Search Results for: label/4.99

Number of Results: 13

Crow (Sunside Inc.) – $4.99

The amount of developers the AppStore has opened it’s arms to is pretty much unfathomable. With hundreds of releases every week, it’s really hard to wrap your head around how many apps the AppStore really has. This is both good and bad, as there’s loads of games that you might have to sift through before finding one that you’ll enjoy enough to play through til the end, but there’s also those rare occasions that you’ll be able to come across a game that totally blows you away, and you can’t help but feel lucky to be able to have such a wide range of games available to you. There’s also few games available in the AppStore that are described better as games you experience than games you play. Infinity Blade, Windosill, Waking Mars, Machinarium, Bumpy Road, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery all come to mind as being more games focusing on a mesh of musical and artistic expression. Sunside Inc., a small 2 man development team’s new release, Crow, is definitely a game to add to that list.

Crow is a unique adventure game that takes you through the story of a Crow facing off against different forces, deciding whether to take the path of good or evil. With each boss encounter you have, you’ll be able to choose between cursing the enemy, or letting them go, both having different outcomes throughout the game, including the appearance of your crow.
The game is split into two different gameplay modes, the world map, and dungeons. While on the world map, you’ll explore the scenery, looking for trinkets, challenge levels, story points, and enemy encounters. During this section of the game, the controls might take a little getting use to. To move around, you need to hold on the screen in the direction you want the crow to fly, and tap to stop and hover. As you uncover the various items and interesting points throughout the level, you’ll need to tap on them to pick them up, set off the cut-scene and dialogue for the story, or activate the enemy battle or challenge level. In the challenge levels and enemy fights, or, the dungeon areas, controlling is a bit different. You’ll need to slide your finger around anywhere on the screen to move your crow around while you’re taken through the stage on pre-set path (rail). To attack, you’ll need to collect the orbs of energy until the circle in the lower left portion of the screen lights up, then tap on it, and be taken to the attack screen. Here, you can either attack by swiping where you want to attack, or draw a circle, and activate a shield.
Once you complete the challenge level or enemy battle, you’re taken to a results screen, where you’re able to see if you collected all of the orbs, trinkets, lost any health, completed the level under the par time, and what difficulty you completed the level on, all adding up to your total score. If you’d like to try and do better, you can reset your score, and replay the level. This option is only available for the challenge and enemy levels, and does not extend to the boss battles.

Each world is split into separate levels, with the first level being the exploration you’ll do before the first enemy battle, then the second level being after with separate trinkets and challenge levels found in both. Once you collect enough trinkets, you’re given a skill point, which you can use to upgrade how long your shield lasts, how quickly you regenerate health and magical energy, and how much energy it takes to attack. As you progress through the game, and depending on how you deal with the bosses, you’ll be given options to upgrade different abilities as well.
The graphics in Crow are top notch. There’s actually very few games in the AppStore that even come close to looking as good as this title, which is very impressive considering the game was developed by 2 guys who made their own engine, Radiance, for the game to run in. The story is very engaging, and well written, with the voice acting above par as well. The music is also a high point within the game, and really brings the whole package together, making it an incredibly immersive and entertaining gaming experience.

Most of the replay value is in high-score chasing and achievements. To get perfect scores on the 2 Challenge Levels and Enemy Battles in each world, you need to collect all of the energy orbs, all of the trinkets, and not take any damage from the environmental hazards. Once you get further into the game, these challenge levels get tougher and tougher, requiring you to really pay attention to everything that you’re flying towards, and almost perfect timing. The Guardian and Boss Battles are scored on the trinkets, energy, and health as well, but also include finding all of the story points that are available before the enemy level, a time bonus if you can beat the enemy level under the par time and a difficulty level bonus.

