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Greedy Grub Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on May 23rd, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: A CUTE CRAWL
Greedy Grub is certainly adorable, but it's not particularly ground-breaking.
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2020: My Country Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on May 20th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: BE PATIENT
One of the more satisfying freemium city building games out there.
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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.

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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Knightly Adventure Updates With New Character Class, Holiday Theme

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on December 6th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: HEAD IN THE CLOUD :: Read Review »

Pangalore's freemium city building cum RPG, Knightly Adventure, has gotten its first update on iOS, and is headed to Android as well. The update includes a new Witch class along with holiday-themed environments, settings, and costumes.

§ Holiday themed winter setting, complete with magical falling snow and snowy fields throughout the player’s island kingdom
§ Holiday themed items temporarily replace in-game items—health potions now appear as gingerbread men, for instance
§ New in-game items include a “Resurrection Feathers” potion that allows players to continue a quest after being defeated in combat
§ New Christmas tree and reindeer items are available to decorate your holiday kingdom
§ New holiday alternate costumes are available for every character class
§ New Witch character brings a fun and powerful second magic-user class to the game
§ Extensive optimization allows faster game launches and faster, more reliable performance across supported iOS devices (iPhone 4 or newer, iPad 2 or newer, iPod touch 5)

My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Angela LaFollette on November 13th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: PONY UP
Unleash your inner Brony or Pegasister in this free city-builder game, but expect to eventually hit a pay wall.
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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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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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Dungeon Village Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on June 5th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: RP-GLEE
Even after game development, feudal Japan, malls, alien worlds, indie racing, and even high school, Kairosoft still manages to find new territory to cover.
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Mole Kingdom Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on April 9th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: BURY IT
Credit where it's due for attempting to capitalize on a popular market without blatant copying, but Mole Kingdom kind of misses the point.
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Game Insight Releases The Tribez

Posted by Kevin Stout on April 5th, 2012

Game Insight, popular publishers of games like My Country and Mystery Manor: Hidden Adventure, has just released the newest game in its lineup, The Tribez.

The Tribez is a free-to-play iPad game where players take on the role of a lost time traveler who ends up in a primitive fantasy realm full of tribes. Gameplay for The Tribez includes building stone-age villages, exploring various territories, and leading a tribe that worships the player as a godsend.

The game boasts colorful graphics and high-quality music. The Tribez includes over 27 levels to explore across three different islands, more than 100 quests for the player to complete, 50 different buildings to create, and ten different humorous characters to interact with. Players even get a pet dinosaur that fights off opponents to the tribes and entertains villages.

The Tribez is free-to-play, but sells coins and gems to use in the game through in-app purchases.


Rebuild Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on February 20th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: DEVOURS FREE TIME
The gritty, almost awkward presentation in this zombie apocalypse strategy game might cause some hesitation. Make no mistake, however, it's one heck of a Must-Own for genre fans.
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PyramidVille Adventure Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on January 27th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: JOBS OF THE NILE
Build, expand and maintain an Egyptian city in this iOS adaptation of the Facebook hit.
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