Category Archives: 5 stars

'Really Bad Chess' Review - Rook No Further

It would be extremely easy to start this review by alluding to the ironic self-deprecation of the title, and affirm how Really Bad Chess [Free] is actually a Really Good Game. However, in truth, the title is not too far off the mark. Compared to the balance, strategic depth, and elegance of the age-old board game, Zach Gage’s most recent release is really bad chess. It is highly likely you will start a game with an abundance of the most powerful pieces versus a far weaker opponent, and it will likely not take as much tactical meticulousness to break down their defence; anyone looking for a chess simulator will undoubtedly be disappointed. However, once preconceptions of similar titles are left behind, Really Bad Chess manages to turn a tiresome, tricky and intimidating game into one perfectly suited for the immediacy of mobile gaming. While it may share similarities in the pieces, and how they can move, to the game it takes its name from, Really Bad Chess is an entirely different beast. Through prioritising unpredictability and offensive play over experience, Zach Gage has crafted an essential puzzle experience for anyone even remotely interested in strategy games on the App Store...

'Dofus Touch' Review - A Great MMO, Now on Mobile

'Dofus Touch' Review - A Great MMO, Now on Mobile

October 7th, 2016 12:32 PM EDT by Andrew Fretz in 5 stars, Free, Massive Multiplayer (MMO), Reviews
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About a year ago I had a sad realization that mobile MMO isn't really a living genre. For better or worse, mobile game development is most effective when creating innovative and elegant gameplay on a flat, straight forward canvas. Unfortunately not much of that is what you expect to see in an mmo. It should come as no surprise that one of the first jolts of life being thrust into the rotting carcass of the genre is about as close to a straight PC port as you could get. Dofus Touch [Free] is out now for iPhone and iPad and outside of some of the most recent updates this game is a carbon copy of the PC version. ..

'Bullet Hell Monday' Review - Another Manic Monday

Last year, we were treated to a pair of excellent shooters by Japanese indie developer Masayuki Ito. Titled .Decluster [$2.99] and .Decluster Zero [$4.99], these shoot-em-ups combined a unique visual style with tense bullet-hell action. The scoring mechanisms largely surrounded the ability to cancel enemy bullets. The more bullets you canceled, the more points you would earn. This encouraged you to use risky strategies, making for some seriously thrilling close calls. The stage designs and enemy placements in the games were top-notch, too. The .Decluster games were sold as paid games with no IAPs, and that's probably one of the biggest points where Ito's latest shooter, Bullet Hell Monday [Free], diverges from his previous titles...

'The Quest HD' Review - That Old Magic is Still Alive

Redshift's The Quest [$4.99] was originally released for Pocket PCs and Palm devices, but it found new life when the game was ported to iPhones in March of 2009. Its massive size and depth, combined with a seemingly endless parade of new content through regular expansion pack releases, made it one of the best RPGs on the platform, and for many people, the only one they ever needed. Surprisingly, the years have been generally kind to it in most regards, so it still plays as well as it ever did. Only a few respects betrayed the game's age. One of the most obvious points is that it offered no iPad-native version, forcing tablet owners to play it with a less-than-flattering zoom applied to the visuals. As detailed as the graphics in the original port are, they're clearly coming from the pre-retina days of mobile gaming, and while that's not something I mind terribly, it made the game look too old-fashioned for some...

'Reigns' Review - Reign in Blood

The core concept of Reigns [$2.99] on paper seems intriguing enough. It's basically dating service Tinder, with swiping left or right to make decisions, combined with ruling a kingdom. Seems interesting enough, but Nerial and company have managed to imbue Reigns' concept in such a way that each decision feels weighty. As well, there's an intriguing long-term game here, with secrets to discover and an overall goal to reach that gives each session a unique purpose beyond its amusing concept, and elevates the whole experience above an amusing concept...

'Snakebird' Review - Is it a Snake or is it a Bird?

July 29th, 2016 1:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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Some mascots are better than others. Bubsy didn't really work out so well. What did we see in him so many years back? Did we see anything at all, and were we just hungry for mascots? I don't know, but I feel like someone needs to apologize. Ratchet? He's done some fine work and has survived for many years. Crash? He's back from the dead it seems, even if one part of his return involves a cameo in a Skylanders game...

'Severed' Review - I'd Give my Left Arm to Play This on Mobile

Consider it a testament to the power of mobile that developers still want to make and release games for it, despite the challenges of selling on it. After all, when games are customary a third of their price on other platforms, it's no wonder that games are rarely announced first for mobile. Severed [$6.99] was that exception, as mobile was a core platform for the game at its announcement. Then, it became a PlayStation Vita exclusive, before eventually being re-announced for mobile. And here it finally is. This first-person Infinity Blade [$5.99] meets Zelda type game – is a really cool experience that feels like it should have been on mobile all along...

