Category Archives: Ratings

'TrainCrasher' review - Slash 'em up

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January 13th, 2016 1:00 PM EST by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Action, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Universal
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I can't exactly remember what my first beat 'em up was, but I believe it was one of the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games. They're great to play solo for sure, but most of my fun came by way of co-op, mashing away with three (or more) players on an arcade cabinet. There's an awesome sense of comradery there, all focusing on the common goal at once -- something that's very rarely replicated in the gaming world's current online focus. TrainCrasher [Free] might not have co-op, but it's a fun enough recreation of all of those old classics...

'Pocket Mortys' Review - Gotta Sedate 'em All

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January 13th, 2016 11:45 AM EST by Andrew Fretz in 4.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, iPod touch games, Reviews
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Pocket Mortys [Free] got announced last week and I think I literally jumped out of my chair in anticipation of reviewing this game. Now that it's out, it's time to go get it already. Adult Swim Games' most recent offering is really amazing and free to boot so you can try it out right now to see a great Pokemon like game right here on iOS...




Once upon a time, in the long-ago days before mankind knew how to wield fire, you could count the number of Kemco RPGs on the App Store on one hand. Among those early releases, one of the best games was Fantasy Chronicle [$4.99], among the first iOS releases from developer Hit-Point. Unlike their Kemco stablemate EXE-Create, Hit-Point isn't too big on making sequels to their games, preferring to come up with something a little different each time. It's a little surprising, then, to see Fantasy Chronicle get a sequel after several years. If Justice Chronicles [$4.99] is any indication, I think I'd like to see Hit-Point make sequels more often...

'Minecraft: Story Mode' Episode 4 Review - Between 'A Block and a Hard Place' is Not a Great Place to Be

Marriage is a tricky, tricky act, isn't it? Quite often those joined in holy matrimony don't really fit well together, and even when they do, compromises must abound if there is to be any kind of happiness in their new union. And when the marriage is of two very different people, the challenges are even greater. If you've played Minecraft (either the mobile or the PC version) and any of the Telltale games, then you already know why I started my review of Minecraft: Story Mode [$4.99] with these metaphors. When Telltale told the world that it would apply its narrative-based formula on Minecraft, the game that's now synonymous with sandbox, many gamers wondered whether Telltale could pull it off and whether Minecraft players would bother with a developer that put their beloved open-world game in a narrative straight-jacket, possibly chopping off any parts that refused to obey the narrative techniques that Telltale has used in its other series...

Having grown up with a controller in my hand, I've learned quite a few skills by way of video games, ranging from vocabulary enhancements, to motor skills, and even things like geography. One of the more practical things I picked up though is general sports knowledge. In fact, it's where I first learned golf, with my uncle breaking down the specific function of each club, and when to use them.  But the game of golf never really took for me, and to really get into the sport of it, I needed a bit of persuasion, sometimes of the fantastical variety. Enter Kirby's Dream Course on the SNES, with wonderful gimmicks like ball morphing and leaping over pitfalls and other hazards, and I was in. I never thought that 20 years later, I'd be writing about a similar experience on iOS, but here we are with Frank the Dillo [$0.99]...

'Pick-Xell' Review - It's A Dirty Job

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January 7th, 2016 12:03 PM EST by Shaun Musgrave in 3.5 stars, Action, Arcade, Free, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews
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You don't have to look far to find an iOS game about digging. It's an oddly specific activity to have so many games to its name, but whatever the reasons, people seem to enjoy it. Most games of this type encourage the player to take their time and be cautious, which makes sense given the inherent dangers involved. Games with more an arcade bent to them will counter this need for caution with some sort of immediate danger that keeps the player moving. The challenge then becomes moving fast enough to avoid danger while somehow trying not to make any fatal mistakes in spite of your pace. Pick-Xell [Free], the latest release from Japanese publisher Obokaidem, distills that idea down to its very essence...

I've learned a few things from MetaHuman Inc. [$3.99], the latest interactive fiction release from Choice Of Games. First, with a little creativity, the ChoiceScript engine that powers these games can be more mechanically versatile than I thought it was capable of being. Next, I'm a terrible CEO. Just plain awful. Finally, I don't especially like being a CEO, and that ended up being a problem for me because being a CEO is more or less what MetaHuman Inc. is all about. At the start of the game, you are appointed the job of running MetaHuman Inc., a shady company that produces human enhancements through a variety of means legal or otherwise. The job starts in January, and you'll see it through to the end of the calendar year, at which point you'll face a final evaluation by the majority shareholders. If you fail to impress them, your death is certain...

