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 "Great Legends: The Minotaur"

Theseus fighting the Minotaur by √Čtienne-Jules...Image via Wikipedia

While the description make it sound cool, the actual description will leave you severely disappointed.

GL:M is about the Minotaur, which is supposedly a beast that is so powerful and can't be killed, it was imprisoned in a maze. You get to penetrate the maze, avoid all the nasty stuff within, and save your girl, basically. In Ancient Greece, no less. While this sounds exciting, in reality this game is more closely related to Pac-Man (tm) than any adventure game.

You see, you get to run around this "maze", filled with deadly traps, nasties like Gorgons (which slows you down), and of course, the Minotaur himself. You need to collection 2 of the 4 keys scattered throughout the level. There are gold coins along the floor. Collect as many gold coins as you can, as well as the two out of four keys, and try to make it to the exit before Minotaur chases you down.

So what's the catch? You actually have unlimited lives, just a ticking clock. In other words, if you don't get to the exit in X seconds (a count-down is on screen) you get to restart the level. If you get hit for a trap, or struck down by minotaur, Daedalus will move you back to the closest revival point (a "blue lamp"). If you pass more blue lamps as you explore the maze (for more gold coins, of course) you will activate it, thus making it available should you need to be revived later.

There are also occasional "staircases" which act as "intra-level warp", taking you from one section of level to another.

Once you got two of the four available keys, the exit door opens, and minotaur appears, and he is fast, but he doesn't turn corners that well, so if you make turns quickly, you may stay ahead of it long enough to reach to exit and move onto the next level. However, that brings us to the biggest problem of the game... unresposive controls.

You see, in a game like this, responsive controls are a must. How else will you duck into the correct passageway without hitting the trap(s)? Yet this game's controls are laggy, and very painful to play. You see, your guy once he goes in one directlon, he doesn't stop. So if you press LEFT, he keeps running left until you give him some other input. Even Pac-Man (tm) doesn't do that. If you leave the stick untouched, Pac-Man doesn't move. This lousy control sceme makes doing precision moves all about the timing. One slight bit off, and you are toast. Why should a game be this intolerant of player?

There are occasional powerups like "super-speed", "invisible", and so on, but those are too little and too late. All in all, this game manage to ruin a good concept and turn it into something that's extremely derivative and fun-lacking.

Overall score: 3 out of 10 (lowest ever given!)
Pros: controls are simple, premise sounds cool
Cons: it's just dressed-up Pac-Man with lousy controls

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More June Previews!

The Sims 3 -- Sims 3 comes to the mobile as well as consoles and PC. Is it a major improvement over the old one? Or is this another "me-too" product just to waste your money?

Great Legends: The Minotaur -- sounds like a cool fighting game, in reality a modern variant of Pac-Man, nothing more.

Metal Gear Acid -- Snake of Metal Gear meets... Collectible card deck combat? In a tactical stealth game? Yep, this game is that weird, and it actually works!

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KMGR of "Red Faction: Guerilla" (mobile)

North American Windows coverImage via Wikipedia

Red Faction: Guerilla (mobile) is an adaptation of the latest variant of Red Faction, a game where you blow up things big time (deformable terrain, breakable buildings, and so on). It is any fun on a mobile? Well... sort of, but in a completely different way.

You see, Red Faction: Guerilla (just RF from now on) on the mobile is a 2D shooter, that's closer in spirit to PC's Crusader series (Crusader: No Remorse is the first game), mixed in with a bit of rhythm matching disguised as a vehicle shoot sequence, and a bit of timing puzzle disguised as a "sniper" sequence. It's not bad, it's just... very different.

RF as a 2D game is well done. All the missions (9 in all) are sorta based on the first person mode. You start with an assault rifle, and a hammer. Hammer is used to break open crates, doors, and barrels for stuff like ammo, first-aid, and so on. The gun is auto-aim, but you can switch targets. If you move close to an obstacle you can crouch behind it and pop-up to return fire. You can also dodge sideways while running (and the character will do a realistic roll and tuck). Later you get advanced weaponry like rocket launcher and railgun (they get fancier names inside the game, but you know what they are). There are also plenty of exploding barrels you can detonate via gunfire, staple of any PC shooter.

