TouchMyApps » Puzzle http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Wed, 03 Feb 2016 17:15:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.13 A Day In The Woods Gets Spooky For Halloween http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/10/20/a-day-in-the-woods-gets-spooky-for-halloween/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/10/20/a-day-in-the-woods-gets-spooky-for-halloween/#comments Tue, 20 Oct 2015 19:08:48 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74806 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]]>

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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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Tiny Empire in Review – Cute And Challenging http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/09/09/tiny-empire-in-review-cute-and-challenging/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/09/09/tiny-empire-in-review-cute-and-challenging/#comments Wed, 09 Sep 2015 16:28:26 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74728 I’m willing to admit that I loved Angry Birds right along with everyone else when it first came out.  After umpteen sidetracks and licenses, however, I found the sequel to be too little too late.  I still think the general mechanics of the Angry Bird style game work, but I’m tired of being angry.  That’s … Read more]]>

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I’m willing to admit that I loved Angry Birds right along with everyone else when it first came out.  After umpteen sidetracks and licenses, however, I found the sequel to be too little too late.  I still think the general mechanics of the Angry Bird style game work, but I’m tired of being angry.  That’s where Tiny Empire comes in.  You’re still trying to get rid of the bad guys by flinging objects at them, but in this case you simply need to take out the enemy, and not destroy everything in sight.  It’s a simpler approach, but I’ve found my time with Tiny Empire so far much more fulfilling than my outing with the latest avian adventures.  Besides, tiny equals cute, and I like cute.

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In this fantasy based approach to the physics based flinging puzzler you must help a king defend his land against golems, orcs and more.  The thing is, you’ll have to champion this fight on your own, because the rest of the king’s soldiers seem content with doing nothing more than getting in the way of your dangerous cannonballs.  Thankfully with a little skill and some luck you can get around them, though even if you take out one or two in the process of your defense you can still complete a level.  On the other hand, you do have to take out every bad guy on each level, or you basically fail and have to repeat the level over again.  Of course each level has 3 tokens (either stars or diamonds) that you can earn, and while casualties of friendly fire don’t keep you from passing a level, they’ll certainly guarantee that you don’t get your maximum reward.

In typical object flinging fashion, you control your cannon simply by dragging from the cannon to where you want to shoot, adjusting the length and height of your finger for distance and arc.  When the cannon is on the left side of the board this works just fine, but it seems like if the cannon is in the center or worse yet on the right side of the field, your hand tends to block the display as you’re crossing the screen.  I know it technically works the same when going from left to right, but while that feels natural the other configurations seem a bit awkward.

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You start the game with one type of cannonball, but as you progress through the levels you’ll earn a fireball that covers more ground with its damage as well as a cannonball that provides for a more precise shot.  It would be nice if you could choose what order to use your ammunition in, but since you can’t you’ll just have to make the order work to your advantage.  In addition to the different types of ammunition you’ll have two power ups to help you in your quest: shields protect each soldier on the battlefield from one errant shot, while targeting gives you the ability to see exactly where your shot will land for one attempt at a level.  The beauty of these bonuses is that they don’t affect your ability to earn tokens, so it’s definitely to your benefit to take advantage of them to earn 3 tokens on the more difficult levels.

Using each of these bonuses requires gems, but there are several ways to get those.  Naturally you can spend some cash on IAP if you’d like, but you also randomly get gems from certain foes when they die.  Occasionally goblins will pop up on the field, and if you blast them you’ll get 40 gems.  Finally, you’ll uncover gem mines along your route which will earn you some gems every so many hours.  Between all these sources you shouldn’t run out of currency unless you’re constantly buying bonuses.

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In addition to the three tokens on each level, there are several different cannons and helmets to collect either by earning a certain number of tokens or using the gems that you’ve collected.  Unfortunately these “upgrades” are purely aesthetic at this point, but hopefully that will change some time down the road.  There are also 17 achievements to earn via Game Center, though most of them revolve around simply completing the different areas of the game.

Tiny Empire might describe the kingdom, but it also gives you a fair idea of the inhabitants.  They may not really be that tiny, but it just seems that way given the visuals.  But, as I mentioned in the beginning, tiny equals cute, and I like cute.  The character graphics are actually pretty neat, with good designs and decent animations when the characters get struck by the various types of ammunition.  What did disappoint me, however, were the backgrounds.  They felt somewhat simplistic, which was particularly sad given the detail in the world map.  There we see birds flying around, fish swimming in the water and even little animations on the levels that you have as yet to conquer.  The sound effects helped bring the world to life, but I think the game needs more.  The creatures are too quiet unless they are actually the recipients of a cannonball.  The music is decent enough, but the medieval fair tunes are easily forgettable once you stop playing for a while.

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Like most games, Tiny Empire isn’t without its flaws.  But, given that this particular genre seems to be waning in popularity, it’s nice to have an alternative to the ever growing birds regime that’s actually fun to play.  If we’re lucky, maybe this will grow into its own franchise to keep that alternative alive for a while.  Or if nothing else, some extra levels down the road to lengthen this experience would be just fine with me.

