Features reviews, previews, walkthroughs, news for the latest and greatest in casual (and not-so-casual) games on the PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, and Facebook.
Heroes of Dragon Age is a collectable card game created by EA. Using collectable heroes and fighters, players take on enemies as they work through the untold history of the Dragon Age series. There is also an option to battle directly with other players at your skill level. Gamezebo's quick start strategy guide will provide you with detailed images, tips, information, and hints on how to raise an historic army.
How to Play
Fight it Out
Our friends over at GOG.com have announced a brand new Worldwide Money Back Guarantee today, which will serve to benefit all users who happen upon a faulty download of a digital game that they've purchased through the site. Simply put, in the rare event that your GOG.com game just isn't working, you'll have a full 30 days after the initial date of purchase to contact the website about getting a complete refund.
But wait, it gets even better! The new Money Back Guarantee is also being made effective for any faulty downloads that were purchased over the last 30 days. And they've even made a pretty awesome promotional video to tell you all about the new guarantee, which you can watch right below this paragraph.
Now of course, hopefully it won't even need to come to that point: as most download issues could also be solved by scouring the website's helpful FAQ or support section, and keeping in mind the very low frequency with which these broken downloads tend to occur. But still, there's nothing like a bit of added insurance. So now head on over to GOG.com and get to buying more great games without any fear!
Lawless is an arcade shooter created by Mobage. It's an interesting mix of a sort of light gun arcade shooter and a collectible card (read: gun) game. Gamezebo's quick start strategy guide will provide you with detailed images, tips, information, and hints on how to play your best game.
As if internet users weren't paranoid enough about everything they do online being monitored by government officials, it was now revealed today that secret high-ranking government agencies have also been commissioning spies to infiltrate another place that hits a little too close to home: online fantasy games. That's right, according to several classified documents that were leaked by ex-NSA contractor, Edward J. Snowden, ProPublica and The New York Times are both reporting that even online games are no longer safe from the government's prying ears and eyes.
The classified government documents claim that online gaming uses most of the technologies that criminals or terrorists would need to make their illegal transactions, such as fake names and voice chats: the idea being that these shady individuals could essentially use an online gaming server as a front to conduct their businesses, where no one would even expect it. So government officials from the C.I.A., F.B.I., and even the Pentagon began creating their own player avatars in games like World of Warcraft and Second Life to do some snooping of their own, through collecting player data, monitoring communications, and even trying to recruit informers. Seriously.
And what did the government find out from all of their deeply classified gaming efforts? Well, not a whole lot it would seem. None of the reports seem to indicate that any potential terrorist threats had been squashed due to the online gaming surveillance. However, it was also briefly mentioned that the government found a benefit in being able to identify gamers with backgrounds in fields like engineering and science for potential future recruitment within their agencies. So the next time you find yourself in a strong leadership role in a World of Warcraft quest, keep in mind that a government agent might be sizing up your skills for possible real world recruitment!
How many F.B.I. agents do you see?
It's kind of funny in a way, if the true ramifications of what's really going on here weren't so serious. I mean, can you imagine a bunch of secret government agents sitting in front of computers at a secret underground facility with their black suits and sunglasses on, all playing World of Warcraft in dead silence? Actually, I take that joke back: who knows if the government took a break from WoW-ing to peruse some Gamezebo!
According to a summary of the report, it even mentions that Xbox Live was under the government surveillance as well, in case you once thought that the Xbox One's new invasive Kinect features were the biggest of your privacy concerns. So what do you think? Has the government really gone too far now in trying to infiltrate your favorite online games? Is there no place safe on the internet for a Level 30 Mage anymore? And more importantly, how long before game developers start spoofing this whole ordeal in a government-themed Secret Agent MMO?
One of my favorite Nintendo 3DS games of the year has made the surprise transition over to PC, meaning that those people who don't own the latest Nintendo handheld can finally see what all the fuss is about. SteamWorld Dig really is as fantastic as you've heard, and it is very much in your best interest to grab a copy as soon as possible.
Imagine the world of Terraria, crossed with the ability-collecting nature of the Super Metroid series, and then coated in the most gorgeous HD visuals for good measure. SteamWorld Dig will engross you from start to finish, and most likely you'll need to dedicate an entire evening to the experience, since it's rather difficult to pull yourself away until the credits have rolled.
You are an old mining steambot called Rusty, and you've been left at an old mine out in the middle of nowhere by your late uncle. Upon arriving, you discover that the town of Tumbleton, where your mine can be found, is rather empty and desolate. You also discover, however, that your mine contains oodles of wonderful secrets and treasures - and you begin to use these treasures to help Tumbleton grow into a town to be proud of.
When you start out, all you have is a rusty old pickaxe that can barely smash through rock. However, as you dig deep into the randomly-generated underground caverns, you begin to dig up treasures and resources which can be sold in town - the money can then be used to buy upgrades and powers for Rusty, such that you can dig even deeper and find even more exciting bits and bobs.
But it's not just treasure that you're digging for. There are special chambers and machines down below that will give Rusty a real boost, and hint at what may well lie even lower beneath the surface. SteamWorld Dig's story is told in a very practical manner, with the surroundings that you dig up, and the memories of the robots in Tumbleton, spelling out exactly what happened the year before.
Of course, it's not that simple. Hidden amongst the treasures are nasty creatures that will do everything in their power to kill you off, and you'll need to carefully pick and choose your battles. It's technically possible to make it through SteamWorld Dig while barely crossing paths with any enemies, since you can forge your own path through the soil, and weave around anything that appears to be in your way.
Light is also a massive factor in play. Your lamp will burn down slowly, and once it burns out, you won't be able to see anything anymore. You can take more lamps with you, and even upgrade your lamp to hold more oil, but believe me - you don't want to get trapped beneath the surface with no light to guide your way, as it gets rather hairy down there, especially as the monsters get tougher.
All of this comes together to create the most wonderful, spellbinding video game experience, the likes of which you'll want to hold in your memory for months to come. There are so many little intricacies that make it so special - take the water, for example. Rusty is steam-powered, and as such, you'll need to collect water from caverns every now and again to power your move set.
Another example: Everything you do and dig is remembered, from the stuff you leave lying around, to the enemies you trap, to the paths you clear out. This means that backtracking is actually wonderful fun, as you get to see the avenues you created to get to where you are now, and even collect things you missed along the way.
The controls, too, are just so spot-on it hurts. Everything from the way Rusty bounds up walls, to the various rushes and jumps and smashes and springs he produces, all work incredibly well and make you really feel like you're in full control of the old steambot. And once you've played through the game once, it's fantastic to go back again through a new randomly generated world, and try out lots of different ways to make sure of Rusty's abilities.
The transition from Nintendo 3DS to PC could have been dangerous - fitting everything ... (Read More)
World of Tanks is, to put it bluntly, a phenomenon. While offering a different style of gameplay, I wouldn't hesitate to call World of Tanks as popular as other free-to-play multiplayer offerings like League of Legends or DOTA 2. And like those games, it was only a matter of time until somebody decided to take this winning formula mobile.
The "somebody" in this case isn't World of Tanks creators Wargaming.net (whose own mobile version, World of Tanks Blitz, was announced back in March), but Game Insight - a top developer of free-to-play games for the casual mobile market.
2013 has seen something of a change in focus for Game Insight. The company that was built on the success of games like Mystery Manor and The Tribez has been voraciously pursuing the midcore sector with releases like Dragon Eternity and Starborn Wanderers. Tank Domination isn't just their latest foray into market; it's their biggest and boldest gamble yet.
And yes, it's one that pays off.
Like the aforementioned World of Tanks, Tank Domination is a game of team-based tank warfare. In this case it's a 10v10 online deathmatch where the goal is to take the other team's base or wipe every opponent out before doing so. Before I go any further, I'd like to slow down and let that sink in for a minute. 10v10. That's 20 players playing simultaneously on the iPad. And for the most part, it works without a hitch.
The controls take a little getting used to, but after a few battles they'll feel like second nature. An on-screen left thumbstick will control the movement of your tank while a right thumbstick will control your turret. Controlling these separately feels intuitive in similar games that use a mouse and keyboard, but for some reason it takes a little experience to really feel comfortable with here. Much of the fun in games like this is realizing that your turret might not move as fast as your eyes, so you'll want to have your head on a swivel well in advance of needing to aim. Because of this, your initial experience might be "the aiming in this game is @#$%!" Push through it. You'll adjust, and you'll be thankful that you did.
Every aspect of your tank - including turret speed - can be modified by upgrading your parts. New parts will unlock for purchase as you level up your tank, with special parts (and speedy levelling) available through premium currency. Eventually your tank will level out, and you'll want to buy another. Soon you'll be switching back and forth between a whole stable of armored asskickers.
Having multiple vehicles - especially early on - is important. Tank Domination is a "when you're dead, you're dead" game, and your tanks will be unavailable to use until the match they were participating in is over. If you have just one tank, you won't be able to jump into a fresh battle right away.
Avoiding death, though, is the real goal of Tank Domination. The longer you survive, the more lambs you can lead to the slaughter. This means learning your maps, learning vehicle weaknesses, and using the terrain to your advantage. If you're under attack and there's a hill, use it to disappear from your assailant's field of view. Not doing much damage to the opponent for some reason? Aim for the back of their tank instead. And above all else, keep moving. You're no good to my team if you're dead.
The maps themselves are varied in size and layout, and are incredibly well designed. I've yet to come across a map where I said "ugh, not this one again." The more I play each map, the better I feel I'm getting at the game. That alone deserves an award in terms of map design.
There are a few weird hiccups in the system that you might encounter, but they're the sort of thing that Game Insight should be able to iron out quickly. In one instance I was greeted with the words "LStoreOverload" instead of "TO BATTLE!" because my storage (or "depot" in Tank Domination speak) had too many items in it. In another instance, there was a period where every time I tried ... (Read More)
Dragon Mania is a dragon simulation game from Gameloft, in which you will be put in charge of a dragon habitat where you'll need to raise and grow dragons in order for them to become more powerful than ever. The game can throw challenges at you to make sure you're ready, and with Gamezebo's quick start guide you'll have all of the tips, tricks, and walkthroughs you'll need to stay ahead of things.
Acquiring New Dragons
Mix one part Virtua Cop with a scoop of collectible card game and you have Lawless: a freemium action game that's all about relatively precise shooting and collecting lots and lots of guns. It makes for a surprisingly entertaining bite-sized arcade shooter, actually - although regrettably, some of the typical Mobage gouging does come into play.
The majority of your time spent playing Lawless will involve tapping the screen to shoot people. It's a rather basic idea, certainly, but there are other elements thrown into the mix to keep things from getting stale. Enemies move around, duck behind cover, and attack with their own firearms or even grenades (which must be shot out of the air to avoid damage). People you don't want to shoot, like civilians, run all over the map because logically the best place to go during a gunfight is right between the two shooters. Sometimes you'll be asked to maintain a certain accuracy percentage to earn a reward bonus. Other times you'll be required to use a specific category of weapon.
