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 "Chocolate Shop Frenzy"

Digital Chocolate decided to do a clone of Cake Mania, so they decided to use their own namesake, and do a chocolate shop instead. The result is a well-polished, if a bit too derivative game with appropriately ramped up challenges as you go from level to level.

Basically, you are this girl who had a dream of opening this chocolate shop and serve chocolates to the people. You'll serve lots of different clients... each have different tolerance to waiting, errors, and "bribe". The interface is basically the same as Cake Mania... A shop with machines on 'top', like chcolate packing machines that packs boxes of different shapes. A special machine makes a big chocolate figure. If you feel tired, get a cup of hot cocoa for yourself to regain the lost speed. Later the packing machine automatically gets speed upgrades and double/triple, figure machine gets upgrades to more varieties, a center table lets you put down wrong items so you can save it for another customer... All these are like Cake Mania.

In fact, this game is even easier as you don't have to worry about WHAT to upgrade. All the upgrading is done automatically for you, which is a nice touch. While this sort of takes away a bit of the strategic element, it actually doesn't lose that much.

The different clients that actually behave differently is a nice touch too. Old ladies have lots of patience, and tip okay. Moms are impatient and tip okay. Kids can wait, but don't tip well. Businessman cannot wait, and tip okay if you are very fast. And so on and so forth. You also later get to catch thieves and so on. As you progress along the levels, you get tougher and more clients through the day.

In fact, there are "achievements" that you can get, like "25% complete", "served 50 old ladies", and so on. Some of those are negative achievements, like "made 5 kids cry" (no candy for you!) and so on.

The game also relies on "combos", which means you try to queue together similar activities. Get four menus in a row and you get 1x, 2x, 3x, and 4x the score. Serve four chocolates in a row, grab money 4 in a row... you get the idea. You have to do this to get the "expert score" instead of the regular "plain" score, which is pretty easy to get unless you really mess up. But the expert score you must line up lots of of "streaks" for.

Controls are simple enough... arrow keys to pick the position you want to access, OK to access it, another OK to repeat (but only if the machine's ready).

Graphics are decent, slightly cartoonish, but that's expected. I'm not expecting photo-realism here. Sound is okay, nothing too special here.

Every fourth level, you play match-3 to create a new "chocolate recipe", which is very similar to Cleopatra's Treasures, another Digital Chocolate game, so I have to say that's derivative as well, as there are bazillion connect-3 games out there, starting with Bejeweled and goes on from there.

Overall, this game is an also-ran. It combines elements from other games to create this one, which is not really a fresh combo to start with. It's all derivative, albeit with a bit of polish. Is it good? Not really. But it is solid entertainment.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: familiar gameplay, achievements, nicely polished
Cons: nothing new here

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KMGR of "Dragon Sword" by Minoraxis

Minoraxis is best known for bringing Imprisoned!, one of the best mobile games ever (it's huge, even by mobile standards... Think of it as part Lost, part Battle Royale, and part Count of Monte Cristo, in 2D isometric, complete with crafting/synthesis, semi-real-time combat system, and a HUGE island and base to explore.). Dragon Sword is nowhere that ambitious, and is very reminiscent of simple 2D console RPGs where the characters wander around a 2D isometric map, randomly encounters monsters, and go into a 2D battlefield and do the fight in real-time. And that's really all there is to the game, really. There's mumbles about multiplayer, and such on the website, but I'm a dozen hours in and no end in sight.

At start, you can name and choose among three characters... warrior (male), assassin (female), and paladin (male). You only have ONE character, remember. The difference? Different folks gets different equipment later on. And there are some starting differences, but otherwise, nothing too special. If you don't know, pick warrior, who's middle-of-the-road bland.

You start at a town, with randomly sprinkled houses, and two special houses: an inn, where you can sleep for free and regain your HPs. The other is the armory, where you can buy better equipment, and/or upgrade the ones you have with appropriate "gems". Basically, all equipment can be upgraded with appropriate gem(s) and enough gold. The upgrade costs goes up exponentially. First upgrade is 50. Next level is 150, and goes higher and higher from there. You can sell extra equipment at the armory as well. Finally, you can buy some heal potions from the innkeeper, and those can be taken in real-time during battle.

Each town has a bunch of "badlands" surrounding it, full of various nasties. However, the fights always features 2 group of 4 nasties. Each group has one or two kinds of nasties, either fighters or shooters. Sometimes, the paths outside town leads to caves, which has teleporters and more stuff inside.

The town's inhabitants have various quests. Usually, it's to bring back X items (usually 5) from a certain location's fighting. The fighting can also yield colored gems (which are used, along with gold, to upgraded the equipment), gold, and lots of experience. As in typical RPG play, your ratings go up. MP, or magic points, can be used to "zap" all enemies on screen once until you rest to replenish the MP and HP.

