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Number of Results: 22

Review Rewind: Super Drill Panic

Along with Bonpeach’s wonderful arcade title, Explodables, exactly one year ago we also reviewed a great game from a little development company known as Orange Pixel. You might have heard of them. Their title, Super Drill Panic, was released as a FREE game, with ads. There was no IAP for removing ads, but soon after, Super Drill Panic was updated to a paid game, removing the ads, and giving everyone who downloaded the game for FREE, the full paid version. SDP has only received 2 updates since it’s original release, but luckily, it’s not really a game that needed any major updates, and is still one awesome score-chasing arcade game. If you have yet to pick it up, it’s, as you might imagine coming from the amazing OrangePixel Studio, definitely a must own game. 
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.0.
Super Drill Panic is the new retro arcade game from Orange Pixel, the developers of the awesome Meganoid and Time Chaos. In Super Drill Panic, you’ll make your way through 30 Levels along with two Endless Arcade Levels, while collecting coins, to upgrade items in the shop, hammers to smash through platforms, treasure chests that hold letters (spelling out DRILL once you collect all of them in a world), hourglasses that give you some breathing room, key cards that let you open doors, and glasses that make you invisible, all while trying to escape from a huge boulder trying to crush you or the jail bars from coming down on you. 
Orange Pixel caught the attention of many gamers when they released the great platform game, Meganoid. This time, they have stuck with the retro graphics, but tried something new. Super Drill Panic is free. That’s right, free. It has ads, but you can’t complain when you’re not paying anything to play this great game. And it is one great game.
Aside from the awesome retro graphics, you’re given two control options, tilting, and virtual buttons, right on the bottom right side, and left on the bottom left side. I prefer the buttons, as most tilting games get on my nerves, but here, you can make quick turns more easily, and it just plays better while using the button setup. 
Throughout the 30 levels, you’ll encounter 6 different environments, along with 2 more in the arcade modes. Each environment has different colors, and different obstacles, but the goal is always the same. Make it to the bottom of the level without loosing all your lives while collecting as much as you can.
In the shop, you’ll be able to upgrade your hammer, to smash through more platforms, your time, which pauses the boulder longer when you pick up the hourglass, your running shoes, which makes you run faster, another time, which pauses jail, burglar vision, which lets you stay undetected longer, and your key tech, which lets you open more doors.
There’s two different characters available to play with, the female is unlocked after beating the first 15 levels. Each has a different set of worlds to go through, different shops, and different arcade levels. With the male character, you try to make it through caves while stealing the treasure and avoiding the boulder, kind of like a vertical version of hook champ, minus the hook, while with the female you try to escape the building after breaking into a vault, avoiding the bars coming down on you. 
There’s plenty of challenge, as getting a high ranking at the end of each level is pretty decently hard to accomplish. The graphics are Orange Pixel Retro goodness, sounds, music, it all feels like an old-school Nintendo game, filled with action. I do, however, wish that I could get rid of the ad bar on the top of the screen, even if it was with an IAP, as I do feel this game is worth a buck or two. The arcade levels do add quite a bit to the replay value, but once you upgrade all your items, the replay value goes down quite a bit. For free though, it’s an amazing game, and highly recommended.
**Note: Super Drill Panic is now priced at $1.99

