Posts Tagged ‘iOS’

1024 Review

1024 Logo

Developer: Veewo Studio
Publisher: Veewo Studio
Platform: Android, iOS

If you’re at all interested in smartphone games then you’ve likely played Threes! or one of the many, many copycats available for download. Although I now own Threes!, my first experience with the card pushing puzzler concept was 1024, hence this review is for it. As it turns out, the games are practically identical except 1024 is free.

1024 is a simple puzzle game that takes place on a 4 x 4 grid. You start with a couple rectangular pieces that have numbers on them such as 2 or 4. Your goal is to slide like tiles together, adding them together. For example, two 8 blocks become one 16 block. Skilled players can make increasingly massive blocks but it is tough!

1024 Screenshot

The hard part is that every time you slide tiles up, down, left, or right it affects everything on the screen. Unless they can’t slide, everything moves in the chosen direction. Also, a new number block is laid after every turn, cluttering the screen further. Although it is possible to just randomly slide things around it is most satisfying to come up with strategies.

Right now 1024 is something I have to play at least once a day. The simplistic gameplay encourages a “one more game” mentality. Despite the possibility of being a strategic game, it can also just help relax your mind in between tasks. Pick it up to see if the gameplay is to your liking, and if so, consider purchasing the original game Threes! by Sirvo.

1849 Review

1849 Featured

1849 Logo

Developer: Somasim
Publisher: Somasim
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – IndieGameStand, Steam

There is something about city management sims that hooks people. Most of us probably have no desire to ever deal with the realities of legislation, building codes, and the vast expenditures that a real city planner has to deal with. Put them in a game though and suddenly it’s fun. What if you could manage a city during the California Gold Rush? If that sounds awesome to you then you’re definitely going to want to check out 1849.

In this game, you’re the mayor of a newly settled town somewhere in Northern California. The goal is to hopefully capitalize off the sudden immigration of people as Gold Rush fever sets in. With good enough planning, the town will boom with people. Fail to provide them with the right resources though and they’ll simply move on to another town.

1849 Screenshot

Maps come in three varieties (small, medium, large) and have an isometric viewpoint. Players must build their town up with homes, wheat fields, jailhouses, and a good deal of other buildings. Many buildings require a chain of other buildings to produce any items at all. For example, you can make fancy clothes for the citizens but that requires first harvesting cotton, turning it into fabrics, then transforming the fabric into an outfit. This same style of mechanic holds true for creating wine and other specialties.

Getting all the buildings required for these types of chains is expensive, but pays off. Other towns need things that you can provide. Some may spend money for your excess fabrics and wood, while others offer to sell pickaxes to you. For the most part, players always have to manage both exporting and importing because no plot of land has everything. Sometimes, events crop up that task the player to do certain things before the time runs out.

Although it might seem a bit simpler than other games of the genre, 1849 is fairly difficult to do well in. Many of my missions ended in failure as I bought the wrong buildings or didn’t realize what other towns would want to trade for. After a while you do get the hang of things, though. It’s a total joy to see your town grow into a bustling, successful place.

1849 Featured

There are a few ways in which the experience could be improved. The view cannot be rotated, only zoomed in on. This leads to many times you can’t see where exactly to click or tell if something was placed properly. It is also unfortunate that there is no easy reference to view what chain of item creation is needed before creating specific buildings. Finally, it appears there are not multiple saves for sandbox towns, which is a definite disappointment.

Even with a handle of troubles, 1849 is a game I find myself coming back to often. The core gameplay mechanics are fantastic and easy to learn. It’s always fun to try fussing around in a new town to see how much it can expand. As such, anyone with a taste for city management games should definitely embark on a digital Gold Rush journey with 1849.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

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Super Lemonade Factory Review

Super Lemonade Factory Featured

Super Lemonade Factory Logo

Developer: Initials
Publisher: Initials
Platform: Mobile – iOS Ouya PC – Direct, IndieGameStand,

Everything seemed like it was turning around for married couple Andre and Liselot when Andre’s father decided to turn his lemonade factory over to them. All they have to do to prove their worthiness is venture through the entire factory. What sounds easy becomes quite the challenge as the factory is sure designed in an inefficient, puzzling manner!

Of course, that’s to be expected as Super Lemonade Factory is a puzzle platformer. In this game you control both Liselot and Andre (or, if playing in two player mode, just one of them) and help them through each level. Andre can sprint, breaking large blocks while Liselot can double jump and talk to the factory workers. There are some 72 levels in all and working through the latter third of them is quite challenging.

