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 "Ironman: the movie game"

My review for "Ironman: the movie game" is up on IGN. You can skip it unless you're a diehard fan. It's sad that some companies still can't make a proper mobile game that's fun nowadays.

UPDATE: IGN's official review agrees, it's one sorry 'meh' game.

Quick Mobile Game Review: "Iron Man"

I'm afraid this movie tie-in is quite boring. Basically, it's a vertical scroller where you control Iron Man and shoot at various things. Iron Man fires automatically, so the only thing you really control is the "chest ray", which is quite hard to find recharges, as you can only shoot it a couple times before you run out. Enemies are your standard turrets, and later flying machines. You basically avoid the shots, while move around so you pump enough shots to destroy the enemy structures, and try to shoot enemy buildings to pickup enough health packs for yourself. All in all, a BORING shooter that shows NO imagination. Full review coming up later. (There's no even a link on IGN!)

Mobile Game Review of "Super Model Empire"

Super Model Empire is a new "fashion tycoon" type game from Digital Chocolate. Does it make you a fashion tycoon? Not exactly. And balancing your books ain't simple. One bad decision can put you under, and bad decisions aren't that obvious. Thus, this game ain't as nice as it could be.

So how does it play? You are Troy Vance, upcoming designer. Your objective is eventually to get 100% fame, known in every household. However, your game cycle goes roughly like this: design research, best guess, then "fashion show", with some HR concerns in between.

Design research stage is where you must use the various research methods available, from hanging at local cafe to trip to Milan, Italy or Paris, France. Sounds exotic, but the actual "research" is done by playing dropping cards... If two adjacent cards are the same, they "disappear" and you are credited with 2 removed. If you can arrange 3 or 4, even better. Best: arrange "chains", which can gain you bonus moves. You can move only a certain number of cards, one pickup is one move, one putback is another move. Different cards represent the different parts of the outfit. The more expensive and longer the trip, the more moves you can perform.

Once you've done some research (i.e. gotten some cards removed) you get to see a picture, that has SOME parts of it revealed. Depending on which cards you removed, the corresponding portion (hairdo, top, bottom, jacket, accessory, shoes) will be revealed. However, as individual cases are small, and reveals are random, most of the reveals are worthless. So you'll need to make a best guess as to the "final design". Remember that each change requires some time, usually several days.

And remember, research cost money, running the company cost money, and making the dresses cost money.

You can hire people who can help you, for even MORE money. Dressmaker, if s/he passes the skill check, will figure out one piece of the outfit. Patternmaker will reduce the time needed to make changes to outfit by 2 days. Trend Consultant will give you additional reveals (again, if s/he passes skill check). There's also HR manager, PR manager, exec assistant, and so on. Remember, though... they need to get paid MONTHLY. And if you run out of $$$, your company goes toast.

Depending on your size, your "turn" starts at 30 days, then becomes 60 days, then even longer. At the end of countdown, your design will be shown at a fashion show, where you get a rating for how close you got to the actual fashion trend (if you got 100% match, you get bonus fame). You need to hire a model. The better known the model, the better your show will do, but cheap models are like $500 to $1000 per show, but famous models are like $15000 per show. You also need to play fashion photographer, and take 5 pictures by pressing OK when the picture moves past the brackets. Once that's done, you get a rating for how well you did, how much sales, then salaries and model fees, and whatnot are paid off, and you start again.

There are random events to keep you on your toes. Your trend consultant can run off (thus, leaving you with NO design!), your model can throw a hissy fit and demand a pay raise just before the show, and other disasters. You have to resolve them and keep the company running.

While all this sounds like a tycoon game, the actual mechanics of playing the cards, and revealing the trend, is simply busy work. Thus, the game isn't as fun as it can be. I guess girls may be more interesting in playing pin-up outfits, as there are hundreds of combinations you can generate, and you will unlock more as you go on. However, your goal is to match a randomly generated outfit by looking at the clues, and that's just not fun.

