TouchMyApps » Simulation 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 Sun, 27 Jul 2014 22:29:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.3 Disco Zoo in Review – Zoo Management To A Funky Beat http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/04/04/disco-zoo-in-review-zoo-management-to-a-funky-beat/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/04/04/disco-zoo-in-review-zoo-management-to-a-funky-beat/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:38:50 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73721 There have been a decent number of zoo simulation games on the App Store, but they usually feel like a city builder with animals.  Disco Zoo offers a completely different experience as your focus is on acquiring the animals and you don’t have to worry about building extraneous structures or training critters to do anything.  … Read more]]>

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There have been a decent number of zoo simulation games on the App Store, but they usually feel like a city builder with animals.  Disco Zoo offers a completely different experience as your focus is on acquiring the animals and you don’t have to worry about building extraneous structures or training critters to do anything.  It’s a freemium game, and I could see how one could easily get caught up in it and sink a bunch of money into buying coins or disco bux, but so far I’ve managed to put quite a bit of time into it without emptying my wallet.  This well balanced game play is actually making me want to give them some of my cash.

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You are the curator of a zoo and it’s your job to build up from the ground up by bringing animals to it.  There are seven different areas to collect animals from including a Jurassic zone, but only the Farm is available at the beginning.  The other areas can be unlocked by spending disco bux or acquiring a certain number of animals and spending coins.  Coins also allow you to go on rescues and are earned simply by owning animals and from generous zoo patrons.  You have to be sure your animals stay awake, though, because sleeping creatures don’t earn any money.  Disco Bux are sometimes awarded for doing things around the zoo, but if you want to earn these in any great number you’ll have to spend some real money.

Collecting animals takes place on a 5 x 5 grid and is sort of like playing Battleship.  You get 10 attempts which consist of picking a tile to see what’s underneath it.  If you uncover all the tiles for a particular animal you get to keep that animal.  As it happens each animal has the same pattern every time, so as you start getting used to them it makes it easier to uncover the animals based on logic rather than guessing – assuming you find a starting point, of course.  Some tiles will contain nothing, but in addition to the animals you might find coins or on rare occasions Disco Bux.  If you use all your attempts and still have animals left to find you can expend Disco Bux to continue the search, but I wouldn’t advise that unless you have mythical or rare animals to search for.

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In the zoo itself you can collect coins that visitors toss out and you can also search for escaped animals in other pens.  If too many animals fall asleep at the same time you can start a disco party to wake everyone up and get the whole place hopping instead of just the rabbits.  The main reward system is watching the critics give each of your sections a higher rating as you accumulate more animals.  There are only two leaderboards in Game Center, neither of which are all that exciting, and no achievements to earn.  However, that by no means detracts from the addictive quality of the game, which I have to confess I’m having trouble pinpointing.  All I know is that right now I’m hooked.

The graphics are cute, with a highly pixilated look that still manages to convey some cool details.  On the zoo screens you get to watch the animals walk around their habitats and see the patrons make a variety of different comments.  The sound effects are kind of Sims-ish but serve their purpose, while the music is well done and diverse – so far each group of animals has had its own theme during the rescue operations.

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Sometimes a genre or sub-genre just needs a developer to think outside the box to make it interesting, and for zoo simulators that was Nimble Bit.  From actually collecting the animals to simply watching them play around in the zoo, this game is a lot more appealing than its peers.  I even broke down and bought 10 Disco Bux via IAP, even though I know I’ll go through them a lot more quickly than I’d like.  It’s definitely worth it for the entertainment I’ve received from Disco Zoo so far.

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App Summary
Title: Disco Zoo Developer: NimbleBit LLC
Reviewed Ver: 1.1.1 Min OS Req: 6.0
Price: Free App Size: 57.3 MB
  • Unique method for capturing animals
  • Don’t feel pressured to buy IAP
  • Cool pixel visuals
  • Good music
  • Disco Bux are scarce
  • Strangely addictive

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Dimensions. Adventures in the Multiverse in Review – Ambient noise app meets foursquare and Farmville http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/01/18/dimensions-adventures-in-the-multiverse-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/01/18/dimensions-adventures-in-the-multiverse-in-review/#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2012 12:43:33 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=64716 As we all know – life can be stressful. And one way to make it a little bit more bearable is using an ambient sounds app to block out the annoying noises of everyday fuss. Whether in the office or outside they allow to, at least temporarily, shift your mind to someplace peaceful. Not content … Read more]]>

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As we all know – life can be stressful. And one way to make it a little bit more bearable is using an ambient sounds app to block out the annoying noises of everyday fuss. Whether in the office or outside they allow to, at least temporarily, shift your mind to someplace peaceful. Not content with only providing a listening experience, the developers behind Inception – The App released Dimensions. Adventures in the Multiverse, a unique app that adds some original gameplay elements to make it even more part of your routine.

It’s hard to classify Dimensions, proving once again the iOS is the perfect platform for innovation. Think of it as a hearing aid for other dimensions. But all of this is wrapped around a platform that Farmville itself would not be shy of.

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First and foremost Dimensions is an ambient/meditation sound producing app. However, unlike other similar releases, it does not have a pre-defined set of tracks for you to enjoy. Instead it utilizes the iPhone’s microphone and transforms surrounding noise to create a unique experience in realtime. The result is influenced not only by the source noise but the dimension within the app you are currently occupying.

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These dimensions are unlocked by performing specific actions – i.e. Tranquility, featuring music that’s more relaxing, is unlocked by being in a quiet place, while the more energetic Kinetic requires the iPhone to be in motion. Some dimensions even allow you to communicate with other players by creating a virtual space where you can send short voice messages. Once a dimension is unlocked you can visit it anytime without the hassle of matching the predefined conditions. Not all dimensions are available right from the start, thus requiring you to first open up a set in order to reach a new level.

