TouchMyApps » Applications All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Sat, 14 Nov 2015 06:42:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lost Souls: Timeless Fables Collector’s Edition HD in Review – Didn’t Really Get Lost In This One Fri, 13 Nov 2015 13:02:34 +0000 The concept of entering paintings or books in order to travel to another world is certainly not a new concept, even in the realm of games.  The first title in the Lost Souls series covered the painting side of the subject, and now Lost Souls: Timeless Fables handles the book side of things.  I didn’t … Read more]]>


The concept of entering paintings or books in order to travel to another world is certainly not a new concept, even in the realm of games.  The first title in the Lost Souls series covered the painting side of the subject, and now Lost Souls: Timeless Fables handles the book side of things.  I didn’t get the chance to play Enchanted Paintings, but I have played other games with a similar theme, and to be perfectly honest Timeless Fables felt a bit flat in comparison to those other titles.  It’s not a bad game, mind you, but as I’ve said before, in such an over-saturated market as the hidden object genre being mediocre is almost worse than being bad, because at least a bad game still has the potential of standing out from the crowd.


In Timeless Fables you must help a nondescript protagonist named Bella rescue her brother, who somehow got sucked into a magical book.  There’s never really a good explanation as to why he ends up in the book or what the significance of the other books that you must enter are, but I suppose it’s really not necessary in order to play the game.  It sure would have made it more interesting, though.  On top of that, since the stories you have to take part in are based on actual classics, it helps if you are familiar with the source material before taking on this quest.  I had an extremely cursory knowledge of most of the tales and knew nothing about the Call Of Cthulhu, so while I found the journey somewhat interesting, I didn’t truly appreciate what was going on in each of the books.  I assume that at least some of the information correlates to the books’ actual literary counterparts.

The game is standard hidden object fare.  Each of the five books requires you to complete a quest for the first person you meet, which means you’ll have to traipse through several locations gathering items to solve object puzzles, playing mini-games to unlock certain items or areas and searching through rooms full of hidden objects to find some of the goodies required to solve the object based puzzles.  One thing I did like was that each of the books was broken down into several major areas denoted on a “world” map, each marked with the number of tasks left to complete in that area.  Of course it wasn’t always obvious when there was still something left to do in a particular area, and it often took several random taps before the game would tell you that there were no tasks available in your current location.  There were plenty of object based puzzles, and if you got stuck on one you just had to try using everything in your inventory until something worked or you realized you didn’t have what you needed yet.


The hidden object scenes were broken down into two types: one that provided you with a list of items to search for and another that gave you pictures of the objects you needed to hunt down.  The former usually had a couple of items that were truly hidden, but instead of having to use one object in the scene with another in order to reveal the hidden item you just had to tap something to move it out of the way.  The pictures could sometimes be difficult because the object would be positioned differently than what the picture showed, and sometimes so little of the object was showing behind the clutter that it was easy to miss.  All trivial things, mind you, but issues that add up when they occur on every hidden object scene.  The mini-games were mostly variants of ones that you’ve played before, though occasionally presented in such a way that they were enjoyable.  There were a couple of times that I found myself scratching my head for a bit because the help for a particular mini-game left out a crucial detail necessary for understanding how to complete it, but I never had to skip any of them.

To rescue your brother you have to play through the first four stories: Call Of Cthulhu, Robinson Crusoe, Jack The Ripper and The Three Musketeers.  There are a couple of things that I find odd about the whole setup of the game in this regards.  First, the amulet that unlocks the book your brother is trapped in gets split into five parts, one of which enters each book, so I’m not sure why you don’t have to complete all five books before your brother is safe.  Second, the final tale, The Titanic, really has nothing to do with the overarching story other than the fact that it’s the same protagonist.  Finally, since the only thing that ties the other four books together is the fact that you retrieve a piece of the amulet from each of them, I’m not really sure why you couldn’t play the books in any order that you wanted to.


As this is a collector’s edition you would expect there to be some extra goodies in the package.  Of course one of the bonuses is the Titanic adventure, though usually the supplemental adventures tie into the main story better than this one did.  For this “deluxe” edition the main extras are a few screen shots that you can use as wallpapers and a jukebox where you can listen to the various tracks from the game.  One menu item I found interesting was the Trophies option, which takes you to a room filled with objects from the various games that you can purchase using coins you find hidden throughout the game.  These trophies are profile specific, so I don’t know what real significance they have, but at least it gives you something to do with what otherwise becomes a tedious exercise in trying to spot all these tiny coins on each level.  The game also has 17 achievements which get reset for each profile but whose corresponding achievement in Game Center only gets set for the first person to complete it.

At least the game looks pretty good.  There were a couple of times where the hidden object scenes seemed a bit dark, but overall everything was pretty sharp and nicely detailed.  Most scenes had at least one or two animated features, giving some sense of a living world that you were exploring.  Sound effects, on the other hand, were grossly underused.  There were plenty of times where something as simple as rushing water or air slowly leaking from a pipe would have done wonders towards enhancing the ambiance of a room but nothing like that was really employed.  They did have voiceovers for the various characters which were sort of a mixed bag, some of them feeling spot on and others simply missing the mark.  The music wasn’t bad when listening to it through the extras menu, but in the course of the game it basically got lost and in the end was pretty much forgettable.


Timeless Fables falls under the category of “I wouldn’t avoid it, but there are plenty of better hidden object games to play first”.  From a lesser publisher or a developer with no titles under their belt I might be more forgiving, but G5 usually selects the best of the bunch and I know Fenomen Games has at least developed one other Lost Souls game, if not a few other titles as well.  I just don’t think this was quite up to the standards of other recent G5 releases.


App Summary
Title: Lost Souls: Timeless Fables, Collector’s Edition HD Developer: G5 Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.4 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: Free App Size: 1023.20MB
  • Well balanced game play
  • Nice visuals
  • Story felt flat
  • Lack of sound effects
  • Music was forgettable


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Dub Dash in Review: The Beat Rolls On Sat, 07 Nov 2015 03:32:19 +0000 At one point after I received a copy of Dub Dash to look at the developer asked for an update on my review, and I told them I wanted to wait until I had finished at least one level before writing something about the game.  After I don’t know how many times playing the first … Read more]]>


At one point after I received a copy of Dub Dash to look at the developer asked for an update on my review, and I told them I wanted to wait until I had finished at least one level before writing something about the game.  After I don’t know how many times playing the first three levels I was ready to concede and write the review even though I hadn’t completed a single one yet, and then wouldn’t you know it – I actually managed to complete the first level!  If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years when it comes to rhythm based games it’s that I’m not real good at them, so this was an exciting achievement for me.  Thankfully it was born from a desire to actually accomplish something in the game, and not simply because I “had to” for the sake of this review.  To me that’s the best sign of a game being worth putting some effort into.


Dub Dash has no complicated plot or deep meaning.  It’s simply a game about trying to get from point A to point B by following the beat.  The majority of the game is spent tapping the left or right sides of the screen to move in the appropriate direction, though sometimes that just means “swerving” to the left or right while at other times it actually rotates your avatar 90 degrees.  It’s basically the same game play, but the shifting perspectives and slight modifications in the mechanics (a hard turn versus a drift, for example) make the journey constantly feel fresh.  Occasionally you’ll even go into “flappy” mode where you hold the screen to go up and release to go down – you know the drill.  Personally I could have done without these particular sequences, but there’s no questions that it adds an extra bit of variety to everything that’s going on.

Each level is a unique experience, in no small part due to the brilliant combination of visuals and audio that comprises your surroundings.  As with a fair number of rhythm based games the music isn’t something I’d normally just sit down and listen to, but as a backdrop for the action in this game it is wonderful.  The beat is naturally synced with the terrain, and if you’re not careful you’ll end up embarrassing yourself as your head bobs up and down to the music that no one else hears, at least if you use headphones like you should in order to fully appreciate the tunes.  The visuals have a blocky look, but in a slick way and not a “this looks like every other blocky game on the App Store” way.  Parts of the background will light up with the beat, much like some of the awesome displays people put up on their houses over the Christmas season.  There’s not much in the way of sound effects, but in reality you don’t actually need any.


So you manage to actually finish one or more of the 7 levels that currently exist, but does the game offer more?  Well, there are 3 musical notes to collect on each level, so there’s incentive to replay the level if you don’t get them all the first time.  Of course so far they seem to primarily inhabit the “flappy” sections of the level, which is bad news for me.  The game also offers 28 achievements through Game Center, and since there are only 7 levels that means they require more than completing a level in order to earn them.  Also, on the level selection screen there appear to be 2 progress bars for each level, so I’m guessing that you might get to play through a – dare I say it – harder version of each level once you’ve completed them all.  Someone with actual skillz will have to fill me in on that some day.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the game, but if I had to wave my mythical game altering wand and change something I’d love to see save points.  Of course that actually seems to be a fairly unpopular feature among rhythm games, and I suppose it might harm the flow of the game somehow, so I’m not holding my breath.  Also, I wish that instead of simply spiraling me into another attempt at losing a level the game would actually ask me if I want to play again.  That might actually make it just a bit easier for me to tear myself away when I know I should be doing other things.  Of course a little willpower might help there as well, but then I’d have to take responsibility for my addiction.


The concept of rhythm games, inasmuch as they look like cheap knock-offs of Guitar Hero, still manages to elude me.  However, as long as developers keep making bizarre alternative like Dub Dash, I’m more than willing to pretend to be a fan from time to time.  Slick visuals, lively music that keeps the head bobbing and a different mechanic than you see in most rhythm games make Dub Dash enjoyable even if you’re not a fan of the genre.


