Marvel Snap

The Game

Marvel have joined the world of online multiplayer card games with their entry – Marvel Snap, published by Nuverse. The game is card collection and battling game which lets you collect all your favourite Marvel superheroes and villains and put your skills to the test against other players. The actual battles are quite simple and most importantly for a mobile game – quick to play. Each game has 3 locations at which players put their cards. All 3 locations start out hidden with one revealing each of the first 3 turns. Each location will be randomised and have some sort of modifier that can apply to specific cards, the entire location or even the entire game. Players need to try and win 2 out of 3 locations to win the game where each card’s power contributes to the player’s score at a specific location.

The stakes are then raised even more with the snap mechanic – this allows players to up the amount of rank points they get from each game or to force their opponent to retreat early. Winning a normal game would grant 2 points towards the next rank, if one player has snapped that doubles to 4, if both players have snapped it goes all the way up to 8. The game features daily missions that are drip fed every few hours, all sorts of card variants and the ability to upgrade the appearance of your cards. Upgrading cards is also the way players can progress their collection level allowing them to unlock new and powerful cards.

Worth it?

The game concept and mechanics are brilliantly simple yet effective. The duration of the game is probably it’s strongest point – 6 turns (around 3 minutes) present an excellent challenge and even though you sometimes feel like you could do with a turn or two more, pulling off the perfect combo in 6 turns is highly satisfying. The game is extremely fast paced and can turn in an instant. The Snap mechanic also adds an element of player tactics and mind games. There are a few areas where some improvement could be made like access to stats, new mission frequency, perhaps a 30/30 weekly missions target, ability to add and battle friends or view and compare collections. There is also potential for some more weird and wacky weekly game modes with crazy combos – similar to the tavern brawls in Hearthstone.

Overall it’s a great addition to mobile card games and is a truly mobile game in terms of game length – giving it an edge against competition like Hearthstone, Legends of Runeterra or Gwent. While there’s no explicit pay to win, paying for Season/Battle Pass can help speed up progress towards upgrading and unlocking new cards, although at £8.99 it is fairly difficult to justify. The visual upgrading of cards is a nice reward for using them more frequently and the rainbow variants ensures there’s always something to be upgrading and grinding for. The game’s high production value and addictive gameplay make it ideal for both long grinds or quick time-killing sessions.

Tips

  • Try not to fill a location too early in the game, especially if you have no way of buffing those cards
  • You should be able to create an early Ongoing deck quite quickly to get you through the early ranks
  • Only spend credits on upgrading your cards (getting them through the shop is more expensive)
  • Spend your gold on credits
  • The higher tier the card upgrade the more it will cost and the more points it will give you
  • Theme decks around key mechanics and 1-2 really good synergies, and a couple smaller ones
  • You can sometimes snap on the last turn if you’ve already ended your turn but the opponent hasn’t – particularly useful if you have forgotten to snap
  • You can copy and paste deck codes to share with friends (share button in deck creation)
  • Play with different decks, experiment – don’t feel precious about ranks (unless someone has snapped)
  • The higher your collection level the rarer the cards you will get – Collection Level 486+ is where the Series Five/Ultra Rare cards are found

Useful Links

Survivor.io

The Game

Survivor.io is a game by Habby in which you survive and onslaught of enemies while upgrading your weapons and equipment. Similar to most other survival roguelike bullet-hell type games you kill enemies, collect XP and pick from 3 possible weapons or equipment. You can only carry 6 weapons and 6 pieces of equipment so choose wisely, especially when it comes to the equipment because nearly every weapon is paired with a piece of equipment allowing that weapon to be evolved when it’s reached it’s maximum upgrade level. Evolved weapons are extremely powerful and very useful for beating levels.

The game progresses through levels – each lasting from 6 to 15 minutes of progressively harder enemies and bosses. There are also additional challenge modes that will make past levels even harder and push you to the limit. These will give you evolution points which allow you to unlock some really useful upgrades. As you progress in the game your character will also level up and allow you to upgrade their stats with cash. The gatcha element also comes in with your characters equipment – you open loot boxes and merge duplicates as you try to improve the quality of your equipment from common to legendary. There are unique seasonal and daily challenges and over 50 chapters to the game with more being added.

