Category Archives: Reviews

I think there's a pretty good game buried somewhere in The First Tactics [$0.99]. It's hard to be sure at times because there are so many bad choices with the presentation. If you can cut through the obvious vestiges of the game being designed as free-to-play, and somehow comprehend an extremely poor English localization that only makes things more confusing the more it tries to explain itself, you'll find a small-scale yet pleasingly complex turn-based strategy game. I'm just not sure if the good part of the game is worth dealing with the multiple barriers it's encased in, particularly in a genre that has so many strong examples on the platform that don't require you to jump through such hoops...

Cartoon Network has been my go-to animated block for years. I remember when it first debuted (complete with plenty of teaser commercials) and hosted master-crafted shows like Dexter's Lab and Powerpuff Girls (which is coming back by the way!) and smiling throughout. Over time Adult Swim ushered me into my teens. In recent years it gave birth to Adventure Time and my personal favorite, Regular Show, while publishing games on the side...




'The Quest: Cursed Stone' Review - On The Quest Again

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February 23rd, 2016 2:45 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 3.5 stars, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
$2.99 Buy Now

In a lot of ways, Redshift's The Quest [$4.99] is one of the best mobile RPGs. Its huge open world is a great place to lose hours in, but its quest-based structure makes it equally suitable for shorter play sessions. You can enjoy it as a straightforward hack 'n' zap, skipping around from dungeon to dungeon smashing the monsters that get in your way, or you can dig in deeper, building crafting and alchemy skills, collecting flowers for recipes, reading books, and so on. Still, most games like this have an end, and when you run out of things to do, that's usually that. In the case of The Quest, however, a massive amount of content has been added through expansion packs, most of which have been handled by third-party developer Zarista Games. Their latest effort is Cursed Stone [$2.99], an adventure that sees you trying to save a small fishing town by restoring the magical stone that brings them luck...

'Rogue Agent' Review - Sneak and Spy

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February 23rd, 2016 11:47 AM EDT by Chris Carter in $1.99, 4 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Strategy, Universal
Free Buy Now

I think we'll be playing stealth games forever. While combat is what most people crave, there's a definite appeal to sneaking around and avoiding conflict that so many people resonate with. That's where Rogue Agent [Free] comes in, providing tons of subversion in the shadows while maintaining a quasi-interesting clandestine storyline...

Some games we play for the excitement, some we play for scares, and some we play for the challenge. And then there are games like Tsuro [$4.99], the digital port of the 2004 board game, that are all about introspection, the kind of game you play while lying on a couch with a glass of wine (or your spirit of choice) in one hand and the iPad in the other. Thunderbox Entertainment gladly took the challenge of bringing Tsuro to mobile and has done a pretty good job representing the abstract board game on the iPad and iPhone screens. Going with a "zero UI" philosophy, the developers tried to create a sense of immediacy between the player and the board and they have, mostly, succeeded. They tried to give us a faithful representation of how it feels to play the physical game, but at the same time also added 3 new ways to play the game, expanding Tsuro's challenge and replayability...

The problem with gaming headsets is that you're often trading quality for convenience. And the expensive gaming headsets don't often mean that you're getting a better product if you care about sound quality. Many premium brands focus on style and branding and the sound quality suffers. If you want to drop some serious coin on a gaming headset, don't. Buy a good set of headphones, preferably open-back ones, and add your own mic. But there is a line where the cost of adding a mic to a set of headphones is prohibitive. Right now, the HyperX Clous sits on that line. Audiophile communities name these as one of the few gaming headsets they recommend. So, after a PAX South meeting with HyperX, I took the Cloud II for a spin...