App Summary
Title: Dub Dash Developer: Headup Games GmbH & Co KG
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 7.0
Price: $0.99 App Size: 55.94MB
  • Challenging, addictive game play
  • Great visuals
  • Exciting, dynamic music
  • Decent replay factor
  • No checkpoints


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Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers in Review: Rose Colored Glasses Might Be Required Wed, 04 Nov 2015 06:22:46 +0000 I feel a certain bit of irony as I write this piece.  Over the past 10 years, most any time I’ve written a review of a third person perspective adventure game I’ve made some sort of reference to the legendary Sierra On-line games catalog.  Now I’ve finally gotten the chance to play one of these … Read more]]>


I feel a certain bit of irony as I write this piece.  Over the past 10 years, most any time I’ve written a review of a third person perspective adventure game I’ve made some sort of reference to the legendary Sierra On-line games catalog.  Now I’ve finally gotten the chance to play one of these legendary games on my iPad and I’m not sure what to make of it.  The game is Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition, and in my defense, I never actually played this particular game the first time around.  Still, I believe it’s regarded as one of the best non-Williams Sierra games from the “old days”, and yet I’ve really struggled to get into it.  As a result of that I didn’t get very far into the game before my time ran out with it, but I’ve decided to give you my impressions thus far, rather than an actual “review with a rating”.  It might feel like a review, but I’ll leave that distinction up to you.  (For those curious, I say my “time ran out” because I was playing the game through Testflight, a system which allows me to play the entire game without buying the IAP, and my Testflight build has expired).


Sins of the Fathers is the story of a struggling writer with a failing bookstore that gets sucked into a murder mystery in the heart of New Orleans.  Sounds like a recipe for success to me, yet after roughly 2.5 to 3 hours of playing the game the most gripping part of the story for me has been the graphic novel prequel that came out before the game was even released.  Part of the problem I’m sure is the size and pacing of the game.  The overall happenings are broken down into ten days, and after a few hours of playing I’m still only on day two, which gives you the potential scope of the game assuming the rest of the days follow suit.  I guess you could compare it to the network version of The Shining versus the movie.  It’s basically the same story, but the movie has to get to the important points more quickly because it has a shorter run time.  Sins of the Fathers is the mini-series version of Gabriel Knight’s life story, and I need the blockbuster movie interpretation.

This tedious pace is actually exacerbated by the point system the game employs.  This was something a lot of the old Sierra games did, and in this case it basically requires you to examine every item and hold every possible conversation, because you never know what’s going to earn you a point.  The problem with examining every item is that sometimes when you walk into a room and hold the screen to reveal all the “topic” points there might be 20-30 items in the room that are potentially worth looking at.  Then if you leave the room before you’ve finished your exploration and come back later you have to remember on your own what you’ve looked at and what you haven’t.  At least with the conversations used up topics will be removed from the list, and already visited topics with additional details are a different color than fresh dialog paths.  The issue there is that often times the dialog just isn’t that interesting.


The interface is actually pretty nice.  If you tap on a topic point on the screen you’ll get a list of options that will always include an eye (looking at an item), and could include a hand (taking an item), a speech bubble (talking to the recipient), gears (interacting with the item) and your currently active inventory item if the object has the ability to be used with an item.  Within your inventory you can get a general description of each item, and sometimes you can examine an item more closely.  You can also combine items, and ultimately select an item to be your active item.  The one enhancement I could see here would be the ability to switch active items while on a topic point instead of having to constantly go back to your inventory, but I can’t really picture how that would work effectively at this point.  You can tap to move around the screen, but the character will automatically move to an object depending on which action you select to use on it.

Where the game really shines is in the way it builds a thriving facsimile of New Orleans.  I don’t know much about the city or how accurate the portrayal is in Sins Of The Father, but even if it was way off base, the general feeling is something more adventure games should strive for.  This might be a bit spoiler-ish, but it’s all in the details like the fact that you get a fresh paper delivered to your door every day, and when you go to get your cup of coffee you actually watch Gabriel pour it and take a drink.  Head off to the park and there will be different inhabitants depending on when you go.  Walk to one side and hear the tap dancer clicking his shoes, or slide on over to the other and listen to the band play.  Rather than just standing around or being slightly animated, many of the characters are actually walking around just like you’d expect characters to do in a real city.  More than anything else, this was the highlight of the game for me.


Of course the whole “living city” thing might not have been quite as engaging without the wonderful graphics that Gabriel Knight possesses.  I imagine this game looked pretty good back in the day, because Sierra was known for that, but it looks really sharp now.  All the locales are extremely well drawn and nicely detailed, and again using the park as a prime example, everything is quite animated when appropriate.  The only negative I had towards the visuals was that sometimes it was hard to tell what was in your inventory.  The sound effects were good and nothing seemed out of place, but I’m not sure I how I feel about the voiceovers.  They weren’t necessarily bad, but I didn’t feel like they were always the best choices given the looks of the various characters.  I was not a fan of the narrator’s accent at all.  On the other hand, the music was quite enjoyable, and for a third time I’ll point to the park as an example of the detail in this regards.  You might have two different people playing music at opposite ends of the park, which was noted as you moved from one side to the other.

The funny thing is that in the last few minutes I spent with the game I actually started to enjoy it.  I don’t know if that means I would have come around completely or if it was a false sense of upward trajectory in the contents of the game, but whatever the case I don’t feel like it should have taken an excess of two hours to get to that point.  In the end I’d say this is primarily geared towards two groups of players: those that had reveled in the original production so many years ago and folks that prefer exploration and dialog to quick results and lots of puzzle solving.  Unfortunately I don’t fall into either category, I’m glad I got the opportunity to try the game out, but I’m not sure at this point I’d feel comfortable recommending it.  The plus side is that you can get the first day to play for free, but the game weighs in at almost 2GB so keep that in mind before taking it for a spin.  Instead of a fully detailed rating and Pros / Cons list, I’ll just leave you with an App Store link to the game.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition Phoenix Online Studios, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition – Free

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Almost 13 iOS Games To Play On Halloween 2015 Fri, 30 Oct 2015 03:24:41 +0000 It’s that time of the year when creatures go bump in the night and devour all the excess sweets in sight.  Thankfully if you’re not into that there’s plenty to keep you busy on your iOS device.  For the first couple of years as I was doing the roundups I put together a special Halloween … Read more]]>


It’s that time of the year when creatures go bump in the night and devour all the excess sweets in sight.  Thankfully if you’re not into that there’s plenty to keep you busy on your iOS device.  For the first couple of years as I was doing the roundups I put together a special Halloween edition as well, but that sort of fell by the wayside.  Now it’s back, though I figured since everyone is covering the spookier side of the holiday offerings, I’d take a look at the lighter end of things.  I also tried not to make the subject matter in terms of featured creatures fairly diverse, because I’ll begrudgingly admit that Halloween is NOT zombie-centric.  Finally, you might be wondering about the title.  I wanted to get this published before Halloween, but I like the idea of 13, since that is kind of Halloween’s number.  So check back over the next couple of days and you might find an addition or two to the list.  Hope you enjoy it and find something entertaining to play over this Halloween weekend.


Soda Dungeon [10/8/15] – Welcome to the first casual tavern / dungeon crawling sim.  Okay, that might not actually be the case, but the combination of elements in this game is a first for me.  You start with the local soda jerk (not as much of an insult as it seems), and over time you help the barkeep build up his tavern so you can recruit more talented and specialized adventurers.  Of course you’ll only attract the best and brightest if you be sure to stock the most popular sodas.  After all, what good adventurer doesn’t like some carbonation before he takes on vile monsters?  As you journey through the dungeon you’ll earn coins, and you can also scrounge up some equipment.  You’ll also be able to buy goods from vendors as you build up the tavern.  You have new recruits every time you enter the dungeon, but your equipment will stay with you permanently.  The dungeon’s a bit of grind as you have to start from level one each time, but the base levels get easier as your equipment gets stronger and it’s always a good way to earn more coins.  You can also take on battles in the arena to earn extra money.  This isn’t necessarily the most in-depth dungeon crawler, but it’s pretty fun.

Soda Dungeon Armor Games Inc, Soda Dungeon – Free


Diamond Quest: Halloween Trail [10/21/15] – Diamond Quest is a match 3 game, it sports a Halloween theme and it’s got cute puzzle pals that will appeal to the kids.  Surprisingly, that actually makes for a pretty fun combination in an iPad game.  You start the game with one puzzle pet and can unlock more as the game progresses.  It also looks like you might be able to upgrade the pets, but I’m not sure when that comes into play.  Like many match 3 games these days there is a combat element, which is where the pets come into play.  Match enough gems of a particular pet’s color and that pet will attack as well as unleash a special on the board like providing a power up or removing a block that’s in the way.  You can have up to three pets in play at a time, and you can either play one of several different colors to keep things diverse or try to have multiple pets of the same color to get more attack power out of matching a particular color of gem.  Diamond Quest might not provide the most original mix of match 3 mechanics, but there’s enough to keep adults entertained while the cute pets will certainly draw the kids in.

Diamond Quest: Halloween Trail Storm8, Diamond Quest: Halloween Trail – Free


USSHHN5 [10/10/15] – I figured I should probably try to throw a few games in this list that might actually be construed as spooky, seeing as this is a Halloween list and all.  The part of the title that they left out of the actual listing is “As Darkness Descends”, which of course would have been a better actual name for the game.  You must unravel the secrets of the Blood Moon as you keep hordes of creatures at bay, and the game uses an interesting combination of rail shooter movement and symbol drawing to accomplish this task.  Basically you don’t have to worry about where you’re going, but you do have to be ready at a moment’s notice to start tracing the runes that appear on the screen before the creatures you’re attempting to ward off do a Walking Dead on you.  On the plus side your hurried scratching doesn’t need to look exactly like what’s on the screen, but on the other hand it will need to be a lot more precise than you’d like at times.  As you take damage the screen starts to clutter with your blood which can actually obscure certain runes until it’s too late.  The visuals can sometimes counter the creepy nature of the game by seeming a bit too cartoony, but they are so cool looking that it is easy to forgive.  I’m not sure how long the game is as a whole, but the free price tag makes it at least worth a download and quick gander if you like horror themed games.

