With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 out this weekend, Who Wore it Best? pits two Hunger Games tie-ins, Girl on Fire and Panem Run, against each other in a brutal and pointless fight to the death. I wonder where we got that idea from?
All Posts By Jordan Minor
It’s easy to want to write off Blades of Brim as a gimmick. You could look at its swordplay as a cheap attempt to distinguish itself from every other endless runner out there. But the combat actually is an integral part of the game, giving it a distinct identity. Is that enough to overcome endless runner fatigue? Decide for yourself in this edition of It Came From Canada!
Blades of Brim uses the typical endless structure. Players try to dash as far as they can while dodging and defeating obstacles and enemies. There aren’t distinct environments per se, but as players level up they’ll unlock new parts of the map, granting them access to new areas during each trip. The worlds are diverse and the transitions between them are fairly seamless. The coolest touches are the little challenge rooms that give players some task to complete on a stretch of road seemingly existing in a pocket dimension. Meanwhile, the cartoon fantasy visuals have tons of colorful energy and, more importantly, run super smoothly.
But obviously Blades of Brim‘s big hook is its prominent combat system. By swiping the screen, players will slash their sword. Fortunately, it’s a lot more robust than just a single, glorified defensive option. Players can use slashes to stylishly hop between lanes and fling themselves skyward, all while taking down enemies in their path. They can also take advantage of the branching level design for moves like wall runs and flying ground pounds. Successfully and fluidly chaining attacks together, while constantly propelling forward, makes players feel like a force of nature. And the game’s forgiving health system, allowing players to take one hit and recharge health from there, prevents needlessly frustrating roadblocks. Rounding out the system are unlockable weapons like axes with different stats, along with new characters. And if players are really in a pinch, they can sacrifice some magic to summon a double-jumping dog to ride, complete with a handy projectile attack.
Blades of Brim looks like it could carve out a nice little niche for itself in the expansive endless runner landscape. Players can see if that niche is right for them when the game launches globally, soon.
Call of Duty makes a lot of money, and Clash of Clans makes a lot of money. So, logically, Activision thinks they can make a lot of money by putting those two things together. With Call of Duty: Heroes, that’s exactly what they’ve done. But will fans of bombastic shooters enjoy a tiny freemium tactics game and vice-versa? We go Oscar Mike to find out in this New Zealand edition of It Came From Canada!
While Call of Duty has gone everywhere from World War II to Vietnam to the near future, Call of Duty: Heroes takes place during the popular “Modern Warfare” era of the series. As the leader of a military base, players fortify their surroundings using the latest and greatest army toys. Bunkers, turrets, and thick walls defend HQ from roaming insurgents as well as other players in online battles. But as you’d expect from a game like this, there’s also a substantial offensive campaign as players engage in real-time strategy missions all over the globe. Successful assaults typically boil down to effective unit composition. Normal soldiers are cheap and easy to mass produce, but only armored soldiers can withstand heavy fire long enough to actually accomplish anything.
However, all of that is just the Clash of Clans formula that has now proven its success countless times. What does the Call of Duty license bring to the table? Well first off it actually creates this weird incongruous feeling. The detached, rational perspective of an omniscient commander in the sky doesn’t quite gel with the fast, visceral, and up-close cinematic action the series banks on with its tagline, “There’s a soldier in all of us.” Beyond that though, there are times when the game is more than just Call of Duty in name only. The leveling system works as a fine Prestige Mode substitute. The top-notch production values, with detailed visuals and an excellent frame rate, match the franchise’s high standards. Killstreaks and air strikes put players behind a turret and have them mow down targets from a familiar first-person perspective, and players can even enlist heroes from past games like John Price and his famous mustache.
Even if we have reached peak Call of Duty, the franchise still carries plenty of cache. We’ll see if that carries over to this new mobile spinoff when Call of Duty: Heroes launches everywhere soon.
Creature Academy doesn’t have time for your slow-paced, grandparents’ RPGs. In the span of a few minutes, it has players slicing down monsters, toppling a boss, improving their party, and repeating the whole cycle all over again. But while role-playing this quickly may work during a bus ride, does it sacrifice depth in the process? Find out in this edition of It Came From Canada!
Structurally, Creature Academy is a fairly rote action-RPG. With their three-person party, players venture out into various environments, like meadows or volcanoes, looking for monsters to slay. They’ll encounter everything from Hackits, little burlap sack creatures that recall Dragon Quest’s iconic Slimes, to towering goblins and mushrooms that serve as the bosses of each area. Players can then customize their party between skirmishes by giving them better weapons and gear along with limited-use boosters like extra speed or strength. However, while party leaders will typically be heroic human characters, players can also recruit fallen foes to their squad like the trident-wielding, amphibious Fischenchips. Furthermore, players can evolve and combine captured monsters to create even more powerful allies. Beyond the main campaign, players can also test out their team in a wave-based survival mode.