In between firefights you'll be able to upgrade the guns you've earned, buy new ones, or sell off the extras. This is where Lawless' card-collecting elements come into play, as each gun is essentially like most cards used in similar Mobage titles. They have rarity, you can pour money into improving their stats, and even upgrade them into more powerful (i.e. higher rank and rarity) versions given enough time and cash. A similar system is used to improve characters, although they can only be leveled-up through completing levels. Still, once they hit their maximum, you can spend gold (a special upgrade-only currency earned by achieving 1-3 stars in each stage) to have them Rank Up and start the leveling process (they keep their stats, but can improve even more now) all over again.
Lawless ticks almost all of the boxes required for a mindlessly fun arcade game. The controls are simple, progression is relatively quick, levels can be replayed as often as you'd like for extra cash and experience, and the amount of time spent playing a stage rarely exceeds a minute or two. It's great for quick bursts of play. There's also the allure of possibly nabbing rare guns; either by chance through a boss fight, or by other chance through a random draw after completing a level. As expected it mostly results in doubles, but whatever you don't need can be sold for a rather tidy profit. And when you finally do get a really awesome gun it gets even harder to stop.
I also really appreciate how it doesn't beat you over the head with wait timers. The only significant one is tied to extra lives: players have a bank of 3, and if they lose one it takes 20 minutes to come back. The thing is, when it's so easy to jump back into earlier levels for some extra cash and experience it ends up being a non-issue. If I hit a tough spot I can just replay the 30+ previous missions for loot and such until I'm ready to try again. This can get a bit repetitive of course, as can the levels repeating later on, but ultimately it's not a big deal.
Lawless does have a bit of a problem with price-gouging, however. There are some truly impressive firearms to be had, but all of them require special coins to purchase. And these coins can only be bought with real money. They can't be earned in-game or by any other means. If you want that ridiculously powerful shotgun, you're going to have to pay for it out of pocket. It wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that the game constantly reminds you of these weapons. "Here, rent this rifle. See how great it is? Now you can buy it for $3. No? Guess it's back to your middling assault rifle then!" It wears on the nerves. As does the unresponsive reload button and the often poorly-placed special action button (toss grenades, heal allies, etc.) that often ends up with an enemy hiding behind it.
Despite the interface annoyances and rather tacky monetization, Lawless still makes for a shockingly good time - ... (Read More)
Board games today are so much more than the simple Parker Brothers games of our youth. Moving pieces around squares with the occasional twist is where most of us start our cardboard-and-plastic careers, but it's hardly where it ends for the hardcore enthusiast.
It's strange that Lords of Waterdeep feels like exactly that. With the Dungeons and Dragons brand behind it you might envision stat sheets, character creation, inventory management - that's what I expected, anyway. Rather, it's more Monopoly by way of Game of Thrones than 2nd Edition AD&D.
Waterdeep goes decidedly off-brand almost immediately. You don't play as a determined adventurer, winding your way through one of the many D&D universes with a light purse and a heavy hammer. Completing adventures is beneath you. As a lord of the titular city, you make adventures happen.
This is expressed through resource management - glorious, abstracted, flavorful resource management. Rather than trading in hotels and houses, however, your lord trades in lives. Specifically, you deal in the lives of wizards, soldiers, clerics, and rogues, which are expended to purchase real estate and ultimately "purchase" quests.
The game plays over eight rounds, broken into turns based on available "agents." Agents are the hands, fingers, and fists of a Waterdeep lord. Using one on a specific tile will grant that tile's benefit: whether that's recruiting a conniving rogue, earning a bit of cash, or making use of constructed facilities.
It sounds simple because it is. Like those games designed for parents to teach their children quickly enough to keep them quiet for a day, Waterdeep is about as pick-up-and-play as anything with "D&D" printed on the tin gets.
The challenge (and the intrigue) comes from other players. The title does say lords - plural - after all.
Those tiles I mentioned can only house one agent per round, making resources finite. That's key, because you need those resources to play quest cards, and you need quest cards to earn victory points. Different quests are worth more points, and some even alter core mechanics by adding extra agents to the mix, or making other quest types more valuable.
So what do you do when presented with dwindling, shared resources and a time-limited gold rush? You screw over every mother's child around the board before they screw you, obviously.
A lord's smartest directive for an agent isn't always the most immediately profitable; sometimes it's best to occupy the wizards' tower to keep another player from healing fallen Gray Hand soldiers and winning the loyalty of six, whole fighters. Other times you'll want to buy the jester's court to earn a little coin every time an opponent dares use it.
Yes, I'm interjecting a bit of my own flavor to the lore there, but that's only because Waterdeep is so good at evoking it. Each digital card comes with beautifully pained art and flavor text to help drag you into Dungeons and Dragons' world faster than preteens on a magic rollercoaster. Seriously, it's gorgeous.
The overhead map is no slouch either, with dynamic clouds and a day/night cycle over what looks like hand-made scribbles on worn parchment. It's a map that's seen use, and the moving segments lend it a quality of magic realism. These are details that didn't need to be included, but I'm all the happier for their inclusion.
It's a testament to the game's polish that even with the virtual frippery Waterdeep runs without the slightest drop in framerate, short loading times, and high resolution on current mobile devices. Another forward-thinking detail is the inclusion of a pass-and-play mode, in addition to AI players and online play. Why more mobile games don't include each of these options continues to baffle me.
And did I mention that there's not a single microtransaction to be found? Believe me, I was determined to find them, and pleasantly shocked when I couldn't. In Waterdeep, the game you pay for is the game you get. How novel.
If ... (Read More)
EA's Dragon Age series supplies an in-depth fantasy world that goes way beyond stories about noble heroes and evil dragons. The Dragon Age wiki contains thousands of pages with reams of information about Grey Wardens, archdemons, and Darkspawn. It stands to reason, then, that Dragon Age fans would love the supplementary story material in Heroes of Dragon Age. That may be the case, but the hands-off combat and rapidly-depleting energy system might actually send them packing for a more exciting region of Thedas.
Heroes of Dragon Age plays a good deal like many of the digital collectable card games available on the App Store and Google Play, which is an interesting thing to say because there isn't a card to be seen in-game. Instead of the usual static illustrations of warriors and sorcerers, you command small, animated figurine-like heroes and creatures from the Dragon Age universe. That means you can expect to have standard archers and mages at your command, but you may also command a Darkspawn or a demon or three.
Heroes of Dragon Age's campaign stretches across several scenarios that link together to tell previously-unexplored stories from the overarching Dragon Age mythos. Each scenario pits you against the bad guys, but since this is Dragon Age, "bad guys" is a very nebulous term. Either way, you're on the left, the enemy is on the right, and if you don't knock down your target before they clobber you, you'll be sent limping home.
Fighters attack according to their speed, and they hit according to their stats and levels. Each warrior at your command in Heroes of Dragon Age has differing levels of rarity. The rarer a fighter, the more powerful it tends to be.
You summon fighters by way of packs that can be purchased at the in-game store. Low-cost packs cost in-game coinage, and there's a slim chance you may score a rare fighter with one. It is, however, far more likely that you'll grab a common warrior who's more useful as fodder for levelling up your champions. If you want a guaranteed rare score, you need to buy premium packs with gems, the game's hard currency.
At this point, you kind of expect a collectable card game to charge you for the good stuff. Heroes of Dragon Age even encourages you to grind for gems and coins by going back and "mastering" previously-played scenarios. The problem with this setup is the game's rapidly-depleting stamina bar (the PvP feature has a separate, also rapidly-depleting, stamina bar). Once your bar empties, you need to wait around for it to refill, or use gems to get back into the game right away.
Sure, games like Puzzle & Dragons utilize a similar stamina system - but a battle in Puzzle & Dragons can last for quite a while, and you usually feel satisfied at the end of it. Fights in Heroes of Dragon Age are done very quickly, so you might progress five minutes into the campaign before you're forced to call things off for a recharge.
The battle system in Heroes of Dragon Age presents another problem: It's hands-off. You're responsible for picking your warriors, placing them strategically on the battlefield, and picking runes that may lend an edge in battle. Beyond that, once you hit "Fight," your warriors charge ahead without your input. Taking a passive role gives you an opportunity to admire the characters' awesome fighting animations, but before long you'll want to be in the fray with them.
Heroes of Dragon Age is a decent collectable card game, though its poor stamina system and passive battles make it difficult to recommend to hardcore Dragon Age fans who enjoy the series for its action and exploration. That said, if you're intrigued by the idea of "playing" through Dragon Age's history, and if you've been looking to get into a collectable card game anyway, Heroes of Dragon Age is a solid dragon to hitch your cart to.
It's no secret that kids in the U.S. are lagging behind in the STEM subjects - also known as science, technology, engineering and math - when compared to their counterparts in other countries all over the globe. The reasons why are common fodder for both polite and political debate, but rooting out the cause pales in importance compared to finding a solution.
Fingerprint thinks it can help. The San Francisco-based company believes in its approach, combining first party content and the curation of top educational games from developers all over the world, all served up on its own platform. Some big brands are on the Fingerprint bandwagon too, tapping it to help create their own mobile kids networks.
But that's the macro picture. When it comes to the specific area of STEM learning, Fingerprint already has an impressive group of offerings that attack the problem from different angles. Games like Equator and Cosmic Reactor turn math into a multiplayer affair, while Not Lost in the Universe teaches about renewable energy sources in the course of an interactive story. Other apps tackle business, math, geography, biology, and more, all tested by children and approved by experts before it hits Fingerprint Play.
Fingerprint Play in action
The company has apps that teach letters and language skills as well, but according to Chief Creative Officer Michael Chanover, the more technical subjects have emerged as a primary focus. "We know with the increase in importance in the educational system in the U.S. and beyond how important STEM is becoming," Chanover said to Gamezebo. "We know, especially in America, there's a great big gap to fill with regard to STEM education, opportunities and jobs. It's something we all see as important. And with the mobile content that we develop, the curriculum that we have in a lot of our games, we believe that we're really helping bridge that gap."
At the heart of the Fingerprint philosophy is the idea that dry, sometimes intimidating topics can be transformed into experiences that are not only fun, but bring people together. Chanover says this is due in large part to the way Fingerprint's team has been able to think outside the box when it comes to learning games as single-player fare. In other words, when kids play together, even math and science become infectious.
"There are really some incredible, magical things that happen between siblings, between kids and friends, between parents and kids, which we think is just so wonderful and such a unique way to add a play pattern," Chanover said. "It's interesting because we generally identify these devices as solitary experiences where a child will be engaging with their content and relatively focused in that specific experience. With these games, we found that the world opens up in a way that they're playing with friends, and they want to have friends over to play with them, and it's really been a great thing."
