Tag Archives: $2.99

New “Inside Infinity Blade II Visuals” Video, Original on Sale for $2.99

With nearly a week remaining until the release of Infinity Blade II on December 1st, Chair has released a new video of some in-game footage alongside describing the visuals.  While some parts of it are reminiscent of Apple’s iPhone introduction videos, it does show a lot of gameplay footage, highlighting the shades and lighting that take place within the game.

The first Infinity Blade was released back in 2010, wowing users by its breathtaking graphics using the Epic Unreal Engine 3.  We personally loved the game, and although it was a bit repetitive, the gameplay itself was action-packed, well-balanced, and a bit more difficult every time, leading me to keep coming back for more and more until I was able to buy all of the most expensive accessories in the store.

In short, we were mightily impressed with the first one and cannot wait to see what’s in store for the second one.

Infinity Blade II will be released on December 1st for $6.99, and it will be universal.  In celebration of Infinity Blade II’s upcoming release, the original has been put on sale for $2.99 (and even though it’s old, I suggest you pick it up).

Namco Holds Thanksgiving Sale

Namco, the developers and publishers of games such as Pac-Man and Galaga, have put on sale some of their most popular games for Thanksgiving.  The sale prices range anywhere from $0.99 to $2.99, and I’ve bolded the games that I personally recommend above the others (please note I haven’t played all of the games mentioned, so there may be some hidden gems that I just haven’t tried out yet).

The sale starts today and will end on November 28th 11:59 PM PST, so be sure to pick them up anything you’re interested in before time runs out.

Swords And Soldiers Review: Vikings, Aztecs, and Chinese; What More Could you Ask For?

Two Tribes’s all new castle defense game Swords and Soldiers comes into the App Store after being mysteriously shrouded in secrecy; from what I can remember, most of the pre-release information were teasers.

But after playing around with the final release, I can’t say I’m not happy.

With some great, cartoon artwork and an addictive gameplay, Swords and Soldiers should keep you busy for quite a while.

But one aspect of the game really keeps me from giving this a perfect score, and that’s the gameplay balancing.  While the beginning of the game is more or less pretty easy, as the levels progress, the difficulty becomes way too much for gamers such as myself to handle.

It has led to a sense of frustration at times, and if I didn’t want to review the game, I would have quit playing a long time ago.

The gameplay is great for a while, but when it gets difficult, it’s hard to stay happy.

Likes

Artwork: The cartoony artwork is very well done, and I have to commend Two Tribes’s artist(s) for this artistic marvel.  I am in love with the artwork, and again, props to the artists.

Attitude/Atmosphere: The whole atmosphere of Swords and Soldiers is somewhat ridiculous — in a good way — along with being just plain silly.  There’s enough serious in here though, so you won’t exactly be laughing your head off.  Still, it’s silly enough so that you’ll actually feel a lot more laid back playing this rather than a lot of other games out there.

Dislikes

Gameplay balancing: I somewhat ranted about this in the beginning, and this is really my only dislike for the game.  Everything else is great; this part of the game, though, really cripples a lot of the game experience.  It looks great, plays great for the first few levels, and it feels just so enlightening.  But once those difficult levels set in, there’s really nothing but frustration awaiting. 

Swords and Soldiers could just be the next best castle defense game on the App Store.  But the gameplay balancing really needs some tweaking as does some of the difficulty; with those fixed, I would be more than happy to slap a Must Have rating on Swords and Soldiers.  But still, it’s a solid game for those looking for something new to play.

Swords and Soldiers was developed by Two Tribes and published by Chillingo, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $2.99.

Orions 2 Review: a Deep and Engaging, if Somewhat Derivative, CCG

Orions 2, published by Chillingo, plays like what would happen if a bunch of Magic: the Gathering cards somehow combined their DNA with a deck of Tarot cards and a Risk board-game, and then spliced in a dose of resource management mini-games on top of that. Although Orions 2 boasts some multi-faceted gameplay, with quite a few different modes and options, it is a collectible card game at its core… So as a caveat, obviously if that’s not your type of game, this probably isn’t for you.

Orions 2 features a campaign mode, which adds on a lot of upkeep and planning to the gameplay, in the form of managing resources, capturing new territories (through card battles), acquiring new cards for your deck (which contains limited quantities of each card, each use counting for one copy out of your stash), and ultimately trying to beat your CPU adversary (again, in a card battle). It’s fun, but it can be quite lengthy, and some of the resource management bogs down the speed of gameplay. Campaign mode is a nice option, but not the best way to learn the game. Thankfully, Orions 2 can be played in single-round sessions that focus solely on the card game aspect of the gameplay. These can be enjoyed either versus the CPU, or against human opponents either with pass-and-play games, or in online matches over the Game Center or Crystal networks. In the campaign mode, however, you fight for territories on a game board, with an added element of managing and investing mana points to acquire new cards for your deck.

