Week in Mobile: Siegecraft TD, Contra: Evolution, and Layton Brothers: Mystery Room
Every Saturday here on GameZone, we’ll review a handful of new titles released for iOS and Android and update you on the biggest news we covered during the week.
Once you’ve tried a tower-defense game, it’s easy to feel like you’ve played them all, more or less. Siegecraft TD ($3 on iOS) from developer Blowfish Studios and publisher Crescent Moon Games is no exception, but it manages to sneak in a multiplayer twist that will pique your interest.
This is the tower-defense reimagining of the Siegecraft strategy game that came out in 2011. Players must protect their castles and guard their sheep from the invading Lizardmen all while the story characters (whom you never actually control) try to reason with the small-brained beasts. This banter adds a little humor to a game that otherwise plummets into mundane routine, and this dialogue is preferable to the repetitive, nearly inaudible voice-overs that the developers occasionally sprinkle over the gameplay.
Players can pause the game or drag-n-drop towers and walls onto the battlefield, which autopauses the action anyay. It’s a nice feature that allows you to cope with increasingly difficult waves of enemies as they storm the screen. The goal is to try to form mazes that the Lizardmen must go through to slow their progression, but once you master this and the art of strategically placing the best towers (crossbows are your bread and butter), the game is basically a breeze.
Siegecraft TD includes an Easy and Hard difficulty, but I found the single-player game lacking: Many of the enemies and towers, while different, feel altogether the same. You can speed up the action, but that doesn’t necessarily make the game more challenging.
One note: While you can upgrade towers, enemies aren’t concerned with destroying them. This isn’t that type of tower-defense game, but maybe it should be.
In addition to the 20 levels scattered across a colorful 3D campaign map, there’s multiplayer — both local and online. Basically players defend their castles while also conquering provinces, building to increase offensive and defensive power, mining for gold, invading their opponents' territory, training knights, and more. This is much more robust and interesting; it works a lot like a strategy-based board game. However, the tedium of asynchronous play and the little time you’ll actually spend directly interacting with players (at least in a match with two) may turn you off.
Siegecraft TD is a solid game, but aside from the flawed multiplayer, it doesn’t break new ground in the genre.
Apple’s devices have been devoid of any Contra games until now, but the addition is a big improvement. Publisher Konami has rebranded the original Contra for the Nintendo Entertainment System as Contra: Evolution and released it for iOS. It costs $1 for iPhone and $3 for iPad and contains in-app purchases, but they take less of a toll than you might think, and you get a lot of great action for a small investment.
The run-and-gunner features eight stages and two modes, Arcade and Mission. Players can choose between two male characters to start and unlock two female ones through play. When you run out of lives, you can continue by spending a portion of diamonds or gold. You earn gold after beating every stage, and logging in daily will net you bonuses, but resources are limited. The same applies to bullets though players can earn more of them in-game or by leveling up. This is where IAP factors in.
However, as afraid as I was that the game would quickly pressure me into putting down cash, I beat the Arcade mode and played some of the Mission mode without ever having to. Contra: Evolution simply gives you enough to make it through — and I’m no veteran player at these games. For reference, I died 91 times in Arcade mode and played for 34 minutes.
The game offers three types of controls: a virtual joystick that moves with your thumb, one that’s mounted, and a “classic” D-pad. I preferred the first and last, but when my thumb starting slipping — making it difficult to quickly switch from shooting to moving to avoid enemy fire — I began to wonder if that was a deliberate design choice, or a way to facilitate deaths and corner me into paying. Then I realized that, in many cases, I was creating more work for myself. In certain scenarios, the character might automatically aim upward or whatever direction is best, which frees up your thumb to move without having to worry about correcting your aim.
Stages look great: Palm trees sway slightly in the wind, and while some of the enemies are boring, I enjoyed the bosses, overall challenge, and the Dragon’s Lair at the end. And Contra: Evolution plays with perspective a bit. In a couple stages, I faced and shot forward while running side to side to avoid attacks.
IAPs might make you wary, but you can rest assured: Contra: Evolution is worth the price, won’t stretch your wallet, and is a ton of fun to play.
These games were reviewed on an iPad Mini.
Layton Brothers: Mystery Room is a new iOS-only game for Professor Layton fans. This title comes from the same developer, Level-5, which assures its quality, but the first two cases are also free to try, so you can decide whether you like the game before you make a purchase. There are nine interconnected cases in all.
The mobile version of racing game Colin McRae Rally is out now on iOS devices for $5.
Playdead’s atmospheric puzzle-platformer Limbo hits the App Store next week.
PopCap Games has put Plants vs. Zombies 2 on hold until later in the summer.
A mechanical issue has delayed shipments of the Nvidia Project Shield portable PC and Android gaming device to July.
Contractual issues with Atari have prompted Beamdog to stop selling Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition through its channels.
Microsoft has clarified that only Age of Empires is coming to mobile — not other Xbox games, at least for now.
The Ouya microconsole arrived in retail stores this week.
Take a look at Konami’s new mobile lineup.