Gameloft is having some weird Android giveaway thing where they announce a game that will be free for two hours every day. By the time you read this you'll only have Sunday's giveaway left, but you can keep an eye on their UK Twitter account tomorrow.
Kairosoft's Pocket Academy came out recently, but I haven't had the chance to get into it yet. If you were a fan of Game Dev Story and Hot Springs Story, you probably know what's up. Those two are currently only $0.99 so here's your chance to pick them up on the cheap. If you are unfamiliar with the Kairosoft games, Brad Nicholson loved Pocket Academy over on Touch Arcade and any disappointments can be hurled in his direction.
Other than QuBIT being a lot of fun, Two Worlds II Castle Defense being terrible, and a couple of freebies on iOS, there's not a whole lot to talk about this weekend. But let's take a look anyway!
Here we have an actual steampunk racing game. Ionocraft Racing's main strength is that it lets you unlock and purchase, components for your steampunk hover racing vehicle, and that how you design it affects how it controls.
Putting powerful main engines at back of your steam-craft makes it feel like you are controlling a rocket at times, while attaching them at the front makes it feel like a pod-racer. To offset the raw power, you can add things like side-thrusters and spoiler-wings anywhere on your vehicle.
The idea is pretty fun, if more suited to a console or PC experience than a mobile one. Every level is brown, because in steampunk games and movies there's apparently no such thing as paint (why is that anyway?). There are 13 levels that take between 20 to 80 seconds per level once you have a good engine. And once you do have a good engine, it becomes a grind to buy the remaining quality components to go for the world high score.
I lost all level progress at some point, while keeping my craft, and it took me 15 minutes to race through all the levels from the start again. Since you'll need to replay a lot of races for money, and since you need money to get the gold medals, I just stopped playing it shortly after that.
This grind becomes tiresome as the levels themselves are not very interesting to play. You race forward, steer, occasionally let go of the throttle, and sometimes jump or take a high route. And the only really steampunk thing about the game is that you see puffs of steam come out of your vehicle. It's not a bad game, but there's nothing about it that makes it worth recommending either.
Whereas Ionocraft Racing focuses on craft customization with boring racing mechanics, QuBIT just focuses on creating an interesting racing game that is fun to play. Moving left and right by tilting the device and going forward automatically, the goal in QuBIT is to last as long as possible.
You are surrounded by tiny colored cubes. By racing over colored crystals, you make these colored cubes go dark and fill up a wave meter to finish a wave. You progress to the next wave after going through a short bonus section for extra points. Every wave you get an additional colored cube to "fill" and any time you race over crystals of the color that you had already "filled" it costs you energy. When you run out of energy, it's game over.
The continuous levels also include rails and nodes that boost you forward and give you energy. As you progress through the waves you'll go from casually tilting the device around to fill the initial two cubes, to manically moving around trying to grab the right crystals while avoiding the others.
It comes hard quickly, but it's ridiculously fun to play QuBIT. You can switch to touch controls for moving if you want, but it doesn't work quite as well. Part of the fun of the tilt controls is that you end up tilting your device around like a madman and really get into it.
As a $0.99 universal app, it's highly recommended to go try it out. You do need a current-gen device that supports iOS 4.3 though, and your device will also get pretty hot pretty fast because of all the graphical power displayed on screen.
The biggest downside is that you are going to look like an idiot if you play this in public areas; but you will do so while wearing a gamer-face and a smile.
100 Rogues (iPhone & iPad, free -- universal app)
This is a pretty cool little rogue-like game for iOS. 100 Rogues sees you exploring dungeons, collecting loot, killing monsters, and pretty much doing what you'd expect from this type of game. It's all top-down 2D with dungeons made out of typical grid structures, and everything moves as you either move yourself or decide to wait a "turn." Despite the core being turn-based, it plays like a real-time game for the most part.
Since it's free for the moment, and more of a "hardcore" kind of game than most of the typical popular mobile stuff out there, give it a shot if you are in the market for an old-school dungeon crawler. The music is pretty awesome too!
Cute Cloud is, simply put, Katamari or Feeding Frenzy with a cloud. You eat smaller clouds while evading larger clouds for as long as possible and that's all there is to it.
This game has tilt controls, which may take some getting used to. Don't expect to play this while lying in bed or anything, but on a couch, chair, or standing upright it works well enough. Since it's free right now, you can't really go wrong other than having it fill up your apps list in iTunes, but it's the kind of game you'll occassionally play while in transit when you have five minutes to kill.
It includes hot-seat multiplayer and graphics options to switch to the German and English boardgame styles. Apparently you need to purchase the Seafarers expansion (3 euro/$5-ish) to play the campaign though, so you might want to save this for multiplayer sessions.
It probably has some skirmish stuff, but if you need players around you to get the most out of it then you might as well play the boardgame, right? Still looks a bit expensive to me.
I usually force my way through at least half of a game's content before giving a verdict on a mobile game, but Two Worlds II Castle Defense is something else. As a castle defense game, you place units (soldiers, archers, mages, etc) at pre-set locations to keep incoming waves at bay.
Each unit can be upgraded in health and attack power, and you can heal it for gold as well as use some other abilities. The idea is to put the world of Two Worlds II into a mobile game environment. However, this game is just terrible.
The tutorial is one screen filled with tons of info that the player is expected to just remember, with no option to recall it in-game. If you close the app to check email or Twitter or whatnot, you need to start the entire level all over again. What!?
Worst of all, the units move from their placement spot, but the placement spots are laid out in such a way that you can easily end up with one unit that always walks to the front of an incoming wave, while the rest just sits back and laughs at you for even trying to play the game. You can teleport units, but nothing in the game encourages you to keep playing it. Despite trying to force my way through the game, I just ended up sighing and facepalming at my screen, and any time a notification pop-up appeared it felt like divine intervention to quit and never go back.
At a $5 price, this is just an insult to mobile gamers whether you liked Two Worlds II or not. It's one of the worst mobile game I've played since buying an iPod Touch. Don't even bother with it if it goes free, because ther's plenty of better and cheaper defense games out there. Although you can play the lite versions or a PC demo in case you are a glutton for punishment.