If the title of this satirical little retro platform title comes off a bit confusing, know that it is a shortened version of a much longer title: FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE 2 PLAY! This is a game that intentionally pokes fun at the Free-to-Play business structure that developers and publishers so love right now, while daring to embrace the formula itself. Can this little platformer hop to new heights or does it fall into the ever-growing pay-to-win pits of flawed F2P titles?
The inspirations from the great Super Mario Bros. that dominated the 8-bit era is instantly apparent here. A princess is in dire need of rescuing from the evil ogre named Ug, whom floats around on the top of the screen upon a cloud with a smiling face. The simple graphical design used here emulates the notorious plumber’s world so much so that a quick glance could easily mistake it as a snippet from an early Mario game. It sounds the part too. Elevate Entertainment’s previous title, Lumena: A No-Nonsense Rhythm Game, featured a fantastic electronic soundtrack from Modbon, and the composer delivers yet again with a lively chip tune soundtrack. [Review Score: 2.5/5 Stars]
Undercroft might have started its life off as a paid app on the iOS Marketplace, but it’s absolutely free today. It’s one of the best apps on the marketplace and entirely worthy of anyone’s time. Coming from the talented team at Jagex Games Studio – the same team who brought the wildly popular RuneScape to life – Undercroft harkens back to the days of old, bringing forth an old-school first-person turn-based RPG dungeon crawler game play style that’s sure to scratch any genre fans itch.
With notable titles in the genre that many assumed would die creeping up over the past few years (i.e. Legend of Grimrock, Paper Sorcerer, Might and Magic X), maybe you’ve wondered what these games are all about, and haven’t wanted to take the risk? Tile-based RPG titles are not a norm in this modern age of the industry and when gamers today think of “old-school” and “hardcore” games, to many these games are instantly near inaccessible due to the extreme difficulty in their game play. Undercroft is a solid entry point for today’s gamers, as it does a superb job of easing the player into the world and its unique play style.
RedLynx is no stranger to the iOS Marketplace; the fantastic port of its WiiWare hit MotoHeroz, Monster Truck Nitro and its DrawRace games have all been found in the top rankings of the charts throughout the years. As an avid fan of its Trials series though, it’s a little disheartening that the team hasn’t brought its trademark game play style to touchscreen devices to test not only our skills, but our nerves as well.
If you played MotoHeroz on either WiiWare or iOS, you’ll know that RedLynx took its Trials game play and dipped it into a fun-filled world packed with cutesy super deformed characters, colourful environmental aesthetics and forgiving physics, instead of the tyre treads, dirty paths and rusty warehouses we’re accustomed to from other RedLynx titles. Trials Frontier flips us into a (American) Western themed game world that’s loaded with wacky denizens, death defying courses and a host of new game play gimmicks, courtesy of the built-in F2P mechanics. There’s a lot of fun to had here, especially for Trials fans, but you’ll have to work for it – and not just on the track. [Review Score: 3/5 Stars]
Jumping right out of its sandbox, Ooga Jump takes the Pocket God franchise to new heights; literally. Developer Bolt Creative has taken advantage of what the mobile phones are best at doing to give players a new way to experience its popular franchise. While you’ve seen everything this game offers elsewhere before, there’s a lot of enjoyment to be found all the same.
The game is a standard auto-jumper, where you’ll tilt your device to keep the avatar landing on platforms in the hopes of climbing as high as possible. It’s the style that’s found here that makes it so charming. Vibrant tunes and colourful visuals do a fantastic job of keeping the challenging gameplay free of frustration while the game’s avatar, the Pygmy, bounces and flips around gleefully as he traverses the treacherous platforms; it’s apparent that he thinks he’s the ‘god’ of more than just pockets, for sure. [Review Score: 3/5 Stars]
When you jump into one of Game Atelier’s games, you rest assured that you’ll find a gaming experience that’s delightful to the senses, with signature colourful visuals and upbeat tunes.
