Category Archives: 4 stars

Frequent readers of TouchArcade know that I enjoy gamebooks quite a bit. What can I say? I grew up during the rise of Choose Your Own Adventures, when a pocket RPG meant a bunch of words written by Steve Jackson that you had to steal the dice from the family Monopoly set to play. It's more than just simple nostalgia, though. Call me an old curmudgeon, or maybe just a guy looking out for his livelihood, but I feel like there's a particular imaginative power to the written word that can't quite be matched by any other form of expression. That fight with the giant lizard king never turns out quite as awesome in illustrated or animated form as it does in your mind as you read the words off of a page. I'm thrilled that gamebooks have come back with a vengeance on mobiles. It's a perfect home for them, and allows developers and authors to push their ideas beyond the constraints of a physical media, while still using good old-fashioned words to beam the finest of adventures into your head...

Cubus Games is a relative newcomer to the surprisingly burgeoning gamebook market on the App Store, with Heavy Metal Thunder [$2.99] being just their second release. Mobile gamers have been getting spoiled lately by the heavy competition between the existing gamebook publishers, with each new release finding new ways to push beyond what was possible with an actual paper book. Heavy Metal Thunder won't be joining that particular arms race, but it does deliver a reasonably exciting adventure with some occasionally shaky but always enthusiastic writing. In most ways it's a very orthodox entry into the genre, though I do give it credit for its strong use of audio, and while it may lack in ambition, it's a very well-put together, enjoyable bit of pulp sci-fi action...

There are plenty of negative things to be said about Goat Simulator [$4.99]. Its controls are difficult to manage, and lead to many awkward camera angles and difficult attempts at navigating. The visuals...are not the peak of 3D modeling. The world is a bit small, and while there's plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, you can see most of this game in a short amount of time. The game's general clumsiness makes it difficult to manage the skill-based aspects, and to complete some of the achievements. And the game is generally kinda buggy, with the goat's head getting stuck and warped in fences, occasionally just falling through the earth, and the odd crash or two. The whole thing is a joke that runs its course not too long after playing it...

Yes, I went for the low-hanging fruit with the review title. Let's just try to move past that and get to the game I want to tell you about today, Kapsula [$1.99]. This is a pretty unusual game. If it wasn't so utterly out there with its theme, I'd almost think it was the product of some bizarre marketing meeting. This is basically a lane-based endless runner mixed with a match-3 puzzle game, and I'll let you try to hash out how that might work for a second before I spoil it all for you...

It's something that mobile gamers probably overlook more often than we should, but audio can add tremendously to the experience you get from a game. From the throaty growling threats of Sinistar to the playful jingle that plays when you die in Super Mario Bros. to the unsettling atmosphere of Bioshock, video games have always used sound to subtly manipulate the emotional state of the player. Unfortunately, the very nature of how and where most handheld games are played means a lot of us rarely hear the games that engage us so well. You're going to have to trust me on one thing, though, and that's that if you play Shoot The Moon [Free], you're going to want to do it with the sound on...

Gameloft's newest release, Spider-Man Unlimited [Free], makes me feel all complicated inside. Regular readers will know that I tend to prefer my running games to be simple and gimmick-free, and this game is anything but that. Of course, regular readers will also know that I can't resist a game based on superhero comics. I expected that to be my struggle with the game, but in a surprise twist, it's not. This is probably the most fun I've had with a gimmick-heavy runner this side of Iron Man 3 [Free]. It has a ton of gameplay variety, a great goal-based structure to accompany its endless running mode, exceptional fan service, and a few ridiculously compelling tricks borrowed from Puzzle & Dragons [Free]-style games. As a huge Spider-Man fan, playing this game is an absolute joy. Unfortunately, leveling up an assortment of collectible characters isn't the only way Spider-Man Unlimited borrowed from that popular genre, and therein lay the proverbial fly, or I suppose spider, in the soup...

One of the cool things about video games is how they let you do things that you might not be very good at in real life. For example, in the real world, I am about as stealthy as a cow on ice skates, but in video games, I can be a master big boss ninja. Stealth games were around as early as 1981's 005 from SEGA and enjoyed a few brief spikes of popularity around certain titles like Castle Wolfenstein on the Apple II and Konami's Metal Gear on the MSX, but for the most part, it was a genre waiting for technology to catch up with its ambitions. Finally, in the late 1990s, the genre broke out in a big way on the backs of titles like Metal Gear Solid, Thief, and Tenchu, and would keep going strong with heavy hitter franchises like Splinter Cell and Assassin's Creed. These big franchises are still going at it, though at times with a reduced emphasis on pure stealth, but the genre's recently been seeing a lot more small-scale projects. I think Stealth [$1.99] represents one of the smallest yet, having been created by just one person...