Overall score: 7 out of 10...

Mobile review update...

My LG VX8300 just died, so I just swapped it for another LG... the VX9900 enV this time. I want the keyboard for mobile web 2.0, though the larger speakers and screen certainly would not hurt.

However, that means i lost the games on it, which was Guitar Hero, Matchmaker: Love U, and House flipping Frenzy. I'll have to review the latter two from memory.

One more item to the pipeline...

Supermodel Empire by Digital Chocolate -- more like "Fashion Empire", you just started your own brand. Research trends (by playing card-matching minigames to reveal upcoming trends) then design your outfit to match the trend with best guesses. When you guess right, you make LOTS of $$$. hiring various assistants whom will help in various different areas... Objective is to achieve 100% fame in min amount of time.

Mobile Game Review of "Speed Racer"

My review of Speed Racer (mobile) is up on IGN. it's not bad, but it's a bit retro-looking (intended, I guess?)

EDIT: and here's the proof... My review was 1 WEEK earlier (4/23) than IGN's review (5/1).

State of Mobile Gaming -- Update

The more I play EA, the less I seem to like their games. I understand that they spent a lot of $$$ on "The Godfather" license from Paramount/Viacom, but their reply to that was to make a game that doesn't fit the spirit of the movie, then make a mobile game that is just a bunch of minigames strung together instead of something that works, and finally, they're going to release a sequel, no details available. How about designing something right the first time?

The Godfather was something OLDER folks would remember with fond memories, but why license it and try to market it as a bunch of M-rated games? It just doesn't make sense, as adults are beyond it, and kids wouldn't be turned on by it (being old stuff).

Not that the PC version was a bad game. I've played it to the bitter end (had to enable a couple cheats) to execute the last takeovers. But yes, it's done. It's basically GTA3 set in Mafia background, with a better combat system that emphasize cover and fire, plus a series of melee and fatality moves.

They should have picked something more recent instead, IMHO.

Games in the review queue: Matchmaker: Love U, House Flipping Frenzy, and James Bond 007: Top Agent (argh!)

Quick impressions:

Matchmaker Love U: Not bad, kinda dating sim, as you try to match up two people by helping them improve themselves. IGN already have official review...

House Flipping Frenzy: turns real-estate "house flipping" into a game... Ramps up difficulty nicely, as complexity is added town by town, city by city. More complex than it initially appears to be. Difficult to get "gold" medal by making TONS of money at every house, as you have limited time to get the houses (up to 6 houses) done (up to 4 different contractors must be supplied and paid per house) and there are different demographics involved per house (3 types of audience, 2/3/4 bedroom types). Different client will offer different $$$ for your house, so you must match up client to the house to maximize his offer...

James Bond 007: Top Agent -- argh, turns JB007 franchise into a "play 5 cards". Your opponent also chooses 5 cards, then each matches up against the other, and combat is "resolved" this way. If you have more HPs than your opponent at the end, you "win", else you can try again. What did they DO to the franchise? There's some "gadgets" like mines and such you can "place", more guns to get, and so on, but basic choices are "melee", "gun", "gadget", "dodge", or "parry". If you both parry, nothing happens. If you melee and he parries, you'll take damage. If you both melee, both roll dice. Well, you get the idea. :P Not much game here.

Mobile Game Review of "The Godfather" Game (mobile)

There's no link, as this game doesn't seem to exist yet, not even on EA Mobile's own website!

And it SHOULD say hidden, as it's really a mix of minigames: shooting gallery, concentration, stop the spinner, slider puzzle, keep-it-centered, DDR-style "hit the right key", and "The Godfather" trivia quiz.

The stuff is organized into 10 minigames that's sorta related to the main scenes in the movie, such as invading the Holtz estate, hiding the Don, deliver message for Carlo, muscle Joe Greene, and ends with assassinate Barzini. Each "scene" is composed to two to three segments each with one minigame, followed by a 3-question trivia test.

