State of the Game: Mobile Check-In

The last time I wrote a State of the Game round-up post was way back in September of last year. Things have definitely changed a bit since then, and a big part of that was not stretching myself so thin around so many games. I had a backlog clearing spree throughout most of the year but that project lost steam once fall came around. There was football to watch. I was busy preparing for a move. I was playing a game at a time and not really having enough small tidbits to share in this column. Since then I’ve moved, started a new job and have less free time than I’ve had in a while, mostly due to adjusting to a completely new schedule. As such, the blog has suffered a bit and some of my side projects have been delayed further. Whatever the case, there is one thing that has been pretty consistent for the past couple of years, and that’s mobile gaming.

It’s strange saying that. I used to rally against mobile games and thought they were complete trash — and to be fair they were pretty much that for a lot of years. However, things have changed, and there are some pretty decent mobile games out there, you just have to sift through a lot of dog shit to find them. I’ve written individual posts about all of these games, and will link to those original posts if you’re curious to see how my opinions have changed. I’ve also written about a few of these titles multiple times, and so I’m only going to link to the most recent. Then I thought I’d give an update on to my current status in that game, or why it got uninstalled from my phone. Let’s start with the games I’m still playing:

Currently Installed:

Clash Royale
SEGA Heroes

Clash Royale:

Clash Royale is still my favorite and most played mobile game to date. I don’t know exactly what it is about it that keeps me coming back, day-in and day-out, but I have played it religiously for over two years. I’ve tried other Supercell games and didn’t play them long, but this one has staying power. Here’s some brief updates about what’s new:

The last time I shared my deck progress, I only had a couple of max level cards, and the new star upgrades were just implemented. At this point I now have five max level cards, and I’m well on my way towards getting a sixth (bats). Fireball will come next, and I only need a dozen or so more Electro Wiz’s to max it out as well. This has worked well on the ladder, and I had my best season ever last month, when I finally made it to Challenger 3. I’m hoping to get back there and push beyond soon, though the season reset keeps bumping me back down. Lastly, there are player stats I’ve shared, just because I find that sort of thing interesting.

SEGA Heroes:

SEGA Heroes has become my second favorite mobile game, and has replaced quite a few games that came before it. There isn’t much else to say, outside of sharing some progress:

I’ve unlocked all but about a dozen heroes, though they keep adding more. I’ve also promoted most of them to at least four stars and level 20. Those at the top are my most powerful, being level 40 and 4-5 stars. It takes time but it doesn’t really feel like a grind, and that’s probably why I enjoy both of these titles so much. There’s a sense of progression, but the game remains fun along the way.

I don’t have anything new to say about Langrisser. It’s still installed but I haven’t played it in a couple of weeks. I’ll need more time to give any more information. Next up, games that I’ve spoken about in the last couple of years that I’m no longer playing. Click the links below for more information on these particular titles.

Previously Installed:

Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem
Knight Story
Legend of Solgard
Idle Apocalypse
Paladin’s Strike
Fire Emblem Heroes

The most recent casualty was the Looney Tunes game I spoke of recently. In all honesty I rather liked the game, and it was full-featured enough that I can see one playing it for a long while. The problem is that I liked it for similar reasons to the games already installed on my phone, so it felt like more of the same, and I got bored of doing the same sort of daily tasks in multiple titles. I would still recommend it to anyone whom I thought would enjoy that style of game, but I just didn’t want to check in on it anymore.

Knight Story was a game that I thought looked interesting but got boring quickly. That’s all I can really say, it didn’t last long.

Stormbound was fun, but after beating most of the single player stuff I got bored.

Legend of Solgard had a lot of potential. I really enjoyed playing it and it was on par with engaging me like SEGA heroes, but it really did feel like a grind and like they were time gating things to a point where I almost felt required to spend money. Not cool man.

Paladin’s Strike is a game better suited to a tablet and would probably play much better with one of those mobile controllers. I liked it well enough but I just couldn’t hang with the touch screen controls.

I’ve considered re-installing Fire Emblem Heroes a couple of times now. I think I uninstalled it because I was playing on an older phone and needed to free up some space. Whatever the case I remember it fondly and might get it back soon. Nothing new is on the horizon that I’m excited to try.

So that’s about it, just thought I’d jot down some notes for posterity. I’ll try to get some extra gaming in now that I’m starting to adjust and get the round up post going more often again. Until next time.

