Category Archives: 3.5 stars

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

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

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December 3rd, 2015 1:00 PM EST by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Pinball, Reviews, Universal
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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 [$0.99] 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

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

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

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September 24th, 2015 12:00 PM EST by Nadia Oxford in 3.5 stars, Free, Reviews
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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 / $7.99] 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 [$7.99], 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?

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

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

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

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