Worth it?

Overall the game is really addictive at the start with lots to try and quick progress. As you progress through the levels you will also gain access the new weapons giving the game even more variety. The concept is something we’ve seen done plenty of times and Survivor.io does it quite well – limiting the time for levels and regular bosses. The game also throws some challenge levels your way which are a great way to unlock additional abilities and also push yourself a little harder. The game has a variety of elements to keep you logging in regularly – coins, daily challenges, login bonuses etc, although after the initial 7 day bonuses there is a bit less there to keep you coming back. Premium currency gems are fairly easy to gain from achievements and daily tasks which is a nice touch, meaning you don’t need to spend real money. The merging mechanic on gear only really starts to pay dividends after you’ve opened quite a few crates (definitely a worthy investment).

The game is good for slightly longer play sessions with most successful runs lasting 8 to 15 minutes, but the game does do a good job of recovering previous play data should you need to cut your session short. Overall it’s a fun game and quite addictive with a lot of levels to unpack and skills to upgrade, it has a nice difficulty scale. Ultimately it does get a bit repetitive after some time, but will definitely keep you hooked for some considerable time.

Tips

  • Consider what items you will need in order to evolve your weapons
  • The guardian/force barrier is extremely useful early game against enemies with lower health
  • Some weapons share an evolution item, this can allow you to carry extra items that don’t evolve anything
  • Avoid and kite large groups of enemies
  • Look out for bombs and magnets from crates
  • Spend gems on S grade supplies, gems are quite easy to earn through regular play
  • The fully upgraded drill is very good for hard bosses as it will target them non stop
  • You can grind 8min levels for gold as they complete faster and you get good gold from bosses

Useful Links

Equip Master

The Game

Equip Master is an early access android game by JYSGames that simply let’s you manage and utilise vast quantities of equipment in idle combat. The premise of the game is to acquire gear through various gatcha means and by completing levels where you fight mobs. As you gather more equipment you can merge it into more and more powerful versions. There are 5 keys stats that the equipment affects – health, defence, ATK damage, fire and ice damage. There are also various resistances, lifesteal, crit chances and speed that can also be affected by your equipment. Some items will also have special abilities that allow you to summon minions or poison an enemy, for example. As you progress you unlock more ways to spend your time in the game like PvP and more ways to collect new equipment. Combat itself happens fully automatically and usually just consists of random weapons and spells being used on enemies. Some items will have special abilities which can make these fights even more chaotic sometimes.

Worth it?

Overall the game isn’t too dissimilar to other mobile gatcha games with various merge type mechanic, however there is something oddly addictive about having incredibly powerful armour (even if it means you’ve essentially equipped 4 sets of boots and 3 chest pieces). There is some sort of storyline that doesn’t really matter as it’s in the levels where you truly get to test out your equipment. Each area you fight in will have various special areas to complete that will add to your idle production capabilities. Some levels will have powerful bosses at the end (some boss descriptions/tips could be more useful). It would be nice to see the game get a bit more visual polish – for example different skins/looks for enemies. There are moments when you do just need to wait a bit to get the exp to level up and beat a level, which prevents you from power-levelling through the game and rather coming back every so often. Grinding resources which let you upgrade your equipment is very slow and the yields from the idle methods can be quite low, even when upgraded. There are plenty of ways to earn gems (premium currency) in game which is always a nice touch as it means you don’t have actually spend crazy amounts of money to properly enjoy the game. If you’re looking for an idle game that will keep you coming back for 5-10minute sessions every few hours then this should scratch that itch.

