Monthly Archive: November 2011

Nov.14 – Freebies


Medal Of Gunner, developed by Pictosoft, is a FPS mixed with flying simulation. You’ll target and take out tons of planes by tilting your device. It does take a little bit of practice to get comfortable with the controls, but once you do, Medal Of Gunner becomes quite an entertaining game. Be sure you check it out while it’s free!

Donut Games has been giving away one game every week. Paracute is this weeks free game. One mechanic that really makes Paracute stand out within the Donut Games line-up is the use of teleporters and being able to upgrade your abilities. But like all Donut games, it’s great for kids as well as adults, so be sure you take advantage of this give-away while it lasts.
Marble shooters are fairly abundant in the AppStore, with not many having mechanics that set them apart. Porcupine Puzzle gives you porcupines to match up in groups of 3 or more, with some interesting physics thrown in. The porcupines that you start with already in the gameplay field are kind of like wheels. Once you stick another porcupine to them, they use the momentum of the shot porcupine and start swinging, and the spikes on the porcupines make them able to stick to eachother. So if you take out the middle porcupine, holding them together, the two sides won’t have anything holding them in place, and will start swinging back and forth. It’s better experienced than trying to imagine with some bad description, and the game is only 6.7 MB, and free at the moment. Just take our word for it, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Snuggle Truck, the popular Owlchemy Labs title where you try and make it to the finish line in your old truck, going over jumps, rocks, and other obstacles, without loosing all of the stuffed animals in the truck bed, has just gone free for the first time since it’s release. They have also recently added a level editor, which you can make your own levels, and share them online within the game with other players, as well as check out other gamer made levels. Players who didn’t buy Snuggle Truck before going free will have to deal with drop down ads after every 3 levels, but they are not intrusive at all, and never show up while your in the middle of a level. If you haven’t gotten Snuggle Truck before now, it’s a great time to do so! Even better, they’ve made the HD version free as well!
RedLynx speed-run platformer, Thousand Heroes, that has a level unlocked every day, and will keep unlocking one level every day, until they reach 1000 levels, has also gone free for the first time since it’s release earlier this year. You’re able to join teams, or make your own, so that you can compete with friends, or you can just compete with all gamers around the world. The game is pretty interesting, and having a game that you know you’ll be able to sink 5-15 minutes into every day for the next 2 or 3 years can be pretty nice. Don’t miss your chance to get this great platformer for free!

Veterans Day Price Drops!

We all know that developers within the AppStore never really need a reason to drop their prices. But when a holiday rolls around, it can get a little crazy. Veterans Day is no exception. Be sure you check out these freebies while you can;

Pickpawcket – $2.99 – FREE (Loopycube) – Universal
FlipShip – $1.99 – FREE (ByteSize Games) – Universal
FunFly – $0.99 – FREE (GameDIY.NET) – Universal
And also make sure to pick up any of these titles you may have thrown onto your wish-list and haven’t gotten around to buying yet, as a lot of these deals will not be beat anytime soon;
Shadowgun – $4.99 – $0.99 (Madfinger Games) – Universal
Scribblenauts Remix – $4.99 – $0.99 (Warner Brothers) – Universal
Be sure and pick up any (or all) of these titles, as they’re all worth checking out, especially at these prices.

W.E.L.D.E.R. – 1.99 (Ayopa/Highline Games)

As stated in our review of Chicken Rescue, Ayopa Games recently released two published games last week. The Scrabble meets Tetris type of word game, W.E.L.D.E.R., developed by Highline Games, would be their other title. This world-game has already reached #1 for iPad, is the iTunes game of the week, and is pretty high in the iPod charts, along with sporting a pretty nice trailer, so we figured we’d see what all the fuss was about, and give it a try.

