Category Archives: 4.5 stars

'Catchup - Abstract Strategy' Review - Strategy So Good, You Don't Need Condiments

I think the key to a really great strategy game lies in finding the correct balance between accessibility and depth. Not that success can't be found on either side, as the longevity of Checkers and Go prove, but at least for me, I like my strategy games to be fairly easy to pick up but with a nice, long tail of mastery. Fortunately, there are a lot of very clever strategy game designers out there, so I never feel like I go too long without something to satisfy my urges. The latest one to catch me is appropriately named Catchup [$2.99], an iOS version of a board game released a few years back. It's hard to imagine a strategy game with simpler rules than this, but the game still provides a satisfyingly complex punch...

'Rules!' Review - Have Fun Finding The Limits Of Your Memory

Like your body, your brain needs exercise to stay in shape, and the older you get, the more you're fighting nature to achieve that goal. While gamers have no shortage of ways to give their grey matter a good old kicking, we rarely have to push against the limits of our short-term memory. Back in the day, we'd have to remember all kinds of stupid cheat code commands, passwords, and directions to play, but passwords and directions gave way to saves and maps, and cheat codes turned into IAP, removing quite a bit of the strain placed on that part of the brain. I mean, unless you're a hardcore fighting game player. Those guys are pros at remembering phone numbers, I tell you. The developers of the iOS adaptation of Carcassonne [$9.99] have got a new game that will give your flabby memory a workout, though, and it's actually quite a bit of fun...

'Star Realms' Review - Fledgling Developer Delivers a Stellar Experience

The card and board game iOS port market is a land of titans these days. Blizzard and Playdek are monolithic beasts responsible for a huge resurgence of games that traditionally involve holding physical game pieces in your hand. A new star is rising that is edging it's way into this epic struggle. White Wizard Games has brought their Star Realms [Free] to the App Store to challenge deck building games like Ascension [Free]. With a co-creator of Ascension on their staff, White Wizard is on a very familiar playing field. While this single game may not completely dominate the entire landscape, it's absolutely enough to cause a stir with fantastic gameplay that boasts a number of upgrades over it's competition...

'Micromon' Review - All It Needs Is A Micromon Rap

Pokemon clones are by no means a new thing. With as much success as Nintendo's monster-catching RPG has enjoyed, clones are simply an expected part of doing business. They're not even a new thing for iOS. I've reviewed both Hunter Island [$0.99] and Band of Monsters [Free] in the last year, to say nothing of the many Puzzle & Dragons [Free]-inspired games released that borrow liberally from Pokemon. That said, with all of the clones, homages, parodies, and more that I've played over the years, none have skated quite so closely to Pokemon's game design as Micromon [$0.99]. There's little pretense about what they're doing here, with cheeky references all over the place and gameplay that is certainly the spitting image of Pokemon imagined as a $0.99 mobile game. Well, originality isn't everything...

'Deep Loot' Review - A Treasure Hauled Up from the Depths of the App Store

If you've played a Monster and Monster game before, you will probably already be familiar with their ability to turn atmospheric chiptune music and simple yet detailed pixel graphics into a great mood driven experience. Autumn Walk [Free] and Winter Walk [Free] live and breathe on this adorable mood they instill. If you think Deep Loot [Free] is going to give you a similar experience, however, you are going to be in for some surprises at what else the game has in store for you...

'80 Days' Review - This Adventure Is More Than Just Hot Air

If it's not enough that developers inkle turned gamebooks on their heads with their wonderfully creative adaptation of Steve Jackson's Sorcery! [$4.99], they're now trying to out-adventure Jules Verne in his own story. 80 Days [$4.99], based on the classic Verne novel Around The World In 80 Days, takes the nearly-perfect premise of the book and uses it as a launching point for one of the most interesting tales I've come across in the interactive fiction genre. This isn't the kind of game that is going to get people to cross lines if they don't like this genre, but if you do, 80 Days is pretty much a must-have thanks to its sharp writing and incredible replay value...

'Modern Combat 5: Blackout' Multiplayer Review - A New Standard in iOS FPS MP

Gameloft’s Modern Combat series, like the Call of Duty’s and Battlefields before it, is usually a tale of two games. On the single player side, an action-packed (and typically short) adventure with a fantastical story typified the experience while multiplayer is a fast-paced endeavor with plenty of fragging accompanied with some sort of progression system. Modern Combat 5: Blackout [$6.99] fits the bill on the single player side (as evidence by our review), but does a great job expanding the series beyond what’s typically been expected on mobile on the multiplayer side. In fact, when it comes to multiplayer FPS titles on iOS, at this point there’s MC5, and there’s everything else...

'Hellraid: The Escape' Review - First Person Puzzling at its Finest

Folks paying attention to the PC scene may have heard of a soon-to-be-released game called Hellraid. From the makers of Techland, it’s a dark fantasy co-op action title placing players in the role of repelling a demonic invasion. However, in its iOS debut, Hellraid: The Escape [$2.99] doesn’t share the action-oriented approach as its PC and console cousin. In fact, the action is eschewed pretty much in its entirety for a first person puzzler. While this change in genre may disappoint some hoping for something with a bad more action, Hellraid: The Escape offers a pretty impressive experience on iOS...