Dragon Island Blue [NNT Resonant] – $0.99

Over the last year, we’ve seen quite a few ‘Pokemon’ like games hit the AppStore; Mighty Monsters, Pocket Summoner, Minimon, MinoMonsters and more, with even more slated for future release. MinoMonsters was a decent Pokemon-esque experience, but with some recent updates has pretty much gone down the drain, and no one else has really nailed the different aspects of gameplay. Well, NNT Resonant (Cats Away [$0.99], iGADGET [$2.99], Berzerk Ball [$0.99], GemCraft [$2.99] and Hex Empire [$0.99]) is now taking a crack at the genre with their new release, Dragon Island Blue. 
Dragon Island Blue tells the story of a young boy who’s found a dragon egg, which, for a long time, were thought to be extinct. This starts your journey of collecting, battling, evolving, destroying and mixing over 200 different monsters. Starting off, you’re able to pick a element for your dragon; Earth, Wind, Fire or Water. Like NNT Resonant’s previous release, Cats Away, D.I.B. starts off pretty slowly, requiring quite a bit of ‘grinding’ before you actually get into the real meat of the game, but once you do make it through the slow beginning, the game starts to really shine, turning into one of the best Pokemon-type games available for the iOS. 
When you start off, you’ll only have access to one area. This area contains a main village, a forest, planes, and a cave. Movement is done by tapping on selected areas of the map, with battles popping up randomly. Once you’re in a battle, you’ll have two different options for control. One, lets you select the attack you want to pull off, and then select which enemy you want to attack, while the other has you swipe over the enemy you want to attack in the direction of the arrow on each attack card. 
Depending on which attack you use, you’ll be knocked back in the battle sequence. The battle sequence determines who attacks and when. If you use your regular attack, you’ll be given a lower number, and a higher number for a stronger attack. Each turn that’s made will decrease this number, and once it reaches zero, you’ll be able to attack again. 
There is a bit of strategy within the battle system, given the battle sequence and various attacks that you can use. But also, when you’re thrown into battle, you’ll face an unknown number of opponents. This plays into how you’ll attack each of the enemies. Up to 3 enemies can be on the screen at once, but in the upper right corner is a number showing you how many back-up enemies will appear once you defeat the starting line-up. Not only do these mechanics play a part in the battles, but also which elements your creatures are. Each element has a strength and weekness; Fire beats Earth, Earth beats Wind, Wind beats Water, Water beats Fire. If you’re up against a bunch of Earth creatures, you’ll want to use your Fire creatures more often because even their regular attacks will be stronger that usual. 
As you battle creatures, you’ll also be able to capture them. This is done by purchasing Bronze, Silver and Gold cards in the town’s shop. Each type of card has their own capture percentage when up against creatures, depending on how strong they are. Once you capture a creature, it’s automatically added to your line-up. As you level your main character up, you’ll be able to hold more and more creatures. However, only the creatures that you use while in battle get the experience gained for each fight, so switching out your creatures is something that you should do regularly, or else you’ll just wind up with 3 decently powered creatures, and the rest of them will be very week, pretty much not helping out your team at all. 
If you don’t want to use a creature, once you get back into town, you can destroy that creature, and turn it into a soul stone, which you’re able to attach to another creature. This can be useful, especially if you’ve captured a very low-level creature, or just have duplicates. 
When you level up your character, you’re given a stat point which you can assign to either the defense, attack, magic, resistance, speed or max HP of your creatures. You’re also able to increase the license of your character by battling it out in arenas across the land. After doing this, you’ll be able to attach gems to your character. These gems are available in the shop, or can be won in battle and increase your creatures stats as well. Each license that you earn will add one more slot for a gem. You’re also able to collect totems by completing certain battles. These totems assign a specific creature to your character, able to use a special ability while in battle once each time you leave a town. 
In each town, there are quests you can accept, which reward you with gold and silver, as well as special creatures. Once the quests are explained they go into your quest log. In order to re-read them, all you need to do is tap on the quest again, and you’ll get a full explanation. These quests range from killing or capturing a certain number of creatures to evolving your creatures or taking out a certain creature breeder who’s been causing trouble for the town, and more. There’s a very nice variety within the quests, keeping the gameplay interesting. 
GameCenter is supported, with 3 leaderboards; Collection Percent, Hero Level and Infinite Dungeon, which scores how many levels you can make it through on the endless dungeon. There are also 24 achievements included, which will take some time to complete. Dragon Island Blue contains endless replayability, with the Infinite Dungeon, not to mention the countless hours you’ll be able to spend going through the actual story mode. There is a ton of content in the game, and is easily my favorite Pokemon type game in the AppStore. Right now, NNT is having a launch sale, pricing Dragon Island Blue at $0.99 for a limited time. Soon it’ll shoot up to $2.99. DIB is Unviersal, so no worries about playing in 2X mode on your iPad. If you’re a fan of Pokemon, Dragon Island Blue is a must own game. There’s plenty of depth as well as strategy, and once you get through all the beginning creatures, there are some pretty bad-ass ones you’ll want to try and collect over and over again until you can snag em, building up the best team of creatures that you can. 

