Category Archives: Ratings

There's a bit of lingo in Japanese gaming that doesn't have a great equivalent in English. The term is baka-ge (literally "stupid game"), and it refers to games that are intentionally ridiculous or absurd. Think of something like Goat Simulator [$4.99], and you'll be well on your way to understanding what a baka-ge is. The term doesn't make much of a judgment as to whether the game is bad or good, mind you, but the very presence of this kind of spirit is enough to draw a certain type of gamer. My Horse Prince [Free] is an amazing bit of baka-ge, a tapper that seems to find endless joy in warping its equine protagonist's body in nonsensical ways, sending up visual novel tropes, and making terrible dad-jokes. I suspect the majority of people who bring themselves to try it will find it too stupid to tolerate. For some of you out there, however, this might be one of the most memorable games of this year...

'Kathy Rain' Review - The Nightmare of the 90's is Alive in Conwell Springs

The point-and-click adventure game genre has seen quite the resurgence. Once seen as incredibly niche, a growing gaming audience has helped provide a market for many future games, many from those who enjoyed the genre back in the day. Kathy Rain [$4.99] deliberately pays homage to the 90's era not only by taking place in the decade of grunge, but through a low-resolution aesthetic that tries to make the game feel like it came from that original era. And thanks to a compelling story, this is a great way to spend a few hours solving a dark mystery...




To be honest, I thought the day would never come when we would play Party Hard on mobile. The game had been announced for mobile a long time ago, but its PC release came and went with nary a mention of the mobile version. The game's publisher tinyBuild, is typically very open about what they're working on, so them being hesitant to show off what would become Party Hard Go [$6.99] was certainly odd. I wondered if the game even existed at some point. Like, I doubted that tinyBuild would be oddly skittish on this one's existence when they're so open with everything else, but it did seem odd. Well, after some work adapting the game and giving it a Go in the name, their murder simulator is finally here. And, well, it's a unique game, but one that has a lot of oddities to it...

'Bully: Anniversary Edition' Review - Another Rockstar Classic Heads to Mobile

At this point, a holiday release from Rockstar on the App Store is beginning to become tradition, and I really couldn't be happier. This year's addition to Rockstar's mobile catalog is Bully: Anniversary Edition [$6.99], celebrating the ten year anniversary of the original 2006 launch. Lots of folks in our community suspected that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories would be the next Rockstar game to hit the App Store, but it turns out that the one and only bigfart12 guessed correctly all the way back in March. Bully always seemed like the "forgotten" Rockstar game, at least amongst my circle of friends. It was released sandwiched in between Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories [$6.99] and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. I think it was close enough to the GTA formula that anyone interested in Bully likely just gravitated to either title instead. I suppose it also didn't help that literally everyone I know who was even remotely interested in video games was hard and heavy into World of Warcraft at the time either. Anyway, it wasn't until the remastered "Scholarship Edition" was released a few years later that I gave the game a try, and had one of those "Wait, what the. Why didn't I play this when it first came out?" epiphanies that often come with re-releases of games you heard were good but never actually got around to playing. The mobile release is technically a second remaster of the game, as Bully: Anniversary Edition comes with all the tweaks of Scholarship Edition, plus additional graphical effects, higher resolution textures, better lighting, and a new multiplayer mode, effectively making the mobile game the best version yet- At least until it's remastered a third time...

While the music/rhythm genre has become somewhat stagnant on consoles, it’s been alive and well on mobile with ports of classics along with new twists to enjoy. Still, it’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a tried and true classic take on the rhythm genre. Pianista [Free] is an excellent new title that offers that exact experience with the added benefit of a treasure trove of classical music. In fact, when you combine the well-designed rhythm system with an interesting freemium system, there’s really no reason not to at least check it out...

If you had told me five years ago that slingshot RPGs were going to become a thing, I'd have been happy to hear of a future where Squids [$1.99] was so influential. Of course, Squids isn't what really kicked off this craze. No, the current wave of flick-and-flail casual RPGs that are cropping up can be laid at the feet of Monster Strike [Free]. It's only natural a hit of that magnitude would inspire similar games, but it's impressive just how sophisticated some of them are becoming. Gamevil's entry into the proverbial arena is Knight Slinger [Free], and it might just have the best production values of any game like this yet. In terms of gameplay mechanics, it doesn't mix things up too much, but there are some new things here that veterans of Monster Strike might like to play around with...

