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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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: 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: 2K Drive (iOS)

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.

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Review: Colin McRae Rally (iOS)

While we’re still ripping up the tracks in GRID 2 on our consoles, Codemasters has surprisingly brought the much beloved Colin McRae series back to drift all over our iOS devices. Built upon the Colin McRae Rally 2.0 version that was found on the original PlayStation, this upgraded version of the title brings the tight controls and rally racing roots that made the series great back in true form.

While Codemasters’ current core racing series, GRID and Dirt, offer a wide variety of racing styles and classes, the old school roots of the series focused on pure point-to-point races, which is when rally racing is truly at its best. Screaming down the treacherous tracks in complete reliance on your co-driver’s instructions to keep you from smashing into a tree/ rock while pushing your rally car flat out is exhilarating and the series has always gotten this basic formula down just right. [Review Score: 4/5 Stars]

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Review: Badland (iPad)

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]

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Review: Sela the Space Pirate (iPad)

Arrr! This game is tougher than pirate’s pegged leg matey.

Sela the Space Pirate is a punk. I mean this not only in a nice way, but in a literal sense as well. She’s the epitome of what it is to be “steampunk.” Err… just without the “steam,” that is. Anyway, if you’re up for a fun little iOS bullet hell shoot ‘em up that’s tough as nails and has a wacky sense of style, then look no further than Sela the Space Pirate. [Review Score: 4/5]

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Review: Kairo (iPad)

I am here. 

White. It’s at first captivating, but maybe that’s because it is all around me. Maybe I have somehow stepped into heaven itself? Confused, I start to look around a bit further, only to find a throne made of stone setting behind me. The throne is, well, rather plain – not something fit for a king. In the distance I can see a small building admits the vast ocean of white, yet there’s no sign of safe passage. Can I walk upon this white ocean? I must be able to; I have no choice but to try. And it’s just as I started to leave my throne, possibly stepping into an endless fall within its white depths, mere moments after I had entered this strange world called Kairo, that a single thought drifted across the forefront of my mind: if this is the last step I’m to take here, who am I? [Review Score: 4/5]

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Review: Mutant Mudds (iOS)


One of the premier eShop platformers hovers over to iOS.

When Renegade Kid’s Mutant Mudds landed on the 3DS eShop, it was a breath of fresh air for the relatively new handheld. Its platforming excellence stood its own with Nintendo’s first party titles and is still today one of the finest offerings on the digital service. Now, it’s made the jump to iOS devices and even though touchscreen platforming has been a bit hit-or-miss up until now, Mutant Mudds makes a great transition – proudly flying it straight to the top tiers of the of the iOS marketplace as well. [Review Score: 4.5/5]

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