Category Archives: $0.99

'CombineRobot' Review - Mecha Match Three

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January 29th, 2016 2:00 PM EST by Chris Carter in $0.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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Match-three is one of those genres that will be around forever. Years after we're immersing ourselves in full consumer-grade VR, Match-three will still be rampant on portable devices and wearable tech. It's inevitable. But while many of them stick to the same formula, CombineRobot [$0.99] aims to do something different -- both thematically and mechanically -- and I admire it for that...

When it comes to modern games trying to pay tribute to retro classics, nailing the balance between making a fun modern game and an appropriate homage is really tough. It can be done – Shovel Knight on console and PC is a fantastic example of how to pay tribute to Mega Man, Castlevania, and the like. And we look at Horizon Chase [Free] on mobile, which did an amazing job at balancing out the feel of retro racing games while not being as clunky, frustrating, and unfair as many of those games were. There's a balance to be had. Venture Kid [$0.99] from FDG Entertainment clearly wants to pay tribute to Mega Man in everything it's about, and in doing so, it's kind of a solid platformer, but it mostly just misses the point of what made the game it's paying tribute to so great...




'Swapperoo' Review - Rage Against The Matching

I remember hearing that people were so obsessed with Tetris in the 80’s that when they’d close their eyes they’d still see the pieces falling and fitting together in their mind. It’s called the Tetris Effect, and I’ve always thought it was weird that people considered it strange enough to warrant its own name. Pretty much anything I get super into will start to invade my thoughts and dreams when I close my eyes. Isn’t that pretty normal? Why is Tetris special? Certainly there are plenty of iOS games that give me the same “effect” when I play them long enough. Like Swapperoo [$0.99], for instance...

Swapperoo [$0.99] is the latest title from Fallen Tree Games, developers of the wonderful Quell series. It released a bit late and kind of missed the whole weekly release post thing, but that's no reason for it to fly under the radar, it's too stinking awesome! Somehow, Fallen Tree has managed to make a match-3 game that's actually interesting, unique, and highly strategic. I figured that train had sailed from the airport a long time ago, but I'm happy to have been proven wrong. ..

It feels like in the past year or so we've seen a ton of really old iOS games get modern updates out of the blue. It's a great thing too, as the entirely digital medium of iOS gaming can feel a bit expendable when iOS updates can break games or new screen sizes and hardware features are released and the developers of classi games are no longer around to do anything about it. It's crazy to say "classic" and actually mean games that are 5 or 6 years old, espeically when I have some NES games that are 30 years old that still work like the day they were released (with a little blowing into the cartridge or wiggling it in the slot, of course). Anyway, it warms my heart when I see an old game get new life and find a new audience by way of being updated, and that's exactly what has happened with the classic dual-stick shooter Circuit_Strike.One [$0.99]...

Having grown up with a controller in my hand, I've learned quite a few skills by way of video games, ranging from vocabulary enhancements, to motor skills, and even things like geography. One of the more practical things I picked up though is general sports knowledge. In fact, it's where I first learned golf, with my uncle breaking down the specific function of each club, and when to use them.  But the game of golf never really took for me, and to really get into the sport of it, I needed a bit of persuasion, sometimes of the fantastical variety. Enter Kirby's Dream Course on the SNES, with wonderful gimmicks like ball morphing and leaping over pitfalls and other hazards, and I was in. I never thought that 20 years later, I'd be writing about a similar experience on iOS, but here we are with Frank the Dillo [$0.99]...

'Cut the Rope: Magic' Review - I Smell Swipes and Candy

'Cut the Rope: Magic' Review - I Smell Swipes and Candy

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January 4th, 2016 11:00 AM EST by Nathan Reinauer in $0.99, 4.5 stars, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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Angry Birds [$0.99]. There are cartoons, toys, T-shirts, stuffed animals, and even a movie coming soon starring Bill Hader and Peter Dinklage. And you know what? That’s great! Good for Rovio. They made a fun game that connected with lots of people and licenced the crap out of it. For my money, though, I always thought Cut the Rope [$1.99] was a better fit for all that. Om Nom is just a better character, in my opinion. I mean, just look at the way his face drops when that giant round candy misses his mouth! Angry Birds, on the other hand, are… well, they’re angry. Cool. Of course, there is tons of Cut the Rope merch already out there (and apparently a somewhat smaller movie in the works), but it’s nowhere near as much as those darn Birds. It’s a shame, too, because I’ve always thought Cut the Rope was a slightly better game. And in my opinion, Cut the Rope: Magic [$0.99] is the best one yet...