But this is only the start. To make the experience more interesting (and to stimulate people spending more cash of course) the devs added a freemium minigame component. Every so often while listening to the mysterious sounds Dimensions produces, the game will say that something strange is going on. If you check the game at this point and hold the hotspot in the center you will get a map of your surroundings (powered by Google Maps of course), bathed in an eerie light with strange items scattered across the landscape. They might include Quantum (the game’s currency), artifacts and/or Nephilim.

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Quantum can be gathered by simply catching it in your beam of light while Artifacts will require a tractor beam to reel them in (which incidentally takes Quantum as fuel ). The Nephilim are the bad guys and you’ll have to use the same beam to repel them, otherwise they’ll steal the artifacts you found. To unlock the next level of dimensions you need to gather all artifacts in the already open ones. The artifacts can also be bought using Quantum. You guessed where this is leading to, right? Yep, in addition to be found in-game Quantum can also be bought using real-live cash.

The visuals in Dimensions are minimalistic but stylish. I especially liked the eerie way the map looked in the artifact-hunting minigame. I couldn’t help but think, however, the devs missed an opportunity to further integrate Augmented Reality elements using the iPhone’s camera. Hunting for quantum, artifacts and beating the Nephilim would’ve been ever so much fun if it was overlaid on top of a live feed put through some additional filters to make the video look more like from another dimension.

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Of course it would’ve been great to have the iPhone be a window to another dimension, fully embracing the augmented reality capabilities of the platform. But even limited to audio only, Dimensions provides a unique experience heralding the next step in ambient sound apps. The added game elements unfortunately suffer from a somewhat unbalanced freemium model pushing quite a bit to use real cash if you want to have access to all “tracks” in a reasonable timeframe. At $0.99 though it’s definitely worth a try, especially if you want a taste of what the future holds.

With this I declare Dimensions. Adventures in the Multiverse officially touched!

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Dimensions. Adventures in the Multiverse Developer: Reality Jockey Ltd.
Reviewed Ver: 1.5 Min OS Req: 4.2
Price: $0.99 App Size: 140.49MB
  • Experience unique to here and now
  • Original way of unlocking individual dimensions
  • Addictive minigame
  • A bit overused freemium element
  • Frustrating to unlock higher levels of dimensions
  • No augmented video

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SpellCraft School Of Magic in Review – Hogwarts has some competition http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/12/30/spellcraft-school-of-magic-in-review-hogwarts-has-some-competition/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/12/30/spellcraft-school-of-magic-in-review-hogwarts-has-some-competition/#comments Sat, 31 Dec 2011 04:54:57 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=63455 I’ve never been a fan of the freemium model employed by so many games on the App Store these days, but ever since I’ve had my iPad I’ve been hooked on two of them.  The first is Mystery Manor , which I reviewed just before Christmas, and the other is Appy Entertainment’s latest release, SpellCraft School of … Read more]]>

I’ve never been a fan of the freemium model employed by so many games on the App Store these days, but ever since I’ve had my iPad I’ve been hooked on two of them.  The first is Mystery Manor , which I reviewed just before Christmas, and the other is Appy Entertainment’s latest release, SpellCraft School of Magic.  Like everything else in their portfolio it’s different from anything else they’ve done, and it’s also not quite like any other dungeon crawler I’ve played.  In addition to the combat you actually have to grow your own ingredients to cook your own spells, and you can even get a pet to care for that will help protect you in exchange.  This may be a dungeon crawler “lite” in some regards, but it offers enough to keep me coming back for more on a daily basis.

I don’t know that there is any real plot to the game other than you are an apprentice at a school of magic ala Hogworts, and you need to train to become a full fledged wizard.  You’ll do this by exploring level after level of a dungeon where you’ll battle monsters, collect loot and maybe even scrounge up a pet or two.  Every successful combat earns you experience, money and fame.  The experience lets you level up so that you get more health, your spells are stronger, and you gain access to new spells and magical items.  Money helps you buy these items, though some require gems instead.  Besides buying gems via IAP I’m not sure where you get them from, but since the number I have is one less than my current level I’d say you get one for each level.  I’m also not really sure what fame does.

As you might have surmised from the name, the only method of combat in Spellcraft is spells.  During combat you’ll select a spell that you want to use, and when it’s your turn to attack a magic pulse will start travelling up and down your wand.  You tap on the pulse to stop it, and then hold to let it power up.  The closer to the tip of the wand the pulse is, the better the cast will be.  You also have to gauge the powering up appropriately, because if you don’t wait long enough or let it go too long the spell will be weaker.  When you’re ready, let go of the wand and the magic will be released.  If you wait too long the spell will launch automatically and be really weak.  The timing to catch the pulse in the first place is the hardest, and sometimes it gets frustrating as you miss 5 or ten times before actually getting it.

You can buy spells in the store using money and gems you’ve earned, but it’s much more cost effective to buy the ingredients and make them yourself.  You’ll have to plant the ingredients in the greenhouse and then harvest them by tapping on them when they are ready.  If you allow the game to use notifications it will tell you when plants are ready, even if you aren’t playing.  Do keep in mind that plants “grow” even while you’re not playing, and they can die if you leave the game for an extended amount of time without at least checking in on the garden.  Once you have the necessary ingredients you can go to the spell library and add them to the cauldron.  You then have to stir the ingredients by swirling your finger in a particular direction over the cauldron for a certain number of seconds.  How well you do this determines how many of the spell you’re making you actually get.

The visuals are stunning.  The characters look like they were ripped from a high quality cartoon, and there are nice special effects all over the place.  Even though it’s really nothing more than a gimmick, I love how the spells and monsters appear on cards as well.  The sound effects are equally impressive.  The nice thing about the creature noises is that not only do different creatures sound different, but the noises they make aren’t always the bland fantasy creature noises you might expect.  The music is decent, but it’s either very subtle or non-existent through most of the combat, making that portion of the game a bit too quiet.

