Android Games Roundup [6/29/19]

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I’m back with another round of Android gaming goodness (and not so good-ness), and I made it just under the wire for a June release.  I apologize for the heavy leaning towards matching style games, but just consider it a match 3 debate (because those of us in the U.S. won’t have enough of those over the next year+).  I did get the chance to play a cool little platformer from a few years back that I didn’t know existed, and I also found another infinite runner that managed to keep me entertained for more than a few minutes.  On the flips side, half the matching games I checked out didn’t match my requirements for fun, and a couple of the other games couldn’t bring themselves to rise about the mire that increasingly clogs the app warehouse we call the Google Play Store.  Hopefully you’ll find a couple titles to enjoy, a few to stay away from, and most importantly if you’re in the summer months right now, something to do to keep you away from the heat.roundup-20190629-chuzzle-2

Chuzzle 2 [12/18/18] – While I was checking out the Google Play entry for a game Chuzzle 2 showed up as a recommendation.  I loved the first one when I was an iOS junkie, so I figured why not give the sequel a try?  I’m glad I did.  Chuzzle 2 is a matching game, but instead of swapping two tiles or dragging your finger across several items to make a match, here you slide a row or column until you get at least three Chuzzles of the same color next to each other.  Each world is comprised of several levels that have different goals, whether it’s turning the background of every tile gold or filling a jar with “essence of Chuzzle” before you can no longer make any moves.  Thankfully only a subset of the levels are truly timed, though some feel that way because after so many moves a Chuzzle will get locked in place.  One particularly interesting game is where you play against the computer to see who is the first one to run out of moves (hint: you don’t want to be that player).  As you complete each level you’ll make your way down towards the goal, at which point you can move to the next world or complete all the levels that weren’t necessary to get you to the end.  Along the way you’ll gather coins, puzzle pieces and the occasional heart which can be used to instantly beat a level.  Putting together the puzzles reveals Chuzzles that you can add to your Chuzzarium, which is basically a Tomagotchi for Chuzzles.  You can use the coins you collect to buy Food, Fun Stuff and Wallpapers for your Chuzarium, so if this aspect of the game is important to you then you might find yourself spending some IAP on extra coins.  The only other purchase appears to be removing ads, so you can’t buy your way to victory.  The ads can get annoying (they pop up after every level when you have a decent connection), but otherwise this is a great F2P game with cute characters that should appeal to both kids and adults.

Verdict: Play
Chuzzle 2 on Google Play
Chuzzle 2 Raptisoft, Chuzzle 2 – Free

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Juicy Fruit [2/12/19] – I tend to be a bit wary when taking suggestions from my children, but my oldest daughter was playing Juicy Fruit one day and it looked kind of interesting.  After finally getting it to download on my device (no fault of the game’s mind you), I think I’ve gotten hooked.  The purpose of Juicy Fruit it to roll a piece of fruit into a juicer that can be found at the end of each level.  Thankfully they restrained themselves from using tilting to control the action, but instead you drag your finger across the screen to “tilt” the board and hopefully get the fruit to roll where you wanted.  Granted this can still make for some tense moments as you seem to easily lose control of your round avatar, but I still prefer touch control to actually twisting the device around.  Anyway, after the first couple of levels each one is broken into several sections, and if you die anywhere besides the first section you can continue by watching an ad.  You might not like that option, but the alternative is to start from the beginning, which doesn’t seem that bad until you realize that your juice meter, which decreases every time you move around the board, stays where it is at if you elect to go back to the beginning instead of continuing at the section you’re currently in.  If you decide to watch the ad and stay put then any juice you lost on that section will be restored to you.  Once you’ve completed a level the juice you have left will be added to your rolling total (see what I did there?).  If you happen to spot and collect a juice vile along the way that will be included in your total as well, which means you can possibly get more than the 100 mL of juice you started with.  There are also bonus levels periodically that let offer the potential of lots of extra juice provided you can get all the fruit that’s tossed at you to one of the juicers scattered around the level.  These start out fun, but eventually get a bit crazy for me.  When you hit certain totals you’ll get a new fruit to play with, though other than changing the color of the trail you leave I don’t think they affect game play at all.  The graphics are cute, the music is fun, and since you’re playing with fruit it’s good for your health, right?

