Category Archives: 3 stars

SwipeTap Tap Pro

Another arcade game with a simple premise: you get an unending string of actions you are supposed to perform and when you screw up, game over. Here, you have to tap the screen, or swipe left or right, or double tape the screen, or swipe up or down, or double swipe…well, you get the picture. This game has a solid level-up path, and easily becomes challenging the longer you play. If you lose, you do need to go back to the beginning of the level, which can be annoying. And be sure to leave out the space in SwipeTap when you search for the game.

Survival score: a few games

SwipeTap Tap Pro

Another arcade game with a simple premise: you get an unending string of actions you are supposed to perform and when you screw up, game over. Here, you have to tap the screen, or swipe left or right, or double tape the screen, or swipe up or down, or double swipe…well, you get the picture. This game has a solid level-up path, and easily becomes challenging the longer you play. If you lose, you do need to go back to the beginning of the level, which can be annoying. And be sure to leave out the space in SwipeTap when you search for the game.

Survival score: a few games

Gravity Hook HD

The game is easier to play than describe, but I’ll try. You’re a little person in a space suit, and you have a grappling hook. There are a bunch of orbs in the air above you. Touch one of them and the hook will grab it and pull you up. But you have to be strategic because there is only so much power in your hook. The farther away the orb, the less power you have to get pulled up. And there is gravity, so as soon as you can, you need to move to a different, higher orb, or else you’ll fall and lose. The orbs have different properties too — sometimes, they blow up after 3 seconds (blowing you up too if you are near), sometimes they fall immediately, and so on. Turns out I’m not very good at it…

Survival score: A few games

Gravity Hook HD

The game is easier to play than describe, but I’ll try. You’re a little person in a space suit, and you have a grappling hook. There are a bunch of orbs in the air above you. Touch one of them and the hook will grab it and pull you up. But you have to be strategic because there is only so much power in your hook. The farther away the orb, the less power you have to get pulled up. And there is gravity, so as soon as you can, you need to move to a different, higher orb, or else you’ll fall and lose. The orbs have different properties too — sometimes, they blow up after 3 seconds (blowing you up too if you are near), sometimes they fall immediately, and so on. Turns out I’m not very good at it…

Survival score: A few games

Supersonic HD

If you like those roller coasters where you flip around in 360 degree corkscrews, you’ll like this game. You’re in pretty small tunnel in a first-person view, and the game speeds you along through the tunnel as it winds and twists You have to collect diamonds and avoid mines. When you hit one of the barrier-type structures that appear periodically, it’s game over. You move left and right by tilting the iPad , and since it’s a tunnel and there is no gravity, there is a lot of flipping upside down. The first person view means that you never experience the upside down-ness. The tunnel seems to rotate instead. The developers say the game has great music, but I play with the sound off—too hectic for me as it is!

Survival score: A few games.

Supersonic HD

If you like those roller coasters where you flip around in 360 degree corkscrews, you’ll like this game. You’re in pretty small tunnel in a first-person view, and the game speeds you along through the tunnel as it winds and twists You have to collect diamonds and avoid mines. When you hit one of the barrier-type structures that appear periodically, it’s game over. You move left and right by tilting the iPad , and since it’s a tunnel and there is no gravity, there is a lot of flipping upside down. The first person view means that you never experience the upside down-ness. The tunnel seems to rotate instead. The developers say the game has great music, but I play with the sound off—too hectic for me as it is!

Survival score: A few games.

Spectre 3D

This is a throwback to the arcade games where you move around a battlefield and shoot things, avoid other things, and collect some stuff. In Spectre 3D (make sure you put the 3D on when you search for it) you are a tank, and you are being chased by other tanks. You have to collect flags to go to the next level (at least, I think you go to the next level, I’ve never made it that far). The tank can jump, which is handy, but it can’t really turn. Who builds a tank that can jump but not turn?!

Survival score: A few games

Spectre 3D

This is a throwback to the arcade games where you move around a battlefield and shoot things, avoid other things, and collect some stuff. In Spectre 3D (make sure you put the 3D on when you search for it) you are a tank, and you are being chased by other tanks. You have to collect flags to go to the next level (at least, I think you go to the next level, I’ve never made it that far). The tank can jump, which is handy, but it can’t really turn. Who builds a tank that can jump but not turn?!

