Dragons: Rise of Berk

Dragons: Rise of Berk With the release of Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon 2, we’ve seen many Dragon-related merchandise.  Toys, video games, and even stuffed animals.  Now, there’s a game for Android and iOS as well:  Dragons: Rise of Berk.

In the game, you help to re-build Berk.  Hiccup, Stoick, Astrid, and other citizens of Berk appear to give you missions.  In the process, the story of a mysterious dragon rider and missing dragons unfolds.  (Warning: Some spoilers might be revealed by the game, but those come pretty far in.)  During the game, you send Hiccup and Toothless out to search for dragons.  As they come back with dragon eggs, you hatch, feed, and train the baby dragons.  Once the dragons are big enough, they can help you get fish and wood to build more of Berk or to support more dragons.  There are also side quests that characters from the Dragons TV show (including Mildew, Mulch and Bucket) and other dragon riders (Astrid, Snotlout, Fishlegs, Ruffnut, and Tuffnut) provide.

dragonsRunes – which act as the games’ currency – provide a means of speeding up most processes (searches, training, builds).  They can also be used to buy dragons, including some unique and familiar ones like Stormfly or Meatlug.  While it is a premium currency that can be purchased with money, some missions – or dragon searches – will also give you runes.  Also, while they can speed things up, they aren’t really needed for game play.  (A very nice feature.)

The game moves along at a nice pace and is very entertaining.  There is a certain level of "grinding" – or repetitive tasks to gather supplies.  In this case, it is the dragons gathering fish and wood.  Each dragon will only gather supplies for a certain period of time.  Once they are done, they go back to their home and sleep until you give them another task.  If you check in on the game regularly, you can keep your dragons gathering supplies, but only checking in once or twice a day will mean that it might take a long time to get supplies.  This can be bypassed if you are willing to spend runes to get the supplies, but you would quickly run out of runes and would need to buy more.

toothlessThis is a very fun game to play.  It’s always interesting watching the new dragons you get or seeing the fun side quests that you need to embark upon.  In addition, there are hints of something more coming soon.  Some rumors I’ve read hint at a "battle mode."  Perhaps you’ll be able to send your dragons into battle later on to get more resources or dragons.  No matter what comes in the future of this game, I’d highly recommend it for any fan of the Dragons movies or TV show.

Dragons: Rise of Berk is available for Android or iOS.

An Epic Battle of Bird vs. Pig

angry-birds-epic  Since we got smart phones and our kids got tablets, there have been the sounds of certain upset avians being hurled at the not-so-nice pigs who stole their eggs.  Of course, I’m referring to that mobile game: Angry Birds.  Over the years, we’ve played all of the sequels, especially – given that we are Star Wars geeks – Angry Birds Star Wars I and II.  When I first learned about Rovio’s latest Angry Birds game, via a video showing the opening battles during play tests in Australia and a couple other countries, my first reaction was pretty calm.  Ok, ok, it was more like: "WHEN CAN I HAVE THIS? TODAY? HOW ABOUT NOW? NOW? NOW??!!!!! DON’T MAKE WAIT!!!!!!"  Of course, I’m talking about Angry Birds Epic.

Angry Birds Epic starts like most Angry Birds games.  The pigs have stolen the birds’ eggs and the birds want them back.  The twist this time is that you don’t simply fling the birds at the pigs.  In fact, there is no flinging at all.  Instead, the game is more of a turn based RPG-style game.  You use your birds’ offensive and defensive skills to win battles over countless pig foes.  Along the way, you gain more bird allies, treasure, coins, and experience stars.

rage-chili-attackEach bird has a slightly different attack and might be better suited to some battles over others.  For example, pirate pigs tend to be immune to harmful effects, so Chuck the Wizard-bird’s acid rain attacks won’t cause the usual lasting damage after each turn.  However, against the undead pigs, his skills can help hurt the pigs evenly so you don’t wind up knocking out one pig just to have it revive a few turns later as you tackle a second (or third or fourth) pig.

The birds also have defensive capabilities.  They can form shields to protect against damage, heal injuries, or even cause other birds to attack (in essence, trading their turn to a stronger bird and giving that bird two turns during that round).  Each bird also has a "Rage Chili" ability.  As you battle, damage you inflict – or that is inflicted on you – fills an initially empty chili pepper on the screen.  Once the pepper is full, the rage chili is ready to be used.  Drag it onto a bird and that bird will launch a powerful which ranges from healing all of your birds to a focused mega-attack to multiple strikes on many enemies.  Using the rage chili wisely can be the difference between winning a battle and losing it.  Do you use it to knock out a powerful enemy in one blow or heal your birds so that they last longer?

battle-wonAs the battles progress, the birds will gain powerful weapons and new abilities.  A bird has three basic items: It’s headgear, weapon, and shield.  The headgear determines the bird’s class and thus what attacks/defensive moves it has.  For example, Chuck’s mage hat lets him zap all pigs with lightning or protect birds with a "shock shield" that hurts any attacking pig.  Meanwhile, his rainbird hat gives him acid rain and healing rain abilities.  The weapons increase your attack power and gives possibilities for special bonus attacks (like dispelling a pig’s beneficial spell or chaining an attack across multiple pigs).  Shields can increase a birds’ hit points and attack power.

