Week in Mobile: DrawQuest, Redneck Revenge, and lots of Pokémon
Every Saturday now here on GameZone, we’ll feature a handful of new titles released for iOS/Android and update you on the biggest news we covered that week.
Last time, Sega rereleased the arcade classic After Burner for iOS, and we got a couple release dates for the first launches of Wikipad and Ouya.
Now, we’re spending our time watching episodes of the Pokémon show for free and fine-tuning our drawing skills.
We also polished our tactical know-how and killed zombies with farm animals and a little help from the rednecks of America.
OmgPop and Zynga found enormous success in Draw Something, a Pictionary-like face-off between players that had them drawing and guessing images. Despite its popularity, the app had its share of limitations. Canvas’s new DrawQuest might be the step up players are looking for.
DrawQuest is more of a creative community where iPad users can come together to fulfill daily illustrative quests, which range from the simple (draw a smile on a stick figure) to the more abstract (create Thomas Edison’s new invention). The app gives players a basic set of tools (paintbrush, marker, and pencil) and colors to work with so they can achieve different effects, and after publishing a creation, you can see how it compares to the artistic direction other people took.
Some of the results are plain; some are funny; some are impressive. But DrawQuest is as much a learning tool as it is a fun way to pass a few minutes of time every day. Hitting the “playback” button allows you to watch a speed-replay of a drawing shows you how it was made, and this actually helps you discover new techniques. On my first few tries, I went from carelessly scribbling to thoughtfully layering colors (the paintbrush provides transparency whereas the marker is solid and dark) and adding outlines in pencil to make my pictures stand out more. It wasn’t long after I started doing so that I received notifications of my first “starred” drawings.
Viewing people’s different approaches to quests can fill your head with fresh ideas, causing you to rise to the next challenge. Draw a snowman, the quest reads? Why not draw R2-D2 from Star Wars encased in ice?
DrawQuest never feels like a competition — it always comes off as a positive and welcoming way to improve your artistic abilities and foster creativity, whether you have talent or not.
City Conquest isn’t new, but we wanted to devote a little time to talking about the game from developer Intelligence Engine Design Systems (IEDS). It’s free to try for iPhone and iPad, but the full experience will cost you $4.99. So is it worth it?
The mobile title marries real-time strategy with tower defense, staging offensive and defensive missions — and some odd ones in between — on the surface of different planets. By interspersing short tutorials, the game walks you through its 14 campaign missions, which can be played on Easy, Medium, or Hard. I recommend starting in the middle even if you’re new to the genre and then moving down or up depending on your performance. My biggest complaint is that Easy can be too easy and Medium can be too hard — there’s no good compromise.
The game is intense but rewarding. I found that the difficulty spiked in the middle and evened out for more specialized missions, but the challenge largely relies on how well you can strategize. You can pause the game at any time to make moves or quit and resume later, but many missions involve either defending against waves for a set number of turns of launching an attack. Some require you to attack and defend simultaneously while expanding your territory, upgrading your satellites (to bring in more resources each turn), and extracting gold and crystals so that you can buy more defensive and offensive units and level them up for more power.
Your and the enemy's attack units follow set paths, which appear as a trail of blue or red arrows on the map. Seeing them helps you figure out where to place objects so that you can divert the opposing army's path, which can be crucial to victory. You can cut off how many routes the enemy can take to reach your base or force him to take a long way around your defenses.
If desired, you can play the game at twice the speed, but that’s a feature more suited for the expert players who can strategize quickly and effectively.
Players can “steal” extractors on their opponent’s territory, reducing their revenue and gaining the advantage. Deciding how to balance units and prioritize tasks is what makes City Conquest so difficult, and the action never stops while you’re trying to catch up. At least this should give you plenty to improve on.
Not every aspect is attractive, though. Some missions focus on specific objectives, like only “swapping” units instead of placing new ones and positioning them so that they can successfully penetrate the enemy’s defenses. This part of the campaign didn’t seem to follow any real pattern and mostly had me reorganizing my troops every turn, hoping for a miracle. None came, but the battle didn’t impose a turn limit or pose any danger to my forces, so much of it was spent trying endless combinations until I eventually whittled down the enemy’s health.
