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 "Parking Frenzy"

Parking Frenzy from Reaxion, who's more famous for the "______ Puzzles", is out with a game that actually looks and plays good, unlike their puzzle games. Basically, you play a parking valet, with the job of moving the best cars in town as quickly (but scratch free) as possible. The idea is... the faster you move, the more tip money you make, and less likely you'll get fired. Obviously, any scratches on the cars is coming out of your pay!

The game is presented in a top-down view with the cars a pretty decent size. Minis look like Minis, and bit "boats" look like big "boats". Sports cars look like sports cars. And they do maneuver a bit differently. The idea is to drive them to their respective spots (incoming cars arrive at one point and needs to be taken to specific parking spaces, while outgoing cars need to be taken from the lot to the exit zone). It's never as easy as it seems as there are various problems, such as items in the way, even other cars in the way (knowing which car to take first can be a problem!)

Each "location" has five missions that must be completed before you graduate to the better on, with ever increasing amount of cars to park, shorter times, and so on. You can also unlock 5 minigames (though actual total is 2, as most are just variations of the two).

The graphics are quite crisp and clear for 2D sprites, and the other character's portraits in the "dialogs" does make sense. Music is not that annoying, but not good either. This game could be better with better controls and 3D cars, but as it, it's

Overall rating: 6.5 out of 10
Pros: easy to learn, lots of variations and "freedom"
Cons: higher levels are way too frantic for me

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Mobile Game Review of Shopping Madness

Shopping Madness, another game from Digital Chocolate, pretty much revised their "Bumper Car City" to produce this very similar game, but with a new objective: shopping! The result is nonviolent, but way too frantic.

The plot is simple: you want to be crowned "Master Shopper" by this department store by beating all reigning champions and ex-champions. In order to do that, you need to work your way up five floors each have 5 competitors who will up the stakes.

The objective is to "buy" as many items on this sales floor as possible within the time limits, by wisely using the "madness" multipliers. The madness multipliers only lasts a few seconds, but doubles any items you "shopped". If you can chain them, you can add up some truly impressive multipliers... but the most you chain, the faster you move, which makes you almost uncontrollable.

You are given two choices of control: either up/down/left/right, or left turn/right turn. Neither is really workable, as the "shopping cart" simply moves way too fast (or controls are too slow) for it to be playable, at least for me. Maybe your kids may have better luck.

As such, I can't even beat the first floor's last guy, much less the whole game. But I think I've seen enough.

The graphics are 2D sprites and rather cute in DG's art style, and the whole department store floor is represented, from counters to racks or corridors and such. I can guess that different floors would have somewhat different layout and theme, but overall idea is the same: learn where the "madness" powerups are, and try to chain them. Sound is pretty forgettable, but not annoying.

I hate to say this, but DG needs to add a speed slider or recalibrate the speed, or offer variable difficulty levels. This game is simply way too fast, and I don't claim to have poor reflexes.

Overall rating: 5.5 out of 10 (-0.5 way too fast)
Pros: easy to learn mechanics
Cons: way too fast

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Even more mobile game previews!

Shopping Madness -- becomes the master shopper by hitting the right items and the right bonuses, and be crowned Master Shopper! Are you good enough as a shopper? Basically Pac-man without the corridors and ghosts, it's WAY TOO FRANTIC as an action game for me.

Parking Frenzy -- be the best valet parker you can be, start at a simple club, then work your way up. Park the cars in respective spaces, balance incoming and outgoing demands in free-form mode, even "drift" the cars and handbrake-turn the cars to park them faster. How much money can you make as a valet? Pretty cute 2D game with pretty good "physics".

USA TODAY Txtpert by Namco -- crosswords with a twist: you are given hints of the letter by their numeric equivalent (look at your phone keypad now). How fast can you solve the levels and puzzles? Play Txtpert and WordDown (variant of Tetris with word puzzles), and unlock bonus puzzles as you go. Not bad as a word game, though some of the words are way too exotic, lots of proper nouns too.

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Mobile Game Review of "Jupiter Lander"

Jupiter lander is the old Commodore 64 version of the classic "Lunar Lander", except updated to modern standards. And yes, the fun still holds up... except for its relatively shortness, and slow loading times.

You are treated to a simulation of C64 "load screen" at the beginning, but this title sequence can't be bypassed, so it's boring as heck. Also the animations in the menus are WAY TOO SLOW. Argh! Makes me want to scream even before I played it!

Once you're into the game, you find it still classic... Basically, you have fixed amount of fuel. Land the lander on any of the 3 platforms... x2, x5, or x10. Obviously, landing on the x10 platform will give you a lot higher score and more fuel, but you have to make it down in one piece, and you don't get more fuel between attempts, so basically, if you do go for x10, you better make it in your first try, or else you won't have fuel to try again.

There are 10 levels, each with a bit different challenge, such as going UP instead of down, more diagonal instead of sideways tunnels, narrower tunnels, and so on. The idea is to score the most points in 10 levels.

And how do you control the lander? There are only three buttons... main retrothruster (thrust down, so the lander stays UP), left, and right maneuver thrusters to impart a bit of left/right motion. That's it. When you land, your vertical velocity must remain inside the "green box", which basically means you landed soft enough. The softer you land, the more fuel you get back as well.

When you accomplish landing on an x10 platform, you unlock the classic C64 mode, which basically means you go retro in a limited color and resolution lander and landscape, but the levels are still the same. However, you need to start a new game to see this. It doesn't play any differently, just a novelty issue.

The high-score screen doesn't use the QWERTY keyboard or the text input option at all on modern phones. Instead, they use the regular arcade method: left and right keys to scroll through the alphabet, and they made the alphabet wavy so you weren't quite sure which letter is being highlighted. ARGH! Who designed this **** interface?

Sound is boring, and sound effects aren't much better.

All in all, Jupiter Lander is a retro title that needs more freshening up than what's offered here. The slow load times didn't help either.

Overall rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: classic game play as tense as ever
Cons: is that all you got? Come on...

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Mobile Game Review of "Gold Miner"

Gold Miner is one of those "action puzzles" like Tetris or even... Redneck Fishin' that feeds you frenzy in small doses, and that's what a mobile game SHOULD be.

You are on top of the screen as a gold miner, and you need to cast hook into the bowels of the earth to snag the goodies... such as big gold nuggets, diamonds and other gems, and try to avoid bad things like rocks, TNT barrels, and so on. Your hook will 'rotate' back and forth. When you judge the hook will deploy, hit OK, then the hook will shoot out, and if it snags something, it'll bring it up. There are also random bags.

Between levels, you can buy some "powerups" that could make certain items worth more, retrieve items a little faster, and so on, or you can save the money. Remember, every bit of money you earn can help you further down the road. It is possible to make enough money that you just sit there and do nothing and still pass the level, but why waste the "freebie" on the easy levels?

