Search Results for: label/1.99

Number of Results: 32

Mech Guardian (SunTownship) – $1.99

Mech Guardian
Casual arcade games are kind of a staple of the AppStore. Easy to learn, easy to control, hard to master, score chasing titles have the possibility of drawing every type of gamer in. However, because of their crazy popularity, it’s fairly hard to find titles that stick out, and offer interesting and addictive gameplay. SunTownship, a 4 person development group based in China, has just released Mech Guardian, a title offering just that; interesting, addictive gameplay that stands out in a sea of titles. Great mechanics, enough challenge to keep hardcore gamers hooked while still remaining approachable for casual gamers, fantastic graphics, and a high-score chase that always leaves you with that ‘one more go’ desire.
The premise is simple. Use your mechanical creature to keep a body of water full of polluting robo-creatures clean for as long as you can by skimming across the top of the water, and using a claw to reach down and snag the ‘enemies.’ As you collect enemies, and raise your score, you progress through levels, with each level releasing more of the robotic sea creatures. So long as you can collect the creatures before they spew out their exhaust, polluting the water, you’ll be able to continue playing, raising your score, and quickly reaching more challenging levels. The enemies do warn you before they pollute the water, by having a red light on their backs start blinking and then blink faster and faster until they dump their waste.
There are quite a few different enemies, each with different swimming patterns, swimming speeds, sizes, as well as scores. There are also some enemies which you can not grab unless you activate a short term big claw power-up. This power-up allows you to grab any and all of the creatures in the water, as well as not having to worry about the size of the enemies slowing your claw down. It can also reach a little bit further, so you won’t have to move all the way over to the left side of the screen to grab an enemy that’s down towards the bottom of the water. Along with the super claw, there’s also a speed power-up, and bombs which are all collectible as orbs, and mixed in with the sea creatures. You’re also able to get a couple of these power-ups free every 24 hours in the game’s store.
The controls in Mech Guardian might seem a bit confusing at first, but after the first game, they’re pretty easy to get. Tilting your device will move your guardian across the top of the screen, while a gauge at the bottom of the screen lets you control your claw movement. It might have been a little easier to get comfortable with if the claw control was put in up-side-down, as the lower half of a circle, but it’s not too bad as is. To shoot your claw down, there’s a button on the movement gauge, and all you need to do is tap it. For the power-ups, there’s 3 buttons on the left side of the screen, each with a picture next to it of the power-up they represent.
The graphics and music are fantastic, making this score chasing arcade game pretty immersive, especially with headphones. The almost steam punk styled graphics are nice and crisp, and with Mech Guardian being Universal, they look great on both the iPod and iPad screens. Along with the chilled out ambient type BGM, it creates a sort of bittersweet melancholy atmosphere.
Even though there’s just one mode, and an upgrade shop or something along those lines would have really helped to round out the game. With the price at $1.99, being Universal, supporting GameCenter with a leader board and 16 hard to snag achievements helping to add to the replay value, all pilled on top of the fantastic, high-quality gameplay, makes Mech Guardian very easy to recommend. SunTownship has definitely provided a top notch gaming experience, and I can’t wait to see what they bring to the table in the future. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is definitely a title you should squeeze into that folder of great arcade games that will be locked on your device for a long time.

Neoteria – 1.99 (OrangePixel)

