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Posts tagged with "games"

Animal Crossing Debuts on iOS a Day Earlier Than Expected

This past Friday, Nintendo America announced via Twitter that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp would be available on iOS worldwide on November 22nd.

Instead, the game showed up unexpectedly early on November 21st. This isn’t the first time Nintendo has surprised fans with an early release. In September, after announcing a release date for a major update to Super Mario Run on the App Store, Nintendo released that game a day early too.

In a move that may be in response to complaints that some levels of Super Mario Run required an in-app purchase, Animal Crossing is up front about its pricing, imposing a popup during the setup process that explains that Leaf Tickets, which are an in-game currency, can be purchased, but are optional. Before you can get started, there are also other instructions and a 99 MB update to download. It’s a laborious process but doesn’t take long if you have a good Internet connection.

Animal Crossing is based on Nintendo’s 3DS title Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Welcome amiibo and includes some of the same characters. You play as the manager of a campground, building your campsite and interacting with animals you meet. As you play, you collect items and complete tasks for the animals you meet. The materials you collect are used to craft items to decorate your campsite. Leaf Tickets, which you can earn in-game or purchase as an In-App Purchase can be used to purchase accessories for your campsite or speed up the construction of items.

I have only just scratched the surface of Animal Crossing, but it looks great, especially on an iPhone X. The game’s colors are vivid, and it takes full advantage of the iPhone X’s display. While not as deep as the Animal Crossing games available on Nintendo’s hardware, Pocket Camp looks like a fun way to spend some time over the long Thanksgiving weekend in the US. I’m also looking forward to connecting with friends who have Nintendo accounts to see what kinds of campsites they build.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is available on the App Store as a free download.

The High Stakes Secret Release of Monument Valley 2

Monument Valley 2 was announced and released during the WWDC keynote this past June. Andrew Webster at The Verge talked to the team behind the game about keeping the sequel a secret and the success the game has enjoyed in the subsequent months.

Since WWDC, the follow-on to one of the biggest App Store hits in recent years is selling well, including in China where sales are greater than in the US. Still, it remains to be seen whether ustwo’s latest release can match the original, which did even better in its second year on the App Store. Asked about how that kind of success can be replicated, ustwo head Dan Gray said:

“Your game needs to operate on a number of levels — at least that’s how we work,” he says. “When we think about how kids interact with Monument Valley, they treat it like a toy. There are these amazing structures, and it’s very tactile, there’s a lot of audiovisual feedback. That’s the most simple form of interaction. And then there are the people who understand the basic premise. In Monument Valley 2, that is a mother and child trying to solve problems together. Then there are the people who talk on internet forums and Twitter, and have really high-level, deep discussion.”

The Verge’s profile coincides with the release of a behind-the-scenes video created by ustwo that follows its team as they fly to San Jose and reveal Monument Valley 2 to the world.


Nintendo Disappointed by Super Mario Run Profits

As part of its earnings report, Nintendo announced today that its iOS game, Super Mario Run, has not yet reached ‘acceptable profits.’ At this point, nearly a year after the game’s debut, it’s hard to imagine when, if ever, that point will be reached barring a major shift in the game’s business model.

Super Mario Run took the App Store by storm in December 2016 breaking download records and topping the charts around the globe. But the game, which is free to download costs $9.99 to unlock all the levels. That’s a steep price by App Store standards for games. About a month later, the Wall Street Journal reported that Super Mario Run had been downloaded 78 million times and earned $53 million in revenue.

In contrast, Nintendo says that Fire Emblem, which was released in February and features a free-to-play model, has met its profit objectives. The same in-game consumables model has been adopted for Animal Crossing: Pocket Park, which is available in Australia and New Zealand but won’t debut in the rest of the world until late November.

I’m not a fan of free-to-play games in general, although they can be done tastefully. Perhaps Nintendo’s profit expectations for Super Mario Run were too optimistic from the start, but it’s hard to argue against free-to-play for a company like Nintendo when even its most beloved franchise is perceived a failure on mobile platforms.

