Category Archives: $2.99

As a longtime fan of gamebooks and interactive fiction in general, I've enjoyed seeing the genre blossom on iOS, especially within the last few years. What's especially great about it is that it hasn't simply been the work of any one developer. The genre is far stronger for having a variety of voices like inkle, Tin Man Games, Forge Reply, and Cubus Games each doing their own thing. A lot of people who probably haven't picked up a physical gamebook since elementary school are enjoying the feast of choices we have available to us on our mobile devices. Each push of boundaries for the genre seems to widen the audience even more. A lot of the recent hits have focused on playing with the presentation or the freedom to move away from the traditional structure adopted from paper books. The monochrome sketches of Lone Wolf [$0.99] coming to life, the simple yet striking imagery of 80 Days [$4.99], the hilarious Kate Beaton sketches of Hamlet and company in Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be [$5.99], or even the rocking soundtrack of Heavy Metal Thunder [$4.99] are all signs of a genre that is casting off the limitations of the past and charging into its own unwritten future...

Developer Jujubee is probably most famous in the iOS scene for the Flashout series, their entry into the high-speed futuristic racing sub-genre. They're stylish games that don't venture all that far from the template, and at least at the time of the respective releases of each, satisfied a relatively underserved niche in the mobile gaming scene. Their latest effort wades into more populated waters, the RPG genre. Spellcrafter: The Path Of Magic [$2.99] is an odd hybrid. The battles play out like a light strategy RPG, but the parts between fights allow you to wander around like a more standard top-down RPG. Even more strangely, the game has a level-based setup, with three different playable heroes each getting three stages. Everything is okay on paper, but it just doesn't come together well at all...

I am definitely a formalist when it comes to video games. I don't think that games without structure or failure conditions are any less valuable as interactive works or as artistic achievements. I just enjoy my time with clickers more than I do, say, The Sailor's Dream [$3.99]. I like structure and progression, having a goal to attain. It motivates me to play, and when I no longer care about the goal, that will get me to stop playing. Simple as that. ..

Some runners are so seamlessly crafted that they don't even feel like runners at all. That's definitely the case with Pie in the Sky [$2.99], partially because of the fact that you are actually flying rather than running, and that it manages to strip most instances of repetition in favor of a more cohesive frame, similar to the old classic Paperboy...

'Attack the Light - Steven Universe' Review - Power Levels Over 9000

There are pretty much three things that I care about in life: mobile games, baseball, and cartoons. How society decided I was an adult was a tremendous failure on the part of a lot of people, but we've got to live with the consequences. My latest obsession besides games or crying over Texas Rangers players suffering season-ending injuries? It's Steven Universe, created by Rebecca Sugar, who pretty much wrote and storyboarded all the best episodes of Adventure Time before she became the first woman to create a Cartoon Network show. And Steven Universe is amazing. It's gotten better and better as it's passed its first season, it's picking up fans, and it is now the recipient of its own licensed game, in Attack the Light [$2.99]...

Generally speaking, I am very reluctant to get into the discussion of what is or isn't a game. Any such talk typically requires a great deal of presumption on the part of the person drawing invisible lines in the sand. Being a big fan of gamebooks, text adventures, experience games, and so on, it's a conversation that all too often ends with some titles I greatly enjoy being branded 'non-games'. Then people start getting cranky, someone asks what the definition of an RPG is anyway, another person throws off their gloves and helmet, and the whole party is ruined. No, I'm not going to do that...

After a full trilogy of games in the span of just seven months, the Five Nights At Freddy's [$2.99] series could be forgiven for taking some time off after this one. Whether or not Five Nights At Freddy's 3 [$2.99] is where it ends, you have to give this series and its developer a lot of credit. In a short span of time, it became a minor cultural phenomenon, recorded huge sales on every platform it released on, and earned success and recognition for an independent developer who has taken plenty of swings at the whole "making a game" thing before finally knocking one out of the park. Fans all around the world compare notes about the story, trying to piece together mysteries that may not have ever been intended to be solved. The titular Freddy Fazbear himself is likely more recognizable than the character he parodies among most people under a certain age. In a lot of ways, we've come a long way from the humble point and click simplicity of the first game...

