December 29, 2021

Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier


Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier developed by Square Enix and Ateam is a free to play battle royale set 30 years before the events of Final Fantasy VII. The game was released November 17, 2021 on Andriod and iOS. 

Since we've done the song and dance of battle royale countless times thus far I'll focuses on the differences. This game drops 75 people onto an ever-shrinking map, last person or team if you're playing that mode, left standing win. You can pick up weapons and ammunition along the way to help you take out the opposing "soldiers". What TFS offers different is the ability to pick up magic or spells. There are offensive and defensive spells available to pick up throughout the map and you're able to hold up to three of these spells. Picking up subsequent copies of the spells you already have equipped will level up the spells to up to level 3 and thus increasing its power. You can also earn from contracts and beating boss monsters Guardian Forces that will fight alongside you for a specified amount of time. 

The game play feels just like any other mobile battle royale with the exception of engagement of fights. I myself experienced lag spikes and frame skips at the start of most if not all battles as well as my cohosts. But it was obvious to me that my opponents were also experiencing this as they wouldn't always engage right away because of this. It almost felt as if you were battling against bots most of the time but after a few failed queues early on I can honestly say that I don't believe there are any computer-controlled players in the game.

The paywall in the game is all cosmetic based and similar style to Fortnite. Which is a big plus for us as they are the main game that does microtransactions well. But on top the battle passes and chests that can be unlocked via tickets that are earned through game play there's a leveling system for each class you can play as. As you level each class you unlock a lot of different cosmetics from the vehicles you can drive on the maps to the helicopter that you're dropped onto the map in. 

Overall, the game was fun to play I found myself going back to the game multiple times during our review period which isn't always the case. The highest I got in a solo game was third place and I won a game with a squad. The failed queues because not enough players were found, and the frame skips/ lag was a huge drawback to the game. There are more polished mobile battle royales out there and if the population of this game drops too much there won't be enough of a player base to play the game. Because of this I give the game a 4.5. 

You can listen to our full review and see if it got the Budget Arcade seal of approval on your favorite podcast app or listen on our YouTube channel 

December 20, 2021

Ragnarok Origin


Ragnarok Origin published by Korean developer Gravity was released on the iOS and Android. The game released in Korea on July 7, 2020, Japan on June 28, 2021, and in the United States November 10, 2021. The game is a call back to the original Ragnarok Online which released August 21, 2002. The graphics have a very similar feel to the original game and the game play mirrors it very well for being on a mobile platform. Both games are MMORPG based in the world of Rune Midguard. 

Ragnarok and I go way back. I was in the original beta test for Ragnarok Online when it first released in the United States. At that time there was only one major area, and it was centered around the desert town of Morroc. There also were only about 4 classes to choose from after being a novice. After about six months of the US audience complaining about the game and not offering any constructive criticism to the developer, it was pulled from the US market and the rest of the game was tested by the Korean audience. A year after its full release it was finally reintroduced to the US market. Thats when I was able to pick the game back up.

Game play for this new iteration into the franchise is a hack and slash style. Whereas the original was a point and click to target enemies. You can still click on targets, but it will also auto lock when you've pressed an attack action. Beneficial spells will automatically cast on yourself and party members when cast. This game adds an auto attack feature where you can either set it to attack all monsters in the area or set to attack specific monsters within the current screen.  Skills/Spells can be set to one of six spots on the skill wheel which can be cycled to a second wheel for a total of 12 skill spots.

Most of the paid items in the game are to gain cosmetics for your character. Some of the items do give stat buffs but not so much so that it would be considered pay to win. The in-game currency can be used to purchase items to upgrade your gear and add card slots to your items. The is also "battle passes" and "holiday passes" that can be purchased. 

There are a ton of quests in this game that can be done which increases the replayabilty of this game. There are also boss fights that can be done in a party of five as well as guild events. With six different classes to pick from and completely customizable builds for each character you could play this game differently each time. And with the original game to consider we can look forward to a secondary set of classes off of the original upgraded six classes. 

While Ragnarok Origin feels a lot like the original in game play and look, it doesn't seem to capture the magic of the original for me. There is defiantly quality of life improvements within the questing. The auto attack feature could allow you to farm an area of monsters without having to actually play the game. Though you would need to leave your phone open while the game plays for you. But there is something lacking that I just can't put my finger on. The game is well polished and looks beautiful. And I could see the current generation of gamers liking it. So, I would give Ragnarok Origin a 6.5.

Be sure to listen to the full episode of the podcast to see if the game received our seal or not. 

July 11, 2021


 Zind Created by Atlas Software and released on  March 25 of 2020 is a classic action platformer rated E 10+ and available on mobile devices. It offers 72 different hand crafted adventure levels with varying degrees of difficulty. You play as "Angry man" Zind as you attempt to transverse each level.

The game play is reminiscent of  most platformers but with the lack of any enemies. instead the goal is to avoid obstacles such as spikes, bottomless pits and platforms that drop unexpectedly. the touch screen controls make the game play fairly difficult. I was only able to make it to level 12 to a point where there were three platforms of various heights once you step on each platform they rise into a set up spikes positioned on the roof. Because of the way the controls are I was unable to pass this area. The controls for movement were not close enough together to be able to quickly act to avoid being crushed into the spike covered roof. 

This is an entirely free game with no paywall. when it was first released however there were ads after every level and after each death. Those have been taken out of the game and I haven't encountered one in months.

Replaying this game can be high. especially if you're a completionist or a glutton for punishment. To be able to get through all 72 levels would require some dedication. I'm not sure if there is controller support but if there is it would make the game way more manageable to play.

Over all I'd give this game a 7 out of 10. Is it frustrating? Yes. Is it fun? also yes. Is it worth your time? since it's 100% free and is enjoyable it most definitely is. Zind gets my seal and should also get yours.

Written by- Scott Taft

December 11, 2020

Among Us - Review


Developer: Innersloth

Other Titles: Dig 2 China, The Henry Stickmin Collection

Genre: online multiplayer social deduction

Release Date: June 15, 2018

Platforms: iOS, Android, PC

There are popular games and then there is Among Us.  Innersloth's massively-insanely-popular mobile game has taken the online world by storm and it doesn't show any signs of letting up any time soon.  


Among Us is relatively simple; you're an astronaut guy on some space-station thing charged with doing tasks to fulfill whatever mission that has been laid out, however while doing said tasks there is an IMPOSTER among you (get it?) who is going around killing crewmates one by one.  It's up to the collective group to figure out who 'dun it' and vote to "float" who they believe is the imposter into space.  Sounds morbid, but a space dude's gotta do what a space dude's gotta do.  That's the long and short of it.  The tasks are simple (think of little match mini-games or raising a lever or sucking up trash in a vacuum), they're not meant to stump you, merely preoccupy you until you either get killed or complete all of the tasks before the imposter kills everyone.  