The basis of the game is pretty simple. Swap around tiled letters to make words consisting of 4 or more letters, removing them from the screen, gaining points, while using the fewest amount of moves. The letters are scored depending on their color, with 1 point for lightly colored tiles, 2 for medium, 4 for dark, 8 for red, and then bonus tiles which multiply your score, or give you 10 or 20 points. There’s also wooden tiles which you can double tap and make any letter you like, but they give 0 points, and remove a swap from your available swap amount (which starts off at 25). Your final word score is totaled as the total of all the tiles, multiplied by the word’s length, and then additions or multipliers of the bonuses. There is no time limit, so you’re able to take your time and really come up with the best words you can. After you come up with a certain amount of words, you’ll move on to the next level. For instance, to beat level 1, you need to make 20 words. At the end of the level, the amount of swaps you have is multiplied by 25, and that’s given to you as an end of level bonus score. Sound confusing? It’s not really. Pretty much just make as many words as you can with the fewest amount of letter swaps, and you’ll score big. But as you level up, you’re given additional kinds of swaps. Level 2 gives you 2 reverse swaps, which lets you make words in reverse, draw a line through them, and double tap the word to flip it around so that the word will be counted. More nifty little swap tricks are added as you go up in level.
Now, I won’t lie. I find almost all word games pretty boring. The only reason I played Scrabble with my family when I was younger was because I liked keeping score and doing all the math. The scoring system in W.E.L.D.E.R. is a very nice addition, but it’s all worked out by the game, so it really comes down to making big words. And the game is actually really enjoyable. The addition of the falling tiles that can cascade down to make more words adds an extra bit of match-3 type strategy to the mix, and figuring out how to get a high scoring tile down to make a word without using a lot of swaps by making words under that tile, and having it fall down to where you need it feels great when you get it just right.
The addition of GameCenter leader boards for highest score, total points scored, total words, total palindromes (words the same forward as reversed – level, radar…), and biggest word score, along with 47 achievements which will take quite a while to fetch, add quite a bit of challenge and replay value. The graphics, animations, and sounds don’t really mean much in a game like W.E.L.D.E.R., but they are very professional, and fleshed out. The movement of the tiles is smooth, the look of the game is great, and the sounds fit it to a T.
Some players might want to be able to make words diagonally, or in reverse/upside-down, instead of left to right and up to down, but the way swaps are added later in the game, and the different mechanics that you’re given to do as you level up adds so much more to it than making words in any direction ever could. $1.99 (sale price, W.E.L.D.E.R. will go up to $3.99 soon) is a fantastic price for the amount of gameplay you’ll get out of W.E.L.D.E.R.. Highline Games has made an amazing word game, even for people who really don’t like word games have a chance of getting hooked fairly quickly, and Ayopa Games has done a great job seeing the potential in the title, and publishing it. Hopefully we’ll see more great games from both from developer and publisher in the future, because W.E.L.D.E.R. carries with it a lot of future potential. Just giving it a try might end up changing your perception of word games.
W.E.L.D.E.R. gets a score of 5 out of 5.

Mad Rush – 0.99 (Krivorukoff LLP)

Endless jumping games, like MegaJump, Doodle Jump, and the whole slew of them you can find in the AppStore, have gained a pretty large following over the years, hell, even my kids cell-phones came with Doodle Jump pre-installed on them. But finding these types of games offering something new to the mix is pretty rare. However, Krivorukoff LLP has noticed this, and done something about it with their first iOS release, Mad Rush.

You’ll embark on a journey to become the greatest racer in the universe, while defending your home from the evil Mr. Storm. Guiding your rabbit in races against 10 different characters, with 3 different races each, evolving your character through leveling up and distributing points, and learning more about the rabbits destiny as you progress through the game. To beat your opponents, you’ll need to collect egg looking objects in order to speed up. You can bump against your opponent, pushing them into hazards, or out of the way of a power-up, and the first one to cross the finish line wins.
You’re able to upgrade your characters speed, magnetic powers, shield, and boost, all of which will help you get through the later challenges of the game. There are bonus suits which give you extra powers, like better speed, more break through ability, and more, but they are only available when you buy the bonus pack through an IAP, though this IAP is not needed to complete the game, because you are able to go back and replay previously beaten levels to gain more experience, powering up your little rabbit even more if you are having trouble beating a certain character, but they do offer a way to support the developer, and get some nifty stuff in return.
Now, generally, the controls, as well as the smoothness of the gameplay come into question quite a bit. With Mad Rush, both are top notch. Nice, tight controls make weaving left and right, and avoiding the hazards that await you comes naturally, while the gameplay is buttery smooth, with no lag or frameskips to disrupt you while you’re playing. Considering the game runs at a pretty quick pace, these aspects are pretty impressive.
Mad Rush is supported by GameCenter, having a top collective score leader board, but no achievements, and no time boards, which would be nice. However, something that will make the game exceptional once it’s added is multiplayer gameplay. According to the developers, you will soon be able to compete head to head against your friends in multiplayer races. This would shoot the replay and gameplay entertainment values through the roof. Sadly though, it’s not part of the game yet, so we can’t seriously consider it as part of the review. But if it is added in the future, you can be sure that we’ll let you know, and push you guys to seriously consider buying this title. Right now, the gameplay is great, and the replay value is there with the collective score leader board, though a lot of players don’t like leader boards that collectively add up how many points you’ve gotten while playing the game, because the #1 spot could, hypothetically, just replay the first race over and over again, eventually achieving the #1 spot, instead of the person who has the highest score on each of the levels. Having IAPs which give players an advantage is also generally frowned upon, but considering how much extra stuff you get for a dollar, it’s not really worth fussing over. I know when I put Mad Rush on my kid’s devices, I’ll probably end up buying the IAP just so that they can play the game without too much difficulty, and it’s kind of hard not to keep that in mind when talking about IAP additions for a game like this. But with the leveling up system, and abilities to enhance, along with the difficulty of the later races, the replay value is there. $0.99 is a great price for a title that’s a great addition to the MegaJump type genre.
Mad Rush gets a score of 4 out of 5.

