Category Archives: Reviews

'Hectic Space 2' Review - Bullet Pixel Hell

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March 22nd, 2016 11:45 AM EDT by Chris Carter in 4 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Shooter, Universal
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Shoot 'em ups will keep me company until the hour of my death. They were one of the first genres I ever played in the arcade, and it's one of my most played genres for pleasure to date. Whether it's a bullet hell Cave joint (which has become even more prolific on iOS) or a traditional, technical shooter, I'm always willing to turn my monitor on its side to play at any possible resolution. Less screen real estate on a mobile device seems like a problem, but touch controls almost always come through and deliver, and that's definitely the case with Hectic Space 2 [Free]...

'9th Dawn 2' Review - Jumpin' Hack Slash

'9th Dawn 2' Review - Jumpin' Hack Slash

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March 22nd, 2016 10:30 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $7.99, 4.5 stars, Action, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
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The original 9th Dawn [$2.99] was released almost three years ago. It didn't look like much, but as long as you could get past the humble presentation, you would have found an open world action-RPG with a scale few other iOS games can match. It had a clunky user interface and for those who prefer a more guided experience with their RPGs, its old-school nature could be off-putting. Personally, I loved the game, as it brought back fond memories of fumbling around in games like Ultima, and the lack of explicit story-telling was often made up for by the provocative world design. The sequel, 9th Dawn 2 [$7.99], has a few useful changes to address issues with the the original game, but for all intents and purposes, this is another heaping plate of the same taste. If you couldn't get enough of the first, you can throw down your money without fear. 9th Dawn 2 won't let you down...




My favorite Kemco RPG developer, EXE-Create, has found their groove over the last couple of years. Their games typically have enjoyable characters, solid mechanics, and genuinely good localizations. They've also pushed the technical side of things more than Kemco's other teams, introducing a polygonal battle system with Alphadia Genesis [$9.99] just over two years ago that they've used in several subsequent releases. If there's a downside to EXE-Create's work, it's that they rarely attempt anything risky with their game designs. While their Kemco stablemates are often trying interesting new systems, gameplay perspective, or even other genres, EXE-Create seems content to focus on delivering a tasty, predictable plate of meat and potatoes every time. How much you enjoy their games depends heavily on how tired you are of that sort of dish and whether or not you can connect with the latest batch of characters. Revenant Dogma [Free / $4.99] is no different in that regard...

If you listen to the Touch Arcade Show podcast every week (and you should), then you might recall what a frustrating experience Jared had trying to play Rocky Hong's Beat Stomper [$1.99] on a recent episode. The game seemed sorta like Doodle Jump [$0.99], but the timing was all weird and it took quite a few attempts for him to get the hang of it. Eli, on the other hand, had no problems whatsoever and demonstrated this by apparently playing with his eyes shut. Two completely different experiences with one simple high score chaser. So what about me? Or you, for that matter?..

'Rope Racers' Review - Swing Low, Sweet Undead Zombie

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March 21st, 2016 11:53 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
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Swinging from ropes is fun. I don’t know why, but it is. Many of my favorite games on the App Store use some kind of swinging as a mechanic, from Hanger World [Free] and Mikey Hooks [$1.99] to the long forgotten Rock Runners and Slingshot Racing [$0.99]. In preparation for this review I did a brief Google search to figure out what is so satisfying about swinging, but all I found were adult advice columns. (Some iOS games call it "hooking"; maybe I should have searched for that instead?) Perhaps it’s so fun because our ancestors lived in trees, or because it hits some perfect combination of speed and weightlessness. Who knows! Developer Small Giant’s latest game Rope Racers [Free] is all about swinging, and it pretty much nails that sensation...

'Tomb of the Mask' Review - A Glorious Retro Dash Fest

One of my favorite childhood games on PC was ZZT. It was a simple adventure game that was solely comprised of ANSI characters, to the point where everything, even the hero, looked like text. It was done so well though that the low-fi angle worked, and even though it wasn't all that impressive even for the time, it was endearing and memorable. That's basically how I feel about Tomb of the Mask [Free], which goes for a very similar retro effect, with similar results...

