Tag Archives: PuzzleQuest

chronoSgear Review: The Mafia meets “Might and Magic”

Axion Logic has released a strategy RPG that is a cross between elements of Puzzle Quest, Critter Crunch, and turn based strategy games called chronoSgear. Most similar to the Nintendo DS game Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, chronoSgear combines a match 3 battle system with an interesting and unique story line making for an engaging title. Leveling up units and yourself adds to the strategy as you embark on linear quests in a time travel storyline. Different factions with different abilities will keep you thinking for the best way to defeat an enemy.

Being a fan of the Heroes of Might and Magic series for some time now, I was immediately intrigued by the announcement of this title. It is the only and closest entry on the Appstore for fans of the series. In chronoSgear you play as Stark, an adopted member of the Amici Mafia. The head of your family sends you on quests that help them, and of course put you in peril. It all boils down to one fateful day where your enemy General Vincenti makes a move that the family is too late to stop. It is up to you to stop him and the only way is to go back in time. Luckily the Amici Family has a time travel device at their disposal so off you go to try and prevent the unfortunate events of the future.

Battling opponents utilizes a match 3 battle system while protecting Stark’s “Soul Zone”. Deplete the enemies’ soul for the victory, allow Stark’s to empty and he is defeated. Simple? Not really, since many different units are available for play and with different abilities, strategy is high. Decisions must be made to  attack or defend and in some cases one choice is clearly the more beneficial. There are no weapons or armor to upgrade here, only Soul Zone points and Soul Cards that help in battle.

Likes:

Battle System: Strategy is involved in the battle system as you try to match units of three. Only a set number of moves are allowed each turn and choices must be made to attack or defend. Each unit has a different attack rating. But those with the higher attack values need more turns to “mature” if you will. Choices between waiting a turn for the higher attack, or attacking with less on the next turn become crucial to winning and losing a battle.

Manga Art: Having not seen manga artwork in some time in a game of this caliber it is refreshing for a developer to take the risk and it pays off. Lots of Japanese influences abound with Japanese writing on the title screen. The cut scenes are very enjoyable with this style of artwork.

Controls: To move Stark in the overworld a d-pad appears wherever your finger touches the screen. This makes it easy to move around the portrait orientated map. Touch anywhere and you can move. Since moving around does not need to be precise, this works very well. Especially if you need to move in circles to encounter enemies while leveling either yourself or your units.

Dislikes:

Balance: While in most RPGs I expect some amount of leveling up via grinding, it is frustrating in this game to face your first assignment by the family only to get obliterated immediately. Setting out to level up, Starck circled in place and battling enough enemies to level up not one but two levels before having success in that battle.

Another instance of too much too soon are the amounts of exp points needed to level up. Even at low levels, leveling up needs an average of 4,000 exp in some cases and battling opponents yields between 175 and 325 exp, leaving a daunting task in order to gain a level. There are also quite a few side battles to face to accomplish your goal. While a veteran of this battle style and game play will welcome the added battles, there has to be a middle ground for the new player. I can see frustrated new players barging into battle and encountering frustration as the enemy depletes their Soul Zone in one move.

Options Menu: Separate music and sound effects controls are needed in the options. Perhaps this is a personal pet peeve but for me it is a sign of a polished game that the dev took the extra step to finish off for the consumer. There are a ton of games that it is great to hear the sound effects but not the music and vice versa. I am not sure why this is not a standard feature at this juncture of the Appstore. While the game supports playing music from your own playlist, the music drowns out the sound effects. A separate volume control within the game option menu should be included to control not the overall volume of the game but instead the sound effects and the music separately. So many games have been doing this successfully I guess I have been spoiled.

Unit Selection: The battle screen is separated in two. The top half is your opponent and the bottom half is Stark. To make a match, select a unit to move from one column to another – in the style of Critter Crunch or DynoGems. With so many units on the screen the boxes and columns are pretty slight. This led to some false movements due to the wrong selection. The blue column highlight camouflages the color of the unit just enough so that orange might look purple and vice versa so a wrong move is discovered too late. With only three moves per turn, this can kill a battle against a stronger opponent later in the game.  An undo button should be at the very least implemented in a future update since screen real estate is at a premium and the number of units on screen should not be sacrificed.

