Category Archives: Ratings

Don't skip out on Bulb Boy [$2.99]. This iOS port of the 2015 grotesque-comedy-horror point-and-click adventure game is incredibly charming, when it's not trying to weird you out. It's not very difficult to beat, but it also doesn't overstay its welcome. The premise has you playing as the eponymous Bulb Boy, who finds the house he's staying at with his frail grandfather and flying bulb dog suddenly invaded by monsters, or perhaps some kind of symbiote from outer space. Bulb Boy wakes up, and there's suddenly weird arms coming out of the walls, giant headless chickens, and at least one giant poop monster. No joke. This is a game that's definitely got a flavor for the grotesque, and it's got horror elements to it as well. And the only way to solve the problems here is by collecting items, and using them on objects in the environment, experimenting to figure out what works! Just like any good point-and-click adventure. ..

'Quell Zen' Review - Peaceful Enough

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July 29th, 2016 5:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in $3.99, 3.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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Everyone gets their zen from their own special place. For me, that's usually listening to the latest Kenna album, grinding away in an MMO and leveling up a new character. It's relaxing in a way that it's probably crazy to basically anyone else, but if you shared some of your methods, you'd probably sound crazy too. So when a game bills itself as a zen-like experience, it's usually dubious of the claim given the subjectivity of its nature. With Quell Zen [$3.99] though, it mostly does its job, providing a puzzler veneer...




I’m a pretty big mark for The Blacklist. It’s not amazing but it’s my kind of show. James Spader’s performance elevates the standard cool and suave genius character who always makes things go their way to something pretty unique and memorable with Raymond Reddington. The Blacklist makes sense to adapt as a narrative driven detective adventure game. While that isn’t what we have here, those elements are present. Some of the character dialogue comes off as super shallow and basic, but some of it could have honestly been lifted directly from the source material. I can practically hear Spader’s voice when Reddington talks. Unfortunately, all the good things this game has to offer are standing behind an FBI level freemium firewall that even Agent Aram with his L33T Haxxor skills couldn’t penetrate. This is The Blacklist: Conspiracy [Free]...

Yeah, you read that right. ReRunners: Race for the World [Free] is a massive multiplayer online platformer. Kind of. You never actually see other live players, but the world is populated and alive regardless. And it is freaking outstanding. I have been utterly hooked by this game for the last week. Not only is the actual gameplay smooth, fun, and functional, but the crazy, vibrant, psychedelic world that you’ll explore is almost worth the price of admission alone. Or it would be, if this game even had a price tag. There is a ton of expressive, creative content, with loads of customization options for your character and upgrades. I implore you to read on, my friends, for this is one of the most original games I’ve had the good fortune to be completely addicted to this year...

'Snakebird' Review - Is it a Snake or is it a Bird?

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July 29th, 2016 1:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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Some mascots are better than others. Bubsy didn't really work out so well. What did we see in him so many years back? Did we see anything at all, and were we just hungry for mascots? I don't know, but I feel like someone needs to apologize. Ratchet? He's done some fine work and has survived for many years. Crash? He's back from the dead it seems, even if one part of his return involves a cameo in a Skylanders game...

I’m a sucker for sci-fi horror settings, so when I saw this brutal app icon alongside colorful screenshots that really pop, I knew I had to go for this app. Wait, what’s that? And it’s a premium game with no in-app purchases? Oh Dead Shell, you say all the right things! I was excited to dive deep into the ghoulish landscape of Dead Shell: Roguelike RPG [$2.99] from the word go. Sadly, my excitement was met with a game that doesn’t really seem to know what it wants to be. It’s definitely an interesting game with a very cool premise, but that only takes you so far...

One of the unique elements of mobile is that because people have their devices with them constantly, game design has taken on a new element of trying to fit into people's lives. Phoenix 2 [Free] feels like the idea was to provide an intense shoot 'em up experience that could be more than just an occasional distraction, but a game that could fit into someone's life. And in that regard, it succeeds: it's a unique experience that works best on mobile because it's built for the platform, while still being a fun bullet hell shmup experience...

