Category Archives: Reviews

It's always interesting to see what kind of games follow when a novel idea hits big. The first wave is usually composed of shameless clones, but after everyone gets those out of their systems, you start to see some interesting, enjoyable twists. Earlier this year, we took a look at Dungeon Tiles [Free], a game that fused some light RPG mechanics into the core mechanics of Threes! [$2.99], adding an extra layer of tension to the swipe 'n' merge gameplay. Stencilsmith [$0.99] takes a broadly similar approach to that game, but also introduces crafting aspects to give you even more to do. The game has been out for a few months already, but it just recently got a great update that made me take a closer look at it. While it's not much to look at and comes off a little rough in places, the added ideas it brings to the table makes for an entertaining twist on a favorite...

'Dofus Touch' Review - A Great MMO, Now on Mobile

'Dofus Touch' Review - A Great MMO, Now on Mobile

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October 7th, 2016 12:32 PM EST by Andrew Fretz in 5 stars, Free, Massive Multiplayer (MMO), Reviews
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About a year ago I had a sad realization that mobile MMO isn't really a living genre. For better or worse, mobile game development is most effective when creating innovative and elegant gameplay on a flat, straight forward canvas. Unfortunately not much of that is what you expect to see in an mmo. It should come as no surprise that one of the first jolts of life being thrust into the rotting carcass of the genre is about as close to a straight PC port as you could get. Dofus Touch [Free] is out now for iPhone and iPad and outside of some of the most recent updates this game is a carbon copy of the PC version. ..




'Jade Empire: Special Edition' Review - Everybody Was Kung Fu Grinding

As one of the most well-known RPG developers in recent times, Bioware is primarily known for two things: Dungeons & Dragons-style fantasy, and space operas. Back in 2005, as the original Xbox was fading out and the Xbox 360 was on the horizon, Bioware was able to slide a little something different down the line. Jade Empire [$9.99] was a martial arts fantasy action RPG inspired by wuxia films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers. It was the developer's first real foray into incorporating real-time action into the RPG framework that had become known for, a blend that woulds  be revisited with greater success in the Mass Effect series. While it was well-received critically, the game failed to sell anywhere near as well as Bioware's other titles, so the developer went back to the more reliable fantasy/sci-fi salt mines. That's a shame, because Jade Empire is an excellent game with some flaws that could have been buffed out to marvelous effect in a sequel...

Back when I reviewed developer AJTilley's first visual novel release on iOS, Sword of Asumi [$1.99], I found myself underwhelmed by the weak follow-through on what I felt was a fairly good premise, but had some hope for future releases from the team. Well, we now have a another game from AJTilley, and I have to say that I'm a lot less optimistic about their future work. Divine Slice of Life [$3.99], like the developer's previous effort, has a good enough premise. You play as the reincarnation of Zeus who had been living a normal student life until two demigoddesses came crashing in, demanding you marry one of them and ascend to the Pantheon. Silly? Sure, but romantic comedies often are. Unfortunately, just as in Sword of Asumi, a decent premise ends up being entirely squandered. Somehow, it's even worse this time around...

While the console and PC versions of 2k Sports’ NBA 2k series typically enjoy some significant improvements year to year, the mobile versions are typically left to iterative improvements. Maybe it’s the lack of multiplayer or the slimmed down MyCareer mode, but each year has typically brought small, but welcome changes. Such is the case again with NBA 2k17 [$7.99], which brings to the mobile series a fresh paint job, new controls, and a streamlined MyCareer mode. For the most part, there’s no doubt the changes are for the better. The real question becomes whether it’s worth the upgrade...

Back in the early 2000s, myself and millions of other gamers and wanna-be musicians alike spent hundreds of hours playing the Guitar Hero series. It dawned on me pretty early on that I was never going to be Thom Yorke or Tom Morello, so I settled with the next best thing - clicking a plastic controller in the shape of a guitar in time to music on a screen. If PewDiePie's Tuber Simulator [Free] is equally indicative of the career of an online video maker, I sympathise somewhat with the Swedish celebrity’s plight - having a job consisting purely of decorating your living space, waiting for items to be delivered, and having to deal with eagle couriers invading your home every couple of minutes does not sound like the dream occupation many envision it to be. In all seriousness, Tuber Simulator is not the next Game Dev Story [$4.99], and nor does it try to be - with some rather simple yet intricate and absorbing gameplay, coupled with PewDiePie’s signature humor and charm that is bound to go down well with his millions of die-hard fans, the game strikes a perfect balance between not taking itself seriously while being intriguing enough to keep interest long after the first cardboard box has been bought...

