Tag Archives: mobile gaming

TPCi surprises the world

In case you missed it (which you probably have) The Pokémon Company unleashed Pokémon Duel, a mobile game avaliable in Japan for close to a year, upon a western audience today.

Let us ignore the game proper at the moment and discuss the release mechanic. There was no indication that it was going to be released today or even at all in the west. There was no fanfare, no sign of it in the App Store front page, nothing. I even checked the free charts and nope, nothing. I assume TPCi was going for word-of-mouth but, despite the fame of the IP, it seemingly hasn’t caught on.

Now to the game. It is a turn-based strategy not unlike chess with the objective to make it to a panel at the other player’s side. If two figures come face-to-face, they are to battle. Both players spin for a move and the strongest one hits. One may use “plates” to enhance move or field effects and it is possible for the virtual figures used to play to level up. Pieces may also be surrounded by two opponent Pokémon, causing them to faint without any need for a battle. Fainted figures are sent to a Pokémon Centre and cannot be reused for the duration of the battle. From the one game I played it appears that only one panel is needed to be occupied to win, which seems a bit underwhelming particularly as this is not a children’s game but an easy-to-get-into-hard-to-master strategy.

I shall formulate a more concrete opinion as I play more, but it appears to be a recipe for failure. Are they seriously trying to harm the hot Pokémon property through this and the endless cutscene fest of Sun/Moon?

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Into the Warp Pipe

I posted quite a scathing review of Super Mario Run yesterday, but now I’m finding myself rather hooked.

There’s still no excuse for locking out a good portion of the game to people who aren’t willing to pony up real money. I figured out that one can get Toad Tickets through collecting all five red (then purple, then blue…) coins in a single player level, but that supply will soon be exhausted and I am not willing to rely on the bonus game where there’s only a 50/50 chance of getting a ticket.

At the time of review I was not used to the controls (or rather control) and I therefore feel that I was a little harsh on them. They’re quick to get into, which is an obvious must for mobile games, but also versatile. All the moves avaliable to the little Italian plumber in the console games are here and doable.

So Nintendo, I apologise. You’ve made a good game but all it needs is it somehow entirely playable for free players. I don’t care if I have to get 10,000 coins to unlock a single level, just do it.

Run, Mario, run

“At last, a FREE Mario game!” we all cried.

Only to find that most of the game was walled off to people who didn’t have money.
And that there was no alternate method of unlocking the courses like in the other Nintendo mobile games. In Miitomo, you could answer questions to get coins. In Pokémon Go (while not technically a Nintendo-published game, it uses content licenced from Nintendo and TCPi had some input) you could earn coins by winning at gyms. You can earn coins and “Toad Tickets” (see below) in Super Mario Run, but there is no way to use them to unlock further levels. Nintendo, who have more than enough money to make the game mostly free, have completely fallen down the Allegedly Free Game hole and I and many more are disappointed.

The control scheme while EXTREMELY basic- you just tap the screen to make Mario jump- is difficult to get used to for veterans of the franchise. You hold the screen for longer jumps, this being something that could easily be done with the A button in all other Mario games. This is understandable due to the limitations of the iOS platform, but I think they could have implemented it differently. Goombas, while offering one coin when stomped, no longer hurt Mario when he comes into accidental contact with them. Instead, he climbs over them. For somebody who has been playing Mario games for twenty years this is near blasphemy.

Fortunately, the Toad Rally multiplayer mode is free and pretty cool. In it, one must aim to clear the level with as many Toads as possible cheering you on. The person with the most Toads and/or coins wins and takes home ses spoils. The Toads will inhabit one’s kingdom, which can be built from the ground up with the coins earned. The kingdom can be customised as you like it and you will level up the more Toads you get. There is one catch to this though- you start out with five Toad Tickets needed to play the Toad Rally but you can only play the bonus game needed to get them once every eight hours with no guarantee you will get them (though you can get coins). This is EA levels of slowing game progress down for free players.

Finally, the game requires an internet connection to play. While it doesn’t seem to be a data gobbler, this is worth relaying for those out there on limited 4G plans and/or no home wifi.

All in all, there are some FANTASTIC ideas here, the Kingdom Builder mode in particular standing out, but the paywall makes this disappointing for free players and the control scheme disappointing in general. If you can hoard the Toad Tickets, the Toad Rally will keep you occupied for a good while. Hoepfully future versions should make it easier for free players, but right now I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re willing to spend some cash or are a Mario completist.

Come on Nintendo, I’m saving for a Switch here!