Number of Results: 4
With the recent release of Pocket Heroes re-igniting my love for D&D parties, and bringing back memories of playing Diablo back in the late 90’s, I’ve been on a sort of quest of my own. To find all the Diabloesque and Fantasy Card games for the iOS that I can. Low and behold, one of the first titles I came across, and just can’t get enough of; Blade of Darkness – an open-world 3D RPG/hack-n-slash game developed by Zealm (developers of Monster Fight, Zombies Runner and Angry Zombie Ninja Vs. Vegetables).
Blade of Darkness starts out with a pretty impressive cutscene giving you a bit of backstory; seems darkness overtook the land after a meteor shower rained down from the skies. Zombies and other undead creatures started to appear everywhere, and the darkness slowly spread. This land is appropriately named ‘Shadowland’. On the edge of Shadowland lies ‘Sanctuary‘; a campsite set up where a small patch of sunlight hit’s the ground. It’s here that you’ll begin your journey.
Actually, I guess I should say ‘it’s here where you’ll figure out what you’re supposed to be doing throughout the rest of the game.’ The tutorial is made up of 3 pop-ups. One telling you that the joystick in the lower left corner is for movement, another saying that the icon to the right is for jumping, and that to talk to people, you walk up to them and tap on them. Trust me, you won’t forget. Every time you come back to Sanctuary, you’ll need to go through the ‘tutorial’ before you get started again. From here on out, you’re on your own.
After figuring out that people in town with a “!” above their heads have a quest to send you on, you can try and figure out how to get out of Sanctuary. Turns out there’s a pathway right behind where you start from that leads out to two different warp areas, and from here, now you can start your journey. Your first task requires that you go to the East to find the wife of a wizard at camp. It seems they were separated, and he needs you to find her. Unfortunately, leaving the campsite will only take you South, through cemeteries, dungeons, and other dark lands which are full of undead creatures. Directions aren’t really accurate, and there will be quite a bit of exploring involved.
The battle system is in real time, and is kind of reminiscent of CrimsonHeart. If you just run into a pack of enemies slinging your sword around, you’ll find yourself in trouble fairly quickly. Standing back and luring a couple of enemies towards you, and watching how they attack and block will be a valuable asset to learn early on in the game. Running around to the back of enemies helps you avoid their shields, and can give you some massive hits. Of course, not all of the enemies require this tactic. There are some that will just stand there while you walk right up to them and bash their heads in. It’s all part of the combat system dance. I guess. Once you start killing enemies, they’ll start dropping gold and other items, and you can get your loot on. Figuring out how to pick items up is another task that you’ll need to figure out on your own. I’ll help you out; Tapping on the item inside the window that pops up will put it in your equipment pack.
Don’t get me wrong. Once you figure everything in Blade of Darkness out, it’s really a fun game. But sticking with it through all of the figuring it out will be taxing, and currently priced at $0.99, there are going to be some people who just give up, and delete the game. But if you’re willing to stick it out, and not afraid to learn basically the whole UI on your own, the hack-n-slash, loot driven, Diablo reminiscent gameplay can be very rewarding. Finding those rare items, and beating the hell out of hundreds of enemies is great fun. You’re also able to play in CO-OP mode, which has the game controlling another hero along side you, Multiplayer Mode, where you can host or join another game, as well as an Arena Mode where you can battle other players online. Lets just hope that Zealm sells enough copies to be driven to keep the updates coming, because if they do, Blade of Darkness could turn into one hell of a Diabloesque title, and maybe even one of the top loot driven games on the iOS.
After the release of Metal Slug 3 by SNK and Dot Emu, a lot of gamers have been hoping for more ports of classic SNK titles. However, I don’t think anyone really expected to see another title so soon. This time around, SNK and Dot Emu have brought the fantastic old-school SHMUP, Blazing Star, to the iOS, and it’s just as faithful a port as Metal Slug 3.
For those of you who have never played the original Blazing Star, it was originally released in Arcades back in 1998, and is the sequel to the other fantastic Arcade shoot-em-up, Pulstar. Blazing Star includes 6 different pilots + ships, all having their own type of shot, and special shots, offering up quite a bit of varied gameplay. The ships with the stronger shot types tend to move slightly slower than the ships with the weaker shots, leaving it up to the player to find the ship which best suits their style of play.
