Category Archives: 4 stars

Interactive fiction, or choose-your-own adventure as we often call it, has been divisive in gamer circles. Some consider it a legitimate form of interactive entertainment while others see it more like a book than a game. When it comes to interactive fiction, I fall firmly on the side of those who see anything that involves player interaction as a game, so this is as far as I'm willing to entertain the game vs not game debate. Still, interactive fiction games come with various levels of interactivity that can often make those games feel either closer to a book or closer to a video game. What Bromoco Games, the developers of Buried [$2.99], set out to do when developing its game was to bring interactive fiction closer to a more "traditional" video game by including numerous photos and also choice indicators reminiscent of Telltale games (for instance, "X will remember that)...

If a buffalo dances in space, does it make a sound?..




Jared Bailey (aka No Can Win) is one of my favorite developers on the App Store. I loved Cubed Rally Racer [$0.99], and was near-obsessed with the follow-up, Cubed Rally Redline [Free]. After that, though, he started focusing on much simpler Ketchapp-style games that weren’t really my cup o’ tea. The last game of his (which I reviewed) was called Super Bounce Back [Free], and it seemed to be a step back in the right direction, with a clever concept that was slightly more involved than the “one-button-quick-reaction” style games he’d been putting out after the Cubed Rally series. And fortunately for me (and you, I suppose), his latest effort Rocket Ski Racing [Free] climbs out of that inverted bell curve even further. Simply put, it’s a blast...

Once upon a time, in the long-ago days before mankind knew how to wield fire, you could count the number of Kemco RPGs on the App Store on one hand. Among those early releases, one of the best games was Fantasy Chronicle [$4.99], among the first iOS releases from developer Hit-Point. Unlike their Kemco stablemate EXE-Create, Hit-Point isn't too big on making sequels to their games, preferring to come up with something a little different each time. It's a little surprising, then, to see Fantasy Chronicle get a sequel after several years. If Justice Chronicles [$4.99] is any indication, I think I'd like to see Hit-Point make sequels more often...

Having grown up with a controller in my hand, I've learned quite a few skills by way of video games, ranging from vocabulary enhancements, to motor skills, and even things like geography. One of the more practical things I picked up though is general sports knowledge. In fact, it's where I first learned golf, with my uncle breaking down the specific function of each club, and when to use them.  But the game of golf never really took for me, and to really get into the sport of it, I needed a bit of persuasion, sometimes of the fantastical variety. Enter Kirby's Dream Course on the SNES, with wonderful gimmicks like ball morphing and leaping over pitfalls and other hazards, and I was in. I never thought that 20 years later, I'd be writing about a similar experience on iOS, but here we are with Frank the Dillo [$0.99]...

'CaRRage' Review - Twisted Mobile

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January 5th, 2016 10:11 AM EDT by Chris Carter in 4 stars, Action, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Universal
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Car combat is one of my favorite subgenres, despite the fact that it flies under the radar in just about every generation. My first taste was probably Rock 'n' Roll Racing on the SNES, before I graduated to the PlayStation platform, with Twisted Metal and Vigilante 8, among others. There's something exhilarating about racing in a fast-paced environment while explosions are happening all over the screen, especially in some of the more flair-heavy games. While CaRRage [Free] isn't as iconic as the aforementioned titles, it's an incredibly fun way to pass the time on your mobile device...

'Grayout' Review - How Do I Word?

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Neven Mrgan and James Moore's Grayout [$2.99] is a word game, but in a unique sense that it plays with words in ways you might not necessarily expect. You are Alaine, who is suffering from aphasia, a condition that affects communication, which manifests itself in this game as where you have a whole pile of words to respond to messages from the doctors allegedly treating you. You need to form sentences, and it starts out just from having a bunch of different words that are designed to fool you from their slight differences as to how they play out in the sentence, eventually getting to the point where the words become warped, and you have to piece together sentences going through several layers of aphasia-induced difficulty...

It's often said that in game development, ideas are cheap. What that means is that everyone has ideas for games, but actually bringing an idea to the finish line and creating an honest-to-goodness final product requires a lot of hard work and dedication from people with particular skills. I think it's not so much meant to say that a good idea is worth nothing, just that it's easier to come up with a decent idea than it is to actually make it. Good ideas are still an important part of any great game, and every once in a while, someone has an idea so good that it can carry entire games or series. Such is the case with Scribblenauts, previously seen on iOS in the form of the best hits-style Scribblenauts Remix [$0.99]. The game has plenty of rough edges, but the idea behind it is 100% solid gold. More stunningly, developer 5th Cell was able to largely realize that golden idea, and were richly rewarded for their efforts...

I'm so glad that so many old school conventions are still commonplace in this industry. Tons of retro genres are seeing a resurgence, particularly roguelikes and adventure titles, and a lot of them end up on the mobile platform, bringing the meeting of old and new full circle. Tales of a Viking: Episode One [$0.99] has a few fundamental flaws for sure, but it handles grid-based combat with more grace than a lot of its competitors...

I like roguelikes, don't get me wrong. I like the replayability that comes from their procedurally-generated structure, and I enjoy the challenge. I'm having a ton of fun right now with Rust Bucket [Free] from Nitrome, for example. But sometimes I think there's a value that comes from level design, of having an experience that was deliberately designed by someone. Thus, while Into the Dim [Free] looked like a roguelike, and has some of the hallmarks such as the turn-by-turn basis and the bumping into enemies to attack them, the game's fixed nature helps make it stand out among a sea of roguelike dungeon crawlers...

