Category Archives: Feature

November Favorite Games of the Month

Time just seems to go by faster and faster, as it’s already time for Christmas.  But before we all get into the Christmas swing, let’s look back at some of our favorite games released this month.

Samurai II: Featuring it’s signature cell-shaded graphics, the sequel to one of the more unique games on the App Store is all the more improved.  With a storyline, some more bloody action, and a new control scheme, it’s one that we truly enjoyed this month.

Mushihimesama Bug Panic: This new take on top-down shooter/dual-stick shooter really impressed our writer Matt, as it was filled with all the fine details.  Cave has done a great job so far with their games, and hopefully it doesn’t stop here.

Chop Chop Caveman: There are a numerous number of Chop Chop games on the App Store, ranging from ninja fighting to tennis.  And their latest version, Chop Chop Caveman, is based on a platforming type of game structure, with physics-based puzzlers and more.  While we can’t say we’ve enjoyed all of the Chop Chops, this is by far one of their best.

Wispin: This little indie arcade gem really took us by surprise, and it’s definitely unique.  The object of the game is to destroy the enemy based on your color—if you’re green, you destroy the green enemies, red the red enemies—and we found it to be a winning formula.  Mixed in with a bit of dual-stick shooter goodness, there’s not much to dislike about this one.

Galaxy on Fire 2: Probably one of the deepest games on the App Store, Galaxy on Fire 2 is all about exploring the endless space of outer space.  Trading, fighting, traveling, exploring… there’s so much to do here it’s actually quite ridiculous.  While a lot of casual players out there will decline to even try this game, it’s more than enough to satisfy the patient.

And that’s it for this month folks!  If you think we’ve missed out on a game, be sure to let us know in the comments.

Thanksgiving 2010: What We’re Thankful For

Thanksgiving was yesterday, we know, but we were so busy stuffing ourselves with turkey and food that we kind of fell into a food coma—not a good state to write in.  But now that we have our minds settled and sparked, we reflect upon what we’re thankful for for the year 2010.

Matt: The games I am most thankful for are the games I keep coming back to over time, those rare titles which exhibit excellent gameplay and incredible staying power in the face of a near constant stream of new releases. While most titles live their life like a candle in the wind, there are a few that continue to burn brightly in my heart. In no particular order, the iPhone games I am most thankful for are …

Space Invaders Infinity Gene, the brilliant evolution of one of the most important titles in video game history. A lengthy main game, unlockable extra levels I still haven’t seen the end of, additional DLC stages, and the ability to create randomized stages from your own library of music amount to an endless supply of fresh content. The way the game deploys its finite enemy types into seemingly infinite combinations of unique challenges is brilliant, and a variety of player-selectable ships allow you to experience played stages in new ways. SIIG is a masterpiece, one of those rare titles that never seems to overstay its welcome, and which constantly surprises and rewards the player with new content and new challenges.

Puzzle Quest has been released many times and on many devices over the years, but received its most definitive version only recently. Puzzle Quest HD for the iPad is this great game at its very best, and a release I am extremely thankful for. The game revolutionized the match-3 genre by incorporating RPG elements such as combat, character progression and skill use, offers a lengthy quest and a plethora of character classes with unique abilities and strategies all their own, and mixes up the match-3 action with plenty of variants and mini games. The amount of content is simply immense and has kept me coming back again and again for years. Now on the iPad, the game benefits all the more from the device’s large display and touch-screen interface.

And finally, I am thankful for the masterful, iPhone exclusive roguelike 100 Rogues. With its multiple character classes each having a unique skill tree, randomized maps, enemies and loot, deceptively strategic gameplay, excellent balance and steep difficulty, the game is never twice the same. Characters may be developed in any number of ways, leaving it up to the player to discover the best approach to any given situation. With the recent release of version 2.0, 100 Rogues has been renewed with a ton of additional content, and there is still more to come, the developers say, including two new character classes. With so much variety, strategy and new content, 100 Rogues is a game I can never put down for long, and one I am truly thankful for its having been made.

Happy thanksgiving, everyone.

Daniel: I’m thankful for any developer that goes out of their way to create a groundbreaking experience on the iPhone. The iPhone’s App Store would not have exploded like it has if it weren’t for people who exploited all of the iPhone’s capabilities. Heck, I doubt NoDPad would even exist if it weren’t for these type of people—the ones willing to create the next big thing, the next Must Have game.

Developers like Gameloft, while they have the capital, create some of the best games the iPhone has ever seen in Modern Combat 2 and NOVA. Firemint is yet another developer that goes all out, evidenced by their gorgeous and still-competing Real Racing and their casual Flight Control. Almost every game made by these two developers are absolutely the best; sure there are faults, but the goods almost always outweigh the bads.

And we’ve got to give some indie devs some love, my first nominee going to Halfbrick Studios (technically not indie, but not large either). Fruit Ninja really kicked things off for this game developer, leading to Monster Dash and Age of Zombies. All three have been solid and quite addictive in my books, and when it comes to casual games, Halfbrick usually provides the best.

