Category Archives: Ratings

'The Bug Butcher' Review - Squashing Makes Me Feel Good

The Bug Butcher [$3.99] might have been released on PC earlier this year, but it felt like it was built for mobile devices. The horizontal Super Pang style, the limited amount of buttons -- it gels well with the endless approach for many similar mobile games, but The Bug Butcher has a level of sheen that a lot of those games sorely lack. There's also lots of room for colorful character designs, a tight control scheme, and some silly, funny writing that tie it all together. It looks and acts like a cartoon, and you'll uncover more and more layers of depth the more you play, which is the telltale sign of something you'll want to play beyond an initial curious play session. Developer Awfully Nice Studios did a great service porting this over...

'RETSNOM' Review - Yako S'ti

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I think the first platformer I ever played where you could manipulate gravity was Irem's Metal Storm for the 8-bit NES. It's a side-scrolling action game, a genre that at the time was so flooded that you virtually had to have some kind of gimmick to stand out. You were mostly jumping and shooting, but you also had a handy button that let you flip to the ceiling. That mechanic showed up here and there over the years before the popular VVVVVV [$2.99] used it better than any game had before, at least in my opinion. It makes for clever puzzles, but more importantly, it rewrites the rules of one of gaming's most well-worn genres. So it's not surprising that a lot of games that followed VVVVVV drew that mechanic into their tool sets. Unfortunately, in becoming a trend, flipping gravity has lost a lot of what it can offer a game...




Genre mashups always toe a precarious line between providing players with established systems of play while simultaneously turning them upside down by placing them in new environments. If not done well enough, players are left with a completely foreign experience without any familiar gameplay elements to form a grounding experience. In other words, balance is key. The Lost Shield [$1.99], while a relatively basic example of a genre mashup, nevertheless does a decent job achieving that balance. In fact, if not for some more fundamental issues with the game, I’d have no problem heralding it as a rare unqualified success...

The game of chess may well have been one of the earliest examples of a game being easy to learn but hard to master. Learning how all of the pieces move and putting together a basic strategy towards getting a checkmate isn't that difficult, but the unpredictable nature of human behavior makes chess a game that always has something new to offer. There's almost always a move to make that could be considered the best, but it's only the best if your opponent reacts in the textbook way themselves. A strong chess player needs to study their opponent almost as intently as the board. That said, there's a lot to be said for learning some fundamental strategies, just in case your opponent plays things by the book. As an added bonus, that knowledge will help you if you decide to play Moveless Chess [Free]...

Let's be honest: Kemco's RPG release schedule on mobile has always been pretty absurd. They've only been at this for around five years on smartphones and they're nearing 50 RPGs on iOS in English, and even more than that on Android. That works out to an average of just under one RPG per month for five years running. Now, there's a fair bit of repetition from game to game, particularly if you're just looking at the broad outlines, but I feel they've historically been able to mitigate that issue by keeping a handful of developers on tap. This has helped differentiate the Kemco catalogue, to at least a small extent, and has also ensured that each developer has a bit of a buffer between releases...

'Eggggg – The Platform Puker' Review – Engrossingly Gross

I’m not going to lie. When you first start this game, it might seem a little grody. You might feel a tiny bit nauseated. But that goes away quickly, and what you’re left with is one of my favorite games of this year. It is a solid platformer first and foremost, drawing on several great inspirations, but it’s also outrageously silly and funny entirely through its world, art style, and sound effects. This is a triumphant tale of allergies, cyborg chickens, your mean Aunt Doris, and eggs. This is Eggggg – The Platform Puker [$3.99]...

'Primordia' Review – B'sodding Brilliant

Of all the adventure games I’ve reviewed for this site, this is probably my favorite. The writing is stellar, the voice acting is ace, the style is top notch, and the soundtrack perfectly sets the tone. What is this game upon which I lavish such high praise? It’s an adventure game called Primordia [$4.99]. A very modern adventure game with a very old school feel, where the puzzles are challenging but not because they’re goofy and absurd. Puzzles and interactions serve the story and characters first, in a bleak post-apocalyptic world that is very well built. And the kicker? Nary a human being in site. This is a robot’s world now, though humans still play a pivotal role...

