It might look like your typical old-school shoot 'em up at first (which wouldn't be such a bad thing, anyway), but XIIZEAL has a few neat tricks up its sleeve. For instance, your ship can dish out close-range sideways attacks that are stronger than your normal gun. This really changes how you think about shooters. Trying to hang back and dodge bullets isn't always the best way out anymore. It's also cool how the levels and enemies vary depending on how well you're doing, meaning if you breeze through Level 2 too quickly, you could end up with a harder boss at the end. Levels 1 and 2 are pretty easy overall, though, but you may have a tough time reaching the game's final eighth stage, even on easy mode. Fortunately, you're given additional credits the longer you play the game, so there's hope for me yet! There are two things that bug me about XIIZEAL, though. The menus are a little clunky; nothing's really been cleaned up in that regard in the move from arcade to PC. And I wish that the ship moved just a hair faster... or had a more distinct hit box. It can be hard to get out of those bullet hell moments safely. But all in all, this is a solid shoot 'em up that only gets better the more you play it.
It takes a while before God Mode starts to be fun, because the game is initially very difficult, and the rate at which you level up is annoyingly slow. You'll need at least a couple of weapon upgrades, though, to beat any of the levels here, even on easy. But once I hit that sweet spot, I did enjoy this arena/horde shooter. I really like how each arena randomly picks a game modifier that can range from tremendously helpful to utterly superfluous. For example, one modifier just puts party hats on the monsters, but other times you'll be given infinite ammo, or bombs will rain down from the sky. That definitely helps keep things interesting, but it still doesn't make up for the fact that there are too few levels in the game overall. And after you level up enough to actually be useful, you can breeze through the lower difficulties pretty quickly. If you then switch to a harder mode, however, you'll be back to where you first started: underpowered and slogging your way through experience points. Again, I had fun with God Mode for those few moments in between, but taken as a whole, this isn't something I'd really recommend to shooter fans.
Badland started life as a mobile game, and that feeling hasn't completely left it for this PC version. The game still behaves like an "endless runner" of sorts, though you do have some control over moving forward and backward. I'll gladly take this GOTY edition over the original, however, because it's easier to appreciate its beautiful graphics on a big screen. Plus, there's local co-op! Flying through the game's crazy, mechanical jungles with a friend is definitely a fun experience. Power-ups abound, the most common being one that creates clones of your character and others that make you grow/shrink. Given how fast-paced the game can get, it's pretty entertaining to watch these power-ups take effect, to watch tens of little (or oversized) creatures zip through a series of spinning saws when only a few of them ultimately make it out alive. There are puzzle moments as well, though, where you have to quickly think how to manipulate the environment before you get dragged off the screen. It's tricky, but checkpoints are usually generously placed, and you can even skip sections if you really get annoyed. Don't worry, there are over a hundred levels to enjoy. You might get a little tired of the game before then, but I think you'll still get your money's worth.
Bamba is a clever idea for a mobile game, but you can only take one idea so far. Your character rides a unicycle back and forth, and it's up to you to keep him balanced and away from whatever obstacles are currently spinning around the level at hand. Again, I love the idea. It would have fit perfectly in a mini-game compilation like WarioWare. As a standalone, however, there's really not much here. While the levels do introduce new obstacles, the gameplay still consists of cycling forward and backward until time runs out. I appreciate that there's an end to each level, though, but this also means there's no high score to beat. You either pass the level or you don't. An optional endless mode would have done wonders for the game's replay value and seems like an easy update to implement. In its present form, however, Bamba is a one-trick pony that you'll be able to breeze through in a matter of minutes. Unless you really struggle with the time limit. Then you might actually get your money's worth. Me, not so much.
Similar to other Wadjet Eye games, Technobabylon has you switching between several characters as the story progresses. It's annoyingly disjointed at first, but everything does come together eventually and paints a pretty interesting sci-fi setting. I liked how casually they included things that are somewhat taboo in 2015 but certainly wouldn't be by the year 2087. The final chapter starts to meander, though, and ends on a disappointing cliffhanger. But I still liked the game overall and would place it next to Gemini Rue and Resonance in terms of quality. Unlike Wadjet Eye's other projects, however, Technobabylon doesn't try to innovate the traditional point-and-click gameplay. This is a pretty straightforward game of dialogue and inventory management. What sets it apart and makes it fun as far as point-and-clicks go is just how aware you have to be of your surroundings. The puzzles aren't obtuse. The clues are all there. But you'll often find those clues in places you'd normally gloss over in other adventure games. Hint: pay attention to the description of things! Ultimately, the puzzles were a good challenge, and the sci-fi environment kept it interesting. I just wish the ending had been stronger...
