TouchMyApps » Eric Pankoke All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Sun, 24 May 2015 23:54:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 9 Clues 2: The Ward HD in Review – Creepy Is As Creepy Does Sun, 24 May 2015 23:54:34 +0000 I’m sure I say this far too often but it’s rare that I play something from G5 that I don’t like.  However, when the next thing that pops up after the G5 logo is Artifex Mundi I get particularly excited.  This combo seems to produce some particularly high quality fare, and 9 Clues 2: The … Read more]]>


I’m sure I say this far too often but it’s rare that I play something from G5 that I don’t like.  However, when the next thing that pops up after the G5 logo is Artifex Mundi I get particularly excited.  This combo seems to produce some particularly high quality fare, and 9 Clues 2: The Ward HD is no exception to the rule.  Game play is extremely well balanced, the game looks and sounds great, and the story is top notch.  In fact, this particular tale managed to throw a few twists in, which is something pretty rare for a hidden object style adventure.  If this is your cup of tea than this game shouldn’t be missed, and if you’re not familiar with or have tried to distance yourself from the genre, this would be a great place to start.


You play a detective who, along with your partner, gets called to a creepy asylum tucked away on an island.  Nothing could go wrong there, right?  You get greeted by a head practitioner that knows nothing of the call and a professor that decides to take a fatal dive out of his second story window, and things go downhill from there.  The story is told via a myriad of cutscenes throughout the game, as well as from notes, newspaper articles and other printed media scattered around the asylum.  The pacing is just right to keep you both on your toes and wanting to know what comes next.  Additionally, unless you decide to way overthink things there should be a few surprises in store for you as you delve deeper into the game.

Game play itself is divided into the standard three elements: object based puzzles, hidden object scenes and mini-games.  It’s really well balanced in my opinion, which means it is mostly object based puzzles and the mini-games are basic enough that even if you find them annoying (which I did in a couple of instances) you should be able to complete them without too much difficulty.  As for the hidden object scenes, if you don’t care much for that style of game play you can actually bypass the scene with a rousing game of Mahjong – assuming, of course, you find Mahjong interesting.  There were a few occasions where I got stuck on something for a bit and wandered away from a room before I was done with it, but for the most part the puzzles provide just the right amount of thought and are never over-taxing.


Maneuvering through the asylum is pretty simple.  Tap twice to travel to a new room, and tap on an object to pick it up.  Tap an inventory item and then part of the scene to use that item, or simply drag it from your inventory to the desired location.  Controlling a mini-game varies by mini-game, but it usually involves some sort of tap or drag event.  One neat feature of this series of games is event reconstruction, where you have to identify nine areas in a scene that appear to have been disturbed.  Once you find them all you have to put them in order of occurrence, and then the detective will narrate the event as she has deduced that it took place.  Besides simply completing them game there are several achievements to unlock if you so desire, and there are also three difficulty levels to play at if you’re one who likes to experience the adventure several times.

For the most part the visuals are top notch.  The scenes are well rendered, the hidden object screens do a good job of concealing the items without truly hiding them, and the cutscenes as a whole are nicely drawn.  The one thing that bugs me is the character animation.  It reminds me of the way they used to animate the Spider-man cartoon in the 60’s, and for me it just doesn’t work.  The sound effects are pretty good, and they did a great job of matching the voiceovers the visual representations of the characters.  The background music does a good job of staying there, but when you do notice it definitely sets the proper tone for a romp through the looney bin.


I never get tired of bragging on a good game, and this is an extremely good game.  Once I started playing it was pretty much all I wanted to do on my iPad until I completed it, and then I was kind of hoping for some more in an unlocked bonus story or something.  I sadly didn’t get the chance to play through the first 9 Clues game, but now I’m thinking I really should go back and give it a try.  That is, of course, unless they’re already working on chapter 3!


App Summary
Title: 9 Clues 2: The Ward HD Developer: G5 Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: Free App Size: 884.29MB
  • Intriguing story
  • Extremely well balanced game play
  • Great visuals
  • Nice voiceovers and background music
  • Same old mini-games
  • Character animation a bit odd


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Lifeline… In Review – The Next Evolution Of Adventure Games? Fri, 22 May 2015 02:47:11 +0000 Before I virtually put my foot in my mouth, I want to make it clear that I admire developers that try to do something different.  The App Store is so full of “been there, done that” games that even if I’m not keen on a particular game, if it’s a concept I’ve not played much … Read more]]>


Before I virtually put my foot in my mouth, I want to make it clear that I admire developers that try to do something different.  The App Store is so full of “been there, done that” games that even if I’m not keen on a particular game, if it’s a concept I’ve not played much or at all in the past I’m thankful I got to try it.  Such is the case with Lifeline from Big Fish Games and 3 Minute Games, the irony of the latter being that this doesn’t even come close to being a 3 minute game.  I’ve only played one other adventure game like this that I can recall, and while the story here is much more defined an interesting, I almost feel like I’d rather just be reading this as a book than interacting with it in the limited capacity that I’m capable of.


The condensed version of the story is that you are some unknown controller communicating with what you presume to be the sole survivor of a craft that has crash landed on a distant planet.  Basically he tells you what he sees, and occasionally asks for your input on what to do.  When he decides that something will take more than a second or two to complete he lets you know and you see the message “Taylor Is Busy”.  At that point you can turn off the game and go about your business, and when there’s something new to report the game will drop you an instant notification letting you know that Taylor’s once again in need of some direction.

The story is fairly well written, and you get a pretty good feel for the kind of person Taylor is by his comments and how he reacts to his dire situation.  If I were to turn this into a movie I’d probably try to wrangle Ryan Reynolds into the leading role.  The notification aspect is neat as well, though I imagine this would be much easier to appreciate if you owned an Apple Watch, which Lifeline happens to be compatible with.  As for game play, when you get to “guide” Taylor you only get two options every time, and even though he might occasionally argue he always ends up doing what you tell him to.


So far there has only been one time where they stretched the boundaries of this concept a bit by having Taylor pose the question if a particular amount of rads (radiation) would cause permanent damage or not.  I did look up the answer on the internet, but since it’s basically a yes or no response that you give him, the game has no way of determining if you really researched the question or not.  Add to that the fact that there is no inventory to speak of and the game feels to much like the old Choose Your Own Adventure paperbacks, which is fine if there weren’t already a couple of other companies that tackle that genre so much better than this.  Sometimes there’s something to be said for using technology to enhance a style of game play beyond what was capable in physical form.

There are no graphics aside from the splash screen, but at least the text is laid out nicely and easily readable.  The sound effects basically consist of little blips between each message.  This is one area that I think could have been spruced up a bit – even though you’re experiencing this whole journey over a com-link, there’s no reason you couldn’t necessarily hear background noises over said link.  There might not be too many occasions to take advantage of this, but it would be better than nothing.  The background music is subtle but stirring, and helps with the notion of keeping you on edge waiting to find out what Taylor’s going to do next.


I do think there is some merit to this style of game play.  Lifeline certainly ups the ante from the previous game that I played like this by providing a solid, fleshed out storyline to accompany your choices.  However I think to truly satiate the adventure gaming crowd developers will need to figure out some way to practically add inventory management to these games and maybe even some combat if the overall scenario warrants it.  Without a little more interactivity you might as well just read a book instead.


App Summary
Title: Lifeline… Developer: 3 Minute Games, LLC
Reviewed Ver: 1.2 Min OS Req:  iOS 8.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 19.07MB
  • Interesting story
  • Good music
  • Limited interactivity
  • No inventory
  • Sound effects not used effectively


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The Fool HD in Review – You’d Be Foolish Not To Try It Mon, 18 May 2015 14:58:29 +0000 Some people say there’s a fine line between being a hero and a fool, and the main character in The Fool HD from Big Fish Games did his best to try and prove it.  Given the macabre, horror style entries BFG has been turning out so much of lately this was a nice change of … Read more]]>


Some people say there’s a fine line between being a hero and a fool, and the main character in The Fool HD from Big Fish Games did his best to try and prove it.  Given the macabre, horror style entries BFG has been turning out so much of lately this was a nice change of pace both in story and general atmosphere.  In fact, overall it was a rather fun, well designed adventure.  It certainly has the same minor misgivings that most hidden object adventure games do these days, but it was a joy to play from beginning to end.