USSHHN5 NBCUniversal Media, LLC, USSHHN5 – Free


Boogie Woogie [10/27/14] – Apparently this was actually a release for Halloween last year, though I must admit I don’t recall seeing it back then.  I also had no idea Dracula was such a dazzling dancer.  At least that’s what he seems to think.  As such he’s stolen your bride-to-be Wanda to be his dancing partner.  It’s up to you to best his minions and ultimately challenge the lord of the undead himself in order to win your beloved’s freedom.  The game is basically a combination of rhythm and Simon, and while I tend to struggle with reaction times in most rhythm games, the memory aspect is the most challenging part of this trip for me.  It would be nice if each character you faced could be broken down into several smaller sequences instead of one large one, but I guess that just means I’ll have to work harder to master my funky beats.  I do like games that have kid appeal yet are still engaging for adults, and Boogie Woogie definitely falls under that category.  Besides, it’s not too often these days you find so many classic movie characters under one roof.  If you feel like getting your groove on this Halloween season Boogie Woogie is a great choice for you.

Boogie Woogie Flickerpix, Boogie Woogie – Free


Los Aliens [10/7/15] – It’s rare these days to find a game on the App Store that truly feels unique, but the more I play Los Aliens the more I think it qualifies.  Your task is to seek out strange new worlds, discovering new creatures and civilizations… okay, you caught me… aside from the “boldly go” part, that credo sounds awfully familiar.  Still, it’s how you go about it that’s rather interesting.  On each planet your presented with a grid of the surface, and you must “burn lines” by filling up all the squares in a line either horizontally or vertically.  To move around the grid you use an L shape pattern like the knight in a chess game, and whenever you leave a square it gets populated with a quark.  Once all the squares in a line are filled with quarks, other game objects or yourself the line gets cleared and you’re closer to your goal for that level.  In addition to burning lines each level has various other goals you have to work towards as well.  Once a planet has been explored you’ll earn up to three stars depending on your performance.  There are also 26 achievements to earn and a leaderboard to rank on, though the leaderboard is for number of levels passed, so the highest you can climb is the bottom of the list of people that have completed the game.  If you’re looking for a puzzle game that sets itself apart from the crowd, give Los Aliens a try.

Los Aliens Shadow Masters Limited, Los Aliens – Free


Villains Corp. | The Secret Villainy Laboratory [10/7/15] – Who doesn’t like to play the bad guy every once in a while, right?  In this quirky take on the time management sim from Tapps you are the master of a secret evil laboratory.  Your job is to cause havoc in the overworld, but in order to do that you’ll need to create minions.  These aren’t your garden variety cute yellow minions, however.  There are bat minions and bird minions and robots and more.  There are also two kinds of minions: ones that you grow and ones that you breed by combining two grown minions together.  Each mission has its own requirements for what type of minions you need and its own rewards in terms of coins, gems and stars.  Coins are used to buy new tubes for growing and breeding, while gems are used to speed up any lengthy process if you don’t feel like waiting.  Stars are your experience, and as you earn stars you’ll level up which unlocks additional components of the game.  You can buy coins and gems via IAP, but if you’re patient you can typically earn everything you need without spending the money.  The main thing is that you keep up on collecting grown minions, because new ones won’t grow until you’ve emptied the tubes of the old ones.  On the breeding side you also have to make sure you start new minions, because one breeding tube can create multiple different types of minions so it doesn’t happen automatically.  This actually seems like a fairly complex game for Tapps standards, and it is pretty fun to boot.

Villains Corp. | The Secret Villainy Laboratory Tapps Tecnologia da Informação Ltda., Villains Corp. | The Secret Villainy Laboratory – Free


Zombie T-Shirt Store [10/28/15] – There are a lot of match 3 style games on the App Store that claim to be different from the pack, but Zombie T-Shirt Store is one of the few that makes good on that claim, despite not actually making the claim in the first place.  So here’s the deal: you work the counter at a store that may or may not sell t-shirts infected by a zombie virus.  That being said, you’re more than happy to take returns from the customers, so long as you put the merchandise right back on the shelves for others to buy.  As the zombies come “rushing” through the door to give back the shirts, you must tap two or more of the same color to take the shirts back.  The interesting thing is that there is a Mahjong type of effect where you can’t tap certain zombies until you’ve cleared others out of the way, even if you could technically reach those zombies.  Once you’ve cleared out the impending horde your shift will be over, you’ll get paid and you’ll move on to the next wave of undead.  Once you’ve worked enough shifts you’ll be able to buy a gun which can be used to pick off stray zombies that don’t have a match or ones that are too close to the counter for comfort.  Earn enough cash and you can buy better guns or upgrade the one you have.  Just don’t let a customer get too close to the counter or it is game over.  There are three leaderboards via Game Center, but there are no achievements yet.

Zombie T-shirt Store Raketspel AB, Zombie T-shirt Store – Free


Frankenchase [10/27/15] – This is a quirky little game, but if you’ve been following me for any length of time you’ll know I sort of thrive on quirky little games.  It seems the good doctor of reanimation fame has decided to give up his life-meddling ways and become a bounty hunter.  In this infinite runner your job is to take down as many creatures as you can.  The general rule is that if it is running away from you, you can kill it.  If it’s running, flying or generally appearing to come towards you then it’s bad for you.  There’s one unique creature on each level that definitely stands out from the crowd, and this one you need to strike multiple times to defeat it and move on to the next level.  The “bad for you” creatures never kill you but they will slow you down, and if the stop you enough that you get pushed off the left side of the screen you’ll lose a level.  Lest you start to fret just a bit, you will be able to upgrade your efforts with the coins you collect from slaying beasts.  There are three different weapons to choose from, each of which can be made more powerful, and you can also invest in better boots to speed up your gait.  There is a leaderboard to rank on, though without any achievements or missions I’m not sure how much longevity the game has.  Still, it’s free with no IAP and it’s a small download, so it can’t hurt to at least check it out.

Frankenchase Gavin Soebiantoro, Frankenchase – Free


Dead End [4/2/14] – Many games these days that involve cars and running anything over tend to be done in some sort of halfway fancy 3D engine.  The first thing that caught my eye with Dead End was the slick visual presentation, which looks like something that came from an extremely early model home computer.  Once you get past that the game has some pretty basic game play revolving around running over zombies and avoiding everything else.  The default controls include tapping the left and right sides of the screen to turn, tilting the device to shake loose an overly aggressive zombie and swiping to appropriately activate your “swipers”, better known as windshield wipers.  The last thing is kind of hard to get used to when it means temporarily taking yourself away from steering, but it is essential when the screen fills up with zombie blood.  As you cleanse the street from the undead you’ll earn money which can be used to upgrade various aspects of your ride like steering and tires.  There are no over the top weapons like flame throwers or missile launchers, or any other weapons besides your car for that matter, but sometimes it’s fun enough just using your grill to decimate the enemy.  The game does offer a leaderboard for the best distance as well as 21 achievements to earn, and at the time of this being authored the IAP for unlocking the full game was free.

Dead End Thomas Altenburger, Dead End – Free


Cauldron Quest: A Witch’s Tale [10/14/15] – This is yet another take on the whole 2048 style of puzzle game, and conceptually it’s one of the better ones I’ve played.  You take on the role of a witch that’s trying to mix up some potions and generally clean up the countryside from all the rampant spiders, slime and other things that are hanging around.  To make potions you have to combine diamonds into powder, and then powder into potions, each layer having multiple steps of combinations.  The game starts to throw in match 3 elements with blocks that can be removed only when making matches next to them, slime that can only be removed when making matches on top of it and blocks that simply can’t be removed at all.  The spiders are dealt with by sliding a broom into them, but if it goes the other way around it won’t count.  The game also borrows from the match 3 genre by providing an overhead map with levels, each of which you can earn up to three stars on depending on how effectively you use your moves.  As you complete certain goals you’ll increase your witch ranking and earn new hats and gold.  Eventually you’ll also be able to unlock objects that will help you in your quest.  One other thing I’d like to point out about this game is that it has a surprisingly well orchestrated soundtrack, which hasn’t been common amongst the 2048 style games that I’ve played previously.

Cauldron Quest: A Witch's Tale Fuzzy Hat Pty Ltd, Cauldron Quest: A Witch’s Tale – Free


Unkilled [9/2/15] – I’ve mentioned this game on a couple of different occasions, so I figured this was as appropriate a time as any to actually put it into a roundup.  I’ve said it before and I maintain the fact that I’m not a huge FPS fan, but games like Unkilled actually make it fun for folks like me.  Instead of being comprised of a few long levels with or without breakpoints, Unkilled is comprised of dozens of bite sized missions that only take a minute or two to complete.  As a result there’s an immediate and frequent sense of accomplishment, and you don’t lose much ground should you actually happen to die.  Each level has three goals to complete, one of which usually involves simply completing the mission, and when you can always replay a level to collect any stars that you’ve missed.  There are also achievements to earn that will score you extra goods as well as side quests called Raids that are tougher and yield higher rewards.  Three specialty items are limited in use but come in handy in a pinch, and there are more than 50 weapons to buy and upgrade.  You’ll often even have AI soldiers fighting at your side, though that can actually be an impediment if one of your goals is killing a certain number of zombies.  What I like best about the game is that the default option is auto fire, so all you have to concentrate on is moving and aiming.  That’s definitely a huge bonus for some that’s not so skilled at this type of game.



