Category Archives: Reviews

'Monster Strike' Review - Billiards And Dragons

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November 3rd, 2014 2:00 PM EST by Shaun Musgrave in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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I've written many words about games that sought to bump Gungho's Puzzle And Dragons [Free] from its lofty perch high atop the Japanese App Store, though only one, Terra Battle [Free], managed to top it in quality and none have been able to beat it in the charts. Well, the king appears to be dead, and the perpetrator is none other than Monster Strike [Free], another game from a big Japanese company, albeit not a company traditionally associated with games. Instead, it's brought to us by Mixi, sort of Japan's answer to Facebook before the latter rode in to grab its market share. Don't worry, though, because there's some real industry talent behind this game and it shows. Monster Strike has dealt a powerful blow to Puzzle And Dragons, and it hasn't come by that through luck...

I don't get that many chances to express my affection for pinball around here, mostly because the two main pinball developers tend to publish their new work as IAPs rather than stand-alone apps, and we don't typically review that kind of thing around here. Let it be known, however, that I love pinball to its core. I love it like Joanie loves Chachi. I used to have an off-brand pinball machine in my basement back home in Canada, and whenever I went to arcades as a kid, I was instantly drawn to the noisy clicks, bells, and synthesized music emitting from whichever licensed machine they had that month. Although it took me a while, I've also developed a taste for video pinball, though like most fans, that's out of compromise more than anything else, since finding an actual pinball machine in this day and age is hard enough in the USA, let alone Japan. It goes without saying that I am both a big fan of Pinball Arcade [$0.99] developer Farsight Studios, and a harsh critic. I regret that today, I am going to be more the latter...

'Puzzle to the Center of the Earth' Review - Miner Match-Thirty-Niner

There still aren't enough mining games out there in the world. Despite the resurgence of the genre on the mobile platform and recent mainstream hits like Steamworld Dig, I could probably play a new mining game every week without getting bored. There's something about digging down into the great unknown that fills a void many other titles can't, and Puzzle to the Center of the Earth [Free] manages to keep the core facets of the genre intact, while adding in some unique puzzle elements...

Drift'n'Drive [$1.99] is quite the fun chaotic top-down racing game. I was intrigued by the game when I saw a GIF of it in action with a whopping 32-car field, and it looked like something I had to play. And it lived up to my expectations. It's very much an arcade-like experience. The cars auto-accelerate, and have tires with low grip, making them drift-happy, and providing for a very chaotic game. And the only controls are left and right to steer, with a turbo boost that charges up over time. Helping with the chaos is the fact that the courses are generated randomly in the career mode, so it's about reacting to what might be coming up next and trying to stay on the road. Grass and dirt slow the car down, hitting trees and walls causes damage to the car, and it's possible to lose a wheel, which makes steering more difficult, until both front wheels are gone, and the vehicle is just straight-up wrecked...

Veteran Developer Hero Craft is bringing the Sons of Russ straight to your face with WarHammer 40k: Space Wolf[Free]. This visual stunner brings the table top classic to life in a squad based strategy card skirmish with the low low entry fee of nothing. If it sounds too good to be true, well there are some twists on the road to destroying the xeno threat. This game has some truly fantastic features intermingled with some pretty big roadblocks. If you can suspend your disbelief (and maybe an upturned wallet), you'll find a pretty solid game here. Available exclusively for iPad 3 or higher, iPhone 5 or higher and requiring an internet connection, the game is a little less accessible than most universal apps. With gameplay very similar to the PSP's Metal Gear Acid, I was really excited to get into what promised to be a tactically deep strategy game...

Super Crate Box [$1.99] has definitely spawned a few games inspired by it, to say the least, though games cutting too close has been a sensitive subject. But the game owes a lot to the original Mario Bros. in terms of structure, and Woah Dave [$1.99] from Choice Provisions, the former Gaijin Games, manages to take more after Nintendo's original than Vlambeer's modern. And it does a great job at making its own blend of challenging survival and situation management that I quite enjoyed...

Let's be frank, video games based on team sports aren't known for revolutions between updates. That reputation was mostly earned by them being among the first types of games to adopt a yearly release schedule. As it turns out, games take a lot of work to make, and if you're committed to meeting a particular date every year, there's only so much you can risk upheaving. Given this long-held tradition in the genre, I almost instinctively wasn't surprised to find that NHL 2K [$7.99] is, shall we say, a modest step forward from the last hockey game 2K released on iOS. Shaking away that initial gut reaction, I then remember that this isn't a yearly update, and it has in fact been over four years since NHL 2K11, and in that context, it's almost embarrassing how little has been done here. If you're looking for a decent hockey game and you don't have NHL 2K11, it's easy enough to recommend NHL 2K. It's competent, and there's honestly little competition even across the entire handheld spectrum. If you do have 2K11, the question of whether it's worth it gets a bit trickier...