You are a nameless one, just another in a long line of wannabe adventurers trying to gain the princess’ hand in marriage.  Unfortunately you decide to buck the system resulting in your newly betrothed being whisked away by a ticked off dragon.  Now you must journey to the vile beast’s castle and finish what you claimed to have done the first time, both ridding the kingdom of the dragon and bringing your lovely bride home.  The story is lighthearted and will sometimes make you smile, even if it is a bit cliché.  It does a good job of keeping you entertained and providing a reason for visiting the different realms that you do.

If you’ve played any hidden object games on your iDevice already then you know the drill where game play is concerned.  Tap to move between locations, tap to pick up objects, and drag to use inventory items with other objects on the screen.  There are a couple of times where you actually have to drag to interact with an on-screen object, but “out of the norm” manipulation like that is still a rarity in this game.  The mini-games are all pretty much tap or drag affairs, and as usual there are a couple that are hard to manipulate, but overall I actually enjoyed the diverse selection of mini-games that were offered.  In fact, the general balance between object puzzles, hidden object scenes and mini-games was just about perfect in The Fool.


Visually the game is very appealing.  The backgrounds are nicely drawn and quite detailed, and there’s pretty much always something going on animation wise to keep things from getting stale.  The character designs look really good as well.  The sound effects serve their purpose, but there was a lot of missed opportunity for cool ambient noises in certain locations.  The voiceover for the narration was well done, but sadly we didn’t get to hear any of the other players in this fun story.  On the other hand, the musical score was extremely well written.

There’s a good chance I might have missed out on this one had I not caught the April Fool’s day sale, and I’m so thankful I didn’t.  As happy as I am when I manage to score a great game for 99 cents, this is definitely worth the normal asking price for the full version.  A fun story, excellent game play and great aesthetics make The Fool HD one adventure definitely worth taking.


App Summary
Title: The Fool HD Developer: Big Fish Games, Inc
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.1 Min OS Req:
Price: Free App Size: 456.34MB
  • Lighthearted, amusing story
  • Great game play balance
  • Nice visuals
  • Well written music
  • Some mini-games hard to maneuver
  • No voiceovers aside from narrator


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Armadillo Gold Rush in Review – Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’… Sat, 16 May 2015 01:53:55 +0000 When I first saw the press release for Armadillo Gold Rush I thought maybe I had missed something, because I was sure I had already played this game.  Well, it turns out I had – 7 years ago when I reviewed it for the PocketPC!  Back then I gave the game a 9 out of … Read more]]>


When I first saw the press release for Armadillo Gold Rush I thought maybe I had missed something, because I was sure I had already played this game.  Well, it turns out I had – 7 years ago when I reviewed it for the PocketPC!  Back then I gave the game a 9 out of 10, and I have to say my feelings towards it haven’t changed much.  Things certainly don’t always age well, but this little armadillo is definitely no worse for the wear.


Why he needs it I don’t know, but your goal is to help the armadillo gather all the gold coins that are scattered around the 75+ levels the game contains.  The problem is that this little guy likes to roll, and once he gets started there’s no stopping him unless something gets in the way.  If it’s a rock or hedge it’s no big deal, but things like spiked balls, water and lava are certainly not his friends.  Thankfully you can find plenty of miscellaneous objects like crates, non-spiked balls and more to both protect you from aggressive obstacles and help you cross over the more passive ones.  There are also things like sticky pads to stop your roll when there’s not a solid surface in sight.

With this many levels you’re bound to run across some that you don’t like, and others can be just plain evil because you keep dying or getting stuck.  For the most part, however, the level designs are extremely well done.  It’s very rarely a straight zip through the park, either.  You might have to go around a level several times to get everything you need, or criss-cross back and forth to flip levers so you can open gates or turn off bothersome devices.  Some levels even require you to perform mini-games like “playing golf” or pushing a ball across the entire level.  You can tell that a lot of thought went into the level design, and that’s a big part of what makes the game so enjoyable.


Upon level completion you’ll be awarded with up to three stars in three different categories: time, number of moves and overall score.  The funny thing is that you can do really poorly on the first two and still earn three stars on the score, but thankfully you can revisit a level at any time to recover any stars you missed the first time around.  You also don’t have to finish an entire level set to unlock the next one, and once a level set is unlocked you can play any level in that set.  The game offers five leaderboards ranging from total overall score to the sum of the least moves taken for each level.  There are also a whopping 42 achievements to earn.  That’s just in case getting all 9 stars in each level isn’t quite enough satisfaction for you!

I really like the visuals.  While they may not be the most advanced and they certainly aren’t 3D, there’s a nice “modern old school” charm about them.  Everything is nicely detailed and there are little bits of animation where necessarily to keep things from feeling completely static.  The sound effects aren’t that great, however, and while there’s a nifty banjo track that plays during menus and such, there’s no actual in-game music.  Ironically, it’s not just the good things about the game that haven’t changed over the last seven years!


Armadillo Gold Rush may have it’s origins as a seven+ year old PocketPC game, but it certainly holds up well enough today.  At a time when the App Store is overrun with just about every time of action / puzzle game there is, this one still feels like a breath of fresh air.  There are plenty of levels to keep you busy, numerous achievements to earn, and multiple three star ratings per level to aspire to.  The audio department could use a bit of a lift, but otherwise this is a top notch puzzle game worthy of your time and effort.


App Summary
Title: Armadillo Gold Rush Developer: AppAbove Games LLC
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.9 Min OS Req:  iOS 4.3
Price: $2.99 App Size: 85.09MB
  • Easy to learn
  • Plenty of well designed levels
  • Lots of achievements and 5 leaderboards
  • Great visuals
  • Lackluster sound effects
  • No music during the levels


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10 App Store Games To Watch [5/13/15] Thu, 14 May 2015 03:42:39 +0000 It’s that time of year again. Yep, that time when you should be going outside and enjoying nature but if you’re like me, you’re probably staring at some sort of glowing screen instead. Thankfully iOS developers have no respect for the seasons, so there’s just as much to play now as there was over the … Read more]]>


It’s that time of year again. Yep, that time when you should be going outside and enjoying nature but if you’re like me, you’re probably staring at some sort of glowing screen instead. Thankfully iOS developers have no respect for the seasons, so there’s just as much to play now as there was over the holidays. Casual gaming is somewhat the order of the day in this roundup, but I still think just about anyone could find at least one title in this group that would interest them. And as usual most of the games are free, so it can’t hurt to at least try some of them.


Corridor Z [4/1/15] – This is a game about high school, zombies and… running.  It is an inverted runner, which means your character is running towards the screen instead of away.  It’s not really unique since at least Boulder Jack takes advantage of the same perspective, and it can be frustrating because it makes it more difficult to know when turns are coming up (the neon signs help with that), but at least it’s a start at making the game stand out from the crowd.  There are three characters – the last survivors of the zombie infection – and you get them all from the very beginning.  In fact they are crucial to game play, because in order to truly progress in the game each of them must complete certain goals.  While you can certainly run in an “infinite” capacity, the overriding goal is to make it from room to room, and this can only be accomplished by running with every character.  As you progress through the game you’ll unlock new weapons that can be upgraded, you’ll acquire various gadgets that can be equipped at the beginning of each run (for a price, of course), and you’ll recover diary pages that explain what in blazes is going on in the first place.  One really neat aspect of the game is that instead of “changing lanes” or jumping over things, swiping left, right or up at the right time makes the user grab objects to toss in the zombies’ way and slow them down.  There’s no doubt Corridor Z is a runner, but with an atmosphere that’s more like The Walking Dead then Bruce Campbell’s The Evil Dead and the whole “obstacle tossing” mechanic it feels fresh and can get quite addicting.

