Category Archives: Reviews

I often find myself into a bit of a bind when I review a game that's well done in terms of design but also has major technical issues. How do you separate the plot and design ideas in the first episode of BATMAN - The Telltale Series [$4.99] from the engine's obvious shortcomings that make the game almost unplayable on all but the latest iOS devices? I've been playing the game on my iPhone 7 and even though I got some relatively long load times here and there, overall the experience was relatively fine (minus some typos, blurry text in the Codex, and graphical glitches). However, when I tried playing it on my iPad Air, I couldn't enjoy the game because the minutes-long load times really messed with the flow of the story (it's like watching a movie with long commercial breaks)...

'PinOut!' Review - A Pretty, Good Spin on Pinball

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December 30th, 2016 1:30 PM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Pinball, Reviews
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With the end of the year upon us, I'm doing my usual job of going back and picking out some games for review that for whatever reason didn't get one upon release. This year, most of the choices are coming from suggestions from the community, and one of the first games mentioned was PinOut! [Free]. Given that pinball is usually like catnip for me, I'm not sure why I missed this one to begin with. I imagine I was knee-deep in RPGs or something like that. At any rate, it's better late than never, so let's take a look at this stylish spin on one of the oldest electronic gaming genres...




'Mini Metro' Review - Train Braining

'Mini Metro' Review - Train Braining

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December 30th, 2016 12:30 PM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $4.99, 5 stars, Arcade, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation
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Continuing our year-end mop-up of games we missed out on reviewing at the time of their release for various reasons, the next requested title by our readers was Mini Metro [$2.99]. I've had an interesting relationship with trains over the course of my life. Passenger trains more or less vanished in the part of Canada I'm from when I was relatively young. Like most places in Canada, my town was far too small to merit a local metro system. I mean, we barely had buses. Thus, I didn't end up riding a train of any sort until I was in my twenties, and I picked a wild place to start. Imagine a small-town bumpkin arriving in Tokyo, Japan, and trying to make sense of the colorful spaghetti that is the Tokyo Metro system. After a while, though, I got the hang of it, and I now consider myself to be pretty good at navigating the sometimes seemingly nonsensical connections from place to place in that city...

'Empyrean' Review - Empyrean Rex

'Empyrean' Review - Empyrean Rex

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Empyrean [$5.99], one of the recent releases of prolific gamebook publisher Choice of Games, doesn't start off on a good foot. Major events are happening to your character before you can even get your bearings, and it feels like the story is telling you a lot more than it's asking you. It doesn't help matters that the game's primary setting, the dieselpunk-styled city of Actorius, has a lot of lore to explain. The whole thing comes on a bit too strong initially, and I had to force myself to push through it in the early going. Give it some time to unfurl a little, however, and Empyrean proves to be great fun. It's a pulpy thing, to be sure, but it's high-quality pulp. I ended up enjoying it so much that even though this is one of the longer ChoiceScript games I've played, the time seemed to fly by...

'Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire' Review - Delicious

One of the great things about classics is that they're readily available. While you'd be hard pressed to find a copy of Master Chu and the Drunkard Hu for the NES, a game almost no one has even heard of (myself included, until my wife showed me hers), you can get Mario 3 on your refrigerator and play Doom 2 inside of a keyboard. Sega is particularly giving with their legacy titles in the mobile arena, as is Square Enix, even if the latter charges an arm and a leg for the privilege. But while those games are timeless to some, new blood needs to come in every so often and keep them in check, even if they aren't particularly unique mechanically. Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire [$1.99] is comprised of a lot of mechanics found in the aforementioned classics, but its presentation of those concepts is effortless...

Nomads going on massive treks across the land with their tribes in tow. A lot of quality entertainment has been mined from that concept, most notably in recent gaming history with The Banner Saga [$4.99]. This time, Choice of Games is taking a crack at it with Saga of the North Wind [$4.99], a relatively lengthy adventure gamebook from writer Tom Knights. It's a good idea for a game like this, and the quality of the prose here is strong, but a few elements keep it from being all that it could have been. If you've got an interest in the topic matter, though, you'll probably find something to like here...

'Don't Grind' Review - Tally Me Banana

I don't know about you, but I always get unnerved at the death of tiny cute anthropomorphic things. Most people can rationalize "that's a banana getting grinded up into bits," but when you hear their screams and see blood splattering across the screen, it's a little different. Thankfully the point of Don't Grind [Free] is to save these little creatures, but as most endless games prove, death is inevitable. Maybe that's why it makes me so uncomfortable...

