TouchMyApps » Strategy 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 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 19:47:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.4 Scurvy Scallywags in Review – Much More Than Match 3 http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/07/02/scurvy-scallywags-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/07/02/scurvy-scallywags-in-review/#comments Tue, 02 Jul 2013 13:58:37 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=72801 This is one of those rare cases where I let my objective reviewer guard down and thought to myself “this game is going to be great.  After all, it came from the mind of Ron Gilbert, so how can it go wrong?”  I was basically setting myself up for mild enjoyment, because we all know … Read more]]>

This is one of those rare cases where I let my objective reviewer guard down and thought to myself “this game is going to be great.  After all, it came from the mind of Ron Gilbert, so how can it go wrong?”  I was basically setting myself up for mild enjoyment, because we all know over-hyping something diminishes its “wow” factor, or utter disappointment.  Thankfully Scurvy Scallywags not only failed to disappoint, but it actually exceeded my lofty expectations.  I’m not going to dig myself into a hole by saying this is the best game ever, but boy is there a lot to love here.

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The backdrop of the game is a Broadway musical, which would only be more brilliant if the other developer were named Sullivan.  You take on the role of captain of a pirate ship, and you must recover the 16 verses of the Ultimate Sea Shanty.  In order to complete your mission you’ll travel to a variety of islands to gather goods and fight vile creatures, all in the guise of a match 3 game.  The brilliance here is that your characters as well as all the bad guys and the items that you need to collect appear on the board, and you must match items and shift the board to get everything you need.  As you make matches the board shifts in the direction you swiped to make the match, so take your time and consider your moves so you don’t accidentally swipe yourself into a bad situation.

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To build up your power you must match 3 or more swords, and you can only defeat a monster if your power is greater than or equal to theirs.  If you get sucked into a battle where your power is inadequate you’ll lose a heart.  When all of your hearts are gone you can resurrect yourself by spending some gold, otherwise it’s game over – thankfully though this only means you lose your stats and island progress; all skills, gold and items collected remain intact.  Special items like treasure chests, presents and items to fulfill quests must be picked up by swiping your pirate on top of them.  To engage a creature you swipe to switch places with them.  When combat is complete (assuming you had enough power) they will leave a treasure chest and you will earn experience that helps you level up.  With each new level you can increase one stat and you unlock new skills that you can purchase and use.

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Selecting the right skills is essential to doing well later in the game.  You can only have 5 “active” skills selected at a time, but I’m pretty sure you can swap them out whenever you’re on the main map.  An active skill requires you to tap it in order to use it, at which point it has a cool down of a certain number of matches before you can use it again.  Treasure chests earn you up to three random gifts, which may include parts required to build ships.  Each ship gives you some sort of benefit during game play.  I’m sure there are a few things I’ve left out, but there is so much fun stuff here you won’t mind discovering it all on your own.  The game does support Game Center for achievements, though honestly this is one of those games where you really don’t need it.

The graphics are fun.  The pirates look cool and you can get a bunch of different outfits that you can mix and match for your character.  There are several different tile sets depending on what you are exploring so it should never get boring.  The sound effects are right on, and I like the fact that the different objects you match actually have distinct noises.  The music is great.  It’s one part Broadway and one part pirate with just a dash of Scooby Doo thrown in to spice things up.  This is definitely one of the better audio / visual presentations for a match 3 game.

