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

Mobile Week Day 5: Cube Racer

Cube Racer is a port of a well-known PC flash game – but how well does it stack up?

Game: Cube Racer
Platoform: iOS
Price: $0.99

The game is an “endless runner” of sorts, but instead of upgrades for your character and so on, your objective is simply to get the highest score possible.

To do this, you’ll use the device’s accelerometer to maneouver your way through a series of cubes scattered along a plane, which are randomly generated.
But not all the time. Sometimes, the cubes aren’t randomly generated, and every so often, they will predictably move into a set of patterns. While this is difficult to adjust to at first after the randomly generated sections, eventually they provide sections of safety while you absent-mindedly navigate through them, then move to the next section.
This next section will have different colours, but soon these will become new colours again after another randomly generated section. Rinse and repeat.

Which is really this game’s big flaw: since this is the only thing to do, it gets boring rather quick. It’s a fun way to pass the time, but I wouldn’t pay money for it.

Positive
– Good to pass time

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Negative
– Not enough content to justify a price

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!

All Halfbrick games free on iOS

For a limited time only, all Halfbrick games, from 2010 – 2014, are free on iOS. These include their newest game, Birzzle Fever, along with all their other classics, such as Fruit Ninja, Age of Zombies, and Colossatron: Massive World Threat.
Certain HD versions of games are also available.
Halfbrick makes great games, so don’t miss out on this offer!
For download links, and further information, go their blog post here: http://halfbrick.com/from-the-blog/all-halfbrick-games-free-on-ios/

Gamesland News

News
Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix is being released on the 1st of December this year in the United States, or the 5th of December in Europe. While I haven’t finished the first game, I really liked the style of it, and I’m looking forward to playing this.
– iOS 8 has been confirmed, which has a bunch of new features. Apple will be announcing further details later in the year.
– E3 is coming up, so of course there’ll be lots of game releases from all companies.
Dead Rising 3 is coming to PC soon.

That’s all the news for this week, but tune in next Friday (13.06.14) 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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Lego Star Wars Saga iOS Review

Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, Windows, Mac, Wii, Nintendo DS, iOS (full version)

Reviewed On: iOS

When Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga was released on the app store earlier in the year (although I only found out about it on my holiday), I immediately jumped at the chance to play it. I’d played the lego prequels on the PS2, in fact, they were one of the first games I ever played, so I was amazed at how something from the PS2 could work on an iPad. Even though I’d recently been playing the remastered Grand Theft Auto III on iOS, I’d never played the original, so this gave me an opportunity to see how things have been improved, or maybe failed to work as well, in the iOS version.

When the game first loads, your in a familiar location to most Star Wars fans: the Mos Eisly Cantina,  an alien bar. When I was playing the game, the default controls were touch (although they have now given you the option to choose when creating a new game), I quickly changed the controls to the “classic” controls, which meant there was an on-screen analogue stick and buttons. The controls have been mapped well, and are in the same position which I remember being on the PS2. There are a few issues, but we’ll get to that soon. There’s only one of the 6 episodes available for free with the download, with the other episodes costing $1.99 each, and bonus missions available for $0.99. You can’t create a character, purchase anything from the bar (such as characters and red blocks, which are items that do something crazy when playing, such as making the floor slippery) or do free-play mode, a mode where a bunch of characters that aren’t available in the normal “story” mode can go into the level. This is generally done to get extras in a level, an example of it would be taking Darth Vader into a chapter from episode one.

For those of you that don’t know the story of the first episode of Star Wars, titled The Phantom Menace, it takes place  a long, long time ago in a galaxy far away, and if you want to listen to a musical version of the story, in a parody of Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie by Weird Al Jankovic, you can listen to that here. But the main idea is that 2 Jedi’s go to this planet called Naboo, which this Federation called the …Trade Federation is invading for no reason other than they can, using droids as soldiers. On Naboo live two species, the human ones, and the gungans, which nobody talks about. They’d never helped each other out before, but they start now, to help each other defeat the Trade Federation. That’s the background behind it, but the game has cutscenes between story episodes to tell you the story, and they do a good job, even if you haven’t seen the movie. I’ve never really understood why the prequels cop so much hate from the fan-base but that might just be because I never re-watched the movie after playing the games, which tell the story in a humorous way.

The gameplay is the usual LEGO affair: you progress through a level, solving relatively easy puzzles which are often solved using the force or a blaster, gather coins, and fight baddies, in this case, droids. Droids are generally killed in one or two hits, but there is a tougher type with a force field. Light sabres differ up the combat a little, however, as you are able to deflect bullets back to the attacker. In addition to this, there are gold and red blocks to unlock. You acquire one gold block when you finish the level, one when you acquire “True Jedi”, which requires you to collect a lot of coins in a level to fill up a bar, and one when you collect all ten “mini-kits” in a level, which are LEGO pieces which build together into a small LEGO kit when all of them are collected in a level, an example of one is a ship. This means that there are 18 Gold bricks in episode one to collect, but the mini-kits often require additional characters to obtain all the pieces, so you’ll probably only get twelve in the free game. Red bricks give access to a crazy ability which turns the game on it’s head, and these often also require the use of additional characters, and to use the ability you have to purchase it, none of which you can do in the free version of the game. I only found one in my time with the free version of the game; specifically, part 5.

There are few problems with this game, but the flaws that exist are very important to gameplay aspects. Firstly, the graphics are alright, but they’re nothing special. I think that they’ve now updated the game to have retina graphics, but I didn’t really mind during my play through – I still think they’re better than the PS2 graphics. It’s also very difficult to judge what direction to jump in, especially during the parts where you view the action side-on. You think you’re heading straight, but then you’ll fall off the edge and realise you were heading at a diagonal. Fortunately, you don’t lose any studs (in-game currency) when you fall off, which I think has been added here – I think you lost studs in the original, but it’s been so long since I’ve played it. Lastly, the on-screen analogue stick and button controls are not the greatest control scheme. It can be really difficult to control the characters using the analogue stick, especially during the pod race episode, which is the racing equivalent of the Star Wars universe. My pod racer was just out of control, and it kept on smashing into things. Part of this was to do with how fast the pod goes, but the other part is the analogue stick, which is just too sluggish to respond properly at the speed. It’s been updated since, but I tried it again and there was only a minor difference. Unfortunately, there is no controller support as of yet, but hopefully Traveller’s Tales updates the app to include this functionality in the future, as controllers become more popular and make the game easier to play.

To finalise, I really enjoyed playing this again on iOS. It amazes me to see a game I played extensively on the PS2 on iOS, and I plan on buying all the episodes, because it’s just too good a price to pass up. I’ll review it after I do that, but until then, I think this is worth a download, just because it’s free, and you can decide whether to buy the other episodes if you like the controls, otherwise, you can delete it.

Pros

– Graphics have been remastered from the console versions.

– Is the full game, and has not been scaled down for iOS.

– Gameplay still holds up after many years.

– Very cheap, especially when compared to the original version.

– Vehicles have been added.

– Don’t lose studs when die from falling off an edge.

Cons

– Direction is hard to tell, and can be frustrating during side-on platforming sequences where jumping is required.

– “Classic” controls don’t quite do the game justice.

– Can’t buy characters, do free-play mode, or unlock certain hidden collectibles without buying another episode pack.

– No controller support seems bizarre, as the original was meant to be played on a controller.