Category Archives: 4 stars

In Cityglitch [$2.99], a new puzzle game in app stores now, the world is filled with haunted cities full of glitches—strange, irregular, and dangerous beings that torment the residents. It falls on a red-headed protagonist to fly through each city from rooftop to rooftop and light runes in order to conduct a magical ritual that will free each city from their glitches. Naturally you play as this protagonist and must solve a puzzle to light each rooftop rune. Each puzzle takes the form of a five-by-five grid. One or more of these spaces will be occupied by pink oblong circles which are the runes of that rooftop. When your protagonist steps on a rune it will light up becoming two oblong circles, one nested within another. Your goal is to light up all of the runes...

Egglia: Legend of the Redcap [$9.99] is an example of a game that betrays expectations to its own detriment. Because the development team consists of some key people who worked on Square's Mana series, the game's look and marketing might give you the impression it's a similar game. It's not. The game carries a relatively high price tag and no IAP, factors which usually point to a more traditional gaming experience, but Egglia also requires you to maintain an online connection and deal with a lot of timers and social RPG elements. On a fundamental level, you might look at the game's previews and screenshots and think you're getting something along the lines of a standard JRPG. But it's not that, either. Sadly, I think if you come into the game holding too strongly to any of these reasonable expectations, you're a lot less likely to enjoy the game for what it is. I suppose that's at least one major thing Egglia has in common with the average Mana game...




Before we get going with this review, let's address the elephant in the corner of the room: SEGA Forever. SEGA's latest attempt to bring its classics to iOS has had a bit of a rocky start thanks to a frankly lackluster Genesis emulator. SEGA got a lot of feedback from those initial releases and, to their credit, have been working hard trying to address the problems. Their latest release is Ristar [Free], and it comes with a new emulator build that shows significant improvement over previous ones. It's not perfect, mind you. While it greatly improves on the framerate and sound issues many have had with earlier releases, this version sometimes has some screen tearing. Nevertheless, it's a solid enough release that we feel it's worth reviewing this game largely on its own merits...

'Swim Out' Review - A Relaxing Poolside Puzzler

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August 11th, 2017 12:45 PM EDT by Nick Vigdahl in $1.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$2.99 Buy Now

Summer is cruising along at a blistering pace isn't it? It's the speediest of all seasons to be sure and before long many of us will be left with wind chills and blankets of snow to continually clear and drive through, others will face sleet and gloomy skies. It's not over yet, though, and a new puzzle game is out to help conjure happier times once it is. Swim Out [$2.99] is a clever new puzzle game about a blue-capped swimmer looking to navigate their way through a great many high traffic pools...

'Time Crash' Review - A Solid Runner You Should Spend Your Time With

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August 4th, 2017 12:00 PM EDT by Wayne Skabelund in $2.99, 4 stars, Reviews
$2.99 Buy Now

I am sure we all have watched at least one or two videos of people successfully performing parkour stunts (or failing miserably). It's fascinating what the human body can do once one puts forth the effort to learn new things. However, I have always gotten my personal parkour fix vicariously through games such as Mirror's Edge or the Prince of Persia series. I was pleasantly surprised to discover another game that could potentially fill my need to pull off dangerous stunts, without the chance of reaping painful consequences. This aforementioned game is called Time Crash [$2.99] by 8SEC...

The original Knights of Pen & Paper [$4.99] was a goofy, grind-heavy RPG with a novel set-up that allowed it to poke fun at the many tropes of the genre. It painted over its repetitive mechanics with a sweet candy coating of enthusiastic charm and only slightly overstayed its welcome. In spite of its flaws, it was a great starting point both for the Pen & Paper concept and its developers Behold Studios. Oddly, the two went their separate ways when Behold opted to work on Chroma Squad [$4.99] instead of putting together a direct sequel to their popular game. The task of crafting Knights of Pen & Paper 2 [Free] fell to Kyy Games, and it's safe to say they didn't quite meet the expectations of many of the fans of the first game. Now, Behold is back to try their own follow-up to Pen & Paper. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with a similar setting, however, they've decided to take things to space with Galaxy of Pen & Paper [$4.99]...

