Category Archives: Ratings

'Wedding Escape' Review - 'Til Match-Three Do We Part

I think that when the world ends and cockroaches roam the Earth in search of Twinkies, there will still be working match-three devices out there. People just can't get enough of the match-three puzzle subgenre (myself included), and even after playing hundreds of them, Wedding Escape [Free] still feels fairly fresh...

'Trulon' Review - Right On, Trulon

Like everyone, I have my own set of personal biases and preferences that I have to work around. I love RPGs, but after years of social games and broken hearts I've come to flinch when I hear anything about a card battle system. I like card games well enough, but when they're used as an RPG concept, they tend to overtake the whole game. That's not to say I've never enjoyed an RPG with a card-based battle system. The Baten Kaitos games on the Gamecube were pretty good, and I certainly enjoyed the somewhat recent Card City Nights [$1.99] from Ludosity. But I'm not going to lie, it dampens my enthusiasm for a game just a little bit when I hear that cards are a major component. Because of that, even though Trulon [$4.99] was coming from a developer whose work I've greatly enjoyed in the past, I was still a bit hesitant as I loaded it up...

Dungeon Link [Free] is a clever game: it combines line-drawing puzzles, where you have to connect different sets of dots with lines that don't intersect, and makes it into an RPG battling system. Characters have different attacks and do more damage the longer their lines are, and the more they run over and by enemies. You can level up, combine, and evolve your characters, just like many free-to-play social RPGs, but the puzzle gameplay is the real hook here. Once auto-battling gets involved and the concept of the game just proves to be something you can just ditch entirely, then a lot of the charm that Dungeon Link first has goes away...

'Kayos' Review - Star Faux

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Over the course of my entire iOS lifetime (which started in 2009), I've probably played a couple hundred runner games. Although I haven't given them an equal time of day, for some reason the genre just doesn't get old, and I can spend at least an afternoon with them as long as they're semi-competent experiences. Kayos [$1.99] is another cool little endless runner based on flight that won't garner your interest long, but enough to make an impact...

'Dungeon of Madness' Review - Pixel Giant Produces a Puzzle Gem

If you know Game Stew, you're probably already enamored with their high innovation to pixel ratio. There is always much fun to be had in their 8 bit styled titles and Dungeon of Madness[$0.99] is no exception. They burst onto the scene strong with 2012's Tower of Fortune[$0.99] and have been carefully extending their visual charm to various game types since then. Game Stew has successfully built a franchise in which they can now deliver various game types under a very solid unifying motif. The one in question today definitely lives up to expectations. Before we get into this game, Lets get some thing straight here. Game Stew is not a huge AAA corporate game dev. They have been an indie dev that has survived for the last 3 years continuously putting out reliably good games. I get that some people don't like the indie dev style, but there is substance under the pixellacious veneer. Like all of the best indie games, gameplay is the front and center attraction and it doesn't disappoint. If you are one to become unduly disturbed that a game may get extra recognition if it has this specific graphic style, worry not, white knight of modern graphics. This game could have been made with ascii characters or with hieroglyphics or cutting edge body movement capture technology. The fun transcends the medium...

Long a staple of the Japanese games industry, romance games have been slowly gaining a bit of a foothold in the west. It seems to have gone hand in hand with the establishment of the visual novel genre outside of Japan, owing to break-out hits like Ace Attorney [Free] and 999 [$4.99]. Like many sub-genres, romance games got their start primarily by targeting men or teenaged boys, offering a wide selection of cute girls with varying personalities for the player to try to woo. Unlike many sub-genres, somewhere along the line publishers got the idea that such games might appeal to the other half of the human race, too. While there are plenty of games for all combinations of gender and orientation in the modern romance game scene, there's no question that the biggest share of the non-explicit market is aimed squarely at women...