During combat, things can get a bit hectic, as the shooters can shoot all the way acros the screen, and you need to move up or down to dodge them, while get close to other enemies and hit them with your weapon(s). There are certain combo moves you can make, such as "stun", "hard hit" and "hit into air" as you gain levels. However, it's hard to pull off these moves except by accident. Usually it's easier to force the enemy into the wall and try to hit them before they hit back. Oh, and be well-stocked in heal potions.

Equipment comes in 6 types: ring, necklace/amulet, body armor, weapon, leggings, and boots. Each of which can be regular, magic, rare, and legendary. Each can be upgraded with appropriate gem(s) and gold (white, green, yellow, red). You may not want to upgrade the first thing you come across as you may find something more powerful later.

While all this sounds exciting, vast majority of battles are worth nothing except some minor amount of gold. It takes a LONG time to accumulate large amounts of gold, mainly by selling items. Once you got items that "steal life", you will no longer need heal potions except in boss fights. So you can sell stuff for money.

The problem of the game is it's difficult locating quests. In a game like Diablo, at least you have an overall quest like "kill Diablo and his lieutenants". There's nothing in Dragon Sword. Your quests come from village inhabitants, such as "please deliver this letter to next village", or "please bring back X items from dungeon Y" or "please kill boss in dungeon Z". The problem is, each village is a little different, and you pretty much have to check each and every corner of town, including individual rooms to find some of these quests, even though you have spoken to some of these people before.

For example, I was in this sea-side town and was killing nasties left and right. I have found the two inhabitants in the "inn" besides the innkeeper, but neither have said much. Then all of a suddenly, I'm level 24, and one of the inn residents suddenly have a quest for me! They could at least have the guy says "come back later when you're stronger" or something like that so I know where the quests are! Argh! As is, I have to re-explore the town over and over!

Graphics and sound wise the game is below par. Sound is monotonous and music is boring. Graphics is simple console style with little if any flair to it. I find "Dungeon Fighter Gunner" to have superior graphics and gameplay.

Thus, with all these problems, I am afraid it's rather hard to recommend Dragon Sword, unless you can actually stand the "level grind" to obtain some of the truly RARE equipment and have some epic fights, but then, it'd just be some numbers. The game mechanics would still be the same.

Overall rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: easy to get into, action-y
Cons: repetitive and boring gameplay, can't tell where the quests are

UPDATE: I have "finished" the game, as far as the game's concerned. I got a level 36 and level 37 quest, one of which is considered "final quest". That's in the town of Ceskin, where devil worshippers have taken over, and they're trying to awaken Bajamos, a boss demon. One of the quests is to kill Bajamos, and you can do this if you're level 30 or so if you use the border trick and have lots of heal potions. After that, nothing. You can keep playing, but there are no more quests, and no point to it. Extremely boring game.

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More mobile game previews...

La pyramide de Khephren à GizehImage via Wikipedia

Cleopatra's Treasures -- play 2 types of minigames to accumulate "jewels" to build pyramids with... Better you do, the better town / pyramid you can build... Gets boring very quickly.

Chocolate Shop Frenzy -- exactly like Cake Mania or Bettie Barrista, except with Chocolates instead. Derivative all the way, even the controls are identical.

Dragon Sword -- another Korean import, this is another "action" 2D RPG/adventure that's NOWHERE as deep as Stranded! In fact, you'd wonder why you fight the same monsters over and over. Only the bosses are of any challenge, and you have to explore very last bit of every town to find the quests. Extremely badly paced.

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KMGR of "Zombie Infection"

A participant in a zombie flash mob event in C...Image via Wikipedia

Gameloft got a zombie game that is actually done right for the mobile! Unlike "RE: Degeneration 3D" which looks nice but is not that much action, this game manages to give you good action and much better plot as a 2D game! And it actually DOES feel threatening due to properly spaced bosses!

In the near future, law enforcement was outsourced to private corporations, the largest of which is "Freedom Fighters". A smaller team added embedded reporters, such as Inside Action, and the result is so visceral, people loved it, and its ratings zoomed. Inside Action is called to a cafe where a murder was reported... Except it was no ordinary murder... It was a zombie eating a body... And then... Armageddon. Freedom Fighters arrived with some sort of a bomb (?!) Right in front of their eyes, zombies attack a crowd, killing them. And moments, later the dead rose as zombies. j

The Inside Action team is composed to three members... Anderson, the hardened veteran, proficient with all guns; Shawna, the camerawoman, proficient with shotgun and handguns; and Mike the reporter, proficient with hand-to-hand weapons such as katana and shuriken. The gun play model is simple... The gun autotargets closest threat. Once it locked on, it scans the target from bottom to top. When the reticule is at head level, press action/fire for a headshot. As you can imagine, this takes a little time, so you can't headshot several zombies together (actually, you CAN with a shotgun, but that's different). With a heavy-hitter like a magnum revolver you can kill two or more zombies lined up together with one shot. And of course, with a machine gun (actually assault rifle) you can use single shots OR mass fire to slow the zombies down. You can also shoot the legs off so they become "ankle biters". They then crawl over to you at a slower pace. With Mike, his blade can engage several zombies in the same weapon arc. All weapons can be upgraded multiple times with found upgrade kits (or kits can be purchased, at outrageous prices).

