Archive for April, 2013

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The House of the Dead: Overkill™­- The Lost Reels review (iOS / Universal)

April 29, 2013

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10 word description: On-rails first person shooter. 2 chapters + 1 via IAP. Various weapons.

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10 word review: Wonderfully gratuitous action. Fantastic controls. Feels short, but definitely fun.

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You will like this if you enjoy: House of the Dead games. On-rails shooters, e.g. Time Crisis or, on iOS, Rage.

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The good news: The controls, by which a game like this succeeds or fails, are extremely good. The default virtual pad to aim is responsive, reliable and never lets you down. The tap-to-shoot option, unlocked when you complete the initial two chapters, is so good it feels like a cheat. The action is relentless and a hell of a lot of fun. There are loads of weapons and they can all be extensively upgraded at a cost that is balanced well enough to make you want to work for it without feeling like an IAP pay-wall. Performs well on older devices – e.g. 4th gen Touch.

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The bad news: The fact that the third chapter and two of the 4 playable characters in a fairly short game are only available as an IAP is rather irritating. An option to acquire it all with a large amount of in-game cash would at least reduce the negative feelings this creates. The swearing in the cut-scene dialogue is rather too gratuitous and unnecessary. Boss fights are anticlimactic and don’t match the visceral entertainment of the rest of the levels.

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Arcadelife verdict: I really like this game, not just because it surprised me by being so much better than I expected but because it is really such a lot of fun. It has its shortcomings, for example being short, and the IAP for the third chapter is just taking the piss. The gameplay, most of it anyway, is a finely distilled bloodbath that has you switching from satisfying long distance headshots to jump-scare close-up panic shooting from one second to the next. The secret areas, power-ups, large shop of weapons, upgrades and score-boosters, high-score chasing and quest for a perfect run on every level keep you coming back for more and more.

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Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9/10
Visuals – 8.5/10
Controls – 10/10
Content – 7/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 9/10

GROOVY

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.00
iTunes link
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.0.1)
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They Need To Be Fed 2 review (iOS / Universal)

April 24, 2013

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10 word description: 360 degree action/puzzle gravity platformer sequel. 50+ levels. 2 Modes.

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10 word review: Clean visuals, atmospheric sounds, compelling gameplay, great controls, fun game.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Original TNTBF, Soosiz, action/puzzle platformers with an emphasis on skilful control and timing.

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The good news: Distinctive, clean visual style with subtle, effective animations and convincing but fun physics. Audio is atmospheric and appropriate. Controls are very good, although custom button placement (particularly on iPad) would be nice to have. Gameplay is splendidly designed with a continually escalating challenge and a variety of game elements that work really well together. Plenty of content with an Epic mode that unlocks after collecting all the crystals in normal mode (including the X levels). No IAPs.

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The bad news: My 4th gen iPod Touch overheated while playing this, to the point where I got a full screen warning telling me to wait until it cooled down before using it. Admittedly I was in the car, parked in direct sunshine, on the hottest day of the year so far which, being in Britain, probably was not that hot.

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Arcadelife verdict: I never really got into the original TNTBF, which is my loss I suppose, but I’m really enjoying this sequel. The combination of short-yet-satisfying levels (with considerate checkpoints in normal mode), responsive and reliable controls, clean, clear graphics, and the wonderfully unrestricted feeling of the 360 degree gravity is a triumph of touch-screen gaming.

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Unlike the majority of iOS platform games, a genre that TNTBF2 definitely fits into, this is not a game that is “only for platform fans” and I’m confident that I can recommend it without caveats to anyone who wants a good-looking, challenging skill-based game.

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Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9/10
Visuals – 9/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 9/10

ANOTHER EXCELLENT GAME!

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link

Bit Ate Bit website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.0.1)
1st gen iPad
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Plasma Sky review (iOS / Universal)

April 23, 2013

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10 word description: Old school vertical arcade space shoot-em-up. 80 levels.