The game is obviously designed to be played on either your phone or tablet from the comfort of wherever you have an internet connection (couch, car, toilet), however there is a disadvantage to playing on mobile and it's when you're playing with a group that is playing on a computer.  You see, in the game when you suspect another player of being the imposter or you come across a dead body, you report it or call a meeting and then you get allotted time to convene and talk it over with the rest of the crew (other players).  This is where deduction and partnerships come in, you can either try to persuade the group to vote in a misleading direction (say if you were the imposter) or you can use your uncanny questioning abilities to try to figure out who among you (get it?) is the imposter.  Those playing on mobile are at the disadvantage because it uses valuable time to type things out on a phone/tablet, whereas those playing on a computer have a full-fledged keyboard and it doesn't take much time at all to type out a short sentence or word.  It may not seem like much, but those precious seconds matter when you're trying to convince the group not to kill you.  Granted, players have become so good at this game that it's likely not a disadvantage at all to seasoned vets of the game, but to newbies it could get tricky.  

Playing the game is fun in its own right, however I believe it's best played as a party game.  You create your own lobby and then get an invite code and then you can invite nine other players to join you in game.  You have the freedom to pick the map, the speed of the game, how far each character can see at any given time, and most importantly, how many imposters there are.  I had the most fun with the game while playing with my 11 year old daughter (who is significantly better at the game than I) and together we invited her other friends and collectively played for over an hour just our group.  I could see this game becoming a party staple, even in person.  

The game is comparatively more simple and easier to digest than another Budget Arcade reviewed social deduction game, Town of Salem.  


While the mobile version of Among Us is free, the PC version of the game is not.  You'll have to spend a cool $5 to play on your computer and as far as in-game purchases go, they are for cosmetic purposes only.  You can spend real dollars to customize your characters color, wear a cool looking hat or have a little mini-me running around with you.  It's another reason why this game has become so popular and likely won't be going anywhere anytime soon.  Gamers love free and they don't like developers charging money to gain a competitive advantage over  other gamers.  An even playing field at all times goes miles.  


Sky high.  You can play by yourself with a bunch of randos or you can host your own party and play with a bunch of friends.  You can play for five minutes or five hours.  Simply up to you.  I will say that game can get repetitive and, dare I say...boring?  If you're playing with friends I doubt it's boring, but it can trend that way after a couple of games which is why it's no big deal to close the app and go about your day and then reboot it when you're ready to accuse someone of being "sus" once again.  

Seal of Approval? 

While the game does get repetitive and can grow stale after a while, there are more than enough people playing this game at any given time to keep the wait times in lobbies short and you the gamer entertained for however long you want it.  The fact that it doesn't cost anything to get good at the game just adds to its allure.  This is a game that will live on your device for a long time.  It gets the coveted Budget Arcade Seal of Approval.     

December 10, 2020

Genshin Impact - Review


Developer: miHoYo 

Other Titles: Honkai Impact 3rd, Collapse Gokuen

Genre: Action RPG

Release Date: September 28, 2020

Platforms: PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, iOS/Android

Every so often there comes a game that just blows you away; not because of how good it is but because of its scale.  Developer miHoYo set out to make an anime action/adventure RPG game that was large in concept, touted a massive development budget but was also free-to-play.  Out of those concepts, Genshin Impact was born and it is great!


There's no denying that Genshin Impact bears a ton of similarities to Nintendo's Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  Everything from the stamina meter, to the combat, to the map, to the monsters you face throughout...everything harkens back to BotW.  

You are a mysterious "traveler" from another world stuck on Earth looking for your brother in the land of Teyvat.  One thing about the campaign in this game is that it pretty much abandons the whole "looking for your brother" bit.  It instead replaces it with a more intriguing storyline that allows you to explore the entire map, which is insanely large for a F2P game.  

While the combat is pretty good, everything revolves around cooking in-game.  Health options, power-ups, and more are all highly important to your progression through the game.  The anime influences take over the game pretty quickly and make their mark on the gameplay.  Every particular type of anime-inspired character is represented and some are more, er...sexual than others (but that's just another anime trope).  One thing that stands out about the gameplay is the voice-acting throughout by the supporting characters (everyone other than your fairy companion is digestible).  It's particularly well done and makes the game feel more authentic.   

The game utilizes element battle where your character's element of choice can come quite in handy in you getting past a certain big bad or progressing through the game's main story quests.  Say you're battling some water bad guys (blobs, probably) and you have a character in your party who specializes in electric attacks...well, guess what, you should probably battle those water dudes with that electric character.  

The game's story is told through your "Adventure Rank" which you obtain through main quests, side quests and completing objectives across the map.  The game doesn't really hit a wall until you obtain Adventure Rank 20 or so.  Then it becomes a grind.  Every bit of the story is released as you obtain different Adventure Rank levels.  Personally, I didn't obtain an AR rank of higher than 22 but even then it was becoming quite the grind to progress.  


That brings me to the pay-to-win factor that Genshin Impact brings to the action/adventure realm.  It's a fantastic game, don't get me wrong, however as you progress through ranks it becomes impossibly hard to progress where needed without spending actual money on the game.  There's horror stories online of gamers spending hundreds of money on the game, attempting to get a particular character that (they believe) is needed to give them an upper hand in-game, only to get repetitive characters and items that they obtained many transactions prior.  There are tons of different in-game currencies to parse through and spend in order to get the actual currency that you need.  It's quite confusing why there are so many currencies, and I'm not going to get into them all here (just play the game), it's a reason I could see many getting turned off of the game.  It is an absolute necessity, in order to complete the game, to spend your money.  To me, that takes Genshin Impact out of the running for Game of the Year.  You simply can't claim to be F2P and then expect your gamer base to fork  over money (a lot) in order to complete your game.  Sure, if miHoYo had released this game with a $60 price tag and made the entire campaign available and only charged for DLC, we'd likely be talking about a GotY contender.  They didn't and that hurts its overall product.  


I believe that miHoYo knew what they had on-hand before releasing this game as a F2P model.  They knew your average RPG gamer would eat this game up and would keep coming back.  Plus you get added bonuses every day, so there's another incentive.  Daily quests are also a thing that bring gamers back and will have Genshin Impact in your repeat library.  The map being so incredibly large also ups the replayability because there's just so much to explore and do, it will take you hours upon hours to discover everything and complete all side quests.  

Seal of Approval?

Genshin Impact is the most fun I've had playing a free-to-play game in quite some time.  The amount of detail and gameplay options you have at your disposal is very impressive.  miHoYo hit this one out of the park and I could see this game living for years in its current state with map and story updates.  Give a shot as it gets the coveted Budget Arcade Seal of Approval!

December 9, 2020

Rocket League F2P - Review


Developer: Psyonix 

Other Titles: Gears of War, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Bulletstorm

Genre: Vehicular Soccer 

Release Date: July 7, 2015

Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC/Mac, Nintendo Switch (later)

There are genres of video games for everyone.  Literally every single person that walks this Earth.  You like trading seashells on a fictitious island that's run by a raccoon?  There's a game for you!  You like playing a game as a alien(monster?) figure high in the sky where the only objective is to knock other players off the map?  There's a game for you!  You want to play a game of soccer as a RC car where you can do tricks and pimp your ride?  Well, let's talk about that game...


