TouchMyApps » Review 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 Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:42:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.4 Gummy Drop! in Review – Match 3, Quests And IAP, Oh My! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/10/10/gummy-drop-in-review-match-3-quests-and-iap-oh-my/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/10/10/gummy-drop-in-review-match-3-quests-and-iap-oh-my/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:09:22 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74084 Most of my experience with Big Fish Games has been in relation to hidden object games, at least when it comes to my iDevices.  I was intrigued by the release of Gummy Drop!, though, because I was told that it wasn’t a cookie cutter match 3 game, and as a devout fan of the genre … Read more]]>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Files Tunguska in Review: An Adventure Game Like They Used To Make http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/09/09/secret-files-tunguska-in-review-an-adventure-game-like-they-used-to-make/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/09/09/secret-files-tunguska-in-review-an-adventure-game-like-they-used-to-make/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 20:59:36 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74061 While I’ll happily take any sort of adventure game for my iPad that’s half way decent, there’s something about the 80’s King’s Quest style adventure that can’t be matched by a first person point of view or lots of hidden object scenes and mini-games.  Apparently the developers behind Secret Files Tunguska get that, and as … Read more]]>

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While I’ll happily take any sort of adventure game for my iPad that’s half way decent, there’s something about the 80’s King’s Quest style adventure that can’t be matched by a first person point of view or lots of hidden object scenes and mini-games.  Apparently the developers behind Secret Files Tunguska get that, and as a result this is one of the best adventure games I’ve played on the iOS platform to date.  The story keeps you wanting to know more, the NPC interaction is plentiful but not overburdening, and the puzzles are intelligent and fun.  Add to that a polished interface and beautiful graphics and you can’t really ask for much more.  Well, a bit of background music would be kind of nice…review-secret-files-2

You start out playing Nina, who simply wants to visit her father at the museum where he works.  Instead you end up on a quest to find him as well as figure out the mystery behind the explosion that rocked Tunguska a century before.  Nina is joined by her father’s assistant Max, whom you’ll also get to control at various points in the game.  The detailed and intriguing story is told via dialog trees between the character you control and various NPCs as well as the occasional cut scene.  The actual “game” portion is your old fashioned mix of item collecting and object puzzle solving.  There are no hidden object scenes, and so far I haven’t run into any mini games.  Personally I hope it stays that way, though as long as the mini games are minimal I’ll be content.

The interface is simple yet effective.  Tapping on an item of interest brings up one or two options: a magnifying glass for viewing and a hand for interacting.  Depending on the situation “interacting” might mean taking an object, talking to someone or literally manipulating something without adding it to your inventory.  To use an inventory item you can drag it onto an item in the scene or onto another item in your inventory.  The inventory interface is a bit sluggish, and it can be frustrating because two objects must be combined in the right order (ex: dragging a matchbook to a cigarette lights the cigarette, but dragging the cigarette to the matchbook does nothing).  You can tap to move around your current area as well, but that’s rarely needed since your character automatically walks towards objects you interact with.  I did finally run into one mini game so far, and that was handled simply by dragging objects around the screen.

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The game auto saves at certain points and will keep your last position when you exit out of the game, but you can (and should) also explicitly save occasionally in the options menu.  You can also save and load your game to the iCloud if you’d like, which is a feature games of any decent length should have.  From a game play perspective this is just about the perfect adventure game, except for the dialog.  Now don’t get me wrong, because dialog between characters is one thing that sets a true adventure game above a simple room escape experience, but there are times when the dialog just devolves into nonsense that does nothing but make the game longer.  Plus, it makes you work a little harder to determine what’s actually necessary to move the plot along.  Not a major hurdle, but it can get annoying at times.

This is a pretty amazing looking game.  The backgrounds are extremely well drawn and finely detailed, and the characters look good enough in the normal course of the game.  The models don’t always look the best in the cut scenes, but then there are very few games centered around humans where they really do.  Overall the visuals are stunning.  The sound is another story.  There are some sound effects, but the game seems to be more focused on ambient noises, which actually do have the effect of making the world feel a bit more vibrant and alive.  However, there is very little music which is rather disappointing.  Also, while the voiceovers are nice, they seem to be a bit out of place in most cases.  For example, only one person that I’ve encountered in Russia so far even speaks with any sort of accent!

