Author Archives: shatteredblog

Mobile Gaming: Pirates and Traders

This is one that’s been in the Android Market for a while but I’ve been spending a lot of time with it recently and thought it deserved a look. Pirates and Traders is a non-linear strategy game in the same vein as games like Wing Commander: Privateer. It’s a game in which you make your own way, choosing to play nice and be a trader between the outposts of the four Caribbean powers or playing as an outlaw boarding and taking control of other merchant ships you encounter.

You start the game as a young captain in a ship of your choice and are cast out into the world to make a career for yourself. As a Frenchman, I began my career in Tortuga with the choice between a Barque with a large cargo hold or a Sloop with fast sails and extra cannon. The game is played by moving from port to port with your ship, maintaining food stores to keep your men happy and stave off mutiny, and making money trading goods you’ve bought or stolen. By carefully listening to rumors in taverns you can capitalize on shortages of one trade good in a port and surplus in others. Occasionally you will find someone in a tavern who wants goods moved or a transport to another port of call, which are often easy money but you should check first if you can complete the job in the allotted time.

Life as a pirate is a hard one. Ship combat is modeled in a turn based fashion where you begin trading cannon fire at range, then close the distance to either pelt your opponent’s rigging to prevent them running or decks to destroy their cannon and crew. In the beginning of your career you will encounter captains who are more skilled at ship combat than you and who often defeat you. I had better luck after I made enough money as a trader to buy a bigger ship, a Large Brig to use in my piracy career. There are no pirate ports of call, so even as a pirate you must still play nice with at least one of the four factions to have a place to sell your ill-gotten gains.

As a strategy game Pirates and Traders has depth to keep you coming back for more. I would like to see it expanded, with more missions available and perhaps more ship upgrades. If you’re looking for a good trade simulation this one is worth checking out. The game is available in a free (ad supported) version and a gold version on the Android market.

Mobile Gaming: Tangram Moment

In my quest for new ways to waste time with my Android phone I’ve recently found a puzzle game by the name of Tangram Moment. Created by H.Jin and free to download from the Android Market, this app is a version of the popular puzzle known as Tangrams.

 

In Tangrams, the goal is to use seven geometrically shaped blocks called tans to recreate a given design. Some designs, like the one in the image above are easy while some are quite tricky. Tangram Moment has been recently updated to include over 450 designs which are arranged into categories and are progressively unlocked as you complete them.

It’s nothing new, but it’s well done in that the controls to rotate and move your tans are very smooth and the puzzles offer a good mixture between simple and tricky. It scratches the puzzle itch I’ve had lately, and it’s good for when you have a few moments and want to do something to relax. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a puzzle to work through on their phone.

Mobile Gaming Review: Alchemy

Today we have a rapidly expanding and pretty popular puzzle game available on Android called Alchemy, created by Andrey Zaikin (Blog mostly in Russian) Alchemy is a simple concept puzzle game that has surprising depth once you dig into it.

Alchemy begins as a black screen with four icons representing the four elements, Earth Air Fire and Water. For example, dragging your starting Fire icon onto the Water icon makes Alcohol, while dragging your Water icon onto the Earth icon makes a Swamp. Doubletap in a blank area to get a new set of four elements and you can combine Air and Earth to make Dust, or Fire and Air to make Energy. By combining these you make ever more complex items, eventually making Life and Man, as well as fun things like Vampires, Frankenstein, Walking Trees and 1UP Mushrooms!

Dragging an icon to the ? symbol will give you information about it (usually a Wikipedia link) and combinations that create or use it. When dragging an icon the + symbol becomes a trash can you can use to discard excess icons and unclutter your workspace. Tapping the + opens a menu listing the elements you’ve created which you can use to bring one onto the workspace as an icon without having to recreate it from the basic four. On the list of your unlocked elements ones marked with a red * are end line creations that can’t be used to make anything new.

The joy in this game comes from deducing what combines to make something, and in the current version there are 300 elements to puzzle out. I have to admit I am still under 150 elements, but really enjoying jumping back in with a clear mind and trying new things when I have spare moments.

If you’re looking for a puzzle game with an interesting twist then give Alchemy a try! It’s a free download on the Android Market.

Good Old Games: Betrayal or Big News?

The classic game digital store GOG.com is launching the rerelease of their website today along with some new titles for sale, among them the original Baldur’s Gate. There’s been alot of controversy going around the gaming community about their choice of marketing tactics, that being the faked death.

The problem with a complete shutdown of the old site with no warning is that most digital distribution services come with an implicit promise that you can redownload the software you buy from them repeatedly whenever you need to reinstall for whatever reason. By eschewing the traditional box and disk they save on the cost of printed materials and can offer games released with dos-box optimized settings that will run on modern gaming hardware. It’s a service that is sorely needed, as many classic games after their useful life become abandonware or if the company chooses to fight online distribution a severely overpriced collectors item. A service that can sell and support those classic games that are not abandoned makes them available to a new generation of gamers who didn’t grow up with Baldur’s Gate, Kings Quest or Masters of Orion.

Using a complete shutdown of your well supported and by all accounts thriving website to generate ‘buzz’ is a clear betrayal of the trust people placed in GOG.com, and it’s no surprise that it left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. It’s my opinion though that it was an honest mistake by them, and if anything it will have taught them that when/if the service actually does go out people will expect plenty of notice and next time will probably get it. What they’re doing by bringing back these classic titles is a necessary service for game publishers and the community, and it’s one made possible by digital distribution and the internet. Give them the benefit of learning from their mistakes I say, in the past they’ve been the go to website for classic game downloads with tons of extra material, support and service. It’s a service worthy of your trust, and I’m going to continue to be a customer.

Wizard 101 Email Plugs Their New Tie-In

From the Wizard 101 promotional email that went out yesterday:

Get ready for a limited-time quest featuring a teen icon.

Save Pop Sensation
Selena Gomez!
There is a new and exciting quest for you in the world of Wizard101 — “Round & Round”. Pop sensation Selena Gomez is being held prisoner in an underwater tower in Wizard City, and only you can help her escape. But hurry, because this quest is only available for a limited time!
Look for this exciting new quest alongside
the release of Selena Gomez & The Scene’s new record this week.

Enjoy Some New Tunes!
Start your adventure on the right note by checking out Selena’s iTunes® page,
featuring her new CD, A Year Without Rain.

The guest appearance by the star of Wizards of Waverly Place is part of the build up to Wizard 101s new underwater world Celestia, set to open soon.