Category Archives: 2.5 stars

So, you thought you were getting a technical marvel of an action game in Eisenhorn: Xenos [$5.99]? Wrong! This adaptation of the 2001 novel set in the ever-expansive and convoluted Warhammer universe, starring inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn, has disappointing combat, and the game largely tries to hide it and convince you that it's unnecessary. Instead, this is about telling the story from the novel, featuring Mark Strong as Eisenhorn, while presenting some gorgeous backdrops, with you at the controls driving the narrative. And if Warhammer lore is your bag, this is a game for you. As an action game? Eh...

From the moment the first details on Tap My Katamari [Free]were released, the overwhelming sentiment seemed to be that this game shouldn't be. The original Katamari Damacy was a small, creative, sincere game that somehow managed to become a big hit even though such qualities don't generally lead to success in the console space. Seeing the brand used for a fairly blatant attempt at getting a little cash from one of the mobile flavors of the moment just doesn't seem right to some people, and I can certainly understand that point of view. From where I'm sitting, the Katamari brand started being used against its original intentions almost immediately, with sequel after sequel only serving to diminish the power of the original. So, personally, I'm not disappointed because I think Tap My Katamari shouldn't be. I'm disappointed because Tap My Katamari shouldn't be this mediocre of a tapper...




Word games and mobile go together like peanut butter and jam, and like that classic combo, you don't have to look very far to find an example. You get to a point where you have to wonder what more can be done with the genre beyond dressing it up in different themes. AlphaPit [$2.99], the latest game from Word Forward [Free] developer Shane McCafferty, has a few new ideas. For the most part, it builds on the frame work laid down in Word Forward, but there are some unusual design choices that make AlphaPit feel different, if not necessarily better. While I think the developer succeeded in making something that sets itself apart from the very large crowd, the game never truly finds an enjoyable structure to call its own...

Paradox Interactive is mostly known for its complex strategy games covering wars and situations both real and imagined. Its most famous series in that vein is probably Europa Universalis, but Paradox shepherds several successful strategy brands, including both internally developed titles and games where they act only as a publisher. Their latest iOS release brings one of their more popular strategy brands to the platform, but in a very different form. Hearts of Iron: War Stories [Free] is a spin-off of the World War 2 strategy series Hearts of Iron, which originated on Windows PCs in 2002 and just saw its most recent release a few days ago. Instead of the familiar tactical gameplay fans know and love, War Stories is a gamebook. You're no grand commander, but rather a young recruit to the British RAF. If nothing else, it's a change of pace for Paradox, and it shows...

In between crunching RPGs, I often like to unwind with various types of interactive fiction games. They're relatively short, and they're easier to fit into small pockets of time during the day compared to many other games. At the same time, they give me the satisfaction of reading a story, even if it's not always a great one. I've reviewed many of these types of games here at TouchArcade, but one of the more popular companies whose works I had yet to touch on was Voltage. You may not have heard of them, but they're basically the Harlequin Romance of the App Store. Their games are incredibly successful in Japan, their home market, but they've also found quite a bit of success worldwide. The closest we've come to covering their games was when I reviewed Queen's Gambit [Free], a product of their American branch, but I figured with Voltage launching their latest game and me needing something light to play, the time was ripe to finally cover one of their romance games...

This is going to be a slightly unorthodox review. Since Zojoi decided to release all four of the ICOM Simulations MacVenture games for iPad on the same day, we figured it would be best to review them all in one shot. While the games aren't precisely equal to one another, they're using the same engine, and have been ported similarly, so there's a great deal of overlap in terms of what they offer. So what I'll be doing is first covering the shared elements before devoting a little section to each game. For all intents and purposes, you can read the score on this review as applicable to all four of the games, however...

