Category Archives: $0.99

Some of my favorite mobile games are ones that can be played with one hand in quick sessions. After all, if you have your phone always with you, then why not fill any empty gaps by playing a game? I love deeper experiences as well, but the ones I keep coming back to are the games that I can play for short bursts. It's what makes Clash Royale [Free] so compelling and replayable, and why I've sunk a lot more time in something like Boom Dots [Free] than you'd probably expect from such a simple game. So is the case with Super Arc Light [$1.99]. It's a minimalist high-score shooter that takes definite cues from Super Hexagon [$2.99]. It's a game I raise plenty of issues with, but I can't complain about it too much, since it scratches my one-handed pick-up-and-play itch quite well...

You would definitely be forgiven for looking at the screenshots in this review and assuming this game was some kind of clone or expansion DLC for Monument Valley [$3.99]. But aside from the Escher-esque optical illusions in the levels, the design, mechanics, and even the other aspects of the aesthetics offer something completely different. And while Dream Machine: The Game [$0.99] isn’t quite the masterwork that Monument Valley is, it’s a beautiful, memorable 3D puzzle game, and a premium one with no IAP to boot...




Pako - Car Chase Simulator [$0.99] from Tree Men Games is marching towards its 2nd birthday this coming summer, and what a "ride" it's been thus far (pun totally intended). When it originally launched in August of 2014 Pako was a stylish but simplistic high-scoring game all about trying to drive around with no brakes for as long as possible while avoiding obstacles and police cars. It's still about that at its core, but Pako has seen a ton of updates since its release, like new environments to drive in along with new vehicles to drive. This has given Tree Men the opportunity to expand the boundaries of Pako with unique levels like the Arena which allows you to choose what vehicle you use, the Moon with its crazy gravity, the Desert which is an actual race against other cars, or the Airport which has you starting out as a human on foot and lets you hop into any vehicle you come across, including luggage carts, tiny aircraft, and stair cars (You're going to get some hop-ons). Oh! How could I forget my favorite level the Hockey arena which lets you cruise around on the ice in a Zamboni and even run into a giant puck which you can launch into the net to score a goal?..

I think there's a pretty good game buried somewhere in The First Tactics [$0.99]. It's hard to be sure at times because there are so many bad choices with the presentation. If you can cut through the obvious vestiges of the game being designed as free-to-play, and somehow comprehend an extremely poor English localization that only makes things more confusing the more it tries to explain itself, you'll find a small-scale yet pleasingly complex turn-based strategy game. I'm just not sure if the good part of the game is worth dealing with the multiple barriers it's encased in, particularly in a genre that has so many strong examples on the platform that don't require you to jump through such hoops...

We've known Magic Cube for years as makers of simple but fun mobile games like the Infect Them All series, Call of Snakes [$0.99] and its various spinoffs, and plenty more. This week however they've launched their first game as a publisher, called Karma Ball Z [$0.99]. The game is developed by MinjeongKim (36) Studio who previously released 4Legs [Free], a completely absurd "art jump performance game" where you play as a centaur trying to jump high into space while collecting carrots and radishes and avoiding getting killed by an enemy wearing a horse head and a sombrero. Um, yeah. Karma Ball Z is the follow-up to that game, and it's basically just as crazy. You play as the same centaur character, named Super Karma Centa, who must defend the planet against the evil horse aliens who are invading Earth. You do this by thinking dumb thoughts which allow you to gather energy in your hands and shoot powerful Super Karma Bombs at those pesky horse aliens. Also you have a combat wig. Here's the nonsensical trailer...

'Tennis Champs Returns' Review - A New Definition of Love

Sports video games are in a tough spot, in my opinion. They have benefited greatly from hardware advancement over the decades, and are able to offer much more accurate simulations of their real-life counterparts with things like incredible graphics and advanced physics and AI. But along with that sports games have undoubtedly become more complex, and are often difficult to approach with their many button inputs and moves. I also feel that sometimes sports games fail to capture the essence of the sport they're trying to mimic, as even though the action on screen is faithful the their real-life counterparts it often doesn't "feel" like you're actually playing that sport. More like just inputting your button combinations and watching what unfolds...

'Pull My Tongue' Review - Harm a Harm a Harm a Chameleon

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February 12th, 2016 2:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $0.99, 4 stars, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

For me, one of the marks of a good puzzle game is when the main mechanics are so simple and intuitive that you have a hard time seeing how the game could possibly get challenging--and then it does. Pull My Tongue [$0.99], the latest game published by Noodlecake, is kinda like that. The first level introduces you to the core concept, which basically never changes: There’s a lizard who wants a piece of popcorn, and all you need to do is pull the tongue out of his mouth until it reaches his buttery prize. Sure, the game eventually starts adding more things to get in his way, but at the end of the day you’ll still be simply stretching the tongue to the popcorn...

As I've said before, there's nothing wrong with chilling out with a mindless arcade game. I grew up playing flashy shooters and beat 'em ups just as often as deep RPGs and point and click adventure games, and both philosophies scratch certain itches on any given day. The former mindset is most evident in Call of Commander [$0.99], which has some RPG elements, but mostly caters towards the part of your brain that likes to shut itself off...

'CombineRobot' Review - Mecha Match Three

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January 29th, 2016 2:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in $0.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

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 [$2.99], for instance...

Swapperoo [$2.99] 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 EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $0.99, 4.5 stars, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

Angry Birds [Free]. 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 [$0.99] 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 [Free]. (I'd have gone with something like Give It Up Again! but I digress)..

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