Android Games Roundup [2/20/18]
Welcome to my first roundup of 2018! Sorry I’m a bit late to the party (does nearly two months count as fashionable?), but life has a funny way of not letting you do what you want to sometimes. Anyway, I’ve shifted gears a bit, because honestly I was getting tired of things just flat out not listing my iPad as a supported device or not NOT listing it but the game really not working on it anyway. Plus, I got a new-ish Android phone for Christmas, and it actually plays a lot of those games I just mentioned in the last sentence. So, my first collection of summaries is actually about Android games, though if there is an iOS version available I will provide a link for that as well. Just remember, I played all of these games on an Android phone, not on my iPad 2.
Also, I decided to do something else that I’ve not done with a roundup before, or at least not with roundups on this site. Instead of just listing games I liked (though that will still probably be the majority of what shows up), I’m actually going to mention games that I didn’t care for so much either. You should be able to tell the difference pretty readily, but just in case I’ll conclude each summary with a “Play” or “Pass” designation. And here’s a slight spoiler: Homescapes, Fastlane and Into The Dead 2 deserve a couple of extra “plays” added on to the end of my verdict. I play each of them almost every single day, which hasn’t happened for a long time even with the games that do still run on my iPad 2. So, without further ado, let’s actually get to the reviews…
Homescapes – I was a big fan of this series when the method for earning money was hidden object based rather than match 3. Because of the change I didn’t give Gardenscapes too much of a chance, but now that I’ve moved on to a new device I wanted to get a few match 3 games and decided to give Homescapes a chance. Turns out it’s actually rather amusing. If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s basically about a butler that goes from residence to residence fixing up the landscape or the structures themselves. In this case you’re fixing up your parents’ house – which was also your childhood home – in the hopes that they will decide to keep it rather than selling and moving to an apartment. To do this you will have to check off a number of tasks, each of which takes one or more stars to complete. You earn a star for each match 3 board that you complete. If you’ve played even a few match 3 games you pretty much know how this works – get a certain number of one or more colors of objects, cover or uncover a specific number of tiles, and so on. You also get the typical power ups associated with matching more than 3 objects at the same time. The thing is, the match 3 sequences are really more about keeping the story progressing than anything else. What makes Homescapes so charming is the interaction between the butler and his parents. After almost every upgrade there is some sort of exchange between the butler and at least one of his folks. If you just watch for a while you’ll see them moving around the house and doing various activities as well. It’s sort of like a mini Sims game. Those looking for a fresh gaming experience will probably be disappointed, but if you’d like an entertaining, family friendly outing that’s full of atmosphere, Homescapes is for you.
Homescapes on Google Play
Playrix Games, Homescapes – Free
Blobout – I have never been a huge fan of the F2P concept, and this is the perfect example of why. At its heart, Blobout is not a bad game. In fact, it can be rather addictive. All you have to do is bounce a little slime back and forth between two walls, making sure to avoid a rather deadly collection of obstacles that don’t get along well with little green blobs. The game is quite challenging, sometimes frustratingly so, and therein lies the problem. There appear to be two different game play modes, though I’ve found nothing to explain what the difference between them is, at least from a game play perspective. In the first game mode you keep going until you die, and then you can either watch a video or pay some coins to keep playing. After your second death you start over from the beginning. In the second game mode you get three lives, but you start from the beginning each time you die. After you use up those three lives you have to watch a video to keep playing. If you’re not very good, you’ll end up watching a lot of videos while playing for a rather short amount of time. Worse yet, all you earn for your time and pain (assuming you collect enough coins), is a shiny new skin for your blob or some hats. Neither of these upgrades actually seems to affect game play at all, so unless you’re a “collect ‘em all” kind of player it’s not much incentive to keep playing. The only in game purchases I’ve run across so far are golden tickets, but buying those only seems to speed up the process of acquiring the different collectables. Again, it’s not worth the expense. Personally, I’d rather just pay a dollar or two to unlock unlimited, ad free play and be done with it. It’s too bad the game doesn’t really offer a good draw to continually come back, because the pixel graphics are great and the fact that it can be played with one hand makes it a perfect game for those long grocery lines.
Blobout on Google Play
KIDE Entertainment Oy, Blobout – Free
Fastlane: Road To Revenge – So I figured it wouldn’t take me too long to contradict myself, and here we go. Fastlane is another F2P game, but in this case – at least in my opinion – it’s one that is done right. Somewhere I remember seeing this described as a scrolling shooter, which I suppose it is, but I would classify it more as Spy Hunter without the cool gadget vans rather than something like Sky Force Reloaded. However you want to label it, I’ve managed to sink a bunch of time into the game already, and while it’s not something I’d spend hours at a time playing, I could easily see myself pulling it up for a few minutes here and there into the foreseeable future. The basic plot of the game is that you were apparently thought to be dead, and now you’ve returned to reclaim the streets of your neighborhood. I’m not 100% sure if you’re supposed to be a good guy, but since I get to blast a bunch of stuff I don’t really care all that much. You start out with a basic car and basic artillery and get to hit the streets running. Through a kind benefactor you get enough resources to upgrade your vehicle and buy some basic weaponry, and then it’s up to you to keep on going. There are three types of currency in this game: dollars let you upgrade just about anything, gems are used to buy new vehicles and secondary weapons for the vehicle you already own, and golden tickets get you new drones. As you blast through the streets you earn Rep, which eventually allows you to level up. This gets you bonus resources and gives you access to the better vehicles (you still have to buy them, of course). Along the way you’ll get jobs to complete to earn more resources, and after every run you have the option of watching a video to get even more goodies. So yeah I watch a lot of videos, but I never really feel like I’m forced to, and nothing ever pops up forcing me to buy something to continue playing. It’s a nice balance that serves as a good model for F2P games.
