Category Archives: Game Center

I absolutely love how Zen Studios is able to collaborate with so many different companies in order to bring a number of different brands to life in pinball table form. There are of course a multitude of tables based on the Star Wars and Marvel properties, but there's also things like Walking Dead Pinball, which really captured the essence of Telltale's adventure games, and South Park Pinball which feels incredibly authentic to the show. When Zen announced earlier this month that it had partnered with Valve to create a Portal Pinball, I got really excited. Portal is one of my all-time favorite game series, and there's something about a Portal pinball table that just makes sense. Today, we catch our first glimpse at Portal Pinball in action in this brand new trailer...

Wow. Talk about an iOS dynasty. It's been five long years since Miniclip.com published the port of the original Fragger [$0.99] to the App Store. All this time later, Harold Brenes, the original creator of Fragger is back with a long, long awaited sequel, Fragger 2 [$1.99]. I mean, 5 years? That's ancient history in mobile gaming. Not quite 'cradle of life,' 'dawn of man' ancient, but still pretty darn old. Ancient Greece, maybe. Anyway, was the wait worth it? Did anyone really want this sequel?..

When about a month ago I decided to preview Soulspark - Battle Cards [Free], a new F2P real-time card battling game by Copenhagen Creators and Wizkids, I did so because I always look for games by designers who are trying to innovate or, at least, spice up genre conventions. I was very interested in the way SoulSpark's developers wanted to infuse card-battlers - which are usually defined by slow deliberation - with the element of timing and rapid decision-making. I was especially excited about the prospect of a multiplayer component in the game, which the developers have said they are working on for a future update. Now that I've spent more time with the game, I'm still loving the concept behind the game as well as the visuals, but there are some questionable, yet not game-breaking, design choices that detract from the experience as well as some hard paywalls that make SoulSpark more of a free-to-try rather than a free-to-play game...

Kixeye'sVEGA Conflict [Free] has been out for some time on Android and desktop. If you aren't familiar with this Facebook integrated game, think Clash of Clans with space ships and a much more interesting combat system. The IAP is real, The in-game timers are real, but this is still a hot game. What I have been wondering though is how much gameplay is lost in translation to iOS. VEGA is not your typical Facebook game. Sure you have to sit around and wait on timers and micro manage your space town. The town, to me, isn't really where the game takes place. It's kind of more like an extended UI for the best part of the game, the combat. You get to outfit and pilot a fleet of ships with a very simple interface that has some surprising depth and a high level of skill needed to master. ..

'Wedding Escape' Review - 'Til Match-Three Do We Part

I think that when the world ends and cockroaches roam the Earth in search of Twinkies, there will still be working match-three devices out there. People just can't get enough of the match-three puzzle subgenre (myself included), and even after playing hundreds of them, Wedding Escape [Free] still feels fairly fresh...

'Trulon' Review - Right On, Trulon

Like everyone, I have my own set of personal biases and preferences that I have to work around. I love RPGs, but after years of social games and broken hearts I've come to flinch when I hear anything about a card battle system. I like card games well enough, but when they're used as an RPG concept, they tend to overtake the whole game. That's not to say I've never enjoyed an RPG with a card-based battle system. The Baten Kaitos games on the Gamecube were pretty good, and I certainly enjoyed the somewhat recent Card City Nights [$1.99] from Ludosity. But I'm not going to lie, it dampens my enthusiasm for a game just a little bit when I hear that cards are a major component. Because of that, even though Trulon [$4.99] was coming from a developer whose work I've greatly enjoyed in the past, I was still a bit hesitant as I loaded it up...

Freebie Alert: '2-bit Cowboy' Goes Free for the First Time to Celebrate its One-Year Anniversary

It's hard to believe, but it's already been an entire year since Crescent Moon and Cascadia Games released their monochrome "Westernvania" platformer 2-bit Cowboy [$0.99] on the App Store. But time flies, and in celebration of this momentous anniversary the game has been discounted from its already-paltry price of 99¢ all the way down to free. The clever term of Westernvania is a play on Metroidvania–an action platformer that takes place in one big level map that slowly opens up new areas as new abilities are attained by your character–but, you know, with a Western theme. ..

'Kayos' Review - Star Faux

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Over the course of my entire iOS lifetime (which started in 2009), I've probably played a couple hundred runner games. Although I haven't given them an equal time of day, for some reason the genre just doesn't get old, and I can spend at least an afternoon with them as long as they're semi-competent experiences. Kayos [$1.99] is another cool little endless runner based on flight that won't garner your interest long, but enough to make an impact...

Minimalist platformer games have become one of my favorite unlikely genres on mobile devices. Years ago I would have scoffed the idea of running and jumping with precision on a touch-specific control scheme, but at this point, we have MFi controllers and a number of talented developers that make it work regardless. Burn it Down [Free] may not have the former convenience, but it works on multiple levels...

As a longtime fan of gamebooks and interactive fiction in general, I've enjoyed seeing the genre blossom on iOS, especially within the last few years. What's especially great about it is that it hasn't simply been the work of any one developer. The genre is far stronger for having a variety of voices like inkle, Tin Man Games, Forge Reply, and Cubus Games each doing their own thing. A lot of people who probably haven't picked up a physical gamebook since elementary school are enjoying the feast of choices we have available to us on our mobile devices. Each push of boundaries for the genre seems to widen the audience even more. A lot of the recent hits have focused on playing with the presentation or the freedom to move away from the traditional structure adopted from paper books. The monochrome sketches of Lone Wolf [$0.99] coming to life, the simple yet striking imagery of 80 Days [$4.99], the hilarious Kate Beaton sketches of Hamlet and company in Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be [$5.99], or even the rocking soundtrack of Heavy Metal Thunder [$2.99] are all signs of a genre that is casting off the limitations of the past and charging into its own unwritten future...

