Android · annoyances · games · iOS · stupidity · video

Tiny Farm: Fix your inventory, Com2uS!

Edit on September 4th, 2014: Com2uS actually revised the inventory system an update or two ago so this post is no longer relevant. However, I’m keeping it here just to show folks that infinite scrolling is a really terrible design.

Phew. It’s been a while since I wrote up an entry on Tiny Farm. I’m still playing it because I love collecting the super cute animals. I just wish animal certificates weren’t so expensive. I’ve long exhausted the ability to buy them with gold. Have to rely on Bells now. 😦

Anyway, Tiny Farm received a massive overhaul a few weeks ago. Oddly, the ONLY revision the inventory UI received was reduced icon sizes so now each page has 2 lines of items instead of a single one. While that reduces the amount of scrolling one had to endure, it still means A LOT of scrolling for someone like me that has tons of things in storage. Sure, I can sell stuff like fences and rebuy them but why would I? Why should I have to? I’d rather save the money to spend on other things like the unnecessarily expensive lottery draw events.

I recorded the video on my iPad mini with Retina to show how idiotic the inventory design is. In it, you will see that I have to scroll forever to find the freakin’ Yellow Lotus Lantern that was automatically placed in inventory after claiming it from the gift area. I know I zoom past it in the initial scroll-by but it’s just to show that it doesn’t pop up at the end like what other sadistic developers may do with new things you get. At least that would make some sort of sense. This lantern showed up on page 7 or so.

The video was originally longer to show that every single item I have in the gift area is subject to the same random treatment but I decided just showing the lantern was enough.

So what can be done to improve the damnable design? Here are my suggestions:

  • ALL new items/animals you get should appear at the BEGINNING of your inventory.
  • Additional tabs on the side to sort between plants/trees, fences, and decorations just like in the freakin’ Store page.
  • Some ability to manually input a search string to look for something.

I wonder if there’s something in the code that’ll make these additions extremely difficult to implement? There’s no reason such logical ideas haven’t found their way into the game yet. It’s been over TWO YEARS since Tiny Farm debuted. Inventories will only get larger over time. >:/

I might fire off a message to Com2uS about this. A few weeks ago, I complained about the simplicity of the Com2uS Hub to them such as the inability to easily locate one’s post and the lack of a search function (for keywords and users) so what’s another complaint? XD They can make pretty looking games but they sure can’t seem to create intuitive user interfaces. The Hub is SO backwater it’s not funny. The way it functions is like a message forum from a few decades ago. 9__9

annoyances · games · PS Vita

Ys: Memories of Celceta – Jack of All Trades Trophy is … Ugh

Ys: Memories of Celceta - Jack of All Trades Trophy Get. Yay.
Stupid grind-dependent achievements need to disappear from the gaming world.

I think, under ideal conditions — such as players spending an obscene amount of hours using each character, it’ll be possible to get the max skills trophy without feeling the grind. However, I doubt that that’s the case for many.

According to multiple Japanese walkthrough sites, skills unlock when characters reach certain levels. By level 50, Adol should have 12 skills and everyone else should have 10. Unfortunately, there is some other criteria that governs how they unlock. A quick Google search led me to a GameFAQs post where the author stated that obtaining skills is dependent on fighting tough enemies or enemies that are around your character’s level.

….. The in-game manual mentions the tough foes bit too. 😛

There seems to be a consensus that beating up enemies in the final dungeon is a pretty good way to get any missing skills. I wonder if attacking Foria-Daros will also cause them to unlock as well? The thing is level 59, after all.

Anyway, regardless of the method, I still hate these kinds of mindless trophies. There’s no real sense of accomplishment. In fact, all I got out of it was relief. 😛 I mean, even with the Warrior Seal IV (which boosts skill EXP gain by +4) equipped, it STILL took a chunk of time. (Not sure if it took over an hour since I play on and off. :P) And all I did was rotate between characters, hold the R button + mash the respective button for the skill I wanted to level up over and over until the notice that it was mastered appeared. If I wasn’t going for the Platinum trophy, I wouldn’t have bothered with this at all because it’s a really idiotic “achievement”.

