About This Place

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

KMGR of Commandos

Allied Commando
Commandos is an old EIDOS 2D game that basically is a combat-oriented puzzle. The mobile version did not change much. The idea is command a team of different special operations soldiers in WW2 in enemy territory, performing various missions of sabotage, assassination, espionage, and such. The problem with this game is that the missions are too long, and lack of mid-mission save, makes the game WAY TOO frustrating, and the complexity is a turn off.

KMGR of Tricky Tracks

Crossing TowerImage by railsr4me via Flickr

Tricky Tracks is basically a puzzle where you have to "rotate" the different pieces of tracks to form a route for the train to go. The complication comes in that you may have to perform changes on the track WHILE the train is still moving (on a different part of the track)! What's more, there are also "switches" to play with as you try to manipulate the route of the train by diverting it onto a different track. Add a time limit, multiple levels of success, and you got yourself one tricky puzzler.

KMGR of Saboteur

The Saboteur from Pandemic Shown off at EA Pre...Image by Colony of Gamers via Flickr
Saboteur is a WW2 game where you play one of the resistance fighters taking the fight to the Nazis with your fists and some know-how with explosives and such. You will NOT be wielding guns (until the finale), as this is NOT a shooter. This is like Splinter Cell or Metal Gear, but in WW2. There are also console and PC version of this game. If you play the mobile version, you can unlock special hints and tips for the other versions. While the graphics is a bit on the primitive side, the action is fine and the tension is pretty high. Overall, it's a pretty fun little game.

KMGR of Blademaster

Swordsman by Hoang Trung ThanhImage by J0nB0n via Flickr

Blademaster is a new "action RPG" from MinorAxis, a South Korean developer that is doing very good work adapting games for their market to American markets. These games are full-fledged RPGs with large maps, plenty of quests, lots of items, TONS of monsters to kill left and right, and three classes of weapons to master (slayer [big sword], regular sword, dagger) plus special "magic moves", plenty of enhancements, even "intensify" your items... This can be sold for $15-20 if it is a computer game, so it's a bargain at less than $5 for a month! You're talking about 30-40 hours of play time PLUS "extra tough" hero mode... Only Minor Axis RPGs give you that much play time.

KMGR of "Conspiracy Theory: Area 51"

Aliens at Area 51!
While the title sounds like fun, the game is actually a "hidden objects" game pretending to be an adventure game. The game makes a joke of FBI, as these FBI agents break laws left and right, even overseas, and basically behaving like a couple idiotic criminals. The writing is lame, the scenario is lame, and the game itself is also lame. If you want hidden objects, you can do better than this.

KMGR of "Cooking Mama"

Cooking MamaImage via Wikipedia
Taito's Cooking Mama is one of the first "cooking sims" which basically have you repeat a bunch of keypresses, meant to simulate cooking on a console. It has since spawned multiple clones on the mobile, but also made its own way to mobile. Is it any good? Not really.

KMGR of Tony Hawk's VERT

Tony Hawk at the opening of the Mobash skate p...
Tony Hawk's VERT is a cartoony skateboarding stunt arcade game, combined with a "photo shoot" minigame. It is a pretty good game giving you a taste of the skateboarding scene using the "standard" U-shaped ramp, but presented in a cartoony way.

You start with just one venue, each venue has different events. The first event you have is the tutorial, which is pretty much 'follow the instructions', and you're introduced to the different stunts... the ramp lip moves, and the flying moves, then the advanced moves, which requires a lot more "air". So the idea basically is do as many different moves, go as "high" and get as much air as possible, and do as many moves as you can.

One of the minigames is to snap shots of another skateboarder. If you got the advanced moves, and the guy is centered in the frame, you get good points. If you're off center, or got the lame moves, you get like 1 or 2 points. You need to score X points within Y shots.

Each "event" has two levels of success... regular, and expert. Expert has additional stipulations. For example, finish the tutorial in 90 seconds, or complete the 2nd event without falling once, or fly high enough to hit the train 3 times, and so on.

KMGR of Red Bull Soapbox Race

Red Bull Soapbox RaceImage by pdgibson via Flickr
This game is not really about your typical soapbox racer, but rather a combination of keypresses. It's cute, it's customizable, but is it really soapbox race? I dunno. At least it is based on a real event.

When you begin, you need to customize your racer in terms of suspension and speed, durability, and such. The options doesn't seem to make THAT much of a difference though.

Then you need to perform a dance with your three racers. (No, I am NOT kidding) by pressing keys at random. (that's not in the real event that I know of)

Final previews of 2009...

Cooking MamaImage via Wikipedia

And there are a LOT of titles! Let's do a record... EIGHT games!

Red Bull Soapbox Race -- ever want to play a game of soapbox racer on a phone? Neither did I.

Tony Hawk's VERT -- a cartoony Tony Hawk game for the mobile

Cooking Mama -- is a cooking game actually any fun on a keypad?

Conspiracy Theory: Area 51 -- a "find the items" game with a non-sense plot

Blademaster -- BUY THIS RPG! You won't regret it! I swear! One of the best RPGs you can get on a mobile!

