TouchMyApps » Featured http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:45:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.3 Disco Zoo in Review – Zoo Management To A Funky Beat http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/04/04/disco-zoo-in-review-zoo-management-to-a-funky-beat/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/04/04/disco-zoo-in-review-zoo-management-to-a-funky-beat/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:38:50 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73721 There have been a decent number of zoo simulation games on the App Store, but they usually feel like a city builder with animals.  Disco Zoo offers a completely different experience as your focus is on acquiring the animals and you don’t have to worry about building extraneous structures or training critters to do anything.  … Read more]]>

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There have been a decent number of zoo simulation games on the App Store, but they usually feel like a city builder with animals.  Disco Zoo offers a completely different experience as your focus is on acquiring the animals and you don’t have to worry about building extraneous structures or training critters to do anything.  It’s a freemium game, and I could see how one could easily get caught up in it and sink a bunch of money into buying coins or disco bux, but so far I’ve managed to put quite a bit of time into it without emptying my wallet.  This well balanced game play is actually making me want to give them some of my cash.

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You are the curator of a zoo and it’s your job to build up from the ground up by bringing animals to it.  There are seven different areas to collect animals from including a Jurassic zone, but only the Farm is available at the beginning.  The other areas can be unlocked by spending disco bux or acquiring a certain number of animals and spending coins.  Coins also allow you to go on rescues and are earned simply by owning animals and from generous zoo patrons.  You have to be sure your animals stay awake, though, because sleeping creatures don’t earn any money.  Disco Bux are sometimes awarded for doing things around the zoo, but if you want to earn these in any great number you’ll have to spend some real money.

Collecting animals takes place on a 5 x 5 grid and is sort of like playing Battleship.  You get 10 attempts which consist of picking a tile to see what’s underneath it.  If you uncover all the tiles for a particular animal you get to keep that animal.  As it happens each animal has the same pattern every time, so as you start getting used to them it makes it easier to uncover the animals based on logic rather than guessing – assuming you find a starting point, of course.  Some tiles will contain nothing, but in addition to the animals you might find coins or on rare occasions Disco Bux.  If you use all your attempts and still have animals left to find you can expend Disco Bux to continue the search, but I wouldn’t advise that unless you have mythical or rare animals to search for.

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In the zoo itself you can collect coins that visitors toss out and you can also search for escaped animals in other pens.  If too many animals fall asleep at the same time you can start a disco party to wake everyone up and get the whole place hopping instead of just the rabbits.  The main reward system is watching the critics give each of your sections a higher rating as you accumulate more animals.  There are only two leaderboards in Game Center, neither of which are all that exciting, and no achievements to earn.  However, that by no means detracts from the addictive quality of the game, which I have to confess I’m having trouble pinpointing.  All I know is that right now I’m hooked.

The graphics are cute, with a highly pixilated look that still manages to convey some cool details.  On the zoo screens you get to watch the animals walk around their habitats and see the patrons make a variety of different comments.  The sound effects are kind of Sims-ish but serve their purpose, while the music is well done and diverse – so far each group of animals has had its own theme during the rescue operations.

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Sometimes a genre or sub-genre just needs a developer to think outside the box to make it interesting, and for zoo simulators that was Nimble Bit.  From actually collecting the animals to simply watching them play around in the zoo, this game is a lot more appealing than its peers.  I even broke down and bought 10 Disco Bux via IAP, even though I know I’ll go through them a lot more quickly than I’d like.  It’s definitely worth it for the entertainment I’ve received from Disco Zoo so far.

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App Summary
Title: Disco Zoo Developer: NimbleBit LLC
Reviewed Ver: 1.1.1 Min OS Req: 6.0
Price: Free App Size: 57.3 MB
  • Unique method for capturing animals
  • Don’t feel pressured to buy IAP
  • Cool pixel visuals
  • Good music
  • Disco Bux are scarce
  • Strangely addictive

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Galaxy Run in Review: Out Of This World Fun http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/03/10/galaxy-run-in-review-out-of-this-world-fun/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/03/10/galaxy-run-in-review-out-of-this-world-fun/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 16:02:32 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73596 Galaxy Run is a one screen, one button platform game from Spiel Studio, the folks that brought us the cool “launch an object” game Propel Man.  Generally I get into this style of game play pretty easily, and I like the progression of game mechanics Galaxy Run employs as well as the space motif.  The … Read more]]>

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Galaxy Run is a one screen, one button platform game from Spiel Studio, the folks that brought us the cool “launch an object” game Propel Man.  Generally I get into this style of game play pretty easily, and I like the progression of game mechanics Galaxy Run employs as well as the space motif.  The main problem I have with the game is that there seems to be a strong lack of difficulty, at least in the initial sets of levels that come with the game.  Thankfully the bonus worlds start to fix that problem, but I think the initial six worlds could use a bit of balancing.

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Your job is to help Rez get home after he crash lands on an alien planet.  All you have to do on each level is make sure he gets from point A to point B without falling into a pit, impaling himself on spikes or electrocuting himself.  Of course your basic method for doing this is simply tapping the screen to jump.  Thankfully each new level set brings a new mechanic to the table like double jumping, moving fast and even swinging on ropes.  Some actions like double jumping require you to pick up the power up first, while others happen automatically like stepping on an accelerator that causes you to run.  Some of the mechanics work a bit differently than you might be used to from other games, like swinging which is activated automatically when you’re close enough to a swing point and stops as soon as you tap the screen.

The initial game is divided into 6 sets of 20 levels apiece.  You have to complete the first 15 levels to move on to the next set, and then you can work on the last five, known as the “extreme” levels, at your own pace.  Once you complete the initial 6 level sets you unlock the bonus levels, which currently provide another 12 sets of levels for your platforming pleasure.  As long as you complete a level you can move on to the next, and once you complete the basic levels of one set the next set is unlocked, but earning stars on a given level is based on the amount of time it takes to complete a level.  Sadly, aside from having to replay on occasional level a few times in order to score three stars, you generally won’t run into any issues until you start getting into the bonus levels.  I think I completed the initial 6 worlds (minus the extreme levels) in less than an hour.

