Android Games Roundup [12/02/18]

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It’s that most wonderful time of year again… no, Christmas isn’t quite here yet. I just happened to have another edition of my Android roundup ready. This one is a bit more lopsided when it comes to games I’m not recommending, but that’s okay because I feel it’s just as important that you know what to avoid as what you might want to play. On the plus side I came across a great thinking puzzle game called Tents and Trees Puzzles, and I also discovered a few oldies but goodies (at least old from the standpoint of me getting to them). As always I hope you find something to your liking, and happy gaming!

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Lovely Eyes – Lovely Eyes is an action puzzle game where you try and join two eyes together by launching one of them and hitting the other. I’m not a big fan of this type of puzzle game to begin with because once you’ve found a solution it is hard to reproduce with any accuracy. That means if it takes you 10 tries to nail it down the first time it might still take you 10 tries to get it again. That’s not very appealing if you’re trying to earn the 3 stars on each level. Of course it hasn’t been too difficult to accomplish this so far, as there have only been a couple in the nearly 100 levels I’ve played that I didn’t get 3 stars the first time around. The bigger problem is that overall this game kind of feels like a mess. I applaud the developer for trying to be creative with the levels, but for the most part the obstacles are fluff and can easily be avoided. Even though there are three stars to be earned on a level the ranking seems to be all or nothing – I have never gotten just 1 or 2 stars on a level. I’m not quite sure how the scoring works, because it seems that I can get 10 points on a level simply by playing it enough, even if I don’t get 3 stars the first time around (I think that’s what is supposed to give you 10 points for a level). There are no achievements and only one leaderboard, and since the leaderboard is based on a scoring system that isn’t clear there’s not much of a desire on my part to climb it. I think this game has some potential, but for the moment I’m just not feeling all that lovely.

Verdict: Pass
Lovely Eyes on Google Play
Lovely Eyes Pmware Technologies Pvt Ltd, Lovely Eyes – Free

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Magnet Jump: Flap Tap Jump Endless Hop – It’s been a while since I’ve played something that qualified for my “At least it’s not Flappy Bird” award, but here we go. In case you’re not familiar, I really disliked Flappy Bird, so when the parade of clones hit the App Store and I’d find one that I actually liked, I’d tag it with the description “At least it’s not Flappy Bird”. This game was practically daring me to do that, given the Google Play summary describing it as “Flappy Bird with a twist”. It turns out the twist is actually pretty cool. In Magnet Jump you have a health meter, and even more-so that health meter is spit in half. The top half is replenished when you touch the top of the level, and the bottom, naturally, when you touch the bottom of the level. The meters slowly drain on their own, but if you hit the top or bottom halves of your magnet with the pillars strewn throughout the level the respective health meters drain more quickly. The problem is that beyond this the game is nothing but a high score chaser, and not even a good one at that since the high scores appear to be local. There are no achievements to earn, nothing to unlock or upgrade, and no real reason to play the game after a few minutes. Magnet Jump has potential, but right now the best I can say is “At least it’s not Flappy Bird”.

Verdict: Pass
Magnet Jump on Google Play

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Balloon Girl – And the hits just keep on coming. Sadly, much like Magnet Jump this game has potential. I was excited because the initial concept very loosely reminded me of the Nintendo game Balloon Fight, which is one of my favorite console games. I love the retro feel of the game, from the graphics to the map layout to the audio (to an extent – though I will say the audio is the weakest part of the package). There are two game play modes, adventure and arcade, the former being level based and the latter being a randomly generated tunnel high score chaser. Much like Magnet Jump, arcade mode suffers from a lack of a community scoreboard. Sadly, Adventure mode has more pressing issues. Many of the levels are designed with the notion of exploration, but the timer often prevents that. Add to that the somewhat tolerable but wonky controls, and you can easily spend too much time trying to remain safe to take heed of the timer in the first place. That is, of course, until the timer runs out and you were one balloon away from completing the level. Through into the mix a paltry five lives that can only be replenished by waiting for a period of time or watching a video and the game really doesn’t cater to the person who might actually want to play for more than a few minutes at a time. Oh, and did I mention the fact (sorry to go geeky here for a sec) that the bounding boxes are a tad too generous, meaning that you’ll die a lot even when you don’t think you were close enough to anything to go pop? I really want to like this game, but Balloon Girl definitely needs so more polishing before I’d put it on my play list.

