Search Results for: label/0.99

Number of Results: 123

Pebble Universe ( – $0.99

With the insane amount of physics puzzlers in the AppStore, I generally wind up staying away from most of them. There’s very few that look like they incorporate some sort of new mechanic, but then after watching a gameplay video or trailer for the game, it usually winds up looking like just another brick in the wall, and it’s hard to get excited about something you feel like you’ve played a hundred times before. I felt the same way about Pebble Universe when taking a quick glance at the screen shots, but then saw a gameplay video, and was instantly intrigued. It seems the two man studio out of Sweden,, had something very special planned for their first foray into the iOS gaming world.
Unlike most other physics puzzlers, timing is very important in Pebble Universe. To progress through each of the 50 levels, you’ll need to time collisions between rocks just perfectly. In each stage, there’s a group of monsters, and to complete the level, you’ll need to destroy the monster king (the monster wearing a crown). To do this, you’re given a certain amount of little rock creatures to tap on, letting them roll down hills, or flinging them across the stage using fans, and crashing them into each other. Once they hit each other, they explode, raining bits of rock onto the monsters. Each monster that is hit with a piece of the rock creatures explodes, sending their horns, and eyeballs flying all over the level. If these bits and pieces of the monsters come into contact with another monster, that monster explodes, sometimes causing a huge chain reaction. If you hit the monster king before all of the other monsters, you’re docked points. The goal in each stage is to do this using as few rock creatures as you can.
As you make your way through the game, you’ll unlock different types of rock creatures. Some of which have bigger explosions, others send their exploded pieces straight up, while others have all of their pieces only fall downwards. Each one having a pretty big influence on how you’ll go about completing each of the levels. Also thrown into the mix are monsters that move around the environment, making the timing of the rock creature collisions even more important.
Of course, in all physics puzzlers, the physics are very important. In Pebble Universe, has done an amazing job getting the physics mechanics just right. The inertia of each object when it flies off of cliffs, or bounces off of something else, the angles of everything flying through the air after an explosion, the speed and general weight ‘feeling’ of everything is perfect. Even in the case of fans that only blow the bits of rock another direction after exploding have the look of real weight. It’s very clear that a lot of thought, research, effort, and work has gone into making the physics of Pebble Universe act and feel just right.
However, no matter how great the physics act and feel, it’s still kind of hard to actually get the game right without a lot of trial and error. Granted, a lot of great games come with that aspect, but even by the end of the second world, I felt that if the third world was included with this 1.0.1 build of the game, that I still wouldn’t be able to dive right in, and know exactly when to let pebbles go based on the level designs, rock physics, collection of pebbles, inclusion of fans, and moving monsters. There would still be quite a bit of trial and error involved, and I know there’s gamers out there that tend to shy away from that type of gameplay. But if you’re fine with, or even looking for a game that will have you playing a level once to learn it, again to get the timing right, and then a third time to try and max your score, Pebble Universe is a great game to check out. The satisfaction in seeing the chain reaction of monsters being set off is well worth the extra effort. And with the great physics, and movement of everything in the levels, there’s not just one specific solution for each of the levels. If you’re creative, chances are you’ll be able to have a blast with the game, while climbing the leader boards.
Sealing the deal are top notch graphics available in native resolution on both the iPhone and iPad, taking advantage of Universal support. Accompanying the great graphics, you’ll be able to track your scores through GameCenter, with Pebble Universe having 4 different leader boards, one for each of the 2 worlds, a total score leader board, and another separate board for the 6 extra bonus levels which can be unlocked while playing the game by hitting flowers that are set up in extra challenging positions. There are no achievements, but that doesn’t really hurt the replay value, with it being pretty challenging to hit all of the monsters in each of the levels, as well as unlocking all of the bonus levels. There’s also another world being worked on ATM, as well as an Android version (so those of you hybrid iPod/Android users out there – be sure and check it out in the Android market soon). With the price set at only $0.99, it’s very easy to recommend, and the high production values and unique gameplay make it even easier to add to our must-buy list.