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As mentioned before, all you need to do is tap.  The trick is making sure you tap at just the right moment to do whatever actions you need in order to complete a level.  The game seems pretty responsive, though as I mentioned with the rope jumping some mechanics take a bit of getting used to because they work differently than you’d expect.  The game offers 65 achievements to earn and a leaderboard for each level set as well as various totals leaderboards, so there is plenty to work towards in Galaxy Run.  The game also supports Facebook and Twitter, which I presume is for communicating high scores and achievements with your followers.

I like the visuals in Galaxy Run, though things do tend to be a bit small because the levels have to fit on one screen.  Still, there’s a decent amount of detail and some nice animation, which can especially be appreciated when poor Rez gets fried by a laser.  The sound effects aren’t great, but thankfully they don’t get too annoying.  The music has its moments although it’s hard to appreciate when you go through most of the levels as fast as you will.

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As far as this style of platform gaming goes, Galaxy Run is a pretty decent little game.  Folks that aren’t so good with this type of game or prefer their platformers a bit easier will feel right at home.  If you like a bit more of a challenge and are willing to tough it out through the first few level sets the difficulty later on will be more to your liking.  With 360 levels and tons of achievements there’s certainly plenty to do, and a recent update is supposedly adding 3 new levels a day to each of the three worlds.  Add to that a level editor that the developers are working on releasing and Galaxy Run is definitely a worthwhile investment.

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App Summary
Title: Galaxy Run Developer: Spiel Studios
Reviewed Ver: 1.65 Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $0.99 App Size: 48.6 MB
  • Easy to learn
  • Lots of levels
  • New elements introduced in every level set
  • Nice visuals
  • Levels are rarely challenging

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Shadow Blade in Review – Old School Action With Modern Looks http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/02/06/shadow-blade-in-review-old-school-action-with-modern-looks/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/02/06/shadow-blade-in-review-old-school-action-with-modern-looks/#comments Fri, 07 Feb 2014 05:50:44 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73539 Amongst all of my past console excursions, the one that I remember with the most fondness was my time spent playing my Nintendo Entertainment System.  A franchise that kept me entertained if not a bit frustrated was Ninja Gaiden, the tale of a ninja named Ryu that kicked butt and liked to do back flips.  … Read more]]>

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Amongst all of my past console excursions, the one that I remember with the most fondness was my time spent playing my Nintendo Entertainment System.  A franchise that kept me entertained if not a bit frustrated was Ninja Gaiden, the tale of a ninja named Ryu that kicked butt and liked to do back flips.  At first glance one might feel that Shadow Blade is a modern interpretation of this classic series, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  After spending some time with the game I’m not so sure if it’s meant to be an homage to or simply inspired by the old favorites, but either way the game is quite entertaining.  It also manages to pretty much conquer the issues most action games have with controls on a touch screen device.

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There are no cutsecnes in the game or story panels hidden away in some obscure help menu, so you really don’t know why you’re doing what you do.  What you do figure out early on, however, is that you’re a cool ninja with some decent skillz that likes to collect shiny lights and glowing green Japanese symbols.  To complete a level you just need to find the exit, but to master a level you must collect three shurkiens: one for finishing the level below a certain time, another for collecting all the shiny lights and a third for uncovering the two glowing green symbols somewhere within the level.  These goals must be completed simultaneously in order to get all three shurkiens, so don’t think you’ll leisurely stroll through collecting goods in one round and then just fly through the level to earn that third elusive timing star.

Along the way you’ll face all the usual platforming pratfalls like deadly spikes, platforms that spin, platforms with deadly spikes that spin and more.  There are also plenty of enemies to take out before they get the drop on you.  Thankfully you’ve apparently been trained well because you can double jump, flip between walls to climb high, and smash through ice walls by attacking while in mid air.  You can also kill your opponents in several different ways, the most efficient of which is executed when you sneak up behind them.  Keep in mind that while it make take you multiple hits to down a foe, they will take you out in one, as will the unfortunate circumstance of running into anything that you shouldn’t.  At least there are checkpoints along the way so you don’t have to start over, but these can really mess you up if you’re trying for that timer star since the timer doesn’t reset to where it was when you first activated the checkpoint.

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There are two ways to control your ninja: gesture based and with a virtual joystick.  I gave the gesture controls a try for a few seconds, and they might not be bad once you get used to them, but the virtual joystick works so well that I’ve not looked back again.  There are arrows for moving left and right as well as buttons for jumping and attacking, and aside from the occasional misstep that I think is inherent to touch controls I’ve not had a single issue doing what I’ve needed to unless I just haven’t had the skill to do it.  The game is made up of three chapters with 10 levels each and a hardcore mode with 9 levels.  Unfortunately, without and leaderboards or Game Center achievements there’s little cause to replay anything once you’ve earned the maximum number of stars available on a given level.

The game looks great.  The backgrounds have a gritty feel to them and are nicely detailed.  The characters are well designed and the animation is well done.  The game doesn’t get overly bloody or anything, but it might be a bit gruesome for the younger set.  The sound effects are decent and while there’s not a lot of ambient noise there are a couple of nice touches like the sound of the train in the background of certain scenes.  The music isn’t bad, but from what I can tell there’s only one track that plays throughout all the levels.  Either that or it all sounds the same to me.

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Shadow Blade is a prime example of platforming done right on a touch screen device.  The bite size levels make it more than tolerable if you have to play one several times before getting it right, and the spot on controls make sure you don’t have to worry about that too often.  The game looks good and sounds decent, and the levels are actually designed pretty well.  The down side is that there isn’t much replay value, and a skilled player will probably make it through most levels rather quickly.  Some achievements and a leaderboard would certainly help sweeten the pot, and hopefully decent sales will inspire the developer to add a couple more level sets.  Despite its shortcomings Shadow Blade is a lot of fun to play.

