Category Archives: Reviews

Most puzzle games don't necessarily have an impactful message. I mean sure, some of them encourage critical thinking and educate youngsters, but you usually don't see anything meaningful in your puzzle soup. The Path to Luma [Free] switches that up a bit however, as the entire affair is sponsored by NRG (a clean energy company), and deals with themes such as solar and wind power. Thankfully, the actual game is pretty good, so the message doesn't fall on deaf ears...

'Horizon Chase' Review - What's Old is New Again

Aquiris Game Studio was on a mission with Horizon Chase [$2.99]. They wanted to recreate classic racing games like Outrun, Top Gear, Jaguar XJ220, and others from the late-1980s and early-1990s, even getting the Top Gear composer, Barry Leitch, to create the soundtrack for the game. And oh, did they knock it out of the park. They've created a game that spectacularly recreates the feel of the racing games of 25 years ago, while abandoning the annoying aspects of those games, creating this wonderful hybrid that shows that they managed to create their dream game...




When you sit down to write a review of the mobile port of an older PC game, it can get tricky. As times change, so does the context in which we view different games, and playing the 2004 PC Game Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 (RCT 3) [$4.99] on my iPad and iPhone in 2015 is definitely an interesting, and quite new, experience in itself. Add to that my sense of nostalgia when playing games I used to play back in the day when they came out (although when it came to management games, I was more into the older Theme Hospital than the RollerCoaster Tycoon games), and reviewing a game like RCT 3 becomes an interesting exercise in detachment; I have to make sure I review what I see and play rather than what I remember...

Looking past Mobius Of Magic [$2.99] 's lifting of Final Fantasy's mage designs, there's a somewhat creative idea at its core. Battles play out as duels between magic users, and in this game the best offense is a good defense. You can block most incoming attacks by swiping in the direction it's coming from, and in doing so, not only does it nullify most of the damage, but it also charges up your mana so that you can deliver stronger counter-attacks. Thus, battles are enjoyably fast-paced affairs where you need to pay careful attention to your foe and react quickly and precisely. It makes a valiant go of building a game around that interesting mechanic, but it ultimately doesn't quite manage to take things much farther than what you'll see in the earliest combats...

Do you hate "pay-to-win" free-to-play games? Is the idea of ever spending any chunk of money in a game offensive to the very fiber of your being? Well, you might not like Monsters Ate My Metropolis. [Free] But if you've got a nuanced opinion about free-to-play games, then you might just enjoy Monsters Ate My Metropolis...

Did anybody around here play DrawQuest? It was kind of like Draw Something [Free] but without the pesky game parts getting in the way. Each day you’d be tasked with a new quest (something like “Who crossed the road?” or “Publish a novel”), and you had to make a drawing based on it. You’d earn coins if other users liked your work, and it was incredibly satisfying to craft the perfect picture and have it rewarded with heaps of adoration and fake money. Furthermore, perusing other people’s drawings could be just as much fun (if not more so) than making your own, and the creativity on display could be truly astonishing at times. It was eventually shut down and removed from the App Store when it failed to turn a profit, which unfortunately is not an uncommon tale. The good news, though, is that iOS basically sees an unlimited supply of new games week after week and odds are something else will come along that can scratch the same itch...

'Final Fantasy 7' Review - Square Enix's Classic, With A Few Clouds In The Sky

With the exception of some of Nintendo's Pokemon games, there is no Japanese RPG more famous and high-selling than Final Fantasy 7 [$15.99]. That might be the only non-controversial thing a person could say about the game. It's the JRPG's Star Wars, a game that changed the course of the genre in many ways. It proved there was an audience for RPGs in the Western market, but it was also a bold statement for consoles adopting optical media and perhaps even Sony's entire mission with the PlayStation. Here is the future, its commercials screamed, and though they were pretty deceitful in one way, those commercials helped pave a new road for console gaming's future. For many people it was their first JRPG love, and the passion it drove in its fanbase pushed Square into the limelight worldwide to the extent that they could push a ridiculously-budgeted CG movie into wide theatrical release. It spawned spin-offs, sequels, prequels, and merchandise galore. And now, in 2015, you can play it on the phone you keep in your pocket...

