Game review: Zombie Tsunami puts you in charge of the zombie horde

Of all the benefits that technology has gifted us, an excuse to ignore our families during the holidays is perhaps the greatest. Historically, we relied on the warmth and cheer *cough* of our families and friends to get us through the cold winter season. But no more! Now we can bask in the warm glow of our LCD screen of choice, while huddling alone in a dark corner.

This holiday season, I’ve ignored my family by playing Zombie Tsunami, the latest project from Mobigame.

Gameplay

Zombie Tsunami is a joyfully silly platform runner similar to the popular Jetpack Joyride. The goal of each round is to build up your zombie horde by eating the brains of civilians and avoiding obstacles. It shares Jetpack Joyride’s simple touch controls – touch to jump, that’s it.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoYVFgYSA0g

The simple gameplay doesn’t at first seem like it would lend the game a lot of replay value, but well-crafted missions and upgrade goals kept bringing me back. On iOS, the game utilizes Apple’s Game Center to coordinate challenges between friends, which is actually how I first discovered the game. One of my friend’s issued a challenge to me to beat his 52 brain score and off I went.

The game reacts to the size of your zombie horde by throwing more obstacles at you the larger your horde gets. Gather a horde of 30+ zombies and you’ll soon find it culled down to 3 or 4 by bombs and chasms that have been thrown in your way. This limiting keeps the game challenging and prevents players from just zerging through each round.

Braaaaaaaaaaaaaains!
Braaaaaaaaaaaaaains! – Image Credit: Mobigame

An in-game market provides power-ups, cosmetic changes for your zombies (hats), and other gameplay bonuses. These can either be purchased with coins your zombies have collected during each round or by purchasing coin packs from Mobigame.

I’m personally not a big fan of the free-to-play-buy-in-game-items model, but Mobigame’s store is well implemented and I never felt like I was being pushed to buy coins or that I couldn’t compete without them.

Availability & pricing

Zombie Tsunami is available for free on iOS devices running iOS 4.3 or later.

Final Thoughts

My only big complaint about Zombie Tsunami is the inability to sync stats, progress, and upgrades across iCloud to all my iDevices. Although this is nothing I would have expected just a few years ago, it’s such a common feature now that I’m annoyed when a game developer doesn’t implement it.

Otherwise, this is an excellent free-to-play game with a lot of replay value. While it’s by no means innovative, it’s a great take on the Jetpack Joyride formula and a good way to escape from your loved ones during the holidays.

Game review: Hero Academy

If you know me, you know I’m a picky gamer. I don’t play a lot of games, but that’s not because I don’t like gaming — I just can never find a game that I enjoy long enough to stick with it. Hero Academy, a turn-based strategy game on iOS and Windows, just made its way to Steam, and it’s got me hooked. Let’s dive in together to see what makes this game so great.

Gameplay

Hero Academy is sort of like chess, in the sense that you have different “chess pieces” that do different things, and there’s a certain kind of strategy that you have to keep in mind that’s similar to how you would strategize in chess. Hero Academy consists of five different characters (or “units”) and a wealth of different items like shields, swords, and helmets that you can use to upgrade your units, as well as one-time-use items like health potions, fireballs, and boosts.

You get 25 of a mixture of units and items per game, but only have access to five at a time. When you use them up, you get new units/items to replace the ones you used until all 25 are used up. Look at it as a deck of cards with a five-card hand.

Each player gets five moves per turn, and you can use those moves however you like. You can do a mixture of moving and attacking, or spend a turn simply building up your army for a major attack later in the game. You can even spend a move swapping an item in your hand for something else that’s waiting in the queue, in case you’re dealt a crappy hand.

The goal of the game is to either destroy all of your opponents’ units or destroy their jewel — whichever comes first. The game board includes special squares that give you certain boosts when one of your units lands on them. These include different types of increased attack power and defense strength.

Misc. features

All users receive the Council “starter” team when they begin playing Hero Academy. You can buy different teams (Dark Elves, Dwarves, Tribe, and the Team Fortress 2 team) for a few bucks per team. All the teams are relatively balanced, so there’s no real big advantage to using the paid teams other than having different characters besides the default ones — every team has roughly the same type of units that do the same thing with the same amount of power. Some units on the paid teams do things that other teams can’t, but there’s usually a trade-off  for those units.

Availability and pricing

Hero Academy is available on Steam for $4.99 and on iOS as a free, ad-supported download. When you buy the Steam version, you get the Team Fortress 2 team for free, along with the Council starter team. Sadly, the TF2 team isn’t available to purchase on iOS, but you can still buy the other teams for $1.99 each (removing the game’s ads while you do so) and get different avatar packs ($0.99 each) as well.

Conclusion

In a word, Hero Academy is addictive. Any game that allows you to play against your friends usually has a great lasting appeal, and Hero Academy has that and much more. The chess-like strategy mixed with the different attack items makes the game a unique title that a lot of casual gamers will enjoy.

The Rise and Fall of Draw Something

Not too long ago, Draw Something was a social-gaming phenomenon raking in 50 million downloads within the first 50 days of the game’s release. It even beat Words With Friends to become the most popular Facebook game at the time. Zynga (creators of FarmVille) even bought out developer OMGPOP (creaters of Draw Something) for $180 million because of the game’s massive popularity.

However, did Zynga act too quickly? It turns out the rapid rise to fame has hit a plateau and is now heading in a downward direction. The past few weeks have seen a steady decline in the number of users playing Draw Something. In a month’s time, from April 2 to May 2, the game has lost almost four million users according to a report by BBC News, dropping the total number of active users down to 10.4 million.

Draw Something is a Pictionary-esque mobile game that has you draw a picture with the goal being the other person guessing correctly. Each correct answer earns you and your “opponent” coins to buy more colors and other goodies.

Frankly, I’m not too surprised by the steady decline of users playing the game. It’s the type of game that gets old quickly. For me, Draw Something lasted about a week before I deleted it off of my phone. It’s simply the type of game where it needs to be constantly updated with new features in order to keep users interested. If Draw Something stays the same old game forever, there’s no doubt that it will lose its appeal.

We’ll have to wait and see what Zynga will do to combat the steady loss of its users for Draw Something. Is it possible for them to keep the game going strong and staying relevant with frequent updates and newer features? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: WebMediaBrands