Category Archives: 3.5 stars

Controls define how a player will interface with the experience that a game is trying to provide. If the controls are subpar, the experience will suffer. But sometimes, offering just different control mechanisms can change the experience in and of themselves, despite each being effective in different ways. PixWing [$3.99] is one of those games, offering both a gyroscopic control scheme to fly around, but also a virtual joystick scheme. At first, the game made you at least play through the tutorial with the gyroscope, since the game is centered around moving your body to navigate the wolrd, offering the virtual joystick as an alternative. This reinforced the intended way to play the game, but it came with a drawback: if you tried playing the game in public for the first time, you were liable to look like a lunatic...

The first couple years of MFi game controllers has lead to some uninspiring results. A controller I'd rate 4/5 in the MadCatz C.T.R.L.i has been by far the best, and is probably still the best, if only because it is a jack of all trades with no serious glaring faults or omissions. Yeah, that's how low the bar is. But for those who need just a controller for a specific circumstance, in comes the Gamevice. Born from the Wikipad, a 7" Android tablet that came with an attachable gamepad component, this is essentially the same idea but for iOS devices. While iPhone and iPad Air models are on their way later this year, the iPad Mini model is the first one up. While this is a pricey proposition at $99.99, and really only usable if you have an iPad Mini right now, it's a great controller if it is right for you. ..




It feels like the design document of Zombie Match Defense [$1.99] involved putting a bunch of popular App Store things in a bag and shaking liberally. I can't lie, it's not a very appealing prospect, mostly because I've seen so many games go very wrong with this kind of approach. Happily, this game fares better than most that make the effort, mostly due to not trying to combine too many disparate elements. Essentially, it's got the whole zombie-themed lane-based defense gameplay as seen in Plants Vs. Zombies [$0.99], mixed in with a turn-based match-3 puzzle game as seen in roughly 23,000 other games on the App Store.  It blends together quite nicely, and the result certainly feels distinct from its inspirations, so it avoids two of the bigger pitfalls of genre mash-ups. Ultimately, what keeps Zombie Match Defense from being as good as it ought to be is also quite common: it has a good concept, but doesn't do enough with it...

It perhaps shows how ephemeral our hobby is that none of the major companies responsible for pushing the first decade or so of commercial computer RPGs exist anymore. Sir-Tech, who created Wizardry and got the ball rolling on the market, collapsed in the early 2000s. Origin Systems, the developer of the mega-hit series Ultima, was devoured by EA and formally disbanded in 2004, though they functionally ceased to exist well before that point. SSI, who made the wonderful Gold Box series of Dungeons & Dragons games, was absorbed into Ubisoft in 2001. Interplay, the original developer of Bard's Tale, Wasteland, and Fallout, technically still exists but only as a loose collection of tenuously-held IP rights. New World Computing, the creators of the Might & Magic series and its spin-offs, was bought out by 3DO and closed in 2002...

'Pac-Man Bounce' Review - Free-to-Pac

StarStarStarStarNone
October 19th, 2015 12:52 PM EST by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

Pac-Man really has withstood the test of time. Decades later he still tops the charts as one of the most recognizable mascots in gaming, and he's hosted so many spinoffs that it would take you a lifetime to play them all. It's no surprise then that he's found a new home on mobile devices. Although Pac-Man Bounce [Free] suffers from a very aggressive monetization setup, it's a fun little diversion nonetheless...

I feel like every week I'm writing about another game adopting Crossy Road's free-to-play scheme. There's a good reason for that, as the ability to play for an unlimited amount of time, unfettered from energy mechanics, is a great feeling, and developers seem to be picking up on that. As it stands The Balloons - Endless Floater [Free] isn't quite as entertaining, but it's still a charming pixelated romp through the sky...

