If you're an avid tabletop role playing game enthusiast, it's almost impossible that you haven't heard of Pathfinder. This re-organized variant of the Dungeons & Dragons ruleset, published by Paizo and supplemented with a huge variety of extra modules, literature, and lore, has quickly become one of the most popular tabletop RPGs on the market. The publisher has created a few satellite properties for Pathfinder, including novels, comic books, and a licensed card game called Pathfinder Adventure.
It's hard to predict which games among the hundreds of thousands in the Play Store will hit the sweet spot and become a sensation. Taichi Panda, Snail Games' Diablo-style dungeon crawler, is a good example. Since its release a little over a year ago it's gained over five million downloads and an impressive audience of frequent players both free and paid. After a successful soft launch period, the developer is returning to its anthropomorphic well with a sequel called Taichi Panda: Heroes.
I find most Square-Enix RPGs to be baffling in that somewhat generic anime way: as one reviewer puts it, the stories always seem to revolve around a bunch of teenagers killing Satan with the power of friendship. Throw in perhaps one of the biggest (or at least most complicated) crossovers in media history, and my head starts to spin. So it is with the Kingdom Hearts series of action-RPGs. It's been mixing Squaresoft's Final Fantasy mythos with more or less every Disney animated movie, plus its own impenetrable plots and original characters, since the first game came out on the PS2.
Despite the fact that excitement for endless Angry Birds iterations and spin-offs more or less died over a year ago, the Angry Birds movie is scheduled to hit theaters next month. (Apparently creating a 90-minute CG movie, complete with Hollywood talent, marketing, and distribution, takes a lot longer than making a 2D physics game.) Developer Rovio is pumping up the promotion machine starting with Angry Birds Action!, a 2.5D twist on the classic slingshot formula. At the moment it's soft-launched in New Zealand, but the game should be heading to other territories well before the May movie release.
Here at Android Police, we monitor a truly insane amount of sites and developers to bring you the latest apps and games fresh from the Play Store. And in serving that duty, sometimes we come across games that don't deserve any attention. More often than not, in fact, and some of the most depressing are games that exploit a beloved TV, movie, or video game license and use it to try and sling the same homogenized crap as ten thousand copycat game developers looking for a quick buck. A lot of these seem to be Candy Crush or Bejeweled clones: we passed over Pac-Man Puzzle Tour just yesterday (Artem literally wrote "ughhhhhh" in the office chat), and Star Trek: Wrath of Gems is such a shameless cash-grab that it makes trekkies spit out their Romulan ale.
Android isn't hurting for endless runners, but at this point, most of them don't bring anything new to the table. That can't be said of Alto's Adventure, a new iOS port from prolific publisher Noodlecake and developer Snowman. What it lacks in revolutionary design it makes up for in pure, dripping style: everything from the pastel coloring to the shifting weather to the smooth 2D animations oozes with careful design. If you're tired of a never-ending parade of "retro" 8-bit games on mobile, Alto's Adventure might just be the cure.
The gameplay itself isn't all that interesting. Your player character snowboards down a gently-sloping mountain, chasing llamas, grabbing coins, jumping over rocks, and grinding on improbably load-bearing bunting.
The last two Rayman games to grace Android, Rayman Jungle Run and Rayman Fiesta Run, are some of the best examples of the genre on the Play Store. Now the developers are branching out by bringing Rayman back to his platforming roots. The third game in the series, Rayman Adventures, allows for more direct control of the 2D characters as they run around the screen. That makes stages bigger and less linear, encouraging players to explore every nook and cranny. You know, like an adventure.
Crossy Road is often presented as a prime example of what's wrong with casual games, because it's a free-to-play game that's based on a classic (Frogger) and lacks any kind of sophistication. But Crossy Road does a lot of things right, too: it has an interesting if not unique visual style, it's accessible to any kind of gamer, and best of all, its free-to-play model is entirely reasonable, asking for only one dollar at a time and never forcing players to buy currency or tokens for random rewards. It's a good little game, is what I'm saying here.
Two of the three-man team from Crossy Road have released a new game in the same casual vein, Shooty Skies.
You can't swing a severed limb around on the Play Store without hitting half a dozen zombie games, and first person shooters (even high-end variants like Unkilled) aren't exactly thin on the ground. But you might want to give Dead Effect 2, the sequel to a 2013 science fiction-horror shooter, a second look anyway. While the premise isn't exactly original, falling somewhere between Alien and Dead Space, the sheer variety and polish makes it worth consideration from Android gamers.
First of all, the game seems to have a much tighter focus on storytelling than other zombie shooters. You pick up right where the last game left off, on a derelict spaceship crawling with undead crewmembers and other, more elaborate monsters - think Doom 3 with iron sights.
Here's a gaming announcement that came out of nowhere: Titanfall, one of the biggest new first person shooters to appear on gaming PCs and consoles last year, will get a mobile release. The Guardian reports that Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment (made up mostly of ex-Call of Duty developers) and Nexon (a developer that focuses on full-sized PC games that use the freemium model) will both invest in newbie mobile developer Particle City, with the aim to create "several mobile games based on Titanfall."
If you weren't following the gaming news in early 2014, Titanfall is an arena-based shooter that puts a sci-fi spin on the popular FPS genre.