OrangePixel has proven, with their mobile game releases, that they are kings of the retro gaming world. Their lineup of Meganoid, Stardash, INC, Super Drill Panic and more now have another title that’ll eat up gamers lives; Neoteria, an arcade inspired retro shoot-em-up with the difficulty level fans of OrangePixel have come to love and respect. And really, OrangePixel development merged with shmup gameplay… a pretty hardcore fan of both couldn’t ask for more.
Gameplay: 4/5
In the game, you’ll start off with only Easy Mode selectable. As you progress through the first world, you’ll unlock Normal Mode, and once you complete the first world on Normal, you unlock Hard Mode, which, if you’re familiar with OrangePixel’s games, is basically where the hardcore gamers will spend most of their time. You’re given little snippets of the story as you make your way from world to world. The outer mining settlement is under alien attack, and it’s up to you to stop them.
There are checkpoints throughout each world, set up kind of like levels. Each has 3 stars which you can earn by playing on all 3 difficulties. The first star is for beating the level on Easy, second star for Normal, and third for Hard. There are different paths which you can play through on your way through each world, with each path leading to the same end boss. You are able to go back and replay previously beaten stages if you’d like to power-up your weapon, which you do by collecting the blue crystals that enemies leave behind, or if you’d like to try and travel through all the paths in each world.
Graphics: 4/5
As with other OrangePixel games, Neoteria is done in a retro style that looks fantastic. However, there is one little drawback. On the iPad, the graphics have a little blur behind them whenever objects are moving. This includes the backgrounds, environments, player ship, enemies, and projectiles. It’s not too much of an issue, because most of the time, you’ll be focusing on the crazy amount of enemies coming at you, and trying to survive, but it is there. I’m not sure if it’s there on the iPod, because of the smaller screen, but if it is, it’s not noticeable.
Controls: 4/5
The controls for Neoteria aren’t really what you would expect from a shooter like this, and it’s where the arcade inspiration really becomes apparent. On the left side of the screen, you’re given two buttons for movement of your ship up and down, and on the right side, there’s a fire button, but you can tap anywhere on the right side of the screen to fire. There is no auto-fire, so you’ll constantly be tapping on the right side of the screen to shoot. Here’s where those quick tapping abilities all you old-school gamers should still have come in handy.
In the Controls Menu, you’re able to move the buttons around as you see fit, which definitely comes in handy if you’re playing on an iPad. However, the touch detection area is pretty small, and does not go outside of the buttons at all. This can result in your ship not going up or down because your thumb is the slightest little bit off. This is understandable, since you are able to move the buttons around, and could potentially have the up button pretty much touching the down button, and you wouldn’t want the detection area to overlap. Being able to make the buttons bigger would be a nice way of fixing this, especially since they go invisible after a short time, and obscuring the gameplay area wouldn’t really be an issue with it.
To top it off, it’s also iCade and Joypad supported!
Content + Replayability : 4/5
Neoteria does not really have a whole lot of content, especially when compared to the insane amount of levels in OrangePixel‘s other titles. 3 worlds, each with 8 pretty short levels in them. I’m hoping that like their other games, Neoteria will get some nice content updates in the future. But like other shmups, the value is really in the replay value, not necessarily in the content, and Neoteria has it in spades. Yes, there are only 24 short levels in the game, but you’ll be able to play through them with each of the 3 characters, and finding out how to make it into the hidden paths could take a while.
There’s also the scoring system. At the end of each level, your score is based on the percentage of the level’s enemies that you wiped out, your shot accuracy, and the score you built up while playing through the level. This does add an extra level of replay value, as the first couple times you play through the game, you’ll probably be pounding away on the fire button, and then start trying to increase your score by getting higher accuracy percentages.
Neoteria is also supported by OpenFeint and GameCenter, with 12 achievements, and 3 leaderboards, one for each character (difficulty). So if you’re a high-score chaser, battling for a higher position on the leaderboards is sure to keep you busy for some time. Getting all of the achievements should also take a while, as a lot of them are for finding the secret paths, and 100% completing each difficulty.
Overall: 4/5
Granted, Neoteria isn’t OrangePixel’s best release to date, but I’m ecstatic that one of my favorite development teams released a shmup, one of my favorite type of games (yeah, I’m a platformer/shmup/strategy fanatic). The developers have said that they’re working on another control scheme, as a few players aren’t really comfortable with the current set-up, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it got a few content updates as well. OrangePixel’s other titles have also been known to get very fleshed out/extremely polished based on player feedback, so the distortion with the graphics, touchy controls, and any other issues that there might be, have a very good chance of being dealt with.
At $1.99, being Universal, having iCade and Joypad compatibility, as well as the crazy high replay value that comes along with shmups and games having GameCenter and OpenFeint support, not to mention, it’s ORANGEPIXEL, it’s a great buy.

