Tag Archives: RPG

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.


‘Final Fantasy III’ Releasing Next Month

Well there you have it.  Square Enix has officially announced that Final Fantasy III will be releasing onto iOS “March 2011”, so the wait shouldn’t be too far away.

Final Fantasy I and II were both games that we enjoyed, and the redone interface and graphics were enough to appeal to both people who have and people who haven’t played it.  While the details are scarce, I do expect the graphics to be similar to the previous Final Fantasies, although it would be great if they added Retina support and GameCenter.

With that said, we’ll post more information as they become available.  You can check out their website for more information, although there’s nothing really there for now.

Buddy Rush Review: Killing Oblins with Friends

Had you told me a few weeks ago that I would soon be spending an inordinate amount of my time playing a Facebook game on my iPhone, I would have laughed in your face — for such is my disdain for all things Facebook, Farmville and Farmville-similar.

But that would have been before getting my hands on Buddy Rush.

To be fair, Buddy Rush has nothing to do with Farmville, apart from the both of them being games on Facebook, and that I have been investing more time than I should into it, much the same as I have seen people do playing Farmville … Grr.

Buddy Rush is a cross-platform, casual role-playing game, in which players select one of several classes and venture out into the world to complete missions. Missions can be taken solo, but a wiser strategy is to recruit help from your friends.

If your Facebook friends are also on the Buddy Rush wagon, and if your characters are of roughly equivalent experience levels, you can invite up to two of your friends’ characters to tag along on your excursions as AI-controlled party members. There is no experience bonus for completing missions solo, and no penalty for sharing the love with your friends, so you only win by taking your buddies along. Sweetening the deal, your buddies also receive experience when you take them out, and your character(s) receive bonus experience when joining your friends’ adventures. It’s a lovely little You Scratch My Back, And I’ll Scratch Yours scenario, and it’s wonderfully addictive.

Gameplay breaks down simply. You outfit your character with equipment won in battle, rewarded for misison completions or gifted by friends. You can carry a limited amount of restorative items into missions. You gather your friends, accept a mission and win experience points for finishing it.

Out on missions, you tap where you want to walk, tap enemies to attack them, and tap objects to interact. In addition to your character’s standard attack, each character gains three active skills and one passive skill as they level-up; these skills are used to improve your odds in combat, and different character classes have different skill sets.

The missions themselves are often linear, but vary in objective. Mission types often require that you travel to a specific goal, slay a number of enemies, gather items, or defend an area from attack. Some missions do present opportunity for more open exploration, while others will walk you in a set path from beginning to end.

Taking a missions costs one stamina point, of which your character has three. Stamina points recover over real-world time; if you run out of stamina, you’ll be ready to rush again when you return to the game a few hours later. You may also use stamina potions to take on extra missions, but using these potions will lengthen the downtime before stamina recovers naturally.

Missions may be mastered by completing them three times. Mastering missions will earn your character a skill point to be spent improving their skills, and also will cause the mastered mission to be replaced by a more difficult version offering a higher amount of experience points for completion. Mastering missions is therefore very important to improving your character.

Likes:

Buddy Rush is disarmingly charming. Whether friend or foe, characters are adorably designed and animated. The world itself is diverse and vibrant, with plenty to see. Buddy Rush is easily one of the prettiest 3D games on the app store, and totally kid-friendly too. While I typically shy away from Facebook-driven games, even I was lured in by the game’s artistic direction.

Seven character types are available to play, though only three — the Worrier (Warrior), Boorseye (Archer) and Wizz (Wizard) — are accessible without in-app purchase. New players begin the game with two free character slots.

The social aspects of the game are handled well. Your buddies gain experience when they tag along on your adventures, and you gain experience when they take your characters out on their missions. Items may be gifted to or received from friends as well, which is cool, especially as some items are only usable by specific character types which you may not have.

Inventory is limited, but shared amongst all of your characters. This means that items found by one character may be used by another if you have more than one. You can also off-load inventory into another character’s backpack to open up storage slots.

One of my favorite things about Buddy Rush, though, is that your data is synced to the server. The game may be played on your iPhone, iPad or in your desktop browser on Facebook, and your characters will be up-to-date no matter where you access them from. Cloud-synced saved games are the future of gaming, and something Apple really needs to begin supporting via Game Center. It’s ridiculous to have the same game installed on your iPhone and iPad, for example, but for your data to be separate so that you cannot continue your adventures from one device to the other. Buddy Rush manages data via Facebook, allowing all of your devices to handshake. Awesome!

