Mobile Games Update

It’s funny to me that despite my protests about mobile games in years past — things like they aren’t real games and none of them are worth the time investment — I play them more than console or PC games these days. It’s true, there was a time when the majority of mobile games were time wasters in a bad way, either due to huge time gating mechanics or pay walls and I guess the same can be said about the entire free to play industry so there’s that. You’ll know that my mind has been changed more recently though, as I have been blogging about one title in particular for a couple of years now. Others have come and gone, but I usually at least share my thoughts about said titles each time I play a new one, or give updates on the long running staples. The last time I did an update like this was about six months ago, so I thought it would be interesting to see what’s changed on my phone, and what’s happened with the games I’m still playing.

Currently Installed:

Clash Royale
SEGA Heroes
Pokemon Go

So we have the usual suspects here, but also a game I didn’t think I’d ever write about outside of the “it’s a passing fad” commentary I’ve made in the past.

Clash Royale has seen a few big updates since the last time I went over what was on my phone. Shortly after that time the new trophy road system was implemented. Just a little over a month ago we also saw pass royale become a thing. I have to say I think the new trophy road system is better than the old ladder, as I do enjoy getting a slew of unlocked prizes each time the season resets, rather than just dropping a bunch of trophies for nothing. They did reward a chest but it was never as good as all of these rewards have been. Then as we take the trek back up we get more unlocks as well. It has felt good during the few months we have had it. Ditto pass royale. For $5 you get some creature comforts, but as you progress you get more unlocks than you used to at the end of any season. I do feel like I always fall behind with unlocking the tiers and have to do some grinding from time to time to earn crowns, but hell that used to be all we did during clan wars, just grind out as many trophies as you could — that got old fast. They are gamifying what used to bother us, to a point where it no longer bothers us. I think Supercell has done a great job with the game and I hope it continues to be awesome.

SEGA Heroes has also seen some updates that added in some cool features. One thing that was always really annoying was when doing your challenges (these reset daily for the most part) for any of the levels in which you earned a 3-star rating you could later “loot” without having to actually do the fight over again. You can do the same on campaign levels, by the way. Anyhow, you can now “quick loot” the whole set of levels on each challenge if you’ve already completed them all. It’s very nice for convenience sake. Boss battles were introduced recently as well, and some new currencies introduced. You can spend one type to summon a boss and the other type to fight against it. Bosses have a ton of health bars, so if the whole guild attacks repeatedly, you should be able to take it down. If not, they disappear after a set time and you’ll be rewarded for what hurt you did put on it. It’s an okay system but due to the fights being timed, they also opted to limit the speed at which you play. See there are game speed settings, and most people play on the faster speed so they don’t have to sit through the drawn out animations. In the boss fights you can’t adjust the speed so it’s painfully slow. Otherwise a fine idea. New characters are being added all the time, recently from the games Shenmue, Altered Beast and even Valkyria Chronicles. I’m still enjoying it, but at account level 65 and working on the blue stars on my main team, progress has slowed to a crawl.

As I said above, I’m surprised to be writing about this at all, but yes I have Pokemon Go installed on my phone right now. I can pretty much guarantee this would have never happened were it not for my woman, but it has happened nonetheless. Apparently she had it installed since back in ’16 when it released, most likely due to prodding from the boy. Whatever the case, she started playing it again a couple of months ago, and prodded me to install so that she could send me gifts. I agreed and pretty much only logged on when she would bug me to accept my gifts so that I could be sent more. The bug may have caught me a bit more at this point though, as I have been catching Pokemon more often (mostly while sitting at home, or when we are out doing errands) and now find myself with the app open while we are driving around trying to get pokestops and catch more critters. It’s still a game that frustrates me due to being janky sometimes, and I don’t like the fact that they essentially force you to pay for storage space but maybe I should be using my items faster? I don’t know exactly, and I don’t know shit about Pokemon except for the more popular characters. So yeah, I’m not truly invested but I have participated more actively as of late.

