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?

Mobile Game Review of "The Incredible Hulk" (2008)

This game is so new, it's not even listed on MFORMA (i.e. Hands On Mobile) website. So, here's a first review!

We all know the story of Bruce Banner, and the Incredible Hulk, the strongest superhero... All that rage... And this game lets you do a lot of things... grab people, objects, cars, and throwing them as weapons. Obviously, lots and lots of people are out to stop you. As this is the 2nd movie, Abomination/Blonsky joins the hunt, along with General Ross. The plot is exposed through anime style portrait and a dialog bubble at the beginning of the "level", but there's very few of that. Most of the game is in the fighting.

Based on the same engine that powered "The Incredible Hulk: Rampage" (2006) this new game, a tie-in of the movie, is a 2D beat-em-up akin "Double Dragon". You play the namesake, Hulk himself. You may start as Banner, but you don't do much with Banner. You're almost always in combat here and there. Soldiers with guns, soldiers with rocket launchers, and tanks (launching those nasty rockets) are after you all the time. The trick is to "ration" the "ammo", i.e. the objects, which can be grabbed (with left soft key) and thrown as weapons. Unfortunately, you can't pick up a tank like the first Hulk movie. You can only walk up to it and punch it, and it can turn its turret quickly and shoot a rocket or two into you.

The combat is divided into shorter stages. You start on a map, transform into Hulk, then fight a set of enemies... you defeat them, and you get some of your health back, or if you can run around and avoid getting hit... you will heal yourself. The trick is don't get hit by several rounds all at once, while take care of the enemies quickly. If you finish one stage, you get "victory!" pronouncement, a health bonus, then you're herded into the next stage. At the end of the stage, you need to fight a boss. Once the boss is defeated, you are sent to the next "level". There are total of 3 levels that I can count... Brazil, Campus, and New York.

Basically you have the basic punch. Once hit will smash almost anything except tanks. Hit a tank 4 times and it simply blows up, turret flying through the air and all that. You can also grab and pick up items, from people (throw the unfortunate into crowd of other soldiers!), cars, golf carts, ceiling fans, SWAT step-vans, park benches, phone booths, trash can dumpsters, and more. The best tactic is to throw item into enemies. Throw a car into a tank, and there's a chance the tank will explode. You get the idea.

In the last level, New York, you're given what appears to be freedom to climb onto certain walls in order to get to rooftops, then jump among rooftops. However, the level is designed to go only one way, so it's an illusion of freedom.

Reviewed on a widescreen LG LX9900 enV using Verizon V.Cast, the game is responsive, and quite exciting with lots of enemies on screen, dodging shots left and right, while smashing almost anything available. The only problem is it is so short... 3 levels, that's it? You're left wanting more. However, it does succeed as a tie-in.

I'll have to give this one an 5.5, as it captures the Hulk frenzy, without making it too easy. However, it gets marked down for being so short, and no Banner segments at all, and the combat gets repetitive and boring.

And here's some previews of upcoming games...

And here's some quick previews...

The Incredible Hulk -- a 2D beat-em-up where you grab, and smash almost anything in sight, except enemies have guns, rocket launchers, tanks, and... Abomination. Captures Hulk spirit as you heal automatically, but combat is almost nonstop.

Matchmaker: Love U -- you play matchmaker as the dorm "monitor", trying to match up the various misfits. However, you also try to increase their appeal to the opposite sex by giving them a bit of makeover, and such. It's basically another "spinning plate" game, but this one is very well disguised.

Sid Meier's Civilization IV: War of Two Cities -- Actually, this has very little to do with Civ, but rather... Any one remember Rescue Raiders? You can build 3 types of units: infantry, shooter, or mobile unit, and occasionally, shoot that "artillery" of yours. Can you get your units through the other city's walls and conquer them? Or will they conquer you?

Critter Crunch -- cute variation on Tetris... Feed small bug to medium bug, feed medium bug to large bug... Feed bug twice and it goes pop, taking out its neighbors too. Pick up the little jewels left behind. Collect enough jewels before the bug line reaches too far down.

