If you go to a casino, you might make a lot of money. If you run a casino, you’re guaranteed to make a lot of money. The choice seems pretty obvious. So while waiting for your shady real estate deals to move forward, get prepared with Tiny Tower Vegas, the latest follow-up to the smash hit sim Tiny Tower. We become mini casino moguls in this latest edition of It Came From Canada!
Tiny Tower Vegas will feel instantly familiar to fans of the original. Players build their gambling empire floor by floor while keeping customers happy and business flowing. New floors need new employees, and players can choose between who the best person for the job is and who is the most affordable. Customize the tower by putting pyramids or Greek statues on the roof, changing interior décor, and even sprucing up the elevator design. Players can also upgrade the elevator’s speed since they’ll be operating it by hand quite often to get guests where they want to go. And it’s all presented in the same great, low-key pixel art style.
But of course, the Las Vegas setting comes with its own demands – even if this seems based on new, classy, family friendly Vegas instead of old, seedy, good Vegas. While some new floors will be the occasional taco bar in need of restocking, the gambling is where the real action lives. Players can try their luck on slot machines and earn extra cash alongside customer revenue. Once the hot streak ends, would-be pit bosses can check up on how their “bitizen” guests are doing by reading the “BitBook” social network, or just sit back and watch the fireworks – the only things brighter than the massive glowing signs.
Current Tiny Tower players shouldn’t expect Tiny Tower Vegas to completely reinvent the wheel after its soft launch phase. It’s got some new ideas, so it’s not just a reskin, but it’s so close to the original it’s more spin-off or expansion pack than sequel. But you can decide for yourself once it fully launches.
For all the hate that it gets for being a pastime for slackers, skateboarding really does require a lot of skill. All those flips and spins take real athleticism, and there’s all the jargon to memorize. Fortunately for us less extreme individuals, Epic Skater makes things a lot simpler by handling all that pesky “moving” business. We check out this upcoming endless runner – or skater, rather – in this edition of It Came From Canada!
Epic Skater always starts with its kid hero bursting out of a dusty old classroom to go skate in the big city. But from there, the game randomly strings together its environments to create a slightly different experience each time. Certain sections will become familiar, but changing the order keeps players on their toes, and their toes on the board. The different backdrops are also lovingly detailed, whether it’s the giant “Epicwood” sign or the various restaurants players skate by after emerging from the sewers. And it’s all brought to life in a colorful, fast-paced, 3D cartoon world.
As an endless runner, the only goal is to make it as far as possible without stumbling over an obstacle. But what’s the fun in that? The real goal is to get as high a score as possible using the game’s fairly robust, Tony Hawk-style trick system. Swiping or holding down on the screen in various ways will trigger all kinds of unique flips, spins, and jumps. Players can chain moves together through manuals, or if their timing is really precise, hop right onto a grind rail in the background. The game gets quicker the longer it goes on, and soon players will be leaping over massive gaps at breakneck speeds. They might even start to worry for the kid – especially after watching some of the gnarly failure animations.
Between runs players can use the coins they’ve gathered to upgrade their board, or buy boosters at the start of each round. With real money they can also buy energy drinks to continue a failed run without losing any points. But as far as freemium elements go, that’s pretty inoffensive. Plus, by paying attention to the achievement system players can earn most of the experience they need to take their skater to the next level without crutches.
Currently, Epic Skater is only available in countries like New Zealand as part of its soft launch phase. But expect it to shred its way onto App Stores everywhere soon.
Bio Inc. is an evil game. It can make players feel legitimately guilty. It’s not only about killing, but killing as subtly and fiendishly as possible. It’s about death as inevitability. After blackening our hearts and poisoning our souls, we’re here with the autopsy in this latest edition of It Came From Canada!
Remember the villainous virus from Osmosis Jones that took pride in killing people as fast as possible? That’s basically Bio Inc.’s premise. Players dive into the body of some unsuspecting sucker and try to end their life quickly and efficiently. It’s like Trauma Center in reverse. At the start of each round, players hop between different body systems, like the brain and the skeleton, harvesting minor bacteria like resources in a strategy game. From there, they use the points they’ve acquired to unleash new ailments like the flu and insomnia. As new symptoms take their toll, players can climb further up the tech tree discovering even stronger ways to cripple their victim’s heart or immune system defenses. They can even unlock bonus risk factors to buff their attacks like making the victim smoke or eat junk food.
