Category Archives: 3 stars

I've experienced a few games now from Magic Cube, and while they've always sounded interesting on paper, they never quite seem to come together like you would hope. Their latest, Mirror Land [$0.99], is a monster-collecting RPG built around a cute idea. The game uses your actual location and allows you to summon monsters based on that information. The farther you are from where you first started up the game, the more interesting and unusual creatures you'll find. It's obviously inspired by Pokemon GO, but it works a little differently in practice. The game attached to that cool idea, on the other hand, is simultaneously the best I've played from this developer so far and yet still quite flawed...

Do you love dragon guides? Are you constantly upset about the lack of availability of in-game extras? Do you sit around and think "this game is great but why is it so fricken hard?" Do you hate a well-developed story line? If this is you all day then you need to check out Kidarian Adventures [Free]. Kidarian Adventures is a zany new platformer by Russian developer Hard Slime. The game features cute graphics, customizable gear, and little cutscenes that try to keep players intrigued. The gameplay is easy going–think Super Phantom Cat, but without the polish. That being said, this game has certainly kept me entertained - mostly by shear amused confusion...




Calling The X-Files just another science fiction show is doing it a slight disservice. It became a cultural phenomenon by mixing aliens and the supernatural, as well as mythology and standalone episodes, all while introducing iconic characters led by Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Similarly, you can't really call The X-Files: Deep State [Free] just a hidden object game, seeing as it also has numerous other mini-games, dialogue-driven decisions that affect the story and much more. It's an intriguing mix of elements worthy of its source material, but it's plagued by a sinister array of free-to-play headaches as menacing as anything cooked up by the Cigarette Smoking Man...

Every era of gaming has one or two genres that dominate. Eventually, the popularity of said genres give way to something new, and from there it's a coin toss as to how relevant they remain. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, one of those "it" genres was the beat-em-up. In many ways defined by 1986's Renegade, the genre became a worldwide sensation with the game's spiritual successor Double Dragon. The game was a huge hit in the arcades, and its many home ports were tremendously popular. There was a Double Dragon comic, a Double Dragon cartoon, a Double Dragon toyline, and eventually even a Double Dragon live-action movie. Innumerable clones from virtually every other game publisher followed, flooding arcades and eventually the 16-bit home consoles until the coming of one-on-one fighting games pulled the market in another direction...

I have to give SEGA some credit. One of the many points where I felt that the initial line-up of SEGA Forever titles was lacking was in the selection; they were all games drawn from SEGA's 16-bit platform, and only two of the games were new to iOS gamers. Subsequent releases have mostly stuck to Genesis games, plus a few updated versions of prior SEGA iOS releases. But the Genesis games in particular that have been selected are certainly eclectic choices that demonstrate an affection for the deeper cuts from SEGA's 16-bit library, and that's pretty cool. It reassures me that in spite of the numerous issues that have plagued SEGA Forever, the project is a work of passion. Because honestly, who else but a SEGA super-fan would choose to release something like ESWAT: City Under Siege [Free] ahead of better-known titles like Streets of Rage 2 or Gunstar Heroes?..

L Pop! [Free] is a relatively straightforward puzzle game that, like most puzzle games, is built around one main mechanic. In this case, it's the idea that where you can place your pieces is restricted to within a Chess Knight's move of wherever you placed your last one. It's not a bad hook to build a matching puzzle game around, and I'm not sure I've seen a game that did things in exactly the same way this one does. But while the core mechanic is an interesting one, L Pop! never quite takes off the way it feels like it should...

After a pretty fun and quite long Minecraft: Story Mode Season 1, Telltale returns to the world of Minecraft with Episode 1 of Season 2 [Free], and although it has some fun new ideas, I wasn't too crazy with the direction of the narrative and, especially, with the decision to add complex fighting sequences in a game that can barely handle simple swipes. I have to admit that I died more times in Hero in Residence than in pretty much any other Telltale game ever, and that wasn't because I'm not good at swiping at the right time. I had fun getting reunited with some of the characters from Season 1 and seeing how things have turned out after those events, but Hero in Residence didn't really impress me, and I'm hoping the rest of the episodes deliver a more coherent narrative and fewer action sequences...