'Bullet Hell Monday' Review - Another Manic Monday

Last year, we were treated to a pair of excellent shooters by Japanese indie developer Masayuki Ito. Titled .Decluster [$2.99] and .Decluster Zero [$4.99], these shoot-em-ups combined a unique visual style with tense bullet-hell action. The scoring mechanisms largely surrounded the ability to cancel enemy bullets. The more bullets you canceled, the more points you would earn. This encouraged you to use risky strategies, making for some seriously thrilling close calls. The stage designs and enemy placements in the games were top-notch, too. The .Decluster games were sold as paid games with no IAPs, and that's probably one of the biggest points where Ito's latest shooter, Bullet Hell Monday [Free], diverges from his previous titles...

Fox's animation shows have been dominating TV for quite some time now. Family Guy, Futurama, Bob's Burgers, American Dad, and King of the Hill all offer their own specific kind of craziness and humor. It's not surprising, then, that Kongregate decided to develop a card game based on all five shows, and the result is hilarious, as to be expected. Yet not all is rosy in Animation Throwdown: The Quest for Cards [Free]; while you'll laugh at the silly card combos and be entertained for quite a bit with the gameplay, eventually you hit so many timers that you'll quickly regret your investment in the game...

'Antiquia Lost' Review - Goo Girl Gone

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You don't even have to squint for Antiquia Lost [Free / $4.99] to resemble the recent Asdivine games released by Kemco. In terms of its visuals, mechanics, and systems, it's barely changed from EXE-Create's last few games for the prolific RPG publisher. There are a few small twists, most notably that one of the main characters has an unusual method of leveling up, but for the most part, if you've played any of the EXE-Create RPGs that use weapon customization as a core mechanic, you'll know what to expect here. That's not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose, but it's also not a very exciting thing. The most noteworthy part of Antiquia Lost is in how it advances Kemco's IAP monetization techniques, and that's not really the kind of dinner bell most of us want to hear...

Zombie titles really need to innovate more-so than a lot of other types of games these days. The market is just so saturated that the mere notion of "survival" itself just isn't enough, and there at least needs to be an interesting hook involved beyond the solitary concept of continuing to exist. Skyhill [$2.99] does that, even if the magic doesn't last as long as the developers intended it to...

'Steins;Gate' Review - Desperately Seeking a Good Time

There's a certain attraction to time travel stories. Sometimes, they're about comparing the present to the past, particularly by sticking a fish out of their water. Other times, they're used as a way to think about the future and the promise it holds. Most of them really come down to a simple question: what would the present be like if things had gone differently in the past? Ultimately, time travel stories are more often than not morality tales about appreciating what we have and who we are. A warning about greed and how it can leave you with less than you had. A means of dealing with regret and the paralysis it can bring. Well, except for Back to the Future. That one's about making out with a younger version of your hot mom and getting a new truck...

Marriage is a tricky, tricky act, isn't it? Quite often those joined in holy matrimony don't really fit well together, and even when they do, compromises must abound if there is to be any kind of happiness in their new union. And when the marriage is of two very different people, the challenges are even greater. If you've played Minecraft (either the mobile or the PC version) and any of the Telltale games, then you already know why I started my review of Minecraft: Story Mode [Free] with these metaphors. When Telltale told the world that it would apply its narrative-based formula on Minecraft, the game that's now synonymous with sandbox, many gamers wondered whether Telltale could pull it off and whether Minecraft players would bother with a developer that put their beloved open-world game in a narrative straight-jacket, possibly chopping off any parts that refused to obey the narrative techniques that Telltale has used in its other series...

'Ember' Review - Keeping the Old-School RPG Light Burning

When 505 Games and N-Fusion released their old-school inspired RPG Ember [$9.99] last week, there were a few interesting things we noted. First, with a stated longevity of 30+ hours (coupled with no IAP), it’s certainly one of the longest premium RPGs we’ve played in awhile. Second, as a near simultaneous release with the PC version, it’s one of those increasingly rare games where the developer isn’t trying to hide the fact that a mobile version was developed concurrently with the PC version. Both are typically good indicators of a well-made game, and Ember certainly fits the bill. It does an excellent job paying homage to the old-school RPG and its controls make an acceptable transition to touch screen...