In its latest release, Tiny Death, the team have created an awesome leading character; a squashed down (and entirely too cute) version of the Grim Reaper. This beautiful 2D platforming title oozes the team’s unique style, and yet the adoption of a Free-to-Play purchase model puts a few unwanted skeletons in its closet along the way. [Review Score: 3/5 Stars]
Early this year, Real Racing 3 turned the media’s attention to the racing genre on iOS devices, much like Mario Kart Wii’s plastic steering wheel peripheral did for the Wii. While Real Racing 3’s beautiful graphics and social integration kept us racing for 40+ hours here at the DDNet offices, its free-to-play model eventually found us growing frustrated and moving on to other titles. 2K Games clearly understands those frustrations and brings a more home console-styled gameplay experience with 2K Drive to our iOS devices, in the hopes of putting us right back into the driver’s seat once again.
While Real Racing 3’s focus was on a variety of street and drag races, 2K Drive doesn’t stop there: dirt tracks, salt flats and drift courses fill the event list, while mini game styled events like bowling and evading missile fire from a helicopter continually keep things interesting. Arising from the remnants of Bizarre Creations (Project Gotham Racing), Lucid Games delivers a racing style that’s somewhat similar to its past, but with a lot more suspension physics this go around – finding a nice middle ground arcade/simulation mix to the racing that keeps the action challenging and fun.
I think I just woke up in the early 90s. While the surge in indie games has brought an overabundance of retro titles, FDG Entertainment’s Bloody Harry does not even claim that its game has a retro appeal in the game’s description on the iOS Marketplace. Yet, it’s one of the most retro titles I’ve come across in a good while and I’m not even sure if it was intentional.
If you’re like me, you remember the early 90s fondly? Skin tight pajamas on teenagers fighting cosplay alien, err… things, otherwise known as the Power Rangers, was considered to be cool and sewer inhabiting, pizza eating ninja turtles were totally awesome. Okay, the turtles are still awesome, but my point here is – the characters/series that we loved back then were, well… kind of nuts. [Review Score: 3.5/5 Stars]
I’ve played some strange games in the 27 or so years that I’ve been playing video games, but Zorbie is one of the most extraordinarily strange titles I’ve ever come across.
Zorbie, the game’s titular hero, is an escaped convict from a French prison and like all good prison escapees, he’s got a heavy axe and he’s very hungry. Don’t worry denizens of France, Zorbie doesn’t actually use his axe on people, he only hurls it into the air to knock birds out of the sky, which he then eats, err… raw. Yes, I did tell you that this is one of the strangest titles I’ve ever played. [Review Score: 3.5/5]
Two former RedLynx developers parted ways with the Trials series and formed a small independent studio, called Frogmind. The team’s first title, Badland, has landed on the iOS Marketplace, bringing top-notch visuals and the signature trial-and-error styled gameplay that we are so familiar with in RedLynx’s games.
Taking cues from the stark aesthetics found in other notorious indie titles like Limbo and NightSky, Badland’s visuals are a tour de force for what Retina-enabled visuals are capable of achieving; by that I mean this game is absolutely stunning to witness in action. By making perfect use of the parallax scrolling technique, the foreground holds the dark aesthetics similar to Limbo, but the background layers find enormously detailed fantasy environments; the contrast between the two layers is dark, bold and beautiful. It’s also pleasing to the auditory senses as well, making clever use of a wide assortment of ambient environmental noises – combining together to perfectly set the atmospheric, eerie mood of this unique title. [Review Score: 3.5/5]
Sometimes a developer just gets it. Said developer takes both the advantages and the disadvantages of the platform it’s developing for and creates a virtual gaming experience that suits it. Tim and Snoof’s Pili Pili Rush shows that it’s a developer that understands what it is that we as gamers want to play on our iPhones whist on the go; giving us an addictively charming little iOS platformer that’s sure to brighten your day, whether you play it for an hour or only a few minutes with each play. [Review Score: 4.5/5]