There's a 'strategy mode' where you need to meet ever-increasing amount of dollars as you play, and some of those levels are HARD! (esp. those with TNT barrels, as they often destroy all stuff around them). There's also "endless" mode where you can just keep on playing... sort of.

Graphics are 2D sprites, but rather cute, and decently animated. Sound... is forgettable.

All in all, Gold Miner is one of those quickie games where you play a few levels between assignments. It's not very deep, and it's not THAT challenging, but it's not a bad game either.

Overall rating: 6.5 out of 10
Pros: easy to learn, not too hard
Cons: no "aim point", some levels WAY too hard

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Mobile Game Review of "Predator 3D: The Duel"

This unofficial sequel to Arnold's movie "Predator" has you play both the Predator, and Commander Duke through 4 levels each, then have a duel and see who comes out on top! Is it worth playing? I'd say, yes, though they added a bit too much sci-fi, IMHO.

Start as the Predator, as you land on Earth to seek out the only human who have bested one of your kind in combat... and vanquish him... for your honor... or die trying. Unfortunately, your target is held in a prison in Terminal City.. and you must use your throwing boomerang, the wrist-blade, and the plasma cannon, as well as your heat-vision, to hunt humans, break into the jail, and destroy Commander Duke. On the way, kills guards and soldiers, destroy cannons, open laser barriers, unlock doors, and so on to flush out Duke for the final duel.

Then you play as Duke, as the Predator have released all the doors. You still have to make it to the surface, and you need weapons, and your wits... as it takes a lot of kills to escape to the surface... Climb walls, kill guards, find keys, bypass lasers barriers, and so on. And you-know-who is waiting at the end...

Then at the end you have a duel with the Predator himself...

Graphics are quite good for a mobile game. This game is similar to quality of AVP 3D, Time Crisis 3D, and other top 3D titles, all with proper textures and enough polygons to make you think PS2 on a low-res TV. And frame rates are good enough to give you a sense of somewhat fluid movement.

Sound is not as good, but better than most other games, and music actually sounds appropriate, though it does repeat.

Controls could use a bit of help, as you do get to rotate left/right, strafe left/right, look up/down (awkward on my QWERTY-keyboard LG enV), move back and forward, and action (also shoot). There's also crouch/stand toggle, heat-vision toggle for Predator, and weapon toggle. However, at least they are relatively easy to find and use.

Enemies do vary a bit, from normal "Barney" guards (named after the guy in Half-Life) to soldiers to laser barriers to autoturrets. The trick is open a door, and quickly locate your target and engage him and that requires something better than just your directional pad.

Overall, this game is 3/4 action, 1/4 exploration, and you can't really get lost as you are given a pointer as to where to go (though it CAN be turned off). It has decent graphics and sound, and serves as sequel to one of the most memorable movie villains around... I'd say it's pretty decent. Just wish for a slightly more difficult level, perhaps?

Overall rating: 7.5 out of 10
Pros: sequel to "Predator" movie, overall okay design
Cons: duel at end is a letdown, a bit too short

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New Mobile Game Previews!

Some more games getting previews...

Predator 3D - the duel : the Arnold movie gets an unofficial sequel! Commander Duke is put in jail at Terminal City for killing the first Predator. Predator's progeny arrives on earth, breaks into Terminal City jail to find Duke in order to have a duel, while Duke breaks OUT of jail... Play both in their parts, then have a duel at the end...

Gold Miner -- another easy to pick-up game in the vein (pun intended) of Redneck Fishing... You have a hook you "cast" to grab minerals, rocks, critters, and so on. Don't hit the TNT! Must make enough $$$ to pass the story levels, or do "endless".

Jupiter Lander -- remake of the Commodore 64 game... Land on the x2, x5, or x10 platforms before your fuel runs out. Yes, even comes with the LOAD prompts (simulated, of course). You can to play the retro version as well, if you can unlock it.

Mobile Game Shootout: Madden NFL '09 vs. NFL 2009!

EA Sports, IncImage via Wikipedia Yep, TWO NFL Football games going head to head! Who will come out on top? Welcome to our first mobile game shootout!

Our perennial favorite, from the 800-lb gorilla known as EA Sports and the Madden franchise, is Madden NFL 2009. Based on almost the same engine that powers NCAA Football 2009 (reviewed earlier), this game has a lot going for it, including full 3D, Madden endorsement, and full NFL cooperation including team colors and player names.

Our challenger, from Gameloft, a relative newcomer but well-established in the mobile arena, is NFL 2009. This game features all the teams and team logos, and players, but appararently, did NOT license the team colors. Which is VERY strange. Thus, SF 49'ers will appear in BLUE, instead of their regular colors: RED or WHITE. What's going on here? At least they offer a couple different choices, such as "retro" colors, but none of them look right. They do have player names though.

Initial Impression: both games makes a decent initial impression, with NFL 2009 having a slightly flashier intro screen and electronic music, but Madden have much better sound, including voice commentary and rock music, and music stops after 5 seconds, instead of repeating ad infinitum.


Team Roster: there seems to be no way to change the team roster in NFL 2009 at all. Whereas in Madden there is a "Front Office" choice where you can see every player in the team and their ratings, and who's assigned to play and who's not, and this is where you make substitutions. Neither offers a way to make substitutions during the game (that I can find).


Season Setup: Both games allow you to setup a "season" where you play in a simulated league, with your choices of length of quarters (5 minute quarters are popular, but you can go for 3, 7, 10, or even 15). Season can be full or abbreviated.

ADVANTAGE: None, it's a tie

Kick-off: NFL 2009 is a 2D game that seems to offer very little control to the actual plays. Madden, on the other hand, is a 3D game, that simply looks way better than NFL 2009. A kick-off looks like a kickoff, with the ball making its 3D trajectory. Then the ball is caught, the game pauses as the field rotates 180, and you start the "return".


Coaching: In NFL 2009, you can see drawn routes on the field AND flip the play so it plays the other way (left vs right). It also feels like it has more plays in the library, with 3 variations of distance on both run and pass plays.

Both games have "coach suggested play".

Madden seems to have given different teams different playbook, perhaps depending on QB ratings. While at first it seems to have less plays than NFL 2009, and no ability to flip, this doesn't seem to affect game play much.


General look and feel: Madden is a full 3D game where NFL 2009 is a 2D game. The average player on Madden is about 4 times if not larger than a player sprite on NFL 2009. Enough said. NFL 2009 also has odd "jersey color" problems. Why don't the teams get their proper color jersies when you did license their logos, eh?


First Quarter: Madden's engine is the same as NCAA, so the players are doing the same things between goals, like shrug shoulders, victory run after Point-after or touchdown, the "dance", the "belly bounce", are all moves seen in NCAA 2009, except the players in Madden are a bit bulkier and wears NFL colors. At least these are appropriate and random, whereas the 2D sprites in NFL 2009 don't do much at all, except some FIREWORKS in the endzone (!) and players doing jumping-splits (!). NFL 2009 does have commentary, but it's text form, and it can be turned off. Madden have VERBAL commentary from the commentators instead ("Defense has that play read from the get-go!")


