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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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Devious Dungeon in Review: Random, Side Scrolling Fun Thu, 13 Aug 2015 11:53:48 +0000 Ravenous Games is probably best known for their League Of Evil series, which is definitely an entertaining collection of platform games.  Personally, though, I actually get more enjoyment from Devious Dungeon.  Sporting the same cool pixel graphics as most of their other offerings, Devious Dungeon is a side scrolling rogue-like that provides random level generation, … Read more]]>


Ravenous Games is probably best known for their League Of Evil series, which is definitely an entertaining collection of platform games.  Personally, though, I actually get more enjoyment from Devious Dungeon.  Sporting the same cool pixel graphics as most of their other offerings, Devious Dungeon is a side scrolling rogue-like that provides random level generation, loot collection and stat and weapon upgrades without all the hardcore stuff like needing to eat or weapons that get worn out and break.  It seems like the type of game that should get old after a while, yet every time I go back to play it I’m just as captivated as the time before.


The plot is pretty basic – go down in the catacombs and clear them out.  In a game like this it works just fine because the lack of plot makes it real easy to pick up and play for a few minutes or a couple of hours, depending on your mood at the time.  The mechanics are equally simple.  Arrows allow you to move left and right, while two buttons provide you with the ability to jump and swing your sword.  It’s just enough to give you something to do without having to worry about forgetting all the commands or special moves between sessions.  The controls work quite well and make even the tightest of jumps fairly easy to execute.

So what exactly do you do in Devious Dungeon?  Well, your primary business is to slay lots of monsters and collect a bunch of loot.  Killing monsters gets you some experience and some coins, assuming you can catch them.  You also get coins from various statues and crates littered throughout the levels, so make sure you take out everything that you can destroy.  Most levels even contain a hidden area where you’ll find either a chest full of gems that earn you lots of coin or a tome that gives you a large amount of XP.  I really like the fact that as you level up the tomes increase in the amount of experience they give you, even if you go back and play earlier levels.  I also appreciate the fact that the game encourages you to explore every nook and cranny of a level, despite the fact that you might have found the key that opens the exit portal.


Like most RPG style games, experience helps you level up.  When you gain a level you get one point to spend on stamina, strength or dexterity.  You can also buy potions that permanently increase certain stats as well as amulets and rings that bolster your stats as long as you’re wearing them.  And of course there are weapons and armor that fortify your attack and defense capabilities respectively.  I find it interesting that unlike most games where you can have multiple types of say a weapon or armor that do different things for you, in Devious Dungeon each object tree (weapon, armor, amulet and ring) is linear, with the next unlocked item is always better than the previous one.  The only question you have to answer at that point is which tree do you unlock the next rung in first?  In addition to simply completing the game there are 24 achievements to earn via Game Center as well as plenty of quests to complete which reward you with additional gold.  There is certainly plenty to keep you busy in Devious Dungeon.

If you’ve played any of the Ravenous Games offerings, especially from the League Of Evil series, then you know what to expect from the graphics, and Devious Dungeon does not disappoint.  Of course even if you’re just a pixel art lover you’ll be able to appreciate the crisp foreground objects and subdued backgrounds.  The characters are well rendered, and larger versions of creatures don’t just feel like resized sprites.  Even the main character goes through visual changes as you swap armor and swords.  The sound effects are decent, and while the individual creatures could use some distinct noises, you’ll always know when a particular ranged attacker is firing.  I also like the fact that wooden versus metallic objects make different sounds when you crush them.  The only thing that’s really missing aesthetically is a diversified soundtrack.  The music isn’t bad, but there appear to be only two main songs: one for all of the levels and another for when you visit Olaf’s camp to buy weapons or get healed.


I’ve read in the past where people have felt that all of Ravenous Games’ offerings start to feel similar after a while, but honestly other than the jumping mechanic, Devious Dungeon provides a completely different experience from League Of Evil and really from most of their other games.  The random dungeons, myriad of quests and multitude of upgrades to collect give you plenty to do, and even in the sometimes tediousness the simplicity of the game incubates it never really gets boring.  Despite not actually being devious, Devious Dungeon is certainly plenty of fun.


