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 Wed, 03 Feb 2016 17:15:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.13 Fire: Ungh’s Quest in Review – Not Your Typical Caveman Adventure http://www.touchmyapps.com/2016/02/03/fire-unghs-quest-in-review-not-your-typical-caveman-adventure/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2016/02/03/fire-unghs-quest-in-review-not-your-typical-caveman-adventure/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 17:15:54 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=75010 There were several adventure games in 2015 that stood out for one reason or another, but Fire: Ungh’s Quest was by far the most unusual one that still managed to be enjoyable.  A wacky plot, plenty of challenging puzzles and some crazy supporting characters has kept me engaged for the most part.  Unfortunately, the need … Read more]]>

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There were several adventure games in 2015 that stood out for one reason or another, but Fire: Ungh’s Quest was by far the most unusual one that still managed to be enjoyable.  A wacky plot, plenty of challenging puzzles and some crazy supporting characters has kept me engaged for the most part.  Unfortunately, the need for a walkthrough has been a bit of a turn off.  In the end though, helping Ungh recover his fire has been primarily been a rewarding experience.

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You are Ungh, and thanks to your inability to stay away you must set out on a quest to recover the fire that has fizzled under your watch.  That’s pretty much the plot as far as I can tell, since what little interaction you have with any NPCs is a simplified form of Sim-speak with just enough pictures to hopefully clue you in on what you need to do in a particular level.  I guess in that regards you might consider this more of a puzzle game with a common thread tying everything together, but given that you actually do see your character and there is interaction with other characters and items in the game, I think it’s fair to call it an adventure game.  Or, as the developers coin it in the iTunes description, a “PuzzleVenture”.

The game is made up of 10 unique areas, and I can truthfully say that you will not have encountered anything like most of the puzzles in this game anywhere else.  The creativity in this game is amazing.  The down side to that is for the first four levels I pretty much had to refer to a walkthrough at least once on each level.  As someone who loathes using walkthroughs unless I absolutely have to, that was a hard thing to have to do time and again, but there were solutions that I would have never come up with otherwise.  Needless to say if you’re not one to think outside the box, this might not be the game for you.  Now I’m purposely avoiding going into specifics of the puzzles because discovery is the highlight of this game, but I will tell you that there’s one level that’s more like an arcade game than a puzzle, so if you believe that dexterity and reflexes have no place in an adventure game you might have issues as well.

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The interface is pretty much tap to interact with an item on the screen or use one of the buttons in the lower corners to move between segments of an area.  I can’t think of a time where any alternate controls like pinch or drag are used.  That’s kind of a shame because given the wacky nature of the game it could have been even more creative and silly in some spots had the features of the device been relied upon, but it doesn’t really detract from the fun of the game.  The ultimate goal of each area is to collect and free the firefly like creature, but there are also three coins to earn on each level.  These coins allow you to unlock extras like “Fire-ized” illustrations of the staff and working sketches of game art, but more than that they show you’ve truly mastered all the hidden aspects of the game.  There are also several achievements to earn, but good luck understanding what many of them mean unless you can speak caveman.

The artwork in Fire is wonderful.  The iTunes description says it is hand painted and it certainly looks the part.  Better yet, when you see the characters and background in motion it looks like a cartoon.  Everything is nicely detailed and the character designs are great.  Not every level has music, but when there is music playing it is enjoyable to listen to and suits the atmosphere of the area quite well.  There is actually one area with a music based puzzle that is rather interesting.  The sound effects further strengthen the cartoon like quality of the aesthetics.

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Even within the adventure gaming community, Fire: Ungh’s Quest won’t be for everyone.  If you’re really adamant on a strong plot or a casual gamer when it comes to puzzles, you’ll probably get frustrated with Fire before long.  On the other hand, if you want a game that looks and sounds like a cartoon and has puzzles that make you think outside the box, you’ll definitely want to give this game a try.  Just make sure you have a guide from your favorite walkthrough site on hand in case you’re playing somewhere that doesn’t have internet.