Second Quarter: The run feels a lot livelier in Madden, as each running back is allowed a bit of special ability, such as "dive", "spin", "power", "showboat", "speed burst", and so on. Using the spin at the right time will break free from tackles, and a dive can add 5 or more yards to bad situation. It is actually possible to do kick-off returns and punt-returns for touch-downs in Madden. Perhaps a bit too easy, but the point is it's possible. Not so in NFL2009. You simply don't move anywhere as fast as the AI defenders, and you can't do diagonal moves! Add that to the truly TINY sprites (even on my large-screen LG VX9900 enV), and the result is severe disappointment.


Third-Quarter: Passing is the other part of football that's very important. The problem with NFL 2009 is it only allows you to have THREE receivers, and it assigns them to strange button combos: Z, C, and 0, on my QWERTY-keyboard enV. Why? The sprites are small enough that I can't tell if my guy is really fighting their guy for the ball or not. Even an incomplete pass isn't "obvious". Madden on the other hand, animates EVERYTHING, with up to 4 receivers per play. Press OK to start pass mode, then within a time limit, press one arrow key to pass to that receiver. Much easier, and you can even convert the play back to a QB sneak if there are no receivers open at all.


Fourth-Quarter: special team moves are pretty much tied... Kicking is pretty much the same... Press a key to start, press key to "aim" as the arrow points left and right... then press arrow again to adjust "power" as the power meter goes up and down. Then press it again, and the kick is off... The problem with NFL2009 is you have to put in your own left/right adjustments... What's CENTER isn't where the goal post is. Difficulty is higher, and for little gain.


Over-time: I know NFL don't do overtimes, but there are other quirks about these games you should know. Madden and NFL 2009 both have AI taking time-outs, which is good. However, NFL 2009 also has play clock, and will give you "delay of game" penalties if you run those out.


Final Decision: the decision is obvious... Madden NFL 2009 beats beats NFL 2009 in almost every matchup except 2.

Madden NFL 2009 (EA Sports)
Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 (!)
Pros: Every NFL team, individual "power" feels "special"
Cons: May be a bit TOO easy at times

NFL 2009 (Gameloft)
Overall rating: 6.5 out of 10
Pros: colorful, lots of plays
Cons: tiny sprites, lack of control over the play

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Mobile Game Review of "Galaxy On Fire 3D"

Elite (video game)Image via Wikipedia Sooner or later, someone's going to reinvent the games, and this time, someone managed to squash down Elite gameplay into a mobile phone! That's essentially Galaxy on Fire 3D is: Elite, but without the trading.

It seems originally they WANT to put in the trading, but couldn't fit, so they only had you get RANDOM LOOT, which you can sell for a bit of bonus on top of your mission pay. It'd be interesting to see what ELSE they can do with this engine, or with more memory.

Basically, you are a mercenary, recently retired from Terran Space Forces. Your service has earned you a small scout, and you need to complete a 13 mission "story" before you can start on your quest to truly explore the galaxy. And there are A LOT of places to explore. Each "system" has five planets or stations, though not all will trade. All will have at least one mission if not 5 or 6. If they trade, you can sell off any of your loot, and upgrade your ship (if they have anything you want). If you have enough credits, you can even get a new ship, even one used by Terran's enemy, the Vossk.

The flight portion is in full 3D, with "behind" view reminiscent of Starfox. Everybody has a "trail", and there are asteroids, nebulas, minefields, and more. Missions have a lot of variety as well: clear space debris (under fire or not?), clear minefield (again, under fire or not?), intercept (and destroy) convoy, revenge hit on specific ship, combat mission sweep of area of all hostiles, capture enemy cruiser by killing its escorts and taking out all its plasma guns, take passenger to other station through enemy fire... and more. There's even the occasional 'unknown', you do get paid, but you don't know what you do until you're into the mission.

Once your in the mission, the graphics are not quite as good as Wing Commander, but they are definitely better than Elite. Ships are fully 3D, and weapon shots comes out the right places. There are several categories of weapons as well: lasers, plasma, photon, thermo, and missile. No ship can fit all five, and in fact, the beginner ship, call the Icarus-class, can only fit two: laser, and plasma. They basically vary in their recharge time vs. punch (damage caused). Found missiles to be extremely helpful, as they offer you ability to "off-bore" the opponent, i.e. hit them even if you are NOT pointing straight at them.

One nice thing about the mission is you don't need to destroy EVERYBODY. For example, if your mission is 'revenge', once you took out the target ship, your mission ends. There's no need to destroy the escorts, even if taking them out do make your job of taking down the main guy easier. Similarily, if you're taking on a convoy, take out the convoy ships, and you can "spare" the escort fighters... if you want to.

You will need to explore the galaxy a bit to find the best stuff. And don't ignore Vossk planets and stations... you'll need to pay a bribe to get in, but you may find stuff not available anywhere else. I found a missile that cost a lot, but they do almost TWICE damage (198, vs. 120) of Terran's best missile, on a Vossk station.

While the missions do get a bit repetitive, as there are only so many ways you can kill the enemy, the game itself still provides a lot of challenges. While flying is free, landing on the planet or station cost $$$. So all travel will deplete your budget. Simple missions pay 1-3000, while more dangerous missions pay more, esp. when you get out into the galaxy and find the tougher systems.

All in all, an excellent achievement, even though the play gets a bit repetitive in the open portions.

Overall rating: 9 out of 10 (!)
Pros: open-ended gameplay! Do whatever you want!
Cons: no trading at all, argh!

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Mobile Game Review of "Death Race: The Movie Game"

Otherwise known as Death Race:tmg, this is a movie tie-in for that new remake of Death Race 2000. Some blah-blah about this prison where the inmates are racing cars for entertainment under supervision of the warden... and how this innocent driver is asked to take over for a dead guy to continue his legend. Blah blah blah. How does it play? Hmmm... Feels a bit like Mario Kart at times.

The graphics aren't the greatest. Certainly not even close to Speed Racer (mobile). It's basically a rehash of the "Driver:LA Undercover" mobile game engine. It's a curious mixture of 2D and 3D together. The result isn't that bad, but it isn't that good either.

As a game... Well, the idea is don't make mistakes, and always have a weapon ready to kill someone both ahead in in front of you. That's what's fun about this game... Initially you start out UNARMED. You have to hit a "powerup" on the course to enable the offensive (or defensive) weapons. Mines are good for defense, while guns are good for offense. You also run into occasional missiles, which should be saved for the guy in front of you (if any!). Don't forget to kill other cars and hit "nitro" powerups to keep going fast... And don't make mistakes as that'll almost guarantee a loss as you can't get the places back in time to matter.

