Monthly Archive: October 2011

Tiny Token Empires – 0.99 (Bulkypix)

Bulkypix has become one of the bigger iOS developers/publishers over the last couple years or so, putting out numerous popular games, loads of which have hit Apple’s New & Noteworthy list. I only bring this up because it all makes their latest release, Tiny Token Empires, for the iPhone, a bit of a mystery.

First off, the iPad version of Tiny Token Empires is $8.99, and the iPhone version is $0.99. This should be a big clue that there’s going to be quite a bit of the game left out of the iPhone version, and sadly, it’s there, but only available through IAPs. To get the full Tiny Token Empires iPhone game, a total of $7.92 (+tax) will need to be spent. Now, I’m all for premium pricing in the AppStore, but generally, only when a developer comes out with a premium game that deserves that premium price.
In the AppStore description, it says that Tiny Token Empires includes 5 campaigns, one per nation for over 15 hours of gaming, 5 nations, 5 heroes, 25 generals, and 50 kinds of units, including 5 kinds of puzzles, with 3 difficulty levels, and 4 other games modes, including solo and multi. So most customers will go into the purchase thinking, “wow, that’s quite a bit of gameplay for my $0.99!”, and it really seems like that is what Bulkypix is counting on. There is no mention of IAPs in the description, and nowhere does it say what you get for your $0.99. Here is what the dollar game consists of.
You’ll get OpenFeint support, the Roman campaign, which contains 4 missions, a Free Mission mode where you can either play as the Romans or Egyptians, in one of 5 different missions, choosing one of 3 difficulties, and a Quick Battle mode, which lets you play a randomized match-3 game against another empire, and that OpenFeint support; you‘ll have access to one leader board. Now, this doesn’t sound too bad for $0.99, except that this is everything that’s included in their PC demo. So with that in mind, and after playing the game for an hour, you’ll feel more like you’ve paid $0.99 for a lite version of the game.
However, the game is decent. You’ll start off with a town, build it up with defenses, an army, and more buildings, earning money with each turn, which enables you to build more of your town up. You’ll take your army, and move it from one section on the map to another, expanding your empire, and having a match-3 battle whenever you come across a territory that is already occupied by another ruler or civilization. The first 4 Roman campaign missions that you are given feel more like a tutorial though, with a “wise elder” telling you what you need to do to get through each mission, and then letting you half-way do the last mission on your own. Once you complete that, you’re done with the main game. You are given partial access to the free mission mode, and can play a randomized match-3 battle, but as for the main meat of the game. Done. In the game’s description is also says that there is a “multi” mode, but it’s not found anywhere in the game.
It’s almost impossible not to compare Tiny Token Empires to Puzzle Quest, because they are the two big match-3 adventure turn-based RPG type games in the AppStore. Puzzle Quest, with 3 chapters, with the first chapter being free, and 2 and 3 being $0.99 each, with over 40 hours of very impressive quest filled turn-based match-3 gameplay, and Tiny Token Empires, a little under $8, 15 hours of not so quest filled turn-based match-3 gameplay, with a demo/lite verison that costs $0.99.
I don’t want to say that Tiny Token Empires is a bad game, because it’s not. It’s put together extremely well, has nice graphics, and decent music. It’s user interface is a little clunky, but not so much that it gets in the way of the game. It does have some smoother looking animations sequences than Puzzle Quest, and it has free mission and random battle modes to go along with the campaign. I don’t think the game feels like a premium priced game though. A lot of gamers do not like the “pay-as-you-go” pricing model, and here, Bulkypix is charging iPod gamers for what they’re giving away to PC gamers. It doesn’t rub players the right way, and I have no idea how Bulkypix is going to come out of this one on top.

Oscura – 1.99 (MTV Networks/Viacom/Chocolate Liberation Front)

MTV Networks is not really known for releasing quality gaming titles. Potty Racers, Ski Runner, Bigby: L.A.P.D., these games are not exactly going to end up on any “Top” lists. But with their latest release of Oscura, a platformer developed by Viacom+Chocolate Liberation Front, they might just be thinking of jumping into the high quality iOS gaming ring. And hopefully, they make a big enough roar that they’re pushed to keep going.