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App Summary
Title: Fire: Ungh’s Quest Developer: EuroVideo Medien GmbH
Reviewed Ver: 1.1 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: $3.99 App Size: 333.44MB
  • Crazy, fun atmosphere
  • Lots of challenging puzzles
  • Cartoon like visuals
  • Sound and music enhance cartoon feeling
  • Lite on plot
  • Some puzzles a bit too obscure

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Note: I didn’t list this as a con or make reference to it in the main review because it’s not a knock on the game, but it tends to crash frequently on my device. However, I am running an “ancient” iPad 2, so I’m just thankful it ran at all. I just offer this up to those who might still be using an older device, because while it could run, it probably won’t run well.

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Air Attack 2 in Review – Sorry Sky Force, You’ve Been Replaced http://www.touchmyapps.com/2016/01/25/air-attack-2-in-review-sorry-sky-force-youve-been-replaced/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2016/01/25/air-attack-2-in-review-sorry-sky-force-youve-been-replaced/#comments Tue, 26 Jan 2016 04:26:50 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=75002 So how do you make a compelling scrolling shooter that works at all the right levels?  I could list a bunch of criteria here, but I figure I’ll just make this easy for both me and you and say “give Air Attack 2 a try”.  Much like Sky Force in 2014 (and much of 2015), … Read more]]>

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So how do you make a compelling scrolling shooter that works at all the right levels?  I could list a bunch of criteria here, but I figure I’ll just make this easy for both me and you and say “give Air Attack 2 a try”.  Much like Sky Force in 2014 (and much of 2015), Air Attack 2 will be the scrolling shooter to dethrone this year.  Between the extensive single player campaign and several special runs that allow you to compete against other players around the world, Air Attack 2 has plenty of game play to keep you busy.  And, while you might have to fly some missions over and over again to achieve all the goals, you’ll never get bored doing so.  If this is your type of game then you’ll want Air Attack 2 on your device right now.

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The thing about scrolling shooters is that no matter how detailed a story you try to give them, in the end all that matters is how effectively you can fly around blowing away everything in sight.  Just like its predecessor, Air Attack 2 makes sure this banal desire is front and center every time you fly a mission.  While you can’t blow up absolutely everything in the game, all the major bases are covered.  Want to destroy a building?  Go for it.  Feeling extremely ornery?  Take out a buoy or a streetlamp.  My personal favorite is dropping a bomb on a bridge to derail the oncoming train.  Of course none of this reflects how I am in real life, but that’s the whole point of games like this, right?

Anyway, the game has two main components: a multi-stage campaign and competitive missions.  If I’m counting correctly there are at least 20 missions in the campaign.  To move on to the next mission you must complete the current one, but to truly beat a mission you must complete the three goals.  The goals primarily revolve around destroying a certain number of something, though other goals might include achieving a certain score or collecting a designated number of silver stars.  Whatever the case is, most of these goals will require a deliberate effort to complete, and unless you’re an extremely skilled player you’ll need to play through these missions several times to finish everything.  The competitive missions are one off events where your score is ranked against anyone else playing the event.  The events last a day, and at the end of the 24 hour period you receive a reward based on how you ranked against other players.

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Controlling your plane is a simple matter of dragging your finger around the screen.  There is no tilt option, but the control works so smoothly I’m not sure it is necessary.  To drop a bomb you tap the screen, and to activate certain weapons you tap their corresponding icons at the bottom of the screen.  At times you’ll also switch to rear gunner mode, at which point you’ll just drag the crosshairs of the tail gun around the screen targeting anything you want to destroy.  During the course of play you’ll be able to collect stars which allow you to level up and coins that you can use to upgrade your plane.  There are four additional planes you can unlock using silver bars which are earned by defeating end bosses and leveling up, as well as reaching certain milestones on special runs and earning some achievements.  Overall there are plenty of ways to get rewarded and a lot of game play to keep you busy.

The game looks fabulous.  Everything is extremely well designed, and the detail can often distract you from your tasks.  Drop a bomb and watch nearby trees sway from the force of the explosion.  Buildings actually collapse when they are hit, and decimated planes (including your own) spiral to the ground when they’ve lost the battle.  I remember the original Air Attack being pretty sharp looking, but I’d say they actually upped the ante on this one.  The superb soundtrack does an excellent job of complementing the game play.  It sounds like music you might hear while watching an epic war movie, which is exactly what this game deserves.  The sound effects are nothing special, but at least they don’t get on your nerves like noises in this type of game sometimes can.

