Category Archives: Game Center

'Dark Echo' Review - Silence Is Golden, And So Is This Game

While I love blockbuster gaming as much as the next person, there's no question that the ever-increasing budgets and thinner margins have made the whole upper-end of the video game business disappointingly conservative from the player's point of view. Iteration is great. It's how games have come as far as they have. Yet, as an exclusive diet, playing it safe can sometimes be a little bland. It's a good thing we've got smaller developers who can afford to take risks on crazy ideas, because without such occasional spices, the hobby would be a lot less interesting. Dark Echo [$1.99] is one of those games that simply couldn't exist under the traditional model, but I'm ecstatic it does...

Ever since it’s unveiling over two years ago, Midnight Star [Free] has had some lofty expectations thrust upon it. One consistent theme we’ve heard since its announcement was a promise for a control scheme reimagined for touch-based input. As the game slowly soft launched we realized that such a reimagining would also come with a free-to-play system for monetization. With its worldwide launch last week, we’ve finally had a chance to check out both its claim for improved controls as well as test out its freemium elements. After some extended time with this first-person shooter from Industrial Toys, I came away impressed with the controls and the amount of content offered, but was left lamenting its free-to-play elements...

In our hyper-connected world of social networks and online gaming, it seems like society is forgetting about our dear old friend the loner. I myself am a loner, as I enjoy single-player games the most and rarely play online with other people. I also don't really leave my apartment ever. Lately developers have been taking aim at that golden loner demographic, with games like One Player Pong last week and today the new Stratego Single Player [$2.99]. Stratego Single Player is pretty much what its title describes: The classic Stratego board game geared towards single-player play. It also features an AI developed by a Stratego World Champion...

There are a lot of issues with Heroes Of Might & Magic 3 HD [$9.99 (HD)], the spiffy remaster of the 1999 classic PC strategy game. The control layout has done little more than map things directly from keyboard and mouse to touch, with not much in the way of explanation of the intricacies, even in the tutorial. There's significant content missing in the form of the two expansions, which will not be coming to this version due to the source code being lost. The map editor found in the original game and the PC version of this HD remaster is not included in the iPad version. The updates are few in number, with just a bit of spit-polish done on the sprites and text to make them look a little less pixelated. These are all good reasons to pass on Heroes Of Might & Magic 3 HD, especially if you have a computer, where you can buy and play the complete version of the game with all expansions included for the same price...

DeNA continues their strange new pattern of releasing iOS versions of PC indie games under new names with Yet It Moves [$0.99], probably the most famous of the batch so far. Originally titled And Yet It Moves, it was first released on PC back in 2009 before making its way to WiiWare, of all places, in 2010. It received a fair bit of praise back then for its clever take on platforming and unique presentation. Here in 2015, it's not quite as unusual as it once was, but its strong level designs and good pacing make it a game still well-worth checking out...

'Lamp And Vamp' Review - This Campy Vamp Is Hoplite-Like And That's Alright

It was just over a year ago that I reviewed Douglas Cowley's excellent strategy game Hoplite [$2.99]. I found it to be a superb game, as many did, with tremendous depth and not an ounce of fat on its bones. It's one of the most efficiently-designed mobile games I've ever played. I can't say for sure if Mucho Party [$0.99] developer GlobZ was inspired by Hoplite when they made their latest game, Lamp And Vamp [$0.99], but it sure feels like they were. Not in a bad way, mind you. Lamp And Vamp certainly feels familiar, but it's different enough that it doesn't feel superfluous. Like Hoplite, you're trying to make your way across a single board, divided into hexagons, to an exit. In this case, it's a coffin. All you need to do is survive the gauntlet of enemies that lay in the path. It's harder than you might think...

Crossy Road [Free], the popular and profitable endless arcade game from Hipster Whale, has just received a new content update adding in three new characters to celebrate Chinese New Year, which is coming up on February 19th. You may recall that since its launch last November, Crossy Road received several new characters in an update in December, and a whopping 16 Australian-themed characters in an update just last month. Now here we are just starting out in February and we've already got yet another character update. Hey, I'm not complaining at all! In fact this falls right in line with Hipster Whale's aspirations of adding new characters to the game monthly. So what are the new characters? Well, let's start off with Fortune Chicken, who for a limited time is unlockable for free...

It was just about a year ago that Mi-Clos Studio launched their haunting deep-space survival game Out There [$3.99] to critical praise, including our own 5 star review and Game of the Week nod. In July of last year the studio announced that Out There would be getting a huge revamp dubbed the "Omega Edition" and along with that it would be expanding to PC, Mac and Linux. Just last month, Mi-Clos revealed the first images of Omega Edition and detailed some of the changes and new features that it would include. Today the beta version of Out There: Omega Edition has launched and Mi-Clos has released the first trailer showing off some of the new features in the game, including the slick new graphical engine...

When the absurd PC hit Goat Simulator [$4.99] launched on iOS last September, it was a joyous event. I'd seen all the crazy videos and read all the reviews, and I knew that Goat Simulator was something I needed in my life, but for whatever reason I never got around to playing it until it hit iOS. Once I had though, it was basically everything I'd ever hoped for, and we gave it high marks in our review. However, the iOS version wasn't quite up to snuff with its PC counterpart in terms of content, but developer Coffee Stain Studios let us know on their blog that big things were in the works for the mobile Goat Simulator. Today, one of those big things was released in the form of a new update for the game...

