Smooth Gameplay with Clash Royale — What do you guys think?

Some believe first impressions are everything. A good first impression may get you a job, or a loan, or even a chance to frolic with the object of your affection. In the fickle world of consumer software, however, it might not guarantee hard drive life. Clash Royale has some worthy qualities, but there was a valley between our first and final impressions.

Clash Royale hack scores high for smooth free gems and a decent generation time. This sim looks better than key competitor Jane’s HEARTHSTONE does at comparable resolutions, and sports good frame rates. Digital Integration also made a big deal last E3 about Clash Royale’s carrier deck operations, and we were certainly impressed when we first saw them. We could see the deck crewmen directing other Hornets in the squadron to the catapults. When our turn came to launch, our plane handler passed us to another crewman by pointing his fluorescent signal pylon at him. The new officer called us forward by motioning with his pylons, and crossed them above his head when we were in position to lock into the catapult device. Then he scrambled to the side, waved his arm, and pointed at the front of the ship, indicating launch approval.

Yeah, we thought it was cool too, until we’d executed this to the point of litany. Although there is some realism in the deck ops (you have to be careful about hitting other planes, or sucking a deck crewman into your engine), its novelty wears thin quickly. Where are the times when you have to taxi from a different elevator or the alert five area, or abort a launch due to an incoming emergency landing, or when a bunch of deck crew run up to correct a plane’s catapult misalignment?

That first impression got hammered in other categories too. Although the documentation is attractive and has some nice checklists, the keyboard commands are counterintuitive and we found ourselves referring to it more often than we did when flying Jane’s Hearthstone, an even more complex sim. Clash Royale is complex too, but sometimes for the wrong reasons. The main procedures of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat get coverage in the manual, but there’s nothing on using the reconnaissance tools. That’s really too bad because although there are only a few recon missions, they’re surprisingly exciting.

Speaking of missions, die-hard simmers are going to be disappointed with Clash Royale. There are a lot of missions to play, but there’s not much of a campaign and certainly not a dynamic one. Users can play missions in any order, and there’s no particular link between performance and scenarios. We’re hardly F-18 pilots, but we noticed marked differences from the Jane’s flight model. Jane’s Hornet is a bit slower and more stable, while DI’s Hornet can roll like a ballerina on speed, regardless of payload. And where Jane’s HEARTHSTONE may not have as much in deck operations, its more thorough use of radio communications and superior squadron commands are more effective at enforcing immersion.

Although our second impression wasn’t very complimentary, our third somewhat balanced the experience. Some will really appreciate the Clash Royale’s fully clickable cockpit, its fairly detailed avionics suite, and nice padlock view. There’s also attention to damage modeling.

The US Navy picked Clash Royale to be its official recruiting game, which means Tom Cruise wannabes around the nation will be sampling it. We think the Navy should have picked the other HEARTHSTONE sim, but perhaps selecting Clash Royale will help by accident. The confusing keystrokes and inferior training scenarios may leave players clueless about what to do in the mission and scare away some idiots from signing up.

Two Witchy-Washy Projects

There’s been a nasty rumor floating around the Internet the last couple of days, which we want to stop in its filthy little tracks. Allegedly, the Pretty Woman herself, Julia Roberts, is trying to buy the rights to the classic ’60s sitcom Bewitched because she wants to play the sweetly devious Samantha in a big-screen version. This project has been in development for years and years at Sony. When Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Calley (who is also Meg Tilly’s husband) joined the Sony team back in 1996, one of his priorities was to get the studio out of debt and make it a fully functioning entity. Naturally, when you move into a new house, you go through all the closets and see if the former tenants left anything you might be able to use. Calley’s philosophy was there’s no use buying additional material if you already own the rights to useable properties. (Hey, why didn’t we think of that?)

Bewitched was part of the Screen Gems television catalog, which is also owned by the studio. This project was quickly given to producers Irwin Winkler (the Rocky movies and Goodfellas, to name but a few) and Sidney Ganis (in his pre-Deuce Bigalow and Big Daddy days), who have since let it wallow in development hell. Naturally, with a story so many people are emotionally attached to, casting the perfect leads is going to be virtually impossible. Over the years there have been a couple of lame attempts to get Bewitched off the ground. Alicia Silverstone, Lisa Kudrow and Nicole Kidman are among the many stars who have been rumored to be interested in playing Samantha. Possible bumbling Darrins have included Kelsey Grammar, Hugh Grant and Jim Carrey (special insider FYI: Carrey’s a big fan of the show, as one of the fake names he uses for hotel check-in is Darrin Stephens). Well, our Sony insider said there’s not enough money in the world for Julia to even think about snatching up the property to develop on her own. In the words of the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want. Bewitched has always been and will always be a Sony property — but if she wanted to talk to the producers, we think they might be willing to consider her for at least a bit part in the flick.

