Category Archives: 4 stars

'Abzorb' Review - Avoid and Conquer

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March 8th, 2016 10:06 AM EST 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...




There are a handful of genres that I will likely never tire of, and one of them is dungeon crawling. Whether it's of the CRPG or ARPG variety, the thrill of soot is something I find insatiable. Whether it's "one more run" for that slightly better chestplate or the thrill of beating a new boss for a horde of gold, the constant positive reinforcement is on point. That's how Don't Die in Dungeons [Free] feels...

Virtually everything can be made better by doing it in space. Except breathing oxygen, I suppose. And eating potato chips. And using the toilet. Okay, let's revise that. Some things can be made better by doing them in space, and engaging in capitalistic ventures just happens to be one of them. The core principles of buying low and selling high simply go well with traversing a lonely universe and battling space pirates. Perhaps unsurprisingly, iOS gamers already have a few games to choose from in this style, including games that focus mostly on trading mechanics at the expense of action or visual flourish, ones that put most of their eggs in the combat basket, and some that try to dazzle you with their slick presentation and sense of immersion in order to build a believable universe. Simply put, there's a fair bit of established competition for Stellar Wanderer [$4.99], albeit little of it recent...

Asdivine Menace [Free / $4.99] represents something of a benchmark for prolific JRPG publisher Kemco. While it's not the first time they've released a sequel, or even the first time characters have returned from a previous game, this is the first time they've put out an RPG where the story directly follows up on the game that came before, right down to sharing the same main character. While you don't need to have played Asdivine Dios [Free / $7.99] to enjoy this game, if you have, you're going to get a lot more out of it. Furthermore, playing even a short way into Asdivine Menace will completely spoil the story of Dios right down to the ending, so tread carefully if you haven't finished that game yet. It's not just a follow-up in story terms, either. Unlike previous Kemco sequels, this game actually keeps all of the gameplay systems from the last game, adding only a couple of new things of its own. For some, this game might prove to be too much of a rehash from a publisher that already recycles a little too much, but if you enjoyed Asdivine Dios, I think you'll be happy with where this sequel takes the story...

Cartoon Network has been my go-to animated block for years. I remember when it first debuted (complete with plenty of teaser commercials) and hosted master-crafted shows like Dexter's Lab and Powerpuff Girls (which is coming back by the way!) and smiling throughout. Over time Adult Swim ushered me into my teens. In recent years it gave birth to Adventure Time and my personal favorite, Regular Show, while publishing games on the side...

'Rogue Agent' Review - Sneak and Spy

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February 23rd, 2016 11:47 AM EST by Chris Carter in $1.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Strategy, Universal
Free Buy Now

I think we'll be playing stealth games forever. While combat is what most people crave, there's a definite appeal to sneaking around and avoiding conflict that so many people resonate with. That's where Rogue Agent [Free] comes in, providing tons of subversion in the shadows while maintaining a quasi-interesting clandestine storyline...

Some games we play for the excitement, some we play for scares, and some we play for the challenge. And then there are games like Tsuro [$4.99], the digital port of the 2004 board game, that are all about introspection, the kind of game you play while lying on a couch with a glass of wine (or your spirit of choice) in one hand and the iPad in the other. Thunderbox Entertainment gladly took the challenge of bringing Tsuro to mobile and has done a pretty good job representing the abstract board game on the iPad and iPhone screens. Going with a "zero UI" philosophy, the developers tried to create a sense of immediacy between the player and the board and they have, mostly, succeeded. They tried to give us a faithful representation of how it feels to play the physical game, but at the same time also added 3 new ways to play the game, expanding Tsuro's challenge and replayability...

The problem with gaming headsets is that you're often trading quality for convenience. And the expensive gaming headsets don't often mean that you're getting a better product if you care about sound quality. Many premium brands focus on style and branding and the sound quality suffers. If you want to drop some serious coin on a gaming headset, don't. Buy a good set of headphones, preferably open-back ones, and add your own mic. But there is a line where the cost of adding a mic to a set of headphones is prohibitive. Right now, the HyperX Clous sits on that line. Audiophile communities name these as one of the few gaming headsets they recommend. So, after a PAX South meeting with HyperX, I took the Cloud II for a spin...

Ellipsis [$3.99] feels at first like it should be a tilt game, taking place in a small arena and with all sorts of abstract shapes. Thankfully, it doesn't – it would be awkward if it and Abzorb [$2.99] came out the same week – but instead is a touch-based game. And the touch part of the experience plays a major role. You move your blue circle around, trying to hit the blue targets, while dodging anything that's red. Blue = good, red = deadly. But the game is all about dodging hazards while collecting the things you need to unlock the exit, while trying to perform as well as possible. It's a game whose quality is pretty solid, but it reveals some clever things and does small things well. Ellipsis is a tough game to evaluate, because it might not reach the dizzying heights of the absolute best games, but its design is subtly brilliant, with few demerits...

Shadow Blade: Reload [$4.99] is not a sequel to Shadow Blade [$1.99], but an enhanced re-release of the original. The best way to describe this in relation to the original Shadow Blade is that this is like returning to a piece of work completed a while ago, and doing some further work to it to improve it in some way. For example, one of my favorite bands, Fair to Midland, had a bunch of songs that appeared on earlier albums that they cleaned up and re-recorded along with new material for their major label debut, Fables from a Mayfly...

