Tag Archives: $1.99

The Incident Review: The Sky is Falling

“I wish I had junk food from here to the sky!” wishes Max Conner.

“Why not? Higher than high!” laughs the rapping genie.

It has been fourteen years since the magnum opus of Shaquille O’Neal’s acting career was inflicted upon an unsuspecting public. I was an easily impressed, nine year old in 1996 and even I thought Kazaam deserved an “avoid” review. More than a decade later, my only lingering memory is watching the junk food rain from the sky, fulfilling the wish of young Max Conner, and my fellow third-graders everywhere. Now that both Max and I have had some time to mature, I wonder how that wish would change for a modern audience.

The result would likely resemble the premise of The Incident. The sky is falling, showering the protagonist with deadly consumer goods. Tilt the iPod to run from plummeting flatscreen televisions and guitars. Tap to jump atop the accumulating sofas and arcade cabinets. On screen indicators flash warnings of impending vending machine, modern art and sports car showers. Perhaps the biggest dilemma is deciding whether to dodge these objects or furnish a studio apartment with them.

Just as genie stories are ultimately warnings about the dangers of wish fulfillment, The Incident is a cautionary tale of consumerist lust. Seemingly every desirable retail item of the 21st century is raining from the sky, yet they threaten to crush our hero with their weight. The game is about trying not to be buried alive by the gradual accumulation of junk that eventually envelops the planet and pushes our hero into outer space. But is it any wonder that the trash continues to pile up? The power-ups are coins and diamonds. What does money bring except more stuff?

Upon finishing the game and discovering the cause of the current calamity, an option to replay the levels as a bearded version of the protagonist is unlocked. The unoptimistic result is an older looking hero who continues to face the same problems. Regardless of the answers found at the top of the trash heap, implied is that the real “incident” is the destructive habit of ceaseless accumulation.


Pixel Perfect: If I could afford an iPad, this is the first game I would want to play on a bigger screen. The colorful, pixilated graphics are sharp enough to still feel modern while invoking old-school sentimentality. I want to hang those adorable little 8bit representations of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Mondrian’s Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow on Mega Man’s living room walls.

Less is More: The Incident milks impressive mileage out of an uncomplicated concept. Simple and streamlined are often underrated merits in game design.

Comic Sensibility: A goofy sense of humor often averts the frustration of questionable deaths. Upon being crushed, the player is rewarded with a gold trophy commemorating the lethal meteorite. When I die, I hope I too will receive a gold trophy that reads “Killed by Tyrannous Rex Skull. 10,000 meters.”


Heavy-Handed: While tilt sensitivity can be increased in the options menu, the controls were often too unresponsive to meet the demands of the final stages.

Game Over: The simple gameplay remains engaging largely because of the variety of power-ups, falling objects, and other difficulty modifications that are revealed as the game progresses. However, the harsh leap in difficulty during the final stages replaces challenging advancement with frustrating repetition that seemingly requires equal measures of luck and skill.

The Incident’s message is particularly made ironic by the game’s basic design elements. It preaches against consumption habits, and yet is available only on the iPhone, one of the most sophisticated and trendy mobile devices available for purchase. But regardless of its obvious consuming-is-evil message, The Incident is unquestionably worthy of purchase and deserves not to be buried in the pile.

The Incident was developed by Big Bucket Software, and I played through version 1.1 on my iPod Touch 2G.  The price is $1.99.

chronoSgear Review: The Mafia meets “Might and Magic”

Axion Logic has released a strategy RPG that is a cross between elements of Puzzle Quest, Critter Crunch, and turn based strategy games called chronoSgear. Most similar to the Nintendo DS game Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, chronoSgear combines a match 3 battle system with an interesting and unique story line making for an engaging title. Leveling up units and yourself adds to the strategy as you embark on linear quests in a time travel storyline. Different factions with different abilities will keep you thinking for the best way to defeat an enemy.

Being a fan of the Heroes of Might and Magic series for some time now, I was immediately intrigued by the announcement of this title. It is the only and closest entry on the Appstore for fans of the series. In chronoSgear you play as Stark, an adopted member of the Amici Mafia. The head of your family sends you on quests that help them, and of course put you in peril. It all boils down to one fateful day where your enemy General Vincenti makes a move that the family is too late to stop. It is up to you to stop him and the only way is to go back in time. Luckily the Amici Family has a time travel device at their disposal so off you go to try and prevent the unfortunate events of the future.

Battling opponents utilizes a match 3 battle system while protecting Stark’s “Soul Zone”. Deplete the enemies’ soul for the victory, allow Stark’s to empty and he is defeated. Simple? Not really, since many different units are available for play and with different abilities, strategy is high. Decisions must be made to  attack or defend and in some cases one choice is clearly the more beneficial. There are no weapons or armor to upgrade here, only Soul Zone points and Soul Cards that help in battle.


