Category Archives: Ratings

'FOTONICA' Review - A Running Riot

I'm going to take a guess, dear reader, and say that you have played an endless runner or two hundred. I don't think you've played anything on mobile quite like Fotonica [$2.99]. It's an auto-runner by way of Mirror's Edge [$0.99 / $9.99 (HD)] – not the side-scrolling game, but the original game, in first-person, all in a wireframe style. The entire game is played with one touch, but it's not tap-to-jump. Essentially, tapping and holding on the screen descends to the ground, and allows the runner to pick up speed, while letting go jumps in the air. When jumping, trying to land with this rapid descent is important to maintain speed, as bonus points are earned for running fast enough that the world turns gold...

I am willing to admit that I have a soft spot for challenging, minimalist arcade games. The thing that fascinates me about something like a Super Hexagon [$2.99] or Flappy Bird is the way that such small concepts can be designed in such ways that they inspire constant replayability despite having such simple concepts. And in the case of Flappy Bird, it's possible for these games to succeed accidentally. It's an absolutely fascinating genre. So, seeing Hyper Trip [$1.99], I found myself curious to see if this could be something special, as I dug its concept of controlling a square through mazes, not unlike a Tron lightcycle. And certainly, it's a challenging game, requiring quick reactions to avoid the maze walls that pop up, with four modes the feature increasingly-challenging layouts. Certainly, it falls into my line of interest, but it left me not as satisfied as I hoped...

Developer Osao dropped Chronology: Time Changes Everything [Free] on the App Store last week. If the title didn't give it away, Chronology is a platform game that grants you, the player, the ability to manipulate time. Straddling the time periods directly before and after an apocalyptic event, it's up to you to discover the cause and ultimately try to prevent the disaster. Born from a sketch of a snail and a man with a fez, this game has a quirky sense of humor that should prove to have a pretty wide appeal...

Yes, I went for the low-hanging fruit with the review title. Let's just try to move past that and get to the game I want to tell you about today, Kapsula [$1.99]. This is a pretty unusual game. If it wasn't so utterly out there with its theme, I'd almost think it was the product of some bizarre marketing meeting. This is basically a lane-based endless runner mixed with a match-3 puzzle game, and I'll let you try to hash out how that might work for a second before I spoil it all for you...

It's something that mobile gamers probably overlook more often than we should, but audio can add tremendously to the experience you get from a game. From the throaty growling threats of Sinistar to the playful jingle that plays when you die in Super Mario Bros. to the unsettling atmosphere of Bioshock, video games have always used sound to subtly manipulate the emotional state of the player. Unfortunately, the very nature of how and where most handheld games are played means a lot of us rarely hear the games that engage us so well. You're going to have to trust me on one thing, though, and that's that if you play Shoot The Moon [Free], you're going to want to do it with the sound on...

I wanted to love Phantom Rift [$2.99]. I wanted to give it my unabashed affection. I am quite fond of the Mega Man Battle Network series because of, well, everything about it. Certainly, paying homage to Mega Man is something Phantom Rift isn't doing, but the series itself is paying homage to boasted a unique combat system that took the best aspects of card games and mixed it with fast-paced real-time combat. But where Phantom Rift falls apart is not respecting that speed. Not so much in the combat, but in the overworld that governs getting from fight to fight, and managing the character and deck: it's just too slow to get anywhere in this game, both figuratively and literally...

Occasionally, a video game has a brilliant new idea that it builds itself around. Sometimes it gets it right the first time, sometimes it's left to another game to capitalize on it. Most games, however, have to be content with coming at an existing idea, hoping to provide a new angle, presentation, or mix of other ideas to set itself apart. Such is the case with Partyrs [$1.99], a charming puzzle game with a premise that should ring pretty familiar to avid mobile puzzle game fans. It's a game about arranging guests in a room according to their desires in order to ensure maximum party satisfaction. In practice, it's very similar to the popular games Girls Like Robots [$2.99] and Joining Hands [$2.99], a puzzle type that stretches at least as far back as those old logic puzzles about ferrying sheep and wolves across the river with one boat...

Several months back, mobile gamers were treated to Alphadia Genesis [$9.99], the first kind-of-3D RPG from Kemco, courtesy of developer EXE Create. Since then, Kemco's released another half dozen or so games, but they were all using older 2D engines, even EXE Create's Fanatic Earth [$7.99]. Well, we've finally got our second game using the 3D battle engine in Illusion Of L'Phalcia [$3.99], and it just goes to show that if you're dedicated to churning out an RPG in a span of weeks, it doesn't matter if you're using 2D or 3D graphics, the results are still going to be mixed...

Duke Dashington [$1.99] is the kind of game that exists in a kind of quandary. It's a game built around brevity, and for mobile devices: it's a platformer where players must swipe to get the eponymous Duke to the exit in no more than 10 seconds. It's frequently challenging but failure never leaves the player washed too far ashore to not just go back and try again. It's a game built around maximizing its brevity, but because it's so small, it winds up limiting just how well it succeeds at what it sets out to do...

