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November 21, 2020
Creating a semi-involving story for a match-3 game seems an impossible task. BirdsIsle, the new game from Amrita Studio, may have just managed it though.
It involves you collecting a crew of - you guessed it - birds in an ornitary by completing several stages that ask you to match up a colorful range of fruits and objects. You match them up by colorful vertically, horizontally, and even in grids of 2x2.
Moving these items is done by swiping on the touchscreen, and making lines or squares of four or more items will see you unlock certain power-ups, create explosions, or set off chain-reactions.
BirdsIsle may be a match-3 game, but that doesn’t mean it’s another generic entry in this most overcrowded of genres. This is in part down to the presentation, as mentioned above.
It gets you to care about these birds you group together. Their distinctive designs are one factor, and another is their adorable chirpings. We’re not talking about birdsongs either, but the various geographical and word facts they keep sharing with you. It’s somehow enjoyable to learn about the world. Who knew.
Then there are the clear and colorful in-game visuals, which make BirdsIsle an incredibly easy title to get to grips with. Even the in-app purchases aren’t as irritating as in other match-3 games. You can replay past levels to gain more coins and the like if needed, but we didn’t lean on this crutch too much to pass the latter stages.
What’s most impressive in BirdsIsle is how it asks you to play stages tactically straight off the bat. If you go in swiping mindlessly you won’t get far. Instead you have to make sure you clear a certain amount of items per stage, and often there are other obstacles to work your way around - including defending your board against wood-boring beetles.
You do this by matching up four or more objects in certain ways - such as in L-shapes or 2x2 squares - and gaining certain power-ups that are then essential in competing for that level’s main objective. It’s this need to think about the shapes you have to create that really helps BirdsIsle differentiate itself from its rivals.
There’s ultimately no getting away from it - BirdsIsle is a match-3 game. Regardless of how many power-ups and intriguing gameplay gimmicks it throws at you, it’s impossible to escape the fact that you’ve played many titles like this before.
That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but if you go into BirdsIsle expecting it to blow the puzzle genre wide open you will be disappointed. Set your expectations accordingly and you’ll be very happy indeed though.
No it’s not the most original game in the world, but BirdsIsle has more than enough about it to make it well worth a look into anyone with even a passing interest in the puzzle game genre. You can download it via the App Store now.
Game Controls 7.9
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from : Mid Atlantic Consulting, Inc.
You might think that working behind the counter in a burger joint would be no fun at all. But if Burger Shop 2 is anything to go by, you’re dead wrong. It turns out that putting orders together for a succession of hungry customers from a menu of more than 100 items is a great way to kill some time.
This casual time-management sequel from developer GoBit sees you waking up in a dumpster to discover that the catering empire you built in the previous game has been cruelly taken from you.
There’s nothing for it but to start from scratch and regain everything you’ve lost the only way you know how: making fast food.
Once again you’re assisted by the BurgerTron 2000, the secret weapon that helped you dominate the fast food world in the first game. Whoever put you in that dumpster clearly missed a trick.
Your trusty robot companion issues a constant stream of food items into your restaurant via a snaking conveyor belt, while your customers wait at a counter along the bottom of the screen, requesting meals in speech bubbles.
To serve a meal you simply tap on the requested food items, and a plate if necessary, and then on the patron who ordered it. Except that only applies to the simplest of simple dishes. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself cooking food, filling glasses, toasting toast, and much more.
Burger Shop 2 is deceptively deep. New food items are added before every stage (you get to choose which ones), along with boosts and other features.
Foods need to be prepared in a variety of ways, whether in the oven, from the ice cream machine, out of the fryer, or whatever. There are toppings, too, such as butter on toast or sprinkles on ice creams, all of which makes for a dizzying number of considerations to juggle.
Over time you’ll learn to make the most of the tools at your disposal. You’ll fill fries cartons and soda glasses even when there are none on order, keep the oven working to have steak, ham, and fish ready to go, and you’ll make use of the extra place at the end of the conveyor belt, which allows you to keep one item aside.
