Thursday, January 25, 2018

Revisiting: Pokémon GO

So, it's been over two years since I first reviewed Pokémon GO after my time as a beta tester, so I felt it might be time to give it a second chance.  My first review wasn't positive, and I'll admit I went into this with a skeptic's bias.

But then my kids found out I was really playing Pokémon while we were taking our family walks.  And then my wife got involved, and started jumping up levels with expert skill.  And then I discovered what was fun about Pokémon GO, and it wasn't in game at all.  Its community.

As my family has caught Pokémon fever thanks to GO, we have met people from all over the state.  We have conversations with our mail lady now because she caught us chasing down an Onix, and she was cheering us on.  We now see members of our city parks and rec staff.  This game seems to have never really been about playing a game, but about using a game to better us as people.  And I love that about it.

So really, I don't care much about advanced game functions, battling opponents, or trading being in the game.  It could stay just the way it is, and as long as new Pokémon appear, I'd still play it.  If those functions do get added, that's cool too.  New ways to interact with other humans is great.  I have to say that maybe what was wrong with GO initially wasn't the game, but me.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Running on Empty

So, I broke down and downloaded the new Super Mario Run game from Nintendo the other day. I've been putting it off, even though I was on the wait list, because I'm a little apprehensive about a game with a tag line of 'You can play it with only one finger' .  Having caved and downloaded it, though, I then had to play it.

The first comment I've got is that the game is a lot more polished than I expected. I was afraid these were throwaway titles Nintendo was banking on stealing a part of the nuclear wasteland that is most of mobile gaming, so I also thought we'd get half-thought graphics as well. I was wrong. This game looks as good as any download for the Wii U or 3DS.

Also, the interface works really smooth. I've played a lot of mobile games where the interface was obviously an afterthought, but this isn't one of them. Every button is well placed to be easily accessed on your phone. Heck, even my 8.1" tablet is easily navigable with this game.

And pricing: as is the way of mobile gaming these days, this is a freemium game, but as far in as I've gotten, there is no real reason to drop a ton of money into this game to get full enjoyment out of it.

But now we hit the snag. Is it fun? Not really. As a platformer-on-rails, this game feels more like you're watching another person play a play-through, and you just get to interact a little. And the frustration you feel at not being able to back up and grab something you've missed kills most of the enjoyment you might have gotten.

So, to conclude, the idea of a Mario game on tablets is cool, and I really did hope it would be some thing I could like, but if any game, even a Mario game, doesn't really grab you in the first 15-20 minutes, its probably not worth your time.

Monday, August 15, 2016

AdVenture Capitalist - The Idle Game that Makes You Feel Like a Million Bucks(isn't that much)

So, you want to be a millionaire, but you just don't have the time to worry about all those investments?  You like to watch profits soar from just a few clicks of your mouse?  Then get ready for the greatest investment game ever!  AdVenture Capitalist.

Okay, but more seriously, AdVenture Capitalist is a standard idle game were you get hooked in by rapidly clicking things for the first half hour, then when your arm is about ready to fall off, the game switches to a self-maintaining visual of numbers going up and lines moving across the screen.  Unless you like monotony, I wouldn't recommend it.  It gets old quick.  The one feature that sets it apart from other idle games so far is that it really has four games in one.  You start on Earth, when you make enough money, you can start a countdown timer for development to reach the Moon and Mars, then you can conquer those two planets with capitalism as well.  The fourth game is when Hyper Hippo holds events, (terrible alliteration, I know), which if the comments on the Steam forum hold true, are getting more and more difficult to accomplish without shelling out some cash.

Over all, the game is entertaining for a short while, addictive for longer than that, and then a waste of your time if you get into it seriously.  Thankfully, its free-to-play on Steam, so you aren't out any serious money if you're smart.  It really was summed up best by its own developers, who post on the Steam description, "AdVenture Capitalist - the game you play while playing other, better games!"

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Kingdome Rush HD

So, I was wandering through my Steam collection the other day and I stumbled onto a game I'd gotten as part of a Humble Bundle and never gotten to.  So I clicked install, let the game download, then charged in.  This forgotten game was Kingdom Rush HD, and I am so sorry it took me this long to play

Deceptively simple at first, this gorgeous looking tower defence game gives you only four tower options, and two special abilities.  At first this seems a little inadequate, but as you progress, you come to realize it's perfect.  Each of the four towers can be upgraded, and at one point, the upgrade forks.  Each tower can become something different, but all are powerful.
Honestly I love everything about this game from the music to the graphics to the voice acting.  My favorite is when you upgrade to musketeers, and they shout, "this is my boom-stick!"  It's fantastic.

