Category Archives: $2.99

'FOTONICA' Review - A Running Riot

I'm going to take a guess, dear reader, and say that you have played an endless runner or two hundred. I don't think you've played anything on mobile quite like Fotonica [$2.99]. It's an auto-runner by way of Mirror's Edge [$0.99 / $9.99 (HD)] – not the side-scrolling game, but the original game, in first-person, all in a wireframe style. The entire game is played with one touch, but it's not tap-to-jump. Essentially, tapping and holding on the screen descends to the ground, and allows the runner to pick up speed, while letting go jumps in the air. When jumping, trying to land with this rapid descent is important to maintain speed, as bonus points are earned for running fast enough that the world turns gold...

Developer Osao dropped Chronology: Time Changes Everything [Free] on the App Store last week. If the title didn't give it away, Chronology is a platform game that grants you, the player, the ability to manipulate time. Straddling the time periods directly before and after an apocalyptic event, it's up to you to discover the cause and ultimately try to prevent the disaster. Born from a sketch of a snail and a man with a fez, this game has a quirky sense of humor that should prove to have a pretty wide appeal...

I wanted to love Phantom Rift [$2.99]. I wanted to give it my unabashed affection. I am quite fond of the Mega Man Battle Network series because of, well, everything about it. Certainly, paying homage to Mega Man is something Phantom Rift isn't doing, but the series itself is paying homage to boasted a unique combat system that took the best aspects of card games and mixed it with fast-paced real-time combat. But where Phantom Rift falls apart is not respecting that speed. Not so much in the combat, but in the overworld that governs getting from fight to fight, and managing the character and deck: it's just too slow to get anywhere in this game, both figuratively and literally...

Reviewing a game like Dragon Quest [$2.99] is never easy. First of all, as many of you probably do, I have a very deep childhood connection to this game, which means it's a nostalgic trip for me every time I play it. Then there's the fact that this is a genre-defining game, and as a result, can't possibly be expected to be as refined as the games that followed in the path it carved out. Ultimately, this game is both a classic and a curio, a piece of history that feels like one, no matter how much Square Enix tries to pretty it up. Its age is in its fundamental structure. I think it holds up very well relative to other games from its era, but that's perhaps faint praise, given the state of console RPGs in 1986. A completely new player without any sort of fondness for the history of the series would be better off checking out Dragon Quest 4 [$14.99] first. That doesn't mean that the first Dragon Quest has nothing to offer, but it's probably not the best way to break the ice in 2014...

It seems hard to believe, but it's already been a whole year since developer Michael Brough released his techno-roguelike masterpiece 868-HACK [$5.99] onto the App Store, and to celebrate he's dropped the price of the game for the first time ever. You can now buy the game at the discounted price of $2.99, down from its original price of $5.99. In case you're not familiar, 868-HACK is a highly strategic, incredibly challenging roguelike with a cyberspace theme. It's one of those games where every single choice you make matters, and it's imperative that you have a decent understanding of the game's mechanics and are able to plan your moves well ahead. We absolutely loved it in our review from a year ago...

'Appointment With F.E.A.R.' Review - My New Favorite Superhero Is Tin Man

If you ever need proof that competition is healthy for the customer, just check out the gamebook scene on mobiles. What started as simple conversions of the text of existing books has spun out into three developers each, in their own way, trying to combine the essence of classic gamebooks with the flexibility that modern technology allows. It started with Tin Man Games essentially giving you the keys to the game via a bunch of extra features, followed by inkle's brilliant adaptation of Steve Jackson's Sorcery! [$4.99] and Forge Reply's original RPG adventure based on the popular Lone Wolf [$0.99] character. Then, in April, Tin Man released their version of Starship Traveller [$5.99], where for the first time, the developer didn't simply bring the original book over with some bells and whistles, but elaborated on it. Recently, inkle again upped the ante with their stunning take on Jules Verne's classic novel, 80 Days [$4.99], and now we've got Tin Man replying in kind with what is clearly their most confident conversion yet, Appointment With F.E.A.R. [$2.99]...

Nitrome's 8bit Doves [$2.99] is a game that will try the patience of players. It has challenging physics to contend with, but is also structured in a way that really impedes the replay value of this challenging action game. The goal is to control a flying hero through dreamscape levels, turning clockwise and counterclockwise to control him through the skies, contending with trying not to crash into the walls or other occasional moving hazards. As well, doves fill the levels: collecting these is an objective tracked by the game, but not inherently necessary to completion. Flying in the general vicinity of the doves is all that's necessary to collect them, a fine concession from a game that is difficult to control...

