Category Archives: 4 stars

Amazon's been bringing over several of their mobile games to iOS now, and Tales from Deep Space [$6.99] is their latest and their best. It took some time to make the leap from the Kindle Fire tablets, unlike Lost Within [$6.99] and Til Morning's Light [$6.99] which launched simultaneously on both Fire OS and iOS. This is a puzzle-platformer where you control two characters, and it's got clever puzzles to play with, though the combat portions tend and clumsy controls do drag the experience down a bit...

Oftentimes, when we look at a game, we focus on its mechanics and how it fits within the parameters of its genre. Has this first-person shooter managed to get the controls right, is this platformer too bouncy, or is this endless runner just too twitchy? Yet, sometimes what makes a game stand out is not so much its mechanics but, rather, its theme, and Slitherine's Warhammer 40K: Armageddon's [$19.99 (HD)] theme raises what would otherwise be a relatively-traditional Panzer Corps re-skin into a pretty good strategy game in its own right. Slitherine uses its strategy gaming expertise along with the fantastic Games Workshop's Warhammer 40K universe to create a game that's so much more fun to play than any WWII game - and this comes from someone who loves WWII and Vietnam strategy games. In Warhammer 40K: Armageddon, Slitherine delivers a strong wargame that acts as a great introduction to the universe for the uninitiated while also being a treat for the Warhammer 40K faithful. However, as I've mentioned in my review of another Slitherine game, Space Program Manager, while the Play by Email (PBEM) probably works well for multiplayer games on the PC, it doesn't take advantage of what the mobile platform has to offer and even hampers the multiplayer side of the game, which should actually be Warhammer 40K: Armageddon's highlight...

FireWhip [$0.99] is a perfect example of a game that shows that you shouldn't just judge a book by its cover, but if the book is good, having a rad cover sure helps! This is a unique high-score chaser that puts work in to feel like a standout experience. FireWhip delivers exactly what it its title promises, as it has you swinging a whip made of flames, trying to fend off enemies that want to get to you. You have to swing the whip around to make it large and fast enough to hit oncoming enemies, but some of the base enemies are cowards – literally, they're called cowards – and will shy away. The enemies that come at you directly? They have shields, come in large numbers, or attack really quickly. And if you swing your whip too fast, it flames out, and that's not going to be any good for you...

The Harmony series knows what it is and is quite comfortable in its skin. That might be one of its better qualities overall. The games use a basic, simple-to-understand mechanic to set up increasingly devious puzzles, trying to wind you up more and more. While the games work hard to frustrate you in that respect, the most relaxing, gorgeous music plays in the background, making it nearly impossible not to chill out. This odd discord makes for a compelling combination of flavors, and each installment simply drops another few scoops on your plate. Harmony 3 [$2.99] follows the pattern to a tee, which makes this an awfully short review if you've played a game in the series before. Did you like it, and want more? Buy this one, you won't be disappointed. Did you dislike it or become tired of its bag of tricks? Then you won't find anything to grab you here...

The App Store is just feeling so nostalgic these days. First we get a sequel to Fragger [$0.99]in Fragger 2 [$1.99] last month, which I also reviewed, and this month we get a sequel to another IP from 4 years ago. That IP is Drop the Chicken. The original can’t be found on the App Store anymore, but thankfully the original developers at AppinTheBox have brought us a sequel that tops it in every way imaginable, bringing Chuck the Chicken into modern times. Drop the Chicken 2 [$0.99]is the name of the game, and it is anything but lame. No, I don’t know why I felt the need to rhyme just now. Jeez, get off my case about it...

There simply aren't enough heist games out there. I would have played at least three licensed Oceans 11 games, but the deals involved in a potential project like that would be an impossible task. Alas, there are a few indies here and there that fill that gap, including Monaco: What's Yours is Mine, one of my recent favorites. Robbery Bob 2: Double Trouble [$2.99] is no Monaco, but it's a pretty fun little sneak-fest...