'Hearthstone' Blackrock Mountain Adventure Review - The Best Way to Experience this Fantastic CCG

After five weeks of playing, thinking, and writing about Hearthstone's [FreeBlackrock Mountain Adventure (BRM), the fun is over and we are back to playing plain, old Hearthstone. No more Wings to explore, no more crazy bosses to tackle, and, more importantly, no new cards to get. What's done is done though, and now that BRM is over, we can look back and see how Blizzard did in its second attempt at an Adventure after the successful Curse of Naxxramas. If we look at the Adventure as a whole, I believe that Blizzard did a great job thematically, perhaps better than with Naxxramas, as the Dragon-and-Fire themes were represented very well in BRM's various wings. The card rewards were also great, and although they might not revolutionize the meta, I think they'll help turn the RNG down a notch. BRM wasn't perfect, though, and some of the issues that Naxxramas had also surfaced here, especially in terms of the Heroic Bosses and the lack of extra deck slots. But let's not get ahead of ourselves...

I'm generally terrible at roguelikes. What can I say, I'm young and reckless! But I love the genre (and its conventions that inspire other games) because they're highly replayable and demand that I get better at them. When Steam had its recent roguelike sale, I found out that I owned more than half of the games on sale – and bought a few more. So, MicRogue [$1.99] definitely appealed to me, especially as a bite-sized roguelike. And hey, I do love me some pixel art. Thankfully, MicRogue delivers solid, entry-level roguelike gameplay...

Minimalist platformer games have become one of my favorite unlikely genres on mobile devices. Years ago I would have scoffed the idea of running and jumping with precision on a touch-specific control scheme, but at this point, we have MFi controllers and a number of talented developers that make it work regardless. Burn it Down [Free] may not have the former convenience, but it works on multiple levels...

As a longtime fan of gamebooks and interactive fiction in general, I've enjoyed seeing the genre blossom on iOS, especially within the last few years. What's especially great about it is that it hasn't simply been the work of any one developer. The genre is far stronger for having a variety of voices like inkle, Tin Man Games, Forge Reply, and Cubus Games each doing their own thing. A lot of people who probably haven't picked up a physical gamebook since elementary school are enjoying the feast of choices we have available to us on our mobile devices. Each push of boundaries for the genre seems to widen the audience even more. A lot of the recent hits have focused on playing with the presentation or the freedom to move away from the traditional structure adopted from paper books. The monochrome sketches of Lone Wolf [$0.99] coming to life, the simple yet striking imagery of 80 Days [$4.99], the hilarious Kate Beaton sketches of Hamlet and company in Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be [$5.99], or even the rocking soundtrack of Heavy Metal Thunder [$2.99] are all signs of a genre that is casting off the limitations of the past and charging into its own unwritten future...

'The Paris Dossier' Review - Spying in WW2 Paris

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May 1st, 2015 2:00 PM EDT by Tasos Lazarides in $1.99, 3.5 stars, Adventure, Reviews, Universal
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When most think of WW2, they think of grainy black-and-white footage of exploding planes and of exhausted soldiers running to their death. That this is the dominant imagery of WW2 is not surprising, of course, since most of us are drawn to the visual spectacle of explosions and destruction. Yet, there was an even more intense aspect of WW2, one that was in a way a war of individuals rather than armies, and that was the spy-against-spy war whose theater consisted of the cities and villages behind enemy lines. It's in this quiet battlefield that Lexica Games has set its noir-ish adventure game, The Paris Dossier [Free], a relatively-traditional adventure game that is entertaining, especially for those with an interest in cryptography and word puzzles, despite its relative brevity and occasional UI issues...

'Ys Chronicles 1' Review - How Much Is That Dogi In The Window?

In my personal experience, I'm not sure if there's ever been as strong a case of sounding awful on paper but being outstanding in practice as Falcom's action-RPG Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished. I'm actually something of a latecomer to the series, though it was always in my periphery. During the old console wars, there were plenty of ads in game magazines for the SEGA Master System version, and later the TurboGraphx-16 collection of the first two games. It certainly got its fair share of positive press in reviews. In those naive years of my youth, however, I was a one-company boy, and my chosen team was Nintendo. Basically, that means my first experience with the Ys series was with Tonkin House's port of Ys 3: Wanderers From Ys on the Super NES. It was a bit of an odd duck in the series, but I didn't know that at the time. I wouldn't touch another Ys game for more than 20 years...

