minis Review Roundup: 5-in-1 Arcade Hits, Fieldrunners, and Age of Zombies
Alright, so with the recent release of the PlayStation Plus service a couple weeks ago, one of the features of the service is free games every now and then. As a subscriber myself, I have downloaded the two minis that are available, Fieldrunners and Age of Zombies. I will also be reviewing 5-in-1 Arcade, which is a mini released earlier this week.
The review will be broken up into four different tabs. This introduction, and one for each title. Given that the titles are more mini-games than full-fledged, or even, arcade games, I will be trying out a different rating system.
So, what are the games about then?
- 5-in-1 Arcade hits: This is a minis title that includes 5 different games in one. 15 Puzzle, Pairs, Solitaire, 8Ball Pool, and Tetroid, each offering a different gameplay experience. This is also Grip Games’ first title.
- Fieldrunners: This is a tower defense title, with different upgradable towers, and was created by Subatomic Studios.
- Age of Zombies: A simple shooter with numerous weapons and a ton of zombies. Developed by Halfbrick.
As for my scoring system? It’s simple, really. Thumbs up if I recommend it, thumbs down if I don’t.
With all that out of the way, what did I think of the games?
[tab:5-in-1 Arcade Hits]
5-in-1 arcade, which had just released earlier this week, includes 5 game types, as described in the previous tab. Given that each of the 5 mini-games are different experiences, it would be a little tough to review it as a whole, so the review will split up the different mini games.
Ah, the classic sliding puzzle (there are 16 squares and 15 pieces). Move adjacent squares into the empty space, and line either the picture, or the numbers up (depending on the difficulty level you use). This is, by far, the hardest of all the games. I did manage to beat one, but after over 500 moves, I wound up with a score of 0 anyway :P. I don’t even know how I got it, since I was frustratingly pressing random squares at the end. Took a long while until I finally got it. Needless to say, I probably won’t touch that one for a while, but it was still good fun, and if you enjoy those kinds of puzzles, you’ll probably enjoy it.
Here’s a popular one, which you often see on the desktops of call centers, offices and airport security checkpoints. You all know the game, you have to stack each suit starting from Ace to the King, with a row of cards, and each row progressively adding an additional face-down card, but must line them up vertically in alternating colors, etc (yeah, explaining the game in full is a little much for the review, so I’ll skip most of it :P).
What’s nice about this one is simply pressing triangle on cards that can be stacked right away. The controls are nice and easy, so if you’re familiar with other versions of the game, this one is pick up and play. It comes in two difficulty levels, easy and hard, with easy allowing you to go through the deck one card at a time, and hard doing 3 cards at a time. Earlier today, I played a Hard game, and completed it in 4:22. I’m still at a loss how Grip Games managed to get it in 3:48. I still managed a gold medal, though.
This is a simple pool game. You either play one player or two player. One player allows you to clear a table before going after the 8 ball (there isn’t a CPU controlled opponent). It’s very simple and the physics aren’t that great, but it’s fun enough to at least try every once in a while (the surface seems to act a little icy as balls slide and bounce around with seemingly little resistance). One problem I did notice, though, is that in two player, the 8 ball is actually a light blue color, and that threw me off and is most likely a glitch that was looked over.
Here’s a simple memory game. The whole point is to match the same pictures/characters on cards. You’ll have to use your memory and the like to get through it quickly. You’ve probably played similar style games in the past. I didn’t much care for the shaking of the tiles as you passed over, but it doesn’t detract from it. This is one of the less inspired games in the title, but still something to do and pick up and play.
This will most likely be the game’s biggest draw. Tetroid is like Tetris, in that blocks fall towards you, but it’s also like breakout, which has you bouncing balls off your pad to take out the falling blocks. Play two player? It’s like the two above games, mixed in with Pong (where the point of the game is to score points like in Pong, but there are colored bricks that stand in your way). Two player on this title, though, would probably be best handled on a PSP, with both players holding onto one side of the PSP, since the triangle and x buttons are used to control the 2nd player’s position. This one can be pretty addicting, but in single player, with the three ball power-up, it can get a little hectic. Also, some bricks take a couple hits to break, and some break surrounding bricks along with it (the red ones). You could spend quite a bit of time on this one.
