Tag: free to play

Bingo Story presents The Price Is Right: Stuck in Contestants’ Row.

I’ve been struggling to find motivation to play new games lately. I’ve gotten a bunch of games thanks to them being on deep discount, but then I don’t play them and just default to playing Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War instead. However, I did finish Battleborn before its shutdown for a recent blog post, and I did finish Wolfenstein: Youngblood with friend of the site Bobinator from Hardcore Gaming 101 less than a few weeks ago. But trying something new is a bit harder for me lately, more so than normal. This is due to motivation and several outside factors.

Yet during this time, I somehow got roped into playing a free-to-play mobile game for the first time in probably years. Only because it had a game show themed event to it. And anything that combines game shows with video games just piques my interest instantly, so I couldn’t resist trying it.

Well, I will say that developer Clipwire Games clearly didn’t half-ass this art wise.

Starting in February, the free-to-play mobile game Bingo Story got probably one of the most unexpected crossovers yet: A two month long event featuring the popular game show The Price Is Right – one of my favorites, whether we’re talking about the current version, or classic 1980s episodes thanks to The Price Is Right: The Barker Era on Pluto TV – with one of the more unusual crossovers I’ve seen yet. And I played Cookie Jam, a Candy Crush clone that had cross-promotion with Wheel of Fortune late last year for a blog post that didn’t go anywhere.

I don’t think I really need to explain bingo, but it is a fairly simple game: Balls numbered 1-75 will be called one at a time and your job will be to mark the balls called on your card and eventually get a bingo – often times just five across in any direction horizontally, vertically or diagonally; getting the corners of a card, or covering the entire board – a blackout. First to do so wins and gets a prize. At least this is how it is in the United States, it may vary in other countries.

It’s mostly associated as something usually elderly people play, but it is a game that’s somewhat entertaining for all ages if you wanted to play something simple for a little bit. It was definitely something my mother’s family were into, as I was roped into bingo halls many a time while vacationing in Seattle.

While I can’t say I’m a bingo fan, I am fascinated by things related to bingo, including game shows like Lingo, and video games that use bingo elements such as Slingo. So wanting to capitalize on the bizarre nature of this event, naturally I had to try this.

Yeah, this feels like a modern mobile game alright.

I was wondering how the heck Bingo Story was going to incorporate one of the longest-running daytime game shows into a bingo mold, and the answer seems to be “put in the most basic of effort while also doing some relative deep cuts.” Let’s Come On Down and see what’s the next item up for bids, shall we?

This article was originally up on Patreon one week early. If you wish to see this article before everyone else, you can pledge to my Patreon here. How much does it cost to see it early? One Dollar, Bob.

A normal session of Bingo Story in action. Hope this isn’t too convoluted.

Bingo Story plays differently compared to conventional bingo: You’re playing by yourself, and you’re given 30 balls to daub on your marker to make as many bingos as you can. After marking a few numbers on the card, you can activate a powerup that vary from auto-daubing random numbers on your card, to doubling your overall score, to other event-related items. Once all 30 balls have been called, you have the opportunity to stop and take your final score, or spend bingo tokens to call 5 more balls, repeating until you run out of tokens or blackout both cards.

Once done, your score is added to a leaderboard where you can get rewards at the end of the event – usually lasting no more than a few days – where you’ll get rewards like more powerups, various amounts of currency, stuff like that. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Ironically, despite being called Bingo Story, there is no story mode to this game whatsoever, the “Story” refers to the game’s motif of using storybook characters to prop up the game’s style. Admittedly I was disappointed finding this out at first, but I learned to get used to the fairy tale motif the game normally has.

Overkill 3: The long-awaited continuation through the Windows Store.

About a year or so back, I wrote about Modern Combat 5. I did so because I had jumped from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and never got to experience the Microsoft Store ecosystem.

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One of the games I had downloaded, Sniper Fury, weren’t really worth talking about all that much. Just felt like Modern Combat 5 but more like a rail shooter.

I was going to do a series based on Windows 8-10 apps, but I got sidetracked by other things. The other games I had installed had either gotten super grindy to make progress unless I paid, or in the case of Asphalt 8: Airborne, that they are such a daily ritual for me that I’m still grinding to get that last achievement to this day. The only other games that could be interesting to write about are too well-known like the Killer Instinct reboot.

But there was one more game I had installed, and until recently, never tried. Then I tried it, and thoroughly regretted playing it.

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STERN MILITARY FACE RETURNS

Overkill 3 is the third installment in a modestly popular franchise originally released on mobile platforms. Co-developed by Spanish developer Game Troopers and Czech developer Craneballs – props for the goofiest developer names I’ve seen yet, this is the first game available on the Windows platform.

From what I’ve seen of screenshots from the previous titles, Overkill 3 takes a mild curveball in terms of how it plays. The previous titles were first person rail shooters, and while Overkill 3 still plays like one, we actually get to move to third person, over-the-shoulder rail shooting. So it’s a bit of both a rail shooter like its predecessors and a cover shooter like other games out there. At least they’re spicing things up.

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Here’s our resident shootyguy who must kill the evil big bads from… doing the bad things. Honestly I couldn’t tell you much else.