Survival score: A few games

HawaiiDrop HD

Sometimes, I don’t download updates to the games I’ve already purchased. Why? Because developers add advertisements, or in-app purchases, or whatever. But I would download an update to HawaiiDrop in an instant. Once I got the hang of it, I found I really enjoy it. What’s the problem? Crashes after the first few levels. So, if it worked, this would be a 5 star game. The game board is a grid, around 8×8 or so. Various squares have puddles of water in them. Some puddles are bigger than others. You flick a puddle across the board, and if it hits another puddle, the two puddles will join. If the puddle gets to big (more than 5 drops), it will burst, sending 4 drops of water outward, one in each direction. Do it right and you start a chain reaction, the drops of water hit a large puddle, which then bursts, and so on and so on. What happened to that last drop of water, you ask? It goes into your “pool” (get it? I made that up) of drops that you can use when you get stuck. Just tap on a puddle to add a drop. Each flick also costs a drop of water, so there is some strategy involved. Level is won when you clear the puddles, or lost when you use up your pool of extra drops.

Survival Score: It self destructed, wish it would have lasted longer.

HawaiiDrop HD

Sometimes, I don’t download updates to the games I’ve already purchased. Why? Because developers add advertisements, or in-app purchases, or whatever. But I would download an update to HawaiiDrop in an instant. Once I got the hang of it, I found I really enjoy it. What’s the problem? Crashes after the first few levels. So, if it worked, this would be a 5 star game. The game board is a grid, around 8×8 or so. Various squares have puddles of water in them. Some puddles are bigger than others. You flick a puddle across the board, and if it hits another puddle, the two puddles will join. If the puddle gets to big (more than 5 drops), it will burst, sending 4 drops of water outward, one in each direction. Do it right and you start a chain reaction, the drops of water hit a large puddle, which then bursts, and so on and so on. What happened to that last drop of water, you ask? It goes into your “pool” (get it? I made that up) of drops that you can use when you get stuck. Just tap on a puddle to add a drop. Each flick also costs a drop of water, so there is some strategy involved. Level is won when you clear the puddles, or lost when you use up your pool of extra drops.

Survival Score: It self destructed, wish it would have lasted longer.

Find the Way

One of the things I love to see is when a game turns a traditional genre upside down. Find the Way is an example of a game that turns the “maze” genre upside down. I used to love paper and pencil mazes…the really complex ones I would even solve using a toothpick so that I could resolve them. So, imagine that all you could see is the toothpick, not the maze itself. And you still had to find your way out. In a limited amount of time. That’s the gameplay of Find the Way. The interface of the game is pleasant – good colors, easy navigation, etc. But if you don’t escape by when your time is up, you go back to the beginning. So, to escape you basically memorize the correct twists and turns that makes up the path to the exit. Sure, you can pick up “extra time” bonuses along the way, but you basically have to go down a deadend to find them. Which means you have to remember the way out AND the way to the bonuses. In the end, this is a game of memorization. Not very interesting to me. But, it’s been popular on iTunes, so maybe you want to check it out anyway.

Survival Score: Deleted before completing the 2nd level

Find the Way

One of the things I love to see is when a game turns a traditional genre upside down. Find the Way is an example of a game that turns the “maze” genre upside down. I used to love paper and pencil mazes…the really complex ones I would even solve using a toothpick so that I could resolve them. So, imagine that all you could see is the toothpick, not the maze itself. And you still had to find your way out. In a limited amount of time. That’s the gameplay of Find the Way. The interface of the game is pleasant – good colors, easy navigation, etc. But if you don’t escape by when your time is up, you go back to the beginning. So, to escape you basically memorize the correct twists and turns that makes up the path to the exit. Sure, you can pick up “extra time” bonuses along the way, but you basically have to go down a deadend to find them. Which means you have to remember the way out AND the way to the bonuses. In the end, this is a game of memorization. Not very interesting to me. But, it’s been popular on iTunes, so maybe you want to check it out anyway.

