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Two games enter, one game leaves; or takes home the checkered flag; or gets your download or something like that..
Turborilla has just released a new entry to their ‘Mad Skills’ line up with ‘Mad Skills BMX’. In playing this awesome new kid on the block racer, I couldn’t help but compare with their previously released ‘Mad Skills Motocross’ title, and thought I would size them up against one another.
To be honest, I am not going to pick a ‘winner’ out of the two; just provide some similarities and differences, and pros/cons between the two as they are both two of my favorite games on my iPad and iPhone, as this genre has always been one to pique my interest out of all the craziness of titles that make up the AppStore.


Let’s get the big one out of the way, the controls. Mad Skills MotoX provided buttons for throttle/brakes, an un-realistic ‘jump’ button (one of which, I almost never used and still faired quite well on each Division), and most importantly, buttons for lean. There were also options in MotoX for Tilt to lean, and configurable throttle button locations (left/right) and a exclusive option to move the entire control scheme to the center.
In BMX, you still have the option to move the pedaling from either the right/left side. The first thing I noticed was the ‘Tilt to Lean’ on/off radio buttons. When off, I guess I’m kinda ‘slow’ to pick it up, but the tilting was done by swiping in the direction you wanted to tilt. This was quite difficult to master, but by the time I was mid-way through the ‘Intermediate’ division, I had it nailed. You just have to swipe gently/forcefully to get the lean desired.

BMX does not have buttons for anything as it is entirely swiping. My first thought was, well, I didn’t get it, considering how masterful their previous buttons worked on MotoX. The more I played with BMX’s swiping method, the more it jived, and it works…awesome. The key is to not only swipe for the intended outcome, but hold your finger on the screen at the end of the swipe. You swipe down to gain speed on downslopes and to crank wheelies through whoops, swipe up to jump, and contrastingly down to come down quick once airborne. One essential thing for me was to really utilize that down swipe to gain speed on whoops and downslopes. Both games allow you to throwdown back/front flips, but with BMX, you do so by swiping sideways as opposed to hitting the lean buttons on MotoX.
Both BMX and MotoX have very different control schemes, and for their respective games, work perfect.

BMX puts you on one of the bevy to choose from bmx bikes and has you pedaling and flipping through some of the more spot on physics I have come across on the genre. The realism is out of this world and the retina graphics support that feel as they are as lush and gorgeous as they come. Mad Skills MotoX has seen its share of updates, thankfully, and the graphics are not quite as gorgeous as found in BMX, but they are still top notch. When considering wipeouts, MotoX provides ragdoll crunching animations, where in BMX, the riders are a little more stiff. I see the BMX animations as being more realistic, but the MotoX crashes are probably more fun to admire.

Turborilla has perfected the ability to allow you to get good with their game progressively, and the difficulty curve is among the best I have seen in any games. In MotoX, there are five(5) divisions, with Division 5 being the easiest. The welcomed option found in MotoX is that they included both an ‘Amateur’ and ‘Pro’ difficulty settings, for all divisions, with the former designed for casual players, and the Pro settings for a little more challenge. In MotoX, your competitor could always be seen taking a nasty wipeout allowing you to crank past them with ease and take home the checkered flag. Not so in BMX. The Difficulty in BMX is stiff. Not overly stiff. This time, Turborilla labeled their divisions more accordingly with the first division titled ‘Novice’ and the last being ‘Pro’. BMX however, does not include the option as found in MotoX, for amateur or PRO. This had me replaying some tracks several times over, as to progress to the next Division, you have to take at least 4 wins in your current division.

Another thing to note is that in MotoX, a separate ‘Time attack’ mode exists allowing you to race your previous time, and also includes a ‘Replay’ option in this mode so you can watch your race.
Both games also include the Reset button at the top of the screen, which immediately sends you back to the starting gate.

