Tag Archives: games

Editorial | Review: League of Heroes

The “League of Heroes” is a simple RPG available both in the Android Play store and Apple App Store.  I really enjoyed the bright, playful graphics and the smooth game play, but there were some drawbacks to this game.

Welcome to the village of Froggnest

The hero of the game is asked to undertake a quest to rid the small village of Froggnest of the scourge of evil creatures that presumably want to destroy the inhabitants.  These inhabitants seem to consist of a Captain, an armorer, potion mistress, town troll, a trainer, and an elderly grandmother.  Most of these have obvious functions, such as the armorer and potion mistress, who both sell valuable items that are useful for completing quests.  The Captain gives the player missions and individual quests, and the trainer provides certain capabilities for a price—such as increased hardiness or stamina.  The town troll is the social feature of the village, and the grandmother provides small side quests for a reward, such as gathering sticks for her while the hero is on other larger quests.

The Grandmother's Quest

The Grandmother’s Quest

Each time the hero leaves the village, he is given a choice for his quest.  There is exploration, which allows him to continue to defeat ordinary monsters, the daily quest, which is pretty self explanatory, and the boss level.  I like this layout because the player can choose when to face the boss level.  If the hero has gone too long without facing a boss, the game will alert him that he can continue to accumulate coins and jewels, but that his XP will not increase until he has finished the boss level.

Choose your own adventure...

Choose your own adventure…

I like the smoothness of this little game and the ease with which the player can become immersed in the world.  The graphics are bright and pretty.  Quests are simple enough to be played in roughly three or four minutes—which is perfect for the adult player who just wants to take a brief break from work or homework.

There is a nice variety of monsters, and while most of the terrain looks similar, it is not exactly the same.  This helps keep it from being boring.  Also there are lots of little barrels and jugs scattered throughout each level that can be smashed to reveal the contents—coins, usually, but occasionally nothing.  Once a level has been cleared of monsters, the hero is given the option to go straight home to the village, or stick around and search for more treasure.

Where the game falls short is the controls.  The main character is controlled with a touch compass in the bottom left corner of the screen.  Moving the compass determines which way he goes.  The bottom right corner is the action button.  While the player is exploring, this is a sword.  At other times it can be used to interact (or “talk”) with other characters, or perform other actions.

I realize that the game has to work with the soft, onscreen buttons on most tablets and smart phones, but it makes the player work very hard to keep his character headed in the right direction.  I’ve been defeated during several levels because I was swinging my sword away from the monsters that were attacking me, and couldn’t get turned back around in time.

Here there be monsters

Here there be monsters

Overall, this is a bright, cute, fun game to idle away some hours, but it is easy to get frustrated over the difficulty of control due to a lack of physical buttons.  I give the game three out of four Death Stars.

3 Death Stars

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Filed under Editorial, Game Reviews, Gaming, Tracy Gronewold

Editorial | Review: Angry Birds Star Wars II

This past week I have discovered the new Angry Birds Star Wars II game, which is based on the prequel Star Wars movies.  There are a lot of cool, new features on this game that I have not seen on previous Angry Birds games.  Here is a quick review to get you started.


Mapping sequences are prettier AND collecting a map in certain levels gives the player bonus levels.

First of all, this game is visually far more appealing than any previous Angry Birds game (and I have played them all—I’m mildly obsessed).  This is saying quite a bit, because I found the Angry Birds Rio game to be bright and fun.  The mapping sequences in between levels are now actually shown through animation each time the player completes a level, which makes it easier to feel a sense of accomplishment.  In previous versions of the game, a player could work through an entire map of fifteen levels without realizing how far they had gotten.

The individual levels also feature stunning graphics.  The original Star Wars Angry Birds game took place primarily in space and was dark, and sometimes boring.  The levels released so far in this edition all take place on planets, and the scenery really is beautiful.

Angry Birds kept one of the innovations from the first Star Wars game, which I feel had been a big improvement:  visible paths for birds before they are actually fired.  Since firing birds from a slingshot in space can be tricky business—especially considering magnetic and gravitational fields—this is very helpful.