'Time Locker' Review - This Free Shmup is Super Hot

"Good artists copy, great artists steal." It's a line that essentially means that explicitly mimicking something is easy enough to do – making a clone of a game is simple enough. But it's another thing to take the ideas of one game and use them in another to create something that is original all in itself. Time Locker [Free] explicitly steals the gimmick of Superhot, the first-person shooter where time only moves when the player moves. It even uses a very similar low-poly graphics style. But instead, it turns the game into a shoot 'em up with some hints of Crossy Road [Free] to feel like a unique iteration on previous ideas, one that uses existing concepts liberally, but to form its own thing that stands on its own merits...

'Crypt of the NecroDancer Pocket Edition' Review - Let it Steal Your Heart

One of my favorite games of the past few years on PC is Crypt of the NecroDancer [$4.99], a rhythmic roguelike that I tried out with a friend, and I fell in love with the whole concept of the game. It's a roguelike where movement is set to the beat of a fantastic soundtrack by Danny Baranowsky, with the idea being that the entire game can be controlled by the four directional inputs on a Dance Dance Revolution dance pad. After enjoying my first time with the game, I rushed out and bought the game with its soundtrack on Steam. ..

'Super Stickman Golf 3' Review - Another Great Day at the Sticky Links

It's been a few years since Super Stickman Golf 2 [Free] first released, and there's been plenty of time for that game to kind of fade into memories to a certain degree, what with the constant deluge of releases that mobile gamers are beset by. So even huge fans of that game might have forgotten just why it was so much fun. And really, that's what Super Stickman Golf 3 [Free] does best: it advances the franchise with its new spin mechanic, but also shows just how solid the core established by earlier games was. It's just better than ever...

'Monster Hunter Freedom Unite' Review - Good-bye Free Time, Hello Wildlife Slaughter

Editor's Note: This game was recently updated to be playable again after being broken for ages. It's an incredible port from an amazing game franchise, so we're bumping the review up to the top of TA in case anyone missed it the first time around! Anyway, here's Shaun's original review which we published almost exactly two years ago, on July 3rd 2014:

Capcom's iOS games present a truly insane roll of the dice. You've got terribly reimagined ports of classics like Mega Man X [$4.99], wonderful ports of underappreciated games like Ghost Trick [Free], ports that are maybe a bit too perfect like Street Fighter II Collection [$3.99] or the dearly departed Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, and games that take familiar names and series and go in strange directions like Ghosts 'n Goblins Gold Knights [$0.99]. This time, however, they've really gone and done it. Just when you think they can't make you doubt them any further, they go and totally redeem themselves with an absolutely fantastic iOS version of Monster Hunter Freedom Unite [$14.99].



'Teeny Titans' Review - A Little Teeny, but You'll Want To Lick the Plate Clean-y

For all the years that mobile gaming has been around, there are still a lot of publishers and developers who still don't quite get the platform. I don't mean to complain about that. After all, even games ported directly from consoles or PCs essentially untouched can add to the diversity of the overall software catalogue. But it sure is great when a developer makes something that feels perfectly tailored to mobile, and that's just what Grumpyface Studios has been doing for the last several years. Their recent efforts with various Cartoon Network properties have been especially wonderful, and are some of the best licensed games on any platform lately. What's even more remarkable is the spread of genres they've been trying out and succeeding with: inventive action games like Adventure Time Game Wizard [$4.99], light RPGs like Attack the Light - Steven Universe [$2.99], and hectic puzzle games like Powerpuff Girls - Flipped Out [$2.99]...

'Rodeo Stampede' Review - King of the Jungle

Amidst such an expansive and dynamic environment such as the App Store, it’s extremely easy to look for comparisons between different games as a means to gauge interest and also articulate your opinions on an app with a brevity that a thousand word review could never achieve. It would be extremely easy to attempt to draw parallels to the graphical style and arcade mechanics of Crossy Road [Free], the animal collecting elements of Disco Zoo [Free], slap on a score out of 5 and call it a day, and allow readers to use these facts to draw their own preconceptions, for better or for worse. However, this would be a great disservice to Rodeo Stampede [Free]. While not necessarily particularly innovative, the vibrant and eclectic merger of ideas betrays a depth that truly epitomises the ‘easy to learn, hard to master’ cliche...