In each mission there are multiple "secret" areas hidden on the map that are often merely "difficult" or "obscure" spots to get to filled with goodies (ammo, first-aid, etc.). Finding them gives you a better score.

There are also occasional spots there you need to drive a driller and break down a wall. That part is easy: hold down the ENTER key to move the driller up to the wall, then tap the enter key to keep the bar in the center of the gauge. Hold it too long and the bar moves right, leave it unpressed too long and it moves left. Keep it in the green range and the drill will eventually break thru.

One more variation is the tank. Occasionally, you get to drive a tank, and it has coax machine gun and a main cannon (and run over things). All in isometric 2D, of course. Keep the tank on the road, and kill the rocket soldiers quickly before they wipe out your tank.

Finally, occasionally, the mission comes upon an area where you have to play "sniper". Enemies will pop up from one of four locations. When they do, press the corresponding arrow key, wait for the crosshair (moving up and down rapidly) to move "up" to top of the 4 dots, then press OK to shoot the guy in the head. If you miss, the guy will shoot back, and you can only take four hits (TOTAL).

As you can imagine, as you go further into the game, the difficulty starts ramping up. Enemies gets more numerous, cover starts to get scarce, and enemy starts to get far better equipped, such as rail gun (capable of killing you in 2 shots) and rocket launcher.

Each mission has a primary and a secondary objective... usually blowing something up (walk up to the item and press OK to drop a demo charge). Though the final fight features a fight with a VERY big and mad boss.

In 2 of the levels you get to play "Mad Max", where you need to shoot various things on the road... Either debris ahead, enemy on the left, or enemy on the right. As I said, it's all about the timing, not aimming skill.

All in all, RF is a fun little mobile shooter with some good action and not TOO frustrating to play. However, it's barely related to the "real" Red Faction. Just keep that in mind, and you won't be too disappointed.

Score: 7. 5 out of 10
Pros: decent 2D shooter, some good animation moves, responsive
Cons: sniper and mad max sequence feel out of place

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KMGR of "Monopoly Deal"

Card game, 1895Image via Wikipedia

Monopoly Deal is based on Monopoly, but is in fact a "card game". It moves much faster than regular Monopoly, and is actually an authorized product. The mobile version can be played in "adventure mode", "single game", or even "pass the phone" multiplayer. The game itself seems to rely a lot on chance, but also quite a bit of your knowledge of Monopoly, and the extra cards and rules adds a fair bit of interaction not found in the regular game. Recommended for casual gamer.

Monopoly Deal can be described as sort of "gin rummy" meets Monopoly. Each player receives five cards to start (and depending on which level, some starting capital). Each card can be money, property, rent, or special actions.

Any money card must be banked. Money is used to pay rent and special actions that require payments. However, ANY card with a denomination, even property cards, rent cards, and special action cards (except super wild card which has no denomination/value) can be banked for its value. Thus, if you have a rent card you can't use, you may want to bank it for some cash. Or if you have a property you don't really need, but may potentially benefit another player as it could be stolen or forced exchange, it may be better to bank it for its value rather than play it and risk it being taken.

Properties are regular Monopoly properties, except they are on cards, still have their original colors. The properties that borders two colors are considered "wild cards", and have TWO colors. The object of the game is be the first to collect THREE full sets of properties. This is where the knowledge of the game comesin handy, as you need to remember which properties have 2, 3, or even 4 cards, and thus, which to keep and which to bank. Yes, property cards can be banked for their value instead of played. And yes, there are super wild cards that can stand-in for any color (they look like rainbow, so sometimes they are known as rainbow cards). And as a nod to traditional Monopoly, you can add house card and hotel card, if you got them, to a complete set, further increasing their value.

Rent cards are played to collect rent from other players. Each rent card has two colors, so you have to choose one to play as. There is also a "rent wild card", where you can choose any color, and it'll even tell you how much rent to expect per color, but it affects only one player. Regular rent affect all players, so one way to win is to accumulate enough properties to collect a lot of rent, thus force the other player to turn over their all their assets. On the top level of play, if you are out of money, you are out of the game.

