Monthly Archive: June 2012

Bug Princess 2 Black Label [Cave] – $13.99

I’ve been a fan of Cave games for about 4 years now, after playing ESPGaluda and ESPGaluda II on a friends PC, and DonPachi on his PSX. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for any Cave titles I could find. Once they started hitting the AppStore, I knew I would be hooked for life. Now, after 6 iOS releases, 2 HD re-releases, and a whole hell of a lot a bullets, we finally have a BLACK LABEL version on the iOS. Bug Princess 2 (Mushihimesama Futari) Black Label. And I can finally find out what all the fuss is about regarding these Black Label versions of Cave games. 
First off, the price. It’s not normally something I worry about too much, the AppStore is filled with dollar bin gems and ports of titles slashed down to less than a quarter of their original or other platform prices. Yes, a dollar here and there adds up, but when you can get between 20 and 60 games for the price of 1 XBOX or PS3 game, it’s very hard to complain. But is getting a different version of a game that’s already released on the iOS for double the price (or for the price of BOTH Mushihimesama AND Mushimesama Futari) of the original really worth it? When it comes to Cave, most fans will say ‘yes’, and in a heartbeat. Especially when the words BLACK LABEL are attached to the title.

Bug Princess 2 Black Label is basically like the original (vanilla) version. You’ve got 3 different gameplay modes, Original, Maniac, and the coveted God Mode. Then there’s the huge list of tweaks that are included in the Black Label version; Background colors have been changed, gems are darker, every mode contains more bullets and they’re faster, God Mode has been added while Ultra Mode has been removed, harsher penalties for bombing including a reduction of 6000 on the gem counter and a zero end game bonus if you finish the game with no bombs and Extends (Extra Lives) are different; 100 and 200 Million for Original Mode, 150 and 250 Million for Maniac Mode and 350 and 700 Million in God Mode.
The biggest changes are that every stage has numerous changes with the enemy and bullet placement and patterns, bullet patterns for the bosses have changed, are faster, and boss fights are harder, shot types are no longer available, instead you have a mix of Normal and Abnormal and a new TLB “Spiritual Larsa” has been added in God Mode if you no-miss (including the Stage 5 Boss Battle). 
TLDR: It’s been completely re-done, and feels like a new Cave game. 

The main reason Cave fans will probably wind up buying BP2BL is for God Mode. But once you actually get into the game, and see how much has changed, the new Original Mode, new bullet patterns, and new enemy layouts, chances are, you’ll get hooked all over again. The new Original Mode really stands out, as the difficulty at first glance doesn’t seem too impressive, especially when compared to God Mode, but after you get the hang of the scoring system, Original Mode becomes just as entertaining as God Mode. Needing to stay up in the top 1/3 of the screen for most of the game makes the difficulty shoot up, as does figuring out when and where enemies are going to pop out, and which ones give off large quantities of gems, which is how you shoot your score way up. All 3 of the modes have been equaled out, each having their own fantastic mechanics, not one of them being out-shined by the other, and each one offering up endless hours of replayabilty. 
Control-wise, BP2BL is like any other Cave title. Relative touch controls with a 1:1 ratio. They’re some of the tightest controls you can have in a shmup, which is very important when it comes to bullet hell titles. Considering there’s literally thousands of bullets flying at you, being able to weave and dodge through them all is what it’s all about, and the developers over at Cave Mobile have done an outstanding job making sure that it’s as smooth and fluid as it can be. 
With BP2BL being Universal, the graphics are a bit better than DeathSmiles and DoDonPachi Blissful Death, but not quite as impressive as the HD versions of ESPGaluda II or DDPR, which is kind of disappointing. Especially with BP2BL having an XBOX 360 version (Mushihimesama Futari Black Label), I was hoping that the graphics would be a little more clearer, but the menus, and dead zone around the gameplay area look super crisp and sharp. 

