Category Archives: $4.99

Framed [$0.99] 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 [$2.99] 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 [$4.99], 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...

The fourth and final installment of Forge Reply's digital gamebook Joe Dever's Lone Wolf [$0.99] is now officially available for download, just as we learned it would be earlier this month. The new installment, titled Act 4 - Dawn Over V'taag, will run you $4.99 if purchased on its own, or if you've previously bought a Season Pass it will simply be available for download. Here is a trailer detailing the Dawn Over V'taag episode...

Character action games are a genre that feels underrepresented on iOS, perhaps because they inherently rely on complex button combinations for combat that just don't translate very well to the touchscreen. Well, about a month ago, Ghost Blade [$4.99] launched on the App Store seemingly out of nowhere, and set a standard for how these types of games should be built for the touchscreen. Rather than rely on a set of virtual buttons, Ghost Blade uses intuitive touchscreen gestures for its combat mechanics, and it works incredibly well, creating a very satisfying experience. ..

App Store Classic 'Space Miner' Getting a Modern Update, Sequel Still in the Works Too

I've mentioned this before, but I have a list of games that I'd do practically anything to have them be updated for modern screen sizes and iOS versions. There have been a lot of amazing games released on iOS in its fairly short history, but not all of them are in a position to be continuously updated to keep up with new iOS software and hardware. Some of those games aren't even available anymore, probably for that very reason. One of the games that was very high up on my update wish list is Venan Entertainment's Space Miner: Space Ore Bust [$3.99 / $3.99]. Well, I'm very happy to say that Venan has posted in our forums that an update is in the works for Space Miner that will bring support for all the different iOS screen sizes as well as iOS 8...

If you loved Final Fantasy Tactics [$13.99 / $15.99 (HD)] but thought it would be better if all of the characters were anime girls, then Japanese indie SRPG Rime Berta [$3.99] may have caught your eye. It's a clear tip of the hat to games like the aforementioned, and in a lot of ways does a very competent job of aping its overall presentation and many of its systems. It's a bit lean on content, which is perhaps understandable given the size of the developer, but its biggest failings are in the fundamentals. It's a serious problem when there are quite a few excellent strategy RPGs on the App Store that, even if nothing else, manage to nail those aspects. In the end, Rime Berta is all dressed up with no place to go...

'Ghost Blade' Review - Something Wicked This Way Comes

If you asked me a couple of months ago to make a list of game types that were highly unlikely to ever be realized in a satisfying way on a touchscreen, I can guarantee that stylish action games would be on the short list. The sub-genre launched when wunderkind director Hideki Kamiya sat down to make another Resident Evil game, decided that it would be more fun if every attack felt as good as doing a headshot with a shotgun, and ended up creating Devil May Cry. One game does not a sub-genre make, but once Tomonobu Itagaki created his masterpiece re-imagining of Ninja Gaiden, we were off to the races. It's not the most prolific genre, probably because it's so hard to do right, but it's seen its share of hits including the mainstream-friendly God of War series, the campy and cool Bayonetta, and the amazing parry-focused Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. These games are usually characterized by their highly-technical, deep combat, where players are graded according to how well they can dance to the game's beat. This usually involves a lot of different buttons, and we all know how well that usually works out on a touchscreen...

'Skater' Review - Two Shoes and a Board

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October 24th, 2014 4:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in $4.99, 3.5 stars, Game Center, Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation, Sports
$4.99 Buy Now

Skating games were my life for months at a time. Whether it was the next Tony Hawk iteration or EA's SKATE, every time a shiny new skating title would hit my doorstep, I'd be engrossed in that world for weeks on end. I wasn't the best skater in the real world, but digitally I was a pro, ready to ride with the best of them. That feeling has been missing for quite a while now after both franchises have been put on hold, but Skater [$4.99] for iOS recreates some of that magic on the go...

As fans of Pixbits' Junk Jack X [$4.99] are well aware, the developers of the 2D crafting adventure game are always on top of holiday-themed and seasonal content updates. With Halloween approaching at the end of this month, Pixbits has pushed out their latest update for Junk Jack X, and it's stuffed like a scarecrow with all sorts of spooky new goodies. There's a new Halloween biome, new mobs like a Zombie Witch and Black Cat, spiders that will drop from trees (yuck), new Halloween cooking recipes, and lots more...

