Category Archives: 4.5 stars

'DropMix' Review - Music and Cards Make for An Awesome Board Game

With the physical instruments scene long past peak popularity, the folks over at Harmonix, in conjunction with Hasbro, have moved on to something that’s quite a bit different from the Boston developer’s previous games. DropMix [Free] is a physical board game that’s a delightful mix of approachable card-based gameplay combined with amazing music the Harmonix pedigree. Sure, the gameplay is a little basic, and like music games some of your enjoyment is based on your love of the music included, but damn if it isn’t simply fun to play with other people...

'REKT!' Review- A Flipping Fun Stunt Driving Game

I have been driving around my 2001 Chevy Cavalier ever since I was 15. Its golden color makes it shockingly ugly to the eye but my old "clunker" has faithfully served me well over the past couple years. However, it would not survive in the sandbox arena of REKT! [$1.99]. REKT! is an arcade stunt driving game where you traverse an open course in a variety of different vehicles, all while performing various stunts and maneuvers...




'Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice' Review - A Strange World Where Lawyers are Hated

I wasn't the biggest fan of the previous Ace Attorney game, Dual Destinies [$0.99]. While it wasn't the worst game in the series by any stretch, it felt too much like an apologetic reaction to the backlash from Apollo Justice [$0.99]. It's clear from the end of that game that there were major plans for Apollo's story, plans that had to be changed or scuttled to accommodate the fans' demand for the return of Phoenix Wright as the chief protagonist of the games. Phoenix Wright himself had to have significant character development rolled back, as well. On their own, these aren't necessarily bad things, but Dual Destinies never really justifies that sacrifice. It doesn't want you to forget Apollo, of course. He's a major part of the game's plot, after all. But it does want you to forget any and all of the plot threads that they had been building around him, hoping you'll treat him like a second banana Scrappy Doo so that Phoenix can strut his stuff as the main underdog once more...

'Aka to Blue' Review - Red and Blue and Awesome All Over

It has been a bittersweet couple of months for fans of iOS shoot-em-ups. The removal of 32-bit support in the latest version of iOS effectively took out a swath of stunning games in one fell swoop, most notably the entire library of amazing arcade ports of Cave's games. On the positive side, the latest in the Danmaku Unlimited series released, and it was every bit as incredible as we could have hoped. Well, we can chalk another one up for the angels with the international release of Aka to Blue [$7.99], a brand-new bullet hell ballet from Tanoshimasu, a small developer founded by ex-Cave staff. The team's pedigree shows. This game could easily slide into Cave's line-up without much effort, even if it's not quite as rich in extras as some of their mobile ports...

'The Witness' Review - Lost in a Maze

'The Witness' Review - Lost in a Maze

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September 21st, 2017 5:00 PM EDT by Rob Funnell in $9.99, 4.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$9.99 Buy Now

From the outset, The Witness [$9.99] is a video game that defies convention. After a loading screen that suggests ‘for the best experience, use headphones’, you immediately awaken in a dimly lit underground tunnel, amidst deafening silence. No title screen, no contextual introduction, no long-winded tutorial - in The Witness, you’re simply left to your own devices, and the curiosity that such a brazen start instills in the player serves as the primary catalyst to explore its luscious, vibrant and expansive environments. This core ethos permeates into every inch of The Witness, whether it’s solving puzzles, navigating complex terrain or attempting to work out how to access a seemingly out of bounds point of interest, and its respect for the user is one reason why the game received such universal critical acclaim upon its console release in 2016. However, the hands-off approach that is fundamental to The Witness’s identity is also its biggest source of frustration and, because of Thekla, Inc.’s impressive efforts in emulating the experience on mobile devices, a flaw that is as prominent as ever in the iOS iteration of the game...

'Drag'n'Boom' Review - Being the Khaleesi on Drogon in 'Game of Thrones'

Ankama's Drag'n'Boom [Free] couldn't have come out at a better time because what better time to come out with a game where you're a dragon than right after a big Game of Thrones season where Drogon, the biggest of the dragons, got to burn quite a few people on the ground. And this game really makes you feel like a dragon, burning everything in your path and pulling off some really fun combos by, well, shooting your enemies again and again. The only thing missing from this game is a bigger enemy variety to fill the game's 50 levels, but even with the enemies it has, Drag'n'Boom is a really entertaining platformer that controls great and lets you feel like a bad-ass...

'Tales of the Tiny Planet' Review- A Refreshingly Simple Physics Puzzle Game

The App Store has come a tremendously long way since its humble beginnings in 2008. It was the first time that Apple had officially introduced the distribution of third-party applications on its platform. It was an exciting time and many developers were taking their first steps in exploring the possibilities of gaming on iOS devices. I can recall numerous games from this time that had extremely simple mechanics, yet their simplicity was their greatest strength. Since then, the App Store has continued to acquire an insane amount of games, especially in the physics puzzler genre. Physics puzzle games may have gradually become more complicated overtime, but Tales of the Tiny Planet [$1.99] hearkens back to the aforementioned era of physics puzzle games that were purely simple and fun...

