Category Archives: Games

'Sky Force 2014' Review - A Modern Take On The Mobile Shoot-Em-Up

It's sometimes easy to forget how far mobile gaming has come in such a short time. Not even 10 years ago, people playing phone games were using ill-suited keypads to move sluggish characters around simple environments to fill the time while they waited for the bus. Almost none of the big game companies had their eye on the ball, and that left an opportunity for a bunch of smaller guys to get a lot more attention far more easily than they can today. As an example, just look at Sky Force. Originally released in 2004, developed by a four-person team in Poland, Sky Force's enjoyable mix of 1942 enemy patterns and Raiden-like visuals made it a big winner among early mobile gamers. It later enjoyed an enhanced port to other smartphones, with a choice of tilt or touch-based controls and a lot of features that were interesting at the time, like Open Feint. Like all too many games of that vintage, iOS updates eventually left Sky Force behind, sadly...

On the list of things I would never have guessed I'd be playing on my iPhone in 2014, a rhythm game from SNK based on the King of Fighters franchise has to rank pretty highly. I'm not going to question what led SNK to make their first new music game in over 13 years, but given how fondly I remember their last one, I'm glad to see them return to the genre, even if it's in quite a different form. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that most people haven't played SNK's Cool Cool Toon for the SEGA Dreamcast, given it was a fairly late Japan-only release, but if you have, The Rhythm of Fighters [$0.99] borrows heavily from it, along with a little inspiration from Theatrhythm Final Fantasy [Free]...

If you’re into water physics puzzlers, H2FLOW [$1.99] by Haptix Games is the latest entry into the mix. Differentiating itself from the rest of the pack is the fusion of a few elements from other genres, making it part-action, part-puzzler with water physics tying it all together. Alas, some significant issues with controls, combined with an exceptional emphasis on difficulty may take the game beyond the typical casual audience for such puzzlers. However, endure and you’re left with a satisfying, though challenging, experience...

Thanks to the relatively low barrier to entry, the App Store is filled with labors of love. Compared to most other times in gaming's fairly short history, it's less difficult to get a game together and out in front of the public's eyes, even if you have a small team and no budget, so it's no surprise we see a lot of people making homages to their childhood favorites or putting together something that approximates their dream game. Arcane Ghosts [$1.99] is one such labor of love, a letter written with care to express affection for the side-scrolling action games of old, with a particular eye towards Capcom's Ghosts 'n' Goblins series. That series is famous for a few things, but mainly for being a very frustrating game with unusual, yet tight, controls. Arcane Ghosts gets almost all of that right except the most important part...

Last week, we got wind that animator and designer David O'Reilly, famous for his work on Spike Jonze' Her, Adventure Time, and shorts like The External World, was submitting his first game to the App Store. In a rare Tuesday morning release, Mountain [$0.99] is now available...

The last three major LEGO releases on iOS certainly represent quite the platter. LEGO The Lord of the Rings [$4.99], as a shared release with the other major handheld game systems, was cut down from the console versions in many respects, offering a few decent-sized hubs but taking out the interesting RPG elements. Still, while some parts were lost, the levels at least stayed fairly faithful to the console title. Then, we got a port of LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga [Free], which seemed to be a fairly direct port of the console games and, perhaps significantly, did not release on the 3DS and PlayStation Vita. I've mentioned this in earlier LEGO reviews, but it's worth repeating for context's sake. The entire handheld LEGO line's design is held back by the weakest hardware in the group, and that still, to this very day, includes the original Nintendo DS...

'Tales of the Adventure Company' Review - A Fine Tale, Indeed

Seeing a remarkable resurgence on the App Store lately, developers seem to have flocked to the rogue-like to try and create the next cool simplified adventure. Tales of the Adventure Company [$1.99] tackles this trend in a different manner, by combining some of those rogue elements with a traditional, tile-based puzzler’s look and feel. It also succeeds at melding these genres to a degree far higher than most games, making it an excellent combination of puzzle and strategic depth...