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If you like match 3 games, you will definitely want to check this one out.  If you’re into grinding to complete quests or achievements, Scurvy Scallywags is for you.  About the only way you could not like this game is if you prefer the same old same old and don’t have a sense of humor.  Well, okay, I suppose if you really don’t like match 3 games then Scurvy Scallywags might not float your boat, but then you’ll just be missing out on a great game.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Scurvy Scallywags Developer: Beep Games, Inc.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.2 Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: $1.99 App Size: 88.5 MB
  • Awesome Broadway musical pirate theme
  • Unique match 3 game play
  • Cool skills
  • Fun visuals
  • Wonderful music
  • Skill cool down time can be a bit extreme

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Mushroom Wars in Review: Spores Are Fungis Too http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/02/17/mushroom-wars-in-review-spores-are-fungis-too/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/02/17/mushroom-wars-in-review-spores-are-fungis-too/#comments Sun, 17 Feb 2013 22:08:41 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=71945 I’ve always been partial to turn based strategy games because I tend to have difficulties processing everything that’s going on all at once when the action is real time.  However, I began taking an interest in the real time side of things again when I was introduced to what I call “strategy lite” games where … Read more]]>

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I’ve always been partial to turn based strategy games because I tend to have difficulties processing everything that’s going on all at once when the action is real time.  However, I began taking an interest in the real time side of things again when I was introduced to what I call “strategy lite” games where you basically have one screen full of stuff to deal with and the action is mostly relegated to simply trying to take over your opponents’ structures.  With no resource management, no complex troop management and advanced quests providing fun but unnecessary diversions, games like Mushroom Wars still provide a decent level of strategy but supply it in a nice pick up and go package.

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There are some nifty little cut scenes every now and again, though truth be told other than the fact that there is a conflict I don’t really know what’s going on.  It doesn’t particularly matter though, because I do know the most important thing which is that my goal is to take over the enemy before they do the same to me.  Thankfully that’s pretty easy to do mechanically, as you just have to drag your finger from the building of the armies you wish to use to the building you want to attack.  Eventually you’ll get a slider that lets you determine what percentage of troops you want to send out at a time, but otherwise it’s pretty straightforward.  You can also double tap a building to upgrade it when the upgrade arrow is present, and that pretty much sums up your interactivity in the realm of the mushrooms.

Thankfully mastering the mechanics and mastering the game are two different things.  So far every battle has taken place on a single screen, yet it amazes me how each one can require such a different strategy in order to complete the level.  You’ll eventually get towers that shoot whoever doesn’t own them, and there will also be barriers placed in strategically annoying locations.  Every few battles seem to introduce something new, and it really keeps you revaluating how to play the game.  Just wait until you start with only building to the opponent’s many or you can’t see how many troops each enemy structure holds.  Best of all, each level in the campaign has at least six different awards to win, so while you might have beaten a level and moved on, you haven’t truly conquered the level until you’ve gained every award.  The game also supports Game Center for achievements, though there are no leaderboards at this point.

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The main disappointment for me at this point is that the menu is full of more “coming soons” than options.  There’s a Challenge button which when tapped says “coming soon”, a Multiplayer button which when tapped says… you guessed it… “coming soon”, and Facebook Login and Fight buttons that say “no connection” after attempting to connect to a server, even when you are connected to the internet.  Now I’m not suggesting that I have anything against features being added after the fact, but it is a bit ridiculous when the main menu is more about what you can expect than what you already have.  Still, the campaign mode has certainly whet my appetite for what is to come.

The graphics are tiny, which I realize comes from trying to keep everything on one screen.  Still, the visuals are finely detailed, and it’s great watching troops of little stick wielding mushroom creatures march across the screen.  The cut scenes are well done, even if I can’t quite figure out the whole storyline.  The sound effects compliment the action pretty well, and it’s almost a bit disheartening to hear the screams as a building is being attacked.  The music is nice and does a good job of enhancing the ambiance without actually drawing attention to itself.