Zombie Heat [10/30/15] – Sorry, I seem to have drifted into Zombie-land for the latter portion of this roundup.  Zombie Heat is the first offering for Ballyhoo Games, and it’s a promising start to what will hopefully be a solid mobile game catalog.  In this case the zombie outbreak is caused by an asteroid colliding into the Earth, so at least it’s not somehow mans’ fault.  The threat is still very real, however, and as a survivor you’ll have to protect your trailer from 80 waves of undead terror.  To help you along you’ll have access to several different kinds of barricades, traps and weapons, the last of which are under your control.  Set the traps and barricades, start the wave rollin’ and then take out all the zombies with the large weapon sitting atop your trailer.  If you’ve played any sort of Angry Birds variant or clone you know the drill: pull back and release to take the shot.  Your standard ammo is unlimited, while special projectiles are more deadly and scarce in nature.  You can earn up to three stars per level, though at this point there are no leaderboards to climb or achievements to earn.  Still, if you’re a zombie slaying freak like me and are looking for something a bit different, this might just fit the bill.

Zombie Heat Ballyhoo Games, Zombie Heat – $1.99

And, to stay in line with the Halloween theme, I thought that instead of listing the last few roundups I’d list the previous Halloween roundups that I’ve written.  Sure after four or five years some of the games in these lists might not be available any more, but you never know what gems you might still find among the lot.

13 iOS Games To Play On Halloween 201213 iPhone and iPad Games To Play This Halloween (2011)
20 iPhone and iPad Games to play this Halloween (2010)

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Dodo Master in Review – Don’t Be A Dodo And Miss This One Sun, 25 Oct 2015 05:49:07 +0000 3D certainly has its place in the world of gaming, and there’s no question that some of the 3D content available on the iOS platform looks pretty slick.  Personally, though, I’d just assume have a nicely drawn 2D game any day of the week, and Dodo Master is just such a game.  It’s a lot … Read more]]>


3D certainly has its place in the world of gaming, and there’s no question that some of the 3D content available on the iOS platform looks pretty slick.  Personally, though, I’d just assume have a nicely drawn 2D game any day of the week, and Dodo Master is just such a game.  It’s a lot more than eye candy, however.  It’s the perfect example of how to make a fun platform game for iOS that has pretty basic mechanics and derives its challenge from excellent level design rather than shoddy controls.  And, you get can hats for your dodo.  Who doesn’t love a dodo wearing hats?


If you haven’t caught on yet, you play a dodo in Dodo Master.  For some reason that’s not really explained you’ve been tossed in a dungeon, and all of your eggs have been captured (which, based on what I’ve played so far, means you’ve been a VERY busy dodo).  You finally decide you can’t take it and escape from your cell, so now you have to figure out how to get out of this odd yet beautifully constructed dungeon.  There are 20 levels to master, each comprised of 4 different sections.  You can complete the levels in any order, but once you choose a level you must finish it in order to earn a key to unlock another level.  Even the level selection screen is a level that you can walk through, though thankfully there are no traps to harm you as you navigate from door to door.  Those come only once you’ve entered one of the doors.

Speaking of which, there are plenty of traps littered throughout the levels in Dodo Master.  Spiked implements of death are prevalent, as well as pits of fire, collapsing platforms and perilously small ledges that are easy to accidentally step off of or completely miss when you’re jumping towards them.  There is also a bestiary comprised of rats (both the regular and N.I.H.M. kind), spiders that have clearly been feed too much and weird half-creature skeletons that hover around and sometimes hurl flaming blue balls at you.  If you actually ponder it for a minute the variety of different obstacles is not that great, yet the developers have managed to make each level feel fresh and exciting.  The other thing that strikes me about the level design is that while some parts can be challenging and infrequently even get frustrating, in the end everything always seems fair.  Unlike many platform games that go for the cheap kill, this one feels like the developers had the players in mind.


The controls are pretty standard platforming fare: left and right arrows for movement, a button to jump / double jump and a button to perform a slam after you’ve jumped.  The slam is useful for breaking eggs or hearts out of containers as well as removing some unsturdy flooring to reach levels below, but remember that all creatures can be dispatched with a regular jump, so don’t use the slam if you don’t need to.  The controls work pretty decent, though occasionally I find myself accidentally hitting the opposite direction of how I actually want to move.  You can actually position the controls wherever you’d like, but on my iPad 2 I haven’t quite found the position yet that alleviates my problem and feels comfortable.  You do have two chances on each section before you have to start over, unless you start the section with only one heart.  Thankfully there are enough hearts scattered throughout the levels that you can usually recoup your life without too much trouble.  And, if you happen to complete a level with only one heart, there are even a couple scattered throughout the menu level.

To finish the game you simply have to conquer all 20 levels.  There wouldn’t be much challenge in that though, now, would there?  If you truly want to complete the game you need to get all the eggs on each level.  Fortunately, if you happen to miss one or two the first time around you can always play a level again to get the remaining eggs.  The game is even nice enough to color code the eggs so you know which ones you’ve already collected and can simply risk your lives for the remaining ones.  Plus, for every level you gather all of the eggs on you’ll earn a new hat.  And trust me, some of these hats are pretty cool.  I just wish there were some indication of how many eggs you had left to gather on a level.  Right now you only know you’ve got them all when it counts them up at the completion of the level.  Additionally there are 21 achievements to earn, and while they are “hidden” before completion when you look in Game Center, 20 correspond to getting all the eggs on each level.  I would suppose the last is for completing the entire game.


Dodo Master is a gorgeous game, which is the reason I started this review with my comments on 2D vs 3D.  The levels are beautifully drawn and nicely detailed.  From the time you step into a room with the gust of air accentuating your entrance to all the details like light streaming through the windows and the fire of candles and torches flickering everywhere, the artists did a wonderful job of making this a living, breathing world.  They were even kind enough to provide little red sparkles around the less obvious dangerous areas.  The audio elements are also extremely well done.  The creaks and groans of the equipment really add to the atmosphere of the dungeon, and things like the crackle of the flames enhance the feeling of a dynamic world.  I did find the choice of making the smaller rounds sound like squeaky toys when being squished a bit odd.  The music is nicely written and sets a great mood for your quest, but I was particularly impressed with the tracks for the last couple of rooms.  They really stepped it up a notch on those two and got the adrenaline pumping for the end of the game.

At a time when there seems to be a trend towards infinite runners and third person perspectives, it is nice to still see some developers put out good old fashioned Mario style platform games.  Sure they might not be as nail biting as the old Mega Man fare or as intricate as a Metroid or Mario, but in a world constantly on the go they suit me just fine.  Dodo Master is a fine example of such a game, and I hope their promise of more to come holds true.  I’d love to see these guys tackle a set of levels that takes place outdoors to challenge both the designers’ abilities at devising puzzles and the artists’ capabilities of bringing a 2D world to life.


App Summary
Title: Dodo Master Developer: semir Saleh
Reviewed Ver: 1.11 Min OS Req:  iOS 7.0
Price: $0.99 App Size: 381.94MB
  • Simple, challenging game play
  • Well designed levels
  • Cool hats
  • Excellent visuals
  • Great music
  • Anti-climatic ending


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10 App Store Games To Watch [10/20/15] Tue, 20 Oct 2015 22:58:35 +0000 Halloween is almost upon us, but for those of you who might not like to be scared here’s a list of 10 fright-free games that can still entertain you on the eve of all things creepy.  It has been a while since I found a scrolling shooter as engaging as Sky Force 2014, but Steel … Read more]]>


Halloween is almost upon us, but for those of you who might not like to be scared here’s a list of 10 fright-free games that can still entertain you on the eve of all things creepy.  It has been a while since I found a scrolling shooter as engaging as Sky Force 2014, but Steel Grit does a pretty good job of filling in the gap.  It’s not quite as polished, but the levels are well made, there are multiple ships to unlock and upgrade and you actually get to tap some adversaries into oblivion instead of just guiding your ship to destroy everything.  Max Capacity does a good job of making elevator simulators a cool concept.  Random upgrades make the game a fresh experience every time, and you have to love a designer that takes a queue from Willy Wonka and makes elevators that travel sideways.  The biggest surprise on this list was Lunar Flowers, which at the risk of sounding extremely sexist looked like a “girly” game from the screen shots.  It turned out to be an engaging puzzle game that at times proved challenging and ultimately sucked me in until I finally completed it.


Lunar Flowers [9/23/15] – If you like games that straddle the line between art and interaction, then Lunar Flowers is worth checking out.  It’s definitely a game, but at times it is clear that presentation is more important than in depth game play.  In this case it actually manages to work quite well.  There is no dialog, and aside from the title no words appear on screen, so I’m not 100% sure what the point was, nor am I sure it completely matters.  Just like a great work or art, the foundation is there and you can use your imagination to fill in the details.  The game part primarily consists of connecting sets of flowers by tracing a specific pattern between them.  You’ll often have to use clues in the background to determine the patterns, however, and at times they even form the basis of puzzles you must solve.  There are even a couple of occasions where time is of the essence when you’re trying to draw the right sequence.  And just to keep you on your toes, the developers threw in a couple of puzzles that had nothing to do with connecting flowers.  The game is not incredibly long, but it’s engaging, it looks great, the music is nice and it’s free.  As with many of the games I include in this article, if you’re up for something that’s not just a cookie cutter of a game you’ve already played 100 times, Lunar Flowers is the way to go.

Lunar Flowers NetEase Games, Lunar Flowers – Free


Black Island [6/18/15] – I grew up on adventure games, so it’s always a pleasure for me to report on a good one that I come across.  I had actually downloaded Black Island a while before this roundup, but was compelled to give it a try when the developers temporarily made the IAP free.  The game is a fun, albeit relatively short, romp across a deserted island in an attempt to discover who you are and why you’re there.  Though the overall experience is short, the pacing within the timeframe of play is well done.  The puzzles are decent, and there are only a couple of mini-games that don’t tempt you to pull your hair out.  The game uses FMV for flashback sequences, which makes for more compelling storytelling than CGI rendered people and means the video isn’t awkwardly wedged into game play with ill effect.  The graphics are well done, but while the tone of the game is somewhat dark it would be nice if the scenes were lightened up a bit so you could enjoy the visual details more.  The videos are fairly well put together for what I imagine was a pretty slim budget, and the voiceover of the main character is nicely done.  Overall Black Island is a solid adventure game experience, though it would be nice to see the story expanded at some point.  While I don’t go for 10+ hour epics when it comes to adventure games, half an hour is a bit extreme in the other direction.

