Category Archives: 4 stars

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...

Reckless Racing 3 [$0.99] delivers a style of racing that honestly is reckless, with the loose-controlling cars making perilous turns and drifting around, rubbing paint and just generally making a mess of the proceedings. This has been the series' modus operandi, and it does its job very well, at being a chaotic racing game that's easy to pick up but always hard to control, by design...

Back in September, we previewed Hail to the King; Deathbat, an action hack n’ slash from Subscience Studios. Based on the ‘mascot’ of Avenged Sevenfold, Deathbat would be an interesting enough game simply from that premise, as it does a great job of portraying its dark world. Thankfully, Deathbat is also a good addition to the genre, offering a solid gameplay experience that doesn’t particularly excel but hits all the right marks...

As a developer, if you're going to wade neck-deep into a crowded genre, especially one in a very crowded marketplace in general, you have to have some kind of means of standing out from the crowd. When it comes to side-scrolling running games, it's getting harder and harder to find something that can actually accomplish that job. Jack B. Nimble [$1.99], from developer Sean Noonan, opts to take the approach of a double-barreled appeal to nostalgia, with graphics that look like they came off a torqued-up Game Boy and a theme that will be instantly recognizable to Castlevania fans. It's got an interestingly familiar cadence to it that I don't see very often in this kind of game, and it will certainly have strong appeal for those who appreciate streamlined runners like Canabalt [$2.99] or Boson X [$2.99]...

Imagine you're the creator of Dragon Quest [$2.99]. You've successfully streamlined the somewhat impenetrable RPG genre to a point where anyone and everyone can play the game and enjoy it, and now it's time for a sequel. Obviously, people are ready and asking for something a bit bigger and more complex, and simply delivering something in the same scope as the first game isn't going to satisfy them. How far do you walk the concept back to its inspirations, Wizardry, Ultima, and the like? That's a question I suspect Yuji Horii grappled with when coming up with Dragon Quest 2 [$2.99] , and while he wouldn't hit the sweet spot until the next installment, it's undeniable that the sequel to Dragon Quest is a considerably bigger and slightly more sophisticated game...

At this point, some 30 or so RPGs in, I really have to wonder how many people are actually playing all the games Kemco's putting out there. As regular readers know, I really love RPGs, and even I'm starting to feel like we're reaching some kind saturation point with this company. Nevertheless, we must put one foot in front of the other, because the games do at least improve over time, and you never know when something worth getting excited about will come along. Soul Of Deva [$3.99] is not quite that game, but like many other recent Kemco efforts, I feel like we're getting very close. Given that I can make decent claim to having written more words about Kemco mobile RPGs than just about anyone on Earth, a tragic title if ever there was one, I tend to build expectations about their releases before I even start them up. Typically, I base this on the specific developer, and it rarely fails...

Czech Games Edition's Galaxy Trucker [$7.99 (HD)] is out on iOS. This board game port has a lot more features than most, and has a solid sense of humor to help you endure the frozen wastes of the void. When I say a lot more features, I mean it. This board game doesn't just have online multiplayer and it doesn't just have AI opponents. Galaxy Trucker features a full on campaign mode on top of all that. This thing is so full-featured, I am certain that many people will pick it up and only realize later that this is based on a board game at all. Galaxy Trucker, the app, has very few things I can nitpick about it. Solid controls, clear visuals, the truckload o' features, and enjoyable gameplay are all on tap. Galaxy Trucker, the board game, does have some bits and pieces I don't enjoy very much, but I still can appreciate this fun, if flawed, game...

Adult Swim has a done a great job with its iOS titles and now, with the help of developer PikPok, they are taking on the Match-3 genre. Adventure Xpress [Free] continues the excellent off-beat motif of most Adult Swim titles with you taking the role of a mail courier in a fantasy setting. Meanwhile the Match-3 gameplay is a bit simplified, but has everything needed to offer an enjoyable experience (even with the freemium elements)...

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