Verdict: Play
Juicy Fruit on Google Play

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Foodgod’s Food Truck Frenzy [3/21/19] – I don’t recall if this is the first or second time Atari has tried to make a comeback, but given that I grew up during the era of the 2600 it’s always nice to see the brand name alive and well.  Of course when it comes to match 3 games it doesn’t really matter whose logo is at the beginning, there’s a good chance it’s going to feel just like 99% of the other match 3 games out there.  From a pure mechanics standpoint, there really isn’t anything that sticks out about Food Truck Frenzy, though I do like the fact that you can move tiles around the board without actually making matches.  What I do like about the game is that while there is a single player game, Food Truck Frenzy really encourages you to play the multi-player option.  In this mode you’ll compete against one other player to see who can be the first to earn the most likes from their customers.  What’s cool is that you play on the same board, and you can actually watch as your opponent takes their turn so that you can plan your moves (or cringe as they take the power up that you were planning on using).  Whether you win or lose you will earn some coins and any jelly that you’ve collected.  When you win you work your way up the leaderboard, and as you hit certain milestones you’ll earn rewards like unlocking new trucks or getting extra coins.  The coins can be used to upgrade trucks and recipes, the latter of which act as unique power ups that only you can use while playing the game.  Upgrading the truck provides extra slots for multiple recipes and also makes your idle earning amount larger.  I’m not a huge fan of multi-player experiences, but this one has got my attention.

Verdict: Play
Foodgod’s Food Truck Frenzy on Google Play
Foodgod's Food Truck Frenzy™ Atari, Foodgod’s Food Truck Frenzy™ – Free

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Candy Land: Free Match 3 Games [Unreleased] – I might just have to subtitle this roundup the “mostly match 3 issue”!  Unfortunately, unlike the first two candidates, this one leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.  That’s doubly sad given that the theme of the game is candy!  All the standards are here: increasingly difficult levels, plenty of power ups and several types of inconvenient tiles to deal with.  Each level has certainly goals to meet, and if you complete the level in the required number of moves you get up to three stars.  You’ll also earn some coins and 10 baskets.  The baskets are used to complete orders, which in turn earn you XP and a chance to level up your residence.  When you’ve done that three times you move on to the next land.  For each set of 20 stars you collect you get a gift box, and for each 10 orders you complete you do as well.  These gift boxes contain power ups and coins.  You can also join a team, which can get you life refills and even more bonuses, but doesn’t really add much to the game.  And that’s the overall problem with Candy Land – none of the features stand out, and at the end of the day it’s a “been there, done that” type of situation.  I’ve played almost 55 levels in the game now, and I’m still waiting for that moment when I feel the game would be worth keeping on my device past the review.  Sadly, I don’t think that moment is going to come.  It’s not at all that Candy Land is a bad game, it’s just that with all the match 3 choices that are available, there’s no reason to pick this one over so many of the other ones I’ve written about in the past.  If you’ve really got the match 3 itch try Food Truck Frenzy instead, or hit up my current standby: We Bear Bears Match 3 Repairs.

