Video Game Review: Pac-Man 256 (Phones & Tablets)

*Written in 2015.

Being around on this Earth as long as Pac-Man (give or take a few years), I have played several Pac-Man titles in my day.

Apart from the original arcade game,  I really liked Pac-Mania for its 3D graphics and its unorthodox almost endless feeling mazes. Pac-Man 256 is sort of a combination of both the original game and Pac-Mania.

Named after the infamous glitch from the original game that saw the graphics go nuts on Stage 256, this game also gives meaning to the number. For one, the glitch chases you and forces you to progress through the maze vertically. Secondly, one goal in the game is to eat 256 pellets without stopping: avoiding paths without pellets all while dodging ghosts in an effort not to backtrack over paths where you already ate.

The map is infinite and you can continue to vertically climb through the maze, as long as you stay alive. Additionally, the maze is always different, so you can’t keep playing through it in an effort to master a clear path. It is a challenging endeavor and a pretty brilliant twist on what many would consider an outdated gaming formula.

Pac-Man 256 is the best Pac-Man game I have ever played. I like it better than the original even, as that game features the same map over and over. Pac-Man 256 is a much harder challenge and a more rewarding experience.

Video Game Review: Boom Beach (Phones & Tablets)

*Written in 2014.

Since having to finally give up on Windows Phone due to no new devices and lack of development, I ended up not going back to the Evil Apple and instead went Android for the first time because the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge looked like an awesome piece of hardware. It is, by the way. Amazing, actually.

Getting back on an OS that actually has a lot of stuff being developed for it was a welcome change. I forgot what it was like to have a lot of good quality games on my phone. The most addictive, by far, has been Supercell’s Boom Beach.

I’ve played this thing for countless hours now and it is one of the few games that I have actually spent money on, as far as in game currency. For me, that is a pretty big deal. Usually, once these free games start needing money in order to advance through them, I lose interest and then go on to play another.

Now I get that this money generating scheme is how these developers stay in business and initially the software is free but it is still irritating. You see, I’m still of that old school gaming generation though; the one that pays for a game and expects it all to be there.

Typically, I don’t like waiting for a timer in a game to hinder my progress. I don’t mind that so much with this game. Although, I’d still like it to be speedier.

The graphics and animation are great. The game really is pretty slick to look at and with the fun factor pretty high, it is a rare gem in smartphone games. Plus, the whole point of the game is to blow shit up – a lot of shit.

I actually need to hurry up now and finish this review, as I have to go check on my gunboat, which should be upgraded to Level 8 by now.

Video Game Review: Toy Soldiers: War Chest – Hall of Fame Edition (PlayStation 4)

There is one reason why I purchased this game and that is because I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to lead a Cobra army into war with G.I. Joe. Granted, I also wanted to play as the Joes and to try out the Eternia army lead by He-Man. If it wasn’t for the licensed properties that this game had, I wouldn’t have cared about it all that much.

The game also features an army lead by Ezio from the Assassin’s Creed games. I didn’t care about that one so much and actually haven’t played as them because I wasn’t motivated enough to buy access to it or to play through the game long enough to unlock them. And that’s one of the problems with this game, the fact that you have to buy the extra shit or work your way through countless missions in an effort to unlock stuff. I just wanted to jump in the game as Cobra and kill stuff.

I can’t complain though, as unlocking Cobra only cost me like $5 and I got the game for about $12. It’s been out for a few years and by the time I got around to it, it was more than affordable. Which is good because I would’ve been unhappy had I paid full price.

The game is fairly cool as you start to play through it. However, it gets really repetitive very quickly.

You mostly just build turrets and fix them while getting bombarded by enemy forces. As you fight, you unlock upgrades and other weapons. Eventually, you can unlock a soldier to play as on the battlefield but it doesn’t last very long.

In the case of Cobra, you get to run around and kill things as Cobra Commander. But that’s kind of odd, as Cobra Commander is a total coward that usually sits behind the battle in a massive temple or some big armored vehicle protected by a wall of other armor vehicles. It would’ve made more sense to make someone like Major Blood an on the field commando.

Still, this is a fun game for the most part but after a few hours, I was done with it. I may fire it up once in awhile when I want to live vicariously through Cobra soldiers shooting plastic armies but it isn’t an urge I get too often.

It’d actually be cool if this game spun off into its own G.I. Joe or Masters of the Universe real time strategy game but even then, they’d have to make it more exciting, less redundant and add in a solid story of some sort. But it’s a good template for something more ambitious than what this is on its own.

Video Game Review: Transformers: Earth Wars (Phones & Tablets)

Transformers: Earth Wars is a real time strategy MMORPG. It’s kind of like Boom Beach but with Transformers characters, which immediately makes it superior. I also prefer the playing style of this game, even though I was quite the avid Boom Beach player for a year or so, at one point.

One thing that actually makes this a more fun experience than games like it, is that upgrading doesn’t seem to be as much of a resource depleted/time consuming hassle. I’ve progressed at a speed that has helped to keep me engaged and invested. I’ve now gotten to the point where some upgrades take a few days but you can upgrade up to five things at the same time. Plus, getting material isn’t as painstakingly difficult as it is in similar games. You can get building materials pretty quickly in battles and since you can upgrade your characters fairly quickly, acquiring more materials is pretty easy. I often times find myself with more materials than I need.