Verdict: Pass
Balloon Girl on Google Play

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Shadow Blade – When I first saw screen shots for this game I thought I was going to like it. Then I played it on my iPad and fell in love almost instantly. It was the modern Ninja Gaiden game I craved and couldn’t find in 3D interpretations on modern consoles. When the Android version went free temporarily it was a no-brainer for me to snatch it up. I don’t recall exactly how far I got on the iOS version, but as it turns out the game is just as entertaining the second time around. Mechanically the game is pretty basic, with left and right movement as well as an attack and jump button. There are a few “advanced” moves you can make, but nothing to strenuous to remember. Shadow Blade relies on actually presenting you with challenging levels in order to make the game difficult, and for the most part the levels are pretty interesting. Each level also has three shuriken to earn – 1 each for collecting all stars, getting both the symbols and beating the level under a certain amount of time. If I had one actual gripe about the game it would be that in order to truly beat the level you have to conquer all three goals at the same time. For me the most difficult one to fulfill is the time goal, so I have several levels that only have two shuriken. As for content, there are three chapters to the “story” levels, though there isn’t much of an actual story presented, and there are also Hardcore, Downtown and Dojo levels. So basically, there’s a lot to do. If you haven’t tried this wonderful homage to early console platformers yet, you really ought to give it a try.

Verdict: Play
Shadow Blade on Google Play
Shadow Blade Crescent Moon Games, Shadow Blade (TMA Review) – $1.99

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Tents and Trees Puzzles – I love this game. If I had to try and pigeon-hole it I’d say it’s a cross between the power line game and picross, but that’s not really even a fair or useful description. It’s really more like the opposite of the power line game, because instead of trying to connect a bunch of objects together, in this case you are trying to put a tent by every try while none of the tents actually touch (it’s okay if the trees touch, though, since you have no control over that). Every tree must have a tent adjacent to it, and diagonals don’t count. Thankfully the developers were kind enough to let you know how many tents you need in each row and column, hence the allusion to Picross. The levels are divided into classic packs and daily packs, and for daily you get levels for the current and previous days. For each group of levels you get one subset for free, and then you have to unlock subsequent subsets with coins you earn. For each level you complete you earn two coins, which can be doubled by watching a video. You can also watch videos from the shop menu and every 6 hours you turn 10 coins. For a while this should keep you in free level groups, but eventually you’ll probably need to spend some IAP to nab the most expensive level sets… unless you want to wait lots of hours and watch a bunch of extra videos. Personally I think the developers give you the ability to unlock a lot of the content for free, though I do wish there were an overall option to just buy all of the level sets instead of having to IAP the coins. Still, the game is a lot of fun, and it’s nice having a play-at-your-pace logic game that doesn’t get boring after a few minutes.

Verdict: Play
Tents and Trees Puzzles on Google Play
Tents and Trees Puzzles Frozax Games, Tents and Trees Puzzles – Free

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Fishbowl Racer – Donut Games has always been one of my favorite casual game developers on the mobile platform. I’ve played many of their offerings on the iOS side, but I don’t recall this one. I’m sorry I hadn’t gotten the chance to play it before now. The premise is quite simple – collect as much fish food as you can without crashing the fishbowl (it seems our aquatic friend doesn’t like it when you demolish his home). What makes this different than most infinite runners is that there are two jump buttons. The first controls the fishbowl itself, and the second is for the fish. The trick is to make sure you’re paying enough attention to the fishbowl so you don’t crash it, while still making the fish jump enough to actually collect the fish food. Additionally, the fish food is all up on shelves, so if you’re skilled enough you can often keep the fish up across multiple shelves to earn bonuses. Unfortunately I’m not usually that skilled. The game only offers one game play mode, though there are 26 achievements to earn. With the trademark pixel graphics and interesting game mechanic there’s still a lot to love here, and it’s always good to have a Donut Games game floating around on your device.

Verdict: Play
Fishbowl Racer on Google Play
Fishbowl Racer Donut Games, Fishbowl Racer – $0.99

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Comix Zone Classic – It’s time for another trip down the SEGA digital highway. The game is Comix Zone, and I have to admit that I’m not quite sure why this game appeals to me so much. I mean conceptually I get it – the suave, Johnny Bravo type main character, the comic book framed levels and a rat named Roadkill that finds things hidden in the scenes – what’s not to love? But mechanically the game’s fairly basic, with one button for all the fighting moves, another to jump and a third to block. Throw in a “one and done” life system and the game can be kind of frustrating. Yet discounting the original cartridge back when I had my first SEGA Genesis, I’ve owned this game on at least three other systems thanks to the genius of emulators, and I have a blast every time I play it. That’s good enough in my book for a recommendation from me. The graphics are obviously a bit dated but I think they still hold up fairly well. The controls aren’t great but then this style of game really doesn’t translate well to the touch screen, especially for the D-pad control. But, they do an adequate job given they are not physical controls. This particular version has a save feature which helps you get around the “one and done” life system, and even though you have to watch videos to make use of it even having the option available is nice. I’m not sure how much appeal Comix Zone will have to folks that didn’t experience it the first time around, but for free I think it’s worth giving the game a shot.

Verdict: Play
Comix Zone Classic on Google Play
Comix Zone Classic SEGA, Comix Zone Classic – Free

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