Saboteur -- the mobile version is not bad, and lets you get special hints about the console/PC version as well!

Tricky Tracks -- routing a train to its destination has never been more fun... or frustrating

Commandos -- the "team work" action puzzle for PC finally gets ported to the mobile... and got killed with a fatal bug

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KMGR of "Cro-Mag Rally"

Parilla engine demonstrated by Maranello and W...Image via Wikipedia
Cro-Mag Rally is badly named. While it's supposed to be a "rally" using "primitive" vehicles, it is really "Mariot Kart" in pre-historic drag.

You run around a circuit, and collect various "powerups" which you can shoot at fellow racers, any way to get ahead. There are only like 6 tracks, and 4 or 5 vehicles, and controls are a bit sensitive. You "can" skid in a corner, and in fact, one of the powerups is "spike tires" to enhance traction.

Looks are primitive, as it's supposed to, but that's about it. Unfortunately, seems the 3D engine itself is also primitive as heck. Objects flash in and out of existence, texture tears and breaks. AI vehicles don't drive as much as "floats", and staggers, and somehow they move as fast as you, and even sometimes, faster.

KMGR of "Scarface: Last Stand"

Scarface: Last Stand is a cover-and-shoot shooter adapted to the cellphone. As the title implies, this is based on the final shootout at the end of the movie Scarface.

Basically means you hit 0 to dodge, then 1 through 9 (in a 3x3 grid) to "shoot" at the enemies. You shoot lots of thugs, who will be shooting and throwing grenades and/or rockets at you. Try to shoot them in mid-air or else your cover will take too much damage. If you lose your cover, argh. If you stay hidden, your health and ammo replenishes.

The game is more arcadey as it even has power-ups. "Shoot" the powerups and you get special powers, like rage (insta-kill bullets), unlimited ammo, armor, explosive, grenades, and so on.

Kill level after level of bad guys, and eventually you'll reach the game's end, when the enemies just overwhelm you and you die. Of course, if you want more challenges, you can crank up the difficulty to even medium or hard.

There are achievements too... Like kill lots of thugs, kill 10 thugs with grenades, and so on.

KMGR of "World Crisis"

World Crisis is a turn-based strategy game where you must advance your faction's agenda on the continent through any means necessary: military, economy, or diplomacy. In other words, it's a standard 4X game, shrunk to the mobile, and it's a pretty decent game in that regard.

You can choose from any of the three factions available, each with a bonus. Iron guard, for example, has a +2 bonus to their infantry units. If you start a brand new game, you start with the Iron guard. There are just a handful of unit types, and only three resources. You can capture any of the resource points: oil rig (oil), naval yard (electricity), and warehouse (food), but only with infantry and artillery. Those resource points can be upgraded to raise their production but that needs resources too.

Capital itself can also perform research in military, economic, or diplomatic fronts, which will provide vast improvements if you want to dedicate a LOT of food and other resources toward the research. Those will give significant bonuses in various areas. For example, level 1 military research gets you 1 extra hitpoint on every infantry unit (12 to 13, or for Iron Guard, 14 to 15), while later items get you reduced production costs, increase production of resources, etc. You can set the research rate (i.e.how much to spend). Standard is 10, but you can go up to 50, which of course makes your research 5 times as fast. Capital itself can also be "upgraded" to increase production.

KMGR of "Planet 51: On the run"

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 24:  The directors of...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
P51 is a tie-in mobile game to the CGI movie "Planet 51", and it's a simple platformer that basically have you playing the two main characters as they try to resolve their own issues, jumping from house to house, collect some parts, avoid the, uh... whatever police and military, and get the poor sap to his capsule and go home. It doesn't seem that interesting overall.

From playing through two levels (out of a dozen or so) the game seems to be a standard platformer: jump from level to level, avoid the few "baddies", collect all the tokens and parts and such on the level, and get to the end, really, that's it. Chuck can stun the cops like Mario (tm) by jumping on them, while the kid can't. But other than that, there isn't much different between them.

Some more previews...

Planet 51Image via Wikipedia

Planet 51: On the run -- can Planet 51 be a fun platform game? Or is it a real stinker of a game?

World Crisis -- can a turn-based strategy game work on a mobile, or is that doomed to failure before it starts?

Scarface: Last Stand -- how does a duck-and-shoot shooter work on a mobile? And it is any fun to play?

Cro-Mag Rally -- is this prehistoric racer any fun or is it a clone of something else?

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KMGR of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" mobile

Modern Warfare 2Image via Wikipedia
Actually, the real title is "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Force Recon", and while it's marketed as COD:MW 2 mobile, it is actually completed UNRELATED to COD MW2. This is a normal 2D shooter with a completely unrelated story line. As a 2D shooter, it ain't bad, but there's nothing special about it, but it has a lousy storyline, and takes liberties with so many realities it's basically dumb.

The storyline is about a marine recon company's grunt... Some sort of major terrorist attack is taking over the city of Hermosilla Mexico, and the Mexican president asked the US for help, and the US sent in the Marines. The problem is the game is completely unauthentic when you look into the details.