Arrow of Time – 1.99 (Puya Dadgar)

The Unreal Engine has considerably opened up the world of iOS gaming since it’s introduction late last year. Games taking advantage of the engine generally have incredible graphics and fantastic gameplay. Dungeon Defenders, Infinity Blade, Dark Meadow, Gyro13, these are titles that truly take advantage of what Unreal can do on the iDevice. However, there are a few titles that really do not grab onto everything that Unreal has to offer. Sadly, Puya Dadgar’s title, Arrow of Time is one of these titles.

First off, the graphics in Arrow of Time are done fairly well, however, the animations are really clunky, and not very impressive. Most of the time, it looks like characters are sliding along the ground while running or walking, and it looks like multiple frames have been left out of most of the animations.
Control-wise, you’re able to move with a joystick, aim by swiping on the screen, shoot your weapon by tapping the fire button in the lower right corner. Here’s where it gets pretty uncomfortable. To jump, you’ll need to flick your device either to the left or to the right, and to do an avoidance roll, you need to flick your device forward, or towards yourself.
The collision detection is also something that needs to be worked on quite a bit, as it makes the game extremely frustrating, and almost unplayable. In the second level of the game, you’re required to jump up and grab onto a part of a wall, then pull yourself up. While grabbing onto the wall is done automatically, running up to the wall, and then quickly flicking your device to the left or right will make your character jump up and grab it. Here’s where the collision detection comes in. Half the time, the game will automatically move your character to the left or right, rotating them, having them holding on to air. Your character can get stuck like this, not being able to flick the device again to pull yourself up, or use the joystick or dodge flicks to make your character let go of the wall, forcing you to re-start the stage from the beginning. About 40% of the time, your character will go straight into the wall, getting stuck as well, with no way to get them out, again, forcing you to restart the level. There are some cases in which your character will go into the wall, but still be able to climb up with a left/right flick of your device, and some times the act is done the way it’s supposed to be done. In short, you’ll be able to pull this off about 1 out of 7 or so times, and with level 2 requiring you to do this three times, it’s almost impossible to make it through the stage. There are other sections where collision detection gets to be VERY frustrating, like in stage 1, when you’re supposed to protect a girl, but somehow the enemies swords are able to reach through you, and about 4 times the length of the sword to kill the woman, requiring you to start over. I think you get the point.
There are various cut-scenes throughout the game, which are not terribly voice-acted, but there is no option to skip, and no pause button, so you’ll need to set aside a certain amount of time when you have no chance of being bothered. Some of the cut-scenes give you information which you’ll need in order to progress through the game, so they can be fairly important.
Summed up, Arrow of Time is a game that still needs a lot of work. It feels like a demo or beta version of what could eventually wind up being a decent game. Considering the game was made by two people over a period of 3 months, it’s not incredibly bad. However, the game shows that it was made by two people who worked on it only for 3 months. Priced at $1.99, it’s one of the cheapest Unreal powered games you can get in the AppStore, and the game is Universal. There is no GameCenter or OpenFeint integration, but the game doesn’t really call out for it. Basically, if you’re dying for a 3rd person action adventure game, Arrow of Time might be worth picking up. It does have 8 ratings in the US AppStore, 7 of them are 5 star ratings, however, if you read them, most of them sound like they are from friends or people that might know the developers. Hopefully, Puya Dadgar has plans of working on the game, and fixing as many issues as they can in future updates, but as it is now, it’s a very frustrating experience.

Tank Riders – 1.99 (Polarbit)

Polarbit is no stranger to the AppStore, and their games are not lost on iOS gamers either. Fuzzies, Raging Thunder, Armageddon Squadron, and more, have all invaded iDevices, and marked their territory. The next obsession for Polarbit fans is now here; Tank Riders. This 3D tank battle game with both single and multiplayer modes offer up some pretty exciting gameplay.