For example, Invading Holtz Estate basically means you need to pick a few locks by playing the "stop the spinner" puzzle a couple times (to signify several doors). While Muscle Joe Greene would have you shoot about 30 goons, then "keep it centered" supposedly to keep your heart-rate down so you don't alert the victims, then finally, whip out the gun and put a bullet into the victim'(s) head(s).

As you finish your assignment you gain "family honor". You get bonus for answering the trivia questions correctly. Get enough, and you get promoted. Your ultimate goal is to get rated "Don", which basically means you know the movies inside-out, and can play the action sequences like a virtuoso. Big deal.

All in all, this seems to be one of those games that EA is pumping out to satisfy the license requirements, such as that early Harry Potter game they put out that's almost the same: minigames thinly disguised as "magic training", followed by trivia. It feels like lousy tie-in, and I stand by my opinion.

Presentation: 5 -- music's fine, but not much there

Graphics: 5.5 -- not bad, but 2D sprites only, nothing there exciting

Sound: 3.5 -- authentic Godfather soundtrack, but no volume control!

Gameplay: 5 -- sorry, this is not Wario games, collection of minigames does not make a game

Lasting Appeal: 3 -- if you want, you can unlock 'family trivia' about the movie, but you can probably find that on IMDB instead

Overall: 5.0 -- spend your money on better games

Mobile Game Review of "Surviving High School '08"

Surviving High School '08 is one of those "choose your own adventure" games that have you balancing high school life between grades, sports, and girls. Plenty of other adventure chapters you can download for free.

Mobile Game Review of "WRC 3D"

Review of mobile phone game WRC by Firemint/Iplay is up on my IGN blog. It's a pretty sweet driving game, if a bit TOO simple.

Mobile Game Review of "Tradewinds 2"

Review of "Tradewinds 2", a modern version of "Taipan", the sea trading game, is up on IGN.

Mobile Game Review of "Yie Ar Kung-Fu" mobile

No link, because it's not even on Konami's own mobile game website! (As of 4/14/08) and I know I've been playing it for a couple days already!

Very faithful translation of the old twitch-gaming beat-em-up, every sound, every sprite, every move. Of course, shrunk down, and adapted to buttons.

Every level, every opponent is here, of the original arcade version, 11 opponents.

If you want retro-gaming, this is it. However, I'm not a very retro guy.

Rating: 5.5 for a very solid adaptation, but nothing "new" to it.

Mobile Game Review of "Brothers in Arms: Art of War"

Yeah! Beat IGN again! No review, no preview, can't even review it there!

BIA:AoW is Gameloft's new take on the BIA franchise they licensed from Gearbox. However, this time they seem to have regressed instead of advanced, from BIA 3D.

BIA:AOW (from now on, just AOW) is a 2D take on the career of Matt Baker, super paratrooper, as he fights everywhere US Army Airborne went, all over Europe. However, this time, the fight is 2D, quite similar to Medal of Honor: Airborne (mobile) by EA. Thus, the game feels much more of a copycat now, albeit they did throw in a couple twists, like "anti-air gunner", but that doesn't help with that "I've played this before" feeling.

AOW boasts 13 missions, with four levels of difficulty (2 of which you must unlock by finishing the campaign). However, even on "private" the game is hard enough. Basically, you're this one guy that runs around the battlefield, shooting Germans (who sometimes hides in bushes) with his Thompson SMG (i.e. Tommy Gun), throws the occasional grenade, shoots the occasional bazooka (at tanks, German MG positions, etc.), avoid enemy grenades (though you CAN throw it back if you're fast enough), avoid enemy guns, mortars, and generally, survive on the battlefield.

You can go in and out of buildings in AOW. Move through door of a building, and you're in the interior. Shoot more Germans, then come out the other door to continue through the level. There's one way through the level, enemies at same places every time. So this is more of a gimmick than anything else.