Ellipsis [$2.99] feels at first like it should be a tilt game, taking place in a small arena and with all sorts of abstract shapes. Thankfully, it doesn't – it would be awkward if it and Abzorb [$2.99] came out the same week – but instead is a touch-based game. And the touch part of the experience plays a major role. You move your blue circle around, trying to hit the blue targets, while dodging anything that's red. Blue = good, red = deadly. But the game is all about dodging hazards while collecting the things you need to unlock the exit, while trying to perform as well as possible. It's a game whose quality is pretty solid, but it reveals some clever things and does small things well. Ellipsis is a tough game to evaluate, because it might not reach the dizzying heights of the absolute best games, but its design is subtly brilliant, with few demerits...

'Tennis Champs Returns' Review - A New Definition of Love

Sports video games are in a tough spot, in my opinion. They have benefited greatly from hardware advancement over the decades, and are able to offer much more accurate simulations of their real-life counterparts with things like incredible graphics and advanced physics and AI. But along with that sports games have undoubtedly become more complex, and are often difficult to approach with their many button inputs and moves. I also feel that sometimes sports games fail to capture the essence of the sport they're trying to mimic, as even though the action on screen is faithful the their real-life counterparts it often doesn't "feel" like you're actually playing that sport. More like just inputting your button combinations and watching what unfolds...

I question why Rayman Classic [$4.99] had to be brought back from the depths of 1994. The proper context to play Rayman is when you have literally nothing else to play. Say, if you bought an Atari Jaguar; man cannot live on Tempest 2000 alone. And if you bought a Game Boy Advance, Rayman Advance was one of the launch titles, a welcome respite from Super Mario Advance. But the thing is that Rayman was always a frustrating and difficult game. And we live in a universe where there's limitless games, and several great games starring Rayman to play besides this. Rayman is only worth it as a history lesson...

'Final Fantasy 9' Review - Celebrating The Series In Style

I had often wondered if we were going to see Final Fantasy 9 [$20.99] on iOS. As the only installment of the PlayStation 1 trio without a PC port, it was going to take a lot more work to get the game going on other platforms. At the same time, it's also the lowest-selling among its PlayStation peers, and while it seems to be generally more well-liked than Final Fantasy 8 these days, it's hard to say how well Square Enix would be able to financially justify what would have to be a high-effort port. Well, I guess the numbers must have finally worked out, because not only is Final Fantasy 9 now available on iOS, the quality of the port is well beyond my expectations. This is a great RPG from one of Square Enix's best eras, and it's been given an exceptional amount of care in the transition to mobile...

Shadow Blade: Reload [$4.99] is not a sequel to Shadow Blade [$1.99], but an enhanced re-release of the original. The best way to describe this in relation to the original Shadow Blade is that this is like returning to a piece of work completed a while ago, and doing some further work to it to improve it in some way. For example, one of my favorite bands, Fair to Midland, had a bunch of songs that appeared on earlier albums that they cleaned up and re-recorded along with new material for their major label debut, Fables from a Mayfly...

'Pull My Tongue' Review - Harm a Harm a Harm a Chameleon

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February 12th, 2016 2:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $0.99, 4 stars, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
99¢ Buy Now

For me, one of the marks of a good puzzle game is when the main mechanics are so simple and intuitive that you have a hard time seeing how the game could possibly get challenging--and then it does. Pull My Tongue [$0.99], the latest game published by Noodlecake, is kinda like that. The first level introduces you to the core concept, which basically never changes: There’s a lizard who wants a piece of popcorn, and all you need to do is pull the tongue out of his mouth until it reaches his buttery prize. Sure, the game eventually starts adding more things to get in his way, but at the end of the day you’ll still be simply stretching the tongue to the popcorn...

Card games have existed long before Hearthstone came around, and will exist long after it is shut down, however many years away we are from that point. But there's no denying that some titles lift a little too generously from Blizzard's recent cash cow, almost to the point of creating a new "Hearth" subgenre. That's basically what Kung Fu Panda: Battle of Destiny [Free] does, but with more...erm...pandas. Wait Hearthstone already has pandas! Well this has...Mr. Ping and a few lines from Jack Black...

