Bubbles!

Hey everybody!
It’s time for another game day here at spalanz.com, and I want to do something a little different today. For the last two years, I’ve been talking about tabletop games near enough every Tuesday, but I thought I’d change tack a little, and move into the realm of mobile games! Not the first time, of course, and probably not the last, but anyway!

A few years ago now, I bought a Nexus 7 because (a) I like Android as an operating system, and (b) I wanted a way to play Elder Sign: Omens. After downloading a few mobile versions of tabletop games, I started filling the tablet with free to download stuff from Magma Mobile. They have a whole host of games available, a lot of them centred around the adorable bubbles, such as Bubble Blast!

This game is a lot of fun, and a great way to spend the time when you’re on the bus or waiting for the microwave to ping. I actually came across it trying to find a bubble shooting type of game – you know the type where you fire a coloured bubble at similarly-coloured bubbles, in the hope of removing them before the ceiling comes down on you? Well, one of those. It’s not quite one of those games, but it’s fun, and with what feels like a zillion different holiday-themed variants (I particularly like the Christmas one, which has the option of replacing the bubbles with snowflakes).

Magma Mobile also has a bubble shooting game (they have a few, actually), though I think it’s hilarious to see just how many other types of games they’ve used their adorable little bubble character on!

Bubble Blast Rescue

Bubble Blast Rescue was one of the first games I downloaded following the initial one, as it seemed hilarious! It’s one of the few games Magma Mobile develop that has a limited free portion, but the majority of the game comes through in-app purchases. The additional stuff is a couple of quid, so hardly going to break the bank, so I didn’t really mind that too much. You basically need to hurl bubbles at the obstacles in order to free the bubble friends trapped in the cages. You can rotate entirely around the iceberg/island/whatever to hit these things from all angles, but you need to avoid pushing the cages into the water! Something I hadn’t realised is that you can advance through the levels even if you’ve saved just one, but you need a perfect score if you want to get all the way through. The ice levels in particular are awful because the objects will slide along the iceberg even after you’ve hit them, and many times I’ve lost the cages to stuff sliding into them. It’s a fun game, but man is it annoying to lose just one!

A weird off-shot/amalgam of the genres worth mentioning is Bubble Blast Boxes, which combines those square blocks from Rescue with the idea of combining colours to make them disappear. It’s kinda funny to have these angry-looking boxes blinking at you as you try to manoeuvre them into position to link up and stuff!

Bubble Blast Marbles is another of these games where you’re trying to shoot bubbles at similar-coloured groups to clear them out, though twists the idea so that you’re trying to stop them escaping into a pyramid…because why not, right? I think more than anything, the hyper-cute sound effects make this a fun game to return to time and again – the bubbles just sound so happy when you blast them!

Bubble Blast Falldown is kind of a weird platform-like game, where the screen rolls up but you need to keep the bubble on-screen, so you have to move it from side to side to fall down the gaps between the platforms. There are lots of other things to do like collect money, gain friends to have multiple bubbles knocking around, and bonuses available to slow things down or destroy any walls that impede your movement across the wraparound screen. It’s the sort of thing I often find myself playing a whole lot longer than I expected, as I just need to try and improve just that little bit more!

Saving the best (in my opinion) til last, we have Bubble Blast Adventure!

This game, above all the others, feels like an actual platform-based video game, where you move your bubble guy through the game collecting coins, avoiding traps and hazards, shooting the hilarious evil-looking blocks, and all the rest of it. I only discovered this one around last Christmas, and played the hell out of it until I got to a level that I just can’t seem to get past. It’s so frustrating I haven’t really done that much with it since. But the early levels are still a whole ton of fun to play, all the same!

I’m not a huge video-game player, though I do like some of these simple mobile games. At some point, I’ll probably get round to taking a look at some more, though next week will be something particularly special – my blog turns two, so it’ll be time to celebrate in style!

Post 207, apparently

Vader

As you can see, my weekend started spectacularly when I had this pop up in my Twitter notifications. It’s really hard to follow that, but as it’s a long Bank-Holiday weekend here, I might as well try. So let’s get started!

I’ve been playing a lot of Android games this week – I mean, more so than usual. My procrastination over the essay has continued, clearly! I have a Nexus 7, which I bought back in September last year, and use it primarily for looking at the interweb when I’m too lazy, or for playing games. When I first got it, I was primarily concerned with using it for stuff like Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Elder Sign: Omens, and Settlers of Catan. However, around Christmas last year I discovered the joy of Magma Mobile games on the Play Store, and I’ve pretty much been hooked since.

First it was Octopus (how cheerful and cute do these guys look?!), then Bubble Blast Rescue, and it’s just gone on from there, until now, when most of the tablet’s memory is taken up with these games! They’re all free, which is fabulous, but they’re also really really good!

https://plus.google.com/u/0/105905796756477877617/posts/Q4o5b464DR3

There’s a game called Dolphin, which is a nice and easy race game, where you basically have to avoid jellyfish and collect stars. As you can see, I’m a Super Dolphin, so yeah… Awesome! I also really enjoy the block breaker game Smash, which has both a challenge mode that takes you through a series of ten levels, and an ‘arcade’ mode which is basically a survival mode.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/105905796756477877617/posts/NUCdEL37psH

Around New Year, I discovered Mouse, which is a puzzle game where you have to slide blocks around to allow the mouse to escape. I got a bit obsessed with it, and spent about three hours one night playing through a couple of levels. I suppose it kept my brain active, but perhaps wasn’t the most productive use of my time…

My current favourite, however, is Flying Squirrel, which is precisely as whimsical as it sounds! You control a squirrel, and you go around collecting coins and nuts. It’s basically a platform game, which is why I think I like it so much. Remember I said a whiles ago that I was never really a computer gamer? Well, I’m not, I’m much more of a tabletop gamer, but I do have a secret love of platform style games. Never a big one for just shooting stuff, I greatly prefer to hop about and collect useful stuff instead! Anyway, something else in Flying Squirrel’s favour is the Evil Toadstool, which basically negates any special effects you may have accumulated (such as the wings or the star), but makes a sneeze noise when you encounter it! Delightful! I can highly recommend it, anyway!