Incidentally, skill levelling has NOTHING to do with successfully executing them on enemies. You can attack air all you want and still master them. :E

annoyances · games · iOS · stupidity

Theatrhythm iOS: A New Decrescendo for Square Enix

Theatrhythm iOS menu
Theatrhythm iOS menu

After the fiasco with Demons’ Score, Square Enix remains undeterred and decides to, once again, put their hands into consumers’ wallets by publishing yet another freemium title that requires in-app purchases in order to get the most out of it. This time, however, it seems like the IAP model is the same across the board so Japanese players are also subject to the madness.

One main difference with Theatrhythm is that, unlike Demons’ Score, it’s a port of the $30 US 3DS game. I’m not going to go into detail about the changes since you can read about them at Joystiq but I WILL write about the sheer insanity of the pricing scheme.

Squenix graciously includes a whopping total of 2 musical tracks: One-Winged Angel from FFVII and Zanarkand from FFX. If you want more you must pay either $1.99 for individual tracks or $4.99 for 4-song bundles. Note that the store menu for songs includes tunes that are NOT among the bundles so if you want all music from each series, you’re looking at at least $7 US for each one. Multiply by that 13 titiles + 1 FFT track, 1 FFX-2 track, 1 FF: CC track, 2 Advent Children tracks + 1 from Type-0 , and 1 FFXIII-2 and you’re at $98 US.

In contrast, $30 US on 3DS will get you over 70 tracks. Of course, if you factor in the DLC, which cost 99 cents each, it’ll probably be another $50 US. But still, it’s not hard to see that the better deal is on the Nintendo system.

The iOS version also keeps a few of the unlockable 3DS characters out of reach by placing them as IAP with a price tag of $2.99 slapped onto each one.

Here’s a brief overview of what you’ll find at the store.

Note (added 11:08 PM EST):

Here’s the story behind the screenshots: I downloaded the game from the Japanese App Store because I thought it wasn’t available in the Canadian one. I also thought the prices reflected in the in-game shop were the actual localized prices. It turns out that the IAP amounts were simply conversions of the yen prices. I didn’t realize that apps now do this because I’ve purchased things from within Taiko no Tatsujin+ and Puzzle & Dragons before and they always displayed in yen prices.

I might replace the screenshots later.

Songs – $1.99 $0.99 Each:

Not listing  all 59 of them but tracks like Dancing Mad, which is a normal unlockable tune in the 3DS version, is among the list.

Theatrhythm iOS - Some tracks from the Songs IAP menu
Theatrhythm iOS – Some tracks from the Songs IAP menu

Song Bundles – $4.99 $2.99 Each:

13 x $4.99
13 x $4.99

FFI Basic Bundle:

Battle, Main Theme, Mt. Gulg, Matoya’s Cave

FFII Basic Bundle:

Battle Theme 1, Battle Theme 2, Main Theme, Tower of the Magi

FFIII Basic Bundle:

Battle 1, Battle 2, Eternal Wind, Crystal Cave

FFIV Basic Bundle:

Battle 1, Battle With The Four Fiends, Main Theme of Final Fantasy IV, Within the Giant

FFV Basic Bundle:

Battle 1, Battle at the Big Bridge, Four hearts, Mambo de Chocobo

FFVI Basic Bundle:

Battle, The Decisive Battle, Terra’s Theme, Searching for Friends

FFVII Basic Bundle:

Let the Battles Begin!, Fight On!, Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII, Cosmo Canyon

FFVIII Basic Bundle:

The Man with the Machine Gun, The Extreme, Blue Fields, Ride On

FFIX Basic Bundle:

Battle 1, The Final Battle, Over the Hill, Dark City Treno

FFX Basic Bundle:

Battle Theme. Fight with Seymour, Mi’hen Highroad, Movement in Green

FFXI Basic Bundle:

Battle Theme, Awakening, Ronfaure, The Sanctuary of Zi’Tah

FFXII Basic Bundle:

Clash of Swords, Esper Battle, Giza Plains, The Dalmasca Estersand

FFXIII Basic Bundle:

Saber’s Edge, Fighting Fate, The Sunleth Waterscape, March of the Dreadnoughts

Characters – $2.99 $1.99 Each:

There are some that you won't find in the 3DS version.
There are some that you won’t find in the 3DS version.