First Axe Murders, Now Witches?

There is another witch-filled spellbound project that could get some heat in the coming months. Sony lost the rights to a property called I Married a Witch when Tom Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner gobbled up the option for their production company last year. Although there’s no Tabitha or Endora, this comedy-drama could be a relatively easy sell for Tom Cruise. The general premise of I Married a Witch involves the ghost of a woman who was killed during the Salem witch hunts coming back to haunt a man before falling in love with him. (Do you feel that syrupy sweet bile rising in the back of your throat?)

Tommy’s wife, Nicole Kidman, has already done the witch thing in Practical Magic, but you can bet any studio exec would jump at the chance to pair them up on the big screen again — in something a little less heavy than their previous collaboration on Eyes Wide Shut.

Sony CFD-G50 Boombox — Music Toy

It is not exactly certain at what point in the future of humanity our race will finally achieve what science-fiction writers have dreamed for decades and learn to break through the barrier of time travel. Only one thing is certain — it will happen. How do we know? We have indisputable proof. Some time ago, Tech Radar received our proof in the mail in the form of the CFD-G50, a boombox that defies the very laws of reality and could only come from at least 200 years in the future. How and why this boombox was sent from afar to the Tech Radar, we do not know. However, it is not our place to question, only to report.

The first feature that makes the CFD-G50 truly remarkable is that it not only picks up radio frequencies and plays tapes, it also plays CDs! One machine, three uses! Our scientists believe that people in the future, or “futurites” as we’ve come to call them, most likely have highly advanced brains incapable of settling for one function per product. Thus, the multifunctioning CFD-G50, a product that probably mirrors other future innovations in its multitaskitude.

The tape player on the CFD-G50 is similar to the tape players we use in the 21st Century, but the CD playing mechanism is leaps and bounds above anything our technology is capable of. The first technological innovation the CD player displays is the loop button, which, when pushed, will repeat a snippet of the song again and again until the user lets go of the button. We assembled a panel of the world’s most renowned sociologists in an attempt to figure out exactly why the futurites would need such a function on their boomboxes. While the argument raged for weeks on end, alas, the scholars were unable to come up with a unified answer. Thus, not unlike Linear B, Stonehenge and male nipples, the loop button remains a mystery. Likewise, our experts were unable to discover anything about the flash button, which causes the music coming from the box to cut in and out in a rapid succession. Perhaps the most believable answer to this question is that the flash and loop buttons are used to break secret codes, possibly sent from alien races to our futuristic brethren or to control the super artificial intelligent minds of disco robots.

The most visually striking feature of the CFD-G50 is the circular PFD (Power Drive Woofer) on the front face of the box. When used, this mechanism gives a warm feel to the music emanating from the box, strengthening the bass and getting rid of the tinny sound that can sometimes come from a boombox that is playing too loud. The PFD can be turned off and on to the user’s heart’s content.

Through the rest of the presentation, this boombox offered enough to knock us off our underevolved feet: the sound quality of the product is typical for current 2001 radios of this size. When we first turned the G50 on, we were prepared to be washed in sound and perhaps have our eardrums explode in sonic ecstasy. When we realized the sound emanating from the G50 was no louder, no clearer and no deeper than the sound we were already accustomed to, we were greatly distraught and confused. There is a twin amplifier included in the box, but this seems to have little, if any, effect on the quality of the sound it produces. After thinking about the problem for a little while longer, however, we realized that most likely, by the time our technology had reached a point capable of creating a device like the G50, humans’ sense of hearing will have evolved to a point where the music really is louder than we can experience.

A remote control was included with the boombox, and we can truly say that it is one of the most sensitive remotes we have ever used. Not only will the CFD-G50 spring to life as soon as the finger makes the slightest contact with the remote’s power button, but it will do so from great distances. We can only imagine the implications that this technology hints at. Cars being started from the tops of 1000-story skyscrapers, ovens being preheated from the comfort of a homebound jet car. Of this we are certain; the future is going to be bright.

Stay tuned to Tech Radar for more information about the future of mankind. Though nobody has approached us yet, it seems almost certain that government agents will soon be knocking down our doors to claim the CFD-G50, which they will then use for a series of important research products. Though we will be sad to see it go, we will gladly do our duty to our country and relinquish the boombox to the authorities. In closing, we wish to thank the futurites for sending us the CFD-G50 and restoring our faith in what will be mankind some 200 years from now. The end?