Nonstop Chuck Norris Review

Every so often, you come across a game which sounds so ridiculous that it couldn’t possibly work. When I saw a game called Nonstop Chuck Norris in the app store, I laughed. But after downloading it and spending a couple of hours playing it, I think it is one of the better mobile games to grace the app store, offering easy gameplay and a large amount of replayability that suits mobile gaming really well.

Game: Nonstop Chuck Norris
Platforms: iOS, Android
Price: Free-to-Play (in-app purchases for consumables)
Release Date: Worldwide: April 20, 2017

To start, let’s discuss the basic premise. There’s a story to the game, but understandably its rather nonsensical. An evil, robotic cat is attempting to destroy everything and it’s your job as Chuck Norris to stop it.

It should be noted that Norris is fully aware of its meme potential, and uses and abuses this potential to its full extreme. Chuck Norris has been embedded in meme culture and this game uses memes and general joking. It is completely self-aware, and it makes the game so much more enjoyable.

You see, you begin with a baseball bat, running around and attacking enemies. Chuck automatically runs to enemies, but by tapping icons at the bottom of the screen you can perform super moves that deal more damage. Defeating enemies earns XP, which can level Chuck up, and allows more moves to be learned. After defeating enough enemies in the level, the player usually wins a prize of some sort, which are completely ridiculous. Clothing items I encountered were horse heads for armoured protection, and weapons range from rifles being used as melee weapons to gardening rakes. The prizes generally have a theme of some sort as well, like cowboy or samurai.

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Gameplay: Chuck automatically attacks enemies, and the special moves (bottom) can be activated by the player

After winning the prize, Chuck punches his way to a the next floor, and the cycle repeats. There’s a boss every couple of floors, which keeps the game interesting, and requires the levelling up of Chuck’s items. Coins are earned from defeating enemies, and upgrading weapons and armour merely costs a sum of coins. The game will tell you when it thinks you’re ready to handle the boss as well, which is nice. If you haven’t got enough coins to upgrade, you can keep defeating enemies to earn coins until you do.

And this leads me to the really fantastic game design in this game: if you leave the app, Chuck keeps fighting for you. If you leave at a boss level, Chuck will continue fighting enemies and earning coins for you while you are gone – so if you don’t have enough coins, you can leave for a couple of hours, come back, and be ready to go again. I really like how I wasn’t forced into the microtransaction market with this game.

Another interesting feature of Nonstop is its replayability. Once you reach floor 20, you’re encouraged to “open a rift”, which causes you to lose all your items and coins, but you can also use tokens you earn in boss fights to upgrade Chuck’s permanent abilities (like +100% coin gain), as well as earn one of microtransaction consumable items, an energy drink which causes Chuck to go berserk and absolutely fly through floors. While the game gives you one of these for free at the beginning, I never used it again, even though it did look really cool. Again, the game doesn’t force you into microtransactions, which really makes it easy to recommend on an app store flooded with subpar games.

Other features include doing daily missions to unlock items that can lead to pets (I earned a doge pet pretty early on, which is silly and awesome at the same time) as well as leaderboard integration, if you’re into that sort of thing. I should briefly mention the art style as well, which is a colourful cartoon style that definitely suits this game.

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The colourful, cartoony nature of Nonstop

My one major gripe with this game is that although replayability exists in levelling up Chuck and attempting to go further each time, there’s no collectible system of any sort, which means it feels like you’re not achieving much. I just wish that I could collect some of the wacky items I come across, but I can see the difficulty in implementing such a system in a game like this. I do feel like some sort of cosmetic collectables would have strengthened this game.
A minor problem I have with this game is just that some of the special attacks don’t feel like much happens – it would have been nice to have a bit more of a screen-shake when Chuck slams the ground causing an earthquake, because at the moment the special attacks just feel a little unsatisfying to use. This is a very minor problem though.

Above all, I think I can summarise this game with an example of one time I was playing: my Chuck Norris was slamming enemies with his garden rake along with his shadows, and his pet doge was attacking goons off-screen. Nonstop Chuck Norris does so much right, on a platform where games get so much frequently wrong. It’s a fun, easy-to-play game, and it doesn’t force you to use microtransactions. What more can you ask for? I give it a 4.5/5 objectively and a 4/5 subjectively.

Positives
– Great gameplay
– Good replayability
– Hilariously self-aware
– Great game design

8.5/10

Negatives
– Lack of cosmetic collectables weakens replayability
– Special moves sometime lack “oomph”.

