Archive for the ‘Top-down’ Category

Espgaluda II

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Espgaluda II

The Japanese developer, Cave, is responsible for some of my all-time favorite Bullet Hell shooters, with DoDonPachi for Sega Saturn at the top of that list. Having been fortunate enough to travel to Japan, on occasion, I have played several of their arcade releases as well, so it is no surprise that I immediately shelled out the cash for Espgaluda II. If you are at all a fan of top-down shooters, you should do the same, because this title will be an outstanding addition to your game library.

There are three different characters to choose from, each with an insanely powerful ship which progresses through multiple stages of screen-crushing upgrades. As Bullet Hell fans are aware, the real threat comes from the enemy bullets. At times, the screen is covered in a wall of bullets that the player must deftly navigate their way through at all costs. This is the core mechanic of the genre and this title nails it, in each of six killer stages, on each of three difficulty levels. There is really little else to say, as this is a near-perfect game released by an industry giant. Espagaluda II is my favorite shooter on the app store, by a fair margin, and this is unlikely to change…until Cave releases their next title.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon
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Pew!

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Pew!

This unassuming little shooter actually has a lot going for it.; it’s challenging, it has a compelling upgrade system, and it has good replay value. I played through the whole game and still plan to play through again, if only to get the early completion achievement. While the achievement design itself isn’t stellar, they mesh so well with the upgrades that you can’t help but try to get them all. Repeated plays earn cash that can be spent on upgrading each and every section of the ship: left and right weapons, armor, and combos. Each section has three different categories to upgrade and, in the case of weapons, can also be replaced with different armaments. For instance, if you don’t like the basic weapon upgrades, rate-of-fire, damage, and number of cannons, you can purchase a deadly laser cannon or heat-seeking missiles. Which item to upgrade at what time is actually an important decision each time, because you have to take into account the types of enemies you are currently encountering. The enemies themselves have a decent amount of variety too. All in all, I would say this is a decent shooter with enough challenge to offer at least one play-through.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Dizzypad

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Dizzypad

This is the latest one-thumb casual game by NimbleBit of Scoops fame. Their games are typically based on a simple premise and game mechanic that is fun to practice repeatedly; this game is no exception. Your goal as the tiny frog is simply to jump from one spinning lilypad to another. Skipping over a lilypad or snarfing up a dragonfly will net you an extra 1up flower. Dropping in the drink loses you a flower and, if you run out, it’s game over. I’m surprised at how challenging this simple task can be. For instance, there are a slew of achievements to gain, one of which is to hop a 40-lilypad sequence without fail and it is no easy feat. Since there is no clock running, you could take your time for each jump, but the game feels like the pacing should be quick and that is how I tend to play. The sound and graphics are all perfectly understated to reinforce the pond theme and colorful frog skins open up frequently. Another winner from NimbleBit.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Zombie Pub Crawl

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Zombie Pub Crawl

What’s better than killin’ zombies…? Killin’ zombies with a giant freakin’ tank!!! The idea is genius. IRL, a Zombie Pub Crawl is hordes of people stumbling from bar to bar at 3am, getting tanked . A British bloke spun this idea into a funny game in which your mates move from pub to pub, with zombies pouring out from everywhere, so they must be protected by your tank, either by plowing the zombies over or shooting them. With your left thumb you guide your tank and with your right thumb you reposition the target that directs your pub-goers. Since you move your mates with one thumb and your zombie-crushing tank with the other, it can give you that “pat your head, while rubbing your tummy” problem where it’s hard to keep the two actions separate. The result of this is usually that your tank-thumb slides off the controls, which makes the game feel unresponsive, but technically it’s “your fault”. This may or may not be an issue for others. Another issue is that tapping the screen kills zombies with tank fire, but also directs your pub-goers…not good. Oftentimes, instead of killing a zombie, you send your defenseless and drunken mates into the zombie’s waiting maw.

This may change, but currently, there are only three missions, all on the same street, that scale in difficulty to fill out the rest of the game. On the upside, the theme is great, the graphics are really good, and it’s fun. Primarily because there are a few interesting mechanics to balance and decisions to make; whether to steamroller zombies to save ammo and when, keeping an eye on your stragglers as they pass close to pub doors, while maintaining your main pack up front, and fighting your way back after losing some pub-goers. There are upgrade choices, but you’re too retarded to breathe if you don’t choose larger area-of-effect damage. I’m a big fan of the game, but it just doesn’t seem to have enough content and it may need some tuning. I’m glad I bought it, though, because I think the basic framework is interesting enough to look forward to future content and updates.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Age of Curling

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Age of Curling

Wow, how could a developer do so well on so many things and overlook such a fundamental part of every game; sound. The game has no sound! well, I guess it has some sound, but not where you need it; when the rock hits the ice, when the rock is sliding, or crowd cheers for a great shot. Apparently, their sound budget only accounted for the “rock hits rock” sound which they do have. The reason I’m harping on this is that everything else, gameplay included, is so money.

As you can see, they present a top-view of the ice and the 3D shot view, which is brilliant. You set the curl of the stone and the power and let it rip. You want your rocks to be on target, while blocking your opponent. After you throw your rock, you can swipe in front of it to broom its path (this fine-tunes the shot direction), which is brilliant.

As the name implies, the game takes place in a number of venues and time periods that one can assume have some historical significance for the sport; a weathered castle in 1780′s Scotland, a textile factory in 1920′s Winnepeg (presented entirely in black & white) , an outdoor match in Venice, among others. Whether you are a die-hard curling fan or you simply watch it when the Olympics rolls around, this title should satiate the urge to play it on the go. The game receives high marks for presentation, theme, and gameplay, but unfortunately, the lack of sound in some key areas prevents this from becoming a classic curling app, if there is such a thing.

Update: I’ve kept a close eye on further development on this title and, while they were able to update it to include “rounder stones”, they still have not addressed my primary concern, sound. Down half a point.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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