Download Alien With A Magnet on iTunes!

This one touch puzzle platformer ramps up the difficulty and will toss you into a world fille dwith more than 45 levels along with a time trial gameplay mode. Loads of opportunities for increasing your score and shaving milliseconds off of your best times along with GameCenter support add loads of replayability to this one. Don't miss it!

Download Whril The Squirrel on iTunes!

Whirl The Squirrel has lost all of his precious THINGS to his 'nenemies. It's up to you to race through 18 wonderfully designed levels in this speed-run, racing platformer. Perfect for fans of Sonic the Hedgehog!

Download Evilot on iTunes!

An interesting Lane-Defense title from Syrenaica Development. Help Count Dolfus defend his treasure against the onslaught of knights and adventurers who are trying to steal it away from him. Only $0.99 in the AppStore!

Download Kinetic Damage on iTunes!

Easily one of the best fighting games on the iOS, Kinetic Damage presents an amount of depth that's rarely seen within the genre. Fans and newcomers alike should jump on this one ASAP!

Download Best Park In The Universe on iTunes!

Check out a brawler specifically designed for the touchscreens from Heavy Boat Games and Cartoon Network! 3 worlds, 15 levels and some intense action staring Mordecai and Rigby from CN's Regular Show! Be sure and grab this great little beat-em-up!

Download Liberation Maiden on iTunes!

From Level-5 and Grasshopper, the action packed mech shooter; Liberation Maiden is now available on the iOS! With improved graphics and controls, this is definitely one to dive in to.

Download Eve of Impact on iTunes!

One of the best Missile Defense games available, with awesome graphics, sweet gameplay, and now it's Universal! Check it out!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Futuridium EP [MixedBag Srl] - $1.99

3D/behind the back arcade-based shooters aren’t really a thriving genre in the AppStore. But when one does come along, it’s usually worth checking out as there’s not many poorly designed titles in this little ‘underground’ genre of video games. Fractal Combat, No Gravity, Awesome Saucer, After Burner, all of these are definitely showcase titles on the iDevice. Yet, for whatever reason, more developers are not tapping into this widespread player base like you’d expect them to. But the ones that do take on the challenge have shown that they’re incredibly talented, and the release of Futuridium EP by MixedBag is no exception. 

Futuridium brings back memories of games like Star Fox and Space Harrier but brings a sort of puzzle feeling to the whole game. Each stage puts you up against a different battleship and you’re tasked with taking out blue cubes, turrets and mines in each stage before the core of the battleship is revealed and ready to be destroyed. What makes the game so much more than just your average behind the back space shooter are the scoring and energy mechanics. While you play, your energy gauge will be constantly depleting. If you crash, a large chunk of energy is taken away. Linking together chains of destroyed cubes will raise your energy gauge as well as your score multiplier and, while using the game’s nifty 180 degree flipping mechanic, each stage’s cubes can be linked together in one continuous chain resulting in the possibility of some insane scores. 

Now, there are only 13 levels, but don’t let that dissuade you from taking the plunge here. There are 2 difficulties at first, Easy and Normal, but there are also 3 more locked difficulties which can be unlocked once you complete game on the previous difficulty. There’s also a catch with the difficulties. Each one ramps the speed of the gameplay up a notch, and with this also comes more points per object destroyed. So, the higher the difficulty, the higher your score could potentially be. There is also a single level mode where you can play levels that you’ve already reached in the Arcade Mode in order to practice. This does come in handy, especially since the game’s difficulty, even on Normal, is fairly high. But if you’re willing to put some time in, Futuridium EP really opens up as one of the most challenging yet satisfying arcade shooter experiences you’ll have on your mobile device. 

The graphics are retro, minimal, slick and chic and definitely draw you into the world of the game. The dubstep and electro tracks selected for the game’s soundtrack are full of energy and definitely fit the adrenaline packed gameplay. There are no power-ups, no shields, it’s basically just you and your reflexes up against the game. Another plus? There’s no IAP in sight, putting everyone on a level playing field right from the get-go. All of this ties in together to form an incredibly immersive, quick moving package that’s a total feast for the eyes, ears and all out twitch reflexes that so many of us wind up seeking out when trying to decide what game we want to play when we’re looking for a challenge. 

