Android Games Roundup [12/12/19]

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Welcome to the latest edition of “games Eric FINALLY got around to playing”.  In a twist that no one saw coming, however, everything this time around was released this year, and most of them even came out this quarter!  The most pleasant surprise was a short but sweet 2D runner that’s as much PSA as video game.  There was also a cool arena shooter and an interesting hidden object game.  I threw a few other things in there as well just to mix things up a bit.  Hope you enjoy and find something new to play for the upcoming holiday season.

roundup-20191212-slide

Slide – 2D combination puzzle [9/19/19] – I appreciate the idea of minimalism in the game interface.  I also get some developers’ need to let and some players’ desire to figure out how to play the game on their own.  However, that’s just not me, and that’s apparently what is required here.  The game has you sliding blocks to form certain patterns with the colors.  What those patterns are I do not know, because the game never shows you.  Now I might be okay with that, except that the stars you earn are based on the number of moves you make, which means after a few levels I’m not earning any stars.  That’s assuming, of course, that I can even figure out the appropriate pattern to move on to the next level.  As for the interface, it took me a while to even figure out that there were “buttons” that allow me to move back and forth between the current level and prior levels that I have completed, but there is no way to see an overview of levels and just go back to any prior one.  That doesn’t really matter anyway, because even if you go back to a previous level the game doesn’t tell you how many stars you already earned, and there’s no point replaying levels that you already earned three stars on.  Interface aside, the visuals are actually quite pleasing, especially with the slightly swaying foliage in the background.  Even that is somewhat marred by the lack of music, however, making for a somewhat lopsided aesthetic.  This might appeal to some of you puzzle addicts out there, but personally I’m going to let it slide right on by.

Verdict: Pass
Slide – 2D combination puzzle on Google Play
SLIDE-2D combination puzzle Umeshwarrao Yennam, SLIDE-2D combination puzzle – Free

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Dodgecrafts [10/4/19] – This is a fairly simple variation on a genre that has had some incredible entries, most notably in my mind Tilt to Live from One Man Left Studios.  At first I felt like maybe it was a bit too basic, but the more I play it I’ve come to appreciate the nice little diversion that it is.  There are a total of 5 different ships, four of which can be earned through point milestones or bought via IAP.  Each ship offers differing levels of speed and steering.  As you play you can pick up a couple of temporary weapons, a bomb that explodes on impact, and a shield that allows you to ram into enemies without suffering any damage.  There are also score multipliers to help you achieve those milestones needed to get the more advanced ships.  So far there have only been a few types of aliens, but when the arena gets crowded you don’t need too many different variations to be forced to stay on your toes.  Some achievements would be nice, but not really fundamental to the enjoyment of the game.  There are a few little things that kind of bug me, however.  When you select a ship other than the default, it only stays with you until the next time you go back to the menu.  It seems like your latest ship choice should stick until you switch to another one.  Also, the game needs to connect to Google Play several times once you’ve started playing, whereas most games typically connect once at the beginning and then seem fine for the rest of the game.  Then there’s the issue that the ads can end up covering up part of the arena, which while not insurmountable can result in some untimely deaths.  And for me personally, I’d love to be able to power up the boosts either by earning in-game currency or something.  But like achievements, that’s not really necessary, just a nice potential addition.  Ultimately this is a simple yet fun entry in the arena survival genre.

Verdict: Play
Dodgecrafts on Google Play
Dodgecrafts Orthors LTD, Dodgecrafts – Free

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#drive [3/20/19] – I really want to like this game.  While I don’t get into third person action games much, I love the perspective when it comes to car games.  The controls are simple enough for me to handle, and the goal is simple: keep going until you hit too many things or get caught by the cops.  Throw in the graphics, which are by far the best feature of the game, and it seems like a slam dunk for my “like” collection.  The problem is that the game is just plain boring.  You enter a town and then keep on driving.  There are no courses per se, and while there is some variety to the landscape it’s like the background of a cartoon – after a while it gets repetitive and uninteresting.  There are missions to complete, but they are almost secondary in nature and never of any real note.  They are typical things like “collect so many of this” or “drive for X number of miles”.  You can run into things until you do too much damage to your vehicle, but since the game isn’t inherently about causing damage that too gets old eventually.  The driver makes some amusing quips, and it is funny that you can get the cops off your back by tossing them a donut, but neither of those things really enhances the game play at all.  There are 43 vehicles to unlock, but why go through all that trouble if the only thing you can do with them is play the same old game that you did with the other 43?  This game actually has achievements and leaderboards, but I honestly didn’t even feel compelled to check them out until writing this section of the review.  If there were some actually play here #drive might be a cool game, but right now it’s just a pretty interface without much to do.

Verdict: Pass
#drive on Google Play

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Cracked Crusaders [12/5/19] – If you took Mario, turned him into a shepherd, and added some RPG elements you would have basically described Cracked Crusaders.  Your sheep get captured in the middle of the night (thought I was kidding about the shepherd thing, didn’t you?), and it’s up to you to get them back.  You’ll have to traverse an increasingly challenging set of dungeons, defeating the main boss of each to move on to the next.  Luckily in most of the dungeons the boss is a little wimp – literally – but that doesn’t mean there won’t be dangers.  Other denizens of the dungeons will try to kill you, as well as environmental elements like spikes, arrows and rotating balls of death.  In some levels you’ll find a map that shows you the location of all the enemies, and luckily once you’ve found it you get to keep it even if you go back to the dungeon later.  Some of the bigger dungeons even have save points, but beware: your game will be saved in its current state, so if you’re down to one heart that’s where you’ll pick up when you restart.  Consider that carefully when using the inter-dungeon save function.  Each level earns you up to three stars.  One is for completing the level, another for defeating every creature in the level, and the last for beating the level in a certain amount of time.  Thankfully you don’t have to accomplish all of these things in a single run.  Also, in this game the stars are actually useful as they are what allow you to buy equipment from the Smith and Wizard.  It appears there are 5 main worlds and 11 bosses to beat, and at least one hidden dungeon to find.  The visuals are cute, the characters are funny, and if you want to shell out a couple of bucks for IAP you can play as a dog or duck as well.  If you like a little bit of RPG mixed into your side scrollers, Cracked Crusaders is definitely worth a shot.

