Category Archives: Arcade

'Doug Dug.' Review - Grab Your Shovel And Dig In!

For the life of me, I really don't understand why I find digging so much fun. Whether it's digging at the beach, at the park, in the shoe section of Walmart, or in a video game, I really seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of displacing soil. If you think I'm weird, think of all the awesome video games about digging: Dig Dug, Mr. Driller [$4.99], Super Mario Bros. 2, Minecraft [$6.99], and Steamworld Dig, just to name a few highlights. Now, I'll grant you that in some of those games, digging is just a portion of the game, but there are quite a few games that center around the idea. Doug Dug [$1.99], the new game from pixa [$2.99] developers The Electric Toy Company, is all about digging for treasure and the risk versus reward that presents itself from the concept...

Fluid SE [$1.99] from Radiangames is perhaps the most hardcore of all of their releases on iOS. Granted, many of the dual-stick shooters like JoyJoy [$1.99] are very much games for core gamers, the ones who like intense action and watching things go boom, versus, say, SideSwype [$1.99] and its puzzle-y-ness. But no, Fluid SE is for the person who wants to repeat a challenge again and again, trying to shave fractions of a second off of their best times...

Even on devices that survive and thrive using non-conventional control methods, tilt controls are somewhat controversial among players. Some people find them a bit hard to control or inaccurate, while others are unsurprisingly using their mobile devices outside of their homes and don't want to draw attention to themselves. Those in favor of tilting usually point to the more natural feeling it sometimes offers, along with delegating fewer actions to on-screen buttons or sticks. Usually, developers who want to use the tilt feature do their best to accommodate everyone, but sometimes a game comes along where the tilt controls are inseparable from the game itself. A great example of this is the excellent Tilt To Live [$2.99], a game that typically appeals even to people who aren't big fans of motion controls. Even in the case of that game, some people just aren't convinced...

Over in the tiny mobile area of EA's massive E3 booth, EA Sports was showing off their arcadey take on golf King of the Course [Free], which they launched worldwide earlier in the day to coincide with the start of E3. Despite the normal free-to-play-isms like power-ups and in-game currency, King of the Course is actually a surprisingly fun (and incredibly unrealistic) way to play golf, and it seems really well suited to mobile...

'99 Bricks: Wizard Academy' Review - An Excellent Twist On Tetris

Tetris [$0.99] is one awesome game. I personally consider it one of the best games ever made, and certainly one of the closest to pure perfection. While most other games are work-in-progress designs that eventually have to be snipped off, polished up, and released, Tetris's big coming-out releases on Game Boy and NES were essentially flawless realizations of the design's potential. Other than catching up with technology like internet play, what do you really add to Tetris to make it better? Every attempt to change the game in some way has resulted in, at best, a lateral move, and at worst, an absolute disaster. Well, 99 Bricks: Wizard Academy [$0.99] offers a few interesting answers to my question, and while it's probably not a better game, it's a more than worthy side-trip for fans of that classic...

While it has its share of problems, most of which are outlined in my review of the game, Bubble Witch Saga 2 [Free] is a pretty enjoyable way to kill a couple of minutes here and there. It's a bit of an oddball in King's lineup thanks to how strongly success depends on getting a lucky distribution of bubbles, but even when winning is futile, you can still sharpen up your skills for the next round. Having picked my way through all of the currently available stages, I've managed to put together a list of tips and advice for those of you trying to make your way through. Of course, if you've played the original game of this type, Taito's Bust-A-Move, or one of its many, many clones, you've probably already got a lot of great techniques in your arsenal, and I'll be going through a few of those here, but Bubble Witch has a few twists that require some specific strategies...

Rolling Zimro [$0.99] is an endless runner with a gimmick. Actually, it's an endless runner with two gimmicks, but one of them is just set dressing. First, and most obviously, this game has a big old coat of recreational drug culture paint covering it from head to toe. The main character is a thinly-veiled pot-farmer, some of the enemies look kind of like bongs, the name of the currency you're collecting is 'munchies', and most of the power-ups are drug references. That's going to be a selling point for some people and a turn-off for others, but personally, I'm kind of indifferent...

