Friday, 31 January 2014

Announcing Crashlands [News]

Not only is Sam Coster totally kicking cancer's butt like a champ but, as the art-half of how I fondly refer to them; 'The ButterScotch Bros', together with brother Seth 'Codes like Superman' Coster, he's polishing up (when they're not playing it of course) their next major title.
    Crashlands, is to be released on Android come June [iOS later] and it's coming across gargantuan!

Blending "survival, crafting, creature management, strategic combat and player expression into an endless world" the 'bros' also seem to have every gamer's back, whichever genre/s you enjoy playing.

Be sure to check out the schedule, might I also suggest some exploring? Then bookmark their blog for updates.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Nyu Media announces Gigantic Army for PC [NEWS]

Developed by Astro Port this self proclaimed "heartfelt tribute to 16-bit era mech-shooters" will release on Wednesday the 5th of February for Windows PC at only [$5.99]

Gigantic Army is a 2D arcade-style side-scrolling title featuring six stages of intense action and twelve gargantuan mid also end level bosses to take down.

During a 21st Century war against an alien race intent on preventing humanity's advance into space, it's down to you to pilot 'GMR-334 SALADIN' -a manned combat robot ,and take on the Ramulon army, ultimately ending the conflict. 

The game has been rebalanced and updated from the original version with difficulties ranging from 'Easy' to 'Insane', catering for all skill levels.

Having recently played the demo I can confirm loadouts are customizable, controls give your mech satisfying manoeuvrability also defensive options which feel great after you have become accustomed to them. Dashing, using your thruster too almost feels second nature and bringing up your shield is a pretty cool ability I've not come across for sometime.
    Game play is frenetic, dodging and attacking from afar or using your melee weapon taking the battle up close and personal. There are power-ups to collect and progressively hostile new enemies keep the gameplay fresh.
    Frame-rate is smooth, while the visuals are two-dimensional, a procedurally generated animated background of other face-offs occurring echo the reality of the collision you are amid. All this grouped with the pleasingly apt sound effects and upbeat soundtrack add to the rush.
    The user interface's both easy to navigate and comprehend and story told via memos between stages.
An option for saving your replay is also available though it would be nice if you could share them, somehow?

Nyu Media are fantastic for bringing decent Japanese Indie game debuts to the West and I'm thinking this is a another great choice to add to your collection.
    You can visit the official website to view the teaser trailer, download a demo and give Gigantic Army its Greenlight on Steam, which version will add 43 achievements, trading cards plus more.
    A Linux version is also in the works.

Screenshots of actual gameplay footage:

 Update: Gigantic Army [£4.79] has been given the green light! Now available for Windows and Linux.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A mini guide to Indigo Lake [iOS]

After recently finishing my first play through of Three Cubes' very clever and jump scare ridden psychological horror game I thought I'd put together a mini guide.

Most, if not all of these hints also spoilers can be found at the developers' blog or on Indigo Lakes' thread in toucharcades' forums and have been gathered then edited here only for your convenience.

While it is recommended you explore and attempt to work out puzzles for yourself, I appreciate how frustratingly tiresome becoming stuck can be, potentially perhaps ironically spoiling even ending the experience. That said, please use these references as a last resort scrolling down only so far as needed to progress.

Attention!: Spoilers ahead, please scroll slowly.

Tips: Save often; First, soon as you reach the island then at regular intervals. Do this by simply rotating your device into portrait mode and clicking on the icon. Be sure to disable rotation lock before launch.
    Getting from A to B; Drive also park safely, at least before becoming familiar with your surroundings. Driving or parking hastily could send the car over, even rolling down cliffs while your back is turned.
    View objectives; Forget what you were doing? Rotate the device anti-clockwise to view your last objective.

Notes; All can be found in houses except one, next to the shore on a tree.

Camp Andrews'; Puzzle with rotating wall panels? If you shoot one it turns around. I solved this after noticing a layout of some other objects in the vicinity.

