Category Archives: 4 stars

Goodnight Games has made an interesting action game in Malevolent Machines [$1.99]. It's a game with some clever ideas, and a unique art style that looks both a little ugly and yet detailed and stylish in its own way. It's a game with some bugs and issues, but a lot of good ideas at the heart that shine through the experience. It's an experience that may be off-putting to some folks, but its unique charms and quirks wormed its way into my heart as an entertaining and unique action game...

Big Bucket Software is back after their solid 2014 adventure game Space Age [$1.99], returning to their breakout hit The Incident [$0.99] in a sense with Stagehand [$1.99]. Featuring Frank, the protagonist of The Incident, and a retro, pixel-art style, your goal is to keep Frank running along by controlling the platforms underneath him. You drag to keep him running, or to jump from one to another, trying not to obstruct him, as if he gets slowed down, he will get scrolled off the screen and that's the end of Frank. Sorry, buddy. But you do have conveyor belts that will speed Frank along so he can recover some of the gap between him and oblivion. Helpful! It's all a clever concept, and it has the production values you'd expect from Big Bucket. But, this game feels like it's in a place out of time, because it's a $1.99 endless game with little to unlock, where the replay value is in getting high scores. It's a quality game, but it might not have the depth in the modern context of the App Store to make everyone happy...




It’s no secret around these parts that I have a great fondness for deck building card games. It also may come as a shock to you, me being a writer on a website and all, but I am rather fond of the fine art of word-smithery. Never did I think the two would be joined in such a perfect and holy union as they have been in Tim Fowers’/Fowers Games Inc.’s Paperback: The Game [$3.99]. It’s like the love child of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer [Free] and Scrabble [$7.99], and while it could use some more meat on its bones, it’s a beautiful little baby...

I’m a simple man. I see vikings, I click download. This has been true for years, and it was true a couple months ago, when Vikings: an Archer’s Journey [$2.99] was in the recommended new games section of the App Store home page. I didn’t opt for a review right away because this game definitely needed some more time in the forge, but a few thousand whacks with the hammer of improvement later and we have a solid bow-and-arrow-centric runner on our hands worth giving a look...

Once upon a time, there was a fairly popular Java-based online RPG named Wyvern [Free]. It began its life in 2001 and ran for 10 years before its server was shut down in April of 2011, much to the sadness of its devoted players. It took some legal wrangling, but its creator Steve Yegge was finally able to secure the rights to bring the game back, and he's opted to do it on iOS. Inspired by 1980s PC RPGs, Wyvern has something of a vintage look and feel to it, and it's anything but beginner-friendly. If you're okay with that, however, you'd be hard-pressed to find a deeper MMORPG experience on mobile...

Despite its mysterious dystopian backdrop, Collect or Die [$1.99] ironically made me reminisce of the ‘golden days’ of the App Store. Specifically, a time when the perceived novelty of the iPhone’s gyroscopic controls means an abundance of tilt controlled titled, when rag-dolls and stickmen were being constantly flung to their inevitable bloody demise, and also one where an emphasis on genuinely fun gameplay trumped the need for timers and draconian monetisation mechanics. Collect or Die even has a Lite version- it truly doesn't get more retro than that. On the other hand, a lot has changed since 2008 - Collect or Die is a game that, in testament to its title, lives and dies as a result of its reverence to older iOS experiences, and while some may be turned off by its tilt-only rock-hard emphasis on platforming, Collect or Die features enough variety and irreverent humor to make it a highly enjoyable experience, even in 2017...

