The Mothership Stella has been awakened. Ore and nova crystals have been found, two elements necessary to create new bots. Before the celebration can commence, the war begins, pitting machines and alien creatures against each other, in a fight for control over the valuable resources. So begins Stellar Wars, an elegant combination of a strategy game, a resource management sim, and a good old fashioned combat title rolled into one beautiful mobile package.
Stellar Wars is split between two major areas: combat and upgrade management. Combat takes place in a 2.5D environment marked by three lanes where your troops and enemies will meet for battle. Gather ore in the background by deploying a Minerbot, and then get to work setting your troops on the field. The ship rests on the side of the screen and deploys units as quickly as you can gather the ore to pay for their creation. Once activated, send them forward to battle aliens and gather energy and ore from the screen. Swipe to change lanes, a tactic you can use to sneak up on certain enemies as well as avoid long range attacks. You can team up on foes, run at them from behind, or command your entire army at once using menu options. You certainly won't feel helpless in combat, but don't think Stellar Wars is going to just hand you a victory, either!
After battle, take your leftover ore and head back to the Mothership to participate in Stellar Wars' immense upgrades system. Here you can beef up your lander, upgrade your mining and attack bots, or purchase ship drops to help you out in battle. Managing upgrades is where the strategy part of the experience comes into play, and how you spend your points makes a huge difference when it's time to head back to the battlefield. Purchasing new units requires nova crystals, while upgrading components of bots requires ore. Think hard before you spend either one!
It's no secret that Temple Run has become a force to be reckoned with on the App Store today. Not only does it continuously hold a spot on the App Store Top 100 charts, but it also inspired a number of direct sequels and spin-off games, such as Temple Run: Oz and Temple Run 2. But even beyond that, Temple Run had a huge hand in crafting a brand new game genre that has since taken the mobile world by storm: the endless runner.
Now it's pretty safe to assume that you've seen a game or two appear on the App Store that plays a bit like Temple Run, and for good reason: there are a lot of them these days. So we've decided to compile a list of some of our favorite mobile games that offer a gameplay experience that's similar to Temple Run.
Do you like our picks? Do you have a few good ones that we may have missed? Don't be afraid to let us know of any other games like Temple Run down in the replies!
The Lord of the Rings brand has become an almost sacred property. So beloved are the books and movies that expectations have grown to proportions nearly as epic as the journey the nine must make to Mordor to destroy the one ring. So how can familiar and exceptional stories be reworked into the video game medium while maintaining the elements that breed popularity while expanding the universe and reaching innovation? Throw LEGOs into the mix. Boom. This is LEGO Lord of the Rings, and you need it.
Tolkien's massive tale of power, corruption, love, adventure, and orcs transitions into the LEGO universe with ease. That said, the iOS version is definitely smaller than previous releases. LEGO Lord of the Rings will be especially familiar to those who played last year's handheld or PC/Mac versions of the title, but whether through platform limitations or conscious choice for mobile style of play, everything has been diluted.
Encounters and boss battles play out a bit differently, which in and of itself isn't a bad thing. It is, however, something to be aware of for those who are curious. In other words, there are more expanded iterations of this game floating around and just about all unnecessary mechanics have been cut, so should LOTR fans wish to experience a deeper adventure they might be better off playing the more expensive bigger brother versions.
Mobile or not, there is no denying that Warner Bros. have executed a fantastic game. The LEGO gaming brand has long been known to infuse subtly humorous moments into not-so-humorous properties, and these spoofs fit with LOTR surprisingly well. For example, the opening moments--Cate Blanchett/Galadriel's speech from The Fellowship of the Ring film transposed over LEGO versions of the same events--provides a moment where one of the kings of men drops his newly-gifted ring.
There was a time right here in North America where the newsstands were lined with gaming magazines. EGM, GamePro, Nintendo Power; if you stuck Metroid on the cover, you were going to sell some copies. Over the last few years - much as we've seen with the print industry at large - gaming magazine have been dying off one by one. And if you thought this was a Western phenomenon, this week's news from China will prove you wrong.
As always, we'd like to thank our friends at the Beijing-based gaming website Laohu.com for sharing the latest news to come out of China with Gamezebo's readers. If you're looking to get your Chinese news straight from the source, be sure to check them out!
Tonight's Twitch broadcast is a little bit later than usual, but hey - the only constant in life in change. If you haven't joined us before on a Thursday, maybe our evening edition will fit your schedule a little more conveniently! We'll be checking out the latest iOS game releases to hit the App Store today (Thursday's kinda popular for that), and would love for you to join us.
