Tag Archives: Mika Mobile

Battleheart Review: Mika Mobile Does it Again

Mika Mobile has created some of the best games for the iPhone platform, starting with Zombieville USA.  Back then, there was no such thing as OpenFeint, leaderboards, and achievements.

It was all blood, gore, and an overwhelming dose of addictiveness.

And most importantly of all, Zombieville USA was fun.  The artwork was impeccable, the quality was stupendous, and ahh — the memories were fond ones.

Now fast forward to more than two years later to arrive at Battleheart, their third game released on the App Store.  It’s their first game to be universal, and it’s also their first RPG.

In Battleheart, you traverse through different levels by controlling your party: draw lines to direct their path along with using the lines to attack the enemy.  After each level, you’ll receive a certain sum of money along with some experience points to level up your character.  New abilities are unlocked every 5 levels; so at level 5 you’ll receive two new abilities, at level 10 two otehrs, and so on.

As usual, the cartoonish artwork is more than appealing, and the animations that go along with it are seamlessly implemented.

My only main problem with this is the lack of achievements and/or leaderboards; their previous games did that only because they could.  OMG! Pirates was released during a time when social platforms were fragmented and none really stood out.  Zombieville USA was releaased when social platforms just flat out didn’t exist.

But in this day and age, games like these always require some sort of achievement system, and since Apple released GameCenter for all developers, there’s really no excuse.

Likes

Artwork: The artists over at Mika Mobile are extremely talented.  All of their work has been top-notch quality, and I honestly believe that games from Mika Mobile contain some of the best artwork on the App Store.  Battleheart is no different, as I believe the artwork in here is their best work yet.  It also helps given the fact that it’s Retina ready and iPad optimized.

Gameplay: It’s original.  And most of all, it’s fun.  Battleheart is simple—extremely simple—but the gameplay ramps up to the point where you’re tapping quickly, casting a spell, switching characters, casting another spell… the list can go on and on.  I would have to say that Battleheart is the definition of a pick-up-and-play game for the iPhone: it’s easy to learn, extremely difficult to master, and it provides either one minute or 30 minutes of play.  You can play it while you’re waiting, while you’re eating; heck, even when you’re on toilet if you’re that addicted.

RPG Elements: The RPG elements are light, but they definitely add a lot of twist.  There are different spells you can choose, but wait, you can only choose one out of two new spells.  One is offensive, the other defensive — which one will you choose?  Along with that, there are a number of recruits you can hire from the tavern, with each having their own skills.  Magicians usually are high on power but extremely low on defense.  Knights are balanced offensively and defensively.  Rogues are a little more offensive than defensive… again, the list goes on.  You have to strategize which character to put in at what situation, which spell you want to choose for each character; there are so many different strategic scenarios that it does add some depth to the otherwise simple gameplay.

Universal: Who can forget this?  While it would have been nice if Zombieville USA was universal (if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a huge Zombieville fan), I’m glad they made Battleheart so.  The iPhone version works fine, although it is difficult pinpointing a character within tight quarters.  I do find myself scrambling to pick the right character, and that’s usually an indication that a bigger screen would be better suited.  This is not a gripe towards Battleheart but to universal applications as a whole in that I wish I was able to transfer my save data from the iPhone to the iPad; otherwise, you pick one device and that’s the device you’ll use for the rest of the game.

Dislikes

User interface: The user interface looks fine, but navigating through everything does get quite confusing sometimes.  For instance, it would be nice if the keep contained information such as what each character is wearing or what each characters’ abilities are.  Instead, you have to switch out party members, then go into the Armory section just to see what the reserve character is wearing.  Then, if that character is really just a reserve character, you’ve got to back and switch everyone out again.  It’s a small gripe, but a hassle nonetheless.

GameCenter: I don’t understand Mika Mobile’s unwillingness to add a social platform, and Battleheart is desperately in need of one (or more like I’m desperately wanting one).  Achievements seem like a perfect addition to this game, and it would be a shame if the developers don’t decide to put it in.  Again, it’s a mystery as to why they don’t just implement it already.

