Category Archives: $1.99

One of the cooler games in the history of the App Store era of mobile gaming was 1-bit Ninja [$2.99], it being a platformer with a couple of neat twists: you could only move in one direction, generally forward; you could also shift the perspective of the screen to see ahead and to find where obstructions were actually background objects. It was a remarkably clever game, and one that is still fantastic today thanks to its recent update making it work on modern devices. 1-bit Ninja Remix Rush [$1.99] uses many of the same principles as that game, but with a new endless structure, that manages to be a great way to check this out for the first time, or as a way for people familiar with the original to get a fresh experience...

I love platformers, and there are tons of great ones on iOS in all shapes and sizes. One of my very favorite "Mario-like" platformers is Wonderworks' Bloo Kid 2 [Free], which I picked as one of my personal favorite games of 2014. It's colorful, well-designed, and the running and jumping physics feel fantastic. Today a new update has made the game even better by adding in a new fifth world with 9 new levels, a new "Nightmare" difficulty and two new game modes. The new modes are Time Attack and Boss Rush, and they'll unlock along with the new difficulty option once you've beaten the normal Story Mode once. Here's the game's launch trailer...

There are lots of different reasons that a person might enjoy an RPG, from the story to the battle system to exploration, but I think the one aspect that speaks to just about everyone is seeing numbers go up. It's such an appealing element of RPGs that it's been wholesale lifted by other genres over the last several years to massive success. Some games have even gone as far as to ditch everything else, allowing you to mindlessly tap away to see your numbers go up. Templar Infinite Crusade [$1.99] doesn't go quite that far, but it's certainly in the neighborhood. It looks like the dog's breakfast, it's so random that you'll need as much luck as strategy to survive, and yet, there's a certain basic appeal to the game that might get its hooks into you if you give it a shot...

'Drop Wizard' Review - Here Comes the Drop

I absolutely love Neutronized's pixel art stylings. They added a lot of flair to their previous games Roar Rampage [$0.99] and Lost Yeti [$1.99], though both were darn good games in their own rights. Now they've returned with another pixelly game, and one that pays homage to single-screen arcade classics like Bubble Bobble with Drop Wizard [$1.99]. It's definitely a game that's paying homage to the classics, and feels like it'd be a great fit in an arcade cabinet from 25 years ago or so. But Neutronized don't just rest on their laurels with the retro homage, they actually make a game that's remarkably clever in and of itself...

Lately it seems like tons of classic iOS games are getting new life with modern updates, and the latest is Critical Thought Games' tower defense title geoDefense [$1.99]. This update was announced in mid-December, and in fact it just barely beat the clock and arrived just before the end of 2014. The update adds native support for all the various iPhone screens as well as support for iOS 8, which had previously rendered the game completely broken. The update also removes OpenFeint, which died a long time ago, and replaces it with Game Center for online leaderboards...

In True Axis' fantastic skateboard simulator True Skate [$1.99], manuals (or wheelies to the layman) were always possible to do, but they were sort of finicky. In an update in late November, True Axis greatly improved the way manuals worked, adding a whole new dimension to the game. Our resident True Skate master, forum member totallymichael, made a new video showcasing all the possibilities that the revamped manual system allows. Check out the vid, and maybe even watch it a couple of times to fully comprehend all the crazy tricks he pulls off...

Endless runners are a dime a dozen on the App Store, but there's one that's unique enough that it's been holding my attention ever since it released in late September. That game is Jack B. Nimble [$1.99] from indie developer Sean Noonan. Obviously it's an auto-runner where the speed gradually increases as you jump from platform to platform and try to avoid falling to your death, but it adds a clever Castlevania-inspired whipping mechanic into the mix which also has you trying to whip candlesticks to increase your score multiplier while simultaneously avoiding falling to your death. The added mechanic adds an extra layer of franticness and a risk/reward proposition as sometimes going for those candlesticks can seriously throw off your running and jumping rhythm. This is all tied together with visuals that are a very faithful homage to the original Game Boy and a killer soundtrack...

I don't know about you guys, but out here on the Northern California coast, it's been raining like crazy. Which means it isn't exactly ideal conditions to hit the streets and go skateboarding, which makes virtual skateboarding on your iOS device a lovely alternative. This week, two of iOS's best skateboarding games, True Skate [$1.99] and Skater [$4.99], received updates adding in new content. Check out the details of each update below and go hit the virtual streets...