Review Rewind: Cubes Vs. Spheres

Cubes Vs. Spheres, the second iOS release of ShockPanda Games, hit the AppStore August 18th of last year. Since then, it’s gone through only two updates, but those two updates added quite a bit to the game. 3 endless survival levels and an extra difficulty, insane, filled with 10 new levels. Each stage offers up a challenge to get a perfect, or star, rating, done by hitting a certain score, and not taking any damage throughout the stage. The endless levels also add quite a bit of replay value, and that’s why it can still be found on both my iPod, and my iPad to this day. The core gameplay is so incredibly fun, that even though all you’re doing is blowing up boxes with spheres, I find myself playing it for hours on end. It’s definitely one title that everyone should check out.
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.0.
Cubes Vs. Spheres is a new 3D physics attack game by ShockPanda Games, creators of Space Bunnies, a personal favorite of mine. In it, you’re job is to fling spheres into cubes, protecting the circled area around your sphere chute. You’re given 30 levels, 10 in each difficulty of Easy, Medium, and Hard. The goal is to blow up cubes as they make their way towards you using different spheres that you can buy in the between levels shop; trying to produce huge combos by hitting cubes with bits and pieces of cubes that your spheres smack into and getting 3 stars, and a P, for “Perfect”, by not letting the cubes hit your area that‘s marked off within a circle. 
The game’s graphics are very minimal, but this makes it so that the engine can handle huge waves of cubes coming at you. The minimal graphics work so well, and look so polished, that it’s hard not to see how impressive they are while you’re playing. The level designs are great, and the structures in which the cubes come off of, and out of once they come towards you get more and more impressive as the move on. I found myself just scrolling around the levels sometimes checking out the structures, not paying attention to the cubes, and ended up with huge waves of them coming at me. It’s really a great looking game. 
You’re given 6 different spheres, that come out of a chute inside of your area. They are selectable at the bottom of the screen, and do not appear until you decide which sphere you want to fling at the cubes. There’s your regular sphere, which you can upgrade to split into 3 and 5 other spheres by tapping on the screen after you fling it at cubes, a fire sphere that explodes on impact into about 8 smaller spheres, a big black sphere that squashes cubes, and can smash through them, hitting cubes behind it, a sphere that locks on to the closest cube to your area, a freeze sphere that slows down cubes, and a decoy that draws cubes to it, exploding after a certain amount of time. You end up unlocking these with credits earned throughout the game, and need to keep buying them in order to use them. This isn’t a real problem though, because you’ll earn enough credits in each level for about 15 different spheres or more, and helps add to the strategic side of the game.
There are only 3 different cube enemies in the game. Red cubes, which you will see a lot of, black cubes, which are mixed in with the red cubes, and are more powerful, and harder to destroy, and sometimes cubes that are almost invisible. There are not very many of the invisible cubes throughout the game, but you will be checking the sides of each level just to make sure you know when they’re there or not. It would have been nice having more types of enemies, maybe enemies that are immune to some of your power-up spheres. Seeing a flaming cube that could melt your freeze spheres ice, or an assassin cube that could take out your decoy would have been awesome. But with the three enemies in the game, you get enough variety to keep you busy, and with the cubes moving differently each time you play the levels, you’ll never have the exact same experience twice. This randomized intelligent movement is great, and coupled with the GameCenter leaderboards, 3 star and P rankings, and achivements, add immensely to the replayability of the game. 
The physics in a game like this are very important, and ShockPanda Games has done an amazing job getting it just right. Seeing each cube explode when it’s hit with a sphere or bits of an exploding cube is awesome, and really nice eye candy and the spheres feel like they actually have some weight to them. The music in Cubes Vs. Spheres is fitting, minimal but kind of catchy, and fits with the atmosphere, but the effects for throwing spheres and hearing them bounce kind of made them sound like hippity hops that were filled to the extreme, and about to blow up. You are given two control schemes, one is tilt to turn, and the other is swipe to turn. Both work very well for this type of game, but there were a couple of times the screen would end up shooting upwards when I tried to fling my ball forward using the swipe controls. Not often, but it did happen. 
I’m giving Cubes Vs. Spheres 4.5 out of 5 stars, because even with it only having 3 different enemies, and experiencing a cube getting stuck way in the back of a level, unreachable, and having to replay that level, it’s an awesome game. Very well made, very polished, challenging, and a blast to play. The replayabilty is off the charts, and it’s one game that will never leave my device. For $0.99, including retina display, and being Universal, it’s a great deal. ShockPanda has definitely put a lot of time and effort into this game, and with them taking part in the Touch Arcade thread, I have no doubt that this game will get even better with only a few updates.