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App Summary
Title: Shadow Blade Developer: Crescent Moon Games
Reviewed Ver: 1.1.1 Min OS Req: 4.0
Price: $1.99 App Size: 155 MB
  • Fun game play
  • Well designed levels
  • Tight controls
  • Excellent visuals and good sound
  • Low replay value
  • No achievements or leaderboards
  • Only one musical track

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Oceanhorn in Review – If We Can’t Have Zelda, I’ll Take This http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/12/31/oceanhorn-in-review-if-we-cant-have-zelda-ill-take-this/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/12/31/oceanhorn-in-review-if-we-cant-have-zelda-ill-take-this/#comments Tue, 31 Dec 2013 19:44:39 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73485 Games like Diablo certainly popularized the concept, but in my opinion one of the earliest examples of a good action / RPG was The Legend Of Zelda.  There have been many installments in the franchise, but more importantly there have been a ton of wannabes made in an attempt to provide the same type of … Read more]]>

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Games like Diablo certainly popularized the concept, but in my opinion one of the earliest examples of a good action / RPG was The Legend Of Zelda.  There have been many installments in the franchise, but more importantly there have been a ton of wannabes made in an attempt to provide the same type of game to non-Nintendo platforms.  Some of them have succeeded to a limited degree, but Oceanhorn is one of the few to do so in both mechanics and spirit, and probably the only one for the iOS platform so far.  Apparently you don’t need a tri-force for this type of game to be fun.

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In this game you wake up a boy and set off to become a legend as you track down the mysterious creature Oceanhorn that is somehow tied to both you and your father.  To start your journey you must recover a mysterious necklace, and during that brief quest you’ll also find your first weapon.  Much like Zelda, you tend to find the useful stuff underground in the caves and tunnels you’ll explore.  Why do they always hide everything underground?  Anyway, you also have your trusty shield and fairly early on you’ll acquire the ability to collect and use bombs, so I’m expecting to find a bow and arrow or at least a boomerang at some point.  You soon get directed to visit a new island, and as you find documentation or talk to people that reveal the history of the land new locations will be unlocked for your explorative pleasure.

Naturally this won’t be a straightforward expedition, so you’ll spend some time traveling back and forth between islands to accomplish all of your goals.  In a nod to Wind Waker you actually pilot your boat during these treks, and once you get the bombs you actually have to shoot at things as well.  On the islands you’ll battle a variety of creatures, solve basic environmental puzzles that so far tend to revolve around moving blocks around and flipping switches, and some occupants on the islands will give you quests to complete.

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Along the way you might find items that you can equip or that relate to quests, and in a nice twist when you find non-essential items you’ll automatically sell them for gold.  No seeking out shops to clear your inventory in this game!  Each island also comes with three overriding missions to complete, though some or so broad you can actually finish them on any island.  Completing missions and killing monsters earns you XP, and once you’ve gathered enough you’ll go up a level which enhance or unlock some new trait for you.  There seems to be plenty to do, and the multiple levels make for some expansive islands, but even with the mini-map it can be easy to get lost and turned around at times, especially when you’re trying to get to that treasure chest that you can see on the map but just can’t quite find on the actual game screen.

To move your character along you use an invisible virtual joystick on the lower left side which works reasonably well most of the time.  Its impreciseness can be felt at times when you are trying to cross narrow bridges and such, however.  Most actions are performed with the versatile action button in the lower right corner of the screen, and special items are activated via the graphical item button above the action button.  Don’t confuse this with the button that actually says “item” which brings up the menu of special items you can pick from.  You can throw certain items by picking them up and holding them with the action button, aiming by dragging the virtual control stick, then releasing the action button to toss.  This does take some getting used to, especially since there is no nifty guide ala Angry Birds to show you where you’re actually tossing the item.  There is also a menu accessible by touching the mini-map that shows things like your current missions, items you’ve collected and a log of everything you’ve read and everyone you’ve talked to.

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Graphically I’d say the game comes in at about the level of the Zelda series when it was on the Nintendo 64.  The backgrounds are pretty stunning at times, and there’s plenty of detail strewn throughout the levels.  Some of the monster designs are rather interesting, and there’s an obvious influence from Zelda in cases like the monster that rises from the ground and spits rocks at you (sort of a combination of two classic Zelda critters).  The sound effects are pretty good and they did a good job finding people to voice the characters, though there are times that the voices don’t necessarily match what you’d expect by looking at an individual.  The music takes me back to the days of Castlevania IV on the SNES.  That was some of the best music of the 16 bit era, and the style still holds up incredibly well as evidenced by the soundtrack in Oceanhorn.

This game does offer a few frustrations, especially when it comes to the preciseness of the controls.  However, all the good in the game far outweighs any minor inconveniences these things might provide.  I’ve always been a big fan of the Zelda series, and since Nintendo doesn’t share the closest we were ever going to get on another platform was an incredible clone.  There’s no question in my mind that Oceanhorn is that clone.  If Zelda doesn’t mean anything to you then you’re still in luck because Oceanhorn is a pretty remarkable action / adventure RPG in its own right.

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App Summary
Title: Oceanhorn ™ Developer: FDG Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.3 Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: $8.99 App Size: 170 MB
  • Closest thing to Zelda on iOS
  • Lots of world to explore
  • Challenging and rewarding game play
  • Excellent visuals
  • Great soundtrack
  • Virtual joystick not as precise as it could be
  • Often hard to judge where you’re throwing something
  • Easy to get lost on some levels

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NinJump Rooftops in Review – This Time It’s Horizontal http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/10/31/ninjump-rooftops-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/10/31/ninjump-rooftops-in-review/#comments Thu, 31 Oct 2013 20:56:50 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73317 Backflip Studios has had a number of interesting properties over the years, but for me the most endearing title in their collection has to be NinJump.  The game took the infinite runner and turned it on its side as well as introducing the concept of defeating 3 similar enemies in order to temporarily gain a … Read more]]>

Backflip Studios has had a number of interesting properties over the years, but for me the most endearing title in their collection has to be NinJump.  The game took the infinite runner and turned it on its side as well as introducing the concept of defeating 3 similar enemies in order to temporarily gain a power related to that enemy.  The ninja’s back, though this time he’s headed to the rooftops in what feels just slightly like a more traditional infinite runner.  That doesn’t make it any less addictive, though, and I fear it might suffer the same fate as the original: removal from my device so I can actually find the time for something else.