Previously Installed:

Langrisser
Warriors of Waterdeep
AFK Arena
Dr. Mario World

So in that last Mobile check in post, I had spoken of Langrisser still being installed on my phone. It lasted for a while longer but I just never came back around to it so it was thrown on the burn pile. It seemed fine as I expressed in the linked post, but I just don’t play games that are too involved on my phone — I’d rather be able to play for five to ten minutes and feel like I did all I needed to do for that day.

I also rather enjoyed Warriors of Waterdeep but I just couldn’t keep up with the requirements to stay relevant. I eventually started to see that the play pattern wouldn’t change any more and lost interest. It was fun while it lasted though.

Ditto AFK Arena. It was fun to play for a few weeks but it was clear that it would be a play pattern that I wasn’t going to enjoy indefinitely. I’ve already essentially got a couple games that do this thing for me really well already, and despite thinking I’ll find another to add to the list I haven’t found a solid third game just yet.

Lastly, Dr. Mario World which is still a fairly new release and could possibly change into something I’d enjoy more, just didn’t do it for me as much as I wanted it to. I’d still take a bare bones Tetris game over this though, so that hurts its prospects. I don’t know why Nintendo have such great success with their first party IPs on their own systems but can’t seem to get this mobile thing going. Whatever the case, I have my doubts about any of their games being addictive to me personally.

And that’s all there is to touch on. Any good mobile game recommendations, given what I’ve written above? I’m always open to trying something new, but there’s no guarantee it will stick!

State of the Game: Filler

I remember when I first started this column and it was initially created as a way for me to cram a bunch of small details into a larger post and get something published. At the time I wasn’t blogging as regularly as I would have liked, and part of that was due to playing many games at once and not feeling like I had enough to say about each on individually. As such, this became a weekly series that would be devoted to those Playstation Plus freebies and other games that I was playing that didn’t have much lasting appeal but I still wanted to throw down some thoughts. Or, I’d discuss progress from larger games I was playing, or throw in news about games I regularly played that had new patches or things of that nature. In the following years this turned into less of a weekly post and just a catch all for when I didn’t have much else to say. Lately it’s been even more sporadic, to the point where sometimes I think there’s no point in keeping it going, but I still need a catch all post format and this has worked so I’m going to continue to use it. It’s been about three months since the last SotG post, and this edition I have updates on games I’ve been playing in recent weeks that I’ve touched on in the past.

Apex Legends:

I wrote some fond thoughts about Apex Legends when it released, but you’ll probably note that I haven’t talked about it since. Part of this was due to the fact that I was getting a case of Battle Royale fatigue — since the genre started to take off in popularity, everyone was throwing their hat into the ring and I tried many iterations of the concept. Some I enjoyed more than others, and Apex Legends is definitely one of the better versions of this style. The other reason I haven’t talked about it is because I stopped playing for a while. A few of my friends play along with my son and I primarily played with them but the slow pace of content updates made the game stale after a while. Even the introduction of seasons and a battle pass system wasn’t exciting to me, and my stats prove that I didn’t play a single game during that first season. We did see the release of a couple of guns and the new character Octane during that time, but earning the in-game currency to unlock new champions is painfully slow, and they run you about $10 to unlock individually. I’d gladly plop down $30-40 if you’d give me all of the characters unlocked along with all future releases but I don’t really want to spend the money otherwise.

Nonetheless, season two launched recently and another new character, Wattson, was introduced. The arena was also changed up, with the large creatures that were off in the distance are now on the island, and some structures have been destroyed. Otherwise not much has changed, and yet I’ve been having fun playing it. One motivator is the battle pass, despite the fact that I haven’t paid for it. Everyone can participate for free, and new daily and weekly quests give you points towards your battle pass level. You’ll get free rewards just for playing, and though they aren’t amazing it’s better than nothing (or just the apex packs like before). If you want to drop the cash, the battle pass will get you a ton of extra value in the form or cosmetics ranging from character skins to different music and loading screens. We’ve seen all of this sort of monetization before, but it actually seems worth it in some ways. Unfortunately just unlocking the battle pass doesn’t do a whole lot for you, unless you’ve leveled up enough to get a large chunk of the rewards. I don’t see myself maxing out to get all of the super cool loot, so I’m still on the fence about spending the money. We’ll see where I am towards the end of the season to see if it’s justifiable. I can’t speak to other platforms, but the game still seems very much alive and well on the Playstation.

