TouchMyApps » Mikey Ehrenworth http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:52:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.5 Squids Wild West in Review – The Good, The Bad, or the Ugly? http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/10/squids-wild-west-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/10/squids-wild-west-in-review/#comments Tue, 10 Jul 2012 13:53:56 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=68928 Everyone’s favourite squids have ridden their way back into our palms in The Game Bakers latest entry into the cult classic Squids franchise. Squids Wild West continues the story of the first game (TMA Review) and pulls the setting into an adorable underwater Western world. The Game Bakers have stuck to what they know, which in this case … Read more]]>

Everyone’s favourite squids have ridden their way back into our palms in The Game Bakers latest entry into the cult classic Squids franchise. Squids Wild West continues the story of the first game (TMA Review) and pulls the setting into an adorable underwater Western world. The Game Bakers have stuck to what they know, which in this case is a very good thing. While little has changed from Squids, subtle improvements have been made to the game’s fluidity, along with minor introductions such as mounted seahorses for your squid-slinging pleasure.

In the updated adventure you play as the same band of squids from the first game as they venture back to Clint’s beaten up hometown of Seawood. The group sets off to search for new recruits and struggle to save their underwater world from an infectious black sludge which turns all that it touches into some form of evil incarnate. On your way you’ll run into several different characters, each of whom fit into one of four classes and have their own well developed personalities and abilities.

The ability to change, level up, and equip your squids is great, but the interface itself could use work

In fact, everything about the game is very well developed. The storyline is surprisingly engaging, and while it only takes the form of cut scenes it manages to add a level of depth and an element of heightened significance to what would otherwise be generic, puzzle driven levels. Case in point: I often elected to make up my squad of squids–my squid squad, if you will– based on their personalities as opposed to superior skillsets. I actually felt bad leaving Steev out of the battles in spite of Ronimo’s more appealing attributes. You might say I really cared about whose tentacles I was pulling on.

The levels themselves generally have the player destroy all enemies or reach an exit, but enough variation is included to keep these tasks from getting stale. This is largely due to the addicting mechanics which remain largely unchanged from the original Squids game. Movement requires the player to grab a squid’s tentacles, pull back, and release. More or less power can be applied based on how far back the tentacles are pulled, and the direction can be adjusted according to the angle at which they are pulled. Additional damage and points are awarded based on different tactical shots, and special moves can be incorporated based on each squid’s class. When you get the hang of using your squids in tandem during your turn, and finding the essential differences between classes, you’ll find SWW exceptionally difficult to put down.

Pull back on your squid's tentacles and release it in their direction to launch at your enemies

All other contributing components are treated with tentacle-tangling detail. The music is better than the vast majority of current Western movies, let alone iOS games, while the actual level and character designs take elementary ideas and flesh them out in brilliant ways. If you’re having trouble imagining how it all fits together, think Rango. It’s a mature story in a childish setting, but neither element is diluted as a result. In bringing this game to bear, The Game Bakers knew precisely what they were aiming for, and they nailed it.

More elaborate attacks include bounce attacks, bank shots, and more, and each one is rewarded with more pearls

The biggest knock against the game comes with the actual difficulty. At certain points the levels can become intensely frustrating, and the only way around this is to revert to earlier levels and grind out perfect 3 star scores. Points earned in this manner are used to level up your characters and purchase new helmets which improve their stats through an acceptable albeit clunky interface. While great in theory, this recurrent dichotomy ultimately takes away from the overall experience. At the point at which levels become too hard, and all your experience point (referred to as pearls) have been exhausted, the earlier levels become far too easy to come back to. Not only does this dull down the enjoyment and challenge of the grind, it also makes the later levels too easy once you’ve improved enough to get back to them. Unfortunately, this means that traditional grinding and levelling makes the game far too easy, whereas forgoing the process makes the game essentially unbeatable. One way around this is via IAPs, where players can purchase in-game items with real money to help boost the stats of their squids, thus eliminating the need to replay levels for those valuable pearls.