But as in real life, killing in Bio Inc. isn’t that simple. Eventually the victim will go to the doctor and start receiving care. Once that happens, their recovery meter will start to go up. As the player’s attacks become more vicious and more systems start to fail, the doctors start working even harder and recovery increases faster. The game then becomes a race against time to murder the mark before the doctors can save them. Players can even use downright abhorrent sneaky tricks like making the doctors go on strike and halt recovery.
What’s most diabolical about the game though is how its deep strategic elements make players thoughtfully plan out their dirty deeds. Target one system aggressively or spread out the infections? Pepper the body with little diseases or save up points and release The Big C? Each new victim also has specific traits like high stress or a family history of genetic deficiencies. Exploiting these facts is crucial, especially on higher difficulties. Players can even name their targets for maximum meta cruelty.
The horror inherent to the premise is only slightly blunted by a few funny voice clips accompanying each new development. Upping the victim’s age to over 60 sounds especially, hilariously painful. But beyond that, the game pulls no punches while forcing players to watch their victim’s body slowly breakdown through the harsh, clinical interface.
Bio Inc. isn’t available yet, so fortunately we have some time to brace ourselves for the complete extent of its malice. Once it fully launches though, it just might spell the end for our current age of innocence.
Sebastian Gosztyla, a programmer for such games as Guilty Party and Avengers Initiative, wanted to make games less escapist and more interactive with other human beings. After experimenting with different gameplay styles he has come up with Dual.
The game involves two players and each of their screens make up half of the play area. Players fling missiles at each other and attempt to doge them by physically moving and tilting their phones. The game communicates between phones using bluetooth or wifi on the iPhone and Android, which makes it a great play-anywhere-anytime game.
There is no set release date, but Sebastian Gosztyla is hoping to make Dual available sometime near the end of summer.
It’s always easy to be way too cynical when it comes to free-to-play games, and when Tony Hawk’s Shred Session was announced there was certainly some thought that it could be a cheap licensed affair. Well the game has soft-launched in New Zealand, so I put on my helmet, grabbed my board, and found out this is a more casual game – but not a cash-in.
The game is set up as a lane-based runner a la Subway Surfers, but it truly is just a Tony Hawk game set up in that vein of being friendly for mobile and casual play. Levels include ramps, rails, and even half pipes. Tricks can be strung together through the gesture-based system for grabs, flips, and grinds. Extended gestures exist for more complicated tricks. These complicated tricks can be unlocked and bought with coins over time as players level up, or unlocked instantly with bucks (the hard currency).
The game takes place in two modes: Shred Session and Survival. Shred Session is a level-based mode where each level tasks players with short-form goals to chase after. Some levels involve scoring a certain number of points before the timer or level runs out. Others involve collecting a certain number of orbs, collecting time tokens, and participating in trick-offs with other skaters where the prescribed tricks must be matched. All are managed by a three-star system, with higher scores or more collectibles necessary to get more stars.
While the game is free-to-play, and more advanced tricks will help with combos, it does a great job at not letting the monetization get in the way of playing the game. There are boosts to buy along with new boards and skaters, but purchases largely feel optional instead of necessary. Having no energy system helps out a lot, too. Given that style is a huge part of skating culture, I can see cosmetic upgrades contributing to the game’s moneymaking – particularly as hard currency is needed to unlock many of the skaters and cooler tricks early on. But there’s no replacement for skill.
While certainly the monetization could change, it seems as if there’s a really interesting core here; one that could appeal to those who like skateboarding games, but want a mobile-friendly experience. We’ll see how the world reacts when Tony Hawk’s Shred Session eventually goes worldwide.
InnoGames, fresh off announcing Rising Generals, has an iPad strategy game currently soft-launched in Canada. Forge of Empires has players building a town, so I grabbed my sword and hammer and set off for the land of maple syrup for this edition of It Came From Canada!
The main phase of the game is town-building: creating new buildings in order to earn more money, or items that can generate more resources such as building points, villagers, gold, and even happiness. There’s a lot to keep track of here. This is all in service of becoming the most powerful town in the world. There’s a leaderboard of players that one can peruse, with guilds that can be joined for cooperative purposes.
Okay, it sounds a bit like Clash of Clans so far. The key difference is that players don’t just send off enemy hordes to battle: they enter a turn-based strategy game with them.
