Category Archives: Arcade

Thanks to the massive success of Rovio's Angry Birds [$0.99] during the formative years of the App Store, physics-based puzzle games are probably one of the more, shall we say, over-represented genres on the App Store. At this point, I'd imagine most people have plenty of them in their purchase histories, and as a result, it takes something really special to make any actual waves in the genre. An initial glance at Earth Vs. Balloons [Free], which in screenshots looks very much like something that's been done again and again on iOS, isn't likely to turn anyone's head. But after seeing the name of the developer, I had to check the game out. This game comes to us from Mangobile, the developer behind the equally plain-on-the-surface Kingturn [Free] strategy games. They're probably never going to win any awards for presentation pizazz, and while the Kingturn games certainly have their twists, they don't get by on innovation as much as they do from immensely solid construction and clever scenario design...

Sebastian Gosztyla's DUAL [Free] is a fun multi-device local multiplayer game where two people square off with their devices facing each other and either blast away at each other in competitive play or work together to destroy AI eneies in a cooperative mode. Now, the game is getting its first big update this week with a new mode, called Deflect. The mode has you trying to hit a ball past your opponent, with each ship having different shot effects. Gosztyla describes it as "a mix of soccer, tennis, and air hockey." The new trailer for the game shows off some of what the new mode and the game as a whole are about:..




'Pac-Man Championship Edition DX' Review - If It Ain't Broke, Make it Faster and Add Bombs

Screwing up Pac-Man Championship Edition DX [$4.99] on mobile seemed like it would be difficult. All Namco would have to do is to basically port the game over, maybe make some tweaks to help it work better on mobile with touch controls, as the ludicrous speed of the console and PC version might not work so well with most people using swipes to move. Maybe throw in iCloud and support for both iCade and MFi controllers, and you've got yourself a five-star package. Namco almost did screw this up with a wacky free-to-play version of the game based around levels and energy timers, but thankfully they came to their senses and decided to just drop the game with minimal mobile tweaks on the App Store as a premium game. The world is better for it...

Earlier in the week I stumbled across a very cool looking trailer for a game called Tap Quest. The goal in the game was to defend a tower in the center of the screen from enemies approaching from either side, and you'd do that by simply tapping either side of the screen to perform a dash attack in that direction. It's simple premise, lovely art style and chaotic action really caught my attention. Well, in a nice surprise, Tap Quest: Gate Keeper [Free] moved swiftly through Apple's approval process and is already available on the App Store...

'Down the Mountain' Review - Crossy*bert?

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Just make Crossy Road [Free]. It’s easy! All you need to do is take a classic video game from the 80’s, give it a cheerful, vaguely Minecraft-ian art style, load it with cute characters to collect, and park your car in the garage so the driveway is clear for all the dump trucks full of money. Of course, in reality things aren’t quite that easy. I mean, I don’t think anyone is entirely sure why Crossy Road was such a huge success considering the sheer volume of other fun little time wasters there are on the App Store. Why Flappy Bird, for that matter? Why Temple Run [Free]? Why Doodle Jump [$0.99]?..

It's been almost a year now since Bandai Namco soft-launched a free to play version of the updated take on their classic Pac-Man franchise Pac-Man Championship Edition DX [$4.99], but at long last the game has finally gone worldwide as of earlier today. What took so long? Well, the version that soft-launched last year was built with all the typical free to play trappings, like in-game currencies and timers, and was met with plenty of criticism from fans, especially those who have enjoyed the various premium Pac-Man Championship games on consoles and even right here on iOS over the years. ..

As a critic, you almost always inevitably face a response to your criticisms somewhere in the neighborhood of ‘Well let’s see you do better!’ As if one must first master an art rather than be a knowledgeable and experienced consumer of it to have valid criticism. You especially see these comments thrown at highly negative critics, probably along with a Molotov cocktail and a screaming honey badger. It’s pretty rare for those critics to reply simply with ‘OK, why not!?’ as Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw has done with his first ever mobile game, Hatfall [$1.99]...

