique, but often flawed, experience. The game starts off by walking players through ass aspects of the game as an in-depth tutorial. The tutorial kicks off by summarizing the basics of gameplay. Blastron is focused around two core on-screen buttons. The left side works like a virtual analog stick that lets players move and jump. The right side works the same way, letting players aim and shoot in any direction. Players are also given access to menus that let them switch weapons and equipment. All these controls serve a purpose, but they lack the precision and comfort needed for an action game.
Players first experience in to the realm of Blastron’s multiplayer is representative of the entire Blastron experience. In Blastron, up to four players will take turns moving around an area. Each turn gives players a time limit to freely move how they want. At any point, provided there’s still time remaining, players can fire a weapon or use equipment. The goal of every game is to attack the opponents, score points, and avoid damage. Because of the turn-based nature of games, both online and offline, the player who is given the first move has a slight advantage over his or her opponents. Good strategy and execution will always prevail over shooting first, but in an even match, the first player to move will be the likely favorite to win. (more…)
Wizard & Dragon Defense is an Android app from Basalt Games. It is available now as a free download from Google Play and contains additional in-app purchases.
Wizard & Dragon Defense is a side-scrolling game that is modeled after a basic tower defense layout. On one edge of a stage lies a giant Dragon egg, and on the other is a portal. During a level, monsters will regularly spawn out of the portal and start walking toward the egg. Players will take control of the hero and use standard attacks, special abilities, and summoned allies in order to protect the egg and destroy all the monsters. It’s a formula that allows inexperienced players to quickly adapt to the genre, but even they are likely to find the game far too repetitive after just a few stages.
Wizard & Dragon Defense seems to put a large emphasis on creating an experience that caters to new and inexperienced players. Helping players learn the mechanics and the flow of the game is the title’s strong suit. While there’s no formal tutorial, the first few levels of the game go over some of the most important aspects. Players can move the characters left and right by tapping the respective sides of the screen. Attacks are done automatically, but special abilities can be executed with the press of a button. Items can be consumed by tapping their icon on the top of the screen, while allies can be summoned from a list, provided players have built up enough mana over time. (more…)
Baseball Slam is an iPad and iPhone game from Zynga. It is available now on the App Store as an ad-supported free download and contains additional in-app purchases.
Baseball Slam takes the simplicity and excitement of a home run derby and combines it with outrageous levels, crazy power-ups, and an easy-to-use touch control system. There’s not much to the gameplay, and the game explains its controls and mechanics in the first couple stages. Players will take control of their batter, tap the screen to receive a pitch and drag their finger from home plate to the area they want the ball to go. It’s possible to miss the pitch by swinging too slow or too early, but it won’t count against the round’s number of pitches.
Each stage has its own goal. Early stages work well in place of a tutorial. Goals in these stages often involve hitting special targets or using abilities. After players get past these stages, the game gets a bit more difficult. Goals eventually turn from tutorial to challenges, such as landing high scores. While most of these are on the fun side, they can occasionally be downright challenging. (more…)
Battle Bears Gold is an Android and iOS release from SkyVu Entertainment. It is available now as a free download on Google Play and the App Store and contains numerous in-app purchases.
Battle Bears Gold is a third person shooter with its main focus on online multiplayer games. Players who have played shooters on their mobile devices before can skip the game’s useful tutorial. Others will find that the tutorial is a great way to get used to the control scheme, which can take some adjustment time for fans of shooters on consoles or PC. Even with a tutorial that teaches players how to move, look, shoot, and use abilities, one of the biggest issues out of the gate is helping players learn to adapt. With the game’s focus on online, players will be forced to adapt quickly, or be prepared to lose a lot in the process.
When players are ready to play, they’re given a choice between two game modes: Team Battle and Plant The Bomb. Team Battle is the traditional team-based deathmatch. Two teams of up to four players each will square off with a time limit to see who can land the most kills. Players who need extra motivation to learn the ropes of the game will likely enjoy Team Battle because dying directly benefits the opposing team, so players will be forced to learn to survive. Plant the Bomb is a more strategical game mode where each team attempts to take a bomb and arm it in the enemy base. The large maps and few players lead to numerous one-sided battles, so most players will stick to Team Battle. (more…)
Sprinkle: Water splashing fire fighting fun! is an iOS and Android release from Mediocre AB. It is currently available as a free download on the App Store and for 99 cents on Google Play and carries additional in-app purchases.
Sprinkle is a level-based physics puzzle game that puts players in the role of a one-eyed (but two pupils) monster working as its city’s fire fighter. Every stage starts off the same way: Part of the town is on fire. The player needs to control and aim the vertically-situated fire engine and sprayer in order to extinguish the fires before the town’s residents lose their homes. The process feels very simple and the game’s first few stages provide visual hints as to how certain objects and tools work. Most of the work is done with the fire engine. While players can’t move the vehicle, they can change the water gun’s height and angle, then press and hold the red button to shoot. Water is a limited resource, however, so players need to use it wisely.