You’ll guide a tank through 25 campaign levels using one of two control schemes; a virtual joystick for movement, and tapping where you want to shoot, and two virtual joysticks, one for movement, and one for firing projectiles. However, the second control scheme requires that you tap on the joystick every time you want to shoot, which can kind of get frustrating in the heat of battle. There are 3 star rankings for each level, based on score, which does help add to the replay value a bit.
Within the levels, you’ll face off against enemy tanks in wonderfully designed 3D levels. There are wooden crates containing coins and health pick-ups, as well as coins scattered throughout the stages for you to pick up while taking out the enemies, following the path to the end of the level. There are some spots in the level which you can use as short-cuts, and pathways to hidden areas, but these are very hard to find, as no clues are given for where they are, ala Meganoid. It might not appeal to everyone, but it’s great for you gamers who love some exploration. There are also portals in some of the levels, which will transport your tank across water, and high areas, where you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. Switches which are activated by driving over them, or shooting at them, open up barricades to other areas as well, and will require some backtracking. You’ll also be able to find weapon and shield pick-ups, including mortars, and missiles, both inflicting way more damage than your standard laser shots, but these weapon pick-ups are not carried over between levels.
As you might have guessed, the graphics and animations are top notch, and a very good example of what Polarbit is capable of. The environments are fairly detailed, and very vibrant, with trees, little ponds, rocks, grassy areas, and fog around the edges which really smoothes everything out and brings it all together. The animations for movement, projectiles, explosions, along with the tracks that are left behind your tank in the ground, and teleporting are all great, and really make the game come alive.
Now, I’d love to get into where most people would like to be spending their time in the game; multiplayer. But after spending roughly a total of an hour and a half in the game room waiting for other players, I was saddened when NOT ONE other person showed up. So I can’t speak for what multiplayer is like, if it has lag, or if players have found cheats yet. I can say that there are 5 different maps to choose from, and they all look great from the small icon pictures of them that are shown, and there are no level systems, so everyone will start out with the same amount of health, defense, and weapons. Aside from that, I hope that sales pick up so that we can actually play multiplayer games.
Priced at $1.99, and being Universal, it’s a great buy. However, with multiplayer suffering, the lack of GameCenter, and only 25 single player levels, there’s not a whole lot of gameplay available at the moment. If sales pick up, I can see multiplayer becoming a big deal, especially if it’s got smooth gameplay. There are a couple of issues, like occasional short time freezing of the game, not triggered by anything specific as far as I can tell, and the sound cutting out for a short time if you get a call and come back to the game in-progress, all of which can be fixed with updates. Tank Riders is still a top notch tank battling game. One that looks and plays great, and is from a very responsive and supportive development group, so you know it’s only going to get better and better with future updates, which does make it fairly easy to recommend. If you’re a fan of the genre, or just action/arcade games in general, you should definitely pick it up, and help spread the word so we can get some multiplayer gaming on.

Inertia: Escape Velocity – 1.99 (Red Fly Studio)

Anti-gravity platformer games are really un-explored territory when it comes to iOS games. Actually, I can’t really think of one title that has taken complete advantage of gravity mechanics. Until now. Inertia: Escape Velocity, developed by Red Fly Studio, could very well be the first iOS platformer game to seriously manipulate gravity, using the mechanics as the core of the game, and they pull it off perfectly. I guess it should be brought up that Red Fly Studio has built Inertia: Escape Velocity expanding on award-winning gameplay that won Best Non-Professional Game, Achievement in Gameplay, Technical Achievement, and Gamers’ Choice Awards at DICE’s Indie Game Challenge this year (2011).