Remember that wacky, over-the-top short film riff on kung-fu movies called 'Kung Fury' which took the internet by storm back in May? You may also recall that a mobile tie-in game was released alongside it called Kung Fury: Street Rage [Free], and at that time it was little more than an endless, high-score-chasing beat 'em up with left/right combat mechanics similar to something like One Finger Death Punch [Free] or Fatal Fight [Free]. Now, that wasn't exactly a bad thing, as Kung Fury was a lot of fun for a high-scoring game and the production values were totally on-point, nailing the look and feel of an '80s-era arcade game. It's just that it felt like it could have been so much more; a full-fledged brawler like Final Fight or Streets of Rage...

I'm so glad that so many old school conventions are still commonplace in this industry. Tons of retro genres are seeing a resurgence, particularly roguelikes and adventure titles, and a lot of them end up on the mobile platform, bringing the meeting of old and new full circle. Tales of a Viking: Episode One [$0.99] has a few fundamental flaws for sure, but it handles grid-based combat with more grace than a lot of its competitors...

'AirAttack 2' Review - Stunning Shooting

When people claim that gameplay takes precedent above all else, including visual fidelity, I ask, "why not both?" There have been plenty of games that have pushed the envelope in just about every facet imaginable, including the recent Witcher 3 from CD Projekt Red. The same goes for mobile titles, which are pushing boundaries far beyond what I thought was initially capable when the App Store first debuted so many years back. We're starting to see full console experiences on portable devices, and AirAttack 2 [$2.99] is one such game that doesn't even feel like it should be possible given the hardware...

As regular readers know, I play a lot of interactive fiction games. Visual novels, gamebooks, text adventures, I enjoy them all just the same. While I'm often pleasantly surprised by the writing or structure of these games, it's quite rare for me to come across something that is different from a gameplay perspective. Veteran gamebook developer Tin Man Games has been full of surprises recently, however, so I suppose I should start expecting things like Choices: And The Sun Went Out [Free]. It's a choice-based adventure with a couple of clever twists, with chief among them being that it's not finished. Okay, that's normally a bad thing to say about a game, but in the case of Choices, it's actually its main hook. Rather than presenting a complete story that players can purchase up-front, Choices instead offers a subscription-based model where new content arrives every week, building on the story bit by bit...

I mentioned recently in my review of Baseball Apocalypse [$0.99] that I love impossible games. One of those games comes from developer/publisher Invictus. Now, Invictus puts out a lot of games, very few of which actually interest me, though they seem to have found their footing in the last couple years. There are a handful of gems in their library that really truly shine. I'm talking the supremely elegant Greed Corp [$0.99], the heavy metal monster mash Tap 'n Slash [Free], and the game that I name dropped in said review, Give It Up! [$0.99]. While the original game grew with a handful of updates, a sequel was being made, and that sequel is pretty magnificent. I give you Give It Up! 2 [$0.99]. (I'd have gone with something like Give It Up Again! but I digress)..

Sometimes, in life, the earth starts bursting at the seams with magma and fire while meteors and little chibi zombie para-troopers rain down endlessly from the sky and giant slime monsters slug their way across the earth. Sometimes, a baseball playing Robot gets caught up in all of that mess, and decides that if he’s going to go down, he’s literally going down swinging. And also hitting. And sometimes striking out. Such is the premise of Baseball Apocalypse [$0.99] from Thomas Janson...

