Category Archives: 5 stars

'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 [$4.99] 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

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April 5th, 2016 10:50 AM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $0.99, 5 stars, Action, Arcade, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
Free Buy Now

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...

'Clash Royale' Review - A Hybrid of Card Games, RTS, MOBA, and Awesome

Reviewing these mega-releases always feels like a bit of formality, as if you've paid any attention to the mobile gaming scene over the last few months, you probably already followed our guide and have been playing the soft launched version of Clash Royale [Free], if for no reason other than to see what all the fuss is about. Well, the game officially launched worldwide early this morning along side the biggest Apple feature we've ever seen in App Store history, and when you combine Supercell's penchant for huge blown-out advertising campaigns, I'm guessing it won't be long until they start blasting all available airwaves with celebrity-packed Clash Royale TV commercials. The good news is the game itself is absolutely phenomenal, and much like Clash of Clans [Free], will undoubtedly summon a veritable tsunami of copycats and highly "inspired" spinoffs... Which might not necessarily be the worst thing, as the combination of genres and gameplay mechanics in Clash Royale actually works incredibly well for a mobile game...

'Tennis Champs Returns' Review - A New Definition of Love

Sports video games are in a tough spot, in my opinion. They have benefited greatly from hardware advancement over the decades, and are able to offer much more accurate simulations of their real-life counterparts with things like incredible graphics and advanced physics and AI. But along with that sports games have undoubtedly become more complex, and are often difficult to approach with their many button inputs and moves. I also feel that sometimes sports games fail to capture the essence of the sport they're trying to mimic, as even though the action on screen is faithful the their real-life counterparts it often doesn't "feel" like you're actually playing that sport. More like just inputting your button combinations and watching what unfolds...

'Final Fantasy 9' Review - Celebrating The Series In Style

I had often wondered if we were going to see Final Fantasy 9 [$20.99] on iOS. As the only installment of the PlayStation 1 trio without a PC port, it was going to take a lot more work to get the game going on other platforms. At the same time, it's also the lowest-selling among its PlayStation peers, and while it seems to be generally more well-liked than Final Fantasy 8 these days, it's hard to say how well Square Enix would be able to financially justify what would have to be a high-effort port. Well, I guess the numbers must have finally worked out, because not only is Final Fantasy 9 now available on iOS, the quality of the port is well beyond my expectations. This is a great RPG from one of Square Enix's best eras, and it's been given an exceptional amount of care in the transition to mobile...

'Crashlands' Review - Holy Wompit, This Is Outstanding

This might sound odd, but I hadn't been paying much attention to Crashlands [$4.99]. I had read the inspiring story behind its genesis, and I knew it was some sort of crafting game. I knew the developer, Butterscotch Shenanigans, has always turned out quality games. But because I had initially pegged it as being something outside of my usual interests, my eye was off the ball. I'm glad for that, because it allowed me to approach this game without too many preconceptions or any sort of hype build-up. If anything, I wasn't sure if I'd like it as much as another reviewer might, since I rarely get deeply into games built around crafting mechanics. Crashlands had to win me over, in other words, and my biggest surprise is how fully it did so...

'Swapperoo' Review - Rage Against The Matching

I remember hearing that people were so obsessed with Tetris in the 80’s that when they’d close their eyes they’d still see the pieces falling and fitting together in their mind. It’s called the Tetris Effect, and I’ve always thought it was weird that people considered it strange enough to warrant its own name. Pretty much anything I get super into will start to invade my thoughts and dreams when I close my eyes. Isn’t that pretty normal? Why is Tetris special? Certainly there are plenty of iOS games that give me the same “effect” when I play them long enough. Like Swapperoo [$2.99], for instance...

'Badland 2' Review - The Pursuit of Flappiness

It’s weird how much gaming has changed since I was a kid. In the old days, sequels usually meant a game would be bigger and better in nearly every way, with more levels, characters, new modes, etc. Consider Perfect Dark, the spiritual sequel to Goldeneye 007, for example. It was absolutely bursting with new stuff to do. There was the campaign and multiplayer (like Goldeneye), but it also had a brand new challenge mode, a gun range, a co-op and counter-op campaign mode, a main menu that you could walk around in, and a massive customizable bot mode that I lost a large chunk of my adolescence to. These days, though, things are a bit different. Because games tend to have more content added through updates and DLC, that means version 1.0 of a sequel can often feel a bit lacking. It’s especially striking when you consider iOS classic Badland [$2.99], which is certainly one of the most updated games I can think of. It’s the reverse of my Perfect Dark example, where the original game is the one now bursting with levels and modes while the sequel feels a bit sparse in comparison. It’s an interesting problem to have, but even despite that, I think Badland 2 [$3.99] is a superior game to the original, with the potential to surpass it many times over in terms of quality and amount of content...

