Archive for September, 2011


Newton’s Dice HD review (iPad)

September 30, 2011

“You gotta roll me, and call me the tumblin’ dice”

10 word description: 3D dice simulator, Hi-res graphics, two games, AI opponent.

10 word review: Good looking, highly polished. More game types would be great.

It's easy to get excited about the physics. I turned the rotating camera off as it made me feel a bit sick

You will like this if you enjoy: Dice games. Board games with realistic graphics. Games without any shooting, zombies or uppity wildlife.

This is my favourite screenshot. It's like a "Dice Robot Man"... Good screenshots are quite hard to take in this game; it would be nice to be able to pause at any time during the dice roll

The good news: Impressive graphics and dice physics – the realism/randomness of the physics means that it’s possible for crooked rolls to occur, with one die even ending up on top of another. Playing against an AI opponent is engaging and addictive – the AI doesn’t get any unfairly biased rolls, at least none that I’ve noticed.

The dice shaker looks a bit like an unfortunate waste paper bin. I'd prefer a bit more detail on it, maybe a logo or something

The bad news: Only plays in portrait mode. It isn’t possible to pause, exit or otherwise interrupt during the AI player’s turn (apart from pressing the Home button). You have to set your player name twice, once for each of the two game types. More game modes would be great. Something I’d love to see, but would involve a major graphical update, would be the inclusion of poker dice. That could even be done as a separate app using the same engine. So, yeah, not really any bad news as such, just me wanting more as usual.

Games of chance rock, as you can randomly kick AI butt with virtually zero skill and, if you lose, just blame your bad luck

Arcadelife verdict: The graphics and physics, fairly obviously, are the primary attributes here. I think the game will appeal to iPad owners who generally aren’t into “playing games” but will appreciate the polish and realism of the dice rolling. At the risk of insulting both Newton’s Dice and my own literary standards, this is very much a coffee table game. That isn’t a bad thing, by the way, it’s just my attempt at categorisation. It could have been worse, I could have referred to this game as Infinity Blade for chartered accountants … but I didn’t.

I'm not too sure about the winning celebration, it looks like you're being mobbed by paparazzi Mysterons

Arcadelife rating: 79/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link

Newton’s Dice website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

Retro Dust / Retro Dust HD review (iPod/iPhone/iPad)

September 29, 2011

“And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust”

10 word description: Navigate and blast your way through Meteor fields. Several modes.

The IAPs and adverts for other games are possibly a bit in-your-face, but it really isn't a problem

10 word review: Super-polished Asteroids remake rocks! Entertaining inclusion of Space Invaders.

Here's a screen from the HD/iPad version. The Invaders only appear in one mode

You will like this if you enjoy: Asteroids. Jazzed up retro games. Asteroids simultaneously featuring Space Invaders.

The slightly more traditional Asteroids game (i.e. minus the Space Invaders). This is one of 4 possible control configurations

The good news: Plenty of control options. Great graphics and sounds. Plenty of game modes, even without IAP unlocks. Great gameplay – Asteroids fans will love it.

Of the four ships, two are initially available with two others as part of the IAP bundle

The bad news: It would be an easy option (for me) to complain about the IAP add-on, but there isn’t really an issue with it. There’s plenty of content in the default package and the IAP upgrades feel far more like something to get if you really like the game, rather than something you need in order to enjoy the game.

For once, a time limit that I actually like in a game!

Arcadelife verdict: It’s almost an Asteroids overload recently with this game and Space Junk being released close together, both delivering the same kind of flashy retro rock-blasting experience. In a straight comparison, Dust lacks the visual gags of Junk’s varied enemy objects, but makes up for this with additional modes, a choice of ships and the bizarre yet rather wonderful inclusion of Space Invader waves in one of the modes.

The saucers shoot at you if you give them a chance, and they're quite accurate

Asteroids addicts probably need both this game and Space Junk. If I had to choose one over the other … I don’t think I could.

Unsurprisingly, the combination of Asteroids and Space Invaders on the screen simultaneously is quite challenging

Arcadelife rating: 94/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0

iTunes link iPod / iPhone version
iTunes link HD – iPad version

Silverline Arts website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

Another World – 20th Anniversary review (iOS / Universal)

September 28, 2011

“I think I’m on another world with you,
I’m on another planet with you”

Life was much simpler in 1991, and obvious game titles like "Another World" were still free for the taking

10 word description: Cult 1991 cross-platform action/adventure. Original/HD graphics. Game Center.

