Author Archives: Nathan Reinauer


Nathan’s 10 Best Games of 2016 - Chameleons, Trains, and Automobiles

Did ya’ll miss me? What? You didn’t even notice I was gone? Well, shame on you. (And me, for not making a more lasting impression.) My last review here was around April, before my life took a different turn and I no longer had time to pump out reviews every week. However, my love of iOS games (and making lists) has lead me back to Touch Arcade Towers to put my fingers to the keys once again and hopefully shine a light on a few more outstanding games that came out this year. I can’t quit you, TA!..

'Dirac' Review - Atoms @ Home

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March 31st, 2016 1:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $1.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Drawing, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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With a name like Mediocre, it’s almost like the studio is baiting reviewers. “Go ahead,” they're saying, “just try to make some lame joke about our games being mediocre.” Of course we can’t say those things, because Smash Hit [Free] and Does Not Commute [Free] (and earlier titles like Sprinkle [$1.99]) were outstanding games. The irony in their name proves the studio is supremely confident in the quality of their products, and they've certainly earned it...




I quite enjoyed Rope Racers [Free] in my review last week, and in fact I’m still playing every day. Flying through each level via ropes and trying to beat nine other people to the finish is incredibly fun, but unfortunately the game has just about every free-to-play mechanic you can think of. There’s a slot machine, two currencies, a stamina meter, and several other timers. It’s far from the worst I’ve seen, but it can hamper your progress if you’re not careful. Fortunately, I managed to unlock all 20 leagues and most of the characters since it came out, and I’ve compiled some of the tips and tricks I used below...

Freefly VR Headset Review: Virtual Man

I owned a Virtual Boy. There, I said it. For most of my life I’ve been obsessed with virtual reality, and Nintendo’s infamous failure of a system was my first real taste. Sure, it only had one color, and it looked silly sticking your face into what looked like a cross between E.T. and one of the machines from War of the Worlds, but I actually loved the thing. I have fond memories of berating Toad as my doubles partner in Mario’s Tennis, and of flying a wireframe spaceship into a giant wireframe face in Red Alarm. Heck, I even wrote terrible fanfiction about Teleroboxer...

If you listen to the Touch Arcade Show podcast every week (and you should), then you might recall what a frustrating experience Jared had trying to play Rocky Hong's Beat Stomper [$1.99] on a recent episode. The game seemed sorta like Doodle Jump [$0.99], but the timing was all weird and it took quite a few attempts for him to get the hang of it. Eli, on the other hand, had no problems whatsoever and demonstrated this by apparently playing with his eyes shut. Two completely different experiences with one simple high score chaser. So what about me? Or you, for that matter?..

'Rope Racers' Review - Swing Low, Sweet Undead Zombie

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March 21st, 2016 11:53 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
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Swinging from ropes is fun. I don’t know why, but it is. Many of my favorite games on the App Store use some kind of swinging as a mechanic, from Hanger World [Free] and Mikey Hooks [$1.99] to the long forgotten Rock Runners and Slingshot Racing [$0.99]. In preparation for this review I did a brief Google search to figure out what is so satisfying about swinging, but all I found were adult advice columns. (Some iOS games call it "hooking"; maybe I should have searched for that instead?) Perhaps it’s so fun because our ancestors lived in trees, or because it hits some perfect combination of speed and weightlessness. Who knows! Developer Small Giant’s latest game Rope Racers [Free] is all about swinging, and it pretty much nails that sensation...

'Train Conductor World' Review - Freight Control

'Train Conductor World' Review - Freight Control

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March 8th, 2016 12:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4.5 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Reviews, Universal
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Blake Patterson’s review of the original Train Conductor [$2.99] on Touch Arcade remarked that it was “like Flight Control [R.I.P.] on rails”. That’s certainly the feeling I got from playing the latest game in the series as well. Train Conductor World [Free] truly feels like a blast from the past with its central mechanic of routing things around the screen with swipes, as I probably had at least five or six games on my phone back in the day that were heavily inspired by Firemint’s classic airplane game. I can’t remember the last time I played something like that, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun revisiting similar ideas in World. Of course, this is no longer 2009, and the App Store is a very different place now. Can The Voxel Agents’ cute little trains keep up?..

