Posts Tagged ‘iOS’

Phrase Shift Review

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Developer: Hyper Hippo Games
Publisher: Hyper Hippo Games
Platform: PC – Steam, Mobile – Android, iOS

With so many puzzle games out in the world it often seems like there’s no way to create something new. Well, Phrase Shift does exactly that. At first, it looks like someone cut out a small segment of a word search. Each puzzle offers one vertical column and multiple horizontal columns with words intersecting it. You’re also given a clue.

Unlike a word search which has you fill in everything, the horizontal words are already set per puzzle. So your goal is actually to shift the horizontal words left or right until the letters which intersect with your vertical bar form a word which fits with the given clue. It might sound confusing, but all you need is to play a level or two to grasp the concept.

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Once you do, get ready for a ton of enjoyment playing Phrase Shift. The game includes level batches of twenty in different categories: Food, Science, Animals, etc. For the most part, I knew all the vocabulary (even if it took a bit of guessing to bring them to mind). Some sections, such as Movies, might be tough for folks who have absolutely no interest or awareness of American pop culture.

Phrase Shift is a perfect game to come to after a long day at work. It allows you to both turn off your brain as well as give it the reward of solving (mostly) simple puzzles. I’ve enjoyed my time slowly working through the sections one by one. Unlike most games, I desire to play this one to 100% completion.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Pokémon Shuffle Review

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Developer: Genius Sonority
Publisher: The Pokémon Company
Platform: 3DS, Mobile – Android, iOS

It’s funny how much I’ve begun to embrace the idea of mobile gaming (though I obviously still vastly prefer consoles and handhelds). I used to be extremely against mobile games for a variety of reasons, but I finally caved sometime in the last year or so and begun playing several different ones. Pokémon Shuffle is my most recent mobile game obsession, and for a good reason.

Basically, Pokémon Shuffle is a match 3 puzzle game. You must match the same Pokémon in order to deal damage to your opponent and beat the stage. Pokémon Shuffle keeps things interesting by allowing you to use a bevy of different Pokémon on your team. Furthermore, you must keep in consideration the attack power, types, and skills of your Pokémon in order to assure victory and high stage rankings. Some stages are pretty simple and easy, especially in the beginning. However, they eventually become more complex and require a bit of critical thinking due to opponents creating “disruptions” that can make things quite hectic. There are also “expert stages” that are timed, and as such, really test your puzzle skills and dexterity!

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Now, I tried to play the original version of Pokémon Shuffle on the 3DS, but I just wasn’t feeling it after trudging through the initial tutorial stages. I decided to give Pokémon Shuffle a second chance when it released for mobile devices, and boy did I instantly like it much more on my phone than 3DS. Maybe it’s because of the vertical one-screen layout, or it could be because it’s easier to use a mobile device’s touchscreen versus the 3DS’s. It’s also way more gorgeous and vibrant.

Unfortunately, the mobile version of Pokémon Shuffle retains some of the same annoyances that were present in the 3DS version. For one, the wait time between regaining hearts (or energy) is ludicrous at 30 minutes. Another issue includes absolutely ridiculous stages and capture rates that pretty much require you to spend your precious coins on power-ups and great balls. Alas, this is a freemium game, so such problems are expected and have to be tolerated.

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Even weeks after release, I’m still fervently playing Pokémon Shuffle. It’s just too addicting and fun, and has me hopeful for Nintendo’s future on mobile platforms.


Pink Score: 4
4 out of 5 alpacas


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Steven Universe: Attack the Light Review

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Developer: Grumpyface Studios
Publisher: Cartoon Network
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS

As fantastic as RPGs are, many folks simply don’t have time to play them. They’re long, full of grinding, and sometimes the battle mechanics are more complex than necessary. Steven Universe: Attack the Light distills the turn-based RPG formula into something short, and immediately enjoyable. This is true even if you haven’t watched the show, though existing fans are the target audience.

Steven Universe: Attack the Light positions players in control of a four character party – Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, and Steven. Each offers their own attacks and special skills, while Steven serves primarily as support. Fights themselves take inspiration from Paper Mario wherein timing touchscreen presses lends to stronger attacks from your team or weakened hits from enemies. As a fan of Paper Mario it was news of this mechanic which urged me to give the game a download (despite having not watched a single episode of Steven Universe at that point!).