The intro cut-scene is still surprisingly effective and atmospheric, considering how old it is

10 word review: Obviously dated ‘classic’ survives transition to app store rather well.

Back in the day, for me anyway, they may as well have had "Game Over" permanently displayed on this screen

You will like this if you enjoy: Arcade adventures where perseverance is a necessity. Retro games. Revisiting classic games from gaming history on your touch-screen iOS device.

Note that I am using the D-pad and button control option. I've moved the controls around to where they feel most comfortable for me.

The good news: The configurable controls are hardly ever to blame for your countless deaths. It looks good, rather better on iPad than iPhone/iPod but that’s fairly predictable. The addition of a slightly easier “normal” difficulty setting makes areas beyond the first couple of screens accessible to most gamers.

The view from a high building shows a bizarre alien landscape, possibly influenced by the ALIEN landscape...

The bad news: The very retro “try, try and try again” gameplay style may alienate younger gamers or people who have been introduced to videogames via their iPhones. There are points in the game where exploration choices (such as rolling around in dark pipes not long after the start of the game) give you a 50/50 chance of an inescapable death. A lot of the ducking, shooting, running and jumping requires exact timing and pixel perfect precision. Fun, certainly, but also potentially frustrating.

It's cool how alien tunnels are just about the right height for a human to walk around in

Arcadelife verdict: This one is a lot harder to call than you’d think. I was rubbish at the original PC version and gave up after many, many failed attempts to get past the first few screens. So now, 20 years later on my iPad, I’m a lot further into the game and it’s all very new and enjoyable to me. However, I lived through the age of ferociously hard games and I can appreciate what this one is all about.  Those who played and loved it many years ago, and just want to relive the experience on their iOS devices, they’re all highly likely to love it all over again as it is a very impressive port, with a nice graphical overhaul and good controls. Complete newcomers to Another World could be in for a bit of a shock; it’s hard and proud of the fact, calmly displaying hints about what buttons to press in order to jump after you fall into a hidden pit full of spikes… for the 85th time.

Some of the 20 year old lighting effects and use of colour are quite gorgeous

I like this version of the game. It has brought me back to a title I gave up on many years ago, and it is a great iOS action adventure in its own right. For each person who runs screaming from the infinite “jump-fall-die-restart” loop, there will be many more who embrace the challenge like an ancient, unforgiving, yet somehow very welcome adversary.

Welcome the return of classic gaming hazard - "falling into a pit full of spikes"

Arcadelife rating: 91/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link

BulkyPix / Another World website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

Gyro13 – Steam Copter Arcade HD review (iOS / Universal)

September 27, 2011

“Going underground, I’m going underground”

10 word description: Underground helicopter/physics rescue missions. Beat time limits. Unreal engine.

Different 'copter skins are unlocked by rescuing specific numbers of miners throughout the game

10 word review: Gorgeous looking, difficult, often quite frustrating, but overall fun game.

The only option for altering the controls is to switch the sides where the thrust and tilt buttons are displayed

You will like this if you enjoy: Choplifter, games with high quality 3D graphics, tricky vehicle-based games, time limits.

Some miners wait on platforms like this to be rescued, others require a bit of overhead hovering

The good news: The graphics, of course, are very good – backgrounds, objects and lighting are all top quality. The gameplay itself, a kind of underground Choplifter, is hard but satisfying to beat. The player’s ship feels real, due to the solid graphics and polished animations. Details, such as the stranded miners with their little rescue flares, add to the atmosphere.

Here, we're flying upwards through a series of gates that open when approached

The bad news: Controls are quite tricky and need to be learned a LOT before even the earliest levels can be conquered. The ship loses health incredibly quickly when colliding with the environment. I dislike time limits, particularly when combined with tricky controls, trickier level design and a fragile vehicle. Others will love the challenge presented by this combination, I’m just pointing it out for people who prefer their gaming to be on the more casual side.

With time limits this tight, failure is always an option

Arcadelife verdict: Here’s another game that, like Infinity Blade, shows just what the iOS devices are capable of when it comes to graphics. This isn’t just a graphics demo, though; it’s a well conceived game, polished and very tough. The controls are hard to master but, in a way, this adds to the gameplay and the satisfaction of rescuing all the miners in a fast time.