Black Island Helsinki Noir, Black Island – $2.99


Shooty Skies – Endless Arcade Flyer [9/29/15] – First off, I want to say this is not a great shooter.  You can argue with me until you’re blue in the face, but I still won’t concede that randomly generated levels are better than wave / pattern based ones when it comes to this genre.  And, this is missing one of the most important concepts of modern shooters in my opinion, the ability to permanently upgrade your fighter.  That being said, Shooty Skies is a rather entertaining game.  Thanks to designers that are clearly still kids at heart this has some of the best adversaries I’ve seen in a scrolling shooter in a long time.  The pilots and sidekicks are pretty cool as well, which makes it worthwhile to work towards earning 500 coins to unlock a new character (which really isn’t that difficult if you actually accept the bonuses the game throws at you periodically).  I do like the fact that you can either pick up weapon power-ups in the level or buy them before the level starts, and if you opt to buy them you get to use them for 2 hours after purchase.  I also think it’s interesting how you have to actually let go of the screen to charge up your super weapon, which makes it more of an acquired skill to use effectively.  The game does have a leaderboard for you competitive types, but there are currently no achievements to earn.  I’m glad I took the time to check out Shooty Skies, but I don’t think I’ll be adding it to my top scrolling shooters list any time soon.

Shooty Skies - Endless Arcade Flyer Mighty Games, Shooty Skies – Endless Arcade Flyer – Free


Combo Quest [1/8/15] – Combo Quest is a side scrolling rogue-like lite that uses twitch tapping for combat and requires you to build up massive combos in order to succeed.  The game is rogue-like in the sense that when you die it is game over, no questions asked.  That means each run is a fresh take, which is further cemented by the fact that the options you can upgrade between each kill are randomly generated at the time of your victory.  One run you might have strong attack skills but are weak on health, and the next time you’re healthy as an ox but can’t make a combo to save yourself.  Your ultimate goal is to defeat the combo king, but that won’t be an easy task.  And since you basically have a new character every time, it might be hard to find that optimal playing configuration.  There are a few permanent perks you can acquire via IAP in the form of steeds and satchels, but for the most part everything has to be earned fresh every game.  Game Center provides two leaderboards and 11 achievements, but for a while at least you’ll be busy simply trying to conquer the elusive Combo King.

Combo Quest Tapinator, Inc., Combo Quest – Free


Swap Cops [9/2/15] – While I’m all for complex strategy games with lots of options, when you’re on the go it’s nice sometimes to be able to play a strategy game where a single mission might only take a couple of minutes.  Swap Cops is just such a game.  You can unlock up to 12 different cops, four of which will go with you on each mission.  The three in the front row attack while the one in the back is getting healed.  If you swap the one in back for someone in front, the one moving to the front will unleash a special attack, otherwise everyone in front will just fight with a basic attack.  The key is in understanding how each of the special attacks work so that you can use them to effectively wipe out the bad guys, or in the case of saving the civilians avoid frying them in the process.  For every mission you complete you’ll earn some coins, and if you fail a mission you’ll get the option to watch a video to earn some money.  This money can be used to upgrade the health, attack and skill values of each cop as well as to unlock new cops.  The missions are conceivably endless, while a leaderboard and 15 achievements give you more definitive goals.  This clearly won’t be the most in-depth strategy game you’ll find for your iOS device, but it’s perfect for quick bouts of on the go gaming.

Swap Cops Christopher Savory, Swap Cops – Free


Max Capacity [7/18/15] – I never really pictured myself as an elevator operator, but Max Capacity makes the job rather entertaining.  You use virtual buttons to move the elevator around, and a button to open and close the doors.  Arrows will point you in the directions of passengers that need to be picked up, and little bubbles above their heads indicate where they want to be dropped off.  The quicker you pick up and deliver the higher your tips will be, but miss a few passengers and the game is over.  For each hour you complete you’ll get to choose one upgrade such as an increase in the maximum amount of passengers you can hold or a decrease in the amount of time it takes the elevator to stop.  The down side is that all of these upgrades only apply to the current game that you’re playing, so once you lose you start from scratch.  On the plus side, that makes it feel like a fresh game every time.  There are 10 achievements to unlock and one leaderboard to place on thanks to Game Center.  The game could use a couple of tweaks like not having to actually tap on your tips to collect them or stronger alerts when a customer is getting frustrated, but overall the game is well done and fun to play.  I think it was the ability for the elevators to go sideways ala Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that really sold it for me.

Max Capacity Cloud Monster Studios, Max Capacity – Free


Gemmy Lands [5/8/15] – I really wasn’t expecting much from this game because it looked like your standard Candy Crush Saga style game.  The truth is that Gemmy Lands is just that in a lot of ways.  You have all your typical types of levels: earn a certain number of points, clear away a certain number of tiles, or make sure a certain number of objects reach the bottom of the screen.  Yet here I am more than 50 levels into the game and still going strong.  I think part of the appeal is that many of the levels look insane when you first load them up and as a result it is quite satisfying once you beat them.  I also like the planet building aspect of the game.  As you beat levels you’ll earn gold bars and unlock buildings that you can place on your planet.  These buildings help speed up the process of rejuvenating hearts, and I think that as you get further into the game they will provide other benefits as well.  And, it’s a unique feature that other match 3 games don’t have.  The game offers 47 achievements and a leaderboard through Game Center, and you can also hook up with your friends via Facebook.  This may not be the most original match 3 game around, yet it’s managed to hold my attention far more than many others I’ve tried in the past few months.

Gemmy Lands Nevosoft LLC, Gemmy Lands – Free


Steel Grit [6/30/15] – Speaking of “real” scrolling shooters, if you haven’t already you should check out Steel Grit.  First of all, these guys know a thing or two about making wave based shooters.  I also really like how they’ve structured the whole weapons system.  You have one main gun that you can level up between missions with the coins you earn, increasing the weapon itself, the amount of damage it does and the speed with which it fires.  You can also collect temporary boosts throughout the level, as well as a special “blow up almost everything” weapon that is activated by tapping a button at the side of the screen.  Health is regenerated slowly over time so you don’t have to worry about finding health packs in the levels.  In addition to upgrading your ship there are also two other ships you can unlock and upgrade.  One mechanic that I believe is unique to this game is that besides just moving your ship in front of the bad guys to shoot them, some of the villains require you to actually tap them one or more times to destroy them.  There are currently only 8 levels to the game, but you’ll revisit each one many times in your quest to become strong enough to take on the boss enemies.  There are challenge modes “coming soon” for each of these levels, and maybe someday we’ll even see new levels.  With what appears to be 135 achievements at this point, however, you might not need any new content for a while.

Steel Grit Polysauce Interactive L.L.C., Steel Grit – Free


Random Heroes 3 [11/12/14] – This is the third installment in the series, and even though I own all of them this is the first one I’ve had the opportunity to play.  If you’ve ventured into the realm of Devious Dungeon you’ll feel right at home here, albeit with more of a sci-fi than fantasy atmosphere.  The game is comprised of 3 chapters, each with 25 levels.  Unlike Devious Dungeon, however, the levels in this game are not randomly generated.  To earn three stars you’ll have to find one somewhere in the level, defeat all the monsters and beat the level under a certain amount of time.  So, just making it through the level accomplishes nothing other than unlocking the next level for you.  There are coins lying around, and you’ll also get loot from attacking the monsters.  Beyond that there is a skull hidden on each level.  Coins allow you to purchase new heroes and weapons, while the combination of coins and skulls gives you the ability to upgrade what you already own.  Each hero has a special ability, and each weapon is stronger in some areas than others. In addition to completing all the levels there are 10 achievements to earn, but if you’re like me you’ll derive most of your pleasure from earning three stars on each level and unlocking as many characters and weapons as you can.

Random Heroes 3 Ravenous Games Inc., Random Heroes 3 – Free


Polyblast [10/15/15] – If you’re tired of wave based scrollers, bullet hell shmups or worse yet, endless random shooters, Polyblast is just the relief you’ve been looking for.  All you have to do is shoot a number of black circles that are descending to the bottom of the screen.  The thing is, most of the dots are attached to some sort of white object, and if any part of a white object crosses your defense line before you’ve taken care of its corresponding dot, the level is over.  Just to make sure things aren’t too easy for you, the dots are moving back and forth along the white objects.  And, more often than not, the white objects are moving as well. Then there are the spikes and lasers that you have to deal with, as well as the occasional rogue dot that acts more like a meteor.  For your defense you have three cannons at your disposal… except they all have limited ammunition.  As a result, timing and accuracy are the keys to truly surviving this game.  There are a couple of bonuses, like unlimited shooting for five seconds if you make five good shots in a row and freezing everything but dots for five seconds.  The free download gives you access to three worlds with 15 levels apiece, and you can unlock 4 more for a 99 cent IAP.  There is a versus mode as well for two players on the same device, but at this stage it is rather basic.  Polyblast shines as a single player game, however, and provides a unique take on the scrolling shooter concept.

