Category Archives: Reviews

'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
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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 [$3.99] 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...

'Pang Adventures' Review - Pang, Nab It

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April 20th, 2016 11:01 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4 stars, Action, Arcade, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews
$3.99 Buy Now

Until now, publisher Dotemu's work on iOS has been mostly limited to bringing back beloved classics in their original forms. Their releases have run the gamut from arcade shoot-em-ups like R.Type [$1.99] to point-and-click PC titles like Sanitarium [$3.99], to say nothing of the work they've done for other companies like SNK and Square Enix. Pang Adventures [$3.99] is something of an unusual case for the prolific French publisher, as it's a new game based on an old favorite franchise. You might remember the series under the names Pang, Buster Bros., Pomping World, Magical Michael, or if you're particularly well-informed, Cannon Ball. We'll go with Pang for the purposes of this review...

Well, here it is, everyone. Magikiras [Free] is easily one of the worst gamebooks I've played in my years of reviewing, and hands-down the most painful. It's absurdly long given its meager premise, poorly-written, and just plain boring. There are tons of spelling and grammar mistakes, and many other instances of incorrect English. It's linear to a fault, with almost every choice in the book save a few very important ones coming down to the same set of approaches listed in the same order. Even those chances come entirely too sporadically, however. You'll mostly just be tapping through page after page of banal text, praying for a release that is perpetually too far away...

The Kingdom Hearts series is one of the top-selling RPG brands in the world. It's hard not to be cynical about its origins, as it was a clear attempt to mash together two things that are very popular, especially in Japan, to see how much money would come out. The answer was, a lot. To the credit of the various development teams who have worked on the franchise, they've made the best of a very unnatural mash-up. The original game sort of coasted on the goodwill of fans and largely inoffensive gameplay, but some of the follow-up games have been surprisingly high quality. Even the failures have tended to be interesting experiments worth messing around with just to appreciate their quirkiness...

It sometimes feels like Marvel is working towards a future where there will be a free-to-play game for every possible genre. The quality of those games has run the gamut from the bland Marvel: War Of Heroes to the surprisingly enjoyable Marvel Future Fight [Free]. Somewhere in the upper end of that range sits Marvel: Avengers Alliance, a rather fun game with a battle system pulled from turn-based RPGs. The one thing that ties most of these games together aside from the license is that no matter how well they start off, they all seem to end up becoming worse over the long run. The original Avengers Alliance is probably the worst example of that, with its poorly-implemented PVP, serious issues with cheating players, and completely broken character balance. At a certain point, it felt like Marvel Entertainment just gave up on it...

Retro City Rampage DX [$4.99] finally hits iOS. Took it long enough, eh? Brian Provinciano's "what if Grand Theft Auto was an 8-bit game that paid homage to every classic game and notable 1980s cultural phenomenon" title had landed everywhere but mobile. It was on desktop (PC, Mac, and Linux!), the Vita (on cartridge too!), 3DS, Wii U (not the Wii), Xbox One, PS3 and PS4, even a demo for NES! But the new platform releases started to dry up over time, even after the DX update to the original game that brought some new features and tweaks was released. And yet, no mobile version. Yet, one night it unexpectedly showed up! And while I have some issues with the game, I'm quite glad it showed up...

LEGO games on iOS are, by this point, nothing if not reliable. Apart from the earliest releases on the platform and the occasional experiment, the LEGO games based on licensed properties all essentially do the same things. They tell (or retell) a humorous story using a selection of stages from the console versions, offer up some mindless action gaming, and have a ton of unlockables. How much you enjoy them usually depends on how much you like the property involved, but all of the games kind of fall in that sticky zone that lay just between boring and interesting, and LEGO Jurassic World [$4.99] isn't any different. Except, you know, that this one has playable dinosaurs...

While there's a zombie game released every five seconds, there aren't nearly enough alien games out there. I mean sure, there's a handful of titles based on the actual Alien franchise with Xenomorphs running around causing havoc, but think of how many games are around with actual aliens, whether it be little green men or humanoid creatures from another planet. With a bold and obvious title, Crazy Alien Invaders [Free] seeks to rectify this unfortunate shortage...

If there's one genre I almost never get to experience, it's fishing. I have plenty of nostalgia for SEGA's huge line of bass-centric games as well as their amazing arcade machines where you can actually feel the tension in the rod, but in this modern era, I generally don't go out of my way to play a console or mobile fishing game. That changed with Fishing Break [Free], and although it has a rather aggressive monetization strategy, it still hits the spot...

