Category Archives: $2.99

'Pixel Dungeon' Review – Simple Name, Legendary Game

Eons ago, a roguelike was created, and lo, all was good. The game was highly praised, and many flocked to bask in it’s simple but difficult glory. This congregation became a community, discussing the game’s many elements and even creating a wiki, raising the lowly game to great new heights. The roguelike grew over time, incorporating new mechanics and levels, but still something was amiss. This game was not to be found in lands of iOS. Thus a prophecy was born, that this game would come to iOS, heralding a great new age of…. Something, something. That’s getting tiresome. Long story short, Pixel Dungeon [$2.99] is here, fools!..

The Quadsphere's latest game, Icarus-X: Tides of Fire [$2.99] comes out firing with a great idea: combine a bullet-hell shoot 'em up with the loot systems seen in modern RPGs. You play levels, and can get new weapons and shields to do more damage and deal with enemy threats more effectively. You can also level up, applying points to a skill tree. It's an idea that really works for the game, and is a cool fusion of two notable genres into one package. The problem is that the game tries to stretch a limited amount of content into a full game, and it grows tiring quite quickly...




'Piloteer' Review - Joyride in a Jetpack

'Piloteer' Review - Joyride in a Jetpack

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June 30th, 2015 12:24 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 5 stars, Arcade, Games, Reviews, Universal
$2.99 Buy Now

I was about five years old when film The Rocketeer hit theatres, so I don’t remember a whole lot about the characters or plot. What I do remember is strapping a pair of 2-liter bottles to my back and zooming around my backyard like a lunatic. I’m almost afraid to re-watch the movie now that I’m older, because I have nothing but good feelings about it currently and I don’t want cold hard reality to tarnish them. That childhood wonder I felt while pretending to fly around in an awesome dieselpunk jetpack was pretty priceless, ya know?..

Terminal Velocity [$2.99] is one of those games I vaguely remember playing from my childhood. It's something my uncle may have brought over once, and ended up leaving in my PC, allowing me to play it for an extended period of time. But even after all that gametime, it sort of went in and out of my memory banks, and after playing it recently on a mobile device, I can see why...

The Harmony series knows what it is and is quite comfortable in its skin. That might be one of its better qualities overall. The games use a basic, simple-to-understand mechanic to set up increasingly devious puzzles, trying to wind you up more and more. While the games work hard to frustrate you in that respect, the most relaxing, gorgeous music plays in the background, making it nearly impossible not to chill out. This odd discord makes for a compelling combination of flavors, and each installment simply drops another few scoops on your plate. Harmony 3 [$2.99] follows the pattern to a tee, which makes this an awfully short review if you've played a game in the series before. Did you like it, and want more? Buy this one, you won't be disappointed. Did you dislike it or become tired of its bag of tricks? Then you won't find anything to grab you here...

There are plenty of things I appreciate about Cartoon Survivor [Free], a new isometric platformer from Australia-based Spunge Games. Most immediately, it has a strong and cohesive visual design, full of bright colors and cute animations. The level designs are clever and packed with secrets to find, some of which may require you to come back with gear you'll earn later in order to get the best time. There are unlockables both of the cosmetic and practical type, giving you something tangible to shoot for as you play through. It also gives you enough levels for free to get a feel for the game before it asks you to pay to unlock the rest, and in an unusual turn, allows you grind up in-game currency and pay that way. You're probably waiting for the other shoe to drop right about now, and it will. But don't worry, it's only a little shoe. A booty, at best...

There simply aren't enough heist games out there. I would have played at least three licensed Oceans 11 games, but the deals involved in a potential project like that would be an impossible task. Alas, there are a few indies here and there that fill that gap, including Monaco: What's Yours is Mine, one of my recent favorites. Robbery Bob 2: Double Trouble [$2.99] is no Monaco, but it's a pretty fun little sneak-fest...

When I got my very first iOS device, there were a few genres in particular I had hoped and imagined would be well-represented on the App Store. I've talked before about my early search for a good Picross-style game, but the other kind of game I was looking for was a first-person, turn-based dungeon crawler, along the lines of Wizardry, The Bard's Tale [$2.99], or Etrian Odyssey. I felt that would be a pretty good kind of game to play on a smartphone, and surmised that there ought to have been plenty by the time I made my late entry. The problem is, even with the recent renewed interest in the sub-genre, it's actually pretty niche, and even the genre descriptor causes confusion thanks to the conflation with Diablo-style dungeon crawlers. I asked many people at the time, but nobody seemed to be able to point me towards anything that satisfied what I was looking for...

'You Must Build A Boat' Review - You Must Buy This Game

To tell you the truth, friends, I'm actually pretty busy working on something today. That said, I was asked to come and write something for all of you about the new follow-up to Luca Redwood's 10000000 [$2.99]. It's called You Must Build A Boat [$2.99], and it's every bit as compelling as the first game. Did you like the first game? Do you enjoy puzzle games? Do you like games? You're going to want this one, trust me...

'Dead Eyes' Review - 28 Apps Later

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June 3rd, 2015 2:30 PM EDT by Chris Carter in $2.99, 3.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$2.99 Buy Now

How many zombie games can you take in a lifetime? A thousand? A million? Some people can't even take just a few. These days, you don't really have a choice. Thankfully, Dead Eyes [$2.99] is a decent game by any standard, whether you're fed up with the shambling dead or can't get enough of their lifelessness...