Another attractive feature of Fingerprint's games is that they automatically track what kids are playing and tag specific things they're learning. This adds to what Chanover calls the "dinner table" effect by giving parents more insight into exactly what their children are consuming, and providing them with easy ways to bring those lessons up in conversation. They can even quickly jump in and play the games for themselves if desired.
Kids can learn about renewable energy sources by playing Not Lost in the Universe.
"We've consistently found that parents who have shared their thoughts with us around this feature in particular say exactly that, that it's nice to know," Chanover said. "They'll say, 'I usually think I know everything that's happening, but to be able to see all their games in one place is great.' We really love when that kind of dialogue takes place."
The Fingerprint platform also allows safe messaging between children, friends, and parents with emoticons and canned phrases. Plenty of educational ... (Read More)
Fishcow Studio is an independent development team based out of Slovakia, who is proud to have recently launched their first major title, Gomo.
In Gomo, players partake in the search for Gomo's best friend, his dog Dingo, who has been abducted by aliens. In order to get Dingo back, Gomo will have to traverse across his world, searching for a rare crystal that lays buried deep underground. Featuring over 35 unique locations, players have plenty of scenery to point-and-click their way through on their hunt to find Dingo.
Gomo is currently available for PC and Mac, with a Linux version planned in the future. The developers have taken into consideration the wide array of gamers who may appreciate the game's casual experience, and so Fishcow Studio released the game in nine different languages: English, German, Spain, French, Russian, Italian, Polish, Czech and Slovak.
Fishcow Studio's Gomo is being published by Daedalic Entertainment, the development team revered for their popular Deponia series, along with other point-and-click adventure hits like Memoria, The Night of the Rabbit, and Harvey's New Eyes.
Gomo is available now available now, and gamers can follow Fishcow Studio on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the team's latest developments.
Grinding Gear Games launched their free-to-play online action RPG Path of Exile earlier last month, and are now reporting some impressive figures: 250,000 players log in to the game each day, while over four million in total have registered to play.
However these numbers are not exclusive to just the past month, as Grinding Gear Games launched Path of Exile into open beta back in January, but the statistics are impressive nonetheless and certainly not a common occurrence within the indie game scene. Of course, being able to tap into Steam's daily user base - one which recently surpassed 7 million - helps a bit too.
We previewed Path of Exile, back in February, shortly after the game went into Open Beta. In our preview we talked about how Grinding Gear Games desired to shift the game away from how RPGs seem to be following a "bright, cartoony" trend. It was clear from a number of instances, that Grinding Gear Games certainly was able to follow through with that goal, as the world within Path of Exile is certainly not for the faint of heart.
Players interested in Path of Exile can visit the game's official website to register and download the game client, or Steam users can simply download the game through the Steam store.
Developer Rezoner "Rezonerd" Sikorski participated in last month's 0h Game Jam, and his result is Hotline Trail, a top-down endless racing game where the route is only visible a short distance ahead. As the route reveals itself, players must make lightning-fast adjustments in order to keep from falling off of the track.
Hotline Trail features a trippy 80s vibe that may remind many of Dennaton Games' 2012 title, Hotline Miami (currently available for 50% off on Gamezebo Deals!). While not nearly as violent as its alleged inspiration, Hotline Trail relies more on the unknown, rather than violence, to keep the player on edge. Two players can play the game at the same time using the Arrow keys and the WASD keys separately.
Sikorski is no stranger to Game Jams, having already picked up some acclaim for his Ludum Dare 26 title, QbQbQb (which you can pick up as part of the latest Bundle In A Box offering).
Players can give Hotline Trail a shot in their browsers, as the full game is available for free, on Sikorski's official website. The game is also available on Google Play for Android users to download for $1.47.
Fans of Hotline Trail can follow Sikorski on both Twitter and Tumblr, where he periodically will post updates on his latest projects.
The Indie Ordinary Gamer Bundle is Bundle In A Box's latest bundle offering. Featuring indie hits like One Finger Death Punch, QbQbQb, and Cognition, the bundle utilizes two pricing tiers to separate the games into two groups. Buyers paying anything between the 99-cent minimum and below the average price will receive five titles. Paying over the current average adds on six games.
All bundle buyers receive bonuses in the form of soundtracks, wallpapers, and an artwork collection. As more bundles are sold, more content will continue to unlock, so bundle buyers should check back often to ensure they collect all of the goodies available.
All of the games come DRM-free, and some come packaged with keys for activation on Desura or Steam. Thirty percent of the proceeds collected will go to benefit the Able Gamers charity, and for every hundred bundles sold, Bundle In A Box puts $15 aside for the Indie Dev Grant. After the bundle ends, buyers will be able to select what developer shall receive the grant.
Be sure to check out our reviews of Cognition and Hairy Tales, both of which are included within the bundle.
The Indie Ordinary Gamer Bundle runs through December 27th. Visit the Bundle In A Box website to take advantage of the offering.
Alientrap Games, the developers behind 2011's action platformer, Capsized, recently revealed the second trailer for their upcoming platformer, Apotheon. While Capsized took place far in the future on an unknown alien planet, Apotheon takes place far in the past, back in Ancient Greece.
In Apotheon, players take on the role of humanity's final champion, attempting to end the wrath of the gods. Of course as a mere mortal that will not be an easy task, and as seen in the trailer, plenty of challenging foes await. Apotheon is set to include online multiplayer game modes alongside the open-world single player campaign.
Currently Alientrap Games is running a special pre-order promotion where by pre-ordering Apotheon, buyers not only save 33% off the base price, but get a copy of Capsized for free. We previously reviewed Capsized and awarded the game four out of five stars, praising the game for its gorgeous visuals, action-packed gameplay, and extra game modes. Based on what can be seen in the trailer, it appears as if Apotheon is set to improve even further on what made Capsized so fun to begin with.
Gamers interested in Apotheon can pre-order the game from its official website, although no official release date has been announced.
If you're thinking about making mobile games - and if you're thinking about doing it with Corona SDK - Gamezebo Deals has an offer that you'll want to jump into asap. Normally $100, you can sign up for the "Mobile Game Development Made Easy" course for just $49.99 right now.
The course is designed for intermediate level developers who already have some experience with Corona and mobile development in general, so beginners will want to give this one a pass. For everyone else though, this might just be the crash course you need to get your games up and running with Corona.
For more information on course specifics, and to sign up, click here to visit deals.gamezebo.com.
Burn the Rope 3D pretty much delivers what its title promises: A puzzle game that plays very similarly to Big Blue Bubble's popular Burn the Rope, but with the inclusion of a third dimension. It's a small change on paper, but it still adds significant depth to the rope-burning puzzles that made the initial game so popular in the first place.
Like its predecessor, Burn the Rope 3D stars an everlasting flame sprite that's pretty eager to spread its fire across a series of ropes (fire in general takes propagation very seriously). When you're ready to burn, you touch a match to some on-screen ropes and watch the flames eat 'em up. Ideally, you want to burn everything, but you're allowed to pass the level if you clear at least 60% of your target.
You might think, "Gee, how hard is it to burn everything to the ground?" Turns out it's harder than you think. Flames only stay alive as long as they're travelling upwards in Burn the Rope 3D. If they remain upside-down for too long, they sputter and die. In the original Burn the Rope, you fuel the fire by constantly turning your mobile device so that the flame continuously takes an upward path. In Burn the Rope 3D, you rotate the puzzle itself in order to keep the fires stoked.
Bugs and colored ropes also return to fill the same roles they play in Burn the Rope. The different-colored ropes that appear in most stages can only be burned by a flame of the same color. If you roast a colored ant crawling along the ropes (can you hear the tiny screams?), the flame changes to match the bug's hue. With a careful combination of foresight and reckless burning, you should be able to reduce each puzzle into piles of hemp ash.
Burn the Rope 3D's three-dimensional puzzles force you to consider each level from a different angle, so to speak. Sections of rope appear connected until you turn the puzzle on its axis, so it's not recommended you simply jump into each level with both feet. Curiously, though the 3D gameplay adds complexity to the Burn the Rope formula, it also simplifies it in a way. Turning a puzzle with your fingers is far easier than spinning your mobile device around and apologizing after you elbow your neighbor on the bus.
That said, Burn the Rope 3D might be too similar to Burn the Rope to satisfy burninators looking forward to a "true" sequel from Big Blue Bubble. It's been a long time since we've seen level updates to Burn the Rope, though, so maybe think of Burn the Rope 3D as a level pack. Setting things on fire and roasting bugs like little kernels of Christmas-colored corn is as fun and satisfying as ever, so unless you're utterly tired of burning up lengths of rope, there's no reason why you shouldn't enjoy this hot little 3D number. Heck - it even has its own theme song.
There's no question that the free-to-play model is here to stay in the gaming industry. After all, there's no better way for developers to get more people to check out their latest game than by using that alluring "Free" label. And for gamers, well who doesn't love getting free games? But then of course, the big question for free-to-play developers quickly arises: "How do I get users to actually spend money while playing my game?" The sad truth of the matter is that for many of today's smaller game developers, getting a lot of people to play their games for free doesn't necessary put money in their bank accounts. But luckily for them, Playnomics is here to help bridge that gap: by introducing their innovative PlayRM suite that serves as a platform for developers to analyze their users' in-game spending and staying habits, while effectively creating marketing campaigns to cater to these different individual monetization segments.
I recently had a chance to send some questions to Chethan Ramachandran, the co-founder and CEO of Playnomics, and find out some more about the latest additions to the PlayRM suite, how the company sees the relationship between game developers and their high-value users, and of course, how the future of free-to-play games factors into the equation. Well for starters, Ramachandran chocks up the challenge of creating a free-to-play game that is constantly able to draw in monetization from users over long periods of time as being dependent upon two overarching industry problems. This realization ultimately led Playnomics to introduce two brand new features into their PlayRM suite in order to address these problems head-on: the Acquisition Value Predictor and the Churn Predictor.
Co-founder and CEO of Playscape, Chethan Ramachandran
The first problem, as he tells me, is that "games must buy new users constantly to remain profitable." What's more, developers will tend to waste precious money and resources on marketing these new-user channels, only to bring in more players (acquisitions) who are unlikely to even spend anything in the long run. One way that the Acquisition Value Predictor aims to alleviate this problem is by displaying each player's Lifetime Value rating (or LTV) only a few days after they initially start playing. This way, the marketing team can quickly shift their efforts to key in on these higher-value users, as a result of determining the overall ROI of each player source or channel. The AVP also predicts the likelihood of player spending for a 90-day period after they've entered into a game, and it continues these predictions throughout the entire lifespan that a player stays with the game.
The second monetization problem that Ramachandran and his team at Playnomics wanted to address involves the concept of player churn, or how long players will actually stick with a game for extended periods of time before moving on to something else. "Most games have a monthly churn of anywhere from 60-90%," Ramachandran tells me. "Games and apps spend big bucks on new customers, only to lose many of them within days." Naturally, the ideal situation for any freemium developer is to find those users who are the most likely to spend, and to keep them sticking around for as long as they can. This is exactly where PlayRM's Churn Predictor comes into play, which offers developers pinpoint-accurate data on which users are likely to churn, even predicting right down to within a couple of days before "a user in a particular segment will leave the game for good."
