Archive for January, 2012

h1

Happy Anniversary Arcadelife

January 31, 2012

Today, Arcadelife is one year old. No statistics, no cake, no fanfare, no review. Just me, relaxing, maybe playing a bit of Minecraft and Spelunky. See you tomorrow, when there will be a review.

Advertisements
h1

Minecraft review (PC)

January 30, 2012

“Have you ever been way down?
Have you ever been deep deep down?”

10 word description: Independently produced sandbox building / exploring game. Mine, craft, build, achieve…

Sunrise. Yes, that white square is the sun, of course

10 word review: Blocky (of course) wonderland of infinite possibilities. Lots of fun.

This is what ducks look like in a world without curves

You will like this if you enjoy: Digging holes miles under the ground. Randomly generated worlds where you can pretty much build and destroy whatever you like. Lego…

The good news: Utterly absorbing. The mining alone can keep you occupied indefinitely, with moments of pure joy when you hit your first iron ore seam, for example. Crafting is actually very easy, but you need to refer to sites such as Minecraftopia and MinecraftWiki in order to find out the majority of useful crafting recipes and how to play in general. Minecraftopia in particular has an excellent beginner’s guide. Two single-player modes, creative and survival, plus multiplayer. Plenty of unofficial mods and texture packs available.

Crafting is fun and rather deep, once you find a website that tells you how to start doing it

The bad news: You may not like the blocky graphics. Performance is not brilliant because, apparently, the code isn’t particularly efficient. Again, you can find performance tweaks (that worked for me) on various websites. There’s no information in the game about what you can craft or how to do it.

My mine tunnels look like very basic levels from Doom. Maybe I could make an entire Doom map like this...

Arcadelife verdict: I felt I needed to review this game in order to keep up with popular gaming trends that I am missing out on! I’d seen videos of people constructing immense and awe-inspiring structures, but I was more interested in the survival mode that has recently been added to Minecraft. There’s a fantastic feeling of being alone on an alien world, as much when you’re wandering around among the randomly generated mountains as when you’re far underground in a mine tunnel that you’ve been digging for hours.

I had a great moment in one of these mine tunnels; I’d been digging straight ahead and down for ages when I broke through into a huge cave system, complete with waterfalls, lava streams and some very hard to reach deposits of iron ore. It’s remarkable how impressive something like that can be in a game where pretty much everything is just a different coloured block.

My early attempt at farming, because you need to eat to survive

I haven’t made a boat or a mine-cart yet, I’m saving those for later. Along with my plans to build a castle with a moat and a drawbridge. And a hundred other things.

Night falls and the monsters come out. make sure you're safe behind some high walls

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 7/10
Audio – 7.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 10/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 85/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1

Minecraft website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q6600 @ 2.40GHz
Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 (Msi Cyclone IGD5)
4gb RAM
Windows 7 64 bit & Windows Vista 32 bit
h1

Kingdom Rush review (iPad)

January 29, 2012

“Swords against the kingdom
Time against the tower”

10 word description: Action fantasy, strategic defence game. Tower upgrades & specialisations. Game Center.

What do you think happens if you keep tapping the sheep?

10 word review: One of, if not the best tower defence I’ve played.

It's that simple. Well, actually, no it's not

You will like this if you enjoy: Tower defence games. No, really? Sorry, I know it’s obvious, but I have to say it. Also, even if you’re not particularly a TD fan, and you’re just looking for a glossy, polished and very fun new iPad game – here it is.

The boss fights are fun, rather than the game just getting a free shot at making you look silly

The good news: Small but very detailed and attractive characters and backgrounds. Towers and upgrades that make logical sense and function pretty much exactly as you expect them to. Separate upgrade paths for each tower & special attack, based on earned stars and which can be reset and tailored whenever you want to change anything. Really nice progression through levels, with complexity building gradually and an an almost endless supply of new and diverse enemies. Three main challenges on each map, two of which rely very heavily on strategy, with restrictions on what you can use and how far those defences can be upgraded. Difficult at times, yes, but not to the point where it feels unnecessarily or unfairly frustrating.