Rocket League was released back in the day - almost six years ago, in fact - as a game that was going to take the eSports world by storm.  It was billed as this fast-paced "racing"-type game that introduced soccer into the mix.  It was an interesting premise.  Fast forward all of those years and the free-to-play model of the game, which was launched back in September 2020, is just as polished and just as fun as when the game first launched.  

Two teams of cars begin a given match by driving aimlessly around an enclosed arena attempting to get a giant ball in their respective nets on the other end of the arena.  There's a timer (usually around 5 minutes) and the team with the most points at the end of the match wins.  Simple.  You can pick and choose what type of player you want to play as, and keep in mind that the game is best played as a traditional soccer type role (forward, midfield, fullback).  While playing the game, that's how I set out to play the game; defender stays back and defends the net, midfielder is responsible for getting the ball up to the forwards, forwards primary responsibility is scoring.  If you choose to play a more chaotic game, where every car is simply just driving around hitting the ball in an unknown direction just hoping to get the ball in the net, your gameplay experience probably won't be as deep as playing a traditional role.  Now in order to actually get good at the game you'll have to master the intricate details of how the vehicles operate, the gravity in the game, timing jumps, timing your boosts, how do you hit the ball while it's in the air, where you hit the's all important in mastering the game.  That's pretty much it.  It's fun.  


Psyonix making this game free-to-play is a way to keep the game fresh and shows evolution in the gaming market to stay relevant.  I feel that evolution maintains itself with the game's microtransactions as they are purely cosmetic.  There are no pay-to-win models here.  That's a reason the game will maintain its fun-factor.  You can purchase different skins for your car; there have been sales where you can purchase a skin that makes your vehicle look like the Delorean from the Back to the Future films, or puts a "M" on your car and changes the paint schemes to look like Mario, there's the Batmobile, Jurassic Park Jeep, or perhaps the  ECTO-1 from Ghostbusters.  It's a cool collection of skins that provide joy rather than give you a competitive advantage.  


Picking up a controller and playing for an hour, getting some ranked matches in, and then putting the controller down is probably the best way to approach this game.  It's not a game that you'll likely play for hours and hours on end, but rather play a couple of matches daily - maybe with friends or just randomly - and then do something else.  The fact that the game is still so fun to play six years after its initial launch is a testament to the developers and the game's core base.  The market for this game is clearly still there. 

Seal of Approval?

While some gamers may be a bit perturbed that this game went free-to-play only a few years after some (Nintendo gamers) spent $50 on it, it's still one of the best "sports" games out there and the fact that you can download it for free and jump right in and experience the fun is so great.  It's one of the best F2P models and gets the coveted Budget Arcade Seal of Approval.

December 7, 2020

Fruit Ninja 2 - Review


Developer: Halfbrick Studios

Other Titles: Jetpack Joy Ride, Fish Out of Water, Monster Dash

Release Date: November 5, 2020

Genre: Action Fruit-Slicing 

Platforms: iOS, Android

Friends, how do you make a sequel to one of last decades' most surprising hit mobile games? Call it "2".  That's exactly what developer Halfbrick has done with Fruit Ninja 2, which is to say not much at all.  I believe not changing much when it comes to gameplay or how the game is received, is a praise in its own right because it requires confidence by the developer to know that the previous game was a hit and by keeping much of the core game in the sequel will lead to the sequel becoming a smash hit as well.  Now, that's does not mean that Halfbrick just simply recolored some fruit and placed some new character skins in Fruit Ninja 2 and called it good.  No, they actually kept the core gameplay intact and added some options that allow you to explore the game's in-depth offerings.  Let's dive in.  


Remember playing the original Fruit Ninja game and the fun it allowed for as long as you wanted to play, and then you could simply exit the app and not have to worry about what level you were on or if you completed all of the objectives.  Fruit Ninja 2 keeps all those same stakes, which we like to call "no stakes gaming" around these parts, while taking your journey into fruit slicing down a few rabbit holes.  The core gameplay experience still revolves around you slicing fruit with your ninja sword - as you are a ninja, once again - and the more fruit you slice the higher your point totals go.  It's not complicated.  However, some added gameplay options that this sequel brings are the ability to attach "special moves" to your slicing; sometimes these super abilities makes fruit bigger, sometimes they make more fruit appear on screen, or sometimes they're just point total bonuses that last for a brief period.  You can have three total attached for you to use.  

Everyone loves a multiplayer option with Halfbrick going the extra mile to bring the gameplay mode to Fruit Ninja 2.  It's one of the games' best additions and it's done particularly well.  You join a lobby of players and when the game pits you against another person. You each get turns to slice fruit and then you slice fruit on the same screen at a higher pace.  It's particularly addictive, the rush of slicing apples and bananas against another real person.  

Evolving the game means adding more gameplay options, beyond the multiplayer.  Halfbrick has added some challenge progressions to the core gameplay experience, and it may be the most rewarding addition to the game.  The challenges often change depending on the day or week but most are slotted-in options that make you complete time trials or obtain point totals or not hit any bombs by the end of the time period.  As you progress through the challenges you'll eventually reach the end where you will be rewarded with either a new sword (I only obtained one new sword this way, and it wasn't necessarily a gameplay advantage) or a new special ability or, my favorite addition (sarcasm), a plethora of in-game currency that you can use to either improve your ninja character's look or purchase a new sword or purchase new abilities.  This is where the game takes a dip in quality for me.  


Make no mistake here, Halfbrick is in the video game business to make money and that's a very clear change in this sequel from the first game.  The first Fruit Ninja didn't have many in-your-face micro-transactions, but this go-around clearly wants to capitalize on your gameplay experience.  There are a slew of different in-game currencies that reveal different things throughout the game.  One particular currency - tickets - allows you more attempts at the challenges section (as you only get a set number per day).  The more tickets you have the more chances you have at obtaining the prize at the end of the challenge road.  It's not a new method, but one I didn't quite expect when I started playing the game.  

Another currency is seeds that you can obtain and plant in your garden in a different section of the game.  These seeds require watering and don't grow particularly fast (think hours), so it requires you to come back to the game in the time specified to see what has sowed.  Most of the times they are just gameplay boosts, but you can obtain other forms of game currency this way.  Regardless of the many in-game currencies there are, it isn't so much to bog the game down or make you overwhelmed.  You can still download the game for free and play to your hearts content and then put it down.  That's a win.  


