TouchMyApps 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 Fire: Ungh’s Quest in Review – Not Your Typical Caveman Adventure Wed, 03 Feb 2016 17:15:54 +0000 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]]>


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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 Tue, 26 Jan 2016 04:26:50 +0000 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]]>


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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10 App Store Games To Watch [1/23/16] Sat, 23 Jan 2016 22:09:43 +0000 Welcome to my first roundup of 2016.  Of course you wouldn’t necessarily know it given the release dates of some of my choices, but with all the games I go through each week it’s often easy to overlook certain gems for a long time.  The way I figure it, as long as they are still … Read more]]>


Welcome to my first roundup of 2016.  Of course you wouldn’t necessarily know it given the release dates of some of my choices, but with all the games I go through each week it’s often easy to overlook certain gems for a long time.  The way I figure it, as long as they are still available in the App Store they are still worth looking into, and that’s certainly the case for the oldest game on my list, Icycle: On Thin Ice.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that the game just received 7 new levels at the end of last year to complete the game’s story.  At any rate, as usual I hope you find something on this list that appeals to you, as I’ve had fun exploring each and every one of these games.


Chicken Scramble [9/3/14] – I’m not sure how come I’m just getting around to this game, but Chicken Scramble is the reason I love the fact that anyone can dump something on the App Store.  After the first level or two I was ready to give up because it was “just another 2048 clone”, but now almost 20 levels later I’m still at it.  This time around you’re trying to turn an egg into a chicken (apparently the egg came first), and while it starts off simple enough the game throws plenty of challenges at you eventually.  The board is constantly shifting in size and shape.  Instead of just going for as long as you can each level has a goal for the number of chickens you have to collect, and the number either grows or requires more complex chickens to be created.  Then the game starts throwing in things like bails of hay that take several matches to remove, rocks that can only be taken out if you use your limited supply of cranes, and tiles that are the only places on a board which will produce eggs (in other words, keep those tiles empty).  Thankfully you’ll also get tiles that double your chickens when you make the final chicken on them.  You can also undo your last move or fill every empty tile with an egg – both limited power ups, of course.  There are three stars to earn on each level, stickers to collect for reaching certain milestones, and Facebook connectivity so you can compete with your friends and trade lives when necessary.

Chicken Scramble Lager Network, Chicken Scramble – Free


Swing [1/6/16] – This is the latest offering from Ketchapp.  They remind me of a few other companies that seem to primarily turn out variants of whatever the game du jour of the moment is.  In their case, however, they usually put some sort of spin on it that makes the game feel fresh compared to its contemporaries.  In the case of Swing, while it has its root in those games where you have to create a ladder or bridge to cross a chasm, in this case you’re stretching out a rope so you can swing across.  While that may be a niggling point, it gives the game a slightly different look, and it does allow for scenarios where you need to walk back far enough that you can no longer see the platform you’re trying to reach.  The other interesting factor is that unlike most games of this type, the platforms are quite often of different heights, so it’s possible to stretch the rope to what seems like a sufficient length and still come up short in the end.  There are gems you can collect on the pillars (apparently only by hitting them on the upswing), and you can also earn them through periodic gifts or by watching movies.  For the impatient players, IAP is an option as well.  The gems let you buy new characters, which don’t affect game play but might look cooler depending on your preferences.  There are 17 achievements to earn, and a leaderboard that while quite populated does not appear to have been corrupted yet.

Swing Ketchapp, Swing – Free


Rogue Saga [11/9/15] – Visually the game looks a bit like Minecraft, at least where the characters are concerned, but the iTunes description makes sure to point out that Rogue Saga is not, in fact, like the uber popular world builder.  That’s a good thing, because that’s not what I want to play anyway!  As its name somewhat implies, Rogue Saga is a rouge-like game.  You’ll wander randomly generated dungeons slaying creatures, gathering loot and increasing one of three stats as your character levels up.  The game uses a dual HP-hunger system for health, and when your health reaches 0 you will achieve perma-death.  You can rest to regain HP, but that just makes you hungry quicker, so your best bet it to eat some food which will both boost HP and satiate some of your hunger.  Thankfully your equipment doesn’t wear out as well, or at least I haven’t run into that problem yet.  On your journey you’ll encounter cubes that might give you goods or scrolls, cubes that might heal you or even might reveal all of the unidentified scrolls that you’re carrying.  There are shops where you can buy and sell goods and cubes that allow you to craft items.  Unfortunately, while this is potentially one of the coolest parts of the game it’s not really explained at the moment, so hopefully it will come with some guidance in future updates.  There’s even a leaderboard so you can compete with others to see who can navigate the most levels in one run and 20 achievements for you to earn.

Rogue Saga Jinwoo Park, Rogue Saga – $1.99


Bouncy Pong [1/6/16] – I’ll admit I can be a bit judgmental at times, and when I first saw Bouncy Pong I wondered why Bulkypix would publish a game like this.  After spending a bit of time with it, however, I know understand their decision.  While the game is by no means revolutionary it has a small footprint, it plays well on older devices (I’m running an iPad 2), and it quickly becomes pretty addictive.  The ball is constantly moving, and all you have to do is tap left or right to nudge it in the appropriate direction.  Your goal is to navigate all the platforms, avoid deadly objects like spikes and gears, and ultimately reach the star on each screen.  Your points are determined by the number of rooms you pass, which doesn’t necessarily correspond to the number of screens you’ve completed (a screen can have multiple rooms).  You’ll also earn an unnamed currency that you can use to unlock new avatars.  There are plenty of those to add to your collection, and while they don’t affect game play in any way some of them look pretty cool.  There are currently only 50 levels, which is plenty for someone like me but might go by quickly for a seasoned player.  Game Center integration exists, but right now it only offers one achievement and a leaderboard that doesn’t seem to register any scores.  Hopefully that will be cleaned up in an update.  For a Bulkypix offering this should be a bit more polished, and at the moment it seems a bit lite on content, but this could become quite the casual game with some more attention from the developers.