Final Release Version of Mojang's Card Battler 'Scrolls' Expected Late Next Month

A small team in Mojang’s studio in Stockholm, Sweden has been quietly and unassumingly developing Scrolls, a card-based tactics battler, for over three years, always seemingly overshadowed by something else. First, always and inescapably, by Minecraft [$6.99], a world-conqueringly massive phenomenon that grabs attention like a black hole grabs light. In 2012, the game was the subject of a trademark dispute with Bethesda Softworks, who argued that the title infringed on their Elder Scrolls series. The lawsuit was settled and Scrolls moved into open beta last year, without much fanfare. Microsoft’s recent announcement that it plans to acquire Mojang for $2.5 billion once again dominates any discussion about the studio or its games...

Reckless Racing 3 [$2.99] delivers a style of racing that honestly is reckless, with the loose-controlling cars making perilous turns and drifting around, rubbing paint and just generally making a mess of the proceedings. This has been the series' modus operandi, and it does its job very well, at being a chaotic racing game that's easy to pick up but always hard to control, by design...

To a great degree, I applaud Electronic Super Joy: Groove City [$4.99] for managing to bring a challenging trial platformer from PC to iOS without much compromise. It's a game that will test players, but thanks to its simple control scheme, it winds up being a great fit on iOS. It's perhaps more built for replayability than completion, as the dozen-or-so levels are far more rewarding to those trying to complete them quickly and with as much collectibles as possible, but there's still a lot to like for those who like to be tested...

House on Fire's point-and-click adventure game The Silent Age [Free] just got updated with its second episode, available now. Serving as the finale of the game, this episode has players still controlling Joe, the time-traveler who's trying to discover the apocalyptic event that wiped out humanity – and to just maybe try to stop it, solving puzzles by swapping between 1972 and 2012. Episode Two is available as a $4.99 in-app purchase, with Episode One being available for free as always...

'Crimsonland HD' Review - Can't Beat The Real Thing

It's fun to think back to the launch of the Xbox 360 in 2005, when out of all the possible choices for a breakout early hit, the one that most gamers flocked to was the humble Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. Starting as an in-house test demo, it's still amazing to me that this little game not only carried a console through the dry launch period all hardware suffers from, but also dragged a sub-genre back into viability, where it still sits to this day. Suddenly, twin-stick shooters were popular and prolific in a way they perhaps never were before. Mobiles have particularly enjoyed the fruits of that success, with a load of great twin-stick shooters already and more releasing all the time. But although the genre was fairly quiet in the years prior to Geometry Wars, like any dormant genre, it wasn't completely dead. One particular standout was 2003's Crimsonland [Free], an early effort from a name many iOS gamers know quite well, 10tons Entertainment...

'Skullduggery!' Review - Collecting Taxes via Brain Flinging

Clutch Play is headed back to mobile with their sophomore title, Skullduggery [$2.99]. No bones about it, this game is a head turner. You can find platformers of all shapes and sizes on iOS but this one is the head of its class. Just looking at the graphics(and my amazingly funny jokes), you can probably already guess there are plenty of head and brain puns to be found in this app. What you find underneath, however, is a really great game...

Imagine you're the creator of Dragon Quest [$2.99]. You've successfully streamlined the somewhat impenetrable RPG genre to a point where anyone and everyone can play the game and enjoy it, and now it's time for a sequel. Obviously, people are ready and asking for something a bit bigger and more complex, and simply delivering something in the same scope as the first game isn't going to satisfy them. How far do you walk the concept back to its inspirations, Wizardry, Ultima, and the like? That's a question I suspect Yuji Horii grappled with when coming up with Dragon Quest 2 [$4.99] , and while he wouldn't hit the sweet spot until the next installment, it's undeniable that the sequel to Dragon Quest is a considerably bigger and slightly more sophisticated game...

'Spirits of Spring' Review - A Powerful, Cathartic Experience

Let me begin this review by lighting the "Experience Game" signal, just so that we're starting off with clarity. I've talked before about the distinction between games focused on mechanics and what I usually refer to as experience games, particularly in my review of Monument Valley [$3.99]. As you would probably expect from Minority Media, the developers behind PlayStation 3 game Papo & Yo, their new game fits firmly into the latter category. In Spirits Of Spring [$1.99], the mechanics exist only to serve the experience, so if you're mostly into mastering play mechanics, I guess this review was a short read for you. There are no fail states in this game, it's relatively brief in run-time, and you're never asked to do anything terribly difficult with the few abilities you have at your disposal. Those who enjoy games that focus on delivering an experience, on the other hand, will find something more than worth your time and money. It's a bittersweet exploration of bullying, from both sides of the fence, and though its hand is perhaps a little too heavy at times, I still found it to be a very precious journey...

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