So, I love football manager games, and I've loved playing football games (or soccer for some of you) like FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer since the days of International Superstar Soccer on the Nintendo 64. Add to this my love for CCGs, and you can understand why I had high hopes for FIFA 16 Ultimate Team [Free] since it looked like it combined all three genres in one shiny package. The last FIFA I played on mobile before FIFA 16 UT was FIFA 14, which was the last one to have various other modes (like Quick Match and Season) in addition to the Ultimate Team mode. While I had dabbled a bit in the Ultimate Team mode in FIFA 14, I didn't really bother much because I simply wanted to play football without messing with menus too much. Still, I actually loaded FIFA 16 UT hoping I would find an interesting CCG (which is what the Ultimate Team really is) on top of what has easily been the best football game on iOS...

'Sage's Sky' Review - How Far Can You Fling This Bird, Anyway?

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October 6th, 2015 2:57 PM EST by Brittney Broder in 2.5 stars, Review, Reviews
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Sage's Sky [Free] is a quaint and colorful stamina-driven, "launcher" platformer where you play as a small, gray bird called Sage. The goal is to navigate a linear, minimalist landscape in a quest to improve your stats and out-do your own high scores. The game features a variety of upgrades that allow Sage to fly longer, faster, higher, and more efficiently, which can be bought with coins collected in each run-through. The cost of upgrades is pretty steep, which is a major downfall in the game, but rewards can be supplemented by watching brief, in-games ads. The charming art style and hypnotic mechanics make Sage's Sky worth a try, if you have a bit of patience to spare...

I suppose they can't all be winners. Radiangames has been the king of dual-stick shooters on iOS, at least in terms of quantity. The solo developer has delivered a ton of knockout titles, with JoyJoy [$1.99] and Inferno 2 [$2.99] being the most recent, and most stellar examples of his work in the genre. This is all setup to say that Devastator [$1.99] had me really excited, but unfortunately left me quite disappointed...

'Star Wars: Uprising' Review - Clones are Canon

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September 21st, 2015 11:00 AM EST by Andrew Fretz in 2.5 stars, Free, Reviews
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This new Star Wars game is kinda cool. It basically a knock off of another popular game, but with a Star Wars theme, but it's interesting. No, I am not talking about Bird Shooter Star Wars, nor am I talking about Star Wars Card Battler, nor am I talking about Star Wars Tiny Tower, not even gonna mention Star Wars Clash of Clans or Star Wars Tower Defense. No my fellow iOS enthusiasts, I am referring to the latest Star Wars branded game, Star Wars: Uprising[Free]. ..

It's been almost five years since Aralon: Sword And Shadow released [$4.99]. In that five years, there have been regrettably few 3D RPGs released on iOS that can sit comfortably beside it. Angel Sword [$6.99] is the latest to tackle the genre, and although it has a strong enough start, it quickly burns off much of its goodwill. The end result is something that looks decent enough, but plays like something from the early days of the App Store. It's nowhere near Aralon in terms of complexity and enjoyment, instead feeling very much like a prettied-up Ravensword: The Fallen King [$2.99]. I'm not saying there isn't any fun to be had here, but it comes in fits and spurts between long sessions of incredibly tedious grinding...

I've said it many times before, but it's a great era for shoot 'em ups. The ease of development for the mobile platform has allowed for so many classics to arrive overseas, as well as a number of other excellent, original works. Coming off of the high of Operation Dracula I was pretty excited to give Lightning Duru [$0.99] a shot, but came away less than impressed...

It's often said that there's a fine line between inspiration and imitation. We see both in varying degrees in the hobby of gaming. The former is without question a good thing, but even the latter can be okay depending on how closely it hews to the source. There's one more category that expression doesn't cover, however, and it's something a bit closer to plagiarism. It's a practice that is unfortunately all too familiar to mobile gaming fans in particular, and it's almost universally frowned upon. In these situations, games are basically copied one-to-one, adding nothing to the medium and depriving the original creator of their rightful reward. It's legal, as far as I can tell, particularly if you're wise enough to swap out art assets, but at least as far as I'm concerned, it's not ethically okay nor is it contributing anything positive to gaming on the whole...

