Category Archives: 4 stars

Retro City Rampage DX [$4.99] finally hits iOS. Took it long enough, eh? Brian Provinciano's "what if Grand Theft Auto was an 8-bit game that paid homage to every classic game and notable 1980s cultural phenomenon" title had landed everywhere but mobile. It was on desktop (PC, Mac, and Linux!), the Vita (on cartridge too!), 3DS, Wii U (not the Wii), Xbox One, PS3 and PS4, even a demo for NES! But the new platform releases started to dry up over time, even after the DX update to the original game that brought some new features and tweaks was released. And yet, no mobile version. Yet, one night it unexpectedly showed up! And while I have some issues with the game, I'm quite glad it showed up...

If there's one genre I almost never get to experience, it's fishing. I have plenty of nostalgia for SEGA's huge line of bass-centric games as well as their amazing arcade machines where you can actually feel the tension in the rod, but in this modern era, I generally don't go out of my way to play a console or mobile fishing game. That changed with Fishing Break [Free], and although it has a rather aggressive monetization strategy, it still hits the spot...




'Mimpi Dreams' Review - Dream A Little Dream

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April 5th, 2016 11:45 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, Platform, Puzzle, Reviews
99¢ Buy Now

The original Mimpi [Free] was a cute, somewhat short puzzle-platformer with inspired art design and serviceable controls. Mimpi Dreams [$0.99], the sequel, is a cute, somewhat short puzzle-platformer with inspired art design and excellent controls. The original game was an excellent little bit of fun and still holds up quite well today, and the follow-up offers up another tasty serving with a few useful refinements. While its brevity and relative lack of difficulty might turn off those looking for something more substantial to sink their teeth into, Mimpi Dreams has enough appeal to carry it far...

'Dirac' Review - Atoms @ Home

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March 31st, 2016 1:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $1.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Drawing, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$1.99 Buy Now

With a name like Mediocre, it’s almost like the studio is baiting reviewers. “Go ahead,” they're saying, “just try to make some lame joke about our games being mediocre.” Of course we can’t say those things, because Smash Hit [Free] and Does Not Commute [Free] (and earlier titles like Sprinkle [$1.99]) were outstanding games. The irony in their name proves the studio is supremely confident in the quality of their products, and they've certainly earned it...

Some of my favorite mobile games are ones that can be played with one hand in quick sessions. After all, if you have your phone always with you, then why not fill any empty gaps by playing a game? I love deeper experiences as well, but the ones I keep coming back to are the games that I can play for short bursts. It's what makes Clash Royale [Free] so compelling and replayable, and why I've sunk a lot more time in something like Boom Dots [Free] than you'd probably expect from such a simple game. So is the case with Super Arc Light [$1.99]. It's a minimalist high-score shooter that takes definite cues from Super Hexagon [$2.99]. It's a game I raise plenty of issues with, but I can't complain about it too much, since it scratches my one-handed pick-up-and-play itch quite well...

You would definitely be forgiven for looking at the screenshots in this review and assuming this game was some kind of clone or expansion DLC for Monument Valley [$3.99]. But aside from the Escher-esque optical illusions in the levels, the design, mechanics, and even the other aspects of the aesthetics offer something completely different. And while Dream Machine: The Game [$1.99] isn’t quite the masterwork that Monument Valley is, it’s a beautiful, memorable 3D puzzle game, and a premium one with no IAP to boot...

'Hectic Space 2' Review - Bullet Pixel Hell

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March 22nd, 2016 11:45 AM EDT by Chris Carter in 4 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Shooter, Universal
$2.99 Buy Now

Shoot 'em ups will keep me company until the hour of my death. They were one of the first genres I ever played in the arcade, and it's one of my most played genres for pleasure to date. Whether it's a bullet hell Cave joint (which has become even more prolific on iOS) or a traditional, technical shooter, I'm always willing to turn my monitor on its side to play at any possible resolution. Less screen real estate on a mobile device seems like a problem, but touch controls almost always come through and deliver, and that's definitely the case with Hectic Space 2 [$2.99]...

My favorite Kemco RPG developer, EXE-Create, has found their groove over the last couple of years. Their games typically have enjoyable characters, solid mechanics, and genuinely good localizations. They've also pushed the technical side of things more than Kemco's other teams, introducing a polygonal battle system with Alphadia Genesis [$4.99] just over two years ago that they've used in several subsequent releases. If there's a downside to EXE-Create's work, it's that they rarely attempt anything risky with their game designs. While their Kemco stablemates are often trying interesting new systems, gameplay perspective, or even other genres, EXE-Create seems content to focus on delivering a tasty, predictable plate of meat and potatoes every time. How much you enjoy their games depends heavily on how tired you are of that sort of dish and whether or not you can connect with the latest batch of characters. Revenant Dogma [Free / $4.99] is no different in that regard...

If you listen to the Touch Arcade Show podcast every week (and you should), then you might recall what a frustrating experience Jared had trying to play Rocky Hong's Beat Stomper [$1.99] on a recent episode. The game seemed sorta like Doodle Jump [$0.99], but the timing was all weird and it took quite a few attempts for him to get the hang of it. Eli, on the other hand, had no problems whatsoever and demonstrated this by apparently playing with his eyes shut. Two completely different experiences with one simple high score chaser. So what about me? Or you, for that matter?..

'Rope Racers' Review - Swing Low, Sweet Undead Zombie

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March 21st, 2016 11:53 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

Swinging from ropes is fun. I don’t know why, but it is. Many of my favorite games on the App Store use some kind of swinging as a mechanic, from Hanger World [Free] and Mikey Hooks [$1.99] to the long forgotten Rock Runners and Slingshot Racing [$0.99]. In preparation for this review I did a brief Google search to figure out what is so satisfying about swinging, but all I found were adult advice columns. (Some iOS games call it "hooking"; maybe I should have searched for that instead?) Perhaps it’s so fun because our ancestors lived in trees, or because it hits some perfect combination of speed and weightlessness. Who knows! Developer Small Giant’s latest game Rope Racers [Free] is all about swinging, and it pretty much nails that sensation...

One of the fun things about following a specific platform over a number of years is watching how things progress. Developers and series will pop up, and if they hang around, you can see what they do to build on what they did before to try to make an even better game. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't. In the case of developer TouchMint and its Adventure To Fate series of turn-based RPGs, it's happily been the former. When the first game launched almost two years ago, it was a fun, somewhat rough game that got better with a couple of updates. Last year, a free-to-play follow-up came out, focusing almost entirely on the combat system and character development mechanics. That game, too, got some really nice updates that made the game better. I don't know what the update plans look like for Adventure To Fate: Quest To The Future [$3.99] looks like, but even in its present state, it shows the experience TouchMint has gathered in its own personal quest for glory...

Are you a real gamer? Are you a real hardcore gamer? Do you like games that will punish you and leave you begging for mercy? Congratulations, Lost Socks: Naughty Brothers [Free] is the game for you. This auto-run-and-gun game boasts fantastic art, well-done gameplay, and tough difficulty. Perhaps too tough for most: its progression gating that is so punishing that you'll beg to pay money to the developers to take shortcuts. And the game will look down at you and whisper "No."..

'Abzorb' Review - Avoid and Conquer

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March 8th, 2016 10:06 AM EDT 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 / $4.99] 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 EDT 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 [$2.99], 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...

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