Archive for December, 2012


Arcadelife iOS Game of the Year 2012

December 31, 2012

Welcome to the 2012 awards, in which I look back through all the Arcadelife reviews for 2012 and realise that sometimes, ok quite a lot of the time, the scores I have initially awarded have been a bit wacky. That’s a little bit of a disclaimer, in case anyone can be bothered comparing the games that win awards here with their original review scores. I’ll tell you now, there are some inconsistencies!

I’ll just be doing Winner and one runner up in each group, unless I feel like mentioning more games in any category, but that’s up to me. I’m also not dividing up iPhone and iPad games but I might mention if a game is not universal. If you don’t want to read all the other categories, the GOTY award is the last one.

First up, a category I like to call Best Arcade / High Score Game. Essentially, this does not include pure shooters because they have their own category. The games have to be arcade style with either lives/health or a pure scoring objective and no silly star ratings or infinite lives.

Best Arcade / High Score Game

Winner: Toxic Frog

toxic frog - icon

Arcadelife review quote: “Toxic Frog goes beyond just being a great iOS arcade style high-scoring game by totally recapturing the feel of playing an early 80s arcade game.”

I haven’t checked recently, but I’m probably still #1 on the leaderboard. Not because I’m a brilliant player (although I am, of course) but because hardly anyone else has ever played this great game. Sort it out.

Runner Up: infinite

Next, let’s do Best Casual Game. Your opinion of what constitutes a casual game may be different from mine, but I am fairly sure these two fit into the category.

Best Casual Game

Winner: Skylanders Cloud Patrol

skylanders - title

This game was just so much fun and incredibly addictive, even for an old fossil like me with no previous exposure to Skylanders.

Runner Up: SpongeBob’s Super Bouncy Fun Time 

I loved this game, as did my son, who was 4 at the time we were playing this. Just a huge shame it has never been on the UK app store.

Here’s another popular genre: Tower Defence. So this award is unsurprisingly…

Best Tower Defence Game

Winner: iBomber Defense Pacific

ibomber defense - title

Although Kingdom Rush (runner up) is a great example of TD, I remember enjoying iBomber Pacific Defense just a tiny bit more because of the WW2 theme, weapons and memorable maps.

Runner Up: Kingdom Rush HD

This next category is packed with great games, but only two get awards I’m afraid… It’s time for Best Shoot-em-up Game. This was such a hard one to call; Jeff Minter could have ended up with both awards but I flipped a coin – ok, I didn’t, but it was that close – and this is what happened:

Best Shoot-em-up Game

Winner: Gridrunner

More of a remake than a pure iOS original, and showing some remarkable restraint from Jeff Minter (not a lot of mooing animals or Manic Miner graphics), Gridrunner is everything that’s good about playing a hectic shooter on a touch screen.

Runner Up: Dariusburst -sp-

Others that you may want to seriously consider include Blazing Star, Metal Slug 3, Caverns of Minos, Super Ox wars and the really rather excellent Raiden Legacy. As I said, it was a really tough one to call.

Oh, and here’s another category that took me a while to figure out. Yes, it’s Best Platform Game. If anything, this category will be the most controversial one.

Best Platform Game

Winner: Swordigo

swordigo - title

I’ll talk more about this one later. That’s a clue.

Runner Up: Wimp: Who Stole My Pants?

Extra Special Mention: NinjaBoy

I had to mention NinjaBoy here because I thought it was just such an excellent game. The reason it hasn’t done anywhere near as well as it should have done is the tilt control method which seems to put people off almost the instant they hear about it. There is nothing wrong with the tilt control method in NinjaBoy, although I find the game easier to play for long periods on the iPod/iPhone than on my iPad. That’s just a device size issue.

Next, Best Strategy Game. Once again, loads of contenders but only two awards.

Best Strategy Game

Winner: Eufloria HD

eufloria - title

I swear I won’t use the word “polished” in 2013. Honest. Now, what was I going to say about this one?

Runner Up: Hunters 2

This next category is more important than you may realise. This one is called My 5 Year Old Son’s Favourite Game. This one was actually very easy to sort out; I just asked him what his favourite game was. Then he changed his mind so I got both of them.

My 5 Year Old Son’s Favourite Game

Winner: Random Heroes

random heroes - title

It doesn’t matter what I think of this game, my son loves it. What this means is that I’ve spent hours killing the second boss over and over again (while my son is asleep) so that we can unlock all the guns and costumes. And they keep updating the game with more guns and costumes… Aargh! Make it stop!

Runner Up: Offroad Legends

Loads of great, mediocre and fairly crappy games have been ported, emulated or otherwise transferred from various platforms to iOS. I like to call this category Best Port / Retro Game. And, because the shoot-em-ups had their own category, they missed out on the awards here. Sorry!

Best Port / Retro Game

Winner: The Lords of Midnight

lom title

There are just so many reasons why I think this is the best ported game of 2012. The updated, yet almost perfectly reproduced graphics; the excellent touch controls; the deceptively deep gameplay and the surprising mix of emotions every new dawn when you find out which of your heroes managed to make it through the night.