Clash Royale:

Clash Royale is still my go-to mobile game and I don’t see that changing. It’s been over two years, and I can’t say I’ve been playing anything that long anymore. I maxed out my ladder deck a while ago, and most of the cards have at least one star level as well. The new battle pass system, Pass Royale is going strong, and I’ve unlocked 10 levels, but you can essentially grind them out as you play. I like the fact that they streamlined quests as well, where you are not limited to a particular game mode to complete them. For instance, before there were quests that said “play 30 buildings in 1v1 battles” and you would only get updates while playing the ladder — not in 2v2, challenges or clan wars. Now that same quest reads “play 30 buildings” without the limitation, and it’s a nice way to clear quests faster. I’ve been working on leveling up my cards that weren’t a part of my ladder deck, and so far each deck I play has almost all of its cards at level 12 or maximum. I have a queue of cards that are ready to upgrade, a couple of them to maximum level but gold income is slow going. I should have a 2nd max level deck within a couple of months. I’ve been as high as Master 2 since the rework to matchmaking, and have been at that sort of level for the past couple of seasons. The guild has been floating at high gold/low legendary, but we can’t seem to keep afloat in the higher tier. Our core group was promoted to Elder recently and we seem to be the ones gaining ground, but some of the stragglers have kept us from staying in the top league. I’m sure that will continue to be the norm for a while but as the core gets stronger we just might be able to keep it going.

SEGA Heroes:

My 2nd favorite mobile game and one I’ve been playing for nearly a year, this game has a ton of progression that is slow going as well. Currently my account is level 63 (I have no idea what the maximum is), and my main team of heroes are all level 60, with Sonic being level 63 (they are capped at your account level). They are also all at 2 blue stars, which means I put a shit ton of cards into their progression. My focus as of late is farming skill upgrades (they all have their three skills at level 8) and trying to upgrade them further. The reagents needed to upgrade their levels are getting ridiculous, hence why Sonic is the only one above level 60. They also introduced some guild related progression, in that we have events that happen regularly where your individual progress helps the guild as well, so at the end of the event you’ll get your own solo rewards along with guild rewards. There are also boss battles that anyone in the guild can initiate, but they are timed events so you might not get to participate if you don’t notice or aren’t online when it happens. We have yet to down a boss, but you still get rewards if you participate. It seems okay but I can think of a few improvements to the system.

Void Bastards and Amid Evil:

I wrote about Void Bastards and Amid Evil recently after I picked them up during the Steam Sale. Since, I’ve put a few hours into each title and I’m still very pleased with the purchases. I’ve cleared the first world in Amid Evil and made some progress in the second. There really isn’t much to report there, it’s a straight forward game but it’s still a cool retro styled game that I highly recommend. I’ve got even more positive things to say about Void Bastards, it’s quickly become one of my favorite Rogue-lites of all time. The game play loop is similar each time but there is just enough variety for it to not get boring. I have opened up a bunch of different items and equipment that have made runs last much longer, and I’ve learned the general strategy of getting through the nebulas quickly. You don’t have to dock at every port, you can skip things and only loot ships when you need food or fuel (or a key item you’ve been looking for). You do need some of the upgrades to items and things before you can really get to this point though. Once here, you can get to the next story related items you need quite fast, and from there it’s on to the next thing. Currently trying to get together the pieces for the HR Computer, this coming after completing the ID Badge. It’s been a blast on both accounts.

