Android Games Roundup [7/15/18]

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Another roundup is here and it hasn’t even been 2 months yet!  I know, I’m shocked too.  I was hoping things would pick up a bit, but life has this funny habit of continually getting in my way.  At any rate, I actually included an additional game in this roundup, and eventually I might get back up to the 10 game quota I had in the iOS days.  I tried to pick a nice variety of genres again, and I finally got to try out a game I’ve been wanting to play but that wasn’t compatible with my old Apple device.  I also found a couple of nice RPG lite games for those who like the grinding but don’t have hours at a time to invest in a mobile game, and a cool motorcycle game that reminds me just a bit of one of my SEGA Genesis favorites.  I apologize for the lack of corresponding iOS links this time around, but iTunes isn’t cooperating with me at the moment.

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Save Animals : Escape – When I first grabbed this game it was in beta, and after a bit I was ready to delete it due to very weak controls.  Of course unrefined mechanics is par for the course in betas, and now that aspect of the game seems to be stabilized, which makes the scheme interesting and unique among runners.  The game uses one tap control to both turn your character and jump, depending on your character’s proximity to a corner in the path.  That makes Save Animals perfect for one handed game play.  I also like the fact that it appears that different characters actually affect game play, which is a nice feature that so many casual games like this lack these days.  Hats and outfits and such are great for the short term when it comes to collecting rewards, but if they don’t affect the actual game in any way then it eventually becomes a non-motivator.  That being said, there are still some severe issues with this game.  The camera is wonky, which at best means movement can be choppy and at worst means it will adjust so that you don’t see a trap coming until it’s too late to do anything about it.  Speaking of traps, the randomized nature of the playing field means that quite often there will be two traps that are close enough together that you can’t dodge them both, meaning you’ll die for no fault of your own.  The game offers 13 achievements, but they are all simply based on milestones of reaching a certain number of turns.  There are also 5 leaderboards, but I don’t know what advances you from one leaderboard to the next.  Even the various characters are burdensome to collect without spending any money on IAP, because the cheapest one requires 5000 coins to purchase.  Save Animals : Escape has a lot of potential, but until they get some of the issues fixed and provide a bit more immediate gratification (maybe a couple of really basic characters that are cheaper to purchase) I have to give this game a pass.

Verdict: Pass
Save Animals : Escape on Google Play

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Moorhuhn – Crazy Chicken Wanted – Every once in a while a game with the Moorhuhn name shows up on one platform or another, and to be honest I never really know if they are official games or just really good looking hacks.  Such is the case with Crazy Chicken Wanted, but the game is fun so I’m not sure I really care.  The basic premise is that you keep shooting chickens, trying to rack up as high a score as you can.  Of course these chickens will try to escape by either running or flying (?) away, so you have to be diligent in your efforts.  And then there are the ones that will actually shoot back, so you need to make sure you take care of them before they extinguish the three lives you are given.  Part of what makes these games so fun, though, is that there is so much more to shoot at than just the chickens, and to really get something out of the game you have to keep searching for all of these extras.  There are four stages to play, three of which are unlocked by reaching a certain score on the prior stage.  Assuming the rest work like the first a stage is comprised of two different scenes that you can easily swipe between for maximum chicken hunting.  There’s only a simple high score leaderboard and no achievements to earn, but this game doesn’t really feel like it needs anything more.  I just hope the other three levels are as entertaining as the first once I get to them.

Verdict: Play
Moorhuhn – Crazy Chicken Wanted on Google Play

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Retro Highway – I actually thought I had included this one a couple of roundups ago, but as soon as I realized I hadn’t I knew it had to go in this one.  As the name suggests there’s nothing revolutionary about this game.  In fact, it kind of reminds me of the classic Road Rash, though you don’t get the opportunity to pick up weapons and bash other racers off their bikes.  Instead the game plays a bit more like an infinite runner on a motorcycle where you spend a lot of time dodging vehicles and trying to complete various challenges.  Completing the challenges allows you to unlock new locations to race in, while collecting money gives you the opportunity to buy new bikes or upgrade the three power ups that are available.  Between what’s lying on the road (or in the air when you jump), watching videos and completing challenges there are plenty of chances in-game to earn some cash, while a 1 time IAP purchase will remove all ads if you’re interested.  In addition to the challenges there are 9 achievements to earn and a leaderboard for each of the locations.  Retro Highway really doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but it does a great job of reminding you why there’s something to be said about the “simpler old days” of gaming.

