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 "Worms 2008: A Space Oddity"

I personally don't quite "dig" the Worms series, mainly because it takes a LOT of practice to use the weapons to optimum effect, by learning the wind and how it affects EACH weapon. There's a LOT of learning curve, and the lack of help on the weapon effects doesn't make the game any easier. Thus, this game is the first to include a NEGATIVE adjustment.

For those of you who have played the Worms series, this game is really MOTS: more of the same. Worms series basically has 2 (or more) teams of worms tossing odd weapons at each other. Weapons range from normal "rockets" with impact fuse to timed grenades to det packs, even blasters. No direct-fire weapons, however, except astro-fist. There's also the teleporter, the UFO (rains a row of bombs), the dropship (a UFO drops out of the sky and smashes anything beneath), and a few others. They are all space-themed, but they aren't that different from previous weapons. At least the total is reduced to just over twenty instead of way too many.

The terrain are as colorful as always... Always a Worms trademark... randomly generated, yet always challenging. And yes, they get space-themed as well. And there are random new weapons falling from the sky too. In Quick games, there are first-aid packs as well.

In single-player, there is the quick-game, the campaign, the mini-games, and the custom games. Quick-Game is basically a randomly generated 4-vs-4 battle with mines and first-aid kits and random boxes. Campaign has you fighting through several planets in order to defeat an alien worm invasion of Earth, with different branches available. Minigames has you playing Lunar Lander (tm), Space Invaders (tm), and Defender (tm), Worms-style. And custom game... lets you set up a game the way YOU like it.

There is multiplayer, but it wasn't tested due to lack of a gaming partner.

I found myself winning after a bit of practice, but mainly by using weapons that are almost independent of the wind, such as UFO, dropship, or astro-punch, and rely only on shots that are nearly impossible to miss. I have no problem beating the campaign now, but it's not something I'd want to play again and again. The minigames are cute, but not THAT cute.

I did mention before, but I'll repeat. There are no explanation on the effects of the weapons. Some are obvious. Others, like "robosheep", are confounding (it bounces like heck). Thus, while the game itself is fun, I'll have to administer a negative modifier for the extreme lack of help.

All in all, Worms 2008 is MOTS: more of the same. They did trim away a lot of the excess, and tightened up the gameplay, and even the AI follows the 60-second turn clock nowadays. It is a competent sequel, but nothing really new.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (includes -0.5 modifier for lack of documentation)
Pros: same irreverant Worms style gameplay, big explosions and worms going ouch
Cons: severe lack of documentation makes the game very hard to learn, nothing new
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More Mobile Game Previews!

Worms: A Space OddityImage via WikipediaWorms 2008: A Space Oddity -- 2008 version of of Worms franchise takes the Worms into space... But it is a good thing? I don't know. The weapons are unexplained, the plot... what plot? The campaign with "branches" are okay... And the gameplay... is the same. If they put in a tutorial level that explains all the weapons, it'd gotten a higher score. Prelim score... 6.5 out of 10.

Ice Age Mayhem -- The Ice Age trio must cooperate and save all the elephant younglings stranded out in the wilderness and ice field before the flood reaches the area. Mannie the Mammoth can push some boulders and pull other boulders, and can help Diego jump between wider gaps. Diego can run through swamp and jump between islands, and break crystal walls. Sid the sloth can start fires to melt some walls. Combine their talents and rescue all younglings before the flood arrives. Prelim score... 7 out of 10.

Toy Story Mania -- based on the latest ride at Disney... you play minigames with each of the main characters, score points and tickets, and trade in the tickets for "souvenirs". You have to play A LOT, and I mean a LOT... to unlock everything... The games are mainly single-button reflex-based games, though some require a little more planning. Still, there really isn't much game here. Prelim score... 5.5 out of 10.

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Mobile Game Review of "The Mummy 3: TOTDE"

GameloftImage via WikipediaYep, the official movie game from Gameloft is out before the movie itself. How does it fare? Okay, but nothing to special.

You can pretty much guess the plot already... Young adventurer, descendant of the famous Mummy-defeating couple, is out to make a name for himself... And he went to China to dig up an ancient tomb... Well, and get into trouble with the Chinese Army and the other nasty traps. In a way, this game feels like an odd mix of Die Hard 4 (the mobile game) and Assassin's Creed (the mobile game), both of which was also by Gameloft. They are based on the same 2D engine, and the sprites are big and nicely animated.

Without spoiling the plot, I'll just say that the game follows the plot fairly closely, but adding its own moments and expanding others when needed to make a game. And the end boss fight is HARD, but that's expected, right?

There really isn't much more about the game that is worth mentioning, but it does include several innovations. The "free-aim" mode gives you free aim instead of can only shoot left or right. You need this on the "counter-sniper" level, and to shoot scorpion nests at your feet while exploring. It can also reveal bonus treasures. However, it is somewhat similar in concept to Kane And Lynch Mobile, so it ain't "new" new. As an Indy wanna-be, the main character will be swinging, running, climbing, jumping, and even doing some Asassin's Creed-style "spread-eagle hover" between two buildings.

Occasionally, the game makes you play "Pipe Dream" (tm) as you need to guide water from source to destination within a time limit.

The driving level seems to be ripped right out of Die Hard 4 mobile except you drive a big truck, not McClane's squad car.

All in all, this game rates a 7. It is competent, but not THAT good, as it doesn't really offer anything seriously memorable.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Got all the points covered, some puzzles to solve
Cons: Recycled game elements and game engine, nothing special

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Mobile Game Review of "Mercenaries 2"

No subtitle in the mobile version! Apparently this mobile game is set AFTER the console version. Cervera rose to power after you help bring down Solano, but Cervera really hates Mattias... So... You play Mattias "Matty" and play 11 missions for various factions, and in the end, take care of Cervera personally.

The game itself is a 2D shooter that is very reminiscent of MOH:Airborne mobile or COD4 mobile where you play one soldier that fights alone with blazing firepower (i.e. play Rambo [tm]). There are several factors that makes the game user-friendly... Your health regenerates as long as nobody is near you and no crosshair is aiming at you. Also, your gun doesn't run out of ammo. If you finish one magazine, wait a second or two and it'll be reloaded. So the only reason to pick up a weapon is to get a new weapon, or to top-off the existing magazine to make the burst last longer. Also, you aim automatically at the nearest enemy, so you CAN move in one direction and shoot in another.

Otherwise, the game works like a typical 2D shooter... Move around the level, kill enemies, accomplish "objectives", usually by killing everybody, but it can be rescue (find key, grab key, walk to door with key), and more. However, there are a LOT of bonus stuff in this game. For example, you can blow up almost any house in this game... if you have enough grenades and/or rockets. And blowing up houses sometimes, reveal hidden bonuses, such as "laptops" you can collect for bonus. Other destructable items include statues of the dictator, ammo boxes (large and small), and vehicles.

