Category Archives: $3.99

'Dandy: Or A Brief Glimpse Into the Life of a Candy Alchemist' Review - Sweet Gameplay Wrapped In Tasty Visuals

To explain why I wanted to give Dandy: Or a Brief Glimpse Into the Life of a Candy Alchemist [$3.99] a try once I saw it pop up on the App Store, I first need to talk a bit about the type of shoot 'em ups I enjoy. One of the few genres of games I've never cared much for is bullet-hell shoot 'em ups, those games where you fight a constant hail of fire while trying not to get a headache from all the blinking and flashing. The shoot 'em ups I enjoy are the slower ones, the kind that forces you to study your enemies and devise strategies on the go (like the PC game The Binding of Isaac for instance), and this is precisely the kind of gameplay Dandy offers. ..

Way back in the before times, when I was a little fellow attending elementary school, I often found myself doodling on the paper in front of me. Well, to be honest, I did that in junior high school, high school, and university, too, but that's neither here nor there. The point is, my imagination wandered frequently, and conspired with my hand to try to keep the whole system from going to sleep. I feel like I drew all the standard things: dinosaurs, super heroes, video game characters, the screaming souls of the damned as they burned in searing agony for all eternity, fighter jets, ALF, and of course, space ship battles. I would doodle an assortment of ships on the left, another group on the right, then simulate their battles. Sentinel Command [$6.99 (HD)] reminds me of those hand-sketched battles, but with rules, challenge, and all kinds of good things like that...




While paid games are certainly not the way to make money on mobile, there's still hope for deelopers looking to, you know, sell a game up front. The developers of Prune [$3.99] have reported that they've sold over 100,000 copies since release – and at $3.99 per copy (before Apple's 30% cut), that's a great performance for a small indie team of two people that worked on the game. Certainly, it's a positive sign for paid games...

iOS Classic 'Badland' Getting Level Editor Soon, Beta Testing Starts Today

Back in April of 2013, developer Frogmind released Badland [$0.99] into the App Store, and I don't think anyone at the time could have imagined how much it would evolve over the years. The release version of Badland had a striking visual style, and more importantly it had compelling gameplay that worked beautifully with simple tap controls, which is imperative for a successful iOS game. But the real magic has come since that release, as Frogmind has been incredibly dedicated to furthering Badland and it stands as one of the most updated games in the history of iOS. Tons of additional levels, multiplayer modes, missions, achievements, and much more. Today, Frogmind has unveiled perhaps the biggest update for Badland yet, as they're prepping a brand new level editor for the game. This trailer shows it in action, and it looks really cool...

It's been a couple of months since Kemco's last release on iOS, the mediocre strategy-RPG Legend Of Ixtona [$3.99]. That game was developed by WorldWideSoftware and was if nothing else different from Kemco's usual fare. Interestingly enough, their latest game, Tears Revolude [$3.99], is once again developed by WorldWideSoftware and also a bit different from their norm. Fortunately, it pulls off what it's going for a bit better than Ixtona did, but unfortunately, only a little bit. Still, I'm a little impressed at what the developer has set up here from a technical perspective, and I hope it bodes well for the future...

'Galactic Keep' Review - Keeping Me Up All Night

'Galactic Keep' Review - Keeping Me Up All Night

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August 20th, 2015 2:18 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $3.99, 5 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
$3.99 Buy Now

For some game developers, it's almost a law that a game has to be fun within a certain number of minutes. That was particularly true back in the arcade days, and I suppose things have come full circle because it seems to be especially true now. I think there's a lot of merit to that philosophy, but like any attempt to make a rule like that, it doesn't fit every game. Galactic Keep [$3.99] is not very fun in the first few minutes, perhaps even in the first twenty. It's confusing, it offers little guidance, and it's just sort of frustrating. A player would probably be forgiven for giving up on the whole thing and jumping to something that offers a smoother and more obvious slice of gratification. Let's be honest, there are plenty of games where if the first few minutes are rough, things don't really pull up. But there are also cases where the confusion clears up, the goals start to become more tangible, and frustration melts into a feeling of pure satisfaction. Galactic Keep is one such case...