There are many ways to kill zombies. Headshot is more efficient, with mechanism described before. If you shoot a zombie enough times, it will die any way. But you'll waste a lot more ammo. Another way is turn them into ankle-biters (shoot their legs off), then when they get close, smash their heads. Later you'll get laser guns, electro-stunners, grenades, and such. There's also game cliches like explosive barrels. Shoot one, and watch it go boom (preferably, killing many zombies).

There are five chapters of plot to wade thru, and who you thought were allies and enemies will switch back and forth as you discover new information. But the enemies are the zombies out there... and you'll even find new types that can't be hit in the darkness. And giant "Deathclaw" like mutants that takes a lot of firepower to put down, and only vulnerable at the right time. There are also those multi-head monsters that needs headshot AND torso-shots.

Graphics are well-polished 2D. Not 3D but better than most. Sound is good, with various special effects like bones cracking. Controls are sensitive without over-reacting. This may just be the best mobile zombie game ever, and I dont' say this lightly, esp. with properly SCARY boses.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: simple and effective controls, scary plot and twists
Cons: nothing really new here under the sun...

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KMGR of "Chuck Norris: Bring on the Pain"

What Would Chuck Norris Do?Image by Joriel "Joz" Jimenez via Flickr

By now, you probably heard of Chuck Norris Facts. If you don't, you'll be presented with lots of them as you play the game. Clearly, they aren't "facts", but you get the idea. The idea is Chuck Norris himself woke up on the jungle, and was fighting some enemies, rescuing prisoners of war... guns blazing... He is da man! (ha-ha)

So what's the game? It's a 2D shooter/beat-em-up similar to Double Dragon, Vigilante, you get the idea. Chuck can have a weapon, or when there's no weapon, he can use his awesome martial arts skills. Taking out VC left and right in the jungle, defeated the boss in a helicopter (with no weapons!) he somehow ended back in Texas... which is being invaded by Commies! Using his ferocious fists and round house kicks, he must clear his beloved Texas of Red Menace, and find the source of the scourge and stop it once and for all! Gather up all the points and exchange them at the Dojo for special moves, such as air kick, reverse kick, power fury, and so on.

Everything is over the top, and proudly so. Even Huck Norris himself gets a kick out of a few of these "facts". So I guess he gets a kick out of this game too, as he gets to take down Fidel Castro and Kim Jong-Il, and hundreds of commies and VC soldiers... And jump motorcycle onto top of semi, and other movie stunts. You can execute your martial art moves in the fights against multiple opponents, and occasionally, do "challenges" like "knock out all enemies in X seconds".

Graphics are okay, as the cartoony representation helps. In fact, some of the thugs during fights get tossed INTO the camera, and slides down like a wet bug. Really cute effect. Sound is adequate.

All in all, Chuck Norris: Bring on the Pain is a game about attitude, and this game has plenty. If you like your game with attitude, then this is your game. Else, it's just another shooter/beat-em-up.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: lots of attitude, varied challenges, both shooter AND beat-em-up
Cons: gameplay is a little thin under all the attitude

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KMGR of "Wolfenstein RPG"

Wolfenstein 3DImage via Wikipedia

EA and id finally managed to bring Wolfenstein to the mobile with the Doom RPG/ Orcs and Elves engine. Does it meet the high standards set before? Absolutely, and then some. Thus, this is one of the best games to come along in a while.

As Sergeant B.J. Blaskowicz, you've been sent by the Allies to find out what are the Nazis doing at Castle Wolfenstein. However, your team was captured, and you are determined to finish your mission... By fighting your way out... escaping, then back in. Along the way, you'll need, enemies, allies, Nazis, nasties, and some bad guys that will look very familiar to other id game fans.

The engine is the same... You actually move on square grids, though the actual squares are almost invisible. You can make 90 degree turns (face N, S, E, or W), and move back, forward, as well as step left or right without turning (side-strafe). The engine has been modified to add a lot of 3D feel, such as multi-story rooms, sloped ceilings, sloped floors to go up to platforms, or lower to sublevels, even elevators and spiral staircases (though it's actually just Doom-style 3D tricks). The textures are better and enemies are better animated.

The weapons have been increased in number as well. You start unarmed, just your fists and boot. You later get pistol, twin pistols, Tommy Gun, Sten Gun, Chain Gun, Panzerfaust, Tesla (lightning) Gun, flamethrower, and a very familiar weapon to Wolfenstein 3D fans.

