Category Archives: Free

Craneballs’ Splash Cars [Free] may look like a version of Pako - Car Chase Simulator [$0.99] with a little Splatoon thrown in, but it definitely stands on its own. I gave the game four stars in our review, and I’d happily do it again. (If for some reason I had to review the same game twice. That’s weird though.) Unlike Pako or Splatoon, though, Splash Cars is very much a free-to-play game. It has timers, dual currencies, ads, and plenty of grinding. So what can we do about this?..

Card games have existed long before Hearthstone came around, and will exist long after it is shut down, however many years away we are from that point. But there's no denying that some titles lift a little too generously from Blizzard's recent cash cow, almost to the point of creating a new "Hearth" subgenre. That's basically what Kung Fu Panda: Battle of Destiny [Free] does, but with more...erm...pandas. Wait Hearthstone already has pandas! Well this has...Mr. Ping and a few lines from Jack Black...




'Splash Cars' Review - Black and White and Sped All Over

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February 12th, 2016 10:29 AM EST by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
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When you first lay eyes on Craneballs’ latest game Splash Cars [Free], there’s a good chance the phrase “Pako [$0.99] meets Nintendo’s Splatoon” might come to your mind. And let’s face it: if it didn’t have the painting gimmick of the latter, the game would probably be little more than a clone of the former. In my mind, though, I can’t help but see the 1998 film Pleasantville. It depicted a black and white town from a fictional 1950’s TV show, and how the characters (and town) slowly begin turning multicolored as they are introduced to the messy, complicated joys of real life for the first time. Certainly going on a high-speed chase would have counted, right?..

How's that for a player base? So, according to Activision-Blizzard's Q4 2015 financial results (which you can read in detail here), Hearthstone [Free] surpassed the 40-million registered players milestone on November 6, 2015, and I'm sure everyone over at the company is still in a state of disbelief at how a side-project has turned into this juggernaut of a game. This is a pretty big number (which, of course, is both mobile and PC players), and shows how the game continues to grow at a pretty rapid pace, and that's without the upcoming format changes that should make the game more welcoming for new players. With the huge push Blizzard will likely do to advertise the new Standard format, I expect the pace of player growth to increase, which will be a good thing since there'll be a split in the player base between Wild and Standard...

I like Alto's Adventure [$2.99] quite a bit; what it lacks in craziness when compared to a game like Ski Safari, it makes up in moodiness and introspection. Today, the game has finally jumped over the iOS slope and landed on the Android side, but with a very interesting change from the iOS version; the Android version is F2P rather than the $2.99 it (still) costs on iOS. Why this discrepancy you might ask? Well, according to a recent Ryan Cash and Noodlecake interview, while the game retains the same gameplay and structure as the iOS version, it's F2P primarily because of how much of an issue piracy is on Android compared to iOS, especially in the case of premium titles that charge more than $0.99 (a very interesting definition of a premium title, but that's a different story for a different day)...

Hearthstone's [Free] developers have decided to torture players again by giving us the Decks Assembled Tavern Brawl, easily the more confusing of the Brawls so far. When this Brawl first came out in December, many got confused because of the way this brawl lets you build your deck. Here's how it goes: first you pick the class you'd like to play, and at the start of the turn, you choose a card through a process that looks a lot like the Discover mechanic. When you play a card from your hand, you shuffle a copy of it into your deck, and when your turn ends, your hand is destroyed and 4 cards are drawn from your deck. Not the easiest Brawl to figure out the first time around as seen by the number of hints you'll get throughout the first few turns...

One of my major irritations with WOT Blitz [Free] gameplay so far has been the amazing strength of twigs and tiny pieces of debris. What do I mean? Imagine getting into the perfect shooting, tapping the button, and then seeing your shell explode because it hit a tiny twig on the way to devastating the opponent. Fortunately, Wargaming.net is finally changing the game's shooting mechanics to address those issues and, in general, improve how your shells behave. We can now fire through obstacles with the shell continuing its trajectory and hitting anyone hiding behind. However, depending on the obstacle's durability, the shell will lose an amount of its energy and might be unable to penetrate the target. Full-featured ricochets are now in the game too, with deflected shells damaging nearby enemies if they hit them...