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App Summary
Title: Tiny Empire Developer: Mother Gaia Studio
Reviewed Ver: 1.1.3 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 70.54MB
  • Great alternative to Angry Birds
  • Plenty of levels to conquer
  • Steady supply of in-game currency without IAP
  • Cool pixel characters
  • Fun sound effects
  • Hand can get in the way of the battlefield
  • Can’t choose order of ammo
  • Various collectibles don’t enhance game play
  • Needs more memorable music

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Castling in Review – You Got Your Chess In My Puzzle Game… http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/09/02/castling-in-review-you-got-your-chess-in-my-puzzle-game/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/09/02/castling-in-review-you-got-your-chess-in-my-puzzle-game/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:33:21 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74706 When I was younger, most notably in high school, I liked to play chess once in a while.  The problem with a game like chess is it’s not easily accessible like checkers or most card games, so it can be hard to find folks that want to play with you.  Earlier this year my kids … Read more]]>

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When I was younger, most notably in high school, I liked to play chess once in a while.  The problem with a game like chess is it’s not easily accessible like checkers or most card games, so it can be hard to find folks that want to play with you.  Earlier this year my kids started to gain an appreciation for the game, so when I came across Castling I thought it might appeal to both them and me.  The brilliance of Castling is that while it never presents a full game it teaches you how to move all the pieces, and it throws a nice bit of good old fashion puzzle strategy into the mix as well.  Add to that the entertaining representations of the different pieces and you have an instant classic for both chess lovers and puzzle gamers alike.

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Just like in the game of chess, the object in Castling is to take out the king.  In this case, however, you must literally remove him from the board, unlike this game’s inspiration where you can simply “contain” him to win the game.  Typically this means getting one of your pieces onto the same square as the king, though on rare occasions there are other ways to eliminate the royal thorn in your side.  The trek won’t be easy, as the king often has some evil henchmen surrounding him.  Thankfully the opposition will only attack and not move around the board, so as long as you stay clear of a piece’s attacking pattern you’re okay.  Of course there are times when you may actually want to get attacked, though you always have to keep one of your pieces alive.

Besides the king and his minions, the path to victory is paved with many other obstacles.  Sometimes the path will be obscured with drawbridges that must be lowered by positioning a piece on a button.  In the second level set you’ll have to deal with ice, which is a slippery proposition, and sometimes even cracks under your weight.  In the third group of challenges you’ll have to have a keen eye for color, as certain gates can only be traversed by pieces of a certain hue.  Luckily you’ll be able to merge and split pieces as well as simply have them land on color changers in order to get the exact shade you’re looking for.  There is also a set of eight levels that just tests you to see how much you’ve learned from the first 60.  In order to navigate this wonderful world of “not quite chess” you just have to drag a piece from where it rests to where you want it to go.  The game is even kind enough to show you all the available moves you can make.

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Castling is comprised of 60 levels spread across 3 worlds with an additional 8 level bonus which you unlock by completing the rest of the levels or posting on Facebook or Twitter about the game via in-app buttons.  Each level has three stars to collect and a special medal you can earn by completing a more challenging goal such as beating the level in a certain number of moves.  There are 21 achievements to earn via Game Center, but there’s no leaderboard since the only thing you could really compete on is overall time to complete and the game doesn’t time you in the first place.  This is a feature I really appreciate, by the way.

The backgrounds aren’t overly detailed or diverse, but the game looks good.  I particularly like how they’ve rendered the different chess pieces.  I could almost picture them making an animated movie with these characters not unlike such films as Cars or Finding Nemo.  It would be an unexpected subject for sure, but the depictions of the various pieces give them such character.  The sound effects help in that regards as well, especially when your pieces cheer after a victory or the various players start to yawn if you haven’t moved for a while.  There are some other miscellaneous effects throughout the game that provide some nice distraction in the background but don’t really seem to fit with the game.  It’s like someone left a “sounds of nature” CD running in the background.  There’s a halfway decent music track that plays during the menu, but sadly there is no music while you’re actually playing a level, which as I’ve said many times is a particularly bad thing when the game is slower paced like Castling.

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Castling is a great puzzle game that’s blends the movements of chess with a completely different style of play.  Pure chess fiends might not find it as much of a thrill, but casual players as well as general puzzle freaks like myself should really enjoy it.  The puzzles are well thought out and often challenging without ever being impossible, and the atmosphere is cute but doesn’t feel too childish.  Some music during the levels would be nice, and maybe just a bit of animation in the background.  Otherwise this is a solid, worthwhile puzzle game.

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App Summary
Title: Castling Developer: Oddlabs
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 7.0
Price: $0.99 App Size: 31.22MB
  • 60+ well designed levels
  • Nice blend of chess and puzzle solving
  • Cute character pieces
  • Nice sound effects for pieces
  • Background effects seem random and superfluous
  • No music during the levels

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Light In The Dark in Review – A Glowing Puzzle Game http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/08/26/light-in-the-dark-in-review-a-glowing-puzzle-game/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/08/26/light-in-the-dark-in-review-a-glowing-puzzle-game/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 22:12:36 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74685 Light In The Dark is one of those puzzle games where you have to light things up using various colors.  It’s been done before, but what makes this one work is the cute atmosphere.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that there are some well designed levels to go along with the kooky story and silly … Read more]]>

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Light In The Dark is one of those puzzle games where you have to light things up using various colors.  It’s been done before, but what makes this one work is the cute atmosphere.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that there are some well designed levels to go along with the kooky story and silly characters.  I’m not a huge fan of this particular type of puzzle game, but Light In The Dark has managed to win me over for now.

