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It Came From Canada: Jurojin: Immortal Ninja

Posted by Jordan Minor on March 3rd, 2015

At this point it’s pretty safe to say that no MOBA is going to dethrone Dota 2 and League of Legends anytime soon. After all, if Batman can’t do it, nobody can. However, with a genre as popular and profitable as this one, there’s still room for smaller games to carve out unique identities. Jurojin: Immortal Ninja opts for this path with its shinobi battle arena, and we see if it’s worthy in this edition of It Came From Canada!

What immediately sets Jurojin apart from its contemporaries is its theme. Ninjas are nothing new for video games, but in a MOBA landscape full of nothing but vague fantasy archetypes, it’s refreshing to see bamboo forests and stealth assassins instead of generic crystals and character designs two steps away from a Blizzard game. The smooth visuals and movement complement the elegance of the heroes and gives the game the precision the eSport-friendly genre demands.

Also aiding the precision are the controls that work around the limitations of a touch screen in some clever ways. Instead of controlling the character directly, players freely spin a flowing cursor/camera around and their ninja will follow. It’s quick and sharp and makes targeting opponents for melee or projectile attacks a breeze. Although there are paths to follow and enemy structures to take down, in general Jurojin’s environments are more open than the rigid lanes of other MOBAs, so the more open control scheme really shines.

Players put those controls to the test in typical multiplayer battles as well as some welcomed single player challenges. Kill waves of enemies to get the loot and cash necessary to upgrade elemental spells and skills for the next real challenge. Obviously these missions lack the depth of a true duel, but they still do a great job rounding out the package and making up for the lack of additional characters to master.


Ninja Gaiden meets Dota might be too much praise for Jurojin: Immortal Ninja, but that’s not the most inaccurate comparison either. See for yourself if this ninja way is right for you when the game launches everywhere soon.

Have a Couple of Exclusive New Screens for Hipster CEO 2

Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 26th, 2015

Hipster CEO 2 hasn't launched yet, but the good people at Getchoo Creations have sent us a couple of teaser screens to give you an idea what you're in for. It looks like the teenage crowd is going to net Jen a small profit but hey, at least they're easy to market to.

In the meantime, we'll wait with twirly mustaches and bowties in anticipation for Hipster CEO 2.

Hands-On With Cut the Rope Developer ZeptoLab's King of Thieves

Posted by Jennifer Allen on January 23rd, 2015

Marking quite a departure from ZeptoLab’s past successes, namely the Cut The Rope series, King of Thieves is shaping up to be quite promising. Due for release in February, we were lucky enough to have some time with a preview build to see exactly what it’s all about.

Focused on multiplayer, King of Thieves is best described as part tower defense, part platformer. Your mission is to break into dungeons and steal the opposition’s treasure chest. This requires a certain amount of finesse when it comes to your platforming skills. Controls are fairly simple here, with a series of taps and double-taps being pivotal. You automatically run, with a change of direction only possible when you bounce away from a wall. At first it seems a little awkward, but it turns out to be reasonably effective.

As you’d expect, levels steadily get trickier the further you progress, with up to three stars for the taking depending on how well you perform. There’s a PvP side to things too, with you able to tackle other players' dungeons as well as needing to protect your own. The latter is where things turn more tower defense-like, with it being possible to place turrets and spikes around your dungeon in order to ward off attack. To save your creation, you have to be able to complete it twice to prove it’s possible. Something that may end up testing your own skills as well as other players’ abilities.

So far, King of Thieves is shaping up to be an interesting mixture of puzzle style elements and platforming that’s sure to test your reflexes. My only concern is whether or not it will be able to keep everyone hooked for an extended period of time. There’s the race to be top of the leaderboard and to have the most intricate dungeon, but it’s hard to say just yet whether or not that will keep people hooked for a long time to come.

We’ll be able to see how things unfold once the game goes live worldwide. For now, it’s certainly an interesting combination of genres.

King of Thieves is set for release in February. Of course, we’ll let you know when.

Ryan Mitchell Games Releases a Preview Video of Mission Europa 2

Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 12th, 2015
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: HIDEOUSLY AWESOME :: Read Review »

Mission Europa, the first-person role-playing game where you take on a search and rescue mission on the titular ice moon, is getting a sequel.

The development blog for Ryan Mitchell Games has posted a video preview of some of the work that has been done for Mission Europa 2. The game looks like it has some pretty nice visuals so far, and plenty of explosions. There's no word yet on when we can expect M.E. 2, but until then you can wet your appetite with the video below.

It Came From Canada: The Witcher Battle Arena

Posted by Jordan Minor on December 22nd, 2014

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt may still be a few months away, but very soon players will be able to get a new taste of the acclaimed Polish RPG on their mobile devices with The Witcher Battle Arena. While it trades open-world exploration for compact multiplayer brawls, we see how much of that old Witcher charm remains in this edition of It Came From Canada!

The Witcher Battle Arena definitely has a lot of MOBA elements, but its changes are significant enough to keep it from fitting squarely into that genre. Players choose from a handful of characters from Witcher lore, like lumbering trolls or agile archers, each with their own skills to master like giant arrows or fire storms. From there they team up with two other players to fight another team of three, whether it’s online humans or bots, to the death.