Since I’m sure you’re all dying to know, my favorite iOS game of all time is Jet Car Stunts [$1.99] by True Axis. The physics are spot-on, the controls are perfect, and the courses are all insanely fun and challenging. So when I heard about Hondune’s Truck Trials 2 [$1.99] in our forums, I pounced. It seemed like the same sort of thing: behind-the-back driving along three dimensional tracks with a focus on precision and speed. After downloading and playing for a while, I can safely say… it’s not the same. I mean, it’s obvious from the screenshots alone that there aren’t many Stunts or Jets (or Cars, for that matter). But it does have the same basic premise of navigating treacherous terrain as quickly as possible, and it’s pretty fun to boot...

The beauty of mobile and this era of digital distribution is that with small games, we can see how games can become wildly different affairs from the same idea. Sure, this is the same system that leads to rampant cloning, but sometimes you see developers legitimately iterate on the same idea. Take Hue Ball [Free], for instance. It credits Wouter Visser's Gimme Friction Baby as its inspiration. This is the same game that inspired Orbital [$2.99 / Free], a classic App Store puzzle game, that both start from the same idea: you launch balls from a bottom cannon into a playing field, trying to break balls in the playing field to earn points, and to keep balls from landing and expanding below the border line where your cannon sits. What Hue Ball does is to tweak the concept just enough to feel like a very different experience, going from a slow, tactical puzzle game where one mistake can doom you, to a fast-paced high-score chaser that's somewhat forgiving...

The more I think about it, the more I see similarities between the Apple Watch and 4x4 Jam HD [$0.99] by Invictus Games. Hear me out: They’re both extremely beautiful, if a little clunky. They’re both undeniably fun to play around with, though a bit frustrating at times. But most importantly, in both cases the developers of these two very different products clearly have some cool ideas, and it’s easy to see them transforming them into something truly special with a little more love and a few more updates. Yes, I just compared a state-of-the-art piece of wearable consumer tech to a mobile game that costs a dollar. Deal with it bro...

When Konami "mispoke" about its future plans and claimed that the company would be shifting its attention to mobile and the App Store, many were disappointed from what they saw as Konami shifting from "real" games to "casual" mobile games. PES Club Manager (PES CM) [Free], a soccer manager game just released, is the first Konami iOS game since the recent debacle, and I'm glad to say that it's a pretty good F2P sports game that shows that Konami can have a fruitful future on iOS, which is nothing but good news for mobile gamers. The game has plenty of content, a real-time 3D match engine that utilizes the console-version game engine, and a more robust team management system than I expected to find in a F2P game. And the monetization system never got in the way of my enjoyment, so all was well on that front too. Overall, PES CM is an enjoyable sports game that will entertain any lover of the sport for many hours...

When you think of love, what do you think of? Is it bits of data in a computer system? I didn’t think so. Some of you probably thought of France, or at least Paris. And that, my friends, is why Bit Bit Love [$0.99], a logic puzzler about two bits of data who fall in love and try to find each other while avoiding deletion, obviously came from French studios Blue Pill Games and 82 Storks. Everything suddenly made sense when I learned that...

Brickies [Free] is not a bad game. It is an excellent game in many regards, and a top entry in the brick-breaker genre. The problem is that it's still a brick-breaker. No matter how it mixes things up, I just can't shake the fact that it's a brick-breaker, and it's quite the familiar game. And while it's not bad at all, and is really quite good, it's also not an essential must-have in a venerable, oft-imitated genre...

I am extremely conflicted about Hitman: Sniper [$4.99]. It's a great game, a legitimately fantastic mobile title. It's a game that takes a simple premise of sniping and turns it into a complex puzzle game, where you have to learn how your weapons and abilities work to piece together sequences of actions to get the most points possible, through becoming really good at the game. Seriously, Square Enix Montreal has made an absurdly clever game. It may be more 'traditional' than their previous Hitman Go [$1.99] was, but it shows the same sparks of clever creativity that made that game special. I just wish that there was more than one level to play over and over again!..