The tracks in both BMX and MotoX are superb, and ramp up in perfect correlation with your current division and stage/level in the division. The Tracks seemed longer in MotoX than in BMX, and even appear to take longer to complete, but maybe that is because that is true to life. BMX tracks are not long whereas MotoX tracks are the opposite. The obstacles you encounter are sick, and only getting more badass as you progress. What I found best about BMX’s tracks was that there was not one perfect sequence to crank out through the jumps, as in MotoX I was typically hitting the same jumps or rolling over them similarly as I did on the first lap. BMX gave me more freedom to decide what I wanted to roll over, and what I wanted to huck off.
BMX comes with 40 tracks, with no options (currently of course) to purchase additional ones, whereas MotoX currently has 52 tracks in the game, 20+ free downloadable tracks, and a lot of purchase-able really cool and funky tracks as well, that are well worth the extra .99cents to unlock.
One thing I immediately noticed was that in MotoX your point of view/camera angle is a lot further out than as found in BMX, allowing you to see what’s coming up a lot easier than in BMX as in BMX the camera is slightly more zoomed in.

Turborilla does a fantastic job in providing us with cool bikes to choose from, even if we have to pay for some of them. MotoX has 28 bikes, with 6 of them to choose for free, and the rest unlockable at .99cents each. BMX has 10 bikes, with 5 of them to choose for free. One of the funniest out of both games, was ‘The Hound’  in BMX which looks like a dude in a Dog suit with an overgrown head. Too funny.

Both games are Universal, and are priced at a buck. Personally, I found the BMX to be slightly more difficult, and therefore more of a challenge and more engaging. The swipe controls take a bit to get used to, but really, it flows perfectly after only a few races. Turborilla has noted in their app description ‘Tons of Updates to Come’, (ie. GC achievements) and judging by the fact they updated MotoX just a few days ago, I know they have a lot of great things in store for us
Weighing all the things I noted, do yourself a favor; if you don’t have MotoX yet, just buy them both! They play differently enough that you will be entertained by either for quite some time. I have had Mad Skill Motocross on both my devices since its release as it is just mad fun, and I know without question that BMX will remain as well.

Check out this Hilariously original Mad Skills BMX trailer below.

Mad Skills BMX Download

Mad Skills Motocross Download

Avenger [CWA Games] – $1.99

Castlevania influenced games are basically non-existent within the AppStore, so when CWA Games (one of the biggest mobile development teams in China) released their first iOS title, Avenger, fans of the niche genre jumped at the chance to check it out. Judging from the trailer, the gameplay looks solid, but the grammar looked like it might have been translated by Google, which, if you’ve used ‘Google Translate’, you know is pretty horrendous, and for a lot of gamers, bad English translation is enough for them to stay away from a game. 
Demons have built a castle in the human world, and are trying to take it over. You’ll play as Cyprus, a prince who has the abilities to save the world. Throughout the game, you’ll be chasing the Devil Queen and searching for the Castle of Shadows. The grammar throughout the game does take away from the story, as it’s kind of hard to understand exactly what’s going on, and is made worse by how quickly the text appears and disappears during the cut scenes. 
Unlike Castlevania, there is no real exploration or backtracking, which is unfortunate. A game in the same vein as Castlevania feels kind of incomplete when it’s so linear. The combat system is fairly simple, with one button for attacking, and then two icons in between the joystick and attack+jump buttons for special attacks. You are able to execute different attacks depending on where your joystick is placed. For instance, an attack that flings you up into the air is done by holding up on the joystick and pressing the attack button, while holding back on the joystick and pressing attack will make you do a backflip attack. 
As you progress through the game, you will gain experience which upgrades both your character and your current weapon. When your character advances a level, his Hit Points, Magic/Mana Points, Attack and Defense all increase, while with a weapon, the attack power increases and you’re able to assign a special attribute, like extra attack points, more experience earned, and things of this nature, but you have to pay to ‘enchant’ your weapon. This is where most of the gold that you collect from killing demons will go. But once you enchant your weapon 3 times, it will receive a special ability, like increased agility, or increased attack strength for the first couple of hits in a new room, and more.
You will also be picking up other items as you make your way through the game. More powerful swords are awarded each time you beat a boss, HP and MP bottles will fall from treasure chests and enemies, and scrolls which send you back to Twist Space which is where you’ll be able to enter different mirrors which take you to different sections of Avenger’s world. Here, you can go to previously beaten areas, and purchase potions, weapons, and scrolls. 
Avenger’s gameplay is great for those of you looking for a Castlevania themed button masher. But the gameplay doesn’t really overshadow all of the issues. The framerate could be smoother. It’s not as bad as it looks in the trailer, but it’s not smooth by any means. Like Casltevania, you’re only able to save at certain spots throughout the game. This wouldn’t really be a bad thing, except that this is a mobile game, and for some reason, the game quits whenever your device goes into sleep mode, or you get a phone call, which means you could be loosing quite a bit of progress fairly often. 
All of this, coupled with the grammar issues makes Avenger a hard game to recommend. But with so few Castlevania inspired titles in the AppStore, it’s also hard not to recommend. If you can deal with some funky grammar, a low frame rate, and making sure that you save before taking a call or having your device go into sleep mode, Avenger is a game you should definitely check out. The graphics are fantastic, with awesome character and enemy sprites, and vibrant environments. The animations are also great, even with the low frame-rate.
Right now, Avenger is on sale for $0.99 instead of it’s normal price of $1.99. There is no online leader board or achievement support, which does take a little bit away from the game, but the game is fairly large, and side-scrolling RPG hack-n-slash games aren’t really known for their replayablity. If you’re a fan of the genre, or are looking for another title to add to the Castlevania type games on your iOS device, Avenger is a great one to own. Those of you who are very picky with your English grammar and buttery smooth frame rates might want to pass. Hopefully an HD or Universal version will be released in the near future, as playing in 2X mode on the iPad looks pretty pixilated, but considering this is the first iOS release from CWA Games, and how big they are in China with Java and Android titles, I’m putting complete faith that they will come out with an update very soon with some of these issues fixed.

