Category Archives: 3.5 stars

'Down the Mountain' Review - Crossy*bert?

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Just make Crossy Road [Free]. It’s easy! All you need to do is take a classic video game from the 80’s, give it a cheerful, vaguely Minecraft-ian art style, load it with cute characters to collect, and park your car in the garage so the driveway is clear for all the dump trucks full of money. Of course, in reality things aren’t quite that easy. I mean, I don’t think anyone is entirely sure why Crossy Road was such a huge success considering the sheer volume of other fun little time wasters there are on the App Store. Why Flappy Bird, for that matter? Why Temple Run [Free]? Why Doodle Jump [$0.99]?..

As a critic, you almost always inevitably face a response to your criticisms somewhere in the neighborhood of ‘Well let’s see you do better!’ As if one must first master an art rather than be a knowledgeable and experienced consumer of it to have valid criticism. You especially see these comments thrown at highly negative critics, probably along with a Molotov cocktail and a screaming honey badger. It’s pretty rare for those critics to reply simply with ‘OK, why not!?’ as Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw has done with his first ever mobile game, Hatfall [$1.99]...




There really aren't enough expansive RPGs or dungeon crawlers on the mobile platform. It's a pretty hard pair of genres to translate, but the ones that do shine on mobile are perfect for quick "pick up and play" sessions. That's basically where Exsilium [Free] stands, and although it doesn't do a whole lot more than your average top-down action game, it's a free affair that is easy to get into...

'Puzzle Sweeper' Review - I'm Only Sweeping

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July 20th, 2015 1:30 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $1.99, 3.5 stars, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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There are a number of ancient iOS games I’d just about kill to have updated to make them compatible with current iPhones and iPads. Chief among them is a criminally underrated minesweeper clone called Mines In Space [$1.99]. It’s so old that the Touch Arcade “review” was written by Arn himself, way back in 2008. It was incredibly fun, looked great (for the time), and had several different modes that were absolutely brilliant twists on Minesweeper. It was also, unfortunately, completely broken by the time I upgraded to an iPhone 5...

Heroki [$7.99] is a game I desperately wanted to love. It hits a lot of my buttons: it's a stunningly gorgeous game. It's a platformer-type game that's centered around premium experience, and charging a fair price. It is a game I desperately want to do well. I want other big publishers to see that charging reasonable prices for well-made premium experiences is a viable business strategy for mobile games. I want there to be an audience for this. Plus, it's just so well-made, and its protagonist is adorable in the way an older Sega character might be. It does a lot right, and I am invested in this game's success. The problem is that the game is just kind of blah. It isn't bad. It just isn't very memorable. ..

It's tough to really tell what's interesting these days on the App Store, but something the other day caught my eye with Downhill Riders [Free]'s app icon -- a kid in a shopping cart going downhill, bringing back fond memories of watching Jackass with friends. It's not quite everything I had hoped for, but most runner enthusiasts will want to give it a shot...

Shooting Stars [$0.99] is the kind of game that hits very high heights: it has an enjoyable premise, lots of bullet-dodging shoot 'em up action, roguelike elements, plenty of flashiness, and laser cats. It should be amazing. But as you play, those elements show themselves to have flaws: a game with very shallow humor, a flawed daily run mode, and imbalanced weapons. Shooting Stars is fun, but it's remarkably flawed, too...

Start singing "nahnah-nahnah-nahnah", and people will immediately think, if not yell out, "Batman!" Utter the words "and here... we... go", and the image of Heath Ledger's excellent portrayal of the Joker clearly comes to mind. Similarly, if I tell you there's a new LEGO Batman game, your imagination can likely fill in most of the blanks. The only surprises here are narrative ones, and they're not really that surprising if you understand the usual LEGO game wavelength. LEGO Batman: Beyond Gotham [$4.99] is a fun game in the way most of the LEGO games on iOS are, but the series has pretty much exhausted all of its tricks by this point. If you're okay with that, you'll certainly get your money's worth out of the new levels, characters, suits, and jokes...

Given the economics of the mobile market, it's hardly surprising that we're seeing developers try to figure out how to make a workable free-to-play model out of every traditional genre. Some have taken to it well. Puzzle games, racing games, and building/simulation games in particular have made fairly smooth transitions. RPGs, on the other hand, have seen a lot of experimentation. After some misguided steps like Tales Of Phantasia and Final Fantasy: All The Bravest [Free], it seems like the model set forth by Puzzle & Dragons [Free] has settled in as the default template. That might be good for developers, but as a player, it's kind of bittersweet. I've enjoyed a lot of games built in that vein, but few of them hit what I really enjoy about RPGs. Unfortunately, the discovery of a successful model means most have given up experimenting with anything else. We still see the odd attempt at something different, though, and Beast Bound [Free] is one such example...

The Quadsphere's latest game, Icarus-X: Tides of Fire [$2.99] comes out firing with a great idea: combine a bullet-hell shoot 'em up with the loot systems seen in modern RPGs. You play levels, and can get new weapons and shields to do more damage and deal with enemy threats more effectively. You can also level up, applying points to a skill tree. It's an idea that really works for the game, and is a cool fusion of two notable genres into one package. The problem is that the game tries to stretch a limited amount of content into a full game, and it grows tiring quite quickly...