Super Lemonade Factory Featured

Visually, Super Lemonade Factory stands out. Yes, it’s done in pixel art which is common in the indie scene but the color palette is quite pleasing. Each character design is also cute, although Liselot could have done without her frightened-looking run. Music is a different story. It certainly sounds retro, befitting the graphics, but doesn’t always sound particularly melodic. All in all, it’s a mixed bag.

Really that could be said for the rest of the game as well. The concept is solid but it doesn’t feel like it invigorates puzzle platformers in a way that makes it notable. Similarly, it is not the pinnacle of the genre to make it stand out regardless of sameness. Take into account some niggling design choices that can only be resolved with a stage reset and the game becomes much easier to put down. Super Lemonade Factory is cute and serves as a neat little time waster for yourself (or you and a friend) but is mostly forgettable.

Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas

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Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! Part 1 Review

Steve Jackson's Sorcery! Part 1 Logo

Developer: inkle
Publisher: inkle
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS

As a huge fan of visual novels, it will probably come as quite a shock that I’ve barely ever touched any gamebooks. Gamebooks, as their name implies, are books that grant the player some direct control – or gameplay – at many junctures throughout the story. Many have played something from the Choose Your Own Adventure catalog. However, Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is a  huge step above that. Initially a part of the Fighting Fantasy series in the 1980s, developer inkle has smartly re imagined it for the mobile market.

Sorcery! Part 1 is just the first leg of an epic journey and it is a blast to play. The storyline is fairly common: You are a young, inexperienced adventurer who must travel to many dangerous locations to obtain the Crown of Kings. Along your way, there are many choices to make that shift the whole tone of the story that’s unfolding for the player. With so much choice, you really feel like the narrative matches your decisions.

For example, I imbued my hero with a very courageous, smart, and caring personality. She would fight for what was deemed right if it were necessary but not get into battles for the heck of it. When offered food from poor townsfolk, she would refuse it as they needed it much more than her. Any time it seemed a dangerous situation was around the corner I would even tense up a bit, trying to rightly perceive which option would be the right one. It’s all thanks to the great writing that made me invested in my character as well as her quest.

Steve Jackson's Sorcery! Part 1 Screenshot

Alongside the many choices of what to say and where to go, there is also a battle system that is quite neat. When you’re in an inescapable battle the screen switches to show both your hero and the enemy as cool black and white art. It then plays out a bit like rock, paper, scissors where you must determine when they’ll strike hard or when they’re bluffing and only going to defend. It’s not random as the descriptions hint to what will come next. Unfortunately, sometimes the touch controls didn’t function properly which made it hard to switch fighting stances without trying multiple times. This touch screen issue also persisted on the map menu at times.

Although Sorcery! Part 1 is just the first of Steve Jackson’s fantasy adventures, it is still a great start that will last players a good deal of hours (especially considering the likely short gameplay sessions on phones). It comes tremendously recommended if you enjoy those sort of classic fantasy adventure tales as well as gamebooks. If you’ve never played a gamebook before then this is also a great way to start thanks to its superb writing and fun gameplay!

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe Review

Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe Featured

Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe Boxart

Developer: Agharta Studio
Publisher: Agharta Studio
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Steam

If you were a PC gamer back in 1989, then perhaps Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe will look familiar to you. That’s because it is Agharta Studio’s homage to Shufflepuck Cafe. It turned the relatively tame world of air hockey into a pretty cool video game where you faced off against odd (often unhuman) enemies. Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe definitely follows this formula and with a lot of modern flourishes.

This time around, the game takes place in a cantina not unlike something you might see in a Star Wars movie. At the start, you can only enter the first floor and play air hockey against three opponents as you learn the ropes. Characters each provide missions for you about who to beat or how many times to beat them. Completing these missions is integral to progressing your character up the ranks from a total newbie to a skilled player.

Beating missions is also useful if you ever hope to obtain a lot of Credz for your character. Obtaining enough currency lets you head into the shop and buy new pucks and paddles. Some confer advantages such as a super wide paddle which will make the game easier. There’s also a way to buy the backstories of characters to obtain their special skills or even get to swap your character for theirs.

Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe Featured

Of course, all of this is just the dressing for a fun, simple way to play digital air hockey. The first enemies might seem simple, but venturing to other levels of the cantina shows just how ruthless it can get. Enemies each have their own specials, some of which are hard to block. Then there are powerups on the board that can help you, help your opponent, or cast an unfortunate effect on you (such as making the paddle tiny). Pair that with some tough challenges and Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe becomes quite difficult after a while!