‘Paper Monsters Review’ – Bringing Mario Style Gameplay to iOS

Paper Monsters is a highly polished platformer in the vein of classic games like Super Mario Bros.  The graphics are spectacular and are reminiscent of Little Big Planet.

Gameplay: 5/5
As is typical of platformers your objective is to go from the left side of the stage to the finish line at the far right of the level.  Foreground and background objects are worked into the equation, allowing for a sense of immersion. As you move across the level you run into enemies and natural occurrences that can harm you.  To transfer to another part of the level all you have to do is jump into a pipe which is obviously a throwback to the Mario Bros.  Through these pipes you can travel to the platforms in the background making it a little more complex when trying to get to a specific spot.  You will usually be rewarded for your exploration by a golden paperclip, one of three that can be found in random places around the level.  Also found around the level are gold coins and treasures. Gold coins can be found in present boxes and can be redeemed in the in-game shop. Treasures, are also found in present boxes and if found give you an achievement from Gamecenter.  Another nifty feature is the ability of your hero to change into a specific vehicle once he enters a gold pipe. For example, later in the game you can use a small yellow submarine to navigate the underwater portions of the level.  This vehicle is not allowed to be brought outside of these specific stages. There is also a small endless runner mini game found in the main menu that allows you to collect coins without having to go through a full level. 

Controls: 4/5
You can choose one out of two types of control: Virtual Joystick or Classic Touchpad. Virtual Joystick is a 4 direction joystick that is fairly versatile and tight.  Whenever you touch the left side of the screen it reappears if you happened to lift up your thumb.  This can be fairly annoying if trying to get a jump exactly right, but works wonderful for everything else. Classic Touchpad is my personal favorite because of the fact that it is immovable and to walk you just slide your finger across it in the direction you want to go.  To jump you just tap the left side of the screen and to double jump you tap twice.  

Length: 3.5/5
The game spans a total of 4 chapters which each have four levels making for a total of 16 levels overall.  I have reached Chapter 3 and gained three golden paperclips for each level. So far it has been a breeze to pass through the levels and have never really needed to restart a level due to error. The difficulty never really feels like it ramps up.  A new Valentines Day themed level pack is scheduled to be released sometime in February. 

