Category Archives: 4 stars

Tower Of Fortune [$0.99] developer Game Stew is a hard developer for me to get a read on. I mean, I think if you look hard enough you can find a designer's fingerprints all over just about any game, but you don't even have to do that with Game Stew. Their games are instantly recognizable thanks to their consistent, unusual presentation style. If you do choose to look a bit harder, you can see that also carries over to the gameplay, even if some of their games are ostensibly in different genres from each other entirely. It's interesting because even though their games are generally quite unique from almost every angle, once you understand Game Stew's way of doing things, you can reliably count on certain elements being present. Specifically, you're probably going to have quite a few trappings of the roguelike genre. Being predictably off-beat certainly isn't a bad thing. Tim Burton doesn't seem to be suffering for it, at least. The big problem with having that kind of reputation is that you need to keep coming up with ways to keep your audience's thirst for oddity quenched...

Proun+ [$3.99] is a game that probably should have been on iOS a long time ago. It makes too much sense, the tube racing, with its simple controls that are perfect for taps or tilts, its quick races, they all make for the ideal iOS game. That this is a port from PC to iOS just feels like it's something well overdue. Proun+ is a tube-racing game, which I previewed last month. There's some utterly brilliant aspects to this one, but also some things that make me curious about, to see if there's not a way this game could have been structured any better...

'Seabeard' Review - A Whole New (Freemium) World

After many months of coverage, a soft-launch and a hands-on preview, Seabeard [Free] is finally upon us. When a game gets this much coverage and hype, it’s typically hard for it to satisfy all expectations. This seems to be even more true whenever a game relies on freemium mechanism as a way to monetize. After spending a great deal of time within the game, I’m happy to report that I don’t believe Seabeard is a victim of its own hype but I do think that its freemium system will probably alienate some of its potential player base...

'Arcane Quest 2' Review - A Quest For Heroes

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December 1st, 2014 2:30 PM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $1.99, 4 stars, Board, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
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Like any lifelong enthusiast of role-playing games, I've got a few memories that are embarrassing to relate in mixed company. Since we're all friends here, I'll let you in on one of them. In junior high school, or middle school as some of our readers might call it, our class planned a trip to one of the islands in the lake my hometown sits beside. It's kind of a popular beach for those who have the means to reach it, and there are even a couple of food stands and a vague attempt at a boardwalk. Well, everyone was pretty excited about this trip, and when the day arrived, people came with bags packed with swimming gear, water guns, and sports equipment for the park. My tight little group of RPG-loving friends and I had our swimsuits and a couple of Super Soakers. I mean, we weren't totally out there. But instead of bringing a volleyball or anything like that, my good friend had Milton Bradley's HeroQuest board game tucked under his arm. We spent a good portion of the day sitting in the park beside the beach, making our way through a few campaigns...

I like the cut of Not Doppler's jib. Their stable of 2D games are all solidly entertaining games with zippy gameplay. Their most recent game, Earn to Die 2[$1.99], is the first time they have revisited one of their iOS games with an update. From a bird's eye view, this one is really strong, avoiding some of the pitfalls other popular games have stumbled into. Some of the best decisions made are that the follow up game has more content and maybe most importantly, this one was packages as a separate game independent from the first Earn to Die[$0.99]. Once you get a little closer, you'll find there is even more to get excited about...

One of the things I love about RPGs is how wide and diverse the genre is. There are so many different things an RPG can do well to make a name for itself, whether it be telling a great story, having deep character customization options to play with, bringing an interesting world to life for players to explore, using interesting combat mechanics to force you to think in new ways, or any other of the genre's fine traits. Generally speaking, no two RPGs are quite alike, and some of them are so different from each other it's a wonder we fit them into the same genre at all. I enjoy digging into any RPG and trying to find that thing that makes it special, and even if it's not to my personal tastes, it's always interesting to see how it works and who it might appeal to...

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 [$0.99] and the crazy yet awesome sci-fi story Heavy Metal Thunder [$0.99], both bringing themes and unique writing styles that helped them stand out in an increasingly crowded field. Their newest game, Necklace Of Skulls [$0.99], 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 [$0.99]...

'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 [$1.99 / 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...

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