Category Archives: Ratings

Crazy Kings [Free] is a creatively cartoon-y tower defense adventure which documents one hero’s valiant attempt to rally troops and save the world from the siege of the titular raving royals. Along the way, players will reinforce battlefields ranging from towers and arenas to icebergs and (obviously) run-of-the-mill fields from enemy invaders. In exchange for a successful campaign, the player is rewarded up to three pieces of loot (one for each potential Star earned) with the available prizes being some combination of in-game currency known as Gems, Armor for protecting your main hero or Cards for summoning new units. The completion rewards are displayed right at the beginning of the level as an added incentive to try, try again if at first you don’t succeed. There are also a myriad of other distractions along the way that promise new and exciting rewards on a “give it a try, once (or twice) a day” basis without using up any main-story-progressing energy. But don’t get too crazy, energy in Crazy Kings doesn’t come cheap. Each level, whether first run through or reprise, will cost you ten green bottles and since you only start with 50, that means you could be running out of treasonous activities pretty quickly...

'Earthcore: Shattered Elements' Review - A Great and Innovative CCG

When I previewed Tequila Games' Earthcore: Shattered Elements [Free] a bit over a month ago, I talked about how I enjoyed the developers' attempt at making a CCG that moved in a different design direction than the likes of Magic the Gathering and Hearthstone. I liked how they implemented some different ideas that departed from the commonly-used gameplay strategies and tactics while retaining what makes CCGs such an enjoyable genre. Now that I've finally been able to play around with the released version of the game (since it was in soft launch for some time), I'm glad to say that the game meets and exceeds my expectations by providing an intriguing battle system while also offering an abundance of features as well as some of the best, if not the best, multiplayer features I've seen in an iOS CCG. Earthcore's not the perfect game - there are some issues with the menu design and the overall color pallete - but it's pretty close...

'The Last Warlock' Review - A Strife Less Ordinary

Like every genre, turn-based strategy RPGs have a certain common grammar to them. Most decent ones will bring their own ideas to the table, but the core gameplay rarely ventures outside of the well-established rules of the genre. Likely owing to its roots in chess and similar strategy board games, there's a certain rigidness inherent to this particular sub-genre that you might not see in others. While many games try to push against that by trying to offer the player a more free-form experience, balance is generally considered paramount. The more freedom a game gives the player, the harder it's going to be to maintain that balance. The end result is that once you've learned a good set of strategies for one game, that training will often serve you well in many others. It's not necessarily a bad thing, since most of these games are trying to simulate wars. It's not exactly reasonable to expect a commander to eschew time-honored strategies in favor of sending a pegasus-mounted zombie to chuck home-made bombs at a castle...

'Bad Dinos' Review - Yabba Dabba Defense

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May 26th, 2015 12:30 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 3.5 stars, Games, Reviews, Tower Defense, Universal
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I, Nathan Reinauer, have a problem. Buried somewhere deep in my soul, I think I may have known it all along. I’ve tried to blame others, but I’m starting to believe it is, in fact, my fault. Yes, it’s time I face the music and finally admit it to the world: I’m bad at tower defense games...

On-screen controls haters, take notice. If you play Sword of Xolan [$0.99], you'll have to rethink many of your arguments, and we all know how people love to hold on to their opinions. Sword of Xolan is a retro platformer that's just come out and is an entertaining action game with lovely art and strong level design whose only downside is a difficulty curve that often doesn't offer the right kind of challenge at the right moment. While this issue doesn't make the game repetitive, it does detract from the challenge and keeps the game from platforming perfection...

Imagine you’re in a room by yourself. Every so often someone comes by and slips a piece of paper under the door with Chinese characters on it. You don’t know Chinese yourself, but you do have a book that can help. You simply look up the characters in the book and it’ll tell you what should be said back based on the rules of Chinese language and conversation. You don’t actually understand any of what you’re writing, but the person on the other side of the door is convinced they’re conversing with someone who is fluent. This is John Searle's "Chinese Room" thought experiment, and I was reminded of that while playing Sleep Furiously [$2.99] by Playmation Studios...

