TouchMyApps » rating-tap http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Fri, 12 Sep 2014 16:31:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.4 Fin Friends in Review – Friendly, But Not Much New http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/05/02/fin-friends-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/05/02/fin-friends-in-review/#comments Fri, 03 May 2013 04:44:22 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=72522 What do you get when you take two artists from a well known company and set them on their own to design mobile games?  Apparently you get a family friendly cave flyer style game that takes place under water with fish.  Fin Friends is one of those games that are nice, but other than some … Read more]]>

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What do you get when you take two artists from a well known company and set them on their own to design mobile games?  Apparently you get a family friendly cave flyer style game that takes place under water with fish.  Fin Friends is one of those games that are nice, but other than some flashy graphics it doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the pack.  If you like cave flyer or infinite runner style games you’ll enjoy Fin Friends, but don’t expect to see any revolutionary game play elements here.

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You control Ruby, and you must help him rescue his friends from the Blowfish Gang.  Thankfully the only skill you’ll need it the ability to tap the screen, because that’s the only control the game offers.  While your finger is on the screen Ruby goes up, and when you let go Ruby dives down.  Naturally timing is the key, because if you hold to long or don’t let go soon enough you won’t be able to dodge the oncoming enemies.  At least you’re spared the agony of having to worry about floors or ceilings like you do in most cave flyer style games.  On the other hand, each level beyond the first has a boss to deal with, which could be anything from a large eel that covers the width of the screen or a crab that skates across the top of the water on a leaf and tosses its babies at you.

Along the way you’ll want to rip nets to free your friends.  Not only is it the right thing to do, but any friends that are following you at the end of the level will “net” you bonus points, and should you happen to get hit with at least one friend following you the friends will act as a buffer so you get a second chance.  There are also stars you can collect that will let you upgrade your power ups, which fall under the typical gamut of things like a speed boost, slow motion, a shield and a magnet.  There are a few extra characters to unlock as well, though I don’t think they make any difference to game play and you’ll be collecting stars for quite a while to get them.  At the beginning of a swim you’ll be presented with three goals to achieve, and once you’ve completed all of them (which may take several tries) you’ll move up a level and get three more goals.  At least for a while, every time you go up a level you’ll earn a new friend that gives you a higher score multiplier.

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The visuals are quite nice.  I’m pretty sure it’s typical computer generated imagery, but the characters especially have a claymation look to them.  The backgrounds are nicely detailed and there’s a decent amount of animation.  They even did a pretty good job with the water effects.  The sound effects help bring the world alive – it’s especially reassuring to hear the cheers of your friends as you bring them home.  The music is fun, but it does get a bit repetitive after a while.

If you love “infinite” games you should have no problem getting into Fin Friends, and you might even get as addicted as you would to any other such game.  Just don’t expect to find anything new here.  Nice visuals, a decent soundtrack and plenty of objectives formulate the basis for an entertaining but “been there, done that” experience.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Fin Friends Developer: Claybox
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.0
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Ruby is quite responsive
  • The bosses are fun
  • Visuals look pretty sweet
  • Music is upbeat
  • Nothing new
  • Don’t know progress of objectives until complete
  • Only seems to be one music track

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Super Dragon in Review – Cool, But Not Really Super http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/01/04/super-dragon-in-review-cool-but-not-really-super/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/01/04/super-dragon-in-review-cool-but-not-really-super/#comments Fri, 04 Jan 2013 23:39:25 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=71622 Super Dragon is another physics based puzzle game, but at least it doesn’t have the same “topple buildings and defeat the opponents within” type feel that the Angry Birds movement spurred.  This time around you play a dragon that simply wants to get his teeth back so he won’t be laughed at by all his friends.  … Read more]]>

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Super Dragon is another physics based puzzle game, but at least it doesn’t have the same “topple buildings and defeat the opponents within” type feel that the Angry Birds movement spurred.  This time around you play a dragon that simply wants to get his teeth back so he won’t be laughed at by all his friends.  Naturally, though, your teeth end up in all sorts of precarious spots, and it’s to you and your fireballs to figure out how to get them back without knocking yourself out in the process.

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Yep, in this game you have the potential of being your own worst enemy.  Well, technically it’s the ton of furniture and old appliances that will eventually do you in, but you will certainly help the process along.  It seems your teeth always end up on top of a pile of stuff that would make any self respecting hillbilly proud, and in order to get to your chompers you need to clear away as much of the stuff as possible.  On each level you’ll have a certain number of fireballs that you can launch by pulling the dragon’s tail and dragging to aim.  When you let you go you can sit back for a bit and watch the resulting carnage ensue.  The trick is to destroy enough stuff so that your teeth can fall to where you are waiting.

The problem is that these things hurt when they knock you on the head.  If too many things strike you in the head before the teeth get to you the round is over.  If the teeth fall “out of bounds” or get stuck somewhere when you run out of fireballs, the round is over.  Falling ice can freeze you, which can be a bit problematic.  Then there are the three rainclouds on each level.  They can pour rain on you to douse your flames, generate lightening to fry your body or turn into little tornadoes to deflect your shots, none of which are a good thing.  Getting these clouds earns you stars so you can unlock level sets, so you need to time things so that your fireballs strike the clouds when they are behaving.  Timing can be quite tricky on some of these levels.

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Then there are the hats.  A football helmet deflects some of the falling debris, while an umbrella helmet protects you from the rain for a while.  There are several others that can come to your aid as well, and if you’re lucky you’ll find them tucked in present boxes on the levels.  Otherwise you can head over to the shop to purchase them, but this is a costly proposition because you have to buy the hats in groups of 5 and the cheapest bundle is 250 coins.  So far I’ve found that I don’t earn very many coins on any given level.  Of course IAP can help you there.  In my opinion the hats should just make life a bit easier or they should not be so costly to acquire, because there are some levels that seem nearly impossible without them.  I also feel I should mention that there is a two player mode, but to date I have not been able to try it because as soon as Game Center finds me a random opponent I seem to get disconnected immediately.

