Category Archives: Reviews

'Hellrider' review - Ducks of Anarchy

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Have you ever wanted to ride a motorcycle through Hell as a duck? Well, Hellrider [Free] is your huckleberry. Accompanied by a slick set of pixelated visuals and an appropriately chiptune soundtrack, Hellrider sees players riding a motorcycle through a hellish landscape, avoiding lava at two sides and a heap of different obstacles. By default you'll start by veering off into one direction, and a simple tap anywhere will change your course. By tapping rapidly you'll stay in place, but eventually you'll need to commit. The animation is very slick on an iPhone 6, and the controls are pretty much instant...

One side-effect of Apple requiring an annual fee from developers is that, if the developer goes out of business, their games drop off the App Store. That's what happened with Spanish indies Blue Shadow and their gravity-based platformer Naught. So while anyone with an Android device can still download Naught and its sequel, they've been missing from the iOS App Store. You can't keep a good indie team down, though, and now former Blue Shadow developers have returned as Wild Sphere, and Naught is back on your Apple device...

Diego Cathalifaud's mobile roguelike trilogy is concluding with another solid game: Arcane Tower [$1.99]. After the fun Amber Halls [$1.99] and Power Grounds [$0.99] each released last year, a game with similar flat visuals and roguelike gameplay. It's a great way to end the trilogy, bringing another solid game that's great on the go...

'Sorcery! 3' Review - Live The Mongoose Life In This Amazing Adventure

It's been quite a wait for this third installment in inkle's adaptation of Steve Jackson's Sorcery! series of gamebooks. It's kind of funny now to look back at those who were impatient over the six months between the release of the first two chapters. With just about a year and a half passed since the release of Sorcery! 2 [$4.99], I imagine those people have champed right through the bit by now and have gone to work on biting their own faces off. With how consistently awesome inkle's work has been on this series so far, who can blame them, though? At the same time, I can't get too upset at the developer. We got the absolutely wonderful 80 Days [$4.99] and the pleasant Down Among The Dead Men [$0.99] in the interim, and Android players got to get up to speed on the first two installments of the Sorcery! games. Let's just hope that we don't have to wait quite so long for the final chapter...

One of the main complaints I hear about traditional gamebooks is that they're too difficult. It's fair criticism. When we think of gamebooks, we generally think of things like the Fighting Fantasy series or Lone Wolf, and both of those make liberal use of some nasty tricks at times. If you're playing an Ian Livingstone book, you'd best be rolling the best possible scores, and if you're playing a Steve Jackson adventure, I hope you're searching every nook and cranny and picking up everything that isn't nailed down. The worst offenders are designed around a so-called golden path, the one correct sequence of actions that can take you to the ending, but even the best will sometimes kill you for flipping to the wrong page. It's little wonder almost everyone cheat at the things to some extent...

'Halo: Spartan Strike' Review - An Evolutionary Success

Recently, Microsoft and the folks at 343 Industries launched two Halo spinoffs on the App Store. Halo: Spartan Assault [$5.99] originally debuted back in 2013 on Windows devices and is finally on iOS devices. However, Halo: Spartan Strike [$5.99] is a brand new adventure that saw a simultaneous launch on all pertinent platforms. As a sequel to Halo: Spartan Assault, it would make sense that Strike seeks to improve upon its predecessor and it succeeds in that regard. While the changes to the formula feel more evolutionary than revolutionary, those improvements are on a game that was already great  to begin with making Strike an even better dual stick shooter...

When Microsoft announced Halo: Spartan Assault way back in early 2013 as a dual-stick shooter set in the Halo universe that would be exclusive to the Windows platform, no one ever thought that the folks in Redmond would ever sign off on it eventually hitting Apple’s App Store (although we dreamed about it when we checked it out at E3 that year). Yet, here we are with Microsoft pulling a rabbit out of its hat and launching both Halo: Spartan Assault [$5.99] and Halo: Spartan Strike [$5.99] simultaneously on the App Store. As you’ll soon discover, both games play quite similarly to each other, but we’ll focus primarily on Spartan Assault and the gameplay basics in this review and will get into more specifics as well as the differences of Spartan Strike in Part II of our review...

I remember the early days of the App Store, when twin-stick shooters roamed the landscape free and clear. They're a bit more rare now, as the genre got crowded and kind of played itself out. Geometry Wars: Touch [$0.99] remains un-updated for modern devices. At least Radiangames has cornered the market with JoyJoy [$1.99], Inferno 2 [$2.99], and the dual-stick shooter Metroidvania Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville [$3.99] which unfortunately is no longer for sales. I enjoyed the era of dual-stick shooters, because I liked the variety of games developers made with the conventions! Trigonarium [$1.99] should provide some hope for the masses, needing more dual joysticks to blast enemies from all over the place. If you like frantic shooters and going for high scores, all at a silky-smooth 60 frames per second, Trigonarium is the game for you...

Super Hexagon [$2.99] still has an outsized influence on mobile gaming, as minimalist, high-difficulty, arcade-style games keep coming out. Tiltagon [Free] from Jyri and Piia Kilpeläinen, decides to skew closer to Super Hexagon where many games are now taking influence from Flappy Bird and Crossy Road [Free]. The high-tempo electronic music, the hexagons, the frequent deaths, they all seem familiar. Tiltagon does an admirable job at mixing things up by being a tilt-based game that can't match the speed of touch-based games, but finds clever ways to fit in this arcade challenge genre...