4 screens of achievements; some tough, some amusing

The bad news: iPad only. This may cause a degree of sadness to those without one.

Arcadelife verdict: I’d got to the point where I’d given up on iOS TD games. Too frustrating, too much of the same old thing, long and tedious grinds ending in a futile attempt to stem the flow of impossible-to-defeat enemies. Rather incredibly, Kingdom Rush seems to have somehow evaded those issues and given me a game that I have been playing for quite a long time and has still not annoyed me into quitting in frustration and rage. Well done. It’s interesting, because it feels fresh and fun despite almost going back to the real basics of TD.

Instead of creating bizarre towers that require a fifty page FAQ to understand, you get barracks (a few blokes standing in the road to fight and delay enemies), archery towers (shoot arrows), mage towers (shoot magic bolts) and artillery (big cannons). Two special attacks allow you to call in a couple of reinforcements or bombard the enemy with a meteor attack. Everything can be upgraded. The fun comes from seeing your strategies working and the endlessly amusing fights with great battle effects and sounds, plus Batman (Adam West era) style “Pow!” and “Sok!” exclamations from the combatants. All told, it’s a great gaming experience and an easy recommendation for iPad gamers.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9/10
Audio – 9/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 9.5/10
Final rating – 91/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.2
iTunes link

Kingdom Rush website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (OS 5.0.1)
h1

My Army review (iPod/iPhone)

January 28, 2012

“Join the army, join the army
The suicidal army, join the army”

10 word description: War themed vertical distance runner. Tilt + tap controls. Objectives & unlocks.

10 word review: Addictive fun; could be improved with additional modes; great anyway.

You will like this if you enjoy: Endless /distance type games. Top-down military combat type games, with the proviso that this is not a shoot-em up arcade game, even if the screen images make it look a bit like one.

The good news: Great variation on the endless/distance runner genre. Graphics are varied, detailed and generally pretty – in a war-torn, exploding kind of way. Background battle sound effects and gunfire are very atmospheric. Controls are good – tilt feels precise, tapping and swiping to destroy missiles and remove bomber targets is reliable and doesn’t lead to cheap deaths. level layouts are good. Replenishing your squad by rescuing prisoners adds an element of risk vs reward, particularly so during the more hectic later levels.

The bad news: The game is good as it stands with its endless style and the sets of optional objectives to clear, but it feels like it’s missing a set of challenge levels, maybe one in each zone that could be unlocked as you complete each zone? I don’t know, it’s just an idea. It isn’t really “bad news”, I just didn’t have anything else that I could think of to put in this section. Also, some additional unlockable squad powers (in addition to the uniforms & vehicles) could be added – for example, the ability to disable a small number of landmines, effectively saving you a life when you hit one, or a wire-cutter power-up that lets you run through a small number of wire fences. Again, just ideas.

Arcadelife verdict: I like the game and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a pick-up-and-play runner that isn’t depressingly difficult. It’s plenty of fun and it keeps you coming back for more with the rank promotions and the uniform & vehicle unlocks. Overall – well worth playing, but please note that it’s an endless runner with tilt controls, not an arcade style shoot-em up.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8.5/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 7.5/10
Fun – 8.5/10
Final rating – 84/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.0

Distinctive Developments website link
Bad Puppet / My Army website link

    

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
h1

Paper Monsters review (iOS / Universal)

January 26, 2012

“And I fall, well I fall, well I fall, yeah I fall”

10 word description: 2.5D platformer. Two control methods. 16 levels. Secrets. Game Center.

10 word review: Harsh Game Over and some glitches take the shine off.

You will like this if you enjoy: Great looking ‘cute’ platform games that are fun to play providing you don’t mind a few glitches and a truly evil “one fall = Game Over” rule.

The good news: Looks good, controls are ok, gameplay is mostly ok. Playing in both the foreground and the background is a nice feature.

The bad news: Before I start listing them, I’d love to see these issues fixed quickly because I feel rather sad (let down, really) that I’m not enjoying this game anywhere near as much as I could be.