Motherboard Reviews Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Most of the world has to wait until late November for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp to arrive on iOS, but if you live in Australia or New Zealand, you can play the game now. Jed Whitaker has an early review at Motherboard where he provides additional details about the game’s free-to-play mechanic and stacks it up against Animal Crossing: New Leaf, a 3DS game on which Pocket Camp is based.

According to Whitaker:

One major change to the Animal Crossing formula here is that almost all items must be crafted instead of simply purchased, and the time it takes to craft something passes in real time. The game starts out by having every item only take one minute to craft, but three hours in, wait times get much longer, and you can pay real world money to purchase the premium currency, Leaf Tickets. These can be used to craft items instantly and to basically speed up every facet of the game.

Wait times in Pocket Camp are three hours. By comparison, New Leaf wait times are three days, which Whitaker points out should make Pocket Camp more tolerable to fans of the franchise. Still, if you simply must have an item right away and can’t wait a few hours, you can buy Leaf Tickets as an In-App Purchase.

Fans of the Animal Crossing series may also need to lower their expectations a little. At launch, there are only 40 animals to befriend in Pocket Camp, a small number compared to the over 300 available in New Leaf. Still, even if it’s not as deep as other incarnations of the series, Pocket Camp looks as though it strikes a good balance that should make the free-to-play aspects of it tolerable.


Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp Is Coming to iOS

Nintendo has announced that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will be released on iOS and Android. The game, which follows a free-to-play model like Fire Emblem Heroes that debuted earlier this year, will be familiar to anyone who has played other titles of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing franchise. Originally expected by March 2017 along with three other games, Nintendo’s latest iOS game will be released in late November 2017, although it is already available in Australia.

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Game Day: Fowlst

Sometimes the best distraction from a frantic and chaotic day is an even more frantic and chaotic game. Fowlst, which developer CatCup Games, describes as ‘an action game about an owl that is trapped in Hell for some reason’ is perfect for just such an occasion.

Fowlst is an arcade-style action, dodging game. You play as the owl, pursued by demons that shoot lasers at you while you try to avoid buzzsaws, fire, and other obstacles. The game gets crazy fast.

The mechanics remind me of Don’t Grind, one of my favorite arcade-style games released last year. You control your owl by tapping on the left and right-hand sides of the screen, which makes your owl fly in a bouncy kind of way in the direction of your taps. The controls purposefully require a careful coordination of left and right taps to navigate your owl. Power-ups are activated by swiping up on the screen. It’s a simple control scheme that makes Fowlst easy to pick up and start playing, but difficult to master.

Demons are defeated by colliding with them before you run out of hearts from being hit by lasers or other obstacles. Unlike Don’t Grind, you don’t have to keep your owl aloft constantly. You can rest on the bottom of any stage or a perch, but constantly moving helps make it harder for the demons to get you. There are also periodic bosses theoughout the game to mix up the pace of the action.

When you defeat a demon, it’s replaced with a floating sack of money and occasionally a heart or power-up that disappears after a few seconds. To collect items, you need to steer your owl into them while simultaneously dealing with other demons and obstacles. The cash you collect can be spent to upgrade your owl with health and weapons.

The game ends when you run out of hearts. Fowlst then tallies the money you collected, the number of levels cleared and shows how you did compared to your high score, which has the effect of making the game wonderfully-compulsive to play. Fowlst keeps things interesting by randomizing the levels you are presented each time you play through. It’s a carefully struck balance that keeps the gameplay familiar enough to avoid frustration but also avoids becoming monotonous.

Fowlst combines its arcade action with pixelated art, a complementary chiptune soundtrack, and lots of ‘pew-pew’ laser sound effects. The result is an addictive arcade game that has almost no learning curve and is easy to pick up and play for short periods of time but is difficult to master and hard to put down. It’s a perfect combination for a mobile game, making Fowlst a title I’m going to be returning to often.

Fowlst is available on the App Store.