Dislikes:

As you might expect from a Facebook game, there is an in-game marketplace that runs on real-world currency. Shop items are purchased by spending Potato Chips; these chips cannot be won in-game, and must be purchased with cold, hard cash. Luckily, shop items are not mandatory to enjoy the game; as a kindness, basic items and equipment are found or awarded in missions. Items available in the shop include additional potion packs, inventory and backpack expansions, and additional character slots.

Purchased character slots provide access to the game’s other four classes, the dual-wielding Aikilu, the ronin swordsman Nagne, the exotic Vivich or the morbid princess Botherella.

Be careful, though: character slots are not permanent. As I learned the hard way, deleting a character removes both the character and the slot — even the two free slots the game starts you off with. It will cost you potato chips to acquire a new slot for another character.

My personal favorites are Nagne and Vivich. Nagne learns some devastating sword attacks as he levels-up. Vivich is — I think — the game’s cutest character, and has a versatile skill set. Her first skill is a powerful attack spell capable of damaging groups of opponents, while her other skills are geared towards healing and protecting the party, making her a valuable ally for your friends to include on their adventures (which earns you additional experience).

Sadly, you cannot take your own extra character out as party members. I do wish the game offered more options for solo play. Luckily, if none of your friends are playing Buddy Rush, the game provides you with two AI companions, and will locate other players for you which can be friended.

While I usually shy away from social games, especially those Facebook-driven, Buddy Rush is undeniably fun. Early adopters are being awarded 40 Golden Chips for free, which is enough to buy two additional character slots (with access to all character classes) or a single character slot and an inventory expansion.

The iPhone verison of the game costs $0.99, but Buddy Rush may be played on Facebook for free at http://www.facebook.com/buddyrush. And today (February 17) only, the game is free in conjunction with FAAD, so get it while you can!

Buddy Rush [$0.99] is published by Company 100 Inc. Reviewed at version 1.0 on an iPhone 4.


Gameloft Adopts New Business Model with Imminent Launch of Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden

To quote Gameloft’s press release, “On February 3, 2011, Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden will be launched for free on the App Store. Once downloaded for free, the game will let the player take his first steps on this epic adventure. Then, if the player is prepared to take up the challenge, he will be able to unlock the full game through in-app purchase, for $6.99. This new mechanism allows Gameloft to adopt a freemium model that is becoming increasingly popular among game developers and consumers alike. Plunge into the most ambitious Action RPG ever released on iOS! Become Ayden, a young hero chosen by the god Uryah to save the kingdom of Lasgalen from the Apocalypse. Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden is an amazing adventure in a majestic world that will fascinate you for countless hours.”

My understanding is that this will enable the consumer to download the game, play a small bit of it, and then buy the entire title as an in-app-purchase if they enjoy the demo.  Most Gameloft titles have a “lite” version which fulfills this same function, but this new model will make the process more streamlined.  This is interesting (if not earth-shaking) news, because it marks Gameloft’s first foray into the increasingly popular “freemium” pricing model.  With such a big name in iOS gaming adopting this pricing scheme, it isn’t far-fetched to think other companies might well follow suit, especially if Gameloft enjoys increased success with this distribution model.

‘Rimelands: Hammer of Thor’ Goes Universal

Rimelands has been updated for the Retina display along with being able to sport the native resolution on the iPad.

It’s a great game that we gave a Must Have rating for, and for all you strategy fans out there, this is one you shouldn’t miss.  Especially when it’s only $1.99; overall Rimelands is a great game.

The goal is similar to that of a lot of RPGs: pick up quests, travel through dungeons, and fight your way through to complete the quests.  The difference in this game is the turn-based fighting mode, in which you inflict damage based on whatever you roll on the dice.  It does add more strategy elements to an otherwise generic RPG genre, and I personally loved the game.

With that said, here’s a complete update list:

  • Universal (Retina and iPad support)
  • HD cutscenes
  • Extra content: two new levels with unique textures, three new bosses, six new enemies, new items
  • Bug fixes (ending cutscene now launches correctly, convoy level will not lock before completion, early enemies are easier, later enemies harder)