Android Games Roundup [9/8/19]

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It’s once again time for me to impart some biased thoughts on several Android game releases.  Biased because they are mine, not because anyone influenced me to share as I did.  The most pleasant surprise this roundup was Total Party Kill a puzzle game with RPG style characters that in theory requires you to kill at least one party member to solve each level.  One of the achievements says otherwise, but I have as yet to win that one.  The biggest disappointment was Pokemon Rumble Rush, which really felt like nothing more than another attempt at capitalizing on a popular franchise to sell a sub-par game.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Pokemon Masters ends up being a much more entertaining game.

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Pokemon Rumble Rush [5/22/19] – I remember the first time I played a Pokemon game (back in the Gameboy days), and at the time it was like nothing I had ever played before.  The idea of collecting Pokemon to build your collection of fighters was awesome and upgrading and evolving them was cool as well.  Sure it was basically a role playing game with cute creatures as your team, but it felt different for some reason.  Now we have several Pokemon themed games available for non-Nintendo devices, and I’m still waiting to find one that recaptures the magic from those Gameboy days.  Sure Pokemon Rumble Rush has that collecting aspect going for it, but the combat has been reduced to slinging your active Pokemon around the screen until you knock all of your opponents senseless.  Then you fight a final boss, which so far has not been very challenging, and you move on to the next level.  There’s not really any exploring involved since you just pick a location from an overhead map and all you do at that location is fight.  The concept of enhancing your Pokemon with Summon Gear and Power Gear to make them stronger and give them unique attacks is neat, but just makes it feel like any other F2P grinder on the app stores these days.  There are challenges to complete to earn extra gems and coins, but they really aren’t anything that you won’t conquer simply by playing the game through the adventure mode.  I just hope this isn’t going to end up like Angry Birds where overconfident developers feel slapping a beloved IP onto one humdrum game after the next is the right thing to do.

Verdict: Pass
Pokemon Rumble Rush on Google Play
Pokémon Rumble Rush The Pokemon Company, Pokémon Rumble Rush – Free

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OceanAdventure2 [12/20/18] – The first time I played this game I wasn’t a fan.  It appears that it needs a network connection rather frequently, and I was somewhere that didn’t have good service, so doing anything took forever.  I finally got around to trying it again, and I have to say that I am intrigued.  The main game involves guiding a creature through the sea, collecting shrimp and water droplets and passing through bubble rings while avoiding pretty much everything else.  You tap to rise and let go to fall, and the mechanic has the same pluses and minuses that it does in every other game of this type.  The shrimp are used to buy things in other parts of the game and the bubble rings are how you earn your stars for the level, but I don’t recall what the water droplets do.  The problem is the way most of the levels are designed precludes you from getting both the bubble rings and the water droplets, and often it can be a challenge just to get the bubble rings, even in the early levels.  What I thought was interesting about the game, though, is that your avatars also act as aquatic Tamagotchis.  Each one has its own tank that you can clean and decorate, and as you feed them they will level up and get more life added to their health meter.  You can also use pearls to increase their skills, as every critter has a unique one to offer.  There are daily and overall missions to complete that earn you extra shrimp and pearls, and you can convert shrimp to pearls in the clam farms.  There’s even an infinite stage that you can hone your game playing skills on.  Unfortunately I can’t see myself spending too much time on this personally, as I find the levels unbalanced in difficulty and I don’t get why it has to be connected to the internet all the time.  Still, I find the combination of game and virtual pet interesting, and I think it would be good for younger kids due to its cute characters and non-violent atmosphere.

Verdict: On The Fence
OceanAdventure2 on Google Play
OceanAdventure2 digita, Inc., OceanAdventure2 – Free

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Total Party Kill [7/2/19] – In the 90s there was a cool puzzle game called The Lost Vikings, where you controlled 3 Vikings with different skills that had to work together to solve puzzles and escape each room they were in.  Fast forward to 2019 and Total Party Kill  In this game you have 3 characters: a knight that can knock people across the screen with his sword, an archer that skewers folks against the wall using his bow and arrow, and a mage that looks like Orco and can freeze people with his staff.  Just like in Lost Vikings, your goal is to use the combined talents of your party to reach the exit on each level.  Unlike the other game, however, in Total Party Kill you can expect to lose at least one party member on each level.  Freeze your team mates so you can step safely across spiked pits.  Smack the archer across a level with your sword so you can reach the button that’s too far for anyone to jump to.  The game offers 60 levels of sometimes mind twisting puzzles along with a speed mode where you have to complete them all in a row while trying to maintain minimal deaths.  There are only 7 achievements to earn, but one of them involves beating a level without killing anyone, so I imagine that one will keep you busy for a while.  The graphics have a League of Evil feel to them, and you can’t help but not feel so bad about the slaughter when you see the remaining party members do a little dance at the completion of a level.  This is a fun puzzle game with a unique twist that is basically free to play if you can tolerate the ads.