Rationalizing Fruit Ninja 2 as "no stakes gaming" doesn't require much effort at all, and that's precisely the reason why the replay factor is so high here.  You can simply pick it up and put it down.  There isn't anything in game that makes you worry or fret about continuing for the replay factor to take a hit. You're also not likely to run out of things to do.  Did you just plant some seeds in your garden and now you have to wait 12 hours for them to grow?  No worries, just log back in at the time and collect your reward.  Log back out when you are through puttering around.  Truly no stakes.  

Seal of Approval?

Knowing your audience is always key when it comes to mobile games.  Halfbrick spent a decade tinkering and evolving their gamer base, with Fruit Ninja 2 they have not only brought back the addicting gameplay of the first title, they've improved on it creating a more well-rounded and in-depth experience that can live on your phone or tablet for years and years.   Fruit Ninja 2 gets the Budget Arcade famed "Seal of Approval".  

April 9, 2020

Totally Reliable Delivery (Service)

Totally Reliable Delivery (Service)
    Today I am reviewing the free mobile version of Totally Reliable Delivery on IOS by Tiny Build LLC and We’re Five Games, which released April 1st, 2020. The game is officially posted as Totally Reliable Delivery but I’ve seen it with service attached hence that title of this review. I only played the mobile version, but the game is also available on PC and consoles.
Gameplay: I’ll be honest, it’s fairly straightforward. The game is what I’d call a “whacky physics delivery game” You play a character who works for a delivery service. You can control your character’s movement, ability to grab with left/right hand, ability to lift left/right arms, jump, and dive. In order to load packages into vehicles, you have to lift the package up after grabbing it, hence movement of arms. Occasionally you have to move a lever and grab it with a hand as well. There are delivery package machines that drop/spawn a package for you to deliver and a location to take the package to. Some delivery missions spawn vehicles but you can also find some on the street and you can load your package onto it. Examples of vehicles are pickup trucks, boats, and fork trucks. As you haul the package however you haul it, you may encounter obstacles or physics that delay your delivery or even damage the package. As I was driving down a road, a manhole cover flew up and blew my truck onto its side which also tossed the package down the street. I also rolled the vehicle often by turning, which definitely didn’t help my deliveries. There are also some other tools for fun, like I hit a red barrel and it tossed me into the air from an explosion. I also grabbed a fire extinguisher and flew up the side of a mountain of trash as it emptied its contents. As you complete deliveries you earn currency which you can buy different things in game. 
Paywall: There isn’t much free here, so the paywall is mostly buying the game ($4.99) and the DLC (3 DLCS each $1.99). The free area is a small town and ten missions. You can buy the deluxe edition for $9.99 that has base game and the DLC packaged together. I didn’t purchase it, so I couldn’t confirm if there is much to pay for after if any.
Replayability: For free to play players, there’s very limited replayability here. If you buy the game and DLC, I imagine there would be a lot keeping players coming back. There’s also multiplayer if you have friends playing the game or you could join random games I believe. I didn’t test it though; free players are locked to either hosting games or joining friends. Can’t join a random player sadly. 
Judgement: I have heard this game is very fun on consoles and I can imagine how it would be. On mobile however, I’m not a fan. I’m usually not a fan of whacky physics games in general, but I can understand their appeal. The controls on here however are awful. You have a left stick in the bottom left of the screen and limb control on bottom right. They aren’t responsive and usually as I was driving, the camera would start swinging around randomly and my joystick in the bottom left wouldn’t quite respond correctly. This made turning a vehicle that much harder and it was frustrating. Besides the controls, I also physically got stuck in package delivery slot a few times which was annoying. At least the game offers a respawn function, so you could break free, but it would spawn you a ways away, and also as free goes, this isn’t free. I would like to give it my seal, considering how graphically it looked good, it was relatively polished for an inexpensive game, but it just doesn’t meet the criteria in my book for approval. It doesn’t get my seal, however if you like physics games and have friends to play with, check this out on console or pc. A free to demo is still worth checking if it’s your type of game, but skip the mobile version. 
Reviewed by Nomic on 4/9/2020. Thank you for reading my review. Disclaimer: My opinions are my own, I’m an unpaid third-party reviewer so I’m not bias in any way. 

April 1, 2020

Evil Hunter Tycoon

Evil Hunter Tycoon is a game produced by Superplanet and Retro Arts. I believe it released this year (2020). The brief description from the apple store says it all.

“Become a Town Chief!!
Handle everything starting from Town construction to craft, sale, and training Hunters!”

Gameplay: The game is basically a town management game. Hunters arrive in your town looking for monsters to kill for money and loot. They sell the loot and spend money in your town, allowing you to upgrade buildings, create items to sell (i.e. equipment, bandages, etc.), and organize dungeon raids which become progressively harder as you complete floors. Once the hunters level up a bit, there are three zones that they can hunt; you can assign them to whichever zone you please. If a hunter dies, they can pay gold to your town to be resurrected. There are different classes of hunter (may be more in late game but these are the ones I encountered): Berserker, paladin, ranger, and sorcerer. The classes have units that are considered normal, rare, superior, and heroic ranked stats. Each class has specific class weapons/armor that can be equipped. Your hunters can level, you can also teach them skills as they level up. Since it is a town management game, you can place your buildings where you want however you have a boundary and random obstacles that you eventually can remove through in game currency. Gold isn’t the only currency to upgrade with. Loot that is sold to the town or that you tap on in the monster zones are used to craft items and also build/upgrade buildings. This type of loot is, for example, cloth that can be used for bandages or oranges for drinks for your hunters. There are gems which is the “premium currency” and elementals which seem universal for most items, but they seem to not go far in being used. The elementals require a lot more to craft the most basic items. Most of the buildings are typical and to list them all wouldn’t benefit you as the reader, but generally there are weapon shops, inn, tavern, and a shop that you can request for loot from the hunters. That type of stuff. Most of the time, you’re micromanaging hunters, clicking on them and telling them to go to the shop, once they arrive, you can tell them what to buy. Same mechanics to learn skills, change zones etc… Find the hunter, click, wait, click again, and watch them go back to their target. The game gives you a tutorial type quest line, but it was rather slow to progress, some of the quests were to collect certain items that drop from monsters or watch a hunter kill a type of mob twenty times. The dungeon was alright, pay gold per hunter and watch them walk straight into mobs and then attack, but it was all auto and melee units bunched together to where it was difficult to see their health and damage. The dungeon loot was crafting items, no gold. I would be wrong to not mention guilds in the game also. There are guilds, took me three days to finally join one, they’re request only and I applied for half a dozen open to anyone guilds before one finally recruited me. Once in a guild, you can donate a guild currency that you get from doing bosses and dungeons. That guild currency I believe gets you upgrades, but I couldn’t figure out how to see what the upgrade does, it’s picked by the guild leader so it probably doesn’t matter much on your vote. I’m also told there’s pvp in this game, but I never got that far to witness it.

