Category Archives: 3.5 stars

'TrainCrasher' review - Slash 'em up

StarStarStarStarNone
January 13th, 2016 1:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Action, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

I can't exactly remember what my first beat 'em up was, but I believe it was one of the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games. They're great to play solo for sure, but most of my fun came by way of co-op, mashing away with three (or more) players on an arcade cabinet. There's an awesome sense of comradery there, all focusing on the common goal at once -- something that's very rarely replicated in the gaming world's current online focus. TrainCrasher [Free] might not have co-op, but it's a fun enough recreation of all of those old classics...

'Pick-Xell' Review - It's A Dirty Job

StarStarStarStarNone
January 7th, 2016 12:03 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 3.5 stars, Action, Arcade, Free, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews
Free Buy Now

You don't have to look far to find an iOS game about digging. It's an oddly specific activity to have so many games to its name, but whatever the reasons, people seem to enjoy it. Most games of this type encourage the player to take their time and be cautious, which makes sense given the inherent dangers involved. Games with more an arcade bent to them will counter this need for caution with some sort of immediate danger that keeps the player moving. The challenge then becomes moving fast enough to avoid danger while somehow trying not to make any fatal mistakes in spite of your pace. Pick-Xell [Free], the latest release from Japanese publisher Obokaidem, distills that idea down to its very essence...




'Gopogo' Review - Hop 'til You Drop

StarStarStarStarNone
December 29th, 2015 4:30 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Action, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

The mobile landscape has shifted quite a bit since the introduction of the App Store. In the beginning, the market was flooded with tons of hardcore experiences, meant to cater towards the console and PC gaming crowd. But over time, a lot of those games started to thin out, in favor of garnering massive audiences with casual titles and aggressive IAP "platforms." While there are a lot of gems in either side of the coin, it's nice to get a difficult game ever now and then, which includes the inevitably polarizing Gopogo [Free]...

Based on a novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033 has quickly become the video gaming world's third-favorite post-nuclear-apocalypse setting, give or take a rank or two. Set in a world where a nuclear war forced Moscow's survivors to live in the underground subway stations that sprawl out under the city, it's a setting ripe with possibilities for games. Ukrainian developer 4A games apparently felt it would make a good first-person shooter, and they proved themselves right in 2010 with the release of Metro 2033 on Xbox 360 and Windows PCs. That game was followed by a sequel called Metro: Last Light, and I'm quite sure we'll be seeing more games coming in that particular series. Russian developer DaSuppa and publisher TapStar Interactive seem to have come away from the book with a different kind of game idea, perhaps figuring that the struggle for resources and sprawling map filled with nodes would make a good strategy game. They weren't wrong. Metro 2033: Wars [$3.99] is awfully rough around the edges, but it's at least worth checking out for patient strategy fans who are looking for a lighter bite...

I make a terrible Arthur. It's not something I've had to put much thought into in my life, so I wasn't actually aware of that particular gap in my skillset until I played Pendragon Rising [$3.99], the latest release from prolific interactive fiction publishers Choice Of Games. This adventure sees you guiding a young Arthur (or Arta, if you'd prefer to play a woman) as he returns to Briton from a seven-year stay in Rome. Your parent, the ruler of Gwynedd, is seriously injured in a battle with the leader of the invading Saxons, and the matter of their succession will determine the fate of Gwynedd and Briton itself. There's a rightful heir to the throne, and you technically aren't it, but as is often the case with stories based on the Arthurian legend, things get complicated fairly quickly...

The fundamental conflict surrounding how I feel about roguelike I Wanna Be a Hero [$2.99] is that the game owes a huge debt to Crypt of the Necrodancer, and if you've played that game, then a lot of what this is trying to do makes sense. Of course, Necrodancer isn't on mobile quite yet, so if you're just a mobile gamer, then perhaps you're only used to this. Still, I Wanna Be a Hero does a lot that is interesting and it's not a bad game, but it's definitely lacking...

