Category Archives: 4 stars

When it comes to people like me, there's no such thing as "too much" Lovecraftian horror. I love to rep H.P. and the Big C whenever I can. There is just something so wonderfully visceral and imaginative about eldritch horror. Clearly, I'm not the only one who has been sucked into this particular abyss. We've already had a few solid mobile outings for Cthulhu and his gang of incomprehensible amorphous ungodly powerful monstrosities, such as Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land [$4.99], and a port of the phenomenally insane board game Elder Sign: Omens [$3.99 / $6.99 (HD)]. Technically we've had this game since December of 2013, but it's recently been re-launched in its final form with a happening new icon and complete feature list. I give you The Moaning Words [Free]...

It seems like gore sells on the App Store recently, doesn't it? Take Happy Wheels, the challenging platformer that was a surprising hit on the App Store partly because of the wonderful explosions of bones and blood that accompany each of your (frequent) failings. If you think about it, we are extremely used to death in our games (Mario doesn't bounce back when he falls off a platform - he meets an untimely, violent death), but those deaths are often bloodless, a sanitized failure that makes a game suitable for all ages while still retaining the mechanic of dying equals losing. Cute Things Dying Violently [$0.99], ApathyWorks' recent iOS port of its Xbox Live Indie Games hit, declares from as early as the title that gore is central in this puzzle-platformer game, but one shouldn't think that CTDV is all about the gore...




I have a problem with Mucho Taco [Free]. Sure, it’s entertaining (as clickers go) with fun art and a silly premise. It has some neat ideas to switch up the genre, like swiping instead of clicking and throwing in a vaguely Tiny Tower [Free]-esque restaurant timer system. And there are a lot of fun little details here and there, like the way the filling peeks out when you fold a tortilla or the way the customers start picketing when your restaurants close. My problem with Mucho Taco, though, is that it is seriously eating into the time I spend playing Noodlecakes other idle clicker, Bitcoin Billionaire [Free]...

'Worms 4' Review - Scorched Earthworm

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September 17th, 2015 12:22 PM EST by Nathan Reinauer in $4.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Games, Reviews, Strategy, Universal
$4.99 Buy Now

Some of my favorite gaming memories while growing up were playing Worms with my older brother on PC. He was always quite a bit better than me, as older brothers are (and he still is), but it was still incredibly fun slinging Super Sheep, Concrete Donkeys, and Holy Hand Grenades at each other until he whittled me down to nothing. Imagine my delight, then, when several years ago I learned Worms would be coming to iPhone! I bought every iteration on day one, and even though they weren't perfect, Team 17 managed to get it just a little bit more right every time. And now, finally, we have Worms 4 [$4.99], a sequel tailor made for mobile...

When you start playing ECA-Games' Rock(s) Rider HD [$2.99], a few things pop out immediately, first of those being how great this mobile game looks. You know how many developers brag about their game's "console-quality" visuals? Well, Rock(s) Rider HD's visuals can definitely be called console-quality. Of course, we have to start rethinking these console comparisons since mobile hardware is improving rapidly, but that's a discussion for another day. So, if you enjoy your games visually spectacular, you can't really go wrong with Rock(s) Rider HD as this is the kind of game you can use to show off your phone or tablet to those who aren't into mobile gaming...

'Power Ping Pong' Review - Tablet Tennis

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September 14th, 2015 12:27 PM EST by Nathan Reinauer in $4.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Games, Reviews, Sports, Universal
$4.99 Buy Now

Have you ever played one of those games that everyone raves about, but it doesn’t click with you? It looks really fun and should be right up your alley, but for some reason you can’t crack it. “What’s wrong with me?” you might wonder. “Am I doing something dumb?” Well, if you couldn’t guess, that was my first experience with Chillingo’s Power Ping Pong [$4.99]. After playing for about a week now, I think I’m finally figuring out what was wrong. We’ll get to all that soon enough, but first: what is it?..

