Monday, May 19, 2014

Indie Game Review 3x: Red Energy / Tiny Runners / Tap Master




   I've never been lazier than ever so I'm back with THREE game reviews in this very first TRIPLE edition of Indie Game Reviews, which from now on will be dubbed as:

Indie Game Review 3x 


   After my last review, I had another eager developer ask me if I can review the game "Red Energy", and I saw another post on Reddit asking people to check out the multiplayer online-only "Tiny Runners", along with a fairly fun game called "Tap Master: Mondrian", which of course can all be found on the Google Play Store. I'm very excited to get to the reviews for each game as I've spent more than five hours with each game.



Red Energy:

Get used to these colors!


Disclaimer: Description taken directly from Google Play Store page for Red Energy

Red energy is tps game with with elements of puzzle game. The game is heavily inspired by PC game called Kumoon. Your task is to collect the red power falling out of the red blocks using a minimum number of shots. You can also push the white blocks to topple the red. The first shot you can give with any weapon without losing energy, the next will cost you a lot.

Gameplay:

   I've always been attracted to puzzle games and while I haven't played many puzzle games on mobile devices, this game is what I'd describe as very unique. As the game description and instructions in the game tell you, the objective of this game is simple: shoot or otherwise knock down the towers of red blocks and collect the red energy. You want to knock everything down with as few shots as possible which you can either use your pistol, shotgun, bazooka, or player's body can do in an assortment of combinations. You also get a free shot with either pistol or shotgun as your first move, so make sure to aim wisely and try to break it up the best way you can on that first shot. I really enjoyed coming up with different patterns and approaches when it came to tackling each (mostly) unique stage. Some of the stages started to feel boring and repetitive, but even so I made sure to trudge my way through it until the very end and if I wasn't completely satisfied with how a stage went and my score was low, I'd hit the replay button and try another way until I could perfect everything from angle, each weapon, and every domino effect I could cause by hitting just the right spot. Of course, you need to be careful to make sure that your tiny round guy doesn't touch any red blocks because it will throw you so deep in the negatives that you might as well restart right away. 


Visual & Sound Design:

   The game has a very voxel feel to it with its nearly free-range 3D arena that is full of red, grays, and whites. The camera works well and you really feel the depth of how large the area is with the massive towers and giant balls (heh). Of course, the game has a very rudimentary design which I think works in its favor.. to a point. Even though the stages felt huge and I had freedom to go pretty much anywhere I want.. I just felt like things were a bit too simplistic. I don't know if the weapons should really be a pistol, shotgun and bazooka because while the pistol shoots on shot and the shotgun shoots a spread of shots, they really didn't feel like how weapons like that should react.. and the bazooka only shot "more" than what the shotgun did and it wasn't one large, singular shot. Of course, that is just nitpicking. Also, I love the music. Thank you for updating it when the percentage bar for stage progression was added.

Bugs:

    This game is amazing when it works right, but boy did I run into some serious bugs. I've played two different versions of this game and both versions had me having to restart stages because while I knocked every block down, collected every bit of red energy and everything that the rules of the game state, I'd have to restart a stage because it would not progress me to the next one. Sometimes I have to press the button to shoot several times before anything is fired, but that was a mild annoyance if anything. I've been communicating with the developer of this game and I'm certain that the bug of stage progression will be fixed.

Final Summary: 

   Even with all of my little complaints about how the game handles and this and that, this game IS fun. It does take a while to really find your groove with playing it so when you first dive in you might be a little put off with how you roam around and all that, but just give it a chance. You'll grow to like the way it plays, hopefully love the graphics and the music, and hopefully really enjoy yourself when playing this game. I will definitely be checking out the next update.


Tiny Runners:

GET READY! CUZ THEY'RE GONNA GET YA!

Feel the rush! The most fast paced, addicting 3D realtime multiplayer racing game is here!
Tiny Runners: multiplayer race is a quick 3D realtime multiplayer racing game where you race against 3 other real players and race with friends. Run, jump and battle using coolest weapons and funnest power ups, are you ready to be join the race?

Gameplay:

   In Almond Play's Tiny Runners you play one of four racers in a rush to the end using whatever possible way, whether it is simply running, jumping, ducking, or using one of the various weapons or defenses that are available at your disposal. It is a little bit glitchy, especially if you're connected to other players that have a lag but I don't really think that is in the hands of the developer to control (unless the netcode is better optimized). The game is very simple with the using swipes and taps to control your character, it can get heated with other skilled players and can be somewhat unrewarding if you're not really good at the game or matched up against someone who is better than you. The game is very simple, it can get heated with other skilled players and can be somewhat unrewarding if you're not really good at the game or matched up against someone who is better than you. I always personally got joy out of dropping bombs and time-bombs to those challenging me. Once you've familiarized yourself with the terrain of the different stage types it essentially becomes predictable and you'll easily be able to take advantage of other's lack of familiarity -- this is NOT a complaint but rather I'd say it's a fair competitive advantage that you can get from playing any other platforming game.