The game takes place on an island where dark creatures are tucked away by a magical light held in a lighthouse outpost. Inevitably, the power crystal that harnessed this magical light exploded, scattering shards of the crystal all over the island, and covering the land in darkness. Oscura, as the light keeper, now has to embark on the dangerous task of collecting all of these shards, and restoring the light.
The controls are simple enough, touch on the left side of the screen to move left, the right side of the screen to move right, and touch both sides of the screen to jump. To jump while standing still, you’ll need to tap on both sides of the screen. If you hold down, you’ll end up going in one direction or the other. You are also able to double jump, and swipe on the screen to slow down time once you have enough power in your time gauge, which fills up as you collect shards of light. Generally, most platformer fans are not very big on games that don’t have virtual controls, but with the recent releases of Bring Me Sandwiches, Bean’s Quest, and the controls used here in Oscura, we’re quickly learning that platformers don’t need virtual controls to have controls that work wonderfully.
The graphics in Oscura are done in silhouette style, and along with the animations, character models, physics, colors that are used, and music (by Matt Murphy, and Chris Sullivan), all comes together to create an incredibly immersive, beautiful environment. As for level design, towards the beginning of the game, it’s a little bland, and pretty linear. But as you move on into the last half of the game, the designs get a lot better, using enemies and hazardous objects to reach platforms, and hidden areas you’ll need to find if you want to collect every item in the levels opens up quite a bit of options with the design, and Chocolate Liberation Front has done a great job taking advantage of that.
You’re able to collect 4 stars at the end of each level, one for time, one if you do not die, another for collecting all of the light shards, and lastly, one for collecting all of the gears. This is basically where all of the replay value is within the game, as collecting all of these stars will take gamers multiple playthroughs. There is no OpenFeint or GameCenter support, but with the star ratings, it doesn’t really take away from the replay value, but it is something that would be very welcome in a future update.
There are presently 7 levels, each taking about 1 to 3 minutes to beat, meaning that you will probably finish the game in about 15 to 20 minutes. This is where a lot of gamers will get turned off, and probably end up passing up this great game. Thankfully, as I mentioned, there are star ratings that you can try and grab once you complete the game, and grabbing all of them is a pretty nice challenge. There are 5 more levels that are said to be coming in the future, and hopefully the onslaught of very low ratings in the AppStore will not discourage the developers, and cause the game to never get updated, because even though there’s an ending for the game after you beat the 7th level, it’ll drive you crazy knowing that the developers had more in mind. There’s obviously more to the game, and Oscura is an adventure that deserves to be complete.
For $1.99, Oscura being Universal, and the amazing look and gameplay in this title, it’s definitely a game that platformer fans should check out. Chocolate Liberation Front has created an incredibly beautiful and well rounded game that is sure to grab quite a few extremely loyal fans. But, if you are not a gamer that goes after star ratings for levels, and is done with a game after they beat the last level, then you will probably feel like your $1.99 was not spent very well. Hopefully there are enough gamers out there that do play certain games to completion, and will try and step up to the challenge of getting every star filled in every level, because it would be a shame if Oscura faded into the pile of thousands of monotonous games floating around the AppStore.
Oscura gets a score of 4.5 out of 5.

Haunted Hallway Free for Halloween

Haunted Hallway, by Uncade, released on October 22nd, has just gone free for Halloween. We recently reviewed Haunted Hallway, and seeing what the developer has to say on the Touch Arcade forums, it’s looking like the game will get a lot more interesting in the future, so if you’re the slightest bit interested in this endless runner created around platforming gameplay, now would be the time to check it out.

