I recently had a chance to play around with the upcoming Knights of Pen & Paper 2 from Paradox Interactive. I was a huge fan of the first game, so I had a lot of expectations going into it - and I wasn't disappointed. The game has gotten some serious upgrades including a sweet jump to 16bit graphics, new dynamically generated dungeons, and expanded crafting systems for equipment.
There was mention of the existence and upcoming release of Bossa Studios’ (Surgeon Simulator, I Am Bread) SPY_WATCH, but now things are different. Now it’s something I’m super-anxious to get my hands on when it releases tomorrow - and I don’t think I should be the only one.
I actually had my first look at Fearless Fantasy last year at E3, but it was on a PC so there wasn't much for me to talk about. But now that I've been able to play with a pre-release version of the iOS build, there's quite a bit for me to talk about.
The story so far has been every bit as weird and it seems on the surface, thanks almost entirely to the oddball characters. What's impressive is that it all works. It's not just silly for the sake of silliness. Okay, well, it might be but it's actually pretty funny, and not in a "so awful it's good" sort of way, either.
The incredibly weird visuals struck me as a little off-putting at first, but once I got to see everything in motion it became very endearing. A lot of these enemies behave in extremely strage ways that you might not expect, and many of the combat animations are a combination of cool and surreal.
Combat mechanics and overall sructure are what really make Fearless Fantasy stand out on iOS, though. The story is broken up into several individuals levels, which are themselves made up of a set number of encounters. These encounters can be played (and replayed) on one of three different difficulties, and as you'd expect the rewards go up as the challenge increases. It's not just that enemies absorb and deal more damage, though - as you move from Casual through Normal and eventually on to Veteran the combat itself will get harder, with more complicated inputs required for both attacking and defending.
But oh, the combat. It's easily my favorite part of Fearless Fantasy so far and almost as easily my favorite approach to combat out of any iOS RPG I've played. When an enemy attacks, you'll have to perform a sort of mini-game where you'll be tapping on circles as the rings surrounding them close in or swiping through arrows in a specific pattern. The thing is, the harder the difficulty the more mobile these symbols are - to the point where you'll need to start familirizing yourself with the types of attacks most enemies like to use if you want to avoid failing to block.
Attacking works much the same way as defending, only if you mess up you deal less (or no) damage. What's great is that as each of the three characters gains more powerful abilities, they'll be able to string together longer chains of attacks for even greater potential damage. It also means that the mini-games get more complex, creating a cool synergy between a character's actions on-screen and your actions... on-screen. Whatever, it works really well and it's cool.
Fearless Fantasy hasn't graced the App Store with its presence yet, but you can be certain we'll let you know when it does. This is definitely a mobile RPG to keep an eye on.
Mutant League Football is probably one of the (if not the) most beloved alternative football video games in history. At least as far as an adoring, nostalgia-driven cult following goes. And after what feels like decades, because it has been decades, the ultra violent and gloriously twisted take on one of America's most popular sports is back! Or at least it's trying to come back.
Series creator Michael Mendheim has turned to Kickstarter to try and bring the spiritual successor of the EA classic to multiple platforms, including iOS! The project is still in the early stages, but the plan is to keep all the violence and tongue-in-cheek humor fans have been craving intact.
As one of those fans who's been lamenting the distinct lack of Mutant League over the past 20 years, I could not be more excited about this. Of course it's too soon to know how it's going to turn out, or even if it's going to meet its $750,000 goal in time, but simply knowing that the series' creator is interested in bringing it back is more than enough for me!
I freaking love mech games. It’s just a shame that this is a largely ignored genre on the App Store. Or at least it was, until Small Impact Games took it upon themselves to show it some love.
M3CH looks to be the answer to iOS mech combat fans’ prayers. Of course showing a little love yourself on the developer’s Kickstarter page might speed things up a bit. It evokes a similar feeling to other gritty/semi-realistic mech piloting titles and sports some pretty impressive production values. I had to pry myself away to ask M3CH’s animator, James Rowbotham, about Small Impact Games’ baby.
Were there any particularly major influences in the design of M3CH's world? I know it's not exactly the same but I'm getting a pretty strong Steel Battalion vibe from it.
At the time 3D iOS games exploded, we were playing a very mixed bag of games but fortunately they were all with the same genre, Mechs! We just loved the direction the iOS store was heading, it was screaming for a game with user-friendly touch-screen controls but with the in depth details you get in our favourite mech games.
