Category Archives: 2 stars

I don't mind free-to-play games, inherently. What I do mind are games whose monetization schemes are tilted against the player to the point that they severely impact the gamer. Thus we have Asphalt Overdrive [Free], a lane-based runner take on the venerable Asphalt racing series that's free-to-play, but definitely pay-to-progress, which is a shame, because it's good time when it's not trying to push upgrades or throwing in annoying wait timers...

'Corpse Party' Review - This Buggy Port Is A Real Party Pooper

I find the idea of horror games to be quite fascinating. For the most part, the video game medium is about making the player feel powerful. It's about making you feel like you can do things like take on an entire army by yourself, kill a giant, fire-breathing dragon, win an F1 race, or karate a guy in the face so hard that he vomits. Even death is no object, since the ultimate power almost every game allows you is that of the second chance. That's all awesome, and game experiences like those can certainly be tense, but they're rarely legitimately scary. Horror games, on the other hand, tend to strip you of your feeling of power, putting you up against something you are very unlikely to survive, and giving you very few tools to do so. You can't just scare a player by threatening them with death, though, because dying is trivial in the video game world. Instead, you have to find a way to get under the skin of the player in a more subtle way. Or just have a zombie dog jump through a window unexpectedly, I guess...

Chillingo has been pretty quiet lately but they are back in action, publishing PlayFlame's physics simulation style game, Zombie High Dive [Free]. PlayFlame's debut game mixes the launch trajectory component of Angry Birds [$0.99] and the wind resistance air rotation physics of Bouncy! Trampoline [Free]. We can't draw too much from the history of the developer, but the publisher is one of the most prolific in the business. For better or worse, the game brings what you would expect from EA owned Chillingo: Full facebook integration, highly stylized art, music and sound work, with hopefully some intriguing gameplay...

'Angels in the Sky' Review - A Fallen Star

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August 5th, 2014 11:00 AM EDT by Eric Ford in $6.99, 2 stars, Action, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Shooter, Universal
$2.99 Buy Now

Boasting visuals powered by Unreal Engine 4, the developers behind Angels In The Sky are obviously banking on a graphical backbone to power their on-rails shooter. While visuals can certainly pick up any game, there’s not much it can do for a game that suffers from fundamental gameplay issues. Unfortunately, with its relatively bland shooter mechanics combined with an IAP focused upgrade system, Angels In The Sky [$2.99] suffers from this issue, making it simply another pretty face...

The Sonic The Hedgehog franchise has a tough line to walk. It's still SEGA's most reliable means of generating sales, and these days, that's more important for that company than ever before. At the same time, the reputation of the character has taken a real bruising over the years from some of the more questionable attempts at leveraging his popularity. For what it's worth, SEGA seems to be aware of the problem, and I would say a good half of the Sonic games released these days are quality efforts like Sonic Generations, the Christian Whitehead remakes of the classic Sonic games such as Sonic The Hedgehog 2 [$2.99], and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed [Free]. I'll even go as far as to say that Sonic Dash [Free] was a pretty decent behind-the-back runner that only got better with updates. Then there's the other side of Sonic, the games that are a poor fit for the franchise, just plain mediocre, or both. Here I'm talking about things like Sonic: Lost World, Mario & Sonic at the Olympics, and yes, the original Sonic Jump [$2.99] for mobiles...

Just imagine how great the world would be if everything lived up to its potential. We'd have flying cars, safe clean-burning energy for all, a Stanley Cup-winning team in Vancouver, and Elthinia [$2.99] wouldn't be a terrible mess of a game. Unfortunately, here in the real world, potential sometimes amounts to very little except disappointment. If you play Elthinia, and I strongly assert that you should not, you can see the potential all over the place. The battle artwork is really good, the story is extremely detailed, character progression and customization are surprisingly deep, and the world seems like a place I'd like to explore. The first problem is that this is very clearly not a finished product. To be very fair, I waited until the game had its first patch since it was supposed to be coming quickly and fixing some very important things. Well, the game is still full of bugs, both major and minor, but the game is out there on the store for anyone to buy, so it's fair game for criticism...