Mobile Game Review of "House Flipping Frenzy"

House Flipping Frenzy by GOSUB 60 is a game on the market at the right time, as it simulates something dear to heart of everybody: making money off real estate. The idea of "flipping houses" is simple enough... Buy a pretty run-down undervalued house, add some improvements to it, so it appeals to the proper audience, then sell it at a profit. So how did this game fare? Pretty well, surprisingly, as it manages to combine the "spinning plate" formula, with periodic "calm" of more strategic decisions.

When you arrive at a city, there are multiple neighborhoods. You have to perform well enough at the first neighborhood to progress to the second, and so on. If you perform well enough you can get a "gold" rating, else, silver, and bronze. The idea, of course, is to make lots of money, and use that money to, well, make MORE money.

So the process goes like this. When you start at the neighborhood, you look at the neighborhood demographics. How many people want 2 bedrooms, how many want 3 bedrooms, and how many want 4 bedrooms. Each of the house listed has, obviously, 2-, 3-, or 4- bedrooms. They all have problems. You can choose to redo the minimal, or a LOT, or in between. Obviously, the more you redo, the more it'll cost, but you'd also likely to attract the upper-end of the market (i.e. more profit).

Once you've picked the house, you pay for inspection, and he'll tell you if there's any hidden costs (i.e. something that's NOT in the listing, like leaky roof, or bad wiring...) Then, if you can flip multiple houses, you'll go pick another one. As you progress through the neighborhoods and cities, you get to flip more than one house at the same time.

Once all the houses have been picked, you take one last look at the city's demographics, then the exciting part starts... You need to do the following for EACH of the house(s) you are flipping:

* go to the bank and get the paperwork and money
* each house needs up to 3 contractors of different types, hire the right one(s)
* once the contractor's done, pay him with the bank money
* once all of the renovation's done, go to sales office and put up a for-sale sign
* people will see your sign / listing and start to come see the houses. However, if you show the house to MATCHING clients (for simplicity, they are color coded as brown, red, and blue) you'll get better prices
* if the prospective buyer makes an offer, choose to accept (or leave it for a better one to come along) However, if two buyers makes an offer at the same time, you can have a bidding war which raises the price even higher!

And you have a time limit for all of the above. Remember, you can have up to 3 contractors per house, multiple houses... It can get pretty darn hectic.

Graphics are just simple enough to do the job, and just cute enough to not bore you. The game is also very well paced, with each level of complexity introduced gradually. You start with one contractor, one house, and automatic choice of renovations. You're given more choices, but one thing at a time.

It's just too bad that the time limit and those gold/silver/bronze medal levels are so... arbitrary. If they had framed it in some context, that some other company is moving in so timing is short, or maybe we need to place in the top X for a bonus... that'd make more sense. As is, it's a lot of fun, except for that bit of arbitrariness. I can give this game an 8.0, really.

Mobile Game Review of "LEGO Racers"

LEGO Racers from Hands-On Mobile is not really based on either of the two existing LEGO Racers games, but sort of a combination of the two. It's a competent product, but again, lacks imagination.

You can race as any of the 5 teams based on LEGO products (space team, based on "Life on Mars", Dino Team based on "Dino Island"... you get the idea). There are total of 15 tracks, three for each of the five teams. Each track has a different feel, and all have their set of hazards, from oil slicks (you go out of control for X seconds), to water puddles (slows you down to a crawl), to flame vents (cooks you) to laser barriers (zaps you). If your life runs out, you decompose into component blocks... Then comes back several seconds later with full life. Basically, it's a big delay.

However, if you take away the Lego feel, it's basically a reprise of the old "Sprint" arcade game, albeit with a few "bonus features". You can use weapons (missile, or the zapper), or leave traps (from banana peel to portable hole to pile of bricks), but the game is a normal 2D racing game. You must place in the top 3 (out of four? Can't be THAT hard, can it? Yes it can) to continue to the next race. If you finish all 15 races, you "win".

As you play, you win LEGO points. You can even collect a few more during the race if you see some. You also get lots of powerups like first-aid kit (heals any damage), nitro charge (gives temp boost of speed), and more. The points can be used at end of race to upgrade your vehicle in speed and traction, and purchase more nitro charges.

Replay value ain't bad as you can randomly choose a team, each race can be different as a lot of the powerups are randomly distributed, and there are three levels of difficulty if you find the default game too easy.

All of the levels look proper. The course walls have the LEGO studded bricky look, and so does the vehicles.

