Category Archives: $4.99

'Space Marshals' Review - Some People Call Me Maurice

Space Marshals [$4.99] is not the dual-stick shooter you probably were expecting – at least not as a mobile game. This is a slow-burning, tactical shooter, eschewing the typical fast-paced, high-score-obsessed affairs that many dual-stick shooters try to be. Instead, this is about stealth, and using sounds to distract enemies, and trying to avoid wild firefights as much as possible. And it's from a company known for racing games. Yet, Space Marshals does a lot right, including with its reward-based loot system. This is the first episode of a series, and there's plenty to look forward to from this game, though there's a solid amount of game here already...

10tons' Crimsonland HD [Free] has just gotten an update with a feature that not a lot of folks may be able to use, but should be pretty fun to play with for those who have it: local co-op with multiple MFi gamepads. The co-op mode was available in other versions of the game, but wasn't on iOS – until now. While MFi gamepads are still a bit pricey, if you and a friend have the game and an iPad or at least the ability to hook up to a TV, you can go through the entire game in co-op mode, with support for up to four players, all using their own gamepads...

This news flew under the radar a bit, but a few weeks back Coffee Stain Studios spelled out their plans for Goat Simulator [$2.99] on mobile, and fans of the wacky sandbox game should be pretty excited about it. As they explain in a post on their blog, they're currently working on bringing a new level, Goat City Bay, as well as "a ton of new goats" to the iOS and Android versions of Goat Simulator. Even though this is content that's already in the PC version of the game, they have to essentially build everything from scratch in order to make it work in the mobile version, which is then followed by ""months of optimizing, building and testing in a cycle that takes a really long time." So it's not like they're ignoring you, mobile goat enthusiasts, it's just time-consuming work...

I don't know about you guys, but out here on the Northern California coast, it's been raining like crazy. Which means it isn't exactly ideal conditions to hit the streets and go skateboarding, which makes virtual skateboarding on your iOS device a lovely alternative. This week, two of iOS's best skateboarding games, True Skate [Free] and Skater [$4.99], received updates adding in new content. Check out the details of each update below and go hit the virtual streets...

The Kingdom Rush [Free / Free (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 [$2.99 / $4.99 (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...

It feels like ages ago that Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars [$4.99] made its way to the iPhone, and it kind of was. It was all the way back in January of 2010. That was at a time when it still felt like "Wow! A big publisher bringing a major IP to my little iPhone!? Amazing!" But beyond just being a major coup for iOS as a fledgling gaming platform, Chinatown Wars actually made a ton of sense for the iPhone. It was originally developed as a Nintendo DS exclusive, so it had both portability and touchscreen implementation built in from the beginning, which translated extremely well to iOS. But as I said, 2010 was a long time ago, and Chinatown Wars on iOS hadn't exactly aged well over the years...

'Tales from the Borderlands' Review - Less Loot, More Talk

The idea of Tales from the Borderlands [$4.99] was certainly an intriguing one once it was announced. The Borderlands series definitely has a unique feel to it from its setting, dialogue, and characters that can be easily screwed up by a developer not quite in tune with the way the series operates. The good news is that Telltale Games are experts at story, so the idea that they could approach and do justice to this universe while also expanding on it in a way that isn't just a loot-filled first-person shooter is an interesting proposition...

It's been just over a year since FDG Entertainment and Cornfox & Bros. dropped the seafaring adventure Oceanhorn [$8.99] in the App Store, and today to celebrate how wonderful this past year has been FDG has dropped the price on the game for the first time ever, down to $4.99 from its normal price of $8.99. We loved Oceanhorn a year ago in our original review, and then back in August a huge content update was released adding even more great stuff to an already great package. Oceanhorn has also been consistent with updating for new iOS features and hardware, most recently getting an update last week that took advantage of the power in the latest iPhone and iPad devices...