By utilizing the Churn Predictor, game developers can now make stronger decisions in the creation of their PlayRM-assisted personal marketing campaigns with the aim of retaining and monetizing their higher-value users. In essence, it's all a way that developers can better understand their players on a more individual level. Once the games know who they're going to be communicating with, then developers can "create ... (Read More)
How is everyone doing out there in the world of free games and sales today? Still recuperating after the biggest sales weekend of the year? Yeah, us too. But even though things may have calmed down a bit around here after the craziness of Black Friday Madness last week, that's certainly not to say we don't have a few new gaming deals to send your way all the same!
Why in fact, you're pretty likely to find some amazing new deals everywhere you look on the internet this week: from huge discounts on some of our favorite iOS games to be released this year, to big savings on adventure games over at GOG.com, and even a new Humble Bundle with the word "Jumbo" in its title, so you already know that it's going to be a good one! And even your old pal Gamezebo is hosting a great deal or two to round out the total package.
Will you be cashing in on any of the great savings listed below? Let us know in the replies, and while you're at it, don't forget to point out any other cool deals that we may have missed!
We're hosting a few gaming deals right now that you surely won't want to miss, including;
The Humble Jumbo Bundle
Pay what you want and got the following amazing games;
Pay more than the average and also get;
GOG.com Fast & Adventurous Weekend Promo
Save big on classic adventure games from the Anuman catalogue, including;
It's funny how much money some companies will spend making complex video games when so often, simplicity is best. Then again, making something simple that's also sophisticated and entertaining isn't exactly easy. Zedarus Games' new number-based search game Numerity is a prime example of sophisticated minimalism--part math drill and part hidden object game, it spins an amazing amount of fun from some very basic elements.
The main idea in Numerity is to find specific numbers hidden within a complex jumble of them. To begin with, the game assigns these to you and you simply locate and tap them. Tapping makes every instance of the number, wherever it's located within the numerical medley, appear highlighted in black. You continue doing this as an on-screen counter tracks your progress all the way to 100%, and then you watch in delight as the camera moves back and reveals the image you've been building. It's kind of ridiculous how satisfying that is, reminiscent in a way to finally seeing the image appear in those infuriating stereogram things.
Anyway, at first the images are of famous faces like Audrey Hepburn and John Lennon; then they move on to animals, famous landmarks (like the Eiffel Tower), lifestyle imagery, and gadgets. Each category has ten levels (that's fifty levels total) and the game changes and becomes more difficult from one category to the next. Where at first you're merely given numbers, you're then asked to do simple math problems to arrive at them before being able to search. Before you math-o-phobes out there run away screaming, the problems here are no harder than 29 + 10, 91-17 or 3 x 5, a setup that's accessible to players of basically all ages.
Each level of Numerity has a timer, but rather than pressuring you by starting with a set chunk of time and then running out, it's there merely to track how quickly you can complete the level. You can completely ignore the timer if you want to, and let the muted graphics and minimal, soothing music make the activity into a kind of restful meditation. While on paper, this might all sound too simple to make for a good game, but it's really what makes Numerity so ingenious. Without the bells and whistles, it's more entertaining than the majority of things you'll find on any given day in the iTunes App Store.
What's coolest about it though, beyond its entertainment value, is that playing it uses both sides of your brain. As your left brain chugs away finding sums, products, and differences, your right brain gets a workout from locating hidden numbers; the two are constantly changing places. This process becomes even more involved as the game's difficulty increases. Numerity does this with real finesse, by adding subtle changes such as hiding tiny, single numbers, slowly rotating the game board, and fogging the edges of the screen, thus forcing you to drag the board back and forth.
Although the trend these days is free-to-play, Numerity currently goes for $.99 cents in the App Store. It's more than worth it, and right now during Zedarus's launch sale, you can get it for only half of that. Although it can be played alone, it can also be played as a social game and has all the necessary social trappings: Facebook/Twitter sharing, Leaderboards, friend challenges, and microtransactions. The latter consist of coins you can buy to spend on hints and these go for a very reasonable $.99 cents per 100, up to $2.99 per 1,000 (each hint costs 10 coins).
Numerity is a fantastic game. The only negative thing that can be said about it is that fifty levels just aren't enough. Zedarus Games apparently has more levels in the works though, and considering all the possibilities their formula gives them, Numerity could theoretically go on forever. Whenever it is, I'll be waiting--my cerebral hemispheres could use another good workout.
In a glassy, psychedelic arena in the deepest reaches of space, a war is waging. Up to four narwhals enter a no-holds-barred deathmatch, but only one emerges. To survive, the strongest, nimblest narwhal must use his tusk to pierce the exposed hearts of his opponents while protecting his own vulnerable organ as techno music plays and low gravity flings the finned fighters against the ceiling, walls, and each other. This is STARWHAL: Just the Tip.
The absurdity and simplicity of STARWHAL merge to create a breathlessly fun "multiplayer space narwhal combat simulator," as developer Breakfall describes it. Floppy, QWOP-like controls make for unpredictable, unexpected, and hilarious results. Direct tusk-hits and near-misses are accentuated by bullet time slow motion that zooms in on the colorful, blobbish narwhal battlers. Players fight their own fingers as much as each other, despite using only three keys for control.
This simplicity is indicative of STARWHAL's start as a 48-hour Global Game Jam entry, but since its conception in January, the Breakfall team has continued refining and iterating on the narwhal fighter. They're now planning to bring the joy of an expanded STARWHAL to as many platforms as possible, including PC, Wii U, PlayStation 4, and possibly Ouya and Xbox One. Enhancements to be made to the current single-stage, local-only demo include additional arenas, costumes for your narwhal, taunt functionality, and multiplayer modes like Team Battle, King of the Zones, and the tag-like Heart Throb.
To make these and other upgrades, Breakfall has turned to Kickstarter for their final funding push. We caught up with Breakfall Artists Angele Desjardins and Andrew Jobin, Programmer Jason Nuyens, Designer Jan Kozlowski, and Music and Sound Designer Mike Keogh for their insight on all things STARWHAL.
STARWHAL started off as an entry in the Global Game Jam 2013, whose theme was a beating heart. How did the Breakfall team get from "heart" to dueling narwhals facing off in space? Obviously the hearts remain an important feature, but that is a crazy--and awesome--leap.
Angele Desjardins: We brainstormed for a couple of hours on ideas with the heart theme as a starting point but then we threw out the theme and tried to think of something just fun and silly. When we had found an idea we liked, we tied it back together with the theme.
Andrew Jobin: Unlike years before, we eventually decided on making a game we wanted to play without heavily focusing on the theme. This way we were able to create something without artificial restrictions and opened the playing field to whatever we wanted. The original idea was to have jousting unicorns but quickly changed to narwhals due to potential complications in having to deal many joint in such a short timeframe. The heart theme neatly fell into place when we needed a target for the narwhals to hit.
Is there a backstory plot to STARWHAL? Are these narwhals being trained for zero-gravity military operations, or part of some strange alien race of narwhal gladiators? As a floppy space narwhal, what is a player's motivation?
AD: We haven't settled on an official backstory but I definitely have one in my head involving some sort of dystopian future where narwhals have overthrown the human race and have expanded across the galaxy, taking over worlds as they go. Like a future space cetacean Roman Empire.
Do you anticipate STARWHAL might be picked up by the competitive fighting game scene? With the popularity of Divekick, it seems like there's a thirst for fun, alternative entries in the genre. Could we be seeing STARWHAL tournaments in the near future?
Jan Kozlowski: We hope so! The fighting game community is a dedicated group who play games at a much higher level than most, and we'd absolutely consider it a badge of honor if STARWHAL were well received by them. Divekick is ... (Read More)
Dragon Mania is Gameloft's answer to Clash of Clans, joining the crowded combat genre a bit late in the game, but making up for it with some very exciting gameplay. It drops some of the simulation elements in favor of active battle sequences, allowing you to take your elemental dragons into combat to see who's the best screen-tapper in the kingdom!
Dragon Mania is all about raising, feeding, and growing dragons, and then carrying them into battle against the evil Vikings. You do this by curating your village to hold habitats, then purchasing dragon eggs to hatch and care for. Collect rent from these buildings and use the money to upgrade them to hold more troops; but be mindful of food stores, as baby dragons need lots of chow to grow up to be big and strong.
Quests appear on the left side of the screen, giving you direction early in the game. They range from simple tasks like "build this structure," to more complicated missions that will take days to complete. Naturally, you can skip artificial wait times by spending gems, one of Dragon Mania's two in-game currencies. In addition to the basic hatching and nursery facilities, Dragon Mania also has a handful of other buildings to help support your army. Breeding dens, for example, allow you to make new dragons in the old fashioned way, while things like banners and wishing wells are purely for show. Most of your time will be spent focusing on feeding your army, of course. With 50 different dragons to raise, you'll have your hands full without worrying about planting fruit trees.
Battles in Dragon Mania take on a different slant than most Clash of Clans-type games. Instead of dropping troops on the screen and watching them do their thing, you actually get to participate! It's a bit like a simplified Pokémon match where elemental strengths and weaknesses face off in the arena. Start by choosing which dragons to carry into battle. When combat begins, tap the paw icon to start a set of arrows moving along a vertical bar. This bar is colored with red, yellow, and green spaces. Tap the paw to stop the moving arrows, making it come to rest at green or yellow for the best attack. Depending on which dragon you're facing, your attack will deal a different amount of damage. The usual set of logical elemental rules are in place, meaning fire is effective against ice, and so on. With a dozen dragon types at your disposal and plenty of team combinations, fights in Dragon Mania end up being the highlight of the game.
Jumping into the freemium side of things, Dragon Mania tries to hit a good balance with in-app purchases versus good old fashioned patience, but it misses the mark in a few places. Coins are used to purchase new buildings, upgrade existing ones, buy dragon eggs, embark on battles, etc. Gems are mainly for speeding things up by eliminating wait times. The problem is these waiting periods feel a little too inflated and gem prices a little too high, forcing you to spend more money or wait longer than most freemium games. Watch out for the big purchases, too, or you'll end up spending a lot of cash.
Dragon Mania also trips a little bit over its own interface. The animations feel as if they're missing frames, and the presentation as a whole lacks a certain amount of punch. Navigating the menus can be difficult since touch boxes are tiny and your finger often covers things you need to see. Neither of these really detracts from the game, but they're of a noticeably lower quality and stand out like a dragon wearing a party hat.
Despite a couple of visual flaws and an in-app purchasing system that's heavy on the gems, Dragon Mania manages to ride high in the freemium combat genre. The active, Pokémon-like battle system is a very welcome change from the passive set-ups of old, and even though the simulation side of things has been trimmed back, raising and caring for dozens of different dragons is a great way to spend some coffee breaks.