One of the most popular RPGs in the world might just be a game that you've never heard of. Flash RPG series Sonny has gotten millions of players over the past decade between two different installments. Now, web portal and game publisher Armor Games has teamed up with developer Krin to bring a new Sonny [$1.99] game to mobile. It's not a sequel to Sonny 2, necessarily, which ended on a cliffhanger. Instead, this is a massive reboot with a new storyline, some familiar and returning characters, and an actual ending to the story. You play as the eponymous Sonny, a dude who has died on a boat, but thanks to a special serum from Louis, you're a powerful, conscious zombie. Louis gets killed by Zombie Pest Control Incorporated troops, who are out to get you because you're a zombie, and to exact vengeance on your initial ZPCI troop kills. After your escape, you travel through the world, meeting new allies, learning more abilities, and discovering that some of this world's zombie population are able to communicate much like you are...

Cannonfire Concerto [$3.99] is another gamebook release from Choice of Games that offers an unusual premise and excellent world-building. You play as a touring musical virtuoso in a setting that has something of an 18th century European feel. It's a time of momentary peace for the region, but things are starting to fire up again. It's up to you to decide whether or not you want to get involved and which side you'll pull for, but whatever you choose, the show must go on. Written by Caleb Wilson, Cannonfire Concerto is a lighter and faster-paced read than some of the last few ChoiceScript games released, but that doesn't stop it from creating an interesting setting and having a good bit of fun with it...

Out Run really was ahead of its time. Released over 30 years ago, Yu Suzuki tapped into the racing market like never before, with a sit-down car-like arcade cabinet and an exploration-based concept. In Out Run the objective wasn't to really "finish first" despite the time limit mechanic. It was all about the journey, providing choices for where to go by way of forked roads, leading to multiple playthroughs, and even other choices that weren't typical at the time, like radio stations. The game broke my preconceived notions of what the medium could do at the time as a young runt, and still stands as one of Sega's crowning achievements. It was a magical experience stepping inside one of those cabinets, and although Highway Runners [$1.99] doesn't really hit all of the same notes, it's a nice little homage to a bygone era...

Twin-stick shooting. Roguelite elements. Pandas with heavy ordinance. It was inevitable that someone, at some point in human history, would put these things together into one game. Continuing my mop-up of games that missed getting a review upon their initial release, it's Feral Fury's turn at bat. This game has developed a strong following in the TouchArcade forums, both because of the quality of the game itself and because of its highly-responsive, courteous developer. Feral Fury [$1.99] walks along a similar path to games like Enter the Gungeon and Binding of Isaac, and although it's not quite up to the level of those games, it's still an awful lot of fun...

Pixeljam has revived their Flash game Snowball! [$1.99] for Steam and mobile, and the world is better off with this charming pinball game. The whole game is just one table, but it's an entertaining table, and a game that's absolutely gorgeous for pixel art aficionados, especially on a big enough screen. The table is intended to take place on the side of a mountain, with the pinball being a Snowball!, the flippers being wooden contraptions operated by people, and the area where your ball falls into being a campfire that melts the ball. It's charming...

'PinOut!' Review - A Pretty, Good Spin on Pinball

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December 30th, 2016 1:30 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Pinball, Reviews
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With the end of the year upon us, I'm doing my usual job of going back and picking out some games for review that for whatever reason didn't get one upon release. This year, most of the choices are coming from suggestions from the community, and one of the first games mentioned was PinOut! [Free]. Given that pinball is usually like catnip for me, I'm not sure why I missed this one to begin with. I imagine I was knee-deep in RPGs or something like that. At any rate, it's better late than never, so let's take a look at this stylish spin on one of the oldest electronic gaming genres...

While the music/rhythm genre has become somewhat stagnant on consoles, it’s been alive and well on mobile with ports of classics along with new twists to enjoy. Still, it’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a tried and true classic take on the rhythm genre. Pianista [Free] is an excellent new title that offers that exact experience with the added benefit of a treasure trove of classical music. In fact, when you combine the well-designed rhythm system with an interesting freemium system, there’s really no reason not to at least check it out...

