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 "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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KMGR of "Spy Hunter"

Screenshot of the ZX Spectrum portImage via Wikipedia

KMGR of Spy Hunter

Spy Hunter was an arcade classic as it tapped into the James Bond mentality of gadget cars with lots of weapons shooting bad guys. However, it came out decades ago. The new version is not bad, except for the wrong orientation, and you get an alternate version as well. Not too bad for an overall package...

Spy Hunter is a vertical shooter. You control a super-car with machine gun, and you can get sub-weapons if you survive long enough to get to a weapons truck. The subweapons are more powerful, but your enemies are many... Slicers, rammers, gunships, gunners... and innocent civilian cars on the road, so don't be TOO gun happy.

This version offers an alternate "enhanced mode", which has better graphics, 3-stage damage meter (your car can take 3 hits before getting destroyed) and some super-weapons to be unlocked.

The problem with this version is the perspective. My LG enV has a horizontal (landscape) screen, but Spy Hunter is a VERTICAL (portrait) screen game in the arcades. If you keep the car the same scale, the the speed will be wrong, and/or you don't get enough distance to "see ahead" to give you time to react.

On the other hand, everything else is authentic, and the Peter Gunn theme is here. The classic version has that 8-bit graphics feel, while the enhanced version looks suitably modern and clean and crisp. Controls are good enough. Sound effects cut out sometimes as sounds can't "mix".

Controls are okay, but doesn't quite offers the PRECISE controls needed to dodge other cars on narrow roads, or to bounce another car off the road without crashing out yourself.

All in all, this package is not a bad port, except for the weird scale issue. 7 out of 10.

Overall score: 7 out of 10
Pros: mostly authentic port, plus an "enhanced" version to play with as well
Cons: portrait game adapted to landscape screen means wrong scale for the vehicles
Verdict: not a bad port, but somehow misses the flavor of the original

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More August Previews!

Spy HunterImage via Wikipedia

Watch out for reviews of the following mobile games:

Hollywood Hotel -- at the Hollywood Hotel, you will find full of puns, caricatures, and much more. At its heart, it's an isometric puzzle...

Spy Hunter -- is this latest mobile port more James Bond or more Get Smart?

G-Force -- the Disney CGI movie is cute, but is the mobile game any good?

G.I. Joe -- the special UN strike team fighting the evil forces of Cobra... and a tie-in for the movie. But how does it play?

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KMGR of "99 Ninjas"

NinjaImage via Wikipedia

99 Ninjas is a platform game where you play a ninja with graphppling hook, throwing star, sword, crounch, jump, wall climb, and so on. While the tutorial levels are quite educational, the game simply has too many things for you to learn overall.

In the first tutorial level, you get a lot of chance to learn wall-stand (like Spiderman, resting on a wall), as well as grappling hook fly (again like Spiderman). On the 2nd tutorial level a throwing-star proof enemy was suddenly introduced without any explanation, and suddenly you're told to do a Mary Poppins impression by gliding to earth with an umbrella, but avoid the spikes.

The graphics are rather cute, but some parts feel out of place. You, the hero ninja, is drawn a bit anime caricature style... What Japanese would call "super-deformed", wearing red ninja suit. Your master seems to be either riding a flying carpet or a flyign sled, neither of which makes any sense. A bunch of Japanese girls wearing kimonos and Japanese paper umbrella are walking around ready to give you hints (huh?) and a bunch of "practice ninjas" you need to take out populate the levels.

The background is busy, perhaps a bit TOO busy... random swords adorn the walls, and kanji scrolls and paper windows, and so on. This was supposd to be a ninja dojo, but looks nothing like a ninja dojo, except in American ninja movies. :D

Action is a bit on the frenetic side, as it's more exploration than fighting, and unfortunately, that sort of defeats the idea, as the premise of the game is to defeat an evil warlord attempting to re-assemble an ultimate power sword. I was expecting more fighting, less Super Mario, and I am disappointed.

All in all, this game is jsut a platform game, albeit a cute one. Though the exploration aspect overwhelms the fighting aspects, and that goes against the theme of a ninja game.

Overall score: 6.5 out of 10
Pros: cute ninja action, lots of moves this ninja can do
Cons: too much exploration, not enough fighting
Verdict: SuperMario in ninja drag, if you like that sort of stuff.

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KMGR of "1942"

P-38 Orlando, Fla. - Barely visible beneath th...Image via Wikipedia

Ah, 1942... One of the better known arcade games from Midway... Control one of the best allied fighter plane and shoot your way across the Pacific and destroy the Japanese Navy after Pearl Harbor. Now that it has gotten a mobile port, is it any good? Unfortunately, no, at least not this particular version.