Runner Up: Carmageddon

Hilarious game. I play it way too much on my iPad and even quite a bit on my 4th gen Touch. It would have won easily if TLoM hadn’t shown up.

Next, and I’ll try to keep this short – Best Auto Runner Game. I was going to call it Best Endless Runner, but some of the ones I like aren’t technically endless.

Best Auto Runner Game

Winner: Nosferatu -Run from the Sun

nosferatu - title

In the end, it came down to this – which one do I keep going back to? Which one keeps getting updates and seasonal specials? Which one is always fun? And, yeah, it’s this one. For me, anyway.

Runner Up: Punch Quest

I had a few other categories I wanted to include, such as Prettiest Game (nominees including Lili, Ravensword 2, Sky Gamblers Air Supremacy) and Most Bizarre Game, with gems like Box Cat, but I’ve run out of time. Best Puzzle Game is Incoboto, but I didn’t have a runner up for that category.

So, this is it, Arcadelife’s Best iOS Game 2012

In this category, there can be only one. There is no runner up, just a whole bunch of losers. My favourite game from 2012 turned out to be:

Best iOS Game 2012

Winner: Swordigo

swordigo - young one

Swordigo just gets pretty much everything right. It’s a big world of platforms, chasms, puzzles, secrets and some infuriatingly hard boss fights. It’s one of the few iOS games I completed in 2012, keeping me hopelessly hooked all the way through. The controls are splendid. The platforming is old school, very 16 bit console era, with no speedruns or star ratings for beating dozens of tiny sub-15 second levels. It’s a proper game and it is very hard in places. After completing every achievement I went back and started again, just to see if I could do it all more efficiently a second time. Swordigo is full of memorable moments and the admittedly clichéd sword & sorcery plot is instantly both familiar and intriguing. For me, this one is the best of 2012. If they do a sequel next year, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Thanks to everyone who has submitted games for review in 2012 – I know I haven’t reviewed them all and I apologise for that.

Good luck to all of you next year and a rather huge SPECIAL THANKS to everyone who has visited this site. Keep coming back! You never know, there might be something worth reading here one day. 


The Lords of Midnight review (iOS / Universal)

December 22, 2012

lom advert

10 word description: Mike Singleton’s 1984 Epic Adventure Strategy Game updated for iOS.  

lom menu

10 word review: A must own title; pure genius and extremely entertaining. Recommended.

lom morkin

You will like this if you enjoy: Strategy games, turn-based war games, adventure games, engrossing retro games with perfect touch-screen interfaces.

lom corleth

The good news: It’s still the epic game it always was, now with hi-res (but not unnecessarily enhanced) graphics. The touch controls are far easier to pick up and use than the original full keyboard overlay controls on the ZX Spectrum! The dynamically updating map is a new addition and it is just excellent.

lom rorthron

The bad news: Mike Singleton did not live to see this tribute released.

lom map

Arcadelife verdict: Before I tried this version of one of my favourite games ever I was almost not quite sure, having played the original a hell of a lot back in the eighties, but this release is pretty much perfect. If you love a game, love the game’s creator and want to produce an updated tribute – here’s your benchmark. Almost thirty years old and yet it feels fresh, relevant and completely at home on a touch screen. Recommended without reservation – so good it makes me want to cry.

lom title

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9/10
Audio – None
Controls – 10/10
Content – 10/10
Fun – 10/10
Final rating – 98/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.01
iTunes link

Lords of Midnight website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.0.1)

Majesty: The Northern Expansion review (iOS / Universal)

December 21, 2012

majesty - title

10 word description: Standalone new expansion for the original “Majesty” fantasy kingdom sim.

majesty ne pic 1

10 word review: Pretty, full-featured strategy game – there’s always plenty going on.

majesty ne pic 2

You will like this if you enjoy: Real-time strategy games, although this isn’t exactly one. City building sims although, once again, this isn’t exactly one.

majesty ne map

The good news: Looks very nice; runs smoothly on 1st gen iPad; lots of content; interesting combat concept where you don’t directly control or direct anyone but place rewards on areas or monsters to encourage heroes to explore or attack.

majesty ne cemetery

The bad news: I found it a bit tough on anything higher than the lowest difficulty, but that’s probably a good thing, particularly for hardened fans of the genre.

majesty ne pic 5

Arcadelife verdict: Very good, not just as an expansion / sequel to an established game but as an entertaining strategy / action game in its own right.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 9.5/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 8.5/10
Final rating – 89/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.1
iTunes link

Herocraft website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)

Far Cry 3 – Holiday Photos

December 18, 2012

Here are some pictures I took during my recent holiday, sitting in front of my PC:














bit Dungeon review (iPad)

December 17, 2012

bit dungeon title

10 word description: Rogue style action dungeon crawler. Loot, boss fights, permanent death.

bit dungeon pic 1

10 word review: Very entertaining game with no recorded stats or high scores.

bit dungeon pic 2

You will like this if you enjoy: Action RPG style games. Rogue style games – e.g. Sword of Fargoal, 100 Rogues, etc.