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Mushroom Wars is a shining example of what this kind of “simple” strategy game can be.  It looks sharp, it’s engaging and it challenges you without making you want to pull your hair out.  I just hope the additions come sooner rather than later, because I don’t really like having a bunch of menu options that provide no value when I tap them.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Mushroom Wars Developer: SMS Services O.o.o.
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 6.0
Price: $3.99 App Size:
  • Simple yet emerssive
  • Balanced difficulty level
  • Looks great
  • Too many useless menu items

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Borderlands Legends now available for iPhone and iPad http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/10/31/borderlands-legends-now-available-for-iphone-and-ipad/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/10/31/borderlands-legends-now-available-for-iphone-and-ipad/#comments Wed, 31 Oct 2012 19:09:57 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=70578 2K Games has finally released the anticipated mobile version of the bestselling Borderlands for iOS - Borderlands Legends. Unlike its console/PC sibling, you won’t find any FPS action, but rather a top-down real time strategy of sorts. Borderlands Legends is the latest addition to the Borderland franchise, specifically designed for mobile and tablet. Control Mordecai, Lilith, … Read more]]>

2K Games has finally released the anticipated mobile version of the bestselling Borderlands for iOS - Borderlands Legends. Unlike its console/PC sibling, you won’t find any FPS action, but rather a top-down real time strategy of sorts.

Borderlands Legends is the latest addition to the Borderland franchise, specifically designed for mobile and tablet. Control Mordecai, Lilith, Brick and Roland and take out the oncoming waves of enemies. Collect in-game cash by destroying enemies and purchase new weapons. Earn experience and level up your characters, unlocking new skills and abilities! Each character has their own set of unique skills and abilities, use them wisely to survive!

Strangely enough, the app isn’t optimized for the iPhone 5, meaning that for users of the latest iPhone, it’ll play in letterboxed mode

. If you’re a Borderlands fan, the game may be worth checking out, though early reviews are a mixed bag so far. Check out the gameplay trailer and IGN’s video preview below.

Borderlands Legends 2K Games, Borderlands Legends - $4.99
Borderlands Legends HD 2K Games, Borderlands Legends HD - $6.99

Game Features:

- Play as your favorite characters from the original Borderlands
- Randomized missions
- Thousands of different weapons
- 36 unique powers and abilities
- Strategic cover system
- Fight for your life mode

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Fieldrunners 2 has landed on iPhone http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/19/fieldrunners-2-has-landed-on-iphone/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/19/fieldrunners-2-has-landed-on-iphone/#comments Thu, 19 Jul 2012 16:01:00 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=69068 Fieldrunners 2, the sequel to arguably the most celebrated tower defense game on iOS and one that ushered in a wave of TD games onto the plaform, has finally arrived on the iPhone. Developer Subatomic Studios spent the past several years creating Fieldrunners 2 and it clearly shows, with gamers treated to over 20 new levels … Read more]]>

Fieldrunners 2, the sequel to arguably the most celebrated tower defense game on iOS and one that ushered in a wave of TD games onto the plaform, has finally arrived on the iPhone. Developer Subatomic Studios spent the past several years creating Fieldrunners 2 and it clearly shows, with gamers treated to over 20 new levels and 20 unique, upgradable weapons, along with 3 different type of levels (Sudden Death, Time Trial, and Puzzle) and Retina Support to show off the gorgeous hand painted artwork. Currently, only the iPhone version is available ($2.99), with plans for an iPad release in the future. I’ve only logged about an hour or so thus far, but have already found it to be terribly addictive. Perhaps best of all, there are no IAPs to suck your iTunes credits dry; instead virtual currency can be earned in-game to buy items. Check out the extended gameplay video after the gap.

Fieldrunners 2 Subatomic Studios, Fieldrunners 2 - $2.99

Description

The people need your help! Get ready to DEFEND THE WORLD!

The biggest sequel in tower defense history is finally here: Fieldrunners 2 has arrived! From Subatomic Studios, creators of the award winning classic strategy game, comes an all new adventure that was years in the making. Build epic mazes out of powerful weapons to defend the world from the invading fieldrunners!

OVERVIEW–

The fieldrunners are back! With legions of soldiers and a gaggle of new tricks, they’re ready to conquer the globe. Or so they think! Our top scientists at SubaLabs have built a bleeding-edge arsenal of devastating weapons for any heroes willing to stop these dastardly invaders. Help your people by taking action – DEFEND THE WORLD!