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If by some chance you’re not familiar with the infinite runner concept, the basic premise is that your character is always running and you have to perform one or more actions to help keep him safe from all the pitfalls in his way.  In the case of NinJump Rooftops all you can do is tap to jump.  If you tap longer you’ll jump higher, and when you have the right power up you’ll get three jumps instead of two.  There are other power ups as well, like a magnet to attract coins to you and sushi that temporarily turns you into Super Ninja who is much bigger and invincible.  Power ups take effect immediately, and you can have one of each if you can grab them all while the others are still active.

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You always have three different missions to work on and each mission will earn you some coins when completed.  Coins are also littered throughout the level for you to pick up at your whim.  In addition to coins you can collect jades and nindrops, though those items show up much less frequently.  Coins can be used to upgrade power ups and buy boosts at the beginning of each run, while jades will get you a couple of different costumes and allow you to continue where you left off when you die.  Nindrops give you the chance to play the NinJump version of pachinko after your run where you can win bonus prizes like coins, boosts and jades.  At this point there are is no social integration for achievements or leaderboards.

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The best part of the game is the bonus dash.  If you strike down three of a particular opponent in a row you’ll become temporarily invincible and get carted off by a large version of whatever it is that you attacked.  Unfortunately some villains are much rarer than others, so I’ve only seen three of the dashes so far.  The challenging part is getting more than one dash in the same run because it’s real easy to accidentally strike an opponent that you didn’t mean to simply because you’re in the middle of a jump.  This also makes it quite a trick to hang on to two of a particular type of opponent until you can find the third to make a bonus dash.  I think there should be some sort of prize for the player that manages to see every single dash available.

The visuals are similar to the original which means the game looks really sweet.  The background is multilayered with plenty of details throughout each level.  The characters are well designed and smoothly animated.  The sound effects do a good job of bringing the action to life and I particularly like the different noises that the ninja makes.  The music has a nice oriental ring to it, at least matching our Hollywood perception of what such music should sound like.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I have a certain predisposition towards infinite runners as it is.  However, I still get different levels of enjoyment from the genre depending on the quality, and this is one of the most entertaining ones I’ve played in quite some time.  I love what Temple Run did by providing a different viewpoint for such games, but there’s still something to be said for the side scrolling 2D perspective, and NinJump Rooftops captures that essence perfectly.  The control is super responsive, even without achievements there is plenty to work towards, and trying to get each of the bonus dashes is a particularly intriguing challenge.  Even though the switch from vertical to horizontal sort of took away what made NinJump stand out from the crowd, Rooftops proves that orientation alone does not make the game.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: NinJump Rooftops Developer: Backflip Studios
Reviewed Ver: 1.1.0 Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: Free App Size: 48.5 MB
  • Same addictive qualities as original
  • Ultra responsive control
  • Super dashes are awesome
  • Great visuals
  • Good music
  • Sucks up lots of time

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Cavemania in Review: Stone Age Match 3 Mayhem http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/10/11/cavemania-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/10/11/cavemania-in-review/#comments Sat, 12 Oct 2013 01:21:19 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73257 Not too long ago a game called Scurvy Scallywags came out that created a new breed of match 3 hybrids.  It was a welcome evolution from everything we’d seen so far, and I was hoping that more games would take the concept and run.  Well, not only did Cavemania run with it, the game created its … Read more]]>

Not too long ago a game called Scurvy Scallywags came out that created a new breed of match 3 hybrids.  It was a welcome evolution from everything we’d seen so far, and I was hoping that more games would take the concept and run.  Well, not only did Cavemania run with it, the game created its own finish line.  Now I’m not trying to say I love Scurvy Scallywags any less, and there are actually a couple of features in that game I like better, but Cavemania has me hooked.  I’m really not quite sure what to classify this as yet, but if you had to give it a label I suppose “strategy / RPG / match 3” hybrid would work as well as anything.

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So your job is to help a poor chieftain reunite his tribe that has been mercilessly scattered asunder.  Of course one would suppose that had the chieftain been doing his job in the first place this wouldn’t have happened, but I digress.  You’ll travel the land locating comrades, building structures and fending off predators.  Along the way you’ll have to gather resources, which is where the match 3 part of the game comes in.  The more items you match in one go the more resources you get (for example if you match 4 items you get 8 of that resource instead of just three).  You can also earn up to three power crystals by making matches of 4 or more, and you earn a prize box for every match of 5 or more that you make.  When you’re not busy making matches you’ll want to be sure that characters are next to any bad guys that are on the field, as they will automatically attack after every round.  Characters can only move one tile a turn but at least they can move independently of making a match.

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Each level has a set of tasks to accomplish in order for you to be successful, and those goals are displayed on the right side of the screen.  You only have so many slots to fill with character types that you can use, so you’ll want to pick the best ones for the tasks that you need to get done.  You also have a limited number of moves to work with, so make sure you keep an eye on the counter in the upper left corner.  You can play as many levels as you want as long as you beat them, but every time you lose a level you lose a heart, and when all the hearts are gone you either have to buy more via IAP or wait for them to regenerate.  Upon successful completion of a level you earn between 1 and 3 stars as well as coins for those stars.  If you go back and try to do better on a level you previously completed you will only get coins for extra stars you earn.  You can also collect money by matching certain items on the board.