Verdict: Play
Retro Highway on Google Play
Retro Highway Nicolai Danielsen, Retro Highway – Free

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Alto’s Adventure – My first thought when playing this game was “Tiny Wings”, a game I used to love on the iOS platform.  Ironically, when I search for that phrase in the play store in my browser Alto’s Adventure is one of the games that comes up.  While I certainly spent my share of time with Tiny Wings, Alto’s Adventure takes this type of casual gaming to a whole new level.  From the start it’s clear to see that this game is gorgeous.  And not only is the scenery beautiful, but there are so many details to make the world come to life.  Birds that fly away when you board through them, trails that kick up behind whoever is running down the hill, and various weather effects are just some of the features the visuals do really well.  Add to that good sound effects and soothing music, and the atmosphere can be mesmerizing.  Granted there are times where darkness or an excess of background clutter can make it hard to see that all important rock that you need to jump over, but in the end it’s a minor inconvenience for such a vibrant landscape.  Game play is simple enough – tap the screen when you want Alto to jump.  The longer you hold the father he’ll jump, and in the process he’ll attempt to do a backflip.  The two key factors are that you don’t plow into any rocks or fires and that you always land on your board.  As you progress through the randomly generated levels you’ll collect coins that can be used to increase your power ups.  You’ll also complete missions, and for every three missions you finish you increase a level.  After a certain number of levels you’ll unlock a new character, though you can buy them outright via IAP if you wish.  Coins are great for skipping missions and continuing a run when you die if you’re so inclined.  Besides the missions there are 17 achievements to earn and 3 leaderboards to conquer: best score, best distance and best combo.  And should you not care about any of that, there’s a Zen mode where you can just board to your heart’s content, and if you ever get knocked down you simply tap the screen to continue where you left off.  For a causal gaming experience it’s hard to ask for more.

Verdict: Play
Alto’s Adventure on Google Play

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Ruins Of Marr – I remember when I used to play rogue-like games on my laptop, mainly because it wasn’t powerful enough to play “real” games.  The truth is, though, a well done rouge-like is nice because it gives you the feel of an RPG without having to invest tons of time or deal with complex quests.  I would argue that Ruins Of Marr is just such a game.  In typical rogue-like fashion you’ll explore a series of randomly generated levels, trying to make your way to the bottom of the dungeon.  If you die, you have to start over.  You can move to the next level without conquering everything on the current one, but then you don’t get any experience, which raises your character’s level and I believe increases a stat.  When you find an altar you’ll be able to add to your buffs, which are basically bonuses to your stats.  You get to pick from three choices which are randomly selected from the available options.  You also get a reward each time you progress to the next level, and these rewards are randomly chosen as well.  The nice thing is that you can watch an ad to reset the selections.  There are a couple of other really nice features that I’ve not seen in this type of game before as well.  The first is an auto-explore, which will move your character around the level until you come across an item or monster.  If you’ve conquered and collected everything in a level you will be taken to the stairs leading to the next level.  The second thing is the explorer’s stone, which restores some hit points and can be used up to five times on each level.  It’s not quite as useful when you are deeper in the dungeon and have a lot of life to restore, but it can truly be a life saver on the earlier levels.  The game offers a few achievements, and also has leaderboards, which seems a bit odd for a rogue-like but intriguing as well.  Honestly, my main gripe with this game is the music, which you can of course turn off if you’d like.