Battle System: Strategy is involved in the battle system as you try to match units of three. Only a set number of moves are allowed each turn and choices must be made to attack or defend. Each unit has a different attack rating. But those with the higher attack values need more turns to “mature” if you will. Choices between waiting a turn for the higher attack, or attacking with less on the next turn become crucial to winning and losing a battle.

Manga Art: Having not seen manga artwork in some time in a game of this caliber it is refreshing for a developer to take the risk and it pays off. Lots of Japanese influences abound with Japanese writing on the title screen. The cut scenes are very enjoyable with this style of artwork.

Controls: To move Stark in the overworld a d-pad appears wherever your finger touches the screen. This makes it easy to move around the portrait orientated map. Touch anywhere and you can move. Since moving around does not need to be precise, this works very well. Especially if you need to move in circles to encounter enemies while leveling either yourself or your units.


Balance: While in most RPGs I expect some amount of leveling up via grinding, it is frustrating in this game to face your first assignment by the family only to get obliterated immediately. Setting out to level up, Starck circled in place and battling enough enemies to level up not one but two levels before having success in that battle.

Another instance of too much too soon are the amounts of exp points needed to level up. Even at low levels, leveling up needs an average of 4,000 exp in some cases and battling opponents yields between 175 and 325 exp, leaving a daunting task in order to gain a level. There are also quite a few side battles to face to accomplish your goal. While a veteran of this battle style and game play will welcome the added battles, there has to be a middle ground for the new player. I can see frustrated new players barging into battle and encountering frustration as the enemy depletes their Soul Zone in one move.

Options Menu: Separate music and sound effects controls are needed in the options. Perhaps this is a personal pet peeve but for me it is a sign of a polished game that the dev took the extra step to finish off for the consumer. There are a ton of games that it is great to hear the sound effects but not the music and vice versa. I am not sure why this is not a standard feature at this juncture of the Appstore. While the game supports playing music from your own playlist, the music drowns out the sound effects. A separate volume control within the game option menu should be included to control not the overall volume of the game but instead the sound effects and the music separately. So many games have been doing this successfully I guess I have been spoiled.

Unit Selection: The battle screen is separated in two. The top half is your opponent and the bottom half is Stark. To make a match, select a unit to move from one column to another – in the style of Critter Crunch or DynoGems. With so many units on the screen the boxes and columns are pretty slight. This led to some false movements due to the wrong selection. The blue column highlight camouflages the color of the unit just enough so that orange might look purple and vice versa so a wrong move is discovered too late. With only three moves per turn, this can kill a battle against a stronger opponent later in the game.  An undo button should be at the very least implemented in a future update since screen real estate is at a premium and the number of units on screen should not be sacrificed.

Length of game: The loading screen indicates this is a “prequel.”  Each unit only levels up to 5, so paired with my gripe about the game being unbalanced it is also short. What the grinding seems to do is artificially lengthen the play. It will remain to be seen if there is a next chapter and if it is a free upgrade or DLC or a new title.

Overall, chronoSgear is a nice addition to the Appstore that takes some familiar game concepts and rolls them into one. With gameplay similar to a popular game series, and new elements introduced, this game should satisfy many needs. Seamlessly combining a strategic RPG, a puzzle and a turn based strategy game into one was not an easy task, but Axion Logic appears to have done just that with chronoSgear.

chronoSgear version 1.01 by Axion Logic was tested on an iPod Touch 2g with OS 4.1. It is currently available for an introductory price of $1.99.

Corporate Fury Review: A Crude and Creative 3D Beat ’em Up!

Recently I’ve been having a lot of fun with an inventive game by Swinecrafters LLC, titled Corporate Fury.  In this game you are Mr. Crusher, a man whose father was murdered by his boss.  The workplace has come to a sad, Gladiator-like existence, where you must fight to survive… Sort of.  What you do is wander the world training to earn money, stats, and items, by fighting random employees.  Once you have reached a certain strength, you can continue with the story by defeating your bosses, then taking their spot on the chain of command- until you eventually get to the top and get the chance to fight your father’s killer.  You can take your time progressing through the storyline, though, and just have some free-roaming fun!

As you progress and get more money, you can visit the store and get some killer upgrades.  These can range from weapons like claws much like those found on Wolverine, to armor covered in spikes and different outfits.  You can even purchase items that allow you to adjust the third-person view to first-person while roaming through the giant environment, and change the distance of the camera to the player.  Another thing available for upgrade in the store are your fighting stats, but there is yet more to unlock- the moves.  In the battles you can do a slew of different combinations utilizing the punch and kick buttons on screen in conjunction with the virtual joystick.  The amount of moves is pretty incredible, you can go a whole battle and not use a quarter of them!


Brawler: The iDevice did not have a proper brawler that delivered until Corporate Fury came along.  With a funny (yet crude) premise, and a well deserved 17+ rating, this game is easy to recommend for those who love mindless violence.

