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Apple Arcade is in trouble

Posted by Campbell Bird on July 1st, 2020

Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Apple is disappointed in the performance of Apple Arcade and will be shifting their approach to the service by focusing on games that can retain subscribers and canceling other upcoming releases that don't fit this new vision.

Honestly, the only surprising thing about this news in my mind is the timing. Apple Arcade hasn't even been live for a year, and half of its existence has been admist a global pandemic, mass unemployment, and burgeoning civil unrest. If Apple was confident about its approach to its new games service, I would've thought they'd give it a little more time and leeway before shifting their approach.

I have been enjoying Apple Arcade and have been a loyal subscriber since it launched back in September. I've even given each game on the service a fair shake. But there's no denying that the service hasn't lived up to its promises.

Golf on Mars "review"

Posted by Campbell Bird on June 23rd, 2020
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad


Golf on Mars is a minimalist golf game and the follow up to Desert Golfing. In it, you traverse a seemingly unending Martian landscape by hitting a golf ball from hole to hole using the tried-and-true pull-and-release touch control scheme popularized by Angry Birds. But there are no birds here, much less any that explode. Nor are there powerups, enemies, menus, or even levels. It's just you, the ball, the holes, and the seemingly endless Martian landscape for you to navigate. Oh, and there's a counter at the top that's tracking your total stroke count, too.

KartRider Rush+ might be good, actually?

Posted by Campbell Bird on May 15th, 2020
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: DREAMY DRIFTING :: Read Review »

It's hard to find good racing games on mobile. Most of them are free-to-play, and free-to-play racers generally suck. Even Nintendo couldn't put together a competent Mario Kart game, opting instead for a weird score chaser that resembles--but feels nothing like--actual Mario Kart.

So, when Nexon released KartRider Rush+ earlier this week, I had low expectations, but I decided to boot it up and try it out anyway. I played a few races, and then I played some more. Then I joined a racing club, found myself friending people, and racing even more. Before I knew it, my week was consumed with playing KartRider Rush+ because--somehow--it has managed to create a free-to-play racing experience that actually feels good.

The 5 Best Mobile Games Like Dark Souls

Posted by 148Apps Staff on April 3rd, 2020

There's no escaping the fact that everyone loves Dark Souls. If you've not heard of it, it's a super tough action RPG that punished your every mistake with swift retribution. It's the sort of game where you die a lot, and it can be pretty intimidating trying to get on board with the systems it throws at you.

But you can't play it on your iPhone. Well, there's Slashy Souls, but to be honest the less said about that the better. If you're looking to get some Souls-style action on the go though, there are plenty of options waiting for you on the App Store.

Rather than leaving you to find all of them for yourself though, we thought we'd do a list and round-up what we think are the five best games like Dark Souls for iOS. If you think we're wrong, or you've got your own suggestions to chuck into the mix, let us know in the comments at the bottom of the article.

And while we're at it, why not click here and check out all the other awesome lists we've created for your viewing pleasure. Right then, on with the games.

Hearthstone's latest update is a bit of a snoozefest

Posted by Campbell Bird on January 27th, 2020
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarstar :: PERFECTLY (WAR)CRAFTED :: Read Review »

Back in May last year, I wrote about how Hearthstone felt like it was trying to reach more casual players with the release of The Dalaran Heist—a single-player expansion that focused less on theorycrafting the perfect deck and more on experimentation and play. A lot has happened in the game since then, including the release of a new game mode that seeks to capitalize on the popularity of auto chess games like Dota Underlords.

I wouldn’t say any of these updates have made Hearthstone any friendlier or more accessible as The Dalaran Heist did, but they have given players different ways to engage with the game’s cards in new and neat ways. Keeping all of this in mind, I was pretty excited to hear that another single-player expansion was coming to Hearthstone. But—now that it’s finally here—Hearthstone’s latest update, entitled Galakrond’s Awakening, feels like a return to basics for Blizzard in a way that feels a bit disappointing.