Corridor Z - Inverted Zombie Runner Mass Creation Sp. z o. o., Corridor Z – Inverted Zombie Runner – Free


tap tap tap (game) [3/30/15] – If you’ve ever played the handheld game Bop It, you have an idea of what tap tap tap is like.  Now you might be thinking “don’t they already have a version of Bop It for iOS?”, and you’d be right.  Instead of trying to emulate the physical game, however, tap tap tap uses actions that are native to the touch screen.  Tap, Double Tap, swipe and drag / drop to earn high scores.  The game is rather minimal, with only one game play mode and no achievements or leaderboards.  On the plus side, the single mode that is available is actually rather entertaining, and while there’s no ready way to compare your accomplishments with the rest of the world you can at least go old school and pass your device to another player to see who can get the highest score.  The visuals are pretty minimal as well, but what is there has a cool style to it.  It would be great to see this game expand to include some sort of ranking system as well as additional modes of play, but for now it’s a fun basic offering at an unbeatable price.

tap tap tap (game) Bart Bonte, tap tap tap (game) – Free


Oil Hunt [4/9/15] – Apparently when giant monsters aren’t busy destroying towns and eating innocent bystanders they like to drink oil reserves dry.  At least that’s what they’d have you believe in Oil Hunt, a cute variation of the “build a stick bridge to cross gaps” style of game play.  Instead of going horizontal and trying to navigate treacherous drops, you build a large straw vertically that you attempt to stick into a pool of oil beneath the ground.  Your timing has to be just right, however, because a straw that’s too short will have you sucking air while one that’s too long might cause you to ingest the dirt below the oil reserve.  You travel from reserve to reserve until you mess up, then it’s time to start over again.  As you successfully consume oil you fill up a meter, and when you meet your quota you get to choose a random gift.  This is the main thing that I don’t particularly care for.  I’m not necessarily against random bonuses, but so far 2 out of the 4 times I’ve won a monster I already owned.  Now there are other prizes you can earn as well, and I get that those might repeat, but when it comes to winning new monsters they shouldn’t put one back in the running that the player has in his possession.  In addition to collecting the creatures there is a leaderboard which thankfully hasn’t been tainted by far out numbers that no one could possibly reach yet.  There are no achievements at this point, though hopefully we’ll see some one of these days.  If you like simple, uncluttered games with some old school charm, Oil Hunt is a good choice for you.

Oil Hunt PlayFlame OU, Oil Hunt – Free


Grow Me Up! [4/16/15] – This game is all about the trials and tribulations of raising a child… okay, not really.  Your task is to keep shoving food into Alex’s mouth (or one of the other two characters once available) until they grow to be 100.  Of course your task gets complicated as the tosser seems to like to interject slightly non-edible items like shoes and soccer balls.  And just like any other game of this type, bombs are bad – really bad.  On the plus side you’ll also get power ups like resurrection and additional life, as well as coins to collect to buy power ups with at the beginning of a session.  Make sure you swipe these away from Alex though, as he’s not very discriminate about what he’ll eat.  As Alex consumes food he ages: every five years his progress is saved and every ten years his hearts are renewed.  The game offers a leaderboard which appears to be based off of the highest age you’ve reached (I guess the first one to 100 wins!), and there are 11 achievements to earn.  Currently Alex is the only available character, but there is a girl and a zombie coming soon.  The graphics are cute, and Alex goes through lots of transformations over the years.  The food also changes periodically, like ice cream cones will get bigger and helpings of egg become two eggs instead of one.  Grow Me Up will definitely appeal to kids, and it’s also not a bad time waster for adults.  It’s just too bad you couldn’t have more than one profile to play on.

Grow Me Up! Yury Koshechkin, Grow Me Up! – Free


The Quest Keeper [3/31/15] – The Quest Keeper is a game about a cute blocky adventurer exploring randomly generated areas in search of coins and mystical items.  He’s constantly on the move unless he runs into a wall or by some ill fate stumbles upon one of various traps that don’t sit well with his desire to live.  If you play infinite mode your goal is to collect as much loot as you can, because this will allow you to unlock quests for specific items as well as buy upgrades to your hat, shirt, boots and staff.  You can buy as many of each item as you want, but you can only equip one of each at a time so figure out what works best to enhance your playing skills and go with it.  Much of the equipment seems to be tailored towars specific quests, so keep that in mind as you are buying and equipping stuff.  Whether you’re playing infinite mode or a specific quest you’ll often run into revive points which are helpful if you’re one of those that like to continue instead of just restarting when you die – however, using a revive point comes at a cost that might disagree with your piggy bank.  At then end of each run you’ll make some progress towards a mystery chest which offers you bonus money for your troubles.  At this point there appear to be no achievements or a leaderboard, but the game really doesn’t need those things anyway.  Cute graphics and decent music round out the package to provide a solid pick up and play diversion when you’re at home or standing in line somewhere waiting to be next.

The Quest Keeper Tyson Ibele, The Quest Keeper – Free


Must Deliver [4/16/15] – Apparently even during the zombie apocalypse people expect their packages to get delivered.  Thankfully in Must Deliver you have just the crew for the job.  Choose your character and head out into the undead infested wasteland to try and drop off as many parcels as you can before succumbing to the vile flesh devourers.  Actually, the game is much more lighthearted than that, with avatars ranging from Dr. Tomb to Mr. Goldie Locks, who looks suspiciously like the man who pities the fool…  Each character has a special ability that you can unleash in order to slay some zombies, and each character can be upgraded at least once (I’m not sure if there are successive upgrades because I haven’t even been able to afford the first one for any character yet).  When you are playing you earn coins by making deliveries and killing zombies, but you can actually earn more coins by watching a video at the end of each run – unless you actually have some skills at playing the game, which doesn’t seem to apply to me.  The graphics are done in a top down perspective which I normally don’t care for when it comes to runners, but in this case they actually work pretty well.  Besides simply unlocking and upgrading new characters the game offers three separate leaderboards: one for best score, another for most zombies killed and a final one for total number of deliveries.  There are also 32 achievements to keep you on your toes.  This is definitely a different take on the zombie genre, and it can actually be quite entertaining.

Must Deliver cherrypick games, Must Deliver – Free


Tower Slash [4/22/15] – If you’re starting to feel like all infinite runners are the same, Tower Slash is worth taking a look at.  It uses the same building scaling principle that you’ll find in Backflip’s NinJump, but instead of bouncing back and forth between buildings you must defeat your enemies by swiping in the direction of the arrow that hovers next to them.  To complicate matters, some enemies have red arrows which means you have to swap in the opposite direction.  Worse yet, other arrows are spinning until you get really close meaning you have less time to react and swipe in the correct direction.  Then there are the bosses which require you to execute multiple chains of moves in order to defeat.  Fortunately as you continue to defeat enemies you work your way towards unlocking new characters, and unlike many of these games the new avatars aren’t just for looks.  One might boost your score while another provides a slow mo option when approaching spinning arrows and so on.  In addition to that you have a leaderboard to compete against your Game Center friends as well as 9 achievements to unlock.  Throw in some cool retro graphics and a catchy old school beat and you have a fun, challenging infinite runner to add to your growing iPhone games collection.

Tower Slash Joao Costa, Tower Slash – Free


The Phantom PI Mission Apparition [7/23/14] – Apparently even the dead can be bothered by their own, as this take on paranormal extractors has you aiding those that have already passed on.  In particular you’ll need to help rock legend Marshall Staxx as he continually gets robbed by a nasty ghost with a large appetite for musical paraphernalia.  You’ll take on the role of either Cecil or Cecilia and traverse 20 levels comprised of puzzles, ghost capturing and basic arcade tactics.  On the puzzle levels there are four objectives: find all the documents that provide background info on everything that’s going on, capture the spirits that inhabit random object and make the move for no reason, collect the more aggressive spirits with your bizarre ghost capturing gun, and use those spirits to collect gems while avoiding floating skull and crossbones symbols.  The last one is kind of like a mini-game on each level.  Every fifth level provides you with a little arcade game style level where your objectives are to collect all the gems and beat the level in a certain amount of time.  I don’t think you need to finish any of these objectives to complete a given level, but it sure makes things more fun.  In addition to all that you’ll be building a scrapbook of all the background items you run across in each level as well as collecting cards that detail certain facts about the case.  The graphics are excellent, and the soundtrack and sound effects really build a great atmosphere for the game.