After the first couple of levels, Sprinkle stops with the idea of “Just point and shoot here” and starts requiring the player to consider the physics of gravity and water. In Sprinkle, water doesn’t sink into the ground until it sits on a level surface for a second. So, when water is blasted onto a hill or over a cliff, it’ll create a stream or waterfall that keeps going until its momentum is stopped or it falls off-screen. This requires players to carefully (but quickly) map out how the water will flow, and adjust their plans accordingly. To make things more difficult, there are occasionally interactive elements within levels. Usually in the form of boulders, players can shoot various objects in order to move them around, creating new pathways. Stages that feature these tools usually require them to be used, but figuring out how is often the challenge. (more…)
Jewels Saga is an Android release from Words Mobile. It is available now as a free download from Google Play, and contains additional in-app purchases.
Jewels Saga is a level-based match-three style puzzle game that will seem all too familiar to players who enjoyed King’s Candy Crush Saga. Between the “Saga” in the name and the vast amount of gameplay similarities, the only players that will find Jewels Saga worthwhile will be those who enjoy the genre but somehow didn’t play Candy Crush Saga. That’s not to say Jewels Saga is a bad game, because it’s not. It simply does nothing to stand out from the game that inspired it.
Jewels Saga starts off with the main menu, offering standard options: Arcade and Time modes, a help menu that explains how the game works, and a settings menu. All of this is standard fare, and the help menu doesn’t add anything that the game won’t describe. Arcade mode is the main focus of the game. Like Candy Crush Saga, Jewels Saga is presented in levels. When starting Arcade mode, players will be given a goal, usually something along the lines of “Earn X points in Y moves.” Early levels also give basic hints and tips for the first few moves, in order to help new players get used to the game. These tips can be turned off, but experienced players will breeze through the early levels and hardly notice them. (more…)
Magic 2014 is an Android and iOS release from Wizards of the Coast. Is it available now as a free download on Google Play and the App Store and contains additional in-app purchases.
Magic 2014 is the newest installment in Wizard of the Coast’s “Duels of the Planeswalkers” series. Each game in the series takes the popular “Magic: The Gathering” trading card game series and faithfully transitions it to a virtual platform. None of the previous games have featured the same amount of freedom of customization as the actual card game or Wizards of the Coast’s digital version, Magic Online. However, Magic 2014 is an excellent free-to-play addition to the Magic lineup that works as an excellent starting point for new players and a free (or cheap) way to play the game for casual fans.
The card game is twenty years old, but as popular as ever. That said, the nature of trading card games is rather expensive, especially for prospective new players. Magic 2014 caters to these new players right off the bat by asking them how much Magic experience they have. This determines the game’s set difficulty and can only be changed via in-app purchase. Fortunately, the extensive tutorial is excellent at teaching players the basics of the game, and the game will give numerous hints and tips to remind players of certain elements. The tutorial can be skipped and hints can be turned off if players already know how to play. (more…)
Block Block Block is an iOS and Android release from Noodlecake Studios Inc. It is available now as a free download from the App Store and Google Play and contains additional in-app purchases.
Block Block Block is a level-based puzzle game that is based around the foundation of match-three puzzle games. The goal is to slide three same-colored blocks together in a straight line. Each level ends when all the blocks have been grouped and cleared or when there are no moves left. This alone wouldn’t be difficult for most fans of the match-three genre. Where Block Block Block starts to stand out is the limited number of moves players are given in each stage. Most of the stages early on only require one or two moves to clear all the blocks, but as time progresses, more difficult levels begin to open up and players will find themselves with new challenges.
The first batch of stages has a relatively simple concept: Drag the three blue blocks together. There’s nothing too difficult about these. Eventually, the game starts adding in immovable and/or unusable blocks. Dealing with these requires a bit more strategy, but it’s still generally simple to work with. The game starts to get a bit harder when puzzles require groupings of four or more blocks, which often require multiple steps to create. Fans of match-three games will still not have much difficulty knowing the process of setting up these lines and seeing various patterns. Where the difficulty starts to come in is when other colors start to pop up. (more…)
Layton Brothers Mystery Room is an iOS release from Level-5 Inc. It is available now as a free download on the App Store and contains additional in-app purchases.
Layton Brothers Mystery Room is a sequel of sorts to the popular Professor Layton series on the Nintendo DS and 3DS. Players will follow two characters: Inspector Alfiendi Layton (son of Professor Layton) and his newest assistant Lucy Baker. Together, they’re tasked with digging deep into some of the most puzzling and challenging crimes facing Scotland Yard. Headquartered in the “Mystery Room”, Layton and Baker will encounter tons of unique and enjoyable characters, as well as a variety of puzzles.
There are numerous elements in Layton Brothers Mystery Room that provide various layers of depth. One of the first things that players will notice is that there’s a lot of conversation. This is necessary for the experience, but there are likely to be some players who are turned off by the large amount of required reading. For most, this shouldn’t be an issue since the dialogue is well-written and the characters are enjoyable. Outside of dialogue, players will also need to carefully read statements and testimonies from witnesses and suspects. Most of these statements have key words highlighted for easy reference, as players will need to look back on them later. (more…)
Puzzle Retreat is an iOS and Android game from The Voxel Agents. It is available now on the App Store and Google Play as a free download and contains numerous in-app purchases.
Puzzle retreat is a very simple game based around physics and careful planning. When players first open Puzzle retreat, they’re greeted by the main menu. It’s strongly recommended that players start with the “Welcome” level pack, as it is the easiest and it helps prepare players for the various gameplay mechanics. (more…)