There are four types of guns... the AK, the M-4, and the shotgun. The AK has good accuracy, but doesn't reach very far, reloads slowly, and only 4 bursts before stopping for more mags.

The M-4 was considered a "toy" when it was first released, mainly because it's "too light", and Mattell made a plastic replica of it, so a lot of people thought the actual gun was made of plastic as well. Nothing can be further from the truth. In the game, M-4 firs longer bursts, and allows the shots to spread a little.

Shotgun is excellent weapon when close in, but not good elsewhere.

There are also rocket launchers and grenades and sniper rifles to engage yet more enemies.

Enemy snipers that are in range will move a crosshair in your view. When it locks onto you, you better move quickly or else lose the health and then be forced to start over! Otherwise, nothing too special with the game.

Overall, the game is fun, but not that special to me. Call it a 7 out of 10.

Rating: 7 out of 10.0
Pros: simple interface, easy to pick up, lots of "destruction"
Cons: a bit TOO easy, not that challenging and very short

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Mobile Game Review of "Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D"

This new 3D version of Crash Kart Racing is a significant improvement over the previous Crash Kart Racing, with much superior graphics, several alternative game modes, and still the crazy racing, this title may actually deserve your dollars.

There are four ways to play this game: cup mode, quick race, story mode, and time trial.

Cup mode is the "meat and bones" of the game. There are 12 courses in the game, divided into 3 cups of 4 courses each. Initially only first cup is available. Subsequent cups is unlocked by finishing in the top 3 for the current cup.

Quick race random choose one of the courses you've unlocked through Cup mode and lets you play against full set of opponents.

Story mode lets you play some "mission based" racing. For example, in the first mission, you have to make sure that Nitrous Oxide does NOT win. That's much harder than you think, as it basically means getting in between Nitrous Oxide and Nena the Panda and use weapons on Nitrous Oxide to delay him and keep him behind you, while you stay in front of Oxide to absorb HIS weapons. In the next mission you need to collect more whumpas than Nitrous Oxide. Each "mission" provides a different challenge.

Finally, time trial just let you race the course(s) available with NO opponents, no bonus crates, no weapons. However, the road hazards like "holes in the road", "crushers", and more are stil there. The objective is to finish in the least amount of time possible. Top times are recorded in "best times".

The graphics are excellent and full 3D, with plenty of scenary and action items on and off the course. Boost pads are of course all over the place. And plotting your way from one to the next can seriously cut your lap times. Courses contain plenty of hazards without the ones left by the players. If you don't hit the boost pads right on the big jumps, you may not make the jump or you miss the landing zone. If you forgot to "hop" you'll get fried by laser beam or fall into "potholes". Crushers will flatten you into a skateboard, and there are plenty of weapons to go around as well.

There are plenty of things to "collect" on the course during the race. Whumpas are worth bonus points. Plenty of random crates around to give you a random item, from shields to missiles, from voodoo mask to oil slick, some defensive, some offensive. All have multiple uses in multiple situations. You can also collect "letters" that spell "CRASH", which, if completed will unlock additional player characters (initially, only Crash, and Dr. Cortex are available).

Controls are responsive, and different vehicles behave a little differently. You can do regular turn AND drift turns. Keys can even be remapped if you don't like the default stuff. Music gets a bit tiresome, and sound effect ain't the greatest, but at least they are appropriate.

All in all, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart Racing 3D is one of the better mobile racing games to come along, with multiple modes of play, and should stay on your phone for a long time.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Pros: lots of fun courses, lots of things to do, frantic racing
Cons: course can be a bit TOO tough, story mode missions too much
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More Mobile Game Previews!

Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D -- yep, this game is available on the phones now. It's got a "story mode" in addition to the race cups and time trials. And its speed is pretty good too... And it really is 3D this time. Prelim rating: 8 out of 10.

Mercenaries 2 -- the console shooter that lets you destroy just about EVERYTHING comes to the mobile phones... ahead of the console version's release! You are playing Mattias, and after defeating Solano, Cervera comes to power, and he wants Mattias DEAD. You will be taking down Cervera once and for all. Plays like "Brothers in Arms Mobile" or "Medal of Honor Airborne". Prelim rating: 7 out of 10.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor -- yep, the official game from Gameloft is here ahead of the movie. And yes, it follows the young adventurer trying to open an ancient Chinese tomb... and fight PLA soldiers in addition to the terracotta warriors and all that... And yes, against Jet Li at the end. Prelim rating: 7 out of 10.
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Mobile Game Review of "3D Tower Bloxx"

A city layout with a very high population pote...Image via Wikipedia3D Tower Bloxx is latest iteration of the Tower Bloxx series. Tower Bloxx was mainly two parts... You stack "bloxx" to create a skyscraper, then you plant the skyscraper in accordance to certain restrictions to maximize the building capacity. Is it fun? Hmmm... Not after a while. Taken in small doses, it's okay, but if you play it a lot you get bored of it very quickly.

The 3D version adds 3D graphics but otherwise is pretty much same as previous versions. However, the 3D version is the one being graded here.

There are four types of towers, red, blue, green, and yellow, in order of capacity from low to high. The red ones can go anywhere, a blue must go next to a red, a green must go next to a blue AND a red, and a yellow much be next to red, green, AND blue. Thus, placement is very important.

Stacking the bloxx makes up the buildings. The more precisely you stack the bloxx's, the more residents you can fit. The bloxx just swing, and you have to drop it. The higher the bloxx stack, the more the tower itself swings. So it's all a matter of eye-finger coordination.

3D version added a pure building mode, 'achievements', and some alternate game modes. However, they don't really add much to the game. The game is so simple, there isn't much else left to learn, and if you play it a lot you'll just get more frustrated. This game should be taken in small doses, and small doses only.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Pros: simple to pickup, charming in a way
Cons: perhaps TOO simple, action portion is one-button game

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Mobile Game Review of "ESPN Bassmaster Elite"

Spotted Bass From The Coosa River, Wetumpka, A...Image via WikipediaESPN covers all sorts of sports, and sportsfishing is one of them. This EA game lets you be one of the master bass fisher and join a single day fishing, or do a full 3-lake (3 days at each lake) tournament. Well... is it fun? Hmmm... Yes, surprisingly.

Basically, this is a full fishing sim shrank into a phone app. You have like a dozen different lures (some are good for shallow, others are good for deeper waters, some are weed-proof, others are not). You have choices of 4 different rods rating for different weights, different speed and catch ratings. You can choose to fish at one of the three lakes available, each of which has several fishing spots. All are annotated so that you know what lure to use for each spot. Each lake has what's known as a "lunker" or a super-large fish, that you can catch at specific times each day. If you can nab that to your catch, it'll be a HUGE boost to your total.