It's a pretty nice week for early releases with both Final Fantasy IX [$16.99] and Ys Chronicles 2 [$4.99] out in the wild and likely sucking up a large portion of everybody's time. However, if you're feeling overwhelmed with these big ol' RPGs and looking to cleanse your palate with something a bit more breezy, another really awesome new game just dropped ahead of the normal weekly releases. It's Happymagenta's Tomb of the Mask [Free], and the best way I could possibly describe it is it's as if Pac-Man [$4.99 / Free], Downwell [$2.99], and The Last Rocket [$1.99] all had a three-way lovechild (which is totally possible, haven't you seen The Brothers Solomon?)...

Foursaken Media is undoubtedly one of the most beloved developers on our forums. They are well known for making games that take several different genres and throw them into a blender, and the resulting smoothie is usually quite tasty. My favorites are probably Block Fortress [$1.99] and Bug Heroes 2 [$1.99], but even the games that don’t quite stick are usually pretty interesting if nothing else. It was with some surprise, then, that I learned their newest game All Is Lost [Free] was essentially just a runner. A runner with... puzzle elements? Extensive RPG-like upgrade trees? Monster collecting? Base building? Nope, literally just a runner. You go from the left side of a level to the right and basically just swipe to avoid stuff. What’s truly surprising, though, is that even though they apparently dropped their modus operandi of idea-mashing, they were still able to create a compelling and fun game rooted firmly in a single genre...

Prolific mobile developer Nitrome announced back in September that they were going to be dipping their toes in the game publishing game. I say dip their toes because technically the first game they were set to publish, Ultimate Briefcase [Free], was created by outside developer Quite Fresh, but whose founder was also previously an artist for Nitrome. So Nitrome was branching out, but still somewhat keeping it in the family, so to speak. Anyhoo, Ultimate Briefcase somehow dodged our weekly Out Now post like it was some sort of bomb falling from the sky, but I'm here to let you know that it's officially available right this very moment...

'Mountain Biker' Review - Pay To Schwinn?

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February 4th, 2016 10:30 AM EST by Nathan Reinauer in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Sports, Universal
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Tiny Wings [$0.99] is an amazing game. Not a terribly controversial statement, but I’ve always found it kind of surprising that more games didn’t take the idea and run with it. Sure, there are lots of games on the App Store that use a similar mechanic (my favorite, by far, is Kumobius’s Time Surfer [$0.99]), but it’s not nearly as many as I’d expect. I mean, think about how many Threes [$2.99], Flappy Bird, and Clash of Clans [Free] clones there are compared to Tiny Wings. Of course, every now and then a TW-like game will still randomly appear, and the latest I’ve seen is Mountain Biker [Free] by Escape Velocity...

Last November Marvel and TinyCo announced a collaboration to create a new kind of superhero game, one where you created and ran a superhero academy where you would train some of the most beloved Marvel superheroes during their more adolescent years. We even got a humorous look at some young Marvel heroes on school ID picture day. Well today is the day that that game, Marvel Avengers Academy [Free], is finally available...

Last month Adult Swim Games launched Pocket Mortys [Free] into the App Store, and today it's received its first content update. In case you missed all the hubbub, Pocket Mortys is a riff on Pokemon that has you running around a bunch of wacky dimensions, capturing and cultivating a fearsome team of Mortys, and then fighting a huge cast of wacky "Morty trainers" in an effort to bring down the Council of Ricks and return to your normal dimension. Basically just another day in the lives of Rick and Morty. While a bit repetitive, Pocket Mortys was still extremely entertaining, and was stuffed with so much awesome fan service that it was hard not to like it. Today's update adds a whopping 19 new Mortys for you to capture and collect...