Sit back, grab some popcorn, and jump in the chat. IT'S GO TIME, INTERNET FRIENDS!
(and don't worry - if you miss the live broadcast, we'll be sure to share the archived version right here once it's over).
Meltdown is one of the most unique experiences I've had playing a mobile game. Like a confused college student, it has a few ideas on what it wants to be, but it gets lost in its own search for an identity. On paper, that identity is easily understandable. In practice, there are two experiences that are nearly identical. The single difference between the two is enough to shake the game's foundation.
Upon first glance, it'll seem like Meltdown is a lot like Bastion, which is a fair assumption. The birds-eye camera view and the 360-degree motion result in this game controlling much like Supergiant's indie hit. Your character carries two guns and a melee weapon. Each gun can be purchased and upgraded by spending coins and upgrade cards dropped by enemies.
Customization is one of Meltdown's strong points. Projectile weapons and your character all have individual skill trees. When a gun has been upgraded nine times--it's maximum--a new one will appear in the shop. Your character's skill tree is similar, but lacks the hard limit. You can choose to obtain skill boosts in damage, health, and weaponry. You can ultimately fill it out completely, so there's not much risk in selecting the wrong path. Regardless of skills and which two weapons you equip, you'll play the game the same way, only ammo types and meter regeneration changes.
Meltdown's level-based gameplay is the bulk of what the game offers. The default controls are annoying, at best. I found myself trying to adapt to the touch-heavy controls, only to become frustrated and quickly go digging in the options menu. Fortunately, there's an excellent control scheme that mimics a game pad. This setup lets you move with a virtual thumb stick and press virtual buttons for shooting, dashing, and using a melee strike. There's also controller support for those with a compatible pad.
The King has put forth the call for the mightiest in the realm to contest for a spot at the Round Table! The path will be difficult, but fame and glory awaits the one bold and powerful enough to seize the opportunity. From humble beginnings, you must rise through the tournaments, forge your legend across the land, and lead your party to victory in a game that's both simple to play and surprisingly complex.
King's League: Odyssey is quite the thing. It starts off simply enough, with hazy shades of something from Kairosoft, requiring you to recruit a small band of knights, mages, and archers, who sally forth to complete quests, conquer villages, and take part in monthly tournaments. But before long you'll find yourself clearing out dungeons, laying siege to larger, tougher cities, upgrading your facilities, specializing your troops, and more; and yet it happens so gradually and it's all so easily accessible that you won't even notice it happening until the first time you get clobbered and realize that you need to actually think about what you're doing.
The game plays out in monthly cycles, the days ticking off inexorably (unless you're in a menu) toward the tournament battle at the end of every month. You begin with a single knight and enough money to recruit one or two cohorts: another knight, a warrior, or perhaps an archer or a wizard. Each character has four ability-determining stats that must be trained as often as possible, but training is limited by points, which are awarded in very limited quantities at the beginning of every month. While training, you can also embark upon quests, which earn you gold and sometimes crystals that are used to increase your character levels, earn specialized abilities, and upgrade your facilities. But you can't be training while you're questing, so you don't want to be questing all the time - and since questing also takes time, you sometimes have to take a break to ensure that you can attend the monthly tournament.
Sometimes the biggest explosions onto the mobile gaming scene come in the form of the newcomers. Wormhole Games is a new mobile development studio formed by two ex-employees and visionaries of Funzio, the studio responsible for smash successes like Crime City and Modern War before being sold to GREE last year in a multi-million dollar deal. I recently had a chance to speak with Jamil Moledina, CEO and Creative Director, and James Kelm, COO and Executive Producer at Wormhole Games, to find out about the studio's debut game, Tank Nation, and what it was like to start over from scratch with all of the vigor and innovation of a brand new startup studio.
Now working within a small development team of only 12 people, Moledina and Kelm are embracing their new status as a startup company, as they prepare to release their first game into the world today. As they tell me, startup companies like Wormhole Games have an extra advantage being new to the scene: in that they are better able to take calculated risks, and to experiment with new and different ideas that seasoned companies might start to shy away from once a few titles get under their belts.
But rather than trying to recreate something that's already been done, or copying the latest game to hit #1 on the App Store, Moledina and Kelm's goal with their first game was to take an already successful concept in gaming, and introduce it into a brand new area of the industry: in this case, the mobile platform. They point out Rovio's Angry Birds as an example of taking a gameplay mechanic like artillery firing and making it so simple that everyone from your grandma to your little nephew can understand it within minutes of playing. To this end, their first game would need to be broadly accessible, while still offering a long-term level of depth to satisfy the hardcore gaming crowd.
