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Deadly Tower of Monsters, The (PC) Review

January 25th, 2016 Posted in Game Reviews, Games 1 Comment »

Developer: ACE Team | Publisher: Atlus USA || Overall: 8.5

B-Movie science fiction is always characterized by its low-budget charm.  You could see right through the awful costumes, terrible props, and strings the monsters would hang off from — all of which added to the fun.  The Deadly Tower of Monsters seeks to recapture this aesthetic of effects supplanted by computer graphics… by replicating them with computer graphics.

ACE Team, the developer of The Deadly Tower of Monsters, did an amazing job in recreating the B-Movie feel as you play, keeping it interesting throughout.  The set up for the story begins as if you are watching the “movie” on DVD with commentary by the belligerent director, Dan Smith.  As you defeat stop-motion monsters, while completing missions across the sprawling tower, Dan Smith will acknowledge and give background on certain aspects of the production — breaking the fourth/”fifth” wall, reminding you that you are “watching a movie” while playing the game, or rather listening in on the recording session for said commentary.  There are a lot of layers here.

Though the game is not usually laugh-out-loud funny (there are a few great jokes), it is entirely tongue-in-cheek.  Throughout, they introduce new elements that kept me consistently amused.  The attention to detail adds to the goal of being a successful B-Movie homage and the commentary track spreads a layer of cynicism about the film industry on top.  It is important to listen to the commentary while you play, as it is an integral part of the story, and the uniqueness of the game.  Your typical gaming tropes are also explained away using movie tropes, such as blaming watching deleted scenes for when you die and the director “intentionally” wanting the actor to stand still for five minutes “because it is artistic” if you decide to idle for a while.  Some of these tropes are less clever than others, but the narrative essentially includes all of your deaths and “mistakes” as part of the experience.

The visuals and art style are very important to the successful execution of the B-movie homage.  A stop-motion frame-rate effect is used on many of the monsters and is one of the best effects used.  Since most of the game runs at a higher-frame rate than an actual movie would, the most “filmic” part of the game comes with the stop-motion effect and serves to distinguish it from the rest of the “movie” quite well.  Homage is paid to practically every genre of classical sci-fi, with obvious references to Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and others including dinosaurs, bugs, an evil scientist, giant robots, clones, and a galactic emperor among a wide range of other characters and monsters.

The level design of the tower is essentially a humongous and vertically sprawling 3D platforming level.  You will go for what seems like miles in mostly one direction: up.  While the prevailing theme is space technology, on the ground-level you will encounter things like mutant insects and dinosaurs.  As you climb, the tower is very elaborate and changes themes more meticulously within science fiction.  You will encounter aliens, disembodied brains, space slugs, and other fun monsters.  All parts of the tower are fluidly accessible, and there are no loading screens unless you warp around to checkpoints.

The tower is used to the game’s advantage occasionally.  You are usually tasked with shooting enemies from below in reverse-Space-Invaders style.  At any time you can be knocked off the tower, sending you into a free-fall towards the bottom; mistiming your platforming will also have the same result.  To counteract the annoyance of having to re-scale the tower you can easily warp to any checkpoint, or use an “Air Teleport” button that is available if you haven’t landed on another platform yet.  You also take fall-damage and have a very low amount of jetpack fuel to adjust and break your fall.  Unfortunately, you are not allowed to control the camera very much, which can be annoying at times, but it wouldn’t make sense in the context of watching a movie to be able to switch an angle at any time.  On the plus side, the platforming is designed well enough where this isn’t usually an issue.  For similar reasons, the game is very linear and there isn’t as much exploring to do as you might expect in a 3D platformer.

Combat gameplay is fun and light, and the weapon variety is also great.  Enemies and weapons alike keep the “B-Movie” aesthetic, where you can plainly see re-purposed household items or other everyday items, such as a vacuum cleaner or a puppy, being used as space-age weaponry and monsters.  As you have access to three different characters, their real difference comes in their special abilities.  Dick Starspeed is able to use landmines, Scarlet Nova has a running speed ability, and The Robot is able to use a time vortex ability.  All of the characters will gain more unique abilities you can use during combat and only cost a time-based cooldown, whereas your energy weapons deplete from an energy bar.

Upgrading weaponry, skills, switching characters, and other gameplay systems are accessed via in-game computer consoles.  While they show up often enough, it can detract from the “joy” of playing around with the progression systems and possibly even the “movie” aesthetic.  The systems aren’t very complicated, but it is sort of questionable why they give you 16 different weapons, but only allow you to have access to four at any given time before switching around at a console.  It would have felt better to be able to switch out weaponry through a pause menu (a prop closet?) since in-game consoles aren’t necessarily used in an intriguing gameplay fashion other than to be more props to put in the levels.  The in-game consoles bring up a game-based UI regardless, so the argument for being immersive doesn’t hold very much weight.  It might have also been more convenient to halve the variety of weapons and allow you to use them at all times; instead I just keep four random weapons and rarely trade them out.  Despite that, the variety of weaponry is still a nice part of the game.

Difficulty and challenges in the game are not too bad.  If you die, checkpoints are usually pretty close to where you could possibly die.  That isn’t to say you don’t need to play smart (as health is hard to come by), but the only real punishment for dying is wasting time.  Puzzles aren’t too trying on the intelligence and there’s only a few situations where you need to use one of your special abilities to get items or into certain areas.  There are also miscellaneous missions that aren’t easily earned on your first trek up and will require you to backtrack certain parts of the tower to complete.  One fun side-quest is jumping off the tower and skydiving into floating hoops, using the tower’s height to the game’s advantage.  The game can be pretty short as well, but its nice to be able to get through a whole game in a couple of days.

If you are a fan of classic film and games, you will get a blast out of The Deadly Tower of Monsters.  Even if you aren’t knowledgeable about older sci-fi film, it is a light, fun, and short game that is visually pleasing and humorous.  It is available now on Steam at a sale price of $9.89, and regularly priced at $14.99.