Bug Princess 2 Black Label is basically a Cave title that will only appeal to hardcore Cave fans. With so many gamers complaining about the price tags of their previous releases, I doubt many of them would be interested in grabbing a $14 suped-up version of a game that they’ve already bought. But for extreme fans of the Bullet Hell genre, knowing that Mushihimesama Futari Black Label is one of the best, if not the best, Bullet Hell title you can expect to experience, and with copies of the game on the XBOX selling between $40 and $120, the price-tag isn’t really a deterrent. There are IAPs, but they’re set up like they are in DoDonPachi Blissful Death, all basically for cheating, and making the game easier (less fun). There is a Boss Mode, which takes you through the bosses of either BP1 or BP2, but you’re given 1 free play a day, so it’s not a required extra purcahse if you want to check it out, only if you want to play it more than once a day, which you might after you’ve gotten your fill of the main game. But by then, another $6.99 for the mode, and endless hours of entertainment will probably seem like a decent deal. 
Here’s hoping BP2BL sells well, and that it pushes Cave to port over more of their Black Label titles; ESPGaluda II Black Label, DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu + Daioujou (Blissful Death) Black Label… I’d jump through hoops (actually, go to more severe extremes which I probably shouldn’t say) to have them all available in the AppStore. 

Dynamite Jack [Hassey Enterprises] – $2.99

The first stealth game I played on my first iOS device was Silent Swords. Since then, the stealth genre hasn’t really gained much ground in the AppStore. It’s not something fans of the genre aren’t use to, good stealth-based games don’t come along too often, and on the iDevice, we’ve only got a couple available to us. But  thanks to Hassey Enterprises, developers of the iOS version of Galcon, we can add one more title to the list of so few; Dynamite Jack, a new iPad only stealth game where you control Jack, a captured space marine who was forced to work in the mines can only use bombs and a flashlight to escape. 
Don’t get me wrong, there are many more items that Jack can use during his escape, but your two main resources are your flashlight, and an endless supply of bombs which you can use to break through walls, and destroy enemies. You’ll also need to find and collect keycards, data chips, crystals, and more while figuring out how to move through each section of the mines without being spotted. 
There are two control setups in Dynamite Jack, a virtual joystick which can be fixed or float, and a line drawing option. If you’re more comfortable with the Spy Mouse or The Nightworld setup, you might want to use the line drawing controls, but for those of you who prefer it, the virtual joystick is a great option, even though it can be kind of finicky with movement, especially if you choose the floating joystick option. This can sometimes get frustrating when trying to quickly hide from guards or quickly place a bomb. With both control schemes, you’re also given icons for turning your flashlight on/off and placing + exploding your bombs. 
You’ll have to be careful as to when you have your flashlight on, as it can draw the attention of the mine supervisors, and their only job? Shoot on sight. Not only do you need to be very cautious with your flashlight, but also your bomb placement. Since bombs also draw the attention of the supervisors/enemies, and you’re only able to place one bomb at a time, not being able to place another one until you set off the one you’ve already set, placing a bomb in the wrong spot can get you killed. You’ll need to figure out where exactly to place a bomb so that you can be far enough away, but also not be in the line of sight of the guards as they come over to inspect the loud boom they just heard, and maybe be able to place a bomb between them and their designated lookout area so that you can kill them on their way back to patrol. 
What really stands out, aside from the fact that this is quite possibly the best stealth based game I’ve played on the iOS yet, is the fantastic level design. Needing to explore, and being forced to use your flashlight, even in the most inconvenient of times in order to figure out where to go, or how to reach a certain item is fantastic, and adds a ton of challenge and difficulty to the game. 
With 28 levels, the game may seem short, but there’s plenty to do even after you’ve completed the game. Each stage has 3 objectives which are optional, but which add to the replay value, or, if you’re determined to snag them all the first time through, add a crazy challenge to the game. These objectives include beating levels in a certain amount of time, getting through levels without using your flashlight, collecting all of the crystals, leaving all of the guards unharmed, collecting all of the data cartridges, beating a level without dying, detonating a certain amount of bombs, and loads more. 
Also adding to the replay value is GameCenter integration which includes 13 hard to unlock achievements. There’s also leader boards for speed run times on every level within the game. Here, you can go against your GameCenter friends times, as well as compete with players around the world. If that isn’t enough, there’s also a level editor, which lets you create levels, and community area, where you can share your levels as well as download maps from other players. 
With Dynamite Jack priced at $2.99, and definitely standing out as one of the best stealth games available for the iOS, it’s a must buy for fans of the genre. I’d consider it the best if the controls were tightened up a bit. But even if you’re not into stealth games, Dynamite Jack provides a great challenge for casual and hardcore gamers alike, and is definitely recommended.