The graphics are cute, and it’s fun to watch all the stuff breaking apart and falling down.  And even though you really start to feel sorry for the poor dragon, it is amusing watching him get a cartoon-style goose bump on his head, fried to a crisp and more.  The sound effects do a great job of augmenting the silly nature of the game, especially when the dragon cries out because he knows he’s not getting his teeth.  Sadly there is little music, and the riff that does play during the menus is only two or three bars long so it gets repetitive way too fast.

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I like the concept behind Super Dragon, and it definitely has a fun atmosphere.  It doesn’t feel like just another clone of something else, and there’s certainly plenty of challenge to be had.  I just think they need to tone the difficulty down a bit or make it easier to acquire hats so that the game doesn’t become a matter of dumping enough IAP into it to be able to purchase the right hats to win.  I’d also love to see a stable multiplayer mode as I’m curious to see how that feature actually plays out.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

 

App Summary
Title: Super Dragon Developer: Fifth Wonder
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Lighthearted atmosphere
  • Not just another clone
  • Plenty of levels
  • Cool graphics and sound effects
  • Very difficult to get hats
  • Couldn’t play multiplayer
  • The little music that exists is dull

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Zombie Quest HD – Mastermind The Hexes! in Review – Good Idea, Not Enough Content http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/09/28/zombie-quest-hd-mastermind-the-hexes-in-review-good-idea-not-enough-content/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/09/28/zombie-quest-hd-mastermind-the-hexes-in-review-good-idea-not-enough-content/#comments Fri, 28 Sep 2012 10:55:13 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=70068 I have to confess that I did not know what type of game Zombie Quest HD was when I agreed to review it, but the allure of undead participants and a quirky board game were too much for me to refuse.  I was a bit surprised to discover that it was simply an Othello variant, but … Read more]]>

I have to confess that I did not know what type of game Zombie Quest HD was when I agreed to review it, but the allure of undead participants and a quirky board game were too much for me to refuse.  I was a bit surprised to discover that it was simply an Othello variant, but then it turned out to be quite an amusing twist on the original.  Then it was over, just as I was really getting into it.  The changes from its inspiration are welcome additions, but for this game to rise above the rest it at least needs to either expand its level set or make multi-player more than just hot-seat, if not both.

Basically, Zombie Quest is one of those games were each time starts with a certain number of pieces on the board, and at the end of the game the person with the most pieces wins.  To get extra pieces you can clone one of your pieces to an adjacent tile or move to a tile that is surrounded by your opponent’s pieces.  The former will get you one extra piece, while the latter will convert all adjacent pieces that belong to your opponent over to your side.  There are five worlds to conquer, each with four boards, and as you progress through the boards on each level they get bigger and theoretically more challenging.  Truthfully, though, there were only 2 or 3 boards that really gave me any sort of grief.

To complicate matter, some tiles have grates on them, and every so many turns fire comes out of those grates, torching whoever is on that tile.  If enough of those pieces belong to you, it could easily turn the tide of the game.  You’ll also earn a power up for completing each world.  These power ups can be used in place of your turn and range from a crane that will remove one piece from the board to a bomb that can destroy the pieces on a selected tile and all adjacent tiles.  You can use more than one power up per game and you can even use the same power up more than once, but each power up has a cool down period so keep that in mind when planning your strategy.

To move a piece you tap to select and tap to move.  To use a power up you tap the power up and then tap where you want to use it.  The mechanics are simple as can be, but one simple addition I’d like to see is the possibility to unselect a piece by tapping it again.  There are achievements to earn, but sadly beyond that there’s no reason to return to the main campaign once you’ve beaten it, which won’t take most players too terribly long.  There’s also a multi-player mode, but sadly it is only hot seat at the moment.  I’m not much for online games, but this is one I’d probably be willing to play over the internet if the option existed.

While the game is horror monster themed, the visuals are an interesting mix of cartoony and macabre.  The character designs look good, but there are silly little things like the creatures on the chamber level periodically sticking their tongues out at you or the vampires having Mohawks.  The sound effects are pretty cool and again occasionally have some “cute” stuff thrown in.  One thing I really appreciate is there appears to be a unique theme for each world, and the music is well written.

Zombie Quest is a fun variant of the Othello style game, with things like flaming grates and power ups to set it apart from the pack.  The horror monster theme is nifty as well.  Unfortunately, the game is simply over way too quickly unless you have someone physically by you that wants to play.  Additional levels would help, and maybe even the ability to tweak difficulty settings.  Ultimately, though, I think the game needs internet connectivity for human competition in order to give it some longevity.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Zombie Quest HD – Mastermind the hexes! Developer: Pavel Tarabrin
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $1.99 App Size:
  • Power ups and flaming grates
  • Cool visuals
  • Good music
  • Campaign is too short
  • Only supports hot seat for multi-player

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Canyon Dash in Review – Needs More Adrenaline http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/08/20/canyon-dash-in-review-needs-more-adrenaline/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/08/20/canyon-dash-in-review-needs-more-adrenaline/#comments Mon, 20 Aug 2012 15:53:00 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=68259 Lately I’ve been touting how sometimes it seems like the simplest games are the most engaging.  Unfortunately simplicity can have just the opposite effect, and I think Canyon Dash is almost to that point.  The concept of a runaway mine cart on a dangerous track has always been intriguing, but there’s not much more than a … Read more]]>

Lately I’ve been touting how sometimes it seems like the simplest games are the most engaging.  Unfortunately simplicity can have just the opposite effect, and I think Canyon Dash is almost to that point.  The concept of a runaway mine cart on a dangerous track has always been intriguing, but there’s not much more than a concept to go on here.  It’s not that Canyon Dash is a bad game, it’s just that there are other offerings on the App Store that make the renegade mine cart notion a lot more entertaining.