Fastlane: Road To Revenge on Google Play
Space Ape Games, Fastlane: Road to Revenge – Free
CoDots – One current craze in mobile app stores seems to be the idea of “color matching” games, where you move an object or slide lanes around or do something to get items of a certain color to go through, end up in or touch a like colored spot. Like so many genres this one is starting to look the same for every iteration, but thankfully CoDots puts a nice spin on the genre (sorry, couldn’t resist). Your job is to protect the conjoined planets in the center of the screen, one of which is orange and the other blue. You do this by spinning them around so that the planes flying towards them crash into the like colored planets; apparently there’s some sort of immunity clause for the planets in this case. You score one point for each successfully destroyed plane, and the first collision of conflicting colors means the game is over. There are four game play modes which mainly vary in how the planets spin. In the initial game mode they spin 180 degrees with each tap, in the next mode the increment is 90 degrees, and in the third mode you have to hold the screen in order for the planets to keep spinning. The final mode will switch between the three movement types at various intervals. You start with the 180 degree mode, and aside from a one run preview you have to unlock each of the other modes by scoring at least 30 points in the prior mode. Graphics are minimal but nice, the music is calming though some might argue a bit too plain, and the sound effects could stand some tweaking. The biggest drawback in my opinion is that there is only one power up (an hourglass that temporarily slows time) and what I assume is supposed to be either a score list or some sort of achievements option doesn’t seem to do anything, making the game feel half complete. Still, it feels fresh compared to its peers, so hopefully enough interested players can encourage the developer to expand what the game has to offer.
CoDots on Google Play
Into The Dead 2 – I’ll actually be exploring this one in more detail in a full blown review, but in case that never actually materializes I wanted to mention it here. I was a huge fan of the first game, and this one ups the ante in just about every regard. The graphics are great, even on a mode low enough to run adequately on my device. The game play is smooth, and three different modes offer a little bit of something for everyone. The story mode feels like a sideline ripped from The Walking Dead, while survivor mode lets you test your mettle against players from around the world and Daily runs give you a chance to test out the best of the equipment. There are plenty of guns to discover and upgrade, as well as grenades to clear a group at long range and a knife just In case one of the undead gets up close and personal. Playing through story mode unlocks additional aspects of the game, as well as providing you with the parts necessary to enhance your equipment. Companions will help you slay the undead and find additional ammunition, and there are even times when you can use the terrain to your advantage. There’s a lot to this game, and if you’re an avid fan of zombie games there’s really no reason you shouldn’t have played it by now. It’s about the only game on my device that I’ve played for at least a few minutes every day since I first loaded it up.
Into The Dead 2 on Google Play
PikPok, Into the Dead 2 – Free
Bitcoin Mania – I’m a huge fan of match 3 games, so naturally once I got my new toy (okay, technically it’s a phone but if I can load games on it I consider it a toy) I did my best to find several new and interesting looking members of the genre that I could try out and hopefully enjoy. Sadly, this is not one of those. I will give it kudos for simply being a match 3 game and not having RPG elements or fixer-upper overtones or anything like that. The problem is, that’s about the only thing the game has going for it. The power ups are uninspired and the levels are boring. The music is grating and apparently on a couple of very short loops. The graphics are hard to look at, especially on a big board with small tokens. I suppose if you’re into the current bitcoin craze the theme might mean something to you, but personally I find it kind of garish. The one other minor thing you could toss in the plus side is that the game doesn’t handhold you through the first few levels, but in retrospect that might have been more interesting than what the game does offer. Unless you’re really hard up to find a match 3 experience, I’d let this one pass.
Bitcoin Mania on Google Play
Anuwat Pitakkorn, Bitcoin Mania – Free
Man Vs. Missiles – It seems like several games of this style came out within a short time span of each other, and to be honest the only reason I chose this one in particular was because I received a press release about it. Turns out I think I made a good choice. The premise is simple: avoid the missiles and collect coins. There are also two power ups that you can pick up, one of which gives a temporary shield and the other a slight speed boost for a short period of time. You can also buy flares which you can use to knock out planes that are tailing too close, but you can only carry five at a time. The game is kind enough to give you little arrows to indicate what direction things like coins and power ups are in, as well as where the bad guys are coming from. The main thing I don’t like game play wise is that it seems you have to actually stop controlling your plane long enough to fire a flare, which can easily result in premature death. Each level has certain requirements to meet in order to pass it, like collecting a certain number of coins or simply lasting for so many seconds. You can keep trying a level until you pass, and even when you fail you get to keep any coins you’ve collected. The coins are used to buy new ships, which give you an increase in speed and turning ability, or to upgrade the shield and power up boosts. There is a leaderboard, which based on the all time high scores appears to have been hacked, and there are no achievements, though I don’t know if that’s as much of an Android thing as it is in the iOS world.
Man vs. Missiles on Google Play
Spiel Studios, Man Vs. Missiles – Free
That wraps up the first edition of the Android Games Roundup (the name’s not as catchy as the latest one I came up with for the iOS version, but I’ll work on it). Eventually I’ll start building up a list of prior editions, which is kind of hard to do when this is your first, but in the mean time, here’s a link to the iOS roundups: iOS App Store Roundups. See you next time!