Chicken Rescue – 0.99 (Ayopa Games/End Boss Games)

Casual arcady games with an adventure type feeling are pretty popular among iOS gamers. Unlike the XBOX or PlayStation gamers, the AppStore is not really meant for hardcore gamers. With the current common pricing models developers and publishers have for the AppStore, it’s not surprising that it’s brought in a lot of people who normally would not play video games, or maybe even never played video games before owning an iPod. Ayopa Games, publishing their first two iOS games last week, Chicken Rescue, and W.E.L.D.E.R., has joined the parade of casual arcade publishers.

Chicken Rescue, developed by End Boss Games, a game in which you’ll control a mother chicken through 24 levels, using either accelerometer, gyroscope or virtual joystick controls, while she tries to find her missing children, and bring them all back to the chicken coop while collecting stars, apples, coins, breaking boxes, crates, and avoiding hazards, like pigs, cacti and falling off the edge of land into the water. The virtual joystick can be a tad unresponsive at times, which makes it seem a little clunky, it’s also pretty uncomfortable holding the iPod in Portrait view, instead of Landscape. If gamers were able to tilt their devices and have the game go from Portrait to Landscape, it would help make the game a lot more comfortable to play. There’s also no sensitivity options with tilt or gyro controls, and there really needs to be because the accelerometer controls are pretty touchy.
From the perspective of a hardcore gamer, Chicken Rescue can be a little easy, and get pretty boring fairly quickly. Using the tilt controls helps add a bit of challenge to the game, but fighting with the controls doesn’t exactly equal a fun kind of challenging. Chicken Rescue is more of a kid, or family game, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The AppStore does not have many family type games that are decent enough to be played by adults, as well as children, and even pre-pre-school kids. Collecting the flowers in each level along with finding the missing chick, is more designed to be fun for kids, but with the addition of the scoring system, which tacks on 10 points to each flower you snag without wasting too much time between them, does bring some more enjoyment to the game. There’s also some areas where you will need to use your dash ability, breaking boxes, to get to other areas, as well as using the dash to use rocks as ramps, getting flowers found in a higher area of the level.
GameCenter is also added, giving players 4 different leader boards; score, coins, completed levels, and overall completion, along with 8 achievements. This does have some added competition within the game for gamers looking for that extra little push of a challenge. There’s also a store where you can spend your collected coins, upgrading the combo time for collecting flowers, the number of coins found in each level, getting more shields in the levels, making the dash ability re-charge faster, increasing your health, and more. There are IAPs for coins, but you are not pushed towards buying them unless you would like more skins for your Mama Chicken, which cost 1,000 coins or more, and add abilities like increasing immunity time, or having apples restore health, and getting more points per flower combo. A lot of gamers do not like that you can pretty much buy your way up the leader boards, and can be a real deal-breaker when it comes to finally deciding whether or not to make that purchase. But considering it’s more of a kids/family game, it can also be seen as a way to make the game easier for little ones, so it’s hard to bash the developers for this model, especially since if you’re really wanting to get the different skins for your chicken, you can unlock them with in-game money. It will just take you a while to get them, as going through the whole game will usually get you about 1,000-2,000 coins.
In the end, kids with their smaller hands will most likely have a blast with Chicken Rescue. But before it becomes a game that adults will want to play, Landscape mode is a must, along with some tightening up for the virtual joystick, as well as making it more responsive, and adding some sensitivity options to the accelerometer controls. There is enough content and the upgrades are decent, though the leader boards pretty much being able to buy the top scores is a pretty big turn off. We’ve got mixed feelings for the game, because we have kids, nephews and nieces who have played, and enjoyed Chicken Rescue quite a bit, and we’ve had fun playing it with them, but for most of our readers, this isn’t the case. If you have younger children, , and have been looking for another game that you can play with them, that they will find pretty easy to play, and still has enough challenge to keep you interested, or are a more casual gamer, who doesn‘t play games very seriously, Chicken Rescue is a good choice, especially at the current price of $0.99 (which will go up to $1.99 soon), and being Universal. But there’s a few things that need to be added and worked with before it becomes a game that more serious gamers will enjoy.
Chicken Rescue gets a score of 3 out of 5.

