[EXPRESSO] Zookeeper World iOS | Match From The Past

Look what the Apple Arcade (yeah, eventually i decided to pay for it, 5 bucks a month it’s not a bad deal overall, in my opinion) resurrected, Zoo Keeper of all franchises.

I distinctly remember when this little match-3 puzzle game came out and managed to make the transiction from cute fun free flash game to full retail release..s, not just on the Game Boy Advance and DS, but even on the PS2. Those were different times indeed.

Of course it had been released on smarthphones after that, as Zoo Keeper DX Touch Edition and it even got a free-to-play VS version, Zoo Keeper Battle.

This new game retains the distinct aesthetic that admittely makes the series stand out more than the gameplay itself, one that translates well in voxel-style 3D graphics, but thankfully developer Kiteretsu also added more aside puzzles, in this case being the ever-popular “simulation-lite” management elements of adding more stuff to increase the appeal of the zoo, fulfilling requests, or doing menial jobs like cleaning up, alongside some minigames.

The simulation elements are lite as expected and needed, but the core gameplay it’s surprisingly addictive and manages to keep things interesting enough along the way via new obstacles and gimmicks, despite being a simple match-3 affair.

Though i do wonder if it was originally built as a free-to-play game, it’s clearly structured like one in terms of unlocks and progression, there are more currencies and cosmetic stuff like a punk costume for the monkeys, but since it’s an Apple Arcade release there are no microtransactions and shit, so you can actually enjoy playing a puzzle game on mobile without being continuosly pressured into paying money to skip deliberately excessive grind.

Not exactly a “subscription seller” or whatnote, but it’s honestly just good mobile puzzle game fun.

[EXPRESSO] Blue Archive iOS | Gacha, Girls & Guns

More gacha? Want more gacha? There’s always more gacha to talk about, not so much play as often gameplay it vestigial obligation or barely there so it can technically be considered a “videogame” and not a “JPEG slot machine”. And because these things always wants all your time. And money.

What kind of free-to-play anime gacha game is Blue Archive?

The story (as far as explained by the prologue) it’s basically A Certail Magical Index via Girls Frontline and a touch of Girls Und Panzers, minus the magical elements and sci-fi robots, so it’s a basically an island full of academies and anime girls students & prefects (all sporting halos, animal ears, etc) going around with weapons, riding tanks in broad daylight, and you’re the “Sensei” that shouldn’t be there but it’s now de facto leader tasked to resolved the current crisis.

Even if you’re amnesiac, like in Arknights, for example.

It’s fairly generic niche anime bungum.

Gameplay it’s mostly what expected, as you witness your selected team of 3 characters (plus supports) automatically proceed, shoot (and take cover if possible) through the battlefield, leaving you to basically just use skill cards for special attacks, buffs, etc

Each unit uses a specific type of gun, it’s more proficient in a specific type of terrain and belongs to a certain class, but that’s it, ultimately it’s about picking the right team combinations, the rest it’s windowdressing.

There is a grid based “strategy map” to move the units around before the auto battling segments, which reminds me of Girls Frontline…. minus lots of strategic elements. So ultimately it’s very similar to Princess Connect, a waifu collector “bonsai game”, with some decent character designs and good production values.

I will admit i enjoyed this one a bit more than Priconne, but not by much.

[EXPRESSO] Contra Returns iOS | Better than Rogue Corps

This isn’t technically new, since it has been available in China for years, but i guess someone at Konami woke from their slumber and figured out they didn’t release it westward yet.

I mean, this is the same company – among OTHER things – that wanted to release 3 Silent Hill games in the same month, cancelled a project involving Junji Ito, Norman Reedus and Guillermo Del Toro, and keeps embarassing itself even with the few things it still peddles as videogames, instead of pachinko and/or slot machines.

Who the hell knows.

And i wanna stress that, because i’m almost surprised by how this is actually decent, fun even, and furious since Konami decide to release that abomination of Rogue Corps and ask full price for it, when the older free-to-play mobile game by chinese developer Timi was miles better.

Sure, it looks cheap, the art direction it’s kept familiar to the Contra bombast even if you can still kinda tell it was handled by a chinese team (as in, it’s solid but kinda generic), but it’s actually proper Contra devoid of bullshit (like overheating mechanic for weapons in a shooter)), and it’s actually playable enough with touch controls, while it supports (and plays better with) gamepad.

There’s the gacha, the power level bullshit and all the upgrading n equipping and shit that comes as standard with the mobile free-to-play model to get you hooked and all the usual crap we fully expect from this business model.

