Category Archives: 4 stars

Apparently, merpeople are the new trend in interactive fiction. Yes, I call something a trend if I spot more than one instance. I'm pretty weird that way. Anyway, a couple of months ago, Choice Of Games released The Daring Mermaid Expedition [Free], a somewhat farcical adventure that provided a brief, enjoyable window into a fantasy world under the sea. The Sea Eternal [Free] also chooses the ocean depths as the setting of its story, but from the other side of the coin. Rather than playing an inquisitive human who accidentally stumbles upon this strange world, you play as one of the merpeople who inhabit it. In spite of this shift in perspective, the core of the story largely tries to untangle what it is to be human, or at least what it is to be sentient. It takes on a lot of very difficult questions, and although it doesn't handle them all with perfect grace, The Sea Eternal is nevertheless quite engaging and thought-provoking...

'Amidakuji Knight' Review - Choose a Path

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May 12th, 2016 11:00 AM EDT by Chris Carter in $0.99, 4 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
99¢ Buy Now

Many years ago, I encountered a really cool boss in a game called Mega Man X. As one of the last encounters leading up to the final fight, players were locked in a room with a giant robotic spider, with multiple metal "webs" hanging from the ceiling. Every few seconds the webs would change, and create new pathways for the spider to travel. The rules were simple -- it had to follow the journey of least resistance, and turn down every path it could. It was interesting because players could deduce where the spider would fall with any given pattern, but they had to be fast enough to figure it out before he landed on you. That concept is basically how the entire game of Amidakuji Knight [$0.99] works, to great success. The concept not only translates perfectly to a touchscreen, but the developers also extend it a bit with a full-on level-up and gear system. After a quick setup that involves a heroic knight and his quest to locate a valuable talisman across three chapters, players are off to the overworld, where they're presented with a number of choices, represented with paths. Each board has five in all, which will lead you to an end goal -- whether it's an enemy to fight and gain experience from, gold, or an item...




In an era where kids can fire up a game like Real Racing 3 [Free] for free on a mobile device, I can't imagine slot car racing sets are as ubiquitous as they were when I was a kid. Just about everyone seemed to own one back then, whether they were interested in cars or not. They're pretty simple toys, with the only real input being how fast the car is going at any given time, but there was a certain thrill in seeing how fast you could take corners without careening wildly off the little plastic tracks. There was a bit of technique to it, though the advantage certainly went to the player who was most familiar with the track. Black Hole Joyrider [$0.99], the latest from Boson X [$2.99] creator Ian MacLarty, might look and sound like a grand space adventure, but it's basically a gorgeous game of slot car solitaire...

'Zenge' Review - Everything Slides Into Place

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April 22nd, 2016 11:39 AM EDT by Chris Carter in $0.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

At a very young age, I was trained for puzzle games. You know, putting those square pegs into their appropriate holes, Operation to meticulously work on my reaction times, and so on. All of those tabletop experiences trained me for what was to come down the road, when I had to put those same pegs into hundreds of different locations over the years, dreamed up by some of the most prophetic puzzle designers the world has ever seen. That includes Zenge [$0.99], which takes the core premise of shifting around different shapes into one magnificent canvas...

'Pang Adventures' Review - Pang, Nab It

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April 20th, 2016 11:01 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4 stars, Action, Arcade, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews
$3.99 Buy Now

Until now, publisher Dotemu's work on iOS has been mostly limited to bringing back beloved classics in their original forms. Their releases have run the gamut from arcade shoot-em-ups like R.Type [$1.99] to point-and-click PC titles like Sanitarium [$3.99], to say nothing of the work they've done for other companies like SNK and Square Enix. Pang Adventures [$3.99] is something of an unusual case for the prolific French publisher, as it's a new game based on an old favorite franchise. You might remember the series under the names Pang, Buster Bros., Pomping World, Magical Michael, or if you're particularly well-informed, Cannon Ball. We'll go with Pang for the purposes of this review...

It sometimes feels like Marvel is working towards a future where there will be a free-to-play game for every possible genre. The quality of those games has run the gamut from the bland Marvel: War Of Heroes to the surprisingly enjoyable Marvel Future Fight [Free]. Somewhere in the upper end of that range sits Marvel: Avengers Alliance, a rather fun game with a battle system pulled from turn-based RPGs. The one thing that ties most of these games together aside from the license is that no matter how well they start off, they all seem to end up becoming worse over the long run. The original Avengers Alliance is probably the worst example of that, with its poorly-implemented PVP, serious issues with cheating players, and completely broken character balance. At a certain point, it felt like Marvel Entertainment just gave up on it...

