About This Place

First started in late 2007, Kasey's Mobile Game Review (then just a regular feature of Kasey's Korner) started as a simul-post between here and IGN. Later I realized there's no reason to post it twice, when I can use the traffic on my own site. so, here we are, in 2010, and the mobile game industry has grown a bit. What do you think?

KMGR of "Prince of Persia 3D"

The Prince and Elika running along a wall.Image via WikipediaPrince of Persia 3D is mobile adaptation of the most recent Prince of Persia (2008), the one with the Prince before he was the Prince, and with Elika as his sidekick/companion. So is the game any good? It looks great, but is very painful to play due to lack of responsiveness.

Basically, PoP3D is a 2D platformer disguised as a 3D game. Think of the most recent "Transformers 3D", and you're not too far off. All of your fights, jumps, and so on occur in 2D, even though the enemies, as well as the levels and yourself are rendered in 3D. Thus, the levels look great. And the "hero" (who's not yet the prince) is already an athletic fellow... He can wall-walk, forward and backward leaps, somersaults, sword-play, and more. It's the same moves that Lara Croft pulls off in Tomb Raider Underworld, except PoP3D portrays all that in 2D movement, not first-person 3D.

Fighting is pretty much single-button mashing, except there is block, but again, the commands are NOT mapped for the QWERTY-keyboard users, as "action/attack" is mapped to OK, but block is mapped to 0 (zero)... OK for keypad users, bad for QWERTY users.

And the game isn't that responsive. You can't go forward AND attack at the same time. There's a bit of a lag between commands. Most of the jump moves are pretty much self-explanatory, but some places makes them EXTREMELY difficult, and checkpoints are few and far in between, forcing you to repeat sections again and again as you try to make your way past ONE frustrating section after another, fighting the unresponsive controls. Right now I'm stuck on Chapter 4. I got to top of a level, move left, fought a blue monster, jumped up a little, wallwalk my way past a flame barrier, except there's no place to stop as I'm on a collapsible level. Before I can figure out how to keep moving, the level collapsed under me. The checkpoint was just at top of level, so I have to fight the blue monster AGAIN, just to die again as I try to figure out the unresponsive controls. You simply want stop playing after N'th time of frustration.

Chapter 3 was a 3D 'dragon riding' sequence that has you flying a dragon through some levels, shoot enemy dragon riders that appears ahead, and fly through some narrow portions. Extremely easy, much easier than the regular levels.

There are some portions where you take control of Elika instead, who is a caster that can "levitate", among other magic attacks. She can often find and access buttons that will open up the rest of the level for the "hero" (who would be Prince), but so far her story is incomplete except she seems to be related to ruler of the underworld. And with only text descriptions, there isn't much to make us care about the characters.

All in all, Prince of Persia 3D looks great, but plays rather horribly. I really tried to like it, but frustration sat in after repeated attempts to get past one silly section proved more than I can take.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: looks great, keeps flavor of game intact
Cons: doesn't PLAY smooth, not really 3D

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KMGR of "LEGO Indiana Jones"

Indiana Jones (LEGO) Grunge WallpaperImage by ....Tim via FlickrThe entire Indiana Jones trilogy was shrunken into one LEGO adventure! Is it any fun? Only if you're into this genre.

As those who have played LEGO adventure series on the mobile knows, the game is a pretty basic platformer, and this is no exception. You'll have Indy swinging from bullwhip or vines/ropes, jumping, climbing, wall-sliding, and more as he searches out treasures and artifacts before the bad guys can get to them. Plenty of enemies on the way too... snakes, Nazi soldiers, sword-swinging guards, and more.

Each of the movies comprises one "episode", each of which is comprised of many levels. All of the levels are timed, but most timers are quite generous, as least on easy mode. And death can occur in many ways. Jump wrong and you jump into a wall of spikes... or the platform can collapse from under you... or a deadly snake can bite you... and so on and so forth. Your weapon is the whip, of course, usable against almost anything, from snakes to human opponents. And it has a great reach as well.

Jumping, exploring, and finding your way out is the usual, such as finding switches to open door to other parts of the map, and so on. Hop from one side of wall to the other to "climb" up vertical ledges... The problem is, the tilesets look about the same across all three episodes, even though it's supposed to be South American (Mayan) vs. Egyptian vs. "Ancient". And the mechanics stayed the same.

You're also encouraged to collect every last treasure on the map, and some are hidden in barrels / flower boxes, and such. Use your whip to open them. Collecting all treasures on a level will net you a bonus.

The problem with LEGO Indiana Jones is the levels are quite short. At least the variety is entertaining... Every once in a while you get a "treasure hunt" level where you need to find 3 objects throughout the level within time limit and make your way back to the beginning. However, when all three "episodes" do the same, it's no longer fresh.

All in all, LEGO Indiana Jones doesn't really bring anything new to the table. You can find better platform games, or better Indiana Jones games. However, it IS kid-friendly, but would you let your kids play games on your phone? I think not.

Overall rating: 6.5 out of 10
Pros: Looks cute, simple controls, special "bonuses" at end you can buy with your points
Cons: Looks plain, doesn't really follow the plot of the movies, nothing new

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KMGR of "Alpine Racer 3D"

Screenshot of Alpine Racer 2Image via WikipediaAlpine Racer 3D is a cute little 3D title to show off what your cellphone can do with the right programming. It's a shame that it has only 3 tracks...

The premise? You don't need a premise with something as simple as a race, but this game *does* have a story mode... Brother, sister, and a mysterious super competitor, who turned out to be their father, all racing downhill for the coveted "king of the mountain" trophy. Take control of either the brother or sister (unlock father and one other character later), play well (no falls, break records) to gain "skill points" to expand your avatar's capabilities, and take on the course(s). There's story mode, where you play 3 races (trials, semi-finals, and finals), and time trial where you choose which track to race.

The graphics are excellent for a cellphone title. Frame rate is superb, and the 3rd person camera shows off the animations, which are varied. The courses often have varied paths as well... And to win you'll need to know the "shortcuts". Those who can retain the speed can opt for the jump routes, while those who prefer to outski can turn for the downhill. Each track has multiple paths that diverge and converge.
The music, on the other hand, isn't quite as good, and the plot, as slightly spoiled before, is way too sappy and comical (read: melodramatic).

Controls are quite responsive, though it wasn't always clear what keeps the momentum going, and how one route would be faster than the other. Would a series of shallow turns, or one single sharp turn be faster? No idea. Game doesn't tell you.

All in all, Alpine Racer 3D is a good evolution to the classic franchise, if a bit too... melodramatic. The game itself is excellent with responsive controls and great visuals. Too bad the rest of the game doesn't really measure up.

