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Trebblebase Blog

Geocaching.

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I recently blogged about geocaching on my website about how it can b used as an impetus to get out and take some photos but as I typed it out I realized that I also use it as a type of game as well. As my previous posts show here I love iphone games and if an application is fun enough to use then it itself can be turned into a game with a little use of imagination.

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Geocaching is essentially treasure hunting in real life. Once you have downloaded the app or visited geocahing.com you can search for near by stashes and once located you can upload them to you GPS enable device and head off on the hunt. Using the gps coordinates and clues from the original geochacher its up to you to find it. Once found you can notify the app you have discovered it and leave a signature or treasure behind for other geocachers to discover when they find it. The whole thing is a ton of fun and very active but how am I turning it into an iOS game?

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Well the answer is simple: Set a goal. I load up the app and find a group of caches that are within a reasonable distance of each other. I then set myself a time limit to find and photograph them all and if completed I win! Simple yet extremely effective. For the more imaginative people out there I?m sure they can apply a storyline to the whole thing as well (though I don?t go that far :P). I highly recommend geocaching to anyone who hasn?t experienced it before and to try and turn it into a game as well. Video games are a amazing and can keep one occupied for hours on end but no one can deny the good clean fun getting out and walking can give.

The Act Micro Review.

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The Act is one of those rare games in which it dosen't feel like a game at all. This title is far more akin to older games such as Dragon Lair where it's more like an interact cartoon than anything else. The art style as well is similar to Dragons Lair or the early Broken Sword games which is fantastic because beautiful art style coupled with a pretty decent sound track make these experiences all the more worth while. This "games" sound track happens to be key to the whole scenario as there is no dialogue from the characters themselves. Instead the music accompanys the actions and facial expressions being given off by the cast of the story and works to great effect. As you watch the main protagonist's efforts unfold you either swipe left or right on the screen to make him act to a certain situation and watching closely to what is happening and to the music is vital if you wish to succeed. This could be a great gameplay mechanic but there is no in game prompts what so ever and if you do fail the game simply rewinds to the start of the scene and lets you try again all without telling you what it is you did wrong. In the end its a simple case of luck to progress or being able to remember exactly which way you slid your finger during the previous try.

Over all The Act is a great little title, and one that will keep you busy for some time unless you happen to be a clairviyant Steven Spielberg.

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The Act gameplay

Rainbow Moon Micro Review

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Remember the good old days? When you started out on a quest, fully intending to save the day by trekking through endless dungeons, battle hordes of evil creatures and micro manage your heroic party only to find it was dinner time and no save point was around? Well those days of late are gladly (sadly?) gone. I haven't played an RPG akin to Final Fantasy VII or Star Ocean 2 on a console for years. Sure there maybe some titles out there but with the casualisation of the current market I have like many others followed suit. So when a game does rear its ugly head I am usually not to bothered to play it because I like to win at games and the thought of gruelling level grinding and endless turned based battles just don't do it for me anymore.

That was until I decided to pick up Rainbow Moon. I wasn't following the development of game, in fact I had never heard of it before it popped up on the PSN but after a quick google and youtube search I realised this could be a game for me or at least if nothing else could fill the gap in my gaming schedule as there is currently nothing else to play at the moment. The reason it caught my eye was its cute graphics, shameful I know but it caught my eye none the less. You play a hero who finds himself on a distant moon with no means of getting off it. Cue adventure and princess galore (I'm sure) as you set out to right the wrongs of the strange planet and try to discover a way home.