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10 word review: Addictive, fun game with great looks and perfect touch controls.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Galaga, Starforce / Megaforce. Retro style vertical shooters.

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The good news: Performs well on older devices (4th gen Touch. 1st gen iPad). Very attractive neon/plasma graphical style with some great effects. Multiple control options but you will only need the perfect relative touch control. Solid, entertaining high-score chasing gameplay. Varied enemies and boss fights. Great sounds. No IAPs.

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The bad news: I can’t really find anything wrong with this one, although it obviously won’t appeal to anyone who doesn’t like arcade space shooter games.

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Arcadelife verdict: If you’re looking for a new arcade shooter that looks lovely, plays wonderfully, performs well on older devices, is a very small install, is FUN and has no IAPs – get Plasma Sky now. I’m loving it on my iPad 4, also spending plenty of time playing it on my 4th gen Touch. The main mode (Conquest – 80 levels) is excellent, but there are two additional modes – Survival and Hardcore, which are equally entertaining.

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Overall – very highly recommended.

Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9/10
Visuals – 9/10
Controls – 10/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 9/10

EXCELLENT

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 2.5
iTunes link

Plasma Sky website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.0.1)
1st gen iPad
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Heavy Sword review (iOS / Universal)

April 19, 2013

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10 word description: Retro style coin-collecting, monster-bashing platformer. With a sword.

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10 word review: Pure platforming joy with some irritating technical issues to overcome.

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You will like this if you enjoy: The idea of a Super Mario style platform game with upgradeable melee weapons.

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The good news: Gameplay, graphics, level design, enemies, weapons and power-ups. All of those elements are individually very good and packaged together as a strikingly entertaining and enjoyable game. Controls are ok, but the behaviour of the direction buttons could be improved. The shop (no IAPs) adds a depth and purpose to the coin collecting. There are only a few upgrades to buy but they are useful and worth saving up for. Mini games and secret areas are the icing on a very enjoyable platform gaming cake.

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The bad news: Left/Right buttons don’t allow for sliding your finger from one button to the other. For example, if you press the left button, then slide onto the right button, your character keeps moving left until you take your finger off the right button and press it again. It takes some getting used to and is an unnecessary distraction. I played this game on 4th gen iPod Touch, 1st gen iPad and 4th gen iPad. On the latest iPad, it runs perfectly and has not crashed in several hours of gameplay but on the earlier devices it is  generally sluggish with slow load times and frequent random crashes.

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Arcadelife verdict: I gave up trying to play this on my 4th gen iPod Touch because the frequent crashes were too annoying to make me want to persevere. Same story on the 1st gen iPad. However, on a 4th gen iPad, Heavy Sword is a genuinely joyful game, even with its less than intuitive directional buttons. It’s not original by any means, even with its engaging Mario with a sword theme, but it has all the charm and playability of the games it pays homage to, plus some topical genre additions of its own, which is no small achievement.

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Ultimately, I can only recommend this on recent devices due to the instability and poor performance on my 4th gen Touch and 1st gen iPad. Otherwise, if you’re a fan of Mario style platform games – and you have a device that can run this without frequently crashing – I can’t think of any reason not to get this one.

Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 7/10
Visuals – 8.5/10
Controls – 6/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 9.5/10
Final rating – 8/10

VERY GOOD

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 0.0.1
iTunes link

Heavy Sword on Facebook – website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.0.1)
1st gen iPad.
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Alcatrapz review (iOS / Universal)

April 18, 2013

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10 word description: Endless vertical side-to-side jumper. Avoid hazards, collect coins.

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10 word review: Considerable challenge. Falls short of standard set by stablemate jtpck.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Endless vertical games that are more “die every 10 seconds” than actually endless. This game is similar in concept to Mechanic Panic.

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The good news: One-touch control is hard to fault. Surprisingly high difficulty, right from the start, makes a nice change from the typically casual feel of many endless games. Despite the difficulty, there is plenty of one-more-go appeal.

