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It Came From Canada: Super Monkey Ball Bounce, Sega's Take on Peggle

Posted by Carter Dotson on May 20th, 2014

Just announced on Monday, May 19, Super Monkey Ball Bounce also showed its face in the Canadian App Store. This free-to-play game puts a Pachinko and Peggle spin on the game of monkeys in spheres. So, I sealed by plastic ball up tight and crossed the border for this edition of It Came From Canada!

This game is very Peggle-like. It uses many of the same tropes and gameplay setups as Peggle does. The general mission is to pop the various star pegs, with other pegs existing as opportunities to get bonus points, including randomly-placed multiplier pegs. Power-up pegs also exist, which grant an ability based on the selected character, though ones beyond AiAi require playing the game to certain levels to unlock. AiAi's is a guided line, which is pretty much identical to the first character in Peggle, though other power-ups start to show some variety. Still, this skews closer to the Peggle formula than even what Papa Pear Saga did - though the physics feel a lot more consistent than King's take on the genre.

How does Super Monkey Ball Bounce operate within the confines of its monetization? The game uses a currency of gold bars, which come with a free supply at the start but are either not earned or only infrequently so. What can be bought with them? Well, there are boost power-ups that players can take into levels with them, including the power-ups of other characters. Also, a slot machine that can be played for every ten spins can get guaranteed win spins for the cost of a few gold bars.

As well, continues can be had for gold bars. That's likely where the money-making comes in: levels can start to ramp up in difficulty, and the temptation to spend real-world money on gold may just set in. As well, there's a lives system like Candy Crush Saga (with a level progression map just like it as well), and these run out whenever the player fails a level, though connecting with Facebook friends can earn more lives.

The monetization might be an interesting thing to track at the final release. Super Monkey Ball Bounce is a slow burn early on so it might not make money for a while, or the early part of the game might get a bump up in difficulty. It'll be interesting to see how Sega approaches this once it releases worldwide.

Sega Releases Coin-Collecting and Dragon-Battling RPG Hybrid, Dragon Coins

Posted by Carter Dotson on May 12th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Sega has announced their new game, Dragon Coins. This takes the coin-collecting gameplay popularized by titles such as Coin Dozer and mixes it with RPG battling. The coins that players drop onto a pile to try and collect go toward charging attacks to take out enemies, with upgrades for being a better battler. And of course, dragons are all throughout the game, because who doesn't love dragons?

Dragon Coins is available now for free.

It Came From Canada: Crazy Taxi City Rush

Posted by Carter Dotson on April 25th, 2014

Sega's Crazy Taxi City Rush is an interesting game: it takes Crazy Taxi and manages to turn it into a more casual-friendly lane-based auto-runner, akin to Subway Surfers, or even Sonic Dash, developed by the same team. The game is currently out in Canada, and we grabbed our keys and set out to make some crazy money in this edition of It Came From Canada!

While the game is more of an auto-runner now, it still has that Crazy Taxi spirit, and it's not just straightforward. Players swipe between different lanes, collecting Crazy Throughs for close calls with traffic, drifting around corners and into turns, and even side-swiping cars at high speed. The gear-shifting and braking is gone, as is picking up passengers, which all happens automatically. It rally does manage to feel like a more casual Crazy Taxi while still feeling like, well, Crazy Taxi. There's even a punk soundtrack, but no Offspring or Bad Religion.

The thing that is a bit concerning with the game is the rigidity. The original game played things very fast and loose, and that was part of the fun. The lane-based gameplay makes weaving in and out of traffic in two lanes a lot harder, and makes more slow-down crashes happen at a much higher rate. Certainly the spirit of chaotic driving is still there, but it isn't perfectly represented. I certainly understand the simplification, though.

As far as the free-to-play aspects go, there is an energy system and the standard two-tier currency: coins for buying common upgrades, rarer gems for things like energy refills. The energy system feels a bit short, allowing for six level plays before having to spend gems. As well, energy seems silly when one could pass the time by going and playing the original Crazy Taxi. But I imagine this is meant to appeal to more of a casual crowd that might find Crazy Taxi hard to pick up. Sonic Dash launched at a premium price point, and I don't think that it's a guarantee that Crazy Taxi City Rush will be free-to-play when it goes worldwide, because it certainly feels like it could stand as a 'paymium' game. Of course, time will tell just what gets tweaked and what the final decision for the game's release is.