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Message Quest (PC) Review

December 31st, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Royal Troupe || Overall: 7.5

Heroes come in all shapes and size, and that’s precisely the problem in Message Quest. Published and Developed by Royal Troupe, Message Quest takes a step back from the usual hero’s story and focuses more on the one that literally delivers the hero’s call rather than the hero receiving it. Set in a land about to fall to ruin, the laziest member of the Order of Heralds must deliver an important scroll to an even more important hero in an attempt to save Avarange. The problem is that Feste, our main character, would much rather laze about than bother finding a hero who could be just about anybody. Thus leaving the player as both his conscience and fourth-wall-breaking audience member, you must goad, manipulate and eventually encourage Feste to complete his noble quest. The player will find a point-and-click adventure along the way.

Who Done It
Unfortunately, the answer to who killed Mr. Boddy remains
to be found.

The first thing you’ll notice about Message Quest is the art style. Bright tones and dark outlines give it a style similar to any stained glass window you’d find at a church, mosque, synagogue or personal shrine to your favorite anime character (I don’t discriminate).  Furthermore, each character has distinguishing features that are often exaggerated to easily tell them apart and add to their charm along with their mannerisms and random sound effects they make. As for the other sounds you hear, the music is littered with melodies that remind you of renaissance fairs or classic fairytales. Thankfully, despite the short length of the game, there are enough arrangements to prevent any individual song from going stale.

 

Message Quest is pieced by equal parts story and gameplay. The story section consists of a charming, but not too intricate, tale about Feste overcoming his laziness and being introduced to the virtues of hard work and responsibility. Unfortunately, it didn’t convince me that a lifetime of laziness can change in a story that probably played out over the course of a few days. Especially for a person who I had to literally drag out of their home to start the quest. There is also an interesting dialogue tree mechanic where you pick what each character in the conversation says, though in implementation I didn’t find it all that necessary considering it never really changed the story’s outcome. Still, there is a bit of fun in the tale and some nice references to other fantasy and classic tales as well. The characters are also amusing, though a bit one-dimensional.

Responsibility Stool
We need more virtue based furniture. I suggest the honesty sofa,
the loyalty table and the chastity bed.

The gameplay was really average at best and mostly consists of an assortment of jigsaw puzzles, and the usual point-and-click affairs of clicking on and manipulating objects in the background to advance the story. It’s hardly even difficult to lose track of your objectives, with the game having a convenient scroll at the top of the screen that tells you exactly what you are looking for, plus another button that shows you which items are clickable. The truly interesting bit was the odd battle mechanic this game featured. It more of a mental combat meant to deplete an opponent’s will and pump up Feste’s own will with a funny assortment of actions like jogging, making a puppy-dog face and playing dead. Though fun, it didn’t happen nearly enough for me to truly enjoy it.

Battle System
“Don’t make me pee my pants, woman!”

Overall, Message Quest is a pretty decent game that doesn’t quite hit all of its high notes. It’s very pretty, has a decent story and so-so gameplay. It’s also pretty short with it taking me all of an hour and a half  to complete, even as I took the time to explore my every option. To make up for the length of the game, the price point is befittingly lower, coming in at just under three dollars on Steam. While Message Quest isn’t necessarily ground breaking or a shining example of its genre, I can see it being the perfect video game chaser to play in between longer games since there is still some enjoyment to be had.

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Mighty Crew: Millennium Legend (Android) Review

December 4th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: AminiLab || Overall: 7.0

Claims are tricky things. At one end of the spectrum, a confident boast can garner the attention of the masses. Big and bold claims are usually preceded with both naysayers and hype-builders in equal measures, but the important part is that it gets people talking. At the other end, claims can also serve as the minimal measure by which something is then graded. A product or person loses a degree of novelty when they merely match their claim and it usually only results in a passing grade no matter how impressive the feat. The whole act is lacking the element of surprise and played down in foresight. Worst yet, if the claimed isn’t reached, the following disappointment makes it look much worse. This is usually why it pays to be careful when making a claim and why humble beginnings are often times best. With that in mind, prepare yourself for the best damn video game review to ever grace the eyes and minds of mankind.

 

Taking a break from my usual types of reviews, I’m going to examine the claims made by the game Mighty Crew and see how they stack up to the finished product. Mighty Crew is a free-to-play offering by the folks at AminiLab for both your iOS and Android devices. Though don’t let that sidetrack you, I still plan to give all two of my loyal fans a high quality review (Hi Mom!). A review score and my usual half-assed critical approach will follow.

 

“Mighty Crew: Millennium Legend – is like the Mario, like a nordic Mario-berserker armed cap-a-pie!” – Excerpt from the Official Website

No, not at all. Mighy Crew may be a lot of things but comparing it to “the Mario” seems like a misstep.  The game doesn’t even have a reliable jump mechanic and most of the game happens on a single platform, making it neither a Mario game or much of a Platformer in general. I’m also sure that “cap-a-pie” isn’t actually a word no matter what google or Merriam-Webster has to say about it. The game doesn’t even have a serious subplot where the protagonist hides his drug addiction behind cute item names: “Super Mushroom,” “Fire flower.” Yeah, right.

viking_mario_by_dlax1
….and to no one’s surprise, you can find anything
on the internet.

“Is a beautiful meld of action and RPG, of slasher and side-scroller.” – Excerpt from the Official Website

That’s more like it! “Slasher and side-scroller” is a much more apt description of the game than being any sort of implied Mario clone coupled with Viking overtones. Mighty Crew plays more like an old-fashioned beat ’em up with some RPG elements throughout. The typical progression has the player going through the level killing everything in sight, and gaining EXP and items along the way. The EXP and items are used to acquire new abilities and increase stats respectfully. Though why the website would contradict itself on the same page, and much less the very same paragraph, about its own genre is anyone’s guess. But for now, the point goes to Mighty Crew.

 

“Hundreds of Tools of Destruction” – Line from Trailer.

Indeed. The game offers you quite the selection of items and a generous amount of equippable spaces to outfit your character. The items ranging from mundane to rare, even those in the same categories have noticeable differences between them. While one may be a typical sword that simply hacks away at a monster’s life, another may slice ’em, dice ’em, light them on fire and spread that fire to any other monster that touches them until all that’s left is a wonderfully crisp buffet of monster meat. Of course, some of the better gear is kept behind a pay wall but even something like the sword that I just mentioned is available for free. I just so happened to be lucky enough to earn it as a reward. So for this claim, I proclaim it as the truth.