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We’ve been lucky to get a handful of really solid scrolling shooters on the iOS platform, and it seems like once a year we get one that rises above the rest.  Technically this game was released in December of 2015, and I realize it is way too early in the year to tell, but I have a good feeling that Air Attack 2 will be the leader of the pack in 2016.  And if it’s not, I can’t wait to see what will be.

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App Summary
Title: AirAttack 2 Developer: Art In Games
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 8.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 318.60MB
  • A ton of fun game play
  • Incredible visuals
  • Amazing soundtrack
  • Sometimes mission objectives don’t seem to complete correctly

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Myths of Orion: Light from the North HD in Review – Another Fine Myth from G5 http://www.touchmyapps.com/2016/01/01/myths-of-orion-hd-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2016/01/01/myths-of-orion-hd-in-review/#comments Sat, 02 Jan 2016 04:45:16 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74977 Myths Of Orion: Light from the North HD was the second to last hidden object game released by G5 in 2015, and it has been a pretty decent way for me to end out the year.  It hasn’t been my favorite title I’ve played over the past 12 months, but it has certainly been entertaining … Read more]]>

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Myths Of Orion: Light from the North HD was the second to last hidden object game released by G5 in 2015, and it has been a pretty decent way for me to end out the year.  It hasn’t been my favorite title I’ve played over the past 12 months, but it has certainly been entertaining working my way through the different lands in the game.  The story is interesting enough, though pretty standard for a fantasy game, and there are plenty of locations to explore and puzzles to solve.  I do wish the game would have been balanced more towards object puzzles than hidden object scenes or mini-games, but overall it wasn’t too skewed.  While G5 has stronger options in their collection, you could certainly do a lot worse than Myths Of Orion as well.

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You play the daughter of a sorceress that risked her life to steal some really powerful books from a mad wizard.  Now your mother is dead, your aunt’s house is on fire, and some weird cloaked beings have taken the three books from your possession.  Of course it’s up to you to get them back, as you can only assume the three goons are minions of the dastardly wizard.  In some way, shape or form you’ve probably seen this plot played out in a movie or TV show, but the developers still manage to make it pretty interesting.  Aside from your home area you’ll visit three different realms, and given the Orc, Human and Elf ancestries of the locations you might start to have flashbacks of Lord Of The Rings or Warcraft.  It’s all pretty familiar to the fantasy lover, but also a good reminder of why people like the fantasy genre.

As you might expect from the hidden object genre there are three basic types of game play: solving object based puzzles, searching for items in cluttered scenes of objects, and solving puzzle oriented mini-games.  The object based puzzles are subdivided into tasks that require one object to complete and tasks that require multiple objects to finish.  The latter take advantage of the nifty interface where you tap an item and a circle appears surrounded by silhouettes of all the objects required for that task.  Unfortunately it is sometimes difficult to tell what the objects are based solely on the silhouettes, though if you read the diary entries as you collect them the items are usually revealed that way.

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The hidden object scenes are basic in the sense that you only have to find objects; there are no mini-games to complete or objects to combine in order to reveal any secret objects.  The list of objects encompasses both text descriptions and silhouettes, and will either show multiple objects at once or one object at a time.  I’m not a big fan of the “one at a time” option because if you get stuck on a certain object you have no alternatives to search for in the mean time.  At least I haven’t had to skip any of these sequences yet, though it’s frustrating that you have to visit several of the scenes multiple times.

The mini-games, on the other hand, have been kind of a nuisance in my opinion.  For the most part they are derivatives of what I’ve seen in other games, and not very exciting variations at that.  When the games have been a bit different they have been frustrating, and in one instance I had to flat out skip the mini-game after wasting 20 minutes trying to solve it.  There was another one that I almost skipped as well, but thankfully I managed to complete it just when I was ready to throw in the towel.  It is okay if mini-games are challenging, but to me they should be mostly a diversion and never difficult enough to force the player to bypass them.  Thankfully I don’t care about the achievements, but if I did that would be a problem since one of them requires you to complete all of the mini-games without using the skip feature.