'Super Mario Run' Review - Mario and Luigi Are Doing What They Can

I feel pretty confident saying that Super Mario Run [Free] is the most hyped game release in the history of iOS. It has had the full marketing weight of two of the biggest giants in the industry behind it since its announcement, with Apple even going so far as to introduce a new notification system to allow players to pre-order it. That hype is there for good reason, of course. This is a historical moment for the video game industry. It's the first time a Mario game developed by Nintendo has released on non-Nintendo hardware since, I think, the original Mario Bros. back in the early 1980s. The legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto took a direct hand in the development of Super Mario Run, something he hasn't done for a Mario game since Super Mario Galaxy back in 2007. While the concept of Miitomo [Free] felt a bit underwhelming, Super Mario Run is Nintendo committing to mobile with unexpectedly fierce intensity...

There's a bit of lingo in Japanese gaming that doesn't have a great equivalent in English. The term is baka-ge (literally "stupid game"), and it refers to games that are intentionally ridiculous or absurd. Think of something like Goat Simulator [$4.99], and you'll be well on your way to understanding what a baka-ge is. The term doesn't make much of a judgment as to whether the game is bad or good, mind you, but the very presence of this kind of spirit is enough to draw a certain type of gamer. My Horse Prince [Free] is an amazing bit of baka-ge, a tapper that seems to find endless joy in warping its equine protagonist's body in nonsensical ways, sending up visual novel tropes, and making terrible dad-jokes. I suspect the majority of people who bring themselves to try it will find it too stupid to tolerate. For some of you out there, however, this might be one of the most memorable games of this year...

'Kathy Rain' Review - The Nightmare of the 90's is Alive in Conwell Springs

The point-and-click adventure game genre has seen quite the resurgence. Once seen as incredibly niche, a growing gaming audience has helped provide a market for many future games, many from those who enjoyed the genre back in the day. Kathy Rain [$4.99] deliberately pays homage to the 90's era not only by taking place in the decade of grunge, but through a low-resolution aesthetic that tries to make the game feel like it came from that original era. And thanks to a compelling story, this is a great way to spend a few hours solving a dark mystery...

To be honest, I thought the day would never come when we would play Party Hard on mobile. The game had been announced for mobile a long time ago, but its PC release came and went with nary a mention of the mobile version. The game's publisher tinyBuild, is typically very open about what they're working on, so them being hesitant to show off what would become Party Hard Go [$6.99] was certainly odd. I wondered if the game even existed at some point. Like, I doubted that tinyBuild would be oddly skittish on this one's existence when they're so open with everything else, but it did seem odd. Well, after some work adapting the game and giving it a Go in the name, their murder simulator is finally here. And, well, it's a unique game, but one that has a lot of oddities to it...

'Bully: Anniversary Edition' Review - Another Rockstar Classic Heads to Mobile

At this point, a holiday release from Rockstar on the App Store is beginning to become tradition, and I really couldn't be happier. This year's addition to Rockstar's mobile catalog is Bully: Anniversary Edition [$6.99], celebrating the ten year anniversary of the original 2006 launch. Lots of folks in our community suspected that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories would be the next Rockstar game to hit the App Store, but it turns out that the one and only bigfart12 guessed correctly all the way back in March. Bully always seemed like the "forgotten" Rockstar game, at least amongst my circle of friends. It was released sandwiched in between Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories [$6.99] and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. I think it was close enough to the GTA formula that anyone interested in Bully likely just gravitated to either title instead. I suppose it also didn't help that literally everyone I know who was even remotely interested in video games was hard and heavy into World of Warcraft at the time either. Anyway, it wasn't until the remastered "Scholarship Edition" was released a few years later that I gave the game a try, and had one of those "Wait, what the. Why didn't I play this when it first came out?" epiphanies that often come with re-releases of games you heard were good but never actually got around to playing. The mobile release is technically a second remaster of the game, as Bully: Anniversary Edition comes with all the tweaks of Scholarship Edition, plus additional graphical effects, higher resolution textures, better lighting, and a new multiplayer mode, effectively making the mobile game the best version yet- At least until it's remastered a third time...

While the music/rhythm genre has become somewhat stagnant on consoles, it’s been alive and well on mobile with ports of classics along with new twists to enjoy. Still, it’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a tried and true classic take on the rhythm genre. Pianista [Free] is an excellent new title that offers that exact experience with the added benefit of a treasure trove of classical music. In fact, when you combine the well-designed rhythm system with an interesting freemium system, there’s really no reason not to at least check it out...

