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.
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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.
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.
Cipher Prime’s Inake is coming to iPad on May 1, as exclusively revealed yesterday on our Twitch channel.
This dubstep-fueled action-puzzle game is, according to William Stallwood of Cipher Prime, who joined up for the stream, pretty much a straight-up port of the PC version – in a sense. Some tweaks have been made to the game that will come to the PC version on May 1 as well, but ultimately it’s the same game with the same content. The difference is in the way it’s played: the game supports full multitouch controls on the iPad, so it’s a new approach to a familiar game.
Check out the video below of me going through the first 25 levels, which took some practice to get that far:
Watch some of the special levels, available in Challenge Modes:
Watch the whole broadcast here:
At their recent Global Gamers’ Day event, Bandai Namco was largely focused on their console and PC offerings for the upcoming year. However mobile still had a small presence, with some upcoming titles revealed by the company – though few were in a playable state at this time.
The biggest announcement might just be Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ coming to mobile later this year. The follow-up to the popular take on Pac-Man, which features dynamic levels that change every time a fruit is collected, will feature new game modes, characters, and level designs to try and survive. But it’s still an eat or get eaten world. Expect this one this fall, though it was not playable at the event. Still, the game’s set up for touch controls already on Windows, so it should be a similar experience.
Outcast Odyssey is another upcoming game, though shown only in trailer form. This one resembles Evilibrium‘s tile-uncovering gameplay, and dungeon-crawling is promised, but few details are known beyond that.
Project Unstoppable (working title) is another game that Namco announced with few details available. Check out the teaser trailer below.
Also on tap for the future from Namco include a game called Soul Calibur: Unbreakable Soul, though no details are available for it at all beyond the name. TNA 2, a head-to-head wrestling game based on the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling organization, is expected later this year.
Additionally, Namco is working with Invictus to bring some casual games to mobile under Namco’s label. Froggy Jump 2, already released, is part of this. Froggy Splash 2, a game similar to Burrito Bison and Jumping Finn Turbo is also in the works. A puzzle-RPG called Jewel Fight is also being created by Invictus for publication by Namco, though this one won’t involve cute frogs but rather warriors battling it out by matching gems by twisting around blocks of four gems, similar to Bejeweled Twist.
While details and playable gameplay were sparse at the event, Namco does appear to have a variety of titles planned, and this may not be all – these titles are under the wing of Namco’s American mobile studios, and other international branches may have their own worldwide releases down the road as well.
Rocketcat Games joined our Twitch channel late last week to stream Wayward Souls with us. For the first time, see the first boss of the game defeated, and see large chunks of the second area of the game, the Tower, with a couple of the game’s characters. The game releases on April 24.
We’ve shared YouTube videos of some of the highlights, along with a recap of the entire stream, containing information on the process of the game’s development and what players can expect when it releases.
See the first area of the game defeated with Renee the Rogue:
Renee the Rogue running through the Tower, the second area of the game:
As well, Blythe the Warrior makes a lengthy run through the Tower, but can it be successful? As well, check out some of Wayward Souls‘ hats that will be available, including some of the early adopter hats:
One of the problems with the trend of free-to-play games lately is that many games have been merely facsimiles of great ideas. RPG battling without any actual control over the combat. Build an empire and attack other empires, but without much control of attacking or defending. PlunderNauts does not have this problem: it’s a game about being a space pirate where players actually have a lot of control over the space piracy! Backflip Studios currently is testing the game in Canada, so I put on my pirate hat and sailed to the great northern seas for this edition of It Came From Canada!
Players hop from planet to planet, trying to become the galaxy’s top space pirate by defeating other pirates and plundering their planets for gold and antimatter – the soft and hard currencies, respectively. Antimatter can advance wait timers, refill energy, and buy new starships.
However, the bulk of the actual gameplay is real-time spaceship battling. Players tap and drag to move their spaceship around, which is equipped with multiple turrets. When enemies get in range of the turret, players can select them and attack, with turrets having varying restart times depending on their stats. Players and enemies can summon fighters that not only can attack, but also serve as distractions as the turrets must focus on them instead of the enemy. However, players can only summon their fleets of fighters once per match: other abilities that can be equipped to provide in-game boosts can be used multiple times as they recharge. Combat is a game of positioning: getting out of the way of enemy turrets yet keeping them in range for one’s own turrets is key, and early on the ships are often close, doing their awkward dance with each other.