bit dungeon pic 3

The good news: Instantly fun and accessible. Tap/action kind of gameplay rather than turn-based, which I think will appeal to a wider audience. Varied and well drawn enemies. Loads of loot, with set bonuses, multiple enchantments, etc.

bit dungeon pic 5

The bad news: No recorded high score or statistics of any kind. Personally, I think a game like this NEEDS those things because of what it is and the fact that you really do only get 1 life per game. The tap-to-swap and tap-to-buy mechanism feels unpolished and often unfriendly. Tapping an equipped item or your current stats should NOT cause the character to walk to where you just tapped – this again feels unpolished and in need of a tweak.

bit dungeon loot

Arcadelife verdict: The game is loads of fun, although some may find the combat a little bit simplistic. I don’t mind that; it suits the game and gives you less to focus on which makes the game feel fun and casual rather than a confusing grind. I have issues with some of the interface quirks and I believe the game absolutely needs highscores and stats to be recorded, if only for your personal best session to date. More stats would be wonderful, of course. Let’s hope this game gets a couple of updates as it is very good and deserves to be improved – just a bit – rather than left as it is. I’ve lowered the “Content” rating because of how I feel about the stats, and the “Controls” rating because of the swap/buy issues mentioned above  – I’d still recommend getting this game if Rogue style dungeon crawlers interest you at all.

bit dungeon pic 6

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 8/10
Controls – 6.5/10
Content – 6/10
Fun – 10/10
Final rating – 77/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Kinto Games website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)

Apple App Store – Best of 2012

December 14, 2012

Here’s Apple’s “Best of 2012” from the App Store. I’ll be doing the Arcadelife 2012 awards some time between now and the end of the year, or maybe in the first week of 2013.


Raiden Legacy review (iOS / Universal)

December 12, 2012

raiden - title

10 word description: Four title compilation – classic vertical scrolling shooters. Control options. Game Center.

raiden pic 1

10 word review: Excellent port of great shoot-em-up series. Tough & fun.

raiden pic 2

You will like this if you enjoy: Vertical scrolling arcade shooters.

raiden pic 3

The good news: Graphics are very good. Controls – particularly the fast touch option – work so well they feel better suited than the original stick + buttons method. Four games, although arguably fairly similar, provide a lot of content.

The bad news: Audio is a bit scratchy, but then I only ever heard the original noises (Raiden Trad / SNES) out of a tiny speaker on a portable TV so it sounds exactly as I remember it.

raiden pic 4

Arcadelife verdict: This is a great package of classic shooter fun that should satisfy anyone looking for that kind of thing on either their iPhone/Touch or their iPad. Performance is very good on my 4th gen Touch and 1st gen iPad. If you haven’t played these games before, they are quite tough so be prepared for a bit of a challenge.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9/10
Audio – 7.5/10
Controls – 10/10
Content – 9.5/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 90/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.3

iTunes link

DotEmu – Raiden Legacy website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)

Magic Orbz review (iOS / Universal)

December 11, 2012

magic orbz title

10 word description: 3D ball bouncing, block breaking. 42 levels. Bonuses. Game Center.

magic orbz pic 1

10 word review: Loads of fun – great evolution of the block-breaking genre.

magic orbz shop

You will like this if you enjoy: Block breaking / Arkanoid / Breakout style games.

magic orbz sharks

The good news: Very pretty, lots of variety in the 3D levels and items/obstacles. Controls work well, with two simultaneous options available. Plenty of content. Easy game but still a lot of fun.

magic orbz pic 3

The bad news: Personally, I’d love to see a bit more depth to the level design, meaning the inclusion of pinball style challenges rather than the quality of the graphics. All you seem to be doing is batting the ball back, with the lush 3D environments never really being more than just decoration. Saying that, the game is still great fun as it is.

magic orbz you win

Arcadelife verdict: Although the gameplay is consistently simple, this cheerful, well animated take on block breaking is fun all the way and definitely worth getting if you’re after a Breakout style game that looks great and plays well on an iOS device.

magic orbz islands

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9.5/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 9.5/10
Fun – 9.5/10
Final rating – 92/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.0
iTunes link

Herocraft website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)

Mutant Mudds review (iOS / Universal)

December 7, 2012

mutant mudds title

10 word description: 2D action platformer. 60 levels, 5 worlds. Three parallax playfields.

mutant mudds pic 1

10 word review: Looks and plays well but can often be extremely frustrating.

You will like this if you enjoy: Old school (i.e. hard) platform games.

mutant mudds pic 2

The good news: Graphics & sounds are nice. Controls can be moved/customised. The three layer playfields add a nice touch.

The bad news: While the controls themselves work well, the mechanism for swapping from a jump to jet-pack mode is often annoyingly unreliable. I found the game to be too frustrating and consequently it is marked down on the “Fun” rating.

Look very closely and you can see the player character in the furthest playfield

Look very closely and you can see the player character in the furthest playfield

Arcadelife verdict: Initially seems like the best iOS platformer ever, then it gets way too annoying.

mutant mudds pic 5

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 7/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 4/10
Final rating – 75/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.0
iTunes link

Mutant Mudds website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)