You control a mine cart, and your job is to navigate the never ending tracks until you make a wrong turn and crash into something.  For me that seems to happen a lot in a short amount of time.  Your score is based on the number of gems and gold bars you collect along the way, with each gem worth 50 points and gold bars netting you a whopping 1000 points.  You then get some bonus points thrown on for how far you travelled and it’s “play again or quit”.  There is no social network integration, so you’re only competing for high scores against whoever uses your device and there are no achievements to earn.

To control the cart you simply tilt your device left and right.  It works, but I often find myself tilting just a little too much, which is hard to notice until you accidentally miss a turn and end up smacking a rock.  I think I would prefer left and right buttons to the tilt method.  The only other action you can do during the game is tap the screen when you have dynamite so you can clear off gray boulders that are impeding your progress.  The problem there is that you have no on-screen indication of how much dynamite you have, so unless you know you just picked one up your better off avoiding the boulders altogether.

The graphics are actually pretty nice.  The background has lots of details, the cart looks as cool as a mine cart can look, and there are nifty sparkles when you pick up gems or a cloud of dust during the inevitable crash.  I think this engine would actually work well for an overhead racing game.  The sound effects are decent enough, though obviously limited since there’s not much for you to do in the game.  Some ambient sound effects would be great, and even better would be some background music.  The game is fairly quiet up until the point where you take that final plunge into some unsuspecting background feature.

Canyon Dash is a great start of a game.  Sadly, it really feels like more of a start than a full game.  Just some of the things it could use is more game play modes, more to do during a run, and social network integration.  Any one of these would make a big difference, and all three could make this a completely different game.  Canyon Dash definitely needs a little dash of something.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Canyon Dash Developer: Gavin Clifton
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Easy to figure out
  • Nice graphics
  • Not much going on
  • Only supports tilt controls
  • No leaderboards / achievements
  • No music

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Parker Planner 1.4 in Review – Solid Start but Can’t Wait for 2.0 http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/08/14/parker-planner-1-4-in-review-solid-start-but-cant-wait-for-2-0/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/08/14/parker-planner-1-4-in-review-solid-start-but-cant-wait-for-2-0/#comments Tue, 14 Aug 2012 20:36:56 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=69283 There are two kinds of people: one who cares about productivity apps, the other not so much. If you are among the latter, you may consider skipping this review. But if you – like me – enjoy checking out the latest attempts in raising ones productivity levels, then you may already have heard about Parker … Read more]]>

There are two kinds of people: one who cares about productivity apps, the other not so much. If you are among the latter, you may consider skipping this review. But if you – like me – enjoy checking out the latest attempts in raising ones productivity levels, then you may already have heard about Parker Planner. Ethan Parker and his team left the paper planner business in order to concentrate on creating the perfect day planning app. Let’s see how far along they are!

First Impressions

Even the Parker Planner logo is easy on the eyes

Parker Planner really looks great. While it is not the be-all and end-all, the design can definitely be a deal-breaker for many. PP uses red and white to spice up its otherwise smooth grey interface. Recently they also added the choice of a blue or green theme, and they only show on the current day/week/month views. Once you scroll ahead or backwards, the UI will turn gray. You may also elect to add a paper-like texture to the background, which I found a little rough. The main screen (which is really the main feature of the app) is the day view; it includes a timetable view on the left half of the screen, and a split right side with to-dos on the top and notes below. To me this split day view has a lot of potential, however it feels a little unpolished just yet. You will see my reasons in a second.

Color coded events in past (gray) day view

Usability

People with a busy schedule – or those without a laser sharp memory – like to start their mornings by going over the tasks and events of the day ahead. For that this split day view is a great idea, as one can see everything at a glance. Parker Planner handles all the usual Calendars and does show the color codes already set in the built-in iOS calendar. The available day/week/month/notes/to-dos views are all clear and straight forward. There are some flaws of course , though none of which would not be too hard to fix.

Day View – Calendars, To-dos, Notes

Events are displayed in separate rows, which result in a great overview. But on the flip side, we can only see up to six rows (events or breaks) at a time. No matter what time of the day it is, day view always shows the timetable from 8AM even when it’s already 6PM. I would definitely welcome the option to change this default value, or at least have it start from the present time. It would also be great if one could zoom in and out for either more details or events to be displayed on screen. While adding a new item is easy (just click on an empty time slot), such new events will always start at :00 minutes and last for one hour. If you want anything else, you first have to create an event and after tapping it again, you will be presented with the calendar.app event edit window (not Apple’s best creation) to make your changes. Quick and effective event creation is one of the most important features of scheduler apps, and this is one of the most important areas where Parker Planner needs to improve upon.

Going over to the to-dos section, you may find it very easy to add a new item: just tap on the top (blank) row and type. A done task can be checked off easily by tapping on the square next to it. Unfortunately the items cannot be reorganized (neither here nor in the Todos view) – you always see the latest unchecked on the top and only four of them are visible. No due dates, no alarms can be set. On a positive note incomplete to-dos carry over to any date.

If you decide to use Parker Planner as your go-to productivity app, the notes feature is very handy. It works smoothly – just tap and type. The box becomes scrollable if the text is larger than the area.

Today's events with notes and to-dos hidden (red theme)

Week View

Again, we get a solid overview, with all day events in the top row and the actual schedule (8:00-17:00) below. Current time is not displayed. Sadly, events cannot be added or edited from here (if you tap on an event it prompts to the day-view).

Month View

Month view to me feels like strictly a navigation point. You don’t know how many events you have on the days of the month;  you only get a sort of heat map with color coded squares. The colors reflect the calendar of the item, while the number of squares strangely stand for how busy the day is (and not the actual number of events). One can easily go to a day with a single tap, or to a week with a swipe.