There's also a double rent card (which is technically a special action card, but it goes here better)... Doubling the rent you collect from the rent card, but that counts as one of the three actions per turn. So the max rent you can collect is 4X... Two double rent cards, and the actual rent card. If you collect a max full set (4 properties, plus house and hotel), you can potentially collect a LOT of rent.

Also, there are a lot of different denomination cards for the money, and in this game no change is given for payment. So if the rent is $2M, and you only have $1M and $3M cards, you have to pay with the $3M, and you don't get the extra $1M back.

It's the special actions that really sets the game apart, and those special actions are really interesting.

If you have a "no" card, actions can be refused. For example, you can refuse to pay rent, pay "debt" or birthday gift, even counter cards that steal property or even property sets. And yes, the "no" card itself can be countered by a "no" card as well.

There are cards that forces an exchange of property with you (forced deal), steals one property (sly deal), steals a whole set (deal breaker), steals one random card in other player's hand (lawsuit), and so on. There are also plenty of other excuses to collect money from other players, such as birthday ($2M from everybody else), debt collection ($5M from one), luxury tax ($2M for every "wildcard" you have), and so on.

So while collecting money is important (without which, you can't pay rent and other payments, and you'll have to pay with property), the objective is to collect properties to make three full sets. It's the in-between that makes things interesting. Clearly, you want to prevent people from making sets as much as possible.

The mechanics are simple. Each player starts with 5 cards. The play goes around in a circle. When it's a player's turn, that player draws 2 cards, and can play up to 3 cards (3 actions). If you have no cards in your hand, you draw 5 cards instead of 2. You can hold maximum of 7 cards. One of the special action cards is "draw two cards", which is in addition to the two you get per turn.

Again, the objective is to collect three full sets of properties. It's knowing which cards to play that is important. Between actions, you can flip the cards that can be flipped (such as property wild cards, if you want to make them sort on a different set), change super wild card's color, view your hand's detail as well as the other three player's played cards (including their banked amount and their played properties).

As you can imagine, the action can be quite wild, as one person then another complete a set, then another steal a property to make their set, then sets are stolen from one then another. The AI is surprisingly adept in making serious moves, such as squeeze play that chains two or three money events together, squeezing you dry of any cash or assets. And surprisingly, chance plays a much greater role than skill in this game. But then, Monopoly has always been a game of chance (roll of the dice). In my final game where I beat the highest level, I got such good cards that I squeezed out two opponents in the first round (forced them into bankruptcy), and I was able to defeat the last AI opponent.

The "adventure mode" has you play four sets of opponents of increasing difficulty, from regular home game all the way to exclusive social club (where you need to win 2 games out of 5). Winning is very difficult and you will be playing plenty of games before you can even win something.

The single game is just that... play a single game of the setup you wish. You can even choose the specific player you wish to play as (you start with one, and unlock more later).

Pass the phone is just that... you pass the phone back and forth as multiplayer against 2 other AI opponents. It's NOT a team effort, so don't hold back.

There are also achievements you can do, such as double negative (use a "no" on a "no"), win each difficulty level, complete the game, double double (double the double rent), and so on. Those are recorded as well.

The graphics are regular sprites, nothing too serious, just semi-realistic characters on the table. The animations are well done enough, and events like "full set" or "property" [played] are animated as well. Sound... is pretty much nonexistent except for the music (which I usually turn off).

All in all, Monopoly Deal is a fun variant of the original game, that is fast paced (most games don't last more than 10 turns) and has a lot of surprising twists and turns due to all those special action cards. If you like casual card games like Uno, you should enjoy Monopoly Deal.

Score: 8 out of 10
Pros: surprisingly fun little casual card game with familiar Monopoly properties and conventions
Cons: way more dependent on chance than you first suspect, higher levels VERY difficult

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KMGR of "Powerboat Challenge"

Buoy for sailing racesImage via Wikipedia

Powerboat Challenge is a fine looking title that offers a lot of play. There are four characters to play, several islands to unlock (each with multiple races), mutliple race types, and of course, lots of upgrades to the boat. Overall, it's a pretty good title. Not quite best ever, but certainly one of the better racing titles to come along in a while.