App Summary
Title: Devious Dungeon Developer: Ravenous Games Inc.
Reviewed Ver: 1.1 Min OS Req:  iOS 5.0
Price: $1.99 App Size: 41.93MB
  • Lots of levels to conquer and loot
  • Plenty of quests to complete
  • Simple, effective control scheme
  • Great pixel visuals
  • Can get tedious at times
  • Needs a more diversified soundtrack


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Red Game Without A Great Name in Review: At Least The Game Is Great Fri, 07 Aug 2015 14:23:50 +0000 Red Game Without A Great Name suffers from one major problem: it doesn’t have a good name.  I’m assuming this isn’t a turn-off for those of you that are already reading this, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be wasting your time in the first place.  I’m afraid it might prevent many from trying this game, however, … Read more]]>


Red Game Without A Great Name suffers from one major problem: it doesn’t have a good name.  I’m assuming this isn’t a turn-off for those of you that are already reading this, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be wasting your time in the first place.  I’m afraid it might prevent many from trying this game, however, which would be an absolute shame.  This game is unique, challenging and often makes me want to pull my hair out.  Unlike something along the lines of Flappy Bird, though, this frustration is completely worth it.


Your task is simply to deliver a secret message, and just like the fabled postmen you must complete that task regardless of rain, sleet, snow… well, you get the picture.  Of course so far weather hasn’t actually played a factor in the game, but maybe that will be coming eventually.  It’s not like the game needs it, given the extreme challenges the game already provides.  You see, in order to get the mail where it needs to go you’ve devised a rather clever mechanical bird that can teleport from one spot to another.  The problem is that aside from the teleporting the bird is constantly in motion, and it’s always travelling the same direction unless something causes it to do otherwise.  Oh, and did I mention the level is moving as well?

This constant movement turns the game into an interesting combination of reaction and memorization, and even when you know the level like the back of your hand there’s still no guarantee that you’ll pull a move off the same way twice.  Naturally there are also all of the standard obstacles like walls that simply stop your movement (but not the level’s), barbed wire strands that stop you permanently, and gates that try to crush you.  Occasionally things will pop up to alter your journey, like jets that change your direction, gas clouds that cause you to speed up and glowing masses that give you the power to destroy cracked walls.  When it comes to these “aids”, the trick is in determining when they are useful and when they will just make your trip harder.  I will give you a hint: usually the cracked walls are either hiding something or give you a bit of protection from danger, so be sure to check each of those out at least once.


To teleport the bird you simply drag a line from it to where you want it to go.  Conceptually this is a great idea and more often than not it works fine, but when you’re in a hurry to make your next move it’s easy to accidentally not select the bird, in which case any dragging you’re doing is worthless.  Also, while the line drawing method is good for more lengthy movements, it’s not great for small, precision tweaks in your flight path.  Each level has three cogs to collect, and if you’re like me and gotta have them all then you’ll probably drive yourself nuts on some levels trying to get the one that’s in a tight spot.  The game also keeps track of your deaths on each level, so once you’ve gotten all the cogs you can go back and try and better that ranking if you wish.  The game is even kind enough to record a video of all your attempts in a given run, so you can depress yourself even more when you realize you managed to kill yourself 33 times in just under seven minutes!

The visuals are great. While it’s not all about red like one might expect given the name, there’s definitely a limited color palette.  This combined with the simpler yet still detailed shadow like design of the graphics makes for a rather appealing and slick looking world.  The one issue I have is that sometimes things are so dark that it’s hard to tell what’s going on, which can make already challenging areas much more difficult.  The sound effects aren’t bad, though I do get tired of hearing the screech the bird makes when it dies after a while.  The music is easy to listen to and has a nice, jazzy beat to it.


Red Game Without A Great Name has two potentially off-putting issues for casual gamers: it can be insanely difficult at times, and the simple controls often feel problematic.  Unlike so many other games on the App Store today, though, the difficulty is tempered by the fact that there are levels you can actually finish, giving you a real sense of accomplishment.  Combine that with a fresh game mechanic and some cool graphics design and you have a great entry in whatever genre you wish to label this as.


App Summary
Title: Red Game Without A Great Name Developer: iFun4all
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.3 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 94.70MB
  • Refreshing game mechanics
  • 60 levels to conquer
  • Great visuals
  • Jazzy, upbeat music
  • Levels can get really frustrating
  • Controls don’t work well for pinpoint accuracy
  • Sometimes visuals can be too dark


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