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Jim Squires

Gamezebo's Editor-in-Chief, and your last line of defense in the coming zombie apocalypse.

Fable Age Review

Apr 18, 2014

Match-3/RPG hybrids are cool. Always have been, always will be. Whether we’re talking Puzzle Quest, 10000000 or Puzzle & Dragons, there’s a flavor of puzzle-RPG out there for everyone. Fable Age is a game that plays closest to the latter, but don’t let that fool you – in a world of Puzzle & Dragons clones, Fable Age manages to take those familiar pieces and craft something that can stand on its own two feet.

Fable Age

The debut mobile project from developer Blue Tea Games, it’s no surprise that the team chose to explore the world of myths and fairy tales. It’s a theme that they’re more than familiar with, having developed the popular hidden object series Dark Parables (which never failed to get top marks from our reviewers here at Gamezebo – The Final Cinderella even netted a perfect 5/5).

But while Dark Parables took a rather sinister tone, Fable Age remains playful. Bright colors and cartoony designs rule the day.

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This Week in China: Candy Crushing the Great Wall

Apr 18, 2014

Back in October I had a chance to visit King’s studio in Stockholm. I was mainly there to check out an upcoming game and absorb the culture, but as is often the case when talking with mobile-minded developers, the conversation eventually moved to Asia: the great white whale of gaming markets. How do you break into it? And how do you get to be #1?

This week King answered that question, at least as far as China is concerned – and based on my chats with the team, the move they’ve made isn’t the least bit surprising (and really, it’s the one any developer looking for success in the Asian market should consider). But what was it? Read on to find out!

As always, thanks to our pals at Laohu.com for providing Gamezebo readers with a roundup of the biggest gaming news to hit China each week.

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Bridge Constructor gets medieval on May 1st

Apr 17, 2014

Remember how you were nursing a serious Bridge Constructor addiction a few weeks back? Don’t be ashamed – we all were. And if today’s announcement is any indication, you should ready yourself for a relapse: Bridge Constructor Medieval will be available on iOS and Android on May 1st.

Travelling back to the days of yore, amateur bridge builders will need to use their old skills in some new ways. The Middle Ages were rife with war, and as such you’ll need to build bridges sturdy enough to withstand cannon fire and get your troops across, but also weak enough to collapse under the weight of enemy troops, sending them spilling to their deaths below. We’re not quite sure how the yin/yang of bridge design can balance such contrasting goals, but we’re excited to find out.

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New materials, new challenges, and familiar gameplay await ye olde gamers brave enough to take the plunge. Keep an eye out for Bridge Constructor Medieval when it hits your favorite mobile marketplace on May Day.

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CandySwipe and Candy Crush makers settle trademark differences

Apr 16, 2014

Here’s something I bet you weren’t expecting: Albert Ransom’s trademark troubles are officially a thing of the past.

Ransom, whose company Runsome Apps created CandySwipe, has been fighting King’s Candy Crush Saga trademark since long before “candygate” became a buzzword. And when King applied for the US trademark on the word CANDY, Ransom swore he’d fight that too.

King fired a returning shot by purchasing the trademark rights to Candy Crusher, a 2004 game, and using those older rights to try and have Ransom’s mark on CandySwipe revoked.

In a word, things were getting ugly.

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But as of today, that ugliness is a thing of the past. Ransom has informed Gamezebo that he and King have “amicably resolved” their dispute. He has withdrawn his opposition against the Candy Crush Saga mark, and in turn King has withdrawn their counterclaim against CandySwipe. “Both our games can continue to coexist without confusing players,” reads an official statement on candyswipe.com.

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GBA4iOS gets tactile with G-PAD

Apr 16, 2014

While the legality around playing ROM’s is murky at best, that hasn’t stopped GBA4iOS from becoming an insanely popular option for gamers looking to bring a little Game Boy Advance nostalgia to the pockets of 2014.

Besides, until Konami decides to release a proper Castlevania game to the App Store, this is as close as you’re going to get.

The only downside to the app is that, well… it’s an app. iOS devices are touch-screens by nature, and even though the touch controls work incredibly well here, there’s just something missing. Old school gamers sometimes crave a more tactile approach.

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The G-PAD is the answer to their prayers.

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Last Life is ‘Kentucky Route Zero in space’

Apr 15, 2014

At least that’s how it was described to me in a tweet from Andrew Webster, former Gamezebo editor and current scribe at The Verge. And after hearing a description like that, there was no way around it: I just had to learn more.