First of all, you are issued what looks like an MP-5. Don't these game designers have researchers? Marines only issue M-16A4's to the grunts! And don't tell me that's some fancy new weapon like SCAR either.
Then there's this part about shooting "bazookas" at certain targets. Hello! Bazooka is a WW2 term! The REAL USMC light anti-tank weapon is the LAW rocket! (And that doesn't look like a LAW rocket either!)

KMGR of "Assassin's Creed II 3D"

Assassin's CreedImage via Wikipedia
Assassin's Creed II (3D) mobile is a fun little action number that's very similar to Prince of Persia (3D), considering that it's from the same publisher: Gameloft. The action this time is just as interesting, and this time the writers linked in more historical figures, such as the Medicis, Da Vinci, and more. The 3D engine this time allows more acrobatic moves, and a bit side-game. What's more there are also dramatic "kill moves" that shows you graphically of your special kills. The result is a good button pusher, if a bit on the mature subject side.

You are Eeio, whose family was wrongly put to death in a conspiracy. After discovering you are descendents of a cult of assassins, and you got the training, you befriended some of the best thinkers in Italy, who will help you get revenge on those who had wronged your family. Your first stop is to remove the judge that sent your family to death. He is in central square overseeing some more executions... and you will be helped by none other than Leonardo Da Vinci, who had hidden one of his flying wings for your getaway.

The actual game itself is a mix of Prince-of-Persia like blade combat that has attack vs. block, then jumping / climbing ledges, jumping from pole to pole, jumping off rooftops and bouncing off "trampolines", and so on while you collect "gems", which also tell you the path you should be taking.

KMGR of "Spore Creatures"

Spore CreaturesImage via Wikipedia
Spore Creatures is a variation on the Spore theme. In Spore Creatures, you play this "adventure" game where you decide you want to be nice or nasty, and basically "explore" this island, while gathering more and more DNA for your creature, get a collection of "parts", and decide on the eventual shape of your creature.

Spore has you start as a simple critter. You explore the island to find DNA pools, avoid nasty creatures, traps, and environmental dangers. Talk to other creatures, and either fight them for domination, or do the befriend routine and gain their trust by doing a simple DDR routine (up / down / left / right / center pattern matching). If you befriend the three creatures at each "submap" you will gain access to a new part. Defeating the "epic creature" at each map will gain you an epic ability. The idea is to explore the island, get all the DNA, defeat or befriend all creatures, and generally "win" the island.

KMGR of "GT Racing: Motor Academy"

Viper - SPEED World Challenge GT Race at MosportImage by ktpupp via Flickr
GT Racing: Motor Academy is another variation of GT Racing from Gameloft. This time, they decided to go for more of a Gran Turismo feel. The result is a pretty good driving sim that's more on the realistic side than most. Add a dozen cars, 6 tracks, 4 levels of "license", quite a few race types, and the result ain't bad!

Motor Academy gives you one car to start (a Citroen C4), and you're supposed to finish everything by buying cars and participate in multistage events. There are a lot of different race types, but some of which would be familiar to the Grand Turismo folks... The acceleration and brake test... Accelerate to top speed, then stop inside the end zone. How fast can you do it? There are even 3 levels of success... Gold, silver, and bronze. There are also "obstacle" (go through some openings in the walls, without hitting anything), curve challenge (go as fast as you can, but stay ON the track!) There's also race, duel, "tire test", and more.

KMGR of "Deer Hunter 3D"

The Deer HunterImage by Crowhand via Flickr
Deer Hunter is one of those programs that you didn't know people would actually buy for the PC. It was cheap to develop (reputedly for less than 50000 USD) and at $20 it was far more palatable and mature than those kiddie games to adults. And thus it started a "hunting game" subgenre from the shooters. How does this version fare for the Mobile? Quite well, but in a way, it is even MORE limiting, so it's a tradeoff.

For those who don't know Deer Hunter, basically you go on a hunting expedition. In this case, there are three locations: American Midwest, Northern Europe, and Western Russia. Each offers different terrain. You can choose 4 different difficulty levels, which affects the game you can hunt, and how much aim time you have. Finally, you can choose from variety of weapons: bolt rifle, shotgun, single-shot rifle, compound bow, black powder rifle, and finally, just for fun, AK-47. Locations, weapons, and difficulty levels are unlocked as you finish hunts at certain difficult levels and achieve some minimum scores.

KMGR of "ESPN Homerun Derby"

Vladimir Guerrero - 2007 MLB Baseball Home Run...
ESPN Homerun Derby (just "Derby" from now on) is a fun little game that does manage to teach you a little bit about baseball, and the multiplayer mode really puts it over the top. Except for the occasional graphics glitches, it may be one of the best mobile games available, even though it looks very childish.

As the name suggest, in Derby you are participating in a homerun derby event similar to those in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game related events.