In Bassmaster series, only to top five fish you caught (by weight) are counted and placed in the live tank. The day starts early at 7:30 AM, and lasts until 3PM, in 15 minute turns. Each turn you cast once, or change rods/lures, or change fishing spot. Thus, you can catch a LOT of smaller fish, but that won't help you in your total, as only the top 5 is counted. And the larger fish tend to hide deeper.

The fishing itself is divided into 3 parts: the cast, the fight, and the retrieve.

Cast basically means choosing where to cast your lure. At each fishing spot, you can cast your lure into a number of places. Choose and spot and go. However, you should consult the fishfinder screen to see how much fish are there at shallow vs. deep depths, and perhaps change your lure (though it takes a full 15 minute turn to do so). You can then spot fish shadows in the water. Casting to spot at or near the fish shadow increases the chance of a strike. Once the fish struck, there's tension on the line. Hit OK when tension goes from red to yellow or green to start the "fight". The larger the fish, the harder "jerk" you'll feel. However, if your rod's too strong (i.e. rated for too big of a fish) you won't "feel" the smaller fish (which may be what you want!) and thus wasted a turn.

Fight is basically keep the fish in the catch circle by using the cursor keys, until the "catch meter" fills up. If the fish gets outside the circle, catch meter drops. If catch meter reaches zero, fish has gotten loose. If it fills up, then you go to 'retrieve' phase. You can also 'jerk' the line, which adds a little to the 'catch meter', but also shrinks the circle (which will grow back after a while). The fish can suddenly change directions, and you need fast reactions to keep it fighting. If you let it get near the surface, it can start jumping, you then need to play "match the sequence" with cursor keys to keep the line from breaking. The larger the fish, the harder it fights with sudden changes in direction, rapid movement, diagonal movement, and so on. It can get exciting, esp. on the lunkers (big fish!) as you fight for extended periods, as it jumps several times. And you really feel the loss if the fish breaks the line and swims away.

Retrieve is basically "match the sequence" with cursor keys. The larger the fish, the longer the sequence. You have a time limit, so you have to be quick, or else the fish will be gone. Mistakes cost you time, as expected. Small fish have maybe 3 keys, while super-large fish can have like eight to ten keys.

With a little practice, you should have no problem bringing in the big fish. I've played only a day and I was already beating everybody in the tournament by 10 pounds (more than one fish's weight, as average fish is like 5-6 pounds). Once I even caught a 14 lb giant bass. Too bad there isn't a "trophy room". But there is a record room for each lake, that records both best tournament total and quick game total.

All in all, bass fishing game is surprisingly fun, if a little repetitive, but when you manage to catch that "lunker" that everybody was talking about, you really feel that you've accomplished something. I don't fish, but with this game, I think I can actually feel a bit of what those fishermen out there are feeling, and I guess, that's the best compliment that a game can get...

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (yes, that high)
Pros: feels like fishing! surprisingly fun!
Cons: a bit too easy? Beats tournament left and right

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Mobile Game Review of "Dress to Impress"

AMA's Dress to Impress isn't really a "game", but more of a wardrobe / fashion sim, with a couple minigames thrown in. It is aimed at girls, and it is a bit hard for me to rate as a guy.

The main game: you need to help a girl get dressed for four photo shoots in different locales (mall, party, dinner, school), and two guys will rate your effort. The better you do in each phase, the more "fashion cash" you earn, and the more "cash" you have available for "shopping" for the wardrobe for the next shoot. You also get to play minigames between shoots which will add a few more fashion cash.

Minigames are basically "move the pieces around to assemble a picture" puzzles, a very simple "shooting gallery", and a "fashion sense quiz". Oh, and there's a "try anything" sandbox mode as well.

And really, there's not much more into this game, if you can call it that.

Visuals are quite good, the different outfits and such go together. Too bad there isn't a 'zoom' function for close-ups, and the various outfit pieces aren't labeled. Music... Forget about it.

All in all, Dress to Impress... isn't much of a game, but it is definitely different. For that, it gets a +1 bonus.

Rating: 7.0 / 10 (includes +1 bonus)
Pros: Interesting subject matter, play dress-up
Cons: Aimed at women gamers, and that's about it
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Mobile Game Review of "Big City Stickball"

Big City Stickball is basically a baseball sim with just the pitching and batting. There's this backstory about how the gangs have taken over the various turfs and you need to reunite the neighborhoods, but it's mostly an excuse for you to play against the various gang "leaders".

This stickball sim is extensively modeled. There are multiple locations, and different locations have different rules, such as bonus items. Hitting that building is 3 runs, that dumpster is 2 runs, and that billboard up high is 4 runs. Some other location can be something else.

As the visiting team, you bat first, and your goal is to score as many runs as possible before being "struck out". You don't actually run the bases. Your hitting will be judged for runs scored. After you struck out, you then pitch against the pitcher you just batted against. You need to strike him out before he beats your score.

The game is nicely modelled. You can move your batter a bit, swing when ready, and there's even a "power bar" that you charge up by making hits. The power bar can make the difference between fly ball and home run, so don't discount it. For the pitchers, there's the aim meter (right down center for fastball, or a bit out for curves?) and they have a powermeter as well for super-fast balls.

If you make a good hit, you get a replay of the balls trajectory, from the moment it left pitcher's hand, all the way to where it finally came to rest, including every bounce and hop. It's definitely interesting. Too bad the back story isn't quite up there for the twists and turns.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Stickball is fresh, and easy enough to play
Cons: Hard to master the advanced moves, gang story not fun
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More Mobile Game Previews!

ESPN wordmark.Image via WikipediaDress to Impress -- yes, it's a girl game. Dress up one of three girls (a white blonde, a Asian, or a dark-skinned beauty) for four different occasions, and see how the guys rate you. Better your score, the more "fashion cash" you get to spend on the wardrobe. Play some minigames between shoots, like puzzles, shooters, and so on, plus fashion sense quiz, and more. prelim rating 7.0/10.

ESPN Bassmaster Elite (EA)-- yes, ESPN does have a bass fishing tournament, and you can play along by doing simple things... Cash the right lure into right spots and keep it hooked... be fast enough so the fish don't break the line... And see how well you do over the tournament over 3 days. Win three tournaments and you win the championship. Easier said than done, of course. Just how BIG of a fish CAN you catch? Prelim rating 7.5/10

3D Tower Bloxx Deluxe (Digital Chocolate) -- another "casual game" from DC, this game is actually an update of the previous "Tower Bloxx". It basically has you stacking bloxx (sic) after bloxx to create a skyscraper. Make 3 mistakes and you're building is over! How high CAN you go? There's also "city builder mode" and "timed mode" if you think the normal game is not much of a challenge. Prelim rating 6.5/10.
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Mobile Game Review of "Journey to the Center of the Earth"

Yet another remake of an old movie, or should we say... reimagining? The big-screen version is kinda campy fun for kids, but the game... well, let's just say it is lousy.

