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Review: You Must Build A Boat

Jun 29 // Conrad Zimmerman
You Must Build a Boat (Android, iOS, PC) Developer: EightyEightGames Publisher: EightyEightGames MSRP: $2.99 (Android, iOS) / $4.99 (PC)Released: June 4, 2015 You must build a boat, and that's all there is to it. Building a boat means assembling a crew. Assembling a crew means exploring dungeons located at points along the river, which is what you'll spend pretty much all your time in the game doing. When attempting dungeon exploration, the player is presented with a view of their character running left to right through a tunnel. On the run, they'll be stopped by obstacles. Being stopped doesn't prevent the background from moving, and the character is dragged back to the left as long as they aren't running. Enemy obstacles push the player back faster by attacking. If they fall off the left edge of the screen, the run is over. Rather than engaging directly to surmount obstacles, the action is represented through puzzle gameplay. On the most basic level, the play will be instantly familiar to anyone who has experienced a "Match-3" game before. The player moves tiles to create matching lines of three or more. Upon making a match, the connected tiles disappear, tiles above fall into the newly created space, and new tiles drop in to replace those lost. Each of the seven basic types of tiles produces a different effect when cleared. Some are directly used to pass obstacles and progress further, and their effects are wasted when cleared with nothing to use them on. Some have a chance to add special tiles to the grid, which provide one-time use effects when clicked. Others provide no immediate benefit but serve as resources back on the boat, not to mention occupying valuable real estate within the puzzle better served by more urgently needed tiles. Clearing groups of more than three tiles at a time multiplies the effectiveness of the tiles. In YMBAB, tiles are moved as entire rows and columns, wrapping around the edges of the grid. This particular method of movement is a bit more interesting than, say, simply switching the positions of two neighboring tiles. It could have an impact on strategy by allowing a tile at the bottom of the grid to move to the top and drop down to pair more easily with others, or anticipating groupings on opposing sides. That is assuming that you had time to actually think about the actions being taken, which is almost never the case. The near-constant pressure of needing to find a relevant match to clear an obstacle just doesn't allow for it. It does, however, offer a lot of opportunities to create matches once the player gets accustomed to visualizing the whole board and eliminates the risk of a situation where no combinations can be made. The game's tutorial makes it all look so easy. But once you're past the introductory runs which demonstrate how the different tiles work and the game no longer gives you a moment to look at what you're doing, there's no letting up. Speed becomes essential and there's no substitute for it. Intense, yes, but also exhausting. Dungeons are endless but increase their difficulty at regular intervals. Each new difficulty level reached provides a helpful opportunity to restore lost ground on the map while adding a new effect to tweak dungeon elements. Enemies may receive a boost in damage, chests become more difficult to open, or greater financial rewards could be bestowed, among other curses and boons. To reach new dungeons, specific objectives (assigned prior to entering) must be accomplished, with each adding some element to the construction of the boat when successful. Success has less to do with strategy than instinct, luck, and persistence. In attempting specific objectives, it's possible to have some forethought (a vendor added a few dungeons in allows for some adjustment of tile probabilities), but the player is always at the game's mercy to some extent. That said, it isn't cruel either. YMBAB only ever rewards the player for playing it, each run earning additional resources to spend on upgrades that make subsequent runs easier, making progress inexorable as long as the will to play persists. Back on the boat between runs, the player may purchase upgrades to attack and shield tiles, monsters captured in the dungeons can be trained to provide additional bonuses, and acquired crew members offer other benefits. The short round length and simple, lizard-brain gameplay makes it ideal for either the commute or the commode. Dedicating more attention to it than that may prove to be a bit tedious (not least because of the simple, repetitive music) and the design lends itself far better to touch controls for mobile devices than a mouse, so your better bet is to grab it on the phone and take it with you places. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
You Must Build A Boat photo
I mean, if you feel like it
The premise of You Must Build A Boat is simple, but unexplained. In order to travel up a river, you must build a boat. The why is, seemingly, irrelevant.

Dragons Quest VI photo
Dragons Quest VI

Dragon Quest VI is available on mobile devices right now


2015 port of 2010 rerelease of 1995 game
Jun 25
// Joe Parlock
Square Enix have announced that Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation is coming to iOS and Android devices right now. It literally just got released for the fairly hefty price of $14.99. The game originally came out in ye old...

