Category Archives: $7.99

Perhaps Playdek took the Cold War theme of its game a bit too seriously when it decided to stealthily unleash Twilight Struggle Mobile [$7.99 (HD)], its port of the classic board game, onto the App Store. Twilight Struggle, the award-winning, card-driven board game that simulates the Cold War, has been very eagerly awaited by board game fans, so I was expecting the iOS release of the game (it's been out for PC for a few months) to come with a bit more fanfare. Still, I'm not complaining one bit because this one might be a great game to play during my upcoming (very long) flight...

'9th Dawn 2' Review - Jumpin' Hack Slash

'9th Dawn 2' Review - Jumpin' Hack Slash

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March 22nd, 2016 10:30 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $7.99, 4.5 stars, Action, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
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The original 9th Dawn [$2.99] was released almost three years ago. It didn't look like much, but as long as you could get past the humble presentation, you would have found an open world action-RPG with a scale few other iOS games can match. It had a clunky user interface and for those who prefer a more guided experience with their RPGs, its old-school nature could be off-putting. Personally, I loved the game, as it brought back fond memories of fumbling around in games like Ultima, and the lack of explicit story-telling was often made up for by the provocative world design. The sequel, 9th Dawn 2 [$7.99], has a few useful changes to address issues with the the original game, but for all intents and purposes, this is another heaping plate of the same taste. If you couldn't get enough of the first, you can throw down your money without fear. 9th Dawn 2 won't let you down...




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...

Based on a novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033 has quickly become the video gaming world's third-favorite post-nuclear-apocalypse setting, give or take a rank or two. Set in a world where a nuclear war forced Moscow's survivors to live in the underground subway stations that sprawl out under the city, it's a setting ripe with possibilities for games. Ukrainian developer 4A games apparently felt it would make a good first-person shooter, and they proved themselves right in 2010 with the release of Metro 2033 on Xbox 360 and Windows PCs. That game was followed by a sequel called Metro: Last Light, and I'm quite sure we'll be seeing more games coming in that particular series. Russian developer DaSuppa and publisher TapStar Interactive seem to have come away from the book with a different kind of game idea, perhaps figuring that the struggle for resources and sprawling map filled with nodes would make a good strategy game. They weren't wrong. Metro 2033: Wars [$5.99] is awfully rough around the edges, but it's at least worth checking out for patient strategy fans who are looking for a lighter bite...

Let's be honest: when it comes to mainline Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy 2 [$7.99] is the Rodney Dangerfield of the bunch. While it has its flaws, it's not nearly as bad as its reputation would have you believe, and it actually lays down some important foundations for things the series would become famous for. Yet, because of its poor standing, it tends to sit near the bottom of most people's lists, and that seems to include Square Enix itself. The iOS port of Final Fantasy 2, which arrived way back in the pre-iPad days on the coat-tails of its more popular predecessor, has suffered from issues for years at this point. The first game, which suffered from similar problems, received an update earlier this year, but as the weeks went by, it seemed like Final Fantasy 2 was getting left out in the cold yet again...

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 feel like I've written about this before, but Kemco and their developers have an odd approach to sequels. They're not too big on them, for starters, with only EXE-Create among Kemco's stable of developers doing them with any sort of regularity. Then, when they actually do sequels, there are virtually no links at all to the previous games, save perhaps a single character or location that reoccurs. They'll even completely change the gameplay systems to the point that no one would be able to guess it was a sequel if it weren't labeled as such. It's not something that bothers me much in general, but Asdivine Dios [Free / $4.99] is one case where I would have appreciated a safe sequel. I've made no secret of my opinion that the first game, Asdivine Hearts [$3.99], is the best game in Kemco's iOS line-up, and I was rather excited to hear the series would be continuing...

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...

Heroki [$4.99] is a game I desperately wanted to love. It hits a lot of my buttons: it's a stunningly gorgeous game. It's a platformer-type game that's centered around premium experience, and charging a fair price. It is a game I desperately want to do well. I want other big publishers to see that charging reasonable prices for well-made premium experiences is a viable business strategy for mobile games. I want there to be an audience for this. Plus, it's just so well-made, and its protagonist is adorable in the way an older Sega character might be. It does a lot right, and I am invested in this game's success. The problem is that the game is just kind of blah. It isn't bad. It just isn't very memorable. ..

Arriving a bit later than the week's other new games, Sega and developer Picomy have finally released their gorgeous touchscreen platformer Heroki [$4.99]. I say "finally" because Heroki has been in development since 2010, which might as well be a century in App Store terms. However, after experiencing just the initial intro video and tutorial portion, I can tell this one was worth the wait. You play as Heroki, a young boy with a propeller on his head who has the ability to fly around. In fact, everyone in this world seems to have propellers on their heads. It's just normal for them I guess! ..

I rag on Kemco quite a bit sometimes, but I really have to commend them for sticking to their guns even as the whole market has changed around them. Just about every month, we can look forward to getting at least one traditional JRPG, albeit with wildly varying levels of quality between titles. To the best of my knowledge, they are pretty much the last publisher on Earth regularly serving that niche, as even companies like Square Enix are shifting further towards the popular social RPG model that has captured the affections of Japanese gamers. I may not like every game they release, but I greatly appreciate what they're doing. Their latest iOS release in English, Legend Of Ixtona [$3.99], has the publisher taking on a slightly different, but no less traditional, model of RPG. It's an isometric turn-based strategy RPG in the style of Yasumi Matsuno's Tactics series of games, and although it's a bit rough, it's surprisingly decent for a first effort...

