Category Archives: 3.5 stars

'Kayos' Review - Star Faux

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Over the course of my entire iOS lifetime (which started in 2009), I've probably played a couple hundred runner games. Although I haven't given them an equal time of day, for some reason the genre just doesn't get old, and I can spend at least an afternoon with them as long as they're semi-competent experiences. Kayos [$1.99] is another cool little endless runner based on flight that won't garner your interest long, but enough to make an impact...

'The Paris Dossier' Review - Spying in WW2 Paris

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May 1st, 2015 2:00 PM EDT by Tasos Lazarides in $1.99, 3.5 stars, Adventure, Reviews, Universal
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When most think of WW2, they think of grainy black-and-white footage of exploding planes and of exhausted soldiers running to their death. That this is the dominant imagery of WW2 is not surprising, of course, since most of us are drawn to the visual spectacle of explosions and destruction. Yet, there was an even more intense aspect of WW2, one that was in a way a war of individuals rather than armies, and that was the spy-against-spy war whose theater consisted of the cities and villages behind enemy lines. It's in this quiet battlefield that Lexica Games has set its noir-ish adventure game, The Paris Dossier [Free], a relatively-traditional adventure game that is entertaining, especially for those with an interest in cryptography and word puzzles, despite its relative brevity and occasional UI issues...




How many "city building" tap games have you played before? The answer is usually "just one and I hate them" or "five on a daily basis," with very little room in between. Yes, Century City [Free] is another one of those "wait and tap" builders, but it sets itself apart with a few extra mechanics that allow you to play a more active role in your cities' quest for unfettered expansion...

Spirit Lords [Free] from Kabam is their twist on the popular free-to-play hack 'n slash genre. Daniel Erickson, lead designer on Star Wars: The Old Republic and Phil Shenk, lead character artist on Diablo 2, played significant roles in the creation of this game. Additionally, Kabam wanted this to be what they term "white hat" free-to-play, where you can earn all loot through normal gameplay. What they've made is a solid action-RPG, with good touch controls, and a monetization system that can provide hours of play at no cost, but demands lots of grinding to be powerful...

I am definitely a formalist when it comes to video games. I don't think that games without structure or failure conditions are any less valuable as interactive works or as artistic achievements. I just enjoy my time with clickers more than I do, say, The Sailor's Dream [$3.99]. I like structure and progression, having a goal to attain. It motivates me to play, and when I no longer care about the goal, that will get me to stop playing. Simple as that. ..

There's no doubt in my mind that Devious Dungeon 2 [$1.99] makes some worthwhile improvements over the original game. Most of them are things that people directly asked for, even. In the end, though, it can't quite escape that feeling of repetitiveness that permeates the titles released by Ravenous Games. It's absolutely worth its price, and it's as engaging as any of the coin-grinders they've put out, but like most of their output from the last few years, it feels like all of the edges have been sanded off to make the safest, most widely-appealing product possible. Is that a bad thing? I guess it depends on what you're looking for out of it...

Super Hexagon [$2.99] still has an outsized influence on mobile gaming, as minimalist, high-difficulty, arcade-style games keep coming out. Tiltagon [Free] from Jyri and Piia Kilpeläinen, decides to skew closer to Super Hexagon where many games are now taking influence from Flappy Bird and Crossy Road [Free]. The high-tempo electronic music, the hexagons, the frequent deaths, they all seem familiar. Tiltagon does an admirable job at mixing things up by being a tilt-based game that can't match the speed of touch-based games, but finds clever ways to fit in this arcade challenge genre...

'Shades' Review: A Strikingly Simple, Tetris like Puzzle Game

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April 15th, 2015 2:30 PM EDT by Ben Jarris in 3.5 stars, Free, Puzzle, Reviews
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Shades [$1.99];the notably unique Tetris like puzzle game came out late last year and flew under the radar. Since it’s launch the game has grown a huge following, been featured by Apple as their ‘Free Game of the Week’, and even been recreated within Minecraft by seriously dedicated fans. A recent major update of the game and the release of Shades Free [Free]; made me take notice and have a closer look. If you love sleek design and you’re good with color like me then you should definitely take on this challenge and give Shades a try. ..

Last Voyage [$1.99] joins the craze of abstract puzzle games that Monument Valley [$3.99] helped spark thanks to its massive success. And this game makes for a spectacular universe and artistic experience. Yet, Last Voyage winds up being less than the sum of its parts, as it tries to connect five different experiences as one package. Each part has value, but it doesn't do a great job at making the package into a cohesive whole. Its myriad forms of gameplay are fascinating, as its existence as a beautiful thing. But the story, narrative, and message parts of its existence fell flat for me...

It's all too easy to dismiss DomiNations [Free] as a Clash of Clans [Free] clone that arrived late to an over-saturated market. But with its theme of nation building, and a timeline spanning millennia, this is more like a free-to-play reimagining of Sid Meier's Civilization...

Tap 'N' Slash [Free] is another game designed around being able to work on a touchscreen, which equates to simple controls. That's no bad thing, it's just that the makers of Tap 'N' Slash, Invictus, still chose to describe their game as an RPG and talk about exploring dungeons, which could set expectations a little high. Sure it's an RPG in the sense that you play as a character, but it's no more role-playing than Sonic or Mario. As for the dungeon exploring? Not in any traditional sense of the word...