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This is not a collector’s edition, so there is no sequel or prequel short adventure, nor are there any wallpapers or concept art galleries or anything like that.  There was enough game play in the main story that no ancillary adventures are necessary, and personally I don’t care much about all that extra stuff anyway.  As mentioned above there are several achievements, but you’ll have to play through the game more than once to get them all, and be prepared to suffer through all of the mini-games in order to earn one of them.

At least the game holds up to G5’s generally high standards when it comes to the aesthetics.  The backgrounds are well drawn and nicely detailed, with little bits of animation here and there to keep everything from feeling too stagnant.  The characters you meet along the way are well rendered, and at least in the case of the orcs and goblin don’t hold strictly to the stereotypes of those races.  The sound effects are decent enough, and while the voices aren’t always what you’d expect given the characters you encounter the actors did a good job brining the various individuals to life.  The music is well written, and it does a nice job of staying in the background yet having moments where it catches your ear and sounds quite epic.

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Myths of Orion: Light from the North is worth playing if you’re a fan of G5’s catalog in particular or just hidden object games in general.  It’s not top tier, but it keeps its distance nicely from the bottom of the barrel.  Plenty of game play coupled with fine visuals and audio highlight the game’s strengths, while a less derivative story and better balance between individual game play elements would have pushed this offering closer to the top.  While we’re waiting to see what the new year will bring to this genre, Myths of Orion is a pretty decent choice for starting 2016 off.

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App Summary
Title: Myths of Orion: Light from the North HD Developer: G5 Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 7.0
Price: Free App Size: 536.85MB
  • Decent amount of game play
  • Excellent graphics
  • Well written, sometimes epic music
  • Fairly derivative fantasy story
  • Game play types not well balanced
  • Frustrating mini-games

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Party Gods in Review – Most Excellent, or a Bummer? http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/12/16/party-gods-in-review-most-excellent-or-a-bummer/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/12/16/party-gods-in-review-most-excellent-or-a-bummer/#comments Thu, 17 Dec 2015 03:58:30 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74956 Forget the multitude of Guitar Hero clones that are out there.  When it comes to rhythm based games I prefer something wacky and different, and Party Gods certainly delivers in that regards.  As I continually discover when I’m playing rhythm games, however, I apparently have no clue what a beat is.  My biggest frustration with … Read more]]>

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Forget the multitude of Guitar Hero clones that are out there.  When it comes to rhythm based games I prefer something wacky and different, and Party Gods certainly delivers in that regards.  As I continually discover when I’m playing rhythm games, however, I apparently have no clue what a beat is.  My biggest frustration with this game is that I am continually getting “Off Beat” messages even when I don’t think I am, which can really break your concentration.  Still, I like the general vibe that Party Gods exudes, and I think with a little refinement it could be something special within the category of rhythm games for iOS devices.

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You control one of three animal dancers, and your task is to rock to the music and defeat the bunny hordes.  The game actually has a slight bit of a story which is pretty silly yet adds to the overall charm of the game.  Playing the game is a simple matter of tapping a bunny on the screen on the beat of the song you are listening to.  Unlike most rhythm games you aren’t necessarily penalized for a missed tap or an off-beat blunder, but it does give you less time to make the right moves.  If one bunny gets to your dancer in the middle of the screen then it’s the last dance for you and you have to start over again.  There are three dancers to master altogether, and to get to the second and third dancers you must complete a certain percentage of a song with the previous dancer.

This is where the “unfortunately” part of the review comes in.  Sadly, this is really about all there is to the game.  Unlike most rhythm games I’ve played where you get a percentage rank per song, in Party Gods your percentage complete is by dancer, so if you’re skilled enough to get there you only have to do it three times, one for each participant.  There aren’t any stats either, which means you have no idea what your best songs are, or how many times you’ve tried each one or anything like that.  This all wouldn’t be quite as bad if there were some sort of way to compare your skills with other partiers, but alas that doesn’t exist either.  There are 5 achievements to earn, but you can’t even find out about those unless you exit the game and go into the dedicated Game Center app.  It just seems like the game needs to give the user more rewards for their efforts, especially when it comes to players like me that have no rhythm to begin with.

