The key takeaway from Castle Cats, a new free-to-play mobile game for iOS and Android, is that you can collect adorable feline versions of Harry Potter, Django, Katniss Everdeen and Cthulhu. Also, they are fighting an evil Pugomancer. The rest is a bit fuzzy. The game itself is pretty basic. Players form a party of cats and assign them to timer-based missions according to each animal’s special skills. There’s a mechanic that allows players to speed up battles by tapping on the screen, but once the limited tap energy tapers out, it’s back to just waiting. But while you’re waiting, you get to play with some awesome cats, like Barry here. Collected cats, earned through in-app purchase or randomly found in treasures boxes, begin as basic, unassuming kittens. One of the first major characters I received was Howard, and I had no idea who he was supposed to be referencing until I used a gem to evolve him. Howard P Lovecraft to his friends. How cool is Cathulu here? So cool that I can’t stop tweeting pictures of his tentacled little face. Advertisement READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Angry Birds Evolution, out today on iOS and Android, is a flick-and-spin style mobile game in which players collect and evolve characters like Dolores, the avian doctor with a penchant for vicious rectal exams. Something is causing the pigs to flock to Bird Island in droves, and it’s up to the player to form teams of collectible characters and flick the pigs back to whatever bacon-scented hell they hail from. Like most non-core Angry Birds games, Evolution is a licensed take on a different popular mobile genre. In this case, it’s those games where you launch characters Beyblade-style into an arena, bouncing off enemies to do damage. Players collect and evolve bird characters as they play. Each falls into a color category—red, yellow, blue, black, white and such—and each category has its own special ability that activates during play. Black birds can become targeted bombs. White birds pass through enemies in a straight line, damaging all. It’s a solid entry in the mobile sub-genre. The game plays well, and there’s plenty of strategy and angling involved in taking out the various pigs players are pitted against. READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
GIF Ustwo’s perception puzzle adventure Monument Valley is one of my favorite mobile games. The sequel popped up earlier this week as a surprise announcement during Apple’s WWDC keynote, and it’s every bit as beautiful, relaxing and enjoyable as the first. The original Monument Valley told the story of Ida, a lost princess wandering a world inspired by the works of M.C. Escher. By twisting and turning elements of the game’s levels, players help Ida find her way through the mysterious valley, discovering her purpose in the process. Monument Valley 2, available now for $4.99 on iTunes, is about a different sort of journey—the journey of a parent and child. Players begin the game controlling a character named Ro, whose daughter literally follows in her footsteps, at least at first. As the game progresses the daughter becomes more independent. First she’s a simple AI that attempts to close the distance between herself and her mother as efficiently as possible. Next she’s a fully independent character controlled directly by the player. Our little girl is growing up so fast. If I think too much about it, it reminds me of how quickly my own children READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Popular indie game Skullgirls is now a free-to-play mobile fighting RPG for iOS and Android. And while it does feature some of the annoying free-to-play stuff found in other games in the genre, it’s got a surprisingly complex fighting game to back it up. In many ways Hidden Variable Studios’ mobile side-story to Project Zero Labs’ quirky console and PC fighter is a lot like Kabam’s popular Contest of Champions. Players spend gems to score random Skullgirls characters from gatcha-style loot relics. Special moves for each character are collected in the same fashion. Each character features an elemental affinity that makes them stronger or weaker against the opposing elements. Fire is weak to water but strong against wind. Light and darkness are weak to each other. Pretty standard stuff. Once a team is assembled, players can journey through story chapters held together via a loose narrative. Chapters follow a branching path structure, with some paths offering greater challenge and bigger rewards. As characters level up they gain skill points, which can be applied to a talent tree-style progression system. I am a sucker for talent trees. But it’s READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Neon FM is an EDM-packed arcade rhythm game that’s so good Konami made its own version, but finding an arcade to play it in can be kind of tricky. Fortunately it’s now also a free-to-play mobile game for iOS and Android, which sure beats spending $8,000 on an arcade cabinet. In many ways the Neon FM arcade game feels like a mobile rhythm tapping game in a cabinet, though the project began back in 2005, years before games like Tap Tap Revenge made their way to phones and tablets. Notes descend on a three or five lane track in time with the music. Players must hit them in time in order to score points and keep combos going. It’s pretty basic stuff, but it’s so good. Replacing physical buttons with virtual ones, Neon FM for iOS and Android is essentially the arcade game, only with virtual currency instead of quarters. It’s got the same 100+ songs, with new tracks regularly added to both versions simultaneously. Even better, the mobile version features a set of free play songs that rotate in and out on a weekly basis. Each song features a wide range of difficulty levels, from three READ FULL STORY…