The Phantom PI Mission Apparition Rocket 5 Studios Inc, The Phantom PI Mission Apparition – $0.99


Borderline – Life On The Line [1/8/15] – I love it when simple games are fun, because I can handle simple games.  Of course I don’t mean that the game is easy, but you only have three simple rules: tap left to move to the left side of the line, tap right to move… you guessed it… to the right side, and release to center your avatar on the line.  Collect bonus glowing objects to bolster your score, and every 10,000 points you’ll earn a crown and a heart.  You can also find hearts along the line, and these can be used for continuing a game when you’ve struck an obstacle or for buying items in the store.  Purchasable goods include new avatars, ornaments for that avatar, the trail the avatar leaves behind and new musical tracks.  There’s plenty of each to keep you busy earning hearts for a while if you want to collect them all.  You can play in single player mode or against another Game Center participant, but the one time I tried to hook up with someone I never got a bite.  Still, the option’s there if you want to try and take advantage of it.  The simple visuals are appealing and hopefully there will be at least one musical track that catches your fancy.  The game does offer a couple of Game Center achievements, but the real challenge will be in beating your own high score each time through.

Borderline - Life On The Line Crazy Labs, Borderline – Life On The Line – Free


Anodia 2 [5/6/15] – While not a fan of the brick breaker genre as a whole, the original Anodia really captured my attention.  Anodia 2 certainly follows in its predecessor’s footsteps.  First and foremost, this is not a brick breaker.  Sure there’s a paddle and you’re hitting balls against objects to try and destroy them, but the game does everything it can to make you forget about the typical Arkanoid type layout.  Each level is hand crafted and might contain triangles, light bulbs or other balls.  When you beat a level you unlock the next one, or you can use money you collect along the way or earn from watching videos to play a lottery and unlock new levels ahead of time.  All the typical power ups for this type of game are present, and there are some cool additions like one that creates mini-balls which orbit your main ball and do damage to other objects around you.  The best part is that if you get stuck you can tap on an object that’s still left and your ball will automatically target that object.  This “power” takes some time to reset, but I believe you can use it as much as you want on any given level.  It sure beats spending half an hour to get the ball to bounce right to eliminate that hard to reach piece.  There is a leaderboard via Game Center, though at this point there are no achievements to earn.  The visuals are top notch and the music has an almost zen-like quality about it.  Just like the original, Anodia 2 is one of the best this genre has to offer for iOS devices.

Anodia 2 CLM, Anodia 2 – Free

Well that wraps up another edition of games to watch on the App Store. As always, if there’s something you’ve played recently that you feel should be part of this list, please leave a reply to this post. Previous weekly installments of our App Store Games Roundup:

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Orbix in Review: ‘Round and ‘Round The Core We Go… Tue, 12 May 2015 20:48:33 +0000 Welcome to Orbix, the game about protecting your core from all those who would try to destroy it.  The “core” is a set of glowing circles in the center of the screen, and it’s where you derive your energy from. Lots of triangle shaped ships will try to infiltrate your defenses and take the core … Read more]]>


Welcome to Orbix, the game about protecting your core from all those who would try to destroy it.  The “core” is a set of glowing circles in the center of the screen, and it’s where you derive your energy from. Lots of triangle shaped ships will try to infiltrate your defenses and take the core out, and if enough of them sneak through you’ll be out of power and the game will be over.  The enemies will come at the core in different movement patterns and speeds, but basically they are all the same.  It doesn’t really matter when you’re losing power, though.  You’ll simply be focusing on taking them out so you can last as long as possible.


To protect the core you have a single ball that rotates around it.  Tap the right side of the screen to get the ball to rotate clockwise and the left side of the screen for a counterclockwise spin.  It’s all pretty intuitive unless you’re like me and accidentally reverse direction just before you collide with a bad guy.  Of course there is one rather interesting wrinkle in this whole thing: power ups must enter the core in order to be activated, and the ball you control can destroy them just as easily as it can destroy an enemy space ship.  In other words, you can be your own worst enemy in this game.

If you are lucky enough to let a power up through you’ll be treated to things like increased rotation speed, a bigger ball, and double ball action.  It does pay to remember what icons equate to which power ups, though, because there are a couple that are bad like reversing the direction of your controls or shrinking your ball.  Feel free to destroy those before they “help” you.  For those that like “last ditch efforts” you do have two one use items that you can activate at any time: a shield and a battery that completely recharges your core.  Use sparingly, but don’t be afraid to tap when you’re about to die.  The game does support Game Center for challenges and a leaderboard, but there are currently no achievements.


The graphics are pretty simple, but they look sharp and there are enough little twinkles to keep things interesting.  The sound effects are probably the weakest part of the audio-visual presentation, but they suit the needs of the game.  There’s only one musical track, but it’s actually pretty neat and definitely maintains a high energy.

Orbix is one of those games that are perfect for when you have a few minutes to kill waiting in line or something like that.  There’s not a lot of variety to the game play, but it is fun trying to get the power ups and last just a little bit longer each time.  It would be nice to see more types of ships and a couple of different game modes, but for what it has Orbix provides a nice little diversion every now and again.


App Summary
Title: Orbix Developer: Christian Ghelardoni
Reviewed Ver: 1.2 Min OS Req:  iOS 7.0
Price: $0.99 App Size: 18.08MB
  • Simple mechanics
  • Nice visuals
  • Cool background music
  • Lack of game play variety
  • No achievements or unlockables
  • Lackluster sound effects and only one song


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Graven: The Purple Moon Prophecy HD in Review: No Green Clovers Or Blue Diamonds Here… Wed, 06 May 2015 18:10:32 +0000 When a developer or publisher has released a decent number of titles, it’s likely that even the most devout fan won’t be interested in all of them.  Thankfully, while that is the case even for a company like G5, they turn out so many good titles that it’s easy to ignore the not so good … Read more]]>


When a developer or publisher has released a decent number of titles, it’s likely that even the most devout fan won’t be interested in all of them.  Thankfully, while that is the case even for a company like G5, they turn out so many good titles that it’s easy to ignore the not so good ones.  Graven: The Purple Moon Prophecy is definitely one of the good ones, and for not having an unlockable bonus story there was a surprising amount of game play.  If you decide to embark on this journey be prepared to be captivated until the very end.


You are a noted archeologist that gets called in to help locate some ancient druidic stones.  What starts as a seemingly innocent search for a great scientific discovery quickly becomes a tale of betrayal, redemption and the ultimate challenge of saving two unsuspecting worlds.  Taking cues from the best fantasy plots, the story of Graven is told through cut scenes and dialogs with various characters you meet throughout your journey.  It’s the kind of tale that would make an intriguing summer blockbuster, and while it may not be the most original it should keep you hooked from the moment you arrive in the strange town of Brittany.

On the off chance you haven’t played an adventure game before, the mechanics are pretty standard.  Tap on an area you wish to move to, tap on an item in a scene to interact with it, and tap on an item in your inventory and then somewhere on the scene you’re in to use that item.  Some scenes have areas you can zoom in on, and others contain hidden object areas or mini games for you to play.  Besides your standard list of items to find, some “hidden object” scenes require you to locate an object and use it elsewhere in the scene, repeating the action until you’ve found a useful object.  In other cases you’ll actually be locating a bunch of parts to a single object that will then be added to your inventory.  The mini games are rather diverse, and while there’s a good chance you’ve seen them in one form or another, they were all well balanced and at least for me easy enough to get through without the need to bypass them.


If you do require help there is a hint button that can be used to show you where you need to go next or what object you might be looking for.  On the harder settings the hints take more time to recharge, but there are clovers hidden all over the place that instantly recharge the hint meter for you.  There is also a journal that keeps track of important clues, lists your current objectives and even provides a map that lets you jump instantly to any discovered location.  The down side to the latter is that you might not realize a hidden object scene has opened up if you don’t wander through each scene again.  There are 19 achievements you can earn, and the game allows multiple profiles so each person that uses your device can have their own experience and earn their own achievements.