The story isn't the main selling point of the game however. As with many titles today its the gameplay. The battle system is strategic, painful and exciting all in one. Like the games of old the system uses a turn based approached which allows you to think before you leap. As the game starts out its just a single hero you have to think about but after some time passes you'll be micro managing a whole team of adventurers in arenas of 10+ bad guys to pit against. It took a little while for the strategic part to dawn on me but once I realised where it came in what was 60 second battle turned into 5minutes or more. You are able to move about the map, attack, cast spells and use items and depending on your level and attributes you get to combine various actions together in stead of just having one turn per go.

bow610.jpgThe games over world is large and doted with towns and dungeons for you to explore and packed with minions to battle but as well as the potential battles you can see ahead of you the game also throuws random battles at you like older rpg's used to do but this time you can either except them or ignore them. This system allows you to grind and level at your own pace. Collecting experience and the games currency as you see fit and if you want to fast track even more there are micro transactions that allow you to purchase curency for real money. There is free pack to get you started and everyone shoul take it as it is a nice little boost to stat off with.

Rainbow Moon is a strange mix of casual and hardcore. It allows you to save as you please, boost youself with micro transactions and has an appealing cutsie style and story to it but at the same time has a deep combat system and gruelling grinding in to tow. This is a definate time sink, perfect for the lull in gaming you get in the beggining summer months.Rainbow-Moon-Screenshot-9.jpg

My Whale Trail Micro Review.

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Whale Trail is one of those iPhone games that comes along every so often and just makes you smile. Created by ustwo and its crazy founders (see their website for clarification) they set out to create a game that would revolutionize the industry, their words. They haven't exactly lived up to those sorts of claims but the game is incredibly fun and to use a iOS buzz word: addictive. When you first upload the game onto your phone a little story board plays out explaining exactly how a whale has come to find himself flying through the clouds away from a evil monster and from there on in it is up to you to touch the screen to elevate him and let go to allow him to fall down a'la Jetpack Joyride. The difference in gameplay here is the whale has only a set amount of power to enable him to soar through the sky and this depletes quite quickly unless you guide him over the magic bubbles which are laid out in front of you. There are also magic stars every so often which will give you a brief unlimited power boost as long as you collect enough of them. This become ever more vital as the further you get through the game the more obstacles are thrown in front of you to try and end your flight. The graphics are utterly charming and look stunning on the iPhone 4's retina screen harking back to a simpler time when gorgeous cartoon artwork was all the rage. One last thing to add is the studio had a specific song made to accompany the game and although a little repetitive after a while its a nice little song/tune which does enrich the whole gaming experience. Whale Trail is certainly worth the price tag and you will find your self going back to it time and time again to try and beat your previous high score set by you or your Game Center friends.

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My Dead Island review.

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Some gamers like to think that having played various zombie survival games that they themselves could survive the apocalypse if it were to ever happen by using the skills they learn from games like Left4Dead and Dead Rising and now of course Dead Island. I am here to say though that if the zombies did rise and lay waste to our world I would be screwed. Dead Island has shown me exactly how vicious the undead can be and how completely unprepared we are when it comes to sending them back to the grave.



The fight for survival starts like many others in the genre with you waking up and realizing all is not right with the world though luckily for you by some miracle you are in fact immune from the virus and are free to engage in battle against the walking (or running) corpses. After the first ten minutes you pick up the basics and venture off into the undead resort of Banoi. The first thing that strikes you when you begin to take in your surroundings is that the setting of this title is like no other you have played before. Golden beaches, bamboo bars and crystal clear waters pan out before you. If you closed your eyes and ignored the odd screams and groans you could in fact already be in paradise and not have to worry about the impending doom. Your first few engagements with the zombies are simple enough, you pick up the nearest whackable object whether is be an oar or a beach shovel and begin swinging away at the bikini wearing zombie babes. This game at its purest is a full blown RPG with every hit you land on a foe spurting out numbers of how much damage you are inflicting on them and their death resulting in a calculated form of experience points. When enough points have been accumulated you gain a level and can spend it in one of three different talent tree's that give your various stat bonus' and skills. In other games after reaching a fairly high level and carefully selecting your perks you can usually become a god and lay waste to anything that stands before you and your quest objective. In Dead Island how ever it is a different story. Yes you get more powerful and yes you can deal with a greater number of zombies using your skills, the set back however is that the enemies level up with you. No matter where you go in the vast sprawling world of Dead Island the roaming hordes will always be the same level, a few levels lower and/or a few levels higher than you. This gives you as a player a certain vulnerability as you can never really out match your opponent as much as you'd like and more often than not running away can be the best course of action.