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Adventure games used to be one of the staples of my gaming diet, but as time moves on and the popularity of the genre seemingly diminishes there just aren’t as many quality options as there used to be.  Thankfully Secret Files Tunguska is one of the exceptions.  An interesting story, plenty of game play and overall pleasing aesthetics definitely make this a worthwhile experience for any avid adventure gamer.  Just remember that because you think you’ve moved on doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re done with something.

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App Summary
Title: Secret Files Tunguska Developer: Deep Silver
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req:
Price: $4.99 App Size:
  • Intriguing story
  • Lots of NPC interaction
  • Plenty of puzzles
  • Excellent visuals
  • Nice ambient sound
  • Navigating inventory can be sluggish
  • Overabundance of silly dialog
  • Little background music

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sky Force 2014 in Review – Everything Old Is Awesome Again http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/05/sky-force-2014-in-review-everything-old-is-awesome-again/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/05/sky-force-2014-in-review-everything-old-is-awesome-again/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 01:44:35 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73981 I’ve loved shmups ever since I started going to arcades, and since I’ve been reviewing mobile games I’ve always tended to compare them to the venerable classic 1942 from Capcom.  Sure that game didn’t have some of the niceties that modern shooters do, but it always provided solid game play and encouraged repeat performances by … Read more]]>

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I’ve loved shmups ever since I started going to arcades, and since I’ve been reviewing mobile games I’ve always tended to compare them to the venerable classic 1942 from Capcom.  Sure that game didn’t have some of the niceties that modern shooters do, but it always provided solid game play and encouraged repeat performances by basically requiring you to memorize the enemy formations in order to master the game.  Welcome to 2014 and the tenth anniversary release of Sky Force from infinite dreams.  There was a reboot of 1942 launched in 2010, but as far as I’m concerned this is the true modern successor to that beloved game.  8 intense levels, plenty of upgrades and 3 difficulty levels make this a game you can play over and over again.  Now all they need is the trademark “flip” button and Sky Force 2014 would be about perfect.

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I could try to over-complicate things, but if you’re a shmup fan you know the drill: shoot everything and try to survive.  You have 8 levels over which you can hone your skills, and the good thing is that if you can memorize patterns you’ll eventually be able to conquer each level basically blindfolded.  The bad thing is that won’t matter once you advance to the next difficulty setting on a given level, because while the patterns basically stay the same you’ll find the enemies harder to kill and the bullets a lot more frequent.  Each level has three difficulty settings, and each difficulty has four goals: kill 70% of the enemies, kill 100% of the enemies, rescue all the hostages and fly through the entire level without getting hit once.  As you can imagine, you probably won’t be completing all of the goals at the same time for any given combination of level / difficulty setting.

Along the way you’ll collect stars, and you’ll definitely want to make an effort to snag as many of these as possible.  In between missions you’ll be able to upgrade 5 standard components of your ship as well as three specialty items including a laser weapon, shield and everyone’s favorite: the screen clearing bomb.  Most upgrades start off reasonable, but as you get further into the game it will cost a lot of stars to make your ship as powerful as it can be.  The thing is, I don’t mind the challenge at all, because it gives me a reason to keep coming back to play the game.  Of course if for some reason everything I’ve mentioned to you just isn’t quite enough to keep you busy, there are also 25 achievements to earn and a leaderboard on Game Center that I believe is the sum of your highest score on each of the levels you’ve completed, though I wouldn’t quote me on that if I were you.

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So here’s the down side to the game, if you can even call it that.  The game is free… no, that’s not it yet.  Because the game is free, you’re limited to 10 lives, and when those lives are gone you have to wait for them to replenish (thankfully you only “use up” a life if you die during a mission, and not just because you play a mission).  It also takes time for upgrades to take effect, unless you want to spend precious extra stars to speed up the process.  Of course you are perfectly welcome to buy stars via IAP if you’d like.  Personally I’ve found this to be one of the less intrusive freemium models I’ve run across, and quite frankly I’m cheap enough that I haven’t been bothered a bit by having to wait for things to replenish.  I run through my 10 ships at night and let hanger refill while I’m sleeping so my troops are fresh the next day.  It’s a flawless system in my book.

