Tags Posts tagged with "IOS"

IOS

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Square Enix has been on a roll as of late in churning out mobile ports of popular game franchises (Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest) in the midst of several lack-luster original mobile games such as the Chaos Rings franchise. Indeed Square still has ways to go before lining itself up with mobile games publishing giants in Japan like Gung-Ho, Gumi, Gree, and the like.

Enter the company’s latest original entry into the free-to-play mobile gaming platform: Heavenstrike Rivals ( released globally in March 2015) is a turn-based strategy game under the art direction of Ryoma Ito (FF Tactics Advance) and the musical scoring of Ryo Yamazaki (FF: Crystal Chronicles). The game is played on a 3 x 7 (Height x Width) board where two players take turns in placing units with the ultimate goal of dealing enough damage to take down the opposing team’s captain. As simple as it sounds, things get complex when you factor in the different unit classes, unit races, levels, and ranks (upgraded units).

Heavenstrike Rivals: Captain skills sometimes spell the all the difference in combat.
Heavenstrike Rivals: Captain skills sometimes spell the all the difference in combat.

Captains are not only an avatar representation of you in the game, they can also equip a skill ranging from direct damage, buffs, or healing. These are charged after usage by turn (6-9 turns) If used strategically, can instantly turn the tide of battle. If anything, Heavenstrike Rivals plays more like a collectible card game (CCG) placed on a grid board than your typical square grid strategy game like FF Tactics and similar games. Heavenstrike Rivals features six (6) unit classes and four (4) unit races: Humans, Ogurs, Felyns, and Lambkin. Each class has an inherent skill and an extra ability based on the unit type and its rarity. Unit class and race are also the basis for buff and debuff skills.

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Heavenstrike Rivals: Fighters are pretty underrated due to their short attack range vs ranged units.

Fighters (movement range 2) normally have high HP and moderate amount of ATK. Their class skill is the ability gain 1 ATK every time they hit an opposing unit or the opposing captain. The longer they stay alive in combat, the higher their ATK will be.

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Heavenstrike Rivals: Defenders break most rush strategies.

Defenders (movement range 2) have the highest base HP in the game and have the ability to taunt opposing units to prevent them from changing lanes. This forces attacking units to deal with the defender and prevents them from attacking your other units or your captain.

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Heavenstrike Rivals: Makes opponents suffer for putting their units in a straight line.

Gunners (movement range 1) are indirect damage units capable of hitting all targets 3 spaces in front of them. Best used against enemy formations who run in a straight line.

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Heavenstrike Rivals: You can beat an opponent with one attack from Scouts given the right amount of buffs and assuming they survive long enough.

Scouts (movement range 3) are the fastest units in the game who are able to attack opposing captains by their second turn. They have the lowest HP among all units but are offset with extremely powerful damage dealing capabilities through their double strike skill (attacks twice per round).

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Heavenstrike Rivals: Mages are extremely powerful units. Many people hate these units.

Mages (movement range 1) attacks have splash damage. They deal half the amount of their base ATK to all adjacent units which is ideal for clearing out crowds of enemy units should they happen to be bunched up. These units can attack units or captains 3 spaces in front of them.

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Heavenstrike Rivals: Priest keep your offensive units alive longer to maximize their utility in battle.

Priests (movement range 1) heal the unit with the lowest HP in the board once per turn. They are support units with low ATK and moderate HP to keep your attacking units in combat alive for as long as possible. They can attack units and captains two spaces in front of them.

Each unit class has either an ETB (enter the battlefield) effect or activated ability (by chance) as a skill which varies per unit. Tthe higher the rarity, the more powerful the effect. These abilities on top of the class based ones create a deep strategic environment where timing and synergy of your units with each other is key to controlling battles. This system in my opinion is what really got Heavenstrike Rivals going for me. Players Heavenstrike Rivals start out with two (2) mana and can accumulate a maximum of ten (10) mana after the first five (5) turns in combat. Units have varied casting costs from 2 to 4 mana. A player can have a total of ten (10) mana worth of units at any given time so as much as timing is the key to beating your opponents, you must also keep track of how much resources you will spend to field your units. There are cases when you max out your mana to field units and your opponent can isolate them in one side of the battlefield and create an opening for them to attack your captain with impunity. In this case, you could potentially lose the battle without any way of turning the game around.

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Heavenstrike Rivals: Microtrannies, they’re never cheap.

New units can be earned through completing story missions, normal missions, daily missions, and special missions. But the quickest way to earn powerful new units is through recruitment which requires cores (the game’s cash currency). Cores can be farmed from a daily quest (1-3 cores per day) and completing story quests. As a starting player, you can accumulate over one hundred (100) cores by playing the daily core quest and completing all story missions. It takes five (5) core to recruit one 3-5 star unit or 45 core to recruit 10 3-5 star units. Statistically speaking, you will at least gain two (2) 4 star units which are more then enough to help you plow through story missions. As such, you cannot escape the fact that Heavenstrike Rivals adheres to common standards in Japanese mobile games which easily translates to spend money to recruit better units. But like most of these types of games, there are system events which will give you better incentives for recruiting at those times. You can simply save up your core for 10 recruits and consume them during these system events. All 2-5 star units can be upgraded to increase their stats and effect abilities through unit promotion and maxing out their levels. Legendary units (5-star) when promoted will become 6-star or basically “broken” units.

Ace Quickshuffle is one of the most hated units in Heavenstrike Rivals
Chance Quickshuffle is one of the most hated units in Heavenstrike Rivals

Units with skills (outside class skills) can level-up their skills up to 4 times (to level 5). One skill level can be gained through promoting the unit to its final form, the rest leaves little to be desired. The only other way to increase skill level is to train units with the exact same unit. In other words, you need at least 4 of one specific unit to max out their skills and based on my experience, maxing skills out matters. Fortunately, most functional units can be farmed from story missions, daily missions, and special missions. Units you can farm for are actually just as important as legendary units you can gain through recruitment.

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This part will actually need some time and effort through gaining unit experience and acquiring promotion items farmed through daily quests. Upgrading units will certainly help you plow through story missions but these are really meant for you to keep up with the weekly PVP leagues, one of the biggest endgame features of Heavenstrike Rivals. If you get down to it, the AI of Heavenstrike Rivals does some pretty stupid moves (occupy one lane and keep staying there regardless of battlefield conditions) in missions as well as with your squad should you chose to use the game’s auto-play feature so the best place to get your competitive gaming fix is in the weekly PVP league. Newbies will probably fall to the bottom of the ladder due to the lack of 4-6 star units and completely upgraded regular units. The difference is overwhelming and it might discourage you granted that top players receive high tier units as rewards, as such is how mobile games operate. Game balance is skewed towards paying and long time users. Catching up to them is a matter of leveling up relevant and powerful low cost/lower rarity units (most of which can be acquired or farmed in daily and weekly missions) to their full potential. Outside of regular daily missions and recruitment using cores, Heavenstrike Rivals features weekly missions where you can farm powerful super rare units (4 star).

