Author Archives: Chris Carter


'RunGunJumpGun' Review - The Name Says it All

It's interesting to see just how much mobile development has influenced the PC market. More and more we're seeing newer experiences that are formed around the same concept as Jetpack Joyride, whether it's of the endless or linear variety. The types of games prone to that control scheme work with touch, traditional remotes, and a mouse and keyboard. It's universal, and something gamers of all skill levels can pick up and play. It's a shame I only noticed RunGunJumpGun [$2.99] when it hit the mobile arena, because it really deserves the attention...

It makes perfect sense why publishers would want to milk the legacy of classic games as long as they can. Why wouldn't they? Very often for a lot of these retro releases they've withstood the test of time, being sold to generation upon generation without any sign of stopping. Bandai Namco is the king of that practice, having delivered us hundreds of Pac-Man ports, re-releases, and spinoffs in the past several decades. But what I love more than a port is an original take on a classic formula...




'The Bug Butcher' Review - Squashing Makes Me Feel Good

The Bug Butcher [$3.99] might have been released on PC earlier this year, but it felt like it was built for mobile devices. The horizontal Super Pang style, the limited amount of buttons -- it gels well with the endless approach for many similar mobile games, but The Bug Butcher has a level of sheen that a lot of those games sorely lack. There's also lots of room for colorful character designs, a tight control scheme, and some silly, funny writing that tie it all together. It looks and acts like a cartoon, and you'll uncover more and more layers of depth the more you play, which is the telltale sign of something you'll want to play beyond an initial curious play session. Developer Awfully Nice Studios did a great service porting this over...

There's very little that's more satisfying than an easy to grasp game. If it has shooting elements, great, it probably appeals to the little destroyer in us all. That's precisely why so many have flocked to Downwell [$2.99], as it has that "one more run" type of feel combined with a loveable art style and simple control scheme. It's something that you can just pick up and play, preferably on a convenient device like a smartphone, and just go to town with, for minutes or hours at a time. Spingun [Free] might not be as epic as some of those types of games, but it definitely has that feel...

Everyone has a genre they couldn't live without. For some youngsters, it's survival games, which can extend to Minecraft. For others, it's sports games, and the thrill of drafting out a new fantasy team with incoming college players thrown into the fray. For me, my choice ebbs and flows depending on the year, but the most consistent one I'm always falling back on is platformers. Whether it's those of the mascot variety with strict adherence to 3D standards and wonky cameras, or the tried and true 2D approach, you can put pretty much any one of them in front of me and I'll at least give it a go. Tons of Bullets [$1.99] caught my eye in name alone, but it ended up being about more than just blasting things...

Zombie titles really need to innovate more-so than a lot of other types of games these days. The market is just so saturated that the mere notion of "survival" itself just isn't enough, and there at least needs to be an interesting hook involved beyond the solitary concept of continuing to exist. Skyhill [$2.99] does that, even if the magic doesn't last as long as the developers intended it to...

'Magic Mansion' Review - Monochrome Monotony

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September 15th, 2016 1:15 PM EST by Chris Carter in 3 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Platform, Reviews, Universal
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If your game is going to be based on an endless principle, it better have a good hook. I'm not thinking narrowly in terms of unlocks, but a fundamental design philosophy that encourages the player to keep chipping away at their high score. A compelling art style and a responsive control scheme help, as endless games are generally great in quick spurts, and not with long marathon sessions...

'GunBird 2' Review - Classic Cute 'em Up

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September 13th, 2016 11:42 AM EST by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Shooter
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Shoot 'em ups have a rich, long history, perhaps one of the longest in all of gaming. While Pong and Pac-Man were the first for many, Galaga was right in the mix as well, and with the advent of easy to manage digital marketplaces we're seeing a resurgence of some of those classic games right here in the mobile space. Cave pretty much opened the shmup floodgates after some stragglers at the start of the Android and iOS movement, but there's plenty of other competitors vying for attention as well. That includes Psikyo, who developed the Gunbird series way back in 1998 on arcades (and eventually the Dreamcast). And here we are 18 years later with a mobile edition. Flaws and all, it's a pretty fantastic series of events...

'Abyssrium' Review - An Underwater Tap 'em Up

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August 26th, 2016 12:48 PM EST by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation, Universal
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For some, clickers got real old real fast. Most people I know were introduced to them by way of Cookie Clicker, which took the world by storm for several weeks until people got tired of clicking on things. But since a multitude of developers (even Bandai Namco) are partaking in these click-fests, it's become more important than ever to differentiate yourself from the crowd. That can be done in a myriad of ways, from adding "endgames" or RPG elements. But for me, it's okay for a clicker to just be a clicker, especially when it has a relaxing atmosphere like Abyssrium [Free]. For the uninitiated, the goal of tappers is very much like a city-building simulator -- acquire currency (hearts), so you can use it to acquire items that allow you to gain more currency. It's not a tough thing to wrap your head around, especially since the vast majority of your time is going to be spent tapping indiscriminately at the screen. But Abyssrium manages to add a zen-like feel to the whole shebang that makes it feel like less of a chore and more of means to let off some stress. The spooky yet majestic art is mostly to blame. Your empire starts off with one adorable rock with a smiley face and builds from there. Soon you'll have plants growing out of your avatar, fish swimming around going about their business, and mystic artifacts surrounding your home, all of which impact your earn rate in different ways...