Generally speaking, I'm not the sort of gamebook fan that replays books terribly often after finishing them. I'm usually okay with getting whatever story and ending comes from my choices, so long as it's an ending and not a "game over". With The Daring Mermaid Expedition [Free], however, I found myself going back a few times. It's a relatively short adventure, and it's almost impossible to satisfy your curiosity about the game's mysteries in a single play. The author takes a light approach to whole affair, and there's a playful feeling running through the whole story. I can't say it's one of my favorites from Choice Of Games, but if it catches you in the right mood, you'll probably enjoy it...

'Disney Crossy Road' Review - Mickey Can't Beat a Train

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Such is the philosophy that Disney Crossy Road [Free] abides by. It pretty much lives up to its title, in that it's Crossy Road [Free] but with Disney characters and themes. And it is a Disney geek's dream. It would have been easy to just throw Disney characters into the classic Crossy Road level and call it a day, but it's quite clear that Disney and Hipster Whale wouldn't just do that. They threw in over a hundred characters at launch, with themes that don't just change the graphics, but add little tweaks to the gameplay. And they added cool little notes that make this something every Disney fan needs to play. Plus, Crossy Road is still great...

'Mimpi Dreams' Review - Dream A Little Dream

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April 5th, 2016 11:45 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, Platform, Puzzle, Reviews
Free Buy Now

The original Mimpi [Free] was a cute, somewhat short puzzle-platformer with inspired art design and serviceable controls. Mimpi Dreams [Free], the sequel, is a cute, somewhat short puzzle-platformer with inspired art design and excellent controls. The original game was an excellent little bit of fun and still holds up quite well today, and the follow-up offers up another tasty serving with a few useful refinements. While its brevity and relative lack of difficulty might turn off those looking for something more substantial to sink their teeth into, Mimpi Dreams has enough appeal to carry it far...

'King Rabbit' Review - The King Has Returned

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April 5th, 2016 10:50 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $0.99, 5 stars, Action, Arcade, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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Making video game sequels has always been a tricky business, but in the modern age of updates and add-ons, I can't even imagine how difficult it is to make the best choice for a follow-up. On the App Store in particular, the audience has become accustomed to getting reasonably significant additional content delivered as free updates, with games like Angry Birds [$0.99] and Candy Crush Saga [Free] getting enough free add-ons to construct a dozen sequels under the old rules. Unless you're one of the biggest dogs in the yard, however, it doesn't take long for such efforts to yield weak dividends, since relatively few players ever actually play through all of the content in the base game to begin with. Now, if you're making the kind of game where you can make your sequel look obviously different in some regard, it's less of a problem, but for puzzle games, it can be difficult to sway people over to a new installment...

While many genres are forced to stick with conventions (action games typically have an ending, for example), puzzle games can basically do whatever they want. That's both a boon and a curse, as developers can often completely blow your mind or go so far out there that the concept doesn't quite land. Perfect Angle [$1.99] actually manages to encapsulate both of those concepts, oddly enough...

Monkey Swingers [Free] is a game that has some immediate appeal, but it doesn't take long for it start pushing you away. Not only is the game quite tough, it also demands a fair bit of concentration, and a good run usually lasts longer than the excitement does. If you intend on getting your little monkey up into space and beyond, you need to demonstrate a high level of skill, but also set aside a reasonably big chunk of time to dedicate to the task. I like the idea behind the game well enough, and it's certainly got a nice system of upgrades and fun cosmetic items to unlock, but it just doesn't come together as well as I'd hope...

'Dirac' Review - Atoms @ Home

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March 31st, 2016 1:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $1.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Drawing, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$1.99 Buy Now

With a name like Mediocre, it’s almost like the studio is baiting reviewers. “Go ahead,” they're saying, “just try to make some lame joke about our games being mediocre.” Of course we can’t say those things, because Smash Hit [Free] and Does Not Commute [Free] (and earlier titles like Sprinkle [$1.99]) were outstanding games. The irony in their name proves the studio is supremely confident in the quality of their products, and they've certainly earned it...

'Exploding Kittens' is a Blast of a Game That's a Couple of Features Away from Being Amazing

How can hurting kittens be any fun? I mean, they truly are the cutest beings ever, and yet here I am reviewing a game called Exploding Kittens [$1.99], which I very much enjoy playing. I suppose it's somewhat similar to playing Cards Against Humanity and making the weirdest, most inappropriate card combos just for laughs. But, I digress. Exploding Kittens is the digital version of the Kickstarter-darling card game with the same name that's gone to break all kinds of records. It's not the most complex card game, but it was never aiming for that; rather, the physical version of Exploding Kittens bet on the cute art combined with the totally inappropriate theme of hurting cute kittens and managed to deliver a quick, fun card game that hits the right balance between being casual and still having enough complexity to keep it interesting after multiple rounds...

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