Category Archives: 4 stars

I will forever admit to being a sucker for games with pixel art, and Sunburn [$2.99] had immediate appeal to me based on that, but also thanks to its unique premise: instead of trying to save everyone, the goal is to control the jetpack-equipped astronaut captain, trying to get a bunch of stranded astronauts together, and launch into the sun so that nobody dies alone. But there's limited oxygen, so there's some planet-hopping involved, fiery asteroids to avoid, and a chain of astronauts to string along, trying to make sure they don't suffer a solitary demise while trying to get to the collective goal. This means that death is an odd thing, because dying itself might not be the ultimate goal. It's about making sure everyone suffers a quick death, rather than dying alone in the middle of space. That's a new one! It's a clever and macabre concept for a space physics puzzler, and while the game has issues, the concept alone is well worth checking out...

Even if you've never heard of the Lone Wolf series of gamebooks written by Joe Dever (with their sporadic publishing history I wouldn't blame you), Joe Dever's Lone Wolf [$0.99], a new adventure made specifically for mobile platforms, has got a lot of initial punch. While everything seems to start like any other gamebook you've played on iOS, as soon as you reach the first battle of the game, it's clear that this game has got some strong ideas about where to take gamebooks in the future. The 'Wow' factor of turning the page to an illustration that comes to life in full 3D can't be underestimated, but in its quest to escape the shackles of its old format, Lone Wolf trips over some very familiar problems inherent to its new one. In the style of our reviews of The Walking Dead [Free] and The Wolf Among Us [Free], this review will be appended to as each new act releases...

Brace yourselves, we're going to talk about some truly old-school gaming in this review. Before there was Clash Of Clans [Free], Call Of Duty, Tetris [$0.99], Super Mario Bros., or even Pong, a huge gaming craze swept the world. It was a puzzle game known to the western world as Tangrams, brought over in the early 19th century from China, where it had been around for several hundred years. Suddenly those months-long New Zealand soft launches don't look so bad, do they? If you aren't familiar with Tangrams, the puzzle involves using seven pieces to try to match a set shape. You would think this to be a pretty shallow affair, but there have been several thousand different puzzles made. I'm not sure if it's still the case, but books of Tangram puzzles were always a mainstay in gas stations and convenience stores when I was a kid...

Gamebook developer Cubus Games is only on their third swing at the genre, but they've already become a player worth paying attention to in that sphere. So far they've released the off-beat horror tale The Sinister Fairground [$2.99] and the crazy yet awesome sci-fi story Heavy Metal Thunder [$2.99], both bringing themes and unique writing styles that helped them stand out in an increasingly crowded field. Their newest game, Necklace Of Skulls [$2.99], is an adaptation of a 1993 book by veteran gamebook author Dave Morris, whose name you might recall from inkle's recent take on his book Down Among The Dead Men [$0.99]. It carries on the same strengths as Cubus's earlier releases, with an adventure through an exotic backdrop of Mayan mythology, relayed in captivating fashion by Mr. Morris's usual top-shelf writing...

It's a frequently-visited topic throughout the history of the hobby, but the topic of the length of games (or the lack thereof) has been coming up a lot recently among mobile gaming fans. Faced with a market that that is often frighteningly resistant to handing over more than a few dollars in lump sums, many developers who want to build a traditional game with a beginning and ending, free of IAP consumables and other monetization techniques, are faced with a pretty hard economic reality. The answer to that problem is usually to scope the game's content according to some very meager budgets, leading to some great games that don't take all that long to play through. This was a very hot discussion when it came to Monument Valley [$3.99], and it may well be the same for those who pick up Space Expedition: Classic Adventure [$2.99]...

'1-Bit Hero' Review - Back and Forth

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November 13th, 2014 3:30 PM EST by Carter Dotson in $0.99, 4 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPod touch games, Platform, Prices, Ratings, Reviews
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Auto-running solves a lot of problems for mobile games where virtual d-pads are suboptimal. While generally this is used for endless runners, platformers that use auto-running are an interesting breed to me. Meet 1-Bit Hero [$0.99 / Free]. It's an auto-running platformer that's just a nice little game. It's challenging, but has levels that are short enough that they don't get too frustrating, which strikes a fantastic balance. And it uses auto-running in a good way, that makes it worth playing...

There are lot of reasons developers might choose to put a game on mobiles, and plenty of them have nothing to do with the unique interface presented by the touch screen. Most of us have learned to deal with virtual buttons and such just fine, but it's always nice when a developer clearly designs their game around the hardware's natural input methods in an intuitive way. Splot [$1.99], a new platformer from the developers behind the Trine games, benefits greatly from its easy-to-understand control setup. Its controls work very well, and that should theoretically open the developer up to more challenging level designs, an element I think most platform fans can agree on. Unfortunately, Splot doesn't quite go as far as I'd like it in that regard, but it still ends up being a fun, content-rich game that will keep you busy for at least a few hours...