Needless to say, there’s quite a bit that you’ll need to do in order to maximize your score, which is also tracked by GameCenter, so if you’re a high-score chaser, you can compete for the best time with friends, and other players. Included with the GameCenter leaderboard are 18 achievements which will require multiple play-throughs, some of which will be very challenging to unlock, giving the game tons of replay value, which is a good thing, because completing the game only takes about 2 hours. There’s even an achievement for beating the game in under 35 minutes, so once you know your way around the worlds, you can complete the game fairly quickly. But being Universal, and only $5, you’ll definitely get your moneys worth. The gameplay is solid, the atmospheres, graphics, music, and story all blend together perfectly. However, if you’re looking for an adventure game with a long story that doesn’t focus on multiple play-throughs, chances are Crow will not be what you’re looking for. But if you’re trying to find a unique gameplay experience for your iDevice, Sunside Inc has definitely delivered a game with loads of depth below the surface. It’ll be hard for them to match this quality with future games, but they’ve, without question, made a solid name for themselves in the iOS development community, and I hope to see more games of this caliber hit the AppStore in the future.

MacGuffin’s Curse (Ayopa) – $4.99

Ayopa Games is definitely one of our favorite publishers here at TAS. Not only do they have fantastic customer service and release high-quality games, but they’re very interested in listening to the gaming community, and so are the games developers; always trying to make their games better by tweaking controls, squashing bugs, fixing issues, and just listening to the general feedback from the players. Almost every Ayopa release (W.E.L.D.E.R., Chicken Rescue, BigBot Smash, M.U.S.E., Dungeon Crawlers and Mailmen) has been quickly updated to fix any problems or issues gamers brought to attention. They are also still being updated with more content, iCloud support, more fixes, changes, optimizations, or in some cases, being made Universal. Well, Ayopa’s latest release, MacGuffin’s Curse, from developer Brawsome, who won Freeplay’s “Best Australian Game” in 2010 for the PC+Mac title Jolly Rover. It’s slated for release on the 19th of this month for the AppStore, MacStore, and Steam.
In MacGuffin’s Curse, you’ll be playing as Lucas MacGuffin, a magician-turned-thief who’s desperate to come up with the rent he needs to keep his daughter and mother under a roof. In this state of mind, he decides to rob the town’s museum of their ancient amulet. While trying to find a way into the building, an ex-detective stops MacGuffin, and forces him to agree to steal the amulet for him. After grabbing the amulet and putting it on, MacGuffin finds out that the amulet is cursed, turning him into a werewolf, and sealing itself to him, making it unable to be pried off by anyone.
Now, with the city in total lockdown mode, MacGuffin still needs to find a way to come up with the rent, figure out how to get the amulet unstuck, and stop a criminal mastermind in the process. Along his journey, MacGuffin is able to switch between wolf and man when in the moon-light, needing to switch between both to smash through rocks that are in the way and move around large batteries and crates, as well as slide through small holes, pick locks, and activate doorways.
Graphics-wise, MacGuffin’s Curse isn’t really anything that shows off the potential of the iDevice, but they’re far from cheesy. The environments are well detailed, and the animations for walking, and moving objects look great, and once you get into the game, the graphics really end up fitting the gameplay. The atmospheric BGM also helps add to the feeling of the game, as do the great sound effects. There’s not one point where I was caught off guard by an annoying sound effect that totally took me out of the mood the game put me in. The controls are decent enough to fit the gameplay, but a d-pad and action button would have been a nice addition as well. To move your character, you’ll need to swipe and hold in the direction you want to move. If you want to make single step moves, a short quick swipe will get it done. A single tap anywhere on the screen will activate buttons, view different objects or use doors, while using two fingers to swipe will push and pull larger objects.
You’ll move from room to room (or a screen sized section of the city), solving puzzles to move onto the next one. They will usually require you to find a way to a power button, which will give you access to a battery, which you’ll then need to find a way to drag to the battery holder, finally opening up a door that will lead to the next room. As you progress through the game, more features are added, like large buttons which you’ll need to hold down with crates, steel crates which can only be pushed and not pulled, piles of rocks that will block off areas, and more. There’s also safes which house gold, as well as bits and pieces of a comic which tells the story of MacGuffin.
Throughout the city, you’ll also run into some pretty interesting characters, some of which will get in your way, while others will have quests for you. You’re given a quest log which will help you keep track of them, and not too far into the game, you’ll come across a character which will give you the ability to jump to certain places on the world map that you’ve already visited. Most of these characters and the conversations that MacGuffin has throughout the game, as well as the little dialogue sections when you check out various objects in each of the rooms, can add quite a bit to the gameplay. Sometimes you’ll come across a helpful hint, while other times it’ll just be there to help add some humor to the gameplay. Either way, the writing is definitely something that sets this puzzler apart from the herd.
MacGuffin’s Curse will be available on the AppStore, MacStore and on Steam April 19th. At $4.99, being Universal, and including GameCenter support with 18 achievements that will require you to do quite a bit of exploration, it’s a puzzler that fans of the genre or tongue n cheek humor won’t want to pass up. I haven’t come across any issues as of yet, no problems with sound cutting out when coming back to the App from the multitasking bar, not one crash, and no glitches to speak of, but since it is published by Ayopa, I’m pretty sure you can bet that if any issues are found, the developers will be ready and willing to jump on fixing them ASAP.

