Category Archives: 4 stars

One of the nice things about PC gaming is the ability to use your own custom hardware, and that includes sound, especially for headphone users. If you use headphones that require a headphone amplifier, want higher-quality sound through an external digital-to-analog converter, or virtual surround through headphones, there are numerous solutions for that!. Even on consoles, you have some options available through hardware solutions and increased compatibility with USB sound devices. But for mobile, it's pretty much been the headphone output port and the limited options iOS gives you. You could get line-out audio through the dock port and run it to a headphone amp, but any advanced audio beyond then might require being tethered to a desktop...

'Afterpulse' Review - Mobile Infantry

StarStarStarStarNone
November 3rd, 2015 1:00 PM EST by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Action, First Person Shooter, Free, Games, Reviews, Shooter, Universal
Free Buy Now

When I first saw footage of Afterpulse [Free] in soft launch, I almost couldn't believe what I was looking at. Developers are always claiming to have "console quality" graphics in their iOS games, but seeing this game in action was one of the first times I started believing the hype. In fact, some people in our forums thought it must be streaming from a server somewhere, because there's no way a mobile game could look that good (and have such a relatively tiny install size to boot, at less than 400MB). Well, I'm one of the few people around here to not have dummy accounts in other countries, so I anxiously waited until it would launch worldwide and I'd finally get to see how it played in person. And folks, that day has come and gone, and I've been have a gay ol' time shooting fools in the face since last week. There's no question the graphics are in a league of their own (for the time being), but does the rest of the game match up?..




Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons [$4.99] is a tragic story about personal loss and the things we do to deal with those situations. For example, when Sony's The Last Guardian appeared to have been canceled and designer Fumito Ueda left the company, I coped by replaying Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus. Starbreeze Studios, on the other hand, appear to have coped by creating this game, a gushing love letter to one of gaming's most unique developers. It would have been easy for this to feel cynical or uninspired, but to its credit, Brothers generally feels like its own gorgeous thing, albeit with a few tips of the hat here and there. While I didn't feel it quite hit the target it was aiming for, it's still a trip worth taking...

RPG mechanics, if implemented correctly, can give a game a shot in the arm when it comes to replay value. If done poorly, it can create the feeling of a grind, which are unfortunately often paired with enticing microtransactions. While it's a fine line to walk, I feel like a lot of mobile games are doing it right, and entice players to forge on, getting the best pieces of gear like any fully-fledged release. One such game is Dash Quest [Free] -- a runner with a ton of goodies to sift through...

Beat 'em ups were the perfect way to pass the time back in the day. They were simple in nature, often two players, and despite their mindless core, were often some of the most fun games on any individual platform. There's hardly any nuances to the gameplay for most of them -- you basically just need to dodge slightly and attack when there's an opening -- but the linear nature is a nice break if you're looking to relax. That's sort of the same feeling that Leave Me Alone [$2.99] left me with, but it has its own signature personality as well...

Depending on your persuasion, the first thing you'll do when you fire up Please, Don't Touch Anything [$4.99] and get the one bit of narrative over how you shouldn't touch anything is one of two things. One, you'll do nothing and the game will end when the person who told you not to touch anything returns. Two, you hit the big red button, flip the switch that pops up, and then hit the button again. This causes the city on the screen in front of you to blow up. Whoops!..

How difficult do you like your games? Do you like them punishingly difficult, to where you will have to play a level dozens of times in order to beat it? Congratulations, Astra [$2.99], a level-based orbital platformer, is for you. It's fun to play and features some of my favorte mechanics in orbital platformers. Here, you run around a planet and jump to other planets to make it through the levels, bopping enemies and nabbing collectibles on the way. I tend to not be the biggest fan of orbital games at times, because I find it difficult to be accurate with launching off to where you want to go. I get that's kind of the point, but sometimes I struggle to have fun with these games. But I enjoyed the way Astra's orbital platforming works. ..