Dungeon Of the Endless [$4.99 (HD)] is an odd hybrid. On each level, you'll take your chosen heroes through a room-by-room search, looking for the exit. The layouts are random, so you'll never know what's behind each door until you open it. Sometimes you'll find a merchant who will sell you new gear, other times you'll find a room full of alien creatures ready to feast on your bones. For this part of the level, you're essentially going through the roguelike motions, trying to power up your characters and gather resources without pushing yourself too far and getting killed. Once you find the exit, there's a little twist. You'll need to go back to the starting room, pick up the heavy crystal contained within, and slowly carry it to the exit while constant attacks are rained down on you. You'll need to prepare ahead of time by spending resources on turrets and other such defenses, essentially setting up as though you're playing a tower defense game. Mixing genres is sometimes a recipe for disaster, but Dungeon Of The Endless manages itself quite well...

Seashine [Free] is an endless "swimmer", whereby the player is encouraged to guide a jellyfish hatchling through the darkest depths of the ocean, seeking safe passage from predators and clinging to small sources of light to part the watery blackness. ..

Poker is an interesting game because it's essentially gambling, but with enough of a skill-based twist that ideally, a high-quality player is going to do better because they know how to do well at the things they can control. That doesn't mean that the best player will win, and there's nothing other than the laws of probability stopping a drunk tourist from winning the World Series of Poker by always going all-in. But that control of the meta-game is still important. Whether there's enough control over the non-luck aspects to be fair or fun is a good question in many aspects. For example, in the US, daily fantasy sports like FanDuel and Draft Kings are basically gambling, but there's a very subtle distinction that makes them legal. Essentially, Dice Mage [Free] is what happens if you take that balance of luck and the possibility that you could lose due to factors outside of your control, and made it into an RPG. ..

Logic puzzle games are the bane of my brain. Note that I refrained from using "bane of my existence" because I actually like puzzles titles quite a bit, but more often than not, they'll stump me far more often than a hardcore action experience or number-heavy RPG. It's the simpler concepts that usually throw me for a loop, as I tend to overthink them and completely miss the trees for the forest. That's kind of how I approached Sputnik Eyes [$1.99], a charming little puzzler that will stump you for days on end...

'Ski Safari 2' Review - Also Adventure

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September 4th, 2015 11:30 AM EST by Nathan Reinauer in $1.99, 4 stars, Games, Reviews, Runner, Sports, Universal
$1.99 Buy Now

I enjoyed the original Ski Safari [$0.99], but I didn’t love it. I played it for a few days, but it seemed like one of those runners that takes forever to get challenging. I grew tired of doing the same thing for ten-plus minutes only to die and find that I hadn’t beat my previous score yet. Sure, the game had a good amount of variety in the different animals you could ride and stuff, but it still didn’t keep my attention for long. Flash forward a few years, and I have to admit this sequel looked pretty sweet. Maybe the gorgeous Alto’s Adventure [$2.99] had softened me up first, but either way, I had to try Sleepy Z's Ski Safari 2 [$1.99]...

'Gathering Sky' - They’re Flocking This Way

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September 2nd, 2015 7:40 PM EST by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 4 stars, Adventure, Games, iPad Games, Music / Rhythm, Reviews
$2.99 Buy Now

I don’t want to waste your time here, so I’m just going to come right out with it: Gathering Sky [$2.99 (HD)] by A Stranger Gravity is a game that’s probably not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, it’s barely even a “game” at all. There were long stretches during my playthrough that I didn’t even touch the screen or have any input whatsoever. It’s one of those games that’s more of an experience, maaaan. But stick with me here, ‘cause it’s actually a really good experience...

Not every game needs to have tight design. Those might be blasphemous words coming from a game reviewer, but there's truth in them. I have great respect for games where every little aspect has been placed to work in perfect harmony with every other part, but games can also be unbalanced, messy things and still be a heck of a lot of fun to play. That's the case with Demon's Rise [$2.99], a turn-based strategy RPG from newcomer Wave Light Games. It draws its principle mechanics from popular SRPGs like Warhammer Quest [$2.99] and X-COM [$9.99], lets you form your party from a whopping 25 different characters each with their own skills, then throws a pile of content at you to merrily hack, zap, and smash your way through. It's horrifically unbalanced, but it's hard to care much about that as you guide your wacky group of characters through the monster-filled dungeons...

