Category Archives: $4.99

'Mini Metro' Review - Train Braining

'Mini Metro' Review - Train Braining

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December 30th, 2016 12:30 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $4.99, 5 stars, Arcade, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation
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Continuing our year-end mop-up of games we missed out on reviewing at the time of their release for various reasons, the next requested title by our readers was Mini Metro [$4.99]. I've had an interesting relationship with trains over the course of my life. Passenger trains more or less vanished in the part of Canada I'm from when I was relatively young. Like most places in Canada, my town was far too small to merit a local metro system. I mean, we barely had buses. Thus, I didn't end up riding a train of any sort until I was in my twenties, and I picked a wild place to start. Imagine a small-town bumpkin arriving in Tokyo, Japan, and trying to make sense of the colorful spaghetti that is the Tokyo Metro system. After a while, though, I got the hang of it, and I now consider myself to be pretty good at navigating the sometimes seemingly nonsensical connections from place to place in that city...

Ted Alspach's city builder Suburbia [$4.99] is one of the best board games on the App Store, and now it's finally available for the iPhone after a universal update. If you haven't heard of or played Suburbia, this pretty good port of the award-winning board game has you building your city by placing hexagonal tiles with various buildings next to each other. While that might sound like a simple mechanic, the way you match those tiles has a huge impact on how your population grows and how much money is left in the bank. A few wrong moves, and you'll be broke before you know it...




Nomads going on massive treks across the land with their tribes in tow. A lot of quality entertainment has been mined from that concept, most notably in recent gaming history with The Banner Saga [$9.99]. This time, Choice of Games is taking a crack at it with Saga of the North Wind [$5.99], a relatively lengthy adventure gamebook from writer Tom Knights. It's a good idea for a game like this, and the quality of the prose here is strong, but a few elements keep it from being all that it could have been. If you've got an interest in the topic matter, though, you'll probably find something to like here...

For those anxious to see the end of Batman - The Telltale Series [$4.99], you don't have to wait any longer because Episode 5, City of Lights, is now available to download on the app. Despite its many, many technical issues, the Batman series is one of the most interesting takes on the Dark Knight - and especially on Bruce Wayne - which is why it's a real shame most of you haven't been able to really play the game. If you've managed to play it because your device is top of the line (though even then issues abound), then get ready to enjoy the final showdown between Batman and the Children of Arkham...

'Kathy Rain' Review - The Nightmare of the 90's is Alive in Conwell Springs

The point-and-click adventure game genre has seen quite the resurgence. Once seen as incredibly niche, a growing gaming audience has helped provide a market for many future games, many from those who enjoyed the genre back in the day. Kathy Rain [$4.99] deliberately pays homage to the 90's era not only by taking place in the decade of grunge, but through a low-resolution aesthetic that tries to make the game feel like it came from that original era. And thanks to a compelling story, this is a great way to spend a few hours solving a dark mystery...

Apart from being a really creative, awesome RPG, the biggest thing that struck me about the original Siralim [Free] was just how frequently and magnificently it was updated. Everything from balance adjustments to new graphics to entirely new systems was added to the game after its release, and for quite some time, you could be confident that there would always be something new when you fired up Siralim. The sequel, Siralim 2 [$4.99], hasn't seen quite as frantic a schedule when it comes to updates. It appears that the developer is going for bigger, less frequent updates instead, which is fine by me. The latest one has just hit and it's a whopper...

Punch Club [$4.99] made quite a splash when it came out partly because of how well it captured a long-gone era (sorry guys, the 80s are ancient history now) while still managing to modernize the tycoon-genre gameplay. We liked it quite a bit in our review, and I personally really enjoyed the pixel art that looked like a refined (but not too much) version of games like Double Dragon. An article by the developer's art director published yesterday goes into the art process in depth. He talks about how the artwork is drawn and then scaled, and how the scenes are created in terms of making sure the geometry works well...