There are 25 in total so far.  iOS exclusive characters include:

  • Celes from FFVI
  • Tifa from FFVII
  • Rinoa from FFVIII
  • Garnet from FFIX
  • Auron from FFX
  • Balthier from FFXII
  • Hope from FFXIII
  • Serah from FFXIII-2
  • Ramza from Final Fantasy Tactics
  • Cosmos from FF series

Since the game is stupid unstable on my iPod touch 4G, I can’t even play any stages. However, even if I could, I’d be stuck playing Zanarkand forever since aside from avoiding One-Winged Angel like a plague, I wouldn’t bother spending any money to get more tracks. After all, it’ll only encourage Square Enix to continue with their idiotic gouging on this platform.

Edit at 10:35 PM EST:

Square Enix lowered the prices for all categories? Now singles cost $0.99, Bundles are $2.99, and Characters are $1.99. So the new total will be $147.03:

Singles: $58.41

Bundles: $38.87

Characters: $49.75

I do wonder about something though — when I originally got the game, it was off the Japanese App Store because I thought it wasn’t out in the Canadian one. Could it be that the yen prices were auto-converted to Canadian because a single is ¥170 which is like $1.99 Canadian. However, the bundles are ¥450 which comes out to $5.28 Canadian. (Conversions are done with http://xe.com/). I suppose Apple’s got its own conversion thing going. Weirdness.

Oh well, the zany overall price still remains but it’s no longer near the $250 mark. 😛

annoyances · life · shopping · stupidity

Toys R Us needs to learn what a confirmation e-mail is

I purchased a lovely red and black 3DS XL on Black Friday from the Toys R Us Canada Website. Then, in my infinite wisdom, I decided that I was too impatient and went out on Saturday morning to get it directly from the brick and mortar store. I figure, since I can return the one I got from online once it arrives, things should be fine, right? (I’ll be out the shipping costs but that’s besides the point. :E)

So after receiving the package yesterday, I got all the paperwork together and headed to the store this morning.

Here’s what you’re supposed to bring as noted in the shipping e-mail and on the packing slip as well:

Easy Returns: You can return an item in any of our store locations across Canada or return directly to our warehouse. Simply follow the steps below for instructions on our return process:

Visit a Toys“R”Us/Babies“R”Us Store

      1. Please pack the product in its original packaging.
      2. Bring a copy of your packing slip.
      3. Bring a copy of your confirmation email.

I brought all of this but was denied a refund back onto my MasterCard. Why? Because the confirmation e-mail I brought wasn’t the one they needed. It was supposed to show the credit card number on it.

I thought for a bit and wondered if I missed an e-mail because the order confirmation one sure didn’t have anything about what card I used or the card number.

Anyway, in my infinite wisdom again and since a line was forming, I opted for the store credit. So now, I am out $200 on my credit card. I suppose I could use all of that for Christmas shopping but I never meant my budget to be that high this year. 😛

Once I got back home, I doubled checked every damn e-mail I got from Toys R Us. NOTHING had a credit card number on it.

Hell, here it is. Sorry for the size but it was the only way to show it on a single page. (It can be enlarged a bit if it’s clicked on though.):

toysrusconfemail

Then I decided to log into my account at the Toys R Us Website.

THERE IT WAS. This is what they’re looking for:

Hey, Toys R Us, this Webpage doesn't count as a fucking confirmation E-MAIL.
Hey, Toys R Us, this doesn’t count as a fucking confirmation E-MAIL.

Under Payment Method, it shows the card + last 4 digits. But as the caption reads, THIS IS NOT A CONFIRMATION E-MAIL. It’s a fucking order status on the fucking WEBSITE. If you want people to bring this, you should explicitly state so.

What’s even MORE hilarious is that their Returns & Warranty page under their Help section says the same thing as the information at the bottom of the shipping e-mail but with the added note in the parentheses:

Returning to a Toys”R”Us/Babies”R”Us Store 
To avoid paying shipping to return the item you can bring your purchase to the nearest Toys”R”Us/Babies”R”Us Store. Please bring the following items with you:

a. Packing slip
b. Confirmation email (This is used to confirm original method of payment)
c. Please pack the product in its original packaging

I didn’t check this earlier but if I did, I may have been scratching my head and wondering how they could confirm my method of payment without  it being listed and I would have did more investigation. But hey, maybe they could check via order number or something? Who am I to argue what’s written there?

