Category Archives: 3 stars

'Stickman Rush' Review: Great Style, Not So Much Substance

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March 26th, 2015 9:30 AM EDT by Andrew Smith in 3 stars, Free, Reviews, Runner
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I'm gonna go ahead and drop an F-bomb: Stickman Rush is flabbergastingly beautiful. Not since Monument Valley has a game's aesthetic so immediately dropped my jaw to the floor and had my eyes bulging with pixel lust. Alas this lane-changing infinite scroller is much stronger in presentation than it is in actual gameplay...

I've reviewed a lot of Kemco games in the last couple of years here at TouchArcade, and while the quality varies wildly, I can easily say my least favorite of that two dozen, give or take, was Shelterra The Skyworld [$3.99]. It basically encapsulated everything that I dislike about developer Magitec's games. The archaic engine with its jerky scrolling, the localization so stiff you could iron a shirt on it, the irritating dungeons that have you doubling back and forth hitting switches with damage floors everywhere, the asinine approach to character development, and more all added up to one sad little reviewer. Every time I see Magitec's name on a new Kemco release now, I take a deep breath, flinching the way one would when a static shock is expected from a touch...




I've reviewed more than 20 RPGs from Kemco since I started at TouchArcade in mid-2013, so I like to think I've got a pretty good handle on what to expect from each game at this point. Oh, the quality varies somewhat unpredictably, but the basic outlines each developer for the publisher employs are well-established by now and all too familiar. Every once in a while, however, one of those games dares to color outside the lines just a little bit, and when that happens, you can usually find Hit-Point's name listed as the developer. Such is the case with Seven Sacred Beasts [$3.99], a strangely experimental title whose chief virtue is that it doesn't just feel like a new story plugged into the same old gameplay. Instead it's the opposite, which might seem like a good thing, but ends up causing some serious problems...

Ammo Pigs [$1.99] is a game that figures that it just needs to do one thing and one thing only, and get that right. From Cascadia Games, it's an homage to the DOS era of gaming and its action-platformers. You control a pig with a gun who must shoot his way through a dozen levels full of sentient butcher knives, spikes, walking guns, and various robots out for your bacon. If you played 2-Bit Cowboy [$0.99] you may recall that game had a level-based structure that still had some aspects of open-world games. This game uses a bit more of a compromise in level design, as the levels have open-world elements where you have to backtrack to hit switches, with some hidden things to find. Still, they feel a bit smaller and more straightforward, but not in a bad way, but in a way that feels more focused...

King of Thieves [Free] is a game that shows the problems with review scores, because it exists at two diametrically-opposed extremes. On one hand, it's a remarkably cool concept: it takes auto-running trial platformers and puts it into a Clash of Clans [Free] style raiding system. You can design a dungeon, crafting gems to become more powerful, while trying to keep other players from getting your gems by way of making a dungeon too powerful for them to successfully raid. All the while, you're raiding others and playing through the singleplayer campaign, getting more money, upgrading your stats and traps to be better at raiding and to make raids tougher. But it's a game with a particularly annoying energy system that raises questions about its fairness. It's a game that doesn't go down smooth, particularly if you're not a free-to-play fan...

I have a confession to make to all of you. About a month and a half ago, I started playing Final Fantasy: Record Keeper, and I've been hooked ever since. I'm in deep, playing every day to open up new chapters from the games and unlock new characters. For a Final Fantasy fan, it's almost the best case you could imagine for a free-to-play social RPG. A lot of that is because it understands that you have to give people some of what they want or you're going to lose them right away. It's not as strategic as Terra Battle [Free], and it certainly has some pay boundaries when you get several hours in, but all-around, it's one of the more generous and fun social RPGs I've played so far. It's certainly not what I expected from DeNA, a company who has earned a bit of a reputation over the years...

We're really going down the meta-rabbit hole here. The latest release in the long-running and prolific LEGO series of video games from TT Fusion and Warner Bros. is The LEGO Movie Video Game [$4.99]. It's a game based on a movie, based on a toy, whose sense of humor and visual style was heavily drawn from the games based on the toys made from licenses of other movies. This version specifically is a slightly modified port of the game as it appeared on the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita, so don't expect any open world shenanigans or levels drawn from the console version of the game. It most closely resembles LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe In Peril [$4.99], which I enjoyed more than the usual fare due to it being less of poor imitation of the console versions and more of a game built for handheld play...

The new year is already off to a great start for iOS RPG fans. We've received a port of the wonderful Dragon Quest 5 [$14.99], an excellent puzzle RPG in Hero Emblems [$3.99], and even a couple of indie surprises in the form of Lowlander [$1.99] and Adventure To Fate: Battle Arena [Free]. I'm feeling pretty good about 2015's potential RPG line-up already. While we don't know exactly what's in store for us, there is one thing we can surely count upon: Kemco will be here with about a dozen new RPGs, some of which might even be good. That said, they're not getting off to a great start with Dead Dragons [$3.99], their first release of 2015. While it's not as lousy as some of their efforts, I'm not sure it's actually worth your time and money, either...

Hexxy Snake [$2.99] is pretty much the Super Hexagon [$2.99] version of Snake, the granddaddy of all mobile games, the game that convinced folks that playing games on a phone was a good idea. This is the Super Hexagon take not just because the game takes place on a hexagonal grid, no: it throws in a number of glowy visual effects to try and spruce things up, while featuring 100 fixed levels to play. It's an interesting game, but one that's just solid at best...

