Category Archives: Ratings

The original Don't Starve [$4.99] started a revolution of sorts in my house. My wife, who typically doesn't enjoy punishing or permadeath games, took to it for weeks on end, and started a revolution of sorts in terms of her gaming habits. She's spend days trying to perfect a certain run, learning new ways to survive in the process, die, and then have to start all over. We did it together all the way through two expansions, and although it's not for everyone, the process of picking up on every little minute detail every playthrough and coming out stronger for it is incredible. That second expansion has finally made its way to iOS in the form of Don't Starve: Shipwrecked [$4.99], and although it's one heck of a mixup in terms of the survival formula, it's not without its iOS specific faults...

In virtually every respect, Empire of Angels 4 [$9.99] is a completely average SRPG. The latest in the line of a twenty-year-old series from well-known Taiwanese publisher Softstar, it doesn't stray far from what you've likely seen in a lot of other games in this genre. You'll go from point to point on a map, advance the story, fight some turn-based battles using an ever-increasing group of units, level up your team, and move on to the next challenge. Units can come in a variety of job classes, which define what moves they have at their disposal. Battles are broken up by cut-scenes that move the story along, but the meat of the game is left to the combat...




One of the most popular RPGs in the world might just be a game that you've never heard of. Flash RPG series Sonny has gotten millions of players over the past decade between two different installments. Now, web portal and game publisher Armor Games has teamed up with developer Krin to bring a new Sonny [$2.99] game to mobile. It's not a sequel to Sonny 2, necessarily, which ended on a cliffhanger. Instead, this is a massive reboot with a new storyline, some familiar and returning characters, and an actual ending to the story. You play as the eponymous Sonny, a dude who has died on a boat, but thanks to a special serum from Louis, you're a powerful, conscious zombie. Louis gets killed by Zombie Pest Control Incorporated troops, who are out to get you because you're a zombie, and to exact vengeance on your initial ZPCI troop kills. After your escape, you travel through the world, meeting new allies, learning more abilities, and discovering that some of this world's zombie population are able to communicate much like you are...

Cannonfire Concerto [$3.99] is another gamebook release from Choice of Games that offers an unusual premise and excellent world-building. You play as a touring musical virtuoso in a setting that has something of an 18th century European feel. It's a time of momentary peace for the region, but things are starting to fire up again. It's up to you to decide whether or not you want to get involved and which side you'll pull for, but whatever you choose, the show must go on. Written by Caleb Wilson, Cannonfire Concerto is a lighter and faster-paced read than some of the last few ChoiceScript games released, but that doesn't stop it from creating an interesting setting and having a good bit of fun with it...

'The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth' Review - Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

At last! The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth [$14.99] has finally released on iOS, and it was well worth the wait. Perhaps the most popular dual-stick shooter roguelike out there, rumors, Apple approvals drama, and a constantly-shifting release date led to this being the white whale for many iOS gamers. As the release date narrowed down to a general range, every day saw one question surely asked: "When's Isaac coming?" Well, thanks to a surprise Tuesday night release on January 10th US time, The Binding of Isaac is finally here, and well worth the wait. The scatological, challenging roguelike dual-stick shooter promises challenging gameplay with mountains of secrets to discover...

Out Run really was ahead of its time. Released over 30 years ago, Yu Suzuki tapped into the racing market like never before, with a sit-down car-like arcade cabinet and an exploration-based concept. In Out Run the objective wasn't to really "finish first" despite the time limit mechanic. It was all about the journey, providing choices for where to go by way of forked roads, leading to multiple playthroughs, and even other choices that weren't typical at the time, like radio stations. The game broke my preconceived notions of what the medium could do at the time as a young runt, and still stands as one of Sega's crowning achievements. It was a magical experience stepping inside one of those cabinets, and although Highway Runners [$1.99] doesn't really hit all of the same notes, it's a nice little homage to a bygone era...