As one might expect from a top tier G5 game, the graphics are excellent.  Well drawn, detailed backgrounds are a delight to explore, and the cut scenes are nicely rendered even where the people are concerned.  The one thing I don’t really care for is the type of hidden object scene where your list is simply the silhouettes of the objects, because it’s often hard to tell what you’re looking for.  The sound effects certainly serve their purpose, and the developers did a good job of selecting people for the voiceovers.  There’s also some decent music that at times almost sounds more appropriate for a horror themed game.  As long as it’s good I’m certainly not complaining, though.


In case I haven’t given it away yet, I enjoyed this game.  Sometimes as I get closer to the end of an adventure game, even one I really like, I tend to be ready for it to be over.  I never felt that way with Graven.  I’m not sure I’d want to see a sequel, as the game did an excellent job of telling a self contained story, but there’s no question I’d be in for the ride if one did appear.


App Summary
Title: Graven: The Purple Moon Prophecy HD Developer: G5 Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: Free App Size: 927.86MB
  • Decent fantasy storyline
  • Plenty of well balanced puzzles and mini-games
  • Excellent visuals
  • Quality voiceovers and music
  • Nothing of note


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10 App Store Games To Watch [4/2/15] Tue, 05 May 2015 17:07:36 +0000 It’s time for another installment of my picks for iOS games that you might want to check out.  Did you miss me?  Anyway, I managed to stay a bit more current this time around, as 8 of the games actually came out this year while the other two are just stragglers from the end of … Read more]]>


It’s time for another installment of my picks for iOS games that you might want to check out.  Did you miss me?  Anyway, I managed to stay a bit more current this time around, as 8 of the games actually came out this year while the other two are just stragglers from the end of 2014.  Under The Sun – A 4D puzzle game takes the concept of getting from point A to point B in a certain number of moves and adds a unique “passage of time” element to the mix.  Star Drift and Super Monster Mayhem: Rampage put a fresh look on a couple of popular genres, and X-Match proves that grids are good for something besides 2048 clones.  The rest of the list provides some decent entertainment as well.


Bob’s Space Adventure [2/16/15] – Imagine the game Asteroids except that you control a spaceman instead of a ship, and that’s pretty much Bob’s Space Adventure.  Well, that and instead of shooting just asteroids you also have to take out lots of goofy aliens.  And, you have to monitor your fuel (unless you buy the infinite fuel upgrade) because if you don’t you die.  Oh, I suppose I should also mention that you can upgrade your weapon and your suit as well as unlock and upgrade power ups that you can then pick up while you’re zooming around space.  If that weren’t enough you can select up to three boosts at the beginning of each run which you can outright pay for or watch videos to acquire if you’re too cheap to even spend your in-game money.  There are even missions you can accomplish to earn gems and Game Center achievements to earn.  I suppose in the end it’s not really a whole lot like Asteroids, but I imagine that caught someone’s attention at least!  This is one of those games I’m honestly not sure I would have gotten around to playing without a bit of nudging from the developer, and now I have a hard time putting it down every time I load it up.

Bob's Space Adventure Red magnet Studios B.V., Bob’s Space Adventure – Free


Super Monster Mayhem: Rampage [3/4/15] – If you remember the old arcade game Rampage as fondly as I do then Super Monster Mayhem will light a spark somewhere in your subconscious.  The game is actually a variant of the seemingly popular woodcutter genre of casual game, but the urban setting and giant monsters are a definite nod to rampant city destruction of days gone by.  Also, instead of knocking layers of the building out like you’d expect from a woodcutter variant, in this game you actually scale the structure as you do your damage.  Swipe right or left to dodge signs that will permanently knock you out, and tap the screen to earn coins by damaging the building or boost your health by taking out innocent civilians.  Besides the permanent death of the signs you can also loose health by playing with fire or getting shot by one of the many cops in the building.  The game has 6 achievements via Game Center and a leaderboard, though the latter always seems to say “no scores”.  Your hard earned coins can be used to buy new monsters to pound the cityscape with.  Super Monster Mayhem can be quite engaging in small spurts, though more fleshed out Game Center options as well as creatures that actually make a difference in game play would take this game to the next level.

Super Monster Mayhem: Rampage eRepublik Labs, Super Monster Mayhem: Rampage – Free


Taichi Panda [3/5/15] – No, this is not the long lost spin-off to Kung Fu Panda.  In fact, the panda is only one of three different characters you can select to take part in this online hack ‘n slash adventure.  There are plenty of realms to explore, all full of goblins, skeletons and main other creepy crawly things that want to kill you.  Destroy the enemy, collect coins and loot and level up to become the ultimate taichi fighter.  Use discarded equipment to enhance what you already have equipped and refine your equipment using special stones to make it even more powerful.  Recruit, upgrade and evolve pets for the ultimate force that simply follows and does your bidding.  There’s a rather extensive single player campaign, and if you get bored with that you can take on players from around the world in one on one arenas or join with them to take on multi-user dungeons with great challenge and even greater rewards.  One might almost speculate that there is too much to do in this game, if such a thing could be said.  There are still several sections that are locked on my main menu, which apparently means I have even more to look forward to.  The game is free to play, and with several severs in operation you’re sure to find a home somewhere.

Taichi Panda Snail Games USA Inc., Taichi Panda – Free


Switch & Drop [2/18/15] – Welcome to a different kind of match 3 game.  In Switch & Drop you swipe left and right to rotate the blocks within the falling row.  It only takes three blocks to make a match, but getting 4 or more in a row will create special blocks that can clear out a more expansive area of the playing field for you.  Also, once matched blocks have cleared away it’s possible for others to tumble down and create chain reactions.  If you’re really lucky you might even be able to manipulate the remainder of the falling row once part of it has come to rest on the blocks at the bottom of the screen.  The game starts off simply requiring you to earn a certain score, and eventually you’ll unlock blitz mode which adds a timer element.  I believe there’s at least one other game play mode, but at the moment I’m struggling to pass the first blitz mode level.  If you have the patience to persevere, however, I think you’ll find much reward in conquering the game’s excess of 100 levels.  Plus, while completely superfluous to actual game play, it’s kind of cool watching the different grid-based objects get filled in on the map as you earn stars on each level.

Switch & Drop Chillingo Ltd, Switch & Drop – Free


Proun+ [11/26/14] – I’ll be the first to admit that I like upgrades, power ups and the whole nine yards when it comes to racing games, but in the end none if it matters if the game doesn’t have a cool set of tracks.  Proun+ offers one of the best and most unique sets of tracks I’ve run across in a racing game in quite some time.  Each one is like a work of art, and while sometimes it can be hard to actually tell where the track is, it doesn’t really matter as you’re speeding through the surreal environments.  Throw in a cool jazz / rock soundtrack and you’ve got quite the ambiance.  The details run something along the lines of 11 individual tracks that can each be raced in 5 different difficulty settings and 3 unique game play modes: normal race, point mode where you must earn a certain score by rolling through point gates and endless mode where you keep going until you run into an obstacle.  Stars are earned based on certain milestones based on game play mode, and difficulty settings are unlocked when the previous one is complete.  Despite the complete lack of upgrades and power ups there is plenty to play for, and you’re not going to see track layouts like these in any standard racing game.

Proun+ Engine Software, Proun+ – $3.99


Don’t Drown! [3/19/15] – It seems like such a simple mandate.  After all, it’s not common to wake up going “gee, I think I’ll let myself drown today”.  Unfortunately the constantly rising waters and randomly placed, inconvenient platforms seem to have a different plan in mind.  Your job is to avoid getting stuck at the bottom of the water chamber for as long as you can by tapping left or right to move your avatar between the platforms that are continually popping up.  Along the way be sure to pick up as many coins as you can as well as any gems you see floating by because the gems actually contain power ups like coin magnet and double score.  Collected coins can be used to upgrade the power ups as well as buy new avatars.  I don’t believe the different characters affect the game play at all, but some of them are pretty cool looking.  The game does offer one leaderboard via Game Center, but at this time there are no achievements to earn.  There’s nothing revolutionary about Don’t Drown, but it handles its genre quite well and the Mario Bros style music can be quite catchy!

