DRAGONVALE

Back in 2006, I saw the trailer for Viva Piñata for the first time. The first thing that came to my mind was, what the hell? Three years later, my friend lent me Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise for the DS. And I absolutely loved it! I then proceeded to play both Xbox versions, and 100% one of them.

But now, Backflip Studios has released a game that surprised me in a way that no iOS game has. I first started DragonVale a few weeks back, I played the tutorial and I was done with it. But two days later, while I was bored and had nothing to do (like usually) I whipped out my iPod and loaded the game and damn, I was hooked.

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But what makes it so damn addictive? I believe it is it’s simplicity. The concept of the game is very basic, you have a “garden” and you have some dragons. But then, you can breed those dragons, and you have a ton of different types of them, such as Mountain, Sun, Cold, etc. They will then generate money for you, which you can use to improve your island so you get more visitors, buy new species, harvest food, and more.

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Don’t worry, the dragons won’t stay all cute for ever. They actually do get badass.

Remember the old ninja saying that patience is a virtue? This game will test you on this to the maximum. Sometimes, when you breed your precious pets, you’ll have to wait 12 hours for them to finish breeding, and then another 6 hours for the egg to hatch. Although this might sound discouraging, it’s actually really great, since you can do other things meanwhile. Also, some dragons will generate money so fast that you’ll have to keep checking back constantly. Oh, and I’ll let you in on a little secret. While I was writing this, every time I finished a paragraph I’d go back into the game for a few minutes. Tee hee!

There are 30 levels, and you’re gonna have a fun, yet tough, time getting there (I’ve been playing this game for about 20 hours total and I’m still at 12). There are over 60 variations of dragons, with the developers constantly updating the catalog. Sometimes they’ll even release holiday specials, such as the Love dragon or the Firework dragon!

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Their designs are just awesome.

The bad thing about this game is, you probably won’t be patient enough. For example, right now I have to wait 8 hours for my dragons to finish breeding, and though I have much to do in those 8 hours, I keep going back to the game and expecting them to be done, with no results. Although there are methods of skipping these waits, you basically have to pay for in-game stuff and I don’t really like that.

Another fun thing about the game is going into your friends’ garden, and instantly thinking: “I want my island to be much more badass than this!”. The social aspect of the game really adds some competition.

Do you think the game sounds cool? Then head on over to the App Store and download it, for free!

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DAY Z (ARMA 2 MOD)

I’m sure that many of you, like myself, had never heard of ARMA 2 – or could even begin to comprehend the existence of an ARMA 1 – however, Bohemia Interactive’s realistic combat simulator has truly exploded in popularity over the last few weeks with the release of a mod that has got the gaming community drooling with excitement and the big developers, quite frankly, embarrassed that they hadn’t done it earlier.

Day Z is an expansive, open world zombie apocalypse scenario and the brainchild of Dean ‘Rocket’ Hall. Set in Eastern Europe, each new player is left to survive for as long as possible, armed with nothing but a few tins of beans and the full extent of their wit. Day Z is in no way forgiving – in fact it is quite the opposite, and will really push the most experienced hardcore gamer to their very limit – especially so when any other survivors you encounter can be as deadly as they are friendly.

I don’t think I’m at all exaggerating when I say that this is truly the game we have all been waiting for for so many years. Day Z does have its flaws of course, but overall it is the concept and the potential that has caught the eye of the collective gaming world and has now – hopefully – opened up a completely new door for future takes on the genre – an area which previous titles, such as Dead Island, or Dead Rising, could not fully satisfy.

Although Day Z is completely free to play, you do require the base pack of ARMA 2 and its expansion, Operation Arrowhead, to play, so be prepared to splash out a few coins if you are truly interested in getting involved. Alternatively, Bohemia Interactive have already announced the release of ARMA 3 in late 2012/early 2013, in which they have internally hired the Day Z development team in collaboration for better integration, which could certainly be worth waiting for.

All in all, I highly recommend looking into this project for its absolute immersion and realism. Gone are the days of respawns and handy tips – I sense a new age for the hardcore gamer is finally at hand!

CHKilroy‘s video diary is a brilliant example of the full extent Day Z can provide emotionally as well as in terms of quality

Download Day Z from its website here

Buy ARMA 2 Combined Operations from Steam here (REQUIRED)

ARMA 3 development news and info here

MARIO TENNIS OPEN

Back in 1995, Nintendo released a game featuring the characters from the Mushroom Kingdom: Mario Tennis. It has been an important landmark for Nintendo, especially since Mario Tennis 64 introduced the infamous Waluigi. Now, in 2012, Nintendo have decided to expand their 3DS’s game library by adding a new version called Mario Tennis Open.

