Category Archives: Ratings

I have to give SEGA some credit. One of the many points where I felt that the initial line-up of SEGA Forever titles was lacking was in the selection; they were all games drawn from SEGA's 16-bit platform, and only two of the games were new to iOS gamers. Subsequent releases have mostly stuck to Genesis games, plus a few updated versions of prior SEGA iOS releases. But the Genesis games in particular that have been selected are certainly eclectic choices that demonstrate an affection for the deeper cuts from SEGA's 16-bit library, and that's pretty cool. It reassures me that in spite of the numerous issues that have plagued SEGA Forever, the project is a work of passion. Because honestly, who else but a SEGA super-fan would choose to release something like ESWAT: City Under Siege [Free] ahead of better-known titles like Streets of Rage 2 or Gunstar Heroes?..

My interest was piqued pretty hard as I was perusing the app store a couple weeks ago, only to see a puzzle game that involved exploring an alien ship and solving the puzzles of its technology and the fate of mankind after encountering them. That premise, for a sci-fi junkie like me, along with those drop dead gorgeous screen shots immediately had my attention. And while I was expecting something more akin to Myst [$4.99], what I received was closer to The Room [$0.99 (HD)] series, but with several areas of puzzles (The Rooms?) and a more cinematic piecemeal mystery story interspersed throughout. And it was pretty darn great. This is Returner 77 [$3.99]...




As far as endless arcade type games go, the first Dragon Hills [$2.99] was a fun and chaotic beast. Featuring a princess in a tower waiting for her prince to rescue her, a prince finds all the gold on a lower floor and just books it. The princess, apparently being great friends with the dragon that ‘imprisoned’ her (I assume as a favor so she could get a man), sets off after this jerk of a prince with blazing fury in her eyes, embodying old sayings about hell’s fury and scorned women. All while riding said dragon, who gets around by burrowing, jumping, and sliding through the hills. Rebel Twins have now returned with a sequel, and it’s more varied, more polished, and much stranger than ever. Welcome back to the hills. It’s Dragon Hills 2 [$2.99]...

I'm probably not saying anything controversial by mentioning that like any other human, I have genre preferences. I obviously enjoy my superhero stories and flights of fantasy, and humor goes a very long way with me. I'm not that big on horror stories, however. Stories about ghosts and the paranormal have to work a little bit harder to get my attention. With that in mind, I wasn't sure how well I was going to take to Heart of the House [$5.99], a recent release from prolific gamebook/interactive fiction publisher Choice of Games. It's a Victorian-era story of the supernatural with a healthy dollop of mystery mixed in. While this isn't my usual cup of tea, the character development and overall high quality of the writing ended up winning me over...

'Million Onion Hotel' Review - Got a Million Onions but a Leek Ain't One of 'Em

When it comes to the noble hobby of video gaming, there are a whole bunch of tried and true concepts to build new products from. Not even one of those concepts involves mashing onions as quickly and strategically as possible in order to make fruits appear that you mash to rack up points while space cows trot across the bottom of the screen and little cartoon characters throw off their clothes and embrace passionately in the starry sky. But thanks to Million Onion Hotel [$3.99], we can finally live the dream, friends. This is a fast-paced yet strategic arcade-puzzle game, and if nothing else, I can say that you probably haven't ever seen anything quite like it before...

'Final Fantasy Dimensions 2' Review - Neither Fish Nor Fowl, but Fun Anyway

Nothing can ever be straightforward when it comes to sequels and Square Enix, can it? Here we have Final Fantasy Dimensions 2 [$14.99], which is not a follow-up to the story or mechanics of Final Fantasy Dimensions [Free]. Instead, it's the sequel to an unrelated Japan-only free-to-play social RPG called Final Fantasy Legends, which was also the title Final Fantasy Dimensions went by in Japan. But it's not really a sequel so much as it is a remake. In fact, it's the second such attempt at remaking that game, but when they remade it the first time they added the number 2 to show how significant said update was. But that didn't seem to go over well either, so now here we are. Final Fantasy Dimensions 2 is a rebuilt premium version of a free-to-play social RPG, and if that sounds like that might be a tough thing to pull off, you're half-right...