Bouncy Pong ● Bulkypix, Bouncy Pong ● – Free


Starseed: Origin [9/14/15] – Starseed is an “old school” scrolling shooter, at least in regards to the visuals.  While I like the overall concept of the looks, I think they might have gone a bit too far with the pixelized overtone.  It certainly doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the game, however.  Instead of the typical scenario where you have to fly through several varied locations, in Starseed you simply have to take out 9 dreadnaughts.  Of course the ships are guarded by wave after wave of ship that would like nothing better than to blow you away, and once the shields are down you have several distinct targets to take out before a dreadnaught is conquered.  Even once the battleship has been destroyed you have to dodge large bits of debris to make a safe escape.  The first time you beat a dreadnaught you’ll unlock a new ship, and you’ll want to stay with the latest as they usually tend to be the greatest.  In fact, once you get a new ship you might consider revisiting levels you did poorly on, because one interesting feature of this game is that you always start a particular level with however many lives you finished the previous level.  The game offers 19 achievements to earn and 10 leaderboards for you to climb your way to the top of, and there’s certainly plenty of replay value in crunching through the levels to try and get a better score or more lives for a particularly tough level you haven’t completed.

Starseed: Origin Crescent Moon Games, Starseed: Origin – $0.99


Oddwings Escape [5/13/15] – This game is like Flappy Bird on steroids.  Instead of a simple tap to fly and release to fall, you actually get to guide your birds with a simple drag mechanism.  The farther your finger is from your avatar, the faster you’ll go.  You start out with one fine feathered friend and can unlock seven more, each having a unique ability aside from the one you start with.  Each flier also has four stats that you can upgrade with the coins you collect along the way.  The game is comprised of an infinite level that is both required for unlocking other levels and a good way of racking up coins and keys, the two currencies used in the game.  There are also several levels that have multiple goals to complete as well as levels where you can race against other players to win trophies and other prizes.  There is only one leaderboard through Game Center at this point, but you can also connect with your friends via Facebook.  The goal oriented levels are small enough that playing through them several times to achieve all the goals is no big deal, and the infinite levels are designed with plenty of hidden areas to find if you want to explore a bit.  You can have all of your Flappy Bird clones – I’ll take Oddwings Escape over them any day.

Oddwings Escape Small Giant Games, Oddwings Escape – Free


Snip and Chu – The Game [12/26/14] – Much like its predecessor Game of Watchcraft, Snip and Chu has the look of an old LCD game with a bit of a modern feel to it.  This time around you play Chu, a crime fighting piece of gum that must rescue his partner Snip (who just happens to be a toenail).  The screen is split in two to look like an old handheld unit, but the action takes place all on one physical iPad screen.  There are several obstacles standing between you and your partner, and every third time you reach him the board will reset and get even harder.  Game Center offers a leaderboard and 11 achievements to earn, and of course there’s the challenge of simply seeing how many times you can pass through the board and rescue Snip.  The game can get repetitive after a while, but the simple controls, ever more challenging board and great LCD-like visuals make it worth revisiting for a few minutes every once in a while.

Snip and Chu - The Game Clicker, Snip and Chu – The Game – $0.99


Icycle: On Thin Ice [11/26/13] – I know this is already more than two generations old in iOS terms, but I’ve just recently gotten the chance to play it and really felt it was worth passing on to my readers.  The game starts off with an intro that’s some weird combination of James Bond and Benny Hill and just goes uphill from there.  Well, uphill, downhill, around the hill and sometimes into the dreams of a fish.  If you’re into platform games than you’ll definitely appreciate the truly twisted designs on some of the levels that inhabit Dennis’ world.  There are 20 base levels, 7 recently added levels to complete the odd tale, and 8 levels from the original Icycle game that can be unlocked by earning 80 snowflakes.  Each level has 4 missions to complete, which is how you earn the aforementioned flakes.  You can also collect ice cubes which allow you to buy clothing and upgrade your vacuum cleaner and umbrella.  The former is this world’s version of a magnet for attracting cubes to you while the latter lets you float instead of fall, potentially easing you past some dangerous obstacles.  In addition to all of the missions Icycle offers 11 achievements and a leaderboard via Game Center.  I just wish it wouldn’t have taken me so long to discover one of the most intriguing platform games on the iOS platform.

Icycle: On Thin Ice Chillingo Ltd, Icycle: On Thin Ice – $2.99


Smurfs Epic Run [1/14/16] – I grew up with the Smurfs, but I honestly never expected to see much of a resurgence in the brand.  Now with two movies under their belt in recent years they seem to be invading the mobile universe, and unlike their previous Farmville knock-off, Epic Run is actually a pretty fun game.  In this spirited adventure you must help rescue the Smurfs from an evil fog that has been sent by Gargamel.  You start with the equivalent of the red shirted crew member from Star Trek, but over time you’ll unlock various specific Smurfs that you’ll recognize if you’re familiar with the legacy.  Each legendary Smurf has a special ability that can help you in certain situations.  You can also buy rings, artifacts and companions, all of which aid you in some way or another.  Complete challenges from Papa Smurf to earn coins and gems, and work towards the 71 achievements that Game Center has to offer as well.  There are also 4 leaderboards in Game Center, as well as weekly tournaments to compete in if you connect via Facebook.  If you log in every day for a month you can even unlock the most sought after Smurf of all, Papa Smurf himself.

Smurfs Epic Run Ubisoft, Smurfs Epic Run – Free


Century City [4/21/15] – Do you have a short attention span?  Do you need to be rewarded immediately and continually for your actions?  If so, then Century City is just the game for you.  At its base level Century City is a Sim City style game where you have to build up a town starting with nothing but a piece of land.  You’ll buy and upgrade buildings, at least one of which provides a mini-game for you to play.  More importantly, however, the buildings provide you with income, which in turn lets you build and upgrade more buildings.  There’s also a yacht that comes by from time to time to let you earn some extra cash as well as the occasional visit from Santa who delivers you a gift of some sort.  The other aspect of the game is mining for gold.  This is a great way to supplement your income, and if you’re ambitious you’ll probably make a lot more money doing this than waiting for your buildings to throw money your way.  Tap as quickly as you can with as many fingers as possible and you’ll soon have more money than you know what to do with.  You can even upgrade your miner to make the whole experience more profitable.  Pretty much every major action earns you an achievement, and every bonus you get can be doubled, so rewards are plenty and constant in Century City.  I don’t see this being the kind of game you’ll sit and play for hours on end, but it sure makes for a nice time waster every once in a while.