The developers made sure that the lone player does not miss out on the fun by adding three types of games: Tournament, Exhibition and Special Games (minigames). These tournaments are pretty entertaining, and when you’re playing a 5 set match against the computer, a point away from winning the championship, the game gets pretty exciting. Exhibition features Singles and Doubles matches, which are always fun to play. And the minigames, although they’re hard, will surely deliver many hours of gameplay.

Also, there is a store which sells tons of items to dress up your Mii with, which is certainly a nice touch.

The game includes a fantastic multiplayer experience. Although the online multiplayer against random people is limited to 1 vs 1 matches, playing with a friend lets you have custom matches which have proven to be very fun. Also, you can play local multiplayer, which lets up to 4 players join the fun. However, if there are more than two people, you can only play Minigames, which honestly sucks. No doubles locally, people.

Mario Tennis Open has 16 playable characters, with different specialties such as Power (Bowser, Wario), Defense (Waluigi), Tricky (Boo, Bowser Jr.), Speed (Diddy Kong & Yoshi), Technique (Peach and Daisy) and All-around (Mario and Luigi). 12 of them are playable as soon as you start the game, but the others require you to play the minigames. Nintendo included a great innovation in this title; QR Code Scan Characters. Using the 3DS’ camera, you scan codes and unlock up to seven characters. The only downside? They’re all Yoshi. Yep, Nintendo decided to go the cheap route and give players 8 different colors of Yoshi. I mean, come on! Yoshi’s cool and all, but what about Dry Bones, Koopas, Shy Guys and other fantastic characters? Hopefully they’ll release more codes in the near future.

Let’s be honest: It’s a game for the 3DS and that means it has to have 3D. That’s one of the few problems this game has, the lack of it. Even though there’s a little, tiny bit of it, you can’t really see it. And, when you activate the gyroscope camera control (where you move the console itself to point where you want the ball to go at) there is none at all.

Now, what many people (including me) loved so much about Mario Tennis games was the powers that each character had. Open clearly lacks this, and tries to make up by adding some shots that will activate once you step on a small circle. This gives the game a new twist, as you’re trying to run towards these spots. Yet, the powers that each characters had were all representative of the franchise, and as a fan of this series, I think that the game just doesn’t feel right without them.

Another big thing that this game has missed was the Story Mode. The GameCube version has a pretty entertaining story, but apparently the developer (Camelot) decided it wasn’t necessary. Perhaps it’s because this is a handheld version, and they’re trying to be more like Mario Kart (which has no story at all).

If you’re a fan of the Mario Bros. Universe, this is a definite must buy. And if you’re not, and you don’t have many good games for your 3DS, this is a game to consider as well.

TWO DAYS UNTIL E3…

In a couple of days, the massive event E3 will kick off, which means we’ll get to hear a ridiculous amount of announcements. In fact, there are so many rumors of what we’ll see that it is staggering. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Nintendo: 

Nintendo’s show is going to be primarily focused on the introduction of the Wii U (and hopefully we’ll see a name change), its features and the games. Until now, we’ve heard that a launch title will be Super Mario Bros. Mii, but thats about it. We know that Valve and EA are competing for providing a network service for Nintendo, so I guess we’ll find out more about that. There has also been a rumor floating around that says a Star Fox – Metroid fusion is on the works, which I believe seems very cool. Oh and a personal favorite: Pikmin 3.

On the other side, we will also see new gamed for the 3DS. Titles such as Luigi’s Mansion 2, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance and Pokémon: Conquest. However, I really hope that they reveal the next Super Smash Bros. (which is rumored to be cross-platformed.)

Playstation:

So far, we’ve heard about Sony’s Super Smash Bros. ripoff: Playstation All Stars Battle Royale, but not many details have arisen. Also, an Assassin’s Creed for the PS Vita has been announced. So far there’s not much Sony exclusives that we know about, but don’t worry: they’re likely to announce many things. Perhaps we’ll get to see a small peek of the PlayStation 4.

 Xbox:

There are only two things worth talking about for the Xbox: Halo and Gears of War. Game Informer released an image teasing the next Gears, which we now know is going to be a prequel to the trilogy, featuring Cole Train and Damn Baird and Kilo Squad as the protagonists. And Halo 4 will start of where we last left it off: wandering in space. So far we have seen a couple of images featuring new Spartans, but not much.

 Non-exclusive games:

Where to begin… We have Assassin’s Creed III, Resident Evil 6, Skyrim: Dawnguard, Dead Space 3, Lara Croft, Black Ops II, Borderlands 2, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, Crysis 3, Darksiders II, Metro Last Light and Far Cry 3.

No matter what type of gamer you are, which console you prefer, or which genre you usually play, E3 will surely have something for you.