‘Evertales App Review’- Wizards, Beautiful Graphics and Epic Bosses

Evertales is the newest game from Crescent Moon Games, an influential gaming studio that emphasizes collaboration, innovation and unique ideas. They have had several previous forays into the RPG market such as Aralon: Sword and Shadow, Pocket RPG, Ravensword and many others. But in this new mix of the typical formula they have toned down the rpg aspect and turned Evertales into more of a sidescrolling platformer.

As mentioned before you are constantly moving right trying to get to the end of each chapter. Enemies are of course trying to kill you and have various ways of trying to do so. You can pick and choose from three different characters to handle each scenario while in the level.  This can be very useful because it allows you to approach each situation differently. Say you have a drunken dwarf throwing bottles of alchol at you.  You could choose to rush him with the Knight character and potentially risk losing some life or you could use the Archer or the Wizard, both long range specialists to pick em off from a distance.  These different characters allow many different puzzle elements to be worked into the game. For example the knight can barely jump because of his armor, the elf can double jump to reach high areas and the wizard can glide to hard to reach places with his cloak. Combined with the enemies different strengths and attack patterns you will have to be alert to pass through the level safely. Plus there is a gigantic boss fight at the end of each chapter which is always worth looking forward to.

  Once you finish a chapter, you can change your characters armor, buy new weapons or choose to upgrade them instead with “Evercoins”  These “Evercoins” are usually spread across the level in hard to reach places and can be a challenge to collect all of them. You can also choose to buy them through IAP. Though it doesnt feel necessary to buy the IAP the minimal amount of coins you get per level are hardly enough to upgrade a weapon or two. This can be solved by replaying the levels a few times to rack up enough Evercoins.  The graphics are as usual, superbly done and the sounds are just as good.  Controls can feel a bit spotty sometimes but they get the job done.

With only 9 chapters I managed to blow through the game in about two hours.  Even though the actual experience felt great I feel they should have spent more time working on the gameplay and adding new and intruiging puzzle aspects.  Its definitely not a bad game and I recommend you pick it up but to me it feels like something is missing that would make this a truly outstanding game.  I give it a 4/5. (Currently on a intro sale for 0.99)

(Currently out in NZ, will release in the U.S. by 11:00 clock tonight)

Super Bit Dash Goes FREE

Super Bit Dash, developed by FakePup, has just gone free. This endless runner is split up into 2 different modes, each having 2 different difficulties. One mode is sort of level based, putting together 20 random “rooms” to create the run-through, while the other mode is endless. You’ll tap to jump and swipe to dash up, down, left, and right, each dash using a coin, with your character being able to hold 4 dash coins at a time. It’s retro graphics and 8-bit soundtrack add to the game quite a bit, and the whole package proves to be a worthwhile challenge. So don’t miss your change to pick up this great title while it’s free!

Flip Riders, Haunted Hallway and Finger Gravity updates!

Flip Riders, the 2D side-scrolling racer from Agimat (developers of Shadow Candy: Sugar Rush), has just gotten it’s first major update, and it’s a doozy! Included in the update; Checkpoints! No more complete restarts when you crash. This has been a fairly common request on the Touch Arcade Forums, so it’s great to see that it’s been included, and should make the game more accessible to casual gamers. There’s also 4 new worlds with 20 new levels, all made for casual and beginning players, making the game even more accessible to casual gamers. A 3rd control option, Left and Right buttons, and a new camera view for when your rider is high up in the air, so that you can see what you’re going to be thrown into when you land. There’s also another major update coming within the next week, so if you don’t have this great game yet, now would be an awesome time to start getting into it.
Haunted Hallway, the endless runner with platformer controls developed by Uncade, has just received it’s first big update, including GameCenter leaderobards for high-score and for distance, more emeralds and rubies, added distance to the results screen, and changed it up with more level variety. Addressing a lot of issues that gamers were talking about, Haunted Hallway is now better than ever. More replay value, more variety, and higher scores give it that extra little oomph that was missing in version 1.0. Make sure you check out the new and improved Haunted Hallway!
Finger Gravity, a gravity based physics puzzler, developed by Wode Mobile, has also just gotten it’s first big update. It includes 21 new mind-bending levels for you to try and make your way through. Hopefully, the added content will help get this game more attention, because it really does deserve it, as it’s one of the few physics puzzlers we here at The App Shack have been able to stick with, and feel that the gameplay and mechanics make it stick out in an AppStore flooded with physics puzzlers. Be sure to snag this one if you don’t have it yet, you won’t regret it.