Folks looking for an intense dungeon crawler or a full fledged RPG won’t care much for Spellcraft.  If you’re like me, however, and love the concept behind RPGs but just don’t have the time for one in your life right now, Spellcraft would be a great choice for you.  There’s enough combat and leveling up to feel like a dungeon crawler, but the lack of plot and ease of shifting between parts of the game mean you don’t have to spend lots of time with it each day to enjoy it.  The best part is that it’s free, though you can buy gems or the ability to block ads via IAP.  Overall, this is one school that’s actually fun to be a part of.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: SpellCraft School of Magic Developer: Appy Entertainment, Inc.
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: Free App Size:
  • Easy to play
  • Interesting combat technique
  • Spell making is fun
  • Outstanding visuals
  • Great sound effects
  • Magic pulse on wand sometimes hard to trap
  • Ads can get annoying
  • Forgotten plants can die while you go about real life

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Touchgrind BMX coming Spring 2011 http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/03/16/touchgrind-bmx-coming-spring-2011/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/03/16/touchgrind-bmx-coming-spring-2011/#comments Wed, 16 Mar 2011 14:38:11 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=49834 Remember Touchgrind, the excellent skateboard simulator? My fingers still dance awkward steps across my iPod when I’m looking up hard dictionary words like ‘cluster’ and ‘shill’ ’cause Touchgrind rocked them to the memory core. It made this crappy sk8tR into something special, and kept my hands busy in the best ways possible. Well, come this … Read more]]>

Remember Touchgrind, the excellent skateboard simulator? My fingers still dance awkward steps across my iPod when I’m looking up hard dictionary words like ‘cluster’ and ‘shill’ ’cause Touchgrind rocked them to the memory core. It made this crappy sk8tR into something special, and kept my hands busy in the best ways possible. Well, come this Spring, Illusian Labs will release its sequel, Touchgrind BMX. The same sort of free style physics will get things going on pipes and over rails from the relative safety of your iDevice. That means no more pinchin’ the biscuit. For now, enjoy the above video. We’ll have more as it comes.

Wanna get prepped for Touchgrind BMX on one of the iDevice’s first truly innovative titles? Check out Touchgrind now!

Touchgrind Illusion Labs, Touchgrind (TMA Review), 6.87MB – $4.99

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Carnivores: Ice Age in review – Not Your Modern Stone Age Family http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/02/17/carnivores-ice-age-in-review-not-your-modern-stone-age-family/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/02/17/carnivores-ice-age-in-review-not-your-modern-stone-age-family/#comments Thu, 17 Feb 2011 12:11:42 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=48298 Deer hunting simulators have always seemed kind of silly to me.  I can’t believe real hunters would find any exhilaration in simulated game, and people who don’t normally hunt won’t get anything near the real experience on a computer.  That’s why I think Tatem Games is on the right track with their Carnivores series, since … Read more]]>

Deer hunting simulators have always seemed kind of silly to me.  I can’t believe real hunters would find any exhilaration in simulated game, and people who don’t normally hunt won’t get anything near the real experience on a computer.  That’s why I think Tatem Games is on the right track with their Carnivores series, since it’s not like I’m going to be able to step out my door any time soon and hunt real life dinosaurs.  The game has held my attention much better than any deer hunting affair to date, but the extreme difficulty winds up frustrating me more often than not.

Long before power rifles and forest preserves, creatures much more fierce than deer roamed the earth.  In this second installment of the Carnivores series you get to travel back to the Ice Age to try and hunt down some of these creatures.  You’ll get to choose a location (more will open up as you can afford them and as you conquer the lesser ones), select one or more types of dinosaurs to hunt, and pick the artillery you wish to pursue them with.  Of course everything cost points, so you better hope you have your groove on so you can bag some game and earn points to unlock more things to play with.  It’s important to keep in mind that you can kill anything that moves – especially if it tries to attack you – but you’ll only earn points for the types of creatures you paid to hunt.

You view the world from a first person point of view, with a virtual joystick to move your hunter and the ability to swipe the screen to adjust your view.  Based on my current configuration there is a mini-map accessible by tapping the upper left corner of the screen, and a button to execute dinosaur calls in the upper right.  Bellow the call button is a draw weapon button, and bellow the map are my binoculars in passive mode and my fire button in attack mode.  Eventually you’ll be able to afford weapons with sniper capabilities, but to start off with most combat is up close and personal.

What I like about this game versus most hunting games I’ve tried is that instead of just perching somewhere waiting for something to wander past, here you’re thrust into the midst of a living world.  Creatures wander around and eat the foliage while birds fly around in the sky.  And of course your prey is active as well.  The down side to this is that sometimes it takes just as long to find them as if you were just waiting somewhere for them.  It also means you can be attacked by things other than what you’re hunting.  Therein lies my problem – I think in all the games I’ve played I’ve only managed to bag an official target once.  Carnivores really needs a difficulty setting for those like me who don’t play such games on a regular basis.

Ice Age looks good.  The landscape is beautifully rendered and the dinosaurs are well modeled. In the one island of experienced so far there is a decent snow effect, and I would assume similar weather effects accompany the other locales.  If anything, I’d say the one disappointment would be the hunter, but the only time you see him is when a dinosaur has mauled him, so that’s not real critical anyway.  The sound effects are decent enough.  I’ve never seen a dinosaur close up, so I’ll just have to take the sound manager’s word that the noises there are authentic.  I do like the ambient noise of the population on the island, as it makes the place feel alive.  There is no music, but in a game like this I could see it actually taking away from the ambiance.