But instead of using typical MOBA ideas like creeps or lanes or turrets or crystals, here battles boil down to direct confrontations and capturing outposts. To whittle their opponents’ health to zero, players kill their foes as well as maintain control over the three outposts as long as possible. Conquering a neutral outpost takes just a few moments, but once they are all quickly snapped up, players must last long enough to completely steal control points for their team. This back and forth makes up much of the game. Although the limited arenas are compact to the point of claustrophobic, teams must still make sure not to spread themselves too thin as they try to take enemy territory while simultaneously protecting the base. The variety of skills and shop upgrades add to the tactics, and just one well-executed surge can move a match from a stalemate to a decisive victory in minutes. It’s about being in the thick of constant carnage instead of sneakily circumventing it looking for the last kill. Compared to most MOBAs, it’s less detached.


It also looks pretty good considering its unenviable position of being compared to a gorgeous AAA console cousin. The smaller maps allow for more details and the grim fantasy aesthetic of The Witcher shines through. It may not surpass Vainglory’s visuals, which are a graphical showcase for iOS MOBAs and iOS games (period), but it’s impressive nonetheless.

Just as The Witcher refuses to be like all other RPGs, The Witcher Battle Arena rejects rigid MOBA conventions. We’ll see how well that pays off when the game fully launches soon.

It Came From Canada: Heavenstrike Rivals

Posted by Jordan Minor on December 11th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: HEAVENLY STRATEGIC :: Read Review »

Over their long history, Square Enix has become synonymous with big, epic, blockbuster Japanese RPGs. But while mobile may be a great place for ports of classics like Chrono Trigger, when crafting a new game the company has to make something a little more modest than Final Fantasy XII 3. Heavenstrike Rivals is that new game, and we see how well it lives up to its pedigree in this edition of It Came From Canada!

While the game was made in collaboration with English studio Mediatonic, it’s hard not to notice the Final Fantasy style all over it. From the exciting but ultimately nonsensical name, to the plot involving brave youths rescuing a quaint and vaguely European world from a rising darkness, it’s pretty obvious where this game comes from. Fortunately it also has production values that rival its AAA cousins. The illustrated artwork is luscious and detailed, battle animations for the chibi characters are a delight, and the jaunty music sets the mood for adventure.

And players will need to be in the mood because Heavenstrike Rivals' strategic gameplay will demand a lot of their time, even if it is broken up into chunks via energy meters. Using units they’ve gathered, players face off against opponents on a board game-like grid. The goal is to have their army reach the end and begin attacking the other player directly. However, this requires fighting through the enemy units coming after them. It’s a straightforward idea, and the compact arena limits more extravagant strategies, but the game does offer depth through its unit variety.

Players gain access to more of their forces over the course of the round, and knowing all their quirks is where the fun begins. From the fighters’ increasing strength, to the scouts’ multiple hits, to the defenders’ shields, to the gunners’ range, effectively combining these abilities is the key to an effective squad. Plus it’s just satisfying to watch an enemy fall for your carefully planned trap. Outside of battle players can improve their squad even more by leveling-up stats, modifying magic users, and recruiting special vanguards to lead the assault.

A few years ago, Square Enix released a little strategy game for DSiWare called Dragon Quest Wars that entertained in a way similar to Heavenstrike Rivals. We’ll see if the larger App Store audience will be as receptive when the new game launches worldwide soon.

It Came From Canada - Moonrise

Posted by Jordan Minor on December 9th, 2014

I think by now we all know that when pocket-sized elemental creatures with awesome powers are afoot, there’s really no other choice than to try and collect all of them. And in case that last sentence wasn’t clear enough, yes, Moonrise is a lot like Pokémon. But it does put its own spin on monster battling, and we find out just how original it is in this edition of It Came From Canada!

When a peaceful race of creatures known as the Solari is corrupted into bestial Lunari through “Moonrise,” it’s up to the player to tame and purify them. But Moonrise's world isn’t all dark and foreboding. The game opens with the player graduating into a Warden, and it feels like a friendly martial arts exam. Still, the mood is oddly dour for such a kid-friendly genre, and part of that is due to the aesthetic. Instead of the expressive and cutesy anime characters one might expect, people look weirdly old and realistic, wearing contemporary clothing while exploring ancient ruins. The monsters themselves are more stylized, which is a given considering names like Snaptrap and Buzzle, but they also have a strange, earthy edge that tips over into almost frightening. But style aside, when it comes to visuals, what the game should focus on before launch is fixing its erratic frame rate and overall sluggish feel.

Players can take on quests and visit side towns, but monster battles are where it’s really at. In the wild, players encounter savage Lunari and can either defeat them outright or trap and train them with their limited Warden keys. Elemental match-ups follow the typical rock-paper-scissors formula where water beats fire, fire beats grass, and so on. Players can also challenge rival Wardens. Once the fighting starts, players launch their attacks in real-time. However, different attacks have different recharge periods, so players must juggle between different skills to keep up the offensive. They can use two Solari at a time and swap between them at will. Players can even use lengthy but powerful attacks of their own to give their team an extra push. It’s hard to say if this system is any better than a standard turn-based one, but at least it is different.

