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Android Games Review

Game Review – Tiny Death Star and Heroes of Dragon Age

I don’t talk about or review Android games very often here, mostly because I’m usually the last guy to try one.  But I want to speak about two games today, and the sharp contrast is enjoyment that has nothing to do with the games themselves.  Both Tiny Death Star and Heroes of Dragon Age are based on franchises I enjoy.  Both games are technically ‘free to play’ as well but oh, that’s the rub, isn’t it?

wpid-Screenshot_2013-12-12-18-36-25.pngTiny Death Star is game by Nimblebit via Lucasarts, a Star Wars spin on the company’s Tiny Tower.  The 8-bit pixel graphics are cute, with animations to match.  You need coins (earned from the levels you build as the game progresses) to buy new levels, and each one costs more than the next.  However, as more levels means more cash, there’s a progression.  The ‘bux’ (the currency you can buy with real money) can be earned by playing the game as well as by spending real cash.  It never seems like it’s hopeless if you want to get the updated elevators or whatever else you can buy with bux without spending real money, but if you want to, go for it.

That’s a stark contrast to EA’s Heroes of Dragon Age.  What amounts to a collectible card game with 3d graphics, I had a lot of fun building my squad of heroes and creatures.  The missions weren’t much more than a wall of text and a battle screen, but I enjoyed it.  Until I got to the first mission on the Carta map.  It’s got me ground to a halt.  I’ve been going back through the missions again, grinding away at the missions to get the crystals you can use to buy new randomized characters, but it still hasn’t helped.  There’s no progression, it just stops.  I am fairly certain that what I need is one more high-end character, but it might take weeks of useless grinding until I luck out and get something the one thing I need.  It stops being fun, and that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

Heroes of Dragon Age interested me as I hoped it would tie in to the forthcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition in some way.  It comes off feeling like a blatant cash grab for impatient DA fans.  Tiny Death Star is fun just on it’s own, but that can be enhanced optionally with cash.  Guess which one I’m still playing?

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Featured PC Games

Old Game Tuesday – X-Wing

First, a confession:  I never played X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter.  This might wound my geek cred, but I just never got to it, and I had moved on to game styles than the flight sims of my youth.  I also was a bit nervous about a ‘multiplayer only’ game being fun since I didn’t know THAT many people that played computer games.

But this is not about XvT, but X-Wing.  Being a giant Star Wars fan, with Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy books fresh in my mind, X-Wing hit me at exactly the right time.  The fact that it was a fantastic (if extremely difficult, at least for me) game was icing on the cake.  I probably would’ve loved it no matter what.  X-Wing took you through a linear series of missions as a young pilot recruit for the Rebel Alliance.  It starts before the events of the original Star Wars trilogy, covering things like getting the Death Star plans to Princess Leia, and ends with you playing Luke Skywalker’s role in taking out the Death Star.

This game was hard.  I refuse to believe I was THAT bad at flight sims, as I tore through the Wing Commander series, Falcon, F-15 Strike Eagle and the like without struggling.  It speaks to how cool X-Wing was that I kept trying these missions over and over and over again until I finally got the satisfaction of beating them.  Tour of Duty 1 (there are 3) Mission 8 (12-14 in each ToD) in particular gave me nightmares.  I actually bought the strategy guide, something I never do.  Of course, the strat guide gave bad info on this mission but it helped on some others (Mission 10 was a bitch also).  I call X-Wing a two controller game – I broke 2 cheap flight sticks before I got a better quality one that could take getting slammed down in frustration. :)  There were some quirks in the game which you could use to your advantage, including a spin/roll move that could keep you from getting shot, but I felt that with the difficulty of the game, I’d use whatever advantage I could

The two expansion packs were excellent, and  included the mission walkthroughs if you needed them built in, no strat guide needed.  Certain version of the original game came with a novella that paralleled the missions, so you could get some back story as you advanced.  They really got a solid Star Wars feel in the game, and really, what kid didn’t want to pilot an X-Wing after seeing the movies?  If you can find a copy of the game, it’s well worth a play through, if only to remember the bygone era where the flight-sim was king.  The DOS version will be best played in DOSBox, though the game was updated a few times with various collections to better engines, including a Win95 compatible version.