Overall rating: 7.5 out of 10
Pros: great 3D graphics, very responsive controls, sense of speed
Cons: only 3 racing courses? only 4 characters to play with?

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Last previews of 2008

LEGO Indiana Jones (photo)Image by Dunechaser via Flickr

Welcome to what is probably the final preview post of 2008 from Kasey. Have you enjoyed the previews and reviews so far? Please use the comment feature and let Kasey know what you think of of his work so far.

Please keep in mind that KMGR is a purely volunteer effort. Verizon is NOT paying me a penny to review these games, and I have to pay for the games just like everybody else.

Namco's Alpine Racer 3D -- can a game about downhill sking/snowboarding be interesting? And a story mode?

Lego Indiana Jones -- does Indiana Jones, all three movies translate to interesting gameplay for the Lego game, on the mobile nonetheless?

Prince of Persia 3D -- the classic game made a return. Is the 3D any better, or just a gimmick?

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KMGR of "Military Madness 2"

Moon on a Mobile PhoneImage by Dave Pearson via FlickrMilitary Madness was one of the first true strategy games available on consoles... all the way back on TurboGrafx 16, if you remember that far back. It made a come back on various consoles, even on mobile phones. And fans demanded a sequel. So, will it be worth it to go back to the moon? If you are into this genre, absolutely.

At the end of the first Military Madness, you, as the Allied Powers forces, have defeated the Axis Empire's forces on the moon and disabled the Supreme Atomic Missile, with which the Axis hopes to control both worlds. It's been a few years, and somehow the Axis Empire have somehow survived, and now Allied Intelligence have received Intel that the Axis have been developing something... On the Moon. So as part of Allied Special Forces, it's time to return to the Moon, and find out/destroy whatever the Axis Empire is making...

The game itself has the missions on a "moon valley map". Each mission unfolds on a different map. You on one side, the enemy on the other. You can win two ways: destroy all enemy units, or capture the enemy base with your "infantry" unit, which can also capture factories, if there are any. You start with only so many units, and there are no more reinforcements. You have to win the battle, which then opens the next battle, and so on.

Battle occurs on moonscape, which has valleys, "roads", mountains, and rough terrain. Different terrain have different "roughness", which affects movement and defense. Each unit is rated for movement, defense and attack, range (most are range 1), and so on. Infantry move slow unless you put them in personnel carriers (which are vulnerable). Armor moves fast, but can't capture things. So it's a bit of paper-rock-scissors, when air units are introduced later. Most "unit" you see on the battlefield has 8 actual units in it, though later you may see "overpowered" units which has more. As units make kills they gain experience which enhances their attack and defense. Other ways to improve odds is to surround the enemy with your units, which is called "support attack". Each unit can only attack once per turn (some exceptions) and move once per turn (again, some exceptions). When two units meet (like one attack the other), they pop into a "battle screen" like Archon and exchange shots, and kills are tabulated based on attack/defense values, after all the modifiers (terrain, support, experience, etc.) are applied.

The game has only one difficulty level, and it's never easy. This game is tougher in that you are either outnumbered or have worse hardware, so you have to be tactically superior to overcome those bad odds. And as you can imagine, your odds can only grow worse. You have to apply every advantage you have and exploit every enemy weakness to secure victory and defeat the new Axis threat, which may include bio weapons...

So is the game as addictive as ever? Yes, but the initial difficulty may turn off some players. I played through the first mission four times before securing a victory. It's not a matter of rushing the units in. You have to calculate carefully the range of each unit, coordinate the movement so you can surround the enemy without leaving your own unit(s) vulnerable. You also need to save the infantry unit(s) for capture, as they can go through almost any terrain unlike armor (which requires flat surfaces).

If you want a game that actually challenges your brain, definitely pick up Military Madness 2, and be assured that you're NOT picking up just another variation of Bejeweled (tm) or another 2D shooter, but something that is both classic and fun. Graphics are minimal as it's mostly icons, and the music is repetitive, but the classic gameplay is still there, and still as fun as ever.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: easy to pick up, strategy games rare on mobile phones
Cons: same lousy graphics, repetitive music, high school excuse of a sequel plot

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KMGR of "Far Cry 2"

1952 AK-47Image via WikipediaFar Cry 2 is a sequel that sends the mercenary to Africa on almost free-form adventure to hunt down the Jackal, but the merc, along with other mercs, gets embroiled in a civil war... So how does it fare on the mobile platform? Pretty well, interestingly.

Gameloft knows how to make mobile games, and Far Cry 2 managed to shrink most of the good parts of Far Cry 2, and combined it with the good parts of a phone 2D shooter, and came out with an interesting game. You start with one faction, and you can perform one of the three missions. When you finish all three, the plot have you join the opposing faction (supposedly the pay's better, but not). In the course of the missions, you collect extra diamonds (which acts as currency for ammo and such), journal notes for a reporter who lost her notes, and commit a series of atrocities such as destroying farms and water sources to starve the other side. When you realized this faction will not take you closer to the Jackal either... You're tossed into jail as the faction leader can't risk having mercs who will turn on him. After that... it's escape time... Except after you left, some old friends who you thought were dead came back to haunt you... And who you thought were friends where your enemies... and who you thought were enemies... are your friends. :)

As a phone shooter, this game is pretty standard... The game auto-aims your AK-47, and auto-reloads as well. If you lean up against obstacle you'll "hide" behind it, and if you have a molotov cocktail you can use that as a "grenade" and take out a group at a time, esp. machine gun nest. Else, run past it and look for another way around it. You may also run into other toys, such as sniper rifle, RPG launcher, and so on for special missions.

Some of the missions involve drive-and-gun. You'll be on a motorcycle, where you need to dodge shooters, incoming mortar rounds, obstacles, other vehicles, and shoot back as much as possible. You'll either get in front of someone you need to kill, or intercept someone else. It's rather fun, but quite difficult because if you crash into an obstacle it's pretty much "restart from checkpoint".

If you got hurt, just find a quiet place and rest for a while, and you'll heal to full. At more advanced levels, this takes longer to occur and longer to trigger.

The game has periodic checkpoints and the difficulty can be turned down a bit to fit your level of expertise. If you do die, you restart from last checkpoint you passed. It's simple and effective. Graphics are good enough for 2D sprite game, similar to the other Gameloft 2D games, such as Rainbow 6 Vegas and so on. Sound is not that good but adequate.

And I must say, the ending is one of the most poignant in mobile game history. And what's more surprising, you can unlock additional characters to play as, and you get three to start! Each has slightly different dialog, but same missions.