Along with all of the intense action, Sky Force 2014 boasts some really slick visuals.  Everything is well designed and extremely detailed, and the animation is top notch.  It’s rather a joy watching your enemy spiral into the sea, smoke and flames following their descent.  I love how some of the taller structures actually feel like they’re coming towards you, though I do have to remind myself sometimes that you can’t actually run into them.  The sound effects are fairly standard for a shmup, but they do a nice job of complementing the action.  There are voiceovers for things like getting health restored and collecting a weapon upgrade during a mission, and a rescued hostage shouting “yea-hah” always makes me crack a smile.  I’m a bit disappointed in the music, mainly because I expected it to be as varied as the different locales in each mission, yet to me it doesn’t seem much different between each level.  I’ve also noticed that if you have one or two games that you didn’t completely shut down, the sound will often not work at all.

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There will always be a special place in my heart for 1942, but I suppose at some point you have to move on.  Sky Force 2014 has finally given me the reason to do so.  Great level design, 3 difficulty settings per mission and a host of upgrades to claim make this one of the best shmup experiences I’ve had, mobile or otherwise.  The wait for upgrades to kick in and lives to replenish are minor annoyances, but in the end it actually works out because it forces me to go play something else for a while.  If you’re a fan of the genre I don’t know how you could lose with this selection.

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App Summary
Title: Sky Force 2014 Developer: Infinite Dreams Inc.
Reviewed Ver: 1.20 Min OS Req: 7.0
Price: Free App Size: 137 MB
  • Great level design
  • 3 difficulty settings per mission
  • Tons of upgrades to work towards
  • Plenty of achievements to earn
  • Excellent visuals
  • Have to wait for upgrades to be applied and lives to refresh
  • Not enough variety in music

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Nun Attack Origins: Yuki’s Silent Quest in Review: Silent, Deadly and Fun http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/07/29/nun-attack-origins-yukis-silent-quest-in-review-silent-deadly-and-fun/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/07/29/nun-attack-origins-yukis-silent-quest-in-review-silent-deadly-and-fun/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:07:25 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73958 We were introduced to the nuns in 2012 with the RPG Nun Attack, which I sadly did not get the chance to play.  The following year brought us Nun Attack: Run & Gun, a runner with potential that ultimately fell flat for me.  Now we have Nun Attack Origins: Yuki’s Silent Quest, and unlike some … Read more]]>

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We were introduced to the nuns in 2012 with the RPG Nun Attack, which I sadly did not get the chance to play.  The following year brought us Nun Attack: Run & Gun, a runner with potential that ultimately fell flat for me.  Now we have Nun Attack Origins: Yuki’s Silent Quest, and unlike some origin stories introduced into established franchises, this one actually works.  Silent Quest takes a puzzle like approach to the nun’s adventures, and it provides a decent amount of challenge with frustrating the player.  It is lacking a bit in variety, but otherwise provides for a solid puzzle game experience.review-yukis-quest-2
In this tale of the nun known as Yuki you must help her rescue the children from her childhood village that have been captured and reconstruct the village after nefarious villains have destroyed it.  Your mission will take you through 60 hand crafted levels full of miscreants and scared kids, as well as 15 bonus levels overflowing with bread!  The bonus levels are like a mini version of Fruit Ninja, except instead of fruit you’ll be slicing through loaves of bread, and rather than solely using your finger you’ll need to guide Yuki to do the slicing.  There are still bombs that will prematurely end the level for you, though.

As for the main levels, each one has three tasks: rescue 3 children, complete the level using a certain number of moves or less and finish the level under a certain amount of time.  The tasks are all attainable (with the exception of level 29 for me), but good luck getting them all in one try.  Thankfully the game lets you earn each goal individually.  The first time you reach a goal on a given level you’ll earn a shuriken and when you have enough you’ll be able to rebuild part of one of the buildings in your village.  To finish the game you have to get through all 60 levels, but to truly complete the game you need to rebuild the village.  It seems like a pretty noble cause to me.

