27 March 2012

Temple Run is now on Android

When I pulled up my Twitter feed this morning, the first tweet to catch my eye was the news that Temple Run is on Android. I already have the game on my iPhone and it plays pretty well, but I made the mistake of pulling it up on an iPad in Best Buy and that diminished my enjoyment of the smaller version somewhat. Also my daughter C2, who opted for an Android tablet rather than an iOS device like her siblings, keeps grabbing my iPhone to play the game. I'm sure she will be excited to learn that she can finally have the game on her own device.

For those not in the know, Temple Run is part of a genre called "endless run". I've never seen this style of game on desktop PC but it is pretty popular on tablets and phones right now. In an endless run game, you don't control your character's forward motion. He is constantly running and you move him out of the way of obstacles. You are trying to keep him running for as long as possible. In the case of Temple Run, you are being chased by monsters so you try to pick up as many coins as you can along the way to buy power-ups like invisibility or extra speed. I'm not very good at games that require quick reflexes, but every time I crash into a wall on this game I immediately want to try again. It is easy for me to see how this game drew people's attention away from Angry Birds.

I didn't have an iPad handy when I wrote this post, so I compared the Android version to the one on my iPhone. The gameplay was exactly the same in both versions. The only difference I noticed was in the graphics. The colors in the Android version weren't as bright and the edges weren't as crisp. I'm not sure if this is due to the display capabilities of my tablet or the differences in programming for Android versus iOS. However, this is a minor difference and in my opinion it shouldn't keep anyone from enjoying the game. I know it isn't going to stop C2!

21 March 2012

OMGPOP and Draw Something

My daughter C1 introduced me to the gaming site OMGPOP several months ago. C1 and her siblings all signed up and played for a couple weeks but eventually abandoned it. Although there were a few fun games, none of their friends were playing. When I played, it almost seemed as if the other users of the site were NPCs rather than real people so I didn't stick around long, either.  Imagine my surprise when I found that the game C1 has been playing obsessively on her iPod Touch these days is Draw Something, a game from OMGPOP that has been ported to iOS, Android, and Facebook.  It has caught so much attention that Zynga is now interested in buying OMGPOP. This news prompted me to give the site another look.

I spent about an hour poking around the OMGPOP site and found that I still don't like it much. While the graphics are engaging, most of the games are brightly colored takes on game concepts like match-3 and solitaire with no new twists added. None of my online friends play on this site and playing with strangers wasn't much fun. Since the last time I played, OMGPOP has added an option where you can post a link on Twitter or Facebook to get your friends to play. I tried that but didn't get any takers from my feeds, just random OMGPOP players. The only way I see myself revisiting this site is if Zynga buys it. Many of my Facebook friends are Zynga-loyal, so I imagine I could find others to play with me once Zynga puts their PR machine to work.

My experience with Draw Something was more pleasant. The game is basically like Pictionary between two people. You can invite one of your friends or let the game match you with a random opponent. When it is your turn to draw, you get a choice between three words and each word has a coin value. You draw the word with your finger on the touchscreen and send it to your friend. If your friend guesses it, you get the coins for that word. You are given a basic palette of colors but you can spend the coins you earn to buy more colors. I didn't have any trouble finding people to play with and it is fun to see the word picture being drawn rather than being presented with the completed picture all at once.  Although I couldn't get the Facebook version of the game to load, the Android and iOS versions worked fine for me. If you log in with your Facebook info, then your games follow you from device to device. I prefer playing the game on my Android tablet just because it gives me a bigger screen to draw on. This game almost makes me wish I had my old Palm back with its stylus so my drawings would be more accurate.

I would definitely recommend skipping the site and downloading Draw Something to one of your devices instead. It is the best of the OMGPOP bunch.

19 March 2012

About to Say Goodbye to Zombie Island

Zombie Island is a Facebook game by 6wave LOLapps. There isn't a lot of explanation at the beginning of the game, but as far as I can tell you play a zombie who is trying to become human. If you have played games like Farmville and Pioneer Trail, then you are halfway towards knowing how to play this game. Gameplay revolves around planting crops, erecting buildings, and collecting items needed to complete missions.

The biggest twist that Zombie Island has to offer is in its energy mechanic. In most city building games, you have a certain number of energy units and each action you perform burns one unit. Once you burn up your units, you can either buy more, get more from your friends, or wait until the energy meter refills on its own. With Zombie Island you are the leader of the tribe and other zombies do the work like cutting down trees. As long as you have a brain available, then your zombie will work. This is great for me because I often want to play for longer than five minutes at a time.

Despite the cute graphics and fun animations, I am on the verge of dropping Zombie Island from my daily game list. There are a lot of good games on Facebook that become unplayable shortly after you get through the tutorial levels if you don't either put in real-world money or have a lot of Facebook friends who are also playing that game. Zombie Island falls into this category. I only have three active neighbors in Zombie Island and two of them have already reached the level in the game where your zombie becomes human. From what I've read in the FAQ, there isn't much reason to play the game once you get to that point. It has become a frustrating experience to log in every morning and not be able to do much, and there are so many other games to try that I may not continue with this one.