Category Archives: 4 stars

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
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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
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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...

While the last open-world puzzle adventure I reviewed had the torches and pitchforks out for me, I do love the concept of like, a Metroidvania style puzzle-adventure. Take Pan-Pan [$3.99], a weird little game that has you crash-landing on a strange planet. The parts of your ship that can be used by your crew to repair your jalopy and get back into flying are scattered all about. So, you have to set out and discover just what's going on, solving weird puzzles along the way in an open world. It's a game that is rather charming, and can be a bit frustrating due to some design decisions, but it's a fun experience to check out...

Okay, not quite all of them. That honor goes to Enter the Gungeon (SUCH A GOOD GAME), but it doesn’t take long to see what the primary inspiration for this game probably was. If you’re into the roguelike offerings of Nuclear Throne or Enter the Gungeon, this mobile game was made just for you. It’s solid to the core, and while it somewhat ironically lacks a soul or identity of its own, it revels in tossing pretext aside and getting to the action. Most importantly, especially for a lot of people who read this site, the economy is a glorious, unobtrusive, generous, beautiful thing. *wipes away tear* This is Soul Knight [Free]...

Did you guys know that they’re making a movie about the Rampage video game franchise starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson!? I am super pumped for that. Shame it shares a title with an Uwe Boll franchise. I learned this piece of recent news researching for the game in this review. I grew up playing the Playstation/N64 Rampage games, World Tour and Universal Tour. I loved them as a kid and am rocking some rose-tinted glasses as far as they’re concerned. It’s been over a decade since we’ve had a proper Rampage entry, and that realization fills me with sadness, but there have been several mobile games inspired by Rampage specifically or kaiju city destruction in general. MonstroCity: Rampage! [Free] decided to put it as the freaking subtitle...

'Jelly Juggle' Review - Jelly Fish Pong

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March 10th, 2017 11:00 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $1.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Game Center, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews
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I've been down the road a couple of times before with games from developer Ian MacLarty, and I feel like I know at least a few things to expect from his work. First, my poor pride is going to take a serious beating. Second, I'm going to keep on playing anyway. That was true for Boson X [$2.99] and Black Hole Joyrider [$0.99], and it's true again for Jelly Juggle [Free]. This one has a cuter, softer, kid-friendlier look to it than MacLarty's last couple of iOS games, but don't be fooled. That smiling, goggle-eyed fish wants only one thing in this world, and that's to make you cry. You might not feel like you need another ultra-tough, one-touch game on your device, but if you've ever enjoyed that sort of thing, I certainly encourage you to give this quirky Pong take-off a try...

Video games are the best form of artwork there is, because the unique aspects of the form create for interesting works. Like, Milkmaid of the Milky Way [$3.99]. It's a point-and-click puzzle adventure by solo developer Mattis Folkstead that pays homages to the initial heyday of the genre in the 1990s. And he does so in a game about a milkmaid in 1920s Norway that has to save her cows from aliens. While all the dialogue is written in rhyme. Oh, and the story has a certain melancholy to the whole affair, about time passing and losing loved ones. Also, you ride a hoverbike. Milkmaid of the Milky Way is a unique affair...

Geometry Wars almost spawned a  new genre of shoot 'em up when it arrived in 2003, as a Trojan horse of sorts inside of Project Gotham Racing. While developer Bizarre Creations thought it would be a throwaway extra that would be relegated to a behind-the-scenes lifespan, it became wildly popular and was eventually remade into its own release, and eventually, its own franchise. Characterized by a confined grid-like arena and its endless supply of cell-like enemies, the idea wasn't wholly new, but the neon art style conjoined with that setup was unique at the time. Hyperlight EX [$1.99] replicates that same experience, albeit with slightly less bravado...

The popularity of hero-centric multiplayer has taken gaming by storm over the last few years. Seeded by MOBAs like League of Legends and DotA 2 and spreading to the likes of Overwatch and Battleborn (R.I.P.). These games didn’t invent the concept of course, but it’s certainly become much more trendy. So, what would you say to a simple but deep hero centric turn based strategy game in a unique fantasy setting with day and night cycles during play that can completely change the face of a battlefield? All on mobile? I say heck yes. This is Little Lords of Twilight [Free]...

One of the best games of 2015 was Downwell [$2.99], the roguelike action game of descending down a well with rocket boots. Missileman [$2.99] turns that formula upside down, literally. Here, you play as a fellow riding a rocket upward, trying to blast all the enemies in their way, while countless other missiles become available? Oh, and the game is colorful as opposed to monochrome, so it's trying to flip just about everything. Missileman is a game with some clever ideas, but some issues with playing it keep it from being a masterpiece. Still, it's worth checking out...

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