Alphadia Correction

Review sites are not very well known for saying that they got something wrong. But at The App Shack, we believe that you, our readers, deserve to know when we’ve made a mistake, and what a game is really like. Yesterday I posted up a review for Alphadia, by Kemco, the same developers of the amazing turn-based RPG, Symphony Of Eternity. In that review I said this;
“The only bad thing I can say about Alphadia is that the battle results screen sometimes feels like it’s getting in the way of the game. It doesn’t matter how quickly or how much you tap on the screen, the battle result screen has a set time that it’s shown.”
Then, while playing Alphadia last night, I started to tap quicker, and on the right side of the screen at the battle results screen. This made the results screen vanish into the past very quickly. Apparently, I wasn’t tapping quick enough, or was tapping on the wrong side of the screen, as it seems that the results screen doesn’t fade away as quickly if you’re tapping quickly on the left side of the screen. Anyway, the main point of this announcement is to say that I didn’t tap quick enough to make the results screen go away quickly, and then posted in my review, WRONGLY posted in my review, that the results screen could not be pushed aside “no matter how quickly or how much you tap on the screen” – which is outright wrong. This is also the main reason Alphadia got a score of 9 out of 10, because I felt that it took you out of the game for a long enough time that it made the gameplay feel not as smooth as it should, and it got a bit frustrating waiting for the results screen to go away before getting back into the action. So, I’m going to change (for the first time EVER!) the Alphadia score from 9/10 to a perfect 10/10, which is very much what it deserves, and would like to apologize to the Kemco, Kotobuki Solution developers and publishers, as well as our readers, for the mis-understanding.

More Halloween Freebies!

CATCHa Prince, drawmind’s vision of a Tower Defense/Shoot-em-up/RPG, has just gone free as well. Pick your heroes, pick your weapons, enjoy the story, and shoot everything you can. Drawmind has done a pretty decent job merging genres to create a worthwhile retro styled title. Be sure to check it out while it’s free.
Earlier this year Pinch Games released their physics puzzler Silly Owls. You need to get the three owls, each with different abilities, into their homes by bouncing and rolling them off of various obstacles. It’s not a bad physics puzzler, and we’re almost sure that this one didn’t do very well when it was released because, well, the AppStore is filled with these types of games. But now if you’re a fan of the genre, you can snag Silly Owls for free, and have some interesting puzzles to solve this Halloween.
Race After 1977, by Xpect Games, is a wasteland racer. Good physics, real cars, nice track design, this is definitely a racer game racer fans should check out. Even if you’re not into racing games, Race After 1977 offers up some very nice gameplay, and might just make you a fan.
Halloween wouldn’t be complete without a first person shooter now would it? Twindigo has offered up their title, Puppet War:FPS, as a freebie this Halloween, and it’s one FPS fans should check out. Not only will it have you laughing, but offers an awesome shooter experience at the same time. Puppet War:FPS is a shooter that should not be missed.
Dracula: Resurrection – Part 1, developed by Microids, is an amazing point ‘n click adventure game, and what better time to give away a horror game that a lot of gamers haven’t had a chance to check out than at Halloween. Dracula: Resurrection is a 3 part adventure, and generally, gamers don’t like knowing they’re going to have to buy 2 more titles to get the full story, but with Resurrection, each part is definitely worth more than it’s weight in gold. From the developers of Dracula: Path Of The Dragon, Microids has outdone themselves with this series, and they’re pretty secure with the thought that once you check out the first part, parts 2 and 3 (each available for $0.99!) are as good as sold.
Hysteria Project, a point n’ click horror FMV survival game by Buklypix, has gone free again, of course, for the one holiday we all love to test out our fear centers for, Halloween. No game on the iOS fully immerses you in a world where you need to get away from a killer like Hysteria Project. If you’re into typical 90’s horror games, this is one game you should really check out.
One of The App Shack’s favorites, Squirmee, by Coding Design, has gone free again. Fresh off the heals of a MASSIVE update, Squirmee is an interesting puzzler in which you’ll need to guide Squirmee through 75 challenging levels so he can save his sister. Be sure to pick this one up and find out why it’s become an App Shack favorite.
SEGA doesn’t give out freebies too often, but when they do, you can be pretty sure that you’re going to be re-living some old gaming memories. This latest freebie is no different. Streets Of Rage 2, the early 90’s beat-em-up, is now available for free. Do not miss this classic that many games since have been influenced by, or that have tried to emulate, copy, clone, be a younger brother of, you name it. Streets Of Rage 2 is a classic that every fan of the genre should own.