The game follows the plot of the movie, but turned some sequences into gameplay sequences. There are basically four minigames: rappel, vehicle, dodge-the-dino, and hop. Vehicle was reused twice with slight variations. Everything else was used only once.

Rappel: while rappelling down this huge lava tube, you need to dodge left and right, or "hop" to avoid hitting the rocks (that look like SHELVES) while avoiding falling rocks. There's really no need to move left and right other than to avoid rocks. Just "hop" periodically and there's nothing else to do. You have 5 lives, hit anything and you lose one.

Vehicle: you control a mine-cart, a mine-train, or the raft, and you need to negotiate each corner at the optimum speed... By pressing the required key at the right time, but NOT ahead of time. It's basically a SUPER-SLOW version of Dance-Dance-Revolution. Every mistake you make, you slow down. If you miss too many, you won't be able to make jumps over chasms and such. Fortunately, making the right choice speeds you up (!). Id you die you have to play the whole level ALL OVER.

Dodge-the-dino: well, there has to be a dino chasing scene... Since that was in the movie. In the game, you are at the bottom of the screen, and you see this huge dino head just behind you. Your objective is to jump over or run around obstacles. If you hit an obstacle you lose a life. Lose all lives and it's time to restart the level.

Hop: worst game of the bunch. You basically can jump straight ahead, left, or right. Don't hesitate as it means you won't reach the next rock. Aim for the wrong rock and it's too late (some rocks disintegrate as you land on it). Aim off and it's too late. You have 5 lives to make it all the way to the end. Argh!

Graphics are below normal to par, no likeness of the actors are used except in very generic terms. Music is annoying as heck, and there really isn't much game play at all. At the end, you are simply prompted to try again to beat the previous high-score. Why should I even bother?

Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Covers most of the exciting scenes in the movie
Cons: The movie is much more exciting than the game
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Mobile Game Review of "The Dark Knight Movie Game"

The Dark Knight grossed the largest revenue ever for superhero movie, as Batman battles Joker for Gotham city. Is the game any good? It's okay, but not much more.

Basicaly, you are following the movie's general plot... Batman is chasing down Liu, the moneyman for the mob, mainly by moving around this 2D level, punching and kicking goons (and blocking), often ambushing, and basically removing goons until you arrive at end of stage or the specified location. You can glide with your batwing, climb using your skyhook, and swing with your skyhook. And that's about it. Really.

The "coolest" move in the game is revealed about midgame. You can use the Batarang to blow out the light over the door, then you can move to the door and hide in the door. If a goon comes to the door, you'll come out and do an insta-kill.

Different goons are armed differently. Some are good in defense and you have to let them hit you (but you blocked), then they go into "fear" stance, then you can beat them up. Others can be taken down straight, yet others require yet other combinations. Still, the best way is to come up BEHIND the goon, then you get to perform insta-kill again. You can do this by going to higher level and glide in behind them, or approach from below, then skyhook up behind them.

The levels are fun, but not well 'guided' as you aren't always sure which way to go. Esp. on the levels where you must find the bombs or gas canisters. One of the levels had me exploring left and right and up and down, and only found the exit by accident.

Joker is pretty much the only "boss", and you get to fight him TWICE... at least not one right after the other.

The graphics are decent, but nothing outstanding. The extra screen real-estate on the LG VX9900 enV was well used, as the levels look okay in general. It's combat that can wear you down as you try different combinations of attacks and blocks that will actually damage your opponent.

All in all, the game is okay, competent, but not much more. It feels Batman-ish, but not enough, and you don't get to play with any of the Batman's famous vehicles such as the Batcycle and Batmobile. Argh!

Rating: 7.0 out of 10
Pros: Game feels Batman-ish, follows movie
Cons: Not enough Bat-toys to play with, feels more "Gotham Street of Rage" than Batman

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More Mobile Game Previews!

The Dark Knight -- the movie tie-in game is a 2D platformer, with Batman battling various henchmen using martial arts, a bit of jumping and flying around, and finally, get Joker. Not too bad, but a bit short. Feels Batman-ism, except the combat. Prelim rating is 7/10.

Journey to the Center of the Earth -- another remake of an old movie, with Brandon Frasier, means another ridiculous game. This one is really sorry, as you're forced to perform sequences that means exact timing, rote memorization, or death. Skip this game. Prelim rating is 4/10.

Big City Stickball -- street baseball, with no base running, just targets, bonuses, and hitting. You need to beat 4 different teams to be the best in the city. Each zone is harder than the next. How good are your stickball skills? prelim rating 6.5/10

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Mobile Game Review of "Emoticons"

Emoticons is yet ANOTHER variation on connect-3, which powers Bejeweled, PuzzleQuest, and more. Unfortunately, this one ain't as cute as PuzzleQuest, and thus, only rates a 6: competent, and nothing much else.

Frankly, I'm tried of connect-3 variations that has little else to offer. PuzzleQuest has a lot of stuff, and this does, enough said. The fun part here is the pieces are all emoticons, you know, :-) (smiley), :-D (LOL, or Lollie), and so on. Except they are drawn into cute Pac-man like icons that resembles something you'd download. And you connect and move THEM around to make 3 or more chains and score points for doing so. You can even link up "similar colors" (what are similar wasn't explained though).

There was supposed to be four modes: normal (untimed), timed, challenge (timer can be recharged by removing chains), and puzzle (no new pieces, but you must remove all pieces). However, they all look alike, sound alike, and play alike, so that you don't really feel any differently.

Sound is repetative, though lively, and music is forgettable.

All in all, Emoticons is an also-run that seems to appeal to kids rather than older gamers. You'll get MUCH more gameplay out of PuzzleQuest than this game.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: it is easy to pick up and get into
Cons: been there, done that, got the scars
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Mobile Game Review of "Uno (mobile)"

en: The game of UNO.Image via WikipediaTo be completely honest, I've never played Uno when I was a kid. However, I can see the attraction of this fast-paced game with simple but varies strategies, and a LOT of chance involved. The mobile version gives you all that, plus 3 AI opponents (sorry, not tunable), and a bunch of optional rules.

So what is Uno? It's a game that involves getting RID of your hand by following the card that's on the "ground". There are four colors, and the card you put down must match the card already on the ground in value or color, unless you choose to play a wild card. If you can't play any card, you must draw from the stack. There are special cards that can skip turn, reverse the normal flow, or even cause the next person to take 2 to 4 cards, with no chance to put some down. Once someone has only ONE card left, that person must declare "Uno". Once someone has gotten rid of all cards, a score is calculated based on what the other three players have left. You can choose to play a game up to 100, 200, or higher points.

