Monday, November 19, 2012

Puzzle and Dragons: A Winning Mobile Mix

GungHo Online Entertainment’s free-to-play Puzzle and Dragons has finally touched down in North America, the original mobile match puzzle RPG arriving stateside on iOS late to the party in the face of similar titles such asAngel Salvation or Jewel Dragon.  Puzzle and Dragons is well worth the wait, as RPG and puzzle fans alike have plenty to enjoy in this monster collecting, dungeon crawling, orb matching mashup.

Many aspects of Puzzle and Dragons can be likened to systems found in thePuzzle Quest series, as players assemble an army of egg-hatched monsters that can be leveled and evolved to increase their stats and abilities.  Each monster’s color corresponds to an orb type found on the puzzle board during dungeon exploration.  When orbs are matched, the affiliated monsters will charge up and fire off attacks.

Players begin by executing three, four, and five match combos facilitated by creature abilities (Such as change all fire orbs to water orbs, for instance) and will quickly discover that creating large combo chains will yield explosive results.  Fire is weak to water, wood is weak to fire, and so on and so forth, making team formation an interesting task for each dungeon at hand.

Dungeons in Puzzle and Dragons run the gamut, from quick three room skirmishes to massive special event crawls.  As one would expect with any RPG, there’s treasure to be found, rare monsters and eggs to be retrieved, and big bosses to fight.  There are plenty of different abilities to make monster formations interesting as well, as creatures can sport everything from AOE burst attacks to passive healing auras.

The game’s cash shop allows players to purchase magic stones that can refill stamina, expand monster storage space, and purchase random rare pets.  Magic stones can also be acquired through gameplay, and although the game does embrace the standard free-to-play stamina/energy model, it’s quite easy to get thirty minutes to several hours of gameplay on a single bar.

Puzzle and Dragons also features a “friend” slot in party composition, a rotating monster slot that changes with each dungeon crawl.  Players can bring their friend’s lead monsters along with them for significant benefits and advantages, including providing valuable “pal points” that can be used to purchase eggs from the shop.  Doing many missions a day but don’t have a huge friendlist?  Puzzle and Dragons provides players a listing of random explorers around their level upon dungeon entry, so players can try out someone’s monster during a run and then pitch friendship to them upon completion.

There are addictive elements in Puzzle and Dragons spanning multiple genres, and they all come together in a polished product that’s tough to put down.  If you’re looking for a new title to try on your iOS device, Puzzle and Dragons is well worth the download.

Written by: Daniel Tack

Last Fish Review

Last Fish is about a lonely little creature who is trying to survive the toxic water filled with goo and dangerous shadow fish. The main objective is to eat food and avoid the hazards in the water to survive as long as possible.

The controls are tilt based, but don’t let this be a deciding factor because they work well. There are three different setups for tilting the device, and the game also support Sphero—a robotic ball that gamers can use to control the fish. The tilting mechanic is used to help the fish swim around in the confined murky waters, which is sometimes toxic itself.

The goal in each level is to complete one of the four objectives that flash on the screen. These include surviving for a specific amount of time, following a trail of rings, clearing checkpoints and eating food to achieve a specific health number. While the goals rotate throughout all 45 levels, each level is different in terms of difficulty. As gamers advance, the food quality diminishes, the goo increases, health drops at a faster rate and there are more shadow fish to avoid.

Completing a level earns gamers one of three stars. These stars are used to unlock five arcade stages that allow gamers to play endlessly. Players can go back at anytime and replay levels where they didn’t earn three stars to earn more in order to unlock these levels. As a bonus, there are also Game Center achievements and leaderboards.

While Last Fish features monochromatic graphics, the visuals are still beautiful and impressive. The low pitched and relaxing sound effects and music help set the tone for the game. The simplicity is what makes it stand out the most.

Its main downfall is that the game needs more content. There needs to be more objectives, challenges and obstacles to keep the game play fresh, otherwise players may place this one on the shelf once they are finished. However, it can be argued that gamers are getting a decent amount of game time considering this universal gem is less than one dollar.

Last Fish may be simple on the surface, but it’s hard to master. It’s a clever game with a unique art style, and its addicting game play makes it worth checking out.

Review By Angela LaFollette on November 14th, 2012
Rating:  :: DELIGHTFUL

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chasing Moonlight Review

Chasing Moonlight is a simple platform game that uses a back-to-basics approach to keep players hooked. While the controls are unconventional and somewhat difficult to master, the game play itself is simple but still provides players with plenty of challenge.

What’s captivating about Chasing Moonlight is the artwork and overall style of the game. The simple black and white graphics aren't flashy, yet the game still looks great. It feels like players are in control of an unfamiliar classic cartoon character.

Chasing Moonlight includes 70 levels packed into 6 unique stages. The goal of each level is to guide the eye-ball through the dark levels and around dangerous obstacles to make it to the portal at the end. There are three small dots to collect along the way, which help determine the overall score of each level. Players can go back and collect any missed dots later so there is some replay value.

The controls are perhaps the most frustrating aspect. In order for a platformer to succeed, the controls must work well. The first level attempts to help gamers learn how to control the main character, but it’s still quite vague and confusing. After many failed attempts, I finally figured out how to play. Gamers must hold the screen to move and tap at the angle they wish to jump. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out how to move without dying, which may deter a lot of players from enjoying the game.

Aside from the control issues, the game proves to be rewarding and fun. There are new elements in each world like falling platforms and spinning gears. Chasing Moonlight keeps players challenged without being overly difficult.

Hopefully the planned future update that will include additional stages, levels and obstacles will also include an updated tutorial screen. For now, it’s a quirky platformer that’s immersive and fun. Chasing Moonlight not exactly revolutionary, but for less than one dollar it’s worth exploring for those who aren't impatient.

Reviewer's Rate: