Every Friday on our blog I’ll feature a game that’s doing something unique, innovative, and truly noteworthy. This isn’t just an app review; it’s an analytical look at a fresh game from the perspective of someone within the game industry. ~~~ One of the most interesting things that mobile has done is increase the cross-pollination of gaming genres. Some of the most popular titles on the platform have combined aspects of well-known games and turned them into something new and unique, not to mention highly profitable. Clash of Clans would be a perfectly average city-builder game if not for the multiplayer and attacking elements; Puzzles and Dragons leverages a Pokemon-style collectathon with a match-3 component replacing trainer battles; even Infinity Blade, one of mobile’s earliest mega-hits, combines an arcade-style fighting mechanic with an adventure RPG story. Mobile has avoided a single-genre takeover like we saw in Mario’s early days on Nintendo, because there have already been several different paradigm shifts, each one more massive than the last. This week I’ve been playing Cards and Castles, a collectable action card game that perfectly crosses genres, and wouldn’t be the same on any other platform. The first thing Cards and Castles does is crush the digital CCG aspect. I’ve played a number of collectable card games on various platforms, including the paper kind, and the biggest problem most of them has is valuing the cards properly. Cards and Castles gives you a generous starter deck and the ability to create seemingly unlimited additional decks from a decent sized pool of cards. You’re also provided enough Card Points (the game’s currency) to buy nearly two booster packs, and you earn points quickly enough to buy more after just a few matches. Even though you pick only one of the four factions (Crusaders, Pirates, Warlocks, and Vikings) to create your starter deck, you’re able to access and create multiple decks from each. The importance of this flexibility, and the attention to detail in Cards and Castles, can’t be overstated. This small tweak eliminates the buyer’s remorse of your initial uninformed decision, something that games too often take advantage of by either not letting you reverse your choice, or charging you handsomely to do so. Cards and Castles features a couple of my least favorite game mechanics, but another minor detail softened my view on their conformity to modern gaming trends. I can’t say I’ll stop playing a game entirely if it makes me create an account, but when it’s the first thing the game does, it rubs me the wrong way. Cards and Castles throws you into a winnable match - a tutorial with limited instructions (most of the game is pretty free form, with more info and help just a double-click away) - and only asks you to create a username, etc. when you’ve elected to start a battle against another real player. I emphasize the word “asks” because the game doesn’t require you to create an account - you’re welcome to play as a guest, even against other players.
If you choose not to create an account, your username is simply “you”, though you can’t be searched for by other users.
One Man Left’s Outwitters