Week view in blue

To-dos, Notes, List View, Jump to

In the to-dos view we can see both incomplete and completed tasks, add new ones and check off or delete anyone of them. Due dates and notification options are missing here, too. A real downer for me. Notes are nothing spectacular, just a regular list view of notes and their creation date. That said, it works well. Meanwhile, List View shows all the events (to-dos are excluded) in active calendars and you can long tap on items to edit them. You may also directly jump to any past or future date.

Month view, green theme with texture

Settings and Conclusion

To me customization is the key to having a great productivity app. Parker Planner – for now – lacks such flexibility. Other than calendar selection, choice of color theme, we don’t get much else. No preferred week start, no defining work hours, no notification options, no default calendar selection, etc. Without deep settings options Parker Planner can easily fall short for a lot of users.

And that is my main problem with this app in its current state: because of the lack of flexibility, it requires more steps than necessary. In general, it has a sort of beta-version feel to it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it provides plenty of hope that it may still fulfill its potential. For this potential, I recommend Parker Planner for those who are consistently on the look out for promising calendar apps – if for nothing else than to review it yourself and help the enthusiastic dev team with your feedback.

Go tap it – I certainly have!

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Parker Planner Developer: Parker Planners
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Nice design
  • Great overview
  • Intergration of events, to-dos and notes
  • What works works well
  • Plenty of room for improvement
  • Very few setting options
  • No due dates, no notification
  • General beta-version feeling
  • Plenty of room for improvement

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Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia in Review – Skeletal Genocide on an Evil Scale http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/09/defender-chronicles-ii-heroes-of-athelia-in-review-skeletal-genocide-on-an-evil-scale/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/09/defender-chronicles-ii-heroes-of-athelia-in-review-skeletal-genocide-on-an-evil-scale/#comments Mon, 09 Jul 2012 15:48:56 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=68914 As someone who spends quite a bit of time with the many forms of iOS, I see roughly as many Tower Defense games in a month as there are base foot soldiers in any given TD game. However, every so often one of them is good enough to break through my defenses and march straight … Read more]]>

As someone who spends quite a bit of time with the many forms of iOS, I see roughly as many Tower Defense games in a month as there are base foot soldiers in any given TD game. However, every so often one of them is good enough to break through my defenses and march straight into my good books. Such is the challenge facing Gimka Entertainment with their offering of Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia.

In DC2, players must defend the world of Athelia from the evil armies attempting to take it over. Their motives? No one truly knows, but I believe it’s safe to assume they’re not simply looking for a new place to buy more crooked staffs, black robes, and ragged skeleton pants.

As is the case with any Tower Defense game, the actual mechanics are generally what allow the cream to rise. My first impression of DC2 was that the controls were actually somewhat clunky. While I did end up getting used to them, my initial qualms lead me to believe that the overall design isn’t quite as intuitive as it could be.

The 2D platform view works, but excessive waves of enemies can lead to serious, indecipherable clutter

Building encampments requires three button presses, and each press requires you to touch a different spot on the screen. For example, to build an infantryman station you must select an open area, press the infantryman icon which pops up on the bottom right of the screen, then tap the build site again. On occasion class icons can actually cover the area on which you are building. In these situations you can’t make the third tap without moving the camera, which ends up aborting the building process entirely. This seems miniscule, but in tight situations it can be quite bothersome.

Controls aside, DC2 manages to introduce a level of depth which is not seen in most other games in the same genre. Players may choose from one of four heroes to help lead their troops, and each hero has his or her own set of skills, weapons, attacks, and troops. In addition, each hero can be leveled up and given skill points with which to increase the effectiveness of their commanded units.

The levelling and equipment systems for each hero take some getting used to, but they can become as addicting as the tower defense itself

This aspect almost makes it as much RPG as it is Tower Defense, which may actually split its player base down the middle. For those looking for a pick up and play game into which they don’t have to invest much thought outside of where they place their troops, this will be very off-putting. However, players looking for a much more demanding game will fall in love with the hours of grinding and levels which, on occasion, may take up to as long as forty minutes. Hell, simply learning the leveling and equipment systems is a task which might take some less committed players up to two hours to fully understand.

On a more technical level, the game won’t exactly grab anyone with its visuals. In fact, the blocky character design looks somewhat like it was taken directly from RPG Maker. Okay, that might be a little cruel. Let’s say RPG Maker 2 (or some incarnation thereof). In spite of this, visuals are rarely the draw of a good game in this genre.

After 40 minutes, when the boss makes it to your final encampment on wave 114, the line between throwing your hands in the air, and your iPad at the wall is extremely thin

Levels are set up on a platformer-esque 2D plane akin to that of any of the famous “run and jump from left to right” games of the past. It’s an interesting response to the standard bird’s eye view, and aside from minor clutter and an occasional inability to decipher which area of the level the enemies are charging, it works fairly well.

Defender Chronicles 2 may initially come off as a drop in the pond, but it certainly manages to achieve the sought after “it” factor which shoots addiction into the hearts of Tower Defense fans. The one barrier to entry is the commitment of time and effort. The breakdown is simple: If I’m looking for a tower defense fix, and I’m not on an airplane for 3 hours, I’ll likely boot up something more along the lines of Kingdom Rush (TMA Review). However, if I know I have a good chunk of free time, Defender Chronicles 2: Heroes of Athelia is an excellent way to fully engross myself in the cultish glare of an iPad screen.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia Developer: Gimka Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.1.1 Min OS Req: 3.2
Price: $0.99 App Size: 208.31MB
  • Innovative RPG elements
  • Highly addictive gameplay
  • Perfect for those looking to invest a lot of time
  • Clunky interface
  • Extremely long missions
  • Forgettable graphics and design

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Beat Sneak Bandit in Review – Sneak that Beat Up http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/04/03/beat-sneak-bandit-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/04/03/beat-sneak-bandit-in-review/#comments Tue, 03 Apr 2012 14:05:41 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=67383 While rhythm action games in the old-school vein of Parappa the Rapper have certainly seen their day, Simogo Games has come to the table with a lightly veiled reincarnation entitled Beat Sneak Bandit. The game takes place in the city of Pulsebury, in which you, The Bandit, have learned that all the clocks in town … Read more]]>

While rhythm action games in the old-school vein of Parappa the Rapper have certainly seen their day, Simogo Games has come to the table with a lightly veiled reincarnation entitled Beat Sneak Bandit. The game takes place in the city of Pulsebury, in which you, The Bandit, have learned that all the clocks in town are being stolen. The suspect is none other than Duke Clockface: villainous owner of the mysterious Clockwork Mansion. Serving more as Batman than Bandit, you invoke vigilante law in an attempt to steal back the town’s clocks.

