Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kohdok Reviews Light Strike!

And now for my Light Strike review!

A note to watchers: If you do the "Comment On The Video" entry, the comment must be on Youtube, not here.
And, of course, the Rafflecopters:

For the Continental US only (International is the next one)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 Anyone can enter this one!
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kaijudo, a Second Impression.

You guys remember how I made a blog post about a card game called Duel Masters and how Hasbro has rebranded it as "Kaijudo" for some reason and now has a TV show starring some kid with Shego's lips? Well, I went to my local hobby store this morning and bought myself the special pack they put out for the game to see what it's like. My impression is... mixed. While I am pleased that the shield system and other rules appear to be completely intact, there are still a few things I am not clear on and a couple of other things that bug me through my nostalgia goggles as a Duel Masters player.

 The Kaijudo case is $20 and comes with a pair of these boxes. They are made of a nice cardboard and are obviously meant to look like books. Each one is held shut by a magnetic flap and opens up to reveal a 40-card deck held in a space that can carry two such decks(sleeved, even), a simple playmat similar to those found in the Duel Masters Starters, and a code card which I will try out later.

In addition, each box has a picture of one of the monsters on the two special cards rendered in all their foily glory. Still, I have to ask, why does Tatsurion have a shoulder-mounted cannon here when I don't see him use one anywhere else? I guess someone at Hasbro was fed-up waiting for the G. I. JOE movie and felt it needed more GUNZ!

Razorkinder, on the otherhand, looks plenty epic in its case artwork; gininning sinisterly, it lashes out its hands in a blurred motion to get you! Between the two boxes, I definately like the Razorkinder box better.

 Each one has a different half-deck, with the fire box holding a Fire/Nature deck and the Dark box holding a Darkness/Water deck.

I am a little peeved that there aren't any Light cards in here, since they were my favorites in Duel Masters. I wouldn't have a problem if it wasn't for the fact that they were the only tribe left out. Yellow just can't seem to catch a break.

I usually don't like it when the game's rules are printed on a single sheet of paper. However Duel Masters, and by extension Kaijudo, is an amazingly simple game to play and actually doesn't need that much space to learn the rules. It's one of the reasons I liked Duel Masters and the rules seem to have arrived mostly intact. They don't mention blockers or shield-triggers here, but the cards themselves do and give the rules, so it's easy to pick up.
However, there are no deck-building rules on here. Since I didn't get more than three copies of each card, I wonder if the rules have changed at all? (Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure Duel Masters allowed 4 of each). Thanks to the amazingly simple rules, they could have printed deck-building rules on the back, rather than the the mini-poster they put there instead. What if someone buys more than one of these and wants to build a deck? They mention a website where you can go find these rules, but why not right here?

Speaking of websites, there is also a code card in each box that supposedly unlocks something on there with a code which I will try later.

And now for the cards. There are a few things that have changed: "Shield Trigger" is now "Shield Burst", "Power Attacker" is now "Powerful Attack", etc. Others like "Slayer" and "Double Breaker" are still the same. The cards detail each keyword, so that's no big deal. Also, it seems like now every ability has a keyword. I see abilities like "Hungry!"(Yes, with the exclamation point) and "Grab and Stab". Magi-Nation did the same thing and it was beneficial to the flow of play, but they also added a sense of humor to it and made pop-culture references (Like "Karak Necklace", which referenced an old Twix commercial). Might we see that sort of humor in Kaijudo?

The rarity system has also changed. While a star used to mean "Rare", now a star means "common", two stars means uncommon, three means rare, four means "Shiny" (There is one in each half deck) and five means "Super-Duper-Shiny" like the special Tatsurion and Razorkinder cards

There is one confusing thing, though. "Banish" is the new term for "Destroy" when a card is sent to the graveyard, as opposed to removed from play like in Magic.

But now we get into the things that I as a Duel Masters player find iffy. First of all, that nice little circle that marked Mana is gone for reasons unknown. There is still a big, empty spot where it could go and they were handy to help indicate that they were resources, similar to how the naming of every ability helps clarify things.

Also, the names seem to have been De-awesomeized a little. I keep hearing this character get called "Tatsurion, The Unchained", but in the game he's just "Tatsurion". Kind of a waste not awesomizing your main character's card title in a series with such enigmatic names as "The Immortal Baron Vorg" and "Hanusa, Radiance Elemental".