It's always kind of sad when a game stops being updated and stops working. When you combine the chaotic and unpredictable effects that an iOS system update can have, along with the fact that updating a game might not be worth the time and resources to actually do so, sometimes games just die off. Sometimes developers and publishers pull the games, or just leave them in the store, and caveat emptor. Look at Geometry Wars: Touch [$0.99], for example: it's got issues on iOS 8.1, which is sad as it's got all the cool modes from Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2. Some may have thought Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light [$4.99] was consigned to a similar fate. It even disappeared off the App Store at one point, and hadn't been updated for three years. Well, out of nowhere, the game's been resurrected and updated for compatibility in 2014!..

In August of last year, 505 Games in partnership with Re-Logic released Terraria [$4.99] on iOS, a mobile version of the ultra-popular crafting/action/adventure/platformer on PC and console. Compared to its PC and console counterparts, Terraria on iOS was pretty stripped down, but still incredibly fun. 505 has worked diligently over the last year adding new content to the game, mostly special holiday-themed updates. The most significant updates to the game have been when it received local multiplayer in November of last year, and when it received the Hard Mode update this past August which essentially let you play a New Game+ with a ton of new stuff after defeating the final boss. This latest update though, version 1.2, blows everything else out of the water...

Framed [Free] feels like the first half of what should be a really good game. It's a title with a great premise: rearranging comic book panels both in order and rotation so that the protagonist in the scene makes it to the end without getting detected by cops or falling to their doom. The cops in the world of Framed were not the academy's best and brightest students, as they don't even turn around for the protagonist running through doors right behind them. "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" is the motto of the Framed Police Department, but good for the characters in this game, all trying to get control of a mysterious briefcase...

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the States, and as with pretty much any major holiday developer Pixbits have updated their phenomenal crafting adventure game Junk Jack X [$4.99] with holiday-themed content. There's a new Pocket Turkey rare pet, a craftable hay bale block, new dyeable wood panels which can be coupled with the new sloped barn roof and supports so you can build your very own barn(!), and finally there's a Thanksgiving zombie that will drop a rare "weapon" should you come across it. Yes, they put "weapon" in quotes because I imagine it's something silly like a turkey leg or maybe a poisonous buckled hat...

Even if you've never heard of the Lone Wolf series of gamebooks written by Joe Dever (with their sporadic publishing history I wouldn't blame you), Joe Dever's Lone Wolf [$0.99], a new adventure made specifically for mobile platforms, has got a lot of initial punch. While everything seems to start like any other gamebook you've played on iOS, as soon as you reach the first battle of the game, it's clear that this game has got some strong ideas about where to take gamebooks in the future. The 'Wow' factor of turning the page to an illustration that comes to life in full 3D can't be underestimated, but in its quest to escape the shackles of its old format, Lone Wolf trips over some very familiar problems inherent to its new one. In the style of our reviews of The Walking Dead [Free] and The Wolf Among Us [Free], this review will be appended to as each new act releases...

'Crystal Siege HD' for iPad Review - Tower Defense Ain't Dead Yet

Certainly, tower defense is a genre where it's difficult to really rock the boat too much, especially since the genre's evolution was accelerated by the fact that it was a great fit for mobile, and everyone and their mother decided to apply their take on the genre. But hey, the games are still pretty fun, and there's still the occasional title with a clever twist on the proceedings. Crystal Siege [$4.99 (HD)] from Carrot Games and FDG Entertainment tries to apply an action-RPG take on tower defense, without drifting too much into the action-RPG side of things, like Dungeon Defenders [$2.99] does. As such, this winds up being a take on the genre that does some great things for itself while not rocking the boat too much...

One of the true App Store classics is Kairosoft's 2010 release of Game Dev Story [$3.99], which was pretty much just a simple port of a game that they originally released on PC in Japan in the late '90s. It wasn't the prettiest game, nor did it have any fancy features that took advantage of iOS's capabilities. What it did have was an unparalleled gaming experience that let you create your own fictional game company and release your own fictional games. The amount of tongue-in-cheek humor and video game cultural references was incredible, and the game itself was a very satisfying simulation. The game's popularity prompted Kairosoft to release a multitude of similar simulations for mobile devices, and while many of them are quite good there's really nothing that's topped Game Dev Story...

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