Priced at an incredibly reasonable $1.99, being Universal and including GameCenter support with leaderboards for Hi Score and Cubes Destroyed along with 35 hard to snag achievements and plenty of little Easter eggs for you completionist’s out there to try and find, I really have no qualms highly recommending Futuridium EP. It might just wind up on our end of the year ‘Best Of’ lists for 2013 and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up on more than a few other sites Game Of The Year lists. If you’re still not convinced, you can download the game for free from the developer’s website to play on your PC or MAC. If that doesn’t add to the drive to support MixedBag, I don’t know what will. I’m definitely excited to see what comes out of their studio next. If this is any indication of what’s to come, there’s a good chance it’ll blow many gamers away.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

R.Type [DotEmu] - $1.99

DotEmu. Over the years they’ve built up a very solid and strong fan-base in the iOS and Android gaming worlds. And now, just the mention of their name will have a lot of gamers screaming ‘instabuy’ and ‘take my money’. Their ports are some of the best in the AppStore and the added little perks and different settings options have secured their place in the porting world as ‘one of the best’. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out their work, you won’t regret it. Raiden Legacy, The Last Express, King Of Fighters, Metal Slug and others are just waiting to be snatched up by eager old-school gamers like yourself. Now, if the mention of those titles do bring back unforgettable gaming memories, their latest release will need no introduction. R-Type is a classic in the retro gaming world. Released on just about every single old-school gaming platform there was back in the late 80’s and early 90’s and has also been ported to the PC, XBLA and has spawned numerous sequels. 

Set in the 22nd century, your mission is to take out the evil Bydo Empire. There’s not much more to it than that. After each stage is beat, the game will count up your score and you’ll go on to the next. What R-Type is probably most famous for is it’s difficulty. It earned a 7th position spot on IGN’s top 10 most difficult games, and while it can be quite easy for someone who’s learned the ins and outs of the game, actually getting to that level will take more than just a couple of deaths to accomplish. While this is now a staple of the SHMUP world, endless replayability because of heightened difficulties and score chasing, don’t let that turn you off if you’re not really a big shoot-em-up gamer. DotEmu has added an Unlimited Mode in this version, allowing for infinite lives so that you can learn the game and make it through no matter your skill level. 

There are 8 stages, each with a crazy looking boss at the end. One of my favorite memories of the first time I played R-Type when I was younger was how shocked I was at the boss’s designs and models. This, along with the mesh of organic and synthetic material in the level designs and enemies also give R-Type a distinctive feeling and atmosphere that’s hard to forget. To this day the whole graphic design of the game stands as one of the most original, interesting, innovative and visually appealing in the shmup gaming world. 

There are 4 different shot types that you’ll be able to pick up as you progress throughout the game; your original one projectile shot type, a 3 way laser, a beam shot that takes a circular pattern and a ‘wall shot’ which fires out of the top and bottom of your ship and crawls along the walls. While in-game, little robot orbs with feet will be mixed in with the enemies and destroying these will let loose a power-up. If you don’t have a power-up equipped yet, you’ll receive your ‘Force Orb’. This is one aspect of R-Type that really makes it stand out above other shmups of the time period. You can either equip your Force Orb on the front or back of your ship as well as have it maneuver throughout the levels on its own. Mastering the Force Orb is something that you’ll need to do in order to complete the game and adds another layer to form the very cohesive whole that is R-Type. 

There are two control options; Relative Touch and a Virtual Joystick. Both work exceedingly well, and while both have two additional icons, one for controlling an add-on power-up core and another for charging up your charged shot, everything can be moved around anywhere on the screen to fit your play-style and device. You can also turn auto-fire on or off while off will have you mashing on the charge shot icon to fire. There are two options for screen-size, full screen, or boxed and like most other DotEmu ports, you can turn the video filter on or off, making the edges jagged (original look) or smoothed out (more modern look) and add scan-lines to the game as well. Other awesome additions/features are 10 languages, Retina display (as well as on the iPad, since this new R-Type build is Universal), iCade support and an extra Insane difficulty mode that unlocks once you beat the game on Normal difficulty.