If this makes the game sound a.) pretty complicated, b.) a little derivative, or c.) pretty damn fun in spite of those faults– well, that’s because Orions 2 is all of these things. Overall, Orions 2 does a good job of providing different methods of gameplay, and in having a solid game mechanic for the card-on-card combat. While it won’t win any awards for originality, and it is not without room for a few adjustments I’d love to see in an update, the good far outweighs the bad, and for fans of the genre it will probably be worth picking up.

Likes

Good Card/Game Design: A collectible card game is only as good as the design that goes into the cards it features (although to be technical, this one eschews collectibility, since it gives you all the cards when you purchase the game). And this is one area where I feel that Orions 2 gets it pretty well right. As someone who plays a good bit of Magic: The Gathering every now and then, I can say without a doubt that the card design owes a lot of inspiration to Magic. And this is not really a bad thing in my book.

Orion 2’s card battles are essentially creature-heavy slugfests, and all of the non-creature spells in the game are either enhancements for your creatures, ways to gain life or add various-colored mana (your resource for playing cards) to your supply, or ways to kill or weaken your opponent’s creatures. The card battle rules are fairly streamlined and simple: Your objective is to reduce the opponent to zero life; you lose if you are reduced to zero life. Each player can play one card per turn, as long as they have enough mana for it. The mana for that creature or spell is then taken away from the player’s mana pool. There is no ‘hand of cards,’ each player may play any one card from their deck during their turn, provided they have enough mana. Many creatures also have abilities, which come in two basic types. Active abilities may be used once each turn (and sometimes require mana or some other payment), whereas other creatures have passive abilities such as giving their owner health or mana each turn, healing ally creatures, etc. At the beginning of each turn, a player gains one mana of each color. Creatures are played onto the playing field, which has five slots for each player. Each creature occupies one slot, so the most either player can have at any time is five creatures. At the end of each turn, the player’s creatures that have been in play for at least one turn attack the creatures in the slots opposite to them. They assign damage according to their power, either to the enemy creature or the opponent if there is none, and damage permanently subtracts from enemy creature’s health total. If it reaches zero, the creature dies…. And that’s basically it.

Although this sounds simple, the cards are really well-designed, and all of them have an application (although as always, some are clearly on a higher power level than others). Games tend to fluctuate fairly regularly, and it’s possible to pull out a victory when you thought you would be crushed… Or to have the rug swept out from under you by the opponent’s clever maneuver. Overall, the gameplay encourages fluid analytical thinking in a fun way, and the cards are pretty well balanced overall, so it doesn’t feel like there are really any brokenly unbeatable cards.

Game Center: Yup, it’s got it. Oh yeah, and Crystal too… if anyone still uses that.

Universal App: Yay!

Online Capabilities: Without a doubt, the game mode that I keep coming back to is the online player-vs-player matches. I do have a couple gripes about the online mode, which I’ll save for the “Dislikes” section, but overall I’m very happy that they included it. Online play is what gives Orions 2 its replay value, and I’ve found that with a couple minutes patience, I can pretty much get a game going with someone at any time of the day or night.

Smooth User Interface: Overall, the UI of Orions 2 is easy to use and intuitive… although there is one slip-up (namely the placing of buildings on the minimap in campaign mode, which feels pretty clunky). The game uses a tap-and-drag mechanic for nearly every action, from deciding which slot to play a creature in, to activating your creatures’ abilities. If you need to re-read a card, you just double tap on it. This kind of simplicity in the controls lets them slip into the background where they belong, and allows you to focus on your strategizing.

Dislikes:

Campaign Mode is a Little Clunky: I mistakenly tried to learn the game from playing the campaign mode, which can be a frustrating way to begin. There are just too many factors that are extraneous to the central card-game component, such as choosing which cards to buy for your deck, how many mana points to invest into building each turn, how many territories to try to claim each turn, how few cards you can get by on spending mana points on for your deck, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have the option of the campaign mode included, because it really does challenge the player with a lot of different things to think about… but I find I don’t end up playing it much.

A Few Gripes with the Online Matches: These are all fairly minor, since I still really enjoy the online versus mode, despite a few flaws. I’m just going to put them in list form:

-To me, the biggest problem with the online mode, is I want to be able to use the decks that I’ve built to fight against human opponents. For each online match, the game assigns a random assortment of cards of each color for each player’s deck. While this adds a fun element of chance, and I think it should still be an option, I’d really like to be able to use my home-brewed creations for online matches. After all, it gets a little old only being able to play with user-created decks either in pass-and-play mode, or against a CPU opponent.

-Another quibble with the online matches, is that it feels that no bragging rights are really at stake, since the game doesn’t track win-loss records. I can see how the designers might have left this out on purpose, since not receiving a loss for a match is usually as simple as rebooting the app when you see that you are too far behind to pull out a win. But still, somehow I feel like I’m missing out on the glory when I crush an opponent, only to be rewarded with… well, nothing really.

-A third, slight problem with the online matches is that you only get one minute per turn. This is usually enough time, but there can be particularly tough decisions where you want to reread a few cards to decide what to play. And there is nothing more soul-crushing than having the timer run out on you, and therefor missing your chance to play a card that turn because you were reading cards and analyzing what was on the board.