Horizon Chase Turbo:

The other free game this month besides the one I already wrote about, Horizon Chase Turbo is a strange game that melds retro with modern aesthetics. I can’t quite place what game it reminds me most of… probably something on the NES or Sega Genesis, but whatever the case it feels like games I’ve played in the past, but boy does it run a hell of a lot faster than those games did. It’s 2D sprite graphics but they run fast and it’s hard to keep up with the twisting tracks coming ahead — particularly when there are hills and valleys. It is however quite a bit of fun! I’ve enjoyed clearing the first few areas of the game and testing out the other game modes. I’d recommend trying it if you need a game to jump in and play for a few minutes here and there, the races don’t last too long and they are enjoyable.

Crash Team Racing:

Speaking of racing games, I’ve also been putting my way through the CTR Remake. I’ve cleared the first couple of worlds along with some of the side events and have also toyed with playing online a bit. Like many games of this era, CTR has added a big content patch that brings a battle pass like system to the game. There are daily and weekly tasks that are earned just by playing the game in any of its modes, but playing online seems to get you more points faster. Leveling up your pass level brings rewards like skins and whatnot, but again there is no RMT here — everything that was added can be earned just by playing the game, and it doesn’t appear that they are planning on any further monetization. They even added several new tracks, something that didn’t happen with the original and something that gives me hope that this game will be playable for much longer than the original. New tracks keep things fresh and tasks keep you feeling like there’s always something to do. This is the model I like to see and wish more companies went this route instead of bleeding their customers.

That’s all I have for this round-up… Hope everyone else is having as much fun as I am!

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
Langrisser

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
Stormbound
Legend of Solgard
Questland
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.

Thoughts on SEGA Heroes

Within the last couple of weeks, SEGA released a new game for mobile devices called SEGA Heroes and as I had pre-registered for it on Google Play, I was notified that it was available. I enjoy match-3 games that incorporate other mechanics into them — titles such as Puzzle Quest or Ironcast have entertained me for countless hours. Having something like this on my phone is a boon because I can play in my downtime at work or when I’m out of town. I did try a game similar to this one earlier in the year called Legend of Solgard and though it was entertaining for a time, it had some severe time gating that slowed progression down to a crawl and I just couldn’t keep doing it. SEGA Heroes on the other hand, seems to have found the right balance between accessibility and making money via RMT. The game is also interesting because they are doing something in the vein of Nintendo, by slamming characters from all of their unique IPs into one game.

Like most games, it starts you off with a tutorial, where you’ll meet Ax Battler from Golden Axe, and a character from a Sonic the Hedgehog game, while learning the mechanics. It’s match 3, and each color corresponds to a character’s color. So if you match 3 blue gems, you’ll cause Ax Battler to attack in this scenario. There are a bunch of heroes though, but they all fall into one of four colors: Blue, Red, Yellow and Green. There is a fifth color, purple, which fills a bar and each time the bar is filled you get bonus attack damage and some bonus effects on your abilities. Each hero has a basic attack for matching 3, but if you match 4+ you will create a star gem on the board, and when you match that the hero will use their “star skill” which is more powerful. Additionally, each character has a bar underneath their picture, and when that fills you can tap their photo to use an ultimate attack.

You’ll unlock various heroes as you progress, and there are various sorts of progression in the game. Each time your account levels up, you can also level up each hero for some gold. Each hero is made up of “shards” and finding those shards in the world or buying them for the shop is how you can upgrade a one star hero into a two star and so forth. Some heroes are considered common and some epic. You can also upgrade their individual star skills and ultimates with reagents found in the world (and the shop).

Speaking of the shop, it’s pretty straight forward. You can buy chests and bundles and the in game currency (gold) or the RMT currency (diamonds). You can buy hero shards and reagents, and you’ll get some free chests each day. As you level there are other features that start to open up. Besides the campaign, there is a PvP arena, and events where you can earn more reagents/shards. There are a couple more features I haven’t opened yet as I’m only account level 13, but I would assume some are more difficult challenges. One mode is called survival so I imagine that to be endless battles until you die. Whatever the case, there is enough varied content here and characters from IPs I love that I’m engaged for the time being.

Overall it’s a fun little title and I have enjoyed myself with it. It might actually stay in my regular phone rotation, or maybe I’ll burn out on it, but I’d recommend check it out if you enjoy match 3 games!