Qualms aside, Squids Wild West is what every iOS game should strive to be. Its story, mechanics, music, and design are all flawless. However, this game is in dire need of balance adjustments, and this is an issue that cannot be overlooked. It creates black holes of frustration and harshly limits any replay value. In spite of this, SWW undoubtedly warrants a shot from most people with fingers, and absolutely everyone with tentacles.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Squids Wild West Developer: The Game Bakers
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0 Min OS Req: 4.0
Price: $0.99 App Size: 210.09MB
  • Perfectly realized tone, world, and mechanics
  • Rewarding and satisfying gameplay
  • Surprisingly entertaining story
  • iCloud sync for game saves
  • Unbalanced difficulty Curve
  • Clunky user interface

appstoreicon

Read more]]>
http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/10/squids-wild-west-in-review/feed/ 3
Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia in Review – Skeletal Genocide on an Evil Scale http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/09/defender-chronicles-ii-heroes-of-athelia-in-review-skeletal-genocide-on-an-evil-scale/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/09/defender-chronicles-ii-heroes-of-athelia-in-review-skeletal-genocide-on-an-evil-scale/#comments Mon, 09 Jul 2012 15:48:56 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=68914 As someone who spends quite a bit of time with the many forms of iOS, I see roughly as many Tower Defense games in a month as there are base foot soldiers in any given TD game. However, every so often one of them is good enough to break through my defenses and march straight … Read more]]>

As someone who spends quite a bit of time with the many forms of iOS, I see roughly as many Tower Defense games in a month as there are base foot soldiers in any given TD game. However, every so often one of them is good enough to break through my defenses and march straight into my good books. Such is the challenge facing Gimka Entertainment with their offering of Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia.

In DC2, players must defend the world of Athelia from the evil armies attempting to take it over. Their motives? No one truly knows, but I believe it’s safe to assume they’re not simply looking for a new place to buy more crooked staffs, black robes, and ragged skeleton pants.

As is the case with any Tower Defense game, the actual mechanics are generally what allow the cream to rise. My first impression of DC2 was that the controls were actually somewhat clunky. While I did end up getting used to them, my initial qualms lead me to believe that the overall design isn’t quite as intuitive as it could be.

The 2D platform view works, but excessive waves of enemies can lead to serious, indecipherable clutter

Building encampments requires three button presses, and each press requires you to touch a different spot on the screen. For example, to build an infantryman station you must select an open area, press the infantryman icon which pops up on the bottom right of the screen, then tap the build site again. On occasion class icons can actually cover the area on which you are building. In these situations you can’t make the third tap without moving the camera, which ends up aborting the building process entirely. This seems miniscule, but in tight situations it can be quite bothersome.

Controls aside, DC2 manages to introduce a level of depth which is not seen in most other games in the same genre. Players may choose from one of four heroes to help lead their troops, and each hero has his or her own set of skills, weapons, attacks, and troops. In addition, each hero can be leveled up and given skill points with which to increase the effectiveness of their commanded units.

The levelling and equipment systems for each hero take some getting used to, but they can become as addicting as the tower defense itself

This aspect almost makes it as much RPG as it is Tower Defense, which may actually split its player base down the middle. For those looking for a pick up and play game into which they don’t have to invest much thought outside of where they place their troops, this will be very off-putting. However, players looking for a much more demanding game will fall in love with the hours of grinding and levels which, on occasion, may take up to as long as forty minutes. Hell, simply learning the leveling and equipment systems is a task which might take some less committed players up to two hours to fully understand.

On a more technical level, the game won’t exactly grab anyone with its visuals. In fact, the blocky character design looks somewhat like it was taken directly from RPG Maker. Okay, that might be a little cruel. Let’s say RPG Maker 2 (or some incarnation thereof). In spite of this, visuals are rarely the draw of a good game in this genre.

After 40 minutes, when the boss makes it to your final encampment on wave 114, the line between throwing your hands in the air, and your iPad at the wall is extremely thin

Levels are set up on a platformer-esque 2D plane akin to that of any of the famous “run and jump from left to right” games of the past. It’s an interesting response to the standard bird’s eye view, and aside from minor clutter and an occasional inability to decipher which area of the level the enemies are charging, it works fairly well.