The early 1990s were a strange time for video game characters. Side-scrolling platformers were without question the most popular games, to the point that just about every company had to come up with a mascot or three to put in their own spin on the genre. An awful lot of those characters were simple variations on Sonic the Hedgehog, throwing a pair of big googly eyes on some kind of anthropomorphic animal with an attitude in a vain effort to create some sort of familiar look. Licensed characters from other media and even real celebrities were also popular choices for similar reasons. Then there was Chuck D. Head. He's a mummy with his face on his chest, which he stretches out to attack enemies. Sometimes he finds a head with another face on it, and he throws that head like a hefty boomerang as another means of attacking. Chuck is the star of DeCap Attack [Free], a surprisingly high-effort platformer from SEGA and developer Vic Tokai...

L Pop! [Free] is a relatively straightforward puzzle game that, like most puzzle games, is built around one main mechanic. In this case, it's the idea that where you can place your pieces is restricted to within a Chess Knight's move of wherever you placed your last one. It's not a bad hook to build a matching puzzle game around, and I'm not sure I've seen a game that did things in exactly the same way this one does. But while the core mechanic is an interesting one, L Pop! never quite takes off the way it feels like it should...

'Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times' Review: Outstanding Follow Up to One of the Best Tactical Combat Games Ever

What are the best tactical role-playing games for mobile devices? I see that question a lot and, inevitably, somebody mentions Warhammer Quest [$2.99] by Rodeo Games, and rightfully so. Warhammer Quest is without question one of the best turn-based combat games out there and one in which I've invested a huge number of hours in the four-plus years since its release. Rodeo Games is no more, unfortunately, but that didn't stop a sequel from making its way to the App Store. Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times [$4.99] was just released by Perchang, but can it clear the high bar set by its predecessor?..

'Kick Ass Commandos' Review- A Gloriously Gory Homage to Arcade Shooters of the Past

The late 80's and early 90's were times when the more gore and shock-value video games had, the better. One of my favorite games of this time was Total Carnage. My cousin and I would play the crap out of its violent cooperative mode. Total Carnage's gory, action-packed gameplay made us feel like the edgiest kids of all time. I'm a sucker for anything that provides nostalgia (as I have mentioned time and time again) and Kick Ass Commandos [$2.99] gave me a much-desired dose of Total Carnage-like gameplay. It was originally released on Steam back in November of 2016, and now the game has "Schwarzenegger'd" and "Stallone'd" its way onto the App Store...

When it comes to SEGA and their 16-bit library, game re-releases tend to fall into one of three categories. First, there are the games that are always included: Sonic, Golden Axe, Altered Beast, and the like. Then, you've got games that are often included, but not always. Phantasy Star 2, Ecco the Dolphin, and Shinobi 3 are examples of this group. Finally, there are games that SEGA only seems to include if they're being very thorough. Sometimes it's because they're tricky to emulate, other times because of rights issues, and still other times where the reason isn't clear at all. Beyond Oasis [Free] used to be part of this group, but it feels like it's slowly moving into the second category instead. Its presence here relatively early on in the SEGA Forever initiative is a good example of its improving fortunes...

'DropMix' Review - Music and Cards Make for An Awesome Board Game

With the physical instruments scene long past peak popularity, the folks over at Harmonix, in conjunction with Hasbro, have moved on to something that’s quite a bit different from the Boston developer’s previous games. DropMix [Free] is a physical board game that’s a delightful mix of approachable card-based gameplay combined with amazing music the Harmonix pedigree. Sure, the gameplay is a little basic, and like music games some of your enjoyment is based on your love of the music included, but damn if it isn’t simply fun to play with other people...

'REKT!' Review- A Flipping Fun Stunt Driving Game

I have been driving around my 2001 Chevy Cavalier ever since I was 15. Its golden color makes it shockingly ugly to the eye but my old "clunker" has faithfully served me well over the past couple years. However, it would not survive in the sandbox arena of REKT! [$1.99]. REKT! is an arcade stunt driving game where you traverse an open course in a variety of different vehicles, all while performing various stunts and maneuvers...

After a pretty fun and quite long Minecraft: Story Mode Season 1, Telltale returns to the world of Minecraft with Episode 1 of Season 2 [$4.99], and although it has some fun new ideas, I wasn't too crazy with the direction of the narrative and, especially, with the decision to add complex fighting sequences in a game that can barely handle simple swipes. I have to admit that I died more times in Hero in Residence than in pretty much any other Telltale game ever, and that wasn't because I'm not good at swiping at the right time. I had fun getting reunited with some of the characters from Season 1 and seeing how things have turned out after those events, but Hero in Residence didn't really impress me, and I'm hoping the rest of the episodes deliver a more coherent narrative and fewer action sequences...

'Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice' Review - A Strange World Where Lawyers are Hated

I wasn't the biggest fan of the previous Ace Attorney game, Dual Destinies [$0.99]. While it wasn't the worst game in the series by any stretch, it felt too much like an apologetic reaction to the backlash from Apollo Justice [$0.99]. It's clear from the end of that game that there were major plans for Apollo's story, plans that had to be changed or scuttled to accommodate the fans' demand for the return of Phoenix Wright as the chief protagonist of the games. Phoenix Wright himself had to have significant character development rolled back, as well. On their own, these aren't necessarily bad things, but Dual Destinies never really justifies that sacrifice. It doesn't want you to forget Apollo, of course. He's a major part of the game's plot, after all. But it does want you to forget any and all of the plot threads that they had been building around him, hoping you'll treat him like a second banana Scrappy Doo so that Phoenix can strut his stuff as the main underdog once more...

'Aka to Blue' Review - Red and Blue and Awesome All Over

It has been a bittersweet couple of months for fans of iOS shoot-em-ups. The removal of 32-bit support in the latest version of iOS effectively took out a swath of stunning games in one fell swoop, most notably the entire library of amazing arcade ports of Cave's games. On the positive side, the latest in the Danmaku Unlimited series released, and it was every bit as incredible as we could have hoped. Well, we can chalk another one up for the angels with the international release of Aka to Blue [$7.99], a brand-new bullet hell ballet from Tanoshimasu, a small developer founded by ex-Cave staff. The team's pedigree shows. This game could easily slide into Cave's line-up without much effort, even if it's not quite as rich in extras as some of their mobile ports...

Another Lost Phone: Laura's Story [$2.99], the sequel to the very successful A Normal Lost Phone, is a tricky game to review primarily because its "value" doesn't come from great gameplay, a surprising plot, or terrific visuals. Instead, the game is primarily a vehicle whose primary purpose is to bring important social issues to the forefront and ask the player to acknowledge them in the real world. Another Lost Phone isn't subtle in how it wants players to consider it; after all, its iTunes description asks directly that if you close the app but are still thinking about the game, have you truly stopped playing? Since the game asks to be seen as a bridge between reality and fiction, it's only natural to evaluate it partly on that goal, and I have to say that the bridge is on the rickety side because the game is quite short and values puzzles over narrative too much...

I would be willing to bet that many of us have doodled various things on paper at one point in our lives. There is something special about what our imaginations can create when we implement our ideas through different forms of art. I still have a couple of notebooks (from my early childhood) that are chock-full of strange ideas/illustrations and I still find it entertaining to pour over their contents from time to time. I have come to appreciate games that attempt to emulate the aesthetics of doodles/drawings that are procured from the depths of people's imaginations. Grapple Gum [$1.99] emulates this type of art style and manages to mash a variety of gameplay mechanics together to create a "slingshot-action-platformer"...

'The Witness' Review - Lost in a Maze

'The Witness' Review - Lost in a Maze

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September 21st, 2017 5:00 PM EST by Rob Funnell in $9.99, 4.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$9.99 Buy Now

From the outset, The Witness [$9.99] is a video game that defies convention. After a loading screen that suggests ‘for the best experience, use headphones’, you immediately awaken in a dimly lit underground tunnel, amidst deafening silence. No title screen, no contextual introduction, no long-winded tutorial - in The Witness, you’re simply left to your own devices, and the curiosity that such a brazen start instills in the player serves as the primary catalyst to explore its luscious, vibrant and expansive environments. This core ethos permeates into every inch of The Witness, whether it’s solving puzzles, navigating complex terrain or attempting to work out how to access a seemingly out of bounds point of interest, and its respect for the user is one reason why the game received such universal critical acclaim upon its console release in 2016. However, the hands-off approach that is fundamental to The Witness’s identity is also its biggest source of frustration and, because of Thekla, Inc.’s impressive efforts in emulating the experience on mobile devices, a flaw that is as prominent as ever in the iOS iteration of the game...

'Drag'n'Boom' Review - Being the Khaleesi on Drogon in 'Game of Thrones'

Ankama's Drag'n'Boom [Free] couldn't have come out at a better time because what better time to come out with a game where you're a dragon than right after a big Game of Thrones season where Drogon, the biggest of the dragons, got to burn quite a few people on the ground. And this game really makes you feel like a dragon, burning everything in your path and pulling off some really fun combos by, well, shooting your enemies again and again. The only thing missing from this game is a bigger enemy variety to fill the game's 50 levels, but even with the enemies it has, Drag'n'Boom is a really entertaining platformer that controls great and lets you feel like a bad-ass...

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