'Oddwings Escape' Review - Shiny Wings

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May 22nd, 2015 1:45 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 3.5 stars, Free, Racing, Reviews, Runner, Universal
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I wish I could love Oddwings Escape [Free] by Small Giant Games. Don’t get me wrong--I definitely like it. But in order to love something, I need to feel a drive deep in my soul to go back to it over and over, because That Thing is super enjoyable and puts a warm glow in my otherwise darkened husk of a heart. Like pizza and cats. Oddwings is more like… fireworks. I like fireworks. They’re pretty and fine and I’ve been known to enjoy a firework or two when the time is right. But I’m not the sort of person who seeks them out. Maybe you are, though, and that’s fine. And this game is fine. Let’s talk about it...

'Digit & Dash' Review - Domo Arigato, Mr. and Mrs. Roboto

I was recently reading a science fiction novel that featured a central character who argued against the idea that consciousness is a good thing to have. On the surface that sounds absurd, but think about it a little deeper. Computers absolutely demolish us when it comes to things like math and chess, and some of our most creative ideas come when we’re sleeping or thinking of other things. Your brain stem is an incredibly quick chunk of meat, and it could be argued that consciousness just slows it down. Imagine if self-awareness was required to remove your hand from a hot stove, for example. Yikes...

Dragon Blaze [Free], by producers Gamevil and Flint, is as fun as it is aesthetically pleasing. It sports a brightly colored world, intricately detailed backdrops, and characters animated with a puppets-on-a-string feel. The game opens with a pretty generic prologue, the extent of which is relatively unnecessary. The gist of the story is that Deathcrown the “King of the living and the dead,” has returned from banishment with an army of dragons, intent on opposing the humans and their ruler, King Gram. The main character is then tasked with unraveling the true story that lays beneath the war between dragons and humans, including the mysterious death of the princess and a royal plot that is darker than first appears...

Heroes and Castles 2 [$1.99] runs into the problem that trying to bring big-scope, console-style games to mobile often have: these games are often well-made and can be fun to play. But sometimes, they're terrible fits for the actual platform. And that's where my issues with Heroes and Castles 2 lie: the game's good, I just came to dread playing it because it isn't a good fit for the mobile platform...

Kids today are all about Minecraft [$6.99]. Mining this, mining that. Back when I was a young fellow, we had a different kind of 'craft: Lovecraft. Okay, if you're still reading, you're probably strong enough to handle a bit of Lovecraftian gamebook horror. The problem is that up until recently, most of the horror gamebooks on iOS have been focused on zombies, vampires, or other such classic monsters. Tin Man Games has had a couple of promising-looking titles up for a couple of years now, but they were French books without translations, leaving them out of the reach of most English players. Well, it seems like May 2015 is the month where Tin Man is finishing some old business, because in addition to the recent release of Gamebook Adventures 10 [$5.99], they've also finished up an English version of Les Fils d'Uruzime, translated directly as Sons Of Uruzime [$2.99]...

'Viking Remix Madness' Review - To the Beat of a Different Beard

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May 21st, 2015 5:15 PM EDT by Andrew Koziara in 4 stars, Reviews
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Out of all the random cool occupations that people love to pit against each other in hypothetical fights, Vikings are my personal favorite. I like them more than pirates, ninjas, cyborgs, wizards, samurai, zombies, astronauts, and indeed, cavemen. The proclivity of mobile game designers to use Vikings in cute, chibi, horned helmet form despite their historical violence and lack of horned helmets is A-OK in my book. Which brings us to Viking Remix Madness[Free]...

Sometimes, the most simple experience is the best experience. That goes double for the mobile platform, where often times your only method of control is a basic tap motion. Orbits [Free] follows that principle to a tee, and although it can be a tad too simplistic in its presentation, it's definitely worth looking into...