AOW also has "crates", which contains health packs, or ammo, or grenade, or weapons, and such. Occasionally some crates drop from the sky in front of you. At other times you find them littered among the landscape. You have to approach it and "action" on it to smash it and claim the contents. This feels both gimmicky and oldskool.

AOW starts with a parachute jump, but ONLY ONE, where you're supposed to "avoid the flak" by moving up/down/left/right. However, no matter how well you do, you ALWAYS get hit a few times, then it's "hang on, we're going in hard!"

You get to "rescue" a comrade in arms ONCE, where you basically get next to him, then you hit "right" to pull him right. You went maybe 10 ft (game-wise), then a medic suddenly appeared and took over. What's the point? They're not even under fire! At least go around the corner or something! Total wasted opportunity!

Another level have you manning an AA gun where you need to shoot down German bombers, while defending yourself from strafing German fighters. It's boring being a turret though. At least it didn't repeat.

Another section have you driving a tank around. That's kinda fun, until you realize that the turret doesn't do smooth scrolling, and only faces 8 directions. This makes hitting enemies tougher... Until you realize you need to point kinda in that direction for the machine-gun to open fire automatically. The problem then is shooting at other thanks and bazooka troopers before they shoot you to pieces.

There's another sequence where you need to abandon the tank, run up an enemy occupied building, blasting your way in, kill the Germans manning the mortars, then use the mortar to "escort" a fellow airborne soldier. The idea is to drop shots on the enemy before they start shooting at your buddy. There really isn't anything else to do, except to learn the optimum places to put the shots as you replay this mission over... and over and over... :P

The end requires you to chase down this German general in an arms factory. However, your "boss fight" is conducted on this platform, which is now moving like 100 MPH (how? where? how long is it?) The General took off and is shooting at you plus a few guided rockets. You... have bazooka and your trusty Tommy gun. Can you kill the Me-262 from the platform (before it kills you, by shooting you, missiling you, or by blowing you off the platform.) This makes no SENSE at all, and is a copy of most of the other Gameloft game endings (except BIA 3D, which doesn't have a hokey ending.)

The graphics feels both better and worse, and there's no volume control for sound this time around.

All in all, BIA:AOW is an ALSO-RAN, and its higher frustration level means your money may be better spent elsewhere. EA's MOH:Airborne Mobile is good, so is 24:Special Ops. This one... just isn't up to par.

Rating: 6 out of 10 barely competent, copycat feel

Progress Report, and a bit more rant

I've caught up with MOST of my review backlogs. Should be only a few games left, unless I recall some previous games I forgot to review. :)

Any way, why do mobile game publishers create "3D" versions of regular 2D games? It's simply dumb, and waste of time and resources, when they have the exact same gameplay.

Two examples: Transformers 3D (the levels look 3D-ish, but still same 2D platform play), and Metal Slug 3M (3D version). Some flying enemies are 3D, otherwise, still 2D.

Did they really think we'd be impressed by the extra graphics?

Backlog Status: BIA: Art of War, Yie Ar Kung Fu, and Tradewinds 2. That should be it.

Mobile Game Review of "Transfomers 3D"

Review of "Transformers 3D", the slightly improved movie tie-in, is up at IGN. It's not that good, honest.

Mobile Game Review of "Battlestar Galactica"

I honestly can't tell if this is the same game as the one on IGN. Graphics looks about the same, but publisher is completely different (Superscape instead of In-fusio). As far as I know the two companies are NOT related, yet the game looks so similar...

Any way, to the review. Imagine playing Galaxian, with Cylons as the aliens and your Viper as the shooting ship. Yep, that's about it. Random convoy ships in the background as you fly past them. If you do well, you earn credits which can be applied to your ship as upgrades... if you survive that long. You have three weapons: guns, lasers, and missiles, none are very strong at the beginning. Certainly there's bazillion Cylons out there, and they aren't fun. And then I got bored, as I saw the same thing, over and over, and over, and I'm not that good at twitch games any way.

