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Solitaire Kingdom Supreme Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Rob Rich on December 10th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SUPREMELY SUPERB
Apparently combining familiar classics with loads of unlockables and all sorts of wacky and interesting modifications is just funkitron's "thing."
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Solitaire Gets Crazy in Popcap's Solitaire Blitz

Posted by Rob Rich on October 25th, 2012

I profess I tend to spend a decent amount of time playing virtual solitaire these days, mostly thanks to some ridiculously early commutes. So it’s a game I’m quite familiar with, although I haven’t come anywhere close to mastering it. Why is this significant? Because Popcap is bringing their popular Facebook adaptation, Solitaire Blitz to iOS and I’m expecting to have a grand old time with it.

The rules of Solitaire Blitz are both familiar and totally new. Players still have to empty their cards into piles by following a particular sequence, but suits and linear progression don’t matter anymore. A King can be tossed on a Queen, to be followed by another Queen, then a Jack. Or it could go 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, Ace. But while this might sound like the challenge has been sucked out of the classic solo card game, the fact of the matter is it still makes for an intense game. Mostly thanks to the never pausing 60-second time limit and slots (up to four) for placing cards that have to be unlocked.

It makes for some rather frantic card shuffling as you attempt to spot anything and everything that can get tossed on a pile, attempt to plan ahead to avoid getting stuck, and search out any cards featuring a key icon that will unlock those essential extra card slots. All of this while the clock keeps ticking down. No specifics have been given regarding price yet but we can all look forward to one of the most intense games of solitaire ever this November.

Fantasica Review

Posted by Rob Rich on September 3rd, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Developer: Mobage
Price: FREE
Version: 1.2
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

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

[rating:overall]

Mobage has developed a bit of a “thing” for freemium collectible card games lately. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just that there are a lot of them floating around now and it can be difficult to figure out which ones to stick with. Of course everyone already knows how I feel about Rage of Bahamut, but while it will always be my number one I feel confident in stating that Fantasica sits right next to it as number two.

Card collecting and enhancement is still the primary focus with this new Mobage title, but the formula has also been significantly tweaked in places. After the basics are covered in the tutorial players are given clearance to do whatever they wish, be it questing, training, fighting, and so on. Questing in Fantasica is like a simplistic game of tower defense: Enemies pour in and must be dispatched before they reach the exit, which requires placing characters along the path and putting their abilities to good use. Training is more of a simple lottery-style mini-game that has the player’s chosen leader character walking down a straight path, killing enemies to earn experience and finding treasure chests with cash or new characters along the way.

Unlike many other freemium games of this type, all actions aren’t tied to specific meters that refill over time. Instead, everything other than Training is tied to countdown clocks. Completing a quest of any sort initiates a cooldown phase, ranging from one minute to an hour or more, that can either be waited out or instantly refreshed with special items. I still haven’t decided how I feel about this method, but it seems to work pretty well all things considered. I’ve yet to get to a point where I’ve run out of things to do. It’s easy for me to get hung up on all the little elements that make Fantasica feel like more of a game than a browser-based affair, but I want to make sure I give the artwork and character designs their due. In short, they’re spectacular. And with good reason; it’s all been penned by Hideo Minaba. Yes, that Hideo Minaba.

As impressed as I’ve been with Fantasica I’ve still had a few issues with it. Mostly it’s that the menu interface is a bit busy which makes navigation a pain. I’m also not a fan of the scroll bar at the bottom of the screen since it forces me to actively search for my ally list, among other things. There are also certain concepts such as how defending against attackers works that aren’t communicated clearly at all.

I have to admit, despite the perplexing UI, Fantasica is a solid free-to-play. One with actual gameplay in it, no less. It’s too soon to tell whether it will surpass Mobage’s main juggernaut, but it’s certainly poised to make an attempt.