 

“Entertaining Dialog You’ll Never want to Skip!” – Excerpt from the Official Website

I’m sorry. I skipped. I skipped a lot. The dialogue really isn’t all that interesting and it often only serves to give you a primer on where the characters are, why they decided to go there or who they need to alleviate from their oxygen addiction. There are attempts at character throughout the conversations between Princess Vallindoria and the mighty barbarian you control but they mostly fall by the wayside during the heavy exposition. The story isn’t anything great as it is a typical tale with all too familiar beats; nothing really outstanding.

 

“Manual Controls and Autofight.” – Line from trailer

To explain, Mighty Crew gives you two control options for your barbarian badass. The first is an automatic option that basically has you pointing your character in a general direction and watching them fight. With a simple press on your phone’s screen, the character will walk to that location and automatically fight anything within range. The other option gives you more direct control, offering both a virtual joystick and an attack button to control your character. Both have their benefits, though while the automatic option makes it easier to manage your special abilities, I preferred having more direct control of my character. Regardless, the game plays fine in both options.

boss_king_black_0
Protip: Using the Manual control, you can avoid all damage by
staying at the center of this boss up until its second form.

“Free Boost to Upgrade your Stats.” – Line from the Google Play page

Not so much free as they are “free”. There’s a price to pay, it just doesn’t come out of your pocket. Instead of money you are required to invest time as the game “treats” you to an ad (many times for another mobile game) for one of three random boost. Though the upgrades are very helpful since they can increase your health, damage or critical rate, the ads are a surefire way to break any immersion the game attempts. This isn’t even the only example of their liberal use of the word “free”, the game also offering one “free” resurrection per level if you are willing to watch the accompanying ad. Still free is often only associated with money and these ads are entirely optional, so in this case, I’ll give Mighty Crew a “point” for technically backing up their claim.

 

“No Time to Run Test! Mighty Crew Release!” – Excerpt from the website

In a rare case where I wish a claim made by a game company wasn’t true, this game could have used a bit of quality assurance. Even worse, the particular problems I ran into could have been easily caught with some testing. More times than I could count, I would defeat all of the enemies in a stage only to be trapped there waiting for the completion screen to show up. My dauntless hero denied a warrior’s death by faulty programming that forces me to restart the game instead of the evil that stalks the land like a true champion. A bit of testing could have also helped to root out another of the games major detriments: the repetitiveness. The game is a constant slog of entering a stage, killing everything, and upgrading, which then mirrors itself upon reaching the next stage. Sure, there are things to do in-between and playing it in short burst can stave off the impending boredom a bit, but the monotony is still present. I can only hope that some future testing can fix these two problems.

Dungeons
T
hankfully, the game does mix it up with its level design. You’ll traverse the
long and flat cave, the long and flat dungeon, and…you get the idea.

“Find out how good our designers, wich are have made out game style so comic-attractive and brutal in the same time.” – Excerpt from the website

Nope. Not even trying.

 

So with three claims in the bag, two claim denied, a point I would rather keep in quotes, another claim that I wish didn’t go through and a big fat nope to end it all, we come to a grand total of 4+”1″ out of 8 or just 5 out of 8 claims kept if you round up. If my math is correct, it isn’t all that much lower than the 7.0 score I gave it up top. Mighty Crew isn’t terrible, but it isn’t terribly good. If played in short bursts it could even be a fun time waster. For now though, I leave you with a claim that I can keep. This is the end of my review for Mighty Crew and I’ll see ya next time.

If you are interested in trying out Mighty Crew: Millennium Legend, you can use the following codes for free in-game currency:  #press20x (1000 crystals) and #gift20 (100 crystals).

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GameTwist Slots (iOS) Review

November 17th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games 1 Comment »

Developer: Novomatic Games | Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  8.5/10

GameTwist Slots is a slot game available on the iOS store.  If you want a no-fuss, varied slot experience, this may very well be up your alley.

Including 22 slots in all, you’ll start with 5000 credits and free reign on any of the slots you want to play.  As there is no progression system in the game, you won’t be met with any locks on any of the content.  Slots are easily downloadable at your discretion and you can select your favorites.  When you select a favorite, they will appear in their own tab where you can quickly select it as soon as you start the app.

Each slot has their own bonus games and art.  There are also special animated squares, depending on the slot’s theme, and many refer to something in popular culture, while others are more of a traditional slot theme.

Some of the slots available are:

  • Book of Ra Deluxe
  • Lucky Lady’s Charm
  • Sizzling Hot
  • Golden Ark
  • Gorilla
  • Royal Fruits
  • African Simba
  • Marilyn: Red Carpet
  • Wild! Roaring Forties

If you’re interested in slots games, GameTwist Slots has a great variety to add to your collection.

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Happy Fruits – Pub Slot (iOS) Review

November 8th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Mazooma Interactive Games || Overall:  8.5/10

Happy Fruits – Pub Slot is a fruit-themed slots game available on iOS.  As a single-themed slot, the experience revolves solely around the theme of smiling, jumping, happy fruit.  With some interesting bonus games, this slots game is one of the better slots games available.

As everything is Happy and Fruit themed, even the standard 10, J, Q, K, A letters are animated and smiling.  They represent different types of fruit, such as the Green J fruit, the Blue K fruit, and my favorite, the purple Q fruit.  They look so delicious, you’ll want to eat them!

Similar to other slots games, you’ll unlock features as you play.  Each level allows you to bet at a higher cap, and at level 5, Auto Play is unlocked.  You get bonus credits every level and as a timed bonus every four hours.  You start out with 2500 credits which can easily get you a few levels up just by itself.  Each bet will add XP to your player level, so higher bets will get you levels faster.

There are also several interesting bonuses.  The largest bonus is the three progressive jackpots that slowly grow as you play.  The pick-a-win multiplier, in which you choose one of three possible bonuses, multiply your bet by the one that is chosen.  The most frequent one I encountered was the Crazy Streak spin bonus in which you will be taken to a 3-slot game that rolls slots automatically.  When you gain three of a certain fruit in each of the allocated spaces respectively, you’ll attain the bonus that fruit type is assigned.  Once you get the killer tomatoes that require the bonus game to end, the rolls will stop and you’ll receive the payout.  This bonus game is pretty fun as you’ll see things slowly fill in and as you progress in levels you’ll be able to last longer against the tomatoes on average.

