Archive for ‘Facebook Games’

May 10, 2011

Little Cave Hero – Initial Impressive Impressions

InsideSocialGames recently posted a look at the Facebook game; Little Cave Hero. I was fascinated (it has PIXEL ART) and immediately checked it out. From first impressions, I’m very impressed! The humour in the tooltips and dialogue is really refreshing and I couldn’t help but smile at a lot of the quotes from the Major and Prince Jean (some pompous French dude you have to visit early on). It’s amazing how much humour and style can improve a simple town builder. Of course, LCH is more than that, but so far I’ve mainly been building a town (like every social game ever) and enjoying it for the first time!

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The Major's tongue is stapled to his cheek.

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The short intro informs you that your old town was destroyed by monsters and it’s up to you to rebuild it. After this, you are introduced to the Major (a thoroughly entertaining character) who explains a few things about building and the other part of LCH’s gameplay; Mining.

Like with Knight’s Story but with more of a Minecraft vibe (it’s definitely an influence, from the art to the gameplay), you can use energy to find treasures to improve your town and complete quests. There are also small puzzles, I’ve only entered the first non-tutorial mine and there was a simple puzzle for me to solve. It was really nice having such gameplay and I think it’s very effective. Puzzle games are very popular on Facebook, so I’m surprised so few games have added puzzle elements.

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The mining/adventuring gameplay. Avoiding traps and solving puzzles!

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You also get a score for your energy efficiency in the mines. Discovered that just this second (typing and playing at the same time). This game is constantly impressing me!

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Woo A+

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There is also a feature called the Design Studio, which appears to be some sort of pixel art item creator/customizer. It’s interesting that there haven’t been any real user generated content games on Facebook, since user generated content is like the big thing right now (Minecraft and Little Big Planet for example). It’s a type of gameplay that encourages sociability without the spam of the traditional channels. There is a reason you invite your friends, because you want to share with them… not because you need a Wooden Board for your house in Zombie Lane.

I’m not sure how comprehensive the design studio feature is yet (I’ll check it out another time), or if it’s part of a shareable UGC initiative, but it’s definitely something new in the Facebook gaming sphere.

I urge you to check out Little Cave Hero, even if you just want a little laugh reading the dialogue and tooltips, I think it’s going to be one to watch.

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Sam

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April 23, 2011

FGR – 23rd April 2011 – Knight’s Story (painfully charming), Auto Hustle (painfully juvenile) and NBA Dynasty

Welcome to the Facebook Game Review! In this daily series (except perhaps on the weekends), I will be looking at, sharing my thoughts and giving verdicts on the hottest and coldest entrants to the Social Gaming ring. Each post will feature a new game, an update on existing ones, and a final score.

Introducing… Knight’s Story

Heroes of Might and Magic is one of those games that I’ve always wanted to enjoy more than I do (and I do enjoy it!). One of my favourite games as a child was Lords of Magic back in 1997. That game was massive, something I’d never really experienced before. Until then, I was playing side-scrolling shooters, Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands and Zool. Lords of Magic was a turn based strategy game that has everything I loved. Heroes that level up, building armies, exploring worlds (and dungeons) and defeating everyone else! I still love all that gameplay! When I discovered that Lords of Magic was a bit of a flop (it was buggy as hell), I was disappointed. I loved the idea of playing on of these games online, but they took so long! It seemed like a type of video game that was destined to never evolve or become popular. Without going off on too much of a nostalgic tangent, Heroes of Might and Magic is very similar to Lords of Magic, and Knight’s Story reminds me a lot of what HoM&M would be like if it it was on Facebook. At least from the first 10 mins of play!

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Knight's Story - It's very charming

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In Knight’s Story, you play a cartoony knight in a cartoony world. There are aspects to the game; Exploration, Castle-Building and Combat. With Exploration, you are given a map, covered in fog of war. You have to navigate the grid, spending energy to discover various objects that you can search for loot. While exploring, you also meet quest givers and can perform simple quests. These quests give you items with which to build your Castle. So far I’ve only built 2 buildings (the Key Maker and the Town Hall), which are built with energy initially, then you must find resources to complete them (through the Exploration and quests). Combat was introduced briefly just now, a simple turn based affair (click attack to attack… there aren’t even any abilities yet).