'Prune' Review - Let it Grow on You

I must admit, Prune [$3.99] snuck up on me though it probably shouldn't have. Made by ex-AAA developers out of Madison, apparently the game had been floating around the midwestern games scene, and I somehow missed it until I got an email about it a couple days ahead of launch. And holy heck, do I wish I had seen this sooner, because Prune is a gorgeous and unique experience...

Of all the stories I expected to experience this week, a cross between a dating simulation and 21 Jump Street was not especially high on the list, but here we are. Sword Of Asumi [$1.99] is a visual novel with mild dating sim elements that casts you as an undercover assassin trying to root out the source of a terrorist threat at a school. You'll have to pose as a schoolgirl for however long it takes to find the culprit, with your superior keeping an eye on you as one of the teaching staff. I'll be honest: I think that's an absolutely brilliant premise for a game like this. It's a good central plot to build a story around, providing reasons to mingle with as many people as possible in a variety of locations. There are potentially great conflicts if you happen to get close to someone who is involved in the nefarious plot. There's a reason this all worked so well for Fox in the late 1980s...

I rag on Kemco quite a bit sometimes, but I really have to commend them for sticking to their guns even as the whole market has changed around them. Just about every month, we can look forward to getting at least one traditional JRPG, albeit with wildly varying levels of quality between titles. To the best of my knowledge, they are pretty much the last publisher on Earth regularly serving that niche, as even companies like Square Enix are shifting further towards the popular social RPG model that has captured the affections of Japanese gamers. I may not like every game they release, but I greatly appreciate what they're doing. Their latest iOS release in English, Legend Of Ixtona [$3.99], has the publisher taking on a slightly different, but no less traditional, model of RPG. It's an isometric turn-based strategy RPG in the style of Yasumi Matsuno's Tactics series of games, and although it's a bit rough, it's surprisingly decent for a first effort...

'Fearless Fantasy' Review - The Stuff of Nightmares and Dreams

When tinyBuild’s turn-based RPG was released on Steam almost a year ago, players flocked to the game’s highly unique visuals and interesting take on RPG turn-based battle mechanics. Some even pointed out that the game would fit well on iOS devices. Indeed, we’ve been keeping tabs on a potential release even before an open beta was held on our forums earlier this year. Well, after a complete overhaul of the game’s art assets, as well as an extensive period of fine-tuning its mechanics, Fearless Fantasy [$2.99] is finally out on iOS and is well worth the wait...

'Rex Rocket' For iPad Review - Mega Man Meets Metroidvania In This Excellent Action Adventure

If there's one thing I should have learned after being into video games for as long as I have, it's that nature abhors a vacuum. Even after watching countless genres swing out of and back into fashion over time, I still sometimes find myself lamenting the lack of games of a certain type during the quiet periods. After seeing Castlevania leave the hands of Koji Igarashi and Nintendo seemingly giving up on Metroid for the moment after the disappointing reception to Other M, I grumbled about the seemingly dim future of the Metroidvania sub-genre. Looking around today, I clearly needn't have worried. After all, there are more people making games than ever, and more games being released than ever, so any holes left by the big players are likely to get filled by smaller developers looking for a niche. Especially so if said hole is a genre near and dear to the hearts of many gamers-turned-developers, the way Metroidvanias seem to be...

One side-effect of Apple requiring an annual fee from developers is that, if the developer goes out of business, their games drop off the App Store. That's what happened with Spanish indies Blue Shadow and their gravity-based platformer Naught. So while anyone with an Android device can still download Naught and its sequel, they've been missing from the iOS App Store. You can't keep a good indie team down, though, and now former Blue Shadow developers have returned as Wild Sphere, and Naught is back on your Apple device...

In the ever-present artistic struggle between playing it safe or trying something new at the risk of failure, most of the games that Kemco releases fall in the former camp. Sure, almost every game has something unique about it, but it's often buried in minutiae that even most genre fans don't pay much attention to. Their latest game, from developer Hit-Point, is the most unusual RPG they've published in quite some time. I'm an old hand at this genre, as regular readers know, and my initial reaction to Valkyria Soul [$3.99] was a disproportionate amount of excitement. The game looks like nothing Kemco has released on iOS before. The tone of the story is different from Hit-Point's usual breezy fare, and it even has a more competent translation than we typically see from that developer's works. The game doesn't even have the standard top-down dungeon exploration, playing out instead from a pure side-scrolling viewpoint...

