Category Archives: Reviews

'Pathfinder Adventures' Review - Or How to Make a Card Game Feel More Like an Adventure

Do you like adventuring? Do you enjoy role playing? Do you like cards? Do you like rolling imaginary dice? Then I think you're going to like Pathfinder Adventures [Free (HD)], Obsidian's digital port of the very popular Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. I'm always interested in seeing how games translate to different mediums, and I was curious to see how this physical card game would look like - and play -  on my iPad. I'm glad to say that Obsidian did a great job turning what can be a complicated card game into a great app that though not perfect, definitely delivers a great looking game that's relatively easy to play - at least as easy as the original rules allow it to be...

There is no shortage of aerial dogfighting games in this world, both 2D and 3D. Tons of games try, fairly successfully, to capture that aerial combat dynamic, but very few are aces. That’s the kind of case we have on our hands today. Pilots of the Dawn [Free], from Sapeli Studio Oy, is brimming with talent and potential, and while it lacks variety in both gametypes and assets, what is there definitely shines...




'Amidakuji Knight' Review - Choose a Path

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May 12th, 2016 11:00 AM EDT by Chris Carter in $0.99, 4 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
99¢ Buy Now

Many years ago, I encountered a really cool boss in a game called Mega Man X. As one of the last encounters leading up to the final fight, players were locked in a room with a giant robotic spider, with multiple metal "webs" hanging from the ceiling. Every few seconds the webs would change, and create new pathways for the spider to travel. The rules were simple -- it had to follow the journey of least resistance, and turn down every path it could. It was interesting because players could deduce where the spider would fall with any given pattern, but they had to be fast enough to figure it out before he landed on you. That concept is basically how the entire game of Amidakuji Knight [$0.99] works, to great success. The concept not only translates perfectly to a touchscreen, but the developers also extend it a bit with a full-on level-up and gear system. After a quick setup that involves a heroic knight and his quest to locate a valuable talisman across three chapters, players are off to the overworld, where they're presented with a number of choices, represented with paths. Each board has five in all, which will lead you to an end goal -- whether it's an enemy to fight and gain experience from, gold, or an item...

The Heroes Rise trilogy of gamebooks are, as near as I can tell, among the most popular releases from Choice Of Games. There are probably a lot of reasons for that, including the popularity of both superheroes and reality show send-ups, the interesting, convoluted plot, and the overall quality of the writing. Most of those things are still just as popular now as they were before, so even though the author of Heroes Rise has already started a new series set in another universe, it's perhaps not that surprising that the Hero Project is coming back for a second season. That trilogy wrapped things up so well, however, that it's hard to say what the best way forward would be for a follow-up. The Hero Project: Redemption Season [$3.99] finds a new direction, and while it's a pretty good one, it's tackling some complex issues that it can't quite seem to get a proper handle on...

Quirky media can often be a breath of fresh air. Whereas dramas and grimdark settings usually go over well with just about anyone, weird comedies like Arrested Development can break the mold and have us enjoy something we never even knew we wanted. But quirk alone isn't enough to carry every project. Sometimes, studios or developers can go overboard, and made a game so loud, so desperate for your attention that it falls on deaf ears. Despite some solid gameplay mechanics, Egz The Origin of the Universe [$3.99] suffers from some of these issues...

'INKS.' Review - Paintball Wizard

'INKS.' Review - Paintball Wizard

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$1.99 Buy Now

There are a few ways you can look at INKS. [$1.99], the latest release from Lumino City [$4.99] developer State Of Play. On the one hand, it's a beautiful piece of interactive art, allowing each player to uniquely paint a design based on how they play. On the other hand, it's probably State Of Play's most conventional game yet, since it's really just pinball at its core. That's a genre which has no shortage of excellent entries on the iOS platform, and when compared on a strictly mechanical basis against them, INKS. is far from the front of the pack. You have to take it as a fusion of both of those things to see it on its best merits, I think. If nothing else, it will teach you more than a few things about how to play pinball, and it does it in quite the artistic fashion...