Weird, anomalous underground glowing gas clouds must die!

Arcadelife rating: 87/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Gyro13 website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

Flick Champions HD review (iOS / Universal)

September 26, 2011

“No time for losers
’cause we are the champions – of the world”

10 word description: Collection of flick-based sporting challenges. Multiple modes, unlockable events.

10 word review: Mixed bag. Cute, Lego style characters. Much content, mostly enjoyable.

Oi! If I catch the little blighter who keeps writing graffiti all over my tennis courts, I'll have you, I will!

You will like this if you enjoy: Simple flick versions of different sports. Compilation games with different events. Solo & Multiplayer sports games.

This is basketball. I know you don't believe me; why should you?

The good news: Style, graphics, presentation and control methods are all good. Sporting events are instant pick-up-&-play casual games with various difficulty settings and modes. There’s plenty of content and a fair amount of choice in the initially available events.

Of course, and it wasn't even close

The bad news: Some games may feel a bit too simple. Tennis, for example, is a fairly obvious Pong variant and doesn’t adhere to many preconceptions of how a Tennis game should play. While this isn’t necessarily “bad”, it’s worth mentioning. “I paid for it, I want it all now” types will be put off by the amount of gaming effort required to unlock all the different sports.

For a second there, I thought it said ...... oh, never mind

Arcadelife verdict: This is a good package of similarly themed games. Several would be viable as standalone offerings while others fall quite happily into the category of “filler”, although none of them are so bad as to warrant exclusion from being played. The general feeling I get from this title is that it’s an entertaining compilation of fairly polished games with enough challenge and content to keep players occupied for quite some time, in both solo and multiplayer modes.

Ice hockey. It's table hockey really, but it's still fun

Arcadelife rating: 80/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Chillingo / Flick Champs website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

Where’s My Water? review (iOS / Universal)

September 24, 2011

“And the water is piping hot
The water is piping hot
It beats upon my neck”

The menu is interactive. Tapping Swampy (the alligator) gives results such as this. Other obvious objects can be tapped too

10 word description: Help guide water to Swampy the alligator’s bathtub. 80 puzzles.

The green sponge stuff absorbs your water, but the purple liquid will remove the sponges ... Start digging!

10 word review: Way too much fun! Brilliant, highly polished water-physics puzzles.

There are 3 ducks to collect in each level. A certain amount of water has to flow over the duck in order for it to be collected

You will like this if you enjoy: Feed Me Oil, Sprinkle, Cut the Rope. Physics puzzle games that are more about having a good time than frustratedly smashing yourself in the face with a framed painting of Isaac Newton.

Ultimately, no matter how much water you have to use collecting ducks and operating switches, you always need enough left to fill Swampy's pipe and give him a shower

The good news: It’s complete genius. Finally I get to play a liquid-based physics game that doesn’t involve teeth-grinding rage trying to place fiddly, illogical objects or attempting to collect randomly splattering and unconvincing glop in precariously balanced containers. Based on my experiences in the first 20 levels of Where’s My Water?, none of the factors that ultimately reduce these games to a spiralling vortex of hatred (for me) appear to be present in this game. Getting beyond my slack-jawed amazement that someone (Disney, for F’s sake!) has managed to get a water-based physics puzzler so right, here’s a list of the stuff that makes it great: Graphics, animation, cartoon style water physics, puzzle elements, interface/control method, performance, theme, humour, collectibles, amount of content, overall level of polish, funny hidden stuff like the interactive main menu and the shower curtain (try it).

Colour-coded switches and associated moving platforms/doors are hardly original, but they work so well with the water that you're not going to care about any lapses in originaility

The bad news: Dumps from a great height on other similar games.

Collectible objects are uncovered by digging, often not where you would naturally dig to complete the puzzle

Arcadelife verdict: As soon as you start digging with your finger and watching how the cartoon water follows the little tunnels that you make, it is obvious that not only is this going to be a huge amount of fun, but also that a lot of thought and effort has gone into this game. Note how I said “cartoon water” a couple of times already – this isn’t about a photo-realistic and physically perfect water simulation with a half-hearted game tacked on, it’s a cartoon puzzler with convincing cartoon water that behaves exactly as you expect it to. Early hazards such as the toxic purple liquid (that also melts sponges) and the sponges that absorb (kill, if you like) your cartoon water are great puzzle elements that also seem completely logical in Swampy’s cartoon world.

