Category Archives: 4 stars

Cooperative singleplayer puzzling is what Death Squared [$6.99] provides in its iOS release. It's not perfect, and has a few annoying factors and humor that doesn't really break a lot of boundaries, but it provides some fun puzzles to solve and a game design that works perfectly for either playing solo or with a friend on the same device. I've played Death Squared in some early builds in the past couple of years, so I was curious to see how it would come to iOS, since what I played was very much driven by cooperation with another player. However, the final release makes the story mode something that a single player can play by themselves. The puzzles don't require a lot of simultaneous movement, they just requre that players be able to mentally deal with two different characters...

Rusty Moyher delivers a brutal platformer roguelike in Dig Dog [$2.99]. You play as a dog that will go to the ends of the earth to get as many bones as possible, even the ends full of weird evil creatures and spikes everywhere. C'mon dog. Those players out there who enjoy getting tested by games will like this, as it's a well-made platformer with a simple but effective visual style. But even if you like games with no fail state, Dig Dog is here to accommodate you as well...




Developer Kenny Sun is best known for his unique puzzle games involving geometric shapes. Each of those games picks a shape and builds a puzzle experience around it that tends to differ entirely from the developer's previous games. There are some common points, of course. The games usually have a ton of levels, each one introduced with a card stating that it was made by Kenny Sun. They're also typically audiovisual treats, albeit abstract ones. A Hollow Doorway [Free] follows in the footsteps of games like Yankai's Triangle [$2.99] and Yankai's Peak [$2.99] in some ways, but it's different in that this is more of a game of reflexes than considered thought. It has this developer's usual flourishes, but in terms of mechanics, it's closer to something like Super Hexagon [$2.99] than the positional puzzles seen in the last couple of Sun games...

It feels like a million years ago now, but at one point the most hopping hub for indie games was through web portals containing games built in Flash. Yes, the one that doesn't work with iOS and has largely gone the way of the dodo. Anyway, back in 2006, if you were a Flash game developer, the place to be was Newgrounds. They had a whole bunch of the best Flash games in one place, along with seemingly thousands of, er, learning experiences. It was in this environment that Mr. Fancy Pants, the titular character of Fancy Pants Adventures [Free], made his amazing debut. That game did the most important thing a platformer can do to get going: polished its physics and controls to a fine, fine sheen. It proved incredibly popular, and its developer continued to build on it in his spare time, adding new worlds complete with new gimmicks and moves to play around with...

'World of Warships Blitz' Review - Smoke (and Shells and Torpedoes) on the Water

It's kind of a crutch any time one explains or reviews a mobile game and says "it's kind of like x but with y instead." Yet there are cases where those kinds of comparisons are more than appropriate, and World of Warships Blitz [Free] is one of those. Wargaming already gave us a good idea of what to expect with World of Tanks Blitz [Free], and if you substitute water for land and boats for tanks, you get the idea pretty quickly. Let's say, for the sake of argument, you've never played World of Tanks Blitz or any of Wargaming's free-to-play multiplayer military battlers. If this is your entry point, that might be a good thing, as life on the sea is all you'll know. ..

There is a good reason why each of the premium titles that were created by the Cube Escape [Free] developer bear the name Rusty Lake. Seeing this name should evoke the same sort of gut reaction upon seeing the words Twin Peaks. For those of you who are familiar with either of those names, you know you are in for a surreal cult series that is designed to bend the edges of reality. The tv show is a classic and broke new ground, and while Rusty Lake Paradise [$2.99] is only a sequel it does offer a lot of new story and of course new puzzles to solve as well...

Sometimes all you really need is a bit of quick shooting action. Beyond Helios [$0.99] aims to fill that need in a game that feels like an homage to classic arcade shooters like Sinistar. Minus Sinistar itself, of course. No one can imitate that guy. You'll hop in your ship of choice and fly around freely in overhead stages set in space. There are a number of targets you'll need to take out, enemy ships that will hassle you as you attempt to do so, power-ups that will give you a temporary boost, and some hazards that will kill you if you bump into them. It's a pretty fast-paced game and there are some rough edges here and there, but overall there's a fair bit of fun to be had here for action fans...