'Splash Cars' Review - Black and White and Sped All Over

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February 12th, 2016 10:29 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
Free Buy Now

When you first lay eyes on Craneballs’ latest game Splash Cars [Free], there’s a good chance the phrase “Pako [$0.99] meets Nintendo’s Splatoon” might come to your mind. And let’s face it: if it didn’t have the painting gimmick of the latter, the game would probably be little more than a clone of the former. In my mind, though, I can’t help but see the 1998 film Pleasantville. It depicted a black and white town from a fictional 1950’s TV show, and how the characters (and town) slowly begin turning multicolored as they are introduced to the messy, complicated joys of real life for the first time. Certainly going on a high-speed chase would have counted, right?..

Knotmania [$2.99] is the kind of game that's best enjoyed by people who get satisfaction from untangling complicated wire tangles. I don't know how headphone cords get so magically knotted up with no difficulty like that, but at least in Knotmania, you're dealing with living worm-like creatures that tangle themselves up of their own volition. Your goal: untangle those suckers. Frankly, it's the only hypothesis I've seen that makes sense. Wires are alive, and Knotmania is training for the great wire war that lies ahead of us...

'Ys Chronicles 2' Review - Adol's Back, And He's All Fired Up

Last May, DotEmu surprised us with an iOS port of Nihon Falcom's Ys Chronicles 1 [$4.99], a PC remake of one of the best action-RPGs of the 1980s, Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished. Aside from a rough job on the English translation, the port came out surprisingly well. While the lack of an attack button has always caused some misunderstandings on other platforms, body-checking enemies into oblivion makes an awful lot of sense on a touch-screen device with no buttons to speak of. The game itself is just as great as it has ever been, with a blistering fast pace and amazing soundtrack that few other action-RPGs can match. The biggest downer of Ys Chronicles 1 is that it ends on a cliffhanger that leads directly into Ys Chronicles 2 [$4.99]. The two games are frequently packed together due to their tight continuity and are best enjoyed as one complete adventure. DotEmu quickly confirmed the second game would be coming to iOS as well, and here we are...

I am a major fan of Orangepixel's games. The solo developer should be remembered by history as a unique, standout artist, despite his games not being the kind of artsy-fartsy stuff you'd typically expect to be called artsy. But it's because his games always have this unique touch to them in the art and gameplay that makes them feel unique compared to other games, even ones from consistent studios. The games having this consistent vision behind them is part of what makes them special. An Orangepixel game looks and feels like something only he could have made...

As I've said before, there's nothing wrong with chilling out with a mindless arcade game. I grew up playing flashy shooters and beat 'em ups just as often as deep RPGs and point and click adventure games, and both philosophies scratch certain itches on any given day. The former mindset is most evident in Call of Commander [$0.99], which has some RPG elements, but mostly caters towards the part of your brain that likes to shut itself off...

Blue Lola Headphones Review: Good Microphone Maker Also Good at Headphones

Blue Microphones has been most known for their, well, microphones. It's not uncommon to see someone at least somewhat dedicated to higher-quality microphones than built-in setups to be rocking the Blue Snowball or Yeti. Blue has started getting into headphones as well, and their second pair, Lola, is a fantastic entry into the market. The Lola is a bit bulky, but it offers fantastic, balanced sound for the price...

'Adventures Of Mana' Review - The Secret Is Simplicity

Adventures Of Mana [$13.99] is a remake of a classic Square Enix game, something that could be said for more than half of the company's iOS releases. Yet it's quite different from the usual Square Enix remake in that it's positively restrained in how much it chooses to change from the original game. It's especially interesting in light of the fact that said original game, Seiken Densetsu/Final Fantasy Adventure/Mystic Quest (henceforth Final Fantasy Adventure), was a 1991 release for the original Game Boy. On top of that, there was already one high-profile remake of the game, 2003's Sword Of Mana for the Game Boy Advance, which changed and added in a lot of things. Seeing Adventures Of Mana essentially present an early handheld action-RPG without doing much more than re-rendering everything in 3D and cleaning up the translation is certainly unexpected, but it's also most welcome...

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