Category Archives: 3.5 stars

Coming into iOS gaming from a background in consoles, dedicated handhelds, and old computers, my first steps into the already-massive catalog were cautious ones. I stuck to familiar brands and the odd breakthrough that had made waves in the traditional media, such as Game Dev Story [$4.99]. One of the first real iOS originals that I fell absolutely in love with was League Of Evil [$1.99], from Ravenous Games. The game will always hold a special place in my heart for hammering it into me that, yes, virtual controls could work marvelously for an action game if they're handled correctly. These guys had their stuff together, I decided, and I began to follow them closely, anxiously awaiting their next big title. By all accounts, that game looked to be Random Heroes [Free], and I bought it pretty much the second it became available...

Being the ever-watchful observer that I am, I've noticed a trend in paid puzzle games of late. Perhaps battling against the effervescent, candy-coated, pastel shine of King's free-to-play offerings, puzzlers from the little guys are turning to the dark side. First, it was Darkin [$0.99], and now, Muertitos [$0.99]. Two games make a trend, right? I'm going to go ahead and call that science. While Darkin gave Dungeon Raid [$1.99] a spin with creatures of the night, Muertitos does something both familiar and unusual with its setup. That little bit of innovation combined with its very stylish presentation is enough to help it rise above the dense crowd, though just barely...

Space Age [$3.99] was a game that intrigued me from the moment I heard of it. The Incident [$0.99] is still a great game (though currently broken on iOS 8!), and last year's Blackbar [$3.99] from Big Bucket's Neven Mrgan was a unique story-driven game that I loved. So them making a new game was well overdue, and I was onboard with the idea of a retro-futuristic adventure game. The game is stated as being inspired by point-and-click adventure games from the 1990s, and certainly that comes through. And Space Age is wonderful when it tries to create a world, populated with interesting characters, that I want to explore and see more of. But sometimes Space Age tries to be an action game, and the experience suffers, because it's just not built to be that...

I feel like the last few games I've reviewed have skirted the line between being a game in the functional definition and being just an interactive experience. Cosmic DJ [$1.99] by GL33k and Devolver Digital is perhaps is more accurately described as a gamified music synthesizer than an actual game per se, it passes the sniff test just enough that it's worth talking about here. Actual musicians might find the basicness of composition rather lacking, and people who enjoy playing games to completion might find the lack of resistance toward achieving their goals dissatisfying. But non-musicians who want a clever way to compose music with only minimal musical knowledge, or want to enjoy the goofy-yet-earnest story here, will want to check this out...

'Micro Battles' Review - Share the Wealth

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November 13th, 2014 11:00 AM EST by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Action, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Prices, Reviews, Universal
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The advent of touch technology has created a vast number of innovations that weren't really evident upon release.  While many are quick to damn virtual controllers and the like, one of my favorite things about mobile platforms is the sheer lack of physical controls. For certain games that need precision it can be a pain, but for titles that are custom-created for touch controls it's a dream to just pick up and play something. One avenue that I don't think gets enough love is the multiplayer on one device market. There are a decent amount of board games and asynchronous titles out there that support multiple people, but Micro Battles [Free] does a decent job of adding some arcade action into the mix...

Battle Worlds: Kronos [$14.99 (HD) / Free (HD)] is the iOS debut release for developer KING Art. As a big departure from their previous work, it's surprising how ambitious this game is. The game is a turn based hex grid futuristic war game that focuses primarily on tactical maneuvers, focused fire, and ammo/armor management. With 2 very large campaigns and online play there is a boat load of replay value in this title...

Okay, so if you've been around the block a few times in the mobile or flash game scenes, you've almost certainly come across a time management game before. Going back as far as Activision's Pressure Cooker, this puzzle sub-genre typically requires you to match pieces of things just right while under a time limit. It's enjoyed a bit of a comeback in recent years thanks to games like Diner Dash [Free] and Cook, Serve, Delicious! [$4.99 (HD)], and you can find dozens if not hundreds of games in the genre on the App Store, covering a wide variety of jobs or tasks. The difficult thing, then, for a new time management game is to differentiate itself from the enormous pack. Twisty Hollow [$2.99] opts for a more abstract view of the action, and from there it finds a few tricks to call its own...