When I reviewed developer Kidalang's Sage Fusion 2 [$2.99] a couple of years ago, I found a very satisfying story that was regrettably attached to a pretty terrible RPG. The story was strong enough to make it worth suffering through the questionable gameplay for, but wouldn't it be better if we didn't have to suffer at all? I'm not sure if it's from feedback or simply recognizing their strengths, but Kidalang has gone a different way for their latest game, An Octave Higher [$6.99]. Rather than create another odd hybrid, the developer has opted to go with a fairly straight-up visual novel design. I think it was a very good choice, to be honest. While An Octave Higher isn't an extraordinary example of the genre, it feels less like a broken experiment and more like a proper experience...

'One More Dash' Review - Disc Divin'

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June 5th, 2015 2:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Reviews, Universal
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As a casual fan of developer SMG’s other games, One More Dash [Free] was one of the first things I downloaded this week. I played a few rounds, and it seemed pretty good. Alas, there were a lot of other games to potentially review, and it fell by the wayside. As usual, some of them turned out to be great, and some were not so great. As I closed one app and flicked through my homescreen to find another, my eyes kept falling on Dash. I began playing it more and more, and it slowly began to take over my free time. Don’t be put off by it’s simple appearance, readers. This one’s a keeper...

It's an oft-heard complaint that simulation game developer Kairosoft spins their wheels a little too much. I've made that complaint myself a few times while reviewing their games. They have a few templates they like to work with. Typically, they select one of those templates, apply a new theme to it, and maybe add one or two small refinements. The result is usually pretty fun, don't get me wrong, but does tend to feel like you're playing the same game again, except this time with a fake mustache. That said, they've been slowing down their releases on iOS a bit of late, putting out more unusual or at least less well-worn fare like Kairobotica [$4.99] and Magazine Mogul [$4.99]. I find myself actually looking forward to their releases again, something that hasn't happened for a while. Their latest release, Biz Builder Delux [$4.99], is in many ways their best one yet...

Skiing Yeti Mountain [Free] is the kind of game that's best in a bunch of small doses over time. The gameplay is solid, the controls excellent, and the structure of this skiing game is great for mobile. But in trying ot be this experience that you play over a long time, it doesn't do a great job at being a game that you'd want to play a lot of in one sitting. It's a blessing and a curse for Featherweight's otherwise fun title...

'Desktop Dungeons' Review - Thats Not a Desk Anymore

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June 3rd, 2015 12:39 PM EDT by Andrew Fretz in $9.99, 4 stars, iPad Games, Reviews
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You probably noticed the recent influx of roguelikes recently. Just within the last week Sproggiwood[$9.99] and Desktop Dungeons[$9.99 (HD)] released and off the wall Shooting Stars is drawing near as well. I suppose if you have the big bux and can afford to buy a bunch of em, rats off to ya. If you have to choose though, you might want to consider Desktop Dungeons. I have played unforgiving rogue likes before, but this one is a true challenge...

'Lara Croft: Relic Run' Review - Temple Fun

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May 29th, 2015 4:30 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Free, Games, Reviews, Runner, Universal
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Some of you may recall a bit of controversy earlier this year over the fact that Temple Run 2 [Free] (and many similar games) didn’t let you play as a female character unless you paid for the privilege. This was brought to the attention of The Washington Post by a pretty awesome 6th grader who argued that it could be a form of gender discrimination, even if the developers didn’t intend it that way. Luckily, Imangi and several other devs took steps toward fixing the situation, but it’s no secret these types of games (and the industry as a whole) still have a ways to go. Well, stepping into the fray with tiny shorts and guns blazing is Lara Croft with her own take on the behind-the-back-runner formula. You’re welcome, women everywhere...

This review comes with a small caveat: you have to like the rock band Queen even a little bit to appreciate this game. Otherwise, read this review as a commentary on how a "band" iOS game should be made. And now that we are done with that, let's talk about Queen: Play the Game [$2.99], a mobile game released yesterday out of the blue. I'm quite a Queen fan ever since forever; still, I approached this game to see both what it could offer Queen fans but also how it stands as a model for licensed band games. I'm happy to say that I enjoyed playing the game, and as long as content keeps on coming its way (as the developers said it will), Queen: Play the Game will stand as a great "gameficication" of everything Queen...

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