'Jurassic GO - Dinosaur Snap Adventures' Review - Prehistoric Pokemon Snap

There aren't enough games like Pokemon Snap in the world -- there just aren't, even though it was released nearly 20 years ago. I'd like to think that Nintendo and The Pokemon Company are sitting on the concept, ready with a tiny hammer to smash a glass container somewhere with the code for a mobile edition, but we aren't there yet. Instead, we'll have to deal with the various "tourist" and survival sandbox games we have now, which get us ever closer to that fully realized open world Snap many of us long for. Thankfully, Jurassic Go - Dinosaur Snap Adventures [$3.99] is helping us get one step closer...

Sometimes, based on the recommendation of the lovely Touch Arcade community, you get to go into a project completely blind. I had never heard of the source material for Eden: The Game [Free], which is apparently based on a UK reality television show where a group of people live in a remote area of Scotland for an entire year. It's not only meant as entertainment for the masses, but it's also a social experiment in and of itself. The mobile game adaptation somewhat symbolizes how difficult it is to get an encampment up and running from nothing, with a little less thrill involved, of course...

'Quell Zen' Review - Peaceful Enough

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July 29th, 2016 5:00 PM EST by Chris Carter in $3.99, 3.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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Everyone gets their zen from their own special place. For me, that's usually listening to the latest Kenna album, grinding away in an MMO and leveling up a new character. It's relaxing in a way that it's probably crazy to basically anyone else, but if you shared some of your methods, you'd probably sound crazy too. So when a game bills itself as a zen-like experience, it's usually dubious of the claim given the subjectivity of its nature. With Quell Zen [$3.99] though, it mostly does its job, providing a puzzler veneer...

'Snakebird' Review - Is it a Snake or is it a Bird?

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July 29th, 2016 1:00 PM EST by Chris Carter in 5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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Some mascots are better than others. Bubsy didn't really work out so well. What did we see in him so many years back? Did we see anything at all, and were we just hungry for mascots? I don't know, but I feel like someone needs to apologize. Ratchet? He's done some fine work and has survived for many years. Crash? He's back from the dead it seems, even if one part of his return involves a cameo in a Skylanders game...

'Politaire' Review - You Got to Know When To Hold 'Em

I got into poker at a relatively young age. For most kids in conservative families, it's usually the same story -- one of your relatives probably teaches it to you and tries to get you to sip a beer. I carried over my knowledge of straights and flushes into middle school, where I'd compete for candy in the cafeteria and tell faculty and staff we were playing Go Fish. And in high school, like everyone else during the height of the poker craze that seemingly exploded with Rounders, I played for higher stakes. But by my college years, it kind of tapered off a bit, and now I rarely encounter a situation where I can get some hands in. Yet, I've kept all of my experiences bottled in, including all of the statistical probabilities for each hand, ready to dump at a moment's notice. That proved rather useful for Politaire [Free]...

There weren't a lot of games that used the "draw a line" mechanic before smartphones, but the ones that did exist really stand out. One such title is Kirby: Canvas Curse, released on the Nintendo DS in 2005, among several other follow-ups and clones. Most of them follow the same formula -- simply draw on the screen to manipulate the character, which was usually cruising through a world drawn with a cutesy veneer. Don't Be Squared [Free] follows that same path, but with a decidedly less interesting aesthetic...

'Drifty Dash' Review - Grand Theft Cartoon

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There's a distinct lack of car combat and otherwise silly vehicular based games in the current climate. Whereas everyone was chasing that almighty Destruction Derby or Twisted Metal dollar back in the day with entertaining, if flawed releases like Vigilante 8, nowadays a true successor is a rarity. Heck, even Mario Kart 8 had a ham-stringed battle mode. But with the multitude of platforms anything is possible, and although Drifty Dash [Free] doesn't come close to honoring its pedigree, it's not a bad way to pass the time...

I've talked about shoot 'em ups ad nauseum, and for good reason -- they're one heck of a genre, and they're making a big comeback on mobile devices. They're just so fun to play and prey off of your ability to react to any given situation. I mean, who doesn't love blowing up aliens or some otherwise evil entity while dodging a hail of bullets on-screen? It's pretty much a universally beloved pastime. Frantic Shooter [Free], which hails more from the Robotron school of thought than anything, is just as fun even with touch controls...

'Hyperburner' Review - Mad Space Dash

'Hyperburner' Review - Mad Space Dash

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June 27th, 2016 4:25 PM EST by Chris Carter in $2.99, 4.5 stars, Action, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Universal
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It's hard to recall what the first flight simulator game I played was. I believe it was Wing Commander on the PC, before I graduated on to other space games like the X-Wing and TIE Fighter series, as well as Descent. Either way, it was love at first sight. The cold loneliness of space translated perfectly to the video game realm, and the possibilities were endless since the theme wasn't tethered to any particular planet or rules...

I'm really glad that fighting games are still alive and well. They're a classic old school genre that has withstood the test of time, and many franchises that were started so long ago in arcades are still with us. Although it's not nearly as old as Street Fighter, Arc System Works' BlazBlue has definitely earned the right to be in the same conversation, following up their storied Guilty Gear series with the same amount of flash and style. That partially translates to the mobile arena with a game that's more beat 'em up than fighter in BlazBlue RR - [Free], but it's muddled by one of the worst IAP schemes I've seen in a while...

'Rule with an Iron Fish' Review - Good ol' Fishin' Without IAP Bait

In a sea of ad-based gaming, currencies upon currencies, and premium purchases, it's fun to find a game every so often that abandons that entirely. Sometimes, a game itself is a premium purchase, bestowing everything, from content to opportunities, with reckless abandon. It's a model that isn't exactly popular with each passing year, but one that still exists -- and the developers of Rule with an Iron Fish [$2.99] have executed it wonderfully...