All in all, the game doesn't break too many molds, but it is definitely well polished. Can't give it a "best", but it's definitely "up there".

Overall rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: effective port of all shooter conventions, plus effective use of Far Cry 2 plot
Cons: doesn't really break the mold, it's still a standard 2D shooter

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KMGR of "Tekken 2"

Tekken 2 Arcade Flyer.Image via WikipediaTekken 2 (or "Iron Fist") made it to the mobile platform. It is a full 3D fighting game that features full set of kicks and punches, and even has "simplified controls" to help you unleash combos. But is it playable? Sadly, not to this ham-handed player.

Tekken 2 is one of the earlier "full 3D" look fighting games that successfully used the 3D graphics to deliver a more visceral fighting experience,with different fighters having different moves, and you must vary your attack while achieving combos to deliver the knockout blows. This implementation is no different. However, defense and blocking is very much a part of the game. Blind kick and punch will get blocked and countered with combo-breakers.

The game lets you pick from full list of Tekken 2 fighters, and all have their proper moves, albeit somewhat simplified for the keyboard, and only a QWERTY keyboard is enough to give you full control. And even then, you'll be pressing keys like crazy, trying to block AND attack in split-second decisions. The end result isn't always good.

There are practice modes and even "punching dummy" modes, but those don't really "train" you. As you still don't quite figure out which combos gives you good damage, which are for countering high block vs. low block and all that. The problem is which one *do* you perform?

Even with the attempt to simplify the controls there are still too much to do. I can't imagine you using the traditional instead of the simplified control enough. I may not be the worst player ever, but I simply got annihilated even at the lowest difficulty setting, any opponent.

Sorry, but this game is simply too hard for the interface.

Overall rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: looks great, all characters, all moves
Cons: too many moves to the hardware capabilities

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Previews of upcoming reviews...

Kasey's Verizon Mobile Game Reviews will be reviewing the following games next:

Military Madness 2 -- Hudson Soft's hex-and turn-based strategy game makes a return to mobile. The bad guys are at it again, and you're sent in to figure out what's going on. Is it still as addictive as the original?

Far Cry 2 -- Far Cry's African sequel heads to the mobile in a standard 2D shooter that has a bit of variety to it. Does it stack up to the other 2D shooters at all?

Tekken 2 (3D) -- Tekken, the fighting game, comes to mobile in a good-looking 3D package. How well does it stack up against the competition of fighting game?

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KMGR of "Brain Exercise"

The "original" brain exercise game from Dr. Kawashima of Japan finally comes to the US, behind all the other "brain games". How does it stack up under Namco's direction?

First appeared on the Nintendo DS, the mobile version is NOT a complete adaptation, but rather a combination/compilation of the best parts of the two "Brain Age" games available for the Nintendo DS.

The theory is simple: your brain has its own 'age', which can be measured by a test. Specific parts of the brain can be stimulated by specific questions that engages logic, math, memory, or combination of those centers. Through repeated questions, you can "exercise" your brain into better shape than before.

The mobile version has ten different games, and three modes: brain test, brain training, and practice. Brain test randomly chooses a game and tests your score on that game, and calculates your "brain age". You are doing well if your brain age is below your actual age. Brain training involves three randomly picked games that stimulates the three primary centers of the brain: logic, math, and memory. Tests are timed and fast but accurate answers are best. Finally, practice lets you get familiar with any of the ten tests available, so you understand how the tests work, and what to expect.

The graphics are simple, but then you don't need great graphics to test your brain. Sound is negligible, but then you don't expect fancy sound effects in a brain test, do you?

The actual tests are intriguing, but nothing really we haven't seen before. The interesting part is this game keeps track of your progress, day to day, month to month, and charts your "gains" your brain has made. I have to say, with about two weeks into this game, my brain score has increased about 5-10%.

If you haven't tried this on the Nintendo DS, consider giving it a try on the mobile, and do an exercise or two in your spare time. Who knows, you may feel some improvements, and if a game can do that, it's really worth it, right?

Overall rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: simple games to learn once you "get" it, tracks progress
Cons: a bit TOO simple, only one user tracked, actual gains dubious?

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KMGR of "Guitar Hero: World Tour"

Guitar Hero III MobileImage via WikipediaGuitar Hero Mobile gets a sequel on the mobile, with improved graphics, chance to play drums instead of guitar, and of course, more songs. But is it worth shelling out MORE money? Hmmm... Only on certain phones, not others.

For those of you who have played Guitar Hero on the consoles, the mobile version is quite a bit simplified. There are only three chords... controlled by the numeric pad (147, 258, 369) with * or # unleashing star power. The sequel didn't change that, but then they did not fix the most glaring shortcoming either... Remap the controls for those phones with a QWERTY keyboard, such as my LG9900 enV.

The songs sounds about the same as the previous one, but seems to have a bit more voice-over. Graphics seems to be about the same: very good for a mobile game. But the main draw of the game is the music.

The main problem with Guitar Hero III / Guitar Hero World Tour is they forgot about the phones with a QWERTY keyboard. Those players are forced to use the same keypad commands, and since the QWERTY keyboard has the numbers in a horizontal row, it's nearly impossible to play the game properly with a QWERTY-keyboard phone. And there is no "remap" function either for the keys.

The graphics were remapped, but NOT the keys. That sounds like sheer laziness.

For those of you who *does* have a regular form-factor phone with no QWERTY-keyboard, go ahead and get it if you dig the genre. I give it 8/10 on a regular phone. However, the game is unplayable on a QWERTY-phone, thus earning the score 5/10.

Overall score: 5/10 (8/10 if you don't have a QWERTY-keyboard phone)
Pros: bigger, better, what a sequel SHOULD be, drums, etc.
Cons: STILL have not fixed the QWERTY-keyboard problem

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KMGR of "Crazy Hotdog Tailgate Party"

A mural painting depicting a hot dog on the wa...Image via WikipediaDespite the name, this has very little to do with tailgate parties. This can be renamed "Hotdog Mania" or "Hotdog Dash" and it'd still be appropriate. Basically, it's a game about cooking up hotdogs, and serving them to the customers, some of whom have particular wants.

There's a backstory about you got a surprise check for $100000 and a great recipe for a hotdog, and a note that essentially says "please double the money, you have one year." Well, it's cute start, but doesn't add much to the game.

Your first assignment is a hotdog stand at a local stadium. The idea is, of course, to make lots of money selling perfectly cooked hotdogs. You'll have to master the art of grilling on this stove, flip the dogs at the right time, learn how to cook "super dog" (which are hotdogs cooked perfectly so they "burst" extra-sized), AND still serve customers with the dogs. Some customers want normal dogs, some want super dogs, some may even want a free dog with their order. You'll have to figure out what each customer wants and give it to them, thus make max amount of money and tips.