Mobile Tomb Raider Lara Croft GO feels lovely

Jun 18 // Kyle MacGregor
[embed]294301:59143:0[/embed] At first glance, Lara Croft GO bears a strikingly close resemblance to Square Enix Montréal's first effort. It echoes the quiet, clean aesthetic of Hitman GO, while featuring similar turn-based puzzle design, but pushes the concepts further. Fresh elements like verticality quite literally add new dimensions to the experience, and go a long way to making this feel like a legitimate Tomb Raider. The characters are no longer static figurines, as the designers felt it wouldn't be natural for Lara, a character known for her athleticism, to be portrayed in such a rigid fashion. So while our heroine is still navigating an on-rails obstacle course, she's fully animated, looking very much at home as she climbs and scrambles around ancient, subterranean ruins. Perspective is also used to great effect, with the isometric camera allowing the developers to add little flourishes like a silhouetted beetle crawling along a tree branch in the foreground, or see a bridge appear in the distance when Lara toggles a switch. Square Enix Montréal is also keen on avoiding unnecessary hand-holding. The title's 40 levels (which are quite a bit larger than those found in Hitman GO) are based around trial and error. With each stage now divided into segments with checkpoints, new mechanics can be introduced and then used in rather sophisticated ways in short order without a loss of progress.  One example of this is terrain that will fall away when walked over or climbed across twice. Shortly after being introduced to this by falling to my death, I was using it to evade an enemy. Knowing a certain surface would crumble away, I used it to lay a trap for the giant lizard nipping at my heels.  Not all of the obstacles I saw were quite that compelling, though. While it was a rush to see an Indiana Jones-style boulder trap, the turn-based nature of the game makes this sort of scene less compelling than if were to play out in real time. Still, what I've witnessed thus far has me eager to see what else awaits in the full game. Lara Croft GO is coming to iOS and Android devices sometime later this year.
Lara Croft GO photo
Small in scale, but no less impressive
Square Enix Montréal possesses a genuine talent for artfully distilling series down to their essence. In 2014, the developer released Hitman GO, a turn-based deconstruction of IO Interactive's stealth franchise, w...


Kingdom Hearts photo
Kingdom Hearts

Square Enix trolls everybody with Kingdom Hearts mobile game


Unchained confirmed for the West
Jun 16
// Kyle MacGregor
There were audible shouts from the audience when Square Enix mentioned Kingdom Hearts during its E3 press conference. Then the game appeared and everything was deathly silent. The publisher announced Kingdom Hearts Unchained,...
PlayStation Mobile photo
PlayStation Mobile

Sony puts another nail in PS Mobile's coffin


Service will disappear on September 10
May 31
// Kyle MacGregor
PlayStation Mobile is shutting down for good this summer. No new PSM games will be released for the service after July 15, at which point players will no longer be able to buy any new content. On September 10 the portable wil...
NCSOFT photo
NCSOFT

NCSOFT ready to get some of that mobile money


Where there's a will, there's a whale
May 28
// Robert Summa
Whether we like it or not, mobile gaming has become huge. And for a publisher like NCSOFT that has long been an exclusive MMO provider, the company is making the smart move of shifting some of those dying genre resources over...
Fantastic Boyfriends photo
Fantastic Boyfriends

Fantastic Boyfriends wants to hook you up with cute ogres


Wow, fantastic hunks
May 21
// Joe Parlock
Oh my lord. Oh my stars and garters. Okay Joe, this is a simple news post, you’ve done this countless times before. A whole group of hot men or not, you don't even know if this game is any good, so pull yourself togethe...
Candy Crush photo
Candy Crush

Attention hardcore gamers: Candy Crush Saga will be pre-installed for Windows 10


Moms around the world rejoice
May 14
// Robert Summa
For a long time, simple games like Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts have been beloved freebies that always come along with your Windows OS experience. In order to keep up with the times, it appears Microsoft is looking to u...
Level-5 photo
Level-5

Level-5 is terminating Wonder Flick in September


More IPs still on the way
May 11
// Kyle MacGregor
Wonder Flick R will shut down on September 14, Level-5 just announced. Following the mobile RPG's reveal in 2013, Level-5 had some trouble getting the project off the ground. Unfortunately, the studio never managed to make go...
Rise of Mana photo
Rise of Mana

Rise of Mana, that free-to-play mobile title, is coming to Vita this month


In Japan
May 08
// Chris Carter
Earlier last year, Square Enix shocked the world by announcing another title in the Mana series, a long-cherished franchise in the eyes of old school gamers. Then quickly shocked us back into reality by stating that it was go...
Mortal Kombat X photo
Mortal Kombat X

Milk the kow: Mortal Kombat X mobile version out now


Fatalities for your pocket
Apr 08
// Robert Summa
If you're planning on getting Mortal Kombat X, then you should know there is a mobile version of the game that will offer rewards for the main game and it's available now on iTunes. If you're not a fan of tying mobile versio...
Fantasy Life 2 photo
Fantasy Life 2

Level-5 announces Fantasy Life 2... for smartphones


Coming to Japan this summer
Apr 07
// Kyle MacGregor
It's a dreadful time to be a Level-5 fan. Or maybe a great one. Dunno. I suppose that all depends on where you exist on this Venn diagram: Level-5 announced Fantasy Life 2 for smartphones today, which probably disp...

