Category Archives: Arcade

For a media form so ripe for it, there's been very little decent video game parody until recently. Thanks to the rise of independent developers who were born and raised on games, we're seeing more and more games that tweak the nose of gaming's history, some more affectionately than others. Blackmoor [Free] is a side-scrolling melee action game that is absolutely drenched in love for classic Japanese games, sending up or homaging works from Capcom, Konami, Technos, Nintendo, and more. Anyone can toss in Firebrand or a Dragon Punch and call it a day, though, so that's not especially noteworthy. Blackmoor goes a little beyond the superficial trappings, which it admittedly revels in, and shows not just a fondness for characters and attacks, but also for the depth in mechanics of the action games that came out of those great companies...

Last October, Bean's Quest and Time Surfer developer Kumobius released Duet [$2.99], a twitchy and extremely challenging arcade game. It received critical success far and wide, including our own review, and seemed to do fairly well in the charts too. Nothing earth shattering, but decent. Then in late February through mid-March, Duet saw a huge resurgence, and actually came to hit the top three in the overall paid charts, coinciding with a price drop to 99ΒΆ. Duet always felt like it should have done better in the charts than it had, and finally it was getting its due. I actually think it had something to do with the whole Flappy Bird phenomenon and the sudden obsession with super challenging twitch games...

Savant - Ascent [$1.99], D-Pad Studio's slick little arena shooter themed after the electronic artist Savant, has just received a brand new update. The update includes two new soundtracks so you can blast away at bad guys while bumping to some more Savant tunes, as well as Game Center leaderboard integration which is crucial in a high-score-focused game like this. In addition, there's now support for Japanese language, but this comes with a problem: the updated version of the game defaults to Japanese, which means after you update and fire up the game you might find yourself a little lost. Never fear, I'll tell you the simple fix for this...

'Wind-Up Knight 2' Review - As Tightly-Wound As A Grandfather Clock

The original Wind-Up Knight [Free] was a great game and a fine example of how platformers, a genre many thought couldn't get along with touch controls, can work just fine on mobiles provided they're designed properly around the hardware. The mechanic of constantly moving forward while asking you to manage jumps, swings, rolling, and the shield gave you plenty to worry about without having to fuss around with a virtual directional pad, and the game made sure to test your skills at all of those things to the hilt. It boasted tons of levels, an assortment of collectibles, and plenty of goals to shoot for during play. It also apparently struggled at its initial price, because it was later retooled as a free-to-play experience, albeit a fairly generous one, since you could still unlock pretty much everything without paying a cent if you were skilled enough at the game...

The latest update to One Man Left's arcade avoidance game Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous [$2.99] is now available in the App Store. The update adds a brand new mode called Brimstone Pinball where you'll need to use your arrow character to ricochet a fiery pinball of death around the screen and destroy enemies. The new mode is based on a power-up from the original Tilt to Live, but now it's been fully fleshed-out and feels like a brand new game all on its own. We checked out Brimstone Pinball at GDC last month and the official trailer for the new mode can be seen right here...

Arena battle games have really come into their own in recent years. Mobile platforms in particular have enjoyed a great crop, including Super Crate Box [$1.99], Muffin Knight [$0.99], Spell Sword [$0.99], and many others. It's a great way for a small developer to make a great action game without busting the bank, while providing a nice bite-sized bit of fun that suits mobiles well. Of course, for the gamer looking for something more than just a slice of game now and then, the better examples in this sub-genre have included some sort of progression system that persists beyond individual plays. Typically, this is done by putting in some sort of collectible or experience system that will unlock new weapons or abilities, which not only gives you something to shoot for over the long term, but also refreshes the game experience over time to keep it from getting dull...

Shoot-em-ups are an old, old genre. It's not unreasonable to say that they are the oldest genre in video games, actually. They were huge, everyone made one, and then some time later, they were no longer huge. Not long after that, they were nearly extinct. They've enjoyed a minor renaissance in recent years thanks to the opening of more viable channels for lower budget games, but even now, they're nowhere near their former prominance. It's clear that the final blow was dealt by their progeny, the first-person shooter, but even before that, they had taken a heavy tumble. People simply got tired of the same old gameplay and settings. The biggest successes in the post-boom period of the genre try to mix up the themes and settings a bit, so that instead of always being a spaceship or a fighter plane, sometimes you're a gothic lolita witch or a princess riding on the back of a giant bug. It's a small shot of freshness for a genre that, for many, feels stale...

Hurtling endlessly forward, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, avoiding obstacles that will put a quick end to your trek. Collecting coins to upgrade abilities between rounds, completing missions to earn a rank up that adds to your multiplier. Grabbing a collectible item, you're sent soaring up to a bonus area packed full of coins. Maybe this time you'll finally earn enough coins to unlock those pricey new characters, each of whom has a unique trait. Skyline Skaters [Free] isn't going to win any awards for originality...

