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Haven Review: Pokemon Gold and Silver

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Greetings trawler and welcome to the magical word of Pokemon, a place of untold mystery filled to the brim with mighty beasts, fluffy critters, a bucket load of weird things and a fair share of Eldrtich abominations wanting to feast on your soul. In this lovely pastel-colored world, children as young as ten are sent out to become a Pokemon trainer; someone who can wield the mighty powers each Pokemon contains. However I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s mostly children who did badly on their aptitude tests that have to travel across the land. This might also explain why fishermen with only “Magicarps” are in the party. In other words, these poor uneducated buggers throw fish at you…weak aquatic creatures that flop around on the ground.

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A move that involves only flopping and Splashing around in front of the opponent. It has no effect. Image found on Google.

As Pokemom participate in vicious fights against other monsters, they will eventually become stronger and “evolve” into a bigger and much more vicious version, though the process should be called a metamorphosis. After all I was taught that evolution was something that happened over a very long time through generations. But I’ll crack that up the likelihood that the local scientist in town could quite possibly be bonkers with no formal education. So I’ll stick to the term “evolution”.

The most common way to proceed through the game is via combat, though some rare exceptions occur. Either through elemental rocks or when night sets, some evolve through trading with other trainers, and a selective few by holding an item while being traded. These also seem to grow strong faster, as well. A new trend that recently occurred a well, is the ability to breed Pokemon by putting two of the same gender at the ever-friendly Caretaker’s place. Eventually they lay an egg that will hatch into baby, and if its nature is right will get a little stronger than the rest, by fighting certain Pokemon. Rumor has it that a Pokemon with different color might just appear…and it’s ultra rare! On my journey I got some new tools, as well. This includes a snazzy phone with a map function, though I’m not sure why these deadbeat trainers I fought on the way want to have my number. It’s not like the eventual rematch will be any less one-sided.

Fact of Pokemon life.
Fact of Pokemon life.

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for several decades or in The Congo, you have probably heard of or seen a Pokemon product. Whether this is a good thing or not is for you to decide. My first encounter was the pesky Trading Card Game (TCG), which almost no one played (yet everyone and their mother had a card or ten). I was clearly a target demographic when Nintendo launched its nefarious plot to make money off funky critters that fought each other in an arena…essentially a combination of cock fighting and match of rock-paper-scissors.

The old and the new version.
The old and the new version.

The first in the series I actually played through was Pokemon Gold, the sequel to Red and Blue, which added more of everything; new monsters, new locations and a lot of post-game content. The formula mostly follows the idea of fighting eight gym leaders, then challenge the elite four and lastly the champion. As part of the post-game content, there were eight more gym leaders to beat and to have a climatic battle against. Red was the champion from the previous game.

Slightly upgraded graphics.
Slightly upgraded graphics.

Eventually Gold and Silver got a remake named Soul Silver and Hearth Gold, which included a lot of the new elements introduced in later games. This includes Pokemon that need a certain level of happiness to evolve. Aside from better graphics and the addition of some mechanics the game includes a pedometer, a device that counts the number of steps the user has taken during a walk. It is also possible to transfer a Pokemon into the device to level it up while walking, and trade a random item with another person who also has such a device.

The main series is formulaic as all hell and is an example of how to make a highly addictive, turn-based role playing game correctly.

Disclaimer:  We received this game for review purposes only. As such, all views in this article are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

While you’re at it, check out this Pokemon fancomic.
http://pokeventuras.smackjeeves.com/

Njål H Sand

Haven Review: Spellweaver

Now before I get into my review, I want to say that I have played and still play a lot of TCGs. Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, even Card Fight Vanguard! Going into this review I am taking my experience as a professional-level card player.
Spellweaver-TCG-Logo Now in Spellweaver you start as in many other trading card games, by picking cards for your deck. In this title you have five different types, much like in Magic the Gathering, which are categorized into Darkness, Light, Forest, Water, and Fire. These five types are the focus of the decks in there game. However unlike Magic the Gathering you can not mix  archetypes, so the decks will always consist of a single element; never a mixture unless the developers add some kind of support for it in the future.SW-newbattleui-05

Now the mechanics for the game rely on three crucial points. The first is your hero or heroine. Once that choice is made, you are limited to the element type of that choice. For example a forest-related hero can only use forest-related cards, and so on. The second key point of the game is your rage level. The rage level indicates the level of the cards you can play, and is shown by a simple icon that represents your elemental type. The last key factor is your mana level. Now mana drains anytime you play a card and is represented by the purple gem at the top of the card. You can build mana or rage levels by discarding shrine cards into your graveyard and selecting which you want to increase.

The increase for the game remains permanently, and the mana restocks after each round so that you can play more cards. The rage count never depletes and is just meant to be an identifier to tell you how high it is and if you can play cards or not.