Retro City Rampage DX [$4.99] finally hits iOS. Took it long enough, eh? Brian Provinciano's "what if Grand Theft Auto was an 8-bit game that paid homage to every classic game and notable 1980s cultural phenomenon" title had landed everywhere but mobile. It was on desktop (PC, Mac, and Linux!), the Vita (on cartridge too!), 3DS, Wii U (not the Wii), Xbox One, PS3 and PS4, even a demo for NES! But the new platform releases started to dry up over time, even after the DX update to the original game that brought some new features and tweaks was released. And yet, no mobile version. Yet, one night it unexpectedly showed up! And while I have some issues with the game, I'm quite glad it showed up...

If there's one genre I almost never get to experience, it's fishing. I have plenty of nostalgia for SEGA's huge line of bass-centric games as well as their amazing arcade machines where you can actually feel the tension in the rod, but in this modern era, I generally don't go out of my way to play a console or mobile fishing game. That changed with Fishing Break [Free], and although it has a rather aggressive monetization strategy, it still hits the spot...

'Mimpi Dreams' Review - Dream A Little Dream

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April 5th, 2016 11:45 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, Platform, Puzzle, Reviews
99¢ Buy Now

The original Mimpi [Free] was a cute, somewhat short puzzle-platformer with inspired art design and serviceable controls. Mimpi Dreams [$0.99], the sequel, is a cute, somewhat short puzzle-platformer with inspired art design and excellent controls. The original game was an excellent little bit of fun and still holds up quite well today, and the follow-up offers up another tasty serving with a few useful refinements. While its brevity and relative lack of difficulty might turn off those looking for something more substantial to sink their teeth into, Mimpi Dreams has enough appeal to carry it far...

'Dirac' Review - Atoms @ Home

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March 31st, 2016 1:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $1.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Drawing, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$1.99 Buy Now

With a name like Mediocre, it’s almost like the studio is baiting reviewers. “Go ahead,” they're saying, “just try to make some lame joke about our games being mediocre.” Of course we can’t say those things, because Smash Hit [Free] and Does Not Commute [Free] (and earlier titles like Sprinkle [$1.99]) were outstanding games. The irony in their name proves the studio is supremely confident in the quality of their products, and they've certainly earned it...

Some of my favorite mobile games are ones that can be played with one hand in quick sessions. After all, if you have your phone always with you, then why not fill any empty gaps by playing a game? I love deeper experiences as well, but the ones I keep coming back to are the games that I can play for short bursts. It's what makes Clash Royale [Free] so compelling and replayable, and why I've sunk a lot more time in something like Boom Dots [Free] than you'd probably expect from such a simple game. So is the case with Super Arc Light [Free]. It's a minimalist high-score shooter that takes definite cues from Super Hexagon [$2.99]. It's a game I raise plenty of issues with, but I can't complain about it too much, since it scratches my one-handed pick-up-and-play itch quite well...

You would definitely be forgiven for looking at the screenshots in this review and assuming this game was some kind of clone or expansion DLC for Monument Valley [$3.99]. But aside from the Escher-esque optical illusions in the levels, the design, mechanics, and even the other aspects of the aesthetics offer something completely different. And while Dream Machine: The Game [$0.99] isn’t quite the masterwork that Monument Valley is, it’s a beautiful, memorable 3D puzzle game, and a premium one with no IAP to boot...

'Hectic Space 2' Review - Bullet Pixel Hell

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March 22nd, 2016 11:45 AM EDT by Chris Carter in 4 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Shooter, Universal
Free Buy Now

Shoot 'em ups will keep me company until the hour of my death. They were one of the first genres I ever played in the arcade, and it's one of my most played genres for pleasure to date. Whether it's a bullet hell Cave joint (which has become even more prolific on iOS) or a traditional, technical shooter, I'm always willing to turn my monitor on its side to play at any possible resolution. Less screen real estate on a mobile device seems like a problem, but touch controls almost always come through and deliver, and that's definitely the case with Hectic Space 2 [Free]...