Overall: 4/5
Overall, Paper Monsters is a great platformer with throwbacks to both Super Mario Bros. and Little Big Planet.  The music and the art direction are superb and really bring together the whole experience. Though it may be a little content light the developers seem adamant to push out new updates constantly. Definitely a steal at $0.99.

Worms Party Review – 0.99

Worms. They are absolutely repulsive creatures used only to gross out people and to be placed in your parents spaghetti. But they seem to be used often as cute protagonists so I guess they have something going for them. 
In this new worm filled adventure you star as a worm with a rocket on its back. Unfortunately at the party you are sleeping at, three jokesters light the rocket on your back causing you to be brutally propelled out of the window and into the world. It is your job as the player to take control of the worms path and make sure he doesn’t hit any obstacles on his flight. This is accomplished by taping the upper or lower part of the screen. By tapping the bottom of the screen you dive into the ground and by tapping the upper part you jump to avoid obstacles.  Obstacles are placed in various different locations, requiring you to think fast to avoid making the wrong move. Some are embedded halfway in the ground allowing you to either jump or dive to avoid them while others take up all of the above ground area.  Unfortunately after you have played through a few games all of the obstacles become fairly easy to avoid and not even your ever-increasing high speed makes these any more deadly. Also no new obstacles are introduced later in your never ending run so you can get bored of them easily. Also scattered among the level are power-ups which can do one of three things. Either give your worm another life, a helmet, or let him destroy anything in his path. You lose life’s by running into obstacles so its always a good idea to pickup a health or a helmet  pick-up.
By completing certain pre-determined missions you can unlock new rocket types which don’t really do much other than look cool. If thats incentive enough for you to play hours and hours of this game then you really need to find something better to do with your time.  Another annoying feature of this game is its achievment system. They choose to use something called Kiip points. Apparently you can redeem these Kiip points for real world items from certain companies. This system miserably fails for this game as you can only use them for Kodak pictures and is a big nuisance when playing the game.

Overall this is a sub par endless runner which feels like a rip off of Tiny Wings and the original Worms franchise. I give it a 1/5.

Flip Riders – 0.99 (POWapp)

Side-scrolling racers have become pretty popular among iOS gamers over the last couple years. They seem to have a perfect amount of casual gameplay mixed with enough challenging high-score chasing to keep almost all gamers satisfied. The genre seems to be growing, though very, very slowly. Generally, with each new addition to the genre, there will be a little upgrade with graphics, some tweak in the gameplay, maybe an added power-up, but never really a huge jump like what POWapp has done with their latest release, Flip Riders. In this side-scrolling, star collecting racer, awesome graphics, tight controls, and some amazing physics have totally set a new standard for the side-scrolling racer genre.