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With that said, even at the price of $2.99 it’s obvious this isn’t as expansive a product. Each dungeon is quick and story interludes are incredibly brief, serving more as dressing than anything else. My biggest complaint is simply that I don’t know what device Steven Universe: Attack the Light is made for. On tablet, the wide distance between areas you’re meant to touch is cumbersome. On smartphones, the radial attack menu is quite small and imprecise. Basically, the game presents a literal strain on my hands after a chunk of playtime when compared to others.

Despite my frustration with the game’s interface, the actual RPG play is easily enjoyable. If not for my troubles I would have blown through chapters far quicker! If you’re looking for a simple RPG to play on the go this is a fine option. Finally, if you’re opposed to paid products, Steven Universe: Attack the Light is a much better proposition than those free games littered with ads and confusingly labeled in-app purchases.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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AdVenture Capitalist Review

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Developer: Hyper Hippo Productions
Publisher: Hyper Hippo Productions
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Steam, Web

 The incremental game genre is super weird to folks who’ve never experienced it firsthand before. Basically, these titles are gaming-ness distilled to a very pure form. In AdVenture Capitalist you’re simply presented with a screen of potential businesses for you to buy out and profit from. The lemonade stand is your first business, but soon enough you’ve moved onto a pizza parlor – and then your own hockey team because why not?

All you do is click the business you wish to buy more of and expend some cash. After owning enough of one the speed at which you receive profits from it increases. Upgrades and managers multiple profits further, leading to eventual profits far surpassing the trillions. It’s a very tongue-in-cheek (and simplified!) version of capitalism but the framing makes more sense than Cookie Clicker at least.

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So basically, AdVenture Capitalist is all about clicking icons every so often, closing the game, and letting it accrue funds overnight and then repeating the procedure. Every so often you’ll even want to reset back to 0 businesses in order to gain angel investors. Angel investors add a 2% bonus apiece each restart which means future playthroughs gain immense amounts of cash faster each time.

This incredibly simplistic format is one which most incremental games thrive on and is definitely a love it or hate it sort of thing. If you enjoyed Cookie Clicker, Clicker Heroes, or Candy Box though it’s worth a download. I don’t find it nearly as charming as my preferred Cookie Clicker (which delves into such wonderfully ridiculous territory), but hey, it’s a free game on Steam for me to indulge on between actually playing games.


Score: 3
3 out of 5 alpacas


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Alpaca Party Review

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Developer: Meow Puff Games
Publisher: Meow Puff Games
Platform: Android, iOS (coming soon)

When we at Pixel Pacas first saw Alpaca Party on Kickstarter, there was absolutely no hesitation before pledging towards the project. After all, we obviously love alpacas! Thankfully, it did meet its goal and now the world finally gets to see the adorable, fluffy fruits of Meow Puff Games’ labor. But is there more to Alpaca Party than just cuteness?

The main gist of Alpaca Party is, well, to throw the ultimate alpaca party. In order to do so, you must buy party favors, upgrade your tunes, and invite different alpacas. All this requires coins, which is simply done by shearing your grooving partygoers when their wool grows long enough. At first, you’ll only be getting alpacas that give very little coins. But as you continue upgrading your alpaca license, you’ll be able to invite rarer alpacas that give out tons of coins.

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There’s also an extra little mini game that Alpaca Party offers called Floaty Alpaca, which plays exactly like Flappy Bird. While Floaty Alpaca does offer coins, it’s nowhere near the amount that you’re able to earn by simply shearing your alpacas in the main mode. It is a nice and charming distraction, however!

Honestly, that’s pretty much all the gameplay that Alpaca Party has to speak of. However, there’s something oddly addictive about it. While I’m doing other things, I’ve been letting Alpaca Party run on my phone on and off since its debut in late December in order to shear my alpacas and earn coins. It’s such an exhilarating feeling when you’re finally able to afford a new party favor or alpaca license! Though the best part, of course, is finding a brand new, super cute alpaca to add to your dancing menagerie.

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So far, Alpaca Party is only available for Android devices. iOS users need not fret, as Alpaca Party should also be available for them soon enough. In any case, if you’re looking for something adorable, captivating, and different, then definitely download and check Alpaca Party out. Best of all, it’s free!