'STANDBY' Review- A Brutally Difficult Precision Platformer That's Tremendously Rewarding

As a child, my first forays into gaming involved me experiencing many platformers on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. I loved the difficulty and the learning-curve of certain platformers, such as Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World, Earthworm Jim, and the Super Star Wars series. Sometimes I blow the dust out of my old cartridges and fire up my trusty Super Nintendo in order to take the games of my childhood for a nostalgic spin. I have no idea how I beat some of those games so quickly back when I was a child. They were pretty dang hard back then, and they still are now. Anyways, there have been many additions to the platforming genre on the App Store which continue to fuel my life-long love for them, and that includes the recently released STANDBY [$3.99] by HypeTrain Digital...

'Strike Team Hydra' Review - Trading Walking Guns for Regular Guns

Wave Light Games came virtually out of nowhere with the excellent tactical RPG Demon's Rise [$7.99] a couple of years ago. Perhaps more impressively, the small developer updated the game frequently, responding to player feedback to hammer out many of the game's dents and rough edges. All of that work paid off when Demon's Rise 2 [$7.99] was able to launch last year in a much more polished form than its predecessor. Naturally, that game got more than a few updates as well. One problem that sequel faced was that the original game was updated so often, the sequel had trouble distinguishing itself, an issue that likely would have afflicted a third Demon's Rise had that been Wave Light's next project...

'Bottom of the 9th' Review - Handelabra Knocks the Cover Off the Ball

Handelabra Games, known for their digital adaptation of the cooperative tabletop card game Sentinels of the Multiverse [$6.99], has a brand-new offering in the App Store. This time they've tackled the dice-rolling baseball game Bottom of the 9th [$4.99], yet another tabletop to digital transformation. As the name suggests, Bottom of the 9th focuses on the pivotal final half inning of a tied ball game. The scrappy, overachieving home team is surprised to find themselves on the doorstep of victory against the powerhouse visitors and are hoping to pull out a win by scoring a run. They know they had better do it in this half inning because they lack the steam to hang with the big boys in extra innings and would most certainly lose. It's baseball distilled to its central idea—the duel between pitcher and batter...

'Follow.trail' Review - Find  Your Trail to Victory and Fun

I'm a big fan of puzzle games. They are the perfect genre for quick play sessions on a phone while out and about or during brief stretches of downtime at work or at home. I'm constantly on the look-out for fun new titles to add to my collection for this very purpose and am pleased to be able to mention follow.trail [$2.99], a path-clearing puzzle game released just last week. In follow.trail your goal is simple: Eliminate a series of squares from a rectangular game board on your way to the exit. You do this by following a trail of dots, represented by what look like standard game dice with one, two, or three dots. Each time you land on a die you reduce the number of dots on that die by one. When all dots are gone the die disappears, leaving a blank space on the rectangular game board. Your path must move over all the dice in a level enough times to eliminate them on your way to the checkerboard die that serves as the exit for each level...

'Fighting Fantasy Legends' Review - Nomad Successfully Passes their Skill Test

Given their importance both in RPG history and in the memories of many players, it's not surprising that Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson's Fighting Fantasy gamebooks have been adapted into many different kinds of video games over the years. Some of them simply did the obvious, turning the books into text adventures. More often than not, however, the developers would get creative, turning out everything from first-person action/adventure games to Tomb Raider knock-offs. As a fan of the books, I ended up trying out most of these games as they released, and I can say that the main thing they had in common was that they weren't very good at all. Then smartphones and tablets came along, and all of a sudden, Fighting Fantasy games found their feet. Fighting Fantasy Legends [$4.99] continues that bout of good fortune, offering an awesome new take on the classic gamebooks...

'Hades' Star' Review - Explore, Expand, and Fight Your Way to Galactic Dominance in this Space Based MMO

Take command of an expedition to the distant Hades galaxy in space-based MMO Hades’ Star [Free]. A futuristic gold rush kicked off when scouts returned with word that the newly discovered galaxy was full of profitable planets to colonize, asteroids to mine, and money to be made and you’re right there with the pack...

'Motorsport Manager Mobile 2' Review - Racing at a Whole New Level

The original Motorsport Manager was a very entertaining racing game that I played quite a lot, initially at least. While the racing part was fun—even though I sometimes felt that my choices didn't have much of an impact—the lack of long-term driver development made each season feel insulated from the rest, which blunted my desire to play through multiple seasons. Still, the game was accessible to those who weren't that much into motorsports and good-looking enough to draw the attention of people just randomly looking at my phone screen. As one of the first motorsport management games on the App Store, Motorsport Manager definitely entertained, and I'm happy to say that Motorsport Manager Mobile 2 [$3.99] (MMM 2) has improved the original formula (pun intended) and turned it into a much more substantial game with a lot more fuel in the tank, despite some relatively small issues...