Illusion Labs is easily one of my very favorite developers, with their trademark colorfully cute 3D visuals and long tradition of taking familiar genres and mixing them up with clever controls and unique gameplay mechanics. Sway [$4.99] was among the first games I ever bought on my iPhone, and I’d argue that Touchgrind Skate 2 [$4.99] is one of the best skateboarding games on any platform. Even their dinky little kart racer Rocket Cars [Free] stole my heart recently, and it’s one of the few free-to-play games that I actually 100%’d...

'Cally's Caves 3' Review - Cally Powers Up Yet Again

Going back and playing the first Cally's Caves game, it's stunning how far this series has come in such a short span of time. While the core action gameplay is solid, just about everything else in the game looks and feels, well, like the small indie game that it is. Cally's Caves 2 [Free] upped the ante significantly, not just in terms of presentation but also in gameplay mechanics, adding a compelling Ratchet & Clank-style weapon upgrade system and smoothing out the overall difficulty. A quick glance at Cally's Caves 3 [Free] would make you think you're getting more of the same from the second game, but although the game may not appear all that different at first, I'm going to go as far as to say that this third game represents almost as significant a leap over Cally's Caves 2 as that game had made over the original...

Old genres rarely die, they just often end up evolving into something a bit different. That's certainly the case with beat-em-ups, a genre which reached its height in the 16-bit era only to almost completely vanish in the following generation. That happened for many reasons, including market saturation, the popularity of one-on-one fighters eating the genre's lunch, an overall lack of innovation, and the 3D nature of the gameplay meaning it got precious little boost from the shift into polygons the way other genres did. A few attempts were made to keep the genre going on PlayStation and its contemporaries, but they met with limited success at best. It wouldn't be until the release of the PlayStation 2 that the beat-em-up would find its new footing, thanks to Koei's Dynasty Warriors series. That series spawned many sequels, spin-offs, and imitators, and even today serves as a general template for the genre...

I don't know about everyone else, but for my money, the best part of using a tomb-raiding setting for a story is when the main character has to escape from a collapsing death-trap. I'm not sure why ancient civilizations would rig things to collapse in such a precise and deadly manner, or how annoying it must have been when they were setting it up and Bob accidentally tripped the whole thing just before the last piece was set, but watching someone try to outrace a series of perfectly-timed traps lest they be buried in the very location they sought to loot never gets old. With the rise of Indiana Jones happening almost in step with the booming popularity of early home gaming, it's not surprising we've seen many interactive takes on the concept. When it's done well, it's just as exhilarating to play as it is to watch. Trappy Tomb [Free] is a relatively simple game that focuses exactly on that kind of escape sequence, and while it has some issues, a few clever ideas help smooth things over...

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, Australian national treasure and host of the weekly game review show "Zero Punctuation!" over at The Escapist, is a man of many talents. In his free time, when he isn't taking part in the running of video game themed cocktail bars or doing manly combat with the horrifying fauna of Australia, he's an amateur game developer. You can find many of his creations over the years on his site, but now, with the help of Addicting Games and Defy Media, his very first mobile game, Hatfall [$1.99], is available for download. In it, you help the man himself get his hat back. Over and over again. While also dodging refrigerators, anvils, and trying to discern which devilishly handsome plain white avatar is yours...

Back in April, during the G.I. Joe-themed convention called GIJoeCon (yes that's a real thing!), Backflip Studios announced that they were releasing a new mobile game utilizing the G.I. Joe IP, which is owned by Backflip's parent company Hasbro. Corporate synergy! Anyway that game, titled G.I. Joe Strike [Free], has just released in the App Store. It's actually a pretty awesome premise. You play as all-around bad ass ninja Snake Eyes in gameplay that's extremely similar to One Finger Death Punch [Free] or Fatal Fight [Free]. Basically, close-quarters twitch combat...

Poor old Sonic The Hedgehog. He's been celebrating his 24th birthday recently, and to commemorate the occasion, SEGA has baked him a moist, delicious cake and topped it with inedible sludge. Sonic Runners [Free] has finally come out of its soft launch, and it's unfortunately still plagued with all of the problems it suffered from right from the very moment it set foot on the Japanese App Store. That this particular mixed bag comes from Sonic Team themselves is hardly surprising when you break down exactly what's wrong and right with it. Is it salvageable? Absolutely. Will it be? I wish I could say...

'Piloteer' Review - Joyride in a Jetpack

'Piloteer' Review - Joyride in a Jetpack

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June 30th, 2015 12:24 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 5 stars, Arcade, Games, Reviews, Universal
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I was about five years old when film The Rocketeer hit theatres, so I don’t remember a whole lot about the characters or plot. What I do remember is strapping a pair of 2-liter bottles to my back and zooming around my backyard like a lunatic. I’m almost afraid to re-watch the movie now that I’m older, because I have nothing but good feelings about it currently and I don’t want cold hard reality to tarnish them. That childhood wonder I felt while pretending to fly around in an awesome dieselpunk jetpack was pretty priceless, ya know?..

FireWhip [$0.99] is a perfect example of a game that shows that you shouldn't just judge a book by its cover, but if the book is good, having a rad cover sure helps! This is a unique high-score chaser that puts work in to feel like a standout experience. FireWhip delivers exactly what it its title promises, as it has you swinging a whip made of flames, trying to fend off enemies that want to get to you. You have to swing the whip around to make it large and fast enough to hit oncoming enemies, but some of the base enemies are cowards – literally, they're called cowards – and will shy away. The enemies that come at you directly? They have shields, come in large numbers, or attack really quickly. And if you swing your whip too fast, it flames out, and that's not going to be any good for you...

There are plenty of things I appreciate about Cartoon Survivor [Free], a new isometric platformer from Australia-based Spunge Games. Most immediately, it has a strong and cohesive visual design, full of bright colors and cute animations. The level designs are clever and packed with secrets to find, some of which may require you to come back with gear you'll earn later in order to get the best time. There are unlockables both of the cosmetic and practical type, giving you something tangible to shoot for as you play through. It also gives you enough levels for free to get a feel for the game before it asks you to pay to unlock the rest, and in an unusual turn, allows you grind up in-game currency and pay that way. You're probably waiting for the other shoe to drop right about now, and it will. But don't worry, it's only a little shoe. A booty, at best...

The beauty of mobile and this era of digital distribution is that with small games, we can see how games can become wildly different affairs from the same idea. Sure, this is the same system that leads to rampant cloning, but sometimes you see developers legitimately iterate on the same idea. Take Hue Ball [Free], for instance. It credits Wouter Visser's Gimme Friction Baby as its inspiration. This is the same game that inspired Orbital [$2.99 / Free], a classic App Store puzzle game, that both start from the same idea: you launch balls from a bottom cannon into a playing field, trying to break balls in the playing field to earn points, and to keep balls from landing and expanding below the border line where your cannon sits. What Hue Ball does is to tweak the concept just enough to feel like a very different experience, going from a slow, tactical puzzle game where one mistake can doom you, to a fast-paced high-score chaser that's somewhat forgiving...

'Radical Rappelling' Review - Rock & Roll

'Radical Rappelling' Review - Rock & Roll

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After a few years of reviewing iOS games at Touch Arcade and elsewhere, I've begun to notice something. You can usually tell how "good" or "bad" a game is by the specificity of your gripes with it. If I'm writing generally about how the controls don't work or the graphics are ugly, the game as a whole probably isn't that great. However, if I'm spending an entire paragraph about how disappointed I am that one level is too hard or too easy, or that there aren't enough pants to buy in the shop, there's a good chance the rest of the game is pretty enjoyable. Why waste time pointing out every little flaw if there are bigger problems to discuss? And conversely, if a game seems to nail everything, what else is there to discuss but the tiny annoyances that don't really amount to much?..

Brickies [Free] is not a bad game. It is an excellent game in many regards, and a top entry in the brick-breaker genre. The problem is that it's still a brick-breaker. No matter how it mixes things up, I just can't shake the fact that it's a brick-breaker, and it's quite the familiar game. And while it's not bad at all, and is really quite good, it's also not an essential must-have in a venerable, oft-imitated genre...

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