Tight quarters: Like I mentioned before somewhere in this review, the iPhone contains some pretty tight quarters.  You’ll select the wrong character nearly 50% of the time, and that’s not exactly a good thing once things become hectic (especially when fighting that huge spider).  I’m not sure how you would fix this, since the controls look like the only viable option, but maybe that’s why they made it universal; maybe it was made for the iPad.  Whatever the case may be, this is just a warning to those purchasing to play on the iPhone.  Not a game-changing problem, but it does get frustrating every once in a while.

Battleheart is the epitome of casual gaming on the App Store.  It goes alongside Fruit Ninja, Flight Control, and Canabalt as one of the best casual games I have ever played.  Sure, there seems to be an end to it.  But there’s an endless mode, there’s always the possibility of replaying the levels, and I’m pretty sure all the characters won’t have each ability unlocked by the time you “beat” the game.  There’s just a lot here to dig into, and the RPG elements work fantastically.  Do yourself a favor, skip that cup of coffee, and buy this game.

Battleheart was developed by Mika Mobile, and I played through version 1.0.5 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $2.99.


OMG Pirates! Review: OMG Fun!

Mika Mobile makes a triumphant return to the App Store with its latest, OMG Pirates!, a surprisingly excellent brawler that trumps Zombieville U.S.A., their previous effort, in every conceivable way.

That’s not to imply that Zombieville U.S.A. was a bad game; it wasn’t, and it definitely has its followers. It was criticized for being repetitive, though, and while OMG Pirates! falls into the same pitfall, it falls more like a feather than a stone, and more than makes up for this in other ways.

Pirates vs. Ninjas is an Internet meme believed to have begun in 2003, and which has since risen to immense popularity. OMG Pirates! builds upon this cliché premise, but does so marvelously well. And while this is not the first time ninjas have battled pirates on the App Store, OMG Pirates! provides the best ninja-on-pirate action you’re likely to find.

The game plays similarly to classic 2D brawlers like Double Dragon or Golden Axe, but actually has more in common with the underrated NES classic River City Ransom, which first introduced RPG-like character development to the action punch-up. And it’s the RPG elements that really allow OMG Pirates! to shine. As you play, your ninja levels-up, and with each level earns new attack combos, increased attack power, health meter extensions, and other upgrades. Beginning with only a single sword-slash attack, your ninja gradually evolves into a pirate-pummeling machine. Your ninja level carries over from the campaign mode into level replays and unlocked gameplay modes, making your progress persistent throughout the game. This allows you to return to earlier levels with all of your moves and improvements intact to increase your level rating.

Controls are simple and well implemented. On your left, a shuriken-styled 360-degree d-pad and a special attack meter that gradually fills as you inflict pain upon your foes. When full, tap the meter to unleash a devastating dose of death upon your enemies. On the right, two buttons for Jump and Attack, which can be used in various patterns of tapping, holding and waiting to unleash powerful combination attacks and special moves when you’ve reached the appropriate character level.

Likes:

Character Progression: Character leveling is put to great use in this game, and I love that levels are persistent in all game modes. It’s a lot of fun to return to previous levels with your character improvements, which allow you to mop up your opponents for a better level rating. Also, if you’re having trouble completing a level, you can go back to previous levels to train up your character, later returning to where you’re having difficulty with a more powerful character. This type of player-controlled difficulty ratio makes the game very accessible.

Attack Moves: The various moves and combination attacks work to keep combat interesting, and become essential techniques as your opponents become progressively more resilient to simple slashes. In addition to making you a more deadly assassin, your ever expanding arsenal of moves helps to counteract the repetitive onslaught of enemies and scenery.

Level Ratings: Level ratings range from Terribad to Master, and offer an incentive to return to previous levels for an encore performance. By collecting Master ratings, you can also unlock various cheat modes.

