Kingdom Rush Game Trilogy

This post is rather past due, as the games I am about to mention were released many years ago.

I’m a big fan of tower defense games. They’re my favorite game genre, especially when it comes to mobile or iPad gaming. If you’re a fan of the genre, you should definitely check out these games, if you haven’t already.

A friend introduced me to Kingdom Rush many years ago. It was made way back in 2011. I didn’t know about it at the time. I originally played the game on my phone, and then later on my iPad. (The iPad versions of the Kingdom Rush game series are named with “HD”.) The game is also available on other platforms, including Steam. I haven’t played it on other platforms, so I can’t speak to the game experiences there.

Kingdom Rush is fantastic! It’s probably my favorite mobile game, ever. The graphics, special effects, and witty audio are all beautifully crafted. The game progression and path to equipment upgrades are very well calculated. In Normal playing mode, the difficulty is not too easy, but also not too hard. It’s balanced to be just right, with steady advancement while continuing to be very challenging.

A couple of years after the original game, Kingdom Rush game developer, Ironhide, developed a sequel called “Kingdom Rush Frontiers.” Frontiers is equally as great as the original, and also incorporates some fun new elements. I definitely recommend it, along with the original Kingdom Rush.

This brings me to the third game in the series, “Kingdom Rush Origins.” I recently discovered it in the App Store a couple of months ago, but to my surprise, it was released back in 2014. Origins is a prequel in the series. The game has the same layout and concept as the first two, but with different weapons, graphics, and sound effects. Since it is a prequel to the other games, the weaponry is more primitive and simplistic. Their approach is quite creative, but I find the Origins game to be rather frustrating. It is simply too hard.

After the first few introductory levels, the difficulty increases too much, too fast. The number of plots available to construct towers seems unreasonably limited. After a few minor successes, unpredicted enemies simply steamroll through the village, that seemingly no amount of weapon deployments and upgrades can put a dent in. At other times, enemies appear that disable your defense towers for a period of time, allowing even more armies of enemies to march right past unscathed. Such difficult scenarios should only occur in the latest stages of the game — not near the beginning, or the middle. This brings a level of frustration that makes Origins a nuisance to play.

While I wholeheartedly recommend Kingdom Rush and Kingdom Rush Frontiers, I really cannot recommend Origins. It feels as if the game is nearly unwinnable with the tools they have provided. Your mileage may vary, but this was my experience. The difficulty was increased beyond the limit of enjoyment.

It is worth mentioning that none of these games are free. Each (mobile version) costs several dollars each. I personally have no problem with that. I’m perfectly willing to pay for a good quality game that provides hours of entertainment. My only gripe about that is when you purchase a game upfront but still they later encourage you to make additional in-app purchases to maintain a competitive edge in the game. Such, I believe is the case with Origins. That is why I can’t recommend that branch of the series.

Looking forward, I have read news online that the game developer Ironhide had announced in 2017 that they were working on a fourth installment to the series. However, as of this writing in July 2018, I haven’t been able to find any further information about what that will be, or whether the game will actually come to fruition.

Kingdom Rush

Everybody’s Golf PS4 Local Multiplayer

I’ll jump straight to the point: Does “Everybody’s Golf” on PlayStation 4 allow local multiplayer? Yes!

There. Said and done. If you want to read more, continue on…

Ages ago I used to play an old PlayStation 2 game called Hot Shots Golf. I don’t remember why I had it at the time, but it turned out to be an incredibly fun game. The playful, cartoonish nature of the gameplay made it far more fun than the more serious variety of golf games, such as PGA Tour.

Hot Shots Golf 3 was made way back in 2002. I hadn’t thought about the game in a long time, until I was going through a box of old video games in my closet. I found this game and fired up my old PS2 to play it once again. The graphics are dated, for sure, but the overall fun is certainly still there.

With that backstory out of the way, I was searching online to see if the developer had made a more recent version of the game. The answer is yes!