Puzzle games have really upped the ante in recent years to add challenge and tension to the gaming experience. Time limits, move limits, stars to earn, and points to accrue all say, "Sure you can win, but can you win the best?" There's nothing inherently wrong with these mechanics. When employed well—and not just to sell packs of hints—they can make puzzle games more fun. Sometimes, however, you don't want to worry about moves and stars and points and how long it takes you. This is where minimalist puzzle games find their niche. They set aside the quest to find the very best solution and challenge you to find any solution. This week's freshly released Neo Angle [$0.99] is a minimalist puzzle game and well worth a look...

Something about the writing style in Avatar of the Wolf [$3.99] almost immediately put me off. Most of the well-written gamebooks from Choice of Games have an almost velvety tone to their prose, gently massaging your brain and doing their best to make it comfortable. Avatar of the Wolf, by comparison, is thorny. The words feel shorter, less comfortable to read, and above all, aggressive. It's even disorienting at times. The way this story is written does as much to set the tone as the meaning of the words the writer chooses. It was jarring to try to slide into the main character. Yet it turns out to be precisely the atmosphere this story needs. Avatar of the Wolf isn't a fluffy tale of adventure that will appeal broadly, but give it time to spin its yarn and you might find yourself unable to put it down...

Rampart is just one of those games that every retro enthusiast remembers. I was first introduced to it on the SNES, but it was ported to nearly every platform imaginable due to its immense popularity. Its angle of marrying shooting elements with light strategy and building components is still unique nearly 30 years later, and it's amazing that so few projects have attempted to emulate its formula directly. Castleparts [$2.99] is one such imitation, and although I had a few technical issues with it, it's a project worth playing if you're into the Rampart concept...

The iOS platform has been home to some pretty great space games. Some of them lean more into exploration and trading in the style of Elite or Wing Commander: Privateer. Others are pure shoot-em-ups in the grand tradition of Atari Star Wars and StarFox. Subdivision Infinity [$4.99], the latest release from prolific publisher Crescent Moon, is far closer to the latter type. You're not on rails, but you are generally operating within a set area for each mission. While there are some side missions involving mining and exploring, the meat of the game is in shooting down enemies before they do the same to you. It's not the deepest game around, but it knows what it wants to do and does it well...

There aren't many good games out there based on the Power Rangers franchise. Much of that is down to the nature of the licensing beast, similar to how hard it seems to be to get a superhero game of decent quality. There are many factors, both obvious and subtle, that work against licensed games. The Rangers certainly haven't been free of such hassles. The obvious solution is to take a swing at it without a license, but as Behold Studios found out, that's a delicate road to walk. Things worked out in the end, however, and Chroma Squad [$4.99] became an officially-endorsed spin on the Super Sentai concept that is free to do its own thing without the heavy restrictions that come with a full license. It's a good game, probably the best Ranger-themed game ever, though how much you like it will depend greatly on what you're looking to get out of it...

Ah, the arena platformer. Truly, it has been one of the best genres to take prominence in mobile gaming. A big reason is because the combination of a small enough arena to fit on one screen, with simple controls, and endlessly-repetitive high score chasing, is a package that's almost the platonic ideal for a mobile game. We've seen it through countless fun games, with one of the more prominent examples being Super Crate Box [$1.99] from Vlambeer. However, with Vlambeer seemingly not updating the app for 64-bit appocalypse, that means that not only can a great arena platformer shine, but it could possibly take the crown. Penarium [$1.99], much like Super Crate Box, started on PC before moving to iOS. In this case, Team 17 published the game, developed by Self Made Miracle, and helped to bring the late 2015 release to iOS a while later. And it's quite a welcome title on iOS, while perhaps not as tight as some of the finest entries in the arena platformer genre...

Throughout the history of the App Store, I feel like we've had practically every variety imaginable of dual stick shooters. Hell, we've even had dual stick looters, but a no stick shooter? That sort of thing is worthy of The People's Eyebrow. Well, it turns out this no stick shooter, which consequently is also named No Stick Shooter [$1.99] is an unbelievably frantic game that's most easily described as Missile Command with some interesting twists. It's a little too stressful of a game for me, but in a world where gamers go absolutely wild for unbelievably fast-paced games like Geometry Dash [$1.99] I can definitely see the appeal...