Battles take place on a hexagonal grid, where players can move their units about within their specified range, and can attack enemies within their attack range. There are also defense bonuses for certain terrain types. It’s very basic strategy gameplay, but it’s definitely deeper, even in its simplicity, than most Clash of Clans-esque games. Units start out as Bronze Age soldiers and eventually get up to modern era ones, though this will likely take a long time to get going. Those who check in often and spend their forge points regularly will get to the later eras first.
While there is a campaign against computerized enemies, it’s also possible to interact with other players. These can be in friendly ways: motivation and polishing will help resource generation and production happen at a faster rate. As well, it’s possible to attack other players and plunder one of their buildings. It appears that all battling is asynchronous for now against human opponents.
Players can research new units and types by spending forge points. These recharge over time (or can be bought with gold or diamonds) and by researching new tech trees, new unit types can be had. The tech trees are deep, so people who come back often will be the first to unlock later portions of the game.
While the town-building is very familiar – and the strategy very basic – for this oft-imitated genre spearheaded by Clash of Clans, the relatively-deeper (yet still approachable) combat might be worth checking out once it launches worldwide.
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.
Mobile gamers know Terry Cavanagh for Super Hexagon, the challenging minimalist arcade game that seemingly begat a hundred more challenging minimalist arcade games. But before that, Terry Cavanagh’s big game was VVVVVV, a gravity-flipping open-world platformer that was also very difficult. A mobile version, while discussed before, may have seemed impossible: after all, being a platformer built around precision, virtual controls aren’t the friendliest situation for this game. But Terry Cavanagh’s taking a stab at it, and the mobile version is nearing completion. And it just might surprise some folks who thought VVVVVV was practically impossible on mobile.
For the uninitiated, VVVVVV takes place in a universe where the player, controlling Captain Viridian, can flip gravity to run along the ceiling as well as the floor. Players have to use Viridian’s abilities to rescue five other missing crew members, along with discovering the “shinies” that are hidden throughout the world.
VVVVVV is a non-linear game, and players can discover it as they so choose. There are no additional abilities to unlock, so unlike a Metroidvania game where progression is hindered until a certain item is obtained anything can be seen and any challenge conquered with one’s own skill. Just be prepared to die a lot. Thankfully, checkpoints are abundant.
VVVVVV presents an interesting controls challenge for touchscreens, though. The game requires being able to swiftly move left then right, but with a third button for flipping. Thus, the game’s default control scheme uses swiping horizontally on the left side of the screen to move Captain Viridian around, with tapping on the right side to flip gravity. As well, there’s a virtual buttons option, and one where tapping on either side of the screen moves that way, and tapping on both flips gravity.
The controls are still very much being tweaked and perfected, but VVVVVV is perfectly playable, and at a skillful level, with these controls. Will this become the preferred version of speed runners? Most likely not, as precise movements are what suffer a bit here just by the nature of virtual controls, but for people enjoying this game for the first time – or once more – the experience should remain true.
VVVVVV itself is fully playable in its current form, with even the player worlds feature from the computer versions available for more challenges once the main game is completed. Various bug fixes and tweaks to make the mobile version work better are what stands between this and its eventual release.
After messing around with giant cubes and social experiments, the famously eccentric game designer Peter Molyneux returns to the God game genre with Godus. This spiritual successor to Molyneux’s earlier game, Populous, is currently in beta on PC and has just soft launched on the New Zealand App Store. We let absolute power corrupt us absolutely in this edition of It Came From Canada!
Witness and shape the beginning of human history in Godus. As a benevolent deity, players will guide their followers from a single hut on a beach at the dawn of time up until around the Roman Empire, although the game could certainly continue from there. The main way to achieve this is by molding the Earth and allowing the population to expand. It’s almost sad mowing down thick forests to let humanity proliferate like a virus, but such is life. There don’t seem to be any threats to the tiny citizens, like predators or natural disasters, so players can just focus on reproduction. As the population grows, the player’s godly power increases – granting them new skills like the ability to shift oceans or terraform more parts of the single, continuous map.
The game unsurprisingly has numerous subsystems as well. More intense god powers, including burning bushes or controlling followers directly through “leashing,” draw from the belief of worshippers. Players naturally gain belief as their small world grows, but it can be purchased using the game’s real-money gem system as well. Players can also purchase sticker packs to activate the special cards they receive with each level up. These cards bestow various bonuses like faster building speeds or the ability to start settlements on different terrain. Fortunately, stickers appear naturally in the world too.