'BBTAN2 by 222%' Review - Winter Break-Out

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January 3rd, 2018 10:30 AM EST by Shaun Musgrave in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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Developer 111% has been buttering their bread the last couple of years with their TAN series of games. They're simple games, many of them variants on the classic Atari game Breakout, with the most popular of the bunch being BBTAN by 111% [Free]. That game generally followed the Breakout formula, swapping out the familiar paddle at the bottom of the screen with a character who launches balls using a slingshot mechanism. It's a concept 111% has returned to once before with BBTAN: 7 YEARS [Free], and now they're back to it again with a sequel named BBTAN2 by 222% [Free]...

SEGA Forever, the SEGA initiative to bring some of their classic library to mobile devices, has had quite the year. It launched in the early summer in a rather dismal state, faced a swift backlash, and has been trying to crawl its way back up ever since. While largely limited to games from SEGA's 16-bit console thus far, the selection has been eclectic to say the least. I'm not surprised the team wants to close out the calendar year on something of a safe note with the release of Gunstar Heroes [Free], a game that has quietly become one of the most popular classics in SEGA's back catalog. It's one of the more frequent re-releases from that era, and even iOS has played host to a version before...

Around two and a half years ago, Sonic Team released their first (and thus far only) mobile game. Sonic Runners finally brought the famous hedgehog to a gameplay style that should have fit like a glove. It was a side-scrolling auto-runner packed with rings to grab, characters to collect, and more nods to SEGA history than you could shake a ceramic knife at. Unfortunately, it was also packed with free-to-play shenanigans galore, using virtually every trick in the book to try to monetize. At its core, the game was fun, with interesting level designs and fairly solid gameplay. That clearly wasn't enough, however, as SEGA ended up pulling the plug on the game less than a year after its debut...

'Bridge Constructor Portal' Review - Remember When You Tried to Kill Me Twice?

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December 19th, 2017 11:34 PM EST by Eli Hodapp in 4 stars, Puzzle, Reviews
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Originally packaged as part of The Orange Box all the way back in 2007, Portal is easily among my all-time favorite games. The mechanic that powers Portal, if you somehow haven't played it by now, involves using a portal gun to fire blue and orange portals around a series of "test chambers." When you go in a blue portal, you come out of an orange portal and vice versa. It would've been a great puzzle game by itself, but the addition of the ever-present AI frenemy GLaDOS elevates the entire experience to an entirely new level. If you haven't played Portal, please, please do. Portal 2 was released in 2011 and built upon the groundwork laid in the original, with loads more world-building and a few new mechanics...

'Inside' Review - Try, Die, and Try Again

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December 14th, 2017 9:30 AM EST by Eli Hodapp in 4 stars, Games, Platform, Puzzle, Reviews
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For whatever reason, it seems like the fourth quarter of 2017 has been an absolute golden age of ports hitting the App Store. Playdead's Inside [Free] was just released, and we were lucky enough to be able to play through the game beforehand. As far as the iOS port is concerned, Playdead absolutely knocked this one out of the park. It's totally universal across the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, optimized for the iPhone X, supports MFi controllers, and has totally seamless iCloud save syncing. The touch controls are even well done, and it's a free download with a one-time $6.99 (as of this writing) unlock. If there's a box they're not checking with this port, I don't know what it is. Unfortunately, I'm just not sure if I really enjoyed the game that much... But, more on that later...

Being a series that has traded as much on story and dialogue as anything else, Ace Attorney has been able to get impressive mileage out of using the same basic structure for more than 15 years. The biggest change the formula has seen came with the 2009 arrival of the first official spin-off title in the franchise, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth [$0.99]. Following Phoenix Wright's rival and sometimes-ally, Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, the game virtually abandoned the courtroom in favor of focusing on the investigations themselves. Taking a form similar to a point-and-click adventure, fans of the series got to enjoy a whole new perspective on familiar characters and locations. The game did well enough to earn a sequel, but that game went unlocalized due to how late it arrived in the Nintendo DS's lifespan. With the main series picking up again on the 3DS, most fans assumed we had seen the last of Ace Attorney Investigations...

