Sword Art Online: Integral Factor Review

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Sword Art Online has always been known for having video games where the plot seems like a bit of a backdrop. Sometimes nothing actually happens until the very end as the characters just hang out and have a lot of fun. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and I have enjoyed the last SAO games to an extent. At the very least the gameplay is always a lot of fun. However, that’s the catch. If the plot isn’t too engaging then you need the gameplay to be top notch and I’m afraid that this one just didn’t quite make it that far. Part of me feels like I needed to give it more of a chance, but considering how long I’ve had the game I think it is just that the gameplay didn’t pop out enough. It could have done better.

The premise of the game is what if Arc 1 happened, but you were around to save everybody. While Kirito is usually known as the hero of this world, what if you were the one actually responsible for saving it? You play as a bland character with no real name who shows up one day. Naturally there is a new heroine as well and since she isn’t used to fighting games like this one she is counting on you to lead the way. So far…that’s really all that’s happened. I made it up to somewhere around the halfway point of episode 1, but the game refuses to progress. The task master keeps sending you into the forests to grab a bunch of plants and potions over and over again. Rather than sending you to get all of them at once he is doing it one at a time. By the 10th trip back and forth you will be wondering what the point of all this was. I just want to go ahead and fight the boss. The current mission I’m on is to grab more plants.

I’m fine with a slow boiling plot but the missions should at least feel slightly relevant. These just don’t make any sense and usually a mobile game should try to suck you in at first. You need to start off with some big events and then tone it down and throw in the filler missions to buy time. This game just didn’t have the balance right and the story is the main reason why I finished so quickly. It just wasn’t even trying.

Then we have the gameplay which fortunately was on point. This part is actually the most impressive bit. The screen adds a little control pad onto it that is actually interactive. Meaning that for once you can actually move around and fight in 3D. The gameplay is the same as your average beat em up which is something that I didn’t really expect to see on the mobile side of things. It’s pretty impressive and that’s the highlight of the game. In terms of pure gameplay it is probably the best mobile game to date. It helps take away the repetitious nature of the game a bit. I have heard that the gameplay gets repetitive though and since there are only 1-2 attacks I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case. Still, at the moment it hadn’t had that affect.

The animation looks really stunning for the main menu, but in game it’s a little less impressive. I’ve heard that the game also diverges a little further from the actual arc as characters like Leafa show up. Essentially think of this as an alternate version of the arc where all of Kirito’s friends from the future also got to appear. That should make clearing the game a whole lot easier right? Unfortunately the game doesn’t really have a soundtrack. Just another element that hurts this game quite a bit.

As with Dragon Ball Legends there are a lot of features here that I don’t really understand but the game doesn’t even try to spell them out for you. It’s like a big mystery, but one that the game doesn’t want to help you out with. I didn’t really try to get into all of that stuff. I figure that I’ll still be strong enough to beat whatever bosses go my way right? The Story Mode is really the only mode to play here, but you can choose to fight the levels with online players helping you out or doing it offline. I’ve heard tat it gets near impossible to do it all solo by the end so we’ll see if that’s true. (If I ever go back)

The campaign seems like it’s quite long and the game has a ton of replay value so you don’t have to worry about a lack of content here. Really, the only issue is whether the game will hold your attention long enough for it to matter. See, mobile games are good for short sessions on the go or when you don’t have time for a normal game. Online Mobile games already destroy the first part and if they are too intricate with long levels than it beats the second one as well. This game is unfortunately in both categories as I believe even when playing solo you need an internet connection. There’s also not much that you can do in a short play through. This game would have ironically been a lot better as a full fledged SAO game. Not to mention that the plot would be perfect for it as well.

Overall, I do applaud how ambitious the game is when it comes to the gameplay. The way it is set up this game could last for quite a while. Still, it just isn’t interesting enough to play when there are so many other options on the field. Perhaps that will change and I still have it downloaded so perhaps I will check it out at some point when I have less games to juggle, but that will be a long ways away. If this sounds like it’s up your ally then check it out, but my recommendation isn’t quite as confident as for most of the other games. This one just isn’t on quite the same level.

Overall 6/10

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Dragon Ball Legends Review

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It’s time to look at a recent app game that was getting a lot of hype when it was coming out. Finally, Dragon Ball was getting a big fighting game that would take the world by storm. It felt like this was a long time coming. After playing the game for a while, I can definitely say that there is more to it than a lot of other titles. It still does have some limitations of course and is rather slow paced as you can expect from a game that will try to drag itself out for a few years, but it’s a solid way to spend some time and continue the story from Super.

The plot follows a Saiyan named Shallot. He has amnesia which is always a convenient plot device since this way he can start off rather weak and grow stronger as the game progresses. He doesn’t know what is happening, but fortunately Beerus is here to explain. There is a big tournament going on that spans all of time. Fighters have been brought over from every era in order to participate. The intent is to see who the strongest of all is…in theory. Actually, Beerus is being forced to do this by an unknown villain who has kidnapped the Supreme Kai. He wants us to figure out who is pulling the strings, but honestly that sounds rather difficult if this guy decides not to enter the tournament. Don’t focus on the plot too much I guess. Shallot is on board so he will now team up with Bulma from the original Dragon Ball series as well as Jaco to try and win this thing.

