TouchMyApps » MythPeople http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:22:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.5 Dragon Portals in Review – Does this Dragon deliver the goods? http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/09/04/dragon-portals-in-review-does-this-dragon-deliver-the-goods/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/09/04/dragon-portals-in-review-does-this-dragon-deliver-the-goods/#comments Fri, 04 Sep 2009 22:42:47 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=19410 I was very anxious to play Dragon Portals when I realized it came from the same makers of the superb Azkend, hopeful that it would capture some of that same magic. It wants to be as good, and in some ways it at least tries to come close, but ultimately there are a number of … Read more]]>

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I was very anxious to play Dragon Portals when I realized it came from the same makers of the superb Azkend, hopeful that it would capture some of that same magic. It wants to be as good, and in some ways it at least tries to come close, but ultimately there are a number of things that keep it from reaching that same level.

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There’s a backstory to Dragon Portals, something about your character having the power to direct dragons through portals and rescue them or some such. It makes little sense and is really just a means to introduce the gameplay mechanics – on the main playscreen you’ll see five dragons flying from left to right, and it’s your job to keep them aloft by matching at least 3 circles of the same color together. You can only move the circles down, and only to create a match, which severely limits the choices you have.

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If you manage to get a double match, meaning by dropping one circle, a match was formed on both lines – both dragons will clear and reset with new circles. Unfortunately, this isn’t always as good as it sounds, because you may have had other matches you could have made from those rows, and the new circles don’t line up the same (it of course can work the other way as well, clearing both rows may give you new options you didn’t’ have before).

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If you manage to cascade your matches, meaning 3 matches or more in a row without you moving another circle, a powerup will be added to the screen in place of a circle for you to use as you see fit. But even these powerups are at times of only dubious help. One powerup will realign all the circles in each row so that all the same color are together – but those ones don’t clear, you still have to drag a circle from the line above – which may be even harder now that the colors have been sorted. Another powerup gives you the ability to save four of your dragons, should they reach 0 altitude before you reach the portal at the end of the level – you’ll lose one dragon (and the ability to have more match choices) but the remaining dragons will gain some altitude and give you a chance to keep going.

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But the issue here is that these dragons drop like they’re made of concrete bricks. You can’t even begin playing for the first couple of seconds in each level – meanwhile, you’re watching these dragons falling from the moment the level begins. For every match you’re supposed to gain some altitude – but it isn’t enough. The dragon will move up barely perceptively, and then begin its rapid descent again. Every match is also earning you some of the dragon meter at the bottom of the screen – and when that’s full the dragons will enter the portal and escape – and you’ll go to the map screen where you can move along to the next level. Every few levels you’ll earn the choice of a powerup from the dragons – but the choices are random and if you choose poorly, it could be quite some time before you’re given the other choice again.

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And ultimately, that’s my biggest problem with Dragon Portals, it’s way too random. It’s a very polished looking game, but too many things in the game mechanics keep it from being as fun as it could be. I feel like the gameplay is limited by what moves you can make, the difficulty is too high because of how rapidly the dragons descend, and the powerups aren’t particularly useful. There are trophies to earn, and an endless mode you can play and try to keep the matching going for as long as possible, but honestly I have no interest in trying to accomplish those things. It’s not that it’s a bad game, but there are better puzzle games available in the app store, and as such I can only give Dragon Portals a tap it rating.

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App Summary
Title: Dragon Portals (v1.0) Developer: MythPeople
Price: $4.99 (sale $0.99!) App Size: 8.1 MB
  • Beautiful looking game
  • Multiple levels
  • Trophies and powerups to earn
  • High level of difficulty
  • Limited moves
  • Unhelpful powerups