Loading Times: I really dislike loading times in-game.  Thankfully, Corporate Fury loads the entire environment for you when you resume/start your game, with no lag when switching to battles in the arenas.  Once you start it won’t stop until you quit- the game flows right along.

Amount of Content: With a HUGE environment to explore, and many NPCs to interact with, the player can explore for a long time before discovering everything.  The fighting system also allows you to earn some big bucks, which you can put to use to purchase tons and tons of items/upgrades/moves from the store.  If you upgrade your luck stat you can get some pretty fun items by defeating random people around the workplace, such as a Pumpkin Mask and a Pig Mask.

Audio: Corporate Fury has a full soundtrack which really drives the game and enhances the atmosphere.

Graphics: While not the best graphics I’ve seen on the platform, these are certainly higher end.  The fighting animations for each move are superb!


Storyline Length: Unfortunately the storyline really doesn’t last too long, if you take your time there are maybe 4-5 hours of gameplay.  Maybe I’m really great at it, but I doubt it.  Once you beat the final boss, there are actually a few secret bosses to defeat, but they won’t take too much longer.  Thankfully, though, you can’t explore even close to the full environment in that amount of time!

Corporate Fury is a fun take on the brawling formula with a very silly and crude premise.  The atmosphere of the game is pretty dark, and quite amusing, as the player must kill their bosses to advance in rank.  The unique story could be longer, but the amount of unlockables is so high that this is easy to recommend with our highest rating.

Corporate Fury was developed by Swinecrafters LLC., and I played through version 1.1 on my iPod Touch 1G running OS 3.1.3.  It is available on the appstore for $1.99.

‘2K Sports NHL 2K11’ Appears out of Nowhere, $1.99

Hockey has been a sport that just doesn’t seem to want to enter the App Store.  We’ve seen some good ones like Hockey Nations 2010, but nothing else has really captured our hearts as the definitive hockey experience.

That may as well change with the release of 2K Sports NHL 2K11, from none other than 2K Sports.  The price is also surprisingly low at $1.99, along with a lite version to try before you buy.  While I haven’t downloaded either one yet, rest assured that I’ll be all over this sooner or later.

Hopefully this lives up to my not-so-high expectations.  And 2K Sports… thanks for the surprise.

Finger Physics: Thumb Wars Review: Good luck Sticking to it

Finger Physics was one of the most polished games I could remember, and while the puzzle aspect was a bit difficult, it did get your brain thinking and moving around.  It definitely added some intellectual aspects to my mind after playing kill-em-all in NOVA.

Finger Physics was also wildly popular, gathering up close to a million downloads after being offered for free through FreeAppADay.com’s promotion.  It only makes sense to make a sequel, and I must say the sequel is actually not much different.

The new Finger Physics: Thumb Wars includes the same type of gameplay with the same, somewhat annoying amount of OpenFeint points (about 1 point per achievement).  I wish there also could have been a way to skip the tutorial also, as it takes up almost 20-30 minutes of your time.  Still, the gameplay is challenging like before, and it definitely does keep my brain alert and focused.


Improved artwork: PressOK Entertainment really knows how to draw and create detailed art, as both Finger Physics and Finger Physics: Thumb Wars contains some of the best artwork I’ve ever seen in a puzzle game.  Finger Physics: Thumb Wars actually looks a whole lot better than before, and the amount of detail and clarity that went into the font, backgrounds, and shapes really impressed.

It’s a challenge: It’s never fun when games are too easy, although there are some instances when they are.  But for this particular case, I would have to say that the challenging aspect of the game will have people actually thinking and not absentmindedly button-mashing.  In a world in which common people aren’t used to thinking, Finger Physics: Thumb Wars gets your brain exercising and moving.


More or less the same: If you didn’t like the first one, you won’t like this one.  Finger Physics: Thumb Wars acts as more of an expansion pack than a true sequel, so many of the level’s objectives are the same.

OpenFeint points: Working for OpenFeint points should gather some good rewards, but in this case, each achievement is only around one point.  That totally takes away from the joy of collecting achievements, and with me trying to gather as many points as possible, Finger Physics: Thumb Wars doesn’t provide enough for me to make achieving achievements worthwhile.

Fails to capture: Playing this game again makes me feel one thing: it fails to capture you.  Replay value is minimal, and over time, you just don’t feel like playing it.  I’m not saying that it’s a bad game or anything; the game is well-designed, the physics are in place, and gameplay elements aren’t too sparse.  Maybe it just isn’t my type of game, but I really don’t see the point of playing this game.

I liked the first one and was looking for some improvement in terms of replay value, but I didn’t exactly get it.  The same, lame OpenFeint achievement points, somewhat repetitive gameplay, and the same types of levels leaves this one a not-so-favorite on my list.  Sure, they upped the graphics and all, but it wasn’t enough to especially wow or amaze me.

Finger Physics: Thumb Wars was developed by PressOK Entertainment, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $1.99.