Spaceward Ho! (Ariton) – $4.99

There are some genres that have truly embraced the AppStore, using the iDevice’s unique touch screen capabilities, and basically feeling right at home on the platform. Puzzlers, Racers and Point n’ Click titles really make it feel like the iDevice was made to perfectly suit them. Strategy games are also definitely falling into this grouping of genres, and slowly, but surely, 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) titles are finding their way as well, and these are being sucked up by fans of this niche genre like an addicts choice substance. It also helps when these titles are ports of old-school titles, as a lot of iOS gamers are 30-40 year olds who found out they can fit gaming into their lives again by playing on their phones.
Spaceward Ho!, originally an Amiga and Mac title released in 1990 released by Delta Tao Software, has made its way into the AppStore, accompanying Ascendancy as two of the more notable old-school 4X games that have graced the iDevice, and the two man California based development team, Ariton (who also developed the Spaceward Ho! port for the Palm Pilot), has done a fantastic job transferring the game over to the touch screen.
Spaceward Ho! is not your typical depthy 4X Strategy game. Actually, on the surface, it’s very basic when compared to titles like Master of Orion or Starbase Orion, but underneath the surface, it does have quite a bit of depth. It’s probably better placed next to titles like 9 Colonies and Vincere Totus Astrum, offering up gameplay that can last an hour, or even play through as quick as 10 minutes.
When starting a game, you’re able to decide exactly what kind of game you’ll be playing. You’ll be able to choose what kind of system you’ll be thrown into; Thriving, Abundant, Advanced, Normal, Backward, Barren, or Outpost. How many other empires you want in the star system, choosing between 1 and 8, as well as their IQ, being able to pick between 50 and 200, in increments of 10. The enemies home system, like yours, Thriving, Abundant, ect… but you can also decide to have this be based on their IQ. How many years to advance with every turn, 10, 20, 30 or 50, whether or not to allow Best Buddies, and the Shape, size, and Density of the universe. All but the size influences the difficulty, which you’ll be able to see go up and down based on your choices.
Once you decide the settings, you’re taken to the Galaxy screen. Here, you can see your home planet, as well as all the other planets in the galaxy. To get started, you can double tap on your home planet, and be taken to the ship/satellite creation screen. Here, you can build various ships and satellites, adjusting their Range, Speed, Weapons, Shields, and Mini (amount of material used to build them). As you progress through the game, your researchers will automatically research different technologies, increasing what you can use as stats for your ships.
In the Info section, along the left side of the screen, you can adjust how much money you’ll spend on the different technologies by dragging the gauge’s. In this area, you can also view your entire list of planets that you’ve colonized, adjusting how much money you spend on the planet. You can adjust it so that you spend more on technologies, or put the money back into your savings. At the top of this bar you’ll find your total money and metal (the only resource that you’ll need to worry about in the game). The metal that you collect from around the galaxy is used to build your satellites and ships, so sometimes colonizing a planet just to take the metal from it, and then evacuating is a very good idea. At the bottom of the info section, you’re able to either hide the information or change to view your history, which is a list of every major event that has happened in the game. There is also a little box which tells you who the other players are, and if they’re an enemy or ally.
The game is complete when you either friend or defeat all of the other players. You can keep playing, colonizing the rest of the planets, or seeing how strong you can make your ships until you run out of metal, but it’ll be pretty boring since there won’t be any opponents. If you’re familiar with the original Spaceward Ho! this is basically an exact port. You can not view your technology level vs. the other players, there’s no ‘browse all fleets’ or ‘browse all planets’ and network play has not been implemented yet, but the developers have said that they are working hard on giving us GameCenter Support, Multiplayer features, and an iPhone build of the game. Being priced at $5, it’s a great title to pick up if you’re a fan of the 4X genre. It’s also one of the best 4X games you could pick up if you’re new to the genre. It’s very easy to learn, has a great ‘help’ section, which is also pretty short (unlike some other tutorial or help sections in other 4X games that are 50 pages long, and would take 2 hours to read through) because all of the unnecessary complexity that’s in other 4X games has either been weeded out, or is taken care of automatically. There is also an Auto-Play option, which lets you watch the game take over your decisions, which is a great way to learn how to play the game quickly. The developers are very active on the Touch Arcade Forums, and have an ‘Ask Us’ section on their website dedicated to answering questions. Having such active and supportive developers makes wanting to support them very easy.
[iPad Only]