You’ll guide a robot who has crash landed on a distant planet through 35 levels, collecting items that you can use to put your ship back together. The fun part? You can manipulate gravity, and use a ton of interesting objects to get you through hazards and around difficult corners of the levels.
Now, we’ll get to the physics in a second, let’s go ahead and get everything else out of the way first. Graphics; The graphics in Inertia are top notch. On retina display, the game looks absolutely beautiful. The character model is done perfectly, and the animations for movement, jumping, even landing, and landing after moving in the air fairly quickly, which is an awesome looking animation, with the robot skidding on the ground in a great pose, are all perfect. The backgrounds you’ll be playing against are eerie, and immensely add to the great atmosphere of the game. As for the foregrounds that you’ll be running around on, they are put together in incredible ways. The actual level designs, and paths that you’ll need to take in order to progress through the game are, to say the least, very well thought out, but the actual objects used to put these levels together are fantastic. Utilizing rocks, and what looks like the landscape around the planet, every piece of the level, every platform, and wire hanging down fits perfectly together, and adds to the aesthetic feel of the whole game. In short; The whole graphical design and layout of the levels, backgrounds, environments, objects, items, everything within the game, is sheer genius.
The one bad thing about it all? On an iPod screen, your character is a little under a centimeter. The game does automatically zoom in for some sections, but not often. This does allow for large portions of the levels to be shown to the player, but can take a little getting use to, and really, you might never get use to it. The game feels like it’s not meant to be played on the small screen, and will most likely have you wishing you owned an iPad, or that your iPod could hook up to your TV for video.
Now to the core of the game; physics and controls. Control-wise, you’re given the standard platformer layout of left and right buttons, along with a jump and secondary use button. This secondary use button brings us to the physics, and is your inertia button. Pushing it creates a small gravity field around your character, allowing him to use his momentum to keep moving in whatever direction he’s going until you let go of the inertia button, or he hits an object, sending him in another direction depending on what way the object is facing. If you can’t already imagine, a development team that uses these controls and core mechanics to their full advantage would be able to come up with some extremely interesting situations for gamers to play through, and Red Fly Studio just so happens to be a development team that has done this. Throughout the levels, you’ll be able to interact with walls that slow you down, speed you up, or make you stick to them, while using the inertia button. There’s also gravity fields that push or pull you towards them, fan-like objects that throw you in the direction they’re facing, walls that you’ll need to be going a certain speed to break through, areas that look like moving particles that are generally used on the floors and ceilings, pushing you up and down, angled platforms, and electric fields that you’ll need to avoid all mixed in with these interactive objects.
Inertia: Escape Velocity is, to say the least, a huge game. The 35 levels all have 3 badges for you to earn, one for completion, one for picking up all of the bolts in the level, and another for finishing the level in a certain amount of time. Getting each one of these will require multiple playthroughs. Once you beat all 35 of the original stages, if you want more, you can purchase another 24 levels, each called the Inferno levels, which are the original levels, but set up like challenge levels, with increased difficulty, and different objects to use, more hazards, and a certain amount of big red bolts to collect so that you can open up the Mastery Levels, which are 5 of the hardest levels in the game, each also having the 3 badges to try and snag, all for $0.99. The original game is $1.99, so for all of the levels it’ll be $2.99. But if you decide not to buy the extra levels, the original 35+ levels will give you quite a bit of gameplay, taking about 4 hours to complete, not counting all the hours you can sink into them going back trying to grab all of the items and beating the level times. For the price, Inertia: Escape Velocity is an amazing game, and a definite must buy. It’s very quickly moved up to the #4 spot on my top 5 games of the year, making it incredibly easy to recommend to any and all platform and puzzle lovers.

Act of Fury: Kraine’s Revenge – 1.99 (Forge Reply/DarkWave Games)

Shoot-em-ups have expanded quite a bit since Cave hit the iOS scene in April of 2010. However, very few games have done what Cave’s releases have done for the scene, so it’s nice to see a developer realize this, and take the genre in completely different direction. DarkWave Game’s new title, Act of Fury: Kraine’s Revenge, is a different kind of shmup for fans of the genre. A game in which, instead of shooting your enemies down, you get as close to them as you can, disabling their systems, and taking them down with a tornado like force that surrounds you.