Surprisingly however, Killzone 2 was a big inspiration in terms of AI and cover based action. What some mech games lack is the use of buildings as cover and enemy’s that work together to out flank you, something we saw that had been untapped in the genre (a lot of open spaces/terrain), so we looked at the great AI in Killzone and their behaviour and found a way to work it into our game.
You folks have done a bang-up job with the control scheme. Was it the product of rigorous testing and polishing or did you know right from the start how you wanted to handle it?
The aim with M3CH since the beginning has been to try and create an iOS game that doesn't feel like it’s an iOS game, and more like a console experience. Touchscreen controls are notorious for being hard to use and something that we really wanted to nail. We went through a lot of different iterations to get to where we are now; having both shoot buttons on one side, holding down shoot instead of the auto toggle system, putting the shoot buttons on the thumbsticks and a lot more. We are keeping open minded about it and although we are getting later into development if we have an idea for an even better control set then we will be sure to test it out!
Were there any mech designs you wanted to include that ended up being scrapped?
There are quite a few that didn't make it into the game (we already have 40 different mechs in the game). At the moment we have a mix of legs styles such as reversed legs in the game but [an] animalistic style is something we are keen on in terms of animation and how the mechs behave.
What exactly are your plans for the multiplayer?
We are hitting some technical limitations which means it most likely be 1-on-1 to start with. We would love to get a larger number of players battling at the same time (8v8 is the dream!), especially where the winning players get new weapons unlocked and credits to spend. At the moment its deathmatch style gameplay but we have plans set for objective based multiplayer.
Are you allowed to talk pricing? It’s still early days but we are hoping for around the £1.99 [$2.99] price range. One thing we are certain of however is that we don't want pushy monetization and in-app purchasing interrupting your gameplay experience, all mechs and weapons are attainable without too much grinding and we reward dedicated hard working players with big payouts.
How about a release date? As for a released date, a lot of that depends on the kickstarter campaign, if we are successful then we are aiming for an April release this year.
Greedy Bankers Vs. The World was only the beginning for Alistair Aitcheson. Now we have Slamjet Stadium to satisfy our same-screen multiplayer desires. Think football re-imagined by a bunch of aliens who were trying to piece the rules together a couple hundred years from now and you'll have the basic gist of it.
Where exactly did you pull Slamjet Stadium's inspiration from? Not just the wacky-looking gameplay; I'm talking about the physical roughhousing, too. Super-intense family game nights as a young boy perhaps?
Haha, I don't know really! I'm generally a fairly calm and friendly guy. I was never into rough-housing at all when I was a kid! I am very competitive though, as my friends know - I'll always be looking for a way to mess up my rivals in any game.
So I wanted to experiment more with this kind of game design. The original prototype for Slamjet Stadium came out of a big batch of experimental multiplayer games I did over the summer and tested out in the pub.
Often you'll find yourself scoring by spotting a really awesome shot or powerup, so paying attention to the board is really important. Hand-grabbing is certainly a useful tactic, but it's only one way of doing things. That makes play really dynamic. One moment it could be best to play rough, the next moment you might need to think fast, or play accurately.
While we're on the subject of the multiplayer, how are you going to influence players to stop being polite?
People tend to jostle as much or as little as they feel comfortable with, and surprisingly that's usually quite a lot! There's typically a "eureka" moment when one player realizes they can get in the way of their friend, or use their opponent's characters instead of their own. The physicality often grows from there!
So I've put messages in the loading screens suggesting ways you can "cheat." The game's advising you to play foul, so it must be okay! That eureka moment has to inspire creative play, so it's important that players know that the game isn't degenerating into chaos.
Would you mind going into a few specifics? Stuff like general gameplay, number of teams, differences between teams (if any), etc.
Each player gets two characters on a team, and the rules are fairly simple. You grab a character with your finger, pull back to charge their engines, and let go to send them flying across the screen. You want to hit the ball into your opponent's goal, and the first to score five points wins the match.
There are also various power-ups and stage hazards that appear: rage power to smash up your opponents' characters, freeze power that traps them in ice, multiball release, powerful gusts of wind.
My favorite activates "Last Man Standing" mode, where traps come in from the side of the screen, and it's up to you to avoid them (or throw your opponents into them); a point is awarded to the survivor!