In this level, the platforms are moving upwards. Some careful timing is required

It’s just a great game. If you’re tired of physics puzzlers, maybe even already a bit weary of liquid-based puzzlers, get this game, play through a few levels, and restore your faith in game designers and the ability of puzzle games to make you feel all special and clever when you manage to collect 3 ducks and give an alligator a shower.

Once you start, you won't be able to stop. I had to, to write this review. Poor old me

Arcadelife rating: 95/100

My growing set of collectible objects. There are also many achievements to be earned

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.2
iTunes link

Disney / WmW? website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

Space Junk review (iOS / Universal)

September 23, 2011

“And now I’m mad about space junk
I’m all burned out about space junk”

10 word description: Retro themed, Asteroids style shooter. Destroy space junk, collect power-ups.

10 word review: Great vector graphics shooter gets everything pretty much spot on.

The level that looks most like Asteroids takes a while to reach

You will like this if you enjoy: Asteroids / Asteroids Deluxe, retro arcade-style games, space-themed shooters, high-score games.

The backdrops and enemies change on each level

The good news: Gorgeous retro/vector graphics. Sounds & music are wonderfully atmospheric and really suit the game, perfectly complementing the visuals. Gameplay is a satisfying blend of sparkly vector destruction and tactical power-up chasing. Deaths never feel cheap. Levels and enemy objects are varied and often amusing.

Woof woof... good doggy, play dead

The bad news: I tried, but I can’t think of anything to deter any arcade/shooter fan from thoroughly enjoying this game. There’s no Game Center but that isn’t “bad”, just something that can be added later.

Arcadelife verdict:  I’m a tough reviewer to please when it comes to Asteroids style games because Asteroids was my first truly great gaming obsession and it’s still near the top of my list of favourite videogames. Just because a game looks a bit like Asteroids doesn’t mean I’m going to instantly fall in love with it. If it fails, even marginally, to live up to my nostalgic expectations, I’m not going to want to play it very much.

The amount of crap floating about up there is a serious problem. Luckily some bloke with a jet pack and a plasma cannon is going to sort it all out

Space Junk is great. The first time I played it I still had earphones in from watching a film on my iPad and the first thing that hit me was the incredibly evocative music, almost like Tubeway Army signed up to create the theme to a space shooter… I could feel the smile forming even before I fired my first shot. If you fancy a game where you can blast apart vector versions of Laika, the first dog in space, the Hubble space telescope, lumps of cheese, or just plain old asteroids, you know where to sign up.


Arcadelife rating: 94/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 001
iTunes link

Space Junk website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

Tiny Defense review (iPod/iPhone)

September 22, 2011

“I’m a robot man, that’s my mind
That’s my life, that’s my soul”

10 word description: 2D side view, grid based defence. 150 levels, 40 robots(towers).

It's always this calm, right before all hell breaks loose and crazed robots start rampaging all over the place

10 word review: I like it! Cute, Mario-esque graphics, PvZ gameplay, ample content.

That's your bunch, over on the right. That enemy helicopter is marginally outnumbered

You will like this if you enjoy: Plants vs Zombies style grid-based tower defence. Quick, single-screen defence challenges. TD games with a large number of different tower types and comprehensive upgrade options.

The number of slots for robots (bottom of the screen) can be increased on the laboratory (upgrade) screen. Upgrade currency is metal parts looted from fallen foes or earned as a level completion reward

The good news: The gameplay, while not particularly original, is a tightly focussed kill-em-all defence strategy backed up by clear, colourful graphics (fairly obvious MarioLand influences) and a surprising variety of enemies and defensive robot types. Between groups of standard TD levels are occasional mini-game levels that incorporate different game mechanics, such as tapping enemies in a Castle Defence style.

World 2 is a desert backdrop. By the time you get here, you will already have some fairly impressive robots at your disposal, and so will the enemy

The bad news: As the levels become more challenging, with a lot of enemies and defensive robots on screen at once, the single-screen grid can start to feel a bit claustrophobic and cramped. This doesn’t so much spoil the game as make you think that it could be improved at times with a bit of horizontal scrolling or zooming. There are no health bars, so it’s not possible to spot when a friendly unit could be tactically removed (with a small amount of health remaining) or how much damage a strong enemy is taking from different types of defender.