Donut Games has been around the iOS scene for quite a while now, and while they might not be the first name you think of when it comes to big hits on the platform, they've actually been quite successful with a number of their games. One of their first games, Monkey Flight [$1.99], proved to be a pretty big hit with its combination of gassy monkeys and gameplay somewhat reminiscent of Angry Birds [$0.99], and has enjoyed many updates in the half decade it's been out. Beyond the fact that monkeys are generally a pretty big crowdpleaser and that flinging animals at things is something of a national sport for mobile gamers, Monkey Flight also gave buyers a great value for a reasonable price. There are a ton of levels, and updates only added more, along with new modes of play...

If you've been waiting for the official mobile version of Trials, wait no longer: Trials Frontier [Free] is now available worldwide. Announced at E3 last year, Trials Frontier is a mobile-exclusive entry in the popular stunt biking series. Trials-like stunt bike games have been popular on iOS for years, but many have long been hoping for the real deal from Redlynx. Fans finally got their wish with the announcement of Trials Frontier, but there was also a sense of worry when it was revealed to be a free to play game...

Freebie Alert: 'Flying Hamster' and 'SunFlowers' Both Updated for Widescreen and Currently Free

I'm a big, big fan of shoot 'em ups, and one of my favorites is Game Atelier's Flying Hamster [$2.99 / $3.99 (HD)]. It's a good shooter in its own right, with tight controls, tons of enemies, cool power-ups and epic boss fights, but what really puts it over the top for me is its sheer absurdity. Seriously, chickens laying explosive golden eggs, cats getting wasted off of "root beer" and vomiting, and cows shooting milk at you from their udders like a mini-gun are the norm, and that's just in the first level...

Back at GDC last month, we sat down with developer One Man Left and took the new Brimstone Pinball mode in their frantic arcade game Tilt to Live 2 [$2.99] for a spin. In this mode, you'll be tilting to avoid things just like always, but you'll need to bounce around a fiery, evil pinball to destroy enemies. Our GDC video wasn't the greatest in terms of audio quality, but it did give you a good idea of the new mode. However, One Man Left has released an official trailer for Brimstone Pinball today, so you can get an even better look at how it works...

There are four types of people in this world: those who love Wipeout, those who love F-Zero, those who love both, and those with bad taste in racing games. When it comes to the battle for the best futuristic racer, it's been a real tug of war between those two franchises for years. F-Zero of course came first, but wasn't followed up on until after Psygnosis's brilliant launch of the Wipeout franchise. Wipeout took the crown in the 32/64-bit era, with F-Zero making a surprising comeback in the following generation with the SEGA-developed F-Zero GX, still one of the finest racing games ever made. Not content to sit on their laurels, the Wipeout team came into the next gen hard with what was one of the best-looking PlayStation 3 games for a very long time, Wipeout HD. Sadly, both franchises appear to be dormant, with Captain Falcon of F-Zero seeing more time Falcon Punching than driving the Blue Falcon, and nary of a whisper of Wipeout after the release of 2048 and the disbanding of Studio Liverpool...

Though I played my fair share of hockey in my youth, it may surprise you to find out that I am not a sportsman. I mean, unless downing an order of spice level 10 at the local curry restaurant counts as a sport now, but I suspect the Olympic Committee is going to give me a negative on that one. In spite of that, I really enjoy a variety of sports video games, even the ones based on sports I was never all that interested in before, like football and skateboarding. Looking at all of the sports out there, the biggest disparity in interest for me personally between watching/playing the real thing and indulging in the game version is with golf. I hope I don't offend any golf fans out there when I say that, for me, it's one of the most boring things around. Yet, for whatever reason, I love golf video games. From Golf on the NES to Links on the PC to Hot Shots Golf on PlayStation, I feel like I need to have at least one golf game on any gaming-capable hardware I own. Realism isn't even that important, as long as I get that satisfying feeling that comes from hearing that ball go into the little cup...

Flappy Bird haters: avert your eyes. All good? Ok. So the crazy Flappy Bird phenomenon has died down quite a bit since creator Dong Nguyen pulled the game from the App Store last month, but as we've seen with the likes of the Flappy Jam, some really awesome games have come from it. Noodlecake Games have thrown their Flap in the ring with their brand new release Flappy Golf [Free], itself a product of the Flappy Jam. It takes a similar structure and all the courses from their 2D golfing game Super Stickman Golf 2 [Free], but instead of aiming and determining the power of each individual shot you're simply flapping your ball along trying to get it in the cup. The goal is to get in the cup in as few flaps as possible. It's a simple idea, but it works really well and is a lot of fun...

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