There are nine different arenas in the game, with different effects and hazards. As for the teams, there are six to choose from and each has different physical properties: shape, weight, boost power and grip.
Are there going to be multiple game modes? Might we be able to look forward to something similar in a future update?
Right now it's split into Multiplayer and Solo Play. In solo, you take on a gauntlet of computer-controlled opponents over three leagues of increasing difficulty. Beating each one unlocks an extra multiplayer stage, and you can compete via GameCenter over your fastest completion times.
In Multiplayer it's very much a quickmatch format: you choose your teams and arenas, and can have a rematch or pick new teams after someone wins. I'll probably add some extra variations and setups in updates; I guess it depends on what players want to see after the initial launch. My focus was on getting players into the action as fast as possible.
All the elbow-slamming, wrist-grabbing, butt-nudging madness of Slamjet Stadium can be unleashed upon your iPad on March 14th for $2.99.
A number of players have been able to enjoy Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances in all its meticulously strategic glory for almost a full year now, but the experience has been tied specifically to web browsers. That’s a problem that will cease to exist in the near future.
Fans of the series should note that this isn’t a typical C&C. It’s not real-time strategy and its not divided into small half-hour long skirmishes. Each of the game’s 50,000 (that’s “fifty-thousand”) player servers houses a gigantic circular world map. Players begin on the outside and attempt to fight their way to the middle, which is far easier said than done. Simply reaching the center of the map can take months of planning and teamwork, and then there’s the matter of holding on to the bases that sit within those areas. Comparing this to the original series is sort of like comparing checkers to chess.
Tiberium Alliances is an incredibly player-driven experience. Hence the “Alliances.” NOD and GDI exist pretty much in name only here as player-formed groups can and will consist of both. Once these alliances have been established it’s up to the participants to figure everything out. Who wants to play the heavy hitter? Who wants to act as support? When will so-and-so be on so that you can coordinate an attack against a nearby enemy outpost in order to take it over and gain its bonuses for your alliance? There’s a ridiculous amount of strategy to be found if players are willing to travel deep enough into the rabbit hole.
Combat is also a rather involved affair with specific units gaining an automatic advantage over specific defenses and vice-versa. By the same token, different buildings within a base have different levels of importance in a fight. The Defense Facility, for example, will repair other buildings over time. Take it out and the base will take a while to get back to full strength. Or there’s always the Construction Yard. Kill that and the base is toast regardless. Of course not all bases can be overrun in a single attack, which is why it’s vital to communicate with other alliance members and really plan complex maneuvers ahead of time.
The overall experience is largely unchanged from the browser-based version, with the exception of a new touch-based interface. However, once the iOS version is released Tiberium Alliances will be totally cross-platform with players able to manage their bases and assemble armies on their computer, then immediately jump in where they left off on their mobile devices if need be. Which will be a boon for any serious players as the community is looking pretty intense and involved. In a good way.
Anyone interested in checking out Tiberium Alliances can do so right now through their web browser, of course. But in another month or so the entire life devouring, free-to-play strategy monster will go cross platform. And then there won’t be anywhere left to hide.
I unfortunately missed out on the chance to play Rage of the Gladiator when it was originally released on the Wii, despite my legitimate interest. Luckily I’ve gotten a second chance because Gamelion is porting it over to iOS devices as a fully re-mastered and arguably definitive version.
The basic story is that Gracius, the main character and gladiator extraordinaire, is fighting for his freedom and for revenge against those who’ve slain his father. How? By cutting a swathe through a horde of inhuman bosses. Anyone who’s played Infinity Blade will be familiar with the adapted control scheme (tap arrows to dodge left/right, tap buttons to block, swipe to attack), but combat in Rage of the Gladiator feels decidedly more arcade-like than Epic’s, well, epic. Attack and response time is a bit faster, fights are broken up into three “rounds” much like a boxing match, and there are a number of weapons and skills to unlock and purchase as you progress.
Again, while Rage of the Gladiator is indeed similar to that other popular swipe fighter it’s not exactly a carbon copy. There’s a noticeable emphasis on giving each combatant their own personality, and with the addition of a jump button and some rather complex combo attacks it can be quite the ordeal to make it through a fight in decent shape. It‘s definitely a challenge but every pattern can be learned eventually and it can be exceedingly satisfying to knock a particularly bothersome foe in the jaw with a warhammer in slow motion.
