RELEASE: 3/2013 | PUBLISHER: Sega America | DEVELOPER: Hardlight | Rated: 4+ The flood of “Endless Runner” games for iOS and other handheld devices is in full swing. I can’t take the subway to work without seeing half a train car playing Subway Surf; much like last year at this time everyone was playing Temple Run. Always aspiring to be the odd-man-out, I’ve been searching for an alternative. Then I saw a tweet from @SEGA that made me smile; the blue hedgehog has released its own endless runner game called Sonic Dash.
I can’t think of a game character better suited for this genre (it’s a genre all it’s own now, right?). I have fond memories of Sonic games of the past that have been all but ruined by any modern take on the character. This simple runner is the perfect venue for Sonic and I’m sure it didn’t take a mammoth investment to make it happen.
A lot of endless runners make good use of the vertical phone screen. The graphics allow the player a distinct vantage point to see what is coming up ahead in their path. Most use smart phone’s motion sensing technology to maneuver left and right. That is where Sonic Dash starts to break from the norm. Moving left to right, as well as jumping and sliding are all done with fingers swipes. This slight difference allows the game to have a little more depth, at times having to cross multiple paths to get to a safe passage. Sonic Dash’s courses are made up of three columns. Sonic also has the element of rings. Usually, colliding with an object or villain would result in the end of the run; in classic Sonic style, having collected rings basically gives you a chance to continue. Colliding with enemies will have you lose all your rings, then continue (that is if you have any rings left). This can be a little confusing at first; colliding with enemies makes you lose all your rings, whereas hitting a wall will end your run regardless of your rings.
The “dash” in Sonic Dash is an invincible hyper-speed mode you can enter. It’s built up by collecting enough rings consecutively and is best used on some of the more complicated parts of the course. While dashing, you can blaze through enemies, walls and even jumps. Sonic Dash is not perfect. It has two glaring flaws. One, being the title screen is simply not sharp looking, almost low resolution on today’s perfect-pixel screens. Two, the constant nagging for in-game purchases is unnecessary and delays starting a fresh game for some excruciating seconds.
All in, if you like Sonic the hedgehog this game/app is worth you $1.99. If you are just a fan of endless runners, pick it up during a free download offer or wait for a sale.
I’m not going to break any news with this post. Sadly, I discovered this game after seeing dozens of fellow straphangers playing it on their phones. It was a 10(ish) year-old kid that I just had to ask. “What game is that?” Temple Run he said. Soon as I came up from the subway I downloaded it and started playing. Quickly, I discovered the secret to this game app’s addictive popularity: It’s free.
Somewhere, in a game app designer’s computer, Nathan Drake and Sonic the Hedgehog had a baby. If that description doesn’t work for you try to picture an Indiana Jones-esque world. Add in the speed and simple game controls from one of the 3rd person Sonic titles (I was pretty fond of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle personally). The result is the world of the highly addictive Temple Run.
Your character is called Guy Dangerous and he is being chased by Demon Monkeys. Racing down narrow, Aztec-like stone paths and collecting various coins along the way. That is pretty much the whole story, unless you die, then you get a witty little sign off line like “Temple slippery when wet” or “Watch your step”. Watching your step is the name of the game as the speed of the game gradually increases.
This game takes fast-passed to new levels on the iPhone. There are barely any load times at all. The opening cut scene (if you can call it that) is less than a second. Temple Run takes advantage of the vertical orientation of the phone allowing you to see the path ahead. Controlling the game relies on your ability to swipe up to jump or down to slide. Lean to either side of the path by tilting the phone left or right. The path twists and turns in sharp 90 degree angles that you must almost anticipate before seeing in order to direct your runner.
High scores are based on your distance and coins collected. Collected coins can be used to purchase power ups such as Invisibility or a Coin Magnet. Some power ups such as the Mega Coin can greatly influence your high score. Once you have a large cache of coins you can buy some big purchase items such as advanced power ups or character skins.
I almost hope that kid from the train reads this post. I got you beat kid, one-handed! My high score has been climbing by the day let me know what yours is below.
This app is a witty, little role playing game (RPG) game I picked up during a promotional free download. Fara is just the kind of light-hearted easy to play game I was looking for on my iPhone. The story in this RPG doesn’t require franchise knowledge and a deep imagination, in fact, it doesn’t take itself too seriously at all and even jokes about the user; breaking that forth wall in some comedic ways.
Your character in Fara is a lost scientist who finds himself on a mysterious island, seemingly from the past. Nothing about the island is familiar, from its name and location to its bizarre Norse-like inhabitants. After communicating with the first few friendly inhabitants they will comment on a strange creature, called a Furolles, that has attached itself to the hero’s arm. This creature not only talks and cracks jokes at your expense but will act as your weapon. Shortly after discovering this, the inhabitants of the island start to refer to you as their “chosen one”. They start to send you out on “go and fetch” type quests each of which will help you unlock more of the Fara storyline.