I don't think a person needed to be a fortune-teller to see this outcome, but going back to my review of Tomb Raider 1 [$0.99] from last year, I ended it by expressing little hope for a potential port of Tomb Raider 2 [$1.99] fixing the control issues with the first game. It wasn't hard to guess because the problem is neither with the unorthodox and somewhat fussy controls of the Tomb Raider series, nor was it with virtual controls, but rather the marriage of the two that the mobile version offered. There's simply no clear way to map virtual controls to these games in a satisfying way. Tomb Raider 2 only makes that problem clearer with its increased challenge and greater emphasis on pulling off non-stop sequences of moves, particularly in timed situations. It's the kind of situation where I don't feel good about giving it a score, because if you have an MFi controller, this game is an incredible experience at a ridiculously low price, but if you don't, it's just about pointless to buy. Consider the number at the end of this review to be the middle of those two scenarios and apply it to your own situation accordingly...

Tower Of Fortune [Free] developer Game Stew is a hard developer for me to get a read on. I mean, I think if you look hard enough you can find a designer's fingerprints all over just about any game, but you don't even have to do that with Game Stew. Their games are instantly recognizable thanks to their consistent, unusual presentation style. If you do choose to look a bit harder, you can see that also carries over to the gameplay, even if some of their games are ostensibly in different genres from each other entirely. It's interesting because even though their games are generally quite unique from almost every angle, once you understand Game Stew's way of doing things, you can reliably count on certain elements being present. Specifically, you're probably going to have quite a few trappings of the roguelike genre. Being predictably off-beat certainly isn't a bad thing. Tim Burton doesn't seem to be suffering for it, at least. The big problem with having that kind of reputation is that you need to keep coming up with ways to keep your audience's thirst for oddity quenched...

'Arcane Quest 2' Review - A Quest For Heroes

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December 1st, 2014 2:30 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $1.99, 4 stars, Board, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
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Like any lifelong enthusiast of role-playing games, I've got a few memories that are embarrassing to relate in mixed company. Since we're all friends here, I'll let you in on one of them. In junior high school, or middle school as some of our readers might call it, our class planned a trip to one of the islands in the lake my hometown sits beside. It's kind of a popular beach for those who have the means to reach it, and there are even a couple of food stands and a vague attempt at a boardwalk. Well, everyone was pretty excited about this trip, and when the day arrived, people came with bags packed with swimming gear, water guns, and sports equipment for the park. My tight little group of RPG-loving friends and I had our swimsuits and a couple of Super Soakers. I mean, we weren't totally out there. But instead of bringing a volleyball or anything like that, my good friend had Milton Bradley's HeroQuest board game tucked under his arm. We spent a good portion of the day sitting in the park beside the beach, making our way through a few campaigns...

I like the cut of Not Doppler's jib. Their stable of 2D games are all solidly entertaining games with zippy gameplay. Their most recent game, Earn to Die 2[$1.99], is the first time they have revisited one of their iOS games with an update. From a bird's eye view, this one is really strong, avoiding some of the pitfalls other popular games have stumbled into. Some of the best decisions made are that the follow up game has more content and maybe most importantly, this one was packages as a separate game independent from the first Earn to Die[$0.99]. Once you get a little closer, you'll find there is even more to get excited about...

A little more than a year ago, id Software updated two of their old iOS ports–Doom Classic and Rage HD– with 4-inch widescreen support and support for Apple's then-new iOS 7 software. Both games had quietly disappeared from the App Store at least a month prior to the updates, which was scary for me as I'm a massive fan of the Doom iOS port. I was delighted to see them return with updates, and hoped that id might see fit to update some of the other games in their iOS catalog...

'Cosmic Crown' Review - It's Good to be King

Cosmic Crown [$1.99] is just an undeniably cool game. It's a roguelike, particularly in the vein of Hoplite [$2.99] where there are occasional upgrades after levels to improve oneself with. But the uncommon twist about the game is that it's entirely one-dimensional, literally. The only movement is forward and backward, with traps, enemies, and slowly-opening doors serving as the things standing between the green protagonist and those sweet cosmic crowns...

