Category Archives: Ratings

It’s no secret around these parts that I have a great fondness for deck building card games. It also may come as a shock to you, me being a writer on a website and all, but I am rather fond of the fine art of word-smithery. Never did I think the two would be joined in such a perfect and holy union as they have been in Tim Fowers’/Fowers Games Inc.’s Paperback: The Game [$3.99]. It’s like the love child of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer [Free] and Scrabble [$7.99], and while it could use some more meat on its bones, it’s a beautiful little baby...

I’m a simple man. I see vikings, I click download. This has been true for years, and it was true a couple months ago, when Vikings: an Archer’s Journey [$2.99] was in the recommended new games section of the App Store home page. I didn’t opt for a review right away because this game definitely needed some more time in the forge, but a few thousand whacks with the hammer of improvement later and we have a solid bow-and-arrow-centric runner on our hands worth giving a look...




'Z-Exemplar' Review - My R-Type of Game

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January 31st, 2017 10:59 AM EST by Chris Carter in $3.99, 4.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Shooter, Universal
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I've been gaming for a very long time, but I can say without hesitation that I was late to the ZX Spectrum train. Given that it was an 8-bit computer released in the UK in 1983 that's understandable, but strangely enough, various other bits of tech history that allowed me to experience it. My first ZX Spectrum game was Manic Miner on the now defunct Microsoft Zune, which drew me into a whole new world that I didn't know know existed. Soon enough I was learning about the MSX and diving into a rabbit hole of gaming that I could never escape from. If you've ever wikipedia-ed something for hours on end until you end up wasting the entire day away, you know what I mean...

Once upon a time, there was a fairly popular Java-based online RPG named Wyvern [Free]. It began its life in 2001 and ran for 10 years before its server was shut down in April of 2011, much to the sadness of its devoted players. It took some legal wrangling, but its creator Steve Yegge was finally able to secure the rights to bring the game back, and he's opted to do it on iOS. Inspired by 1980s PC RPGs, Wyvern has something of a vintage look and feel to it, and it's anything but beginner-friendly. If you're okay with that, however, you'd be hard-pressed to find a deeper MMORPG experience on mobile...

If you do any kind of activity that involves your voice, you need at least a decent microphone. While voice chat, Skype calls, and mics for streaming are traditionally associated with PC and console gaming, we're increasingly seeing activities that require microphones happening on mobile. Streaming is more open than ever on mobile between services like Mobcrush that even have native iOS streaming support. Apps like Discord [Free] make it easy to work together with fellow guild or clan members, with voice chat support that works straight from your phone. Or maybe you talk to your family a lot via FaceTime (which uses a higher-quality audio codec than standard cellular calls) and want something that sounds good to them. Now, while you could use the microphone that comes on cheap pack-in earbuds, you're sacrificing a lot of quality, as these microphones are built for convenience, not for quality. If you do anything regularly with your voice, you and anyone who has to listen to you deserves a microphone of better quality. ..

Despite its mysterious dystopian backdrop, Collect or Die [$1.99] ironically made me reminisce of the ‘golden days’ of the App Store. Specifically, a time when the perceived novelty of the iPhone’s gyroscopic controls means an abundance of tilt controlled titled, when rag-dolls and stickmen were being constantly flung to their inevitable bloody demise, and also one where an emphasis on genuinely fun gameplay trumped the need for timers and draconian monetisation mechanics. Collect or Die even has a Lite version- it truly doesn't get more retro than that. On the other hand, a lot has changed since 2008 - Collect or Die is a game that, in testament to its title, lives and dies as a result of its reverence to older iOS experiences, and while some may be turned off by its tilt-only rock-hard emphasis on platforming, Collect or Die features enough variety and irreverent humor to make it a highly enjoyable experience, even in 2017...