In single-player, the rules are relatively simple: the pitcher can pitch anything he wants, as long as it's a strike... (and there are 9 different choices: fastball, change-up, knuckle ball, slider...) and you can swing high, middle, or low. The objective is to hit homeruns, or at least don't hit foul or get struck out. You have 10 pitches to accumulate as many "points" as you can. The points are determined by the distance you hit the ball (foul does not count). Only strikes and fouls will decrease the pitch available count (in other words, if you hit the ball and it stays in, you get another chance). You get bonus if you hit consecutive homeruns, or hit a "cycle" (hit homeruns into three different sections beyond the fence), and so on. When you ran out of pitches, you are given a score and the maximum distance you achieved.

More Previews! More Previews!

And yes, SIX previews this time!!!!!

ESPN Homerun Derby -- is hitting homeruns fun? Are you good enough? Kinda comical, but it works online with most WAP enabled phones

Deer Hunter 3D -- is this Deer Hunter the best ever? Is that good enough?

GT Racing: Motor Academy -- will you play a 2D-ish clone of Grand Turismo, on a mobile phone?

Spore Creatures -- Original Spore Mobile is a bit passive. Is this any better?

Assassins's Creed II 3D -- play AC2 on a mobile... Kill people, and avenge your family. Is that fun, or just fancy/shmancy?

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 -- is the mobile version any good? Or is it more of a marketing gimmick?

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KMGR of "Addiction"

Puyo PuyoImage via Wikipedia

Addiction has a cute name, and is interspersed with a comic book story about some cliche alien invasion, but it is actually just a variation of Puyo Pop, which is itself a variation on Tetris. As such, this game is derivative, but can be challenging.

The concept behind addiction is that you drop 2 attached balls, maybe different, maybe same colors. You can rotate the balls so it's vertical, horizontal, in 90 degree increments. There are on the game field some "fixed" blocks of various colors. If you drop balls onto blocks to form a "quad" (4 pieces in a row or column, all same color, ball or block), they'll disappear, and anything held up by them will "collapse" to the bottom. If you can chain these together, or make even LONGER combos, even better. You can slide the pieces as you drop them before they "settle in", and there is a "next piece" indicator, a LOT like Tetris or Puyo Pop, isn't it?

KMGR "South Park: Mega-Millionaire"

South ParkImage via Wikipedia

The South Park gang is here for a game... That makes fun of Japanese game shows, general American culture, and just about everything else they can, including offending a lot of people! The problem is the gameplay is unforgiving, and thus frustrating, and even the presence of "achievements" doesn't really help the game that much. If you dig that type of humor, AND have the reflexes of a cheetah, give it a try.

The premise of the game is simple... The four main kids from South Park are invited to compete on a game show called Mega Millionaire... A very Japanese style game show where physical challenges are the usual... There's a "meta-gameboard" where you move from square to square, finding out what challenge you have to master.

KMGR of "Breakspin"

Atari 2600 home version of Breakout.Image via Wikipedia

Breakspin mumbles something about the war between light and dark in a 2D universe. What it REALLY is... is a new variation of Breakout, where the "bricks" are round, often require multiple hits, and they explode in pretty confetti fashion. And there are random "creatures" that move about the playing field. Thus, the game is really quite derivative, though it is somewhat fun to play.

There are two versions of the playing field: the standard "Breakout" where you have a paddle at the bottom and you bounce this energy-ball to destroy the various "energy prisons" that are holding the "light creatures" hostage. The other version is the same idea, except the field is CIRCULAR, and you have two rotating paddles that you need to move around to keep the "ball" inside the circle.

KMGR of "Silent Hill Mobile 2"

Silent Hill Mobile 2 is another chapter in the psychological horror adventure. The idea is you are somehow caught between two worlds, the real world, and the "other world". The only way you will find out what is going on is to figure out how to travel between the two, then explore one world for items that can be used in the other world, and vice versa. Again, it's a story from multiple viewpoints in the same locations. If you dig this type of game, give it a try. On the other hand, on a mobile it seems to lose a lot of the "flavor".

The game starts creepy enough. There's a voice about "Karen" will take care of you. You woke up in a locker room, having no idea who you are or how you got there. You start to explore, and get clues and objects, which you then apply to various other items to open up more rooms and such.

There are actually two chapters, as you play as two separate persons. However, the interface is the same. Move mode lets you use the arrow keys to forward, turn left/right, or turn 180. Tap a key and you'll toggle between move mode and lookover mode. The lookover mode turns the cursor into a contextual pointer where you can then look or grab the object, or apply one of your inventory items to the object. One of the first objects you will pick up is the map, which you can access separately.

KMGR of "Disneyland Kart Racer"

:en:Space Mountain at :en:Disneyland in :en:Au...Space Mountain
Image via Wikipedia

Disneyland Kart Racer is a very derivative product... It's basically Mario Kart on Disney-esque tracks, with Disney characters, and not the usual ones you'd expect either. Instead, they had to do with the famous rides. The camera is horrendous. The controls are weird and unresponsive, and the result is a kart racing game that's both good and bad at the same time, and ends up as merely average.

