Monsters University: Catch Archie review

archie

Monsters University: Catch Archie is an iOS and Android release from Disney. It is available now on the App Store and Google Play as an ad-supported free download and carries no additional in-app purchases. (more…)

Kingdom and Dragons Review

kingdomdragonKingdom and Dragons is an Android and iOS game from GAMEVIL Inc. It is available now for free on Google Play and the App Store and carries additional in-app purchases.

Kingdom and Dragons combines city building with role-playing games in an attempt to create a unique and enjoyable experience, and it succeeds. Players start in a mostly empty kingdom with an unnamed swordsman at their disposal. The game introduces players to the city by guiding them through the process of unlocking and building structures. When it’s time to fight, players are sent out with their swordsman, ready to take on multiple waves of various enemies. There’s not much of a tutorial that goes along with combat. The game explains the mechanics and a few tricks, but most players will be left to fend for themselves. Fortunately, the combat in the early stages is simple enough for players to learn the system, rather than panic for their lives.

Once players begin to get the hang of the game, they’re given numerous ways to customize their characters’ skills and accessories. As players’ cities gain access to gold mines and other money-gathering resources, they’re able to earn gold, one of the in-game currencies. Gold is most frequently used to power up characters and purchase items from the in-game shop. As players progress through Kingdom and Dragon’s numerous levels, they’ll be given the opportunity to add to their characters’ skill lists. Most of combat is based around moving with the on-screen directional pad, attacking with one button, and using skills with various other buttons. There’s a bit of trial-and-error that goes along with using skills, as the game doesn’t have a simple way of labeling buttons, but this  is not a serious issue. (more…)

Dots review

dotsDots: A Game About Connecting is an iOS release from Betaworks One. It is available as a free download from the App Store and carries additional in-app purchases.

The game is a fast-paced puzzle that’s all about connecting dots of the same color. There are no gimmicks or traps, leading to a level of simplicity that’s rarely found in games. When first opened, the game instructs players to connect a couple dots. When the player slides his or her finger from one dot to the next, a line forms between them and they disappear. After a few similar trials, the tutorial comes to an end and players are sent to the game’s main screen, which features two options: “Play Now” and “Menu”.

Selecting “Play Now” drops the player into a game of Dots. The premise is simple: Players are given 60 seconds to clear out as many dots as possible. Any time two or more dots of the same color sit adjacent, players can draw a line through their path in any non-diagonal direction. Any dots caught in this line will disappear and the dots above them will fall down to fill the empty spots. New dots are generated from the top. Though this part of the game is not unique, when players manage to touch one part of the line to another, creating a box, all the dots of that color will be removed from the screen. This creates a quick way to earn points, and creates a new layer of strategy. Instead of clearing the most dots in one turn (thus scoring the most points), players may want to find ways to set up a box, allowing them to be in position for a high-scoring turn. (more…)

Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD review

Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD app iconAce Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD is an iOS release from Capcom. It’s available now as a free download from the Apple App Store and carries additional in-app purchases.

Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD brings together the first three releases of Capcom’s famous Ace Attorney series and provides their first release in HD. The games put the player in the role of Phoenix Wright, a young attorney with a habit of finding himself defending accused murderers. Right from the start, the game offers a cutscene that shows the first victim and her killer, and it’s up to Phoenix Wright to prove that his client was framed and reveal the identity of the real killer. To do so, players will need to battle in the courtroom, picking apart testimony and presenting evidence. Outside the courtroom, players will guide Phoenix through numerous areas, collecting evidence, speaking to witnesses, and uncovering details, all to discover the truth.

The entirety to the game is based on understanding the facts and breaking down every piece of testimony. While most cases stand well on their own, some of them connect with each other and make references to past cases, which can be important. Players who aren’t up for a ton of reading will be instantly turned off, because the Ace Attorney series is based around reading and dissecting dialogue. Players will be captivated by each character’s personality and choices. Each story is long, but they’re separated into enough parts where players won’t need to commit too much time to enjoy the games. (more…)

Dead Ahead review

Dead Ahead app iconDead Ahead is an iOS release from Chillingo. It’s available now as an ad-supported free download from the Apple App Store and carries additional in-app purchases.