However, the point still stands that they’re looking for a bloody confirmation e-mail. And why the fuck the payment info isn’t listed in the order confirmation in the first place is beyond me. Maybe it is in the US?

At any rate, I shot off a letter of complaint to them and requested to have my store credit reversed and put back on my MasterCard. Yeah, you can argue that it should be common sense to show something that indicated how the purchased was paid but I followed their instructions to the T and it shouldn’t be my responsibility to hunt down missing information for their convenience. I thought all they would have needed was an order number to verify in the system or something. Well, they wanted the confirmation e-mail and they fucking got it.
toysrusragetrans
Edit: Since I requested that they change the wording in the return policy regarding the term “confirmation e-mail”, here’s a screencapped version of the instructions in case it’s changed at some point.

Edit #2: This is gold. Customer service has reading comprehension issues.

Here’s the message I sent via the “Contact Us” form as quoted by the service agent that replied a few hours after I sent:

Letter of complaint to Toys R Us

Here is the reply. Note that utterly unhelpful it is. On top of that, it’s clear that they just use generic replies:

Reply from Toys R Us customer service

Thanks for completely ignoring my issue. Gonna reply to it soon.

annoyances · games · iOS

DJMax Ray issues

Edit on Feb 1st, 2013: I meant to write this earlier but Neowiz has decided to not even try to support jailbroken devices. They just automatically assume everyone that uses one pirates, I guess. Pretty sad. This just means they won’t get my money. Anyway, I could swear that Tap Sonic is immune to IAP hacking but works fine with jailbroken devices so why can’t apply the same type of programming or whatever to DJMax Ray?