Tips

  • If you get close to beating an enemy or boss it’s always worth retrying a couple times as the RNG may be on your side the next time
  • Prioritise spending your diamonds on unlocking more bag space
  • When merging items try and merge into the highest level item as upgrading items can get very expensive
  • Upgrade the Equipt Collected quality and Flea Market “Gold Mine” (most likely should just be “Quantity”) and Quality in order to get higher quality equipment for merging
  • Use your free gatcha pass (or watch the video) on statues once you’ve unlocked them as waiting for the free one can take a while
  • Keep your fights on 2x to grind faster

Useful Links

Melvor Idle

The Game

Melvor Idle developed by Games by Malcs and published by Jagex brands itself as a Runescape inspired idle game. The premise of the game is quite simple – a huge variety of interconnected skills that you can level up in various ways. The list of skills includes things like woodcutting, mining, smithing and farming with even more being available in the premium version. You can grind these while you afk or idle, as each skill level increases you can unlock more aspects of it. All the various skills are interconnected – the items you get from one may be used on another skill, which then in turn will impact or allow you to do something in yet another. From crafting items to fishing there are plenty of ways to make money in the game.

The premium version will unlock quite a few additional skills that will allow you to develop even further, explore new areas in combat as a Slayer. It adds some pretty interesting elements like summoning which can give you the ability to enhance the yields from other skills each time you complete them. The combat also has a surprising amount of depth with a variety of enemies and areas to fight in, dungeons to take on and even Slayer quests that challenge you to take on specific enemies.

Worth it?

The full version of the game will set you back around £8.99 but for that you do get quite a good amount of new skills to level up. Getting the premium version early in the game pays off as a lot of that early loot can be used to level up a lot of the other abilities. While it does feel like it is a bit on the expensive side it does provide quite a lot of additional gameplay so it can be somewhat justified. 15-20% cheaper would make it an obvious choice.

Overall the game is highly addictive, the sheer amount of skills to level up and the way they are all interconnected make for a really good idle experience. The combat also adds another layer to the game, especially for more active play. The game is well thought out, simple and really delivers in terms of depth. As far as idle games go, this one is definitely worth checking out and will keep you coming back for ages.

Tips

  • Sometimes you need to scroll down once you’ve selected an option to see more details
  • Mining is a good skill to focus on initially as it links to smithing, which is a great way to make money, armour and other useful items
  • Coal is really important in a lot of smithing recipes
  • You can get coal from firemaking or mining
  • You can get seeds for farming from woodcutting (via bird’s nests) or from fighting farmers in the farmlands
  • Check what upgrades you can use your bars (or other items) for before selling them off
  • Don’t bother with armour upgrading until you’re at least with Mithril armour or higher level
  • You can view your pets and their bonuses from the completion tab
  • If you need to improve your block/attack rating for new gear you can just grind an easy mob for an extended period of time
  • Try and get the Amulet of Looting as early as possible from the Spider Forest dungeon
  • Check out the beginners guide on the wiki: https://wiki.melvoridle.com/w/Beginners_Guide

Useful Links

Dunidle

The Game

Dunidle or as it’s listed in the Play store Dunidle: 2D AFK Idle RPG Quest is a game by ARMII Games. The game is a pixel graphics dungeon game in which you send a team of adventurers on a run of a dungeon to see how many floors they can make it up before they die. Then you just sit back and watch them die over and over again (or make their way up the floors, only to be crushed by a boss or mob on the next floor). After a short tutorial you are left to figure things out on your own as you can begin upgrading your heroes, their abilities and stats, various global upgrades such as gold generators, speeding up the gameplay and acquiring new equipment.

Initially it appears as quite a simple and shallow game, however as you complete the first 100 floors and defeat the boss at the end you are introduced to Legendary Artifacts that drop from bosses and to the “next universe” (or prestige) mechanic in which you can restart by resetting some of your upgrades. The game also features Hell Rifts which server as a type of premium dungeon in which you need to defeat 50 floors for some pretty premium prizes including Legendary Runes and some really special weapons. After you defeat your first 100th floor boss and start taking on Hell Rifts is where the game really begins – grinding for better weapons, upgrading them through shards, selecting specific runes to apply to those weapons. The game even features purchasable skins for your adventurers, which you can even get from the daily rewards.

Worth it?