PolyBlast Game Cooks, PolyBlast – 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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A Day In The Woods Gets Spooky For Halloween Tue, 20 Oct 2015 19:08:48 +0000 One of my biggest joys as a reviewer is being able to report about games on the App Store that stand out from the pack, and A Day In The Woods is just such a game.  You can check out my review here: To Grandmother’s House We Go.  To celebrate the Halloween season, RetroEpic Software … Read more]]>


One of my biggest joys as a reviewer is being able to report about games on the App Store that stand out from the pack, and A Day In The Woods is just such a game.  You can check out my review here: To Grandmother’s House We Go.  To celebrate the Halloween season, RetroEpic Software has added a Halloween themed skin (called, appropriately enough, a “season” within the game).  Unlike the other seasons in the game which have to be unlocked via collecting stars, this one will be available immediately once you’ve updated after the October 22 release of the new version.  If you don’t already own the game, RetroEpic has temporarily knocked a dollar off of the game’s price as well.  You can download it here:

A Day In The Woods RetroEpic Software, A Day In The Woods (TMA Review) – $3.99

The sale only lasts until Halloween, so grab it while you can.

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The Lost Ship in Review – Unfortunately It’s A Short Search Thu, 08 Oct 2015 03:18:47 +0000 I’m a huge fan of adventure games, and to be quite frank I’m not that upset when they don’t last for 10 or 15 hours.  On the other hand, this is the second game I’ve played in the last couple of weeks that took under an hour to play.  Still, despite its short running time … Read more]]>


I’m a huge fan of adventure games, and to be quite frank I’m not that upset when they don’t last for 10 or 15 hours.  On the other hand, this is the second game I’ve played in the last couple of weeks that took under an hour to play.  Still, despite its short running time The Lost Ship was a fun game to play.  I just wish there had been a bit more substance to the game, maybe in the form of more complex object puzzles to solve or something.  As it stands right now The Lost Ship feels more like a series of mini-games tied together with a thin plot than a full blown adventure game.


You play an archeologist that gets recruited by his uncle to help find some hidden treasure maps – and by “help” I mean you do all the work.  Sadly that is all there is to the story until the very end of the game, so I guess whatever the island you’re on is all about isn’t very important.  In standard adventure game fashion you’ll tap to move between screens, tap to pick up an inventory item, and tap to select an item to use somewhere on the screen.  The controls work smoothly enough, but since the developer went through the trouble of giving you this nice map with legible thumbprints of all the locations it would be cool if you could just tap on a location to move to it.  Of course that would cut down on the already short length of the adventure.

Hidden object phobics need not worry, as this game is strictly comprised of object based puzzles and mini-games.  I wish there were more of the former, as most of the object based puzzles revolve around finding a key to unlock a door or treasure chest.  The mini-games are decent enough, and you thankfully won’t have to pull your hair out trying to solve any of them.  In fact, most of the solutions can be found somewhere else on the island.  There’s nothing you haven’t seen before in this regards, so don’t expect to be awed by any of them.  As it happens, this is the game’s major flaw besides the short length.  While The Lost Ship provides a solid, fun adventure, there’s really no sense of originality to the game.  Personally I feel that’s probably enhanced by the lack of a fleshed out story.


The visuals are decent, and there are times where there are some really nice details to the scenes.  On the other hand, you’ll run into at least a couple of locations that look like they came out of a remastered early 90’s shareware game.  They still aren’t bad, mind you, but the level of detail doesn’t fit the rest of the backgrounds.  The other problem is that the color palette often makes the screens seem muddled.  For a game that takes place on what seems to be a plush deserted island, I would expect the visuals to be a bit more vibrant and lively.  On the other hand, I’m really impressed with the audio.  The sound effects do a great job of conveying what’s going on in the game, and the soundtrack is both well written and does a nice job of staying in the background.  I like the fact that there’s a playful, bouncy tune during many of the mini-games.

The Lost Ship is a decent adventure game.  There are plenty of puzzles to solve and the mini-games vary the game play without driving you nuts.  I just wish there were more to the game.  You only get a brief glimpse of plot at the beginning and end of the game, with nothing to clue you in on what the island or ship is all about.  Worse yet, the game feels like it is over before it begins.  Here’s keeping my fingers crossed that the sequel is longer like the iTunes description promises.


App Summary
Title: The Lost Ship Developer: Lone Wolf Games, LLC
Reviewed Ver: 1.7 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: Free App Size: 55.41MB
  • Nice balance of puzzles and mini-games
  • Decent visuals
  • Excellent sound effects / music
  • Not much story
  • Game is short
  • Color palette makes visuals seem muddled at times


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Blockadillo in Review – You Got A Brick Breaker In My Platform Game! Sat, 03 Oct 2015 18:20:10 +0000 I’ve always thought the armadillo was a cool looking creature, yet it seems like any time it is used as the protagonist in a game it ends up spending most of its time rolled up into a ball.  Thankfully these games usually tend to be fairly interesting, and Blockadillo is no exception.  In this case … Read more]]>


I’ve always thought the armadillo was a cool looking creature, yet it seems like any time it is used as the protagonist in a game it ends up spending most of its time rolled up into a ball.  Thankfully these games usually tend to be fairly interesting, and Blockadillo is no exception.  In this case game play is akin to a 360 degree brick breaker with some interesting platform style elements thrown into the mix.  It can get frustrating at times, but overall the game is challenging, well balanced and most importantly, fun.


You’re an armadillo in a jungle, trying to recover idols from a thieving monkey while being coached by a hummingbird.  I’ve got to believe there’s a Disney or Dreamworks fan somehow involved in this project.  In any case, you’ll have to navigate through 2 lands each comprised of 40 levels.  The levels are filled with bricks that must be broken, but unlike a typical Breakout style game these bricks are scattered in clumps throughout the level.  They might simply be there just for you to break, they might be in the way of your progress through the level, or they might even be part of a puzzle you need to solve.  Some are deadly and appropriately marked with a skull, while others with a plus cannot be destroyed but instead can be moved around the level.

Like any good platform game, each level is filled with obstacles to keep you from reaching your goal.  Besides the aforementioned skull bricks, thorns often line various surfaces of the level in an attempt to puncture your pride.  Before long blocks and switches become color coded, and it’s possible to find yourself trapped in a section because you’re surrounded by a color and can’t get to a painter to change yourself to that color.  There’s also the occasional pool of lava to contend with, though that seems to be more for preventing you from grabbing an idol than actually killing you.  Of course the end result could be your death anyway.  The one thing that interestingly enough does not act as an obstacle in this game is the timer.  While it helps determine how well you did on a level, you can still complete the level even if all the alarms on your time run out.


Controlling the game is interesting because instead of having a paddle like traditional brick breakers, in Blockadillo you actually alter the armadillo’s course by tapping the left or right sides of the screen.  It takes a bit of getting used to, and it can cause a lot of overcompensation at times, but it’s neat because you can change direction in mid air to narrowly avoid a trap that you didn’t see or that was revealed after triggering a switch.  The main problem I ran into was that the game would often freeze for just a fraction of a second in the middle of a level yet still recognize your tapping.  This could cause sudden death when the game decided to unpause and let you resume the action.  It’s not an insurmountable problem by any means, but it can certainly be annoying.

Each level has three stars you can earn which are related to the number of idols on a level.  The plus side is that if there are no idols, you automatically get three stars when you complete the level!  There are also three scrolls hidden in each world, and finding these scrolls unlocks bonus areas in the world.  So, while you can finish the game without them, you can’t truly complete the game until you have all six scrolls.  There are four leaderboards, one for each of the timer levels (bronze, silver and gold) and one for the total number of idols collected.  There are 21 achievements to earn as well.


I really like the visuals in Blockadillo.  They remind me of a solid 16 bit console game, with nice details and decent animation.  There are times with everything feels a bit small, but it’s necessary so that the levels don’t stretch on forever.  The sound effects, however, hearken back more to the 8 bit era and can get annoying, especially when you bounce around a lot in a tight area.  The music is decent enough, but it’s very subtle and sometimes you’ll likely think there is nothing playing in the background.  It would be nice if there were a bit more variety to the music as well.

Blockadillo is a fun platform / breakout hybrid.  It’s certainly a combination that sticks out from the crowd, and it has solid game play to back up that uniqueness.  It can get frustrating at times, and the bonus area scrolls are particularly challenging to find, but the game actually makes it worth trying.  The audio department in particular could use a bit of a facelift, but overall Blockadillo hits all the marks of a good game.


App Summary
Title: Blockadillo Developer: Michael Olp
Reviewed Ver: 0.5.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: $0.99 App Size: 64.43MB
  • Unique platform / breakout hybrid
  • 80 levels to master
  • 21 achievements to earn
  • Cool 16 bit console visuals
  • Decent music
  • Split second freeze issue has caused many a lost level
  • Scrolls are difficult to find
  • Sound effects can get annoying
  • Needs more variety in music


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Unkilled Rises To The Challenge Wed, 30 Sep 2015 03:25:52 +0000 Madfinger Games has been on the iOS scene since 2009, and I’d say they’ve got the first / third person shooter formula down pretty good at this point.  It started with Shadowgun, which was one of the few third person shooters I’ve really gotten into on any platform, and then they moved to the Dead … Read more]]>


Madfinger Games has been on the iOS scene since 2009, and I’d say they’ve got the first / third person shooter formula down pretty good at this point.  It started with Shadowgun, which was one of the few third person shooters I’ve really gotten into on any platform, and then they moved to the Dead Trigger series.  Now they’ve unleashed Unkilled on us, and it’s clear they’ve refined the game mechanics they established in their previous zombie franchise.  Apparently I’m not the only one that feels this way, because the game has been downloaded more than 3 million times since its release.


What personally appeals to me about Unkilled is that it’s an FPS that is truly designed for mobiles.  The missions are short, so you can play one or two when you can squeeze in the time or you can play a whole bunch at once if you want.  The auto fire makes for a smooth controlling experience, and “purists” can still have their manual fire option if they wish.  From a design point of view it’s nice that you’re actually fighting alongside other soldiers, which surprisingly is a tactic that is still not very widely used in this type of game.  And the best part for me is that while it looks really good it still runs quite nicely on my aging iPad 2.  It’s getting a lot harder to find that combination in visually intense games these days.