The reason why the OP Super versions of the characters were not brought into the mix is because the villain is apparently keeping tabs on them so Beerus doesn’t dare approach. Of course, you may be wondering why they haven’t just shown up yet anyway as they one shot everyone. So far we have only been running across guys from Arc 1 of DBZ so surely they wouldn’t be much of an obstacle. The in universe reason may be that the place is simply so massive that you can have a bunch of battles going on at once, but out of universe it’s just that the game wants to trickle in the characters arc by arc. I hope they speed it up a little though because it feels like otherwise this will be one of those games that dies out long before it hits the final arc.

Part 1 just ended earlier today so I’m not sure how long the wait will be until Part 2. Hopefully it’s just a short wait so then the game’s plot actually will be able to move. If it’s like Fire Emblem Heroes then we can expect a new chapter every 2 weeks and since each part is 7 chapters then we’ll finish a part roughly every 4 months. That’s quite a bit of time so hopefully it is a little quicker than that. While the plot may not be very believable it is a fun one so I’ll give the game some props there. I’ll also give it some more for making Shallot an actual character as opposed to someone with no actual name that has no real personality. He even talks a bit as the game does include a bit of voice acting. (To be precise, Shallot talks a lot, but you hear him once in a while)

Shallot is a decent enough character even if he is pretty rude the whole time. He’s constantly yelling at everyone and can’t seem to really grasp the concept of power levels. Since he couldn’t even beat Nappa at first, what makes him think that he can take on someone like Beerus? There’s being confident and then there’s just putting up a weak front. His Zenkai Boosts are fairly good though as he went from Raditz level to Zarbon in a single part. Maybe by the end of the second part he will be up to Final Form Frieza or something. That would definitely be neat.

We also have the rival character who shows up for a bit. He’s an interesting figure who is more of a specialist than a fighter. He can teleport and use various magical spells to complement his sword based fighting style. He ran off though and I don’t recall his name at the moment, but I’m sure that we haven’t seen the last of him. There is also Dark Shallot who shows up near the end. It seems that he might be the future version of the normal Shallot so that will make for a fun match. He’s considerably stronger than the heroic version which is to be expected, but fortunately Goku put him in his place. Since this is Super Goku he should be leagues stronger than any of these fighters.

The graphics are pretty good and the game certainly put a lot of effort into them. The opening cinematic is excellent and wouldn’t look out of place in a big budget title. The gameplay animations are smooth and the character models are on point. Meanwhile the soundtrack is a little weak, but hopefully they will add more tunes soon. Mobile games don’t tend to have a lot of them, but I’d certainly like to see that.

Then we come to the gameplay. It is your typical tap fighter, but with a few extra gameplay wrinkles to make it more unique. You are given some cards during the battle. They come in 4 types, punches, ki blasts, special attack, and status change. They are fairly explanatory, but once you get hit by the punch or ki blast you are stuck in hit stun and must eat a full combo. Each fighter has 100 energy so if you get hit by the first combo and they have 3 more cards with energy totaling less than what they have left you must eat 4 combos in a row. You can potentially beat an opponent in one shot like this. Most fights are 3 on 3 so use your strategy here. Do you want to use your combo right away or save it until the final fighter? Then you’ve got burst rush which is essentially a one hit KO attack in most circumstances. You only get 1 per battle so use it wisely. Then you’ve got dodging and character specific abilities which don’t need cards. There’s a lot to master here so try to get used to it all. I definitely find the gameplay pretty fun. It’s probably the closest thing we’ll ever get to a true 3D fighter on the mobile since there is no control stick to use.

Your character levels also matter quite a lot here. Each character can go up to level 1000 and at that level your attacks do massive damage. There is almost no way for a weaker fighter to beat a stronger one if the gap is wide enough and your levels stick with you online as opposed to other games. At the moment I am 10-0 online, but most of my opponents were bots. Supposedly that issue was fixed today so I imagine my win rate would drop if I went back. Maxing out anyone will take a long time unless you pay since materials and Zenny don’t just grow on trees. Of course if you play the game enough then of course you can speed up the process.

As far as the game modes go you have the main story and PVP. You also have mini stories that follow the DBZ anime without the OC character (Up to Nappa at the moment) and daily missions you can complete for extra energy and characters. There are also Adventures where you send a character off for a few hours and they bring you back items in return. Then we have actual Missions where you get rewards for completing objectives. There are even more modes in store for you but that’s the general premise. When it comes to replay value this game is basically infinite but of course it can also be easy to burn yourself out if you play it too hard. Now that I’m caught up with the story I’ve dialed it back a bit like with Sonic Forces. That game eventually died completely but this one should at least live as much as Fire Emblem Heroes until the story is over. I just check in every other week to play the latest story although in Dragon Ball I’ll try to at least keep the daily streak alive for the items and keep sending my guys off to train to get the easy level ups.

Finally, I have to give the game some props for how they handle reused fighters. In Fire Emblem Heroes it’s annoying to get an old hero because it is basically worthless. You just have to trash the fighter for a few feathers, but you need 20000 to actually have something to use them on. Here the copies help to limit break your character. It’s possible that once the character is maxed then the copy won’t be of any use, but at least I feel like it’ll be a long while before that happens. There are also many parts of the game that I still don’t understand and likely won’t, but people who love to find out everything will have a blast studying this game.