GravCat Halloween Competition!

(Click to see full size image)
GravCat developer, Monster Robot Studios, is having a special Halloween competition in which you could win a $10 iTunes gift card! GravCat Version 1.1 will go live on October 31st, after that time, you can update, or buy the game (you could also follow us on Twitter for a chance to win a promo code for version 1.0, that we will be giving out before the 31st!), and have a go at it.

Here’s the contest information;

In one of the 10 new levels there is a blue pumpkin, you need to find it, then use your tractor beam to place it on 3 different checkered locations scattered throughout the stage, taking a screen shot each time. the first person to post the 3 pictures wins!

The prize is a $10 itunes gift certificate!

You can get a hold of Monster Robot Studios through their Facebook or Twitter pages, so get ready to search the new levels, find the blue pumpkin, and place it on all 3 checkered locations to try and win a $10 iTunes gift card.

Squids gets a content update!

The Game Bakers latest title, Squids, has gotten tons of great reception from gamers. Here at The App Shack, it’s one of the few games that has gotten a perfect 10 out of 10 score. To our surprise, we woke up this morning, and saw that an update had gone out for this title, and it’s one that’s definitely worth checking out!
New in Version 1.2.1 –
–New Halloween Level.
–8 New Helmets.
–Bug fix with pearls in App Purchase when offline.
–Mission 6 always unlocks after mission 5.
–Better visualization of items in shop.
–Bug fix for “All stars” achievement.
What we’re really excited about is the new level and helmets. If you’ve been waiting for new content, here it is. A big thank you to The Game Bakers, and if you haven’t checked out Squids yet, it’s an amazing casual action turn-based RPG game where you fling your characters into enemies to do damage. Each hat you equip transfers it’s powers over to you, so once you have a hat, you have it’s powers. It’s definitely a game you’ve got to check out. If you’ve already got Squids, make sure to grab this update, and check out the new content.

Alphadia – 2.99 (Kemco)

Kemco, developers of the amazing turn-based RPG, Symphony Of Eternity, have returned with an equally amazing addition to the genre, releasing Alphadia. The developers over at Kemco have proven that they know exactly how to make a turn-based RPG comparable to the likes of Final Fantasy, so when they came out of the gate so soon after SoE with their second iOS release, Alphadia, RPG fans knew they had to have it.

