Author Archives: Nissa Campbell


If you've heard of ustwo as a gamer it's probably thanks to Whale Trail [Free], a psychedelic flier starring the darling Willow the whale. Since that hit in 2011 the studio's been fairly quiet on the game front, focusing its attentions on apps that showcase interaction and user interface design. Now ustwo has returned to the gaming world with Blip Blup [$1.99 / Free], a game that might be even better suited to its specialities...

'Sword & Glory' Review - To Die For Family, Clan or Pieces of Silver

Living for glory kinda went out with dying by the sword: there just isn't much of it in the daily struggle to work a desk job, handle your homework or get your kids in bed on time. Sword & Glory [Free] is an outstanding game that imagines a time when life was all about the struggle to raise yourself and your family for nothing, earn a reputation for great deeds and pass that down through generations. ..

Role-playing games are almost universally about becoming the big damn hero, playing the one central character or party that changes the whole world. No one wants to play the innkeeper, shopkeeper, or that old guy who hangs out in a cave waiting to give the hero his sword. ..

Dig down deep enough and you'll notice that most matching games target the parts of us that want things tidy, want to clear a whole color right off the board or line up all the gems into nice little rows. The game messes things up, and we go about tidying after it. Go Round [Free]toys with this instinct, forcing players to clear out only the things that truly matter...

Rootwork [$3.99] bills itself as a Sophisticated Card Game, but what that means is left open to interpretation. It isn't a deck building game, a collectible card game or even a multiplayer experience. It's a solo game about being lost in the woods and staving off fear while you find your way home...

We called it whack-a-mole, back when I was a raid healer in World of Warcraft. It's been a while, but I'll bet things haven't changed all that much. You watch a screen of green boxes slowly deplete, and do your damndest to tag them with heals as they drop. Whack - a heal-over-time on the off-tank. Whack - a big heal on the main tank. Whack - a last second save for someone squishy. On and on until the boxes stop dropping, you look up, and hey—the boss is dead...

I have to admit my eyes glazed over a bit when I took my first look at Tomb Breaker [$0.99] It could probably look more like Bejewled with a little effort, but I've had my fill of straight Match-3s and then some. I probably wouldn't have given it a second look if I hadn't noticed it was from Kurt Bieg, creator of the delightfully frustrating Circadia [$0.99]. That bit of trivia caught my attention, and I'm glad it did...

'Sorcery!' Review - Inkle's Gamebook Gets It Right

As someone who can get pretty obsessive about both reading and video games, I keep expecting gamebooks to grab me by the throat. It seems as though they should be perfect for that: part game, part book, all gripping entertainment...

There's no escaping it: multiplayer on a single iPad is pretty much always a full contact sport. It's all hands and fingers everywhere, ducking and dodging to see under and around your opponent and clear to your goal. You can try to fight it, to keep everything very organized so everyone stays in their respective corners. Or you can embrace it, as Alistair Aitcheson has with Slamjet Stadium [$2.99 (HD) / Free (HD)]..

There is something inherently perverse about intentionally creating the thing that will destroy you. I don't mean that in any sort of metaphorical sense; this isn't some sort of child-destroys-the-parent thing. In Bit Ate Bit's They Need To Be Fed 2 [$1.99], you are charged with growing a monster and then crawling into its mouth to die, over and over and over again. You are responsible for pulling yourself through a hellish platform-scape, gathering the magical bean that contains your killer, planting it, and then feeding yourself to the monster that results. The game's developer Jesse Venbrux has some twisted ideas...

Away from the heart. You have to bounce the ninjas—no, punch them—away from the heart, not toward it. Indiscriminate punching isn't good enough. "Defend Heart!" they said. You had one job, and you failed by scoring on your own goal, punching some guy right into your own vulnerable heart. There might be a metaphor there. ..

Blendoku [Free] is a game you might not immediately recognize as such. I didn't. Where, I wondered, is the challenge in lining up five colours according to hue? You put the darkest blue on the right side, the lightest blue on the left, and fill the rest with shades in between. A color theory exercise, perhaps, but a game?..

Halfbrick's games usually grab me immediately. Jetpack Joyride [Free] was the cave flier of my dreams, Fruit Ninja [$0.99] devoured my high-score hunting hours. I didn't immediately latch on to Fish Out of Water [Free], though. It doesn't have the same obvious hooks—the shiny coins and the upgrades that keep you hitting that play button over and over. Heck, it doesn't even have a typical high score system. ..

For some reason there isn't an iOS adaptation of HeroQuest, the adventure board game that informed the childhoods of many folks my age. There are a few that tread similar territory, though, and one of them is Mighty Dungeons, [$1.99] published by Forest Moon Games...

Illusion Labs has a reputation for quality iOS games, with Blast-A-Way [$4.99], Touchgrind [$4.99] and a few other classics under its proverbial belt. Let that be enough to convince you to try out the studio's newest, Mr. Crab [Free]. At a glance it looks visually busy and overly simple, a vertical platformer of no great account. A few moments in action, however, show that it's more appealing - and more interesting - than it first looks...