Category Archives: 4.5 stars

'Ember' Review - Keeping the Old-School RPG Light Burning

When 505 Games and N-Fusion released their old-school inspired RPG Ember [$9.99] last week, there were a few interesting things we noted. First, with a stated longevity of 30+ hours (coupled with no IAP), it’s certainly one of the longest premium RPGs we’ve played in awhile. Second, as a near simultaneous release with the PC version, it’s one of those increasingly rare games where the developer isn’t trying to hide the fact that a mobile version was developed concurrently with the PC version. Both are typically good indicators of a well-made game, and Ember certainly fits the bill. It does an excellent job paying homage to the old-school RPG and its controls make an acceptable transition to touch screen...

'Solitairica' Review - The Solitaire Roguelike Your Grandma Could Enjoy

Solitaire is quite possibly the most popular video game of all time, thanks to the game's inclusion in Windows in particular. Many a bored office worker, student, and grandparent has sunk hours into this classic card game. Now, with games like Card Crawl [$2.99] bringing modern roguelike influence into card games, it seems only fitting that Solitairica [$3.99] should come into existence, bringing something more closely resembling actual solitaire to the solitaire roguelike subgenre. And it promises to steal countless hours of your time, even if you're not necessarily a card game player...




'Sorcery! 4' Review - The End of an Incredible Journey

It's been over three years since inkle released their adaptation of the first book in the Steve Jackson's Sorcery! series. In a lot of ways, that app redefined what players expected from a mobile version of a gamebook. It would have been a far simpler matter for inkle to do the expected thing and do a straight conversion of the original books. They had the engine for it, and the series is well-regarded enough that it probably would have done fairly well. Instead, the developers decided to make something that a physical book would have a hard time approximating, while at the same time appealing to the fairly large overlap between gamebook readers and tabletop gaming fans. The first game mostly relied on a unique presentation and reworked battle mechanics, but the following two games brought more and more complexity to the table. Sorcery! 3 [$4.99] was so near to a full-on RPG that its roots were hard to spot at times...

By now, we all know what to do if a large meteor is on a course to strike the Earth: throw Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, and Steve Buscemi in a rocket loaded with a nuclear bomb, point them at the rock, and let the magic happen. They're our planet's ace in the hole. But what should we do if not one meteor is headed for us, but rather five? Ten? One hundred? Even if you throw in Casey, it's not enough Affleckpower to take care of that many flying chunks of absolute destruction. Such is the nightmare scenario considered by Atomic Super Lander [$2.99], the latest action game from Crescent Moon Games and bitWeird Games...

'Siralim 2' Review - Have Another Scoop of the Good Stuff

No matter how you slice it, making a sequel to Siralim [Free] was always going to be a tough job. The original game is essentially an overstuffed endless pit of RPG joy, densely packed with enough systems, side content, and additional challenges to keep any genre fan busy for dozens of hours or more. In hindsight, it was almost an impossible achievement. It was developer Thylacine's first stab at the genre, and it was extremely unconventional. Mixing elements of monster-catching, base-building, and roguelikes, it was like someone made a delicious Shin Megami Tensei - Romancing SaGa - Rogue sandwich and somehow pulled that blend off with only a few minor hitches. Excellent post-release support ironed out just about all of the game's issues, leaving one to wonder what exactly a sequel could accomplish...

'Mr. Robot: 1.51exfilitrati0n.ipa' Review - Behind a Believable Hacker's Screen Looking Out

Have you played Lifeline? It came out in 2015 and had a very clever concept: it turned one of the primary purposes of a phone - sending and receiving messages - into a game. The game had you talking to a survivor of a spaceship crash and you couldn't do anything but advise him, all the while trying to keep him alive. At its core, Lifeline was a choose-your-own-adventure game, but its use of "real-time" messaging as the main game mechanic made the game feel more like a real-life communication rather than a spreadsheet of choices and consequences. As much as it tried to imitate real life, though, Lifeline was a bit too stilted, the communication never really tricking you into believing that the person on the other side of the fictional line was a real human being...

'Riptide GP: Renegade' Review - Screaming for Vengeance

Vector Unit makes their aquatic racing series bigger and better in Riptide GP: Renegade [$2.99]. The aquatic racing genre is a small one with few new contenders to the Riptide GP [$0.99] throne. Which is easy to see why – there's water physics to contend with, not to mention the challenge of creating engaging courses. Yet, Vector Unit has excelled in this genre, from Hydro Thunder Hurricane to the Riptide GP games. Now with Renegade, they take the series from mobile to console and then back to mobile. And the game is well worth the wait – the formula here is still incredibly strong, with some interesting new iterations to the franchise, and some clear improvements from the console scope of this one...