Do not buy these. Just don't. Not even for a laugh. Not even because they're only a couple bucks a pop and what harm could it do? I am sitting here trying to imagine how these ports of the 8-bit Mega Man games could have been worse, and I'm coming up dry. Nothing is right about them. Nothing. It's like someone was given the graphic and audio assets of the games and were told to re-create everything else on their own. The gravity is off. Enemy behavior is off. Hit detection is weird, and even the recoil from getting hit doesn't work properly. The games are crash-prone. The framerate is awful. The default speed is absurdly slow and choppy, and while the faster speed setting makes things a little better, it's too fast, still choppy, and messes with the games' fundamental workings even more...

Twin-stick shooting. Roguelite elements. Pandas with heavy ordinance. It was inevitable that someone, at some point in human history, would put these things together into one game. Continuing my mop-up of games that missed getting a review upon their initial release, it's Feral Fury's turn at bat. This game has developed a strong following in the TouchArcade forums, both because of the quality of the game itself and because of its highly-responsive, courteous developer. Feral Fury [$1.99] walks along a similar path to games like Enter the Gungeon and Binding of Isaac, and although it's not quite up to the level of those games, it's still an awful lot of fun...

'RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic' Review - The Perfect Classic Ride

RollerCoaster Tycoon is as beloved a classic simulation series as any, but up until now it had yet to show its true classic root on iOS. After the ridiculousness of the freemium-filled RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile [Free], players eventually got a decent title in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 [$4.99], which brought the core simulation gameplay to iOS. However, as we’ve mentioned in previously, RCT3 doesn’t quite nail the look and feel that hardcore fans of the series were looking for. Enter RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic [$5.99], which combines the best of both RollerCoaster Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 in an amazing mobile package. Rest assured, RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic is the real deal and is a must-own for everyone that loves simulation titles...

Pixeljam has revived their Flash game Snowball! [$1.99] for Steam and mobile, and the world is better off with this charming pinball game. The whole game is just one table, but it's an entertaining table, and a game that's absolutely gorgeous for pixel art aficionados, especially on a big enough screen. The table is intended to take place on the side of a mountain, with the pinball being a Snowball!, the flippers being wooden contraptions operated by people, and the area where your ball falls into being a campfire that melts the ball. It's charming...

The gravity gun from Half-Life 2 is a dramatically underutilized tool in games. What felt so cool and revolutionary in 2004 has since been stuck to just one game. Kind of like how there were rumblings that the portal gun would show up in a future Half-Life 2 episode, and other games with portals like Portal have popped up. Thanks to Island Delta [$2.99], it has reminded me of how clever an idea the gravity gun. But also, it serves as a reminder of how a tool that requires good physics also requires good design to be used effectively...

'Colt Express' Makes Robbing Trains Fun and a Treat for the Eyes

Board game ports are a popular genre on the App Store, and while some are fun, not all of them strike a good balance between retaining the feel of a board game and taking advantage of all the digital realm can offer. I'm glad to say Colt Express [$4.99], the port of the award-winning board game, manages to bring the board game to life on digital by adding enough animation and sounds to make it pleasing to the eye while keeping the spirit of the board game intact. In fact, the developers have done something unusual in this port; they've transformed the 3D trains of the board game into 2D ones that look made of cardboard...

I often find myself into a bit of a bind when I review a game that's well done in terms of design but also has major technical issues. How do you separate the plot and design ideas in the first episode of BATMAN - The Telltale Series [$4.99] from the engine's obvious shortcomings that make the game almost unplayable on all but the latest iOS devices? I've been playing the game on my iPhone 7 and even though I got some relatively long load times here and there, overall the experience was relatively fine (minus some typos, blurry text in the Codex, and graphical glitches). However, when I tried playing it on my iPad Air, I couldn't enjoy the game because the minutes-long load times really messed with the flow of the story (it's like watching a movie with long commercial breaks)...

'PinOut!' Review - A Pretty, Good Spin on Pinball

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December 30th, 2016 1:30 PM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Pinball, Reviews
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With the end of the year upon us, I'm doing my usual job of going back and picking out some games for review that for whatever reason didn't get one upon release. This year, most of the choices are coming from suggestions from the community, and one of the first games mentioned was PinOut! [Free]. Given that pinball is usually like catnip for me, I'm not sure why I missed this one to begin with. I imagine I was knee-deep in RPGs or something like that. At any rate, it's better late than never, so let's take a look at this stylish spin on one of the oldest electronic gaming genres...