The official iOS release of Kickstarter-funded monster-training RPG- EvoCreo [$0.99] from brand new development company Ilmfinity LLC has finally come to pass. The game features a world that fans of a certain wildly popular Nintendo game will jive with pretty quickly. From its patches of vigorously shaking bushes to the impromptu destruction of random children’s precious pets, EvoCreo might leave you feeling a little nostalgic. ..

Beast Quest [Free] is an action RPG where you explore the fantasy world of Avantia in an attempt to combat a variety of creatures who have been cursed by an evil wizard. Follow Tom, a young warrior tasked with breaking the wizard's curse, and his friends as they slay monsters, collect provisions, hunt for treasure, and navigate a dynamic landscape...

Rebel 1…. Action! Full disclosure up front; if you couldn't tell. I freaking love the BlazBlue games. Not only are they complex, highly competitive fighting games, but they have a genuinely awesome story that is actually the focus. The mastermind of BlazBlue, Toshimichi Mori, has even said his intention was to create an epic fighting game saga with a deep, interesting  story that mattered from game to game, which is pretty much the opposite of the standard. Also, the soundtrack is pure excellence to my taste. Tons of epic Prog Rock/Orchestral hybrids. Very metal. Listen to This song here to get psyched up while I tell you about a brand new iPad exclusive BlazBlue  Collectible Card Game (CCG), BlazBlue: Battle Cards...

'Capitals - Free Word Battle' by NimbleBit Review - Real Game, Really Fun

Capitals [Free] from NimbleBit is their take on a long-running genre: the turn-based multiplayer word game. Thankfully, they manage to deliver a fun and worthwhile take on the genre by making it a simple strategy game that just uses familiar word game mechanics to feel familiar. It's a game that's accessible, but leads to an intense battle between folks. You form words from tiles on a hex grid using Scrabble/Words With Friends [Free] rules, with each tile you play being replaced by another tile. Any tiles you play connected to your color of tile are added to your tiles, and if you capture the enemy capital, you get an extra turn. Wipe out all the enemy territory, and you win!..

Well, I guess I opened a can of worms when I reviewed Hakuoki [$27.99] a while back, because we've received numerous reader requests for more visual novel reviews. Let it never be said that TouchArcade does not aim to please, so even though it's a few months old, I've decided to write up the most commonly-requested title, Queen's Gambit [Free]. This one comes from Voltage Entertainment USA, one of the more popular American developers in the genre, and it follows the adventures of an elite spy working for a private organization dedicated to keeping the world safe. Like most visual novels, you can count on a lot of reading, a little bit of decision-making, and a whole lot of romance...

It would be awfully easy for me to say that if you liked Knights Of Pen & Paper [$4.99], you'll love Knights Of Pen & Paper 2 [$4.99]. When I first started playing the game, I know that's how I felt. If I had called it quits an hour or so in, I might have walked away thinking this was a marginally improved, safe follow-up to the original. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, I stuck it out to the end, and while I think fans of the first will probably enjoy this game and get their money's worth out of it, Knights Of Pen & Paper 2 is in my opinion a step down from the first game in several ways...

The iOS gaming market has demonstrated a lot of interesting things over the years. One of those things is that even with a library containing literally hundreds of thousands of games, there can still be big holes in the lineup waiting to be filled. Even after a hole is plugged, there's no guarantee that it'll stay that way as games are removed from the App store. One of the biggest holes right now, in my opinion, is that of the Diablo-style action-RPG. I see people all over the place looking for a good one for their iOS device. Now, it used to be that you could just direct someone to Gameloft's Dungeon Hunter series and they would probably come away satisfied. The recent turn into free-to-play has turned the series into something that not everyone can get on board with, however, and the older paid installments have been gone for a while now. That leaves us with a gap, and its continued existence certainly isn't for a lack of trying. The latest attempt is The Barbarian [$8.99], which comes from a fairly small developer that appears to be stretching its legs for the first time. Unfortunately, it shows...

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