Strategic-Action-Puzzle-Defense has never been this fun and addicting! Defend your world from the invasion by building winding paths out of imaginative, new weapons. Call in airstrikes and set explosive traps to hit the enemies where it hurts. Over 20 new levels span the grassiest fields, driest deserts, sparkling cities, and even an infernal volcano lair! Challenge your mind with the exciting new gameplay styles in Puzzle, Sudden Death, and Time Trial levels. Are you ready to stop the fieldrunners once and for all? Join the defense, now!

KEY FEATURES–

• Pint sized invaders seeking revenge!
• Hours of action across a huge world stuffed with levels!
• 20 unique, upgradable weapons for stopping the enemies in style!
• Retina display support makes hyper detailed hand painted artwork shine!
• Air strikes, mines, and powerful items let you attack with the precision of a surgeon!
• Sudden Death, Time Trial, and Puzzle type levels put a fresh spin on tower defense!
• Trenches, bridges, and tunnels make strategic choices more important than ever!
• Customizable loadouts so you can pick the perfect weapons for each battle!
• Revolutionary AI lets the fieldrunners move with stunning realism!
• Elite enemy types bring new challenges to the battlefield!
• A tower that launches bee hives!

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Squids Wild West in Review – The Good, The Bad, or the Ugly? http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/10/squids-wild-west-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/10/squids-wild-west-in-review/#comments Tue, 10 Jul 2012 13:53:56 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=68928 Everyone’s favourite squids have ridden their way back into our palms in The Game Bakers latest entry into the cult classic Squids franchise. Squids Wild West continues the story of the first game (TMA Review) and pulls the setting into an adorable underwater Western world. The Game Bakers have stuck to what they know, which in this case … Read more]]>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grab It Rating - 4/5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tap It Rating - 3/5

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

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Rune Raiders in Review – When Rogue-Like Meets Strategy http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/06/15/rune-raiders-in-review-when-rogue-like-meets-strategy/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/06/15/rune-raiders-in-review-when-rogue-like-meets-strategy/#comments Fri, 15 Jun 2012 14:06:43 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=68574  When I first saw Rune Raiders I had a feeling it would be something different, and it turns out it really is.  You’ll find it often referred to as a RPG, but it’s a slick little strategy game that might best be described as Fire Emblem for the iPhone, and that’s not even a good analogy.  … Read more]]>

 When I first saw Rune Raiders I had a feeling it would be something different, and it turns out it really is.  You’ll find it often referred to as a RPG, but it’s a slick little strategy game that might best be described as Fire Emblem for the iPhone, and that’s not even a good analogy.  Suffice it to say that if you like the atmosphere of a dungeon crawl, the need to think instead of simply slash your way to victory, and game design that doesn’t fit the standard mold, Rune Raiders is a good choice for you.

There might be a grand, sweeping story to tie this all together, but to be honest I started the game long enough ago I don’t remember if there is.  Each mission does have a basic goal as defined by a scroll left at the beginning of the level, but I think that’s mostly meant to be silly more than anything.  Rune Raiders is basically a series of loosely tied together episodes that can be enjoyed independently but are connected via the characters you use and level up throughout them.  At the beginning of each mission you can select up to 6 characters to take on the journey, but each character costs a fee that must be paid every time you use them.

Leveling up a character is permanent, and can be accomplished either by finding an upgrade arrow somewhere on the level or by tapping on the character once you’ve added it to your party and choosing upgrade.  Thankfully an upgraded character doesn’t cost more money to use.  Along the way you’ll have opportunity to collect gold, which you can do by walking over it with one of the characters or by tapping on it.  You’ll also find healing options which are activated by walkovers or by dragging them onto the needy party.  If a character should happen to get killed, you can tap on their bones to resurrect them, which costs the same price as initially hiring them.  As long as you have money this is an option.

