Category Archives: 5 stars

'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 EDT 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. ..

iMazing Review: Stick it to the Apple, Backup Your Save Games on iOS 9

One of the things that is unquestionably better about PC and console gaming than mobile gaming is save game management. If you have progress in a game you want to back up to ensure that it's never lost, you're in the golden era of data protection. Consoles give you a decent set of options to protect your games, even if you delete your games from your hard drive, and even supporting cloud saves in many cases. And on PC, you can always hunt down the save files on your hard drive, and Steam Cloud works pretty well!..

'Downwell' Review - The Gold Standard for Attention to Detail in Retro-Styled Pixel Games

It seems like whenever we post a game with pixel art, trolls come seeping out of the woodwork to leave comments about how "lazy" the developer is for using pixel art among with many other equally ridiculous arguments which typically involve the conclusion that pixel art is "easy." When looking at the attention to detail that went into Downwell [$2.99], it's just kind of crazy to think that a developer would go to this level of retro nuance. Everything from the chip tune soundtrack to the dithered visual effect transitions to the faux-NES style slowdown that occurs is like a love letter to the roots of early gaming. Additionally, the gameplay is easily among the best arcade action platformers I've played on iOS, potentially ever...

'Subterfuge' Review: An Unsinkable Strategy Game

Oh hello there. I didn't see you come in. I've been mildly obsessed with a new game I think you might like. It's called Subterfuge [Free]. Never heard of it? That's weird, they had this really awesome youtube trailer with a cameo with the Sess' himself starring as overbearingly condescending guy. It was a really cute premise but I bet you want to know what kind of game warrants a promotion from the Rajah of Reviews, the Sultan of Stars and the King of Critics Adam Sessler. Well, a good one. A really good one. In fact, I am going to spoil this right here and now for those of you who hate reading an entire review, go get this game because it is awesome...

'Dust: An Elysian Tail' Review - This Dust's No Bust

Dust: An Elysian Tail [$5.99] is the kind of game you can really lose yourself in. The sort of game that you want to take to a comfortable corner and just give all of your attention to until it's finished. In spite of the many releases each week on iOS, plenty of which are good games in their own right, we don't see efforts like this terribly often on the platform. At least half the time we do see titles like this, they're ports from another platform, as Dust itself is. That's a sad economic reality of the iOS ecosystem. The platform's main appeal, judging by the charts, is in games that entertain in short bites, perfect for the busy player or someone on the go. That's fine sometimes, but other times, you really want to get into a game, and players on mobile devices perhaps don't get as many opportunities to do so as we'd like. Luckily, it's easy to forget those gripes when you get stuck into something like Dust...

'Gamebook Adventures 12: Asuria Awakens' Review - A Truly Epic Close

I can't recall if it's been formally announced, but this twelfth installment in Tin Man's long-running Gamebook Adventures series is, at least for now, the last. The series has had ups and downs, but even the weaker installments helped flesh out the fascinating fantasy world of Orlandes, so I'm a little sad to see it going on hiatus. I am, however, ecstatic that it's doing so with Asuria Awakens [$1.99], which is not only the best Gamebook Adventures yet, but also one of the finer traditional-style gamebooks I've ever played. The creative team behind this game seemingly held nothing back, giving us a quest that takes your character from a lowly gofer to a savior. There are a lot of gamebooks that do that, mind you, but you really have to earn it in this one, and it feels great...

'Mos Speedrun 2' Review - But Wait, There's More

When it comes to game developers, you should not expect reasonable practicality from them. Their dreams far exceed their ability to deliver. I mean, if you've ever backed a Kickstarter project, you know, because they were at least late on delivering it. And Star Citizen has somehow turned into "The creator of Wing Commander wants to make a new space game" into a multinational crowdfunded AAA nightmare. The point being that when a game developer promises you the moon, you should expect a large rock at best. Except in the case of Mos Speedrun 2 [$1.99], a game made by some real crazy people. It's so crazy, that it's got secret items that only appear on certain days. Secret areas that house difficult-to-collect golden skulls are often more difficult than the actual levels themselves. One of the developers watching me stream the game said that I missed several secrets in one level alone. They somehow managed to jam-pack everything they ever could possibly stick into a speedrun game, and it is absurd...

'Minecraft - Pocket Edition Version 0.12' Review - You've Come A Long Way, Stevie

In the world of gaming, four years is a long time. In the specific corner of the hobby that is mobile gaming, four years might as well be twenty. It's long enough to turn the greatest of apps into digital dust, to add 1200 levels to Candy Crush Saga [Free], to see a new iPhone model launch and be discontinued, and certainly long enough for a diligent developer to turn around a disappointing launch release. Minecraft - Pocket Edition [$6.99] was a shell of its proper self when it debuted on the App Store back in November 2011, something we made note of in our original review. And while I don't want people to get in the habit of expecting a new review for every game that gets a significant update or two, Minecraft - Pocket Edition has come so far that almost nothing in our original review applies to the game anymore. With the release of a significant new version of the game, now is as good a time as any to revisit it...

'Land Sliders' Review - It's Pretty Great

The folks at Prettygreat, consisting of a few ex-Halfbrick developers, have launched their first game Land Sliders [Free], and it shows that they still have the spark that led them to help create games like Fruit Ninja [$1.99 / Free] and Jetpack Joyride [Free]. This is a high-score chaser where collecting items across the various levels while avoiding danger is the goal, but the mechanic you play the game with is really quite clever: you slide the game world around like you would scroll through a web page. The natural and fun feeling of these controls, along with all the work put into creating an enjoyable game world, make Land Sliders a fantastic game...

'Sage Solitaire' Review - My Sage Advice is to Play This Game

Zach Gage's Sage Solitaire [Free] is a fantastic example of how to make a mobile card game that's unique, fast, and strategic. This is a solitaire card game where you play by default with a deck of cards laid out into 9 stacks on a 3x3 grid, with more cards in the top stacks than the middle than in the lower stacks. You make matches based on some poker hands – two pair is not included – and get points for each match. The rub is that matches have to be made between cards that are on at least two different rows, so you can't play two horizontally adjacent cards. There are 51 cards in total to get through, with one card discarded at the beginning of the game and used to determine the bonus suit, which doubles the point value of any hand made with it. You can trash a card at any time, with each hand you play giving you a new trash. Because of the two-rows requirement, it's possible for any game to end with one ill-fated play, so using your big matches and trashes wisely is important...

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

Aquiris Game Studio was on a mission with Horizon Chase [Free]. 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]. 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...

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