Defender Chronicles 2 may initially come off as a drop in the pond, but it certainly manages to achieve the sought after “it” factor which shoots addiction into the hearts of Tower Defense fans. The one barrier to entry is the commitment of time and effort. The breakdown is simple: If I’m looking for a tower defense fix, and I’m not on an airplane for 3 hours, I’ll likely boot up something more along the lines of Kingdom Rush (TMA Review). However, if I know I have a good chunk of free time, Defender Chronicles 2: Heroes of Athelia is an excellent way to fully engross myself in the cultish glare of an iPad screen.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia Developer: Gimka Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.1.1 Min OS Req: 3.2
Price: $0.99 App Size: 208.31MB
  • Innovative RPG elements
  • Highly addictive gameplay
  • Perfect for those looking to invest a lot of time
  • Clunky interface
  • Extremely long missions
  • Forgettable graphics and design

appstoreicon

Read more]]>
http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/09/defender-chronicles-ii-heroes-of-athelia-in-review-skeletal-genocide-on-an-evil-scale/feed/ 1
Sugar High in Review – Sweet Before the Crash http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/06/18/sugar-high-in-review-sweet-before-the-crash/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/06/18/sugar-high-in-review-sweet-before-the-crash/#comments Mon, 18 Jun 2012 13:31:41 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=68659 I really wanted to hate this game. Everything from the icon, to the design, to the introductory “story,” to the overly simplified controls initially made my skin crawl. I could only expect for this feeling to continue on as I trudged through next few hours of gameplay. It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth run … Read more]]>

I really wanted to hate this game. Everything from the icon, to the design, to the introductory “story,” to the overly simplified controls initially made my skin crawl. I could only expect for this feeling to continue on as I trudged through next few hours of gameplay. It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth run through that I realized my cynicism had become, dare I say it, sugar coated. My frustrations began to find grounding in the fact that I wasn’t doing as well as I knew I could as opposed to a true aversion to the game itself. This is when I realized that I had more of a sweet tooth than I would have ever guessed.

Given their name, Shortbreak Studios seem to have achieved exactly what they were aiming for with Sugar High. The game is clearly intended for bite sized consumption with each play through (or “dream”) lasting less than five minutes. The story itself, if one could call it that, might as well be nonexistent. You play as a dog named Biscuit—although the only mention of his name seems to be in the game’s description—who was sent to bed without being fed. Sidestepping any obvious cliché’s, Sugar High tasks you with guiding Biscuit through his dreams of devouring as many sweets as possible while outrunning a ghastly and sincerely terrifying clock with teeth.

Spoiler alert! The entire game is a dream!

To some this task may actually seem too simple. You help Biscuit navigate the hilly cake terrain with only one action at your disposal: touching the screen. Anywhere. Thumb the direct middle of the screen if you so desire. Wherever you decide to touch, it causes Biscuit to build momentum by diving towards the ground. Subsequently, lifting your finger will lift him into the air. When timed right, you dive, land on the downslope of a hill, and launch yourself just before its peak (remember Tiny Wings?). The mechanics don’t exactly melt your mind in the way that those of the game QWOP would, but their simplicity still requires players to use tactful, challenging, and addictive dollops of precision and timing.

If it weren’t for these mechanics the game would be sorely lacking in redeeming qualities. The design is cute, but not original, the sound is catchy, but repetitive, and the story is barely as intriguing as the narrative recounting the reasons you went to work today. Luckily for Sugar High, and for the player, the gameplay alone is enough to carry it high into the cotton candy clouds.

The clock monster will haunt your dreams. Not Biscuit's dreams. Your dreams.

In spite of this, there are a few elements which keep Sugar High from reaching the ranks of many of the must-have bite sized games. For one, there is a serious lack of variety. While the gameplay works well and can easily entertain for a few hours, once the game begins to get stale there’s really no saving it. Where a staple game like Angry Birds has similar simplistic, pick up and play controls, it manages stay fresh by incorporating level variety and new tweaks along the way. A new puzzle mode, additional tricks, or some type of imagined storyline would likely double the time of consumption. Ideally this will be addressed in coming updates.

Levels take the form of "cakes," but don't bring anything different to the table aside from a new colour scheme.

Even still, Sugar High is well worth the price of admission. If you can look past some of the design issues (which, in all honesty, may not be issues at all to some people), and make it through a few rounds to familiarize yourself with the controls, you’ll be treated to yet another wonderful time waster.