Verdict: Pass
Candy Land on Google Play

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Rescue Beary – Adventure in Water Physics Puzzle [12/20/18] – It’s a good thing this is just a video game, because if this were real life Beary would not be able to count on me.  Poor Beary just wants to enjoy a leisurely stroll through a bunch of waterways, eating fish and avoiding things that go bump in the night (or for the less squeamish, things that like to devour bears).  To guide him along the way you initially have access to waves and bombs.  The former is more plentiful but only pushes Beary so far before it runs out of steam, whereas the latter causes quite a bang but tends not to be so controllable.  There are 3 fish to collect on each level, and in order to unlock the bonus level for each world you’ll need to acquire all the fish on every level.  I’m not quite sure how many fish you need to advance to the next world, but thankfully they let you watch a video instead because I don’t think I’ll ever get the necessary amount.  In the second set of levels you gain the ability to drop steaks to attract the nasty sharks (which as I found out in level 8 of the first world weren’t just for decoration).  Of course I could have used the new skill to actually completely level 8, but I suppose that’s too much to ask.  You start each level with a certain quantity of each skill, and you can actually buy more with coins you earn or purchase via IAP, but frankly if this is supposed to be a puzzle game, you ought to be able to complete the level with what they give you in the first place.  The level design so far makes it seem more like an awkward action game, but the pacing can’t seem to decide between puzzle and action.  At the end of the day, however, I haven’t really enjoyed it regardless of how you classify it.

Verdict: Pass
Rescue Beary on Google Play
Rescue Beary – Physics Puzzle Colin Kaufmann, Rescue Beary – Physics Puzzle – Free

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Tiny Dangerous Dungeons [5/4/15] – This is a great little game, especially if you grew up with handheld devices like the Gameboy.  It’s a side scroller with some Zelda like elements, and yes I am aware that there is actually a side scrolling Zelda game.  I’m not really familiar with that one, but this is rather entertaining.  There’s no real plot, but you don’t really need one.  You basically explore a cool looking dungeon while trying not to get killed.  Along the way you’ll gain skills like the ability to move large objects or to toss daggers.  You also need to find keys so you can unlock doors to deeper parts of the dungeon.  You only have so many hearts for taking hits, but luckily along the way there are statues that will refresh your hearts and save your game for you.  You can even get a few extra heart slots in some of the chests you find along the way.  These will be extremely helpful when you face the big boss at the end of the game.  The controls work quite well, and while there is sometimes frustration in getting the timing down just right, it actually makes it feel that much more like a retro platformer.  Even the graphics look like they were borrowed from a Gameboy game at first glance, though I’d wager there’s a bit more detail to be found here than in any Gameboy cartridge.  The only real frustration revolved around the map, which wasn’t always the most helpful since it merely highlights which area you are currently in, not where you’ve already been.  Still, this is a small quibble all things considered.  I don’t normally say this about games these days but I do wish this one had been a bit longer.  In the end, though, I’ll take what I was able to get.

Verdict: Play
Tiny Dangerous Dungeons on Google Play
Tiny Dangerous Dungeons Jussi Simpanen, Tiny Dangerous Dungeons – $0.99

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Talking Tom Hero Dash [6/4/19] – I’m always up for another infinite running game, but to be honest I wasn’t expecting much from this one.  I know nothing about the property it is based off of, and when my son was looking over my shoulder at one point he said “isn’t that basically Subway Surfers with animals?”  At first glance I would have agreed with him, but I’ve certainly enjoyed my time with it a lot more than I ever did with Subway Surfers.  I’m not even entirely sure why, though I’d imagine the superhero theme doesn’t hurt.  You start off with Talking Tom, and as you clean up each area and defeat the raccoon boss (again and again) you can free several friends to help you in your quest.  As with any “good” F2P game there are three currencies to collect, in this case gold coins, purple gems and red tickets.  Coins can be collected simply by running through a level, while all the resources can be earned through completing events and opening goodie boxes.  Regular boxes are acquired through watching ads, Super boxes require coins or taking out 50 raccoons while running through a level, and Rare boxes need 80 tickets apiece – and as you might expect, tickets are the hardest currency to come by.  So what do you do with all these goodies?  Each area you visit has been overrun by the vile raccoons, so you can use coins and gems to send in the troops and clean up the sections of a given location.  Coins and tickets can also be used to purchase bonus boxes, and the boxes can be opened more expediently by redeeming some tickets.  There are currently four friends to rescue, and each has two costumes to collect besides the one they start with.  I don’t believe the costumes affect game play, but at least you can pick what you think makes your characters look the best.  There’s nothing revolutionary about Hero Dash, but there are a few small things thrown in like the ability to unleash a mini super power when you swipe down from a jump or the need to fight the raccoon boss when you finish cleaning up the stage.  The latter is nothing challenging, per se, but it’s a nice break from the running every once in a while.  And, there aren’t too many games where you’ll see trees growing out of toilets.