Edit on March 17, 2013: I’ve upgraded to iOS 6.1.2 yesterday and updated to the newest version of DJMax Ray so I decided to give it a try again. With jailbreak, you can now log into Pmangplus and be online for ranking and stuff but you CANNOT buy any in-app purchases. Since I wanted to explore 6.1.2 more, I restored my iPod touch and currently using stock OS. It was only this way that I was able to buy the Dramatic music pack. (I wanted it for My Heart, My Soul, and Ventilator.) :/

~~~~~~~~~~~

Update on October 10th: I got a reply back from PmangPlus support. They said that they’ve already submitted an update (version 1.0.2) that should fix the random data reset problem. I really hope it does. >:/

——————

Neowiz released version 1.0.1 yesterday which addresses some sort of login issue to PmangPlus. Since I’m not getting rampant data reset issues whenever I finish a tune, I assume that the update was somehow related to that. However, I still experience the following:

  • If you happen to be taking a screenshot of a results screen and accidentally hold the Home button too long, the game will minimize (which is normal behaviour) but the user data will reinitialize. >_> I suppose the quick fix for this is not to take screencaps of the game but seriously, something like this shouldn’t exist and is a developer issue.
  • The game abruptly exiting/minimizing into the multi-task area while playing. This can happen at any time with any song. The good thing is that you’re not thrown back to level 1 anymore when you go back into the game. I’m guessing this could be some sort of memory leak problem? I just manually exit and restart the game from time to time in hopes that that’ll help. ^^ I really hate nearly full comboing a tune and racking up a high score only for the stupid app to close on itself. >:E

I’ve had to start all over multiple times already and really wish they could have just gotten the bugs ironed out before the game’s release. I know some folks that were/are getting errors when attempting to do in-app purchases but I was lucky enough that mine went through with little issue. It was still a scare when I didn’t get a purchase confirmation right away though. Hopefully, the latest update corrected the IAP problems too.

Sigh. Kind of annoyed that it’s going to take a while to reach my original leaderboard points. 😛 I was at level 10 when the game just hiccuped and kicked me back to level 1. >___>

Anyway, I’m not a Technika player so Ray is the first time I’ve never heard this tune. I like this quite a bit~!

Also like Angel~! I wonder if Technika Tune has these? Guess I could look up the track list of the game.

Ah! Splendid! They are~! :3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DJMax_Technika_Tune Oh geez, Jumpin’ by KARA is too? XD I’m only familiar with the Japanese version though. Hoping the US release won’t take out some of these tracks cuz it looks like a pretty good list! (DJMax Metro Project? Is that a combination of Clazziquai Edition and Black Square or something? :/ Oh, it includes the first Technika as well?)

Oh yeah, meant to show this earlier:

DJMAX Ray - Extracting the music files
i-FunBox for all your iOS browsing needs! :3 (http://www.i-funbox.com/)

i-FunBox is a file manager for Windows and Mac platforms and you can use it with your iOS device even if it’s not jailbroken. (However, if you intend to do some illegal software installations — re: pirating apps — you’ll find that the program won’t support such things.)

The screenshot shows the folder where you can find your music. I have a suspicion that the app already includes all the tracks and note patterns and that IAP only unlocks them because, IIRC, I didn’t have to do any additional downloads when I bought the bundle.

annoyances · games · iOS · stupidity

$40 iOS Game from Square Enix? You Better Believe It.

I realize this isn’t new news but I figure I’d play my part and spread the word because, frankly, this is quite disgusting.

————

SE has been known for its zany pricing which has been loving dubbed as “Square (Enix) Tax” by various iOS gamers. A lot of times, people could see that a port of a PSP or Nintendo DS game, while still running close to $20 US, is relatively cheaper than buying the game to play on the parent system. And then there are those that will also defend the pricing scheme of critically acclaimed titles like the Chaos Rings series that are made specifically for the mobile platform. These particular fans will tell you that the quality of the games justify the premium prices.

Finally, you get something like Demons’ Score, a $7 US rhythm action game with a whopping $35+ worth of in-app purchases. You may think that it’s just for virtual currency and silly little aesthetic changes but NOPE. These IAP are content-based; that is, unless you want to play the same two music tracks ad infinitum, be prepared to donate your life savings to Square.

Strangely enough, Japan is not affected by this madness. While the title is sold at a higher price from the get-go, all content is already included. Simply put, for roughly $20 US, you get the entire game. To drive home the point, you can see the pricing comparison with screenshots at http://www.pocketgamer.co.uk/r/iPhone/Demons’+Score/news.asp?c=45198

The revelation of the price discrepancy obviously isn’t going over very well with gamers around the world. However, I came across a post over the forums at The Escapist that suggests that it’s plausible SE considered the chance that Demons’ Score wouldn’t really be something the international market would eat up with a $20 price tag. Now, if there really was some sort of market research that was done to determine the possible behaviour and reaction of international rhythm gaming fans, Square Enix fans, and iOS gamers to the title, then why didn’t they just convert the $7 game to a free Lite version or at least reduce the price? (The obvious answer is that they wanted to make some sweet profit from the “trial” version. Kind of sickening.)