 

A turn is one of the following: moving the whole group one square left, right or up, or dragging one character anywhere on the screen they are allowed to move.  Once you’ve moved anyone that can attack will, and then you repeat.  You can resurrect as many characters as you like without wasting a move, and you can also collect gold and potions freely as long as you use the tap or drag methods.  At the completion of each level you are told how many moves it took, how many deaths you incurred and what your bonus value is.  You also get a star ranking, though I’m not sure how it determines the number of stars or the bonus.  There are a few Game Center achievements to earn, but it’s more likely the act of trying to earn three stars or the desire to beat the game on the difficult setting that will keep you coming back.  There’s also a survival mode if you like random encounters.

While I don’t necessarily care for ultra stylized visuals, I do like games that look different, and Rune Raiders fits that bill as well.  Everything is tile based and the characters are not scaled to fit completely on the tiles, so you basically get little more than a bust.  It’s fun to watch them move, but even more entertaining to watch everyone attack.  Even though you know you’re getting beaten on, some of the monsters’ attacks are really cool.  The sound effects simply enhance the action and help make combat a joy.  The music, on the other hand, is pretty generic adventure fare, and gets old about the third time through.

There was a time when I actually enjoyed detailed, choice-laden strategy games.  These days, I’m perfectly content with simple mechanics that still make me ponder my decisions, and that’s exactly what Rune Raiders provides.  I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the endless Survival mode, but the campaigns are great, and hopefully by the time I get them all complete there will be some more for me to take on.  Otherwise, I’ll just try bumping the game up to Hard mode and see how often I can get killed!

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Rune Raiders Developer: Retro64
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $1.99 App Size:
  • Simple mechanics
  • Thought provoking levels
  • Cool characters
  • Great visuals
  • Complimentary sound effects
  • Survival mode is dull
  • Music extremely repetitive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grab It Rating - 4/5

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

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Kingdom Rush in Review – I’ll Take My Time To Enjoy This One http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/02/17/kingdom-rush-in-review-ill-take-my-time-to-enjoy-this-one/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/02/17/kingdom-rush-in-review-ill-take-my-time-to-enjoy-this-one/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2012 19:09:20 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=66684 The tower defense genre is one that has always eluded me.  Sure you have to construct towers (or some sort of defense) and possibly upgrade them during a level, but a bulk of each round is spent simply watching as hordes of monsters parade along a route and your equipment picks them off.  Thankfully, though, … Read more]]>

The tower defense genre is one that has always eluded me.  Sure you have to construct towers (or some sort of defense) and possibly upgrade them during a level, but a bulk of each round is spent simply watching as hordes of monsters parade along a route and your equipment picks them off.  Thankfully, though, over the course of time there have been a few that have bucked this trend, Kingdom Rush being one of them.  Between constant interaction, interesting level design and a ranking system that allows you to buy permanent upgrades to your defenses, Kingdom Rush takes enough simple steps forward to push it ahead of the crowd.

Kingdom Rush is a port of a Flash game, so if you’d like to try it first you can seek out the web version.  There is a campaign mode where you fight several waves of creatures on each level with everything you’ve earned upgrade-wise up to that point.  There are also 2 challenge modes on each level that are accessible for that level once you’ve earned three stars on the level.  These modes have fewer waves of much tougher enemies and they place restrictions on what you have available to build.  Couple that with more than 50 achievements and there is plenty of game to play here.

There are four base tower types that can be upgraded once constructed. Sometimes there will be additional structures already on the map that allow you to purchase specialty troops.  Successfully completing a level earns you between 1 and 3 stars, and an additional star can be won for each of the bonus modes on a level.  In turn, these stars can be used to buy additional permanent bonuses for each of the tower types.

In addition to the towers you can place two peasants – called “reinforcements” – anywhere along the path every 10 seconds.  They aren’t real strong, but they can stall enemies for a bit.  There is also the ability to launch flaming meteors at your enemies, but this power can be imprecise and it takes a lot longer to regenerate.  That said, it is still useful in a pinch.