Overall Dunidle comes across as a very unassuming game, but it’s one of those that just keeps on giving the more you play it. It keeps you coming back regularly and challenging you to push further and further and unlock more and more. The game looks amazing and has a great deal of variety in terms of equipment, types of adventurer, enemies and bosses.

There are few issues with the game that would make it a true masterclass. Things like knowing how many levels are gained each run (like the cash). Some usability issues like showing the inventory, while with the equipment shop or an easy way to transition between the two and some of the colour coding of gear. My only other suggestion would be introducing some sort of player activated spells or some way to speed the game up as a way to break up just the gameplay and make it a little less passive and a bit more active of a game.

The game is good for medium play sessions and once you get “the fastest man alive” upgrade you can do a lot more in an even shorter time. It keeps you coming regularly back to collect gold from your factory and XP from your meditation. There is a way to earn premium currency through playing as well (even though it is the most expensive upgrade). There are also a few packages, one of which will remove ads for you (for £4.99), but it must be said that overall the ads aren’t very intrusive – which makes for a very enjoyable experience and uninterrupted gameplay. After a few universe progressions and bosses it does begin to get a bit repetitive, but will definitely have you hooked for a while.

Tips

  • Prioritise the gold factory
  • Once you’ve maxed out gold factory and meditation purchase all heroes so that you can grind XP on all of them (not necessarily needed if you don’t want all, but they are worth trying)
  • Ensure you have the Universe gift upgrade before proceeding to the next universe
  • Purple (permanent) upgrades in the Party Upgrades menu are permanent even when you go to the next universe
  • Warp and fastest man alive make the gameplay a lot faster and will allow you to get through dungeons at breakneck speeds
  • Necromancers are very good for clearing levels quick as they deal damage to all enemies
  • The Reaper can keep one of your adventurers alive for a limited time after they have died
  • After you have beaten the first boss get the ability to auto-restart and grind the boss level
  • Focus on the transmuting bonus Legendary Artifact as soon as you get it as it will get you more from your souls
  • Weapons can be upgraded with rune sockets (runes drop from hell rifts) – however this will cost you gems and is likely the best use for gems
  • After you progress to 2nd universe you can start doing Hell Rifts – keys for these can be bought with gems or can be earned by watching videos, you will likely be able to do Hell Rift 2 after the first boss – they will give you Legendary Runes and legendary gear

Useful Links

Dicey Elementalist

The Game

Dicey Elements by DoubleThink Games is yet another rogue-like deck building dungeon crawler game. The game starts out by introducing you to its key mechanic, rolling a set of dice which determine what cards you can play. The dice effective function as mana with each move requiring a certain number or combination of dice. You can choose to hold dice and reroll others for better combos. You can only ever have six cards in play so you will have to be selective as your deck expands on your adventure. Enemies get harder as you progress and each one you defeat will give you gold (which can be used within the dungeon), stardust (used for permanent upgrades outside the dungeon) and exp (to level you up). Initially there’s only one character (The Fearless) to be played on the most basic mode (NormalMode), additional characters can be purchased and the additional modes are unlocked as you complete the previous mode.

As you navigate the dungeons, each room will have 1 – 3 exits and an enemy, shop or loot inside. If there’s an enemy you will need to defeat them before progressing. There’s a decent variety of enemies, some with special artifacts or powerful cards that will really challenge you. As you progress you will get rarer and better cards and be able to customise your deck to pull of some truly impressive combos. You will also unlock the ability to craft potions using Element Stones – some potions can be particularly useful in a pinch. You will be able to upgrade your adventure permanently through the Adventure Reform upgrade menu, as well as unlock some permanent features like blacksmiths and black marketers or even the arcade section of the tavern, which features a series of arcade games where you win tickets (although it’s not quite clear what the use of these tickets is). This section also features the daily challenge, which will feature a random character – disappointingly you cannot play unless you own the character (this could have served as a nice preview of various characters in order to help me choose which to purchase).

Worth it?

