Category Archives: Ratings

'Ys Chronicles 2' Review - Adol's Back, And He's All Fired Up

Last May, DotEmu surprised us with an iOS port of Nihon Falcom's Ys Chronicles 1 [$2.99], a PC remake of one of the best action-RPGs of the 1980s, Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished. Aside from a rough job on the English translation, the port came out surprisingly well. While the lack of an attack button has always caused some misunderstandings on other platforms, body-checking enemies into oblivion makes an awful lot of sense on a touch-screen device with no buttons to speak of. The game itself is just as great as it has ever been, with a blistering fast pace and amazing soundtrack that few other action-RPGs can match. The biggest downer of Ys Chronicles 1 is that it ends on a cliffhanger that leads directly into Ys Chronicles 2 [$4.99]. The two games are frequently packed together due to their tight continuity and are best enjoyed as one complete adventure. DotEmu quickly confirmed the second game would be coming to iOS as well, and here we are...

I am a major fan of Orangepixel's games. The solo developer should be remembered by history as a unique, standout artist, despite his games not being the kind of artsy-fartsy stuff you'd typically expect to be called artsy. But it's because his games always have this unique touch to them in the art and gameplay that makes them feel unique compared to other games, even ones from consistent studios. The games having this consistent vision behind them is part of what makes them special. An Orangepixel game looks and feels like something only he could have made...




As I've said before, there's nothing wrong with chilling out with a mindless arcade game. I grew up playing flashy shooters and beat 'em ups just as often as deep RPGs and point and click adventure games, and both philosophies scratch certain itches on any given day. The former mindset is most evident in Call of Commander [$0.99], which has some RPG elements, but mostly caters towards the part of your brain that likes to shut itself off...

Blue Lola Headphones Review: Good Microphone Maker Also Good at Headphones

Blue Microphones has been most known for their, well, microphones. It's not uncommon to see someone at least somewhat dedicated to higher-quality microphones than built-in setups to be rocking the Blue Snowball or Yeti. Blue has started getting into headphones as well, and their second pair, Lola, is a fantastic entry into the market. The Lola is a bit bulky, but it offers fantastic, balanced sound for the price...

'Adventures Of Mana' Review - The Secret Is Simplicity

Adventures Of Mana [$13.99] is a remake of a classic Square Enix game, something that could be said for more than half of the company's iOS releases. Yet it's quite different from the usual Square Enix remake in that it's positively restrained in how much it chooses to change from the original game. It's especially interesting in light of the fact that said original game, Seiken Densetsu/Final Fantasy Adventure/Mystic Quest (henceforth Final Fantasy Adventure), was a 1991 release for the original Game Boy. On top of that, there was already one high-profile remake of the game, 2003's Sword Of Mana for the Game Boy Advance, which changed and added in a lot of things. Seeing Adventures Of Mana essentially present an early handheld action-RPG without doing much more than re-rendering everything in 3D and cleaning up the translation is certainly unexpected, but it's also most welcome...

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...

'Puzzle Strike' Review - A Great Game With a Few Missed Opportunities

The iOS version of Sirlin Games' Puzzle Strike [$3.99] is a tricky game to review. This is a fantastic game, if you're into deckbuilding games with a high degree of interactivity, and while it plays pretty well on mobile, there are some glaring omissions that detract from what would've been a mobile gem (pun intended). Still, even with issues like a lack of proper notifications and questionable UI decisions, Puzzle Strike is a great addition to the App Store and should more than satisfy those looking for a game that's easy to grasp but can take forever to master. While it definitely shines as a multiplayer game, Sirlin has packed the game with plenty of single-player content too like a pretty strong AI to play against as well as 10 Challenges that will test your skills and help you discover the game's strategic nuances. So, a great deckbuilding game, and a good mobile game, too...

'Circa Infinity' Review - Like a Record, Baby

'Circa Infinity' Review - Like a Record, Baby

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February 5th, 2016 10:14 AM EST by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 4.5 stars, Arcade, Games, Platform, Retro, Reviews, Universal
$2.99 Buy Now

In our recent review of Super Phantom Cat [$1.99] I remarked that I “wished the developers had been as creative with the platforming genre as they’d been with the art”. I loved the game in large part because of its wonderful presentation, and the solid gameplay was definitely fun despite feeling a bit too safe at the end of the day. And now, immediately after, I have Kenny Sun's Circa Infinity [$2.99] in my hands. It’s striking in that I like the game just as much as Phantom Cat, but my reasons for it are exactly the opposite. The gameplay in Infinity is unlike anything I’ve played before, to the point where I’m not even sure you could call it a “platformer” at all. The game’s presentation, however, is pretty solid but nowhere near as eye-catchingly beautiful as Phantom Cat. None of that should be taken as complaining, though, because I’m sure there are plenty of people who are completely over the moon for the traditional gameplay of the former and absolutely in love the sparse pixel stylings are of the latter...

'Captain Cowboy' Review - Digging Up Nostalgia

Growing up, some of my favorite games were adventure titles. Ones you could just get lost in, exploring an uncharted and dangerous world. There was something so unique about those experiences -- where you had no concept of what to expect, and no knowledge of where to go. It helped prepare me for games like King's Field and the Souls series, and I'm always grateful that developers were making games like that, testing the boundaries of the unknown. That's partially why Captain Cowboy [$2.99] is so great, as it captures the essence of so many of those bygone classics while sticking to a tried and true adventure formula...

'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
Free Buy Now

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...