Flying Squirrel Magma Mobile

Magma Mobile have got some really awesome games, and one of the best things about them is they’re free! Download them now and prepare to lose yourself in awesomeness!


The essay has finally progressed, you’ll no doubt be thrilled to hear! Yeah, I finally put fingers to keyboard the other day, and I have currently got it to around 730 words. Not the most inspirational of starts, and I’m not entirely sure about the bulk of what I’ve written so far, but we can’t have it all, I guess… However, the exciting thing about this week was that I enrolled in the next module for my degree! As I explained a couple of posts ago, I’m doing a History with Classical Studies course, and as I’m drawing to a close on the history side of things, next up is, of course, classics. Exploring the Classical World will begin in October, and no doubt I’ll continue to procrastinate over the seven essays that are involved with that course, too!


I read three short Star Wars stories this week, which you might be interested in. First of all, I read the four-part Side Trip, which first appeared in the Star Wars Adventure Journal that I have previously mentioned, but was reprinted in the Tales from the Empire anthology released towards the end of Bantam’s licence. The anthology is a collection of various stories from the Adventure Journal, with Side Trip forming its crowning piece. A joint effort between Timothy Zahn and Michael A Stackpole, it features an adventure with Thrawn masquerading as the bounty hunter Jodo Kast (a Boba Fett wannabe) on the planet Corellia. Stackpole’s pet character Corran Horn also makes an appearance, along with his dad Hal. The story is interesting, and ties in with Stackpole’s X-Wing quadrilogy published in the mid-90s.

It’s a contentious point, but I no longer enjoy Stackpole’s work as much as I used to. The X-Wing books were really enjoyable adventures when I first came across them, and I, Jedi is an acknowledged classic of the mythos, but in recent years I find them to be a bit, well, boring. Corran Horn is probably the biggest problem here. I’ve come to feel that Corran is written like some of the worst kind of fan fiction out there – he’s smart, he’s funny, he’s heroic, he’s a great pilot, he’s a Jedi, he’s awesome, he’s generally better than everyone else, and forms the lynchpin for the whole story arc. I, Jedi in particular had me smarting, the way Corran is said to be better than Luke – Luke basically is a bit of a wimp and a dithering idiot in comparison. But I’m getting off topic.

Corran used to work for the Corellian Security Force, of CorSec, before joining the rebellion, and in Side Trip we see him ‘on the beat’ with Hal. He’s marginally more tolerable in Side Trip than he is in I, Jedi, but the story is largely a favourite of mine because of the Zahn bookends.

Star Wars Bounty Hunters

(I discovered this awesome piece of art on facebook a couple of days ago – it is not my work, but I don’t know whose it is – if it is yours, and I’ve violated copyright or something, please let me know!)

In addition, I read two of the Tales of the Bounty Hunters, those of IG-88 and Zuckuss & 4-LOM. In the 1990s, Bantam released three anthologies of short stories centred around crowd scenes in each of the three films: the Mos Eisley Cantina; the Bounty Hunters, and Jabba’s Palace. Kevin J Anderson, the author of the IG-88 tale, oversaw the project and managed to edit Jabba’s Palace into a nicely cohesive tale, in my opinion! Unlike Stackpole, I find Anderson’s work to be as whimsical and swashbucklingly enjoyable as the original trilogy was. His Jedi Academy trilogy, while largely criticized, appeals to me on many levels (it was also among the first Star Wars novels that I read).

IG-88 is the assassin droid in the fourth panel in the above illustration. His tale is kinda hilariously over-the-top, and when taken in the spirit of “this is just a bit of fun”, it is really enjoyable! It does, however, feature an Imperial Supervisor who wants – a nose job. Seriously, he has a massive hooter and at one point asks Darth Vader to finance some rhinoplasty. I mean, seriously? But yeah, sit back and enjoy the ride, and it’s pretty entertaining.

The tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM (panels five and one, respectively) is much more serious. It deals with the final evacuation of the rebels from Hoth, including controller Toryn Far (“Stand by ion control. Fire!”), and sees Zuckuss and 4-LOM bait a trap to try to collect the Empire’s bounty on Han Solo using these rebels, but ends up with them defecting to the Alliance. Nicely written, I must say, with some really compelling character portrayals of some folks who were essentially set dressing for the movie!

To finish with, I also watched Return of the Jedi this evening. This film is pretty awesome, I have to say. Growing up, it was (along with Masters of the Universe) my favourite film. Indeed, when I grew up I wanted to be Emperor Palpatine (fact!) Apart from the whole thing on Endor, which I can kinda take or leave, I still love this film! The space battle above Endor is still my favourite, and I love the Imperial Guards, and that reactor run is amazing, and Ian McDiarmid’s acting is superb, and the whole Jabba’s Palace sequence is just amazing (even the special edition’s inane additions can’t dampen my unbridled love of that!)

So tomorrow is May 4th, Star Wars day. I plan to make a special post to mark the occasion – look out for that one!