The tracks in DKR are based on the rides at Disneyland, such as FantasyLand, Pirates of Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, and Space Mountain, and you get to race as some of the famous characters from those rides. However, I must admit that it's been decades since I've been there, and thus I don't recall any of these names: Jane (cowgirl?), Pete (pirate), Misty (sprite), Starman (space mountain, I guess), Ezra (zombie?), and Yeti (Big Thunder Mountain, of course). Each is rated differently in speed, acceleration, and strength, except those ratings and how they affect your race is NOT explained. The ONLY help in the game is which buttons controls what. As you win races, you may win stars which you can use to "improve" the character you're racing as. And different characters have different max for each of the 3 ratings. However, as there's no explanation on what they do, there's no much point is playing with the different stars, other than as another "achievement".

November previews, really! Lots of games in the review queue!

Daily Disney - Disneyland (Explored)Image by Joe Penniston via Flickr

And here's are just a bit of the taste...

Disney Kart Racer -- will you play a Kart Racer (like Mario Kart) with characters based on Disney rides, not the FAMOUS Disney characters?

Silent Hill Mobile II -- will you be scared by a game on a cell phone? Or is this medium not scary enough?

Breakspin -- breakout variation described as war between light and darkness in a 2D universe...

South Park: Mega Millionaire -- South Park gang of four in a Japanese-style game show... More Mario than South Park though...

Addiction -- sounds cool, plays like Puyo Puyo with cliche comic panels.

And there are five more for the next preview set... so, stay tuned!

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KMGR of "Cataan: First Island"

SettlersImage by Sam Judson via Flickr
Cataan: First Island is based on the classic boardgame "Settlers of Cataan". You play against up to 3 other AI players, gather resources, build roads and settlements, rob each other with "the robber", trade resources with each other in other to do the other activities, and try to accumulate 10 "victory points" to win the island.

The graphics are functional. I have a somewhat difficult time trying to remember which hexes produce which resources, which resources do I have, and what resources do I actually need to build / buy stuff. Not that the game was complicated, just that with FIVE resources to track, and "harvest" is dependent on the dice throw, you never really know what will show up, and what to really go after initially. Thus, trade becomes a very important part of the game, as AI will trade with each other, and you can trade with the AI as well. You can also trade with the "bank" at a severe loss (like ratio of 4:1, though that can be improved by controller more harbors).

KMGR of "Kill All Bugs!"

LONDON - OCTOBER 25:  Artist Elizabeth Thompso...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Kill all Bugs! is an adaptation of the "tower defense" genre where you are tasked to defend the cities from giant mutant insects by building various defense towers (gun, laser wall, stun, napalm, missile, generator) of varying costs. The game play is classic, but the variation is pretty good.

The game gives you 21 missions rather than infinite number of levels, though there's also the survival mode, where you last as long as you can against wave after wave of bugs. The game ratchets up the difficulty by giving you special bugs like those that can go through forests, go through mountains, and so on, different speed, different hit points... more in numbers... And every once in a while you get a special level where you have to last long enough until the bombers arrive to bomb all the bugs to oblivion. You get "upgrades" as well... if you put in certain combinations of towers, called "fortifications" in the game, you get special bonuses, and those are important later on when you're limited to certain combinations or limited budget.

KMGR of "Sherlock Holmes Classic Cases"

UK - London - Marylebone: The Great Detective ...Image by wallyg via Flickr
While the name says Sherlock Holmes, and the stories are adapted from some of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle stories, the game is actually a "find the differences" and "find the hidden objects" game, where you need to locate the differences or all the objects named without spending too much time at time.

The locations do match up with the various stories somewhat, but this is pretty much just like another game I've played recently, on the PC, also with Holmes and Watson, also with finding hidden objects and/or differences. Thus, I am afraid I am not too impressed with the genre.

At least the objects are rather obvious, not totally hidden away, though sometimes disguised well enough so you don't pay them too much attention.

There are three cases and a tutorial built into the game (the individual case files needs to be downloaded and may incur additional bandwidth charges). Supposedly more cases will become available for download later. The three cases now are based on three of classic Sherlock Holmes stories, like "The Read-Headed Society".

KMGR of "Maple Story: Warrior"

MapleStoryImage via Wikipedia
Maple Story is one of those cute Asian-style 2D "action-y" RPGs that were quite popular. Unfortunately, it seems that nobody actually TESTED the playability of the game on a real mobile, making the game almost unplayable about half way into the game.

You start as a pretty wimpy warrior, no specialization, just a 'club'. There's some bleh plot about your parents are missing for 10 years and you need to find them. You can also get various gifts from others, some of which pokes fun at the game itself. You need to practice a bit by wacking some evil snails just outside of town. There is only ONE attack key, though there are no less than SIX different movement keys: up / down / left / right, and jump left / right. There is only ONE attack, and it actually has a facing. Basically, don't let any enemies touch you, or you'll get hurt. You can also get hurt by falling off ropes into bottomless pits, but that's a different problem. The point is, at time you feel like Super Mario, jumping around. In fact, some of the enemies you whack are mushrooms. Yes, mushrooms.

KMGR of "House M.D."