Don't Drown! Batuhan Can, Don’t Drown! – Free


Faraway Kingdom – Dragon Raiders [10/7/14] – I’ve tried many of these “play and wait” style games and quite frankly they all tend to feel the same to me after a while.  There’s something about the combination of elements in Faraway Kingdom that seems to resonate a bit differently, however.  On the surface (pun mostly intended) it’s a city building sim, but that currently seems to be limited pretty much to adding houses for your heroes to live in, which is just fine with me.  Directly below the city is a series of dungeons you can unlock and send exploration parties to, and aside from collecting the treasure at the end of the battle these are pretty much hands off experiences.  Send a party in and let them do there thing, and in the mean time you can take care of business elsewhere.  Finally you have the raiding parties which go to lands beyond your city walls and conquer all sorts of creatures, ultimately looking for the nasty red dragon.  These trips are a bit more interactive as you can unleash special abilities on your foes, though the brunt of the combat is still handled by the computer.  Through all of this your pool of heroes levels up and expands, and you can beef them up even more with equipment you buy and find along the way.  The 8 bit style graphics are great, and the music is well written.  If you’re ready to save a kingdom from the underground up, Faraway Kingdom just might be for you.

Faraway Kingdom - Dragon Raiders Smilegate West, Inc., Faraway Kingdom – Dragon Raiders – Free


Star Drift [2/24/15] – Imagine a scrolling shooter with the simple control scheme of a Flappy Bird style game and you have Star Drift.  You basically hop from sector to sector blasting bad guys, collecting power ups and not taking names.  The basic power ups are rapid fire, spread shot and traction, each of which has several levels of upgrade.  In an interesting twist the power ups actually have a “shelf life”, though if you have multiple levels of a given power up you only go down to the next level when the time runs out.  Along the way you collect currency that allows you to buy upgrades between levels.  Even if you have enough money for more you can only buy one upgrade per level, so you have to decide what’s most important to you.  Besides the standard power ups you’ll have the chance to buy things like missiles (highly recommended) or an upgrade that levels up all owned upgrades to their maximum level.  Besides the standard levels you’ll occasionally run into a scenario where you’re actually getting chased by a ship and just have to dodge it for a certain length of time, and you also might pick up viruses that temporarily disable all of your weapons.  A leaderboard and 24 achievements round out the game play package, while slick visuals and a good soundtrack wrap it all up in a pretty bow.

Star Drift Squarehead Studios, Star Drift – $0.99


Under the Sun – A 4D puzzle game [2/25/15] – A stranger is stranded on a series of bizarre islands, and all he wants to do is get to the fire before nightfall.  The problem is that these islands have a rather warped sense of time, and each step the stranger takes ages him dramatically.  Not only that, but the entire contents of the island can change in the blink of an eye: plants grow and wither, bridges and ladders rot and fall apart, and the tides rise to engulf the land.  Each island only allows so many steps before your character grows old and dies, so choose your actions wisely.  Thankfully there is no timer to stress you out or rob you of time to think, and if you happen to make some bad decisions you can reverse time to whichever step you’d like to start again at.  The world is currently divided into 10 areas with 6 levels each, and you must pass 3 levels to unlock the next area.  Completing an area awards you with a treasure chest (which you can’t currently open), and you can play the levels within an area in any order to let your brain rest from the particularly difficult ones.  This is old school puzzle gaming at its best, and should provide a nice challenge for anyone that likes to actually think about games instead of just blasting their way to victory.

Under the Sun - A 4D puzzle game Stegabyte, Under the Sun – A 4D puzzle game – Free


X-Match | unique puzzle [2/6/15] – At first glance you might think this is just another 2048 clone, but don’t let the author know you’re thinking that!  The reality is that while it has a slight similarity to that genre of game play, X-Match really is a whole different ball game.  Instead of sliding tiles across the board you simply tap on a square and any like numbered tiles that are in line with that square horizontally or vertically will merge to form a bigger number.  Once the resulting number grows beyond 8 it will form an X, and combining two or more Xs is how you get your score.  There are a couple of other nuances as well, but you’ll figure those out as you play.  The game currently offers two game play modes, but if you’re skill isn’t any better than mine you might not see the second one since you need to score 100 points on Normal mode to access Mutant mode.  If you’re looking for a challenging puzzle game that’s grid based and not a 2048 clone, X-Match is definitely worth a try.  I just hope they decide to add a soundtrack in a future update.

X-Match - observation & discretion challenge. Latest recommended unique & ingenious puzzle Liqing Pan, X-Match – observation & discretion challenge. Latest recommended unique & ingenious puzzle – Free

Well that wraps up another edition of games to watch on the App Store. As always, if there’s something you’ve played recently that you feel should be part of this list, please leave a reply to this post. Previous weekly installments of our App Store Games Roundup:

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Maya The Bee: Flying Challenge in Review – Kid Friendly, Infinite Flying Fun Sat, 21 Mar 2015 20:02:32 +0000 Looking at the screen shots for Flying Challenge I had a feeling this was going to be geared towards kids.  Spending some time with the game has basically confirmed that suspicion, though that’s in no way meant to be a negative towards the game.  It certainly has all the hallmarks of your typical infinite runner … Read more]]>


Looking at the screen shots for Flying Challenge I had a feeling this was going to be geared towards kids.  Spending some time with the game has basically confirmed that suspicion, though that’s in no way meant to be a negative towards the game.  It certainly has all the hallmarks of your typical infinite runner (or in this case flyer), but it tones things down a bit for the sake of the little ones.  None of that stopped me from wanting to keep playing the game instead of taking my son down to the bus on the morning when I was writing this review.


You control Maya – and eventually Willy if you’re willy-ing to spend a buck via IAP to buy him – in a quest to help Mrs. Cassandra collect some flowers for a lesson she wants to teach.  There are 10 plants to collect altogether, and you shouldn’t be surprised if you go many rounds between finding each one.  Thankfully that’s not all there is to do, however.  At the beginning of each run you’ll be presented with three missions to complete, some of which are actually kind of challenging.  Maya’s even nice enough to recycle missions as you complete them, which is a good thing since there’s no way to skip a mission you deem especially difficult.  The other thing you can do is collect honeycombs which serve the dual purpose of keeping your meter full so you can continue to fly and providing you the in-game currency needed to upgrade three different skills.

To control your selected bee you can either tilt the screen or use a one finger touch control.  Now I never claim to be an expert at playing games, but the touch control seems to elude me on this one.  On the other hand, the tilt control is one of the best calibrated I’ve seen in an infinite travelling style game.  Besides the missions the game does offer a Leaderboard via Game Center, but there are no achievements either related to the missions or otherwise.  The biggest problem I have with this game is it lacks the diversity of power up and character unlocks that I’ve come to expect from this style of game play.  In fact, the only additional character you can unlock you have to pay for, and the same goes for the one “unlockable” world.  What’s worse is that besides redecorating the obstacles, introducing a new world into the mix doesn’t even add anything to the game play.  I think the standard game is decent if a bit lacking, but I’m not really seeing much point in investing in the IAP unless you have to have a second playable character.


The graphics in Flying Challenge are very nice.  The 3D scrolling images in the foreground look decent and rarely manifest clipping issues, and the static background does a good job of providing depth while avoiding the draw-in issues that are common with engines that try and simulate a vast viewpoint.  The main character is pretty cute, too.  The sound effects are okay, and the voiceover is cute for a while but can get on your nerves quickly, which means the kids will probably love it.  The soundtrack is well written but appears to be comprised of only one or two songs (I think it’s just one fairly long one).  It would be nice if each world at least had its own theme.

Maya The Bee: Flying Challenge is what I would call an introduction to infinite games, and that it does pretty well.  The environment and the cute bee should entertain the kids, and there’s actually enough substance that parents might like to take it for a spin once in a while.  Hardcore infinite runners that thrill at the likes of Temple Run will probably be disappointed, however.  The lack in variety of obstacles to avoid, limited power ups to upgrade and no characters to unlock via in-game currency severely limit the long term replay factor.  There’s plenty of potential here, and hopefully it will get explored more fully in the future.