There are no special variations other than the slightly different house rules. You can edit the various player's avatar and the card / card table backgrounds, but that's about it as far as customization goes. Sound effects are minimal, and music is forgettable.

Adaptations with minimal additional features, such as the Uno here, are competent, but nothing special, which means it rates a 7.0... solid, but unremarkable.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10
Pros: solid Uno port, special house rules, some customization, 3 pretty good AI
Cons: no special variants, AI strength not adjustable, too much chance
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Mobile Game Review of "Wordox"

Wordox was one of Sierra's "Hoyle Games", that Vivendi Universal (parent of Sierra) decided to tap it as one of their mobile games. Unfortunate, it has more knowledge of words than you do, so unless you happen to know a lot of words that are 6-letters or shorter, expect to get beaten by the AI all the time, unless you play the dumbest level. Thus this game really isn't that fun.

WARNING: Word Snatcher is the same game, despite somewhat different description. Got tricked and downloaded it AGAIN! :P

The game is similar to Scrabble (tm), but with a much smaller board. You get to start first against AI, and your first word must pass through center of the board. The longer your word, the more you score. However, if you can use the other player's letters to form your word, you can "steal" those letters from his side to your side, and thus, he will lose those points while you gain them. However, you only have six letters available (plus whatever's on the board). So don't expect to form long words. If you can't form a word within the time limit, the letters are passed to the AI. If neither side can form words with the 6 letters available, they are discarded and 6 new random letters are chosen. If you used up some letters, they are replaced, so there are always six letters available (can be repeated) basically both player take turns placing letters on the board to form words. There are pink and orange squares on the board. If you manage to place words on orange squares, you gain orange points. If you then place words on pink squares, you redeem your orange points into real scoring points. The object is to get to 25 points before the other player.

As mentioned before, the AI has access to a good dictionary, and you need a dictionary to play against it at the higher levels. AI knows tricks that you don't, like forming two words at once. Keep in mind that if you make a mistake and put in a word that's not recognized by the program, you'll lose the turn to the AI (at two of the three difficulty levels). This, when combined with the AI's dictionary knowledge, gives it a enormous advantage over you, the human player.

I personally don't like word puzzles, but I can see there's a market for this. Unfortunately, this game isn't as cute as Bookworm or other word puzzle games, and there really isn't too much to recommend this game over others, esp. with the AI that holds all the cards (letters?).

Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: you'll learn some words you didn't know are words
Cons: you'll be exclaiming "that's not a word!" over and over
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More Mobile Game Previews!

Wordox (Vivendi Mobile) -- a game similar to Scrabble (tm) but with a few twists... See rules here. Play against 3 levels of AI for some fast-paced word fun. Beware that the AI does have an advantage on you as it knows far more short words than you do.

UNO (Oasys Mobile) -- the classic fast-paced card game goes mobile! Play against 3 AI players and setup your own variation of house rules if need be (or leave it all alone for the classic game) and see who really goes UNO! Good adaptation, but nothing really special here, except ability to slightly customize your avatar.

Emoticons (Konami Mobile) -- it's another connect-3 game, this time with the various emotions as the pieces, like LOLlie :-D, Smiley :-), and so on. There are four modes: classic (untimed), timed, challenge (timer can be recharged by completing sets), and puzzle (no new pieces will fall, but you must remove as many pieces as possible). There are also trophies and "MSG Log" which act as "achievements" for the game.
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Mobile Game Review of "The Oregon Trail"

My review of "The Oregon Trail" is up on IGN. Worth your money, as I give it an 8, same as IGN.

Mobile Game Review of "Afterworld: Global Contact"

Afterworld: Global Contact is supposed to be a new chapter in the Afterworld universe. While the Afterworld Universe is very interesting, the game itself, unfortunately, is anything but.

Afterworld is one of those indie production telling a compelling story of an everyman in extraordinary circumstances. After "The Fall", 99.9% of the Earth's population are simply... gone. There were no bodies. The survivors found themselves in a world of virtually NO technology... No electricity except batteries, no cars... And a lot of questions. What had happened? Why? What do we do now? The protagonist, Michael Shoemaker, was in New York on a business trip when the Fall hit. After finding a few survivors in New York, and learning how to survive, he set out to find out the cause... and to make it home to find his wife and daughter.

The game, however, deals with a separate protagonist altogether. You're supposedly some minor diplomat in New York. After "the fall", you need to survive the city, then make your way to other cities around the world, and perhaps, solve a few problems along the way. The short description make the game sounds like a RPG. However, the actual game play is like an action puzzle. Basically, you move around, pushing crates to block enemies, don't let enemy touch you or block you in, or shoot you. You need to pick up the various pieces of items before you can pick up the journal entry, and after you got that, you can go for the exit. However, there's almost always complications. Often, getting all the pieces except the journal will trigger the EMP, which makes enemies that are formerly comatose come awake and ready to bash your head in. And you need to block them in before they come awake.

While the story and objectives sounds interesting, the actual gameplay is anything but. Most puzzles can be solved in maybe 2 attempts, as the AI is anything but intelligent. It's basically a matter of figuring out who to block first.

As the name suggests, Global Contact have you, the protagonist, help various factions around the world trying to put back together a global communications network using simple Morse code and transmitters, while defeating the various militia, historians, and so on.

Frankly, I find the game to be a MAJOR disappointment, as it promises so much, that when I actually got into the game, it simply cannot deliver. I'd suggest you watch the video series instead. It's free, and saves you a couple bucks.

Overall: 5.5 out of 10
Pros: interesting puzzles at times, good story and universe
Cons: suggests RPG, delivers puzzle instead

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Mobile Game Review of "NASCAR '09" (EA Sports)

EA's NASCAR license is almost a license to publish money... Just update the game every year and add some new features. I reviewed the NASCAR '07 3D not too long ago, and gave it a 7.5. I'd expect this game to do at least just as well. Sadly, it ain't so. EA have introduced so many bugs and glitches, this game is a lot worse than the NASCAR '07 3D mobile. I would suggest you buy the old one, and ignore this new one, and I usually don't do stuff like this.

To describe the game is a little difficult... Let's just say that NASCAR '09, like NASCAR '07, is a "tactical car race sim". The objective, of course, is to reach the finish line first.

What's different from other racing sims is the AI will keep the car in the "lane". You decide which lane to be in (i.e. left or right) and what mode to go at: reckless (red), fast (yellow), or normal (green). Some corners can be taken faster at a certain lane than others. You can switch lanes to block other drivers from passing you, or you may want to line up behind someone to get "drafting". If you are drafting someone (shown by the draft-o-meter), you can go in a slower mode and still enjoy faster speed. You also consume fuel and tire at a lesser rate than when you're NOT drafting someone.

