Category Archives: Reviews

'Lost Frontier' Review – Dang Near Perfect, I Reckon

Mika Mobile. I have a certain fondness and emotional connection to these guys. Back in 2011, I had just started my career as a mobile game critic. Working for a different site, I had the pleasure and privilege of playing and reviewing the Android version of Battleheart [$2.99] as one of my most early pieces of work. We’re talking second week on the job here. I have grown leaps and bounds since then, and so has Mika Mobile, upping the ante to the incredible Battleheart Legacy [$4.99]. Now they’re breaking into a new genre for the studio, and while I would say it isn’t as strong as the Battlehearts, it really is great. This is the weird west turn based strategy, Lost Frontier [$2.99]. Saddle up, folks. This one is a doozy...

Never Alone: Ki Edition [$4.99] is a game that seems to set out to do at least two things. First and foremost, it's trying to deliver an atmospheric puzzle-platformer game. It mostly succeeds at that, though it certainly makes a few mistakes that we see fairly often in this sub-genre. Never Alone also seeks to educate the player, at least a little bit, on the folklore and culture of the Inupiat people, and in this aim, it's a considerable success. The game doesn't force any of this on you, but rather focuses on the core gameplay and stunning visuals. It's an enjoyable game on those terms, but if you choose to delve into the extra content, you'll be able to appreciate Never Alone in a new light...




'Tormentum – Dark Sorrow' Review – Enthralled by Darkness

The App Store gods have been kind to my weird self this year, first with the gloriously twisted adventure tale of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, and now with another point and click adventure that is just wrapped in brutal art within a bleak world and some moral quandaries that leave you thinking.Tormentum – Dark Sorrow [$4.99] is an absolutely gorgeous powerhouse of an adventure game, and it is objectively incredible in many ways, even if it doesn’t appeal to your subjective tastes as hard as it does to mine...

Beat 'em ups started out with a simple enough premise. Punch stuff, get points. It's that easy! In an era where quarters equated to extra lives, and arcade owners could jack up the difficulty with the flip of a switch before the doors opened, it was a lucrative business. But once they hit home consoles things changed. Players could just opt for infinite lives, which, while great for your wallet, takes away some of the inherent nervousness of using up your very last quarter in X-Men while Magneto is flashing with a critical amount of life. It was a rush to be sure, and although Rockabilly Beatdown [$0.99] captures some of that magic, it lacks staying power...

'Human Resource Machine' Review - Sine of Greatness

Any video game which attempts to include educational elements has to run a very fine line or risk alienating a significant proportion of their potential userbase. Make it too simple and people who already understand the concepts will likely not find any enjoyment - however if it’s too difficult, it may be too overbearing and tedious for the average gamer to pick up. Most of all, however, it has to be an enjoyable experience, and Human Resource Machine [$4.99] manages to provide something for everyone while being a deceptively difficult yet rewarding initiation into coding...

Paradox Interactive is mostly known for its complex strategy games covering wars and situations both real and imagined. Its most famous series in that vein is probably Europa Universalis, but Paradox shepherds several successful strategy brands, including both internally developed titles and games where they act only as a publisher. Their latest iOS release brings one of their more popular strategy brands to the platform, but in a very different form. Hearts of Iron: War Stories [Free] is a spin-off of the World War 2 strategy series Hearts of Iron, which originated on Windows PCs in 2002 and just saw its most recent release a few days ago. Instead of the familiar tactical gameplay fans know and love, War Stories is a gamebook. You're no grand commander, but rather a young recruit to the British RAF. If nothing else, it's a change of pace for Paradox, and it shows...

The clicker meets the action RPG in Nonstop Knight [Free]. Essentially, the progression of action-RPGs with loot, character leveling, and elements of clickers like idle revenue generation, and prestiging to reset your progress in the name of permanent stat upgrades, are combined into one game. Your hero automatically runs through dungeons, and you watch them fight, triggering special timed abilities, and using the revenue you earn to buy more and better equipment. Normally, I'm opposed to clickers without clicking, but having the timed abilities to use means that there actually is a degree of meaningful interactivity. The only problem with Nonstop Knight is that its progression slows to crawl, and stops being meaningful way too soon...

