Category Archives: Reviews

Tin Man Games has been applying their considerable gamebook know-how to the Fighting Fantasy series for a couple of years now, so far releasing eight of the most popular and noteworthy installments of the franchise. While there are a couple of conspicuous absences remaining, the developer has shown a good eye in its selections thus far. The latest release, Fighting Fantasy: Bloodbones [$5.99], is an interesting choice for a few reasons. This is the first of Tin Man's Fighting Fantasy releases that isn't written by either Ian Livingstone or Steve Jackson, instead being the work of Jonathan Green, one of the writers from the later days of the series. Bloodbones was considered a lost book for several years, as it was initially planned as the 60th entry in the series before publisher Puffin canceled Fighting Fantasy with the 59th book. Like its titular character, death didn't hold it back for long. In 2006, fans could finally put their hands on Bloodbones as the 26th release in the Wizard Books revival of the line...

'Elune Saga' Review - Pretty, Average

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From a Western point of view, it's easy to forget the fact that the mobile gaming market's most successful territories are in Asia, something that informs the behavior of many developers from the region. Just as base- and city-building games sit at the top of the Western top grossing chart, social RPGs are the chief earners in the East. The amount of money made by games like Puzzle & Dragons [Free], Brave Frontier [Free], and Monster Strike [Free] is absurd. It's little wonder, then, that companies like Korean publisher Gamevil are throwing out pitch after pitch trying to get in on some of the spoils of that phenomenon. They're hardly alone, with even the mighty Square Enix appearing almost desperate in their frequent attempts to score a home run...

Combo Quest [$0.99] is a game that infuriates me and tantalizes me simultaneously. Its concept is pretty clever and fun to play with, walking a constant tightrope act to where you have to not screw up in order to succeed against increasingly-steep odds. But the balance of the game's elements feels out of whack, which I think keeps the game from being great, but causes it to remain endlessly fascinating...

'WWE Immortals' Review - Wrestling with Déjà Vu

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Injustice [Free] on mobile. I'm also a huge fan of pro wrestling. So when NetherRealm Studios and Warner Bros., the makers of Injustice, announced a partnership with the WWE to create a new mobile brawler, I got all kinds of excited. The thought of taking the Injustice game and simply plugging in a bunch of WWE wrestlers was enticing. And well, that's pretty much just what they did. WWE Immortals [Free] is basically Injustice: WWE Edition, and while that's not a bad thing by any stretch seeing as Injustice is a proven winning formula, it is somewhat disappointing that there's barely anything substantial to differentiate the games from one another. That said, Immortals is a solid foundation to build upon and it should please fans of both Injustice and the WWE...

Like plenty of folks from my generation, I absolutely adore The Princess Bride. The combination of colorful characters, witty one-liners and an off-beat fairy tale ending have left a lasting effect on many that have enjoyed the film. Unfortunately, fans hoping for some kind of expansion to the universe will be a disappointed with The Princess Bride - The Official Game [$3.99]. However, there’s just enough fan service in the collection of simplistic mini-games that it’s certainly worth buying for any fan of the film...

Gunslugs 2 [$2.99] is a really sloppy game that revels in that fact. It's fast, you might not be able to tell what's going on all the time, and it just feels unrefined. But the game caters to the fact that it's chaotic, and makes for another great run 'n gun from Orangepixel, the veteran iOS solo developer who keeps putting out solid stuff...

'Hero Emblems' Review - A Heroic Match-3 Adventure

As we mentioned in our Game of the Week post, there’s a certain amount of oversaturation that has hit the Match-3 genre on the App Store. Thus, the launch of Hero Emblems [$3.99] was met with some skepticism that it would be yet another Match-3 with nothing to differentiate itself. Thankfully that’s not the case with this gorgeous puzzler. Impressive strategic implications, beautiful visuals, and great RPG mechanics make this title worth checking out...

Now, here's a rare situation. One of the strengths of the gamebook genre is in the sheer variety of situations it covers. Unlike most RPGs, there aren't a lot of expensive assets that need to be built and hopefully reused in future games, since apart from a handful of still pictures, the world is built through text. This frees the writers to tackle any kind of story or setting they want, including superheroes, pirates, horror, fantasy, comedy, and so on. With virtually anything on the table in terms of possibilities, the one type of story we don't see terribly often in gamebooks is a sequel story. Sure, the Fighting Fantasy series had a couple of direct sequels along with some tenuous links between their fantasy stories, most notably in the Sorcery! sub-series, and even the classic Choose Your Own Adventure series had a couple of follow-up books to some of the most popular stories. The Lone Wolf series was notable for allowing you carry your character forward from book to book, though the stories necessarily had to be stand-alone to a great extent...

