Mobile Monday – Hana Samurai: Art of the Sword, Alien Breed, Pokémon Dream Radar, Panic!

by on November 26, 2012

You know what day it is? It’s Monday again and that can mean only one thing here at GodisaGeek: It’s time for another edition of Mobile Monday, the article where we take a look at four mobile games and let you know if they’re worth your time and money.

This week we’re taking a look at Hana Samurai: Art of the Sword from Grounding, Inc., Alien Breed from Team 17, Pokemon Dream Radar from Creatures, Inc. and Panic! from Thumbs Up and Green Hill Studio.

Read on to find the full reviews of each game, but don’t forget to come back next week for more Mobile Monday reviews. While you’re here, if you have played any of the games listed, or even just want to come back once you’ve had a go to let us know how you got on, we’d love to hear from you in the comment box at the bottom of the page.

Hana Samurai: Art of the Sword and Pokemon Dream Radar are available from the Nintendo 3DS’ eShop, Alien Breed and Panic! are available from the PlayStation Store.

Hana-Samurai-Art-of-the-Sword-IconHANA SAMURAI: ART OF THE SWORD by Sean Smith:

Although it is ostensibly a boxing game, Punch Out! has more in common with a rhythm action game. Don’t believe me? Try it out again. It is all about timing. You learn the patterns to avoid being sparked out by King Hippo, then use rhythmic button presses to repeatedly punch your opponent into oblivion. Hana Samurai takes the basic dodge and weave gameplay from Nintendo’s pugilistic mainstay and transports it to ancient Japan. It also swaps out a pair of boxing gloves for a sword, making this an altogether more violent proposition, despite the cherry blossom-imbued setting. This is a classy little game, which will provide about 4-5 hours of fun, in a package that looks terrific on the stereoscopic screen, with excellent presentation and some beautiful Japanese-style music.


Using an over the shoulder perspective, you take control of Sakura Samurai, on a quest to rescue a beautiful princess from the clutches of evil. You are introduced to the key gameplay elements in a tutorial headed up by a likeable kappa character. For the uninitiated, a kappa is a mythical amphibious water sprite from Japanese folklore, who players of the Katamari Damacy series will have rolled up on many an occasion, and nothing to do with the brand of sportswear beloved of the underclasses. You can move around freely, slice with your sword, dodge in multiple directions and use your sword to parry. Once you have practised on watermelons and the kappa himself, you are thrown into the action where you take on legions of differently equipped foes, including some very tough bosses, across a series of levels.

Gameplay rewards precision. An enemy will give you an indicator when they are about to unleash an attack and then it is up to you to recognise and interpret this signal to avoid being hit, then time your own attack accordingly. Perfectly timed dodges, parries and strikes will award precision points, which you can build up in a combo style, however, once you take a hit, have an attack blocked or are forced to parry the counter will be reset to zero. There is a compulsive nature to maintaining your precision points over the duration of a level, as if you finish a stage without cocking up then you can trade them in for precious scrilla in the villages you encounter on the world map. Your gold can then be used to buy items such as whetstones to sharpen your sword (which can become dull if over-used), throwing daggers, food to regain health or even upgrades to increase the effectiveness and power of your blade. Villages also contain precision-based minigames upon which you can have a bit of a flutter and earn even more dough. There are plenty of different challenges, but let’s just say that outside of Fruit Ninja, Hana Samurai offers the most melon-chopping action you will ever encounter in a game.

Alien-Breed-IconALIEN BREED by Mick Fraser:

I first began gaming around 1991, and fell instantly in love with a handful of what would now be regarded as classics. One of the most-fondly remembered titles of my fledgling gamer days was Alien Breed, a top-down shooter from one of the greatest developers of the era, Team 17.

After 22 years, the original game has been bundled together with the Special Edition and a handful of extra levels as a PlayStation Mobile release and, I’ve got to be completely honest, remains incredibly playable. Never the deepest, nor most intricate of games, Alien Breed is set in the distant future and sees Federation security officers Johnston and Stone investigating a distress call at a deep space research facility. Once there, they discover that the place is infested by a horde of alien beasts not entirely unlike James Cameron’s Xenomorph.

Split into small, labyrinthine levels, Alien Breed asks you to do nothing more taxing than shoot stuff until you find a boss / device to destroy, and then shoot more stuff really fast until you find the exit.


There’s not much of a storyline, but then there doesn’t need to be. Redesigned on the Vita as a twin-stick shooter, Alien Breed is even more accessible than it was back in the day. There’s something strangely hypnotic about mowing down charging aliens, picking up keys to open various doors and collecting credits with which to buy better guns, extra lives and equipment packs. It’s easy to wander down a dead end though, which is especially infuriating during the end-of-mission timed dash to the exit. Still, the sense of claustrophobia when you do get lost adds to the atmosphere.