I've made it through Cake Mania and Diner Dash and similar games with few problems, nor did I have any problems with cooking games. However, this game gave me a LOT of problems. The timing on the hotdogs are razor-thin... And there are no "do-overs". You end up with raw hotdogs in the "done" tray if you remove them too early, and burnt if too late. It's way too difficult to cook more than one or two hotdogs at a time, because only the center of the grill is "hot", and you need to pump air to maintain the high temp. The surrounding areas are colder, and this constant fight to maintain the temperature for optimum dog cooking is way too "action-y". By the time you burned the middle, the outer hot dogs aren't done yet. Argh!

All in all, this game is a has-been clone that tries to add some uniqueness by adding some "cooking" elements to the gameplay. However, the timing is a bit too thin and the player is simply overwhelmed with play details. Can't really recommend this game.

Overall score: 5.5 out of 10
Pros: that's one food haven't done before, cooking aspects
Cons: too much to remember, grilling too hard

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Some more mobile game previews...

Brain Exercise by Namco -- the original brain exercise from Japan... complete with brain age tests and exercises of various parts of your brain... Does your brain age actually improve with exercise? I'll serve as your guinea pig here...

Guitar Hero: World Tour -- Guitar Hero mobile reaches 2nd version. How different and how does this version compare to the original? Well enough as you now get to play both guitar AND drums, but the song selection seems to have shrunk quite a bit. Graphics... Looks about the same.

Crazy Hotdogs Tailgate Party -- someone gave you $100000 and a recipe for a great hotdog. The simple request is double the money so you help two more people like you. How well CAN you run a hotdog stand? Half "cooking game" and half business sim like Diner Dash.

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KMGR of "Tomb Raider: Underworld (mobile)"

Tomb Raider Underworld - HQImage by Calora via FlickrTomb Raider Underworld sends Lara Croft on a quest to locate the artifacts of Thor, both as hints on what her parents were looking for, as well as keys to defeat a demon and prevent annihilation of the world. The game is fully 3D even on a mobile phone. However, some game play elements is way too unforgiving and annoying to prevent this from becoming a classic.

Basically, the game is sort of a "maze", sort of a "puzzle", and occasionally, a shooter. You run around all the levels, performing acrobatic feats such as climbs, jumps, and even trapeze/pole jumps. You have to choose between several paths, and sometimes, locate even more paths by moving some blocks around, and remember when to backtrack. You will locate lots of stuff this way. Finally, you will sometimes enter combat against minions of darkness... spiders, bats, zombies, huge "boss" monsters... and so on. You have your trusty twin 45's, sometimes augmented by various special ammo you find, and later, you get to tap Thor's Hammer which shoots a nasty "firewall".

The game is fully 3D, and even has a "free camera mode" for you to look at things that may not be obvious from one view angle. The camera is very well done... Most of the time, it's in 3rd person, following behind Lara, so you can admire her acrobatic moves. It pans from side to side as the terrain turns, and follows her as she jump and climbs up and down cliffs, and so on.

Lara gets to do a lot of activities. Most of the time, she runs around, and when you come to a branch, just press left or right will let you select the branch to continue. Then you come to a climbable cliff, click OK will jump so Lara will hang from the ledge, then press UP to climb onto the upper level. You can leave a "prompt" for you at the bottom of the screen to remind you of the possible moves. It's quite intuitive after a while.

One of the most frustrating sections is the "free climb". Basically, you need to climb up this very tall cliff by pressing, in a series, the number keys. However, there's usually an interruption in the middle where you need to "dodge rocks". If you get hit, you have a second or two to "rescue" and get another handhold, else you fall and die. It's basically playing "Simon"... 7! 9! 3! 6! 3! 6! 4! 9! Except you have less than 2 seconds to press the key, or you fall back down and got a bit hurt. Got hurt enough, and it's game over. At least starting over is easy and autosaves are the rule, not the exception. When it comes to dodging rocks, you have less than half a second to see the rock and press the appropriate LEFT or RIGHT key to dodge.

Combat can be painful, esp. when you don't seem to be doing any damage. At least Lara can do acrobatic rolls and spins and whatnot while unleashing her twin 45's. however, against zombies throwing green fireballs it doesn't seem to be much. Esp. when those zombies may respawn. Later bosses aren't that bad as you basically have to keep moving and never stay in one spot, while aim for the vulnerable parts, as your "autoaim" suggests.

You do get bonuses for gathering up statues per level, and you're told you got X out of Y, so this encourages a bit of exploration... If you're not too bored. Some paths require you to move certain blocks back and forth to access alternate paths.

Another frustrating section is the snowmobile, though in Lara's world, it's a HYBRID snowmobile, eco-friendly! You need to run around various obstacles, climb ramps and make jumps properly in order NOT to fall into chasms, hit "fuel" or "repair" items so you have enough fuel and craft well enough to finish the trip. It's far more frustrating than it sounds, esp. when you're going "quite fast" and miss a jump.

All in all, Tomb Raider Underworld, while looking quite spectacular, falls a little short of being a true classic.

Overall rating: 7.5 out of 10
Pros: True 3D levels, requires 3D thinking and back tracking, beautiful graphics
Cons: Some minigames are extremely frustrating, too much dialog, not enough cutscenes

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KMGR of "Risk"

EA is getting all these conversions of classics, but are they any good? Not too bad, but they came out just average, sorry.

Risk is your basic conquest game... Use your armies to conquer "adjacent" territories. if you conquer territories, you collect Risk cards. If you collect a set, you can turn 1 set in for "bonus armies". The longer the game, the larger the army you get, but the opponents do the same on their turn. So, how does the mobile version fare? Not bad.

For those who need a quick fix, there is the "quick" version, which limits to the battle to 2 continents: North and South America, and 3 AI opponents. You can also take on 5 other AI opponents in the full game involving the whole map. You can even play "multiplayer" by passing the phone among several friends.

One thing I don't like is the inability to pick one's own color. You're always "red", and consider there is also orange and pink, those aren't the best colors to have. However, the AI are at least competent, though there are no tougher AI levels. The AI knows to attack weaker opponents, and clear out a continent to get the continent bonus, but other than that they don't seem to have a full strategy in mind.

The graphics are okay, but not as good as EA's Monopoly (tm) adaptation. The "battle" could be easier, though you're given the option of displaying EVERY dice throw, which can quickly bog down the gameplay.

The quick game can be done in a few minutes (as most lasts no more than 7 turns), but the full game can last a long while.