Overall, Dragon Ball Legends lives up to the hype of being one of the big mobile games. I’d certainly say that it does a much better job of that than Sword Art Online did. (Review pending) In that game’s case it was simply a little too ambitious. Dragon Ball is definitely a title that I would highly recommend. There is a lot to do here even if the story is fairly early on and with the Broly event starting today this is your perfect chance to bet on your luck and hope you get him. As there aren’t many characters right now the odds of getting the one you want is pretty high. (I got Broly on my daily draw)

Overall 8/10

Miraculous Ladybug & Cat Noir Review

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It’s time to look at the latest stop in the App game tour. This one certainly wasn’t quite as long lived as Lollipop and Fruits Mania as there are only 80 levels. I was able to complete them all in the course of around 4-5 days. It’s a really fun game though and while it may be lacking in content it does leave me more time for other titles so that’s not such a bad thing. The game does have more of a focus than the other Free Runner that I’ve played (Sonic Forces Speed Battle) since it does have a loose plot and a sense of progression as you try to get to the end.

Again, when I say “plot” it’s in the loosest sense of the word. Each batch of 5 levels has a black and white set of photos. Each time you complete a level the photo is changed into one that is full color until the set of 5 is over and you move on. Every time you complete 10 levels the villains change so if I had to hazard a guess I would say that the game covers 8 episodes of the show. I haven’t seen the show so I can’t confirm this and maybe the game is making its own plot up. Either way, you are here for the gameplay first and foremost.

The gameplay is a 3D style as you run forward. The levels don’t end until you fulfill the objective. The goal is always to grab a certain amount of collectibles in the level. 500 ladybugs, 20 power ups, etc. There are 3 levels to each goal. Obtaining at least a bronze will allow you to progress further in the game, but obtaining the gold rank will put you in the safest spot. After all, you need a certain amount of stars to progress so not getting them now will only add more things to do when you reach the end game. I had to go back and get more stars twice, but for the most part I made sure to get 3 stars on all of the levels. The stats for this game will be published in a post right after this one. You can jump and slide under objects to get the harder to reach objects. Running on walls is a fairly unique mechanic to this game and is fun as it gives you more options.

Now, what kind of free runner would this be without special abilities? You can fire energy blasts if you get the Yo Yo power up or even survive a single hit if you get the shield. The best power up is the magnet as it drags the ladybugs over to you and the 2X power is nearly as good as it doubles the ladybugs that you can collect. You can use the ladybugs to upgrade your abilities later on and trust me, you’ll most certainly appreciate maxing those powers out. It makes the levels a lot easier and also shortens the time it takes to max out your abilities. Odds are that you will beat the game before you are able to max out your abilities though.

Ladybugs are your main currency but then you’ve also got the butterflies. You can spend 5 of them in order to revive once in a level. Honestly, it’s usually not worth it though and I would save the butterflies to use in the shop for more ladybugs and such. A revive doesn’t go a long way and ultimately it’s best to just hone your skills so that you won’t need it. If it’s important that you beat a certain level then by all means you should go for it. Still, it’s not too urgent since you get unlimited retries and don’t have to worry about an energy meter like in Fire Emblem Heroes.

The graphics are definitely pretty nice. The character models are definitely on point and the screens are clear. Occasionally it can be hard to see an obstacle until the last second, but that’s really just because of how fast you are moving. The game even squeezed in a few quick cutscenes each time you defeat a boss at the end of a 10 level set and whenever you get enough ladybugs to transform. These cutscenes are pretty solid, but I’m glad that they are skippable as you wouldn’t want to see them every time. It’s the same cinematic for all levels so feel free to skip them after the first time.

The soundtrack is rather bland though. It only has 1 tune and unfortunately it’s one of those games that disables your audio for other apps. This means that I can’t be listening to Pandora while playing it like with the other games and that’s unfortunate. It’s not a bad tune for this game, but hearing it nonstop can certainly get a little old. I like to have my musical freedom as a fast paced song will likely just help my skills even more.

There isn’t much for replay value here. I suppose you can aim to grab all of the pictures though. To do that you will have to obtain chests and wait a few hours to unlock them. Waiting is easy as you can just turn off the app, but to get the chests in the first place you need some ladybugs to unlock them or to find one in a level. The latter only seems to happen when you don’t already have one. I don’t think the grind would be all that bad though so I’d say to go for it. You can also just boost your trophy count by playing some of the Infinite Levels.

Overall, This is a pretty fun game. I wouldn’t say that it does anything special, but it’s fun and that’s the important thing. It’s a game that is very easy to get into and just start playing. The levels are fairly short so it’s not a big investment in time and it just looks very crisp. The lack of content would hurt if you paid money for this game, but since it is free I don’t think I would consider that to be a problem. I’d recommend checking this game out and seeing what you think of it.

Overall 7/10

Domino’s Piece of the Pie Pursuit Review

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After a lot of procrastinating I finally got around to playing the new Domino’s game. After all if it’s something that will help you earn Pizza points how could I refuse? It’s definitely got a little effort put into it but I wouldn’t say that the game is all that amusing. I don’t see myself ever replaying it after all. Still, if you’re looking for a motion game where you have to move carefully through the obstacles then this will be right up your alley.

There are 6 levels here and each one is a little different. For example one of them plays out like a Monkey Ball level as you try to avoid the holes in the ground and roll to the goal. It’s probably the most well thought out level. I’ve always liked that game series as it can get quite difficult but never unfair. Some points in this level are incredibly difficult but fortunately there are constant checkpoints so you never have to go too far back. That’s something that I definitely appreciated from the game. Without the checkpoint I’m sure that the game wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable.