The graphics are two dimensional sprites in a top down view of a world, not unlike, a well known 80’s classic, The Legend of Zelda. The communication between characters is done in a very Japanese RPG (JRPG) method of showing hand drawn faces in text boxes. The art of these faces is nice but mostly it is fun to see the characters up close. None of these graphics are going to win any awards and the same can be said for the accompanying music which is straight of the of the 8-bit era.
What I do really like is the touch controls are easy to pick up even without the simple tutorial that the game provides. Weapon and inventory navigation are smartly tucked away in the lower corners of the screen and do not interfere by blocking the view of the game. In the option menu you can switch from the Touch controls to the more traditional Virtual controllers popular in most app games. I highly recommend the touch controls as you lose so much of the precious iPhone screen by displaying the Virtual controls.
My biggest problem with Fara is it lacks any sense of completion. The game keeps track of the quests you have completed in a stats menu. However in-game it can feel like nothing has changed. For example in one quest your asked to look for evidence of a lost person, eventually you will find a note this lost person left behind. After reporting the note your mission is completed. The problem occurs when you return to the area where the note was found; the note will still be there like you never found it. This problem continues throughout the game. Another fetch quest require you to find four out of four items, thing is you can continue to collect them from the same locations and get more like 8/4 items. You can’t really make any impact in a game world where every item remains where it was originally placed.
Fara isn’t the best game out there but it is a fun little romp. The gameplay isn’t hard and the story is just good enough to keep you interested. If you have a plane ride or a long car trip coming up I recommend picking it up. It’s a bit like having a knock off Zelda with slightly updated graphics in your pocket.
With my recent acquisition of an iPhone comes a growing interest for mobile game apps. The sheer number of games available is quite daunting. I was pleasantly surprised to find a familiar game available (temporary) for free: Continuity 2 for the iPhone is just what I was hoping for. This psychics based puzzler is casual enough to pick up and play for short intervals, yet difficult enough to challenge your brain for much longer.
I first played the original Continuity at one of the BabyCastles arcades, featuring independent gamers. It was definitely one of the standout games on display. Continuity challenged me and held my interest. This puzzle game involves solving mazes made up of maneuverable tiles. The tiles have to line up perfectly to create a proper path to follow. Later levels open up new opportunities such as maneuvering the iPhone itself to change the direction of gravity or lining up wires of electrical current, on different tiles, to open doors.
The simple graphics may mislead you into thinking that this is going to be an easy game. That may well be their intent. The colors seem purposely sterile and reminds me a bit of the first Portal game, which is also a physics based puzzler, where I’m being tested by some unseen force.
This is a very innovative game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see knock offs come out in the future with varied graphic skins. There is no story aspect to Continuity 2 just pure, relentless puzzling. In my head, I found myself thinking about the movie Cube while playing. Of course, Continuity 2 is much less violent and much more fun than that movie.
Always happy to see small studios with successful games
As a life long Scrabble aficionado, I was immediately excited about playing Words with Friends (Words) on my brand new iPhone 4. You can download a free version that is riddled with advertisements or spend $2.99 to get the Ad Free version. I am not a fan of paying for apps and I have no problem bypassing the advertisement that displays following each turn.
Words, a variation of Scrabble, is a delightfully fun and addictive word game that you can play with friends or strangers. Games can last an hour or 3 weeks – players can make a move anytime they want. I currently have 6 games going right now, all friends and family. It’s actually a great way to feel connected while playing a game you both enjoy. Words is my basically alternative to Facebook (since I have yet to join), it even has a built in chat feature for competitive game messaging or friendly banter. The interface is basically a Scrabble-like board, very colorful with a simple, clear graphics.
Playing a high scoring word is quite satisfying and one of the reasons I think this game is so addictive. If you use all your 7 tiles, you don’t get the 50 point bonus you enjoy when you use all your letters in Scrabble. I was disappointed when I noticed that after my first 7 letter word but there are more opportunities to earn double or triple points playing Words as opposed to Scrabble. And, I have to say my highest Words score is higher than my highest Scrabble score.
I can honestly say that I have never experienced any bugs or glitches when I play Words. That said, it would be remiss of me if I did not share with you that I have heard that the free version can be buggy. I have heard that some users experience issues with delays in the game play, problems receiving notifications that it’s your turn and even games suddenly ending for no apparent reason.
One of the things I love about Words is that you will expand your vocabulary by seeing others play words you never thought would pass. Also, if you play an invalid word, you simply get a prompt that says: “Sorry that is not an acceptable word” and you can keep trying until you submit a valid word. Sometimes, if I really want to use a certain letter in a certain space, I will try all possible combinations to guess and submit many invalid word before I will find one that will pass. This is very different from Scrabble, because when you play a word and someone challenges it, if it doesn’t pass you lose a turn!
I highly recommend this game to anyone with an iPhone or Android. It’s still gaining popularity and I believe they will release it to other platforms, such as Blackberry and Windows phones.
If you think Words with Friends is too easy, try your hand at Chess with Friends. Stay tuned for my upcoming review of Chess!