If you loved Final Fantasy Tactics [$13.99 / $15.99 (HD)] but thought it would be better if all of the characters were anime girls, then Japanese indie SRPG Rime Berta [$4.99] may have caught your eye. It's a clear tip of the hat to games like the aforementioned, and in a lot of ways does a very competent job of aping its overall presentation and many of its systems. It's a bit lean on content, which is perhaps understandable given the size of the developer, but its biggest failings are in the fundamentals. It's a serious problem when there are quite a few excellent strategy RPGs on the App Store that, even if nothing else, manage to nail those aspects. In the end, Rime Berta is all dressed up with no place to go...

'Sleep Attack TD' Review - Just a Microphone Short of a Beck Song

If you think you're all Tower Defense'd out, be prepared for the tables to turn. Ayopa Games have set their sights on a time honored genre that is, to be honest, usually pretty outdated. Sleep Attack TD[$2.99] is their first foray into tower defense. Our forums have been buzzing about this game for good reason. With the bright asthetic Ayopa is known for and some very unique gameplay, Sleep Attack brings some much needed defibrillation to a category of games that seems to be in constant danger of completely flat lining...

'Super Glyph Quest' Review - Bigger And Better Than Before

Earlier this year, a cute little puzzle RPG named Glyph Quest [Free] was released. It was one of those games that was pretty hard to put down until it was finished, but it was unfortunately also one of those games that finished a bit too quickly. The game used the shareware-style model of being free to download and play up until a certain level, at which point you could pay to unlock the rest of the game. That's a great way to do things, but it hid one of the game's most interesting gameplay features behind that paywall, so I think a lot of people ended up sleeping on it. Well, the developer's back to take another kick at the can with Super Glyph Quest [$2.99], a sort of-sequel that keeps the same great core of the original while simultaneously attempting to address most of its faults. Depending on what your particular issues were with the first game, there's a good chance you'll find this version of the game to be good enough to kick the original off of your device for good...

'Tilt to Live: Gauntlet's Revenge' Review: And I'm Dead Again

Sure, sometimes developers can give reasons for why they want to charge more money for something that are utter poppycock. Granted, I've known One Man Left since 2010, and I take them at their word that Tilt to Live: Gauntlet's Revenge [$2.99] was becoming too big and too separate to be just an add-on to Tilt to Live 2 [$2.99]. But in playing it, I think the position is really quite justified. This is pretty much its own game, only filtered through Tilt to Live's aesthetics and controls. And it winds up being this challenging gauntlet that's well worth checking out...

'Ghost Blade' Review - Something Wicked This Way Comes

If you asked me a couple of months ago to make a list of game types that were highly unlikely to ever be realized in a satisfying way on a touchscreen, I can guarantee that stylish action games would be on the short list. The sub-genre launched when wunderkind director Hideki Kamiya sat down to make another Resident Evil game, decided that it would be more fun if every attack felt as good as doing a headshot with a shotgun, and ended up creating Devil May Cry. One game does not a sub-genre make, but once Tomonobu Itagaki created his masterpiece re-imagining of Ninja Gaiden, we were off to the races. It's not the most prolific genre, probably because it's so hard to do right, but it's seen its share of hits including the mainstream-friendly God of War series, the campy and cool Bayonetta, and the amazing parry-focused Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. These games are usually characterized by their highly-technical, deep combat, where players are graded according to how well they can dance to the game's beat. This usually involves a lot of different buttons, and we all know how well that usually works out on a touchscreen...

'Skater' Review - Two Shoes and a Board

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October 24th, 2014 4:00 PM EST by Chris Carter in $4.99, 3.5 stars, Game Center, Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation, Sports
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Skating games were my life for months at a time. Whether it was the next Tony Hawk iteration or EA's SKATE, every time a shiny new skating title would hit my doorstep, I'd be engrossed in that world for weeks on end. I wasn't the best skater in the real world, but digitally I was a pro, ready to ride with the best of them. That feeling has been missing for quite a while now after both franchises have been put on hold, but Skater [$4.99] for iOS recreates some of that magic on the go...

PikPok’s no stranger to making fun games (see the recently released Adventure Xpress [Free]) and with its latest release, the developer has decided to take on the card battler genre. Rival Stars Basketball [Free] takes a simplified card battle formula and infuses it with street basketball style. Rival Stars doesn’t have any significant missteps, but it’s just a bit too shallow in its current state to be anything more than a quick play...

It's really great when a well-made game seemingly comes out of nowhere, and that's just what seems to have happened with the stealthy release of Princess And Knight [$2.99], a new strategy RPG that is so under the radar, I can't find much proof of its existence beyond the App Store itself and a fairly new blog for the developer, Team SoftIceCream. Sometimes when that happens, it's because the game isn't quite ready for prime time, but apart from a really rough English translation, this is a remarkably solid effort from what appears to be an indie developer. The game design is unabashedly vintage, calling to mind SRPGs from the 16-bit console era and earlier, but there's a certain appeal to a game that drops out of the complexity arms race that the strategy RPG genre tends to get swept up in at times...

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