Glow Worm (AngryOrange) – $0.99

Action Puzzlers have really found their place on the iOS. With titles like Robo5, Gears, Dark Nebula, Edge, Squirmee, Swingworm and loads more, developers have really taken advantage of the touch screen, and accelerometer capabilities of the iDevice, and at the same time, given us extremely entertaining and challenging gameplay. Angry Orange’s Glow Worm is one of the newest additions to the Action Puzzler genre, meshing together a nice challenge with arcade type gameplay, and toping it off with great graphics and tight, simple controls.
The goal in Glow Worm is to get all of the bacteria into your molecular orb. Doing this will not be an easy task, as you’ll need to avoid all of the hazards, make it through tough situations, and make sure that your glow worm does not run out of energy. As you guide more and more bacteria into your orb, you will gain little bits of energy for your glow worm, but not enough to be making mistakes around every corner.
In most levels, you’ll have to maneuver the bacteria around rotating X Cells, and avoid touching the Red Cells, which destroy the bacteria on contact. To clear a level, you need to guide every bacteria to the molecular orb. Missing one, like having one bacteria touch a red cell, or leaving it out in the open, or running out of energy will result in a failed level, though this doesn‘t become apparent until you actually complete what you can of the level, and nothing happens. Having no leeway with how many bacteria you need to collect to move on from level to level can get pretty frustrating, but that’s where the challenge comes in. However, there is almost always a pretty thin line between all out frustrating, and challenging. In the levels where the rotating X Cells cause the bacteria on both sides of the level to move on their own towards red cells, giving you hardly any time to collect them before they’re destroyed can seem a little unfair, but if you’re quick, it’s definitely possible to complete. Thankfully, Angry Orange has done a very good job walking the line of challenging while keeping the game fair.
To collect the bacteria, you’ll need to place your finger on the glow worm, and drag where you want to move to. Once you’re in position, tapping on the worm will cause it to turn into a magnet of sorts, drawing all the bacteria that’s within range close to it. Here is where the energy of the glow worm comes into play. You only use energy when the glow worm is acting like a magnet, so you’ll need to activate it, and then quickly turn this ability off, having the bacteria use the inertia to keep moving in the desired direction. If you keep the glow worm’s magnetism activated while dragging the bacteria all the way to the orb, you’ll run out of energy very quickly.
Right now, Glow Worm is $0.99, and Universal. There is no GameCenter or OpenFeint support, and no in-game achievements. There’s also only 18 levels, and with the strict level progression guidelines, there’s no star ranking system like in most puzzlers, leaving little to no room for replay value. But the graphics are nice and crisp, the BGM is great, and fit’s the feel of the environments, while the gameplay is challenging enough to keep you busy for a while. If you’re easily frustrated by puzzlers, Glow Worm is probably a game you’ll want to stay away from, but if you’re looking for a challenge, and don’t mind low replayabilty, and no online support, it’s a game that’s worth checking out.

Gravity Fleet (Coffee Powered Machine) – $0.99

Physics based puzzlers have pretty much gone overboard in the AppStore, with at least 2 or 3 being released every week, and that’s not counting the massive amount released by unknown developers. Because of this, it’s obviously pretty hard to find a title within the genre that will keep your attention beyond looking at the screen shots. Coffee Powered Machine, a two person development group based out of Argentina, took a risky chance having their first iOS release fit into the already cramped physics puzzler genre, but with Gravity Fleet, C.P.M. introduced enough fresh mechanics to keep players hooked from beginning to end.
Gravity Fleet places you in space, going up against invading aliens. You’re able to use the gravity of nearby planets, and sometimes their moons, to fire an array of different missiles at the invaders. There are 8 different worlds, each with 10 levels, and as with almost every other iOS game, a 3 star ranking for each of the 80 levels. Depending on how many missiles you use and how much health each of the planets have when you destroy the last enemy, your score will rise, and the stars are given to you based on your final score.
With each of the stars that you collect, you’re given 5 coins which you can spend in the shop. You can also earn coins by destroying more than one enemy at a time, and you are also given coins by the game when it wants you to buy something in the shop, or a power-up to use in a certain situation. There are consumables which can help you quite a bit if you’re stuck, like a “Gravity Visualizator” which shows you the path your missile will take based on the planet’s gravitational pull, shields for planets, extra missiles, and “Precise Sight”, which will show you exactly where your missile will land. These consumables are priced fairly reasonably, and you can also gain them in-game with random item drops when destroying enemies.
There are also permanent items which you can purchase; different ships, which are only cosmetic, and different assistants, all of which have a special perk like a 20% more chance to drop items, 20% larger explosions, 30% extra health for your planets, and more. As you guessed, you can also buy coins with real money through IAPs, but these are not needed to complete the game, and are there for a quick speedup through the game, to make the game easier, or better yet, to support the developers.
What makes the game stand out is the missiles that you’re given. You start off with regular missiles, and from there, move up to missiles that have larger explosions, split into smaller missiles, lasers that cut through enemies, missiles that bounce off of objects and enemies, and even missiles that implode, sucking everything around it towards the explosion. To add to the difficulty, some planets have a moon, or moons, which rotate around the planets at a decent speed, as well as having some enemies which move instead of staying stationary. As well as having planets that can be destroyed, each of the planets has different gravitational pulls effecting how your missiles will arc around them, and there’s even black holes in some levels, sucking missiles away into oblivion.
Right now, Gravity Fleet is definitely worth the $0.99 price tag if you’re a fan of physics puzzlers. Being Universal helps quite a bit too. However, there is no GameCenter or OpenFeint support at the moment, but the developers are planning on adding GameCenter support along with new ships, new assistants, achievements, and of course, new levels. Coffee Powered Machine has definitely done a great job with their first iOS release, and will definitely be put on my list of developers to keep an eye on in the future.