Today's law enforcement officers have many tools at their disposal for catching bad guys. Tasers, handguns, tear gas, forensic investigation, DNA testing, and more are used to their utmost effectiveness to keep normal citizens like you and me safe from nefarious fellows. Vigilantes, too, have their tricks, whether it's martial arts skills, expensive tank cars, or goopy web fluid. However, some criminals are so devious that they fall between the cracks of the police and superheroes. The secret to stopping them is known only to two entities: Macaulay Culkin and the developers of Get Fiquette [$1.99]...

One of the things I've had to get used to about living in Japan is the existence of a rainy season. As I write this review, we're coming off a solid week of rain. It rains all night, it rains all day, breaking just long enough to convince you to leave your house without an umbrella before recommencing in full swing. It's an annoying part of every year because it's really hard to get things done when it's raining all the time. The positive side of that situation is that sometimes you really can't get anything done, and you are kind of forced to relax inside your house with nothing but time on your hands, a bit of a rarity in adult life. I have no idea if it was the intention of the developer, but Rainblocks [Free], the new puzzle game from Subaku [$1.99] creator Let's Playing, very much feels like a rainy day in some ways...

Die-hard Kemco fans, or sufferers as we are known to normal people, know that for whatever reason, Kemco's games usually hit Android before iOS. Typically, the iOS versions lag behind by a month or two, but there have been a couple of instances where Kemco skipped to the next game instead. As of this month, one of those two skipped titles has finally seen release on iOS, some eight months after the Android release. For any other publisher, that's not a very long time, but for Kemco, that's somewhere around eight releases ago, and as a result, Link of Hearts [$3.99] feels a bit outdated in several respects. Well, more outdated than usual, I guess I should say...

Just imagine how great the world would be if everything lived up to its potential. We'd have flying cars, safe clean-burning energy for all, a Stanley Cup-winning team in Vancouver, and Elthinia [$2.99] wouldn't be a terrible mess of a game. Unfortunately, here in the real world, potential sometimes amounts to very little except disappointment. If you play Elthinia, and I strongly assert that you should not, you can see the potential all over the place. The battle artwork is really good, the story is extremely detailed, character progression and customization are surprisingly deep, and the world seems like a place I'd like to explore. The first problem is that this is very clearly not a finished product. To be very fair, I waited until the game had its first patch since it was supposed to be coming quickly and fixing some very important things. Well, the game is still full of bugs, both major and minor, but the game is out there on the store for anyone to buy, so it's fair game for criticism...

If you're not playing Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign [Free], now's as good a time as any to start: with a steady stream of updates, content, characters, and tweaks, the game is better now than it was nine months ago when it was released. Marvel Puzzle Quests's most recent update, rolled out earlier this week, introduces "True Healing," however, much to the chagrin of its most vocal fans...

Halfbrick Studios' Age of Zombies [$0.99] is a preeetttyyy old game by iOS standards, launching way back in October of 2010, but it's actually even older than that as it was originally a PlayStation Mini title released earlier that year in February. Mobile games don't tend to have a long lifespan, so it was kind of incredible that Halfbrick up and decided to update Age of Zombies earlier this month with actual new content in the form of a rideable zombie T-Rex and MFi controller support. Not bad for a 4+ year old game. Well, Halfbrick apparently wasn't done, because there's yet another Age of Zombies update that popped up today, which adds even more new content than the last update did...

Card battles and rogue-likes probably aren’t a combination you necessarily think about, but that’s exactly what you get in Dream Quest [$2.99]. It may sound weird, but it actually works very well, with some potentially deep gameplay that keeps you coming back for more. Unfortunately, outside of the battle system there’s a lot to be desired, but Dream Quest still has enough going for it to be worth exploring...

While I enjoy a big budget RPG production like any fan of the genre does, I'm also a pretty big fan of checking out what the little guys are up to. That's because when it comes to RPGs, perhaps more than most genres, you don't need a huge budget or a massive studio to realize your gameplay ideas. It doesn't hurt, mind you, but it's arguable that the very core of video game RPGs is in realizing abstract ideas through more practical means. It's why companies like Atlus and Falcom who work with budgets many times smaller than someone like Square-Enix are still able to capture the hearts of RPG lovers just the same. To be honest, finding an innovative RPG with ideas that connect well with me tends to be a bit rare, but the enjoyment I get from them when I do find them makes the search more than worthwhile...

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