I really like this game.  It looks good, it sounds good, and it actually does a good job of capturing the anticipation of a real hunt.  I’m just having issues getting over the difficulty.  I don’t expect to conquer the first island on my initial walkthrough, but out of every single play through so far, I’ve only managed to kill two creatures, and I never actually earned any points since I subsequently died.  That’s a little too rough for my tastes.  Still, hunting game fanatics can expect a different experience from Carnivores: Ice Age, and those that find normal deer hunting simulations dull should enjoy this more as well.

App Summary
Title: Carnivores: Ice Age Developer: Tatem Games
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $0.99 App Size: Size: 59.9 MB
  • Keeps your interest
  • Plenty to hunt
  • Looks good
  • Very difficult

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Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner in Review – It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/24/star-wars-arcade-falcon-gunner-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/24/star-wars-arcade-falcon-gunner-in-review/#comments Mon, 24 Jan 2011 17:38:25 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=46828 One of the more underpopulated genres in the App Store is still the augmented reality variety. Despite having been introduced shortly after release of the iPhone 3GS (almost a year and a half ago) it still features barely a handful of noteworthy titles. Nevertheless, slowly but surely it’s starting to pick up steam. In September, we … Read more]]>

One of the more underpopulated genres in the App Store is still the augmented reality variety. Despite having been introduced shortly after release of the iPhone 3GS (almost a year and a half ago) it still features barely a handful of noteworthy titles. Nevertheless, slowly but surely it’s starting to pick up steam. In September, we saw an original proof of concept action-shooter title ARDefender (TMA Review). And just recently THQ released their own view on the concept with Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner.

In its core, Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner is more or less a standard shooting gallery title based upon the classic arcade machine. It puts you in charge of the Millenium Falcon’s guns as you play out some of the events of the original trilogy, including the legendary Kessel run. Fans of the movies are sure to enjoy quite a few cutscenes directly from the movies as well, adding to the atmosphere of the franchise.

If you’ve ever gone to the arcade you’ll recognize immediately what Falcon Gunner is. Remember those cabinets with guns positioned right in front? Well, it’s basically the same thing, but on your iDevice. The idea is simple: you have to destroy all incoming Imperial ships and any other junk obstructing your way (i.e. asteroids) before they destroy you. You do so by controlling the Millennium Falcon’s quad-laser turret. Currently the game offers you 3 stages with a little over 20 levels total with usually 3 waves of enemies in each.

To make playing Falcon Gunner a bit more rewarding and interesting, you are scored after the completion of each stage and awarded some credits that you can spend on upgrading the turret. Along with the basic stuff, like boosting the shield or enhancing the speed and power of your laser, you can buy some additional weapons to choose from, namely, the concussion missile (fire-and-forget missile) and tractor beam (catch the enemy fighters and hurl them at their own brethren). And if you’re very impatient you can buy the upgrades for hard cash – $0.99 for each. Finally, Falcon Gunner has GameCenter integration to allow you to challenge you friends’ high scores.

A unique option in Falcon Gunner is to turn on AR mode. This way, instead of having the blackness of space (and an occasional Death Star) as the background for your last stand, you’ll have the real world. While it does pose some challenges with enemies being harder to pin-point against a brighter background, it offers an unusual look at the genre and the Star Wars universe as a whole.

Graphically Falcon Gunner looks quite nice, with all our favourite loathed imperial fighters in full glory of the Retina display and cracks spreading across the Millenium Falcon’s turret HUD as you undergo attacks from the TIE fleet. Music features the classic Star Wars soundtrack with Han’s sly comments to keep you focused on your task. The controls offer the accelerometer or the gyroscope to choose from, with the latter available in AR mode and the former in the native game view. This is a bit odd since personally I would prefer to set my control scheme regardless of the game mode I’m playing.

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, you must check out Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner. To this moment it’s arguably one of the most atmospheric SW games ever, especially if played with the headphones and AR mode off (not to mention a 360° swivel chair). At the same time, the AR portion offers quite a unique gaming experience as well, allowing you to imagine what it would be like if the Empire tried to invade your own backyard. Regardless of your stance on the Star Wars franchise, Falcon gunner is an excellent shooting gallery-type game and a definite recommendation for any fans of the genre.

With this I declare Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner Developer: THQ Wireless Inc.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 4.1
Price: $2.99 App Size: 127.93MB
  • Original cutscenes, soundtrack and voiceovers
  • Fight the TIE fleet in your own backyard
  • Upgrade the legendary Millennium Falcon
  • No option to lock the control scheme to gyroscope or accelerometer

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Galaxy on Fire 2 in Review – This galaxy ain’t big enough for the both of us! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/11/08/galaxy-on-fire-2-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/11/08/galaxy-on-fire-2-in-review/#comments Mon, 08 Nov 2010 16:16:21 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=42321 Quality space-sims are far and few between even on the PC, especially if we’re talking about the open-world variety. There is the classic Elite, Origin’s Privateer series and the fantastic X-series. That’s about it. Of course one might say it’s a bit of a niche genre, but I say – to hell with that, it’s … Read more]]>

Quality space-sims are far and few between even on the PC, especially if we’re talking about the open-world variety. There is the classic Elite, Origin’s Privateer series and the fantastic X-series. That’s about it. Of course one might say it’s a bit of a niche genre, but I say – to hell with that, it’s just so much fun! So after spending a considerable amount of time with FISHLABS’ sequel Galaxy on Fire 2, I can attest that we finally have a worthy entry in the genre on the iDevice.

Galaxy on Fire 2 is a classic open-world 3D space sim, one of the few that’s ever hit the iDevice. Thanks to a malfunction in the warp drive our alter-ego of the previous installment is sent through space and time into the near future. And on a crippled ship no less! Now having lost everything and piloting literally a heap of garbage, he manages to reach his home system only to find it ravaged by the mysterious alien ships, appearing out of nowhere and wreaking havoc on the the general popualtion.