After an establishing cut scene you are dropped into the mansion, and it’s here that the appeal of the overall design of Beat Sneak Bandit is revealed. Its art style is an amalgam of everything Cartoon Network, with elements of its look and feel revealing a strong influence from the Sly Cooper franchise.

But if fans are looking for a portable Sly Cooper they should look elsewhere. It very quickly becomes apparent that Beat Sneak Bandit is much more of a puzzle game than a platformer. Potential buyers beware: just because screenshots show the bandit standing beside gaps of girder does not mean you will be running and jumping over said gaps.

While the story will not keep you away, it's definitely not the reason you will come back.

This is much more of a music rhythm puzzle game than anything else – so much so that players are warned that the game cannot be played without sound. Public Transit commuters lacking headphones are to avoid this game at all costs. Sound is a necessity here, as the player can only progress through a level by tapping the screen as the baseline to the in-game music beats. The baseline itself is generally just a steady rhythmic timestamp, but obstacles in the world such as spotlights, guards, and bandit vacuums (yes, bandit vacuums) move to more elaborate substrates of the song. For example: spotlights may turn on as snare drums are sounded, and guards may turn around as the sound of a turntable scratches through your speakers. This is a novel idea in theory, but in practice it isn’t always compelling, nor does it come together as naturally as one would expect. The controls sometimes seem too abrupt, and for a game with such an emphasis on music, the small variety of songs is often dull and repetitive.

As the world beats to the sound of music, the Bandit must navigate his way through each level, collecting small clocks while reaching his ultimate goal of securing one large clock. Levels are “completed” when the large clock is reached, but just as stars must be earned in Angry Birds, a perfect score can only be achieved by collecting every additional small clock.

Avoid spotlights, guards, and trap doors as you make your may towards the big clock in each level.

The key to these navigations comes in isolating the rhythmic patterns of each obstacle. Once you do, it’s an entirely satisfying feeling. Flawlessly completing a level makes the player feel, quite literally, in harmony with the game. The glaring problem is that this comes along at a far too laboured pace. In order to properly understand each puzzle, players are forced to spend minutes on end watching the screen pulse to the beat before making a move. Trial and error is the word of law, and in a bite sized game of this caliber, it feels out of place.

Everything from the art design, to the gameplay, to the overall idea seems to be right, but at the end of the day it feels stale long before it feels fun. Obstacles are varied in their look, but mostly everything in the environment boils down to “something to be avoided.” This may sound like an oversimplification, but unfortunately it also feels like one in practice. Although at its heart there lies an intriguing, innovative control scheme and overall idea, I feel as though I’ve played this game before.

All in all Beat Sneak Bandit is a novel idea with poor execution. While it is still worth the price of admission in some regards, I would only recommend buying it if you have already played and beat the classics.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Beat Sneak Bandit Developer: Simogo
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 3.1.3
Price: $2.99 App Size: 72.38MB
  • Innovative design
  • Satisfying puzzles
  • Enjoyable art style
  • Pacing and mechanics often don’t fit the rhythm of the music
  • Levels quickly feel stale and lack variation
  • For a music game, the soundtrack is very forgettable

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Dungeon Of The Damned in Review – A Name Says So Much… http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/01/26/dungeon-of-the-damned-in-review-a-name-says-so-much/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/01/26/dungeon-of-the-damned-in-review-a-name-says-so-much/#comments Thu, 26 Jan 2012 15:46:01 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=65739 At first it sounded like the perfect marriage – dungeon crawling and classic point and click adventuring.  That alone was enough to entice me into trying Dungeon of the Damned, never mind the cool “old but new” graphics and nostalgic interface.  Unfortunately execution isn’t always as good as concept, and sadly what Dungeon Of The … Read more]]>

At first it sounded like the perfect marriage – dungeon crawling and classic point and click adventuring.  That alone was enough to entice me into trying Dungeon of the Damned, never mind the cool “old but new” graphics and nostalgic interface.  Unfortunately execution isn’t always as good as concept, and sadly what Dungeon Of The Damned has turned out to be for me so far is a boring traipse through a lifeless dungeon with no adventure game elements, little combat and frustrating puzzles.  The lack of a map doesn’t help anything either.

The dungeon’s infamous nature precedes it, but you don’t have a clue why you in particular have been cast into its depths.  That’s what you are attempting to find out as you try and escape from your eerie prison.  The journey won’t be easy, however, as your path is filled with confusing corridors, tricky traps and creepy critters.  Well, at least two out of three isn’t bad, right?  So far in my wanderings I’ve only run across three creatures, all of the undead type.  I’m not necessarily expecting the catacombs to be littered with encounters, but this journey seems to be tilting way too heavily in the other direction.

On the other hand, puzzles abound.  The first puzzle was figuring out there was a puzzle, and I failed – I had to seek out the developer on that one.  The next real puzzle had me scratching my head, even when I sought the solution on the DotD web site.  I even had trouble executing the steps the first time around and had to do it again.  I’m all for a challenge and I’m not completely clueless, but there’s no way I would have gotten that second puzzle.  From there the puzzles have been mixed.  There are a couple I haven’t solved yet (but I don’t want to cheat any more), and some were too easy or too random, I’m not sure which.  Then there’s the whole problem that half the time when you flip a switch or push a button the action it triggers is somewhere else so you don’t really know what you’ve done.