The game is free to play and ads are only there if you want them – in the guise of a fairy which can offer you a random prize (ranging from gold to epic artifacts) or a revive if you die. You can play the game without either of these two. There are some slightly annoying ad banners on screen, but for a free game this is to be expected somewhat. The additional characters all cost various prices – The Stealthy can be picked up with in-game currency (gems), The Chanter will set you back $0.99, while The Prophet, The Telepathic and The Greedy are $1.99 each. There is also a purchase available for additional level up rewards for $2.99. My biggest issue with the pricing of all of these is that there’s no bundle or overall purchase where I could get everything for a reasonable price. $1.99 per character is a little bit expensive, The Chanter seems to have the perfect price, however it would be nice if all characters were still purchasable with premium currency so as to make it technically possible to purchase by purely playing the game. Also none of these purchases remove ads (separate purchase), it would be nice to know that if I am spending money on a game it will at least remove the annoying banners in game. There are also the occasional grammar or spelling issues throughout the game.

Overall, the aesthetic of the game and the sound are quite unique and very enjoyable. The overall gameplay loop isn’t anything too new or innovative, but the use of the dice as mana and throughout the game works really well. A successful run will usually take around an hour to an hour and a half depending on difficulty, but if you ever have to pause or quit, the game does a good job of recording your progress. With the adventure reform and several characters to unlock and play and a variety of difficulties and challenges there really is quite a bit to unpack and get stuck into. It’s a great game, good for medium-longer play times, but can also be picked up and dropped for short sessions.

Tips

  • If a card is on fire it will deal damage to you for using it
  • Red doors are basic enemies, Pink doors are elites, exclamation marks lead to a dice battle
  • Elites drop better loot
  • Artifacts are OP, but you can only carry 10 so think carefully about which 10 are active at any point in time
  • Spells or abilities that restore health are very useful
  • Remember to craft potions using your Elemental Stones, but you are unlikely to need them on easier runs
  • Unlock the blacksmith from the Adventure Reform as he will allow you to upgrade and sell cards
  • “Pick up” from the adventure reform unlocks the arcade/casino area
  • Having the Black Market Merchant (All for Cash) in the tavern isn’t really worth it although he does allow you to complete quests for small premium currency awards
  • Different characters synergise better with different decks and playstyles – the game is all about getting the right combos of cards, artifacts and that little bit of luck
  • Don’t overload your hand with hard requirement cards as it could make it very difficult for you to actually play any in a turn
  • If you have a lot of cards of 1 element, try and get some with 1/2 Pair requirements as these can be used with any cards and won’t leave you stuck with nothing to use
  • Cards that generate other cards are extremely useful (just make sure to use them when you have space for the new cards) – generating new cards allows your turn to go on for longer and for you to deliver even more damage (same goes for temp cards or the Soul Flame artifact)
  • Be careful with the Light Scythe artifact because if you have a “the next time you deal damage” card that will trigger for the hit of the Light Scythe

Useful Links

Pokémon Unbound – FireRed ROM Hack

The Game

Whether you are familiar with ROM Hacks or not, Pokémon Unbound by Skeli Games is an absolute must play for Pokémon fans. The fan made game outdoes pretty much any of the official games in every single aspect. Pokémon Unbound features Pokémon up to Gen VII, a completely original story and region known as Borrius. In addition to this there are a bunch of amazing quality of life improvements like the ability to auto-run, turbo modes on bikes and surfing, the ability to use HMs without having to actually teach them and exp share amongst the entire team.

The start of the game gives you a bit of backstory about the region, the story of a war fought between regions, rulers and Pokémon, until an ultra-powerful Pokémon was used by the king of Borrius to end the war with some unforeseen consequences. We are also shown a trainer who throws a powerful Pokémon into the sea, hoping it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands (which predictably it does). 15 years later your adventure begins: the game starts you out with a character customisation screen, quite unlike most traditional Pokémon games. After you’ve just from a decent palette of skin tones, hair colours, clothes colours you are ready to embark on your journey. Things take a turn quite quickly though and you are abducted to the secret base of the local evil organisation where you get to chose your started – Gabite, Beldum or Larvitar and you also get to meet your rival. Once you’ve fought your way out you meet Professor Log and your adventure begins in earnest. The game follows the age old recipe of 8 gyms, elite four and champion with a good deal of interaction and distraction from the Shadows – the evil organisation attempting to end the world. The story is really gripping with plenty of plot twists and surprises. You see and fight loads of legendary Pokémon and are even transported to other dimensions.

