Category Archives: 3.5 stars

SEGA is a company that has made its mark in multiple arenas, but perhaps none so much as the arcades. They took a little longer to get going than some of their fellow members of the arcade royalty, but by the mid-1980s they were starting to hit a stride that wouldn't slow until arcades themselves did. They achieved that through a variety of means. Sometimes it was pure technological spectacle. At other times, it was through clever gameplay innovations. But SEGA also knew how to recognize a good thing and make their own spin on it, a skill shared by all of the very best arcade game makers. The 1989 release of Golden Axe [Free] was a fine example of that, combining a few popular trends into one slick, enjoyable gaming experience...

Kemco is continuing their series of experiments with a familiar face this time around. Before 2017, the publisher generally only cranked out a near-monthly procession of JRPGs. They weren't identical to one another, but they were certainly similar in a lot of ways. This year, they've slowed down their release schedule on mobile a little and partnered up with some new developers to try to freshen things up. What Hadjane Says Goes! [$4.99] comes from Hit-Point, one of their old standby development studios, but it's not like any of their previous games. Instead of being a turn-based adventure across a medieval fantasy world, it's an action-RPG set in the depths of the underworld itself...




'Nexomon' Review - Gotta Tame 'em All

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How did my passion for mobile gaming start? My first dose of "mobile" gaming came from Pokemon Blue on the Gameboy Color. I can't tell you how many hours I feverishly poured into that game. I would play it for as long as my little AA batteries would last me. I loved being able to bring it with me on car trips or wherever I went. It is definitely one of my most precious gaming memories from when I was a kid. Now that I am an adult, I find myself seeking that nostalgic feeling of being a kid again, especially through playing games similar to those that I experienced in the past. That is why I regularly scour the App Store for modern games that resemble the games of my childhood, as well as why I decided to download Nexomon [$2.99] by LIME TURTLE, INC...

Huijaus Games and publisher Appsolute Games have been promising us Mr. Future Ninja [$2.99], a stylish stealth-action game, and finally it is here. And there it goes. The premise seemed incredibly promising, but the problem is that the game is just too short. Characters and puzzle types get introduced, and then by the time you think they're done introducing things and ready to start really, really testing you, well, the game is over. It's a fun experience up until that point, but I just wish there was more of it...

Nostalgia can be dangerous. While some of the greatest projects in recent years have drawn from old design philosophies and reintroduced to a new era to some success, strict adherence to outdated concepts can be disastrous. You run the risk of not only limiting your audience to an older generation, but creating a work that's boring and unbending. Clockwork Pixels decided on a mixture of those dueling ideas with Citadel 1986 [$0.99], and mostly came out on top -- as long as you have a soft spot for platformers...

For serious mobile gamers, the need for a good headset is ever-increasing. There's the streaming community, of course, with various platforms for streaming mobile games out there. Games like Vainglory [Free] work better with the ability to chat with teammates. And if you get games of Modern Combat Versus going, you'll want to chat with folks on Discord while you do so. But the gaming headset market is such an interesting market because it's so ripe for disruption by companies that know how to make good headphones. Popular brands like Razer are far more about branding and style with their headphones than with sound quality. As well, older gamers or those with a more subdued sense of style might not like the loud designs that these use. So, competitors have a blue ocean of opportunity to compete in this market. We've seen the HyperX Cloud, which took a smart path by utilizing a solid OEM headphone and adapting it to have a microphone. And of course, intriguing options exist with external microphones such as the ModMic. Sennheiser is one of the oldest and most respected headphone companies around. They've been making great headphones for decades, and the Sennheiser HD600 family remains a top pick for audiophiles. My Sennheiser HD580, an older model in that family, has an impressive natural sound to it once you give it the proper amplification. But Sennheiser also has made some entries into the consumer range, with their Sennheiser Momentum headphones, and the Sennheiser HD598 family providing consumer-friendly, entry-level audiophile sound at a great entry price. Sennheiser is making bigger steps in the PC gaming headset category, and one of their latest entries is the PC 373D...

The idea of a team that needs to not only work together on a human level, but literally form a construct that's bigger than themselves is fascinating. The most obvious example is probably Voltron, but even something mechanical like Transformers'  Constructicons had to form Devastator. It's a seemingly timeless concept too as nearly all of these tropes have returned, from the new Voltron Netflix series to the Power Rangers film reboot. Quantum Revenge [$1.99] tries to tap into that wizardry in the form of a twin-stick shooter, but doesn't really hit all of the same notes...

Mobile has perhaps been lacking the great Spelunky-like game that could at least imitate one of the best indie games of all time while being something you can play on the toilet while at work. Orangepixel steps up to the plate with Meganoid 2017 [$2.99], the nebulously-named reboot/sequel to one of the solo developer's earliest works. Where the original Meganoid games, both Meganoid 1 [$1.99] and Meganoid 2 [$1.99], were more challenge platformers, Meganoid 2017 is a procedurally-generated platform that takes a lot of cues from Spelunky. Exploring the Meganoid spaceship, you have nothing but your platforming wits, some explosive charges, and whatever you find as you venture further into the spaceship, taking on a different layout when you die, and you will die a lot. Spelunky 2017 had a rather rapid development time, and while it gets the core gist of the Spelunky formula right, and does some rather cool things, the game suffers from its short development time, leading to a lack of variation in level designs. Also, the game just doesn't have the tight platformer feel necessary for what the demanding difficulty requires to give the player a good shot at succeeding...

Sometimes I see people share negative reviews of Steam games that have massive playtimes on them. They're shared in a context of this being ridiculous, that implies that the person with the negative review doesn't know quite what they want. And the people who share these seeming contradictions are often rather progressive people, sharing a rather ironically regressive view. It's a more complicated question than both parties realize. The negative reviewer perhaps should question whether the journey was worth it. But also, the critic should question just why they think it's hypocritical. Is it possible that people enjoy certain parts of experiences, but other parts become too grating over time? That, if they had the choice to take those hours back, they would have spent them differently knowing the end result? Or were the hours getting to that point worth it, even if the end was sour? This is a philosophical dilemma that deserves greater inquiry. I bring it up because I find myself quite conflicted with MLB Manager 2017 [$4.99]. It's another solid baseball simulator, but as a major baseball nerd, I find myself frustrated by so many of the little things that this game continues to not get right. Yet, I find myself more hooked on this game than perhaps any other that I come across...

'Kami 2' Review - 2 Kami 2 Furious

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March 31st, 2017 10:00 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
Free Buy Now

Say what you will about other aspects of gaming, but one area where mobile games can frequently go toe-to-toe with those on other platforms is in their style. Games like Monument Valley [$3.99], Sword and Sworcery [$3.99], and Prune [$3.99] are as much about taking the player on an audio-visual journey as they are about pushing their gameplay mechanics. 2013 puzzle game Kami [$2.99] might not be as famous as some of those games, but it's certainly done well enough for itself. It has made the jump to multiple platforms and now has a sequel to call its own. Unfortunately, Kami 2 [Free] runs into a lot of the same troubles that puzzle game sequels usually do, and with much of the novelty of its gimmick worn off, its fundamental issues shine through a little too brightly...

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
$3.99 Buy Now

Dungeon Rushers [$3.99] 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 [$0.99] 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
$1.99 Buy Now

Gridland is a really nifty browser-based puzzle game from Michael Townsend, the original creator of A Dark Room [$1.99]. 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...

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