Category Archives: Reviews

'Snowboard Party 2' - Downhill Jam

1080 Snowboarding, guys. I spent more time playing that on the Nintendo 64 than any other snowboarding game to date. It came out around the time Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater debuted, and I was basically obsessed with “extreme sports” in video games. Not only was it one of the best-looking and smoothest N64 games of its day, it was also ridiculous amounts of fun. Unfortunately, I missed out on the sequel (never had a Game Cube) and somehow missed the SSX craze as well. In fact, the only other snowboarding game I can recall being super into since then is the recent Alto’s Adventure [$2.99], which belongs to a completely different genre altogether. It’s something I hadn’t really considered, but when I first started playing Ratrod’s Snowboard Party 2 [$1.99], I finally realized how much I missed carving down the slopes in 3D while pulling off crazy tricks...

The Gamevice for iPhone, rolling out to retail now, is a device that's both very functional, even showing some improvements on the earlier release of the model for the iPad Mini. It's a great controller, and its folding design makes it extremely portable. But it's held back in part by its high price, and by several functional trade-offs mandated by Apple requirements, not to mention the non-working Handoff functionality. It's a tough sell for the general consumer, but the Gamevice for iPhone is a solid controller if you're in for the $99.99 price, and you know exactly what you're getting...




'Football Manager Touch 2016' Review - Say Goodbye To Your Free Time, Your Job, and Your Life

What do you look for in a game? Is it brief moments of entertainment? Do you like games that keep you busy while you play them and fade from memory the moment you stop? Then Football Manager Touch 2016 [$8.99 (HD)] is definitely not for you. Why so? Because this is a game about investment, a game that hooks you not with its frantic gameplay (since it's anything but frantic) but by getting you involved and invested in your career. The game makes you feel like an integral part of team your managing; you don't play FMT 2016 only when you're looking at your tablet, you're playing it even late at night in a bar when you're thinking which player would work where, or whether that wonderkid will finally turn up on matchday. This is a game that will literally expand to fill much of your free time, even when you aren't actually anywhere near your tablet...

The fundamental conflict surrounding how I feel about roguelike I Wanna Be a Hero [$2.99] is that the game owes a huge debt to Crypt of the Necrodancer, and if you've played that game, then a lot of what this is trying to do makes sense. Of course, Necrodancer isn't on mobile quite yet, so if you're just a mobile gamer, then perhaps you're only used to this. Still, I Wanna Be a Hero does a lot that is interesting and it's not a bad game, but it's definitely lacking...

Rayman is one of those franchises that always lights my face up when I play it. Despite my issues with a few of the older games, the newer generation of titles have been nothing short of amazing, and I'm including both mobile runners in that conversation. Rayman Jungle Run [$2.99] and Rayman Fiesta Run [$2.99] were excellent translations of the formula to the mobile platform, and although they're technically runners, they operate more like a platformer hybrid, and don't sacrifice any of the quality that the series is known for. Rayman Adventures [Free] is more of the same in that regard, with several holdups inherently related to its free-to-play nature...

'BLOCnog' Review - Slip Sliding Away

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December 11th, 2015 12:00 PM EST by Chris Carter in $1.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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If I ever see a grid-based puzzle game, I jump at the opportunity to play it. Ever since I experienced Chip's Challenge so many years back I became addicted, and there's something so orderly at the concept of solving puzzles in a uniform format. BLOCnog [$1.99] is one such game, but it's conceal beneath a devlishly cute premise, and some very interesting concepts...

'Pyro Jump Rescue' Review - Twirling, Twirling Towards Freedom

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December 11th, 2015 11:04 AM EST by Nadia Oxford in 3.5 stars, Free, Review, Reviews
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Pyro Jump Rescue [Free] is interestingly named. It insinuates that the game is about leaping around to save a pyromaniac. That'd be an interesting idea for a mobile game, but it's not what Pyro Jump Rescue is about. Instead, this action / adventure title works off the barrel-blasting mechanics popularized by 1994's classic Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo...

'CineMagic' Review - Match Three: The Movie

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December 10th, 2015 11:00 AM EST by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Free, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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In the small town where I grew up, my parents run a little single-screen movie theatre called the Sunset. We spent a few years living in an apartment above it when I was a kid, and my first job was taking tickets at the box office. I still love going there when I visit my parents, even though I don’t always stay to watch the shows (which only play on weekends, of course.) Movie theatres are familiar and comfortable to me, and spending most of my life around one instilled me with a deep love and appreciation of movies and filmmaking in general. The folks at Jamwix seem to feel exactly the same way, and it shows in their latest app, CineMagic [Free]...

