Category Archives: 3.5 stars

When the Apple Watch released, a number of developers attempted to take advantage of the buzz by either updating old games with new features, or by releasing new games specifically designed with the Apple Watch in mind. One of the more success of the latter group was Lifeline [$0.99], an interactive fiction game that had you guiding a student named Taylor who had been stranded on a moon. As with most games in this genre, the game mostly consisted of reading text and making the occasional choice. The gimmick came from the way the game incorporated real time into the story. Taylor would often become busy after you made a choice, and you'd have no choice but to wait until Taylor notified you, via your watch or your device, that the story could continue. While the game itself was quite simple relative to other gamebooks, this element gave Lifeline the twist it needed to stand out from the pack...

Virtually every Japanese strategy RPG can be said to be inspired by Nintendo's Fire Emblem in some way or another. While strategy RPGs followed their own path in the West, they did so mostly on computer formats that either weren't available in Japan or were very niche. When Fire Emblem's developer Intelligent Systems got the idea to add some Dragon Quest-style elements to their Famicom Wars turn-based strategy formula, they ended up creating a sort of Dragon Quest of their own. Not nearly as popular, mind you, but certainly as influential for its sub-genre. Without Fire Emblem, games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Disgaea, and Shining Force likely wouldn't have existed, nor would the numerous strategy RPGs that they themselves spawned. That said, while a debt is clearly owed, the genre has widened and evolved considerably over the years, to the point that many strategy RPG games bear little resemblance to Fire Emblem...




'Cruise Control' Review - Nightcall

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May 23rd, 2016 1:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

Growing up in the 80s, I saw a ton of sci-fi films. Whether they were dramatic masterpieces or oozed cheese and camp I loved them all the same, and the numerous references in modern day media like Turbo Kid, Kung Fury, or Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon are palpable. Sometimes creators just go all out in their unabashed love for the era, and that passion shines through in Cruise Control [Free] -- albeit, in light of some unfortunate IAP peddling...

Having played hundreds of action adventure games over the years, the thirst is still very much intact. To many people out there there's only so many times you can adventure with Samus in space, or take an anthropomorphic rabbit on a quest to remember his past before you started to get winded of the concept. But every time I encounter a brand new 2D world, I feel like it's a brand new challenge to undertake -- a new excuse to get to know another universe. While the mechanics most definitely hold up, Soul of Sword [$0.99]'s world isn't necessarily worth uncovering...

Quirky media can often be a breath of fresh air. Whereas dramas and grimdark settings usually go over well with just about anyone, weird comedies like Arrested Development can break the mold and have us enjoy something we never even knew we wanted. But quirk alone isn't enough to carry every project. Sometimes, studios or developers can go overboard, and made a game so loud, so desperate for your attention that it falls on deaf ears. Despite some solid gameplay mechanics, Egz The Origin of the Universe [$3.99] suffers from some of these issues...

It's always a downer when a game you really like at its core is dragged down by external factors. Such is the case with Trap Da Gang [Free], the latest release from Japanese publisher Obokaid'em Games. The basic gameplay is challenging, fun, and wonderfully reminiscent of vintage arcade games from the mid-1980s. But being a free game, it also has an economy that you have to deal with, and while that's not always bad in principle, the extra cruft it brings to the game hurts it. It's still a fun game, but I couldn't help but wish there were some way to play it in a purer form...

What is our fascination with post-apocalyptic media? Maybe it's the fear of the unknown, in that things may actually be that dire one day, and a peek into the future is relatively harmless. Maybe it's because some of the greatest filmmakers of our time, including George Miller, flock to projects like that because they provide a blank canvas of expectations -- the world is theirs to create as they see fit. Chrome Death [Free] isn't necessarily that magnificent, but just like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon on PC and consoles, it really nails what makes that genre so special...

LEGO games on iOS are, by this point, nothing if not reliable. Apart from the earliest releases on the platform and the occasional experiment, the LEGO games based on licensed properties all essentially do the same things. They tell (or retell) a humorous story using a selection of stages from the console versions, offer up some mindless action gaming, and have a ton of unlockables. How much you enjoy them usually depends on how much you like the property involved, but all of the games kind of fall in that sticky zone that lay just between boring and interesting, and LEGO Jurassic World [$4.99] isn't any different. Except, you know, that this one has playable dinosaurs...

While there's a zombie game released every five seconds, there aren't nearly enough alien games out there. I mean sure, there's a handful of titles based on the actual Alien franchise with Xenomorphs running around causing havoc, but think of how many games are around with actual aliens, whether it be little green men or humanoid creatures from another planet. With a bold and obvious title, Crazy Alien Invaders [Free] seeks to rectify this unfortunate shortage...

Generally speaking, I'm not the sort of gamebook fan that replays books terribly often after finishing them. I'm usually okay with getting whatever story and ending comes from my choices, so long as it's an ending and not a "game over". With The Daring Mermaid Expedition [Free], however, I found myself going back a few times. It's a relatively short adventure, and it's almost impossible to satisfy your curiosity about the game's mysteries in a single play. The author takes a light approach to whole affair, and there's a playful feeling running through the whole story. I can't say it's one of my favorites from Choice Of Games, but if it catches you in the right mood, you'll probably enjoy it...