Did you play Day of the Tentacle [$4.99] and think "I like how this game makes me feel stupid, but would like it better if it was a platformer?" Well, that's Donut Games' Vulture Island [$2.99] in a nutshell. It sends you on the quests of a LucasArts point-and-click adventure game, but with 2D platforming. You will use items in weird ways on other items, trying to solve puzzles that will make you curse yourself and slap your forehead over how obvious the solution seems after the fact. It's all that fun, but as a platforming game, a clever combination that's made for another winner from Donut Games...

'Solitairica' Review - The Solitaire Roguelike Your Grandma Could Enjoy

Solitaire is quite possibly the most popular video game of all time, thanks to the game's inclusion in Windows in particular. Many a bored office worker, student, and grandparent has sunk hours into this classic card game. Now, with games like Card Crawl [$2.99] bringing modern roguelike influence into card games, it seems only fitting that Solitairica [$3.99] should come into existence, bringing something more closely resembling actual solitaire to the solitaire roguelike subgenre. And it promises to steal countless hours of your time, even if you're not necessarily a card game player...

'Sorcery! 4' Review - The End of an Incredible Journey

It's been over three years since inkle released their adaptation of the first book in the Steve Jackson's Sorcery! series. In a lot of ways, that app redefined what players expected from a mobile version of a gamebook. It would have been a far simpler matter for inkle to do the expected thing and do a straight conversion of the original books. They had the engine for it, and the series is well-regarded enough that it probably would have done fairly well. Instead, the developers decided to make something that a physical book would have a hard time approximating, while at the same time appealing to the fairly large overlap between gamebook readers and tabletop gaming fans. The first game mostly relied on a unique presentation and reworked battle mechanics, but the following two games brought more and more complexity to the table. Sorcery! 3 [$4.99] was so near to a full-on RPG that its roots were hard to spot at times...

When I first played Exploding Kittens on mobile, I was quite happy with the way the physical had turned digital; the subtle additions of animation and sounds here and there really helped bring the game to life, making it even more fun to play than the original. Sushi Go! [$4.99] has followed a similar path in its journey from card to digital with the developer keeping the game's original card art but adding subtle animations that help make the game quite charming and make it feel more like a digital game than a straight port of a card game. Sushi Go! isn't perfect - there's limited interaction with other players (no emotes or anything like that), which detracts from the social aspect of a card game, and the iPad UI doesn't take advantage of the screen as well as it could. Despite these issues, Sushi Go! is a fun, quick card game that might also put a smile on your face every time you play it...

'Magic Mansion' Review - Monochrome Monotony

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September 15th, 2016 1:15 PM EST by Chris Carter in 3 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Platform, Reviews, Universal
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If your game is going to be based on an endless principle, it better have a good hook. I'm not thinking narrowly in terms of unlocks, but a fundamental design philosophy that encourages the player to keep chipping away at their high score. A compelling art style and a responsive control scheme help, as endless games are generally great in quick spurts, and not with long marathon sessions...

By now, we all know what to do if a large meteor is on a course to strike the Earth: throw Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, and Steve Buscemi in a rocket loaded with a nuclear bomb, point them at the rock, and let the magic happen. They're our planet's ace in the hole. But what should we do if not one meteor is headed for us, but rather five? Ten? One hundred? Even if you throw in Casey, it's not enough Affleckpower to take care of that many flying chunks of absolute destruction. Such is the nightmare scenario considered by Atomic Super Lander [$2.99], the latest action game from Crescent Moon Games and bitWeird Games...

'GunBird 2' Review - Classic Cute 'em Up

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September 13th, 2016 11:42 AM EST by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Shooter
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Shoot 'em ups have a rich, long history, perhaps one of the longest in all of gaming. While Pong and Pac-Man were the first for many, Galaga was right in the mix as well, and with the advent of easy to manage digital marketplaces we're seeing a resurgence of some of those classic games right here in the mobile space. Cave pretty much opened the shmup floodgates after some stragglers at the start of the Android and iOS movement, but there's plenty of other competitors vying for attention as well. That includes Psikyo, who developed the Gunbird series way back in 1998 on arcades (and eventually the Dreamcast). And here we are 18 years later with a mobile edition. Flaws and all, it's a pretty fantastic series of events...

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