Category Archives: 3.5 stars

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...

Snake is a timeless game. It was one of the first experiences I had on a portable device, and despite the fact that there was just one level (a giant square box), it provided endless hours of entertainment. It was a much simpler time, and that time is over. In the current era of gaming, it's expected that a snake game would have a load of bells and whistles, lest it fall short of providing something you haven't seen a million times in the past 20 years. The Jake and Finn skinned Treasure Fetch - Adventure Time [$2.99] differentiates itself somewhat, but falls into the same few trappings as the snake genre along the way...

I love tower defense games. I can totally understand the sentiment that as a genre, its a little played out though. Right Pedal Studios' newest title, Ninja Raft [$2.99], has an eye out to avoid some of the most common pitfalls many TD games make. With a focus on active gameplay and an adventurous setting, you aren't going to be left feeling like you are digging in waiting for things to happen. Your ninjas will need to be agile to keep their floating fortress safe from their ultimate nemesis...

Sometimes games have the hallmarks of greatness, but fail to stick the landing, and that's how I perceive Joinz [$1.99] to be. It mixes Tetris with Threes [$1.99], having players form tetrominos and other block shapes by sliding different-colored blocks around the board, with same color blocks sticking to each other. As more matches are made, powerup blocks come into play, and more colors get involved, making the game steadily more challenging. But it's the way that the game starts and then increases its difficulty, along with a qualm with randomness and the logic of blocks sticking together that keep it from really reaching its potential...

Developer Osao dropped Chronology: Time Changes Everything [Free] on the App Store last week. If the title didn't give it away, Chronology is a platform game that grants you, the player, the ability to manipulate time. Straddling the time periods directly before and after an apocalyptic event, it's up to you to discover the cause and ultimately try to prevent the disaster. Born from a sketch of a snail and a man with a fez, this game has a quirky sense of humor that should prove to have a pretty wide appeal...

I wanted to love Phantom Rift [$2.99]. I wanted to give it my unabashed affection. I am quite fond of the Mega Man Battle Network series because of, well, everything about it. Certainly, paying homage to Mega Man is something Phantom Rift isn't doing, but the series itself is paying homage to boasted a unique combat system that took the best aspects of card games and mixed it with fast-paced real-time combat. But where Phantom Rift falls apart is not respecting that speed. Not so much in the combat, but in the overworld that governs getting from fight to fight, and managing the character and deck: it's just too slow to get anywhere in this game, both figuratively and literally...

Occasionally, a video game has a brilliant new idea that it builds itself around. Sometimes it gets it right the first time, sometimes it's left to another game to capitalize on it. Most games, however, have to be content with coming at an existing idea, hoping to provide a new angle, presentation, or mix of other ideas to set itself apart. Such is the case with Partyrs [$1.99], a charming puzzle game with a premise that should ring pretty familiar to avid mobile puzzle game fans. It's a game about arranging guests in a room according to their desires in order to ensure maximum party satisfaction. In practice, it's very similar to the popular games Girls Like Robots [$2.99] and Joining Hands [$2.99], a puzzle type that stretches at least as far back as those old logic puzzles about ferrying sheep and wolves across the river with one boat...

Several months back, mobile gamers were treated to Alphadia Genesis [$0.99], the first kind-of-3D RPG from Kemco, courtesy of developer EXE Create. Since then, Kemco's released another half dozen or so games, but they were all using older 2D engines, even EXE Create's Fanatic Earth [$0.99]. Well, we've finally got our second game using the 3D battle engine in Illusion Of L'Phalcia [$3.99], and it just goes to show that if you're dedicated to churning out an RPG in a span of weeks, it doesn't matter if you're using 2D or 3D graphics, the results are still going to be mixed...

Duke Dashington [$0.99] is the kind of game that exists in a kind of quandary. It's a game built around brevity, and for mobile devices: it's a platformer where players must swipe to get the eponymous Duke to the exit in no more than 10 seconds. It's frequently challenging but failure never leaves the player washed too far ashore to not just go back and try again. It's a game built around maximizing its brevity, but because it's so small, it winds up limiting just how well it succeeds at what it sets out to do...

Reviewing a game like Dragon Quest [$2.99] is never easy. First of all, as many of you probably do, I have a very deep childhood connection to this game, which means it's a nostalgic trip for me every time I play it. Then there's the fact that this is a genre-defining game, and as a result, can't possibly be expected to be as refined as the games that followed in the path it carved out. Ultimately, this game is both a classic and a curio, a piece of history that feels like one, no matter how much Square Enix tries to pretty it up. Its age is in its fundamental structure. I think it holds up very well relative to other games from its era, but that's perhaps faint praise, given the state of console RPGs in 1986. A completely new player without any sort of fondness for the history of the series would be better off checking out Dragon Quest 4 [$14.99] first. That doesn't mean that the first Dragon Quest has nothing to offer, but it's probably not the best way to break the ice in 2014...

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