You’ll also learn to serve your customers tactically, giving them their meals in parts rather than all at once, so that you can spread your attention equally among your impatient patrons.
The game contains different customer types with different levels of patience and different requirements in terms of the food they like to eat and how many dishes they’re going to order. Learning to identify these customer types on sight is essential if you want to maximize your efficiency.
It’s a tough challenge, even in the tutorial stages, but fortunately Burger Shop 2 gives you boosts in the form of lollipops that you can dish out to prevent angry customers from leaving, dog biscuits that you can give to certain customers to make them happier (and thus more generous), and even a little hovering robot called BurgerBot, whom you can deploy to fill an order for you whenever his energy bar is full.
Burger Shop 2 isn’t getting any awards for presentation. The graphics could easily belong to a game from 2005, and during gameplay it can be difficult to connect with particular food items because they’re so small on the screen.
It can be frustrating, too. If you make a mistake you can’t simply remove the errant food item from the plate - you need to tip the whole lot into the waste disposal. In cases where cooked food is involved, this can set you back a fatal amount, for reasons that don’t feel intuitively fair. After all, you wouldn’t be expected to start from scratch in real life. Games are supposed to be more forgiving, not less.
Whether or not you played the first Burger Shop, if you’re a fan of casual time-management games like Diner Dash and Cook, Serve, Delicious! you’ll gobble this up. Burger Shop 2 may not be the slickest game of its type, but it has a fun story and a surprising amount of depth and challenge.
Game Controls 8.1
Burger Shop 2
The mobile strategy MMO genre has been thriving ever since 2012, when Supercell’s Clash of Clans burst onto the scene.
Since then, developer IGG has specialized in perfecting the strategy MMO genre, with games such as Lords Mobile and Clash of Lords dominating the app store charts thanks to their professional sheen (and canny choice of names).
Mobile Royale, the studio’s latest, demonstrates the same commitment to high-quality game production and sneaky zeitgeist-borrowing titles.
Despite appearances, Mobile Royale is not a battle royale game. Instead, it follows the strategy MMO formula pretty closely. That means it involves building up a city by adding and upgrading buildings, while also venturing out to fight for the resources and experience you’ll need if you want to dominate the game world.
Unsurprisingly, Mobile Royale has a fantasy setting, which means you’ll come across elves, humans, dwarves, beasts, dragons, monsters magic, and so on as you romp your way through the single-player campaign.
The dragon is a particular point of interest. This magical beast has apparently taken a shine to you, which means it’s prepared not only to smite your enemies during battle but also to help you at home by bestowing boosts on your city-building efforts.
As you’d expect from a studio with IGG’s clout, Mobile Royale looks terrific, from the impressive introductory cut-scene featuring a Kratos-like warrior to your city, which is spread out across a lush cloud-draped mountainscape, giving you an impressive area to scroll around and zoom in and out of.
The battles are distinctive in themselves. Rather than moving through stages with a party of heroes you engage in full scale battles, with rows of infantry charging up the screen in block formation.
Before each battle you can examine your opponent’s army to inform your own tactics. There are three different troop types, each effective against one of the others and relatively ineffective against another. Think rock-paper-scissors, with your three brigades hopefully outranking your enemy’s.
On top of that you get additional effects for sending more than one brigade of the same kind into battle. These include Shield Wall, Charge, and Barrage. Since three brigades is the maximum number you can send into battle, you have to go without a unit type if you want to make use of a bonus effect, lending the game an extra tactical dimension.
You have a relatively high degree of control during battles, too. Each hero on the battlefield (you can have up to four) has a spirit bar that charges as you fight. One a bar is full you can unleash that hero’s skill, aiming it by tapping and dragging. You can also choose when to deploy your dragon and, of course, your brigade effect.
Naturally, you spend the many spoils of war on upgrading your city, buying new buildings and levelling them up. On top of that you need to summon and upgrade heroes, trade with other players, hunt monsters, occupy villages, and so on. There’s always plenty to do in Mobile Royale.
