Category Archives: 5 stars

'Horizon Chase' Review - What's Old is New Again

Aquiris Game Studio was on a mission with Horizon Chase [$2.99]. They wanted to recreate classic racing games like Outrun, Top Gear, Jaguar XJ220, and others from the late-1980s and early-1990s, even getting the Top Gear composer, Barry Leitch, to create the soundtrack for the game. And oh, did they knock it out of the park. They've created a game that spectacularly recreates the feel of the racing games of 25 years ago, while abandoning the annoying aspects of those games, creating this wonderful hybrid that shows that they managed to create their dream game...

'Galactic Keep' Review - Keeping Me Up All Night

'Galactic Keep' Review - Keeping Me Up All Night

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August 20th, 2015 2:18 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $3.99, 5 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
$3.99 Buy Now

For some game developers, it's almost a law that a game has to be fun within a certain number of minutes. That was particularly true back in the arcade days, and I suppose things have come full circle because it seems to be especially true now. I think there's a lot of merit to that philosophy, but like any attempt to make a rule like that, it doesn't fit every game. Galactic Keep [$3.99] is not very fun in the first few minutes, perhaps even in the first twenty. It's confusing, it offers little guidance, and it's just sort of frustrating. A player would probably be forgiven for giving up on the whole thing and jumping to something that offers a smoother and more obvious slice of gratification. Let's be honest, there are plenty of games where if the first few minutes are rough, things don't really pull up. But there are also cases where the confusion clears up, the goals start to become more tangible, and frustration melts into a feeling of pure satisfaction. Galactic Keep is one such case...




'Pac-Man 256' Review - Teaching an Old Pac-Man New Tricks

There are people who ask why retro games keep getting developed and iterated upon. We still have the classics, and they're more readily available than ever, so why do we need more of them? In some cases, it might be better to let some franchises die. This feels like a common complaint against the Sonic series, but I think that's more Sega's development teams not knowing what makes a Sonic game good (and loving bottomless pits too much). But interestingly, it's Pac-Man that's showing how a series can iterate and advance decades after its arrival. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX [$4.99] was a recent fantastic example of how to advance and iterate the yellow dot-muncher's familiar maze-based gameplay. Now, Pac-Man 256 [Free] from Crossy Road [Free] developers Hipster Whale, with the help of 3 Sprockets of Cubemen [$0.99 (HD)] fame and Bandai Namco, shows that you can teach an old Pac-Man new tricks. The developers who advanced the Frogger formula into a definitive mobile experience, have done so again with Pac-Man...

'.Decluster Zero - Bullet Nocturne' Review - Oh, Bullet Hell Yes

It's been almost three years since famed bullet-hell shooter developer Cave released their last in-house iOS game in the genre they became well-known for. At the time of the company's restructuring, I was worried about the future of shoot-em-ups on mobile, and I doubt I was the only one. Luckily for mobile gamers, it turned out to be a non-issue, as we've seen several excellent releases in the genre, some of which have arguably been better than even Cave's offerings. One such game is .Decluster - Into The Bullet Hell [$2.99], an out-of-nowhere release from Japanese indie developer Masayuki Ito. It combined a simple but eye-catching visual style with enjoyable scoring mechanics and exciting enemy patterns to create a thrilling take on a well-worn concept...

'This War of Mine' Review - A Perfect War-torn Port

'This War of Mine' Review - A Perfect War-torn Port

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August 17th, 2015 1:00 PM EDT by Eric Ford in $14.99, 5 stars, Action, Adventure, Games, iPad Games, Reviews, Simulation
$14.99 Buy Now

Last year, 11 bit studios wowed the gaming community with its dark and emotionally provocative game, This War of Mine [$14.99 (HD)]. An action-adventurer with a heavy dose of strategy, there was a lot to love and think about as players tried (sometimes in vain) to simply survive the horrors of war. Android and iOS players finally were able to check it out last month, and we’ve been running it through its paces to see if it made the transition to the mobile platform successfully. As you might expect, it passes with flying colors, and is truly a game that deserves to be played by everyone on iOS...

'Operation Dracula' Review - One, Two, Three Power-Ups, Ahaha

I think I could play shoot 'em ups until the day I die. It was one of the first genres I experienced in arcades outside of fighting games, and to this day, it's by far the genre that I import the most. Ironically, Siberian Strike was one of the very first games I played on an iOS device as well -- it's in my blood. It's good that Operation Dracula [$7.99], in spite of its cheesy presentation, is a solid showing...