While antimatter can be earned through completing planets, it feels like many of the battleships will require spending money in order to unlock them; especially as it’s difficult to earn antimatter through grinding like you do for gold. There is an energy system, with 5 bars that refill at 20 minutes per bar. This is kind of a shame as while it does make it so that players are compelled to come back, it doesn’t feel particularly necessary – because, hey, buying items to get better does require grinding. As well, the amount of energy players are given is rather small; I’d prefer longer play sessions even with longer recharge times. But of course, as a soft launched game, this could change at any point.
Still, PlunderNauts has a lot intriguing ideas to it that will be interesting to see as it gets balanced and fully-formed for its final release.
Madgarden, the solo developer label of Paul Pridham, is hard at work on Death Road to Canada, his second collaboration with Rocketcat Games after Punch Quest. According to him, the game’s not really ready to show off quite yet – much of the work being done is under-the-hood stuff that will form much of what will be the actual game. But Madgarden doesn’t just stick to one thing: between quickie projects like Chillaxian and Flapthulhu, he also has a variety of prototypes he works with occasionally.
He showed off a couple of them at GDC: Roguebot, a dual-stick shooter with hacking elements and a chill-out pace. As well, there’s Mars Brutalis, an arena-combat game where players must swing around their fists and sacrifice their weapons to advance. The final existence of the games isn’t a known quantity at this point – he jumps around a variety of projects – but there’s something quite compelling about just what could be.
Crescent Moon Games has a big 2014 and beyond ahead of them, as always: a large slate of releases is planned for the coming month and year across many genres. Josh Presseisen, founder and head of the unique outfit that serves both as a publisher of third-party titles and also develops its own, demoed many of these upcoming titles to us during GDC 2014, including commenting on early footage of some of the games recorded at the show.
Exiles: While still not too far along, Exiles (an in-house title) promises to be an open-world action RPG on an alien planet, mixing elements of titles like Ravensword with Fallout and Mass Effect. Players will have a strange world to explore, and plenty of baddies to shoot – and the twist as to just why is revealed in this video, though it’s planned to be revealed early on in the final game.
Gear Jack Black Hole: This sequel to Gear Jack takes the original’s auto-runner concept and makes it a full-blown endless runner. Players will still jump and roll through levels, but now in a high-scoring context while warping through various environments.
The Deer God: This game is still so early that its gameplay hasn’t even been finalized, but its look is rather intriguing: it mixes the pixel art that Superbrothers made famous in Sword & Sworcery in a 3D environment. While there’s still a lot to be locked down with the game, its concepts sound intriguing, as discussed in the video.
Almightree: This puzzle-platformer has players trying to survive a crumbling world by moving through puzzling layouts of blocks, and moving them around as necessary. Good luck.
Sky Story: Another game still very early in its development, this upcoming title is inspired by Kid Icarus, but going in a different direction from the recent 3DS title by trying to be more of an exploration-driven game. This one will be 3D, though: levels have 2D sections, but the ability to move into depth sections of levels will also be present.
This was only a selection of Crescent Moon’s upcoming titles: there were other titles Josh Presseisen demoed that are either still unsigned or not quite ready to be shown publicly. This could be another jam-packed year for the studio.
After their smash debut, the Angry Birds have gone from physics-based puzzle games to space adventures to kart racers. Angry Birds Epic, the newest entry in the series currently in a soft launch phase, continues the franchise’s evolution into the Mario of mobile by casting the birds as heroes in a turn-based roleplaying game. We grind through this ambitious spin-off for the latest edition of It Came From Canada!
When the dastardly Prince Porky and the rest of his pig army steal innocent eggs, it’s up to a brave band of birds to stop him. Starting out with a lone red warrior bird, the player’s party soon sees new recruits like a yellow wizard and white healer. There’s no real overworld to explore in Angry Birds Epic. Instead, the party travels from battle to battle on a linear map, occasionally coming across treasure chests or resource deposits. The fights themselves play out like simplified, turn-based, JRPG battles in the vein of Paper Mario or the more recent South Park: The Stick of Truth, albeit without the cursing or focus on timed button presses.
The battles do have some depth, however. Using an intuitive touch system, each bird can either attack an enemy or use its special sub-skill. For example, the wizard’s lightning strike attack hits several foes at once. But it can also choose to create a lightning shield around itself or an ally that damages incoming foes. As the birds levels up, some skills can even be applied to the whole party.
Complimenting these strategies are the surprisingly complex skills of the enemy pigs. Some stronger pigs charge up attacks over time like meteor showers or taunts that cause all foes to target a specific vulnerable bird. Other enemies have more passive abilities like Prince Porky’s resistance to attacks above a certain damage level. When the red chili pepper at the bottom of the screen fills up, players can unleash a devastating special attack. However, it may be useless against bosses like Prince Porky or other shielded enemies so players still have to play smart.
