Okay, I finally peeled myself away from the new Civilization game long enough to get these reviews written. If you stick around to the end, you’ll see me fawning all over that game like it’s the last beer in the fridge. We’ve also got another Lego game for the Mac. So if you have kids, or just like to let your inner child have the controller once and awhile, check that one out.
Ministry of Silly Walks – iOS(Universal)
Making a game based on a forty year old comedy sketch is not likely to be anyone’s idea of a money maker, but when that sketch is from Monty Python, and stars John Cleese, it might warrant a little bit of attention. Though you can rest easy, as turning the Ministry of Silly Walks into an endless runner is about as creative as it sounds. You’ll chuckle momentarily, and wonder how long it is until someone makes an endless runner based on Weekend at Bernie’s.
Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit harsh. This game just feels like a needless me-too. It controls perfectly fine, you can jump and slide. You can collect coins, and use them to unlock outfits or change the suit your silly walker is wearing. There’s plenty of British paraphernalia and signs proclaiming the greatness of John Cleese. A few years ago this game would have just been another generic title in a long list of endless runners, but this late to the game and its genericness feels aggressive.
What’s Good: It’s Monty Python, which should at least trigger some memories of something funny.
What Sucks: Game is generic, and late to the party.
Buy it?: If you’re still holding on to the endless runner genre, get Ministry of Silly Walks. Check it out on the App Store for $0.99.
Google Maps: Smarty Pins – Web
When Google was trying to think of what game they could make with their Maps, they clearly decided to hire someone who grew up on Carmen Sandiego.
You won’t be called Gumshoe or catch henchmen, but you will be tested on your knowledge of various geographies, historical events, and cultures. You’ll need to drop pins in locations on the map that match up with a question like, “The Beatles would be called Liverpudlians if they were named after their home town.” Depending on how close your pin drop is to the real location, miles will be removed from your starting total of one thousand. Let the miles roll down to zero and it’s game over. The game cycles through different categories of questions, and manages to cover the globe pretty thoroughly.
This is a fun little trivia game for Social Studies nerds.
What’s Good: Fun questions, good variety.
What Sucks: Map can sometimes put you in odd spots and zoom makes it hard to find the correct location for an answer.
Buy it?: Check out Smarty Pins if you liked raising your hand in class. It’s free on Google.
The Rhythm of Fighters – iPhone
How someone came up with the idea of combining a rhythm game and a fighting game is beyond me, but it sounds like something that materialized after a too many beers and a late night viewing of West Side Story.
However Rhythm of Fighters came to be, it is a unique concept. Instead of tapping buttons to imitate punches and kicks like you would expect, you instead tap in time with music. You will also need to tap and hold, swipe or tap, or hold then swipe in order to beat down your opponent. It’s a neat idea, but one that doesn’t do much to outlive its novelty. It’s a basic fighting game that you control by tapping in beat with a song. You have to keep up with the song to hit your opponent, if you miss you’ll take damage. You need to keep fighting until the song ends, if you beat your opponent you’ll be given another.
Novelty is a double edged sword, as once you play through the first few stages you realize that you’re not doing much more than controlling the overall ebb and flow of the match. You’re not controlling much directly. The rhythm side of the game isn’t really set up in unison with the music, so you’re not doing much by just tapping in time to graphics on the screen. While it dabbles in both Fighting and Rhythm games, Rhythm of Fighters isn’t particularly good at either. If you are a big fan, the game offers more songs and characters you can unlock via in-app purchases.
What’s Good: Interesting concept.
What Sucks: Gameplay feels disconnected from both fighting and music.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a unique mix of genres, but aren’t worried about quality, check out Rhythm of Fighters. Grab it on the App Store for $.99.
Lego Marvel Superheroes – Mac
The Lego games have a good reputation for a reason: they are family friendly games that mix a known property with a healthy dose of humor and flavor. The newest game, Lego Marvel Superheroes lives up to that reputation.Loki and Dr Doom team up causing the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man to all intervene.
In addition to the usual Lego action-platformer, Marvel Superheroes adds a bit of open world exploration. Between levels, you’re given the chance to explore New York. You can find side missions, grab cars to run races, or look for bonus items.
The world isn’t huge, but it does have a pretty large vertical area. Flying around with Iron Man or the Human Torch is a lot of fun. The missions themselves are fairly linear, but have a decent story with Nick Fury sending the various super hero teams around the world. The game mixes together the movie and comic versions of characters deftly, even brining in Clark Gregg to reprise his role as Agent Coulson.
What makes the Lego games fun is that they manage to pay homage to the source material without being bound to it. So while the Hulk is his usual angry self, smashing apart stages and enemies, in the cut scenes they’ll have him vacuuming with the clean up crews in the background.
The game play is pretty easy to pick up, though I would recommend that you use a controller with your Mac. I don’t think that this would be the easiest game to play using a keyboard and mouse. The game has a lot of replay value, as you’ll need to work out which characters can unlock which secrets in levels. Considering there’s a character list that takes up half the screen, you’ll need quite a bit of time to work through this game.
What’s Good: Fun writing, lots of replay value.
What Sucks: Not very difficult.
Buy it?: The Lego games are pure fun, even if you aren’t a kid. Check out Lego Marvel Superheroes on the Mac App Store for $19.99.
Civilization: Revolutions 2 – iPad
There will be purists who will tell you that Civilization Revolutions dumbed down the franchise. They might be right, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing. Civilization games have chased simulation down a few rabbit holes and become pretty unwelcoming.
Revolution may have started as a way to bring Civilization to consoles, but its most meaningful impact was to bring the series to mobile. That move turned a game that was already addictive into crack. Revolutions now has a sequel on the iPad, and it improves on the original without changing the formula. You can still choose a faction and attempt to take over the world through your cultural prowess, science knowledge, economic power, or simply crushing your enemies with a mighty army. You can also choose to play through pre-made scenarios.
The game also features some new event scenarioslike the July scenario based on the American Revolution, but the game is also missing some of the features that were add-ons to the first Revolutions game. Multiplayer is a big missing piece, one that is a driving force behind some of the negative reviews on the App Store. It’s a big oversight, and something that shouldn’t happen in a sequel of the magnitude.
The game engine, however, has been entirely overhauled. Civilization Revolution 2 has a lot more detail than its predecessor.
What’s Good: Excellent graphic upgrade to Civilization on the iPad, new event scenarios increase variety.
What Sucks: A bit on the expensive side, missing some add ons from the previous game.
Buy it?: Fans of the franchise and strategy games should grab Civilization Revolutions 2. It is $14.99 on the App Store.