Happy Fruits – Pub Slot is an interesting slots game that has a unique bonus game and theme to offer to players.  If you are interested in trying out the game, it is available on the App Store.

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PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate (PC) Review

November 5th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer: Q-Games/Double Eleven | Publisher: Q-Games || Overall: 9.5/10

Q-Games’ PixelJunk series has become one of my favorites over the past few years. Starting with one of my all-time favorite games, PixelJunk Monsters, any time a new PixelJunk game gets announced it has gotten my attention. A couple of years ago I had purchased PixelJunk Shooter on Steam and fell in love with the blending of puzzles with twin-stick shooter gameplay. While I was never a big fan of twin-stick shooters by themselves, PixelJunk Shooter elevates the genre to a new height by integrating fast-paced, unique, and well-designed puzzles. PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate, released in October, carries over all of PixelJunk Shooter 1 and includes PixelJunk Shooter 2, which continues the game in new and challenging ways.

The general goal of PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate is to complete stages by collecting diamonds and scientists. Each “episode” is segmented into five different stages, and each stage is divided into a certain amount of “scenes.” Each full stage probably can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes depending on your ability to figure out puzzles. In most scenes, a lot of trial and error may occur, and you’ll have to memorize the order in which you do actions to succeed. This feeds into the idea that you want to be able to perfect your run through the scene to collect all of the diamonds, all of the scientists alive, getting out of the scene without dying yourself and in the quickest way possible. There is one boss per episode with six episodes total. Shooter 1 is the first three episodes, while Shooter 2 is the second three. Shooter 2 continues right where the first left off in terms of the story.

Most of the gameplay revolves around the liquid elemental aspects of puzzles. You’ll see lots of different types of liquid as you venture deep through the planet, all of which do various things to you and with each other when they interact. While you don’t have a health bar, per se, you have a “Heat Gauge.” The Heat Gauge hitting its max will spell your end, but you’ll be able to skate by as long as it doesn’t hit 100%, and even then if you somehow land in water you might recover. Your Heat Gauge will increase when you use special-fire missiles, get hit by enemy fire, or get close to Lava. You’ll be able to cool down by submersing yourself in Water, and while in water you are able to infinitely spam your missiles. Water and Lava, are the primary elements you’ll encounter in the game, and when they interact, it creates rock that you can blast through with your lasers. You won’t be able to swim through Lava usually, so that is one of the many kinds of simple puzzles you’ll see in the game. Where it gets complicated is when you should do these things and how they affect other parts of your current puzzle, and this kind of decision making is integral to the experience of the game. You’ll also be able to use “Suits” in certain scenes where they are available, which will change the rules in how you interact with these elements in unique ways. This keeps the gameplay fresh and varied. Each Episode ends with an exciting boss battle that primarily focuses on combat rather than puzzles, but you’ll still have to remember what you’ve learned, as they do usually use the elements you have become familiar with.

At first I was worried I wouldn’t be able to carry over my progress from the previous game. I had practically completed the whole game at this point, but hadn’t gotten to the end. Fortunately, you can load a save from PixelJunk Shooter 1 if you have it already on Steam. This allows you to continue right from where you may have left off. Those of us who had played the first game will notice immediately that there have been various UI improvements and a simpler way of knowing you’ve collected one of the objectives in each of the scenes. This helps when you inevitably have to go back and replay stages you didn’t do too well on. Also, diamonds you’ve already collected do not appear anymore, as opposed to the previously where you had to collect a total number larger than you had before so that it would count as more diamonds. This makes it easier to collect diamonds and doesn’t require you to memorize where all of them are across the whole stage.

A new art style known as the “Ultimate” art style is the default in this version of the game. The art has been upgraded to give it a more 3D look and benefit from effects such as lighting. The “Classic” art style is still available, which has a more hand-drawn, flat 2D look. While I personally prefer the Classic art style, the Ultimate art style still keeps the general charm of the art and looks pretty neat. I found myself actually playing in the Ultimate art style after a little while to benefit from the extra effects they added in. As a result of this newer art style it does seem to have upped the minimum requirements of your PC a bit. Music has an upbeat/jazzy/electronic feel and fits in very well. Music is always one of the strong points of PixelJunk, and this game is no exception. Music will also fade out as you get closer to a boss, to give it a feeling as if something big looms near (and it usually does).

Overall, it seems like there is about 20 hours’ worth of gameplay on your first play-through. To get perfect scores on each level, it will probably take you a lot longer since you’ll most likely miss a lot on the first time through. You’ll probably be forced to replay previous levels if you don’t have enough diamonds to unlock the next stage, so it won’t really be something you’ll avoid completely, anyway. There is also a sense of accomplishment in completing a whole stage perfectly. There is also enough variety that going back and replaying a stage won’t feel cumbersome.

As far as alternate game modes go, there is a local co-op mode and an online multiplayer mode. The online multiplayer is based more on competitively completing objectives and unlocking gear as you progress. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be very popular, so it is hard to find anyone to play with in the League mode. However, you can play online with a friend who owns the game, so this mode isn’t completely a loss. I don’t put much stake in requiring a multiplayer mode for my games so it is easy for me to ignore it. It was disappointing to not be able to try it out at least a couple of times, though.

Shooter’s formula is simple yet the design is complex and multilayered. You’ll be forced to master the basic formula, and then be challenged when the rules change and the formula gets thrown out the window. Some levels are fast paced, while others focus more on puzzles, and yet others focus on defeating enemies. PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate is one of my most favorite games in the past few years, and is highly recommended.  It is available now on Steam.

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Roulette Live Casino (iOS) Review

October 30th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: AbZorba Games || Overall: 8.0/10

Part of the AbZorba suite of casino games, Roulette Live Casino is available for the iOS.  A simple, easy to play Roulette game using the AbZorba Avatar system, Roulette Live Casino is a perfect way for a beginner to understand the basics of the table game.