Speaking of being lost, the lack of a map is downright frustrating at times.  As might be expected from a dungeon everything tends to look pretty much the same, and it’s easy to get turned around.  I suppose I could drag out the graph paper and pencils, but that’s just a bit too 80s for me.  Since the system is capable of doing it, let the system do it.  Because of this lack of navigation you either have to take notes or be prepared to spend some time traipsing back and forth on certain puzzles, since the answers might be three to four loads away from the puzzle itself.  And since I’ve mentioned it, even though the individual load times aren’t that long, be prepared for one just about any time you step through a doorway.

On the bright side, the visuals are the perfect blend of old school feel and modern imagery.  Sure the graphics don’t look like they were generated with the Unreal engine, but they are pretty good.  In the same respect, the interface and basic texturing to the walls and such in the dungeon bring back fond memories of dungeon crawling in my younger days.  Action related sound effects are decent enough, but where the audio really shines is in the ambient sounds.  The background music is nice and eerie as well.

Is Dungeon Of The Damned a bad game?  Not necessarily, but you’re definitely going to need some patience.  Personally, though, I would prefer a better balance of puzzle solving and combat.  I’m also still waiting for those “point and click adventure game” elements promised in the iTunes description.  It certainly has the look and feel of the old games like Dungeon Master that I used to enjoy, but the game play both isn’t quite what I expected and is just a bit slow for me.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Dungeon of the Damned Developer: Digi-chain Games
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Great nostalgic interface
  • Nice retro-modern graphics
  • Awesome ambient sound
  • Chilling background music
  • Puzzles fall too much on extremes of difficulty scales
  • Needs more combat
  • Where are the “point and click” adventure elements?

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Dimensions. Adventures in the Multiverse in Review – Ambient noise app meets foursquare and Farmville http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/01/18/dimensions-adventures-in-the-multiverse-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/01/18/dimensions-adventures-in-the-multiverse-in-review/#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2012 12:43:33 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=64716 As we all know – life can be stressful. And one way to make it a little bit more bearable is using an ambient sounds app to block out the annoying noises of everyday fuss. Whether in the office or outside they allow to, at least temporarily, shift your mind to someplace peaceful. Not content … Read more]]>

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As we all know – life can be stressful. And one way to make it a little bit more bearable is using an ambient sounds app to block out the annoying noises of everyday fuss. Whether in the office or outside they allow to, at least temporarily, shift your mind to someplace peaceful. Not content with only providing a listening experience, the developers behind Inception – The App released Dimensions. Adventures in the Multiverse, a unique app that adds some original gameplay elements to make it even more part of your routine.

It’s hard to classify Dimensions, proving once again the iOS is the perfect platform for innovation. Think of it as a hearing aid for other dimensions. But all of this is wrapped around a platform that Farmville itself would not be shy of.

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First and foremost Dimensions is an ambient/meditation sound producing app. However, unlike other similar releases, it does not have a pre-defined set of tracks for you to enjoy. Instead it utilizes the iPhone’s microphone and transforms surrounding noise to create a unique experience in realtime. The result is influenced not only by the source noise but the dimension within the app you are currently occupying.

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These dimensions are unlocked by performing specific actions – i.e. Tranquility, featuring music that’s more relaxing, is unlocked by being in a quiet place, while the more energetic Kinetic requires the iPhone to be in motion. Some dimensions even allow you to communicate with other players by creating a virtual space where you can send short voice messages. Once a dimension is unlocked you can visit it anytime without the hassle of matching the predefined conditions. Not all dimensions are available right from the start, thus requiring you to first open up a set in order to reach a new level.

But this is only the start. To make the experience more interesting (and to stimulate people spending more cash of course) the devs added a freemium minigame component. Every so often while listening to the mysterious sounds Dimensions produces, the game will say that something strange is going on. If you check the game at this point and hold the hotspot in the center you will get a map of your surroundings (powered by Google Maps of course), bathed in an eerie light with strange items scattered across the landscape. They might include Quantum (the game’s currency), artifacts and/or Nephilim.

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Quantum can be gathered by simply catching it in your beam of light while Artifacts will require a tractor beam to reel them in (which incidentally takes Quantum as fuel ). The Nephilim are the bad guys and you’ll have to use the same beam to repel them, otherwise they’ll steal the artifacts you found. To unlock the next level of dimensions you need to gather all artifacts in the already open ones. The artifacts can also be bought using Quantum. You guessed where this is leading to, right? Yep, in addition to be found in-game Quantum can also be bought using real-live cash.

The visuals in Dimensions are minimalistic but stylish. I especially liked the eerie way the map looked in the artifact-hunting minigame. I couldn’t help but think, however, the devs missed an opportunity to further integrate Augmented Reality elements using the iPhone’s camera. Hunting for quantum, artifacts and beating the Nephilim would’ve been ever so much fun if it was overlaid on top of a live feed put through some additional filters to make the video look more like from another dimension.

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Of course it would’ve been great to have the iPhone be a window to another dimension, fully embracing the augmented reality capabilities of the platform. But even limited to audio only, Dimensions provides a unique experience heralding the next step in ambient sound apps. The added game elements unfortunately suffer from a somewhat unbalanced freemium model pushing quite a bit to use real cash if you want to have access to all “tracks” in a reasonable timeframe. At $0.99 though it’s definitely worth a try, especially if you want a taste of what the future holds.

With this I declare Dimensions. Adventures in the Multiverse officially touched!