As you go through the level, the amount of loot, secrets, kills, books, and so on are recorded. If you manage to locate 100% of one item, you're given the appropriate award. All books will give you "book worm" medal. All enemies will get you "Enemy destroyer" medal, and so on. Secrets now comes in two varieties, though... the normal 'secret door' (look for dirty marks on the floor) that opens with a kick, and now, "cracks in the wall", to which you must apply a set of dynamite (which goes off in 3 turns). There are even a few bits where you need to go underwater. And yes, secrets can exist underwater as well.

The catacombs that exists under Castle Wolfenstein is haunted, and going through it is the only way you will get out, as the Germans are too scared of the place, people keep disappearing, and all that. Yes, there are various nasties down there, and the foolish Nazis are attempting to harness the occult powers of the undead! Let's just say you WILL need a very familiar enemy, and you will discover your relations to another famous ID character, and see cameos of many more before the game ends.

The levels are varied, and the new "syringe system" is pretty interesting. Instead of just randomly finding syringes that you'll never use (you'll still find them of course), if you come to a synthesizing station and you have empty syringes, you can synthesize the exact syringe you want by applying the three ingredients in proper doses. For example, 3 red is "heal", while 3 blue is "soldat" or soldier, which enhances your damages and decrease damages taken. Try other combinations to discover "recipes" to other syringes.

In your way are various types of Nazi soldiers, sergeants, paratroopers, officers, elite guard (female!), scientists, and the nasties like various undead types, including undead chicken(!) Then there are the bosses. You REALLY want to save just before you see the bosses... And load up on the syringes before you meet them... It's the only way to beat them, except that last one. That last boss is only vulnerable to TWO weapons, that's it. Take that as a hint.

You also get to play two minigames... War, the card game, where you randomly pick card and the other guy picks a card... who has the bigger card wins. The other is "Chicken Kick", try to land the chicken in the center square for max points. Neither is required, but they do add flavor to the game.

As as with other mobile id games, if you finish the game, you are allowed to go back and try to find all the secrets and whatnot you missed the first time through. That's actually quite a bit of fun. And remember, you can turn up the difficulty up, WAY up. Even on EASY you'll probably die a few times before you make it all the way through. So, enjoy the challenges.

All in all, Wolfenstein RPG is a bit of MOTS, but the presentation is so slick and so much fun you don't mind being fed the same stuff. Remember, save game all the time!

Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 (!)
Pros: Wolfenstein on phone! Kill Nazis and undead! Lots of weapons!
Cons: nothing really really new here...

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Preview of BIG upcoming reviews...

Cover of "Missing in Action"Cover of Missing in Action

Here are some of the biggest names coming down the review pipeline!

(EA) Wolfenstein RPG: yep, the DOOM and Orcs & Elves engine makes a return to mobile, this time as Wolfenstein! Borrowing elements from the original Wolf3D, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and some other ID games you already know and love... This game is as much injokes on id games as much as it is about B. J. Blaskowicz's adventure in Castle Wolfenstein and Nazi's involvement with the occult. Same "3D turn-based" action, syringes (potions) to synthesize, weapons and ammo to collect... and plenty of enemies to kill, both undead and regular. At the end, you'll also find BJB's relationship to one other main character in another id game.

(Gameloft) Chuck Norris: Bring on the Pain: wow, Chuck Norris lending his name to a game? Except this game is all about the "Chuck Norris Facts". Lampooning his involvement in films such as Delta Force and Missing in Action, as well as Walker Texas Ranger, our commie fighter Chuck Norris must fight his way through hordes of commies and take down two bosses, none other than Fidel Castro (manning a jetpack) and Kim Jong-il (of North Korea) driving a tank. However, past all the jokes, it's basically a 2D shooter/ beat-em-up, but one with bit of attitude.

(Gameloft) Zombie Infection: a 2D shooter that manages to squeeze an amazing amount of plot, as you, controlling 3 different characters, battle a horde of zombies that have taken over Manhattan. Remember, go for headshots. You'll search all over for stuff here, stuff there, Lots of weapons to find, ammo to gather, and even improve your weapons as you go. Even a subgame called "van rush" mode... mow down as many zombies in your van without hitting barrels or trash bins! Plot twists keep on coming, you don't know who's bad and who's good will the end... and the boss fight at the end is a classic.

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KMGR of "Gangstar 2: King of LA"

GameloftImage via Wikipedia

Gangstar 2 is sequel to Gameloft's take on Grand Theft Auto 3 on the mobile phone. This time, you're from south of the border trying to make it big in city of angels. By visiting one of your cousins who's in the business, you hope to make it big. Gameloft claims 75 missions with many offbeat missions like racing, stunts, secret items, and so on. So how close does it come to GTA?

Gangstar 2 features a thoroughly Chicano plot, complete with Spanglish (mix of English and Spanish). You can start main mission two ways... through the "services" menu, or go to the house where the mission is. To start side missions like racing, you have to go to the location.

The city is big enough, AND there are also other areas that you can go to (additional maps). Traffic is real, different cars behave a bit differently (more are added later). Sedans, sports cars, SUVs... Different people talking on the streets... Cops don't like you shooting or running over their people or into their cars...