The international version of Hot Shots Golf was called Everybody’s Golf. The company had ditched the Hot Shots Golf name in favor of a unified title. To my surprise, a shiny new release of Everybody’s Golf hit the PlayStation 4 in late 2017. I was so excited! It became an instant must-have.

I will note that Everybody’s Golf (and its predecessors) are made by a game studio in Japan, and are distributed by Sony Computer Interactive. As such, these titles aren’t available on the XBOX.

My friend and I went to GameStop to look for this game. They had the game, but we were sorely disappointed to see that the backside of the case was labeled as one-player only. (There were online multiplayer options, but that wasn’t my immediate interest.) The one-player limitation completely took the wind out of our sails.

While in the store, I scrambled on my phone to search online for clarification about the possibly a local multiplayer option. I wasn’t able to find any definitive answer about it on any websites, reviews, or message boards. It was a rather quick search, but a direct answer was elusive.

Despite that major potential drawback, we decided to buy the game anyway.

And…

I am here to tell you that the game DOES support local multiplayer! (A few online forums had commented that you need to share a single controller, but that is absolutely not true.) You can play the game in local multiplayer mode using multiple controllers. Why the box lists the game as one-player is beyond me. It makes no sense because it is completely untrue. I wonder how many potential sales they’ve lost by labeling that on there.

Beyond the multiplayer aspect, the game play is excellent. The characters aren’t quite as goofy as the old Hot Shots game, but all of the fun game elements are still there. In fact, the controls are the same as the game I played all those years ago. The graphics are modern and attractive. The sound effects are great, too. In versus mode, you can even still taunt your opponent by making noises using your controller when it’s not your turn. That feature was an old favorite of mine from the previous game.

I’ve only played Everybody’s Golf for a few days. This post isn’t meant to be an overall review. The only reason that I wrote this was to put something online that clearly stated that local multiplayer does work in this game.

Everybody’s Golf is a blast. What sets it apart from other games is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously compared to traditional sports games. It’s probably one of the most chill games you can play on a game console. I am impressed that this whimsical classic lives on.

While writing this post, I did tweet Sony about this. I tweeted: “@PlayStation Sony, why did you label Everybody’s Golf PS4 as 1-player on the game box? Almost didn’t buy it due to that. It DOES have local “vs” mode, and I love it! You need to make local multiplayer ability abundantly clear on the packaging.”

Everybody's Golf

Ready 2 Rumble Boxing Round 2 for PS2 – Activate Rumble

I was browsing the local flea market yesterday and stumbled upon an old classic. Ready 2 Rumble Round 2 boxing for the old PlayStation 2 (PS2). I have fond memories of this fun old boxing game. It was released back in 2000! 17 years ago. Wow. Regardless, the gameplay and characters are hilarious.

I bought the game on the cheap, and went about playing it with my friend last night. For the life of us, we could not figure out how to activate the rumble ability. I performed countless searches on my phone and my computer to find the answer. Promising links all around, but when I went to a page, I was never presented with the answer. It was so frustrating. We simply could not find the answer. My friend and I both tried every combination of buttons on the controller, seemingly to no avail.

Eventually, there was a breakthrough. We figured it out, and I have the answer. I’m going to present the solution here in a clear, simple form so that others who are searching the Internet for this answer can find it here.

Here’s the deal!

When you have the full RUMBLE letters, press R1 and R2 at the same time. Rumble mode is activated. Once you are in rumble mode and your boxing gloves are glowing white, press and hold the SQUARE and TRIANGLE buttons simultaneously. While holding square and triangle, jostle the left analog joystick. That will unleash the hyperactive punching and uppercut fury in rumble mode.

There you have it. Plain and simple. You’re welcome, Internet.

Fallout Shelter on iOS

I bought an iPad Mini in December, and soon went in search of some great games to play on it. One of the first games that I downloaded was Fallout Shelter. It had excellent user ratings and best of all, it was free. I hadn’t played any of the traditional Fallout games, so the franchise was new to me.