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Farmable units are just as important as high rarity ones in Heavenstrike Rivals

I find that these units are commonly used in PVP and have great utility in PVE missions so they are must-farm units. For new players, you could miss out on the previous characters, but it is up to Square Enix to ensure that old and new player alike will be able to enjoy these farmable characters eventually. There currently are sixty-two (62) story missions for the first chapter of Heavenstrike Rivals each with increasing levels of difficulty. There is still no word on when the next chapter is set to be implemented but as most story-driven games, chapters are released in a span of more than 1 month intervals. The story of the game isn’t exactly compelling or poor, I just find it a necessity for the flavor of the game. I found that the AI is able to circumvent regular squad building rules such as (2 per unit type restrictions imposed on players) as compensation for rather shifty game-play logic. After completing the story missions, you will gain access to a high stamina and high difficulty cost dungeon which randomly rewards you with high EXP and gold along with unit EXP items, new units, and even cores.

As a relatively heavy user, I haven’t spent any money on buying cores but I have assembled a pretty strong line-up of units, the difference is my units haven’t reached maximum promotion so the odds against me when faced off with higher level squads but I will be able to catch up in due time. The PVP metagame in Heavenstrike Rivals can change on the fly like with its latest PVP league that just concluded this week which banned the usage of the Defender unit class. This modification strongly reinforced fast moving units like Scouts being able to get in range with your opponent’s captain easily since there are no enemy units which can taunt your offensive units to delay imminent attacks. With the addition of these type of PVP events, things certainly are about to get more interesting.

Heavenstrike Rivals is focusing a lot on PVP. So far, it's pretty balanced. You just need to grind to catch up.
Heavenstrike Rivals is focusing a lot on PVP. So far, it’s pretty balanced. You just need to grind to catch up.

The visuals of Heavenstrike Rivals are vibrant and well animated but they seem to be quite heavy on resources for a mobile game. You need Android 4.1 and up or iOS 7.0 for Apple devices as a minimum requirement so older and weaker devices will not be able run the game at all. Each unit type per race have a template form factor but their costumes and design vary widely. You can clearly see a great degree of character design put into each unit type and this definitely puts extra value into collecting units. The music in Heavenstrike Rivals utilizes an orchestral ensemble and produced some of the best mobile game music I’ve heard but the voices of characters are pretty generic and bland.

Heavenstrike Rivals makes hardcore and casual PVP equally rewarding.
Heavenstrike Rivals makes hardcore and casual PVP equally rewarding.

I am hooked Heavenstrike Rivals but it does demand a certain level of dedication and play frequency which I am unable or unwilling to fulfill most of the time, hence losing some opportunity to acquire the maximum attainable daily grind benefits. However, it isn’t that much of a turn-off as I do enjoy the PVP content even if I am frequently mismatched with extremely powerful squads. The next step for furthering game balancing could be setting squad cost requirements based on unit rarity and maximum level to prevent paying users to simply field a team with top units and maxing out their stats to dominate PVP. The game at its core is a strategy game after all. It is a pity that this game found its way to the mobile platform, I would pay for a retail version of the game (minus the micro-transactions).

Other things I would like to see in future versions of Heavenstrike Rivals: friends lists, PVP directly with people in your friends lists (playtesting), and daily Login bonuses. Come on, every other game in the same genre does it, why not here?

 

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Something to get excited about, folks. Local game developer Altitude Games is releasing a mobile game reminiscent of your favorite Tokusatsu shows from the 80s called Run Run Super V.

RRSV_ScreenMockup_VehicleModeThe game has three different modes:  Run mode which is a side-scrolling runner game mode set in the city, Vehicle mode where you can blast baddies in a shooter type of game and this is where it gets interesting, the Robot Mode where you can all “volt in” to fight a daikaiju (giant monster) and time your attacks to defeat it. The game uses one-touch controls like tapping or swiping so casual gamers can get in on the fun without breaking a sweat.

An interesting social feature is also integrated in the game where you can invite your friends for team missions. Each friend can play one of the sentai guys (or girl!) and play the different game modes together. Special rewards are acquired if your team performs well in each mission, and these are stuff that you cannot get in the single player mode too.

Each ranger is customizable with power ups, vehicles and other stuff and you can do that by getting rewards or buying them in the game’s store.

“Robots, aliens, rangers doing hero poses, and a burning team spirit. That’s what Sentai is all about. It’s flashy, epic, and never gets old,” said Jan Rey Solomon, Product Manager at Altitude Games. “We’re super-psyched to let everyone experience THAT, on the go.” RRSV_ScreenMockup_RobotMode

“We love playing mobile games that combine familiar gameplay with cool and unexpected themes, and that’s what we want to do with Super V,” Luna Cruz, Altitude’s Creative Director added. “We want it to be a game people get excited about, and they can’t wait to form squads with their friends and do missions together. That’s the dream.”

Run Run Super V is set to launch at Q4 of this year for Android and iOS devices and will be free to play.  Hopefully we can review it when it comes out!

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One of the few anime series that I’ve enjoyed watching is Fate/stay night. I got really obsessed with lead character Shiro Emiya’s Servant, Saber, that I even started collecting all the Nendoroid releases and most PVC figures of her. She was one of the stronger Servants in the series and had the most charm for me because of her blonde hair, green eyes and somewhat creepy blank stare . So what does this have to do with anything you might ask? A few weeks back, I got the chance to somewhat feel like Shiro by downloading a mobile game called Brave Frontier. The premise is somewhat straightforward: summon heroes to fight for you in your adventures. However, there’s so much more to that once you delve deeper in the game.

The Good:

1. Level of Polish – You all might get huffy about playing a mobile game because 99% are mostly shovelware-tastic. The production quality of Brave Frontier is actually top-notch: you get well-drawn sprites, crisp colors, good enough animation and sound effects that it makes for a game that rivals actual handheld games released for the Nintendo 3DS or the PS Vita. 1531938_10152809116237137_1016008783_n

2. Summoning and Combining – As mentioned above, you can feel like Shiro and Rin in Fate by summoning allies in the game. Each ally has different specialty skills that can help you in your quests. What’s also awesome is that you can level up these babies by combining them with other summons that are pretty useless in your party. It gets pretty complicated when you get the real nice ones as they only have really limited levels so you have to be careful what type of summon you combine it with to maximize its stats. Summoning can also get pretty addicting and you can get the Super Rare ones by spending game cash, so make sure you’re ready for this.

3. Super Moves – As Brave Frontier is a real-time tactical game, you have to time your attacks cautiously and watch each of your guys so that you don’t face a complete wipe especially from bosses. One of the cool things in the game is unleashing the super move of a character. This builds up ala Limit Break in Final Fantasy 7. Unleashing it to a boss is completely satisfying, especially if you get to build them all up with each of your characters.

4. Crafting – There are tons of shops and resources that you can unlock in your town after progressing in the game. These are all at your disposal and you can create a lot of nifty items that can help you out in your adventure.

5. Events – The folks at Gumi are especially active in crafting events for the players so there are always something fun to do when you’re logged in. You can rack up pretty sweet event items if you’re faithful in logging in. Hooray for loyalty rewards!

Fusion!
Fusion!

6. Accessibility – Free is always a good thing, and a free, well-polished game is hard to come by!

The Bad:

1.  Download times – Initial download time can be a pain, and comes the first patching as well. In my experience, I got disconnected a few times, but then again it can be because of our service providers (Sigh, Philippine internet).

2. Complexity – This can be a bit of a challenge for newbies (which is the current market bulk), as most are used to very simple one-tap games such as Flappy Bird or Candy Crush Saga. If you’re an experienced gamer however, you won’t break a sweat and learning curve is not so steep.