Fantastic Plastic Squad [Free] is a game that punched me in the stomach. I’ve rarely felt so excited and then so disappointed in such a short amount of time. Maybe that’s not fair, but let’s start with the good part: The game has one of the strongest first five minutes of any game I’ve played on iOS. It introduces you to these awesome '80s action figures that walk around in a hilariously stiff way (they are plastic, as the game’s name suggests), and you get to use them to shoot aliens around a giant house! I absolutely love games that take place in ordinary places seen from a miniature perspective--probably because of playing with action figures as a child--and this game nails that feeling. The controls are smart and tight, and I could feel myself getting super pumped while playing through the tutorial. I could tell this would be a game I’d be playing for a long time. But I was wrong...

The thing about visual novels is that it's hard to know what to expect until you actually get into the game. You can look at screenshots, read the description, check the art, and so on, but visual novels live or die based on how well-written and engaging their stories and characters are, and that's something you generally only discover by playing. True Lover's Knot [$6.99] doesn't seem bad from the screenshots, and the description makes it sound a little more interesting than your average romance game, even. The story takes place on a cruise filed with romantic possibilities, and there's a match-3 game that you play here and there to break up the story a bit. The reality is that this game fails in almost every possible way a visual novel could. It's so bad, I ended up laughing my way through the back half of its hour or so running time. Normally, we wouldn't review something of this quality, but there's a small possibility some of our readers might get some pleasure from my suffering, so that's good enough for me...

'CaRRage' Review - Twisted Mobile

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January 5th, 2016 10:11 AM EST by Chris Carter in 4 stars, Action, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Universal
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Car combat is one of my favorite subgenres, despite the fact that it flies under the radar in just about every generation. My first taste was probably Rock 'n' Roll Racing on the SNES, before I graduated to the PlayStation platform, with Twisted Metal and Vigilante 8, among others. There's something exhilarating about racing in a fast-paced environment while explosions are happening all over the screen, especially in some of the more flair-heavy games. While CaRRage [Free] isn't as iconic as the aforementioned titles, it's an incredibly fun way to pass the time on your mobile device...

Off-beat simulation game developer Kairosoft has slowed down their iOS releases considerably in the last couple of years. That was probably a wise move, given how many elements each of their games tends to share with the rest. With new games from the developer coming only a few times a year now, it's easier to appreciate each one of them on their own merits, and it hasn't hurt that their recent releases have demonstrated an effort to break out of the reskinning that categorizes most of their work. The Ramen Sensei [$4.99], their latest iOS release, isn't as innovative as it could be, but its tight focus on its unusual subject matter helps it stand out a little. That said, unless you're really into the subject of ramen, this game is still essentially preaching to the Kairosoft choir...

'Cut the Rope: Magic' Review - I Smell Swipes and Candy

'Cut the Rope: Magic' Review - I Smell Swipes and Candy

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January 4th, 2016 11:00 AM EST by Nathan Reinauer in $0.99, 4.5 stars, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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Angry Birds [$0.99]. There are cartoons, toys, T-shirts, stuffed animals, and even a movie coming soon starring Bill Hader and Peter Dinklage. And you know what? That’s great! Good for Rovio. They made a fun game that connected with lots of people and licenced the crap out of it. For my money, though, I always thought Cut the Rope [$1.99] was a better fit for all that. Om Nom is just a better character, in my opinion. I mean, just look at the way his face drops when that giant round candy misses his mouth! Angry Birds, on the other hand, are… well, they’re angry. Cool. Of course, there is tons of Cut the Rope merch already out there (and apparently a somewhat smaller movie in the works), but it’s nowhere near as much as those darn Birds. It’s a shame, too, because I’ve always thought Cut the Rope was a slightly better game. And in my opinion, Cut the Rope: Magic [$0.99] is the best one yet...

'Gopogo' Review - Hop 'til You Drop

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December 29th, 2015 4:30 PM EST by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Action, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Universal
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The mobile landscape has shifted quite a bit since the introduction of the App Store. In the beginning, the market was flooded with tons of hardcore experiences, meant to cater towards the console and PC gaming crowd. But over time, a lot of those games started to thin out, in favor of garnering massive audiences with casual titles and aggressive IAP "platforms." While there are a lot of gems in either side of the coin, it's nice to get a difficult game ever now and then, which includes the inevitably polarizing Gopogo [Free]...

'Grayout' Review - How Do I Word?

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Neven Mrgan and James Moore's Grayout [$2.99] is a word game, but in a unique sense that it plays with words in ways you might not necessarily expect. You are Alaine, who is suffering from aphasia, a condition that affects communication, which manifests itself in this game as where you have a whole pile of words to respond to messages from the doctors allegedly treating you. You need to form sentences, and it starts out just from having a bunch of different words that are designed to fool you from their slight differences as to how they play out in the sentence, eventually getting to the point where the words become warped, and you have to piece together sentences going through several layers of aphasia-induced difficulty...

