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September 22, 2013

Cavemania Review

BonusXP have just released their latest mobile game on iOS and Android – Cavemania! The game is published by Yodo1, the same partner Robot Entertainment used to publish Hero Academy in China. Cavemania is a “Match 3” game, this means the core concept is similar to games like Bejeweled where you much like colours to score points. In Cavemania you match resources like food, wood, gold and stone. A nod to Age of Empires! However, Cavemania is about a whole lot more than just matching like tiles, taking that Age of Empires likeness further there is a whole lot of strategy involved that really sets this game apart.


So the question you might be asking yourself – How do we get Age of Empires like strategy in a mobile game, and at that, a match 3 game? Well  that would be a good question. BonusXP have pulled it off really well. The game starts off with the typical match 3 game play, but soon after levels will ask you to battle against enemies such as sabretooths that move across the board to try and take you out, but also players will be tasked with collecting certain materials in order to build structures like granaries, quarries and lumber camps whilst at the same time defending them from the enemies. This is where the strategy comes into play. With Age of Empires you must collect materials to build up your defence and attack your enemies. This is just how Cavemania works, just in match 3 style. To add more to the mix each level has a certain number of moves a player is allowed to make before it is game over. Players must find the most effective way of completing each level in the least amount of turns to get the best score.

There are tons and tons of different level types and combinations. Sometimes players will be on the offense, sometimes on the defense. There are other objectives too such as trying to clear out certain parts of the map by making match 3 moves in certain squares. There are so many levels, absolutely tons of content. The Chieften is the face of the game but there are many characters players can choose to bring onto the board including warriors, villagers, healers, archers and more. Each character having their unique properties and strategy, players need choose carefully as to which types of character may best for certain levels.

The level scoring system is on a one star, two star, and three star basis plus an overall numerical score. BonusXP engages players socially by showing their friends scores for each level to encourage competition and this works very well. Players can sign into the game with their Facebook credentials too which promotes ease of sharing high scores to Facebook.

Beaten by BigDog!

Graphics and Sound

Cavemania is a pleasure to play, with excellent graphics and 3d models for the characters. The design of the resources on the map and the colours used makes everything easily identifiable. A bright colour pallette really helps the overall pleasant feel. The sound is good and works well supporting the visuals queues. Cavemania takes forward Ensemble legacy, a brightly coloured and very appealable colour pallette.

Upgrades and purchases

Cavemania is free to play and much like BonusXP’s previous game, Monster Crew, it has its own upgrade system and in-game purchasing. As players complete levels they earn gold which can be used to purchase upgrades. These upgrades in the form of weapons and defensive items for characters but also vanity items such as new hairstyles and colours. Gold is earned by playing but they can also be earned via real money via in-app purchases. This is a fairly standard affair and typical business model. Players can purchase gold such as 30,000 gold for £1.21. There are lots of different coin packs all the way up to 200,000 gold for £6.22. The pricing for the upper gold packs is very good, but it might of been nice to have a sub £1 gold pack for the lowest gold denominator.

There are other things that can be bought with real money. One off consumable items like meteor shows that stun enemies or heal packs that heal characters on the board. These can come in handy for those tricky levels. They are little on the pricey side, with a single use meteor shower priced at £1.21 for instance. Cavemania also lets players purchase permanent upgrades for fixed cost, such as boosting lives up to 6, permanently for £3.15. These can be a well worthwhile investment and gives players alot of choice. Its nice to see a good array of different upgrade paths.

In conclusion

Taking everything into account one can only conclude that Cavemania is another fantastic game from the creative minds at BonusXP. They have certainly taken their time with this game to produce a very polished and deep experience. Their hard work has certainly paid off, Cavemania is full of tons of content, tons of possibilities and tons of strategy. This is certainly a game that will keep thumbs busy for a long time and the changing objectives between levels keeps people engaged and keeps things fresh and exciting. Its certainly amazing how Bonus have managed to capture the Age of Empires spirit into a mobile game and I encourage all Ensemble fans to check it out on their iOS and Android devices. The game is free to play so you have nothing to lose, infact you have everything to gain! Cavemania is tons of fun. Go check it out now!

If I were to score it out of 5, it would definitely be a 5!

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