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”.

 

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Jetpack Joyride’s Easter Update is a Fun Easter Egg Hunt

Jetpack Joyride is just one of developer Halfbrick’s success stories – not only is it one of the most popular games on iOS, but most casual gamers would recognise either this game or Halfbrick’s other breakthrough game, Fruit Ninja.

A few years ago, Jetpack Joyride went free-to-play and it can be debated how good of a decision that was for the game. I picked it up again as a result of this update, and the game’s certainly changed a lot since I first played it way back in 2011, although I may save my thoughts for a proper review later.

The Easter Update (or “Eggstravaganza” as the developers are calling it) features a new vehicle skin and outfit. The skin can only be bought, but the outfit can be collected by collecting 1800 floating eggs in the game before the event ends (which is about 9 days from now). This isn’t a particularly difficult task – I routinely get 20 eggs in gameplay, and generally at least 10, which means you’d only need to play the game around 15 times a day to get the outfit, which given how short Joyride‘s playtimes are, isn’t a particularly difficult task. Another big plus from me is the lucrative coin spawns that come with the event – one in particular spells out “chocolate”, which is a nice 300 coins (when I first played, I would struggle to get 300 coins per game, now I can routinely hit 1000+ per game in this update).

I’m not going to give the update a score (I don’t think there’s enough content here to warrant a score like a full game) but this is a great update to an already great game. I would definitely recommend picking it up if you’re looking for an easy, fun mobile game.

Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 2 Review

When I played Season 1 of Telltale’s unique storytelling game set in the world of The Walking Dead, I absolutely loved it – it was my game of the year of 2014.

Will season 2 of this series be able to retain everything which made the first so great? Or will it fail?

Game: Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 2

Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, iOS, Android, PS Vita (Reviewed)

Price: $25 for the full season ($5 per episode)

For those of you that have never played, read, or watched anything to do with The Walking Dead, it’s essentially a zombie apocalypse story that focuses on the survivors and their problems in a world where everything is scarce.

Following on from the events in the first game, you control Clementine, a nine year old girl. The opening starts only a couple of months after the ending of the first game, but before long the game skips eighteen months. This is done, partially, to allow Clementine to develop into her own character. In Season 1 she was a major secondary character, but here she is the playable character, so it’s important to distinguish her a little.

clementine

What I immediately noticed about this game is how much darker it is. This is evident not only from its high age rating, but also from the general atmosphere and artwork. While the first game did have some bright artwork, here the majority of the action is gloomy and upsetting: and sure, this is a gloomy and upsetting story, but some variation would have been nice. At the moment, there’s barely any sort of variation between episodes.

Each episode is its own story, but they all are part of a larger arc. The main story here revolves around Clementine trying to find a new group of survivors and her journey with them, which is an interesting story as she soon gets swept up into a series of events that affect her and her group.

One of the problems I had in this season is that it felt like my choices didn’t matter. Now while I don’t mind the illusion of choice, this game doesn’t allow the role-playing experience the first season had. In the first game you controlled Lee, who acted as a father figure to Clementine since the death of her own parents. Some of the best choices you made as Lee had nothing to do with the story, but how you personally chose to raise Clementine. Examples that spring to mind include punching someone a few times but not enough to seriously damage him, not stealing out of the boot of a car, and so on. These choices had little-to-no effect on the story, but it felt like I was choosing what to do in this world, which I feel is just as important as the major decisions. Here, it’s fairly obvious the major decisions don’t have a major effect (saving characters will just result in them silently in the background) but there’s so little of these minor, role-playing decisions that it doesn’t matter anyway.

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The linear plot itself is pretty decent, featuring some returning characters from season 1 and an exhilarating final episode climax.

The artwork is quite nice, as mentioned previously it’s dark and gloomy but it suits the story. This is definitely a cinematic experience, so I would recommend playing it on a big screen. Season 1 was pretty good on the small Vita screen, but season 2 wasn’t as good on the small screen. I would recommend a console purchase for the full experience.