According to the 2006 review of the In-fusio version, the flight later turns into more "Time Pilot" type 360 motion instead of strictly top-down. Whopee-dee. Do I care? Not any more. Boring, boring, boring.

Rating: 5 out of 10. How about something DIFFERENT?

Mobile Game Review of "Deal or No Deal - Banker's Revenge" by Mobliss

Deal or No Deal is one of those gameshows that relies more about chance and critical thinking, instead of trivia knowledge or talent, and that makes it more accessible to the average Joe.

To explain the rules... It's actually not that hard. Basically, you are required to choose a case out of the ones available. That'll be YOURS. It could contain 1 of the amounts, from $0.01, all the way up to $1 million. You then, need to eliminate most of the cases remaining, by choosing them. At the end of each round, the "banker" will offer you an amount... if you banker's offer, you get that money and the game ends (then what's in your case is revealed, and whether you made a good or bad deal). Else, you get to eliminate MORE cases, until there are two cases, left. You can choose to swap your case with the remaining case... or not. Then it's revealed, and how well you did is revealed as well.

The mobile game is an exact port of the actual game, except the host and players are animated (and AI players are randomly generated). However, there are two game modes... the classic, where you play a contestant on the gameshow and try to win some virtual dollars; and the new mode, known as "banker's revenge", where you play the 'banker', and offer the AI contestants an amount, and try to get them to accept the deal, by not offering too much so it's too good, but not so bad that it'll get rejected out of hand.

The game mechanics are simple enough, but no... suggested strategy. The AI gets a bit chatty after a while, esp. the host, as he doesn't have that many lines. The cartoony appearance doesn't help. At least the dialogue IS authentic... enough.

All in all, straight adaptation, except for "Banker's Revenge" mode. And there's not too much there new, not that pretty. All in all, competent, but no "chrome" to it.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10.

Mobile Game Review of "Puzzle Quest: Warlords" is up on IGN

Puzzle Quest: Warlords is one of the better mobile adaptations to come along, even though it was VASTLY simplified from the Xbox version. Read it on my IGN review blog.

Mobile Game Review of "Super Gadgets" by Starwave

Again, this game doesn't seem to be available anywhere else, so I have to link to Verizon's own listing.

Any way, Super Gadgets is a spiritual descendant of "The Incredible Machine" on the PC way back when Jeff Tunnell wasn't busy with Dynamix flight sims. Jeff Tunnell productions produced a series of games starting with "TIM", which basically gives you a task, like "get cat into basket" or "pop 3 balloons" by giving you a ton of parts to build Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions. Super Gadgets is basically Starwave's version of the game, with their own twists.

First of all, the game is definitely SIMPLER. There are like four "levels", each with about 10 or so puzzles to solve. For each one, you get a rating. If your solution works on the FIRST attempt, you get a gold. Two to three attempts, silver. More, than that, bronze. Each level gives you far fewer parts, and no fancy-shmancy parts like lasers, laser-controlled switches, and so on. Most parts are activated by touch, and don't need a separate plug. No mouse motor and belts to drive treadmills... just drop something on the treadmill and it starts moving. All in all, the simplication does help a bit.

The objectives are as whimsical as ever. Trap the mouse, put the cat in the nest, entice the thief into the trap, drop the bag of sand on the dog, pop all three balloons... you get the idea. However, it's HOW you do it that makes this game challenging. Often, you have analyze the playing field, and see where you need to move to, then plan your gadget activation that way. The first path you see may NOT always be the right one.

Some other cute gadgets have been added. Water faucet (touch activation) set above a "beanstalk pot" means whatever lands on the plant, when something activates the faucet, and the plant gets water, will be raised up. There's the cop and the thief... Cop always chases thief, and thief runs away from cops, but goes after diamonds. Then there's the fancy stuff like anti-grav plate, vacuum cleaner, giant fan, and so on, to send things FLYING.