Other indie devs include Rocketcat Games, the developers of Hook Champ and Super Quick Hook. Unique, beautiful, and most importantly, fun. I’ve probably got a lot of other devs/companies/people I’m forgetting, but thanks to all the devs out there who shoot high for groundbreaking, good-looking, and enjoyable games.

Travis: There are so many unique and wonderful experiences found on the iDevices to be thankful for. As a retro enthusiast my heart sings every time I boot up Hook Champ by Rocketcat Games. Time and time again I return to this love letter to both the aesthetic and sensibilities of the games of my youth. The brutal level design is as fun and addicting as it is rewarding. Leaderboard integration is some of the best available on the platform. Instant updates to your ranking as well as top scorers for the week can be readily seen when selecting a level. Challenges can also be issued and received with the greatest of ease. Collecting up all the hats is an incredible incentive to completionists such as myself. Did I mention that there are a number of secret hats to find? Hook Champ is simply a masterfully designed game. It’s clear that Rocketcat Games has a full understanding and appreciation for the games of yesteryear.

On the complete opposite end of the scale I also have never been able to get over just how much fun Peggle is. This plinko style game is absolutely addicting and for good reason. The game’s objective is simple enough that everyone can grasp it: clear all the orange pegs with the minimal number of shots taken. Enhance this gameplay mechanic with skill based timing and aiming of shots and a whole lot of luck and you get a game that is every bit worthy of the phenomenon it is.

Finally I’ve become a fan of Solomon’s Keep/Boneyard by Raptisoft. These twin stick shooters diverge from the crowd by mixing up the gameplay a bit. Rather than simply shooting basic guns you are instead given a variety of magic powers to choose from. While the initial magic set is cut from the most basic formats, fireballs, magic missiles, and lightning; they later become combinable and produce much more original feeling powers. These skills are available as you gain levels, another distinctive feature of these games. There are levels to gain, items to find and buy, and even bosses to slay. A significant level of depth can be found in Solomon’s Keep/Boneyard that most of the competition simply does not have.

All of these games have been staples on my iPod since I first downloaded them and they will likely stay with me forever. I simply can’t get enough of these premier examples of iDevice gaming and cannot recommend them enough if you are a newcomer to the iDevices.

Hope: On this day of Thanksgiving, reflecting back on this past year, I find I am very thankful for a few great apps from the App Store.

Angry Birds came in silently and exploded into a huge success. A very simple physics puzzler has created a sensation with You Tube spoof videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMltvlqEM54), an upcoming line of plush toys, and even the celebration of Angry Birds Day. But for me the attraction is in the simplicity. Fling a bunch of birds at some pigs and break whatever you can in the process – how tough can that be? Well right away you realize that strategy is definitely needed to get those precious 3 stars. Just when you think you have conquered the game, Rovio Mobile throws a curve at you and releases more levels! And then came more! Then when you think you have seen it all, the hidden golden eggs appear. The content is astounding and the fun is addicting. Definitely a game that you can play for minutes or hours at a time. Thank you Rovio Mobile for creating a game I can go back to time and time again. And for holding the first spot on my first page for the absolute longest time ever!

The appstore had been deplete of original RPG’s for much of its young life. But then along came Chaos Rings. A turn based battle system highlighted this deep game. It was very easy to get sucked into the gameplay and it’s easy interaction and engrossing story brought you in even deeper. A remarkable amount of replay value was built in as the game is to be completed with several pairs of characters. The game raised the bar for the genre on the platform and soon every RPG that was released after it was compared to it. Published by Square Enix, Chaos Rings told every developer that the iOS was a serious platform that could appeal to more than just the casual gamer on the go. Gamers want content and Chaos Rings delivered. Thank you Square Enix and Media Vision for taking a risk and paving the way for the future of the platform. And for giving me such a great original RPG.

The year’s biggest trend has been the freemium model. There have been many approaches to this but Nimblebit released Pocket Frogs and I must say it is the perfect balance to the social gaming world. First of all who doesn’t enjoy frogs? Right, no one. But more to the point who even thought breeding them would be so fun! With a wealth of achievements, an active social system with Plus+ friends, variety of gaming styles, Pocket Frogs is a very well balanced social game that allows you to make purchases of stamps and potions optional. Unlike other freemium games that feel like you are feeding quarters into an arcade machine, Pocket Frogs allows you to play the game without spending a single cent if you so choose. But soon you find that you are having much too much fun for this to be free and you make a purchase of one kind or another. The addictive collecting certainly keeps you coming back for more and more. Thank you Nimblebit for putting a little bit of spark and fun in my day by giving me something to aim for, something to achieve, and something to conquer. Maybe I won’t ever fill my Froggydex, but I will certainly have fun trying, and it sure is fun scheduling a day around my frogs’ growth cycle!

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night!

Black Friday: What To and Not To Buy

Black Friday arrives again, the infamous day right after Thanksgiving when retailers decide to chop down prices to some ridiculously low amount (sometimes…).  And it’s that time of year again, and the App Store is not exempt from Black Friday’s reach.