Dead Ahead is an endless runner-like game that gives the player a motorcycle, a gun, and a ton of zombies. Players start off in the forest with just a scooter and a pistol. Moving at a slow pace, they’ll need to drag their finger up and down the right end of the screen to navigate their character around roadblocks, parked cars, and plenty of zombies. Occasionally, zombies will begin charging at players from behind, so they’ll need to either use the accelerate button to outrun them, or fire their weapon to shoot them down. It’s not a concept that’s entirely original, but could be implemented well.

Right off the bat, that’s one of the most noticeable problems with Dead Ahead. In theory, players dragging their fingers along the right side of the road is a neat way to control steering. In practice, the movement of the bikes feel sluggish, and holding the right edge of the screen causes players to not see part of the screen, creating somewhat of a blind spot. The blind spot itself wouldn’t be bad, but the slow steering and occasionally fast speed of the motorcycles require players to have an almost-instant reaction time. Once the running zombies are factored in, the experience is much more frustrating and difficult than it needs to be. Dead Ahead is a situation where numerous little issues come together and create a larger issue that hurts the entire game. (more…)

Apoc Wars review

apocApoc Wars is an iOS game from DeNA. It is available now for free in the Apple App Store and carries additional in-app purchases.

Apoc Wars is a post-apocalyptic strategy game that combines a cartoony style with military gameplay. When players first open Apoc Wars, they’ll be prompted to either sign into Mobage or create an account. After that, players are presented with a view of a desert wasteland and are tossed into the game’s tutorial. The tutorial goes over almost all the game’s essential features, including combat, team building, and base construction. There are numerous games like Apoc Wars, so many players won’t need the tutorial, but those who are new to the genre will find that it does a great, albeit quick, job at explaining how the game works.

Once players finish the tutorial, they’re sent out on their own with little more than an empty base. From there, players are encouraged to expand their base and strengthen their defenses so they can best deal with various enemy threats. Users who need some extra guidance can turn to the “Missions” menu. Missions are small goals that allow players to earn extra resources and in-game currency without having to spend much money. Most missions take no more than a couple minutes, though some will require a few extra steps before they can be accomplished. Players don’t need to complete missions or claim their rewards, but they’re highly encouraged to, as many rewards are well worth their time and require little effort.Apoc Wars screenshot

Combat is the main focus of Apoc Wars’s gameplay. As players expand their base and forces, they’re preparing themselves for the various combat situations that arise. When a player is ready to initiate combat on their own, they’re given a list of AI-controlled opponents that are ready for battle. At first, this list is simply populated by low-level opponents who aren’t willing to put up much of a fight. As time goes on, players will battle bigger and stronger rivals, which give out bigger rewards. As long as players continue to strengthen their troops, these enemies aren’t much of a threat, but they will cause occasional casualties. The bigger threat for many players will be defense. Players will need to organize their base in a way that best protects their command center, as they will occasionally be attacked. Most of the early combat will be with AI-controlled baddies. Once players make alliances they can team up to take on others, but this currently feels limited. Hopefully future updates add to the multiplayer functionality.

Apoc Wars monetizes through Blood Money, an in-game currency. Players are given a large chunk of Blood Money at the start, and they’ll earn small amounts as they progress through missions, but players who need more can buy bundles. Blood Money bundles range from $0.99 for a pack of ten up to $99.99 for a pack of 1250. Smaller bundles are hardly worth it for most players, as ten Blood Money will rarely purchase anything of value. Players who start spending around $20 will be able to buy upgrades and equipment at a rapid pace, allowing their forces to be stronger than ever.

Apoc Wars is a fun game that will appeal mostly to the hardcore crowd looking for a new strategy game. The unique visuals will likely draw in a few extra players, while the in-depth tutorial will help keep them around. The problem with Apoc Wars isn’t that it’s bad, it just doesn’t feel wholly original. There are other games that follow the same formula, and Apoc Wars fails to do anything to draw attention to itself. Players who pick it up will find that it’s worth their time, but only time will tell how long its current player base will remain engaged.