'Abzorb' Review - Avoid and Conquer

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March 8th, 2016 10:06 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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One Man Left’s classic Tilt To Live [$2.99] series is a favorite of mine, partly because of how it subverted expectations when it came out in 2010. It looked like a shooter, with the main gimmick being that you tilted your device instead of using on-screen controls. Of course, that wasn’t the only “gimmick”, as it turned out the game wasn’t even a shooter at all. Your job was to avoid enemies, rather than hunting them down. That doesn’t mean you were totally defenseless, though, as there were many power-ups that allowed you to turn the tables on the evil red dots. Gerald Kelley’s new game Abzorb [$2.99] lands even closer to the pacifist side of the spectrum, as you don’t even get power-ups to defend yourself. All you can do to avoid death is run away. Is it anywhere near as fun and frantic as Tilt To Live, though?..

'Thumb Drift' Review - Slip Slidin’ Away

'Thumb Drift' Review - Slip Slidin’ Away

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March 3rd, 2016 9:30 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4.5 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
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We here at Touch Arcade don’t usually review the many, many free little arcade games that pop up on the App Store each week. There’s no rule against it, of course, but the fact is there are just too many games, and our time is usually better spent focusing on (slightly) meatier experiences. For example, just last week saw the release of Slingshot Rush [Free], which is yet another fairly shallow little Boombit game like the many others that came before. I actually found it incredibly fun and satisfying to play, but it’s ultimately too simple to fully review. I mean, you hold the screen to swing around corners and it’s really fun. I don’t even think a gimmicky question-and-answer format could stretch that out enough to count as an actual review...

‘_PRISM’ Review - Wouldn’t It Be Nice To Code Together

Several times in my life I’ve fantasized about packing up my guitar and some recording equipment and moving to a remote cabin for a month or so to write and record music. Far removed from the stress, distraction, and responsibility of normal life, I’d be free to put all my energy into crafting the next Sgt. Pepper’s or Pet Sounds. (It’s a fantasy, after all.) Unfortunately, doing such a thing is a luxury most people can’t afford for a number of reasons, which means I’ll have to settle for squeezing my recording sessions into spare hours in the garage like normal...

'Pull My Tongue' Review - Harm a Harm a Harm a Chameleon

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February 12th, 2016 2:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $0.99, 4 stars, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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For me, one of the marks of a good puzzle game is when the main mechanics are so simple and intuitive that you have a hard time seeing how the game could possibly get challenging--and then it does. Pull My Tongue [$0.99], the latest game published by Noodlecake, is kinda like that. The first level introduces you to the core concept, which basically never changes: There’s a lizard who wants a piece of popcorn, and all you need to do is pull the tongue out of his mouth until it reaches his buttery prize. Sure, the game eventually starts adding more things to get in his way, but at the end of the day you’ll still be simply stretching the tongue to the popcorn...

Craneballs’ Splash Cars [Free] may look like a version of Pako - Car Chase Simulator [$1.99] with a little Splatoon thrown in, but it definitely stands on its own. I gave the game four stars in our review, and I’d happily do it again. (If for some reason I had to review the same game twice. That’s weird though.) Unlike Pako or Splatoon, though, Splash Cars is very much a free-to-play game. It has timers, dual currencies, ads, and plenty of grinding. So what can we do about this?..

'Splash Cars' Review - Black and White and Sped All Over

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February 12th, 2016 10:29 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
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When you first lay eyes on Craneballs’ latest game Splash Cars [Free], there’s a good chance the phrase “Pako [$1.99] meets Nintendo’s Splatoon” might come to your mind. And let’s face it: if it didn’t have the painting gimmick of the latter, the game would probably be little more than a clone of the former. In my mind, though, I can’t help but see the 1998 film Pleasantville. It depicted a black and white town from a fictional 1950’s TV show, and how the characters (and town) slowly begin turning multicolored as they are introduced to the messy, complicated joys of real life for the first time. Certainly going on a high-speed chase would have counted, right?..