In the ever-present artistic struggle between playing it safe or trying something new at the risk of failure, most of the games that Kemco releases fall in the former camp. Sure, almost every game has something unique about it, but it's often buried in minutiae that even most genre fans don't pay much attention to. Their latest game, from developer Hit-Point, is the most unusual RPG they've published in quite some time. I'm an old hand at this genre, as regular readers know, and my initial reaction to Valkyria Soul [$3.99] was a disproportionate amount of excitement. The game looks like nothing Kemco has released on iOS before. The tone of the story is different from Hit-Point's usual breezy fare, and it even has a more competent translation than we typically see from that developer's works. The game doesn't even have the standard top-down dungeon exploration, playing out instead from a pure side-scrolling viewpoint...

I've reviewed a lot of Kemco games in the last couple of years here at TouchArcade, and while the quality varies wildly, I can easily say my least favorite of that two dozen, give or take, was Shelterra The Skyworld [$3.99]. It basically encapsulated everything that I dislike about developer Magitec's games. The archaic engine with its jerky scrolling, the localization so stiff you could iron a shirt on it, the irritating dungeons that have you doubling back and forth hitting switches with damage floors everywhere, the asinine approach to character development, and more all added up to one sad little reviewer. Every time I see Magitec's name on a new Kemco release now, I take a deep breath, flinching the way one would when a static shock is expected from a touch...

I've reviewed more than 20 RPGs from Kemco since I started at TouchArcade in mid-2013, so I like to think I've got a pretty good handle on what to expect from each game at this point. Oh, the quality varies somewhat unpredictably, but the basic outlines each developer for the publisher employs are well-established by now and all too familiar. Every once in a while, however, one of those games dares to color outside the lines just a little bit, and when that happens, you can usually find Hit-Point's name listed as the developer. Such is the case with Seven Sacred Beasts [$3.99], a strangely experimental title whose chief virtue is that it doesn't just feel like a new story plugged into the same old gameplay. Instead it's the opposite, which might seem like a good thing, but ends up causing some serious problems...

The new year is already off to a great start for iOS RPG fans. We've received a port of the wonderful Dragon Quest 5 [$14.99], an excellent puzzle RPG in Hero Emblems [$3.99], and even a couple of indie surprises in the form of Lowlander [$1.99] and Adventure To Fate: Battle Arena [Free]. I'm feeling pretty good about 2015's potential RPG line-up already. While we don't know exactly what's in store for us, there is one thing we can surely count upon: Kemco will be here with about a dozen new RPGs, some of which might even be good. That said, they're not getting off to a great start with Dead Dragons [$3.99], their first release of 2015. While it's not as lousy as some of their efforts, I'm not sure it's actually worth your time and money, either...

Developer EXE Create seems to have their business all sorted out when it comes to putting together an enjoyable JRPG on a Kemco-sized budget. Even at their worst, we end up with something like Infinite Dunamis [$3.99], a solid effort whose chief offense is in its lack of ambition. More typically, however, an EXE Create release will fall among the best of prolific publisher Kemco's mobile catalog. The developer has a particular strength for characterization, casting their adventures with clashing personalities and a hero that shows actual growth. This work is backed by surprisingly strong localizations, resulting in a story that's fun to play through even if the overall plot isn't all that special. In terms of gameplay, they tend to play it safe most of the time, but unlike their stablemates at Kemco, even if they're not strong at a particular design element, they at least turn in a good enough effort that it doesn't detract from what they do well...

If you haven't played Papers, Please[$7.99 (HD)] yet, I am going to save you some time. Go buy this game. I don't care if you buy it for your iPad, your computer, your tivo, or your pocket watch, just get it and start playing. A little over a year ago, developer Lucas Pope struck gold with a game that ostensibly is about being a clerk for the fictitious, yet highly Russian influenced, country of Arstotzka. Now that it's out for iOS we wanted to give you a little assistance with getting through the game and into those 20 different endings. ..

You know, I've had a lot of people ask me why I cover every single one of Kemco's RPG releases. They're a big time sink to play and few people seem all that interested in them until they're on sale for $0.99, at which point people tend to buy them blindly without even knowing or caring about their merits. Sometimes, I even ask myself if it's worth the bother when I could be working on other things. Then, a release like Shelterra The Skyworld [$3.99] comes along and totally clarifies why I started writing about these games in the first place. ..

'RPG Asdivine Hearts' Review - Credit Where It's Due, This Is Really Good

Well, friends, it was bound to happen sooner or later. A couple of the developers of Kemco's regular RPG releases have been dancing at the knife edge of quality for a while now, and it was only a matter of time before one of them finally lined up all the pieces and created something truly excellent. I always knew it would be you, EXE Create. Asdivine Hearts [$3.99] isn't just Kemco's best RPG release to date, it's one of the better original JRPGs available on mobiles from anyone. It doesn't transcend the genre in any meaningful ways, but every aspect of it not only shows a desire to change things up a bit, but to make sure all of those ideas actually work well together. If you like JRPGs and want something that isn't a port of a classic, this game should definitely be on your short list...

Let's be frank, video games based on team sports aren't known for revolutions between updates. That reputation was mostly earned by them being among the first types of games to adopt a yearly release schedule. As it turns out, games take a lot of work to make, and if you're committed to meeting a particular date every year, there's only so much you can risk upheaving. Given this long-held tradition in the genre, I almost instinctively wasn't surprised to find that NHL 2K [$2.99] is, shall we say, a modest step forward from the last hockey game 2K released on iOS. Shaking away that initial gut reaction, I then remember that this isn't a yearly update, and it has in fact been over four years since NHL 2K11, and in that context, it's almost embarrassing how little has been done here. If you're looking for a decent hockey game and you don't have NHL 2K11, it's easy enough to recommend NHL 2K. It's competent, and there's honestly little competition even across the entire handheld spectrum. If you do have 2K11, the question of whether it's worth it gets a bit trickier...

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