Every now and again I like to look through old weekly new game posts to find worthwhile games that may have been overlooked. Especially with the light speed pace of the mobile market. If you like RPG survival games that capture a real sense of struggle with an atmosphere of otherworldly dread, then you’ll probably adore Dead in Bermuda [$4.99] from CCCP and Plug in Digital. The stuff that it does right, it really does right. It’s hilariously (probably realistically) difficult, but it was definitely worth the price of admission, which is way cheaper than an airline ticket to Bermuda and the psychological cost of crashing and having to survive with your wits alone...

There's very little that's more satisfying than an easy to grasp game. If it has shooting elements, great, it probably appeals to the little destroyer in us all. That's precisely why so many have flocked to Downwell [$2.99], as it has that "one more run" type of feel combined with a loveable art style and simple control scheme. It's something that you can just pick up and play, preferably on a convenient device like a smartphone, and just go to town with, for minutes or hours at a time. Spingun [Free] might not be as epic as some of those types of games, but it definitely has that feel...

'Dan the Man' Review - A Blast While it Lasts

'Dan the Man' Review - A Blast While it Lasts

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October 20th, 2016 12:30 PM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4.5 stars, Action, Arcade, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Platform, Reviews
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One of the more reliable means of drawing attention in marketing is to use the biggest numbers you can find for your product or service's features. It's historically been very useful in selling video games, with RPGs claiming dozens of hours of gameplay, open world games boasting about the sizes of their maps, and platformer games talking up the number of levels they have. Thing have become ludicrous in mobile gaming, with Candy Crush offering a couple thousand levels and many platformers eventually expanding out to over a hundred stages. Never mind that the levels might be short, or easily constructed. The players will find that out later, and when they do, they may well not even care...

'Nightgate' Review - Enter The Matrix

Semidome made a splash with their artsy debut Last Voyage [$1.99]. It was an artsy yet eclectic experience, as its ten chapters ran the gamut of gameplay styles to convey its abstract story. Semidome isn't done conveying this abstract digital atmosphere in their second title Nightgate [$2.99]. It positions itself as a more singular experience, but one that succeeds in creating a fascinating landscape for players to experience for just a little while...

Let's address it immediately: Treasure Buster [$0.99] is obviously inspired by Mixi's Monster Strike [Free]. Much like this developer's previous game, Slayin [$0.99], this game initially comes off uncomfortably similar to the object of its homage. Luckily, also like Slayin, Treasure Buster ultimately differentiates itself well enough to transcend the copycat label and settle in as an interesting variation on a tried and tested mechanic. In fact, I would say that this game ditches a lot of what makes Monster Strike so much fun, choosing to create its own brand of enjoyment by adding a number of gameplay elements that Monster Strike doesn't have. As usual for a game published by FDG, Treasure Buster also looks and sounds great, fusing a bang-on retro presentation to a very modern gameplay structure...

Everyone has a genre they couldn't live without. For some youngsters, it's survival games, which can extend to Minecraft. For others, it's sports games, and the thrill of drafting out a new fantasy team with incoming college players thrown into the fray. For me, my choice ebbs and flows depending on the year, but the most consistent one I'm always falling back on is platformers. Whether it's those of the mascot variety with strict adherence to 3D standards and wonky cameras, or the tried and true 2D approach, you can put pretty much any one of them in front of me and I'll at least give it a go. Tons of Bullets [$1.99] caught my eye in name alone, but it ended up being about more than just blasting things...

'Really Bad Chess' Review - Rook No Further

It would be extremely easy to start this review by alluding to the ironic self-deprecation of the title, and affirm how Really Bad Chess [Free] is actually a Really Good Game. However, in truth, the title is not too far off the mark. Compared to the balance, strategic depth, and elegance of the age-old board game, Zach Gage’s most recent release is really bad chess. It is highly likely you will start a game with an abundance of the most powerful pieces versus a far weaker opponent, and it will likely not take as much tactical meticulousness to break down their defence; anyone looking for a chess simulator will undoubtedly be disappointed. However, once preconceptions of similar titles are left behind, Really Bad Chess manages to turn a tiresome, tricky and intimidating game into one perfectly suited for the immediacy of mobile gaming. While it may share similarities in the pieces, and how they can move, to the game it takes its name from, Really Bad Chess is an entirely different beast. Through prioritising unpredictability and offensive play over experience, Zach Gage has crafted an essential puzzle experience for anyone even remotely interested in strategy games on the App Store...

