Friday, February 20, 2015

Shall We Do It? (BATTRIX, Drop Wizard, rainblocks, Tumbledrop and Zoo Keeper DX)

You may remember how, in this recently published post, I said of the iOS puzzler, rainblocks: I'm not sure it's something I'll return to all that often.

Fast forward to today, just over a week later, and although I can't prove it, I'm pretty sure rainblocks--which was made by Eric Koziol--is now my most-played iOS game.

So, what's changed in the meantime? I don't really know, to be honest--well, other than I think my brain went on a walkabout during my initial experience with it, which prompted me to assume it was some sort of endless (or nearly so) puzzle game, like the Tokoton mode of the Zoo Keeper series.

In reality, it's a decidedly timed affair, with the result being that rainblocks feels like a mad-dash, try-to-beat-your-high-score kind of title--which is right up my alley, especially if it's stuck inside a portable device.

rainblocks
One aspect of this iOS game that I've always liked is its art style. It's very simple, but also very clean, colorful, consistent and even "classy," if that makes sense. In fact, I dare say it reminds me of something Nintendo or one of its second-party developers would have made during the GameBoy Advance era to fill the gaps between its heavy hitters.

As for the other games mentioned in this post's header, if I were to line them up based on how much time I've spent with them in the last week or so, I'd probably go with: BATTRIXZoo Keeper DX, Drop Wizard and then Tumbledrop.

I don't suppose you're up for taking in some of my thoughts on all of these lovely iOS games (and they truly are lovely, each and every one of them)? If so, please keep reading.

BATTRIX--This bite-sized RPG was made by the wizards at Opus Studio, who also brought the world the Half-Minute Hero games and Jikandia: The Timeless Land, which of course means it features some stunning spritework.

There's more to it than that, though--which probably won't shock anyone who's experienced any of the afore-mentioned PSP titles. This is most evident in BATTRIX's gameplay "hook," which tasks players with exposing its map one tile at a time. (You begin the game standing on a single, solitary tile, and nearly every step you take away from it reveals previously hidden areas and battle-able enemies.)

The idea is a perfect fit for the medium, and a lot of fun to boot. Also a perfect fit for the medium: the controls used in BATTRIX's battle scenes, which of course are intuitively touched-based and which also feature fast, frequent and intriguing weapon changes.

Drop Wizard

Drop Wizard--This was my first iOS game, and it's sure to remain one of my favorites for some time to come. The graphics here are absolutely adorable--and right up there with the best of the single-screen platformer genre, if you ask me.

The gameplay's great, too, in that it wisely considers and keeps in mind the iOS platform's weaknesses (generally unresponsive digital controls being the main one, of course) without letting them hamper the action at hand.

As for what all that nonsensical blather means for the end-user (me and you): instead of focusing on fast-paced leaps and twitchy, last-millisecond responses à la most other single-screen platformers, Drop Wizard focuses on strategy. Which is a good, as all you're able to do in this game, control-wise, is move your adorably behatted protagonist left and right. (Yes, that means there's no jump or other action button.)

I'm sure that sounds more than a bit nuts, but in reality it's brilliantly refreshing.

Zoo Keeper DX
Tumbledrop--Despite this game's title, it's nothing like the wonderful Bubble Bobble clone--or, rather, Snow Bros. clone--called Tumble Pop. That's disappointing at first, or at least it was for me, but it's doubtful you'll feel that way for long, as Tumbledrop's gameplay wastes little time in differentiating itself from any other title you're likely to compare it to.

So, what's Tumbledrop's gameplay like? I guess you could say it's a physics-based puzzler. Actually, it's kind of like Jenga, that block-balancing tabletop game that everybody's become obsessed with at one point or another. Only Tumbledrop is a lot more visually interesting, what with its on-point use of pastels as well as its bricks and blocks and stars that grin like non-creepy Kewpie dolls.

Anyway, it's a lot of fun, and it's no pushover (pun not entirely intended), which always is a good thing, in my opinion. In fact, I've only made it through a few screens so far thanks to its general toughness. Still, I hope I can make it a bit further before I stick a fork in it and move on to some other technicolor iOS title.

Zoo Keeper DX--If you've played some version of Zoo Keeper over the years, you've pretty much played them all. In the case of almost any other series, I'd say that's a bad thing, but these bright, animal-themed puzzlers are such a blast to play that I can't bring myself to do it.

One somewhat negative thing I will say about the iOS iteration of Zoo Keeper is that it's a bit lacking when it comes to modes and options--there are just three of the latter, as far as I can tell, and one of them is an online battle mode I'm unlikely to use.

Other than that fairly minor quibble (especially given Zoo Keeper DX's cheap asking price), though, this one's a ... well, it's a keeper, as that old--and appropriate--clich√© goes.