As more of the cold, unconquered North gives way to the player’s bright civilization, players will encounter ships and beacons allowing them to interact with other players online. In fact, the grand prize for finishing 22Can’s previous game Curiosity was becoming the God of Gods in Godus, along with a share of the profits. However, in many ways the game works best as an isolated experience, an entire little world unto itself.
That shoebox diorama quality is accentuated by the game’s almost paper cut-out art style. The solid colors and obvious layers of the landscape may not be realistic, but they’re charming. The same goes for the cute sound effects like the mysterious voices on the wind and the happy little tunes villagers whistle while they work. The distinct layers also make it easier for players to meticulously sculpt the land as they see fit. They can even make terraced steps out of the Earth for followers to climb to higher places, when their spotty path finding works that is. However, it is still a little too easy for fatter fingers to make unintended changes, which is especially annoying when those accidental changes waste precious belief.
Still, Godus successfully captures both the tedium and the power trip of what being an all-knowing, all-powerful force must feel like. Players can get their hands on a world of their own when the game fully launches.
Manila-based Altitude Games has announced their upcoming Run Run Super V. Taking cues from sentai series such as Power Rangers, this game will be an auto-running action game where players form a ranger squad and fight evil without stopping. There are three modes planned: run mode, vehicle mode, and robot mode, with the latter involving one-on-one fights with giant enemies, all using one-finger controls with gestures.
Run Run Super V is expected during the 4th quarter of 2014.
In an App Store chock full of shameless clones, it’s always nice to see a game that expands on its influences instead of just copying them wholesale. Such is the case with Globber’s Escape, now in a soft launch phase, which clearly borrows its basic framework from the classic Pac-Man formula. But fortunately it doesn’t stop there, and we see just how far it goes in this edition of It Came From Canada!
In Globber’s Escape, players guide a circular creature around a 2D maze collecting tiny objects and avoiding patrolling enemies. However, if they collect the right power-up they can turn the tables on their foes and gobble them up, sending baddies back to the center to regenerate. Again, it sounds like Pac-Man. But from that familiar set-up, the game starts diverging in small but clever ways.
Instead of static dots, players devour little aliens that sporadically burst out of different containers on the map and mindlessly roam around the stage. This means players must always be ready to adjust their paths and strategies on the fly. Once all the critters are collected, instead of automatically starting the next round players must manually escape the room by reaching the closest open door. However, this makes them even more vulnerable to agitated enemies like evil mad scientists and almost unfairly unstoppable robots. If players do get caught, they can free Globber using the rare revive hammers sprinkled throughout each map. And when it’s game over for real, the final score goes towards increasing Globber’s level.
In an alternate universe, Globber’s Escape is one of the better arcade games made to capitalize on Pac-Man‘s success. Along with all the mechanical twists, the game has a less breakneck and more strategic pace overall. The control scheme has players creating waypoints for Globber to follow by touching the maze, which reduces the amount of mindless, frantic tapping while still allowing players to course correct easily.
However, for all of its gameplay creativity, Globber’s Escape‘s presentation sadly falls back on generic tropes. The cartoony sci-fi visuals, full of vibrant colors and angular designs, are pleasant but uninspired. The music might as well be non-existent. Some of the dialogue between the chatty tutorial robots is at least kind of amusing in a classic comedy duo way, but the game’s universe isn’t the reason to get invested.
Instead, players should get invested because Globber’s Escape is reassuring proof that cool, new games can still come from slight tweaks to old concepts once considered done to death. They can find out for themselves though when the game launches worldwide soon.
Prepare yourself, AppSpy reports that something Lovecraftian is set to sneak its way onto the App Store tonight. The original 1992 version of Alone in the Dark, widely seen as the game that inspired the survival horror genre, is set to launch tonight – allowing players to take on the role of Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood once more.
For those unfamiliar with the game, your role is to explore the mansion of Jeremy Hartwood, now deceased. Along the way you’ll need to outwit or overpower supernatural enemies and solve puzzles in order to discover the truth behind Jeremy Hartwood’s death.
Survival horror fans should prepare for the witching hour, when the clocks strikes twelve, as that is when Alone in the Dark is set to arrive tonight for $0.99.
Did you read our Overkill Mafia preview coverage of the soft launch the other day and say to yourself “I can’t wait to play that!” Well, the good news is that you don’t have to wait, as the game will be available worldwide later tonight (typically around 11pm EST, 8pm PST) for free. Bust out the 1920s greatest firepower on some mooks and rule old-school Chicago with an iron fist and an itchy trigger finger.