Visual & Sound Design:

   The design of this game is very cute and has a very Super Mario feel to it, which I simply love. The design of the characters and power-ups really feel polished and you can tell the developers put a lot of thought and time into these designs. The stages are colorful and have a very distinctive feel between the different stages and never feel like assets were simply copied and pasted from one stage to another. I personally found the Desert and Space stages to be the best designed stages ESPECIALLY with the jump pads that can be found on the Space stage...if we play sometime, let's go a few rounds on the space stage! Unfortunately I can't say much about the audio design as the May 16th, 2014 update has nearly completely broken sound for me on the four devices I tested it out on (Galaxy Nexus, Moto X, Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0, and Samsung Galaxy S5). This makes it incredibly difficult to know when rockets are coming towards you, knowing when time bombs are going to blow up, and hearing your opponents catching up to you and you might as well just play the game with the sound off!

Bugs:

   Wow. When the game runs perfectly, it's smooth except when it lags.. but there were more times than I could count off the top of my head in the five hours I played this game where I kept running into glitches, wall clipping, and other annoyances. I recorded some of my gameplay to just show you how bad it can get. See for yourself:






Final Summary: 

    If you want a fun, competitive platformer-racing game, then Tiny Racers is definitely something you need to check out. It is not perfectly, but it is one of the more polished games I've ever encountered on the Play Store. Of course that being said, I did spend most of the time I wanted to play the game waiting in an empty game lobby trying to find three other players to get a race going. The only way I could get around this was to invite a friend, but even with over 30 people in my Friends List, I still couldn't play. I most definitely think there needs to be an offline option or racing against CPU... something! And of course, while I did have fun playing this game I think I'll wait for the player base to grow before revisiting this game (and maybe a new stage type or two).

Tap Master: Mondrian:

Laugh at my pitiful score.

Tap Master: Mondrian is a simple game inspired by Piet Mondrian's minimalist art style, where your goal is to tap only the pieces that match the color and/or shape dictated by the rule. Sounds easy, right? Then try it, you will be surprised as you reach higher levels and feel challenged! Tap Master: Mondrian, following the minimalist style, was designed to be simple, yet in a fun way to overcome challenges and spend time wherever you are!

Gameplay:

   Tap Master is a simply casual game that involves pieces of various shapes and colors scrolling (usually) from top to bottom and it is your job to follow the instructions at the top of the screen to press the right shape, color, or both as they descend to the bottom while increasing in speed as you "level up". There isn't really anything complicated by this game style which I think actually makes it a fun yet challenging game. As you progress, you'll see from time to time flashing star pieces among the regular game pieces that enable different attributes that change the way you play the game. Will you get a free mistake? Will the game slow down? Will you give you the pieces you need or will the pieces come from the bottom? The best way I'd describe this game is like a mix between Konami's reflec beat, osu! and Tetris. After playing a few rounds, unlocking a few different challenges, I realized I was really into the game. It can be infuriating when you mess up by either tapping the wrong piece or missing the correct piece altogether. Now, I've played some puzzle-like games, or "casual" games where when you lose it is either because the game is really cheap and tries to trick you or you lose because the game mechanics just really suck, but when you lose a round of Tap Master there is only one thing you can blame and that thing is YOU. Yes, every time I messed up and lost it was always my fault and I can't really blame anyone else but me. When you get a high score you really get a rush of excitement and when you lose at a high score you get a sense of enjoyment.


Visual & Sound Design:

   I've always appreciated the "Mondrian" style that was mastered by Piet Mondrian (seriously, click the link) in the first half of the 20th century that uses rudimentary angles, black lines, and primary colors in rectangular shapes, so I can equally state that I appreciate the design choices that the developer took with this game. You can really see the love the developer placed in the graphical design and it's rare for a game to really pop out like this. Yes, some might consider for primary colors to be elementary and not really creative but I say it's the other way around: the fact that this game takes an approach that I don't see with any other game on the Play Store and tries something a little bit different earns some respect in my book. Plus, the way the menus pop-up and bounce give it a smooth coat of sweetness over everything else in the game.

Except for a few... they're all art apps!
The single track that plays in the background during gameplay has a nice build up that increases in intensity as your game speeds up and increases in difficulty. The choice of electronic piece, which I am going to assume is an original piece, really compliments the classical background. It sets the mood, it gets your blood rushing and keeps the game exciting while you crave more and more of the song.

Bugs:

I didn't encounter any bugs of any sort while I was playing, but if you know of any let me know. 

Final Summary: 

   This is a very well made game and to say it isn't would be a lie. There are no in-app purchases (except to remove ads, and please support the developer!), there are no over complicated menus and while it would have been nice to have Google Play Games integrated into the game, it really doesn't take away anything from enjoying the game. If you like games are easy to get into that pop with color that also gets the adrenaline pumping with difficulty that doesn't play around, definitely check this game out. 



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