Tread of the Dead [Spencer Cordes] – $0.99

I am constantly amazed by iOS games. Whenever I even so much as start to think that there’s nowhere else for games to go, WHAM. I find myself in the midst of an original and unique type of game that I’ve yet to see in the AppStore, and it’s almost always by an indie developer I’ve never heard of prior to that release. Well, here it is again, another awesome surprise from a new-to-the-iOS-scene, Spencer Cordes first foray into the AppStore, Tread of the Dead. Ready for another surprise? It’s a zombie game. Yeah, that’s not the surprise. It’s a zombie game, and I’m not sitting here wishing it wasn’t. SURPRISE. 
Tread of the Dead is a tilt-based survival game that focuses more on quick thinking and puzzle solving than actual zombie killing and survival. Each stage gives you 3 different weapons to fling at the oncoming zombies, and your goal is to guide these weapons into the various patterns of zombies, slicing each of them in half before you run out of your available gear. 
Starting off, you’re only given chainsaws, which are able to take care of the first patterns, and usually in one go, but as you progress through the game, and the zombie’s patterns get more complex, some swift and skillful tilting will be required in order to destroy all of the zombies. Then you’re given another weapon. Shuriken. These nifty little ninja stars are able to either stay locked together as one zombie killing weapon, or split up into 3 equally separated stars preformed by tapping anywhere on the screen. Pulling this off just right can slice up tightly nit zombies while transforming from one to three stars, but only if timed just right. As you progress even further, you’ll unlock pipe bombs, zombies with bombs strapped to their chests, direction changing machetes and more will help you take out the crazy amount of zombies in even crazier patterns as well as some incredibly tough boss battles. Another fantastic thing that’s been thrown in for good measure is the between-worlds ride where you’ll get a environment specific vehicle to mow down road fairing zombies as you move on to your next location. 
As if that weren’t enough, Tread of the Dead also contains 4 additional gameplay modes, with one being unlocked every time you complete a world in Adventure Mode. These 4 additional modes? Arcade, where you’ll be armed with a never-ending supply of chainsaws to take out an endless amount of zombies. Once a zombie reaches you, it’s game over. Infinisaw lets you tilt a never stopping chainsaw into an endless mass of zombies as a timer runs down. Here, for each large combo you get, more time will be added to the timer. Once it runs out, that’s it. There’s also Vehicular Mode, which lets you chase down zombies while avoiding objects. Gas is given to you for building up large combos, and once you run out of gas, game over. The last mode is Zombified, where you get to take control of a zombie, and play an endless distance game, avoiding all of the objects that come flying your way. 
The graphics and animations are well done, though they are reminiscent of many other Doodle games, they aren’t really cheap looking, but graphics are not this game’s strong suit. However, the animations are great, with nice deaths and cheesy explosions, it’s hard not to laugh, and be drawn into the gameplay even more. GameCenter integration is also included, with leaderboards for each of the Adventure Mode’s 4 Worlds, your Total Adventure Mode Score, and for each of the 4 other gameplay modes as well as 38 great achievements. Tread of the Dead also contains a great in-game stat section where you can check out loads of different stats, and a skin menu, where you can change the colors of all of your weapons once you kill a certain amount of zombies, giving the game even more added replay value. 
Priced at $0.99, being Universal, and with the incredible amount of content, as well as the crazy high replay value, Tread of the Dead is a great buy. Developer Spencer Cordes has also stated that more content is on the way, as well as touch screen controls so that iPad gamers won’t have to deal with the sore wrists that come with tilting your device for long periods of time. There’s also a lite version if you’re still on the fence after reading this, and checking out the trailer. I, for one, definitely hope to see more games come out of Mr. Cordes head. There’s obviously some incredibly good ideas bouncing around up there. 