Krosmaster Arena, the online version of the board game from Anakama and Japanime Games, is getting a mobile version coming in early 2015. This miniatures-based board game has had its online version available via browsers for some time now, but now mobile players will be able to play from anywhere. As well, it will allow players to bring in the figures they already own into the mobile version of the game.
InnoGames has announced their new cross-platform strategy-MMO Rising Generals, designed with the help of Bruce Shelley of Civilization and Age of Empires fame. Built around player-versus-layer combat, players will command planes, tanks, and armored automobiles in worlds that will span 40,000 players each. The game will be cross-platform between iOS, Android, and browser, with support for the same account on different platforms for those who aren’t loyal to one electronics company.
Craneballs is returning to the Overkill well that has helped put them on the map. Where previous games in the series were futuristic alien-shooters, this one takes place in a past version of Chicago, where violent, fedora-wearing, gun-toting criminals roamed the streets shooting at each other and innocents occasionally getting caught in the crossfire. Thankfully such a world no longer exists: there are far fewer fedoras now. So, with the game currently soft-launched in Canada, I made sure not to put ketchup on my hot dog for this edition of It Came From Canada!
As stated earlier, the setup is very similar to past entries in the series in that this is a shooting gallery game. Players are in a stationary position, trying to take out enemies as they come in. The left thumb is used to move the gun by dragging around the screen, and there are fire and reload buttons in the lower-right corner. This is a Prohibition-era setting, so all the weapons are based on that time period, like a Colt 1911. Don’t expect any high-powered assault rifles here, but perhaps a tommy gun or two.
The meat of the game is the level-based progression, where players must survive multiple waves of enemies without dying, earning cash along the way. There are hundreds of levels promised, and interestingly enough, no energy system. At least yet. Right now, it’s possible to play to one’s content.
Along with the fixed levels, there are also reputation battles – such as the game’s endless mode, which also serves as a kind of asynchronous play where players attempt to get higher scores by lasting as long as possible, with more powerful enemies coming in as time goes on. Leaderboards track who’s doing better than whom. This is where buying better clothes comes into play: they grant character upgrades but also reputation multiplier bonuses. These bonuses naturally make it easier to get higher scores. They also serve as lives since every time the player ‘dies’, their multiplier lowers.
Guns can be upgraded with cash, with wait timers for upgrades to be delivered that can be skipped by spending liquor. Liquor is earned occasionally through level-ups, though there’s plenty to spend it on – including health and power boosts in the game itself. The game steadily gets harder, and it’s easy to see where the desire can be cultivated to spend real-world money on more cash and liquor to be more powerful; at least to catch back up to the game’s increasing difficulty.
It will be interesting to see how well people take to another entry in this series, and to one with a different theme than the ever-popular “shoot aliens” motif. And of course, will this make money? Time will tell. I imagine this one will be available worldwide soon enough, but it’s difficult to tell sometimes with soft-launched games. Some take months despite feeling ready, others feel half-baked but are soon available everywhere.
Dynamite Jack, from Galcon and BREAKFINITY creator Phil Hassey, is getting a new free version on May 22. This version will be the same as the paid version, but with ads. Every time that players continue they will see ads, though it’s possible to buy ad-free continue packs: 50 for $0.99, 250 for $2.99, or unlimited for $4.99, which is the same as the full version.
Panzer Tactics HD, bitComposer Games’ upcoming World War II turn-based strategy game, has had its price and release date announced. The iPad version will cost $8.99 and release on May 22. This updated version of the DS original will boast three campaigns, over thirty missions, and over 150 total units across the land, sea, and air.
N-Fusion, developers of Deus Ex: The Fall and Air Mail, have released screens and a trailer for their upcoming game Space Noir, published by Unity Games (the publishing arm of the popular 3D engine). N-Fusion promises to mix the standards of space combat with the noir aesthetic usually reserved for hard-boiled detective stories.
Space Noir is planned to release this summer for PC and for tablets.
Retry, the latest game from the Angry Birds moguls at Rovio, apparently comes from the publisher’s new educational gaming branch. But if that’s the case, the only thing this game teaches is that life is nothing but unending punishment. Prepare for high-flying death over and over again in the latest edition of It Came From Canada!