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...

Family Guy is one of those shows you either love or hate. You love its humor, whether it’s offensive or not, with some pretty memorable characters (Greased Up Naked Deaf Guy? C’mon). Or you hate it, think it’s stupid, and can’t understand how a show like that is on the air. Whatever your view, Family Guy is here to stay, and Seth McFarlane is one of the biggest people in the industry at the moment...

When Transport Tycoon [$6.99] came out on iOS, I was thrilled. In my review, I stated how happy I would be, and how happy fans of the series might be, if Rollercoaster Tycoon were to come out on iOS...

Making a traditional shoot-em-up out of the Star Wars license is such a great idea that you just know something had to go wrong. A curious spin-off of a spin-off series, LEGO Star Wars: Microfighters [$0.99] seems to naturally have its sights set on the younger Star Wars fans. It's about as basic a vertical shooter as you could imagine, with little of the imagination one would associate with the LEGO franchise. In and of itself, there's nothing wrong with that, especially considering the heavy debt the shooter genre owes to the original films, but the end result is a fairly unremarkable game that isn't even packed with much fanservice, leaving it without the usual last resort many Star Wars games have had to retreat to...

It's a little odd the first time you see an official first party franchise appear on a competing platform, especially one involving a mascot character. Seeing Bonk on the NES and Sonic on the Gamecube was a bit surreal, concretely driving home the point that things had changed in the games industry. Well, the near-ubiquity of mobile devices has brought yet another change to the business, and while I don't think there's any question that iOS is a competitor to the Vita and, indirectly, the PlayStation 3/4, Sony's obviously comfortable exploring its potential for cross-marketing. This should be a win for all involved, but judging by their first steps into the App Store, it's turning out to be quite the opposite...

'Garfield Kart' Review - This Fat Cat is Light on Fun

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December 3rd, 2013 11:11 AM EDT by Danny Gallagher in $1.99, 2 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, Racing, Reviews
$1.99 Buy Now

Ever since Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo earned a place in pop culture's archive as a true gaming classic, just about every cartoonish video game series has tried to emulate that success to the point of becoming a punchline. Why would Sonic the Hedgehog, a character whose core ability is running near to the speed of sound, ever feel the need to prove himself on the racetrack in a go-kart?..

Runners are all over iTunes since Adam Atomic's groundbreaking Canabalt [$2.99] created a complex world with simple pixels that could offer simple yet challenging gameplay. Temple Run [Free], the first breakout runner hit that launched an invasion of running games on mobile devices, gave it a nice 3D edge that may not have accomplished the same noble attributes as Adam Atomic's indie hit but can be just as fun to play during those various moments in life when waiting is necessary...

The tough lot of being a fan of Marvel's god of thunder, Thor, has become somewhat easier over the last several years. With soon to be two solo movies under his belt, and an important role in the biggest superhero movie of all time, ol' Goldilocks seems to have finally broken out of being that stiff, weird, Shakespearean-speaking guy with the big hammer and a stupid hat. Now, he's that stiff, weird, Shakespearean-speaking guy with the big hammer and no hat. Let's hear it for progress! In all seriousness, if you had told me as a kid that someday I'd get to see Volstagg, Heimdall, Fandrall, Sif, and Thor duking it out with frost giants in Asgard in a live action movie, I'd have thought you were nuts. And if you had told me Thor would star in an awesome video game, I'd have called you insane. Well, Kid Shaun was half-right, at least...

Playing a bad game is no fun, and it's even worse when that bad game comes from a developer you usually like. I guess I could probably call the review a wrap right there, but just in case you want to know why I think Random Runners [$0.99], the latest from Ravenous Games, is so lousy, grab a beverage of your choice, take a seat, and I'll lay it out. I sincerely hope this game ends up a simple outlier in Ravenous's spread, because I hate to see the folks behind the brilliant League of Evil [$1.99] go this low...

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