Another level has you controlling a balloon as you glide from place to place. It’s a pretty interesting concept as you use the fans to keep it on course. It seems difficult to win this level without dying though as the balloon has a tendency to get into bad angles but fortunately the checkpoint fixes that.

Next to we have a level where you manipulate really small balls to try and go down the tunnel. You have to get 10 balls into the correct hole in multiple phases. It’s a pretty fun level although it’s also rather easy as you appear to have an infinite amount of balls. The level is less interesting than the last 2.

The most bland level in the game is probably one where you have to roll sideways from platform to platform. You’ll certainly get there eventually, you just gotta keep going. There’s also a 3D roller where you move from side to side. It’s pretty similar to the Monkey Ball level but with less control so it’s not quite as good. Still not a bad level though.

As far as the graphics go the game looks okay. It’s like what you would expect from a tech demo or something. The colors are clear and everything looks as it should but the actual objects are super basic. Nothing wrong with that but of course it does make it fairly easy for the graphics to look good so don’t go thinking that it’s because this is a AAA game or anything.

There isn’t really a soundtrack here. There is one static theme that keeps showing up a lot but that’s about it. It’s fairly calm and peaceful though so it fit the levels well. Let’s talk about the real trouble here though. There is basically no replay value to be found here. That’s because the 6 levels is all the content in the game. You can’t earn any extra rewards either so the only possible reason to play the games again is to increase your star rank. I don’t know about you but I don’t think that is a good enough incentive to keep me playing. The game is free so it’s not like you lose any money but make no mistake, you’ll only be playing around for about 10 minutes and then after that the game will be over.

Overall, It’s cool that Domino’s made their own game. All things considered I think that they put a decent amount of effort into it. As most people will be playing it for the coupon I’m glad that it doesn’t take too much effort to get it. It’s not a game that I expect I will ever play again but I’d recommend downloading it. Pizza doesn’t get much better than Domino’s so this coupon is definitely pretty handy.

Overall 5/10

Lollipop Review

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Time to look at the first connect 4 app title I’ve ever played. It’s pretty impressive how much the genre has exploded. There are hundreds of apps on the market just like these. Candy Crush is really what started this segment of the market and it has since grown into something pretty impressive. It is definitely a really fun genre but just playing one or two of them is enough for you to have your fill. Taking on more would just be overwhelming. For me Lollipop was the first and also the best.

You probably already remember the gameplay from my Fruits Mania review so I shall be brief. The goal of the game is typically to match a lot of candy. You can do this in pairs of 3 or greater. The longer the match, the better the reward. A match of 5 will get you the rainbow orb which can destroy all candy of a single color which is extremely handy. Other levels have you trying to match near cookies or getting a cake from the top to the bottom. There are certainly quite a few variations for the levels. I’d say that the best kind is when you have to break a large number of crackers. Those are just the most satisfying to play. You still need strategy but you can just jump in and start marching.

The worst levels are the ones that pop up really late in the game where there will be prisons outside the level and the only way to hit them is to detonate a row bomb in just the right row. It just feels like you need a lot of luck to clear a level like this and the game is basically just telling you to buy the item that you want. This is the kind of game that is definitely pay to win as buying an item like this will really come in handy.

The main game mode is the only mode in the game as you would expect. The replay value is in the sheer number of levels that are included as getting through all 1000+ will be considerably tough. Not to mention that the game is still going as well. You’ll burn out if you try to go through them too quickly so it’s important to just go through a few at a time. Naturally if you are a huge fan and don’t think this will happen to you then you should go ahead and play to your heart’s content.

There isn’t much to say about the graphics or the soundtrack since it is all the most generic themes you can think of. They certainly feel like they are all free domain themes and there isn’t any real variety. It would be nice to have something more than that, but it isn’t entirely unexpected considering that this is a pretty low budget game anyway. The company must have a huge profit margin here because they have 10 games of more that are exactly the same as the others, only they are slightly altered visually. A unique mechanic here or there, but it’s likely not hard to maintain compared to other games. I do think the game looks a lot better than Fruits Mania though because of the color scheme. Blue just pops out and the island esque theme just looks more impressive. It’s definitely quite subjective though.

The app market has really taken off and after laying some of these games I can see why. They certainly are no replacement for console games and if given the option I would choose the latter every time. However, it’s the times where a console game isn’t available that these really shine. Since the levels are quick it is ready to be played at any time. The levels are quite fun as well so it will always remain a tempting option. I could easily see a more dedicated app player beating all of the levels and moving on to one of the other versions just to get more levels.

Naturally as this is a very mainstream app game there are a bunch of pay to win mechanics. You can buy whatever items you want with real world currency. They are fairly cheap but once you’ve bought enough the total will definitely start to spike. Any level can become a cake walk if you buy enough items. It’s one thing Pokémon Go has always done well. You can’t buy candy, stardust, exp, or Pokémon. Without the option to do those things, it effectively prevents the P2W strategy. You will still have an edge if you spend money but it’s not quite as immediate or obvious as in other games. Sonic Forces is unfortunately like this one in that regard as you can just keep buying more loot boxes until you are maxed out with your level.

