Mobile Infamy: Happy Street Review

Mobile Infamy Reviews cover mobile and handheld games. For mobile, MI only cover Android games, as my distrust of all things Apple-related is prolific and well documented.

Happy Street Review

Happy Street screenshot, from Godzila Labs

Developer: Godzilab Games
Business Model: Free / InApp Purchases for $.99 and Up
Google Play: Happy Street
iTunes: Happy Street
Rating: 2.50 out of 3 Stars 1/2 Awesome-sauce


Happy Street is a unique game for Android and iOS systems. The premise of the game is simple–a young fox named Billy is wandering through the forest and decides that this particular spot would make a good place for a street. You build houses and shops and decorations, and people inexplicably move in, and start driving down your street, which is in the middle of the forest. You earn money from the shops, and restocking the goods in the shops is what grants you experience. Levels in the game are used as a mechanism to lock to certain builds till later in the game, and outside of that has no influence on game play. There’s some minor resource managing, and as with most mobile games, time is your primary resource. Many of the later items in game can take many hours to complete, the only way to speed them up being the in-game premium currency, ‘Flooz’. I’m not sure where they got the name for that. Flooz is also what you have to have expand your street. You start out with just a little stretch of road, and gradually expand it. The cost to expand increases each time. Luckily, you can earn flooz in game without having to purchase it — there are mini-games like a slot machine that you can play once per day that grant you at least one flooz, and visiting friends and helping them also grants you a flooz. So if you have a bunch of friends all playing at the same time (it uses Facebook to find friends), flooz might not be a big deal. If you don’t … you’ll probably end up forking over some cash to progress. Continue reading “Mobile Infamy: Happy Street Review”

Initial Thoughts – The Secret World

There’s a solid chance you’ve heard some people talking about Funcom’s The Secret World.  There’s an equally solid chance you’ve seen the positive response to the game.  Not 100% positive, but a pretty solid percentage of people seem to really like the game.  I’m definitely one of those people.  The game has been a refreshing change in an age of gag-inducing homogeny in MMOs, and the game industry in general.  It’s with some tongue and cheek that I note that a lot of things that make the game fun for me are relics from older games. 
At this point, I’ve been playing the game for a little over a week, and I’m probably 30 hours into the game.  By 30hrs into the game, I don’t mean that I’m 30 hours through the game.  Actually, it’s only been in the last 5 hours or so that I’ve moved into the second zone of the game.  The first zone took me about 20 hours to get through (give or take a couple hours).  But I’m a completionist and outside of the first dungeon, I did literally every quest in the zone I could find, found all the lore tidbits (I think…)–I milked that zone for all it was worth. 
 My favorite part of that?  When I totally finish out a zone in most MMOs, by the time I’m done I’m way outside the level range for the zone, and half-way through the level range for the next zone.  TSW this didn’t happen at all.  I played through the whole first zone, and STILL got ROFL-stomped when venturing into the next zone.  It was glorious.  Part of this is because your effectiveness is primarily determined by the “quality level” (or QL) of your gear.  QLs currently go from QL0 (starter weapons) to QL10 (end-game stuff).  So even though I was get more and more abilities and spending skill points, the increase in damage was incremental enough that I couldn’t out-level the zone before I was supposed to. 
This is all part of the idea that I’m not being forcibly shoved, nearly against my will to reaching max level.  The game invites you meander in a lot of ways.  A lot of games I feel compelled to continue to make choices and progress as the game dictates.  While there’s still a lot of that in TSW, the places where it opens that up, in the questing, the lore, character development makes the game feel much more geared towards me doing things in my own way.  If I want, I can totally slingshot my way end-game, powering through all the quests.  Or, I can play around, run the same quest 4 times if I really want , enjoy the voice acting, the cut scenes with really believable characters.