Paywall: The shop in this game has many tabs. You can buy gems which are usable toward crafting and other tasks, more of a general premium currency. You can use gems and elemental to buy hunter invitations to your town, but there are caps to how many can be in your town before upgrades. There are also packages that give exp boosts and hunters. You can also pay for enhancement stones which I never was able to use one, but I believe it’s for equipment. You can also pay for costumes and pets. Basically this game wants your money and gives you many ways to use it. Prices range from $4 to over $100. Woot! I would say this game is both pay to win and bedazzle. If not to win, then to at least advance in the game significantly faster.

Replayability: This is much like an mmo where the game never truly ends. There’s always something to do, albeit watching hunters do things. There are dungeon floors to raid, there are guilds to get points for, and there are bosses, also supposedly pvp. There are shops to restock, hunters to order to do things. Ultimately, this game is very replayable. It’s not something I want to replay, but if it is your type of game, there’s plenty to watch.

Judgement: I personally wanted to stop playing this game the night I installed it. I was bored right in the beginning. There just wasn’t much interaction, it’s mostly watching hunters do repetitive things and micromanaging them. The very first dungeon “raid” I organized, one of the hunters didn’t show up because he wanted a bandage from the shop that was out of stock. So he simply sat there until I found him, restocked the shop, and he finally joined. There wasn’t a popup where I was looking saying the shop ran out, I simply had to notice the hunter with a thought bubble complaining about it to realize it needed restocked. This wasn’t a one time occurrence either. Furthermore in order to get items for upgrading and crafting, you have to request them from hunters and it was hard to request a perfect balance. I either had too little loot to craft with or too little gold from requesting too much loot. Sure you could watch an ad for gold, but as soon as you did, you had to spend that gold otherwise someone else might sell stuff to your shop before you could. The only way to make money is to craft stuff for them to buy, but you have to tell them to buy equipment. I had high levels running around with starter items because they couldn’t buy anything for themselves. This was a micromanaging hell and honestly I am glad to uninstall it. Perhaps it would be better in the end game, but there are much better games to play than this one in my opinion. This game actually reminded me of a game by Kairosoft called dungeon village, basically the same concept but less micromanaging. Very simplified, albeit not much end game. That game I believe cost $5 on IOS (my platform) and was from 2012. If that’s been updated for the newer operating systems, I’d recommend that as a paid alternative. Evil Hunter Tycoon definitely does not receive a seal from me.

Reviewed by Nomic on 4/1/2020. Thank you for reading my review. Disclaimer: My opinions are my own, I’m an unpaid third-party reviewer so I’m not bias in any way.

March 4, 2020

Dragon Up: Idle Adventure

Dragon Up: Idle Adventure is an "idle game" produced by East side games, in collaboration with IdleKit and night Garden Studio. The game is available on Android and iOS. At the time of writing this I couldn't find the original release date. On the official site the games synopsis is as follows.

Tap your way through the Dragon Kingdom in this colorful and fun animated idle adventure Game!

Collect ALL the dragons and rake in gold coins from beautiful dragon nests to unlock rare dragon, epic dragons and new habitats to expand your kingdom! Once you collect enough coins, feed them to your trusty pet dragon Billy and watch him turn them into amazing treasures.
Game play: The game play (if you can call it that) is pretty strait forward. You are given enough gold at the start of a round (Day per the game) to set up your first habitat for your dragons. As the game is idle, gold will build up in that habitat and can be collected once the counter reaches it's max. As gold increases you'll unlock the ability to open up other habitats to produce gold as well. Habitats can also be automated to collect gold automatically but only after specific perimeters are met. At the top of the screen is a bar that represents the "day's" tasks. once you've met all of the tasks your main dragon can be "fed". To feed your dragon you're taken to another screen where you tap the screen to feed your dragon. I've found that no matter how you tap your screen the dragon will eat at the same consistent rate so there is no way to boost your rewards from eating no matter your technique for tapping. After collecting your rewards from feeding your dragon you start another "day" of collecting gold from your dragons. Each dragon and habitat can be upgraded from obtaining cards. The upgrading is what allows you to automate the gold collecting. 

Paywall: There are four main currency within the game. First is the gold which is earned by the idle processes. Next is potions that are earned from various tasks as well as purchased. You can purchase the potions with the third currency which is diamonds. The Diamonds can be earned as well but is also the only purchasable currency with real world money. The final currency is the cards that can only be earned from the various tasks in the game. This game practices a very predatory economy within the game. Each habitat to be upgraded to be able to automate gold collection requires either your dragons or habitat to be upgraded to a specific point. The only way to upgrade either is with the potions. Potions can be earned but the earning potential is very minimal and most times requires you to watch an in game ad around 30 seconds long. Or you can wait for your free potions every four hours. Either way the amount of potions that will be required far exceeds what you are reasonably given for free. 

Replayablity: This type of "game play" will defiantly keep a person with a specific personality type coming back again and again. As for myself it doesn't hold water. I found that it was a chore to continually log into the game to "play" it to give a fair review.

Judgment: This doesn't even merit the title of "Game". This is the type of game that gets mobile gaming labeled as not gaming by the gamer community. This game does not get the Budget Arcade seal of approval. There are far better ways to waste your time and your phones memory on than this.  

Review written by Scott Taft.

December 17, 2019

Dungeon Fighter Online

By Elliot

Before I really start with how this game plays, I think it is important to explain just how much of a pain it was to download this game. Dungeon Fighter Online is available on Steam, so of course that was my first thought about where to download the game. However, it ending up taking three attempts of downloading this game to actually get it to work. Once from Steam, which it turned out that Neople, the developer and publisher, banned my account instantly for some reason. I went to game page on Steam and found that this was a very common problem. So I went to Neople’s actual site, where it took two more times, using two different emails to get an account that worked. Before I even began to play I was already very frustrated, if I wasn’t reviewing the game for the podcast I would have given up. Several days after my first attempt to download the game, I received an email from them saying they suspended my account, and they wanted feedback on what I thought of the game.

Gameplay here is similar to classic 2D side-scrolling arcade hack and slash games. You could almost say it plays out a little like Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, or Battle Toads Double. I say almost because those games of old did side scrolling fighters better than this does. Using the arrow keys for your movement instead of the wasd keys is a huge mistake in my eyes. Instead all the letter keys go toward using your moves. And there are a billion of them. I found myself figuring out which spell would heal or buff my character, mapped that key to something I would remember, and then just pushing random buttons as I played to use offensive spells, they all did damage, so it didn’t matter.
Levels are incredibly linear, there are zero choices to be made here. You fight the monster on one screen, once you kill them you find the door, which is in a random direction (top, down, left or right) but there is rarely multiple choices to make here, maybe when you get further into the game play you see some of that, but didn’t all week.

Dungeon Fighter Online also takes after games like Diablo and Path of Exile. There is a regular leveling mode, and then a hardcore, once you die your character is gone mode. I never once felt the fear of dying, but I guess it does happen. There are a lot of classes to choose from as well, more so than most games like this, and there is usually a male or female version of each. Classes seem unique with unique moves and looks about them. I would be remiss for not mentioning that the female version is not 100% safe for work either.

