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Simple Matching Game...Maybe Too Simple
by: Alan M. Wasserman - 07/24/14 - iOS
Elfcraft is a simple but fairly addictive matching game. In Elfcraft your objective is to place three or more matching component parts together. Three stones become a flint stone, match three flint stones to make dragon scales, match three dragon scales to make moon rocks and so on and so on. There are 12 possible components to make. Each turn you are given a two component piecess made up of the available component as you can currently make. At the beginning its two stones, but as you progress you may get a low-high piece in a stone and a Ice crystal and placing it can start to get very difficult if you are not somewhat planful of your moves. Thankfully you can spin your pieces Tetris-style by tapping the screen and swiping your finger side to side to choose where to lower the stone in the 6x7 play area. The early game is easy enough but as the pieces have more options with which to present you with your best laid plans can go out the window. One interesting mechanic in the game is if you tilt the screen side to side all the pieces move together. This is advantageous if you have a matching component that is merely on the other side of play area, simply tilt and watch as the match resolves it’s self. I found that sometimes tilting can also create matches you can’t see. The game also presents you with a “spell book” that has four spells to choose from. One spell removes one component of your choice to allow you to remove a mistaken placement or just get one out of the way that is blocking at match, other spells remove whole rows of components while others remove every component of one selected type. For me the most useful and most rare spell is the swap stone spell. It allows you to swap two adjacent stones. Like Tetris, if your pieces get to the top of the board and you cannot place an entire piece the game ends.
I have a few issues with this game, while the game is fun and has a high replayability factor the board remains the same every time and the opening pieces are always the same so it can get very redundant until you start unlocking the 4th and 5th combinations. The spellbook is limited use only, spells are unlocked when you reach predefined achievements (viewable from the main screen) but if you want more or are in a pinch you have to pay real money to get more. The biggest issue I have with the game is the number of lives you have. Represented in this game as tree trunks or logs you only have 3 lives with which to play with and afterword’s you have to let them recharge before you can play again. A game without levels or missions should not employ this type of game mechanic. It cries out to me as a money grab by the developer. As in many other mobile games you can pay for more lives starting at $1.99 for 10.
The game is fun and I think for a younger gamer it can provide a few minutes of entertainment, while a more experience gamer may be able to play longer eventually the game will end. The inability to play the game for as long as you want has me rating the game lower, as well as the pay-to-win mentality on the spellbook is pretty frustrating. Because of the novelty of the concept and the initial fun factor of the game I give it 5 out of 10.
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FCB PInball Review - iOS
By: Alan M. Wasserman - 06/24/14
This review is mighty timely as the World Cup is entering the final rounds of Group play moving to the Round of 16. FCB Pinball tries to bring some of the fast play and ball bouncing we see with the La Liga team FC Barcelona to the pinball table. The table is well laid out, with your standard Pinball components. Two sets of flippers, 3 bumpers up top to rack up points as well two sets of targets at the top of the table. Spell KICK by passing your ball through the gates and get multipliers, to the upper right hit three very hidden targets and get Football Frenzy, which as near as I can tell just spins a platform with a Soccer (football) ball on top of it. The target in the middle of the table is a goal complete with a moving goalie who tries to keep your ball out of the goal. Scoring a Hat Trick (that‘s three balls in the net) with the third goal into the right hand side of the net will get you a multiball. Score a Hat Trick into the left hand side and you get a challenge mode where you are aiming at specific parts of the table. If you can roll over PASS at the bottom of the table then you get a free kick for 30 seconds (extra ball), the free kick is also active for about 15 seconds after initial launch to keep you playing when whiff with the flipper. The table has two ramps at which to aim as well as a “Danger Zone” target to hit. If you can enter the “Danger Zone” (cue up Kenny Loggins) you net a cool 3 million points. However, you only have 15 seconds after launching the ball to enter the “Danger Zone” making it both a skill and luck shot.
The game plays pretty much like every touch device pinball game I have played. You pull your finger back to launch the ball, tap the sides of the screen to activate the flippers and you can tilt the device to nudge the table. The flippers have good response time and the ball launch is sensitive enough to be able to put as much, or little, touch on the ball as you want. The animations and sounds are good and the game runs smooth without ever lagging or crashing. There are multiple angles at which to play, I however prefer the angle 2 which lets you see the whole table without the camera darting around to follow the ball.
The big issue I have with this game is that is not as exciting or advanced as some of the other Pinball games out there. Zen Studios sets a very high bar to reach with its themed tables and complex game play. I venture there are not more complex tables in the real world than what Zen puts into its games. The fact that Zen Pinball is free and gives you a couple of great tables with tons of replay value, makes me wonder why one would pay $2.99 for the smaller and less complex table you get here with FCB Pinball. FCB also does not track local high scores and relies on GameCenter to track a single high score comparing you against all the people in the world playing the game.
Playing for a few hours on this table made me ready to move onto another table with other challenges. It’s a great time waster and if you are waiting at a doctor’s office for an appointment or to talk to a lawyer I would recommend this game. If you are forced to put the game down while playing you won’t feel like you are walking away from a huge time investment. The fluid game play is what makes this game, but stacked up with its competition it falls reasonably short. I give it a 4 out of 10.