Flip’s Escape [Shaun Inman] – $0.99

One of the AppStore’s most addictive, and incredibly awesome puzzle platformers has got to be Shaun Inman’s The Last Rocket. With it’s great retro graphics, simple one-touch tap/swipe/hold controls, and fantastic gameplay filled with style, it’s one iOS game that everyone should own. Fans of the game will be happy to hear that Flip the rocket is back, in an all new game, Flip’s Escape, an endless game that takes place after the events of The Last Rocket. 
One thing I should bring up before we start. Flip’s Escape is not a sequel to The Last Rocket. In fact, aside from having Flip as the main character, it’s nothing like The Last Rocket. Flip’s Escape is more of a mini-game when compared to it’s predecessor, but that doesn’t’ mean it’s not worth checking out. Rather than go the Kickstarter route, Shaun Inman decided to take 3 weeks, and throw together an endless game to appease fans of The Last Rocket, and let them in on what Flip had to go through after the ending of the game. The money made with Flip’s Escape is all going to help fund Shaun’s next game. It is nowhere near as depthy or content rich as The Last Rocket, but is a great idea when you look at the alternative. 
Now with that out of the way; Flip’s Escape. There’s one mode contained in the game, but there’s quite a bit of drive and plenty of ‘one-more-go’ gameplay. Flip moves left and right automatically at the bottom of the screen. Tapping anywhere causes Flip to stop moving. The goal of the game is to avoid hitting asteroids while collecting the stars that orbit said asteroids and get as far away as you can from the blast lingering behind you. 
Collecting the stars that orbit the asteroids fills up your star meter. Once you’ve collected 6 stars, it’s WARP time! While you’re warping, if you tap the screen as quickly as you can, you’ll build up your warp meter, and travel further distances. Flip also collects gems while he’s warping, which you can use to purchase and upgrade items in the shop. 
In the shop, there are two cheap consumable items which you can use to get a little further in your travels; the Nose Cone Drill, which lets you survive 1 asteroid collision and the Star Magnet, which attracts 5 missed stars. These are stackable, and you’re able to take 3 of each into each game with you. What’s great is that if you die and you haven’t used up all of the magnets yet, they are carried over into your next game. Also available in the shop is the Speed Inhibitor, which reduces your maximum speed, and the Speed Booster, which, you guessed it, increases your minimum speed. These have a pretty big effect on your warp distances, as the Speed Inhibitor will cause you to not travel as far while warping, no matter how quickly tap, and result in not collecting as many gems, and the Speed Booster will make you travel further while warping, resulting in more collected gems. You might be asking, ‘Well then why even include the Speed Inhibitor?’ – well, the game can be pretty difficult, and avoiding asteroids can be a challenge, and slower movement helps with that, which could wind up getting you further in the long run. It really depends on how you feel about the difficulty of the game as to which booster you choose to purchase. 
Also included in the shop are Friends. These friends are fairly costly, but totally worth saving up for. The Fare earns you 1 gem for every 10 lightyears traveled, and when you’re traveling upwards of 10,000 lightyears each game, that really adds up! The Trailer is your other available friend, tripling the amount of consumable storage space, letting you carry up to 9 of each consumable item. The last items are the Hulls. These are the most costly, priced at 200 and 300 thousand gems, they are purely cosmetic, but do give gamers something to play for after all the other items and upgrades have been purchased. 
The graphics and animations are, of course, totally reminiscent of The Last Rocket. If you love the whole retro 8-bit throwback look, you’ll love the graphics. The background animations are also top notch, with stars racing by leaving little streams of light behind them when traveling fast, and those streams of light disappearing when you stop Flip, it definitely adds to the whole feel of the game. The music is also just like TLR’s chiptune tracks, completing the whole retro feel that Shaun Inman has become so incredibly great at creating. 
So; is Flip’s Escape worth checking for $0.99? While it is Universal, and supports GameCenter, with leaderboards for Furthest Distance Traveled, Furthest Distance With Upgrades, Furthest Distance Without Upgrades, Furthest Distance Without a Collision and Furthest Distance Without Warping along with 20 pretty hard to snag achievements, all adding the typical endless replay value all endless games have, there will be people that this just doesn’t click with. After The Last Rocket, Shaun Inman set a bar, not only for himself, but for future puzzle platformer developers to come. Flip’s Escape doesn’t come close to hitting that same bar, which will upset some gamers and fans of The Last Rocket. However, if you look at Flip’s Escape as more of a great, unique, original endless game that you got as a special thank you for helping to contribute to Shaun Inman’s next video game project, chances are, you’ll totally enjoy it. The challenge is crazy, and with some insanely high scores on the leaderboards already, the score-chasing has already hit full throttle. Hardcore gamers looking for a hardcore endless distance gameplay experience will eat Flip’s Escape up. It has the ‘just-one-more-time’ hook perfectly done, and lets fans of The Last Rocket in on what happened to Flip after the end of the game. With Flip’s Escape only taking 3 weeks to complete, I’m totally stoked to find out what Shaun’s been working on, and is continuing to work on. I just hope we don’t have to wait too long to find out.  

Running With Ninjas [Justin Hogie] – $0.99

Shoot-em-ups. They’ve grown in popularity quite a bit since the introduction of the AppStore and iDevice. The touch controls make pin-point accuracy and quick movements that would otherwise be impossible as easy as dragging your thumb across a 3.5 inch glass screen. However, the 3D, 3rd Person/On-Rails shooter genre has been basically left out of this Shmup Revolution, with only a couple of titles available for the platform; Wizard Ops, Denizen, Dark Break, ExZeus, TheMars, Battle 3D 2: Iron Punch, and the more open-world type game, Battle 3D: Robots Sky. These titles have provided iOS gamers with countless Space Harrier type entertainment. But sadly, aside from these titles, there’s not others for fans of the genre to sink their teeth into. One-man, Australia-based Justin Hogie obviously knows this, but has still taken a wild chance with his first original iOS title, and created another game we can all add to that extremely short list; Running With Ninjas. 

Running With Ninjas is an Endless 3rd Person On-Rails Shooter that puts you in control of a ninja running through the jungle and mountains while being attacked by, and attacking, other ninjas who are bound and determined to take you out. RWN contains one gameplay mode which has you defeating as many ninjas as you can before your health completely runs out. When you start out, you’ll only see 2 different enemies; Red and Green. Red enemies will throw Shurikens straight forward and once defeated, add to your special meter; displayed as writing under your health bar. Green enemies do not attack you, instead, once defeated, they will slightly refill your health bar. As you progress through the world, you’ll soon realize that these are not the only types of enemies. Bosses with strange turtle like shields on their backs, purple enemies that throw Shurikens directly at you, yellow enemies that toss bombs and more will all be after your head, and when all of these different types of enemies are on the screen at the same time, things can get a little hairy. 