Do you ever have a game that just does not click with you? Twofold Inc. [$3.99] is the equivalent of a restaurant where you can admire the work and craftsmanship that went into the product at hand. What you're given is made with care and skill. But understanding and respecting why something is the way it is doesn't mean that you have to like it. You can even understand why others may like it. I respect Twofold Inc. but I didn't have much fun with it...

Many 20th century governments have risen and fallen on the power of the word. While sudden explosions of dissent have marked the often-televised end of regimes like Romania's Ceouseskou in 1989, it was the power of the official or underground press that often initially held these governments in power and fomented the dissent that led to their downfall. And these words in official propaganda or unofficial, subversive propaganda (because any information with an angle is, technically, a form of propaganda) caused suffering and death and ruined millions of lives. That's why when I started playing The Westport Independent [$4.99], a "censorship simulator" according to the App Store description, I was expecting my words to cost many lives, my decisions to matter both in terms of gameplay but also in terms of making me care about the lives lost, even the imaginary ones...

The East New World [$1.99] is pretty comfortable wearing its inspirations on its sleeve. The enemy designs map pretty closely to those found in Goblin Sword [$1.99]. The button layout is very similar to the one used on Sword Of Xolan [$0.99]. The basic gameplay of all of these games isn't that far removed from Devious Dungeon [$2.99]. That's not to say that The East New World doesn't have a few ideas of its own, but it's similar enough to Goblin Sword in particular that it feels like a reskin at times. You'll need to make your way through preset levels, searching out three crystals and two chests per stage, defeating whatever gets in your way using your sword. Pick up all the coins and gems you find on the way so that you can buy new gear in town between levels. Use your trusty double jump to avoid spikes and other hazards, and make your way to the exit somewhere on the far right-hand side of the stage. Very much a clone, to be sure, but it's at least a good one...

'Super Phantom Cat' Review - A Purretty Clawsome Catformer Fur iOS

First off, sorry about that headline. I tried to fight the urge and I failed. Second, if you’re bummed that there’s no Super Mario game on the App Store (yet?), then you should drop what you’re doing and grab Veewo’s Super Phantom Cat [$1.99] right meow. It’s a fairly traditional platformer under the surface, borrowing heavily from Nintendo’s resident plumber, but I have to say--that surface is flippin’ gorgeous...

'CombineRobot' Review - Mecha Match Three

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January 29th, 2016 2:00 PM EST by Chris Carter in $0.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

Match-three is one of those genres that will be around forever. Years after we're immersing ourselves in full consumer-grade VR, Match-three will still be rampant on portable devices and wearable tech. It's inevitable. But while many of them stick to the same formula, CombineRobot [$0.99] aims to do something different -- both thematically and mechanically -- and I admire it for that...

Lost In Harmony [$3.99] is the latest game from Yoan Fanise, whose work at Ubisoft included directing Valiant Hearts [Free] and Rayman Raving Rabbids, along with sound design and audio direction on titles such as Beyond Good & Evil, Rabbids Go Home, and Assassin's Creed 3. With that kind of resume, it's perhaps not surprising that Lost In Harmony attempts to be an audio/visual spectacle, a heart-wrenching experience, and a unique hybrid of gameplay styles all at once. It succeeds completely on the first point and reasonably well on the second, but there are some definite issues that crop up with the third point. You can get a lot out of Lost In Harmony, but you're going to have to forgive a few things along the way...

'Momoka: An Interplanetary Adventure' Review - It Ain't Pretty, But It's Great Fun

From the first time I saw it, Momoka [$6.99] always had me a bit on edge. It looked cool, but something about the game's production values always seemed to leave me feeling like this could be a mediocre game. The visuals felt like they were on the wrong side between ugly and intentional low fidelity. Something about the way characters moved and operated left me feeling like this could be what could be succinctly summarized as a janky game. Janky games are frustrating, because they could and should be great, but often get in the way of themselves with things like bugs, poor controls, and ill-advised design decisions. Momoka certainly flirts with jankiness, and has some rough edges that make it not the smoothest experience ever, no. But it's constructed so well, that its flaws stay out of the way of this fantastic Metroidvania platformer...

As you could probably tell if you’ve ever seen my forum avatar, I’m a huge Calvin & Hobbes fan. Aside from how funny, intelligent, and surprisingly philosophical the strip could be, one of my favorite aspects was how the titular duo could go anywhere and do anything with just a cardboard box. It could be anything from a transmogrifier to a duplicator to a time machine, and each one led to a sense that anything was possible with a large enough box and an even larger imagination. Sky Chasers [Free] by Lucky Kat Studios attempts to tap into a similarly whimsical feeling, and--for the most part--it pulls it off...

'Dungelot: Shattered Lands' Review - Chewie, We’re Home

Most people that have seen the new Star Wars movie enjoyed it, but one complaint I’ve seen a lot is that it borrows heavily from the first film, A New Hope. I’ve read that it was intentional, and part of the reason was probably to remind people of how much they loved the original trilogy and help them forget the prequels. And as weird as it may seem, it sort of reminds me of what Red Winter has done with the latest Dungelot sequel, Dungelot: Shattered Lands [$3.99]...

Tower Of Fortune 2 [$0.99] was just about everything you could want in a sequel. It kept the core elements that people enjoyed in Tower Of Fortune [$0.99], but expanded out on them greatly. It felt like the first game, but more. It's a good approach for a first follow-up, but as many developers can attest to, there's only so long you can play it safe before things start to sour. Game Stew seems to be quite aware of that, having taken an extended break away from the main Tower Of Fortune series to work on various other game ideas. Now returning to the Tower Of Fortune series, the developers appear to be eager to apply some of the things they've learned to make a decidedly different sort of sequel...

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