First off, the graphics. Alphadia doesn’t fully share the retro look of it’s sister title, SoE, but it does share the retro feeling. Even though the graphics have been redrawn to take advantage of the retina display on newer iPods, the game still feels like a retro title. This amazing mesh of modern and old-school graphics has created quite an awesome looking world for gamers to completely immerse themselves in, with amazing character models, wonderfully detailed environments, and cute character animations, it all comes together extremely well, sucking players into the world.
The story of Alphadia takes place in a world free from war for 100 years. Either bored, or seeing something worth pursuing, the Schwarzschild empire has begun it’s conquest for world domination. You’ll control Ash, his brother, sister, and two mysterious characters, as well as others who join your party along the way, as you try and find a way to stop the quickly expanding Schwarzschild empire.
The story is, as to be expected from Kemco, extremely well translated, and very immersive. Feelings for the characters comes quickly, and the story is the main drive of the game. Where in SoE, the deep upgrade, equipping system was equal to the story, in Alphadia, the story takes the drivers seat, with everything else in the back.
Not to say that the equipping and leveling up system isn’t great, because it is. Each character, as well as enemy, has a certain element that they are familiar with, and have control over from birth. For instance, Ash’s element is fire. This means that almost all of his spells throughout the game will be connected to fire in some way. He is also most resistive to fire based enemies, and can have his butt handed to him by water enemies if you’re not careful. There are gems in the world that you can equip, and which give you either more control over your element, or give you the ability to use other elements, though not as powerfully as you can use your familiar element. All leveling up, and points are handled automatically by the game, so all the player needs to worry about is equipping a weapon, armor, and one accessory. This simplified leveling up and equip system makes the game a lot more accessible to casual RPG gamers, but there’s also formation handling, which can drastically change the outcome of big battles, so the whole formation, equip system is not so dumbed down that hardcore fans of the genre will find it boring and simple either.
Now, if you’re a player who doesn’t really focus on the story, and is more into the turn-based battle systems, you’ll be glad to hear that you can tap repeatedly on the screen to skip through the story, then find out where you need to go using the map along with the quest icon in the pause menu. There are some areas where you’ll just need to explore a bit, randomly running into enemies that do not appear on the field, more like an older Final Fantasy game, until you enter the room with the character you’re needing to find in order to progress. There is a bit of exploration in the game, as you would expect if you’re familiar with Kemco, for instance, the map will only highlight your final destination, but in order to get there, you might need to find a tunnel that’s “somewhere north-east of this facility”, so you will come across plenty of battles to feed your battle system addiction. However, there’s also an Auto button if you’re more interested in the story and larger battles.
The only bad thing I can say about Alphadia is that the battle results screen sometimes feels like it’s getting in the way of the game. It doesn’t matter how quickly or how much you tap on the screen, the battle result screen has a set time that it’s shown.(PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ OUR CORRECTION OF THIS, THE BATTLE RESULTS SCREEN CAN BE TAPPED THROUGH!) This could be fixed in a future update, but right now, it can feel like it’s breaking up the game just a little bit too much. Aside from that, Kemco has given RPG fans another amazingly well done title to completely immerse themselves in. With the launch price of $2.99, it’s a steal, and must-buy for anyone remotely interested in playing a top notch turn-based RPG on their iDevice.
Alphadia gets a perfect score of 10 out of 10.

Robo5 HD for iPad is released, and gets updated to Version 1.1!

Robo5, Yuguosoft’s new action puzzle-platformer, released last week for the iPhone, and the week before in the Mac Store, has just had it’s HD release for iPad. It’s also priced at $0.99 as a launch special. With the amount of entertainment, fun, challenge and content, it’s a must-buy no matter what kind of games you’re into. If you haven’t heard anything about Robo5 yet, you can check out the review we wrote up for it last week, or watch the trailer below for a quick look into what the game is like. This is one that should not be missed.
Robo5 has also been updated to Version 1.1, which includes grammar fixes, and a drop down log list for gamers to check the game’s text at any time!

Free for a Limited Time – Funtom of the Opera for iOS

MetalCompass has announced that for a limited time, Funtom of the Opera 1.0.1 for iPhone and iPod touch is now free. Get ready to experience the craziest and most addictive voice activated game to ever hit the iPhone. FunTom of the Opera puts you in control of a fuzzy blue creature that loves nothing more than to see glassware burst. Watch Out! Playing Funtom of the Opera will keep you coming back for more.

Control the musical note with the sound of your voice. Low pitch sounds will make the note drop. High pitch sounds will take it up. Keep the musical note in the dark area long enough for it to fill up and smash the glass. Hit the right tone and shatter your way through the levels, as you break, explode, smash and shatter dozens of objects to proceed through dozens of levels. But you'll have to act fast because if the curtain drops before the objects break the show's over.

Download FunTom of the Opera today and enjoy the most original game that's pure laughs, all for the cost of spare change. FunTom of the Opera has been a top music game in dozens of countries, with 5 stars reviews from top review sites.

Device Requirements:
* iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
* Requires iOS 3.1.2 or later
* 8.7 MB

Pricing and Availability:
Get it now. For a limited time, Funtom of the Opera 1.0.1 is free and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Games category.

Funtom of the Opera 1.0.1:
Download from iTunes:
YouTube Video:
App Icon:

MetalCompass is an Israeli based company focused on bringing the next generation of mobile gaming by developing real world games and gaming peripherals for smartphones. Copyright (C) 2011 MetalCompass Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.