The dark room?; There is one photo here which matches a photograph close to Doctor Everett nearby -tap that!

Indigo Lake 3D?; "Oh my gosh, it looks like she is coming out of the screen?" ...Click that key!

Underground plot; Lightning blocking the dig-site door? 'Kill' Doc Everett to gain entry; I found it easiest on four wheels! 

Crystal clear; After retrieval, click high on that laser beam back at camp.

Ancient artefacts; Laser beams show locations of all Indian objects they also happen to be in (or around) houses, except one which is on the ground where it points. After you have gathered them go underground once more and tap on that box, in-turn placing them inside. 

Rock and roll; After replacing all Indian objects, find and shoot three large floating rocks making them spin. One is close to those 12 [lettered] pillars, another on the road above plot 4, finally below house 6. 

Electrical storm; A stone shrine is your next stop ,and key to getting at the lakeside water tower.

"She's back!"; You may want to disarm her first?

The Dead Rising Collection [NEWS]

Capcom confirmed earlier via Twitter: The Dead Rising Collection is heading to Europe, March 7th!

    On the disc/s will be Dead Risings' first two games; Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2, plus Off the Record, Case West also Case Zero, the latter few of which I guess have only previously been available to purchase as DLC?

As with Keiji Inafune's first instalment the collection seems to be an Xbox 360 exclusive with no sign of PS3 or PC ports appearing ,and though all web stores I've visited need to update the release date, every one appears to agree on a retail price; £24.99

    Available to pre-order from all good stockists, now is a great time for buying these titles if you have yet to play either or any of the content.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Flappy Bird [iOS]

Love or hate it Flappy Bird appeared then became a thing, recently topping the free category on American and Chinese iTunes App Stores.

A simple one-touch control system game with familiar visuals, potentially grating sound effects and questionable advertisements -what made this so popular?

Maybe it's because some people relish a challenge? Or could it be Flappy Bird has the "One more go." factor?
    For conspiracy theorists reading, a marketing ploy? Apple and China's bid to sell the recently launched iPhone?
    Of course mere curiosity might boost downloads, but who knows?
    Developers and publishers of mobile HTML5 games, Dong Nguyen and dotGears Studios' title has yet to make a dent in many other countries on iOS -including the UK with no sign of it on the horizon.

This free universal app with no in-app purchases was originally released back in May 2013, then updated for iOS7 September of last year. It is compatible with all devices running iOS6.O or later and optimised for iPhone 5.

So what's the premise? Well, simply put, you are a bird and must navigate between fluctuating,  seemingly randomly generated pipes.

'Tap to fly!'; Flappy Bird's flight mechanics strangely give a sense of realism and use rather clever responsive controls.
    Tapping your screen makes our protagonist flap it's wings, let go and the bird will fall.
    Sadly same said appraisal can not be given for collision detection, flying too close unexpectedly causes a crash. Though coupled they quite possibly make playing *'flapflap'* what it is -frustratingly addictive, albeit in short bursts.

The goal of this endless 'flyer' is a high score, ultimately beating everybody else's then again your own.
    The player scores one point for every pipe successfully passed and medals are awarded after reaching mystery milestones. Having been given my first when scoring eleven, I am guessing it was probably attained at ten though I've yet to reach 20 which would confirm a pattern.

Unfortunately even today Game Center is still clearly, even evidently hackable leaving the only real feeling of achievement that of beating your friends and own score, those which can be *shared via twitter*.

Now the question begs, "Have you gotten in a flap yet?"

Monday, 20 January 2014

Could Titanfall be the new Call of Duty?

"Set in the near future on a distant frontier torn apart by war, Titanfall drops players in the middle of a conflict between the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) and the Militia. The action is rapid and varied – featuring parkour-style wall running, massive double jumps and the ability to hijack titans. The freedom to shift back and forth between pilot and titan allows players to change tactics on the fly, attacking or escaping depending on the situation and extending the action vertically to new heights." -

To land March 14th on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC, could Titanfall be the new Call of Duty?