'Ys Chronicles 1' Review - How Much Is That Dogi In The Window?

In my personal experience, I'm not sure if there's ever been as strong a case of sounding awful on paper but being outstanding in practice as Falcom's action-RPG Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished. I'm actually something of a latecomer to the series, though it was always in my periphery. During the old console wars, there were plenty of ads in game magazines for the SEGA Master System version, and later the TurboGraphx-16 collection of the first two games. It certainly got its fair share of positive press in reviews. In those naive years of my youth, however, I was a one-company boy, and my chosen team was Nintendo. Basically, that means my first experience with the Ys series was with Tonkin House's port of Ys 3: Wanderers From Ys on the Super NES. It was a bit of an odd duck in the series, but I didn't know that at the time. I wouldn't touch another Ys game for more than 20 years...

How many "city building" tap games have you played before? The answer is usually "just one and I hate them" or "five on a daily basis," with very little room in between. Yes, Century City [Free] is another one of those "wait and tap" builders, but it sets itself apart with a few extra mechanics that allow you to play a more active role in your cities' quest for unfettered expansion...

'Mega Drift' review - Anywhere but Tokyo

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Cool cars, a rad '90s racer aesthetic, and a free price point -- what could go wrong with Mega Drift [Free]? Despite the on-paper looks, it's the pacing that wounds the beast. As you can probably guess, you'll be drifting a lot with Chillingo's latest foray into the iOS marketplace. ..

Spirit Lords [Free] from Kabam is their twist on the popular free-to-play hack 'n slash genre. Daniel Erickson, lead designer on Star Wars: The Old Republic and Phil Shenk, lead character artist on Diablo 2, played significant roles in the creation of this game. Additionally, Kabam wanted this to be what they term "white hat" free-to-play, where you can earn all loot through normal gameplay. What they've made is a solid action-RPG, with good touch controls, and a monetization system that can provide hours of play at no cost, but demands lots of grinding to be powerful...

'Rex Rocket' For iPad Review - Mega Man Meets Metroidvania In This Excellent Action Adventure

If there's one thing I should have learned after being into video games for as long as I have, it's that nature abhors a vacuum. Even after watching countless genres swing out of and back into fashion over time, I still sometimes find myself lamenting the lack of games of a certain type during the quiet periods. After seeing Castlevania leave the hands of Koji Igarashi and Nintendo seemingly giving up on Metroid for the moment after the disappointing reception to Other M, I grumbled about the seemingly dim future of the Metroidvania sub-genre. Looking around today, I clearly needn't have worried. After all, there are more people making games than ever, and more games being released than ever, so any holes left by the big players are likely to get filled by smaller developers looking for a niche. Especially so if said hole is a genre near and dear to the hearts of many gamers-turned-developers, the way Metroidvanias seem to be...

I am definitely a formalist when it comes to video games. I don't think that games without structure or failure conditions are any less valuable as interactive works or as artistic achievements. I just enjoy my time with clickers more than I do, say, The Sailor's Dream [$3.99]. I like structure and progression, having a goal to attain. It motivates me to play, and when I no longer care about the goal, that will get me to stop playing. Simple as that. ..

'Hellrider' review - Ducks of Anarchy

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Have you ever wanted to ride a motorcycle through Hell as a duck? Well, Hellrider [Free] is your huckleberry. Accompanied by a slick set of pixelated visuals and an appropriately chiptune soundtrack, Hellrider sees players riding a motorcycle through a hellish landscape, avoiding lava at two sides and a heap of different obstacles. By default you'll start by veering off into one direction, and a simple tap anywhere will change your course. By tapping rapidly you'll stay in place, but eventually you'll need to commit. The animation is very slick on an iPhone 6, and the controls are pretty much instant...

'Halo: Spartan Strike' Review - An Evolutionary Success

Recently, Microsoft and the folks at 343 Industries launched two Halo spinoffs on the App Store. Halo: Spartan Assault [$5.99] originally debuted back in 2013 on Windows devices and is finally on iOS devices. However, Halo: Spartan Strike [$5.99] is a brand new adventure that saw a simultaneous launch on all pertinent platforms. As a sequel to Halo: Spartan Assault, it would make sense that Strike seeks to improve upon its predecessor and it succeeds in that regard. While the changes to the formula feel more evolutionary than revolutionary, those improvements are on a game that was already great  to begin with making Strike an even better dual stick shooter...

When Microsoft announced Halo: Spartan Assault way back in early 2013 as a dual-stick shooter set in the Halo universe that would be exclusive to the Windows platform, no one ever thought that the folks in Redmond would ever sign off on it eventually hitting Apple’s App Store (although we dreamed about it when we checked it out at E3 that year). Yet, here we are with Microsoft pulling a rabbit out of its hat and launching both Halo: Spartan Assault [$5.99] and Halo: Spartan Strike [$5.99] simultaneously on the App Store. As you’ll soon discover, both games play quite similarly to each other, but we’ll focus primarily on Spartan Assault and the gameplay basics in this review and will get into more specifics as well as the differences of Spartan Strike in Part II of our review...

'Implosion - Never Lose Hope' Review - Hope Is The Thing With Missiles

Implosion - Never Lose Hope [$9.99] is the latest game from Rayark, the developer behind the wonderful titles Cytus [$1.99] and Deemo [$1.99]. It's an outstanding game, and if you're reading this review because you want to know whether or not you should drop ten US dollars (or your local equivalent thereof) on it, let me cut to the chase for once. Yes, you should. Head over the the App Store, hit the button to purchase it, prepare a cup of your beverage of choice while it downloads, and get ready to settle in for a slick action game with superb production values and seriously well-designed combat. I can't recommend this game enthusiastically enough...

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