Category Archives: 4.5 stars

'Pixel Machines' Review - If 'Micro Machines' Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

I really don't think free-to-play is as bad as its vocal haters claim it is, but I totally get that it changes games' structures. Look at something like the soft-launched Micro Machines; if you just wanted a way to play the classic Micro Machines game on your iPhone or iPad, all the games-as-a-service shenanigans might be distasteful. Still, I think you should keep an open mind, but I get it. Change sucks. Thankfully, indie developers who just want to make cool homages to the classics and only charge you once, and small amounts at that, do still exist. Pixel Machines [$0.99] will really strike a chord with Micro Machines fans by being pretty much the same game, but with mobile-friendly and modern features...

'Warbits' Review - War Never Changes

Do you like Advance Wars? The 2001 Game Boy Advance turn-based strategy game holds a special place in a lot of folks' hearts because it was an interesting and accessible game, being the first strategy game that many people played, myself included. Many turn-based strategy games to this day owe a signifcant debt to Advance Wars. Warbits [$3.99] falls well in that category, but it's probably more accurate to say that it's trying to be Advance Wars. It lacks originality, but it doesn't screw anything up on the way, and it's Advance Wars on your phone with online play. I'm not hearing any objections...




'Super Tribes' Review - Global Domination, Bit by Bit

The RTS genre is one I remember fondly. Micromanaging troops and building an empire is an unparalleled joy in some cases. For some titles, it was all about just getting through the day, and taking out an enemy force. But for others, it was about managing an economy, and growing over time to support your people. They’re the kind of games that lend themselves well to short or marathon sessions, where you can just pop in, stress free, and take care of business. The mobile arena is a perfect fit for that type of game, and Super Tribes [Free] is happy to accommodate...

'Exploding Kittens' is a Blast of a Game That's a Couple of Features Away from Being Amazing

How can hurting kittens be any fun? I mean, they truly are the cutest beings ever, and yet here I am reviewing a game called Exploding Kittens [$1.99], which I very much enjoy playing. I suppose it's somewhat similar to playing Cards Against Humanity and making the weirdest, most inappropriate card combos just for laughs. But, I digress. Exploding Kittens is the digital version of the Kickstarter-darling card game with the same name that's gone to break all kinds of records. It's not the most complex card game, but it was never aiming for that; rather, the physical version of Exploding Kittens bet on the cute art combined with the totally inappropriate theme of hurting cute kittens and managed to deliver a quick, fun card game that hits the right balance between being casual and still having enough complexity to keep it interesting after multiple rounds...

'7 Mages' Review - A Magnificent Ode To The Classics

For the first half of my 20 hours and change with 7 Mages [Free], I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. For whatever reason, the game wasn't on my radar at all, and when it released seemingly out of nowhere with gorgeous screenshots and some lofty comparisons being thrown around, I was skeptical. Well, the game has its flaws, but nothing like what I was fearing. 7 Mages is a great addition to the iOS's RPG library, and one that fills a particular niche few other games on the platform do. Its apparent inspirations are numerous, but it's safe to say that if you've got any love for computer RPGs from the late 1980s and early 1990s, you should definitely give 7 Mages a try...

'9th Dawn 2' Review - Jumpin' Hack Slash

'9th Dawn 2' Review - Jumpin' Hack Slash

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March 22nd, 2016 10:30 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $7.99, 4.5 stars, Action, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
$7.99 Buy Now

The original 9th Dawn [$2.99] was released almost three years ago. It didn't look like much, but as long as you could get past the humble presentation, you would have found an open world action-RPG with a scale few other iOS games can match. It had a clunky user interface and for those who prefer a more guided experience with their RPGs, its old-school nature could be off-putting. Personally, I loved the game, as it brought back fond memories of fumbling around in games like Ultima, and the lack of explicit story-telling was often made up for by the provocative world design. The sequel, 9th Dawn 2 [$7.99], has a few useful changes to address issues with the the original game, but for all intents and purposes, this is another heaping plate of the same taste. If you couldn't get enough of the first, you can throw down your money without fear. 9th Dawn 2 won't let you down...

'Tomb of the Mask' Review - A Glorious Retro Dash Fest

One of my favorite childhood games on PC was ZZT. It was a simple adventure game that was solely comprised of ANSI characters, to the point where everything, even the hero, looked like text. It was done so well though that the low-fi angle worked, and even though it wasn't all that impressive even for the time, it was endearing and memorable. That's basically how I feel about Tomb of the Mask [Free], which goes for a very similar retro effect, with similar results...