The game is great! Beyond the simple enjoyment of the game play, I’m really impressed with how well the app itself is put together. It is solid. It runs smoothly without any glitches, and it has never crashed on me once. It is a bit slow to load, but it has a lot to think about, so I’ll give it a pass on that.

Fallout Shelter is described as a “mobile simulation” game. You build rooms in your vault and assign dwellers to perform different tasks in those rooms. At the basic level, you begin by building rooms that generate power, food, and water. You are encouraged to assign dwellers to particular rooms based on their skill set. After you’ve played the game for some time, rooms are unlocked that can be added to increase the skills of the dwellers.

You can add new dwellers to the vault in two ways. One is by building a radio room and staffing it with dwellers that have high charisma. Dwellers in the wasteland will detect the radio broadcast and arrive to join the vault. Note: The radio room is not available at the beginning of the game.

That leads me to the second way to add dwellers — making babies. Simply drag a man and a woman into the living quarters and sit back and wait a short while. They’ll begin exchanging small talk, and eventually the couple will run off together. The small talk is quite clever and funny, I might add. The game developers appear to have had some fun with that. After the couple returns from running off-screen, the woman emerges pregnant. There is a waiting period before the child arrives, who after that must grow up to become an adult before they can become productive in the vault. Dwellers that are related cannot do this, which is a clever addition.

Naturally, as dwellers are added to the vault, the need for power, food and water increase. Maintaining the balance of energy resources and keeping everyone happy and productive is the main element of the game. Raiders, attacks, fires, and other destructive forces act to slow down your progress.

There is no actual end to the game, except for the limitation that you cannot have more than 200 dwellers in the vault. It makes sense to impose a cap. It’s probably a limitation of the processing power required to calculate and display that much activity.

My vault currently has 89 dwellers. Once I reach 100, I will be able to unlock the final room, which appears to be a bottling facility of some type. At that point, I will reasonably be able to say that I’ve done pretty much everything you can do in the game. To continue adding dwellers beyond that would simply be a matter of having twice as much of everything that I already have in the vault now. I’m nearing the end of the line, but it’s been a lot of fun along the way.

I highly recommend Fallout Shelter. If you like mobile simulation games, you’ll love it. It’s available for iOS and Android. And it’s free! There are in-app purchases available, but I haven’t needed to use any of them, as the game generously allows you to advance painlessly.

I’ve posted a screenshot of my vault below.

Fallout Shelter vault

Pocket Trains

Pocket Trains is a business simulation game from NimbleBit where you manage and grow railroads by transporting cargo around the world. The game was released on iOS and Android in September 2013. I’ve been playing it for a couple of months now. I enjoy the game sound effects and charming 8-bit graphics. I’m currently on level 17 and operating 14 railroads.

The ultimate goal in this game is to acquire a license to operate on every continent and then reach monopoly status on each one. This will take time. Despite playing for a while, I am operating on 4 continents, with 2 remaining to unlock. South America and Oceania are my last two lands to conquer.

Pocket Trains is free. However, you’re incentivized to make in-app purchases to buy extra crates, coins, and game currency called “Bux”. Paying for these items will significantly speed up your game progress, but it is not necessary to pay if you’re willing to be patient and not try to rush through the game. In time, the game will provide you with everything you need to expand your railroads and complete the game without having to spend any real money.

There are countless guides, walkthroughs, and cheat sheets available online for this game. I haven’t actually read any of them. I’ve just been playing through the game on my own, moving cargo about twice a day, and playing casually to build up my railroad operations. Having played it for a while, I have some game tips for you all.

It’s worth making it clear that you can rename your railroads. I didn’t realize this for a while, and as I began to manage new ones, it became hard to tell them apart. Naming the trains is part of the fun. I’ve made silly names that correlate to the color or region of the tracks that they operate on. For example, one of my purple lines is named “Purple Reign”. That amuses me.