While it may seem a little dated nowadays with the fast paced technological advancements that are one of the defining attributes of iOS devices, the original Aralon: Sword and Shadow [$4.99] was one of the most noteworthy releases on the App Store, and for good reason. After an age of excited speculation on the upcoming forum thread, the game launched to universal critical acclaim in late 2010 for its ambition, scale, and graphical fidelity which was unprecedented in the early years of the App Store. The 2015 sequel titled Aralon: Forge and Flame [$4.99] may have not been as groundbreaking or revolutionary as the original, but still managed to further refine the formula that was so well received back in the day, resulting in an essential App Store release for anyone looking for their Elder Scrolls-esque RPG fix on mobile devices. In the near future, Galoobeth and Crescent Moon Games are planning on releasing a brand new content update for Aralon: Forge and Flame, with a whole new dungeon as well as some other enhancements that should give fans who have completed the campaign even more adventuring to do on the go...

Crashlands [$4.99] kicked off 2016 with a bang (or, if you'd prefer, a crash) when it launched back in January, and with its incredible attention to detail and interesting amalgamation of action RPG and crafting action, Crashlands is a sure-fire contender for any impending Game of the Year compilations. While the original launch iteration was already outstanding, developers Butterscotch Shenanigans have continued to strive to make the game even better through successive updates that have fixed numerous minor niggles as well as add more substantial features. Today, Crashlands has received arguably its biggest update yet - the Juicemancy 1.2 patch brings with it some major gameplay mechanics as well as support for Bluetooth controllers, which is a suitable excuse for any fans to revisit the game, and a compelling reason for anyone who missed out on Crashlands first time around to experience a true iOS classic...

After what has felt like a horribly long and drawn out 2016, it's finally December, which brings with it a whole host of yearly traditions. Forget the holidays, advent calendars, snowmen and the like - for iOS gaming, it's the inevitable 'Best of 2016' lists which will begin to emerge amongst both critics and consumers, and while there will be some heated arguments along the way, it's a great time to evaluate the past twelve months and revisit some of the classics that have released on our favorite touchscreen platform. For me personally, one of the first games that comes to mind is Human Resource Machine [$4.99] - its programming-based puzzles were extremely compelling and suited to mobile, which coupled with some subtle yet supremely clever presentation resulted in an essential App Store release when it launched back in June. Today, Android gamers can join in the fun, as Human Resource Machine has finally launched on Google Play for $4.99, which is a bargain for the amount of frustration and fun you will get out of Tommorow Corporation's latest release...

'Super Cat Tales' Review - Don't Paws, Play This Nya-ow

In spite of the seeming limitation of having no physical buttons by default, iOS has a lot of really great platformers. Some of them get by with virtual controls, putting some of the burden on the player to simply get used to them. That's fine, but unless the game is a port from another platform, I'm not sure if it's really the best way to go. I think some of the best platformers on iOS are the ones that avoid the temptation of using virtual buttons and find a way to build a game around a more fitting setup. Sure, you have to sacrifice some of the conventional ways of designing levels and obstacles, but in doing that, many games find something new and interesting...

I hope everyone is enjoying their Black Friday, and if you feel like spending a bit more money today, episode 4 of Batman - The Telltale Series [$4.99] is now available. Episode 4's called Guardian of Gotham and (spoilers) finds Bruce Wayne hanging out at the place he usually locks up others, Arkham Asylum. The announcement from Telltale came with a special note regarding Episode 4. Apparently, Episode 4 will leave players in very different places depending where they choose to go in Episode 3. So, expect to have very different experiences from your friends playing the series. A (very) few words about the episodes plot. Bruce is now at his lowest ever and outside the walls of the Asylum, all hell is predictably breaking loose. Now, Bruce will have to pick allies to help him break out, but as you can imagine, there's an interesting selection of allies in the Asylum...

'Demon's Rise 2: Lords of Chaos' Review - And Now, the Other Side of the Coin

More than ever before, a game review these days is often little more than a snapshot of a work in progress. Developers are rarely finished with games just because they've launched, and in certain cases, so much is added after the fact that whatever I thought at a game's release no longer fits terribly well. A fine example of that is Demon's Rise [$7.99], the debut SRPG from developer Wave Light Games. Wave Light worked hard on balancing the game, adding lots of content, and implementing features, taking it far beyond what was in the initial release. In fact, the developer recently updated it again, and will be doing more in the future. It's great, but it also presents something of a challenge when it comes to a follow-up...