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To control Yuki you simply draw a line from her to where you want her to go.  A “guiding light” will appear between your finger and Yuki which will turn either green or red for any bad guy it passes over – green means they are good to attack and red indicates they will defeat you.  Control seems pretty solid, though there have been a few times where the location I ended up wasn’t quite what I was pointing to, or at least that’s how it appeared to me.  That potential quirk aside, the biggest problem with the game is the lack of variety.  Sure the levels are all configured differently, but in the 30+ levels I’ve played so far the background theme has been the same, and there are basically two types of bad guys so far, the only difference being one seems to be a bit jumpy and the other doesn’t.  Earning three shurikens on each level and ultimately rebuilding the village are your only rewards as there is no Game Center integration, but that’s actually okay in this game.

The visuals in Yuki’s Silent Quest are pretty nice.  Everything is fairly detailed and well animated, if not just a bit small.  I like how some of the bad guys are jittery and the slow motion action for the final attack on a given board.  Sound effects, on the other hand, are kind of weak.  The bad guys don’t really make any noise, and surprisingly neither do the frightened kids.  Even the sound Yuki makes when getting hit is more like a man than a woman.  There is decent music, but only in the menu section.  Why can’t we have tunes during the game itself?

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Overall I’m quite pleased with this installment of the Nun Attack franchise.  A cool game mechanic, challenging levels and the feel good desire of rebuilding the village make for a solid package.  I do hope that another level set will be added at some point to enhance the variety, and it would be nice to hear some better audio, but otherwise Yuki’s Silent Quest is certainly an enjoyable one.

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App Summary
Title: Nun Attack Origins: Yuki’s Silent Quest Developer: Frima
Reviewed Ver: 1.3.3 Min OS Req: 7.0
Price: $1.99 App Size: 65.6 MB
  • Fun Slash n Dash mechanic
  • Challenging but fair levels
  • Nice visuals
  • Lack of variety
  • Audio not so hot

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Blowfish Meets Meteor in Review: A Brick Breaker, And So Much More http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/06/04/blowfish-meets-meteor-in-review-a-brick-breaker-and-so-much-more/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/06/04/blowfish-meets-meteor-in-review-a-brick-breaker-and-so-much-more/#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 06:30:43 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73880 The brick breaker genre has never been a particular favorite of mine, but just like with most other styles of game play, if a certain offering is well designed I can definitely be entertained.  Such is the case with Blowfish Meets Meteor, which would have caught my attention with the name alone.  Smart level design, … Read more]]>

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The brick breaker genre has never been a particular favorite of mine, but just like with most other styles of game play, if a certain offering is well designed I can definitely be entertained.  Such is the case with Blowfish Meets Meteor, which would have caught my attention with the name alone.  Smart level design, power ups that serve a purpose rather than just being bombarded at you and a wacky atmosphere make this one of the best brick breakers I’ve played.  The main down side is that some levels can be frustratingly challenging, even to the point where I couldn’t earn a single gem in the three gem rating scheme.

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You play a loving father who must rescue his mermaid daughters after a catastrophic incident resulted in all of them getting captured.  Surely that won’t take long, you think.  Apparently this guy has a lot of kids.  Anyway, the kids have been imprisoned in cells made out of bricks, so you have to use your trusty meteor fragments along with a sizeable clam shell to bust them out from their captivity.  Oh, and did I mention the manatee and oversized piranha?  If I haven’t done a good enough job of making it evident yet, this game is not the norm when it comes to atmosphere for a brick breaker game.  And that’s just one of its charms.

The basic mechanics are that of a brick breaker: move the dad back and forth so that he can keep the meteor fragments bouncing up towards the top of the screen.  And yes, there are some bricks up there to break.  Sometimes, though, there might be just as many sticks of dynamite as there are bricks.  In other cases you might find giant piranha or schools of smaller fish providing obstacles to your ultimate goal, which is clearing a path so that each of the trapped mermaids can get free and swim to the dome at the bottom of the screen.  You also have to protect the dome from any falling objects because one hit is grace, but two hits means you start the level over.  On some levels you might get a power up such as a sticky paddle or a temporary shield, but this is more the exception than the rule and is determined by what you must accomplish in the level.  What really makes this game shine is that levels were extremely well thought out, and it never once feels like a traditional brick breaker in terms of boring rows of bricks.

