Category Archives: 3.5 stars

There's something about a first-person dungeon crawler that just pulls me in and tugs at my brain. They're a nice contrast from the more talkative RPGs, which often involve intricate stories with large casts of characters. A dungeon crawling RPG will generally have a handful of NPCs, if that. Most of the time, it's just you and a big dungeon that you have to conquer one small piece at a time. Filling out a map, watching the floor count go up, raising your party to the point that earlier challenges are trivial, and finding hidden secrets are about as straightforward as markers of progress get, but somehow it still works for me every time. Whether or not you get into Crescent Moon's latest publishing effort, The Deep Paths [$3.99], is going to depend on whether you share that particular quirk with me or not. It's not the sort of game that is going to convince anyone who isn't already predisposed, but those who like to live their gaming life one uniform-length step at a time should be satisfied...

I must have played billiards a hundred times as a kid before I truly understood what it was about. The mathematical calculations that go into each shot, the finesse and nuance involved, it blew past me while I was hitting a fun looking ball with a stick. Like a lot of sports the finer points were actually taught to me by way of video games, which highlighted the trajectory of the cue and where it would bank. It was an enlightening experience for sure, and one that I would apply to countless amounts of real life and digital games over the course of my lifetime.Incidence [$1.99] might look artsy, but at its heart it's basically a fancy version of pool or mini golf...




My big beef with Capcom, as a mobile fan, is that I never really know what level of effort to expect from them. I consider them responsible for some of the finest ports to iOS (Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies) and some of the worst (Mega Man Mobile, Mega Man X). Since the games they choose to port are selected from their excellent library of classics, it's hard not to get excited when they announce something new is coming. But somewhere in the back of my brain, I worry that we're going to end up with another unreasonably poor effort. Such was the case when Capcom recently announced that they would be bringing four of their arcade classics to the platform. Well, the first one is here, and I'm happy to say that we got the good Capcom this time. While it's not perfect, 1942 Mobile [$1.99] is a very good re-creation of Capcom's classic vertical shoot-em-up, with all that implies...

'Dungeon Rushers' Review - Rush and Attack

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March 6th, 2017 12:59 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $4.99, 3.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
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Dungeon Rushers [$4.99] makes a really strong first impression, and if I had only played the first hour or so of the game, I might have been inclined to give it more praise. Depending on how you want to look at it, it's either a simplified dungeon crawler or a more complex take on Dungelot [$0.99]. You start off with one character and slowly assemble a group of 10 adventurers, 5 of which can be in your party at any given time. Your team will make their way through grid-based dungeons, revealing one square at a time and dealing with whatever may appear. The battles take place on a separate screen and use a simplified turn-based RPG system. With a quick pace and a fair amount of strategic options, it's pretty fun at first. It's a longer game than you might expect, however, and by the end it's far more stick than carrot...

So a funny thing occurred a few weeks ago. Games came out both for one of my favorite anime of all time and what is unconditionally my least favorite, both from the same publisher. One Piece is a consistently wonder- and adventure-filled story full of excellent world building, irreverent silliness and absurdity, interesting fights, and genuine heart. The other anime is empty wish fulfillment for 14 year old boys and is basically the anime for young teen male equivalent of Twilight. Relevance to this review? None whatsoever. Such is my hatred. Anywhosers! This is One Piece: Thousand Storm [Free], and its freemium elements are mighty, but it’s a pretty good time for fans...

A couple of years ago, publisher 5pb released an English version of the cult Japanese indie horror game Corpse Party [$17.99] on the App Store. While it was plagued with some nasty bugs at launch, it was eventually updated to fix those major problems. The original version of the game, released on the Japanese PC-9801 platform in 1996, used RPG Maker to make a decidedly low-fi survival horror game. When the game's remake, BloodCovered, hit Windows and PSP more than 10 years later, the series finally went international. Its solid success overseas fueled a string of sequels for a variety of platforms, with the latest release being the PlayStation Vita game Corpse Party: Blood Drive [$31.99]. In an odd move, 5pb has opted to skip over all of the games following Corpse Party: BloodCovered to release an English version of Blood Drive on mobile...