There was a lot I did not get to experience here. None of the guilds, pvp, or raids. Reading about end game content there seems to be enough stuff to keep you busy. I have read that the end game content can get tiresome quickly, which I wouldn’t find surprising.
I found gameplay to get stale very quickly. I started with the Priest class, played until I unlocked the subclass, played that for a bit before trying a ranged class. I found the range class to just be terrible. I then thought I would try another class, but was only allowed to make two characters a day. I tried a few more classes. They all feel different enough for a bit, but it really is just button mashing.
The story did not engage me either, most mmo type games struggle with this so I don’t hold it against the game.

I found the controls to be terrible. Not being used to using the arrow keys really made for an unpleasant experience, and there was no way you could use a controller with so many spells.
Overall this game is a pass. If you want to do real dungeon crawls go play Path of Exile, it’s free, looks better, and has more content updates.

You can listen Budget Arcade's episode on Dungeon Fighter Online on Anchor, or search for the podcast by name.

Elliot is a part of the weekly Budget Arcade podcast. Find him on Twitter at Elliot_Argues You can also find his other podcast Tessa and Elliot Argue where you find podcasts.

November 21, 2019

Rude Racers

When I was asked to do a review for Rude Racers, I was curious.  I saw that it was based off of Road Rash, which was an amazing series on the Sega Genesis, so I went from curious to intrigued.  Then I played the game and the intrigue turned back into indifference. It was an emotional rollercoaster to be sure, but ultimately I’m glad I checked it out, even though I will most likely be putting it aside for better games in my backlog. 

Rude Racers is a casual 2D combat racing game developed and published by Famous Dogg Studios, and is available on iOS, Android and Steam.  I have an Android phone, and it is free to download on mobile devices, but on Steam it is currently $2. The reviews on Steam were very positive, but I started on mobile since its free.  Though most of my review will cover that version, I did eventually get to download the PC version.

The game consists of you riding an ATV in a race against others, and you race upwards on the racetrack avoiding obstacles and beating off the competition to stay ahead in the race.  In a lot of the reviews I’ve read, they mention the action being “fast and furious” in many of them, but I personally wouldn’t go that far when describing it. Your speed does not change in-race, and it definitely doesn’t feel frenetic most of the time, though you can buy vehicles that have better speed stats.  You gradually catch up with the other racers, and after passing them, they gradually catch up to you. The gameplay modes consist of Seasons, where you earn trophies and money for upgrades to your vehicle, person or weapon, and Quickplay matches where you can play a match for some quick in-game cash.  In the Seasons, there are multiple types of game modes, including races, deathmatches mode, and even a mode where you compete with the CPU characters to knock down the most pizza delivery vehicles, which establishes a bit of variety. Each season is a different setting, but each track still looks and feels the same.  If the game seems too easy at first play, you eventually can choose between easy, medium and hard modes for each mode, each subsequent mode earning more money than the previous one if you win. I was bored playing easy mode and quickly switched to hard mode, which was more my speed. (Pun intended) Each round of the mobile version that you play consumes 1 unit of fuel, and once all of it is gone you have to wait for it to replenish.  Video ads pop up periodically between matches, and you can watch ads to earn extra fuel.

The controls on mobile consist of horizontal movement and an attack button, which is nice and simple for a mobile game.  If you have a small enough phone to hold in one hand, I imagine this game is easy to play. I own a Note, and I don’t have Tony Robbins’ hands so I certainly couldn’t play one-handed.  Still, I like my mobile controls simple in a pick-up-and-play game, and the controls work well for what this game is. The PC version allows you to use the keyboard & mouse or a controller, and the controls remain the same.

Thankfully, there is no “paywall” on the free mobile version, and there isn’t any in-game currency to worry about.  There is a shop available to buy extra cash or fuel for $0.99 or $2 to get rid of ads (presumably only in the mobile version), which is the same price of the Steam version.  Well played, Famous Dogg. I didn’t play the game enough in one sitting for the ads to bother me too much. There isn’t much extra functionality to the PC version of the game that isn’t included in the mobile version, which makes the free version a good way to start, especially if you’re unsure if this game is for you.

When it comes to replayability, this game is more suited to being a casual mobile game than a simple Steam game.  It may even have benefitted as a free web-based online game, but I can understand why the Famous Dogg would want to make a bit of money off their efforts.  When I was a teacher, I certainly would have let my students play this after they finished their work, and I imagine kids would enjoy this much more than adults, though it has a certain appeal regardless. Even though the concept of racing and attacking the others is somewhat violent, I’d still let my 5-year-old play this game and he might enjoy it more than I did.

Final Thoughts:
I’m torn as to whether to recommend this game or not.  This game is a simple race and bash game with simpler graphics, and it gets the job done as a quick-fix game.  I never felt the need to play it for long stretches of time, and it’s not the first game on my phone that I run to when I need a gaming fix.  As a free casual mobile game, you could do worse...but you could find a better one too. Give it a shot, play through the first few rounds and get to the spot where you choose game modes and difficulties and you’ll start unlocking things.  If you’re not pulled in by then (and unfortunately I wasn’t), at least you didn’t shell out a whopping two dollars for the PC version. 

Steam version: 5 out of 10 - it’s fun in small bursts, and may appeal more to younger gamers. Would serve better as a free web-based game for kids, but as an adult I’ll turn my gaming efforts elsewhere.

Mobile Version: 6 out of 10 - It’s more accessible to a wider audience as a casual one-handed mobile game that’s easy to pick up and play.  Not the best game out there, but definitely scratches an itch if you need a distraction.

Written by Gamified Dad

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November 20, 2019

Pokemon Quest

Pokemon Quest has that Nintendo shine. The game looks amazing, on both Switch and mobile devices. The developer nailed the art form. But that is where all compliments end with this game.

You can listen to the episode to hear the myriad of problems this game has. It really boils down to this, there is zero engagement with this game. Almost the entire game can be played on auto pilot.

You can even watch me play the game the first time here and see just how bored I get.

As you can imagine Pokemon Quest did not get the Budget Arcade seal.

November 12, 2019

Unbroken Soul

By Elliot

I have not played a lot of the modern day platformers. Celeste, Limbo, Shovel Knight, Cuphead. When I think of the current platformers those are some of the names that come to mind for me. I haven’t even played the newest Mario game for the Switch.

I have played a lot of the previous generations of platformers. Lot of Sonic (can’t wait for the movie!) Mario, Crash, Spyro, Jax and Dexter, Banjo, just to name some that I liked. So Unbroken Soul interested me when it became our game of the week. I was thinking a mix of old school pixel platform and maybe some Dark Souls learn the fight mechanics. And that is exactly what it feels like to me.