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In Light In The Dark you control these odd but cute creatures that have lost their kids inside a crazy temple full of rooms with quirky designs.  To make matters worse the tykes have all fallen asleep, and the only way to wake them up and bring them home is to bathe them in the light that emanates from the adults’ bodies.  Don’t let the child like premise fool you, though.  There’s definitely plenty of challenge to be had for adults in this game, and the silly characters that appeal to kids are just a bonus for anyone with children that need to move beyond basic educational games.

To move the critters you simply drag them with your finger.  This also applies to movable crates and mirrors, both of which can be used to block and redirect beams of light as appropriate.  With mirrors you might also have the opportunity to spin them which requires tapping on them to get the rotation handles, and then dragging those handles in the direction you want to rotate the mirror.  The controls are pretty user friendly, but there are times where you try and grab something and the game seems to not do what you’re expecting it to.  Given the precise nature of the game it can be frustrating occasionally, but it’s certainly not a pervasive problem.

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The world you get with the game is comprised of 5 tombs that each contains 20 levels and 4 bonus levels.  It seems like each new level offers some new mechanic or at least a different combination of mechanics, and whether or not you like some of the levels it’s obvious they put a lot of thought into the design.  Initially the babies and the adult are all the same color, and then you get multiple adults and babies of different colors so you have to make sure the colors don’t cross.  Then there are babies that are a combination of colors and white babies that have to be touched by the light of every adult in the room.  Add to that the mummies that don’t like light on them at all, switches that are manipulated by the presence and absence of light, and so on and you can see how getting everything lined up just right can be tricky on some levels.

The game rewards you with up to three stars per level, but of course you actually have to get those by shining light on them as well.  Stars are needed to unlock bonus levels and additional tombs, but thankfully once you’ve unlocked a tomb you can start on it without finishing the previous one.  On the down side, within a tomb you do have to finish a level before moving on to the next one.  In addition to saving the babies and collecting stars you get a best time and lowest number of moves for each level.  I guess this is for your own personal gratification, because there are no leaderboards that I’ve found which take advantage of these two values.  There are, however, 54 achievements via Game Center, so if you’re like me that’s actually a better reward.

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If you hadn’t seen this coming yet, the visuals in this game are cute.  Everything is well drawn, the visuals have plenty of details, and the animation makes the main characters look perky and even helps the mummies seem not so bad.  The sound effects are decent overall, and the cheerful squeals the kids make when they wake up in the glow of their parents’ light really encourages you to keep on pressing on.  The music is fun for a while, but I’m pretty sure it’s the exact same tune on every level, so it does get old before too long.

As puzzle games go, the bending light through a maze style challenge ranks pretty low on my desire list, but Light In The Dark has managed to capture my time anyway.  The cute atmosphere, challenging puzzles and constant addition of new elements gives you a reason to keep on coming back.  Now if those kids could just stop wandering away…

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App Summary
Title: Light in the Dark Developer: Dreamgate Studios
Reviewed Ver: 2.0.2 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: $1.99 App Size: 92.41MB
  • Lots of levels to master
  • New puzzle elements added frequently
  • Family friendly atmosphere
  • Cute graphics and sound effects
  • Controls are occasionally finicky
  • Can’t skip challenging levels
  • Only one musical track

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Stupid Zombies 3 in Review – Still Just Standing Around To Get Shot http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/07/26/stupid-zombies-3-in-review-still-just-standing-around-to-get-shot/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/07/26/stupid-zombies-3-in-review-still-just-standing-around-to-get-shot/#comments Sun, 26 Jul 2015 16:55:19 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74608 I’m still one of those people that believe there’s almost nothing better than a good zombie game, and from what I’ve seen so far Stupid Zombies 3 certainly qualifies.  It’s been a while since I played the first one, and I’m not even sure if I played part 2 or not, but based on my … Read more]]>

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I’m still one of those people that believe there’s almost nothing better than a good zombie game, and from what I’ve seen so far Stupid Zombies 3 certainly qualifies.  It’s been a while since I played the first one, and I’m not even sure if I played part 2 or not, but based on my time with the third chapter I think it’s fair to say that the series gets better with every iteration.  Zombie slaying, bouncy physics and an RPG toting granny really work well together.

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If you’ve ever played a zombie game, you know what the basic premise of Stupid Zombies is.  Your territory has been overrun with the undead, and it’s up to you to clean it up.  Thankfully you have weapons to help you do just that.  Better yet, your ammunition has this uncanny ability to ricochet off of things, making the kills much more stylish and entertaining.  You even get a nice line of sight guide to help you make the tough shots, or at least get them started correctly.  Aiming is a simple matter of dragging your finger roughly to where you want to make your shot and then letting go of the screen to fire.  If you decide you want to “recalibrate” then just drag your finger back to your active character to cancel the in progress shot.  The controls are intuitive and work quite well.

The game is divided into 100 levels that span the breadth of your zombie riddled city.  Each level has several body count requirements to meet, is comprised of multiple screens worth of area, and gives you a limited amount of ammo to work with.  Besides the natural barriers provided by the various ruined walls that litter the landscape there are other obstacles like panels that move up and down and construction zombies which tote around signs that block a single shot.  Thankfully you can use some of the junk that’s lying around to your advantage: tires and crates make good zombie killers.  You’ll also run across some barrels that are quite explosive.  There are three characters to control throughout the course of the game, but you don’t get to choose who goes when.  That’s determined by the level that you’re on.  Each character has a unique weapon, and mastering these different tools will be the difference between success and failure.  I hope that the distribution of these characters shifts as the game progresses, because so far it seems to mainly focus on the guy, which doesn’t give you much of a chance to familiarize yourself with the other weapons.