The fuel that you have is never enough, so you will have to pit. In fact, you have the option of playing 8 lap, 16 lap, 32 lap, or full 300 lap (!) races. You will pit a LOT. Pitting, in fact, is a major part of the strategy, You want to pit during yellow flag, and you want to make a FAST pitstop by doing as little as possible (change 2 tires instead of 4, just a splash of fuel instead of fill the tank, minimal instead of full repairs...). However, you need enough fuel to finish the race, you need enough tires so you can do the corners fast, and you need minimal / no body damage so you can go fast (aerodynamics). It's all decisions you have to make on the track as you race. That's why I call it "tactical racing sim".

Drafting, in fact, is so important, that it's the only way you'll really pass. When you fill the draft-o-meter, you gain a bit of a reserve speed. As you slide out from behind the other car, you have like a 3-5 second "turbo" period where you are suddenly doing 20+ MPH faster than your normal top speed. Use this sudden short burst of speed to pass other cars, but don't pass so many that you can't get back into drafting!

So what changed from '07 to '09? I am afraid it's a change for the worse. The game's framerate seems to have suffered. The sound effects are MUCH WORSE. The AI seems to cause a lot more collisions and you hear "crunch" sounds all the time. There's NO engine roar at all, not even when you pass someone or someone passes you. And what's worse, collision detection is horrendous. Twice I've seen this: slide the car behind someone going slow, and that car will back up ALL THE WAY THROUGH YOUR CAR, then work its way THROUGH YOUR CAR AGAIN, this time forward, thus doing major damage to both your front and rear. Also, the car's handling seems much twitchier. What used to be a safe corner to take at "fast" (yellow) with good tires must now be done in "normal" (green). There are also some severe graphical glitches. In some of the 3D rotations as you pan onto the car you control, the polygons don't clip correctly, and for a moment you thought you're looking at a Craftsman truck instead of NASCAR stock car.

The roster has been updated, but you get LESS info now. You no longer see which brand of car or sponsor the driver has, just his portrait, his number, and a TINY pic of his car / paint scheme.

You do get to play through a whole season instead of just "The Chase" for the driver's championship points, but that's not much of a compensation. Esp. with all the glitches and problem reported earlier.

All in all, I can only give this title a 6.5, which is a whole point LOWER than 7.5 I gave to NASCAR'07. It's bigger, later, but not better at all.

Overall: 6.5
Pros: updated roster, ability to play full season
Cons: much twitchier car, horrendous collision detection, major graphical glitches

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Oh, and a quick preview of Everest Extreme

Someone asked me if I saw the game Everest Extreme on Verizon V.CAST. I did, and I did try to download it to give it a spin. However, what I got was the DEMO, not the actual game, even though I did click for the subscription. The "Buy Now" choice didn't work either. Clearly Verizon have some problems to work out with GLU Mobile, the publisher.

The game "sounds" cool... Do "rock climbing" in 3D up a vertical cliff, then once you made it, do a base jump and land back at the starting spot. Sounds like combination of "climbing puzzle" and "parachutist" game they had on Nokia phones. However, there's nothing to review at this time, unless Glu or Verizon provides me with a working copy.
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Previews of some more mobile games

NASCAR 09 Mobile (EA Sports) -- how can a franchise go BACKWARDS? NASCAR 09 tries to be bigger and better, but ended up WORSE. Cars are LESS responsive, sound effects are WORSE (all the "crunch" sounds all the time), collision detection is MUCH worse (cars actually go THROUGH each other, I swear). They do seem to have more track, and they let you play the entire season instead of just "The chase". However, forget this turkey and stick with NASCAR 07 mobile. (See my review of NASCAR 07 earlier)

Afterworld: Global Contact -- sounds very cool, about the world after 99% of the humans disappeared and all high-energy devices went kaput, probably due to EMP or something. They call it "the Fall", and you are one of the survivors in one of the various cities around the world... But this is NOT a RPG. This is just the background for some relatively dumb action puzzles where you dodge AI pieces with dubious "AI". Sounds cool, plays dumb. Forget the game and watch the cool video chapters on Verizon VCAST video instead.

The Oregon Trail -- yes, the old classic makes its appearance on the mobile. In Easy mode, resting for a day or two can cure disease and mend broken bones. Else you can pay for medicine... if you have money. Earning money on the way is difficult and should be done at every opportunity... And every choice you make can affect the rest of the trip. Have fun!
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Mobile Game Review of "Sega Columns Deluxe"

Sega's Columns Deluxe is basically two Tetris (tm) derivatives that deals with falling stuff. Are they any good? Well, that depends how you like the genre. I personally are a bit burned out by the genre as there's a point where it's pointless to play when the pieces are falling so fast it's humanly impossible to play. Same here, IMHO.

Columns Deluxe is called "deluxe" because it actually contains two games... Columns, and Puyo Puyo. I'll describe them separately, as they even keep separate high score tables.

Columns drops a vertical slab of 3 blocks of various colors. You can rotate the "gems", but they stay vertical. To remove the stuff, you need to form chains of 4 as diagonals, horizontals or verticals. Every once in a while you get a "bonus chain" that has 3 capabilities depending on which block you allow to hit first: either erase the color it drops on, or erases rows sent over by enemy, or sends extra rows over to the enemy. There are two modes: the "endless" mode is the traditional single-player where you play until you "die" when the blocks go over the top of the playing field. There's also the "campaign" where you play against 10 different AI, the objective is to survive longer than the AI (it helps if you send more rows his way, of course).

Puyo-Puyo (also known as Puyo-Pop, or Kirby's Avalanche) is a bit more like the traditional Tetris, but only 2 pieces are dropped, of various colors. The piece can be rotated, but only puyos of same color can form chain of 4. The chain of 4 can actually bend, as long as they are consecutive (see the Wikipedia entry for details). If you manage to form the chain, you send "garbage" to the opponent. The opponent can fight back by making their own chains, so you get a bit of back-and-forth. Garbage dropped will block off existing puyos, making it hard/impossible to finish what you intended. As in Columns, there's the endless mode as well as campaign mode against 10 increasingly more difficult AI.

While the colors are good, both games are just extremely... difficult in certain cases as they are more about ruining your opponent when winning. There's a bit of this... vicious streak that made you feel good when you sent a lot of garbage to the opponent that he'll never recover from. However, neither game is as simple to pick up as Tetris. Color matching can be a problem under bright areas or wearing shades as some colors look rather close (green and blue puyos, for example). And the music is extremely repetitive and I quickly turned them off.

