Tagged: iOS

Now Playing: Dragon Coins (Android, iOS)

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There are two types of mobile games that usually catch my eye. There’s the physics games like Stair Dismount… and there are coin dozers. Why are coin dozer games so captivating? Maybe it’s because I never, ever wasted my arcade tokens on them when I was younger. That’s not to say I didn’t want to watch my hard earned token set off a shower of coins that would enable my crippling wax bottle candy addiction. It just always seemed like a better value to keep playing shooters and brawlers. While arcades with physical coin dozer games have mostly fizzled out, the coin dropping fire from my youth never has.

First it was Game Circus’ Coin Dozer on iPad and their many variations. Then Coins vs Zombies which added all kinds of weird wrinkles. Now Sega has gone and combined coin dozers, collectible card games and role-playing games in the questionably dubious Dragon Coins. Why so uncertain about its dubiousness? Being a mobile game, Dragon Coins is naturally bogged down by stamina timers, friends lists, consumable items, and no less than four different currencies. That said, I have yet to be bombarded with ads or requests to spend real money. They’re both in there but the game doesn’t assault you with them which is good because there’s a lot going on in this game.

Forget about that mobile stuff and let’s focus on the gameplay. You’re some kind of hero in charge of a team of five monsters represented as collectible cards. Each has an elemental affinity, unique health and attack ratings and special skills. You choose four monsters, designate a Leader (which unlocks a unique skill of its own) and pick another players’ monster to fill in the fifth slot before heading into battle. Coin Battle!

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The game is broken up into an array of chapters and areas and battles but there’s no story to tie any of it together. Basically, poke the Mission button and then the Start button. You’ll see the familiar coin dozer interface with your five monsters at the bottom of the screen and waves of enemies at the top. Your goal is to strategically drop coins in the upper area and hope they push coins off the bottom edge to charge up your monsters’ attacks. Some monsters take multiple coins to charge up so there always seems to be something kicking off as the momentum builds and the coins slide around.

As you attack with multiple monsters you’ll build up a combo causing enemies to spill gold and health coins and skill cubes across the board. This is where Dragon Coins feels the most satisfying. You can only drop a prescribed number of coins before the enemies attack but with combos you can keep filling the board with coins and tearing them apart. Collect the skill cubes and you can unleash all kinds of powerful, temporary boosts like making the pusher move faster, bringing up walls on the sides of the board and doing double damage. There’s a great tension to battles as you build up a glut of coins until they’re teetering on the edge and then try to manage your boosts as everything explodes with a single drop.

It’s a coin dozer game you guys! It’s not especially hard and you’re encouraged to grind past missions to build your team but that’s where the mobile stuff kicks in. Leveling up monsters requires you to Fuse and Evolve them with other random monsters you find while battling. This costs Gold Coins but you’ll never get that many coins without grinding old missions. Playing missions costs Stamina which slowly recharges over time or can be refilled with a consumable item. These items also cost coins but these are Rainbow coins, the really rare currency you can buy with cash. I’m several dozen missions into it now and have yet to be cut off. I usually do a few rounds at a time and quit just as I’d run out of Stamina for the hour. But I know it’s coming, the moment when the enemies get so hard or the Stamina drains so fast that the game offers that simple solution: hey man, you’ve got all those Rainbow coins, get a fix, I’m here for ya.

It’s icky. I hate those mobile game “features” but Dragon Coins is a strategic and fun evolution of the coin dozer. It’s got permanence and progression — quite a bit with 758 monsters — and for that I’m willing to deal with energy and currencies. Will I ever catch ‘em all? Doubtful, but for the time being it sure is fun (and free) to try.

I was sure that would work

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Playing Jackbox Games‘ new mobile title, Word Puttz, I was certain the letters they gave me in this tutorial stage were a knowing setup. I was wrong. The purveyors of the classic You Don’t Know Jack series (hosted by Cookie Masterson. Get it now?) have applied their clever word play to the word game genre with Word Puttz. …word.

It’s Scrabble on a minigolf course, a design choice that repaints the traditional square board in new layouts while adding other gameplay wrinkles. Coins tempt you to run off of the direct course, tubes redirect your word train into perplexing corners, and word limits force you to plan ahead. There’s also this evil mechanic that locks your letters in place as you build words. On your way to spelling SHEATHES, for example, you’ll be locked in at SHE, SHEAT, SHEATH, and SHEATHE, being issued new letters to fill in your hand as you go. If things go bad you can remove any letters you laid down previously but you don’t get them back and the letters issued at each stop count against your limit for that stage. I’m seventeen stages in and it’s getting downright strategic.

Being a mobile game there are naturally hooks for in-app purchases. Hearts regenerate over time and you lose one if you quit out of a stage. Hints, shuffles and power-ups come in short supply. There are cheaper packs to refill these consumables but the $4.99 option buys you a less sleazy game. I’m no wordsmith and so far I haven’t run into a need to pay, despite one of the stages being cheekily titled “The Pay Wall”.

It’s a nice spin on the crowded word game genre, one that makes you think in new ways and, for a change, doesn’t require you to lure in friends and family as competitors. It’s available now for free on both Android and iOS.

Xbox One SmartGlass app reveals gameplay clips, in-game currency, more

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If you’re still on the fence about buying an Xbox One you may want to grab the new SmartGlass app for Android and iOS to get a more honest look at the console. Released ahead of Friday’s big console launch, the app lets you poke around with the launch lineup and some of the console’s features.

You can watch user-uploaded clips from some of the games (the “S-Rank (1st Level)” from Crimson Dragon is particularly revealing), check out the sleazy in-game currency that most of the titles offer, and see some of the time-based Challenge Achievements that will kick off on Friday. This is the stuff I’ve been endlessly refreshing Xbox.com in hopes of finding. The app is also much more feature rich than the previous SmartGlass app for 360 and runs much smoother.

A clever, free guessing game based on emoji

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I don’t really play mobile games anymore but every now and then I come across one that does something clever. Utilizing iOS’ built-in emoji character set you guess at the names of 470 words, titles and phrases in hangman style. We all already send these stupid picture messages to one another so why not an actual guessing game based on them? The only thing better would be if it were a ‘with Friends’ or Draw Something style game that you could play directly with friends. Oh yeah, Guess Emoji is free on iOS right now.

Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade coming to the U.S. and Canada

I didn’t think it’d happen but Square Enix and DeNA are teaming up to bring the darling, free-to-play social, mobile RPG to both iOS and Android in the U.S. and Canada. I still don’t quite get how the game works but it sure is cute. Head over to the official site right now to register your interest and receive an exclusive card. There’s no further info about the game but they did confirm that the exclusive card will let you summon Cloud to do a limit break on any boss  in the game but that the card is only good for a three-month period. Man, video games are weird nowadays.