1942 is a vertical shooter... You "fly up" the screen, enemies come down the screen. Well, you get the idea. Occaisonally some enemy bombers come along, and at the end of level you need to shoot down a "boss", could be air target or surface target. During the fight you can pick up different weapons, which includes heavy MG, fast MG, "shotgun", and so on. In emergencies you can do a "bomb and loop", which is equivalent to a "nuke em all" (destroys all enemies on screen except bosses).

The problem with the port is... Various problems... My LG enV has a "landscape" screen, but 1942 was meant to be played on a "portrait" screen. Thus, the action is very squashed, but the planes look normal, so the scale is completely wrong. Second, the pace is also completely wrong. I have played 1942 in arcades, and this game is WAY TOO SLOW. Third, the power-up icons are WAY TOO SMALL, so you can't see which weapon you're picking up. This causes are LOT of problems as some weapons are much better for other sections than others. Also, this multi-weapon feature was NOT really 1942, but actually introduced in its sequel, 1943, so this is NOT an authentic port. The ability to "choose" among 3 different planes (P-38 Lightning, Dehaviland Mosquito, Japanese Kaizen?) adds to that.

The actual play is not that bad... But enemies are not varied enough. The "bonus" formations that you shoot for powerups are not shown separately from the regulars. What the heck is a "battleship cruiser"? How can I be flying so slow so I'm almost hovering? No escorts? A SUBMARINE that can go as fast as a plane? A railroad gun car that can do the same? Typical problem wtih such "bosses". WAY too powerful.

And that "railroad gun car" has a "flame thrower" (!?) that shoots 3 streams of fire that "sweeps" the screen. You can't move fast enough to dodge it. Maybe in that very weak but very fast plane, but what's the point in sending up an enemy that' can't be beat? And it has four additional turrets that are armored, and invulnerable until it opens to take a shot. Why can't I just bomb the rails to stop it, then bomb it from high altitude? Huh? But then that wouldn't be "fun", right?

The bosses aren't authentic either. The super-bomber appeared more than once, the "battleship cruiser" appeared more than once. No fun, man, no fun! Some levels didn't even HAVE bosses!

The graphics are okay, but as explained before, the planes seem to have the wrong scale, the "speed" seems to be wrong, and the sound doesn't help much. No anti-air except for the occasional tanks and patrol boats.

All in all, this weird combination of 1942 and 1943 isn't that much fun to actually play. The way-too-small power-ups makes the game a lot less fun than it could be.

Overall rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: seems to be more 1943 and than 1942 with multiple starting planes and powerups
Cons: scale wrong, speed wrong, powerups way too small, overall just not fun
Verdict: Arcade classic got some weird revisions that looks like the original, but doesn't play like the original.

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KMGR of Stratego Fortress

Stratego boardImage via Wikipedia

Stratego Fortress, despite the name, has nothing to do with Stratego (tm) at all, nor does it really have anything to do with a Fortress. Instead, this game is basically a "random exploration" game that has you doing trial and error, and that is not a GAME, but rather, dice throws, with none of the charm of a puzzle.

Imagine this: the playing field has 3 "levels", the higher you are, the smaller the field. You have the following units: knight, king, wizard, dwarf. A flag is randomly hidden in a square among the 3 levels. Explore the level with your 4 units (one at a time) and try to locate the flag without taking too many steps or run out of units. As such, it is neither really a puzzle nor a streategy game, but sort of a weird hybrid. However, even puzzles and strategy games have RULES, and this one basically have you be BLIND and randomly run into things and see if it kills you. How "fun" is that? (That's a pun)

The levels are made of "squares". You decide which directly to move one square with your unit. You don't know what may be ahead. it could be a wall (you wasted a move), or clear, or a ladder (leading upstairs, if you choose to go up), trap door (if at one of the upper levels) and character takes damage (except knight), or have an enemy unit (king will beat any unit except princess), or a poison cup (kill any unit except wizard), or a secret tunnel (invisible to all except dwarf). You can decide to switch unit at any time until you move. And you will need to switch as you will need to deal with the threats as they appear.

You gain points by defeating enemy units and getting the flag. You lose points by losing units and wasting moves. If your points go negative, you've lost the level and must restart. However, as explained before, the level does not change from game to game, so with a little memorization, or perhaps, some grid paper, you can easily come up with optimal solutions by wasting a game or two to map out all the levels. And what fun would that be, once you're done? A game that relies on trial and error is rather dumb, as there's neither strategy or "game" behind the mechanics. Thus, this game, if you call it that, really has little to recommend it.

Graphics are below average for a mobile game. I feel like I'm playing the old Q*Q*Bert, except it's nowhere as cute. Sounds is forgettable.

Overall, this game just isn't worth your money. There are better puzzle games out there.

Overall rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: not that hard to pick up
Cons: not much game there at all
Verdict: if you enjoy banging your head against the wall to find a weak spot (i.e. trial and error) this may be up your alley, else, forget it.