All in all, I found Sega Columns Deluxe to be a Tetris-clone, okay, TWO Tetris-clones. They tried to be different with the combat, but these extra rules don't really improve the game, at least in my opinion. If you like Tetris variants, give them a try, as you may be playing them again and again every once in a while. However, they don't quite have this "play one more level" feel that Tetris has, at least for me. However, they do get extra 0.5 point for value.

Rating: 7 out of 10 (includes +0.5 for value, 2 games in 1)
Pros: variations on Tetris / Dr. Mario, but more about offensive than defensive
Cons: feels... less puzzle and more action, lacks that "one more level" feel

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Mobile Game Review of "Prehistoric Fun Park"

THQ Inc.Image via WikipediaI can't find a link at THQ Wireless's own website, so I have to link to someone else.

Basically, it's Theme Park Tycoon / Rollercoaster Tycoon set in a cellphone. It seems to be a semi-sequel to "Prehistoric Tribe", also from THQ Wireless. It's done in an isometric view, and starts with your park completely empty, a few hundred "stones" in your account, a lot of imagination. You need to build rides (which, BTW, only have doors either to the "right", or "down". The "rotate" command only flips the doors between those two locations, not the ride itself. You need to build path to the rides so people can get to them. You need to build benches for people who get tired. You need to hire guards to maintain order and prevent fights. You need to hire maintainer to keep the rides running. You need to build food stands (and other stands) and hire salespersons to "man" them. You need to build cafes and hire cooks. You need to build toilets and fountains to satisfy other needs. You need to build a variety of rides to satisfy a variety of people. Don't be surprised if your rating 10 coaster sits idle while your rating 4 slide gets a queue 10 people long. And yes, you need to do it all under pressure of money, and ratings. Some rides are powered, so you need to build a dino motor and a dino rider to power the motor. But a motor only cover a certain amount of area... You get the idea.

I find it quite hard to figure out what the riders want, and how to raise the happiness rating overall. Building bigger and badder rides isn't always the answer. Too bad there isn't an "advisor" type function that helps you figure out what to build next. But I guess that'd be a bit too much for a wireless game.

You can go through the campaign in easy or hard difficulties. The hard difficulty have higher "happiness" requirements. Or you can do the custom missions, where you can do a "competition" as you try to run your park against some AI opponents, or you can do a pure free-play as you experiment with your rides and layouts and do a pure sandbox approach.

The graphics are 2D, but the animations are excellent. Each ride have their unique animations. Bungee jump (called banjo here) looks right, as are catapult, tower, and coasters. However, there doesn't seem to be many crowd control devices, other than paths, and the occasional signs.

While you can control the ride's prices, they don't seem to affect the peeps much on their desire to ride them. It's also very difficult to herd the riders into the furthest reaches of the park. A single loop may be the optimum path here.

All in all, Prehistoric Fun Park is a fun little tycoon title that could have commanded $10-15 in a bargain bin, and lost nothing when played on a cellphone. I admit I am a bit spoiled by the big screen I have on my LG VX9900 enV, but even when played in lower resolutions you should enjoy the activities occurring in the park. This game may stay on my phone a bit longer.

Overall: 8/10
Pros: full tycoon title in a phone, fun animations and rides
Cons: hard to judge what to build next, can't get riders into further parts of park

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Mobile Game Review of "Wedding Dash"

Diner Dash clone gets a 7 for competent but unoriginal gameplay. See my review on IGN.

Previews of more upcoming games!

SEGA Columns Deluxe -- 2 variations on the Tetris (tm) theme... are they any good?

Prehistoric Fun Park -- Rollercoaster Tycoon, except set in prehistoric times!

Wedding Dash -- Diner Dash, except set during a wedding reception!

Mobile Game Review of "Marsho Madness"

Marsho Madness is actually a "sidegame" made into a mobile game. The original game stars Eets, a cute creature, who needs to complete a series of tasks and get food. It is best described as half Incredible Machine, half Lemmings. Eets likes to eat marshmallows and hates choco chips. Marsho Madness started as a bonus game for the main eets game, known as Eets: Chowdown for the PC. It has since been ported to X360 and released on XLA. Konami decided to make the bonus round into its own game. Is it any good? Well... Not that good.

Marsho Madness has the plot where Eets is defending against a horde of evil marshmallows. The problem is, if you don't play Eets:Chowdown or other games in the series, you don't really "get" the silly plot. That's one point down. The actual game itself is kinda cute, but not that well done. Basically, each "critter" has a lock-on sequence. Smallest have just 2 keypresses... out of four: up / down / left / right. Larger ones can have up to 4 (haven't seen a 5-key critter yet). You have to lock on to each marsho and zap them with the laser before they reach Eets. Different marshos move in different speed and patterns. Small lock-2 (2 buttons) critters just goes at you straight, slowly, while the lock-3 critters have random stops and moves, and lock-4 critters either circle or go straight in, and breaks into multiple lock-2's when zapped. The lock-3 critters that circle are like bombers that drop off more lock-2's. You get the idea.

As you play longer (you get 1 free life for surviving every 3 minutes) your "laser" gets extra power, like being able to "chain" through multiple enemies, and so on. However, you're given no indication of this other then the effects once fired.

Also, the game does not proper take advantage of my LG VX9900's normal aspect screen. In fact, the "life bar" covers the top, making enemies approaching from that side almost invisible.

Somehow this game doesn't have that "play again" factor, as it's more frustrating than challenging, at least in my opinion. The later marshmellows come too fast, esp. when they break into multiple pieces which still must be targeted.

All in all, I can only give this game a 6 / 10. There are better distractions out there.

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Mobile Game Review of "Prison Break: The TV Game"

Fox TV's Prison Break was once thought "impossible for an on-going series". After all, what story is there once you've broken out? But it was interesting enough that it's now in a FOURTH season (okay, technically three seasons, due to the WGA strike). So... what if you can join the brothers and help them in the escape? You get this game.

The game, from VU, basically has you retrace the steps of Prison Break's Season 1, as Lincoln got into prison to get his brother OUT, and must form alliances (temporary or otherwise) with various prisoners in order to secure various items needed for the escape. Lincoln must also somehow lead the inmates through the maze of underground tunnels, without caught by the guards, and get to safety. The exploration of the tunnels is tied to the performance of how well you can reassemble a puzzle made out of pieces of a picture of the Taj Mahal. The faster and fewer mistakes, the more time you have to explore the caves.

The game itself is a standard 2D game with sprites. Most of the time, you walk around the prison groups during the "free activity times". You can find all the players, like Sucre, Abuzzi, T-Bag, and more. Each have something to contribute. You are never lost as to where to go as that's stated very specifically in your "goal book". However, sometimes what you do once you get to that location isn't that obvious.