If you were an iOS-only gamer following Capcom's Ace Attorney series, things probably got a little confusing with Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies [$0.99]. Why did it seem like Phoenix Wright was coming back to his job from a long time off? Who is this Apollo guy that takes up a third of the game? Wait, Phoenix has a daughter? What's up with that? I'm not sure why Capcom decided to give mobile players the fifth game in a series before the fourth one, but they've finally decided to fill that gap. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney [$0.99] is a beautiful remaster of the original game which, up until now, was exclusively found on the Nintendo DS. While the graphics aren't polygonal like Dual Destinies, they were originally rendered at a much higher resolution than the Game Boy Advance sprites that were redrawn for the Phoenix Wright Trilogy. It's also, for various reasons, generally not as well-liked as most of the other installments in the series. Nevertheless, it's safe to say that if you enjoyed your time in the courtroom in previous Ace Attorney games, you'll want to show up to the stand here, too...

Let me start this review with a spoiler; for me, Sports Interactive's Football Manager Touch 2017 [$19.99 (HD)] is probably the most complicated (yet still accessible), most replayable, and most entertaining game on the App Store. This is a game that lets you play any team from over 130 leagues across the world, and all those teams have their real-life players in their roster, and each of those players has his real-life stats (as well as those can be put into numbers). And you can play with that team for season after season all the while customizing it in all kinds of ways. I'm constantly amazed at all the little things I discover in this game as I go along, features and details that make playing the game faster while at the same time giving me more ways to interact with my team, my board, my training staff, and pretty much everyone in the world of Football Manager...

It makes perfect sense why publishers would want to milk the legacy of classic games as long as they can. Why wouldn't they? Very often for a lot of these retro releases they've withstood the test of time, being sold to generation upon generation without any sign of stopping. Bandai Namco is the king of that practice, having delivered us hundreds of Pac-Man ports, re-releases, and spinoffs in the past several decades. But what I love more than a port is an original take on a classic formula...

The game of chess may well have been one of the earliest examples of a game being easy to learn but hard to master. Learning how all of the pieces move and putting together a basic strategy towards getting a checkmate isn't that difficult, but the unpredictable nature of human behavior makes chess a game that always has something new to offer. There's almost always a move to make that could be considered the best, but it's only the best if your opponent reacts in the textbook way themselves. A strong chess player needs to study their opponent almost as intently as the board. That said, there's a lot to be said for learning some fundamental strategies, just in case your opponent plays things by the book. As an added bonus, that knowledge will help you if you decide to play Moveless Chess [Free]...

Let's be honest: Kemco's RPG release schedule on mobile has always been pretty absurd. They've only been at this for around five years on smartphones and they're nearing 50 RPGs on iOS in English, and even more than that on Android. That works out to an average of just under one RPG per month for five years running. Now, there's a fair bit of repetition from game to game, particularly if you're just looking at the broad outlines, but I feel they've historically been able to mitigate that issue by keeping a handful of developers on tap. This has helped differentiate the Kemco catalogue, to at least a small extent, and has also ensured that each developer has a bit of a buffer between releases...

Every now and again I like to look through old weekly new game posts to find worthwhile games that may have been overlooked. Especially with the light speed pace of the mobile market. If you like RPG survival games that capture a real sense of struggle with an atmosphere of otherworldly dread, then you’ll probably adore Dead in Bermuda [$4.99] from CCCP and Plug in Digital. The stuff that it does right, it really does right. It’s hilariously (probably realistically) difficult, but it was definitely worth the price of admission, which is way cheaper than an airline ticket to Bermuda and the psychological cost of crashing and having to survive with your wits alone...

There's very little that's more satisfying than an easy to grasp game. If it has shooting elements, great, it probably appeals to the little destroyer in us all. That's precisely why so many have flocked to Downwell [$2.99], as it has that "one more run" type of feel combined with a loveable art style and simple control scheme. It's something that you can just pick up and play, preferably on a convenient device like a smartphone, and just go to town with, for minutes or hours at a time. Spingun [Free] might not be as epic as some of those types of games, but it definitely has that feel...

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