App Summary
Title: Sugar High Developer: Shortbreak Studios
Reviewed Ver: 1.1 Min OS Req:
Price: $0.99 App Size: 47.89MB
  • Highly addictive, simplistic gameplay
  • Easy to play in short bursts
  • Friendly learning curve
  • Universal app
  • Suffers from a lack of variation
  • Overall design is somewhat unoriginal
  • Annoyingly repetetive music

appstoreicon

Read more]]>
http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/06/18/sugar-high-in-review-sweet-before-the-crash/feed/ 0
Quarrel Deluxe in Review – The Pen is Mightier… http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/04/06/quarrel-deluxe-in-review-the-pen-is-mightier/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/04/06/quarrel-deluxe-in-review-the-pen-is-mightier/#comments Fri, 06 Apr 2012 14:06:34 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=67472 I’ve never been so frustrated with tiny men lacking in necks, arms, and legs. Oddly enough I also can’t remember the last time I fell quite so in love with them. Such is life in the land of Quarrel Deluxe: at times an exhilarating dose of brain-busting competition, and at others… phone-throwingly frustrating. What is … Read more]]>

The appendages to limbs ratio in this game is simply staggering.

I’ve never been so frustrated with tiny men lacking in necks, arms, and legs. Oddly enough I also can’t remember the last time I fell quite so in love with them. Such is life in the land of Quarrel Deluxe: at times an exhilarating dose of brain-busting competition, and at others… phone-throwingly frustrating. What is Quarrel, you ask? It’s an unfortunately overlooked game cast into a world in which games just like it have already planted their flags. There is little room to move on the map over which apps such as Words With Friends already rule. However, if Quarrel were to advance on their territories it would do so with the word value of SCRABBLE, and all the war strategy of RISK.

The stylistic elements of Quarrel, while consistently cute and well realized, are easily the most uninventive aspect of the overall package. The lacklustre map and “been there, done that” character design do nothing to serve as a testament to how complex this game can actually be. Unfortunately this means that more mature gamers might shy away before they even give it a try.

The map design serves its purpose, but doesn't do anything to improve the aesthetic qualities of the game.

If Quarrel truly wanted to set itself apart in this saturated market it may have been more advantageous to implement a style which differentiates itself from the competition. While it certainly borrows from, and improves upon, the gameplay of its competitors, its layout and design simply feel like an unimaginative carbon copy of many games which came before it.

The characters range from bubbly little military men, to bubbly little ninja women, to bubbly little robots, and none of them have necks, arms, or legs. This may not make them seem like the most ideal form of foot soldier, but what they do have is their words, and luckily that’s all they’ll need. How does that saying go?

Aesthetic qualities aside, the gameplay of Quarrel is really what matters. In each match 2-4 players are assigned territories on a map and are tasked with invading the occupied zones of their opponents. The end goal? Total domination. The cutest damn domination you’ve ever seen.

Battalions are given the same anagram with which to form competing words. Players not involved in the battle are also encouraged to find their own words in order to add to their points total.

This may sound familiar, but where a game like Risk employs dice rolls to determine the victor of each battle, Quarrel issues an eight letter anagram to each battalion and pits them against one another in order to see who can come up with the word with the highest point value.

In order to increase the intensity and variety of each fight, each army can only use as many letters from the anagram as they have soldiers occupying the territories in conflict. For example: if I use 5 troops on one of my territories to attack and adjacent territory which houses 7 of your troops, using the anagram provided I could make a maximum of a 5 letter word while you could use the same anagram to make a maximum of a 7 letter word. Each letter is assigned a point value, and the player with the highest valued word (in this case it would probably be me) wins the battle (against you).

Further strategic planning involves quartering off your troops, and positioning your takeovers to ensure that every attackable territory you control houses a large number of infantry. While advantage always comes in numbers, a crafty player can easily take down an 8 troop army using 4 high scoring letters.

The one serious and potentially crippling gripe with this game is that there is no multiplayer, local or otherwise. As a result you are forced to play the A.I. which is generally either too simple to piece together anything more than three letters at any given time, or makes that pompous literary friend of yours (everyone has one) look like Lennie from Of Mice and Men. Simply put, the balance of the single player experience could certainly benefit from a little fine tuning. It makes for some incredibly frustrating moments which often sully an overall great experience. In spite of everything, this complaint still should not be enough to dissuade anyone from trying out the game (a free version of Quarrel is also available on the App Store).

