Category: games

Google Glass mini-games: A review

Posted by – March 2, 2014

Google Glass has been a little short on new toys to play with in 2014. The latest news from the mother-hive is that there won’t be a software update this month; however, an upgrade to Android KitKat is in on the way (interesting!), and that could bring some help for Bluetooth support and battery life management. As those new items bake at Glass HQ, I’ve been nodding and swatting through the five mini-games that the Glass team has released. And though they feel extremely demo-ish, it’s interesting to see what they bring to the platform.

Google Glass game menu

If you tell Google Glass to “play a game,” you’ll see a menu with the options to try games called Tennis, Shape splitter, Balance, Clay shooter and Matcher. If I had to rank them from most fun to least fun, I’d probably keep them in almost the same order:

  1. Tennis
  2. Shape Splitter
  3. Clay Shooter
  4. Matcher
  5. Balance

Each one is an interesting exercise in the Google Glass interface capabilities, and as someone who really enjoyed the WarioWare games for the Nintendo DS and Wii, all five of these games made me curious to see what something similar could look like on this headset.

What follows is the good, the bad and the ugly of what’s beyond that menu as of March 2.

Google Glass tennis

Tennis should be a concept that come naturally enough to most users picking up Glass. The ball and the court are both familiar, though if you have played real-world tennis before, you are going to be tempted to throw out your neck in a fit of futile attempts to put spin on the ball. Nevertheless, after you fully grasp how simple the head-tilt controls really are, things get easy.

Google Glass Shape splitter

Shape splitter will make you feel much more like you’re in a Wii- or Kinect-like experience. Actual hand-waving is involved, and once you get a couple of seconds into the gameplay, you will realize (SPOILER WARNING) that you are actually just playing a simplified version of Fruit Ninja. Good grief, though. If Google Glass actually did turn into a full-on portable version of Fruit Ninja on Kinect, I think this puppy might finally have a single app that justifies the hardware cost.

Google Glass Balance

Balance is the epitome of a game I thoroughly do not enjoy but just sat through to see how it made use of the Glass controls. Blocks fall on your dotty-eyed character’s head. You have to tilt your head back and forth to try to balance the block. My recommendation for breaking your high scores on this one is to just line the Glass screen up with some flat-line reference points (like the edges of a shelf or door) and keep your head as still as possible. The controls are extremely sensitive, though, so don’t waste too much time on this one (unless you’re into that sort of thing).

Google Glass Clay shooter

Clay shooter is a lot more fun. It is a shooter after all. You use voice commands to launch your targets. Officially, you say “Pull” to launch your targets and “Bang” to shoot, but Glass is super-forgiving, and you can ultimately make up your own stand-in commands if you like. The targets explode into little rainbow fragments when you hit them, and you’ll find some motivation in trying to hit them all. Again, the concept is very basic (reminds me of a game on the old black-and-white RadioShack system I played in the ’80s), but inspiration is there.

Google Glass Matcher

And then there is Matcher. It’s a memory game in a 3D beehive full of hexagon tiles that flip over to reveal shapes and colors. The coolest thing about it is that you’re playing within a 3D space that you have to turn around in to advance. Like the rest of these mini-games, the experience never comes remotely close to Flappy Bird levels of addiction. However, the timer will give you something to return to as you attempt to get higher scores.

At the end of the day, I’d love to see any of these game evolve into more fully-formed concepts. Then again, that’s kind of what the Glass experience has been like on most front thus far. And that’s not necessarily a complaint; after all, everyone using a Glass set as an Explorer now is a beta-tester and/or developer. In the meantime, these games were enough to get my curiosity bubbling. I can’t wait to see what happens once we get into KitKat Land.

CES 2012 highlights that matter

Posted by – January 10, 2012

Ubuntu TV

Unfortunately, my work did not take me to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year. I’ve been forced instead to keep up with announcements and displays through CNET, GigaOM and the Chicago Tribune’s Wailin Wong on Twitter, as well as a few other places. As I touched on a few weeks back, the intersections of mobile, TV and identity recognition are places that I am paying close attention to this year. Thus far, the attention-getters at CES have largely corroborated those expectations.

Ubuntu TV was an interesting development, however. It’s true that I am forever going to associate mainstream awareness of Ubuntu with a shameful 2009 story out of Wisconsin that you may remember. (Basically, a girl dropped out of college and blamed the operating system.) This story will always make me cringe, but if the Ubuntu brand is lucky, attention for its TV endeavor will outgrow the attention it received for that bizarre tale.

• The Roku Streaming Stick seems like something completely logical that was a long time coming. True to the trend of digital content boxes getting smaller and smaller, this thing is basically a box that’s the size of a thumb drive.

• I am mostly uninterested in control peripherals for the iPhone and tablets. “Super Crate Box” on iPad has recently made be reconsider that stance, though. Ion’s iCade Mobile is a sort of solution to button needs, even if it does make your device look like an Atari Lynx.

• Elsewhere, Razer unveiled its Project Fiona tablet, which I’m not sure I entirely understand. But hey, it’s got an i7 processor.

• Samsung has their new 55-inch Super OLED TV, meanwhile. It’s a little hard to appreciate much more than the product design through pictures on the Internet, and few things interest me less that 3-D TV capabilities, but I think it is notable that we’re now at the point where we’re talking about real TV sets with quad-core processors.