There are loads of nods to other games and regions, there are even Sinnoh trainers like Cynthia or Candice that appear; in the post-game you even run into Red. The game is so packed with content that it puts most “real” Pokémon games to shame. The questing system provides an entire new layer as you can keep track of all the various tasks you’ve accepted to help people around the region and earn some really nice rewards. The game will also allow you to Mega evolve Pokémon, battle and catch Gigantamax Pokémon and use Z-power moves. And if the main game wasn’t enough the post-game has been fleshed out with a Battle Frontier, the ability to catch virtually every legendary Pokémon ever released, different challengers after beating the Elite 4 and many more quests and surprises.

Worth it?

This game, like all ROMHacks is 100% free. Made by a passionate and dedicated community this game easily outshines many official release Pokémon games. The game allows you to catch and train Pokémon from some of the newest generations and will keep you busy for tens of hours. The game also comes with completed post-game and daily events adding even more hours of content. There is also plenty of information about the game on the wiki and various reddit pages, although admittedly some of it is for slightly outdated versions of the game. The configurable difficulties and scaling enemies also ensure that you’re always being challenged, but be weary of over-levelling any of your Pokémon as that will raise the level of your enemies. My only criticism (and it’s been really hard to come up with some) is the ability to skip some of the sliding puzzles after several attempts or time that has elapsed.

Overall the brilliant story, amazing original sprites, attention to detail and quality of life improvements make this an absolute must play for any fans of the traditional Pokémon games. Get a good mobile emulator like MyBoy! and you can play this on your phone – almost as good as playing it on your GBA or GBA SP. I highly recommend this to any and all Pokémon fans, especially if you’ve got a case of nostalgia or if you have played all the old games and are looking for something new.

Tips

  • You can get a shiny Elekid egg from completing the quest “The Rogue Electivire”
  • There are houses dotted around the map with people who will give you a choice of the 3 starters from a specific region, they will give you the others depending on how many gyms you have – Gen IV is in Dehara City, Gen V is on route 5, Gen VII is in Seaport City
  • You can get the eggs for Gen I and Gen VI starters from the Day-care Man’s sister in Magnolia town
  • Every 5 Pokémon in the Safari zone you will get a chance to catch one of the Gen III starters
  • Most routes have a special elite trainer who will only battle you after you’ve defeated all other trainers on that route
  • You don’t need all lights on in the Dehara Gym – some need to remain off in order to pass all the gates
  • The Regi caves will unlock after you complete the Tomb of Borrius – Regice cave is in the forest near Blizzard City, Regirock cave is in the Great Desert, Registeel is on route 18 just to the west of the waterfall before Victory Road
  • After completing the Regigigas mission for the guy in Tehl Town he will upgrade your Amulet Coin/Luck incense to increase the amount of cash they get you by giving him Big Nuggets
  • You can earn Big Nuggets by completing the daily Pep Quiz in Magnolia Town
  • A lady in the Mission HQ in Fallshore City will upgrade your Lucky Eggs in return for Big Pearls – you can get these by using thief on Clamperls when diving
  • You can avoid being spotted by the Dusclops in the Tomb of Borrius by disabling auto-run
  • You can get the starters you didn’t pick by visiting your rival’s house and the secret base that you’re abducted to in the beginning of the game
  • The best way to farm Light Clay for the ADM is by catching/using thief on Baltoy in the Ruins of the Void. If you use a Pokémon with Compound Eyes that will increase the chance that the pokemon holds an item. Get your hands on the DexNav as well in order to chain the Baltoys
  • You can use repels with the DexNav in order to EV farm and increase your chance of shinies
  • One of Professor Log’s assistants in Frozen Heights can let you look at a Pokémon’s IVs and EVs, along with all the moves they can learn and even give you an item to do so when you please
  • Most missions that have multiple objectives to collect can be expanded to see the location of these
  • Legendries that don’t appear from portals usually just require you to stand in a specific place (usually in the middle of a cliff overlooking an edge – like the birds, Rayquaza, etc)