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The world appears to be divided into at least 5 areas, and so far each has been comprised of 9 subordinate levels and one boss level.  In most cases you just have to rescue the daughters (and occasionally beat a boss) in order to progress to the next level.  To earn gems, however, you are judged on several criteria like damage sustained and number of bricks broken.  This will get you the red and / or green gems, but you must complete a specific task to earn the blue gem.  Out of the 18 levels I’ve completed so far I’ve only managed to acquire all three gems on three of them, and in a couple of cases I didn’t even get one gem right off the bat.  This is my main gripe – I personally feel the goals are often too difficult to achieve, especially early on in the game.  Blowfish Meets Meteor is integrated with Game Center where you can find 60 different leaderboards, so those that like to climb ranks should be extremely happy.  There are also 11 achievements, many of which suffer the same difficulty curve as the gem based goals.

The graphics are great, with well designed and animated characters atop nicely detailed backgrounds.  A couple of the levels have a cool sunset silhouette type look as well.  I could easily picture this being a Cartoon Network offering from a visual perspective.  The sound effects are pretty decent, though the grating cry of the mermaids when the dome is shattered or they get eaten by a piranha almost makes you not feel sorry for them.  The music is quite nice and does a good job of setting a peaceful mood despite the “dire” circumstances.

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While I’m no more of a brick breaker junkie than I was before playing Blowfish Meets Meteor, I definitely like this game.  The level design is far superior to most of its peers, and I love the fact that the main goal is to rescue the mermaids, not to remove every brick from the screen.  The visuals are colorful, the music is good and the overall atmosphere is fun.  Some of the goals are discouragingly tough, but fans of the genre and those that normally shy away should both find something to like here.

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App Summary
Title: Blowfish Meets Meteor Developer: Sky Tyrannosaur, LLC
Reviewed Ver: 1.06 Min OS Req: 6.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 93.1 MB
  • Unique level design
  • Not just about brick breaking
  • Cartoon like atmosphere
  • Goals can be frustrating
  • Mermaid cries are annoying

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Pahelika: Secret Legends in Review: Questing For A Mystical Book http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/05/15/pahelika-secret-legends-in-review-questing-for-a-mystical-book/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/05/15/pahelika-secret-legends-in-review-questing-for-a-mystical-book/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 06:21:25 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73829 I’ve already written may reviews on adventure games, yet in spite of, or maybe because of that I’ve been struggling with how to start this one.  Something I’ve noticed with most adventure games these days is that they struggle to provide a decent balance between story telling, puzzle solving and any of the various extras … Read more]]>

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I’ve already written may reviews on adventure games, yet in spite of, or maybe because of that I’ve been struggling with how to start this one.  Something I’ve noticed with most adventure games these days is that they struggle to provide a decent balance between story telling, puzzle solving and any of the various extras like hidden object scenes or mini games that they choose to throw in.  Pahelika: Secret Legends seems to do a pretty decent job in terms of game play because it’s mostly puzzle solving with just a few mini games thrown in, which is the way I like it to be balanced.  It even does a decent job of trying to present a story, though most of the communication outside of cut scenes between levels is just your character describing where he’s at.  Still, Pahelika is overall a decent adventure game that just suffers from a few niggling annoyances.review-pahelika-secret-legends-2

Pahelika begins with a brief narrated comic book style intro that discusses leadership, tyranny and redemption, and before long you inadvertently find yourself on a quest to find a mystical book.  There’s something just slightly Jumanji-ish about the whole thing, but it makes for a nice adventure game background.  Unfortunately, once you stray from the cut scenes there’s little to advance the stories short of the main character’s narration when he enters most rooms, though all that does is really give you his point of view on the room you’re entering.  I’m not a big proponent of things like notes or diary pages strewn throughout the locations, but fleshing out the story at a consistent pace is something more of these games need to strive for.  If you don’t know what I mean, check out the old Lucas Arts or Sierra games, or more recently the folks at TellTale Games to get a good feel for the way it should be.

