Tekken Card Tournament (iOS/Android) review

Tekken Card Tournament is a new iOS and Android game from Namco Bandai’s European arm. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and Google Play, and carries numerous in-app purchases.

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As the title suggests, Tekken Card Tournament is a digital collectible card game based on Namco’s popular and long-running fighting game series Tekken. Players make use of decks of virtual cards themed after characters from the Tekken franchise, and then take the fight to either computer- or human-controlled opponents in live online turn-based one-on-one battles.

The fighting gameplay in Tekken Card Tournament makes use of a “rock, paper, scissors” system whereby each player may pick one of three actions on each turn. Choosing to “Focus” allows you to draw a card into your hand, up to a limit of five. Choosing “Strike” allows you to attack with all the cards in your hand and also destroys the first (oldest) card in your opponent’s hand if they choose to Focus. Choosing “Block,” meanwhile, blocks the first two cards from an opponent’s hand if they choose to “Strike,” but otherwise has no effect. The challenge of the game primarily consists of determining what the opponent is likely to do next based on the cards they have in their hand — except under special circumstances, both players’ hands are visible to one another — and then taking the optimum course of action. Play is kept pacy thanks to a time limit for each turn and a mechanic which obliterates both players’ hands completely if they both block for more than two turns in succession.

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Knight Storm (iOS) review

Knight Storm is a new iOS game from 505 Games and Munkyfun. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and carries additional in-app purchases.

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Knight Storm is a medieval-themed role-playing game in which players take on the role of a new knight who has come into ownership of his own castle. Through a combination of going on adventures and engaging in jousts against rival knights, players must prove themselves and become a strong ruler of their own personal kingdom.

The game is split into several distinct components, each of which are introduced to the player through an initial tutorial, beginning with jousting. Jousting allows players to compete against either computer- or player-controlled opponents in mounted combat for various rewards. Engaging in a joust is relatively straightforward — both players pick “sigils” to apply to their combat, and these are then compared. Certain “tactics” beat other tactics and provide a bonus to the winning player; if tactics are tied, then the elemental affinity of the sigil is used to determine bonuses instead. If there is still no clear winner, the combatants use their base stats. Once the joust proper begins, the two combatants charge at each other. The player must drag the tip of their lance into a target area on the screen in order to inflict maximum damage. When the two knights clash, damage is inflicted according to the combination of stats, bonuses from the sigils and the accuracy of the attacking player. If either knight’s health bar is reduced to zero, they are knocked off their horse and lose the joust.

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Dragon Eternity review

Dragon Eternity is a new iPad-only iOS release from Game Insight. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and carries additional in-app purchases.

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Dragon Eternity for iPad is actually an adaptation of Game Insight’s Web game of the same name, and includes cross-platform play with the browser-based incarnation of the game. There are some restrictions on the iPad version of the game, however: players may only level up to 30, may not play “mini-games” that are required to complete certain quests — these objectives may be skipped for free on iPad — and may not engage in the game’s “sea battles” system. These restrictions are apparently temporary, so presumably the full functionality of the Web version will be implemented into the game in due course.

Dragon Eternity is a massively-multiplayer role-playing game in which players take on the role of a custom character and direct them through a series of largely combat-focused quests. Rather than attempting to emulate the 3D perspective of computer-based MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft and the numerous free-to-play offerings on the market, Dragon Eternity instead adopts a top-down view from which the player sees an overview of a complete area, and is able to interact with the inhabitants — friendly or otherwise — by tapping on them. This method of presentation removes a lot of the immersion factor inherent in being able to actually wander around and explore the world freely, but it is an eminently more sensible method of control for a touchscreen-based game. It also eliminates the large amounts of “travelling time” found in more traditional MMORPGs.

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Nimble Quest (iOS) review

nimblequestNimble Quest is a new iOS game from Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes developer NimbleBit. It’s available now from the App Store and, like the developer’s other titles, is a free-to-play game with additional in-app purchases.

Nimble Quest is a significant departure from NimbleBit’s two previous hits in several ways. First of all, while the aesthetic is still heavily based around retro-style pixel art, the higher resolution of the new game makes it look more like a title from the 16-bit era than the chunky 8-bit style of Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes. Alongside the change in aesthetic comes a change in play style, too — rather than being a relatively conventional “tap and wait” business sim both Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes, Nimble Quest is an arcade action game. Specifically, it’s a cross between mobile phone classic Snake and the venerable arcade RPG/shooter title Gauntlet — and it’s excellent.

Basic gameplay in Nimble Quest is very simple. Play begins by selecting one of several different hero characters, each of whom have their own strengths, weaknesses and special abilities. When the game proper starts, the hero character begins walking around an enclosed arena and is unable to stop. Swiping in a particular direction on the screen causes the character to start moving in that direction — though like Snake, it’s impossible to simply reverse your direction, and only horizontal and vertical movement is allowed.

Enemies spawn into the arena at regular intervals — some as individuals, others in snake-like formations — and the player must defeat them to progress. Each enemy defeated adds to a bar at the top of the screen, and when this bar fills the level fills with gems to collect for a few seconds before proceeding to the next arena, which has a different graphical theme and enemies. As players progress through the levels, they unlock new heroes that they can use as their “leader” in subsequent games. (more…)

Confrontation review

Confrontation is a new Web-based card game from Userjoy that has recently launched on Facebook. The game is currently highlighted in the featured spot of Facebook’s App Center front page.

