Category Archives: 2.5 stars

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 [$2.99]. 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...

Viking's Journey: The Road to Valhalla [Free], formerly titled Lost Viking, exists in an odd place in that the game is physically fun to play, but the actual game itself winds up being a struggle. It's a puzzle-RPG from the creators of Dungelot [$1.99], with a remarkably slow upgrade system, gameplay that feels like it's stacking the deck against the player in most every way possible to the point that it delivers far less fun than it should...

Back in September, we reported on the soft launch of Star Wars: Galactic Defense [Free]. Developed by the folks at DeNA, Galactic Defense is a freemium tower defense title complete with classic Star Wars heroes and locales to visit. While there’s a certain amount of fan service that makes Galactic Defense appealing on some level, the game’s actual execution leaves a lot to be desired...

I don't get that many chances to express my affection for pinball around here, mostly because the two main pinball developers tend to publish their new work as IAPs rather than stand-alone apps, and we don't typically review that kind of thing around here. Let it be known, however, that I love pinball to its core. I love it like Joanie loves Chachi. I used to have an off-brand pinball machine in my basement back home in Canada, and whenever I went to arcades as a kid, I was instantly drawn to the noisy clicks, bells, and synthesized music emitting from whichever licensed machine they had that month. Although it took me a while, I've also developed a taste for video pinball, though like most fans, that's out of compromise more than anything else, since finding an actual pinball machine in this day and age is hard enough in the USA, let alone Japan. It goes without saying that I am both a big fan of Pinball Arcade [$0.99] developer Farsight Studios, and a harsh critic. I regret that today, I am going to be more the latter...

'NBA 2K15' Review - Technical Foul

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October 22nd, 2014 3:03 PM EDT by Eric Ford in $7.99, 2.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Sports, Universal
$7.99 Buy Now

2K has been experimenting with sports games on the iOS for a while, with NBA 2K15 [$7.99] being its latest attempt to bring its 2K Sports brand to the platform. In some regards, 2K15 does a great job of bringing that experience to iOS, with a full featured Career Mode, great graphics, and a look and feel that excels beyond most of the iOS competition. Unfortunately, some significant technical issues remove a good deal of the enjoyment that should be had with the game...

Do you love Sony's Fat Princess, the downloadable title on PlayStation 3? If so, you are not the target of Sony's latest mobile release, Fat Princess: Piece of Cake [Free]. Rather, this game, like many of Sony's mobile efforts thus far, seems to be more of a promotional tool to pull in people unfamiliar with the franchise. Not only does the gameplay have very little in common with the unique gameplay of the main title, but one of the interesting hooks of this app is the ability to win a code for a free copy of the original Fat Princess for PS3. It's sort of fascinating watching Sony figuring out how they want to incorporate mobile into their overall gaming strategy. I can't say it's yielding the fruits some would hope for, but I at least applaud them for giving it a try, and at the very least, you can't say that they aren't paying attention to what sells in the mobile market...

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 [$0.99 (HD)] is really only for really patient people who can really tolerate their sports as turn-based dice-rolling affairs...

Super Heavy Sword [Free] 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 [$3.99]. 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...

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