Other stuff:

1. Microtransactions – We’re not big fans of it, but whatever floats your boat! If you think the purchase is justified, by all means.

If you look at the whole package, Brave Frontier is one of the best mobile games out there. Starting with the overall polish of the art and sound, to the controls and actual gameplay, RPG lovers are assured of a good play experience. What can be daunting however is the complexity of the game – with simple one-tap games like Flappy Bird spearheading the game charts in iOS and Android, Brave Frontier might not be the new gamer’s cup of tea. However, if you give it a chance, the game’s excellent tutorials can really help you out and you’ll find it pretty easy to learn.

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Now that our abrasive hashtag has your attention, on to some real news: according to a recent report from Nikkei, Nintendo will announce this week that they will start creating content for iOS and Android devices, in the form of free promotional mini-games, apps, and trailers for upcoming releases. #Nintendoomed they are not, this doesn’t mean that the company is heading towards the mobile game ghetto but it does make for some interesting headlines, doesn’t it?

Sharp readers may remember that Nintendo, by way of The Pokemon Company, released several Pokemon-related apps for smartphones, acting in a similar fashion as promotional tools. Sony in particular has been doing very well with their PlayStation app for smartphones, which one would imagine be Nintendo’s template for success in this sort of venture.

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Although some apprehensions have been raised about the feasibility of Dragon Quest VIII making it to mobile devices, it looks like Square Enix has actually pulled off what seemed to be the impossible, and now have a final working build of the game ready for public consumption. The company has released a teaser video of their progress, in the form of a Square Enix representative playing the game on what appears to be an iPhone 5S. After reviewing the footage, all we can say is… yikes.

So what makes us so squeamish about this footage? Let us count the ways:

  • The framerate appears to be very low; and that’s on a phone that’s barely half a year-old. This will probably run like chop city on my iPhone 5. What really worries me is that this is supposedly the final version of the game, ready to ship.
  • It took about nine seconds from initial loading to landing on an actual menu screen during a battle. Not good; Dragon Quest has always been known for its brisk battles. Granted VIII was an exception to this, but still, this is a mobile title meant to be played in quick bursts where brevity is always appreciated.
  • I actually like the fact that the game is played in portrait mode, but controlling the camera and menu actions appeared to be cumbersome even for what’s supposed to be a cleaned-up promotional video.

“Blah blah blah, let’s wait for the game to acually ship before reserving judgment,” right? I don’t know, man—this promo video doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. At all.

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SKn76Z3Signs of the times, or simply an inevitability? Square Enix announced today that they’ll be bringing out the 8/10ths of the full gamut of Dragon Quest games to mobile phones everywhere. The giant conglomerate of all things spiky-haired opened a microsite today announcing the release of these mobile ports and… not much else. Dragon Quests I through V have gotten several console and portable remakes, so I’m fairly curious to see what versions of the games they’ll end up using for the mobile ports, but portable DQ8 is kind of a game-changer.

The only screenshot we’ve been able to source is that of a portrait-oriented DQ8 (update: more at Squenix’ press release here)—does this mean that Level-5 or TOSE or whoever’s doing these ports have finally figured out that some of us actually want to play lengthy RPGs with one hand? Sparing the obvious puff-puff jokes, I can’t be arsed to play with landscape-oriented mobile games anymore.

These ports will be hitting Android and iOS handsets starting this Winter in Japan. Given that we haven’t even heard a peep about Dragon Quest X or the 3DS port of Dragon Quest VII‘s localization status, the chances of these games getting an English release are fairly questionable.

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Yep, yet another classic Final Fantasy rehash—with a twist this time. As expected, Square Enix is finally bringing Final Fantasy IV: The After Years to mobile devices, but not in the way we expected. Instead of an up-res’ed port of the 2008 WiiWare release, Matrix Software’s using the Final Fantasy IV engine to give the epilogue to 1991’s Super Nintendo classic a little facelift.

Details are scarce at the moment, but we do know that it’ll be released this Winter in Japan for iOS devices, and sometime 2014 for the Android plebe nation. The game will be released in multiple episodes, much like how it was on WiiWare (and on Japanese feature phones before it).

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You all know this game by now, I’ve seen almost every age group (including my uncles who are now grand fathers) play Plants vs Zombies. It’s a very simple and cute game but has elements which surprisingly makes the game pretty deep, at least in the original game’s survival mode. That was pretty much the game for me. Playing the campaign, farming out the zen garden to buy plants, and solving those side puzzles were all for the end-game which was accumulating as many flags as possible in survival mode by experimenting the different combinations of plants. I never really gave too much though about the game’s campaign mode as it was designed to be pretty damn  easy but maybe its because I take games a little extra seriously compared to the average Joe and Jane (this is important because girl gamers do exist /sarcasm).

It helps to point out that I played Plants vs Zombies for the PC and not on the iOS and to be honest, I felt perfectly fine with it because the mouse controls are infinitely superior to touch screen controls because you can be more precise with your movements and that’s pretty important when there are tones of zombies about on your lawn. The move to make Plants vs Zombies 2 a mobile exclusive (for now) and free-to-play certainly sucks for me because I knew where this game is going. A few weeks ago, Plants vs Zombies 2 was out in several App stores and you may have read about in-app purchases for plants which were part of the original game (Squash, Jalapeno, , and they’re true along with some upgrades that used to be part of the game (additional plant slots). Not only do you have to pony up more money to enjoy the “full game experience” ($35.93 for all the plants and upgrades) but they added a new “touch death blow” mechanic to induce impulse purchases for people who can’t clear specific stages (who suck at playing these types of games in general) to advance when they run out of in-game money to invoke “the hand of the almighty” (aka themselves) to finish the job they can’t do with plants alone.  Some content can be unlocked faster buy paying real money, but all paid content are strictly paid content. There is absolutely no way to grind up for their current paid content offerings.

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Having said all that, Plantz vs Zombies 2 still delivers itself as an entertaining game and if you hate the in-app purchases so much (like myself) you can play the game without having to spend a single cent for people who don’t like how they are implementing in-app purchases for a game that was perfectly justifiable for a retail release. On this note, I will blame the jail-breaking and cracking of the original game because going free-to-play solves all your piracy issues while in-app purchases become necessary if you are free-to-play. This is the last rant, I promise (nope). Now on to the game itself!

Plants vs Zombies 2 throws you back in time to look for Crazy Dave’s taco. In the current build of the game you travel through three time periods namely: Ancient Egypt, the Age of Pirates, and the Wild West. Each zone introduces brand new plants and zombies which will ultimately require you to use the new plants in conjunction with the old ones you’ve acquired. Unlike the linear campaign of the original PvZ, the game now sports an “overworld” of sorts where there is a straight progression to the next area and there are side roads which unlock either new plants or power-ups (for free!). These side roads need to be unlocked by keys which seem to appear at random from zombies when you’re playing a stage. The other way is to simply buy access to the side road with real money. You can either grind for keys or just keep progressing normally until you find enough keys to go back to locked areas, I never repeated a stage unless I failed the stage’s objective which does not only mean protecting your brain from the zombies. Much to my annoyance, you are sometimes tasked to protect defenseless plants like Sunflowers which are positioned out in front. There are also objectives which restrict where you can plant, how much “sun” you can use, and even impose a maximum number of plants you can have on the field. While these objectives seem like they could give you a run for your money, they actually limit your choices of plants, these stages are normally completed with just 3-4 plants (Sunflower included).