None of the puzzles are impossible, though some solutions require more tweaking than others. Also, by artificially adding a "rating system" to each puzzle, this seems to go the opposite of encouraging experimentation. I'd perhaps based the score on number of attempts vs. total time taken, but then I didn't design this game.

While the solution can be replayed, they are not "saved". Thus, there's no "record" of you breaking some records or such. However, at least you can relive your own glory... for the short while it lasts, then it's off to the next round.

Super Gadgets is a pretty fun puzzle game, but it doesn't really reward experimentation and off-the-cuff solutions. As such, it can only earn average marks, but that's not too bad in this market.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Mobile Game Review of "Fish On!" by Skyzone

This game doesn't seem to get wide circulation... No reference of it can be found on the Internet except on Verizon's own webpage! It's not even on Skyzone's website! But any way, here's a review of it.

Fish On! is a casual game that tries to give you a variety of challenges, but ends up being forced, unnatural and simply... silly.

You are Sven, master fisherman, and you are somehow... descended from the Barracuda (!). You must demonstrate your worth by completing variety of quests regarding fish, and defeat various bosses in order to reclaim your true destiny. :P (No, I did not make that up)

So what do you do? You basically use the 5 key to hit bubbles or fish, without getting in in return, by moving up and down, without running out of air, while hitting enough fish of the proper sizes. Then when you get to the boss fight, you switch into Dance Dance Revolution mode (yep, a series of up/down/left/right arrows you need to hit in proper timing). Each proper do is a "hit", otherwise a miss. You alternate between offense and defense. If you got "hit", you use up a bit of air. If you use up all the air, this fight's over.

As you beat more bosses, you get more "equipment", but the basic gameplay remains the same: hit others, avoid being hit, beat bosses. So it's basically the same game... over and over, and the switching to DDR rhythm game is dumb. All in all, casual game that's not really fishing.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Mobile Game Review of "Prince of Persia Classic" by Gameloft

Somehow I had previously listed it as "reviewed", but now I can't find it. So here it is reviewed, really, this time.

Progress Report, and a little rant about mobile gaming

I'm trying to catch up on my reviews, and at least I got through some of the backlog, so I only have like six or so games to review. However, I'll have to add another two now:

Yie Ar Kung-Fu -- old arcade classic makes a retro attack onto mobiles, and this is a FULL retro version with all 11 enemies, and every single possible move available.

Brothers in Arms: Art of War -- Gameloft tries again with Brothers in Arms franchise, and went off into the Wild Blue Yonder... again. (I really hate it when a game publisher went lazy make a boss that's impossible given the game context)

Seems like mobile game market will get hotter, but not all publishers actually UNDERSTAND the mobile game market. Publishers, take note:

  • Mobile gamers want ability to save ANYWHERE, so they can come back to it later.

    At least make your game "pause friendly", so that a gamer can pick it up minutes, hours, or even days later. A single savegame is fine, but rather... annoying. Two or more savegames would be better.

  • Mobile gamers want a level or a game that lasts just a few minutes, so they can have some distraction during waiting or such.

    Games that go on infinitely, such as Tetris, actually are NOT great mobile games, unless you add pause support and other "resume" abilities, but that'd actually make the game simpler as you get more time to study the level...

  • Mobile gamers want games that show some innovation, not merely different control scheme or new set of sprites or such.

    Thus, adding SOME 3D to a 2D title is really dumb, when the rest of gameplay isn't there. Metal Slug 3 Mobile got a 3D version... The choppers are 3D, and that end "saucer" is 3D, but everything else... is still 2D. What's worse, someone forgot to check the sizes... The saucer was flying THROUGH the train. Now it's MORE than stupid.

  • Mobile gamers want good responsive controls that works within confines of phone keypad. Thus, having MORE controls than the basics is BAD.

    Worst offender? Ridge Racer for mobile phone. They tried to give you 4 different control configs, but none of them work well, as a phone keypad just isn't up to the task of driving AND shifting gears.

