Strap on your kitty ears, and save the world.

 

With every computer with any kind of muscle around here spending most of its life crunching h.264, I haven’t done a whole lot of gaming.

Well, I did have a good friend over for a day of blowing up mutant bugs in Earth Defense Force 2 : Some Subtitle Here the other weekend which was a welcome break.  More on that later as it’s a game that deserves its own post.

But anyway, with the computers under heavy load, I recently turned back to the iPad to give me something to play, co-incidentally just as Gamevil was releasing Arel Wars II, apparently the sequel to a well-received iOS and Android game and oddly reminiscent of something from rather farther back in my gaming history.

Back in the mid-1980s, I used to be quite a fan of an Apple ][ strategy/action hybrid game called Rescue Raiders.  The basic principle behind the game was that you had a base, and a helicopter, and you were facing off against an enemy base, which also had a helicopter, and you and your opponent both built various kinds of ground units that would move towards the enemy base with the intention of destroying it, fighting anything they encountered on the way, while you and your helicopter counterpart did your best to blow up the opposing ground units / attack the opposing helicopter.

Come to think of it, Rescue Raiders really was the prototype for the modern MOBA.  One single highly mobile unit, lots of little minion units and an objective to destroy the enemy base.

It looked something like this:

 

Arel Wars 2 looks rather more like this:

 

You will note that some of my units are kitties in fezes.  You will further note that this is totally AWESOME.

 

Arel Wars 2, of course, isn’t so much MOBA as a two-lane SOBA, and I don’t know if that’s a generally accepted acronym or not but sadly the O in SOBA makes some sense as the game DOES require you to be online and connected constantly to play, presumably to keep you honest and prevent you from hacking yourself a mess of in-game currency.

More on that in a moment.

One advantage of Arel Wars 2 over its primitive predecessor, of course, is that you are controlling a busty catgirl instead of a faceless and impersonal helicopter, and that you have a compatriot named Tigger.

 

I had originally intended to title this post “Strap on your kitty ears, and save the hundred acre wood”, but then I would have gotten sidetracked trying to draw analogies between all of your units and the various Winnie the Pooh characters and I can’t remember the name of the damned neurotic bunny.

Ahem.

Setting Flora and Tigger aside, there are in fact other playable characters:

 

…yeah, but who cares about them?

You’re not confined to kitty ears, mind you.  As you progress through the single player game, you unlock and can purchase several different outfits.  Here are three, including the starter outfit:

Do I NEED to point out that your character has a “bounce” animation that’s pretty much going on constantly?

Anyway, to get back to something I alluded at earlier:  This game is “free” in only the very vaguest sense of the world.  It’s really a game that is going to set you back at least five bucks if you care at ALL about playing through the single player, because it is a seriously nasty game.

The game uses two currencies – “gold”, earned through finishing levels and “jewels” which are bought from the cash shop or, supposedly, handed out in PvP.  I haven’t seen any evidence of that last one yet, I’ve played four PvP matches without getting any.

Gold comes pretty quickly.  One serious advantage of Arel Wars 2 over your average MOBA is that a level will usually take 2 or 3 minutes to win or lose.  Since you get gold and experience at the end of each level, you can actually progress without really feeling like you’re grinding.  This has saved me from dropping any money in the store yet.

Why would you want to?  Well, jewels are the currency used to do stuff like, oh, let you have 8 units to pick from instead of 4, or to buy premium units.  These are pretty huge things.  I’m getting stomped right now because I simply can’t counter everything the AI throws at me, so I’m having to replay levels until, oh, it stops sending out flyers because I really don’t have room in my button bar for any good anti-flyer units.

There are 120 levels, and I’ve put 10 hours into the game so far just getting to level 34.

I’m holding out through the weekend.  Gamevil is hanging out jewels for “liking” their facebook page on Monday, and I’m hoping to get enough to afford just a little bit of an edge.

I feel weird recommending such a blatant IAP cash-grab, but Arel Wars 2 has been terribly, terribly addictive and pushed a nostalgia button I didn’t even remember I had.  It’s worth downloading to give a go.

You could even try one of the other characters.  Let me know how they play, will you?

 

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