But what stands out so much about Creature Academy is how it takes those standard tropes and plays them at what feels like double speed, after a painfully, and ironically, slow initial install. The game is divided into dozens of separate levels and, at least initially, players will just cruise through them crushing monsters in seconds. This isn’t to say that the game is mindless. It’s good to know when to use a ranged weapon vs. a sword or when to swap out a weak character because one death equals game over. But the game just moves so freaking fast that everything kind of becomes a blur, especially once screen-clearing special attacks and overpowered online helpers enter the fray. It’s not bad, just chaotic, and at least the graphics keep up.
Hyperactivity isn’t historically a hallmark of RPGs, but maybe that will give Creature Academy its own identity. Players can see if this whirlwind of level grinding and monster battling is right for them when the game fully launches soon.
Aside from a Pokémon spin-off or two, it doesn’t look like Nintendo will be putting out games on the App Store any time. However, that just leaves room for other companies to try to fill that void. Neither rip-off nor clone, Seabeard instead feels like an homage to several acclaimed titles from the House of Mario. But is that the best thing it has going for it? We set sail for these and other answers in this edition of It Came From Canada!
Although it’s not entirely obvious at first, Seabeard is essentially a town-building game. As a little monarch, players attempt to rebuild their lost island kingdom of Accordia. So, to get the necessary resources and manpower, players travel across an expanding ocean map doing odd jobs for people and recruiting them to the cause. Tasks range from feeding and milking cows, convincing some burly brothers to build new houses, scaring away pesky foxes, pulling out roots, and catching a variety of exotic fish. Players go at their own pace though, finishing jobs when they feel like it. There’s nothing stopping them from just sitting down by the water or trying on some new outfits. While traveling from island to island, players must also play a sailing minigame like avoiding obstacles or shooting down targets with their cannon.
It’s relaxed, low-impact gameplay, and what really ties it all together is the equally mellow presentation. This is where the Nintendo feeling comes into play. The isometric perspective and cheery but not too energetic blocky, 3D, cartoon world recall Animal Crossing, as does the life-sim gameplay. However, with its whole nautical theme and big-eyed, pseudo-cel-shaded characters, there’s a lot of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker in there too. But seeing as those are both beloved games, looking at them for inspiration was probably a smart move.
Seabeard looks to be a pleasant place to drift off into, like sinking your feet into the pool. Players can decide for themselves if they want to dive in when the game fully launches soon.
With the original Puzzle Quest, developer Infinite Interactive showed that a genre as deep as RPGs could be married with one as seemingly shallow as match-3 puzzle games creating a match (3) made in heaven. With their point now proven, thanks to the continued success of that series, their new game, Gems of War, feels like another victory lap. We slay dark messiahs of might and matching yet again in this edition of It Came From Canada!
In the world of Krystara, all players need to start battling against hordes of monsters is a map to explore and some directions from their stern adviser. Gems of War’s centrepiece is, without a doubt, its numerous puzzle-driven enemy encounters. Players and their opponents share the same grid of gems and take turns matching with different gems causing different effects. Matching skull gems launches a basic attack while matching four of any gem gives another turn. And combo chains provide extra magical energy. From there though, benefits will vary. Most gems represent different elements like fire and water. Matching those gems charges up the special attacks of whatever team members specializes in those elements. Players might activate a solar-powered axe attack or defense-buffing howl driven by green energy.
Managing parties to better adapt to the random nature of the puzzle board is a key component of Gems of War’s non-combat gameplay. Aside from messing around with the look of their main character, players can tweak their elemental affinity as well as equip them with new weapons built to use new elements. Players can also recruit monsters from victorious battles and create a four-person squad. Elemental diversity opens up strategic opportunities along with the ability to limit enemy options. A fair but steep difficulty curve, especially for those who choose to tackle the bonus challenges, will encourage players to constantly customize their party until it is as strong as it can be.
Right now, the biggest barrier between players and the puzzle action is Gems of War’s curiously long and frequent load times. Hopefully that’s something they can fix before the official release. In any case, expect the game to fully launch everywhere soon.
Curious to know what we though about all this robot-on-robot carnage? Then check out our Bot Squad review!
The Bot Squad: Puzzle Battles offers nearly 200 stages based on its varied approach to tower defense. That’s pretty great, but it also means there are lots of strategies to master and the amount of options can be a little daunting. Here are some tips on how to save Dynamo City.
The Best Defense
The Bot Squad is separated into Defensive stages and Offensive stages. Defensive stages play more like typical tower defense games, and many of the same strategies apply, but they still have their own quirks.
- To start, use standard Smacker and Blaster tower bots to weaken enemies that cross your paths. Always pay attention to the range of your units and try to cover as much ground as possible.
- Sometimes it’s good to be redundant and have multiple towers clustered in the same area to kill enemies faster. It depends on the stakes.
- Stop enemies in their tracks with Stoppabots like Blockers and Grabbers. Unlike towers though, these obstacles can be destroyed. They can also only be placed on certain terrain so be smart with them.
- Certain levels provide a limited number of towers to take down a limited number of enemies. However, other stages have an unlimited supply of towers that spawn at set intervals. Enemies come fast and furious in these levels though, usually in big groups, so quickly put your extra power to use.
- If a level already has a few towers, pick them up and rearrange them to forge a better defense.