Category Archives: $2.99

When the Apple Watch released, a number of developers attempted to take advantage of the buzz by either updating old games with new features, or by releasing new games specifically designed with the Apple Watch in mind. One of the more success of the latter group was Lifeline [$0.99], an interactive fiction game that had you guiding a student named Taylor who had been stranded on a moon. As with most games in this genre, the game mostly consisted of reading text and making the occasional choice. The gimmick came from the way the game incorporated real time into the story. Taylor would often become busy after you made a choice, and you'd have no choice but to wait until Taylor notified you, via your watch or your device, that the story could continue. While the game itself was quite simple relative to other gamebooks, this element gave Lifeline the twist it needed to stand out from the pack...

Apparently, merpeople are the new trend in interactive fiction. Yes, I call something a trend if I spot more than one instance. I'm pretty weird that way. Anyway, a couple of months ago, Choice Of Games released The Daring Mermaid Expedition [Free], a somewhat farcical adventure that provided a brief, enjoyable window into a fantasy world under the sea. The Sea Eternal [Free] also chooses the ocean depths as the setting of its story, but from the other side of the coin. Rather than playing an inquisitive human who accidentally stumbles upon this strange world, you play as one of the merpeople who inhabit it. In spite of this shift in perspective, the core of the story largely tries to untangle what it is to be human, or at least what it is to be sentient. It takes on a lot of very difficult questions, and although it doesn't handle them all with perfect grace, The Sea Eternal is nevertheless quite engaging and thought-provoking...




In an era where kids can fire up a game like Real Racing 3 [Free] for free on a mobile device, I can't imagine slot car racing sets are as ubiquitous as they were when I was a kid. Just about everyone seemed to own one back then, whether they were interested in cars or not. They're pretty simple toys, with the only real input being how fast the car is going at any given time, but there was a certain thrill in seeing how fast you could take corners without careening wildly off the little plastic tracks. There was a bit of technique to it, though the advantage certainly went to the player who was most familiar with the track. Black Hole Joyrider [$2.99], the latest from Boson X [$2.99] creator Ian MacLarty, might look and sound like a grand space adventure, but it's basically a gorgeous game of slot car solitaire...

It's not uncommon for Rockstar Games to put their Grand Theft Auto iOS ports on sale, but it's not as common to see the entire library of them all on sale at the same time. That's what we're experiencing right now, in what I'm dubbing "The Great Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto (and Max Payne) Cinco de Mayo Sale of 2016". Pretty catchy name, no? Right now all of Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto iOS ports are available for just a few bucks, down from their already pretty darn cheap regular prices. If you were to do some sort of cost to hours played equation for something like GTA: San Andreas, we'd be talking fractions of a cent per hour of senseless violence and crime. It's an amazing deal and really there are no bad GTA games in the bunch. They've even knocked a buck off of the solid mobile version of GTA's bullet time cousin Max Payne. Now is a great time to pick up any of these that you don't own to fill out your collections. ¡Viva Rockstar Games!..

'Warbits' Review - War Never Changes

Do you like Advance Wars? The 2001 Game Boy Advance turn-based strategy game holds a special place in a lot of folks' hearts because it was an interesting and accessible game, being the first strategy game that many people played, myself included. Many turn-based strategy games to this day owe a signifcant debt to Advance Wars. Warbits [$3.99] falls well in that category, but it's probably more accurate to say that it's trying to be Advance Wars. It lacks originality, but it doesn't screw anything up on the way, and it's Advance Wars on your phone with online play. I'm not hearing any objections...

There are a lot of different ways a piece of interactive fiction can succeed. Some of them tell a great story, some of them give the player a genuine feel of agency in the plot, and some of them have interesting puzzles. Some have tense, RPG-like battles, while others have no fighting at all and focus on building character relationships. A few just take a very interesting setting or theme and run with it. But for all of these strong points that gamebooks can take advantage of, there are a ton of pitfalls that, if not specific to the format, are at least more potentially devastating to the overall enjoyment of a work. It's not an easy thing to put a smooth, highly-interactive narrative together that manages to be strong enough to carry an entire game. It involves almost all of the headaches of writing a good book combined with the difficulties of quality game design...

