Category Archives: 3.5 stars

Pixel Cup Soccer [$0.99 / Free] is, for better or for worse, an arcade sports game using just two buttons, and one that revels in its inaccuracy to the real sport. Those expecting a version of FIFA 14 [Free] but with pixel art will be sorely disappointed. But as an arcade soccer game, it's charming and worth coming back to again and again...

Candy Crush Saga [Free] creator King has a fairly extensive catalog of puzzle games it has developed over the last several years. Their iOS lineup is just a small fraction of what it has released, though it's fairly representative of King's strengths and weaknesses. I think it's fairly safe to say at this point that its games have very broad appeal, with people of both genders, all ages, and many walks of life having a great time playing them. I think it's also pretty well-known that its games are really, really hard, and sometimes it's difficult to tell if things are rigged against you just to sell you IAP or simply just randomly cruel to keep you from flying through the games. I think it's also widely-accepted that many of its games owe a very large debt to existing puzzle games. King's match-3 games, like Candy Crush or Farm Heroes Saga [Free], use familiar mechanics and add a few twists, with the result being at least as original as, say, Dr. Mario is to Tetris [$0.99]...

I love so many things about Uncanny X-Men: Days Of Future Past [$2.99], a new action-platformer from Glitchsoft, the developer behind He-Man: The Most Powerful Game In The Universe. Based not on the recently-released movie but rather on the comic it sources, X-Men is a full-length game, packed with nods fans will love, delivered in complete form for a reasonable price, with no IAP or online connection required. There are multiple playable characters, each with two or more costumes, with more planned as free content to be added later. Each character has their own skills and abilities that can be upgraded as you go along. The stages cover a variety of locales, and the graphics are generally quite nice. There are also tons of secrets to uncover by exploring the stages that reward you with bonus art and some extra experience...

Remember Tom & Jerry? That kid’s cartoon where the little mouse always manages to screw over the tom cat despite all his attempts? Well, that’s not what this game is about, but it certainly has it’s similarities. Axl & Tuna [$0.99] follows the story of a happy-go-lucky robot who is merrily cruising along on his roller-coaster style ride only to be constantly harassed by his virtual nemesis who is attempting to de-rail his enjoyment at every opportunity...

Some games are so beautiful that even before you lay your hands on the controls, you want to love them. Last Inua [$3.99], a haunting adventure that takes place in the snowy arctic, is one of those games. The art design is striking. The wintery vistas provide a feeling of quiet isolation, an aspect that is bolstered by the restrained sound design. At the same time, the main characters are animated so well that you can feel their warmth and affection, and again the sound design backs that feeling up. The basic gameplay hook is well-tested and promising without having been overdone. You control two characters, each with their own set of skills and abilities, and must make use of the right skills in the right situations to see both of them safely to the goal. Think Lost Vikings, minus one viking, and you'll have the general idea, or at least what I think was the intended idea...

It may seem like endless runners are a crowded genre, and in fact, you’d probably be right, but once in a while there comes along one entry that stands apart from the rest of the crowd. Whether Gear Jack: Black Hole [Free] is worthy of that title remains to be seen (and telling you now would spoil the beginning of the review), but the vibrant stylish-looking graphics drew me in almost straight away, so in fact, the outlook is already fairly positive...

If you’ve ever wanted to play a game that’ll bring out the gremlin in you, this one will probably suffice. Gary is a rebellious fuzzy demonic creature who needs your help to get past the museum security in order to destroy its many valuable treasures. If you enjoy a good combination of physics puzzlers and breaking stuff, you’ll probably wanna give Lil Smasher [Free] a shot. ..

Adventure To Fate [$2.99] bills itself as a JRPG-style game, but if the Internet has taught me anything, it's that no two people can agree on exactly what 'JRPG' means. I'm not going to even try to go into the million different definitions I've come across in my time. That said, if your personal definition of 'JRPG' is turn-based random encounters, then Adventure To Fate upholds its promise. If your personal definition of 'JRPG' involves an off-the-wall story, deep battle systems, interesting characters, party building, exploring a big world, customizable character growth and development, or awkward laughing scenes, you might find this game to be a bit lacking. Adventure To Fate takes the basic ideas of very early console role-playing games and somehow creates something even more simple. On paper, this sounds like a horrible idea, but somehow, I still found Adventure To Fate to be a fairly enjoyable game...