Now the rest of the game is straightforward. At this point you must keep a minimum of 60 cards in your deck. Create a deck around your element, summon monsters using your mana and raise your rage level and attack your opponent directly. As in Magic the Gathering, the first player to lose all 20 of their health points loses the game. The tutorial is effective in teaching you these mechanics, and the game is fairly easy to pickup and learn.

Now the preceding is all well and good, but those are just the rules of the game. Now here are my thoughts on it, and if you want you can even quote me on this.

Wizard’s is gonna sue a bitch!”

The game has so many visual and mechanical similarities with Wizards of the Coast’s Magic the Gathering, that it makes me wonder if the game is going to have any stable footing on Steam. The game refers to cards as artifacts, spells, and instants, as well as monsters being called creatures. It even has a card called Fireball which does 3 damage to a creature or player as well as Goblins being exclusive to the Fire (red) elemental type. Same with Elves being exclusive to the forest element.MainScreen

The heroes themselves act a lot like Planeswalkers in the sense that they are characters with various abilities and have their own health and the reliance on mana. Again, this is much like Magic the Gathering. However unlike a lot of TCGs, their focus with the mana doesn’t involve tapping it, but rather feeding your graveyard. By playing it for mana you help mill through your deck so you don’t end up with dead draws or dead hands. Although the game does have an opening rule for a mulligan where you can re-draw your hand if you are not satisfied with it.

The artwork for the cards and the game itself is incredible; breath-taking even, and I absolutely love the style and direction they went with it. It makes me draw the comparison line again to Magic the Gathering. In conclusion though, I absolutely do love the game and how it rewards players by giving them in-game currency for winning; much like Hearthstone, and gives them the ability to upgrade their deck with real world or in-game money for cards.

But it just feels like it is screaming for attention, and the controversy is its mainstay. It is fun though, and I really do enjoy playing it. Even though I recommend it, the question is how long it will stay alive once Wizards of the Coast hears about it.

-Daniel Clatworthy-

 

Haven Review: Infectonator : Survivors

headerFirst up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

Infectonator : Survivors is the newest in a series of Infectonator games from Toge Productions. The game combines aspects from different genres, but basically provides some old fashioned, action packed arcade fun. Apparently a local town has been overridden with zombies, and it’s up to you and your carefully selected team to clean ’em out. There are a number of premade teams from which to choose. I selected an time-honored classic…Bill, Louis, Francis and Zoe from the ubiquitous Left 4 Dead (Valve, 2008).

L4DBy clicking on an individual character, you bring up its stat sheet. Each member of your party has a special perk and comes equipped with a starter weapon. By completing missions and exploring the town, several things happen:
You will level up your characters, allowing their speed, aim and melee skills (among others) to be increased.
You will amass coins, which allow you to build items on the fly, such as battle turrets.
You will find parts that can be crafted into upgrades and better equipment.

Bill2Once you complete the tutorial, it’s off to town. Your starting headquarters is located in the center of the map, and the idea is to visit all the locations of interest. A small icon floats above each place on the map that warrants investigation. The dollar sign represents an area where coins and parts can be found. The exclamation point denotes survivors who need rescuing. Some locations have no icon but are self-explanatory, such as the gun shop.

CityThere are currently in the pre-release two ways to play. There is a story mode where you take on missions and quests, and there is a challenge mode where you face wave after wave of oncoming foes! Both are fun, depending on how much time you have and what kind of mood you’re in.

The game’s tutorial is quite good. Your team starts outdoors amid a collection of barriers, sandbags and fire barrels. There are also searchable boxes, duffle bags and piles of tires. Between incoming waves of zombies, be sure to right-click on such items. This brings up a mini-menu, as shown in the following screen shot. Click the magnifying glass to search that item. One of my favorite tactics is to right-click on four such items at once; sending a different party member to examine each. If done right, this gives each character something valuable to do between attack waves. Also, remember the turrets mentioned earlier? Right-click on a sandbag and select the turret icon to build. Although it costs 100 coins to build a turret, you’ll find plenty in your searches…not to mention in the loot dropped by felled zombies!
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Once you’ve cleared the outer area, it’s time to enter a building. Guide your team through the fog-of-war, uncovering yet more search items. Watch out here…zombies fiercely guard their indoor nests. If one of your team members falls, you have a short time to revive them before they die, leaving you shorthanded for the rest of the mission. Find the exfiltration point and head back to HQ. Take a well-deserved break before heading out again.
ChallengeModeOverall, is Infectonator : Survivors worth it? Yes, it is. The game will appeal to fans of several genres. There are elements of tower defense, real-time strategy and four-player cooperative shooter. It’s fast and tough…but also addictive. I look forward to following this game’s development!
ISScale-Chris Roberts-