You can follow Apoc Wars’s progress on AppData, our tracking tool for mobile and social apps and developers.

WAIT

Apoc Wars doesn’t feel entirely original, but it’s somewhat fun, provided other players continue to play.

Tetris Blitz review

Tetris Blitz app iconTetris Blitz is an iOS and Android app from Electronic Arts (EA). The game is now available for free with ads on the Apple App Store and Google Play and carries additional in-app purchases.

Electronic Arts’ previous attempt at a mobile Tetris failed to make fans believe the classic fast-paced puzzle game could make the transition to a touch screen device. The reflexes and precision required to succeed when the pace increases proved to be something touch controls weren’t ready to handle. Tetris Blitz, EA’s new venture into the world of Tetris, makes key changes to the classic formula and the experience is much better because of it.

Tetris Blitz is a far cry from the arcade style of classic Tetris. The entire premise of Tetris Blitz is that each round is played in two-minute bursts. This allows for quick sessions, much like PopCap’s Bejeweled Blitz. Blocks still drop from the top, but their pace is much slower than previous games, giving players a chance to plan their moves carefully, rather than rely on reflexes. When the blocks start dropping, players are greeted with three outlines of where the block could fit. If none of them are worthwhile, the block can be rotated and three new positions will be offered. When a player finds the best spot, they can tap on the outline and the block automatically drops into that position. Once an entire line is filled, it vanishes, and higher blocks fall down. The controls make Tetris Blitz feel simpler, but the core gameplay remains intact. Once the two-minute round is over, the score is calculated and players can compare their results to their friends, if they’ve logged into Facebook.  (more…)

Battlestone review

Battlestone app iconBattlestone is an iOS and Android release from Zynga. It’s available now as a free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play and carries additional in-app purchases.

Battlestone is Zynga’s first venture into the realm of action RPGs. Battlestone starts off with a brief tutorial that goes over the controls of the game. The core gameplay loops are simple: get to the end of the level, accomplish the set goal, and destroy enemies along the way. It’s a theme that’s not entirely original, but Battlestone executes it just as well as any other mobile game. The controls are a simple matter of tapping where the character should move, swiping enemies to attack them, and pressing various on-screen buttons to perform numerous tasks. Battlestone’s gameplay is simple, but it can be a lot of fun.

The tutorial also introduces players to the large amount of work that takes place outside the battlefield. Using gems and coins earned from playing (or via in-app purchase), players can buy new characters or power up the ones they already own. If players get a hold of duplicate or other unwanted characters, they can fuse them with others, allowing characters to become stronger quicker. Players are also encouraged to sign into their Zynga account and join guilds, groups of other players who can assist each other. There are a few other ways players interact with each other, but the biggest is a player vs. player duel feature, where a player can fight another player’s character and earn potentially large rewards.Battlestone screenshot

There are a ton of rewards and items to collect in Battlestone. The top of the menu screen shows off various in-game currencies and collectibles. Gems and coins are used to purchase in-game goods, potions are consumed to go on quests, and stars and trophies mark single and multiplayer progress. Multiplayer is a tad thin, and comes down to guild interaction and duels, but single player features a lot of content that will challenge many players. Single player is built around a series of quests. Each quest has its own goal and completing enough quests will unlock a boss stage. If the boss is defeated, a new map is opened and the process starts over. It’s a simple process, but the game’s difficulty will challenge players of all skill levels.

Battlestone’s monetization comes through purchasing coins and gems. Both currencies can be obtained in-game, but neither comes frequently. Gems can be used to purchase nearly every item, so a lack of gems is always noticeable. The bundles for each of these currencies ranges from $0.99 to $99.99. Players will generally need to spend at least $19.99 to get any real value from their bundles, especially with gems. Players who don’t spend much money on gems will still have many items available for purchase, but they’re also likely to miss out on buying new characters. If a player unlocks a character solely through purchasing gems, it’ll cost about $9.99. Many players may not enjoy spending $10 to unlock a random character, possibly hurting appeal to the core audience.