After digging a little deeper into obscurities for the last couple of releases, SEGA has gone back to one of their tried and true 16-bit franchises for the latest addition to the SEGA Forever line-up. The Streets of Rage series has lain dormant for a very long time now, but in its heyday, it was one of SEGA's most successful action brands. To this day, I still consider Streets of Rage 2 to be one of the very best side-scrolling beat-em-ups ever made. But we're not here to talk about the sequel. Well, not yet anyway. No, today we're looking at the original Streets of Rage [Free], a game that may be lesser than its follow-up but still packs a pretty solid punch. Happily, SEGA has given the game the finest treatment we've seen for a new SEGA Forever release yet...

One of the remarkable things about the first three games in the Cally's Caves series of action-platformers is in how far they came in a relatively short time. The first game is quite primitive compared to the third, but they released only a couple of years apart. The thing about gains like that is that they rarely scale in a linear fashion. Cally's Caves 3 [Free] was an outstanding accomplishment for an indie game, presenting something that wouldn't have been terribly out of place as a retail release on a dedicated handheld. There's really only so much more Cally's Caves 4 [Free] could realistically be expected to do to top that. True to that, this is more or less another helping of the high-quality action found in Cally's Caves 3. For whatever it lacks in novelty, however, it makes up for by burying you in quantity...

My interest was piqued pretty hard as I was perusing the app store a couple weeks ago, only to see a puzzle game that involved exploring an alien ship and solving the puzzles of its technology and the fate of mankind after encountering them. That premise, for a sci-fi junkie like me, along with those drop dead gorgeous screen shots immediately had my attention. And while I was expecting something more akin to Myst [$4.99], what I received was closer to The Room [$0.99 (HD)] series, but with several areas of puzzles (The Rooms?) and a more cinematic piecemeal mystery story interspersed throughout. And it was pretty darn great. This is Returner 77 [$4.99]...

'Final Fantasy Dimensions 2' Review - Neither Fish Nor Fowl, but Fun Anyway

Nothing can ever be straightforward when it comes to sequels and Square Enix, can it? Here we have Final Fantasy Dimensions 2 [$14.99], which is not a follow-up to the story or mechanics of Final Fantasy Dimensions [Free]. Instead, it's the sequel to an unrelated Japan-only free-to-play social RPG called Final Fantasy Legends, which was also the title Final Fantasy Dimensions went by in Japan. But it's not really a sequel so much as it is a remake. In fact, it's the second such attempt at remaking that game, but when they remade it the first time they added the number 2 to show how significant said update was. But that didn't seem to go over well either, so now here we are. Final Fantasy Dimensions 2 is a rebuilt premium version of a free-to-play social RPG, and if that sounds like that might be a tough thing to pull off, you're half-right...

The early 1990s were a strange time for video game characters. Side-scrolling platformers were without question the most popular games, to the point that just about every company had to come up with a mascot or three to put in their own spin on the genre. An awful lot of those characters were simple variations on Sonic the Hedgehog, throwing a pair of big googly eyes on some kind of anthropomorphic animal with an attitude in a vain effort to create some sort of familiar look. Licensed characters from other media and even real celebrities were also popular choices for similar reasons. Then there was Chuck D. Head. He's a mummy with his face on his chest, which he stretches out to attack enemies. Sometimes he finds a head with another face on it, and he throws that head like a hefty boomerang as another means of attacking. Chuck is the star of DeCap Attack [Free], a surprisingly high-effort platformer from SEGA and developer Vic Tokai...

When it comes to SEGA and their 16-bit library, game re-releases tend to fall into one of three categories. First, there are the games that are always included: Sonic, Golden Axe, Altered Beast, and the like. Then, you've got games that are often included, but not always. Phantasy Star 2, Ecco the Dolphin, and Shinobi 3 are examples of this group. Finally, there are games that SEGA only seems to include if they're being very thorough. Sometimes it's because they're tricky to emulate, other times because of rights issues, and still other times where the reason isn't clear at all. Beyond Oasis [Free] used to be part of this group, but it feels like it's slowly moving into the second category instead. Its presence here relatively early on in the SEGA Forever initiative is a good example of its improving fortunes...

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