Dragon Evolution Giveaway!

Nob Studio, the developers of Dragon Evolution, have been kind enough to give us 5 promo codes to giveaway here on The App Shack. If you don’t have the game yet, it’s a great score-chasing arcade title, where you choose different evolutions for a dragon to go through over the course of 9 years. You can check out more in our review of the game if you like, and if you miss out on a code, you can purchase Dragon Evolution in the AppStore for $1.99.


Good luck!

Brandnew Boy [Oozoo Inc] – $3.99

Action RPGs have quite a fan following in the AppStore. I’ll admit that since Hybrid and Zenonia, I’ve been hooked on them. But there comes a time when the same thing over and over again becomes dull, and with the crazy amount of Action RPGs available for the iOS, it’s no surprise that seemingly everything that can be done with them has been done, and, aside from an interesting story, the genre is in kind of a slump for the time being. Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel. South Korea’s own Oozoo Inc., a new studio on the iOS gaming scene, has given gamers a very interesting new Action RPG title, Brandnew Boy, developed with one of the best engines available, Unreal. 
Brandnew Boy is the story of Rookie, a young boy who’s lost his memory, but happens to have a little TV robot to help him out. As you’ll quickly find out, to figure out who you are, where you are, and what has happened in your past, you’ll need to fight. Various enemies are attacking you for no reason, but you appear to have what it takes to survive, and find yourself.
Brandnew Boy is a 3D game with 3rd person view, something that’s rarely done with iOS RPG titles. What makes Brandnew Boy really stand out is the combat system. To attack an enemy, you just need to tap on them, and then tap in time with the attack animations. There’s also a gauge at the bottom of the screen which lets you know when the optimum time to tap is. This isn’t required, but tapping right when you hit an enemy results in a lot more damage. Once the enemies are about to attack you, an exclamation point appears above their head. To avoid their attack, you can swipe on the screen in any direction, and Rookie will dive out of the way. The movement controls are simple as well, tap to move, and swipe on the screen to change the direction of Rookie. To stop moving, simply tap on the screen again. These controls allow for a clean UI, and work great.
There are two game modes to choose from, Scenario Mode, which is the basic campaign/story mode, and Infinity Mode, which lets you battle it out with various enemies, trying to get the best score you can before you die. As you can imagine, the graphics are top notch. Oozoo Inc has done a fantastic job creating a wonderful world with vibrant colors, loads of detail, amazing animations, and great character designs. The music and effects also help to create an incredibly immersive gameplay experience. 
As you level up, and your stats increase, you’re also able to unlock and purchase more items from the shop. Here, you can buy various gloves, shirts, accessories, skills, rings, potions, and more. There are IAPs available, but you can earn quite a few coins just by going through the stages, and playing in the Infinity Mode. You’re also able to replay levels, which is great, because if you get stuck on a stage that’s too difficult, you’re able to go back and earn more coins, and maybe level up some more, increasing your stats. 
Brandnew Boy is above and beyond, one of the best Action RPG/3D Action-Combat titles available for the iOS. The great graphics, and superb gameplay offer up a fantastic gaming experience. For $3.99, it’s a great buy for anyone remotely interested in Action RPGs, and a must buy for fans of the genre who have gotten tired of the same old recipe developers have been using. Including 99 achievements 6 leaderboards in GameCenter, coupled with the Infinite Mode, there’s endless replayability. Right now, Brandnew Boy is on sale for $0.99, so it’s an even better time to snag this great game. With more updates in the works, I can’t wait to see what Oozoo has in store for us in the future. 

