Category Archives: $4.99

If you thought you'd be able to kick back and soak in some Final Fantasy IX [$16.99] since its surprise launch earlier today, I have some bad news. Or good news, depending on how much free time you actually have and/or how massive your backlog already is. The classic Ys action RPG series continues on iOS with Ys Chronicles 2 [$4.99], which just dropped mere moments ago from the fine folks at DotEmu...

Apple has touted its new Apple TV as a gaming machine, but truth is we haven't really seen too many good games on the device yet (with some notable exceptions). Go Rally, a racing game developed by Inputwish and published by Chillingo, hopes to shine on the device by offering players pass-and-play multiplayer and easy controls. The behind-the-car racing game offers time-trial competitions, where you can compare times with other players in the same room as you, a full-on career mode, car upgrades and customization, and over 100 tracks set in a variety of environments and weather conditions...




Many 20th century governments have risen and fallen on the power of the word. While sudden explosions of dissent have marked the often-televised end of regimes like Romania's Ceouseskou in 1989, it was the power of the official or underground press that often initially held these governments in power and fomented the dissent that led to their downfall. And these words in official propaganda or unofficial, subversive propaganda (because any information with an angle is, technically, a form of propaganda) caused suffering and death and ruined millions of lives. That's why when I started playing The Westport Independent [$4.99], a "censorship simulator" according to the App Store description, I was expecting my words to cost many lives, my decisions to matter both in terms of gameplay but also in terms of making me care about the lives lost, even the imaginary ones...

Ever wondered what it takes to make a game like Fireproof Games' The Room Three [$4.99]? Is it a lot of work drawing and designing every single item in spectacular detail, or does it involve late-night sacrifices at the altar of the Game Design Gods? Fortunately (?) for all those involved, it's the former as we can see in this huge collection of art and sketches that went on to become the intriguing and quite beautiful The Room Three. The Flickr Album has more than 30 photos and really highlights the crazy amount of work that went into the making of the game. There are, for instance, detailed sketches and early 3D drawings of some of the boxes and items and the reasoning behind the inclusion of the various objects and locations, like explaining the inspiration behind the Paper Theater that players find in the mezzanine theater of the Library...

As pretty much anyone who even just casually follows iOS gaming knows by now, last week brought the release of Crashlands [$4.99], an ambitious open-world action-crafting-adventure from the three brothers at Butterscotch Shenanigans. Not only was Crashlands born out of an inspirational story of facing and defeating cancer, but the game itself fully lived up to the hype and I don't think I've ever seen a mobile game (or any video game, really) that's been as universally loved as this one. Anyway, with the launch date finally coming and going, and Crashlands officially out there in the wild, the Butterscotch Bros. penned a quick blog post over the weekend with a few thoughts on where they're heading with the game's forthcoming updates...

The App Store is pretty much overflowing with games that are trying to capitalize on your nostalgia. It seems like many developers hope that aping familiar art styles and systems will elevate their otherwise amateurish endeavors. There is nothing wrong with making a love letter to a series you enjoyed growing up, don’t get me wrong, but it’s becoming a tired gimmick. Then, a few cool cats from Russia follow the same principle of nostalgia, except like Ivan Drago from Rocky IV, it’s veins are coursing with steroids instead of blood, and you get a game so jam packed with references and tropes that you can’t help but smile. Until the grind kicks in that is. This is Punch Club [$4.99]...

'Crashlands' Review - Holy Wompit, This Is Outstanding

This might sound odd, but I hadn't been paying much attention to Crashlands [$4.99]. I had read the inspiring story behind its genesis, and I knew it was some sort of crafting game. I knew the developer, Butterscotch Shenanigans, has always turned out quality games. But because I had initially pegged it as being something outside of my usual interests, my eye was off the ball. I'm glad for that, because it allowed me to approach this game without too many preconceptions or any sort of hype build-up. If anything, I wasn't sure if I'd like it as much as another reviewer might, since I rarely get deeply into games built around crafting mechanics. Crashlands had to win me over, in other words, and my biggest surprise is how fully it did so...