'Hearthstone' League of Explorers Adventure Review - No Monkeying Around, This Adventure Was Spectacular

League of Explorers, the latest Hearthstone [Free]Adventure, came pretty much out of nowhere. Although we knew that something was going to be announced at BlizzCon, we didn't have any details about its theme or the cards it would include. Not only were we surprised with an Adventure that deviated from the typical World of Warcraft lore of previous expansions and adventures, but we got it in our hands the week of the announcement, leaving little time to evaluate the Adventure's 45 cards. It's not that surprising, then, that when the first bunch of cards, and especially Reno Jackson, were released after LoE Wing 1, everyone was amazed by the effect LoE already had on the game. Literally overnight, the meta slowed down and everyone playing Hearthstone, from pros to casuals, felt that the game was fresh and interesting again and out of the rut it had been for months...

'AirAttack 2' Review - Stunning Shooting

When people claim that gameplay takes precedent above all else, including visual fidelity, I ask, "why not both?" There have been plenty of games that have pushed the envelope in just about every facet imaginable, including the recent Witcher 3 from CD Projekt Red. The same goes for mobile titles, which are pushing boundaries far beyond what I thought was initially capable when the App Store first debuted so many years back. We're starting to see full console experiences on portable devices, and AirAttack 2 [$0.99] is one such game that doesn't even feel like it should be possible given the hardware...

'A Study In Steampunk: Choice By Gaslight' Review - Holmes Plus Steampunk Equals Excellence

As much fun as they can be, at the end of the day, most pieces of interactive fiction have stories that are good for games. That's the nasty little asterisk that reminds the player not to expect too much from the story, that it has sacrificed literary merit in exchange for getting the reader's input at frequent points throughout. It makes sense, if you think about it. Writing a great story is like making a great painting. The words are the strokes on the canvas of the page, and, ideally, each one will be carefully chosen to serve a purpose. Good writing is hard, in other words. An interactive story magnifies that difficulty greatly, as you now have to create hundreds of similar but equally great works based on how the player decides. Then you have to deal with the expectations of the audience, who generally want lots of action and a brisk pace, preferably with elves or aliens. I love the genre, but mostly because of the fusion of choice and narrative. If you handed me the stories on their own, I'd probably be considerably less thrilled with many of my favorite gamebooks...

'Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories' Review - What a Difference a Decade Makes

Originally released for the PlayStation Portable just a little over a decade ago, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories [$6.99] was the first "real" portable GTA game. Sure, there were GTA games on the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color, but those games totally embodied the whole early handheld gaming scene, as they were toned down versions of GTA in every way the game could possibly be toned down and as a result of that really just weren't that great. The top down Grand Theft Auto Advance felt particularly dated, sandwiched in between the launch of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas [$6.99] and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, which both (obviously) were full-blown 3D titles. Compared to other games in the series, Liberty City Stories was never that memorable to me. Severe ghosting on the screen of my first-generation PSP made the game real hard for me to enjoy playing, and while from a critical perspective it was received incredibly well, I never really got that far into it. Rockstar provided us with an early copy of the iOS port, and it makes me want to send a message back in time to my 2005 self that says, "Hey, deal with the ghosting and load times, this game is great."..

'Football Manager Touch 2016' Review - Say Goodbye To Your Free Time, Your Job, and Your Life

What do you look for in a game? Is it brief moments of entertainment? Do you like games that keep you busy while you play them and fade from memory the moment you stop? Then Football Manager Touch 2016 [$19.99] is definitely not for you. Why so? Because this is a game about investment, a game that hooks you not with its frantic gameplay (since it's anything but frantic) but by getting you involved and invested in your career. The game makes you feel like an integral part of team your managing; you don't play FMT 2016 only when you're looking at your tablet, you're playing it even late at night in a bar when you're thinking which player would work where, or whether that wonderkid will finally turn up on matchday. This is a game that will literally expand to fill much of your free time, even when you aren't actually anywhere near your tablet...

'The Room Three' Review - My, How You've Grown

'The Room Three' Review - My, How You've Grown

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November 5th, 2015 12:28 AM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $4.99, 5 stars, Adventure, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
$4.99 Buy Now

Perhaps it's appropriate, but The Room [Free / $0.99 (HD)], the original one, is one of those games where it's hard to take it apart piece by piece and find what exactly makes it so great. Like a real puzzle box, it's almost impossible not to sit there fiddling around with the box, pulling at its many bits and pieces. Its limited scope, with just a big box sitting on a table, means that it isn't too hard to make progress as long as you kept trying things, and if you do manage to get stuck, the game has a really well-designed hint system. You keep moving forward, and feeling pretty clever most of the time. The story sits firmly in the background for most of the game, with little details you can pay attention to or ignore as you like. Whether or not you pay attention to the narrative, the atmosphere is hard to resist. As you keep whittling down the puzzles, it's hard not to wonder what kind of person makes a device like this...

'Five Card Quest' Review - Kitchen Sink not Included

I dont usually prejudge games before playing them, but I would be lying if I said I didnt get excited by the sheer mention of a new Rocketcat game. Five Card Quest[$2.99] is that game and it is cool + awesome. Even though it could be described as a Card Battler/Tactical RPG/Roguelike, it doesn't play like a hybrid game. It is a sleek and challenging dungeon delver that really stresses making the right decision and playing the right card each turn. ..

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