App Summary
Title: Maya The Bee: Flying Challenge Developer: Bulkypix
Reviewed Ver:  1.1 Min OS Req:  5.0
Price: $0.99 App Size:  57.6 MB
  • Lots of missions to complete
  • Nice visuals
  • Good music
  • Touch control is flaky
  • Limited power ups and no character unlockables
  • Different environments don’t impact game play
  • Voiceovers get annoying


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10 App Store Games To Watch [3/13/15] Fri, 13 Mar 2015 06:25:00 +0000 Everyone order their Apple Watches yet?  Personally, I think I’ll stick to something with a slightly bigger screen that doesn’t have to sit on my wrist for the time being.  Not that I’ve got that out of the way, how about we talk iOS games?  I’m reaching back into the archives again, in one case … Read more]]>


Everyone order their Apple Watches yet?  Personally, I think I’ll stick to something with a slightly bigger screen that doesn’t have to sit on my wrist for the time being.  Not that I’ve got that out of the way, how about we talk iOS games?  I’m reaching back into the archives again, in one case going all the way back to 2012.  But, the way I figure it, if the game still captures my attention then it is still worth playing.  Hopefully you’ll feel the same way about any number of these selections.


Planet Quest [2/12/15] – I don’t really fancy myself a rhythm game addict as I’ve never gotten into the likes of Guitar Hero or such games.  However, give me an oddball specimen like Planet Quest and my white, middle aged non-rhythmic sensibilities take over.  The best I can tell you’re a near sighted alien on a quest to collect foreign animal species, though as it turns out all you manage to gather are goofy humans dressed in furry costumes.  The trick is that you have to collect your specimens on the beat of the music, though if you’re slightly off you’ll at least get an okay and the “pleasure” of keeping the human’s costume.  Just be sure you don’t miss, or worse yet slip up and try to suck up a flower wearing freak.  All that’s required to play the game is your ability to tap the screen and some concept of timing, though how good you are at mastering those things will be determined by your ranking on the leaderboard and how many achievements you earn.  The down side is that the developer decided to go with their own online system, so you’ll have to register an account or show up in the rankings with some anonymous user name.  The graphics are lots of fun, the music is great, and whether you have any musical inclination or not there’s a good chance you’ll get addicted to this one.

Planet Quest OutOfTheBit Ltd, Planet Quest – Free


Top Tank [11/16/14] – The best way I can think of to describe Top Tank is to call it the arcade version of Scorched Earth.  It’s you against an army of tanks, with a few helicopters and fighter planes thrown in for good measure.  Controlling your tank is simple – press the fire button and hold until your turret is at the angle you want and then release to fire.  You can do the same with the special weapon button if you have one equipped.  The thing you have to keep in mind is that the enemies are constantly moving, so what might be a good angle at the time possibly won’t work once the projectile gets to its supposed target.  Also, if a tank gets too close it’s very difficult to get rid of it.  There are statistics at the end of each run like how many kills you made and your largest combo (number of kills without missing), and the game also has one leaderboard and 11 achievements through Twitter.  In addition to that, for every so many miles you travel you’ll unlock a new location to obliterate.  The biggest problem with the game is lack of variety – there are only a couple of different special weapon types and you only get one tank to choose from.  The game is still pretty fun, but a good dose on unlockables would make this one a real standout.

Top Tank Fun Fetched, Top Tank – $0.99


Cards and Castles [4/11/14] – Cards and Castles is a CCG with a twist: instead of battling using the cards themselves as is typical these days, in Cards and Castles you drag the cards onto a playing field and they transform into units or structures that you then use in a more traditional turn based game of warfare.  You start out with a basic deck and over time you’ll earn cards as you progress through various scenarios.  You can also buy cards in the store using CP (card points) or BP (bit points).  Interestingly enough it appears that you can only buy BP via IAP, though theoretically that means you can get just about anything by playing the game enough.  There are several single player scenarios to work through, and when you feel up to it you can take on the world in one on one battles either live or asynchronously.  From what I can tell you can even bring a friend in when you’re struggling with one of the levels on a scenario.  This is a well done mash up of genres that is worth taking a look at if you’re a fan of strategy based games.

Cards and Castles Bit Mass LLC, Cards and Castles – Free


I Hate Fish [1/8/15] – Welcome to flappy worm on steroids.  Not only do you get an “up” button, but you also get the option to accelerate and if you acquire certain weapons you can launch them on command – as long as your charger is full.  The game is comprised of several stages, each of which has three goals to accomplish.  Thankfully you can clear each goal individually if it’s easier for you, and in some cases it might be the only way you can get all three.  Not that it’s such a bad thing because each run through you can collect additional money which lets you unlock cool new weapons and upgrade what you already have.  The game features 39 achievements through Game Center, and at this point there are no leaderboards.  This is also a great game for kids, as the graphics, sound and music all resonate “cute and energetic”.  Besides, what youngster wouldn’t love a worm in a submarine?

I Hate Fish Fingersoft, I Hate Fish – Free


Star Marine: Infinite Ammo [1/11/12] – This is an oldie, and quite frankly the first time I played it I dismissed it as feeling kind of cheap.  I recently saw it featured in an article on retro gaming for iOS devices, and playing it again I realize I might have been too rash with my first reaction.  The game starts out feeling like Contra in space, but apparently before too long you end up on an alien planet at which point it would be like Contra with a guy dressed in a space suit.  Each level is filled with plenty of nasty alien creatures to destroy, and when you earn enough points from said destruction you’ll earn a gem.  You can also get gems from beating a nice collection of challenges.  These games can be used to buy new weapons or upgrade the weapons you have as well as to replenish your supply of angel wings, stimpacks and nukes which are used to lift you out of pits, restore health and destroy everything on screen respectively.  In addition to the main campaign there are several bonus missions that can be played once you’ve unlocked them by completing certain levels of the main mission.  This is a must have for platform lovers and those that remember what a 16 bit console was.

Star Marine: Infinite Ammo GlitchSoft, Star Marine: Infinite Ammo – $1.99


Dino And Jack – The Lost Bones [2/25/15] – Make no bones about it, Dino and Jack is a cute infinite runner.  I won’t bark up the wrong tree and say that the game does anything particularly unique for the genre, but I still find it hard to tear myself away from the game once I start.  If you’re ever in the dog house and need something to pass the time for a while, why not take little Jack for a run and collect some bones while taking out flies, mosquitoes, fish and assorted other creatures that don’t mind taking a bite out of you.  This is a game where your bark is definitely worse than your bite, but when that’s not powerful enough you have banana, bee and coconut guns at your disposal, all of which can be upgraded with the bones you collect.  There are a few other aspects of your character that can be upgraded as well, and if you’re feeling stylish you can purchase hats, fancy colars and even a doggie makeover to get the ladies howling.  The game does offer a leaderboard and 45 achievements through Game Center, and completing the achievements earns you keys which can be used to revive in the game when you die.  The kids will love the cute graphics and fun sound effects, and even you adults might find it addictive after a while.

Dino And Jack - The Lost Bones Gamicals, Dino And Jack – The Lost Bones – Free


Candy Crush Soda Saga [11/11/14] – I really didn’t give Candy Crush Saga much of a try, but as I was installing some games the other day this one came up in a search I did so I thought I’d give it a shot.  So far the basic game mechanics pretty much mirror most other match 3 games.  I’ve run into three different goals so far, and I do like the one where you have to get the gummy bear above a candy rope line by clearing a path for it to float up.  Where this game gets exciting, however, is when you start mixing power ups.  There’s one power up that gets rid of every candy of whatever type you swap it for, and then there’s my favorite power up – the gummy fish.  When you get this one it will swim to a crucial piece in your puzzle and clear it way for you.  Combine the two and you get a hailstorm of fish nibbling away at your board.  Even if you complete the goal for a given board there are 3 stars to earn, so in many cases there will be incentive to try a board again for that high score.  There’s no Game Center here but you can connect with your friends via Facebook.  Cute characters will draw in the kids and challenging levels will keep the adults busy for a while as well.

