Category Archives: Game Center

The Winter Games may be behind us for a few more years now, but Old Man Winter's grip on the Northern Hemisphere seems to be holding strong. With flaky white stuff inevitably on the minds of more people than just the usual dandruff shampoo marketing executives, we've been seeing lots of great games that take place in or around snow. Not long ago I reviewed SuperPro Snowboarding [$0.99], which called back to the Tony Hawk era of extreme sports video games, albeit from a 2D perspective. Cubed Snowboarding [$0.99] takes things back a bit farther, with a feel more reminiscent of 8-bit computer sports games. Rather than trying to stuff in all of the intricacies of the sport, it gives you a limited and somewhat simple moveset, a mountain full of increasingly difficult courses, and a challenge to get the highest score you can in a single run of the whole sequence...

I always enjoy it when a sequel makes a strong effort to surpass its predecessor without losing the core concepts that worked in the first place. Bloo Kid [$1.99], released in 2011, was a vaguely Bubble Bobble-like single screen platformer where you had to clear the screen of enemies by bouncing on their heads to finish each stage. The controls were pretty decent, the graphics were colorful and cute, and there were 84 stages with a few goals on each, so if you enjoyed it, there was a fair bit to chew on. That said, single screen platformers, while enjoyable, were knocked nearly into extinction when Super Mario Bros. first came around, approximately 25 years or so before Bloo Kid tried to get some attention with a fairly rote take on the concept. When Bloo Kid 2 [Free] popped up on my radar, I assumed that like many sequels, this was going to be little more than a level pack with a few new things stapled on at best...

Early last week Hutch Games revealed details about their new update for Smash Bandits, which would add a new racing mode among other things and was scheduled to go live later in the week. Well, things happened, and the update got pushed back. But fear not: The new update is now live, and with it the game is now officially known as Smash Bandits Racing [Free]. The new racing mode is great fun. The way it works is there are 5 tiers of races, with 5 races per tier. The 25 total racing courses are set in the same environments as the regular Smash mode, but aren't random. Instead, they're specific routes that will be the same each time you play...

If you're a big mobile gamer, you've probably played more running games than you can shake a sneaker at. Whether it's side-scrolling or behind the back, the App Store is full of unimaginative examples of the genre. Because of this crowded market, there are quite a few games in the genre that depend on a gimmick, particularly if they don't have a popular character or license to lean on. Adventure Land [Free], in most respects, is a pretty by-the-numbers side-scrolling infinite runner. You run towards the right, shooting or jumping over obstacles, collect coins, and pick up the occasional health pick-up. Things go faster and get more hectic the longer you play, seeing how far you can get. Adventure Land has a gimmick, though, and it's a truly cool one. In fact, it's probably the most interesting gimmick I've seen in a runner in quite a long time...

One of my favorite pastimes is spending hours skating around the virtual world of True Skate [$1.99] from True Axis. While True Skate contains missions to complete and a scoring mechanic that put it squarely in "game" territory, myself and many others enjoy it simply as a virtual skateboarding toy. The physics engine and numerous skateable objects in True Skate mean you're only limited by your own imagination when it comes to things to do in the game...

One of my very favorite platformers, Renegade Kid's Mutant Mudds [$8.99], is currently free on the App Store. Originally released on the Nintendo 3DS in January of 2012, Mutant Mudds made its debut on the App Store in December of that same year, and proved to be quite a hit. It's more of a slow-paced action platformer, as you'll need to take your time and make precise jumps in order to get past the many enemies in the game. It's very challenging, but also very satisfying. There's a hint of Metroidvania in it too, as you'll slowly unlock and upgrade new weapons and abilities that allow you to revisit previous levels and gain access to new areas. Finally, one of its key elements is the ability to jump in-between three levels of depth in the environment. There's a normal middle plane, a farther away plane in the background, and even an extreme close-up foreground plane. It's a neat effect, but it also ties into much of the puzzling and exploring in Mutant Mudds...

Not long ago, word got out that Square Enix would be releasing a new, free-to-play mobile installment in their long-running Seiken Densetsu/Mana series, which fittingly got its start on the most popular handheld gaming device of its day. Reactions were mixed, to say the least. There's a lot of fondness for Secret of Mana [$8.99], and it speaks to the depth of that fondness that even after 20 years of failing to repeat its success, people still hang onto hope that Square Enix can deliver a similar experience again. Well, since Rise of Mana has released in Japan, I've sunk a bit of time into the game, and I don't need to tell you that it isn't that game. In truth, Rise of Mana appears to represent Square Enix's latest attempt to grab onto the success of Gungho's popular Puzzle And Dragons [Free]. Still, I think if you can take the game on its own terms, you might have something to look forward to here...