Every Friday, in co-operation with Laohu.com, Gamezebo strives to bring you the latest and greatest news to come out of the Chinese gaming scene - and if this week is any indication, Chinese gamer's really like parkour. A lot.
If someone were to introduce China to Mirror's Edge, it's entirely possible that brains would begin to melt. At the very least, I hope Adam Saltsman is taking notice. Let's break Canabalt out of the vault for a trip overseas!
As always, if you dig any of these articles, we encourage you to visit Laohu.com for the whole story. These posts are just the Reader's Digest version of what they're tackling all week long.
On December 5, Tencent launched Everyday Racing (????), the fourth product of the Everyday series and the second parkour game released by the company. Despite both being parkour games, Everyday Racing and Everyday Parkour (????) won't be competing for gamers because they have different gameplay and a different intended audience says Ji Zefeng, vice general manager of the game's developer TiMi Studio. (Laohu.com)
On December 4, an employee revealed on Weibo that Fuzhou-based Netdragon had finished its first round of job cuts, to be followed by another round due late this month. Existing game projects are mostly aborted as the company switches to online learning. It is learned that most cuts happen in Netdragon's gaming business. (Laohu.com)
British PM David Cameron posted on Weibo various photos taken during his visit to Shanghai on December 4. Among them, a photo in which Cameron was visiting the Bund with a woman stirred curiosity. It was later confirmed that the woman was Lisa Pan, vice president at Rekoo, a domestic mobile game publisher. They talked about interactions between Chinese and British gaming industries. (Laohu.com)
It is rumoured that Hunan TV is developing the namesake mobile game of its entertainment hit "Dad, Where Are We Going?"(?????), expected to be launched by the year end. It will be a casual parkour game, according to source. (Laohu.com)
Burn the Rope 3D is a puzzle game created by Big Blue Bubble. Burn the Rope 3D challenges players to burn up puzzles built out of ropes and work around special instances, like ropes that will only burn when a specifically-colored flame is applied to them. Gamezebo's quick start strategy guide will provide you with detailed images, tips, information, and hints on how to burn everything to the ground.
Know the Ropes
Bugs, Bugs, Bugs
Conditions for Success
Charlie loves B-movies, and who can blame him? There's a level of camp and cheese that catapults poorly made cinema into the world of endearingly awful. So when our good ol' Charlie happens upon a drive-in boasting a classic B-movie marathon, he pulls in right away to partake in the terrible goodness. But all that flick-watchin' is serious business, and Charlie soon succumbs to sleep, whereupon he is whisked away into the very films he loves in the role of the hero. Armed with a trusty baseball bat, proximity traps, and any number of firearms, Charlie must make it through the benchmarks of less-than-mainstream film, lest he be Nightmare on Elm Street-ed (killed in his sleep) by the very cinematic villains and monsters he has come to love. Tragic.
There's a cartoony style to Clash of Puppets that blends with a mostly linear take on classic 3D platformers. Putting elements like mechanics and gameplay aside for the moment, it's important to note that this is a good-looking game, especially for its light-hearted, kid-friendly style. No, it isn't the most beautifully developed experience in the history of mobile gaming, but there are enough subtle touches, clever lighting, and immersive additions (why is fog so spooky, anyway?) that you'll probably take note. Charlie is pretty damned cute, and as far as heroes go, he's likable.
Really, he falls under the strong and silent type that developers seem to like so much, but there is a lot to be said for the star of the show being an everyman. Even if it isn't a major plot point and even if we are talking about a game where cute puppets beat up other cute puppets, there's something about an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances and rising to a challenge. On some level, no matter how small, we tend to see ourselves like this - to view the world of the character through our own eyes. Or maybe I'm just reading waaaay too much into it and it's little more than a silly distraction. Either way, the means to think this way is apparently something that can happen.
Whereas we've come to expect a certain level of control over the camera in our games, you'll be forced to make jumps and fight adversaries from a fixed perspective. Think of it like a 2.5D universe with ever-so-slightly more leeway in terms of area. That is to say, that though ancient yet beloved platformer design choices (the double jump, the suddenly snapping spike traps, etc.) find their way into every nook and cranny of Clash of Puppets, combat takes place in a more three-dimensional fashion. Adorable puppet versions of werewolves and Frankensteins pop out from every corner and you must dispatch them quickly or be overrun. This represents no small challenge as melee necessitates a close approach, but enemies feel cheap once they get their hooks into Charlie. It's not uncommon for a mere two foes to take you down with ease, which, while frustrating, does provide some serious challenge.
The same goes for spike traps that don't really seem to follow any sort of pattern beyond popping up the moment you try to avoid them. This could be chalked up to a lack of patience, but instead we will blame it on the less-than responsive and sometimes confusing virtual control scheme. To the developer's credit, they have steered clear of a static virtual joystick for Clash of Puppets, but the closeness of the melee and firearm buttons is such that you'll often hit one or the other when you don't wish to. Additionally, cool as they may be, guns play a diminished role to the powerhouse of melee combat. Certain weapons - like the electricity gun - do provide pretty cool passive effects such as chaining between enemies, but a well-timed jump and bash with the bat provides a more effective means of defeating your puppety enemies.
Levels begin to blur together once you realize that you're executing the same objective repeatedly. Smash a box here, find a gear there, rinse and repeat. The more enemies on the ... (Read More)
If you're a big RPG fan and own a smartphone or tablet, then there's probably a pretty good chance that you're more than familiar with the epic Ravensword: Shadowlands from Crescent Moon Games. But every mobile RPG-goer needs a break from gaming on the go to take a seat at their computer, right? Well now you'll get to have the best of both worlds, as Ravensword: Shadowlands is coming to Steam tomorrow, December 6, and players will be able to download it at a nice 10% discount off the regular $14.99 listing price.
Now in case you never took the time to adventure through the rich fantasy world of Ravensword and partake in all of its high-caliber RPG gameplay, these are just a few of the many features that you'll be able to find in this monster of a game: a vast 3D open world that's just begging to be explored; vicious creatures to battle including giant dinosaurs; the seamless switching between first- and third-person camera perspectives; and of course, all of the lockpicking, pick pocketing, and item looting you could ever hope to find!
So basically, Ravensword: Shadowlands is pretty awesome. And now that the game is coming to Steam tomorrow? Why that just makes it double awesome. In celebration of this exciting news, Crescent Moon Games has also just released a brand new game trailer, which you can view in all of its glory right above this paragraph there.
Warlords RTS is, as the title suggests, a real-time strategy game set in Aldfarne, a fantasy kingdom overrun by orcs, ogres, goblins, and other such Tolkien-esque riff-raff. Its simplified control scheme makes a tricky thing of complex maneuvers, but RTS fans are nonetheless likely to find it a pleasant way to scratch the strategy itch when they're away from home.
Warlords RTS is more than a little reminiscent of the classic Blizzard game Warcraft, back when it was known first and foremost as a real-time strategic conflict between orcs and humans. Unlike that game, however, and most others of its kind, in this one you'll personally lead your troops into battle with a "Warlord" avatar: a Ranger, a Wizard, a Warrior King, or a Huntress, each with unique skills, an RPG-style inventory of rings, amulets, armor and weapons, and the ability to wield powerful magic. As "you," the Warlords are the most powerful tool in your arsenal, but they're still far from invulnerable; fortunately, death is little more than a brief and temporary delay of four or five seconds until you're back on the field, and a ding against your final score.
The game looks and sounds great, and while the story driving it is a very thin, conventional high-fantasy tale of a good kingdom overrun by the forces of darkness, the two or three lines of narrative between levels is flowery enough to be legit without tipping into the overwrought. It's all very well-polished, and new units, spells, and control options are introduced slowly, giving players plenty of time to experiment with and grasp their use.
Your army will be made up of fantasy archetypes ranging from lowly swordsmen and archers to powerful mages and healers, represented by elves, dwarves, humans, and possibly even a hobbit. The number of units you can maintain at any one time is tightly restricted and can only be grown by conquering villages on the map, but even a "big" army isn't likely to number much more than 20 or so. Warlords RTS is a relatively small-scale game, a concession to the limits of touch interfaces on small screens; but the upside to that is that it's also fairly fast-paced, so you won't need to invest half your day to start and finish a battle.
Armies in the game are somewhat self-regulating, in that they automatically combine into single, larger forces when they come within close proximity of one another. There are options to divide them into two smaller army groups, or to select one specific unit type, which can itself be divided into two; they can be forced to move to specific spots on the map, even if they're in the middle of battle, directed to attack specific enemies or simply dispatched to an area and left to fend for themselves.
It's a reasonably flexible system, but it can still be a chore managing more than one group of units at a time. For one thing, just getting them apart can pose a challenge: You can divide your army in half and send one group off to a different area of the map, for instance, but if you select the other half before the first is far enough away (and the precise necessary distance is never indicated), you'll end up recombining them into a single large group and have to start over again. It may not sound like much of a problem, but a delay of 10 or 15 seconds in the heat of battle can be the difference between victory and defeat. There's also no overhead map, and while the map can be zoomed, you'll still need to drag it back and forth to keep tabs on things.
Because of this, simple strategies tend to be the best. I made it through a good chunk of the game using Soviet-style "human wave" attacks, building up the biggest mass of soldiers I could and then driving toward the objective. Of course, that eventually becomes unsustainable, and that's when things really start to get tough. The difficulty seems to ramp up rather suddenly and dramatically, and even though I'm not a particularly skilled RTS player I was still left with concerns about the ... (Read More)
Excited about this week's new releases? We are too. That's why -- like we do every Thursday -- we're taking to Twitch to show you the latest and greatest titles to hit the App Store via livestream.
This week we'll be taking a look at the cult board game classic Space Hulk, the latest AAA spinoff Assassin's Creed Pirates, Game Insight's bold new journey into armored warfare in Tank Domination, and Mountain Sheep's slicing extravaganza KingHunt.
Check out the fun below, and if you want to be part of our livestream discussion, just click the "read more" link below or visit us on Twitch at twitch.tv/gamezebo.
UPDATE: The live show is over, but you can enjoy the archive below at your convenience.
From the makers of the fantastic King Cashing: Slots Adventure and its 2013 sequel, King Cashing 2, comes a zombie-themed repackaging of the unique RPG and slot machine elements that made those games such a joy to have in your mobile casino. Because who doesn't love a good zombie or two when you're hitting up those slots?
Super Zombie Slots is essentially a reworking of sorts of King Cashing 2 - a free version of the same game with new extras like special weapons and animations. Now here are just a few of the awesome new features that you can expect to find when Super Zombie Slots hits the App Store next week: tons of different slot machines in several themed worlds, over 100 different symbols to populate those whirling machines, and more than 75 different prizes to earn for all of your efforts!
The King Cashing games happened to be some of our favorite ways to make-believe gamble on a mobile device, and so we're definitely looking forward to seeing how the new free-to-play model will factor in to all of that sweet slot-based RPG gameplay. Will you be looking to hit the jackpot once Super Zombie Slots starts spinning its reels all over the App Store on December 12?