All in all, this adaptation is merely average, and offers nothing new, few optional rules or variations and such. There just isn't much here.

Overall rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Same Risk, same strategy, easy to learn
Cons: Easy to master, depends a LOT on luck and going first, nothing new

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KMGR of "Worst Case Scenario"

Worst Case Scenario was a series of books on improbable situations and how to deal with them, such as hurricane, flood, animal attack, and so on. As you can imagine, to make it a game you are tested on your knowledge of worse case scenarios. But this time the coverage was widened to dating, fashion, as well as history and other disasters. But is it any fun? I guess it's okay for a trivia game, but nothing outstanding.

There's no fancy animation, no multimedia presentation here, just presenting you a question and three choices... Pick the answer quickly, but accurately. You get a small "streak" bonus if you get several questions right in a row.

Other than all that, there really isn't much to say about this trivia program, except it has a "party mode", i.e. "pass-along" mode where more than one person can compete in knowing trivia. No net community, no global competition... Just "weekly new trivia packs".

Overall, this is just a trivia game, nothing more.

Overall score: 4 out of 10
Pros: interesting questions and answers
Cons: nothing new, everything old

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And here are some previews for upcoming reviews...

Tomb Raider: UnderworldImage via WikipediaWorse-Case Scenario -- trivia with an edge... do you know what to do if attacked by a bear? How about a gorilla? What to do with golf ball in a tree? Perhaps you need to play this game... in a party.

RISK -- the classic board game comes to the mobile. Play against AI, on quick map (north and south Americas), or try to take on the whole world against 3 levels of AI, complete with cards and bonus armies and all that.

Tomb Raider Underworld -- put it plainly, Lara Croft goes to Hell and Heaven to find clues of her mother's disapperance, and compete with other adventurers... and some a demon or two, in full 3D.

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KMGR of "LEGOs Batman: The Mobile Game"

LEGO GroupImage via WikipediaLEGOs series did pretty well in re-imaginging the popular universes with LEGO characters and relatively simple gameplay in very cute 3D. But can it deliver again in a mobile game? Hmmm... No, not really.

The mobile game is strictly a platformer, and a 2D one at that. Not even pseudo-3D like in the Transfomer tie-in, but a pure 2D like Donkey Kong. You only get to play Batman, no Robin in this game. A bunch of rogues have broken out of Gotham jail, such as Penguin, Riddler, Joker, Killer Croc, and more. Batman just bring them back one at a time as police are overwhelmed with the henchmen alone.

Batman here is sometimes equipped with batarang, which acts as a distance weapon. Later you may run into explosive batarang and homing batarang. You can also punch, do a flying kick, and do a sliding kick (great for going UNDER a henchman's shot). The cape also acts as a shield. You have limited lives, but you can find more as you go. There are plenty of environmental hazards to decrease your life counter, of course, like pitfall traps, henchmen who will shoot at you.

The 2D game is cute, but ultimately a bit too boring. The enV's larger screen helps somewhat so the game doesn't quite feel as claustrophobic as a regular phone, but you can still only see maybe one or so levels up. It doesn't really help much. Most of the problem is you have to master the precision jumps onto and off moving platforms, doing special jumps that if done will get you to the exit and if done slightly wrong will result at best in you dropping several levels and forced to spend frustrating moments to jump back up leve by level, or at worst, drop into traps and waste lives.

The game also wants you to explore by scattering "jade parrot figurines" all over for Batman to collect "to be returned to the museum". He, what a lousy excuse. A few is fine, but up to a dozen per level, and like 10 levels? Sorry, lame excuse.

The game is cute enough that you want to give it another chance, but it's hard to get excited with the primitive graphics, primitive sounds AND primitive gameplay. You are given a grappler gun, but you can only use it at designated "grappler swinging spots". What fun is that? it's more useful as a weapon, believe or not, against Joker's attack helicopter (no, I'm not kidding).

All in all, LEGOs Batman: The Mobile Game have to count as an also-ran. It is cute, but nothing else, really.

Overall rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: It's cute, decently animated, and levels are big enough
Cons: More frustrating than fun, nothing new later

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KMGR of Call of Duty: World at War (mobile)

Call of Duty: World at WarImage via WikipediaCall of Duty 5, aka CoD: World at War, went back to WW2 for some of the most hectic and brutal combat available... Soviet defense of Stalingrad, American island-hopping in the Pacific against entrenched Japanese defenders, and a few SAS attacks on German positions in the war. However, the mobile game itself left out the Russian front, leaving you with a plain-Jane version of 2D shooter on a cellphone that spans a mere 9-10 missions, all of which are quite short. The sprites are tiny, and animation primitive. All in all, it's just a below average shooter.

CoD5, using the same formulas as before, does not set you as a particular soldier. Instead, you play different soldiers on different fronts. In Europe, you're with the British SAS as they chase down the Germans in town, while in the Pacific you're with the US Marines as you try to evict the Japanese defenders with flamethrower and other weapons.

As stated before, sprites are small, and there isn't much animation other than occasional trees waving in the wind. Enemy soldiers don't move much, though they are known to duck behind cover every once in a while, and some may even have grenades. Your allies will attack as well, but they pretty much just follow a script: run up to cover and shoot from cover, that's it. They can't dodge grenades or follow orders. Thus, they are merely cannon fodder, so use them wisely.

You can move up to cover and you'll hide behind it, and you can shoot from behind cover a bit. You can also throw a grenade (you only got 3) for those nasties who need a bit more persuasion to leave. There are occasional tunnels and rooms you need to clear, which takes you to new parts of the map. Again, sprites are tiny, and nothing you do is new. There's a section where you need to plant signal flares to help direct artillery, but that's just go up to "blue spot" and hit OK to "mark". Setting a satchel charge? Same thing. Go up to blue spot and "mark".

You get either your Tommy gun, or the occasional flame thrower (kinda fun lighting the defenders on fire... for a few seconds). To keep it rated G there's no blood, and bodies disappear after a few seconds.

The two areas, Europe and Pacific, do look and feel different, but the same ideas in map design make them feel more common than they should. There's only one way through the map, and that's pretty much the whole game: kill bad guys as you run up to cover, shoot enemies (if you use the single-shot better).

The graphics are average or below average. As least the game is quite responsive. Sound is rather bad as well.

All in all, COD:WAW is an also-ran on the mobile, and should be skipped if you like the genre.

Overall rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: responsive, simple to get into
Cons: not much there any way, below average overall

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KMGR of "Need for Speed: Undercover"

IMHO, NFS:Undercover Mobile has completely ruined the premise of the game. There's no intro about you're working undercover. You're just a generic racer, with this chick giving you info on what races you've unlocked and maybe a tip or two before the race.