Game play is pretty typical – discover a new location, explore it for items to solve puzzles then solve said puzzles.  Usually the answers to the puzzles are somewhere fairly intuitive or even spelled out in the level somehow, though occasionally the answers to situations felt a bit arbitrary and forced.  There were no hidden object scenes, but it did feel like sometimes you had to hunt and peck for the items you needed because they didn’t stand out from anything else in the scene you were exploring.  Mini-games basically came in three flavors – putting a jigsaw puzzle together, sliding blocks around so that you could move one of them to a specific location and arranging runes based on a pattern that was established by three that were preset for you.  Generally the mini games were easy to complete, but you always have the option to skip them after a set amount of time.  Overall the game play felt pretty balanced though there were a couple of instances where I had no clue what to do and one time the hint button told me it had no hints for me no matter which room I walked into.

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The interface is also pretty standard.  Tap an item to pick it up, and then either drag it from your inventory to where you want to use it in your current scene or tap the item and tap the destination location.  You can also drag items onto each other to combine them if appropriate.  Most of the time this wasn’t a problem, but a couple of puzzles are a bit too small and can get a bit frustrating trying to place objects in the appropriate spots.  If you’re one of those folks that like achievements no matter what the genre there are 18 of them for you to earn.  You can also create multiple profiles so several people can play at the same time, which is a feature every adventure game should employ.

Visually Pahelika is quite pleasant.  As I mentioned before some objects can blend in a bit too well or be a tad small, but as a whole the graphics are very well rendered with a nice level of detail.  The sound effects aren’t bad, and there is typically quite a bit of ambient noise throughout the levels.  The music is extremely well written.  I honestly didn’t notice it much the first time I played through the game (maybe I had the sound down too low), but as I replayed the first three worlds while writing this review I realized that the songs can be quite beautiful at times.

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As a freshman effort from IronCode Gaming, Pahelika: Secret Legends is an extremely solid starting point.  The engine interface is polished and fairly solid, the aesthetics are professional and the game play is pretty well balanced.  I’d like to see a bit more story throughout the game instead of just between worlds, and if you’re only going to have a couple of different styles of mini-game strewn throughout please don’t make any of them be sliding block style games.  Otherwise I can say that everything I’ve experienced on this journey has me excited to check out part 2, which is already available on the App Store.

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App Summary
Title: Pahelika: Secret Legends – A Search and Find Hidden Object Adventure Developer: IronCode Gaming
Reviewed Ver: 1.1 Min OS Req: 6.0
Price: $4.99 App Size: 90.2 MB
  • Solid, polished interface
  • Balanced game play
  • Sharp visuals
  • Excellent music
  • Objects sometimes blend into the background too well
  • Occasionally difficult to determine how to proceed
  • Story could be unveiled at a better pace

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Splash Dash in Review – Infinite Isn’t Just For Running Any More http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/05/10/splash-dash-in-review-infinite-isnt-just-for-running-any-more/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/05/10/splash-dash-in-review-infinite-isnt-just-for-running-any-more/#comments Sat, 10 May 2014 18:32:03 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73808 These days it’s not uncommon for several infinite runners to come out in a single week.  The problem is trying to figure out which ones are worth playing.  Lucky for you I’m a huge infinite runner fan, so I try to do a lot of the leg work for you.  Unfortunately even a lot of … Read more]]>

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These days it’s not uncommon for several infinite runners to come out in a single week.  The problem is trying to figure out which ones are worth playing.  Lucky for you I’m a huge infinite runner fan, so I try to do a lot of the leg work for you.  Unfortunately even a lot of the better entries in the genre any more are starting to feel the same, but there are still some that are worth playing.  I happen to think one of those is Splash Dash.  The game feels kind of like a third person 3D Frogger, and it’s hard to go wrong with that.
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In Splash Dash you have one primary goal: don’t become frog legs for the alligators.  Of course you’ll also want to travel as far as you can and collect as much loot as possible to both rank on leaderboards and be able to buy cool accessories and useful power ups.  In other words, Splash Dash has all the markings of a typical infinite runner.  The fact that you’re constantly jumping changes the dynamic a bit because it is possible to suddenly find yourself leaping to a spot where there is no place to land.  You are afforded a few mistakes, but if you’re not careful eventually the alligator that’s chasing you will catch up and make a nice meal out of you.  There are also alligators along the trail that will be more than happy to sample your slender green appendages if you don’t land in the right spot.