Right now, there are 30 levels spread out across 6 different environments, with 3 stars to earn in each level, and each new environment can be unlocked with every 10 stars you earn. Stars are given to you depending on how many you snagged throughout each of the levels. 100% of the stars in the level will give you 3 stars, between 50% and 99% of the stars will give you 2 stars, and less than 50% of the stars will earn you 1 star. Once you unlock a new world, you can play all 5 of the new tracks in any order you like, so if you get stuck on one in particular, you can skip it and come back to it later, or even skip it all together, going through the rest of the game before coming back to it so long as you get 10 stars collectively throughout the other levels in the world. There are also 5 different characters to start out with, along with 5 more characters that you can unlock, each one becoming available once you open up another world. Each of the original 5 riders you’ll be able to use when you first start up the game has an experience bar that fills up as you progress through the game. This adds quite a bit of replay value, as filling up all of the riders bars will require you to play through the whole game with each of the riders. Something that would be nice to see would be stats and experience bars for the unlockable riders in a future update.
The controls are nice and tight, and there’s a panic button included, which uses points that you’ve earned by doing jumps, flips, and collecting the stars that are scattered throughout the levels, to slow down time, giving you ample time to re-align your rider before hitting the ground. This is more of a nice little addition to the game in the beginning, but once you reach the middle and late levels, you will constantly need to use the panic button in order to land in quite a few situations, multiple times in each level. However, if you press it too late, chances are you’ll just slow down time so that it takes you longer to smash into the ground. It’s good to press the panic button when you’re about three quarters of the way through your jump. The panic button is placed on the right side of the screen, along with your gas, break/reverse, and jump buttons. This could be seen as a problem if you need to make a very precise jump, needing to hold down the panic button and the jump button at the same time, but when you let go of the panic button, it takes a couple seconds for time to speed back up again, so tapping on the panic button will give you just enough time to re-align your rider, and pull off a jump before time speeds back up. On the left side, there is a slider that re-positions itself whenever you place your finger on the left side of the screen. If you’re more used to using tilt controls to pull off flips in side-scrolling racers, they have included accelerometer controls as an option as well.
As for the graphics, Flip Riders is one of the best looking, if not the best looking, side-scrolling racer I’ve got for my iPod. The environments are all easy to tell apart, the objects in-game are nice and polished, and the animations for everything are done very well. There’s also a graphic of your rider in the center of the bottom part of the screen, giving you a sort of close up view of them while they’re pulling off tricks and jumping around. It’s little additions like this that makes Flip Riders graphics stand out as some of the best in the genre. POWapp has done an amazing job creating a very polished, professional looking game.
But, we all know that graphics are far from everything when it comes to gaming. Physics on the other hand, can make or break a game from the first seconds of gameplay, and Flip Riders has some of the best physics of any side-scrolling racer I’ve ever played. The rag doll physics along with a perfect feeling of weight for the racers helps create some extremely smooth gameplay. The objects in the world however, do not really have much weight, as you’re able to push trucks off to the side, and sometimes sharks hit bridges and flop around like little stiff fish, but the racers bikes and the way they interact with most objects in the levels, like the bridges, ramps, loops and hills is all pretty damn close to perfect.
With Flip Racers having all of this going for it, it’s pretty hard to find any reasons why people would not like the game. But there are a few things that people might not like. The game can be extremely challenging. Almost every level will take multiple play throughs, each time getting a little further, being able to see what the next obstacle in the level is, only to smash right into it, miss-time a flip, speed into a hazard, or not have enough speed to make the next jump, resulting in you needing to start all the way back at the beginning of the level, needing to go through all the obstacles you already spent quite a bit of time trying to get through already. Dying 20-30 times in one level can be a fairly common occurrence, and the fact that each of the levels almost requires you to memorize them in order to make it through them can take away quite a bit of fun from the gameplay. This does, however, add an insane amount of replayabilty to the game, as it’s not something you can just fly through, and once you do get through it, you’ll have plenty of stars to go back and try and snag. It’s comparable to Reckless Getaway in this challenging, needing to memorize, multiple plays kind of gameplay that POWapps has incorporated into Flip Riders. But, for a lot of gamers, this is the icing on the cake, and can be a huge reason why they’ll end up loving the game. It just depends on your preferences. However, making it so that players can see further ahead of them would help out immensely, maybe being able to zoom out a little bit would help a lot of casual players not get so frustrated with the difficulty of the game.
Right now, Flip Riders is $0.99, but that’s a launch price, and will go up on October 23rd. The game is Universal, and does have GameCenter integration with 13 different leader boards, one for the total score of each world as well as one for the total times for each world, and an overall score leader board. There’s also 21 achievements that will take quite a bit of skill to unlock. This, on top of the already insane amount of replay value makes Flip Riders a no-brainer MUST buy for fans of the racing genre. There’s also a bit of platforming elements added, with the jump button, and it can sometimes feel like a mix of a racer and Sonic the Hedgehog, which is not very surprising, as the developers first game was a platformer, by the name of Shadow Candy: Sugar Rush. POWapps has definitely raised the bar within the side-scrolling racer genre, and with games like this, jAggy Race and Dream Track Nation, the future of side-scrolling racers is looking exceedingly bright.
Flip Riders gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Idyllic – 1.99 (FatCow Games)

In a world of crime, genocide, and developers that integrate in app purchases there is little room to relax.  Even our gaming experiences are stressful like Gears of War 3 or RAGE. Idyllic by Fatcow Games fills that hole with relaxing tilt-based gameplay that is easy on the eye and aesthetically pleasing to boot.
First things first, this is by no means a vertical jumper like DoodleJump and its millions of clones. You jump horizontal in Idyllic which can be a bit trickier as more precision is needed but is a welcome change.  Similar to its predecessors the gameplay is in fact infinite so you are getting your moneys worth by investing 1.99 in it.  But where it differs is in the character upgrades, upgradeable powers, mini bosses and coin collecting.