Now, with that out of the way, what about the overall experience? Presentation is nice, and everything is easy to navigate. I would have liked to have seen some more options in the games, like being able to start a new one instead of having to quit first and then start a new one again. The leaderboards works a bit differently, too. The game gives you a code to enter at their web site (which you must register at first), and it retrieves your awards and medals.
You can also connect to your Facebook account, and post your medals on your wall, as well as your global rank. It would have been far easier if it connected online automatically, but given how the game is designed for both PSP and PS3 and must be interchangeable, that was pretty much out of the question. That’s still a pretty cool feature to have for a mini, though.
Overall? I guess I would have to say I recommend this, especially if you want something to pick up and play on a long trip or something, but don’t want to spend a lot of time progressing through a story. Another thing to point out, if you’ve seen any of the trailers, the game seems to play a lot smoother than what those portray, so keep that in mind.
Thanks to PlayStation Plus, I was able to pick this one up for free. It had actually been released alongside the launch of the PSPGo. The game itself? It offers plenty of options for a small title like this. If you like Tower Defense games, you might enjoy this one. There are plenty of towers and weapons, with each having a couple upgrades available to each.
The variety in enemies is pretty decent as well, and the maps are laid out in the usual grid style. After reaching a certain level (out of 100, depending on the game mode), another map will unlock, becoming progressively harder the further you get.
There are three difficulty levels, so if you’re up for a challenge, that’s definitely there. The design of the game is pretty cartoony, making it rather appealing to multiple age groups, and the effects are pretty cool. Personally, I think that the game is pretty fun, and I never really got into tower defense games before (this kind of makes me want to try out PixelJunk Monsters).
The only thing I didn’t care for is that all the weapons focus on the first person to enter their target zone, even if faster targets managed to squeeze by while the towers were shooting it, but hey, it makes you have to strategize your tower placement better. At least you can sell ineffective towers to get some money back for one of the more advanced, and more expensive, towers.
As for a few bad points? When playing on the PS3, it seems to ‘lock up’ when you reach certain levels or new enemies appear (it doesn’t completely freeze, so give it some time). It’s unfortunate, but I think it’s due to it being a launch title for the Go, and then, PS3 development of minis wasn’t exactly a top priority, since they didn’t become available until a later firmware update for the PS3. I don’t know if it was only coincidental or it actually worked, but I did press X when it did get hung up on one point, and the game continued, so it might be worth a try next time.
In the end, I would have to give this one a thumbs up, despite the hanging problems and the like.
[tab:Age of Zombies]
This one is a gem. Some folks might not like it because, well, it has zombies, and not too many people are fond of zombies, since they seem to be the new WWII. Don’t let that turn you away, though. This game is tons of fun and you owe it to yourself to check it out.
You play as Barry Steakfries (one of the many characters with humorous names), who must stop a zombie infestation through different periods of time. The dialogue in the game is so ridiculously stupid, its funny. Barry’s description of the zombie T-Rex in the first levels sounds like something you would hear out of a stoner movie. There are a few different, distinctive time periods, including the mobster era, ancient Egypt, and feudal Japan.
As you progress through a level, different weapons pop up that you can pick up, from shotguns and SMGs, to flamethrowers and grenades (the flamethrower, I think, is about the best one, especially on the larger zombies). You can even place mines that will blow up a couple of seconds after a zombie walks over them (so they’re perfect for crowds).
You can also get some huge combos, which only build up on weapon pickups and not by your standard pistol. Pick up a new weapon, and the combo ends there, too. When you get the minigun power up, you can get some huge numbers with that, especially since red triangles surround the screen to let you know where zombies are that might be out of sight.
As far as controls go, the D-pad works nicely for moving around and are pretty responsive, but since the game is made for PSP, you can’t use the second analog stick to fire the weapon so, instead, you’ll need to use the face buttons on the controller (X, triangle, etc) as those determine the direction you shoot. It’s weird at first, but you get the hang of it in no time. Need to shoot diagonally? Hold two of the buttons simultaneously. It’s a good way to make up for the lack of a second stick.
Definitely pick this one up.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of 5-in-1 Arcade Hits, Fieldrunners, and Age of Zombies provided by Grip Games & Subatomic Studios.