There have been many games on iOS that tried to ride on the coattails of Nintendo's Pokemon, but very few have much merit to them. One of the better attempts came from NTT Resonant and ZigZaGame. It was called Dragon Island Blue [$0.99], and while it had its rough points, it scratched the urge to catch 'em all well enough for many. The sequel to that game, Hunter Island [$0.99], basically did what a great follow-up should. It took all of the strong points of the original game, addressed some of the weak points, and added in a few new things of its own. Neo Monsters [$0.99], in spite of ditching the Island naming theme, is for all intents and purposes the newest game in the series. I wish I could say it does for Hunter Island what that game did for its predecessor, but Neo Monsters seems less interested in how it can improve on the previous games and more interested in how it can get some of that fine Puzzle & Dragons [Free] cheddar...

I still remember the wild west of touchscreen development years ago, when people said that platformers would never work. While many classics have been ported by way of MFi controls, a lot of others stuck it to the naysayers with inventive on-screen control methods, or a design philosophy that accommodates accordingly. Count Crunch's Candy Curse [$0.99] is definitely manageable even without the help of an MFi device, but it doesn't really seek to do much more than that...

The Old West era of American history is pretty crazy. Not only could you die from disease, poverty, weather or any number of dangers of the time, but if some fella didn't like the cut of your jib in the saloon he might just pull out his six shooter and end you right there on the spot. If that fella was a bit more democratic, though, you might settle a squabble with a good old-fashioned shootout. But that was more than 100 years ago, what about in the future? Well the only logical conclusion is that those shootout scenarios will still happen but they'll take place in space. Obviously. That's the premise behind Space Noon [$0.99 (HD)]. Aim at the opponent across from you and fire, but be sure to consider the gravitational pull of the asteroids in your line of sight. These are NOT straight shooters...

Earlier this year, developer Sean Kearney released One Play Pong [Free] on iOS. It was a "circular Pong" style game that allowed you to bat a tiny ball back and forth without the messiness of interacting with other people. It was a simple and fun game that had a hilarious and catchy trailer. Well, when the Apple TV was announced and Kearney decided to bring One Player Pong to it, rather than simply port the existing game he decided to take things up a notch by adding new music, new graphics, local leaderboards for couch competition, and special power-ups. The result is Super One Player Pong, now available on the Apple TV. He also took the trailer-making up a notch, check it out...

With all the recent drama surrounding iOS 9 breaking a bunch of games, you might be apt to think this sort of thing is a new problem. It isn't, iOS updates have been breaking games for years! Around this time last year, iOS 8 broke one of our all-time favorite games, Helsing's Fire [$0.99 / $2.99 (HD)]. From developer Lucas Pope, who also created Papers, Please [$7.99 (HD)], Helsing's Fire originally launched way back in July of 2010 and quickly won our hearts with its unique "illuminating" puzzle gameplay and its oodles of personality. ..

'Monkeyrama' Review - We’re Just Tryin’ To Be Friendly

Shortly before iOS took over my life, one of my favorite games was Boom Blox on the Wii. It was the brainchild of a little known game designer by the name of Steven Spielberg (who also dabbles in film, I’m told), and it was absurdly fun. There’s something about huge explosions and large structures toppling over that delights the eight year old boy in me, and Boom Blox (and especially it’s sequel, Bash Party) took over my free time for countless weeks. Ever since those days I’ve been yearning for something like that on mobile, and while there have been a couple physics-based games that provide a similar feeling (my favorite being Turbo Dismount [Free]), none have quite captured the floaty, block-on-block destruction I’ve craved since 2009. [Dramatic pause.] ...That is, until now...

I've always felt the best action games have a certain underlying rhythm to them. In those games, levels are designed in such a way that the skilled player rarely has to stop, a sort of drumbeat of attack, jump, dash, and whatever other moves are in the character's repertoire. Auto-runners pull back the curtain entirely, particularly the ones that have pre-designed levels. You have no choice but to move forward, and if you can't keep the beat, the beat will beat you. There's a purity to that concept that works well, so well that even mighty Mario has included the odd auto-run stage or two in his latest adventures. The more precisely the player has to match the designer's beat, the more difficult the game becomes. Many games of this sort use a gentle curve to slowly nudge the player's skill up bit by bit. Then there are games like Jump Jack [$0.99]...

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