And you’ll obviously be searching for some good deals, so here’s a comprehensive list of what to buy and what not to buy.  If you find any other game on sale that we didn’t include, be sure to let us know in the comments.

What to Buy

Defender Chronicles ($0.99): This is still one of my favorite tower defense games on the App Store, although I haven’t played a tower defense game in a while.  Still, for $0.99, you really can’t go wrong.  It’s filled with content, nice artwork, and overall, it’s a steal at the price.

Cogs HD ($1.99): This is one of the best puzzle games I have played on the iPad, and it’s seriously worth picking up if you’ve got an iPad handy.  You really don’t know what you’re missing out on, as I can’t bring enough praise on Cogs HD.  Get it while it’s cheap.

EA’s Offerings (all $0.99):

Com2us’s offerings (all $0.99):

Castlevania Puzzle ($0.99): While it’s not the real Castlevania, it sure can pack a punch.  This is for anyone out there that remembers Castlevania or just loves puzzles in general; it received a Must Have award here, and as a whole, we really enjoyed it.  $0.99 for a game like this is just too great of a deal to pass.

Ravensword ($0.99): Probably one of the most technologically advanced RPGs on the App Store, featuring great graphics and a great storyline.  Sure, it is a bit short but for $0.99, it’s hard to complain.  Grab it for a buck while it lasts, or I fear you’ll miss out on one of the best RPG experiences on the App Store so far.

Carnivores Dinosaur Hunter ($0.99): One of the best hunting games that I’ve come across, although the graphics could use a bit of work.  It is a port of an old PC game though, and it’s definitely a ton of fun to play.  Throw in universal iPad support and Retina graphics, and you have the perfect makings of a great game.

100 Rogues ($1.99): We’ve given this game a lot of love here, and definitely with a reason.  It’s a great rogue-like that frankly everyone should get.  At it’s current, low price I highly doubt you can find a reason not to get it.  Seriously though, get it now (notice how many times I said get it?)

IUGO’s offerings (all $0.99):

Monkey Island 2 Le Chuck’s Revenge for iPad ($1.99): Whew, that title is a mouthful.  For $1.99, you get a remastered classic that should give atleast 8 hours of gameplay if not more.  It’s a ton of fun for adventure-goers, and I personally loved it.

What not to Buy

Gameloft’s offerings: None of the games put on sale on their part are really “must have experiences”.  You could probably argue buying Hero of Sparta II, but other than that, none of the other games are great.  Some of them may be GOOD, but hey, good just isn’t enough these days.

Namco’s offerings: Namco has continued to make some pretty bad games on the iPhone (Splatterhouse being the most recent one), and none of their sales are really eye-popping.  Despicable Me: Minion Mania and Pool Pro Online 3 are pretty much the only games worthy of buying; everything else just skip over.  Yes, that includes Pac-Man.  And Time Crisis 2nd Strike.  And Ridge Racer Accelerated.

And that’s it folks!  Again, if you believe there’s a game(s) that should be on the list and aren’t, feel free to let us know in the comments.  Hope you enjoy your Black Friday shopping!

Exclusive Trailer and Preview of ToonRacer

We’ve got all the details for the upcoming cart racer ToonRacer from Bigpoint, developers of online browser games.  Their idea of bringing ToonRacer to the App Store is one that should intrigue most with its cross platform, 3D multiplayer.

The developers have also mentioned that the game will sport a slew of gameplay modes along with the ability to “level up” your character and his vehicle, although details about the features and gameplay are pretty scarce.

Deep under the earth you explore in a world full of dark ToonRacer Tunnel. You see, what has built wonderful cities to mankind in the underground and all that should remain hidden in the darkness and never come to light. The treasures of civilization and the waste waiting to be discovered by you. In Toon Racer, You choose one of the many characters and organize your own car, despite the cartoon graphics, the control of the vehicle is very realistic. The various racing modes promise you variety and fun, and the progression of your character and your racing machine you are now before new challenges.

ToonRacer alllows you to test your skill on the race track like Kart Racer. Under the working title “Cave Gladiators” unveiled in the 2010 gamescom Europe, ToonRacer has a special feature of the cute-funny characters racing together in the 3D environment powered by Unity3D.

A release date has not been announced, but it should be available within the coming months.  Check out the screenshots and trailer below for more information.

We should also be having some hands-on time soon, so stay tuned!

No DPad presents the Crystal War Strategy Guide

Crystal War, by GNC Interactive, won us over in a big way with it’s beautiful visuals, polished interface and excellent gameplay. In our review, we praised the game highly and rated it a Buy. And because we love the game so very much, we now happily present you with our latest creation, the NoDpad exclusive downloadable strategy guide for Crystal War. The spoiler-free guide covers everything you need to know to make the most of your time with Crystal War, including the basics of play, detailed unit and upgrade listings, and strategies on the waging of war, complete with screen captures (making it all very pretty like). The guide is only available here, and as a free download in PDF format for viewing on your desktop or in iBooks on your iPhone or iPad.

Click here to download the Crystal War PDF Strategy Guide.

And in case you missed it, be sure to check out our 100 Rogues Strategy Guide as well!