Time Surfer has received a sparkling winter-themed update today just in time for the holidays, which adds a brand new time attack mode called "Holiday Hills" that has players trying to navigate the snowy hillsides as quickly as possible. Of course, the real challenge comes in trying to avoid all of the presents and gifts that are blocking your path (I guess Santa had a big old hole in his presents bag this year!).
In addition to the new Holiday Hills mode, the new Time Surfer update also brings with it brand new characters like a festive gremlin, Daft Penguin, the protagonist from Kumobius' latest game Duet, and even Santa Surfer himself! In addition, you'll also find new music, 24 GameCenter achievements, and three all-new pets: including the Space Reindeer, Santa's Elf Helper, and my personal favorite, an inanimate lump of coal known described as the "anti-present."
Tis the season to play some Time Surfer! The brand new free title update to one of our favorite endless runners from this year is now live for both iOS and Android versions of the game. Happy surfing - err - sledding!
It's been said that in space, no one can hear you tap on a touchscreen. Or at least something similar to that was once said. Anyway, it's relevant because Galaxy on Fire - Alliances will have you tapping plenty of times as you try to conquer as much of space as possible. With or without allies, it ends up looking and sounding a lot more fun than it actually is.
If the Galaxy on Fire name sounds familiar, there's a good reason for that. The previous games sporting that name were of the action-RPG variety, known for their customizable starships. Alliances is an entirely different beast: an MMO with resource management that is best played by teaming up with others, getting it a "truth in naming" award if nothing else.
The galaxy in question this time contains the Shroud Nebula, a previously inaccessible region where three different spacefaring races are vying for power. Each has its own unique racial advantages, and one looks a lot like regular Earth humans. You pick the one that suits your fancy, and then it's off to the tutorial.
Your home system contains several planets that allow you to get a feel for core concepts like building and upgrading structures and ships, sending cargo from one world to another, and using drones to unlock single-player missions. In one of the game's best ideas, those starter worlds are completely undetectable at all times. So unlike games of this ilk too numerous to mention, you can't be ganged up on and have all your resources stolen and structures destroyed.
While there are three resources that you'll have to keep tabs on (metal, gas, and crystals), the fact that there is only one currency, credits, is another great idea. You can earn credits by completing missions or buy them for real money, but this is a rare free-to-play game that doesn't feel the need to introduce two or more currencies. More games should do this. Credits can nab you several kinds of boosts or artifacts to buff your ships, but their most obvious use is to speed up construction timers.
And oh man, are there timers. On each planet, you can only have one structure-related task going on at a time (building or upgrading something), but the shipyard can be producing ships and the barracks can be cranking out troops at the same time, just to pick two examples. That wouldn't be so bad, except Alliances makes you hit a button to verify every completed task and collect your XP. Usually this requires multiple taps to get back through some of the menus, which means you should limber up your fingers before you play.
Combat is strictly a matter of simming battles based on what kinds of ships are sent in which quantities, so if you're expecting to find action in the prior Galaxy on Fire tradition, you're going to be disappointed. There's strategy involved thanks to the rock-paper-scissors interaction between fighters, interceptors, and bombers, and you can watch replays of the battles, but mostly you just send your fleets and wait for the reports to come back. It's hard for grand space battles to get more passive than that.
Once you feel comfortable leaving the confines of your home system, you'll find yourself in a tug-of-war for planets out in the rest of the nebula. Here's where joining an alliance pays off, as you can combine your efforts with other players and ensure yourself a little more safety - though the primary reason for doing so in other mobile MMOs is to make sure your home doesn't get wrecked, and that's not an issue here.
The tools to coordinate alliances seem fine, but the devs made a curious decision to limit alliances to a maximum of 50 members shortly after launch. Will a bunch of relatively small partnerships make for a more interesting game than what you see in other entries in this genre, where a few huge clans usually end up dominating a server at the expense of the small fry? It's tough to say.
What's easier to dislike right off the bat is the limit on the number of planets you can control, one that ... (Read More)
If you live for over-the-top crazypants Kill Bill-style violence, today's deal is one you'll want to tear into. Over at Gamezebo Deals, we've slashed the price on this one supercrazyninjastyle! And by that, we mean by 50%.
For $4.99, you can get a Steam code this critically-acclaimed game of top-down superviolence. And if not for you, Hotline Miami might make a great gift for a loved one (that you want to communicate the message "I am a serial killer and you should stay the hell away from me" to).
Just in case we haven't made it clear, this game is an 8-bit bloodbath. Despite the fun to be had, it's not going to be for everyone. So please, shop responsibly.
Anyone who's a fan of the board game Catan will tell you that playing it is often better with friends. Well the good news for you is that the developers behind the mobile iteration of Catan have heard your pleas loud and clear, and are just about ready to roll out the first update to the game with new multiplayer functionality. However, they also need your help to test out the new multiplayer components to make sure everything is working up to Catan standards before the full-fledged release.
Now there's even more good news: to help with this testing, the developers are giving everyone a chance to try Catan's new multiplayer on the Android version of the game before its final release! If you want in on the action, all you need to do is request to join the new Catan Google+ Community that the developers have set up right over here, and wait to be added by the team to the server test group within a week's time.
It should also be noted that the build you'll receive will be limited to the new multiplayer functionality only, which currently includes the options for quick and custom online matches. And of course, if you happen to partake in the testing event, don't forget to help the team out by providing them with feedback about your online Catan experience!
Pirates and tanks and medieval puppets, oh my! Yup, you read that right: there are certainly some big things gearing up to hit the App Store later on tonight, and my mobile devices are already itching to download them all.
For instance, we finally have the highly anticipated release of a game that lets you engage in 10-on-10 tank battles, not to mention a mobile-exclusive game from one of the biggest-selling console franchises in gaming history, as well as a beautiful arcade release that's looking to take the addictive "slicing" gameplay of Fruit Ninja and expand it for the next generation of mobile gamers.
So needless to say, you're going to have plenty of things to keep those iOS devices busy tonight. Which upcoming games are you the most excited about playing? For me personally, it's currently a 4-way tie between ALL OF THEM. Let us know your thoughts in the replies!
Assassin's Creed Pirates - Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed franchise has developed an incredible caliber over the years of being some of the best console games that money can buy, despite their now-yearly iterations. Well now tomorrow's Assassin's Creed Pirates looks to be the closest thing we'll have to the full AC experience in a nice and tidy mobile package, and we're positively going overboard just waiting to play it. Building off the highly intuitive naval battles showcased in the recently released Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, the follow-up Pirates will expand upon this concept even further, by letting you engage in some truly stunning ship battles along the rolling seas, as you build up your own crew and explore the uncharted waters around the Caribbean.
Tank Domination - Allow me to put this game into perspective for everyone reading right now: Game Insight's Tank Domination will be bringing 10-on-10 synchronous multiplayer tank battles right there on your tablet. That's the whole reason why we even buy tablets in the first place, right? But not only does the long-awaited Tank Domination boast such an impressive feat of gameplay, but it also has the impressive console-quality graphics to match! But the best news of all is that Game Insight seems to have jumped the gun a bit (or jumped the tank cannon) and released the game a little early today, so you'll actually be able to jump into the heat of the action right this very minute!
Clash of Puppets - Have you ever just taken one look at an upcoming video game and immediately thought to yourself, "Yup, they made this game specifically for me." Well that's the same exact kind of reaction I had when I first saw Clash of Puppets, which is on its way to us tonight from Crescent Moon Games. Billed as a full-fledged 3D hack 'n' slash platformer, Clash of Puppets takes place against a rich fantasy and medieval backdrop, with obstacle-ridden castle grounds, harrowing gauntlets and drawbridges, and even the occasional U.F.O. for good measure. They say that many inhabitants are simply servants or puppets to their king, but tonight I'm more than excited to play the role of puppet master.
KingHunt - As someone who was once among the millions of people to be completely enamored by the simple "slicing" gameplay of Halfbrick's Fruit Ninja, I can't tell you how excited I am to give KingHunt a try, which promises to be the definitive "Next Generation Slicing Game." And one look at this vibrant arcade game in action, and you'll quickly realize that no description could be more appropriate. Taking the basic tossing and slicing physics that were perfected by Fruit Ninja, KingHunt tosses an entire medieval kingdom into the mix, with hundreds of quirky enemies to fight, twelve beautiful and distinctive realms to slice through, and even a slew of magical trinkets to keep your fingers captivated throughout the entire thing!
As a Literature major for life, I've read more than my fair share of Franz Kafka throughout my college years, so the idea of a new video game that's actually based on the famous German author's classic body of work is really bringing out the book nerd in me. Mostly because now I can use terms like "Kafkaesque" while writing something for Gamezebo!
The Franz Kafka Videogame itself was first teased a good while back, but now a few more interesting tidbits of information about the literary adventure have begun to surface this week, along with a truly fascinating debut trailer. For starters, the overall plot of The Franz Kafka Videogame will be based on a number of Kafka's own writings, such as "The Castle," "Amerika," and the high school English class staple, "The Metamorphosis."
In the game, players will take control of a character named K, who sets off on a distant voyage after being offered a new means of employment. And naturally, that voyage will quickly spiral into an adventure filled with "absurdity," "surrealism," and "total uncertainty," as one would only expect from something that bears the Franz Kafka name.
And that's really all we have to tell you about The Franz Kafka Videogame right now, other than that it will be coming to iOS, Android, PC, and Mac platforms sometime in 2014, and that we really can't wait to play it. Don't forget to check out the debut game trailer that's embedded in this page up there, and feel free to start your very own Kafka literary circle down in the comments section!
Spil Games, the leading global company for all things online gaming, has announced a $5 million investment today to be put towards the creation of HTML5 games. All in all, that lump sum of $5 million will be delegated to developers creating brand new gaming experiences, as well as updating existing ones to fit the new HTML5 foundation. Spil Games also plans to put some of that money towards the marketing of their own games, which currently enjoy more than 180 million users each month.
In case you might be unfamiliar with the prospects of HTML5 as it continues to make its mark on the gaming industry and the world of technology at large, it is essentially a more fluid and flexible markup language for making content on the internet. But the biggest draw of the new coding language for game developers is that it can be utilized by a number of different platforms and mediums, such as mobile devices, which could potentially allow them to bring their games to a far larger number of platforms without sacrificing the additional time and resources needed to create an entirely new port.
Of course, as if often to be expected with any kind of new or emerging technology, HTML5 has experienced a fairly slow adoption from the majority of game developers so far; however, Spil Games feels this is all about to change, and that 2014 will truly be the year for HTML5-founded games to truly explode. And just in case you didn't believe them, Spil Games CEO Erik Goossens has already stated the company's plans to launch 500 brand new HTML5 games over the course of 2014 alone! HTML500 anyone?
