Farm Heroes Saga review

Farm Heroes Saga is a new Facebook game from the newly-rebranded King, released alongside the recent Papa Pear Saga. Access has been somewhat limited until recently, but the game is now open to all players, and being actively promoted via the front page of Facebook’s App Center.


Like most of King’s other games, Farm Heroes Saga takes very heavy cues from well-established puzzle game mechanics. In this case, it follows the same Bejeweled-like mold as the company’s immensely popular Candy Crush Saga, which is presently being heavily promoted in a variety of different media and topping both the MAU and DAU charts as a result. Farm Heroes Saga is presumably an attempt to ensnare the same 45.5 million (estimated) monthly active users and 15 million (estimated) daily active users who are currently playing Candy Crush Saga on a regular basis — but is releasing an almost-identical game the right way to go about it?

Farm Heroes Saga’s basic gameplay will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played Candy Crush Saga or Bejeweled. Players swap various fruits and vegetables around on a grid in an attempt to make matches of three or more like-colored objects in a horizontal or vertical row. When a match is made, it disappears, causing objects above it to drop down into the space that has been made.


Logo Game review

Logo Game is a Facebook game from Canadian developer Media Sense Interactive. It’s available now for anyone to play on the social network, and is presently showing up in the Trending section of the App Center.

Screen Shot 2013-04-15 at 09.23.51

Logo Game is a very simple and straightforward game that tasks players with identifying brand logos. In the case of logos which have distinctive text, the words have been removed and only the basic graphic design left behind. In the case of logos which are nothing but text (such as Google), certain letters have been left behind. The player’s job is to identify the logo from the clue given and then type it in using their keyboard — this means they actually have to know what it is rather than hoping they get lucky from a multiple-choice question.


Crush City review

Crush City is a Facebook game from Qublix. It’s been showing activity since January this year, but is currently showing up in the “Trending” section of Facebook’s App Center.

Crush City

Crush City is a puzzle game in the Diamond Dash mold. That is, it’s a color-matching puzzle game in which players must find groups of like-colored objects that are orthogonally adjacent to one another and then click on them to make them disappear. Rather than adopting the fast-paced “blitz” format of Diamond Dash and many of its imitators, however, Crush City instead takes a linear level-based approach with specific objectives to complete on each stage. Players expend lives on making an attempt at each level, and get them back if they are successful.


Mahjong: The Secret Garden review

Mahjong: The Secret Garden is a Facebook game from Inertia Game Studios. It’s available now to all players on the social network, and is presently showing up as a Trending app on App Center.

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Computerized representations of mahjong, or more accurately mahjong/Shanghai solitaire, is a surprisingly under-represented subdivision of the puzzle game category on Facebook, as it has been a popular tabletop game to adapt into standalone casual computer games for many years now. There are a few mahjong solitaire games on Facebook, but none have managed to capture the public’s imagination in the same way as the myriad Bejeweled and Puzzle Bobble clones out there — despite the mechanics of mahjong solitaire being no more complicated than those games.

In mahjong solitaire, mahjong tiles (which are printed with various symbols including Chinese characters) are arranged in an aesthetically-pleasing and/or symbolic formation, often with several layers of tiles overlapping one another. Players must remove tiles from the arrangement two at a time by matching those with the same symbol and value that are “exposed” — in other words, able to move freely from side to side without disturbing other tiles. This typically means matching tiles from the outermost tiles in each layer of the arrangement, and tiles from different layers may be matched so long as they are exposed.


Dessert Shop review

Dessert Shop is a Facebook game from Shinezone, who for some reason has omitted its name from almost everything to do with the game. It’s available now on the social network, and is presently highlighted on the front page of the App Center.

Dessert Shop

Dessert Shop is a simple management game in which players take on the role of a pâtissier (or, if they so wish, a pâtissière) that has just opened a new establishment. Through collecting ingredients and combining them together into various recipes, they are able to satisfy their customers with a selection of tasty treats and make money in the process.

Basic gameplay in Dessert Shop is along the same lines as other typical Facebook “Sim” games. Unfolding from an isometric perspective, the game tasks players with placing items which “grow” ingredients every few minutes, harvesting these ingredients and then using them on special cooking stations to create either complete dishes or more complex ingredients that go into other dishes. For example, wheat can be harvested in garden plots, then sent to a grinder to make flour, which can then be used to make other recipes. The items which “grow” ingredients aren’t necessarily plants — special shelves provide the player with basic ingredients like sugar and milk every few minutes, presumably representing deliveries in thematic terms.


Cook Hero review

Cook Hero is a Facebook game from RapaZapp Interactive Studios. The game has been showing activity since December of last year, but has recently showed up in the Trending section of Facebook’s App Center.

Cook Hero

Cook Hero is a match-three puzzle game in the Bejeweled mold — that is, it primarily involves swapping objects around in order to make horizontal or vertical lines of like-colored objects. In terms of overall game structure and presentation, Cook Hero takes extremely heavy cues from King’s immensely popular Candy Crush Saga — players work their way through a linear series of levels one at a time, and every few levels the objective required to complete a level changes, ranging from scoring a certain number of points to destroying all the blocks of ice in the background of a level. All levels have a limited number of moves in which to achieve their objective, and failing to complete the level before all moves have been used costs the player a life. Lives replenish at the rate of one every half an hour, up to a maximum of five, and can, as usual, be replenished quicker either by paying or begging to friends.