'MUJO' Review - A Fresh Take on Match Three

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September 10th, 2014 6:14 PM EDT by Andrew Fretz in $1.99, 4 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, iPod touch games, Puzzle, Reviews
$1.99 Buy Now

If Percy Jackson found himself in the Paper Mario universe, he might be playing MUJO[$1.99]. Finally seeing worldwide release, MUJO has had about a month in soft release to tighten up it's loose ends. Audio and visuals are clean and enjoyable, and while I never thought I would describe fighting a medusa with cheery music as a cohesive theme, it is. I think we all know that match three puzzle games have gotten a lot of exposure, and I don't think we have really seen a lull in the stream of saccharine inspired clones either. With that said, there is enough innovation with this game to warrant a closer look...

The cooperative element of Lucky Frame's new puzzle-roguelike The Nightmare Cooperative [$3.99] reveals itself after a few quick crawls through the game's tile-floored dungeon. Your party of up to four Miners, Archers, and Warriors moves as a single entity, sliding up, down, right, and left in unison with each swipe of your finger. With these strictures in place, its your job to guide your ragged band through 16-odd levels littered with wolves, pits, yetis, and executioners carrying gilded pitchforks. ..

Are you the type of gamer that likes to get angry at a game? You're going to be quite interested in Glue Knight [Free], if so. I mean that in the kindest possible way, too. Glue Knight is a really cool game, with reliable controls, exciting level designs, and a really good tempo overall. It's also cruelly difficult in a way I haven't personally experienced in about a year. This is a level-based auto-run platformer where death comes swift and often, and the only real way to succeed is to have superhuman reflexes or die, die, and die some more until you learn the right sequence. I know some of you out there must dig this because even I sometimes get a kick out of games like this...

'Bioshock' Review - Is An iOS Gamer Not Entitled To A Mobile Rapture?

It’s been seven years since Irrational Games (formerly 2K Boston) unleashed the world of Bioshock upon gamers. An amazing tale set within the underwater city of Rapture, Bioshock was the perfect combination of exploration and FPS with excellent thematics and a story that offered some pretty awesome twists. Now, after a few previews, Bioshock [$10.99] for iOS is finally upon us, brining a new generation of gamers and a new platform to the world of Rapture. The transition hasn’t been perfect, but Bioshock is still great where it counts, and that’s what’s most important...

The genre label 'Metroidvania' is a combination of Metroid and Castlevania, referring to just about any Metroid game and the post-Symphony of the Night Castlevania games largely overseen by Koji Igarashi. The genre itself, though, stretches back pretty far, and there's at least one series concurrent to Metroid and well before Symphony that hasn't really gotten its due in the grand history of things. I'm referring to Westone's Monster World series, which spun of out the action-oriented Wonder Boy, got a lot of confusing localizations and revisions, and sadly bowed out after the 16-bit console generation. It's a great series that had a lot of clear influence on later titles such as Shantae [$2.99], but seems to get little credit for its contributions to the genre. With that in mind, I am not going to call Ninja Smasher [$3.99] a Metroidvania. It's a non-linear action game with a big, interconnected map where you find new abilities to open up new routes, but at least in my estimation, this game is taking notes less from Metroid or Igarashi's Castlevania and more from Westone's colorful, cartoonish adventures...

I always love to see a game that doesn't take itself too seriously. If it also happens to be genuinely funny at times, that's even better. Ace Ferrara And The Dino Menace [$2.99] packs in enough self-awareness, charm, and humor, it's easy to forgive some of the failings in its gameplay. It's a space shooter that feels a lot like a Saturday morning cartoon, with a colorful cast of characters, a goofy plot to take over Earth, and plenty of action. The gameplay also feels like it's tuned for a younger crowd, with short, easy to clear missions and very simple controls. Veteran starfighters looking for their next battle probably won't be satisified, at the very least. As a fun little popcorn experience, however, Ace Ferrara has a lot going for it...

It's been almost four years since the original They Need To Be Fed [$0.99] made its way from PCs to iOS. We at TouchArcade liked it a lot when we reviewed it then, and when its follow-up appeared on the App Store last year, we liked that one a lot, too. Well, just last week, Bit Ate Bit released They Need To Be Fed 3 [$1.99], and it's no surprise that I like it a lot. I'm sure nobody was expecting them to punt on this when they've got the formula down, though, so the bigger question is whether, with a shorter span of time between sequels, Bit Ate Bit was able to up the ante the way they did with the second game...

With an isometric visual style vaguely reminiscent of Smash Cops, Pako - Car Chase Simulator [$1.99] gives off a pretty cool vibe of fast cars, hot action and hectic gameplay. For the most part, actually playing Pako lives up to those ideals as well. While the game itself is pretty basic, Pako offers enough in terms of variety and appeal to keep players coming back for more...

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