'Space Marshals 2' Review - It's 'Space Marshals', Too

Pixelbite got a lot right with the first Space Marshals [$4.99]. They eschewed much of what is common in dual-stick shooters on mobile, going with a slower, more thoughtful, stealth-based game. With an array of interesting weaponry and tactics at your disposal, such as using noisemakers to distract enemies to take them out away from the prying eyes of other enemies, it was a cool concept and a fun game. The controls were great for mobile, with MFi controller support, and iCloud to boot. It was not a perfect game, but a great example of how to make an original, stylish title for mobile. Plus, they updated the game with 2 new episodes months after launch. Space Marshals 2 [$5.99] returns and basically is the same game, streamlined with a couple new features, and skipping on the whole episodic aspect to give you 20 beefy levels of tactical stealth action in a space wild-west setting. And like any sequel where iteration is the key difference, it's not bad – this is the superior game – but the lack of surprise can be a bit disappointing...

'Leap of Fate' Review - Jump In

Leap of Fate [$3.99] didn't make a great first impression on me. The opening cut-scene dialogue is ponderous. The aiming feels a little off. The tutorial has a lot of clumsy navigation elements, suggesting there will be some shoveled-in platforming to break up the action. The first time I loaded the game, I played through the tutorial, wondered why Jared was raving about it so much, then switched over to something else. Of course, since I was assigned to the review, I had to come back to Leap of Fate soon. Reviewing games is generally a great job, but one of the few downsides is that you can't always walk away from games you're not enjoying. Sometimes, however, that turns out to be a good thing, and Leap of Fate is one such case...

'Jurassic GO - Dinosaur Snap Adventures' Review - Prehistoric Pokemon Snap

There aren't enough games like Pokemon Snap in the world -- there just aren't, even though it was released nearly 20 years ago. I'd like to think that Nintendo and The Pokemon Company are sitting on the concept, ready with a tiny hammer to smash a glass container somewhere with the code for a mobile edition, but we aren't there yet. Instead, we'll have to deal with the various "tourist" and survival sandbox games we have now, which get us ever closer to that fully realized open world Snap many of us long for. Thankfully, Jurassic Go - Dinosaur Snap Adventures [$3.99] is helping us get one step closer...

'Legend of the Skyfish' Review - Get Hooked on This

The hookshot, a close relative to the grappling hook, is one of my favorite tools in video games. Being able to pull things towards you, or reach faraway points, is just an aspect that is so compelling to me. Now, the number of grappling hook games being so small in number should not be a surprise – Kepa of Rocketcat Games says level design for grappling hook mechanics is really difficult. And considering Super QuickHook [$2.99] is so brilliant, and few games have tried to copy it, that makes sense. But there's such potential in a Zelda-style hookshot with a game being centered around it. Legend of the Skyfish [$3.99] is that game, and it uses the core fun of grappling and pulling from a distance inherent in the tool to make for a solid action-puzzle game in the Zelda vein...

'Heroes of Normandie' Review - This War is Hellishly Good

If you're a fan of strategy games, what is it about them that gets you hooked? Is it the ability to command huge armies and have them engage in long, epic campaigns over huge theaters? Or do you enjoy small, intimate engagements where every unit counts? For me, it's definitely the latter and that's because I like when games tell stories, when my soldiers' actions weave lovely - or painful - narratives that I can then recount and laugh, or cry. Heroes of Normandie [$14.99], the digital port of the Devil Pig Games' board game with the same name, is precisely the kind of wargame that creates stories not only because you usually command a very small number of units over a pretty small battlefield but also because the game is constantly celebrating its inspiration, the classic, bombastic WWII movies like The Dirty Dozen and A Bridge Too Far...

'Journey Below' Review - Started From The Top, Now We're Here

Inexplicably descending a dungeon full of trials, tribulations, and an eclectic cast of evil creatures that are dead-set on causing your avatar's demise - sound familiar? While it's extremely easy to draw parallels to Downwell [$2.99] - and such comparisons are certainly welcome, considering the latter was our Game of the Year Runner Up in 2015 - Journey Below [$0.99] manages to distinguish itself from similar titles through putting its own unique spin on the rock-hard, high-scoring gameplay that is so well suited to mobile gaming. It may not be the most expansive experience, but dig beneath the surface and Ravenous Games have managed to create a surprising level of depth in Journey Below that makes sure it doesn't stop being a highly compelling addition to the dungeon crawling genre...