The mission system gives you a rational path through this abundance of activities, prompting you to do the things you need to do to keep your forces and your city ticking along and winning battles.
All of that will be familiar to anyone who has played any one of the countless strategy MMOs that have hit the app stores in the last few years. Mobile Royale sticks to the formula in most regards, but it brings new features too, and
The only real issue with Mobile Royale is that it won’t be winning over anybody who isn’t already an MMO fan. Although it’s polished and has stacks of features it doesn’t particularly do anything hugely different to other titles in the genre - but that could well be seen as a plus for those who are just looking for another MMO to sink some hours into.
If you’re looking for a new strategy MMO to fill the hours, Mobile Royale is up there with the best of them.
Game Controls 8.2
Mobile Royale: Kingdom Defense
Zombies are definitely coming back from the dead in 2019. Resident Evil 2 recently reminded us how much we miss claustrophobic corridors filled with bloodthirsty undead while Days Gone looks set to be one of the biggest games of the year.
NetEase is leading the zombie resurgence on mobile though with LifeAfter, a post apocalyptic survival game that combines the action and tension of PUBG with the craftiness of Minecraft.
The game pulls no punches right from the start, with you involved in a tense gunfight on the back of a pickup against some alarmingly fast undead. After fighting them off the pickup crashes, sending you flying into the wilderness.
Cue a terrifying chase sequence in which you’ll outrun the undead long enough to meet a fellow survivor who teaches you the basics.
You’ll scavenge for resources to make a simple machete before locating your adorable doggie companion who leads you to a hut. Safety at last? Not quite. The zombies find you and force you to run again, at which point you witness some kind of giant mutated creature that could swallow you whole – and then some.
You’ll then meet a few stranded survivors, beg them to let you fix and use your helicopter, then make a quick escape by air. Well, you would if that giant mutant didn’t pluck it out of the air and chuck you into a river, at which point the real adventure begins.
We were first impressed with the robust character customisation options, which greet you as soon as you open the game. We could create any type of character we wanted, including face, hair, and clothes. Heck, you can even customise your pet dog, from its breed to the colour of its fur.
LifeAfter doesn’t get in the way of you playing however you want to either. Right from the bat you can choose whether or not you want to complete the tutorial. You can then either start your story solo, or send a friend an invitation code that allows you to play together over the internet. Not only that, but a friend can join you at any time within the game with a simple tap of a button, so you’re not limited to the option you pick at that moment.
The presentation is also top notch – and that includes the menu screens. All of the options we mentioned in our previous paragraph? You tweak them on a rustic table in first person, which is a nice twist and helps seat the scene right from the beginning. The in-game graphics are also very impressive, reminiscent of a PS3-era action game. That’s likely to ensure LifeAfter works on as many devices as possible, as you get the feeling that it could have been bumped up to PS4 level if NetEase wished it.
Console-style games are often difficult to pull off without a controller on mobile, but we reckon NetEase has done the best they could. The virtual buttons are kept to a minimum, with a joystick, shoot, crouch, and swap weapon buttons. There’s even some nifty context-sensitive buttons that only appear when you need them, like reloading or opening doors.
Finally, we were impressed with the crafting system, which was kept mercifully simple. In another nice presentational touch, your character actually whips out a tablet device whenever you try to craft something. Here you can see all of the recipes you can craft, and the resources that you need to craft them. You can filter these by types, like Tools, Weapons, and Ammo and swap between a simplified, or more complex, menu.
You can also queue up to five crafting items at once, freeing you up to get on with more fun activities like slaying zombies, setting up defenses, and scavenging for resources.
While LifeAfter is a generally impressive experience – particularly on mobile – there’s an unmistakable level of oddness that stifles the immersion. There are some lovely animations for actions like chopping down trees or picking away at rocks but then other simple actions go entirely without. Cutscenes that end on a dramatic note like falling out of a helicopter into a river lose their impact when you just appear by the side of the river as nothing happened.