As part of the official announcement, Dan Prigg, Senior Director of Games at Spil Games, has stated: "Mobile developers face increasing obstacles in developing native apps - it's expensive, app stores are crowded marketplaces, and they have to make multiple versions of their games for different devices. We believe HTML5 development can offer the best solution to most of these obstacles."
So what do you think? Is HTML5 really the future of browser-based gaming, and will it help to achieve a broader sense of cross-platform play between computers and mobile devices that we are beginning to see more and more of today? Be sure to share your thoughts down in the replies!
Are you afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? I sure hope not, because then you wouldn't have the chance to enjoy the latest gripping adventure series from Telltale Games! And as luck would have it, Telltale also just so happened to announce today that the recently released first episode of The Wolf Among Us titled "Faith" will be headed to iOS devices later on tonight.
In case you somehow might have missed the PC version, or haven't been up to date on your Gamezebo readings lately (tsk, tsk), The Wolf Among Us is Telltale's latest adventure game series, and based on Bill Willingham's whimsical comic book series Fables. In the game, players take control of detective Bigby Wolf, as they solve various crimes in a warped and gritty representation of classic fairytale characters in a downtrodden New York City.
The first episode of The Wolf Among Us should be popping up on the App Store sometime later tonight, and it can be yours for only $4.99. But if you feel like planning ahead and want to save big, then you'll also have the option to buy the full season multi-pack for $14.99, which grants you access to episodes 2 through 5 once they are respectively released.
GungHo Online Entertainment has announced today that their incredibly popular mobile hit Puzzle & Dragons is now available in six more European countries, so our friends overseas will finally have the chance to partake in the fantasy phenomenon after all of this time. The new countries added to the Puzzle & Dragons territory list include France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and Finland.
The game was first released in Japan on February 20, 2012, with subsequent territory launches in the United States, Canada, Korea, and most recently the United Kingdom on October 16. Now that more European countries have entered into the fold, this will only mean continued exposure to Puzzle & Dragons: after all, the game has already reached 21 million downloads and counting in Japan alone.
If you happen to live in one of those European countries that we listed above, then you can download Puzzle & Dragons completely for free by visiting the App Store right over here; and for gamers in North America who haven't had the chance to play the game yet, then you can check out the English version of the game by using this link.
For gamebook fans of a certain age, Gary Chalk is a name to conjure with. He got co-author credits for the illustrations in the early Lone Wolf books, probably the best loved of the many gamebook franchises that thronged bookshelves in the mid-eighties. Times have changed, and digital publishing is all the rage, but Gary's art has not diminished and he's here with a brand new outing, Gun Dogs.
This is the latest title in Tin Man Game's Gamebook Adventure series and it shares a lot of mechanical similarities with its predecessors. You'll read through a paragraph of text, often be presented with some choices at the end, and occasionally have to check one of your stats against a dice roll, or fight a monster.
Battles are decided by throwing a number of offensive and defensive dice and comparing the highest of each to see if a blow is landed. If so, the difference between the totals is the damage inflicted. I've never liked this system: it's functional but leads to a lot of indecisive rolls followed by colossal sums of damage. But as the Gamebook Adventure series has gone on, Tin Man has found a number of ways to improve the basic mechanics. Here, as the title suggests, you have a gun.
But this is a fantasy adventure, so it's a slow hand-loaded pistol. That's used to set up a number of tense and interesting choices in the book where you might - or might not - have had the chance to load your weapon before venturing into danger. Whether you actually hit with your gunpowder weapon or not is, like many other things in the story, decided by a dice-based stat test.
Indeed the sheer number of these is something of a hallmark that sets Gun Dogs aside from previous Gamebook Adventures that I've played. In addition to shot and reload rolls, you'll test your mental score often to see if you find hidden clues or items, and your physical attribute for more corporeal challenges. The book is constructed cleverly so that you'll never fail your quest if you fail a roll, but continual misses will make your journey an awful lot harder.
The author has gone to considerable pains to ensure that there's plenty to choose from and a variety of different paths to take through the book. This, along with Tin Man's usual intriguing set of achievements to tick off, means there's plenty of fun to be had taking repeated trips through the story.
However, although the book is well structured, the writing is often a little loose and pulpy. There's plenty of pace in it, and this being an adventure game in book form, I wasn't expecting Shakespeare. But Tin Man's previous outing, Curse of the Assassin, showed us that gamebooks can benefit from top quality writing, and this doesn't quite measure up.
It's a pretty grim affair in which your character is fitted with a magical collar capable of strangling him if he disobeys orders, and gets sent off on a suicide mission. It's a concept that's been visited before, if not so much in the fantasy genre. The world that the book conjures forth is also a little lacking in imagination, being peopled largely with well-worn fantasy stereotypes. But there's usually enough cheek and life in the plot to make them feel more like old friends than tired shadows.
Fortunately, what the book lacks in terms of quality writing, it makes up for in terms of quality art. Gary Chalk's style is instantly recognizable, and very well suited to this sort of renaissance-era fantasy fare. With time, his work has gained a new level of subtlety and detail and the pictures are such a delight that I found myself going through the book several times just to try and find all the illustrations.
Whatever shortcomings Gun Dogs has in terms of mechanics and literary style, it has a bouncy, thrilling feel to it that keeps you turning pages and rolling dice. Rather than wading through pages of exposition, the action is punchy and immediate; and while it may not win any scholarly awards, it's still a ton of fun.
November has always traditionally been one of the greatest months to be a gamer: after all, that's usually when all of the big-name developers decide to release their most highly-anticipated projects of the year, just in time for the holidays. But now it looks like the same could also be said for the mobile games industry as well, as this past November gave us so many amazing new releases that we had an unbelievably difficult time trying to narrow them all down for this list!
So here's a quick rundown of the incredible new gaming experiences that kept us busy all throughout November: an exhilarating platform-runner that took us through all sorts of hot and cold places where the ground is made of food; a strategic look at the afterlife for shoguns, where things are actually a bit more crowded than one might initially believe; and of course, a monstrous adventure across the colorful seas that could even give The Legend of Zelda a run for its money.
For a more detailed account of all the games we thought were among November's best this year, just keep on scrolling down this page. And don't forget to let us know what you think of our picks in the replies below, or if you have some other great November games in mind that you think should have been included. I guess the only thing left to say now is this: Bring it on, December!
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas
As if there was any doubt that the mobile epic Oceanhorn from Cornfox & Brothers would be scoring Gamezebo's top accolades this month! Simply put, Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas exemplifies what kinds of things can be accomplished on the mobile platform today, with a beautiful and engrossing campaign, a remarkable sense of exploration, side quests, and boss battles, and a game length that would make like-minded console adventures shiver in their Trencher Boots. Our own Jillian Werner called Oceanhorn "the Zelda-like to end all Zelda-likes" in her official review, and I think it would be difficult to describe this game any better.
But even while Oceanhorn borrows heavily from its main inspirations in the Zelda series, the final product proves to be something that is entirely of its own making. In the game, players will take control of a young hero whose father had set off years ago to slay the monstrous Oceanhorn, only to never be heard from again. Now it's up to you to follow in his footsteps, with a little sailing, puzzle solving, and treasure chest hunting thrown in along the way. Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas has not only completely raised the bar for original mobile games in 2013 and beyond, but it's currently one of the best gaming experiences you can find anywhere today, period.
Rayman Fiesta Run
Rayman Fiesta Run pretty much takes everything that made 2012's Rayman Jungle Run such a blast to play and magnifies it by tenfold: with even better visuals, a highly refined map and interface system, and a brisk level of challenge that will keep both hardcore players and die-hard Rayman fans continuously coming back for more. This time around, all of the levels in Rayman's latest mobile outing are based around hot and cold environments, as you guide Rayman and Globox over fiery infernos and chilly waters. There's also a recurrent food theme in Rayman Fiesta Run as well, so don't be surprised to find yourself running on cheese or swinging from a rope made of chili peppers. As someone who's always loved those old-school platform adventures, Rayman Fiesta Run is everything I could ever ask for from a mobile platform-runner experience, and it goes to show that Rayman may not have arms, but he still has a pretty big leg up on the competition.
Steve Jackson's Sorcery! Part 2
Much like the initial first installment in Steve Jackson's Sorcery! epic, this month's Part 2 marks a welcomed return to the pitch-perfect manner of visual storytelling that we all know and love, complete with new avatars, an upgraded ... (Read More)
Galaxy on Fire - Alliances is an empire-building space sim created by FISHLABS. It's a major departure from the rest of the series, with less action and a lot more maintenance, which means that it can be pretty daunting when you start it up for the first time. Gamezebo's quick start strategy guide will provide you with detailed images, tips, information, and hints on how to play your best game.
Do you guys like new screenshots? Who am I kidding, of course you do! Well today we just so happen to have a fresh batch of them from Gameloft's upcoming World War II shooter, Brothers in Arms 3, and let me tell you something right now: they look unbelievably realistic and sharp, especially for a mobile game at that!
Set within a variety of indoor and outdoor environments against a WWII backdrop, Brothers in Arms 3 will feature slick tactical shooting gameplay with a big emphasis on changing weather conditions. From desolate streets and burning palace interiors, to a once-idyllic forest that's now crawling with tanks and bunkers, the new screenshots seem to perfectly capture that uneasy balance between the beauty of nature and the horrors of war.
First announced over the summer, Gameloft's Brothers in Arms 3 is currently slated for a release sometime in early 2014, but you can take a gander at the brand new screenshots right now by scrolling down on this page.
Clumsy Ninja is a simulation game created by NaturalMotion Games. You raise your very own ninja into a seasoned warrior by playing with him, training with him, and simply interacting with him as much as possible. Gamezebo's quick start strategy guide will provide you with detailed images, tips, information, and hints on how to breed your very best ninja.
How to Train Your Ninja
It's rather amazing--astounding, even--that it has taken this long after the success of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy for Hollywood to do a sequel. As it turns out, this has two notable benefits. One is that, following a realistic passage of time for the actors involved in the 2004 film, they now get to set the new movie in the mid-eighties. The other is that, had they made the sequel back around 2005 or so, we might not have gotten a mobile video game based on it.
Of course, as it turns out, that may not have been such a bad thing. Don't get us wrong; Anchorman 2: Scotchy Scotch Toss is a perfectly decent game, and it definitely has more to offer if you--like us-- are a fan of Anchorman and its star, Ron Burgundy (whose voice is actually provided here by Will Ferrell himself, so you know it's authentic). But the simple fact of the matter is that there just isn't a lot to it, and you're likely to run the gamut of nearly everything there is to see or do here in about 10 or 20 minutes. Okay, maybe not all 300 of Ron's lines; given how some are repeated, that could indeed take a while.
The gameplay is very simple: Ron Burgundy has a glass of scotch, and he wants ice in it. That's where you come in, by touching the screen and flicking the ice towards the glass. Get it in, score points; simple as that. There is a slight challenge factor in the strange indoor wind, for which you'll need to compensate, but without any real goals beyond icing Ron up, all it really affects is how long it takes you to rack up more and more points.