'Pang Adventures' Review - Pang, Nab It

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April 20th, 2016 11:01 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4 stars, Action, Arcade, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews
$3.99 Buy Now

Until now, publisher Dotemu's work on iOS has been mostly limited to bringing back beloved classics in their original forms. Their releases have run the gamut from arcade shoot-em-ups like R.Type [$1.99] to point-and-click PC titles like Sanitarium [$3.99], to say nothing of the work they've done for other companies like SNK and Square Enix. Pang Adventures [$3.99] is something of an unusual case for the prolific French publisher, as it's a new game based on an old favorite franchise. You might remember the series under the names Pang, Buster Bros., Pomping World, Magical Michael, or if you're particularly well-informed, Cannon Ball. We'll go with Pang for the purposes of this review...

In July of last year, we first learned that DotEmu was teaming up with Pastagames to revive the 1989 classic arcade series Pang, also known as Buster Bros. and Pomping World. The new game would be called Pang Adventures [$3.99], and besides some very vague promo art, nobody knew what this modern take would be like. Then the following November we finally caught a glimpse of Pang Adventures during DotEmu's Paris Games Week recap video, and it looked quite faithful to the original but with a more contemporary art style. We didn't really hear much on the game since that point, but early this morning Pang Adventures surprise launched on the App Store for iOS, along with versions for Steam, consoles, and Android...

There's no denying that the surfer culture is an extremely laid back one, so it's sort of apropos that Diverso Games' latest title Go Surf [$2.99] shuffled onto the App Store just a wee bit later than all of yesterday's new releases. Hey, it's cool bro! We're all a little late sometimes. If you aren't aware of Go Surf from our previous coverage, it's a super-stylish one-tap endless surfing game that does a wonderful job at capturing the beach lifestyle. Check out the trailer...

'Mimpi Dreams' Review - Dream A Little Dream

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April 5th, 2016 11:45 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, Platform, Puzzle, Reviews
$1.99 Buy Now

The original Mimpi [Free] was a cute, somewhat short puzzle-platformer with inspired art design and serviceable controls. Mimpi Dreams [$1.99], the sequel, is a cute, somewhat short puzzle-platformer with inspired art design and excellent controls. The original game was an excellent little bit of fun and still holds up quite well today, and the follow-up offers up another tasty serving with a few useful refinements. While its brevity and relative lack of difficulty might turn off those looking for something more substantial to sink their teeth into, Mimpi Dreams has enough appeal to carry it far...

In January of this year I was pleased to see Sega release an update for Sonic 4 Episode 2 [$2.99] that addressed some iOS compatibility issues which had rendered the game unplayable. Sure the game was broken for about 2.5 years before the fix arrived, but I was still glad to see it arrive at all and, perhaps feeling a bit too optimistic, I also said "Although it's never been broken by iOS, I sure wouldn't mind Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 [$2.99] getting a little update love with some widescreen action." Well hey, guess what? Sega has done just that with an update released just this morning. Not only is the game properly widescreen now, but the art itself has been cleaned up for modern iOS device resolutions. Here's a bunch of comparison shots from before and after today's update, click on any of them to enlarge...

We've been following the progress of Power Hover's [$3.99] forthcoming update for the past few months as developer Oddrok has been posting bits and pieces of the update in our forums. Now it's all coming full circle as that update is finished and set to arrive next Thursday, April 7th. The update will include new environments to hover around in, an entire new chapter with 6 new levels and 1 new endless boss level, and new characters to unlock and play as. All of this new goodness can be seen in this brand new trailer...

If you've been enjoying your virtual adventures in Aralon: Forge and Flame [$4.99] but feel like you'd enjoy it even more if you could play as a Paladin class, well, today's update is for you. The oft-requested Paladin class has been added to the game, along with a brand new dungeon called The Ruins of Valemar. In addition to the new class and new dungeon, an in-app store has been added to Aralon: Forge and Flame so if you want to spend some real-life money to fast-track your virtual character's progression, then now you have that option. ..