Controls are responsive enough, and the more advanced courses can be difficult as there are more narrow passes, underpasses, boost pads (give you a kick in speed), jumps (if you don't jump right you land in the water, or worse... lava). Still, it is a 2D racing game, and you know your handset can support 3D racing... So again, it's a pretty good 2D game, but still kinda "meh".

Mobile Game Review of "Kung Fu Panda"

Disney / Dreamworks hit upon a formula... Cute animals doing kung fu. What's not to love? I'm sure the movie's going to be a hit, even with kids. So is the mobile game worth playing? Hmmm... It's a surprising YES!

Instead of a Street Fighter / King of Fighters straight beam-em-up, the developers sent us an action-adventure combined with a beat-em-up. You get to play both as Po, the panda, and Tai Lung, the "bad guy". It is a 2D game but very cute sprites.

The characters are responsive, necessity for a beat-em-up. Controls are straight forward... jump, crouch, and so on. There's only one "attack" key, though in combination of jump and crouch you'll execute different attacks.

As Po, you get to collect lots and lots of dumplings. Break a few things like vases and bowls, maybe something hiding inside. If you got noodle soup, you'll get temporary power-up. As Tai-Lung, your claws are your best weapons, and you can flip over an oil lamp to temporarily add fire to your claws, making them more deadly.

There's a "world map" where you move among 10 levels. Obviously, this will follow the plot, so I can't say too much about it. Suffice to say, yes, Po and Tai Lung will meet in the end for the ultimate kung fu showdown. In the meanwhile, you'll go to a tutorial level in Shifu's dojo to learn the controls, then switch to Tai Lung, then back, and forth. You get the idea.

If you manage to locate all "Paws of Power" orbs on every level, you can unlock a secret bonus. I haven't done so yet, as some of those can be quite hard to find. Also, there's no "score", so once you finish the game, that's about it, as there's no levels of difficulty.

The music is vaguely oriental but repeats quickly, so it can be boring. Sound effects are so-so.

All in all, Kung Fu Panda, the mobile game, is a pretty good tie-in... Long enough to worth playing maybe twice or three times through, and short enough (each level lasts about 3-5 minutes) to play as a mobile game, with good use of subject material, art, and responsive controls. I give it a 7.5.

Mobile Game Review of "Dilbert: Cubicle Chaos"

Review of Dilbert: Cubicle Chaos is up on IGN...

Quick Previews, and some updates

Only two left from the other one left to review:

* Dilbert: Cubicle Chaos

* Kung Fu Panda

Though some new games join the quick preview parade...

* The Incredible Hulk -- pick up most things in the environment, including enemy soldiers, and throw them against your enemies... It's kinda fun

* Lego Racers -- 15 levels, 5 teams, this is a basic 2D racer with a few twists, like weapons, traps, nitro, and so on.

* Devil May Cry: Dante vs. Virgil -- already reviewed. :)

Mobile Game Review of "Devil May Cry: Dante vs. Virgil"

New game on Verizon... Devil May Cry: Dante X Virgil made it to the phones.

Mobile Game Review of "Law and Order: Celebrity Betrayal"

Review of Law and Order: Celebrity Betrayal is up on IGN

Mobile Game Review of "James Bond 007: Top Agent"

Best thing I can say about Top Agent is... it's different.

This game is sort of a RPG/adventure, where you play James Bond and participate in two adventures, both a part of an existing movie. It's all combat though, nothing beyond combat. However, the combat system is fairly novel... There are 5 "rounds" in each battle. You and your opponent will pick one "action" for each of the 5 rounds. The action can be melee, double-strike (2x damage, -15% accuracy), place trap, throw grenade, shoot, rapid-fire (2xdamage, -15% accuracy), aimed shot, use first aid pack (if available), take cover (if available), defend (against melee), go prone, etc. All 5 actions must be picked at once, then the combat is resolved as each side's action is revealed, and that round's combat resolved. At the end of 5 rounds, the one with more life left is the winner (unless one side went down first during the battle).

While you may think this is way too simple, there are a lot of weapons, gadgets, and so on available that quickly changes the dynamics of the game. You can also grow your skills in shooting, melee, dexterity, and gadgetry, which helps with various activities. Shooting and melee are obvious. Dexterity helps you dodge attacks, and even if hit, reduces damage. Gadgetry rating helps you place gadgets/traps more successfully.