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If you meet your goals before you run out of ammunition you’ll earn somewhere between 1 to 3 stars based on your score.  Each level has its own leaderboard via Facebook, and there are 6 achievements to earn through Game Center.  If you do fail your mission you can gain an additional 2 shots by spending some gold, but gold is a rare commodity that is given only one at a time as a daily reward.  That doesn’t seem so bad except that it cost 9 gold bars for two extra shots.  Of course you can spend some IAP to get more gold, but based on my performance on level 20 so far I’d probably waste all my excess on that level and be stuck again a few levels down the road.  This is my main complaint with Stupid Zombies 3 – it feels like I’m going to be punished for not being particularly skilled at this style of game play by either playing certain levels ad museum or by eventually being forced to spend more IAP than I want to in order to move forward.

The visuals are rather nice.  Backgrounds have nice details and change as you crawl through the city, while the different occupants – both the undead and your “crew” – are well designed.  I do wish there were a bit more animation, as the zombies feel a bit lethargic, but then I suppose they are zombies.  The sound effects are decent, but the zombies themselves don’t really make a whole lot of noise.  Additionally, the music only plays during the map and menu sequences, which is a shame since it’s actually pretty good.  Overall the aesthetics were fairly underplayed in this game.

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Whether or not the physics in this game are anywhere near accurate, if you’re a fan of physics based games you should enjoy Stupid Zombies 3.  Even if you’re sick of the deluge of zombie based games this one is free, so you should give it a try.  Just pretend the zombies are politicians or something.  There are plenty of interestingly designed levels, and while not overly animated the world looks good.  The sound effects and music could use some bolstering, however, and you need to keep in mind that eventually you’ll start to feel the pains of this being a F2P game where their income is derived from you buying IAP.  If you can live with that you’ll get plenty of enjoyment from this title.

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App Summary
Title: Stupid Zombies 3 Developer: GameResort LLC
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 7.0
Price: Free App Size: 84.24MB
  • I love shooting zombies
  • Challenging level designs
  • Solid artwork
  • Free… mostly
  • They don’t switch up the main characters enough
  • The sound is mediocre
  • No music during game play
  • Some levels are nearly impossible to beat without buying extra shots

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Triangulae in Review – Don’t worry, there’s no math involved http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/07/03/triangulae-in-review-dont-worry-theres-no-math-involved/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/07/03/triangulae-in-review-dont-worry-theres-no-math-involved/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 14:41:40 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74560 Triangulae is a puzzle game that seems to be following this delightful new trend of not being a 2048 clone or physics puzzler or “insert your favorite popular puzzle genre here”.  In fact, I’m pleased to say that I don’t think I’ve played anything quite like it before.  It’s got all the bases covered with … Read more]]>

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Triangulae is a puzzle game that seems to be following this delightful new trend of not being a 2048 clone or physics puzzler or “insert your favorite popular puzzle genre here”.  In fact, I’m pleased to say that I don’t think I’ve played anything quite like it before.  It’s got all the bases covered with three different game play modes for different types of players, the mechanics are simple to master while the game itself isn’t, and there’s enough challenge to satisfy most typical gamers.  Puzzle gamers, prepare to add another gem into your collection.

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If you adhere to the “easy to learn, difficult to master” mantra of game playing, Triangulae is right up your alley.  The playing field is a grid full of tiles, each one containing a triangle.  Your job is to slide the tiles around until you fill a square with four triangles, one pointing in each of four directions.  You can slide a tile at any time regardless of whether it has one, two or three triangles in it, so you don’t just have to move the solo triangles.

Triangulae has 3 different game play modes.  In Classic mode you keep playing until you’ve exhausted all possible moves.  Every time you fill up a square it gets cleared and replaced with a single triangle, and for every ten squares you fill you lose one spot on the board.  Occasionally a tile will be highlighted, and if you fill that tile expediently you’ll receive a power up (or possibly down) that seems to last until you advance to the next level.  Timed mode is Classic mode with the power ups and loss of spots replaced by a 60 second timer.  Finally you have Persistence mode where you have to fill in as many of the 16 spots on the board as you can, but once you’ve filled a spot it you can’t get rid of it or move it.  Thankfully you always know what piece is coming up next, so the game can be as strategic as you want it to be – although the timer in Timed mode might prohibit that a bit if you’re like me and don’t think quickly.

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You score for filling up a tile, you score bonus points if you can complete multiple tiles consecutively without a non-completion move in between, and you also score extra points in Classic and Timed modes if all four triangles in a tile are the same color.  Unfortunately, while each game play mode has its own highscore table, it’s all local rankings only.  That’s the game’s biggest drawback.  It would be nice if the scores could be placed on some social network like Game Center or Facebook so you could compare yourself to other players.  It doesn’t really diminish the fun of the game at all, but it robs you of your ability to brag… or be humiliated.

The visuals have that iOS 8 “minimalist” look that many developers like to flaunt, but in this case it looks quite nice.  There isn’t much in terms of bells and whistles where the graphics are concerned, but they do fill the screen with triangle confetti when the game is over and as you complete squares faces will appear on each of the triangles.  The sound effects are okay, but certainly nothing memorable, and while I really like the music, it would be nice if there was more than one track to listen to.

