Welcome to Farmscapes! In time for summer, there is a bored kid who is sent off to 'farm camp' with his grandpa after his parents notice that he plays too many video games during his free time. Armed with a sense of humr, an eye for business and a desire to keep things neat and clean, you accompany Tom to his grandpa Joe's farm to make something out of the charming but poorly maintained place.
Playrix is one of my aboslute favorite publishers/developers when it comes to casual games. Their games are beautifully designed and highly polished, offering more than your usual time management or hiddn object title. Farmscapes HD (Premium), which was free for a limited time, is no exception. In this game, you help a kid and his grandpa restore his rundown farm into a beautiful and financially productive entreprise.
How, pray tell? Farmscapes HD (Premium) combines match three with hidden object gameplay in order for you to buy the necessary equipment and decorations to improve your farm.
Matching at least three of a kind is used to sell your wares to the local townfolk. Your wares form the 'units' that you have to mix and match – ultimately, you have to eliminate golden tiles scattered across the board in typical match three fashion. Later on, when you unlock new equipment/animals such as bees and livestock, you add units to the board. Each match three level is equivalent to a day at the market, and as a nice touch, people walk past and make all sorts of comments while buying.
Dark, disturbing horror tales are a favorite subject of many hidden object games (HOGs). The Cursed Ship, Collector’s Edition HD by G5 Games is no exception. The story about Ondine, a Titanic-like luxury cruise ship, disappears in the late 1970’s and you step in on an assignment to search for the missing ship.
As the name implies, the ship Ondine is indeed cursed, and you have to navigate a treacherous and downright creepy environment searching for clues and a way out alive.
Prime World: Defenders was released for the PC/Mac sometime in 2013 – last month, this card collecting tower defense (TD) game, now simply called Defenders was released for the iPad (you can also check out appSIZED's review of Man At Arms TD, which employs the same mechanic).
There is a story to this game and your mission mainly is to defend powerful and valuable prime (crystals) from the Touched (enemies or creeps, in TD parlance) who want to take it for themselves. Caught in the middle of two warring groups trying to control the resource, your job is to keep them away using various powerful towers.
I once dreamt of becoming a doctor when I was a kid. The dream quickly dissipated when I realized I couldn’t bring myself to dissect a live frog when I was in high school. Now, the closest I get to playing doctor is by playing iPad/iPhone games revolving around a hospital theme.
Doctor Life ($2.99/Universal for iPhone and iPad) by WIGU Games came out recently, the kind of hospital-themed time management/sim game that will make you feel like a doctor. Having played a fair number of hospital/medical themed games in the past, such as Hospital Havoc 2, Are You Alright, the Amateur Surgeon series, Hollywood Hospital, Doctor Life is the first of its kind to actually focus on real medical conditions and treatments.
Did you play the original Bug Heroes game? I did. Years later, Bug Heroes 2 ($0.99/Universal) is Foursaken media's latest addition to their lineup, following Bug Heroes Quest.
I must admit that while I played the first game extensively, the unlockable characters via in-app purchase threw me off. It didn't help that I sucked at the game and it seemed that no matter how hard I tried, I just didn't have powerful enough characters to use.
As for Bug Heroes 2, there are significant improvements and more problems compared to the original. It's still the same game as the original – you control an arsenal of fighting bugs (spiders, ants, etc.) and use them to fend of waves of aggressive enemies who are out to steal your food stash (a.k.a. your base). This time, however, you have two (2) heroes to control. These heroes are obtained randomly (slot machine style), and more heroes require a certain number of stars to unlock further.
I haven’t got much patience for hidden object games (HOGs) of late, but I do appreciate most of them for the gorgeous design and interesting storylines. Hidden CIty: Mystery of Shadows (Free) by G5 Games is their latest title to hit the App Store. While there are plenty of HOGs out there, not many have explored the free to play model. In the past, HOGs were far more expensive than your usual games, owing to the depth and richness of the content. It also takes a lot of time and patience to finish one, hence a single HOG could last you for months, depending on how busy you are and how many games you play on average.
Forces of Nature (on sale at $0.99) by Mean Bean Games is a game that will catch your eye immediately because of the art. There's something fairy-tale like and compelling about the hand drawn art that reminds me of an animated film I saw when I was a kid, The Iron Giant. Another thing common between Forces of Nature and The Iron Giant is the fact that they're both sending a strong environmentalist message.
Mother Nature's champion is Sprout, a feisty little seedling who plants various defenders to fend off heartless robots that have taken over his world. Sprout's mission is to protect the giant tree from land and air units. Water is his main currency for planting seedlings which can be fixed (tower defense type) or moving. Sprout does damage on his own, and strategically dashing behind enemies can even score combo points.
At the heart of Forces of Nature is a side-scrolling castle defense dressed up rather beautifully and quirkily.
In any fantasy adventure, the bard usually plays a supporting role, providing inspiration and support to the rest of the party with his songs about war and heroism.
In my current game of choice, and one I highly recommend, Bardbarian for iPhone and iPad (by Bulky Pix and Tree Fortress), it’s Brad the Bard who takes centerstage in fighting off nasty baddies invading his village. However, Brad can’t directly attack them, but his battle axe turned magical musical instrument generates notes which lets him summon allies who do the fighting for him. What Brad can do is to activate special powers to boost his units, such as increased damage, speed or protection.
channel your inner slash
It’s not easy to classify Bardbarian as one type of game but not another – the best way to put it is that it’s a crazy mishmash of different genres such as castle defense and a bit of RPG – crazy in a good way, of course.
If you still know the likes of Slash (Guns N Roses) and Kirk Hammet (Metallica), you’ll know that this Bard plays a mean guitar solo. So on top of a crazy, frantic game you get a pretty awesome soundtrack.
appSIZED was a bit quiet this year in taking stock of the gaming scene. Nonetheless, these titles are worth looking at. Some are big names and some are quiet wonders:
1) Tower Dwellers(Universal/$3.99) – While I am a huge fan of tower defense games, I am not a huge fan of Kingdom Rush, the game which Tower Dwellers is often compared to. Tower Dwellers boasts of a gorgeous art style and nice voice over narration which gives the game some humor. The similarities are there, but I like the interesting twist in Tower Dwellers where you build support towers (blacksmith, carpenter and mage) to boost your default defenders. Certain combinations produce new types of defenders, which is my favorite part of the game. The game is pretty hard to beat even on a normal curve, but what keeps me going is the thought and effort required to build certain types of defenders to defeat waves and waves of various enemies. There’s also a sandbox mode where you can practice. One thing I love about this game is the micro-level management which lets you place your defenders along rally points to meet your enemies and adjust accordingly. (HIT)