Verdict: Play
Total Party Kill on Google Play
Total Party Kill Jussi Simpanen, Total Party Kill – Free

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Angry BaBa: Hit & Far away [9/4/18] – I grabbed this game mainly because I was looking at the developer’s Google Play profile for another game I wanted and I noticed it was free temporarily.  It turns out the game is actually somewhat entertaining.  It’s a distance game: in this case, how far you as a caveman can knock the objects being tossed at you with your fist.  So far I’ve had a flaming rock, a toxic barrel and a pumpkin surrounded with bats thrown in my direction.  As with most of these games you set the angle (and I’m presuming power) of the attack, and then you let go at just the right moment to cause the maximum impact.  Assuming you make contact you’ll send the object flying in the air, at which point you keep your fingers crossed that you can take out some of the pelicans or flying turtles that are carrying rubies.  Don’t keep them crossed too tight, though, because if you hit something you’ll have to swipe your finger across the screen to collect the precious gems.  And if you’re really lucky once your item hits the ground at some point a Wooly Mammoth will toss it back up in the air for a second run.  You get three tries per round, and if you complete the mission for that round you’ll earn a bonus supply of rubies.  Also, sometimes you’ll get a fourth try at which point you’ll take on a planet, but that just shatters and gives you even more rubies.  It’s a cool but superfluous way to get some extra loot.  In this game the loot allows you to increase a variety of skills, buy some items that can be used at the beginning of a round, or purchase a new skin.  Unlike so many of these games, the skins actually have properties that affect game play.  There are even achievements to earn that reward you with additional rubies.  I’m also rather fond of the visuals, which for some reason remind me of the original Donkey Kong Country for the SNES.  There’s not really anything new here for this genre, but Angry BaBa just does everything quite well.

Verdict: Play
Angry BaBa on Google Play
Angry BaBa: Hit & Far away gameday Inc., Angry BaBa: Hit & Far away – Free

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Cutting Floor [9/23/19] – Ah, another infinite game.  In this case it’s not really a runner, because you control a piece of tile sliding along the floor.  Every time you come to a bend in the path you tap to change direction, and the floor behind you falls away.  If you happen to be hanging over a bit you don’t die, but your tile becomes smaller as the part of you that is hanging over falls away.  You keep going until you don’t tap quickly enough and the last little bit of you careens off the edge.  Your score is based on how many turns you take before the inevitable happens, and there is a leaderboard based on that score.  There are also gems you can collect which allow you to buy different colors for the path.  Unfortunately you don’t get to choose the new color you want to buy, and the color each time you play is chosen randomly from the ones you already own.  There are no power ups and no achievements, and while neither of those would necessarily make any sense in this game, that means there’s nothing really to work for other than the leaderboard.  Given the basic game play and all of the other games like this out on the mobile landscape, there’s no much to recommend about Cutting Floor.

Verdict: Pass
Cutting Floor on Google Play

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Snake Towers [8/8/17] – This is a clever variation on the traditional mobile game of snake.  What it shares with its kin is the fact that you will grow bigger with each item you eat, and if you either run into yourself or a wall the game is over.  In this case the items you are eating are either keys to open any closed doors for the room that you are in (and to boost your score) or enhancements that can either help or hurt you.  For instance, one help might allow you to crush certain stones to make alternate paths through a room, while another speeds up your movement making it harder to safely navigate certain areas.  As you play you’ll collect gems that allow you to buy new body segments, and when you are able to collect all the segments for a new body type you can switch to that body.  There are no achievements to earn, but there is one leaderboard based on your high score.  What makes this more than “just another snake game” are the extras the developer threw in.  In certain rooms there are patterns in the floor, and if you can get your snake on top of the entire pattern at the same time you’ll uncover a hidden treasure in the room.  You can also revisit rooms, which is a great touch especially when you’re long enough that reentering a room you just left means you can see your tail which hasn’t fully left the room yet.  When you collect power ups segments of your body will visibly change to reflect those power ups.  The core mechanics might not be anything new, but it’s the attention to details that makes Snake Towers rise above its brethren.

Verdict: Play
Snake Towers on Google Play
Snake Towers Set Snail, Snake Towers – Free

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Darkest Nightmare – Discord of the Dying Light [2/11/18]– I have been following the mobile career of one of Popsicle Game’s – the developer of Darkest Nightmare – founders for a long time.  So, when this came up in my “you might also like this” list, I decided to give it a try.  The premise is simply to help a witch defeat an onslaught of villains by using your finger to cast spells on the screen.  Apparently you can progress through the game to unlock new areas and such, but since you’re never prompted with an overhead map, or at least not that I’ve seen, I cannot confirm this.  The truth is that I can’t even defeat what I’m presuming to be the first boss.  To cast a spell you just have to copy the designs that flash on the screen as a monster approaches.  The designs are pretty basic, yet what I often believe to be a quality representation of what the game is asking for seems to fail for no apparent reason.  And because the monsters are marching towards you the whole time, you don’t get too many retries before you are attacked.  Each monster consumes a heart, and as expected when they are all gone you die.  There are no power ups in the game and as far as I know there is no way to recover a lost heart.  Most minor monsters only require one or two symbols to be drawn, but when you get to what I guess is the “boss round” you’ll need to draw 5 or more designs in a row, which can be intimidating when you’re artificially being timed.  The IAP consists of buying gems which can then be used to either continue the game when you die or buy frivolous ornamentation for your screen, neither of which are a good use for money spent via IAP.  I like the simple idea behind the game, but I think the spell detection algorithm needs to be tightened up or better explained, and the game just needs a bit more substance to it.

Verdict: Pass
Darkest Nightmare on Google Play
Darkest Nightmare: Freeform Carl Martin Jimenez, Darkest Nightmare: Freeform – Free

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