If you deploy a train too soon after its last trip, you will get a warning that it needs to be refueled. The game will prompt you to refuel using your Bux, and charge you accordingly depending on the fuel supply that your train currently has remaining. My advice is to never use your Bux to refuel the trains. You need to save your Bux to open the crates that contain parts to make more trains and deploy new railroads. When your fuel is low, simply leave the game and come back later. The trains refuel over time on their own. Also, don’t use the boost feature to speed your train to its destination. Boosts cost Bux and it is a waste of your funds. Just wait it out.

Trains break down over time and require repairs. You can repair broken trains using spare parts you’ve unlocked from crates or by using your coins. In my opinion, the trains break down too frequently. It’s somewhat of a ploy by the developers to get you to waste more of your spare parts and coins so that you’ll be tempted to hurry to get more by using the in-app purchases. My suggestion to you is to simply ignore the train breakdowns. The trains will all still operate while being broken, but they can only move at the slow speed of 25 MPH. As long as you’re not in a hurry to blow through this game, the slow speed is fast enough to reasonably complete your missions. Don’t waste your loot on keeping the trains in perfect working order. It’s worth noting that the longer you run your trains without repairing them, the higher the cost of the repair, should you decide to finally fix them. Repair fees can quickly grow to massive numbers so be careful not to tap the wrong button when dismissing the warnings.

When laying new tracks and expanding your empire, I highly recommend that you avoid the temptation to build train tracks on long spans of bridges. The cost to deploy tracks over water is rather expensive and can eat up a lot of your profits. As you advance in the game and operate more railroads, the amount of profit you receive increases and it will be easier to afford those bridges later in the game.

You don’t have to unlock access to every major city on a continent to achieve monopoly status for that land, you only need to unlock most of them. Once you achieve monopoly status for that land, turn your attention to building up your coins to spend on buying a license to operate on another continent. Each license costs 50,000 coins. This is why I suggested holding off on building expensive bridges early in the game.

I have an annoyance. Every so often when I load the game, I’ll get a popup window that encourages me to download NimbleBit’s other game offerings, most notably Textropolis and Star Wars Tiny Death Star. I suppose that’s a minor inconvenience for an enjoyable game that they are essentially giving away for free, but the ads tend to get on my nerves. Fortunately, one doesn’t appear very often.

One benefit to playing this game that I didn’t expect when I started playing is that it has helped me learn more about geography. I didn’t realize the locations and distances of a lot of the cities in Asia and Africa until this game gave me the incentive to memorize the maps.

Overall, I have to say that Pocket Trains is a lot of fun. I’ve found it to be quite addictive. I’ve really enjoyed playing it. It sounds like I’ve spent a lot of time on it, but I really haven’t. Just five minutes here and there. I know that once I’ve monopolized the planet with my train empire, the game will be over and its luster will fade away. That is one reason why I’m glad I’ve taken it slow and enjoyed the journey.

If Pocket Trains sounds like fun to you then I definitely recommend downloading it and laying some tracks. Enjoy!

Pocket Trains

Words With Friends Stats – For A Fee

I’ve been playing the game Words With Friends for many years now. I began playing way back in 2009 when I got my first iPod Touch. I’ve never been one to tolerate ads in my games, so I bypassed the free version and bought the paid version of the game for $2.99. I bought it well before Zynga acquired the game from Newtoy, the original creator of Words With Friends.

I’ve often had a dozen games going at once, but there are other times when I haven’t touched the game for a couple of months. Currently, I have about 8 games in progress. I usually make my move on each game board once a day when I go to bed at night, but sometimes more often throughout the day, depending on what I’m doing. In all the years I’ve been playing, there is no doubt that I’ve gotten my $3 worth out of this game.

Since Zynga acquired Words With Friends back in late 2010, the company has made several attempts to eke out ever more dollars from its users, even those of us who already paid to download the game in the past. To date, there are the following bonus items available for in-app purchase: Tile Pile ($0.99), Word-O-Meter ($2.99), and the Ultimate Play Pack ($14.99). I don’t know why any of these bonus features would be necessary for gameplay, or what would compel anyone to actually buy them.