Pink Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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80 Days Review

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Developer: inkle
Publisher: inkle
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS

Around the World in 80 Days is one of those novels that has inspired an incredible amount of creative thought. Somehow, I’m not sure that there was ever a game based off the classic journey before now. 80 Days places you into the role of Phileas Fogg’s valet – rather than Fogg himself. It’s an interesting role to play as you must both determine what route you travel upon as well as keep your gentleman company.

80 Days falls strongly into the gamebook mold and that’s anything but a bad thing. As each day passes you must choose where to go, who to talk to, what to talk about, and how to best care for Fogg as well. Talking with others not only passes the time (and reveals some great writing) but can unveil new pathways for the illustrious trip. Of course you could simply stick to the default path but that would be the most boring adventure ever. Explore, converse, and enjoy this stunning world inkle has put together!

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Unlike the novel from which it’s based, 80 Days stick you in a sort of alternate reality where steampunk and sci-fi aspects are everyday. This injects the game with more excitement as you can never be sure what awaits you in the next location. Unlike most mobile games, this one looks incredibly unique. The stylish framing of letters, excellent use of colors, map travel animations, and everything else come together to make this experience as visceral as travelling around the world via your smartphone can be.

Days are your biggest currency and worry. Get to a location too late, or simply waste your time and you’ll have to spend days before the next mode of transportation arrives. Sure, it’s the player’s fault, but it’s annoying all the same. And, while this is an odd complaint, 80 Days doesn’t feel like a “mobile” game because it is a title you want to play for long stretches at time. In any case, this is a standout title which Android and iOS gamers are lucky to have access to.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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LYNE Review

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Developer: Thomas Bowker
Publisher: Thomas Bowker
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS, Windows PC – Direct, itch.io Steam

What makes a puzzle game enjoyable? Usually, it’s a heavy focus on one very simple concept that takes skill to master. LYNE follows this principle perfectly thanks to an easy to grasp component of drawing lines. All you have to do is make connecting lines between shapes of the same color. The tricky part comes in thanks to limited spaces in which to draw these lines, as well as the requirement of connecting multiple colors without crossing pathways. Things quickly get challenging, but in a way that facilitates continued play.

I won’t lie, my first attempt at LYNE was superbly pitiful. After barely being introduced to the core components I found myself completely stuck. After frustrated fumbling I closed the game and came back to it later. Lo and behold, that brief time away allowed me to think about the problem from a different angle and solve it. Many puzzle games are like this and it’s that moment once you first start to really “grasp” the core mechanics that you can feel smart while whizzing through puzzles. The more I played, the better I became. Eventually there were even periods that I entered into the “puzzle zone” and seemed to solve many in a row with no issue at all.

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LYNE is a game for people who enjoy these types of experiences, and simply want a playful title to mess with. The price is super low at $2.99, but the amount of puzzles included is frankly astronomical by comparison. Beyond the main selection of hundreds of puzzles there are also daily puzzles. These procedurally-generated puzzles come in different difficulties and are all still quite fun. Although I’ve yet to complete it, there’s probably at least six hours of main-game puzzles to work through. It would be nice if hints were available though to help in those moments where you feel impossibly stuck.

Beyond the enjoyable, and sometimes super difficult puzzle gameplay, it just looks good. The calm colors, paired with some really stylish design, helps it stand out from the puzzler pack. It also functions well, although a few tweaks could help a lot. My biggest gripe is not being able to partially redraw lines on my own terms instead of being forced to undo on their terms. Really, what needs to be emphasized about LYNE is the incredible wealth of solid gameplay you get. This is an excellent puzzle game and players get a huge value for their money.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Appointment with F.E.A.R. Review

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Developer: Tin Man Games
Publisher: Tin Man Games
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – DirectSteam

The Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks began in the early 80s where legions of readers picked them up. Unfortunately, I missed out on this whole world of gamebooks until discovering Tin Man Games. Their digital renditions are tremendously enjoyable, especially Appointment with F.E.A.R. which is a video game version of the 1985 book.

Players begin by crafting a hero to play as. Customization options aren’t immense, but you can select between two genders, races, outfit colors, and superhero skill set. Each superpower tweaks how you’ll be able to react to situations that arise during the storyline. Because you’ll very likely have to play through more than once you’ll be able to see how different heroes handle issues.