Century City Pine Entertainment, Century City – Free

Well that wraps up another edition of games to watch on the App Store. As always, if there’s something you’ve played recently that you feel should be part of this list, please leave a reply to this post. Previous weekly installments of our App Store Games Roundup:

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Myths of Orion: Light from the North HD in Review – Another Fine Myth from G5 Sat, 02 Jan 2016 04:45:16 +0000 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]]>


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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10 App Store Games To Watch [12/29/15] Wed, 30 Dec 2015 05:02:01 +0000 Welcome to my last roundup of 2015.  Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my forays into the myriad of releases the App Store has to offer, and possibly even picked up a game or two that you might not have considered otherwise.  I’ve had a lot of fun trying out all of these games for you, and I … Read more]]>


Welcome to my last roundup of 2015.  Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my forays into the myriad of releases the App Store has to offer, and possibly even picked up a game or two that you might not have considered otherwise.  I’ve had a lot of fun trying out all of these games for you, and I look forward to an even more entertaining year in 2016.  If you celebrate then have a safe holiday, and we’ll see you in the new year!


Flock’s [11/15/15] – It seems that these Flappy clones keep invading my iPad.  This is probably the closest one to the source material that I’ve played in quite some time, complete with a bird as the protagonist.  It still outshines its predecessor in every way, however.  We start with fun, bouncy music and decent graphics, including a bird that’s actually kind of cute.  Next you have the controls, which while just a simple touch like Flappy Bird’s actually respond like you’d expect them to.  There’s even a dream sequence where by default you float up and you have to tap to make the bird go down instead.  Sure it’s more of a gimmick than anything, but at least it’s something a bit different.  The name “flock’s” comes from the fact that you can rescue little birds from cages, at which point they will follow you until you lose the game.  You get points for each pillar that you pass, and the more birds in your flock the more points you get per pillar.  There are berries to collect which will let you upgrade power ups, achievements to earn which will reward you with potions that can be used to continue when you die, and a home grown leaderboard that also lets you compete with other players by displaying a random person’s last run at the bottom of the screen while you’re flapping along.  This is the game that Flappy Bird could have been, and it’s worth checking out whether you’re a fan of the genre or not.

Flock's Simply Entertaining LLC, Flock’s – Free


MinuteFrontier [12/15/15] – So it seems the game play mechanics of the day is “one tap does everything”.  The down side to this approach is that it usually leads to a fairly shallow gaming experience.  On the other hand, it’s the perfect match for a quick casual experience when you have a few moments to spare, and that’s exactly what MinuteFrontier provides.  You tap the left side of the screen to move left, and the right side to move right.  When you run into monsters you’ll typically attack automatically, though with some weapons you might actually have to do something additional like tap again or let go to complete the attack, which is a small but cool twist to combat in such a game.  Sometimes the creatures will leave items that you’ll automatically pick up, and these usually constitute level upgrades to weapons you have collected.  You start out as a Brave but can select one of several different jobs, each of which has their own basic weapons, unique skill upgrades and distribution of stats.  Defeating monsters earns you XP so that your character can level up, and occasionally you’ll beat a monster into submission so that it will follow you and fight with you.  The visuals have a great Gameboy Color look to them, and the music fits the genre just right.

MinuteFrontier Mitsuhiro Okada, MinuteFrontier – Free


Puzzlewood Quests: Age of the Brain Trainers [4/13/15] – First of all, you need to understand that this game is designed for young kids.  That being said, there’s no reason that you couldn’t play it with them (just make sure they are your kids, because otherwise that might be kind of weird).  You choose one of 4 characters, two of which you have to buy through IAP, and you lead them on a quest through 9 different worlds.  Each land is filled with creatures waiting to be conquered, and you do that by completing a series of games like finding a word in a grid of letters or solving a simple equation.  The various games aren’t overly difficult, at least for older folks, but the challenge is increased by the fact that you only get a certain amount of time before your opponent attacks you.  For each puzzle you solve correctly you attack the bad guy, and depending on the puzzle they’ll attack you if you get it wrong.  And of course when your time is up they’ll attack as well.  Killing a monster earns you experience which allows you to level up and increase one of four stats.  Beating a level earns you stars, and if you get enough stars you can unlock the 3 bonus worlds.  There is a lot to explore here, the characters are cool and there’s some humor thrown in for good measure, and the younger set might actually learn some useful basic skills in the process of playing.

Puzzlewood Quests: Age of the Brain Trainers Downcast Systems LLC, Puzzlewood Quests: Age of the Brain Trainers – Free


Solitaire Detectives [10/30/15] – This card based mystery is founded on the Pyramid Solitaire variant of the classic card game.  For each case you’ll have to solve a variety of solitaire boards set up in different configurations.  You’ll uncover clues to the mystery, although it’s all ultimately a gimmick as you’ll automatically solve each case once you’ve completed the last board.  It still gives the game a unique flair, though.  If you play your cards right you can earn various streak bonuses, and if you get dealt a bad hand you can use the Sherlock-themed wild cards to match anything on the board.  Once you complete a case in classic mode you can go back and play it in timed mode, and then on a hard difficulty setting, so there is some replay value built in.  I’m normally of the mindset that if you want to play solitaire you should just go to your local dollar store and buy a deck of cards, but the mystery backdrop of Solitaire Detectives makes this a notable exception in my book.

Solitaire Detectives - Crime & Mystery Investigation Card Game Tapps Tecnologia da Informação Ltda., Solitaire Detectives – Crime & Mystery Investigation Card Game – Free


Fly or Dive [11/13/15] – This is another game from Alexey Pajitnov, the creator of one of the most famous time sinks in console gaming, Tetris.  This time around there are no falling blocks, however.  Instead you have to guide a hot air balloon around the world by making it go up or down at the appropriate times.  In order to do that you’ll need to match at least 4 balloons or weights in a rectangular shape in the 5 x 5 grid playing field.  Your playing pieces can be anywhere between 1 and 4 tiles and be any combination of weights, balloons and patch pieces, as well as simply being blank tiles.  If you lay a patch piece on a balloon or weight it will make the other piece disappear, and if you accidentally place a balloon or weight on another balloon or weight you’ll create a whole that you need to use a patch to fix.  You keep playing until you’re forced into creating a match that is opposite of the direction you want to go or you create a leak that you can’t patch.  I suppose it’s possible to fill up the board as well, but if so I haven’t run into that problem yet.  There are 18 achievements, one for passing each city for the first time as well as a couple of long term rewards, and a leaderboard for high scores.  Fly or Dive certainly doesn’t have the twitch factor or adrenaline rush of Tetris, but it’s a nice diversion none the less.