I'm someone that has been playing TellTale games for over a decade now and they're amazing. Every time I think that their formula is beginning to get a little stale they do something amazing to shake it all up. Of course, everyone knows them because of their huge hit The Walking Dead: Season 1 or Sam and Max, but they should be equally famous for the perfection that is The Wolf Among Us. While everything in the game is exactly what you would expect gameplay-wise, the story in itself is beautiful. Better yet, not only is the story beautiful, but the voice acting that goes with it is perfect. There is so much that The Wolf Among Us does that is totally perfect with the story and portrayal of different classic fable characters that goes above and beyond what they've done with their other games. Sure, many of the characters are pulled from the Fables comic series, but everything about the game feels exactly like it would if it leapt right out of the pages of the comics. If you like the Fables series at all or just want to see a really well done story, then you need to drop whatever you're doing and play this game now. It's a 10 out of 10.
As the years pass, I'm slowly finding myself playing more and more free iOS games and most of them are quite bad. Thankfully, Marvel: Future Fight is a shiny gem in a sea of garbage. Future Fight has you building a team made up of whatever heroes and villains you want and fighting your way through a campaign mode filled with tons of enemies and awesome bosses. Unfortunately, levels are pretty barebones and would probably have you bored to tears after running them a few times if it wasn't for the fact that the game has an awesome loot system. As you clear harder difficulty levels of the main campaign, you can collect more characters as rare drops and the best part is that if you get the best rank on a level, you can actually just have an A.I. take over and grind levels. Besides the totally groan worthy campaign mode, the game also offers a lot of daily challenge missions and some online multiplayer modes. While there are some free to play mechanics with energy and tokens, the game proves to be so easy that none of it is ever really an issue. If you feel like trying something new on iOS, definitely give Marvel: Future Fight a shot!
Before you get too excited about this mash-up of funk and Greek mythology, bear in mind that it's an auto-runner. The bonus level's even an endless Flappy Bird-like game. It makes me think I'd be more enthralled with the game had it been released on mobile devices instead of the Wii U. But as runners go, Funk of Titans is decent. It barely squeaks by with a thumbs up. The music is inconsistently "funky," and the gameplay doesn't differ that much from level to level (or world to world). There is a lot of content here, though, and a lot to 100%. Plus, leveling up your hero by completing achievement-like tasks keeps you thinking about what you're doing instead of just mindlessly going through the motions. Granted, leveling up simply means you get to buy different weapons, and the weapons don't do much except for opening up the occasional secret pathway. Hey, that's actually a neat idea! Too bad most of these secrets just lead to the Flappy Bird bonus game. If more Flappy Bird doesn't excite you, then you can safely skip this one. But if you like the auto/endless runner genre, Funk of Titans is a mildly fun diversion.
Playing Bloody Trapland makes me reconsider my opinion of Super Meat Boy, since they're both bloody, difficult platformers. I didn't really like Meat Boy at the time, but I'm digging Trapland. I think the reason is simple, though: co-op. This was what Meat Boy was missing, while Trapland delivers a great multiplayer experience. Four players (local, online, and combinations thereof) can attack the single-screen levels together and can die and instantly restart as many times as needed. Only one player needs to reach the exit, too, which is great for those moments when you're just not feeling a particular level but your friends are. Unfortunately, the developers put in the ability to kill other players by jumping on their heads, which is just... so stupid. This "feature" will often mess up a perfectly good run and means you'll need to space your attempts apart to avoid any accidents. It kind of deflates the co-op aspect of the game, though there are secret co-op specific levels scattered throughout that help reinstate working together. So if you like difficult 2D platformers that you can play with others, Bloody Trapland is a sure bet.
Mortal Kombat X Mobile is almost exactly the same as the Injustice Mobile game that released alongside the console version of the same game (meaning you collect cards of various characters and have tap fights). Unfortunately, MKX Mobile has much, much less polish than Injustice Mobile did. I'm pretty much always down for free 2 play affairs, especially when they offer special in-game items for the full console releases, but the game really has to work for them to be fun to earn and for the most part MKX Mobile does not. It's actually disappointing because the game is fun, but the constant connection glitches and crashes afflicting the app just make it infuriating to play. Suffering through the app probably wouldn't be the worst thing if you were actually able to connect to unlock the in-game items for the console version, but the app can't even do that right. Honestly, I don't know how this game was released as broken as it is. Only play this if you have a great deal of patience or a sadistic streak.
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