In the first half of 2014, the hottest trend in war strategy games was the Eastern front of World War 2. We had entries from Hunted Cow, Shenandoah Studio, and Slitherine, all within a fairly short span of time. Slitherine's title, Frontline: Road To Moscow [$2.99], was a slightly more accessible strategy game than their usual fare, and although it lacked the depth that fans of the genre tend to crave, I enjoyed it well enough. The game had a huge variety of units to play with, took terrain conditions into account, and had just enough below the surface to keep me engaged without crushing me. On top of that, the visual designs of the pieces were excellent, the base game included a generous amount of missions, and while it did release in a bit of an Eastern front boom period, the overall scenario was still quite novel for me. In theory, I should be the perfect target for a follow-up...

One of the cooler games in the history of the App Store era of mobile gaming was 1-bit Ninja [$2.99], it being a platformer with a couple of neat twists: you could only move in one direction, generally forward; you could also shift the perspective of the screen to see ahead and to find where obstructions were actually background objects. It was a remarkably clever game, and one that is still fantastic today thanks to its recent update making it work on modern devices. 1-bit Ninja Remix Rush [$1.99] uses many of the same principles as that game, but with a new endless structure, that manages to be a great way to check this out for the first time, or as a way for people familiar with the original to get a fresh experience...

Some developers take a long time between game releases, making each one an often-painful wait between titles. If you're a Nitrome fan, you have no idea what I'm talking about. The pixel art aficionados and creators of Icebreaker [$0.99 / $2.99] have been on an utter tear on mobile in the last few months, with five games since August 2014, and three since December 2014, with the third being Gunbrick [$2.99]. Where Roller Polar [Free] and Platform Panic [Free] were both meant to be smaller arcade-style games, Gunbrick is a more fleshed-out, level-based puzzle-platformer. It's a game that's here and gone, though, being all too brief...

It's possible that I'll never get tired of good "endless" games. Although there's no real goal in sight, earning all of those incremental upgrades to do slightly better after each run is the definition of deviously addicting. Go!Go!Go! Racer [Free] has the addicting part down, but it suffers from the same fate as any heavily monetized game in that the devs have made it difficult to enjoy it without paying up...

Developer EXE Create seems to have their business all sorted out when it comes to putting together an enjoyable JRPG on a Kemco-sized budget. Even at their worst, we end up with something like Infinite Dunamis [$3.99], a solid effort whose chief offense is in its lack of ambition. More typically, however, an EXE Create release will fall among the best of prolific publisher Kemco's mobile catalog. The developer has a particular strength for characterization, casting their adventures with clashing personalities and a hero that shows actual growth. This work is backed by surprisingly strong localizations, resulting in a story that's fun to play through even if the overall plot isn't all that special. In terms of gameplay, they tend to play it safe most of the time, but unlike their stablemates at Kemco, even if they're not strong at a particular design element, they at least turn in a good enough effort that it doesn't detract from what they do well...

There are lots of different reasons that a person might enjoy an RPG, from the story to the battle system to exploration, but I think the one aspect that speaks to just about everyone is seeing numbers go up. It's such an appealing element of RPGs that it's been wholesale lifted by other genres over the last several years to massive success. Some games have even gone as far as to ditch everything else, allowing you to mindlessly tap away to see your numbers go up. Templar Infinite Crusade [$1.99] doesn't go quite that far, but it's certainly in the neighborhood. It looks like the dog's breakfast, it's so random that you'll need as much luck as strategy to survive, and yet, there's a certain basic appeal to the game that might get its hooks into you if you give it a shot...

'Drop Wizard' Review - Here Comes the Drop

I absolutely love Neutronized's pixel art stylings. They added a lot of flair to their previous games Roar Rampage [$0.99] and Lost Yeti [$1.99], though both were darn good games in their own rights. Now they've returned with another pixelly game, and one that pays homage to single-screen arcade classics like Bubble Bobble with Drop Wizard [$1.99]. It's definitely a game that's paying homage to the classics, and feels like it'd be a great fit in an arcade cabinet from 25 years ago or so. But Neutronized don't just rest on their laurels with the retro homage, they actually make a game that's remarkably clever in and of itself...

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