Fly or Dive ANDREY NOVIKOV, Fly or Dive – Free


Rust Bucket [12/16/15] – Nitrome has become one of my favorite small time developers over the past year, and it’s because of games like Rust Bucket.  This turn based dungeon crawler is anything but ordinary.  Instead of collecting loot and building up stats you must complete dungeon after dungeon of intricate puzzles.  In one section you might have to move blocks around Sokoban style while in the next you’ll need to coax a creature into walking over a switch for you.  You’ll have to decide when you can strike at the monsters and when you need to run.  Larger dungeons are divided into sections with checkpoints, so for the most part you won’t have to repeat challenging sections once you’ve mastered them.  Besides the well crafted “campaign” mode there is an endless mode, but to me that doesn’t feel quite as compelling.  In endless mode there are coins to collect, but I’m not sure what you use them for.  In campaign mode there are 10 achievements to earn as well as a leaderboard to rank on.  There’s also a mystery mode labeled as “coming soon”.  Besides the game play itself I love the visuals in Rust Bucket.  Much like Ravenous Games, Nitrome has a great pixel look to their games, and in this case the fact that most of the characters are basically heads is pretty cool.

Rust Bucket Nitrome, Rust Bucket – Free


Panic Pump [9/6/15] – Panic Pump is a good old fashioned puzzle game.  You know, one of those that would rather kick you when you’re down than handhold you through the experience.  In this case the game play is based off of the concept where you have several racks that hold 4 marbles apiece, and you have to get each one filled with the right marbles.  Where this one goes completely into left field, however, is that the playing field is a series of cages that have creatures locked inside of them, and the racks are locks that can open the cages.  If you match 4 of the same color marbles in a rack (and depending on the level they might need to be a certain color for a given rack) the rack will explode.  Destroy them all in order to free the creature inside.  The other caveat is that this is a 3D game, so you’ll have to rotate the cube to find all of the locks on some levels.  In the couple of levels I’ve been able to experience so far you’ll run into things like teleports and garbage that takes up space on the racks without being useful.  For the average gamer there should be plenty of challenge, and the one misgiving I have with the game that might compound that is that the controls don’t work the best in the 3D world.  If you can conquer that problem, however, this game has plenty to offer, especially if you unlock the extra modes via IAP.  Puzzle gamers that have been looking for a unique experience on their iDevice should really give this one a try.

Panic Pump Digilie Studio, Panic Pump – Free


Tap Company: Startup in Miami [12/4/15] – To be honest, a lot of these “single click” games feel like cheap attempts at creating a game that has no actual game play value.  Tap Company does an excellent job of separating itself from the pack, however.  Your task is to help a small startup in Miami to flourish, which you’ll do by tapping the various rooms in the office to earn money.  You’ll also fill up bars in those rooms, and when they reach capacity you’ll tap and hold to transfer the money to a building fund.  This will allow you to slowly expand your business.  As you earn cash you’ll be able to upgrade your offices, hire new employees and train everyone to earn better on their own.  When the offices level up they will change physically to reflect your success and accomplishments, and if you want to take a break from tapping you can just sit and watch the employees as they go about their business.  In addition to cash you’ll earn chips that can be used to gamble in your underground casino for some quick payouts.  Of course you’ll eventually be earning enough money that the gambling is more for a diversion than anything else.  If the current crop of frantic clickers has left you a bit underwhelmed, Tap Company might just change your mind.

Tap Company: Startup in Miami POSSIBLE GAMES Kft., Tap Company: Startup in Miami – Free


Go Home Dizzy [11/23/15] – Go Home Dizzy is one of the most interesting rogue-like games I’ve played on an iOS device this year.  Your main character is just trying to get home, but he seems to have an issue where he just can’t stop spinning.  In order to make some progress you need to touch the screen and let go, at which point Dizzy will move in the direction his sword is pointing.  The longer you hold, the farther Dizzy will travel.  Striking things with either the sword or shield will kill them, but using the shield in that manner will make it disappear.  If a creature strikes you aside from the sword or shield you’ll lose a heart, and when they are all gone you’ll die.  Along the way you’ll encounter anvils that provide you with upgrades to your attack and things that look like water towers that give you extra hearts or other defensive goodies.  Of course all of this requires bones for payment, which you get when you kill bad guys.  Occasionally you’ll run into someone that needs rescuing, and if you’re successful you’ll earn a new helmet you can don and weapon to wield.  Otherwise, in true rogue-like fashion when you die you lose everything you’ve earned.  There are several quests to complete, and a high score table that looks to be home grown.

Go Home Dizzy Andrew Morrish, Go Home Dizzy – Free


Kraken chess [11/2/15] – For the last game in my last roundup of 2015 I thought I’d cover one that’s pretty basic and as a result probably hasn’t received much press.  If you’re looking for a traditional chess game with a fantasy theme, however, you’re out of luck.  Kraken chess is still a two player game of logic, but you each only have one piece which is your Viking.  On each turn you get two actions – first you get to move, and then you choose a piece for the kraken to consume.  The thing is, the kraken will also take the matching piece found somewhere else on the board.  Players take turns taking their two actions until someone is either swallowed up by the kraken or boxed in so they can’t move anywhere.  Kraken chess has basic mechanics, but it’s a free puzzle game that has no equivalent on the App Store as far as I know.  The main down side is that the game only offers two player hot seat play, but maybe if the developers get enough support they’ll add some remote multiplayer options or even a bit of computer AI for those that don’t have any friends.

kraken chess Marcelo Pirk, kraken chess – Free

Well that wraps up another edition of games to watch on the App Store. As always, if there’s something you’ve played recently that you feel should be part of this list, please leave a reply to this post. Previous weekly installments of our App Store Games Roundup:

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Party Gods in Review – Most Excellent, or a Bummer? Thu, 17 Dec 2015 03:58:30 +0000 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]]>


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.


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.


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.


App Summary
Title: Party Gods Developer: Chopsticks Games
Reviewed Ver: 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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10 App Store Games To Watch [12/15/15] Wed, 16 Dec 2015 04:59:32 +0000 Casual is the name of the game in this roundup, and Ketchapp leads the pack with two entries this time around.  The thing is, no matter how much developers want to turn iDevices into portable next gen consoles, at this point the devices are still at their best when running simple, addictive games.  Whether it’s … Read more]]>


Casual is the name of the game in this roundup, and Ketchapp leads the pack with two entries this time around.  The thing is, no matter how much developers want to turn iDevices into portable next gen consoles, at this point the devices are still at their best when running simple, addictive games.  Whether it’s strategy lite in the form of Crystal Crusade, twitch action thanks to Taptical Breach or good old fashion Gameboy like side scrolling shooter fun via Toritoma., there should be something here for everyone.  And if not, be sure to let me know what you like and I’ll see what I can do for the next roundup.