Honestly, I’m down with people defending the prices of ports and some of Square’s other premium priced games, but I can’t imagine anyone approving them for gouging users like this.

Android · annoyances · iOS

The Dos and Don’ts of Seeking and Giving Reviews on the App and Google Play Stores

Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece not some actual guide. 😛

—————

I’m certain I’m not the only person that’s annoyed at coming across useless reviews on the App Store and Google Play Store; you know, the ones that just read “5 stars! Instabuy!” or “This game is really fun!” or “Boring”. Is it really that difficult to give some constructive criticism or elaborate why you think the game is fun? I’m not sure about most folks but when I’m looking for opinions or any justification for purchasing an app, I want to some proper details. The chance of me getting something due to 10,000 5-star ratings and a bunch of reviews that consist mostly of “Great!” isn’t very high but I must admit that the high rating WILL get me to at least read the app description and take a look at the screenshots.

Yeah, I know there are sites dedicated to reviewing apps but why should I have to deliberately go to one of those when there’s a bloody section under each product information page dedicated to USER REVIEWS? A good review doesn’t have to comprise of  1,000 words. A simple list of pros and cons would do the trick. Honestly, I think  the section should be renamed to “USER COMMENTS” like on YouTube because that’s pretty much what they’re like.

What’s funny is that you’ll most likely get the stupid, pointless single-word reviews and such on apps where the developers ask for a review; especially if they offer some sort of incentive in return. Yes, there are developers that will BRIBE users to give them a 5-star or positive review. In fact, let’s get into the whole dos and don’ts now:

Developer Dos

  • Ask for a review after the user uses the app a few times

    Some devs honestly want feedback which is great because it’s an indication that they actually care what people think about their products. And it’s really great when the request for a review appears after using the app multiple times or an extended period of time. Why? Well, you’d most likely be familiar with it enough to write something meaningful that will help developers understand the needs and wants of their users to improve their works.  As well, you’d end up assisting fellow iOS and/or Android users to make the decision of whether or not they should install the application. After all, that’s the purpose of reviews, yes?

Developer Don’ts

  • Ask for a review right after you run the app for the first time

    You’re probably laughing at this but this actually happened. It’s hard to tell with this screenshot of Armageddon on Stick Guy but I kid you not that, before you can even hit Start, this bloody window pops up:

    Before you can even start playing the game ...
    PLEASE REVIEW IT … even before you play it!

    Yeah, I can see the “Review Later” button but how could they honestly hope that the “application satisfied” me when I didn’t even have the chance to play the game? No one can magically form an opinion before experiencing the product. Obviously, these guys didn’t grasp the concept of properly timing the request.

  • Ask for a 5-star rating

    Companies do this to inflate their ranking on the app stores, thus allowing them to be “featured apps” and also have more visibility on the apps charts. Besides, highly ranked apps are most likely to be downloaded/purchased. Com2uS USED to do this but have since gotten smart and changed their spiel to something like “Your positive reviews will keep us motivated!”. I think a lot of freemium-loving devs still pointedly ask for the 5 stars though.

    Yes, there WILL be people that actually like an app and will gladly rate it full stars. I realize that. But there’s also a fact that many users are just doing it because it’s specifically petitioning you to do so.

  • Ask for a positive/5-star rating in exchange for perks

    This is another example of rank inflation but this method is even more effective because the user gets something in return like virtual money to use in their games. You’ll find that many game developers that create games with in-app purchases practice this. And sadly, it works. The result, however, is the User Reviews section being flooded with inane and shallow insights like “Very good game! I like it!”. Some may mean it, most of them probably don’t and are only writing one for the goodies they get in exchange. Here’s an example of an honest review from this bribe tactic (which wasn’t written by me):

    I just wanted the coins
    “I just wanted the cash”

User Dos

  • Write critiques

    User reviews aren’t meant for praising the hell out of developers. If there’s something genuinely disrupting your enjoyment of the app, mention it. Chances are, there are other users like you and would like to know about the issue.

  • Edit reviews

    Opinions and experiences can change the more you use an app so one should consider modifying an existing review. For example, I’ve seen instances where people leave a review about bugs only to revise them later on after an update fixes the problems. It’s great that fellow users do this because sometimes, the change logs don’t have any information or just provide a generic “bug fix” statement.