To top it all off, DotEmu has dumped the OpenFeint support that came with the older version and added GameCenter with 11 achievements and 2 leaderboards (one for Normal and one for Insane). All of this packed into a nice little package and with a price point of only $1.99, it’s insane to not recommend this to any and all shooter and retro gaming fans out there. Even if you own the old EA published version, this new version has enough perks to throw down the two bucks. If you’ve never played R-Type before, you’re in for one hell of a treat, as it has been, and always will be, one of my favorite shooters of all time. It’s not one to be missed.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fallen World [Oddity] - $2.99

Beat-em-up titles on the iOS are kind of hit or miss. Very few have really nailed the gameplay, mechanics, controls and action needed to keep fans of the genre satisfied, but those that have did an amazing job. Mutant Fridge Mayhem, Combo Crew and Best Park In The Universe are a few that stand out above the majority of the failings in the AppStore. And now, we’re pretty close to adding another to that incredibly small list; Oddity’s new post-apocalyptic brawler, Fallen World.
You take control of a cybernetic ninja who’s been tasked with protecting another cyborg that can take down and dismantle the machine army. Yes, it is a little Matrix-y, but for fans of the cyberpunk genre, that is hardly something that’s considered ‘bad’. 

Starting off, the tutorial does a great job of quickly and easily understandably explaining everything you’ll need to know about the game. Movement is controlled by tapping where you want to move to while attacking is done automatically by running into enemies. While this might sound like a turn off for beat-em-up and brawler fans, and believe me, it was kind of a turn off at the beginning of the game, but once you get further along [for me, it was when I hit stage 5], the controls really do wind up fitting the game, and having a brawler/beat-em-up that isn’t centered around button mashing is a refreshing addition to the genre. Along with the tap to move and auto attack controls, you’re also given 3 icons along the bottom right side of the screen. The first places a soldier and the second places a ‘Torrent Gun’ both of which are placed where you‘re standing at the time and both of which will help you to attack the onslaught of enemy waves. The third icon is your Wind Blast power. Your Wind Blast does a little bit of damage to the enemies, but its primary use is to clear the area of enemies, giving you a second to breathe. 

In each stage, you’ll need to fight off wave after wave of enemies that are split up into 3 phases. You’ll face off against machines and other cyborgs, each offering up a different type of attack. While this doesn’t really play into any sort of strategy as different weapons are not required to take out different enemies, it does help to keep the gameplay feeling fresh. While there are some enemies that will stand back and attack your soldiers and guns, placing them all over the stages is pretty much what you’ll wind up doing while you run back and forth, replacing downed allies and trying to take out enemies before they reach the center of the stage where the young cyborg you need to protect is housed in a protective shield. Beating down enemies will earn you ‘Purity’, which is used to place soldiers, guns and use your wind power. Whenever you earn enough Purity to activate one of these, the icons light up at the bottom of the screen and a little blue orb will start to orbit around your body. You’re only able to have 3 Purity orbs available at once though, so using them as soon as they appear is a good idea. However, also keeping one around so that you can use your wind attack if things get too hectic around the cyborg you’re protecting. As you progress throughout the game, enemies get more abundant as well as stronger. Luckily, you’ll also be getting stronger as you make your way through the game by spending earned experience points on upgrades and other special abilities. 

You’ll earn experience in-game by defeating enemies, but will also get a nice little chunk of experience if you can successfully complete each stage. These experience points can be spent in the upgrade shop to make your attack stronger, increase the number of enemies you can hit at one time or increase your movement speed. You’re also able to upgrade your soldiers, guns and wind attack as well as the center cyborg’s special missile strike that triggers automatically, her shield strength and the amount of ‘Purity’ which is earned each time an enemy is taken out. You’re also able to re-play previously beaten levels in case you get stuck and need some extra experience to level up a bit, which is always a nice addition to a game like this, especially given the gaming platform and audience. 

The environments do change as you make your way throughout the game which does keep it visually appealing. However, each area is the same size and shape (square) and do not have any sort of environmental hazards or structures that you’ll need to avoid while running around the ‘arena‘. The graphics and animations are solid and very well presented, with the brighter items like your sword, Purity orbs, fire and more standing out against the dark backdrops and atmospheres. The physics work well in conjunction with the controls, though at first, getting comfortable with your character running around like he’s kind of on ice is something that might take a while. Once, or if, you do get comfortable with it, it’s more like controlling a floating character instead of a running one. Tightening up the running physics would probably make the game feel better, but it’s not something that really takes too much away or distracts from the gameplay as a whole. 

