Category Archives: 2.5 stars

Of all the many complaints I've levied against the games released by Candy Crush Saga [Free] publisher King, one I haven't been able to make up until now was that their games lacked polish. A whole lot of that is owing to their relatively simple nature, but nevertheless, King games were generally bug-free and ran well enough. Their games don't typically suck a whole lot of battery power and are pretty good for filling in those gaps in the day where you want to play something without paying much attention. I could say all of that stuff until now, with the release of Diamond Digger Saga [Free], a battery-hogging, crash-prone game that in its current build has one of the worst kinds of bugs: the type that steals away your premium currency. Unintentionally, to the comedian in row three of the comments section...

Warbot Assault [Free] is yet another Kongregate-published free-to-play game. The concept is certainly an exciting one: players outfit a giant robot and an army of vehicles, and take them into battle against other armies of vehicles, and another giant robot. These opponents are all based on other players' loadouts, so not only is it possible to punch a giant robot to death, it's possible to punch a giant robot to death, and have someone in the world know that it was their giant robot that got punched to death by you. Unfortunately, that's it for the game. It does little to add much variety beyond "punch giant robots in the face."..

I'm not surprised that Domowicz Creative Group has nothing new on their site announcing the release of The Manhattan Project [$6.99]. The last update mentions a potential november 2013 start date for a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign that ended last december did not reach it's goal. While I remain unstartled about the lack of updates on their site, I am kind of surprised this game got completed. I am torn about how I feel about the release. Part of me wishes it had not been released without proper funding. Another part of me was happy to see it out on iOS, but not like this. Not like this...

Publisher Bulkypix isn't making a lot of noise about it, but Dream Revenant [$1.99] is actually the sequel to 2011's dream:scape [$0.99], albeit more mechanically than in terms of story. The set-up is quite similar, with you taking the role of a man on the verge of death, exploring his own dreams to sort through memories of his past to uncover certain truths. As with the first game, you'll do this by wandering around a decent-sized 3D landscape, stumbling on revelations, picking up items, and using them to navigate extremely simple obstacles. To the developer's credit, they've picked up on a lot of the major criticisms of the first game, but three years is a very long time in the world of gaming, and particularly so in the context of the relatively young iOS market. The result is like something you might see in the games, a response to a ghostly voice of the past...

A hyper-violent game of football mashed up with Warhammer winds up being kind of boring? Say it ain't so. Blood Bowl [$4.99 (HD)] is really only for really patient people who can really tolerate their sports as turn-based dice-rolling affairs...

Super Heavy Sword [$0.99] is one of those games that really breaks me up. It's such an earnest effort, full of interesting ideas and mechanics that pay clear tribute to some all-time greats. It's also a complete mess. This is becoming the unfortunate calling card of developer Monster Robot Studios, who make games I truly want to love, but can't for a variety of reasons. Anyway, this one is the sequel to Heavy Sword [Free], which is probably this developer's best effort, largely due to the design obscuring the game's technical flaws. This sequel takes things in a bit of a different direction, dragging the gameplay into places it really shouldn't be. This is basically a 2D take on Super Mario 64, an idea that hasn't been tapped out nearly as much as it should have. You guide your choice of the hero of the first game or the princess he rescued on a quest to defeat the bad guys and restore peace to the realm...

Thanks to the relatively low barrier to entry, the App Store is filled with labors of love. Compared to most other times in gaming's fairly short history, it's less difficult to get a game together and out in front of the public's eyes, even if you have a small team and no budget, so it's no surprise we see a lot of people making homages to their childhood favorites or putting together something that approximates their dream game. Arcane Ghosts [$1.99] is one such labor of love, a letter written with care to express affection for the side-scrolling action games of old, with a particular eye towards Capcom's Ghosts 'n' Goblins series. That series is famous for a few things, but mainly for being a very frustrating game with unusual, yet tight, controls. Arcane Ghosts gets almost all of that right except the most important part...

While I enjoy a big budget RPG production like any fan of the genre does, I'm also a pretty big fan of checking out what the little guys are up to. That's because when it comes to RPGs, perhaps more than most genres, you don't need a huge budget or a massive studio to realize your gameplay ideas. It doesn't hurt, mind you, but it's arguable that the very core of video game RPGs is in realizing abstract ideas through more practical means. It's why companies like Atlus and Falcom who work with budgets many times smaller than someone like Square-Enix are still able to capture the hearts of RPG lovers just the same. To be honest, finding an innovative RPG with ideas that connect well with me tends to be a bit rare, but the enjoyment I get from them when I do find them makes the search more than worthwhile...