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The other big issue I have with this game is the music.  The video preview of the game is correct in saying that the music can induce toe-tapping, but I think that’s more due to skillful use of beats and rhythms.  Typically for this genre of game I tend to make comments like “normally I wouldn’t listen to this type of music but here it works”, but in this case I don’t even care for the music in the context of the game.  It all pretty much sounds the same to me, which becomes frustrating when I tap the shuffle button and it doesn’t sound like anything has changed.  As for the visuals, I like the overall design, but it has a weird 3D effect that actually becomes hard to look at after a while.  Add to that the “explosions” that occur when you tap a bunny, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell exactly what’s going on, especially when it comes to seeing other bunnies on the screen.

Party Gods has a lot of potential.  There’s a quirky plot, killer bunnies and a trio of animals that could dance a Saturday Night Fever induced John Travolta under the table.  It just seems like there’s not enough actual game in Party Gods right now.  A more diverse soundtrack wouldn’t hurt anything either.

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App Summary
Title: Party Gods Developer: Chopsticks Games
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 7.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 66.87MB
  • Silly plot involving killer bunnies
  • Unique game play for rhythm based games
  • Stand-out visual style
  • Not much reward for your efforts
  • Visuals can be kind of hard to stare at for extended periods
  • Didn’t care much for the music

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Frankenstein: Master Of Death in Review – New Twist On An Old Tale http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/12/14/frankenstein-master-of-death-in-review-new-twist-on-an-old-tale/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/12/14/frankenstein-master-of-death-in-review-new-twist-on-an-old-tale/#comments Mon, 14 Dec 2015 23:08:20 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74935 I’ve been addicted to hidden object adventure games ever since I first played one, but in the mobile world I’ve focused primarily on the offerings from G5 Entertainment and Big Fish Games.  It’s not that other developers or publishers don’t release such games, but typically they don’t have nearly the production values from the “big … Read more]]>

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I’ve been addicted to hidden object adventure games ever since I first played one, but in the mobile world I’ve focused primarily on the offerings from G5 Entertainment and Big Fish Games.  It’s not that other developers or publishers don’t release such games, but typically they don’t have nearly the production values from the “big two” of hidden object games, and quite frankly are often not all that fun.  There are exceptions, however, and as you’ve probably guessed Frankenstein: Master Of Death is such an exception.  This retelling of one of the most classic monster stories hooks you from the very beginning and doesn’t let go until the final confrontation – and while you know before the end what you’re dealing with you’ll be surprised when the reveal is first made.  If you’re looking for an independently published hidden object game worthy of appearing in the catalog of one of the major players, this is just such a game.

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In this telling of the seminal story of man versus his own creation you play a friend of Viktor Frankenstein’s who has been called to his estate to help him and his wife deal with an undead problem.  Once you get there the story unfolds via dialog with other characters and recordings you find while you traverse three different areas comprised of several locations each.  While the basic elements of the Frankenstein lore are certainly present, it has a nice little twist that sets it apart from any interpretation I’ve seen before.  It’s not an incredibly deep story, but it was certainly enough to keep me intrigued until the very end.

Game play is comprised of the standard trifecta for this style of game: object based puzzles, mini-games and hidden object screens.  Traipsing between rooms is cut down immensely thanks to an interactive map, and if you play on the easy mode the rooms are even marked if there is still something to do in them or if they have been completed.  However, you can still navigate the old fashioned way by tapping doorways to move to alternate locations.  At least there is a nice back button when there’s no obvious path leading to the room you just came from.

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There’s a nice balance between the three different types of game play.  You can toggle between basic and advanced mode at any time during play, which I did quite a bit mostly for the sake of having the markings on the map.  I didn’t really notice any difference in the difficulty level of the various mini-games between the two different modes – for the most part they were pretty easy, and I never felt like I had to skip any of them.  There were a couple of times where it was actually a bit difficult to manipulate the objects in a mini-game, however.  I had the same issue with the hidden object screens as well.  Every one of the hidden object screens had at least one or two items that needed to be dragged around, and it was often hard to get a hold of them.  What I did like about the hidden object screens, on the other hand, was that almost all of them had a little mini-game in order to reveal one of the objects you needed to find.