Verdict: Play
Ruins of Marr on Google Play

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Roller Crash – Endless Runner – There was a time when games like Temple Run and Subway Surfer were all the rage.  Games with this style of game play still shows up in the various app stores all the time, but it seems like they don’t get recognized all that often these days.  I think this one should.  It’s not the game play that makes Roller Crash stand out, though.  Instead, it’s the fact that you focus on building one character to maximize your playing style rather than trying to unlock several characters that might only enhance the gaming experience in a single manner.  Your character has three skill slots, and there are a total of 12 active and 4 passive skills to choose from.  Some of the skills can even be upgraded with money you collect as you race and from completing goals or leveling up because of the experience you gain on a given run.  As you’re racing you’ll see the skills at the bottom of the screen and you can either tap them to activate them or use the corresponding gesture – swipe up, swipe down or double tap depending on the slot.  The whole skill system is genius, and the gesture control works quite well, though I would suggest placing passive skills in the double tap spot as that seems to be the hardest gesture to pull off.  The other thing I find interesting is that you can create or join a club.  This allows you to earn extra rewards by contributing to club challenges.  Roller Crash took a genre that was clearly over saturated and still managed to bring something new to the table, and for that it deserves some recognition.

Verdict: Play
Roller Crash – Endless Runner on Google Play

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Bloomberry – match-3 story – Another roundup, another match 3 game to talk about.  For starters, I do need to give the developer credit for not using the standard hybrid fallbacks: RPG mechanics or a scenario where you have to rebuild something that’s been destroyed or left to rot.  Unfortunately, their substitute for the non-match 3 portion of the game was basically a Tamagotchi environment, which is something I’m not really fond of.  And this particular rendition, while it looks good, doesn’t offer much in the way of interactivity.  Basically you can feed the critter, pet it and put it to sleep.  There’s not much there to sell someone on a game style they don’t like to begin with.  Luckily a lot of times when I play these hybrid games I concentrate on the match 3 part, unless the other element is so integrated that you have to keep up with both things (for example, I haven’t actually worked on my house in Homescapes for a long time now).  The problem is that the match 3 portion of the game is underwhelming as well.  There is nothing new in terms of mechanics, the level design is uninspired, and the visuals aren’t nearly up to the level of the rest of the game.  As a huge match 3 fan I always head into reviews of such games with as much optimism as possible, but the truth is that unless you’re a huge Tamagotchi fan, there’s no reason to spend time on this game when you have gems like Homescapes or We Bare Bears Match-3 Repairs at your disposal.

Verdict: Pass
Bloomberry – match-3 story on Google Play

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Dungeon Cards – I’ve been doing this long enough now that it’s hard to come across a game I can honestly label “unique”.  I think Dungeon Cards fits the bill.  This is a rogue like, but instead of a heavily menu driven game or an RPG hybrid or your typical 8 bit dungeon crawling game, everything here is done on a 3 x 3 grid of cards.  All you have to do is tap on the card adjacent to your avatar’s that you wish to interact with.  If it’s something like a potion, weapon or coin you’ll pick it up.  Potions are automatically used, and weapons will be equipped if they have a higher power than your current one.  If you tap on a monster and your weapon is greater than or equal to their hit points you’ll slay them (unless there are special circumstances like hitting a flame with a fire wand, in which case you’ll actually increase their HP).  If the weapon isn’t powerful enough to kill them their hit points will be reduced by the power of the weapon, but they won’t fight back.  If you attack with an empty hand you’ll both loose the same amount of HP.  Of course once your HP is down to zero it’s game over.  As you continue to conquer dungeons and raise your score you’ll unlock new dungeons, extra characters and bonus powers.  There are a total of 9 powers, and you can have up to three selected at a time.  All of the powers can be upgraded with coins you collect throughout the game, and so can each character.  The skills are triggered automatically based on coins and rubies you collect, making this a candidate for one handed game play on a small screen.  There are 9 achievements to earn if you are so inclined, but most of them look like they’ll take a while so don’t expect much instant gratification from that angle.  Overall, if you like RPG lite style games and are looking for something that you haven’t experienced before, Dungeon Cards is the game for you.

Verdict: Play
Dungeon Cards on Google Play

That wraps up another edition of the Android Games Roundup.  Check the list below for prior installments and keep on gaming!

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