The latest SEGA Forever release is upon us, and like many of the releases so far this one was already released on iOS several years ago before being pulled due to compatibility issues. Space Harrier 2 [Free] is a game of some historical significance as it was one of just two launch titles for the SEGA Genesis's debut in Japan, but it's also a firm reminder that the SEGA Forever celebration of the company's history remains steadily focused on one particular period of it. The emulation is solid enough and it's a decent game that is well-suited to touch controls, so nostalgic SEGA fans could do a lot worse than throwing a couple of bucks at it. Any appeal beyond that group might be a tough sell, however...

I kind of feel bad for the developers of Glyph Quest, We Heart Dragons. They've got a sound concept for their puzzle/RPG hybrid series, one with a satisfying amount of depth that nevertheless manages to be quite straightforward. The problem seems to be in finding the right balance of elements that allows them to make some money with the idea. After trying two player-friendly models and not getting great results, I guess I can't blame them for veering things hard in the free-to-play monetization direction. That's a tricky road to walk, however, and Glyph Quest Chronicles [Free] can't quite keep itself from stumbling into the ditch now and then...

Taito is one of the most historically significant companies in gaming history, and that is almost entirely due to Space Invaders. The 1978 pioneer of shoot-em-ups kicked off a genuine worldwide craze, and Taito watched their coffers fill with cash hand over fist. Plenty of great games followed, but none would have the impact or financial success of Space Invaders. Taito helped create the arcade scene with that game's focus on achieving high scores. Sadly, the company never quite got the swing of making home games, and their relevance diminished right alongside the arcades they helped to build in the first place. They weren't even able to hold onto their crown in the shoot-em-up genre for very long, but to their credit, they kept right on swinging anyway...

A node is a point at which lines come together or branch. It also drives the gameplay of new puzzle game noded [$0.99] by Pixel Envision Limited. In noded you're presented with a series of lines and nodes in a particular shape and given a target shape to replicate. You tap on the nodes to flip their associated lines in another direction and must figure out the right series of moves to morph into the correct final shape. The goal is to complete this transformation in as few moves as possible...

Trusty JRPG publisher Kemco's been trying to spread its wings a little bit of late, trying out new developers and gameplay variations after years of serving up the same old. They haven't quite given up on the old formula yet, though. Developer EXE-Create is still by Kemco's side, cranking out their serviceable brand of JRPG joy every couple of months or so. Onigo Hunter [$4.99] is the latest offering, and it's more or less the usual fare for Kemco. It tries to do a few new things but was obviously constrained by the resources available, making for an experience that is likely to be a little too familiar to mobile RPG fans...

After playing Principia [$2.99] through a few times, I find myself a little conflicted. This is an odd sort of science simulation game where you take on the role of a historical scientist and try to build your fame and fortune through research and discovery. Rival scientists will try to beat you to the punch or cattily attempt to discredit your work, and you can choose to respond in kind if you like. The game ends when your chosen character reaches the end of his working life, so you've got to try to get in as much as possible by then. It's a messy, ambitious game, and when I think on it, it doesn't really work at all. And yet, there's something compelling about it all. Perhaps it's the thrill of chasing a discovery to its end. Maybe it's the joy of rising to the top while your rivals slide downwards. The game's nerdy enthusiasm for science is also rather infectious. Whatever the case, it's certainly something to try if you're looking for a different kind of simulation game...

For all of the interesting themes that can be found in the published works of Choice of Games, one of the more common ones is that of war. I suppose that's no different from a lot of forms of entertainment, but it does start to feel like I'm re-living Disney's Mulan over and over again. Somehow a plucky (and usually lowly) hero manages to upset the certainly-evil invading bad guys almost entirely on their own, and usually gets a smooch or two along the way before being declared the best person that ever was. Yes, I'm over-simplifying, but it's only because this premise is starting to get a little weary. I had hoped Runt of the Litter [$3.99] would put a new spin on the theme, with its central conceit being that you need to raise and train a war gryphon. Indeed, it does play out differently than I would have guessed, but it's hard to say if that's for the better or the worse...