Being an adventure game, the primary objective is to complete the story for what hopefully ends up being a satisfactory finale.  There are no extras here like a bonus chapter or extra artwork or anything like that, but for me the main adventure was enjoyable enough that I didn’t need any of the extra fluff.  While the game does offer to difficulty settings, I’m not sure there’s enough difference between them to warrant playing through the game twice.  The game does offer 20 achievements that you can earn, but as with any other adventure game that offers this feature I question the need for such a thing.  The game also allows for multiple profiles, so folks that share an iDevice can all enjoy the adventure at the same time.

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Master of Death has some of the best graphics I’ve seen in a hidden object game outside of those offered by the big players.  Everything is incredibly well drawn, the hidden object scenes are visually challenging but not inordinately cluttered, and the few characters that you run into are nicely designed and well animated, which tends not to happen a lot in this style of adventure game.  The sound effects really help bring the game to life, and the voiceovers were well done.  The music suits the atmosphere of the game and is enjoyable to listen to.

Frankenstein: Master of Death is a great example of what a well rounded hidden object game should look like.  An interesting story, well balanced game play and wonderful aesthetics make this quite the appealing package.  Sure, those of you that need that “little bit extra” from Collector’s Editions might feel a bit cheated.  And it does get frustrating sometimes when the objects don’t respond to your touch quite as well as you’d like.  But for the most part Master of Death is everything you’d want from a mobile hidden object adventure.

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App Summary
Title: Frankenstein: Master of Death Developer: JetDogs
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.2 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: $1.99 App Size: 911.98MB
  • Interesting story
  • Well balanced game play
  • Nice interactive map
  • Grade “A” visuals
  • Excellent music and sound effects
  • Sometimes interacting with items can be difficult
  • No “collector’s edition” style extras

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Agent A: A Puzzle In Disguise in Review: Spying Is Cool Again http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/12/05/agent-a-a-puzzle-in-disguise-in-review-spying-is-cool-again/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/12/05/agent-a-a-puzzle-in-disguise-in-review-spying-is-cool-again/#comments Sun, 06 Dec 2015 02:05:43 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74927 Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take on the role of Agent A and help track down the nefarious Ruby LaRouge.  Is the game full of cliché?  Yeah.  But that’s part of the charm.  Whether intentionally or not this game pays homage to the greats like James Bond and Get Smart, … Read more]]>

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Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take on the role of Agent A and help track down the nefarious Ruby LaRouge.  Is the game full of cliché?  Yeah.  But that’s part of the charm.  Whether intentionally or not this game pays homage to the greats like James Bond and Get Smart, with an attitude akin to modern classics such as Carmen Sandiego.  There was never a moment where I felt like banging my head on the wall, though at times things felt a bit too easy, but in the end it was all orchestrated in such a way that I never wanted to put it down.  There are a few stellar examples of tap and click genius among the horde of Hidden Object variants, and Agent A is certainly one of them.

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All you have to do is infiltrate Ruby’s lair and bring her in.  Sounds like a piece of cake, right?  Well, it seems that for some odd reason Ruby just doesn’t want to be brought in, though you might not know it given that she seems to leave all the tools necessary to capture her at your disposal… as long as you can interpret the clues, crack the codes and solve all the puzzles.  There’s plenty of that to do, because even though you’ll pretty easily conquer individual trials the game still takes more than an hour to play.  While I’m certainly not an advocate of puzzles that make you tear your hair out, especially since mine is already turning grey, I would have liked to have seen at least a few puzzles that were a bit more challenging.  That’s probably my biggest gripe with the game.

The game does offer some object based puzzles, which usually require you to unlock something so you can get yet another key or play a mini-game to advance even further.  The mini-games are a nice variety of puzzles that you’ve probably played in some manner in another game somewhere, but they are presented in such a way that they make sense with the whole 60’s spy vibe the game exudes.  There were a couple of times where it felt like you were simply randomly pushing items until the answer fell in place, and then there were a couple of occasions where I was pretty impressed with the way the puzzle was engineered.  I particularly like how the developer handled your character having to retrieve the key from the shark tank.  I think that was my favorite puzzle in the game.