Foursaken Media is undoubtedly one of the most beloved developers on our forums. They are well known for making games that take several different genres and throw them into a blender, and the resulting smoothie is usually quite tasty. My favorites are probably Block Fortress [$1.99] and Bug Heroes 2 [$1.99], but even the games that don’t quite stick are usually pretty interesting if nothing else. It was with some surprise, then, that I learned their newest game All Is Lost [Free] was essentially just a runner. A runner with... puzzle elements? Extensive RPG-like upgrade trees? Monster collecting? Base building? Nope, literally just a runner. You go from the left side of a level to the right and basically just swipe to avoid stuff. What’s truly surprising, though, is that even though they apparently dropped their modus operandi of idea-mashing, they were still able to create a compelling and fun game rooted firmly in a single genre...

'Circa Infinity' Review - Like a Record, Baby

'Circa Infinity' Review - Like a Record, Baby

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February 5th, 2016 10:14 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 4.5 stars, Arcade, Games, Platform, Retro, Reviews, Universal
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In our recent review of Super Phantom Cat [$0.99] I remarked that I “wished the developers had been as creative with the platforming genre as they’d been with the art”. I loved the game in large part because of its wonderful presentation, and the solid gameplay was definitely fun despite feeling a bit too safe at the end of the day. And now, immediately after, I have Kenny Sun's Circa Infinity [$2.99] in my hands. It’s striking in that I like the game just as much as Phantom Cat, but my reasons for it are exactly the opposite. The gameplay in Infinity is unlike anything I’ve played before, to the point where I’m not even sure you could call it a “platformer” at all. The game’s presentation, however, is pretty solid but nowhere near as eye-catchingly beautiful as Phantom Cat. None of that should be taken as complaining, though, because I’m sure there are plenty of people who are completely over the moon for the traditional gameplay of the former and absolutely in love the sparse pixel stylings are of the latter...

'Mountain Biker' Review - Pay To Schwinn?

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February 4th, 2016 10:30 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Sports, Universal
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Tiny Wings [$0.99] is an amazing game. Not a terribly controversial statement, but I’ve always found it kind of surprising that more games didn’t take the idea and run with it. Sure, there are lots of games on the App Store that use a similar mechanic (my favorite, by far, is Kumobius’s Time Surfer [$0.99]), but it’s not nearly as many as I’d expect. I mean, think about how many Threes [$2.99], Flappy Bird, and Clash of Clans [Free] clones there are compared to Tiny Wings. Of course, every now and then a TW-like game will still randomly appear, and the latest I’ve seen is Mountain Biker [$1.99] by Escape Velocity...

'Super Phantom Cat' Review - A Purretty Clawsome Catformer Fur iOS

First off, sorry about that headline. I tried to fight the urge and I failed. Second, if you’re bummed that there’s no Super Mario game on the App Store (yet?), then you should drop what you’re doing and grab Veewo’s Super Phantom Cat [$0.99] right meow. It’s a fairly traditional platformer under the surface, borrowing heavily from Nintendo’s resident plumber, but I have to say--that surface is flippin’ gorgeous...

As you could probably tell if you’ve ever seen my forum avatar, I’m a huge Calvin & Hobbes fan. Aside from how funny, intelligent, and surprisingly philosophical the strip could be, one of my favorite aspects was how the titular duo could go anywhere and do anything with just a cardboard box. It could be anything from a transmogrifier to a duplicator to a time machine, and each one led to a sense that anything was possible with a large enough box and an even larger imagination. Sky Chasers [Free] by Lucky Kat Studios attempts to tap into a similarly whimsical feeling, and--for the most part--it pulls it off...

'Dungelot: Shattered Lands' Review - Chewie, We’re Home

Most people that have seen the new Star Wars movie enjoyed it, but one complaint I’ve seen a lot is that it borrows heavily from the first film, A New Hope. I’ve read that it was intentional, and part of the reason was probably to remind people of how much they loved the original trilogy and help them forget the prequels. And as weird as it may seem, it sort of reminds me of what Red Winter has done with the latest Dungelot sequel, Dungelot: Shattered Lands [$3.99]...

'Swapperoo' Review - Rage Against The Matching

I remember hearing that people were so obsessed with Tetris in the 80’s that when they’d close their eyes they’d still see the pieces falling and fitting together in their mind. It’s called the Tetris Effect, and I’ve always thought it was weird that people considered it strange enough to warrant its own name. Pretty much anything I get super into will start to invade my thoughts and dreams when I close my eyes. Isn’t that pretty normal? Why is Tetris special? Certainly there are plenty of iOS games that give me the same “effect” when I play them long enough. Like Swapperoo [$0.99], for instance...