Retry takes the brutally difficult flight controls of the infamous Flappy Bird but has players navigating finite, designed levels instead of endless rows of pipes. Pressing the screen boosts the player’s plane forward and also aims it up slightly. Meanwhile, letting go causes the plane to fall. With limited control over their speed and trajectory, players have to rely on careful yet confident taps to make it through these death traps. One brush against the environment, aside from water or wind currents, equals instant death. Sometimes the only way forward is a well-timed and skillfully executed loop-de-loop. The name Retry itself refers to how often players will be restarting the game. They’re even forced to look at the ghosts of their past selves, crashed against the walls, as their trial-and-error toils on.
There are a few oases in their desert however. Each level has a handful of permanent checkpoints, but in a devastating twist, they can only be activated if the player has a coin. Most sections between checkpoints have a coin somewhere in them, but they are usually in tough to reach spots – making the game even harder. If players can’t manage that, which is truly understandable, they can also just pay for coins. They can even earn them outside of gameplay by completing easy achievements like crashing a bunch. Overall, the checkpoint system is an intriguing compromise between being fair to the player while still honoring the game’s core commitment to hair-pulling challenge levels.
Sadism isn’t the only thing Retry shares with Flappy Bird. Both games use a chunky, pastel, pixelated art style and peppy music that belie their dark hearts and cruel, true natures. Retry has four worlds with various visual themes like “summer” and “the future.” Expect to see the same skies often though, because while the game has a decent amount of different levels, its difficulty and frequent restarts inevitably lead to repetition. Fortunately, that also means it will be a long time before players experience all the game has to offer.
Retry is currently in a soft launch phase, but once Rovio finishes toying with the Canadians, expect them to unleash their torture on the rest of the world soon enough. With the amount of effort this takes, it’s probably easier to just learn how to fly a real plane.
Uber Entertainment has announced that their mobile tower defense crossed with Clash of Clans game, Toy Rush, is finally launching worldwide on Thursday, May 15. The game has been in a soft-launch phase for a few months now, but now everyone will soon get to build their devious defenses and use cards to try and take down other players’ strategic turrets and traps.
Wargaming has one of the biggest games on the planet right now, and it’s one you might not have played: World of Tanks. This free-to-play tank warfare game has had over a million concurrent players on PC, and it’s starting extend its tendrils out beyond the PC to include mobile. World of Tanks: Blitz takes the formula of putting tank-driving players on to the battlefield, with the objective of capturing points or wiping out the other team, in small maps with fast-paced gameplay. The game is in a soft-launch phase in Europe, including Denmark. So, I whipped up some frikadeller and rugbrød for this It Came From Canada: Denmark Edition!
Blitz is an apt subtitle for this, since it puts players into the game pretty much immediately. Once players register with either Game Center or a Wargaming.net account, the tutorial starts. This lets players get an idea of the movement, aiming, and firing controls, before players are set off into their first real battles.
The tutorial actually does a great job at briskly setting up the game and showing how the mechanics work: a single joystick controls movement, with buttons for turning in place and arrows around the tank indicating where it will move to.
Though players do start off playing in real battles, this doesn’t mean that the learning is over. As players progress, the game introduces ammo buying, tank upgrading, and more. It just does so in a way that is spread out over time, and doesn’t overwhelm players with information all at once. Importantly, it lets players actually play and learn for themselves.
Even playing with non-US players via both wi-fi and LTE the game has performed exceptionally well, with latency having little effect. While the game does manage to put players into games with more experienced and better-equipped opponents, I didn’t feel helpless. The game does require some intelligence built-in since there’s not really any voice chatting, and with such a diverse international audience playing, having just a text chat option might be better anyway.
There’s no actual energy mechanic, but tanks can’t be used until a battle ends – though players do have multiple tanks. Credits (the soft currency) can be spent on more ammunition, and gold (the hard currency) can be spent to buy different kinds of ammunition, additional tank slots, and more along with premium accounts, which grant more experience and credits for certain amounts of time. How well this model works on mobile as far as money-making remains to be seen. There are at least enough credits handed out to keep ammo supplied, but just how ‘free’ this game will be remains to be seen. As well, will the more casual market be willing to jump into such a gamer’s game, even if it’s fast-paced? These are interesting questions I’m curious to see the answers to when the game is eventually released worldwide.
Doodle God creator Joybits have announced their latest game, Doodle Creatures. This takes the formula of Doodle God, where players must combine disparate elements to form new ones, and puts a genetic manipulation spin on it as players are now trying to combine creatures to form new ones. Joybits promises that there will be more elements to combine than in previous Doodle games.