Yesterday [Bulkypix & Pendulo] – $4.99

Point & Click Adventure titles are a perfect fit for the iOS, and with more and more of these titles being ported over from other platforms, fans of the genre couldn’t be happier. The most recent addition to the genre is the PC title, Yesterday, developed by Pendulo (The Next Big Thing, the Runaway Series, Hollywood Monsters and Igor), and published by Bulkypix. It revolves around a non-governmental organization’s volunteer, Henry White, who’s trying to help find out who is behind a series of killings driven by a Satanic psycho. 
Yesterday isn’t your typical Point & Click Adventure. Revolving around murder, Satanism, insanity, the homeless, and more, Yesterday is more of an adult-themed title, which definitely sets it apart from most titles within the genre. 
Even though the atmosphere, environments, and story all revolves around darker subject matter, and looks like it might fit perfectly as a Velvet Acid Christ music video, the character models of Yesterday are fairly cartoony, looking like something you might find on Cartoon Network. Even though this is the case, it doesn’t detract from the amazing atmospheres. The characters, though seeming callow most of the time, provide a rich and immersive dialogue, creating a wonderful story to experience while solving the various puzzles and exploring the dark environments throughout the game. 
The controls are typical of any other point & click title on the iOS. You’ll tap where you’d like to move your character, tap on objects or areas you’d like to check out more closely, and when the items in question are shown on the screen, you’re given a magnifying glass and hand icons, with the magnifying glass icon giving you more information about the objects, and the hand letting you interact with the objects. 
If there are objects which you can interact with, they will be moved to the bar at the top of the screen, so that you can combine them with other found objects, or use them later on, while dragging them from the bar to an object in the environment lets you use them. 
The puzzles contained in Yesterday can be pretty challenging, but helping out with what objects can be checked out is an icon in the lower left corner of the screen. Tapping on this icon lets you see what all objects and items can be looked at more closely in each screen. Checking out everything you can within the environment, combining multiple items and using them to activate various objects in the game is required to progress through the story. But like most point & click games, figuring out what goes with what, and where everything can be found and/or used is where the real challenge lies. 
Mixed in with the game’s object matching mechanics are little parts within the dialogue which help add to the game. For instance, towards the beginning of the game, you’ll need to figure out certain chess moves in order to move on in the dialogue. Fortunately, if you’re not into chess, and answer wrong, you can keep tapping on the answers until you get it right. Even though this does sort of beg the question as to why these were included in the game, but they’re nice to see regardless. 
Yesterday is Universal, and priced at $4.99. If you’re a fan of the Point & Click genre, it’s definitely one of the best titles available for the iOS, and since it’s published by Bulkypix, you can pretty much guarantee that if any issues arise, they’ll be fixed or dealt with in a timely manner. The only thing missing from the game is GameCenter integration with achievements. But non-the-less, Yesterday contains a fantastic story-line with incredibly immersive atmospheres, and characters that draw you into the story. It’s a title that I’m very pleased to have on my iDevice, and hope to see more titles from Pendulo ported over in the future. 

Warmongers [Category 5 Games] – $1.99/$3.99

Castle Defense titles have become a great way to grab a few minutes of defense strategy gameplay while on the go, because of the AppStore. They’re great anywhere, appeal to a wide range of players, and hit that strategic nerve a lot of us gamers have without requiring us to play through a 2 hour game, or 45 minute level. While games like Stick and Cartoon Wars pioneered the genre on the iOS, games like Legendary Wars and the Fortune series pushed it more towards the hardcore strategy gamer, and that’s where Category 5 Games most recent title, Warmongers, fits in. 
Warmongers is a single screen, 5 lane defense title, which requires quite a bit of strategy to progress through. While battling it out through hundreds of levels, you’ll be able to collect coins, unlock and upgrade characters, build up powers, and select special ability giving colors for your army. 
Starting off, you’ll need to play through one area, with 3 stages. Each of these stages has 3 separate battles that you’ll need to complete in order to take over the area. Once you battle your way through all 9 stages, each getting progressively harder than the last, the territory is yours. As you make your way through the territories, more and more battles are required to play through before you take the territory over. 
In order to win a battle, you need to get enough of your characters over to the enemies side. At the top of the screen is a gauge, starting with each side locked at the middle. Once you get a character over to the enemies side, your gauge takes over a little bit of the enemies gauge. If they get a character over to your side, the gauge moves back. To win the battle, you need to completely own the enemies gauge. Sometimes it can take less than a minute, others, it’s an all out epic battle, going back and forth, with each side almost winning multiple times. It all depends on what characters you send out, when you send them out, what power ups you use and when, and when you use your special color ability. With each character you send out costing mana, and only 200 mana available to you at any given time, it’s usually a struggle the whole battle.