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Azkend in Review – Puzzling At Its Very Best + 1 Promo Code http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/06/17/azkend-in-review-%e2%80%93-puzzling-at-its-very-best-1-promo-code/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/06/17/azkend-in-review-%e2%80%93-puzzling-at-its-very-best-1-promo-code/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2009 15:17:18 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=13430 I’m not sure I’d consider myself a big puzzle gamer. Oh sure, I played Tetris on the original NES and owned it in various forms over the years. I suppose that I’ve also played plenty of addictive but not particularly deep ‘puzzle-like’ games on the Atari 2600. But I feel like my gaming renaissance came … Read more]]>

azkend-1I’m not sure I’d consider myself a big puzzle gamer. Oh sure, I played Tetris on the original NES and owned it in various forms over the years. I suppose that I’ve also played plenty of addictive but not particularly deep ‘puzzle-like’ games on the Atari 2600. But I feel like my gaming renaissance came with Puzzle Quest on the Nintendo DS around two years ago. With the addition of story to a well presented puzzle game, I was in gaming nirvana. I’ve been searching for a follow up, and almost found it in Aurora Feint, but to put it in baseball terms, that game was like a triple. Azkend is a homerun.

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The story isn’t as deep as Puzzle Quest, so lets get that out of the way right up front. You are not trying to defeat other monsters in puzzle battles, and you are not choosing quests and different paths for your character. That said, there are some similarities between these two games. There is a plot to the game: you appear to be on a quest to recover your memories of an object you found on a previous expedition to Asia. Between each level, you will make progress on a map screen, slowly working your way through the adventure to the ‘end’ of the game. I say ‘end’ because like any good puzzle game, Azkend has fantastic gameplay, giving you plenty of incentive to continue to play, and that’s without all the extras you can try to earn as well.

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But back to the gameplay. At each stop along the map, you’ll play the basic puzzle game of Azkend. It takes the form of small hexagons arranged into various patterns on your screen. You touch the picture on one hexagon, highlighting it, and then drag your finger from that to any adjacent hex, connecting three or more of the same symbols together. When you lift your finger from the screen, those symbols are cleared, and the ones above shift downwards. Your goal in each level is to highlight all the hexagons, whereupon a talisman piece will appear at the top of one column. You must then clear all the hexes beneath that talisman piece to clear it from the board. And you must do all of that within a certain time limit.

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Those talismans come in handy because once you’ve gathered together all the pieces, you can use the talisman in future puzzles. They’ll appear as symbols on the puzzle screen, and when you connect four or more of them together, they’ll activate different powers which will help you clear the board faster (highlighting random hexes, clearing columns of symbols, etc.). And you’ll need that help, because as you progress, there are challenges added to keep you from completing the level in the allotted time: frozen squares that can only be highlighted after an adjoining square has been cleared, goo covered squares that will expand and keep you from clearing them, locked squares, and more. Every once in a while along the map you’ll be given a beautifully rendered picture whose pieces you must quickly identify in order to gain additional time in the upcoming puzzles. This is of course, critical to your continued success.

There are eight talismans to collect, all of which you must collect to advance in the story adventure. But beyond that, you can then access each of these talismans in the survival challenge mode, where the goal is to collect 10 stars before your timer runs out. Each star is placed on the board as you clear the tiles just like you would in the regular game, so you need to do it ten times before getting all ten stars. Each star will gain you some time back on the clock, but there’s an anxious ‘beat the clock’ angle that’s well presented here. And each talisman has it’s own survival challenge, so you can play levels over and over to try and gain more stars than you did the last time.

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Plus, you can revisit any of the game boards, to try and beat your prior time. When you have more than 50% of your time remaining after completing a board, will gain you a star for that level. There are also trophies and awards – more incentive to keep playing the game even after you’ve completed the adventure story. Some of these are easy to get while others are very difficult. For a time, I wasn’t even sure if one of them was possible (a chain of 24 or more tiles) but then I realized the ‘wild-card’ symbol can actually be used to link together a chain of one type of symbol to another.

Maybe that would be my only complaint. The instructions are a little vague and light on substance. But Azkend is so easy to play, you won’t really need to be spoon fed how to play it, you’ll just play the game and know. It’s presentation is gorgeous, the gameplay is top notch; frankly I love Azkend so much I could Kiss It.

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App Summary
Title: Azkend (v1.12) Developer: MythPeople
Price: $4.99 App Size: 8.9 mb
  • Beautiful graphics
  • Nice use of story to tie together the gameplay
  • Fantastic puzzle gameplay
  • Lots of incentive to keep playing
  • Very few directions and instructions

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