Amoebattle (Intrinsic/Grab Grames) – $4.99

Intrinsic/Grab Games
Strategy games have really secured a place in iOS gamers hearts over the years. Games like StarFront Collision, The Settlers, Civilian Revolution, Red Conquest, Land Air Sea Warfare, Ravenmark, and many more, including ports from other consoles, and old PC games (Ascendancy, Z, War Of The Lions, and more recently, Imperium Galactica II come to mind). Something that doesn’t happen enough is titles coming to the iOS that are slated for release on other platforms. Amoebattle, from Intrinsic Games (who was picked up by Grab Games in 2011), a 5 man development group who’s first game, Divergent Shift, a DSiWare title, was published by Konami. Since then, they’ve released Penguin Patrol in the AppStore, as well as this most recent title, Amoebattle, built by 3 of 5 members of the development team, from the ground up, which is also slated for DSiWare later in the year.
The first thing that really stuck me when starting up Amoebattle was the insane amount of polish. Generally when it comes to Strategy games, players don’t rely too heavily on the graphics aspect of the genre. However, there are some titles which go above and beyond in this area, Amoebattle happens to be one of them. The beautiful environments and wonderful character design as well as the animations, are all enhanced by the fantastic BGM. Putting that together with the spot on controls, and Amoebattle is almost the perfect RTS package. The only thing missing? Multiplayer or Skirmish Modes. As of now, there’s only a Campaign Mode.
Thankfully, it’s a pretty hefty Campaign, featuring 12 missions that stretch out to between 8 and 10 hours of gameplay, each having numerous quests. The goal in the Campaign is to lead your group of amoebas through different areas to defend against a spreading infection. This infection is taking over other amoebas, and threatening your entire amoeba world. As you progress through the missions, you’ll be able to collect DNA and use it to transform your own amoebas into stronger, faster beings, each having their own strengths and weaknesses. With a total of 9 different creatures, this adds quite a bit of strategy to the already strategic heavy gameplay.
As you explore the environments, you’ll also be able to harvest energy, and use the environment to grow your little amoeba army. Certain areas on the maps will give you boosts, like patches of grass that increases your herbivore’s attacks, goo-like areas that act as a one way mirror so that you can sneak up on the enemy, or get away from them with ease, different goo which lets you replicate quicker, and more.
Each of the different amoebas have different ways of raising their feeding gauges, like eating the plant-life, or destroying enemies, but once these gauges are filled, a little smiley face appears next to your amoeba. When in this state, your amoeba can either stay full, and have stronger attacks, or you can use the energy to replicate yourself. This will be essential in progressing throughout the missions. You’ll also need to be careful when you choose to replicate, because when in the cocoon-like state, your creature is incredibly vulnerable. So replicating mid-battle is a surefire way to kill off your clan.
Also helping out with the enemies are probes. With these, you can greatly turn the tide, using them to gather resources, which you can then use to morph your amoebas, as well as use other probes, like the Cryoprobe, which lets you slow down your enemies significantly for a short period of time. You’ll unlock these as you progress throughout the game, and they can turn out to be life-savers in tough situations.
The controls in Amoebattle are perfect. You can choose one of two control schemes, the first has you using one finger to select amoebas, two fingers to move the camera, and drawing a line towards your enemies to attack. The second control set-up uses one finger to move the camera, two fingers to select amoebas, and has you hold down on enemies to attack. You can also choose to have the camera control inverted, tap to move or tap to attack, and change the camera sensitivity. Along with this, you’ll have a HUD which you can use to select and un-select all of your amoebas, divide them into groups either by tapping to select or drawing any kind of shape around the amoebas you want to select, and then assigning them a quick tab number, which you can also use by double tapping to quick jump to the group, use the small level map to quick jump to areas, and control your replication, and power-ups. It might sound a little confusing, but the controls kind of reminded me of StarFront, which is a very good thing. The only control mechanic missing, and that I constantly found myself wishing was included in the game, was being able to use two fingers to zoom in and out of your main gameplay area. There were many times when I was against the edges of levels, and wound up de-selecting amoebas, triggering a power-up, or replicating because an area I was trying to reach, my amoebas, or the enemies, were right under the HUD Icons. Being able to zoom in and out would have greatly helped with this.
The developers have said that the next major feature they would like to add is a Skirmish Mode, and that the game is already balanced for Multiplayer, and that they’re hoping to get that in. Either way, one of the two would be a fantastic addition, as Multiplayer and Skirmish Modes are a huge reason fans of the genre end up purchasing titles. Amoebattle is priced at $4.99, is Universal, supports the new iPad Retina display, which is fantastic, as the graphics in Amoebattle are definitely a highlight for the game, and make it a title to show off to friends. There’s also GameCenter support with 27 VERY challenging achievements, which add a surprising amount of replay value to an RTS Campaign Mode. For the price, Amoebattle is a great buy. It’s definitely one of the most polished, and well designed RTS games I’ve ever played, on any platform/console. If you’re a fan of the genre, and don’t mind waiting a bit for an extra mode, be it Skirmish or MP, Amoebattle is a title you need to snag. I can’t wait to see where the developers take this game with updates. It could very well wind up being one of the top 3 best RTS games for the iDevice.