Another mission introduces status effects, which feel like a cheap way to turn the tide of combat by healing units or raining down bombardment on enemy troops as they advance. At least in the “full missions” where you can use these, they take a long while to recharge.
Some missions are duds, but overall, City Conquest is diverse, deep, and challenging. Because gameplay is so flexible and there are so many options to choose from and possibilities to try, missions can unfold any number of ways.
The other third of the game consists of six Challenge Maps, but these can only be played on Expert, unfortunately. I doubt I’ll ever get good enough to take them on without losing, but more serious players are welcome to them. Multiplayer offers a bit more content. The lobby was often empty when I joined it, but you can also play head-to-head on the same device.
Redneck Revenge: A Zombie Roadtrip
How many zombies can you fit on the App Store without bringing about the apocalypse? We’re not sure, but we like the cute and silly style of BulkyPix’s new Redneck Revenge (99 cents on iOS, Android, and Blackberry).
You’ll probably warm up to the game right away. Its user interface is clean, and every detail reflects polish. The controls, though, take a minute to master. You shoot horizontally by holding a finger of your right hand on the screen, and you can aim shots up or down while firing. Guns automatically reload, or you can do so manually by tapping twice on the left side of the screen. This all works well, but the trick of moving vertically without sluggishness is to glide your left thumb up and down rather than try to inch the character bit by bit.
Redneck Revenge plays like a full campaign experience, with unlockable guns (and deployables like chicken bombs) and equipment available to you as you earn cash from successfully completing levels and, ultimately, worlds — escaping from the interior of a house and traveling down the road. The overworld map looks like a hand-drawn blueprint with little doodles, and it adds a survivor’s feel to the game.
Upgrading only a few guns (for fire rate, cooling, and damages) can get you through all four worlds, and the game gives a couple to you for free and delivers the steady stream of currency needed to purchase goods. Equipment consists of three parts —hats, torso armor, and leg armor — but once you have a full set, the other choices become mostly cosmetic in nature.
Getting a game-over won’t put you back at the start of a map or world, thankfully, but you can purchase blue potions to resume where you died in a level. These are pricier, so you’ll either need to save up a bit of cash first or purchase them with real-money, but they’re not at all essential to winning. That’s the beauty of Redneck Revenge. It’s fair and creative, and the 99-cent price point is completely worth the entry.
Some of the enemies do become a bit repetitive in themselves (or are overpowered at times, like the undead cows), but the game keeps levels fresh by varying the length, changing the patterns of zombie types, or by adding in other twists — like a boss monster or obstacles (or innocents) on the road. The last world is an entirely new experience in how the action is presented.
Redneck Revenge also features a Survival mode, where you can gain cash and complete objectives to unlock a new part in a special machine design.
Mere weeks after the release of Dungelot, its developer has announced a sequel and shared the first screenshot of the fun tile-flipping roguelike. The first game costs $1.99 on the App Store or 99 cents on Google Play, but it’s free for PC and Mac.
The Japanese-role-playing game Hyperdimension Neptunia has made the transition to mobile devices — in the form of themed calendars, alarms, and other extras, including the capability to take pictures with your favorite characters. The app is not a game, though, and more appeals to hardcore fans of the series.
Now you can watch a rotating selection of Pokémon animated series episodes and movies, all for free. The Pokémon TV app is available for iOS and now Android.
Members of Valve’s Android and hardware staff were let go this week, which left the Steam Box in a state of uncertainty. The company isn’t willing to discuss the actual reasons for the cuts but confirms it isn’t canceling any projects.
The chief executive officer of Ouya explained why the company is forcing developers to make all games on the Android-based console free-to-try but is otherwise taking a hands-off approach.
Night Light Interactive’s horror-puzzle game Whispering Willows (coming to Ouya and PCs and later Android/iOS) has come to Kickstarter although it’s already well into development. The extra funding should help the developer release the game faster, with more polish. A web-based demo is available to try.
Chair Entertainment’s mega-popular Infinity Blade action-role-playing game is free for a limited time on the App Store (until Feb. 21).