-Lastly, although the game gives you the option to do draft games against an online opponent, I’ve never ever been able to find anyone else trying to match up for a draft match. But I suppose this isn’t really any fault of the game designers on this one… I just thought I’d mention that it was an option, so hopefully someone reads this and we can get a bit of a draft game playing community.

Lack of Graphical Panache: Overall, the look of Orions 2 is clean and well-designed. But it’s a little bland and unexciting. The artwork on the creatures and spells is fairly small, and while it’s not bad, you can tell they didn’t invest too heavily in getting top-notch illustrations. The menus and maps are also not going to cause any eyesores, but they’re not exactly what anyone would call graphically stunning.

The absolute bottom line is that Orions 2 provides an engaging and entertaining experience for fans of the collectible card-game genre. I do hope that they add more features to the online gameplay (most importantly being able to use user-created decks). But this is a really good title at the end of the day, and the solid game-play mechanics, creatively designed cards, and the carefully weighed balance among the power levels of the various cards all make this a winning choice in my book.

Orions 2 was developed by Chillingo Ltd. and I played through version 1.0 on my iPod Touch, 2nd gen. The price is $2.99.


Who’s That Flying?! Review: A Soaring Good Time

The Guardian of Earth has failed in his duties, has allowed hordes of Doom Beasts to run rampant in Earth’s fair cities, and has been put to trial by his intergalactic peers — the Galactic Counsel of Space Justice — to face space justice for his inadequacies …

Who’s That Flying?! — a.k.a. WTF?! — is a unique side-scrolling shooter emphasizing both its narrative and its action. The tale unfolds as the Guardian of Earth recounts events to the council, often hilariously, with players reliving his exploits — as action-packed stages of alien blasting! — in the telling. The dialogue is punchy, full of banter, and laugh-out-loud funny, if a tad juvenile at times.

With excellent use of humor, unique game mechanics and a presentation as stylish as it is adorable, WTF?! manages to set itself well apart from other app store shooters. What’s more, the game is just plain fun!

In most shooters, players must avoid collisions with enemy ships and projectiles, while collecting power-ups to better their chances of success. WTF?! eschews even these basic conventions. For starters, the Guardian of Earth cannot die; he can only fail in his appointed duties. Ravagers are the most basic of enemy types, but also of greatest concern to our hero; their goal is not to defeat him, but to get past him so that they may rampage in the city. Each ravager that gets by the Guardian of Earth will do damage to the city, and when the city suffers enough damage, the Guardian will have failed.

The Guardian of Earth is too powerful to be harmed by these creatures; collide with a ravager and the Guardian will simply tear it apart. More effective in dealing with the ravagers’ constant threat, however, is the stream of laser beams the Guardian constantly spews. By destroying ravagers, the Guardian of Earth builds his multiplier. As the multiplier builds, his Awesome Meter increases in several levels, each level corresponding to increasingly devastating special attacks. Allowing a ravager to slip by, however, breaks the chain and empties the Awesome Meter’s current level progress.

The thrust of the game then is to chain attacks, building the Awesome Meter to unleash destruction upon your foes, and not allowing a single ravager to slip past you. Collisions are okay, but misses are not.

Beginning with the second stage, however, new enemies appear to attack the Guardian of Earth directly. While they cannot kill him, they have various means of distracting him, stunning him or blocking his attacks, allowing ravagers to slip by unharmed to wreak havoc upon Earth’s cities. Larger enemies need be softened up with laser beams, with the Guardian then able to grab hold and pummel them. Fun stuff!

And so WTF?! is both a shooter and a defense game, an intriguing blend of genres.

The game’s audio/visual presentation is cartoonish and further serves to drive the game’s humor. The Guardian of Earth spins and hurtles through the air impressively, showboating for his fans while battling invaders. As he builds chains, the crowds below can be heard cheering, but begroan his failures when a ravager gets by him. All the while, the Guardian proclaims his own awesomeness and enthralls his audience with his tales of daring-do.

The game includes 12 achievements, in-game labeled as “Evidence” for the trial. The OpenFeint social gaming platform is supported, but Game Center is not — indeed, WTF?!

Aside from the lack of Game Center support, the only gripe I can level against the game are its controls, which take some getting used to. Left or right joysticks are available as options, but the Touch controls are definitely the way to play. But even so, the touch controls are a mite wonky and imprecise. Essentially, a joystick is centered wherever you touch the screen; I find myself having to crank the sensitivity WAAAAAY down to prevent my Guardian from swirling all over the screen. After a short adjustment period the controls become manageable, but I would far prefer to see 1:1 relative touch controls, like those found in Space Invaders Infinity Gene and a number of other shooters. Maybe I can hope to see such controls (and Game Center support?!) added in an update …

Minor shortcomings aside, Who’s That Flying?! is a wonderfully fun game and an easy recommendation. I’ve been having a blast with it!

Who’s That Flying?! [$2.99] is developed by MediaTonic and published by Capcom. Reviewed on an iPhone 4.