Grizzly Gaming

Friday, January 4, 2013

Going Mobile - Gaming on the go

(Two posts in two days?! It's a Christmas/New Years/screw you stupid Mayans miracle!)

Though I’ll readily identify myself as a “gamer,” you’d be surprised at how relatively narrow-minded I am when it comes to what I play. Well, if you’re familiar with nerds, maybe you wouldn’t be so surprised but, I digress.

I usually only play video games on consoles, specifically the Xbox 360. I don’t have a Playstation 3 (though I literally played my PS2 until it died) and haven’t owned a Nintendo system since the NES. I don’t play PC games because I don’t have the money, knowledge or commitment to fight with them when my computer decides it’s not going to run something properly. I also never really played hand held games because if I’m gonna game, I’ll do it on a console.

Well, I’m starting to change my stance on that last one.

When I was younger, I had a Sega Game Gear for a brief period of time (the entire catalog of which was awful, BTW). After that I remember really, really wanting a Sega Nomad for some reason (a monstrous hand held which would play actual Sega Genesis cartridges – that is if you could heft its massive frame and battery pack, which would give you a lengthy two hours of playtime). And there was even a time in middle school when Pokemon was literally everywhere and I bought an original Gameboy off a friend to play Pokemon Blue (with which I did in fact catch ‘em all and promptly set about never playing another Pokemon game). I even tried a Virtual Boy once in a Toys’R’Us but its jarring black and red “3D” visuals are probably why I still don’t trust this whole 3D resurgence.

Fast forward to modern times. In keeping with my personal trend of being laughably behind the trends, I recently got a smartphone (a Droid Razr) and, hey guys did you know you could play games on these things?! Yeah, I know, stop the presses, right? And almost immediately after figuring out how to make the screen turn on (somehow they managed to glaze over that part in the store), I started browsing the Google Play store for some games. After plenty of trial-and-error, I’ve managed to build a pretty entertaining stable of games that would be excellent additions to anyone’s mobile device.

Also, perhaps most importantly, each one of these games is free. They might be partial games, requiring you pay money for the full title, but you can play each listed below without putting up any money.

Sector Strike
Somehow, one of the first games I downloaded managed to become one of my favorites. “Sector Strike” by Clapfoot Inc. is a side-scrolling, space shooter where you pilot a small ship through what I’m guessing is some sort of massive space station, destroying enemy ships of various shapes and sizes. To me, the left-to-right scrolling aspect of “Sector Strike” offers more on screen detail and action compared to top-to-bottom scrolling flight games like Raiden or 1942.
You control the ship by dragging it around the screen and the weapons fire when you’re touching the screen. Enemies will drop credits, energy and power-ups when killed. Grabbing a power-up will unlock the use of a new weapon system though taking damage will remove the use of all unlocked weapons with death resulting from taking damage with no power-ups active. Money and energy are used to upgrade your weapon system between rounds as well as buying passive upgrades and single use equipment.

A few reasons make “Sector Strike” a must. First, its visuals are quite striking – it’s colorful and highly detailed, never getting muddled despite the large number of enemies and projectiles on-screen. Next, it features tons of stages to battle through. I’m on level 53 or so right now and even though I’ve conquered all those stages, the game noted that I’m only 28% complete. And even at this late level, I’m still seeing brand new enemies appear every so often. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a free title. And like most free titles it offers you the ability to purchase more credits or energy. But unlike most free titles that only give you a partial game for free, “Sector Strike” doesn’t make you put down money for more content.

Major Mayhem and Super Monsters Ate My Condo
Next, I took my search to a proven purveyor of quality web titles, [adult swim], and was not disappointed when I downloaded both “Super Monsters Ate My Condo” and “Major Mayhem.” Both are fairly different games but each feature the network’s trademark brand of humor as well as flashy, cartoony visuals.
"Major Mayhem" is side-scrolling shooter and shares some similarities to the “Time Crisis” series. Featuring a few different modes and large assortment of weapons, “Major Mayhem” offers three different worlds of 15 levels each to conquer – Tropics, Metropolis and Desert. Each stage is broken out into sections where Major Mayhem will take cover behind an object to fire on randomly appearing enemies and is broken up with the occasional on-rails, running-and-gunning segments. Scoring kills earns money to unlock new weaponry in the Armory as well as building a multiplier which earn better ranks at the end of levels as well as extra cash. Players must be quick with the kills to earn a high multiplier but wary of deadly enemy fire as three hits will end your game.

“Super Monsters Ate My Condo” is a color-matching puzzle game of sorts. The object of the game is to match three similarly colored condos in an ever-growing tower, swiping condos you don’t want to the left or right. These condos are fed to giant monsters, each of whom prefers a specific color of condo and gets furious if fed too much of the wrong color. If a monster becomes enraged, he could knock down your tower, ending the game.

Matching colors creates a bronze condo, three bronze creates a silver, three silver a gold, and so on. Feeding the monsters one of these condos will set off its power-up which can slow down time, engage a multiplier, and put the monsters to sleep so they won’t notice which colors are thrown their way. It’s a strange concept but very fun and addicting once you get the hang of how it’s played and the powers of each monster. It can get frustrating to swipe the right condo during a fast-paced game and often you’ll swipe a few you didn’t mean to but overall it’s one of the more interesting and, importantly, fun puzzle games I’ve found so far.

Plague Inc.
The next title on my list could be considered a puzzle game, though its subject matter might be a little macabre for some. “Plague Inc.” by Ndemic Creations, is a puzzle/strategy game where you pick a disease and ultimately try and infect/kill off the world’s population. It’s definitely not the kind of game everyone would want to play but those who do are in for a treat.
An easy game to understand but almost impossible to master, Plague Inc. offers various plague types (bacteria being the only one available in the free version) with the ability to earn points (based on how well it spreads) to upgrade your disease with different methods of transmissions, increasingly harmful symptoms and abilities like resistance to drugs. The game’s main view is a world map, showing trade ships, flights, airports and ports of each country as well as methods of your diseases’ travel and rate of infection. You can also view other statistics about your disease and how its affecting the world. There’s even a place where to see fake news headlines about world events and how your disease is affecting them.

After playing through a few different games, I was amazed at how many outcomes there could be for my plague. On the easiest difficulty, it was a snap to wipe out the world’s population but on higher difficulties, it is considerably harder to focus your disease into a lethal plague. For instance, your disease could be very contagious, infecting billions, but if it isn’t deadly enough, a cure could be developed before it manages to do enough damage. In one game, I infected/killed off a majority of the world but hadn’t been able to spread my disease to island nations like Greenland, New Zealand, or the Caribbean so even though it wiped out enough people to disrupt research on the cure, those island nations were able to basically wait out the disease (much like the end of 28 Days Later. Spoiler alert, I guess). And, for what it’s worth, “Plague Inc.” is one of the only mobile games I’ve played that lets you save and quit so you know you’ll be able to pick up where you left off.

This column is beginning to run rather long so I think I’ll end here. Be sure to check back in the future for another installment of “Going Mobile” as there are plenty more games I want to talk about and I’m sure there are plenty more out there to discover!


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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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