I start this review of Til Morning's Light [$6.99] off with a treatise on WayForward Technologies, the developer of Til Morning's Light. They are, to me, a solid B-grade developer. They make games that are usually good to decent; I don't know if they have any truly great ones on their resume. I'd say their best game is probably the original Shantae, which I actually own the original cartridge of. Regardless, they're a developer that you should generally get reasonably excited for when they get to work on a licensed project, because it means that it's probably not going to suck. Well, Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW was not good, but I think that might have just been them going outside of their comfort range, not knowing what makes a dungeon crawler great, or maybe that game needed more than a year of development. But hey, at least the two Zelda-aping Adventure Time games they did weren't bad! And Double Dragon Neon is a solid beat 'em up. ..

One of the finest publishers, curators even, of mobile games has always been [adult swim]. Every game they bring to mobile through their partnerships is either funny, creative, or at least different or interesting in some way. Try Harder[Free] from Glitchnap falls violently and repeatedly in the latter camp. It’s an endless runner, which isn’t exactly a rarity on the App Store, but it’s almost an experimental game. While it isn’t amazing and it isn’t for everyone, it’s definitely interesting, and worth playing for the unique experience. If you enjoy difficult games, this might be your jam...

Terminal Velocity [$2.99] is one of those games I vaguely remember playing from my childhood. It's something my uncle may have brought over once, and ended up leaving in my PC, allowing me to play it for an extended period of time. But even after all that gametime, it sort of went in and out of my memory banks, and after playing it recently on a mobile device, I can see why...

There are plenty of things I appreciate about Cartoon Survivor [Free], a new isometric platformer from Australia-based Spunge Games. Most immediately, it has a strong and cohesive visual design, full of bright colors and cute animations. The level designs are clever and packed with secrets to find, some of which may require you to come back with gear you'll earn later in order to get the best time. There are unlockables both of the cosmetic and practical type, giving you something tangible to shoot for as you play through. It also gives you enough levels for free to get a feel for the game before it asks you to pay to unlock the rest, and in an unusual turn, allows you grind up in-game currency and pay that way. You're probably waiting for the other shoe to drop right about now, and it will. But don't worry, it's only a little shoe. A booty, at best...

When I got my very first iOS device, there were a few genres in particular I had hoped and imagined would be well-represented on the App Store. I've talked before about my early search for a good Picross-style game, but the other kind of game I was looking for was a first-person, turn-based dungeon crawler, along the lines of Wizardry, The Bard's Tale [$2.99], or Etrian Odyssey. I felt that would be a pretty good kind of game to play on a smartphone, and surmised that there ought to have been plenty by the time I made my late entry. The problem is, even with the recent renewed interest in the sub-genre, it's actually pretty niche, and even the genre descriptor causes confusion thanks to the conflation with Diablo-style dungeon crawlers. I asked many people at the time, but nobody seemed to be able to point me towards anything that satisfied what I was looking for...

'8-Bit Waterslide' Review - Why the Long Face?

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June 15th, 2015 3:30 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $1.99, 3.5 stars, Games, Reviews, Runner, Universal
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I often find myself wondering if humanity is heading for a future like the one portrayed in Mike Judge's Idiocracy. The gist of the film, for those who haven't sent it, is that smart people don't "breed" as often as stupid people, which will therefore create a future society populated entirely by idiots. Everything from the food they eat to the shows they watch on TV are as unsophisticated as possible, and--even though the film is a comedy--I must admit it sends a small chill down my spine whenever I see something particularly low brow take off in our current popular culture. Could this be the beginning of the end? I think to myself...

'Dead Eyes' Review - 28 Apps Later

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June 3rd, 2015 2:30 PM EDT by Chris Carter in $2.99, 3.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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How many zombie games can you take in a lifetime? A thousand? A million? Some people can't even take just a few. These days, you don't really have a choice. Thankfully, Dead Eyes [$2.99] is a decent game by any standard, whether you're fed up with the shambling dead or can't get enough of their lifelessness...

This game almost completely slipped under my radar. It released last week to virtually no hype or buzz at all. I downloaded it along with a bunch of other weekly releases and nearly forgot about it entirely. Man am I glad that I decided to boot it up while cleaning my phone's storage instead of deleting it outright. Dynamix[Free] from C4Cat is one of the most interesting and unique, if ultimately flawed, music games in recent memory...

'Bad Dinos' Review - Yabba Dabba Defense

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May 26th, 2015 12:30 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 3.5 stars, Games, Reviews, Tower Defense, Universal
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I, Nathan Reinauer, have a problem. Buried somewhere deep in my soul, I think I may have known it all along. I’ve tried to blame others, but I’m starting to believe it is, in fact, my fault. Yes, it’s time I face the music and finally admit it to the world: I’m bad at tower defense games...

Imagine you’re in a room by yourself. Every so often someone comes by and slips a piece of paper under the door with Chinese characters on it. You don’t know Chinese yourself, but you do have a book that can help. You simply look up the characters in the book and it’ll tell you what should be said back based on the rules of Chinese language and conversation. You don’t actually understand any of what you’re writing, but the person on the other side of the door is convinced they’re conversing with someone who is fluent. This is John Searle's "Chinese Room" thought experiment, and I was reminded of that while playing Sleep Furiously [$2.99] by Playmation Studios...

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