Verdict: Play
Talking Tom Hero Dash on Google Play
Talking Tom Hero Dash Outfit7 Limited, Talking Tom Hero Dash – Free

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Crush-O-Mania : Fruit Crush Game [4/4/19] – Okay, so I had to throw in one more matching game.  On the plus side, this uses the main matching mechanic I haven’t mentioned yet in this roundup, which is dragging your finger across as many of the same object as you can at once.  If you factor that out of the equation, however, I think I liked this game even less than Candy Land.  I’ve pretty much been over the fruit theme since Fruit Ninja more or less disappeared.  The levels aren’t that interesting, the power ups are too standard, and the goals are pretty bland.  One goal is simply to earn a certain number of stars on a level, which if you’re aiming for less than the full 3 seems silly anyway.  The graphics feel cookie cutter, and I didn’t realize how repetitive the music was until I left the game running for a few minutes while doing something else.  At this point you’re probably thinking I’m being a bit harsh, and maybe I am.  But consider this: in this roundup alone I’ve covered 4 matching style games.  That means there are plenty of this type of game to choose from, and if you want to stand out in this genre you really have to offer something different like Chuzzle 2, or at least provide a competitive atmosphere like Food Truck Frenzy or quirky characters like We Bare Bears: Match 3 Repairs which I covered a while back and still play at least a few times a week.  Unfortunately, Crush-O-Mania does none of that, and will most likely be forgotten not longer after I’ve deleted it from my device.

Verdict: Pass
Crush-O-Mania on Google Play

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Last Day Jumper [5/14/19] – Short but dramatic setup aside, which seems a bit unnecessary for this type of game, I actually like Last Day Jumper.  The graphics are pixel goodness, even when you’re watching cute, defenseless creatures get impaled on a nasty buzz saw.  The music is well written too, and actually a bit upbeat given the dire circumstances you find yourself in.  Plus, the one tap control and relatively short levels makes it ideal for one handed game play while waiting in line or possibly at time when you shouldn’t be play it.  So at this point you’re probably expecting a “but”, and I try not to disappoint.  I realize that the sad state of affairs of the two major mobile app stores causes F2P to be the way to go for most developers these days, or at least that is their perception.  Whether or not you believe that is the case, this developer has gone full force with that attitude.  You only get 3 lives to start with.  That seems reasonable enough, but I can go through that in 30 seconds on a more challenging level, and I have.  Then you have to decide if you want to just wait for lives to refill or watch and ad to get 3 more lives.  On more than one level I think I spent more time watching ads than actually playing the game.  Now to be fair, you are periodically rewarded with 100 coins, and you also earn 100 coins when you complete each level.  If you don’t care about buying new characters you can use those coins to continue on a level, but that can get expensive as the cost to continue starts at 100 coins (or a video) and increases 100 coins every time you use it.  And let’s not forget the fact that you lose a life simply by starting a level, not by dying.  So even if you complete a level on one try you’re still down a life at the next level.  At the end of the day this game can only truly be enjoyed if you pay the $1.99 to get unlimited lives.  Now I realize that’s not a lot to pay for a game, but the problem is that it should be my desire to pay the price, not a feeling of being forced if I want to actually have fun playing.  Ultimately that is a deal breaker for me.

Verdict: Pass
Last Day Jumper on Google Play
Last Day Jumper Ruben Pecellin, Last Day Jumper – Free

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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