Flick Rocket (Binary Square)

Binary Square
Retro arcade games have always remained fairly popular with old-school gamers throughout the years. But since the AppStore launched, it seems like they’re making a pretty big come-back. Most likely it’s because of the cheap prices iOS games have, but it’s also because there’s a lot of 20 and 30 year olds who are getting back into gaming because they can now fit in time to play games by having a phone/portable device that’s able to always be with them. Binary Square is definitely a development group that’s taking advantage of this, and giving iOS gamers high quality old-school-like arcade games. Flick Rocket fits right into that category.
The goal in Flick Rocket is to protect your city from the onslaught of aliens by flicking your rockets up at their ships and projectiles. Once they blow up all of the buildings in the city you’re defending, it’s game over. Sounds simple enough, eh? And it is, really just that simple, and it’s in this simplicity that the game shines. It‘s addictive old-school arcade gameplay that’s easy to understand, and takes a while to really master. Knowing where and when exactly to send your rockets will take practice, but once you finally get it, it just clicks, and feels great.
There’s also some great power-ups which really help out once you get to know what does what. There’s a shield which protects your buildings, a time-stopper, which freezes everything on the screen, extra buildings, and rockets that bounce off the edges of the screen. Along with this, some enemy ships also drop letters. If you collect them all, spelling out EXTRA, you’ll be able to play through a bonus stage.
Now, all of this is great, and fits right in with the old-school type of arcade gameplay. But the simplicity could also turn some people off. You do swipe, and a lot, over and over again, and with gamers being flooded with fully immersive deepthy games, there are some people who are sure to get bored with it fairly quickly.
There’s two modes in Flick Rocket, Arcade and Campaign. Right now, there’s only 3 different cities that you can try and defend, with 7 more ‘in development’. In Campaign Mode, you’re able to pick which city you’d like to defend, and play through wave after wave until all 10 buildings are destroyed. Each city has it’s own type of enemy. With Tokyo, you’re put up against Space Invaders type enemies, with line after line needing to be destroyed. Paris has you go up against a centipede type enemy, which breaks in half, and turns into more enemies every time you hit it with a rocket, and LA has you destroying asteroids before they hit your buildings, with each asteroid breaking into smaller asteroids. In Arcade Mode you’ll go from town to town, destroying all the enemies you can, and keeping as many buildings protected as you can, until all your buildings are gone, feeling pretty much like a survival mode.
It’s supported by GameCenter, having leaderboards for all 3 Campaign cities, and another for Arcade Mode, but there are no achievements. If you’re looking for something with lots of depth, or are sick of games that have a bunch of ‘coming soon’ levels, or just plain don’t like old-school arcade gameplay, you’d be better off skipping this one. But with Flick Rockets being Universal, priced at $0.99, having a pretty nice scoring system with great power-ups, offering a lot of challenge, and replay value with GC leaderboards, it’s a fantastic retro title that’ll give you the same feelings you use to have while going down to the arcade or bowling ally back in the 80’s or early 90’s, wasting time away quarter after quarter.

Pawn’d – 0.99 (Headlight Software, Inc.)

