Category Archives: Reviews

'ALONE' Review - Forever Alone

With all the gimmicks endless runners tend to have bolted on them these days, it's sometimes easy to forget that it all started with just a simple score attack. No IAPs, no coins, no cosmetic upgrades, no power-ups, just an endless, increasingly difficult, randomized stage and a challenge to see how far you can go before inevitably failing. That's not to say gimmicks are bad, as they can be quite a lot of fun. Just look at Jetpack Joyride [Free], which is so loaded with stuff you could almost forget about the goal of going farther in favor of collecting things and still have tons of fun. There's something about that pure experience, however. It's something I greatly appreciated in Boson X [$2.99], and it's something I very much enjoy here in ALONE [$1.99]...

The genre label 'Metroidvania' is a combination of Metroid and Castlevania, referring to just about any Metroid game and the post-Symphony of the Night Castlevania games largely overseen by Koji Igarashi. The genre itself, though, stretches back pretty far, and there's at least one series concurrent to Metroid and well before Symphony that hasn't really gotten its due in the grand history of things. I'm referring to Westone's Monster World series, which spun of out the action-oriented Wonder Boy, got a lot of confusing localizations and revisions, and sadly bowed out after the 16-bit console generation. It's a great series that had a lot of clear influence on later titles such as Shantae [$2.99], but seems to get little credit for its contributions to the genre. With that in mind, I am not going to call Ninja Smasher [$1.99] a Metroidvania. It's a non-linear action game with a big, interconnected map where you find new abilities to open up new routes, but at least in my estimation, this game is taking notes less from Metroid or Igarashi's Castlevania and more from Westone's colorful, cartoonish adventures...

It's been a long trek from student project to full blown game concept and beyond, but Bedtime Digital Games has finally released their collaborative creation, Back to Bed[$3.99] . Arriving on iOS just a few weeks after it's steam release, this beauty is here to entice you with a graphical pedigree rarely seen on a mobile game. Even though the lionshare of intellectual stimulation offered by the game is by way of art appreciation, there is not much to get in your way as you take in the sights offered up by this title...

Having just finished my review of the final episode of The Walking Dead Season Two [$4.99], I thought it might be nice to decompress with a little pinball, as I often do after finishing a story-heavy game. Luckily for me, the developers behind Zen Pinball [Free] just released a thematically-appropriate new table as both a standalone app and an in-app purchase within the regular app. The Walking Dead Pinball [$1.99] follows most of the well-established trappings of Zen Studios's take on silverball, so it's hard to say if people burnt out on their offerings will be all that excited with it. For fans of The Walking Dead game, however, it brings just enough of the character of Season One [Free] to make it worth checking out...

'Dodo Master' Review - Classic Platforming isn't Extinct

I don't usually find myself speechless after playing an iOS game, but Dodo Master [$0.99 / $0.99 (HD)] has given me pause. The game is so carefully crafted, and so well planned, and so well tested that I want to be certain that each word I write about it is equally well thought out. My completely uninformed guess is that Samir Selah comes from a long line of watch makers. Every bit and piece of this game fits perfectly together in a well paced harmony. With his debut iOS release he has struck gold, now its just up to us to go pick it up...

You might recall that with The Walking Dead: Season One [Free], we did something of an unorthodox review due to the episodic nature of the game. There was a basic overview that was appended to with a review of each episode as they released, with the score adjusting appropriately. As it worked pretty well last time, we'll be doing the same thing here. I'll do my best to avoid any serious spoilers for the current season, but I'm going to talk frankly about the first season, so if you haven't finished it yet, consider yourself warned about possible spoilers...

'Appointment With F.E.A.R.' Review - My New Favorite Superhero Is Tin Man

If you ever need proof that competition is healthy for the customer, just check out the gamebook scene on mobiles. What started as simple conversions of the text of existing books has spun out into three developers each, in their own way, trying to combine the essence of classic gamebooks with the flexibility that modern technology allows. It started with Tin Man Games essentially giving you the keys to the game via a bunch of extra features, followed by inkle's brilliant adaptation of Steve Jackson's Sorcery! [$4.99] and Forge Reply's original RPG adventure based on the popular Lone Wolf [$0.99] character. Then, in April, Tin Man released their version of Starship Traveller [$5.99], where for the first time, the developer didn't simply bring the original book over with some bells and whistles, but elaborated on it. Recently, inkle again upped the ante with their stunning take on Jules Verne's classic novel, 80 Days [$4.99], and now we've got Tin Man replying in kind with what is clearly their most confident conversion yet, Appointment With F.E.A.R. [$2.99]...

