A funny thing happened on my way to parenthood…I lost my video game time! Yes, I’m no exception to the inevitable sacrifice of every gamer parent, but that doesn’t mean there’s no time for games, it just means I had to find the games that fit into the schedule.
2012: The year the console was left behind
My friend and I recently held our annual video game tournament and well, I lost. I lost big after dominating him in last year’s tournaments. This year I was mentally and physically zapped as well as just being out of practice. Between a new kid and a new job, there’s just been no time to do much gaming or even game browsing. I was always quick to check for the latest indie titles and even grab the latest Humble Bundle but not of late. As is such, the most gaming I get now happens on my phone or tablet. This isn’t bad…frankly, that’s where most people are probably gaming these days…and thankfully there are some great games that have kept me entertained between late night feedings and midday naps.
These games aren’t “the best” of the past year…some were even released well before 2012 but these were the games that kept me busy this past year 15 minutes at a time. A couple I’ve reviewed here on TMA before but there are a few new ones since. And in no particular order…
Knights of Pen & Paper
Knights of Pen & Paper is the latest game to find its way to my phone. I saw someone tweet about and then read a few reviews and it looked right up my alley. One dollar later I was reliving some fond Dungeons & Dragons memories recreated in tiny pixels. Knights isn’t a D&D licensed game but it’s a nice spin on the RPG formula. Rather than you controlling a character in the game you are in control of friends that are playing a tabletop RPG. There’s a DM calling the shots and everything. The characters you do control are dressed in plain clothes with only a hat to denote to their abilities. You can of course select classes and level up powers but otherwise it is a very passive RPG that doesn’t require too much micromanagement nor do you really have to pay attention. Of course, the script in the game has its comedic moments, especially if you’ve played a “real” RPG before.
One of the neater/cuter things in the game is that you can upgrade the items in the room where you’re actually playing the game. You can upgrade your table, the carpet, the door and even swap out DMs if you have enough gold pieces earned. Each upgrade adds something to your group in addition to whatever you get when you’re adventuring. Knights of Pen & Paper is a great time killer that you can easily play in 10-minute chunks without getting in so deep that you can’t stop. This game will certainly take me well into 2013 as I continue to journey around the map fighting slimes, bats, giant sand monsters and even the game developers themselves (they’re tough).
Monsters Ate My Condo
I bought Monsters Ate My Condo based on the sole fact that it is an Adult Swim game and I trust that brand and have enjoyed their games in the past. Monsters is a simple puzzle game where you need to keep flicking colored apartment levels into corresponding colored monsters – think Godzilla monsters. This is a high score game through and through…just keep playing until you die. Of course, there are ways to get multipliers, bonuses and each monster has their own special ability that you can trigger with the proper condo. But where Monsters Ate My Condo really shines is in presentation. The colors, music and sounds are way over the top and ridiculous as you might expect from an Adult Swim game. If there’s one thing I can appreciate it’s chaotic obnoxiousness in a video game. It’s like a shmup without all the shooting.
This is another game I got word of through Twitter and it was on sale for Christmas so I gave it a shot. Turns out that Kingdom Rush is a really great – and really difficult – tower defense game. Now, tower defense games are a dime a dozen and there are many, many crappy ones out there, so what makes Kingdom Rush different? For me it’s all about presentation. Kingdom Rush has wonderful cartoon-style graphics and a seemingly endless cast of characters.
As is par for the course, you place your defenses along the path in attempts at stopping the bad guys from getting to the exit. In Kingdom Rush you have your basic ranged towers but you also get barracks that create foot soldiers that actually get out and fight with baddies as they approach. You can also call on some light militia to help out in the pinch, which end up being more of a crutch than anything. Along with that you can place wizard towers and black powder towers. You also control a lone hero character that you can move anywhere you want to help fight the hordes. The heroes are beefier and have special powers that make them useful but they’re not the end-all weapon you might expect or hope for.
Another way Kingdom Rush kept my attention is the severe challenge it lays down. The waves of baddies get quite powerful pretty early in the game you can have to really try hard to get the right build order and placement of your towers. The gold and star payouts for each level are also pretty meager so you can’t upgrade as fast as you probably should. Kingdom Rush provides a long, hard row to walk down but you’ll feel really good when you pass, something many games don’t offer.
Last thing of note is that I would seriously recommend only getting this game for the iPad. I tried playing it on my iPhone and it’s just way too tiny. The little guys are small enough on the iPad let alone trying to squeeze it all down.
One Epic Knight
One Epic Knight is a runner game in the same family as Temple Run and others that make you duck, dodge and jump over obstacles. I found the theme, controls and reward in OEK to be a lot higher than some of the other runners I’ve played. I went pretty far in this game before I got distracted by some other game. Well worth the investment.
Angry Birds: Star Wars
What’s left to be said about Angry Birds? Not much. And this Star Wars version isn’t anything too new, but as a Star Wars I had to give it a shot. Outside of visuals and cheeky nods to the movies, this is still just Angry Birds. If there’s one thing of note with this version it’s that it combines aspects of regular Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space into one game…so maybe this is the best Angry Birds ever?