Survival Score: Deleted before completing the 2nd level

Brave Ghost HD

There are different types of physics puzzlers, but all of them have in common that there is some unseen physical force that is acting on objects, and figuring out that force is the key to solving the puzzle. In Brave Ghost, the force is the gravitational pull of different types of objects (plus a bit of gravity). In catapult action similar to Angry Birds, you set your little Brave Ghost flying along a trajectory that becomes a path around the objects. The goal is to have that path pass through 3 other ghosts you are trying to “save.” It’s amusing and the puzzles are OK. A good game if you’re still enjoying this genre.

Brave Ghost HD

There are different types of physics puzzlers, but all of them have in common that there is some unseen physical force that is acting on objects, and figuring out that force is the key to solving the puzzle. In Brave Ghost, the force is the gravitational pull of different types of objects (plus a bit of gravity). In catapult action similar to Angry Birds, you set your little Brave Ghost flying along a trajectory that becomes a path around the objects. The goal is to have that path pass through 3 other ghosts you are trying to “save.” It’s amusing and the puzzles are OK. A good game if you’re still enjoying this genre.

Ballistic SE

The descriptions available on appshopper for this game are spot on: “intense” “thriller” “thumping” “overdrive”. Sounds like a high blood pressure cocktail and indeed it is. I liked this game the first time I played it–indeed, I felt the surge of intense thrilling thumping overdrive. I put it down for a few months, and when I came back to it, it wasn’t so much that any more. More like frantic and hopeless. Was it just that I was a little older? A little wiser? A little less willing to get blisters on my thumbs from the duel stick controllers? Maybe so.

Survival Score: Good for a couple hours of stress-on-a-stick

Ballistic SE

The descriptions available on appshopper for this game are spot on: “intense” “thriller” “thumping” “overdrive”. Sounds like a high blood pressure cocktail and indeed it is. I liked this game the first time I played it–indeed, I felt the surge of intense thrilling thumping overdrive. I put it down for a few months, and when I came back to it, it wasn’t so much that any more. More like frantic and hopeless. Was it just that I was a little older? A little wiser? A little less willing to get blisters on my thumbs from the duel stick controllers? Maybe so.

Survival Score: Good for a couple hours of stress-on-a-stick

Bebbled and Clickomania

Bebbled and Clickomania are variations of the bubble or balloon popping game that I first played on the Pogo website about 10 years ago (remember its slogan? I think it was “Games for Women” or something similarly awkward). Anyway, the game starts with a board full of circle-ish objects in 3-5 colors arranged in columns (i.e., there is gravity) and when you touch any of the shapes, it and all of the objects of the same color that touch it disappear. The ones above drop down. If a column is cleared, the columns move together to fill the empty space. The object is to completely clear the board.

I generally like these games for casual play, and I can play a long session because the balance between strategy and chance is pretty good. Bebbled adds two twists — you get only a certain number of moves to clear the board and (and this is pretty cool) you can turn the field upside down and reverse gravity. Clickomania also has a twist — you can choose the number of balls on the board (a little to a lot) and you can change the number of colors. Either game is worth picking up for a play.

Survival score: A long casual session, once in a while

Bebbled and Clickomania

Bebbled and Clickomania are variations of the bubble or balloon popping game that I first played on the Pogo website about 10 years ago (remember its slogan? I think it was “Games for Women” or something similarly awkward). Anyway, the game starts with a board full of circle-ish objects in 3-5 colors arranged in columns (i.e., there is gravity) and when you touch any of the shapes, it and all of the objects of the same color that touch it disappear. The ones above drop down. If a column is cleared, the columns move together to fill the empty space. The object is to completely clear the board.

I generally like these games for casual play, and I can play a long session because the balance between strategy and chance is pretty good. Bebbled adds two twists — you get only a certain number of moves to clear the board and (and this is pretty cool) you can turn the field upside down and reverse gravity. Clickomania also has a twist — you can choose the number of balls on the board (a little to a lot) and you can change the number of colors. Either game is worth picking up for a play.

Survival score: A long casual session, once in a while

Art of Pinball – The Mummy

I grew up on pinball. First played standing on a chair in front of my dad, while he “helped” push the flippers. So I try out nearly every pinball app available. The games (“tables”, more accurately!) in the Art of Pinball series claim to be retro 70s, which means no ramps, bunches of banks of targets to light up, a few bumpers, and only a modest incline on the table. I think this game gets that right. And the polish on the ball means you can see the English on it, i.e., you can see it’s spin. That’s kinda cool.