'Severed' Review - I'd Give my Left Arm to Play This on Mobile

Consider it a testament to the power of mobile that developers still want to make and release games for it, despite the challenges of selling on it. After all, when games are customary a third of their price on other platforms, it's no wonder that games are rarely announced first for mobile. Severed [$5.99] was that exception, as mobile was a core platform for the game at its announcement. Then, it became a PlayStation Vita exclusive, before eventually being re-announced for mobile. And here it finally is. This first-person Infinity Blade [$5.99] meets Zelda type game – is a really cool experience that feels like it should have been on mobile all along...

Fans of the classic Milton Bradley/Games Workshop role-playing board game HeroQuest who are looking for a similar experience on mobile have a few decent choices available to them. There are games that use the basic concept as a springboard for a larger, deeper adventure such as Heroes of Steel [$3.99] from the Trese Brothers. Rodeo Games has their version of the official Games Workshop follow-up Warhammer Quest [$2.99]. If you happen to be searching for a more straightforward interpretation of the board game, however, the Arcane Quest series from Nex Games Studios is the way to go. The first game in the series, which released on Android and Windows Phones, was a pretty direct translation. Arcane Quest 2 [Free], the first in the series on iOS, built sensibly on that foundation, while Arcane Quest Adventures [Free] used many of the same gameplay mechanics but applied them to a different style of game...

'Politaire' Review - You Got to Know When To Hold 'Em

I got into poker at a relatively young age. For most kids in conservative families, it's usually the same story -- one of your relatives probably teaches it to you and tries to get you to sip a beer. I carried over my knowledge of straights and flushes into middle school, where I'd compete for candy in the cafeteria and tell faculty and staff we were playing Go Fish. And in high school, like everyone else during the height of the poker craze that seemingly exploded with Rounders, I played for higher stakes. But by my college years, it kind of tapered off a bit, and now I rarely encounter a situation where I can get some hands in. Yet, I've kept all of my experiences bottled in, including all of the statistical probabilities for each hand, ready to dump at a moment's notice. That proved rather useful for Politaire [Free]...

'Time Locker' Review - This Free Shmup is Super Hot

"Good artists copy, great artists steal." It's a line that essentially means that explicitly mimicking something is easy enough to do – making a clone of a game is simple enough. But it's another thing to take the ideas of one game and use them in another to create something that is original all in itself. Time Locker [Free] explicitly steals the gimmick of Superhot, the first-person shooter where time only moves when the player moves. It even uses a very similar low-poly graphics style. But instead, it turns the game into a shoot 'em up with some hints of Crossy Road [Free] to feel like a unique iteration on previous ideas, one that uses existing concepts liberally, but to form its own thing that stands on its own merits...

I first played Guild of Dungeoneering [$3.99] on PC at PAX South 2015, and I thought from the first time I played it that it would be perfect for mobile. Well, it took a year and a half between the game's continued development and PC release to finally make it happen, but this curious little roguelike where you use tile cards to build the dungeons as you traverse them and fight enemies using a separate card system, is well worth the wait. It has its own quirks and shortcomings, but really it's like nothing you've ever played before...

Do you want a lesson on how far the point-and-click adventure game has come, while still seeing the appeal in the classics? Day of the Tentacle Remastered [$4.99] is a perfect example of that. This is a genre classic made by some of the masters of the medium. Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert are two of the names behind this game that you likely recognize, straight from the LucasArts days. Fans of the original game will be glad to know that this is the exact same as the original, just with an optional enhanced interface and redone graphics that convey the spirit of the original game, adding some detail and animation, without altering the heart of them. For people coming to this for the first time, like myself – strap in for a frustrating experience, but one that's rewarding if you give it a shot and are patient...