'Pyro Jump Rescue' Review - Twirling, Twirling Towards Freedom

StarStarStarStarNone
December 11th, 2015 11:04 AM EDT by Nadia Oxford in 3.5 stars, Free, Review, Reviews
Free Buy Now

Pyro Jump Rescue [Free] is interestingly named. It insinuates that the game is about leaping around to save a pyromaniac. That'd be an interesting idea for a mobile game, but it's not what Pyro Jump Rescue is about. Instead, this action / adventure title works off the barrel-blasting mechanics popularized by 1994's classic Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo...

As regular readers know, I play a lot of interactive fiction games. Visual novels, gamebooks, text adventures, I enjoy them all just the same. While I'm often pleasantly surprised by the writing or structure of these games, it's quite rare for me to come across something that is different from a gameplay perspective. Veteran gamebook developer Tin Man Games has been full of surprises recently, however, so I suppose I should start expecting things like Choices: And The Sun Went Out [Free]. It's a choice-based adventure with a couple of clever twists, with chief among them being that it's not finished. Okay, that's normally a bad thing to say about a game, but in the case of Choices, it's actually its main hook. Rather than presenting a complete story that players can purchase up-front, Choices instead offers a subscription-based model where new content arrives every week, building on the story bit by bit...

There isn’t very much to say about virtual pets. We’ve all played with one at some point, whether it was a Tamogachi or a Clumsy Ninja [Free], and they all offer pretty much the same experience. They’re usually cute and also usually a bit shallow. So how do you direct someone’s attention to your virtual pet experience? By putting them in charge of one of the most destructive and incomprehensible monsters since before time was time, of course! And by making that elder god as cute as can possibly be, even as he eats his own servants because you forgot to feed him! Here’s the simple but amusing Cthulhu Virtual Pet [Free] from Silvia Sanchez and NeuroCreativa...

'Amazing Loot Grind' Review - Tap to Loot

StarStarStarStarNone
December 3rd, 2015 2:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation, Universal
Free Buy Now

For a period of one month, Cookie Clicker basically took over my PC. I played it at work, and at home, with two simultaneous instances running at once. The concept of watching numbers go up over time isn't anything new -- it's something PC and old console RPGs have been doing for decades -- but clickers cut out all of the downtime and just let you get to the rewards. It's a fascinating social experiment, but on occasion, it also makes for a fun video game. Amazing Loot Grind [Free] is one such instance, and it's perfect to play for hours or seconds at a time...

'Super Hyper Ball' Review - Breakout Pinball

StarStarStarStarNone
December 3rd, 2015 1:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Pinball, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

I've been playing Breakout-esque games for decades now, and despite the fact that they've fundamentally remained the same, they still do the trick every so often when I'm craving an arcade-like retro experience. Sure it's a score-attack-based affair, with a dangling carrot that will never actually be reached, but at the very least, you can still break out all of those bricks and move on to the next set of tiles. There's a sense of progression to it and a noble air of simplicity that makes the genre so alluring. Super Hyper Ball [Free] maintains the same classic feel as those titles, but adds in a few rudimentary aspects of pinball into the mix...

Sometimes, in life, the earth starts bursting at the seams with magma and fire while meteors and little chibi zombie para-troopers rain down endlessly from the sky and giant slime monsters slug their way across the earth. Sometimes, a baseball playing Robot gets caught up in all of that mess, and decides that if he’s going to go down, he’s literally going down swinging. And also hitting. And sometimes striking out. Such is the premise of Baseball Apocalypse [$0.99] from Thomas Janson...

I don't know about you, friends, but when I play games that give me moral choices, I tend to stick to the good side. When it's time to play the evil side, I really have to push myself into doing the bad thing, even knowing full well that it doesn't actually hurt anyone. I guess all those Saturday morning cartoons and superhero comic books worked. In games, as in cartoons and comics, it's usually pretty easy to sort out the good side from the bad side. Rescuing kittens from trees is good! Lighting a tree full of kittens on fire is bad! It's pretty rare for a game to present genuinely difficult choices that have no clearly just answers. The latest interactive fiction release from Choice Of Games, Deathless: The City's Thirst [$3.99], had me second-guessing myself all the way through. It's ultimately the best quality in a story that otherwise feels a bit episodic and unfocused...

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 EDT 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]...

Copyright 2014, TouchArcade.com, LLC.