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If you’re a puzzle game fan that’s look for something out of the norm, look no further.  Triangulae is a simple to play yet challenging game that breaks away from the pack to provide a unique gaming experience.  You won’t find any fancy 3D visuals or orchestral soundtracks here, but then you don’t really need them either.  Welcome to a new generation of mobile puzzle gaming.

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App Summary
Title: Triangulae Developer: Ricardo Fonseca
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.3 Min OS Req:  iOS 7.1
Price: $1.99 App Size: 10.74MB
  • Unique game play
  • 3 different game styles for different types of players
  • Slick, minimalistic visuals
  • Nice music
  • No social integration
  • Needs some variety in the soundtrack

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Fix The Candy in Review – Sweet Success In A Puzzle Game http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/06/23/fix-the-candy-in-review-sweet-success-in-a-puzzle-game/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/06/23/fix-the-candy-in-review-sweet-success-in-a-puzzle-game/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 19:14:51 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74526 I have to admit that I have this really bad stigma towards games that are priced at $2.99 on the App Store.  I don’t know why, but to me that seems to be the price point that has been settled on for a wide variety of games that should honestly be free… or maybe shouldn’t … Read more]]>

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I have to admit that I have this really bad stigma towards games that are priced at $2.99 on the App Store.  I don’t know why, but to me that seems to be the price point that has been settled on for a wide variety of games that should honestly be free… or maybe shouldn’t have even made it to the App Store in the first place.  Thankfully I decided to ignore that quirk in my judgment with Fix The Candy, which has turned out to be an incredibly fun game.  Unfortunately there’s only one save slot, so I’ve had to keep shooing my kids away until I get the game completed on my own.  Oh, the trials I endure for a good game!

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The idea is that a bad earthquake has torn the magical kingdom of Candy World apart and splintered all the candy in the process.  Your job is to put all the candy back together by dragging the sweet shards onto each other to form a whole.  You have to be careful, though, because anything you touch with the candy that is not a like piece of candy will destroy it (and if it’s a different type of candy you’ll also destroy that piece of candy as well).  Additionally, if you let go of a piece of candy before you’ve joined it with another like piece of candy then you can kiss that candy goodbye.

It already sounds a bit nerve wracking, right?  Well just to make sure things aren’t so easy, there are all kinds of obstacles.  Walls, moving walls, walls with spikes (and of course moving walls with spikes) will all restrict the areas in which you can move.  And just in case that doesn’t feel modern enough for you, there are laser walls to contend with as well.  Don’t forget about the creatures that like to eat candy.  Some of them will actively seek out the candy which adds additional pressure to the already ticking clock.  Others will grow bigger when they consume a piece of candy.  Thankfully you have a few tricks up your sleeve, like pipes that let you pass through the walls and a magnet that can assemble a whole piece of candy by dragging one shard on it.

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Control is a simple matter of tapping a piece, dragging it to another like piece and letting go.  While this seems easy enough, there have been a number of times where I thought I was on a piece and started dragging only to realize it hadn’t registered the fact that I picked up the piece.  Also, dropping off the piece seems to be somewhat sensitive as again there were several occasions where I thought I was in the right place only to watch my pieces go poof in a puff of smoke.  It’s certainly not enough of an issue to keep me from playing, but seeing as it’s the only controllable mechanic in the game it could be a bit smoother.  The game has a leaderboard, though last time I checked there was one person on it which leads me to believe it’s not working right.  At the moment there are no achievements to earn.

The graphics are cute, with colorful candies and quirky critters.  The different styles of candy are distinct enough that even when they get smaller they’re easy to tell apart.  There really isn’t much to the background, but at least there are some nifty special effects when your candy gets destroyed.  The sound effects are decent enough, and the music is fun for a bit, although the single musical track gets kind of boring after a while.

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Fix The Candy is a nice combination of puzzle game and twitch fest.  Even with the timer it rarely gets frustrating, and it’s both simple enough for younger kids to understand and challenging enough to keep older kids (both in age and spirit) entertained.  The biggest down side is that with only 60 levels some skill and a little persistence will have you wanting more before long.

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App Summary
Title: Fix The Candy Developer: Evelyn Labs
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req:
Price: $1.99 App Size: 86.95MB
  • Simple, fun game mechanics
  • Entertaining for both young and old players
  • Cute, colorful visuals
  • Control can be a bit touchy
  • 60 levels go by quickly
  • The single background song gets boring pretty fast

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A Day In The Woods in Review – To Grandmother’s House We Go http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/05/31/a-day-in-the-woods-in-review-to-grandmothers-house-we-go/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/05/31/a-day-in-the-woods-in-review-to-grandmothers-house-we-go/#comments Sun, 31 May 2015 23:30:33 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74474 When I first read the description for A Day In The Woods I got a bit nervous.  The iTunes description pegs it as a “stylish re-imagining of the traditional sliding puzzle game”, and I started having flashbacks of cheap plastic molding and the need to physically rip some tiles from their tracks and position them … Read more]]>

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When I first read the description for A Day In The Woods I got a bit nervous.  The iTunes description pegs it as a “stylish re-imagining of the traditional sliding puzzle game”, and I started having flashbacks of cheap plastic molding and the need to physically rip some tiles from their tracks and position them in the proper place forcefully in order to beat the puzzle.  Thankfully there is really very little similarity between this game and those frightful little toys.  Instead what we have is a delightful puzzle game that expands on the Red Riding Hood universe and challenges the mind to look beyond the trees for the forest (okay, I’m reaching with that pun, but it had to be done).