There’s no shortage of Match-3 games for the iDevice. Thankfully, there’s still developers that are creative enough to throw together a Match-3 title with elements that haven’t been done to death. Headlight Software happens to be one of those development teams, showing gamers that there’s still hope for new Match-3 games. Their release, Pawn’d, mixes elements from Chess with Match-3 gameplay, and it provides quite a bit of challenge and strategy.
Gameplay: 5/5
Pawn’d looks like your typical Match-3 game. At first, it looks like it might just be a Match-3 with a chess skin, but once you actually start playing, you notice right away that that’s not the case. You’re able to move the tiles like they move in chess. Your queen pieces can move in any direction, your rook can move left, right, up and down, bishop moves diagonally, and so on. With these movement restrictions, you’re job is to come up with matches of 3 or more of the same pieces.
Pawn’d has 4 different modes, each offering up a pretty significant difference in gameplay. Practice’d Mode has no time limit, and the goal is to come up with 15 matches for each of the pieces. 15 pawn matches, 15 knight matches, etc. You’re scored based on how many moves it took you to get all the matches, and how big your matches were.
Clock’d Mode gives you 30 seconds to make as many matches as you can, scoring you based on how big your matches are, and how many moves you can pull off in the time limit. Poison’d Mode gives you specific pieces which you need to match in a certain amount of moves. For instance, you always start off with a queen tile needing to be matched. In the corner of the tile, there’s a number, this is the number of moves you have to make a match with that piece, or else the game is over. After you match the piece, another piece will need to be matched in a certain amount of moves, with the amount of moves slowly dropping, based on how many moves it took you to match your last piece, until a piece’s counter drops down to zero. There is no time limit with Poison’d Mode, so you’re able to really think everything through.
The last mode is Pawn’d Mode. This mode is a bit more complicated, and requires quite a bit of strategy and thought to score big. You’re given 8 pawns, and once you run out of them, it’s game over. Now, you’re not able to use these pawns, they’re kept track of up in the top right corner. But you’ll loose a pawn if you make a match and it’s only a 3 tile match. The only way you will keep a pawn, is if you make a move, and it’s either a 4 or more tiled match, it causes a cascade of matches, or your move results in two 3 tile matches (like switching a rook and a knight, and having both pieces complete a 3 tile match).
Something that adds even more to the strategy of the game, is that you MUST create a match with the piece that you’re moving. You can’t move a piece, and have the piece that was swapped out of place result in a match, it won’t count. Another mechanic that adds to the strategy is that the pawns switch directions with each turn, meaning that when you begin a game, you can only move pawns up, and with your second turn, you can only move them down.
Graphics: 3/5
Now, most gamers know that graphics are not what makes a game great, though there are certain games that benefit from the additional work put into the environment, atmospheres, and all the graphical design, great graphics are not required to make a great game. Pawn’d’s graphics aren’t really anything to write home about, but they work. The animations are smooth, and the explosions for getting a 5 tile match look great. Games like Call of Atlantis, Xenocube, 7 Wonders, and others, have shown that very polished and expressive graphic design fits in very well with Match-3 games, but Pawn’d shows that super detailed pieces, backgrounds, and environments are in no way needed to make a great Match-3 game.
Replayability: 5/5
As with other Match-3 games, the replay value of Pawn’d is pretty high, and even more-so once you factor in the GameCenter support with 19 achievements and 8 leaderboards. The drive to better your score, and build on or shrink the amount of moves is definitely there, and will keep you coming back to the game again and again.
Overall: 4/5
In a genre that’s been done to death in the AppStore, Pawn’d shows that there’s still room for creativity and expansion. However, how much you like the game will be pretty much directly influenced by how much you enjoy chess, and understand the game. The amount of strategy needed to score big, and compete on the leaderboards might wind up being a big turn-off for a lot of people, especially casual gamers. But if you’re looking for something new in the Match-3 genre, and are a fan of chess, Pawn’d is definitely a game that you need to check out. The assortment of Modes is great, so are the leaderboards, and general drive to better your scores and moves. Pawn’d is Universal, and Headlight Software is very supportive and active in the Touch Arcade Thread. It’s regularly priced at $0.99, but you can pick it up now for the low-low price of FREE. It’s definitely a game you should check out if you’re even slightly interested in seeing how a chess/Match-3 match-up would work out if developed properly.
**Right now, Pawn’d is on sale, and you can download it for FREE**

SZC: Beyond Dead – 0.99 (Monster Robot Studios)