The game itself is 2D only, but the backdrop changes to fit the backstory, from jungle to deck of the undersea fortress to factory and more. Some rooms have cover such as oil cans and crates, others don't. That would affect your tactics considerably. Do you go all out attack? If so, melee or ranged? How much defense and when? Which weapon should I use? You must decide all that before the battle starts.

The weapon list is impressive, all the way from that electric glove used by Gustav in Die Another Day (great melee weapon) to the wrist dart shooter in Moonraker. There's even some special fedoras (tribute to Oddjob). And yes, Jaws makes a guest appearance. There's supposedly over 70 items to "collect". And the more items you have, the more bonuses you can enjoy, and the better "combo" you can assemble, which will affect your tactics.

If you got tired of the story mode, you can challenge other agents, either randomly or through a specific ID (given in the game) to battles.

The main *problem* with this game is... it's just too RANDOM. I feel like play a crapshoot instead of playing a game with a purpose, with known rules and tactics and strategies. Most of the game is on LUCK, esp. when you're matched up against agents of roughly the same level(s). Though I *have* seen even level 20 agents got taken down by level 12 agents.

All in all, Top Agent is not bad for a mobile game, as it does keep you coming back for more, but its randomness is a turn-off, as there's no mastery of this game (i.e. you can't master luck).

Presentation: 6.5 (looks Bond-ish)
Graphics: 5.5 (below average 2D)
Sound: 2.5 (forgetable)
Overall: 6.0

In the review pipeline... and quick reactions...

  • Kung Fu Panda -- yes, there's a wireless game out already... Not too bad, actually, as EA actually put some effort into this 2D beat-em-up.

  • Plantasia -- reviewed below

  • Dilbert: Cubicle Chaos (by Namco) -- basically same idea as Plantasia or Diner Dash, except you're the pointy-haired boss, "managing" cubicle drones by giving them assignments, motivate them with cow prods, then shredding their projects. All under a time limit, of course.

  • Law and Order: Celebrity betrayal -- join the TV show's detectives and DAs in cracking a case... Investigate, gather evidence, analyze them, play two pretty unrelated sidegames (food / coffee, and file-sorting) as the detectives, then try the stuff in court as the DAs (raise objections at the right time with proper counter) to go for the maximum sentence.

  • James Bond 007: Top Agent -- play through two movies, combat henchmen one at a time using variety of weapons, gadgets, and more. Challenge friends and enemies online. Pick five moves, and see who comes out on top! Who will be "Top Agent"?

Mobile Game Review of "Detective Puzzles"

Review of Detective Puzzles is up on IGN as well.

Mobile Game Review of "NASCAR '07 (3D)"

Review of NASCAR '07 (3D) is up on IGN

Mobile Game Review of "Plantasia"

(Can't review it on IGN yet as it's not even listed on there!)

From the makers of Diner Dash came another game of similar ilk, this time involving plants. Does it play well enough? Yes... Thought feels slightly more "forced".

For those of you who have played enough of these "action-strategy" games where you basically handle multiple demands together through increasing difficult levels, Plantasia is probably not worth another glance, as it's pretty much a me-too title. It has its own charms, but whether that's enough to prefer it over its competitors is doubtful. However, it is decidedly non-violent (except spray bugspray on bugs and use scraper to scrape weeds) and can be... diverting.

Basically, you're a plant specialist, and you're in charge fixing up several gardens. There are total of four gardens, each with 5 sections. Each "section" then is a sub-level, while each garden is a "level". Each sub-level has 9 "pots". Sometimes the pots already have a plant in it, sometimes a weed (must be weeded), but most often, nothing. If there's nothing, it must be "filled with soil", then "seed planted". After that, you need to constantly keep it watered (esp. if it goes "dry"), free of weed (use the weeder), free of bugs (both flying and crawling kind, use the bug spray), and harvest the bloom to increase your mana, which can then be used to purchase more equipment, such as water two plants at once, or more seeds and/or more advanced seeds (which gives you plants that are harder to take care of, but yields more mana when harvested).

To add to the challenge, there are "fairy dust" and plants that leaves fairy dust, which are basically "color markers". If you plant a particular color plant in a matching pot (which has the same color of fairy dust) you get a bonus when you harvest it. Thus, using those once-only plants properly early on, and getting the right seeds later, is very important. As is not to let any plants die due to lack of water, or other care.