When you first start off the gameplay is a little slow and it takes awhile to get to where you feel comfortably challenged by the gameplay. In fact, most of my main deaths occurred early in the game because I tend to over tilt.  The reason why I say early in the game is because there are checkpoints in the shape of houses placed randomly along the course of the game. The game saves your progress there and whenever you die or accidentally lose battery power you always restart at that particular part.  That means no drudging through the same platforms over and over again to get back to the point you were before. I haven’t got far enough to really test the infinite gameplay aspect of the game but rather than spending all of my life playing Idyllic I’m going to take the developers word on this one.  After you bounce on a platform it changes from evil to good. Apparently you are on a quest after you find your world in pain to restore your planet to the way it used to be.  Later in the game it of course speeds up and gets harder to be sure you’ll land your jumps successfully.

At each checkpoint you can buy upgrades with the coins you find randomly strewn about the level.  These upgrades vary between increasing the value of your coins and allowing you to double jump in the game.  This adds a extra element of replayability to the game as you will have a extra objective rather than just jumping around aimlessly.  Your two basic abilities are power smash and flap.  With Power Smash you can come crashing down on a platform or enemy to procure coins reminiscent of Mario.  Flap allows you to grow wings and float over to a platform in case you misjump.  These abilities recharge over time and one of the upgrades is in fact to reduce the time it takes to recharge.

The music is fantastic and has a deep relaxing melodic feel to it that draws you into the game.  The graphics are good particularly the backgrounds which feel like they had a lot of work put into them. Overall this is a great casual endless jumping game that really drew me in and had me playing for quite some time.  If you have some spare change on your account there is no better place to spend it than on Idyllic. I give it 9/10

Pocket Warriors – 2.99 (Rainbow Game)

Pocket Warriors is a new 2D side-scrolling action-RPG from Rainbow Game. You’re able to switch between two characters while you play, making the gameplay a little more interesting. It’s your job to keep the village safe from incoming monsters and enemies, while becoming stronger warriors. The game kind of plays like a 2D version of Monster Hunter, which isn’t really a bad thing at all. Rainbow Game has pulled it off quite well.

The controls for the game are simple, but work perfectly. You’re given movement buttons, left and right, which you don’t need to constantly pick your thumb up from to change directions, and 3 buttons, an attack, guard, and switch character button. To enter the stores, upgrade shops, or quest sections, the attack button changes to an enter button. Graphics-wise, Pocket Warriors is done in a professional manor, and looks very polished. The environments are varied, and there’s 15 different enemies along with huge bosses that are designed extremely well, along with pretty nice animations.
You start off in the village, and can talk to four different characters. An item storage lady, upgrade blacksmith, weapon shop panda, and the elder who hands out your quests. The quests need to be done in order, and each gives you a certain amount of gold when completed. To do the quest, you exit the village, and are taken directly to where you need to be in order to complete it. The quests are generally one of two options, kill X amount of enemies, or kill a boss. However, the lack of variety when it comes to the quests isn’t really a big deal, as you’ll need different strategies and items to defeat each different enemy, as well as each of the bosses. Combat is simple, with the attack and block buttons, you can also equip magical items up under your character avatars in the top left corner. These magical items can be bought in the shop, and do not drop during battle. More slots can be bought with the money you earn doing quests. Bosses do give off elemental items each time they’re knocked down, and you can use these to upgrade your weapons. There’s no exploration, no mixing items, or searching for other items, everything can be bought in the shop or won through a boss battle. There’s also loads of different weapons to buy and upgrade, each with different attributes and qualities.
The second character AI is pretty upsetting though. Sometimes the second character will hardly move at all, but when they do, they attack at about half the speed as when you’re doing the attacking, and almost always let enemies harm them. Being able to set up what you want a character to do, like in Final Fantasy, to attack, block, or just use the magical items, would have made the second character combat a lot better.
With 36 quests, each taking a couple minutes, some taking 4 or 5, the game doesn’t have very much gameplay, but it’s set-up in a way that new levels and quests can be added with updates pretty easily, so I’m really hoping for these types of updates in the future, and some tweaking of the second character AI is needed to really be helpful too. A scoring system would also be a very nice feature to see in the future, as well as online services, including leaderboards and achievements. It would also be extremely nice to see some defensive qualities added to the shops, for instance, some upgradeable armor, and shields Aside from this, Pocket Warriors is a great monster killing quest game, and what it has is done extremely well. For $2.99, it’s well worth having if you’re into the genre. For Rainbow Game, Pocket Warriors has definitely helped them make their mark on the action RPG scene, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting future updates, and future games from the company.
Pocket Warriors is getting a score of 8 out of 10.

