A Fish out of Water

Mobile Week Day 1: Fish Out of Water! Review

It’s that time of year again folks, it is time for Mobile Week 2014, where we take a look at the games available for mobile devices, in an effort to showcase the best of mobile devices. First up: Halfbrick’s A Fish Out of Water!.

Fish Out of Water! is a game that takes the scoring system of judges holding up cards, and applies it to fish just skimming along water. It’s a little bit like being judged on how well you can skim stones across water, but if some stones were balloons and others rocket ships.

The game is fairly simple, like most other Halfbrick games it has a simple control scheme determined by a single action: here, it’s a flick. A simple flick on the touch screen will cause one of the fish to fly off into the distance along the ocean top.

At the end of each run (each using three different fish), the judges give a score based on the number of skips and distance travelled.

A Fish out of Water

I feel that I should mention the fish here. Each fish has a distinctive style, and even has a name.

  • Olympus is a typical fish, and is an all-rounder at both styles.
  • Micro is a whale, and is brilliant and giant jumps that enable him to travel large distances.
  • Rocket is a fish that goes very fast, and is best at lots of skips (but is able to go averagely far)
  • Errol is a puffer fish, and bounces along the surface. He’s also an all-rounder.
  • Finlay is a dolphin, and spends an equal amount of time above and below the surface of the water. He can be used for either distance or skips.
  • Finally, the brothers are fish that split up, and give a huge contribution to the number of skips. However, they never go very far.

Typically, I found myself using Errol, Rocket and finishing with Micro, but I would occasionally change my lineup when the  weather changed.

Yes, this game has a weather system, which affects the surface of the water. This means that every 10 minutes, the weather will change. While some don’t affect the surface much, others – such as a thunderstorm – make the surface very rough and render fish that require the surface to be smooth to go far – such as rocket – useless.

Rocket

Of course, the game isn’t that simple. In addition to this the fish can pick up boost orbs which add to the boost metre, which, when the screen is tapped, increase a fish’s speed. The judges also have a different set of criteria, for example on judge prefers runs with a higher number of skips, while another prefers runs that have a large distance.

The game also has the typical Halfbrick progression scheme, not unlike Jetpack Joyride: there are three missions at any one time, each revolving around doing something (such as travelling above a line, performing 30 skips with Finlay, flying through hoops, etc.), and upon completion, you “level up”, which means that you unlock some crystals. Crystals can be used to craft bonuses, or unlock…costumes. Costumes in this game give a new cosmetic look to character, as well as increasing a particular trait of that character, such as how high they skip or how fast they go.

Now while the game is good fun for a while, after a little while it becomes fairly boring. Unfortunately the changing weather doesn’t alter the game enough to replay too often, and the missions repeat themselves fairly often, but with slightly different numbers.

Positives

– Great Premise

– Great, simplistic gameplay

– Cutesy Graphics

– Unlockables

– Different Characters

– Different ways to play

– Weather changes

Score A Fish Out of Water

Negatives

– Becomes bland after a while

– Missions repeated often with slight changes

Advertisements

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?

B+.fw

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 6 – Turbofly Review

Available On: iOS, Google Play

Price: $0.99

Reviewed On: iOS

Turbofly is a small indie racing title that’s been described as a new gen F-Zero (a futuristic racer for the NES that got sequels up until 2004). I got it when a few months back, and it’s one of the best indie titles I’ve ever played.

Turbofly is a futuristic-styled racer based on the unity engine. There’s boosts and missiles and a whole host of other racers, it has game centre intergration, and there’s around 25 races, but only about 5 locations, but these locations have “frozen” version of themselves. The races steadily get more difficult, feeling like a challenge later on, while not being frustrating. There’s generally 4 laps per track, with around 25 races as mentioned above. That’s very short, and it shows, as this game will only take about half an hour to forty five minutes to complete, but you can go back and try to get the fastest time for game centre leaderboards.

Unfortunately, there’s no multiplayer racing yet, not over WiFi or LAN, and that feels like a missed oppitunity. The game would have so much more replay value if that was implemented. All in All, Turbofly is a great little indie title. I really enjoyed playing it, and although there’s better racers out there that are free or free-to-play (like Real Racing 3), Turbofly is a great, small-cost title.

Pros
– Graphics are futuristic
– Boosts and weapons
– Game Centre leaderboard intergration
– Racing feels realistic enough, but feels like a kart racer at the same time.

Cons
– Not many Locations
– Not many racers, and so is a very short game
– No replay value provided in WiFi or LAN races.

Mobile Week – Day 5: Pitfall Review

Available On: iOS, Android

Price: Free

Reviewed On: iOS

Pitfall was originally an Atari game released in 1982. Now, it’s been rebooted to Mobile devices for a new audience, and it’s now in the form of an endless runner. Having never played the original game, I was hoping that this was good.