One of the things I like about games and books is their unlimited possibilities; the stories we can create in both of those mediums are limited only by our imagination, especially when video games trade fancy visuals for text-based gameplay. Failbetter Games' Fallen London is one of my favorite games precisely for its imaginative and expansive world whose variety I find highly entertaining. Voyageur [$3.99], a piece of "interactive science fiction literature" as its developers call it, is inspired in many ways by Fallen London [Free], and that should come as no surprise since the game was produced in partnership with Failbetter Games. While in Fallen London you explore the streets and stories of an alternate Victorian-era London, in Voyageur you begin a one-way trip towards the center of the galaxy. Since this is a one-way trip, the game adds a roguelike layer to your typical interactive fiction experience, which attempts - thought not that successfully - to promote repeated playthroughs. Is the journey worth it, then? Read on and find out...

Casual, mobile-friendly golf with a striking visual style is what OK Golf [$2.99] promises. It also offers up a structure and holes that are familiar to golf, but do some things that feel just a bit off from normal golf. And the controls have some issues, too. It adds up to an experience that seems really interesting at first, but over time becomes a bit sour, before a few of its quirks start to grow. Regardless, it's a decidedly imperfect game...

Felis: Save all the Cats [$3.99] has been on our radar for a very long time. Even with the lengthy delay, I was certainly looking forward to its eventual release because, hey, it’s a platformer about saving cats. If you look simply at the story, thematics and gameplay, I’d almost say it was worth the wait, as well. Unfortunately, significant issues with the controls detract from what could have been a decent entry into the genre...

'Super Gridland' Review - A Set of Matching Swords

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January 25th, 2017 11:33 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $1.99, 3.5 stars, Arcade, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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Gridland is a really nifty browser-based puzzle game from Michael Townsend, the original creator of A Dark Room [$0.99]. It merges aspects of survival games, clickers, and match-3 puzzlers into one neat package that will likely absorb at least a couple of hours of your time before it feels like its hand is fully played. It's free, saves your progress, and it even works in mobile browsers. Super Gridland [$1.99] is the same game, albeit considerably gussied up in terms of presentation. It's just as fun as it ever was, even if it doesn't really make a strong case for itself as a separate app from the browser version...

In virtually every respect, Empire of Angels 4 [$9.99] is a completely average SRPG. The latest in the line of a twenty-year-old series from well-known Taiwanese publisher Softstar, it doesn't stray far from what you've likely seen in a lot of other games in this genre. You'll go from point to point on a map, advance the story, fight some turn-based battles using an ever-increasing group of units, level up your team, and move on to the next challenge. Units can come in a variety of job classes, which define what moves they have at their disposal. Battles are broken up by cut-scenes that move the story along, but the meat of the game is left to the combat...

The gravity gun from Half-Life 2 is a dramatically underutilized tool in games. What felt so cool and revolutionary in 2004 has since been stuck to just one game. Kind of like how there were rumblings that the portal gun would show up in a future Half-Life 2 episode, and other games with portals like Portal have popped up. Thanks to Island Delta [$2.99], it has reminded me of how clever an idea the gravity gun. But also, it serves as a reminder of how a tool that requires good physics also requires good design to be used effectively...

Nomads going on massive treks across the land with their tribes in tow. A lot of quality entertainment has been mined from that concept, most notably in recent gaming history with The Banner Saga [$9.99]. This time, Choice of Games is taking a crack at it with Saga of the North Wind [$4.99], a relatively lengthy adventure gamebook from writer Tom Knights. It's a good idea for a game like this, and the quality of the prose here is strong, but a few elements keep it from being all that it could have been. If you've got an interest in the topic matter, though, you'll probably find something to like here...

'Super Mario Run' Review - Mario and Luigi Are Doing What They Can

I feel pretty confident saying that Super Mario Run [Free] is the most hyped game release in the history of iOS. It has had the full marketing weight of two of the biggest giants in the industry behind it since its announcement, with Apple even going so far as to introduce a new notification system to allow players to pre-order it. That hype is there for good reason, of course. This is a historical moment for the video game industry. It's the first time a Mario game developed by Nintendo has released on non-Nintendo hardware since, I think, the original Mario Bros. back in the early 1980s. The legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto took a direct hand in the development of Super Mario Run, something he hasn't done for a Mario game since Super Mario Galaxy back in 2007. While the concept of Miitomo [Free] felt a bit underwhelming, Super Mario Run is Nintendo committing to mobile with unexpectedly fierce intensity...