So if you’re into numbers and statistics like me, Madfinger Games was kind enough to release some such data to celebrate their milestone of 3 million downloads.  I was just going to paste the text in here, but since they were kind enough to provide a cool infographic I thought I’d pass that along instead:


Of course what you really need to do is check it out for yourself.  Get the iOS version on the App Store, or treat your Android device via Google Play.

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Haunted Hotel: Death Sentence HD in Review: Playing It Was Anything But Mon, 28 Sep 2015 20:54:08 +0000 My latest outing in the world of adventure / hidden object games comes in the form of Haunted Hotel: Death Sentence HD from Big Fish Games.  My usual stomping ground for this style of game on the iOS platform is G5 Games, but it’s nice to see that when I do drift over to the … Read more]]>


My latest outing in the world of adventure / hidden object games comes in the form of Haunted Hotel: Death Sentence HD from Big Fish Games.  My usual stomping ground for this style of game on the iOS platform is G5 Games, but it’s nice to see that when I do drift over to the “other side” that the competition seems to keep up rather nicely.  I played the free version with a one time IAP to unlock the complete game as well as some extras (this is a collector’s edition).  It didn’t take long before I was eager to take the plunge and buy the game.  As a matter of fact, this is one of the few games I’ve played recently that I’ve managed to stick with and complete in a relatively short time from when I first started playing it.  I guess you could say I was convicted of curiosity and sentenced to find the outcome.  Or you could just say I really enjoyed the game.


There’s no doubt the story’s a bit cliché, at least in the beginning.  You’re summed to a mysterious building by a note claiming that your friend has died and the location, in this case a hotel, is to blame.  And, if you’re a fan of any police or lawyer procedurals then a lot more of the plot will seem familiar as well.  Now I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy the story, because it was fun learning how each character played a part in the proceedings.  And, while some might say they were still predictable there were a few twists and turns in the story, but by and large you’ve probably seen it all on TV in one form or another.  Still, it kept my attention for the whole game, and that’s all that matters to me.

Game play is pretty typical for this genre of game.  In fact, one of these days I think I’m just going to write a quick “here’s how you play a hidden object / adventure game” piece and link to it at the beginning of each of these reviews.  In the mean time, in case you don’t know, everything’s pretty much a matter of tapping or dragging.  Tap an object to pick it up and then drag it from your inventory to use it somewhere on the screen.  Sometimes an object will have a plus by it and if you tap on it in your inventory you’ll get a larger view of the item.  You will then be able to manipulate it by taking stuff away from it or adding stuff to it to get what you really need.  This is a technique that really enhances game play in my opinion, and I’m surprised that more games don’t take advantage of it.


To walk from scene to scene you tap on the area of the screen that looks like it connects you to another area, such as a door or window.  If you have the ability to go back you tap the lower part of the screen directly above the inventory bar… or at least that’s the theory.  There were times this didn’t work so well for me, and at other times – particularly when I was in a hidden object scene – I’d find myself going back when I didn’t want to.  One excellent feature of this game is the map, which allows you to move to any scene you’ve already visited that isn’t somehow blocked simply by tapping on the desired room.  Occasionally it’s a bit hard to tap just the right spot in certain rooms, but if you get used to using this feature you’ll save yourself a lot of time.  Plus, the map has the added benefit of marking where you need to go next to complete your task, or at least that’s the case in casual mode.

Some of the hidden object scenes are your typical “here’s a list, find everything”.  What I appreciated about these scenes is that I’m pretty sure each one had at least one instance where you had to manipulate multiple items in order to get the item you were truly after. There were a couple of times when picking up the intermediate items was a bit problematic, but I love the concept and think every hidden object game should employ it.  This game went further, however, in that some scenes had the objects in groups of three, and each time you found a group it revealed an item that could be used elsewhere in the scene.  Finally, there were some scenes where there were several pairs of like items, and you had to move things out of the way to find these items and match the pairs.  It was basically like a mini memory match game.


As for the mini-games, there was a decent variety throughout the game, including a couple that I either hadn’t seen before or were presented differently than what I’m used to.  Unfortunately, there were a couple of times where I had problems controlling the mini-games, one of which bothered me because it was actually one I hadn’t seen before.  I ended up skipping that and one other mini-game, which I really do in these adventures, and there was even one instance towards the end where the mini-game was abruptly solved and I was sure I hadn’t hit the skip button.  Overall I would have been just fine without the mini-games in this particular adventure.

Being a collector’s edition, the developers did throw a few extras into the mix.  Once you complete the main game there is a bonus adventure, which while entertaining was rather short and almost felt rushed, kind of like they just tacked in on because they had to since it was a collector’s edition.  There was also a wallpaper section, an area with concept art and a place to listen to some of the songs from the game.  My favorite parts of the Extras were the Character Figures and Esrael’s Antiques sections.  The first contains statues of all the characters in the game, and when you click on them it gives you a brief description of who they are.  The second is filled with special items that you can collect during the game if you happen to spot them.  When you tap on them in the extras area it will explain what they are actually about.  Overall the Extras section is a nice overview of various aspects of the game and worth exploring at least once.


One thing I’ve come to expect from Big Fish hidden object games is a high level of quality in the visual department, and Death Sentence doesn’t disappoint.  The backgrounds are top notch, with plenty of details and objects that are easily identifiable.  The cut scenes are fairly decent as well, though like many of these games the characters in the cut scenes often movie a bit odd, somewhat reminiscent of animation from the 60’s or early 70’s.  Still, when you see static images of the characters they look great.  The sound effects really help the game come to life, and the developers did a nice job casting the voices for the characters.  I particularly like the guy that does Esrael.  The music is well written, and while there’s nothing overly scary about the game, there are times when the music can be haunting, and that does just as good a job of setting the mood.

Haunted Hotel: Death Sentence HD is another fine addition to the growing stable of hidden object adventures available on the App Store from Big Fish Games.  It occasionally suffers from the same things that plague most other hidden object games, but it also excels in all the things it should.  It might not be the perfect adventure game, but it’s one of the best I’ve played in a while.


App Summary
Title: Haunted Hotel: Death Sentence HD – A Supernatural Hidden Objects Game Developer: Big Fish Games, Inc
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: Free App Size: 1331.26MB
  • Interesting, if bit cliche, story
  • Solid game play with nice tweaks to standard mechanics
  • Decent collection of extras
  • Great visuals
  • Good voice casting
  • Well written, sometimes haunting music
  • Hard to manipulate objects in some hidden object scenes
  • Certain mini-games needed tweaking
  • Bonus chapter felt “tacked on”


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10 App Store Games To Watch [9/25/15] Fri, 25 Sep 2015 13:34:26 +0000 No, I haven’t ordered an iPhone 6 anything yet, and I have no plans on getting an iPad Pro right now (I have enough problems with my hands going numb using my regular sized iPad).  I also haven’t scored an Apple Watch yet.  I do, however, have 10 more games to tell you about.  As … Read more]]>


No, I haven’t ordered an iPhone 6 anything yet, and I have no plans on getting an iPad Pro right now (I have enough problems with my hands going numb using my regular sized iPad).  I also haven’t scored an Apple Watch yet.  I do, however, have 10 more games to tell you about.  As my passion for match 3 / RPG hybrids had finally started to burn out I found Hero Emblems, and now I’m addicted once again.  Thanks a lot, @AppUnwrapper.  If Breakout style games are your thing you’ll definitely want to try out Sketch Breaker.  You can put the paddle wherever you want, and it has some of the most unique board designs this side of Anodia.  I even managed to dig up another online game I enjoy called Walking War Robots.  Giant robots, no idle banter and the chance that I can actually come out on top occasionally is a winning combination.


Walking War Robots [4/15/14] – Once again I’m digging in the archives just a bit.  In this case it’s to help further one of my many secondary goals for this article, which is to provide the reader with fun online games for people that don’t like online games.  The game flow is simple: select “To Battle”, and when you’ve been connected to a match decide which robot you’ll use.  Each team has 6 players and the teams get dropped onto opposite sides of the field.  Your job is either to take out all of the opposition or capture and hold the most beacons for the duration of the match.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the clock completely run down to zero, but at some point the game will declare one side the winner.  You’ll earn some coins, and the top three players on the winning side get gold as well.  Coins are used to buy new robots and equipment or upgrade what you have, while gold is used to speed up the upgrade process or buy more slots so you can acquire additional robots.  The graphics aren’t the most advanced around, but they look good and more importantly the game runs pretty smoothly on my increasingly worn out iPad 2.  What takes the cake for me, though, is the fact that you can pop in, play your match and pop out without being social.  While that seems counter-intuitive for an online game, that’s just how I like things.  Besides, in game where you can have someone pummel you with bullets from point blank range and ultimately come out on top is okay in my book.

Walking War Robots Pixonic LLC, Walking War Robots – Free


Wormarium Arcade [9/9/15] – Wormarium was released back in June, and to be honest I’m not sure what the big differences are between that original release and Wormarium Arcade other than the fact that this version is F2P.  When the original was released I had a hard time recommending it because while I enjoyed the concept, the game went from fun and challenging to impossible and frustrating in the course of one level.  While I can imagine the same thing happening here, at least you can try it first to see if it’s your cup of tea before you spend the $2.99 on the full version (or spend some IAP on this one).  Anyway, the game itself is about you directing the course of a worm to fill up some tunnels without getting caught by the mischievous moles.  Generally you can only move forward, so you need to make sure you turn down the right paths to outwit the moles, and I can tell you from experience these moles are more deceptive than they appear.  One thing offered in this version and apparently introduced in the full version after I gave up is two power ups: one to temporary stun a mole (though you still can’t run into it head first), and another to backtrack so you can change your route.  There are plenty of collectibles to acquire and 19 achievements to earn.  The visuals are cute, and I love the animations when you give up and the mole makes you the appetizer.  Not everyone will appreciate the difficulty level, but if you like “easy to learn, hard to master” and especially if you’re in need of family friendly games, Wormarium Arcade is a good choice.