Included in the game are 7 stages, each getting progressively more difficult as you progress. Luckily, just like in Metal Slug 3, you’re given continues, and can also choose to play in Mission Mode, which lets you play from the last level you reached in Arcade Mode, so that you’re able to experience playing all of the 7 stages, as well as practice certain stages after you get use to the gameplay and start to go for high-scores. Also included in the game, same as Metal Slug, is the option to switch from pixilated to smooth graphics, add scan-lines, and choose to play in 4:3 or 16:9 ratio. Also available is the ability to play in 2 player co-op mode via Bluetooth, which, like with Metal Slug, is a fantastic addition.
There are two control schemes, one includes a joystick, and the other offers up 1:1 relative touch controls. You’re able to move the two shot buttons as well as the joystick to anywhere on the screen you like, which is a huge plus, especially when playing on the iPad.
Unfortunately, a lot of players are having problems getting use to the ship speed. The way the game was made, making stronger ships move slower, this means that the ships will not move as fast as you can move your finger across the screen, and because of this, a lot of players have had problems getting comfortable with the gameplay. Also an issue is the joystick. The dead zone that you’re able to touch is fairly small, and results in the ship’s movement being pretty jerky, and hard to control. Another issue some have been having is that in order to fire, you need to constantly tap on the shoot button. Fortunately, SNK and Dot Emu have stated that they are adding an option for ship movement to be sped up, as well as an auto-fire option. But not to worry, for those of you who have come to love the game in the past, and are accustomed to the ship’s movement, and the firing mechanics, the new control set-ups will have a separate leaderboard, leaving the hardcore players boards safe and sound.
Graphically, Blazing Star looks amazing. The animations and 2.5D graphics look incredible on both the iPhone and the iPad, and the music is exactly as it was over 14 years ago; hard-edged, and full of energy. The GameCenter integration definitely adds to the already high replay value that almost all SHMUPs inevitably include, having boards for all 4 difficulty settings, as well as 15 hard to snag achievements.
Being Universal, and priced insanely low at $2.99, Blazing Star is a game that all SHMUP fans need to check out. With it’s slick graphics, awesome gameplay, and fantastic scoring system, it sits along-side the other heavy hitters like Dariusburst and RayStorm, as one of the best non-Cave shoot-em-ups available for the iOS. Hopefully SNK and Dot Emu will keep porting over amazing classics from the past and making them available via the AppStore (here’s hoping for The Last Blade!). Having them available at any time and in our pockets is simply amazing.
Bringing back old-school gaming to the iOS seems to be a fairly lucrative investment. If it wasn’t, I doubt we’d see companies do it over and over again. But this also benefit’s the players, if not just as much. We’re able to buy back memories from our youth for pennies on the dollar, and if you can deal with touch screen controls, it’s almost always worth it. This week, SNK took a second chance at releasing a Metal Slug title for the iOS, and after spending some time with it, this is THE ONE to get if you’re a fan of Run-n-Gun gameplay; Metal Slug 3. Originally released for the Neo-Geo back in 2000, and on the PS2, XBOX, XBLA, Wii, PSP, and PC since, this classic title has now hit the AppStore, and fans of the game, and series, have a lot to be happy about. No more Metal Slug Touch, no more tilt controls, no more vehicle-only gameplay, no more clunky controls, no more! Finally, iOS gamers have a faithful port of Metal Slug, and one of the best titles of the series at that.
Metal Slug 3 happens to be the first Metal Slug that features branching paths in each stage, letting players choose different paths, each having different difficulties, enemies, guns, and amount of hostages. All of the paths lead to the same boss battle at the end of each stage, but which path you choose has a direct influence on your score, and in some cases, the challenge presented. There are 2 gameplay options, Single and Multiplayer, each having 4 different difficulties, Easy, Medium, Hard, and Very Hard, as well as your choice between Arcade and Mission Modes. Multiplayer is a co-op mode, and is only available through local Bluetooth, but it’s still a great feature if you have two devices, or a friend with an iDevice. Arcade and Mission Modes are the same, except that Mission Mode lets you select which of the 5 stages you’d like to play, with each stage being unlocked after you reach it in Arcade Mode. You’ll also have 4 different characters to choose from, two male, and two female.
The controls are surprisingly good. You’re given a joystick, and 3 buttons, and can be placed anywhere on the screen. The buttons are for jumping, shooting, and throwing grenades, and are nice, responsive, and tight. I’ve never run into a situation and blamed controls for an un-necessary death, which is pretty impressive, especially considering how hectic the gameplay gets. In the options menu, you’re also able to change the aspect ratio from 16:9 to 4:3, you can change the video filtering on or off, which either smoothes out the edges of everything, or gives you that great crisp pixel look, and you can also add scanlines to the game at either 50% or 100%, which adds to the old-school feeling.