Ravenous Games first landed on people's radars with the awesome League of Evil [$1.99] a few years back, but it's pretty safe to say their output has been a bit of a mixed bag overall since. Looking at their last couple of releases, Random Runners [$0.99] was a complete misfire, and before that, League of Evil 3 [$1.99] was a pretty uninspired sequel. This developer is in need of a comeback, and I'm happy to report that at the very least, their latest title, Devious Dungeon [$0.99], shows slightly more creativity in concept than those two. It's more than a little similar in feel to their hit Random Heroes games, but the idea works far better here...

The strategy game that just keeps on giving, Ndemic's Plague Inc. [$0.99], is giving yet again with a brand new update that's scheduled to hit sometime next month. To back things up a bit, Plague Inc. is a game that tasks you with unleashing a plague on the world, with the ultimate goal of eradicating all of humanity. The various plague types all behave differently, and you'll need to counteract humanity's efforts to squash your plague from spreading. It's a highly strategic and challenging game, and while it was great when it initially launched on the App Store in May of 2012 it's only gotten better over time thanks to numerous content updates, most recently the addition of "Scenarios" back in November of last year...

A previously iPad-only title is getting a shot at a much wider audience thanks to a new Universal update. Cloud Spin [$1.99] from Skytrain Studios is a visually stunning flight game that Eli and myself loved in our initial TA Plays video as well as in our 4.5 star review. In Cloud Spin, you play a rabbit named Lucky who's equipped with a jetpack and flies through on-rails levels trying to earn high scores with skilled flying. You can also unlock a free flight mode, and here you can kick back and enjoy the beauty of the game's environments while flying around wherever you please. It's highly reminiscent of using the flight cap in Mario 64 or even elements of the awesome Pilotwings series...

Here's something you might not know about me: I'm obsessed with the mobile version of Injustice: Gods Among Us [Free]. It's funny too, because, when the game first launched in April of last year, I really liked it upon first impression. However, as with many free to play games (and I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this), I did sort of a value/time assessment with the game, and although I liked the core gameplay quite a bit, I considered the time investment of grinding, timers, and other free to play-isms and ultimately decided it's just not worth it. I've got too many other games to play, you know?..

Following Real Racing 3's [Free] first anniversary last week where they were giving out a free in-game Porsche, EA and Firemonkeys have just released a pretty huge new update to the game adding a bunch of customization options, photo sharing, controller support and new luxury vehicles from Aston Martin. The new customization options allow you to tweak the more than 80 cars in the game, then once you have your personalized ride ready you can use the new Photo mode to pause the in-game action and snap a shot. You can even add filters to your photo and share them on social media. It's like Instagram for your Real Racing 3...

When Hutch Games released Smash Bandits [Free] in August of last year, I instantly fell in love. They took the same vehicular smashing gameplay of their previous Smash Cops and put you in the role of the bad guy, outrunning an increasingly aggressive pursuit of police as you aimed to wreak as much havoc and monetary damage as possible. They also rotated the action into a more friendly one-thumbed, portrait orientation that made Smash Bandits an easy go-to option for killing time throughout the day with my iPhone. It was just an astoundingly fun game to play...

With the new Robocop movie in theaters, I'm sure many people are spending some time with the tie-in game of the same name, Robocop [Free], from Glu Games. I reviewed it a while back and found it to be a bit of a bear thanks to its monetization aspects, but if you're feeling like being Robocop, this is pretty much your best option apart from threatening a druglord and putting your faith in the city of Detroit to put you back together again. So, I felt that, in the spirit of my previous guide for Batman: Arkham Origins [Free], if you're going to play this, you might as well have a guide to help you get through as efficiently as possible without reaching into your cybernetic wallet compartment in your leg, by which I mean, your pocket...

Let me start off by being clear: Dungeon Keeper [Free] isn't necessarily the most popular game out there, and a lot of that has to do with how stingy it can be if you aren't paying money. This might make you think it's not really the best game to offer up a guide for, but in actuality, this is the kind of F2P game that a guide can be most useful for. To be honest, I don't think you can play Dungeon Keeper optimally without spending money, but if you don't want to spend money yet want to play this game, well, there are good ways and bad ways to go about that. One of the challenges of putting this guide together is that EA keeps changing things around, scrambling to find an optimal (for somebody, anyway) balance. That means it's hard for me to use specifics like the costs of things, because they might be different by the end of the week. In lieu of that kind of guide, I've decided instead to focus on some general advice and information about things that are unlikely to change too much...

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