 

Australia Day Post: Big Bash 2016 Review

Game: Big Bash 2016

Platforms: iOS, Android

Price: Free

Ah, Australia Day. The sound of snags sizzling on the barbie, splashes from pools, and of course, backyard cricket.

However, if you don’t have anyone to celebrate Australia Day, you could play cricket on Big Bash 2016, a game based on the cricket tournament of the same name.

I suppose this is going to need an explanation for my international readers. 

Cricket is a sports game where one team bats while the other fields. The fielding team has one player bowl the ball to a batsman on the pitch, who then hits the ball with his bat before running up and down the pitch to score “runs”. The batsmen keep running in the time it takes the fielders to return the ball to the bowler. If a batsmen hits it high, and it rolls over the field’s boundary, that is automatically counted as 4 runs, and a “full” hit over the boundary is automatically counted as 6. Batsmen are “out” if a ball of theirs is caught,  or if the ball hits one of the two wickets on the pitch before the batsmen crosses the “crease” (a white line before the wicket). If the batting team loses 10 wickets (10 batsmen get out) the teams switch sides, and the old fielding team (the new batting team) attempts to chase down the run total set by the old batting team.

The Big Bash is not a brawler, beat-em-up game, but the name of a T20 cricket competition in Australia, where each city competes in a tournament competition. T20 means 20 overs per side – each over consists of 6 balls, so the teams have to score the highest score they can from 120 balls.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s focus on the game.


You first choose a team (which are all fully licensed as well, which is nice), and then launch into either a quick-play game or the tournament. What is very cool is that the game offers both men and women play modes. You can also choose whether to bat or bowl first, although I think a randomiser option would have been nice, or a coin toss option like how the real-life games do it. You can also choose how many overs you play, with a variety of intervals from 2 to 20.

Bowling is nice and simplistic for the touch screen interface, it’s as easy as dragging a marker to the position you want to bowl to and then swiping up to determine the speed of the ball. You don’t actually get to control any of the fielders, but I think that was the right decision here: field control would be much too finnicky on a mobile device. However, I do think the ability to manually change the field layout would have been nice; the game randomizes (to an extent) the position of the fielders, and although that adds strategy to the bowling, the option to change the fielding position would have been a welcome addition.

Batting is even more simple, it just requires swiping in the direction you want the ball to go. The faster the swipe, the faster the ball. Runs are automatic based on ball position, which I think was also the right decision: you simply wouldn’t be able to get a good enough view of the field to determine when to run on such a small screen.


My only real complaint (the other minor things I’ve mentioned are nitpicks, really) is with the difficulty. The “normal difficulty” is ridiculously easy, my records were 3/630 for batting, which is impossible in real T20 cricket – for reference, 180 runs is a tough score to beat, the current record is about 220. In One Day Internationals, which are 50 overs, 350 runs is a tough score to beat. It’s just way too easy to smash 6s in the normal mode. I could forgive this, but it doesn’t get much better, my record on the next difficulty, “Pro”, was 10/348, which is better (I was bowled all out) but I’m still scoring ridiculously high. And then “Legend” difficulty is just ridiculous, because the bowler bowls these awful slow balls that are impossible to judge in determining when to swing. It’s so frustrating, it’s like the computer is giving you an underarm bowl. Some slower balls are expected, but not that slow. I would have much preferred that the force of the batsmen was toned down in the higher difficulty, so that 1s and 2s were more common than 6s, and where you hit the ball actually mattered and has a higher probability of being caught out, along with proper bowling. Instead, the highest difficulty feels unfair and is not much fun, and the lower difficulties are too easy and not fun. This game had so much potential for longevity, for thrilling games on the highest difficulty, but instead it just misses the mark.

Overall, I have no doubt that Big Bash 2016 deserves the title of a good game. Unfortunately, its difficulty problems cause this game to just fall short of greatness. I’m giving Big Bash 2016 3.5/5 objectively, and 3.5/5 subjectively.

Positives

+ Great control scheme for mobile devices

+ Fully licensed and inclusive of the women’s league

+ Allows wide range of game play times in the choice of overs

7/10

Negatives

– Unbalanced difficulty modes hinders longevity of the game

– Nitpicks: no randomiser for play order; no ability to edit field layout

Gamesland News: Intel, Minecraft, Samsung, and More!

The latest news from the gaming world, condensed into one post with an easy-to-read format.

News

– Intel announced an 8-Core CPU, although nothing has really been optimised for it, so its kind of pointless…for now.