Like previous Metal Slug titles, there are quite a few vehicles which you’ll come across, most of which haven’t been seen in previous titles; the Slug Driller, Slug Mariner, Elephant Slug (which is one of my favorites), Ostrich Slug, Astro Slug (my definite favorite), and plenty more. You’ll also come across characters which, when freed, will help you out, providing some extra fire-power. Like, believe it or not, an UZI wielding Monkey.
There are some issues with the game right now, but nothing that can’t be easily fixed in an update. The video settings are not saved when you exit the app, which means if you want scanlines, or the pixel look, you’ll have to change this every time you start the game up. Also, the controls do wind up covering the action sometimes. Hopefully with the video settings, a dead-zone will be able to be added, changing the video size to 80% or close to that, so that players fingers won’t cover up the action. This little issue however, is only noticeable on the iPod and iPhone. On the iPad, your fingers will pretty much never cover up any of the action.
So, is Metal Slug 3 worth checking out? Most definitely. For $6.99, being Universal, including Bluetooth co-op, GameCenter integration with a world-wide leaderboard, and 30 achievements, great controls, awesome graphics, insanely addictive and entertaining gameplay. Yes, it’s a must buy, especially for fans of the genre who have been, well, at the very least, let down, by about 95% of the AppStore’s previous Run-n-Gun offerings.
Tower+Base Defense games are everywhere in the AppStore. It’s definitely a genre that has been overwhelmed with releases. With the growing capabilities of the iOS hardware as well as it’s software, this genre is finally expanding after a sort of dead period where nothing really new was hitting the gaming scene, and 3D Tower Defense titles seem to be gaining ground. The most recent TD release from the very prominent publishers over at Bulkypix is Chicken Doom. A tap-based 3D Base Defense title that has you defending a chicken in a lookout tower armed with a Gatling gun.
Chicken Doom has you playing through various environments on Easy, Medium, and Hard difficulties. Your chicken sits at the top of the screen, back in the stage a bit, while enemies come at you, appearing from the bottom of the screen. The controls are simple; Tap on an enemy to fire at them. You can also hold down on the screen to constantly fire, but this knocks out any chance of building up a combo multiplier, seriously effecting your score.
So long as you can hit enemies consecutively, without missing one or having too long of a break between hits, you’ll build up your combo, which, in-turn, seriously helps build up your score. The higher your score, the more currency, labeled as ‘Corn’, you’ll earn. Helping out with this is certain power-ups. You’ll be able to use these to increase your combo by picking up an individual enemy, and hitting them about 10 times. During this period, the action freezes, and the one enemy is the only enemy on the screen.
You’re also able to purchase and upgrade power-ups in the store. Here, you can equip up to 4 power-ups, from a TNT Barrel, which rolls down the hill, flattening all the chickens in it’s path, a Bugger power-up, which covers the chickens in goo, and slows them down, a Chicken Bomb, which burns all surrounding chickens, and more. You are able to upgrade these as well, making them stronger and stronger as you progress through the game. Items will also be unlocked as you reach achievements within the game. A huge plus here is that there are no IAPs, so the game isn’t incredibly difficult just to push you towards throwing more money at the developers. Not to say that the game is easy. It’s not.
With each of the 6 stages having 3 difficulties, Medium and Hard will offer up quite a battle. You should definitely expect to spend quite a bit of time on these, and be ready to play them more than just a couple times before you complete them, especially in the later environments, which are unlocked after you complete the beginning levels.
What really makes the game stand out is the Co-op Mode. You’re able to play every level with another player on the same device. Unfortunately, it does not support online co-op gameplay, which definitely would have made this one of the best base defense titles available in the AppStore. But it does add an extra level of fun as well as strategy to the game, which is fantastic to see within the genre.
With Chicken Doom priced at $2.99, and on sale at the moment for $0.99, it’s definitely a game that base defense fans should check out. Yet again, Bulkypix doesn’t disappoint. The tap controls could use some tightening up, and more content would be great, as right now, even though the levels offer up plenty of replay value, especially when you take into account the 12 GameCenter Leaderboards, one for each stage, as well as co-op boards, and 24 Achievements. It could use some improvements, but it’s a huge step in the right direction for the 3D Base Defense genre.