As the player earns points, they can purchase "replacement" birds to help with difficult levels.

As the player earns points, they can purchase “replacement” birds to help with difficult levels.

The talents of some of the various birds available have been reinvented, which is a lot of fun.  For instance, at a quick tap of the screen, the Jar-Jar Binks character shoots out a long sticky tongue to grab hold of either a fixed object in order to swing out and hit something, or a moveable object to drag it with the force of the bird’s inertia through the air.  I have to admit that it has taken me several tries to perfect using this character.

Also, the Yoda character now spins like a… well, like a tiny green Jedi.  At a tap, he will spin violently, and bounce off objects to quickly take out whole sections of evil, Sith-pigs.

Care to join the Pork Side, young Jedi?

Care to join the Pork Side, young Jedi?

Perhaps my favorite innovation, however, is the fact that a player can now choose whether to play as a Jedi bird, or as a Pork Side pig.  After playing through two or three levels as a Jedi, the game will prompt the player to decide if they would like to continue using the Force for good, or whether they would like to go to the Dark Side.  Fortunately, unlike Anakin’s choice, the player’s decision need not be permanent, as the player can choose either side of the Force at any time from the main menu.

Alternate levels to play, once the maps have been exhausted.

Alternate levels to play, once the maps have been exhausted.

Once the two maps that are currently available have been completed from both the Jedi and Pork Side perspectives, players can also go to another screen and choose individual levels with only one type of bird.  This is a really nice way for the Angry Birds team to ensure that players have plenty to work on while they wait for the next few maps to be released.

The game has me completely addicted at this point.  I definitely recommend it to any fan of Angry Birds OR Star Wars.  It’s a great time filler for just about anywhere—just avoid being obvious about playing it in Economics class… not that I know from personal experience!Screenshot_2013-10-17-16-29-35

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Filed under Editorial, Game Reviews, Gaming, Tracy Gronewold

Killing Time till Game of Thrones S4

Now that HBO’s Game of Thrones is over for the season, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my newly found free time while I wait nearly a year for the next season to start.  Given how dedicated geeks can be to our favorite shows and movies, I’ve compiled a few suggestions on how to pass the time while waiting for the next season to start:

1)  Catch up on chores around the house.  While that eight foot tall, Leaning Tower of Pisa made entirely of dishes may not bother you, it’s still probably a good idea to take care of it before your neighbors or roommates call the Health Department.

2)  Exercise. I’m sure that the couch is really comfortable (mine is), and you really don’t like sweating (Amen!), but we geeks have a reputation for not being in the best of shape.  Just think of it as playing an RPG: if you don’t level up, you will get your ass kicked. Maybe it’ll even help you pick up that hot booth babe at your next con (Look, a man can dream, can’t he!).

3)  Learn a new skill.  Maybe you can learn woodworking, or how to cook.  You can even give your creations some geek flair. What better way to start off your season premiere party than with a huge platter of Klingon Gagh?  A few weeks ago we shared an article from Popular Mechanics explaining how to make a vintage style gaming table.  How cool would it be to show this off to all your friends? It would make them greener than the Hulk!

4)  Spend time with your family.  Remember those people who love you?  Yeah, them.  You’ve probably been ignoring them for the last few weeks while you’ve been obsessing.  Time to remind them you’re still alive.  Go ahead!  Give grandma a call.  I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.

5)  Expand your geek knowledge. Recently we mentioned that knowledge is a key element of being a geek, so take this down time to expand your horizons.  I know I am.  Check out that run of X-Men you’ve always meant to read; or maybe finally get around to playing that X-box game your friends have been raving about for the last 5 years (I’m kind of ashamed of the stack of games I’ve got that I have yet to play).

There are approximately 300 days left until the Season 4 Game of Thrones premier.  Go forth, and use them wisely!!   (Or just read all the posts on the Song of Ice and Fire Forum.)


Filed under Andrew Hales, Geek Life