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The task is to help Red get through the woods to grandmother’s house.  As it turns out, this journey is a lot longer than any story has ever given it credit for, and it’s also apparently filled with a lot of imposter houses.  Nevertheless, you must aid Red in reaching each house and knocking on the door so you can get some sort of snide remark from the dwelling’s occupant, who usually doesn’t want to be bothered.  You can’t control Red directly, however, nor of that matter any other object or obstacle in the game.  Instead, you must use a magical sprite, constantly swapping tiles between the sprite and whatever object you wish to actually move.

Long before the wolf comes into play you’ll have to deal with bears and trapdoor spiders.  Thankfully you’ll have things like campfires, beehives and poor, fluffy rabbits to deal with these vile creatures.  Each has their own set of rules for how they interact with each other and with you, and as this is a family friendly game you’ll be spared the gruesomeness of watching innocent red get devoured by some hungry beast.  In fact, if there’s something you can’t get too close to the game just won’t let you do it.  This does mean you’ll have to work your way around things at times, though, and since one of the goals is limited number of footsteps, you’ll have to be creative in your movements.

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The game is comprised of 60 levels, and each level has 3 stars you can earn: one for simply completing the level, another for collecting all the flowers and berries on the level and a third for finishing the level on or below a certain number of moves.  Thankfully you can always earn one star.  The trick becomes trying to collect all the goodies on a level and still making it to the cabin door under the required number of moves.  It is quite possible on each level, but as my sorry scoreboard suggests it’s not all that easy.  There are no leaderboards to rank on or achievements to earn, but for a game like this being able to earn all three stars on a level is reward enough.  One thing that is kind of neat is that as you earn stars you’ll be able to unlock new accoutrements for the sprite as well as additional backdrops for the scenery.

Speaking of which, the graphics in A Day In The Woods are really neat.  At first things seem a bit washed out and lacking in detail, but when you realize that the characters and tiles are supposed to look like hand carved wooden pieces everything takes on a whole new dimension.  Granted the bits of animation detract from that illusion, but they are welcome none the less.  The sound effects work quite well and are much appreciated, especially since there is no music playing during the game itself.  This is really the single biggest flaw with this game, especially given the slow, methodical nature of the game play itself.  It’s easy to notice the lack of background music.

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A Day In The Woods is a breath of fresh air on the App Store.  It’s engaging, it’s challenging, and it doesn’t feel quite like anything else I’ve played.  The visuals do a great job of capturing the board game nature of the product, and the sound effects actually help bring a little life into this imagining of the Red Riding Hood tale.  If they would just add some music this game would be an A+ instead of an A.

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App Summary
Title: A Day In The Woods Developer: RetroEpic Software
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: $4.99 App Size: 159.10MB
  • Great concept
  • Challenging but manageable levels
  • Cool board game look
  • Nice sound effects
  • No music

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Armadillo Gold Rush in Review – Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’… http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/05/15/armadillo-gold-rush-in-review-rollin-rollin-rollin/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/05/15/armadillo-gold-rush-in-review-rollin-rollin-rollin/#comments Sat, 16 May 2015 01:53:55 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74421 When I first saw the press release for Armadillo Gold Rush I thought maybe I had missed something, because I was sure I had already played this game.  Well, it turns out I had – 7 years ago when I reviewed it for the PocketPC!  Back then I gave the game a 9 out of … Read more]]>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gummy Drop! in Review – Match 3, Quests And IAP, Oh My! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/10/10/gummy-drop-in-review-match-3-quests-and-iap-oh-my/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/10/10/gummy-drop-in-review-match-3-quests-and-iap-oh-my/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:09:22 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74084 Most of my experience with Big Fish Games has been in relation to hidden object games, at least when it comes to my iDevices.  I was intrigued by the release of Gummy Drop!, though, because I was told that it wasn’t a cookie cutter match 3 game, and as a devout fan of the genre … Read more]]>

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Most of my experience with Big Fish Games has been in relation to hidden object games, at least when it comes to my iDevices.  I was intrigued by the release of Gummy Drop!, though, because I was told that it wasn’t a cookie cutter match 3 game, and as a devout fan of the genre I’m always looking for something that feels fresh.  The truth is that from a mechanics perspective there really isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, or at least that’s the case with as far as I’ve gotten.  What does stand out, however, are all the goals and extras that come with completing the levels.  Be warned that this is a free to play game, which means you’ll need a fair amount of patience or the willingness to spend some IAP to keep progressing after a while.

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Your job is to travel the world fixing all the destruction the gummies have caused.  To do that you’ll have to match gummies like you’ve never matched before, clearing them away to reach high scores so you can move on to subsequent levels.  Some levels have special tiles that need to be cleared away in order to win, and still others have bricks that need to be collected by matching them.  There are even some cases where you have to gather souvenirs by matching away the stuff beneath them so they fall to the bottom of the screen.  Each level has three difficulties with progressively harder goals to attain and greater rewards to earn.  Besides getting to keep the bricks you match you will earn coins and other items that will help you fulfill certain missions.

You see, in addition to simply beating the levels there are various quests around the board that you’ll need to complete.  The most basic one is rebuilding certain structures which you’ll use the bricks you collect to accomplish.  In the first 10 levels you’ll need to collect special coins that you’ll use to help rebuild a lighthouse, and so on.  I like this because it gives you incentive to replay the levels at a higher difficulty and provides you with more satisfaction than just beating other people’s high scores and climbing leaderboard charts.  Of course if you really do care about that sort of thing you are more than welcome to invite your Facebook friends and challenge them to beat your scores.

