Category Archives: 4.5 stars

'Tiny Tower Vegas' Review - A Freemium Jackpot

NimbleBit has shown success across a variety of free-to-play titles, but Tiny Tower [Free] seems to take the cake as far as popularity is concerned. When Tiny Death Star [Free] came out last year, NimbleBit’s formula saw some nice improvements but overall we were left with mostly a sprite refresh with some heavy handed IAP incorporated on top of the base gameplay. With the launch of Tiny Tower Vegas [Free], NimbeBit has retaken the reigns back from Disney Mobile and has made what I consider to be the true sequel to its tower building title. Suffice to say, the mini-game improvements combined with a return to the more friendlier NimbleBit IAP approach makes for another awesome F2P from the developer...

'Spooklands' Review - A Smart, Strategic and Challenging "One-Touch" Arena Shooter

Spooklands [$0.99] is so interesting because of its simplicity. As a one-touch arena shooter where firing also controls movement, the game invests in this mechanic, and proves to be an extremely satisfying challenge because of it. And boy is Spooklands tough. Because each shot winds up moving the protagonist around, managing this becomes key. Certainly, it was a challenge in Toast Time [$2.99], the obvious comparison to this game, but that game at least had gravity as a constant mitigating factor. ..

'Deep Under The Sky' Review - A Beautiful Physics-Based Puzzler

Deep Under The Sky [$3.99] is a really fascinating game that winds up being a game that's really fun to play – it has a variety of things to do that are enjoyable to play with in motion, the game is set up to not be frustrating to play, and it makes a lot of its premise by presenting tricky challenges to solve. It does so well at so many things, that while calling a physics-based puzzle-platformer is perhaps the closest approximation of a descriptor for the game, it's got appeal beyond just what those words mean – and it's just so gorgeous and well-made that it's worth checking out no matter what...

'The Wolf Among Us' Review - Red in Tooth and Claw

The first thing that happens in Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us [Free] is that Sheriff Bigby Wolf talks to a toad in a cardigan. The second thing, at least for me, was that he gets beaten to death (twice). Apparent cause of death is an axe handle through the eye socket, but I’m no doctor. That’s a hell of a first impression for the series, adapted from Bill Willingham’s Fables franchise. Fables’ premise—that fairytale characters have come to live in the real-world Bronx—isn’t uncommon: The 10th Kingdom and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods both predate Willingham, and contemporary shows like Once Upon A Time and Sleepy Hollow continue the unevenly handled tradition...

'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 [$3.99] 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...

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