Tag: Reviewing »
Not all games can be winners, and not all the games we review on 148Apps will receive high marks. But the amazing thing about the App Store and mobile game development in general is that there’s always a second (or even a third) chance. Content updates allow developers to address complaints or perceived issues fairly quickly and have the potential to completely turn a game around.
Which is why we’ve decided to take a look at some previously reviewed titles that didn’t go over so well the first time. Each one has been tweaked at least once since we wrote about it and we wanted to see how they might hold up now. Have they been significantly improved or are they only marginally better? Were major issues resolved or are they still dragging the entire experience down?
Lets take a look and see, then.
Original Review Score - 2.5
Reviewer - Bonnie Eisenman
Known Issues - Severe performance problems including lag and crashing, control issues due to said lag.
Updates - Performance greatly improved with no discernable lag and no crashing, also resulting in improved control.
I like weird stuff like Puzzle Planets, but even I found it to be tough to play, originally. Thankfully, the game-breaking problems that kept Bonnie from enjoying it at launch have been addressed. And it’s all the better for it.
In my time spent building several alien worlds, I’ve never once had it crash on me, and being able to enjoy an iOS game uninterrupted is pretty important. More than that, however, the lag also seems to have disappeared, which makes it much easier to simply enjoy the game itself. All the planet rotating, pinching to form mountains, reverse-pinching to create fissures, and tapping to create volcanoes, as well as spinning the planet around in order to soak up water and distribute it to the barren land masses to create life all perform smoothly and create a kind of zen-like trance after a few rounds. I’ll certainly admit that it would be nice to have more than 15 planets to mess around with, possibly with some distinct characteristics rather than everything looking like “Earth 2.0,” but that doesn’t keep the somewhat simple time-based puzzles from being fun (and looking great) while they last.
Minecraft - Pocket Edition
Original Review Score - 2.5
Reviewer - Rob Thomas
Known Issues - Virtually none of the features that made the PC version so notable, a complete lack of survival mode, barely any blocks to play with, super-tiny worlds.
Updates - Survival Mode, crafting, armor, mobs, a lot more blocks.
Now this is a game I did check out as soon as it was released onto the App Store. And, just like Rob T. (yes, we have a lot of Robs here), I thought it was a colossal disappointment. Nothing but a simplified Creative Mode with an extremely limited block selection. To call it a mere shadow of its older brother on PC would be a massive understatement. However, Mojang made good on its promise of constant updates, and the game has seen a slew of improvements ever since.
To be fair, this still isn’t a 1:1, pocket-sized version of the PC game. Heck, it’s still technically alpha status at the moment. Even so, this month’s update has brought it much closer. New blocks have made it in, sand and gravel are finally affected by gravity, armor can be crafted now, baby animals will appear, and so on. As I’ve said, it’s not PC Minecraft on iOS, but it’s certainly close enough to make me happy. Heck, in some ways I actually prefer it to the original because I can play it anywhere at any time, and it utilizes a much friendlier crafting system that does away with tile placement and simply shows what can be made outright. If it weren’t for the absence of a few features I’d even call it the best version to own. Even so, it’s a fantastic companion to the indie juggernaut Notch started to build all those years ago.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out
Original Review Score - 2.0
Reviewer - Brad Hilderbrand
Known Issues - Absurdly long real time requirements for performing tasks, an almost unnecessary reliance on premium currency.
Updates - Improved server stability, special holiday events.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out is another game that I myself didn’t play around with until recently. It’s also a bit more complicated of a comparison than the other three games on this list in that virtually none of the issues mentioned in Brad’s review have been addressed. Instead, the real difference is having another perspective.
First I’d like to say that I 100% respect Brad’s opinion on the matter and can totally see where he’s coming from. This game takes time to play. Lots and lots of time. More so than the average freemium title, it seems. However, I don’t necessarily view that as a “bad” thing. The very nature of many free-to-play games makes them ideal for playing in small increments, and that’s no different here. Sure we have to wait 24 hours while Lisa does all of her homework for the week but when factoring in all the other characters that can be acquired and given tasks to complete it doesn’t seem so bad. I’d consider it ideal, actually, since it means I can fiddle with my own personal Springfield, go off and do whatever my day demands, then check back in on occasion. I can’t claim that the game has been “improved” at all in the past year, but I don’t personally think it really needed to be. It’s Springfield in my pocket, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for.
Static Quest: The Delivery
Original Review Score - 2.5
Reviewer - Ray Willmott
Known Issues - Lackluster freemium mechanics that practically force players to pay in order to progress, overly simple gameplay, no staying power.
Updates - Bug fixes for late-game content.
Based on what I’ve read in Ray’s review, I’m willing to chalk this one up to a fairly drastic difference of opinion. Again, I wholly respect Ray’s views and opinions but mine are almost a complete 180 from his.
It’s true that Static Quest: The Delivery is incredibly basic in its “tap either side of the screen” mechanics. However those same mechanics are what make it ideal for quick mobile play sessions. It’s super easy to start up a game for a minute then put it down just as quickly, and with all the various weapons to unlock and upgrade there’s always something to strive for. I’m also rather fond of the retro pixel visuals (as per usual) but I found the special costumes associated with each weapon to be the real treat. I can totally get behind a game that makes the main character look like Ezio from Assassin’s Creed 2 (and up) when he uses a dagger, or like Robin Hood when he equips a bow and arrow. The fact that it’s actually quite fun to play doesn’t hurt, either.
We are having a problem here at 148apps.com. No, we don't all have swine flu, but we do need more writers. Let me repeat that. We need more writers.
This idea, the one about needing more writers, came to me during the WWDC keynote. Word on the street is that there are 50,000 apps in the app store, and with our writing staff, we are only covering a small fraction. We do a pretty good job at covering the best and the brightest, but some of the good apps out there are slipping through the cracks.
What I am looking for are a few talented writers that are willing to post a review 3-5 times a week... nothing overly crazy. I will shower you with all sorts of apps to review, making your iPhone become all that it was meant to be. After some time, if you would like, I may even ask you to do a blog entry or two... or ten. Not only will this writing gig get you great experience, but you will also gain some great exposure and a really in-depth look as to how the app universe really works.
If this is something that interests you, please post a sample review to the "Reader Submitted App Reviews" section of the forum (http://forum.148apps.com/). Write the review in any fashion that suits you, but I would greatly prefer an app review written in a similar style to our reviews. Review any app you want, good or bad, just make the review wildly entertaining. I will read any and all reviews, no matter the length. A quick note on length... try to make the review between 300-800 words, just to mimic the kind of length we use. Also, please include some kind of contact info so that I can get back to you.
Thanks for your interest,
Editor in Chief