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TourStar Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Thomas on August 21st, 2014
Our rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar :: BORING TOURING
When The Ramones sang "Touring, touring/It's never boring," they clearly weren't referring to TourStar. This shallow sim tempts with swag, but instead, is just a drag.
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Alphabeats Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on July 11th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: WORDY MUSICAL MASH-UP
Tricky due to an awkward control system, Alphabeats is still an interesting combination of rhythm gaming and word play.
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Frederic - Evil Strikes Back Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Thomas on May 13th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: KEYTAR CONCERTO
Frederic Chopin's back to fight for the spirit of melody in this sequel to 2012's award winning Frederic: Resurrection of Music.
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RokLienz: On Tour Review

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

Developer: Creativity, Inc
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 3
Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Playtime Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar


Anyone who's ever watched "The Muppet Show" or "Rocky and Bullwinkle" should be able to understand the importance (and challenges) of creating something for both kids and adults. It's a difficult task that can alienate one or both if handled improperly, so I had some reservations when starting Roklienz: On Tour for the first time. However, aside from a few minor missteps it straddles that line quite well.

The Roklienz are rockin' aliens (hah, get it?) looking to dominate their home planets with some sweet tunes. Yup, that's right, Roklienz: On Tour is a music game. Not just any music game, but a sort of iPad adaptation of Elite Beat Agents (or Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan for purists). For those unfamiliar with this particular style of music interaction it essentially boils down to following the on-screen prompts. Players have to tap/swipe/spin/etc the right icons in the proper order and in-time with the music in order to keep the crowd happy and complete each level. The better they do the more coins they earn to put towards unlocking and buying new planets, extras, or power-ups.

Roklienz: On Tour's gameplay isn't groundbreaking at this point, but it's still quite excellent. Following all the various prompts in the proper order can become a real challenge in later levels and it all blends together with the music really well. I've yet to need to resort to using any of the power-ups but I can certainly appreciate their presence. Plus I imagine they're more for the kids. And speaking of, I have to say I'm a big fan of the sketchy/scribbly art style. It's simple and there aren't more than a handful of frames for each animation, but there's a distinct personality shining through all those colorful critters.

I noticed a few technical issues with Roklienz: On Tour, such as a couple of crashes and prompts that don't always feel like they're timed quite right, but my biggest problem is with the pacing and difficulty. The difficulty, in short, is ridiculously easy throughout the entire first planet. I'm sure it's mostly due to wanting to give young iPad players a chance at having fun, and I can totally appreciate that, but it drags on a little too long and feed in to the pacing problem. The pacing problem being that in order to progress I have to play through every song four times in a row, with the difficulty going up a little each time. It starts to become a drag after the third consecutive time.

While I would have preferred having a way to "fast-forward" to the more difficult stuff, I still had fun with Roklienz: On Tour. It's silly and doesn't take itself too seriously, yet provides a lot of unlockable content and challenges for those willing to stick it out through the first third.

Musaic Box HD Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Lisa Caplan on March 4th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: MUSICAL PUZZLING
Music and spacial puzzling merge in a light symphony of creative gaming.
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Arranger Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on November 19th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: A LITTLE OFF KEY
Get ready to embark on what is perhaps the most bizarre musical adventure ever! Just be ready for a few stumbling blocks along the way.
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HumStar Free Review

Posted by Rob Rich on October 2nd, 2012
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Developer: Tanla
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar
Playtime Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar


As one of “those people” who has absolutely zero musical talent and knows it quite well, I tend to avoid situations that require singing. More than once I’ve had to turn away a disappointed coworker when asked to join them in some Karaoke. It was better for everyone that way, believe me. However, while I shy away from singing I don’t have an issue with humming. It’s the sort of situation HumStar Free was made for. Kind of.

In essence, HumStar Free is Draw Something (and other games like it), only with humming pop songs instead of crudely drawing stick figures. Players set up a game, then take turns selecting songs from a track list, humming a little ditty, then sending their sample to the other player and hoping they can figure out what the song title is. Songs are categorized into Easy, Medium, and Hard, with tougher tunes yielding more coins (needed for hints or shuffling track lists) and less assistance.

HumStar Free has a solid concept behind it. It’s like singing, only it’s not. It offers turn-based multiplayer. It supports random games or games with friends via Facebook or email contacts. And it offers a sizeable selection of songs. Depending on the difficulty selected it even gives both players the chance to listen to a sample of the chosen music in addition to the humming to make figuring it all out easier. But. There’s always a but.

The track list, while extensive, isn’t 100% licensed music. This means that the song listings don’t always provide all the information necessary to figure out what the song actually is. It’s not a huge problem for more immediately notable titles but for slightly more cult classic tunes not having the artist listed tosses a big, unyielding wrench in the works. Seeing a list of three totally unidentifiable songs wouldn’t even be so bad if the songs could be previewed before selection, but they can’t. So I’d often pick a song I thought I knew, only to realize I had no idea what it was once the clip played. I’m sorry, I’m just not a huge Ke$ha fan, so don’t blame me when I have no idea how to properly hum Tik Tok. Having the humming drowned out by the background music that’s intended to act as a hint system doesn’t make things any easier. It just sort of makes noise. Lots and lots of unpleasant noise.