'Pixel Cup Soccer 16' Review - There's Your Fairytale

It's rather telling that the best soccer titles on handheld devices are the simplest. The reductionist approach of games such as New Star Soccer [Free] - where only a few elements of the sport such as scoring goals are focused on - fits mobile gaming so much better, as instead of trying to port a console experience which simply doesn’t fit on the iPhone, they play to the smartphone’s strengths. Pixel Cup Soccer 16 [Free] is another fantastic addition to the growing roster of soccer games, and focuses - for better and for worse - on the simplest arcade elements of the beautiful game to provide an extremely fun footballing experience that is easy to pick up, hard to master and even more difficult to put down...

'Mr. Crab 2' Review - Crafty Crustacean

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June 3rd, 2016 5:30 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 4 stars, Action, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Universal
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When a developer puts a spin on the typical auto-running formula, I'm usually there to check it out. While virtual buttons work just fine after years of acclimating to the concept, certain experiences lend themselves well to automatic movement, but there can be concessions in terms of how much we as players are allowed to interact with them. Mr. Crab 2 [Free] doesn't improve much on the foundation that was already built by its predecessor, but as an expansion of sorts, it works just fine...

As we all know, love it or hate it, freemium is a concept that is never going away. That said, there is a very specific subset of freemium that I like to call freemium fan service games. When a popular franchise or intellectual property wants to cash in on their loyal fan-base, slapping together a freemium game set within that world seems to be the way to go. But you know what? I love it sometimes. I’m pretty susceptible to some good fan service myself, and sometimes; not often, but sometimes, it makes the whole game worthwhile. Games like Star Trek Timelines [Free], while largely disliked by our community, still appealed to me as a huge trekkie, and the fan service within that game was fantastic. Well, if you’re partial to the ‘Tales of’ franchise of JRPG’s, then Tales of Link [Free] is the freemium fan service game for you, and has nothing to do with The Legend of Zelda if that’s also where your mind immediately jumped...

'Sky Force Reloaded' Review - Burning up the Skies

iDreams' Sky Force Reloaded [Free] is a great example of how to make a fun shoot 'em up that is traditional yet fresh. The situation isn't really surprising: you fly upward through levels, shooting both moving enemy formations and ground-based enemies, while trying to rescue humans that are on the ground. Those humans are a bit disappointed if you don't pick them up, but hey – sometimes dodging the plethora of enemy bullets is more important. It's not exactly a ground-breaking shmup, but it wins some points for variety. Levels occasionally throw some bullet-hell-esque hazards, and vary how the boss fights work. One level even takes your weapons away and forces you to dodge hazards and collect stars, the game's currency. There's a long-term progress objective here: you can upgrade your ship's health, weapons, and powerups. You can collect ship parts for new ships with different stats, with one ship unlockable if you played Sky Force 2014 [Free]. ..

Chances are good that if you know any Japanese RPGs at all, you know Final Fantasy [$7.99]. It's also quite likely you've at least heard of Dragon Quest [$2.99], even if you haven't played it. Chrono Trigger [$9.99] and Secret Of Mana [$7.99] are both quite well-known worldwide, as well. It's not surprising, then, that Square Enix has diligently ported almost every one of those games to mobile over the last several years. With only a few holes remaining among their world-famous titles, however, Square Enix is probably going to have to dig a little deeper in their back catalogue if they want to find new candidates to port. This year we've already seen a lovely remake of Final Fantasy Adventure in the form of Adventures Of Mana [$13.99]. Perhaps it's fitting, then, that the next unexpected selection comes from the other series that started on Nintendo's Game Boy...

'VOEZ' review - Hits All The High Notes

Over the years, Rayark have made a name for themselves in the iOS community for consistently rolling out quality premium games on the App Store. 2015’s Implosion - Never Lose Hope [$4.99] was extremely well received both in our review and on the forums, and left us waiting for what the Taiwanese developers would astound us with next. VOEZ [Free] is, in many ways, a departure - it’s free to play and moves away from the exhilarating action based gameplay of Implosion. However, a return to rhythm games which initially solidified their reputation coupled with excellent production values and fresh spins on a tired and stale genre means Rayark have stuck to the formula which has won them over so many loyal fans...