Sometimes the game can be frustrating.  I hit into one zombie who could kill each of my birds with a single strike.   The secrets in these cases are to either go back and re-fight older battles to level up – increasing your attack power and hit points, to try a different combination of birds, or to try different bird classes.  Maybe you should use the the blue birds should be used in trickster class instead of in rogue class.  No battle is impossible.  It might just take awhile to find the right combination of birds, class, experience level, and luck.

This is quite a fun game and – having peaked at a full map of Piggy Island – I can see that there are a ton of battles ahead.  The battles between bird and pig will definitely be raging on for quite some time in this house.

My Not So Tiny Death Star

Tiny-Death-StarOver the past week, I’ve had a new addiction.  I have to confess, I’ve turned to the Dark Side.  The Emperor and Lord Vader enlisted my help in constructing a Death Star.  With it, they can rule the galaxy with an iron fist.  Death Stars don’t come cheap, though, so we’re renting out space.

With residential levels, I can get galactic empire citizens (also known as Bitizens due to their purposefully pixelated look) to move in.  Then, I put them to work on service, food, recreation, and retail levels.  As they work, they earn money which I can spend on the Imperial levels to complete missions that Darth Vader and other Imperial officers assign me.  I also help out when the occasional rebel spy infiltrates our facility.

Of course, I’m talking about the smartphone/tablet game Tiny Death Star.

This is a wonderful game.  There are Star Wars references aplenty from Watto’s Wares to Mos Espa Cafe to Mandalore Apartments.  Some of the characters that you encounter will be random folks (both human and Star Wars aliens) and others will be characters from the Star Wars movies.  With hundreds of levels and characters currently available, one can play this continuously for weeks before running out.

I would definitely recommend this for Star Wars fans of any age.  Both of my boys (7 and 10) have been constructing their own Death Stars.  The only limitation would be that some reading in the game is required so be prepared to help read it to small kids.

To close, here is my current Tiny Death Star (or current as of the time I stitched these screenshots together).  Warning, it is a little long.

The Case Of The App Hoarder

tablet_appsJSL has a problem.  He loves his Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, but there are just too many apps on it.  When I try to update it, it replies that insufficient space is available.  I tried various tricks to free up space, but nothing worked.  I even put a microSD card in, but his tablet’s version of Android doesn’t allow moving apps to the SD card.

It was clear that some hard decisions had to be made.

I sat down with JSL and explained the situation.  He understood.  Especially because this isn’t the first time we’ve hit this wall.  We began to go through the apps (read: games) on his tablet to see which we could get rid of.

"Angry Birds?"  "Keep."

"Cut the Rope?"  "Keep."

"Fruit Ninja?  Surely we can delete that, right?  You never play with that one anymore."  "Keep it."

"Nutty Fluffies?"  "What’s that one?"  "Well, if you don’t even know what the game is, I guess we can delete it."  *JSL glances at tablet* "Keep that one."

And so it went.  After going through over 35 games, he finally, very reluctantly, let me delete about four of them.  The good news is that this was just enough to let the other apps be upgraded.  The bad news is that his tablet is still low on space and it is only a matter of time before we need to go through this again.

How do you deal with a digital app hoarder?  What methods do you use to convince your kids that it is ok to delete apps that they don’t use anymore so that you can free up tablet space?

Paint Blobs On A Smartphone

Screenshot_2014-02-06-21-59-27Last month, I wrote about a fun Smartphone game called Buttons and Scissors by KyWorks.  A couple of days ago, another of their games, Color Oil, was Amazon’s free app of the day.  I downloaded it and have been hooked ever since.

Like Buttons and Scissors, you need to use your brain to match colors and beat levels.  Unlike Buttons and Scissors, though, you don’t deal with buttons on denim, but with drops of oil paint on a canvas.  The paint only joins up with blobs of same colored paint.  Luckily, you can change the color of your main blob.  As you do so, it will join with any adjacent, similar colored paint.  As your blob grows, it can join with more and more paint until all of the paint is joined.

Sounds easy, right?  Well, there’s a twist.  You only have a certain amount of turns to complete each level.  For example, you might have five different colors on the board and only six turns.  This gives you a mere one move before you need to start eliminating colors.  If you go over the allotted number of turns, you start losing stars.  Lose all three and you’ll need to start all over again.

The levels begin easy but ramp up in complexity.  This game is not one that is won by quickly tapping the screen.  Instead, it forces you to think about your next move, the one after that, and the ones after that one.  Only by planning out your moves in advance will you have any hope of finishing the board in the required number of steps.

This is definitely another fun game from KYWorks.  It’s sure to give both me and my boys hours of fun while also challenging our minds.

Links to Color Oil for Android, iOS, and Blackberry are available from KyWorks’ website.

NOTE: I obtained Color Oil as Amazon’s Free App Of The Day, I wasn’t required to write about the app, though.  I did that because I liked it.  All opinions above are my own.

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