The sound was decent, the highlight of course being the songs that play during the credits of each episode. There’s nothing really special about the in-episode sound though, but given this is a dialogue-heavy game I don’t expect much from the music anyway.

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The biggest failure of this game was its lack of optimisation. It was occasionally slow and had some bugs; for instance at one point the dialogue for a scene played while the scene was still loading and then I had to watch the scene in silence. Episode 3 also crashed to the home screen at one point, which was a little upsetting but fortunately I was able to load from the most recent scene. I can’t comment on the other platforms, but I would recommend avoiding the PS Vita version, as it is, out of the platforms I’ve played Telltale games on, the least optimised.

So let’s some up what we have here: a good plot, decent storytelling, good gameplay, and good graphics. What we have here is a good game, but unfortunately one that just falls shy of the great and amazing games I am used to from Telltale. I give The Walking Dead: Season 2 a 3.5/5 objectively and a 3.5/5 subjectively.

Positives

+ Good Plot

+ Good Graphics

7/10

Negatives

– Decisions not as good as expected from Telltale

– Bugs and other optimisation issues

 

Mobile Game of the Year 2014

And this year’s mobile game of the year is (drum roll please)…

FTL: Faster Than Light!

The game was wonderfully ported to touch screen, and has a lot of content, scenarios, and, simply put, is one of the best games available on mobile devices.

Congratulations to FTL: Faster Than Light for being Gamesland’s mobile game of the year for 2014!

 

Crazy Taxi

Mobile Week Day 4: Crazy Taxi Review

Is this a crazy-good port, or a crazy bad one?

Game: Crazy Taxi

Price: $6.49

Crazy Taxi was originally an arcade game, and that’s pretty clear to see here. It’s a game where you have to drive customers around a city (San Francisco) in a time limit, and try to score the most points.

And this port is pretty good. There’s only four buttons: one to go left, one to go right, one to accelerate, and one to decelerate. This means that the game is pretty simple, but it works.

This simplicity means that the game’s challenge is solely on scoring the most points. After you play a few games, you’ll find the best routes, and roughly where certain customers want to go, and where there’s no point going, and how to get bonus points, and then you come to the realisation of how complex this game is.

The graphics are nothing special – it is a port of a pretty old game after all – but I do wish they were touched up a bit for this re-release.

There’s also a few different modes you can play, but this only really changes whether there’s a set time limit or whether you have to keep it going.

There’s a few different drivers to play as as well, but again, these have no other effect other than cosmetics.

With all that being said though, the game’s still a pretty fun game. I got it back when it was free, but now that it’s  $6.49, it’s slightly different.

If you were a fan of the old games I would suggest that this game is great for you. Otherwise, I wouldn’t. There’s better things on the app store.

Positive

– Fun

– Good Controls

– Decent Port

6.5/10

Negative

– Expensive for what it is

– Sub-par graphics

First Thoughts – Band Stars

A small little title appeared on the Australian and Canadian App Stores today. That game was a new game from Halfbrick and Six Foot Kids, titled Band Stars. It’s currently only on the Australian and Canadian app stores, with a global release planned “before the end of the year”. Nevertheless, it was free so I decided to have a look at it. It’s actually really good.

You start off by having to choose your band members (you can choose from more later) and then start recording a song, which will then (hopefully) become a hit. When recording the song, you have to choose a genre, lyrics, and publisher. If it becomes a hit, you can then use “drink” to make it go viral, thus boosting your sing further up the charts, and with that comes more profit. Along the way you figure out which combinations of genres and lyrics go together, and be able to make better songs.

The free-to-play style works well, with real-world money being used to purchase in-game money, “drink”, and Inspirados, which I’m not sure are for, but I think it has something to do with how good you are at making songs. There’s a few problems with the game, the obvious being that one genre with lyrics will sound exactly the same to the same genre with different lyrics, but we weren’t expecting too much.

If you live in Australia or Canada, it’s worth taking a look at, being free, but for the rest of the world, I’ll post a review when it’s released worldwide. Sit tight until then.