In Unbroken Soul you have nine worlds to travel through, each with four stages and a boss fight at the end of each world. Worlds are different and unique enough, as are the bosses that it does not feel like the same zone over and over. Levels are also not to slow, just about the perfect size for a phone game. Some levels require more skill to traverse, others none at all. I found certain worlds to be kinda awful, requiring pinpoint accuracy to make a jump, or grab a hook. Not every world here was created equally, and the difficulty doesn’t progress in a linear fashion. Some are just harder to get through than others. Same goes with boss fights. I found the second world boss to be hard when I originally got to him. But the last three regular bosses before the final boss I was able to one shot without any issue, go figure.

I found I had more problems with levels, not being accurate enough in my jumps than I did with boss fights. Patterns overall were not too hard to learn, and once you have mastered them replaying a level for extra gold was very easy and quick to do. I hate when you have to die to figure out the puzzle as well. That only happened a couple of times, but I feel like that is a cheap mechanic, basically forcing you to die in order to progress, there was no way of knowing what to do without realistically dying at least once.

I also struggle to play games with screen controls, luckily Unbroken Soul has an answer to that. The recent ios update allows you to use a PS4 controller if the game has built in controls. After beating the game I attempted to try out the touch controls and found it next to unplayable for me in some worlds. Could be that I’m an old man now and I need the tactile feel of a controller, could be the game is garbage without one. I also frequently felt like I was sliding on ice with my character, nothing to crazy, the controls are responsive, but you character moves just a little after you let up on the controls.

Story to this game is weak. Dialogue cutscenes at the start of a level, before a boss, and after you leave the zone. BUT. BUT. also in the middle of the damn boss fights, you’ll get a dialogue scene. And if you die and have to do the fight again, you get the same cutscenes. For a game with little to no story, I could have done without.

I find Unbroken Soul to be a well above average phone game, and an average game in general. While being very frustrating at times, I never really struggled to understand what I needed to do in order to get to the next area, I just didn’t have the pinpoint accuracy it required. I imagine if I was playing with the touch screen I would have given up at some point. Pretty good game for a phone, and at the price tag you get your money's worth. By far not the worst way to spend a few hours, but feels like a time waster than a full fledged game at times.

November 11, 2019

Black Desert Mobile

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – November 11, 2019 – Pearl Abyss today announced that the free-to-play open-world action MMORPG, Black Desert Mobile, will be launched globally on iOS and Android devices on December 11, 2019. Following an initial soft-launch on Android in seven countries and driving more than three million game pre-registrations, the grand launch of Black Desert Mobile will include new gameplay features and support for nine languages.

To celebrate, all pre-registrations through the official website for Black Desert Mobile will reward visitors with a free copy of Black Desert on supported consoles or PC. Pre-register now on the official website to claim your key to Black Desert on consoles or PC while supplies last: The Black Desert franchise spans across PC, Xbox One, PlayStation®4, and mobile platforms with over 20 million registered users and availability in more than 150 countries. Black Desert Mobile offers the same fast-paced action combat and detailed character customization that players have come to expect on PC and console, with support for English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese and Chinese Traditional languages. Experience an open-world MMORPG filled with relaxing life skills and more, including:

Character Classes - Choose from five classes: Warrior, Ranger, Giant, Witch, or Valkyrie. Pick from masters of melee combat to those who attack from afar with range, or select a magic-based class for offensive and defensive skills.
Combat - Explore a deep combat system that allows players to experience the same core action of Black Desert on their mobile phone.
Customization - Discover your potential through a detailed character creation system. Design a unique adventurer by choosing from five classes and distinct skill sets to reflect your personal playstyle.
Life Skills - Hone your skills by fishing, gathering, trading, horse breeding, and camp managing your way to riches.
Leveling - Grow your character’s strength with different attributes including Equipment Enhancement, Accessories, the Black Spirit, and various Pets.
In-Depth Gameplay - In-game systems offer an immersive gameplay experience, such as social guilds, weather changes, a real-time marketplace, and environment. Black Spirit Mode, which enables Adventurers to continue their game and get rewards without network connection, even if the app is completely turned off.

Pre-register on the Google Play Store or pre-order on iOS App Store ahead of the global launch on December 11, 2019. For more information about Black Desert Mobile, visit the official website and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

About Black Desert Black Desert is an open-world action MMORPG with cutting-edge visuals and skill-based combat that redefines the genre. Black Desert has the most developed character customization system of any game that is currently on the market. This feature allows users to break out of the norm and make unique characters that truly represent each and every player. Its intuitive controls, beautifully designed world and extensive lore will excite both newcomers and veterans of MMO games and action RPGs. Black Desert has been successfully launched in over 150 countries, is available in 12 languages and has 20 million registered users. About Pearl Abyss Best known for the MMORPG franchise Black Desert, Pearl Abyss is a leading developer in the game industry. Established in 2010, Pearl Abyss has since developed Black Desert for PC, mobile and console. With all their games built on their proprietary engine, their games are renowned for their cutting-edge graphics. The company has three new projects in the works and is poised to continue its growth through 2019 and beyond to maintain its position as one of Asia’s leaders in game development. More information about Pearl Abyss is available at:

November 3, 2019

Magic Bricks

By Tessa

I played Magic brick for a couple of days and this is how it went.

This game is really straightforward you use fighters and bricks to protect your king and defeat your opponent. The bricks have special defenses like fire, ice and poison. They are shaped like Tetris blocks and the shapes pop up randomly so you ha e to be mindful of where you put them and how you arrange them. They regenerate after ten seconds. You tap and place them on your board as you go if you place them over one of your opponent’s fighters they become encased for a few seconds.

You get points and coins to build up your fighters and make them stronger. They regenerate after ten seconds and as far as I can tell there isn’t a limit of how many you can use in a match. There are four different types and I guess they do different things but it doesn’t really matter, as they all attack your opponent’s wall.

I wish the game had an option where you could build up your kingdom I love games like that and would probably find this game much more interesting. All the fighters look the same as your opponents you can’t customize them at all which is annoying to me. The game play is just placing bricks and adding fighters then watching said fighters cross the board. It’s kinda boring.

If the game let you customize things and build a kingdom or had a bit more to the fighting I’d give it a higher score. I did however win every match I played so there’s that.

I give this game a 4/10

October 29, 2019


By Elliot

Horrorfield is a multiplayer survival game released by Skytec Games. You, and three other “people” a term I would use very very loosely, run around a map and attempt to turn on five generators. Those generators will in turn allow you to escape through, what appears to be a garage door, that is powered by five generators. You’re trying to do this while a fifth “player” runs trying to capture the players to lock them up.

Gameplay is fun, at first. You begin with only one character unlocked and as you progress by playing you unlock more abilities for that character, as well as other playable characters. I say it is fun in the beginning, but progress is slow. As you unlock skills, or levels, they are all on a timer. You unlock the ability to create soda, but now you have to wait an hour before you have actually learned how to do so. For quick little matches here and there, this provides a big problem with gameplay. Unlock most characters is at random as well, which I’m fine with, but I just wanted to play as the fat professor Gary, or the foreign exchange schoolgirl Mary. Instead I got Phil, the old moron. You’re dead to me Phil.