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The interface was basically a combination of tap and drag.  Tapping allows you to move between locations (with a convenient “back” button when there is no immediate place to advance to within the scene) and is also used for zooming in to a particular area or for picking up items.  To use an inventory item you drag it onto the area where you want to use it, and there were a few other instances where you might use a drag or rotating motion to accomplish something.  It would have been nice to see the game take a bit more advantage of some of the iDevice features like pinching or the gyroscope, but maybe that will come in episode 2.  Sadly once you’ve completed the game there’s not much replay value, but there are six achievements to earn if you need that sort of thing in an adventure game.

As if it wasn’t already an incredible enough package, what really pushes Agent A over the top is the audio / visual presentation.  Sure I’ve played other iOS adventure games with stellar graphics, but it’s not just that everything looks great in Agent A.  The overall style of the visuals is unique and alluring.  Add on to that all the nice little details and abundant animation and I would say this is one of the best looking adventure games I’ve played on my mobile device to date.  The game’s no slouch when it comes to sound effects either.  Whether it’s one off actions like turning a key or ambient background noise such as a crackling fire or trickling waterfall, everything sounds just right.  The voiceovers are well done too.  I also like the background music, though it would be nice if you could make it just a bit louder independently of the sound effects.

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If you are an adventure game fan, Agent A is a game not to be missed.  While there’s nothing particularly challenging about the game, there’s enough content that it feels like a complete, fully fleshed out episode.  The puzzles were fun, the 60’s spy atmosphere as a great change of pace from the typical fantasy, sci-fi or horror backdrops that permeate most adventure games, and the audio and visual elements of the game were top notch.  I can’t wait to see what the developer has in store for the sequel.

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App Summary
Title: Agent A: A puzzle in disguise Developer: Yak & co
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 7.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 88.30MB
  • Great spy theme
  • Plenty of puzzles to solve
  • Unique visual style
  • Excellent audio
  • Not much challenge

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Tiny Rogue in Review – Fun Mobile Rogue-Like (But No Small Packages Jokes Here) http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/12/03/tiny-rogue-in-review-fun-mobile-rogue-like-but-no-small-packages-jokes-here/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/12/03/tiny-rogue-in-review-fun-mobile-rogue-like-but-no-small-packages-jokes-here/#comments Fri, 04 Dec 2015 02:17:53 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74912 With the somewhat rogue-like Devious Dungeon series under their belt, I was kind of surprised to see Ravenous Games release another rogue-like game.  However, Tiny Rogue is a decidedly different game than that other series, and so far I quite like it.  The game utilizes a more traditional top down perspective, and random everything makes … Read more]]>

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With the somewhat rogue-like Devious Dungeon series under their belt, I was kind of surprised to see Ravenous Games release another rogue-like game.  However, Tiny Rogue is a decidedly different game than that other series, and so far I quite like it.  The game utilizes a more traditional top down perspective, and random everything makes it feel like a completely fresh experience every time.  The single screen layouts are also easier to navigate and much more manageable for an on the go experience.  For me this has been a great portable rogue-like experience.

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There’s not really a plot to this game, but I’m pretty sure you won’t miss that fact.  You do start out each game with a quest, but all that does is toss some extra points your way if you end up completing it.  Don’t worry, either, because the “quest” is usually something simple like finding a treasure chest or rescuing a princess.  That’s assuming, of course, you can actually make it to the level where the quest item is to be found.  You might have to sweat the “defeat the dragon” quest a little bit, though, depending on how well you’ve built up your character up to that point.

The main objective of each play through is to traverse as many levels in the dungeon as you can before the monsters overwhelm you.  Each level is randomly generated every time, both in layout and content.  The one thing you can be sure of is that after the first couple of levels there will be plenty of opponents, and there are usually at least a couple of items for you to pick up on each level.  There are a variety of creatures, and they all have their own fighting tactics.  Some can attack you at long range, others get more than one move at a time, and some just won’t stay dead.  You’ll have to learn all of their tricks so that you can take them out in the most efficient manner with the least damage to yourself.