‘Crazy Hedgy’ Review

‘Crazy Hedgy’, developed by Cybertime Games, is the first great 3D platformer available on the App Store. In it, you play as the delightable hedgehog Crazy Hedgy, traveling through three well-crafted worlds. In each level your goal is to get to the end, but also to collect gems and the three hidden coins. Full of life and variety, Crazy Hedgy doesn’t disappoint as the first true 3D platformer for iOS.
iPhone Screenshot 1

Controls: 5/5
As far as platformers go, it’s essential to have great controls. On the app store, tilt controls hardly ever mesh well with a platformer, as accelerometer controls don’t provide the layer of precision required. Crazy Hedgy is just the opposite, giving you more intuitive controls than a virtual joystick or virtual buttons could ever work. I’ve found that, when required, you can roll along a tiny ledge, grab a coin, then flip around while on the very edge, and make it back safely. The rest of the controls along with this are very simple as well: touch the left side to punch and touch the right side to jump. When unlocked, you can also use special moves that allow you to do different attacks, like the ‘grab’ upgrade, which lets you pick up Spankos and throw them. The controls have yet to fail me once, proving to me that accelerometer controls can provide the incredible precision needed in a platformer.

iPhone Screenshot 2
Content and Variety: 5/5
In ‘Crazy Hedgy’ you fight through more than 35 very large levels, which takes a very long time to complete. Inside each level are a large amount of gems that need to be collected to purchase upgrades and gain a better score. Also hidden in each level are three coins, often found in the toughest parts of the level. These coins are the only way to unlock more worlds, and also the key to unlocking upgrades in the shop. These upgrades feature anything from unlocking new attacks to buying better bubble gum (which can actually be a lifesaver in the game).  There’s a total of seven items in the shop, each with four or so upgrades per item. For those that hate In App Purchases, have no fear: there are no iAPs anywhere near. The upgrades in the shop don’t feel like a grind to reach them either; each unlock feels like it was timed perfectly to coincide with in-game progress. Another interesting addition in the game shop is magnets, which grab collectable gems (the currency in the shop) and even increase the value of each gem. That means that even after playing through all the game’s levels, you can also replay levels for a higher gem score. One tiny gripe with the game is that the previous score on a given level isn’t easily accessible, though when you get a high score on a level it does let you know at the end of the level. The total score from all levels is compiled in a single Game Center leaderboard. There’s also a fun arena mode, which sticks you up against varying waves of enemies, giant mines, or other obstacles in a small arena.
The game also features a ton of variety. From level to level you’ll face different enemies, bosses, traps, trampolines and far more. Even getting near the end of the game, it still managed to throw new elements into it. The many upgrades in the shop also create more interest in playing, as each one gives you something fun and new. Each level is well designed as well, including wildly different elements in each level. Each world is also very unique, with a new look and more types of obstacles and ingenuities. There’s also numerous ways to kill enemies, from causing them to get in a fight with each other to hitting them into a trap. Often times the key to killing a tough enemy is either quickly downing a crazy potion or using the environment to you’re advantage. The whole game feels complete and full of life, without even a trace of it getting old.