In an era where kids can fire up a game like Real Racing 3 [Free] for free on a mobile device, I can't imagine slot car racing sets are as ubiquitous as they were when I was a kid. Just about everyone seemed to own one back then, whether they were interested in cars or not. They're pretty simple toys, with the only real input being how fast the car is going at any given time, but there was a certain thrill in seeing how fast you could take corners without careening wildly off the little plastic tracks. There was a bit of technique to it, though the advantage certainly went to the player who was most familiar with the track. Black Hole Joyrider [$0.99], the latest from Boson X [$2.99] creator Ian MacLarty, might look and sound like a grand space adventure, but it's basically a gorgeous game of slot car solitaire...

I can't decide if I'm happy or sad that we've gotten enough EXE-Create RPGs from Kemco this year that I'm getting a bit weary of them. The developer behind the Alphadia, Across Age, and Asdivine series, as well as numerous other one-off RPGs, EXE-Create generally creates the best games of any of the teams working for Kemco. They're particularly good at writing interesting characters and entertaining dialogue, and I can't honestly think of a single release from them that has let me down in that regard. The most common weak point of their RPGs is in how safe they tend to play things with gameplay mechanics. They seem to have really fallen into a rut of late, and it's made all the more apparent when you play their releases nearly back-to-back. For good or for ill, Glorious Savior [Free / $4.99] is another EXE-Create RPG through and through...

'Hammer Bomb' Review - A Fabulous Dungeon Crawler

Dungeon crawlers are in my blood. One of the first games I ever played for the NES was Dragon Warrior, also known as the first Dragon Quest. Sure I needed some help to actually beat it, but I eventually learned the concept of grinding out experience so that I was stronger, and the great feeling of conquering my foes with a newer better hero. Oh and the loot -- the fabulous loot -- that works in tandem with your newfound abilities to compound your strength. It's something I'll probably never get tired of. That experience doesn't always translate well to a smaller screen, but somehow, the developers of Hammer Bomb [Free] found a way...

'Chameleon Run' Review - A Change of Color

I've played so many runners in the past 10 years or so I've lost count. Much like my teenage years after I realized that I had played hundreds of platformers in my lifetime, over time, I started to notice that you can't really browse the App Store without seeing a runner front and center. While many groan at the prospect, I relish a new opportunity to check out a new entry, and a brand new way to spend entire days wasting away behind the comfort of a touchscreen...

'Fallen London' Review - An Artfully-Made, Wonderfully-Weird Labyrinth of Stories

I've always found the written word very alluring, which to a great degree explains my career choices and the fact that I'm writing this review right now. Books, and later adventure games and interactive fiction, were my gateways to all kinds of fantastic worlds, and I often judged those books on how well they managed to create a sense of place, how "real" those fake worlds felt to me. So, going in to play Fallen London [Free] (first its browser version and now its iOS version), I was intrigued by the description of the world I was about to inhabit - a "hilarious Victorian-Gothic underworld" version of London - and wondered how big that world would be and how vivid. Well, I soon realized that Fallen London's sense of place is among the best in any game I've played, textual or not, creating the strong impression that the world around me kept on living and breathing even in my absence, a key feature for any sense of realism when encountering absurd, fantastic worlds...

'Guns Of Infinity' Review - The Ravages Of War

My quest to stay more or less on top of major gamebook releases has been pretty tricky of late thanks to the speed at which new ChoiceScript-based games have released both through Choice Of Games and Hosted Games. It's hardly the worst problem to have, but readers who have stayed on top of my recent gamebook reviews know that none of them have really grabbed me recently. Coming off of the massive, disappointing Magikiras [Free], I was a little wary of Guns Of Infinity [$4.99]. It's by a completely different author, mind you, so there wasn't much of a logical basis for that fear, but the relatively large word count certainly had me cautious. An unpleasant read can result in very different levels of agony depending on its length, and if Guns Of Infinity missed the mark, it was going to be a very long haul...

It's always a downer when a game you really like at its core is dragged down by external factors. Such is the case with Trap Da Gang [Free], the latest release from Japanese publisher Obokaid'em Games. The basic gameplay is challenging, fun, and wonderfully reminiscent of vintage arcade games from the mid-1980s. But being a free game, it also has an economy that you have to deal with, and while that's not always bad in principle, the extra cruft it brings to the game hurts it. It's still a fun game, but I couldn't help but wish there were some way to play it in a purer form...

'Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble' Review - Tap, Combine, and Pop

I am absolutely fascinated with Yo-Kai Watch. I've played the localized 3DS game, I watch the television show, and I have several trinkets from the toy line, including the actual titular watch. Having visited Japan for the first time last year I had the good fortune of speaking to residents about what a "Yo-kai" actually is, and how they differ from ghosts or other commonly known spirits. They're mischievous in nature, just like the "gremlins" in western folklore, which sets the perfect tone for a game featuring a crazy red cat that knows kung fu and calls his attacks "Paws of Fury." Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble [Free] is the latest creation in this cross-media venture, and it draws a lot of influence from modern puzzle hits like the Tsum Tsum series in a good way...

What is our fascination with post-apocalyptic media? Maybe it's the fear of the unknown, in that things may actually be that dire one day, and a peek into the future is relatively harmless. Maybe it's because some of the greatest filmmakers of our time, including George Miller, flock to projects like that because they provide a blank canvas of expectations -- the world is theirs to create as they see fit. Chrome Death [Free] isn't necessarily that magnificent, but just like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon on PC and consoles, it really nails what makes that genre so special...

'Pixel Machines' Review - If 'Micro Machines' Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

I really don't think free-to-play is as bad as its vocal haters claim it is, but I totally get that it changes games' structures. Look at something like the soft-launched Micro Machines; if you just wanted a way to play the classic Micro Machines game on your iPhone or iPad, all the games-as-a-service shenanigans might be distasteful. Still, I think you should keep an open mind, but I get it. Change sucks. Thankfully, indie developers who just want to make cool homages to the classics and only charge you once, and small amounts at that, do still exist. Pixel Machines [$0.99] will really strike a chord with Micro Machines fans by being pretty much the same game, but with mobile-friendly and modern features...

'Zenge' Review - Everything Slides Into Place

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April 22nd, 2016 11:39 AM EDT by Chris Carter in $0.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

At a very young age, I was trained for puzzle games. You know, putting those square pegs into their appropriate holes, Operation to meticulously work on my reaction times, and so on. All of those tabletop experiences trained me for what was to come down the road, when I had to put those same pegs into hundreds of different locations over the years, dreamed up by some of the most prophetic puzzle designers the world has ever seen. That includes Zenge [$0.99], which takes the core premise of shifting around different shapes into one magnificent canvas...

'Warbits' Review - War Never Changes

Do you like Advance Wars? The 2001 Game Boy Advance turn-based strategy game holds a special place in a lot of folks' hearts because it was an interesting and accessible game, being the first strategy game that many people played, myself included. Many turn-based strategy games to this day owe a signifcant debt to Advance Wars. Warbits [$2.99] falls well in that category, but it's probably more accurate to say that it's trying to be Advance Wars. It lacks originality, but it doesn't screw anything up on the way, and it's Advance Wars on your phone with online play. I'm not hearing any objections...

There are a lot of different ways a piece of interactive fiction can succeed. Some of them tell a great story, some of them give the player a genuine feel of agency in the plot, and some of them have interesting puzzles. Some have tense, RPG-like battles, while others have no fighting at all and focus on building character relationships. A few just take a very interesting setting or theme and run with it. But for all of these strong points that gamebooks can take advantage of, there are a ton of pitfalls that, if not specific to the format, are at least more potentially devastating to the overall enjoyment of a work. It's not an easy thing to put a smooth, highly-interactive narrative together that manages to be strong enough to carry an entire game. It involves almost all of the headaches of writing a good book combined with the difficulties of quality game design...

'Super Tribes' Review - Global Domination, Bit by Bit

The RTS genre is one I remember fondly. Micromanaging troops and building an empire is an unparalleled joy in some cases. For some titles, it was all about just getting through the day, and taking out an enemy force. But for others, it was about managing an economy, and growing over time to support your people. They’re the kind of games that lend themselves well to short or marathon sessions, where you can just pop in, stress free, and take care of business. The mobile arena is a perfect fit for that type of game, and Super Tribes [Free] is happy to accommodate...

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