'Out There: Ω Edition' Launches on PC and Mac, but the Free iOS Upgrade Should Follow Soon

Last week, Mi-Clos Studio released Out There: Ω Edition, a graphical overhaul of last year's excellent iOS space-faring adventure game, on Steam for Windows, OS X, and Linux. The Ω will come as a free upgrade for Android and iOS players who purchased the original, but we haven't heard much about it since last year...

I've been kicking this review down the road for a while now. I don't typically wait for games to get patches before reviewing them, because once the game is on the store, it's fair game for any customer to buy. I had to make an exception in the case of Echo Dawn: Shattered Visions [$3.99], which worked on my device when I first grabbed it, then broke with the next update, then broke some more before finally getting fixed with its last update. That's not a promising start to a review, I know, but I think it's important to be clear about one side of Echo Dawn. It lacks polish in more ways than one, and there's really no ignoring that aspect of it. There's another side to Echo Dawn, however, and it's a far more pleasant one. It's an enthusiastic indie take on a typical JRPG, more complete than many that attempt to deliver a full package, and it has some genuinely interesting gameplay systems, even if they don't quite come together as cleanly as one might hope...

I've reviewed a lot of Kemco games in the last couple of years here at TouchArcade, and while the quality varies wildly, I can easily say my least favorite of that two dozen, give or take, was Shelterra The Skyworld [$3.99]. It basically encapsulated everything that I dislike about developer Magitec's games. The archaic engine with its jerky scrolling, the localization so stiff you could iron a shirt on it, the irritating dungeons that have you doubling back and forth hitting switches with damage floors everywhere, the asinine approach to character development, and more all added up to one sad little reviewer. Every time I see Magitec's name on a new Kemco release now, I take a deep breath, flinching the way one would when a static shock is expected from a touch...

Earlier today we sat down with Disco Pixel, makers of the rhythm title Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas [$1.99]. Since its release in 2014, Jungle Rumble has seen enough success in various markets to warrant some significant updates, which were revealed to us at GDC...

'AG Drive' Review - Doesn't Reinvent the Hover Engine

You just don't see a whole lot of ugly futuristic racers. Even if a game has ugly visuals, it can be excused away as a lo-fi stylistic choice to represent the vagueness of the future, or some artsy gobbledygook like that. But often, because the games can be big, bold, and colorful because they're playing with exaggerated fantasy, futuristic racing games can be gorgeous. Wipeout has always been a great-looking franchise. AG Drive [$3.99] follows that Wipeout formula - deliver fast-paced futuristic racing that's absolutely stunning to look at. This is a solid futuristic racing game that's quite easy on the eyes...

Rarely does a game make me question the reason for its very existence. Often times, the objective is clear enough. A game might want to tell a story, to thrill the player and test their reflexes, or even to just make a lot of money by capitalizing on a particular trend. But with Tempo [$1.99], I just cannot for the life of me conceive just why does this game exist? Who thought this game was a valid idea that should exist? It's not a bad idea, but it's the video game equivalent of building a bridge in the middle of a field. Sure, it can be a structurally sound and beautiful bridge, but what exactly was the point of building it in the first place?..

I've reviewed more than 20 RPGs from Kemco since I started at TouchArcade in mid-2013, so I like to think I've got a pretty good handle on what to expect from each game at this point. Oh, the quality varies somewhat unpredictably, but the basic outlines each developer for the publisher employs are well-established by now and all too familiar. Every once in a while, however, one of those games dares to color outside the lines just a little bit, and when that happens, you can usually find Hit-Point's name listed as the developer. Such is the case with Seven Sacred Beasts [$3.99], a strangely experimental title whose chief virtue is that it doesn't just feel like a new story plugged into the same old gameplay. Instead it's the opposite, which might seem like a good thing, but ends up causing some serious problems...

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