The main characters of season five of House, l...Image via Wikipedia

House M.D. is about a cranky but very good doctor in a hospital saving patients, giving life's lessons and learning a few at the same time. So does it translate into a game? Sort of. You may think this is a medical diagnosis game, but in reality, this is a puzzle in the vein of Clue or Inspector Parker.

The game has four difficulty levels: Clinic, Intern, Resident, and Doctor, which gives you

Clinic: 2 x 2 blocks with 2 choices per square

Intern: 3 x 3 blocks with 3 choices per square

Resident: 3 x 4 blocks with 3 choices per square

Doctor: 4 x 4 blocks with 4 choices per square

Coming soon, more reviews!

House (TV series)Image via Wikipedia

House M.D. -- can you make a game about a bunch of doctors without needing any medical knowledge?

Maple Story: Warrior -- would you really want to play Maple Story on a mobile?

Sherlock Holmes Classic Cases -- does finding hidden objects really count as "solving" a case?

Kill All Bugs! -- tower defense, giant insects menacing mankind, what more can you ask for?

Cataan: First Island -- Settlers of Cataan comes to mobile... way too complicated, or fine port?

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KMGR of "Carmen Sandiego, Where in the World is"

Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?Image via Wikipedia

Ah, Carmen Sandiego, a game that has introduced a generation of kids to computer learning. The premise is simple: As the newest detective of ACME Detective Agency, the chief has summoned you to an urgent request... something was stolen in Paris and you need to go find it! Thus started the quest for you... The mobile version is a fine port of the game where you will learn a lot of trivial facts about a lot of countries and their capitals.

You need to arrest the various henchmen (and henchwomen) that are committing these crimes for Carmen, by chasing them all over the world, using clues to both establish the identity of the thief as well as their next destination. Recover the artifacts, and perhaps, figure out why Carmen Sandiego wants those items. But what is the ACME chief hiding?

KMGR of "Cops"

The Los Angeles Police Department sealImage via Wikipedia

"Cops" is obviously trying to evoke the "feeling" of the TV show, and has a lot of LAPD trivia, but it is NOT really based on LAPD, more of "inspired by".

It definitely tries to be all things to all people, with a bit of puzzle, bit of run-and-gun, a bit of driving, and bit of adventure. You play as multiple officer: a veteran, two rookies, and a plain-clothes detective. Together you'll deal with a lot of different situations, from crazed gunman, to hostage situation, supermarket robbery, rescue, freeway chase, undercover work, and more.

The graphics are cartoony. Think first-generation King's Quest / Police Quest sort of graphics, except on a cellphone. And the cops wear blue uniforms with a white shirt and tie, definitely not the real LAPD, even though the vehicles say LAPD on them, really.

KMGR of Need for Speed: Shift

TOKYO - DECEMBER 05:  Actress Ryoko Yonekura a...Nissan GT-R  Image by Getty Images via Daylife

NFS: Shift is yet another game in the NFS franchise, and this one gets away from any sort of street racing and more inline with NFS: ProStreet, where all the racing are on sanctioned courses. However, NFS: ProStreet mobile was badly tuned and WAY too easy. The mobile version of NFS: Shift is much better, as it is based on the graphics engine that also powered the nicely rendered NFS: Undercover (mobile). The result is a pretty satisfying mobile racer with excellent visuals.

NFS: Shift starts you in the Mitsu Evo X, already in racing trim, and let you compete in the City and Sands Tour, the easiest out of three tours. Each tour consists of many races of various types. There are regular Circuit, ELimination (last place per lap is eliminated), Driver Duel, Drift, Time Attack, Battle, and so on. What is unique is there are MANY different levels of success... For each race, you can earn up to three GOLD stars for winning. Often, 1st place gets you 3 stars, or fastest time, and so on. Alternatively, you can also race for profile points by performing aggressive moves (like bumping, use a lot of nitro, etc.) as well as performing drifts. You can get up to two blue stars per event via profile points. What's more, they need not be done in the same race! (i.e. win in one race, get the blue stars in another) The criteria for stars are listed on the race event info screen as you decide to join the race or not (and in the "goal" choice when you're in the race). If you win all the gold stars (or enough stars equal to the number of gold stars) you win the tour's bronze trophy. If you win more, you get silver trophy. If you win ALL stars, you get the gold trophy. As there are THREE tours, each with 8 races, AND plenty of cars, this program is definitely NOT shallow.

KMGR of "Zombieland"

Zombies at ZombielandImage by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

Zombieland's premise is simple enough... land overran by zombies, and the few survivors scrapping out a living by salvaging what they can and kill zombies in the meantime. Zombieland itself is an action game that features a relatively novel interface... two separate fire buttons for attacking left or right, and ability to move in one directly while attacking in another. This is basically zombie killing all the way. Is it fun? Yes, in a very "campy" sort of way.