Way back in the before times, when I was a little fellow attending elementary school, I often found myself doodling on the paper in front of me. Well, to be honest, I did that in junior high school, high school, and university, too, but that's neither here nor there. The point is, my imagination wandered frequently, and conspired with my hand to try to keep the whole system from going to sleep. I feel like I drew all the standard things: dinosaurs, super heroes, video game characters, the screaming souls of the damned as they burned in searing agony for all eternity, fighter jets, ALF, and of course, space ship battles. I would doodle an assortment of ships on the left, another group on the right, then simulate their battles. Sentinel Command [$3.99 (HD)] reminds me of those hand-sketched battles, but with rules, challenge, and all kinds of good things like that...

Most puzzle games don't necessarily have an impactful message. I mean sure, some of them encourage critical thinking and educate youngsters, but you usually don't see anything meaningful in your puzzle soup. The Path to Luma [Free] switches that up a bit however, as the entire affair is sponsored by NRG (a clean energy company), and deals with themes such as solar and wind power. Thankfully, the actual game is pretty good, so the message doesn't fall on deaf ears...

When you sit down to write a review of the mobile port of an older PC game, it can get tricky. As times change, so does the context in which we view different games, and playing the 2004 PC Game Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 (RCT 3) [$4.99] on my iPad and iPhone in 2015 is definitely an interesting, and quite new, experience in itself. Add to that my sense of nostalgia when playing games I used to play back in the day when they came out (although when it came to management games, I was more into the older Theme Hospital than the RollerCoaster Tycoon games), and reviewing a game like RCT 3 becomes an interesting exercise in detachment; I have to make sure I review what I see and play rather than what I remember...

Did anybody around here play DrawQuest? It was kind of like Draw Something [Free] but without the pesky game parts getting in the way. Each day you’d be tasked with a new quest (something like “Who crossed the road?” or “Publish a novel”), and you had to make a drawing based on it. You’d earn coins if other users liked your work, and it was incredibly satisfying to craft the perfect picture and have it rewarded with heaps of adoration and fake money. Furthermore, perusing other people’s drawings could be just as much fun (if not more so) than making your own, and the creativity on display could be truly astonishing at times. It was eventually shut down and removed from the App Store when it failed to turn a profit, which unfortunately is not an uncommon tale. The good news, though, is that iOS basically sees an unlimited supply of new games week after week and odds are something else will come along that can scratch the same itch...

'Final Fantasy 7' Review - Square Enix's Classic, With A Few Clouds In The Sky

With the exception of some of Nintendo's Pokemon games, there is no Japanese RPG more famous and high-selling than Final Fantasy 7 [$15.99]. That might be the only non-controversial thing a person could say about the game. It's the JRPG's Star Wars, a game that changed the course of the genre in many ways. It proved there was an audience for RPGs in the Western market, but it was also a bold statement for consoles adopting optical media and perhaps even Sony's entire mission with the PlayStation. Here is the future, its commercials screamed, and though they were pretty deceitful in one way, those commercials helped pave a new road for console gaming's future. For many people it was their first JRPG love, and the passion it drove in its fanbase pushed Square into the limelight worldwide to the extent that they could push a ridiculously-budgeted CG movie into wide theatrical release. It spawned spin-offs, sequels, prequels, and merchandise galore. And now, in 2015, you can play it on the phone you keep in your pocket...

Sling Kong [Free] is a game that I'm highly ambivalent about, for many reasons. I came in hotly anticipating it, because Protostar's Checkpoint Champion [Free] is a game that's practically flawless. Sling Kong uses a slingshot-style system that's close enough to my favorite game mechanic of grappling hooks, such that I found myself absolutely anticipating this one. I finally got my hands on it, and while it's fun, and definitely worth downloading, it's a game that does a few things wrong, though I understand why those decisions were made...

Tactile Wars [Free] had, how shall I put this mildly, a rocky start in life. The game went through what I suppose was a successful soft launch and then got released with plenty of App Store fanfare, grabbing the much-coveted Editor's Choice Award from Apple, an award that can really take a game's revenue into the stratosphere. Unfortunately for the game, the award had pretty much that precise effect, and I say unfortunately because the great influx of players knackered the game's servers to the point where it became literally unplayable. All players would see was a "Connection is Lost" little sign informing them of their current inability to join this online-only game. In a way, Tactile Wars' predicament was reminiscent of that of many recent AAA console and PC games that tried to go online-only (looking at you, Simcity) only to realize soon after launch that servers are fickle little creatures, bound to melt into a puddle when you need them most...

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