– The next Dragon Slash game is going to be a real-time hack-and-slash

– The next Little Big Planet game is going to be a ‘free-to-play, platform-survival game’, also known as an endless runner. It’s coming to Android, iOS, and the PS Vita in October.

– Minecraft was released for the Xbox One and PS4, and it’s a $5 upgrade from the previous console versions (but only to the respective consoles). The PS Vita release is coming “soon”.

– The movie for Shadow of the Colossus is still happening, with the people working on the film announced. Although there’s no cast yet.

– Finally, Samsung announced their VR headset, called “Gear VR”. The headset will work with the new “Note 4” (which slips into the front of the device and acts as the screen) and has several games already announced, including a first-person Temple Run that looks very scary.

Questions? Feedback?

Leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!

That’s all the news for this week, but come back next Friday (12/09/14) for more news from the land of gaming!

Professor Games Reviews: Small City

Every so often, there are those games that no-one can find the time to play, because we’re either too busy with other games, or with life in general. However, at Gamesland, I believe that those games still need to be reviewed. So, every so often, we’ll ask some people (our friends and family) to review games for us. These people adopt the persona of Professor Games; so that you, the readers, can understand who they are. Today’s guest is largely a casual gamer; and enjoys the genre of the casual simulation – games that have you build up a town, city, tower, or empire, and attempt to manage it. Today Professor Games shall review Small City.

– the editor (JaJaBinks2)

Game name: Small City

Available on: iOS, Google Play

Price: Free

In Small City, there is no story-line. You get to take as much time as you want with the game and move forward at your own pace. Basically, you have to build shops and houses for the people in the game and you are the mayor. You have to save up coins to buy a house or a store to move on. For the people in your city you can buy costumes and pets. These cost a rarer type of money in the game called small bucks. By buying more houses and shops you get prizes such as small bucks. There are challenges that you have to complete to level up and you obtain prizes for it. As well as buying shops and houses, you get to give people in your city taxi rides. You get to buy different taxis and speed it up, but these cost small bucks as well. I think the set-out works. The graphics are great and clear and I think it gives a really good, comfortable feel to the game.

Some of the flaws in the game include:

  1. You can only add friends by Facebook – this is very frustrating because you are connected by GameCentre but can’t add friends from there. Also, a few challenges have to include friends, this is impossible to do unless you have Facebook
  2. As you get further into the game, the longer it takes for buildings to build – at the start of the game it’s something around one minute of waiting and once you reach building 15 it’s already two hours of waiting. Of course you can use small bucks to speed it up but as I said before, those are hard to get
  3. Like buildings, restocking your shops takes a long time as well – in one of my stores, the lowest amount of time is 43 minutes to restock. It is very frustrating when you don’t have anything else to do
  4. At the start of the game, your taxi is really slow and if you don’t save up your small bucks, you are going to have to wait a really long time for the taxi to even arrive to the person.

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Mobile Week: Day 8 – Survivalcraft Experiments

Available On: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Amazon Kindle

Price: $4.49

Reviewed On: iOS

Ah, well hello there. My name is Professor Games. I am a worker at the Gamesland lab, and from now on I will occasionally be reviewing apps that I’ve deconstructed in my lab. Today we shall be looking at the not-quite Minecraft clone,  Survivalcraft, available exclusively on mobile devices, to finish off mobile week 2013.

While you are initially abandoned from your boat, there is no other story, other than the one you make yourself. It is a story about your survival. What’s good about the game is that the blocks are varied. You can have everything from coloured wood to different types of leaves. This means that it is very easy to create whatever you want, like pixelart, or if you really wanted to, DNA! This is helped by the fact that you can download many of different texture packs through the app, unlike Minecraft. Ironically, there’s even a texture pack to make Survivalcraft look like Minecraft. There’s also a variety of different animals, such as: wolves, cows, polar bears, giraffes, zebras, whales, and even emus, although there’s many, many more than that. In addition, many of these animals can be spawned as well using special spawners. What’s very good, however, is that this game is like Minecraft. A lot of the core mechanics are the same, but this game keeps things way more interesting than Minecraft‘s mobile game. For example, you can download the aforementioned texture packs, or even download other people’s worlds! There’s also electronics (far more advanced than any red stone) that kept me happy for a long time…I really enjoyed messing around with the electronics.

Unfortunately, there’s a few problems with Survivalcraft that its competitor doesn’t have. It sometimes crashes. There’s a few glitches, like when some wolves decided to walk through glass and come get me! But perhaps its biggest problem is that you can die really easily, even on the easiest setting. Occasionally, I got killed with one hit from a wolf. Also, on creative mode, you can still die by falling into something, unlike Minecraft, where you are invincible in creative mode! But from a one-man game, across four devices, we weren’t expecting it to be perfect. But he always keeps his fans updated, over at his blog, where he constantly lets them know of new updates. How often do you find out about the mobile Minecraft updates?