Basically, this is a horizontal scroller. You move left or right. Zombies can appear from either side, and sometimes climb through windows or whatnot to get close to you. Some are fast, some are slow. All want a piece of you. You have various weapons... physical weapons, and guns. None last forever. Physical weapons can be damaged beyond repair. Guns can run out of ammo. It's best to time your hits as a headshot is an insta-kill, whereas chest shots may require multiple hits. You have to break open chests to find more weapons, ammo, and health packs. Some levels require you to climb and jump a little, but most of the action is killing zombies. In fact, the way the game works reminds me a lot of elevator action, the old arcade game, as you switch between sub-levels.

KMGR of "Crazy Taxi"

The player follows the on-screen arrow to deli...Crazy Taxi (console)  Image via Wikipedia
Crazy Taxi (CT) is a third-person driving game where your objective is to deliver a lot of people who need rides to their destinations. During the trip, you can perform stunts and dangerous moves which will net you more $$$. The objective is to make as much $$$ as possible within a time limit. There are several time modes (fixed time limit, or every successful job adds a few seconds back on the clock), seeral different taxis (each is good in something but not others, or a general all-around-er). Crazy Taxi FINALLY makes it to the mobile phone world. Is it any good? Or is it too little too late? A bit of both, actually.

The actual game is 3D, and the frame rate is decent, but still nowhere as smooth as on a console. The idea is roam the city and look for people who need rides (cicle above them, 3 colors indicate near, medium, or long distance jobs). Stop next to them, they'll get in, then a nav-arrow will point the way you need to go. Then on the way, you perform stunts like drift around corners, jumps, cut very close to other cars, and try to chain the bonuses together for multipliers. Once you get to the destination, stop in the green zone and you'll get a rating: slow, okay, or speedy. Go TOO slow, and the customer will demand getting OUT of your taxi, then you get NOTHING!

Okay, here are the October previews...

The Crazy Taxi LogoCrazy Taxi Logo Image via Wikipedia

Crazy Taxi
-- is this just as fun on a mobile, or is it a poor conversion that doesn't do justice to the original?

Zombieland -- is smacking zombies with various weapons is your idea of fun, then this is your game, with a unique control interface!

Need for Speed: Shift -- buy this mobile racer if you like the game genre, really. You won't regret it. Hall of fame material!

Cops -- Not the Fox TV reality show, but just a cop game where you play as some LAPD guys dealing with various crimes and misadventures, more Hollywood than reality.

Carmen Sandiego (Where in the World is) -- the long-standing edu-tainment game finally reaches mobile... And it's still the same.

KMGR of "Red Alert" mobile

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 cover (Windows ...Image via Wikipedia

Red Alert is one of the best alternatively history RTS games on the PC, where Einstein went back in time to kill Hitler, and managed to start the Cold War early, except it got hot, and strange weapons like Tesla guns, Chronospheres and Chronotroopers, and so on are now part of the arsenal. The mobile version manage to shrink a lot of that down to the phone, but is it playable? The result is surprisingly, yes, though some missions are extremely frustrating, or almost impossible.

There are two types of missions in RA... the "lone-wolf" missions where you control a single unit, either Tanya on the Allied side, or Natascha on the Soviet side. Both are super-commandoes and will easily take out most enemies... except vehicles and turrets. The problem, of course, is trying to sneak through somewhere that's nearly impossible! In the other type of mission, you are actually playing the RTS... build structures, harvest resources, defend your territory, build units, and use your units, split into 2 squads, and smash the enemy defenses, and eventually wipe out their base.

What's more both sides can build special structures and call down "special weapons", like an airstrike, or chronosphere teleportation, and so on.

The graphics are limited by the phone's capability, but it definitely DID feel like an RTS, albeit a somewhat simplified one. Still, most of the tech tree is there, and the flavor is maintained. The 2D isometric view is quite functional but more reminscentof the first C&C rather than the current  Red Alert 3.

KMGR of "Resident Evil: Uprising"

A map of Raccoon City.Image via Wikipedia

RE: Uprising is an isometric action/RPG where you control Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy as they attempt to survive the zombie onslaughter caused by yet another outbreak in Raccoon City, dodge "Nemesis II", search and locate items which you used to solve puzzles (and get more pieces). As a result, the game feels more frustrating than interesting at times. Controls are clunky, unresponsive, and generally painful to use, and the puzzles positively obtuse. It's as if the game designers decided that the players are barely smarter than the zombies.

The beginning is intriguing enough. Claire Redfield, a young girl related to one of the main Resident Evil characters, was told to go to the Raccon City Police HQ if anything goes wrong, and it certainly has. When she arrived, she found the place empty... Until zombies start chasing her. Fortunately for her, Leon Kenney is on the scene (how?) and dispatched the zombies. Now they have to combine forces to figure a way out of the city by somehow accessing the subway tunnels.

The game has an isometric viewpoint, and is actually real-time, albeit slow. If there are enemies, your gun is drawn automatically (you can choose manual mode too). Then if you are pointed in the right way, and are in range, click OK the gun meter will appear, and the bar goes up slowly. Try to stop the bar at the right place and you get a "headshot". Of course, it can get exciting when 4-5 zombies come after you. Keep in mind that bullets are limited so don't waste any...