Lost Cities Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Rob Rich on August 30th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: GET LOST
Lost Cities is every bit as fun and interesting as any other Reiner Knizia game. But wait, there's more!
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Blackjack King Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on August 27th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: KIND OF A BUST
Blackjack King represents the game well, but it doesn't quite live up to its noble title.
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Reiner Knizia's Deck Buster

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Tony Cave on August 20th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar ::
Simple, yet highly addictive. Reiner Knizia adds a unique twist to solo card games.
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San Juan Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Chris Kirby on August 13th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: WORTH THE JOURNEY
The card game variant of big box board game Puerto Rico outshines its big brother in many respects.
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Create Your Own Avengers Team in Marvel: War of Heroes

Posted by Rob Rich on August 7th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: BETTER THAN IT LOOKS :: Read Review »

Just about everyone in the world dreams about having super powers. Flight, strength, x-ray vision, that kind of stuff. While DeNA (think Mobage) and Marvel Entertainment’s upcoming Marvel: War of Heroes may not bestow impossible abilities to its players, it does put them in charge of a slew of iconic heroes.

Assuming the role of a S.H.I.E.L.D agent players will collect cards featuring various Marvel heroes and craft their own super team. Powers and abilities can be fused and upgraded as well, making an already powerful legend even more so. If you’re thinking it sounds similar to the more than a little popular Rage of Bahamut, that’s because it is. And because it’s being crafted by the same developers. Although the story – which is a thing that actually exists in this freemium card game. I know, right? – is all original and comes directly from Marvel itself. As does the art, actually, which is ridiculously awesome.

Marvel: War of Heroes is due to hit the App Store this fall. Anyone with even the slightest interest will be able to check it out for free, but those of us who are already curious can head over to the official website to pre-register. Why? Because it earns a free rare card, among other things. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from playing similar Mobage titles it’s that rare cards, no matter how useful they might be to my strategy, can pay off big. Also it might actually be really cool.

Michael Schacht's Gold! Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 11th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: WORTH ITS WEIGHT
It's simple and could really do with the ability to play with another person instead of the computer, but it's still quite the fun little card game.
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Reiner Knizia's High Society Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 11th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: ADDICTING AFFLUENCE
Hobnobbing with high rollers can be lots of fun but make sure to keep a firm grip on that shirt.
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Michael Schacht's Web of Power Card Game: The Duel Review

Posted by Rob Rich on July 11th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Developer: Skotos Tech
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.00
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

[rating:overall]

Many people are familiar with domination-based games in some form or another. Some might involve occupying territories with ever-expanding armies while others allow for more subtle tactics such as cultural assimilation, but it’s a concept most have come across. Although as widespread as the general idea may be, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen it combined with something along the lines of Mahjong. It’s certainly a little odd, but it’s also interesting.

Michael Schacht’s Web of Power Card Game: The Duel is one such bizarre hybrid. A number of tiles representing various countries are spread across the game board for the payer and their AI opponent to gather. Tiles can only be grabbed from the outlying edges, however, so in order to reach any desired pieces in the middle a path must be cleared first. After acquiring a tile (or two if they’re for the same country and posses two country symbols between them), claim tokens can also be placed to “call dibs” on a specific tile or simply attempt to control an opponent’s movement. Throughout this constant back-and-forth it’s also possible to collect special tokens that will improve the worth of gathered pieces belonging to specific countries.

There’s something almost captivating about a game in Web of Power. While it might not be much to look at there’s an awful lot of planning that goes into each and every turn. Assuming players take it seriously, that is. This is not a game for folks who dislike planning and strategizing, but anyone who loves to spend several minutes setting up their next move (and possibly even laying traps through subtle manipulation) will doubtlessly enjoy themselves.

I could complain about the complete lack of any form of multiplayer in Web of Power, as I have with many Skotos Tech games, but this game can be so tough I’m almost glad I don’t have to contend with another person. A bigger issue, however, is that it’s much more of a complex board game than many iOS users are probably used to. The manual alone is several dense pages of text, much of which won’t make sense without actual context and there’s no tutorial on offer. It can be learned, and when it is it can be rewarding, but it can also be massively intimidating in the beginning.