'Spider: Rite Of The Shrouded Moon' Review - The Prettiest Parlor That Ever You Did Spy

Sequels seem to come in two different flavors these days. Most commonly, we get yearly installments, enough time to hopefully throw in just enough iteration to make an ever-worn concept feel fresh enough to sell again. Then there are the throwbacks, sequels to long-dormant franchises that somehow have to live up to impossible legends. On iOS, we see more of the former than the latter, and when the latter does show up, it tends to be a horrifying, free-to-play, quick-buck spin on an old gaming franchise whose core audience would prefer anything but. Generally, sequels used to be different, back when the industry could afford the luxury of not lining up all their big-name IPs on each yearly financial statement. Developers used to have time to work on them, time to let the original game settle in its groove, and perhaps most importantly, time to consider and tease out ideas in order to make each installment as strong as possible. Given how young iOS gaming is, it's not something we've gotten much of a taste of, but Tiger Style is prepared to give everyone a heaping helping with Spider: Rite Of The Shrouded Moon...

'Race the Sun' Review - The Hit Mobile Game Finally Comes to Mobile

Remember Cube Runner [Free]? Of course you do. It was probably one of the first games you put on your iPhone back in the day. It had some smooth 3D visuals and fun quick-reaction type gameplay that was a perfect fit for mobile. Well, flash forward five or six years and the New Hotness in town is a little game by Flippfly called Race the Sun [$4.99], which is… well, it’s pretty much the same thing. So why is everyone getting so excited about it?..

'Angry Birds 2' Review - The Best, and Most Free to Play 'Angry Birds' Yet

'Angry Birds 2' Review - The Best, and Most Free to Play 'Angry Birds' Yet

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July 31st, 2015 4:52 PM EDT by Eli Hodapp in 5 stars, Free, Reviews
Free Buy Now

The Angry Birds franchise has had a hell of a ride on the App Store. Our involvement started with an email from one of the co-founders of the former-Angry Birds publisher Chillingo on November 26th, 2009 asking if we were interested in an exclusive announcement of their new game. Knowing what a ridiculous worldwide sensation the game has become since then, reading the rest of the email conversation is pretty insane, as we're initially incredibly skeptical of the game and weren't sure if we wanted to agree to posting about Angry Birds without way more information. Fast forward 5 years and 8 months, and such a thing is laughable. While Angry Birds mania has subsided a bit from their hay day of an Angry Bird being featured on nearly every t-shirt sold at Wal-Mart, the series is still going strong and following over three billion downloads across all the Angry Birds games, now seems as good of a time as any to release Angry Birds 2 [Free]...

'Prune' Review - Let it Grow on You

I must admit, Prune [$3.99] snuck up on me though it probably shouldn't have. Made by ex-AAA developers out of Madison, apparently the game had been floating around the midwestern games scene, and I somehow missed it until I got an email about it a couple days ahead of launch. And holy heck, do I wish I had seen this sooner, because Prune is a gorgeous and unique experience...

'Pac-Man Championship Edition DX' Review - If It Ain't Broke, Make it Faster and Add Bombs

Screwing up Pac-Man Championship Edition DX [$4.99] on mobile seemed like it would be difficult. All Namco would have to do is to basically port the game over, maybe make some tweaks to help it work better on mobile with touch controls, as the ludicrous speed of the console and PC version might not work so well with most people using swipes to move. Maybe throw in iCloud and support for both iCade and MFi controllers, and you've got yourself a five-star package. Namco almost did screw this up with a wacky free-to-play version of the game based around levels and energy timers, but thankfully they came to their senses and decided to just drop the game with minimal mobile tweaks on the App Store as a premium game. The world is better for it...

'Cally's Caves 3' Review - Cally Powers Up Yet Again

Going back and playing the first Cally's Caves game, it's stunning how far this series has come in such a short span of time. While the core action gameplay is solid, just about everything else in the game looks and feels, well, like the small indie game that it is. Cally's Caves 2 [Free] upped the ante significantly, not just in terms of presentation but also in gameplay mechanics, adding a compelling Ratchet & Clank-style weapon upgrade system and smoothing out the overall difficulty. A quick glance at Cally's Caves 3 [Free] would make you think you're getting more of the same from the second game, but although the game may not appear all that different at first, I'm going to go as far as to say that this third game represents almost as significant a leap over Cally's Caves 2 as that game had made over the original...

'Don't Starve' Review - A Masterpiece of Horror, Humor, and Hunger

Don't Starve [$4.99 (HD)]. A simple imperative that encapsulates so much about this game; it sets the mood and traces your constant, furious, yet ultimately futile attempts to follow that advice (or is it a command?). Klei Entertainment's Don't Starve is a survival game with a lot in common with Minecraft in terms of gameplay, but at the same time it also manages to draw its own path because of its amazing art style and its uncompromising and challenging design that pushes players into moments of desperation punctuated by brief moments of triumph. Played either with the help of the many dedicated wikis or as blindly as a newborn baby traversing Hell, Don't Starve stands as a memorable, meticulously designed experience with a UI and control scheme that make it a real pleasure to play on the iPad. Just remember, Don't Starve...