Tell me more of this impulse control. Until Wednesday afternoon I was completely unaware of Heroes of Shadow Guard, a free-to-play dungeon crawler/designer game from Louisiana-based indie studio Iron 27. Then the limited edition keyboard was released. Advertisement Video game themed keyboards aren’t a new thing, but generally they come from large gaming keyboard operations and tie-in to big games like Call of Duty or Overwatch or Star Wars: The Old Republic. Heroes of Shadow Guard is not one of those. Heroes of Shadow Guard is a free-to-play indie game for iOS, Android and PC in which players build and explore old-school 3D RPG labyrinths. Players build dungeons, other players attack them. They can form large guilds to battle together, or take on an extensive single-player campaign. It’s pretty nifty, and I would have completely missed it if a listing for the limited edition Shadow Guard keyboard hadn’t shown up on my go-to keyboard impulse-buy headquarters, MechanicalKeyboards.com. My first reaction was, “Wow, those purple and orange LEDs look really amazing together.” My second was, “What the hell is a Shadow Guard?” The third thought involved spending $109 on a READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Popularized by games like Puzzles & Dragons, mobile match-three puzzles games usually contain overly-complex mechanics, obnoxious microtransactions and a constant stream of ads for the amazing heroes you could get if you just spent enough cash. Take away those things and you get Match Land. Advertisement Developed by Race Cat and available as a free download for iOS and Android devices, Match Land strips away much of what annoys me about standard collectible character puzzle games, resulting in a delightfully streamlined game with an adorable pixel-drawn look. The goal in Match Land is to battle through turn-based match-three puzzle adventures in order to harvest monsters to fuel a series of fantasy shops. Once enough resources are gathered the shop can be opened, producing coins and other resources handy for upgrading the game’s heroes. The heroes themselves are bright and cheery lot, their colors corresponding to the icons that appear in the puzzle sequences. In battle, players are given a set amount of time to make as many matches as possible, after which damage is tallied and dealt. Cute little pixel monsters count down their attacks, READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
While Injustice 2 doesn’t come out until May 16, the free-to-play mobile version is available in soft-launch on iTunes in the Philippines. The three-on-three fighter is far from perfect, but more than up to keeping players in the action during bathroom breaks. Advertisement The mobile version of Injustice 2 is a free-to-play fighter in which teams of three DC Comics heroes and villains beat the living snot out of each other. Players collect gems to unlock chests containing items, characters (or character shards) and currency, constructing and enhancing their roster of heroes and villains into a fighting force of extraordinary magnitude. In the video atop the post you can see my crack team of Batman, Scarecrow and Doctor Fate winning my very first asynchronus arena battle against another players’ team before being completely decimated by one of the game’s single-player boss fights. The Nightmare Team. Combat brings to mind Kabam’s comic book brawler, Contest of Champions. Tap or swipe the right side of the screen to attack, swipe left to dodge or use ranged attacks. There’s a small shield button to touch to block, which I always miss, but READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Random paid character drops in mobile games aren’t new, but I’m really feeling the burn in Kabam’s mobile fighting game Transformers: Forged to Fight. First I missed out on Beast Wars Waspinator. Now I’m not going to get Soundwave. Ugh. Advertisement Because I love the Transformers characters and concept and the fighting isn’t too shabby, I’m willing to suffer through all the extraneous mechanics Kabam’s packed into Forged to Fight. But after missing out on one of my favorite characters and the prospect of another passing me by, my enthusiasm is starting to wane. First I spent the majority of a weekend fighting through arena battles for the chance to acquire Waspinator, the hapless insect and one-time Starscream’s ghost host body from the Beast Wars series. I sat in the bathroom (and probably other places) and did battle against other players’ teams, desperately trying to either earn crystals for a chance to unlock Waspy, or to place on the battle leaderboards. I did neither. Waspinator never gets what Waspinator wants. Advertisement And now we have Soundwave. I