Week in Mobile: That Monsters Game, Zombies!!!, and Gentlemen!

Every Saturday here on GameZone, we assess a handful of new titles released for iOS and Android and update you on the biggest news we covered during the week.

What mobile games are you playing? Share in the comments or tweet your experiences to @wita and @GameZoneOnline.

That Monsters Game

That Monsters GameMatch-three games are super popular right now. If you’re sick of Candy Crush Saga or Puzzle & Dragons, you can try a new monster-centric game that puts you in charge of zapping laboratory creations before they grow out of control.

It’s called That Monsters Game (free on iOS from SoftwareProdigy), and your job is to help the mumbling Professor Marty stop the threat by matching as many critters of the same color as you can in any sequence. As long as they’re adjacent to each other, you can string them together for a combo. As in any match-three game, longer is better.

Players must fill up the vault with monsters (the meter on the left) before the timer runs down (meter on the right). Leveling up by matching creatures together awards a small time bonus, but the gameplay is incredibly frantic. You need to be quick to win.

Certain feats (like looping, or tracing a diamond pattern around a monster) and power-ups (like warp holes) help you along the way although boosts cost coins to use. You can collect these during play along with gems, which provide a short extension once time is up.

The game features three modes: Blitz, Challenger, and Strategy. Blitz is normal play while Challenger involves a series of specific goals, such as destroying an entire horizontal line of monsters. Strategy introduces jumping monsters. After five turns, they’ll lunge at the screen, so you have to get rid of them before they explode. Three hits to the glass and it’s game over.

download yesThe last two modes require so much XP to unlock, and unfortunately, your level for each mode resets after a period of time, and you can only play three times before taking a 15-minute cooldown to refill your hearts (each allows for one play session). This is the only real downside to an otherwise charming and fun game.

Impulse Buys

This is the part where we put games to a quick 20-minute test. Are they fun?

Zombies!!!

Zombies!!!

If you’ve never played Zombies!!!, then you’re missing out on one of the best survival-horror experiences in board games. My friends have collected a bunch of different themed location packs such as a mall and military base that they can use to reenact the zombie apocalypse — by placing tiles for buildings and street paths, collecting health (hearts) and bullets even as zombies crowd and shuffle about open spaces, and either killing their way to victory or reaching the helipad where rescue awaits.

I’m amazed at how faithful the reproduction on mobile devices is. Babaroga previously adapted the game for Windows Phone 7, but now it’s out on iOS ($5), where a much wider audience can enjoy it.

My favorite feature of the digital version is that you can choose to “automate” certain actions: laying tiles, positioning zombies and items, and choosing where the undead move on every turn. That means the game will do the work for you, which speeds up play (you can also skip through a CPU player’s turn if you wish), and the computer actually makes smart decisions. For example, it pushes most zombies toward the opposing player instead of swarming them around you. (Or you can, like in the board game, individually pluck and drop zombies on spaces where you want them based on the number you rolled.)

Rounds consist of drawing and playing a card in your hand, rolling a die to move you and the zombies, killing walkers and acquiring resources (hearts and bullets, which help you survive encounters), and discarding an unwanted card. Players are required to complete the tutorial level, which mimics a normal albeit shorter game with one CPU player, before they can enjoy the many modes: Standard Game, Generated Town, Quick Play, and Survival Horror.

I also love that you can customize your avatar’s gender and color and choose whether you want CPU or human players (up to five). Like a real board game, the zombies and human characters hop around the board on a colored plastic stand. It’s a nice touch.

download yesIt’s funny, but if you’re like me and have trouble sitting hours upon hours in one board game session, you may even find this version of Zombies!!! preferable to the real thing. You can save and quit midgame and pick up where you left off later.

Gentlemen!

Gentlemen!Gentlemen don’t fight dirty. Except that’s exactly what you’ll be doing in Lucky Frame’s stylish two-person Victorian dueling game for tablets. It’s a bit pricey ($5 on iOS and Android), but Gentlemen! is a simple, elegant head-to-head multiplayer title where players can beat each other up on the same screen without physically getting in each other’s way. You’ll bump heads but not elbows.

The controls are simple. Each player faces the other, manning a short end of the device. Left and right arrows on the bottom move your gentleman, the attack button uses whatever weapon you’ve been randomly assigned, and antigravity switches whether you fall and walk normally or upsidedown. Stages are reminiscent of Super Crate Box, but instead of blowing up waves of enemies, the goal is to eliminate the other player.

The three modes are all slight variations on one another: Duel is a fight to the death, Chase allows only one person to have a weapon for a short time (the timer circle around your character shows you how long you have to wait to be armed again), and Diamond Duel remixes the standard Duel by enabling players to win by accumulating either enough kills or diamonds of their color (red or blue).

Players can set how many kills and diamonds it takes to win, and that determines the length of matches. The best option, though, is a toggle for diamond drops, which makes Diamond Duel slightly more challenging as players can then knock diamonds away from their opponent whenever they manage a kill.

Everything you need to keep track of during play is easily viewable. In addition to the convenient timer circle (in Chase mode only), skulls fill up around characters with each kill, revealing your current score and how many more strikes are needed to win.

I do wish, for the price, that Gentlemen! was a little bigger in scope. The number of stages and power-ups are rather limited. Chase was the only mode that dragged a bit as the biggest hurdle to play is mastering the antigravity controls so you can successfully pursue and attack the other player.

Gentlemen!Despite these gripes, Gentlemen! is one of the better head-to-head games that I’ve seen.

These games were reviewed on an iPad Mini.

News Highlights

Jellygrade

 Jetpack Joyride developer Halfbrick Studios has announced a new game called Colassatron: Massive World Threat.

Check out the launch trailer for Shadowrun Returns.

Halo: Spartan Assault is now available for Windows 8 devices.

A social online role-playing game based on the cult TV show Firefly is coming to tablets and smartphones next year.

Learn the basics of apprentices, clerics, and acolytes in Champs: Battlegrounds.

Layton Brothers: Mystery Room cracked 1 million downloads on the App Store less than a month after its release.

Three of SimCity’s lead developers have left Electronic Arts and Maxis and formed their own studio, where they’ll be working on a mobile and PC title.

Rabbids Invasion, the interactive television experience with Xbox One and smartphone support, kicks off on Nickelodeon on August 3.

Epic Games has canned Infinity Blade: Dungeons — but the series will live on.

Rovio will debut Angry Birds Star Wars 2 on September 19.

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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