My favorite Kemco RPG developer, EXE-Create, has found their groove over the last couple of years. Their games typically have enjoyable characters, solid mechanics, and genuinely good localizations. They've also pushed the technical side of things more than Kemco's other teams, introducing a polygonal battle system with Alphadia Genesis [$9.99] just over two years ago that they've used in several subsequent releases. If there's a downside to EXE-Create's work, it's that they rarely attempt anything risky with their game designs. While their Kemco stablemates are often trying interesting new systems, gameplay perspective, or even other genres, EXE-Create seems content to focus on delivering a tasty, predictable plate of meat and potatoes every time. How much you enjoy their games depends heavily on how tired you are of that sort of dish and whether or not you can connect with the latest batch of characters. Revenant Dogma [Free / $4.99] is no different in that regard...

If you listen to the Touch Arcade Show podcast every week (and you should), then you might recall what a frustrating experience Jared had trying to play Rocky Hong's Beat Stomper [$1.99] on a recent episode. The game seemed sorta like Doodle Jump [$0.99], but the timing was all weird and it took quite a few attempts for him to get the hang of it. Eli, on the other hand, had no problems whatsoever and demonstrated this by apparently playing with his eyes shut. Two completely different experiences with one simple high score chaser. So what about me? Or you, for that matter?..

'Rope Racers' Review - Swing Low, Sweet Undead Zombie

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March 21st, 2016 11:53 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

Swinging from ropes is fun. I don’t know why, but it is. Many of my favorite games on the App Store use some kind of swinging as a mechanic, from Hanger World [Free] and Mikey Hooks [$1.99] to the long forgotten Rock Runners and Slingshot Racing [$0.99]. In preparation for this review I did a brief Google search to figure out what is so satisfying about swinging, but all I found were adult advice columns. (Some iOS games call it "hooking"; maybe I should have searched for that instead?) Perhaps it’s so fun because our ancestors lived in trees, or because it hits some perfect combination of speed and weightlessness. Who knows! Developer Small Giant’s latest game Rope Racers [Free] is all about swinging, and it pretty much nails that sensation...

One of the fun things about following a specific platform over a number of years is watching how things progress. Developers and series will pop up, and if they hang around, you can see what they do to build on what they did before to try to make an even better game. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't. In the case of developer TouchMint and its Adventure To Fate series of turn-based RPGs, it's happily been the former. When the first game launched almost two years ago, it was a fun, somewhat rough game that got better with a couple of updates. Last year, a free-to-play follow-up came out, focusing almost entirely on the combat system and character development mechanics. That game, too, got some really nice updates that made the game better. I don't know what the update plans look like for Adventure To Fate: Quest To The Future [$3.99] looks like, but even in its present state, it shows the experience TouchMint has gathered in its own personal quest for glory...

Are you a real gamer? Are you a real hardcore gamer? Do you like games that will punish you and leave you begging for mercy? Congratulations, Lost Socks: Naughty Brothers [$0.99] is the game for you. This auto-run-and-gun game boasts fantastic art, well-done gameplay, and tough difficulty. Perhaps too tough for most: its progression gating that is so punishing that you'll beg to pay money to the developers to take shortcuts. And the game will look down at you and whisper "No."..

'Abzorb' Review - Avoid and Conquer

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March 8th, 2016 10:06 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$2.99 Buy Now

One Man Left’s classic Tilt To Live [$2.99] series is a favorite of mine, partly because of how it subverted expectations when it came out in 2010. It looked like a shooter, with the main gimmick being that you tilted your device instead of using on-screen controls. Of course, that wasn’t the only “gimmick”, as it turned out the game wasn’t even a shooter at all. Your job was to avoid enemies, rather than hunting them down. That doesn’t mean you were totally defenseless, though, as there were many power-ups that allowed you to turn the tables on the evil red dots. Gerald Kelley’s new game Abzorb [$2.99] lands even closer to the pacifist side of the spectrum, as you don’t even get power-ups to defend yourself. All you can do to avoid death is run away. Is it anywhere near as fun and frantic as Tilt To Live, though?..

Peter Panic [Free] is Wario Ware mixed with a musical, and only halfway complete. Seriously, the game borrows its structure and goofiness from Wario Ware almost exactly. You play through levels all with a specific theme, trying to complete a short micro-game to get a point and advance further to a boss level. Beat that, then you complete the level and go on to the next one. The games use the touchscreen in different ways, and there are some key variations, but generally? This is Wario Ware but on iOS as a musical – and not finished yet...

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