Once you defeat a boss, a scroll appears. These scrolls, once collected, give your ninja special powers, and this is where the special meter comes into play. After you collect a scroll, a special power is unlocked. To use this special power, you’ll need to draw a shape in the middle of the screen. This does take some getting use to, and I still think that buttons up the sides of the screen, or easier swipe gestures, like just swiping left to right, or up and down would have been a better fit, especially since the gestures are a little hard to remember, and can take more than a second or two to pull off, that is, if you can pull it off correctly. Each special power requires a certain amount of power from your special gauge. Once you have enough power, you can draw a certain symbol on the screen, and POW, enemies are in for some trouble. 

The controls are fairly simple; you’re given a button for jumping, and a button for throwing your own Shuriken. Moving left and right is controlled by tilting your device. Normally, I don’t think I would have checked out a 3rd Person On-Rails Shooter that was tilt controlled, but the controls in Running With Ninjas fit the game extremely well. Also making it feel even better is the great camera control. When you tilt your device, your character moves, but so does the environment. This makes it a lot easier to focus on the gameplay, and not worry so much about where your character is located in the gameplay area. However, if you’re not comfortable with the tilting environment, you can always turn this option off in the settings menu, making the environment stay level as you tilt. I have experienced some issues with the controls, like an occasionally unresponsive jump button, some jitteriness while moving in the air, sometimes resulting in taking damage when I should have avoided a bomb, and some slight sticking of the character while on the edges of the gameplay area. However, these were all occasional, and not game-breaking by any means. 
The graphics are pretty minimal, with very little details in the environments and characters, however, this does help to make the bright enemies stick out like a sore thumb, making it easier to focus on them while running at full speed through the environments. The animations are well done, with nice enemy appearance and death animations, cool looking special powers, and nice running animations also add to the feel and polish of the game. 

With only one gameplay mode, and some needed tweaks that could make the gameplay a little smoother, not everyone is going to jump on the Running With Ninjas bandwagon. However, if you’re a fan of the genre, and willing to take a chance on a game that has some very solid core gameplay mechanics, for $0.99, you just might be very surprised. In the near future, Justin Hogie has said that GameCenter leaderboards and achievements, as well as possibly another gameplay mode that would revolve around preset challenges and levels, along with some additions to the enemies, stages, and special power scrolls. Hopefully RWN sells well and gets enough attention that these things can be added, because right now, Running With Ninjas shows an extreme amount of promise, and provides some great endless gameplay.

Wispin [Grumpyface Studios] – $1.99/$2.99

I won’t bore you with the excessively long list of games that were released before the inception of The App Shack. Needless to say; it’s LONG. But there are handful of games that will never leave certain iDevices, and games that we’re reminded of when a developer comes out with another iOS release. One of those games happens to be Grumpyface’s Wispin. Wispin was one of the first FREE games I ever got in the AppStore, back in December of 2010, right after I found out that developers actually had days that they would give their games away for nothing. That’s right, I was a slow learner. But once I found that out, I turned into an AppStore junkie, and Grumpyface’s Wispin had remained and been transferred over to every iDevice I’ve owned, and the release of Super Mole Escape has reignited my love of the game. 
Now, just like Bring Me Sandwiches!! and Super Mole Escape, Wispin is a little wacky. Granted, it’s not as totally off the wall as BMS!!, but Grumpyface’s humble roots are definitely showcased within it. Wispin contains 3 separate environments each in 2 different gameplay modes; Standard, which starts you out with 3 lives, and Intense, which starts you out with 1, and further into the hectic, Standard gameplay. 
Containing two control methods, there are two different ways to play the game, and I absolutely love when controls offer up a totally new gameplay experience. When using the tilt control method, Wispin plays a little like Tilt To Live, with color control, and using the virtual joystick plays more like a dual-stick arcade title. 
The main goal is to change the color of Wispin with the color wheel, to match up your color with the enemy’s color, and then smash into them, effectively destroying them. There are 3 different colors you can turn Wispin into; Red, Green and Blue. However, not all enemies follow this set of 3 colors all the time. Occasionally, they will turn purple, yellow, orange, and more, making you avoid them until they turn back into one of the 3 basic colors you can match up with. Wave after wave, Wispin is an endless game, with you trying to survive as long as you can. 
The scoring system helps add to the fantastic gameplay, with perfect rounds and multipliers/combos, reaching for both is essential in scoring big. At the end of each wave, if you did not get injured by one of the evil Bloopers, you’ll get a ‘Perfect Wave’ bonus, and this bonus score increases with each consecutive perfect wave you manage to get. Multipliers and combos are based on a gauge. Once you destroy a Blooper, the gauge is filled, and starts quickly running down. To keep a combo going, you’ll need to destroy another Blooper before the gauge empties again. This gauge can also be filled up to the point where you’ll spin wildly around, bouncing off of everything in a ‘controlled’ sort of chaos that lets you destroy all Bloopers of all colors. 
Along with the spinning power-up, there are items which you’re able to pick up as you make your way through each wave. Cheese that draws Bloopers of a certain color into one area, bombs that take out one color of Bloopers, arrows that you can fling at Bloopers and a special tap power-up, which, once activated, turns Wispin into a blob, disappearing from the gameplay area, and lets you tap on each of the Bloopers, destroying them. The items do stack up when you collect like items, but if you pick up a cheese item when holding arrows, the arrows will be replaced. 
The graphics and animations in Wispin are fantastic. Cartoon-esque environments and character models, which are great by the way, and great explosion/death animations all runs extremely smooth, even on 1st Generation iPod Touch devices. The music and sound effects are great as well, adding to the arcade sound and feel of the whole game. 
Although it could use another gameplay mode and more enemies. Maybe a couple more power-ups, with Wispin priced at $1.99, and $2.99 for the HD build (which has bigger gameplay areas, and re-sized virtual controls), and GameCenter support with 14 separate leaderboards, including boards for highest score in both Standard and Intense Modes on each of the 3 different environments, highest wave reached in each environment, longest survival time in each environment, highest combo and total Bloopers destroyed, as well as 21 hard to snag achievements, there’s endless replay value, and several different ways to play when score-chasing. Since Wispin’s release, Grumpyface has created two more extremely wild and fun titles, both of them getting 5 star ratings in our reviews, but it’s great coming back to Wispin, to see where it all started. It’s a game that was amazing when it was released, and still holds up extremely well a couple years later. I’d definitely recommend it to all iOS gamers, casual and hardcore, and consider it a classic iOS game. 