Recently, we've seen sim-factory Kairosoft make efforts to mix things up a bit in their releases. In some cases, they've broken away from their established templates, while in others, they've revisited a familiar framework but gone considerably deeper with the simulation elements. Fish Pond Park [$2.99] is yet another release that feels like it's outside of the norm for this little developer, though it's not quite as successful with its approach as other recent efforts. You're building and maintaining a business yet again, in this case a nature preserve of sorts, but the sim elements are lighter than they've been in quite some time. Instead of the usual case where the theme serves the simulation, in Fish Pond Park, all of your building and resource management is for the sake of some good old fishing...

The iOS gaming market has demonstrated a lot of interesting things over the years. One of those things is that even with a library containing literally hundreds of thousands of games, there can still be big holes in the lineup waiting to be filled. Even after a hole is plugged, there's no guarantee that it'll stay that way as games are removed from the App store. One of the biggest holes right now, in my opinion, is that of the Diablo-style action-RPG. I see people all over the place looking for a good one for their iOS device. Now, it used to be that you could just direct someone to Gameloft's Dungeon Hunter series and they would probably come away satisfied. The recent turn into free-to-play has turned the series into something that not everyone can get on board with, however, and the older paid installments have been gone for a while now. That leaves us with a gap, and its continued existence certainly isn't for a lack of trying. The latest attempt is The Barbarian [$8.99], which comes from a fairly small developer that appears to be stretching its legs for the first time. Unfortunately, it shows...

In the ever-present artistic struggle between playing it safe or trying something new at the risk of failure, most of the games that Kemco releases fall in the former camp. Sure, almost every game has something unique about it, but it's often buried in minutiae that even most genre fans don't pay much attention to. Their latest game, from developer Hit-Point, is the most unusual RPG they've published in quite some time. I'm an old hand at this genre, as regular readers know, and my initial reaction to Valkyria Soul [$3.99] was a disproportionate amount of excitement. The game looks like nothing Kemco has released on iOS before. The tone of the story is different from Hit-Point's usual breezy fare, and it even has a more competent translation than we typically see from that developer's works. The game doesn't even have the standard top-down dungeon exploration, playing out instead from a pure side-scrolling viewpoint...

If you think about it, WayForward Technologies is one of the original indie stars of handheld gaming. They first gained notice when some poor soul who was assigned to reviewing licensed claptrap on the Game Boy was playing some games based on Sabrina: The Animated Series and realized they were decidedly less bad than usual. A couple of years after that, they released their first game based on an original property, Shantae, which ended up being one of those games that sold far fewer copies on release than its eventual demand would call for. The game's charming presentation and ambition to actually make a decent Game Boy Color game won it plenty of fans. Combined with its relative rarity, its high quality gave it a near-legendary status and elevated its developer in the eyes of core handheld gamers...

In the early months of each year, I like to comb around for anything we might have missed in the rush leading up to the holidays. This extremely intensive effort typically involves heading to the TouchArcade forums and looking for big threads on games we haven't reviewed. Every time I've visited recently, one game keeps surfacing to slap me with its fins: Shark Eaters: Rise Of The Dolphins [$4.99]. While I had originally passed over the game due to its frankly aggravating controls, I saw it received an update that was supposed to address the problem, so I've given it another solid try. While I have to admit it's better than it was, it's still not doing much for me...

I hate when a game lets me down. Exiles [$4.99] had a cool premise, and was from a developer that has done big, expansive open-world games on iOS before. Yet, this just falls way short of what it promised to be. This is the latest open-world RPG from Crescent Moon, having you deal with a government conspiracy involving a deadly virus, and the eventual fight against a politician riding in a giant mech. The game is mission-driven, but there's a giant, expansive world that you can explore, though there's not a whole lot to actually find beyond what the missions have. At least you can ride in mechs and on sweet air bikes, and shoot the ironically-named Peacebots...

Genre saturation seems to come in waves on iOS, and Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs) appear to be the latest game type to get a bunch of high profile titles in a short period of time. The Witcher Battle Arena [Free] is the latest such title to grace the App Store, bringing the CD Projekt RED’s fantasy world to iOS in some small fashion. While Battle Arena does a decent job in providing a comprehensive MOBA experience, the gameplay itself just isn’t compelling enough at this point to be worth an investment...

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