There are also tons of other activities to do. You can do 'stunts' by driving cars up ramps and jump from place to place, finding "hidden" items (briefcases) on the maps as you find them (many are hidden pretty well and takes thorough exploration to locate). There are also weapons dealers, car dealers, even drug dealers with its own little underground economy... Buy low and sell high with your own capital will often help push the prices along...' and you making a bundle, esp. if you find "goodies" shop in other parts of town and know which 'treats' generate the best profit.

Most of your profit, on the other hand, will come from doing the missions. And there are a variety of them, sometimes just "Fedex", go there, deliver that. Some are multipart. Some may involve liquidating someone at the destination (without attracting cops attention!) You will accumulate a serious arsenal... Single pistol, silenced pistol, dual pistol, Uzi/Mac-10, AK, rifle (sniper), and more. And ammo never seems to be a problem.

Different bonus items like safety vests, guns, secret items, first-aid kits, and so on are available all over. Even some guns, and others. Cars are easily hijacked... Just walk up to a stopped car and hit the appropriate key. Lots of things to do at any time, mission or no mission.

Haven't made it to the end yet, but so far Gangstar 2 lives up to its promise: a good GTA-clone on mobile phone.

Overall rating: 7.5 out of 10
Pros: lots of variety, lots of things to do, but still a plot
Cons: 2D only, a lot of things already seen before, VERY heavily scripted

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Personal Records for "Tiki Towers"

An early  bridge of this type, the  Clifton Su...Image via Wikipedia

Tiki Towers by RealArcade Mobile is one fun game, it kept ME coming back for more (and more). Here are some personal records that should be challenging for all of you... Try to beat it. I'll try to add video shots later.

NOTE: In order for the solution to count, all monkeys must make it to exit with all bananas (i.e. a "perfect" solution). Also, it must be repeatable. If I quit the game and load the solution again, the same thing must happen. It doesn't matter if the bridge collapsed after the last monkey. If the run is not repeatable then the solution does not count. All solutions I provided are repeatable.

NOTE2: The "rotation" engine is sometimes a bit flaky. On the rotating puzzles, if you can come within 1 or 2 sticks you are good.

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon is the intro level that eases you into building. Levels are easy, and bamboo sticks are plentiful. However, you will be challenged in eco-mode when you need to take away sticks.

BL1: How to build a tower

Eco-mode: 6 (left)
Min solution: 7 (!)

Hint: monkeys don't need to climb full towers. They can climb single sticks.

BL2: Bridge Building Basics

Eco-mode: 4
Min solution: 5 7 8

Hint: a bridge can bend, and using a single stick to "swipe" a banana should be a standard tactic. One of them don't need swiping. Double anchor on the free side.

BL3: Advanced Bridge Building

Eco-mode: 8
Min solution: 9 14 15 (!)

Hint: a bridge does NOT need to be solid. A suspension rope bridge works fine. In fact, that iron block, if "pushed" over, allows the monkeys to jump the gap without needing any bridge at all.

BL4: Mixing it up

Eco-mode: 8
Min solution: 11 17 20 22 (!)

Hint: bridge does not need to be solid... neither does a tower

BL5: Up and Down

Eco-mode: 9
Min solution: 23 (!)

Hint: a stick of bamboo can go "through" solid things... if it "fell" that way. This can make an excellent ladder for both sides.

BL6: leap of faith
Eco mode: 4
Min solution: 12 14 16 (!)

Hint: even a suspension bridge does not need to be solid, just solid "enough", thus... suspension rope bridge.

BL7: Hanging out

Eco mode: 12
Min solution: 15

Hint: use gravity and the swing of the arms to "lead" the monkeys, rather than building something they'll jump onto.

BL8: Do you swing?

Eco mode: 10
Min solution: 14

Hint: suspension bridge can be just two sticks...

BL9: Balance of tower

Eco mode: 2
Min solution: 22 23 (!)

Hint: use a falling stick to catch 4 of 5 bananas. Then build hook / rope arrangement so the monkeys have a path to go down.

Wuthering Heights

The levels are harder as the monkeys can fall to their deaths now.

WH1: Wheel of fortune

Eco: 2
Min: 4 5 (!)

The trick is proper placement of the sticks to snag the bananas, as well as unbalance it enough so the monkeys can get on the swinging.

WH2: Amusement Park

Eco: 4
Min: 15 16 (!)

This one needs two separate structures: the not-round wheel, and an asymmetrical swing. The problem with the swing is make it just sturdy enough for multiple monkeys.

WH3: Laundry Day

Eco: 10
Min: 19 22 (!)

Build the downward triangles JUST strong enough... which means start removing internal structures of them until they can't stand the monkeys' weight.

WH4: Dirty laundry

Eco: 4
Min: 16 19 (!)

