Category Archives: $1.99

'ALONE' Review - Forever Alone

With all the gimmicks endless runners tend to have bolted on them these days, it's sometimes easy to forget that it all started with just a simple score attack. No IAPs, no coins, no cosmetic upgrades, no power-ups, just an endless, increasingly difficult, randomized stage and a challenge to see how far you can go before inevitably failing. That's not to say gimmicks are bad, as they can be quite a lot of fun. Just look at Jetpack Joyride [Free], which is so loaded with stuff you could almost forget about the goal of going farther in favor of collecting things and still have tons of fun. There's something about that pure experience, however. It's something I greatly appreciated in Boson X [$0.99], and it's something I very much enjoy here in ALONE [$1.99]...

The genre label 'Metroidvania' is a combination of Metroid and Castlevania, referring to just about any Metroid game and the post-Symphony of the Night Castlevania games largely overseen by Koji Igarashi. The genre itself, though, stretches back pretty far, and there's at least one series concurrent to Metroid and well before Symphony that hasn't really gotten its due in the grand history of things. I'm referring to Westone's Monster World series, which spun of out the action-oriented Wonder Boy, got a lot of confusing localizations and revisions, and sadly bowed out after the 16-bit console generation. It's a great series that had a lot of clear influence on later titles such as Shantae [$2.99], but seems to get little credit for its contributions to the genre. With that in mind, I am not going to call Ninja Smasher [$1.99] a Metroidvania. It's a non-linear action game with a big, interconnected map where you find new abilities to open up new routes, but at least in my estimation, this game is taking notes less from Metroid or Igarashi's Castlevania and more from Westone's colorful, cartoonish adventures...

Having just finished my review of the final episode of The Walking Dead Season Two [$4.99], I thought it might be nice to decompress with a little pinball, as I often do after finishing a story-heavy game. Luckily for me, the developers behind Zen Pinball [Free] just released a thematically-appropriate new table as both a standalone app and an in-app purchase within the regular app. The Walking Dead Pinball [$1.99] follows most of the well-established trappings of Zen Studios's take on silverball, so it's hard to say if people burnt out on their offerings will be all that excited with it. For fans of The Walking Dead game, however, it brings just enough of the character of Season One [Free] to make it worth checking out...

It's been almost four years since the original They Need To Be Fed [$0.99] made its way from PCs to iOS. We at TouchArcade liked it a lot when we reviewed it then, and when its follow-up appeared on the App Store last year, we liked that one a lot, too. Well, just last week, Bit Ate Bit released They Need To Be Fed 3 [$1.99], and it's no surprise that I like it a lot. I'm sure nobody was expecting them to punt on this when they've got the formula down, though, so the bigger question is whether, with a shorter span of time between sequels, Bit Ate Bit was able to up the ante the way they did with the second game...

In a burst of stunning pixel art and a flourish of chip tunes, Sunny Side Games has landed on the app store with The Firm [$0.99]. This developer has strong momentum with follow up game Towaga already in the works. From a glance at their site, you can see their commitment to visual presentation, the only question is do their games live up to the fanfare that is on display...

'Rules!' Review - Have Fun Finding The Limits Of Your Memory

Like your body, your brain needs exercise to stay in shape, and the older you get, the more you're fighting nature to achieve that goal. While gamers have no shortage of ways to give their grey matter a good old kicking, we rarely have to push against the limits of our short-term memory. Back in the day, we'd have to remember all kinds of stupid cheat code commands, passwords, and directions to play, but passwords and directions gave way to saves and maps, and cheat codes turned into IAP, removing quite a bit of the strain placed on that part of the brain. I mean, unless you're a hardcore fighting game player. Those guys are pros at remembering phone numbers, I tell you. The developers of the iOS adaptation of Carcassonne [$9.99] have got a new game that will give your flabby memory a workout, though, and it's actually quite a bit of fun...

Square Enix Montreal's stylized, puzzle-fied take on the Hitman series, Hitman GO [$4.99], is currently on sale for just two bucks, down from its normal price of $4.99. This is the first time the game has been on sale since it launched this past April. If you somehow haven't heard of Hitman GO these past few months, it's a turn-based puzzle game built around the Hitman series of games. Each level has you trying to take out a target or targets and get to an endpoint, and it's all dressed up with really neat diorama-style visuals. Here's a trailer...