It’s quite a nice looking game, with a contrast added to the graphics. It makes it look very 80’s. The game is the same as just about every other endless runner out there, but this one plays out in landscape mode, and also sees you having a weapon: a whip. You tap the screen to use this whip, and you’ll need to do that to swing across ledges, or kill animals like snakes or scorpians. The game also has additions, like a jaguar thing you can ride on, and areas like caves. Most importantly, and appearing far before Temple Run 2, is the minecart section.

The game features coins which you can use to increase the amount of time you get to ride the jaguar thing, purchase second lives, or buy new outfits. It’s the usual endless-runner affair.

All in all, this is a very good game, but it feels just a bit too much like other endless runners, like Temple Run. But the exploration and graphics are quite nice, and being a free game, I highly reccomend you download it.

Pros
– 80’s graphics
– Different areas
– Minecart section (far before Temple Run 2
– Jaguar thing to ride on

Cons
– Too much like others in its genre
– Gets boring after a few plays

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.

Mobile Week – Day 3: Monopoly for iPad Review

Available On: iOS (iPhone and iPod different to iPad version), Google Play

Reviewed On: iPad iOS version

Price: iPhone and iPod (iOS): $0.99 

iPad (iOS): $7.49 (AU, $6.99 American version)

Android: $5.17

So many ports! What is going on with Mobile week, I’m just reviewing ports of every game available (that should change tomorrow, however). Monopoly is, of course, a port of the highly successful board game from Parker Brothers, and this version is made by Electronic Arts.

Background Information About the Board Game

 

The board game, for those of you that don’t know, revolves around the players having to go around a board consisting of 40 spaces with 28 of them being properties that the player can buy. 22 of these properties are “streets” with three streets belonging to a colour group. When all the streets in a colour group have been bought, the player is able to build houses, and later, hotels on them. When another player lands on a street owned by a different player, they have to pay that player rent, and with more houses comes more rent, with a hotel having some quite costly rent prices. 4 of the streets are slightly different, consisting of only two streets to a group. The brown colour set is just after the “Go” space, and is the cheapest to own, place houses, and pay rent to the owner, while the dark blue colour group comes just before the “Go” space, and is the most expensive to own. The price of properties steadily increases as you go around the board. Also, there are four railroads, owning all four will collect $200 in rent each time a player lands on one, and there are two utilities, owning both will give you x10 the amount of the dice roll in rent. There are four corner spaces “Go”, which every time you pass it will give you $200, Jail, which you’re only in if you roll doubles three times in a row, get a chance card, or land on on one of the other corner squares: “Go to Jail”. Otherwise, you’re “just visiting” the jail. The last corner spot is “free parking”. There is the addition of Chance and Community Chest cards, which will either give you something good or something bad.

End of Background Information

This port is quite good. The dice have real physics to them, so if they bump together, the numbers will change, or if they roll over the card piles, the numbers will change again. Everything is mechanical in this game, so your icon will move whatever you rolled, and the bank will automatically give you $200 every time you pass “Go”, or will automatically pay you or another player for rent. All the player(s) have to do is choose whether or not to buy a property! Of course, when you do go into debt, you can choose which properties to mortgage, or indeed, let the computer do it for you! The AI is good, I found that I was able to beat the AI on hard, but when I challenged them again, I found that I lost. I think I just got lucky that first time. However, when playing with 3 AI and myself, when I got bankrupt second, the AI whose turn it was just after mine resigned and the other AI won! It would have been pretty cool to see the two AI battle it out, but maybe that’s more a convenience thing to players. Also convenient is the fact that you can leave the game at any time, and come back and resume exactly where you left off.  There’s also some multiplayer options: a “pass and play”, where you pass the device on to another player, or a local Bluetooth and WiFi mode, if you have two devices. I was only able to test out the pass and play with a friend, so I don’t know how quick the Bluetooth or WiFi options are. It’s also slightly disappointing that you can’t challenge someone over WiFi to anywhere in the world. I know that some players might not have the time to play a potentially long game like that, but it could play out like Draw Something, where you take a turn, and the other player takes a turn when they feel like it. I know it’s not perfect, but at least it caters to everybody.

There’s not much wrong with this game, it does get boring fairly quickly, but House Rules are able to be changed (what if I change the amount of starting money, or the amount of pass “Go” money?), and I think there’s a bit of fun to be had here, especially if you like the board game, but you don’t like packing up each time you start a game because you’re busy, or you don’t have anyone to play the board game with. I think this version is much better than the board game, because it’s a lot simpler and doesn’t require you to pack up!

Pros

– Same as board game

– Bank Automatic

– Different levels of AI (very easy – hard)

– House Rules are able to be changed

– No packing up

– Can challenge AI characters

– Can challenge someone else close to you via Bluetooth/WiFi

Cons

– Can’t challenge people over WiFi in different parts of the world

– Gets boring after two games (even on different difficulties)