The initial load time is a bit long. You have to wait about 15 seconds to see the main menu on a LG enV (Vx9900). Then another few seconds after choosing "play game". You then choose among the 4 characters presented anime style. They are a black guy with big Afro, one Korean kid, one big Australian bruiser, and one Euro girl. Each has his or her own "home island" and often offer tart commentary like "this ain't no surf contest, go home" or "I hope you're a worthy opponent". You get the idea.

The race modes are pretty simple... a 2-lap 4-boat race, a time trial (race the clock), eliminator (last place of lap is eliminated), mini-tournament (4 pts for 1st place, max points in 3 laps win), time trial EX where you last as long as possible but the buoys switch sides periodically. And multi-race tournament (which can be composed of any other race types).

The race itself is relatively simple. You're supposed to go around the buoys. Go to the LEFT of red buoys, and RIGHT of green buoys. If you get REALLY close to the buoys (but still on the proper side) you get recharge of your "turbo". The closer you get, the more recharge you get, ranging from ok, to good, to perfect. And you will need to use those turbo boosts to get the best times. If you miss the buoy... you slow to a crawl, and you lose the turbo you've accumulated.

In the multi-boat races, the other boats can get really frisky, and it's better to keep your space rather than get in close and mix it up, as you can be pushed sideways and off the buoy. And you can only miss TWO buoys per race. Miss a third one, and you're disqualified (last place). Though the boats cannot be damaged, they slow down if you brush the shore, hit other boats, or even miss the buoys, and that's bad for your run. And you CAN get stuck on something, so there is a RESET button for the boat.

The upgrades all cost money... and there are four areas for improvements... engine, electronics, spoiler, and turbo. Spoiler enhances agility, while engine and electronics improve top speed and acceleration. Turbo enhances... turbo, of course. (improves boost duration). And the upgrade really do make a difference, especially the spoilers, which really enhances agility, and help you make those tight corners and get the best results. On the other hand, it's not clear which parts are cumulative and which parts are improvements (i.e. B is better than A, and replaces A, instead of having both A and B).

If a particular event is really beating you, you may want to go to a different island, win some events, earn some prize money, buy an upgrade or two, then come back to retry the event.

As each island has multiple events, each can earn bronze, silver, or gold, and there are multiple islands and multiple characters, this game does have a lot of replay value, as each race can turn out differently. However, replaying an event you've already won does not earn additional money.

Graphics are some of the best available on mobile phone. Game was reviewed on LG enV, not exactly a 3D powerhouse, but was able to do good 3D graphics in this case, powered by the Abyss Engine. All the objects have textures, and little details abound to convince you that you are on a 3D course. There are even options to turn off eye candy like lens flare and water reflections to further improve the frame rate.

However, the difficulty level seems to be a bit uneven. Even with the engine upgrades (3 out of 4), I get outpaced by AI boats at the third island. And I don't see how can I make enough money (another 2000) to afford the final engine upgrade in order to beat the AI. By comparison, the AI at first island is slower, and at 2nd island is an equal match in speed. So it's a rude surprise that the AI boats are actually faster.

All in all, this is one of the better racers out in recent days. If you can stand the odd difficulty level curves, you should get a kick out of this racer.

Score: 8 out of 10
Pros: nice graphics, full 3D, 4 playable characters and lots of race types
Cons: some boats are just NOT competitive, AI can be VERY hard to beat

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Some more previews for June...

Red Faction: Guerilla -- mobile version is a 2D isometric shooter (somewhat reminiscent of Diablo or even Crusader) with some alternate game modes. But is it any good?

Monopoly Deal -- Monopoly turned into a fast-paced card game, with plenty of AI opponents. Is it better? Or just another variation of the same theme?

Powerboat Challenge -- race against boats or the clock at various exotic islands, and upgrade your boat to take on the ultimate tournament. Is it thrilling, or just gets you wet?

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