There are "four episodes", which serve as a bit of "prequel" to the movie, I guess. Each episode have you do a couple races (must finish in top 3 to continue), and a couple other events like "kill as many cars on track as possible", or "destroy X amount of objects on track". You end with a race against a boss, which means you have 3 laps to kill him with the various weapons, while he tries to kill you as well.

Once the car gets up to speed, the game gets a bit exciting as you need to drive, avoid obstacles such as burning barrels, other cars, and such, while put your weapons on other drivers. Otherwise, there' is never enough Nitro around for you to go fas fast as you really want.

All in all, Death Race TMG manages to bring a bit of the movie to your handset. It's not bad, but it could be better, though there are a lot of parts to get and lots of races and variations to go through. It's competent, nothing more.

Overall rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: not bad for circuit racing with guns and weapons
Cons: that's all there is?

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More Mobile Game Previews!

Ah, some new releases this week, and there's a standout and a battle!

Death Race: The Movie Game -- the remake of Death Race 2000 gets a new plot and a new game... Looks like a reuse of "Driver: LA Undercover" engine, but not that bad playing wise. Lots of upgrades and whatnot.

Galaxy on Fire 3D -- Wow! Someone squashed Elite gameplay down to a cellphone! After you make it through the 13-mission story, the whole "galaxy" is yours to explore. Fight is in full 3D, and you are free to align yourself with either side. No trading though (you gain "loot" randomly in missions and you can sell them). So you're primarily a mercenary / courier. Explore the galaxy while making money, upgrading your weapons, and your ship. It's freeform play... on a cellphone!

NFL 2009 by Gameloft -- the OTHER NFL game... somehow this game tries to out-Madden Madden NFL 2009, but not quite succeeding. It's 2D only, and having animated backgrounds and other "polished graphics" doesn't make this game better than Madden.

Madden NFL 2009 -- yep, Madden's back on PC. This game seems very much like the NCAA 2009 except this one is with NFL teams. However, the ability to have each perform perform special feats like "showboat", "hurdle", "big hit", "spin", and so on is a lot of fun. Who'd expect San Francisco to beat the undefeated Steelers at the SuperBowl? :D

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Mobile Game Review of "AVP 3D"

Alien (Alien franchise)Image via Wikipedia Yep, AVP made it to the mobile phone, and it's 3D too. However, the clunky controls will have you screaming with frustration instead of with dread as you face off against both Aliens and Predators.

The game has 5 main missions that roughly parallels the movie. You start at the arctic base and start finding facehuggers. You find a base and got inside, and found both Aliens, Predators, and underground pyramid. You are given one new weapon per level, except on the final showdown, where you're given "plasma bombs" in addition to the gatling gun you got on level 4.

The levels are full 3D, but you don't get free movement. It's a pure railshooter, and what's worse, you need to move the cursor onto the target. Once it's on, it'll stay locked on unless the object moves off the viewing area. And you can even change from chest shot to head shot.

Aliens and Predators look their part, but there are way too many predators in the game for you to shoot. They sometimes throw spears and those trimarangs (which you CAN shoot out of the air, if you're fast enough), or they'll run up and slash you with their claws. Aliens, of course, just run up and slash you, and facehuggers, well, jump up and cover your face, and you lose health until you shake it off, and as a result, completely lost track of your aim reticule. ARGH!

Reloads and health aren't given. You must shoot special objects in the world. The problem is do you shoot the objects, or do you shoot the enemies instead?

Shot enemies just dissolve in transporter-like effect. No bodies in this game. And headshots are more effective... sort of. At first you have only pistol (unlimited ammo). Level 2 you get a shotgun (never enough ammo) as alternate weapon. At level 3 you get submachine gun (looks like MP5), and level 4 gives you the big daddy: gatling gun. As stated before, level 5 gives you plasma bombs in addition to the gatling.

The graphics are decent, but not THAT good. It's somewhat reminiscent of Time Crisis 3D (reviewed earlier) except you actually have to AIM here, and that's VERY frustrating in a game that needs fast reaction. It's a fun game ruined by a subpar control scheme. Music isn't that remarkable, really.

All in all, AVP3D is graphically very impressive, but plays like a dog. You may get more enjoyment out of the movie instead.

Overall rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: graphically very impressive, everything looks right, sounds okay
Cons: control pad can NEVER replace a mouse, which is what this game needs

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Mobile Game Review of "2008 Beijing Olympics"

SEGA already got "Sonic at the Olympics" out, now it's got the OFFICIAL game out as well. Is it fun? I don't think so, as it's far too "timing" based. And there are only four events, period.

The game lets you "go for the gold" in all four events, or you can play each event individually. The events are: 100m dash, hammer throw, 200m freestyle, and Table Tennis (i.e. Ping-pong). Representative of the Olympics? Well, I dunno.

The 100m dash and 200m freestyle is almost the same game: press OK when the "power spot", which is moving right to left, overlaps a circle. The closer you align the two (i.e. press OK at the right time) the more powerful your sprint/strike, and the faster you go. The swimming makes you push some other buttons to "turn around", but that's simple enough.

Hammer throw is close enough: press OK to start spin. Press OK to align power spot to increase power at each revolution. At third revolution press OK to align release angle, then press OK to release. You have like 12 throws to get the best two.

The only one that's a bit more like a game is table tennis. Over here, you still press OK to return the hit. You need to hit OK at the right time to make a proper return, else you'll hit out and so on. It's like playing pong with one button. It just feels weird.

The graphics are okay, obviously 2D sprites all around, and characters have a bit of Asian-anime type look to them, esp. Table Teniis.

Music is forgetable, and sound isn't much better.

All in all, you money would be better spent elsewhere than play this "tribute game" to the Olympics.

Overall rating: 5.0 out of 10
Pros: easy to pickup
Cons: way too much emphasis on timing, odd choice of events

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Oh, finished entire "season" on NCAA'09 Football mobile

Rose Bowl (game)Image via Wikipedia Just finished the entire season as LSU. Got all the way to #1 BCS, won Rose Bowl against Oklahoma (!). Went into over time THREE times, and only lost one. The last game was a nail biter. It was 7 to 7 into overtime. I scored TD, and PAT. They scored TD, but managed to miss the PAT. They also missed a FG earlier.

Here's some notes about the AI:

* defense is a crap shoot... Swarm is quite good against HB or option plays.
* It's necessary to vary your offense. Be unpredictable.
* Flea Flicker looks like a run, but it's really a pass. And can be used at the right moments.
* Against a weak pass defense, fake punts and fake field goals can be very effective.
* I've yet to see AI use a fake FG or fake punt to gain yards, so "defend fake punt" is probably useless.
* I've yet to see a blocked FG also
* don't force your team to do what it cannot. If you are rated better as a run team, do more running the ball. If you do better passing, pass more. But use both.
* Do NOT pass into double or triple coverage. Interception CAN and WILL happen.
* Remember the play you called and the route the receivers will take, so you can pass just as he come clear, and STAYS CLEAR for that time you pass

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Mobile Game Review of "Tetris Pop"

Image representing Electronic Arts as depicted...Image via CrunchBase,
source unknown
Tetris Pop is still Tetris, but this time, instead of fundamentally reinventing Tetris like WellTris, or Tris 3: Faces, or SubMerged, EA instead offered up a collection of Tetris variants, and fed it to you in smaller but increasing harder doses. The result is surprisingly playable, almost as addictive as the original, and still manages to be somewhat fresh.