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The money can be used to upgrade your characters’ offensive and defensive skills, as well as reduce the cost of building structures.  You can even buy boosts that will give you extra resources when you make matches.  Don’t expect the cash to be too easy to come by, however.  The three star ranking for each level also provides your “score” to place you on the Game Center leaderboards, and there are 27 different achievements to earn.  You can also connect with Facebook, though I’m not sure how that plays in other than giving them cause to display the message “beat this level before your friends do”.  Of course you can post your victories to Twitter and Facebook if you want.

The game looks great, with colorful characters and cute critters.  Everything is nicely detailed and your troops’ victory dances can be quite amusing.  The sound effects have somewhat of a Flintstones vibe to them, which I suppose is fitting giving the Stone Age nature of the setting.  The music is decent as well, with at least two or three different tracks playing throughout the various levels.

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When it comes to match 3 mash-ups, it doesn’t get much better than Cavemania.  A fun atmosphere, challenging levels and mechanics that go beyond other games of this sort make playing quite a treat.  As you get deeper into the game the levels do get rather challenging, but patience and often taking several tries usually pays off in the end.  And of course nothing says “quick boost” like IAP if you’re so inclined.  Despite the deluge of match 3 games that arrive on a weekly basis, this is one I can definitely recommend.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Cavemania Developer: Yodo1 Games
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.9 Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: Free App Size: 79.4 MB
  • Great mash-up of genres
  • Ability to upgrade characters and structures
  • Fun, kooky characters
  • Atmospheric sound and music
  • Great victory dances
  • Have to wait for lives to regenerate if you lose too often
  • Earning coins for decent upgrades is a slow process
  • Might be tempted to pull hair out on some levels

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Mikey Hooks in Review: He’s A Real Swinger http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/08/30/mikey-hooks-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/08/30/mikey-hooks-in-review/#comments Fri, 30 Aug 2013 14:55:34 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73066 Mikey’s been a busy boy.  He’s still looking for shorts and fighting bad guys, and now he’s added grapple hooking to his repertoire.  This sequel to the game Mikey Shorts feels very similar to the first installment, but sometimes that’s okay, as is the case here.  The levels are quick, the challenge builds up nicely over … Read more]]>

Mikey’s been a busy boy.  He’s still looking for shorts and fighting bad guys, and now he’s added grapple hooking to his repertoire.  This sequel to the game Mikey Shorts feels very similar to the first installment, but sometimes that’s okay, as is the case here.  The levels are quick, the challenge builds up nicely over time, and you can decide whether you want to make it about the stars, the cash or simply getting to the finish line.  Plus there are a whole lot of costumes to collect for those of you that like collecting things.

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The aliens are back, the humans are once again captured, and apparently Mikey is the only one savvy enough to break them free and thwart the attack on Earth.  In typical platform fashion you’ll run, jump and slide to get through and around all the obstacles thrown before you.  The aliens are protected on one or more sides by spikes, and while killing them is mainly reserved for the ones that you can actually slide into, you’re safe around any of them as long as you don’t touch the pointy protrusions.  In addition to the aliens you’ll have to deal with platforms that move and disappear, electricity and throwing stars that just happen to be floating up and down, as well as whatever else the game throws at you.  On the plus side there are plenty of coins to collect and hearts to replenish your health should you get dinged but something you shouldn’t have touched.

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The controls consist of arrows to move left and right as well as a button to slide and button that lets you jump when you tap once and use your grappling hook when you tap twice.  You can actually position the controls wherever you want on the screen, though they can still be a bit cumbersome on the iPad which is mainly the fault of the iPad’s form factor.  The controls are actually rather responsive, and the grappling hook feature is one of the best implementations of this mechanic I’ve seen on an iDevice so far.  I just wish the reset button weren’t at the top of the screen when everything else I normally do during the course of the game is at the bottom.

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You can earn up to three stars on each of the non-story levels depending on how quickly you fly through the maze.  You also get to see how many coins you collected out of the maximum for the level, though I’m not sure if you get anything special for collecting all the coins in a given level.  Thankfully you do get to keep any coins you grab in a level before you die because there are more than 200 items in the shop to buy.  If you’re a collector you’ll have plenty to work towards.  There are also 32 achievements to earn and 25 leaderboards to rank on.  Depending on your skill level you might easily coast through some of the levels, but if you take advantage of all the bonuses you can get a lot of play time out of this game.

This game has some great pixel art.  Some of the background area tends to be a bit plain, but there is still a decent amount of detail to be seen throughout the levels.  The characters are cool, Mikey and his costumes are cute, and it’s even fun to see the costumes fall off of Mikey should he lose all of his hearts.  The sound effects are pretty standard for this type of game, but the music does a good job of rockin’ out in the background.  Each world seems to have its own theme which is always nice.

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Mikey Hooks is a nice progression for the series with the addition of the grappling hook which makes for some interesting level design.  However, I hope they push things even further if they decide to make a third installment.  Mikey Hooks has been great fun, and I might even convince myself to try and collect a sizeable portion of the disguises, but I don’t want to see this franchise end up like League Of Evil where each iteration doesn’t feel enough different from the next.  If you like platform games, though, and especially if you are fond of retro inspired fare, you won’t want to pass this one up.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Mikey Hooks Developer: BeaverTap Games, LLC
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $1.99 App Size:
  • More fun Mikey action
  • Grappling hook is nice addition
  • Lots to collect to keep you coming back
  • Nice retro visuals
  • Good soundtrack
  • Controls a bit uncomfortable on iPad
  • Need more diversity in game play

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Sparkle 2 in Review – Lame Name, Incredible Game http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/06/14/sparkle-2-in-review-lame-name-incredible-game/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/06/14/sparkle-2-in-review-lame-name-incredible-game/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 14:14:12 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=72725 When it comes to certain genres like marble poppers, there’s not a lot of variation to be expected in actual game mechanics, unless you create some sort of mash up like what has become popular with match 3 games.  What does set one entry apart from another is the presentation, and in that regards Sparkle … Read more]]>

When it comes to certain genres like marble poppers, there’s not a lot of variation to be expected in actual game mechanics, unless you create some sort of mash up like what has become popular with match 3 games.  What does set one entry apart from another is the presentation, and in that regards Sparkle 2 excels even more than its predecessor did.  There are a couple of other things that make it rise to the top, though, so don’t think I’ve been unduly distracted by glittery things.  In the end, the Sparkle franchise continues to be my favorite marble popping addiction.

