Category Archives: $2.99

In the first half of 2014, the hottest trend in war strategy games was the Eastern front of World War 2. We had entries from Hunted Cow, Shenandoah Studio, and Slitherine, all within a fairly short span of time. Slitherine's title, Frontline: Road To Moscow [$2.99], was a slightly more accessible strategy game than their usual fare, and although it lacked the depth that fans of the genre tend to crave, I enjoyed it well enough. The game had a huge variety of units to play with, took terrain conditions into account, and had just enough below the surface to keep me engaged without crushing me. On top of that, the visual designs of the pieces were excellent, the base game included a generous amount of missions, and while it did release in a bit of an Eastern front boom period, the overall scenario was still quite novel for me. In theory, I should be the perfect target for a follow-up...

Some developers take a long time between game releases, making each one an often-painful wait between titles. If you're a Nitrome fan, you have no idea what I'm talking about. The pixel art aficionados and creators of Icebreaker [$0.99 / $2.99] have been on an utter tear on mobile in the last few months, with five games since August 2014, and three since December 2014, with the third being Gunbrick [$0.99]. Where Roller Polar [Free] and Platform Panic [Free] were both meant to be smaller arcade-style games, Gunbrick is a more fleshed-out, level-based puzzle-platformer. It's a game that's here and gone, though, being all too brief...

In May of 2013, developer Mode 7 released Frozen Synapse [$9.99 (HD)] for the iPad, a tactical strategy game that had received critical praise when it released on PC and Mac the year before. Unsurprisingly, the game translated incredibly well to the iPad. However, ever since its iPad release fans had been clamoring for Frozen Synapse on the iPhone. Being that the interface of the game was already quite busy even on the larger iPad screen, an iPhone version would be a challenge, but in April of last year Mode 7 promised just that. It took quite a while, but Frozen Synapse iPhone [$2.99] is finally now available...

One of the great things about the mobile platform is it's a perfect place to experiment with new ideas. Simogo is the first name that comes to mind when I think about who is pushing the boundaries of interactive storytelling using the strength of mobile devices. Today, a new game is making waves for its similarly unique way of telling a story, and that game is Mayday! Deep Space [$2.99] by Daniel Wilson, renowned author of tons of robot-themed literature including the New York Times bestseller Robopocalypse...

I must admit that I am a sucker for games with good craftsmanship. For me, good visuals, refined controls, little details, things that can seem often shiny and superficial reveal something to me, especially when they come from a smaller developer: they reveal that there is perhaps a deeper quality to pay attention to here. Crossy Road [Free] was so excellent to me not just because it is so much fun to play, but little details and tweaks made to game feel abound in that game, and they push it from "entertaining diversion" to "supremely excellent game." What we have here in Bit Dungeon 2 [appprice url="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bit-dungeon-ii/id823658485?mt=8" is the flip side of that coin: what happens when a game has a compelling structure, but lacks that last stretch of quality that makes the great games what they are? You're left with an experience of what could have been...

The end of November saw the return of one of iOS's first platforming game mascots with the release of Bounce On Back [$2.99 / Free], the third entry in the Bounce On series. This week Bounce On Back received its first content update. The update includes Game Center leaderboard integration, so you can compete with the world on level completion times. The game also received its first batch of Challenge levels with more planned for future updates...

Do you love Galaxy Trucker [$7.99 (HD)] on iPad but are sick of having to squeeze your iPad into your JNCO jeans? Well good news then, as a pocket-friendly iPhone version appropriately called Galaxy Trucker Pocket [$4.99] snuck its way into the App Store over the weekend just beating out the dreaded iTunes freeze...

Super Glyph Quest [$1.99] is quite popular around these parts, as we were big fans of the game in our review, and the forum thread is several hundred posts strong, with the developers joining in and chatting about the game. It's a game that's still growing, too, as it's just gotten a nice content update for Christmas. There's a new location, the Frozen North, where players have to take on Ice Goblins and Arctic Trolls, and meet new characters Ice Queen Yngvill and Julenir, completing quests for them. There's new items to collect, and an overhauled Adventure system to boot...