Expect Doodle Creatures on the week of May 5. Until then, check out the trailer below.
A new game starring Tony Hawk, famous in gaming circles for the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, is coming to iOS.
Tony Hawk’s Shred Session takes after lane-based runners such as Subway Surfers, having players swiping to do tricks in skatepark levels across two different game modes. Six real-world skaterboarders, including both Tony Hawk and his son Riley, will be available. See more about the game in this hands-on video of Tony Hawk playing the game with Hodappy Bird protagonist Eli Hodapp.
Tony Hawk’s Shred Session is planned for this summer, with a soft launch in the coming weeks.
Perfect World Entertainment has announced their new MMORPG coming to iOS, Dawn of the Immortals, releasing this summer in North America and Europe. Players will fight through dungeons, teaming up with fellow players to take down their opponents in both PvP and PvE (player vs. environment) arenas. There will be guilds, parties, group chat, and more social features, including cross-platform play with the Android version.
Dawn of the Immortals is planned for this summer, and players who pre-register can get a free mystic pet summoning card when the game releases.
Gameloft has announced some new details for the upcoming Modern Combat 5: Blackout, the latest in their long-running military FPS series. Players will begin in Venice, Italy as protagonist Phoenix, travelling around the globe to Tokyo and other locales. While few other details are known, we do have this concept art, the trailer from E3 2013, and the promise that more will be announced in the coming weeks.
Harmonix, creators of the Rock Band series, have soft-launched Record Run on to the Canadian App Store. You will likely not be surprised to learn that it’s a rhythm-based game, but in a mobile-friendly endless runner format. So, I put on my athletic boogie shoes for this edition of It Came From Canada!
The gist of the game is to dodge obstacles and make it to the end of each level, but that’s oversimplifying things. See, each obstacle is meant to be dodged in time, with more points scored and more of a multiplier boost for timing the jumps, slides, and sideways movements properly. Of course everything is set to music, and players can import their own music to listen to while they play, with the game’s levels synchronized to the music. This does tend to work better with tracks that have a consistent tempo to them: the Animals as Leaders tracks I tried didn’t work so well, but electronic tracks worked a lot better.
Essentially, much like Rock Band, Record Run becomes about maintaining success in order to get high scores and the elusive five-star rating. In particular, continued success is necessary: getting and maintaining high multipliers is key. And they can get really high, I’ve seen as high as 10x, so repetition becomes important. Figuring out when to make swipes is harder once the 3x multiplier is reached, because that’s when the world shifts to its extremely-colorful mode – where the main character transforms into a creature of some sort (the first one available transforms into a flaming skeleton), and the world dances to the music. But most importantly, the indicators for when to swipe go away, and players are on their own as for when they have to.
Record Run is monetized through the standard two-tier currency, with records being used for upgrades, and backstage passes as the hard currency used for unlocking additional song slots and additional characters. It will be interesting to see how well the game monetizes: when I spoke with Harmonix at GDC, they gave off the attitude that they were just jumping in feet-first with this sort of free-to-play game, so balancing everything could take some time. I expect some sort of daily challenge incentive to be added as well, along with perhaps an energy system – the game is fairly simple and would be most rewarding perhaps through a system that conditions the game to be played in short bursts. So, before it launches worldwide, it could have a long way to go, and could still change a lot.
Gear Jack: Black Hole, the endless runner follow-up to 2012′s Gear Jack, is coming to iOS this Thursday, May 1. Published by Crescent Moon Games, players will control the eponymous Jack as he travels through portals, endlessly running forward trying to stay alive through the myriad hazards his alien opponents have laid out. There will be all the standard bullet list features that you expect from an endless runner: missions, power-ups, multiple worlds, even video sharing.
For more on Gear Jack: Black Hole, check out the hands-on video from GDC 2014 below.
Forever Entertainment is resurrecting their presumably-fictional Frederic Chopin with Frederic – Evil Strikes Back. This sequel to 2012′s Best App Ever nominee in the Music Game category, Frederic – Resurrection of Music, has players tapping out tunes on Frederic’s powerful keytar in order to defeat the forces of evil who want to commercialize music. Also, he has a sports car now.
Frederic – Evil Strikes Back releases on May 8 exclusively on the App Store, with other platforms coming later. Check out the teaser trailer.