A big ask maybe, exclusivity from the PS3 also Playstation 4 might cause hindrance, there are millions of passionate fans to win over but Indie developers Respawn Entertainment have already won awards and critical acclaim pre-release with their debut title.

Part of the team are former Call of Duty staff; both very capable and know what we like, that which conveys through revealed multiplayer focus. Trailers -most importantly featuring gameplay have been impressive so far then shallow, perhaps materialistic may it sound but their limited edition wireless controller is stunning though unfortunately not compatible with Xbox 360.

In all seriousness Titanfall does appear to contain the values and promises of a popular online first-person shooter combining familiar with new elements thereafter, certainly emitting potential best-selling franchise vibes then some.

Of course, we shall see if it evolves and whether the game suffers similar problems to those akin, but for now I'm excited!

Visit the official website for more, also join the conversation via Twitter and/or Facebook 

Have you pre-ordered? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Umoove Experience [News]

Umoove Experience: The 3D Face & Eye Tracking Flying Game by Umoove Ltd is a [Free] app I downloaded out of curiosity expecting gimmicks, but found something very clever.

Supporting iPhone 4S/iPad 2 and above, this is perhaps the iTunes App Stores' most ground-breaking application to release since Epic Citadel.
    While Citadel presented Unreal Engines' graphical capabilities on then current gen Apple devices, [shortly thereafter award-winning best-selling Infinity Blades' setting] Umoove show what can be done with control schemes.

Scanning your face and eyes their tracking software enables you to control a character's movements via simple gestures. Gently tilting your head up, down, left or right will move them in the desired direction.
Exploring, here then you can fly around and above a small village collecting potion bottles to sustain your flying.

While this is nothing new in regards to the likes of Microsofts' Kinect, Sonys' PSmove and Nintendos' Wii to my knowledge -it's a first on Apple mobile devices. Of course Samsungs' attempt proved prone to glitches, possibly contrivance, whereas this feels admittedly alien at first but then fun, all the while remaining responsive more importantly consistent.
Certainly promising exciting possibilities then implementations for future iOS applications and games. Imagine controlling your free fall or scuba dive using simple head gestures? Don't even get me started on the fact we could all become virtual superheroes!

Developers can apply for the SDK, there are links to more Umoove apps (Coming Soon) and their YouTube channel where you can view a trailer. Twitter, also Facebook sharing is available too.

This experience receives an obvious, yet subtle nod of the head from me.
"Take control, amaze -get animated!"

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Sleeping Dogs [XBOX 360] Review

Warning: This article contains spoilers, reader discretion is advised.

Developed in partnership by United Front Games and Square Enix London Studios then Square Enix published, Sleeping Dogs was one of those games I got excited about upon viewing it's trailer but subsequently distracted never actually getting around to playing at the time of release before forgetting all about it... until recently.

Dialogue of this 2012 title is in English and Cantonese, while the bilingual authenticity's welcomed I totally recommend enabling subtitles when tweaking your settings prior to starting a new game.
    Beginning with a short opening cinematic during some drug deal gone busted, leading to the first bit of gameplay; Parkour/Freerunning, H.K.P.D. soon have you (Wei Shen) surrounded after valiantly attempting outrunning them.

Production quality is apparent immediately, while mini tutorials quickly help you become accustomed with controls.
    Next, another couple of scenes introduce the story. First, following your initial shenanigans you find yourself inside a prison holding cell bumping into childhood friend Jackie Ma. There's past and present talk, before offering your help with any 'work' 'they' might have going on after discovering he's affiliated with the Water Street Gang, Jackie says he'll put in a good word for you with leader, Winston Chu.
    Later, within one of the jail's interview rooms your identity's revealed, an undercover cop working for San Francisco's Police Department in conjunction with Hong Kong P.D. ,and so one adventure unfolds amid their attempt to infiltrate and ultimately take down local Triads.
       Influenced by those you meet, haunted by history after your 18 year absence from 'home', a painful, difficult and extremely dangerous journey lays ahead.