Review: Attack the Light: Steven Universe

Apr 02 // Ben Davis
Attack the Light: Steven Universe (iOS, Android [reviewed])Developer: Grumpyface StudiosPublisher: Cartoon Network GamesReleased: April 2, 2015MSRP: $2.99 Attack the Light's story could easily have been its own episode in the television show. The game takes the Crystal Gems on an adventure to bring down an army of light creatures, which Steven accidentally created by touching a prismatic gem artifact. Pretty standard for a Steven Universe episode, and it works really well as a videogame with each color of light being represented by a different world. The game never strays from the established canon of the Steven Universe universe (heh). There's plenty of references which only the fans of the show will understand, but the story itself is simple enough that players new to the franchise won't be too confused. Many of the items, attacks, and locations are taken directly from the show, such as the Cookie Cat items for healing, Amethyst's Purple Puma attack, and the strawberry field where an ancient gem battle took place. I loved how they even managed to naturally work in references for some of the more "videogame-y" aspects, like the loading screens which take place inside the warp streams. [embed]289907:58032:0[/embed] Attack the Light is an RPG featuring turn-based combat and light puzzle-solving segments. It takes a lot of inspiration from games like Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario. Things like timed hits and badges should sound very familiar to people who have played the Mario RPGs, and these are the main mechanics which make the combat in Attack the Light so interesting. Timed hits, or action commands, are crucial to winning a battle. While attacking or defending, a star will briefly appear around the enemy or character, indicating when the player should tap the screen. Tapping at the right moment will allow the Crystal Gems to follow up with an additional attack, or take significantly less damage from an enemy's attack. There are also certain moves which require special actions to perform, like pulling back and aiming Pearl's spear or tapping as many times as possible to charge up Amethyst's rolling attack. Stuff like this should be all too familiar to Paper Mario fans, and it works particularly well for an RPG on mobile devices. The actions taken during the player's turn are determined by the amount of star points available. Each turn grants five star points, which can go towards Crystal Gem attacks or Steven actions. Players can distribute these points any way they want; for example, a turn can consist entirely of Garnet's attacks, or be spread evenly between each of the Crystal Gems so that every character takes an action that turn. Players can also end their turns whenever they choose, and unused star points will be carried over into their next turn. Additional star points can also be obtained by using items or defeating enemies. While Steven himself can't actually attack, he still holds a very important role on the team as a healer-type character. He can give the Crystal Gems some words of encouragement to heal them, use his shield bubbles to block attacks, play songs on his ukulele to provide stat bonuses, and he also has access to a plethora of items hidden inside his hamburger backpack. He is the backbone of the team, so it's wise to take advantage of his abilities often. Leveling up grants the Crystal Gems new abilities and stronger stats. Each of the Crystal Gems starts at level 9000, except for Steven who starts at level 1 (this doesn't actually mean anything in regards to gameplay, but I thought it was funny). The Gems can gain experience through fights and also through dialogue. At certain points, Steven will be given dialogue options, and each choice will give a certain Gem an experience boost, depending on who was the most pleased with Steven's words. In addition to leveling up, badges can also be equipped to increase the Crystal Gems' stats or give them other bonuses, like immunity to status effects or bonus defense against specific enemy types. Overall, I felt the combat in Attack the Light was very well implemented. It provides just the right amount of challenge and variety. Skill with the action commands is necessary for success, different tactics will need to be employed for different enemy types, and each character has their own unique qualities to add to the team. Garnet is the powerhouse who breaks defenses and dishes out damage, Amethyst is great at dealing damage to multiple targets, Pearl is best at focused attacks usually aimed at single enemies, and of course, Steven provides the backup. The combat offers complexity without being confusing, and I feel any type of gamer, whether casual or hardcore, will be comfortable with it. Outside of battle, the team will be navigating short maps. Players swipe left, right, up, or down to move to the next section of the map, where they might encounter enemies, find treasure chests, or run into a puzzle. The puzzles are all very simple; usually they involve finding a key to continue forward, or tapping a string of symbols in the correct order to open a door, with clues scattered around the map. Hidden rooms can also be discovered by swiping in the direction of special walls, which will shimmer slightly to alert players of a possible secret. Map exploration is straightforward, so levels can be completed relatively quickly. Being on mobile devices, I think this works in the game's favor. Players should be able to easily complete a level in a short period of time, making it perfect for quick play sessions while you're riding the bus or waiting in the lobby, and it's easy to pick back up again where you left off. The problems I encountered were very few, and most may have been due to my phone. Certain touch screen movements were a little difficult to get right at times. In particular, the swipe motion for Pearl's spear-throwing attack often took a while to register, and once it registered, it would sometimes be difficult to aim it correctly without moving my finger off of the phone itself. (I used this attack frequently, since I found it to be quite powerful, so this one stood out to me the most.) I also found it slightly annoying when all of the characters would clump together on the map, mostly because this made it difficult to select the right character to give healing items to without moving to a new section of the map, which could trigger an enemy attack. It would have been preferable if they automatically spread out. But aside from these few small issues, I didn't notice anything major. For the most part, controls were very accurate and responsive. Attack the Light's strongest quality is its personality. Part of this comes from the voice cast, featuring the same actors from the show, and part of it comes from the writing. The Crystal Gems behave in their usual ways, with Pearl being the voice of reason, Amethyst goofing off and getting pumped, and Garnet remaining mysterious yet reassuring. Steven, in particular, is great in this game. His unwavering optimism is truly infectious; hearing him encourage the Crystal Gems and express his excitement about their adventure brings a smile to my face. He's just so nice and happy all the time! There's no doubt in my mind that fans of Steven Universe will be pleased with Attack the Light. It stays true to the show and gives players a chance to explore and fight alongside these great characters, all while offering a fun, if at times simple, gameplay experience. Even for non-fans, it's still a solid mobile RPG. And if you're not a fan of Steven Universe yet, then I bet you will be after playing Attack the Light.   [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Attack the Light review photo
Neato burrito!
Videogames based on television shows can be pretty hit or miss, but usually they miss. The same can also be said for mobile games in general. This makes something like Attack the Light, a mobile game based on the popular cart...