The long rope will lead the monkeys left to the edge, then build something that let them cross the gap

WH5: Aerobatics

Eco: 4
Min: 10 11

Linking the two nodes together sturdy enough, then build a bridge from the right node to the destination.

WH6: Bananarama

Eco: 4
Min: 13 20 (!)

Build single-bamboo ladder from anchor, then 2-anchor ladder from cliff, then single falling stick banana catcher.

WH7: Platforms a plenty

Eco: 11
Min: 18 23 (!)

Make the bridges self-supporting by hanging them on the platforms.

WH8: Golden Arch

Eco: 1
Min: 7 24 (!)

Should have taken my own advice. With Patrick's inspiration (see comments) I redesigned the bridge from scratch (the 7 saved solution was a cantilever bridge) I went to minimalistic suspension bridge with TRIPLE anchor (somehow double keeps collapsing) and that with a few sweep sticks worked just fine.

WH9: Super Collapse

Eco: 11
Min: 22 23 (!)

A rope and a falling stick is really all you need!

Barbeque Pit

Lots of lava around, lots of bridges to build...

BP1: Bridge over troubled lava

eco: 2
min: 11

Your first thought may be see-saw. Instead, build rope bridge instead.

BP2: Hot hot hot

Eco: 5
min: 12 18 (!)

Two structures are needed... One is a ladder that goes up to the finish, and the other would be a ramp to lead the monkey up to the bananas but not so weak that they fell off.

BP3: Inventing the wheel

eco: 1
min: 5 or 7 (!)

A wheel does NOT have to be square. However, the engine is a little inconsistent. The 7 solution only works sometimes.

(updated up to here)

BP4: Extreme Trapeze

eco: 4
min: 9

Actually, no trapeze are needed. What you need is a "hanger" up top with two LONG ropes.

BP5: Heavy Metal

eco: 6
min: 10 13 (!)

The trick is to utilize that metal tower, and get it to fall the right way AND get the monkeys to jump on.

BP6: High Wire Act

eco: 2
min: 10

As stated before, a "rope" can be composed of fewer internal structures. Divide it up a little to distribute the force, and it'll reach quite far.

BP7: No Safety Net

eco: 7
min: 24 (!)

Hanging rope can be made strong enough with very few sections.

BP8: Wheely Interesting

eco: 3
min: 9

A wheel does not have to be symetrical, just sturdy enough to span the gap.

BP9: Towering Inferno

eco: 3
min: 9 10 (!)

Multiple parts... one rope / half-bridge at start, one 2-section rope to right, then one see-saw on top. You may save a few on the see-saw if you see a way to simplify it.

Big Giant Head

BGH (or just BG) are more challenging then before, as bananas are now more spread-out.

BG1: Takeshi's Monkeys

eco: 6
min: 17 (!)

The structure on the left, that climbs all the way up, doesn't need to be solid, or even a rope. Monkey can jump. The wheel doesn't need to be solid either...

BG 2: Teeter-Totter

eco: 4
min: 8

The rotating wheel can be very "random" in terms of effect. Thus, the min solution will vary somewhat, but you should be able to do 5 at least. The idea is to make it "wide" enough to span the gap, but rotate JUST enough so it's perfectly up/down/left/right. The above 8 involves destroying the wheel, but it was a perfect solution.

BG3: No Breaks!

eco: 5
min: 9

Top is an asymmetrical wheel, the asymmetry force it to rotate so it the protrusion will drop into the gap, making a perfect "buttress". The bottom portion would be "fan" to span the section, or however, you want to span it with minimum number of sticks.

BG4: Labyrinth of Doom!

eco: 2
min: 18 (!)

Standard ropes are quite sufficient for the monkeys to descend the heights. The only problem you may have is that bridge in the middle right side. Use a "lead rope" to tease the monkeys along.

BG5: High Hopes

eco: 2
min: 14 (!)

You may be tempted to build a tower over a collapsing bridge, or collapsing tower over a bridge. Don't. Neither will last long enough to do its job. Instead, use the straight-up stick/rope to grab the bananas, and building a bridge just long enough to fall over and land on the other side. Add a bit of free stick on the ground as drag anchor and the bridge will not shift far enough to fall off.

BG6: Dangling Bits

eco: 6
min: 13!

Single strand of sticks can form rope strong enough... if you connect them right.

BG7: Balconies of Pain

eco: 3
min: 11 (!)

My approach is to form a central "beam" around that center "joint", then trail various "ropes" to where you need to go. The rope leading up to the finish needs to be extra long as it needs to be "drag anchored".

BG8: Ninja Test

eco: 5
min: 15 (!)

Build stick ropes from joint to joint. Add sticks to "drag" the bananas. You'll use too many sticks if you try to build swinging platforms as those need to be reinforced.

BG9: Bodacious Banana Basement

eco: 3
min: 13 (!)

Start with a falling bridge, then anchored rope down to first metal triangle. Link the other two triangles, reinforce if needed, then add a link at the bottom triangle so the monkeys can land and move to the exit.

