Category Archives: 4.5 stars

'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 [$13.99] 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

February 5th, 2016 10:14 AM EST 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...

'Dungelot: Shattered Lands' Review - Chewie, We’re Home

Most people that have seen the new Star Wars movie enjoyed it, but one complaint I’ve seen a lot is that it borrows heavily from the first film, A New Hope. I’ve read that it was intentional, and part of the reason was probably to remind people of how much they loved the original trilogy and help them forget the prequels. And as weird as it may seem, it sort of reminds me of what Red Winter has done with the latest Dungelot sequel, Dungelot: Shattered Lands [$3.99]...

The App Store is pretty much overflowing with games that are trying to capitalize on your nostalgia. It seems like many developers hope that aping familiar art styles and systems will elevate their otherwise amateurish endeavors. There is nothing wrong with making a love letter to a series you enjoyed growing up, don’t get me wrong, but it’s becoming a tired gimmick. Then, a few cool cats from Russia follow the same principle of nostalgia, except like Ivan Drago from Rocky IV, it’s veins are coursing with steroids instead of blood, and you get a game so jam packed with references and tropes that you can’t help but smile. Until the grind kicks in that is. This is Punch Club [$4.99]...

'Dashy Crashy' Review - Full Throttle

'Dashy Crashy' Review - Full Throttle

January 21st, 2016 10:21 AM EST by Chris Carter in 4.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

While deep, engrossing mobile experiences have been somewhat downplayed by the general public, everyone knows that as far as quick fixes go, the platform is king. Dashy Crashy [Free] is yet another take on the success of Crossy Road, all the way down to its monetization scheme, but it's a perfect example of a stop and go game that's easy to pick up and hard to put down...

'Jetpack Fighter' Review - Swoopin' and Slashin'

January 19th, 2016 12:34 PM EST by Chris Carter in 4.5 stars, Action, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

Hi-Rez Studios seems to be diversifying their portfolio. In addition to bringing back Tribes in 2011, they worked on SMITE, the action-oriented MOBA, and now, a rather un-imposing mobile game. I have to say though, if Jetpack Fighter [Free] is indicative of their future imprint on the platform, bring it on...

'Traffic Rider' Review - Stop Riding Those Brakes, AI

Although plenty of racing games existed before mobile, I feel like the advent of iOS and Android devices spawned a whole new era. While it's generally difficult to craft high quality simulation experiences for PC and console platforms, tons of developers are able to create arcade-like games for mobile, often times to great success. This goes for none other than Traffic Rider [Free], which feels like a fully-fledged racer in its own right...

'Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead' Review - A Learning Curve Like A Sheer Cliff, But Great Rewards Await

There are a lot of roguelike games on iOS, but that's going with the more modern definition of the genre. In the years between the earliest days when roguelikes were pretty easy to get into and their recent explosion in popularity correlated with more approachable or hybridized designs, the roguelike was something a lot more complex. It was like a secret club for the most obsessed type of gamer, offering virtually limitless possibilities and options for those who were willing to do a lot more learning than the average game demanded. That particular brand of roguelike is far more rare on iOS, and it's not hard to see why. A touch interface is a poor substitute for a full keyboard, and games of that sort of complexity are probably not what the majority of mobile gamers are looking for. At the very least, compromises have to be made on the granular nature of the player's actions, because the alternatives are having a keyboard's worth of buttons on the screen or using the software keyboard, and what kind of loon would do either of those?..

'Pocket Mortys' Review - Gotta Sedate 'em All

January 13th, 2016 11:45 AM EST by Andrew Fretz in 4.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, iPod touch games, Reviews
Free Buy Now

Pocket Mortys [Free] got announced last week and I think I literally jumped out of my chair in anticipation of reviewing this game. Now that it's out, it's time to go get it already. Adult Swim Games' most recent offering is really amazing and free to boot so you can try it out right now to see a great Pokemon like game right here on iOS...

'Cut the Rope: Magic' Review - I Smell Swipes and Candy

'Cut the Rope: Magic' Review - I Smell Swipes and Candy

January 4th, 2016 11:00 AM EST by Nathan Reinauer in $0.99, 4.5 stars, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

Angry Birds [Free]. There are cartoons, toys, T-shirts, stuffed animals, and even a movie coming soon starring Bill Hader and Peter Dinklage. And you know what? That’s great! Good for Rovio. They made a fun game that connected with lots of people and licenced the crap out of it. For my money, though, I always thought Cut the Rope [$1.99] was a better fit for all that. Om Nom is just a better character, in my opinion. I mean, just look at the way his face drops when that giant round candy misses his mouth! Angry Birds, on the other hand, are… well, they’re angry. Cool. Of course, there is tons of Cut the Rope merch already out there (and apparently a somewhat smaller movie in the works), but it’s nowhere near as much as those darn Birds. It’s a shame, too, because I’ve always thought Cut the Rope was a slightly better game. And in my opinion, Cut the Rope: Magic [$0.99] is the best one yet...

'Snowboard Party 2' - Downhill Jam

1080 Snowboarding, guys. I spent more time playing that on the Nintendo 64 than any other snowboarding game to date. It came out around the time Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater debuted, and I was basically obsessed with “extreme sports” in video games. Not only was it one of the best-looking and smoothest N64 games of its day, it was also ridiculous amounts of fun. Unfortunately, I missed out on the sequel (never had a Game Cube) and somehow missed the SSX craze as well. In fact, the only other snowboarding game I can recall being super into since then is the recent Alto’s Adventure [$3.99], which belongs to a completely different genre altogether. It’s something I hadn’t really considered, but when I first started playing Ratrod’s Snowboard Party 2 [$1.99], I finally realized how much I missed carving down the slopes in 3D while pulling off crazy tricks...

'Groove Planet' Review - Click Track

'Groove Planet' Review - Click Track

December 7th, 2015 12:32 PM EST by Nathan Reinauer in 4.5 stars, Free, Games, Music / Rhythm, Reviews, Time Management, Universal
Free Buy Now

Clearly, Fizzpow and Noodlecake hit on something special with Bitcoin Billionaire [Free]. It certainly wasn’t the first clicker ever, or even the first on the App Store. Still, it seems to easily be one of the more influential of the bunch. Just about every clicker that comes out these days has the same combination of upgrades, investments, random card draws, and opt-in video ads. It’s a great formula, and I’ve sunk an embarrassing number of hours into Billionaire over the last year or so. Still, when I reviewed Muchos Tacos a few months back I quietly decided not to try any more clickers unless one did something new and unexpected. (And sadly, folding tacos instead of tapping just doesn’t do it for me.) In fact, the only reason I downloaded Animoca Brands' Groove Planet [Free] at all was because I didn’t realize it was a clicker. And while it does adhere to the Billionaire formula fairly closely, thankfully it does have one rather novel trick up its record sleeve...

I mentioned recently in my review of Baseball Apocalypse [$0.99] that I love impossible games. One of those games comes from developer/publisher Invictus. Now, Invictus puts out a lot of games, very few of which actually interest me, though they seem to have found their footing in the last couple years. There are a handful of gems in their library that really truly shine. I'm talking the supremely elegant Greed Corp [$0.99], the heavy metal monster mash Tap 'n Slash [Free], and the game that I name dropped in said review, Give It Up! [$0.99]. While the original game grew with a handful of updates, a sequel was being made, and that sequel is pretty magnificent. I give you Give It Up! 2 [Free]. (I'd have gone with something like Give It Up Again! but I digress)..

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