Review: FFFFF2P (iPhone)


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]


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Review – Lumena: A No-Nonsense Rhythm Game (iPhone)

If Terry Cavanagh’s retro rhythm game Super Hexagon was a NES title, Lumena: A No-Nonsense Rhythm Game would be its Game Boy Color younger sibling.

Fans of electronica music and brutal difficulty levels take note, Elevate Entertainment will likely be the next developer to send iPhones flying through the air in frustration, only to find them picked right back up for another go (assuming they still work, of course).

The subtitle says it all, really; “A No-Nonsense Rhythm Game” is exactly what Lumena truly is, and that’s not a bad thing at all. A static screen brings the play field to life with two neon coloured circles – the smaller of which being found in the centre of the larger one. The outer circle has eight parts which pulse and spin to the beats of the electronica soundtrack, and flicking the centre circle, or disc, into the a matching coloured side of the outer circle keeps the game in motion. Fail to flick the disc longer than four seconds or into a matching coloured side of the outer circle and it’s game over. Simple and effective. [Review Score: 4/5 Stars]

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Freeware Focus: Undercroft (iOS)

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.

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Review: Trials Frontier (iPhone)

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]

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Early Impressions: Coldfire Keep (iOS); Old-School Dungeon Crawling at the Fingertips

Cresent Moon Games’ titles are no stranger to my iOS devices. From the The Elder Scrolls-inspired open world action/RPG, Ravensword: Shadowlands – followed by its much improved sequel, Aralon: Sword and Shadow – to the charming one-touch icy racing found in Slingshot Racing, I’ve become increasingly aware of this developer/publisher’s mobile releases. It comes as no surprise that when I found that it has crashed a first-person, turn-based old-school dungeon crawler on the iOS Marketplace, I dove right in head first without giving it a second thought.

I’m only a handful of hours into this beautiful retro game, but I thought that I’d drop some early impression of it here at Tired Gamer; and no, I didn’t fall asleep playing it – I actually turned it off before taking a nap, thank you very much. Anyhow, if you’re a fan the old (now archaic) style of these games, you’ll fit right in here. It comes as no surprise that the game quickly swipes you off to create your team of four, before plunging you straight into the game’s world. There you’ll find it is one that was once riddled with feral beast that haunt the lands. Upon you’re arrival, the talk of the town is that there’s been an attack by these beast once again, which brings back memories of when an ancient wizard created a portal and sucked them all down into a dungeon for the preservation of the world – this keep is known as Coldfire Keep. Has this portal been reopened after all these years?

Of course it has! But, the story caught my attention very quickly and upon arriving at the keep, you surprisingly find that it’s inhabited by humans that have an inn and a shop to restock supplies. Apparently, explorers have been using a magical item to escape the dungeon after using a portal that was designed by someone called “The Builder.” There’s talk many riches in the in the lower, beast ridden levels of the keep and there’s some kind of magical item below that can teleport those willing to brave the dangers back to safety when in trouble. Yet, talk is, so many who go below don’t return – and you just have to jump right in!

Delving into the dungeon, the touch controls initially feel problematic. Directional swiping moves you through the dungeon, with a two finger swipe left/right handling the strafing and a pinch being used to look up and down. At first, I didn’t realize that both fingers needed to be held together for the game to read my strafing inputs properly, which was problematic, but thereafter it hasn’t failed me since. Picking up items currently has a bug in the code, so you have to tap them repeatedly, which is annoying, but the developer has promised an update is quickly coming. There’s also the option for the standard on-screen buttons control scheme, but the buttons are so small that I found them unusable, before returning to the touch controls. Controller support is available and probably the best method of use, but I’ve not dropped the cash on a controller yet, so I can’t speak to that method. Getting used to the touch controls had me moving through the dungeon with ease after a bit of practice though, so I really have little complaints here, aside from the bug in the item pick-ups, of course.

Fighting enemies is handled by tapping small on-screen buttons below each of your team members’ on-screen portrait, which are permanent parts of the on-screen display. It’s archaic and lacks feedback, but somehow that builds to the game’s charm for me – this indie game is clearly meant to be rough around the edges. The dungeon’s are dank and beautiful in the gorgeous Retina display, while still retaining a retro feel. I found myself adsorbed into the game so fast that it actually shocked me, before the game crashed on me. I had forgotten about the tiny on-screen buttons and learning curve of the controls by then – I having a great time – until this jarring happening took place. Thankfully, the game saves frequently and I was right back where I left off in a few minutes. Thing is, 20-30 minutes later it happened again, and then again. Yep, even playing on an iPhone 5, there’s clearly several chinks in the armor that need to be beaten out, which I have absolutely no doubt that they will be very soon.

So, should you make the $4.99 USD investment to delve into Coldfire Keep? With the bugs that are currently at play in these dungeons, I think you’re better off taking a nap at the moment. I’ll be watching the updates carefully and diving back in soon after. If all is well, it looks like Coldfire Keep will keep me crawling for the whole 10 hours it promises thereafter. I’ll let you know soon thereafter if all is well.

Review: Pocket God: Ooga Jump (iPhone)

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]

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Review: Batman: Arkham Origins (iPhone)

With the console release of Batman: Arkham Origins just behind us, I stumbled across the iOS version of the title, noticed that it was a free download and decided to give it a go. Without any knowledge of the game prior to the download, I went into the title, well, blind as a bat to what I’d be doing. Once the darkness lifted, I’ve found that I’m enjoying myself quite a bit with this mobile title.

If you’re looking for a full on Arkham Origins game, you should stick to the console version of the title, but if a fun little pick-up-and-play title is okay with you, this could be a satisfying download. Stripping the title of its narrative to the bare bones, this mobile version sticks solely to the fighting. And even the fighting is stripped down to simply attacking and defending as well. But this works and it works quite well for a mobile experience. Let me explain further. [Review Score: 3/5 Stars]

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Review: Drift Mania: Street Outlaws (iPhone)

The drift scene can be a thing of beauty: powerful import tuners and muscle cars using their immense power to lock into high speed drifts, leaving waves of smoke and burnt rubber in their wake. The Drift Mania series has attempted to bring this high speed action to mobile devices and gained a substantial following in the process. Now that Real Racing 3, 2K Drive and Colin McRae Rally are on the scene, is Drift Mania: Street Outlaws still in contention or is it in a league of its own?

Street Outlaws is a game that’s focused on one primary thing: drifting. As to be expected, it has this gameplay mechanic locked down, for the most part. Using the default tilt controls, speeding down these curvy roads and locking into drift is as easy as bumping the on-screen handbrake and smoothly tilting your iPhone. It’s not something you’ll grasp on the first corner, but after a few minutes you’ll be drifting corners at speed with relative ease. [Review Score: 3/5 Stars]

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Review: Puzzle and Dragons (iOS)

The free-to-play (F2P) market is in full swing within the games industry and looks to play a major role in the upcoming generation of home consoles, with the PS4 currently scheduled to feature eight major F2P titles by the end of the year.

As we have watched this new trend evolve, we have seen some real lows when developers have crafted something that offers players nothing beyond the need to invest yet another $0.99. The only alternative is the need to grind our hundreds of hours of play for the same result (I’m looking at you, Real Racing 3). Yet, some standout F2P titles like Pure Chess allow you to play the game for free, but then add the additional content of your choosing (e.g. chess sets, modes, etc.) to it for small fees – a glorified demo, basically. But then comes a game like GungHo Online’s Puzzle and Dragons, which simply gets everything right and for many, it won’t cost them a dime to play. [Review Score: 5/5 Stars]

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Review: Tiny Death (iPhone)

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]

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