GameCenter is not supported and there are no in-game achievements or leaderboards.  There’s no time limits or actual scoring system, but if these were added, as well as GC and leader boards (along with achievements, of course), it could definitely add quite a bit of replay value, difficulty and drive to the gameplay. While we’re bringing up the negatives here, there’s also no auto-rotate for the screen and the game displays ‘up-side-down’ (making you hold your device with the home button on the left side instead of the right). You can turn the music and sound effects on and off separately, and there is an option to clear your saved data, but aside from that, there’s no difficulty settings and no added control options. Priced at $2.99 and being Universal, it does seem a bit bare. However, within the brawler genre on the iOS, this isn’t really a rare thing and the polish and addictive gameplay does help to draw your attention away from it’s shortcomings enough to justify the reasonable price-point. Hopefully more will be added to Fallen World, as it shows an incredible amount of promise and could very well stand out as one of the better titles within the genre. A few little additions would go a very long way here. But as-is, it’s still a game that’s worth recommending. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Samurai Shodown II [SNK + DotEmu] - $8.99

When it comes to iOS games, there’s a select few that can be described with the words ’hardcore’ ’insane’ and ’difficult’. Well, last week ushered in a new contender for the ‘hardest game in the AppStore’ title, SNK and DotEmu’s Samurai Shodown II. And while most fighters on the iOS’s touch screen are difficult because they don’t have the tactile feedback that most of these games scream for, they are still playable, manageable and beatable, even more-so if you’ve got an iCade and can play with the tactile feedback that the games were meant to be experienced with. But SSII has ramped up the difficulty so incredibly high, even on it’s lowest difficulty setting, that after 5 hours, countless continues and an immeasurable amount of frustration, I’ve only made it to the 3rd opponent. 

That’s not to say that I dislike this game. The virtual controls are about as good as they can be, considering. If you’re familiar with the controls from Street Fighter or King Of Fighters and are comfortable with them, you’ll feel right at home here. Like any other DotEmu port, you are able to move the controls anywhere on the screen, which helps to make the game play comfortably on most devices. However, on the iPad it can be hard to reach the buttons and parts of the directional stick. Hopefully a resize option will be added, or at the very least, that the controls on the iPad will be adjusted in a future update. 

You’re also able to change the aspect ratio from 4:3 to 16:9 (widescreen) or windowed mode (which has the gameplay area take up about half of the screen, which actually looks very nice if you’re playing on an iPad or iPad Mini). You can also set the video filtering on or off, giving the edges smooth curves or having the original pixilated graphics in all their beautiful glory and set scanlines to 50 or 100%, as well as leaving them completely absent. Along with all of the typical DotEmu settings and preferences you can also choose to play the game on 1 of 8 difficulties. That’s right, at the beginning of each game you’re given the option to change the difficulty setting from 1-8.

Now, just because I haven’t made it past the third opponent doesn’t mean that I haven’t been having a blast playing the game. Is it frustrating? Yes. Is the difficulty set too high? Probably. Am I left feeling like I’m getting better with each game that I play? Most definitely. While I do remember playing Samurai Shodown II at the local bowling ally every weekend when I was about 12 and blowing $5 worth of quarters in 20 minutes and being able to almost make it through the entire game, I do not feel that the touch-screen controls are why I’m having such a hard time with this game. Tactile feedback for many gamers is a must when it comes to this genre, but for others, being able to slide your fingers along the smooth surface of the iDevice can make pulling off some of the more complex moves easier than with a physical controller. And, as mentioned already, SSII does have iCade support, so those of you who are lucky enough to own an iCade can have a near perfect arcade experience. But the difficulty settings, even on the lowest option available, could use some tweaking. 

Aside from that this port, like all DotEmu ports, is perfect. The framerate is improved from the original and the gameplay is insanely smooth with no hiccups or drops in framerate (unless intentional) to be found. All of the characters from the original arcade title can be found here as well as all of the little mechanics that make the gameplay slightly deeper than most fighters; backward and forward rolling, ducking, small hops and parries/offensive blocking, The fatalities have also been thrown in for good measure. All of this showing that Samurai Shodown II can still hold it’s own among the best of the best fighters in the gaming world almost 20 years since it appeared. 