Overall, your enjoyment of Lollipop will likely depend on how many of the other clones you’ve already played. If this is your first one, then that’s perfect. It will feel really fresh and you’ll be absolutely engaged with the game. If you’ve played others, then this will just seem like more of the same. There aren’t any bells and whistles here. It’s just the gameplay, take it or leave it. At the very least, I know it’s an app that I can easily use to pass the time by, but more often than not, I have other options for that.

Overall 7/10

Fruits Mania: Elly’s Travel Review

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It’s been a while since I last reviewed a mobile game. This time it’s one that isn’t a franchise title so you may be wondering why I picked it up. Well, the game was recommended by a few colleagues and so I quickly made it my mission to get reasonably far in it. After completing over 150 levels, I can definitely say that I have achieved my goal. I actually started this one after Lollipop so I will make some references to it but that review will be coming after this one.

The gameplay is very basic but there are a few advanced rules that you have to find out on your own as the game keeps them from you. The objective of each level varies but typically you have to destroy a certain amount of blocks in various colors or the crackers underneath them. Sometimes you will have to escort candy to the bottom of the level. You do all of this by matching colors in groups of 3 or greater. Groups of 4 will allow you to destroy a whole row or column while 5 will let you destroy a whole color on the board. Use these combos strategically in order to clear the level. Luck does play a large role in this game, but there is still the skill aspect as well. You can’t just blindly blow up blocks and expect to win. Some advanced techniques you can do are to merge explosion blocks or any kind of special block really for intense results. Hit a line block with a rainbow and it will cause a very large chain reaction. This resulting explosion can really change the landscape of the entire level and grant you a swift victory. Of course, it is incredibly difficult to accomplish such a feat.

There is nothing else to do here except the main levels so you really have to enjoy the gameplay if you want to keep playing. There are over 1000 levels though so you don’t really need to worry about running out for a very long time. I don’t care how good you are at this game, clearing it will take time. I’m fairly close to level 200 but the game is getting to be quite difficult now so my pace has slowed considerably. You do get special items every now and then, but it seems to be based on your play time so it doesn’t come as frequently as in Lollipop. Use your items wisely as you will certainly miss them once they are gone.

One thing that is unique to Fruits Mania over Lollipop is that it has actual boss fights. You attack them with your blocks. It’s really just like a normal level, but don’t underestimate it. The toughest levels are still when you have to escort fruits to the bottom of the screen as you have to either plan out your moves and their effects to a very high degree or just depend on RNG.

There isn’t really a soundtrack of course. There are some decent sound effects, but that’s really it. As far as the graphics go, it’s nice and clear. The art style isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t give it much praise since it’s not like it has much to do anyway. It’s just the same fruits in each level so I doubt it takes too much time to set it up. The game is a brilliant idea from the developers because they can just keep on generating new levels which are just the old ones, but switched out a little. It’s most impressive if you ask me. From the gamer side you won’t even mind this much because the core gameplay is what’s fun. It’s not like there is a whole lot more they can do with the game without possibly damaging the formula. They do add new mechanics from time to time, but they have to be careful not to overdo it.

The replay value goes without saying here since 1000+ levels will take forever. Each world has 50 levels and I’m only on World 4 I believe. This app succeeds in what apps are intended to do, make the time pass by quickly. It doesn’t need the internet so you can play the game while in the subway and if you’re stuck in a level you don’t have to worry as the game will give you powerful items before you know it. The best items are the capsules that take out whole rows and columns. They are just so overpowered. .

Overall, Fruits Mania is certainly an addicting mobile title. It’s a step under Lollipop but that could very well be because I played the other game first. As the levels are quick it is easy to pick up and play at any time. I doubt I’ll ever complete all of the levels, but it’s a fun game. I’d recommend checking this out if it’s up your alley but if you already have a game that you like to go too in this category, then there isn’t much point to switching.

Overall 7/10

Sonic Forces: Speed Battle Review

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It’s time for the latest app game that I decided to check out. Given that Sonic Forces was basically hype confirmed I was thrilled to hear about the mobile app. On the surface Sonic Forces is just another free runner so there’s nothing really special about it. Sonic already does have a free runner game when you think about it and that one has many more levels and characters. At the same time, I’ve never played any of those before so it all felt fresh to me. It’s definitely a fun game but one with diminishing returns unlike Pokémon Go which only gets more enjoyable as you level up. It’s a fun game but one that won’t last for very long.

There is only one mode, free run. If you were hoping for 1V1 battles or mini games/a story then you’re out of luck. Every race brings 4 random racers together and you race for the goal. 1st Place will give you around 10 trophies and it typically takes 500 to level up. As you can see it takes a lot of races to level up towards the end and especially when you are fighting tougher opponents who won’t let you take 1st. You start out with 2 stages to play on and as you level up you unlock better stages and better rewards. The rewards are the points you get towards unlocking a specific character. It’s randomized and the characters are divided into rarity tiers so you’ll see how eventually you will have far more cards for characters like Sonic than Metal Sonic for example. Since this is the only mode in the game you will want to really enjoy it.

The game suffered from bad connection errors for a little while but eventually it was able to fix itself. Now there are no issues with the gameplay which is certainly good since that is the entire game in a nutshell. There is definitely a lot of skill involved as you jump over obstacles and slide under others. You want to optimize your run and figure out the fastest way to clear a level. Given that you will be playing the stages very often, that shouldn’t be hard at all.