For example, one of the items is by combining the recorder and watch, you can time the guard's movements. However, you need to plant that near a guard. You are given the general location, but not the specific location, and you basically have to walk around that area until you stumble onto it.

The puzzle / explore link is way too specious and arbitrary. Even if you are so bad with the puzzle that you ran out of time, you have 90 seconds to explores the tunnels. And if you well with the puzzle, you get a bit more. You can back against the wall to dodge a guard, but that doesn't always work, so your best defense is speed... run AWAY from the guard, and find a way to go around him.

Every once in a while you are given an oddball job. Like when you mess with the ventilation to cause a riot in order to cover up the breakthru you engineered, the riot then force you to embark on a free-run, as you jump over chairs, slide under tables, through guards, in order to reach the other side of the prison (for something, I forgot).

Overall, if you are a fan of the series, you should get a kick out of playing Scofield. It's classified as action, so most of the action is in dodging the patrols in the tunnels. The rest, technically an adventure, is WAY too simple to be much of a game. I have to give this a 7 out of 10... Even if they have to stick to the script, they could have done a better job with the various minigames to make it more entertaining. Their other game, 24: Special Ops was okay, so what went wrong here?

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Mobile Game Review of "WANTED: The Movie Game (mobile)"

Yes, this is an adaptation of a movie which is an adaptation of a graphic novel, which is more of an adaptation of someone's teenage fantasy. I mean, let's face it... which male teenager who doesn't dream of a Matrix-like revelation that one's dead father was really a super-bad***, and one was told by a femme fatale named Fox that one can be just as bad***, pop people left and right like Chow Yun Fat, gut people like Rambo, do somersaults and flips and wall-walks like Prince of Persia, and "avenge" your dead father by going after people just because Fox said so?

Oh, and there's this neat trick about bullets traveling in a CURVE. He-he-he.

The game is is a simple 2D sprite platformer with some attempt at isometric-look. You jump here and there and hold on the ledges and do flips and shoots people and guts people if close enough. Objective is get to the next exit. You may have to kill guards, and flip a few switches here and there. You can also crouch and roll under obstacles. Here it's a little like Bourne Conspiracy. It's straight-forward except for the occasional "autopilot" segments and the occasional "curve the bullet" segments they throw in.

The autopilot segments are named so because you are automatically moving. You can't stop. If you don't jump or crouch in time, you miss your move and you'll die. If you mis-time your jump, you fall to your death. If you mis-time your crouch, you do a flip-jump instead as you bounce off the wall and changes direction, and jump off the wrong ledge (and again, fall to your death). You have to contend with the guards in your way as well, while preserving your health, as your health does NOT regenerate during "autopilot". (It does regenerate in normal segment if you can stop at a quiet place, but you lose your kill-chain bonus.)

Curve-the-bullet segments are even more boring. Basically, it's very similar to autopilot segment, except you have to press keys in specific sequence to deal with various enemies that will appear (or already on) the level.

The 2D graphics look below average, when compared to other games like even the recent Get Smart: The Movie Game. And I don't really feel like playing Mario, instead of a bad*** assassin. Music is forgettable.

It does have "awards", or achievements, by accomplishing certain goals like get ten henchmen to shoot each other, or stuff like that. But once through the game is really enough for everyone, even teenage boys with glorious fantasies.

All in all, I'll have to give this a 6.5. It's an average game, enough said.

Need a second opinion? IGN's review agrees, as we came to the same score: 6.5!

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Mobile Game Review of "Monopoly Tycoon (mobile)"

Monopoly Tycoon is an adaptation of the existing PC game. There are still four players, and they use the old play pieces: locomotive, ship, shoe, and so on. Each turn has four phases: auction phase, build phase, manage phase, and resolution phase. Instead of moving each player's avatar around a board, one randomly chosen piece of property (or utility, or railroad) is auctioned off per turn, until the victory condition is reached. Victory condition can be one of the four: first to 100K, first to 1 million, most monopolies (up to all properties auctioned), or simply most money when last property auctioned.

Auction phase is similar to "Price is Right" is played: order is random, but it's a single pass ONLY. In other words, the later you are in the queue, the more advantage you have, as you can outbid the earlier guy by just $1, and he'd have no chance. So overbidding pressure is enormous, even against AI. Assuming you have enough $$$, of course.

In the build phase, you can build on the properties you own, or if there's an existing building, either raze it (and leave it empty) or remodel it into some OTHER type of business, and there are quite a few to choose from. Restaurant, cafe, movie theater, toy store, department store, night club, and more. The monopoly city has needs, and you have to fulfill them. You must study the supply and demand chart, to see which market segment is growing (or shrinking), and redo your current investments if needed. You also have to decide how big of a business (small, medium, or large), and what grade of a business (1 star, 2 stars, or 3 stars) to fit the neighborhood. You wouldn't put a dime store in Hollywood, right?

In the manage phase, you set prices on those businesses that you have. If you have monopoly in the segment, you can pretty much set the price to maximum ($99) and rake in the money. If you don't, then you better see what the other folks are doing and perhaps, undercut them in price in order to draw in more business...

In the resolution phase, you see if you have made the right decision, and you have made a net gain, or a net loss (money spent during building and auction phases are counted as well in the cash movement).

Railroads and utilities automatically generate money. The more of one type you own, the more money they generate (geometrically). They don't need to be managed.

Just as Monopoly (tm), you do get random events, such as "all theaters generate oly 50% revenue this turn" or such.

As the supply and demand situation changes from turn to turn the situation is very fluid, and you can't expect to bid for a property every turn and still have enough money to build something. It's really up to you to manage the businesses to generate enough cash for you to expand, and that's why it's more of a tycoon game than just Monopoly.

Unfortunately, you can't "trade" properties in this game, which means you HAVE to outbid other people when it comes to creating monopolies. However, when you DO get a monopoly, you get to build hotels on those properties, and that generates a LOT of revenue, esp. on 3-star properties.

The graphics are good though not as nicely animated as Monopoly Here and Now (also reviewed here earlier), but that's because there's an actual game board. The actual stores and such are animated when zoomed in with mothers pushing strollers, businessmen in suits, and occasional cars going by. Different grade of business look different. And so on. Graphics are good without being overly ornamental. The main problem is it's very hard to spot similar businesses on the board when the individual business squares are so small, and alwasy "color coded" by owner, not type. You have to go by their actual shrunken pictures, and they cover each other in the isometric view.

Other than that, the game is a hoot, esp. in the earlier phases when the AI is actually competitive. However, even a pretty lousy player should be able to trounce the AI in the longer games, as computer can't seem to consistently make good decisions.

All in all, Monopoly Tycoon is a successful update of the old classic, and a good port. You'll be playing it again, and again, and again, as every game will be somewhat different. I give this game an 8 as I wish for better music and animations.

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