More old games are coming back, y'all! I don't know if iOS 8 was just that destructive of an update to a bunch of games that developers felt the need to update their classics or if this is just all coincidental, but we're seeing a lot of games make comebacks after a long while. And the latest on that list is 1-bit Ninja [$2.99], which has just been updated to support iOS 8, and throws in long-overdue iPhone 5,6, and 6 Plus support, and makes the game universal for iPad...

The Kingdom Rush [$0.99 / $2.99 (HD)] series has been one of the most popular tower defense franchises out there, and it's thanks in part to its introduction of action and RTS elements with the summonable reinforcements, and the hero units that can be sent across the battlefield to help take care of any threats. It gives this genre a fresh feel, and not just about sitting back and watching towers annihilate enemy creeps. Now Ironhide Games continues the franchise with Kingdom Rush Origins [$0.99 / $1.99 (HD)], a game that iterates on the formula that previous entries established. It's still a solid game, but it's pretty clear at this point that it's a series just for fans of it, and I failed to find any reason for newcomers to particularly jump in to this entry in particular...

Developer LuGus Studios has launched Planet Pinball Pro [$1.99] on the App Store today. This looks like a pretty neat take on pinball, where players take on challenges on a three small tables. Scoring big numbers of points will be required to unlock later levels. There's a mission system that players have to take on to help provide some goals to aim for, along with a leveling system. It'll be possible to get powerups to help get some advantages and score more points...

I don't think there's enough good roguelikes and roguelike-inspired games on mobile, given how much sense the genre makes for mobile, since it's so highly-replayable. The first Bit Dungeon [$0.99] was a roguelike-inspired game I enjoyed in my Android days, and now developer Kinto has just released a sequel, Bit Dungeon 2 [$2.99], on several platforms, including iOS. This is a challenging action-RPG where there's a unique permadeath system: when you die, you lose your soul, and must go back to the spot where you lost it to get it back. If you don't, and you die again, then it's game over and you start all the way over from level 1. You start off basically naked, and must find or buy a weapon pretty much from the get-go...

'Bean Dreams' Review - Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

Holy heck, does Bean Dreams [$0.99] knock it out of the park. The first Bean's Quest [$2.99] game from Kumobius was a solid game, with inventive ways to approach platforming on a touchscreen-based device. But after they applied their time-traveling take on Tiny Wings [$0.99 / $2.99 (HD)] with Time Surfer [Free], and gave the challenging arcade game genre an artsy twist with Duet [$2.99], now they return to their original game. And it's clear that the studio has picked up on a lot of lessons from the past few years, as Bean Dreams is possibly Kumobius' best game yet, streamlining the original's concept into a tight and concise experience that they can only further build on and make better...

I've been reviewing games for more than 15 years now, and one of the things that is still sometimes hard for me to sort out is how much value to place on creativity, or I suppose, how harshly I should criticize a game that lacks it. I don't think every game needs to reinvent the wheel, but I also think it's important that some games do strive to do new things. Otherwise, we'd all still be playing Pong and Space Invaders clones and nothing else. That said, a well-made game whose only real fault is playing it safe can still be quite enjoyable. Swords Of Anima [$2.99] is quite well-constructed, surprisingly so given that it's a rookie effort from a small developer. It's also a fairly rote take on the turn-based SRPG genre, so if you're looking for something that shakes up genre conventions, this one's probably not going to do it for you...

One of the things I love about RPGs is how wide and diverse the genre is. There are so many different things an RPG can do well to make a name for itself, whether it be telling a great story, having deep character customization options to play with, bringing an interesting world to life for players to explore, using interesting combat mechanics to force you to think in new ways, or any other of the genre's fine traits. Generally speaking, no two RPGs are quite alike, and some of them are so different from each other it's a wonder we fit them into the same genre at all. I enjoy digging into any RPG and trying to find that thing that makes it special, and even if it's not to my personal tastes, it's always interesting to see how it works and who it might appeal to...

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