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April 22, 2011

FGR – 21st April 2011 – Auto Hustle, NBA Dynasty and Zombie Lane

Welcome to the Facebook Game Review! In this daily series (except perhaps on the weekends), I will be looking at, sharing my thoughts and giving verdicts on the hottest and coldest entrants to the Social Gaming ring. Each post will feature a new game, an update on existing ones, and a final score.

Introducing… Auto Hustle

Auto Hustle is the natural evolution from typical Mafia Wars style games (time and text based RPGs). You have an energy pool, you use it to take part in missions and then you get the rewards.  What sets Auto Hustle apart is that it has a WASD controlled avatar in a top-down city, complete with driving and shooting. So, instead of clicking ‘Do mission’ to do the mission, you actually control a guy and run around the city killing people and stealing cars. It is almost identical to the old school Grand Theft Auto games. This is good though, for Facebook gaming. If you’re going to steal from someone, steal from the best.

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Some dude I just killed...

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Auto Hustle is surprisingly violent. Not for general gaming, but for a Facebook game I was quite shocked. All the missions basically tell you to kill a bunch of dudes and the player controlled environment is the first I’ve experienced where the player actively kills people. Mafia Wars probably told you to do a bunch of killing, but there’s a huge difference between clicking ‘Kill’ and aiming with your mouse and pulling a trigger. I’m surprised that I’m shocked! I suppose this says a lot about the poor state of mature gaming on Facebook.

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April 20, 2011

FGR – 20th April 2011 – NBA Dynasty and Zombie Lane

Welcome to the Facebook Game Review! In this daily series (except perhaps on the weekends), I will be looking at, sharing my thoughts and giving verdicts on the hottest and coldest entrants to the Social Gaming ring. Each post will feature a new game, an update on existing ones, and a final score.

Sorry for no FGR yesterday! I was doing some real life FarmVille, shovelling, pushing wheel barrows and filling in a trench as a Landscaper for the day. It’s bloody hard work! It’s the next morning and I’m in agony. Also a little game called Portal 2 came out, so I played that in all the spare time I had!

Introducing… NBA Dynasty

Sports management games give me a weird feeling. I always like the idea of playing one, and I have played Football Manager on a number of occassions. However, I always give up and get bored after the transfer window closes! Perhaps I’m just not a very good manager, but I always seem to do badly. I like the idea of bringing a lower league team into the Premier League, but it’s boring down there! I had one good career as a virtual Football Manager. It was in Championship Manager 2: European Leagues, where I took Serie B team Salernitana and won everything with them! Since then I’ve failed with everyone.

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Pre-Coaching Simulation

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NBA Dynasty is a basketball coach simulation and it’s actually looking quite good. The problem with simulation games on Facebook is that they like to restrict the amount of games you can play, while management sims are generally based on huge addicted streaks. It’s a bit like Civilization. When you get into the game, you play it for 8 hours a day. This is tough on Facebook with energy. This is why I’ve avoided games such as FIFA Superstars.

Another reason is that they tend to use trading card mechanics. You can’t search players and then put in a bid for them. You have to buy a pack of players (and at the start you can only afford bad players) and pray that you get someone you either recognize or that has decent stats. You can’t uncover hidden gems, you can’t scout. Buying players is the most fun part of management sims and these games tend to get rid of it!

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4th Quarter Coaching

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NBA Dynasty changes some things around, by letting you search for players and play as much as you want. This is good. Unfortunately, superstar players cost real money and buying individual players is very expensive… but at least you have the option.

Overall it is quite simple, with a focus on the coaching side of the game rather than any upgrades to facilities or anything. You start with 10 players, you enter a game and you see a playthrough of the first 3 quarters. When it hits the 4th quarter, you start coaching. Coaching is actually quite interesting in this game, there are lots of little things you can tweak that set it apart from FIFA Superstars (for example).

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Highlight of the game

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Your players have stamina, so you must switch them out using Timeouts. There are hot and cold streaks, where a player can be shooting really well or really bad. There is the ‘go-to guy’, a status you can put on one person in your team which uses their energy quicker but makes sure you can take advantage of your strongest player, There are fouls, injuries and even momentum (which was just introduced in the last game I played). NBA Dynasty is by far the most tactical sports simulation I have played, which is brilliant.

So far, my only gripes is that it looks a bit crap. There’s no style at all on fonts, except in the in-game effects. The game came out today, with only 7500 MAU so I forgive it! One thing that is really cool is that at the end of the game there is a highlight. This is a short video of a certain one of your players doing something awesome. Yes it will be against a different team to the one you actually played, and will involve players that aren’t on your team… but damn it’s a cool feature anyway! I can’t wait to get Steve Nash so I can see his mesmerizing moves when I win a game!