On the other hand ducks, dragonflies and grasshoppers can help you progress more quickly through the level.  There are also flowers that spring up occasionally and give you a super jump should you land on them.  And of course there is the generic magnet that lets you attract coins without actually touching them.  This is the one power up or boost that doesn’t really seem very creative or really even in context with the rest of the game.  But, it works so why complain?  If you really get into trouble and your meter is full you can swipe up to launch yourself forward a few meters, though this action bypasses any coins you might come across.  And, as luck would have it, coins are what fill the meter in the first place.

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Your frog constantly moves forward on its own, and you can choose to either tilt the device or swipe your finger across the device to move left and right.  The tilt functionality actually works pretty well, but I just naturally prefer to use touch screen options for this type of game when possible.  To execute a super jump you swipe up which always executes flawlessly for me.  There are three leaderboards, one each for distance, most coins collected and total score.  There are also 38 achievements to earn, though you don’t actually seem to accrue any points for ones that you’ve completed.  If you’re a “collector” there is plenty of gear to work towards as well as several different frogs to buy, and of course being an infinite runner you can always try to better your best run.

The visuals are pretty high quality, and the swamp theme sets the game apart from most similar romps.  The character designs are decent and as you buy new apparel your amphibians are more than happy to model it for you.  The sound effects have a nice arcade-y ring to them and the game is kind enough to play a specific tone when your “super jump” meter is full.  The music is quick and lively, but it can get a bit repetitive if you pay too much attention to it.

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I’ve begun to accept the fact that we’re currently at a point where new runners by and large won’t bring anything unique to the table.  As such I’m perfectly happy with offerings that do the job well and at least look like they are trying to be different, and Splash Dash certainly fits the bill in that regards.  Colorful characters, upbeat music and a swampy motif give the game a fun atmosphere.  Plenty of items to unlock and achievements to earn give you something to do besides just jump, and solid controls make the trip enjoyable.  Splash Dash doesn’t tread much new ground, but it’s towards ahead of the pack in making old ground feel fresh.

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App Summary
Title: Splash Dash Developer: Capedy LLC
Reviewed Ver: 1.3.2 Min OS Req: 5.1
Price: Free App Size: 50.6 MB
  • Cool swamp motif
  • Plenty of stuff to unlock
  • Lots of achievements to earn
  • Nice visuals
  • Doesn’t offer up much new
  • Music can get repetitive quickly

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Bridge Me in Review – Creative But Needs More Subtance http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/05/05/bridge-me-in-review-creative-but-needs-more-subtance/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/05/05/bridge-me-in-review-creative-but-needs-more-subtance/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 15:35:40 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73786 Quite often I only play certain games because of the weekly roundup that I write, and such is the case with Bridge Me.  It’s not that I necessarily didn’t want to play it, but I download so many games in a given week that I only ever get around to trying a small fraction of … Read more]]>

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Quite often I only play certain games because of the weekly roundup that I write, and such is the case with Bridge Me.  It’s not that I necessarily didn’t want to play it, but I download so many games in a given week that I only ever get around to trying a small fraction of them.  In this case I’m glad that I did take Bridge Me for a spin.  The game is pretty basic and can get repetitive after a while, but the concept is cool and it definitely has a lot of potential.

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The premise is simple: you want to get from one platform to the next, and in order to do so you have to build a bridge.  Construction is a simple matter of holding the hammer button down until the bridge is as long as you’d like.  The problem is that the bridge is built straight up, so you have to use your best judgment to determine if the bridge is long enough but not too long.  As you play the game more you’ll start to get the hang of it and build the bridges right fairly consistently.  That’s where the bonus levels come in, though, as they throw in things like disappearing target platforms, moving target platforms, target platforms that split up into multiple segments and bridges built of invisible wood.  It’s a nice way to break up what can become monotonous, and I’d personally love to see a mode that’s comprised of just random bonus levels.