Dragon Of The Three Kingdoms – 0.99 (WaGame Technology)

Dragon Of The Three Kingdoms is a new side-scrolling beat-em-up/hack-n-slash/action RPG from WaGame Technology. In it, you play as Zhao Yun as you battle against the Nanman Barbarians. The game really reminds me of Dynasty Warriors, but in a side-scrolling, old-school format. The graphics are awesome, and very reminiscent of the SNES/SEGA era, and the animations are great. Walking looks kinda funny, but it’s not distracting, and the fighting animations are very smooth and presented very well.

The controls in DOTTK are tight, responsive, and very easy to use. You move Zhao Yun with a joystick in the bottom left corner, and have an attack button on the bottom right side of the screen, with a skill attack button next to it. When you fill up your attack bar under your health bar, another button appears next to the skill button, and stays there until you tap on it. In that same area is where you tap to ride horses, and elephants. Turning around quickly to fight off enemies that swarm around you is very easy to do, and you’re never stuck mashing on the screen trying to turn around in a hurry so you don’t loose a bunch of health.
Right now, there is one pretty major bug/issue. Whenever you die, and try to retry from the last checkpoint, everything on the screen becomes unresponsive. The developers have said that they’re working on a fix for this, but it seems like this is something that should have been dealt with during some beta testing. It is a shame that if you die, you need to exit the game, remove it from your multitasking bar, and re-start from the beginning of the level, instead of at the last checkpoint. Hopefully the developers get this issue fixed soon, because it’s a pretty major bug.
Aside from that, the gameplay is pretty good. You go through the levels, hacking and slashing away at enemies. If you press the skill button, the action pauses, so you can take your time choosing which skill you’d like to use given the current situation on the screen. There’s vases, crates, and treasure chests scattered throughout the levels, each dropping gold, health, and flags. You can use the gold to buy accessories in the shop between levels, and the flags to use your skills. The enemies also have an item drop rate that’s reasonably decent, and sometimes you’ll come across a full meal that restores your health fully. However, in order to use a skill or your special attack, you’ll need to press forward on the joypad while pressing the buttons, and this can get pretty frustrating during hectic battle sequences.
There are also some power-ups, but these drop rates are pretty low. Some will give you stronger attacks, some will increase your defense, and things like that. You level up while progressing through the game, but another thing I would have liked to see is the health refilled when you level up. Right now, leveling up doesn’t really do anything but give you another attack and defense point, which in the battle sections, doesn’t really help too much. There are bosses at the end of each level, and defeating them can sometimes prove to be quite the challenge. But it’s not overly difficult, and reminds me of old-school beat-em-up games.
Dragon Of The Three Kingdoms does have a lot of content, especially for being $0.99. It’s a solid action RPG, with the addition of side-scrolling levels, and is definitely worth checking out. There’s plenty of variation with the bosses and enemies, and really hit’s the spot if you’re looking for a game that matches the gameplay and difficulty of old-school beat-em-ups from the NES and SNES eras. There is, however, very little replay value here. Maybe if you could unlock more characters at the end of the game or play on a harder difficulty, the drive to replay the game would be there, but as it is now, you’ll play it once, and probably end up deleting it.
Dragon Of The Three Kingdoms is getting a score of 7 out of 10.