While many genres are forced to stick with conventions (action games typically have an ending, for example), puzzle games can basically do whatever they want. That's both a boon and a curse, as developers can often completely blow your mind or go so far out there that the concept doesn't quite land. Perfect Angle [$1.99] actually manages to encapsulate both of those concepts, oddly enough...

Sure, a while back I said I was done with idle clickers. But I'm done with them in the same way I'm done with match-3 games, for the most part: I'll play the occasional one because I still enjoy the core idea, but I've just played too many of them to want to keep diving back in on a regular basis. Doomsday Clicker [Free] from PikPok is my occasional exception to clickers, particularly as I enjoyed the concept, and the typical PikPok production values go a long way here. But it's still a clicker, and it can only really go so far at this point. Plus, it's one of this new generation of non-clicker clickers, and I'm not sure I enjoy that development...

The Swords [$2.99] is an interesting little experience because it's this mixture of gorgeous art and animation combined with gameplay that's fun but sometimes frustrating. The story that sets up The Swords is that a master of swords is telling a story about his grandmaster, an expert swordsman proficient in many different types of swords, and the very idea of them. Microgames wind up comprising the gmaeplay here, as you perform sorts of different actions through swipes and taps depending on the section of the game you're in, so that you can progress. You'll be swiping to deflect enemy swords, utilizing a spinning sword to deflect enemy blows, controlling the sway of a tree in the wind, and more. You kind of get to do anything and everything sword-related here...

Dungeon Raid [$0.99] was one of those games where, if it got its hooks into you, you probably weren't going to play anything else for a good long while. There wasn't a lot of mystery behind that, to be honest. The mechanics were familiar and simple to learn, but offered a lot of depth to the player looking for more. The RPG elements gave you a feeling of progression that isn't typically found in many other puzzle games. You could pick the game up whenever you had a few minutes and have a good time, or settle in for a longer session. I Keep Having This Dream [$1.99], the latest from Dungeon Raid developers Fireflame Games, is not the same kind of game. It's a little more opaque, a little more complex, and it comes off like it's aimed at a narrower target in general...

Over the course of a few months I've gone from not knowing who Nitrome was to being schooled in a master class by their games. I've played through their entire catalog at this point, and whenever a new offering is available, I'm ready and willing to snatch it and give it a shot. Ultimate Briefcase [Free] is merely published by Nitrome (the developer credit goes to Quite Fresh), and as an arcadey action game, it delivers on some level...

I think there's a pretty good game buried somewhere in The First Tactics [$0.99]. It's hard to be sure at times because there are so many bad choices with the presentation. If you can cut through the obvious vestiges of the game being designed as free-to-play, and somehow comprehend an extremely poor English localization that only makes things more confusing the more it tries to explain itself, you'll find a small-scale yet pleasingly complex turn-based strategy game. I'm just not sure if the good part of the game is worth dealing with the multiple barriers it's encased in, particularly in a genre that has so many strong examples on the platform that don't require you to jump through such hoops...

'The Quest: Cursed Stone' Review - On The Quest Again

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February 23rd, 2016 2:45 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 3.5 stars, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
$2.99 Buy Now

In a lot of ways, Redshift's The Quest [$4.99] is one of the best mobile RPGs. Its huge open world is a great place to lose hours in, but its quest-based structure makes it equally suitable for shorter play sessions. You can enjoy it as a straightforward hack 'n' zap, skipping around from dungeon to dungeon smashing the monsters that get in your way, or you can dig in deeper, building crafting and alchemy skills, collecting flowers for recipes, reading books, and so on. Still, most games like this have an end, and when you run out of things to do, that's usually that. In the case of The Quest, however, a massive amount of content has been added through expansion packs, most of which have been handled by third-party developer Zarista Games. Their latest effort is Cursed Stone [$2.99], an adventure that sees you trying to save a small fishing town by restoring the magical stone that brings them luck...

Card games have existed long before Hearthstone came around, and will exist long after it is shut down, however many years away we are from that point. But there's no denying that some titles lift a little too generously from Blizzard's recent cash cow, almost to the point of creating a new "Hearth" subgenre. That's basically what Kung Fu Panda: Battle of Destiny [Free] does, but with more...erm...pandas. Wait Hearthstone already has pandas! Well this has...Mr. Ping and a few lines from Jack Black...

As I've said before, there's nothing wrong with chilling out with a mindless arcade game. I grew up playing flashy shooters and beat 'em ups just as often as deep RPGs and point and click adventure games, and both philosophies scratch certain itches on any given day. The former mindset is most evident in Call of Commander [$0.99], which has some RPG elements, but mostly caters towards the part of your brain that likes to shut itself off...

'Mountain Biker' Review - Pay To Schwinn?

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February 4th, 2016 10:30 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Sports, Universal
$1.99 Buy Now

Tiny Wings [$0.99] is an amazing game. Not a terribly controversial statement, but I’ve always found it kind of surprising that more games didn’t take the idea and run with it. Sure, there are lots of games on the App Store that use a similar mechanic (my favorite, by far, is Kumobius’s Time Surfer [$0.99]), but it’s not nearly as many as I’d expect. I mean, think about how many Threes [$2.99], Flappy Bird, and Clash of Clans [Free] clones there are compared to Tiny Wings. Of course, every now and then a TW-like game will still randomly appear, and the latest I’ve seen is Mountain Biker [$1.99] by Escape Velocity...

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