Steven Universe RPG photo
Steven Universe RPG

Attack the Light: Steven Universe RPG launches this week


We are the Crystal Gems~
Mar 30
// Ben Davis
If you're like me and you've been obsessing over Steven Universe for the past month, this news should excite you! Cartoon Network Games is set to release a Steven Universe RPG for mobile devices on April 2. Developed by Grum...
Kingdom Hearts photo
Kingdom Hearts

Cancelled Kingdom Hearts concept art with Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, Star Wars


Two new key wielders we may never know
Mar 15
// Jed Whitaker
[Update: As pointed out by Drake in the comments, there is some debate as to whether these are real or not, although no concrete evidence has been shown either way. So take the following with a grain of salt and I'll update i...
Valkyria Duel photo
Valkyria Duel

Sega shuts down Valkyria Chronicles mobile game


Social card game Valkyria Duel hits the end of the line
Feb 26
// Kyle MacGregor
Sega and NHN are terminating service for their card-based social game Valkyria Chronicles Duel. The lights began going out today, as the companies have already discontinued sales of the browser and mobile game's virtual curre...
Cave photo
Cave

Cave has a new shoot-'em-up hitting mobile in April


Probably only in Japan, sadly
Feb 23
// Kyle MacGregor
DoDonPachi studio Cave is back with a new mobile shooter, "Gothic Magic Maiden," which is set to arrive in Japan on April 16. Whether it will ever come west seems pretty doubtful, though. Cave shuttered its official Eng...
PROJECT SCISSORS photo
PROJECT SCISSORS

HOT JAPANESE SCISSORING


Welp
Feb 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Good lord, that looks horrifying. Nude Maker, um, made some monstrous prop scissors for its live-action NightCry trailer, which you can see The Grudge director Takashi Shimizu using on Clock Tower creator Hifumi Kono. Th...
NightCry photo
NightCry

Project Scissors: NightCry looks terrifying in motion


Introducing the Scissorwalker
Feb 03
// Kyle MacGregor
Here it is: The debut trailer for Clock Tower spiritual successor NightCry. The point-and-click horror game takes place on a luxury cruise liner, where we see the protagonist run and hide from the murderous "Scissorwalker" a...
NightCry photo
NightCry

Project Scissors coming to PC pending Kickstarter


Nude Maker asking for $300,000 to fund enhanced version of NightCry
Jan 26
// Kyle MacGregor
NightCry (Project Scissors, if you're nasty), has taken to Kickstarter with new ambitions. The point-and-click horror title was originally planned for just Vita and mobile devices, but Nude Maker has now set its sights o...
Bravely Archive photo
Bravely Archive