Taptical Breach [11/24/15] – This is an interesting little game.  Given the name you’d almost think there would be some tactics to it, but it’s basically a reflex game.  You start with a squad of 4 agents, and you must infiltrate room after room to save hostages.  The extent of your strategy, however, is simply to let the hostages duck and shoot the terrorists.  There is no negotiation here.  Of course the terrorists feel the same way, and any hesitation will result in them firing and killing one of your men.  If the squad dies the game is over.  Also, one accidental hostage death and you’ll be starting over again as well.  The game does have a leaderboard through Game Center, but there aren’t any achievements at this point.  While achievements might be rather limited in scope for this type of game, it would be nice to see something like power ups introduced into the game, or maybe even the ability to get new men every once in a while.  Still, for what the game offers it’s rather entertaining, and I do tend to be partial towards games that make good pixel graphics work.

Taptical Breach Matthew Owen, Taptical Breach – Free


Puzzle Warrior Online [11/27/15] – You might be thinking to yourself “don’t we already have enough hybrid match 3 / RPG games?”  The answer is probably, and yet I still find myself getting sucked into this one.  It doesn’t have the depth and complexity of some of the more recent offerings that I’ve reviewed which might actually be part of the game’s appeal.  You basically select a level, defeat all the monsters on that level and repeat until you’ve conquered the game.  There are no characters to interact with or quests to beat or anything like that.  You do get the chance to upgrade your character’s armor and enhance his skills with the money and gems that you collect.  You can also buy and upgrade pets if you so desire.  Besides the extensive single player campaign you can connect with other players online to earn additional XP and Honor, assuming you can best them in battle.  The game does seem a bit buggy at times, but I’m sure they’ll get all the little kinks worked out with future updates.

Puzzle Warrior Online Jianchao Zhang, Puzzle Warrior Online – Free


Starific – Endless Arcade Reactor [11/3/15] – Take pong, place it in a Tempest style arena, and you basically have Starific.  All you have to do is keep at least one star in the playing field, and until you mess that up you’ll keep racking up the points.  There are plenty of codex (power ups) to collect along the way, and since the levels are randomly generated each time you never know what sorts of combinations you’ll get.  Completing the various quests that you are presented with will unlock new codex, themes, and grid sizes for the levels.  You can also earn money while you’re playing which can be used to spin the prize wheel.  The prize wheel is where you get to unlock the three extra game play modes the game offers.  You can also earn more money, unlock extra game items or possibly win nothing.  If you like leaderboards then you’ll have to plenty to work towards here, as each of the game modes has a leaderboard for each of the grid sizes, which means there are a total of 16 leaderboards to rank on.  There are currently no achievements, though the game does present you with comprehensive statistics broken down by game play mode and grid size.  The visuals are pretty minimalistic, yet they still provide a lot of bling and sparkle.  The music is fun, and interestingly enough several of the songs have lyrics, which is unusual for your typical casual arcade game.

Starific - Endless Arcade Reactor Alex Gierczyk, Starific – Endless Arcade Reactor – Free


Alien Pot [10/10/15] – I hate to disappoint some of you, but this game is not about weed from another planet.  It’s actually the latest in a series that I have neglected for some time called “games that I’m thankful aren’t Flappy Bird”.  The basic control scheme of “tap to rise, release to fall” is present, but instead of flying through pillars you have to navigate randomly generated tunnels in the vein of games like Cavern.  One of the things I think is cool about this game is that you actually see the floor and ceiling move into place as you’re flying through it, which is a simple but cool visual effect.  Speaking of visuals, the paper cutout visual style is another area where this game shines over the original Flappy Bird, as well as most of the subsequent knock-offs.  You start off with one pot, and you can unlock others by watching videos.  You can also upgrade any pot you own either using the stars you collect or by watching videos, which means the only reason you’d need to spend IAP is if you want to get rid of the ads (which is also a nice way to support the developer).  While Alien Pot doesn’t necessarily break any new ground where this type of game is concerned, it does its peers proud – and probably overshadows most of them as well.

Alien Pot Yao Sun, Alien Pot – Free


Speed Golf [12/3/15] – There are plenty of golf games on the App Store, whether of the standard or mini variety, but thankfully Speed Golf feels different from the pack.  To hit the golf ball you press the screen when the desired angle has been reached, and release when you feel you have enough power.  You only get one shot per hole, and the game is over the first time you miss.  Oh, and did I mention that you only get five seconds to take and make each shot?  You collect coins in several ways, including launching the ball into them, making a chip shot, watching videos and collecting a somewhat random prize.  These coins can be used to buy new levels, and while I’m not sure they add anything to the game play it’s nice to have something different to look at every once in a while.  There is a leaderboard based on the largest number of levels you’ve played in one game, and there are also 9 achievements to earn.  Speed Golf is a great casual game, and it can even be played easily with one hand.

Speed Golf Ketchapp, Speed Golf – Free


Toritoma. [12/8/15] – If I didn’t know any better I’d think this was a port of an old Gameboy game.  Of course the reality is there’s a good chance the developer doesn’t even know what one of those classic units looks like, but whatever the case they did a great job of emulating the experience in this game.  It’s a standard shooter in the sense that you move your ship around the screen, and in this case the game fires automatically for you.  Shoot down all the enemies, and in the mean time get close to enemy fire to build up your chicken gauge (yes, you are a member of the poultry family).  When your gauge is full a chick will come to help you out by adding extra gunfire.  So far I’ve managed to have three chicks at one time.  While you have these chicks at your disposal you can also hold the shield button to have them whip out their eggshells and protect you from enemy bullets.  However, this will run down your chicken gauge.  The game only has six levels, but the difficulty jumps immensely once you hit level 4.  There is a leaderboard via Game Center based on your high score.  You can finish the game for free, but an IAP purchase removes the ads as well as gives you access to playing the entire game at a much harder level.  Of course the best part of the game is how much it actually looks like an old black and white Gameboy game, so nostalgia freaks should definitely check it out.

