This week I have a game where you get to role play a geographical feature, which might also be the weirdest thing I’ve ever written in a game review. (I reviewed Manhunt back in the day, so I know weird.) We also have the expansion to one of my contenders for Game Of The Year. Then finally we have a new adventure game for iOS that promises multiple endings.
Mountain – iOS(Universal)
Mountain (MTN in the App Store, but not the icon) is a beautiful game. If, you can actually call it a game. It is a mountain simulator, which means you sit there and watch the world happen. The developer was nice enough not to make the game a first person experience, so at least you get to see the mountain. But time passes, so trees grow and weather changes. Objects will fall from space and embed in your mountain. Your mountain will also share some pithy musings about its day.
If I had to make a comparison to music, I would call Mountain Ornette Coleman. Like Free Jazz, Mountain breaks a lot of the rules about games, but there’s a core artistic vision that makes it worth checking out, but I wouldn’t want to see a dozen more of these. If you’re looking for action or story, Mountain isn’t the game for you. This is like an art film, something meant to explore the boundaries of the medium.
What’s Good: Interesting concept, pretty graphics.
What Sucks: Not much to do, intentionally obtuse.
Buy it?: If you like games that push at the idea of games, or just want a virtual screen saver, check out Mountain. Grab it on the App Store for $.99
Swords & Poker Adventures – iOS(Universal)
Swords & Poker was an existing franchise of iPhone games that Konami’s has picked up the torch on. I never played the earlier titles, so I can’t testify to Konami’s adherence to the formula. What I can say is that this little free to play gem has an interesting premise. It combines an RPG with a puzzle card game, making for an interesting experience.
The game breaks up into stages, each with monsters to defeat. Combat plays out via the card game. There is a five by five grid with nine cards laid out in the middle. Each player has four cards, and they take turns building poker hands using the cards in the center of play. When your play lines up multiple rows, you can create combos for more damage. You’re also able to buy bonuses and magic that enhance your attacks via in-game currency. I think that this may be where Swords Poker may annoy. You have limited energy to attack enemies, which regenerates every few hours. You can pay to refill your energy.
I like the combat and strategy of the game, and it makes for an interesting twist on a quick card/puzzle game. I like that it embraces the idea of an RPG without puzzle combat but doesn’t make another bejeweled clone. The free to play trappings don’t affect the game if you want to play casually, but may be a bit more rough on people hoping to get through the whole game without stopping.
What’s Good: Fun gameplay, and lots of content and challenges to keep you interested.
What Sucks: Free to play model meters out game’s stages and keep continues behind a paywall.
Buy it?: If you can tolerate the more egregious nature of the F2P in this game, grab it for free on the App Store.
The Great Prank War – iOS(Universal)
Regular Show is likely one of the weirder shows on the Cartoon Network. It mixes humor about two twenty something slackers that just happen to be a bird and a racoon with the usual hijinks of a kids’ show. The show has had a few different video games, the newest is Prank War for iOS. After the Prank War between Gene and Benson goes awry, Benson needs Mordecai and Rigby to reclaim the park and rescue their trapped friends.
The game reverses Tower defense, having you attack towers that are also defended by minions generated by the main base. As you defeat the towers, you can replace them with towers of your own. You control two characters and you can switch between as they take damage. The controls are all touch based, making it pretty simple to pick up and play.
If you aren’t a fan of the show, I don’t know how accessible it will be to an uninitiated audience. The gameplay is interesting enough, but the story is pretty surreal. It’s full of references to characters without much introduction. It isn’t going to be all that welcoming to someone unfamilar with the show. If you are a fan, you’ll find a lot to like. The game manages to sprinkle in humor throughout the game.
The actual story takes place between levels in a voiceover style with stills presented in a film-strip style. (Seriously, it even has the beeps between frames.)
What’s Good: Fun gameplay, lots of fan service.
What Sucks: Not accessible to players that aren’t fans of the show.
Buy it?: If you’re a fan of Regular Show, and want an interesting game; check out The Great Prank War. It’s $o.99 on the App Store.
Hearthstone : Curse of Naxxramas – iPad/Mac
Oh, how I love Hearthstone. I finally kicked the habit a month or so ago, and Blizzard shows back up at my door with an expansion to draw me right back into the fray. I wonder if Walter White works in their office. If you missed Hearthstone on the iPad it’s a card battling game set in the World of Warcraft universe. The expansion, Curse of Naxxramas, not only serves as an expansion card set, but also includes a series of single player missions.
The single player content isn’t easy to get through. It’s meant for experienced players that have built their own decks. There are five new areas with three boss battles, though only the first three have opened. There’s a new area each week. The characters are well defined and have their own personalities and tactics. Naxxramas taunts you as you beat his minions as well. There’s more personality than I would expect from a card game. When you beat these you get bonus cards, and constructed deck challenges. There’s also a heroic mode that ups the difficulty. This expansion won’t attract new players; but if you stepped away from Hearthstone, this is a good time to come back. What’s nice is the purchases sync between the iPad and Mac versions, so you only have to buy the expansion once.
What’s Good: Lots of new cards and single player content.
What Sucks: Difficulty will put off new players.
Buy it?: You can buy the whole expansion for $19.99, or each world for $6.99 as IAP. The first area is free, so you can try the expansion before buying. (You can also use in game currency if you’re willing to grind for 700 gold a piece.) Grab the base iPad Hearthstone game for Free on the App Store. Grab the Mac Version from Blizzard.
Revolution 60 – iOS(Universal)
Revolution 60 is equal parts Mass Effect and Charlie’s Angels. (The loading screen is even a riff on the classic silhouette pose from the show.) Developed by an all female team, it has found itself embroiled in a conversation about feminism and video games. Which I feel takes away from a great game. You take the role of Holiday, a nano-tech enhanced secret agent hired to infiltrate a space station. You’re paired with your best friend, and agents from the military as well as “the agency” represented by the AI.
The game tells its extensive story through a mixture of exploration, quick time events, and conversation trees. There is combat, which is played out in an active time RPG battle. You and an enemy are on a grid, you’re able to move freely, but only attack on a timer. You’ll need to balance doding enemy attacks with being in range for your own. There’s also special attacks and grenades which do wider damage. This is a well done combat system. The graphics are well done too. It isn’t as polished as some of the console ports, but the characters are well designed and have personality. The voice acting is also well done, something missing in a lot of app store hits. The highest compliment to pay the game is that it is an original IP with a well done story and good characters.
What’s Good: Good story, interesting combat system.
What Sucks: Not much, stupid people have talked more about who made the game than the game itself.
Buy it?: If you’re interested in a new sci-fi story with branching endings check out Revolution 60. You can try it for free and unlock the entire story for $5.99