Meeting up with Ma (Jackie) following the aforementioned he takes Shen to see Winston, who gives him his first 'jobs'; extorting night market vendors for protection payments and beating up some troublesome thugs. Familiarising us with Sleeping Dogs' combat system while also giving a preview of this living breathing island we are encouraged to explore.

Combat system controls felt responsive, fluid and great fun early on, but that soon changed when oddly they seemed sluggish, even sticky rather abruptly. However, this was found to be temporary with them eventually returning to their former glory. Whether it's just the learning curve, difficulty level ramping, or a change of character clothing ( -I did wonder briefly) who knows?

From here on out you do jobs for the Water Street Gang, thereafter other members of Sun On Yee hierarchy, all while working cases, gaining trust, taking out enemies, cleaning up these world city streets. Completing tasks awards Triad also Cop scores respectively, in-turn gaining experience to level up. Levelling both, rewards points unlocking new abilities or moves, many can be practised, others taught. XP usually accumulated through winning races and fulfilling favours levels up your 'Face', this automatically gifts Shen new unlockable skills sometimes ability enhancing items for his wardrobe. Much of this pays HKD as well, giving in-game currency for food, drinks, clothes, accessories, vehicles, even safe house furnishings.
    Simply clicking the left thumbstick cycles through all currently available missions, highlighting route markers on the mini-map which I thought was neat implementation.

Health's boosted afterwards levelled using shrines and by consuming food also drink bought from vendors or vending machines.
    The game saves periodically, manual saving is an option, you can too replay missions/start from last checkpoint -features you will likely find yourself utilizing quite often.

When working Wei will bust drug deals and plant bugs, in addition to deploying his expertise at hacking, armed/unarmed combat, Parkour or Freerunning also driving, occasionally going on dates too.

While roaming free Wei Shen can travel on foot, four wheels and two, or catch a taxi. Unfortunately there is no airport less aircraft to be seen but there are trams -you may also circumnavigate via boat.

Finally, are random events, collectables and secrets to find scattered throughout the environment, a social hub where players compete for records such as; 'Longest wheelie on a motorcycle', then there's 59 achievements.

Mostly the story is captivating and well written, though there are a few scenes where I felt either corners were cut or certain situations used to bulk -leaving them feeling somewhat pointless. That said, despite it being fictional, much research had obviously been done conveying through noticeable adaptions together with inspirations of real life.

Sleeping Dogs' dark Chinese underground theme is lightened with humour, be it killing classics on Karaoke or other events occurring such as; certain street vendors who shout and ask,

"Why don't you have a pork bun in your hand?"

This provides balance, yin to the yang.

Beautifully crafted, from citizens to settings, even weather. With incredible attention to detail, like rain drenched clothes or a bloodied body make for one visually stunning title. Animations are smooth, the occasional camera spasm and stuttering frame rate can be forgiven, given they raised no more than laughter.
    Effects sound satisfyingly apt especially during combat also driving, I did wonder where that barking was coming from though? Dogs were never seen, nor sourced!
The soundtrack is varied, vast with multiple radio stations, sing-a-longs and moment echoing music.

Playing much akin to other open world action-adventure games similarities sit nicely alongside it's own assets.
    Earlier I mentioned the Parkour/Freerunning which while perhaps not so unique is extremely well done. There's adrenalin pumping action hijacking that I've personally seldom come across before. Car chases and escapes are exciting though on the contrary you also actually get rewarded for driving safely.
    Unavailable for purchase, still in many missions, weapons can be stolen or found, yet this game focuses more on self defence and unarmed combat then excels in doing so. Martial Art, fight clubs too are situated around the vicinity -you must try Karaoke. Also, while a flutter on the cock fighting is less appealing, even cruel, it's here -not to mention one addictive game of chance, Poker Mahjong.