  • Mobile gamers want GOOD graphics, or at least good-looking graphics, or failing that, CLEAR and READABLE graphics.

    Sometimes, the developers forgot that they've developing for a cellphone, and designed their art a wee bit TOO SMALL. Saint's Row Mobile is the worst offender here... Take a look at these images. Can you spot "your man" in the first pic? (Hint: he's in the center, wearing light-green)

And here's just a personal pet peeve of mine... It's fine if you make the final boss a really big, bad, and nasty entity, but don't make him absolutely impossible within the context of the game. Gameloft have a tendency to do this with a LOT of their games, as if they're trying to pull from the same design documents.

  • Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 Mobile -- you end up fighting ALONE against an enemy MECH (yes, I said MECH, 2 legs, jumps (don't let it land on you!), fires heavy machine gun and GUIDED missiles). What do I have? My assault rifle and some grenades. Whoopee. :P Oh, and one fixed heavy machine gun.

  • Brothers in Arms : Art of War -- you end up alone, fighting a Nazi General who's flying a Me-262 with machine guns and guided missiles. However, you're on a platform that is moving like 200 MPH, so the jet can kinda "hover" near you to shoot you. However, you at least have a bazooka this time, though the jet can "buzz" you and try to knock you off the platform, but you somehow can hold on and climb back on...

Enough ranting. Reviews coming soon, stay tuned.

Come to think of it, did I ever review TradeWinds 2? Guess not.

Tradewinds 2 -- updated version of "Taipan" set in Caribean, 3 different starts, randomly generated availability of ports and openings, every play will be different.

P.S. I thought I had previously reviewed Prince of Persia classic. Turns out I haven't, so the review is up on IGN.

Mobiel Game Review of "Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus -- Lost Episode" is up on IGN

Yes, that's the longest title ever for a mobile phone game, and the review is up on IGN.

Mobile Game Review of "Turok (Mobile)" is up at IGN

You can read my review for Turok (Mobile) on IGN. It's so retro, it needs geriatric help.

Mobile Game Review of "Imprisoned!" by MinorAxis

MinorAxis has done the impossible... Squash a FULL adventure/RPG down into a cellphone, including a pretty innovative real-time combat system. It is isometric, but so what? It really IS a huge game for you to explore, and a LOT of items to craft and use.

You play a mute, who was framed for a murder he did not commit, and sentenced to die. Except, you did not. You are instead enlisted in this game... where prisoners hunt prisoners... and there can be only one survivor. However... you're surprised to find that the game was organized by the one person who framed you... Are you able to discover mysteries of this island, take your revenge, and escape?

The game basically has two modes: the exploration mode, and the fight mode. The island has a LOT of squares, and every square (about 10 meters to a side) is mapped out, which squares leads where, and so on. As you explore your map will be filled in. And there's even the nearby ocean to explore... if you do manage to find and refuel the boat.

The game features "synthesis", basically crafting, but with a twist. Some synthesis requires certain rating of some of the 5 parts of your body (head, torso, arms, legs, feet). The only way you raise those ratings is by getting enough XP from combat to "gain level", and each level gives you a couple points to distribute. So yes, this is DEFINITELY a RPG.

Synthesis requires you to gather the proper ingredients. The catch is, some of the ingredients may require synthesis themselves. And obviously there's a lot of uses for some items, and the supply of items on the island is NOT unlimited.

As you explore the island, you will come across various items, rusty knife, piece of hardwood, and so on. As you discover synthesis manuals, you'll learn how to combine them into various other items, from the useful (fruit shear, great for cutting fruit from tall trees) to the deadly (guns, knives, and other weapons). Even various food items can be combined for greater effectiveness (baguette plus fruit = fruit sandwich, heals 100 health, instead of just 15 if you eat them separately)

Combat is an interesting real-time / phased combat that doesn't bother with keeping action points and that sort of stuff, but still incorporates a lot of tactical decisions, what weapons to use, and so on. Different weapons have different "range" or "arc" and it is possible to dodge hits by stepping back. There are at least eight types of weapons: bows/arrows, guns, spears, knives, and many more. Combat itself can get pretty involved, esp. when you need arrows or bullets.