'Mini Metro' Review - Train Braining

'Mini Metro' Review - Train Braining

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December 30th, 2016 12:30 PM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $4.99, 5 stars, Arcade, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation
$4.99 Buy Now

Continuing our year-end mop-up of games we missed out on reviewing at the time of their release for various reasons, the next requested title by our readers was Mini Metro [$4.99]. I've had an interesting relationship with trains over the course of my life. Passenger trains more or less vanished in the part of Canada I'm from when I was relatively young. Like most places in Canada, my town was far too small to merit a local metro system. I mean, we barely had buses. Thus, I didn't end up riding a train of any sort until I was in my twenties, and I picked a wild place to start. Imagine a small-town bumpkin arriving in Tokyo, Japan, and trying to make sense of the colorful spaghetti that is the Tokyo Metro system. After a while, though, I got the hang of it, and I now consider myself to be pretty good at navigating the sometimes seemingly nonsensical connections from place to place in that city...

'Empyrean' Review - Empyrean Rex

'Empyrean' Review - Empyrean Rex

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$5.99 Buy Now

Empyrean [$5.99], one of the recent releases of prolific gamebook publisher Choice of Games, doesn't start off on a good foot. Major events are happening to your character before you can even get your bearings, and it feels like the story is telling you a lot more than it's asking you. It doesn't help matters that the game's primary setting, the dieselpunk-styled city of Actorius, has a lot of lore to explain. The whole thing comes on a bit too strong initially, and I had to force myself to push through it in the early going. Give it some time to unfurl a little, however, and Empyrean proves to be great fun. It's a pulpy thing, to be sure, but it's high-quality pulp. I ended up enjoying it so much that even though this is one of the longer ChoiceScript games I've played, the time seemed to fly by...

'Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire' Review - Delicious

One of the great things about classics is that they're readily available. While you'd be hard pressed to find a copy of Master Chu and the Drunkard Hu for the NES, a game almost no one has even heard of (myself included, until my wife showed me hers), you can get Mario 3 on your refrigerator and play Doom 2 inside of a keyboard. Sega is particularly giving with their legacy titles in the mobile arena, as is Square Enix, even if the latter charges an arm and a leg for the privilege. But while those games are timeless to some, new blood needs to come in every so often and keep them in check, even if they aren't particularly unique mechanically. Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire [$1.99] is comprised of a lot of mechanics found in the aforementioned classics, but its presentation of those concepts is effortless...

Nomads going on massive treks across the land with their tribes in tow. A lot of quality entertainment has been mined from that concept, most notably in recent gaming history with The Banner Saga [$4.99]. This time, Choice of Games is taking a crack at it with Saga of the North Wind [$4.99], a relatively lengthy adventure gamebook from writer Tom Knights. It's a good idea for a game like this, and the quality of the prose here is strong, but a few elements keep it from being all that it could have been. If you've got an interest in the topic matter, though, you'll probably find something to like here...

'Don't Grind' Review - Tally Me Banana

I don't know about you, but I always get unnerved at the death of tiny cute anthropomorphic things. Most people can rationalize "that's a banana getting grinded up into bits," but when you hear their screams and see blood splattering across the screen, it's a little different. Thankfully the point of Don't Grind [Free] is to save these little creatures, but as most endless games prove, death is inevitable. Maybe that's why it makes me so uncomfortable...

'Super Mario Run' Review - Mario and Luigi Are Doing What They Can

I feel pretty confident saying that Super Mario Run [Free] is the most hyped game release in the history of iOS. It has had the full marketing weight of two of the biggest giants in the industry behind it since its announcement, with Apple even going so far as to introduce a new notification system to allow players to pre-order it. That hype is there for good reason, of course. This is a historical moment for the video game industry. It's the first time a Mario game developed by Nintendo has released on non-Nintendo hardware since, I think, the original Mario Bros. back in the early 1980s. The legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto took a direct hand in the development of Super Mario Run, something he hasn't done for a Mario game since Super Mario Galaxy back in 2007. While the concept of Miitomo [Free] felt a bit underwhelming, Super Mario Run is Nintendo committing to mobile with unexpectedly fierce intensity...

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