Gameplay is fun, until you realize that winning as the rag tag group of misfits is hard. Really hard. So hard that I played for six days in a row and won less than ten times. Luckily, once you level high enough you can play as the monster. Again, that’s fun for a little while, but winning is really easy. Just by camping one of the handfuls of generators I would catch multiple people. Which leads me to believe that I was playing mostly against computers, and dumb ones at that.
You can listen to the episode to hear all the other things about gameplay that I’m skipping out on. The leveling system isn’t good, neither are the skill trees, that take forever, unless you want to use that premium currency. Another two currency game that really takes away from the fun. Or how if you get caught by the monster you have to sit and hope someone comes around to rescue you. And then heal you back up, or you’re still worthless.

It’s not that the gameplay isn’t fun, but stale after a few rounds. This is the type of game that would be best enjoyed in a room of five people all playing together. But changes need to be made as well. This is just too one sided of a game for the monster. This type of game has been done better, and it shows.

NBA now

NBA season is back and with it comes NBA Now a new free to play hoops game on your mobile phone.  What could go wrong?

The biggest NBA video game series, NBA 2k and its closest competitor in a distant second, NBA Live, both feature a My Team, and Ultimate Team mode respectively.  This mode is built around microtransactions. You use real money to buy packs of players to build a team around. To take online and play against other players and/or the AI.  While I don’t really have a problem with this mode, I always thought it just should have been a free to play game that anyone can download. Instead, you pay for the full priced game to play a mode that uses a free to play economy.  This to me is inexcusable. 

With that said, on your cell phone, you can now get NBA Now for free.  It released 10/22 the same day as the start of the 2019 NBA season. In NBA Now you pick your favorite team and you have access to their roster. This is very different than most NBA games F2P modes. Usually you get a couple packs of random players to fill out your team.  So if you wanted to play as Lebron, you would just have to get lucky or fork over some money. I picked the Bucks and was happy to see that All-Star player Giannis Antetokounmpo was available right away, granted these players are not as powerful as you would see in a standard NBA game mode. Therein lies the hook. To build your team up. Either through spending “dumbells” on training, or pulling better players from packs. You also get a free prospect pull every day.  A better star pull every 2 days, and another SUPERstar pull every 5 days. This is a good feature to keep you logging in to the game everyday hoping that your get a player you are ready to dump all your resources in to building. 

You are going to have to rely heavily on boosting stats, because you will not be able to make up for a weak team by just being good at the game.  I know most mobile games have to simplified controls to fit on a touch screen, but NBA Now took control largely out of your hands. 

First thing you do is pay season tickets to get in to the game.  These refresh fast enough, and I only expect the most avid players to run out before having to pay. When the game starts, it immediately simulates the first 3 quarters of the game, then you get to play the fourth quarter. So far I haven’t had it give me an unwinnable situation after the simulation. You can play against the computer or in PVP and I can’t prove this, but I suspect this ‘PVP’ pits you against other players teams, but they aren’t actually playing you.  My only real evidence is that you pick from a list of waiting players and the game just starts. There is no waiting for matchmaking. Again, this is just speculation but try it yourself and see.

I mentioned before the game takes control out of your hands, and I mean it. When the game starts there is no tip-off, again the first 3 quarters are simulated, and there is no tip off to start the 4th quarter.  You do not control the movement of your player, they move on their own. On offence there are three buttons on the screen. Shoot, Pass, and drive to the hoop. That’s it. No digital joypad to move your player around.  On defense it is even more sparse. With just a defend button, and a more aggressive defender button. You can’t control when to attempt a steal or a block. This game made me feel more like a coach yelling at my players hoping they would listen.  When you do shoot the ball, there is a meter that comes up that allows you to improve the chances of your shot being successful. That is the closest to a game this gets. I think if you come into this game as a management sim with light controls you might be happy, but largely I was expecting a better experience.  On a good note, the sound of the crowd is nice and loud and adds to the atmosphere. The graphics, while not great get the job done, but I found the framerate a little lacking on my Google Pixel 3a. Overall, I can’t recommend this. There are some nice ideas, and being able to have my starting team be the full starting 5 from the squad of my choice is real nice compared to other games. The gameplay is just non existent.  What a disappointment. 

Since being on Budget Arcade, I have had to play a lot of mobile games with Scott and Elliot.  I am by far the biggest skeptic of the three of us when it comes to gaming on the phone. I just don't like the lack of tactile controls.  That being said I have played some pretty good games that are able to deliver a good experience with the limited options of the touch screen interface. PubG, Call of Duty Mobile, and Mario Kart Tour to name a few.  I knew there had to be a better basketball experience on mobile than this. 

I downloaded NBA Live Mobile by EA Sports.  Now I know, EA doesn't have the best reputation.  But when I go into something like this, knowing that it is going to be heavy with microtransactions, and coming off of NBA Now, I am very open minded that good times could be had. 

First things first.  This is a video game.  You control your players.  You get to shoot the ball, pass, block, steal.  NBA Live Mobile, at its core, is a basketball video game.  So it’s already better than NBA Now. 

This is EA's ultimate team without having to buy a full priced game to play it. When you start the game you pick a team, but really you're just picking the jerseys your squad will be wearing. You'll open packs of cards to build your roster.

Once you have your team you can play with them in a season, or Showdown mode. Showdown is kind of a multiplayer mode.  You and your opponent play against AI controlled versions of each others teams. Then the total score from each game determines the winner.  It’s fine, but I would have prefered testing my skills against another player.

Season is where I spent most of my time. You play 14 games, then if you win 7 of those you move to the playoffs where you would play 4 single game rounds to win the championship.  The brevity of this season length is welcome. As you play games you win packs and gold to help improve your team. You also gain shards to unlock specific players. Even without spending money you are constantly getting new players and currency to use to build your team. Along with this, you also get free packs daily and weekly you get premier packs to get even better players.  You can also spend gold to get packs. I should also mention you slowly gain the premium currency for free while playing, something a lot of other free to play games do not allow.

When it’s time you play you spend 50 stamina per quarter of play (200 for a full game).  You accrue stamina over time, to bank up to 330, currently I have 655/330. I found this to generally be enough unless I played shorter skills modes or went on a long play session.  You can also get more than the 330 limit by leveling and accomplishing goals while playing. You can of course buy stamina recharges with real money, but I never felt like I needed to do that.  Should you run out of stamina mid game you can save, and complete the game later. This makes NBA Live Mobile perfectly suited for short play sessions as each quarter is just 2 and a half minutes. 

These are a lot other modes I haven’t been able to try, like joining leagues.  

When it comes to having a free NBA game on your phone NBA Live Mobile is miles better than NBA Now.  Live is my go to game on my phone for waiting rooms and toilet time. If your a basketball fan, I heartily recommend it. 

-Jeff (JQueasy)