Like most iOS ports of classic games, GameCenter leaderboards and achievements have been added and do help to add some drive to the already insanely high replay value of the game with 15 achievements and 3 leaderboards fleshing out the gameplay. While some players might be turned off by the crazy high difficulty or the virtual controls, if you’re familiar with KoF’s controls, you’ll pretty much know what to expect here. I do hope that a transparency gauge is added, because as it is now, the controls begin to fade away after you touch them, and then go back to full view fairly quickly, usually blocking the gameplay area, unless you’re playing in Windowed View. But priced at $8.99, being Universal, including widescreen support, and also having Bluetooth 2-player gameplay, along with being one of the best fighters ever, make Samurai Shodown II a very easy game to recommend.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Hello all...

Alright, for some reason, only a couple of posts are showing up on our main page. You can access our past reviews by selecting 'older posts' underneath the last posts on this page. I have no idea why Blogger is doing this, I've tried adjusting and/or confirming all of our settings, and the layout is still messed up. I apologize for the inconvenience here, and I'll try and have it fixed ASAP.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Evilot [Syrenaica] - $0.99

Since Plants Vs. Zombies hit the AppStore there’s been a whole slew of lane based defense games. There are a few that have stood out among the crowd, Total War Battles: Shogun, Defense Of Fortune: The Savior, Hero TacTics and others are pretty good examples of this. Well, last week another title hit the store, and it’s mechanics and the strategy involved make it another Lane Defense game that’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the genre; Evilot, from the development team Syrenaica. 

Evilot puts you in the shoes of the ‘evil’ mastermind, Count Dolfus. With adventurers and knights trying to come and steal away his gold and treasures, he’s forced to use whatever methods he can in order to keep from succeeding. Now, what really makes Evilot interesting is the way that you can combine your defenses in order to level them up. Placing 3 like-defenses on the gameplay area will make them all merge onto the area where your last piece was set. This can be done horizontally as well as vertically and while that in-itself is a pretty cool mechanic, if you’re not careful, you could wind up accidentally placing a defensive piece next to two others in the heat of the moment and wind up letting a group of knights through your barricade. However, once you get use to it, it’s something that definitely winds up setting Evilot apart from most of the games within the genre. 

As you progress through the game, you’ll be given more and more defensive pieces to work with. Starting off you’ll only have rats, but as you move on you’ll be given wooden barriers, skeletons, frogs, green blob things and more. While you’re not able to choose which pieces to use in each stage, they are mixed up from stage to stage, and depending on what you’re given, the strategy for each stage changes as well. 
The game contains 50 stages spread across 5 different areas with a boss battle at the end of each area. The graphics, while at first kind of seeming a bit dull when compared to other titles within the genre, have really grown on me. The gothic type look and feel of everything is something that’s not seen too often in the gaming world, and here, Syrenaica has done a great job of not going overboard with it, but still keeping it graphically appealing throughout the game. The comic-book type cut-scenes between each territory are very polished and well done, helping to add to the overall feel of the game while also injecting a bit of humor.

The user interface is simple to use as well. Placement is done by tapping on the piece you want to place on the bottom of the screen and then selecting the tile you want to place it. When a piece is selected, it’s icon at the bottom of the screen will be highlighted in green, making it easy to quickly glance down and know what piece you have selected. Defeating an enemy or having one of your own pieces defeated will drop a ‘card’ which you can pick up by tapping on it and then use again by placing it anywhere in the gameplay area. 

Unfortunately, there is no GameCenter support, so there are no leaderboards or achievements to go after. There are also no in-game achievements, all of which kind of takes away some of the replay value that can be found with other titles that do incorporate these features. But, with the difficulty of the last 30 or so levels, there’s always a nice sense of accomplishment once you do complete a stage and area and this does help drive the game along. It would also be nice to see some sort of additional gameplay mode, maybe something where you control the knights and adventurers and try and steal the treasures, or an endless mode, maybe even a hardcore mode where you can just jump straight in to some insanely hectic gameplay. With these things not found here, Evilot can, at times, feel like it’s lacking the overall fullness that would make it totally stand out within the genre, but the core gameplay is solid and the main campaign that can be found here is definitely worth the $0.99 entry fee. Even if more modes were only made available through IAP, I’d love to see this game grow in the future, and sincerely hope that it does. If you’re still on the fence about purchasing it, there is a lite version available for free in the AppStore. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Whirl The Squirrel [Dioxis Mining] - $0.99