So how many Tetris variants are there? Total of 16. Here's a full list:

* vanilla -- i.e. original
* ball -- a ball randomly bounces in the field, messing up your pieces
* circuit -- complete the circuit with the specified color pieces from left to right
* detonator -- link the detonator to the dynamite pieces before time runs out
* erosion --
* filler
* flood
* furnace -- drop all the pieces as fast as possible to "heat up" the field
* ledges --
* limbo -- keep all pieces BELOW the line
* meteors
* replicator -- assemble pieces to resemble the given shape
* scanner
* split -- field is divided vertically into 2, pieces dropped alternately
* stacker
* touchdown -- drop a Tetromino (tm) onto the bottom pad before time runs out... (except there are random blocks and lines you must clear!)

Well, the game itself doesn't tell you about the variants until you play them, so when you see a new variant, it may take you a couple attempts to do it. I am afraid that I can't describe every variant. I can tell you that I did play them, as I'm at least 50 percent into the game in Pop mode.

The "main" game is Tetris Pop, or "Pop mode", which are these minigames grouped into "levels" of "worlds". There are like seven worlds, each have several levels. At each level you need to play three to four variants to complete the level. And you are graded by your completion score/time and awarded a medal thus.

There is also Pop Chrono, which is basically a timed mode. If you prefer to play only ONE variant, there's "Pop Mix", which lets you choose exactly the variant you want to try. You can only play the variants you've unlocked in the Pop mode, of course.

In each of the variants there is an achievement, and you can check if you've done them in the statistics section. Such as forming a "Tetris" (clear 4 lines together) and so on. Some can be quite tough.

The music is somewhat based on the original theme, but rearranged to be not as annoying. Background animation is rather minimal, but the whole dancing menu can be annoying after a while. Graphics are not the strong suit here as this is merely a Tetris game, but the blocks are clear and nicely animated.

All in all, Tetris Pop is a worthwhile addition to the Tetris family. You can play the vanilla version (which is the official version, including hard and soft drops, hold, and more), and 15 variants, and mix and match, plus timed, "campaign", and so on. It is a lot of game in one little package.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tetris, Tetris, and more Tetris, in small doses, are good
Cons: that's all? We're STILL doing Tetris variants?

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Mobile Game Review of "Avatar: Into the Inferno"

AangImage via Wikipedia Those that watch Nickolodeon, probably know the Avatar series. Well, this is a game based on that series. It's... NOT a beat-em-up. The figures are also further cartoonized to make it G instead of PG. The result... rather boring.

Basically, there's water nation, fire nation, and other elements. Aang is the avatar and Fire Nation wants him bad! He and others will help defend water village. You also get to play Fire Nation's prince and princess leading the invasion forces.

Basically, this game is almost like an RTS. You may be accompanied by a bunch of soldiers or companions. You have a cursor with a large circle about it. Move the cursor over enemy, and all enemies in the circle gets "selected", and your characters will run toward them and attack them. If there are no enemies, your characters will run over where your cursor was clicked. The idea is to wipe out enemy groups without getting in both front and back. Don't click cursor too often or the circle will shrink and you won't be able to target many bad guys.

When the boss shows up, you have to keep taking out enemy soldiers. Then boss will shoot "balls of energy" into the ground. You must then put the cursor onto that ground spot, which will bounce the ball back into the shooter. Else, in a few seconds, those balls erupt and hit you (or one of your companions/soldiers). When you got hit by one of these, it's all over. You need to send several balls back to the shooter to defeat him/her.

And really, that's about it to the game. There are special scrolls of powerups you need to collect as each can give you bonuses, like "freeze" enemies in ice, or a throwing axe that wipes out enemy in one direction, and so on. There's even a scroll that brings back "dead" companions. But those are just bonuses, arriving randomly.

Graphics are okay, though a bit TOO cute, in the "hyper-deformed" manner. It's really not that exciting, and the boss levels are a bit TOO hard, and requires replaying the earlier combat to get to the boss again should you need to restart. Once frustration sets in, it's time to look for another game.

Overall rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: easy to pickup, not that violent on screen
Cons: bosses can be a bit TOO hard, theme's still violence

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More Mobile Game Previews!

Alien vs Predator 3D -- rail shooter set as the humans, when you shoot both sides... In full 3D. Think Time Crisis 3D, and you'd be on the right track, except you actually need to move the cross-hair onto the target, instead of just hitting a "zone". Argh!

Beijing 2008 Olympic Games -- Sega already got Sonic at Olympic, now they got the OFFICIAL game as well... Compete in a mere four events: 100-meter dash, hammer throw, 200m freestyle, or table tennis. All are simply exercise in timing.

Tetris Pop -- another variation on Tetris... Actually this is basically a ton of variations throw into the same game. Every "level" you play a different variation, and it gets progressively harder. You also have a time limit to complete the goal. It could be as simple as complete 4 lines to as messy is create a chain that'll lead from A to B. It's certainly a lot of variations, and each "world" is a little different.

Avatar: Into the Inferno -- based on the cartoon series "Avatar: the last airbender", you follow the Avatar and friends (and enemies) as they attempt to defeat Fire Nation's invasion. It's more like a RTS than a beat-em-up.

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Mobile Game Review of "Jenga Mobile"

JENGA is a wooden block building game currently distributed by Hasbro. It is deceptively simple... Basically, you have to remove blocks to place on top of the stack to make the stack higher... and higher... Until it all comes tumbling down. Whoever's turn it was when it came down is the "loser". The computer version is not a true simulation, as it doesn't employ full physics, but it simulates enough to make the game realistic. And its new variations such as locked, wedged, light, and such blocks plus an AI opponent makes the game challenging without being impossible.

Graphics are fair. You can rotate the structure without disturbing it. Indeed, you should inspect the piece on multiple sides before attempting to remove a piece. Once you picked a piece, there are some times more than one way to remove, depending on which piece you pick, and which side you are going to remove from. It becomes second nature once you tried it a few times.

There are eighteen levels, divided into 3 regions, ending at Stonehenge. The AI is not perfect, but it will put up a challenge, as it can spot moves you may not expect until you learn the game. Watch the AI and learn.

The sound is boring as heck, and music is repetitive.

All in all, Jenga mobile is a light diversion from your typical shooter mobile game. The complications does add to the challenge, but this is not a game you want to try again, and again, and again, once you won.

Overall rating: 5.5 out of 10
Pros: non-violent, simple to learn
Cons: why play again when you've won?