Useful Links

Pokémon Gaia – FireRed ROM Hack

The Game

I have always been a massive fan of the Pokémon series of games – especially the older GameBoy Advance and Nintendo DS versions of the game. Games like Pokémon Sapphire or Pokémon FireRed were my childhood. Recently I have replied a lot of them on emulators (which I will review in a separate post) on my phone and it has been an amazing nostalgia trip. As I replayed these games I started discovering ROMHack versions of the games. I have known these exist for a while but never bothered giving them a go, and I was really missing out.

Pokémon Gaia is a FireRed ROMHack made by Spherical Ice. The hack completely alters the game with an amazing original story seeing you through the typical storyline of beating gyms and the league, defeating an evil organisation all while creating the ultimate team of Pokémon. The game is set in a fictional region known as Orbtus. The game features Pokémon from up to Gen 6 from the regions of Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova and Kalos. The game includes updated move sets, items, mega evolutions, fairy types, reusable TMs and more.

The story follows the established model of a young teen who leaves home in the quest to become an amazing Pokémon trainer. As you and your rival progress through the world you will encounter members of an evil organisation intent on controlling the world by using the power of legendary Pokémon (in this case it’s Regice, Regirock, Registeel and Regigigas). Battle them and the many trainers of the region, discover all Pokemon from newer generations and take on the Pokémon League in this amazing fan made passion project (which might as well be an original release). The region of Orbtus is well fleshed out with a variety of cities, biomes, areas and an interesting history.

Worth it?

Replaying old Pokémon games on an emulator is free and an a great nostalgia trip. Playing these fan-made ROMHacks is also free and an amazing experience. Like many other ROMHacks this was made by fans of the franchise, working for no profit but purely the love of Pokémon games. The game story, the amount of detail and work that has gone in are truly remarkable. Being able to catch Pokémon up to Gen 6 and use all new moves or functionality (like Mega Evolutions) is awesome – especially for those who don’t really appreciate the new style of games as much, who haven’t had a chance to play on DS or Switch or who would like to relive new experiences on the older engines.

Overall, if you have not played any ROMHacks before, Pokémon Gaia is a good introduction. While in its current state there isn’t much of a post-league game, the story, events, gyms and Elite Four are all really well done and fleshed out. It would be nice to see the Regis as catchable after the main story concludes and maybe some additional challenges or high-level trainers. The game really feels like it could be an official entry to the series. The use of the Regis as the legendary Pokémon for the focus of the story is quite different and almost provides a bit of a fictional backstory. For me the ideal way to play is on my phone and a good emulator will set you back around £3, but there are some decent free options too. The game will keep you busy for quite a while, especially if you decide to take your time and talk to people or help out where you can.

Tips

  • You can get Deoxys once you have Strength in the Cosmic Caverns
  • You can catch Rayquaza once you have waterfall in the Emerald Peak just outside Nestpine Town
  • The best place to use the VS seeker is in the area just before the nurse on Victory Road – there are 3 Ace Trainers in view which are all quite easy to beat
  • You can find the coin case inside one of the warehouses in Telmurk city – the same one with the Rotom appliances
  • You can get the Amulet Coin quite early on by buying it from a guy in Aerous City for $5000
  • You can turn fossils into Pokémon at the Professor’s house – upstairs
  • You can play on 2x speed with most emulators which makes the whole experience that little bit better
  • To set up the ROMHack download FireRed (Squirrels) and then apply the patch to it, then simply load up the newly patched FireRed (you may want to rename it) into an emulator and off you go

Useful Links

Idle Fortress Tower Defense (Early Access)

The Game

Idle Fortress Tower Defense is an early access game by DD Games. As suggested by the fairly generic name it’s a simple game with a simple premise – upgrade your fortress and defeat an onslaught of enemy waves. The concept of an idle tower defence game was something that intrigued me, however I was a little disappointed that this game isn’t really what I would call an “idle”.