Much as I've enjoyed recent releases from gamebook publisher Tin Man Games, I have to admit there's been one area I've wanted to see some improvement in that has remained largely static across the bulk of their releases: the combat system. Given that the raison d'etre for the company has been to bring Fighting Fantasy-style gamebooks to mobile as accurately as possible, it's hard to complain too much about the simple dice-based back-and-forth battles they've used in many of their releases. Still, the occasional tantalizing flash of something more, as in their brilliant conversion of Appointment With F.E.A.R. [$5.99], has had me wishing they would take greater advantage of not being shackled to the rules of physical books...

In space, nobody can hear you scream because you were just slightly off with that black hole you placed down, careening your ship just to the side of the key you needed, flying into the barrier around the goal that you thought would be down. Maybe next time, AGRAV [Free]. This game of black holes will fluster you, but it's rewarding, and its entry price point – 30 levels for free with an IAP for more – is unbeatable...

'Lunar Flowers' Review - Rock the Dragon

StarStarStarStarNone
October 22nd, 2015 12:30 PM EST by Chris Carter in 4 stars, Free, Games, iPad Models, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

I think the games as art debate is pretty much done in my view. Yes, games can be art, and in their own unique way, provide us with an alternate viewpoint that can enrich us both spiritually and culturally. While Lunar Flowers [Free] isn't exactly a life-changing event, it's a pretty fun little game, and a beautiful work of art...

Shooty Skies [Free] is a chaotic, endless arcade shooter by some of the same people who created Crossy Road [Free]. This follow-up to the viral hit uses the same quirky and cute style, featuring a variety of blocky animals and anthropomorphized electronics, but amps up the action one hundred fold. This arcade flyer puts the player behind the wheel of an aircraft loaded with pixel-shooting guns and drops them into a sky filled with a strange assortment of enemies that will barrage you with a variety of projectiles – joystick controllers, hamburgers, cans of soda, dollar bills, axes...

Skeletomb [Free], by Punk Labs, is a retro-style endless dungeon crawler set in a pixelated fantasy world whose "blocky" design is a nod to Minecraft's infamous aesthetic. With precious few lives, this game will have you frantically dashing, jumping, and swinging to try to survive as long as possible and climb deeper into this fun but deadly world. There are 28 characters to unlock, including a White Knight, a Skeleton, the "Dan in a Box" (think Jack-in-a-Box with a club), a Jester, and the Viking-like Bourboness, to name a few. The game doesn't take itself too seriously, which is an appropriate match to the quirky and simple art style. ..

The biggest strength of interactive fiction is in how it lets the player shape the story of the game. While other genres are improving in that regard, they're limited largely due to the costs associated with visual and audio assets. It simply doesn't make sense to spend millions of dollars on content that only a small percentage of players will experience. Text isn't quite free, but it's certainly a lot cheaper. That said, with all of that freedom, there are still an awful lot of games in the genre that have you playing a similar character in the broad sense. Violence may not be a useful answer in our modern society, but it will sure get you far in plenty of games. Ratings War [$2.99] does something different, and in doing so, feels a lot more real in spite of its far-flung futuristic setting. You play as a journalist, and although you get to decide what kind of journalist you are, there's very little room for action-heroics in this story...

Like many popular figures, PewDiePie tends to get a mixed reaction. A whole lot of people love him. At least 39,743,403 people, at the time of writing this. A lot of people hate him. I'm sure some will stop by the comments down below. Then, there are people who have no strong feelings either way. Perhaps they've lived in Japan for a long time or something, I don't know. Group A, you already bought PewDiePie: Legend Of The Brofist [$4.99]. I'd bet you like it quite a bit, because there are a lot of jokes and references in the game that I haven't got a hot clue about. That almost certainly means the fanservice is probably off the charts...