These bite-sized battles make up the vast majority of the Angry Birds Epic experience, but there are a few things to do outside of combat. Players can forge stronger weapons, brew potions, and scrounge around for more loot. Aside from tackling the main campaign, players can also participate in daily dungeons and lottery spins for the chance to earn even more prizes. Partaking in these side activities strengthens the team and makes the story quest easier, but the fair yet steep difficulty curve definitely still feels designed to push players towards spending more money.
It’s hard to be too mad at the game though, because the world of Angry Birds Epic is so pleasing to take in. The colors are vibrant, the animation is exquisite, the music is joyfully rambunctious, and the whole presentation is so charming players will be reminded why so many people got hooked on this franchise to begin with. Like all things Angry Birds at this point, expect Angry Birds Epic to soar once it fully launches.
Chronology from Osao Games has seen a long and turbulent history, transferring from one company to another, but the game is now in stable hands and about to release on iOS and Android. This time-travelling platformer has players controlling a gnome who can switch between two different worlds, and a snail who can freeze time. Using the two characters’ abilities in concert effectively is the key to victory. The game releases later this year.
Like Dungeon Raid but believe it was highly lacking in vampires? Then Darkin might just be up your alley. While highly-familiar, the game adds in unique touches with buy-anytime upgrades, clans like assassins which make use of the position of tiles on the boards, and game modes that play with how health works. The game is coming soon, and we have lengthy direct-feed gameplay footage below.
After last year’s The Drowning promised big things but failed to live up to its potential, DeNA’s Scattered Entertainment has been quiet. Well, at least in the sense that the studio has been quiet about its work – Ben Cousins remains a very vocal personality on Twitter. But as far as their next game? It’s remained relatively unknown until now, when a new game called Isolani became unearthed in the Phillippines App Store. So, I brushed up on my Tagalog for this edition of It Came From Canada, Philippines Edition!
This is another first-person shooter, but it’s pretty much the opposite of what The Drowning was. Where that game was an earthbound mission-based zombie-killer, this is a level-progression-based (with story!) spacebound robot-killing FPS. Well, okay, it’s about as opposite as first-person shooters get. Players must navigate a hazardous space station environment with a hostile AI summoning robots to take players out. This is still built for mobile experiences: all the levels of the nine available early on take three-to-five minutes to play. Each level has a specific weapon selection, with upgraded weapons available for purchase later on, though effectively unavailable for the first chapter.
Interstingly, the touch-based control scheme of The Drowning has been abandoned in this early version of the game in favor of standard virtual dual-sticks with autofire enabled, with a manual fire button and a weapon switching and reloading buttons being the only other input. I’d be curious to try that control scheme with this game – the controls failed in The Drowning in large part due to the need to walk backwards, which was difficult to execute, but this game is a lot more built around forward momentum. Still, being able to move wherever necessary helps out a lot, and the auto-firing simplifies a lot of things.
Really, even Isolani‘s early setup seems to be just about establishing the very core of the game: most objectives are simple, like taking out a certain number of robots, shooting switches, or finding MacGuffins. So really, time will tell just how Isolani fares, but it’s a great fit for pick-up-and-play gameplay with its short levels, and the story-based structure could lend itself to some clever level design and combat situations. I’m intrigued – but it’s clear there’s a long way to ago and a high target to be reached for Scattered Entertainment.
Rolocule, creators of Motion Tennis, are back with another motion-based game meant to be played on TVs: Dance Party TV. By using an iPhone with AirPlay output on an Apple TV, up to four iPhones can mimic the displayed dance moves, a la Just Dance and similar games. Of course, it just had to be tested out, so enjoy me awkwardly dancing to the beat, which you too can do in a few weeks.
Vivid Games has shown off Godfire: Rise of Prometheus for the first time. Built off of the combat in Real Boxing, players will enter into duels with groups of enemies, with dodging and blocking being the only movement in combat, with light and heavy attacks, along with special attacks that become available as the rage bar fills up. Plenty of large bosses inspired by Greek mythology will be available to fight throughout the game, which will be releasing in a few months.
Gamevil’s ringing in 2014 at GDC with the announcement of five new games to be released worldwide. Operating under the thought that hardcore online multiplayer games may be big in 2014, here are the new titles they announced at a press conference:
Zenonia Online: Gamevil’s popular action-RPG series goes online for the very first time this year. Already out in Korea, this entry will not skimp on the action-RPG gameplay, but will add in MMO features like lounges to meet with other players, eventually partying up to take on the game’s levels. As well, there are battle royale and PVP modes to participate in for competitive gameplay. This one will release worldwide later this year.