There are three different levels in the game. The first is your user level. Upgrading this will help you with rings and your special attacks will be stronger. You get the exp for it by leveling upyour characters. Second is your online level, this is what gets you the better loot boxes and allows you to play more stages. You level this up by winning battles online. Finally there are the individual character levels. You beef these up by getting their cards from treasure chests. They amplify the character’s abilities by a small amount but it’s enough to rip the scales your way. As far as I can tell each character has 16 levels total. I can’t confirm that of course as I don’t have anyone who is over level 8 but it’s based on a little guide they have in the game on what you unlock with each level. I’m sure the exp requirement skyrockets by the end so only the most serious of players, or the ones who pay a bunch will reach that point.

The graphics are really sharp. The character models are really well done and the backgrounds are a blast. It at least does feel like a lot of effort went into the graphics. I also enjoy the music but it’s just the one theme which can be a bit repetitive at times. It’s the inspirational version of the main Sonic Forces theme so it’s fitting for any fast paced race I’d say. They should definitely add more themes in as you level up though. Each stage should honestly have its own theme and I can’t even see how that would be tough to implement. Shouldn’t they just grab the songs they need from Sega and put it in?

There’s definitely a lot of replay value to the point where it’s infinite but how fun is this replay value? After all, there’s no point if you’re not going to try and collect everything. As I alluded to in the intro, the game slowly loses the joy that it had from the start. I think the biggest detractor is how you will actually lose points once you level up if you get 3rd or 4th which is unfortunate since the competition does get a lot stronger do it will be tough to get in the top 2 after a while. The sheer repetition of playing the same level over and over again will get to you. If you think about it, most mobile games effectively have you doing the same things over and over again but they cleverly mask this or the gameplay is so fun that it doesn’t even matter. You can say that Pokémon Go is incredibly repetitive but at least it is also a blast at the same time. That’s not to say that this game isn’t fun though. I think it’s the kind of game that is best in small doses. Just play a few races every day and you’re set. I’ll give it some props for being lenient on how long you can play as well. Some games have an energy meter so you can only play a certain amount each day. Fire Emblem has that but it’s so lenient that it barely ever matters. Forces limits how many chests you can get in a day, but that’s all. You can keep playing to your heart’s content.

Overall, Speed Battle is a good app. I think it’s definitely a title that you can have fun with for a little while. I don’t think you will enjoy it quite as much if you’ve played any other free runner though as then this one won’t even feel fresh from the start. Even aside from the fact that there isn’t much variety in the gameplay, I’d at least like for the rewards to be more reasonable. You’d have to win hundreds of races to get to one of the higher levels and I just can’t see myself doing that. It would be such a large time commitment and at the end of the day these apps are fun for playing a little here and there. Not for big play sessions. I’d recommend checking this game out as it is free and all so there’s really nothing to lose but don’t expect the game to hold you over for very long. That’s just the kind of game it is and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There is a lot of missed opportunities here though. (No Infinite?)

Overall 7/10

Fire Emblem Heroes Review

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It’s time for a new App game! Since I got to Level 40 in Pokemon Go I figured it would be fine to finally check out another free game. This one got a lot of hype back in the day, but I think I got on the gravy train before it completely passed me by. After playing it for a few days I can definitely see why everyone loves it so much. The game is incredibly polished for a free game and it has helped make me a much bigger Fire Emblem fan than I was before. There’s so much to do here that if I took it seriously I would be here a while. It’s going to be more of a side project as new levels come in I’ll complete them and all but I won’t bother going for the more competitive goals.

The game actually has a plot which is already cool. Terry (Your original character protagonist) is summoned into the World of Fire Emblem. The realm is under attack by an evil sorceress with immeasurable power. She has enslaved whole worlds and almost the whole cast is under her power. Terry can tip the balance because he can summon heroes of his own to combat her and he is immune to mind control. You have to team up with the ones who summoned you to stop this foe and rescue everyone who has been enslaved. It’ll be tough though as you’ll have to defeat tough combatants like Lucina, Roy, Ike, and many others. Also, there are so many worlds that as soon as you leave one, the sorceress goes back to reclaim it.

It seems like new levels are added every once in a while, but I don’t expect the game plans to end the campaign anytime soon. The most recent level did end with a big plot twist though. It was one that was certainly expected, but it still counts as progression. There are 12 Story chapters I believe and 10 Protologues, with 2 Xenologues. It’s a pretty good amount of content. I beat the story part of the game in about 2 days, but there is a lot of other content to explore. There are online Arena Battles where you fight other players, Training Stadiums to level up and collect gems, Special Battles where you can fight new matches every day to get more characters and items, Voting Gauntlets, and several other modes.

This game is not lacking in content in the slightest and I probably didn’t even get to try all of the modes for about a week or so. It’s actually very overwhelming at first, but you gradually get used to it as you play more and more. Too much content is never a bad thing after all. If I don’t want to play a mode, then nothing is forcing me to do so. The main currency in the game are Orbs. You get around 5-8 every day for logging in. You can use 20 to purchase a full set of 5 characters. You can also use 1 to replenish your energy each time you run out and you can use 1 during a fight to restore all of your characters and they all get an extra turn. You don’t want to be too frivolous with the Orbs when you start because they get more scarce as you go on.