Anyone interested in a first-person arcade-esque gladiatorial beat down should keep an eye on the App Store. There’s no official word on a price but Rage of the Gladiator is set to release sometime in November.
Who doesn’t love a good word game? Nobody, that’s who! With this in mind EA Mobile is working on Word Smack, a new free-to-play spelling puzzler that takes its cues from Mastermind and Hangman.
Word Smack is, at its core, an asynchronous multiplayer word game where the highest score wins the match. Players will have to guess their assigned words using only a couple of hints and their personal spelling knowledge, with proper guesses leading to new words and potentially more points. Once they’ve exhausted their allotted 15 guesses their turn is over, however, so it pays to stop and think for a bit rather than charge blindly ahead. Of course that’s just the first round. The two that follow get progressively more difficult but also yield higher points. So really, it’s the final round that can make all the difference. Assuming someone hasn’t totally botched the first two, anyway.
Word Smack is due out this fall, and it won’t set you back a single pe--y.
Did the Battleship movie get you all pumped up and ready to take on some hostile aliens? Yeah, me neither. In fact it was fairly unimpressive. ClassicBattleship, on the other hand, is all kinds of alright. EA Mobile’s upcoming Battleship Airstrike looks to sit somewhere in the middle, containing the spirit of the classic board game and coupling it with a faster-paced asynchronous multiplayer experience.
Imagine a typical game of Battleship. Each player takes their turn one shot at a time, trying to find their opponent and sink their fleet before they meet a similar fate. Battleship Airstrike ratchets the formula up a bit by allowing players to take multiple shots per turn. In addition to that, special limited use shots can be purchased with money earned through play in order to gain some possible advantages. Advantages such as destroying a ship with a single hit or deploying a kind of artillery sonar that doesn’t cause damage but will reveal vessel locations within a certain number of tiles.
Once a turn is completed - which may consist of several strategic bombings and even paying for repairs on your own damaged (damaged, not destroyed) ships - it’s all submitted to the servers and the opposition is alerted. Typical asynchronous multiplayer stuff, really. It’s more the mold-breaking multi shot turns and special shells (not to mention the possibility of repairs!) that make Battleship Airstrike enticing.
Battleship Airstrike should be out sometime this fall.
I profess I tend to spend a decent amount of time playing virtual solitaire these days, mostly thanks to some ridiculously early commutes. So it’s a game I’m quite familiar with, although I haven’t come anywhere close to mastering it. Why is this significant? Because Popcap is bringing their popular Facebook adaptation, Solitaire Blitz to iOS and I’m expecting to have a grand old time with it.
The rules of Solitaire Blitz are both familiar and totally new. Players still have to empty their cards into piles by following a particular sequence, but suits and linear progression don’t matter anymore. A King can be tossed on a Queen, to be followed by another Queen, then a Jack. Or it could go 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, Ace. But while this might sound like the challenge has been sucked out of the classic solo card game, the fact of the matter is it still makes for an intense game. Mostly thanks to the never pausing 60-second time limit and slots (up to four) for placing cards that have to be unlocked.
It makes for some rather frantic card shuffling as you attempt to spot anything and everything that can get tossed on a pile, attempt to plan ahead to avoid getting stuck, and search out any cards featuring a key icon that will unlock those essential extra card slots. All of this while the clock keeps ticking down. No specifics have been given regarding price yet but we can all look forward to one of the most intense games of solitaire ever this November.
Theological discussions aside, I imagine it would be pretty tough to build a massive sea-going vessel and then stock it with two of every animal in the world. I also imagine it would be rather difficult to catch up with said super-sized ship once it’s set sail, but that’s exactly what happens in Chillingo’s Catch the Ark.
Noah and a few of his animal buddies have been left behind. Rather than mope around and wait for the floodwaters they decide to get proactive and attempt to chase down the biblical boat. The gameplay, which is still admittedly in fairly early form, takes place on an endless river. Players must guide the tiny raft back and forth in order to avoid obstacles and snag some coinage. These coins can be gathered and used to purchase new dinghies or special power-ups to give their future runs a better chance at success.
I have to admit I was pretty impressed by Catch the Ark, even with the game in such an early form. The visuals are incredibly stylish and colorful, the controls are responsive, and the little detail of animals hanging on the small boat representing “lives” is just brilliant. It’s also worth noting that, at least in this early build, it avoids many of the pitfalls typically associated with Bible-related games. Which is to say it’s more about the game than the Genesis.