On the flip side, when your base is attacked by other players, it isn’t as catastrophic to your progress as it probably should be but I like this. Maybe those similar games could learn from this one, as not getting pillaged for your essential materials keeps you moving forward at a swift pace instead of constantly getting close to an important upgrade only to get hit by an attack and pretty much finding yourself back to square one. That is actually what eventually turned me off from Boom Beach, as I was stuck in an endless limbo.

Transformers: Earth Wars is a well balanced game for its style. You have to work at it but you are rewarded at a pace that is acceptable and keeps you wanting to play. The events and the alliance aspects of the game are also well crafted. It’s the first time where I’ve played a game like this and I wasn’t in an alliance that needed me to be engaged 24/7. That’s hard to do when you have a life. This game gives you a good mix of events, war and regular play, which is important if you need to battle for materials.

Video Game Review: Real Boxing 2 – Rocky (Phones & Tablets)

Real Boxing was pretty popular on its own but once they did the sequel and made it Rocky Balboa themed, featuring all 6 movies as well as Creed, it got my attention.

I’ve never been a fan of boxing games on phones or tablets. However, Real Boxing 2 – Rocky has better controls than the other games I’ve tried over the years on various phones and operating systems.

The problem is, the controls still aren’t great. I think it is just hard to make a boxing game that is somewhat realistic and even harder to get it to feel that way when all you can do is swipe your phone screen. But at least there was a solid effort at making it work, here.

The highlight of the game is that you get to unlock skins for all the key fighters from the Rocky franchise. But there is a lot of filler and a huge roster of other boxers that make the game feel overloaded and convoluted.

Additionally, it is hard to progress once you get beyond the initial stages. You can’t train or really improve unless you are willing to lose a lot of matches just to slowly build up stats. The challenge curve is too great for how you progress and you’ll feel invincible for a half dozen matches then suddenly you fight like a chump. You can only really keep up with how hard the game becomes, if you want to start dropping money.

I was excited and enthused when I started playing this game but I lost interest after a few days and after stacking up loses because I wasn’t yet convinced that spending money was going to be worth it. I don’t think that it is because the game will make it impossible to progress unless you don’t like winning, love being thrown to the wolves and have the patience to plug away at this game a lot longer than anyone really has time for.

Video Game Review: Stranger Things: The Game (Phones & Tablets)

I’m certainly one of the millions of Stranger Things fans in the world today. I am also a fan of old school 8-bit gaming. However, mobile games are usually shit, so I wasn’t expecting much out of this game. I was wrong though, it’s pretty damn spectacular and just like the show it’s based on, the creators made something that truly feels like a real throwback and certainly drums up some serious nostalgia.

The game plays like a bird’s-eye-view action RPG like the original The Legend of Zelda. The mechanics are good, the game is fun and you don’t really get tired of it, as you unlock new characters quickly enough for things not to get too redundant.

You have to go around and collect eight Eggo waffles, similar to how Link had to collect eight pieces of the Triforce in the first Zelda. To get most of them, you have to enter dungeons, also like Zelda. Except the dungeons aren’t dungeons per se, they’re places like the middle school, library, the spooky lab from the show and a few other notable places you’ll remember from the series.

My only complaint is that I wish that the game was bigger. You can cross the map pretty quickly and even though there’s a lot to do, I beat the game with 100 percent in about six hours.

Still, this game is a real throwback and a lot of fun. Plus, the game is free, which is friggin’ unheard of nowadays because even free games try to push you into buying upgrades and other bullshit.

I have to give this a perfect score because mobile games are pretty much garbage but this is one that was designed and executed right. I hope they update it periodically and either expand it or give us a solid sequel in the future.

Video Game Review: DragonSoul (Phones & Tablets)

*written in 2016.

Per Blue did a fantastic job with their game DragonSoul. It is one of the most addictive phone games I have played.

I should state that it does exist in that freemium format, as in its free to download and play but you’ve got to spend money if you want to advance at a quicker pace. I’ve spent some money on it but not an arm and a leg and I’ve progressed pretty rapidly. Also, you are rewarded with your purchases through their pretty sweet VIP program. Besides, what phone game isn’t freemium anymore?

The game has nice graphics and good character design. The mechanics are solid and the fights are pretty entertaining. Additionally, the game really benefits from a very leveled system of game play. Per Blue has done a pretty great job with updates and staying on top of issues and constantly improving their product.

Another thing that makes this pocket RPG great, is that Per Blue is constantly introducing new aspects to the game all the time. There are the standard quests, the elite quests, expeditions, the Crypt, the Temple, the Mountain, daily challenges, boss battles, the Fight Pit, the Coliseum and the newest awesome addition, the Guild War. The game also offers up a variety of shops with a multitude of items to help on building your characters.

DragonSoul also boasts, at this time, close to 40 playable characters. More have been introduced each month that I have played the game, which means that there is always something to do and a character to work on. If Per Blue keeps this up, they could have a game that goes on forever.

If you are looking for good and simple RPGs, this one does the trick. All the options and game types might seem overwhelming at first but once you start playing, everything is pretty easy to handle and manage. There isn’t a steep learning curve and things stay pretty straightforward. This definitely isn’t one of the hundreds of overly complex RPGs out there, many of which aren’t free.