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Pocket Fort HD Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad only
By Rob Rich on August 7th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: LIFELESS
Pocket Fort HD seems to borrow heavily from another source, but its total lack of fun is the real disappointment.
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My Muppets Show Review

By Rob Rich on August 2nd, 2013
My Muppets Show plays a familiar tune, but Jim Henson's creations make all the difference.
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BlocksWorld HD Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad only
By Rob Rich on August 1st, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: BRICK THE WORLD
BlocksWorld HD is more toy than it is game, but it can be entertaining to mess around with.
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Rivals for Catan Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 2nd, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: FEELS LIKE WORK
There's a good card game here, it's just buried under a ridiculously unfriendly interface.
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Galaxy At War Online Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on June 18th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: THE FAMILIAR FRONTIER
Galaxy At War Online has all the familiar trappings of many compelling freemium games. The problem is that it's a very familiar formula. And it's not actually free at the moment.
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Fantasy Quest Review

Posted by Rob Rich on March 28th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Developer: GAMEVIL
Price: FREE
Version: 1.10
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Playtime Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

[rating:overall]

I’m just going to say it: Fantasy Quest has a slow burn to it. Not that it’s bad once things pick up, but until it reaches that point it can be a fairly significant grind. And not the fun sort of grind, either. Thankfully once players get past that initial roadblock they’ll find a free-to-play kingdom building RPG that isn’t all that easy to put down.

Fantasy Quest is essentially two kinds of free-to-play games in one. There’s the town building with all the expectant tax collection and land expansion, and the energy-reliant RPG-ing with a number of different characters and quests. Both feed into each other, of course, with buildings created in town effecting what characters can be hired for a team and goods earned from slaying goblins and such necessary for expanding the town. It’s all fairly simple in practice but there’s also has a sort of refined elegance to the way each aspect plays off of the other, as well as how they’re both very accessible without being mindless.

The kingdom building aspects are mostly typical of a lot of free-to-play games these days with the exception of being able to raid other players’ settlements. Not that this is a new idea, but the way it’s implemented is pretty clever: stamina is needed to attack specific buildings and each hit (damage determined by the questing team, surrounding buildings, etc) coughs up various resources, including Valor that acts as a kind of special currency. What I find refreshing about it is the fact that being raided doesn’t incite rage. Sure I might lose a few coins, but I hardly lose enough to get mad over and raiding other players can more than make up for lost income.

The actual RPG-like quests can be entertaining as well, although they don’t really pick up until after a third party member is acquired. It can be incredibly slow going at first but once that threshold is passed players will find themselves with a competent group of adventurers, each with their own sets of equipment to manage and special skills to learn. It’s a little unfortunate that there isn’t a larger selection of basic units (only one of each type can be bought with non-premium currency) but it isn’t exactly a game breaking detail. A more significant (and literally game breaking) problem is the occasional crash or server hang-up while in the middle of a fight. Again, not so bad when all that’s really lost is a little time and some energy that replenishes at a fairly generous rate, but it can still be irritating.

Fantasy Quest feels a bit like a slow “me too” kind of fantasy freemium game at first, but it really does come into its own once players progress past the intro phase. It’s definitely a good time so long as one has the patience.

Hungry Gows Review

By Rob Rich on March 11th, 2013
Cute or not, when there are too many colorful blobs running amok they need to be dealt with.
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Tiny Kingdom Review

Posted by Rob Rich on February 8th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Developer: bin meng
Price: FREE
Version: 2.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Playtime Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

[rating:overall]

What’s this? An entire kingdom I can run on my iPhone? Egads! Yeah, I know, but Tiny Kingdom actually does a pretty impressive job of combining more “hardcore” free-to-play elements with an accessible and even casual-friendly approach. I’d even call it a worthwhile gateway game into more sim-heavy freemium titles.

Tiny Kingdom should feel familiar with anyone who’s dabbled in more advanced sim-style free-to-play games. There are a number of buildings to construct and upgrade in order to earn more resources, special hero units to hire and individually level-up, smaller soldier units to train en masse and assign to said heroes, etc. For the uninitiated it’s essentially like a simplified medieval strategy game but with a little more micro management that one might expect and a bit less of a focus on combat. At least initially.

One of the things that always turned me off to more complex free-to-play sims is the visuals. Not to say that they looked “bad,” just that the screen tended to get crowded with tiny buildings very quickly and became confusing to look at. Not so with Tiny Kingdom. The city screen is colorful, all of the structures are called out in an easily identifiable manner, and multiple buildings such as barracks and mines are all clustered together as one. Tapping on the mine will bring up the screen with all the individual mines to manage, but not having every single one represented on the main screen takes a huge load off my eyes. Having a build queue tab is also incredibly nice as it can show players exactly what is being constructed, how much time is left, and how many free construction slots they still have left. All at a glance.

Despite being far more user-friendly than a number of similar titles, Tiny Kingdom still misses a few details. The tutorial is relatively brief, which is nice, but it doesn’t fully explain everything. In fact, almost half of the city’s buildings (the World Mine, City Wall, War of Valor, etc) aren’t explained at all. They can be figured out for the most part but not having even the slightest clue how to utilize them at first can be a bit awkward. A more significant issue is the way information is displayed in the menus. For one thing there’s no unit cap display, so there’s no easy way of knowing how many units a given hero can take on. A lot of it is also purely text and numbers which makes telling exactly what resource might be needed for a given project incredibly hard to figure out at a glance. Plus it’s impersonal.

Tiny Kingdom is still very much a fun and accessible freemium sim. It’s definitely easier to get into than many of its peers, just not quite as much as I’d have hoped. Still, it’s certainly worth a look.

Pixel People Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on January 31st, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: WHY IS THIS FUN?
Players beware: despite being simple and seemingly without any real purpose, Pixel People is inexplicably tough to put down.
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Ninja, Inc. Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Rob Rich on January 24th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: WE ARE NINJA
This ninja tower-builder with a healthy dose of zombie-slaying feels a little loose at times, but it can be surprisingly tough to step away from.
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Towers & Dungeons Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on December 5th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: TOO CUTE. NO
Build a tower that stretches to the heavens or a dungeon that reaches into the depths of the earth in this free-to-play builder that's high on style, and unfortunately overdrawn on adorable.
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My Singing Monsters Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on September 14th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: A FEW SOUR NOTES
My Singing Monsters is a weird and clever "town" building freemium game, but it's got some serious connection problems.
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Arcane Empires Review

By Rob Rich on August 30th, 2012
Kabam's latest free-to-play is every bit as fantastic as their last one, but that's kind of the problem.
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Monster Life Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on August 6th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: PAPERMON
Manage a ranch, raise and train adorable monsters, then make them fight each other in a vibrant papercraft world.
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Clash of Clans Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on August 3rd, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: LET SLIP THE CLANS
This social freemium town-builder offers up something a little different for a change: a singleplayer experience.
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