Category Archives: 4 stars

Nitrome is a company with a very fascinating output, as they have roots as a Flash game company with a particular pixel art style, and Flash games have always felt to me like they straddle a line between being casual-friendly but also maintaining that appeal to core, dyed-in-the-wool gamers. As such, their mobile games definitely have that casual feel while still being ones that core gamers should enjoy as 'real games'. And Magic Touch - Wizard for Hire [Free] is perhaps their best effort at being casual yet gamer-friendly. It's got touch-friendly controls, but very quickly ramps up into an incredible challenge to face down...

There's an inherent joy in playing around with physics. In life, some of our earliest interactions with the external world involve playing around with physics to get a feel for the rules of reality. Even as fully-grown, educated, theoretically wise adults, we still get the urge to use our coffee spoon to launch the creamer at the person sitting at the table on the other side of the restaurant, just to see if we could. For a long time, games weren't terribly good at recreating satisfying physics along with all the other bits we tend to want in a game. There just wasn't enough computing power, time, or resources in general, and it wasn't a high priority. I maintain to this day that the reason Sonic The Hedgehog hit as powerfully as it did was due more to its solid physics engine than anything else. Any old character can go fast, but Sonic not only made us work for it, but also let us see the consequences of that speed. It wouldn't be until several years later that putting realistic physics into a game became a popular thing to do, but once it did, it broke things wide open...

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Swap Heroes [$0.99] was a solid game that combined a strategic quick-play focus with plenty of RPG elements. Swap Heroes 2 [$2.99] does pretty much the same thing - it's the same gameplay, where one hero dying means game over. There are a new set of heroes with new abilities to use, but largely balanced in similar ways. The changes here are structural, and that's not a knock on Swap Heroes 2: it's kind of like when a band releases an album a year after their previous one. It's not a huge jump, but you can often tell where refinements and improvements exist, and Swap Heroes 2 is just a better game...

'Daytona Rush' Review - Endless Racing

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February 17th, 2015 3:00 PM EST by Eric Ford in 4 stars, Free, Games, iPhone games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
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As we’ve state before, it’s a tough gig to be an endless runner on the App Store. Nearly all are simply reskins of the same type of gameplay, requiring standouts to either significantly alter the formula (and risk losing that aspect that makes them so appealing) or offer a novel theme to that counteracts what is other standard gameplay fare. Daytona Rush  [Free] is clearly in the latter category with a pretty novel and well implemented theme of stock car racing. When combined with its (thankful) utter lack of IAP, good leaderboard support and great production values, Daytona Rush may be an endless racer worth trying...

I love the idea of Adventure Time Game Wizard [$4.99] because of the power of its license. Pixel Press Floors [Free] was cool technology, in the way that it let people sketch out levels on paper using a system of glyphs, and then take a photograph to scan them into the game. It's a remarkably cool tech and idea. But really, the greatness of the idea and its reach was somewhat limited by the new intellectual property and the limitations that Pixel Press had in terms of PR and reach on the App Store. Thus enter Cartoon Network. The kids love them some Adventure Time. So, why not combine that license and the Cartoon Network marketing muscle with the latest Pixel Press tech? What is here is not just a competent platformer, but an incredibly powerful creation tool that I think could be really great because of the way that it opens up creation to a young audience in an accessible way...

Much as I love it, I have to admit that video pinball is a very, very strange thing. They're sort of like those homemade recipes for Ecto Cooler that you can find around the internet: a shadow of the real thing, an attempt to replicate an incredibly tactile but now nearly-extinct experience. For most people, there haven't been any pinball tables around their locale since Clinton was in office. I wouldn't be shocked if many of our readers have never laid eyes on one in their lifetime. But for those of us who love them, if we can't wrap our fingers around a real machine and build the callouses on the palms of our hands by slamming them into the side of a wooden box to nudge a steel ball a half-centimeter off its course, we'll take what we can get. We'll take the video pinball. Because even though there's an unquestionable component of the game intrinsically tied to physical sensations, the games themselves have strong merit on their gameplay. The lights and sounds pulled us in, but the gameplay is what kept us coming back...

I admit, when I first played Radical [Free] from BeaverTap Games, I was a little disappointed that the team that made the wonderful Mikey games were aiming a bit lower with this game. But really, the more time I spent with it, the more I found that they had made a clever game that lived up to their standards while at a smaller scale in terms of design and visuals. That they made a smaller game like this was interesting enough to me – and I think that in part from the fact that it's made by interesting developers who know how to make a game, the game is well worth checking out...