Length of game: The loading screen indicates this is a “prequel.”  Each unit only levels up to 5, so paired with my gripe about the game being unbalanced it is also short. What the grinding seems to do is artificially lengthen the play. It will remain to be seen if there is a next chapter and if it is a free upgrade or DLC or a new title.

Overall, chronoSgear is a nice addition to the Appstore that takes some familiar game concepts and rolls them into one. With gameplay similar to a popular game series, and new elements introduced, this game should satisfy many needs. Seamlessly combining a strategic RPG, a puzzle and a turn based strategy game into one was not an easy task, but Axion Logic appears to have done just that with chronoSgear.

chronoSgear version 1.01 by Axion Logic was tested on an iPod Touch 2g with OS 4.1. It is currently available for an introductory price of $1.99.


A Year in Review: We Look at Our Favorite Games from the App Store

With the app store officially one year old and Apple putting out a list of their best games, we thought that it’s a great opportunity to share our ten favorite games from the last year.  These games are not in any order, and we will definitely overlook some games to narrow our lists down to only ten.  The games you’ll find below are ones that have stuck out in our mind, and we recommend you play each of them if you haven’t taken the time to do so already.

Nick

  • Sway: The controls are so simple and unique, but the game remains challenging throughout.  It’s a great use of the platform, and was a blast to play. (Lite version)
  • Let’s Golf: While it’s a copy of Hot Shots Golf, this arcade style golf game has so much to unlock that it kept me busy for a long time.  The full 3D environments and detailed golfers also made it one of my favorite games. (Lite version)
  • Tap Tap Revenge 2: It’s free, and it’s great.  New music is added weekly from top pop artists, and downloadable track packs are put out about once a month.  Once Tapulous allowed you to import all the music you buy into TTR2, I was hooked.  The online play and leveling up was also very addictive.
  • Flight Control: This game had everyone saying “what’s your high score?”, with good reason.  A deceptively simple concept, yet the execution was so perfect that you wanted to improve your score more and more.  Any time you lost, it was your fault, and there was never a time you wanted to blame the game.
  • Star Defense: I can’t helped but get sucked into Star Defense because of how good it looks, and working to accomplish more achievements on the Plus+ network.   I still spend time spinning planets and looking at the details in awe, along with watching just how well the game runs.
  • Zenonia: A full RPG for six bucks?  It feels like a classic title, yet the new story and gameplay kept me wondering where the game was headed.  There’s no better value on the app store than what’s found in Zenonia. (Lite version)
  • Drop7: Finally, a puzzle game that wasn’t dependent on proven methods.  Drop7 really makes you think, and even when you feel like you’ve mastered this game, there will still be moves that surprise you.  It’s very deep, and very addictive. (Lite version)
  • Peggle: Sure, this is only a port of an already great game.  PopCap really needs to be commended for their implementation of Peggle on the iPhone though, because it could not have turned out better.  For such a tiny screen, the controls worked frustration free and let you focus on making the craziest shots possible.
  • Rolando 2: I can’t sing enough praises about Rolando 2.  The graphics have pushed the platform further than ever, the difficulty has been toned down to make the game frustration free, and what better way to exhibit the strength of the system than by perfectly using the accelerometer to control your Rolandos.  The achievement system in Plus+ will keep you busy well after you finish the game the first time through.  This is my favorite game that I can remember in recent memory.