Alien Space Retro, Piyo Blocks 2, Leave Devil Alone and The Marbians = FREE!

Alien Space Retro, the follow up game to Alien Space, developed by Owens Rodriguez, has proven to be one spectacular dual-stick space shooter that has earned itself quite a big group of fans. In the game, you’ll need to destroy asteroids and collect the red and blue orbs within to keep your health and ammo fully charged while you take on wave after wave of enemies, and upgrading your ship and weapons. There’s also a survival mode, along with a couple more modes available through IAP. If you’re a fan of dual-stick space shooters, or just great arcade games, Alien Space and Alien Space Retro are two games you should definitely have on your device, and right now, you can have Retro for free, so what are you waiting for? Download this one quick!

Piyo Blocks 2, developed by Big Pixel Studios (Meow Meow Happy Fight, Land-A Panda, Piyo Blocks), is a nice match-3 game with 6 different modes. It recently got a retina update, and is supported by GameCenter, so you can compete for high-scores with your friends and gamers around the world. Piyo Blocks 2 is a match-3 worth checking out, especially for free.

This side-scrolling tower defense game, developed by Orz Games (Battleground, Baby Madness, Dream Up), has some nice graphics, great animations, and action filled gameplay. Fans of TD games should really take some time and check out Leave Devil Alone while it’s free. It could just end up on your top iOS TD games list.

The Marbians is a physics based flick game, developed by Nordisk Film Games, where you’re given one shot to fling your Marbian around the level, collecting orbs, bouncing it off of walls and other objects, and making it to their space ship at the end of the level. Those of you who haven’t had your fill of physics based puzzle type games will probably really enjoy this one. Those of you who have had your fill, and the thought of one more physics based puzzle game kind of makes you sick… well, you might just want to check out The Marbians too, as it might get you back into the genre, seeing that there are some really decent physics puzzlers being added to the AppStore these days. It’s free, so you don’t have anything to loose. Check it out. **note – the HD version is also free.

Glowfish – 2.99/4.99 (MumboJumbo)

Exploritory Metroidvania-type games are a pretty big rarity in the AppStore, but those that can be found are extremely well made. Glowfish, by MumboJumbo (Luxor, 7 Wonders), is no exception to this. You’ll guide Glowfish through 50+ levels, finding all the little glowing fish you can use as your shield, defeating interesting enemies, exploring the depths for hidden areas, collecting coins, and gaining friends that you can take along with you, lending their abilities.

You’ll control your Glowfish with a virtual joystick, a shield button, which either brings the fish you’ve collected into a shield circle around you, or lets them trail behind you, letting you access areas joined by a small pathway, along with tapping on the screen to dash in the direction you are facing.
To start off each level, you will not have any fish you can use as a shield, and will need to find a certain amount before you can move on to the next part of the level. Once you have collected a fish or two, you can hit the shield button, and they will start to circle you, giving you a shield you can use to smash into enemies. The more fish you have, the bigger your shield, and the bigger the enemies you can take out. There are some hazards and water life that you will not be able to attack, like bigger crabs, sea urchins and others, these are best left untouched. If you do happen to run into one of them, you will bounce off and loose a couple of fish that you have collected. They can be re-collected, but you will have to chase them down.
The graphics are top notch, and look exceptionally good. The neon type color scheme works very well for the under water atmosphere, and along with the backdrops, everything stands out significantly. The animations are extremely well done, with everything flowing, adding immensely to the underwater feel of the game. Everything on the screen, aside from the rocks, moves and sways back and forth, and every character in the game has their own little quirky movements. Something else I feel like I need to bring up is the level design. It’s incredibly well done. There’s also a very good mix of small, medium, and large levels. The hidden areas are fairly well hidden, but are also pretty easily found with your map, which comes together as you progress in each level, ala Metroid. The music and effects help build on the atmosphere and feeling of it all, bringing the entire package to completion.
Glowfish is $2.99 for the iPhone, and $4.99 for the iPad, and worth every single penny, and then some. It is supported by GameCenter with a highscore leader board and 25 achievements, which, combined with the 4 star ratings available on each level, adds to the replay value a bit, though you probably won’t play through Glowfish more than one time in a row, it is a game that will call you back after a month or two. It certainly is a game that everyone who owns an iDevice should check out, and will easily end up on quite a few top games of 2011 lists.
Glowfish gets a score of 5 out of 5.