Beyond Dead
Metroidvania titles are essentially few and far between when compared to the sheer amount of games within every other genre. So every time a Metroidvania title pops up, I can’t help but get excited. When I first saw the screens for Monster Robot Studios (GravCat, Bridge The Gap, Occupy App) new game, Beyond Dead, my jaw just about hit the floor. The game looks like a great homage to old-school Metroid games, and for those of you who don’t know yet, Metroid II is my favorite game… OF ALL TIME. One little drawback though; GameSalad.
Gameplay; 3/5
Reminiscent of Metroid titles, something has gone wrong with terraforming project 1470. Two mercenaries, Tank and Vera, respond, and are after the truth. They make their way to the Asteriae system and need to explore the asteroid facility to find out what exactly went wrong. As you progress through the game, you’ll pick up stronger weapons, extra abilities, and battle zombie-like humans, along with monstrous beings, and slowly discover what’s happening within the facility. The story is well told, with no grammatical errors, and unfolds at a steady pace.
The action, however, is a bit on the slow side. You can shoot at and jump on your enemies, though both attack methods are fairly slow when it comes to killing. To avoid taking too much damage, you’ll be doing quite a bit of the run away, stop, take a couple shots, run away, stop, take a couple shots, ect… and that’s until you come across some stairs, which you’ll fall through if you’re going after a zombie because you’ll need to aim your weapon the correct way to use the stairs. While exploring, jumping can feel more like a hassle than anything, with a lot of platforms seemingly just out of reach until you try and make it to them more than a couple times.
There’s also the loading times. Typical GameSalad loading times, though moving from room to room is done in a flash, hitting the Pause button, or going to your Map will take about 4-5 seconds to load, and 4-5 seconds to exit, breaking up the gameplay quite a bit. The loading times between sections of the world aren’t so bad, as you’re given a pretty nifty picture to look at while the game is loading, but entering the Map and Pause menus can be a hassle. This is even more upsetting because of the exploration in the game. Don’t get me wrong, the exploration in Beyond Dead is fantastic. Completely reminiscent of old Metroid titles, which is great. Actually, it’s probably the strongest feature of the game. But breaking up the strongest feature of the game with loading times for the Map is… upsetting. I found myself constantly wishing that Monster Robot Studios used a different game engine.
Controls: 4/5
Control-wise, you’re given two options;
Touch and drag anywhere on the left side of the screen to walk. Drag your finger up or down to adjust your aim. Double tap to dash. Tap anywhere on the right side of the screen to fire your weapon. To jump, swipe your finger up on the right side of the screen, and when you get weapons, you can slide your finger down to put the safety on or take it off. If you put the safety on, touching anywhere on the right side of the screen is your action button.
You’re given 4 arrows on the left side, two for left and right movement, and two in-between the movement buttons for aiming your weapon up and down. On the right side of the screen, there’s a jump button and a fire button, as well as dash and safety on/off buttons.
You’re able to change the controls in the pause menu, and are also able to make it so that you’re given the d-pad on the left side, while having the no-button set-up on the right, or having the buttons on the right, and the no-button set-up on the left. The only issues I have with the controls is that you don’t jump until you let go of the jump button, instead of jumping right when you touch the jump button, and sometimes the movement buttons are slightly un-responsive, causing your character to stop moving while walking, or in the air. Aside from this, the controls work pretty well, and being able to mix and match control set-ups to fit your gaming style was a great idea, implemented fairly well.
Graphics: 4/5
The graphics for Beyond Dead are really not bad, and at some points, when there are objects dangling from the ceiling close to the camera, like in the trash compactor area, look very nice. The animations for firing your weapon, jumping, enemy deaths, projectile collisions, explosions, they’re all there, and they’re not bad, but again, I can’t help but think that if this much effort was put into the game while using another engine, like Unity or Corona, that the game would look amazing.
Content: 3/5
Right now, Beyond Dead only contains the first ‘episode’. More episodes are in the works at the moment, and talking to the developer, I can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t be added, but ever since the ordeal with Grokion, it’s hard to really push any game that has more worlds coming, or future episodes being made. But with Episode 1, there’s about 45 minutes of straight line gameplay, and then about an hour (maybe a little more) of exploration if you’re interested in looking for extra weapons, an energy tank, and just getting to know the whole game’s world.
As it is right now, there’s not a whole lot of replay value, if any, but hopefully GameCenter will be added in the future, and include achievements, and maybe a leader board for number of zombies killed, quickest times for completing the episodes, things like this, as they would give gamers incentive to run-through the game again after completion.
Overall: 3.5/5
You can tell that Beyond Dead has had a lot of work thrown into it. The graphics are great, especially considering they’re done within GameSalad, and the exploration throughout the first episode is done in a way that drives the game forward. Like I’ve said already, I can’t help but wish the game was made with another gaming engine, because Monster Robot Studios obviously has the talent it needs to create a very nice Metroid-like exploration action-platformer. For a dollar, and future episodes promised, at no extra price to those who pick the game up now, it’s worth buying, especially if you’re a fan of the Metroidvania genre. Just don’t expect a super polished, epic exploration game.

Zombie Bunnies – 0.99 (Lavafish Studios/Coding Design)