iPhone Screenshot 3
Graphics and Animations: 5/5
Another item to consider about the games is how it looks. This can be a game changer, especially with a 3D game. However, Crazy Hedgy looks exceptional, especially sharp when Retina display is enabled. However, all the rest of the effects work on 3rd generation devices as well, meaning no matter what device you use it’s definitely a looker. The characters and environment all have a clean and polished feel, giving it a very likeable look. Everything is also very well detailed and gives the perfect look to represent how well it plays: amazing.
With graphics, animations also have to be taken into account. A game can look great in stills but look horrible in motion. However, Crazy Hedgy finds definitely finds its groove in animations, with it all moving cleanly and perfectly. The enemies also have distinct personalities, looking and moving differently than each other. The great animations of the game just help to build the game up, adding to its personality.

Overall: 5/5

All in all, it’s hard to find anything bad to say about Crazy Hedgy. Between it’s perfect controls, amazing level design, and great graphics, there’s almost nothing to fault. ‘Crazy Hedgy’ rolls itself along as one of the best games available on the app store. It’s an amazingly fun platformer, and one I can’t recommend enough.

Unstoppable Gorg Landing This Thursday!

It’s finally official. Unstoppable Gorg will be landing on the App Store this Thursday. If you don’t know anything about this game, then you must be living under a box. It’s a new tower defense game that allows you to move your satellites once you place them. Check out the trailer below to get a sense of what I’m talking about.

The game will be released on the following platforms:
Thursday January 19, 2012
PC & Mac (through Steam)
First half of 2012
Xbox LIVE Arcade
Price: TBA
Make sure you keep an eye out for the game once it releases!

Combat Arms Zombies (Nexon Mobile)

Zombie games run wild on the App Store, but that’s not to say that they are growing old. Combat Arms: Zombies, by Nexon Mobile, is the newest addition to the zombie genre.  Expanding on the PC version of Combat Arms, Nexon Mobile comes close to rivaling the thrilling action of the CoD Zombies series but falls short in the end.
For those of you familiar with Combat Arms, the biggest thing to note is that this is built somewhat like a free-to-play game. The biggest difference is that it does not include all of the annoying aspects of a free-to-play game. No ads, no forced IAPs, none of that. Instead you get a wide arsenal of weapons to unlock/buy and various other equipment to help you survive against the horde. What do I mean by “wide arsenal”? I mean 300+ authentic weapons. BOOM.

Since this is a First Person Shooter with Zombies, it is a given that the gameplay is wave-based. Obviously, zombies like to play fair and give you a little break after you get done killing their friends. They would never mob you incessantly (sarcasm?). The wave-based gameplay that drives most zombie games is wonderful in practice, but in Combat Arms it can be a bit of a fun-block. The thing about the waves in Combat Arms: Zombies is that the early rounds are just plain boring. Even if you have never played a game before they are boring. To make matters worse, the difficulty settings don’t affect the number of zombies, only the toughness of the zombies and the number of waves. No matter how you look at it, every time you play the game you will have to play through the early rounds before you actually get to the good part. Fortunately, the good part is really GOOD. Access new areas, kill new zombies (the boss zombies look really freaky), and have a jolly good rampage.

Unfortunately, there is no multiplayer support at the moment, and we can only hope that this will be added in the future. As a game built on the Unreal Engine 3 (which is relatively new on iOS), Combat Arms: Zombies plays far better than several others of its kind. The graphics are amazing and the 5 control schemes allow for anyone to play comfortably. Of course, improvements are always welcome and in particular I would love to see more maps, more zombie types, more guns, multiplayer, and a way to skip right to the action. If you want to shoot some zombies, grab Combat Arms while it is still available at the Holiday Price ($4.99)

Glowfish – 2.99/4.99 (MumboJumbo)

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

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

Galaxy Pirate Adventure Review – An Adventure of Pirates in Space

Are you looking for a free roam space exploration game? Get Galaxy on Fire 2. If not, read on and find out about Galaxy Pirate Adventure [by Sunfish Studio], available on the iTunes Store for $4.99.