Like anyone who has been playing games for any length of time, I've seen so many endings that they barely even register in my memory anymore. But I distinctly remember the Saturday one summer in high school when I finally finished Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts. My friend owned the game, and I had dabbled with the game here and there over the couple of years leading up to that moment thanks to the occasional loan. It was something I had originally written off as being too frustrating to care about, but I was staying at my buddy's house that weekend and he was out for the day. Lacking other options, I sat down and played through the whole thing (twice). It's an incredibly difficult game even for its era, but there's a certain rhythm to it that will carry you through once you learn it. And to be perfectly honest, it's probably the easiest game in the series that started with 1985's Ghosts 'n Goblins...

'Realm Grinder' Review - Grind is Right

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February 21st, 2017 10:09 AM EDT by Chris Carter in 3 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation, Universal
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I feel like I've pontificated enough about the clicker genre. It's perfectly suited for mobile devices (where you can leave it dormant and come back to a fortune literally anywhere), and although it has its flaws and isn't for anyone, I'm glad that it exists. So many games have attempted to put their own unique spin on the formula with mixed results though, and that includes Realm Grinder [Free]...

Have you ever had a great idea for a game, and could see no reason why it wouldn't work? Ask anyone who has to turn ideas into reality, it doesn't always work out that way. Ideas that work on paper aren't as viable in real-life. Songs that sound good when you hum them don't have the same feeling when you play them on an instrument. Even for a writer, I've had ideas for articles that didn't work out because the ideas I had in my head didn't quite work out on paper. Now, sometimes these ideas still get pursued to completion. I'm not going to put words in Cobra Mobile's mouth as to Red's Kingdom [$2.99], but it certainly feels like an idea that someone had that was really cool, and I liked it too! Combine sliding puzzles with a Zelda-style adventure with upgrades to collect? Sounds like it has potential! But at least for myself, and in this particular format, it does not work...

I often find myself into a bit of a bind when I review a game that's well done in terms of design but also has major technical issues. How do you separate the plot and design ideas in the first episode of BATMAN - The Telltale Series [Free] from the engine's obvious shortcomings that make the game almost unplayable on all but the latest iOS devices? I've been playing the game on my iPhone 7 and even though I got some relatively long load times here and there, overall the experience was relatively fine (minus some typos, blurry text in the Codex, and graphical glitches). However, when I tried playing it on my iPad Air, I couldn't enjoy the game because the minutes-long load times really messed with the flow of the story (it's like watching a movie with long commercial breaks)...

Our culture's fiction has a fascination with werewolves. We've explored what it would be like to be an American werewolf tourist in Europe, what it would be like to have a werewolf Michael J. Fox, what it would be like to have a werewolf boyfriend, what it would be like to have a werewolf boyfriend who competes with our vampire boyfriend but then ends up being the boyfriend of our daughter instead, and so on. But I feel we could be doing a better job of digging into the fascinating subject of what it would be like to have a werewolf member of congress, a niche I was hoping Congresswolf [Free], a recent gamebook release from Choice of Games, would fill...

I've been a huge F1 fan for over twenty five years and still watch it religiously. And I've also had the chance to play a couple of the Codemasters' F1 PC games in the past, so I have a pretty good sense of what the developer brings to the racing genre. So, when I heard at the Apple keynote that Codemasters was bringing what looked like a full F1 game to mobile, I was very excited. I love racing games on mobile, and I always thought that a well-made F1 game with the actual license and tracks would be great. Now we finally got F1 2016 [$1.99], and I have to say I'm impressed in some ways and quite disappointed in others. First of all, this game has way more content than I expected it to have in terms of modes and ways to play it. At the same time, half of those modes are marred by incredibly dumb AI opponents. And on top of that, there are numerous bugs and design decisions that make playing the game frustrating at times. When the driving clicks, though, the game is really fun...

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