'Battle Champs' Review - A Great Blend of Ideas

'Battle Champs' Review - A Great Blend of Ideas

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August 4th, 2016 4:21 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 4.5 stars, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Strategy
Free Buy Now

So, here's a juicy secret for all of you: To the best of my knowledge, I'm the TouchArcade staff member who has played Clash of Clans [Free] the least. It probably seems odd that a writer for a major mobile site hasn't played much of one of the most popular games on the platform, and you know, I can't argue with that. I'd like to say it's just because I'm busy covering other stuff, but the truth is, I don't really like games that emphasize competitive multiplayer. While the game has some single-player content, it felt like a complete afterthought and wasn't much fun to play. You might think my lack of Clash of Clans experience would make me a poor candidate to review the Clash of Clans-inspired Battle Champs [Free], but I think it allows me to offer a different perspective on the game. You see, I don't think I'm alone in finding the idea of playing Clash of Clans unappealing in spite of its obvious quality. If you're like me, you might want to give Battle Champs a try. It does an excellent job of extending an olive branch to those who might otherwise shy away from the genre...

'Lanota' Review - You Spin Me Round

Ironically, the very success of the rhythm genre back at Guitar Hero’s launch on home consoles in 2005 was ultimately its undoing. A complete over saturation of the genre in under five years - spanning many different formats, even more spin-offs and unbeknownst amount of instrument-shaped controllers - meant the genre vanished almost as quickly as it had arrived. Rhythm game fans should not be disheartened, however - many developers took this as an opportunity to create well-crafted and unique music titles that were not iterative, and used the best features of the platform to their advantage, instead of relying on plastic peripherals as a crutch. The App Store was one of the delighted recipients of this new wave of rhythm games, and developers like Rayark have led the way with stunning efforts such as VOEZ [Free] that have impressed us in the past for putting a spin on the tired formula without becoming too derivative from the core elements of the genre that attracted so many fans in the first place. Lanota [$1.99] follows this trend - while some of the more radical attempts at distinguishing itself from the crowd can occasionally become a distration, developers Noxy Games have crafted an immersive and beautiful world that makes merely tapping in time to a song become a fully fledged adventure...

Yeah, you read that right. ReRunners: Race for the World [Free] is a massive multiplayer online platformer. Kind of. You never actually see other live players, but the world is populated and alive regardless. And it is freaking outstanding. I have been utterly hooked by this game for the last week. Not only is the actual gameplay smooth, fun, and functional, but the crazy, vibrant, psychedelic world that you’ll explore is almost worth the price of admission alone. Or it would be, if this game even had a price tag. There is a ton of expressive, creative content, with loads of customization options for your character and upgrades. I implore you to read on, my friends, for this is one of the most original games I’ve had the good fortune to be completely addicted to this year...

'Politaire' Review - You Got to Know When To Hold 'Em

I got into poker at a relatively young age. For most kids in conservative families, it's usually the same story -- one of your relatives probably teaches it to you and tries to get you to sip a beer. I carried over my knowledge of straights and flushes into middle school, where I'd compete for candy in the cafeteria and tell faculty and staff we were playing Go Fish. And in high school, like everyone else during the height of the poker craze that seemingly exploded with Rounders, I played for higher stakes. But by my college years, it kind of tapered off a bit, and now I rarely encounter a situation where I can get some hands in. Yet, I've kept all of my experiences bottled in, including all of the statistical probabilities for each hand, ready to dump at a moment's notice. That proved rather useful for Politaire [Free]...

'Combo Critters' Review - Combo Breaker

'Combo Critters' Review - Combo Breaker

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In the fleeting ecosystem that is the App Store, games live and die by the strength of their core concept, and how well the developers are able to execute such pivotal ideas. Owing to the ease of development for iOS, there are innumerable innovative ideas in games - in terms of raw numbers of releases, eclipsing virtually every other platform out there - yet it is still rare to see them implemented with the quality and distinction of Combo Critters [Free]. While it would be easy to draw parallels to Pokemon, and the creature catching action isn’t particularly unique, Lucky Kat Studios manages to shake up the formula enough to stand alone as its own game. By being able to fuse critters together, amalgamated with an incredible sense of charm and whimsy, Combo Critters is an extremely enjoyable experience that has a lot of potential to expand, grow and develop in the coming months...

'Hyperburner' Review - Mad Space Dash

'Hyperburner' Review - Mad Space Dash

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June 27th, 2016 4:25 PM EDT by Chris Carter in $2.99, 4.5 stars, Action, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Universal
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It's hard to recall what the first flight simulator game I played was. I believe it was Wing Commander on the PC, before I graduated on to other space games like the X-Wing and TIE Fighter series, as well as Descent. Either way, it was love at first sight. The cold loneliness of space translated perfectly to the video game realm, and the possibilities were endless since the theme wasn't tethered to any particular planet or rules...

'Rule with an Iron Fish' Review - Good ol' Fishin' Without IAP Bait

In a sea of ad-based gaming, currencies upon currencies, and premium purchases, it's fun to find a game every so often that abandons that entirely. Sometimes, a game itself is a premium purchase, bestowing everything, from content to opportunities, with reckless abandon. It's a model that isn't exactly popular with each passing year, but one that still exists -- and the developers of Rule with an Iron Fish [$2.99] have executed it wonderfully...

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