I like the level design, because it’s not a simple “point A to point B” layout.  There are often multiple starting points and / or places where the creatures can deviate along the path.  There are even nifty tricks like mine shafts that let sneaky critters go from one part of the board to another without getting touched.  There is a nice variety of villains, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and a wave can consist of multiple creature types instead of just one type at a time.

The graphics in Kingdom Rush are great.  The backgrounds are hand drawn and full of nifty little details.  The character and tower designs are slick and everything is extremely well animated.  If it weren’t for the fact that there really isn’t time for it, I find it easy to get caught up in watching the battles.  There are even little words to punctuate the fighting like in the old Batman TV series.  The only real down side is that everything is so tiny, though I am impressed at how well the animation comes across despite that.

The sound effects are pretty good, with different attacks and different creatures having their own noises.  The best part of the sound effects, of course, is the witty voiceovers.  It’s just a shame that the bad guys don’t have some comebacks every once in a while (at least the ones that can theoretically speak).  The music is quite riveting, and really compliments the intensity of the action.

If every tower defense game could be like this, I might actually warm up to the genre.  The choices aren’t overwhelming, yet there is enough variety to keep things interesting.  The interesting level design forces you to try different strategies on each level, and the upgrade trees mean you could play through more than one time without playing the exact same game twice.  A solid presentation and responsive controls round out the package to make what I feel is one of the most entertaining tower defense games on the iOS platform.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Kingdom Rush™ Developer: Armor Games Inc
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Great level design
  • Cool ranking / upgrade system
  • Decent but not overwhelming variety
  • Slick audio and visuals
  • Nothing significant

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Squids in Review – Tactical strategy meets your average slingshot http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/11/28/squids-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/11/28/squids-in-review/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2011 15:15:55 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=61362 Unlike my wife, I’m not a huge fan of seafood. All those tentacles and scales – yuck. But what I do like is tactical strategy games, especially if there’s a bit of RPG element tucked in. Well it just so happens that an indie dev by the name of The Game Bakers have cooked up something … Read more]]>

Unlike my wife, I’m not a huge fan of seafood. All those tentacles and scales – yuck. But what I do like is tactical strategy games, especially if there’s a bit of RPG element tucked in. Well it just so happens that an indie dev by the name of The Game Bakers have cooked up something for me to make even all the slimy creatures quite acceptable, at least in digital form. I’m talking about the unique iOS action strategy game Squids.

Squids is a turn-based tactics strategy game with some rather original game mechanics. The world of the Squids is in turmoil as an ancient evil has risen again and is corrupting the waters. A young cephalopoda scout Steev is one of the few who can stand up to the armies of shrimps and crabs. So together with Vahine and the remaining members of the Old guard, they set off to cleanse their homewaters.

True to most tactics-centered games Squids puts you in charge of a small group of up to 4, funnily enough, squids, which you’ll have to use to achieve the objective. These are usually the kill all enemies or reach a specific point on the map variety. The gameplay is turn-based, where each of your brave soldiers have a limited amount of action points to perform, well, actions. Noteworthy is the method of moving your squids, which actually doubles as attacking. Much like Angry Birds, you pull back on the squid and then release to it to dash towards the enemy. The more you pull back, the further the distance moved and more powerful the attack.

Your marine troops come in 4 classes: Scout, Warrior, Shooter and Healer, with a special ability unique for each. The scouts can be triggered to use a sudden burst of acceleration while moving, the warriors have an area attack ability, the shooters can, well, shoot from a distance and the healers heal party members when bumping into them. In addition to these class differences, you can further customize your troops by using headgear that’s found throughout the levels or unlocked for completing missions. These options for customization, augmented by random powerups that can be picked up, add an element of tactics that makes Squids special.

Squids is one of the model games in terms of interface intuitiveness. There are literally only a couple of buttons on screen and the way the draw-n-fling has been incorporated into the gameplay commands respect. Visually the game holds its own as well, with superb Retina quality hand-drawn graphics. The in-game music is extremely catchy and the sound effects are also very well done.

