Category Archives: 3 stars

Ah, the spin-off. A truly noble creature, brought into creation typically by a secondary character becoming so popular that it's believed by the powers that be that they can anchor a story of their own. Sometimes, it works out well, as in Frasier, The Jeffersons, and Wario Land. But for each success, there are a handful of failures like Joey, The Ropers, and Shadow The Hedgehog. Deep Silver's attempt to spin out a character iOS gamers have yet to meet leans more towards the latter group than the former, but point and click adventure fans are still likely to find some merit in the whole exercise. Secret Files: Sam Peters [$0.99] is a much shorter, simpler game than Secret Files: Tunguska [$4.99], and its protagonist is considerably more abrasive than that game's duo. That said, there are a couple of good puzzles and, along with occasionally clever bits of dialogue, it just barely manages keep its head above water...

It may be among the lowest hanging fruit of all when it comes to entertainment, but it's hard to deny the raw comedic appeal of monkeys. They're like little hairy people that we can teach amusing tricks to without feeling bad about it. They're also very useful for filling in gaps if you lack a charismatic actor or character. Generally, people like monkeys, unless they've known a real monkey, in which case, they probably hate monkeys. ..

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, said Charles Caleb Colton, a man whose words are far more famous than his name. I'm not sure if that's always the case, but I do believe strongly that it sometimes is. For example, when I was a young lad, I used to try to draw Spider-Man exactly the way Todd McFarlane did. His art was so exciting and cool to me that I would find my favorite panels and more or less copy them. That eventually extended to my original drawings of Spider-Man, with the big eyes and the bundly webs finding their way into those margin-doodles my poor teachers had to put up with. In my defense, McFarlane was pretty popular at the time. I was a big fan of the art, and I wanted to express that through drawing similar things. Never mind that they were poor replicas, they were sincere, innocent-minded odes to McFarlane's unusual style. I think we see a lot of that type of situation in the game industry, since so many of today's developers grew up blanketed in the hobby. Of course, we also see quite a bit of the less-innocent imitations that are less about appreciation of art and more about appreciation of money, but I think it's safe to say that 2012's Partia [$3.99], a naked homage to Nintendo's Fire Emblem, is more the former...

Veteran Developer Hero Craft is bringing the Sons of Russ straight to your face with WarHammer 40k: Space Wolf[Free]. This visual stunner brings the table top classic to life in a squad based strategy card skirmish with the low low entry fee of nothing. If it sounds too good to be true, well there are some twists on the road to destroying the xeno threat. This game has some truly fantastic features intermingled with some pretty big roadblocks. If you can suspend your disbelief (and maybe an upturned wallet), you'll find a pretty solid game here. Available exclusively for iPad 3 or higher, iPhone 5 or higher and requiring an internet connection, the game is a little less accessible than most universal apps. With gameplay very similar to the PSP's Metal Gear Acid, I was really excited to get into what promised to be a tactically deep strategy game...

If you loved Final Fantasy Tactics [$13.99 / $15.99 (HD)] but thought it would be better if all of the characters were anime girls, then Japanese indie SRPG Rime Berta [$4.99] may have caught your eye. It's a clear tip of the hat to games like the aforementioned, and in a lot of ways does a very competent job of aping its overall presentation and many of its systems. It's a bit lean on content, which is perhaps understandable given the size of the developer, but its biggest failings are in the fundamentals. It's a serious problem when there are quite a few excellent strategy RPGs on the App Store that, even if nothing else, manage to nail those aspects. In the end, Rime Berta is all dressed up with no place to go...

We have seen a pretty big surge of board game ports recently, and I am loving the amount of developer support this genre has been garnering. Handelabra Studio released the latest of these ports recently with Sentinels of the Multiverse[$9.99 (HD)]. With an entire universe of lore,Sentinels seems like it could be a very strong platform to build expansions off of. Very rarely do we get to see a true co-op game that can challenge the competitive culture that has become a stigma for many would be gamers. I think it is important to point out, however, that lore and style are not the weak link of this board game. It is gameplay itself that has me concerned about the future of this franchise. ..

Say whatever else you will about Angry Birds [$0.99] creators Rovio, they know how to make fun, accessible games that have a lot of personality. There's no question that they've done just that, once again, in Angry Birds Transformers [Free]. It's not terribly deep, but it's enjoyable to play and its sense of humor is in exactly the right place, paying respect to the Transformers license while still gently poking fun at it. I walked away from Optimus and company a while back because sometimes it's not a good idea to revisit your childhood favorites, but playing this game brought back a lot of good memories for me. So, congratulations to Rovio, it's a nice game that uses its admittedly strangely-matched license well, and does so without retreading the default Angry Birds template, as tempting as that likely was...