At least the graphics are impressive... The cars are more impressive than its nearest rival: Fast and Furious: Pink Slip. However, the streets aren't quite as good.

You basically start with a crappy car: The VW Golf R32, a decent boy racer, but not exactly in the same league cars as Porsche 911 or Nissan GT-R R35... You race through six districts in a variety of races: circuits, knockout circuits, sprints, take out the cops, speed camera, and new to the series... highway battle. The idea is you get ahead of the other guy and get ahead by more than 50 yards.

Oh, only first place counts. However, you can restart or redo any race you wish. If you win, you can replay the race later, with any car, but the winnings will be MUCH less.

As a result of that, you can only get maybe 3 cars and fully outfit them when you play through all districts, but there are like 8 cars in the game. (Hint: get the Nissans and you'll be fine)

Game relies a LOT of nitro and proper application thereof. There's some drifting, but drifting at speed in traffic is suicide. Also, the game double mapped the action button... in straights the OK button activates "bullet time". In curves it activates "drift balance", like NFS:ProStreet. So the wrong thing always gets activated at the wrong time. (Argh!) Personally, I'd forget about drifting altogether. (Won without drifting at all) Save the nitro for near the end, except you don't know where the end is, as there's no "progress indicator"! (Unlike F&F:PS)

However, driving feel is excellent, and the roads are long, and scenary is excellent from district to district. With F&F:PS the different areas look alike, just different portions and different times of day. The different amount of nitro does make a difference, as with Nitro you can probably hit 250+ miles, essential for speed cams and such top speed runs.

All in all, NFS:Undercover is just another racer, as the new mode was already on the PC version of NFS:Carbon as "mountain battle" (inspired by Initial D's "Touge Battles") And there's no "plot" at all. In fact, you're told to 'continue the mission with the console or the PC version'. Argh! It's nothing special, and while visually impressive, it's nonetheless NOT a winner.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: good cars, great graphics, lots of road racing in traffic, upgrades
Cons: some races very hard, nothing really new here at all

More mobile previews this week!

Call of Duty: World at WarImage by csullens via FlickrComing soon... reviews of the hottest mobile games... including...

Need for Speed Undercover -- race your way through the underworld and help takedown a criminal empire... sort of. In reality, you just race, and race, and race through 6 "zones", beat a few bosses, and have to "finish" the game on a PC or console. Argh! At least it has nice cars... but you won't own most of them unless you play the game OVER and OVER and OVER...

Call of Duty: World at War -- COD5 comes to mobile... would (should) you care? Perhaps not. It's just more WW2 stuff, and nothing special from MOH:Airborne (mobile) or COD4. No stealth. Nine or ten missions in Ardennes or Pelileu or Okinawa, that's it. You get either the Tommy, or on occasional, the flamethrower. You also have 3 grenades for special situations. And it's WAY too easy.

Legos Batman: The mobile game -- yep, LEGOs Batman comes to mobile. It's strictly 2-D platform game, and the primitive graphics is quite charming when compared to other 2D games like "The Dark Knight: Movie Mobile Game". Only 2 missions so far will have more impressions later.

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KMGR of "SimCity: Metropolis"

SimCityImage via WikipediaSimCity MetroPolis is a refinement of SimCity into more of a game experience, and for veteran SimCity mayors, this may be a bit too easy. However, for those new to the genre, it provides a fresh into the world of SimCity, and is relatively easy to pickup, with a much more accessible interface and interrelationships between the various needs of the city, and it even has decent graphics!

SimCity Metropolis has you being appointed to the position of mayor by the president of SimNation. However, the president is giving you various goals, usually 3 of them like "keep pollution rating at 7 or better", "get population up to 10K", and "keep satisfaction rating at 7 or better". You work only one of the three suburbs at a time, each suburb/district has different layouts and different set of buildings.

The view is regular isometric, and resolution is quite good on my LG enV. The land is criss-crossed with various streets and parks. Build-able land is limited, and from which you have to choose residential, industrial/commercial, and culture/services.

Residential buildings are basically your houses, from simple townhouses to hi-density condos, for the sims to live in. They come in various sizes, and their capacity and price will vary.

Industrial/Commercial buildings provide jobs, power, pollution (or cleanup), and so on. Some also contribute to traffic, increase/decrease of satisfaction ratings, and such, and comes in much larger sizes. Could be factories, treatment plants, even powerplants, or as simple as communications hub, company HQ, and so on.

Culture/Services buildings provide service to the Sims, and generally make them happier, like clinics and hospitals, baseball and basketball fields, restaurants and Squarebucks coffee, memorial plaza and cosmodome, and so on. They generally raise the satisfaction of the Sims and increase their physical fitness as well.

Clearly one must balance the needs of the city vs. the budget and the goals. And doing so within the time limit (usually 12-36 months) can be a challenge to the newly minted mayor. However I am usually months ahead of schedule, as I am very good in fitting pieces together to get max buildings into min real estate.

The interface is very simple. Use the D-pad to move the cursor around the map. If it's on an existing building, you can query it, demolish it, recycle it (into another building of same size), and so on. If it's on empty space, you can use the arrows to pick a type of building, then choose from list, then move the size guide around until it turns green (i.e. a valid build). Hit OK, and it'll be built in a few seconds!

There is no need to set prices as that's automatic. Just build things, and the Sims will come to live, work, and play. You'll need to build a balance of buildings, of course.

Every once in a while you're called upon to make a decision on something strange, like "alien habitat", as an alien wants to remodel the neighborhood. Do you let him, refuse him, or ignore him altogether? At other times, a monster or an asteroid will destroy one of your buildings. Every few months the SimPrez will update you on your progress (or lack thereof) and remind you which area seems to be a bit low.

If you finish all three "50K residents" missions, you get another term as mayor and this time, you get sandbox mode: no more goals, just upgrade existing stuff.

All in all, SimCity Metropolis is a nice intro to SimCity more of a game, less of a toy. But it's not a breakthru.

Overall rating: 7.5 out of 10
Pros: simplified interface makes things easy to get into
Cons: still a lot of wants to track and satisfy, not all relationships explained

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KMGR of "Hunting Unlimited: Big Game"

The Deer HunterImage by CrowHand via FlickrHunting Unlimited:Big Game prides itself in offering a variety of challenges in hunting. You hunt several types of prey, and some predators, in fact. In HU:BG, you hunt deer (four varieties), bears, ducks (many different ones), even big cats (cougars, lions, and tigers), in four different locations across the world.