To start things off, the graphics in Act of Fury are great. I have run into some slight jumping around of the screen when the levels start to scroll left or right, or zoom in and out, like when an air-strike comes in, however it’s nothing game-breaking, but is noticeable, and should be brought up. Aside from this, the variety with enemies is nice, the 4 different environments look great, and the animations are fantastic. The music and sounds go along nicely in passing on the feel of the world in Act of Fury as well.
Gameplay-wise, you’re able to use two different controls schemes, both involving relative touch controls. One gives you a 2:1 movement ratio, while the other gives you a 1:1 ratio. Generally with shmup games, a 1:1 ratio is preferred, so it’s nice that DarkWave included it as an option, but the whole game plays and feels better with the 2:1 default movement. There’s 9 Stages, each with a Normal, and Hell difficulty mode. In the Normal Mode, you’re able to disable enemies projectiles by attacking them (moving next to them), while in Hell Mode, the enemies will keep firing at you no matter what. There are items that you can pick up by destroying buildings, extra lives, bombs, shields, and items that stop time, but if you don’t use an item that you’ve picked up before you pick up another one, it’s gone forever. A big part of the gameplay is waiting until there are multiple objects on the screen that you can destroy, and trying to destroy them all at once, building up your combo, and Fury bar, which is displayed under your health bar, and increases your damage radius, total damage, and increases your score quite a bit. Mastering how to build up your Fury gauge and destroy as many destructible objects at a time is the key to scoring big.
Each of the 9 stages offers 3 star ranks which are based solely on your score. Not at all on how many times you get hit, or how many lives you loose, which is fairly different from every other shoot-em-up game out there. You’re then able to use the stars that you earn to ’buy’ upgrades and power-ups in the shop. There are some more powerful upgrades that you can only use in Hell Mode, which helps drive players to play the Harder Difficulty after beating the Normal Mode. You are able to change how you allocate your stars for power-ups before each stage, so experimentation does come into play, which is a great addition to the core gameplay. I should mention that ,right now, there seems to be a problem with a couple of the stage’s rankings, but is being worked on by the developers and gamers, and a fix for the one or two levels with un-balanced score/star rankings should be available fairly soon.
Act of Fury is a very interesting addition to the shmup genre. It does a fantastic job of mixing the Spirit/Bit Pilot/Silverfish type mechanics with shmup influenced gameplay, and presenting it all in an extremely polished and well rounded package. There are GameCenter and OpenFeint leader boards for each of the 9 stages in both Normal and Hell Modes, as well as a total score leader board for both Modes, along with 32 achievements, all adding immensely to the replay value, which, once you get into the Hell Mode levels, is already fairly high. With the price being $2, it’s definitely a game that’s worth every penny, and then some, especially if you’re a fan of the shoot-em-up genre. Act of Fury also runs on 2nd GEN devices, which, with this genre, is fantastic news.
Act of Fury: Kraine’s Revenge gets a score of 4 out of 5.

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.

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

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

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

‘Mage Gauntlet’ Review: Magic, Swords and an insane amount of hats.

We at the App Shack have always been huge fans of the developers over at Rocketcat Games company because of their previous hook-slingin’ games like Hook Champ, Super Quick Hook, and Hook Worlds.  Deciding to branch out from that genre of games they created Mage Gauntlet, an ARPG (Action Role Playing Game) that is built in the image of Secret of Mana.  Read our interview with them here to see what new direction this studio will turn next.
              The backstory of Mage Gauntlet is very deep and intriguing and had me rewatching the cut scenes to make sure I understood it. Basically a great evil known as Hurgoth descends over the land causing pain and suffering.  A wizard named Whitebeard conquers and sends the monster to the bleak Dark Realm.  He and some appointed wizard guardians have been keeping watch on the seal to make sure that it does not get broken open.  It appears that the seal is leaking out energy causing monsters to rise again in the land.  I’ll let you find out the rest of the story on your own as it is best experienced without already knowing what’s going to happen!
            Each section of the game world is split into levels which are seamlessly integrated together much like different areas in Zelda.  After you exit the level you immediately start walking through the next level without having to select it.  You can earn up to 3 stars in a level. If you defeat all the enemies and dont lose any lives you get the perfect three stars for that level.  You can earn a pet by doing so which is an awesome motivating factor.  Also able to be obtained by beating levels are hats. Hats have always been a recurring theme in Rocketcat Games and in Mage Gauntlet there are 110 hats to collect. These hats don’t actually boost your stats in any way but are certainly fun to wear and let you customize your character. Pets, Swords, and Robes though, do influence your stats and the possibility of spell drops.
     You control Lexi by using one of three control methods which are all very adaptable and easy to use for both iPod and iPad users.  To attack enemies you can quickly tap the attack button for a weak attack and by holding it you can initiate her power attack which stuns all enemies it touches.  Also available are spells which you can get by cracking open magic vases.  The battle system feels much like Secret of Mana’s and is quite fast paced as the enemies can get very cunning. Also there are no fetch quests at all so this really does hearken back to the 90’s era RPG’s.  For added replayability they included a separate mode called Master Mode that puts new secrets and overwhelming monster numbers in the same levels you played before.
        Overall this is refreshing take on the RPG genre and really adds something new to the App Store. With 84 levels, 110 hats, 19 pets, and 86 achievements you’ll be playing this gem for a long time.  A update has already been announced which includes a new mode and a new pet.  You really cant go wrong with this purchase and is in my opinion my absolute favorite RPG up to this point. Legit, get it now on launch day before it goes up in price permanently to 2.99. 10/10

