Category Archives: 3 stars

Boshi [$0.99] is one of those games that focuses on delivering a simple but unique core gameplay concept, with little room for frills or extras. It's the kind of game that wouldn't have been out of place in the earlier eras of gaming. It's actually kind of similar to Pac-Man [$6.99] in a lot of ways. You play as a lumberjack, and your goal in each stage is to cut down all of the large trees. Each tree will come down with five good swings of your axe. Wherever it's possible, you'll want to do this without attracting any nearby wolves, who are alerted by your proximity and the sound of your chopping, and will chase you down and kill you if they catch you. Each stage has a set layout, so the trees, rivers, bridges, and so on will be the same each time you tackle a level. The wolves wander around in set patterns, though obviously if you get in a chase with them, they'll end up in different places before wandering back to their original area...

Zombie Commando [$3.99] is the rare premium game without in-app purchases that I think would actually be better if it had them, because with the current structure, it's grinding or nothing. Zombie Commando's premise is like many more before it: kill wave upon wave of zombies. This time, players control an entire team of zombie killers, all at once, across fifty missions...

When it comes to the games business, I'm not sure if there's any task that offers quite the same challenges as trying to convert a series from premium to free-to-play. Generally speaking, the upfront price tag ends up being the main advantage a free-to-play game can tout, with its paid predecessors usually offering a better longterm value for more frequent players. Some types of games have it easier than others, since certain genres almost demand improved visuals and major content updates as time goes by. In the case of a puzzle game, however, it's often hard to get people to buy into a sequel even without changing the deal much. Did anyone really go in for Tetris 2? People are often happy with good puzzle games as they are. Of course, one approach a publisher can take is to pull the previous games in the series, artificially shunting people to whichever version you want them to go to, but outside of that, it can be a minefield, as the creators of Dungelot [$0.99] found earlier this year with the initial blowback from Dungelot 2 [Free]...

When I was younger and even less wise than I am now, I often wondered why there weren't more games like The Legend Of Zelda and Metroid. I mean, they were popular, almost everyone liked them, surely there was some gold in those hills, right? Later, when I actually started thinking about the design behind games, I realized that it's not that people didn't see profit or merit in those types of games, but rather it's that they're a colossal pain in the butt to put together. ..

Transworld Endless Skater [Free] is a game that should be really great. It's essentially the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series, but repurposed as a lane-based endless runner. Sure, that's what Tony Hawk's Shred Session sounds like, but that's more of a simplified experience. And after playing Transworld Endless Skater, I can see why. To try and transplant that formula as closely as possible to a mobile-friendly format is a Herculean challenge, and one that this game mostly fails at...

When I was a kid, nobody ever played solitaire. You would see people playing it in the movies, usually in prison or something like that, but there were a million things more fun to do than play solitaire even if you were alone, such as counting the lines on the carpet pattern. That all changed with the advent of home computers becoming the norm instead of an exception, especially once the Internet started existing in the basic form we know it as today. Suddenly there was all kinds of waiting to do, and a game of solitaire was just a couple of clicks away, no shuffling or cleaning up required. You could even choose the design for the back of the cards! These were the salad days for solitaire. As the Internet and computers themselves became faster, and equally mindless but more colorful timewasters became prevalent, solitaire faded back into the pits from whence it came...

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I think Noodlecake and Massive Damage have just written a crown of sonnets to Candy Crush Saga [Free] publisher King. Like one of its previous releases, Flappy Golf [Free], Noodlecake's latest release, Zombie Puzzle Panic [Free], is a reply to one of the biggest hits of the App Store. While that game took the main mechanic from Flappy Bird and gave it an excellent twist to create something new, Zombie Puzzle Panic is altogether less exciting and almost cynical in its fairly strict adherence to Candy Crush Saga's gameplay. One might say King has earned this, but whatever your feelings are about that company, the result in this case is a game that is almost exactly like Candy Crush, but a little bit worse...

