Freemium: It’s Real, It Sucks … It Really Sucks



Since the first Diablo game, I’ve been hooked on level-grinding dungeon crawlers. I swear, I’ve played them all – regardless of system. From its humble origins … to the latest incarnations (well, almost latest; I refuse to play Diablo 3). I’m chomping at the bit for Heroes of Ruin (3DS) and for Torchlight 2. Give me the kill-loot-level-wash-rinse-repeat formula. I’m good for it. Read more

About Shane Monroe

Shane R. Monroe has been doing technical and social commentary writing for over 20 years. Google+

Filed under : Slideshow, Smartphones, Tablets

Cardinal Quest: Return of Rogue



It has gone by many names … It started off as Adventure, Telegard, Moria, Hack, Rogue … then came games like Temple of Apshai, Sword of Fargoal, Mystery Dungeon, Ultima … and in recent times it has gone by the name of Shiren the Wanderer, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 and even (to a lesser extent) titles like Diablo, Torchlight and others.

Now, we call it Cardinal Quest, a new Android “roguelike” dungeon exploration adventure game.

Hmmm… so what does “roguelike” mean?

Roughly based on Dungeons & Dragons, roguelike games typically feature a handful of similar traits. Most of them feature a “top down” randomly generated dungeon stocked full of every-growing-in-danger enemies, player “stats” (like strength, dexterity and wisdom), an experience + level up system, treasure chests with equipment/gold/potions, basic magic and inventory features, is played in near-real time – and of course, they typically have more simple graphics that look trite and boring to anyone that didn’t grow up with the genre.

Oh, and they are notorious for being hard and unforgiving; death of a player usually means the game is over (that’s right, no going back and loading previously saved games). Read more

About Shane Monroe

Shane R. Monroe has been doing technical and social commentary writing for over 20 years. Google+

Shine Runner: $1 Gaming Done Right



Rarely does a mobile game inspire me to write a review. Let’s be honest; mobile gaming isn’t a gourmet meal; it’s a snack. Usually a sweet, rich snack that never quite tides you over until dinner – and usually makes you a bit sick to your stomach – but it’s cheap (or free) and is readily available – like all good bad-for-you snacks.

But, to quote the old expression – even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Sad, some of you reading this don’t get what this means. But I digress …

First, I’ll be happy to admit that I’m NOT a mobile gamer, typically. I rarely play games on my phone; preferring to keep my battery alive for More Important Things(tm). But on my Asus tablet? All bets are off. After all, it’s a luxury device and not something I need or use for work. If I want to kill the battery off in a marathon gaming session – so be it. As a classic gamer, I spend a large part of my tablet experience playing emulators of classic game systems; NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Atari 2600, Colecovision – you know, the stuff most kids wouldn’t be caught dead playing today.

Thanks to NVidia’s dip into tablet technology, many tablets (and even some phones) come with advanced gaming video chipsets known as TEGRA. This comes in two versions; Tegra 2 and Tegra 3. My previous tablet, the Asus TF101 had Tegra 2; my new tablet, the Asus TF300 has Tegra 3. This offers “console quality graphics” to tablets – but of course, they cannot add “console quality controls” to tablets and that’s one of the biggest issues with mobile games … horrid controls. While Sony Xperia devices (with real physical controls) has taken a stab at fixing this issue, others have figured out how to link up their Bluetooth compatible controllers to their favorite tablets. Unfortunately, most games do not take advantage of these controllers.

These days, for a mobile game to stick out and warrant my time and energy, it needs to address the issues of controls, time slicing (short burst play without being too superficial) and of course game play (… remember that? The KING of gaming?) As a bonus, it should be cheap, ad-free, nag-free and have no hidden “buy now” screens that only pop up after you’ve played the game for an hour.

Now that we have my thoughts on mobile gaming out of the way, let’s talk about Shine Runner. Read more

About Shane Monroe

Shane R. Monroe has been doing technical and social commentary writing for over 20 years. Google+