Category Archives: Reviews

The Kingdom Rush [$0.99 / $2.99 (HD)] series has been one of the most popular tower defense franchises out there, and it's thanks in part to its introduction of action and RTS elements with the summonable reinforcements, and the hero units that can be sent across the battlefield to help take care of any threats. It gives this genre a fresh feel, and not just about sitting back and watching towers annihilate enemy creeps. Now Ironhide Games continues the franchise with Kingdom Rush Origins [$2.99 / $4.99 (HD)], a game that iterates on the formula that previous entries established. It's still a solid game, but it's pretty clear at this point that it's a series just for fans of it, and I failed to find any reason for newcomers to particularly jump in to this entry in particular...

The whole series of events leading up to Marvel Contest Of Champions [Free] is pretty weird if you think about it too much. It's a clear reply to the mobile version of Injustice: God Among Us [Free], whose console version's inception likely sprang out of Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe, which certainly only existed because of Marvel Vs. Capcom. That's Marvel and DC for you, friends. They bite each other's tails so often it's sometimes hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Well, I just thought that was interesting. Truth be told, I'm glad something like Contest Of Champions came about. While Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 is ideally better than Injustice, trying to play it on a touch screen stripped away a lot of its merits, and the game was removed from the App Store even if you wanted to play it. Injustice, on the other hand, found a winning combination with its collection elements and extremely simplified take on the fighting genre. It only makes sense to have a Marvel version, and that's basically what you get in Contest Of Champions...

I don't think a person needed to be a fortune-teller to see this outcome, but going back to my review of Tomb Raider 1 [$0.99] from last year, I ended it by expressing little hope for a potential port of Tomb Raider 2 [$1.99] fixing the control issues with the first game. It wasn't hard to guess because the problem is neither with the unorthodox and somewhat fussy controls of the Tomb Raider series, nor was it with virtual controls, but rather the marriage of the two that the mobile version offered. There's simply no clear way to map virtual controls to these games in a satisfying way. Tomb Raider 2 only makes that problem clearer with its increased challenge and greater emphasis on pulling off non-stop sequences of moves, particularly in timed situations. It's the kind of situation where I don't feel good about giving it a score, because if you have an MFi controller, this game is an incredible experience at a ridiculously low price, but if you don't, it's just about pointless to buy. Consider the number at the end of this review to be the middle of those two scenarios and apply it to your own situation accordingly...

'Brother in Arms 3: Sons of War' Review - A Freemium Sibling

As we mentioned earlier this month when we posted the teaser trailer, Gameloft’s Brother in Arms 3: Sons of War [Free] has been a long time coming. Announced in June of 2013, we took it for a spin back in E3 2013 and enjoyed the big changes to the series - namely the transition from a traditional shooter to one that was mostly a cover-based on-rails affair. Fast forward nearly a year and a half later and Sons of War is significantly different than when last we played it. For folks hoping for a significant shift in the series direction, Sons of War may disappoint as it goes back to its traditional roots, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing...

You don't win the tutorial mission in BattleLore: Command [$9.99]. I found that kind of interesting, and in a way, it sets the pace for this strategy board game adaptation. While many strategy games like to puff you up with some early victories before pulling out the Customer Service Bat, this one teaches you the basics of how to play in a couple of turns and then almost immediately comes at you virtually as hard as it ever will. It's a real sink or swim situation, but if you've got the wits and patience to see it through, you'll find a game with a very rewarding core that suffers a bit from its overall lack of options...

'Tales from the Borderlands' Review - Less Loot, More Talk

The idea of Tales from the Borderlands [$4.99] was certainly an intriguing one once it was announced. The Borderlands series definitely has a unique feel to it from its setting, dialogue, and characters that can be easily screwed up by a developer not quite in tune with the way the series operates. The good news is that Telltale Games are experts at story, so the idea that they could approach and do justice to this universe while also expanding on it in a way that isn't just a loot-filled first-person shooter is an interesting proposition...

I don't think I'll ever be accused of being stingy with my words, but if I were to wrap this entire review up into a short summary, here it goes. If you enjoyed Record Of Agarest War [$14.99]'s seventy-something hour campaign, spent dozens of hours more to fully complete everything, and still find yourself wanting another full-sized game offering a similar experience, you should buy Record Of Agarest War Zero [$14.99]. That's essentially the only scenario where I can see recommending this latest release from HyperDevBox, because just about everyone else with an interest in the Agarest series ought to be starting with the first game anyway. Agarest Zero tells a new story with new characters, but the underlying gameplay offers virtually little of note over its predecessor and actually streamlines a few things out that I'm not sure needed to be ditched...