Destructopus: Total Rampage – 0.99 (GlitchSoft)

Destructopus: Total Rampage is a side-scrolling destruction game from GlitchSoft. In it, you play as The Destructopus, a normally peaceful creature, able to sleep at the bottom of the ocean for centuries, you’ve been awakened by greedy oil drillers. Coming to the surface, you see a polluted and dying world. Overtaken by rage, you vow revenge; Now it’s time to make the world green again. It is worth mentioning that Destructopus just went through a pretty major update recently, adding GameCenter support, a new campaign, new map, new areas, new levels, a new boss, and much, much more.

So in the game, you’ll go through 20 campaign levels, causing as much destruction as possible by hitting your tail and mouth attack buttons, as well as shooting a laser out of your eye. There’s loads of upgrades in the shop, but I’ll come back to that. You can press down on the joystick to dodge higher attacks, and lower attacks just go right by you, there’s red attack points on buildings which you need to hit with either your tail or mouth attacks in order to destroy them, and at the end of the level, you release some captured animals, which is a big theme in the game, and you can actually share posts on FaceBook about endangered animals right through the game. The destruction aspect, graphics, and controls, remind me of when I use to sit in front of the TV playing old 8 and 16-bit games. The difficulty is great, and there’s always that ‘one more time’ feeling after beating a level, or dying. There’s also some great scoring mechanics going on in the game, including a hit multiplier. If you can manage to not be hit during a level, your multiplier will shoot up, increasing the amount of money you’ll have to use for upgrades.
The shop in Destructopus is pretty large, and in it you can buy more attacks, defense upgrades, and if you’re good enough to earn loads of coinage pretty fast, you can unlock the two extra characters in the shop as well. There’s also IAPs for more coins if you’d like to upgrade right at the beginning of the game, or if you’re finding the game too difficult. But you can also always go back and replay previously beaten levels to gain some extra in-game cash, and unlock some more upgrades if you’re finding a particular level too hard to get through. The prices in the shop are a tad on the high side, but if you don’t mind a little grinding, can all be bought with gameplay. The higher leveled upgrades unlock as you make your way through the campaign, adding quite a bit to the drive of the game.
The graphics that GlitchSoft has used in Destructopus are great; Very vibrant and colorful, and spread over 4 environments. There’s loads of enemies to take on, ranging from airplanes and helicopters to army men and missiles, and some very interesting boss battles are thrown into the mix as well. The animations in the game are very good, adding a whole lot the gameplay. Seeing the little innocent pedestrians running away is always good for a laugh, and the movement is very fluid. It would be nice seeing more added to the debris with the explosions, but as they are now, they’re still pretty nice. The physics also work pretty well, when you destroy something and it comes falling down or flying forward, killing more enemies and pedestrians in the process, it does feel like it has some weight to it. The music and effects are also very nice, and add to the whole atmosphere of the game.
There’s a whole lot going for Destructopus, especially after the major content update it recently received. Great controls, nice graphics, smooth gameplay, a great upgrade shop, unlockables, spreading awareness of endangered animals, and more; Along with 35 GameCenter achievements, there’s plenty of content. But there are no GC leaderboards, and the story could use a little more plot. You don’t know why the animals you’re freeing were captured, or why they’re being eatin by bosses, and there’s no push in the progress of the story while you’re moving through the environments. Having some sort of news broadcast or something would be a nice addition. But these points don’t really effect the overall gameplay, or replayability of the game, even though leaderboards would help quite a bit to nab the attention of you score mongers out there. It’s a great side-scrolling destruction based game, filled with hours upon hours of awesome, entertaining gameplay. For $0.99, it’s a great game, and the developers have stated on the Touch Arcade Forums that they’re going to include retina graphics and make the game Universal in a future update, so be on the look-out for that.
I’m giving Destructopus: Total Rampage a score of 4.5 out of 5 stars.