Offering an original blend of turn-based tactics with the casual “fling it” gameplay popularized by Angry Birds, Squids is a release worthy of attention. Aside from being addictively fun, casual players will enjoy the nice graphics and intuitive interface, while the seasoned gamers will appreciate the customization options and the challenge of getting all the stars on each level. That said, I did feel the game a wee bit difficult towards the end; it wouldn’t be a bad idea if the devs make it more casual-friendly by perhaps adding several difficulty levels.

With this I declare Squids officially touched!

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Squids Developer: The Game Bakers
Reviewed Ver: 1.2.2 Min OS Req: 3.2
Price: $1.99 App Size: 174.60MB
  • Intuitive controls
  • Nice graphics
  • Good customization options
  • Original blend of tactics and fling mechanics
  • A bit too difficult in later levels

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GRave Defense HD in Review – A puzzle hidden underneath hordes of undead http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/11/09/grave-defense-hd-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/11/09/grave-defense-hd-in-review/#comments Wed, 09 Nov 2011 18:17:29 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=60479 Zombies and other types of undead have been among some of the more popular themes in all areas of pop-culture in the recent years – and the App Store is definitely no exception. There are scores of zombie games in all genres – from line drawing to action shooters, and card games to tower defense. … Read more]]>

Zombies and other types of undead have been among some of the more popular themes in all areas of pop-culture in the recent years – and the App Store is definitely no exception. There are scores of zombie games in all genres – from line drawing to action shooters, and card games to tower defense. Speaking of the latter, it has just been augmented by Bulkypix’s GRave Defense HD.

GRave Defense HD is on the surface a traditional fixed-path tower defence.  The world is running amok and undead are ravaging the population. As one of the few remaining pockets of resistance, you are put in charge of defending the base from the oncoming hordes. Can you hold your ground against zombies, ghosts, mutants and even Death?

If you look closely at fixed-path TD games, most don’t offer much in the way of originality, apart from a few trying to implement a decent RPG aspect. So, what innovation can be brought to the concept of hordes of enemies following a specific path in an effort to reach your base? The developers of GRave Defense thought the same and decided to throw in almost everything that’s already been implemented in a tower defense.

First of all, while the paths are indeed fixed, various waves of undead may use different ones to reach the exit. At later levels careful consideration of this fact is crucial as towers can only be placed on specific spots on the field. The enemies come in both flying and ground troops, with some having special abilitites, like healing, blowing up or disabling nearby towers on destruction. To counter this variety, you have your array of towers – and there’s a whole lot of them. I estimate around a dozen different types, and a few of the non-combat ones (aka support towers) each have 5 levels of upgrades possible. The catch is not all towers are available on every level, thus often requiring you to turn your brain inside-out to find the best application for the arsenal at hand.

Additionally, power-ups randomly drop from the eliminated undead, including cash bonuses, base restoration packs, slow-em-downs, explosives and even one to upgrade the surrounding towers. Unfortunately the base restoration packs and additional cash offer such a negligible bonus that it’s often not worth trying to catch them before they expire, which is all too fast in my opinion. The other ones however, can easily make or break a level.

Visually GRave Defense offers a decent view. The graphics are solid, but there is no zoom option to get a close-up view, so the game looks a bit small-ish on the iPhone. The good thing is that the game’s universal, so you can use an iPad to get the more comfortable interface. I do like the fact the developers decided to go completely transparent in all specs, so you can easily see quantifiable data on the towers and the upgrades that will affect them. The path of the current wave can easily be checked by a tap on an enemy, which is also a plus.

GRave Defense HD is certainly a noteworthy addition to the tower defence genre. Requiring skill and precision, it will challenge even the most experienced players, almost turning at times into a puzzle game due to the miniscule margin for error. And this already starting at the normal difficulty level! But fans of the genre will definitely appreciate the huge variety of towers and enemies across the 20 levels for hours of fun and biting their nails off.