This is not to say that HumStar Free is a waste of time. Far from it for music fans who enjoy playing “Guess the Song” style games with their pals. I just think it needs a fair amount of adjusting before it’s ready for super-stardom.

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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Mad Acorn Review

Posted by Lisa Caplan on June 22nd, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Developer: APD Inc
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Game Controls Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar


I keep hearing rhythm games are dead, yet hardly a week goes by when I don't see a new one in the App Store. They generally come in two varieties: hit the notes as they cross a playline like the Tapulous series, or platforming games that use music and beats to help control the action like Beat Sneak Bandit. Mad Acorn, the latest music game that falls loosely into the second category, is a great example of how to distill a concept to its core, then create so much visual appeal it compensates for the simplicity.

Normally I ignore backstories or wrap them up quickly, but Mad Acorn is set in a comic book world. I won’t spoil the plot, because the comic panels are arguably the best part of the package. As for gameplay, players have the easiest objective. The game is an auto runner, so the irate squirrel hero moves relentlessly forward across levels based in four worlds. By keeping the beat with a touch anywhere on the screen players ensure he jump over hurdles and punches foes with one tap. The game adjusts the specific action to fit the circumstances so all there really is to do is listen to the drums and baseline and tap along.

Most beats coincide with something to kill or avoid, but there are “missing” beats too. Players can find them by listening carefully to the pattern and tapping even when no obstacle is present. It’s a neat feature, but oddly not one players earn any reward for beyond hearing a thump and seeing the number found at the end of the level in the stats.

The music is unusual and likely underground. I don’t quite know what to call it. It’s got heavy bass and an electronic dance vibe. It’s auspicious if one happens to like the grooves, since the game isn’t easy - tracks replay quite a lot. Once gamers find the tempo, however, getting long combos is easy.

I had a little trouble with the controls on iPad. I have a decent sense of rhythm and sometimes found my taps went unregistered even in early levels. But, the game is forgiving, Mad Acorn allots players three lives that can be replenished occasionally by taking out baddies with hearts over their heads.

Mad Acorn hasn’t much depth, but it does have some really nice visuals, the great art, and inherent replay value based on desire to get better, rather than through extraneous incentives. It’s a great pick-up-and-play title and solid summer casual gaming choice.

Arranger is a Different Sort of Action RPG

Posted by Rob Rich on April 16th, 2012

Hearing about an adventure/music/rpg is enough to pique my interest, and that's exactly what Arman Bohn's Arranger is setting out to be. However, reading over a few of the more descriptive elements has gotten me more than interested. It's gotten me downright excited, actually.

"The game is an Adventure/RPG that combines elements from classics like The Legend of Zelda, WarioWare and the original Sierra adventure games," according to the developer. Now if that doesn't get people's attention then I suppose there's no hope for the world. The mini-game laden adventure is looking pretty fantastic in a simple, retro-esque sort of way. Players will be controlling the tiny musician as they attempt to save the world in a less-then-typical fashion. Rather than direct combat or level-grinding, they'll be gathering a number of musical instruments in order to craft a tune that will avoid whatever this particular catastrophe entails.

Arranger is still a little ways out, being slated for a Summer 2012 release, but it definitely looks like something to keep an eye on. If the trailer below is any indication, it just might be worth the wait. It's also apparently going to have some great music.

Wave Crasher Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on February 17th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: HANG ELEVEN
Ride the waves (sound and otherwise) in an unexpectedly entertaining fashion.
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Beat Sneak Bandit Review

By Lisa Caplan on February 16th, 2012
This puzzle-platformer moves and grooves to its own funky beat.
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JAZZ: Trump's Journey Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on January 20th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: SOLID
Egg Ball and BulkyPix have made what might very well be the first-ever video game (loosely) based on Luis Armstrong's life. And it's GOOD.
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RoboFonics Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Thomas on October 31st, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: ROBOT ROCK
Robotic factory drones build to the beat in this tap-driven rhythm game.
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Bottle Tunes Puts Music in a Bottle (Obviously)

Posted by Rob Rich on September 29th, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Show of hands, who here sometimes likes to blow across the top of a bottle to make that vaguely musical sound? Okay, good. Another show of hands, who here either has or has considered amassing several of these bottles filled with various amounts of liquid and recreating a real song? Interesting. Well then, have a gander at Bottle Tunes.

Bottle Tunes is pretty much what I just described, only with digital representations of bottles and music rather than physical ones. Although there's a little more to it than that. Sure it's possible to fill up some bottles and go to town, and even save tunes for replaying or editing later, but there's also a bit of a game here. Namely, users can adjust fluid levels and attempt to recreate a specific "bottle-themed" song.

I imagine the market for something like this is a little limited, but then again the appeal of magic bottle music is fairly universal. Plus it's totally free, so why not download and play around with it?