There’s not too many games that can match the pure enjoyment and type of gameplay that Sonic brought the platforming scene back in the day. Cordy did a great job with the acrobatic mechanics, but as far as level memorization, speedy gameplay and the drive to keep playing after you’ve completed the game, it fell a bit short. Rayman Jungle Run was close, but the speedy aspect of it could have been a bit better. Now, as gamers, we’re incredibly lucky when the influence of old-school games is met with some borderline obsession and the talent needed to pull off one hell of a gameplay experience that comes very close to matching the feeling of the game that the influence came from. Enter Whirl The Squirrel, a new platformer/racing game from the minds of Dioxis Mining. And believe me when I say, it’s like the little brother that Sonic always wanted but couldn’t seem to find throughout the years. 

Starting up the game, you’re greeted with a charming intro where Whirl goes to check on his things before bedtime. After hugging them all goodnight a huge tornado came barreling towards his home. For some reason, he locks the doors and goes to bed, pretty much without a care in the world. Waking up, he finds his things strung about outside and realizes that the tornado had partnered up with his ‘nenemies’ and that they were outside trying to collect all of his things. So begins the race to collect all of Whirl’s treasured things.

Now, while it may not sound like much content, there are 18 levels split up between 3 different environments. However, you’ll quickly realize that there’s an incredible amount of replay value, especially if you’re going to try and find all of the ‘hidden areas’ and get a gold time in every stage. Right off the bat, you’ll need to realize that Whirl is not your typical speed-run platformer. Like playing Sonic and trying to get the best time you can, you’ll need to play thorough levels a few times before actually trying to go and beat them. Memorization is a key element here along with quick reflexes and the willingness to play a level more than a couple times. If you go into it treating the game like your typical League Of Evil type game, chances are you’ll get incredibly frustrated and in fact, you might not even give the game the chance it deserves.  

In each stage there is an objective that you’ll need to accomplish in order to beat the level. Most of the time, you just need to beat the nenemy who’s trying to collect a thing before you, but in some stages, you’ll need to run multiple laps or even just collect a certain number of flowers in a given time-limit. While the screen-shots make the game look like an ‘auto-run’ platformer, you are given virtual buttons for left and right movement as well as a jump button and while the first couple of stages will have you pretty much just mashing down on the directional buttons once you get further into the game, delicately maneuvering your character while in mid-air will become a huge part of beating the nenemies and flower collecting.  

The hazards and obstacles which you’ll need to maneuver around and through aren’t, by themselves, too original, but the way that they’re incorporated and laid out in the hand-made levels makes them feel fresh and interesting. While collecting flowers, if you collect enough you’ll get a rocket pack on your back which helps you speed up through the levels. Then some enemies will zap you, slowing you down, others will freeze you and you’ll need to press the jump button multiple times to break free while others come at you in specific patterns and you‘ll need to figure out the timing of your jumps perfectly in order to avoid them. Some hazards will cause your directional buttons to reverse, other objects will send you skyrocketing into the air if you jump while on them and combined with some pretty malicious hazard placement can really ruin your run if you’re not careful. There’s also orangy blob things that take collected flowers away and slow you down and pink crystals which, if you hold down the jump button while racing through them, will send you on a super jump which usually involves you jumping over or through a bunch of hazards, enemies and obstacles.

On top of the racing aspect, all of the hazards, the obstacles and the enemies, there are also secret hidden areas which you can try and find in each stage. Little pink crystals will usually help you find these hidden areas, and they’ll either contain time stopping pick-ups or just take you on a precious time saving shortcut. All-n-all, with all of this combined together, it makes for some hectic, incredibly fast-paced, challenging gameplay that gamers looking for a hardcore gaming experience will just eat up. 