'Almightree: The Last Dreamer' Review - An Excellent Puzzle Platformer

Nearly a year since we’ve last seen or heard from it, Crescent Moon Games’ Almightree: The Last Dreamer [$1.99] made some waves back then with aspirations of being a “Zelda-inspired” 3D puzzle game. As far as actual execution is concerned, there isn’t much here in terms of Zelda-inspiration anymore, but what we’re left yet is an impressive 3D puzzle platformer. In fact, it’s one of the better 3D puzzlers I’ve played this year, and should be on everyone’s list to check out...

Warbot Assault [Free] is yet another Kongregate-published free-to-play game. The concept is certainly an exciting one: players outfit a giant robot and an army of vehicles, and take them into battle against other armies of vehicles, and another giant robot. These opponents are all based on other players' loadouts, so not only is it possible to punch a giant robot to death, it's possible to punch a giant robot to death, and have someone in the world know that it was their giant robot that got punched to death by you. Unfortunately, that's it for the game. It does little to add much variety beyond "punch giant robots in the face."..

I always love to see a game that doesn't take itself too seriously. If it also happens to be genuinely funny at times, that's even better. Ace Ferrara And The Dino Menace [$3.99] packs in enough self-awareness, charm, and humor, it's easy to forgive some of the failings in its gameplay. It's a space shooter that feels a lot like a Saturday morning cartoon, with a colorful cast of characters, a goofy plot to take over Earth, and plenty of action. The gameplay also feels like it's tuned for a younger crowd, with short, easy to clear missions and very simple controls. Veteran starfighters looking for their next battle probably won't be satisified, at the very least. As a fun little popcorn experience, however, Ace Ferrara has a lot going for it...

'Motorsport Manager' Review - Formula Racing for the Masses

When I sat down to try Motorsport Manager [$4.99], I thought it would be the perfect thing to poke at while listening to a podcast. After all, I wouldn’t be expected to drive the cars; I’d be running the biz and laying out the race strategy. A half-hour in, I realized I hadn’t absorbed a word, because I was so fully engaged in growing my fledgeling racing empire and watching my drivers tear up the track. It’s never overwhelming, nor is it too light to maintain interest. Motorsport Manager finds a nice spot in the complexity spectrum wherein it requires frequent decision-making, without ever inducing paralysis by presenting too many options simultaneously...

Nitrome's 8bit Doves [$2.99] is a game that will try the patience of players. It has challenging physics to contend with, but is also structured in a way that really impedes the replay value of this challenging action game. The goal is to control a flying hero through dreamscape levels, turning clockwise and counterclockwise to control him through the skies, contending with trying not to crash into the walls or other occasional moving hazards. As well, doves fill the levels: collecting these is an objective tracked by the game, but not inherently necessary to completion. Flying in the general vicinity of the doves is all that's necessary to collect them, a fine concession from a game that is difficult to control...

'Tiny Tower Vegas' Review - A Freemium Jackpot

NimbleBit has shown success across a variety of free-to-play titles, but Tiny Tower [Free] seems to take the cake as far as popularity is concerned. When Tiny Death Star [Free] came out last year, NimbleBit’s formula saw some nice improvements but overall we were left with mostly a sprite refresh with some heavy handed IAP incorporated on top of the base gameplay. With the launch of Tiny Tower Vegas [Free], NimbeBit has retaken the reigns back from Disney Mobile and has made what I consider to be the true sequel to its tower building title. Suffice to say, the mini-game improvements combined with a return to the more friendlier NimbleBit IAP approach makes for another awesome F2P from the developer...

I've played a lot of free-to-play RPGs, and they all tend to have the same strengths and weaknesses. That's probably due to most of them being inspired by the model used in the popular Puzzle & Dragons [Free], following its formula as closely as possible in hopes of achieving similar levels of success. Now, I like that game quite a bit, but even I'm getting a little tired of getting into a new game only to see the same old mechanics powering it. There must be other effective ways to monetize your puzzle RPG besides monster-collecting and stamina meters. Spellfall: Puzzle RPG [Free] takes a different approach, avoiding many typical elements such as multiple currencies, drawing random monsters, and nudging you to expand your inventory. Unfortunately, the game also has its own take on the stamina meter concept that seems on paper like it would be better, but in practice doesn't quite work out...

Do you like the review headline? See, what I did there was take Clash of Clans [Free] and clumsily mixed Star Wars with it in a very on-the-nose way, in hopes that it would provide some entertainment to fans of both. Sorry for the sidetrack there, you came here to read a review of Star Wars: Commander [Free], right? It's the latest in a very long line of Star Wars-themed games that give a popular genre or title a healthy coat of Star Wars paint to see if something magical will happen. To the credit of Lucasarts, this has yielded some strong results in the past. Star Wars Baldur's Gate was pretty cool, Star Wars Wing Commander was amazing, Star Wars Battlefield 1942 was really fun, and even Star Wars Doom was pretty good for its time. Of course, there was also Star Wars Fighting Game and Star Wars Twisted Metal, so clearly the pendulum swings both ways here...

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