The graphics is mostly 2D reminiscent of Deer Hunter, but the four locations are different enough to not bore you. There are also 3 "hides" at each hunt location so if you don't feel too good about one location you can go to another one.

Each location has three hunt venues... the birds, using a shotgun, the "deer" (including elk, and so on), using rifle or bows, and finally, the predators (bear or big cats), using high power rifles or bows.

The bird hunt is reminiscent of classic "duck hunt", except you have limited ammo, 360 degree rotation, but you do have duck calls that can entice them to land and get closer and such. (However excessive use will scare them away). If you finish the first hunt location and accomplish all secondary objectives you'll get a bonus item: duck decoys. Each location has a bonus item, in fact, such as bipod for the rifle, laser ranger finder for bow and gun, and so on.

Same 360 view is available for the "deer" hunts. Usually you want the bucks (male) and not th

Ae does (female) as bucks have the rack (horns) but you have receive special requests as secondary objectives like "tribe needs you to kill 3 bucks and 2 does". While gun have good range, unless you have the bipod they do "shake" a bit. Bow, on the other hand, have very low range (under 100 meters).

The special hunts for predators often require you to kill a deer in order to bait the trap. THEN you can hunt those predators as they approach the "rack". Yes, it's possible to use a bow to hunt the big cats and bears.

On the other hand, the "records" section is sorely lacking. I was expecting a graphical "best kills", like maybe those deer heads you mount on walls? But it is all text. Argh! And I was expecting the graphics to be a bit better than this 2D stuff.

All in all, Hunting Unlimited: Big Game does not really break any boundaries when it comes to hunting games. You don't quite get the "RPG" feel of Deer Hunter 3, but the variety and secondary objectives makes up for that, just wish it gives you better "record kills" than a few lines of text.

Overall rating: 6.5 of 10
Pros: secondary objectives keep you coming back to try again and again
Cons: breaks no new ground at all, 2D graphics still disappoints

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KMGR of "Quantum of Solace"

Yep, the mobile game is already out before the movie. Is the game any good? Let's just say, it spoiled the plot of the movie already. The James Bond you know is gone. This guy is impulsive, not suave. He solves problems with his fists and firepower, not really with his wits. And this time, he's got vengeance on his mind, as he wants to find out who blackmailed Vesper Lynd into betraying MI6, and basically, into dying. In the process, he got into plenty of hot water, was wanted by no less than MI6, CIA, AND some South American Country... Killed at least two leads, and only bedded ONE girl this time around, and wasn't even the main girl. :)

The game is about as dumb as the movie, believe it or not. The game is a standard 2D platformer, almost as dumb at the WANTED game a while back. At least that game had that "curving bullet" trick. QoS here just have the 007 brandname, as you end up fighting thugs, MI6 agents, guards, even the American Delta Force guys. As they all want your hide. So what can you do? You can do a bit of melee, duck down a bit, jump up, and find pistols and Submachine guns (two types of each). There are even stun grenades about, and at the very end, grenade launchers. There are crates to hide behind, and crates can be busted for any goodies.

And that pretty much describes the whole game. Jump here, jump there, avoid this guard, kill that guard... hide from that guard, so you can ambush him (hide in a door, and take out the guard as he goes by, shades of Batman: The Dark Knight game here... In fact, half of the game you're simply running and hiding and ambushing, as the enemies are too strong. You just have to make your way through the gauntlet, one enemy at a time. Later, you get to unleash your arsenal as you empty a whole magazine at an enemy to deplete his hitpoints. Big deal.

I pretty much finished the game as I figured out the mechanics. Some sections I need to try a few times, but nothing that is extremely frustrating. It's more... boring, as there's nothing fresh here. This is one formulaic game.

Overall rating: 5.5 out of 10
Pros: it follows the plot of the movie pretty closely
Cons: perhaps too closely, feels more Prince of Persia than 007

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KMGR of "Rolling with Katamari"

Image via WikipediaKatamari is one of those games that sneaks up on you. Who'd have thought that a game that involves rolling up other things to be so addictive?

In this mobile adaptation, you're sent by the King to Earth to rolling
up various things. The King had accidentally knocked all the stars out of the sky, and you need to make up some replacements from the objects on Earth!

You start out small, literally... Size of an ant, rolling up things like cookie crumbs, grapes, and so on, starting in a kitchen. The idea, is, obviously, that the bigger "ball" you've rolled up, you'd be able to roll up bigger items, like spoons, wedges of cheese, and so on. Each level has a time limit and a size requirement: you have X minutes to roll up a size Y ball.

The game gives you choice of 2 control schemes: rotational, or directional. The rotational lets you rotate left/right and is somewhat more precise, but turning takes a bit more time. Directional is faster in changing directions, but is not as "precise". And precision is needed, since you have limited time to achieve your objectives, and time is crucial, and you don't want to run into things you can "roll up" as that just wastes time.

The game is in an isometric view simulating 3D, and the objects are 2D, but very cute. Grapes roll along the table, mice scurry about... and so on. When the ball is so big to hide the prince from view, there's a separate "viewer" in the lower right corner that always lets you know which way you/he is facing.

This game takes a bit to get used to. I'm am ashamed to say I have yet to make it through the FIRST level yet.

All in all, this ball-rolling game is harder than it seems, which is apparantly a good thing.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: rolling a ball is easy, right? Not so! Cute and simple.
Cons: harder than it looks, NOT 3D at all

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How about some MORE mobile game previews?

James bond - quantum of solaceImage by titlap via FlickrYep, more previews!

Rolling with Katamari -- rolling up misc. objects with the little prince Katamari has reached mobile platform! Can you grow your way up from ant-sized?

Quantum of Solace -- yep, the adaptation of the new 007 movie's already out. It's not that good, IMHO. It's a standard 2D platformer, enough said.

Hunting Unlimited: Big Game -- a much more playable hunting sim than Deer Hunter 3 (reviewed previously), this has you hunting tigers, bears, and more, plus the more mundane ducks, deer, elk, and so on, across the world. However, only 4 locations.

Bonus Update -- SimCity Metropolis -- scenario/goal-based SimCity, where you're tasked with developing 3 zones of a small town into a full-fledged city while solving all sorts of problems along the way.

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KMGR of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars"

Star Wars - The Clone WarsImage by Don Solo via FlickrYep, Clone Wars the TV series inspired a game for the mobile. However, you don't get to play Anakin or his apprentice this time. You get to play clone trooper Denal, who takes orders from Captain Rex. Denal is a squad leader, so he'll lead several soldiers around. He later can carry grenades and EC bombs (stuns droids and such). Go through 15 missions on 3 different planets, and help the Grand Army of the Republic defeat the Separatist movement.

