Category Archives: 2.5 stars

As a premise for a ChoiceScript game, the one Demon Mark [$5.99] uses is a promising one. Set in a world of Slavic mythology, the story sees your young sibling kidnapped by a dangerous demon. Named the Uhin, she brands your characters with a curse called the Demon Mark and challenges you to come and rescue your family member. With a sword at your side and provisions in your bag, you set out on a road trip-style adventure through a veritable who's who of Slavic folk tales. Although we've started to see more games taking advantage of this rich source of lore, it remains a relatively untapped setting that offers high potential. Demon Mark is at its best when it drops you in the thick of these fables, and the author's passion and knowledge certainly shines through. Unfortunately, it ends up dropping the ball on some of the more fundamental elements of a choice-based game...

'Ms. Spell' Review - Ms. Fire

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There are a ton of roguelikes, roguelites, and roguelike variants on iOS. Collectively, the genre is nearly as prolific on mobile as puzzle games and Kemco RPGs are. While there's always going to be an audience of some size craving more coal for the fire, going beyond that audience takes some clever, out-of-the-box thinking. To an extent, MicRogue [$1.99] had that. Developed by Jason Pickering and published by Crescent Moon, MicRogue offered up a heavily streamlined roguelite experience blended with an interesting chess-inspired twist. Its strong focus on positioning and predicting enemy moves helped it stand out a little bit. Pickering's latest roguelike-inspired game is Ms. Spell [$1.99], and it's unfortunately not quite as interesting...




I'll give this to Capcom, they sure picked an unusual bunch for their latest mobile initiative. Given the original game's importance in Capcom's history, 1942 Mobile [$1.99] made a certain amount of sense. It was their first big hit, and shooters tend to play well with the mobile audience. Ghosts 'n Goblins [$1.99] is certainly a significant game but it wouldn't be my first choice to adapt to touch controls. Capcom disagreed enough that the next game in the series is Ghouls 'n Ghosts Mobile. The meat in that Arthur sandwich, however, might be the oddest choice of the lot. Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando Mobile [$1.99] is a technically-sound port of the game once known outside of Japan simply as Commando. It was a decent hit in its time, and it's certainly an influential game, but it manages to suffer from the negative points of both prior Capcom Mobile ports...

I'm still not fully sure what to make of Strange Telephone [$3.99], a surreal adventure game from Japanese indie developer Yuta Yamamoto. I had a chance to speak to the developer several months ago, and he told me that he was inspired by the now-classic Japanese indie game Yume Nikki. Even if he hadn't directly said so, though, the connections are obvious. This is an odd adventure game about a young girl exploring what appears to be a bizarre dimension where nothing really makes much sense. Boiled down to its essence, this is a point and click adventure that throws in both a random component and a limited amount of moves to solve everything. The presentation makes it more than that, but only just...

It took a while, but it feels like the changes in the iOS market over the last few years are finally catching up to Kemco. Releases are more sporadic and increasingly reliant on one obviously overworked developer. Their games are now released in free and premium versions, both of which are typically packed with extra monetization techniques. If that's not bad enough, it feels like monetization techniques are almost the only aspects that these games are changing or improving. I wish I could say Fairy Elements [Free / $4.99] bucks that trend, but that would be fibbing. At its best, this is no better than the average EXE-Create game published by Kemco. At its worst, it feels cheap and hungry. The most notable thing about it is its soundtrack, where Kemco has made the bold move of pulling in someone with some name value...

Every since we first heard that a game based in the Lords of the Fallen universe would eventually hit iOS, we were curious as to how the Dark Souls-style gameplay would translate onto the mobile platform. When we finally learned that it would be, in essence, an Infinity Blade clone, we were met with even more questions. Would it offer anything to the genre? Can it successfully be a successor to the aging Infinity Blade series? Unfortunately, the answer to both those questions is a definitive ‘No.’ Lords of the Fallen [$9.99] is simply a sub-par clone in a genre that requires perfect execution to be worth playing...

'RPS Saga' Review - Rock, Paper, Snoozer

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February 14th, 2017 10:30 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $0.99, 2.5 stars, Arcade, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
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Rock, Paper, Scissors is probably as simple as a game can get while still having some sort of strategy to it. Indeed, its core mechanic works so well that we can see it incorporated into countless other games in the form of elemental strengths and weaknesses, weapon triangles, and so on. It's a simple and useful means of balancing weapons, skills, and magic. You need to use what is most effective against your current enemy while ensuring that you're well-guarded against whatever the enemy throws back at you. The strategy comes from making sure you have your bases covered, enough resources to make use of them, and figuring out how each enemy works. That's great, but it's also not really what Rock, Paper, Scissors is about as a game...

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 EDT by Brittney Broder in 2.5 stars, 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 EDT 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 [Free] 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...

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