In the shop, you’re able to upgrade your characters, powers and colors. With each character, you can upgrade their level, which increases their defense, speed, and attack, or increase their attack and defense separately. You’re also able to purchase Bloodlust abilities, which are special attacks that can be used when your bloodlust gauge is filled. 
There are IAPs in the shop, and with no levels being able to be replayed for extra coinage, and the pretty high cost of upgrades and character unlocks, and the difficulty brought on by only having 200 mana available to you at any given time throughout the game (with characters mana costs being between 35 and 45) it can feel like the game is pushing you towards purchasing extra coins quite a bit. This is a shame, because everything else within the game is top-notch. Unfortunately, this push to purchase extra consumable IAPs after the original purchase of the game can be a real deal breaker for many gamers.

Right now, Warmongers is having a 50% off launching sale, and the iPhone version is priced at $0.99, with the HD version priced at $1.99. Considering it’s pushed towards purchasing extra coins through IAP, having a $1.99 and $3.99 title, and not being universal, it’s a hard game to recommend. But if you’re looking for a game that pushes you towards making certain upgrades without any experimentation, and loads of challenge, and high difficulty, then Warmongers is a strategy game you’ll most likely fall in love with. 

Squids Wild West [The Game Bakers] – $0.99

For those of you into RPG titles, last years release of Squids, developed by The Game Bakers, was a great one. It was a casual action RPG title that definitely stuck with people, and managed to stand out in a genre full of clones, copies, and repetitive release after repetitive release. Since then, fans of the game have been waiting for the epic continuation of the story, and now it’s finally here with the release of Squids Wild West. Steev and his friends are on a quest to find Winnick, and save the underwater world from the evil Black Ooze taking over. And it’s just as memorable an experience as the first.
Squids Wild West is just what you’d expect in a sequel. The same great characters, graphics, mechanics, and type of story, merged with new characters, new mechanics, new hazards, and new enemies, and like all fantastic sequels before it, you don’t need to play the previous title to fully enjoy the second. Controls are just like they were in the original Squids, you move your characters by slingshotting them around the level, knocking them into enemies, and getting them in position to use their special powers. 
Each squid is one of 4 different types of character; Shooter, which is able to shoot pearls at the enemy, Trooper, who can produce a large shockwave, knocking all enemies around it back and into anything behind them, Scout, who can dash without costing it any movement points, and Healer, which heals characters just by bumping into them. 

As you progress throughout the game, you’re able to collect many new hats, all of which, you’re able to transfer their powers/stats to the squids who can equip them. This is a huge plus, as it gives you more of a drive to collect and purchase all of the hats you can, because doing so makes each of your characters that much stronger. Hats are unlockable after certain levels, and can also be found in chests throughout the game. It’s a good idea to try and explore each of the levels thoroughly to make sure that each and every item is found. 
Exploring is also required if you want to try and grab the 3 stars that are available for each level. One for finding the secret star, which is hidden somewhere in the level, one for getting all of your characters through the level without dying, and the last for making it through the level in a certain number of turns. This also adds some replay value to the game, but if you’re willing to play through each level twice, you should be able to snag each of the stars, as well as earn some extra pearls which you can use to upgrade your characters and buy hats in the shop. There are IAPs in the game, but it is in no way pushed towards buying them. You’re able to earn more than enough of the game’s currency, which is pearls, just by playing through each of the games levels once. 
With new mechanics, like warping whirlpools, stables and creatures which you’re able to ride, 12 characters to choose from and make up your team, tons of new levels, new areas, new enemies, and tons of stuff that made the first Squids such a fantastic game to experience, Squids Wild West, being Universal, and priced at $0.99 is a MUST BUY for anyone with an iDevice. It’s a great adventure for hardcore RPG players, as well as casual iOS gamers, and provides hours and hours of great entertainment. Squids Wild West is definitely going to wind up on my top 10 games of the year list. 