Another one is a card formerly called "Fire-Sweeper Burning Hellion" which one could get in every starter deck and also in foil form on the Duel Masters tour. The otherwise intact card has the more blah name "Pyro Trooper". Then again, this is a mild case; I can understand parents wouldn't want their own little hellions running around with cards sporting that kind of language. As long as they bring back "Super-Explosive Volcanodon" completely intact, name and all, I won't fret about it.

What I fret about is the juggling of names and abilities between cards. For example, "King Nautilus", the four-star holo in the Darkness/Water deck, is the same as the Duel Masters version in name alone; its cost, power and effect are all different. Not even its artwork is the same. King Ponitas has gotten a similar treatment, losing its fantastic deck-control ability in favor of becoming unblockable.

"Deadly Fighter Braid Claw" seems to have given up its mantle to something called "Blaze Belcher", the card with the "Hungry!" ability. In the case of Flametropus, it now has the cost, power and effect of Galsaur for some reason.

But by far the worst thing to happen in this card juggling is...

Look at what they did to poor Gatling Skyterror!  What was once a cost 7, 7000 power double breaker that could attack untapped creatures is now a simple cost 3, pow 3000 mook. Shobu in the original series got so excited when he pulled the original Skyterror from a booster pack and now it has been reduced to such mediocrity...

Yes, they brought back some Duel Masters cards, but they have changed a lot of them, from the name to the power to the ability to the cost (Bronze Arm Tribe and Terror Pit have gotten a bump in cost), few have come through unchanged in some way. Forgive me for saying this, but smushing around old favorites like Gatling Skyterror or King Ponitas into inferior models doesn't seem like the best way to invite Duel Masters fans into Kaijudo; It makes the game seem like it wasn't all that careful with its legacy. My advice would be that, if they bring back any more older cards, unless they are the same or roughly the same (A bump in cost on a really good card like Aqua Hulcus isn't bad, changing the name is fine, too, as some made no sense) then just don't. There may not be many as many Duel Masters fans out there as Yugioh or Magic, but if there's one thing I know as a reviewer, it's that angry minority groups are often very loud. Duel Masters fans are a possible instant fanbase to this game, and I'd say you don't want to make them angry.

Now we take off the nostalgia glasses and stop quibbling about details and what do we have? Kaijudo still copied the most important mechanics of Duel Masters. It is still just as easy to play and has those important elements which made Duel Masters good. It's a good system that resists the snowball effect (Imagine getting to draw a card every time you are hit with an attack in Magic or Yugioh) and doesn't need any funky counters, dice or coins to be playable.

However, I noticed a lack of deck control and King Ponitas losing his deck control ability makes me worry that they might have taken deck control out of the game. Deck control is an important element in every successful game and Duel Masters certainly had it. The threat of its removal is a bit worrying.

The only redesign I have a real concern about is the lack of a mana spot on the base of each card as they actually helped the flow of the game and made it clear how much mana each card could generate. Like the ability text, it was a helpful reminder of what was going on.

Otherwise, the card game is a familiar and otherwise unchanged adaptation of the original; no silly additional rules or anything like that. Bring in a couple of the elements introduced later in Duel Masters, like Evolutions and Shield Repair, and we're in business.

Oh, and a Light-Civilization starter deck to make up for the lack of them here.

Well, now I gotta tackle the TV show and codes. The hobby store I bought these at is quite picky in what they will pick up and carry and the owner told me he was shown an episode and thought it wasn't bad, so I'll take a look at it. I'll also see what the codes reveal.

Until next time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kohdok's Hexbug Nano review and Giveaway!

And now for another corporate-sponsored review: Hexbug Nanos! How do they measure up?

And, of course the Rafflecopter!~

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Free Children's Apps with NO In-App Purchases!

So I have found the iTunes App Store being glutted with supposedly "Free" games that can be played for a while, but then require "In-App Purchases" in order to have additional features unlocked. I am actually playing a game called "Heroes Call", a sort of Diablo-clone app that has a rare in-game currency called "Gems" which can be purchased in lump sums for use in the game with real money. These gems can be used to purchase special weapons and armor or be used to speed up the wait time to the next mission, which for me at level 9-and-a-half is two hours. Now, I play this game on my breaks at work which come roughly every two hours, so that isn't an issue for me (it is also possible to play the previous levels all you want). The equipment I have also does me fine and dandy, so I don't feel the need to purchase gems.

However, I can understand how a bored child without a job or school can get suckered into getting their parents to buy them these virtual items with real cash, many of which can cost more than many pay apps and perhaps even more than a console game! Heroes Call doesn't pressure me to buy these gems like I've heard some of these freeium games do such as Monster Galaxy Zodiac Signs which tries to peg you for cash right out of the gate. I find these sorts of price-gouging disappointing as the desire for cash-flow outweighs the need to make a great game. Skylanders at least gave you a real-life, nicely-painted solid piece of something for the $9 you put down on its "Sorta-In-Game-Purchases".