Playing Galaxy on Fire 2 reminded me a lot of the very first game in the X series, both in terms of gameplay and story. The whole galaxy is split into sectors with a number of stations in each. You can move around freely within a sector (with instant autopiloting between station areas) or use a jumpgate near one of the stations to warp to a neighbouring sector. And after you get the Khador drive you can hop across the universe in large swoops, though at the cost of energy cells. Most of the game you’ll find yourself gazing across the top of your vessel at the universe beyond, mercilessly destroying foes and exploring new horizons. Space IS the final frontier, you know…

The most welcome surprise for me was the wide array of ways to occupy yourself. You can stick to the story and conscientiously save the universe, go on a tangent and execute random missions, spend your time industriously mining the asteroid fields, trade goods across stations or even go and become a pirate to hunt such traders yourself. The hub of activity on any station is the Space Lounge where you can take up a mission (though only one at a time), buy some goods (and sometimes get ripped off) or if you’re really lucky – obtain a blueprint for a state of the art piece of equipment or a set of coordinates for a previously unknown system.

Another delightful surprise was the superb amount of customization opportunities. You’re not stuck with the same old bucket of bolts for the whole game, instead you can buy new ships with stats that best suit your game style on various stations. You can also outfit it to your liking with weapons, missiles and equipment with some original pieces, like a cloaking field (also eats up Energy Cells) or a repair bot. And if nothing suits your fancy you can also make some powerful devices using a blueprint and by supplying a station with the required resources.

Galaxy on Fire 2′s open-world environment really excels as it sparkles with distant stars and nebulas, casting beautiful shadows on the stations and ships around you. Taking full advantage of the Retina display, you’ll find it easy to get shot down by enemy ships simply because you were too busy gazing at stars and planets around you. To help you avoid this unfortunate event, the developers have included an Action Freeze function, one that puts the world on hold and allows you to rotate the camera as you please and create beautiful screenshots.

Of course Galaxy on Fire 2 isn’t quite perfect, with the biggest issue being the controls and interface. The latter works well in most cases though some simple things are missing, like an aiming aid (it’s almost impossible to see where and how fast the enemy is flying, so most of hitting will be done head-on and up close and personal) or the option to plot a course right in space, rather than at a station. Speaking of the controls, Galaxy on Fire 2 offers 2 schemes – an accelerometer and a virtual joystick. You can forget about using the accelerometer one right off the bat; they’re too imprecise and simply impossible to use. Why the devs didn’t include support for the iPhone 4’s gyroscope remains a mystery to me. The virtual joystick is the only method left and is workable after you get used to it. The real complaint is that it’s simply far too small and the slightest shift of your thumb can send you spinning off in the wrong direction.

Despite these issues, Galaxy on Fire 2 is still one of the most fun and addictive games I played in a long time and one of the few that I found myself thinking about even without the iPhone in hand. The deep and involving gameplay goes far beyond following the simplistic storyline, giving the gorgeously rendered and massive galaxy to you on a platter. If there is even a tiny bit of a space explorer in you, Galaxy on Fire 2 is definitely a must-have game that will suck you in for a good 20 hours or so.

With this I declare Galaxy on Fire 2™ officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Galaxy on Fire 2™ Developer: FISHLABS
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.1 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $6.99 App Size: 108.32MB
  • Detailed colourful high-quality graphics with full Retina support
  • A true open world for you to explore
  • Many ways of occupying yourself
  • Lots of customization options
  • Difficult to master controls
  • Absence of some intuitive interface features, like tap to lock or aiming aid

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In search of other Space themed games on the iDevice? Take a look at these TMA reviews:

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Zombigotchi in Review – Love ‘em or abuse ‘em, it’s still a zombie http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/10/31/zombigotchi-in-review-love-em-or-abuse-em-its-still-a-zombie/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/10/31/zombigotchi-in-review-love-em-or-abuse-em-its-still-a-zombie/#comments Sun, 31 Oct 2010 15:28:48 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=41848 The appeal of the Tamagotchi has always been a mystery to me.  People have a hard enough time taking care of physical pets, so why would you want to be bothered with such things in the digital world, aside from the fact that they can’t really die?  Thanks to Zombigotchi, however, I’ve developed a slight … Read more]]>

The appeal of the Tamagotchi has always been a mystery to me.  People have a hard enough time taking care of physical pets, so why would you want to be bothered with such things in the digital world, aside from the fact that they can’t really die?  Thanks to Zombigotchi, however, I’ve developed a slight appreciation for the whole concept.  Granted it’s a lot harder to feel guilty about torturing a zombie than a little puppy, but I’m sure the principle is the same.  I still rather be playing a game, but I can easily see this being a nice diversion while waiting in line at the supermarket or something.

In Zombigotchi you get to raise your very own pet zombie.  You can either love him and feed him and call him your very own – or you can torture the brains out of him.  It’s your call.  The interface is quite simple to use.  Down the left side are three buttons corresponding to “pet”, “prod” and “feed”.  You can also select “pet” by tapping on the zombie.  This will do something nice like give him a human to play with or a microphone so he can let out his karaoke urges.

You can prod him by swiping the screen as well as hitting the button, and this will cause such action like a bat striking his head or a laser cutting him in half.  Naturally these things will tend to get him angry.  Finally you can feed him by pressing the button or double tapping the screen.  Usually he responds favorably to petting and food, but his overall mood can sometimes affect these reactions.  You can rotate the viewpoint by dragging left and right at the bottom of the screen, and you can zoom in and out by pinching.  The controls work pretty well, though sometimes trying to rotate the view gets mistaken for swiping and results in a misplaced prod.

