Category Archives: Mobile Gaming

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.

Android Gaming: Void Defence

This week I’m highlighting another tower defense style game for mobile phones that I’ve been spending time with when I can sneak a level or two. This one is called Void Defence, by Craig Hart (funqai.com). It puts a spin on the usual tower defense game by not involving roads or chutes, instead enemies come at you through the void.

You control a ring with twelve positions for towers, initially all empty. Enemies start in the center of the circle of which your ring is the circumference and move in a spiral position until crashing into the ring and taking your lives. You have the choice of six types of towers to use in your defense, which range from light damage rapid fire towers to towers that chain damage among several ships with each shot to towers that deal heavy damage and have a change to ‘reap’ enemy lives to add to your own but are very slow firing. All towers can be upgraded for range and statistics and also have a setting for target preference; either closest, highest health, lowest health or fastest enemy within range.

As you progress in levels the enemies have progressively more health and are worth more cash when killed. This is a game that has no end, it is a test of your strategy and survival to see how far you can go and points you can earn. Every eight levels you reach a checkpoint, from which later games can be started and the enemy resets to the slowest type (with ever increasing health). My record is 50, at which point the enemies have well over 100,000 health.

You have some assistance in your struggle, though it is random and forces you to make the best of what you are given. Every other level an enemy will spawn that when killed gives you a one use power to pass a tough level; these include freezing all enemies on screen, bombing the onscreen enemies to explode within a few seconds, doubling the range of all your towers, doubling the damage of all your towers, increasing the point value of enemies and increasing the cash value of enemies. When you pass an 8 level checkpoint, an enemy spawns that gives you a bonus that can be extra lives, extra points or an increase to the interest rate paid at the end of each level.

This interest rate is where your strategy becomes important, as it is the way to survive at higher levels of play. Any unspent cash gains you interest at the end of each level, so you are rewarded by being thrifty with your upgrades. The rate begins at 6% but can increase with the bonuses you get as you play. Planning a strategy to make your money work for you is essential to reaching higher levels in the game.

Ultimately this one is an achiever style game, as your reward for your well executed strategy is always a painful death and a points score. But the strategy elements and improving upon my play have kept me interested through all the levels available in the demo version. If you’re interested in something a little different and fun then try this one, I bet you’ll like it.

Android Gaming: Everlands

Fresh to Android from a small developer in the UK is Everlands, a game I picked up last week and have been having alot of fun with. It’s also available for iphone and I really can’t recommend it highly enough.

The game is a tile laying strategy game with a very neat backstory. Your peaceful animal world is disturbed one day by angry bees, who upon further investigation picked up pollen from sick lotus flowers floating on a contaminated lake. Something is rotten in the Everlands, and it’s driving animals to rage and fight. You control a group of friendly animals trying to save your friends and find the cause of the black rage.

You do this by placing your animals on a hex grid. Each animal has a health and attack value, and can attack in directions indicated by arrows on its tile. When you place an animal, the adjacent animals get a chance to attack defensively and then your animal attacks. When an animals health is depleted, it flips to the opposite side (yours or the enemy) and is restored to full health. Each type of animal has a special ability too, from bees that ‘swarm’ and allow you to place two bees in one turn to the frog who can heal adjacent animals to full health. You win a match by having more animals on your side than the enemy when all hexes are filled.

The game seems simple but like any strategy game becomes complex as new units are added and new win conditions are set. In one mission you must not only end with more animals you must also capture a Hippo placed in the center of the board who is ‘thick-skinned’ and reduces damage taken by 1. Others introduce non animal enemies that make things even more challenging for the player. It is a game I’ve spent several hours with, and for the low cost of only $2.26 (at the exchange rate I paid) it was well worth the purchase. Watch the You Tube trailer for the game, check out the trial version and I think you’ll be hooked like I was. 🙂

Happy gaming everyone!

Mobile Gaming: Bubble Defense

If you follow me on twitter @Kasul you may know that I recently upgraded to an Android phone. Android, like the iPhone and the iPod touch has a store that includes many free and buyable applications to run. Being a gamer, of course that was the first thing I looked for.

I enjoy many types of games on console and PC, but for gaming on a phone I tend to look for turn based or strategy games. The phone platform is poor for twitch games, making slow reflexes slower and anything that requires rapid movement frustrating. It’s personal preference I guess. Lately I’ve been really enjoying two tower defense games and I wanted to highlight one of them.

The game is called Bubble Defense, created by Second Gear Games. It is more whimsical in theme than most of the tower defense games I’ve played but is very strategic in play. Here your enemies travel along predefined paths that you put your towers alongside. Each map has multiple routes for enemy bubbles and limited spaces for your towers, so choosing what to place and when to upgrade is important. The game is paused while you place towers in between enemy waves, and the next wave begins when you wish it to.

Enemy bubbles come in several different varieties, and most when hit will turn into a bubble of the next lower color. So orange medium speed bubbles, become yellow slightly slower bubbles and finally green slow ones that pop with one hit. There are frozen bubbles immune to normal shots until hit by a flame tower, and black very slow bubbles that become white lightning bubbles; these zip by at hyper speed and in turn become three orange bubbles when popped. Most deadly are red devil bubbles, that take several hits and fire back, destroying your towers. Quick replacement is a must when facing these.

It is a fun game, and though placing towers can be frustrating on the touchscreen the action is paused in between waves to compensate. You have four types of towers available for use; single shot towers, towers that fire in six directions, the forementioned flame towers that act as normal single shot with the added ability to thaw frozen bubbles and warp towers that send bubbles back to the start of the path. Each type has two upgraded levels available to buy that improve both range and rate of fire.

Bubble Defense is a representative tower defense game with some twists that looks good and plays quickly. An average level is 30 waves and normally takes a half hour. If you’re looking for something to play on a lunch break or bus ride I would recommend it.