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Mobile Week: Day 7 – Ships ‘N’ Battles Review

Available On: iOS, Google Play
Price: SD: $0.99 HD: $1.99
Reviewed On: iOS (HD version)

Ships ‘N’ Battles is another small indie title for mobile devices. The main idea of the game is that it’s an unofficial iOS port of the real-life boardgame Battleship. It’s done surprisingly well for an indie title.

The main aspect of the game is still the same, but with touch functionality. You tap a square of a board, tap that square again to confirm and launch a missile there. If it hits something, well done. If it doesn’t, there’s the chance (in this mobile game, at least) to get a power up, which might be to annihilate an entire row or column, or it might be a radar which tells you how many ships are in a particular area. These elements keep what might have been an oridnary port fresh and alive. The graphics are also quite nice, bordering the line between cartoon ships and realistsic water. You can also change the time of the battle (e.g. night instead morning), but the game automatically chooses the time corresponding to what time it is in real life. All the ships are still there, from the one-square submarine to the four-square battleship. Also included is multiplayer functionality, which includes battles over BlueTooth, Local WiFi, Game Centre (or its Android equivelant, I presume), or Worldwide, which means that someone playing on iOS can verse someone who has Android. Unfortunately, hardly anybody was on when I checked, and the only singleplayer options are four different AI modes…easy, medium, hard, and “extreme”, although “extreme” still doesn’t feel like much of a challenge. Fortunately, I was able to beat some friends and family with the Bluetooth mode.

That’s this game’s only real flaw. It’s just too short for the $1.99 HD price, and the graphics just don’t make up for it. But if you’re looking at getting this for a phone, and you can get someone else to download it so you can verse eachother, than I think this is a great option. Just get the $0.99 version.

Pros
– Faithful to the original board game.
– Has made it specifically for mobile, not a port.
– Power Ups keep the game alive.
– Lots of different multiplayer support options: BlueTooth, Local WiFi, Game Centre, Global

Cons
– Only four different singleplayer AI options
– HD is too high a pricepoint, as the graphics don’t make up for this games shortness.

Mobile Week – Day 4: Pocket Trains Review

Available On: iOS, Google Play

Price: Free

Reviewed On: iOS

Pocket Trains is the sequel to the highly successful title Pocket Planes, released last year. The game sees you taking control of a few trains and trying to create a highly successful train empire. Along the way, you’ll purchase new regions, trains, and tracks.

The most important change to this title is the fact that whenever you buy a new train, you have to buy a track for it as well. Trains cannot run on a different train’s tracks, so you’ll want the track to be long enough to ensure that it’s worth putting a train on it, but short enough so that it won’t run out of petrol travelling along the track. This can cost quite a bit of coins, but it’s well worth it.

Another change is that events now happen only in cities that you have tracks running to. This made most of them seem quite do-able, as opposed to Pocket Planes, where they quite often happened on the other side of the world. Bux (the premium currency) are now a lot easier to get now as well, with the missions that deliver them giving you 10+ bux often. But that doesn’t come without its costs, now things that costs bux  now cost more bux, as opening a train crate will cost you 10 bux.

The process to get more trains is now simplified. Instead of tracking down certain parts like you had to do in it’s predecessor, you now open one train crate for 10 bux and hope it completes a set you have started.

However, just as I had started getting into the game, it said something like ” Someone spilt orange juice on the controls! Fix now for 10000 coins or 1 bux?” and then you had to choose between the two. It just felt wrong to me, and I feel like that should have been left out. It is a freemium model, but Pocket Planes didn’t have to resort to that. It’s made worse by the fact that there’s not even an option to wait for 5 minutes for it to fix.

Ultimately, I haven’t played Pocket Trains for long, but it doesn’t just feel as entertaining as its predecessor. The freemium model is just too outstanding here, and I ultimately think that Pocket Planes is the better game. I hope Pocket Boats is a bit better than this (if it comes).

Pros

– Nice Retro Artwork

– Fans of the games will enjoy it

– Good train-based ideas in the game (e.g. tracks)

– Bux are easier to get, but the ratio of bux to purchase is roughly the same.

Cons

– Freemium model really shows out

– “Pay to fix” the train

– Can be slow at the start, which leads to boredom.