Mystery Island (MI)

Difficult and challenging, this is.

MI1: Beginning of the end

eco: 1
min: 7 13 (!)

Two "platforms" based on the metal triangles will suffice as the launch and landing. Linking the two will be a rope, with another rope reaching down the middle to the final banana. The exit platform will probably need to be reinforced, which will cost more sticks.

MI2: Watch your head

eco: 8
min: 15 (!)

Ah, this is a fun one. The name should give you a clue: falling objects. So you will need to drag that thing at top off the top, and build something that will fill the pit just enough so the monkeys can get past. As it happens, a X-shape is good for one side... The top parts splay out and fall against the sides, giving the monkeys a way to jump up and go across. Then you'll need to build a rope JUST long enough so multiple monkeys try to climb it, and drag it off the top, without breaking the rope.

MI3: Ferris Wheel

eco: 5
min: 7 15 (!)

Actually a swinging rope will work, if you can get enough of them to sweep the bananas for the monkeys. The idea is to bridge the gap as the monkeys can jump the smaller platforms without help.

MI4: Rough Landing

eco: 8
min: 14 16

have the monkeys drag that metal structure down from the top, sweep most of the bananas down.

MI5: Let it all hang out

eco: 1
min: 9 11 (!)

Link the metal strands together the best you can (except the lowest one), and it should be good enough. Dangle a rope or two. The last one leading to the exit should be VERTICAL (which should reach the other node).

MI6: Mind the gap

eco: 1
min: 4 18 (!)

You may be thinking of building a bridge all the way across. Don't. Drag the metal structure down to fill in the pit and the monkeys should cross both with no problems.

MI7: Obnoxious Obstacles

eco: 1
min: 5

You'll need a LOT of structures to bridge the many gaps here.

Build just enough to get the monkeys up and over the gap. Build something that'll "slant" the triangle so the monkeys will go down and then up the other side to get the two bananas down the passage. You also need to build a small bridge down there so one monkey can cross. Then use the joint above to build a balance beam, with sticky stick to grab the banana off to left. Finally, build a bridge leading up to the last banana. Use that fixed joint to help in ridigity can help you save a stick or two. That metal strand will go down to the exit.

MI8: Extreme Engineering

Eco: 4
Min: 16 (!)

First, a balance beam to the left at the joint, so grab that banana off to left. The rest will go down to right, so build them a flex path down and grab that banana to right. Also, build a wheel below the lava pit so it'll roll into place just under the ledge to the exit. Add a "rope" to the flex path so it'll reach the wheel so the monkeys can get all of the goodies.

MI9: Final Challenge

eco: 2
min: 7 (!)

Two tricks to this level... First... a stick as a "drag anchor" so the chain doesn't take the banana into the lava pit. Second, designing the "falling bridge" so it'll still cover the gap despite falling and tumbling down that path. It does NOT have to be a wheel.

Keep in mind that I WILL be improving these records... Stay tuned!

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KMGR of "Chocolatier"

Chocolatier (video game)Image via Wikipedia

The PC casual game comes to the mobile as well! Search the world for 24 different chocolate treat recipes, from simple bars to delicate truffles and infusions! Also locate ingredients, and keep your factories supplies for production! Play a bit of match up to start the production, buy more factories, and establish your chocolate empire! Is it fun? Or is it more about fighting the interface? It's surprisingly good.

At its heart, Chocolatier is a mix of genres... It's a little bit reflex/arcade game when you "prime up" the factory with a new reciple. It's a bit random adventure as you travel throughout the world looking for new recipes and ingredients. It's also a business sim as you buy low (ingredients) and sell high (finished products). You can't keep making the same thing over and over as prices fall, so you have to keep switching things around. And there are occasionally special "quests" that asks you to make X items within a few months and you get either recipe or big amount of $$$ as reward of finishing the quest. You also get to buy up factories, haggle with sellers of ingredients, and visit various bars and such to find even MORE recipes, ingredients, at each city. And of course, more cities open up as you progress. Start with a few hundred, and end up with a whole empire!

And due to the randomness of the game, no two play-thru will be alike. Every decision you make or unmake can affect the outcome, and that's where the game is fun.

The mobile version retained most of the flavor of the PC version, though the graphics are reduced and I personally didn't hear much music. Sound effects are forgettable... You get a bit of "steamboat" or "locomotive" sounds as you travel, that's about it.

All in all, Chocolatier is a fine port of a PC casual game, and can be enjoyed easily by all people. The smaller screen doesn't really detract from the game.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: a story, a lot of mix of genres, including adventure, business, and so on
Cons: not much music for the mood, no ACTUAL chocolate recipes (just nitpicking)

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KMGR of "Superman and Batman"

The game makes it sound so interesting... The two join forces against some special evil! And the intro seems to promise that... The question then is... What would cause them to join forces? Apparently Apocalypse wants Metalloid to steal something from both Gotham and Metropolis... And both Superman and Batman are obviously trying to stop such a thing... But in their way are all the baddies Apocalypse can send, and those can even hurt Superman...