Now on Kickstarter, Last Life is a murder mystery with a twist:

The murder you’re trying to solve is your own.

“LAST LIFE is a sci-fi noir adventure game for PC, Mac and Linux about a transhumanist colony on Mars,” reads the official Kickstarter page. “When a murdered detective is 3D printed back into existence, he reopens his last case to uncover what he missed--a hunt that reveals AI corruption, corporate espionage, and the conspiracy that may have led to Earth's doom.”

If that sounds as incredible to you as it does to me, you’re not alone. The folks at Double Fine happen to agree with us, so much so that Last Life has become the second game to earn the “Double Fine Presents,” distinction – an initiative that Tim Schafer & Co. have launched to help raise the visibility of deserving indie games that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. 

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Civilization: Beyond Earth - because strategy games belong in space

Apr 14, 2014

You know who’s great making PAX East announcements? Firaxis. Last year the studio used the Boston convention to announce the mobile port of XCOM: Enemy Unknown which, yes, managed to live up to the lofty promises they’d made. This year, they decided to go one step further and announce the next entry in everyone’s favorite strategy series, Civilization.

Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth will take players on a journey into the stars for the very first time (unless you count 1999’s spin-off Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, which the devs of Beyond Earth love, but stressed they’re going in their “own direction” from in a conversation with Kotaku).

Following a series of events that Firaxis refers to as “The Great Mistake,” the Earth is looking a little rough around the edges. As a result, humanity sets off to colonize a strange new world. Unlike past games in the series that draw from history, Beyond Earth will be about making choices to shape humanity’s future. 

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BREAKFINITY's monetization is brilliant

Apr 14, 2014

When developing a free-to-play game, there’s one question every developer faces: how is it going to make money? In-app purchases are one way to go. Ad revenue is another. In many cases, you’ll see a mix of both. Phil Hassey’s BREAKFINITY is no exception – but it’s the way he balances the two that makes it so compelling.

BREAKFINITY is what would happen if Breakout or Arkanoid were an endless runner. Players will clear just enough blocks to see their ball move up to the next stage in a never-ending quest for points. You’ll only get one ball, but – and here’s where things get interesting – you can buy more with premium currency OR get a free ball by watching a video advertisement. You can get two free balls every game in this manner, but since it caps out at two there’s still a sense of competition. Your high score is going to be based on those combined three balls alone, not upsetting the leaderboards (unless you want to buy more with premium currency, of course).

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Plenty of other games provide incentives for watching video advertisements, but the reward usually comes in the form of premium currency, and it’s often balanced in a way that prevents you from exploiting the system and raising an infinite amount of in-game cash by watching an afternoon of commercials. BREAKFINITY goes in the opposite direction – watching a quick 15 second video is BREAKFINITY’s answer to “insert coin to continue.” The more you play, the more ad dollars Phil Hassey gets. It’s a win/win.

But is it working?

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This Week in China: Fruity Robo 3

Apr 11, 2014

I won’t lie – that was a fun headline to type. I don’t know what a “Fruity Robo 3” is, and there’s a good chance that you don’t either. But if you’re in China, there’s a very good chance you do – and you’re no doubt excited to learn that it’s about to be adapted into the mobile game Three Kingdoms of Fruit.

What does it all mean? Read on to find out the answer to that and other questions, like “is Capcom looking for Chinese investment to enter the market?,” and “how do the Chinese feel about Papaya?”

Thanks again to Laohu.com for sharing the top stories out of China this week. For a daily dose of Chinese gaming news, be sure to bookmark Laohu.com

 

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The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 - A Crooked Mile Review

Apr 11, 2014

The first two episodes of The Wolf Among Us got me thinking about how interactive media can transcend games. After all, Telltale’s take on the world of Fables plays more like an interactive film than a traditional point-click-adventure.

With episode three, a new thought dawned on me: as much as Telltale’s approach to the medium can reinvent the way we tell stories, The Wolf Among Us is an equally brilliant example of how well suited this new form of storytelling is to mysteries.

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 - A Crooked Mile

Picking up where the cliffhanger in Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors left off, my initial thoughts weren’t of what’s next, but what came before. I found myself piecing together the bits and pieces of information I’d been fed, weighing them against the narrative, and starting to draw my own conclusions. Do I think their suspect is the guilty party? Why or why not? What evidence have I been shown to support it? And if I don’t think they are, what do the clues that have been revealed tell me about who the real killer might be?

It’s the digital equivalent of an Agatha Christie novel.

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