Review- Magikarp Jump

Pokemon themed, and bite sized, Magikarp Jump(from The Pokemon Company) is fun for a bit, but not very satisfying. At its heart it is a clicker game. That means you don’t really make very many choices, you just click and your magikarp does all the work.

 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cute little game, and you do get to collect Pokemon to sit on the banks of your magikarp pool, but there isn’t a lot of game-play here.
You start by catching a magikarp with an old fishing rod. You then have to up the stats of the magikarp by feeding and training it. (By training I mean watching it jump, or push something.)

Each action takes one click, and rewards you with some cute animations, but nothing else.

Once you’re trained enough you “battle” another trainer by seeing who’s magikarp can jump the highest. Again, this is one click. No skill involved, just clicking to see which one jumps higher based on the stats.

 
Each magikarp has a level limit,

and once it reaches the limit, and beats as many gyms as possible, he retires, and you catch a new one to start all over again.
There are plenty of collectibles in this game. You can collect more Pokemon to give bonuses to your magikarp , collect decorative items, magikarp patterns, and gym badges. There are encounters with locals who will give you coins or gems. But again, not a lot of game play outside of choosing which items to enhance your bonuses, and which magikarp to choose.
It’s a cute time waster, nice theme, but don’t expect a lot out of it.

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Review: The Trail

2016-12-24-23-31-342016-12-25-01-15-34 The Trail (from Kongregate) was announced almost a year ago. I heard about it through the Co-Optional podcast, and described as “walking down a trail, picking up items, and enjoying the view.” It didn’t sound great, in fact it barely sounded like a game at all.

It came out at the end of 2016, and after listening to Dodger talk about it I decided to download The Trail and give it a try. It had more game play than I thought it would, and I actually found it fun, in a relaxing sort of way.

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It is a stroll down a long trail, and you do craft items. You also use those items to craft goods, like clothing hat gives you extra pockets, or shoes that give you more stamina. You can craft an ax to cut down trees, or a sling to shoot animals, and with them gather more items.

At the end of each segment you’ll find a fire where you can sell or buy things from others who are at the same fire as you. A lot of the people you’ll meet on the trail are bots created by the game to do so, but this can be a good thing as they will sell things for your quests, or clothing you might need.

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But really, it’s a beautiful game. I kept finding myself trying to go farther and see what’s around the next bend. Even the little dancer girl with the sandwich board that comes out to get you to watch an ad for a prize is cute, and well designed.

And once  you get to a village you can buy a home, set up shop, work with others to sell goods and upgrade the village, and keep walking.

This really isn’t the normal kind of game. It’s more about the exploration and seeing what’s at the end of the trail then anything. There are so many different areas with forests, snowy mountains, flowery fields, and more. Well worth the walk if you’re looking for something unique and relaxing.

Quick Review: Katamari 


Tap my Katamari is a clicker game. And not a good one. Most clickers give you bonuses you can buy with the coins that allow the clicking to happen automatically. Slower than if you click it, but so gathering coins. This one has a similar function, but it’s so slow that after an hour of clicking I still hasn’t gotten very far.

They also have cousins for you to add to your abilities. The cousins have bonuses for your earning, fixing and other functions. You can also purchase mushroom power ups.

I love Katamari games, and some clickers,  but this was highly. Slow build up. Repetitive item collection. And a leveling system that boggles the mind. After an hour I managed to get to level 10,and to get two of the cousins up a few levels. But you aren’t just purchasing a level for the cousin, or for the prince’s strength. Your purchasing a piece of the level, and you have to buy several pieces before you get a level.

Bottom line, there are better clickers out there. Don’t get this one.

Review: Super Cat Bros

2016-11-19-05-54-16 Have you ever wanted to play Super Mario Brothers on your mobile device? Well, I can’t give you Mario (without an emulator) but I can give you Super Cat Bros (from FDG Entertainment)

 

An adorable side scroller with many functions like a Mario game (jumping, swimming, moving 2016-11-20-03-19-22platforms, avoiding monsters) plus a new mechanic to set it apart. You have to collect different kinds of cats, and each cat has it’s own ability. One can swim against strong currents. Another can jump father. Another can bash through walls. You have to switch the cats out in specific spots, which involves a little strategy as you get higher in levels.

2016-11-20-02-29-43The level design is much like the original Mario worlds. A grid over world that you slowly make your way through, finding keys and characters that open some paths.

It’s easy to pick up the mechanics of this game. I managed to make it through a couple dozen levels within the first day, and capture three of the cats. I haven’t beat it yet, but I did scroll across the game map and there are 50-100 levels across various terrains.

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Each of the levels has three coins to collect, some of which you won’t be able to collect until you get specific cats and go back to the previous level.

It’s a fantastic platformer, with new tricks and strategies as you go through the levels. While it’s reminiscent of the early Mario games it is not a copy. It has it’s own functions, mechanics,  and art style. It works well on mobile. There are a couple of tricky maneuvers, but after a couple of attempts I was able to get through them.

Over all a great little platformer available for download.

First Impression: Sim City

2016-10-03-03-54-40 I, like many of you, grew up playing the Sim City franchise. It was an amazing game in which you created cities, charged taxes, and built a dream city. The original series had different scenarios that you could also beat in order to earn achievements.