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Te basic premise is that you have a series of objects, in this case orbs, which travel from point A to point B.  You have to stop them by launching additional orbs into the groups to make matches of three or more.  Matches disappear, gaps close up, and if you’re lucky more matches will occur to cause a chain reaction.  Ultimately you must eliminate each and every group on a level before you can safely move on to the next.  Every few levels you will earn a new enhancement that can be used in one of three slots on your slinger, and these can be changed out at the beginning of each level.  Try various combinations to see what works well together with your playing style.  There are also some cool power ups that mostly help you eliminate some of the excess orbs on the board, though a couple of them just affect the speed of the groups.  Power ups are dished out for every three shots you fire in a row that result in matches.

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The only thing you have to worry about it tapping where you want to fire.  Amulets are used simply because you have slotted them, and power ups are activated when you shoot them with an orb.  Tapping is ultra responsive, so if you’re trying to switch active orbs in your slinger, make sure you actually tap on the slinger instead of close to it.  I’ve misfired many a time because of that, which is strictly my fault.  Story mode contains 90 levels that will entertain and challenge you, and after you’ve played a certain number of those you’ll unlock Challenges mode, where you can play certain key levels at three different difficulty settings.  There’s also a Survival mode where you try to earn up to five stars on several different levels by playing for as long as you can.  Throw in a few achievements and there is certainly plenty to do.  All they need to figure out now is some sort of cool two player mode.

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The graphics are great when you consider that you’re basically dealing with a bunch of orbs and some fancy special effects.  I’m not sure what else they could add, though the cut scenes could be a little more interesting visually.  The sound effects work really well with the action, and the spell sounds and voiceovers are especially well done.  Hands down, though, the best part of the audio / visual experience is the music.  I’m positive many of the tracks are remixes or simply borrowed from the original, but whatever the origin this is some of the best music for a casual game I’ve ever heard.  If you were in a different room and heard the music blaring you might think someone was watching a movie.

If you like this style of game play there’s no question that you’ll want to get Sparkle 2.  If you’ve never played a marble popper type game before, the Sparkle series is probably one of the best places to start.  The action is fast and furious, the visuals are quite nice, and the soundtrack is amazing.  If this doesn’t get you hooked on the genre, I don’t know what will.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Sparkle 2 Developer: 10tons Ltd
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $2.99 App Size:
  • Same fast paced, addictive action as the original
  • Lots of enhancements to earn and mix / match
  • Sharp, flashy visals
  • Killer soundtrack
  • Nothing significant

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The Room in Review – One Location, Plenty Of Fun http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/05/24/the-room-in-review-one-location-plenty-of-fun/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/05/24/the-room-in-review-one-location-plenty-of-fun/#comments Fri, 24 May 2013 16:45:09 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=72662 I couldn’t decide if I wanted to invest in The Room or not, but I was really tempted to grab it when the game went on sale for 99 cents.  A raving review in a TouchArcade forum I frequent pushed me over the edge and I made the purchase, but then I began to play it … Read more]]>

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to invest in The Room or not, but I was really tempted to grab it when the game went on sale for 99 cents.  A raving review in a TouchArcade forum I frequent pushed me over the edge and I made the purchase, but then I began to play it and started having second thoughts.  Once I went back to it after a day or two, however, something clicked and I realized how brilliant the game was.  I’ve always been more interested in Sierra and LucasArts style adventure games with lots of convoluted object puzzles and silly dialog than pure puzzle based games like Myst, but something about The Room captured my attention and wouldn’t let go.

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The entirety of the game takes place in a single room, and as a point of fact centers around a single entity, at least as far as I’ve seen.  The object is a large ornately carved box designed by your professor friend, and your task is to unlock all of its mysteries and figure out what the professor was studying before he disappeared.  In some ways you’ll really want to learn more about what he was studying, but truthfully you’ll be so intrigued by figuring out what the answer to the next puzzle is that you will forget there’s a reason behind what you’re doing.  That is, of course, until you find the next note that the professor has left.

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What makes this game stand out from basically any other puzzle / adventure game you’ve played before is how well it makes use of the features on your device.  The game is 3D, but that’s not just for looks.  You’ll constantly be rotating your view point and zooming in to explore the box and all that it holds.  Puzzles might require you to tilt the device to accomplish something.  A roll top lid actually expects you to use your finger to swipe as if you were rolling the lid.  Drag a drawer to open it up.  Flick a switch to reposition it.  This is one of the most interactive puzzle games I’ve ever seen that doesn’t require you to don virtual reality gear.  There are even some puzzles that require you to use multiple fingers to manipulate more than one thing at the same time.  And just wait until you have to start zooming in on and manipulating inventory items!

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Equally compelling is the hint system.  Each hint has multiple levels, and so far none of them have really outright given me the answer to anything.  They’re really meant more to strongly guide you in the direction that you need to go, which is the way a hint system should work.  If I had one gripe about the whole thing it’s that there are times where I just had no idea what to do without a hint, but since the hints aren’t too revealing I don’t mind that very much.

The game looks great.  I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say “eerily” realistic like the iTunes description, but the visuals certainly transcend most iOS games in terms of detail, especially when it comes to puzzle games.  You occasionally run into the typical 3D redraw issues when zooming in on certain areas, but for the most part everything is rendered exceptionally well.  The background is more ambiance than music, and that I would describe as eerie for a different reason.  It often reminds me of the noises one might hear in a Japanese horror film like The Grudge.  The sound effects all fit in nicely with whatever it is you are manipulating, whether it be wood, metal or whatever else.

