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 "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...