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it? Two and a half years have passed since I was delightfully surprised by Lowlander [$1.99], the cool Ultima 2 homage from developer Flat Black Films. The game did a great job of capturing many of the things that made the early Ultima games fun while simultaneously sanding off a few rough edges in consideration of the platform and the passage of time. While players might have expected a sequel to the game to look to Ultima 3 for inspiration, the game's developer instead opted to deliver a slightly more refined, much larger adventure in a similar mold to the first game. That left me hemming and hawing a bit about doing a review, as it feels a bit like reviewing a foot-long meatball sub after I already reviewed the six-inch. Did you like the six-inch sub? Do you want a lot more of it? If so, here you go...

Despite their intriguing stories and clever use of IPs, Telltale's games have been a mixed bag on iOS primarily because of technical issues. While most of the series were either fine or at least playable, Batman: The Telltale Series left a pretty bad taste on players' mouths because it was pretty close to unplayable on more than one instance. Well, I'm glad to say that Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series [$4.99] (from now on Guardians of the Galaxy) plays just fine on my iPad Air 2, despite a couple of very brief—but unobtrusive—stutters. I don't know if this means Telltale has tinkered with the engine enough to make it work well or Guardians of the Galaxy was just less demanding than Batman; what matters is that Episode 1 of Guardians of the Galaxy should play fine on most of your devices. I will be reviewing the whole series, so expect the review score to change as more episodes release...

'Street Fighter IV Champion Edition' Review - A Classic Mobile Fighter Gets a Fresh Coat of Paint

For being arguably the most well-known fighting game franchise in the world, Street Fighter has a pretty weird history on mobile. If you're interested in a bit of that history, well, read on my friends. If you're here just to read about the nuts and bolts of the Street Fighter IV Champion Edition [$1.99] which just dropped in the App Store, then skip on down to the sixth paragraph for more on that. Anyhoo, touchscreens have always been a sticking point when it comes to gaming on mobile devices. In the best of cases they have caused developers to think outside the box and invent new and exciting input methods for playing games sans physical buttons. For the most part though, bringing traditional console and arcade style games to mobile meant dealing with virtual buttons overlain on the screen. And fighting games have always been ALL about button inputs. It didn't seem like the best genre to try and bring to touchscreen devices...

'Epic Little War Game' Review - Back to the Trenches

It feels like Rubicon's War Game series has been all over the place. Great Little War Game [$0.99] was an accessible turn-based strategy game packed with content and a cheeky sense of humor. Its follow-up, Great Big War Game [$0.99], went for a bigger scale and added in online multiplayer. The next game in the series was Great Little War Game 2 [$0.99], which went for a more streamlined experience with portrait orientation, smaller levels, and no multiplayer at all. It was a fun game taken on its own merits, but it was somewhat of an underwhelming entry for the series to go out on. Well, here we are three years later, and it looks like the General isn't ready to hang up his pants yet. Epic Little War Game [$0.99] is here, and if you were one of the people who wished the last game was more fully-featured, you're going to be very happy with this one...

'Monument Valley 2' Review - Mother and Child Reunited

The first Monument Valley [$3.99] was a landmark game on the App Store, a title that brought a fascinatingly gorgeous experience to mobile gaming. Yet, I thought there was something lacking from it: it wasn't a particularly difficult game as far as challenge goes, and while the story had some poignant moments, its abstraction perhaps was too disaffecting from the story the game wanted to tell. But certainly, critics of the game are in a notable minority, as the game has become one of the top-selling mobile games of all-time, spawned many imitators, appeared on House of Cards, and caused many people to fall in love with the characters from the game. So the sequel Monument Valley 2 [$4.99] is in an unenviable position where it has to try and recapture that magic of the original. And to a certain extent, it does: it's still a gorgeous game, and Ustwo are the masters of their craft at putting Escherian impossible geometry into a game experience. As a delivery vehicle for some gorgeous colors and landscapes, Monument Valley 2 is once again a success. As a game, and even at times as a story, Monument Valley 2 falls a bit short...

'Arkanoid vs Space Invaders' Review - After Seeing the Movie "Pixels," I Guess This Mash-Up Makes Sense?

Early this morning, Square Enix unveiled to the world the latest and greatest thing they've been working on in arena world of mobile gaming. If you're thinking, "Oh, neat, you mean they updated all their old Final Fantasy ports to 64 bit?" Well, that'd be nice, but today's news is in the form of the somewhat confusing release of Arkanoid vs Space Invaders [$4.99], a mash-up, which I suppose totally makes sense in a world where Adam Sandler's Pixels can rake in just shy of $245 million dollars at the box office. As the title indicates, the Arkanoid and Space Invaders universes have been duct taped together in a way that actually works quite well and, despite what I thought initially, makes a strange amount of sense...

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