Week in Mobile: Temple Run 2, TREa HD, and the hidden expense of Final Fantasy
Every Saturday 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, we talked about the big Android hardware boom. Now, Square Enix has released another money sink — one that, at its $3.99 entry price, fails to advertise how much the in-app content will cost you, which has caused a bit of an outrage among fans and critics.
Imangi Studios came out with a “new” Temple Run game, which we’ve reviewed here, and we also played some soccer with the undead and froze time to break gems.
TREa HD, which is currently free as a launch deal, rides on a concept encountered countless times before in puzzle games: match three. Only here, the hook is also the driving element — the part of play that’s even more addictive than finding rows of like gems in a jumbled block of colors.
You goal is to tap large groups of blue gems to temporarily freeze time, which is an essential strategy if you want to climb the ranks with a new high score. Essentially, you only have a minute to match as many gems as you can, but stopping the clock also lets you suspend blocks in midair, and from there, you have only a few seconds to find another three and break them to gain extra time.
It’s a little restrictive that the cursor only allows for horizontal groups of three — not vertical or diagonal lines, which you may be spoiled on considering how many games out there use the same set-up of matching and chaining. The touch controls can be a little finicky in aligning the cursor up to where you want it, too, as you typically have to tap the exact middle of any set to pop it.
That’s really the only depth you’re going to find in TREa HD, but if you like it, chances are you’ll keep playing. It’s addictive in a challenging, noncommittal way.
CGMatic Studio (Foremost Funtory, Dimo Eggs) and publisher BulkyPix have added a new zombie game to the legions this week with Undead Soccer (free), where you play for kills against hordes of zombies.
Gameplay basically involves standing at one point and defeating the waves of enemies that advance toward you. Zombies will pop up from the earth in the distance, and you flick the soccer ball in any direction to shoot them. The touch controls respond nicely to the force of your finger — kick it hard, and you’ll hear the crunch of the impact, but slip up, and the ball will tumble forward, dealing less damage.
As you destroy zombies, they drop power-ups that you can collect by kicking the ball at them. You can then tap your new one-time ability, which appears on the right side of your screen, to make your attacks stronger. Lightning balls can target multiple enemies, for example, and the gun lets you eliminate enemies by tapping the screen. These only last for a short time, so you might consider saving them for when you’re in trouble. Zombies can sneak up on you if you’re not tilting the device to look around to the sides.
Each challenge or wave makes up a level, each with a different background theme, like an amusement park. But Undead Soccer’s shortcoming is in its difficulty: By the time I had reached the fifth level, I died when a giant superzombie stomped around the stage and killed me in one hit. I didn’t have enough coins to recover — in fact, I had earned so little, I was scrounging for the funds to afford upgrades (items, improvements to your life and kick power, aesthetic changes, and so on) that barely helped. And when you die, you start all the way over at the beginning, which zaps a lot of the fun from the game.
Temple Run 2
Imangi Studios made a smart but safe move with Temple Run 2 (free and coming soon to Android), the full-blown sequel to its popular endless runner, which released for free this week. If you’re a Temple Run nut, you won’t have any trouble adapting — this is essentially the same game. You still swipe left or right to turn corners, back toward your body to slide, forward to jump, and you tilt the device sideways to navigate those pesky narrow stretches where the cliff drops off to one side. And like before, you can collect coins during your daring run through the temple and redeem them for abilities, upgrades, or new characters (the familiar faces of Scarlett Fox, Barry Bones, and Karma Lee, but no others so far). Each even has a unique ability that you can trigger when you need it.
The graphics are sharper, too, and instead of fleeing from a group of small, crazed monkeys, you’re escaping from one huge, angry-looking beast. But aside from other small tweaks to the design, the most noticeable change is that Temple Runner 2 curves — it’s not all about straight shots and 90-degree turns anymore. You might run along a hilly path that bends ever so slightly, swing down a zipline, or ride in a mine cart. This minor addition is a big change in vision, and it lends more depth to the game.
So you really can’t go wrong with Temple Run 2. I do prefer the art style, tongue-in-cheek humor, and user interface a little more in the first game, though. Temple Run 2 packs in a lot of menus and screens that I don’t necessarily want to shuffle through. It’s not as clear or simple.
Los Angeles-based Horse Feathers and Shanghai developer Playlithium have teamed up to bring Domo: The Journey to iPhone and iPod in February. Now you can take these cute, collectible toys on the go.
Final Fantasy: All the Bravest is the latest mobile game from Square Enix. It landed on iOS this week and features characters, music, and enemies from across the series’ history — including a pig. Its price might be modest, but don’t be fooled — all the in-app purchases easily put it over $30.
Developer Frogmind has announced multiplayer plans and a release date for its upcoming side-scrolling action-adventure game Badland. Now you and up to three friends can play against each other on a single device.
The National Rifle Association has released a first-person shooter/target practice game on the App Store. NRA: Practice Range “teaches” players about firearm handling and related legislation, news, and rights — and it was approved for audiences age 4 and up.
Phoenix Online Studios has announced that the first episode (The Hangman) in the Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller adventure series is making its way to iPad later this month.