Works on iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.2 or later

EnbornX – 1.99 (Lantansia)

Shoot-em-up games have been making a huge comeback over the last couple years. Mainly because you can now play old favorites like R-Type, Earth Defense Force, Galaga and Battle Squadron as well as newer games, like Fast Striker, Deathsmiles, ESPGaluda and DoDonPachi all on a mobile device with touch screen controls that make previously hard to pull off with a joystick moves as easy as swiping your finger across a screen. Mixed in with these classics and new favorites, we’ve been given quite a few new and amazing bullet hell and shmup titles. Enborn-X, by Lantansia, is yet another example of this.

This endless boss battle structured game is a blast to play. There’s two different control methods, both being tight and easy to use. One option is a joystick, while the other is relative touch control, and both have 3 different buttons for attack options. Each attack has it’s own percs as well as weaknesses. Your spread shot can cancel out certain types of shots from the bosses, while some projectile shots go right through your bullets, a laser that you need to charge while avoiding the onslaught of bullets coming your way, and an incredibly strong up close and personal punch attack that, well, you need to be up close and personal to use.
In order to max out your score against each boss, you’ll need to pick them apart, destroying them piece by piece. You can go straight for the middle of them, destroying them fairly quickly, but doing this will cause your score to suffer quite a bit, and in a high-scoring game like this, that’s a big no-no. For each piece of the boss you destroy, you’ll rack up points while shooting that piece, as well as get a bonus score for destroying it before moving on to the next piece. Starting at the edges and moving inward is essential, but also comes with quite a bit of risk. Generally, the edges of the boss are the pieces that shoot out the most bullets. This means you’ll need to get use to weaving in and out of them while attacking instead of staying in the middle and slightly moving to avoid the missiles and big lasers that you’ll usually find there.
The graphics and animations in Enborn-X are very exuberant, and it can sometimes be hard to focus when each new boss is spawned from the orb that you’ll be fighting. The animations for this are great, each bit being flung out of the last in true overdone anime style. In short, it looks awesome. The animations for your character are pretty typical of shooters, but match the style of the game very well. It would be nice to see one or two more moves incorporated to the melee attacking, as right now you punch twice over and over again, adding in a kick or super twirl punch or something would have been a great addition, but as it is, you’ll be focusing more on how much damage you’re doing with those punches than what your character looks like while pulling them off. The sounds and music go together with the anime style too, being full of energy, and adding to the overall feel of the game.
Now, with the game being done in true anime style, it’s amazing that it’s only $1.99, as most anime entertainment is usually premium priced, and with the amount of replay value, and the sheer exaggerated amount of action that’s in the game, $1.99 is a great price. EnbornX is also Universal, and compatible with iCade, giving gamers even more reason to lay down a couple bucks for it. Of course, a high-scoring game like this wouldn’t be complete without OpenFeint and GameCenter leader boards, now would it? Highest score and highest stage boards are included, as well as having 15 different hard to snag achievements. Lantansia has proven that they can make an over the top game that fits within the growing genre as well as expands it. Hopefully we can see another mode or maybe more weapons and characters in future updates, but right now, if you’re a fan of the genre, Enborn-X is a great buy.
Enborn-X gets a score of 8 out of 10.