'The Executive' Review - Like a Boss

Riverman Media's latest game The Executive [$4.99] is a masterpiece. The new game from the creators of Pizza vs. Skeletons [$4.99 / Free] is brilliantly absurd and absurdly brilliant. Riverman has combined a touchscreen-friendly brawler with an idle clicker, all set in an absurd universe full of things like wolves wearing Guy Fieri shirts, and featuring a distinctive art and animation style. It's an amazing game, and you need to play it...

'Furdemption' Review - A Great Puzzle-Platformer Brimming With Whimsy and Gore

Imagine a cute bunny hoping around a hellish landscape, leaving the bloody trails of his repeated failures all over the wonderfully-drawn landscape. Sounds fun, if somewhat macabre, doesn't it? Well, it is indeed. Furdemption [$3.99], the puzzle platformer (or bunny-suicides simulator) from Raresloth (apparently a very philozoic two-person company), is a very fun game with great art and animations and a responsive control system that almost always delivers. Puzzle games don't always excite me because I find most of them too reliant on trial-and-error design, which requires more time than I'm willing to put in games of this genre; fortunately, Raresloth expertly designed and molded Furdemption into an intuitive puzzle game that is a pleasure to play...

'Piloteer' Review - Joyride in a Jetpack

'Piloteer' Review - Joyride in a Jetpack

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June 30th, 2015 12:24 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 5 stars, Arcade, Games, Reviews, Universal
$2.99 Buy Now

I was about five years old when film The Rocketeer hit theatres, so I don’t remember a whole lot about the characters or plot. What I do remember is strapping a pair of 2-liter bottles to my back and zooming around my backyard like a lunatic. I’m almost afraid to re-watch the movie now that I’m older, because I have nothing but good feelings about it currently and I don’t want cold hard reality to tarnish them. That childhood wonder I felt while pretending to fly around in an awesome dieselpunk jetpack was pretty priceless, ya know?..

'Transistor' Review - An Action-Packed, Evocative Journey in an Amazing World

I love stories, always have; give me a book, and I'm a happy man. It's not surprising, then, that I always appreciate games with strong, emergent stories that seamlessly mix with the gameplay. Yet, all too often many of the games I play show a distinct disconnect between story and gameplay or contain any story elements in the few, obligatory cutscenes. Don't get me wrong, I also like games with fantastic gameplay and nothing else, but the games that stick with me are those with great stories. Fortunately, there are those rare occasions, those rare games whose story and gameplay are so intertwined that they blend beautifully. Transistor [$9.99], Supergiant Games' second game, is precisely one of those rare occasions where the story emerges from the gameplay and the gameplay emerges from the story, one of those rare games that prove the importance of cohesiveness in narrative and gameplay. That cohesiveness made Transistor one of my most memorable gaming experiences in quite a while; perfect it is not, but it is a fantastic experience that most iOS gamers will really enjoy...

'Xenowerk' Review - They Call Me a Werking Man, I Guess That's What I Am

I know Pixelbite's focus has been making racing games all this time, but man, was the world of dual-stick shooters missing out. Xenowerk [$1.99] is a more traditional dual-stick shooter affair than Space Marshals [$4.99], a more tactical shooter with stealth elements. Regardless, this is a ton of over-the-top fun. If you want a game that lets you blast a bunch of bugs into gooey puddles, rewards you for playing well, supports MFi controllers, and will push your device to a degree that will make it an effective hand-warmer in the wintertime, you'll love Xenowerk...

'Nubs' Adventure' Review - A Tale Of Home Ownership In The 21st Century

Poor old Nubs. He had defied the odds of the modern economy and purchased a nice house with a great view and plenty of land to build on. Sure, the land taxes were a bit tough to manage each year when tax season came around, but he had things sorted out nicely for the most part. Then one day, a couple of guys swing around, kick him out of his house and off the nearby cliff, then burn the whole thing down. I mean, are debt collectors getting rough these days or what? Luckily, a fairy offers to help you rebuild a home in a new, even better location. You're just going to have to grease the wheels a bit with some fairy dust, which can be extracted from crystals that are just laying around the world, protected by deadly monsters, cunning traps, and treacherous terrain. All things considered, it's probably still safer than a bank loan...

'You Must Build A Boat' Review - You Must Buy This Game

To tell you the truth, friends, I'm actually pretty busy working on something today. That said, I was asked to come and write something for all of you about the new follow-up to Luca Redwood's 10000000 [$2.99]. It's called You Must Build A Boat [$2.99], and it's every bit as compelling as the first game. Did you like the first game? Do you enjoy puzzle games? Do you like games? You're going to want this one, trust me...

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