Bravely Default mobile game doesn't look half bad


Coming to Japanese smartphones this month
Jan 14
// Kyle MacGregor
Bravely Default is getting a mobile game spin-off. This news either delights you or makes you want to bore out your eyes with rare amiibo. Perhaps both. Or maybe neither. Maybe you're apathetic but still clicked on this...
Puzzle & Dragons photo
Puzzle & Dragons

Puzzle & Dragons downloads now exceed 41 million


GungHo's mobile sensation steams ahead
Jan 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Puzzle & Dragons has now surpassed 41 million downloads worldwide, more than 6 million of which came out of North America, publisher GungHo Online announced this week. The overall figure has increased from 37 million in A...
Farts photo
Farts

This game is about avoiding Frisbees and farts


Also, it has some sweet God Hand music
Dec 24
// Kyle MacGregor
Stomach hurts and flew Frisbee puts a muscular man between a rock and hard place. Someone is lobbing Frisbees at his chiseled jaw. It matters not who. The muscle man needs to dodge them discs. Problem is, when he does, ...
SHROOMS photo
SHROOMS

This game's about anthropomorphic mushroom girls


Now I've seen everything
Dec 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Step aside Captain Toad, there's a new game about fungi folk in town. Kinoko Collection: Kinoko Takenoko Hyakunen Sensou (Mushroom Collection: The Hundred Year's Mushroom-Bamboo Shoot War) is a new mobile game about, yes, a c...
ATATATATATA photo
ATATATATATA

Puzzle & Dragons Fist of the North Star crossover?


Yes, please!
Nov 26
// Kyle MacGregor
Puzzle & Dragons, the drug-laced mobile mashup of Pokémon and Bejeweled, is joining forces with classic 80s anime Fist of the North Star, GungHo Online has announced. The publisher didn't pass along many other details, let alone any release date. Just know that you're already dead. ATATATATATA!
 photo

Code Giveaway: Grab an energy boost in Terra Battle


Live a little (longer)
Nov 14
// Niero Gonzalez
Here's a quick word from our sponsor, Terra Battle, a free-to-play role playing game designed by Final Fantasy's creator, now available on your Android and iOS devices.  The game is on its way to 1.2 million do...
Enemy Within photo
Enemy Within

XCOM: Enemy Within on mobile could ruin my life


Save Earth by slacking off at work
Nov 12
// Nic Rowen
Every once and awhile I see something that I desperately want but know I shouldn't get because it would ruin my life. Motorcycles, home-installed espresso machines, that sort of thing. Now I can add XCOM: Enemy Within on mobi...
Theatre mode photo
Theatre mode

I can think of about one good use for Samsung's Gear VR


Get robbed on the train
Nov 06
// Steven Hansen
The Crescent Bay model of the Oculus Rift is pretty neat. Going immediately after to try out the Samsung Gear VR, which lacks the positional tracking and cool set of demos, at Games Connection Europe was weird.  There wa...
Angry Birds photo
Angry Birds

The Angry Birds movie now has a star-studded celebrity voice cast


But is it actually going to be any good?
Oct 01
// Brittany Vincent
The Angry Birds movie is not only a real thing, but it seems as though production is well underway, with a cavalcade of celebrity voice talent just announced today. The Columbia Pictures film will be directed by Clay Katis of...

Tharsis: Commit cannibalism, save humanity

Sep 09 // Kyle MacGregor
That's the goal, anyway. More immediate concerns include not dying as the ship slowly edges toward to Mars. Some members of the crew are dead. Others are injured. Supplies are low. And all sorts of things need fixing. You know, things that threaten the crew's continued survival. To remedy these issues, players will need to send astronauts to deal with hazards as they arise. This is done by rolling dice and allocating the numbers to the myriad of problems before you. Tharsis is a game of damage control. It's about knowing when to play it safe, when to put it all on the line, and praying you get lucky enough to scrape by. One way to make do with dwindling rations is to cannibalize the corpses of your fallen comrades. Sure it's a little unsavory, but you're eating people for humanity, dammit! My experiences with this worked out okay, well, except for the part where my crew went insane. Look forward to seeing how that turns out when Tharsis launches on iOS and Steam in early 2015.
Tharsis preview photo
Eat folks for the greater good
Destructoid recently caught up with the folks at Gaijin Games Choice Provisions to check out the studio's next Bit.Trip game completely new project, Tharsis. The turn-based strategy game follows a team of astro...


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