It'll be interesting to see what the reaction from the gaming public will be, at least. Dungeon Keeper certainly made people angry, and as a Dreamcast game, Crazy Taxi has a cult fanbase too. A free-to-play game might not go over well, even though the game itself is more a casualification than anything else.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Now Free, to Add New Iconic Characters and Elements

Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 24th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: MORE RINGS :: Read Review »

SEGA's kart-inspired racing romp Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is now free. Additionally, on April 29, players will be able to enjoy two new members on the character roster: Wreck-It Ralph and Metal Sonic, who are both unlockable.

There are also two new tracks, Galactic Parade and Outrun Bay, and a new Boss Cup Challenge.

From the press release:

Dropping the price to free brings Sonic’s high speed hijinks to a wider audience and expands the multiplayer community. With more iconic characters, more challenging modes, and more twisting tracks, there’s never been a better time to join the race. To thank everyone who helped make the original launch a success, SEGA has gifted players a VIP Pass valued at $4.99 that features four playable characters including the blue blur, Sonic himself. In addition, the game will remain completely ad-free for those who first bought the game.

We recently reviewed the game; Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is available for download on the App Store for free.

Crazy Taxi: City Rush Announced - Hitting iOS later this year

Posted by Jeff Scott on March 14th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Crazy Taxi: City Rush, is the upcoming casual arcade title from Sega, inspired by the great classic, Crazy Taxi. In the original game (also available on iOS here), you drive around a city inspired by San Francisco looking for fairs and delivering them to their destinations. City Rush takes similar gameplay and makes it feel a bit more like an endless runner - but keeps the Crazy Taxi wacky flair.

In its decidedly early state, the game shows a lot of promise. Set up to be a free-to-play game (you can tell by the in-game currencies and an energy system), it will all come down to how restrictive the energy system is. A restrictive energy system will kill a good game as it saps your will to come back after a while.

But, gameplay monetization aside, the game is fast paced, fun, well made, and I'm always happy to have more Crazy Taxi. We've got exclusive video below of a couple runs with the game. We are expecting the game to launch later this year, though it's in soft launch now.

Rhythm Thief & The Paris Caper Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Lucy Ingram on January 15th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: DANCING FEVER
It may be an abridged version of a classic 3DS game, but Rhythm Thief & The Paris Caper holds its own and is both a charming and enjoyable rhythm game.
Read The Full Review »

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on January 3rd, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: MORE RINGS
A great racing game, damaged by a business model more fitting of a free-to-play game than a $4.99 one.
Read The Full Review »

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Brings Shape-Shifting Kart Racing to the App Store

Posted by Rob Rich on January 2nd, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: MORE RINGS :: Read Review »

Buckle up and other appropriate driving-related puns because Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is officially available on the App Store.

This new iteration of Sonic's kart racing antics features a mobile exclusive world tour - in addition to all those crazy transforming vehicles of course. You'll have your pick of 10 different racers (Sonic, Tails, Robotnik, and more) as you attempt to best your friends' times - or simply beat the pants off them outright - across several branching tracks. Tracks that don't always involve moving along solid ground.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is available now for $4.99.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Gets the Remastering Treatment, With the Long-Lost Hidden Palace Level Restored

Posted by Carter Dotson on December 13th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarstar :: :: Read Review »

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has been given the remastering treatment by Sega and Christian Whitehead, who presided over the Sonic CD remake and original Sonic the Hedgehog remake that released earlier this year. Available as a free update to the previously-emulated version on the App Store, Sonic 2 contains some cool new goodies along with widescreen and iPad support.

Unlike Sonic CD and the original Sonic the Hedgehog, which were both games that only let players control Sonic in their original versions, Sonic 2 was much more comprehensive with its characters. Tails made his first appearance in Sonic 2. Knuckles showed up later, but was patched in to the game for people who locked-on Sonic 2 to Sonic & Knuckles. However, Tails has been given the ability to fly where users couldn’t control it in the Genesis original.

Thus, the big addition to this game is Hidden Palace. Sonic 2 is pretty well-known for having had a few levels left on the cutting room floor, discovered through leaked betas. One of the most intriguing pieces that was abandoned was a level called Hidden Palace. While the name and perhaps its giant emeralds were reused in Sonic 3, how it would fit into Sonic 2 was never quite known and this level in particular has only been found in an unfinished form. But now Christian Whitehead has gotten to add the level to the game, finished it up, and given it a proper conclusion - including a brand-new boss fight.