KMGR of "Nitro Street Racing 2"

COLOGNE, GERMANY - AUGUST 19:  A visitor plays...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Nitro Street Racing 2 is a sequel to the origina NitroRacing by Gameloft, and this time, it truly is MOTS (more of the same), albeit tweaked. The result is a decent racer, but with "city scapes" and some sort of choice when it comes ot the actual route, that made it a combination of most racing games. The end result is a bit of chop suey: a little of everything, but not all they added are fun.

The game gives you access to ONE car to start, but as you gain "levels" (by earning street creds via missions and winning races) you'll get access to more, and of course, none of the cars are free. You will need to pay for them using your "winnings". There are also plenty of parts to upgrade, though you unlcok them one or two items at a time. However, money is a bit too easy to come by in this game, and many of the parts makes no sense.

KMGR of "Madden NFL 10" (mobile)

From an American football game between the Ten...Image via Wikipedia
Madden NFL 10 is mostly the same game as the previous one, but tuned to be a bit more realistic, more backoffice options, and slightly better graphics. It is still the best American football game on a mobile, bar none.

For those who haven't played Madden NFL 10, this is a full 3D game very similar to the version available on the consoles, as least superficially. The third-person / behind perspective gives you full view of what's possible. Press the action key, and your player can select from a variety of moves, depending on the context and player's ratings. Moves include dive (get a few more yards), spin (dodge a tackler), change direction, hurdle, power, showboat, stiffarm, and that's just for offense!

Okay, some September Reviews...

Command & Conquer: Red AlertImage via Wikipedia

Just in time for Labor Day... More mobile game reviews!

Madden NFL 10 (mobile) -- Does Madden still reign supreme on the football game front? Or is this just MOTS (more of the same)?

Nitro Street Racing 2 -- can a basic 2D racing game actually feel like a city, complete with missions, races, a plot, upgrades, and more?

Command and Conquer: Red Alert (mobile) -- can you really do an RTS on a mobile? Or is this basically a pretender?

Resident Evil: Uprising -- do you really need another isometric RE game for the mobile?

KMGR of "G.I. Joe" (the mobile game)

G.I. Joe, 12" TorchImage by TCM Hitchhiker via Flickr
G.I. Joe the mobile game is technically a sequel, not a tie in. You're playing Duke, Ripcord, and Scarlet chasing down Destro and more stolen arms and whatnot in a 2D game that plays either as a platform game (where move through the level like Super Mario [tm]) or a 2D top-down shooter (1942 [tm]). Is it fun? I don't know. It just feels so... derivative.

In the platform sequence, you start as one of the three, clad in Accelerator Suit. You can switch among any of the three at a "checkpoint terminal". Each is equippd with the suit gatling, a pulse cannon, and a special weapon with 5 shots. Duke has a sniper rifle, Ripcord has grenades, and Scarlet get an EMP gun. They have to make their way through various enemies, such as enemy soldiers, auto turrets, stinkbombs (actually, some sort of green blob kamikaze), and plenty of environmental traps.

KMGR of G-Force

SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 27:  Guinea Pigs sit in a...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

G-Force is a Disney movie about a bunch of rodents trained as secret agents. The game acts as a prequel, where the crew gets some Virtual Reality training. It is basically a "group-based puzzle", where each member is good at one thing and you have to cooperate in order to solve things. It is a cute 2D puzzle with some "flow puzzle" thrown in as "hacking" sequence. Overall, it's a fine little diversion, though sometimes it's a bit frustrating.

The game features three of the crew: Darwin, the smartie and the hacker, Juarez, the bruiser, and Blaster, the weapon specialist. They are usually in radio contact with Speckles back at HQ for some dialog to advance the plot. You start with Darwin alone, but later may get access to help and switch among them as needed. Actions are very simple: move to something, press OK to act upon it. There are some weapons for Juarez and Blaster, but Darwin has no weapons, and relies on his smarts.

Often, the "mission" requires one to open various locked doors by hacking some terminals, locks, and so on, which will give you access to yet more doors and locks, and so on. You hack a door by diverting the signal from one end to another, but without routing power into one of the alarm nodes, by adjusting the node's direction (rotatable both clockwise and counter-clockwise) in 60 degree increments. There is no time limit, so even though some are quite complicated, if you are careful these puzzles aren't that hard. [Hint: work backwards, and turn the nodes around the alarm nodes OUTWARD to isolate them]

Others rely on timing, such as using "speed shoes" to get through some doors that are open only for short period of time, other involves activating multiple switches as fast as possible using what you have at hand. Some puzzles are odd, but hardly impossible, once you figure out where to apply a certain rodent's powers. And as there is no score, other than completion, you can retry as many times as possible.

All in all, G-Force is a cute little "group puzzle" that has nice pacing, though sometimes the "rules" of the mission isn't as clear as it can be.

Overall score: 7 out of 10
Pros: nic epacing, nice puzzles, relatively forgiving
Cons: nothing really new, cannot skip intro dialog before missions or ending, no in-mission save or checkpoints
Verdict: not a bad tie-in, but could use a bit more "hint" at some missions

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