Nonstop Action: The pirates don’t let up, ever. More action = more fun.

Difficulty: OMG Pirates! is not an easy game. Stages consist of several areas, with each area acting as a checkpoint from which you will begin again with full health when killed. Taking advantage of these checkpoints, you can muscle your way through the game’s stages, but will usually walk away with a Terribad rating for the stage. Gaining Master rating really is difficult and demands a flawless performance. This careful balance allows new players to enjoy the game while working through the levels without being discouraged by their difficulty, while simultaneously providing advanced players with lofty goals demanding skillful play.

Rewards: Completing the campaign mode unlocks a Hard difficulty and a Survival mode, while gaining stage mastery unlocks various cheat modes.

Bosses: Boss pirates appear every several levels, and comprise a colorful cast of adversaries. They’re humorous and challenging, and I only wish there were more of them.

Art Style: OMG Pirates! looks fantastic, with whimsical, comic book like character designs and scenery. Character movements and attacks are smoothly animated, and very effective. This is a top-quality visual presentation.

Dislikes:

Repetitive: A few standard enemy types get recycled throughout the game, appearing with slight visual variations to represent more difficult versions of the same foe. There are two types of brutes: one with a cutlass and one with a rapier, a ranged attacker wielding a blunderbus, and a pirate that tosses bombs. Also, the background scenery is constantly reused throughout the game, sometimes with a simple palette swap to represent a new location. When the scenery finally changes for real, it’s quite a nice reward; I just wish the scenery changed more often.

No Achievements: Though the game keeps track of stats such as time played, pirates killed and highest combo count, there are no in-game achievements or integrated achievement system. Plus+ or Open Feint support would be welcome.

No Multiplayer: OMG Pirates! would be a fantastic multiplayer game, and represents a genre of gaming that has long embraced multiplayer action. The original Double Dragon allowed for two-player coop player, and I could see that working easily in this game. An online matching system could go far here, and an update offering two-player coop missions, player-vs-player dueling, and team arena matches could makes this game incredible.

No Zombie Cameo?!: How awesome would it be to get a Ninja vs. Zombies bonus level, featuring zombies from Zombieville U.S.A.? Could even be fun having the redneck as a bonus character.

Insofar as I’m concerned, OMG Pirates! currently owns several lofty titles including Best iPhone Brawler, Best iPhone Action Game, Best iPhone Ninja Game and Ultimate Ninja Vs. Pirates Game. While I see a lot of missed potential for greatness — the game could use more diversity in enemies and online achievements, and I would love to see multiplayer modes and cameos from Zombieville U.S.A. — there is no denying that this is one of the iPhone’s best new releases. For their second outing, Mika Mobile has crafted a wonderful game full of charming characters, humorous animations, gratuitous violence and unnecessary gore. I’ve loved every moment of this game, and it’s extremely satisfying slicing pirates in half and watching bosses’ heads pop. The game controls well, combat is loads of fun and the action never stops. OMG Pirates! should not be missed.

musthave

OMG Pirates! is developed by Mika Mobile and a worthy purchase at $1.99. Reviewed on an iPhone 3G.

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OMG!?!! OMG! Pirates Are Loose In App Store!

Mika Mobile’s second iPhone game has finally arrived, nicknamed “OMG! Pirates”.  Of course, the never-ending epic battle between pirates and ninjas have been a common theme amongst internet dilly-dallyers, and that seems to have been the idea for the developers over at Mika Mobile.

OMG! Pirates is a game that’s set with more of a Castle Crashers game style and departs from the traditional side-scrolling shooter Zombieville provided.  Zombieville being one of my most favorite games during the year of 2008, I have some high hopes for their new title.

OMG! Pirates is only $1.99 on the App Store, and we should have a review up sooner or later.  Check out the gameplay video embedded below to get a feel for the gameplay.  OMG! Pirates was created using the Unity 3D engine and is fashioned through a cartoony art style.


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