The new HD skin is great, not altering the visuals hugely but smoothing out the textures and adding a heap of detail. Downloading Alien Breed will get you the original game, the extended special edition and a couple of 4-mission add-on packs and, as a collection, is well worth the price of admission.

Alien Breed is one of those games that players over a certain age will remember fondly. The recent episodic remake released onto Xbox LIVE was fun but flawed and, in hindsight, mostly pointless since the original is actually a better, more playable game. If you remember enjoying Alien Breed at all then you owe it to your inner child to download this title. If you’ve never played it, it’s definitely a classic that deserves a look.

Pokemon-Dream-Radar-IconPOKEMON DREAM RADAR by Sean Smith:

Pokémon Dream Radar is meant to be played as a companion piece to the recently released Pokémon Black & White Version 2 games. As much, as I have historically endeavored to “Catch ‘Em All”, I have to say that I have not had a chance to play this duo of Nintendo DS fun. But don’t worry, this Augmented Reality curiosity has more than enough going on to warrant my time, and is worth a look for anyone else who may be entering with some trepidation. Of course, if you are a proper Pokémon freak and are lucky enough to own the latest canonical games in the series, you are going to be made up with this kooky extra.

The story goes like this. You have been issued with a Dream Radar; another one of the seemingly endless Pokémon hunting devices that have been trotted out over the years. You are then tasked with using the Radar to seek out pocket monsters in a strange unknown dimension, which, for the purposes of this review turned out to be the kitchen of my council flat in Southampton. That’s right, you use the 3DS camera, like the Face Raiders game bundled with the machine, to seek out and capture Pokémon. Having a look around will reveal clouds floating around your environs, and it is your job to zap them using the A button in order to break them down and hopefully reveal a Pokémon hiding within. If you are lucky enough to uncover one of the little blighters, they appear as a flashing ball of light which will frantically move around your screen. Ensuring that you keep your crosshair trained on it, repeatedly pressing A should hopefully lead to a successful capture. You may be lucky enough along the way to find a Legendary Pokémon, in which case, rather than chasing the jiggly orb, you get to fire lasers and stuff at the actual monster itself. Yeh!


Catching Pokémon orbs allows you to purchase upgrades and power-up items between levels, such as increasing the durability of your capture beam, which conks out if you over-use it. You can also transfer any Pokémon you capture across to the Pokémon Black & White 2 game. Realising that this could potentially be a very easy way of leveling up in the main games, Nintendo have wisely limited how often you can play the game by having a time period for the Pokémon-containing clouds to be regenerated after a play session. You can negate this by purchasing or earning Play Coins which can be used to repopulate your kitchen/living room etc with more funky AR clouds.

As an extra to the grown up Pokémon titles, this is a boon, it gives a fun and diverting way to earn rewards for the game, even if the whole Play Coin thing will seem a bit cynical to some. As a standalone game it is worth a look to see what a grand job they have done with the AR functionality of the console, and for the fact that it builds on the undeniably fun promise of Face Raiders and other limited AR/camera based titles (the periscope sections of Steel Diver, for one).

Panic-IconPANIC! by Mick Fraser:

Panic! is a puzzle game that sees you defending the citizens of a small town from a gigantic green blob that’s covering everything in destructive goo. You do this by placing obstacles in the way of the oozing menace, and redirecting its flow around stranded citizens.

Buildings can be knocked down with a touch of your fingertip to block the goo flow and funnel it, and a second touch removes them completely, opening the way. The element of panic to which the title pertains comes from the fact that as the goo moves down the screen, all while the screen itself moves, so every action you perform is against the clock. Fail to rescue a certain number of people, and the level is must be restarted.


Panic!, like a lot of mobile puzzle games, treads a very fine line between challenging and frustrating. The layout of each stage means that the solution is never obvious, but the speed of the advancing slime leaves you little thinking time. As a result, most levels become trial-and-error slogs wherein you find the solution eventually through dumb luck rather than grand design. Unfortunately, it’s also more than a little repetitive. Despite there being several locations to unlock, the gameplay remains much the same throughout, and there’s little satisfaction to be had despite the level of challenge. Frankly, if you can get through three stages in a row without muting the sound effects you’re a stronger person than I.

The premise is a little too simple to capture your imagination, the cartoony graphics only of so-so quality and the sound effects horrendously irritating. However, for a five-minutes-at-a-time challenge or for those who favour quick, lateral-thinking puzzles, Panic! is a fairly decent download; though be aware that the vertical layout is far better suited to a mobile device than the Vita.