I had asked Zynga for years to add some form of win/loss statistics to the game. I’d never understood why that feature wasn’t incorporated in the initial version. What is the motivation to try as hard as you can to win when your loss ratio isn’t tallied in the first place? Also, what negative reinforcement is there to discourage people from just resigning the games that they clearly aren’t going to win? Unfortunately, people do that all the time. The lack of game stats has been a point of frustration for me.

Here is a tweet I wrote to Newtoy way back on September 14, 2010: “@newtoy Why doesn’t Words With Friends keep a tally of my win/loss count? Can this be added as a feature? I’d like to know my game record.”

Yesterday, Zynga answered the call with a new Words With Friends feature: A lifetime win/loss stats page! It’s about time they finally got around to adding this! Not so fast, though. There is a catch. You must fork out $4.99 to access the stats page! That’s lunacy. I don’t care enough to even pay $1, let alone $5. How many people are going to be willing to pay that much money for some stats that they have been playing without for years already? They are simply trying to squeeze every last drop of money that they can on this game. I don’t approve of this senseless money grab one bit. Sorry, but I won’t be paying $5 for the privilege of seeing my stats. No way!

If you want to play with me, my username is Blitzcraig2.

Words With Friends stats for a fee

Temple Run Rocks

A few weeks ago I discovered the mobile game Temple Run, and was hooked immediately. I was actually introduced to this game by my niece. She asked me to play it on her iPod. After playing it, I downloaded it for myself right away. I don’t know how I hadn’t been aware of this game already. It was originally released way back in August 2011. For someone who likes to play games, I can’t believe I hadn’t already been playing this.

Temple Run is a production of Imangi Studios. It is an endless running game. Gameplay begins with your character running from a temple while being chased by some type of demon creatures. From there your character runs endlessly. It’s up to you to tap, swipe, and tilt to avoid obstacles and collect coins and power-ups. As you build your stockpile of collected coins, you are soon able to use them to purchase enhancements to the game. It is the coin collecting that has made the game so addictive for me.

In-app purchases are available for users who want to purchase coins outright, but I don’t see any need to resort to that. I think that the amount of coins and cost of enhancements is paced perfectly to keep one coming back for more. You can eventually unlock everything you need by playing the game normally.

Temple Run gets my highest recommendation. It is one of the most fun mobile games I’ve ever played. It’s available on iOS, Android, and even Windows Phone. It’s ultra-addictive. Since I downloaded the game, I’ve played it hundreds of times. If you haven’t played it yet, you must. Did I mention it is FREE?

Fans of the game will be pleased to know that Temple Run 2 was released in early 2013. I have the sequel and have played it some. The graphics are more polished in the new game. It is still true to the original, but a tad more complex and sports a few different features. Both are great games, but I’m still perfecting my craft on the original, so I’m trying not to get lured in just yet by the flashy newness of Temple Run 2.

Temple Run

My Windows 8 Upgrade Fiasco: Part 3

This article is the third and final piece of my Windows 8 upgrade fiasco. You may want to read part 1 and part 2 first.

PART 3

After 23 days in waiting, I finally received my Windows 8 Pro install disc in the mail this past weekend. Actually, the package contained two discs, one DVD for 32-bit and another for 64-bit. I created a new 80 GB partition on my computer and installed Win8 64-bit. It installed in very little time, only taking about 10-15 minutes for the whole thing. That part was easy. I went about the business of getting it updated and activated before I attempted to install Battlefield 3.

Windows Update ran and found 22 important updates, totaling 324 MB. After it attempted to install those, it said that the updates failed and it rebooted and reverted the system changes. I cringed. I don’t know what that was about. After that snafu, I went to Windows Update in the control panel and manually selected various updates in small chunks. All of them installed without issue. Odd.

I then tried activating Windows with my product number and it wouldn’t let me. I was not surprised by this. I had read online that activation only works when you are upgrading in place, not creating a clean install. That is ridiculous and all part of Microsoft’s annoying upgrade pricing, but this is well documented. I soon discovered that I could change a small value in the system registry and it would activate. It did. Whew. You can find a link to those instructions here.