I applaud Simogo for continuing to challenge what mobile gaming should be, and for aiming to tell stories in a world where gameplay is such a heavy focus. The Sailor's Dream [$3.99] is Simogo's third-straight story-heavy game after the absolute masterpieces Year Walk [$3.99] and Device 6 [$3.99], which you should go play right now if you haven't yet. Where Device 6 was much more of an interactive novel with the occasional puzzle than Year Walk was, The Sailor's Dream eschews any challenge or practically any 'game' elements in order to just deliver a story-driven experience. I admit that just having a story disappointed me, as I perhaps was frantic to discover the mystery here, but I have to say – Simogo's made another must-play game, even if it wasn't the most satisfying to me...

'Monster Strike' Review - Billiards And Dragons

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November 3rd, 2014 2:00 PM EST by Shaun Musgrave in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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I've written many words about games that sought to bump Gungho's Puzzle And Dragons [Free] from its lofty perch high atop the Japanese App Store, though only one, Terra Battle [Free], managed to top it in quality and none have been able to beat it in the charts. Well, the king appears to be dead, and the perpetrator is none other than Monster Strike [Free], another game from a big Japanese company, albeit not a company traditionally associated with games. Instead, it's brought to us by Mixi, sort of Japan's answer to Facebook before the latter rode in to grab its market share. Don't worry, though, because there's some real industry talent behind this game and it shows. Monster Strike has dealt a powerful blow to Puzzle And Dragons, and it hasn't come by that through luck...

Super Crate Box [$1.99] has definitely spawned a few games inspired by it, to say the least, though games cutting too close has been a sensitive subject. But the game owes a lot to the original Mario Bros. in terms of structure, and Woah Dave [$0.99] from Choice Provisions, the former Gaijin Games, manages to take more after Nintendo's original than Vlambeer's modern. And it does a great job at making its own blend of challenging survival and situation management that I quite enjoyed...

It's really great when a well-made game seemingly comes out of nowhere, and that's just what seems to have happened with the stealthy release of Princess And Knight [$2.99], a new strategy RPG that is so under the radar, I can't find much proof of its existence beyond the App Store itself and a fairly new blog for the developer, Team SoftIceCream. Sometimes when that happens, it's because the game isn't quite ready for prime time, but apart from a really rough English translation, this is a remarkably solid effort from what appears to be an indie developer. The game design is unabashedly vintage, calling to mind SRPGs from the 16-bit console era and earlier, but there's a certain appeal to a game that drops out of the complexity arms race that the strategy RPG genre tends to get swept up in at times...

Fans of Kemco's RPGs are in luck this month. We only just saw the release of Soul Of Deva [$3.99] a couple of weeks ago, and here we are with another release already. Granted, this is Kemco trying to catch iOS up with previously released Android games, but let's not look a potential gift horse in the mouth. Amazingly, Crystareino [$3.99] is done by the same team that did Deva, Hit-Point, who at this point are probably in dire need of a vacation. If you read my review of Deva, you know that I ended up liking it quite a bit thanks to its sharp 2D visuals and strategic, unique battle system. Well, I also like Crystareino quite a bit, but for almost entirely different reasons. This game plays things very safely, eschewing innovation in exchange for delivering a solid, content-rich adventure. If you're tired of the tropes of the genre, it might not be the best choice, but if you thrive on them, you'll find this to be a decent meal...

Look upon me, peasants and nobles alike. For it is I who have slain the mighty yeti, traversed the caverns of the Snow Witch and put her to her final rest, and helped fend off the orc hordes from the dwarven stronghold of Stonebridge. It is I who, after enduring countless deadly battles and outsmarting fatal traps, began to ascend the mountain where I would at last find my goal. It is I, the mighty hero, felled by the bite of a simple rattlesnake because my luck points ran out. So it goes in Fighting Fantasy: Caverns Of The Snow Witch [$5.99], the latest gamebook conversion from the prolific folks at Tin Man Games. It's a fairly straight conversion using their trusty gamebook engine, so if you have fond memories of the original book and you're wondering whether or not the iOS version does it justice, you can rest easily...

I enjoy this current trend of games that are easy to pick up and play, but also present a challenge. And really, Swap Heroes hits a lot of my buttons. It's built for short sessions, winds up being challenging and highly replayable, and oh, it has pixel art. It's perfect for quick sessions, but delivers a challenge that demands practice to get better at it, though randomness does wind up hurting the experience a bit...

Did you ever play Super Hexagon [$2.99] and think, "this was too easy?" Well, congratulations, Superhyper [$1.99] is just the game you've been looking for, you masochist. It's got the gameplay of a lane-based endless runner, mixed with pretty much everything Super Hexagon was about, and drenched in hot sauce. This is a game so challenging, it may be weeks before anyone unlocks its ultimate difficulty level. It's fair but downright cruel, the kind of game that's worth playing again and again just to prove it wrong...

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