The Legend of Solgard

Being famous for games like Candy Crush Saga and Farm Heroes, it would be safe to say that I haven’t been too interested in titles that King has produced. The last time (and only) time I’ve talked about the company was back in 2015 when they were acquired by Activision/Blizzard. Having written them off completely, I was surprised to find they released a new title this month, and I was intrigued because not only is it a Match-3 style of game like many of the titles the company has already produced, but it also mixes in RPG and “gotta catch em all” elements. If you’ve every played a game like Puzzle Quest or Gems of War you’ll sort of know what to expect. The game in question, is Legend of Solgard.

I really learned to love this style of game with Puzzle Quest 2, a game that was gifted to me way back in my early Steam days. It differed a bit, because the battles were you against a single enemy and the gems you would match would correlate to attacks or spells you could cast. When the battle ended you’d move around on a map until you hit the next encounter. It was a fun game that I spent a lot of time with nearly a decade ago. The same company made other games in a similar vein, Gems of War being one of the newer iterations. I believe they were also responsible for the Marvel and MTG puzzle quest games, but I’m uncertain and too lazy to look at the moment. Another cool game in this genre was Ironcast, which made the match-3 correlation by powering your Steampunk Mechs actions. This game is similar enough to these titles I’ve mentioned but does it’s own thing pretty well.

The tutorial explains things well enough, but if you’ve played similar games you’ll be able to jump right in quickly. You’ll start each match with a variety of unit types that match up with one of the four basic colors that comprise your bestiary. Matching at least three of them puts them into an attack position, which occurs after you use your three moves. There are lanes in which your creatures (and the enemy’s creatures) inhabit, and they will attack in a straight line (unless an ability allows something else to happen). The goal of each level is to destroy the portal on the enemy’s side of the screen, and you’ll have to break through their defenses to do so.

The four colors are red, yellow, green and purple. It seems that each type correlates to a sort of class system, but I haven’t dug deep enough to confirm that. The red creatures seem to be melee, yellow are swift, green are defensive and purples are magic oriented. You’ll start with a few and open others eventually, as each match rewards you with gems that eventually unlock the new creatures. Those same gems will also upgrade your existing creatures and as they are upgraded they get abilities that change what happens when they are merged into their attack position. Most of the time this is an ability that triggers upon merging, and usually with shoot something either directly forward or at a random spot on the enemy’s side. Your player character also gains experience and unlocks abilities, the only one I’ve seen so far shoots a spear at a random enemy.

The campaign map is rather large and I’ve completed 25 or so levels. Most are pretty straightforward, but occasionally you’ll come across a boss fight, and those are a little more challenging. You’ll also eventually open up other Match-3 mechanics, like making t-shapes, squares and horizontal matches that produce different effects. They have been pretty good at keeping things simple and adding new mechanics sporadically so people who have never played this sort of game should be able to adapt quickly.

Of course being a mobile game, there’s a cash shop. Hell, these days it doesn’t matter if it’s even a mobile game, there’s usually some form of microtransactions so we’re used to this. It doesn’t seem necessary to buy anything, but I guess if you enjoy the game and want to throw the devs some coin there’s nothing wrong with that. There are chests, gems and gold to buy so similar to what you’d expect out of other games (Clash Royale offers the same sort of thing). There are also daily quests that are easy enough to complete and give you gold/xp and chests. A daily login bonus usually provides the creature gems and upgrade dust (used to level up the beasts’ abilities). There is also a guild feature. I joined a random one and am not sure of the benefits as of yet. There is a gold donation option which looks to give all clan members bonus stats, and there are guild boss fights but I’m not high enough level to participate just yet.

This would probably be enough to keep the game interesting, but King went ahead and added additional layers. At a certain point you open up the “Treasure Caves” which is a zone that is filled with jars and coffers that contain loot. You make the matches and attack those containers to break them open and grab the goodies inside. No challenge, but a nice way to level things up, though you can only do so a couple of times a day. There is a whole screen full of other game modes that are fairly self explanatory but don’t unlock until a higher level. I’m sitting at level 5 at the moment and am about half way through the first campaign, so I’ll get to these bits eventually. I’ve been liking having additional games to play on my phone outside of Clash Royale, and am surprised that I found something else that has kept my attention. I’d recommend it if you like Match-3 games, it’s quick and fun!