In "story mode", you are required to buy certain amount of "statues" in order to pass the sub-level. You can get an "expert win" by buying extra statues (basically, by going above and beyond the normal needed amount of mana). Expert wins are quite difficult at level 3 and 4. As stated before, there are 4 levels, each with 5 sub-levels.

The other game mode is "garden challenge". Each of the four "levels" is a garden and you are allowed to basically keep playing as long as possible by keep as many plants alive as possible and keep harvesting until you can't afford to "buy" any more time on the clock. As time cost increases after each purchase, there's a limit to how long you can last, but that's the fun of it. Different gardens have different availability of plants, so challenges are somewhat different. At the toughest level, button pushing can be quite hectic.

So basically the idea is to keep as many of the plants happy as possible, while killing off any invaders like bugs and weeds, and harvest as fast as you can.

The graphics are simple sprites, though pretty well animated. Music is not too remarkable, but tolerable. What I don't like about Plantasia is the fact that the requirements are "forced". In other words, you MUST buy the statues to win the level. They are NOT automatically bought for you as to give you to mana to buy other things if needed, so you decide when to buy the statues. It feels a little bit "forced".

All in all, Plantasia is a pretty much fun non-violent action-strategy game using the same theme. Due to that, I can only give this game an 8, due to lack of originality. It's kinda fun, and it's quite stable.

Mobile Game Review of "American Gangster"

Review of "American Gangster" is up on IGN.

Mobile Game Review of "The Bourne Conspiracy"

IGN can't even let me review The Bourne Conspiracy yet, as of May 5, 2008. So, here's the review...

It's a yawner. At least it's somewhat better than that previous game, Bourne Ultimatum. This one gets more of a 7, as they actually tries to make a game of it.

This game is basically a combination of several minigames... 2D platformer, a "dodge'em" driving segment, a "parkour" escape sequence, the "sniper evasion", and the occasional rappel section.

The 2D platformer is the heart of the game. The "parkour" is just a variation of it, as is the sniper evasion and rappel section. Basically, you control Jason bourne, and you sure know kung-fu. You can even grab enemy's weapon and shoot him with it. There's even an "adrenaline" gauge that you can fill up with kills that allows you to unleash "special takedown". But at its heart, it's just run left, run right, take out one opposition after another...

The "parkour" variation, or "free running", is basically the same idea, except there's no shooting. You basically have to keep moving, by jumping over low walls, roll under obstacles, but hitting the up/down keys at the right time (else you stumble, and if you stumble enough times, enemies will catch you).

Sniper Evasion is basically a super-hard version of the platform... A sniper has you in his sights... When his sights wander off, run to next cover... Take out enemies in your way without exposing yourself. Continue this until you make it to the end of the stage.

Rappeling is the most idiotic part of the game, IMHO. As you try to rappell down side of a building, two other goons flank you and start shooting. You can't go any faster, so you have to swing left and right and kick them off. Of course, as soon as you do so, more goons arrive, so you have to use those few seconds you gain as goons arrive to keep sliding downward. When you're back on level ground, it turns back into a 2D platform game.

The driving game is almost the same as... Dodge obstacles and thus keep your car running. Most you run into, the less your car will run. They added a cute segment where enemy on cars will try to jump on your hood and you have to shake them off ASAP.

At least this one follows the first Bourne film quite faithfully, but with a couple extra additions. You start in the park accosted by two police, then you must fight and escape (platform). You then remember the Wombosi mission (platform). Then you enter the US Embassy, and again, must escape (parkour). Then you get to Marie's car and do a driving sequence. Then the professor chased you down and you need to do sniper evasion... well, you get the idea.

The graphics are better this time around, better than that previous sorry excuse of a Bourne game. Music isn't much better, but at least the activities this time makes a bit more sense instead of that previous "running man" excuse. Except rappelling. That's still dumb.

All in all, Bourne Conspiracy (mobile) managed to catch a bit more of the atmosphere of the first Bourne film. However, it still seem to lack the viscereal action, the "use anything as weapon" melee, and the tense atmosphere that the movie excels in. This game looks recycled with a few improvements, and that's why it can only rate a 7.