So, if you are a fan of games like Plants vs Zombies, or Crystal Chronicals: My Life as a Dreadlord, you will love Kingdom Rush.  Its an amazing tower defense game.  So till next time...

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Civilization V

So, I'm a fan of RTS's, and I'm also a fan of sim games, so a long time ago, I picked up a copy of Sid Meier's Civilization.  I won't say that I was in love with the series, as much as obsessed.  The game had a hook I couldn't deny.  So, when the fifth edition of this game was offered on a Humble Bundle, I couldn't help it, I bought it.  It's just as addicting...

Honestly, this game is addicting in a way that steals hours of my life without me noticing, especially because the turns can drag on depending on the number of units you've constructed.  And with something like four or five ways you can win the game at any given moment, it keeps you distracted trying to learn tech, build an army, make friends, and be cultured.  All at the same time.  So, you kind of get sucked in.

One thing I have noticed, to my dismay, is that on a i5 quad core system, with 8GB of ram, the game seems to run slowly, and have graphics artifacts.  Now, if this was a bleeding edge graphics game, I could understand.  But this game is barely 3D.  I mean, don't get me wrong, it looks good, it just isn't stunningly detailed, and its still having issues with lag.

And my final grip is that the game is long, with options to make it even longer.  On a standard campaign, the second fastest option, with only four other countries and a medium sized map, it took me three days to complete the campaign.  This game is LONG.  And not always the most engaging.  So be careful, don't get too caught up, or you may lose a couple of weeks before you notice it.

All in all, Civilization V was okay, I just don't have the time to keep playing it.  There are other games I'd like to try.  So, until next review, I'll catch you later.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pokémon Go

So, I was one of the luck few to get a few weeks heads up on Pokémon GO,  and I've really been mulling over this one.  It's hard sometimes to write a review of a game when it's as popular as this, especially when your review is something of a negative view.

That being said, I think Pokémon GO is terribly disappointing.  When I was told it was going to be a Pokémon AR game, I thought, cool, a Pokémon game that interacts with its suroundings.  A pokemon game that will make it feel as if pokemon were part of the real world.

What we got instead was a game that feels only half done.  I'm not saying it's terrible, just that it's not great.  There is very little beyond the drive to control your local gym to drive you on your quest.  And the reality is, if you aren't the kid wasting all the data on your parent's cellphone plan, you are never going to control a gym.  Then there is the lack of battling.  In the show from the very beginning when Ash caught caterpie, we have been taught that you battle a pokemon to weaken it before throwing a pokeball.  None of that is in Pokémon GO.  In fact very little of anything in the main Gamez or the show is incorporated into the new game.  Nor is there much Augmented Reality.  The only pieces of AR in the game are the GPS tracking, and the display fed in from your camera.  And the camera functionality does less to convince you pokemon are hiding in the world than being used to make inappropriate pictures with Diglet.

Over all, this completed game feels more like a beta, and leaves me wanting a full game.  It's a bit early to see how much the rest of you like it.  But this feels like a fad thing to me.  Once the glitter and shine wear off, I'm not sure how much staying power this game has.  I guess we'll see next month.  Till then, catch you later pokefans.

(The game has made me very aware about the bugs in my attic space, though.)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Just Can't Wait

So, in the days of the good old N64, I was a huge fan of platform games like Banjo-Kazooie and Mario 64.  In fact, they were my favorite games of the era.  And to be honest, I'm sad that these style games died out with the increase in graphics capabilities.  That seems silly to me, that a good genre should die out just because graphics have gotten better. (I'm not sure this is the real reason they died out, but I've not been able to find a better one.)

So, when I heard the guys behind Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country were running their own indie development of a new 3D platformer, I became ecstatic.  Enter Yooka Laylee.  Not even out yet but one of the best looking games I've seen this year, I'm chomping at the bit for news on when this title will make it's début.  I would love to have the chance to wander through encapsulated worlds of wonder and excitement, collecting up pieces after finishing puzzles.  I might actually sit down to game seriously again, rather than just squeezing it in when I have time.  I'd also like for my kids to know what a 3D platformer is like, too.  So, I have high hopes for Yooka-Laylee.

I really can't wait to get my hands on this game, and see what Playtonic has in-store.  Do you have any fond memories of the 3D platformers of old?  Let me know in the comments.