The framerate is solid and everything runs incredibly smooth, with no skips or jumps, which is essential in a game like this, and with the 3 leaderboards on top of the gold-times, there’s almost an infinite amount of replay value here. Not to mention the 21 hard to snag achievements. With Whirl The Squirrel priced at a measly $0.99 and containing NO IAPs (!), it’s a game that’s insanely easy to recommend, especially for fans of Sonic who have been looking for another speedy challenge to take on throughout the years. There’s also a 4th world that’s in the works and soon to be fully customizable controls to look forward to in the future. Right now, the only negative things that I can say about the game are that the difficulty level might put some gamers off, and with only 18 stages, even though it will take you quite some time to complete them all, it still might feel a little light in the content department. But aside from that, there’s really not much more that I can say other than PICK. THIS. GAME. UP. NOW. You won’t regret it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Crush! [RadianGames] - $0.99

We have a handful of favorite developers here at The App Shack. One of them is the insanely talented studio of RadianGames. With their previous titles; Super Crossfire, Ballistic SE, Fireball SE, Inferno+, Slydris, Bombcats and Gobs Of Fun reaching quite a few iOS gamers with some of which being named as the best of best in their respective genres, RadianGames seems to have decided to go more towards the puzzle genre as of late. Their most recent title, Crush!, fits in the same category as Slydris and their title before Crush!, Bombcats, is another puzzler, focusing more on physics than quick addictive gameplay. But even if you’re not into the puzzling genre, you should keep in mind how amazingly polished RadianGames previous shooter titles have been and know that that professionalism and same production value has been carried over to their puzzle titles. And Crush! is yet another prime example of this.

Crush!, like Slydris, is a block based puzzler, but of a different nature. Instead of trying to clear multiple lines by moving blocks around one at a time, you’re tasked with removing one of three different colored chunks of blocks from the full ‘stack‘. While the mechanics are far from original, RadianGames have taken the type of gameplay found in titles like Collapse, reMovem, Block Fall and others, and expanded on it quite a bit giving players 3 different game modes and 5 different power-ups as well as some other nifty little mechanics that keep the gameplay fresh and feeling original in an otherwise stale genre.

While playing and clearing out groups of blocks each tap that you make moves the whole stack of blocks down further. This, on top of the stack moves down at a constant rate. Both of these speeds increase as you get further into the game, with the speeds displayed on the bottom of the screen. So while you may start out with the stack moving down a couple of spaces every time you remove a group of blocks, it will quickly start moving down to 2 and a half spaces, then 3, and so on, also while speeding up the constant movement. 

This comes into play with each one of the 3 different gameplay modes. Think has a very slow constant drop speed while having the stack move down large distances with each tap that takes out a group of blocks. This gives you the time to actually think about which group of blocks you want to take out, but penalizes you for not making good decisions on a regular basis. With the next mode, React, the constant drop speed is fast, but the burst when removing a group of blocks is a lot shorter so that you can make a lot of quick decisions without pushing the stack of blocks into the bottom of the screen right away. Lastly, there’s Crush mode, which is a sort of mixture of the two with the stack moving at a medium constant speed and having a medium drop distance. All of this makes for some pretty varied gameplay across the modes. 

At the beginning of each game you’ll also be able to choose one of five power-ups. Remix mixes up every row of blocks and drops the whole stack of bricks down a bit. Slow briefly slows the stack down, Chop removes the lowest 25 blocks, Solo sets 3 rainbow blocks onto the stack. Rainbow blocks are blocks that can connect groups of blocks. Say you have a group of black blocks touching a rainbow block and on the other side of the rainbow block, a group of white blocks. Touching either the black or white group of blocks will remove all of the colors that are touching the rainbow block. Getting these pieces into the right position is a game opening skill that definitely comes in handy once you learn to work with them. The last two power=ups are Blast and Duet. Blast removes 1 color from the stack and Duet turns the most common color in the stack into the other two. Each power-up is activated once you reach a certain score and if you have a power-up stored, you can use it as a sort of ‘extra life’ that will clear the last couple rows off the stack if it hit’s the bottom. However, this also makes it so that you can not charge up the power-up again for the rest of your game. This is all made even more complex by having a unique ‘wrapping’ feature. This connects both edges of the stack to each other, allowing for more thought out and challenging gameplay. 

GameCenter support drives the gameplay with 5 leaderboards, one for the amount of blocks you can remove in Think Mode, another for how long you can survive in React Mode, both how long you can survive and how many blocks you can remove in Crush Mode and an experience board for how much experience you’ve earned throughout the whole time you’ve played the game. There are also 10 hard to unlock achievements for you achievement hunters out there. RadianGames have always put out quality games, and Crush! is no exception. Priced at $0.99, if you’re into the genre, this is definitely a game that will have a long life-span on your device. I can only hope that RadianGames will wind up putting out more of these addictive action puzzlers in the future.