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Coins are used to buy power ups that can help turn the tide when you’re not meeting your goals as well as buy extra hearts when you’ve run out and want to keep playing before the timer refreshes.  The problem is that the rewards you earn from beating levels don’t go a long way towards purchasing power ups, and the further you progress in the game the more non-optional power ups become.  Thankfully some of the quests provide you with extra coins, and you also get to scratch off a lottery ticket each day where you can win some money.  Between having only three lives and the hefty cost of the more advanced power ups, however, the game is definitely geared towards making you shell out for IAP at some point.  At least it has the courtesy of not popping up something every couple of rounds asking you to buy, though, so kudos for that.

I really like the way the game looks.  In the matching scenes there is plenty of sparkle, and on the map it has a cool “made out of paper” appearance.  There’s plenty of animation and everything is well drawn.  The sound effects are okay, but they can be useful for things like knowing that you’ve crossed a milestone in the score or cleared away yet another tile.  Your tour guide pipes up with comments quite frequently, though I’m still not sure what she means when she says “weekend”.  The music is nice and subtle so it keeps you entertained while you’re thinking yet is not overly distracting.  It’s kind of like good elevator music, if that is even possible.

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Overall Gummy Drop provides a pleasant match 3 experience, and while the actual matching mechanics don’t offer anything new there’s plenty to do with quests and multiple difficulty settings to conquer at each level.  I just wish there were some way to get the full effect of the game without having to spend a ton of money on IAP.  I could see investing $5 or $10 in this game, but to truly make smart purchases is probably going to cost you a lot more than that.

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App Summary
Title: Gummy Drop! Developer: Big Fish Games, Inc
Reviewed Ver:  1.0.3 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: Free App Size:  72.3 MB
  • Plenty of levels to conquer
  • Each level has 3 layers of difficulty
  • Additional quests give you more to do
  • Good visuals and sound
  • Nothing new from the match 3 perspective
  • IAP basically becomes a must at some point

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Spellfall – Puzzle RPG in Review – You Better Watch Out, Puzzle Quest http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/27/spellfall-puzzle-rpg-in-review-you-better-watch-out-puzzle-quest/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/27/spellfall-puzzle-rpg-in-review-you-better-watch-out-puzzle-quest/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:51:05 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74029 Since the dawn of the match 3 / RPG hybrid Puzzle Quest has always been king of the throne.  In fact, I think it was the game that introduced me to this wonderful mash up of genres.  Now Backflip Studios has released Spellfall – Puzzle RPG, and while I’m hesitant to say that this contender … Read more]]>

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Since the dawn of the match 3 / RPG hybrid Puzzle Quest has always been king of the throne.  In fact, I think it was the game that introduced me to this wonderful mash up of genres.  Now Backflip Studios has released Spellfall – Puzzle RPG, and while I’m hesitant to say that this contender has usurped the crown, it’s pretty amazing in its own right.  The battles are fast and furious, the rewards are plenty and the rune system is a really nice bonus.  The combat effects are among the best I’ve seen in this style of game, and the overall polish is quite impressive.  Chalk up another win for Backflip.

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There is actually a story going on here, though to be perfectly frank I don’t remember what the whole point of the mission is.  It’s not like a “one and done” intro thing either because there is text at the beginning of each combat filling you in just a bit more on everything that’s going on.  In the end it won’t matter for most people because one of the pluses of Spellfall is that you can play for as little at a time as you want and you never feel like you’re missing anything the next time you load up the game to play again.  The basics are that you’re trying to conquer evil and in order to do so you must explore a series of different locations.  You’ll meet some interesting creatures along the way, and while it seems like they only introduce 2 or 3 new ones per area, given the number of areas that kind of pacing should still result in a nice range of foes to fight.

As you might have gathered, combat takes place in a match 3 scenario.  Instead of the usual breakdown of physical and magical attacks, defense and coins, however, Spellfall is all about the magic (though there are still coins to be matched).  You have four elements to work with, and most monsters will have a particular weakness to one of the elements.  Matching 4 of a kind will create a special tile that can wipe out a row or column, and matching 5 or more in a line will create a bonus attack tile.  If you match one of these tiles then when that turn is done your character will launch a special attack based on that particular element type.  There are also runes that match each element type, and if you have one of those runes and it is active it will get slightly charged each time you match the corresponding element.  When runes are fully charged they can heal, poison, shuffle tiles and more.  I do wish runes would charge as long as you had the equipped, but that’s a minor quibble and could actually make things a bit too easy.

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Monsters only get to attack once every so many rounds, but they make up for it by unleashing some deadly attacks.  If you’re victorious you can earn Exp Points which help you level up, Rune Points which enable your runes to level up, Collected Coins (those you match up during play) and Victory Coins for winning the match.  Should you fail you’ll still earn Exp Points and Collected Coins, but obviously winning is preferable.  Money can be used to buy weapons, armor and runes as well as to heal your character between battles and unlock rune slots on weapons or armor.  Thankfully runes don’t become permanent attachments to your other equipment, but sometimes to get the more powerful duds you might have to give up using some runes for a while.  That’s the single biggest point of frustration in this game – it takes a while to earn money unless you want to supplement your coffer via IAP, so you have to be real careful what you spend your loot on.  Add to that the fact that the items store is randomly supplied and items don’t stay in the store very long and you might miss out on something you really wanted.  Of course this is how they drive you to spending your cash, but since it doesn’t really hamper you from playing the game that’s okay with me.

