Category Archives: $3.99

I've learned a few things from MetaHuman Inc. [$3.99], the latest interactive fiction release from Choice Of Games. First, with a little creativity, the ChoiceScript engine that powers these games can be more mechanically versatile than I thought it was capable of being. Next, I'm a terrible CEO. Just plain awful. Finally, I don't especially like being a CEO, and that ended up being a problem for me because being a CEO is more or less what MetaHuman Inc. is all about. At the start of the game, you are appointed the job of running MetaHuman Inc., a shady company that produces human enhancements through a variety of means legal or otherwise. The job starts in January, and you'll see it through to the end of the calendar year, at which point you'll face a final evaluation by the majority shareholders. If you fail to impress them, your death is certain...

'A Study In Steampunk: Choice By Gaslight' Review - Holmes Plus Steampunk Equals Excellence

As much fun as they can be, at the end of the day, most pieces of interactive fiction have stories that are good for games. That's the nasty little asterisk that reminds the player not to expect too much from the story, that it has sacrificed literary merit in exchange for getting the reader's input at frequent points throughout. It makes sense, if you think about it. Writing a great story is like making a great painting. The words are the strokes on the canvas of the page, and, ideally, each one will be carefully chosen to serve a purpose. Good writing is hard, in other words. An interactive story magnifies that difficulty greatly, as you now have to create hundreds of similar but equally great works based on how the player decides. Then you have to deal with the expectations of the audience, who generally want lots of action and a brisk pace, preferably with elves or aliens. I love the genre, but mostly because of the fusion of choice and narrative. If you handed me the stories on their own, I'd probably be considerably less thrilled with many of my favorite gamebooks...




There's something to be said about striking the cultural zeitgeist at the right time. Power Hover [$3.99] drops right when people are getting into hoverboards, what with the fascination over this being the year that Back to the Future Part 2 took place in, and those little scooter things that are called hoverboards despite not actually hovering. But I guess they have no better name. Point is, hoverboards are blowing up. Literally. And Power Hover is here to be an entertaining game where you race through deserts, on the ocean, and through tubes, on a hoverboard. It's solid if not amazing, but fun for the time you'll sink into it...

They say that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Which is exactly why whenever I write reviews, I wear my furry Chewbacca bath robe. You don't get quite as disparate, or quite as wide of a gap, as a lowly beggar literally wearing the face of god and getting godlike power in the process. That's quite the promotion! And it's also the premise of the lovely puzzle platformer and debut App Store game from Bad Seed, The Beggar's Ride [$3.99]...

For a game that wasn't received with much excitement when it was released, Sanitarium [$3.99] has held up pretty well over the years. The game first released in 1998, when adventure games were just about to drop off a cliff sales-wise for the next several years. Some of the things it was criticized for at the time actually seem to have anticipated the way the genre would evolve once it became healthy again, making this game something of a pioneer. Even setting its historical value aside, however, it's a compelling psychological adventure ported to iOS in fine fashion by the good people at DotEmu. It has its weak points, but I'd honestly recommend Sanitarium ahead of most other point and click adventures of its era...

'Diabolical' Review - Ridiculously Evil

The flexibility of topics in the interactive fiction genre is one of its greatest strengths. I've said this before, but due to the relatively low production costs of putting words on a page, interactive fiction can take risks that other games dare not. Thankfully, nearly every company releasing gamebooks isn't shy about flexing that privilege. The occasional release even goes for comedy, a fairly hard topic to do well in gaming. Earlier this year, we had the absolutely delightful Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be [$5.99] from Tin Man Games, and now, from Choice Of Games and author Nick Aires, we have the madcap super-villain simulator, Diabolical [Free]. I'm feeling a little bit spoiled, to be honest...

Kemco appears to be on a bit of a strategy game kick of late on iOS, with Legend Of Ixtona [$3.99] releasing a few months ago, and now, Legna Tactica [$3.99]. Well, I can appreciate them wanting to change things up a bit here and there. Although I know many of their fans appreciate the regular trickle of traditional JRPGs, there has to be some kind of saturation point. Forty titles in, Kemco might just be finding it. Of course, it's also possible that their stalwart developers simply feel like making something different. Whatever the reason, we've got another strategy RPG in front of us, and I'm sure no one will fall out of their chair when I say that it's very derivative of the classic Tactics Ogre. This genre seems to have trouble shaking off Yasumi Matsuno's influence, and Kemco certainly weren't going to be the ones to do it...

I don't know about you, friends, but when I play games that give me moral choices, I tend to stick to the good side. When it's time to play the evil side, I really have to push myself into doing the bad thing, even knowing full well that it doesn't actually hurt anyone. I guess all those Saturday morning cartoons and superhero comic books worked. In games, as in cartoons and comics, it's usually pretty easy to sort out the good side from the bad side. Rescuing kittens from trees is good! Lighting a tree full of kittens on fire is bad! It's pretty rare for a game to present genuinely difficult choices that have no clearly just answers. The latest interactive fiction release from Choice Of Games, Deathless: The City's Thirst [$3.99], had me second-guessing myself all the way through. It's ultimately the best quality in a story that otherwise feels a bit episodic and unfocused...

Controls define how a player will interface with the experience that a game is trying to provide. If the controls are subpar, the experience will suffer. But sometimes, offering just different control mechanisms can change the experience in and of themselves, despite each being effective in different ways. PixWing [$3.99] is one of those games, offering both a gyroscopic control scheme to fly around, but also a virtual joystick scheme. At first, the game made you at least play through the tutorial with the gyroscope, since the game is centered around moving your body to navigate the wolrd, offering the virtual joystick as an alternative. This reinforced the intended way to play the game, but it came with a drawback: if you tried playing the game in public for the first time, you were liable to look like a lunatic...

As we learned this past June, the developers of stunning table tennis simulator Table Tennis Touch [$2.99] have been hard at work on a multiplayer update for the game, and today that update has gone live in the App Store. And let me say that this update is quite a whopper, adding in a ton of new stuff besides the expected multiplayer mode. ..

'Hopiko' Review - Gotta Go Fast

Laser Dog Games' Hopiko [$0.99] is a title I've been dying to see come to fruition since I first saw it and played it. The preview build I got to try had some real promise, but the game has come so far along that it's become this amazing, cohesive, and stylish experience. It's a demanding game, and one with some flaws, but Hopiko is too cool to pass up...

Back in June, a little puzzle platformer by the name of Furdemption [$2.99] launched in the App Store from developer RareSloth. Underneath its adorable, unassuming look lied one of the most challenging and satisfying gaming experiences I've had in some time. Not only were its 100 initial levels fiendishly clever and well-designed, but its main bunny character was cute as a button which made for an interesting juxtaposition with the game's many gruesome death animations. It was an easy decision to award Furdemption 5 stars in our review, but just a short while later in mid-August a huge content update arrived adding 40 additional levels, new mechanics and enemies, and Game Center integration. How could it get any better than that? I'll tell you how: Furdemption is getting a level editor...

A couple of weeks ago we broke the news about Frogmind's exquisite and often-updated cave flyer Badland [$2.99] getting level editing functionality, and as of this morning the update with the level editor has gone live in the App Store. This level editor is actually a streamlined version of the one Frogmind built and used to create the actual levels in the game, though it's been fancied up a bit to be friendlier for normal people to use. Here's a brief trailer showing off some of the features in Badland's new level editor...

'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 [$3.99 (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 [$0.99] 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 [$2.99] 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

StarStarStarStarStar
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 [$0.99] 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...

Copyright 2014, TouchArcade.com, LLC.