Catch the Ark is still too early in development to have an official release date or price, but it’s definitely coming. And it seems like something worth keeping an eye out for.
Imagine a twisted game show in which contestants have to navigate their way through a maze full of hazards in order to earn some potential big bucks. Possibly even their freedom. Okay, not that game. What I’m talking about is Chillingo’s Man in a Maze. It’s a bit less bleak.
For starters, the Man (pictured) is always grinning like a goof. That’s pretty much the tone to expect from Man in a Maze: goofy and lighthearted. In between levels players can potentially spin a large, Price is Right-style wheel for bonuses or even use gems nabbed within a stage to purchase upgrades. Of course the stages themselves can be a bit more punishing than the bright and colorful themes might make them appear.
In my brief time spent with the game I saw a number of variations to the maps, which required completely different strategies. At it’s core, Man in a Maze functions much like a fairly typical maze chase game. Players guide the hapless grinning fool around with a finger drag and attempt to snag gems, avoid enemies, and possibly nail them with a fancy ball or two.
All the family friendly (and universal!) game show of death shenanigans will be coming to the App Store this winter.
What do you think of when I mention fur underwear, lots of muscles, and a really big sword? Okay, it calls a couple of different pop-culture icons to mind but what if I include flowing blond locks and an alter-ego that wears pink tunics? Couldn’t be anyone other than He-Man, could it? Well it is. And The Most Powerful Man in the Universe is getting The Most Powerful Game in the Universe at the end of the month by way of GlitchSoft (Destructopus, Star Marines) and Chillingo.
The developers have teamed-up with Mattel in order to bring the App Store an interactive celebration of the iconic 80’s action figure’s - I mean action hero’s - 30th anniversary. Hem-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe is quite possibly the first iOS Tap n’ Slash, too. Players will tear through several different environments and over 25 levels throughout Eternia as they attempt to thwart Skeletor yet again. The game features destructible environments, un-lockable and upgradeable attacks, hidden artwork, a very tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, and a surprisingly clever control scheme. I didn’t get the chance to play around with it at all but it looks pretty intuitive with the left side for the screen used exclusively for movement and the right for jumping, attacking, and a bunch of special moves.
The glorious homage to one of the manliest toys ever to have graced the 1980s - with its self-referential humor, giant boss battles, and promise of more content in the form of new playable characters and levels in the future - is due out in the App Store at the end of the month, specifically October 25th. I wasn’t able to get a solid price point but it should go for between $0.99 and $1.99. Very soon we’ll all HAAAAVE THE POWEEEEEER! Make sure to use it wisely.
Things are looking pretty grim. A despicable race of alien beings has planted a doomsday device called “The Cosmic Fuse” deep inside the Earth’s core. Rather than wait for a team of semi-washed up actors lead by Hillary Swank to ride a drill train through the center of the Earth we’ve enlisted the help of Verticus, the world’s first (so far as I know) free-falling superhero.
Verticus is a new “endless faller” headed to the App Store courtesy of Moonshark, Controlled Chaos Media (creators of Texting of the Bread), and Stan Lee. Yes, that’s Stan - The Man - Lee. The comic book legend has created a special story and superhero for his first iOS outing, as well as supplying his own voice as the player’s mission commander. Commence geeking out. I was able to have a chat with Moonshark’s CEO, Matt Kozlov, and he filled me in on the whole world-saving affair.
The titular do-gooder must fall his way through the Earth’s atmosphere, past cities and their streets, and beyond its very center in order to reach and diffuse the alien invaders’ bomb. Then he has to make it through to the other side. This isn’t a mere dodge-em-up, however. The fledgling hero will have both offensive and defensive abilities to aid him in his task, as well as a number of upgrades to earn and unlock through multiple playthroughs. So there’s obviously plenty of incentive for multiple replays, what with the upgrades and new suits to earn. It’s also possible (though not necessary) for players to purchase in-game cash to speed up their development if they so desire.
Verticus is slated for a release sometime this fall (we all see what you did there, Moonshark). If you’re too excited to sit idly by and wait for the action to commence, you can also check out the game’s official Facebook page for more details. Oh, and you can enter to win one of a few pieces of official Verticus artwork signed by Stan Lee while you're there, too. Wait, what?