'Train Conductor World' Review - Freight Control

'Train Conductor World' Review - Freight Control

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March 8th, 2016 12:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4.5 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

Blake Patterson’s review of the original Train Conductor [$2.99] on Touch Arcade remarked that it was “like Flight Control [R.I.P.] on rails”. That’s certainly the feeling I got from playing the latest game in the series as well. Train Conductor World [Free] truly feels like a blast from the past with its central mechanic of routing things around the screen with swipes, as I probably had at least five or six games on my phone back in the day that were heavily inspired by Firemint’s classic airplane game. I can’t remember the last time I played something like that, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun revisiting similar ideas in World. Of course, this is no longer 2009, and the App Store is a very different place now. Can The Voxel Agents’ cute little trains keep up?..

'Thumb Drift' Review - Slip Slidin’ Away

'Thumb Drift' Review - Slip Slidin’ Away

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March 3rd, 2016 9:30 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4.5 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

We here at Touch Arcade don’t usually review the many, many free little arcade games that pop up on the App Store each week. There’s no rule against it, of course, but the fact is there are just too many games, and our time is usually better spent focusing on (slightly) meatier experiences. For example, just last week saw the release of Slingshot Rush [Free], which is yet another fairly shallow little Boombit game like the many others that came before. I actually found it incredibly fun and satisfying to play, but it’s ultimately too simple to fully review. I mean, you hold the screen to swing around corners and it’s really fun. I don’t even think a gimmicky question-and-answer format could stretch that out enough to count as an actual review...

'Patchwork' Review - Greater than the Sum of it's Parts

Patchwork[$2.99] is a very cute game. It has a charming facade of quilty-buttony comfort that is really quite inviting and calming. It's almost a shame that the game is very much a game of cut-throat cold logic devoid of much wiggle room around the fact that the person who can plan ahead best will usually win. The master mind behind such board game greats as Agricola[$6.99] and Le Havre[$4.99], Uwe Rosenberg, followed the pattern with a really great strategic/economic design on this one...

‘_PRISM’ Review - Wouldn’t It Be Nice To Code Together

Several times in my life I’ve fantasized about packing up my guitar and some recording equipment and moving to a remote cabin for a month or so to write and record music. Far removed from the stress, distraction, and responsibility of normal life, I’d be free to put all my energy into crafting the next Sgt. Pepper’s or Pet Sounds. (It’s a fantasy, after all.) Unfortunately, doing such a thing is a luxury most people can’t afford for a number of reasons, which means I’ll have to settle for squeezing my recording sessions into spare hours in the garage like normal...

'Forbidden Desert' Review - A Beautiful Desert Filled With Stories and Deaths

In a way, cooperative board games like Matt Leacock's Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert [$6.99 (HD)] are peculiar animals because for most players, playing a competitive game means competing against other players rather than alongside them. And yet, there are fantastic moments to be had when playing cooperative board games, and Forbidden Desert has plenty of them both because of its mechanics and because of its theme. The race against the ever-strengthening desert storm creates many moments of frustration when salvation is tantalizingly close and yet just out of reach. The port itself initially looks pretty basic, but then, just as the desert you'll be excavating, it reveals layer by layer a very well-made port that uses subtle animations to bring both the players and the desert to life. While the lack of online multiplayer is definitely a pity (hopefully it will arrive in a later update), Forbidden Desert is a great board game port that should offer many hours of mostly short-lived triumphs as you struggle to survive the desert storm...

'Ys Chronicles 2' Review - Adol's Back, And He's All Fired Up

Last May, DotEmu surprised us with an iOS port of Nihon Falcom's Ys Chronicles 1 [$4.99], a PC remake of one of the best action-RPGs of the 1980s, Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished. Aside from a rough job on the English translation, the port came out surprisingly well. While the lack of an attack button has always caused some misunderstandings on other platforms, body-checking enemies into oblivion makes an awful lot of sense on a touch-screen device with no buttons to speak of. The game itself is just as great as it has ever been, with a blistering fast pace and amazing soundtrack that few other action-RPGs can match. The biggest downer of Ys Chronicles 1 is that it ends on a cliffhanger that leads directly into Ys Chronicles 2 [$4.99]. The two games are frequently packed together due to their tight continuity and are best enjoyed as one complete adventure. DotEmu quickly confirmed the second game would be coming to iOS as well, and here we are...

Blue Lola Headphones Review: Good Microphone Maker Also Good at Headphones

Blue Microphones has been most known for their, well, microphones. It's not uncommon to see someone at least somewhat dedicated to higher-quality microphones than built-in setups to be rocking the Blue Snowball or Yeti. Blue has started getting into headphones as well, and their second pair, Lola, is a fantastic entry into the market. The Lola is a bit bulky, but it offers fantastic, balanced sound for the price...