How many "city building" tap games have you played before? The answer is usually "just one and I hate them" or "five on a daily basis," with very little room in between. Yes, Century City [Free] is another one of those "wait and tap" builders, but it sets itself apart with a few extra mechanics that allow you to play a more active role in your cities' quest for unfettered expansion...

'Does Not Commute' Review - A Sweet Ride

Does Not Commute [Free] is a game that has looked appealing and intriguing since the day I got to see it in motion. Mediocre posted a teaser video of it, then they demoed the game to us at GDChttp://toucharcade.com/2015/03/06/gdc-2015-does-not-commute/, and it was one of my favorites there. The concept was super-fun to play with, and somehow, Does Not Commute got even better from there. The tweaked some of the things from the original GDC version, and made this an absolute must-have...

'Mega Drift' review - Anywhere but Tokyo

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Cool cars, a rad '90s racer aesthetic, and a free price point -- what could go wrong with Mega Drift [Free]? Despite the on-paper looks, it's the pacing that wounds the beast. As you can probably guess, you'll be drifting a lot with Chillingo's latest foray into the iOS marketplace. ..

Spirit Lords [Free] from Kabam is their twist on the popular free-to-play hack 'n slash genre. Daniel Erickson, lead designer on Star Wars: The Old Republic and Phil Shenk, lead character artist on Diablo 2, played significant roles in the creation of this game. Additionally, Kabam wanted this to be what they term "white hat" free-to-play, where you can earn all loot through normal gameplay. What they've made is a solid action-RPG, with good touch controls, and a monetization system that can provide hours of play at no cost, but demands lots of grinding to be powerful...

Developer Jujubee is probably most famous in the iOS scene for the Flashout series, their entry into the high-speed futuristic racing sub-genre. They're stylish games that don't venture all that far from the template, and at least at the time of the respective releases of each, satisfied a relatively underserved niche in the mobile gaming scene. Their latest effort wades into more populated waters, the RPG genre. Spellcrafter: The Path Of Magic [$2.99] is an odd hybrid. The battles play out like a light strategy RPG, but the parts between fights allow you to wander around like a more standard top-down RPG. Even more strangely, the game has a level-based setup, with three different playable heroes each getting three stages. Everything is okay on paper, but it just doesn't come together well at all...

'Rex Rocket' For iPad Review - Mega Man Meets Metroidvania In This Excellent Action Adventure

If there's one thing I should have learned after being into video games for as long as I have, it's that nature abhors a vacuum. Even after watching countless genres swing out of and back into fashion over time, I still sometimes find myself lamenting the lack of games of a certain type during the quiet periods. After seeing Castlevania leave the hands of Koji Igarashi and Nintendo seemingly giving up on Metroid for the moment after the disappointing reception to Other M, I grumbled about the seemingly dim future of the Metroidvania sub-genre. Looking around today, I clearly needn't have worried. After all, there are more people making games than ever, and more games being released than ever, so any holes left by the big players are likely to get filled by smaller developers looking for a niche. Especially so if said hole is a genre near and dear to the hearts of many gamers-turned-developers, the way Metroidvanias seem to be...

I am definitely a formalist when it comes to video games. I don't think that games without structure or failure conditions are any less valuable as interactive works or as artistic achievements. I just enjoy my time with clickers more than I do, say, The Sailor's Dream [$3.99]. I like structure and progression, having a goal to attain. It motivates me to play, and when I no longer care about the goal, that will get me to stop playing. Simple as that. ..

There's no doubt in my mind that Devious Dungeon 2 [$0.99] makes some worthwhile improvements over the original game. Most of them are things that people directly asked for, even. In the end, though, it can't quite escape that feeling of repetitiveness that permeates the titles released by Ravenous Games. It's absolutely worth its price, and it's as engaging as any of the coin-grinders they've put out, but like most of their output from the last few years, it feels like all of the edges have been sanded off to make the safest, most widely-appealing product possible. Is that a bad thing? I guess it depends on what you're looking for out of it...

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