Hands-On with Konami’s Upcoming Games

I recently spent some time touring Konami’s upcoming slate of mobile games. There were a wide cross-section of games across multiple genres. That said, all of them had one thing in common: They will all will be launched with a free-to-play model. Hate it or love it, this is the new normal and Konami’s showing proves this new normal can be exciting based on it’s Summer 2013 lineup.

Casino League Texas Hold ‘Em

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Casino League is Konami’s effort to tap into the world’s affinity for the most popular card game around, Texas Hold ‘Em poker. This game is all about testing your skills against other real opponents, just how it should be. Poker is a crowded space on mobile already, but there are a few design decisions that could work in its favor.

Casino League sets a player cap of four people at each table to reflect the reality of mobile play scenarios and to increase tension from every hand. Additionally challenge events are built in to earn online status amongst the community. You can also compete in real live tournaments and create teams to battle in Player’s Club. Obviously network performance is going to play a major role in how big Casino League can get, but the game has a solid interface that’s adequately suited for mobile.

Casino League is in development for iOS, Android, and Amazon Kindle.

MLB Live Challenge

For all the sports heads out there, MLB Live Challenge is Konami’s version of the popular Ultimate Team modes from EA’s FIFA and Madden franchises. The premise is simple: You’re a GM looking to put together the best possible team to compete against other teams. You pick up players through card packs, and it’s all about managing your talent and crafting your card decks to field your best possible team.

As a fully licensed game, MLB Live Challenge has real players from all 30 MLB teams to play with. Team management is the name of the game as there’s no real-time gameplay outside of randomized key moments. Another interesting piece to MLB Live Challenge is its cross-platform action between iOS and Facebook. If the interplay is relatively smooth, it’s not hard to envision an active community for this free-to-play sports game.

Slot Revolution

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The most intriguing game of the bunch on Konami’s E3 booth tour was Slot Revolution. This RPG is powered by slot machines. Confused? I was too until the game was in my hands. Everything is based on pulls of the slot machine, so navigating dungeons, launching attacks, casting spells, and even getting attacked are determined by where the wheels stop.

While randomization is a fundamental piece of the RPG experience, I couldn’t help but wonder if the slot mechanic diminishes skill-based gameplay. I’ll need more time with this game to see how character interaction, story, and leveling up are handled, but it’s nice to see Konami trying something off the beaten path. Soon enough, we will see if the execution is on point. Slot Revolution is slated to include cross-platform play on iOS, Android, and Kindle.

Domo Jump

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Domo Jump features Japan’s lovable furball creature known for his beady eyes and sharp teeth. In the tradition of Doodle Jump, Domo Jump is an endless jumper set in a bubbly manga-inspired universe. As a game fully modeled in smooth and contrasty 3D, Domo pops off the screen.

Controlling Domo’s ascent with tilt controls felt great, and I noticed there are tons of objects to grab and goals to achieve. With multiple stages, unlockable costumes, and power-boosts to explore, Domo Jump appears primed and ready for its summer 2013 debut, exclusively on iOS.

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