Category Archives: 4 stars

'Blendoku 2' Review - Does It Blend?

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December 2nd, 2015 12:14 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 4 stars, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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I don't envy puzzle game designers. In our hobby, there are plenty of genres where you can more or less get away with looking at what the big dog is doing, slapping a slightly different look on it, and maybe tossing in a new hat or two if you're feeling particularly ambitious. You probably won't do extraordinarily well doing things that way, but it's certainly viable in some genres. Puzzle games are not one of those genres. Perhaps owing to the generally minimalist presentation most puzzle games use, people can spot gameplay imitations pretty quickly. Whether they'll care or not is another thing altogether, mind you. That's why I'm somewhat sympathetic to puzzle game developers who go back to the well a few times on an original concept. It's hard enough to come up with something new and fun, let alone trying to successfully reinvent the wheel thereafter. Just ask Alexey Pajitnov...

For a game that wasn't received with much excitement when it was released, Sanitarium [$3.99] has held up pretty well over the years. The game first released in 1998, when adventure games were just about to drop off a cliff sales-wise for the next several years. Some of the things it was criticized for at the time actually seem to have anticipated the way the genre would evolve once it became healthy again, making this game something of a pioneer. Even setting its historical value aside, however, it's a compelling psychological adventure ported to iOS in fine fashion by the good people at DotEmu. It has its weak points, but I'd honestly recommend Sanitarium ahead of most other point and click adventures of its era...




Not all games can be revolutionary, or even evolutionary. In some cases, they're just well-done interpretations of the tropes and styles that have come before them, and they serve as reminders of why they were fun and became well-worn and overused in the first place. Such is the fate of Super Dangerous Dungeons [Free]. It's not going to innovate much on the platformer genre, but it just manages to do well at being a solid, familiar platformer that does what it's trying to do right...

Do you enjoy games like Out There [$4.99] or FTL [$9.99 (HD)], where you have to manage resources and survive encounters in randomized galaxies? Well, Last Horizon [$2.99] isn't exactly what you're looking for, but it exists within a very similar sphere thematically and even structurally, while being an entirely different game...

'Lumino City' Review - Point and Tap Adventure

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November 18th, 2015 2:30 PM EDT by Chris Carter in $4.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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Point and click adventure games had a wonderful, whimsical feel to them, amidst the chaos of pixel-hunting. One minute you were searching for that perfect "eureka" moment, and the next, slamming your keyboard in frustration because that one tiny little item you needed that was barring your progress for eight hours was in the corner, behind a window. It brought out the duality of emotions like no other genre, and the same goes for Lumino City [$4.99] on mobile devices...

Ravenous Games is a developer I've always wanted to like more than I perhaps do; League of Evil [$2.99] still holds a place of greatness as one of the original trial platformers on mobile and a damn fine example of pixel art. Later games have always felt like they've had that missing spark that has prevented the great art and ideas behind the games to be something great. But Tiny Rogue [$2.99] appealed to me for two particular reasons: one, I dig the pixel art and the pocket-sized, turn-based roguelike concept. But the other reason was that Ravenous was now doing something completely different from what they had before, and I think moving into a different genre is a good thing for them...

'Slashy Hero' Review - This Slice Is Nice

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November 12th, 2015 11:26 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 4 stars, Action, Arcade, Free, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews
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The iOS gaming scene has had an awful lot of games release lately, and a disproportionate number of them have been of particular interest to me. It's not a bad problem to have, but it means some games I surely would have otherwise noticed and enjoyed have slipped right by me. Slashy Hero [Free] is a game I first encountered at the Tokyo Game Show, and though its Hallowe'en theme clearly marks this review as being a touch late, it's a pretty neat action game that is still worth playing even though the season is over for 2015. I mean, maybe I'm just early for the 2016 Hallowe'en season?..