I mentioned the energy earlier and that determined what you can do every day. Each action costs energy and when you run out you have to use an orb or just stop playing for the day. That’s how they get you as you can purchase extra orbs. I know quite a few people online who’ve spent hundreds on orbs so they could get their favorite character. I definitely won’t be spending any money on this game though. In part it’s because Pokemon Go was my only exception to that rule and also because the game is quite generous with the orbs. I have never been in a spot where I was out of orbs and needed energy or even been in a situation where I was close to that. You would also need to play quite a lot in a single day to approach that limit. It should be a non factor for most players.

Once you’ve beaten the available story chapters in the game, I’d say that the main focus is now to collect all of the Fire Emblem characters. There are currently 168 and I have about 60. The ultimate final goal would be to get all of them to Grade 5 and max them out to Level 40. Of course that increases your time exponentially as doing that is really a long term goal. As such I won’t really be gunning for that. At most I’ll log in every day for my new fighter and eventually maybe I’ll have them all. Even if they’re grade 2 or 3 that’s fine. To improve their grade you have to level back to Level 1 with that character and spend 20,000 Feathers and 20 Shields which are not easy to come by. It can take weeks to obtain that and I personally can’t say it’s worth it unless you’re super competitive in the game.

The gameplay is extremely smooth and highly customizable. It’s classic Fire Emblem gameplay as you position your pieces on the map and attack. All of the characters have special abilities and there are 3 types, Green, Blue, and Red. Each type is good against another one and week to another. There’s also a blank class, but I’m not sure where they fit into all of this. Different characters have different styles of attack like close range or long which you need to take into account. If you want to fight and know that you’ll win anyway, you can set the game to auto fight and let the computer handle the fight while you get a bite to eat or something. I admit that I started doing this quite a lot after I beat the game to save time. You can also turn off the animations for each attack which saves a bunch of time and I wish more games did that. It would be very useful.

Fire Emblem Heroes really shines when it comes to the graphics. They are exceptionally good and easily the best that I’ve ever seen in a mobile game. It spared no expense with the character portraits and attacks. It’s one of the things that really drew me to the game when I first started. It’ll be really cool if they can grab more animated cutscenes by the end of the game, but even if they don’t I’m still pretty satisfied. The soundtrack is also solid. The themes are limited, but memorable. All in all I’m sure a very large amount of money was put into this game and I’m sure that it has made it all back quite easily.

It’s time to go back and rank all of the mobile games. In 1st is clearly Pokemon Go. The game’s amazing and I’ve put in over 1000 hours by now. You just can’t overestimate just how influential the title is. Truly a legend. 2nd is Fire Emblem Warriors. The immense amount of content and reasons to keep playing speaks for itself. I also like the generous log in bonuses as you really feel like it’s worth it to keep showing up. 3rd is Marvel’s Contest of Champions. It was a fun game, but a big step down from the first two as the gameplay was very repetitive. It also had a very long story mode but it was considerably lower budget and you never felt like you were making any progress. Honestly it’s a very similar style to Fire Emblem Heroes but think of the difference being like Mario Galaxy vs Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. 4th is Ingress. It’s basically just like Pokemon only without the Pokemon and the Gyms. It may go up as some point, but my whole area is owned by the opposing team and I need to reach Level 6-8 in order to actually do anything about it. I dunno, it’s fun enough but I always can’t help but think of how many Pokemon I’d be catching if I had Go open. Finally in 5th is 1010!. It barely counts when placed with the others since it has no plot and it more of a very simple game app. Still, I did play through it so counting it is fair. It’s a lot of fun at first, but actually gets less so the higher your score gets. After all, who wants to spend 30 minutes trying to top your score only to come out short in the end? Definitely not me! That’s 6 App games that I’ve tried out now. It could be a while before another one so we’ll see how that does in the end.

Overall, App games are very addicting. It’s easy to see how this one got so far. For every great title like this one there are probably 100 low budget mobile games that are pretty bad, but I’ve done a good job of avoiding those so far. I hope Nintendo comes out with a Super Smash app at some point as you just know that would be really awesome. I finally got Roy, Ike, and Lucina in this game so I’m definitely very satisfied with my turnout. I’d like to get Marth at some point, but I suppose it could be a while. If you’re interested in the game, I recommend downloading it as soon as possible. Even if you don’t want to play it yet, download the game just so you can start receiving your daily rewards by logging in. That way you’ll be extra prepared with a bunch of extra items and characters by the time you really do start. There are still a bunch of features that I don’t fully understand or have barely scratched the surface of and we’ll see if I ever do. At least it’s nice knowing that they’re there if I ever need them. It may be time to get a real Fire Emblem game, but I’ve heard mixed things on the newer ones and the old ones are so expensive. It’s definitely a tough call.

Overall 8/10

Marvel Contest of Champions Review

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Just looking at that cover should remind you just how changed Marvel is from the good ole days. We have a lot of heroes trying to replace the classic ones and most of the old ones have had drastic makeovers. No worries though, this game manages to include an enormous amount of characters so the classics are still here as well. With new characters constantly being added to the game, I don’t see Contest of Champions ending anytime soon. It’s simply too expansive at this point and I’m glad to see it doing well. The amount of content can be intimidating, but it also shows that you can do quite a lot even when under the free to play format. Someone should have told Super Mario Run about that.