'Neon Chrome' Review - The Roguelike That's Just Right

I can't get enough of dual-stick shooter roguelikes, but often the time and effort requirement is too much. I'm more of a gaming tourist – I want to enjoy a lot of different experiences in gaming rather than having to decdicate tons of hours to get the joy out of a single game. Thankfully, Neon Chrome [$9.99] from 10tons, adapted for mobile from PC and console, scratches that itch. It's not easy by any stretch of the imagination, and it can be punishing, but it tones down some of the harsher parts of the roguelike-inspired genre to be more accessible up front for players who just want to enjoy a game of this type. This is a game where you can extract genuine rewards from it in the early hours, while still getting long-term challenge and satisfaction. ..

If you enjoy reading about game development, then you should read this article about the lovely Burly Men at Sea [$4.99]. The blog's written by Brooke Condolora, the artist, writer, and designer behind the game. She talks about the way they constructed this story-building game and how the branching scenes combine to form one overarching theme. They designed the game around the idea of folklore, which influenced the design in terms of length, tone, and moral. The way they went about designing for a cohesive moral was keeping the beginning and end consistent and letting players influence the events between those two narrative points. The game began as a more traditional branching narrative with dialogue choices, but they decided to abandon that for the discovery play style they finally went with...

If you play CCGs, you probably know the name Richard Garfield. If you don't, all you need to know is that he is the game designer who designed Magic the Gathering and also had a hand in games like Netrunner, Battle Tech, and many, many more. Now we just got a drafting card game called Treasure Hunter [$3.99] designed by the man himself. Per the description on BoardGameGeek, Treasure Hunter is all about trying to grab as much treasure and coins as you can in the game's five rounds. There's treasure that isn't treasure, though, so you have to be careful about what you're collecting. You draw a number of cards, and then you pick one and hand the rest to the next player. You continue doing so until everyone has 9 cards...

Back in early August, we caught our first glimpse of an upcoming courtroom drama game from developer Atreyu Games called Twelve Absent Men, and just over a month later we saw it in action with a humorous trailer. Apparently, the game quietly snuck out last week and as of today you can download Twelve Absent Men [$4.99] on the iOS App Store as well as on Google Play. Twelve Absent Men pokes fun at the tropes in your typical courtroom dramas on television and in movies, which always have a way of doing magical things like instantly going to trial after arresting a suspect and of course angering a judge into holding someone in contempt of court. ..

One of the finest crafting/survival/world-building games on the planet is Pixbits' fantastic Junk Jack X [$4.99]. The very first Junk Jack released around this time way back in 2011, but as iOS hardware and software improved and expanded, it led Pixbits to release a greatly enhanced version in August of 2013 which we know as Junk Jack X. As with the first game, the team kept updating and improving Junk Jack X at an almost absurd rate for years, and if you were looking for the most bang for your buck in terms of hours of play then it really fit the bill. Things slowed down a bit though as Pixbits worked on bringing the game to desktop, and the last significant update for the game was in December of last year. Well, Junk Jack X is back with a massive version 3.0 update that pretty much blows anything they've done in the past right out of the water...

Hunters: Episode One was the first real taste mobile gamers had of a complex and console-quality strategy game in the mould of XCOM, and its sequel Hunters 2 [$1.99] was beloved amongst the iOS community for improving on the original whilst retaining the compelling gameplay and stunning graphics (at the time, at least) of the series. When Rodeo Games quietly removed both titles from the App Store earlier this year, many thought the were gone for good - neither had been updated for many years, and with the onset of iOS 10, it appeared this was the death knell for the Hunters series. However, against all odds, today Hunters 2 has returned to the App Store with iOS 10 and widescreen support, as well as other minor bug fixes, which is fantastic news for any veteran gamers who longed to try Rodeo's strategy series again on their newer devices...

Let's be honest: Kemco's RPG release schedule on mobile has always been pretty absurd. They've only been at this for around five years on smartphones and they're nearing 50 RPGs on iOS in English, and even more than that on Android. That works out to an average of just under one RPG per month for five years running. Now, there's a fair bit of repetition from game to game, particularly if you're just looking at the broad outlines, but I feel they've historically been able to mitigate that issue by keeping a handful of developers on tap. This has helped differentiate the Kemco catalogue, to at least a small extent, and has also ensured that each developer has a bit of a buffer between releases...

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