Two Spies is pretty fun, but it's hard to play with other people

Posted by Campbell Bird on December 12th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Two Spies just dropped on the App Store this week, and it looks pretty neat. The game has two players capturing various cities across Europe, with the goal of eventually spotting and striking the other spy down. It may be simple-looking, but after playing the tutorial and a few bot matches, there’s a hidden depth here that makes it seem like something I’d want to play regularly on my phone.

Fighting with colonialism in Queen's Wish: The Conqueror

Posted by Campbell Bird on December 5th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Sometimes it’s hard to stick with a game, even if you enjoy playing it. Perhaps it’s just too stressful, perhaps it disturbs you, or—as is the case with Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror—you might not be down with its narrative conceit.

Queen’s Wish: The Conquerer is an open-world role-playing game from Spiderweb Software that’s been five years in the making. As soon as you boot it up, you can tell the love and craftmanship poured into the game, particularly via the game’s writing and attention-to-detail. My only problem with it is it’s asking me something I don’t really want to do: reclaim a colony as part of the queen’s empire.

Go buy Xenowerk Tactics right now

Posted by Campbell Bird on December 3rd, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: EASY EXTERMINATION :: Read Review »

Over the Thanksgiving break, a bunch of games went on sale, but one in particular is worth talking about. Xenowerk Tactics, in addition to falling to $3, got a huge content update alongside it’s price drop. Even though the game is back up to full price, you need to buy it now if you haven’t already.

In my initial review of Xenowerk Tactics, I liked it well enough, but the game felt a little too easy. In building and managing a team of professional alien killers, there was always the potential for me to lose a soldier or get forced into a retreat, but it essentially never happened. I could almost always just take everything in stride and kill aliens with abandon without any problems. This update changes that.

Apple Arcade in review

Posted by Campbell Bird on October 18th, 2019

This weekend, Apple Arcade will officially be one month old. That means anyone who signed up for the free trial on day one has a decision to make: Stick with the service and shell out $5 a month, or cancel and go about your merry way.

As someone who dove head first into Apple Arcade by playing 35 games since launch (and counting. See their rankings here), I’ve come away ambivalent about the service in its first month. While it is really nice to have a huge, curated list of premium games from a lot of well-known developers, there’s a lot about the service that could be improved. To illustrate this, check out some of my notes I kept while thoroughly testing the service:

Why your free-to-play racer sucks

Posted by Campbell Bird on September 25th, 2019

It’s been this way for a while now, but playing Hot Wheels Infinite Loop really highlights a big issue with free-to-play mobile racing games: They suck. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying going for realism, cart racing, or arcade nonsense, they’re all bad, and mostly in the same way.

Rush Rally 3's new live events are great

Posted by Campbell Bird on September 10th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarstar :: RACE HOW YOU WANT :: Read Review »

Last week, Rush Rally 3 got updated with live events, and it’s one of the best things to happen to racing games on mobile. Prior to this update, the game already had multiplayer, but live events are more convenient in the sense that it’s somewhat asynchronous.

Instead of having to wait to match with other players in a lobby in order to play with them, live events allow the entire Rush Rally 3 community compete for the best time across six courses. This operates almost exactly like the game’s Career Mode, except you’re competing against human players and the events last a few days.

It’s a really genius move, as it makes sure you’ll basically never run out of Rush Rally 3 to play. There will always be a new event and new times to beat. If you aren’t quite up to snuff on your rally racing skills, you can also choose to frame your times in competition with your facebook friends instead of the global player charts.

In order to access live events, though, it will cost you a little money ($1.99). This seems more than reasonable though, as it adds a tremendous amount of replayability, and the good kind, too. As opposed to free-to-play racers that want you to grind or pay to become competitive, I found Rush Rally 3’s live events something I could immediately hop into and post respectable times, and I look forward to doing so again for the next event.

Come join me! Download Rush Rally 3 and add me as a friend (namestolen) so we can enjoy a great, premium racing experience together.

I can't believe Sky came out after Journey

Posted by Campbell Bird on August 13th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: STILL STUNNING :: Read Review »

I play games almost exclusively on mobile, and I’ve been doing so since around the time I started writing for 148Apps. This is why I’m late to the party on Journey. It wasn’t until last week that the game was playable on mobile, and it wasn’t until last night that I played through Journey for the first time now, and I found it just as captivating and impactful as folks did almost a decade ago.