    However, I wish more revisions would happen with those apps where the review request happens way too early like  in some roleplaying games. I mean, 5 minutes into it and you’re asking me to review it? Unless the total gameplay actually lasts 5 minutes and I’ve experienced all that it could offer, I refuse to write anything about it. Can you imagine professional reviewers basing their reviews on a few minutes of using an app? It just doesn’t make any sense.

User Don’ts

  • Submit absolutely unhelpful reviews

    “This sucks.”

    “dddddddddd”

    “This company always makes the best apps! 5 stars!”

    “I’m giving 5 stars even and I didn’t even start it!”

    “Yay!”

    “This game is good.”

    I think these account for a good majority of reviews in existence on every single app store. Notice how uninformative those quotes are? Yeah, I made them up on the spot but if I wanted to, I can probably dig up a few of these EXACT reviews from both the App Store and Google Play Store. About the “dddddddddd”, something like this usually comes about from those bribe type review requests. It’s a simple case of “Well, I can’t think of what to write/can’t be bothered to write something but I NEED to write something because I want those coins/points/diamonds/cash/gems since I can’t just rate it 5 stars”. (Actually, in a lot cases, you don’t even NEED to rate OR write anything. Just switch back to the game and the payment will be there. Also, you writing something into the review/comments field is not mandatory at either Store.)

  • “Add me”/Just leaving your referral code

    This relates to those semi-social/social games like Rage of Bahamut where the player providing the referral code and the player entering it will both benefit in-game in some way. I suppose it could be seen as helping out a new user but come on, there are A LOT of message forums dedicated to mobile games and there’s a good possibility that the developers have a forum for the game too. Do the code listing on those instead.

I suppose I should add some sort of conclusion. Basically, I wrote this up just to vent some of the frustrations I have regarding developers exploiting the review system and users just being dumb. When it comes to rating an app, reviews are OPTIONAL on BOTH the App Store and Google Play Store so if you don’t have anything marginally useful to say, just select the number of stars you want to give an app and, for the love of God, don’t write anything. If you have to, be honest and provide some information that other users can walk away with. For instance, if you really like something, explain why.

Android · annoyances · games · iOS

Witch Wars: Puzzle — A Battle for Your Money

Once again, I download and play a game by freemium experts, Com2uS. And, once again, I rage at it.

There’s no denying that the games they create are fun and addicting, but if you’re the type that MUST unlock every item, skill, character, etc. as soon as possible, it’s in your best interest to stay the hell away from Com2uS games. The reason for this is simple: all their games are designed exploit impatience and to eat your wallet.

Let’s take a look at the Witch Wars: Puzzle. (iOS version here and Android version here.) It’s a match-3 puzzle game that plays like  Dungeon Raid (Android version here). It also reminds me a little of the battles in Puzzle Quest albeit in a really simplified form. The gameplay consists of matching 3 to 6 icons of the same type. Depending on the icon (see screenshot below), you will experience different effects. I can go deeper into the gameplay mechanics but I won’t because that’s not the point of this blog post … although I should note that the gold circle with the star in the middle is the icon for coins. Match 3 or more of these to get in-game money that can be spent on upgrades and unlocking more characters.  The amount you get is dependent on the gameplay mode. Why did I highlight the coin? Because it ties into the pay-to-win or grind-like-crazy model of Witch Wars: Puzzle.

Witch Wars: Versus Mode Gameplay Area
Witch Wars: Versus Mode Gameplay Area

When you first enter the game, you will be greeted by a screen like this:

Witch Wars - Daily Bonus Crap
Log in for a different perk each day!

It’s a trend among free-to-play games where they lure players into logging into game every single day by giving players “daily bonuses”*. In the case of Witch Wars, you will either get an unlocked character or coins.

* In my mind, it’s obvious that this is a tactic to get hook people onto the game. After all, they offer in-game currency, among other things, that could be used to upgrade your units, cards — anything you need to progress. Once you become addicted, you’ll want to advance further into the game. Eventually, you’ll realize that things get prohibitively expensive and will require a) lots of hours of simply grinding, b) installing a crap ton of apps or signing up for shit you don’t want to just to get FREE virtual money via monetization services like Tapjoy, or c) real money to buy virtual money.

As seen in the screenshot above, there are 7 playable characters. Athena, the left-most character, is sole character that is available right from the get-go. All other characters require  hefty payment starting from 3000 coins. You may think that Com2uS is generous enough to hand over these characters over the course of 7 days. Unfortunately, that is NOT the case; a witch made usable through a daily bonus gift can only be brought into either friendly matches (re: versus mode) or online matches where you can play against opponents randomly chosen by the game server. She’s also only available for 24 hours. If you WANT to keep the character, you have to pay.