I've been kicking this review down the road for a while now. I don't typically wait for games to get patches before reviewing them, because once the game is on the store, it's fair game for any customer to buy. I had to make an exception in the case of Echo Dawn: Shattered Visions [$3.99], which worked on my device when I first grabbed it, then broke with the next update, then broke some more before finally getting fixed with its last update. That's not a promising start to a review, I know, but I think it's important to be clear about one side of Echo Dawn. It lacks polish in more ways than one, and there's really no ignoring that aspect of it. There's another side to Echo Dawn, however, and it's a far more pleasant one. It's an enthusiastic indie take on a typical JRPG, more complete than many that attempt to deliver a full package, and it has some genuinely interesting gameplay systems, even if they don't quite come together as cleanly as one might hope...

'REBUS - Absurd Logic Game' Review: Buy Coins To Solve Over-Hard Puzzles

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March 30th, 2015 12:30 PM EDT by Andrew Smith in 3.5 stars, Free, Puzzle, Reviews
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The name won't mean anything to people in many countries, so to explain, rebus are words or phrases represented by pictures. Historically they were used to represent surnames on coats of arms, but nowadays you're more likely to encounter them as obscure puzzles, also known as dingbats...

A while back, I reviewed the original Five Nights At Freddy's [$2.99], and while I could appreciate what it was doing from a clinical point of view, I didn't really get the game properly. When Five Nights At Freddy's 2 [$2.99] came out, I thought I'd step aside and let someone else take a crack at it, but with how busy the holiday season was, the game ended up falling into the dreaded TouchArcade sofa cushions instead. Before anyone could catch their breath, Five Nights At Freddy's 3 [$2.99]'s release was imminent. I'll own up to a couple of little quirks that I have. First of all, it really bugs me when I don't get why something is popular. I don't have to like everything, but I do like to understand points of view other than my own, and exploring them often leads to me finding new things to enjoy. I see it as a failing on my part when I'm not able to do this. Another odd habit of mine is that I don't like gaps, so if I'm to come back to the series to review the third game, I really needed to do this one first. Hopefully, that explains why we're running this review at an admittedly late stage of the game. You can expect a review of Five Nights At Freddy's 3 pretty shortly after this one...

'Jump'N'Shoot Attack' Review - Fun Shooter, Boring Jumper

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March 26th, 2015 11:00 AM EDT by Andrew Smith in $1.99, 3.5 stars, Action, Arcade, Reviews, Shooter
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Not long in to playing Jump'N'Shoot Attack I sent an enthusiastic message to some of the other Touch Arcade writers, telling them that it was "super fun". Chatting to the developer on Facebook, I said the game was "right up my street". So this is a game that makes a great first impression. Sadly, the fun that is promised and delivered by those early stages, soon gives way to some unimaginative level design that is more tedious than it is challenging...

Heavenstrike Rivals [Free] is out and is one of the newest forays Square Enix has made into making mobile focused titles. Relying on a number of market-proven mechanics, Rivals doesn't break a lot of new ground. It does, however, manages to impress with it's mastery of the familiar. This is Squeenix we are talking about after all. ..

We've seen plenty of games that take after the kind of endless wave-sliding popularized by Tiny Wings [$0.99 / $2.99 (HD)], and refined by Kumobius' Time Surfer [$0.99] which threw its own wrinkles and a monetization-friendly metagame into the mix. RAD Boarding [Free] from Other Ocean and Noodlecake feels like it could be that next milestone game in this genre, at least at first. It has a gorgeous look and a game structure that could ideally make it a game worth checking out. But the problem is that RAD Boarding focuses way too much on its structure and metagame, and not enough on making getting high scores and actually playing the game feel important at all...

I'm a sucker for pixel art. No matter how many years have passed since the retro era, I'm still fond of that old school style. Kind of like hand-drawn animation over CGI, I'm at least there to take a look at something even if the game isn't necessarily worth playing. That's what initially drew me to Combo Queen [$1.99]. While it's a bit too simplistic to warrant extended play, the art style is worth checking out at the very least...

There are a lot of pieces of Pixel Heroes [$6.99] that would have had a much stronger effect on me a couple of years ago. The well-designed faux-retro graphics and sound, the roguelike elements, and the referential sense of humor are all things that have appeal for me, but even the marriage of these particular aspects is getting a bit too familiar to be exciting. That means the game has to carry forward on its gameplay, and it's honestly a mixed bag. This is a challenging streamlined RPG that doesn't take itself too seriously and offers a lot of replay value, but its repetitive nature and tedious combat eat away at the fun, bite by bite...

When I received the Turtle Beach Ear Force i30 Headphones for review, my hope was that they could solve the problem that exists with cheaper Bluetooth headsets that I've used: audio latency that makes them unpleasant to use with games. If anyone could sort it out, why not Turtle Beach, with a $300 headset made specifically for iOS? They are well-known for their gaming headsets, and I have a wired headset that I bought a few years ago that works well for what I need when I need it...

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