Author Archives: Chris Carter


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...

'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 EDT 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 EDT 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 EDT 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...

Beat 'em ups started out with a simple enough premise. Punch stuff, get points. It's that easy! In an era where quarters equated to extra lives, and arcade owners could jack up the difficulty with the flip of a switch before the doors opened, it was a lucrative business. But once they hit home consoles things changed. Players could just opt for infinite lives, which, while great for your wallet, takes away some of the inherent nervousness of using up your very last quarter in X-Men while Magneto is flashing with a critical amount of life. It was a rush to be sure, and although Rockabilly Beatdown [$0.99] captures some of that magic, it lacks staying power...

'Mr. Crab 2' Review - Crafty Crustacean

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June 3rd, 2016 5:30 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 4 stars, Action, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Universal
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When a developer puts a spin on the typical auto-running formula, I'm usually there to check it out. While virtual buttons work just fine after years of acclimating to the concept, certain experiences lend themselves well to automatic movement, but there can be concessions in terms of how much we as players are allowed to interact with them. Mr. Crab 2 [Free] doesn't improve much on the foundation that was already built by its predecessor, but as an expansion of sorts, it works just fine...

'Leap Day' Review - Jump for Joy

'Leap Day' Review - Jump for Joy

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May 26th, 2016 12:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 4.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Platform, Reviews, Universal
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I always seem to gravitate towards Nitrome's games. I don't know what it is, but I always pick up their latest game not knowing that it's actually them. And there's a common theme after all these experiences -- I usually come out enjoying myself. With a neat new gimmick, now I can add Leap Day [Free] to that list...

'Mekorama' Review - Mechanical Valley

'Mekorama' Review - Mechanical Valley

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May 26th, 2016 11:00 AM EDT by Chris Carter in 4.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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Isometric puzzle games pretty much have me at hello. There's something about the lovely god-like viewpoint that gives me a sense of wonder, in addition to a strict sense of control, that I really dig. Monument Valley [$3.99] is pretty much the king of the mobile space when it comes to those experiences, yet a number of games have risen to the call and have cemented themselves as worthy adversaries. While Mekorama [Free] isn't as attractive when it comes to its art style (the base game clocks in at just 8MB!), it makes up for it in charm, and a pretty nifty level editor...

'Cruise Control' Review - Nightcall

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May 23rd, 2016 1:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
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Growing up in the 80s, I saw a ton of sci-fi films. Whether they were dramatic masterpieces or oozed cheese and camp I loved them all the same, and the numerous references in modern day media like Turbo Kid, Kung Fury, or Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon are palpable. Sometimes creators just go all out in their unabashed love for the era, and that passion shines through in Cruise Control [Free] -- albeit, in light of some unfortunate IAP peddling...