'Hatoful Boyfriend' Review - Love, Pudding, And More Drama Than You Can Shake A Feather At

Hatoful Boyfriend [$4.99] is one of those games that grabs attention just with a description of its premise. It's a Japanese dating simulator where you play a human girl who attends a school for birds. Naturally, every last one of your potential suitors is some type of bird or another. Doves, pigeons, finches, and more can be wooed over the course of your character's sophomore year at the school. Unlike many games with a goofy premise, however, Hatoful Boyfriend manages to deliver a really enjoyable game. It knows when to play things straight, when to wink at the audience, when to bow to the absurd, and when to let things go off in surprising directions. In general, it's a parody of the visual novel genre, but its plot is so meticulously crafted, it stands perfectly well on its own even if you have no experience with the genre...

'Castles of Mad King Ludwig' Review - Some Assembly Required

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May 27th, 2016 1:30 PM EDT by Andrew Fretz in $6.99, 4 stars, Board, Reviews
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Castles of Mad King Ludwig[$2.99] is a curiously accurate description for the monstrous architectural nightmares that are created in the midst of playing this board game that is new to iOS. I have a lot of respect when you can capture so much of a game's essence in the title. If you are unfamiliar with the game, you owe it to yourself to get acquainted and prepare to toss feng shui out the window...

'Imbroglio' Review - It's Quite The Hoopla

There are two things I know when I fire up a new game from Michael Brough. One, its presentation is probably not going to win any awards. Two, I'm going to have a good time. Brough's got a talent for designing games whose gracefully skate the line between accessibility and depth. 868-HACK [$4.99] is the kind of game that should probably be on everyone's mobile device. I'm sure it isn't, but it ought to be. His latest game is Imbroglio [$3.99], and while it's clearly another spin on the single-screen strategy trappings that comprise many of Brough's offerings, it is a clever one. It has a similar appeal to 868-HACK, but throws in a few interesting twists for your brain to chew on...

'Mazes Of Karradash 2' Review - Go Big Or Go Home

I'm frequently impressed at how quickly some small developers can create a game. It hasn't even been a year since the original Mazes Of Karradash [$0.99] released, and here I am looking at an impressively large-scale sequel. The fundamentals of the game haven't changed much in Mazes Of Karradash 2 [$1.99], but everything is bigger, brighter, and more advanced. Whereas I tended to think of the first game as a lightweight RPG best fit for filling in short gaps of time, the sequel has become something you'll want to settle into a comfy chair to play...

'Leap Day' Review - Jump for Joy

'Leap Day' Review - Jump for Joy

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May 26th, 2016 12:00 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 4.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Platform, Reviews, Universal
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I always seem to gravitate towards Nitrome's games. I don't know what it is, but I always pick up their latest game not knowing that it's actually them. And there's a common theme after all these experiences -- I usually come out enjoying myself. With a neat new gimmick, now I can add Leap Day [Free] to that list...

'Mekorama' Review - Mechanical Valley

'Mekorama' Review - Mechanical Valley

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May 26th, 2016 11:00 AM EDT by Chris Carter in 4.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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Isometric puzzle games pretty much have me at hello. There's something about the lovely god-like viewpoint that gives me a sense of wonder, in addition to a strict sense of control, that I really dig. Monument Valley [$3.99] is pretty much the king of the mobile space when it comes to those experiences, yet a number of games have risen to the call and have cemented themselves as worthy adversaries. While Mekorama [Free] isn't as attractive when it comes to its art style (the base game clocks in at just 8MB!), it makes up for it in charm, and a pretty nifty level editor...

When the Apple Watch released, a number of developers attempted to take advantage of the buzz by either updating old games with new features, or by releasing new games specifically designed with the Apple Watch in mind. One of the more success of the latter group was Lifeline [$1.99], an interactive fiction game that had you guiding a student named Taylor who had been stranded on a moon. As with most games in this genre, the game mostly consisted of reading text and making the occasional choice. The gimmick came from the way the game incorporated real time into the story. Taylor would often become busy after you made a choice, and you'd have no choice but to wait until Taylor notified you, via your watch or your device, that the story could continue. While the game itself was quite simple relative to other gamebooks, this element gave Lifeline the twist it needed to stand out from the pack...

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