Recently, I got my fill of Angry Birds Rio, so much that I even unlocked all twenty Achievements in it, and so I happily removed it from my Windows 8 phone feeling pretty satisfied with the experience. Which is not at all how I felt about Temple Run 2, since it glitched out and wouldn’t let me unlock the last Achievement despite meeting its requirement on many runs, as well as Microsoft Mahjong, also glitched to the point where I’ll no longer be able to earn 20 medals despite totally being able to. It seems like many games for Microsoft’s Windows 8 phones are less than stellar in the quality assurance section, but since the majority of them are all free, it is hard to grumble too loudly. Anyways, I downloaded two more recently, Throne Together and Hungry Shark Evolution, and I’m here to talk about the former first. Sorry, shark fans.
Well, once again, I couldn’t come up with a clever blog title for Throne Together, and so I went the straightforward route of simply describing exactly what it is: a block-based puzzle game about building castles. So far, after doing five to six puzzles, that premise has remained true and untouched, and so the diversity revolves around what kind of castles you need to build, the pieces you use to build them, how fast you move, and other level-specific challenges. Seems like there is a “lives” system similar to Hexic, wherein you get five chances to not fail and can keep playing until you run out of lives, with them regenerating over real-life time. Oh boy. Definitely not my favorite aspect of free-to-play medium, as I just want to play when I want and for how long I want, but I wonder then if people would just burn through everything super fast and move on to the next shiny item before even contemplating the thought of spending real money to buy a boost or extra slew of blocks. Me, no, I’ll never do that.
I’m no professional castle builder–though I always did make LEGO houses full of booby traps as a kid–but neither is Microsoft. Here’s how it works. Basically, you are shown a crown floating in the air (or sometimes multiple crowns), and you have to construct a castle that will touch these, all either under a time limit or specific number of block pieces used. You also have to factor in that the castle has to be stable, that constructing a long, narrow structure might sway and fall or too much heavy weight on top could crack the foundation and bring everything tumbling down. You can counter this by place additional pieces next to the parts cracking, but only for so long. So far, it’s all been fairly easy to figure out, but I can see future levels as getting very tricky, especially depending on where the crowns are positioned. Additional challenges, like building over a river, are also tossed at you.
I’ve only quickly touch upon the Achievements for Throne Together, which certainly look grinding and some require you to pester your friends, which I won’t do, but what really gets me down is that all the icons are the same: a red throne on a blue background. C’mon, we’re no longer living in the medieval times of Achievements (2007-2008). We can get more creative than this.
Right. I’ve run into a problem that I’m surprised has not popped up on other Windows 8 phone games yet. When moving pieces around with my pointer finger, it is difficult to see the screen and pinpoint where exactly to place them. Maybe I have fat fingers or maybe I don’t. I’ve had to rely on the Tetris way, lining up where I want the piece to fall and then watching it trickle down slowly on its own. During untimed missions, this is fine, but when I need to complete a castle in under X number of seconds, this will not work. The problem is that the castle block pieces are smaller than the end of my fingertip to begin with, so when I touch the screen, I can’t even see what I’m manipulating. You’ll probably hear me complain about this again later in Hungry Shark Evolution.
Anyways, not sure how many levels in total there are here, but I stopped at 16, which is one or two after you learn about blueprints and how building them while trying to build a castle can add extra bonus points to your ultimate score and help you on your path to a three stars rating. There’s no story to follow here, just instructions from a nameless castle inspector, and that’s fine because, while it worked in a cutesy way for Hexic, I just can’t see it adding anything here. The meat of the game are the levels themselves and figuring out the best way to build a castle. I’ll keep at it for a bit, but if the later levels prove too challenging I don’t think I’ll feel too bad abandoning this one. It definitely doesn’t have its hooks in me despite my love for castle structures. While this is absolutely a game of thrones, it is also no Game of Thrones.