The game is strangely reminiscent of the Avatar game reviewed earlier. Basically, you control the squad by the D-pad: up is forward, down is backward, then left and right rotates this "direction arrow" 360 degrees, and that's the direction you go (forward or back). Your squad is relatively intelligent. They wil aim in the general direction and shoot any enemy near that if they are in range. If you come up to a short wall they wil crouch and go into cover and shoot over the wall if need be. Make use of the walls as this will significantly reduce your casualties! You'll run into regular droids ("Roger roger"), the heavy droids, the droidekas ("It's shielded!"), and even the occasional spider tank. However, you will have plenty of help. Sometimes you can summon reinforcements, air strikes, or even help from a local jedi.

The game is 2D-ish with a "hint" of isometric 3D. The troopers and the droids are nicely animated, and you'll be taking out hundreds of droids per mission. However, you will lose some troopers per mission. The idea is to minimize your casualties by employing your grenades and EC dets at the right time, and use cover properly.

Most objectives are timed, and you need to reach a waypoint to 'recharge the timer' so to speak. Timer is not TOO tight, but you have no time to dawdle either. You must keep moving, basically. Even bypass some enemies if you must. Some missions even comes in multiple parts.

Music is from the TV series, albeit edited down a bit. Some missions let you be more advantageous in other missions, such as reduce amount of enemy, enable air strikes, and so on. So this linked mission nature makes the game replayable if you got bored and want to try alternatives.

Main complaint is about the control interface. You can sort of get close to where you want to point, but if you want to be precise, like pick up a bonus grenade reload on the ground, which is quite small, you have to be VERY precise to get to it. This leads to delays as you turn 180, go back and forth, and so on. And your squad can be overwhelmed when attacked on multiple sides. You must engage one with grenade, then turn to the other and engage

All in all, Clone Wars is an enjoyable little "shooter" that emphasizes terrain and precision. If you like Star Wars, give it a try. You should like it.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Simple controls, exciting battles of Star Wars / Clone Wars
Cons: Squad AI aren't as good, playing a "peon", control precision has problems

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KMGR of "Ghostbusters: Ghost Trap"

GhostbustersImage via WikipediaGhostbusters: Ghost Trap is not really a Ghostbusters game, but rather, some other game adapted to the Ghostbusters property. It is rather ingenious adaptation though, and the overall theme fits, so it works... for the most part.

Basically, you are in overall control of the Ghostbusters Team. There is a single ghost in this "level". By using your proton packs, you need to drive the ghost into the ghost trap near the end of the level without it 1) touching any slim on the walls or 2) touching any pedestrians more than twice. The ghost seems to have "weight", meaning that unless "pushed" by a proton beam it will tend to fall and gain speed. It will also move from side to side if it has any horizontal velocity, but it can be slowed or sped up via more proton beams, albeit in the right direction. Ghostbusters are scattered throughout the level to help you "guide" the ghost into the trap. Each will use his proton pack in a partcular direction (of the 8 cardinal directions of the compass) to "push" or "pull" the ghost as shown by the icon below him. The idea is, again, to push or pull just enough from each so that the ghost touch minimum amount of slime, and get to the ghost trap at the very end (which activates automatically).

Sounds complicated, but there is only ONE button... OK / 5, which controls the firing of the proton packs from the nearest ghostbuster to the ghost. Remember, proton pack can both push and pull (sort of like a tractor beam).

Later levels will have a time limit, or worse, limit the amount of proton pack power you have.

Any problems? You can retry the level easily if you lose.

Some levels have "ghost cards", which, if touched by the ghost you're "guiding", will gain you special info on various types of ectoplasmic manifestations. Thus, you may not want to go straight to the ghost trap.

With at least 50 levels spread throughout New York, there are a lot of ghosts you need to catch.

Graphics is 2D sprites, cartoony, but nice and clear. Everything looks right and fits the theme. Music is a bit on the fad side, gets boring.

Overall, Ghostbusters: Ghost Trap is not too bad, as it is somewhat innovative in "one-button" gameplay. And the overall game does seem to fit the Ghostbuster theme. However, there just seem to be a little bit of disconnect in there (perhaps there are just too many Ghostbusters on each level?) that somehow didn't quite look right. Still, it is a rather fun game.

Overall rating: 6.5 out of 10
Pros: single button gameplay, Ghostbusters are back
Cons: some sections, when ghosts have almost no horizontal velocity, is very boring, while others are just extremely frustrating

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KMGR of "Transformers G1"

Transformers Optimus Prime G1 Encore Reissue -...Image by mdverde via FlickrYep, Transformers are back, and this one it's back to basics, not that awful "3D" shooter as a part of promo for the movie. This is all the way back to the original beginning, about how the ship crash landed on Earth and all that. And this time, the game is turn-based tactical combat! But is it any good? Surprising, yes!

TG1 lets you control up to 4 Autobots (depending on the mission) up against equal or superior number of Decepticons. The terrain is of course, a factor, and there are energy buildings such as transmission towers, and powerplants that you need to capture in order to produce energon cubes. The more cubes you have, the more repairs you can make, or the more reinforcements you can deploy (or revive "downed" Autobots, same thing).

The game is turn-based... You make your moves, then the opponent make theirs. Team combat is emphasized as supporting fire, when you fire on an enemy already under attack on another side, gets a 25% attack bonus. Leaders like Optimus Prime, brings a 10% leadership bonus for all units near him.

You can move, transform, attack (only if you're adjacent to enemy), ranged shot (if you are capable), or special ability (such as Ratchet's repair or upgrade). Each Transformer is rated in speed, transformed speed, attack, and defense. Obviously, you can't attack while transformed, but you have much better speed.

When one attack or defends, the semi-isometric view switches to "combat view", where the two robots shoot at each other, doing X amount of damage to the other. Damage is calculated by using the attack and defense factor of each, plus any bonus factors like supporting fire or leadership bonus. Then you go back to tactical view. It usually takes several rounds of combat. Eventually the loser turns into a pile of scrap heap.

Graphics is definitely on the lower end of the scale, but this fits the retro subject just fine. The sprites are easily recognizable. The one complaint is all the bots are the same size (or looks to be) when we know that Optimus Prime is quite a bit larger than Bumblebee and so on. Music is similarly retro sounding.

All in all, Transformers G1 is a retro-ish title that's much better than an arcade shooter. This tactical combat sim is simple and easy to learn. While it's not the best game ever, it deserves a play by any Transformers fan (or ex-fan).

Overall rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: All the familiars are here, turn-based combat gives you time to think
Cons: A bit monotonous until you hit the "special" missions

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