Ever since it’s unveiling over two years ago, Midnight Star [Free] has had some lofty expectations thrust upon it. One consistent theme we’ve heard since its announcement was a promise for a control scheme reimagined for touch-based input. As the game slowly soft launched we realized that such a reimagining would also come with a free-to-play system for monetization. With its worldwide launch last week, we’ve finally had a chance to check out both its claim for improved controls as well as test out its freemium elements. After some extended time with this first-person shooter from Industrial Toys, I came away impressed with the controls and the amount of content offered, but was left lamenting its free-to-play elements...

Evoland [$4.99] is an odd experience. It's packed to the brim with genuine enthusiasm for my favorite genre and many great games of that genre and outside of it. Like an experienced stage magician running through his act, it has a brilliant set of tricks that it cleverly lays out one after the other, upping the ante each time to maintain your awe and excitement. At first they come at breakneck speed, not unlike the progress of gaming technology itself. After a half hour or so of this, the designers must have realized that they had to space out their remaining cards so that the game wouldn't be finished too quickly. Things slow down. They ride out the previous trick for a while, perhaps too long. Then, having exhausted their bag of tricks and understanding that even a patient audience can get restless, things come to a swift, sweet finish. Evoland is too short at times and too long at others...

Kairosoft makes a lot of games. Rather, I suppose they made a lot of games and have been diligently porting them over to smartphones ever since. They're not bad games. If you happened to be trapped in an elevator for a couple of days with one, you might not even notice you didn't hit your floor. That said, they are extremely similar to one another, relying on the same few templates spread across every single job anyone ever had or will have. It wears on you after a few games, especially if you fall into a row of their building simulations. I've often said that any given Kairosoft game is going to be amazing if it's your first and mind-numbing if it's your fifth. The sad thing in all of this is that the template that brought them to the dance, so to speak, is the least-recycled of them all. Game Dev Story [$3.99] put Kairosoft on the international map years ago, and the biggest request everyone has made since is for a sequel. Kairosoft marches to their own beat, though, and that beat apparently dictates that there shall be only one Game Dev Story per Halley's Comet appearance...

There are a lot of issues with Heroes Of Might & Magic 3 HD [$9.99 (HD)], the spiffy remaster of the 1999 classic PC strategy game. The control layout has done little more than map things directly from keyboard and mouse to touch, with not much in the way of explanation of the intricacies, even in the tutorial. There's significant content missing in the form of the two expansions, which will not be coming to this version due to the source code being lost. The map editor found in the original game and the PC version of this HD remaster is not included in the iPad version. The updates are few in number, with just a bit of spit-polish done on the sprites and text to make them look a little less pixelated. These are all good reasons to pass on Heroes Of Might & Magic 3 HD, especially if you have a computer, where you can buy and play the complete version of the game with all expansions included for the same price...

DeNA continues their strange new pattern of releasing iOS versions of PC indie games under new names with Yet It Moves [$0.99], probably the most famous of the batch so far. Originally titled And Yet It Moves, it was first released on PC back in 2009 before making its way to WiiWare, of all places, in 2010. It received a fair bit of praise back then for its clever take on platforming and unique presentation. Here in 2015, it's not quite as unusual as it once was, but its strong level designs and good pacing make it a game still well-worth checking out...

Craft the World - Pocket Edition[$6.99] is a sandbox crafting game from Devokir Entertainment very much in the vein of Terraria[$4.99] and Starbound. The side view perspective works amazingly well and with multiple characters to control, it very much resembles an interactive any colony...

Last year when I reviewed TouchMint's Adventure To Fate [$2.99], I suggested in the review title that if the game were boiled down much more, there wouldn't be anything left. Apparently, the developer took that as a thrown gauntlet, because the follow-up to the game, Adventure To Fate: Battle Arena [Free], manages to trim the concept down even more. Remarkably, it does so without losing any of the things that worked well in the first game, making for a more smartly-paced game all-around. Fans of the original title should be very pleased, while those who felt that it was a bit too grindy might be happy about certain cuts. Don't be alarmed by its free price tag, it's one of those good ones that makes you wonder how the developer plans on making any money...

Satellina [$1.99] tries to apply a minimalist veneer and an arena-survival touch to the speedrun genre, and while its challenges are small in nature, there's fun to be had here. The goal is to move your X avatar around an arena full of green, yellow, and red particles. The green particles are the ones you must collect, with the yellow and red ones killing you, and forcing you to start the level over. However, those yellow particles turn green once all the green ones are collected, and the red ones turn yellow, and so on. The game is structured with 10 different sets of 5 levels, where you must try to beat the set as quickly as possible. As a completion game, it's not much, as everything can be tackled through sheer force of will, so this is primarily for speedrun fanatics. There is a clever progression structure where multiple level paths open up as you complete different level sets...

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