History has shown that the only things people “gotta catch” all of are these monster battling games themselves. Players will get their chance to snag Moonrise when the game launches worldwide soon.

It Came From Canada: Blades of Brim

Posted by Jordan Minor on November 19th, 2014

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.

It Came From Canada - New Zealand Edition - Call of Duty: Heroes

Posted by Jordan Minor on November 18th, 2014

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.

It Came From Canada: Creature Academy

Posted by Jordan Minor on November 7th, 2014

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.

It Came From Canada: Seabeard

Posted by Jordan Minor on November 6th, 2014

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.

It Came From Canada: Gems of War

Posted by Jordan Minor on November 4th, 2014

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.

Gems of War is a New Match-3 Puzzler from the Makers of Puzzle Quest

Posted by Rob Rich on October 28th, 2014

Remember Puzzle Quest? Just about everybody loved Puzzle Quest, and the team behind the match-3 game that made match-3 games interesting again is back with a sort of spiritual successor to their puzzle/RPG hybrid: Gems of War.

Gems of War has a lot in common with Infinite Interactive’s earlier game. You get to match colored runes to activate spells and skills, you can match skulls to damage your enemies, and there’s decidedly some leveling-up going on behind closed doors (note: the doors aren’t closed - they’re actually wide open). However, things have been streamlined a bit as well.

Regrettably there’s no crafting in Gems of War, but you’ll be able to fight other players in asynchronous battles and can even join a guild with other players. Emphasis has also been placed on your characters this time around, with you being able to create a party using your chosen hero, a weapon, and three other characters to assist you in combat. Different characters (of which there are over 100 planned) require different runes to activate their abilities, and they can be leveled-up using materials taken from selling off the useless ones.

Another nice feature is that both iOS and Android users will be able to play with (or against) each other, and can even access their account across multiple platforms.

Gems of War will be hitting the App Store for free sometime before the holiday season.

Here's How the Apple Watch Could Transform iOS Gaming

Posted by Blake Grundman on October 17th, 2014


With the Apple Watch’s generic release date of, “early 2015” hovering on the horizon, it's only a matter of time before gamers begin to ask “What’s in it for us?” The obvious choice would be to place entire games directly on the face of the watch, but its limited form factor could prove to be a problem - to say the least. We've thought long and hard about the impending reality of wearable entertainment and decided to think outside of the box a bit. Here are just a few of the ideas of what developers might have waiting for us very soon.

Let's Talk About Ember, from N-Fusion Interactive

Posted by Rob Rich on October 14th, 2014

I’d like to think that we’re all familiar with N-Fusion Interactive, but for those of you who aren’t, I imagine you’ve at least heard of some of the games they've been involved with: Space Noir, Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded, and Deus Ex: The Fall to name a few. The studio has done some pretty impressive work on iOS over the years, and now they’re getting ready to release the RPG they’ve always wanted to make.

The world of Ember seems like a fascinating one. The game is titles after the world's most valuable natural resource, which is used for all sorts of things from providing energy to a city to being set in jewelry. What’s more, it has intelligence. The larger the chunk of Ember, the smarter it is, to the point that you might find yourself squaring off against some rather (understandably) hostile giant crystals.

Ember also plays into your story, not just the over-arching story of the world. Throughout the game you’ll acquire Ember shards, which you can then decide to sell off for a tidy profit or set free - much like freeing or harvesting a Little Sister when you stop and think about it. Creepy.

Ember can best be compared to PC classics like Ultima and Baldur’s Gate. It uses a top-down isometric perspective, sure, but the similarities go a bit further than that. The world is also incredibly large, and will never need to load when traveling from one area to another. It has day/night cycles, weather, multiple homes to own, NPCs have their own schedules and behaviors that they keep to, and even the animals interact with each other (i.e. cats chase mice, wolves hunt deer, etc) on their own.

Items are also liberally sprinkled throughout the world (think just about anything Elder Scrolls) and all of them can be picked up. Or dropped, of course. There’s also a crafting system, so you’ll be able to turn ore you’ve mined into a new weapon or mix potions using materials gathered from the woods. And yes, there are readable books.

Combat is in real time, but you can pause the action at any point while you plan your tactics and activate skills. And speaking of skills, they’re tied to your equipment as opposed to being in some sort of tree. The reasoning behind this is simple: to prevent players from getting “stuck” playing a class they decide they don’t like. If you’re 12 hours in (the game touts 30 hours of gameplay, 180 quests, innumerable sidequests, etc) and decide focusing on melee combat isn’t doing it for you, it’ll be easy to start playing around with fireballs and lighting bolts instead. And of course when you put on new gear and equip new weapons they’ll all show up on your character.

There’s no official release date for Ember yet, but it’s coming along nicely and looks to be close to completion based on the build I was shown. Pricing is also still up in the air, but it’s definitely going to be a premium title - no ads, timers, etc. At the moment it’s being designed for the iPad, but I’ve been told there’s a chance we may see a separate iPhone version as well. Either way I can’t wait to get my hands on it.