Monday, March 11, 2013

Casual Corner February

I know I’m late again for the casual corner. I have two excuses for that: I was immersed in a Team Challenge at Challengers and there weren’t many good casual games out in February. Impire came out, but it’s no casual game, neither in price, nor in length. Adelantado Book 2 missed by a day. I played a lot of HOGs for the Team Challenge, but they were older. I bought some HOG CEs in a sale, but they also had been out for a while. So, what is left?

With Outta this Kingdom and Ballad of Solar, Alawar released two similar, but nevertheless good TMs. Both seem to be based on the same engine as Way Out West, which was released by Alawar last year. Sweet Kingdom, on the other hand, is a nice mixture between Royal Envoy and Farm Frenzy (although the only thing from Farm Frenzy it has is production chains).

Outta this Kingdom has a fun fantasy story in which you find yourself stranded in a fantasy world with your cat. Soon you meet a guy to whom that happened a few years ago and you start a trip through the world to find a mysterious wizard who could send you back home. The gameplay includes stages that are more MKFTP-ish and stages that are definitely builders. The game levels are split into two or more stages (which also goes for Way Out West and Ballad of Solar), each of which has its own timing, meaning you don’t lose the level just because you miss the expert time on one stage. I like the whacky story, the cartoon graphics, and the overall gameplay, which is why Outta this Kingdom is pretty high up my list of ‘bestest games ever.’

Ballad of Solar is based on the same game engine, as far as I can say, but it’s a lot more MKFTP-ish. You don’t build houses in this game, you only repair them. And even though the ‘evil sorcerer has conquered the kingdom and imprisoned the princess’ story isn’t innovative, the game has a nice enough background story to work with. The various stages of each level vary between cleaning the way and trading with various NPCs. As with Outta this Kingdom, the stages are separated, so there isn’t an overall level time. Unlike Outta this Kingdom, Ballad of Solar has frozen stages, where there is no time to beat (if you play in the normal adventurer mode). The game has a nice cartoon look and is a lot of fun to play.

Sweet Kingdom was a surprise last month. The gameplay is that of a builder on the whole and reminds me of the first Royal Envoy. However, the game has production chains, which is rather unusual in a casual game and especially in a builder. The difficulty is rising fast, but you can finish the levels even after you run out of time. The graphics are bright, the story is mere background. To be honest, with the interesting gameplay, the story is not that interesting to me.

If you like TMs, you might want to try out those three, as they are fun and will give you hours to play and enjoy yourself. However, in my opinion, February wasn’t a good month for casual games.

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