Category Archives: 4 stars

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 [$0.99] 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 [$0.99], 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

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October 22nd, 2015 12:30 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 4 stars, Free, Games, iPad Models, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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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

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October 8th, 2015 11:28 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $0.99, 4 stars, Games, Maze, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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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?..

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