Once you sit at a table, it is easy to bet on the spots you for the next spin.  While Inside Betting on numbers directly will pay out the most, they are the least likely to hit.  Most of your bets should be spread out, and on the category-type Outside Bets, such as Black, Red, 1st 12, 2nd 12, etc.  There is a Help option that teaches these terms and how they are related to their payouts, so you’ll be able to know what you’re betting on.

The game will allow you to play with other people and you can see what bets other people do.  No one competes with each other, but you may be motivated to try and get a better total win than others on the table, or engage with them socially.  The options to place bets are simple taps with your finger, and you can also easily wipe your bets or place the same bets again with the on-screen commands.  There is a timer in the bottom corner that will inform you how much time you have for the current bet.

Roulette Live Casino also utilizes the same Avatar system as their other games, and you can make some fun custom combinations as well as opt to buying a “Hero” with Diamonds.  Chips are earned through regular play.  In-app Purchases are available for both currencies.

Roulette Live Casino is a nice roulette game for your iOS devices and if you are interested in learning the ropes of roulette.

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GameTwist Casino (iOS) Review

October 23rd, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer: Novomatic Games | Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  9.0/10

GameTwist Casino is a multi-themed slots package.  Unlike some similar multi-slot apps, there is a progression system that requires you to level up to unlock more slots.  Starting out with 20,000 credits and three slots unlocked, you’ll gain levels and progress through the slots available.

As variety is one of the important aspects of GameTwist Casino, it is important to note how many slots there are.  There are currently 25 slots available, each unlocked every couple of levels at the lowest levels.  The highest slot is currently unlocked at level 160.  The progression system allows you to focus on the a smaller subset of slots as you unlock more, but not at a slow enough rate where you don’t feel like you lack the variety the game intends to offer.

You’ll unlock your 10th slot at around level 15, which is easily attainable after spending a little while with each of the slots you’ll unlock up to that point.  The gaps between unlocks grows as you get higher in levels.  The GameTwist Casino lobby is also easy to use as you can download the slots one at a time, and easily choose which one you are interested in playing.  Every level gained nets you a bonus, as well as the four hour Timed Bonus.

The art in the slots games is nice, and there are many 3D animations that enhance the general experience.  When a large win happens, big letters such as “BIG WIN” will appear which ups the excitement factor.  The user interface for the slots are consistent so you won’t have to “learn” anything new when you open up a new slot.

Some of the slots available are as follow:

  • Book of Ra deluxe
  • Gorilla
  • Sizzling Hot
  • Reel King
  • Lord of the Ocean
  • Marilyn Red Carpet
  • Golden Ark
  • African Simba

GameTwist Casino’s generous starting bonus allow for a lot of play to get used to and unlock many of the initial slots.  To get all of the slots unlocked, it will take a time commitment.  If you enjoy slots games, it can be fun to unlock the slots, as they feel like a reward when you attain the level milestone.

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Cops & Robbers Safecracker (iOS) Review

October 12th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer: Mazooma Interactive Games | Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  9.0/10

Police chasing down the crooks is one of your classic scenarios for media.  On the iOS App Store, Cops & Robbers Safecracker is a free-to-play slots game that integrates the titular theme for your gaming pleasure.

You’ll notice immediately the cartoon-style the game inherits.  Overall, it has a 1920’s UK theme for the characters, and paired with the terminology, such as “You’re nicked!” the slots game has a certain charm to it that can appeal to the user.

What is really fun about this slots game is that being a singular theme allows the developer to focus on bonuses and expand upon the chosen theme.  With the normal slots game, which is a 5-Column slot format, you get pay outs for three/four/five-in-a-row matches.  You’ll see the standard 10, J, Q, K, A letters for slots, with a Police Officer being the second highest, and the “Cops ‘n’ Robbers” logo for the highest pay out.  There are also bulldogs that stand in as the Wild.  You are able to gamble your winnings at the end of a roll by way of a 50% chance predicting a Red or Black card being drawn.  This option can be toggled on and off as you desire and you can increase your bet in increments of 25, and after 100, increments of 100.  This allows you to fine tune how much you want to use, and the Auto Play toggle will show how many spins you can play at the current stake level before you turn Auto Play on again.

Along with the seven matching items for pay outs, a number of themed bonus items may appear.  If three of them appear on the board, you’ll enter one of the exciting bonus games.  Each bonus game is unique and can hold a lot of reward.

Your typical bonus comes in free spins.  Rolling three safes will earn you those free spins and you’ll choose between the three different safes.  They will have a different amount of spins each and the payouts you win during the free spins will be multiplied, which ups the value of your free spins considerably.

Getting three swag bags activates a bonus in which you choose one of three colored bags.  Each of the colored bags has a different amount of credits to be awarded.  As you play the normal slots game, these swag bags will slowly mature, and whatever the credit value is assigned to them at the time of the bonus activation is what you will get if you choose that bag.  The bags will be shuffled and you only choose one, so it is a 1/3 chance to get any of the three.  After the bonus, the colored bag you chose resets to a default value and proceeds to progressively mature again.

If you get three Crooks, you will enter a dice roll “Chase” bonus game.  A board is displayed with credit values, and you will roll a dice when ready.  The dice roll will dictate where your Crook lands on the board, and those credits are what you will earn for doing so.  After you roll, the police will roll as well, and they will either catch you or miss you.  If you are caught, you will be put in a suspect line-up, where you have a random 1/3 chance to get away and roll again on the board for more credits.  If the Crook is identified, your bonus round is over and you’ll return to the slots game.

Sound effects are also fun with voices, police sirens, jail noises, and other themed noises.  Visual effects are nice and the art style helps the game with its charm.  Every four hours will also earn you a free 500 credits, allowing you to start with about 2500 credits when you install.

If you’re looking for a slots game that integrates a multitude of bonus games, Cops ‘n’ Robbers Safecracker is a fun slots game.  One of the advantages of playing video slots is that the bonus games can become fairly interactive and exciting, and this is one of those instances that takes advantage of that fact.

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Slotpark (iOS) Review

October 4th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  8.5/10

Slotpark is a free casino app available in the German App Store.  Slotpark maintains the same user interface integrated across a wide variety of slots as players switch between them.  In the corners you’ll be shown your current Credit balance and your levels.  With each level, you gain an extra Credit bonus, as well as a timed bonus every 4 hours, which is standard across many casino apps.  The first few levels are quite easy to reach, so you’ll be earning a lot of bonus Credits as you start out.  This is a good way to allow you to get used to the game’s features and slots, and improves the accessibility to new players.