As regular readers know, I play a lot of interactive fiction games. Visual novels, gamebooks, text adventures, I enjoy them all just the same. While I'm often pleasantly surprised by the writing or structure of these games, it's quite rare for me to come across something that is different from a gameplay perspective. Veteran gamebook developer Tin Man Games has been full of surprises recently, however, so I suppose I should start expecting things like Choices: And The Sun Went Out [Free]. It's a choice-based adventure with a couple of clever twists, with chief among them being that it's not finished. Okay, that's normally a bad thing to say about a game, but in the case of Choices, it's actually its main hook. Rather than presenting a complete story that players can purchase up-front, Choices instead offers a subscription-based model where new content arrives every week, building on the story bit by bit...

'Code Of Arms' Review - Bar Versus The World

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December 8th, 2015 11:30 AM EST by Shaun Musgrave in 4 stars, Card, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Strategy
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In a review of a different game that made use of barcode scanning, I talked about how I've always been enamored of the idea, but rarely found the games attached to the scanning to be of much merit. Well, I've finally found a pretty decent game that integrates barcode scanning. It's called Code Of Arms [Free], and it's basically like a simplified version of Dungelot [$1.99] fused with a card battler. If you enjoyed that game, you'll probably enjoy this one even if the scanning mechanic does nothing for you. Best of all, it's inexplicably free, without even so much as ads to support it...

'Groove Planet' Review - Click Track

'Groove Planet' Review - Click Track

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December 7th, 2015 12:32 PM EST by Nathan Reinauer in 4.5 stars, Free, Games, Music / Rhythm, Reviews, Time Management, Universal
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Clearly, Fizzpow and Noodlecake hit on something special with Bitcoin Billionaire [Free]. It certainly wasn’t the first clicker ever, or even the first on the App Store. Still, it seems to easily be one of the more influential of the bunch. Just about every clicker that comes out these days has the same combination of upgrades, investments, random card draws, and opt-in video ads. It’s a great formula, and I’ve sunk an embarrassing number of hours into Billionaire over the last year or so. Still, when I reviewed Muchos Tacos a few months back I quietly decided not to try any more clickers unless one did something new and unexpected. (And sadly, folding tacos instead of tapping just doesn’t do it for me.) In fact, the only reason I downloaded Animoca Brands' Groove Planet [Free] at all was because I didn’t realize it was a clicker. And while it does adhere to the Billionaire formula fairly closely, thankfully it does have one rather novel trick up its record sleeve...

There isn’t very much to say about virtual pets. We’ve all played with one at some point, whether it was a Tamogachi or a Clumsy Ninja [Free], and they all offer pretty much the same experience. They’re usually cute and also usually a bit shallow. So how do you direct someone’s attention to your virtual pet experience? By putting them in charge of one of the most destructive and incomprehensible monsters since before time was time, of course! And by making that elder god as cute as can possibly be, even as he eats his own servants because you forgot to feed him! Here’s the simple but amusing Cthulhu Virtual Pet [Free] from Silvia Sanchez and NeuroCreativa...

'Amazing Loot Grind' Review - Tap to Loot

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December 3rd, 2015 2:00 PM EST by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation, Universal
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For a period of one month, Cookie Clicker basically took over my PC. I played it at work, and at home, with two simultaneous instances running at once. The concept of watching numbers go up over time isn't anything new -- it's something PC and old console RPGs have been doing for decades -- but clickers cut out all of the downtime and just let you get to the rewards. It's a fascinating social experiment, but on occasion, it also makes for a fun video game. Amazing Loot Grind [Free] is one such instance, and it's perfect to play for hours or seconds at a time...

'Super Hyper Ball' Review - Breakout Pinball

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December 3rd, 2015 1:00 PM EST by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Pinball, Reviews, Universal
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I've been playing Breakout-esque games for decades now, and despite the fact that they've fundamentally remained the same, they still do the trick every so often when I'm craving an arcade-like retro experience. Sure it's a score-attack-based affair, with a dangling carrot that will never actually be reached, but at the very least, you can still break out all of those bricks and move on to the next set of tiles. There's a sense of progression to it and a noble air of simplicity that makes the genre so alluring. Super Hyper Ball [Free] maintains the same classic feel as those titles, but adds in a few rudimentary aspects of pinball into the mix...