'Pull My Tongue' Review - Harm a Harm a Harm a Chameleon

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February 12th, 2016 2:00 PM EST by Nathan Reinauer in $0.99, 4 stars, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

For me, one of the marks of a good puzzle game is when the main mechanics are so simple and intuitive that you have a hard time seeing how the game could possibly get challenging--and then it does. Pull My Tongue [$0.99], the latest game published by Noodlecake, is kinda like that. The first level introduces you to the core concept, which basically never changes: There’s a lizard who wants a piece of popcorn, and all you need to do is pull the tongue out of his mouth until it reaches his buttery prize. Sure, the game eventually starts adding more things to get in his way, but at the end of the day you’ll still be simply stretching the tongue to the popcorn...

'Splash Cars' Review - Black and White and Sped All Over

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February 12th, 2016 10:29 AM EST by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
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When you first lay eyes on Craneballs’ latest game Splash Cars [Free], there’s a good chance the phrase “Pako [$0.99] meets Nintendo’s Splatoon” might come to your mind. And let’s face it: if it didn’t have the painting gimmick of the latter, the game would probably be little more than a clone of the former. In my mind, though, I can’t help but see the 1998 film Pleasantville. It depicted a black and white town from a fictional 1950’s TV show, and how the characters (and town) slowly begin turning multicolored as they are introduced to the messy, complicated joys of real life for the first time. Certainly going on a high-speed chase would have counted, right?..

Knotmania [$2.99] is the kind of game that's best enjoyed by people who get satisfaction from untangling complicated wire tangles. I don't know how headphone cords get so magically knotted up with no difficulty like that, but at least in Knotmania, you're dealing with living worm-like creatures that tangle themselves up of their own volition. Your goal: untangle those suckers. Frankly, it's the only hypothesis I've seen that makes sense. Wires are alive, and Knotmania is training for the great wire war that lies ahead of us...

I am a major fan of Orangepixel's games. The solo developer should be remembered by history as a unique, standout artist, despite his games not being the kind of artsy-fartsy stuff you'd typically expect to be called artsy. But it's because his games always have this unique touch to them in the art and gameplay that makes them feel unique compared to other games, even ones from consistent studios. The games having this consistent vision behind them is part of what makes them special. An Orangepixel game looks and feels like something only he could have made...

Foursaken Media is undoubtedly one of the most beloved developers on our forums. They are well known for making games that take several different genres and throw them into a blender, and the resulting smoothie is usually quite tasty. My favorites are probably Block Fortress [$1.99] and Bug Heroes 2 [$1.99], but even the games that don’t quite stick are usually pretty interesting if nothing else. It was with some surprise, then, that I learned their newest game All Is Lost [Free] was essentially just a runner. A runner with... puzzle elements? Extensive RPG-like upgrade trees? Monster collecting? Base building? Nope, literally just a runner. You go from the left side of a level to the right and basically just swipe to avoid stuff. What’s truly surprising, though, is that even though they apparently dropped their modus operandi of idea-mashing, they were still able to create a compelling and fun game rooted firmly in a single genre...

Do you ever have a game that just does not click with you? Twofold Inc. [$3.99] is the equivalent of a restaurant where you can admire the work and craftsmanship that went into the product at hand. What you're given is made with care and skill. But understanding and respecting why something is the way it is doesn't mean that you have to like it. You can even understand why others may like it. I respect Twofold Inc. but I didn't have much fun with it...

The East New World [$2.99] is pretty comfortable wearing its inspirations on its sleeve. The enemy designs map pretty closely to those found in Goblin Sword [$1.99]. The button layout is very similar to the one used on Sword Of Xolan [$0.99]. The basic gameplay of all of these games isn't that far removed from Devious Dungeon [$2.99]. That's not to say that The East New World doesn't have a few ideas of its own, but it's similar enough to Goblin Sword in particular that it feels like a reskin at times. You'll need to make your way through preset levels, searching out three crystals and two chests per stage, defeating whatever gets in your way using your sword. Pick up all the coins and gems you find on the way so that you can buy new gear in town between levels. Use your trusty double jump to avoid spikes and other hazards, and make your way to the exit somewhere on the far right-hand side of the stage. Very much a clone, to be sure, but it's at least a good one...

'CombineRobot' Review - Mecha Match Three

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January 29th, 2016 2:00 PM EST by Chris Carter in $0.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

Match-three is one of those genres that will be around forever. Years after we're immersing ourselves in full consumer-grade VR, Match-three will still be rampant on portable devices and wearable tech. It's inevitable. But while many of them stick to the same formula, CombineRobot [$0.99] aims to do something different -- both thematically and mechanically -- and I admire it for that...

Lost In Harmony [$3.99] is the latest game from Yoan Fanise, whose work at Ubisoft included directing Valiant Hearts [Free] and Rayman Raving Rabbids, along with sound design and audio direction on titles such as Beyond Good & Evil, Rabbids Go Home, and Assassin's Creed 3. With that kind of resume, it's perhaps not surprising that Lost In Harmony attempts to be an audio/visual spectacle, a heart-wrenching experience, and a unique hybrid of gameplay styles all at once. It succeeds completely on the first point and reasonably well on the second, but there are some definite issues that crop up with the third point. You can get a lot out of Lost In Harmony, but you're going to have to forgive a few things along the way...

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