The innovative use of wordplay and strategy tactics fit together surprisingly well. In a way Quarrel is like the chocolate and peanut butter of the iOS world… minus the cavities and smeared screens.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Quarrel Deluxe Developer: Indiagames Limited
Reviewed Ver: 1.2 Min OS Req: 4.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 69.28MB
  • Great mix of strategy and word play
  • Unlimited replay value
  • Innovative, yet satisfyingly simple
  • No Multiplayer
  • Unbalanced A.I.
  • Bland art style and design

appstoreicon

Read more]]>
http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/04/06/quarrel-deluxe-in-review-the-pen-is-mightier/feed/ 0
Beat Sneak Bandit in Review – Sneak that Beat Up http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/04/03/beat-sneak-bandit-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/04/03/beat-sneak-bandit-in-review/#comments Tue, 03 Apr 2012 14:05:41 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=67383 While rhythm action games in the old-school vein of Parappa the Rapper have certainly seen their day, Simogo Games has come to the table with a lightly veiled reincarnation entitled Beat Sneak Bandit. The game takes place in the city of Pulsebury, in which you, The Bandit, have learned that all the clocks in town … Read more]]>

While rhythm action games in the old-school vein of Parappa the Rapper have certainly seen their day, Simogo Games has come to the table with a lightly veiled reincarnation entitled Beat Sneak Bandit. The game takes place in the city of Pulsebury, in which you, The Bandit, have learned that all the clocks in town are being stolen. The suspect is none other than Duke Clockface: villainous owner of the mysterious Clockwork Mansion. Serving more as Batman than Bandit, you invoke vigilante law in an attempt to steal back the town’s clocks.

After an establishing cut scene you are dropped into the mansion, and it’s here that the appeal of the overall design of Beat Sneak Bandit is revealed. Its art style is an amalgam of everything Cartoon Network, with elements of its look and feel revealing a strong influence from the Sly Cooper franchise.

But if fans are looking for a portable Sly Cooper they should look elsewhere. It very quickly becomes apparent that Beat Sneak Bandit is much more of a puzzle game than a platformer. Potential buyers beware: just because screenshots show the bandit standing beside gaps of girder does not mean you will be running and jumping over said gaps.

While the story will not keep you away, it's definitely not the reason you will come back.

This is much more of a music rhythm puzzle game than anything else – so much so that players are warned that the game cannot be played without sound. Public Transit commuters lacking headphones are to avoid this game at all costs. Sound is a necessity here, as the player can only progress through a level by tapping the screen as the baseline to the in-game music beats. The baseline itself is generally just a steady rhythmic timestamp, but obstacles in the world such as spotlights, guards, and bandit vacuums (yes, bandit vacuums) move to more elaborate substrates of the song. For example: spotlights may turn on as snare drums are sounded, and guards may turn around as the sound of a turntable scratches through your speakers. This is a novel idea in theory, but in practice it isn’t always compelling, nor does it come together as naturally as one would expect. The controls sometimes seem too abrupt, and for a game with such an emphasis on music, the small variety of songs is often dull and repetitive.

As the world beats to the sound of music, the Bandit must navigate his way through each level, collecting small clocks while reaching his ultimate goal of securing one large clock. Levels are “completed” when the large clock is reached, but just as stars must be earned in Angry Birds, a perfect score can only be achieved by collecting every additional small clock.

Avoid spotlights, guards, and trap doors as you make your may towards the big clock in each level.

The key to these navigations comes in isolating the rhythmic patterns of each obstacle. Once you do, it’s an entirely satisfying feeling. Flawlessly completing a level makes the player feel, quite literally, in harmony with the game. The glaring problem is that this comes along at a far too laboured pace. In order to properly understand each puzzle, players are forced to spend minutes on end watching the screen pulse to the beat before making a move. Trial and error is the word of law, and in a bite sized game of this caliber, it feels out of place.

Everything from the art design, to the gameplay, to the overall idea seems to be right, but at the end of the day it feels stale long before it feels fun. Obstacles are varied in their look, but mostly everything in the environment boils down to “something to be avoided.” This may sound like an oversimplification, but unfortunately it also feels like one in practice. Although at its heart there lies an intriguing, innovative control scheme and overall idea, I feel as though I’ve played this game before.

All in all Beat Sneak Bandit is a novel idea with poor execution. While it is still worth the price of admission in some regards, I would only recommend buying it if you have already played and beat the classics.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Beat Sneak Bandit Developer: Simogo
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 3.1.3
Price: $2.99 App Size: 72.38MB
  • Innovative design
  • Satisfying puzzles
  • Enjoyable art style
  • Pacing and mechanics often don’t fit the rhythm of the music
  • Levels quickly feel stale and lack variation
  • For a music game, the soundtrack is very forgettable

appstoreicon

Read more]]>
http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/04/03/beat-sneak-bandit-in-review/feed/ 1