'Rush Rally 2' Review - The Best Rally Racer on iOS

The first rally racing game I played was SEGA's SEGA Rally Championship on the SEGA Saturn. To tell the truth, before that game, I wasn't a huge racing game fan. I'd play the odd game at the arcades, and I'd certainly join in on a race or two with my friends on their games, but it wasn't a genre I was terribly interested in. In fact, SEGA Rally wasn't even my first choice for a game the day I bought it. I had wanted Virtua Fighter 2, but the shop was sold out, so instead I brought home a racing game. I fell in love with that game, and it served as a gateway to the whole sub-genre of rally racing for me. Games like V-Rally, Colin McRae, Rallisport Challenge, and WRC became regular purchases for me, even as I continued to almost entirely ignore every other kind of racer. There's just something about this type of racing that speaks to me...

'Human Resource Machine' Review - Sine of Greatness

Any video game which attempts to include educational elements has to run a very fine line or risk alienating a significant proportion of their potential userbase. Make it too simple and people who already understand the concepts will likely not find any enjoyment - however if it’s too difficult, it may be too overbearing and tedious for the average gamer to pick up. Most of all, however, it has to be an enjoyable experience, and Human Resource Machine [$2.99] manages to provide something for everyone while being a deceptively difficult yet rewarding initiation into coding...

'Sky Force Reloaded' Review - Burning up the Skies

iDreams' Sky Force Reloaded [Free] is a great example of how to make a fun shoot 'em up that is traditional yet fresh. The situation isn't really surprising: you fly upward through levels, shooting both moving enemy formations and ground-based enemies, while trying to rescue humans that are on the ground. Those humans are a bit disappointed if you don't pick them up, but hey – sometimes dodging the plethora of enemy bullets is more important. It's not exactly a ground-breaking shmup, but it wins some points for variety. Levels occasionally throw some bullet-hell-esque hazards, and vary how the boss fights work. One level even takes your weapons away and forces you to dodge hazards and collect stars, the game's currency. There's a long-term progress objective here: you can upgrade your ship's health, weapons, and powerups. You can collect ship parts for new ships with different stats, with one ship unlockable if you played Sky Force 2014 [Free]. ..

'Hatoful Boyfriend' Review - Love, Pudding, And More Drama Than You Can Shake A Feather At

Hatoful Boyfriend [$4.99] is one of those games that grabs attention just with a description of its premise. It's a Japanese dating simulator where you play a human girl who attends a school for birds. Naturally, every last one of your potential suitors is some type of bird or another. Doves, pigeons, finches, and more can be wooed over the course of your character's sophomore year at the school. Unlike many games with a goofy premise, however, Hatoful Boyfriend manages to deliver a really enjoyable game. It knows when to play things straight, when to wink at the audience, when to bow to the absurd, and when to let things go off in surprising directions. In general, it's a parody of the visual novel genre, but its plot is so meticulously crafted, it stands perfectly well on its own even if you have no experience with the genre...

'Guns Of Infinity' Review - The Ravages Of War

My quest to stay more or less on top of major gamebook releases has been pretty tricky of late thanks to the speed at which new ChoiceScript-based games have released both through Choice Of Games and Hosted Games. It's hardly the worst problem to have, but readers who have stayed on top of my recent gamebook reviews know that none of them have really grabbed me recently. Coming off of the massive, disappointing Magikiras [Free], I was a little wary of Guns Of Infinity [$4.99]. It's by a completely different author, mind you, so there wasn't much of a logical basis for that fear, but the relatively large word count certainly had me cautious. An unpleasant read can result in very different levels of agony depending on its length, and if Guns Of Infinity missed the mark, it was going to be a very long haul...

'Disney Crossy Road' Review - Mickey Can't Beat a Train

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Such is the philosophy that Disney Crossy Road [Free] abides by. It pretty much lives up to its title, in that it's Crossy Road [Free] but with Disney characters and themes. And it is a Disney geek's dream. It would have been easy to just throw Disney characters into the classic Crossy Road level and call it a day, but it's quite clear that Disney and Hipster Whale wouldn't just do that. They threw in over a hundred characters at launch, with themes that don't just change the graphics, but add little tweaks to the gameplay. And they added cool little notes that make this something every Disney fan needs to play. Plus, Crossy Road is still great...

'King Rabbit' Review - The King Has Returned

April 5th, 2016 10:50 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $0.99, 5 stars, Action, Arcade, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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Making video game sequels has always been a tricky business, but in the modern age of updates and add-ons, I can't even imagine how difficult it is to make the best choice for a follow-up. On the App Store in particular, the audience has become accustomed to getting reasonably significant additional content delivered as free updates, with games like Angry Birds [Free] and Candy Crush Saga [Free] getting enough free add-ons to construct a dozen sequels under the old rules. Unless you're one of the biggest dogs in the yard, however, it doesn't take long for such efforts to yield weak dividends, since relatively few players ever actually play through all of the content in the base game to begin with. Now, if you're making the kind of game where you can make your sequel look obviously different in some regard, it's less of a problem, but for puzzle games, it can be difficult to sway people over to a new installment...

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