Super Mole Escape [Grumpyface + Adult Swim] – $0.99

Grumpyface Studios is easily one of my favorite dev teams working on iOS games today. Their previous games, Robot Unicorn Attack, Wispin and Bring Me Sandwiches! are some of the most unique and original titles within their respective genres, and are 3 games that I will NEVER delete from my iDevice. Well, last night, Grumpyface released another title, again, published by Adult Swim, who really can’t seem to do any wrong these days, called Super Mole Escape, an Endless Digger game that has you controlling a mole digging through layers and layers of the earth, trying to escape the fuzz. 
Super Mole Escape  has two separate modes; Single Player and Versus. In Single Player Mode, you’re able to choose between two different moles when you start out, a male and a female, both with different stats; The male has equal Speed, Acceleration and Strength, while the female has less Strength and boosted Acceleration. There are also 5 other moles which you’ll be able to unlock as you gain gems while playing the game. In Verses Mode, you’re able to match up either randomly, or with select friends through GameCenter to play side by side. Both modes are essentially the same; control your mole while trying to reach the furthest distance you can before being caught by the police. Once you are caught by the police, you’re given an option to bribe the judge for 1,000 gems, or take your chance and spin the wheel, where you can either earn extra gems, get a second chance, or get boosters for your next game. In Verses Mode, whoever is caught first looses. There are no second chances given in Verses Mode. 
Aside from the Versus Mode, where the game really shines is in it’s gameplay mechanics. Endless diving games are certainly nothing new within the AppStore, but Super Mole Escape happens to very gracefully out-shine all of them. As you make your way through various environments of the ground below, you’ll be able to collect gems and power-ups. The gems play two rolls in the game; One, collect them to unlock more moles, upgrade your mole’s stats and purchase one-time-use boosters in the shop. Two, to boost. Every time you collect a whole string of gems, your mole will get a speed boost. The more strings you collect, the faster your mole will go, each string giving them an even stronger boost of speed. You’re also able to plow through rocks, enemies and some hazards, which would normally severely slow you down, in the blink of an eye, opening up more power-ups, gems, and special gems to collect. Special Gems are scattered throughout the game. Big and shiny, they’re very hard to miss, but are usually placed in spots that require quick thinking, or a boost of speed in order to collect. But once you collect 3 of them, you’ll get a special Super Boost, which will throw you far ahead of the cop, or your opponent, if you’re playing in Versus Mode. 
There are multiple power-ups to collect as you make your way through the ground; Hammers, which can smash through rocks, as well as smash enemies that have a mission to slow you down, Diggers, which you can ride for a very nice speed boost, plowing through most everything in your path, Rockets, which you can shoot at your enemies, blast through walls with, or shoot at your opponent if playing Versus Mode, Shields, which allow you to take 2 hits without slowing you down, and a Magnet, which draws gems to you. These power-ups are scattered throughout the world in crates. To break them open, you simply need to dig through them. Once you do, an icon with the power-up you’ve collected will sit at either the bottom or the side of the screen (depending on your control scheme), able for use whenever you’re ready. 
Other than rocks, loads of hazards will try and slow you down as you try and escape. Mushrooms which bounce you back a bit, dinosaur skeletons which will chomp down on you, worms, Eskimos, hot lava, spikes, flash freeze devices, and more, will all try and throw a wrench in your escape plans. As you progress, and get deeper and deeper, the hazards become more abundant, and packed together, making the game more and more challenging the further you dig. The separate environments each house their own hazards, and this variety really keeps the game fresh, as you never know which environment is going to come next, or what is around the next set of rocks. 
There are two control schemes; Tilt and Touch. Tilt is pretty self-explanatory, while the Touch Controls let you drag your finger anywhere on the screen to move your mole. Both control options have sensitivity settings, which really helps out, especially when using the Touch Controls on an iPad. It’s great being able to pick your choice of controls, and set it to be as tight or loose as you like so that you can play the game to the best of your abilities. 
Priced at $0.99, being Universal, containing GameCenter leaderboards for Furthest Distance, Total Distance, and most Verses Games Won, as well as having 22 hard to unlock achievements, and 35 in-game objectives which you can do to earn extra gems. There are IAPs, but you can unlock and upgrade everything without purchasing any additional gems, but they are there if you would like to unlock everything right away, or show some extra support to the developers. Grumpyface has made an extremely solid Endless Diving game, one that definitely leaves the rest of the genre in the dust, and sets a new standard for future Endless Diving games to follow. 