Still, this is a pretty entertaining experience. It’s funny to see these fantasy and sci-fi characters playing air hockey. The base game is enjoyable and it’s always possible to “grind” for more Credz if you can’t yet beat certain enemies. Having not played it on mobile devices, I’m not sure which is the better way to play, but it was easy to control on PC. If you do opt for the PC version and own an Oculus Rift, there’s even a beta available to let you get your virtual reality on. Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe is a must-buy for Shufflepuck Cafe fans and a nice choice for those hankering for air hockey.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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KAMI Review

KAMI Featured


Developer: State of Play Games
Publisher: State of Play Games
Platform: Mobile – iOS PC – Steam

Puzzle game fans are not lacking in choice when it comes to games they can play. The genre is simply saturated with games of all varieties, from rhythm/music based puzzlers to a multitude of match-3 titles. KAMI isn’t like most popular games and instead focuses on the task of making an entire screen one color. This sounds easy until you get presented with multi-colored screens with complex patterns and only have a few moves to complete them in. So, KAMI is just the kind of puzzle game some are looking for – one that’s simple to understand but very hard to complete.

At first, it might seem like KAMI is easy. Over the first few stages you are presented with screens that only have two or three colors. It’s not hard to recognize which color you should slap down to make the whole thing one color. Of course, these are just the tutorial stages. After that, the game quits taking it easy and requires a more thoughtful approach. Where should you click and with what color? Most stages require some degree of practice (and a little guessing) until finally figuring out their trick.

The game certainly gives you a hand. At the start of each new puzzle section it always starts off with one that will teach you how to solve later puzzles in the section. Unfortunately, the first puzzle is always the easiest, meaning you’ll need more than that information to complete the rest. Each always requires you to finish at par or one move over it. Anything more and you’re greeted with a big “fail” sticker! There’s a hint function available but unfortunately it’s a little odd. It grants 10 credits every 24 hours which means you’re limited in hints per day. This is simply a holdover from the mobile version, since there is no way to “buy” more credits on Steam.

KAMI Featured

No discussion of KAMI is complete without talk of the visuals. The game is gorgeous! It is styled after paper (“kami” itself is a name of a type of origami paper) and the simplicity is very appealing. When you lay down a new color, the corresponding paper pieces all fold away in unison. It’s a very relaxing experience thanks to the light sound effects and attractive color combinations. Perhaps the only odd part is that no music plays during puzzles. Maybe this was to allow players to focus, but a gentle background track probably wouldn’t hurt.

If you’re not a fan of exerting your brain over games then run far away from KAMI. It’s tough, but satisfying for players willing to get into each puzzle. There are 63 puzzles in all, 18 of which are premium (pay) content from the mobile version. Those who want to buy KAMI should definitely grab it on PC and let their brains get to work!

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Storm in a Teacup Review

Storm in a Teacup Featured

Storm in a Teacup Logo

Developer: Cobra Mobile
Publisher: Chillingo
Platform: Mobile – iOS, Windows Phone PC – Steam

Have you been looking for a simple, yet fun new platformer to futz around with? There are a great many titles to choose from, but Storm in a Teacup is one great option to consider. Arriving two years ago for various mobile platforms and in 2012 on PC, the game didn’t take the game by storm. But perhaps it should have considering how much more fun it is than the infamous Angry Birds (and others).

The setup is a little weird. You play as a dude named Storm who sits in a teacup because, why not? Of course, this isn’t an everyday teacup. Instead it is magical which means the thing can move and levitate. You use the teacup to platform through fifty levels. There are definitely physics puzzle elements as you try to discern how to best jump and dodge dangerous objects.

Storm in a Teacup Featured

Visually, it looks pretty. The world is colorful, bright, and cartoony. Disregarding Storm’s completely average experience (white, blonde guy) the world is fairly creative. While passing through a stage, there are also multiple goals to attain. First, you can try to grab all the collectibles. A sticker can also always be found on a level. You just need to figure out how to find or grab them.

Storm in a Teacup controls well despite being made with touch screens in mind. I played through with a Xbox 360 gamepad and it functioned perfectly. The trouble comes simply from tough positioning of objects on stages. You’ll likely die a lot running into spinning saw blades and the like before learning the floaty jumps work.

There are a great many physics/puzzle platformers out there and Storm in a Teacup is one that happens to be worth your time. You’ll get a good deal of gameplay from it at a budget price!

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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