Week in Mobile: Haunted Hollow, Dark Avenger, and Yoda Chronicles

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 that week.

This time we commanded mobs of scary monsters, conquered dungeons, and short-circuited some droids.

What mobile games did you play this week? Share in the comments or tweet your experiences to @wita and @GameZoneOnline. And be sure to check out our news roundup at the bottom.

Haunted Hollow

Haunted Hollow

After a premature release last week, the first mobile title from XCOM: Enemy Unknown developer Firaxis has returned to the App Store. It’s free to play for the strategically minded.

Haunted Hollow pits players against the computer or a friend through its Pass ‘n’ Play option. Like in other turn-based strategy games, you manage a limited number of action points (called “fear points” in this spooky world) and use them to move around or accomplish other tasks. The goal is to build a mansion full of monsters and scare all of the houses onscreen until you claim every territory. In the meantime, your opponent can undo all your hard work.

Most monsters are either “scary” or “fighty,” and both are crucial, as creatures with strong attacks can eliminate annoying enemy monsters, and scaring enough houses wins the game. Each type of mansion room spawns a different beast, like a werewolf or ghost, and positioning similar rooms side by side enables you to create higher-level monsters of that breed. I found that making too many monsters was counterproductive; my opponent could easily dominate the field with only a few.

Soon enough, the frightened residents rally together as a town mob, capable of burning monsters and haunted houses. That cuts the total territory down to a smaller size, determining the winner faster. In addition, claiming an individual neighborhood yields an extra fear point per turn as long as you can maintain ownership.

Items like the teddy bear and screw increase the health or movement range of one of your monsters. Players can select a single-use item each time they level up during play.

Haunted Hollow is a fun strategy game even if you have to slog through a tutorial to learn the basics. You’ll want to turn off the hints once you’ve grasped the mechanics, too, as they’re repetitive and nag you to buy what’s behind a paywall — ie., just about everything. Unfortunately, most of the monsters and items are paid unlocks; instead of offering a single price for the full game, Firaxis wants you to pay a few dollars for each item or monster pack (which includes a different style of house).

download yesI recommend downloading the game, especially to play with friends, but keep in mind that unless you fork over a hefty sum of cash, you’re only playing from a small toy box.

Dark Avenger

Dark Avenger

If Dungeon Hunter 4 failed to satisfy you last month, then you can always check out Dark Avenger, a new (“free”) action-role-playing game for iOS and Android from developer Boolean Games and publisher Gamevil. That is, if you’re OK with the cheesy name.

Gear it up, and you won’t find an epic fantasy story or a sprawling world. Dark Avenger is all about streamlined gameplay, whether players want to crawl through dungeons solo, challenge themselves to ascend the Infinity Tower for rewards, or fight against real players in adeathmatch.

Although Dungeon Hunter 4 is worth playing, it nearly forces players into in-app purchases. Dark Avenger presents much the same way, but it keeps the game slightly more open for those who want a no-strings-attached experience. It’s only a shame that moving from stage to stage feels so disjointed and mundane even with the fast pace. The rage meter, which fills up as players execute successive combos, encourages you to hack through enemies as fast and efficiently as possible. You won’t be doing much sightseeing here.

Dungeons usually contain one health restore point (in case you’re short on potions), and you pick up equipment and gold as you play. You manage your inventory between stages, which is also when you can power up new active and passive skills — perhaps the most restricted feature aside from the class selection, which is currently limited to the dual-wielding Templar.

Upgrading skills costs gems, which are hard to come by — either that or a large payment of gold. Players can stock up on both through IAPs, but only the most dedicated players will want to. The Time Attack versions of each stage net bonus rewards, just not necessarily the ones you need or want.

download noDark Avenger offers a much smaller world than what you’d find in a game like Dungeon Hunter, with a much less impressive view. Unless you’re motivated by the combat alone, it’s hard to want to stick around.

Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles

Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles

Lego games easily appeal to kids, and that may be the case with some more than others. That’s certainly true with Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles, which came to the App Store this week as a free title. Only it tries to cast a wider net.

The Yoda Chronicles revolves around building vehicles — a broad term that also encompasses foot soldiers and starships — by collecting and spending studs from destroyed enemies, but each episode contains several missions and plays out like a miniature adventure. Players might have to search for droids or key people, protect ships, cut through waves of enemies, or even free prisoners before escaping from a Rancor lair.

What’s more, the game gives players the freedom to strategize: Different “vehicles” are more powerful than others, and some are slow while others are fast. The occasional Jedi is more versatile, too — able to fire a gun and swing a lightsaber.

Of course, you can side with the Sith if you want. Both options are available.

The mini-movies that play between episodes are short and entertaining, and put together, they reveal the story. More content is coming in the way of new planets, which serve as the base for missions. I’m also glad that even though the game is titled after Yoda, it doesn’t rely too much on his particular brand of humor. I love him, but whew. Bore, it does not.

The game does have its drawbacks, though. A few levels are only playable online, and studs can be difficult to collect without wasting time. That wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the characters walked faster, but even the quick ones take a while to move across the screen. That can make accomplishing the time-based missions more of a pain.

Allies will automatically shoot enemies except in random instances, where you’ll need to both tap to target them and tap the screen to move around if you hope to eliminate them before losing your troops. It’s strange that the game lacks a virtual D-pad, but maybe that’s for the best — even considering these issues.

download yesThe Yoda Chronicles possesses a degree of difficulty that you might not expect, but it’s fairly straightforward while still managing to be fun.

These games were reviewed on an iPad Mini.

News Highlights

Soul Fjord

We could learn what’s inside the Curiosity cube the same day that Microsoft will likely reveal its next Xbox. Coincidence?

Kim Swift is developing a dungeon-crawler exclusively for Ouya.

Read why Sega-published mobile indie game Jack Lumber has found its way onto Steam.

Puzzle & Dragons is the top-grossing game on the App Store and Google Play.

Here’s why the Moga controller should be a must-have for Android gamers.

Minecraft: Pocket Edition has sold over 10 million copies.

This rip-off of Pokémon will cost you hundreds of dollars.