On top of this, every single character has 3 passive, 3 aggressive skills, and Health Points that can be upgraded. Unsurprisingly, the cost of each skill and Health Point will increase per level. Now, you may think that the prices aren’t all that bad and that’s where Com2uS gets you. The main problem lies in the fact that it’s unnecessarily difficult to rack up coins. In Normal difficulty Single Match mode, a line of 3 coins will get you 1 measly coin while Hard and Hell difficulties give you double or triple the coins.

Witch Wars - Single Match Mode Difficulty Types
Single Match Mode Difficulty Selection Screen

Getting extra money sure is a great thing so you’ll probably just want to grind on Hard and Hell. However, you have to contend with staying alive and praying that the game will actually give you freakin’ coins to match. Heck, I can’t even bank 80 – 100 coins by the time I reach Stage 9 or 10 on Hard. Hell is out of the question for me since I can’t even get past the second character. XD

If you’re like me, you will never want to spend hours upon hours on Single Matches for the sake of making money. Thankfully, Witch Wars: Puzzle does provide the player with other gameplay modes such as Flash Mode, Infinity Mode, Versus Mode, and Online Matches. In my opinion, NONE of these modes are worth it for coins EXCEPT Infinity Mode. I’ll explain the reason for this later on.

Yes, I suppose gifted players won’t have too much trouble getting a lot of coins on any mode — my definition of a lot is “over 300 coins per run on Infinity Mode”. Of course, you can always opt into the Tapjoy offers to sign up for magazines, various digital subscription services, buy crap you don’t need, or download and run apps you’ll probably just uninstall after you get the coins. Naturally, the quickest way to get the necessary amount of virtual money is through in-app purchase. The lowest denomination is 2,000 coins which can be purchased for $1.99 and the maximum amount you can get through a single transaction is 75,000 coins which will require you to throw $49.99 at Com2uS. I’m not sure 75,000 coins will cover all unlocks and upgrades though. (I’m kind of leaning toward no.)

Witch Wars - Skills Upgrade Menu
Getting the required thousands of coins to max out all skills can take a long while.

Now, let’s run through this again: every single character has a total of 6 skills as well as health points that can be upgraded. If you don’t mind sticking to Athena and maybe 1 or 2 other characters then you may not mind all the work (or money you spend) needed to obtain and raise them. But if you’re the ambitious, obsesssive-compulsive type that HAS to have every single character unlocked and all skills maxed out, then be prepared to spend eons playing the game or making Witch Wars: Puzzle the most expensive game you’ve ever owned.

Here’s a tip though: The best way to get coins without succumbing to the Free Coins offers or adding expenses to your monthly budget is Infinity Mode. A single playthrough usually nets me 100 – 300 coins as the frequency of coin icons appearing is seemingly higher. I would believe many players could even get greater amounts but as you may have gleaned from this post so far, I’m not the greatest at puzzle games. :/

Anyway, for me — since I play with next to no strategy so setting up combos and 3+ icon matches isn’t my thing — I find that I can play Infinity Mode at a casual pace up to level 8. Once I’m past that, I have to start moving faster. 😛  The trick, therefore, is to play slowly and never let the timer get to the right side. Once it does that, you’ll end up at the next level and the higher the level, the faster the timer will drop.  If you go at a snail’s pace, you can nab as many coins as you can before you get to a level where you have to race against time. It’s possible that you’ll be forced onto a higher level though since you’ll probably get a chain of combos by accident.

Witch Wars - Infinity Mode Select Screen
My current score is actually higher than this now. ^^

I’m probably going to get some flack like I did with my first post about Tiny Farm since people will disagree with the way I present the game and Com2uS, but it’s really how I feel about this type of money-grubbing game design. Anyway, my next entry will probably be my critiques on devs seeking reviews as well as user review etiquette on the App Store and Play Store. :3 I’ve been meaning to write that one up for a while.

Android · annoyances · iOS

Play Store continues to NOT impress

Hey Google, I found no less than 5 games that I want to try out from the App Store today. Too bad I can’t say the same for the Play Store.

See this: http://appshopper.com/user/nunuu/wishlist? I do believe that over 90% of these titles are NOT on Android. And I don’t want knock-offs; I want the ACTUAL apps to be on Google Play. (I know it’s not exactly Google’s fault per se since it’s up to the developers to release their games and programs on Android but there’s gotta be something about the OS or policy that’s keeping them away.)

And is it my imagination or is there STILL nothing on Android that provides the handy wishlist + e-mail updates for tracked apps for price drops as AppShopper, which, incidentally remains iOS-only. (And I THINK I know why — it’s because it has ties to Touch Arcade (referring to it as a sister site and all) which is only focused on Apple stuff. SIGH.)

I know Best Market Apps has the wish list option but I don’t think you can set up e-mail notifications for any changes that happen with the stuff on the list.

Android · annoyances

End of Summer Sale on Google Play: One of These Things (Is Not Like The Others)

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Something is strange among the sale apps ...
Can you see which one is the odd one out? (Click on image to see full size)

Continue reading “End of Summer Sale on Google Play: One of These Things (Is Not Like The Others)”