If the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have one lesson to teach us, it's that pizza is awesome. If they have a second lesson to teach us, it's about the value of teamwork and watching out for your friends and family. The thing is, outside of the multiplayer TMNT games, we're usually only seeing one of the brothers in action at a time. Sure, you can usually choose your favorite turtle, but what would Master Splinter say if he saw the team separated all the time like that? TMNT - Portal Power [$3.99]'s main claim to fame, as near as I can see it, is that it allows you, nay, requires you to control all four of the turtles at once. If that sounds like it could get hectic, you're right. Portal Power isn't quite as deep as some other TMNT games, but it's still a pretty fun game that fans of the characters should enjoy...

Once upon a time, in the long-ago days before mankind knew how to wield fire, you could count the number of Kemco RPGs on the App Store on one hand. Among those early releases, one of the best games was Fantasy Chronicle [$4.99], among the first iOS releases from developer Hit-Point. Unlike their Kemco stablemate EXE-Create, Hit-Point isn't too big on making sequels to their games, preferring to come up with something a little different each time. It's a little surprising, then, to see Fantasy Chronicle get a sequel after several years. If Justice Chronicles [$4.99] is any indication, I think I'd like to see Hit-Point make sequels more often...

One of the greatest things about iPads (and iPhones to a certain extent) is being able to bust one out with a group of friends and all get down and dirty with some same-device multiplayer gaming. It's a niche market for sure, but there's nothing quite as fun as trash-talking someone to their face as multiple people all try to utilize the same tiny screen space. It's couch gaming with your buddies for these modern times. ..

'Minecraft: Story Mode' Episode 4 Review - Between 'A Block and a Hard Place' is Not a Great Place to Be

Marriage is a tricky, tricky act, isn't it? Quite often those joined in holy matrimony don't really fit well together, and even when they do, compromises must abound if there is to be any kind of happiness in their new union. And when the marriage is of two very different people, the challenges are even greater. If you've played Minecraft (either the mobile or the PC version) and any of the Telltale games, then you already know why I started my review of Minecraft: Story Mode [$4.99] with these metaphors. When Telltale told the world that it would apply its narrative-based formula on Minecraft, the game that's now synonymous with sandbox, many gamers wondered whether Telltale could pull it off and whether Minecraft players would bother with a developer that put their beloved open-world game in a narrative straight-jacket, possibly chopping off any parts that refused to obey the narrative techniques that Telltale has used in its other series...

Xenoshyft [$4.99] is a board game turned digital game that had a rough start in life but has been stubbornly improving ever since. Its latest update has finally made the game much more playable on iPhones, a common complaint among players. If you haven't played the game yet, Xenoshyft came out as a physical board game first after a successful Kickstarter campaign and then made its way to mobile. It's a deck-building game where you defend against waves of aliens either in solo or in co-op mode. In a way, it's a base defense game with cards, and it can often get quite intense as you try to survive wave after wave while fighting against pretty bad odds. The game already has a few of the expansions available as IAP, and I suspect more will be coming...

Off-beat simulation game developer Kairosoft has slowed down their iOS releases considerably in the last couple of years. That was probably a wise move, given how many elements each of their games tends to share with the rest. With new games from the developer coming only a few times a year now, it's easier to appreciate each one of them on their own merits, and it hasn't hurt that their recent releases have demonstrated an effort to break out of the reskinning that categorizes most of their work. The Ramen Sensei [$4.99], their latest iOS release, isn't as innovative as it could be, but its tight focus on its unusual subject matter helps it stand out a little. That said, unless you're really into the subject of ramen, this game is still essentially preaching to the Kairosoft choir...

In December of 2012, developer Renegade Kid released their excellent action platformer Mutant Mudds [$4.99] on iOS following its release on 3DS the previous January. The game's main hook revolved around jumping between the foreground, middle ground and background of each level in order to discover new areas and solve puzzles, and it was incredibly fun. In fact, despite being initially build for a handheld with physical buttons and relying heavily on precision platforming, Mutant Mudds translated extremely well to the touchscreen. ..