If you had told me five years ago that slingshot RPGs were going to become a thing, I'd have been happy to hear of a future where Squids [$1.99] was so influential. Of course, Squids isn't what really kicked off this craze. No, the current wave of flick-and-flail casual RPGs that are cropping up can be laid at the feet of Monster Strike [Free]. It's only natural a hit of that magnitude would inspire similar games, but it's impressive just how sophisticated some of them are becoming. Gamevil's entry into the proverbial arena is Knight Slinger [Free], and it might just have the best production values of any game like this yet. In terms of gameplay mechanics, it doesn't mix things up too much, but there are some new things here that veterans of Monster Strike might like to play around with...

If you were an iOS-only gamer following Capcom's Ace Attorney series, things probably got a little confusing with Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies [$0.99]. Why did it seem like Phoenix Wright was coming back to his job from a long time off? Who is this Apollo guy that takes up a third of the game? Wait, Phoenix has a daughter? What's up with that? I'm not sure why Capcom decided to give mobile players the fifth game in a series before the fourth one, but they've finally decided to fill that gap. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney [$0.99] is a beautiful remaster of the original game which, up until now, was exclusively found on the Nintendo DS. While the graphics aren't polygonal like Dual Destinies, they were originally rendered at a much higher resolution than the Game Boy Advance sprites that were redrawn for the Phoenix Wright Trilogy. It's also, for various reasons, generally not as well-liked as most of the other installments in the series. Nevertheless, it's safe to say that if you enjoyed your time in the courtroom in previous Ace Attorney games, you'll want to show up to the stand here, too...

'Exiled Kingdoms RPG' Review - Chop 'til You Drop

I usually try to stay on top of the various RPGs that come out from week to week, but every once in a while, something good slips past. Fortunately, the TouchArcade forums are pretty reliable about finding the things we happen to miss, and that's just how I came across Exiled Kingdoms [Free], a surprisingly excellent action-RPG in the vein of Diablo. While it's not the prettiest game around, it offers dozens of hours of killing monsters, looting dungeons, and gathering awesome gear. Just in case you need some convincing, the game even offers a substantial portion to play for free, with the rest unlocking for a one-time IAP...

Our culture's fiction has a fascination with werewolves. We've explored what it would be like to be an American werewolf tourist in Europe, what it would be like to have a werewolf Michael J. Fox, what it would be like to have a werewolf boyfriend, what it would be like to have a werewolf boyfriend who competes with our vampire boyfriend but then ends up being the boyfriend of our daughter instead, and so on. But I feel we could be doing a better job of digging into the fascinating subject of what it would be like to have a werewolf member of congress, a niche I was hoping Congresswolf [Free], a recent gamebook release from Choice of Games, would fill...

'Super Cat Tales' Review - Don't Paws, Play This Nya-ow

In spite of the seeming limitation of having no physical buttons by default, iOS has a lot of really great platformers. Some of them get by with virtual controls, putting some of the burden on the player to simply get used to them. That's fine, but unless the game is a port from another platform, I'm not sure if it's really the best way to go. I think some of the best platformers on iOS are the ones that avoid the temptation of using virtual buttons and find a way to build a game around a more fitting setup. Sure, you have to sacrifice some of the conventional ways of designing levels and obstacles, but in doing that, many games find something new and interesting...

Look, I love my hardcore math battles as much as the next person, but sometimes it's nice to get something a little lighter. It can be hard to find an RPG that skates the line between simplicity and complexity well, but that's just the spot that Witch Spring 2 [$3.99] fits into. With an emphasis on crafting, exploration of a limited map, and simple turn-based battles, it's probably not going to be to everyone's tastes. It also leans rather heavily on a cute anime style that is obviously going to resonate with some and turn off others. And yet, there's a lot of heart to the effort, and its innocent enthusiasm can be a little infectious. It's certainly a nice break from the usual template we see in this genre, if nothing else...

Let me start this review with a spoiler; for me, Sports Interactive's Football Manager Touch 2017 [$19.99 (HD)] is probably the most complicated (yet still accessible), most replayable, and most entertaining game on the App Store. This is a game that lets you play any team from over 130 leagues across the world, and all those teams have their real-life players in their roster, and each of those players has his real-life stats (as well as those can be put into numbers). And you can play with that team for season after season all the while customizing it in all kinds of ways. I'm constantly amazed at all the little things I discover in this game as I go along, features and details that make playing the game faster while at the same time giving me more ways to interact with my team, my board, my training staff, and pretty much everyone in the world of Football Manager...

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