Superman gets two special attacks: freezing breath, and heat ray. Otherwise it's dashing attack (which pushes enemies back), and good old fashioned slugging. Similarly, Batman also gets two special attacks... His batarang, and a special set of triple bat-bombs. Special attacks requires having some energy in the special meter, and of course, if you got hit, your life meter goes down, and if you're out of life, you must restart from beginning.

Batman doesn't fly, but he can use bat-rope to climb onto higher platforms. Superman, of course, can fly. And can do a special downward double-fisted smash.

Each can also call upon the other for an emergency "air strike" (Batman in his Batwing, Superman just buzzes by) to nuke all enemies on screen... if the special power bar is full.

Later enemies are tougher, there are more of them, there are these barriers that not even Superman can go through, and sometimes, barriers are mined with explosives.

Even though it's called Batman AND Superman, you don't play them together, but rather, alternately, Superman first, then next chapter Batman, and back and forth.

Animation is okay, but game is a bit easy when enemies fly into barriers and vaporize themselves, can be hit from all the way across the screen, and be killed by knocking them into the barriers. The barriers sometimes provide a bit of intellectual challenge as Batman must time his jumps and rope use carefully in some spots, but otherwise, nothing too special.

All in all, there is just nothing too interesting about "Superman and Batman" to warrant your dollars, IMHO. Save the money for something else.

Overall rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: simple and effective controls, bashing vs. puzzle approaches
Cons: that's all they can do with these two great properties?

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Another set of previews... Big names!

Another set of previews... still 3 games this time!

Preview: Superman and Batman! -- both join forces against another nefarious plot by Metalloid and Apocalypse! It's just a 2D platformer, not that interesting, IMHO.

Preview: Chocolatier! -- learn how to make 24 different chocolate treats, from simple bars to truffles as you travel the world looking for new recipes, ingredients, and expand your chocolate empire by buying factories, keep your factories supplied with ingredients, and occasionally optimize factory throughput with new recipes (by playing an arcade game). More fun than it sounds, it's like playing Taipan or Tradewinds, except with chocolate.

Preview: Gangstar 2 - King of L.A. -- Gameloft decided to update their Gangstar game with a sequel... A new kid from south of the border got into LA and joined the gang life... And make his way up. Is it the best GTA clone on mobile yet? or is it more like squint city? Find out when the review comes out!

Another upcoming article... How I set world records in Tiki Towers. :) I was hoping to have some video up, but my webcam is not recording correctly.

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KMGR of "Demolition Derby"

Demolition Derby from Glu is a strange game... it's either too hard, or too easy, and not much in between. Skills will NOT necessarily win you the day... but a lot of luck may. As a result, it's more like a game of chance than a game of skill, but it can exciting.

You drive one of the vehicles that participate in local "dirt track" figure 8 races or demolition derbies. Or you can do "race night", which is a whole week's worth of races. The perspective is 2D but isometric so it looks slightly 3D. However, the controls are pretty bad. The car accelerates automatically, as do more driving games. There's nitro, turn, and brake/reverse. That's about it. The other problem is the car is TINY, even on my large-screen LG VX9900 enV. I understand that you need to keep track of like 7 other cars on the screen at the same time, but a car that small borders on the ridiculous!

The figure 8 tracks are extremely easy. Just HOLD DOWN the nitro button (somehow you seem to get an unlimited amount of it) and make turns as you can, and try not to hit the walls and other trucks as you go through the intersection of the figure 8. If you don't hit any trucks, you'll probably come in 1st. There is only 3 laps, so it'll be over quickly.

The demolition derby, on the other hand, is MUCH more difficult than the figure 8. You need to SLAM the other vehicles into submission without getting killed yourself. That means upgrades and lots of upgrades, and no slamming into walls and such by yourself. But you need to WIN to afford upgrades, there lies the problem...

If there are multiple races for the same day, you are only allowed 120 minutes of repair time TOTAL. Anything you can't fix, you are SUNK. This also means you need to minimize damage suffered during the demolition derby so you can win the 2nd and 3rd bouts of the day, or even the main heat, if it goes that far.

Fortunately, there are bonus powerups like shields, repair, nitro, bomb (double damage) to help your battle. And the standard tactics like go backwards does apply somewhat.

The AI can't react to your driving that well, so it's easy to win the overall race, as long as you win the figure 8's and use the money into judicious upgrades, and win the later demolition derbis.

Graphics is below average for the genre, though it is decently animated. Sound is below average, as the music just drones on.

All in all, this game is below average, but not that bad. If you like the genre, give it a try. But it's not on my recommended list.

Overall rating: 6.5 out of 10
Pros: simple to pickup, can be exciting
Cons: below par in almost every regard, AI a bit too simple

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