Dragon Blaze: This “simulation RPG” has players gathering a team of heroes, leveling them up and battling them out against other teams of heroes and villains, with the ability to participate with up to 3 other players in real-time. The global launch in the 3rd quarter of 2014 will debut the game’s online PVP mode as well. The game has been a hit in Asian territories where it reached #1 on the App Store top grossing charts according to Gamevil, so it could be an intriguing and very popular US release.
Dungeon Link: Built off of the popular “connect the dots” style of games, players build up a team of four heroes, and then battle enemies in an arena where they must try to connect as many tiles as possible between the four sets of color points in order to attack the enemies, with more tiles meaning more damage. Gamevil claims over 2000 dungeons will be available to fight in. Expect this one in the 3rd quarter of 2014.
Elements: Epic Heroes: Revealed for the first time at their GDC press conference, Gamevil showed off this 3D action-RPG for iOS and Android. Featuring online play with touchscreen-friendly controls, players will level their heroes and fight through various dangerous environments for glory when it releases later this year.
Mark of the Dragon: Gamevil finally revealed their take on the Clash of Clans genre of game that has become popular. Build defenses, train attackers, and go after enemies. Their game’s big difference is that players can summon dragons which they control to attack specific enemy structures, giving this well-worn genre a potential fresh take. This one is planned for summer 2014.
Former Zynga Boston developers formed Proletariat Studios, and now they’re hard at work on their first game: World Zombination. This casual strategy title puts players in control of either zombies trying to destroy protected human safehouses, or the humans protecting the safehouses. Sounds bleak, sure, but the game is bright and colorful. As well, there’s online elements with other players planned, and plenty of new units to collect and deploy. Release is planned for later this year; check out gameplay video below, and check out their Twitch channel for regular livestreams of the game’s development.
These days it’s super easy to be immediately cynical about freemium games on the App Store. Just the mere mention of energy systems or recharge times can cause players to roll their eyes. Considering Dwarven Den, the new game from Backflip Studios currently in a soft launch phase, is based entirely on these mechanics some might dismiss it out of principle. But the more open-minded will discover a shockingly fair dungeon exploration adventure. Get ready to dive deep in this edition of It Came From Canada!
In Dwarven Den players control a dwarf spelunker making his way through a series of caves. Each cave has a different objective, like find the lost dwarf or mine all of the gold, but efficient exploration is what everything ultimately comes down to. Pathways are blocked off by various types of rocks, and mining through them depletes the player’s energy. Run out of energy and either pay up or quit and wait for the dwarf to recharge. However, each cave is also littered with red gems that restore energy when mined. The tension comes from trying to make progress while keeping energy reserves high.
It would have been so easy for Dwarven Den to keep energy gems artificially scarce to encourage customers to pay. Fortunately, players can get through much of the game with intelligent play alone. By raiding treasure chests for loot, players can forge stronger weapons and armor. Rocks become easier to mine and sometimes even give back energy. By mining blue gems, players can also use a variety of Zelda-style tools like fog-clearing torches and rock-clearing bombs. Bombs are especially effective against energy-draining spider foes.
Using all of these tools in Dwarven Den‘s surprisingly non-linear dungeons makes for a satisfyingly cerebral experience. Each dungeon is basically a big environmental puzzle to solve, and there’s always more than one right answer. It’s not Dark Souls, but the combination of tense challenge and freedom for creative player experimentation works in a similar way. It avoids becoming the tedious loop of repeating an action, waiting, repeating the same action, and waiting again that it could have easily devolved into.
Things can get a little stressful, but that’s offset by Dwarven Dungeon‘s bright, chubby characters and cheery voice samples. The 3D visuals move smooth and fast. Meanwhile, each new item equipped shows up on the player character as a nice touch of customization.
There is the nagging fear though that Dwarven Den‘s freemium elements are so non-aggressive they might be too good to be true. Since the game is still in a soft launch phase, there’s still time for it to decide how money-hungry it wants to be. As it is now though, Dwarven Den rightly chooses to be a great game first and a cash magnet at a distant second.
Dragonwood Academy from XMG is a casual collectible card game: players will build decks and battle various opponents, but without the need to do advanced deck optimizations like other games, hopefully reducing the barrier to entry for casual players. This project, which came together quickly according to Andy Smith of XMG, will be releasing worldwide in a couple months for iOS and Android, with full tablet support – not just a scaled up interface.