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Dimensions. Adventures in the Multiverse Developer: Reality Jockey Ltd.
Reviewed Ver: 1.5 Min OS Req: 4.2
Price: $0.99 App Size: 140.49MB
  • Experience unique to here and now
  • Original way of unlocking individual dimensions
  • Addictive minigame
  • A bit overused freemium element
  • Frustrating to unlock higher levels of dimensions
  • No augmented video

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Superman in Review – Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s iSuperman! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/12/26/superman-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/12/26/superman-in-review/#comments Mon, 26 Dec 2011 17:27:41 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=63255 Superman, while not the first superhero ever, is arguably the most well-known and iconic one. Created back in the 30′s he was instrumental to establishing the superhero genre. On the iOS however, Superman came quite late in the game long after Chillingo’s The Hero (TMA Review) showed its tight-fitting brightly coloured behind on the App Store. … Read more]]>

Superman, while not the first superhero ever, is arguably the most well-known and iconic one. Created back in the 30′s he was instrumental to establishing the superhero genre. On the iOS however, Superman came quite late in the game long after Chillingo’s The Hero (TMA Review) showed its tight-fitting brightly coloured behind on the App Store. It’s time to see how the legendary “man of steel” holds up to the older and more satirical rival.

Superman is a side-scrolling action title. Lex Luthor is up to no good (surprise!) and Metropolis is in danger. Our mild-mannered reporter Kent Clark is here to save the day once again. Flashing red and blue, Superman goes up up and away to fight all manner of threats from the everyday bank robbers to robots, tanks and even meteors.

Surprisingly or not, Superman feels a lot like the original Hero from a couple of years ago. You control the archetype superhero in a boxed-in area fighting waves of threats. These include everything but the kitchen sink – fires to put out, robbers to catch and of course, all sorts of enemies to eliminate. And where would we be without the occasional iconic plane to catch and missile or meteor to deflect. All of this you’ll have to do before the legendary Metropolis is in ruins (i.e. there’s a time limit).

To keep Lex’s minions at bay and the city safe you’ll be able to use Superman’s well known abilities. Ice breath to kill fires, laser beams shooting from the eyes to incinerate enemies, super strength, flying… you’ll have it all. One thing worth mentioning though – you won’t get to choose which ability to use at any given time; they’re all tied-in to the current threat you’re facing. As such, icy-breath is activated automatically when you’re trying douse a fire, deadly beams when enemies are near, and so forth. And you can land cars and start pummelling them when the time is right – all via the same contextual action button. Each level is scored based on a few criteria to award you a bronze, silver or gold Superman badge. The scoring is quite tough though and most of the time I settled for bronze.

Visually Superman’s a bit of a disappointment for me. While I understand the overall graphics style was chosen to fit with the classic comicbook series, the lack of animation makes the game feel somewhat outdated. Most of the time you’ll see the man of steel move in the same pose regardless of the direction. The sounds are quite authentic but don’t really add much to the experience. The controls are intuitive and almost everything is done via a simple virtual-dpad and a multi-function action button. Whether this is good or bad is up to the player but I definitely missed the ability to have more control over Superman’s numerous abilities.

Playing Superman left me with quite a strange impression – pretty much everything in the game is a rehash of Chillingo’s own The Hero, though done either on par or worse than the year and a half old title. The graphics for some reason feel more dated, the controls less polished and the overall gameplay simply not as fun. Of course, the chance to control the legendary superhero himself rather than a satirical spin on the archetype has its merits, especially considering the horrific history of the franchise’s videogame adaptations. Still unless you’re a die-hard fan of Superman I’d recommend you pick up the The Hero – 2nd Edition instead for a much more fun and enjoyable experience.

With this I declare Superman officially touched!

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Superman Developer: Chillingo Ltd
Reviewed Ver: 1.01 Min OS Req: 4.0
Price: $0.99 App Size: 12.54MB
  • The one and only Man of Steel
  • Authentic comic-book style visuals
  • Classic Superman abilites
  • Poor animations make the graphics feel outdated
  • Simplistic controls limit the use of superpowers
  • Not fun

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XIII – Lost Identity in Review – Find yourself in hidden objects http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/12/23/xiii-lost-identity-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/12/23/xiii-lost-identity-in-review/#comments Fri, 23 Dec 2011 16:17:28 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=63016 XIII is one of the cult comic franchises originally inspired by the famous The Bourne Identity novel by Robert Ludlum. Of course, the craze of game adaptations could not leave it behind and a few years ago, an FPS based on the comic series had enjoyed reasonable success, touting cell shaded graphics as one of … Read more]]>

XIII is one of the cult comic franchises originally inspired by the famous The Bourne Identity novel by Robert Ludlum. Of course, the craze of game adaptations could not leave it behind and a few years ago, an FPS based on the comic series had enjoyed reasonable success, touting cell shaded graphics as one of its main selling points. On the iOS however, this spy adventure recently materialized as a Hidden Object adventure in XIII – Lost Identity, thanks to the famous French publisher – Anuman.

XIII – Lost Identity is a traditional hidden object adventure (however it pains me to call the HdO genre an adventure). The events closely follow the narrative of the original comic book run. An amnesiac is found on a remote beach somewhere in the East US. A kind couple took him in and nurtured him back to health. But his past refuses to leave him be and he sets off to re-discover who he really is, which in turn plunges him into a conspiracy like no other.

Similar to other more enjoyable HdO titles, XIII takes the core gameplay and wraps it around a solid storyline. The object hunting will be available in the traditional name or silhouette modes. Every so often you’ll trigger a cutscene to move you along the story. I do like the clever use of the accelerometer on some locations, with the view angle shifting slightly as you twist your iDevice around. Also you have the option to zoom-in to study the area more closely. The tasks tie quite nicely into the narrative and you never feel like you’re looking for something irrelevant.