I was a bit surprised by this latest release from Kairosoft, makers of the hit simulation Game Dev Story [$4.99]. Not by the game itself, mind you, since this is right off the assembly line in every way, shape, and form. No, I was surprised by Pocket Harvest [$4.99] because I really thought Kairosoft had done a farming game before. I guess it's because farming and rustic settings have been regular elements of many of their games. This is their first pure farming game, but it has been shoehorned into Kairosoft's most familiar template, creating a game that is one of their least appealing to date. The most common criticism of this developer's games is how much they tend to recycle, but at least with titles like World Cruise Story [$4.99] or Sushi Spinnery [$3.99], the settings are unique even if the mechanics are very familiar. Pocket Harvest doesn't even have that going for it, unfortunately...

A young boy who gets trapped inside a video game? Well, it all sounds a little familiar.. doesn’t it? That aside, Marcus Level [$0.99], despite it’s strange name, is a curious platform game that takes elements from the endless runner genre to combine a unique twist on what is essentially a quirky finite runner game...

In my younger years, I would often look through the ads in the back of games magazines, goggle-eyed at all the niche import games and weird pieces of hardware that, living in a very small town, I would never, ever have a chance to find in a local store. Ads were a liittle different back then, which was likely a result of the primitive nature of game graphics, and they had a tendency to, shall we say, oversell the concept in slightly misleading ways. If you had an active imagination, it was all too easy to read one of these ads and conjure up something in your mind that was far more entertaining than the reality. I'm sure we can all rifle off a variety of examples, but for me, one of the worst was the Barcode Battler...

Nostalgia is a heck of a thing. Like many of you, I like to indulge in revisiting my childhood on occasion. To tell the truth, though, when it comes to games, I feel like I never fully left my childhood favorites behind. Not only am I big on retro collections and classic re-releases, I actually have an NES and SNES connected to my main TV, plugged in and ready to go at all times. I keep my old brick Game Boy in an empty drawer in the kitchen in case I want to play some Tetris while I wait for the water to boil. There's one important part of my gaming past that I fell out of touch with over the years, however, and that's computer gaming. My first gaming hardware that I actually owned and had in my house, apart from a Coleco Mini Arcade version of Galaxian, was a Commodore 64. It was only a couple of years later at most that I got an NES, but those Commodore years remain as formative to my gaming memories as hanging off of arcade machines at the restaurant where my mother worked...

Like most kids who grew up in the 1980s, I loved Robocop. It was kind of a strange situation, looking back. The movie was an R-rated, ultra-violent piece of multi-layered social commentary, and yet the character was heavily marketed towards kids. Of course, for kids, it wasn't social commentary, it was a movie about a cyborg police officer with a gun in his leg shooting bad guys and big robots while issuing easily-quoted one-liners. That description sounds nearly as perfect as can be for a video game concept, and yet, Robocop's forays into gaming have not only been of dubious quality, the IP itself seems to be cursed. In addition to Orion Pictures itself going down the tubes shortly after the wretched third movie, literally every company that ever worked on a Robocop game no longer exists. Perhaps that explains why such an easily-exploitable franchise has been relatively dormant for so long...

Finally available worldwide after a soft launch in Canada, Fightback [Free] is something of a unfortunate tale. Ninja Theory is a fairly major developer known for decently-playing action games with excellent production values. They're perhaps most famous for the controversial DmC, where they ended up taking the brunt of the anger of fans over choices that were largely directed by the publisher. It's odd that they've shown up on iOS with such little fanfare, but perhaps it's for the best, because Fightback is an exhasperating combination of great gameplay and fatal F2P mechanics...

It's that time of the month again, and without missing a beat, we have a new RPG from Kemco. Destiny Fantasia [$7.99] comes to us by way of developer WorldWideSoftware, Kemco's original mobile partners in crime. They're most famously the developers behind Symphony of Eternity [$7.99] and Symphony of the Origin [$8.99], and they, in my opinion, turn out the worst work out of any of the teams Kemco publishes for. They last poked their heads up on iOS with End of Aspiration [$7.99], a game we didn't care for all that much, and most of the criticisms of that title apply fairly well here...

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