One of the fun things about following a specific platform over a number of years is watching how things progress. Developers and series will pop up, and if they hang around, you can see what they do to build on what they did before to try to make an even better game. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't. In the case of developer TouchMint and its Adventure To Fate series of turn-based RPGs, it's happily been the former. When the first game launched almost two years ago, it was a fun, somewhat rough game that got better with a couple of updates. Last year, a free-to-play follow-up came out, focusing almost entirely on the combat system and character development mechanics. That game, too, got some really nice updates that made the game better. I don't know what the update plans look like for Adventure To Fate: Quest To The Future [$3.99] looks like, but even in its present state, it shows the experience TouchMint has gathered in its own personal quest for glory...

'Train Conductor World' Review - Freight Control

'Train Conductor World' Review - Freight Control

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March 8th, 2016 12:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4.5 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Reviews, Universal
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Blake Patterson’s review of the original Train Conductor [$2.99] on Touch Arcade remarked that it was “like Flight Control [R.I.P.] on rails”. That’s certainly the feeling I got from playing the latest game in the series as well. Train Conductor World [Free] truly feels like a blast from the past with its central mechanic of routing things around the screen with swipes, as I probably had at least five or six games on my phone back in the day that were heavily inspired by Firemint’s classic airplane game. I can’t remember the last time I played something like that, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun revisiting similar ideas in World. Of course, this is no longer 2009, and the App Store is a very different place now. Can The Voxel Agents’ cute little trains keep up?..

Are you a real gamer? Are you a real hardcore gamer? Do you like games that will punish you and leave you begging for mercy? Congratulations, Lost Socks: Naughty Brothers [$0.99] is the game for you. This auto-run-and-gun game boasts fantastic art, well-done gameplay, and tough difficulty. Perhaps too tough for most: its progression gating that is so punishing that you'll beg to pay money to the developers to take shortcuts. And the game will look down at you and whisper "No."..

'Abzorb' Review - Avoid and Conquer

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March 8th, 2016 10:06 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in $2.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
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One Man Left’s classic Tilt To Live [$2.99] series is a favorite of mine, partly because of how it subverted expectations when it came out in 2010. It looked like a shooter, with the main gimmick being that you tilted your device instead of using on-screen controls. Of course, that wasn’t the only “gimmick”, as it turned out the game wasn’t even a shooter at all. Your job was to avoid enemies, rather than hunting them down. That doesn’t mean you were totally defenseless, though, as there were many power-ups that allowed you to turn the tables on the evil red dots. Gerald Kelley’s new game Abzorb [$2.99] lands even closer to the pacifist side of the spectrum, as you don’t even get power-ups to defend yourself. All you can do to avoid death is run away. Is it anywhere near as fun and frantic as Tilt To Live, though?..

The Swords [$2.99] is an interesting little experience because it's this mixture of gorgeous art and animation combined with gameplay that's fun but sometimes frustrating. The story that sets up The Swords is that a master of swords is telling a story about his grandmaster, an expert swordsman proficient in many different types of swords, and the very idea of them. Microgames wind up comprising the gmaeplay here, as you perform sorts of different actions through swipes and taps depending on the section of the game you're in, so that you can progress. You'll be swiping to deflect enemy swords, utilizing a spinning sword to deflect enemy blows, controlling the sway of a tree in the wind, and more. You kind of get to do anything and everything sword-related here...

Dungeon Raid [$0.99] was one of those games where, if it got its hooks into you, you probably weren't going to play anything else for a good long while. There wasn't a lot of mystery behind that, to be honest. The mechanics were familiar and simple to learn, but offered a lot of depth to the player looking for more. The RPG elements gave you a feeling of progression that isn't typically found in many other puzzle games. You could pick the game up whenever you had a few minutes and have a good time, or settle in for a longer session. I Keep Having This Dream [$1.99], the latest from Dungeon Raid developers Fireflame Games, is not the same kind of game. It's a little more opaque, a little more complex, and it comes off like it's aimed at a narrower target in general...

Peter Panic [Free] is Wario Ware mixed with a musical, and only halfway complete. Seriously, the game borrows its structure and goofiness from Wario Ware almost exactly. You play through levels all with a specific theme, trying to complete a short micro-game to get a point and advance further to a boss level. Beat that, then you complete the level and go on to the next one. The games use the touchscreen in different ways, and there are some key variations, but generally? This is Wario Ware but on iOS as a musical – and not finished yet...