Sling Kong [Free] is a game that I'm highly ambivalent about, for many reasons. I came in hotly anticipating it, because Protostar's Checkpoint Champion [Free] is a game that's practically flawless. Sling Kong uses a slingshot-style system that's close enough to my favorite game mechanic of grappling hooks, such that I found myself absolutely anticipating this one. I finally got my hands on it, and while it's fun, and definitely worth downloading, it's a game that does a few things wrong, though I understand why those decisions were made...

Tactile Wars [Free] had, how shall I put this mildly, a rocky start in life. The game went through what I suppose was a successful soft launch and then got released with plenty of App Store fanfare, grabbing the much-coveted Editor's Choice Award from Apple, an award that can really take a game's revenue into the stratosphere. Unfortunately for the game, the award had pretty much that precise effect, and I say unfortunately because the great influx of players knackered the game's servers to the point where it became literally unplayable. All players would see was a "Connection is Lost" little sign informing them of their current inability to join this online-only game. In a way, Tactile Wars' predicament was reminiscent of that of many recent AAA console and PC games that tried to go online-only (looking at you, Simcity) only to realize soon after launch that servers are fickle little creatures, bound to melt into a puddle when you need them most...

You really can't go wrong with anything cat-related on the internet. At the very least, people will give it a click or a view, and you can move about your life having seen one cuter thing that day. But in Apocalypse Meow: Save the Last Humans [Free], the cats are anything but cute. Instead, they've taken over the entire Earth, and it's up to a squadron of dog fighter pilots to rescue the remaining humans. It's weird, and delightfully so, but thankfully it's backed up by a rather fun shoot 'em up on top of the premise...

'Manowar' Review - Ship For Brains

The term “manowar” can refer to a lot of very different things. It’s a metal band from New York that at various times held the Spinal Tap-esque title of "World’s Loudest Band". It’s the name of a famous horse in the '20s that is considered by several prestigious organizations as the greatest racehorse that ever lived. And my personal favorite: the Portugeuse Man o’ War, a truly bizarre jellyfish-like sea creature made up of a whole colony of smaller animals with one hell of a painful sting. The original meaning of the phrase comes from British warships from centuries past that had tons of cannons and other murder-y things like that, and it’s this definition that the game Manowar [$1.99] by Lachlan Nuttall uses as a jumping off point for a series of maddeningly clever puzzles...

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But in the mobile world, developers are often subject to clones -- where games are almost copied wholesale from the original. Having said that, there are occasions where games may start entire subgenres, like in the case of Angry Birds. Yes, almost everyone knows that Crush the Castle (and the numerous tank titles before that) was "first," but at this point Rovio has refined the formula enough to call it its own. Although we're a bit early in the "Crossy Road" genre, Blocky Raider [Free] does a few unique things that allow it to make a name for itself...

If there is one thing an iPad is definitely great for, it’s digital board and card games. Such games can get a little crowded with the user interface. Especially tactics heavy turn based strategy games in the vein of Space Hulk [$4.99 (HD)] and the Hunters [$4.99] series. Hey! Speaking of those titles, I played a lovely little strategy game recently that is basically their illegitimate love child! It’s called Legions of Steel [$9.99 (HD)], and it offers an extremely diverse array of strategic gameplay exclusive on the iPad...

It's been a couple of months since Kemco's last release on iOS, the mediocre strategy-RPG Legend Of Ixtona [$3.99]. That game was developed by WorldWideSoftware and was if nothing else different from Kemco's usual fare. Interestingly enough, their latest game, Tears Revolude [$3.99], is once again developed by WorldWideSoftware and also a bit different from their norm. Fortunately, it pulls off what it's going for a bit better than Ixtona did, but unfortunately, only a little bit. Still, I'm a little impressed at what the developer has set up here from a technical perspective, and I hope it bodes well for the future...

'Galactic Keep' Review - Keeping Me Up All Night

'Galactic Keep' Review - Keeping Me Up All Night

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August 20th, 2015 2:18 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $3.99, 5 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
$3.99 Buy Now

For some game developers, it's almost a law that a game has to be fun within a certain number of minutes. That was particularly true back in the arcade days, and I suppose things have come full circle because it seems to be especially true now. I think there's a lot of merit to that philosophy, but like any attempt to make a rule like that, it doesn't fit every game. Galactic Keep [$3.99] is not very fun in the first few minutes, perhaps even in the first twenty. It's confusing, it offers little guidance, and it's just sort of frustrating. A player would probably be forgiven for giving up on the whole thing and jumping to something that offers a smoother and more obvious slice of gratification. Let's be honest, there are plenty of games where if the first few minutes are rough, things don't really pull up. But there are also cases where the confusion clears up, the goals start to become more tangible, and frustration melts into a feeling of pure satisfaction. Galactic Keep is one such case...