GPA is, exactly as the name implies, an adventure about pirates. In space. You are the son of the great Pirate King Alexander and it is time for you to make your mark on the world! The story unfolds in cut-scenes through text boxes – no voice acting here. For the most part it’s well-told, but suffers from occasional issues that have become the hallmark of mis-translations.
The game boasts a 40+ hour campaign and I can believe that – having already sunk more than 20 over the last few days. Without spoiling anything, the plot so far has been easy to follow and the story is interesting enough, albeit not very deep. I suspect this is intentional though, as progress is constantly broken up by side missions.

Looking at the screenshots, you may be forgiven for thinking that the game takes place in an open-world setting, like the aforementioned Galaxy on Fire – and a lot of users on iTunes have made that mistake already. Here’s how it works: there are spaceports (40, in fact) that you travel between. At each one, your ships hang outside and you are free to look around at the absolutely gorgeous scenery. To avoid confusion, while panning around you can find icons indicating nearby planets as well as one to “dock”. Inside each station you will find find options to modify your fleet, a market, missions and a factory where you can order ships or buy equipment for them.

Purchasing new ships has been a mixed experience for me – you need to raise the cash required, as well as find enough materials. You only get these from missions and more than once I’ve wondered why I can’t just buy the scarce ones with the comparatively limitless cash. It’s a small nuisance though.

There are 6 different tiers of ship – each of which has a distinct size, range, power and slots for weapons and equipment. These slots allow for some great customization. Do you want your ship to be faster, or have more armor? Missiles or lasers?

Missions come in four different flavors: Smuggling (where you ferry goods between spaceports), Robbery (taking ships down to acquire special goods), Mercenary (doing others’ dirty work for them) and Story missions which are a blend of the others.

The combat missions are the only time you get to control your ship and this is where things get interesting. On the left there are buttons for switching targets (the game automatically lock onto the ship of your choice), approaching or moving away from your target. Range is crucial, as different weapons can have different ranges.
Once you’ve equipped your ship, weapon icons will appear in a neat row on the bottom. But the enemies aren’t there for target practice, and will shoot back. Fortunately, you have a shield. Unfortunately, it draws a large chunk of your energy. Each shot draws some energy from the same pool, so the combat becomes an interesting game of cat-and-mouse where you approach the enemy, take a few potshots, and retreat out of firing range to recover.

The enemy AI is effective, but occasionally predictable. They will shield when you fire and will consistently try to chase you down. I found the higher tiers of ships much more aggressive though, so the combat doesn’t feel bland as you might think from a curt description.

In short, I played the heck out of this attractive-looking game and still haven’t reached the end. The customization depth is staggering and potentially significantly changes the battles. If you’re interested in a lengthy adventure (in space, no less) that’s a little out of the ordinary, for iOS at least, don’t hesitate to give it a shot. Well worth the price of admission.

P.S. Do you find yourself forgetting where everything is? Check out this handy guide.

Warm Gun – 4.99 (Emotional Robots)

Multiplayer games on mobile devices have become a pretty big deal, especially within the first and third person shooter genres. I remember starting off with Eliminate, then moving onto Archetype, Exo-Planet, NOVA and Modern Combat. Now multiplayer fanatics have a new title to obsess over; Warm Gun by Emotional Robots, the first to use the Unreal Engine and it’s amazing graphics capabilities.