Overall, NBA Dynasty is looking very good. There has been a lot of thought put into it and it’s not got the restrictions that other Facebook management sims have. Will be keeping a close eye on this one.

Daily Review

Zombie Lane

Quick Zombie Lane update. After punching a riot cop with my fireball gloves, I’ve been introduced to farming. Why can’t a game just not have farms?! Anyway, farming is in Zombie Lane and it serves another function as you can use it to get food (allowing you to purchase more energy). I also got a mission to upgrade my house, so I’m killing construction zombies to get the blueprints.

I say this all the time, but the way you’re guided through new features with a loose narrative is really nice. The more you play Zombie Lane the more you start to appreciate the things that are different from other Facebook games.

Tetris Battles

Not really much left to say on this one. It’s Tetris. It’s the same every time. This and Wine Guru haven’t really been very interesting to review!

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Sam

April 18, 2011

FGR – 18th April 2011 – Zombie Lane and Tetris Battle

Welcome to the Facebook Game Review! In this daily series (except perhaps on the weekends), I will be looking at, sharing my thoughts and giving verdicts on the hottest and coldest entrants to the Social Gaming ring. Each post will feature a new game, an update on existing ones, and a final score.

Lacking a new game review today, apologies! Extra long for Zombie Lane though…

Daily Review

Zombie Lane

All the weekend, Zombie Lane was the same old same old. I was clearing rubble, looking for the last piece to fix my house (the main story quest). After about 4 days of constant searching, I got the last part 1 hour ago!

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The epic story quest

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One thing that Zombie Lane is doing very well is the narrative. While the general mechanics and drop rates are mediocre at best, one thing that has impressed me has been the sense of purpose. You have a main story quest, unlike CityVille where you have about 3 different quest arcs and can’t figure out which is the most important. As I said before, Zombie Lane does feel a bit like the tutorial of an MMORPG. I really like that.

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April 15, 2011

FGR – April 15th 2011 – Tetris Battles, Zombie Lane and a lack of wine…

Welcome to the Facebook Game Review! In this daily series (except perhaps on the weekends), I will be looking at, sharing my thoughts and giving verdicts on the hottest and coldest entrants to the Social Gaming ring. Each post will feature a new game, an update on existing ones, and a final score.

Introducing… Tetris Battle

I’ve gotta get one thing out there before I start… I hate Tetris. It’s just one of those games that I’ve never, ever enjoyed! I’m not a big puzzle gaming fan in general, but I always found Tetris boring as hell. It’s so repetitive! One thing I did like was the alternate music. In fact, there are only 2 puzzle games I’ve ever enjoyed; Portal (Portal 2 coming out in 4 days!) and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (SPF2T)

Tetris Battle is basically SPF2T but using Tetris instead of the awesome gem bomb puzzle system thingy that Capcom used. I do love the concept though. Puzzle games against other people = a good idea. Puzzle games are designed to challenge your brain, to make you think “I’m a really intelligent dude”. What better than to actually put your brain into the ring and see it battle another one? Then you’re not just kidding yourself, alone in a room playing Bejewelled for the last 6 hours… you intelligent bastard.

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Tetris but cutesy - Who cant this appeal to?

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April 15, 2011

FGR – 14th April 2011 – Wine Guru & Zombie Lane update

Welcome to the Facebook Game Review! In this daily series (except perhaps on the weekends), I will be looking at, sharing my thoughts and giving verdicts on the hottest and coldest entrants to the Social Gaming ring. Each post will feature a new game, an update on existing ones, and a final score.

Introducing… Wine Guru

Back when I was in Shanghai reviewing social games, I used to use GameZebo as my resource for the most up-to-date list of Facebook games. Now I’ve started the Facebook Game Review, it’s back to GZ to see what’s on my plate this week. Wine Guru is what I decided to check out.

Wine Guru is an Argentine Vineyard Simulation, although I’m sure it’s very basic compared to the real thing. You log in, pick one of 2 grapes, click the one square you have cash to click and then select how much you want to water your grapes per season. Once you have done that, you click it by harvesting and wait for an hour. It’s 1:36am so I’m probably not going to wait an hour to update you on it, so you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow for the riveting news!