Web of Power is definitely an interesting and thought-provoking game, but it’s also not too terribly accessible. Those who are willing and able to invest the time to learn will be sure to enjoy themselves but everyone else looking to dabble in a bit of strategy should probably start with something a bit less complicated. Or at least a bit more newbie friendly.

Big Win Baseball Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 3rd, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: DECKED-OUT
It's just like collecting baseball cards, only those cards can be used to create and manage a virtual team. Which is awesome.
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Ante-Up as World Series of Poker Prepares to Hit the App Store

Posted by Rob Rich on July 2nd, 2012

Poker has kind of taken the country by storm over the past several years. It’s made its way into all manner of media, obviously including video games. So what makes this particular digital rendition of card-based gambling worth checking out? Quite a lot, it turns out.

All of the expected options are available in World Series of Poker, such as Texas Hold ‘Em and even Omaha Poker, but there’s a slew of more social-oriented features that are actually pretty awesome. Every player has an account that automatically tracks virtually every aspect of their games; thus helping them to better understand their own play style through statistics as well as allowing them to show off their skills with a number of different trophies such as special tournament rings.

It’s easy to tell what a player needs to work on (i.e. too much folding, not enough folding, etc.) at a glance, but what’s also cool is that really good players can gain access to a special league of games that are only available to others that have earned the same honor. In other words, seriously good poker players won’t have to worry about finding themselves in a game full of casual players. It’s also easy to find, invite, and join games that are already in progress. Each game is represented with a table, and players have only to tap an open seat to invite a buddy or two. And it’s just as easy to join a game.

I wasn’t able to procure any pricing information, but World Series of Poker will be available on the App Store “soon.”

Alexandria Bloodshow Brings Hemophilia Back

Posted by Rob Rich on June 8th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

It feels like it wasn’t all that long ago when Samurai Bloodshow (the rest of the title is too confusing so I’m leaving it off) managed to take me completely by surprise. The combination of strategy, card collecting, and over-the-top arterial spray brought a huge smile to my face. And now Sega is poised to do the same thing to me all over again. Albeit without the surprise since I know what’s coming this time around.

Alexandria Bloodshow is the official sequel to that other fantastic genre mash-up. This time players can take control of two separate armies – the Egyptians and the Greeks – as they attempt to collect, cut-up, and conquer. With the requisite art styles (Greek pottery, Egyptian hieroglyphics) to match of course. All the engrossing card gathering and deck building is still on offer, now with a whole new set of units to strategize with. Over 120 in all, actually. And with the two selectable armies, five difficulties, and seventeen stages it makes for a total of 170 campaign levels to conquer. And that’s not even taking the two player versus mode (via WiFi or Bluetooth) into account.

Alexandria Bloodshow is available on the App Store now, and it’s only $0.99. Okay, it's actually free to download but it's $0.99 to unlock the full game. Not a bad deal.


1Card Eliminates the Need for Lugging Around Multiple Memberships

Posted by Rob Rich on May 23rd, 2012
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Doubtless most people these days carry around one or two club cards. Virtually every single retail and grocery store in existence uses them and they’re a great way to save some money with (typically) no initial cost. The only problem is having to dig out a given card at the register. I myself sometimes get annoyed with flipping through all the little tags on my keyring to find the right one. 1Card exists specifically for this sort of thing.

The app lets users to store and organize a number of different membership cards in one non-physical place. Even better, it can accommodate virtually any card because it allows for barcode scanning/copying with the iPhone’s camera. Assuming the company in question doesn’t already have a listing on the app in the first place. But the handiness doesn’t stop there. 1Card also displays promotions and coupons associated with a selected card with the push of a button, and another push or two can bring up a store’s phone number or even location on a GPS map (via the tracknose website).

1Card is already sitting in the App Store, just waiting to be used by disgruntled card-carriers. And much like the memberships cards most of us have no doubt accumulated, it doesn’t cost a thing.