'Badland 2' Review - The Pursuit of Flappiness

It’s weird how much gaming has changed since I was a kid. In the old days, sequels usually meant a game would be bigger and better in nearly every way, with more levels, characters, new modes, etc. Consider Perfect Dark, the spiritual sequel to Goldeneye 007, for example. It was absolutely bursting with new stuff to do. There was the campaign and multiplayer (like Goldeneye), but it also had a brand new challenge mode, a gun range, a co-op and counter-op campaign mode, a main menu that you could walk around in, and a massive customizable bot mode that I lost a large chunk of my adolescence to. These days, though, things are a bit different. Because games tend to have more content added through updates and DLC, that means version 1.0 of a sequel can often feel a bit lacking. It’s especially striking when you consider iOS classic Badland [$2.99], which is certainly one of the most updated games I can think of. It’s the reverse of my Perfect Dark example, where the original game is the one now bursting with levels and modes while the sequel feels a bit sparse in comparison. It’s an interesting problem to have, but even despite that, I think Badland 2 [$4.99] is a superior game to the original, with the potential to surpass it many times over in terms of quality and amount of content...

It's often said that in game development, ideas are cheap. What that means is that everyone has ideas for games, but actually bringing an idea to the finish line and creating an honest-to-goodness final product requires a lot of hard work and dedication from people with particular skills. I think it's not so much meant to say that a good idea is worth nothing, just that it's easier to come up with a decent idea than it is to actually make it. Good ideas are still an important part of any great game, and every once in a while, someone has an idea so good that it can carry entire games or series. Such is the case with Scribblenauts, previously seen on iOS in the form of the best hits-style Scribblenauts Remix [$0.99]. The game has plenty of rough edges, but the idea behind it is 100% solid gold. More stunningly, developer 5th Cell was able to largely realize that golden idea, and were richly rewarded for their efforts...

The release of Zodiac: Orcanon Odyssey [$4.99] was fraught with controversy when people found that the game was buggy and ended before all of the content in the game was made available, with the seeming episodic nature of the game being made clear only later. Well, Kobojo, after some behind-the-scenes discussions, has decided to make some changes to the game's price and to try and keep original buyers happy...

It seems like 2015 is the year of long-awaited games finally releasing. This year we've had Spider: Rite Of The Shrouded Moon [$2.99], Galactic Keep [$3.99], The Room Three [$4.99], and Dragon Fantasy: The Black Tome Of Ice [$9.99], among others, and it looks like we're going to be ending the year with another game that's been stewing for awhile: the follow-up to 2010's Aralon: Sword And Shadow [$4.99], from Galoobeth Games and Crescent Moon Games. For its time, Aralon was almost unbelievable for a mobile game. Offering a big 3D world that felt considerably more detail, open, and alive than the one found in Crescent Moon's previous title, Ravensword, Aralon felt like a big step towards having a fully-featured, modern, WRPG-style game on iOS. That was in 2010, however, and I'm sure I don't need to tell anyone how the market and player expectations have shifted in the intervening half-decade. Aralon: Forge And Flame [$4.99] is stepping out into a much different world than the one that welcomed its predecessor, and it doesn't quite have the sizzle to fill the footsteps it's walking in...

Late last year, iOS gamers were treated to an excellent port of the cult classic Xbox title Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath [$2.99]. In my review of that game, I sounded off on the series on the whole, making no bones about my admiration for the tight design and excellent gameplay found in Stranger's Wrath, referring to it as without question the developer's best game. I also made no secret of my feelings about the previous games in the series, which I've always felt were lovingly-crafted but ultimately quite middling outside of their production values and strong art direction. I think there are valid reasons why they were like that, but the point remains that I don't think very highly of the gameplay they offer. I guess that's kind of a foreboding way to start this review, but stay with me...

Yesterday we learned that Telltale Games would be releasing the newest trailer for Episode 3 of Minecraft: Story Mode [$4.99], their story-driven take on the hit sandbox game Minecraft, and true to their word the trailer has arrived today. We originally mistook their announcement that Episode 3 itself would be arriving today, rather than just the trailer, and were really excited at the brisk pace which the team had been releasing new episodes compared to their other episodic games. However, along with today's new trailer comes a release date for Episode 3 and it is in fact continuing that brisk pace with Episode 3 set to begin rolling out next week on November 24th...

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