'Super Gridland' Review - A Set of Matching Swords

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January 25th, 2017 11:33 AM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $1.99, 3.5 stars, Arcade, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
$1.99 Buy Now

Gridland is a really nifty browser-based puzzle game from Michael Townsend, the original creator of A Dark Room [$0.99]. It merges aspects of survival games, clickers, and match-3 puzzlers into one neat package that will likely absorb at least a couple of hours of your time before it feels like its hand is fully played. It's free, saves your progress, and it even works in mobile browsers. Super Gridland [$1.99] is the same game, albeit considerably gussied up in terms of presentation. It's just as fun as it ever was, even if it doesn't really make a strong case for itself as a separate app from the browser version...

Pleasant is the operative word to describe Dan Fitzgerald and Lisa Bromiel's Dog Sled Saga [$3.99], a charming game about dog sled racing that is more of a simulator than a racer. It came out last fall, but I couldn’t let us get through the winter without giving it a proper look over. Especially since the current build is so much more polished and stable than launch. It’s definitely the strongest game the developers have released thus far and it only makes me look forward to what they comes out with next. So strap your boots on and clean out the kennel. It’s time to crack the whip!..

The original Don't Starve [$4.99] started a revolution of sorts in my house. My wife, who typically doesn't enjoy punishing or permadeath games, took to it for weeks on end, and started a revolution of sorts in terms of her gaming habits. She's spend days trying to perfect a certain run, learning new ways to survive in the process, die, and then have to start all over. We did it together all the way through two expansions, and although it's not for everyone, the process of picking up on every little minute detail every playthrough and coming out stronger for it is incredible. That second expansion has finally made its way to iOS in the form of Don't Starve: Shipwrecked [$4.99], and although it's one heck of a mixup in terms of the survival formula, it's not without its iOS specific faults...

In virtually every respect, Empire of Angels 4 [$9.99] is a completely average SRPG. The latest in the line of a twenty-year-old series from well-known Taiwanese publisher Softstar, it doesn't stray far from what you've likely seen in a lot of other games in this genre. You'll go from point to point on a map, advance the story, fight some turn-based battles using an ever-increasing group of units, level up your team, and move on to the next challenge. Units can come in a variety of job classes, which define what moves they have at their disposal. Battles are broken up by cut-scenes that move the story along, but the meat of the game is left to the combat...

One of the most popular RPGs in the world might just be a game that you've never heard of. Flash RPG series Sonny has gotten millions of players over the past decade between two different installments. Now, web portal and game publisher Armor Games has teamed up with developer Krin to bring a new Sonny [$2.99] game to mobile. It's not a sequel to Sonny 2, necessarily, which ended on a cliffhanger. Instead, this is a massive reboot with a new storyline, some familiar and returning characters, and an actual ending to the story. You play as the eponymous Sonny, a dude who has died on a boat, but thanks to a special serum from Louis, you're a powerful, conscious zombie. Louis gets killed by Zombie Pest Control Incorporated troops, who are out to get you because you're a zombie, and to exact vengeance on your initial ZPCI troop kills. After your escape, you travel through the world, meeting new allies, learning more abilities, and discovering that some of this world's zombie population are able to communicate much like you are...

Cannonfire Concerto [$3.99] is another gamebook release from Choice of Games that offers an unusual premise and excellent world-building. You play as a touring musical virtuoso in a setting that has something of an 18th century European feel. It's a time of momentary peace for the region, but things are starting to fire up again. It's up to you to decide whether or not you want to get involved and which side you'll pull for, but whatever you choose, the show must go on. Written by Caleb Wilson, Cannonfire Concerto is a lighter and faster-paced read than some of the last few ChoiceScript games released, but that doesn't stop it from creating an interesting setting and having a good bit of fun with it...

'The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth' Review - Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

At last! The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth [$14.99] has finally released on iOS, and it was well worth the wait. Perhaps the most popular dual-stick shooter roguelike out there, rumors, Apple approvals drama, and a constantly-shifting release date led to this being the white whale for many iOS gamers. As the release date narrowed down to a general range, every day saw one question surely asked: "When's Isaac coming?" Well, thanks to a surprise Tuesday night release on January 10th US time, The Binding of Isaac is finally here, and well worth the wait. The scatological, challenging roguelike dual-stick shooter promises challenging gameplay with mountains of secrets to discover...