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The Room is an amazing game.  It turns being locked into a room and focusing on one main object an engaging process.  I would certainly not want to see all adventure games go this route, but if a developer snuck one of these into the App Store every once in a while I certainly wouldn’t complain. One thing I hope more developers do take away from this product is that it doesn’t need to be an action game in order for you to take advantage of all the nuances the device has to offer.  If you like your adventure with a heavy dose of puzzles and a little story to tie everything together, you really don’t want to ignore this game any longer.

Kiss It Rating- 5/5

App Summary
Title: The Room Developer: Fireproof Games
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: $1.99 App Size:
  • Wonderful puzzles that take advantage of things like multi-touch and tilt
  • Excellent visuals
  • Great sound
  • Sometimes difficult to figure out what to do next

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The Silent Age in Review – No Marty McFly Here! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/04/20/the-silent-age-in-review-no-marty-mcfly-here/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/04/20/the-silent-age-in-review-no-marty-mcfly-here/#comments Sun, 21 Apr 2013 04:56:13 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=72378 Now that developers are comfortable with the iOS platform and have realized how well it works for adventure games we’re starting to see a lot more original content come to Apple’s mobile devices.  One of the latest entries in the genre is The Silent Age, and it’s clear the folks behind this game know a … Read more]]>

Now that developers are comfortable with the iOS platform and have realized how well it works for adventure games we’re starting to see a lot more original content come to Apple’s mobile devices.  One of the latest entries in the genre is The Silent Age, and it’s clear the folks behind this game know a thing or two about what made the old Sierra classics great.  If I had to come up with a down side, it’s that the game was over just as it was reaching its peak.  Thankfully the developers are already hard at work on a sequel, though, so even that little inconvenience will be rectified at some point.

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You woke up on this particular morning and went to work just like every other day. Who knew that you’d go from mild mannered janitor to time traveler extraordinaire on a quest to save the world from itself?  The story sucks you in from the very beginning and doesn’t let go until the final cut scene is done.  In fact, I was a bit sad when the game ended, because I really wanted to know why the future became the world it had become.  The one thing that was a bit lacking after the initial few minutes of the game was character interaction, but I suppose that’s what happens when you become a fugitive on top of everything else.

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The game uses pretty standard touch screen adventuring mechanics.  Tap the screen to move, tap on an item to interact with it or tap on an inventory item and then an item on the screen to use the two things together.  I will admit that there were a few occasions where a screen simply turned into a hunt and peck fest, and once in a while it didn’t seem like there was much guidance as to what to do next, but for the most part the game flowed nicely and there was never a time that I was so stuck that I needed a hint.  While it is by no means a new technique, I think the developers did a really good job of utilizing the need to go back and forth between two time periods in order to solve certain puzzles.  If there was one thing I didn’t care for it was the fact that the screens were all linear in the sense that you could only move left and right.  Even the old Sierra games understood that the world was more engaging when you added a sense of depth with the ability to move in and out of the screen.

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Visually The Silent Age is a treat.  It has a look that is both highly detailed and somewhat simplistic at the same time, and it pulls it off quite well.  Given the stylized look they did a good job of making the future seem bleak graphically speaking.  It really has a modern Sierra Online feel to it.  The sound effects are well done, though I do wish the characters had some voice to them.  The music is certainly good when it’s there.  I do hope there’s a more complete soundtrack in the second installment of the game.

The Silent Age is a prime example of how to make a good point and click – or tap – adventure game, regardless of the platform.  The story is interesting, the puzzles flow nicely and don’t get you too frustrated, and the game looks and sounds good.  While I was disappointed when it ended it felt like it was a pretty good length, and it certainly left me wanting a sequel.  There were a few niggling points where I could see some improvement, but overall I was very happy with my time spent in The Silent Age.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: The Silent Age Developer: House on Fire
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.0
Price: Free App Size:
  • Captivating story
  • Good puzzle design
  • Stylish visuals
  • Nice audio elements
  • Scene design too linear
  • No voiceovers
  • Needs more music

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Sporos in Review – Puzzling And Relaxing All In One http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/03/02/sporos-in-review-puzzling-and-relaxing-all-in-one/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/03/02/sporos-in-review-puzzling-and-relaxing-all-in-one/#comments Sat, 02 Mar 2013 22:47:34 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=72043 Sporos is one of those games that makes you wonder why they haven’t done something like it before.  The game is like a chain reaction puzzler except that instead of trying to destroy objects and clear the board you’re attempting to fill the board with the few objects you’re given.  It’s a clever take on the … Read more]]>

Sporos is one of those games that makes you wonder why they haven’t done something like it before.  The game is like a chain reaction puzzler except that instead of trying to destroy objects and clear the board you’re attempting to fill the board with the few objects you’re given.  It’s a clever take on the genre, and if it’s been done before I must have missed it.  Whatever the case I’m glad I’ve been introduced to the idea now, and Sporos is certainly a great starting point for getting acquainted with this type of gameplay.

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So where you’d normally start out with a full playing field, in Sporos all the tiles are empty.  At the top of the board are multiple pieces, each of which has several lines drawn in them.  The lines indicate in which directions spores will be created once you play the piece.  You have two objectives: use all the pieces and fill all the tiles.  Spores that are created can overlap each other, but you cannot place a piece on a tile that already contains a spore.  What’s really neat is that you can drag a piece to a tile and until you let go to place the piece it will show you all the tiles that will be filled in if you use the piece.  If you decide you don’t want to use a piece just drag it back to the top, even once you’ve placed it on the board.

