Clash of Clans
The wildly popular iOS strategy game was released for Android earlier this month. It uses the free-to-play model, giving players the option of buying gems (which allow them to buy shields, builder’s huts, etc.) without being obnoxious about it. Clash of Clans is more PVP-oriented than other city-building games I’ve played. There are trophy leagues that promote players for successful attacks of other players’ villages. You also steal other players’ resources when you attack their villages.
While I still “play” Clash of Clans, I’ll probably quit soon. Without using gems, you’re limited to 2 builders and upgrading buildings and defenses can take multiple days, so there isn’t much to do other than attack other people. Attacking involves selecting some or all of your troops and dropping them off somewhere on the map. You can’t control your troops at all, so they often do stupid things like ignoring the cannon that’s firing at them to destroy a worthless building. Granted, different types of troops behave differently, so there is some strategy in the order you send the troops, but the game is much too passive for me.
Plus, I felt like not enough information was given to the player and I found myself looking things up online all the time. How many resources can other players take when they attack me? Are some buildings more important to protect than others? How does donating troops to clan members work? My generosity got me kicked out of a clan for donating troops because they were apparently too low leveled. I had no idea.
Knights of Pen & Paper
Knights of Pen & Paper is a turn-based pixel art RPG that was modeled on Dungeons & Dragons. Sadly, I haven’t played D&D, so I can’t really compare the two. The player controls the dungeon master and up to 5 players at the table. You can customize the players by choosing from multiple classes (cleric, rogue, knight, necromancer, etc.) and personality types (nerd, little brother, hipster, grandma, etc.). You explore the map, completing quests and fighting monsters along the way.
Knights of Pen & Paper is a great little game. I love its sense of humor and references to other games and pop culture. The simple mechanics might get boring after a while, but you can switch things up by adding new classes that you unlock along the way. Gold is the currency in Knights of Pen & Paper and although you can buy gold for real money, the game never prompts you to and I haven’t ever felt a need to buy gold. There is plenty of content, too; I’ve spent hours playing this game and there’s still more to do.
Osmos is a beautiful, minimalist physics-based game. You control a mote and try to collide it into other, smaller motes to absorb them and become larger. If you collide with a larger mote, you get absorbed and lose. You lose mass as you move, though, so you want to be conservative in your movement. Features like antimatter and gravity/orbits keep things interesting.
I got Osmos after it was named #7 in Reddit’s Top 25 Android Games list. It’s well-designed, addictive, and manages to be both relaxing and challenging. After noticing that it supported multiplayer, I had my husband pick it up, too. Multiplayer is a lot of fun! The gameplay is the same, except the one of the motes is controlled by the other player, who is trying to absorb your mote.
Plants vs. Zombies 2
After first releasing on iOS, Plants vs. Zombies 2 released on Android last week. Plants vs. Zombies 2 stays true to the original gameplay, while adding things like new plants and zombies and a new, less linear map. There are three themed worlds: mummies, pirates, and cowboys, each with its own levels and themed zombies. There are new mechanics, too, like plant food that briefly makes a plant more powerful and power-ups that use touch gestures to help you get rid of zombies.
Unlike the original Plants vs. Zombies, the sequel uses the free-to-play model. In the store, you can buy coins (up to $99.99 worth in a single purchase), plants, upgrades (increased slots, extra sun, etc.), and the keys you need to unlock certain plants, bonuses, and levels. I love Plants vs. Zombies, but I feel like PopCap is too aggressively pushing in-app purchases in this sequel. The keys that you need for progression are a rare drop, so it seems like you’ll have to do a lot of grinding if you aren’t willing to fork over the cash. You also need to pay to unlock several plants; there is no other way of getting them. The in-game currency (coins) is only good for purchasing power-ups (which are expensive).
Plants vs. Zombies 2 has a lot of nice improvements over the original game, which give the game more variety. I like the addition of the star challenges, which award stars for completing objectives in previous levels. I also like the plant food mechanic, but I’m not a fan of the power-ups, which feel cheaty and awkward to me. My biggest complaint about the game is the annoying in-app purchase system. Fortunately, most of the store purchases should be unnecessary with good strategy and tactics. I’m worried about having to grind for keys, though. At least the star challenges will provide variety when replaying old levels.
Rayman Jungle Run
Rayman Jungle Run is a 2D sidescroller platform game. Unlike other similar games, it’s not a “run forever until you die” type of game. There is a goal at the end of each level that you need to reach before it sends you to the next level. While running, jumping, flying, and punching your way to the goal, you collect firefly-like “lums” to boost your score.
I just got Rayman Jungle Run today, so I haven’t played it enough to give it a thorough review. The graphics and music are great and the touch controls work well so far. There are 7 different sections, which each have 10 different levels, and each section focuses on a different ability. You unlock achievements and art as you play and the compulsion to get a perfect score on each level could keep people playing for a while, even after completing every level.