There is a plot to the gmae, but it’s so razor-thin that there’s no reason to pay attention to it. You play as John Scully, a military soldier who goes from various places around the world fighting off big bads that vary from generic soldiers to outright mechs. There is no principal villain, just Scully going from place to place, hiding behind cover, and shooting dudes repeatedly. Scully also wins the award for the most ridiculous protagonist hairdo I’ve seen this side of Soap MacTavish, which is something.

Each mission has Scully shooting enemies, and completing certain tasks. Some are simple: Finish the mission, complete the “slide the screen” quick time events, don’t die. Others are fairly grindy, like killing x number of enemies, or staying in a stage for a period of time. Completing challenges gets a star and some cash or medals that can be used to upgrade or buy new things.

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How cute, I could get the Aliens pulse rifle if I get some more premium currency. Bet it doesn’t have the sound effects.

Overkill 3 hits this weird territory of being tonally inconsistent with the world and its plot at times. While there are human soldiers who wield real guns like an AK-47, a Desert Eagle, and a Barrett .50 cal, there’s also futuristic space guns, even ones like the pulse rifle from Aliens, and… stuff like a giant mech robot with a minigun.

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Johnny 5 is alive! …and he’s fuckin’ PISSED!

It’s like the team wasn’t sure if they wanted to stick to being a modern military game, or saw what Call of Duty was doing at the time and thought future warfare was The In Thing; so they decided to go with both. I assume the previous games were mostly grounded in reality, but since they were on iOS I can’t really confirm.

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Since this is a freemium mobile app, they’re gonna barrage you with packs for real money to get you to invest in their ecosystem. Thankfully I didn’t spend any money.

So you probably read “buy new things” and asked, “This is a freemium game, isn’t it?” You’d be right. To get certain weapons and armor, you need to have the right amount of credits and medals. Credits can be acquired by just doing missions, but medals require either leveling up, completing specific challenges, etc. Of course, you could just buy your way to victory, but I do not encourage this because this game really doesn’t deserve any money.

There was a point where every time I started playing Overkill 3, that there was a glimmer of hope, that there might be something good. As I progressed, there were missions that became so annoying and remotely unfair in spots that I must’ve tried and retried a dozen times, and that’s even when given the opportunity to revive just by watching an ad. I basically was grinding myself down in a vague attempt to make some progress, and it certainly wasn’t fun.

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I can’t tell which of these is worse, the sticker with the ableist language or the “JOIN ARMY | KILL PEOPLE” sticker…

It doesn’t help that even while in cover, Scully was still taking damage. Sitting there, not firing, having him nag at me for not doing anything, and he would still take chip damage. At one point, I had just finished off the last enemy – a mech robot shooting rockets at cover – and took just enough damage to die, thus denying me the reward for finishing the level, having to start over.

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This seems more in line with the other games in the series, just being a gun that shoots everything in front of them.

I could upgrade my armor, but I also hit that wall where I needed medals, and I didn’t have enough of those. I could get a better, more powerful gun, but those cost a lot of credits and require lots of grinding. I could upgrade my weapons or buy grenades or rocket raids, but eventually those cost medals as well. And if I use medals, I then can’t get certain weapons or armor unless I grind or spend money to get them. Lather, rinse, repeat.

There is a reason there’s a fair share of disdain among people who play these kind of free-to-play games and hit the brick wall of being stuck unless they’re willing to do the grind or give up and pay their way to make progress. For Overkill 3, the gameplay loop is so rote that it just wasn’t fun.

I was willing to put up with the paper-thin story, the wonky controls that were made more for a tablet touchscreen and not a common mouse and keyboard PC, hell, I was even willing to play the endless mode to get some extra cash. But I just got sick of it, and realized there were many other, better games I could be playing instead.

This mission in and of itself took a dozen tries, mostly because I went from full health and armor to zero in a matter of seconds. This game ramps up the difficulty unfairly.

I hate leaving games unfinished, but if the goal to completion is “grind or pay up,” I tend to abandon it without much of a second thought. Unless it’s a game I really find enjoyment in, like Asphalt 8, I can’t stick with it. I gave up roughly around the halfway mark, and feel no urge to come back to it, because I know even if I returned to it, all the elements of the grind would rear its ugly head once more, and I’d get sick of it again. So I abandoned it, and moved on to something else.

Even though this is a mobile game ported over to Windows, this is not where the legacy of Overkill 3 ends. Game Troopers moved on from the crowded mobile game market to the not-nearly-as-crowded virtual reality market. For the low low price of $20 — VR headset sold separately — you can play Overkill VR, which is this exact same game in Virtual Reality! At least it probably doesn’t have scummy microtransactions to slow down progress.

Let’s make tap to high-five the new “Press F to pay respects.”

There is one thing I do appreciate about Overkill 3, though: Sometimes Scully will ask you to do a high-five upon completing a mission. I’m not even bothered by the fourth-wall breaking moment, it’s just so goofy that I’m always amused when it happened, no matter what.

I will always appreciate games from countries you won’t expect to have a burgeoning games industry. Hell, I wrote fair praise about Chaser a few years ago, a game by a Slovakian game development studio. It’s just not a good game. If they were to release an Overkill 4, I’ll be okay with skipping that, if this game is any indication. At best, Game Troopers and Craneballs deserve a gold star for trying and not much else.