Overall, Battlestone is an excellent action RPG that will likely appeal to core gamers looking for a bit of action on their mobile devices. The controls work very well, and the gameplay is able to appear to both casual and experienced gamers. The array of character management options might feel a tad overwhelming for casual players, but the tutorial does an excellent job explaining how it works. The high price of in-game currency will likely turn off many players, but those who do spend will be able to get a good bang for their buck.

You can follow Battlestone’s progress on AppData, our tracking tool for mobile and social apps and developers.

PLAY

A simple role-playing game with a ton of depth and strategy.

Combo Crew review

combocrewCombo Crew is an iOS and Android app from The Game Bakers. It is now available for $1.99 on the App Store and Google Play and carries no additional in-app purchases.

Combo Crew takes inspiration from arcade-style beat’em up titles, like Double Dragon and Final Fight. The arcade influence of the title is apparent from the start, with the shallow music most users will quickly forget. Combo Crew has a ton of potential in its presentation and gameplay. There are a handful of character that can fight their way through a ton of levels. Each character has his or her own set of quirks and maneuvers, and the amount of customization is enough to leave the most serious of players satisfied for a long time. The one thing holding Combo Crew back is that the gameplay isn’t very fun.

When players first hop into Combo Crew, there’s one game mode available, King of the Tower. The first few stages of King of the Tower work as the game’s tutorial. Each level starts off with the selected character surrounded by enemies, and the player must swipe the screen where they want the character to attack. Typically, the faster players swipe, the faster characters attack, but there’s a limit on speed. Players can also swipe and hold the screen to perform a power attack, capable of hitting a guarding enemy. When a player has an opening, they can also unleash a combo attack by swiping with two fingers. Finally, if players can land enough hits in a short amount of time, they can use a super attack, potentially hitting all enemies on screen. The simplicity to fighting could be the game’s biggest asset, but it turns into its biggest issue. Many fights turn into swiping the screen furiously, and countering enemy attacks when necessary, removing the sense of fun and challenge from the gameplay. (more…)

Jawfish Poker review

Jawfish Poker app iconJawfish Poker is an iOS release from Jawfish Games. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and carries additional in-app purchases.

There are a ton of poker games on the market, and few manage to stand out. For every successful poker app, there’s a handful that follow the same formula and fail to pick up any momentum. The lack of diversity found in poker games creates an opening for games that are able to follow the basic concept of poker, but add its own spin. Jawfish Poker is a wonderful example of taking a popular idea, making a tiny change, and feeling a major impact.

Jawfish Poker is based around Texas Hold’em. Players are each given two cards, five cards are placed in the middle, and whoever can make the best five-card poker hand will win the round. Jawfish Poker takes that popular idea, and makes a change to one of the biggest parts of the game — betting. Real poker features a level of competitive betting every time new hands are dealt and new cards are shown. Jawfish Poker removes the deep level of strategy that comes from large groups and frequent betting. Instead, the system is based around one-on-one matchups where players get two choices: fold or go all-in. Serious poker enthusiasts may find this setup to be odd or downright childish, but casual fans who crave fast-paced gameplay may find exactly what their looking for.Jawfish Poker screenshot

There are two main modes to Jawfish Poker: Tournaments and King of the Hill. Tournaments are a series of head-to-head hands where players bet all or nothing and the last remaining competitor wins. There are three entry fee levels for tournaments, using in-game gold. The more gold players pay up front, the larger the prize pool is. Players who want to fight for the largest possible prize will be more interested in King of the Hill. This mode works similar to tournaments, but players can enter with various amounts of gold. The goal in King of the Hill is to continuously earn gold and battle to the top of the leaderboard in order to win the jackpot once the timer runs out. Competition is fierce in King of the Hill and users with large amounts of gold have a distinct advantage, but wisely playing the odds gives everyone a fair shot. (more…)

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