Wormarium Arcade Trompo Games Inc., Wormarium Arcade – Free


The Hit Car [6/13/15] – Welcome to another Flappy Bird.  Sure the game play is nothing like that of the fidgety avian, but it’s one of those games that’s incredibly difficult yet keeps you coming back for more.  Although in this case I actually do find myself wanting to keep playing.  Basically you drive a vehicle around a location, attempting to run down all the zombies while avoiding anything that’s solid enough to stop your progress.  The thing is, you can only turn left and right by tapping the appropriate sides of the screen, and you have no brakes or reverse to get you out of a bind.  You also don’t get any coins unless you run over crates and then run over the coins to collect them.  Needless to say it makes that “cheap” 15 coin upgrade a challenge to acquire.  At this point the game is pretty sparse in terms of content.  There are 2 areas, each with their own vehicle.  There are a couple of weapons to buy and a few upgrades to the ammunition capacity of your vehicle.  Game Center provides a mere 5 achievements and 2 leaderboards, one for each area.  Thankfully the iTunes description promises more of everything, and with a bit of substance I think The Hit Car has a lot of potential.

The Hit Car Adrian Kumorowski, The Hit Car – Free


Sketch Breaker [8/26/15] – If you like Breakout style games you really need to try Sketch Breaker.  The premise is that imps have gotten mixed up in your paintings and you need to set them free.  Unfortunately in order to accomplish this goal you’ll have to dismantle each of the works of art using a ball and paddle.  Unlike most games in this genre your paddle is not fixed to a particular area of the screen – simply draw a line where you want the paddle to appear.  You just need to make sure that you let go of the screen before the ball gets to the paddle or it will pass right through.  If you strike the same color area three times in a row then the next hit to that color (without hitting another color first) will reward you with extra points and paint residue that you can collect to level up your skill.  There are a couple of power ups you can buy at the beginning of a level, but most of your power ups come from freeing the imps from the colorful prison.  Thanks to Game Center you have 5 leaderboards to rank up on as well as 26 achievements to earn.  There are currently four worlds with plenty of levels between them, and a “coming soon” area teases even more levels in the future.  The other thing Sketch Breaker has going for it is one of the coolest theme songs I’ve ever heard for a Breakout style game.

Sketch Breaker FDG Mobile Games GbR, Sketch Breaker – Free


Escape Alcatraz – Devious Escape Puzzler [9/4/15] – When it comes to adventure games the “room escape” sub-genre seems to dominate the playing field, at least from the perspective of quantity.  The problem is that due to the general lack of a story, most of the feel the same after a while.  Escape Alcatraz is a very creative exception to that rule.  As you might have guessed, the goal is to break out of the iconic prison.  In order to do that you’ll have to complete a series of mini-games that will help you acquire all the items you need for your early exit.  Instead of just collecting items in one spot and using them in another, however, the mini-games take advantage of the extended capabilities of your device.  Warning: minor spoiler ahead.  If you want to knock something off of a table, swipe it to the floor.  Tilt your device to keep things in balance when needed.  There’s enough of a variety in the way you have to solve the various puzzles that it doesn’t feel like any other escape game I’ve ever played.  There were a couple of times when it wasn’t quite obvious what you should do, but for the most part the challenge comes in figuring out how to solve the puzzles, not where to start.  The game is divided into two sections, the first of which you get for free and the second you either have to pay for or complete a “special offer” to unlock.  Whichever way you choose to complete the journey, it’s worth it to have your Tim Robbins moment.

Escape Alcatraz - Devious Escape Puzzler FreshGames, LLC, Escape Alcatraz – Devious Escape Puzzler – Free


Hero Emblems [1/8/15] – Like most genres that were once exciting and creative on the iOS platform, the match 3 / RPG hybrid has grown somewhat repetitive and uninspired.  Thankfully I’m still such a fan of the genre that I try as many of them as I can, which gives me great pleasure when I run across one like Hero Emblems.  I’m not going to say that I’ve seen anything completely revolutionary so far, but what it does it handles extremely well.  Whether it be one eyed bats, energetic beavers or boss characters with bad attitudes, there’s a great bestiary to deal with.  Combat is handled in waves, and the board doesn’t actually get reset between each wave, which can be either a blessing or a problem depending on how you manage it.  Treasure chests give you plenty of loot if you get them open or they’ll take a bite out of you if you take too long to get the keys.  Defeat passive gnomes to score some treasure as well.  As you defeat monsters and complete quests you’ll level up.  You’ll also be able to acquire skills and emblems to boost your characters’ fighting prowess.  There’s plenty of overworld map to cover, and there’s even a decent story that unfolds along the way.  The visuals and animation are great, and the music’s not even that bad if you ignore the slightly repetitive nature.  If you’re in the market for the next match 3 / RPG fix, Hero Emblems is the perfect choice.

Hero Emblems CHUN LUNG KUO, Hero Emblems – $3.99


Raider Rush [9/2/15] – What do you get when you take a pixilated Indy with no iconic hat or bull whip and make him collect coins in a trap laden tower while avoiding a deadly upward flow of lava?  If you said Raider Rush then I really need to come up with some tougher questions.  I was honestly ready to delete this after the first time I played it, but I decided to give it a second chance and now I find myself thoroughly enjoying my little interludes of hair pulling frustration as I try to scale one room after the next.  Your mission is to escape a series of rooms within a tower, each one filled with brutal traps and a bad lava leak.  All you can do is jump left or jump right, and if you’re close enough to the edge of a landing the game will grab on for you automatically.  The length of your touch determines how far you jump, but once you’ve selected a direction you’ll keep running until something gets in your way or you jump the other direction.  The fact that you automatically jump when switching directions takes a bit of getting used to, but it also gives the game a unique feel.  From spikes to blades to deadly spears, each level is chock full of nasty obstacles to pass.  In addition to simply completing a room there is a coin to find on each level, but that’s for the skilled, twitch happy individuals only.  Thankfully you can revisit levels later on to recover unclaimed loot.  You get one tower for free, and through IAP you can unlock a second tower as well as infinite mode.  The game offers 3 leaderboards and 11 achievements through Game Center, and Raider Rush will definitely make you work for those achievements.

Raider Rush Wilhelm Clemm, Raider Rush – Free


Evolution Planet [9/19/15] – This is one of those games where you combine three items to make a bigger or better item.  Based on the name you’ve probably guessed that in this case you’re “evolving” animals.  What I like about this game as opposed to most others of its type is that instead of just playing until you’ve filled up the board, in Evolution Planet you actually have levels with goals.  Depending on how well you do on your way to accomplishing those goals you’ll earn between 1 and 3 stars for the level.  Collect gems so that you can move creatures around the board and gather special items to boost your score.  On some levels you’ll have to fight bad guys and even big bosses, and on other levels you’ll need to free your trapped comrades.  Hook up with your friends on Facebook to watch them evolve or give them a heart when they are running low.  There are currently 6 worlds to visit, each with plenty of levels to conquer.  The characters are colorful and well animated, providing a nice family atmosphere.  Evolution Planet is an object merging game with a purpose, which is just what this genre needed.

Evolution Planet Play Wireless, Evolution Planet – Free


The Biking Dead: Survival Course Simulator [9/16/15] – The Biking Dead takes extreme biking to a level 6 feet under.  As a zombie biker you’ll have to traverse some death defying courses, take out your undead fans along the way.  You’ll collect pink diamonds, consume brains to keep your energy up, and evade lots of guns that are shooting at you so you can last longer.  As you complete missions or watch advertisement videos you’ll earn green emeralds, and you’ll be able to use both types of gems to unlock additional items or upgrade what you have.  There are several different bikes and suits to buy, each of which has upgradable specs.  You can also acquire different heroes (ie: head swap, since you are a zombie) that give you special bonuses.  There are 5 different courses, each with their own set of missions and level up counter.  You can freely switch between any of the unlocked courses whenever you want.  Besides the missions there is a leaderboard in Game Center so you can see how miserably you compare against the top riders.  While I’m not a huge fan of rag doll physics it just seems to make sense you add in the zombie element.  I’m still trying to figure out how you manage to pedal the bike when a gun has shot off your legs, though.

The Biking Dead: Survival Course Simulator Space Inch, LLC, The Biking Dead: Survival Course Simulator – Free


The Moaning Words – Trading Card Game in the Cthulhu Mythos [12/20/13] – I’m raiding the vaults again, but I didn’t even know about this one until a few weeks ago.  The game is written by Alan Dean Foster and firmly entrenched in the Cthulhu mythos.  The “action” in the game takes place via a 3×3 grid where you place your cards in such a way that the numbers on the side next to your opponent’s cards are bigger than theirs so you can capture them.  The player with the most cards at the end of the battle wins the match.  There’s also a story mode that plays out like a gamebook adventure where the majority of your choices are driven by your remaining action and sanity points.  Win gold and Elder Signs so that you can buy some nifty cards and additional tools to help you in your journey.  Once you’ve completed or if you want to take a break from the solo missions you can tackle other players PvP style.  If you’ve always fancied yourself a budding storyteller you can even try your hand at creating your own gamebook story that can be shared with other users and rated by them.  And for those of you that just have to have Game Center, The Moaning Words has 11 leaderboards and 22 achievements to earn.  It’s time to get your moan on.

The Moaning Words - Trading Card Game in the Cthulhu Mythos Thumbstar Games Ltd, The Moaning Words – Trading Card Game in the Cthulhu Mythos – 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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