'World of Tanks Blitz' Review - A Fine Addition To Wargaming's Cannon Canon

Although it's recently become something of a household name in gaming circles, Belarus-based developer Wargaming.net has been around for a while now. For the first several years, it focused on strategy games, both turn-based and real-time, and had modest success within that niche. It finally hit the big time with its release of World of Tanks for the PC, a massively multiplayer online action shooter designed with the strategic sensibilities you would expect from a developer with Wargaming's resume. Initially launched in Russia in 2011, it soon spread across the globe, enjoying huge success in virtually every region it released in. It's a rare free-to-play game that manages to pull in casual players and hardcore alike, with its fair economy, approachable gameplay, and surprising depth...

'Desert Fox' Review - Attempt To Do What The Fox Could Not

Erwin Rommel, also known as the Desert Fox, has got to be one of the more interesting figures of World War 2. For starters, he's a well-regarded man in spite of fighting for Nazi Germany in the war, a rare enough achievement for him to gain distinction on alone. He was an incredibly skilled military commander, demonstrating an uncanny level of strategy, especially in the challenging desert climates of North Africa. His conscience was such that his ultimate downfall only came about because he was part of the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, and even after being discovered, he was allowed to die with some dignity, with his family's safety assured. He was beloved by the people of Germany, highly respected by his enemies, and overall quite the military genius. For those reasons, and more, the world has seen fit to give him one of our highest awards: video games based on him and his exploits...

'Sky Force 2014' Review - A Modern Take On The Mobile Shoot-Em-Up

It's sometimes easy to forget how far mobile gaming has come in such a short time. Not even 10 years ago, people playing phone games were using ill-suited keypads to move sluggish characters around simple environments to fill the time while they waited for the bus. Almost none of the big game companies had their eye on the ball, and that left an opportunity for a bunch of smaller guys to get a lot more attention far more easily than they can today. As an example, just look at Sky Force. Originally released in 2004, developed by a four-person team in Poland, Sky Force's enjoyable mix of 1942 enemy patterns and Raiden-like visuals made it a big winner among early mobile gamers. It later enjoyed an enhanced port to other smartphones, with a choice of tilt or touch-based controls and a lot of features that were interesting at the time, like Open Feint. Like all too many games of that vintage, iOS updates eventually left Sky Force behind, sadly...

'Tales of the Adventure Company' Review - A Fine Tale, Indeed

Seeing a remarkable resurgence on the App Store lately, developers seem to have flocked to the rogue-like to try and create the next cool simplified adventure. Tales of the Adventure Company [$1.99] tackles this trend in a different manner, by combining some of those rogue elements with a traditional, tile-based puzzler’s look and feel. It also succeeds at melding these genres to a degree far higher than most games, making it an excellent combination of puzzle and strategic depth...

'Powerpuff Girls: Defenders Of Townsville' Review - Once Again, The Day Is Saved

Every once in a long while, things converge in this hobby in such a way that I almost feel the resulting game was aimed right at me. I'll confess, I was on top of this game as soon as I saw it was The Powerpuff Girls. I can't explain why watching three super-powered kindergarteners beat the crap out of a hyper-intelligent megalomaniacal talking monkey is awesome. I shouldn't need to. Next, I saw that word used to describe it: Metroidvania. That term gets tossed around a lot, and even though most of the games that invoke it rarely deliver, I'll still show up every time, because I miss Metroid and Symphony-style Castlevania games. Finally, as a ridiculously unnecessary coup-de-grace on the whole thing, I saw that it was developed by none other than radiangames, who have a very fine catalog of games on the App Store, including the recent Fluid SE [$1.99] and JoyJoy [$1.99]. They're a developer I trust enough to buy their games as soon as they appear, no questions asked...

'TwoDots' Review - Connecting Dots Is Still A Beautiful Thing

Joining the vast selection of exceptional iOS puzzle games isTwoDots [Free], the follow-up to Dots, one of last years smartest and hugely addictive puzzle games. Similar to the original title, which has racked up over 20 million downloads, the object of TwoDots is to connect dots of matching colors horizontally or vertically, and also like its predecessor, the best way to clear the level is to find squares of corresponding colors out of the game board in front of you...

'OTTTD' Review - Gives a New Meaning to the Term "Guts and Glory"

We checked out SMG Studio’s Over The Top Tower Defense title (OTTTD) last month and were stoked about its unique take on the genre. With an impressive melding of traditional TD and action-RPG elements, all of my expectations as to what it had to offer were happily exceeded. Indeed, OTTTD [$4.99] not only takes tower defense to a gameplay depth rarely seen for the genre, but it does so with ease, making this an awesome and refreshing update to the classic genre...

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