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Luckily you get one heart restored to you when you complete a level, and you can also pick up health potions along the way to restore your much needed life.  Other pickups include extra throwing daggers, offensive spells like fireball and freeze and defensive measures like teleportation and the ability to skip a turn.  As you slay monsters you’ll earn experience points, and eventually you’ll advance to a new skill level.  At that point you’ll be able to choose from one of three enhancements, which can include more space in your inventory, extra umph with your attacks or even an additional heart.  Part of what makes the game so interesting is that these three choices are random every time, so you’re more or less forced to choose a unique strategy for building up your character with each play through the game.

Maneuvering through the levels is a simple matter of swiping in the direction you wish to move.  If there’s a monster standing next to you in said direction you’ll automatically attack that monster.  To use an item from your inventory you tap on it, and then depending on the item you’ll either tap on yourself or a target creature or you’ll swipe towards the creature you wish to affect.  The interface is basic and effective, though it would be nice if once everything was cleared away you could just tap the exit to go to the next level instead of having to swipe one move at a time.  Tiny Rogue offers one leaderboard based on total score for a single run through as well as 17 achievements to earn.

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Due to the unique perspective employed in Tiny Rogue versus most of Ravenous Games’ other efforts the visuals do look a bit different, but in this case that’s a good thing.  They still have the pixel-y goodness we’ve come to expect from the Ravenous Games catalog, and people can’t accuse Tiny Rogue of looking just like everything else the company has done.  The audio is also different than their other games, but here it’s not as favorable.  The sound effects are kind of bland compared to the Devious Dungeon games, and unlike those games where there was an effort to have a variety of noises everything sounded basically the same here.  Also, I’m pretty sure the music was just a slight variant on the theme from those games, which was a bit disappointing.  Not that it’s a bad song, but it would have been nice if Tiny Rogue had original music.

If you have this apprehension that all Ravenous Games offerings feel the same, which I’ve read on more than one occasion in various forums, I think you’ll be pleased with Tiny Rogue.  The overhead perspective gives it a decidedly different look than all of their side scrolling affairs, and the turn based movement separates it from a standard platform game.  The random nature of everything allows for infinite replays, and the simple control scheme works quite well on touch screen device.  The sound could use a bit of sprucing up and a quick exit feature on a given level would be nice, but otherwise Tiny Rogue is another top notch Ravenous Games adventure.

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App Summary
Title: Tiny Rogue Developer: Ravenous Games Inc.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 36.51MB
  • Simple, mobile friendly game play
  • Randomly generated everything keeps game fresh
  • Cool pixel graphics
  • Needs “express route” to level exits
  • Audio is lacking

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Lost Souls: Timeless Fables Collector’s Edition HD in Review – Didn’t Really Get Lost In This One http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/11/13/lost-souls-timeless-fables-collectors-edition-hd-in-review-didnt-really-get-lost-in-this-one/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/11/13/lost-souls-timeless-fables-collectors-edition-hd-in-review-didnt-really-get-lost-in-this-one/#comments Fri, 13 Nov 2015 13:02:34 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74883 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]]>

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/11/06/dub-dash-in-review-the-beat-rolls-on/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/11/06/dub-dash-in-review-the-beat-rolls-on/#comments Sat, 07 Nov 2015 03:32:19 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74868 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]]>

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/11/03/gabriel-knight-sins-of-the-fathers-in-review-rose-colored-glasses-might-be-required/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/11/03/gabriel-knight-sins-of-the-fathers-in-review-rose-colored-glasses-might-be-required/#comments Wed, 04 Nov 2015 06:22:46 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74859 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]]>

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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 http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/10/24/dodo-master-in-review-dont-be-a-dodo-and-miss-this-one/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/10/24/dodo-master-in-review-dont-be-a-dodo-and-miss-this-one/#comments Sun, 25 Oct 2015 05:49:07 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74823 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]]>

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/10/07/the-lost-ship-in-review-unfortunately-its-a-short-search/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/10/07/the-lost-ship-in-review-unfortunately-its-a-short-search/#comments Thu, 08 Oct 2015 03:18:47 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74793 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]]>

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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