Candy Crush Saga [Free] creator King has a fairly extensive catalog of puzzle games it has developed over the last several years. Their iOS lineup is just a small fraction of what it has released, though it's fairly representative of King's strengths and weaknesses. I think it's fairly safe to say at this point that its games have very broad appeal, with people of both genders, all ages, and many walks of life having a great time playing them. I think it's also pretty well-known that its games are really, really hard, and sometimes it's difficult to tell if things are rigged against you just to sell you IAP or simply just randomly cruel to keep you from flying through the games. I think it's also widely-accepted that many of its games owe a very large debt to existing puzzle games. King's match-3 games, like Candy Crush or Farm Heroes Saga [Free], use familiar mechanics and add a few twists, with the result being at least as original as, say, Dr. Mario is to Tetris [$0.99]...

Back in March, Bossa Studios brought their hit, medically inaccurate surgeon simulation game Surgeon Simulator [$5.99 (HD)] to the iPad. It was strange though. You'd think a game that has you virtually handling tools to perform operations would translate better to the touchscreen of the iPad, giving everything a more direct and personal feel. But that wasn't really the case. It turns out the awkwardness of using individual keys on a keyboard to control your surgeon's hand was a big part of the charm of Surgeon Simulator, and while the iPad does feel intentionally awkward in its own way, it just wasn't quite the same. However, the iPad version of Surgeon Simulator is still a hoot and it's fun to be able to take it with you on the go...

One of my very favorite releases of 2014, Glorkian Warrior: Trials Of Glork [$0.99], has just received an update adding Game Center achievements, new tilt controls, and language support for Italian, French, Spanish and German. Das ist gut! Game Center achievements are pretty self-explanatory, and should offer further goals beyond just getting high scores for those goal-oriented gamers. As for tilt controls, well, I'm not typically a fan of them, and that remains true here too. But, they work just fine, so for those who have been asking for tilt controls in Glorkian Warrior, your prayers have been answered...

You can't help but be won over by some games on pure charm, and Aliens Drive Me Crazy [$1.99] certainly did that for me. I play a lot of games, so it's pretty rare for a game to give me the sort of reaction where I wonder what the heck is going on, the whole time with a smile on my face. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the opening cut-scene, which shows aliens abducting gangsters, turning into clones of them, then going on a rampage as our hero watches from his window. He takes to his car to settle some business, and the game begins...

Developer Radiangames has released a few cool puzzle games recently, but it's been a while since Radiangames last visited the shooting genre on iOS. Since their twin-stick shooters are among the best available on the App Store, it's a more than welcome return. Of course, JoyJoy [$1.99] represents a return in more than one way, since it's actually a revamped version of one of the developer's oldest games. You would think that would put the game in a hard position, launching among its successors and all, but it does enough to differentiate itself to make it worth owning for any fan of the genre...

I tend to think that gamers are probably better than the average person at coordinating their left and right hands, thanks to years of hard training on concepts like making Mario jump and move to the right at the same time, which is something my mother may not ever grasp. Well, after playing dEXTRIS [Free] for a while, I find myself rethinking just how well ol' lefty and righty play together, even after all this time as partners. Although the title of this game first made me think of Tetris [$0.99], this game is actually another one of those short, super-hard, reflex-based challenges that have become so prolific since Terry Cavanagh's Super Hexagon [$2.99] released a couple of years back. I should stress, having played quite a few of these, dEXTRIS is actually a fairly distant cousin, mostly evoking similar feelings as you play rather than actually spinning off from Hexagon's gameplay like many others...

You might remember us posting the trailer for Bonsai Slice [Free], a slicing game that, rather than having you use your finger to make slicing gestures on the touchscreen, had you swiping your iOS device itself through the air to slice objects within a set time limit. It was a bit gimmicky, but a very cool gimmick, as it used the gyroscope to its full potential and had you literally playing in the real space all around your body. The one odd thing about Bonsai Slice was that it was iPad-only. Motion controlled games typically fare better on the smaller iOS devices, especially one that has you using your device to emulate a sword. I mean, I have pretty big hands, but I'm not really that great about palming a full-sized iPad...

One of the App Store's gifts that keep on giving, Frogmind's Badland [$3.99], has received yet another update, this time adding an interesting cooperative multiplayer mode. Fans of Badland already know that its multitude of single-player levels are a blast, but one of the under the radar features of the game has always been its competitive same-device multiplayer. Racing against your "friends" towards the end of a level and "accidentally" slamming them into a giant saw blade is some of the most fun you can have huddled around an iOS device. Today's update puts a twist on that by offering modified versions of all 40 Day I levels so they can be completed cooperatively with up to four players...

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