In between crunching RPGs, I often like to unwind with various types of interactive fiction games. They're relatively short, and they're easier to fit into small pockets of time during the day compared to many other games. At the same time, they give me the satisfaction of reading a story, even if it's not always a great one. I've reviewed many of these types of games here at TouchArcade, but one of the more popular companies whose works I had yet to touch on was Voltage. You may not have heard of them, but they're basically the Harlequin Romance of the App Store. Their games are incredibly successful in Japan, their home market, but they've also found quite a bit of success worldwide. The closest we've come to covering their games was when I reviewed Queen's Gambit [Free], a product of their American branch, but I figured with Voltage launching their latest game and me needing something light to play, the time was ripe to finally cover one of their romance games...

Over the course of a few months I've gone from not knowing who Nitrome was to being schooled in a master class by their games. I've played through their entire catalog at this point, and whenever a new offering is available, I'm ready and willing to snatch it and give it a shot. Ultimate Briefcase [Free] is merely published by Nitrome (the developer credit goes to Quite Fresh), and as an arcadey action game, it delivers on some level...

There are a handful of genres that I will likely never tire of, and one of them is dungeon crawling. Whether it's of the CRPG or ARPG variety, the thrill of soot is something I find insatiable. Whether it's "one more run" for that slightly better chestplate or the thrill of beating a new boss for a horde of gold, the constant positive reinforcement is on point. That's how Don't Die in Dungeons [Free] feels...

Virtually everything can be made better by doing it in space. Except breathing oxygen, I suppose. And eating potato chips. And using the toilet. Okay, let's revise that. Some things can be made better by doing them in space, and engaging in capitalistic ventures just happens to be one of them. The core principles of buying low and selling high simply go well with traversing a lonely universe and battling space pirates. Perhaps unsurprisingly, iOS gamers already have a few games to choose from in this style, including games that focus mostly on trading mechanics at the expense of action or visual flourish, ones that put most of their eggs in the combat basket, and some that try to dazzle you with their slick presentation and sense of immersion in order to build a believable universe. Simply put, there's a fair bit of established competition for Stellar Wanderer [$4.99], albeit little of it recent...

'Thumb Drift' Review - Slip Slidin’ Away

'Thumb Drift' Review - Slip Slidin’ Away

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March 3rd, 2016 9:30 AM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4.5 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Racing, Reviews, Universal
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We here at Touch Arcade don’t usually review the many, many free little arcade games that pop up on the App Store each week. There’s no rule against it, of course, but the fact is there are just too many games, and our time is usually better spent focusing on (slightly) meatier experiences. For example, just last week saw the release of Slingshot Rush [Free], which is yet another fairly shallow little Boombit game like the many others that came before. I actually found it incredibly fun and satisfying to play, but it’s ultimately too simple to fully review. I mean, you hold the screen to swing around corners and it’s really fun. I don’t even think a gimmicky question-and-answer format could stretch that out enough to count as an actual review...

'Clash Royale' Review - A Hybrid of Card Games, RTS, MOBA, and Awesome

Reviewing these mega-releases always feels like a bit of formality, as if you've paid any attention to the mobile gaming scene over the last few months, you probably already followed our guide and have been playing the soft launched version of Clash Royale [Free], if for no reason other than to see what all the fuss is about. Well, the game officially launched worldwide early this morning along side the biggest Apple feature we've ever seen in App Store history, and when you combine Supercell's penchant for huge blown-out advertising campaigns, I'm guessing it won't be long until they start blasting all available airwaves with celebrity-packed Clash Royale TV commercials. The good news is the game itself is absolutely phenomenal, and much like Clash of Clans [Free], will undoubtedly summon a veritable tsunami of copycats and highly "inspired" spinoffs... Which might not necessarily be the worst thing, as the combination of genres and gameplay mechanics in Clash Royale actually works incredibly well for a mobile game...

'Patchwork' Review - Greater than the Sum of it's Parts

Patchwork[$2.99] is a very cute game. It has a charming facade of quilty-buttony comfort that is really quite inviting and calming. It's almost a shame that the game is very much a game of cut-throat cold logic devoid of much wiggle room around the fact that the person who can plan ahead best will usually win. The master mind behind such board game greats as Agricola[$6.99] and Le Havre[$4.99], Uwe Rosenberg, followed the pattern with a really great strategic/economic design on this one...

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