When Warm Gun was first released, it had quite a few framerate issues, making the game almost unplayable, even in it’s offline mode, but the developers over at E.R. released a patch updating the performance extremely quickly, and now gamers have a semi-playable version to blast away and talk smack through, though it still needs some performance tweaking, and because of that, it’s pretty hard to find someone online to play with. Not to worry though, because the Emotional Robots dev team is still hard at work to optimize the game and are trying to make it run as smooth as possible before doing anything else in regards to adding content.
You are able to play on or off line. In offline mode, you are able to choose between 5 different environments, each with different places to hide, open areas to battle it out, and different stories to climb up to and jump down from. You are also able to choose between 4 different characters; The 49’er, who has a pistol, shotgun, and Molotov cocktail. The Blacksmith, who has a HUGE hammer, massive machine gun, and exploding cans. The Shaman, who is equipped with an electrocution stick, SMG, and exploding bottles, and last, but not at all least, The Preacher, who wields dual pistols, a riffle, and also has exploding bottles. Each of the characters has their own strengths and weaknesses, and which one you pick and get comfortable with will depend on your style of play, but rest assured, there is a character for you. Offline Mode runs very smooth, and is a great place to learn the maps, and each of the different characters, and until the multiplayer mode picks up, and more players get online, as well as the framerate issues get fixed, you can expect to play in Offline Mode quite a bit.
Online Mode is the same for Offline Mode, except which map you play in is chosen by the game, and where you will see the biggest issue for the Emotional Robots team; lag/framerate isues. Because of the framerate issues, it makes it very hard to play online. Your character will jump around quite a bit, and dying when there is no one in front of you, and then all of a sudden a character appears there after you die is a very common occurrence. Also something that most players do not like about online play is that you are not given any stats after your match, so you’ll have no idea what your kill/death ratio was, or anything like that. However, one thing I was very glad to see is that there is no leveling up or experience points in the game, meaning that no matter who you’re matched up with, the game starts out on a level playing field. You will never have to worry about being matched with level 10 or 20 characters while you are a level 1 or 2, or anything like that, so once the issues are fixed, and there’s people actually playing online (as of now, you might be able to find one or two people playing online every 8 or 9 times you start up the game), the online play could really be something special. Also, online battles go through GameSpy, and not through GameCenter, which is better than great news, as GameCenter multiplayer matching is hell to deal with, and GameSpy servers are prepared, and stable enough to handle the onslaught of players that Warm Gun is expected to have in the future.
So, now to the graphics. As always, using the Unreal Engine results in some amazing, console-like graphics. The shadowing is great, and offers nice places to hide, the buildings and objects all have some amazing textures, and everything in the game has quite a bit of detail. The smooth running offline play is something you could feel great about showing off to your friends, and gives hope that more talented developers will start using the Unreal Engine in the future, as it really makes the long loading times and basic looking graphics of Game Salad and other engines pale in comparison.
For controls right now, there are 3 options. One joystick, dual sticks, or 3 joysticks, and all are able to use swiping on the screen to move, as well as tapping on the screen to fire. You can hold down the second or third joystick on the last two control options and keep firing while moving your crosshairs with pretty good precision. However, when moving around, and swiping on the screen, once you let go, you will keep spinning a little bit, making the precision for finding a character, stop movement and start firing pretty frustrating. The developers are looking into this though, and are working on implementing more of a Modern Combat type control scheme.
The big question, is Warm Gun worth the price? $5.00 for a Universal version, using the Unreal Engine, and, after the issues are taken care of, and people start actually getting online, what could possibly be the best multiplayer experience, surpassing even Modern Combat 2. It’s probably better to look at is as an investment. The developers are extremely active on the Touch Arcade forums, and are listening to feedback from every member who is posting there. They are hard at work on fixing the performance issues, as well as making the controls nice and tight, and giving players as many control options as they can, giving players the option to start up and host their own games, and adding more content to the game. When it is completed, what you will have is one of the most amazing online multiplayer FPS titles to ever come along on any mobile gaming device. Right now, it’s nice to have it to learn the maps, and characters, in preparation for when the game is stable enough for smooth and solid online play. If you’re a huge fan of multiplayer gameplay, Warm Gun is a must buy. If you’re still teetering on the idea of buying it, you should check out the companion title, Warm Gun: Carnival of Bullets; which is a sort of training course for Warm Gun. In it, you can get use to the controls, check out the brilliant graphics, and get to know the characters. You will not have access to the original title’s maps, but you will be able to get a really good feel for the game. But if you want instant gratification, you might be better off waiting for an update or two.
Warm Gun gets a score of 7 out of 10.
Version Reviewed; Version 1.04
Reviewed On; 4th Generation iPod Touch – iOS 4.3.3