The main problem is that what I described above is basically all there is to Bridge Me.  There is only one game play mode, and there are no power ups or obstacles besides simply building the bridge the wrong length.  You can connect to Facebook to compare scores or post what you earned on your latest run, and thankfully as of the last update there are now 58 achievements for you to earn.  The concept is actually pretty creative, but while it’s fun for a while the game really needs to be fleshed out in order to have sustainable replay value.

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The graphics are decent in a Minecraft sort of way.  The backgrounds are interesting because for the most part they are faded and blocky, but you’ll often see a nicely detailed imagine of some sort of famous building passing by.  The sound effects are okay, and unfortunately there is no music playing in the background.

Bridge Me’s biggest selling point is that it’s not like anything else you’ll find on the App Store.  The problem is that while a unique concept is enough to grab your attention for a while, the concept needs to have enough substance to keep you hooked, and I’m not sure that’s the case here.  I think Bridge Me is worth checking out, but I wouldn’t expect much more from it than quick bursts of game play every now and again.

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App Summary
Title: Bridge Me Developer: Snagon Studio
Reviewed Ver: 1.1.0 Min OS Req: 5.1
Price: Free App Size: 16.5 MB
  • Interesting game concept
  • Easy to learn
  • Decent Minecraft like visuals
  • Not much variety
  • Only one game mode
  • No music

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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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Toast Time in Review – When Breakfast Fights Back http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/03/21/toast-time-in-review-when-breakfast-fights-back/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/03/21/toast-time-in-review-when-breakfast-fights-back/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 21:14:56 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73653 The idea is simple: protect the clock from a swarm of aliens for a designated number of seconds.  The thing is you’re just a toaster, so you do what toasters do best.  Each tap of the screen has you ejecting a nicely cooked piece of bread with the intention of either flinging yourself to a … Read more]]>

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The idea is simple: protect the clock from a swarm of aliens for a designated number of seconds.  The thing is you’re just a toaster, so you do what toasters do best.  Each tap of the screen has you ejecting a nicely cooked piece of bread with the intention of either flinging yourself to a more accessible spot or taking out a slimy critter before it gets too close to the clock.  You start with your basic slice of white bread, but you can change your weapon by shooting creates that appear from time to time on the screen.  Crates also help you unlock new weapons and outfits, so be sure to get as many as you can per level.

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There are 5 different worlds, each with nine levels to conquer.  You can just save the clock to beat a level, but in order to earn three stars you have to work at getting a nice high score.  In addition to the campaign mode there is an ironman survival mode where you have to play through all the levels in succession until you fail to save the clock.  This mode can only be beaten when you play through all 45 levels in a row without losing.  There are seven leaderboards to compete on: one for each world, one for all worlds combined and one for beating the ironman mode.  There are also 9 achievements to earn, and while this doesn’t sound like much some of them should prove to be quite a challenge.

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The graphics have an original Gameboy feel about them, though there is some color strewn throughout the levels.  The game does a decent job of making blocky look good.  The sound effects aren’t bad, but I do really like the music.  At first I thought there was a theme per level set, and there are definitely multiple themes, but I’m not sure if the music is chosen at random or there are just multiple themes per level set.  Either way the music is probably the best part of the aesthetics.

While I can’t say that I ever recall playing a game quite like this “back in the day”, Toast Time does an excellent job of capturing the feel of retro video games.  There are a decent number of levels to complete, plenty of weapons and outfits to unlock, and if you really get bored there’s the ironman survival mode to tackle.  All in all this is the perfect offering for those that enjoy the “simple to pick up, challenging to master” type of game.

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App Summary
Title: Toast Time Developer: Force Of Habit
Reviewed Ver: 1.01 Min OS Req: 5.1
Price: $2.99 App Size: 20.3 MB
  • Simple, challenging game play
  • Plenty to unlock
  • Nice retro visuals
  • Great music
  • Outfits don’t affect game play

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