The games narrative is quite derivative of the usual zombie lore, go here-do this-kill him-survive the day-find a cure. There are plenty of hours to be gotten from the story it must said with hours and hours worth of side quests to complete along the way as well all giving their own contribution to you level gain. The best part about the game though is the exploration. One minute you can be checking out the undead babes under a cascading waterfall and the next hacking your way through viscous tribal zombies in the jungle. Sometimes the action can get a little to intense and especially on the PS3 version there can be at times a lot of lag and graphical pop-in but these are negligible compared to the fun you'll be having at the time and with promised DLC on the way the resort of Banoi will be getting repeat business for sure. There are also plenty of Easter eggs for fans of the genre to find and digest on from hints of Valve's L4D series to Romero's zombie flicks.

Dead Island is well worth a purchase if you love your zombies despite some technical issues (which are being fixed as I type) and is a great start to 2011's winter gaming season. It takes everything great from the genre and adds to it keeping you on your toes at all points and leaving you to weigh up your escape plan should your next move prove fatally wrong. Just beware that after playing Dead Island you may think twice about your zombie apocalypse survival plan and adjust as appropriate.

Here's a quick look at the Dead Island: Special edition as well:

Dead Island special edition

Nerds!!!

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Living in England some confectionaries can be hard to come by. Luckily for me I found a shop that sells "world sweets" and in the USA section I found these classics! No Zombie from Dead Island can defeat me now with these as my power source! (Dead Island review coming soon.)

iPhone's a go-go!

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Well it's that time of year where I do a bit of travelling and therefore I have to leave my beloved console at home. Luckily for me though this year I have an iPhone so theoretically I can game-on-the-go! I have loaded up several popular games including Cut the Rope, Broken Sword, Puzzle Agent and Final Fantasy Tactics and I will give them all a road test over the next day or so and update this post with my results!

It's been a whole week now and first off let me say I-am-a-convert! I have had my iPhone for over a year now and whilst I've downloaded the odd mini game here and there such as Angry Birds or Cut the Rope I have never invested much time into the platform compared to my console gaming. That however may change a little now when I get home because I am currently ios game crazy! Before leaving home I went onto the app store and bought a few meaty games that looked a bit deeper than the average free ones that are available and loaded them up. The first game I played was PopCap's Plant vs. Zombies and boy is it good. I know that's old news and I even owned on my laptop but it never really gelled with me but on an ios device this game is incredible. Highly addictive game play and lots of replay value this has been my go to game all week, whether I'm sat in the sun chilling out, in a que for some ice cream or waiting for the Mrs to finish trying on new clothes. PvZ will keep you occupied during any situation.

The second title I bought was Broken Sword. This is much more of an evening time game as it is best played with earphones and good lighting as it is a full on point and click adventure. Again I owned this back in the day when it came out and loved it to bits and its transition onto the iPhone s flawless. Sitting in bed after a hard day walking a playing this thrilling mystery is wonderful and will keep you intrigued for a long time to come. As I said before you can't really play it on the go due to the type of game it is but none the less it is a brilliant game to take away with you and use for some down time in the evening. Similarly Puzzle Agent is what I call an evening game, as it requires a great deal of concentration to work through, as it's obviously a puzzle game and a brutal one at that.

Finally I took the dive and bought what in retail you call a full price game. Final Fantasy Tactics on the ios is quite possibly one of the biggest time sinks I have ever owned on a portable device. It is the full game from all the other platforms it comes from and quite honestly as amazing and expensive as it is, it's not one for holidays. Get caught playing this one and your entire holiday may pass you by without you even noticing. Compelling graphics, tight narrative and highly addictive micro management gameplay this is one you will want to dedicate a lot of time to at home as well as anywhere else you may find your self.

On reflection I can definitely say I love iPhone gaming now and will be following it a lot more closely from now on. There is tons of crap on the App Store but making the effort to sift through the refuse and pick out the good games, the reward is second to none and well worth a look.

My Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Review.

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With in five minutes of playing Enslaved: Odyssey to the West you may be forgiven for thinking this game has all the hallmarks of a rushed, cheap and uninspired game play title. You would how ever be very wrong. Enslaved comes courtesy of Ninja Theory who's last title was another lost video game gem Heavenly Sword. The game is set in a post apocalyptic future where robots have taken the word by force and humanity is on the brink of extinction save for a few colonies dotted around the place. You play as the troubled warrior known only as Monkey who has been captured by the mechanical monsters and is being transported to some unknown destination. Luck how ever is on Monkeys side as another captive named Trip escapes and brings the transport ship down using her unique mechanical skills. Realising she can not get home with out assistance Trip enslaves monkey by placing a band on his head which forces him to aid her or his life is forfeit.

The world of Enslaved has a gorgeous art design. Drawing you in with vibrant jungle colours interspersed with the remnants of humanities cties it has a very natural feel that you would think is highly plausible should this distopian future ever come to fruition. Unfortunately it is not with out compromise and despite the lush visuals the game does suffer from severe graphical pop-in that can be quite disjointing when you are watching a scene and the textures have not loaded in time and you end up watching faceless characters interact with each other. But this should not put you off trying this tale as persistence really does lead to reward. The game play is a cross between Assassins Creeds parkour and Uncharted's unrelenting linearity level design. Some will find this annoying and un-innovative but it does work to the games advantage. The story is fast paced and continuous and in between every section of game play is more story which is very well written and leaves you at the end of each scene wondering what is going to happen next. The fast paced platforming and quick battles add to the effect that Monkey and Trip are in great danger and need to get to their destination as fast as possible. The actual combat it is very akin to Ubisoft's Beyond Good and Evil where when you engage a group of bad guys you use some simple yet effective button combos you can pull of some truly amazing stunts laying waste to anything that is made of metal. The fights come across as very cinematic and leave you in awe of Monkeys fighting abilities which over the course of the game you can upgrade to be even more powerful. Your enslaver Trip comes into play now and then when some puzzles need to be solved but Monkey takes the brunt of the gaming and considering your there to protect her more often than not you are happy to leave her behind to keep her safe.

Despite some of the short comings this game has it is still a great experience and one that should not be missed by anyone. With the fast action battles, cryptic mysteries and a beautiful take on a ruined future this game easily trumps many other titles out there in the same genre. The narrative alone is enough to keep the most casual of players going and the ending will leave you hungering for more.

My GTA4 Complete Edition Review.

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Grand Theft Auto 4 is almost four years old now so I don't need to go into any details about how amazing the game is. You have most likely played it before and perhaps even owned it if you are reading this but wondering if the complete edition is worth another purchase? The immediate answer is an unequivable yes. However somethings should be addressed first before you shell out the cash for this complete edition of the GTA4 world. First of all if you own the game on the 360 then chances are you have already purchased at least one of the two expansion packs as Microsoft went to great lengths to promote that they alone had the rights to them for a long time amd PS3 owners were left high and dry. If you do then this edition may not be for you unless you'd like to consolidate your library onto one disc (and have excess money to blow). If how ever you own a PS3 then you may have over looked both expansion packs because of their exclusivity to Microsoft's platform. In that case this is a absolute must buy, even if you own an aging copy of the original and lets be honest it's probably looking a little shabby due to wear and tear! Both expansions are brilliant and offer unique views on Liberty City and what it has to offer. From the sexy night clubs owned by Gay Tony to the bitter hard biker gangs of Johnny there is now truly something for everyone. My one niggle with this title how ever is that each game is its own separate entity. You can't pursue generic achievements/trophies over all three games and going from one game to the another requires a reset and reload. Other than that though I can not fault this game and it is still going strong having one of the larger communities still playing online compared most other older titles. Liberty city is waiting for you to enjoy its offerings time and time again and once you enter you'll never leave.

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