It even leans big into the nostalgia for the olden days, but it actually backs it up on the gameplay department, nothing great in terms of level designs, but considering the trappings of being on mobile and free-to-play, Contra Returns it’s definitely fun enough to waste some time on it.

Didn’t expect that.

[EXPRESSO] Pikmin Bloom iOS | Flower Fitness

Remember that mobile Pikmin game from Niantic that was announced some time ago?

Well, i kinda forgot, but it’s out now pretty much everywhere, so here we are with “Pikmin Go”.

Yeah, it uses pretty much the same augmented reality format, with the need to keep the app open and walking to hatch stuff. Here instead of eggs you have Pikmin seeds, each requiring a certain amount of steps to be taken in order to “harvest” the Pikmin, and you can use nectars to make the collected Pikmins grow flowers and award you with petals, which are needed.

To be honest, i was amazed when i played for the first time, went through the tutorial phase and realized…. that was it. Look, i have been playing Pokemon Go since launch, so i’m not that picky on regards to gameplay, but there is something as too damn simple, even a mobile game like this.

Yes, you can use up petals to plant flowers while moving, which helps in growing both your seeds, and the big flowers on the map, were you can sent the Pikmin into expeditions, to gain nectar, Pikmin cosmetic accessories and more Pikmin seeds, but that’s really it.

Not that i wanted combat from a Pikmin game, and it being very close to an idle game makes some sense, but still, i feel bamboozled, i can’t really imagine it appealing to the main Pikmin fanbase, neither so much to casual players.

I can’t really be to angry or confused about this, i really can’t since even the marketing frames it as something akin to a fitness app than a game, but it doesn’t make for an engaging activity, as there’s no stakes or big goals to work towards, even as a casual thing to fiddle with while walking.

[EXPRESSO] Metal Slug Commander iOS | Cards Frontline

While that other mobile Metal Slug game (the one looking like a proper Metal Slug title, previosly known as Metal Slug Code J and now called Metal Slug Awakening) is still yet to come somewhere this year and the really promising Metal Slug Tactics is in development, SNK dropped a new mobile “RTS” title for smartphones, with Metal Slug Commander.

Apparently it was on beta test since october of last year, but i didn’t even knew the game (developed by SNK’s Hong Kong branch) existed, so whatever, it’s in open beta and available worlwide now.

More intriguing than another tapper, i guess.

This time it’s not a tower defense dealio, but the other popular mobile gameplay set-up: cards based.

You arrange the position of your cards/units in the 5 spaces (divided in 2 lanes) against the enemy formation, the units attacks automatically and you can tap to unleash a skill/powerful move when they’re able to. Pretty standard fare through and through, nothing really complex or fancy in any way, and you’re encouraged to just let it go on auto-battle, but there is something to it, as positioning the units and selecting the right counters does matter.

And as far as balancing the “pay to win” bullshit, this is a step up from Metal Slug Attack (and an idle resource collecting feature eases the grind a bit), so it feels less of a facade to justify the gacha of new characters, some sporting quite good designs.

Which just makes me wish we could actually get a new proper side scroller Metal Slug for consoles and PC to make good use of the new designs, i mean, SNK should have milked the franchise through mobile free to play games enough to warrant it.

Or re-release Metal Slug 3D, why the fuck not?

Don’t expect a review of Godzilla Battle Line

I planned to play and review this one like i did for the other mobile Godzilla titles Toho unleashed on us this year, as in via the EXPRESSO format, but the game just refuses to work on my iPhone, regardless if i reset the device, uninstall and reinstall it, remove other apps to make space in the phone’s memory storage, i have tried for 2 weeks by now to make this damn thing working on my device, but it ALWAYS, without fail, immediatly crashes after being launched.

Despite the app being constantly up to date and my device being compatible with it.

I have no clue why, the updates didn’t change a fuckin thing, and unless the next one magically fixes the issues (which seems to affect other uses with more advanced iPhones), i’m never gonna be able to play the damn thing, and hence i will never be able to review it. And i kinda wanted to do that, for completition’s sake if nothing else.

The review might happen, and they might just update the game to make it work immediatly after i post this, and tomorrow i will be able to play with no issues at all.

But until that happens, the review isn’t either.

Sorry, but that’s the situation, so expect other EXPRESSO reviews coming from tomorrow onwards, today is a forced review-less day.

[EXPRESSO] Godzilla Destruction iOS | Now BACK to Early Access!

Had to take this from the site because this fucking shit game doesn’t even have a splash screen. I’m NOT kidding.

The third and final mobile Godzilla game promised by Toho for this year, and the only one of the bunch that lets you actually control the Big G itself.