Nitrome's Rust Bucket [Free] is a really fun turn-based roguelike, it's just not quite complete yet. Sometimes it's unfair to compare one game to another, but comparing Rust Bucket to Ending [$1.99] is a totally fair comparison because the designer of both games is Aaron Steed, who also worked on Turnament for Nitrome. So, what you're getting is a game that's an evolution and refinement on those games' formulas. Standard turn-based roguelike rules are in play here: you move one square at a time, then all the enemies take their turns, all according to various predictable rules. The challenge comes in when you're trying to survive among several groups of enemies, where one hit kills you. It's tough but fair...

There's something to be said about striking the cultural zeitgeist at the right time. Power Hover [$0.99] drops right when people are getting into hoverboards, what with the fascination over this being the year that Back to the Future Part 2 took place in, and those little scooter things that are called hoverboards despite not actually hovering. But I guess they have no better name. Point is, hoverboards are blowing up. Literally. And Power Hover is here to be an entertaining game where you race through deserts, on the ocean, and through tubes, on a hoverboard. It's solid if not amazing, but fun for the time you'll sink into it...

The Gamevice for iPhone, rolling out to retail now, is a device that's both very functional, even showing some improvements on the earlier release of the model for the iPad Mini. It's a great controller, and its folding design makes it extremely portable. But it's held back in part by its high price, and by several functional trade-offs mandated by Apple requirements, not to mention the non-working Handoff functionality. It's a tough sell for the general consumer, but the Gamevice for iPhone is a solid controller if you're in for the $99.99 price, and you know exactly what you're getting...

Rayman is one of those franchises that always lights my face up when I play it. Despite my issues with a few of the older games, the newer generation of titles have been nothing short of amazing, and I'm including both mobile runners in that conversation. Rayman Jungle Run [$2.99] and Rayman Fiesta Run [$2.99] were excellent translations of the formula to the mobile platform, and although they're technically runners, they operate more like a platformer hybrid, and don't sacrifice any of the quality that the series is known for. Rayman Adventures [Free] is more of the same in that regard, with several holdups inherently related to its free-to-play nature...

'BLOCnog' Review - Slip Sliding Away

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December 11th, 2015 12:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in $1.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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If I ever see a grid-based puzzle game, I jump at the opportunity to play it. Ever since I experienced Chip's Challenge so many years back I became addicted, and there's something so orderly at the concept of solving puzzles in a uniform format. BLOCnog [$0.99] is one such game, but it's conceal beneath a devlishly cute premise, and some very interesting concepts...

'CineMagic' Review - Match Three: The Movie

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December 10th, 2015 11:00 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Free, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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In the small town where I grew up, my parents run a little single-screen movie theatre called the Sunset. We spent a few years living in an apartment above it when I was a kid, and my first job was taking tickets at the box office. I still love going there when I visit my parents, even though I don’t always stay to watch the shows (which only play on weekends, of course.) Movie theatres are familiar and comfortable to me, and spending most of my life around one instilled me with a deep love and appreciation of movies and filmmaking in general. The folks at Jamwix seem to feel exactly the same way, and it shows in their latest app, CineMagic [Free]...

'Code Of Arms' Review - Bar Versus The World

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December 8th, 2015 11:30 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 4 stars, Card, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Strategy
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In a review of a different game that made use of barcode scanning, I talked about how I've always been enamored of the idea, but rarely found the games attached to the scanning to be of much merit. Well, I've finally found a pretty decent game that integrates barcode scanning. It's called Code Of Arms [Free], and it's basically like a simplified version of Dungelot [$1.99] fused with a card battler. If you enjoyed that game, you'll probably enjoy this one even if the scanning mechanic does nothing for you. Best of all, it's inexplicably free, without even so much as ads to support it...

'Starlit Adventures' Review - Time For Adventure

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December 3rd, 2015 11:00 AM EDT by Nadia Oxford in 4 stars, Free, Review, Reviews
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Video games have given us a wide variety of mounts, including dinosaurs, dragons, bears, and other creatures that would likely sink their teeth into our squishy human heads if we had the gall to jump on their backs. But Rockhead Games' Starlit Adventures [Free] lets us go for a ride on a truly unique critter: A giant star-nosed mole named Kikki who admittedly looks far cuter than the real animal. Seriously, have you ever looked at a star-nosed mole head-on? It looks like someone stapled the facehugger from Alien to a blind rat...

It seems like 2015 is the year of long-awaited games finally releasing. This year we've had Spider: Rite Of The Shrouded Moon [$4.99], Galactic Keep [$3.99], The Room Three [$4.99], and Dragon Fantasy: The Black Tome Of Ice [$9.99], among others, and it looks like we're going to be ending the year with another game that's been stewing for awhile: the follow-up to 2010's Aralon: Sword And Shadow [$4.99], from Galoobeth Games and Crescent Moon Games. For its time, Aralon was almost unbelievable for a mobile game. Offering a big 3D world that felt considerably more detail, open, and alive than the one found in Crescent Moon's previous title, Ravensword, Aralon felt like a big step towards having a fully-featured, modern, WRPG-style game on iOS. That was in 2010, however, and I'm sure I don't need to tell anyone how the market and player expectations have shifted in the intervening half-decade. Aralon: Forge And Flame [$4.99] is stepping out into a much different world than the one that welcomed its predecessor, and it doesn't quite have the sizzle to fill the footsteps it's walking in...

Late last year, iOS gamers were treated to an excellent port of the cult classic Xbox title Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath [$2.99]. In my review of that game, I sounded off on the series on the whole, making no bones about my admiration for the tight design and excellent gameplay found in Stranger's Wrath, referring to it as without question the developer's best game. I also made no secret of my feelings about the previous games in the series, which I've always felt were lovingly-crafted but ultimately quite middling outside of their production values and strong art direction. I think there are valid reasons why they were like that, but the point remains that I don't think very highly of the gameplay they offer. I guess that's kind of a foreboding way to start this review, but stay with me...

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