'Breath of Light' Review - A Boundary Pushing Zen Like Puzzle Game

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March 27th, 2015 12:00 PM EDT by Ben Jarris in $2.99, 4 stars, Puzzle, Reviews
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Breath of Light [$2.99] is a meditative, zen like puzzle game that is beautiful, distinctive and fun to play. It's not a prototypical puzzler; it's a relaxing and unique experience which is currently rated the best new puzzle game in 92 countries by apple. The game centers around manipulating a captivating particle flow of light to pass life-force from one white lotus flower to the others by moving stones, filters, mirrors and other objects in a futuristic zen garden. The graphics are intensely beautiful, the sound track is immersive, alluring and transient. Most importantly the puzzles are challenging, surprisingly relaxing and enjoyable to solve...

A while back, I reviewed the original Five Nights At Freddy's [$2.99], and while I could appreciate what it was doing from a clinical point of view, I didn't really get the game properly. When Five Nights At Freddy's 2 [$2.99] came out, I thought I'd step aside and let someone else take a crack at it, but with how busy the holiday season was, the game ended up falling into the dreaded TouchArcade sofa cushions instead. Before anyone could catch their breath, Five Nights At Freddy's 3 [$2.99]'s release was imminent. I'll own up to a couple of little quirks that I have. First of all, it really bugs me when I don't get why something is popular. I don't have to like everything, but I do like to understand points of view other than my own, and exploring them often leads to me finding new things to enjoy. I see it as a failing on my part when I'm not able to do this. Another odd habit of mine is that I don't like gaps, so if I'm to come back to the series to review the third game, I really needed to do this one first. Hopefully, that explains why we're running this review at an admittedly late stage of the game. You can expect a review of Five Nights At Freddy's 3 pretty shortly after this one...

'SwapQuest' Review - An Excellent Genre Mashup

When done correctly, I feel like there’s no better mix of genres than the puzzle/RPG combination. Adding character progression and some exploration elements to a good puzzle mechanic has the potential to really turn a neat game into a full-on adventure. SwapQuest [$2.99] has managed to do just that by combining classic Pipe Mania gameplay with some great RPG mechanics. Add in some cool retro visuals and awesome music and SwapQuest is an experience that shouldn’t be missed...

'TouchTone' Review - Tricky Puzzles, Touchy Tone

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March 18th, 2015 11:30 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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It's been a few years since we've seen a new iOS release from Mikengreg, the developers behind the hit Solipskier [$0.99]. Mike Boxleiter and Greg Wohlwend gave the label a bit of a rest while they worked on other things after Gasketball [Free (HD)] didn't catch on quite the way they'd hoped. Notably, Wolhwend ended up teaming up with Asher Vollmer to create Puzzlejuice [$1.99] and Threes! [$2.99], both excellent puzzle games with strong visual designs. Well, the band is back together again, and perhaps somewhat informed by their experiences had apart. TouchTone [$2.99] is a striking puzzle game, the sort of thing we've come to expect from Wohlwend's recent projects, but it's also a compelling politically-charged statement on modern America, something both Boxleiter and Wohlwend have strong ideas about. While these two sides of the game don't blend together as well as I might like them to, they're individually strong enough that if you're only coming to the game for one, you'll likely find the other to be quite enjoyable...

'.Decluster - into the Bullet Hell' Review - Bullet Paradise

One genre that I can't get enough of is shoot 'em ups. I think I'll be taking them to my deathbed. The high-octane action, the emphasis on pinpoint precision, and the constant positive reinforcement of blowing up enemies and getting massively entertaining power-ups is just too great of a force. .Decluster [$2.99] is my latest obsession, and it ticks all the right boxes...

Balancing a tower defense title properly is a pretty tough task. Make a game too easy and players may lose interest in advancing through the game’s missions and difficulty. On the other hand, an incredibly difficult TD title can potentially alienate a lot of prospective players. Epic War TD 2 [$2.99] by AMT Games leans heavily on the difficult side in terms of the TD spectrum. However, the game is balanced well enough that most TD gamers can succeed while optional modes provide a challenge for the hardcore fans...

