Okay, so I was a bit ambitious about what I could get done yesterday. So here is the belated games post for the week. First up is a new entry in an Adult Swim game franchise, with a new genre. I’ve also got an impressionistic life sim for the Mac. I close out the week with an iPad game that pays tribute to classic tabletop RPGs.
I was pretty disappointed to see the hyperactive arcade puzzler Monsters Ate My Condo turned into a CCG for the latest sequel. With Hearthstone making the GDP of some nations every week, it’s understandable that the genre would attract attention. I’m just not used to successful games chasing new genres, especially when the first game worked so well.
My surprise continued when it turned out that Monsters At My Metropolis was actually good. You pick one of the original game’s monsters to be your character, and build a deck to attack other people’s cities. You’ll build a deck for your own defense, but the computer autoplays your city when you’re attacked by other players.
As with all of the free to play card games, you can play for a long time to slowly unlock cards. You can also just shell out real money and unlock a bunch of cards quickly. The battles are based on strength brackets, so you won’t continually be squashed by people with deeper pockets. The art style and music are still in the vein of the original games, so it keeps the feel of those games nicely.
What’s Good: Keeps feel of the original game in new genre, keeps players balanced for fairness.
What Sucks: New genre may alienate some fans of the original.
Buy it?: If you don’t mind the genre change, Monsters Ate My Metropolis is a fun twist on the original concept. Download it for free on the App Store.
Gathering Sky reminds me of Flow and a few other games that are going to sharply divide players. Missing that chance of losing that defines most people’s idea of a game, Gathering Sky relies more on atmosphere. You’re guiding a flock of birds around td to your flock and catching these little balls of energy.
The stand out part of this game is the music. Fully orchestrated by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the score is huge and sweeping. The backgrounds have this hand drawn, impressionistic feel. Your birds, clouds, and air currents are all sharply focused in the foreground. You simply swipe your finger around to control your flock as they go.
There are stages that decide how the background looks. However, there never is any pressure for forward progression. You can just mill around without the risk of death. That is going to bug people, but they’re missing the point. This game is an atmospheric exercise, and let’s you feel out the world on your terms.
What’s Good: Excellent art and music. Easy to play.
What Sucks: Lack of enforced goals may annoy some players.
Buy it?: If you’re interested in a game that leans more toward an art project, check out Gathering Sky. Download it for $2.99 on the App Store.
Earthtounge is making a lot more waves for its ‘pay with art’ program, than the game itself. I have no argument about alternative revenue models, but the discussion overlooks a really cool game.
The phrase that came to mind when I was playing this game was ‘Spore on the Apple II.’ It doesn’t have the over-ambition of that game, but that actually helps it succeed better. Instead you manage two kinds of life: fungus and bugs. There’s intricate rules about the species of each, and how you balance them against each other.
You get a set amount of “interventions” that regenerate over time. These are used to import bugs or fungus, and also create weather events. All events happen automatically as well–meaning that your intervention is just a small push.
There’s also a story told entirely through the journal entries of your character. This journal also has the details on the species you unlock, and the details about the world you’re tending. That graphics themselves are a really cool retro pixel art, and it really does look like something you found on a floppy game collection.
What’s Good: Cool art style, very neat concept.
What Sucks: Game doesn’t require a lot of interaction to play.
Buy it?: If you’re a fan of retro style games and sims this will scratch a particular itch. Buy Earthtounge for $5.00 here.
Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is the iPad adaptation of a very specific kind of sim. If you have dreams of building your very own Disneyland, or designing the most hurl inducing roller coaster you can think of. There are a few modes for the game. You can work to build your theme park, managing the business and creating your rides. There’s also scenarios that charge you with meeting a certain criteria with a partially built park. Then finally, you can just play around with the building tools in a sandbox.
This is a remake of a game that came out on the PC, but it doesn’t have any of the IAP that plagued the iOS native version. That translation worked very well, though there are some problems with the touch targets. I’d have trouble tapping back through a coaster to edit sections. The tutorials are also limited to You Tube videos, which are not substitute for in game tutorials.
I think that your initial reaction to the title is enough to tell you if you’re someone that is going to be into Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. It is a good, solid, SIM, but might be a bit confusing at first. I will say the ride simulations are a lot of fun though.
What’s Good: Ride simulator, variety of modes.
What Sucks: Limited tutorials, some issues with touch.
Buy it?: If you are looking for a more classical take on the series, check out Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. Download it on the App Store for $4.99.
Loot & Legends is another fun riff on the tabletop RPG as computer RPG concept in the vein of Knights of Pen and Paper. Rather than doing it as a straight turn based RPG, this game has you playing with miniatures in the vein of an SRPG. There’s modules you’ll play through with their own stories, but also a meta-story about you and your DM. (And your DM’s secret crush on the Pizza Girl.)
Overall the game is a good SRPG, and the attacks are played out via card sets. You unlock new slots as you level up, and get new card sets by completing levels. There is a clever free to play model here. You can always buy new cards using Gold, or get rarer items by using pizza. Pizza has to be bought with real money, which is pretty standard for free to play games. What is interesting is the Loot Club. This ensures that you get rare items every battle, though it only lasts a limited time. I wish I could just give them twenty bucks for this to be permanent.
However, you don’t really need to worry about this as you can play the game without buying anything. In fact what you get just by playing normally can be a bit overwhelming. There’s an arena mode outside of the story that gives you bonuses each day. You can also earn free pizza this day, though you’ll have to spend some gold to get entries that high.
What’s Good: Fun take on an SRPG using the framing of tabletop, very fair use of IAP and free to play mechanics.
What Sucks: There’s a lot of combat and not a lot of story.
Buy it?: If you like SRPGs and don’t mind them being a little hack and slash, check out Loot & Legends. Download it for free on the App Store.