There's a bit of lingo in Japanese gaming that doesn't have a great equivalent in English. The term is baka-ge (literally "stupid game"), and it refers to games that are intentionally ridiculous or absurd. Think of something like Goat Simulator [$4.99], and you'll be well on your way to understanding what a baka-ge is. The term doesn't make much of a judgment as to whether the game is bad or good, mind you, but the very presence of this kind of spirit is enough to draw a certain type of gamer. My Horse Prince [Free] is an amazing bit of baka-ge, a tapper that seems to find endless joy in warping its equine protagonist's body in nonsensical ways, sending up visual novel tropes, and making terrible dad-jokes. I suspect the majority of people who bring themselves to try it will find it too stupid to tolerate. For some of you out there, however, this might be one of the most memorable games of this year...

To be honest, I thought the day would never come when we would play Party Hard on mobile. The game had been announced for mobile a long time ago, but its PC release came and went with nary a mention of the mobile version. The game's publisher tinyBuild, is typically very open about what they're working on, so them being hesitant to show off what would become Party Hard Go [$6.99] was certainly odd. I wondered if the game even existed at some point. Like, I doubted that tinyBuild would be oddly skittish on this one's existence when they're so open with everything else, but it did seem odd. Well, after some work adapting the game and giving it a Go in the name, their murder simulator is finally here. And, well, it's a unique game, but one that has a lot of oddities to it...

If you had told me five years ago that slingshot RPGs were going to become a thing, I'd have been happy to hear of a future where Squids [$1.99] was so influential. Of course, Squids isn't what really kicked off this craze. No, the current wave of flick-and-flail casual RPGs that are cropping up can be laid at the feet of Monster Strike [Free]. It's only natural a hit of that magnitude would inspire similar games, but it's impressive just how sophisticated some of them are becoming. Gamevil's entry into the proverbial arena is Knight Slinger [Free], and it might just have the best production values of any game like this yet. In terms of gameplay mechanics, it doesn't mix things up too much, but there are some new things here that veterans of Monster Strike might like to play around with...

Look, I love my hardcore math battles as much as the next person, but sometimes it's nice to get something a little lighter. It can be hard to find an RPG that skates the line between simplicity and complexity well, but that's just the spot that Witch Spring 2 [$3.99] fits into. With an emphasis on crafting, exploration of a limited map, and simple turn-based battles, it's probably not going to be to everyone's tastes. It also leans rather heavily on a cute anime style that is obviously going to resonate with some and turn off others. And yet, there's a lot of heart to the effort, and its innocent enthusiasm can be a little infectious. It's certainly a nice break from the usual template we see in this genre, if nothing else...

It is exceedingly unlikely that Square Enix will ever make another Final Fantasy Tactics [$13.99 / $15.99 (HD)] game, at least in the traditional sense. I don't say that to be a wet blanket, it's just the way that it is. The series that seemingly introduced so many Western console players to strategy RPGs, a genre which has recently seen a serious boom in popularity worldwide, has apparently rode off into the night with its creator, Yasumi Matsuno. The weak reception to the third game in the series, Final Fantasy Tactics A2, probably didn't help matters, and without Matsuno at Square Enix to champion for it, the publisher looks to have lost interest in the brand. There were a couple of free-to-play browser games that didn't really go anywhere, but I suspect that's not the sort of thing that series fans are looking for anyway. What to do?..

Okay, we're at a point now where it's highly unlikely many mobile gamers are itching for another roguelite. It's proven to be a popular genre on mobile, which means everyone, their uncle, and their uncle's cat has released some kind of variation on the time-honored theme. 1-Bit Rogue [Free], from Kan Kikuchi and popular Japanese indie developer Skipmore, is the latest to give it the old college try, and while it's a pretty fun game, I'm not sure it has much to say to anyone looking for something to perk up the genre. It does all the things well that Skipmore usually excels at: the retro-style presentation feels authentic, there are fun unlockables, and it's an easy game to come to grips with. If nothing else, that makes it worth checking out for a game or three...

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