Slotpark currently includes 12 differently-themed slots, with more being added.  You’ll be able to switch between slots very easily by downloading a new slot.  Once you feel like changing, it is easy to go back to the Lobby and switch to another slot.

The slot selection is varied, and each theme can be fun depending on your personal preference.  5-Column games are what you’ll see mostly, but there are a couple of 3-Column games available.  The selection of slots include the following and more:

  • Lucky Lady’s Charm Deluxe – lady/luck/magic themed
  • Queen of Hearts deluxe – castle/red heart theme
  • Book of Ra Deluxe – Egypt themed
  • Pharaoh’s Tomb – also Egypt themed
  • Lord of the Ocean – Poseidon/water theme
  • Dolphin’s Pearl Deluxe – water/pearl theme

It is very convenient to be able to switch between slots that are available via the Slotpark lobby.  If you are interested in trying out Slotpark, you can find it on the German App Store.  It is also available in the Austria, Switzerland, Romania, Turkey, French, Netherlands, and Greek App Stores.

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Rogue Continuum (PC) Early Access Preview

September 27th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer: Rocktastic Games  | Publisher: Surprise Attack Games

THIS IS A TEST OF THE EMERGENCY SQUACKLE SYSTEM!

THIS IS ONLY A TEST!

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW DECIDES TO ALTER THE TIMELINE, DON’T! IT IS A HIGHLY VOLATILE AND SENSITIVE PART OF METAPHYSICS THAT SHOULD ONLY BE HANDLED BY A PROFESSIONAL. SO UNLESS YOUR FIRST NAME IS “DOC” AND YOUR LAST NAME IS “BROWN,” PLEASE LEAVE THE TIME STREAM ALONE.

SIDE EFFECTS INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO: NOT KILLING JOHN CONNER, ATTEMPTED SEDUCTION BY YOUR OWN MOTHER, BEING YOUR OWN GRANDFATHER, AND BEING CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO TIMELINES WHERE EITHER YOUR ROMANTIC INTEREST OR CHILDHOOD FRIEND WILL DIE.

ONCE AGAIN, THIS WAS ONLY A TEST!

Time is a valuable resource; luckily you’ll have plenty of it in Rouge Continuum. The newest incarnation in the rouge-like genre, Rogue Continuum has you die, die and die again all to stop the eventual destruction of Earth. The Earth has been destroyed and the survival of the human race is in peril as a small team of psychos take it upon themselves to go back in time and take the fight to the alien’s home world. Armed with plenty of weapons and a time machine that allows them to retry missions time and time again, the team looks to eradicate the alien menace before they can even reach Earth. Thankfully, with a good assortment of characters, varied enemies and a system that makes your character stronger with every death, it also might be a lot of fun to do so.

Rouge Continuum attempts to inject rouge-likes with a good bit of crazy to bring out the best in the genre. Already impressive, even in this Early Access build, there is a good bit of fun, variety and fast-pace zaniness. The basic set up is simple: maneuver through an enemy-filled stage, fight a few bosses and then make your way to the enemy-infested extraction point to finish the level. You get power ups along the way that upgrade your speed, attack, defense and weapons to make you stronger overall. More importantly, you acquire experience points that increase your character’s base stats and abilities. You’re allowed to keep any abilities or stats gained through experience points but must forfeit any abilities or upgrades picked up during the level when you die. This makes you steadily stronger at the start of every new life and eventually makes you strong enough to complete the level. This common repetition of fighting, dying and coming back stronger is the basic rhythm of this game.

Though the formula may sound a bit repetitive, Rogue Continuum does a fine job keeping it fresh and new. Having 4 vastly different characters, many enemy types, unique upgrades and various stages to enjoy, it is often a pleasant surprise to see how they all work. The playable characters deserve special note since they all play quite differently from each other; whether it is Smackdown Sam (yes, that’s his real name, isn’t it awesome?) with his run-and-gun style of combat, Ownage Olga’s (and yeah, they don’t really get much better than that first name) charge shot and dodge tactics, Rampage Rufus who is the only melee combatant in the game, or Destructobot who is quite literally a walking tank, each character plays wildly different from the other. Couple these characters with a game that doesn’t really care about the small things like “realism” or “making sense” and you have a fun time-waster. At one point in time, I was even able to mix elemental abilities to create a bullet that encased enemies in blocks of ice while setting them on fire. Rogue Continuum cares about that much.

Other than some balance issues between the weapons and characters, and the occasional pop-up of a bug or two, it’s really hard to fault Rogue Continuum, even at this stage of development. They could inject many things to make it better, but it would be more of a wish list than any actual detriment the game currently has this early in its Early Access cycle. And with the inclusion of online co-op on the way, they are already hitting one of the items on that personal wish list. Overall, they are off to a mighty fine start.

The flow of the game may be repetitive, but the variety of character, enemies and weapons really make Rogue Continuum stand out. Plus, the way it wholeheartedly embraces its unrealistic premise with equally unrealistic gameplay makes for a game that’s low on brain power but high on fun. Rogue Continuum is currently on Steam Early Access for $9.99, look for it today… or sometime yesterday.

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Gaminator (iOS) Review

September 27th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Greentube Alderney Ltd.  || Overall:  8.5/10

Gaminator is a free casino app available in various European App Stores.  Using the same user interface integrated across a multitude of slots, players are able to hop around between different themes as they see fit with ease.  When first booting up the game, you are presented with an easy-to-understand interface.  In the top corners you’ll be shown your current Credit balance and your levels, the most important pieces of information.  With each level, you gain an extra Credit bonus, as well as a timed bonus every 4 hours.  The first few levels are easy to attain, so you’ll be earning quite a bit of bonus Credits as you start out.  This is a good way to allow you to get used to the game’s features and slots, especially if this is your first casino game.

Gaminator currently includes 13 differently-themed slots, with more being added.  You’ll be able to quickly and easily switch between slots that you like without restrictions such as a level minimum.  Once you feel like changing, it is easy to go back to the Lobby and switch to another slot.