Spot It review

Spot It is a Facebook game from Ravensburger Digital. It’s currently being highlighted by Facebook in the “New Games” section of App Center.

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Spot It is a game that challenges players to look at pairs of near-identical images and spot the differences between them. Each pair of images has a particular number of differences to find and can be challenged in one of two different modes. There is also a collection metagame that encourages repeat play, and social competition between friends.

The game opens with an initial tutorial in which the player is tasked with completing a simple pair of images, then the process of purchasing “booster packs” of pictures is explained. Players earn coins with each successfully-completed puzzle, and these coins may be used to purchase the aforementioned booster packs. Each booster pack has a specific theme and contains several randomly-selected images from that theme’s collection — “mixed” packs containing images from all themes are also available for a lower cost. Purchasing a booster is no guarantee that you will obtain unique images, however — any duplicates you acquire go into the “trade” menu and can be exchanged with other players, much like a real-life sticker swap meet. At present a special promotion is running whereby purchasing a single booster pack also gives you an extra free one for gifting to a friend — the extra pack cannot be kept for yourself.


Rovio brings Angry Birds Friends to mobile


Finnish mobile game developer Rovio today announced it’s bringing the Facebook version of its flagship title, Angry Birds Friends, to mobile.

Angry Birds Friends is different from the other mobile versions in the franchise in how it monetizes and its social hooks. Whereas in the mobile versions a single lifetime purchase of $0.99 unlocks all of the game’s levels and powerups, players of Angry Birds Friends can only purchase a limited number of powerups that range from 20 uses for $1 to 1000 uses for $20. The Facebook version of the game also includes exclusive levels and items. Rovio has also expanded the game’s social features for Facebook, integrating Open Graph so users can add the app to Timeline, creating a more visible leaderboard that stays on the right side of the screen and allowing players to send and receive gifts. Players can also collect bonuses for playing every day and competing in weekly tournaments.

Rovio, presumably, hopes to drive up engagement by offering all of these social features and monetization methods to mobile players.

Angry Birds Friends peaked after it officially launched in May 2012 with 24.1 million monthly active users. It has been losing users steadily since, but seems to have platued in December 2012. Today AppData has Angry Birds Friends at an estimated 10.8 million MAU, placing it in the No. 38 spot of thr most popular Facebook games by MAU (right behind FreshPlanet’s SongPop and ahead of Zynga’s CityVille).



Extreme Road Trip 2 review

Extreme Road Trip 2 is a new Facebook game from Roofdog Games. It’s currently highlighted in the “New Games” section of Facebook’s App Center, and is also available for iOS and Android-based devices via the App Store and Google Play respectively. This review is based on the Facebook incarnation of the game.

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 09.56.09

Extreme Road Trip 2 is a combination of two popular casual game genres: the endless runner and the physics-based stunt racer. Players take control of an out-of-control vehicle and must try and survive for as long as possible over an increasingly-unduluating course littered with various obstacles, coins to collect and landmines that fling their vehicle into the air. Controlling the vehicle is a simple matter of using the left and right arrow keys on the keyboard to spin it when it is in the air, and ensuring the car lands the right way up when it hits the ground. The speed at which the car hits the ground is not important — so long as it is still wheels-down when it lands, it will continue driving. Particularly accurate landings will reward the player with a speed boost.


Solitaire Arena review

Solitaire Arena is a Facebook game from Mavenhut Ltd. It’s been available since October of last year but has been showing strong growth recently, and is presently showing up in the “Trending” section of Facebook’s App Center. The developer also claims it is available for iPad but provides no link, and a cursory search of the App Store doesn’t seem to reveal the existence of a mobile version.

Solitaire Arena

Unlike many other recent Facebook-based solitaire games, which follow the simplistic formula seen in titles such as Fairway Solitaire, Faerie Solitaire and Solitaire Blitz, Solitaire Arena is based on the traditional and well-known Klondike Solitaire game that Windows users have been playing for many years now. The unusual social twist on the formula is that it is played in competition against another player, whereas traditional Klondike is played solo — hence the “solitaire” part of the name.

Klondike Solitaire is a card game where players must gradually build up their four “foundation” piles according to suit and in sequential order, beginning with aces. Cards may be sent to the foundations as soon as they are revealed if there is a place for them — and in fact by default, Solitaire Arena handles this part automatically, though this behavior may be switched off if desired. In order to reveal other cards, players must build up stacks of face-up cards in the main play area (known as the “tableau”) by making descending sequences that alternate in color — for example black king followed by red queen followed by black jack. Empty spaces in the tableau may only be filled with a king, and if moving a card to another stack reveals a face-down card, it is turned face-up and can be used immediately. If there are no available moves, the player draws a card from a draw deck in the corner of the screen and may use this if possible. When the draw deck is exhausted, it is reshuffled and may be drawn from again. The player scores one point for each card they send to the foundations, with an additional bonus point per card if their opponent has not yet sent that card to their foundations. The on-screen play area is mostly taken up by the player’s tableau and foundations, but the opponent’s foundations and score may be seen in the corner of the screen so the player may keep an eye on their relative performance.


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