What brings the game down is the physics of the ball and the kickers. Too often, the ball behaves more like rubber than like steel. And there are certain kickers that shoot the ball back at way too fast a speed. The joy of pinball is getting into that zone, being one with the table, anticipating every move the ball is going to make. So, if an app messes up that timing, it is a serious flaw.

Lots of in-app options for those who like tricking out their table with different flippers, and balls, and stuff. The basic game is fully functional and worth a look.

Survival score: A few games every so often.

Art of Pinball – The Mummy

I grew up on pinball. First played standing on a chair in front of my dad, while he “helped” push the flippers. So I try out nearly every pinball app available. The games (“tables”, more accurately!) in the Art of Pinball series claim to be retro 70s, which means no ramps, bunches of banks of targets to light up, a few bumpers, and only a modest incline on the table. I think this game gets that right. And the polish on the ball means you can see the English on it, i.e., you can see it’s spin. That’s kinda cool.

What brings the game down is the physics of the ball and the kickers. Too often, the ball behaves more like rubber than like steel. And there are certain kickers that shoot the ball back at way too fast a speed. The joy of pinball is getting into that zone, being one with the table, anticipating every move the ball is going to make. So, if an app messes up that timing, it is a serious flaw.

Lots of in-app options for those who like tricking out their table with different flippers, and balls, and stuff. The basic game is fully functional and worth a look.

Survival score: A few games every so often.

Chop Chop Caveman

I have a hard time finding 2D platformers I enjoy playing. Started all the way back with sega and Sonic. Even with Mario, though that was a little better. Just not enough exploring for me.

Well, any way, I highly recommend chop chop caveman is to any one who adores 2D platformers. It has interesting characters, just the right sense of humor, smooth gameplay, and meets all of the typical expectations for the genre. Just not enough intrigue and adventure to keep me playing beyond a level or two.

Survival mode: 30 minutes…your mileage will almost certainly vary.

Chop Chop Caveman

I have a hard time finding 2D platformers I enjoy playing. Started all the way back with sega and Sonic. Even with Mario, though that was a little better. Just not enough exploring for me.

Well, any way, I highly recommend chop chop caveman is to any one who adores 2D platformers. It has interesting characters, just the right sense of humor, smooth gameplay, and meets all of the typical expectations for the genre. Just not enough intrigue and adventure to keep me playing beyond a level or two.

Survival mode: 30 minutes…your mileage will almost certainly vary.

Bejeweled Blitz

Bejeweled has always been one of my all time favorite games. Simplicity itself. I played it for 2 hours straight waiting in line to vote in the 2008 election, and for at least that long on a flight from the US to Qatar.

So, Blitz looks a lot like Bejeweled. Except it isn’t. Blitz is to Bejeweled as “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” is to Jeopardy. It’s for those who need to have bling and EXCITEMENT when they play their match 3 games. Look, it’s shiny! When I play it, I can just feel my IQ sinking.

Ok. Enough snark from me. You get the picture.

Survival mode: a sickly sweet tasting 5-7 games.

Bejeweled Blitz

Bejeweled has always been one of my all time favorite games. Simplicity itself. I played it for 2 hours straight waiting in line to vote in the 2008 election, and for at least that long on a flight from the US to Qatar.

So, Blitz looks a lot like Bejeweled. Except it isn’t. Blitz is to Bejeweled as “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” is to Jeopardy. It’s for those who need to have bling and EXCITEMENT when they play their match 3 games. Look, it’s shiny! When I play it, I can just feel my IQ sinking.

Ok. Enough snark from me. You get the picture.

Survival mode: a sickly sweet tasting 5-7 games.

Tripevo

The first time I played Tripevo I was surprised by how much I liked it. It’s a match 3 game on a 7×7 board. But instead of pieces dropping or rising, you place each piece exactly where you want it. Plus, each time you get 3 of a kind, one of the trio changes shape and stays on the board, where you have to try to match it with two more of its kind.