– One fall = Game Over. You probably won’t notice this until level 3, which probably accounts for all the knee-jerk 5-star iTunes reviews claiming the game is perfect and the best iOs platformer ever.
– Jumping / double-jumping from flying enemies isn’t reliable.
– I fell through (glitched) several solid platforms, mostly to my untimely ‘one-fall = Game Over’ death.
– Mine carts that had to be moved in order to progress stuck to the floor for no apparent reason, resulting in a forced level restart.
– Areas of a level (1:3, for example) can be legitimately reached (i.e. without glitching) but then you’re stuck there unless you deliberately jump to your death. That’s just bad level design.
– Personal opinion – the whooping noise when he jumps … just irritates me.

Arcadelife verdict: I want to like this game,  but the frustration and annoyance of the glitches and the very harsh ‘one fall = Game Over’ are seriously affecting the amount of fun I can have with it. It isn’t because the game is hard; I love hard platform games. But if you compare this with something like 1-bit Ninja, where the intense difficulty came from pretty much perfect level design and ultra-reliable controls, it’s just an exercise in pretty graphics and a lack of care. It’s a shame, because it really could be as good as all the people who only played the first level are saying it is.

It's Game Over ... but I still have 3 lives left. If you're a masochist, you will love this game

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8.5/10
Audio – 7/10
Controls – 8/10
Content – 7.5/10
Fun – 3/10
Final rating – 68/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Crescent Moon website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
iPad (OS 5.0.1)
h1

Roads of Rome review (iPod/iPhone)

January 25, 2012

“Take me home, country roads…”

10 word description: Popular PC game redesigned for iPhone. 40 levels. Unlockable mini-games.

10 word review: Very good, plenty of content, suffers slightly on small screen.

You will like this if you enjoy: Strategic time/resource management games. Island Tribe is a similar game.

The good news: It’s a port of an established, popular and, most importantly, a good original game. Graphics are varied and pretty, mission elements and challenge progress consistently, lots of nice little details.

The bad news: Notice how I mentioned “little” details. For me, this game is a bit of a struggle on the iPhone/iPod size screen, both visually and when trying to precisely tap on the tiny resource and road-building icons. I haven’t tried the iPad HD version but I get the feeling it will be much more comfortable to play than this version on the smaller screen. Apart from that, this is a very good example of the genre, although if you’re not into this kind of game, it could seem quite repetitive as all you’re really doing is building roads… a lot of roads.

Arcadelife verdict: Despite my issues with playing Roads of Rome on a small screen, it’s still a very good game and it is definitely playable and fun on iPhone/iPod, you just have to wear your reading glasses and stare very hard at the screen. Or maybe that’s just me! If you own both iPhone and iPad, it might be worth checking out the free iPad version (there isn’t a free iPhone version).

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 8/10
Controls – 7/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 8/10
Final rating – 79/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Realore / Roads of Rome website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
h1

Jailhouse Jack review (iOS / Universal)

January 24, 2012

“Everybody in the whole cell block
Was dancin’ to the jailhouse rock”

10 word description: Jailbreak themed puzzles. Direct the action, rewind whenever you like.

10 word review: Well designed, lots of fun. Another great game from Donut!

You will like this if you enjoy: The kind of polished, pick-up-&-play mini-classics produced by Donut Games. Puzzle games. Games where frustration has pretty much been completely eliminated.

The good news: Graphics, music, puzzle design, the excellent rewind feature, plenty of levels, lots of puzzle element variety … pretty much everything here is spot on.

The bad news: Hard to fault, really.

Arcadelife verdict: It takes a few levels to get into, because it’s quite different from the majority of iOS games (even the rest of Donut Games’ catalogue), but once you figure out the fairly simple basics of the gameplay it is a ton of fun. I can’t stress how much I love the rewind feature – it feels like the puzzle designers want you to do as well as possible and not punish you just because you put something in the wrong place. Highly recommended.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8.5/10
Audio – 8/10
Controls – 9.5/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 8.5/10
Final rating – 87/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.01
iTunes link

Donut Games website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
iPad (OS 5.0.1)