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The bad news: The one-shot consumable upgrades seem way too expensive to me. The positioning of hazards often feels unfair and unavoidable, which could deter less masochistic gamers. I’m not sure if this is intentional or a flaw in the random generation of the environment.

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Arcadelife verdict: The previous game from this developer – jtpck – set a very high standard for one-touch endless games, that Alcatrapz struggles to attain. There are moments when the game elements come together and the experience rises well above average, but those moments are too few and the general impression is that the hazards are there purely to end your fun prematurely rather than to give you the satisfaction of avoiding them.

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A few tweaks to the difficulty, specifically around the sequencing and placement of hazards, and Alcatrapz would be an easy recommendation.

Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 6/10
Visuals – 6/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 7/10
Fun – 6/10
Final rating – 6/10

OK

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.1
iTunes link
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.0.1)
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Rico review (iOS / Universal)

April 12, 2013

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10 word description: Old school 2D platformer. 4 worlds, 32 levels. Jetpack. Boss fights.

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10 word review: Does what it sets out to do, mostly quite well.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Retro platformers with an emphasis on carefully timed jumps and collecting gold coins in fairly large levels, rather than speed-running and dying a million times.

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The good news: Controls work well, even though the buttons look rather tiny on the iPad screen. Nice level design, although it (intentionally) feels derivative most of the time. Abilities, via item acquisition, are introduced quite slowly, which adds a feeling of progression and increasing power to the player character. Multiple difficulty settings and save slots are very nice. No IAPs.

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The bad news: The game can feel quite slow paced, but that is a design decision and it is what it is. I just have to tell you this stuff in case you look at the screen images and think it’s like League of Evil. It isn’t. There’s no Game center or iCloud support. I’m not too bothered about GC, but iCloud syncing of progress across devices would be great.

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Arcadelife verdict: Rico really does nail a lot of the look & feel that defined old school platform games. There’s no ability to save a game mid-level, but the levels aren’t so big that this ever became a problem for me. The multiple difficulty settings are good; it’s worth mentioning that “Insane” is not a hardcore single life, permanent death setting,  but you do only have one life with which to complete each level. This presents a significant challenge – no checkpoints, obviously – but doesn’t have the potential to make you cry as it might if death meant a complete restart.

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Overall, the game elements work well together and the game held my attention without ever feeling frustrating or contrived. If you go in expecting a constant blast of blistering action you will probably come away disappointed. If you’re after a challenging trip down platforming memory lane, Rico definitely does enough things right to put a nostalgic smile on your face.

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Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 8/10
Visuals – 8/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 7.5/10
Fun – 7/10
Final rating – 7/10

DECENT

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.0.1)
1st gen iPad
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Slayin review (iOS / Universal)

April 9, 2013

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10 word description: Endless action RPG. 3 playable classes. Boss fights. Game Center.

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10 word review: Fantastic fun. Very addictive. Hidden depths of gameplay. Highly recommended.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Being very surprised by how good an iOS game can be.

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The good news: Gameplay is just about perfect for an iPhone / iPad game, and that’s even with those massive controls. Improving your score is almost completely dependent on improving your own skills. The IAPs are not at all necessary to play and enjoy the game. This is the most fun I’ve had on an iOS game in ages. Innovative Game Center feature with friends’ scores appearing as gravestones on your gravestone screen.

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The bad news: It’s very, very difficult to spot anything wrong, bad or even slightly irritating about this game. Ah, actually yes – no iCloud support for syncing progress and stuff.

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Arcadelife verdict: This is a whole load of fun. The 3 characters play very differently and the choice of upgrades is often influenced heavily by the currently active objectives. It’s hard to think of any ways that this game could be improved. Easily one of the best iOS games I’ve played for a long time. Yes, there are IAPs but they are unnecessary unless you are incredibly impatient and just a little bit stupid.

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Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9/10
Visuals – 9/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 10/10
Final rating – 9/10

EXCELLENT

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.0.1)
1st gen iPad