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The “main campaign” which will lead you to the warp portal to the next time period consists of at least 10 stages but upon reaching the warp portal, you find out you can’t access the next stage yet unless you pony up enough “stars” OR… (wait for it) pay real money! (hooray) Thankfully, you will only need to do this if you absolutely suck at the game or justify with lame reasons such as “I don’t have time to grind up stars.” Star missions appear on the “main campaign” stages after you reach the warp gate. There are three star missions on each campaign stage while side road missions have one star each. Accumulating stars is not a grind because each mission has different objectives and strategies to win. It’s not replaying an old stage but rather playing a new and harder stage. This is actually one of the better features of the sequel and since there is the “easy way out” through in-app purchases, finishing the third star of each stage is exceptionally fulfilling knowing that others would just pay (and waste perfectly good dollars) their way to victory. The missions aren’t easy at all, non-paying users will have to choose their battles wisely because some stages require plants from the next time period to beat or at least be marginally easier. I’m beginning to sound like a broken record here but you can pay real money to win these difficult situations again by invoking the “hand of the almighty” or rather, your fingers. Plants vs Zombies 2 introduces new functions which practically destroys the need for strategy and both as you may have guessed can be acquired through in-app purchases.

Plant Food:

Plant food is acquired randomly from zombies glowing green. Feeding the plant food to any plant you have on the field hulks them up and they will execute a “super move” for the lack of a better term which all varies. None of them have the same effect but utilizing all plant super moves are not necessary. You need only pick the ones which deal the most damage possible because I found them to be an integral part of beating any stage. Not using plant food seems to be suicide in Plantz vs Zombies 2. Thankfully, there is enough plant food to go around in regular game play but those who can’t get enough of these super moves can opt to buy a plant which generates plant food called the “Power Lily” all for the low-low price of $2.99 (bleh and nope).

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Touch Deathblows (not the official term):

This next one is just a travesty. As if plant food and the in-app purchases for the Jalapeno and Squash weren’t enough for panic buttons, EA decided it would be great (for business) to add powers where you can use your fingers to destroy as many zombies as you can in different ways for a limited period of time if you pony up money (coins/gems) to invoke said powers. These powers range from popping off their heads with two fingers in a pinching motion, flinging up zombies in the air with one finger and then knocking them out of the screen, or just holding down on the touch screen to electrocute zombies. You can earn money in the game but you don’t earn enough money to keep using these powers every stage and you will eventually run out as you will come to rely on them one way or the other. By the time you run out of coins, you will be faced with the decision to suck it up and stop relying on powers or pony up real money (again and again) to get coins immediately and begin enjoying your superficial reign of terror once again on animated drawings of zombies who do different kinds of tricks.

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End Game:

Plants vs Zombies cannot be complete without an end game. Which is why I am pretty mad that there is no survival mode in this game. In its stead, a different game mode was sent in place called Challenge Zones. There is one challenge zone per time period where you are dealt three cards per stage containing a plant per card, you then proceed to select one to bring into the next stage. You basically decide how to progress your arsenal as you traverse increasingly difficult maps in what seems to be the new version of the original game’s survival mode. Honestly, I’m not impressed but I’m willing to give it a go again having only finished 4 stages so far with relative ease. One thing that peeves me is the the fact that I can’t seem to access the star missions I already finished. You should be able to revisit old content but what you end up revisiting is the “easy mode” version of the stage which is the campaign mode setting which is absolutely pointless to play again.

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What’s a mobile game without features to draw you into the game again? A Zombie Yeti occasionally appears and you will have to play said stage and kill it to steal its lunch box (how mean) and grab whatever random goodies he carries. I get this crappy diamond most of the time. It’s crappy because all it is used for now is to activate touch death blows( meh).

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The Good:

  • New plants and zombies involve new strategies and this keeps Plants vs Zombies 2 fresh.
  • It’s free-to-play and you can actually enjoy the game without spending money.
  • There are enough challenges to go around to keep you entertained for quite a while depending on how you pace yourselves.

The Bad:

  • I’m not against micro-transactions but these in-app purchases insult my intelligence so they have almost zero value to me. In other words, I’m not forking over a single cent.
  • The addition of many “panic button” items tied up to in-app purchases allows EA to get away with imbalanced maps where there are simply too many zombies to deal with (easy, hit them with real money in a tight spot).
  • There is no survival mode! (This is obviously my own subjective opinion) But I’ll pay real money for a survival mode, make that three survival mode stages: one for each time period.

Things Which Can Swing Either way:

  • The general notion that everything can be acquired with real money or can be earned by simply playing the game. The only saving grace for this is the fact that earning plants and upgrades by playing is not a grind but rather allows you to explore new challenges and more difficult situations which should be a good point but the people who spend money on in-app purchases obviously disagree with me.
  • The game as it is, is incomplete with no “final boss” and EA may choose to make the game never end granted that Plants vs Zombies 2 has a business model which supports endless content. This can be good or bad, depending on how it is utilized.

In Conclusion:

I enjoyed my time with Plants vs Zombies 2 and I will still be playing this game for weeks or months to come especially when I’m anticipating the fourth stage which will probably be the “last” stage of the game for now as Dr. Zomboss (last boss in the fist game) has revealed himself to be in said fourth world. What I am certainly NOT going to do is plunk down any real money for their current offerings of in-app purchases. Nope… nope, nope, nope, and nope. Regardless, EA seems to be making a killing off this game having it in the top twenty over-all grossing games on the App Annie charts. EA is certainly laughing their way to the bank because clearly, people like myself are not the target market for this game.

 

 

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Visitng random houses.

I am going to risk my “gamer cred” on the line (hehe) here and actually talk about one of the games I play daily. It’s not something hardcore like the usual stuff on my plate, but it’s something that also appeals to me as a… person? Okay, as a girl. I like avatar games for the simple fact that you can look at all those cute clothes, shoes, accessories and not have to shell out the money to be able to enjoy them. I like The Sims and I spent hundreds of hours on a virtual person, trying to land the perfect job and construct the biggest house in my virtual neighborhood. So when I saw screenshots of LINE Play on Tricia Gosingtian’s blog (one of the few blogs I read daily, surprise surprise), I knew I had to try the game.