There are four different environments (taken from the upcoming film), and those make things a little more interesting. In particular, there are different things you can hit with the ice cubes, such as a jazz player (messing up his rhythm temporarily), scorpion tanks, mounted sharks, or just landing one for Ron's dog Baxter to catch. Some of these even net you more extra points!
Once you've gone through the four levels and hit everything, though, the game begins to lose its appeal. Ron's lines are amusing, but even his voiced approval/disapproval can't keep you going for too long. As noted, the wind adds a little extra challenge, though compensating feels a bit off. More specific goals might have been nice, or if the glass moved around a little more from the center of the screen.
The online multiplayer is supposed to be more goal-oriented, as you challenge a friend (who must also purchase the game) in a bid to get the most ice into Ron's glass throughout three rounds. Unfortunately, as of this writing, we could not get the game to connect online, so we can only speculate as to how much this might improve the experience.
Anchorman 2: Scotchy Scotch Toss is a game that doesn't quite reach for the stars, and fittingly enough, doesn't really grab them. It's maybe a little better than serviceable, thanks to the involvement of Will Ferrell to provide his character's lines (it would have been cool if they used actual images of him, rather than a caricature), but not much better than that.
Still, it's helped spark our interest in seeing the movie, and since that's often the goal of these types of games... mission accomplished?
Calling all strategy enthusiasts with an Android device: boy do we have an early Christmas present for you! Today we've learned that Witching Hour Studios' popular turn-based strategy war game Ravenmark: Mercenaries is now available on Android for the very first time. The latest Ravenmark game scored impressively high marks from us here at Gamezebo when it first came out on iOS this summer, and so there's really no reason why Android owners shouldn't check this one out!
In Ravenmark: Mercenaries, players are able to build their very own mercenary army and wage wars against other players online across the game's desolate landscape. Perfecting the engrossing turn-based battle system that we saw in the first Ravenmark game, Mercenaries progresses the story events an additional six years, as inhabitants are struggling under the reign of a vengeful new ruler named the Scarlet Empress.
And best of all, the game is absolutely free to download and try out! You can pick up Ravenmark: Mercenaries for your Android device right now by heading over here to the Google Play Marketplace.
There have been a few attempts at creating Doctor Who games that didn't feel like glorified cash grabs, but mobile games have never been at the top of the list. Doctor Who: Legacy is a free-to-play effort that, while mired in the trappings of a match-3 gem puzzler, does a decent job of incorporating the lore and attitude of the popular sci-fi series.
Rather than simply matching gems to earn a certain score, the game plays out in a "versus" manner, where you, the Doctor, and several companions face off against enemies that range from Weeping Angels to Cybermen; two popular villains from the show itself.
Various types of gem matches are your only defense against the oncoming threats, and the Doctor (as well as each companion) has a special ability they can unleash against enemies. Some heal, some deal devastating damage, and others have other support techniques that are helpful in battle. Part of the fun lies in assembling a team that can play off of each other well, so as you progress and collect new team members, it's interesting to test out abilities as well.
You have five seconds to move your gem around when it's your turn, and rather than moving in a straight line or directly below, beneath, or beside other gems, you can pick one up and slide it all around the board, making it even easier to match. Of course, it can become a little difficult to cause damage to the other side when the game decides to slot a gem other than where you aimed. This can be extremely frustrating, especially if you've got a juicy set of three gems where you could potentially make a four or five gem match. Touch controls are a bit slippery, so you have to be extremely prudent when moving around the board.
The game is divided into episodes, where you face off against several of the Doctor's familiar enemies, and many have the chance to "drop" additional elements that can be used to upgrade characters, or may even introduce new characters themselves, like Rory, the Tenth Doctor, and more. This adds a nice layer of replayability, as everyone wants to collect all the different allies, and ensures players must invest quite a bit of time in the game if they want to pick up their favorite faces and companions from the series.
Of course, if you're in a hurry you can use the cash shop to purchase additional character packs, upgrades, and more, but smart players can simply grind for the things that they need. It's possible to get what you want without ever setting foot in the store, but if you've got a few extra bucks you don't mind throwing out to get Amy or River Song (or one of the Doctor's incarnations) it's worth it, even if just for ally powers.
Doctor Who: Legacy was a pleasant surprise. It implements characters, locales, and plot points into a competent puzzle match game that should please Whovians and casual gamers alike. Its weak narrative won't be winning any awards any time soon, and the gameplay may be the same that we've seen in countless Puzzle& Dragons clones before, but it's a free, well-made Doctor Who game that you can take with you anywhere. That's one huge step in the right direction, wouldn't you say?
While it might not be the sort of game we'd cover often at Gamezebo, there's no denying it: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is on track to top a lot of 'Games of the Year' lists. And if you're reading this, it's entirely possible that you've been thinking about picking it up but haven't quite committed to the purchase yet.
At 50% off, today is the time to commit.
Amazon is offering Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag for only $29.99 today on multiple platforms. Most Gamezebo readers will likely gravitate towards the PC digital download with Steam code, but if you'd rather snag it on Xbox 360 or PS3, the deal is good there too.
If you want to start your action-packed pirate adventure, you'll want to act fast - this deal is for today only!
Inspiration is just as likely to come from unlikely sources as it is from the most obvious places. In the case of Touch & Learn, a British studio devoted to creating educational games and apps, it relies on a little of both.
The surprising part of the equation starts with the Touch & Learn's founder and CEO, James Lewis. With experience as a Hollywood art director responsible for the look of work as wide-ranging as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Band of Brothers, he's not the first person who'd come to mind as a creator of kids' apps.
Yet his motivation is both simple and easy to understand: he's got kids of his own, and he watched how easily they were enthralled by mobile devices.
"I'm a bit of a tech geek, and I got the original iPhone," Lewis said to Gamezebo. "Once I got over the fact that I didn't want to damage it and it wasn't so precious, I let my daughter, who was 18 months old at the time, just interact with it. It blew me away how intuitive the phone was. And then we got the first iPad and it was the same thing.
"I work in all aspects of design. I've done film, interior design, exhibition design, so I never like to pigeonhole myself. So we started mulling about for ideas as to how we can turn this into a business venture."
The answer came after consulting with his wife, a teaching professional by trade, and pondering his own frustration with what he saw as a dearth of high quality games and apps with an educational bent. That led to the birth of Touch & Learn, which has cranked out nine titles for iOS and Android over its first three years of existence.
But Lewis has bigger plans for the company's most recent release, Fun Town. Not only does he intend for it to try erasing the distinction drawn between games and educational apps, he also sees it as the start of its own brand.
It certainly approaches the idea of teaching through play in a much different manner than Touch & Learn's earliest efforts, which were much more conventional learning apps that focused on letters and phonics. Fun Town encourages children to interact with it as they see fit, learning concepts like matching and number sequences as an offshoot of what they're doing instead of being led through them.
"I just wanted something to be a little more whimsical, just fun for the kids," Lewis said. "You want them to return to an app, and it's just really interesting seeing which ones they do return to and which ones they don't. They get bored very, very quickly, and it was just creating something engaging for a child, that was stimulating in terms of an experience, that had an interesting art style."
At the same time, Lewis recognizes the importance of having Touch & Learn's products appeal to the people who matter most in terms of what shows up on family smartphones or tablets: the parents. He touts the philosophy of his company's avoidance of the freemium model, saying it contributes to parents' assurance that their kids are playing in as safe an environment as possible.
"If it's free, I don't even look for it to say it's going to have in-app purchases, I kind of know it's going to have them," Lewis said. "It just struck us as a massive no-no to get anywhere near them. Ethically, I don't think kids should be making purchasing decisions within games. I also just think parents are quite upset about it. I'm a real believer in one-purchase products that a child can then play completely safely."
He's also cognizant of the "games as a service" approach that today's apps need to have, whether paid or unpaid. Lewis says updates to Fun Town are already in the works, particularly in the form of more interactive elements on the street that makes up the game's main portal into its various mini-games and activities.
Lewis' motivations include his desire for Fun Town to evolve beyond a single app into something bigger, as well as the idea that customers simply deserve some value for their money. It's ... (Read More)
For the last fifteen years I've sported a military-grade buzz cut, but not today. Today I am resplendent in an enormous shock of pink curls. Yesterday, it was long and green. Tomorrow, I think I might try an orange Mohawk.
This is not because I've suddenly become a wig fanatic, but all thanks to the latest app from Toca Boca, Toca Hair Salon Me. As its name suggests, it allows you to put your own face into a digital avatar and then style and colour their hair to your heart's content. You can even add accessories like hats and glasses, change the color of their clothes, and pose them for a photo.
Like everything the developer does, it's all perfectly intuitive. Start by browsing the pictures on your device, or taking another in-app so you don't have to pop out and boot the camera. Then fit your chosen image into one of four face shapes and sizes, adjust the apps' estimation of where the mouth and eyes are, and style away.
The technology behind this is seriously impressive. So long as your photo is a pretty tight fit for the chosen head and you get the eyes and mouth right, it brings your avatar to life with uncanny accuracy. The first time I saw myself in the chair, closing my eyes against the hairspray, twisting away from the dryer and emitting little 'ooh' and 'aah' noises of appreciation, it actually creeped me out so much I had to put the iPad down and walk away.
But I soon came back, and the weirdness faded to be replaced with glee as I photographed myself over and over again pulling stupid faces and marvelling as my expressions of vacant idiocy were animated, styled, and frozen in posterity for all to see.
And of course, my kids did the same a thousand fold. They took photos of themselves, each other, their parents, random bits of furniture, and giggled uproariously as they washed their hair and provided them with elaborate rainbow coiffures. They even put a moustache on their Mum.
The styling tools at your disposal are largely the same as those in Toca Hair Salon 2. You can miraculously grow hair, cut and shave it, wash and dry it, color it, curl and straighten it. It doesn't sound like a huge set of options, but you can use them all to micromanage areas of hair on the same head, allowing the creation of some outrageous styles.
Given that the use of photorealistic customers of your choice is a pretty big addition, I wasn't remotely disappointed that Toca Hair Salon Me failed to add any new options over its predecessor. I was surprised, however, that the palette of accessories you can pin on them got reduced. There are still rosettes and fake noses galore to play with; I just can't really see why the developers chose to include less this time round.
On the flip side, you don't, of course, have to stick to photos of your family, or even of people. You can flip up some almost monstrous creations by using random images or photos of objects. And as for pets, well, the app made me wish heartily that I had one. After I write this I'm going to camp in the garden with the iPad and wait for one of the neighbourhood cats to stroll by.
My family and I have never not had fun with a Toca Boca app, but this is the first one that feels truly magical and transformative, that made me stop and admire the art and the science that had gone into creating it. It's astonishing fun: I actually find myself wishing it had upped the ante on the Salon tool set so I could give it a perfect score with a clear conscience.
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