While playing the game though, I couldn’t help but notice how similar Journey was to another game I played recently. Earlier this summer, Thatgamecompany put out a mobile exclusive title, Sky: Children of Light, and it’s almost eerie how similar the games are to each other.

Do Not Feed The Monkeys is one of the most unsettling games I've ever played

Posted by Campbell Bird on July 30th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

I’ve done a lot of messed up stuff in video games. I’ve beat people to death, slaghtered innocent animals, and even committed genocide. In doing all of that though, I’m not sure I’ve felt as uncomfortable as I have while playing Do Not Feed The Monkeys.

A self-described “digital voyeurism simulator,” Do Not Feed The Monkeys is a kind of management sim where you shovel money into a dark web enterprise that hacks into cameras or (referred to as “cages”) that you then have to watch. As you look upon these scenes, you then take notes and try to piece together what you’re looking at. All the while, you have to manage your health and hunger in real time, as well as earn enough money to afford to eat, pay your rent, and buy new “cages.”

Dr. Mario World is yet another disappointment from Nintendo

Posted by Campbell Bird on July 10th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

As soon as I booted up Dr. Mario World, I knew I wasn’t going to have fun with it. Nintendo’s record on phones thus far has been pretty spotty, with things trending downward as of late.

Lo and behold, a few hours later with the game and the only enjoyment I’ve gotten out of it is seeing Bowser in doctor cosplay. Otherwise, the game’s single-player offerings feel like Candy Crush Saga with less satisfying puzzle mechanics and the multiplayer is... a competitive version of that.

It feels like it shouldn’t be so hard to bring a quality version of Dr. Mario to mobile. It’s a falling block puzzler like Tetris or Lumines, and there are solid-to-great versions of those on the App Store already. Instead of just translating Dr. Mario’s mechanics to the small screen though, Dr. Mario World is a slower, clunkier, and less intuitive puzzler than its predecessor.

Flappy Royale is an incredibly clever take on the Battle Royale genre

Posted by Campbell Bird on July 1st, 2019

I spent the better part of my weekend playing Flappy Royale. I didn’t necessarily want to. I just felt like I had to. It’s a hypnotic experience that’s way too easy to just keep playing.

Flappy Royale is the brainchild of Orta Therox, Em Lazer-Walker, and Zach Gage. It's a very simple idea: Take the the rules of Battle Royale games (e.g. PUBG, Fortnite, Apex Legends) and apply them to Flappy Bird. 100 players play as birds that jump out of a bus. From there, they must fly between as many pipes as possible until one player is deemed the champion.

The game controls pretty much exactly like Flappy Bird did back in 2013. The only real differences are the hopping out of the bus (presumably inspired by the Fortnite Battle Bus) and 99 ghost birds flapping on screen with you, all competing for the number one spot.

This latter element—the ability to see other players play while you do—is the secret sauce that makes Flappy Royale such a tantalizing challenge. You can always see your competition flapping alongside you, and you want beat all of them. If you can’t do that, maybe you settle for getting a top 50 finish before diving in again to see if you can do better.

Although it’s not officially released, anyone can go and download the beta release of the game here. In this early state though, the game is already quite popular. Here are some stats Orta Therox shared about the game over the weekend:





2 million games of Flappy Royale is really impressive, especially considering it populates each of those games with 100 players. Where it starts feeling downright magical is when you consider that all of these matches start pretty much instantly.

The way Flappy Royale eliminates any sort of queue times for matches is ingenious, and probably another big reason for the game’s stickiness. Instead of filling matches with bots or waiting for 100 live players to play a level at once, the game pits you against the ghost data of the last 99 players who played the level before you. In other words, you’re always playing against other people, but you don’t have to wait for them to log in for you to do so.

Right now, Flappy Royale really feels like it has huge potential. It successfully distills the most thrilling aspects of Battle Royale into a really tight mobile package. A lot of this has to do with how quick and easy it is to play ten rounds without blinking, so here’s to hoping the game doesn’t get too bloated with extra features or monetization schemes before it officially releases.