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LINE Play is an avatar / dress-up game made by Japanese chat app developer LINE. They recently launched a campaign locally with Jessy Mendiola and Matteo Guidicelli and I’ve seen their ads often on local TV featuring Korean celebrities. I got into LINE so I can play Play and their other games (LINE Jelly, I Like Coffee, and others), but nothing stuck to my daily habit of mobile gaming other than Play (and Clash of Clans, but that’s another article altogether). After setting up your LINE account, you can download Play and link it to your app. The game will ask you first what avatar you want to create (boy or girl) and then later customize their looks to your liking. You will be given a house and a bunch of starter furniture. There is no real goal in the game; you just have to earn Gems by watering plants and cleaning stuff in the house to buy items. To earn gems, you can visit 20 people daily and give them Hearts (both you and the recipient will get 10 gems), and water / clean in their homes. There is also a Diary feature where you can write tidbits of personal information you are willing to share to strangers. They can put stickers on your entries or comment as well. Visiting your diary daily will net you +50 gems everyday, plus some bonus gems (100 if I remember correctly) on your fifth straight day. Of course, there’s also the option of buying gems with real money if you want to fast track decorating your avatar or your house. Personally, I’ve never charged gems in my account, but I’ve actually got my house looking pretty decent. There’s a CHAT feature in the game where users can converge in themed chat rooms and talk about whatever. I’ve tried going in some of them, but most are just flooded by users with personal advertisements to go into their rooms, check their blogs or whatever contests they’re running in their own rooms. Another feature that appeals to me is the official celebrity accounts that you can actually visit and interact with. Each celebrity has their own decorated houses and a gachapon machine so you can actually bring some of the items back with you (after spending some of your gems, of course). Some of my favorites are Minho’s and Hello Kitty’s. There’s not a lot to do in LINE Play aside from decorating your house or your avatar. There are no simple side quests like in popular Facebook games (i.e. Farmville) that will net you rewards upon completion or keep you playing everyday. However, there’s already a Version 2.0 in development according to LINE and they are making the game “stickier” with the inclusion of new features which fans have requested. The Good: Cute art style. If you’re into Japanese anime aesthetics, the “super deformed” character design and cute pastel colors will please you. Very simple mechanics. No learning curve at all. Just keep tapping your finger at your screen and you should be able to play. Celebrity cribs. So you can check their diaries and stalk for personal entries and pictures, hee hee. The Bad: Nothing to do, other than earn gems and possibly stalk avatars through their diaries. Things That Could Go Either Way: Item mall! Either you like spending money to virtual items or you don’t. In conclusion: LINE Play is a very simple mobile game that you can spend five to ten minutes to everyday if you have time to kill (commuting or waiting for your coffee), and not be stressed about. It’s a very easy game to get into and the cute art as well as the frequent item updates will have you visiting houses daily to earn gems (to get that Minho poster). LINE Play is available for download in iTunes or Android Market for free, as long as you have a LINE chat app account installed (which is also free).

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Facebook has decided to flex its massive marketing muscles in a new bid to reach the mobile world. The social network has officially announced they’re jumping into the mobile game publishing arena with 800M monthly mobile users behind its back.

Facebook’s Mobile Games Publishing division plans on collaborating with smaller, independent developers in creating “high-quality, long-term games” for a dip in the revenue pool. How this revenue is shared is yet to be disclosed. Fortunately though, the team will be focusing mainly on distribution rather than financing and content development.Facebook will act as a shepherd, guiding specific flocks of new games into players who are already into the same genre to ensure that a person’s tastes are properly matched.

According to Dan Morris, formerly from publishing giants EA and DeNa, it has been quite some time now since Facebook has partnered up with eight handpicked developers:

  • 5th Planet, Dawn of the Dragons
  • Brainbow Dr. Newton: The Great Brain Adventure
  • Certain Affinity, Age of Booty: Tactics
  • Dragonplay, Live Hold’Em
  • Gameloft, Kingdoms & Lords
  • KiwiGames Shipwrecked
  • Outplay Entertainment, Monster Legacy
  • Space Ape, Samurai Siege
  • WeMade Entertainment, WIND Runner
  • Gamevil, Train City

The inclusion of Gameloft and Gamevil doesn’t actually fit into the bill the social network is trying to pave the way for, but it might be a method of enticing the lesser known developers into joining. That said, interested game developers are welcome to fill up application forms found in this cleverly hidden link.

 

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These cards are currently exclusive to Datablitz.

Last week I made a post about a Tekken Card game being officially available in Datablitz. The card game was originally all digital on the iOS, Android, and PC (web) platform when launched back in April 2013 while Namco announced that physical cards would be released this July. I certainly wouldn’t imagine fighting game fans, Tekken fighting game fans or even core gamers to give a damn about this card game because it has the killer combination of features that scream “money sink” but In spite of everything that would make us go “meh”, I felt Tekken Card Tournament is a game worth exploring because: a.) it’s a card game (I used to be card flopper a long time ago so there is some appeal and novelty to me) and b.) mobile games are short pick me-up games which are designed to be played over an extended period of time in bursts of short game sessions. Despite the notions of “core gamers” that mobile games do nothing for people but suck them dry of money, these games actually serve the purpose of entertaining people and giving them that instant gratification (of kicking ass) in ways even handheld console can’t. Tell me, when was the last time you fired up your handheld console, got into a game anytime, anywhere, and finished a match online against a real person in under five (5) minutes? Mobile games provide you with that entertainment during the shortest downtime and what better way to enjoy a mobile game with familiar characters from a familiar franchise with sound game mechanics? Mobile games certainly won’t replace core games but they’re here to stay so we might as well enjoy them too whenever we can.

This is  a review of Tekken Card Tournament on how the physical cards function to complement the game itself. I will not treat the physical cards (which you can theoretically play without the mobile app) separately because the focus of the game in general still lies within the digital realm of the game.

Here’s what you need to know about the game for starters:

  1. You need a deck of fifteen (15) cards to play the game. You will be given enough cards to fill out a deck if you play the mobile/web game where you need to make an online account. Otherwise, you will have to buy a lot of booster packs to play the game. There are no starter decks to my knowledge.
  2. You can choose from the following characters: Kazuya, LiliPaul, Nina, Xiaoyu, Panda, Yoshimitsu, and Law while Heihachi is a physical booster pack exclusive.

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  3. Speaking of online, the Tekken Card Tournament app requires you to be connected to the internet to play. #dealwithit
  4. The game is cross platform so you can log in your account on any supported device (iOS/Android/PC).
  5. You can play against computer opponents with three levels of difficulty (easy, medium, and hard) which are unlocked at certain levels or face-off against other players online around the world in the Free Fight (where you can battle people from your friend list or random strangers) or Online World Wide Tournament (ranked matches where winning earns you points and losing decreases said points.)
  6. The goal of the game is to reduce your opponent’s HP to zero and to do that you have three simple commands to choose from every turn:
    1. Focus: This command allows you to draw a card from your deck (both players start with zero card in their hand)
    2. Attack: Choosing this will expend all your cards and deal damage to your opponent. The damage is calculated based on the sum of all the cards’ attack value.
    3. Block:  While self explanatory, the block command can only nullify attack values of the first two cards of your opponent while the maximum hand size is five (5) cards. Against a full hand, you can only block two out of three strikes.

Tekken Card Tournament stays true to its fighting game roots. The action is fast with each player’s turn having a ten (10) second time limit, players are forced to think on their toes and matches will last from 3 to 5 minutes only and that’s pushing it.The game shines when you are able to assemble a proper deck. However, there hurdles to building your deck. Like any collectible/trading card game, buying cards will cost a lot of money. While most cards can be purchased with gold (the game’s in-game currency you can acquire by playing in matches) they are extremely expensive and popular cards are normally unavailable for purchase as singles in the online card market. This is why there are booster packs available in the digital store and the release of physical cards which you can trade with other Tekken Card Tournament players. If you’re not particularly interested in the physical cards, you can trade QR codes of each card with players around the world (in an ideal setup where people don’t scam you) without having to ship cards to each other or just find like minded people locally and trade cards with them.