When Apple added widget functionality in iOS 8, it greatly expanded the kinds of cool things you could do with the lock screen on your iOS device. Most widgets have offered some sort of utility benefit, but there's a small number of developers who have brought gaming to the lock screen through widgets. First we had Overglide, which allowed you to play a simple cave flying game on your lock screen. Then there was the inevitable arrival of a 2048 widget. Widget functionality was even added to one of our favorite "non-game" games, Godville. Now, Overglide developer AA Mather is back with another widget game, and this time they're bringing a PC classic to the lockscreen with Minesweeper - Widget Edition [$0.99]. ..

'Lowlander' Review - More Highs Than Lows

Of all of the Ultima games you would expect someone to want to make a tribute to, Ultima 2 has got to be near the bottom of the list. Oh, it's no Ultima 9, to be sure, but I've always seen it as the little road bump on the way to Ultima 3 and 4 more fully realizing the concept of the series. It's a familiar story for sequels, I suppose, but by playing things a bit too safely, it had to succeed without the novelty of the original game and all of its faults. It was still a pretty good game in its time, but relative to the series on the whole, I think it's kind of underwhelming. I'm sure a whole list of people might disagree with that, and at least one of the names on the list would be the developer behind Lowlander [$1.99]...

If you were a Monument Valley [$0.99] fan who fell in love with Ida and especially the Totem (though a couple million of you drowned your poor Totem friend), then I have good news: Super Glyph Quest [$1.99] is getting an update this Thursday that adds the Monument Valley stars to the puzzle game. They're appearing as cameo characters in the match-3 puzzler, appearing in some of the quests that show up in the game. The characters show up in this new trailer, and you can catch a a glimpse of them in the Glyph Quest art style:..

Happymagenta has become one of my favorite studios producing smaller flaplike games: I dug Orbitum [$1.99], and Fist of Fury [Free] is a really fun fast-action game. Their latest title is Hammy Go Round [Free], and it's an endless runner that does some interesting things with its structure. You control a hamster spinning around an world turning clockwise, and have to collect acorns to go as far as possible. The game is ruled by a clock, and you can't really die, though you can run out of time. You can extend the timer by buying upgrades, which get you more acorns and then can buy powerup upgrades, and eventually unlock the game's other character, who exists in a counter-clockwise world...

In October of last year, a bizarre and intriguing tactical strategy game called Ambition of the Slimes [Free] was released. The premise was that those adorable little slimes that have been fodder in RPGs for decades are finally sick of being pushed around, so they decide to fight back. The way they do this is by inhabiting the bodies of humans. The game plays out in turn-based fashion as you tactfully position your slimes near human enemies, take over their bodies, and then use those inhabited humans as weapons against the rest of the humans. It's kind of twisted, but everything's oh-so-cute, so it's ok. ..

It's that time of year again, football fans. You know what I mean. "The Big Game." Oh hell, I'll just say it: the Super Bowl is coming! (please don't sue us NFL). Here in America, the Super Bowl is like an unofficial holiday. All productivity comes to a halt as people kick back, eat and drink way too much, and watch who comes away with the NFL's biggest prize. In celebration of this big event, two NFL games from Full Fat have been updated with new Super Bowl XLIX content. ..

Foursaken Media tackled the deficiency in games inspired by Mega Man Battle Network last year with their action-RPG Phantom Rift [$0.99]. Haven't gotten a chance to check it out yet? Well, now's as good a time as any, as the game is on sale for $0.99. The game combines deck-building with real-time combat, as you create decks of attacks, and draw them out in battles, which you use against enemies, but with an energy cost to equip. You also get to explore a world that is built before your eyes, Bastion-style [$4.99], and can get all manner of equipment to deck out your wizard...

10tons' Crimsonland HD [Free] has just gotten an update with a feature that not a lot of folks may be able to use, but should be pretty fun to play with for those who have it: local co-op with multiple MFi gamepads. The co-op mode was available in other versions of the game, but wasn't on iOS – until now. While MFi gamepads are still a bit pricey, if you and a friend have the game and an iPad or at least the ability to hook up to a TV, you can go through the entire game in co-op mode, with support for up to four players, all using their own gamepads...

It's possible that I'll never get tired of good "endless" games. Although there's no real goal in sight, earning all of those incremental upgrades to do slightly better after each run is the definition of deviously addicting. Go!Go!Go! Racer [Free] has the addicting part down, but it suffers from the same fate as any heavily monetized game in that the devs have made it difficult to enjoy it without paying up...

Developer EXE Create seems to have their business all sorted out when it comes to putting together an enjoyable JRPG on a Kemco-sized budget. Even at their worst, we end up with something like Infinite Dunamis [$3.99], a solid effort whose chief offense is in its lack of ambition. More typically, however, an EXE Create release will fall among the best of prolific publisher Kemco's mobile catalog. The developer has a particular strength for characterization, casting their adventures with clashing personalities and a hero that shows actual growth. This work is backed by surprisingly strong localizations, resulting in a story that's fun to play through even if the overall plot isn't all that special. In terms of gameplay, they tend to play it safe most of the time, but unlike their stablemates at Kemco, even if they're not strong at a particular design element, they at least turn in a good enough effort that it doesn't detract from what they do well...

I love platformers, and there are tons of great ones on iOS in all shapes and sizes. One of my very favorite "Mario-like" platformers is Wonderworks' Bloo Kid 2 [Free], which I picked as one of my personal favorite games of 2014. It's colorful, well-designed, and the running and jumping physics feel fantastic. Today a new update has made the game even better by adding in a new fifth world with 9 new levels, a new "Nightmare" difficulty and two new game modes. The new modes are Time Attack and Boss Rush, and they'll unlock along with the new difficulty option once you've beaten the normal Story Mode once. Here's the game's launch trailer...

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