3DS Wi-Fi, a PS Vita copycat and ‘Diablo 3’ in gaming news for Monday morning

Posted by – December 12, 2011

Just catching up on games industry headlines from the weekend:

• Nintendo made a smart partnership decision business-wise when they brought free Wi-Fi for the DS into McDonald’s restaurants. Airport visitors probably know who Boingo is and recognize why free Wi-Fi for 3DS users at Boingo access points could also be a wise move. (via Joystiq)

• As many of you know, I’ll soon be out in Washington, D.C. The timing for The Smithsonian’s “The Art of Video Games” exhibit couldn’t be better. I don’t know about these fan pictures though.

• This Chinese PS Vita knock-off is just laughable—or at least it would be if it weren’t so sad.

• The Spike TV Video Game Awards took place over the weekend. I didn’t tune in, though I did keep up with the winners (Skyrim came out on top). Based on the years when I have watched the show, I tend to agree with Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann, who suggested that a better name conceptually for the event would be “World Exclusive Mania: Game Trailers You Ain’t Seen Before: The TV Show.” I should note that I do love new trailers. But I often prefer watching them on the Internet if the alternative requires setting aside an evening at home.

• And speaking of VGA debuts, a cinematic trailer for Diablo III showed up. I have to admit that I was rolling my eyes throughout much of the first half. It picks up and gets much less abstract toward the end.

And if you’d like to catch up on other trailer reactions, I suggest checking out Rick Marshall’s commentary.

‘Plants vs. Zombies’ problems on OS X Lion: the solution

Posted by – August 7, 2011

Compatibility issues with OS X Lion left me in peace for the most part when I upgraded my late-2008 MacBook’s Apple-made operating system a couple of weeks back. One of my prized time guzzlers, “Plants vs. Zombies,” however, did summon a nasty incompatibility alert when I tried starting it up. I saw some message board postings and scattered complaints about this problem online, but I know that some of you following this blog are both Mac users and “PvZ” lovers, so here’s the solution that worked for my version (hat-tip and thanks to Russ Frushtick, who sent me down the right path).

1) If you originally downloaded the game from PopCap, go their website and sign in.

2) You should land on a page called “My PopCap Games Account.” Toward the bottom, you should see an order history. Click on the big, yellow “Details” button.

3) You should then see a small alert box that states:

“To download and re-install a previously purchased game, click the game name linked below.”

After you get to that point, it should be pretty self-explanatory. Click on the game title, and an updated, Lion-compatible version of the game should be sent on its way to your computer from PopCap.

Playing Through: ‘Infinity Blade’

Posted by – June 28, 2011

A long, long time ago, in December 2010 in fact, Chair Entertainment released “Infinity Blade” out into the wild, and using the Unreal Engine 3 set a new standard for elaborate graphics in games on iOS platforms. It turned out to be more than just another pretty game, too, as Chair’s updates and trickled-out weapons and upgrades to the game went on to show. “Infinity Blade” checks off a number of boxes that you would imagine to be on production, marketing, and sales professionals’ checklists; it’s got in-games purchases. there’s now Facebook character sharing, etc. etc.

The menu screen always had a “Coming Soon” message, however, promising arena and multiplayer options that recently arrived, and those implementations make “Infinity Blade” as ripe as it ever has been for a review.

The game mashes up third-person, “Punch-Out!!”-style fighting with sword-and-mace weapons combat set in dark, fantasy realm that could have been swiped straight out of a Frank Frazetta painting, the real story behind everything gets heavily glossed over in order to provide a few shock moments when you beat the God King or come face to face with history down in the castle’s basement. I won’t spoil the endings if you haven’t seen them yourselves, but they’re filled with extra doses of Medieval gibberish, and employ plot twists that ensure you will keep fighting forever (as long as you keep the game installed on your i-device).

Despite numerous updates, “Infinity Blade” has seen more than its fair share of single player mode bugs. Although a recent fix mended a problem I experienced on my first-gen iPad where my character would constantly open up empty chests, the game still suffers from constant crashing and subsequent crashes upon restarting from the iOS home screen. Additionally, the last update introduced a problem I’d never experienced before where after earning points from a weapon mastery nothing on the upgrade screen is selectable and the only option is close the app and restart. This occurs regularly and still routinely cuts my play sessions short. (Maybe its a product feature urging me to use my time more productively.) More

‘Infinity Blade’: The ‘How’d you do that’ Achievement

Posted by – June 2, 2011

“Infinity Blade” on the iPhone and iPad recently received an update from Chair Entertainment containing multiplayer features and upping its full achievement count to 64. After snagging 54 of those, I noticed the ominous “How’d you do that” achievement sitting unfulfilled at the bottom of the list. A lot of the FAQs and Q&A posts I looked up glazed over a few of the necessary steps to unlocking it, so I decided to write up a public (and spoiler filled) post to help out anyone out there who’s still confused about it.

This is how you unlock the Dark X-SC2, Dark Tempest, Dark Halo, Dark Fusion and Dark Omega XOS-7:

1. Restart from Bloodline 1. This was the key point that was holding me up. You need to (a)
go to the main menu from within your current game, (b) select Options, and then (c) select Restart Bloodline 1. (If you simply beat the God King and beging another game+ Bloodline 1 to the nth power, none of the subsequent steps here will work.

2. After you’ve restarted at Bloodline 1, you should be getting those old familiar tutorial instructions to block with your shield. Merely tap your shield so that your character raises the shield momentarily and then lowers it in time to get hit with the bad knight’s sword. Do this over and over again until you die. If you get to the point with you’re being told to swing your sword, it’s too late, and you will not be able to get to Bloodline -1.

3. After you die, select Save and Restart Castle from the options you’re your offered. If you do this, you will be sent into negative Bloodline numbers, you should unlock the “How’d you do that” achievement, and everything else will be a piece of cake because you’ll be equipped with all of of these cool weapons.