Tower Of Fortune [Free] developer Game Stew is a hard developer for me to get a read on. I mean, I think if you look hard enough you can find a designer's fingerprints all over just about any game, but you don't even have to do that with Game Stew. Their games are instantly recognizable thanks to their consistent, unusual presentation style. If you do choose to look a bit harder, you can see that also carries over to the gameplay, even if some of their games are ostensibly in different genres from each other entirely. It's interesting because even though their games are generally quite unique from almost every angle, once you understand Game Stew's way of doing things, you can reliably count on certain elements being present. Specifically, you're probably going to have quite a few trappings of the roguelike genre. Being predictably off-beat certainly isn't a bad thing. Tim Burton doesn't seem to be suffering for it, at least. The big problem with having that kind of reputation is that you need to keep coming up with ways to keep your audience's thirst for oddity quenched...

'Papers, Please' for iPad Review - A Must-Play Storytelling Experience

Papers, Please [$7.99 (HD)] is a weird game, as it's incredibly difficult to succinctly describe in a way that makes it sound even vaguely fun. Developer Lucas Pope (Of Helsing's Fire [$0.99] fame!) manages to turn pedantry and tedium into gameplay elements and in the process crafts an experience that will likely be among the most memorable games you've played this year. It's been out on the PC for about a year now, but much like FTL [$9.99 (HD)], it always felt like Papers, Please truly belonged on the iPad...

'Bean Dreams' Review - Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

Holy heck, does Bean Dreams [$2.99] knock it out of the park. The first Bean's Quest [$2.99] game from Kumobius was a solid game, with inventive ways to approach platforming on a touchscreen-based device. But after they applied their time-traveling take on Tiny Wings [$0.99 / $2.99 (HD)] with Time Surfer [$0.99], and gave the challenging arcade game genre an artsy twist with Duet [$2.99], now they return to their original game. And it's clear that the studio has picked up on a lot of lessons from the past few years, as Bean Dreams is possibly Kumobius' best game yet, streamlining the original's concept into a tight and concise experience that they can only further build on and make better...

Proun+ [$1.99] is a game that probably should have been on iOS a long time ago. It makes too much sense, the tube racing, with its simple controls that are perfect for taps or tilts, its quick races, they all make for the ideal iOS game. That this is a port from PC to iOS just feels like it's something well overdue. Proun+ is a tube-racing game, which I previewed last month. There's some utterly brilliant aspects to this one, but also some things that make me curious about, to see if there's not a way this game could have been structured any better...

'Seabeard' Review - A Whole New (Freemium) World

After many months of coverage, a soft-launch and a hands-on preview, Seabeard [Free] is finally upon us. When a game gets this much coverage and hype, it’s typically hard for it to satisfy all expectations. This seems to be even more true whenever a game relies on freemium mechanism as a way to monetize. After spending a great deal of time within the game, I’m happy to report that I don’t believe Seabeard is a victim of its own hype but I do think that its freemium system will probably alienate some of its potential player base...

'Dragon Quest 3' Review - The Stuff Of Legends

This is the fifth Dragon Quest game I've reviewed in 2014, and by now I'm sure I've hammered in the significance of this series to the JRPG genre, if nothing else. After starting the year with Dragon Quest 8 [$12.99], one of the more recent and certainly the most technologically advanced installments in the series, we took an odd side path to Dragon Quest 4 [$14.99] before heading back to the beginning of the series. I'm a firm believer that Dragon Quest games are like pie in that there's no bad one, but the first two games require a certain understanding of the context in which they were released to fully enjoy them. They're very much formative works of the genre, and as such have all kinds of prickly bits and loose ends hanging off of them. Dragon Quest 3 [$9.99] is where that proviso can be safely removed...

'Game of Thrones - a Telltale Game Series' Review - There Is Only One Thing We Say to Death

We've been huge fans of Telltale games around here since the massive shift that was the release of The Walking Dead. The quality of their games continued through The Walking Dead - Season 2, The Wolf Among Us and Tales from the Borderlands which is available on Steam but has yet to hit iOS. The contrast between these recent titles and their previous games like Jurassic Park is just incredible to behold, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Game of Thrones - A Telltale Game Series [$4.99] falls in line with modern Telltale releases instead of, well, their previous works...

'Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath' Review - You're Looking Mighty Good, Stranger

The story of the Oddworld Inhabitants themselves is almost as interesting as that of any of their games. Founded by Hollywood veterans to take advantage of the correctly-predicted boom that 3D graphics would bring, the company had a clear, ambitious plan for a series of five games that took place in their Oddworld universe. A new team planning for that many games before they've even finished one is the game development equivalent of a rookie stepping up to the plate and pointing at the stands, but when Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee released, it seemed like the Oddworld Inhabitants weren't bluffing. The game was a massive hit, and the lead character Abe become something of a cult icon in the 32-bit era. It was followed by an initially unplanned direct sequel, Abe's Exoddus, which was meant to help fill the gap while everyone waited for the next chapter of the quintology...

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