Toritoma. Akihiro Kaneda, Toritoma. – Free


Around The World [11/4/15] – Wow, two next-generation Flappy Bird inspired games in the same roundup.  I think my head is going to explode!  This one is different than any other I’ve played before, however, because in this case your character is continually moving up and down, regardless of whether or not you tap the screen.  By pressing the screen in Around The World you actually cause your character to speed up, and conversely by releasing the screen it slows down.  There is still plenty to dodge, however, in the form of red pointy rocks.  Some will be resting on the ground, some will be hanging out in the middle of the tunnel, and the most annoying ones will actually be moving around.  I’m still not completely used to the control scheme, which means my high score isn’t all that high yet, but overall it’s much more compelling than the typical Flappy Bird clone.  There are cubes to collect, and for every 100 you grab onto you’ll be able to unlock a new bird.  So far each one has come with its own background, which is pretty cool.  The game offers one leaderboard and 18 achievements via Game Center.  And now, hopefully, I’m done with Flappy Bird-ness for this article.

Around The World Ketchapp, Around The World – Free


Crimbo [12/3/15] – I tend to shy away from Santa-themed games because frankly two things I don’t want to see are the jolly toymaker taking his frustrations out on misguided elves or getting horribly dismembered by a series of devious traps.  Sadly Crimbo falls into the latter category, but the game is so well done that I’m forgoing my concerns temporarily.  In typical holiday fashion, the presents have disappeared and it is up to the rotund one to find them before Christmas is ruined.  Currently you have to navigate Santa through 12 deviously crafted levels in order to accomplish your goal.  Along the way you’ll have to dodge snowballs, jump across narrow ledges that often move, and avoid lots and lots of spikes.  To help you accomplish your quest you’ll get to use the infamous sleigh, a pair of skis and even a balloon.  Unfortunately there’s no twisted Christmas music playing in the background, but the combination of hollowing winds and slick silhouetted graphics do a good job of providing an ominous atmosphere.  Despite having to watch Santa repeatedly suffer a cruel fate when you make a mistake, this is a solid platform game worth spending some time with.

CRIMBO Paul Banks, CRIMBO – Free


Crystal Crusade [11/13/15] – Just when I thought I’d seen it all in terms of match 3 hybrids, Crystal Crusade comes along and manages to surprise me.  It’s what I’d categorize as “strategy lite”, because once you hit the battlefield you’re pretty limited in your interactions.  You can cast spells, call in reinforcements and resurrect your hero if you need be.  It’s just enough to keep you engaged while your minions battle it out for a hopeful victory.  Where the match 3 comes into play is before the battle starts, and the more matches you make the larger your army is.  Once you’ve reached your max capacity for your army you’ll enter gold rush mode where every match you make earns you more loot.  Gold earned during the match 3 sequences and upon winning a battle can be used to upgrade both your hero and your troops.  You’ll also earn medallions which can be used for upgrading when you run out of gold or for buying additional spells.  There are six types of troops to unlock as well as 6 heroes to acquire over time.  Each level has three goals to beat, and many of them will require multiple visits to achieve all of them.  There are 12 achievements through Game Center as well.  I’m a huge fan of match 3 mash ups as it is, and it always makes my day when a developer does something different with the concept.

Crystal Crusade Torus Games, Crystal Crusade – Free


Spider Square [12/3/15] – First of all, I am fully aware that there is another game on the App Store called Spider Square!! (the exclamations are theirs, not mine), and this could simply be a rip off of that game.  Regardless, this is the one I happened to download and try out, and despite its simplicity and the fact that it probably doesn’t add anything new to the genre in terms of game mechanics, I find it rather addicting.  The idea is to swing your little square through the tunnels for as long as you can.  It starts out pretty basic, but eventually you’ll have to deal with things like moving platforms that get in your way.  As you’re swinging along you can collect diamonds, and one thing I appreciate is that the further into the tunnel you go, the more each diamond is worth.  The diamonds you earn can be used to continue your game when you die or to buy new avatars.  Besides trying to achieve a high score in single player mode you can challenge players from around the world in a one on one match to see who swings supreme.  Better yet, if you have an Apple TV and a sufficient number of friends that are actually willing to come to your house you can play the game on a big screen with up to 8 challengers at the same time.  Game Center provides 36 achievements and two leaderboards, one for regular single player mode and one for easy mode.  This is as casual as casual games come, but I bet it is a blast when your friends can taunt you in person.

Spider Square BoomBit Inc., Spider Square – Free

Well that wraps up another edition of games to watch on the App Store. As always, if there’s something you’ve played recently that you feel should be part of this list, please leave a reply to this post. Previous weekly installments of our App Store Games Roundup:

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Frankenstein: Master Of Death in Review – New Twist On An Old Tale Mon, 14 Dec 2015 23:08:20 +0000 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]]>


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 Sun, 06 Dec 2015 02:05:43 +0000 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]]>


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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News: More Temple Run 2 and Power Hover Fri, 04 Dec 2015 19:38:49 +0000 Temple Run 2: Frozen Shadows I don’t get around to posting news much because I’d rather spend my time playing and reviewing games.  But, as a self-proclaimed infinite runner addict I felt there were a couple of items this week that I should pass on to the loyal fans of  First of all, unless … Read more]]>


Temple Run 2: Frozen Shadows

I don’t get around to posting news much because I’d rather spend my time playing and reviewing games.  But, as a self-proclaimed infinite runner addict I felt there were a couple of items this week that I should pass on to the loyal fans of  First of all, unless you’ve chosen to completely ignore the “this is what’s popular” section of every news and review site you’re at least familiar with Temple Run 2.  And if you haven’t yet tried it, you really should.  In case you haven’t been properly motivated yet, maybe this latest update will help.  Released on December 2nd, the new version of one of the premier mobile infinite runners added a new world called Frozen Shadows.  Not only does this foray into an icy realm look incredible, but it adds a slick new snowboard to the mix as well as some aggressive moneys that not only follow you but jump out at you from the sides of the course.  Plus, according to the developers this is only the first in a new series of updates that will launch sporadically throughout 2016, reaffirming Imangi’s commitment to their products.

Temple Run 2 Imangi Studios, LLC, Temple Run 2 – Free

Power Hover

This one isn’t really an infinite runner, but it kind of looks like one from the video.  Regardless, Power Hover looks pretty awesome.  Your goal is to collect as much energy as possible so you can restore power to your robot village and unlock upgrades to make your journey even more successful.  Whether you’re swimming with sharks or dodging large robotic spiders this games seems to have some incredible level design.  It won’t be released until December 10th, but I thik it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for.  Check out the video below to judge for yourself.

