Category Archives: Ratings

So, who here can't build a simple circuit without somehow starting a fire? Just me? Unfortunately, I am quite well-known for my frankly shocking ineptitude with anything involving the guts of electronics, which is remarkable given my many hobbies that involve them. You know that kid who started a fire in tenth grade science class? That was me. Luckily, nobody was hurt, which means we can all look back and laugh as we read this review only tangentially related to that anecdote. You see, Circix [Free] is a puzzle game that is skinned to look like circuits. While I'm terrible with circuits in real life, I'm quite good with puzzle games, so I figured I would give this one a try. I have to believe that there's a much smaller risk of anything being enveloped in flames when it's just a game on my phone...

The topic of cloning can be broadly broken into two periods: before Michael Keaton's banner work of art, Multiplicity, and after. Oh, sure, in those heady days before 1996, we had some ideas. Waves were made by a sheep named Dolly, Spider-Man discovered that he looks good in a hoodie, Thomas Riker had shown us that a Riker's power is directly proportional to the size of his beard, and George Lucas had certainly written something about clones on a coffee-stained napkin. However, it wasn't until The Keats showed us all how it was done that cloning became truly appreciated as a fictional device, and we are all better for it. Video games have never been shy about dragging clones into the works, mostly because it was a good excuse to reuse art assets while creating a memorable boss fight. One of the best examples from the early days of gaming was in Prince of Persia [$1.99], where an encounter with a mirror created a doppleganger who would go on to help you with a few puzzles before you had to face off with him...

With our present knowledge of how well puzzles mix together with dragons, it's almost tragic that it took gaming so long to bring the two together. Fortunately, if there's one thing the video game business is good at, it's making up for lost time. The brilliant mash-up of puzzle and RPG in Puzzle Quest was pounded into a more specific shape by Puzzle & Dragons [Free], and with that game's success, the floodgates opened. Generally, games following that blueprint tend to come in with either a variation or replacement of the puzzle element, or an interesting new theme. Occasionally, you get a game that does both. Fable Age [Free], from Blue Tea Games, brings a bunch of new twists to the sub-genre, but the most prominent one is cosmetic. Instead of the "mythology plus Batman, Angry Birds, and whatever other cross-overs we can swing" approach of P&D or going with wholly original characters like Brave Frontier [Free], this game uses characters from fables such as Goldilocks or King Midas...

'Dark Guardians' Review - Style Over Substance

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April 22nd, 2014 9:56 AM EDT by Chris Carter in $1.99, 3 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Runner, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

Runners come in all shapes and sizes, but often times, flashy is one of the many coats of colors it may wear. Dark Guardians [$0.99] is a beautiful game that looks very similar to the aesthetic design of the Kickstarter success Banner Saga, but sadly it doesn't have the mechanical chops to prop it up beyond its pretty veneer...

'Wind-Up Knight 2' Review - As Tightly-Wound As A Grandfather Clock

The original Wind-Up Knight [Free] was a great game and a fine example of how platformers, a genre many thought couldn't get along with touch controls, can work just fine on mobiles provided they're designed properly around the hardware. The mechanic of constantly moving forward while asking you to manage jumps, swings, rolling, and the shield gave you plenty to worry about without having to fuss around with a virtual directional pad, and the game made sure to test your skills at all of those things to the hilt. It boasted tons of levels, an assortment of collectibles, and plenty of goals to shoot for during play. It also apparently struggled at its initial price, because it was later retooled as a free-to-play experience, albeit a fairly generous one, since you could still unlock pretty much everything without paying a cent if you were skilled enough at the game...

Spider-Man video games act as little mini time capsules of the video game industry. I'm not sure why, but perhaps it's because they release so regularly and haven't found a unique voice the way Batman recently has with the Arkham series. As such, they tend to look to trends for inspiration, and we can see that pattern in many of the games. Maximum Carnage on the Genesis and SNES showed the popularity of belt-scrolling beat-em-ups in the 16-bit era. Spider-Man on the original PlayStation nicely demonstrated both the rise of polygonal graphics and their hard limitations via the poisonous gas that prevented you from going down to the streets. Spider-Man 2, no doubt riding on the back of Grand Theft Auto, introduced an open world, something that has gone as well with Spidey as anything ever could. Spider-Man 3 was a QTE fest, Web of Shadows used an awkward Bioware-style moral dichotomy, Shattered Dimensions had Arkham-style stealth levels, and the console Amazing Spider-Man had support for motion controls...