Tone Sphere [Bit192 Labs] – $0.99

Ever since I bought my kids a Wii, and Guitar Hero, rhythm games have kind of been a family affair. Now, it’s kind of hard to find rhythm games on the iOS that the whole family can get into, especially with all of our different musical tastes, but Cytus and Groove Coaster are two games that usually result in my wife, 3 daughters and myself fighting over the iPad so we can try and break the last players score. Bit192 Labs, a one man development studio located in Tokyo, first iOS release, Tone Sphere, is now the 3rd rhythm game that my family fights over. 
Graphically, Tone Sphere looks more like an Autechre video or influenced by one of Proem’s CD covers, which, in my book, is beyond awesome. The abstract objects that twist, turn, zoom in and out, flash and more to the beats and sounds of the music not only present some amazing eye candy, but also effect the positioning of the circles which you need to tap, which helps to add to the challenge, difficulty and fun of the game. 
Tone Sphere contains over 20 songs split up between 2 Episodes, all included with the original purchase of the game. There are no extra IAP or DLC songs, which is a huge plus. The music throughout the game ranges from Prog. House+Trance, J-pop, Dubstep, Post Rock, Alternative, Hi NRG, and more. The controls are like most other rhythm games, tap, hold or drag the circles when the outer ring hits the inner ring. The circles colors also get darker as they get closer to when they’re supposed to be tapped. There is no rhythm bar like in Cytus, but it’s clear when you need to tap the screen the second you start the game up. 
There are 4 different types of circles, red, silver, black and hold. Red notes generally go along with the main beat or musical instrument/keyboard line for the song while the silver notes do the same, but are scarce and worth 10x the points. Black notes will always have an arrow in them, and you need to drag in that direction instead of just tapping them, and the hold notes are usually for vocals, drum rolls, or quick musical notes, and need to be held until they disappear to get all of the points for them. There’s perfect, great, way off, and miss hits, and the timing for them is about the same as Groove Coaster, nice and tight, adding to the challenge.
Each stage has a possible 6 star ranking depending on your combo, how many perfect hits you get, and whether or not you miss any notes. Starting off, you’re able to see 5 stars, and they each fill up little by little as you make your way through the song. Once you fill all 5 of them up, if you keep tapping on the circles perfectly, you’ll get the hidden 6th star. 
The difficulty progression throughout the songs is perfect. If you play them all in order, they get a little harder with each new song. You also unlock songs as you complete others, and once you play through 10 of the songs in Episode 1, which contains Normal Difficulty songs, you unlock Episode 2, which contains the same songs, but on Hard Difficulty, which, once you get into, is clearly a huge step up in the difficulty level. Each song also has it’s own difficulty ranking, displayed by stars over the song in the song selection list, which, even though it isn’t necessary, is a nice addition. 
The only bad thing I can say about Tone Sphere is that is has no pause button. If you hold down the Icon in the top right corner, you’re taken back to the song selection screen, which can be kind of a bummer if you get a call, or just need to pause the game. But that’s the ONLY bad thing I can say about the game. Tone Spheres is Universal and priced at $0.99 for a limited time, so if you’re a fan of the genre, make sure you pick it up ASAP! It’s a fantastic rhythm based iOS game, and fits perfectly next to Miku Flick, Groove Coaster, Cytus, Jukebeat… with GameCenter integration containing leader boards for both Episodes combined totals adding tons of replay value to the already high amount, it’s a no-brainer. Bit192 Labs has definitely made a mark within the genre, and I can’t wait to see what The Man’s brain has in store for us in the future. 

Buster Spirits [Iskandar Inc.] – $1.99

Every time a new shmup hits the AppStore, I get extremely excited, especially when it’s from a well known developer. Iskandar, developer of Bit-1, Brutal Fantasy, Cut Him Up, and the ever popular shmup, Buster Red, has just released a follow-up to Buster Red called Buster Spirits. This time around, Iskandar has created a shmup more directed towards fans of the genre than another casual shooter. 
The first thing that stands out about Buster Spirits are the new graphics. Even though they’re retro-inspired, and look old-school, they’re a huge change from Buster Red, which had a more cartoony look to it. But aside from the graphics, like most sequels, Buster Spirits is a lot like it’s predecessor. The game is level based, containing 20 separate stages spread across 4 different worlds, and having 4 huge boss battles. There are also tons of enemies with randomized power-up drops, but in Buster Spirits, the enemies also drop coins, which you’ll need to collect to build up your score. 
Now, unlike Buster Red, Buster Spirits contains a new scoring mechanic which definitely adds to the hardcore feeling of the game. Grazing. Just mentioning the word gets shmup fans charged up. Buster Spirits gives you bonus firepower for grazing bullets and enemies, which can result in clearing out screens after screens full of enemies in a flash, and adds a ton to the difficulty, as well as the fun, factors. 
Unfortunately, it’s not all great. There is no main menu, and no options for the game. Considering the controls are more like a Minter game (think Gridrunner) and there’s no option for 1:1 relative touch controls, it’s a pain to get into. Constantly re-adjusting your finger, and under/overcompensating for the extra space your ship will move while trying to dodge huge amounts of bullets of enemies gets very frustrating, very fast. This is kind of a shock, because Buster Red’s controls are fantastic 1:1 relative touch, so it’s strange that this was left out of the sequel. 
Also, there’s only one Mode in the game, whereas Buster Red has a Boss Rush Mode, and an Elite Mode. This doesn’t really take away from the replay value, because there’s always a high replay value when it comes to shmups, and GameCenter leaderboards, but it does take away from the feeling of a complete game. Almost every shmup in the AppStore either has Arcade and iPhone Modes, Boss Rush Modes, Practice Modes, or more, and not having this included in Buster Spirits does make it seem kind of incomplete. 
There’s also no difficulty settings, and only one ship to choose from, which, when it comes to shoot-em-ups, is a very big deal. Considering almost all of these things were included in Buster Red, I can’t help but wonder why they were left out of it’s sequel. But priced at $1.99, and being Universal, if you’re a shmup fanatic, it’s hard to pass up another Buster title. Unfortunately, you might not be too pleased with the product. Hopefully Iskandar Inc. adds to the game in future updates, but as it is now, it’s a hard recommendation, even with some great Buster titles under their belt. 