The HdO scenes are punctuated by minigames available in the traditional sliding puzzle and the less conventional shooting range varieties. The latter involves you tapping on the enemies on the screen while avoiding innocent bystanders to ramp up the score to a certain threshold. For the more inept casual gamers, after a certain time powerups become available to ease and even skip the minigames altogether. The same category of players will also enjoy the hint system for the HdO levels as well, as the game provides you almost limitless hints collected by tapping on stars, randomly appearing on the scene.

As with any solid HdO title, XIII has superb detailed graphics true to the classic comic book style. And even fully zoomed in, the background remains crisp on the iPhone 4′s Retina display. The controls are intuitive though I did wish the trigger areas for some objects were a bit bigger.  On occasion, I tapped on the same spot dozens of times until it finally recognized that I actually found the object. Sounds are decent, though XIII does lack voiceovers for the cutscenes. On the other hand it serves to create a bit more comic book atmosphere.

As Hidden Object games go XIII is certainly a noteworthy title. Fully embracing the essence of the genre and backing it up by an excellent storyline true to the original comic book series and superb detailed graphics, it will captivate those who enjoy such games for hours. If you’re not a big fan of the genre however, there really isn’t that much in XIII – Lost Identity to make you one.

With this I declare XIII – Lost Identity officially touched!

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: XIII – Lost Identity Developer: Microids
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $0.99 App Size: 114.64MB
  • Story full of mystery, betrayal and action true to the original graphic novels
  • Detailed authentic graphics
  • Robust hint system
  • Boring minigames
  • Excessively strict object trigger areas

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Rope Rescue HD in Review – My Save Files Need Rescuing Too! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/12/22/rope-rescue-hd-in-review-my-save-files-need-rescuing-too/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/12/22/rope-rescue-hd-in-review-my-save-files-need-rescuing-too/#comments Thu, 22 Dec 2011 15:55:23 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=63010 So would you be all that surprised if I said this game had a fairly cute protagonist, a bunch of obstacles and some rope?  Thankfully, though, Rope Rescue HD has nothing to do with feeding said protagonist cookies, cakes or any other kind of sweets.  In fact, in relation to the game’s name, the action … Read more]]>

So would you be all that surprised if I said this game had a fairly cute protagonist, a bunch of obstacles and some rope?  Thankfully, though, Rope Rescue HD has nothing to do with feeding said protagonist cookies, cakes or any other kind of sweets.  In fact, in relation to the game’s name, the action involves a parrot using the rope to unlock cages and free baby parrots.  This is actually a clever little game, and it’s nice to play a rope puzzle game that isn’t really about physics and doesn’t involve fire (well at least not all the time).  It’s actually quite challenging despite its cute facade which makes it a distraction for kids and still fun for adults.

The King Bat in your forest apparently has an inferiority complex and has decided that he must steal all the feathers from the baby parrots to become the most beautiful creature in the forest.  It’s up to you to save the poor parrots, but all you have at your disposal is some rope to unlock the cages they have been locked in.  Additionally, the lock for a cage will only pop up when the rope is touching all the wheels that are on the screen.  You must drag your parrot Ruppert around the screen so that the rope hanging from his mouth comes in contact with any wheel that you can see.  Once all the wheels are secure the latch will pop up and you touch it with the rope to complete the chain.  If at any point you know you’re heading down the wrong direction you can double tap the screen and Ruppert will let go of the rope so you can start over.

Along the way you’ll run into plenty of challenges.  Dual ropes will test your ability to multitask.  Knives and fire are harmful to both you and the rope.  Bats won’t hurt the rope but they will certainly stop you dead in your tracks.  Moving objects can stretch the length of the rope you must use, while darkness makes it difficult to plan out a path.  Your final score for each level is based on length of rope used plus time it takes you to complete that level, so the obstacles can have a significant impact on one or both of those factors.  How much rope you use also determines whether you earn 1, 2 or 3 feathers for a level, so you might have to experiment a few times until you find a path the will let you avoid every obstacle and still arrive at the cage with the shortest amount of rope.  On certain levels you can free a butterfly, and you will also earn butterflies for collecting certain numbers of feathers.  These butterflies can be used to get hints on where the shortest paths might be.

The simple mechanics and multiple solutions for each level make this quite an appealing diversion.  Add to that Crystal leaderboards and achievements and there are plenty of reasons to keep coming back.  Unfortunately, there is one big reason not to.  I’m playing this on an iPad 2 running iOS 4.3.5, and so far I’ve had the game crash on me twice.  That wouldn’t normally bother me so much, because I’ve had that happen on many games on my iPod Touch, but in this case both times it wiped out my saved game so I had to start over.  Since I have no inclination as to if or when that might happen again, I’m really leery to put any more effort into the game beyond finishing this review.

The visuals are pretty much what you’ve come to expect from a Chillingo sanctioned puzzle game.  Everything is colorful and the backgrounds are nicely detailed.  The birds and bats are cute in a somewhat round, bulbous sort of way.  There are some nice little touches as well, like feathers flying when you hit a wheel too hard.  The sound effects are okay, but overall things in the game are actually pretty quiet.  I do think Ruppert sounds more like a chicken than parrot personally.  The music is decent, but again nothing that really sticks out.

Overall Rope Rescue HD had the makings of a great puzzle experience.  The mechanics are easy to figure out, the puzzles are challenging and can be solved in more than one way, and there’s plenty to do between simply beating the game and getting all the achievements.  Unfortunately, my experience has been severely damped due to the loss of my saved game two different times.  I’m not saying this will happen to everyone, and I wouldn’t necessarily let it deter you from getting the game, but if you’ve got a way to back up files on your iDevice, I’d suggest using it once in a while for Rope Rescue.

Rope Rescue is also available for the iPhone.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Rope Rescue HD Developer: Chillingo Ltd
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 3.1
Price: $2.99 App Size:
  • Simple mechanics
  • Multiple solutions to levels
  • Cute, colorful graphics
  • Crashing issues can result in loss of saved games
  • Sound and music pretty ordinary

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