Ryan

  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour: A great golf experience with wonderfully intuitive and unique controls.  The game can get easy once you get good, but I keep coming back for more.  If you are a golf fan at all, you should own this game!  By the way, if you think the game is too easy, try to play without put preview, and you will find a very fun, challenging experience.  I think that those who criticize the game for being too easy are using all of the training wheels the game offers for the novice players.
  • Need for Speed Undercover: There are essentially two types of people in the word: those that prefer Need for Speed and those who prefer Real Racing.  I tend to feel sorry for that second group of people.  Need for Speed offers better looking cars and more customization.  I really felt like I was playing a mini console game.  The soundtrack isn’t the best, but the game is just fun.  After beating the game, I found it fun to buy every car and customize them to my liking.
  • Dungeon Defense: A fun, creative tower defense game.  Like many, I was not a tower defense fan until I began to play games on the iPod Touch.  Dungeon Defense offes some unique gameplay elements such as enemies that attack your defenders, gates the halt the enemies for a period of time, expensive upgrades, and unique defender placement.  All in all, I think Dungeon Defense is the most underrated tower defense game on the app store.
  • PuzzleQuest: Match three meets an RPG to create PuzzleQuest.  I found myself quickly immersed in the experience that is PuzzleQuest, and highly recommend the game to any gamer.  It is fun to level up your character, and the match three aspect doesn’t detract from the RPG elements. (Lite version)
  • Car Jack Streets: While not perfect, I think Car Jack Streets is the best GTA style game on the app store today.  At first, I had some issues with the controls and limitations in gameplay, but the updates have been great, and I love to see the apps keep supporting this great game!
  • Fantastic Contraption: It is almost too much fun to try to keep building machines that can beat some of these very tough levels.  The physics are top notch, and since you can create and upload your own levels, the fun is endless.  My friends and I got into a friendly competition trying to build the quickest most efficient machines for each level.
  • Zen Bound: One of the best looking games period.  Has a great soundtrack, is fun to play, and provides a unique experience.  It seems people either love or hate this title.  I never got caught up in the hype as I thought the idea of the game was stupid (tying an object in rope), but I have since come around and love the game! (Lite version)
  • Bike or Die 2: If you are competitive, Bike or Die 2 is for you.  The online community associated with this app (that also has a computer version) is great.  I found myself playing levels over and over to get better times on the leaderboards.  Also, there are thousands of levels to chose from.  You can also save your replays.  I found myself both working to beat my time and to play a level with the lost flips possible.  Just a whole lot of fun! (Lite version)
  • Texas Hold’em: Apple really made a great Texas Hold’em game.  The graphics, AI, gameplay, and features are great.  If you like poker at all, this is well worth the purchase.

Daniel

  • Assassin’s Creed: With one of the best graphics on the iPhone, this game is a must have.  Great gameplay and throwing knives make this game a winner. (Lite version)
  • Ancient Frog: This game also has one of the best graphics, and the frog animations are done with pinpoint accuracy.  The game is puzzling and challenging, along with beautiful, ambient sounds and colorful backgrounds. (Lite version)
  • ExZeus – Another beautiful game on the iPhone that offers an arcade experience unique from the rest. Fast-paced and beautiful weaponry makes this game one of the best games in the App Store.
  • Sway – A unique experience using your fingers to sway your character can only be accomplished on an iPhone, and the exhilarating experience is unforgettable.  With crisp graphics and intuitive controls, this is another winner. (Lite version)
  • Real Racing – The most real racing experience ever to appear on the iPhone/iPod Touch is, unsurprisingly, a winner.  It features gorgeous graphics and an amount of polish so high it could even be a PSP game.
  • Rolando 2 – Beautiful artwork, Mr Scruff’s music shack, and intuitive multitouch controls make this experience unique; unlike anything we’ve ever seen.  The platformer uses many of the multitouch elements to provide a versatile experience for casual and hardcore gamers alike.
  • Castle of Magic – Stunning graphics and breathtaking environments will show this game is obviously one of the best in the App Store.  Also, the similar gameplay to Mario is quite enjoyable with a few twists like shape-shifting into a swordfish. (Lite version)
  • Sentinel 2 – With the numerous amount of tower defense games in the App Store, surely there has to be at least one in the top 30.  Well, this is one of the best tower defense games in the App Store with wonderfully balanced gameplay mechanics you won’t find with any other tower defense.
  • Zombieville USA – That’s right, although this game may seem simple to you, it sure is an App Store classic that is addictive to the max.  Offering polished gameplay and rocket launchers, this has got to be one of the best of its kind. (Lite version)
  • Zenonia – What can we say, this has got to be one of the best RPGs a mobile phone can offer. With beautiful animations, skill tree, and tons of content, you can clearly see why this is one of the best games in the App Store. (Lite version)

That’s it for the roundup of the best games for this year.  Check out the games that you haven’t heard of, and have a good time with them.  Disagree with any of our picks, or did we miss a favourite game of yours?  Leave us a comment below.