In this mini-game mission, you only have 3 robots but you can move them around to defeat several waves of attackers

Arcadelife verdict: What I expected, based on the game’s title, was going to be yet another generic tower defence game turned out to be far more entertaining and fun. The PvZ influences include the grid and pre-battle unit selection, but Tiny Defense has enough of its own content and style (albeit partially lifted from Super MarioLand!) to differentiate it and give it a consistent and established feel.

There is a long list of achievements. Earning them all will take quite a while

Ultimately, I’m having a lot more fun playing it than I thought I would and it’s not hard to recommend to TD addicts and gamers in general.

Each unit (yours and theirs) has its own info screen with fairly detailed information and statistics

Arcadelife rating: 87/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.1
iTunes link

Picsoft / Tiny Defense website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)


iSquares! review (iPod/iPhone)

September 21, 2011

“I wonder why I love you baby, I guess it’s just because
You’re so square, baby I don’t care”

10 word description: Dodging game. Drag black square, avoid red squares. Game Center.

10 word review: Simple yet addictive. The most basic graphics imaginable. Power-ups…

Stay out of the red and in the black

You will like this if you enjoy: Extremely simple games. Casual games where each attempt lasts less than a minute.

I've just picked up a mini square power-up. Above is a red circle. Scary stuff

The good news: It’s fairly addictive. Performance is good – if it wasn’t, there would be no valid excuse. Power-ups save it as they introduce much needed variety to the basic dodging. It’s encouraging that you can have both a black (positive) and a red (negative) power-up / power-down active at the same time.

My valiant black square is currently under the evil influence of a cruel red power-down

The bad news: It’s a game where you move a black square around, dodging red squares and colliding with other black squares. Power-ups occasionally appear as black or red circles. And that’s it. No different modes, no permanent upgrades, nothing to unlock, just that basic game. Over and over again.

Ha ha ha... bring it on, you red wusses

Arcadelife verdict: Would it be fair, or relevant, to compare this with Infinity Blade? Or Space Miner? Not really, which is why I hardly ever compare iOS games in these reviews. It is what it it is and, for a few minutes, it’s fairly entertaining. And then you move on. If Doodlejump was still the pinnacle of iPhone gaming (was it ever?), then this game would deserve a shot at the title. However, I’ve seen and played far worse and far less interesting iPhone games than this and so, probably, have you.

It's all a bit formal, like an office memo notifying you of some dismal nobody's appointment as your new manager

Arcadelife rating: 60/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.2
iTunes link

iSquares! website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)

Neon Thrust review (iPod/iPhone)

September 20, 2011

“Time, got the time tick, tick, tickin’ in my head”

10 word description: 2D action puzzler. Thrust control, collect items, escape in time.

10 word review: Challenging maze navigation with plenty of diverse elements. Retro style.

Collect the white glowing thing and return to the entrance/exit ... quickly!

You will like this if you enjoy: Thrust style games (although this one doesn’t feature standard gravity). Retro style games. Action/arcade puzzle challenges. Games where limited time to complete objectives (i.e – escaping each level) is a major feature.

Collecting all the green blobs is optional and often quite tricky

The good news: Graphics and general style of the game are charmingly retro and minimal. Controls work well, and it’s nice to have the option to hide the virtual joypad and button. The smallness of everything adds to the experience – the little blobs (green = good, red = bad) that are magnetically attracted towards your craft and other objects are really rather cool.

Anything red is dangerous. Don't touch it

The bad news: I don’t enjoy playing against a timer, particularly the fairly unforgiving ones that occur in this game, causing stress levels to rise as you repeatedly fail to negotiate a tortuous, danger strewn return route within the few allowed seconds. Failing and restarting are integral parts of gaming, I realise that, but when the challenge is purely one of beating a rather vicious countdown the inventiveness of the rest of the game loses some of its appeal.

Passing the forcefields on the way in isn't too bad. On the way out, you're up against a very tough timer

Arcadelife verdict: This is a well designed and presented game. If you don’t have a total aversion to timers then you’re going to have a lot of fun with it. If it was my game (I did start writing one very similar to this but it’s very unfinished) I’d use fuel – consumed when thrusting – as part of the challenge, rather than a timer. Maybe also incorporate a timer as a way to get a better score, but not as the primary method of introducing difficulty into an otherwise rather splendid game. We’re not all speed-run addicts, after all!

Splat. This is what happens when you are repelled into a killer wall

Arcadelife rating: 80/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Neon Thrust website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)