If you were an iOS-only gamer following Capcom's Ace Attorney series, things probably got a little confusing with Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies [$0.99]. Why did it seem like Phoenix Wright was coming back to his job from a long time off? Who is this Apollo guy that takes up a third of the game? Wait, Phoenix has a daughter? What's up with that? I'm not sure why Capcom decided to give mobile players the fifth game in a series before the fourth one, but they've finally decided to fill that gap. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney [$0.99] is a beautiful remaster of the original game which, up until now, was exclusively found on the Nintendo DS. While the graphics aren't polygonal like Dual Destinies, they were originally rendered at a much higher resolution than the Game Boy Advance sprites that were redrawn for the Phoenix Wright Trilogy. It's also, for various reasons, generally not as well-liked as most of the other installments in the series. Nevertheless, it's safe to say that if you enjoyed your time in the courtroom in previous Ace Attorney games, you'll want to show up to the stand here, too...

'Exiled Kingdoms RPG' Review - Chop 'til You Drop

I usually try to stay on top of the various RPGs that come out from week to week, but every once in a while, something good slips past. Fortunately, the TouchArcade forums are pretty reliable about finding the things we happen to miss, and that's just how I came across Exiled Kingdoms [Free], a surprisingly excellent action-RPG in the vein of Diablo. While it's not the prettiest game around, it offers dozens of hours of killing monsters, looting dungeons, and gathering awesome gear. Just in case you need some convincing, the game even offers a substantial portion to play for free, with the rest unlocking for a one-time IAP...

Our culture's fiction has a fascination with werewolves. We've explored what it would be like to be an American werewolf tourist in Europe, what it would be like to have a werewolf Michael J. Fox, what it would be like to have a werewolf boyfriend, what it would be like to have a werewolf boyfriend who competes with our vampire boyfriend but then ends up being the boyfriend of our daughter instead, and so on. But I feel we could be doing a better job of digging into the fascinating subject of what it would be like to have a werewolf member of congress, a niche I was hoping Congresswolf [Free], a recent gamebook release from Choice of Games, would fill...

'Super Cat Tales' Review - Don't Paws, Play This Nya-ow

In spite of the seeming limitation of having no physical buttons by default, iOS has a lot of really great platformers. Some of them get by with virtual controls, putting some of the burden on the player to simply get used to them. That's fine, but unless the game is a port from another platform, I'm not sure if it's really the best way to go. I think some of the best platformers on iOS are the ones that avoid the temptation of using virtual buttons and find a way to build a game around a more fitting setup. Sure, you have to sacrifice some of the conventional ways of designing levels and obstacles, but in doing that, many games find something new and interesting...

Look, I love my hardcore math battles as much as the next person, but sometimes it's nice to get something a little lighter. It can be hard to find an RPG that skates the line between simplicity and complexity well, but that's just the spot that Witch Spring 2 [$3.99] fits into. With an emphasis on crafting, exploration of a limited map, and simple turn-based battles, it's probably not going to be to everyone's tastes. It also leans rather heavily on a cute anime style that is obviously going to resonate with some and turn off others. And yet, there's a lot of heart to the effort, and its innocent enthusiasm can be a little infectious. It's certainly a nice break from the usual template we see in this genre, if nothing else...

Let me start this review with a spoiler; for me, Sports Interactive's Football Manager Touch 2017 [$19.99] is probably the most complicated (yet still accessible), most replayable, and most entertaining game on the App Store. This is a game that lets you play any team from over 130 leagues across the world, and all those teams have their real-life players in their roster, and each of those players has his real-life stats (as well as those can be put into numbers). And you can play with that team for season after season all the while customizing it in all kinds of ways. I'm constantly amazed at all the little things I discover in this game as I go along, features and details that make playing the game faster while at the same time giving me more ways to interact with my team, my board, my training staff, and pretty much everyone in the world of Football Manager...

'Demon's Rise 2: Lords of Chaos' Review - And Now, the Other Side of the Coin

More than ever before, a game review these days is often little more than a snapshot of a work in progress. Developers are rarely finished with games just because they've launched, and in certain cases, so much is added after the fact that whatever I thought at a game's release no longer fits terribly well. A fine example of that is Demon's Rise [$4.99], the debut SRPG from developer Wave Light Games. Wave Light worked hard on balancing the game, adding lots of content, and implementing features, taking it far beyond what was in the initial release. In fact, the developer recently updated it again, and will be doing more in the future. It's great, but it also presents something of a challenge when it comes to a follow-up...