'Adventures Of Mana' Review - The Secret Is Simplicity

Adventures Of Mana [$9.99] is a remake of a classic Square Enix game, something that could be said for more than half of the company's iOS releases. Yet it's quite different from the usual Square Enix remake in that it's positively restrained in how much it chooses to change from the original game. It's especially interesting in light of the fact that said original game, Seiken Densetsu/Final Fantasy Adventure/Mystic Quest (henceforth Final Fantasy Adventure), was a 1991 release for the original Game Boy. On top of that, there was already one high-profile remake of the game, 2003's Sword Of Mana for the Game Boy Advance, which changed and added in a lot of things. Seeing Adventures Of Mana essentially present an early handheld action-RPG without doing much more than re-rendering everything in 3D and cleaning up the translation is certainly unexpected, but it's also most welcome...

'Puzzle Strike' Review - A Great Game With a Few Missed Opportunities

The iOS version of Sirlin Games' Puzzle Strike [$3.99] is a tricky game to review. This is a fantastic game, if you're into deckbuilding games with a high degree of interactivity, and while it plays pretty well on mobile, there are some glaring omissions that detract from what would've been a mobile gem (pun intended). Still, even with issues like a lack of proper notifications and questionable UI decisions, Puzzle Strike is a great addition to the App Store and should more than satisfy those looking for a game that's easy to grasp but can take forever to master. While it definitely shines as a multiplayer game, Sirlin has packed the game with plenty of single-player content too like a pretty strong AI to play against as well as 10 Challenges that will test your skills and help you discover the game's strategic nuances. So, a great deckbuilding game, and a good mobile game, too...

'Circa Infinity' Review - Like a Record, Baby

'Circa Infinity' Review - Like a Record, Baby

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February 5th, 2016 10:14 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 4.5 stars, Arcade, Games, Platform, Retro, Reviews, Universal
$2.99 Buy Now

In our recent review of Super Phantom Cat [$1.99] I remarked that I “wished the developers had been as creative with the platforming genre as they’d been with the art”. I loved the game in large part because of its wonderful presentation, and the solid gameplay was definitely fun despite feeling a bit too safe at the end of the day. And now, immediately after, I have Kenny Sun's Circa Infinity [$2.99] in my hands. It’s striking in that I like the game just as much as Phantom Cat, but my reasons for it are exactly the opposite. The gameplay in Infinity is unlike anything I’ve played before, to the point where I’m not even sure you could call it a “platformer” at all. The game’s presentation, however, is pretty solid but nowhere near as eye-catchingly beautiful as Phantom Cat. None of that should be taken as complaining, though, because I’m sure there are plenty of people who are completely over the moon for the traditional gameplay of the former and absolutely in love the sparse pixel stylings are of the latter...

'Captain Cowboy' Review - Digging Up Nostalgia

Growing up, some of my favorite games were adventure titles. Ones you could just get lost in, exploring an uncharted and dangerous world. There was something so unique about those experiences -- where you had no concept of what to expect, and no knowledge of where to go. It helped prepare me for games like King's Field and the Souls series, and I'm always grateful that developers were making games like that, testing the boundaries of the unknown. That's partially why Captain Cowboy [$1.99] is so great, as it captures the essence of so many of those bygone classics while sticking to a tried and true adventure formula...

'Super Phantom Cat' Review - A Purretty Clawsome Catformer Fur iOS

First off, sorry about that headline. I tried to fight the urge and I failed. Second, if you’re bummed that there’s no Super Mario game on the App Store (yet?), then you should drop what you’re doing and grab Veewo’s Super Phantom Cat [$1.99] right meow. It’s a fairly traditional platformer under the surface, borrowing heavily from Nintendo’s resident plumber, but I have to say--that surface is flippin’ gorgeous...

'Momoka: An Interplanetary Adventure' Review - It Ain't Pretty, But It's Great Fun

From the first time I saw it, Momoka [$6.99] always had me a bit on edge. It looked cool, but something about the game's production values always seemed to leave me feeling like this could be a mediocre game. The visuals felt like they were on the wrong side between ugly and intentional low fidelity. Something about the way characters moved and operated left me feeling like this could be what could be succinctly summarized as a janky game. Janky games are frustrating, because they could and should be great, but often get in the way of themselves with things like bugs, poor controls, and ill-advised design decisions. Momoka certainly flirts with jankiness, and has some rough edges that make it not the smoothest experience ever, no. But it's constructed so well, that its flaws stay out of the way of this fantastic Metroidvania platformer...

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