This review comes with a small caveat: you have to like the rock band Queen even a little bit to appreciate this game. Otherwise, read this review as a commentary on how a "band" iOS game should be made. And now that we are done with that, let's talk about Queen: Play the Game [$2.99], a mobile game released yesterday out of the blue. I'm quite a Queen fan ever since forever; still, I approached this game to see both what it could offer Queen fans but also how it stands as a model for licensed band games. I'm happy to say that I enjoyed playing the game, and as long as content keeps on coming its way (as the developers said it will), Queen: Play the Game will stand as a great "gameficication" of everything Queen...

'Drylands' Review - A Great RPG/Platformer that's Anything But Dry

It's one thing for a game to promise players the moon and the stars, and it's another for it to actually come close to delivering what it promised. Angry Bugs' Drylands [$2.99] has managed to both promise and deliver a great iOS game that manages to artfully blend RPG and platformer. A few weeks ago, I decided to preview Drylands because the promises of a Fallout-like game for iOS were sirens too enticing to ignore. My time with the game back then left me hopeful that Angry Bugs hadn't made their promises lightly; the developers were really trying to evoke those old PC RPGs that have gone down as among the most influential games of all times. Even though the game had a failed launch (technical issues due to the 8.3 iOS update), the developers weren't deterred and even managed to improve the game for its second, official launch. The game is a pleasure to play and adds to iOS a kind of game it was missing, a quality RPG platformer that will keep players entertained for hours...

'Bad Dinos' Review - Yabba Dabba Defense

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May 26th, 2015 12:30 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 3.5 stars, Games, Reviews, Tower Defense, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

I, Nathan Reinauer, have a problem. Buried somewhere deep in my soul, I think I may have known it all along. I’ve tried to blame others, but I’m starting to believe it is, in fact, my fault. Yes, it’s time I face the music and finally admit it to the world: I’m bad at tower defense games...

Imagine you’re in a room by yourself. Every so often someone comes by and slips a piece of paper under the door with Chinese characters on it. You don’t know Chinese yourself, but you do have a book that can help. You simply look up the characters in the book and it’ll tell you what should be said back based on the rules of Chinese language and conversation. You don’t actually understand any of what you’re writing, but the person on the other side of the door is convinced they’re conversing with someone who is fluent. This is John Searle's "Chinese Room" thought experiment, and I was reminded of that while playing Sleep Furiously [$2.99] by Playmation Studios...

Wow. Talk about an iOS dynasty. It's been five long years since Miniclip.com published the port of the original Fragger [$0.99] to the App Store. All this time later, Harold Brenes, the original creator of Fragger is back with a long, long awaited sequel, Fragger 2 [$1.99]. I mean, 5 years? That's ancient history in mobile gaming. Not quite 'cradle of life,' 'dawn of man' ancient, but still pretty darn old. Ancient Greece, maybe. Anyway, was the wait worth it? Did anyone really want this sequel?..

'The Enchanted Cave 2' Review - Cave Glory

Enter the dungeon, go as far as you can, gather some loot, get some experience, and get out before you get killed. Go back in, get a little farther, grab a bit more loot, get a bit stronger, and escape again. Almost every great dungeon crawler has a pretty similar hook to it, and it works time and time again. It's fun to build a character, something that sits at the heart of almost all RPGs and, these days, plenty of non-RPGs. There's a certain thrill in finding a special piece of equipment we haven't seen before, too. But the biggest thing I think the sub-genre has going for it is its near-perfect realization of risk vs. reward. Oh, every game uses this to some extent, or at least the decent ones do, but the reward is usually something relatively meaningless. A little more progress, a nice power-up, a cool new gun, or something like that. The Enchanted Cave 2 [$2.99], like most of its dungeon-crawling brethren, puts an extra ante on the table, something more precious than any piece of loot: your time...

Lifeline [$0.99] is a gamebook/choose-your-own-adventure novel that tries to do something a bit different from other games: it is designed as a game where you experience it through notifications as much as you do through the app itself, with simple A/B choices to make. It's got Apple Watch compatibility, so it's meant to be something that you can experience anywhere, at any time. It also plays off of the ways that we receive notifications on our devices, and wait for responses. It's a clever concept, with great writing, but it falls apart after the first playthrough, when the waiting gimmick quickly grows old and hinders the experience...

When we say a game is "love it or hate it", we typically mean that some people are going to dig it and other people aren't. Destiny Emerald [$2.99] is "love it or hate it" in a different sense. Sometimes I love the game, and other times I hate it. I can't really decide which one is the overpowering feeling here. I love that it's a fairly straight gameplay homage to the older Legend Of Zelda games, and that unlike most efforts in that vein, it actually delivers a satisfying, lengthy adventure. I love the thematic tip of the hat to Falcom's Legacy Of The Wizard, with a whole family of selectable characters each with their own talents. The visuals are generally appealing, and the dungeon design is solid, if a little uninspired. I hate the unforgiving collision detection. I'm not a fan of the technical issues that end up slowing the game to a standstill or warping my character when the screen scrolls. The game's economy is completely broken, and it has a serious effect on the overall experience...

Sometimes getting a second chance works to your benefit, and this seems to be the case for Angry Bugs' Drylands, a post-apocalyptic RPG that briefly appeared on the App Store a few weeks ago only to disappear like all joy and happiness did in the recent Batman trilogy. Drylands' developers apparently fell victim to iOS 8.3 (as did many other developers, most notably Spiderweb Software), and decided to pull the game and fix it rather than just wash their hands of the whole thing. Many in the forums were wondering what the future holds for Drylands, and, fortunately, I have some good news on that front...

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 [$3.99] are all signs of a genre that is casting off the limitations of the past and charging into its own unwritten future...

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