One of the more confusing things about analyzing games in modern times is that they can change and improve thanks to the nature of updates and digital distribution. Guns of Mercy [Free] hasn't necessarily seen dramatic overhauls since its initial release, but it's become a much better game, and a free download well worth checking out. This action game has you fending off endless waves of enemies, using a gun that you can aim in a 180 degree circle. One hit kills you, but shields, powerups, and a giant mecha can help you out along the way, as you fight ever more dangerous enemies and giant bosses. You collect coins, and these all go toward upgrades to help you blow up stuff better. It's a turbo-charged shooter, and it's worth the download just to check out, though if you're playing now, you're getting a changed and improved experience than those who first gave it a shot...

'Footy Golf' Review - Kicking the Old Cabbage Around

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April 28th, 2017 11:00 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews
Free Buy Now

The fine folks at Donut Games really know how to put together accessible games with a lot of hidden depth, and Footy Golf [Free] is another excellent example of that. As with many of Donut's titles, you can probably get the gist of what this game is about from its name. You have to kick a ball across a stage into a goal in as few moves as possible, collecting coins and diamonds along the way. Fans of this publisher will probably recognize it as a cousin of the classic Cat Physics [$1.99], but it brings a few tricks of its own to the table, not the least of which being a new pay model. Worry not, however, friends. Footy Golf is as gentle with its monetization as it could possibly be, allowing you enjoy the game with only a minimum of friction. Most importantly, the game itself is challenging and fun...

The silence you hear after successfully unloading an entire volley of cannon fire into a now sinking enemy ship in HeroCraft's latest release, Tempest [$6.99] , is euphoric. The only problem is that a stop in the action is guaranteed to be short lived. The pace and pay off of being a pirate captain may feel highly romanticized in this sea-worthy offering, but I approve. Any time a developer cooks up an ARPG that even seems half-baked, my ears perk up and this time I am really glad they did. This game taps directly into a whole lot of what makes the genre great and does it in a way that is original enough for you to sit up and take notice too...

For years, Kemco has been nothing if not consistent in their slate of published games. They've been a mobile gamer's one-stop shop for budget JRPGs, largely filtered through the lenses of four separate developers, each one doing as much as they can with as little time and as few fresh assets as possible. To be fair to the company, there's a demand for those kinds of games and not many are rushing to fill it on iOS anymore, with the way things have shifted in the market towards free-to-play social games. But even the most ravenous of niches can hit a saturation point if you push hard enough, and it almost feels like Kemco was intentionally looking for that line. Perhaps they finally found it, as 2017 has seen the publisher branching out in more new directions than they had in the previous four years combined. Yodanji [$2.99] is the latest fruit of those labors, and like its similarly-minded stablemate Djinn Caster [$4.99], it's quite good...

AT Games hates you and wants to launch you into a black hole. That's what my time with Full of Stars [Free] revealed to me. They created an amazingly clever idea, something that takes a simple kind of space chase game as you dodge asteroids and other perils that fly past you. But this is just the core of a larger experience, involving an interactive fiction story that plays into the events of the game, including when you die on a level and try to continue. And then there's a curious long-term metagame as you try to rescue human survivors, and explore more of the war-torn star system you're in. The difficulty, excessive repetition, and ever-present monetization drags the experience down, but not to the point of killing the charm of Full of Stars' genius core idea...

'Ellie & Max' Review - Some Doggone Perspective

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April 5th, 2017 10:23 AM EDT by Chris Carter in $1.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
$3.99 Buy Now

I don't know what it is about a companion gimmick that makes me so invested. I mean most of the time you're usually controlling both as a single entity, so it's not like you have much attachment to either side of the equation directly, but the concept of going into something with a partner is inherently less stressful. Take something like Banjo Kazooie (or the more recent Yooka-Laylee), as you're generally controlling the former, and the latter merely acts as a power-up -- just the notion that you're not alone is enough to bring a smile to my face. Ellie & Max [$3.99] isn't quite as iconic of a pairing as the aforementioned mascots, but I got somewhat attached by the time I reached the final curtain call...

Developer Zach Gage has a knack for putting together simple, accessible games that you can play for hours on end. He's been involved in a number of high-profile iOS games, but one of his earlier hits was the word game SpellTower [$2.99]. That was one of those games that seemed to transcend the usual crowd that played mobile games, appearing on the devices of the most unlikely of people. And why not? Word games play well with a large audience for a variety of reasons, and SpellTower was a very good one. Gage is back at the genre with TypeShift [Free] , but I can't help but feel this is aimed at a very different sort of player. It's an attractive game with an enjoyable primary mechanic, but there are a few things that keep it from reaching the heights of Gage's previous tower...

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