So, in response, I have made a list of five free, child-friendly game apps that have no in-game purchasing in them at all.  Now, keep in mind that, inevitably, most apps that are put out, whether they are pay or free, exist for the purpose of making money unless they are a utility such as a QR code scanner. They might be demo versions of larger games or glorified ads for a movie or TV show, but in the end they are not intended to cost as much as these in-app-purchase programs which can sell premiums of up to $100!

NOTE: These are for the iPhone and such, I don't know if they are on Android.

1) Jake's Neverland Pirate School (Disney)

An app made to tie in with the new kids series on Disney Channel, this app is quite large (200+mb) and has all the bells and whistles to boot. It even works on the iPad! In this game, kids can steer a pirate ship, fly around neverland with Pixie Dust, search for treasure with their spyglass and know what a "Concertina" is (I certainly didn't). Upon completion, kids get a Pirate Diploma that they can decorate and print out to post on the fridge. Neato! Disney actually has a fair number of free apps out there, but this one in particular is quite well done and is a complete game, not just a trial version.

2) Angry Birds FREE (Rovio)

Come on, you guys knew this was coming. Angry Birds is likely one of the most popular apps of all time, and the free version is no exception. Angry Birds FREE currently has 24 levels kids can play and uses most of the birds. They also sometimes add more levels to the free version (my version used to have just 15 levels, but it's been updated a few times since then) making it a worthy addition to your app collection. Now it DOES contain advertising and suggests buying the full version, but Angry Birds is a cheap app and once you get you mileage out of the free one (I haven't worn mine out, yet) you can get the full version. The actual Angry Birds has some in-app purchases, however... Mighty Eagle anyone?

3) AppBlaster Alien Attack (Apptoyz)

This app is unique in, while the company who made it is willing to fork it over for free, it is actually meant to sell a piece of hardware, a $20 gun thing that lets you hold your iPhone in the proper firing position to use it. Now, you don't actually need the App Blaster device to play the game. The app is similar to a free program you can get on the Nintendo 3DS, where you engage in combat with aliens who come at you from all sides while using your camera to make the background. This app shows up from time to time elsewhere, but this is the only 100% free one I've found, aside from...

4) "SuperHero Augmented Reality" OR "Webslinger" (Sony Pictures)

These apps recently came out for free at Walmart and does involve a little trek around the store to take pictures of the ads that unlock additional features, but at least they don't charge you for that. The Avengers "Superhero AR" App has a game which is similar to Alien Attack, only you play as your favorite Avenger (once you unlock them). The game starts with Hawkeye unlocked and I think you can unlock Black Widow with the picture up there, so even though most of the signs have been taken down, the game is still sorta playable.

Its replacement is "Webslinger" for the Amazing Spiderman. While still sort of unreleased as more content will be added later this month, it looks like it might be as fun as Avengers AR and might be worth a look.

5) Where's My Water? Free (Disney)

Another demo version of a pay game. In this one, you try to maneuver pools of water into the tub of an alligator by getting rid of sewer sludge and manipulating spouts and locks. The free version has 24 levels while the pay version (which is just $0.99) boasts it has 200. Another one where you exhaust the demo version before getting the full thing.

Honorable Mention) Sol Free

An Honorable Mention because, while free, it's...solitare...

So, while not many of them are perfectly free games, at least they don't lure you in with candy then mug you in the back ally like a lot of these "freemium" apps do. I'd say keep a handle on what your children are downloading and make sure you check and see if the supposedly "free" app has any freemium features on them by checking the app in iTunes on your home computer, which lists all of the in-app purchasing content in the sidebar to the left. I think freemium games should at least get their own section as even movie tie-in games like Madagascar are adding in-app purchasing features now. There is the ability to disable in-app purchases on your phone, but to avoid the hassling of whiny kids who want you to unlock the in-app purchases and then pay for them, simply do not allow any games with those features on your phone and don't expect your child to show restraint if you do put one of those apps on there.

EDIT: Sorry, I had to correct something. The name of the Walmart Spiderman App is actually "Webslinger", but it works much the same way as the Superhero AR app.

Also, I have pictures of the ads to unlock The Hulk and Thor in SuperHero AR with a salvaged piece of the set. Could someone try out their iPhones and tell me if they work? Click the pic, then follow the instructions in SuperHero AR.