There's an inherent joy in playing around with physics. In life, some of our earliest interactions with the external world involve playing around with physics to get a feel for the rules of reality. Even as fully-grown, educated, theoretically wise adults, we still get the urge to use our coffee spoon to launch the creamer at the person sitting at the table on the other side of the restaurant, just to see if we could. For a long time, games weren't terribly good at recreating satisfying physics along with all the other bits we tend to want in a game. There just wasn't enough computing power, time, or resources in general, and it wasn't a high priority. I maintain to this day that the reason Sonic The Hedgehog hit as powerfully as it did was due more to its solid physics engine than anything else. Any old character can go fast, but Sonic not only made us work for it, but also let us see the consequences of that speed. It wouldn't be until several years later that putting realistic physics into a game became a popular thing to do, but once it did, it broke things wide open...

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Swap Heroes [$0.99] was a solid game that combined a strategic quick-play focus with plenty of RPG elements. Swap Heroes 2 [$1.99] does pretty much the same thing - it's the same gameplay, where one hero dying means game over. There are a new set of heroes with new abilities to use, but largely balanced in similar ways. The changes here are structural, and that's not a knock on Swap Heroes 2: it's kind of like when a band releases an album a year after their previous one. It's not a huge jump, but you can often tell where refinements and improvements exist, and Swap Heroes 2 is just a better game...

'Auro: A Monster-Bumping Adventure' Review - It's Auro Good

The first half of 2014 was pretty packed with roguelikes, with games like Wayward Souls [$6.99], Cardinal Quest 2 [Free], and Hoplite [$2.99] all taking their respective stab at the venerable sub-genre. This year has been a little more quiet on that front, with only a few offerings of any note at all. The best of this year's bunch until now has been Lamp And Vamp [$1.99] which, while very fun, was riffing pretty closely on Hoplite. Well, mark it on your calendars, friends, because I think we've got our first fresh hit of 2015 in the genre with Auro [$4.99], the latest game from the developers behind 100 Rogues [$2.99]. This one's been cooking at Dinofarm Games for quite a long time now, but I think it's certainly worth the wait...

Much as I love it, I have to admit that video pinball is a very, very strange thing. They're sort of like those homemade recipes for Ecto Cooler that you can find around the internet: a shadow of the real thing, an attempt to replicate an incredibly tactile but now nearly-extinct experience. For most people, there haven't been any pinball tables around their locale since Clinton was in office. I wouldn't be shocked if many of our readers have never laid eyes on one in their lifetime. But for those of us who love them, if we can't wrap our fingers around a real machine and build the callouses on the palms of our hands by slamming them into the side of a wooden box to nudge a steel ball a half-centimeter off its course, we'll take what we can get. We'll take the video pinball. Because even though there's an unquestionable component of the game intrinsically tied to physical sensations, the games themselves have strong merit on their gameplay. The lights and sounds pulled us in, but the gameplay is what kept us coming back...

'Radiation Island' Review - Get Chased by Katana-Wielding Zombies and Have Fun!

Take the most irrational and demanding mobile gaming fan – you know the kind, the person that only wants paid games and hates in-app purchases and ads in any form – and ask them for a dream wishlist of everything they'd want from a mobile game. What they will describe to you is basically what Radiation Island [$2.99] from Atypical Games delivers on. It's a game that pushes iOS devices to their absolute limits, provides PC-style gameplay on the go with gamepad support, doesn't do much hand-holding, delivers dozens of hours of gameplay, offers online multiplayer, and oh yeah, it's only $2.99 for the entire package. And there's not in-app purchases to be found anywhere in the vicinity of the game, because those are for suckers, right?. Atypical Games decided to make a game for this most vocal and demanding of irrational consumer...

In the early months of each year, I like to comb around for anything we might have missed in the rush leading up to the holidays. This extremely intensive effort typically involves heading to the TouchArcade forums and looking for big threads on games we haven't reviewed. Every time I've visited recently, one game keeps surfacing to slap me with its fins: Shark Eaters: Rise Of The Dolphins [$2.99]. While I had originally passed over the game due to its frankly aggravating controls, I saw it received an update that was supposed to address the problem, so I've given it another solid try. While I have to admit it's better than it was, it's still not doing much for me...

'Sneaky Sneaky' Review: Metal Gear Rogue

'Sneaky Sneaky' Review: Metal Gear Rogue

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February 5th, 2015 1:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in $2.99, 4.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Strategy, Universal
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Stealth is one genre that still isn't oversaturated, at least in my own mind. While there have been plenty of stealth games as far back as the NES era, pretty much every title adds in their own signature spin to the formula. Sneaky Sneaky [$2.99] is no different, featuring a tiny little rogue with an adorable pet rat...

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