Over the years, I feel like I've developed a pretty good nose for my own tastes. Usually just from reading a brief outline and seeing a few screens, I can at least figure out in ballpark terms how well I'll like a game, and it's rare for a game to fall outside of those admittedly broad estimates. Surprises come in two flavors, then. Sometimes a game I don't expect to like much turns out to be totally up my alley, like SEGA's Yakuza, and other times, a game that I think looks great just doesn't click for me at all. Unfortunately, Card Dungeon [$3.99], a game that initially appears to have a great deal in common with the PC game Card Hunter, is an example of the latter. It's a roguelike with an interesting hook and a great visual style reminiscent of a board game, and while I could list off a lot of things I think it does very well, it never manages to come together into something I can truly enjoy...

'Words for Evil' for iPad Review - Blobs Teach Typing

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October 14th, 2014 9:00 AM EST by Chris Carter in $1.99, 3 stars, Games, iPad Games, Reviews, Word
$1.99 Buy Now

Playing Mario Teaches Typing and Typing of the Dead for the first time were magical experiences for me growing up. I had no real interest in word games outside of the occasional Word Munchers binge, but those two titles took my love for the genre to a whole new level. It wasn't because of typing classes or outside practice that I worked my way up to over 80 words-per-minute in High School, it was due to videogames, and I owe them a great deal. Words for Evil [$1.99 (HD)] is a very similar game that attempts to marry typing gameplay with RPG-like elements, with mixed results...

I've been even happier than usual with the recent releases from gamebook developer Tin Man Games. They've taken a couple of books that I enjoyed a great deal when I was younger and rather than simply present them faithfully as they typically do, they've shined them up into even better forms. The Complete Sagas Of Fire*Wolf [$7.99] represents a slightly different challenge, however. In my opinion, the original books that this release draws from are deeply flawed in a way none of the other books Tin Man have sourced for their adaptations are. They've made some serious improvements, but in the end, it's probably something that only the hardcore gamebook fans or people with nostalgia for Fire*Wolf ought to look into. Oh, and the asterisk stands for some kind of grunt that we can't make in our language. Basically, his parents were hippies...

Cosmophony [$2.99] is a rhythm-based tunnel shooter that is built to be challenging, with formations of obstacles to avoid throughout five levels, all set to an EDM soundtrack. The rhythm part is loose at best, but changes in the game do go along with changing sound cues. The problem is that the game is built around its challenge being through perfectionism. That, the only way to advance is by completing a very hard level in one life leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and limits what this game can do...

Starbase Orion [$7.99] developer Chimera Software has released it's turn based card and strategy game, Starbase Annex [$1.99]. Annex is set within the larger Orion universe. Starbase Annex is one of those games that feels like it should be a multiplayer game. 1v1 turn based strategy games tend to carry that expectation as part of the genre. Annex has a bit of originality that helps it overcome this deficiency. There are many turn based hex grid games available for iOS and Annex reminds me of one of my favorites, Outwitters [Free]. If you combined gameplay elements of Outwitters and some mechanics from the popular card game Hearthstone [Free], you would get something close to what Starbase Annex is. ..

Before I write anything else, I want to commend the developer of Lith [Free] on their courage. Making an entire game around a gameplay concept that is likely most famously remembered as "the puzzley bits that everyone hates in middling JRPGs" takes some guts. Lith is a puzzle game made up entirely of those puzzles where you have to slide across icy surfaces to reach an exit. Once you've stepped onto the ice, you can't stop or change direction until you reach a tile with some sort of traction or bump into a wall...

I am willing to admit that I have a soft spot for challenging, minimalist arcade games. The thing that fascinates me about something like a Super Hexagon [$2.99] or Flappy Bird is the way that such small concepts can be designed in such ways that they inspire constant replayability despite having such simple concepts. And in the case of Flappy Bird, it's possible for these games to succeed accidentally. It's an absolutely fascinating genre. So, seeing Hyper Trip [$1.99], I found myself curious to see if this could be something special, as I dug its concept of controlling a square through mazes, not unlike a Tron lightcycle. And certainly, it's a challenging game, requiring quick reactions to avoid the maze walls that pop up, with four modes the feature increasingly-challenging layouts. Certainly, it falls into my line of interest, but it left me not as satisfied as I hoped...

Games built around comedy are few and far between. Although there was an era on PC where Monty Python games flowed like fine wine and adventure titles were primarily build on comedic material, the gaming industry has gotten progressively more serious as the audience has gotten progressively larger. Enter Max Gentlemen [Free] -- a game that will make pretty much anyone smile, but lacks a solid gameplay foundation...

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