'Starlit Adventures' Review - Time For Adventure

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December 3rd, 2015 11:00 AM EST by Nadia Oxford in 4 stars, Free, Review, Reviews
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Video games have given us a wide variety of mounts, including dinosaurs, dragons, bears, and other creatures that would likely sink their teeth into our squishy human heads if we had the gall to jump on their backs. But Rockhead Games' Starlit Adventures [Free] lets us go for a ride on a truly unique critter: A giant star-nosed mole named Kikki who admittedly looks far cuter than the real animal. Seriously, have you ever looked at a star-nosed mole head-on? It looks like someone stapled the facehugger from Alien to a blind rat...

It seems like 2015 is the year of long-awaited games finally releasing. This year we've had Spider: Rite Of The Shrouded Moon [$2.99], Galactic Keep [$3.99], The Room Three [$4.99], and Dragon Fantasy: The Black Tome Of Ice [$9.99], among others, and it looks like we're going to be ending the year with another game that's been stewing for awhile: the follow-up to 2010's Aralon: Sword And Shadow [$4.99], from Galoobeth Games and Crescent Moon Games. For its time, Aralon was almost unbelievable for a mobile game. Offering a big 3D world that felt considerably more detail, open, and alive than the one found in Crescent Moon's previous title, Ravensword, Aralon felt like a big step towards having a fully-featured, modern, WRPG-style game on iOS. That was in 2010, however, and I'm sure I don't need to tell anyone how the market and player expectations have shifted in the intervening half-decade. Aralon: Forge And Flame [$4.99] is stepping out into a much different world than the one that welcomed its predecessor, and it doesn't quite have the sizzle to fill the footsteps it's walking in...

I mentioned recently in my review of Baseball Apocalypse [$0.99] that I love impossible games. One of those games comes from developer/publisher Invictus. Now, Invictus puts out a lot of games, very few of which actually interest me, though they seem to have found their footing in the last couple years. There are a handful of gems in their library that really truly shine. I'm talking the supremely elegant Greed Corp [$0.99], the heavy metal monster mash Tap 'n Slash [Free], and the game that I name dropped in said review, Give It Up! [$0.99]. While the original game grew with a handful of updates, a sequel was being made, and that sequel is pretty magnificent. I give you Give It Up! 2 [$0.99]. (I'd have gone with something like Give It Up Again! but I digress)..

Late last year, iOS gamers were treated to an excellent port of the cult classic Xbox title Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath [$2.99]. In my review of that game, I sounded off on the series on the whole, making no bones about my admiration for the tight design and excellent gameplay found in Stranger's Wrath, referring to it as without question the developer's best game. I also made no secret of my feelings about the previous games in the series, which I've always felt were lovingly-crafted but ultimately quite middling outside of their production values and strong art direction. I think there are valid reasons why they were like that, but the point remains that I don't think very highly of the gameplay they offer. I guess that's kind of a foreboding way to start this review, but stay with me...

They say that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Which is exactly why whenever I write reviews, I wear my furry Chewbacca bath robe. You don't get quite as disparate, or quite as wide of a gap, as a lowly beggar literally wearing the face of god and getting godlike power in the process. That's quite the promotion! And it's also the premise of the lovely puzzle platformer and debut App Store game from Bad Seed, The Beggar's Ride [$3.99]...

'Blendoku 2' Review - Does It Blend?

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December 2nd, 2015 12:14 PM EST by Shaun Musgrave in 4 stars, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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I don't envy puzzle game designers. In our hobby, there are plenty of genres where you can more or less get away with looking at what the big dog is doing, slapping a slightly different look on it, and maybe tossing in a new hat or two if you're feeling particularly ambitious. You probably won't do extraordinarily well doing things that way, but it's certainly viable in some genres. Puzzle games are not one of those genres. Perhaps owing to the generally minimalist presentation most puzzle games use, people can spot gameplay imitations pretty quickly. Whether they'll care or not is another thing altogether, mind you. That's why I'm somewhat sympathetic to puzzle game developers who go back to the well a few times on an original concept. It's hard enough to come up with something new and fun, let alone trying to successfully reinvent the wheel thereafter. Just ask Alexey Pajitnov...

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