I've always felt the best action games have a certain underlying rhythm to them. In those games, levels are designed in such a way that the skilled player rarely has to stop, a sort of drumbeat of attack, jump, dash, and whatever other moves are in the character's repertoire. Auto-runners pull back the curtain entirely, particularly the ones that have pre-designed levels. You have no choice but to move forward, and if you can't keep the beat, the beat will beat you. There's a purity to that concept that works well, so well that even mighty Mario has included the odd auto-run stage or two in his latest adventures. The more precisely the player has to match the designer's beat, the more difficult the game becomes. Many games of this sort use a gentle curve to slowly nudge the player's skill up bit by bit. Then there are games like Jump Jack [$0.99]...

'Wormarium Arcade' Review - Pac-Worm

StarStarStarStarNone
October 8th, 2015 2:07 PM EST by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

I still remember the first time I ever played Pac-Man. It was at the arcade, and the concept of a maze-heavy game wracked my brain for hours on end. While most of the games I had played up until that point featured a linear design, like the Super Mario series, the only real comparable title I had played at the time was Dig Dug, which still didn't prepare me for all of those taxing yellow dots. Wormarium Arcade [Free] isn't quite as good of an experience, but it still offers up some of those same thrills...

'Stranded: Mars One' Review - Run Away Home

StarStarStarStarNone
September 24th, 2015 12:00 PM EST by Nadia Oxford in 3.5 stars, Free, Reviews
Free Buy Now

Fishlabs definitely chose a timely launch window for Stranded: Mars One [Free], so to speak. The game's premise is largely the same as Ridley Scott's upcoming movie The Martian (and the novel it's based on): A little space dude is stranded on the Red Planet, and he needs to get home...

I feel like I've written about this before, but Kemco and their developers have an odd approach to sequels. They're not too big on them, for starters, with only EXE-Create among Kemco's stable of developers doing them with any sort of regularity. Then, when they actually do sequels, there are virtually no links at all to the previous games, save perhaps a single character or location that reoccurs. They'll even completely change the gameplay systems to the point that no one would be able to guess it was a sequel if it weren't labeled as such. It's not something that bothers me much in general, but Asdivine Dios [Free / $4.99] is one case where I would have appreciated a safe sequel. I've made no secret of my opinion that the first game, Asdivine Hearts [$3.99], is the best game in Kemco's iOS line-up, and I was rather excited to hear the series would be continuing...

'Super Bounce Back' Review - A Win for No Can Win or No?

StarStarStarStarNone
September 22nd, 2015 12:00 PM EST by Nathan Reinauer in 3.5 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Platform, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

I generally don’t travel much, so it was a pretty big deal for me when I finally got to visit Maui a few years ago. And you know what? It was incredible. Snorkeling, chicken katsu, sea turtles… it really doesn’t get much better than that. One of my favorite memories of those few short weeks on the island, though, was playing a dumb mobile game with my girlfriend every time we went back to the hotel. It was Cubed Rally Redline [Free], and we were fiercely competitive with it. Ever since that vacation, every time I hear that Jared Bailey has a new game coming out it stirs up happy, sunny memories deep in my brain...

Ravenous Games has been around iOS for a long time. League of Evil [$2.99] was one of the first platformers on the App Store that actually worked, and it quickly became one of my favorite iPhone games. The controls were shockingly responsive (for the time), and speedrunning each level for leaderboard supremacy wasn't just doable, it was actually really fun. Of course, these days there are hundreds of platformers on the App Store and it seems the genre has come a long way since LoE took over my iDevice all those years ago. Unfortunately, though, in a lot of ways Ravenous's own games (which seem to make up about half of all the platformers on iOS) haven't changed with the times...

'Sketch Breaker' Review - Rainbow Breakout

StarStarStarStarNone
September 17th, 2015 11:21 AM EST by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

If there's one genre I used to play as a kid but almost never dip into now, it's brick breakers. I spent hours in the family car playing Breakout on the Game Boy, and if I ever managed to find myself in a bar area waiting for people, I usually picked the brick breaker minigame on those high-tech (at the time) miniature arcade machines. The bar peanuts weren't the only thing salty at that point, because these games are difficulty and unforgiving. Sketch Breaker [Free] is basically the same principle, but with a heap of IAP settings on top...