See also: previous 'Shall We Do It?' posts

Thursday, February 19, 2015

'Dead Wario' mug + 'Dead Mario' badges by the illustrious OSKUNK!

Those of you who've been coming here for a bit should be well aware of my love for the artist who calls himself OSKUNK!

(Don't worry, the exclamation point at the end there is his doing, not mine. Not that I hate exclamation points, mind you.)



After all, I've published just a few posts about his creations over the years--a good number of which have focused (and deservedly so) on his custom-painted Dreamcast consoles and controllers.

Today's post, though, focuses on some of his Nintendo-centric concoctions, with the first being the completely awesome "Dead Wario" mug showcased in the photo above.

Seriously, if I had one of these mugs, I'd never drink out of anything else. Even when I switched from coffee or tea to water or soda or booze.



The "Dead Mario" badges shown in the following photo are pretty great, too, but it's kind of hard for them to compete against the "Dead Wario" mugs, isn't it?

If you'd like even more OSKUNK! goodness, by the way, be sure to check out the custom-painted Super Smash Bros. GameCube controller that can be spied here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Feast your eyes on a few more photos of my sparkly purple PSP

So, I let it be known in a few places--here, on Instagram and on Twitter, mostly--over the last couple of days that I recently acquired the sparkly, purple PSP (PSP-3000, to be exact) showcased in the photos throughout this post.

You'll notice I've never said that I recently "bought" the PSP in question. That's because I didn't buy it. Instead, someone bought it for me.

That someone is Jess, the proprietor of the Kiblitzing blog.



Jess' primary reason for buying me this purple PSP, as far as I can tell, is that he loves his own PSP-3000 so much that he wanted me to experience its wondrousness, too. (My other PSP is of the 1000 variety.)

A second reason, though, is that he's sick of me focusing so much on the 3DS, DS and GameBoy.

The funny thing is, I was just about to start publishing more blog posts about other systems--like mobile (if that can be called a "system") and the Vita--anyway, but I can't say the PSP was among them. So, the fact that this surprise (and surprisingly nice) purchase prompted me to dig through my collection of PSP games again should make Jess feel pretty good.

As for what I think of this third iteration of Sony's PSP hardware, well, the first thing that stood out for me was how much lighter it is than the original system.


Other aspects of the PSP-3000's design are only subtly different from those found on the old PSP-1000. For instance, the edges of the more recent system are slightly rounded, which makes holding it a less abrasive experience. Also, it appears as though the hardware is a smidge smaller than its predecessor from pretty much every angle (length, height and depth, basically), though it's possible my eyes are deceiving me here.

Upon turning on the system, even more changes are evident. A case in point: the 3000's screen is brighter, crisper and more colorful than the one used in the 1000.

I'd previously avoided this "redesign" because of complaints about its "annoying scanlines." Now, maybe my eyesight is worse than I thought it was (this wouldn't surprise me in the least), but I'm not sure I can even discern scanlines on the screen of my 3000.



Finally, I believe both the analog nub and the directional pad on the 3000 are supposed to be better, and easier to use, than the ones found on earlier PSPs, but I can't say I've noticed much, if any, of a difference here, either. That said, I've yet to use this beauty to play Patchwork Heroes, a lovely little game that could be a bit of a chore no matter how it's controlled, so maybe that will give me a better idea as to whether or not the 3000 has improved on this aspect, too.

In the meantime, I'm going to go through a bunch of my long-ignored UMDs and see if this grape-hued console can breathe new life into them. (I have absolutely no doubt it'll be able to accomplish that feat, by the way.)

See also: 'In case you haven't heard elsewhere, I'm now on Instagram!'

Monday, February 16, 2015

In case you haven't heard elsewhere: I'm now on Instagram!

The very first thing I did after setting up my newly acquired iPhone a week or so ago was download as many games and apps as the wireless router in our basement could handle.

And given my love of photography, one of the first apps I nabbed was Instagram.

Should you be the sort of person who likes to follow others on social media, and should you specifically be the sort of person who wants to follow someone like me on Instagram, you can do so by punching my handle, rainbow_blight, into whichever smartphone you tend to choose.

You'll be seeing more of this sucker in tomorrow's post.

Or, if you don't have an Instagram-able smartphone, you can view my photostream (or whatever verbiage Instragram uses here) by aiming your browser to instagram.com/rainbow_blight.

I've only uploaded three photos so far, one of which is seen above, but more will be added in the coming days, weeks, months and (hopefully) years, I can assure you.

On a related note, I'm also on all sorts of other social media sites these days, including FacebookFlickr and Twitter, so check them out if any of them are your kind of thing.