So, I picked it up again after several months and played a few rounds. I still think it’s a pretty interesting game, but now I see that there is just too much left to chance. You get to see only the piece that you are placing, so a good portion of the gameplay is still a crapshoot. There are a couple of wild cards here and there, but typically only 1 or 2 a game. A bigger board might make it more interesting…the small area of play just doesn’t afford many strategic options.

Survival score: Only until the novelty wears off. I’d give it 5-7 rounds.

Tripevo

The first time I played Tripevo I was surprised by how much I liked it. It’s a match 3 game on a 7×7 board. But instead of pieces dropping or rising, you place each piece exactly where you want it. Plus, each time you get 3 of a kind, one of the trio changes shape and stays on the board, where you have to try to match it with two more of its kind.

So, I picked it up again after several months and played a few rounds. I still think it’s a pretty interesting game, but now I see that there is just too much left to chance. You get to see only the piece that you are placing, so a good portion of the gameplay is still a crapshoot. There are a couple of wild cards here and there, but typically only 1 or 2 a game. A bigger board might make it more interesting…the small area of play just doesn’t afford many strategic options.

Survival score: Only until the novelty wears off. I’d give it 5-7 rounds.

Bacillium HD

This was an early line drawing game — the kind where you draw a line and the character you control follows the line. Here, you control some little buggy that is being attacked by little wheels and buggies and spaceships and you have to lay down and complete a circle around them to make them vanish.

STRESSFUL! a) you might as well be a snail, b) the attackers swarm, c) too often you think you’ve made a circle, but there must be a microscopic gap in it because the DAMN THINGS KEEP COMING. Ok, breathe. And delete.

It’s a fine game, just not my type.

Survival score: 5-7 minutes.

Bacillium HD

This was an early line drawing game — the kind where you draw a line and the character you control follows the line. Here, you control some little buggy that is being attacked by little wheels and buggies and spaceships and you have to lay down and complete a circle around them to make them vanish.

STRESSFUL! a) you might as well be a snail, b) the attackers swarm, c) too often you think you’ve made a circle, but there must be a microscopic gap in it because the DAMN THINGS KEEP COMING. Ok, breathe. And delete.

It’s a fine game, just not my type.

Survival score: 5-7 minutes.

Escape – Norm’s World XL

This was one of the first games I downloaded, back for the itouch. Eventually it was upgraded for the iPad. Didn’t change the game, though. This is like the peg games…you are a cute little mop top who has to jump from one circle to the next in just the right pattern to jump on all the circles only once always going forward. The gameplay is clean and simple, artistic. I grew up with games, and I think I felt obligated to try it out. But really, I didn’t like them much then, and not any better now. Survival score: 5 minutes

Escape – Norm’s World XL

This was one of the first games I downloaded, back for the itouch. Eventually it was upgraded for the iPad. Didn’t change the game, though. This is like the peg games…you are a cute little mop top who has to jump from one circle to the next in just the right pattern to jump on all the circles only once always going forward. The gameplay is clean and simple, artistic. I grew up with games, and I think I felt obligated to try it out. But really, I didn’t like them much then, and not any better now. Survival score: 5 minutes

Trafy

Trafy is a simple top down driving game. You control a cartoon car on a straight 5 lane highway. You tilt your device to steer. There’s no accelerator. There is a brake control but, honestly, why would you ever use it? As you pass cars and trucks, if you drive recklessly, you get extra points. After a while, a cop car starts riding your bumper, and if you make IT crash into other cars, you get even more points. Amusing …a lot like playing toy cars and smashing them up. But a one trick pony. Good for mindless bits of time. Survival time: 1 session, 20 minutes. 3 out of 5.

Trafy

Trafy is a simple top down driving game. You control a cartoon car on a straight 5 lane highway. You tilt your device to steer. There’s no accelerator. There is a brake control but, honestly, why would you ever use it? As you pass cars and trucks, if you drive recklessly, you get extra points. After a while, a cop car starts riding your bumper, and if you make IT crash into other cars, you get even more points. Amusing …a lot like playing toy cars and smashing them up. But a one trick pony. Good for mindless bits of time. Survival time: 1 session, 20 minutes. 3 out of 5.