The slot selection is diverse, and each theme can be fun depending on your personal preference.  Most are 5-Column games with a couple of 3-Column games available.  The selection of slots include the following and more:

  • Lucky Lady’s Charm Deluxe – lady/luck/magic themed
  • Book of Ra Deluxe – Egypt themed
  • Columbus deluxe – based on Christopher Columbus
  • Ultra Hot Deluxe – 3-Column fruit theme
  • Lord of the Ocean – Poseidon/water theme

It is very convenient to be able to switch between slots that are available via the Gaminator lobby.  If you are interested in trying out Gaminator, you can find it on the Hungarian App Store.  It is also available on the Czech, Polish, Russian, and Slovakian App Stores.

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Assault Android Cactus (PC) Review

September 23rd, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Witch Beam  || Overall: 9.0

There’s much to say about first impressions. They hold a strong sway in coloring our dispositions towards certain things, and are often easy to acquire but hard to forget. That’s why it is beneficial to give off the best impression of ourselves at first; it is often a deciding factor on jobs, friendships and romantic relationships. That being said… Calm the F’ down Witch Beam! Give yourselves room to grow! Come out with too strong of a first impression and it’ll be much harder to impress on your second, third and so forth attempt. In the music industry, this might result in an affliction called the “One Hit Wonder.”

we-are-the-80s-a-flock-of-seagulls-53fb58e76da73
And your fans will run, they’ll run so far away!!!
They’ll run, they’ll run all night and day!!!
You are not gonna get paid!!!

The first impression for rookie game developer Witch Beam, Assault Android Cactus is the first love child created by that three person team. Describing itself as a “Twin Stick Arena Shooter,” it is probably better described as the natural evolution of a Bullet Hell Shooter, and a very well regarded one at that. Already having made a good enough showing at a few expos to come out with an award or two, this long-in-development game has quite the reputation to live up to. But can Assault Android Cactus live up to all those high accola… oh, who am I kidding? If you read that first paragraph of flavor text you already have a good impression of what I think about this game.

As mentioned, Assault Android Cactus is the natural evolution of a Bullet Hell Shooter. The genre is usually characterized by the sheer amount of enemies and harmful projectiles that are present on screen, so much so, that they are often also called “Carpet Shooter.” The screen is often “carpeted” with enemies and projectiles that you must skillfully maneuver through while destroying any other living thing on screen. This also aptly describes this title’s core gameplay and is something that it does really well. Each level a familiar dance of dodging and shooting that the genre is known for. And while overwhelming at first, it strikes a near-perfect balance of those features. It’s often a great pleasure to start with a screen full of enemies only to surely wipe them out by level’s end.

aac_004
Protip: When surrounded by enemies (aka in serious shit) using your
secondary fire gives you a short second of invulnerability.

Not content with merely giving Bullet Hell Shooters a 3D facelift, Assault Android Cactus also provide it own special innovations to make it pop out from all of the others. Unlike its 2D forefathers, the game takes an isometric view of the battlefield instead of a top-down approach. It is often a benefit since it gives you a clear perspective of the stage’s obstacles and the much needed cover that are spread throughout a level’s map. Also, unlike most in the genre, the game gives the player a full 360-degrees of shooting action allowing them to shoot up, down or any direction at will. A mechanic that comes in handy since the enemies can appear anywhere on the screen. They are no longer bound to coming in from the screens edges, and will often try to blindside you to tick away at the precious time you have left. That wasn’t a typo. In probably the most major departure from regular Bullet Hell Shooters, there is a slowly draining battery on top of the screen that serves as ticking time bomb for your own personal destruction. So instead of focusing solely on remaining unharmed, the player has to keep a constant pace of enemy death and destruction so that they can drop a battery pack to refill the battery bar on top. This makes Assault Android Cactus more of a struggle in time management than a simple task of survival set on a spaceship full of rogue robots.

The story in Assault Android Cactus is really nothing to write home about. Though the uninspired sci-fi tale of a few androids rescuing a spaceship from a robot uprising is easily offset by its cast of colorful characters. Each android in Assault Android Cactus has a clear and often charming persona that adds a layer of personality to the game. Taking into account their personal battle quips and that each character has different dialogue when meeting a boss, the characters would seem at home in any number of entertaining Saturday morning cartoon programs (if that were still a thing).  You’ll encounter characters like Cactus, who is a shoot-first-ask-questions-later sorta gal (android?) or the psychopathic man-child that is Starch and her freakin’ game-winning laser beam of death. In all, their different personalities are a fun addition to game’s solid gameplay and, thankfully, the differences don’t stop there.

aac_006
Each character is great…

Just like their personalities, each android is outfitted with a different primary and secondary weapon. They often play off of each other to give each android a unique strategy for dealing with the rogue robot ruffians (alliteration!) that have taken over the spaceship. Whether it be Coral’s in-your-face style of combining a combat shotgun with a plasma shield that reflects projectiles and enemies, Shiitake’s slow-but-powerful railgun and mine combo, or Cactus’ middle-of-the-road style that combines an assault rifle with a flamethrower making her effective at any range, there’s plenty of fun in seeing what makes these combinations work. Thankfully, switching between these characters is also a very simple task thanks to the equally simple controls.

aac_007
… except for Starch who is a cheating cheater who cheats.

You only really require two buttons and two analog sticks on a controller.  Your primary and secondary weapons are assigned to the two buttons, and the sticks control your movement and aiming. Playing with a keyboard and mouse isn’t that much harder since the WASD keys control your movement and your mouse controls the aim, leaving the left and right mouse buttons to control your primary and secondary weapons respectively. This all leads to a very intuitive set up that doesn’t really take all too long to get down and responds well on screen.

The graphics and music of Assault Android Cactus aren’t all that spectacular but are effective for this sort of game. There wasn’t any noticeable screen tear, or any noteworthy hiccups to complain about. The same could be said for the music, a nice and effective beat that compliments the game’s sci-fi setting to a decent degree. Though nothing truly spectacular can be said on both counts, by no means did they do a bad job on either front and that’s especially good to know considering that you’ll probably play this more than once.