'Beat da Beat' Review - Dubstep 'em up

StarStarStarStarNone
September 17th, 2015 10:12 AM EST by Chris Carter in $0.99, 3.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Shooter, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

Another day, another shooter on iOS. The genre is thriving, and I can't get enough of it! This time around, Beat da Beat [$0.99] means business, despite the fact that it suffers from a lack of variety. You know a game is serious when it gives you both an epilepsy warning and a headphone suggestion at the start...

A couple of months back, I reviewed a unique little game called Trappy Tomb [Free], a game that had you running and jumping through a deadly tomb, grabbing treasure and trying to stay alive. Its most interesting feature was what it referred to as 'mingleplayer', where you would see the ghosts of tons of other players running along with you. It not only made score-chasing feel more exciting, it could also clue you into any cleverly hidden secrets someone had uncovered. Of course, there were also lessons to learn about the dangers of herd mentality. The developer of that game is back with his next title, MiniGolf Endless MMO [Free], and though it's in a completely different genre, it retains a similar gimmick...

When I first launched Ace Maverick [$4.99] by Futureworks Studios I was immediately hit in the face with a sharp blast of electric guitar. It was like a Marshall stack violently sneezing into my ears. And while I’d love to take this opening further and use that riff as some kind of metaphor for the game itself, I’m not going to do that. The riff happened, and I just thought you should know about it. Case closed...

PikPok’s latest game Breakneck [Free] had my attention early. It looked like a cross between Race the Sun [$4.99] and Star Wars Episode I: Racer, which is basically one of my favorite Nintendo 64 games crossed with one of my favorite recent iOS games. How could I possibly say no to that? It’s not possible, and I didn’t say no. So here I am, weeks later, finally playing the thing. Was it worth the wait? Well… kinda...

'Tiny Empire' Review - Waging War With Cannons

StarStarStarStarNone
September 2nd, 2015 6:00 PM EST by Eric Ford in $2.99, 3.5 stars, Action, Arcade, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$2.99 Buy Now

At first glance, Tiny Empire [$2.99] by Mother Gaia Studios acts suspiciously like another giant game franchise that resides within the physics-based launching genre. There’s projectile aiming, enemies you want to destroy, and a few twists on the ammunition being tossed. However, beyond the gameplay similarities is decent example of a title taking a genre that has been dominated by a huge developer and creating just enough change that it can stand on its own...

It's pretty difficult to pull off the first part of an intended series of stories. You have make sure you end it with a lot of possbilities in the air, but at the same time, you have to give people a satisying enough standalone plot that they'll want to stick around. It's especially important in games, where the player should feel some sense of accomplishment at the end of each part, particularly when the continuation might be a ways off. Versus - The Lost Ones [$3.99] is the latest release from prolific gamebook publisher Choice Of Games, and it's meant to kick off an on-going series. It's a successful opening in as much as I'm rather interested to see where the story goes from here, but taken as a standalone work, it's a little mixed...

'Zoombinis' Review - Edutainment at its Most Adorable

StarStarStarStarNone
September 1st, 2015 10:59 AM EST by Chris Carter in $4.99, 3.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, Puzzle, Reviews
$4.99 Buy Now

As a kid, I was pretty big into edutainment games. Any excuse to play video games in school I took, from Number Munchers to Oregon Trail. Some titles were more "entertainment" than "education," but I ran with it anyway -- and in some cases, I taught my fellow classmates how to earn a high score. Good enough, right?  However, in all my childhood I never had a chance to play Zoombinis [$4.99 (HD)]. I'm glad that I changed that recently with its iPad release, even if it hasn't aged all that well...

Copyright 2014, TouchArcade.com, LLC.