'Hocus' Review - They're Illusions, Michael

StarStarStarStarNone
October 8th, 2015 11:28 AM EST by Nathan Reinauer in $0.99, 4 stars, Games, Maze, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

When I was a kid my dad taught me how to draw a Penrose triangle, which is regarded as one of the purest example of an impossible object. I drew it on everything, and my poor teachers at the time probably thought my family was part of some secret order or something. I just find the shape kind of fascinating since it forces your brain to reset itself depending on where you’re looking. Also, isn’t it slightly mind blowing that in order to depict an object too complicated to exist in three dimensional space, you have to dumb it down to a flat plane? Maybe “too complicated” isn’t the right way to describe it (indeed, the fact that it’s missing a dimension is precisely what allows the illusion to work), but there’s still something rather enigmatic about impossible shapes. And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so, since there are quite a few games that use the idea as the basis for mind warping puzzles. Like Hocus [$0.99], for example...

It was four years ago that EA bought Firemint, and many people at the time were worried about the latter studio’s future. Surely this would be the end of the beloved developer who brought us App Store classics like Flight Control and the Real Racing series, right? Surely EA would suck the life out of them and add mountains of IAP and other shenanigans? Well, a few years (and a merger with fellow Aussies Iron Monkey) later we got Need For Speed: Most Wanted [$4.99] and Real Racing 3 [Free], two games that are incredibly well-made and fun. (Admittedly, RR3’s pay model was pretty controversial when it came out, but it still ended up becoming one of my favorite racers on iOS.) And now we have their latest, Need For Speed: No Limits [Free]. It’s the first game I’ve played from Firemonkeys where I can sense many of the EA doomsayers’ predictions coming true. This game is unabashedly, almost aggressively free-to-play, to the point where even the title seems like EA is laughing at us. But… is it fun?..

Some games do ten things relatively well in an attempt to grab as big an audience as they can; a CCG fighting game with roleplay elements is not unheard of on the App Store. This trend has definitely seen an uptick recently as developers either dip a toe in every possible pool in sight or copy already-successful games such as Clash of Clans. However, you also have games like Raceline CC [Free] which focus on one mechanic and one idea and try to do it as best they can. Raceline CC is all about motorbike drag racing with an emphasis on slip-streaming, and that's pretty much it. However, while the game has one mechanic throughout the whole game, it is done quite well and proves once more that one idea done very well beats many ideas done relatively well, just as long as you actually like that one idea. So, if you like drag racing games with nice visuals, plenty of small variations on a theme (in the form of various tournaments and championships), and you don't mind playing mostly in short bursts, then you'll enjoy Raceline CC...

'Magic Flute by Mozart' Review - One Time At Bandcamp

StarStarStarStarNone
September 29th, 2015 12:00 PM EST by Nathan Reinauer in $1.99, 4 stars, Games, Music / Rhythm, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$3.99 Buy Now

I first heard about Mozart's opera The Magic Flute when I was a music major in college. I remember thinking the title was sort of ridiculous, and the plot seemed equally silly. Something about a guy and his bird buddy meeting some witches or something and then rescuing a princess somewhere. And, of course, there's a magical flute. It was hard to take seriously since opera was never my thing, but reading about it on wikipedia all these years later it actually sounds kind of interesting. The main plot is supposed to be kind of light and silly, but underneath there's a subtext about religion, reason, and enlightment. Oh! And there's an iPhone game based on it now. Did I mention that part?..

One of the things I like about Japanese visual novels as opposed to their Western interactive fiction counterparts is they seemingly habitually go completely off the rails at points. No matter how mundane the premise might be, it's almost an expectation in the genre that the story take a lot of unexpected turns. At least in my experience, it's the strongest quality of a visual novel, since the choices you make tend to be few, far between, and not immediately all that important. The other interesting thing about them is that while there is a true ending, it's typically not possible to find it on your first playthrough. You have to explore multiple routes and sometimes have to piece together the right sequence to see the real ending. This can result in players having to put up with a great deal of overlap, particularly early in the game, as they make their way to each forked path...

What do you get when you cross the idea of sentient objects from Toy Story with eastern philosophies of reincarnation, but instead of toys, the objects are tools of all kinds, from phones to frying pans to bullets to weapons of mass destruction? You get one of the stranger games available on the App Store. Throw in a great minimalist silhouette art style and puzzles of death and blood shed, and you’ve got Redden [$2.99], a nifty title from earlier this summer that I nearly overlooked entirely...

Copyright 2014, TouchArcade.com, LLC.