Wine Guru is not a great game. I think that is a pretty fair assumption even though I’ve played it for about 5 minutes. There is literally 5 minutes worth of gameplay and none of that is particularly entertaining. It’s such a strange game, it really throws a curveball at me. It’s got this whole professional wine-making vibe to it, with detailed information about the region and the grapes. It even tells you more than you want to know about wine barrels! Yet the first thing you see is this…

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Samuel Greens vintage 2011 Argentinian Wine, Using a telephone?

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April 13, 2011

FGR – 13th April 2011 – Zombie Lane

Welcome to the Facebook Game Review! In this daily series (except perhaps on the weekends), I will be looking at, sharing my thoughts and giving verdicts on the hottest and coldest entrants to the Social Gaming ring. Each post will feature a new game, an update on existing ones, and a final score.

Introducing…. Zombie Lane

For anyone who has read the blog since the start will notice that I had a little bit of a social gaming crush on Digital Chocolate. NanoStar Siege was an innovative real gaming experience amongst the farms and simple town builders that plagued (and still plague) Facebook. Back then, DC were little fish in a large Zynga dominated pond. The pond is now an ocean, Zynga are still the Great Whites, but now DC are major players themselves. Millionaire City put them on the map and was arguably one of the major influences on Zynga’s CityVille.

It’s ironic that when I’m playing Zombie Lane I can’t help but think it’s ripping off the title that originally ripped DC off! But we’ll get to that later.

Zombie Lane is an interesting social game in that it seems to be 100% narrative led! This is definitely unique. In my first and second playthroughs, there hasn’t been a town to build or items to purchase… you start outside your busted up house and you have missions to fulfil in order to fix up your house before your spouse gets home! The main gameplay I have experienced so far is very similar to an introduction tutorial in many MMORPG games. You start in a pretty exciting but chaotic scenario, then you are led through as the game teaches you all the mechanics you need to learn. Zombie Lane definitely has an interesting start from a narrative point of view, which is bound to lure people back to play on a daily basis.

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Zombie Lane alludes to a typical town building later on, but for now it's all about rescuing your family!

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April 12, 2011

The Facebook Games Review – New Feature

A while ago I was posting regularly about Facebook games. Eventually I returned from China (where I didn’t have a decent computer) and I’ve had more of a focus on traditional games like Team Fortress 2 and League of Legends. However, I’ve got an upcoming career move into social game design and I’m due to start soon. To get back into the swing of things, I want to start playing and reviewing Facebook games once again.

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Playdom's City of Wonder - My favourite Facebook game back in the day.

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Because Facebook games are persistent, it’s difficult to really review them from a single play-through, but I also don’t want to spend weeks on each game (since there’d be no blog posts)! Therefore I’m going to have multiple parts to this feature in the daily post…

Introducing…

The first section, ‘Introducing…’ will be an initial look at a game. I will discuss the aesthetics, the gameplay mechanics and any initial thoughts. First impressions are pretty important for social games, so every day I will be introducing a new game and letting you all know what I think! This will probably be the longest section.

Daily Review

In the Daily Review, I will update you all on each game I’ve been playing, as I play through. For example, I will introduce CityVille on Monday, then update you on a daily basis about my thoughts on the game Tuesday through Friday. Each day I will be giving short diary-style entries about the games I’ve been playing, letting you all know how the game evolves from my first look.

Final Thoughts

A week after introducing a game, I will share with you my final thoughts. Areas which I think can be improved, features which have been innovative, whether I’ll continue playing the game after its featured week (which would be big praise from a traditional gamer). It is here that I give my final verdict.

I used to review and play a lot of Facebook games in my previous position, so hopefully I’ll take to this like a duck on water! Tomorrow I will begin, so stay tuned!

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Sam

February 1, 2011

Gamebook: Mighty Pirates

Wow, it’s been a long time since there was a Gamebook, but I haven’t been playing too many social games recently, especially new ones. I was looking for something new today, and saw Mighty Pirates was pretty popular. I’ve been playing it for the last 90 minutes or so, and I’m very impressed.

In Mighty Pirates, you own a ship and have to explore various islands, collecting resources and improving your ship in order to discover treasure and OWN NOOBS. Yes, you can own noobs in this game. There is a simple combat system in the game, which is really excitingly presented and actually quite tactical. This is why I’m writing a Gamebook entry on Mighty Pirates, since there is actually a knack to raising enemy pirate ships!

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My fledgling ship; Valkyrie!

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