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There are three types of digital booster packs in Tekken Card Tournament:

  1. First Pack: The only booster pack you can buy with gold. This pack contains three cards and a chance for one to be an elite card: an upgraded basic card with silver borders. Cards from all seven (7) characters will appear randomly. This pack costs 3,000 Gold
  2. Themed Packs: These are sold for credits (real money) and contain three cards where you are guaranteed one (1) elite card and a chance to get a rare card (the next level card after elite, it has a gold foil border). Theme packs focus on four (4) specific characters depending on the set. These packs cost 150 credits.
  3. Ultra Pack: The most expensive booster pack sold for credits contains five (5) cards and guarantees you one rare card, a chance at an elite card, and also a chance to get a super-rare card. This pack costs 400 credits.

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You cannot trade digital cards with players but you can sell cards you don’t need at the card market place for as low as ten times the card’s value, check out the simple list below:

  1. Basic cards (bronze boarders) cost 5,000 gold to buy and sell for 500 gold.
  2. Elite cards (silver boarders) cost 20,000 gold to buy and sell for 5,000 gold.
  3. Rare cards (gold foil) cost 80,000 gold to buy and sell for 40,000 gold.
  4. Super Rare Cards (marked “SR” with a special gold stamp boarders) cost 640,000 gold to buy and sell for 320,000 gold.

While it looks like you will be compelled to spend money to enjoy the game, you can take the long route of grinding for gold AND credits to complete your deck. That’s right, you can earn credits through ranking up, rolling it as a match bonus reward, unlocking simple achievements (such as playing in matches X times), and participating in the online world-wide tournament (all rankers no matter what position will receive credits).

You can also earn gold in a similar fashion through match bonus rewards, achievements, and a daily log in reward where each consecutive day you log in ads a +1 to the multiplier of the gold bonus you get for  just logging in. As of this moment, I am on my 8th consecutive day logged in so I have a x8 multiplier on my gold reward. (Update: the maximum multiplier is apparently x10)

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While I spent money to fast-track my game, for those who would like to grind up, I suggest that you keep your gold for purchasing cards directly, fusing cards (combining 3 cards of the same kind to upgrade it to the next level) and save up your credits for Ultra Packs to be guaranteed 40,000 gold and potentially earn 320,000 gold if you score a Super Rare Card when you pick up a card you don’t need, better if you get the cards you need from the booster pack but that rarely happens, especially to me. I strongly suggest you don’t buy First Packs because your end-game will be to acquire Rare Cards above all, these gold-only booster packs only give you a chance for Elite Cards not even a guarantee. First Packs are pretty much traps to make you spend your gold and get frustrated at not getting anything you need which may in turn compel you to spend real money to get cards to sell for gold.

Even with all the generous bonuses you get, completing a deck without spending money will take a lot of time. We’re talking several weeks of dedicated playing and possibly getting your ass kicked every so often until you can build a decent deck to fight with other players online. You also have to deal with stamina issues when grinding. Borrowing a title familiar to people, if you know Mafia Wars, you know what stamina/energy/or something does for you. You need stamina to fight in battles whether it is against the computer or other people and you’ve got only five (5) bars of that. You recover one (1) stamina bar every twenty-five (25) minutes so that’s only five (5) battles every hundred hours or so. You could purchase a full stamina bar for 25 credits but you’re better off saving that for booster packs. While you need stamina to earn XP to level-up and get gold, you can still challenge your friends or fight with other people online in Free Battle mode to familiarize yourself with your deck, you will gain no XP, Gold, or bonus rewards if you participate in a battle without stamina.

 

Decks consisting of rare cards are impossible to beat if your deck is just composed of random cards slapped together because that’s all you have. You’ll be stuck fighting the computer opponent mostly on easy until you are able to fill out your deck with decent basic or elite cards including a power card, which increase your character’s HP and give you special buffs or perks during the start of a match or for the duration of the entire match. You need at least a basic power card to thrive in any game mode. You should aim to stock your deck with Elite Cards and Rare Cards with the proper abilities depending on what type of game play style you want.

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For example, I prefer suppressing my opponent’s ability to strike and to accumulate cards so I’m using Lili whose abilities consist of damage modifiers and free parries which cancels the attack value of an opponent’s card  when their cards in play (or their hand) consists of 3 cards or more to make dual exchanges (when both players use the strike command) extremely unfavorable to force them to limit the cards on hand, or to be afraid and lose their hands in fear of getting damaged. One nice rule in this game is when both players use the block command three times in a row, it forces everyone to discard their hand so turtles get penalized hard but this rules can also be used as a strategy to get out of a stalemates where you can’t attack because it will leave you open to a finishing blow if your opponent blocks your strike.

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Each character has a unique playing style described by the game when you are selecting your first character and deck and just to give another example of varying play styles, Paul Phoenix’s attack value on cards are extremely high, some of them gain exorbitant amounts of bonus damage when activated under certain conditions. He can beat you in one strike if you’re unlucky or your opponent manages to setup his attack perfectly but the draw back with this deck is the fact that most of his powerful cards either deal damage in some way so if you are able to suppress his attacks by allowing no damage to go through, a Paul user can beat himself without you having to strike him at all from taking too much damage from his own cards.

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There is little need to mention the physical cards unless you are invested in the game like I am. While seemingly having a higher rate of acquiring Super Rare Cards, physical booster packs also guarantee you a Rare Card in ever pack but also includes a collectible artwork card which does nothing for you in the game. I got four (4) artwork cards out of the five (5) packs I bought so out of the twenty cards (each booster pack contains five cards) I got, four of them are  completely useless where it matters, the card game. It’s worth noting that I have opened more than ten Ultra Packs from the in-game store from spending real cash and using the credits I earned in-game and did not get a single Super Rare (SR) Card. My assumption is that there is probably a guarantee of a few SR Cards in every box. On top of that, you can always trade cards you don’t need for cards that you actually need with other players and the fact that you can acquire cards for your in-app deck by scanning QR Codes means you can trade cards without having to exchange them physically if the person you’re dealing with isn’t a douchebag who will scan your card and block you from whatever form of communication you use to broker the deal. 

Good Points:

  • Deep game play mechanics with a fast pace makes matches quick and satisfying, that’s pretty good for a card game.
  • The game allows you to earn credits just by playing the game regularly so you don’t have to bust open your wallet every time you need new cards or a booster pack.
  • Regular card updates keep characters interesting and also balances out overpowered decks.
  • The graphics are good for a mobile game and while the maps and songs are limited, they stay true to the Tekken style.

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Bad Points:

  • AR Cards only have one pose regardless of card rarity. They quickly lose their novelty, as in right after you realize you cannot pose your AR character.
  • Artwork cards shouldn’t be part of the five (5) card booster pack. Come on, people buying these booster packs want to play a game more than they want to collect nice looking cards that do absolutely nothing.
  • Online play can sometimes be disrupted for unknown reasons. You can win or lose matches by default depending on whose internet gives out first.
  • The matchmaking system may need some tweaks to be able to accommodate and encourage new players to continue playing by adding match ladders based on deck quality (they are ranked from D to A++). The current system can pit my B rank deck against puny D rank decks. While that’s fun and all with an instant win, I don’t see new players enjoying that very much.
  • While Heihachi is a physical card edition exclusive, Namco Bandai does Tekken Card Tournament players no favors by not including a starter deck for Heihachi. You’ll have to buy A LOT of booster packs to get enough cards to complete a Heihachi deck. I only have three (3) Heihachi cards while one of them is a Power Card so that’s 13 more cards to go (hooray…)

Things That Swing Either Way:

  • Micro-transactions are necessary but I know people will not welcome the idea in general because there is the potential to spend more money on these cards than on a retail game but then again, the question you have to ask yourself is how long does one play a game exactly? PVP-centric games like Tekken Card Tournament can be played for far longer than any retail game but it all depends on how the game developers implemented new content to keep the game refreshing.
  • The game is always online so people with mobile phones will still need a data plan or a mobile connection to the internet to take the game anywhere and in places with bad reception (I’m looking at Globe), you won’t be able to play your game properly.

