Category Archives: 3 stars

'Super Monkey Ball Bounce' Review - Super Monkey Peggle

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September 9th, 2014 8:58 AM EDT by Eric Ford in 3 stars, Free, Games, Puzzle, Reviews
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We’ve been keeping tabs on Sega’s Super Monkey Ball Bounce [Free] since we first heard about its soft-launch back in May. While a pachinko (*cough* Peggle) experience with SMB characters probably isn’t what most would think about in regards to a new game in the series, the thematics and execution make Bounce a pretty fun game to play. Unfortunately, enjoyable gameplay can’t fully make up for the incredibly annoying (and occasionally heavy-handed) use of freemium elements...

After playing Colorbs for a few minutes and going back to the home screen of my iPhone, everything looked so much more boxy that I thought Apple had done a stealth UI update or something. That is probably the most interesting thing I can say about Colorbs [Free], a very minimalistic puzzle game from One Minute Games, who previously brought us the well-liked Commander Pixman [$1.99]. The game pulls in elements from many staples of the genre such as Puyo Puyo and Panel de Pon to create something mostly familiar but with a few little twists to set it apart. It's all packaged up in a terribly bland presentation that leaves the game feeling just a little bit too lifeless...




Multi-platform Cold War stealth game CounterSpy [$4.99] has snuck into the app store just scant weeks after it was released on it's other platforms. This is not Sony's first foray into the wonderful world of iOS. As a port of a game designed for more than one platform, you can expect production value to be quite high. Once you get past the face of this title, however, there are some serious hurdles to clear if you are looking to draw out some enjoyment...

You might recall that with The Walking Dead: Season One [Free], we did something of an unorthodox review due to the episodic nature of the game. There was a basic overview that was appended to with a review of each episode as they released, with the score adjusting appropriately. As it worked pretty well last time, we'll be doing the same thing here. I'll do my best to avoid any serious spoilers for the current season, but I'm going to talk frankly about the first season, so if you haven't finished it yet, consider yourself warned about possible spoilers...

Nitrome's 8bit Doves [$2.99] is a game that will try the patience of players. It has challenging physics to contend with, but is also structured in a way that really impedes the replay value of this challenging action game. The goal is to control a flying hero through dreamscape levels, turning clockwise and counterclockwise to control him through the skies, contending with trying not to crash into the walls or other occasional moving hazards. As well, doves fill the levels: collecting these is an objective tracked by the game, but not inherently necessary to completion. Flying in the general vicinity of the doves is all that's necessary to collect them, a fine concession from a game that is difficult to control...

I've played a lot of free-to-play RPGs, and they all tend to have the same strengths and weaknesses. That's probably due to most of them being inspired by the model used in the popular Puzzle & Dragons [Free], following its formula as closely as possible in hopes of achieving similar levels of success. Now, I like that game quite a bit, but even I'm getting a little tired of getting into a new game only to see the same old mechanics powering it. There must be other effective ways to monetize your puzzle RPG besides monster-collecting and stamina meters. Spellfall: Puzzle RPG [Free] takes a different approach, avoiding many typical elements such as multiple currencies, drawing random monsters, and nudging you to expand your inventory. Unfortunately, the game also has its own take on the stamina meter concept that seems on paper like it would be better, but in practice doesn't quite work out...

Ask M. Night Shyamalan: When you strike it big by giving people an amazing swerve, it's incredibly hard to follow it up in a way that will please that audience. You either give the people the twist they're expecting from you, totally losing the purpose of a twist, or you play it straight and leave out the reason why people are probably into you in the first place. That's the unfortunate position developer Amirali Rajan finds himself in with The Ensign [$0.99], an attempt to build on to the story found in the underdog hit, A Dark Room [$0.99]. If you didn't play that game but plan to, you should stop reading this review right about here unless you want to be totally spoiled, and you really shouldn't want that...

In a burst of stunning pixel art and a flourish of chip tunes, Sunny Side Games has landed on the app store with The Firm [$0.99]. This developer has strong momentum with follow up game Towaga already in the works. From a glance at their site, you can see their commitment to visual presentation, the only question is do their games live up to the fanfare that is on display...

I’m a big fan of the Kairosoft-esque simulator so when I heard that a 3D simulation title made in similar fashion and taking place in the music industry was in the works, I was a bit a intrigued. Alas, while TourStar [Free] succeeds in conjuring up some of the basic formula elements that make such games its incredibly basic approach leaves a bit to be desired. Even more unfortunate, the few facets that differentiate it from other games (namely the ability to purchase contest entries for actual concert tickets with in-game currency) don’t seem to be ready for primetime, limiting the actual appeal it may have for curious gamers...

At times, it's hard not to anthropomorphize Kemco as that student who is always in such a rush to turn in their assignment that they cut every possible corner. This behavior is particularly evident in the works of developer Hit-Point, who have so much potential that seems to get thrown under the bus in favor of churning out a half-dozen RPGs per year. Rusted Emeth [$3.99] is, sadly, a near-perfect example of both what Hit-Point does well and what they do poorly, another strike against my hopes of seeing this developer actually have some time and money for their projects. They're trying so hard to do something new, but on the way, they're making more sloppy mistakes than ever before...

'Assault Vector' Review - Drawing a Bead on Turn Based Strategy

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August 11th, 2014 12:26 PM EDT by Andrew Fretz in 3 stars, Reviews, Strategy
$1.99 Buy Now

I don't usually hold two games up together in a straight comparison, But I have been struggling to separate the differences that can make PKSArena's Assault Vector [$1.99] shine out in contrast to Hoplite [$1.99]. I am a sucker for turn based strategy and I was not surprised that Assault Vector was a blast to play, but in the back of my mind I realized that a comparison would invariably shade my perspective. Although I was ultimately able to find a unique experience in Assault Vector, the depth of that difference is a tad shallow...

Boshi [Free] 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 [$1.99] 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 [$3.99] 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...

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