Rest / fatigue plays a major part in this game. You can ward off fatigue by drinking water, soda, or even tea, or by resting. If you reach max fatigue, you won't be able to search through a square any more for items. However, the longer you rest, the more likely a roaming enemy will run into you, and that you may not want.

Unlike most mobile games, this can easily take you several dozen hours to finish all the way (escape from the island). And you CAN replay by specializing in some other weapons or such if you choose to.

All in all, Imprisoned! is an Korean import action RPG that has some of the longest gameplay I've ever seen in a game. If this was a PC game, it's be selling for $20, but you can get it for your phone for about $5. That, to me, is a bargain indeed.

Mobile Game Review of "3D Metal Slug 3 Mobile" from iPlay

This game comes in 2 versions... the normal version, and the "3D" version. The difference is minimal... some of the flying enemies are rendered in 3D instead of normal 2D. Other than that, there really is no difference between the two versions. In fact, iPlay only lists the regular version. Strange, heh? But there's really a 3D version, and I've played it on Verizon LG VX8300.

Any way, Metal Slug is your normal "run and gun" type of game, similar to Contra. Except you can perform melee attacks. Other than those, the game is pretty much your typical 2D shooter, except the jumps are very difficult to pull off, and you need to jump up in order to rescue some of the prisoners higher up.

The story is hokey enough... you're the commando who must rescue fellow soldiers from an zombie invasion. Quirky enemies indeed. Controls are worse. You really need a twin analog stick to simultaneous point and shoot in different directions... impossible to do so on a cell phone. So the game changes instead of shoot at only 4 directions, but you can't move AND shoot (i.e. no strafing). Instead, you hold down AND fire, and the character will shoot directly below. Up and fire, and he shoots above. Else, he shoots side to side. Makes shooting flying enemies almost impossible unless directly overhead.

And you will DIE A LOT. You have limited grenades, but the enemy doesn't seem to be so limited. So you end up dodging here, there, fighting twitchy controls and dodging shots, while trying to maneuver into a place where you CAN shoot the enemy. This distracts from the fun. Did I mention some of the flying enemies are 3D? They fly "in and out" of the game plain (small and bigger based on perspective), and one of them is end level boss (for one of the later levels).

All in all, quirky controls, hokey enemies, and not that big of an improvement from what's available... Unless you're a Metal Slug series diehard, I'd say give this one a pass.

Rating is 6 out of 10 : nothing special here

Argh! I'm stupid today

I had a review of FF7:Dirge of Cerberus -- Lost Episode all typed up when I accidentally hit BACK, and erased it off my browser. :P Now I have to re-review it. 4000 chars of work lost. :P

Add a few games to the review pipeline...

Transformers 3D -- movie tie-in, really a 2D platform game with a 3D look, pretty boring, as the guns do very little damage, and Prime

Battlestar Galactica -- another tie-in, turns Viper flying into space invaders (and yes, Cylons are swooping in...). You can customize the Viper, by earning credits... Yawn.

Dead or No Deal -- popular game show, but with a twist... this time you can play as the banker! Two ways to play the same game. How well can do you?

Puzzle Quest: Warlords -- Warlords makes it to mobile, with a twist... you fight monsters by playing Bejeweled (well, close enough) and score combos. Score a combo and that "mana color" goes into your mana reserves. Use mana to cast spells, or use the "skulls" on map to do direct damage. Reduce the other guy's HP to 0 and you win (if he does it to you first you lose). Simple, right? Not quite...

Mobile Game Review: The Sims 2

Mobile Game Review of EA's The Sims 2 is up on IGN.