Every now and then, a game comes along that has wonderful ideas, but sadly fails to live up to the promise of those ideas. Mainly because the awesome ideas are either under-funded or come from inexperienced developers. That's the case we have today, but when I saw this game, I could not pass it up. Not only did it look super hectic and crazy, but it's pretty unique in that it's both a castle defense and an endless runner. Endless Defense? Castle Runner? Anyway, in this case, your castle is a gargantuan pedal to the metal tank, and it isn't stopping for very much. I give you Mega Tank [Free]...

Tests can be stressful. I mean, that makes sense when you're not confident about the material on the test, but sometimes tests that cover things you know very well can be even more nerve-wracking. You shouldn't fail something if you know what you're doing, right? Now imagine the test you have to pass is checking your humanity. You can pass that test, surely. Most of our readers have been human for a while, after all. That's the premise behind Able Black [$3.99], an interactive fiction game where you play a freshly-booted android who has to pass his citizenship test before he can join society...

There weren't a lot of games that used the "draw a line" mechanic before smartphones, but the ones that did exist really stand out. One such title is Kirby: Canvas Curse, released on the Nintendo DS in 2005, among several other follow-ups and clones. Most of them follow the same formula -- simply draw on the screen to manipulate the character, which was usually cruising through a world drawn with a cutesy veneer. Don't Be Squared [Free] follows that same path, but with a decidedly less interesting aesthetic...

You know, even if I didn't love kung fu movies and think of Bruce Lee as an inspiration and a hero, I would still probably love this game. This is the kind of game touch screens were made for. Simple, unique, original, fun gaming on the go. I love games that personify this philosophy. Games like Lonewolf [Free], Redden [$2.99], and Ball King [Free]. Games that may not be perfect or are maybe a bit repetitive, but they just have that addictive magic. The latest game for me in that list is The Counter of Death [Free], and it has nothing to do with mathematics, step counting, or kitchen surfaces...

Ackeron [$2.99] is remarkable for a few reasons. First, it's a remake of a 15+ year old Palm Pilot game, which I can assure you is not something you see every day. Second, it's a large, complex, single-player RPG from an indie developer, something that is becoming rare these days on iOS. Perhaps the most amazing thing about it is just how much effort seems to have been put into this remake. Ackeron could easily pass for a new game on iOS, though its mechanics might quickly disabuse you of that notion. When a developer puts that kind of work into a remake, it's easy to see the passion behind the game. Indeed, Ackeron feels like a massive passion project, but it's also a surprisingly enjoyable RPG if you can stick with it through some of its bumpier parts...

It's interesting watching the flow of game design over time. While it's sometimes painful to watch established game designs hop from a paid model to a free-to-play set-up, those very same free-to-play hits have now been around long enough to start inspiring developers to travel that road in the opposite direction. The basic structure and look of Dungeon x Balls [$2.99] seem heavily informed by social RPG sensations like Puzzle and Dragons [Free], but rather than send the player down an endless rabbit hole of collection, evolution, and battling, it opts for a more traditional style. You'll find new characters with their own special abilities, battle boss creatures, and work your way through the story, and while there are IAP, they're solely of the cosmetic variety. Best of all, its core gameplay mechanic feels intuitive and fresh, a difficult thing to accomplish in the wildly crowded mobile market...

'Combo Critters' Review - Combo Breaker

'Combo Critters' Review - Combo Breaker

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In the fleeting ecosystem that is the App Store, games live and die by the strength of their core concept, and how well the developers are able to execute such pivotal ideas. Owing to the ease of development for iOS, there are innumerable innovative ideas in games - in terms of raw numbers of releases, eclipsing virtually every other platform out there - yet it is still rare to see them implemented with the quality and distinction of Combo Critters [Free]. While it would be easy to draw parallels to Pokemon, and the creature catching action isn’t particularly unique, Lucky Kat Studios manages to shake up the formula enough to stand alone as its own game. By being able to fuse critters together, amalgamated with an incredible sense of charm and whimsy, Combo Critters is an extremely enjoyable experience that has a lot of potential to expand, grow and develop in the coming months...

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