For English console gamers, ASCII's RPG Maker for the original PlayStation was likely their first chance to make their own game without actually learning how to program. It was a very limited version of the software, but you could make a basic JRPG with it if you were dedicated enough. I imagine most players bounced off of it, though, since it took a lot of time to make anything really worthwhile. Those who stuck with it likely found their way to the more robust PC versions of RPG Maker, which started getting official English releases from 2005 onward. Since 2010, the English versions of the PC RPG Maker have been handled by Degica. That same publisher has now released an iOS RPG creation tool called RPG Creator [Free]. It's not from the same people as RPG Maker, but it certainly does a good job of approximating its earlier incarnations...

'Pumped BMX 3' Review - A Successful 360 Spin

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October 13th, 2016 11:05 AM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $3.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Sports
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The original Pumped BMX [$1.99] was a fun, surprisingly deep side-scrolling stunt game that combined elements of Tiny Wings [$0.99] and Trials to great success. The sequel, Pumped BMX 2 [$2.99], completely blew the first game out of the water. The highlights included a dramatically-improved presentation, a deeper trick system, and a better set of controls that made pulling off intricate maneuvers much easier. It was such a big step up from the first game that it was hard to see where the series could go in a sequel without completely tearing up the carpet. That seems to have proven true, as Pumped BMX 3 [$3.99] isn't nearly the upgrade that the second game was over the first. There are some significant additions, but nothing that really changes the game in any major way. Whether that's a good thing or not depends on how well you've enjoyed this series until now...

'Banner Saga 2' Review - Dredging up the Past

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October 7th, 2016 2:39 PM EST by Andrew Fretz in $4.99, 4 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
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I hope you packed extra consonants and umlauts, because Stoic is back with Banner Saga 2[$4.99]. The epic journey has returned to iOS and with it new gameplay mechanics, new environments and new friends to see die in new and horrible ways. You've probably had enough time to get over the overwhelming depression the first episode was so good at instilling in you, I bet you're ready for round 2! Come and join me by the fire while we still have some rations to share while we look deeper into this enjoyably sad sequel...

It's always interesting to see what kind of games follow when a novel idea hits big. The first wave is usually composed of shameless clones, but after everyone gets those out of their systems, you start to see some interesting, enjoyable twists. Earlier this year, we took a look at Dungeon Tiles [Free], a game that fused some light RPG mechanics into the core mechanics of Threes! [$2.99], adding an extra layer of tension to the swipe 'n' merge gameplay. Stencilsmith [$0.99] takes a broadly similar approach to that game, but also introduces crafting aspects to give you even more to do. The game has been out for a few months already, but it just recently got a great update that made me take a closer look at it. While it's not much to look at and comes off a little rough in places, the added ideas it brings to the table makes for an entertaining twist on a favorite...

'Dofus Touch' Review - A Great MMO, Now on Mobile

'Dofus Touch' Review - A Great MMO, Now on Mobile

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October 7th, 2016 12:32 PM EST by Andrew Fretz in 5 stars, Free, Massive Multiplayer (MMO), Reviews
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About a year ago I had a sad realization that mobile MMO isn't really a living genre. For better or worse, mobile game development is most effective when creating innovative and elegant gameplay on a flat, straight forward canvas. Unfortunately not much of that is what you expect to see in an mmo. It should come as no surprise that one of the first jolts of life being thrust into the rotting carcass of the genre is about as close to a straight PC port as you could get. Dofus Touch [Free] is out now for iPhone and iPad and outside of some of the most recent updates this game is a carbon copy of the PC version. ..

'Jade Empire: Special Edition' Review - Everybody Was Kung Fu Grinding

As one of the most well-known RPG developers in recent times, Bioware is primarily known for two things: Dungeons & Dragons-style fantasy, and space operas. Back in 2005, as the original Xbox was fading out and the Xbox 360 was on the horizon, Bioware was able to slide a little something different down the line. Jade Empire [$9.99] was a martial arts fantasy action RPG inspired by wuxia films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers. It was the developer's first real foray into incorporating real-time action into the RPG framework that had become known for, a blend that woulds  be revisited with greater success in the Mass Effect series. While it was well-received critically, the game failed to sell anywhere near as well as Bioware's other titles, so the developer went back to the more reliable fantasy/sci-fi salt mines. That's a shame, because Jade Empire is an excellent game with some flaws that could have been buffed out to marvelous effect in a sequel...

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