'Pac-Man 256' Review - Teaching an Old Pac-Man New Tricks

There are people who ask why retro games keep getting developed and iterated upon. We still have the classics, and they're more readily available than ever, so why do we need more of them? In some cases, it might be better to let some franchises die. This feels like a common complaint against the Sonic series, but I think that's more Sega's development teams not knowing what makes a Sonic game good (and loving bottomless pits too much). But interestingly, it's Pac-Man that's showing how a series can iterate and advance decades after its arrival. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX [$4.99] was a recent fantastic example of how to advance and iterate the yellow dot-muncher's familiar maze-based gameplay. Now, Pac-Man 256 [Free] from Crossy Road [Free] developers Hipster Whale, with the help of 3 Sprockets of Cubemen [$0.99 (HD)] fame and Bandai Namco, shows that you can teach an old Pac-Man new tricks. The developers who advanced the Frogger formula into a definitive mobile experience, have done so again with Pac-Man...

'.Decluster Zero - Bullet Nocturne' Review - Oh, Bullet Hell Yes

It's been almost three years since famed bullet-hell shooter developer Cave released their last in-house iOS game in the genre they became well-known for. At the time of the company's restructuring, I was worried about the future of shoot-em-ups on mobile, and I doubt I was the only one. Luckily for mobile gamers, it turned out to be a non-issue, as we've seen several excellent releases in the genre, some of which have arguably been better than even Cave's offerings. One such game is .Decluster - Into The Bullet Hell [$2.99], an out-of-nowhere release from Japanese indie developer Masayuki Ito. It combined a simple but eye-catching visual style with enjoyable scoring mechanics and exciting enemy patterns to create a thrilling take on a well-worn concept...

Deck Builders have really been on the rise in recent years. From the humble beginnings of games like Dominion, now we’ve even got Marvel and Alien deck builders. I’m really partial to this genre myself. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer [Free] is a game I still log into from time to time and it has never left my phone or iPad. I think the appeal of deck builders comes from having every card you’ll need right in the box. You don’t collect or trade cards and meticulously build your own deck before even playing. You and your friends can play right out of the box with a much smaller financial investment. They’re massively approachable. Anyway, the point is, Deck Builders are my jam, and Splendor [$6.99] is a super tasty mixed berry jam that’s won several awards for being so darn tasty...

'Loot & Legends' for iPad Review - Plenty of Loot Awaits In This Funny and Entertaining Game

A few days ago, I wrote a story about how Collectible Card Games are flourishing on mobile devices, with Hearthstone, of course, leading the way. If you haven't read the article, a new report from SuperData Research stated that the portability and popularity of mobile devices have created an excellent environment for digital CCGs. Why have I started a review of Dropforge Games' Loot & Legends [Free (HD)], which from its screenshots looks like a table-top board game, with a discussion about CCGs? Well, maybe the name of Loot & Legends' PC predecessor might give you a clue: Card Hunter, Blue Manchu's 2013 hit that cleverly put a table-top board game of old and a CCG into a blender and out came a game that cleverly injected a deck-building component into your RPG. Loot & Legends continues that tradition, producing a fun digital table-top experience that has CCG mechanics at its core...

Even as they've racked up a few strong successes in the puzzle genre, I'm sure King has realized they would have to branch out at some point to keep their business healthy. Besides a weird trivia game, Paradise Bay [Free] is the Candy Crush giant's first attempt at something outside of the puzzle genre on mobile platforms. Don't get too excited, however, as they've simply moved from one crowded free-to-play favorite to another. Paradise Bay has you building your own little village in a tropical location, producing goods to sell to other players or trade for various resources. It has the polish we've come to expect from King's recent games, but without any interesting new ideas, it's hard to make a strong case for it even if this is your genre/pay model of choice...

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