I’ve only seen one deviation in the gameplay at this point, which is tiles that redirect the flow of spores when they are encountered.  While it might be nice to have more specialty tiles (and maybe they do come later since there are 500 levels), it impresses me how well the game holds my attention with what it has.  It also makes me look forward to getting to new level sets in the hopes that they will bring new features.  One thing that’s really refreshing about Sporos is that there are no time limits and you don’t get penalized for taking your time to think.  It’s nice when a game actually encourages you to plan your attack, as it were.  There’s no score to be had, but there are 19 achievements to earn, several of which revolve around acquiring stars.  I’m not sure what drives a three star rating, but if you don’t get three stars on a level you can simply go back to the menu and select the level again to “reset the counter” so to speak.

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The visuals are fairly simple, yet they can be quite mesmerizing.  There’s just enough movement taking place to keep you from falling into a daze, and the neon spores are a nice contrast the more basic colors of the background and tiles.  The music is very soothing and also sounds vaguely familiar.  It really enhances the hypnotic effect of the presentation.  The sound effects sound like popping bubbles, which is another soothing noise, at least for me.  I guess once you’ve beaten the game you can use the sights and sounds to lull you to sleep on a rough night!

This is one of the best puzzle games I’ve played in a long time. It gives you a feeling of satisfaction without the frustration of believing that you only beat a level because you got lucky.  It’s an original concept that sets itself apart from the crowd in a good way.  And it has an incredible presentation without resorting to another cute leading character (and don’t get me wrong, I like cute leading characters).  If you’re looking for something different to play, look no further than Sporos.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Sporos Developer: AppXplore Sdn Bhd
Reviewed Ver:  1.1 Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $0.99 App Size:  7.5MB
  • Original concept
  • Gives you time to think
  • Plenty of levels
  • Aesthetics are mesmerizing
  • Universal App
  • Nothing significant

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Metal Slug 2 in Review: Who Needs 3D? http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/02/22/metal-slug-2-in-review-who-needs-3d/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/02/22/metal-slug-2-in-review-who-needs-3d/#comments Sat, 23 Feb 2013 02:57:21 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=71984 I’m all for the latest trends in technology.  In the end, though, I just want my games to be fun.  If there’s one thing the METAL SLUG series has proven over and over again it’s that you don’t need the latest 3D accelerated graphics or quad core processor to make an enjoyable game.  In fact, as … Read more]]>

I’m all for the latest trends in technology.  In the end, though, I just want my games to be fun.  If there’s one thing the METAL SLUG series has proven over and over again it’s that you don’t need the latest 3D accelerated graphics or quad core processor to make an enjoyable game.  In fact, as a whole it seems like ports of older games provide some of the most intense scrolling shooter experiences available on the iOS platform.  Besides, there’s something about awesome pixel art and classic 90’s video game tunes that’s hard to beat these days.

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The plot goes something like this… wait, there’s a plot?  If you can remember “shoot the bad guys and free the POW’s”, then not much else matters.  What I’ve always loved about these games is you pretty much hold down the trigger and run.  Anything that needs to be blasted will be summarily demolished, and everything else will be left alone.  When you get close enough to the enemy you’ll go commando and take them out with your knife.  Along the way there will be plenty of POWs to free, and in addition to thanking you for their rescue they will provide you with some sort of bonus, whether it is a power up, bombs or simply something to give you more points.  There are also fun quirks like one level where picking up the food left behind will temporarily bloat you and make you slower, and another level where mummies’ visibly bad breath will turn you into a dead-head as well.

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I believe every level has a vehicle you can commandeer at some point, my favorite conceptually being the weapon toting camel but practically being the jet fighter.  If you can actually keep the vehicle long enough to get to the boss it makes that battle so much easier, not to mention the fact that you’ll get lots of bonus points if you actually beat the boss with the vehicle.  The game only has six levels, but even on easy mode I’m still working to beat them all, and that’s with 3 lives on each of the 20 continues you’re given.  I don’t know what the other difficulty settings are like, but I imagine Very Hard could even give seasoned players a run for their money.  Arcade mode lets you attempt to run through all six levels in a row, while Mission mode gives you the chance to practice on any level you’ve beaten in Arcade mode.  There’s also a two player mode, but I haven’t had the chance to double team it with another player yet.

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To move your solider you have a virtual joypad, and to shoot, jump and throw bombs you have three buttons.  You can actually position these controls anywhere on the screen you’d like.  I’ve never had a problem with responsiveness on any of the buttons, and only occasionally does it seem difficult to fire in the correct direction with the virtual joypad, which usually involves trying to fire down.  I will say that with the default button layout my hands actually did start to tire around the middle of level 5.  There are leaderboards thanks to Game Center, and for those who don’t feel that completing the game is enough of an accomplishment there are also 16 achievements, one of which is beating the game without using a continue.

Of course as fun as the action is, what makes this game stand out is the visuals.  Sure it has that 90’s pixel art look to it.  But this game is still one of the most detailed of its kind that I’ve seen.  Enemy soldiers laugh when you bite the dust, only to look shocked and scared after you show up again out of nowhere.  Your solider even huffs and puffs with relief when a level is complete.  The background is full of little extras and everything is exquisitely animated.  The sound effects simply augment everything that’s going on.  The only thing missing there is possibly some chatter when you see people talking on the side of the street.  The music is pure 90’s video game gold, and I’m pretty sure each level has its own theme.

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I’m not suggesting that modern developers can’t make a good run and gun, but just as someone designing a competent vertical shooter should play 1942, anyone that cares about the quality of their run and gun games must take on the Metal Slug series.  Sure there have been other amazing series – Contra comes to mind – but Metal Slug is the one I always find myself drawn back to when I need a quick “blast ‘em all” fix.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: METAL SLUG 2 Developer: SNK PLAYMORE
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $3.99 App Size:
  • Intense, addictive action
  • A good sense of humor
  • Amazing visuals
  • Great music and sound
  • Progress in arcade mode isn’t saved
  • Firing down can be challenging

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