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Mobile Game Review of "SubMerged" by Namco

SubMerged is basically a Tetris derivative. At least the inventors tried to do something different. However, it may have bit off a bit too much, as the adaptation uses no less than 10 buttons to play. Still, it does have that one-more-level feel... Until you get the idea that it's the interface that's tripping you up, not your lack of skill, thereof.

Basically, SubMerged uses the underwater theme... and bubbles forming lines. There are nine positions where each block can go across the "board". At the end of the "level" you reached a resting point where you get fresh air. If you don't make it, you "drown". The random stuff "drop" (actually you rise, but same idea) and you have to release your own blocks to fill the gaps to make it one solid line across of 9. The gaps can be of any size. The "fun" part is the pieces that are not used in the line then 'floats up' to form additional lines if possible. This is called a "rush". It is possible to chain up to a DOZEN rushes by completing a single line. However, this would require not only exact placement of your piece, but also customization of the piece's shape.

You see, you can actually manipulate the shape and size of your piece. if it's a single wide, you can make it taller (but not rotate it). If you have a wide piece (never wide than 3 blocks), you can grow any one of the 3 blocks, or grow 2 at a time (3 combinations), or all three at the same time. Add "push up", and move left/right, and you got 10 control buttons.

This sounds complicated, and it is. You pretty much have to have your target aimed and pieces grown. This becomes nearly impossible at the highest levels (3 difficulty levels, plus "endless") when pieces are floating up so fast you don't even have time to grow it, much less move them into place. You have to know how to grow them and have the button pushed, pretty much.

This is this game's main downfall. The background is pretty enough, with sealife like turtle, fish, and other animals moving about. The "depth gauge" shows how close you are to to finish line, and this really is a genuine variation on Tetris that's rather original. However, it seems that the attempt to control the controls have not worked that well, and needing to look for that many controls makes them counter-intuitive and thus less than exciting to play. And that's its main failing.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: genuinely original version of Tetris derivative
Cons: unwieldy controls

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Mobile Game Review of "TNA Wrestling"

TNA Wrestling (AMA) is a full Wrestling RPG based on TNA Wrestling outfit (yes, it's a real wrestling league with its own stars, not as famous as WWE, but interesting enough). It is one of the best games I've played on a mobile phone, and that's saying a LOT.

The graphics are primitive, but well animated. Start by creating your own wrestler by choosing from a series of portraits, then customize like skin tone, outfit color, armband color, and so on. Later when you are signed as a pro you can add a shirt and further color customizations.

You then get to talk to a variety of characters, and the conversation choices you make will affect the # of points you get. You can gain face points (good) or heel points (evil), and sometimes, some of both. For example, when talking to Gail Kim, you can choose "face" answer like "You can count on my help", or a heel answer like "Absolutely babycake. How about dinner?" Basically, you can be nice, or be obnoxious. Depending on the points you got, you can get face or heel powers once you accumulate enough. This makes this game an RPG with unique good/evil skill trees.

The face and heel powers are collectively known as crowd powers. Basically, the more the crowd is pumped up, the more powerful crowd power you can unleash. Some of the more serious powers includes "fury", which DOUBLES your action points (from 8 to 16!) and "iron hide" which renders you immune from damage altogether for 1 full turn. However, these can only be unleashed in the ring.

As the new wrestler, you need to play two matches, one against another contender, another against a veteran wrestler. Win both, and you'll be signed by Jim Cornette himself as a rookie. After that... sky is the limit! Can you win the tag team chapionpship, the X Division Championship, AND the Heavyweight Championship? You'll have to basically beat everybody else in the league... and learn a lot of combo moves and finishing moves along the way.

In the ring, graphics are good. Elbow drop looks like an elbow drop. DDT looks like a DDT. And so on. Simple direction pad chooses your actions, and each choice leads to further choices on a chain. Initially you are given four choices: pump the crowd, use crowd power, engage opponent, or leave ring (rest up). Once you choose to engage, you get choices like strike, kick, lock, or (back yourself against rope and use the bounce). Lock will lead you to more choices. Some moves use up action points, others don't. Some use up more than 1 point (up to 3). Thus, the moves you can do is limited by your action points. You can chain moves together into a combo move. If you can drop the enemy's stamina into red zone, you can go for a pin. If you drop enemy's stamina to zero, pin is automatically successful.

You and your opponent take turns attacking each other. When you're defending, you have four choices: do nothing (let the guy hit you), avoid, counter (do him some damage in return), or reverse (end his turn prematurely). All can be used only once (and when you learn crowd power, they can be recharged once each). Thus, saving them for special moments are critical. Using them at the wrong time would be wasting them, but not using them at all would be worse.

Sound is basic crowd noises, but when combined with simple yet effective animation, it's just what'd you'd expect at a wrestling match: over the top "good" vs. "evil". You can even throw your opponent out of the ring and club them over the head with a chair. Yes, you can do that. You can also do dives from posts, in or out of the ring. Face rakes, eye gouges... it's all here.

I must say this is one of the best mobile games I've played. Yes, I've made it all the way to heavyweight champion. You can too.

Overall rating: 9 out of 10 (!)
Pros: all wrestling, full RPG, lots of moves, lost of skills/powers
Cons: not enough documentation, can use better music and graphics

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Mobile Game Review of "Redneck Fishin'"

How does a redneck fish? With dynamite, of course! :) Does this game work? Well... good enough! Imagine that you, as the male half of a Redneck couple down in Louisiana somewhere, owes some taxes, so the sheriff came along and repo'ed a lot of your stuff. To get them back, you have to use the only skill you got... Fishing, redneck-style!

Each "level" means you have to make a certain number of dollars by killing the mostest fishies with the leastest sticks of dynamite. (Yes, I'm making redneck grammar errors here.) You can also hit powerups like moonshine (freezes all fish in river until next dynamite explosion), dynamite (gives you some free dynamite), powder charge (makes your kaboom extra-sized), but there are also nasty critters. Eels, for example, prevents your dynamite from going off. Crocs, on the other hand, are immune to dynamites. There are also turtles, which will COST you if you kill one. The larger the fish, the more $$$ it's worth, and further down they go. So the idea is to get the most fish with the amount of dynamite you have. It isn't as easy as it sounds.

Basically, you're in a boat that's on top, and below you, fishes, large and small, swims both leftwards and rightwards, in several "levels", while the largest fish crawl the bottommost level. Your left-right aim cursor scans left and right continuously, so just hit OK when you got to the right point. Then a "fuse meter" which is also the "depth meter" lets you decide how deep you want the dynamite to go off. Remember the fish are still moving while you decide. Hit OK again to throw the stick, and watch it drop to the appropriate depth, and boom! If you kill any fish, they go bottoms-up and float back to the surface, and automatically gathered and money counted toward your goal of the day (to get a certain item back). Obviously, the most kills you score with one stick, the better you will do.