My Windows 8 install experience was fine, barring the complications I just mentioned. I have not experienced any system crash like I did when I installed my last copy. This time, I immediately installed the Apple Boot Camp driver package to avoid any driver-related failures. (More on those lackluster drivers later.)

Now I come to the rough part — I installed Battlefield. After two install DVDs and a long time later, the game was on my system. The game had a slew of updates that were required after install. The download package was a whopping 7 GB. That took a while. After it installed all of the updates, it then wanted to download the expansion packs that have come since the original game was released. Those expansion packs contain a lot of map data. They totaled another 7 GB that I had to download. Again, that took a while. All in all, I had to download over 14 GB of data to have a complete install of this game.

Battlefield was able to run, but when it reached the game deployment screen, it gave me a nasty message about my graphics driver not being current enough. I wasn’t able to proceed. I could see the game menu but my mouse and keyboard could do nothing to make it go. I fiddled with this for quite a long time.

I set out to get new drivers for my graphics card. My computer is an iMac and the card is an AMD Radeon HD 6750. (AMD bought ATI a while back.) Apple provides drivers for the hardware on Windows via it’s Boot Camp software. That is all good and well, but the latest version of it doesn’t support Windows 8. It uses Win7 drivers for everything, which seem to work fine (at least on the surface.) I had no issues with the graphics display in Windows itself, but Battlefield wouldn’t tolerate it.

Here comes the rub, and the bulk of my problems. I went to AMD’s website and tried to download drivers that should work. They didn’t. I think Apple has done something to the hardware to mask it somehow. The AMD detection software (running on Windows) was not able to determine my graphics card. Hence, it wouldn’t provide me with a driver. The best I could do was use a Microsoft driver for my card that was as current as June 2012. That’s nice, but Battlefield still said it wasn’t good enough. I then found a way to download AMD drivers for my card elsewhere on the web. But when I went to update the driver in the system device manager, Windows reported it was not compatible with Windows 8 and it aborted every time. After countless hours of wrangling, I gave up and threw in the towel. I’d had enough!

I went for a long bike ride. After several hours away from my problem, I sat back down and tinkered with it again. I ended up reading user forums online for an hour and a half on issues similar to what I was experiencing. I found a guy who had the exact same problem with the same computer as mine. Someone had provided him with a link to the specific AMD driver that was needed to make it work. I tried it myself and lo and behold, it worked. It freakin’ worked! Windows 8 accepted it as valid, as did Battlefield.

The number of hoops I’ve had to jump through to play this game is absurd. I would never have done this from the start if I had known what I was in for. I’m almost tempted to advise everyone that if you want a hassle-free gaming experience, stick with Playstation and XBOX. PC gaming isn’t for the faint of heart.

My biggest concern about running Battlefield on Win8 is that I’ve read mixed reviews on the gaming performance. People have reported lagging and memory leaks. Fortunately, I have not experienced any of those problems. I’ve played the game twice on Win8 and it seems to perform better than it did on Win7. That is probably due largely in part that it is able to make use of my full amount of installed RAM. At any rate, I can say that in my usage, game performance has not been a problem. It’s a miracle.

As for my early reaction to Windows 8 itself, I’ll say that it is pretty nice. The interface is something I could get used to in time. I’m only going to use it for games, so I’m not installing any programs on it, not even Dropbox or an anti-virus. It is strictly for games and I want it to run at maximum speed. Having said that, I couldn’t help but feel compelled to delve into the tiled Start screen and customize things. It has potential. I’ve only had it for a few days so I’m not going to write any more about the operating system itself until I’ve had some time to experiment with it more.

I want to give a plug to Paul Thurrott’s website called WinSuperSite.com. He really knows his stuff. He also hosts a weekly podcast called Windows Weekly on Leo Laporte’s TWiT network. Everything you need to know about upgrading and installing Windows can be found on Paul’s site. I only wish I had read it before I started this whole process. It would have saved me a lot of pain and hassle.