I feel like the last few games I've reviewed have skirted the line between being a game in the functional definition and being just an interactive experience. Cosmic DJ [$1.99] by GL33k and Devolver Digital is perhaps is more accurately described as a gamified music synthesizer than an actual game per se, it passes the sniff test just enough that it's worth talking about here. Actual musicians might find the basicness of composition rather lacking, and people who enjoy playing games to completion might find the lack of resistance toward achieving their goals dissatisfying. But non-musicians who want a clever way to compose music with only minimal musical knowledge, or want to enjoy the goofy-yet-earnest story here, will want to check this out...

'Monument Valley: Forgotten Shores' Review - Take Another Trip To The Valley

As I mentioned back when I reviewed Monument Valley [$3.99], it was bound to be a love it or hate it affair, and I was actually pleasantly surprised to see that most people felt as strongly about the experience as I did. It's a beautiful thing to play with, an artfully-constructed world that you can manipulate and bend around in ways that only a few other games have allowed. It was a gorgeous, pure experience, free of the flashing lights and urging pace that seems to be the general speed of things in this wonderful hobby of ours. It was also very short, with a mere ten levels to its tale, about a third of which were basically tutorial stages. By the time it turned up the gas even a little bit, it was soon finished. As an experience, it's hard to argue with it. As a mechanical game, it was a whole lot of potential with a somewhat wanting level of realizing it. Generally, it was very well-received, with most people left crying for more. So developer Ustwo got working on some more, and after several months of development, they've released an expansion for Monument Valley called Forgotten Shores...

'Mr. Particle Man' Review - At Last, One For The Gentlemen

Up-front disclaimer: I hadn't played or even heard of Ms. Particle Man [$1.99], the game this is a sequel to, until about a week ago. It was apparently released in late 2012, so I was probably busy building my deluxe shelter to protect myself from the impending inevitable apocalypse, which appears to be rather late at this point. I wish I had discovered it sooner, but I'm glad I finally did, even more so because I've found it by way of its superb follow-up, Mr. Particle Man [$1.99]. It's an unabashedly old-school experience that manages to make use of a few modern tricks, one of which I've never seen implemented in quite the same way before in an iOS game. Fair warning: Mr. Particle Man is one of those tough as nails games where you'll die, die, and die some more, and it's very possible, likely even, that you'll hit the limits of your own skill before the game is finished. If you're the sort that gets frustrated by games like that, move along with your sanity intact. For the rest of us weirdos who meet such adversity with laughter and an insane need to keep playing, what this game does is going to be a nice, comfortable fit...

We figured this week would be quite busy after the packed list of releases on Wednesday night, but there's still games sneaking out that didn't quite come out last night that are of particular note. Cosmic Crown [$1.99] is one of those games, and in fact it released totally under the radar last Friday. It's a curious game that seems to mix in any number of genres, perhaps a fusion of turn-based roguelikes with an endless runner. ..

Drift'n'Drive [$1.99] is quite the fun chaotic top-down racing game. I was intrigued by the game when I saw a GIF of it in action with a whopping 32-car field, and it looked like something I had to play. And it lived up to my expectations. It's very much an arcade-like experience. The cars auto-accelerate, and have tires with low grip, making them drift-happy, and providing for a very chaotic game. And the only controls are left and right to steer, with a turbo boost that charges up over time. Helping with the chaos is the fact that the courses are generated randomly in the career mode, so it's about reacting to what might be coming up next and trying to stay on the road. Grass and dirt slow the car down, hitting trees and walls causes damage to the car, and it's possible to lose a wheel, which makes steering more difficult, until both front wheels are gone, and the vehicle is just straight-up wrecked...

Earlier this month we saw the release of Hail to the King: Deathbat [$4.99], a product of Subscience Studios and the band Avenged Sevenfold. Members of the band grew up playing video games, and when it came time to make their own, they wanted to create an homage to the games they loved playing back in the '80s and '90s. The combat and magic system in Deathbat is pretty simplistic, and the difficulty can be unforgiving. Those are the reasons I love the game so much, but those are also the reasons a lot of people didn't like the game so much. Opinions, you know? Because of the polarized feelings towards Deathbat, I imagine there were a lot of people who might have been interested in the game but were stuck on the fence. Well, if that describes you, now might be a good time to jump off the fence as Hail to the King: Deathbat is currently on sale for $1.99, down from its normal price of $4.99...

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