Play-Mobile: Two for one

Recently we at TBOD towers have been playing an insane amount of GTA V. Alas there are times when we simply cannot be attached to our consoles and thus cannot become lost in the world of Los Santos, during these moments it is absolutely vital that we keep our thumbs exercised and I’ve been doing so with a couple of real quality titles on my mobile.

I don’t usually like tower defense games but Ironhide studiosKingdomRush” was one of the best in the genre in terms of flash efforts, the mobile port was excellent and the new to android sequel “Frontiers” is an absolute delight.

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It’s pretty much your traditional build, kill, earn, build, upgrade format but with a slight twist in that you can deploy soldiers from your barracks to block the path of your unyielding attackers. The theme of the game is taken pretty much straight out of fantasy epics like Lord of the Rings or World of Warcraft, fully equipped with Dwarven explosives experts, Elven archers, stout Paladins and crafty Wizards fighting for the side of good against waves of Goblins, Orcs, Lizardmen, Undead, Giants and overgrown insect pests.

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What makes the “Rush” franchise so engaging is it’s upgrade system, not only do you have the opportunity to upgrade your towers as you go but each round see’s you acquire stars which you can use to bolster your troops abilities permanently. There are also hero characters available, these heroes can level up and improve their abilities through a basic talent tree upgrade system, one gripe I have is that despite having paid for the game there are still micro transaction to unlock further hero characters. It’s a massive pain but I can understand the dev’s desire to do so and can’t think of another example where IAP is handled so un-obtrusively.

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This sequel improves drastically on the original in many ways that wont be immediately obvious, this isn’t a bad thing as the format of the first title was pretty much perfect but as you go through the levels you unlock extra tower upgrades, all of which are intelligently designed and oh so satisfying to use.

The second title I have spent some time with this week on my Android is a reworking of an all time favourite of mine, manage your planes, trains and automobiles in the triumphant return of “Transport Tycoon“.

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I have spent way more time than I would care to admit with “Open TTD” and have loved every minute of it, when I was younger I was really into “Railroad tycoon” and “Sim City“, OTTD provided me with even more ways to interact with my city and meticulously plan train routes and station placement. I know it may sound boring to some of you but hey …. I don’t grief any of you for loving “My Little Pony” do I? Each to their own when it comes to entertainment eh?

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So you can pick up an OTTD port on Android, but that’s all it is … a port. As impressive and achievement as that is it’s still somewhat buggy and the touch screen controls are pretty much non-existent. As such a genuine touch screen version is a welcome addition to the Play and iOS library. Add to this the cooperation of the original games developer Chris Sawyer and surely we must be onto a winner? In short yes, the game feels every bit as immersive as it’s PC counterpart which is an impressive feat. The interface has been simplified somewhat but just enough so that it is manageable on a four-inch screen you never feel like your missing out on anything. The game-play is almost identical to what you would expect from a tycoon game and despite the edited touch screen controls being a little tricky to get to grips with you will soon be joining towns with all the efficiency of the Japanese rail system.

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I may be somewhat biased due to my love of this classic game but I cannot fault this port, it has a bunch of great challenges to complete and even the ability to play a sandbox mode. If you love city sims, strategy games or if you just have a penchant for playing with trains then this title is a must have.

To sum up, it’s really nice to see some titles coming to mobile that clearly have a lot of heart and soul poured into them and it’s refreshing that they aren’t hampered by ridiculously over the top price tags (*ahem* Square-enix)  or riddled with in game adds (everything ftp on the Play store) hopefully this will usher in a new era of games that are priced well and play amazingly.

While we are on the subject of Mobile games with pure class…. please, please, please go check out Nicoll Hunt of I fight Bears debut title “Fist of Awesome” , I had a brief love affair with it at eurogamer and am off to go play it to death right now as it’s just come out for both Android and iOS. Review to follow.

You’re welcome.

– eremenko

The Doctor is in

Theme Hospital front cover

Theme Hospital 

(Using the CorsixTH clone)

It feels like an eternity since Bullfrog were plying their trade creating early entries to the time management/tycoon style game which litter the flash game market today. For me they were the top dog when it game to this genre so much so that I recently decided to re-live the experience of one of their most popular titles Theme Hospital. I found that this has been made possible by some clever so and so who has released an open source version CorsixTH, you can download it here for free you will still need a copy of the original game but this clone will run on your much more modern machines without the need to emulate MSDos.

So how does it stand up against its modern day equivalents ….. well considering it doesn’t really have any rivals <EDIT: I just found out that a title named Hospital Tycoon was released in ’07 but apparently it was cack>  it holds up really well. Challenging, fun and funny Theme Hospital is still a clever little game with a lot to offer. Starting out small with just a few diagnosis types and a few cures, you need to keep your little slice of the NHS running smoothly while ensuring you don’t overspend on staff, building maintenance and expansion. Throughout the game you will need to research new ways to cure (or kill) your patients and train up your doctors to become more efficient life savers this is made all the more challenging by the tiredness level of your staff and their temperamental nature.

I remember this game being hilarious back in ’97 when it was first released but looking at it now it seems as if that was more a product of my adolescent mind than anything else, the voice ringing out over the loudspeaker and the descriptions of the diseases are a lot less amusing than I remember although it did pull a smirk from me when one of the celebrity visitors to my simple hospital was a ‘Billy Saville MBE’ luckily for me though I didn’t have a childrens ward. Some of the ailments that your patients exhibit are still fairly amusing, the bloaty head disease and it’s pop and re-inflate cure will always make me chuckle. As the game goes on you will find more and more of these illnesses which will require further diagnosis and more elaborate treatment methods, Slack tounge is another with a ridiculous appearance and an insanely painful looking treatment.

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Bloaty head …. it could happen to any of us

 Graphically it doesn’t look to bad even today, especially with CorsixTH’s hi res upgrade working it’s magic, it’s nothing special but it puts most of these micro management phone/tablet games to shame. That brings me to my next point, there is an Android version of this open source clone available (avoid the paid for one of the market place as you can get it free on the corsixTH website mentioned above) it needs work because a lot of the control elements have not been optimized for touch screens, which is fair enough given that it’s a free project made by some generous fella in his spare time.

The fact that a game like this can be ported to a mobile device kind of makes me wonder why we aren’t seeing more titles like this revived for the mobile gaming market, the architecture is all there and if we can run something as complex as the Dreamcast title Jet Set Radio on even the most low grade of Android device surely games like Theme Hospital, Dungeon Keeper, Populous, Settlers, Cannon fodder and many other classic PC titles could surely be manageable? Games like this would work perfectly on a touch device with a few tweaks so why not make it happen? It seems that the touch device gaming market is forever doomed to be plagued by these god awful micro transaction games …. I don’t know who is spending the money on this stuff but please stop because our handhelds are capable of so much more if only the developers were forced to try rather than release re-skinned city management and farmville type games.

themehospital2A doctors resume is a lot less complicated than you would think

Perhaps I am wearing the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia here but I am still really enjoying playing this game again, yes it’s pretty basic and once you have seen each facility  used once there is nothing really new to get from the game other than the satisfaction of running the hospital efficiently but I think those new to the title should still get something of a kick out of it.

eremenko

Do you remember Theme Hospital? Do you know of any other openSource games I can try (I already have OpenTTD), do micro transactions piss you off as much as they do me? or do you love em? Answers on a postcard…..