The visuals in Spellfall are great.  The characters are very well designed so that even the creatures you’re used to feel fresh.  The animation is fluid, the creatures’ attacks are varied and interesting, and the bonus attacks your mage makes can certainly impress.  The sound effects are all pretty good, though your character does sound a bit wimpy when he gets hit.  The music has a nice fantasy tone to it, and while it’s nothing earth shattering it’s just nice to have there for the few seconds when you breathe between battles.  Otherwise you probably won’t even notice it.

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The match 3 / RPG hybrid continues to thrive, and while the basic tenets of each game is the same developers are still trying hard to add features that make their entry rise above the crowd.  Spellfall does an admirable job with that.  Quick, intense combat along with a constantly rotating inventory keep you on your toes while the deep runes system lets you customize your character to your style of play.  The whole thing is wrapped up in a slick graphical bow and topped with a wonderful incentive to keep you coming back: play for 20 days to get a special prize.  I’m working hard to see what mine is!

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App Summary
Title: Spellfall – Puzzle RPG Developer: Backflip Studios
Reviewed Ver: 1.2.0 Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: Free App Size: 78.9 MB
  • Easy to pick up and play
  • Deep, diverse rune system
  • Excellent visuals
  • Nice sound effects
  • Doesn’t hammer you about IAP
  • Runes have to be active to be charged
  • Often one fight forces you to wait or dump a bunch of money into recovering health

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Munin in Review – Puzzling Pleasure with a Twist http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/14/munin-in-review-puzzling-pleasure-with-a-twist/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/14/munin-in-review-puzzling-pleasure-with-a-twist/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 09:21:48 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74006 There seems to be this intense push for “console quality gaming” on mobile devices, but if I wanted that I’d just buy a console.  What I like about Munin is it takes advantage of the hardware to be the best mobile game it can be without trying to be anything else.  It can get frustrating … Read more]]>

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There seems to be this intense push for “console quality gaming” on mobile devices, but if I wanted that I’d just buy a console.  What I like about Munin is it takes advantage of the hardware to be the best mobile game it can be without trying to be anything else.  It can get frustrating at times, but you’ll always feel like you’ve accomplished something when you’ve completed a level, and you won’t feel like you’ve missed anything should you not get back to the game right away after quitting to enjoy real life for a while.  If you’re a fan of puzzle games, Munin should be at the top of your list to try.

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I’m not really sure how important a story is in puzzle games, but in case you’re interested you play a servant of Odin who was once a magnificent crow.  Thanks to Loki you’ve been transformed into a human, and you must travel the realms to gather up all your feathers and return to your avian state.  If nothing else it gives you a reason for what you’re doing.  Naturally your task won’t be easy as the locations you visit have been well designed to keep you from the plumage you seek.  Fortunately you have the ability to rotate sections of the scene 90 degrees at a time, theoretically making the job of retrieving your feathers a bit easier.

Yes, this is a platform game with a quite literal twist.  It’s been done before in various ways, but this is by far one of the most intriguing.  The intro level set just gets you used to the rotating room mechanic (you can also move your character around and jump via on screen buttons just like a typical platform game).  Once you’ve completed the first leg of your journey you’ll get to pick between three different level sets, which is itself a nice feature.  Each level set introduces a new mechanic: filling areas with water so you can swim to and reach higher areas, rolling boulders to fill gaps and break walls while making sure you don’t crush yourself in the process, and animating various platforms by manipulating souls that are trapped within the walls of the levels.  I look forward to seeing what other novelties await as I unlock the rest of the level sets, as well as potentially seeing already established mechanics combined.

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As mentioned previously, there are arrows for moving your character left, right, up and down, as well as a button to make her jump.  They work well for the most part, but trying to accomplish an angled jump (up / left or up / right at the same time) can be rather difficult.  To rotate a section you simply tap anywhere within that section, as long as your character isn’t standing in that section when you try to rotate it.  Occasionally I end up accidentally rotating a section when I’m trying to hit a movement control, but as long as you pay attention that can be avoided.  The game has no Game Center integration or 3 star rankings or anything like that, so you need to be able to handle simply beating a level as its own reward.

Sadly, the graphics are the weakest part of the game.  They aren’t bad, with plenty of details and some nice particle effects when it comes to the water.  The main character looks pretty stiff where animation is concerned, however, and she is very tiny.  Also, a lot of the background elements tend to lean on the dark side, which sometimes makes it difficult to determine where passages, walls or other important items are.  On the other hand, the audio elements are top notch.  The sound effects and ambient noise are very well done, and the different musical tracks provide a wonderful boost to the overall ambiance of the game.  There are definitely some movie soundtrack quality pieces to be found here.

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Munin is a great concept wrapped up in a stellar execution.  The puzzles are challenging but as long as you preserve you should be able to conquer most of them before pulling any hair out.  The atmosphere of the game is great as well, despite less than wowing visuals.  This game definitely belongs in any puzzle lover’s iPad collection.

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App Summary
Title: Munin Developer: Daedalic Entertainment GmbH
Reviewed Ver: 1.2 Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $2.99 App Size: 262 MB
  • Great mechanics
  • Challenging puzzles
  • Sticks to a single screen
  • Wonderful music and sound effects
  • Controls can be slightly finicky
  • Visuals sometimes hamper game play

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