From time to time a full screen picture of your zombie will pop up, and the first time a particular one shows it gets added to your collector cards.  Additionally, these cards give you clues as to the zombie’s overall mood as well as letting you know when certain aspects of the game have been unlocked.  Over time you’ll earn different skins for your zombie, and you’ll also unlock two games: Giblets (match 3) and Ragdoll (senselessly tossing the zombie around).  For a simplified match 3 game Giblets was pretty fun, but I found Ragdoll rather uninteresting.

The visuals in Zombigotchi are a treat.  I love watching the little guy take his brain out and play Hacky Sack with it.  The various skins for the zombie are also pretty neat.  I will say that I’m surprised at some of the animations Apple allowed, but I guess it is okay since this is a zombie.  The collector’s cards are a nice touch as well, as some of faces captured in the pictures are really amusing.

The sound effects are really funny at times.  Listening to the zombie “growl” in a high pictured voice or coo when he is happy can’t help but make you smile at least, if not outright laugh.  And if you give Zombigotchi a try you owe it to yourself to check out the credits at least once.  You won’t be disappointed.  On the other hand, what is disappointing is the lack of any sort of background music.  There is music during the match 3 mini-game, but nothing during the whole “play with your zombie” process.

I’m not going to say that I now heartily recommend Tamagotchi style games.  In fact, I still think the overall premise is kind of dull.  However, Zombigotchi is definitely a stand out in the crowd when it comes to such “games”.  If you love zombie games like I do, I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t get a kick out of this.  Just don’t get it expecting to play with it for hours on end, or you will feel gypped by your purchase.

App Summary
Title: Zombigotchi Developer: finkbom
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $1.99 App Size: 25.84MB
  • Great graphics
  • Amusing animations
  • Funny sounds
  • Decent match 3 mini-game
  • Boring for long stretches
  • No music for main game
  • Positive reinforcements somewhat limited

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Heroes Of Kalevala in Review – Virtual Villagers meets match 3? http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/10/11/heroes-of-kalevala-in-review-virtual-villagers-meets-match-3/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/10/11/heroes-of-kalevala-in-review-virtual-villagers-meets-match-3/#comments Mon, 11 Oct 2010 16:28:53 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=40932 The App Store is littered with match 3 games, so one would think we’ve had enough of them by now.  The truth is that there’s always room for another match 3, as long as that game either plays exceptionally well or brings something new to the table.  Fortunately, Heroes of Kalevala does both, making it … Read more]]>

The App Store is littered with match 3 games, so one would think we’ve had enough of them by now.  The truth is that there’s always room for another match 3, as long as that game either plays exceptionally well or brings something new to the table.  Fortunately, Heroes of Kalevala does both, making it a refreshing addition to the genre – or is it a village simulator that just happens to use match 3 boards as its means for resource gathering?

The basic idea is that you must lead a ragtag group of villagers out to settle a new land as yours has been devastated.  You start with one village and villager, and must earn money to build up your village by playing a series of match 3 levels.  All your typical match 3 elements are there, including locked tiles, tiles with ice or stone on them, and tiles with locked bombs that can only be removed by other bombs.  You earn bombs by matching 4 or more items at the same time, and you also will unlock “heroes” from time to time as you earn money.  Heroes are Kalevala’s equivalent of power ups, and will unleash some kind of force that generally helps remove tiles from the board.

The money you earn goes towards expanding your village and starting new ones.  You can build structures that will increase your population, and you can add trees to make the people happy so you can earn money from them.  You can also make one villager in each village a farmer, which will allow you to grow that village even more.  You must earn enough money in a particular village to receive a bronze medal in order to unlock the next village, but you can move back and forth between unlocked villages at will.  The village building scenario isn’t overly deep, but it gives you motivation for playing the match 3 levels and it’s always neat to see your villages expand.

The main negative is that during the match 3 phase, the game often seems like it has a mind of its own.  There have been numerous times where I meant to slide a piece one way and it went the other instead.  Not a big deal unless the resulting errant move creates a match that I didn’t want.  I also think a couple of “nice haves” would be a mode without the city building (it’s there now, but you have to play through the story first), and an untimed mode for those who just want to relax and do some matching.  The later boards can get pretty intense with the timer, especially on levels that have tar tiles.

Razzle dazzle in the graphics department isn’t a strict requirement of mine for puzzle games, but Kalevala does a pretty good job anyway.  The village objects are fairly detailed, though there’s no much action aside from the people moving around.  The tiles on the match 3 boards, on the other hand, are nicely animated.  The hero effects look slick as well.  Cut scene graphics have a painting like quality to them, which is a nice change look for static images.

The sound effects are pretty decent as well.  I like the intermittent caw of the crow as a reminder that your time is dwindling away, as well as the cackle of the witch when another gem has been stolen.  The highlight of the audio, however, is the music.  The menu and the village screen each have a theme, and then each village has its own theme when playing the match 3 levels.  So far my favorite is the match 3 theme for the second village.  It sounds a bit odd at first, but there’s something about it that just really catches my fancy.

Match 3 purists might balk at Kalevala simply because of the city building aspects.  However, if you’re into genre mash-ups or are just looking for something different from your standard match 3 games, Heroes Of Kalevala is a great choice.

App Summary
Title: Heroes of Kalevala
Heroes of Kalevala HD
Developer: 10tons Ltd.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $2.99/$4.99 App Size: 66.3 MB
  • Interesting game play mix
  • Great visuals
  • Excellent music
  • Challenging match 3 levels
  • Tile sliding a bit sensitive
  • No way to skip story / city building

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Virtual City in Review – SimCity for the less ambitious… http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/09/20/virtual-city-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/09/20/virtual-city-in-review/#comments Mon, 20 Sep 2010 14:15:11 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=39661 Whenever people speak about a city-simulation game the first one that comes to mind is, of course the SimCity franchise: SimCity™ Deluxe (ChiffaN’s SimCity™ Deluxe review, shigzeo’s SimCity™ review). And stunned by EA’s glory, they often forget that the SimCity franchise, while the best known, is far from being the only city-building simulation out there. G5 Entertainment, … Read more]]>

Whenever people speak about a city-simulation game the first one that comes to mind is, of course the SimCity franchise: SimCity™ Deluxe (ChiffaN’s SimCity™ Deluxe review, shigzeo’s SimCity™ review). And stunned by EA’s glory, they often forget that the SimCity franchise, while the best known, is far from being the only city-building simulation out there.