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Confrontation is a fairly straightforward card-battling game in which players collect cards and then use them to battle decks from either computer- or human-controlled opponents. There is an unfolding story to follow, but the focus is very much on battling and collecting cards rather than providing a deep narrative-centric experience.

The game begins with a hasty tutorial that forces players to begin collecting one particular type of card without giving them the option to try anything else, then throws them into battle. After explaining what the icons on the cards mean and giving the player their first experience of battle, the tutorial ends and the player is thrown into the game proper. Unfortunately, this means that the game has only explained a tiny proportion of its rather cluttered and overcomplicated interface, meaning that players are largely left to determine what they are supposed to be doing by themselves.

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Mutant Badlands review

Mutant Badlands (formerly known as Radiated Wasteland) is a new Facebook game from Pixel Pandemic. It’s available now in open beta via the social network and the open Web.

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Mutant Badlands is a conscious attempt to make a massively-multiplayer role-playing game for Facebook that doesn’t follow the usual conventions of social gaming. Writing in a press release prior to the game’s open beta launch in mid-February, Pixel Pandemic CEO Thomas Jacobsen noted that he believed the market to be “flooded by cute farm animals and boring linear gameplay” and that there were too few challenging browser-based role-playing games designed to attract gamers who had grown up with standalone  PC games such as Fallout and the original X-Com series. Mutant Badlands is very obviously heavily inspired by the first two Fallout games in particular, as everything from its interface design to its overall aesthetic very closely resembles Black Isle’s classic PC titles. (more…)

Castle Champions (iOS) review

Castle Champions is a new iOS game from Gamenauts. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with additional in-app purchases of in-game currency.

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Castle Champions is pitched as what would happen “if Tiny Tower got bloody” and that’s actually a rather accurate description — players alternate their time between managing a castle tower in a very similar fashion to Nimblebit’s runaway success, and engaging in combat with rival teams of warriors. Because the player is thrown into combat every few minutes, there’s a stronger feeling of “structure” to the experience rather than mindless tapping and restocking in the pursuit of nothing but the more efficient acquisition of currency — here, you’re not only building a tall tower, but also training troops and heroes to send into combat.

The tower management aspect of the game requires the player to construct various types of room to perform different functions. Residential rooms house people who can staff commercial and industrial rooms; commercial and industrial rooms provide income when staffed and fully stocked. Meanwhile, the main addition to Tiny Tower’s basic formula comes in the form of military rooms, whose residents can be added to the player’s battle team rather than the workforce. Military rooms also allow the player to level up their forces in exchange for soft currency. (more…)

Inferno review

Inferno is a Facebook game from Russian developer Playflock. It’s available now on the social network for anyone to play, and has recently been receiving some advertising via Facebook’s sidebar module.

Inferno is a role-playing game that is very similar to Playflock’s other release Insanity (which we reviewed here) — it’s not quite enough to call the two games “reskins” of each other, but they certainly have a huge amount in common.

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Inferno takes place in a “dark fantasy” world in which the player takes on the role of a male or female warrior attempting to deal with the tides of undead blighting the lands. Gameplay unfolds in a number of different components — completing simple non-interactive “jobs” by clicking on a “perform” button until energy expires; battling monsters by clicking on them in the hope that their hit points bar expires before the player’s does; taking over local buildings in order to guarantee income from them; battling immensely strong “boss” monsters; and fighting other players in the Arena. (more…)

Insanity review

Insanity is a Facebook game from Playflock. The game started showing activity in January of this year, but has just recently started enjoying a feature spot in Facebook’s App Center. It’s available now for all to play.

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Insanity is a social role-playing game in which players take on the role of a new inmate in a horror movie-style mental asylum. The circumstances of the player’s arrival are not made especially clear, and the rather hasty tutorial introduces players to only the very basics of the interface before leaving them to discover everything else for themselves. In some respects, this feeling of stepping into the “unknown” helps enormously with the already-impressive atmosphere of menace and dread the game evokes, but in others it is frustrating, since there are a lot of different elements to this game, and much of it is simply not explained adequately to the player from the outset.

There are a number of different activities the player can partake in while playing Insanity. While hanging out in their room, they can customize their character, including changing their name, gender, facial appearance and clothing. Some customization items require that the player purchase them with in-game currency; others may be acquired from either the built-in chance-based dice minigame; others still may be acquired from defeating bosses. In a nice touch, players can preview how their character will look with these items and see the unlock conditions, so they know what objectives to focus their attention on completing. Players may also customize their room with one of several different backdrops, each of which provides various bonuses to their “aggression” and “insanity” statistics, which affect their performance in combat. Some rooms may be purchased; others must be unlocked by defeating specific bosses. (more…)

Kingdom of Thrones review

Kingdom of Thrones is a new Facebook game from Kano/Apps. It’s available now for anyone to play on the social network, and has been enjoying increased visibility through both a feature spot in the App Center’s “New Games” section as well as frequently-appearing sidebar ads.

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The game is a midcore strategy offering somewhat in the vein of recent offerings from Kabam, Plarium and Digital Chocolate, but immediately distinguishes itself with its colorful pixel-art style. It’s not immediately apparent if the rather simplistic aesthetic is a deliberate stylistic choice or simply a matter of budgetary constraints, but it actually works surprisingly well once the initial “culture shock” has worn off: everything is extremely clear, and there is absolutely no ambiguity as to what each graphical element represents. While titles such as Plarium’s Stormfall: Age of War may look objectively “better” in terms of detail, this improved detail can sometimes come at the expense of clarity. (more…)

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