Candy Crush Soda Saga Limited, Candy Crush Soda Saga – Free


Max Axe – Epic Adventure! [10/30/13] – This isn’t the first weapon flinging adventure for iOS, and I’m certain it won’t be the last.  It is one of the most entertaining ones I’ve played so far, though.  You are Max, and your quest is the destruction of basically everything you have the power to destroy.  Luckily the areas you visit are full of slimes, dragons, trolls and various other assorted nasty creatures, as well as plenty of shrubs, stumps and other landscape that you can demolish.  Your weapon of choice is the axe, which you can upgrade to do more damage.  You can also get better gloves to throw farther and nifty helmets that protect you from more blows.  Collect coins and gems to purchase these and other upgrades, and find ancient artifacts to increase special power ups.  Complete quests to unlock new items to buy and set your own destiny by choosing between various paths as you stroll along in your quest.  There’s plenty to explore, tons of monsters to crush and numerous quests to complete.  You can even slay your friends’ ghosts if you connect with Facebook.

Max Axe - Epic Adventure! Crazy Labs, Max Axe – Epic Adventure! – Free


Infinity Dungeon [12/21/14] – At first I wasn’t really too sure about this game.  It’s another casual side scrolling dungeon crawler where your hand to hand character automatically attacks but you control special attacks and abilities via four buttons near the bottom of the screen.  Every creature you defeat earns you gold and in some cases you might even earn a gem, both of which are used to upgrade 5 different traits between the two characters.  If you earn enough gems through play time or by completing special offers (or buying them via IAP) you can even buy a few special super cool items to help you on your quest to conquer the dungeon.  Every time you defeat a level you’ll leave a dwarf there to mine you some extra gold, and as funds permit you can expand the amount of gold that can be mined before the cart must be emptied.  Thanks to Game Center there are three different leaderboards to rank on as well as 25 achievements to earn.  This is definitely not going to satiate anyone looking for a deep RPG experience, but if you want something that you can load up and play for five minutes or an hour as time permits, Infinity Dungeon will certainly do the trick.

Infinity Dungeon! Dai-Hyun Kwon, Infinity Dungeon! – $0.99


Three Crush [1/7/15] – Ready for another 2048?  This game certainly takes its cues from that puzzle classic, but it also throws in a couple of features that make this one outshine much of its competition.  As always the goal of the game is to swipe tiles of the same number into each other to create tiles of a bigger number.  In this case, once you get past 48 the tiles come with some nifty pictures of monsters on them as well.  Of course the loose premise behind this is that you’re trying to impress the League of Numbers, presumably so you can gain entrance to this “exclusive” club.  One thing you’ll notice early on is that the numbers don’t cap quite as soon as many of these games – the biggest monster I’ve uncovered so far is worth 6K and I’ve still got eleven monsters to unveil.  Where the game gets real interesting is if you match 3 or more of the same number you’ll create gems which can be used to eliminate entire rows or even clear the grid and bump everything up a level.  You can only use three of each color gem per game, but they definitely come in handy in a jam.  Currently the game only supports Facebook for social networking, but at least you can still compare scores and invite your friends to join the fun.

Three Crush Jandas, Three Crush – Free

Well that wraps up another edition of games to watch on the App Store. As always, if there’s something you’ve played recently that you feel should be part of this list, please leave a reply to this post. Previous weekly installments of our App Store Games Roundup:

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Swipe to Kill: Designing An HTML5 Mobile Game Thu, 05 Mar 2015 05:48:06 +0000 Fancy yourself a game developer, but don’t know where to start?  Looking for development tools with little monetary overhead that support multiple mobile platforms?  Do you like match 3 / RPG style games?  Gregory Ellis might just have the solution for you… if you’re willing to help give his project a bit of a Kickstart!  … Read more]]>


Fancy yourself a game developer, but don’t know where to start?  Looking for development tools with little monetary overhead that support multiple mobile platforms?  Do you like match 3 / RPG style games?  Gregory Ellis might just have the solution for you… if you’re willing to help give his project a bit of a Kickstart!  The name of the game is Swipe To Kill, and the goal behind the project is for the developer to provide a complete tutorial along with fully documented source code so you can develop your own game of this style in no time flat.  Since the format of choice is HTML5, CSS and JavaScript there’s nothing to buy unless you want a special editor that supports the syntax for these common web development paradigms, and you could probably even find a few of those for free as well.  To find out what you can do to support this developer’s aspirations check out the Kickstarter page here: Swipe to Kill: HTML5 Mobile Game & Development Tutorial.

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Mind Snares: Alice’s Journey HD in Review – Creepy Visions Make Nifty Games Mon, 02 Mar 2015 03:32:17 +0000 If you’ve been adventure gaming on your iPhone or iPad for long I’m sure you’ve run across a G5 adventure or two.  The name Artifex Mundi might not sound quite as familiar, but they had their hands in both the Nightmares from the Deep series and Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden, both of which I’ve … Read more]]>


If you’ve been adventure gaming on your iPhone or iPad for long I’m sure you’ve run across a G5 adventure or two.  The name Artifex Mundi might not sound quite as familiar, but they had their hands in both the Nightmares from the Deep series and Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden, both of which I’ve given high regards to.  Their latest combined effort is Mind Snares: Alice’s Journey, and having just finished it I’d say it deserves the Artifex Mundi branding.  Excellent visuals, theatrical quality music and an odd storyline do a great job of keeping you entranced to the very end.  Either this version wasn’t the collector’s edition or the typical bonus adventure was strangely absent this time around, but there was more than enough main game play to make up for that missing element.


You play the role of Alice, a run down middle class laborer who is basically unhappy with her life.  On your way to a client you run off the road, and the journey that ensues is one of weird dreams and enlightening quests.  Alice certainly has a vivid imagination, as her black robed spirit guide takes her through a “living doll” factory, the salvation of a half dying tree and the quest to feed some old hag her supper.  Through it all you’ll have to complete plenty of object quests, solve a few mini-games and explore several hidden object scenes.  The game is broken up into an intro and four main chapters, and of them I think I liked chapter one the best as it had the most enjoyable ratio tasks: object puzzles took center stage, mini games came next and hidden object scenes were minimal.  As the game progressed the amount of hidden object scenes increased, and while I have nothing against them I’m finding that I much prefer the object based puzzles like adventure games of old.

Control is just what you’d expect from this style of game.  Double tap where you want to move, tap to pick up objects and interact with the scene, and tap or drag to use inventory items with something on the screen.  The mini games are all fairly basic and require little beyond simple tapping or dragging.  While conceptually some of the games were different then I’ve seen in the past, it would have been nice if there were a bit more innovation in interacting with the device itself, like tilting or maybe even using the camera.  The game has the standard difficulty settings that alter things like the time between hint recharges and whether or not “hot spots” sparkle so they are easier to find.  The game does have several achievements you can earn, and what it thankfully doesn’t have is any of those “collect 50 of these throughout the game” type objects.


As usual the visuals are top notch, with finely detailed backgrounds, well rendered hidden object scenes and cool looking characters.  And as usual the main drawback is that the lip syncing always seems a bit off.  The sound effects are decent enough, and the voice acting is actually pretty good.  I also think they did a really good job with the music.  It’s not distracting, and when you actually take the time to listen to it you’ll hear that it’s quite well written.

Overall I really enjoyed Mind Snares: Alice’s Journey.  I don’t get to do a complete play through on games very often any more, but this one kept me going until the end was right there.  I would have liked to have seen the balance of game play styles stay consistent based on the first chapter, but other than that I have no complaints.  If you are an adventure game fan, and especially if you’ve played other Artifex Mundi games, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.


App Summary
Title: Mind Snares: Alice’s Journey HD Developer: G5 Entertainment
Reviewed Ver:  1.0 Min OS Req:  5.1.1
Price: Free App Size:  779 MB
  • Interesting story
  • Lots of game play
  • Great visuals
  • Excellent music
  • As game progresses the balance of game play elements gets worse


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