LostWinds2: Winter of the Melodias [Frontier Developments] – $3.99

One of my favorite puzzle platformers available for the iOS is LostWinds. Beautiful graphics, nice controls, fantastic gameplay and an immersive world with great music and effects make it an easy game to love, and I’m incredibly grateful Frontier Developments ported it over to the iDevice from the Wii. It’s also been one of the few games my entire family, wife, 3 kids, nephews, nieces, have all enjoyed playing together. Now that LostWinds 2: Winter of the Melodias has been ported over as well, my whole family has been excited to get into Toku’s world once again. 
LostWinds2, like the first, has you controlling Toku with the help of Enril and the power of wind. This time around, you’re on a mission to rescue your mother, and you’ve got help from quite a few characters, including some that you helped out in the previous title. 
The most notable difference between the two games is the season changing mechanic. Once you reach a certain area in the game where a special bear can be found, you’re able to switch between Winter and Summer by using statues of the bear. This definitely adds to the difficulty of the puzzles, but also adds an entirely new, and unique level to the game. 
Like LostWinds, there are enemies scattered throughout the world which you’ll need to avoid, or get rid of with the power of wind. There’s also various puzzles which will require you to carry objects from one area to another, or figure out how to reach a lever, opening another section. But unlike the original, Winter of the Melodias also has sections where you’ll need to do quests for townsfolk in order to progress through the game, like collecting a certain amount of items, putting out fires, or defeating x number of creatures. 
The puzzles found throughout the game can be kind of challenging, especially once the Winter/Summer mechanics are added, but they never reach a frustrating level, and making your way throughout the game can be considered more of an experience than anything else. 
LostWinds2 has the same control schemes as the original as well; tap+swipe controls, and a d-pad coupled with swipe controls. Personally, I got through the first LostWinds by using the tap and swipe control scheme that was originally the only option. It felt perfect, and even more precise than when playing with the controller on the Wii. After lots of gamers said that it didn’t feel natural, a D-Pad was added for movement, and swipe sensitivity options were added. This did tighten up the swiping and wind mechanics, which was great. LostWinds2 has been released with both of these control options, so players can choose which scheme feels the most comfortable, but both take a little getting use to, especially using the wind swipes to move Toku around. Once you are familiar with the controls, the game plays perfectly, with basically no issues with the controls what-so-ever. 
LostWinds is also graphically amazing, with vibrant environments, loads of detail, and exceptional polish. The animations, music, and effects all aid in creating one of the most immersive gameplay experiences available within the AppStore. There hasn’t been one spot where the camera, animations, or control scheme brought me out of the game, and while playing, it feels like you’re sucked into the world of Toku, going through the adventure right next to him. Priced at $3.99, being Universal and including GameCenter support with 16 achievements, it’s a game that you might not feel driven to replay after you complete it, but is incredibly easy to recommend. The Journal Pages and collectibles do help add to the gameplay, and might even push you towards replaying the game. But at it’s current price point, and with the fabulous gameplay, it’s one adventure game that we’re very lucky to have available to us on the iOS.