If you had a robot suit, what is the first thing you would do with it? If your answer is "jump around in small, contained rooms packed with things that can kill you with the slightest touch", have I got a game for you right here. Suited Up [$1.99] is one of those games that boils down to one simple mechanic, with levels built to progressively test your mastery of that mechanic. As is often the case with this kind of game, it starts to get a bit old before the levels run out, but Suited Up has an ace up its sleeve that extends the fun, provided you're on-board with the core jumping gameplay...

For a media form so ripe for it, there's been very little decent video game parody until recently. Thanks to the rise of independent developers who were born and raised on games, we're seeing more and more games that tweak the nose of gaming's history, some more affectionately than others. Blackmoor [Free] is a side-scrolling melee action game that is absolutely drenched in love for classic Japanese games, sending up or homaging works from Capcom, Konami, Technos, Nintendo, and more. Anyone can toss in Firebrand or a Dragon Punch and call it a day, though, so that's not especially noteworthy. Blackmoor goes a little beyond the superficial trappings, which it admittedly revels in, and shows not just a fondness for characters and attacks, but also for the depth in mechanics of the action games that came out of those great companies...

So, who here can't build a simple circuit without somehow starting a fire? Just me? Unfortunately, I am quite well-known for my frankly shocking ineptitude with anything involving the guts of electronics, which is remarkable given my many hobbies that involve them. You know that kid who started a fire in tenth grade science class? That was me. Luckily, nobody was hurt, which means we can all look back and laugh as we read this review only tangentially related to that anecdote. You see, Circix [Free] is a puzzle game that is skinned to look like circuits. While I'm terrible with circuits in real life, I'm quite good with puzzle games, so I figured I would give this one a try. I have to believe that there's a much smaller risk of anything being enveloped in flames when it's just a game on my phone...

With our present knowledge of how well puzzles mix together with dragons, it's almost tragic that it took gaming so long to bring the two together. Fortunately, if there's one thing the video game business is good at, it's making up for lost time. The brilliant mash-up of puzzle and RPG in Puzzle Quest was pounded into a more specific shape by Puzzle & Dragons [Free], and with that game's success, the floodgates opened. Generally, games following that blueprint tend to come in with either a variation or replacement of the puzzle element, or an interesting new theme. Occasionally, you get a game that does both. Fable Age [Free], from Blue Tea Games, brings a bunch of new twists to the sub-genre, but the most prominent one is cosmetic. Instead of the "mythology plus Batman, Angry Birds, and whatever other cross-overs we can swing" approach of P&D or going with wholly original characters like Brave Frontier [Free], this game uses characters from fables such as Goldilocks or King Midas...

Connoisseurs of specialized arcade cabinets have probably heard of DJMax Technika , the South Korean touch-screen based rhythm game. Being an arcade music game with touch controls, an iOS version would seem to be a natural fit and that’s exactly what we have with DJMax Technika Q[Free]. With an incredibly fine-tuned and enjoyable rhythm engine, Technika Q is unfortunately hampered by the bloated systems placed on top of its core gameplay...

The genre our hobby labels as "puzzle games" has got to be one of the broadest categories in entertainment. As such, the variation we see within that genre is massive. Sure, wherever there is success, there will be clones, but outside of naked attempts to imitate something great, it's fairly unlikely for any two random puzzle games to resemble one another, even in broad strokes. I'm not sure if it will prove to be a blessing or a curse for developer Radiangames, but it's certainly a bizarre bit of kismet that their new puzzle game, SideSwype [$1.99], a game about swiping blocks around on a grid, has landed just after the phenomenal Threes! [$1.99], which is also a game about swiping blocks around on a grid. There's absolutely no way this was cobbled together in the brief period of time since the release of Threes!, as it's incredibly polished and well-thought out, so we're left with one of those situations where we have to marvel at how interesting life can be sometimes...

Take a gander at the top grossing games on iOS and one game that’s been there for an incredibly long time is Supercell’s Clash of Clans [Free]. Combining freemium elements with base building and combat, Supercell managed to create a compelling system to encourage players to come back (and spend some money). Now, the freemium powerhouse has returned with the worldwide launch of Boom Beach [Free], the spiritual successor to Clash. Offering a similar experience in a different setting with just enough tweaks to make it unique, Boom Beach isn’t going to offer a radically different experience, but that might not be a bad thing in terms of approachability...

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