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Tiny Rogue in Review – Fun Mobile Rogue-Like (But No Small Packages Jokes Here) Fri, 04 Dec 2015 02:17:53 +0000 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]]>


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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10 App Store Games To Watch [12/1/15] Wed, 02 Dec 2015 04:55:55 +0000 So it’s two down and one to go in terms of the big end of year holidays (I’m not counting New Year’s since the holiday is technically January 1st).  If you’re already planning out your Christmas gifts, just buy all your friends that have iOS devices iTunes cards and point them to my App Store … Read more]]>


So it’s two down and one to go in terms of the big end of year holidays (I’m not counting New Year’s since the holiday is technically January 1st).  If you’re already planning out your Christmas gifts, just buy all your friends that have iOS devices iTunes cards and point them to my App Store roundups.  It’s a win-win situation.  And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, get yourself an iTunes card and go nuts!  Of course most of the games I cover tend to be of the free variety, but maybe you could use this season of charity to support a struggling indie dev by purchasing some IAP in one of the free titles.  No matter how you look at it, just make it all about the games.


Paper Town: Draw, Paint and Sketch an Empire! [10/9/15] – Normally if a game requires an account (especially if it’s for a proprietary service so I don’t already have a login) my first instinct is to delete it.  This one intrigued me conceptually, however.  At a fringe level it’s kind of like the old classic M.U.L.E., except instead of collecting energy or growing crops to build up your empire you draw pictures.  You start out with 1,000 coins, and for 300 you can have your very own plot of land.  On that land you can draw one or more pictures to put on display, and you can even put a price on them if you’d like.  Of course if you’re not that great of an artist you might have troubles pushing your merchandise, but thankfully you can also earn coins if someone feels pity on you and “likes” your drawings or if you “like” other people’s drawings.  Yep, now we’ve drifted into Facebook territory.  There are definitely some issues with the game as it stands, like the archaic drawing tools or the sluggish response as you try to scroll through the already developing landscape, but hopefully as people start to support the game by drawing a bunch of cool stuff the developers will continue to refine the program and make it something special.  To reference one of my favorite animated films, this could very well be a “diamond in the rough”.

Paper Town: Draw, Paint and Sketch an Empire! chun lim, Paper Town: Draw, Paint and Sketch an Empire! – Free


Toad Rider [2/4/14] – I’m not really sure how I managed to miss this one when it first came out, but I’m glad I finally got the chance to play it now.  This is clearly a homage to one of the best parts of the classic console game Battle Toads, and they’ve not only managed to capture the excitement of Rare’s epic platform game but they’ve actually upped the ante a bit.  In the vein of the modern infinite runner they’ve added power ups that you can upgrade, initial boosts to advance you through the beginning levels quicker, additional characters and jetskis you can unlock and plenty of missions to complete.  You’ll have to collect coins for most upgrades and unlocks, though the ultimate tier of unlocks for characters and jetskis requires gems, and I’m not sure if you can get those outside of buying them via IAP.  For every three missions you complete you’ll boost your score multiplier, which will help you advance on the score based leaderboard.  There are also two other leaderboards to rank on.  I doubt will be seeing Battle Toads show up on the iPad any time soon, but this is a pretty decent substitute.

Toad Rider Abdullah El-Sayed, Toad Rider – Free


Crush The Tower [10/18/15] – After all this time I still don’t really get the appeal of these games where you have to continually break down some object in the center of the screen by tapping the left or right sides of the screen to swing something at it.  Occasionally one of this type of game comes along that actually manages to be interesting, however, and Crush The Tower is just such a game.  The concept is still basically the same, with the object in the center being a tower littered with ledges, goblins and other things that will try and take you out.  You start out with two hearts, which means you can take two hits before you die, at least in the first 100 floors.  For each 100 floors getting hit takes one more heart, so floors 101-200 take away two hearts, etc.  You’re also up against a clock, so you have to be able to decide rather quickly whether you want to tap to the left or right.  In this variant of the idea there are coins you can collect that can be used to upgrade power ups and armor.  Power ups do things like make potions last longer, give you better multipliers and slow down the clock.  On the other hand, armor increases your hearts, adds more time back to the clock when you swing your weapon, and puts more coins on the board.  There are missions, quests and achievements to complete which are all interlinked, but I just haven’t taken the time to sort it all out yet.  There’s also a leaderboard chronicling the highest floor each player has made it to.

Crush The Tower Michiel Kamerman, Crush The Tower – Free


Sky Pets [10/8/15] – If you ever thought that your pets should do something more than just sit on the couch and act like they own the place, now’s your chance to make them useful.  That’s assuming, of course, that you define “useful” as collecting large amounts of coins and gems for no apparent reason.  At least you get 36 levels across 4 different worlds to test your applied pet theories across.  The game looks like it was designed primarily for kids, but don’t let the exterior fool you.  Should you happen to be the kind of person that obsesses over getting every gem on every level, you’ll find yourself coming back to these levels again and again until you conquer each one.  There are times where that is not so difficult, but there are also occasions where timing can be quite the issue.  One interesting factor is that the levels don’t reset themselves after each attempt, at least as far as obstacles go, so when exactly you need to “hit the brakes” might be slightly different each time through.  There are 4 stock pets you can choose to play with, or you can create your own with a fairly simple to use editor.  Sky Pets currently offers one leaderboard, but at this time there are no achievements.  It would be nice if there was something to use all the coins on that you collect, and multiple profiles would be good since this game will certainly appeal to both casual adult players and kids.  Overall it’s a cute, nicely done little game.

Sky Pets Subliminal, Sky Pets – $1.99


Devil Eater [11/7/15] – Devil Eater is kind of an odd name for a somewhat quirky game.  It just happens that the game is also rather entertaining.  It’s what I’d call a casual shooter, because instead of having to worry about moving your character around, or even aiming for that matter, you simply tap a button to shoot and another one to block.  If you block at just the right moment you’ll even launch a counter attack that appears to hurt multiple enemies.  You also earn a special attack each time you have to reload which gets activated with another button.  This special attack does a nice amount of damage as well.  When you slay demons you’ll earn coins, and you can also get loot from completing achievements.  This money can be used to buy new guns as well as increase the attack, speed and defense attributes of your hero.  In addition to all the in-game achievements for earning gold there are 11 achievements and a leaderboard via Game Center.  The visuals are extremely well done, and there are some really nice character designs in this game.  If you need total control over your shooters you might not appreciate Devil Eater, but if you like causal wanton destruction this is just the game for you.