Based on a novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033 has quickly become the video gaming world's third-favorite post-nuclear-apocalypse setting, give or take a rank or two. Set in a world where a nuclear war forced Moscow's survivors to live in the underground subway stations that sprawl out under the city, it's a setting ripe with possibilities for games. Ukrainian developer 4A games apparently felt it would make a good first-person shooter, and they proved themselves right in 2010 with the release of Metro 2033 on Xbox 360 and Windows PCs. That game was followed by a sequel called Metro: Last Light, and I'm quite sure we'll be seeing more games coming in that particular series. Russian developer DaSuppa and publisher TapStar Interactive seem to have come away from the book with a different kind of game idea, perhaps figuring that the struggle for resources and sprawling map filled with nodes would make a good strategy game. They weren't wrong. Metro 2033: Wars [$5.99] is awfully rough around the edges, but it's at least worth checking out for patient strategy fans who are looking for a lighter bite...

'Badland 2' Review - The Pursuit of Flappiness

It’s weird how much gaming has changed since I was a kid. In the old days, sequels usually meant a game would be bigger and better in nearly every way, with more levels, characters, new modes, etc. Consider Perfect Dark, the spiritual sequel to Goldeneye 007, for example. It was absolutely bursting with new stuff to do. There was the campaign and multiplayer (like Goldeneye), but it also had a brand new challenge mode, a gun range, a co-op and counter-op campaign mode, a main menu that you could walk around in, and a massive customizable bot mode that I lost a large chunk of my adolescence to. These days, though, things are a bit different. Because games tend to have more content added through updates and DLC, that means version 1.0 of a sequel can often feel a bit lacking. It’s especially striking when you consider iOS classic Badland [$2.99], which is certainly one of the most updated games I can think of. It’s the reverse of my Perfect Dark example, where the original game is the one now bursting with levels and modes while the sequel feels a bit sparse in comparison. It’s an interesting problem to have, but even despite that, I think Badland 2 [$4.99] is a superior game to the original, with the potential to surpass it many times over in terms of quality and amount of content...

It's often said that in game development, ideas are cheap. What that means is that everyone has ideas for games, but actually bringing an idea to the finish line and creating an honest-to-goodness final product requires a lot of hard work and dedication from people with particular skills. I think it's not so much meant to say that a good idea is worth nothing, just that it's easier to come up with a decent idea than it is to actually make it. Good ideas are still an important part of any great game, and every once in a while, someone has an idea so good that it can carry entire games or series. Such is the case with Scribblenauts, previously seen on iOS in the form of the best hits-style Scribblenauts Remix [$0.99]. The game has plenty of rough edges, but the idea behind it is 100% solid gold. More stunningly, developer 5th Cell was able to largely realize that golden idea, and were richly rewarded for their efforts...

I'm so glad that so many old school conventions are still commonplace in this industry. Tons of retro genres are seeing a resurgence, particularly roguelikes and adventure titles, and a lot of them end up on the mobile platform, bringing the meeting of old and new full circle. Tales of a Viking: Episode One [$0.99] has a few fundamental flaws for sure, but it handles grid-based combat with more grace than a lot of its competitors...

I like roguelikes, don't get me wrong. I like the replayability that comes from their procedurally-generated structure, and I enjoy the challenge. I'm having a ton of fun right now with Rust Bucket [Free] from Nitrome, for example. But sometimes I think there's a value that comes from level design, of having an experience that was deliberately designed by someone. Thus, while Into the Dim [Free] looked like a roguelike, and has some of the hallmarks such as the turn-by-turn basis and the bumping into enemies to attack them, the game's fixed nature helps make it stand out among a sea of roguelike dungeon crawlers...

I make a terrible Arthur. It's not something I've had to put much thought into in my life, so I wasn't actually aware of that particular gap in my skillset until I played Pendragon Rising [$3.99], the latest release from prolific interactive fiction publishers Choice Of Games. This adventure sees you guiding a young Arthur (or Arta, if you'd prefer to play a woman) as he returns to Briton from a seven-year stay in Rome. Your parent, the ruler of Gwynedd, is seriously injured in a battle with the leader of the invading Saxons, and the matter of their succession will determine the fate of Gwynedd and Briton itself. There's a rightful heir to the throne, and you technically aren't it, but as is often the case with stories based on the Arthurian legend, things get complicated fairly quickly...

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