And because of some cosmic monkey paw’s doing, it’s also the worst of the bunch… actually, it’s shockingly bad, even without comparing to other two smarthphone titles in the same batch, it’s an impressive specimen of videogame dookie, so much i would rather play the shit Godzilla PS3/PS4 game Namco dared publishing some years back.

AGAIN.

Gameplay is pretty simple… scratch that, gameplay is just insanely primitive: you use a virtual stick to control Godzilla’s movement, and touch an enemy to either use your beam or a close range melee attack to defeat the enemy waves. Problem is, the virtual stick isn’t fixed, and it gets in the way when you attack, and you can’t do both at the same time, so you’ll inevitably get hit and will have to keep choosing the health recovery when given the option, as the levels are just insanely repetitive waves after waves of the same handful of enemies, able to do any kind of damage because of the shit controls and the lousy range of your beam attacks.

Eventually you’ll fight bosses that are also cheap as well, but i honestly got already bored sick in the first 10 minutes, it doesn’t help this one also sports no story or setting, it looks embarassingly cheap, on top of its abysmal presentation and glaring errors like english text clearly – and badly – overlaid over the japanese one, typos, obvious & bad machine translation, leading to odd word choices.

I almost expected the intro be an actual joke… but nope, it’s just THAT bad.

Waste of data, let alone time, even for free…..just don’t bother.

[EXPRESSO] Godzilla Defense Force iOS | ♫ To protect Mother Earth… ♫

The second of the three mobile Godzilla games promised by Toho for 2021, advertised a month ago as Godzilla Battle Line, published by Nexon and co-developed by Neople and Studio 42.

After the odd but cute stats raising-pet simulator of Run Godzilla, now we have a more traditional offering for a mobile licensed spin-off game. It’s not exactly a proper tower defense, but more of a tapper with RTS elements: units despatch and attack automatically the enemy waves from building you can upgrade, but you can also tap on them for extra damage (especially when their weak points show up), or use the various Kaiju Cards left by fallen monsters and/or obtained via card packs, of course available to purchase for real money.

It’s a decent little timewaster, a little more engaging than the usual tapper, but it’s aggressively monetized, even if it’s oddly pushy in making you watch ads to boost stats like production speed or to get resources, instead of just saying “cough up the cash to save time”, and i feel it’s the lesser evil of the options they could have gone with. BUT it still feeds into the same objective: to get you spending real money on the card packs and batches of premium currency, especially since the game remembers you revenge can be had easier by wiewing ads, etc.

Presentation is good, the story is what you’d expect, as an EDF commander you organize a defense line to repel kaijus attacking Earth, often sent and/or resurrected by the evil aliens called Xilliens. By progressing you get new locations to build bases, the ability to summon new allies with passive abilities, new monsters (some obscure references to Toho’s non-Godzilla material), making for a decent and entertaining loop, even if you’d wish for a bit more depth to it.

[EXPRESSO] Run Godzilla iOS | Tamakaiju

Toho plans to release not one, not two, but THREE Godzilla mobile games this year worlwide, and the first one is the already available Run Godzilla, which isn’t an endless runner (despite the title kinda implying it), but more a simulator-raising game where you take care of your very own kaiju in order to… make it run like a horse.

I’ve seen people describe it as basically Uma Musume but with kaijus instead of horse girls… and it’s not that far off. And by that i mean it’s basically a stat building game where you increase the stats of the monster before taking on races, where you can just tap a button to encourage the monster to go faster, but that’s about it, you don’t control the kaiju directly.

Strenghtening the monster is done via a typical idle game setup, as you juggle resources to have enough people praying for the monster to grow, extend the time they will stay in the group, pick up apples and gems to recruit more people, and change weather to influence the growth of a some stats over others. The kaiju itself has an “expiration date” which can’t be extended, but the following generation/monster will inherit some experience points, and the loop repeats.

It’s more complex to look at than to actually play, just a thing you’re supposed to tinker with on a somewhat regular base, as timers keep running regardless, so you might come back to find the your digital “pet kaiju” (one you don’t have to feed or “poopscoop”) already dead/expired.

It’s a thing to thinker with more than play, and while it’s very honest about it, outside of the initial novelty it’s hard to care for long if you have at least another free-to-play game/app you keep coming back to regularly.

That’s the sound of 10 years of Ken’s Rage

Sorry to “interrupt” Dino Dicember, but i wanna talk a bit about Koei’s musou series based on Fist Of The North Star, dubbed Ken’s Rage. If you follow any gaming news site, you’ve might already know of this, but since we do have some preview footage running around, i feel the time it’s right to talk about what Koei did to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of Ken’s Rage.

(images taken from Siliconera)

Continua a leggere “That’s the sound of 10 years of Ken’s Rage”