Squirmee and the Puzzling Tree was one of my favorite puzzle games from last year. Lavafish Studios did a fantastic job with the mechanics, graphics, gameplay, and bringing a totally new and original title to the iOS. Not only did they bring a fantastic game to the iDevice, but also sent out update after update making the game better each and every time, and doing this while sales suffered. Well now Lavafish has just released their second iOS title, Zombie Bunnies, and as was with Squirmee, this one is completely original, and extremely polished, with loads of fun gameplay.
Gameplay: 5/5
In Zombie Bunnies you’re given a list of 5 objectives which you must complete all of in order to move on to the next set. These objectives are typical of games set up in this fashion, with Destroy 20 Vehicles, Collect 100 Bunnies, Reach Threat Level 5, Unlock Franky Bunny, and so on. You’ll need to blast away, hitting people, cars, buildings, birds, trees, and more, all of which add to your threat bar. Once you fill up this bar, you’ll progress to the next threat level. As you’re doing this, your health will be slowly depleting, and you’ll need to collect the energy , as well as ammo (bunny) pickups that are given and scattered randomly throughout the game. As you keep progressing, you’ll be able to unlock more bunnies, which also gives you more gun types. The second bunny you’ll get will give you a weapon that shoots zombie rabbits that comp off people’s heads. The third bunny drops bombs, and the last bunny shoots big meteors that can take out buildings and vehicles very easily. You’ll learn fairly quickly that in the later levels, switching between these types of guns will be necessary to climb up the leaderboards, complete achievements, and get through all 99 of the Threat Levels. Also, as you reach Threat Levels (every 5), you are able to start from that point in future games, which means you can be thrown right into the action, jumping ahead of all the boring easy levels as your skill increases.
Controls: 5/5
The controls work very well within the game, with the left half of the screen for movement, and buttons on the right side for switching your gun, and firing the projectiles. For movement, all you need to do is either drag your finger slightly, and then keep holding down, or roll your finger around. It might sound like it wouldn’t work well, but here, it works great. Actually, after playing for about 10 minutes, I couldn’t imagine there being a virtual joystick for movement, as it would cover lots of the action on the bottom left side.
Graphics: 4/5
The environment which you’ll be playing in does not change much. There’s trees, loads of buildings, and even more people. But the graphic style of the game is great, and the animations are fantastic, especially for when people’s heads are eaten, and they fall to the ground. The character models for the bunnies you’re able to control are all great, and as you move on in the game, more and more enemies are added to the mayhem, each having very distinct outfits and looks, making them easy to tell apart.
Overall: 9.5/10
Lavafish Studios has done a fantastic job making a casual arcade game that gets progressively harder, building up to a difficulty that will keep even the most hardcore action fans challenged. With GameCenter leaderboards for highest score, total number of people killed, and furthest distance, along with 32 achievements, and only being $0.99, it’s a great buy that will offer up hours of entertainment, and depending on whether or not you’re a high-score chaser, Zombie Bunnies might just end up staying on your device for months.

CrimsonHeart – 0.99 [Launch Sale Price] (ANB Soft)

Action RPGs have flooded the AppStore over the last couple of years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In my case, it’s driven me back towards Turn-Based RPGs, which I use to love as a young teen, but kind of feel out of until earlier this year. Anyway, with the insane amount of Action RPGs available to iOS gamers, it’s hard to think that any of them can really bring anything new to the table, or generally impress gamers to the point where they’re given hope for the genre again. Enter ANBSoft. Their title, CrimsonHeart, might just wind up being the game that changes your perspective.