There is a ton of replayability even after you have finished the single player campaign. The multiplayer is its own bag of awesome with an increase in both manpower and firepower on the enemy’s side. Once done with that, the game offers the usual-but-welcomed smatterings of game modes to keep you hooked, from the obligatory boss rush mode to the customary survival mode, the game even throws in a different daily challenge through their “Daily Drive” mode to keep things fresh. Though, the most interesting bit of extended play is in the several EX(tra) options that are available, each affecting the game in a major or minor way. Some are so game-changing that I don’t even want to spoil what they can do for you.

Everything I said about the game so far has been positive, but if I were being a little nitpicky sad-sack there are a few complaints. While playing in multiplayer the action can get so hectic that a player can be left off-screen during the chaos and left to the dangers of projectiles and enemies they cannot see. The isometric view of the camera can do a similar job by obscuring the view of your character around large enemies or objects. Lastly, multiplayer is only available via local co-op, meaning you can only enjoy the multiplayer with a group of IRL friends.

aac_003
Despite that, IRL friends are useful for dealing with stuff like this.

So there it is. I only needed a single small paragraph to tell you what this game does wrong but it took me almost the whole review to tell you what this game does right. If that doesn’t show you how good of a first impression this game gave me, I don’t know what else will. The full version of Assault Android Cactus will be released the 23rd of September and deserves all of the praise it gets.

 

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Bell Fruit Casino App (iOS) Review

September 19th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer: Greentube Alderney Ltd.  || Overall:  Good

Gambling with real money online has become more commonplace as it becomes more accessible.  Just like in a real casino, you may yearn for a little variety as you play one app and decide to go to another one.  In the UK App Store, an app named “Bell Fruit Casino App” is available for users to download, and includes the option to be able to integrate a multitude of different casino games using the same unified in-app log in and account structure to place bets in different games.

The game selection is quite vast and the themes are wide enough that you’ll be able to find something that you will enjoy playing.  There are also nice descriptions that explain rules and bonus games for each individual game.  There are several game types available, including Slots, Blackjack, and Roulette.  There are about 40 games supported in all.

The selection of slots is quite festive, include the following and more:

  • Cops ‘n’ Robbers – there are cops and there are robbers
  • Happy Fruits – the fruits, they are happy
  • Hoffmania – based on David Hasselhoff
  • Columbus deluxe – based on Christopher Columbus
  • Clockwork Oranges – based on oranges that have clocks in them
  • Spinderella – Based on Fairy Godmother/Cinderella
  • Volcanic Cash – prehistoric civilization theme, not unlike the Flintstones
  • Wizard of Odds – Wizard magic and medieval themed

While most, if not all, of these games are available singularly, it is convenient to be able to switch between apps that are all supported by the Bell Fruit Casino App hub.  If you are interested in trying out Bell Fruit Casino App, you can find it on the UK App Store.

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Super Mutant Alien Assault (PC) Early Access Preview

September 15th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer: Cybernate | Publisher: Surprise Attack Games

Super Crate Box /soo-per kreyt boks/
          (Proper Noun)

  1. a retro style indie game known for it’s three major gameplay aspects: the item
    crates that appear throughout the level, one-room-per-stage level design and
    wave after wave of enemies are set upon the player.

          (Adjective)

  1. based on “Super Crate Box” and often sharing many similar designs.

There you go! I took that made up and somewhat redundant combination of words and defined it so you didn’t have too. You can thank me later.

Developed by Cybernate, published by Surprise Attack Games and in the very early part of its early access career, Super Mutant Alien Assault is a retro-style action game that sets to re-polish your 2D trigger finger and reacquaint you with your old jump-to-dodge tactics from days of video games past. Considering itself the “Citizen Kane” of Super Crate Box clones (this is about the point where you should be thanking me), it shares many similar designs with the old 2010 game, as well as, it’s own little spin on the little known sub-genre.

Playing the part of security droids burdened with protecting cryogenically frozen humans that have escaped a dying earth, you must defend against herds of aliens while wielding a varied and random assortment of weapons, explosives and special abilities. Along the way to extraterrestrial genocide, there is a simple but sometimes difficult objective that must be cleared. Whether it is transporting something from point A to point B, stopping a series of explosives set around the stage, or simple eradication of the alien menace, it usually requires a careful balance between killing and completing the objective. To add to your troubles, the radiation your ship is apparently leaking (which I’m sure passed the high standards of whatever safety commission was involved in designing these ships) makes the Aliens evolve into bigger and stronger versions of themselves every few seconds. So if you somehow complete the objective without destroying a single alien, you’d find yourself with a screen’s worth of aggressive and powerful aliens that must be destroyed before moving onto the next stage.

If put into one word, I’d say this game is hardbutfair. Though there is a spot of chance involved with the abilities, guns and explosives you have at any particular moment due to their random nature, I never thought the game treated me unfairly. The randomness, in fact, was part of the fun. Responding and adapting to my ever-changing assortment of explosives and guns forced me to think on my feet and change my strategy at a moment’s notice. Thankfully, the game had plenty of options even in this early version. From the standard to the bizarre, one moment you’ll find yourself gunning down the alien herd with a machine gun and double jump combination, and the next  having to use your explosive Pogo stick to “Mario” your way to victory by jumping on top of the aliens. Local multiplayer is also available and strikes the same strategy-changing beats, though it is a bit easier since you are allowed to revive a fallen comrade. Overall, even at an early stage, the game has the potential to be a challenging but fun game.

While fun, that’s not to say the game doesn’t have its hiccups. The game is still very early in its Early Access cycle and it shows. In particular, the game has a few bugs to iron out. Though, not always, if the game is left paused for a few moments it will freeze and then close itself. Another bug makes the game’s frame rate drop by half whenever a countdown is taking place. Super Mutant Alien Assault is also very short, packing only 9 regular stages, three boss stages and a few unlockables in this early build; it has very little content. Of course, this is all likely to change in the coming months and upon full release.

Much like the security droids in the game, the developers of Super Mutant Alien Assault have some bugs to work out before its full release, sometime later this year or early next year. Though if they do manage to eradicate the alien menace that makes the game buggy and add more content to it in the process, the game might keep its promise in being the “Citizen Kane” of Super Crate Box clones… whatever that means.

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