'Elune Saga' Review - Pretty, Average

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From a Western point of view, it's easy to forget the fact that the mobile gaming market's most successful territories are in Asia, something that informs the behavior of many developers from the region. Just as base- and city-building games sit at the top of the Western top grossing chart, social RPGs are the chief earners in the East. The amount of money made by games like Puzzle & Dragons [Free], Brave Frontier [Free], and Monster Strike [Free] is absurd. It's little wonder, then, that companies like Korean publisher Gamevil are throwing out pitch after pitch trying to get in on some of the spoils of that phenomenon. They're hardly alone, with even the mighty Square Enix appearing almost desperate in their frequent attempts to score a home run...

Like plenty of folks from my generation, I absolutely adore The Princess Bride. The combination of colorful characters, witty one-liners and an off-beat fairy tale ending have left a lasting effect on many that have enjoyed the film. Unfortunately, fans hoping for some kind of expansion to the universe will be a disappointed with The Princess Bride - The Official Game [$3.99]. However, there’s just enough fan service in the collection of simplistic mini-games that it’s certainly worth buying for any fan of the film...

In the first half of 2014, the hottest trend in war strategy games was the Eastern front of World War 2. We had entries from Hunted Cow, Shenandoah Studio, and Slitherine, all within a fairly short span of time. Slitherine's title, Frontline: Road To Moscow [$2.99], was a slightly more accessible strategy game than their usual fare, and although it lacked the depth that fans of the genre tend to crave, I enjoyed it well enough. The game had a huge variety of units to play with, took terrain conditions into account, and had just enough below the surface to keep me engaged without crushing me. On top of that, the visual designs of the pieces were excellent, the base game included a generous amount of missions, and while it did release in a bit of an Eastern front boom period, the overall scenario was still quite novel for me. In theory, I should be the perfect target for a follow-up...

It's possible that I'll never get tired of good "endless" games. Although there's no real goal in sight, earning all of those incremental upgrades to do slightly better after each run is the definition of deviously addicting. Go!Go!Go! Racer [Free] has the addicting part down, but it suffers from the same fate as any heavily monetized game in that the devs have made it difficult to enjoy it without paying up...

I must admit that I am a sucker for games with good craftsmanship. For me, good visuals, refined controls, little details, things that can seem often shiny and superficial reveal something to me, especially when they come from a smaller developer: they reveal that there is perhaps a deeper quality to pay attention to here. Crossy Road [Free] was so excellent to me not just because it is so much fun to play, but little details and tweaks made to game feel abound in that game, and they push it from "entertaining diversion" to "supremely excellent game." What we have here in Bit Dungeon 2 [appprice url="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bit-dungeon-ii/id823658485?mt=8" is the flip side of that coin: what happens when a game has a compelling structure, but lacks that last stretch of quality that makes the great games what they are? You're left with an experience of what could have been...

'Annoying Cab' Review - Just Plain Annoying

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December 22nd, 2014 11:00 AM EDT by Chris Carter in 3 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Universal, Word
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I've never really had a bad experience with cab rides. Maybe it's because I don't live in a major city and don't take them every week, but as a general rule, when I do take cabs I have nothing major to complain about. At the very least the driver isn't annoying, which is what the typing trainer Annoying Cab [Free] is all about...

I don't think a person needed to be a fortune-teller to see this outcome, but going back to my review of Tomb Raider 1 [$0.99] from last year, I ended it by expressing little hope for a potential port of Tomb Raider 2 [$1.99] fixing the control issues with the first game. It wasn't hard to guess because the problem is neither with the unorthodox and somewhat fussy controls of the Tomb Raider series, nor was it with virtual controls, but rather the marriage of the two that the mobile version offered. There's simply no clear way to map virtual controls to these games in a satisfying way. Tomb Raider 2 only makes that problem clearer with its increased challenge and greater emphasis on pulling off non-stop sequences of moves, particularly in timed situations. It's the kind of situation where I don't feel good about giving it a score, because if you have an MFi controller, this game is an incredible experience at a ridiculously low price, but if you don't, it's just about pointless to buy. Consider the number at the end of this review to be the middle of those two scenarios and apply it to your own situation accordingly...

'Game of Thrones - a Telltale Game Series' Review - There Is Only One Thing We Say to Death

We've been huge fans of Telltale games around here since the massive shift that was the release of The Walking Dead. The quality of their games continued through The Walking Dead - Season 2, The Wolf Among Us and Tales from the Borderlands which is available on Steam but has yet to hit iOS. The contrast between these recent titles and their previous games like Jurassic Park is just incredible to behold, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Game of Thrones - A Telltale Game Series [Free] falls in line with modern Telltale releases instead of, well, their previous works...

Kermorio S.A. is getting literal with their very first iOS release, Wars and Battles[$6.99 (HD)]. This freshman title takes on an epoch of history much beloved, WWII. Specifically it is Normandy in 1944 that the initial spotlight is cast. While I think we can all agree that the mid-20th century has been extensively, and even exhaustively explored, W&B has a pretty unique take on the conflict and high production values also help carry this game. With an aim to roll out a huge amount of content, I have a feeling we will be talking a lot about Wars and Battles in coming months...

Framed [$4.99] feels like the first half of what should be a really good game. It's a title with a great premise: rearranging comic book panels both in order and rotation so that the protagonist in the scene makes it to the end without getting detected by cops or falling to their doom. The cops in the world of Framed were not the academy's best and brightest students, as they don't even turn around for the protagonist running through doors right behind them. "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" is the motto of the Framed Police Department, but good for the characters in this game, all trying to get control of a mysterious briefcase...

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 [$2.99] 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...

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