Devil Eater LoadComplete, Devil Eater – Free


Monkeyrama [10/14/15] – Monkeyrama is kind of like an arcade version of Jenga.  Except once you knock a block out you don’t put it back.  And, the arrangements you are attempting to knock down are often much more complex than a rectangular tower.  Oh, and did I mention the monkey heads?  There are lots of monkey heads to be tossed around here.  The game currently has 4 episodes with 28 levels each, and your goal is to score as many points as you can per level.  Of course you do have to meet a minimum score to beat a level, and in some cases you’ll barely squeeze that number out.  To aid you in your quest you’ll have a selection of monkey heads at your disposal.  There’s the normal head, the explosive head, the heavy head and my favorite – the baby head.  This last one sucks on the blocks it attaches to and tries to pull them over.  You’ll get a combination of one or of these heads on each level, with a certain number of each kind at your disposal.  Thanks to the kindness of the developers, you can switch between them at any time to get the optimal combination for your strategy.  Some levels are pretty simple, others are deceptively simple and then there are ones that are just deceptive.  In the end it’s a good balance that will keep you busy but for the most part not frustrate you.  One thing that I do find a bit interesting and oddly refreshing is that your satisfaction comes strictly from doing the best you can, because there is no integration with Game Center or other social media at this point.  If you’re tired of all the block bashing physics games looking like Angry Birds, Monkeyrama is a nice alternative.

Monkeyrama Tuomas Erikoinen, Monkeyrama – $0.99


Dulp: Color Wheel Blast [11/12/15] – This is a pretty basic game – tap to release a ball and take out a like colored part of the spinning ring(s).  Knock out the entire ring and you win.  There’s no filler here, so every shot counts.  You can’t shoot past the ring, but you can hit the wrong color or the inside of the ring, either of which earns you a game over.  Dulp seems fairly simple at first, but it doesn’t take long before the levels become challenging.  You might have multiple rings that are spinning in opposite directions or worse yet at different speeds.  The rings might change direction or speed during game play, which is usually triggered when you tap the screen and not once the ball hits something.  That can make a big difference in how you time things.  The game is definitely all about timing, and thankfully it doesn’t complicate the situation by actually adding a timer into the mix.  I’m not sure how many levels there are, as I’m currently stuck on level 21 and refuse to hit the Skip button, but based on the leaderboard there’s at least 147.  Dulp doesn’t have much depth to it, but it does provide a decent amount of challenge for a casual game.

Dulp: Color Wheel Blast Nexx Studio, Dulp: Color Wheel Blast – Free


Puzzle Forge 2 [12/16/14] – This is an interesting variation of the 2048 genre.  You are the blacksmith at the local weapons shop for wayward adventurers.  To create weapons you’ll need to lay down ore and then place moulds for various parts of the weapons.  When you have three moulds in a row that form a particular weapon they will merge into that weapon, and the spots that were occupied by the molds will become hot so that you can’t use them again right away.  Like most time management games you’ll have to make every customer that comes in each day happy by providing them with weapons, but unlike other games in this genre when you disappoint a customer you lose a heart, and when all hearts are gone you start over from day one.  On the plus side, as you build up your reputation and serve customers well you’ll level up and learn new skills, and all of that stays with you for every subsequent game.  In addition to your forge there’s a bank where you can buy coins and soul stones via IAP, an academy where you can spend the soul stones to buy new skills, and shop where you can buy items to help you forge weapons and an archive (ie: library) that lists all the weapons you’ve forged and adventurers you’ve met.  Not only is this a neat use of the 2048 paradigm but it’s a cool time management sim that gets you out of the realm of baking and sandwich making.

Puzzle Forge 2 Tuesday Quest, Puzzle Forge 2 – Free


Do Not Pop! – Endless Bubbly Arcade Avoider [11/5/15] – I’m not sure when I became such a causal games addict, but it’s amazing how quickly some of these games capture my attention any more.  I’ve seen many of these one room “dodge the walls” style games on the app store, and this is the first one I’ve really taken for a spin.  I don’t know if it’s the cute avatars or the cool bubble that leaves a trail as you float around the stage, but something about Do Not Pop manages to keep me engaged every time I start the game up.  There’s really not much to the game: tap left or right to move the bubble around the screen, avoiding the walls and floating spike balls while collecting coins.  Honestly, though, you’ll get most of your coins either from the free present option that opens up every once in a while or from watching videos (or, if you’re feeling generous, via IAP).  The coins are used to buy new avatars, which cost between 1000 and 2000 coins apiece.  The game offers 18 achievements through Game Center, as well as a leaderboard that actually hasn’t been hacked yet.  I’m going to guess there’s nothing here that other games of this type don’t offer, but as my first foray into this sub-genre of gaming, I found Do Not Pop worth spending some time with.

Do Not Pop! - Endless Bubbly Arcade Avoider CV Racoongames, Do Not Pop! – Endless Bubbly Arcade Avoider – Free


Power my Robot [10/19/15] – In case the name didn’t seem self explanatory enough, this is a game about powering up robots.  There are three robots, in fact, each with 20 different power receptacles that need juice.  In order to provide them with energy you’ll need to launch balls into their inner workings, which conveniently enough turn into batteries when they hit the right area.  In the mean time you’ll need to navigate around plenty of obstacles that appear to have no other function than to make your life difficult.  Moving walls, transport tubes and air pockets will redirect your balls in sometimes undesired directions.  Items like lasers will simply destroy them.  You have a certain number of balls with which to complete each level, and enough of them have to make it to the battery compartment to fill it.  Each level has three stars to collect, and while you don’t need all of them (or any of them, for that matter) to complete a level, you do need to get a certain number of stars to unlock the next robot.  Once you launch a ball you can tilt the device to help guide it, sort of like a labyrinth style game.  Unfortunately you don’t have 360 degree freedom, so if you’re not careful a ball can get stuck or stop moving, at which point it’s on to the next one.  The levels get progressively harder with each robot, and design wise this is one of those games that’s both challenging and fair.

Power my Robot Warp Lemon, Power my Robot – Free

Well that wraps up another edition of games to watch on the App Store. As always, if there’s something you’ve played recently that you feel should be part of this list, please leave a reply to this post. Previous weekly installments of our App Store Games Roundup:

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