The animation is cute enough but the fish is more of a caricature than realism like the ESPN fishing sim. Same for the characters (which looks more influenced by Japanese Anime than Redneck-style comic books). After you get the items back, you can go on an upgrade the items (which will serve as "expert level", like flatscreen TV instead of regular TV.

All in all, Redneck Fishin' is a cute little title from VUGames, that's a bit TOO cute and too little. However, the game is lively enough so that you won't get too bored to play. However, there isn't much more in the game.

Overall rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: simple to pickup, exciting to play
Cons: a bit TOO simple, no advanced difficulty level

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Mobile Game Review: "Get Cookin'"

Get Cookin' by "Glu" is one of those "clones" combines random minigames that had "something" to do with cooking. You need to perform the minigames as good as possible to "cook" the entree properly. Basically, you play "Dance Dance Revolution" and press the right button at the right time. Fun? I dunno.

The US items are cocktail, pizza, kebob, and clam chowder. Really? I didn't know those are items representative of American food... I'd expect something like chicken fried steak? There's also "France" and "China" items. Argh.

The minigames are way too easy on "easy". In only a few attempts, I'm 100 on all 12 items. While there are "medium" and "hard" difficulty levels, do you really want to repeat the minigames umpteenth times?

Sorry, but this game just didn't click for me at all. At least the sprites are clear and music not that annoying.

Overall rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: simple activities you can learn to do well
Cons: not really cooking, just playing "Simon"

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More Mobile Game Previews!

The Impact! Zone, where TNA currently holds mo...Image via Wikipedia This is a bonus issue, as we're previewing not three, but FIVE games!

Get Cookin' -- perform a series of minigames to create 4 entrees of each cuisine: American, Italian, and Chinese. Feels like a copy of Sushi Samurai reviewed earlier.

Redneck Fishin' -- How does a redneck fish? With dynamite. Yep... Drop dynamite into the lake and get the fish floating up. Hit the right depth though, and hit enough, since the sheriff just confiscated all your stuff for back taxes! Kinda fun...

TNA Wrestling -- One of the best wrestling games ever, no kidding. It's a full RPG, as you gain levels and special abilities depending on how good/evil (called face/heel in the game) you want to be. Use special 'crowd powers' to recharge, and perform all the famous wrestling moves. Can you make your way to the Heavyweight Championship belt, and deal with the betrayals and ambushes along the way?

SubMerged by Namco -- another Tetris variation, this one has no less than... 10 buttons, PLUS the direction pad. The "idea" is you're submerged, and you need to release "air bubbles" of sorts to merge with existing blocks. Lines are removed, the remaining "floats up" to form more lines... There are 4 modes: easy, normal, hard, and "endless". Hard to describe...

Jenga Mobile -- Jenga is that game where you remove sticks from stacks of 3, without letting it collapse. You play against AI, and there are special sticks like "wedged", "locked", "resistant", and "feather-light". This isn't as easy as it looks, but there are only 18-levels.

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Mobile Game Review of "Crash Bandicoot: Crash of Titans"

Okay, so Crash goes Zelda-like... He needs to travel around this "land" playing short levels to gather up keys in order to unlock the door that leads to the boss, and to the next section of the island. Whoopie-doo... (Sarcasm) The name comes from "Titans", the uber-robots that Dr. Cortex built by stealing the mask magic from the island. You'll need to chase Dr.Cortex, defeat the bosses (robots) in each section, and reclaim all the masks to "save the day". Is it exciting? Only if you have short attention span.

Crash Bandicoot here is a plain 2D game that plays like Streets of Rage, except you can "jump" pretty high. The enemies are pretty brain dead, and most of the challenge is from other factors, such as enemies that fly (so you have to "jump" to reach them). You can "jack" enemies by beat them up until they are stunned, then jump on top of them to "jack" them (i.e. control them) to do your bidding. Along the way, you must also collect plenty of wampums (the fruits) as they serve as your "upgrade" currency.

Some levels are straight beat-em-up where Crash shows off his punches, uppercuts, and other combos. However, it's pretty much mad-button-mash. Most of the challenge in the game is figuring out when to jump, when to jack someone, and other timing puzzles, such as the "flood" stage where a flood is seconds behind you, and you must outrun the wave or die. Fortunately, restart is just a button away, but some of these short levels can still be frustrating. And if you don't perform well enough in these levels, no key for you to advance to next section of island! Argh!

The animations are pretty fast, and Crash does have a bit of attitude which is what made him so refreshing from other tame characters. However, if that's all th excuse they have to have Crash do a long fight, it may be time to start another franchise.

Sound is typical arcade-y sound, and music is rather forgetable. Sprites are decently animated, and that's about it. Nothing really stands out in this game, and that's a shame. The gimmick of "jacking" is less novel and more cumbersome than one suspects. All in all, it's just not that good of a game.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Levels are short but lots of action
Cons: Way too repetitive, jacking isn't that fun

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Mobile Game Review of "Secret Agent Puzzles"

Secret Agent Puzzles is a rehash of an earlier title called "Detective Puzzles". Basically, there are a couple chapters of prose, and every once in a while you're required to play through a puzzle to advance the plot.

I hate to say this, but the writing is atrocious, the plot is horrendous, and the "choices" you do in the middle makes no sense. ARGH!

There are six minigames you can play:

Secret Pieces -- fit all the tangram pieces into a square before the clock runs out. Is that "secret-agent"-y? Nope.

Cocktails -- the bartender is slipping you a 'mickey'... Better pick the safe drink... Not as easy as you think, when it goes to 4 drinks instead of 3!

Countdown -- variation on Pipe Dream... connect all the positive terminals to all the negative terminals to defuse the bomb. The final one is just about impossible.

Chase -- you're on a speedboat but enemies are on jetskis... And they want you dead. Avoid the enemy bombs until you reach mouth of the river. VERY difficult.

Decoder -- given some symbols, you need to figure out which symbols stands for what. May be best of the bunch.

Assault -- assault enemy base, take out all enemies, while taking cover. Not a puzzle at all, more of an action-game segment.

All in all, some of the minigames are acceptable, others are atrocious. The plot gluing them together doesn't make sense. All in all, it's an attempt to show off a bunch of minigames that barely had a common theme. Together, they don't really make a game.

Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Six minigames to play
Cons: Plot that makes no sense, "compilation games" don't play well

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Mobile Game Review of "NCAA '09 by EA Sports"

NCAA '09 by EA Sports for mobile is a shrunk version of what powers the Madden '09 and NCAA '09. The 3D engine is pretty impressive... You can see most of the players on screen doing tackles and whatnot. And the version for LG enV (VX9900) made use of the extra screen real-estate quite well. The announcers have a few words to say, but they get repetitive. There only seems to be 4-5 moves per play type, so a lot still depends on reading the opposition and running the right plays. Animations are cute but gets repetitive as well. All in all, it is a fun game to try if your favorite team's included.