Finding the level isn’t too difficult: one particular quasi-bottomless pit near the middle of the game that would just kill players with spikes has become the entrance to Hidden Palace. You’ll probably discover it accidentally. Or, just watch the video below!

There’s still a good selection of secrets to be had. To access level select, go into No Save Mode, and tap on the letters S-E-G-A in order. Then, tap and hold with two fingers on the title screen to access the level select. Here you can select any level, including Hidden Palace.

You can use the Sound Test to put in cheats. Playing 4–1–2–6 will give you all 7 Chaos Emeralds. Playing 1–9–9–2–1–1–2–4 will unlock debug mode; tap in the upper left corner to turn into an item. Use the + and - icons that appear to cycle between icons. There’s some unused item boxes that can be placed, and ones that only appear in the two-player mode.

And oh, that’s been preserved too - and now the two-player race mode supports Game Center online multiplayer. There’s no iCade support, but MFi gamepads are supported.

Even beyond the new additions, considering that Sonic 2 is a game that holds up incredibly well to this day even without any additions, this is a must-have for fans and anyone who has yet to play this classic. The game is a free update to those who owned the previous original emulated version, and is available now.

Demon Tribe Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Arron Hirst on November 25th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: LET BATTLE COMMENCE!
Demon Tribe is a MOBA experience which has SEGA's classic stamp all over it, but it's also a battle title with few options for the single player.
Read The Full Review »

Castle of Illusion Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on November 25th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: MAGICAL
Castle of Illusion resurrects a gaming classic with modern standards.
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Demon Tribe Lets Players Fuse Together Over 250 Unique Demons, Mixes MOBA Gameplay with Card Collecting and Action-RPGs

Posted by Andrew Stevens on November 21st, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: LET BATTLE COMMENCE! :: Read Review »

SEGA's Demon Tribe is now available as a free-to-play title created by Masayoshi Kikuchi - the producer and director of the Panzer Dragoon Series, the Yakuza series, and Jet Set Radioooooooooooo! The game offers real-time MOBA-style gameplay mixed with card collecting and action-rpg elements, and players are able to fuse together and summon over 250 unique demons to attack opponents. It features both single player and co-op play with up to 3v3 player-vs-player clan battles.

“We’ve created a unique experience that delves into the magical land of demons and monsters in a never before seen way,” said SEGA Producer and Director Masayoshi Kikuchi. “Demon Tribe brings together elements of our favorite genres as the game experience is filled with fast, responsive action while offering an amazing level of depth and detailed RPG elements.”

Sonic Dash Gets a Boss Battle Update, Lets Players Fight Against Zazz From Lost World

Posted by Andrew Stevens on November 1st, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: SAFE DASH :: Read Review »

Sonic Dash received a new update that lets users enjoy features from Sonic Lost World. This includes a boss battle against Zazz, who is a member of the devastating six, and new cards to collect that are based on each member. Now go watch this video, update the app, and defeat the evil Zazz!

SEGA to Launch Four New Mobile Titles - Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, Sonic The Hedgehog 2, Demon Tribe, and Rhythm Thief

Posted by Andrew Stevens on October 21st, 2013

SEGA is set to have an exciting fall on mobile with the launch of four new titles: Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, Sonic The Hedgehog 2, Demon Tribe, and Rhythm Thief and the Paris Caper. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has a November release date, while Sonic Racing Transformed and Demon Tribe are listed as Winter 2013. Rhythm Thief is expect in early 2014.

I certainly can't wait to get my hands on Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed once again, and the blending of MOBA, card collecting, and action-rpg gameplay of Demon Tribe should be interesting to check out. Rhythm Thief should also be a welcome addition to mobile. Gimme now, SEGA!

“As the audience for mobile gaming continues to grow, we’re proud to expand our portfolio of digital titles with a wide array of genres,” said SEGA of America Vice President of Digital Business, Chris Olson, in a press release. “With card collecting and MOBA-style battles in Demon Tribe™, mystery solving timed to the beat in Rhythm Thief & the Paris Caper™, and chart topping tracks in GO DANCE™, SEGA’s latest portable offerings have something for everyone.”

The Cave Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Blake Grundman on October 7th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: UNCONTROLLABLE CREATIVITY
A sad example of not all platforms being equal, especially when poor touch controls are in the mix.
Read The Full Review »