G5 Entertainment, one of the larger mobile games publishers, have just released their own contender to the city-building throne – Virtual City – a smaller scale version of the same concept.

Virtual City is a city-management sim game, which is actually closer to the Transport Tycoon series than to the SimCity series. You are put in charge of running a city and have to reach the goals set in a limited amount of time (at least if you wish for a hefty bonus). The goals freely range from reaching a set amount of population/environment rating/happiness to building a particular supply chain or delivering a specific amount of products.

There are two main activities in Virtual City: construction and transport management. In the former you’ll be trying to find some free space to place your buildings in and then finding the cash to upgrade them. The buildings come in 4 main categories – the production facilities, housing, environmental/happiness related and miscellaneous, including trash collectors, recycling plants, bus and tech stations. The production facilities manufacture goods, sometimes needing specific other goods to be delivered to them. The environment facilities combine the fire and hospital services, some structures to raise the environment rating and some for entertainment purposes. Almost all facilities can be upgraded to raise the production capacity as well as the environment bonus, though most have to be unlocked first in the R&D lab for investment points earned for completing missions.

Transport management is where a large portion of the action takes place in Virtual City. Delivering goods, collecting garbage and transporting citizens is how you’ll earn your cash. To do so you have a limited park of vehicles divided into trucks, garbage trucks and buses respectively. The limit is defined by the level of your garage, so if you run out of space it’s time to upgrade it. The trucks automatically change to handle the load they’re assigned and can be upgraded as well to handle more load. The world is not a perfect place and vehicles can break down and if they’re not in range of the nearby tech station you’ll have to manually fix them.

On the graphics part Virtual City is quite nicely drawn in lively sprites and can be zoomed in for more details to be enjoyed. The max zoom out rating I did find frustratingly low. The interface is well adapted to the iPhone and I haven’t experienced any issues using it. I did miss the upgrade all button for the vehicles on a number of occasions, requiring to go through the whole lot manually.

There is no use comparing Virtual City to the SimCity series – they are simply completely different games. Whereas the more famous counterpart is centered on high-level city management, Virtual City brings the player closer to the masses, requiring to handle individual bus and truck routes rather than considering city-wide policies. Whether this is good or bad depends more on taste than anything else. In all respects it combines colourful detailed graphics, addictive gameplay and 50 challenging levels across 5 settings into an aspiring small-town mayor’s dream.

With this I declare Virtual City officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Virtual City Developer: G5 Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 2.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 33.76MB
  • Lots of buildings to construct and upgrade
  • Nice graphics
  • Interesting scenarios
  • Max zoom factor is too low
  • A little too much micromanagement

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Zombie Wonderland in Review – Need some undead guts cleaned up? http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/08/31/zombie-wonderland-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/08/31/zombie-wonderland-in-review/#comments Tue, 31 Aug 2010 11:04:42 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=38648 So what would happen if one day John Gore of Minigore (TMA Review) fame woke up and decided to go zombie hunting? I’m pretty sure you’d end up with Zombie Wonderland. With the whole “protect the building” scenario ripped right from the Evil Dead movies, and a main character whose witty comments could rival those of … Read more]]>

So what would happen if one day John Gore of Minigore (TMA Review) fame woke up and decided to go zombie hunting? I’m pretty sure you’d end up with Zombie Wonderland. With the whole “protect the building” scenario ripped right from the Evil Dead movies, and a main character whose witty comments could rival those of the master zombie slayer Ash himself, Zombie Wonderland is an amusing jaunt in the zombie killing genre that actually works quite well, despite not being a line drawing, dual stick wielding or 3D person perspective action game.

So what exactly is Zombie Wonderland then? It’s a “zombie disposal simulation” much like Zombie Recycling (TMA Review), but instead of directly controlling Chuck, you click on the zombies you wish to eliminate. You have four different locations to protect for five days apiece, and the end of each day is signified by the crowing of the zombie rooster. Initially this will be a fairly easy task, but as the location changes you’ll have more areas to guard, the zombies will come at you more quickly and frequently, and new kinds of zombies will be introduced to give you more grief. Oh, and zombie guts on the premises are not allowed, so if you shoot a zombie inside the “safe” zone you have to clean up the mess. There is a survival mode as well, which lets you play any of the locations you’ve beaten in story mode for as long as you can until you’ve been overrun by zombies. It’s sort of like Chuck’s last stand.

There are four types of zombies that will try and mess with you, the worst of which is the granny zombie. She’s cute but deadly, and it’s imperative that you’re not right next to her window when she screams. From time to time you’ll get upgrades to help you. Boards will keep unguarded windows blocked while you’re tending to zombies in other places, while the machine gun can take down zombies while you’re tied up somewhere else. Everything comes at a cost, however. For instance, boards actually have to be applied to the windows, and you can’t shoot at anything while you’re putting them up. The machine gun can be broken, and while you can fix it, you’ll once again be out of commission for a time.

Controlling Chuck mostly involves tapping. Tap a zombie to shoot it, tap the hammer icon repeatedly to put up boards, tap the machine gun to pick up and place it. The only non tap-oriented tasks are cleanup, which requires you to swipe up and down on a slider until the mess is taken care of, and rotating the view, which is done by dragging your finger around the premises. At first it seems like each of these extraneous things takes away from the game flow, but that’s really the whole point. How well can you manage zombie disposal and the rest of your tasks at the same time?