'Implosion - Never Lose Hope' Review - Hope Is The Thing With Missiles

Implosion - Never Lose Hope [$9.99] is the latest game from Rayark, the developer behind the wonderful titles Cytus [$1.99] and Deemo [$1.99]. It's an outstanding game, and if you're reading this review because you want to know whether or not you should drop ten US dollars (or your local equivalent thereof) on it, let me cut to the chase for once. Yes, you should. Head over the the App Store, hit the button to purchase it, prepare a cup of your beverage of choice while it downloads, and get ready to settle in for a slick action game with superb production values and seriously well-designed combat. I can't recommend this game enthusiastically enough...

'Shades' Review: A Strikingly Simple, Tetris like Puzzle Game

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April 15th, 2015 2:30 PM EDT by Ben Jarris in 3.5 stars, Free, Puzzle, Reviews
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Shades [$1.99];the notably unique Tetris like puzzle game came out late last year and flew under the radar. Since it’s launch the game has grown a huge following, been featured by Apple as their ‘Free Game of the Week’, and even been recreated within Minecraft by seriously dedicated fans. A recent major update of the game and the release of Shades Free [Free]; made me take notice and have a closer look. If you love sleek design and you’re good with color like me then you should definitely take on this challenge and give Shades a try. ..

'Crowntakers' for iPad Review - A Royally Good Roguelike Spin

Some of the earliest video game RPGs were roguelikes, but if you didn't notice them around for a couple of decades, nobody would blame you. After being fairly popular in the early stages of home computing, they soon gave way to bigger, more persistent adventures. They still had a dedicated following during those years, with games like Nethack, Angband, and Japan's Mystery Dungeon series carrying the torch for the genre. The boom of indie developers and the surging interest in more compact gaming experiences in the last ten years has seen the genre make a big comeback. The basic elements of the genre have been used in many popular games that might not be strictly considered roguelikes but owe a massive debt to the genre nonetheless. A genre once almost totally represented by so few games that you could count them off on your fingers now has a strong influence, especially in the PC and mobile gaming markets...

There's something about girls with pet dragons. I think we can all agree on that. But while Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones [$4.99] uses her scaly babies for intimidation, airborne immolation and other miscellaneous conquering duties, the princess in Dragon Hills [$1.99] uses hers strictly for vengeance. Leave the fair maiden alone and she'll not trouble you. But lock her up in a tower and she'll summon forth her fiery steed and hunt you down, wreaking all manner of chaos and destruction in the process...

Some runners are so seamlessly crafted that they don't even feel like runners at all. That's definitely the case with Pie in the Sky [$2.99], partially because of the fact that you are actually flying rather than running, and that it manages to strip most instances of repetition in favor of a more cohesive frame, similar to the old classic Paperboy...

'Football Manager Classic 2015' Review - Creating Amazing Stories in a Sports Management Game

Necessary Disclaimer: Although this review is about the sport US readers call "soccer," I'll be using the term football to be consistent with the game's title...

In the ever-present artistic struggle between playing it safe or trying something new at the risk of failure, most of the games that Kemco releases fall in the former camp. Sure, almost every game has something unique about it, but it's often buried in minutiae that even most genre fans don't pay much attention to. Their latest game, from developer Hit-Point, is the most unusual RPG they've published in quite some time. I'm an old hand at this genre, as regular readers know, and my initial reaction to Valkyria Soul [$3.99] was a disproportionate amount of excitement. The game looks like nothing Kemco has released on iOS before. The tone of the story is different from Hit-Point's usual breezy fare, and it even has a more competent translation than we typically see from that developer's works. The game doesn't even have the standard top-down dungeon exploration, playing out instead from a pure side-scrolling viewpoint...

Last Voyage [$0.99] joins the craze of abstract puzzle games that Monument Valley [$0.99] helped spark thanks to its massive success. And this game makes for a spectacular universe and artistic experience. Yet, Last Voyage winds up being less than the sum of its parts, as it tries to connect five different experiences as one package. Each part has value, but it doesn't do a great job at making the package into a cohesive whole. Its myriad forms of gameplay are fascinating, as its existence as a beautiful thing. But the story, narrative, and message parts of its existence fell flat for me...

'The Quest Keeper' Review - Not a 'Crossy Road' Clone, But Something Fresh

Crossy Road [Free] has inspired a lot of games recently, which is natural because it's been a huge success. It's made Hipster Whale millions of dollars on a game made in three months and without aggressive monetization. There are countless developers in similar situations that would kill for a tenth of its success. There are many straight-up clones, we're now starting to see games that try to iterate on it and make their own unique experiences. The Quest Keeper [Free] has an obvious inspiration, but it adds in RPG tropes, its own movement rules, and plenty of cool new things that make it its own fun game...

'Corridor Z' Review - Running in the Hall

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April 9th, 2015 4:30 PM EDT by Keith Swiader in 4 stars, Free, iPhone games, Ratings, Reviews, Runner
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There’s certainly no shortage of endless runners on the App Store in 2015. Just as the creation of the match-three puzzler spawned countless spinoffs, the endless runner, popularized by Imangi Studios’ Temple Run [Free] series in 2011, has seen numerous variations from different developers, including the recent Daytona Rush, which added the now-popular three lane mechanic and stock cars, and Touchdown Hero, which added Sega Genesis graphics with top-down gameplay. ..

There are certain games that remind me of those little activity books you used to be able to find in gas stations before every child in North America owned a handheld gaming system of some sort. The ones that had a "magic" marker that would reveal invisible ink as you ran it over the pages. When I was a little fellow, I loved those books a lot. As far as I was concerned, those were magic. There was just one problem with them. Once you went through the whole book and marked up all the pages, they were finished. There was no reason to keep them, and you certainly couldn't redo them. You couldn't even admire them the way you could with a particularly well-done coloring book since most of the fun came from the discovery...

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