CrimsonHeart puts you in a world where Humans and Demons have fought for control of the world, with Demons trying to control the Humans with force, and the Humans trying to fight them off with intelligence. Dragons act as judges, having both intelligence and strength beyond that of both races, they limit themselves from getting involved. Dragons are immortal, but fall into deep sleep every 200 years, which is when the fighting between Humans and Demons is in total chaos. You’ll play as Pochi, a young warrior who has all of this going on around him, and Ann, a young mage, who has no memory of who she is, or what is going on in the world around them.
The game starts you off in a Prologue , which is the game’s beginning tutorial. Here, you’ll control Sire Ka’arin, a level 90 character who will not die during the gameplay in the Prologue. You’ll be able to control your character with a joystick in the bottom left corner, and attack with a button in the bottom right, along with having 4 spells and spell attacks around the basic attack button, all of which use SP, which is displayed in the top left along with the character icon and HP gauge. In the bottom center of the screen is where you can find the healing and SP potions. One thing you’ll notice right off the bat is that your character has 360 degree movement. It feels very natural at first, but if you play CrimsonHeart for a while, and then go back to almost any other Action RPG, the movement will probably end up feeling clunky and un-natural. It’s a very big plus for CrimsonHeart’s gameplay.
Now, CrimsonHeart does have your typical main quest, then talk to people throughout the villages, and complete quests for them to get little items, or some extra experience, and that’s fine. But what also really helps out with leveling up and becoming stronger, are the additions of the Arena, Forging Equipment, and the Card system. With the Arena, you’re able to pay to battle it out against a certain amount of enemies. Once you beat all of the enemies, you’re sent back to the village where you entered the arena from. As you level up, and progress through the game, more arenas are opened up and made available for you. What’s nice about this, is that if you’re having problems with a certain part in the game, instead of going out and grinding in the fields, you can just pop into an arena a couple of times. The experience gained is carried over back out of the arena, as well as all of the equipment you might get from the battles. As for Forging Equipment, you can visit a blacksmith, and give him items to forge, which has the potential to make them stronger. There is also a potential that they will become weaker, but it’s a great thing to try out if you’ve got a bunch of extra items that you’ve picked up from going on quests. You never really know what you might end up with. The blacksmith is also able to craft items. If you have enough materials, he will be able to make some very strong items for you to use. The Card System is one of the more interesting mechanics of the game. If you’re familiar with Infinity Blade II’s Gem System, the Card System shouldn’t be too hard to grasp. Every town has a Card Master. This Card Master can combine cards, which can result in rare cards, and yes, getting a RARE anything in an RPG is always great, and the Card Master can also attach the cards to items that are not equipped, making them stronger.
The graphics and animations are also a huge selling point for the game. The graphics are some of the best I’ve seen within the genre, with loads of detail, and an insane amount of color. As you attack enemies, how much damage you’ve done shows up above their heads, a-la Borderlands, which I always thought was a very cool graphic addition for games. If the enemies hit you, the same thing happens, but the numbers are in red instead of a pale yellow. The environments are very well done, with great path layouts, and wonderful objects scattered around the worlds. The trees, water, grass, bushes, rocks, flowers, everything that’s in the game adds to the overall atmosphere somehow, which does help immensely when becoming immersed within the game. The world that ANBSoft has created is beautiful, and the creatures within it are all designed perfectly. On top of this, the animations for moving, walking, running, dashing, attacking, everything is so fantastically well done that after playing CrimsonHeart, pretty much all other Action RPGs are dull and boring by comparison.
With all of these great selling points, it’s easy to see why the regular price for CrimsonHeart is $4.99. But right now, it’s on sale for $0.99! Did I also mention that the game is UNIVERSAL? So if you’re a fan of the genre, or use to be a fan of the genre, and have been disappointed over the last year by the onslaught of Action RPGs released in the AppStore, CrimsonHeart is definitely a game that you NEED to check out. ANBSoft has become a development team that I will be keeping a very close eye on in the future. If their next games are even half as entertaining as CrimsonHeart, they’ll be worth buying. Also, a huge THANK YOU to the developers, for re-igniting my love of Action RPGs. I really can’t thank you guys enough. I hope those of you who end up checking this out will feel the same.

Ice Wings: Skies of Steel (MF3D)

There is no shortage of endless games on the App Store, and there is only one reason for this. THEY ARE FUN.  These days there are so many games appearing on the App Store that it is easy for hidden gems to drift by without a sound.  A new gem that should not be passed up is Ice Wings: Skies of Steel by MassiveFun3D. This newest addition to the App Store brings great visuals, an epic soundtrack, and frantic flying action together in an awesome endless arcade shooter.
The visual appeal of Ice Wings is definitely what caught my eye first. Cool and clean is one way to describe it. The color-scheme and building style really creates the feeling of being in a war-torn environment. Now, this is not to say that the graphics are perfect though.  The textures are a bit rough at the edges, and when you get up to speed some of the enemies look almost 2D. To go along with the visuals, the soundtrack of the game is nothing short of epic. You know the sort of music that you hear in the Call of Duty series that always puts you in the mood for shooting stuff? The best way to describe the music in the game is a mix between CoD and Top-Gun style. This really goes to create an awesome experience while you are playing, and for that I think the composer (Dave Dexter) deserves a big applause.
Moving on to the controls, Ice Wings utilizes a simplistic control scheme. A fixed shoot button (you can place this on the right or left side), finger dragging to move the plane left or right, and an upward swipe to dodge vertically.  My first few minutes playing the game were very frustrating as it took maybe 7 or 8 tries just to get past the first obstacle! Over at the TouchArcade forums, others have had the same trouble, but this is just a matter of getting used to the timing. Your plane is constantly speeding up, so in the beginning you have to wait until you are right up against the obstacle before dodging, whereas later on you have to dodge much earlier. In terms of obstacles, there is a variety ranging from train overpasses, to helicopters and cranes, and some more crazy ones like giant spinning blades and gates that slam shut with a tiny hole to pass through.  When you get going really fast, it becomes really difficult to see the obstacles coming, so you pretty much have to depend on luck. But hey, that’s the name of endless games isn’t it.