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 [Free], 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 [$4.99], this review will be appended to as each new act releases...

iOOTP Baseball 2014 [$4.99] is the kind of game that numbers junkies will go nuts over. It’s also the kind of game that will have people who need control of every single aspect glued to their tablet from April to October (or November, if your team makes the playoffs)...

'Hitman GO' Review - A Surprising Hit Puzzler

'Hitman GO' Review - A Surprising Hit Puzzler

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April 17th, 2014 11:20 AM EDT by James Paterson in $4.99, 5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Strategy
$4.99 Buy Now

Hitman GO [$4.99] is not what you’d expect from a title bearing the stealth series name. And at first glance, you’d probably dismiss the game as being a cheap cash-in...

Arena battle games have really come into their own in recent years. Mobile platforms in particular have enjoyed a great crop, including Super Crate Box [$1.99], Muffin Knight [$0.99], Spell Sword [$0.99], and many others. It's a great way for a small developer to make a great action game without busting the bank, while providing a nice bite-sized bit of fun that suits mobiles well. Of course, for the gamer looking for something more than just a slice of game now and then, the better examples in this sub-genre have included some sort of progression system that persists beyond individual plays. Typically, this is done by putting in some sort of collectible or experience system that will unlock new weapons or abilities, which not only gives you something to shoot for over the long term, but also refreshes the game experience over time to keep it from getting dull...

'Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft' for iPad Review - Shuffling for Zul'jin

Blizzard Entertainment has a long line of releases with serious stories, usually focusing on the fate of the world or racial warfare. The Warcraft franchise has a few nods to comedy here and there with creatures like the Murlocs and the Pandaren, but for the most part, big bads like the Lich King still run the show. Comparatively, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft [Free (HD)] is a card game where you can summon an angry chicken and peck your enemies to death. As you can imagine, it's a ton of fun...

'Fighting Fantasy: Starship Traveller' Review - Choose Your Own Kirk-Venture

Do you like Star Trek? Specifically, do you like the original series, with reckless Captain Kirk going on tons of away missions with Spock, Bones, and Redshirt, breaking the Prime Directive whenever he feels like it all in pursuit of adventure and alien love? If so, you're going to want to check out Tin Man Games's latest mobile conversion, Fighting Fantasy: Starship Traveller [$5.99]. It's an utterly shameless love letter to Star Trek, and it happens to be one of my very favorite books in the Fighting Fantasy series. I've played plenty of Star Trek games over the years, more than the franchise has deserved given the somewhat sorry state of quality they usually offer, but in my opinion, nothing has captured the feeling of the original Trek quite as well as this little gamebook written by Steve Jackson...

David [$0.99] is a curious little game. Recently, due to the release of the beautiful Monument Valley [$3.99], I've talked a bit about experience-focused games versus mechanics-focused games, but David seems to have one foot planted firmly in each camp. It's about as minimalist as one could possibly imagine, yet the most immediate comparison in terms of gameplay is considered a technical masterpiece for the hardware it runs on. The appearance of the game is incredibly simple, and its gameplay is as basic as moving, jumping, and shooting, but it still somehow manages to create a surprisingly complex and tense gameplay experience that pleases the senses...

Connoisseurs of specialized arcade cabinets have probably heard of DJMax Technika , the South Korean touch-screen based rhythm game. Being an arcade music game with touch controls, an iOS version would seem to be a natural fit and that’s exactly what we have with DJMax Technika Q[Free]. With an incredibly fine-tuned and enjoyable rhythm engine, Technika Q is unfortunately hampered by the bloated systems placed on top of its core gameplay...

If someone had said to me that I would enjoy playing an economical game of micromanagement prior to Game Dev Story I would have laughed. The mere notion of such a thing would be preposterous. Now about ten Kairosoft games later they have become an obsessions. Few companies have managed to make their games instabuys the day they are released...

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