Category Archives: Reviews

'Nightgate' Review - Enter The Matrix

Semidome made a splash with their artsy debut Last Voyage [$1.99]. It was an artsy yet eclectic experience, as its ten chapters ran the gamut of gameplay styles to convey its abstract story. Semidome isn't done conveying this abstract digital atmosphere in their second title Nightgate [Free]. It positions itself as a more singular experience, but one that succeeds in creating a fascinating landscape for players to experience for just a little while...

Let's address it immediately: Treasure Buster [$0.99] is obviously inspired by Mixi's Monster Strike [Free]. Much like this developer's previous game, Slayin [$0.99], this game initially comes off uncomfortably similar to the object of its homage. Luckily, also like Slayin, Treasure Buster ultimately differentiates itself well enough to transcend the copycat label and settle in as an interesting variation on a tried and tested mechanic. In fact, I would say that this game ditches a lot of what makes Monster Strike so much fun, choosing to create its own brand of enjoyment by adding a number of gameplay elements that Monster Strike doesn't have. As usual for a game published by FDG, Treasure Buster also looks and sounds great, fusing a bang-on retro presentation to a very modern gameplay structure...




Everyone has a genre they couldn't live without. For some youngsters, it's survival games, which can extend to Minecraft. For others, it's sports games, and the thrill of drafting out a new fantasy team with incoming college players thrown into the fray. For me, my choice ebbs and flows depending on the year, but the most consistent one I'm always falling back on is platformers. Whether it's those of the mascot variety with strict adherence to 3D standards and wonky cameras, or the tried and true 2D approach, you can put pretty much any one of them in front of me and I'll at least give it a go. Tons of Bullets [$1.99] caught my eye in name alone, but it ended up being about more than just blasting things...

'Really Bad Chess' Review - Rook No Further

It would be extremely easy to start this review by alluding to the ironic self-deprecation of the title, and affirm how Really Bad Chess [Free] is actually a Really Good Game. However, in truth, the title is not too far off the mark. Compared to the balance, strategic depth, and elegance of the age-old board game, Zach Gage’s most recent release is really bad chess. It is highly likely you will start a game with an abundance of the most powerful pieces versus a far weaker opponent, and it will likely not take as much tactical meticulousness to break down their defence; anyone looking for a chess simulator will undoubtedly be disappointed. However, once preconceptions of similar titles are left behind, Really Bad Chess manages to turn a tiresome, tricky and intimidating game into one perfectly suited for the immediacy of mobile gaming. While it may share similarities in the pieces, and how they can move, to the game it takes its name from, Really Bad Chess is an entirely different beast. Through prioritising unpredictability and offensive play over experience, Zach Gage has crafted an essential puzzle experience for anyone even remotely interested in strategy games on the App Store...

For English console gamers, ASCII's RPG Maker for the original PlayStation was likely their first chance to make their own game without actually learning how to program. It was a very limited version of the software, but you could make a basic JRPG with it if you were dedicated enough. I imagine most players bounced off of it, though, since it took a lot of time to make anything really worthwhile. Those who stuck with it likely found their way to the more robust PC versions of RPG Maker, which started getting official English releases from 2005 onward. Since 2010, the English versions of the PC RPG Maker have been handled by Degica. That same publisher has now released an iOS RPG creation tool called RPG Creator [Free]. It's not from the same people as RPG Maker, but it certainly does a good job of approximating its earlier incarnations...

'Pumped BMX 3' Review - A Successful 360 Spin

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October 13th, 2016 11:05 AM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $3.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Sports
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The original Pumped BMX [$1.99] was a fun, surprisingly deep side-scrolling stunt game that combined elements of Tiny Wings [$0.99] and Trials to great success. The sequel, Pumped BMX 2 [$2.99], completely blew the first game out of the water. The highlights included a dramatically-improved presentation, a deeper trick system, and a better set of controls that made pulling off intricate maneuvers much easier. It was such a big step up from the first game that it was hard to see where the series could go in a sequel without completely tearing up the carpet. That seems to have proven true, as Pumped BMX 3 [$3.99] isn't nearly the upgrade that the second game was over the first. There are some significant additions, but nothing that really changes the game in any major way. Whether that's a good thing or not depends on how well you've enjoyed this series until now...

'Banner Saga 2' Review - Dredging up the Past

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October 7th, 2016 2:39 PM EST by Andrew Fretz in $4.99, 4 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
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I hope you packed extra consonants and umlauts, because Stoic is back with Banner Saga 2[$4.99]. The epic journey has returned to iOS and with it new gameplay mechanics, new environments and new friends to see die in new and horrible ways. You've probably had enough time to get over the overwhelming depression the first episode was so good at instilling in you, I bet you're ready for round 2! Come and join me by the fire while we still have some rations to share while we look deeper into this enjoyably sad sequel...

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 [$4.99], 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...

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