In conclusion:

Tekken Card Tournament requires a lot of patience and dedication to build a decent deck to enjoy the game properly. While the in-game rewards can help you gain cards without spending money, buying booster packs are not that big of a cash grab as you can be smart about your purchases to manage your in-game and real money funds to yield the most cards out of what you spend. The physical cards definitely opens more doors for players to acquire the cards they need without having to grind or rely on booster packs. The fast paced game play (matches finish under five minutes) allows you to enjoy a match anytime anywhere which is great if you’re out a lot or too busy to play games which require you to invest an hour or so in playing to actually enjoy a playing session. The great thing about integrating a card game with an online system is the fact that you can actually get something out of a match with another person to acquire more cards with. When was the last time you played a game of Magic: The Gathering with other people and got a new card out of it? Never, unless you place cards up as ante. I’ll continue playing Tekken Card Tournament for now and I’ll even spend money on it again eventually but in the meantime, I’ll be content with the cards I got and grind up for the the rest. If you’re playing the game now, you can look me up: mrslash.

Tekken Card Tournament physical cards are solely distributed by Datablitz. They are sold at P249 which isn’t far from the $5.55 SRP placed on it. You should call a branch near you to inquire and reserve booster packs if you’re interested in buying some.

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Tekken without all the twitch and combo pattern memorization.

Last Monday, a weird item in the front display of Datablitz Glorietta caught my attention in the form of Heihachi printed on a foil pack. Going in with zero knowledge of what it is, I bought a booster pack to satisfy my curiosity of what apparently is a Tekken Card game launched earlier this year on iOS, Android, Kindle (apparently) platforms, and can even be played on your web browser. The feature image above is basically from an in-game announcement from the Tekken Card  Tournament app officially announcing Datablitz as the distributor of the physical booster packs. I’m still exploring the mechanics of Tekken Card Tournament which seems to have mixed reactions from its players granted that mobile games tend to bring out heated debates on micro-transactions and pay-to-win paradigms. Although my first impressions of the game tells me you can actually play the card game without having to spend money if you are extremely patient.Gold (in-game currency) and Credits (cash currency( can be acquired by simply playing the game regularly and most if not all cards can be purchased with Gold except for the new addition to the game’s roster: Heihachi. His cards can only be acquired through the physical booster packs.

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Not sure how I feel about having an old man on my desk.

Each pack contains five (5) cards of which four (4) will always be game cards with QR and serial codes which allows you to add the physical cards you acquire to your deck in the Tekken Card Tournament mobile game. The fifth card can either be a game card or a collectible card which doesn’t have anything to do with the card game.

Each booster pack also comes with very simple instructions on how to play the game with the cards (less the mobile app) which is odd for a card game: where are the starter decks? The cards also feature AR character cards which can be used in the card game to boost stats and gain perks or take your favorite Tekken character around for photo shoots and what-not.

I’m still exploring the game so I’ll be discussing the game in-depth soon but in the meantime here is a quick explanation on how the mobile card game works:

  1. Each player selects a character: you will be given enough cards to start a deck for one character.
  2. Each deck must consist of 15 cards.
  3. In the start of play, you choose from three commands: Focus (to draw cards), Strike (to attack with your cards), Defend (to nullify the first two strikes from an opponent’s hand).
  4. All card have attack values and special properties which trigger upon certain conditions.
  5. The main point of the game is of course to reduce your opponent’s health to zero. The default HP of each character is 90 points and can be modified with power cards which can be acquired in the game.

Winning or losing matches in the game gives you gold and xp which are used to buy cards or digital booster packs. You can even earn gold, credit or card rewards just by playing so there is that option not to spend real money. You can also unlock achievement reward just by playing against the computer in arcade mode for additional rewards.

The booster packs seem to be relevant only if you’ve dabbled in the mobile game so you might as well check it out first if these physical cards interest you.

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If you like NISA titles and playing games on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, then you’ve probably heard of Character Chowdown. If not, well, you can acquaint yourself by downloading it here as it’s FREE. This game is actually a puzzle game that will help you learn how to read Katakana,  Hiragana and Kanji (Japanese characters). What’s great about this app is that it gauges your mastery and will adjust accordingly to help you focus on the things you need more work on.

Disgaea characters have entered the fray as downloadable content in Character Chowdown in this latest update. Now you can play as Raspberyl for free when you update, plus four other characters that you can separately purchase. Aside from that, new language packs are now available at $0.99 each so you can learn more.

Another nifty feature is that you can stream your iTunes playlist to play as the background music in the game so you know, you can listen to Lord Laharl’s theme while learning!

I will try the game out today and write up a review within the week so you folks don’t have to! Amazing.

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The last time I showed any interest in fishing was when Grander Musashi was still playing on cabled TV. No. I think it was when I couldn’t find the Super Rod in one of the latest generations of Pokeyman. Needless to say, this sport isn’t generally my thing.

Enter Fish Island from NHN Singapore. If anything, this free little 3D fishing delight is a social game with RPG elements aimed to hook you right from the get go – that is right after you’ve made peace with the utterly disheartening loading screen in the beginning.

Like any other social game, you are greeted with routine update checks and a request to register an account. Fortunately, you can opt to register as a guest, or log in via Facebook; sign up for an NHN account if you’d like to play the game across devices.

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You are then free to choose your avatar. I chose Max because I was hungry and it reminded me of a certain house that fried chicken built. Having picked one, an NPC will give you your very first set of equipment free of charge and teach you the ropes to becoming a legendary angler.

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fish_island3The goal is to bait the biggest, baddest fish there is for the whole world to see. Gameplay has never been so simple: tap to throw the line, and tap to catch the fish. As it is a social game, there isn’t much of a difficulty curve to keep things challenging. But since it also is an RPG, the fish has HP!

Sea creatures dart from left to right in varying speeds. To catch them, tap whenever the fishes land on a white dot (think whack-a-mole) until their HP is reduced to zero. Missing the rhythm means a lost heart, so be careful. A timer is also placed in the upper right corner of the screen. It is important to note that the fishes must be caught before the time runs out.

A fish can be released or kept after every successful battle. I suggest keeping the chase and selling them at a later time. Quests come in the shape of fishing as well so it is better to be thrifty and scrounge up money whenever possible to be regularly supplied with necessary bait.

Opting to keep the fishes allow you to move them to a snazzy aquarium where they pay you rent by the second. The quality and grade of the fish will determine how much they give you back. Keeping a lot around will help ease any financial burdens you have in-game.

fish_island4Finishing the tutorial and spending time in Fish Island will lead you to the realization that it also revolves around a “catch-em-all” theme. With over 600 species to put in an aquarium and record in a fishypedia, every bite-sized round of fishing can turn this game into a refreshing buddy for long, boring trips to work and elsewhere.

