Category Archives: Universal

'Spirits of Spring' Review - A Powerful, Cathartic Experience

Let me begin this review by lighting the "Experience Game" signal, just so that we're starting off with clarity. I've talked before about the distinction between games focused on mechanics and what I usually refer to as experience games, particularly in my review of Monument Valley [$3.99]. As you would probably expect from Minority Media, the developers behind PlayStation 3 game Papo & Yo, their new game fits firmly into the latter category. In Spirits Of Spring [$4.99], the mechanics exist only to serve the experience, so if you're mostly into mastering play mechanics, I guess this review was a short read for you. There are no fail states in this game, it's relatively brief in run-time, and you're never asked to do anything terribly difficult with the few abilities you have at your disposal. Those who enjoy games that focus on delivering an experience, on the other hand, will find something more than worth your time and money. It's a bittersweet exploration of bullying, from both sides of the fence, and though its hand is perhaps a little too heavy at times, I still found it to be a very precious journey...

I've been even happier than usual with the recent releases from gamebook developer Tin Man Games. They've taken a couple of books that I enjoyed a great deal when I was younger and rather than simply present them faithfully as they typically do, they've shined them up into even better forms. The Complete Sagas Of Fire*Wolf [$9.99] represents a slightly different challenge, however. In my opinion, the original books that this release draws from are deeply flawed in a way none of the other books Tin Man have sourced for their adaptations are. They've made some serious improvements, but in the end, it's probably something that only the hardcore gamebook fans or people with nostalgia for Fire*Wolf ought to look into. Oh, and the asterisk stands for some kind of grunt that we can't make in our language. Basically, his parents were hippies...

Cosmophony [$1.99] is a rhythm-based tunnel shooter that is built to be challenging, with formations of obstacles to avoid throughout five levels, all set to an EDM soundtrack. The rhythm part is loose at best, but changes in the game do go along with changing sound cues. The problem is that the game is built around its challenge being through perfectionism. That, the only way to advance is by completing a very hard level in one life leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and limits what this game can do...

For millions upon millions of mobile device owners, Zynga's Words With Friends is as important a function of their mobile device as sending text messages or browsing the web. It's basically Scrabble that you can play practically anytime or anywhere with people from across the globe, even when you're pooping. What a world we live in. Today, Zynga has introduced a massive revamp to the game and rebranded it New Words With Friends [Free]. What's new about it? First and foremost is a Solo Play option that lets you square off against an AI opponent even if you don't have an internet connection, something I've been dying for forever...

Square Enix has been slowly updating many of their old apps with controller support and various other fixes recently. Too slowly for some, I'm sure, but it's nice to see they're still making an effort to make sure classics like Secret Of Mana [$8.99] and Final Fantasy 3 [$15.99] are working as best as possible. Well, you can add one more to that list, because Final Fantasy 6 [$15.99] received an update out of the blue today that addresses some complaints about the controls, both for those with MFi controllers and those without...

Cookie Clicker was one of my favorite games of 2013. Your objective was simple -- make more cookies. At first, you needed to click the screen occasionally to get more cookies. Eventually, you start accumulating them on your own and you don't really even need to click. Slowly but surely it evolves into a giant meta-game of cookie management and borders on a full-on simulation. It's the simplicity that makes it worth playing. Why am I mentioning all of this? Because Poor Gladiator [Free] for iOS has a similar scheme, and is a great way to relax on the go...

It's been just over a month since Epic and Chair released the Kingdom Come update for Infinity Blade III [$6.99], a blockbuster content update and the last major addition to close out the trilogy of games. However, a few bugs snuck their way into the Kingdom Come update, and Chair has announced on the Infinity Blade blog that they're rectifying those in a 1.4.1 patch which has just been submitted to Apple...

Adult Swim has a done a great job with its iOS titles and now, with the help of developer PikPok, they are taking on the Match-3 genre. Adventure Xpress [Free] continues the excellent off-beat motif of most Adult Swim titles with you taking the role of a mail courier in a fantasy setting. Meanwhile the Match-3 gameplay is a bit simplified, but has everything needed to offer an enjoyable experience (even with the freemium elements)...

Back in mid-August, we "stumbled" across a trailer for a quirky new game from developer Set Snail called Daddy Long Legs [Free]. Like QWOP [$0.99] and many other awkward physics-based games that task you with doing everyday things like, uh, walking, Daddy Long Legs sees your furry, square-ish hero trying to walk as far as possible with his ridiculously long legs. Simply tapping on the screen alternates which leg Daddy puts forward, so careful timing and a whole lot of luck are required in order to make it any significant distance...

Snake is a timeless game. It was one of the first experiences I had on a portable device, and despite the fact that there was just one level (a giant square box), it provided endless hours of entertainment. It was a much simpler time, and that time is over. In the current era of gaming, it's expected that a snake game would have a load of bells and whistles, lest it fall short of providing something you haven't seen a million times in the past 20 years. The Jake and Finn skinned Treasure Fetch - Adventure Time [$2.99] differentiates itself somewhat, but falls into the same few trappings as the snake genre along the way...

RPG Reload File 008 - 'Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we keep marching on, all through the night, exploring RPGs from the App Store's past. It's a little bit of revisiting, a little bit of recollecting, and a whole lot of rambling. I try to cover a broad range of RPGs, but just to make things interesting, once per month, you, the reader, get to make a leap into the decision-maker role to set right what once went wrong. In fact, this week's feature was selected by the readers. If you want to cast your vote for the next reader's choice, which will be in RPG Reload 013, please take to the comments section below or pop into the Official RPG Reload Club thread in our forum. You can also leave your thoughts on the games I play or anything RPG-related you'd like to discuss. Let's enjoy a conversation together, joined by our mutual love of beating imaginary monsters with heaving swords made of math...

As if the huge list of new releases from earlier wasn't enough, Stoic's tactical RPG The Banner Saga [$9.99] has also just arrived in the App Store. The Banner Saga launched on PC in January of this year to critical acclaim, and in June it was confirmed that the game would be heading to "tablets" sometime this summer. That meant that it was at the very least heading to iPad, but as it turns out The Banner Saga is a Universal app for iPhones, too. Check out the PC version launch trailer...

I am all about wacky cross-promotions that make no sense whatsoever, which is why I'm here to talk about Crazy Taxi: City Rush's [Free] latest update which adds WWE wrestler and '80s icon Hulk Hogan as a playable character. Why Hulk Hogan? Is it because his snazzy yellow tank tops are of a similar color to taxi cabs? Or because he "runs wild" over things and the taxis in Crazy Taxi run wild in the streets dropping off passengers? Maybe. I don't really know, nor do I really care. I can drive a taxi cab around as Hulk Hogan and that's all that really matters...

If you fancy yourself something of a sport-drinker, chances are you've played or at least heard of a popular drinking game called Power Hour. The idea is simple: A playlist filled with 60 different songs plays 1-minute snippets of each song. Every time the song changes, you take a shot of beer. By the end of the hour, the goal is to have taken 60 total shots of beer. Sound easy? It's not. At all. I'm not some superstar drinker by any means, but I can definitely toss a few back. However, making it to the end of Power Hour is a struggle, and I've seen the game take down far better drinkers than me over the years...

I don't mind free-to-play games, inherently. What I do mind are games whose monetization schemes are tilted against the player to the point that they severely impact the gamer. Thus we have Asphalt Overdrive [Free], a lane-based runner take on the venerable Asphalt racing series that's free-to-play, but definitely pay-to-progress, which is a shame, because it's good time when it's not trying to push upgrades or throwing in annoying wait timers...

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