One of the fun things about following a specific platform over a number of years is watching how things progress. Developers and series will pop up, and if they hang around, you can see what they do to build on what they did before to try to make an even better game. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't. In the case of developer TouchMint and its Adventure To Fate series of turn-based RPGs, it's happily been the former. When the first game launched almost two years ago, it was a fun, somewhat rough game that got better with a couple of updates. Last year, a free-to-play follow-up came out, focusing almost entirely on the combat system and character development mechanics. That game, too, got some really nice updates that made the game better. I don't know what the update plans look like for Adventure To Fate: Quest To The Future [$3.99] looks like, but even in its present state, it shows the experience TouchMint has gathered in its own personal quest for glory...

'Abzorb' Review - Avoid and Conquer

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March 8th, 2016 10:06 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$2.99 Buy Now

One Man Left’s classic Tilt To Live [$2.99] series is a favorite of mine, partly because of how it subverted expectations when it came out in 2010. It looked like a shooter, with the main gimmick being that you tilted your device instead of using on-screen controls. Of course, that wasn’t the only “gimmick”, as it turned out the game wasn’t even a shooter at all. Your job was to avoid enemies, rather than hunting them down. That doesn’t mean you were totally defenseless, though, as there were many power-ups that allowed you to turn the tables on the evil red dots. Gerald Kelley’s new game Abzorb [$2.99] lands even closer to the pacifist side of the spectrum, as you don’t even get power-ups to defend yourself. All you can do to avoid death is run away. Is it anywhere near as fun and frantic as Tilt To Live, though?..

The Swords [$2.99] is an interesting little experience because it's this mixture of gorgeous art and animation combined with gameplay that's fun but sometimes frustrating. The story that sets up The Swords is that a master of swords is telling a story about his grandmaster, an expert swordsman proficient in many different types of swords, and the very idea of them. Microgames wind up comprising the gmaeplay here, as you perform sorts of different actions through swipes and taps depending on the section of the game you're in, so that you can progress. You'll be swiping to deflect enemy swords, utilizing a spinning sword to deflect enemy blows, controlling the sway of a tree in the wind, and more. You kind of get to do anything and everything sword-related here...

Peter Panic [Free] is Wario Ware mixed with a musical, and only halfway complete. Seriously, the game borrows its structure and goofiness from Wario Ware almost exactly. You play through levels all with a specific theme, trying to complete a short micro-game to get a point and advance further to a boss level. Beat that, then you complete the level and go on to the next one. The games use the touchscreen in different ways, and there are some key variations, but generally? This is Wario Ware but on iOS as a musical – and not finished yet...

'Patchwork' Review - Greater than the Sum of it's Parts

Patchwork[$2.99] is a very cute game. It has a charming facade of quilty-buttony comfort that is really quite inviting and calming. It's almost a shame that the game is very much a game of cut-throat cold logic devoid of much wiggle room around the fact that the person who can plan ahead best will usually win. The master mind behind such board game greats as Agricola[$6.99] and Le Havre[$4.99], Uwe Rosenberg, followed the pattern with a really great strategic/economic design on this one...

‘_PRISM’ Review - Wouldn’t It Be Nice To Code Together

Several times in my life I’ve fantasized about packing up my guitar and some recording equipment and moving to a remote cabin for a month or so to write and record music. Far removed from the stress, distraction, and responsibility of normal life, I’d be free to put all my energy into crafting the next Sgt. Pepper’s or Pet Sounds. (It’s a fantasy, after all.) Unfortunately, doing such a thing is a luxury most people can’t afford for a number of reasons, which means I’ll have to settle for squeezing my recording sessions into spare hours in the garage like normal...

In November of last year, Pixeljam released a wonderful little game called Last Horizon [$2.99]. In it you played an astronaut who needed to flee your dying world in a hurry, so you set out on a solo journey through space attempting to harvest resources and not get killed on your way to a new inhabitable planet to call home. The excellent controls and fun inertia-based flying made Last Horizon a winner in our eyes, but there were a couple of drawbacks. One was that Last Horizon was a pretty difficult game, and the way it was set up you had to actually beat one world to unlock the next, harder world, and eventually unlock an endless mode. ..

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