spent countless hours talking to READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Games that interact with toys generally release around the same time as their plastic counterparts. Lightseekers figures aren’t out until July 1, but you can play the mobile and card games today. Or I can, and you can watch. Either way. Advertisement Lightseekers is an ambitious toys-to-life (they call it “connected play”) project from a company called PlayFusion. Instead of small plastic statues, Lightseekers has fully-articulated seven-inch tall figures fitted with tiny computers, capable of saving information, powering LED weapon effects and using an accelerometer to act as a game controller. These are toys you (or your kids) will be able to play with. Packed with all sorts of fancy tech, the figure sets are going to be much more expensive than standard toys-to-life fare when they launch this summer, so rather than ask folks to jump into a $70 starter pack blind, PlayFusion’s released the Lightseekers Awakening video game and collectible card game two months ahead of the physical toys. Advertisement The game, available as a free download for iOS and Android, is an ever-expanding action RPG. Players create a Lightseeker character from one READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Mari, one of two Lightseekers races available at launch in July. Lightseekers isn’t another toys-to-life game. It’s got gorgeous articulated figures that talk, vibrate and evolve, powered by a mini-computer. They play in a Diablo-esque mobile adventure and are augmented by a massive standalone trading card game. It’s very impressive, but are people going to buy it? Advertisement Don’t even say “toys-to-life” around a member of PlayFusion, the employee-owned independent game developer and publisher that debuted Lightseekers as a successful Kickstarter last year. During a presentation held at the Tomy booth during the 2017 New York Toy Fair this weekend I was corrected several times. The term they prefer is “connected play.” It makes sense that PlayFusion would want to distance itself from the “toys-to-life” term. It brings to mind games like Activision’s Skylanders, which is taking a year off in 2017 following declining sales of recent installments, and Disney Infinity, which was cancelled in 2016 after three years of success. Both of those franchises features toys that were essentially colorful statues, the characters of which only came to life in their respective games when placed on portal devices connected to READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
vNot correct: Soundscream, Windlady, Optimus Convoy, Stephen, Twila Mobile developer Kabam and Hasbro roll out a new trailer for their upcoming fighting game at Toy Fair 2017 today, demonstrating just how deep and obscure the roster for Transformers: Forged to Fight is going to get. How many do you recognize? Advertisement When Kabam said they were pulling characters from almost every generation of Transformers, they were not kidding. In the shot above we’ve got classic Soundwave, mewcoer Windblade, whichever version of Optimus Prime that is, Rhinox from Beast Wars (showing off the liberty being taken with scale) and bad old Bludgeon. You want more? Look: Transformers: Forged to Fight arrives on iOS and Android this spring. READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Just when you thought it was safe to stop summoning characters in Fire Emblem Heroes the first major update hits, bringing for new sibling characters to the game, along with a limited-time series of Paralogue quests celebrating their family bonds. Advertisement The launch summoning focus events have ended, making way for the Family Bonds Summoning event. Brother and sister teams Ephraim and Elrika from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones and Seliph and Julia from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War are now up for grabs. Along with the new crazy pairs comes the first series of Paralogue story extension maps, a trio of battles featuring the new characters in action. Players can also complete a series of Family Bonds missions for special rewards. I’ve managed to snag Elrika so far, but she’s awfully lonely without her brother. Dammit, Nintendo. READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
One of the first games I download whenever I get a new phone or tablet is Deemo, a touching tale of love, loss and sacrifice told through a piano-esque rhythm game. PM Studios and acttil are bringing the game to PlayStation Vita this spring. Advertisement I’ve been waiting to add Deemo: The Last Recital to my Vita collection since it was released in Japan back in 2015. The PSN version of the game collects more than 100 songs released through various DLC packs for the mobile version of the game into one lovely package, with additional story bits and fully animated cutscenes. Deemo is the story of a strange, piano-playing creature whose somber world is interrupted by the arrival of a young girl. Over the course of game the two grow closer and closer, until the true nature of their relationship is revealed and everyone is sad forever. It’s so good. Look for it in a couple of months. READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!