'Goblin Sword' Review - It's Still Rock and Roll to Me

My thumbs are feelin pretty raw after playing Goblin Sword[$0.99]. As a guy that grew up playing platformers in the late 80's/early 90's I don't think I can give higher praise for a game workin' it's tail off to give that old feeling back. Unforgiving yet short levels give this game a mobile focus while still retaining that frustrating level of difficulty we all had a love hate relationship back then. Gelato Games has hit all the selling points square on the head with this retro title. With controls better than Swordigo[$2.99], and more sophistication than Dodo Master[$0.99 / $0.99 (HD)], Goblin Sword is setting the bar nice and high for it's competition...

Gameloft's newest release, Spider-Man Unlimited [Free], makes me feel all complicated inside. Regular readers will know that I tend to prefer my running games to be simple and gimmick-free, and this game is anything but that. Of course, regular readers will also know that I can't resist a game based on superhero comics. I expected that to be my struggle with the game, but in a surprise twist, it's not. This is probably the most fun I've had with a gimmick-heavy runner this side of Iron Man 3 [Free]. It has a ton of gameplay variety, a great goal-based structure to accompany its endless running mode, exceptional fan service, and a few ridiculously compelling tricks borrowed from Puzzle & Dragons [Free]-style games. As a huge Spider-Man fan, playing this game is an absolute joy. Unfortunately, leveling up an assortment of collectible characters isn't the only way Spider-Man Unlimited borrowed from that popular genre, and therein lay the proverbial fly, or I suppose spider, in the soup...

One of the cool things about video games is how they let you do things that you might not be very good at in real life. For example, in the real world, I am about as stealthy as a cow on ice skates, but in video games, I can be a master big boss ninja. Stealth games were around as early as 1981's 005 from SEGA and enjoyed a few brief spikes of popularity around certain titles like Castle Wolfenstein on the Apple II and Konami's Metal Gear on the MSX, but for the most part, it was a genre waiting for technology to catch up with its ambitions. Finally, in the late 1990s, the genre broke out in a big way on the backs of titles like Metal Gear Solid, Thief, and Tenchu, and would keep going strong with heavy hitter franchises like Splinter Cell and Assassin's Creed. These big franchises are still going at it, though at times with a reduced emphasis on pure stealth, but the genre's recently been seeing a lot more small-scale projects. I think Stealth [$1.99] represents one of the smallest yet, having been created by just one person...

'The Journey Down: Chapter Two' Review - Bwana's Big Adventure Kicks Into High Gear

Nearly two years ago, or longer if you're a PC gamer, we were introduced to the world and characters of The Journey Down [$2.99], a point and click/tap adventure game from developer SkyGoblin. It was a mechanically sound example of the genre with charm to spare, but it definitely suffered from the usual chapter one problem of doing a whole lot of setting up and not much paying off. If you played it, chances are good that you fell in love with its jazzy, dark atmosphere and lovable protagonist, Bwana. Chances are also good that after finishing the game's two and a half hour adventure, you went looking for a magic lamp to wish up the next chapter. It's been a bit of a wait, but The Journey Down: Chapter Two [$4.99] is finally here, and it's an excellent continuation of the story...

Reviewing a game like Dragon Quest [$2.99] is never easy. First of all, as many of you probably do, I have a very deep childhood connection to this game, which means it's a nostalgic trip for me every time I play it. Then there's the fact that this is a genre-defining game, and as a result, can't possibly be expected to be as refined as the games that followed in the path it carved out. Ultimately, this game is both a classic and a curio, a piece of history that feels like one, no matter how much Square Enix tries to pretty it up. Its age is in its fundamental structure. I think it holds up very well relative to other games from its era, but that's perhaps faint praise, given the state of console RPGs in 1986. A completely new player without any sort of fondness for the history of the series would be better off checking out Dragon Quest 4 [$14.99] first. That doesn't mean that the first Dragon Quest has nothing to offer, but it's probably not the best way to break the ice in 2014...

'MUJO' Review - A Fresh Take on Match Three

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September 10th, 2014 6:14 PM EDT by Andrew Fretz in $1.99, 4 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, iPod touch games, Puzzle, Reviews
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If Percy Jackson found himself in the Paper Mario universe, he might be playing MUJO[$0.99]. Finally seeing worldwide release, MUJO has had about a month in soft release to tighten up it's loose ends. Audio and visuals are clean and enjoyable, and while I never thought I would describe fighting a medusa with cheery music as a cohesive theme, it is. I think we all know that match three puzzle games have gotten a lot of exposure, and I don't think we have really seen a lull in the stream of saccharine inspired clones either. With that said, there is enough innovation with this game to warrant a closer look...

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