Promiscuous Gamer

Three crazy - and not always in a good way - Japanese games come west

Three crazy - and not always in a good way - Japanese games come west

As game executive Bing Gordon famously put it (about) in 2010, "This is the most promiscuous app audience in the history of mankind".

This is the weekly diary of a promiscuous gamer.

1. Adventure Town (Supersolid)
In order to unlock new character Buffy Chin, I need six characters with level 5 outfits. It's taking a while.

2. Heroes of Honor (Nonstop Games)
I'm stuck in a resource-poor situation that will only be resolved by playing a lot more, spending money or uninstalling. Still, given our recent Making Of feature with the developer, I'll try the 'playing a lot more' option first.

3. Dungeon Keeper (EA)
After last week's debacle when it came to placement of my gold reserves, I've now repositioned things in my dungeon and have my gold much better defended. Next up I'm building the space for a Graveyard, as well as chipping away at my master defence plan that will make my base pretty much impregnable - I hope.

My lovely gold - safe

4. Royal Revolt 2 (flaregames)
Perhaps not surprising since I've spent $15 in Royal Revolt 2, I'm now into what I label 'the mid-range grind' - which is repeatedly doing the same things over and over for little outcome because you require a lot of resources to upgrade any of your buildings or units.

It's at this stage that I think the gameplay starts to show its more casual focus as there's not a lot of depth or tactics, but let's grind on and see what happens.

5. Boom Beach (Supercell)
Supercell's "risky third game" has started to open up this week - mainly with the introduction of some new in-game currencies.

Stone fits easily into the original wood and gold system, but building the Sculptor has unlocked four different elements - life, ice, magma and dark - each of which have three grades of currency (called Power Stones) you only get by attacking islands. These feed into a system of building idols, which increase your production of either wood, gold or stone.

A idol to boost production of every soft currency

This layering of another what I call 'progress or play-based' currency between the traditional soft and hard currencies is something we're beginning to see more of. Heroes of Honor also does this. It's a way of stopping a game becoming pay-to-win, but also increases the complexity and likely churns out casual players, which is why it only becomes available after you've completed the first part of the game.

In other news, I'm still not convinced about Boom Beach's single upgrade track. Certainly, I haven't spent any diamonds on it yet. Neither do I give a fig about defending my beach from attackers, especially as the Vault limits how many resources attackers can steal.

6. Game of Thrones: Ascent (Kongregate)
I'm now getting a bit lost in the game's story and characters - I'm not a Game of Thrones watcher, but there is something compelling about this multiple choice/menu-based experience, even if it has zero reciprocity when it comes to rewarding you with hard currency.

7. Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff  (TinyCo)
I'm building Quahog Bank for Mort, the Jewish pharmacist. This takes three hours. In the meantime, Quagmire is Giggity Strutting, Chris is Fat Kid Hula Hooping, Peter and Jerome are Ethnically Handshaking, Bruce is Passing Out Flyers, Bonnie is Twerking.

Building a bank for Mort

There's some humour and gameplay in this, but it's currently a slow business.

8. Trials Frontier (RedLynx/Ubisoft)
This is a beautiful-looking game and clearly a lot of thought has gone into the setting and characters/story but the big problem for me is I am terrible at playing Trials-style games. So, given this is a F2P game, I think RedLynx needs to dial back the difficulty level about 99 percent, at least for the first 30 minutes. Falling off every time I tap the controls is not an enjoyable experience.

9. Lionheart Tactics (Emerald City/Kongregate)
As the title suggests, this is a squad-based turn-based tactics games, in which you level and equip up your heroes through plenty of dungeon grinding. Also available on web and Facebook, there's lot of ongoing content, and the art style is great. The only question is whether I can devote enough time to really get into it.

Band of heroes - tactically

10. Little Alchemist (Kongregate)
It's somewhat perverse that I'm enjoying this kids card-battler more than Hearthstone. But the aspect I'm enjoying the most is researching the card combos. Small things please small minds...

11. FarmVille 2: Country Escape (Zynga)
Personally, I'm finding FarmVille 2 an overly complex game in terms of all the different gameplay and social loops that are available, pretty much from the start. The basic 'plant and harvest crops' is the core, but quickly there's a wide range of additional products you can make, as well connections to your Facebook friends in terms of gifting, selling and visiting.

At least the recent update seems to have dropped the loading times from over a minute to around 40 seconds; an improvement of sorts.

12. Hearthstone (Blizzard)
Haven't been playing. See 11.

13. Isolani (DeNA)
Haven't played.

Installed #1: SlingShot Braves (Colopl)
The UI and ecosystem around SlingShot Braves is so Japanese, it would be a big surprise if this game became popular in the west. The billiard-based bounce attack gameplay is certainly interesting, though.

Time to slice slimes

Installed #2:PAC-MAN (GREE/Bandai Namco)
Pac-Man meets Puzzle & Dragons, this colour match game wasn't as terrible as I thought it would be. In fact, despite the totally over-the-top Japanese UX and overly detailed menus, there's a grain of genius in terms of the way the game integrates some aspects of the Pac-Man world (pills, ghosts etc) into the match grid. Nevertheless, it is totally bonkers.

Installed #3: Soul Calibur: Unbreakable Soul (Bandai Namco)
The experience starts badly with a 3 minute content update and then the game hangs. As for the gameplay, it's a beat-'em up but you control your character's movements by selecting action cards. I'm really not making this up. First impressions - I'm not sure this could be any worst.

Reinstalled #1: HonorBound (Juicebox)
After having a chat with the developer, I've decided to give HonorBound< another chance. The game is based on card-collection mechanics but with a more traditional turn-based RPG setting.

Currency conversion

As we discussed, there are some odd design decisions - notably locking off the Fortify (or Fusion) ability - so I've used 207 of my 395 gems (hard currency I was otherwise going to throw away) to unlock the ability and see how/if that opens out the game.

Uninstalled #1: Heroes of Atlan (WeMade)
Continually crashing.

Uninstalled #2: Wind-up Knight 2 (Robot Invader)
A nicely put-together action sidescroller but didn't really have enough going on to keep me interested.

Uninstalled #3: Word Explorer (AppyNation/Jon Hare)
I do feel bad, but just couldn't get into this: I am not really a word game fan anyhow.

Uninstalled #4: Wonder Golf (Paladin/Mobage)
As with so many mini-golf games, this is fun to play but it's not clear to me where the longevity comes into play. As a side note, it's also interesting in being a Mobage game that has almost zero monetisation (just a basic energy system; while the most expensive IAP is just $4.99).

Weekly recap
Installed: 3
Reinstalled: 1
Uninstalled: 4

In Play: 16
To Be Played: 1

Spending: 0
To-date 2014 'Life Time' Value: $28.94

editor-at-large

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at PG.biz which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.

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