The first Dragon Fantasy [$7.99] game had a few things going for it when it released on iOS back in the summer of 2011. It was similar enough to classic JRPGs to feel like comfort food while simultaneously presenting a solidly-constructed, original adventure. It had a great sense of humor, and since the game was originally written in English, there was none of the awkwardness that could be found in many similar games. It received pretty substantial support after its release, getting a few new chapters at no additional cost. The game itself had a pretty heartwarming story behind its development, with the hero patterned after the designer's late father. It's also worth pointing out that at that time on the App Store, there were no Dragon Quest games and about 40 fewer Kemco JRPG releases. Thus, even though Dragon Fantasy was a pretty humble game in many ways, it still found an audience among mobile RPG fans...

'Beat Sports' Review - Weee! Sports on the Apple TV!

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November 9th, 2015 12:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $9.99, 4 stars, Apple TV, Games, Music / Rhythm, Reviews, Sports
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I wasn’t planning on buying the fourth generation Apple TV right away. But then Guitar Hero Live [Free] happened, and I just couldn’t wait. I mean, the game is great on the iPad and iPhone, but obviously it was always meant for the living room. Imagine my disappointment, then, when I finally got Apple’s new streaming box and Guitar Hero Live wasn’t even in the App Store yet. Luckily, though, developer Harmonix (who kicked off the whole plastic instrument trend back in 2005) did have a rhythm game on the store right on launch day. It’s called Beat Sports, and while it’s no Guitar Hero or Rock Band, it’s still a pretty fun little slice of music gaming...

Finally on mobile, Young Horses' Octodad: Dadliest Catch [$4.99] has you controlling the eponymous Octodad, an octopus who has a wife and two children, and is just really trying to keep this good thing going. Don't ask why the children are human, you won't get any good answers. And if the game feels like you're jumping into something you should know more about, that's because it is a sequel to a student game that the principals of the studio made while they were students at DePaul. You'll catch on pretty quickly, though – you control an octopus that is pretending to be human, trying to do normal human things like going grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, and avoiding the maniacal chef who wants nothing more than to reveal you for the fraud that you are. This all while you have octopus limbs that don't do a great job at simulating human legs and hands, and the human tasks that you must accomplish...

Between Horizon Chase [Free] and Kalin Krastev’s Moto RKD Dash [$1.99], it seems there’s been a bit of a resurgence in retro racers lately on iOS. Which is totally fine by me, as one of my earliest gaming memories ever was playing Pole Position on my parents’ Atari. Dash apparently takes its inspiration from a series of old motorcycle games that spanned a number of mechanical, arcade, and LCD handheld systems involving a motorcycle sliding back and forth avoiding other motorcycles. I’d never actually heard of any of those old games, but watching youtube videos of Sega Moto Champ in particular was certainly illuminating. Anyway, Horizon Chase ended up being a great throwback that worked surprisingly well on iOS, so what about Moto RKD Dash?..

I don’t know about all of you, but I was a pretty big Heroes fan when it was on TV. Yes, even beyond the first season, when the plot was crippled by writer’s strikes and a lack of focus and direction. I always found the characters endearing and I liked this less fantastical take on an X-Men kind of world. Great characters like ‘Horn Rimmed Glasses’ Noah Bennet, his lovely daughter the regenerating cheerleader Claire, the ever dramatic Petrelli family, and especially the boundlessly cheerful and entertaining Hiro Nakamura (My love of Sylar is variable to the season I’m watching). So imagine my (guarded) optimism and hope when a new series was announced in Heroes Reborn!..

I never like it when a game's ending manages to affect the opinion of the rest of the experience. Agent A [$2.99], up until its ending, is an uber-stylish, gorgeous, and fun point-and-click adventure game that does a lot to avoid the clunkiness and frustration that many games in the genre have. But when it turns out that this is an incomplete story, it takes a legitimately great game and makes it a frustrating experience that leaves you wanting more, like a tasty meal that wasn't filling...

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

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November 3rd, 2015 1:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Action, First Person Shooter, Free, Games, Reviews, Shooter, Universal
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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. ..

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