Although I bet no one cares much about Hearthstone's [Free] Tavern Brawl today after the pretty earthshaking news from yesterday, the Hearthstone world still turns and Brawls are still a thing. This week's Brawl, Blingtron's Beauteous Brawl, is a new one and it's all about weapons and more weapons. The match starts with both players having 10 Armor (to help with all the damage from the weapons), and at the start you each have a 2/2 Foam Sword weapon equipped and your Hero Power is Cash In: Destroy your weapon, gaining a random one. So, as you can imagine, this Brawl is all about weapons, and the randomness of the whole thing means you'll have no idea what weapon will pop up next...

If you've been playing Magic: The Gathering-Puzzle Quest [Free], you'll know the developers have managed to marry the two genres quite successfully and given us a pretty deep and entertaining take on the Magic universe. In other words, it's fun. Today, the game received its first major update that has added quite a few things. First of all, we are getting a new Quick Battle mode where you fight decks created by other players (but played by the AI), and while you don't lose points when defeated, you earn points that will give you rewards at the end of the event. Quick Battle now offers you a chance at cards from specific colors along with free card packs and currency...

Even though Vainglory [Free] has seen its share of tournaments and competitions since its launch last year, one thing it has been strangely missing is a built-in Draft mode for true tournament play. That changes with Version 1.14 with a significant revamping of Ranked play...

If you like to crash again, and again, and again, then you should be playing Piloteer [$2.99], a very challenging but equally rewarding jetpack (dying) simulator from Fixpoint Productions that's gone free for the first time as Apple's Free App of the Week. We really liked the game when we reviewed it because while it's absurdly challenging, it's not impossible. So, when you actually get the hang of it, or at least as much as one can get the hang of a rocket strapped to ones back, the game becomes incredibly satisfying. Mastering your jetpack doesn't come from buying the right upgrade but rather having the right feel for it. There are many iOS games that border on the impossible and infuriating but not that many that walk the fine line of "nigh impossible yet doable once mastered" (after many, many attempts)...

The incredibly fun and well-designed Rust Bucket [Free] by Nitrome was just missing one thing in my estimation, as I said in my review: more fixed levels to play with once you beat the quasi-tutorial's 10 levels. And more were indeed teased through a locked menu on the screen, but they were not to be had quite yet. Thankfully, the teased level pack is finally here, and Rust Bucket has 10 additional levels to play through. These introduce new mechanics, but because you're also playing with things that you've already messed around with, you'll be mixing old knowledge with new. The new levels are pretty challenging, and it's worth jumping back into this update...

Not many know this, but just before there was the digital-only Hearthstone CCG, there was Solforge [Free] by Stoneblade, a CCG that tried to take advantage of what a digital platform has to offer. The game's been around for quite some time, but it's still in Beta and, unfortunately, its great gameplay ideas are hidden under a very clunky UI that was supposed to be a quick example of how the game will play rather than the game's actual UI. The game's been stuck with that UI - and with many other client technical issues - for years now, but, fortunately, we are getting closer to the release of the new UI that should give the game the opportunity to get new players aboard. Back in October, we got a first glimpse of the new UI, and I was really disappointed at what I saw even though I knew it was still a work-in-progress...

We have a brand new Hearthstone [Free] Tavern Brawl today, and I'm quite happy about that. I always like to see what new ideas the developers come up with, Miniature Warfare is all about shrinking your minions down all the way, which should make for some very interesting games. Specifically, that pesky Shrinkmeister turned all the Hearthstone cards into toys, and now all the minions are 1/1 and only cost 1 mana. So, this Brawl has two effects: on the one hand you'll be able to play any minion you want at pretty much any turn, but on the other all the battlecries and spells still work as designed, which means you can get some crazy battlecry effects for only 1 mana...

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