Author Archives: Chris Carter


The idea of a team that needs to not only work together on a human level, but literally form a construct that's bigger than themselves is fascinating. The most obvious example is probably Voltron, but even something mechanical like Transformers'  Constructicons had to form Devastator. It's a seemingly timeless concept too as nearly all of these tropes have returned, from the new Voltron Netflix series to the Power Rangers film reboot. Quantum Revenge [$2.99] tries to tap into that wizardry in the form of a twin-stick shooter, but doesn't really hit all of the same notes...

'Ellie & Max' Review - Some Doggone Perspective

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April 5th, 2017 10:23 AM EDT by Chris Carter in $1.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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I don't know what it is about a companion gimmick that makes me so invested. I mean most of the time you're usually controlling both as a single entity, so it's not like you have much attachment to either side of the equation directly, but the concept of going into something with a partner is inherently less stressful. Take something like Banjo Kazooie (or the more recent Yooka-Laylee), as you're generally controlling the former, and the latter merely acts as a power-up -- just the notion that you're not alone is enough to bring a smile to my face. Ellie & Max [$1.99] isn't quite as iconic of a pairing as the aforementioned mascots, but I got somewhat attached by the time I reached the final curtain call...




'Golf Zero' Review - Jump and Shoot

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March 23rd, 2017 11:15 AM EDT by Chris Carter in 4.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Sports, Universal
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I learned golf from the NES, and the SNES changed my perception of how far the concept could go. One of the most engrossing games I've ever played was Kirby's Dream Course on the Super Nintendo. I waltzed right into a Blockbuster Video one day and picked it up just because of the cover, and three days later I wasn't ready to return it...

I must have played billiards a hundred times as a kid before I truly understood what it was about. The mathematical calculations that go into each shot, the finesse and nuance involved, it blew past me while I was hitting a fun looking ball with a stick. Like a lot of sports the finer points were actually taught to me by way of video games, which highlighted the trajectory of the cue and where it would bank. It was an enlightening experience for sure, and one that I would apply to countless amounts of real life and digital games over the course of my lifetime.Incidence [$1.99] might look artsy, but at its heart it's basically a fancy version of pool or mini golf...

Geometry Wars almost spawned a  new genre of shoot 'em up when it arrived in 2003, as a Trojan horse of sorts inside of Project Gotham Racing. While developer Bizarre Creations thought it would be a throwaway extra that would be relegated to a behind-the-scenes lifespan, it became wildly popular and was eventually remade into its own release, and eventually, its own franchise. Characterized by a confined grid-like arena and its endless supply of cell-like enemies, the idea wasn't wholly new, but the neon art style conjoined with that setup was unique at the time. Hyperlight EX [$1.99] replicates that same experience, albeit with slightly less bravado...

'Realm Grinder' Review - Grind is Right

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February 21st, 2017 10:09 AM EDT by Chris Carter in 3 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation, Universal
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I feel like I've pontificated enough about the clicker genre. It's perfectly suited for mobile devices (where you can leave it dormant and come back to a fortune literally anywhere), and although it has its flaws and isn't for anyone, I'm glad that it exists. So many games have attempted to put their own unique spin on the formula with mixed results though, and that includes Realm Grinder [Free]...

'Z-Exemplar' Review - My R-Type of Game

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January 31st, 2017 10:59 AM EDT by Chris Carter in $3.99, 4.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Shooter, Universal
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I've been gaming for a very long time, but I can say without hesitation that I was late to the ZX Spectrum train. Given that it was an 8-bit computer released in the UK in 1983 that's understandable, but strangely enough, various other bits of tech history that allowed me to experience it. My first ZX Spectrum game was Manic Miner on the now defunct Microsoft Zune, which drew me into a whole new world that I didn't know know existed. Soon enough I was learning about the MSX and diving into a rabbit hole of gaming that I could never escape from. If you've ever wikipedia-ed something for hours on end until you end up wasting the entire day away, you know what I mean...

The original Don't Starve [$4.99] started a revolution of sorts in my house. My wife, who typically doesn't enjoy punishing or permadeath games, took to it for weeks on end, and started a revolution of sorts in terms of her gaming habits. She's spend days trying to perfect a certain run, learning new ways to survive in the process, die, and then have to start all over. We did it together all the way through two expansions, and although it's not for everyone, the process of picking up on every little minute detail every playthrough and coming out stronger for it is incredible. That second expansion has finally made its way to iOS in the form of Don't Starve: Shipwrecked [$4.99], and although it's one heck of a mixup in terms of the survival formula, it's not without its iOS specific faults...

Out Run really was ahead of its time. Released over 30 years ago, Yu Suzuki tapped into the racing market like never before, with a sit-down car-like arcade cabinet and an exploration-based concept. In Out Run the objective wasn't to really "finish first" despite the time limit mechanic. It was all about the journey, providing choices for where to go by way of forked roads, leading to multiple playthroughs, and even other choices that weren't typical at the time, like radio stations. The game broke my preconceived notions of what the medium could do at the time as a young runt, and still stands as one of Sega's crowning achievements. It was a magical experience stepping inside one of those cabinets, and although Highway Runners [$1.99] doesn't really hit all of the same notes, it's a nice little homage to a bygone era...

'Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire' Review - Delicious

One of the great things about classics is that they're readily available. While you'd be hard pressed to find a copy of Master Chu and the Drunkard Hu for the NES, a game almost no one has even heard of (myself included, until my wife showed me hers), you can get Mario 3 on your refrigerator and play Doom 2 inside of a keyboard. Sega is particularly giving with their legacy titles in the mobile arena, as is Square Enix, even if the latter charges an arm and a leg for the privilege. But while those games are timeless to some, new blood needs to come in every so often and keep them in check, even if they aren't particularly unique mechanically. Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire [$1.99] is comprised of a lot of mechanics found in the aforementioned classics, but its presentation of those concepts is effortless...

'Don't Grind' Review - Tally Me Banana

I don't know about you, but I always get unnerved at the death of tiny cute anthropomorphic things. Most people can rationalize "that's a banana getting grinded up into bits," but when you hear their screams and see blood splattering across the screen, it's a little different. Thankfully the point of Don't Grind [Free] is to save these little creatures, but as most endless games prove, death is inevitable. Maybe that's why it makes me so uncomfortable...

'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 EDT 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 EDT 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 EDT 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...