2016-10-03-03-57-36For the mobile version, Sim City Builder (from EA) you do a lot of the same things. You build roads, set city zones, raise taxes, and expand your city. The mobile version is also stripped down to a much smaller scale, but the basics are still there.

It does, however, add some mechanics that 2016-10-03-03-59-21 the original did not have. Specifically earning coins and materials to make new buildings from the buildings you previously made.

It’s a waiting game, letting the materiel and coins build up so that you can purchase 2016-10-03-04-06-31or upgrade new  buildings.

It was a very frustrating experience. Already, just an hour into the game, I already felt like I needed to purchase coins if I was going to be able to play this game in any effective way.

As much as I love Sims games, I am heading away from them. For the last couple of years Sim City, and to a lessor extent the Sims, have gotten away from the core building mechanics, and more about money. There are other games, like City Skylines and Tropico, that do a much better job of the core game play without adding in all the money grabbing additions.

What this says for an actual city builder on a mobile device I’m not sure yet. I’m going to have to try to find one that is actually worth sharing, and recommending. For now, Sim City for mobile isn’t recommended.

 

Review: Plants vs Zombies Heroes

2016-11-26-23-28-28I found a new card game for mobile. I actually found this while listening to Co-Optional Podcast. Total Biscuit talked about how much he liked Plants Vs Zombies Heroes, so I had to try it out.

2016-11-26-23-17-24From the first comic strip that pops up on the screen, to the cards themselves, PvZ Heroes is a funny, bright, vibrant, and addicting game.

Like most mobile card games you have to pick up more cards by earning packs, and each pack will have 1-5 cards. You can earn credits to buy some packs, and others are awarded by hitting milestones. Through the first tutorial you can pick up a number of cards to fill out your deck. You can also earn or 2016-11-27-00-20-44purchase new heroes, each with their own powers. Once you get through the tutorial you can start playing as the zombies and learn their tactics from the other side.

2016-11-27-00-04-06There are quests that earn you more currency, and you can, of course, purchase the currency for money as well.

But the actual content, the cards and moves the zombies and plants do, are hilarious. From the dolphin rider with flavor text that says “the dolphin is a zombie too”, to sour grapes that says “Sour. Bitter. Resentful. It’s all true. But he’s got his reasons.”

2016-11-28-00-24-31 The game plays well. After several dozen matches, and progressing two of my plant heroes, and one of my zombies, I have to say this is one of my favorite card systems. Not just because of the theme and jokes, but also because of how strategy plays such a huge roll, while still being within reach. I’ve lost a few battles because of bad RNG coupled with bad choices only to go fight the same zombie and pick a new strategy that works in a much better way.

The learning curve is pretty subtle, easy enough to pick up, and as you go it gets harder and hard. But I must admit that I’ve yet to try the player vs player mode. I’ll do that soon. Till then I’m just enjoying the story mode.

Impressions: Google Cardboard

vrI’ve had a Google Cardboard sitting in my house for a while. When cleaning up the living room tonight I saw it, and I thought…why not try it.

Loaded up the test app that came with it, and set up my phone in the cardboard case. The next thing I knew I was sitting on a snowy mountain with a cute white fox standing in front of me. It was beautiful.

Another simulation let me fly with seagulls… Glad I was sitting for that one. Then I was sitting in a boat, fishing, and a whale came up for air just beside me.

I 2016-10-28-07-17-27let my daughter try it. She kept saying “wow! What! Omg!” Over and over again. It was kind of funny. My boyfriend gave it a shot too and finally handed it back and told me he better stop or he’d be watching it all day.

I downloaded a couple other apps. A wizard school that had you “walking” from building to building, knocking down frozen towers with snow balls, and killing “germs” with well aimed magical bolts. And the dragon…mustn’t forget about the dragon.

2016-10-28-07-42-51Another one let me look around a pleasant aquarium while bubbles billowed around me, and I could poke the fish and make them swim away.

My over all impression? This was far more impressive than I thought it would be. For a $15 piece of cardboard with lenses it worked pretty well. I was able to adjust my phone in the case, and it relatively focused pretty easily. But it wasn’t perfect, of course. Not everyone has their eyes spaced exactly the same, and the adjustment of the phone inside the viewer is a bit finicky. Even so, once you set it up it’s easy to use. Has just one button. And gives you a lovely scene to view.

It did not strain my eyes as much as I thought it might. I’m light sensitive, and I often have problems with harsh lights in my eyes, but this wasn’t difficult at all. It didn’t make me nauseous, and I didn’t become disorientated like I had with Oculus. Maybe because it doesn’t cut you off from the surrounding environment like an Oculus can?

It is processor heavy. I wasn’t in the VR system for long, about 15 minutes or so, and when I pulled my phone out it was running hot. I play a lot of games on my phone, like all of the games I’ve reviewed on this blog. Only a few have managed to heat up my phone. But the VR images are taking a lot more power to run than the other games, and a lot more battery too.

I would definitely recommend the Google Cardboard as a low cost test. But be careful which games you download. Many of them have ads that can get loud, and hurt your eyes with them so close to your face. It would be nice if the ads were VR based if they were going to have ads in the first place.

I’m going to have to try new games, and experiences to see how well this simple VR works. I’ll add reviews as I play through some of them. I almost wish I could buy all of the different Cardboard’s (there are 13 of them) so I could see which ones were better, and more comfortable. But for now I’m going to enjoy my cardboard.