The game has quite a typical mobile cartoony art style that works quite nicely. The core gameplay loop is doing runs in which you see how many waves you can last. You can upgrade your tower heavily throughout the battle with silver coins that you earn. During your run you will also earn gold which can be used to permanently upgrade your tower at the factory or research lab. Every 10 waves a buffed up boss will also appear, providing a significant challenge. There are plenty of upgrades to unlock including a variety of shot types, satellites, health and defence upgrades.

Worth it?

The game is free to play and still in development. Even while I have been playing for the last couple of weeks quite a few things have changed and while some things like watching ads currently seems to be disabled, it does generally keep getting better updates. Ad watching is only there to increase the amount earned from a run and generally not intrusive. I wouldn’t really call this an “idle” game due to the fact that you actually have to be quite active when doing a run and being selective of what gets upgrade. The only idle element is the gem mine which awards you gems every so often.

The game is quite good for active play sessions, which can last anywhere between 5 and 15-20 minutes depending on how many waves you manage to get, as you progress there are other ways to speed up fights. The game does have various bugs, mainly around the areas of properly ending waves and the game cycle itself. Overall it’s a fun game and is a good base to build on. It would be nice to know when the second area is actually unlocked as it feels like it’s quite far away. The game is actually quite challenging and ramps up its difficulty quite early on.

There isn’t that much in the way of idle mechanics, perhaps if the tower fought off waves with it’s permanent upgrades and restarted every time it died or some sort of auto-buyer it could be more of an idle (while afk). Another option would be some sort of idle farms or mechanics that tick while you are away from the game. Either way as an active-play game there’s a good amount to get stuck into, it would be nice to see more cards and card slots and possibly even more upgrades, secondary turrets, areas, enemies and maybe even some more truly idle mechanics.

Tips

  • Focus on upgrading gold and coins per level as early as possible
  • Life-steal and HP are key to getting past bosses
  • Regeneration is generally useless
  • Unlock all card slots and cards asap, keep purchasing and upgrading cards with your gems
  • Don’t bother win a second lab research slot
  • The maximum game speed multiplier is 3x

Useful Links

The Way Home – Pixel Roguelike

The Game

The Way Home by CONCODE is a rogue-like dungeon explorer game with some interesting crafting and progression mechanics. You play as a cat named Cheese fighting your way through procedurally generated dungeons as you attempt to figure out how you and your human ended up on a mysterious island. Each time you take on a dungeon you can choose the skills you get when you level up from a choice of stat improvements, passive abilities or modifiers for your bow shots.

At the end of each floor of the dungeon you will have the option to walk away with all resources you have gathered so far or to carry on (risking the loss of 2/3 of your gathered materials). Once you return to your home island you can invest the materials gathered into work stations, permanent buffs or new spells and passive abilities to chose from on your dungeon runs. As you progress you also find out more about the backstory to how you ended up on this island and why it is so cursed.

Worth it?

The game is really fun and aesthetically pleasing, there’s a good sense of progression and it provides a good challenge too. The story and writing are interesting and engaging, there’s a variety of enemies and their attack patterns and a good variety of upgrades and skills to try out. Where this game is let down a little bit is in it’s pricing for the full game.

After beating the first boss you are prompted to pay £5.99 to access the remaining 3 islands of the game OR watch around 15-20 ads per platform (you need to get to the adjacent island) and then watch an ad after every dungeon run. While this model is quite interesting and does allow you to essentially play the game for free, quite a few players feel a bit tricked by the free trial aspect of the first island (no ads). The full game price is possibly slightly on the expensive side – 15-20% less would make it a much easier decision to purchase.

Tips

  • Research the work stations first (Resource/Etc page)
  • Focus on getting the better pick to get better materials (Anvil)
  • Skills that modify your arrows (like Ricochet) are particularly useful for attacking large groups of mobs
  • For the boss focus on building up your damage and health, ideally have a potion as well

Useful Links