The game lets you setup a full season with your favorite team, set 3-, 5-, or full 15- minute quarters, and full college ball rules. There's a lot of game involved. However, the playbook is nowhere as complete as the console game, and no custom plays. You can do college level tricks like half-back pass, fake field goals, and all that.

The stats are pretty impressive. You don't get names and portraits, but each player and benchwarmers are rated by ability, and you can make substitutions for your favorite team before going into the game as a part of "front office" functions. Too many there isn't any injuries that force immediate substitutions.

Once in the game, the game plays like Madden pretty much. Hit OK to hike the ball, and watch the receivers to see who comes open (red, yellow, or green for open). Each is marked by arrow, so hit the direction pad in respective direction to pass. If you make it, you control the receiver and go for additional yards. If not, it's incomplete and you get to try again. Yes, you do get clock management now... You can try to run out the time, and the opposing team CAN and will use timeouts to stop the clock for their own use as well. Run game works similarly, except you need to make more moves such as dodges and pushoffs. If done right, you can break tackles and score big yards.

Defense is mostly done by AI as it's quite hard to manually sack the opposing QB. Pass protection is actually quite good. However, if you picked the right defense, enemy will usually lose yards. Again, it's partly a guess on how they'd respond to the situation.

Kicking is very simple... hit 1 to lineup the direction of shot, then hit 1 when you're at the right part of the power meter, and the kick is off!

As said before, the animation of players shrugging, high-fiving each other, and so on are good the first few times, then it gets boring. Announcers start to repeat their comments after a few plays... Argh.

All in all, NCAA'09 is a very impressive looking game... Until you look past all the chrome. Still, it is an impressive achievement for a mobile game. Worth a try at least, if you're into football, unless, of course, you get Madden '09 (mobile).

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (looks great, until you see the flaws)
Pros: everything's 3D, right uniforms, animations, commentary, etc.
Cons: short playbook, not enough animations, not enough commentary...
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Some more previews!

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 2:  Wondy Pierre-Louis #4, ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

NCAA'09 Football 3D (by EA Sports) -- the engine is full 3D, and this plays a bit like Madden. Choose from all the big names... From Clemson to Florida Gators, from Texas Longhorns to Cal Bears, most are here. Kicking is simple... Running and passing are harder but not impossible. Pick from the playbook, and the receivers will try to get open. Then you need to hit the one that's open while you're in "throw" mode... Took me 3 games to learn the controls so I can actually win a game... Needs a tutorial mode.

Secret Agent Puzzles -- not that interesting... basically a rehash of "Detective Puzzles" previously reviewed, now with a secret agent story that doesn't really make any sense. At least the puzzles attempts to be clever... But often fails miserably.

Crash Bandicoot: Clash of Titans -- Crash meets short levels and adventure map... The result is a lot of short levels and long frustrating boss battles. Argh.

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Mobile Game Review of "Toy Story Mania"

Toy Story Mania is actually a collection of several minigames where you play to earn 'tickets', and trade tickets for bonus items. I personally believe it's a lousy game.

You start with a few tickets, and you can use them to play various games to earn more. The games are basically your typical "carnival" type games.

Egg Toss -- basically a shooting gallery on a farm, shooting various items with eggs as you need to adjust "aim" and throw strength. You may have limited ammo as well.

Space Range -- actually a ring-toss, the reticule sweeps left and right at a constant pace. Press and hold to adjust throw range, release to release the ring. Ring as many targets as possible, may have limited ammo as well.

Balloon Land -- press a number corresponding to the item to move the crosshair toward it, and release to fire a dart. Hard to describe, even harder to play. The idea is to pop the balloons (and special targets0 as often as possible until time runs out.

Boot Camp -- another shooting gallery, this time with baseballs. Hit as many targets as you can, some are moving all over the place. And you need to reload the baseball cannon every 10 shots.

Wild West -- yet ANOTHER shooting gallery, this one with a wild-west theme. *Sigh*.

All games except the Balloon Land was very intuitive. Balloon Land required a bit more planning. Music is repetitive as heck.

All in all, the minigames are simple and are all reflex challenges (i.e. twitch games), and quite boring, to be honest. You need to play a LOT, and a LOT to win enough tickets to buy everything, as some of the stuff require over 100 tickets. I doubt many would have the patience to get 'every thing'.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: it does feel like Toy Story-ish
Cons: the minigames are boring and VERY difficult in higher difficulties
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Mobile Game review of "Ice Age: Mammoth Mayhem"

Ice Age trio returns for a game where the three, Manny the Mammoth, Sid the Sloth, and Diego the Smilodon (saber-toothed tiger), must combine their talents to save the various mammoth younglings separated by a flood. Is it fun? Hmmm... It's okay. It's actually quite simple as you can probably finish the whole game in a couple hours. Not sure how long it would hold a kid's attention.

The game is played in a 'top-down' view with some illusions of 3D. The mammoth younglings are all over the place, and often behind some sort of barrier or requires a bit of travel. There are no "radar" to tell you how close you are, so you will have to explore the map for them.

The levels are pretty well drawn. There are swamps and frozen areas and grasslands and such. Later levels gets a bit devious as you can't scroll around the map just to LOOK for the path, you actually have to send one of the three heroes there to see that portion, but not everyone can go everywhere, thus the challenge.

Basically, Manny has brute strength, and can push some boulders, and pull some other boulders. Sid can light fire to burn away some barriers, and can climb vines to reach some places no others can. Diego can use the claws to break purple crystal barriers, and can run really fast, even in a swamp, so he will never sink in. He can also jump from one plateau to another, and with Manny acting as a platform, he can jump between two far apart plateaus. Thus, by using talents of all three heroes, you must rescue all mammoth younglings (simply by touching them) before the clock expires.

As you can imagine, nothing can be that simple. Later levels added ice (you will slip and slide, and if you slide into the water, you lose half a life. If you used up all four lives, you need to restart the level. The swamps will prevent Manny from crossing unless the distance is quite short. So basically you must explore to find the paths, then backtrack to figure out how to get there. Doing all that while still stick within the time limits, is where experience and strategy comes into play.

The sprites are pretty well animated, and you do see the poor squirrel. There's also a bonus game of "gather the nuts" while you rescue the younglings. The more nuts you collect before rescuing all younglings (but before the time expires), the better your level rating. However, there is no 'high score' table at all.

Music is okay, but nothing too memorable here. Sound effects are minimal, and should stay that way.

All in all, Ice Age: Mammoth Mayhem is a very short, okay, shallow movie tie-in. It is way too short, as you can finish the whole game in a couple hours. There is also no reason to ever play this again, unless you really want to go for "A" rating on every level. Thus, this game gets a (-1.0) modifier for "short and lacking". What is there is some clever non-violent puzzle that has been done before, but at least the theme is right and material is properly used.

Overall rating: 6 out of 10 (includes -1.0 for short and shallow)
Pros: uses proper tie-in material, what's there is competently done
Cons: no innovation, way too short, done bazillion times already
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