Verdict: Play
Cracked Crusaders on Google Play
Cracked Crusaders Luke Webster, Cracked Crusaders – Free

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Om Nom: Merge [12/25/19] – There are certain genres that I don’t really go out of my way to play, nor do I really care for them.  The “merge items” genre is one of those.  If one comes along that might have potential, however, I’m certainly willing to give it a shot, and I was hoping that something from ZeptoLabs would prove to be such a game.  Unfortunately, what I’ve found instead is that the developer are turning into Rovio, taking a beloved IP and slapping onto another game genre in the hopes on capitalizing their properties with mediocre offerings.  That’s not to say Om Nom: Merge is a terrible game, especially if you like this particular game mechanic.  The graphics are cute, and the game actually has a purpose: the forest is being overrun by fruit and you have to produce “Nommies” in order to keep the healthy snacks from taking over everything.  There are daily and cumulative goals to achieve, all of which earn you bonuses.  And of course there is IAP in case you want to increase your in-game spending capabilities even more quickly.  The other problem, though, is that the game tacks on another one of my pet peeve mechanics, the concept of idle play.  After you’ve merged Nommies together you can drag them onto the display at the top of the screen so they can start eating fruit for you.  But of course once you’ve dragged them to where they need to go the game handles everything else for you.  This is almost as bad as sitting around watching someone else play a game, but that’s a rant for another day.  In the end, there’s not much that sets this apart from other games of its ilk, and to me it simply feels like a waste of a great IP.

Verdict: Pass
Om Nom: Merge on Google Play
Om Nom: Merge ZeptoLab UK Limited, Om Nom: Merge – Free

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Right Runner [12/4/19] – Right off the bat I’d like to point out that this game is basically an interactive PSA.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but as such you shouldn’t expect it to be a deep, engrossing gaming experience.  That being said, the game is entertaining, and if you try to take some time to investigate the backdrops it can actually be engrossing.  The game is sponsored by Unicef, and is meant to promote the rights of children according to the ‘UN Convention of the Rights of the Child’.  There are four levels, and they all revolve around the principles found in this declaration.  It is detailed in the Information button on the game, and you really should take the time to read it.  There are no achievements or leaderboards, because they wouldn’t make sense given the purpose of the game.  There are 3 goals on each level, however.  The first is to collect megaphones so that children can be heard.  The second is to do tricks to inspire those around you.  And finally, you need to grab friends to join in the fight.  And lest you think these goals will be easy to achieve because that’s not the real point of the game, think again.  Grabbing friends is actually the hardest one, surprisingly enough.  The goal is only 10 for each level, but there are only 10 kids on a level to recruit.  I haven’t gotten this one on a single level yet.  The game’s mantra is “never give up”, so you can’t die while playing a level.  However, the point at which the game drops you back after hitting an obstacle isn’t always the best, and sometimes it puts you further ahead than you want to be if you missed something.  The controls are simple enough – tap the right side of the screen to jump (double jump for tricks) and the left side to slide – but occasionally it doesn’t feel very responsive.  And, while the last level was extremely cool and somewhat creepy, it dragged quite a bit on my device.  Still, I appreciate what the developers are trying to accomplish with Right Runner, and if you like auto-running games you really should give it a try.

Verdict: Play
Right Runner on Google Play
Right Runner United Nations Children’s Fund, Right Runner – Free

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Dream Detective [12/2/19] – Long before the hidden object genre existed, or before computers were a thing, for that matter, there was Where’s Waldo.  Even though Dream Detective would most likely fall under the hidden objects category if you needed to categorize it, the game definitely feels more like an electronic version of a Waldo hunt.  If you’ve ever flipped through one of his books you’ll know what I mean.  The game has more than sixty backdrops to explore, with themes ranging from a wacky movie lot to the pages of a comic book, and you can even sit down with some pandas if you’d like.  Each backdrop has three difficulty levels, each of which requires you to locate an increasing number of objects.  Complete the beginner level to unlock the next backdrop, and complete all the difficulty levels with every item to earn 100% on an area.  When you complete a difficulty level you’ll earn coins based on the number of items you found, and as long as you find enough items to pass a level you can always go back and collect the rest of the items at a later date.  In addition to coins you can earn moons and XP, and there are outfits to unlock as well as a castle to rebuild.  Truthfully, though, most of that stuff seems superfluous, as the real fun is seeking out all the items in each of the finely detailed areas.  Even this can get a bit frustrating at times as there is a LOT going on in most of the areas, but sometimes it’s fun to just explore all the details, as long as the level is not timed.  Thankfully when you run into those levels you can extend your time by watching a video, which is actually a thoughtful feature.  Besides the main game there is a section that contains just a few bonus areas that get unlocked after certain milestones are met.  Ultimately, if you like finding objects in extremely well drawn scenarios with no plot or puzzles to bog you down, Dream Detective is your game.

Verdict: Play
Dream Detective on Google Play
Dream Detective FunPlus, Dream Detective – 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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