This extends to the combat too. While there are some wonderful melee animations, they lack any real impact. The same goes for guns. If you hit a zombie with a shotgun right in the face, you expect some level of gore or, at the very least, for the zombie to react to it. Many times though, our zombie continued to shamble forward unscathed for a few seconds before it realized it was actually dead this time.
Very few people are likely playing this for the story, but those that do will likely feel disappointed at the dialogue. While we really appreciate the effort NetEase has made to give us dialogue options, the actual text itself is unrealistic and, quite frankly, bad. More effort could have been put into the translation, which would probably have helped.
LifeAfter is an impressive survival game that is well worth playing for fans of the likes of Minecraft or PUBG. It successfully transports these types of experiences onto mobile, though not without a certain level of oddness.
Game Controls 8
If the mobile app stores have shown us anything, it’s that originality really isn’t that important. There are countless spins on every genre, and what matters isn’t which game came first but which ones are most fun.
Fortnite is a good example. Having taken its inspiration from battle royale forerunner PUBG, it has spawned its own legions of imitators. Creative Destruction is one of them.
That means it sees you parachuting onto a large island and duking it out with 99 other players to be the last person standing. There’s only one island, but many different terrains, and the chances of spending more than one game out of 100 in the same area are miniscule.
Reducing those chances even further is the fact that the playable area on the map shrinks during each match as an unsurvivable cloud gradually closes in. This diminishing circle of territory is different every time, meaning Creative Destruction always feels fresh.
You start each match with a Destructor - an impressive looking rifle that nevertheless is only good for demolishing and constructing buildings. To get anywhere you’ll need to find weapons in buildings, chests, through supply drops, and by killing other players and looting the stuff they leave behind.
There are the usual classes of weapons, including pistols, SMGs, assault rifles, sniper rifles, bazookas, and grenades. You move with the right of the screen and look with the right, as per every shooter on a touchscreen.
On top of the default solo mode - the iconic battle royale - you can play in Duo, Squad, and Fireteam modes, and for the next few weeks (until the end of April) there’s a Duo driving mode too.
This sees you either driving a vehicle around the island or hanging out the back of it with a gun. The prize? Bumblebee. Yep - in conjunction with Hasbro, developer NetEase has added everybody’s favorite first gen Transformer to Creative Destruction, and if you play your cards right (i.e. kill everyone) you can even drive him.
Creative Destruction is a surprizingly robust Fortnite competitor, with vibrant graphics, silky smooth performance, and well-balanced gameplay.
The building mechanic in particular stands out. To build a structure, you first need to assemble material by destroying houses, cars, trees, and anything else that will succumb to your Destructor’s rays.
Then you can immediately create a number of different structures, including a floor, a wall, a share shelter, and ramps going either up or down, with the tap of a button.
These buildings aren’t intended to be permanent. Instead, they affect the way you fight, giving you ready platforms to scale and shields to erect to improve your odds in battle. You can almost think of them like Elsa’s magical ice powers in Frozen - your Destructor gives you a means to change the shape of the battlefield on the fly.
But the structures you create are easy to destroy - much easier than in Fortnite - so shootouts are fluid, dynamic affairs in which you’re constantly balancing cover and elevation with the need to remove your opponent’s cover and actually shoot them.
Fortunately, thanks to the shrinking map and the inclusion of landmarks that naturally attract players, you’ll always see action in Creative Destruction, and the final shootouts are often tense affairs.
For all that Creative Destruction is a fun addition to the battle royale genre, it doesn’t much that’s original to the table. If you’ve played Fortnite or PUBG, you’ve pretty much played this too.
Of course, that’s not necessarily a problem. It’s a new map, a new setting, and a new experience. The addition of Bumblebee helps elevate things, too, giving you something extra to chase beyond loot and glory.
But given the level of polish we’d have liked to see some more character and innovation too. Check out the game for yourself here if you live in Europe and Japan, and here if you’re based elsewhere.
Creative Destruction is a slick, polished, playable take on the battle royale genre, and if you’re tired of Fortnite and PUBG but still up for a spot of battle royale action this should fit the bill - as long as you’re not looking for something that’s radically different.
Game Controls 8.3
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