A plane crash, a deserted island, and a crew of "mouth-breathing tourists" as your only companions: although it's a pitch we've heard before, developer Owlchemy Labs' take on the Lost-famous formula promises to be new, improved, and worth sticking with from beginning to its numerous, varied ends. As a survival game, Dyscourse is full of tangible dangers that can bring about those ends abruptly--such as poisonous snakes and wild boars--but one of its greatest challenges is the human psyche. Dropped into the shoes of Rita, an art graduate-turned barista-turned makeshift island leader, players will get to know their fellow castaways and make critical, interpersonal decisions that will affect the group's chances for survival.
One such choice is shown off in Dyscourse's Kickstarter video: Rita sends the mustachioed tourist with a fear of snakes to subdue a venomous enemy, with less-than-desirable results. She could also opt to dispatch the snake herself, which keeps everyone alive and well. Alex Schwartz, Founder, CEO, and Janitor of Owlchemy Labs, told Gamezebo: "With a Kickstarter video, it's tough to build characters and show consequence over time, so George getting smacked down by the snake could have looked arbitrary in the setting of a two minute video. With an actual playthrough, though, you come to love (or hate) the cast of wacky characters on the island, and uncover important bits of info and background on the characters, their skills, and their motives through dialog and various moments."
Those moments determine the direction of each playthrough, which vary greatly thanks to Dyscourse's emergent gameplay. Even seemingly minor choices can create diverging paths that change one player's experience when compared to another's. "Those choices you make at any time are also not 'pre-set' in that you will always see those same options," Schwartz said. "For example, if you learned a specific bit of information about a character, or saw them do something sneaky, the option to bring that up, or use that information against them will be 'unlocked,' whereas players who didn't come across that info due to going down a different branch would not be able to see that option, but instead have a whole different parallel experience happening."
The AI is relentless. It is reprogramming itself to wrest control of the station, and it appears on my comms to enlighten me as to what my fate will be. It appears as a "he" and, though polite, he carefully informs me that I am a little more than a virus to him - a bug that must be eradicated. What follows is nothing short of soul-crushing monotony and a host of poorly conceived control and mechanics issues that leave Neon Shadow feeling bogged down and nearly unplayable.
The evil AI has been a staple of sci-fi within the world of entertainment since 2001: A Space Odyssey's Hal was asked to open the pod bay doors. And yet, despite this well-worn material, the concept itself is rife with opportunity. Think to such classic gaming experiences as the Mother Brain of Chrono Trigger and you've got a recipe for multi-genre overlap. Unfortunately, any subject matter is only as good as its execution, and Neon Shadow is executed poorly.
Controls are of the virtual variety, an element that has certainly become common enough to be implemented well. The option to lock the virtual joystick to a static location is helpful enough, but the camera and shooting buttons rest right on top of one another: meaning you'll either shoot when you wish to move, or vice-versa. Additionally, it is uncomfortable to switch between camera control and firing, and this often results in little choice beyond coming to a complete stop to survey your surroundings.
A learning curve is implied within the framework of today's modern gaming experiences (especially mobile), but when enemies swarm from multiple directions and make movement impossible, all you can do is stand in one place, hope for the best, and curse your depleting health bar as you frantically try to locate that incoming fire, that ill-intentioned quad-copter, or what appears to be some sort of laser-mounted robotic vacuum cleaner.
Why are you still reading this? Did you miss the headline? *Sigh.* Ok, for those of you who instead on an explanation, here it is:
Oceanhorn is a Zelda-inspired mobile adventure that has blown our collective socks off here at Gamezebo. It's now available to the public ($8.99 on iTunes), and while we've been playing it for a few days, we don't quite have a review ready yet to sell you on why this is an absolute must-buy.
Is it because we're lazy? Normally I'd say yes, but with Oceanhorn, it's because the game is just that @#$%ing big. I'm four hours in, and the game tells me I'm only 17% complete. A lot of that could be sidequesting and bonus play, but even so, story-wise it feels like I'm only a third of the way through. For a mobile game, that's a lot. That's like the App Store gaming equivalent of War and Peace.
We have a review in the works. It's coming. But I can't do it right now - because I'm too busy playing Oceanhorn. Want a spoiler? You should be too. Snag it here.