Having recently finished the story (after approximately 17 hours) I am still completing cases and missed content, aiming for one hundred percent completion before even thinking about starting a new game. After which, there is downloadable content to check out.

Also available on PC, PS3 and OnLive, United Front together with 'Squeenix' have lovingly, cleverly crafted a familiar yet distinctive title containing an exclusive storyline well worth experiencing at least once.
    Be sure to also visit the official website and forums for a wealth of interesting, useful information along with the latest updates.

Story: 85%
Presentation: 90%
Gameplay: 90%
Longevity: 95%
Innovation: 90%

Fantastic!: 90%

"These Sleeping Dogs you shouldn't let lie."

Note from the author: Sleeping Dogs is currently free for the month of January to XBOX LIVE Gold members, as part of 'Games with Gold' -make space!

Update: Today, 15 January 2014, is your last chance to get Sleeping Dogs for free as part of XBOX LIVE’s ‘Games with Gold’! 

Friday, 10 January 2014

PAC-MAN; App of the Week [News]

Whether it is coincidence or whatever I seem to have the knack of re-downloading iOS games shortly before they re-climb their corresponding App Store chart category, or receive an update and get featured in some way by Apple.

This strange occurrence has been happening for quite a long time now, most recently with PAC-MAN.

I initially downloaded the 'Lite' version on my first Apple product [the iPod 2G] back in the day, to show off and play NAMCO's 80's arcade port. Since then it has also been on my iPhones and iPad.

Always somewhat confused over the difference between and never quite feeling it worth while paying for the full app, I took the opportunity yesterday to bag a freebie after noticing it was the 'App of the Week'.

Paid has become 'Freemium' -but not in such a bad way as the reputation usually implies regarding this current marketing trend ever apparent in mobile gaming over the past year or so.

You receive the original game complete with three continues per go, the in-app purchases are for either extra tokens (continues) or/and more mazes. All of the latter can be bought for £1.99 or separately for 69 pence each. Advertisements are inside but not in-game and can be removed.

Three free continues per attempt is fair in my opinion, think of the paid extras as credits, coins you once upon a time would have happily slotted into the arcade cabinet. The ability to retry from the last stage reached is a gifted bonus.

The additional mazes were never included in the original but bring refreshing variation and are easily worth their money as a bundle. They have been well designed, add a spectrum of colour, present new challenges and are available to test run so you can try before you buy.

Game Center is supported so you challenge your friends and check up to nine leaderboards and 25 achievements.

"Sublime swipe controls make this classic feel like it was made for the touch screen. I believe NAMCO BANDAI Games have done it right with their latest update and whole heartedly recommend you relive this iconic title, now is the time to download if you haven't already."

Update: Today, 15 January 2014 is your last chance to get PAC-MAN for free as from tomorrow it will be a paid game with in-app purchases.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Super Obstacle Boy [iOS] News

Set for release on iOS by the end of January 2014 Super Obstacle Boy by Matthius Falk promises much -but will it deliver?

Noticing the name and screenshots fans of Super Meat Boy could well be excited especially with Team Meat halting development of their mobile version to focus on Mew-Genics, whether similarities end there remains to be seen.

In this 8-bit platforming game, you are Obstacle Boy and must save your girlfriend Rescue Girl, who was abducted by the hideous Doctor Negative and thrown into the dimensional hole. Play through 128 levels, all with different game and graphic styles. Variety is a given with new elements and powerups being introduced all the time, there will be tons of secrets to find and Game Center achievements and leaderboards to fulfil and ascend. 