Since Appointment with F.E.A.R. is basically a digital book it shares a lot of common ground with typical visual novels. The story is presented via text and there are many points where players choose between a few decisions. All the art is also comic book-inspired which definitely makes the presentation more dynamic. Unlike most visual novels, fights also break out. At this point you select attacks and try to whittle down the enemy’s HP before running out yourself. Weirdly, one fight I encountered glitched out leaving me with 0 HP and stuck in the scene.

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The storyline is typical comic fare with an evil group, F.E.A.R., planning something diabolical. Your entire goal is to find clues throughout the city in order to find their headquarters and meeting time before it’s too late. With only three days to accomplish this you likely won’t win the first time. Thanks to the enjoyable writing and variety of choices it’s not painful to replay. In fact, it’s tremendously fun to explore new areas or see what would happen if you chose differently.

Some may notice that Appointment with F.E.A.R. is cheaper on mobile platforms than PC. If you don’t mind the mode of play, then mobile is a bargain! However, the Steam version offers nice benefits too via controller support, achievements, and trading cards. Controller supportworks, but a little spotty. During a playthrough my game suddenly stopped showing controller prompts (which highlights a currently selected option). So far it seems Tin Man Games is quickly responding to bugs with patches, at least.

Appointment with F.E.A.R. is a fantastic, goofy superhero adventure that will last you at least two hours to finally beat. Play it via whatever platform you desire and you shouldn’t be disappointed.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Pretentious Game Review

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Developer: Keybol
Publisher: Bulkypix, Plug In Digital
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Armor Games, Steam

Pretentious is a word that many have used to describe the indie game community as of late. To some, video games that attempt to tell depressing, unique, or otherwise non-normative stories are purely seeking attention. They are quite pretentious. Although I don’t agree with the sentiment I was very intrigued to play a game with the gall to call itself Pretentious Game!

Pretentious Game is actually a series of four games (first released as Flash games online) that features simple graphics and gameplay. You play as a square, sometimes two, and platform in a 2D space toward completion. Much of what makes Pretentious Game is how it tweaks the long-established platformer formula.

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Each stage features a bit of text and this hints directly at how to solve each stage’s “puzzle” aspect. For example, an early stage suggests that flying would be neat. Lo and behold, your block can suddenly glide through the air for that level! Sometimes the hints are a bit more convoluted, as are the methods of activating them, but it still doesn’t take long to run through each one. It took me a little under an hour to beat Pretentious Game 1-4. Each tells its own vignettes and these were more interesting than expected given Pretentious Game’s own title.

Right now there are only four chapters and each is free on Flash game portals. Mobile devices offer the first for free and then ask for an in-app purchase to unlock the rest. In comparison, Steam’s $4.99 fee seems a bit steep. The graphics are improved and you get access to all future chapters, but if you don’t require PC play then mobile’s your best bet.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Fist of Awesome Review

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Developer: I Fight Bears
Publisher: I Fight Bears
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS, Ouya PC – Humble Store, Steam

For better or for worse, sidescrolling beat ’em ups have mostly disappeared from the modern gaming landscape. It’s up to indie developers to keep the genre alive with unique twists. Fist of Awesome attempts to reinvigorate audiences by punching intelligent future/past bears. It’s weird, wacky, and fairly short but a neat little brawler.

The star of Fist of Awesome is lumberjack Tim Burr (yep!). Things start out all lovely with his flannel-clad family celebrating something or other when things go completely wrong. Suddenly, Tim is alone and his fist has grown in size and begun talking to him. This apparent future fist explains that the present has been destroyed by time-travelling causing bears to take over the world. How can you set thing straight? Just punch all the bears!

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Fighting is incredibly simplistic. You can kick, punch, jump (kick), and a teensy bit more. By holding down on punch you charge a special fist attack. There is an upgrade system in place but increasing your attack or speed doesn’t change much. All in all, levels blend together really quickly as you rarely need to switch from rapidly pressing the punch button. You pound on groupings of bears before reaching a boss. Each stage is short which means the game takes under two hours to beat. After that, you can try out arena mode or a harder difficulty.

As simple as the fighting mechanic is I had fun trying to punch and kick my way through each chapter. I appreciated the lanky pixel art and definitely enjoyed the soundtrack. Fist of Awesome is definitely a simple game and as such may be better purchased on Android or iOS for $3.99. That way you can get your bear-punching on the go and at a lower price!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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