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KMGR of "Castle of Magic"

Mario, as shown in the Paper Mario seriesImage via Wikipedia

Castle of Magic is at its heart a simple platform game like Super Mario. This "castle" or "magic" had little if anything to do with the game. The levels are not too bad looking, but there really isn't anything beyond a normal "platform game". It's colorful, but beyond that, nothing much.

The backstory is kinda silly. A couple found this treasure box. it opened and kinda sucked them inside. The girl disappeared. The boy met this wizard, who made him a magician, and said something about going through the various levels to get a chance to free his love. So you basically have to choose a door, and jump around, defeat baddies, jump, double jump, glide, and so on. If you get a powerup, you can get to shoot arrows. You can move blocks to block the portals from spewing more baddies. Don't fall off or that's it. Really, that's it.Collect as many purpole crystals, various artifacts, and make it to end of level to repeat it all at a different level.

So, what's the point? Good question, I don't know. At least Super Mario have some special moves and secret areas and whatnot. This... I dunno. I don't exactly LIKE platform games. I don't hate them, but this game doesn't change my mind at all.

All in all, this game feels like SuperMario clone with a few more abilities, but not as much fun.

Overall score: 6 out of 10
Pros: cute looking, solid platform game
Cons; nothing beyond platform game
Verdict: Super Mario wannabe that has NOTHING to do with "magic", despite the name.

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KMGR of Crash Car Mania

Crash Car Mania is probably inspired by Flatout's "driver launching" sports, but they turned it into something else instead. You move along the track, hit controls keys at specific times as well as launch, control the driver during flight (and hit more targets), keep flying to another vehicle and so on untilend of course, and try to score the max points. It is way too reliant on timing, and its lack of support for QWERTY keyboard make it difficult to play. At least it is 3D-ish.

The main menu looks promising, as it seems to promise some sort of 3D action. I picked tutorial, and was introduced to the mechanics. It was then I realized while the presentation is 3D, the gameplay is still only 2D, or more precisely, more like 1D. You have this fixed track, arrow-straight, but with some up-down variations. The objective is to "finish" the track, by reaching the end, by jumping the various obstacles, and when need be, launch the driver and do some mid-air moves so he lands close enough to the next car to continue the trek, and the process repeats until 1) driver not close enough to next vehicle 2) driver suffered too much damage 3) timer ran out.

The controls are all mapped to number keys, specifically, 4-5-6 and 7-8-9. 4 and 6 reverse and forwards the car. Double-tap 6 to nitro-boost. 5 to launch driver. 8 to "bounce" the front end (which allows a "jump" without a ramp), and 7 / 9 rotates car car nose-up / tail-up respectively. This makes the game almost unplayable on a phone with a qwerty-keyboard, since on such a phone all the numbers are on the top, and no alternate control schemes are given.

So a typical level goes like this: you start the car, nitro-boost it, it flies down the track, then just before the car hits the wall, you do the bounce (8) and it flies up just enough to clear the wall, lands on the other side. You boost again, and the car flies up a ramp. You see the hoop ahead. You hit 5 and wait for the arrow to line up, and launches the driver through the hoop. You made the driver somersault a few times (5) and he lands on an explosive spring, which launches him again. He lands on another one, bounces off, lands on another one, bounces off, and finally lands just behind the next vehicle. The vehicle starts, you boost, and do another ramp jump, but this time you hold 9 to do a "somersault" in the vehicle, and landed, and hit the finish line.

So you see, it's all about the timing of key presses. And if the keys are not lined up right, then the game is not playable, right?

Graphics are 3D polygons, with auto-camera, but the camera doesn't always show what you wish to see. It's always a bit off to the side and behind, though it sometimes switches back and forth for no particular reason, and camera angle is not in your control.

All in all, the game is a new idea, but it's basically a timing/action puzzle, so it's not THAT well implemented.

Overall rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: fresh angle and fresh game, 3D-ish view
Cons: still 2D game, not good for QWERTY-keyboard, annoying viewpoint

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August Game Previews!

August has started, and here are some previews of upcoming reviews!

Crash Car Mania -- semi-inspired by Flatout's "driver toss" games, this combined timing puzzles with driver toss, car stunts, and driver stunts, with a bit of environment interaction, in a semi-3D environment...

Castle of Magic -- console platformer comes to the mobile... but is it really magic? Or is it just Mario in magic cloths?

Stratego Fortress -- a puzzle game that has nothing to do with a fortress, nor anything at all with Stratego.

1942 -- the arcade classic comes to the mobile, but is it Battle of Midway? or more like Pearl Harbor?

99 Ninjas -- ninja platformer that have you throwing ninja stars AND swinging katanas... but is it Ninja-Gaiden, or Beverly Hills Ninja?

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