Out Run really was ahead of its time. Released over 30 years ago, Yu Suzuki tapped into the racing market like never before, with a sit-down car-like arcade cabinet and an exploration-based concept. In Out Run the objective wasn't to really "finish first" despite the time limit mechanic. It was all about the journey, providing choices for where to go by way of forked roads, leading to multiple playthroughs, and even other choices that weren't typical at the time, like radio stations. The game broke my preconceived notions of what the medium could do at the time as a young runt, and still stands as one of Sega's crowning achievements. It was a magical experience stepping inside one of those cabinets, and although Highway Runners [$1.99] doesn't really hit all of the same notes, it's a nice little homage to a bygone era...

Do not buy these. Just don't. Not even for a laugh. Not even because they're only a couple bucks a pop and what harm could it do? I am sitting here trying to imagine how these ports of the 8-bit Mega Man games could have been worse, and I'm coming up dry. Nothing is right about them. Nothing. It's like someone was given the graphic and audio assets of the games and were told to re-create everything else on their own. The gravity is off. Enemy behavior is off. Hit detection is weird, and even the recoil from getting hit doesn't work properly. The games are crash-prone. The framerate is awful. The default speed is absurdly slow and choppy, and while the faster speed setting makes things a little better, it's too fast, still choppy, and messes with the games' fundamental workings even more...

Twin-stick shooting. Roguelite elements. Pandas with heavy ordinance. It was inevitable that someone, at some point in human history, would put these things together into one game. Continuing my mop-up of games that missed getting a review upon their initial release, it's Feral Fury's turn at bat. This game has developed a strong following in the TouchArcade forums, both because of the quality of the game itself and because of its highly-responsive, courteous developer. Feral Fury [$1.99] walks along a similar path to games like Enter the Gungeon and Binding of Isaac, and although it's not quite up to the level of those games, it's still an awful lot of fun...

'RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic' Review - The Perfect Classic Ride

RollerCoaster Tycoon is as beloved a classic simulation series as any, but up until now it had yet to show its true classic root on iOS. After the ridiculousness of the freemium-filled RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile [Free], players eventually got a decent title in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 [$4.99], which brought the core simulation gameplay to iOS. However, as we’ve mentioned in previously, RCT3 doesn’t quite nail the look and feel that hardcore fans of the series were looking for. Enter RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic [$5.99], which combines the best of both RollerCoaster Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 in an amazing mobile package. Rest assured, RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic is the real deal and is a must-own for everyone that loves simulation titles...

Pixeljam has revived their Flash game Snowball! [$1.99] for Steam and mobile, and the world is better off with this charming pinball game. The whole game is just one table, but it's an entertaining table, and a game that's absolutely gorgeous for pixel art aficionados, especially on a big enough screen. The table is intended to take place on the side of a mountain, with the pinball being a Snowball!, the flippers being wooden contraptions operated by people, and the area where your ball falls into being a campfire that melts the ball. It's charming...

The gravity gun from Half-Life 2 is a dramatically underutilized tool in games. What felt so cool and revolutionary in 2004 has since been stuck to just one game. Kind of like how there were rumblings that the portal gun would show up in a future Half-Life 2 episode, and other games with portals like Portal have popped up. Thanks to Island Delta [$2.99], it has reminded me of how clever an idea the gravity gun. But also, it serves as a reminder of how a tool that requires good physics also requires good design to be used effectively...

'Colt Express' Makes Robbing Trains Fun and a Treat for the Eyes

Board game ports are a popular genre on the App Store, and while some are fun, not all of them strike a good balance between retaining the feel of a board game and taking advantage of all the digital realm can offer. I'm glad to say Colt Express [$2.99], the port of the award-winning board game, manages to bring the board game to life on digital by adding enough animation and sounds to make it pleasing to the eye while keeping the spirit of the board game intact. In fact, the developers have done something unusual in this port; they've transformed the 3D trains of the board game into 2D ones that look made of cardboard...

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