Lastly, the shop offers a wide array of items for sale. Looking for the right fishing rod, bait, line, and costume can prove to be quite an expensive hobby. Fortunately, once you’ve earned enough experience, the accessories are eventually sold at reduced prices – like a passive skill you don’t have to worry about.

All in all, Fish Island is a refreshing online game. It would definitely have been better had it been playable offline, as well. Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful and thrilling experience similar to real world fishing – minus the sun.

THE GOOD:

  • Cute 3D visuals coupled with soothing and unobtrusive background music make playing the game enjoyable.
  • Social ranking is a plus.
  • This game is no Grinch – quests are easy to finish; rewards are happily earned at every turn.
  • Characters are fully customizable.

THE BAD:

  • Storage systems won’t allow you to keep a lot of anything. Either use them prematurely, sell for a price, or pay for an expanded storage.
  • Game is pretty repetitive. It would probably good to add nets and spears to the mix.
  • In-game items are insanely expensive.

THE IN-BETWEEN:

  • The dual currency in-game means the involvement of real money somewhere down the line.

 

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While most of the world celebrated the App Store’s fifth year—along with the slew of classic games they gave away—I was happily making my way down the underground levels of Torchlight (you don’t have to judge me… okay, maybe you should). So, having spent nearly two weeks in the mines of ember, it was an incredible surprise to find out that homebrew developers have found a way to distribute GBA emulators to the iOS market without the need of jailbreaking the devices.

Because of Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program, testers, creators, and the media are allowed to download apps without registering UDIDs and other necessary provisions. This very program technically allowed applications like GBA emulators to gleefully run wild on purist, un-jailbroken iDevices. GBA4IOS is downloadable in three easy steps in your Safari web browser. There literally is a big “Install App” button that pushes the app to your device.

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The interface needs a little more tweaking, but it’s pretty forgivable because you can toggle between orientations without affecting gameplay whatsoever. Also, this emulator can either look like a Gameboy SP or a Nintendo Wii, whichever suits your fancy.

All in all, the GBA4IOS is definitely worth a try, especially for those itching to play with their Pokeymans on their iDevices. Although it isn’t right to pirate ROMs, this particular emulator is another story altogether.

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I like ragging on the App Store and its cavalcade of borderline shovelware because it’s such an easy target, but in reality I’m pretty much locked in to the Apple ecosystem. The bastards have me by the balls, and I’m engaging on two year hardware upgrade loops like a true sucker. Oh well, at least the games are cheap—or free, in this case. To celebrate five years of Apple revolutionizing/ruining (depending on how much of a jaded miscreant you are) mobile/handheld gaming by introducing the App Store, a whole bunch of publishers have pooled together bringing you a smorgasbord of FREE stuff. What’s good? Read on.

The true highlight of the sale is Epic/Chair Software’s Infinity Blade II, an Unreal Engine-powered showcase of what iOS devices can really do; if not a very shallow Punch-Out!! variant. Also noteworthy is the adventure game Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery (or #sworcery as the game is wont to call itself), a fairly decent pixel art adventure game with some particularly punchy tracks. You may own this on other platforms, but what the hell—condensed digital heroin a.k.a. Peggle is also free, alongside the equally-addicting winner of my personal 2011 mobile GOTY, Tiny Wings. And to wrap this list up nicely, quirky indie puzzler BADLAND has also gone free as part of the sale—good timing as I’ve been meaning to check it out for the longest time.

Not a game but worth mentioning is Traktor, a fun DJ application from Native Instruments (who make the excellent FM8, a wonderful FM-based software synthesizer for gear sluts like myself). It’s a fun little app that at least teaches you the basics of DJing if little else; however I’m sure people with more experience than myself would be able to harness its latent abilities far more than I could. And finally, for dirty hipsters like myself, the journaling/diary app Day One has also gone free, which probably means I can finally retire my Moleskine diary and save some trees. Heck, maybe I can up the annoyance factor and put in cute little captions on my Instagram photos with Over.

And because I’m lazy, here’s a list of other apps that have gone free, but aren’t really worth mentioning:

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Marvelous AQL’s newest RPG is now available for download.

Cross Horizon is a mobile role-playing game that has dungeons and online multiplayer. Combat is swipe-based similar to that of Infinity Blade. You can customize your character with numerous kinds of armors, accessories and weapons.

As this is a free-to-play release, micro-transactions are the way to get you to give the publisher your monies. You wouldn’t want that other player to have better equips than you, would you? Thought so. Credit card number, please.

Cross Horizon is now available from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

crosshorizon

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Award-winning action RPG Bastion is now on sale for only 99c (PHP 40-ish)!

For those who actually know the game, it’s important to stop reading now and download the iOS port immediately. For those sporting a curious look, Bastion was first published in 2011 for the Xbox. It then made its way through various ports, the last of which was the iOS in August 2012.

The game revolves around the narrated story of “the Kid” who is one of the few survivors of The Calamity that destroyed the land and turned everyone against each other. The kid’s goal is to power the eponymous Bastion to bring back harmony to his world.

Set in a floating, fantasy-themed environment, the Kid travels around, collecting Cores to recharge the Bastion. With award-winning visuals, soundtracks, gameplay, and narrative, this is a port worth spending a few bucks on (or less, for that matter).

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IGN has reported that the much-awaited DLC for Telltale’s Game of the (last) Year will be releasing sooner than we’ve expected.

How soon? Well, if you have the game on the PlayStation 3 and have a US PSN account then you can download 400 Days tomorrow! Other platforms will get it shortly after. 400

How shortly after? Here:

  • Tuesday, July 2nd – PlayStation Network (North America)
  • Wednesday, July 3rd – PC/Mac (Steam, Telltale Games Store)
  • Friday, July 5th – Xbox Live (Worldwide)
  • Wednesday, July 10th – PlayStation Network (Europe)
  • Thursday, July 11th – iOS (Worldwide)

My predictions on the story? Clementine versus Ellie (The Last of Us) in a steel-cage match.

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This is the Gamepop. I can’t believe I’m playing Jetpack Joyride on my HDTV.

GamesIndustry.biz reported that Google is believed to be set on developing and releasing game console too. According to the Wall Street Journal report, this is a reactionary move on the part of Google in anticipation of Apple releasing a similar product with the next iteration of the Apple TV. While both Google and Apple refused to comment about the matter, it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if they actually did release a game console. Between multiple android-based consoles in the market now and Apple’s need to come out with another defining piece of tech to get investors back on board. It also goes to show that there is a demand for these of cheap and  albeit underwhelming consoles with the Ouya, the Game Stick, and Gamepop.

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Imagine how awkward it would be to find this device playing side by side with a core console.

I’m a core gamer first and foremost so pardon my lack of enthusiasm at the prospect of yet another android-based home console or a mobile based one for that matter. It’s ironic that a mobile platform is moving in the direction of acquiring core gamers with the introduction of gaming with a traditional controller while core game consoles of the likes of Wii, Playstation, and Xbox are trying to court the casual games market. It isn’t likely that we’ll see any sort of mind-blowing games on these devices so in spite of the impending clash of the mobile tech giants (Google and Apple) in a battle to bite into a piece of the console gaming market or perhaps annihilating the current console giants, allow me to jump for joy at the prospect of more micro-consoles playing the same games that can be played on their respective tablet counterparts.

Hooray

But seriously, I’d like to see something official before really criticizing Google or Apple’s possible game consoles.

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

ouya
Let’s not forget the E3 crashers.