There’s actually a plot this time. The Collector is having another game and has decided to pit the Marvel heroes against you. You are the chosen one and your opponent is Kang. Both of you collect Marvel heroes and duke it out until there is only one fighter still standing. The plot will probably have some wrinkles along the way though because there are dozens and dozens of levels. I only played about 10% of Act 1, which was already fairly long. Since they keep on adding new chapters and acts for special events, I can easily see this reaching an RPG’s length by the end. The story isn’t all that engaging so you’ll be playing it for the gameplay. Console games are still my priority though, which is why I didn’t play the game for too long. I played it enough to see what it was all about and then it was time to delete the app.

The gameplay is fairly straight forward. Tap the screen for standard attacks. Swipe forward to dash or back to dodge. You can also use charge attacks and special moves. Each battle will play out in pretty much the same way and the various special abilities will all blend together after a while. This is still a game with a reasonably small budget so you can’t go in expecting Marvel vs Capcom. Still, the graphics are very impressive considering. All of the character models are on point and it’s pretty surreal to see Marvel’s large array of characters all show up. The soundtrack is rather bland, but decent.

One issue is that the gameplay can get a little repetitive. I suppose that can be said about most mobile games, but other titles like 1010 and Pokemon Go are super fun anyway. You may be doing the same thing hundreds of times over, but it never gets old. Contest of Champions will get old after a while so you shouldn’t play it for too long at a time. If you play it seriously for collecting all of the heroes though, then this may not be a factor. I also have to give the game some props for not making the pay to win element too prevalent. You can still play for a while each day before hitting your limit and that’s a good thing. Madden Mobile got annoying for how quickly you hit the daily limit along with Pokemon Shuffle.

The main menu is a little cluttered and complicated, but at least it shows that there is a lot to do here. There are all kinds of modes to explore and crystals to earn. It just never stops and you can be lost in the menus for a good 20 minutes before deciding what to do. The replay value here is endless and that’s what we’ve come to expect from these apps. With this one gone, it’s going to be back to Pokemon Go for me. That’s really the only long term app game that I need. These other titles are good, but ultimately can’t compete.

Overall, Marvel’s Contest of Champions is a fun enough game. The graphics are sound and assembling your team of heroes can be addicting. Eventually you’ll either start to get frustrated by obtaining duplicate heroes even though you only have 5 or 6, or you will be completely into the game by then and just hooked on all of the future updates. If you’re a big mobile player, then I recommend adding it to your roster. If not, then this one can probably be passed. It’s good, but you could always just buy Marvel vs Capcom instead for the superior fighter. I know that DC also got a very similar fighting game on the app store, but I don’t plan on trying it out anytime soon.

Overall 7/10

Super Mario Run Review

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I finally went and played a few Toad Rallies so now this game is set for the review. As you may know, you have to actually pay the 10 dollars in order to play the full Mario Run game. I’m not going to call that a ripoff because then you should just consider it like any other game. I suppose 10 dollars isn’t all that much, but I’m not willing to pay that at the moment so this review is of the free content. I acknowledge that the full game would probably be closer to the next level.

Well, this game’s a free runner so there isn’t much to say about the gameplay. You’re always running and you’ll automatically jump over enemies so you just have to focus on not falling into any holes. The game is super easy at the moment, but all Mario games have an easy World 1. It’s to build you up to what is to come. You can practice your tricks on the enemies and at least rack up the experience points. You are able to play the first three levels under the free form of the game. The other main thing to do is to play the Toad Rallies. Basically, they are time trials against other players and the winner is the one who gets the most coins. Grabbing Toads through cool tricks are a must if you want to win these. I’ve won a few battles and it’s fun to get the extra Toads, but it is a bit of a gambling game as you can also lose toads when you lose. That part will probably get annoying as you face tougher levels.

The graphics are sharp as you would expect them to be. The Mario characters all look good and it is clear that this is in the Super Mario Bros series. They even have the nice spin to get you some extra air distance. The music wasn’t working for me at first, but got better later on. It’s Mario so the musical themes and the sound effects are on point as you would expect. On a technical level, this game certainly does not disappoint at all. There is very little content under the free version so there isn’t much replay value at all, but the full game should give you a good amount for the 10 dollars, not to mention all of the extra characters that you’ll unlock.

You can also earn some My Nintendo Points here, which you can use for musical themes for your 3DS or even the occasional download game once every few months. What holds this game back a little is the Free Runner format. Honestly, I’d prefer to control Mario myself as this style could get a little annoying after a while. The extra challenge should definitely help with that though. I don’t see this becoming as big of a phenomenon as Candy Crush or Pokemon Go, but it is a nice entry to the Mobile Market for Nintendo. I hope to see them continue to participate, but I also want them to give us some epic games on the Switch. They have a lot of good series under their belt so they have to make the most of them.

Overall, I’d recommend Super Mario Run. It’s a fun little title and this game is probably worth the 10 dollars more than some other games. However, don’t expect too much out of the gameplay and there are other Free Runners that you could play for free…just throwing that out there. The game isn’t for Android yet and unfortunately, it appears that this may be the case for quite a while thanks to security concerns. Don’t worry, you guys aren’t missing a whole lot. I’ll probably play this game a little longer, but then it’s time to put it on the shelf. I don’t really play mobile games all that much anyway. For the most part, I like to just stick to 2 of them at a time and I already have Pokemon Go and Marvel’s Contest of Champions on the front. The latter is just about done though so I’ll probably have a review for that one up soon as well. Now I’m set for that Switch Mario game coming out soon.

Overall 7/10