Full of Stars – A two genre mashup

Full of Stars (iOS version reviewed) combines two unlikely genres, pairing an interactive adventure story with arcade-style action.

As you set out across the galaxy to escape a devastating war, you’ll need to dodge obstacles and collect materials in each vertically-scrolling level. The controls take a bit of getting used to, since everything is based on how you touch or swipe the touchscreen. Once you adjust to them, however, they become intuitive.

Dual Currency

The resources you gather come in two forms of currency. Idium particles are more common and can be used for ship upgrades, repairs, and similar actions, while the rarer idium crystals function as money. You also gain leadership points if you complete certain challenges during your flights, such as flying a certain distance without crashing or destroying multiple rocks at once. Idium particles, idium crystals, and leadership points are all necessary if you want to keep your crew alive.

Choices

You see, whenever you crash during a flight, you’re faced with a random event—usually a problem—and a decision to make. For example, your crew might start rioting. You can either use leadership points to calm them down, spend idium crystals to improve conditions on the ship, or leave the result up to chance, in which case crew members might die.

These situations are interesting at first, although they become repetitive after a while. If you and your crew members all die, you’ll need to start over as a new pilot, which means the story text at each planet can also become repetitive.

However, the game remembers certain things from one playthrough to the next. For example, once you’ve seen evidence of the war, you can evacuate immediately at the start of the game.

Your ultimate goal is to reach the fabled Blue Sector and start up a colony. Once you do so, subsequent pilots can bring new people to your colony, which allows you to upgrade it further. Later ship upgrades, as well as a second story featuring a different character, are locked until your colony reaches a certain level.

That is, unless you want to pay.

Pay Wall?

Full of Stars wants you to make in-app purchases. One purchase can remove the colony upgrade block. Another can unlock the second story. You’re limited to three flights before you must wait for your core to recharge, unless you pay for an unlimited core. And of course, the game’s currencies can be bought, too.

Repetitive, but entertaining

This design can be frustrating, especially due to the repetitiveness. Nevertheless, Full of Stars is an entertaining game with a fair amount of content, even if you want to play it entirely for free.

Guest Post

This post was written by Samantha Lienhard.  Visit her blog to see her writing, and more game reviews.

Samantha Lienhard
Readers and Gamers Unite

Jumpets uses a dance move mechanic

Jumpets (iOS Version reviewed) is a creative indie game built around a core mechanic like dance moves.  Swipe your way to getting pets to jump higher and higher.  Easy for kids to jump right in and enjoy too.

Dance move mechanics

I like the idea of this a lot.  Using a simple swipe mechanic in the game that is easily familiar to almost anyone makes the game really easy to pick up and play.

No session mechanism

One thing that I forgot to mention in the video is that there is no sessioning mechanism in the game.  This may lead to a player binge playing for hours and then never coming back.  And since there are no return triggers you don’t know when a player would return.

The game is mostly targeted for kids though (I think), and so they tend to obsess over a game for a period of time and then totally stop playing.

Fun game, try it

I will say this is a fun little game that I enjoyed.  Give it a try.

Kami 2 is a puzzle game with a simple concept

Kami 2 is a puzzle game with a simple concept. You are presented with a colorful pattern, and your goal is to make the entire screen a single, solid color in a set number of moves. You can select any color used in the pattern and tap a section to change it to that color.

Although it starts out easy, the puzzles become increasingly complex, with many different colors and complicated patterns. It becomes a strategic challenge to determine which sections to change, in what order, to reach your goal before you run out of moves.

This is where Kami 2’s primary in-app purchases come into play. If you’re stuck, the game encourages you to use a hint to see what the first correct move is. However, it only gives you one free hint. If you want more, you’ll need to purchase them. This gives the game an unusual balance where it can be played entirely for free but will tempt players to buy hints as the puzzles become more challenging.

No Undo

The game’s biggest flaw is that there’s no way to undo a single move. If you make a mistake, you have to reset the puzzle from the beginning, which can be quite frustrating for puzzles that take many moves to solve.

Kami 2 has several gameplay modes, although the basic gameplay remains the same across all of them. The main mode, Journey, can be played offline. It includes over 100 puzzles, divided into sets of six. As you complete each set, the next unlocks. Some also give you special rewards, such as additional colors to use when making your own puzzles.

Community Content means never run out of puzzles

The remaining modes require you to take Kami 2 online. In Build Mode, you can create and test your own puzzles using an easy, intuitive interface, and then publish them for other players to try. Special color palettes can also be purchased.

In Explore Mode, you can browse player-created puzzles, save your favorites, follow specific puzzle creators, and search for other players. Challenge Mode presents you with a series of player-created puzzles and tasks you with completing several in a row to build up a streak, while Daily gives you a new player-created puzzle to try each day. These additional modes make sure you won’t run out of challenges even if you complete all of the pre-made puzzles.

 

Beautiful Puzzler

No matter which mode you play, Kami 2’s beautiful paper aesthetic makes the game a relaxing experience, even when it stumps you with a tricky puzzle. The ability to undo moves would be nice, but it’s still a game puzzle fans should look into.

 

Guest Post

This post was written by Samantha Lienhard.  Visit her blog to see her writing, and more game reviews.

Samantha Lienhard
Readers and Gamers Unite

BBTAN after 30 Minutes – What happens? What should happen? So What?

I did a game review of a game BBTAN, by 111%.  As a part of my after hours group I also present games and deconstruct them to discuss what they did right and wrong.

This game has a timer on the screen that counts down from 30 mins.  I got a lot of people in the room asking, What happens after 30 minutes?  Do you win?  Is the game over?

Watch the video below to see what actually happens.

 

[Spoilers Below]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what do you think?  Was it a masterful troll job by the developer?

Or a brilliant technique to make people find what happens?

Post comments on the YouTube Video.

 

Free 2 Play Game Deconstruction Series on YouTube

I started a game deconstruction series on YouTube where I break down Free 2 Play titles.

 

 

So far I have only done a few games.  Idle Heroes, BBTAN, Scale, and Ballz.  But I will add more over time.

The purpose is to look at the game from a game design / mechanic standpoint.  What works, and what doesn’t?  Lots of games are missing some small tweaks that could have a big impact on player engagement.

 

More coming soon

I am moving my blog, resetting my twitter to match, and lots of other social media changes for me.

I have used the @InfiniteCodex and InfiniteCodex.com for the past 7+ years.  The mission of both of them has changed quite a bit over that time.  I decided that now is the time to reboot my social media self for a specific purpose.  This site will be about the indie games that I create, and the presentations I do around Indie Gaming in general.  Could also slip in some game analysis and other things that I find interesting.

Gaming is a hobby for me.  I did used to be a commercial professional game developer.  Back in 1996 I was the lead developer for HeliCOPS, and a number of smaller games published here in the US and Japan.  I don’t do that style of games anymore (big budget, big risk).  Now I teach people how to make games at Code Camps and at the Microsoft Garage after hours.  And I build little games for myself as a hobby.  No aspirations to get back to the full time game gig.  This is a pure fun thing for me.  I like to write code, and I like games.  I will explore what those two things mean in this blog over time.