Die-hard Kemco fans, or sufferers as we are known to normal people, know that for whatever reason, Kemco's games usually hit Android before iOS. Typically, the iOS versions lag behind by a month or two, but there have been a couple of instances where Kemco skipped to the next game instead. As of this month, one of those two skipped titles has finally seen release on iOS, some eight months after the Android release. For any other publisher, that's not a very long time, but for Kemco, that's somewhere around eight releases ago, and as a result, Link of Hearts [$0.99] feels a bit outdated in several respects. Well, more outdated than usual, I guess I should say...

Puzzle And Dragons [Free] is a scorching hot hit in many Asian countries, but while it's done quite well in Western countries, it hasn't had quite the same dominance. So, while Eastern publishers are scrambling hand over fist to try to catch a little lightning in a bottle with their own takes on the idea, we actually haven't seen all that many straight attempts from Western publishers. Enter Gameloft, one of the oldest and staunchest supporters of mobile gaming. It's been known for many things in its history: making, shall we say, heavily inspired homages to popular titles, pushing extremely high-quality production values, and recently, making free-to-play games and pushing mandatory online connections. Their latest title, Dungeon Gems [Free], is all of those things wrapped up into one neat little package...

Supernauts [Free] is a curious mix of a game: it's a blend of the well-worn town-building simulation genre and the kind of world-building sandbox crafting gameplay popularized by Minecraft [$6.99] et al. The thing is, the way that Supernauts tries to blend together these two genres it has to take away a lot of what makes them both tick individually...

This is a slightly controversial opinion, depending on one's values, but I personally believe that video game fans have never had it as good as we have it now. Particular genres have ebbed to an extent, as they tend to in this hobby, but I feel like the overall spread of the market is broader and deeper than it's ever been. As the big companies have focused more and more on creating big, expensive productions that dazzle with their beauty and scope, indies have rushed in and filled just about every possible gap you could think of. On top of that, the popularity of deep discount sales across most digital platforms means that not only do we have more choices than ever before, but they're a lot cheaper than ever, to boot. It's truly a buyer's market...

Broken Age [$4.99 (HD)] is an appropriate name for this point-and-click adventure from Tim Schafer's Double Fine, veterans of the genre. The game is about two separate stories that eventually come together, hence the 'broken' part of the name, but it's also about how this game itself is broken into two separate parts: this is part one of two. Reviewing early access games from a critical perspective is hard enough as it is because a game can change so much from even a public release to its completion. But for this game, there's a special challenge because instead of charging for the full game up front like on PC, with clear "early access" distinguishers, this is just being sold as part one, with part two available as an in-app purchase. So, while I feel like part one of Broken Age shows some promise for the eventual whole, as a consumer product in and of itself, where people can buy just part one of the game, it's hard to recommend on its own...

Rolling Zimro [$0.99] is an endless runner with a gimmick. Actually, it's an endless runner with two gimmicks, but one of them is just set dressing. First, and most obviously, this game has a big old coat of recreational drug culture paint covering it from head to toe. The main character is a thinly-veiled pot-farmer, some of the enemies look kind of like bongs, the name of the currency you're collecting is 'munchies', and most of the power-ups are drug references. That's going to be a selling point for some people and a turn-off for others, but personally, I'm kind of indifferent...

These days, developer 5th Cell is most famous for their huge break-out hit series, Scribblenauts. Although that series started on the Nintendo DS, it saw an iOS release more than two years ago in the form of Scribblenauts Remix [$0.99], which still regularly hangs in the top selling paid apps. Offering players a great deal of personal input into solving the game's levels, it's easy to see why it appeals to so many. However, that wasn't 5th Cell's first foray into games that allow players a way to express their creativity. That honor goes to Drawn To Life [$4.99], released in 2007 for Nintendo DS, a platformer that asks the player to draw various objects into the world, not the least of which being your main character. While it wasn't the mega-hit Scribblenauts would become, it was a very successful game that kicked off its own series, and it's now available on iOS courtesy of publisher 505 Games (Terraria [$4.99]) and developer WayForward (Shantae: Risky's Revenge [Free])...

It is the future. The world is governed by a singular authority; a tough motorcylcle-riding all-female police squad named the SXPD. Dark and violent in nature, SXPD [$1.99] is reminiscent of comic series such as Tank Girl or Heavy Metal, perhaps, and is ideal for anyone who wishes to dive into the world of intense high speed chases, rapid gunfire and earth-shattering explosions...

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