'Avadon 3: The Warborn' for iPad Review - A Worthy Conclusion to the Avadon Trilogy

Jeff Vogel's Avernum and Avadon games are some of the best computer RPGs (CRPG) that you can get on iOS. All of them have tons of content with an excellent balance of story-based and open-world options and their respective tales are pretty compelling as well. While Avernum has technically been complete for awhile, Avadon was still a work in process with the final game in the trilogy released on PC earlier this year. Thankfully, Avadon 3: The Warborn [$11.99 (HD)] is finally out on iOS too, completing the Avadon series on the iPad with yet another absolutely amazing CRPG...

'RunGunJumpGun' Review - The Name Says it All

It's interesting to see just how much mobile development has influenced the PC market. More and more we're seeing newer experiences that are formed around the same concept as Jetpack Joyride, whether it's of the endless or linear variety. The types of games prone to that control scheme work with touch, traditional remotes, and a mouse and keyboard. It's universal, and something gamers of all skill levels can pick up and play. It's a shame I only noticed RunGunJumpGun [$2.99] when it hit the mobile arena, because it really deserves the attention...

'Neon Chrome' Review - The Roguelike That's Just Right

I can't get enough of dual-stick shooter roguelikes, but often the time and effort requirement is too much. I'm more of a gaming tourist – I want to enjoy a lot of different experiences in gaming rather than having to decdicate tons of hours to get the joy out of a single game. Thankfully, Neon Chrome [$9.99] from 10tons, adapted for mobile from PC and console, scratches that itch. It's not easy by any stretch of the imagination, and it can be punishing, but it tones down some of the harsher parts of the roguelike-inspired genre to be more accessible up front for players who just want to enjoy a game of this type. This is a game where you can extract genuine rewards from it in the early hours, while still getting long-term challenge and satisfaction. ..

'Yankai's Triangle' Review - A Game with Kaleidoscope Eyes

Yankai's Triangle [$2.99] is weird. It seems to have a never-ending number of stages. Sometimes it looks at you. The colors are subdued one level, then shockingly bright the next. The scoring system is hard to make sense of. Everything is a little grainy. The eyes are watching. You might run into an absurdly difficult level followed by an astonishingly simple one immediately after. Before each level there are some symbols that mean something, but it's hard to say what unless you really watch carefully. Sometimes there are teeth. The game also introduces each and every level with a title card saying the level number followed with "by Kenny Sun". Perhaps the weirdest thing of all is that you're not doing much more than spinning triangles around, trying to match colors to make bigger triangles, and yet it's nearly impossible to put down...

It is exceedingly unlikely that Square Enix will ever make another Final Fantasy Tactics [$13.99 / $15.99 (HD)] game, at least in the traditional sense. I don't say that to be a wet blanket, it's just the way that it is. The series that seemingly introduced so many Western console players to strategy RPGs, a genre which has recently seen a serious boom in popularity worldwide, has apparently rode off into the night with its creator, Yasumi Matsuno. The weak reception to the third game in the series, Final Fantasy Tactics A2, probably didn't help matters, and without Matsuno at Square Enix to champion for it, the publisher looks to have lost interest in the brand. There were a couple of free-to-play browser games that didn't really go anywhere, but I suspect that's not the sort of thing that series fans are looking for anyway. What to do?..

I've been a huge F1 fan for over twenty five years and still watch it religiously. And I've also had the chance to play a couple of the Codemasters' F1 PC games in the past, so I have a pretty good sense of what the developer brings to the racing genre. So, when I heard at the Apple keynote that Codemasters was bringing what looked like a full F1 game to mobile, I was very excited. I love racing games on mobile, and I always thought that a well-made F1 game with the actual license and tracks would be great. Now we finally got F1 2016 [$9.99], and I have to say I'm impressed in some ways and quite disappointed in others. First of all, this game has way more content than I expected it to have in terms of modes and ways to play it. At the same time, half of those modes are marred by incredibly dumb AI opponents. And on top of that, there are numerous bugs and design decisions that make playing the game frustrating at times. When the driving clicks, though, the game is really fun...

It makes perfect sense why publishers would want to milk the legacy of classic games as long as they can. Why wouldn't they? Very often for a lot of these retro releases they've withstood the test of time, being sold to generation upon generation without any sign of stopping. Bandai Namco is the king of that practice, having delivered us hundreds of Pac-Man ports, re-releases, and spinoffs in the past several decades. But what I love more than a port is an original take on a classic formula...

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