Let's be frank, video games based on team sports aren't known for revolutions between updates. That reputation was mostly earned by them being among the first types of games to adopt a yearly release schedule. As it turns out, games take a lot of work to make, and if you're committed to meeting a particular date every year, there's only so much you can risk upheaving. Given this long-held tradition in the genre, I almost instinctively wasn't surprised to find that NHL 2K [$7.99] is, shall we say, a modest step forward from the last hockey game 2K released on iOS. Shaking away that initial gut reaction, I then remember that this isn't a yearly update, and it has in fact been over four years since NHL 2K11, and in that context, it's almost embarrassing how little has been done here. If you're looking for a decent hockey game and you don't have NHL 2K11, it's easy enough to recommend NHL 2K. It's competent, and there's honestly little competition even across the entire handheld spectrum. If you do have 2K11, the question of whether it's worth it gets a bit trickier...

'Skater' Review - Two Shoes and a Board

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October 24th, 2014 4:00 PM EST by Chris Carter in $4.99, 3.5 stars, Game Center, Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation, Sports
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Skating games were my life for months at a time. Whether it was the next Tony Hawk iteration or EA's SKATE, every time a shiny new skating title would hit my doorstep, I'd be engrossed in that world for weeks on end. I wasn't the best skater in the real world, but digitally I was a pro, ready to ride with the best of them. That feeling has been missing for quite a while now after both franchises have been put on hold, but Skater [$4.99] for iOS recreates some of that magic on the go...

'Rival Stars Basketball' Review - Draft N’ Grind

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October 24th, 2014 2:00 PM EST by Eric Ford in 3.5 stars, Card, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Sports, Universal
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PikPok’s no stranger to making fun games (see the recently released Adventure Xpress [Free]) and with its latest release, the developer has decided to take on the card battler genre. Rival Stars Basketball [Free] takes a simplified card battle formula and infuses it with street basketball style. Rival Stars doesn’t have any significant missteps, but it’s just a bit too shallow in its current state to be anything more than a quick play...

I found myself kind of curious about Wavefront [$2.99] when I saw that it was published by DeNA – and it wasn't a free-to-play game. It started out as Waveform on PC, and now has been brought to iOS under the new name, for unknown reasons. Curious. But it still doesn't answer why this was published by DeNA, as this game is paid without IAP at all, which is even odder given that it's, well, DeNA. Did I wake up in bizarro universe? Perhaps not, but Wavefront is an interesting enough puzzler worth checking out...

When I'm reviewing games, the hardest to evaluate tend to be the ones that hit their core gameplay well but provide a small amount of content. Usually, they promise more to come in updates, and Tail Drift [$1.99] is no different in that regard, but most people who have been gaming on mobiles for a while know that promise isn't always one a developer can keep, so you can't count on that. At the moment, Tail Drift is a sweet piece of cotton candy. You pop it in your mouth, get a momentary hit of pleasure, and before you know it, it has dissolved. I think at the price it goes for, that's not really a raw deal, but there are so many games on the App Store that will offer you bigger bang for your buck, especially in the highly-competitive racing genre...

To a great degree, I applaud Electronic Super Joy: Groove City [$4.99] for managing to bring a challenging trial platformer from PC to iOS without much compromise. It's a game that will test players, but thanks to its simple control scheme, it winds up being a great fit on iOS. It's perhaps more built for replayability than completion, as the dozen-or-so levels are far more rewarding to those trying to complete them quickly and with as much collectibles as possible, but there's still a lot to like for those who like to be tested...

Personally, I'm always satisfied when I see a horror game make good on the sales charts these days. After hearing certain big companies insist that gamers weren't interested in scary games anymore, watching something like Five Nights At Freddy's [$2.99] go big makes me feel good because it affirms that, hey, there are lots of different kinds of people with lots of different kinds of tastes buying and playing games. I wish I liked it more, but those are the breaks, sometimes. ..

Cookie Clicker was one of my favorite games of 2013. Your objective was simple -- make more cookies. At first, you needed to click the screen occasionally to get more cookies. Eventually, you start accumulating them on your own and you don't really even need to click. Slowly but surely it evolves into a giant meta-game of cookie management and borders on a full-on simulation. It's the simplicity that makes it worth playing. Why am I mentioning all of this? Because Poor Gladiator [Free] for iOS has a similar scheme, and is a great way to relax on the go...

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