Captain Antarctica [FDG/Ideal Bureaucracy] – $0.99/$1.99[HD]

Endless games are a staple of the AppStore. Almost everyone has more than a handful of them, and even if you’re sick to death of all of the endless runner/climber/diver/jumper releases, chances are, there’s at least one or two (or ten) that will never leave your iDevice. Captain Antarctica, FDG’s newest release developed by Ideal Bureaucracy, might just wind up turning into one of those rare titles. At the moment, Captain Antarctica isn’t an Endless Runner, per say. It’s level based. But there is an endless mode coming in a future update. 
You’ll control Captain Antarctica, a penguin who’s on a mission to save his family. After his wife and children were kidnapped, Captain Antarctica decided to team up with a wacky scientist who’s invented an underwater jetpack suitable for a penguin to wear. Now it’s up to you to make your way through 6 different levels, each with a boss battle at the end, and manage to save your wife and kids.
Captain Antarctica is a diver. You’ll need to dive down into the depths of the ocean in order to defeat each level’s boss, and move onto the next one. Fortunately, these 6 levels will take multiple replays in order to beat the bosses. Each time you make it through the stage and down to the boss, you’ll be able to attack him once, knocking off a piece of armor, or injuring him. Also adding to the amount of times you’ll play through each level are objectives. These objectives help you earn coins which you can use to upgrade and buy equipment in the shop. 
There are IAPs included in the game, but these are, like most games, only if you’d like to outfit your character with all of the best gear right when you get the game, or want to show your support for the developer, sending them a couple extra bucks. 
In the shop, you’ll be able to purchase Utilities, including extra health, a better flashlight so that you can see better in the deep dark ocean, rescue buttons, which let you stay alive if you run out of health, and rush kits, which torpedo you down at light-speed. Bonus items are also available to be upgraded. You can increase your booster, upgrade your magnet, get a better shield, or upgrade your portal gun. There’s also cosmetic upgrades for your jet, you can purchase a trash can, flower, fruit, smiley, Soviet and more jets. Unfortunately, none of the jets increase your speed or agility, and are strictly cosmetic, though it would have been great if each of them had stats. 
As you make your way through each level, you’ll be able to collect goldfish and various power-ups while avoiding the wall’s edges, sea urchins, fish, bombs, and other hazards. As you collect the goldfish, you’ll fill up your jet’s booster gauge, which will propel you down to the depths quicker once filled. 
The graphics and animations are fairly polished, though having some better animations for when the penguin collides with objects, instead of just having him flash, and having explosions when you come into contact with bombs, would have been great. The comic strips however, look fantastic, and are one of the definite highlights of the game. The music and effects are a little cheesy, but they fit the game well. 
Captain Antarctica is priced at $0.99 for the iPhone, and $1.99 for the iPad version. There’s not really a lot of content, but with the added objectives, and soon-to-come endless mode, it definitely has a chance of staying on your device for a while, especially if you’re interested in competing on the GameCenter Leaderboards for Total Coins Earned, and Total Distance Traveled. There’s also 32 achievements, adding quite a bit to the replay value. The addition of bosses at the end of the levels is great, and does kind of help the game stand out. However, not really being able to do battle with these bosses is a bit of a let-down. Having the penguin have to attack certain spots at a certain time would have been awesome. But there’s still enough here to keep endless gamer fans happy, and playing until they complete the game 100%. It’s definitely another nice FDG release. I can’t wait to see what they publish next. 

Zombie Bunnies – 0.99 (Lavafish Studios/Coding Design)

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