Boasting "Console quality", "With Cutscenes and all" yet claiming the game took just three months to develop this definitely has my interest, in fact I'd go as far to say bad virtual controls look to be the only aspect that could let this title down. Let's hope they've nailed them and that this is a keeper to sit nicely in a folder, alongside the likes of League of Evil 2, Kid Tripp and Mikey Hooks

Does hybrid mean the same as universal? Priced at the higher end of the tier 3 apps Super Obstacle Boy will be [£1.99] on the iTunes App Store, more platforms are to be announced. Visit the official website for the latest news and stalk the twitter account for the most recent updates. 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Rayman Fiesta Run [iOS] Review

 "It's a great feeling replaying an earlier level with new powers, collecting all Lums and pulling off a flawless run."

Only after recently playing Jungle Run [£1.99] and not before recalling hearing it was even better than it's predecessor did I decide to buy this Fiesta themed sequel.

Improvements are soon apparent all round, from the user interface and level design to the overall experience.

Despite not having completed either this article should be postponed no longer given the fact I'm already late to the party. Hopefully you'll want to join me in the gate crashing by the end of this review unless of course you are already there.

I haven't played a Rayman title since Advance (OK, I tried :The Great Escape port) and after wrongly glancing the first instalment as another endless runner nor was my interest rekindled. 

So imagine my surprise when I eventually discovered first hand they were actually level based auto runner platform games, our legendary hero rebuilt for mobile touch screen devices.

After Gameloft's earlier attempt rather than porting a version that probably would not have worked half as well or/and had some of the seasoning missing, Ubisoft have found the secret ingredients and concocted brand new recipes especially for the platform in mind. That being said having since researched Origins and Legends, Fiesta does seem to appear to give vibes of it's ever so slightly older titles, still the interpretation itself is done really well. 

The control scheme is minimal both visibly and by input, making for some unobtrusive accessible enjoyable gaming that still provides the challenge of it's counterparts on other consoles; those with physical d-pads, thumb-sticks, triggers and buttons. The simple taps and holds are also extremely responsive and only add to the fluidity.

Levels are thoughtfully bite-sized yet a plenty gifting the choice of both quick-play and longer sessions, 

As mentioned earlier Fiesta Run [£1.99] is an improved version of Jungle Run with a brand new adventure, more than 75 levels, additional characters and powers. Before you could jump, fly, punch and run up walls, now you can slide, swim and shrink as well as unleash the Super Punch. The aim of the game is to make your way to the flag at the end of each level collecting Lums as you go. There are many traps to avoid or overcome and obstacles to scale or destroy. New enemies will also block your path and there are currently three epic bosses that give you chase. At the end of each level your score is rated based on Lums collected, these in-turn free Teensies -up to four per level and are also the game's currency. What's great is you can go back and replay them to improve your rating and unlock more content, in-turn ultimately collecting all. This is no mean feat and is sure to provide many, many hours of gaming. It's a great feeling replaying an earlier level with new powers, collecting all Lums and pulling off a flawless run. Given the speed of the game, memory and timing help but there are also consumables you can purchase such as flying punches, hearts; which provide hit protection and a power-up that shows the perfect path to follow in order to collect all the Lums.

Visually stunning both on the iPhone and iPad with a seamless frame rate and depth of field, you move amid the environment and the world moves around you. No stage feels the same, graphically they are sharp, colourful and beautifully shaded. Comical sound effects accompany one of the most audibly pleasing soundtracks my ears have had the pleasure of hearing in a while engulfing and echoing the mood.

In between games, the screens, world map, menus and user interface as a whole is easy to navigate, neatly laid out and full of character by design. Here there are options including the ability to buy playable characters from the heroes section, art from the gallery, check your achievements and ranking and connect to Facebook, in-app purchases are an option. Finally, there are also more levels available by way of downloadable content.

A wonderful blend of classic and new serving up a dish I'm sure will be food for thought for other developers and publishers with ideas of bringing their franchises to the touch screen. Rayman Fiesta Run is a party on your phone but both games are totally worth adding to your collection.

Well done Ubisoft -sorry I'm late!

Presentation: 90%
Gameplay: 90%
Longevity: 90%
Innovation: 90%

Fantastic! 90%

"A ravishing river of mobile gaming excellence!"