The graphics are pretty decent. The locations look cool, with nice little touches like a juke box in the diner or a water cooler in the garage. The characters look good and are well animated, though at certain angles the zombies look a bit disjointed (I suppose it’s the jaundice kicking in). I’m also not real fond of the flame effect for the flamies – I think it looks more cheesy than cool.

The sound effects are a nice compliment to the visuals. Here’s a developer that understands that zombies are supposed to groan, and I love it when grannie zombie screams. The comments that Chuck makes are amusing as well. The music also does a good job of setting a creepy and hectic mood. Overall the audio is quite well done.

My main suggestion would be to have a couple more locations in story mode. I’m not a big fan of the “play with no goals” survival modes, and there’s not a lot of replay on the story side once you’ve completed it. Still, Zombie Wonderland is a nice departure from the typical zombie slaying game, and it’s quite fun and hectic for as long as the story mode lasts.

App Summary
Title: Zombie Wonderland Developer: Chillingo Ltd
Reviewed Ver: 1.1 Min OS Req: 3.1.3
Price: $0.99 App Size: 43.9 MB
  • Cool game mechanics
  • Nice visuals
  • Fun music
  • Witty comments from Chuck
  • Only 4 locations

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Can’t get enough of Zombies on your iDevice? Take a look at these TMA approved Z-reviews:

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SimCity Deluxe in Review – A road here, a powerplant there and we have ourselves a city! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/08/04/simcit-deluxe-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/08/04/simcit-deluxe-in-review/#comments Wed, 04 Aug 2010 17:29:19 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=37055 I have to confess I missed the original SimCity when it came out back in 1989. Thankfully, I didn’t miss SimCity 2000 and remember spending ages on it, watching my bustling city grow and prosper. Well, it seems I will have many more sleepless nights with my iPhone now that Electronic Arts has released SimCity™ Deluxe … Read more]]>

I have to confess I missed the original SimCity when it came out back in 1989. Thankfully, I didn’t miss SimCity 2000 and remember spending ages on it, watching my bustling city grow and prosper. Well, it seems I will have many more sleepless nights with my iPhone now that Electronic Arts has released SimCity™ Deluxe on the App Store.

SimCity Deluxe (a follow up to EA’s SimCity on the iPhone) is a city simulation game from the series that started them all. Conceived by the genius of Will Wright, it is still the best and most comprehensive way to put yourself in the shoes of a mayor.

SimCity Deluxe offers 2 modes of gameplay (plus/minus the tutorial) – the free play on a random map and scenario mode. The latter sticks you with a pre-fabricated city, a goal and a limited amount of time to reach it. These goals often require quite a bit of civil engineering so it’s best to start with the free play. The game provides 3 basic building blocks for your construction activities called zones, which can be residential, commercial or industry and vary in density from low to medium to high. You have to lay these zones out as you see fit, connect them with roads, provide ample power and water and watch them grow.

If you want your city to grow beyond a certain threshold, you’ll have to plan for much more then the aforementioned infrastructures. Pretty soon, you’ll have to start dealing with more complex issues, like education, police and firefighting, medical coverage. And the ultimate challenges in the fight for prosperity will certainly be pollution and traffic. Just like in real life, eh? With such complexity it’s no wonder then that there’s a whole tutorial city that is a must for any player, be it newbie or veteran.

And even when you finally have your city up and running smoothly, don’t relax. The games will shower you with random disaster events, requiring quick use of your forces. Disasters range from the good old tornado and earthquake to such exotic ones as an alien attack. But not all random events are bad – you might be approached by the government and offered to place a military base on your premises, or possibly a High Security jail. These buildings may lower the value of the nearby commercial or residential zones, but  they do provide an additional steady income to help you better your city.

SimCity Deluxe boasts excellent graphics even on the older iPhone 3G, though the performance and stability leave a lot to be desired. On newer devices like the 3GS or iPhone 4 however, it will most likely not be an issue. The environment also varies depending on the season and the detail in animation is changed dynamically depending on the zoom setting. At max zoom you can even see your sims’ busily bustling street traffic. The interface works well, though I did feel the developers could’ve made it a bit less cluttered, maybe adding an additional button to trigger the building menu on the left.

One thing SimCity Deluxe is still lacking is any kind of multiplayer, be it even a We Rule-like ability to visit other people’s cities. And if they would add the SimCity 4 feature of establishing trade relations between players, that could add a whole new layer to the game.

If everything you dreamed of as a kid has always been to look out of your office window and a city of your own grow and prosper, SimCity Deluxe is a must have game. It’s amazingly full-featured, both in content and in graphics. There’s nothing like watching aliens decimate buildings you worked so hard on at full zoom-in. At the same time the game is a bit restrictive on hardware and if you’re on an iPhone 3G or similar prepare for random crashes and slowdowns. Casual gamers may also be a bit cautious because SimCity Deluxe is one of the more complex sim games out there and even with the tutorial, much will have to be discovered on your own. But anyone willing to put in the little bit of effort required to master the mechanics will quickly find themselves spending days and nights with their iDevice in hand and building the perfect city.

With this I declare SimCity™ Deluxe officially touched!

App Summary
Title: SimCity™ Deluxe Developer: Electronic Arts
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $6.99 App Size: 70.57MB
  • All the features of the full desktop game
  • Beautiful graphics with traffic and changing seasons
  • Scenarios for those seeking a challenge
  • Disasters to keep you on your toes
  • Instability and poor performance on the iPhone 3G and similar
  • No multiplayer in any way
  • No retina support for iPhone 4

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Take a look at some of our other game reviews in the simulation category:

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