With this I declare GRave Defense HD officially touched!

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: GRave Defense HD Developer: Bulkypix
Reviewed Ver: 1.4 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 15.57MB
  • A LOT of towers
  • Multiple wave paths
  • Challenging game mechanics with a limited arsenal for each level
  • Transparent tower specs and upgrades
  • Universal
  • Very hard
  • Some power-ups are too weak
  • No way to zoom the battlefield

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Virtual City Playground in Review – Build your city for free, no strings attached http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/11/08/virtual-city-playground-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/11/08/virtual-city-playground-in-review/#comments Tue, 08 Nov 2011 15:31:22 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=60391 I reviewed the original Virtual City (TMA Review) last year and found it to be an entertaining casual variation on the build-your-own-city theme. Though much closer to the Transport Tycoon franchise in spirit than SimCity, the mixing of various gameplay elements and the addition of quests to guide the development made for an excellent package. Building … Read more]]>

I reviewed the original Virtual City (TMA Review) last year and found it to be an entertaining casual variation on the build-your-own-city theme. Though much closer to the Transport Tycoon franchise in spirit than SimCity, the mixing of various gameplay elements and the addition of quests to guide the development made for an excellent package. Building on this quest system G5 Entertainment has done what seems to be the fashionable thing these days and has gone freemium with Virtual City Playground.

Virtual City Playground follows the same basic city-building idea as the original. This time there isn’t any sequence of separate scenarios; instead you’re thrown into a semi-open playing field (extension bought separately) to build and run that city you’ve always dreamed of. Take that, Mr. Mayor!

The basic idea is to build up various production facilities and organize supply chains to earn money. Freedom reigns, as in theory, you’re presented with an open field and left to your own devices as to how you’re going to earn the cash. In reality, however, almost all building options are locked until you complete preceding quests, which generally guide you through building up individual product chains one step at a time. As well, some population oriented tasks are thrown in for good measure. Of course, you can spend loads of investment points and unlock any building right of the bat, but where’s the fun in that, right?

And herein lies the conundrum. Very quickly you’ll run up to a point where you’ve filled up all available space and want to expand. Expansion costs real cash and the aforementioned investment points can only be earned at a measly one point per level, or thanks to the recent update – for dutifully checking in the game everyday. Considering that each consequent expansion costs even more in both investment points and cash, though the latter is never a problem, you’ll almost immediately run into a serious deficit of them. Especially since some of the buildings can only be constructed with said points. Loads of cash for more investment points, anyone?

Visually Virtual City Playground builds on the base of the original by adding new buildings and landmarks. The graphics still hold up quite nicely, so you won’t be left wanting in this respect. The controls however are a bit clunky both in terms of construction and everyday management. Tapping-n-dragging through 10+ pages of environment buildings is frustrating as hell. And the preciousness of real-estate makes you pack the buildings in as dense as possible, thus making it nearly impossible later to select the one you actually want. Lastly the addition of being able to close the app and have your city continue to live and breathe for making money offline looks great in principle. In reality it leads to the necessity of recalculating all the changes on each switch-back to the game, adding loading times even when restoring from the multitasking tray. And waiting for the game to load after a good night’s sleep for a reasonably built-up city can easily take a whopping 5-10 minutes (or even more) on an iPhone 4.

Overall Virtual City Playground is quite a nice addition to the sandbox building genre. It offers all of the features of the original well-balanced city-builder and more for a hefty price of FREE. Unfortunately some interface flaws, along with the horrendous loading times will often test your patience. But at the zero price point offered, Virtual City Playground is definitely worth a try, only if to make you buy the superb Virtual City.

With this I declare Virtual City Playground officially touched!

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Virtual City Playground Developer: G5 Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.2 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: Free App Size: 58.44MB
  • All features of the original Virtual City
  • Very nice quest system
  • Makes money minimized as well
  • Free
  • Very restricted in ways t earn investment points
  • Horrendous loading times once the city is built-up

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