 There are still some bugs in the game–quests that don’t trigger correctly or don’t fire as they are supposed to, there were some chat issues early on, but pretty small potatoes when compared with most other MMO launches.  Maybe all others — being kind of an MMO addict, I’ve played most recent (within the last 3-5 years) MMOs at launch, ad this has definitely been the smoothest.  There will always be a few bugs (I work in software, there’s always a bug someplace), but the ones I’ve seen reported in TSW are far, far from game breaking. 
I can say, I’ve been following the game since probably about 2008ish or so, and I was really excited about it, then the excitement faded.  Even then, I still pre-ordered and I’m glad I did.  I’m enjoying this and losing myself in the game in a way that I haven’t in a really long time.  As to whether I’ll stay interested in the game is up in the air, but I have a feeling I’ll be playing the game for a while to come. 

Review: Bug Village

It’s ironic that my first game review is only happening because the game is question isn’t even really a game.  I think what bothered me the most is that this advert is just more or less a thinly veiled attempt to weasel you out of your money or make you sign up for services to earn the in-game currency.  This isn’t a game, this is software that’s designed to print money.

The Good: Beautiful graphics, fun music, engage mechanics (for the first twenty minutes or so)
The Bad: The game requires that you continually spend money to continue to progress at anything beyond a snail’s pace; a geriatric snail’s pace.

The game starts out like many other strategy games, with kind of a god-of-the-bugs vibe going on.  It reminded me lightly of Populous.  You start off with a basic tutorial walk you though building houses, piles, and gathering food.  To get more bugs, you must have housing for the bugs.  To get more housing, you must have piles to generate one of the two resources in the game, Acorns.  Acorns are used to build more piles, to get more buildings, to get more ants to work more piles to get more acorns to … I totally forgot why I was doing this again.

As you complete the mini-objectives, you level up, which raises the cap for the total number of builds that you can have.  The real kick of the game though is that there are gold coins which serve partially the same purpose as the Acorns, but also have the added benefit of speeding everything in the game up.  For example, when building a new house, normally it would take an hour to build.  Real time…OR you can pay 1 gold coin and complete it immediately.

The same goes for your piles–which you build as a structure, and then have to put ants to work in to generate more Acorns.  Again, you can speed up both the completion of the building as well as the production of the Acorns by using gold coins (in varying amounts).  The kicker is–there is no in-game way to earn these coins.  You get a certain number when you start, and the only way to earn more is to complete “offers.”  This part reminds me so much of the gimmicky “Complete 5 offers and get a free laptop!” scams, that I was immediately turned off.

However, throughout the tutorial, the game gives you coins to spend to speed up the process, and then refunds them at the end of the tutorial, which is where you have your 20 or so coins upon starting the game.  What this does is shows you how fast the game *could* go with coins, making just letting the time run out when building things seem painfully long.  Thus, making it so that you complete offers or spend real money to buy coins.

You can earn coins by directly buying them through the game and Google Check out (at not that great of a conversion, truth be told) or complete offers in the game to earn coins, such as signing up for Netflix, GameFly, downloading certain games off of the Android Market (note: there was no requirement to actually play the game, just to install it.)  It looks to me like they are basically trying to pad the number of downloads for certain android market games and get referral kick backs for the Netflix and GameFly services.  (I’m purely speculating on this–nothing I’ve said should constitute anything more than pure conjecture on my part.)

In my opinion, the game is downright unplayable without continuously paying.  As you advance in levels and get more advanced buildings, it takes longer to complete the buildings or complete the tasks for getting your resources  from the piles.  Like, 24hrs to 48hrs kinda long.  You can still rush the building or tasks with coins, but the longer the task, the more coins (approx. 1 gold coin per hour, near as I can tell).  So yah, those 20-some aught coins that you start with go fast.  Then, the pace of the game hits the proverbial wall.

I think it wouldn’t be bad if you had a way to earn those coins in game, even at a much slower rate (like 1 coin every 12hrs or some such).  As it stands, you can’t without offloading a ton of money, the game slams into a brick wall and loses its charm pretty quickly.  What could have been a fun, interesting game falls woefully short in GluMobile’s mad-grab for money.