There are incentives to keep flying and crashing as well.  When you shoot down enemies you gain stars. These stars act as in-game credits to unlock new planes. Currently there are 4 planes total. The planes each have different stats in areas like acceleration, weight, and damage. This is what will keep you playing the game, and the developers will be bringing more planes in the future.
Speaking of future updates, the first update to the game is currently in the works. This will bring updated controls and hopefully some more customization. Some features that we hope to see in later updates are more obstacles (ie. some that you need to fly underneath), more maps, of course more planes.
This game is everything you could ask for from an endless game. It is nearly non-stop action, it has great visual appeal, it has an epic soundtrack, and it is from an indie developer. All of these are perfect reasons for you to get this game. It is highly recommended from me, and let’s hope that we will see updates galore in the future. Check out the launch trailer after the score:

Sleepy Jack – 0.99 [Launch Sale Price] (Silvertree Media)

Silvertree Media’s first iOS release, Cordy, made quite an impression on gamers with it’s fantastic graphics, animations, music and gameplay. However, those who loved Cordy might end up wondering why Silvertree decided to take their second release, Sleepy Jack, in a more casual direction with the gameplay. Sleepy Jack feels more like a Disney’d-up Tunnel Shoot than anything else, having your character go through stages collecting orbs, shooting enemies and objects trying to block your path, and trying to beat level times. Not to say that Sleepy Jack isn’t worth playing, or that if you’ve got plenty of tunnel shooters, that you’re not missing anything if you skip on it, because it does offer up some very top notch gameplay, but those of you who were hoping for something a little more creative based on your experience with Cordy will most likely be disappointed at first.

Sleepy Jack puts you inside the dreams of Jack, the kid who owns the toy, Cordy. Each night, you’ll control Jack as he flies through 40 levels, split up across 4 different worlds. Each level has a 3 star ranking system, with one star for completion, one for collecting a certain amount of the level’s orbs, and another for beating the level’s par time. There are 3 different control schemes, one having virtual buttons for movement, using a double tap to make Jack do a barrel roll, one where you can hold on the left or right side of the screen for which direction you want Jack to move, and then swiping in the gameplay area to get him to perform a barrel roll, and tilt controls, which also give you two buttons, one on each side for the direction you would like Jack to do a barrel roll in. While you’re going through the stages, you’ll sometimes be able to fire projectiles. This is done automatically when your fingers are on the screen with the two touch screen controls. For the tilt controls, you’ll need to tap on the screen when you want to shoot. All three control options fit the game very well. In fact, I’m having a hard time finding out which control scheme I prefer, they are all put together that well.
As for the graphics and animations, well, they have that same Cordy look and feel to them, which is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. Silvertree has done an outstanding job with the graphics in Sleepy Jack, giving the whole game a real dreamy look. Each of the 4 different worlds looks very different. In the first world, it looks more like you’re flying through the sky, and space, with clouds, asteroids, and stars all around you, while in the second world, it looks like you’re flying through a huge hole in the ground with dirt everywhere, along with shrubs, bushes, cactus, and huge rocks, and some levels have you flying high above the desert, looking down on everything. There is a lot of detail in the graphics, especially considering it’s a tunnel shooter game, and you’re flying by everything fairly quickly, Silvertree has done an amazing job making everything very polished. In fact, Sleepy Jack is one of the more beautiful games I’ve had the pleasure of playing on my iDevice. In the game’s iTunes description, it says that the graphics are ‘console quality’, though I’m sure most gamers with an XBOX 360 or PS3 would disagree, it would fit very well with other Wii games.
It would be great to see some additional modes added in the future, as tunnel racers are generally known for having more than one mode. Maybe a zen mode, where you didn’t have to worry about any obsticles or enemies, and could just zone out to the amazingly beautiful graphics, or a full on chaos mode where some of the harder enemy battles were thrown at you in waves, and you survived as long as you could with one life. There’s loads of possibilities when it comes to secondary modes in a tunnel racer game. It would also be great to see some unlockable characters, maybe be able to play with Cordy, and other toys that Jack owns. Even though there is a high replay value with the game already, it would just be nice to have some more variety with the gameplay.
Right now, Sleepy Jack is priced at it’s launch sale price, $0.99, which, even during December, is a fantastic price for this high-quality game. Yes, it is a tunnel racer, yes tunnel racers are not known for their deep gameplay, but once you look past the genre it’s in, and actually start playing it, and progressing through the game, you really start to see how much depth there really is. On top of the 3 star rankings for each level, which provide tons of replay value, there are 3 different difficulties (which also makes the game more accessible to younger gamers, as well as hardcore players), and Game Center + OpenFeint integration. Within GameCenter, there are leaderboards for the first 30 levels, as well as an Overall Score board, and OpenFeint has a board for every level, as well as an Overall Score leaderboard, along with both having 44 achievements. Silvertree Media can add their second title, Sleepy Jack, to that list of top notch, high quality, amazingly beautiful games that they started on with Cordy. I can’t wait to see what they’ll bring us in the future.