Way back in November of 2010, developer Jesse Venbrux released a wonderful little puzzle platformer called They Need To Be Fed [$0.99 / Free]. It had you playing an adorable, armless little silhouette character with big eyes and a curlycue of hair as you traversed many different kinds of platforms and avoided deadly hazards on your way to the end goal of each level, which was to sacrifice yourself into the gaping maw of a monster. Why? Because they need to be fed, that's why. What made They Need To Be Fed so special was its focus on gravity. Each platform was a little planetoid with its own gravitational pull, and working with that gravity was the key to moving past all the hazards and collecting all the gems on each level. It was a lot like a 2D Super Mario Galaxy...

There really aren't enough decent 3D platformers on the App Store. There are quite a few good side-scrolling platformers, but even the companies with IP and money behind them seem reluctant to fill the 3D gap. Maybe it's the cost, perhaps it's a perceived issue with controls, or it might even just be down to the waning popularity of the genre in the hobby on the whole. Whatever the reason is, it leaves an opening for a game like Angel In Danger 3D [$1.99] to make its mark. It's not a particularly great game, and I'm not sure if it actually has even one idea to call its own, but it's challenging, competently-made, and by default is one of the better games on iOS to ape Mario's 3D style...

Publisher Bulkypix isn't making a lot of noise about it, but Dream Revenant [$1.99] is actually the sequel to 2011's dream:scape [$0.99], albeit more mechanically than in terms of story. The set-up is quite similar, with you taking the role of a man on the verge of death, exploring his own dreams to sort through memories of his past to uncover certain truths. As with the first game, you'll do this by wandering around a decent-sized 3D landscape, stumbling on revelations, picking up items, and using them to navigate extremely simple obstacles. To the developer's credit, they've picked up on a lot of the major criticisms of the first game, but three years is a very long time in the world of gaming, and particularly so in the context of the relatively young iOS market. The result is like something you might see in the games, a response to a ghostly voice of the past...

Super Heavy Sword [$0.99] is one of those games that really breaks me up. It's such an earnest effort, full of interesting ideas and mechanics that pay clear tribute to some all-time greats. It's also a complete mess. This is becoming the unfortunate calling card of developer Monster Robot Studios, who make games I truly want to love, but can't for a variety of reasons. Anyway, this one is the sequel to Heavy Sword [Free], which is probably this developer's best effort, largely due to the design obscuring the game's technical flaws. This sequel takes things in a bit of a different direction, dragging the gameplay into places it really shouldn't be. This is basically a 2D take on Super Mario 64, an idea that hasn't been tapped out nearly as much as it should have. You guide your choice of the hero of the first game or the princess he rescued on a quest to defeat the bad guys and restore peace to the realm...

Soccer Physics [$1.99] is a dumb game and I mean that in the most loving way possible. This is the latest from the creator of Wrestle Jump [$1.99] and Tank of Tanks [$1.99 (HD)], Otto-Ville Ojala. It's a 2-on-2 soccer game where players have only cursory amounts of control over their players by timing their jumps, with balls, goals, and fields that are randomized for each round. First to score five goals wins. There's a lot of wacky stuff that happens because the game is so innately chaotic – and that's what makes it so compelling...

The latest Marvel blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy opens in theaters today, and to celebrate the official mobile game Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon [$2.99] is on sale for just two bucks for the weekend. We're slowly turning the tide of the long-time trend of movie tie-in games being terrible, and The Universal Weapon is a good example of that. It's an action strategy game that uses the familiar line-drawing combat that Mika Mobile's Battleheart pioneered more than three years ago. It's a perfect fit for the Guardians of the Galaxy IP as you're controlling a group of guardians as you battle through the game's campaign. Besides the five main characters from the movie, The Universal Weapon also features 20 additional playable characters pulled from the Guardians of the Galaxy universe...

During Comic-Con this past weekend, Marvel announced that both Marvel Pinball [$0.99] and Zen Pinball [Free] would be getting a new Guardians of the Galaxy table to coincide with the movie releasing tomorrow. Earlier today, an update went live which added that new Guardians of the Galaxy table to both games, and to celebrate the Marvel Pinball app is now free for the first time ever. Here's a video of the new Guardians of the Galaxy table in action...

It isn't hard to come up with reasons to recommend 11-bit Studios excellent Anomaly series of "tower offense" games, but just in case you need a new one, all three games in the series are currently on sale for this week only. As mentioned, the Anomaly series is noteworthy for taking the well-worn tower defense genre and mixing things up by putting you in the role of the invading creeps. Call it tower offense or reverse tower defense, but either way it injected a fresh perspective to a genre that's been done to death on mobile...

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