'Deep Under The Sky' Review - A Beautiful Physics-Based Puzzler

Deep Under The Sky [$3.99] is a really fascinating game that winds up being a game that's really fun to play – it has a variety of things to do that are enjoyable to play with in motion, the game is set up to not be frustrating to play, and it makes a lot of its premise by presenting tricky challenges to solve. It does so well at so many things, that while calling a physics-based puzzle-platformer is perhaps the closest approximation of a descriptor for the game, it's got appeal beyond just what those words mean – and it's just so gorgeous and well-made that it's worth checking out no matter what...

Back in February, video gaming personality Seanbaby and his small studio Ninja Crime released Calculords [$2.99], and awesome mashup of card-battling, lane defense and math. Yes, math, like mathematics. Multiplication, addition, subtraction… all that stuff. Despite the potential for Calculords to be educational, the various elements of the game clicked together in a brilliant way, and we really enjoyed it in our review. There were a few drawbacks to the game, though. Most notably it wasn't a "true" widescreen game so it had borders on 4-inch iOS devices, and it felt a little light on content with no multiplayer and a limited number of AI opponents to face in the campaign...

'Catchup - Abstract Strategy' Review - Strategy So Good, You Don't Need Condiments

I think the key to a really great strategy game lies in finding the correct balance between accessibility and depth. Not that success can't be found on either side, as the longevity of Checkers and Go prove, but at least for me, I like my strategy games to be fairly easy to pick up but with a nice, long tail of mastery. Fortunately, there are a lot of very clever strategy game designers out there, so I never feel like I go too long without something to satisfy my urges. The latest one to catch me is appropriately named Catchup [$2.99], an iOS version of a board game released a few years back. It's hard to imagine a strategy game with simpler rules than this, but the game still provides a satisfyingly complex punch...

There's a pretty decent assortment of Adventure Time games available on the App Store now, and while they're not exactly blazing trails for the hobby, just about all of them are quite a bit better than a lot of licensed titles end up being. Adventure Time has already tackled the side-scrolling runner, sort of, in Ski Safari: Adventure Time [$0.99], and now it's taking a swing at the behind the back runner with Time Tangle: Adventure Time [$2.99]. This game is coming at us from the developers of Indiana Stone [$2.99], TwinSky, and like that game, it's got a very different idea of how to approach a well-mined concept...

One of the most charming, lovable and fun games in the history of the App Store is Andreas Illiger's breakout hit Tiny Wings [$0.99]. Originally launched in early 2011, Tiny Wings took the world by storm with its simple, one-touch, belly-sliding gameplay, watercolor-like visuals, and absolutely killer music. It wasn't just that it was a great mobile game, but something about Tiny Wings hit players on an emotional level, and the game quickly topped the charts and dethroned the then king of the App Store Angry Birds. ..

'Astro Duel' for iPad Review - A Fabulous Single Device Local Multiplayer Arcade Game

With pixelated, triangular ships thrusting around an asteroid-studded starfield and issuing forth crunchy 8-bit sounds, the trappings of Astro Duel [$2.99 (HD)] would allow it to blend seamlessly into any eighties-era arcade. Yet, Astro Duel is timely, for it taps into the quiet renaissance currently unfolding in the mileu of razor-sharp in-person competition waged across a single screen. Whether sitting cheek-by-jowl around a Warlords machine, or in a tangle of controller cables strewn from a console running Bomberman or in front of a desktop PC running the latest indie sensation on Steam (if you're curious, try out Nidhogg, Samurai Gunn or Crawl), there is a particular intensity to testing your reflexes and tactics against those of your friends with no barriers between you...

For the most part, Regular Show games tend to fit the videogame mold far better than its Adventure Time brethren. Videogames are heavily cemented in the show itself, and there's hardly a season that passes by when stars Mordecai and Rigby veg out on the couch and game for hours on end. This time around the gang finds themselves in a tower defense-like situation, sparked by rival park manager Gene and The Great Prank War [$2.99]...

Back in October of 2011, Rocketcat Games blew our collective minds when they released Mage Gauntlet [$2.99] on the iPhone. No but really, Mage Gauntlet was a fantastic homage to 16-bit era action RPGs and we enjoyed it tremendously in our review. In the few months following release, several updates were released for Mage Gauntlet that tweaked things, fixed things, added some new things, and most significantly updated the game with Universal iPad support. But that was really the last time Mage Gauntlet got any serious update love, and ever since the iPhone 5 debuted in September of 2012, it's felt like it's sorely missing support for 4-inch widescreens...

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