Tag Archives: $7.99

Robokill Review: iPad Exclusive Dual-stick Shooter

Robokill – Rescue Titan Prime is an iPad exclusive top-down, dual-stick shooter from developer Wandake Entertainment, and a pleasant surprise in an over-saturated genre.

A station orbiting Mars has been overrun by hostile robot forces, and you’ve been sent in — a lone gunman — to restore order. The game’s narrative is weak, with the origin of the hostiles never adequately explained. All you really need to know, though, is that the robots are bad and need be shot up. Action ensues in 13 missions, featuring more than 450 rooms to be cleared. Each mission consists of a labyrinthine network of rooms which must be cleared, and certain objectives completed to advance. The layout of each mission is reminiscent of the original Legend of Zelda, and a welcome change of pace from the open arenas prevalent in most dual-stick shooters.

The rooms themselves present various challenges. Some are open spaces for combat, while others force you into precarious battles on narrow catwalks, or force you to work around obstacles to obliterate your foes. Some rooms are so dense with enemies that it becomes absolutely frantic trying to avoid fire while simultaneously avoiding pitfalls or traps.

Robokill offers players a number of options for customizing their mech’s payload, featuring four weapons mounts, four accessory mounts and plenty of options for each. Blasters, shotguns, lasers, grenade launchers, pulse guns and more can be mounted in any combination, and accessories such as riot shields, shield generators, sensors and emergency repair kits can be equipped for support.

Teleportation pads are scattered throughout each mission as well, allowing you to return to previously cleared rooms without having to traverse the ground in between. This makes it easy to bounce around the map to access alternative routes that you may have passed earlier in the mission.


Robokill is an easy game to like. The graphics are fantastic, the action is solid, the controls are precise and responsive, and there’s enough content here to keep you busy for quite some time. It’s great fun to try out new weapons arrangements, and you’re constantly upgrading your mech with new weapons found or purchased from the shop in each mission. As you defeat enemies you also gain experience points, increasing the strength of your mech and enabling it to equip yet stronger weaponry. The game is constantly rewarding you for your progress, keeping your mech on a steady growth curve and providing a very satisfactory experience.

In short, Robokill is a top-notch effort and a lot of fun to play.


Despite being so excellent, however, Robokill is not perfect. There is nothing broken about the game; what’s here is exceptional. Several omissions and many missed opportunities prevent Robokill from realizing its full potential, however.

The game offers many weapons from which to choose, but fails to differentiate the weapons in any way that affects gameplay. The only trade-off between weapons is firepower vs. rate-of-fire. Weaker weapons fire faster than stronger weapons, with the end result being that the increased rate-of-fire offsets the decreased firepower and vice-versa. In the end, your weapon choices have a mostly negligible effect on how you approach combat. So long as you continually upgrade your weapons — each weapon type comes in light, medium and heavy varieties — the game plays essentially the same, regardless of how your mech is equipped.

I would have preferred the developer had implemented a more complicated weapon system, utilizing encumberance, heat-sinks or both to force players into making more strategic choices in their mech’s payload. With encumberance, the weight of your weapons would factor into the overall movement speed of your mech, allowing players to build light, nimble combatants, or heavy, powerful tanks slower to move. Heat-sinks would limit your payload, meaning that you might be forced to choice between equipping two relatively weak cannons with a high rate of fire, or a single uber-powerful cannon that eats up more of your mech’s resources. Systems such as these would have made the game more interesting, and given it more replay value, as players could play through more than once with different armaments for new challenges.

Another failing is the game’s poor implementation of ambushes. Typically, enemies will already be present in a room when you enter. Sometimes, however, the room will appear at first to be empty, then an ambush will sound and enemies will warp into the room to attack. Ambushes are poorly handled, though, in that there is essentially no difference between the enemies already being there, or the enemies appearing before you’ve taken more than a step from the entrance. It amounts to the same: you enter the room, and enemies are there. And because every room includes enemies without exception, it’s never as if you’re not expecting a fight …

Ambushes could have been put to much better use. For example, the room could appear to be empty until your mech reaches the center or some precarious position on a landing, then having the ambush sound and enemies warping in to surround you. Another idea would be to have ambushes occur at random when retracing your steps through previously cleared rooms, where you would otherwise not be expecting an encounter. In these ways, ambushes might have been used to spice up the action and to provide diversity to encounters which the game is otherwise lacking.

The enemies in Robokill come in many shapes and sizes. Some walk and some fly. Some charge at you, while others fire at you. Some are fast, others slow, and some are stationary. They utilize different types of weapons, with varying damage capability and rates of fire. Some are shielded and others not. They may attack in groups, or on their own. But the game lacks boss encounters altogether, and that’s just sad. I really, desperately wish the game featured a few large-scale, epic boss battles with gigantic machines. Retro-style bosses with pattern-based attacks and cool weapons. Lacking bosses, the missions lack any type of climax. Instead, it’s simply a matter of clearing the rooms and moving on.

The sound design is overall pretty good, but the game lacks music aside from the the title screen.

And finally, there are 13 missions and that is all. It seems a gross oversight that the game doesn’t include a survival mode.

In conclusion, Robokill is a really good game that falls somewhat short of being great — not because of anything broken, but simply because it misses out on so much potential. And while I have not for a moment regretted paying the game’s premium $7.99 price, the lack of game modes and repetitiveness of the gameplay is nonetheless off-putting.

But despite the game’s shortcomings, Robokill is an easy recommendation. Designed specifically for the iPad, it plays better than any other dual-stick shooter I’ve tried on the device, it’s gorgeous and I’ve been having a blast with it.

Robokill – Rescue Titan Prime is developed by Wandake Entertainment, and sells for $7.99 exclusively for the iPad. Reviewed at version 1.1.

Madden NFL 11 Review: For the Love of the Game

I love football.  I’m a die hard Steelers fan, with my second choice going to the New York Jets, mainly because of Mark Sanchez.  I just recently watched the Hall of Fame game when Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Russ Grimm, and plenty of others were inducted into the Hall of Fame; the Cowboys also trampled the Bengals 16-7.

And if you can’t tell already, I’m a hardcore football fan.  On my Xbox 360, Madden is my most played game.  So when it comes to football on the iPhone, I’ve been a little let down by offerings such as NFL 2010 from Gameloft and Madden NFL 10 from EA Sports.  But with a new year approaching, both companies have released their respective titles.

But focusing on Madden NFL 11, I would have to describe it no more than one word: disappointing.  The GameFlow system is actually quite amazing, the graphics make my eyes burn, and the Hot Routes are an added improvement.

But once you get past the looks and feel, you get a game that’s still lacking a play clock (you wind down a couple of seconds then the clock just stops), a game that still consists of horrible animations, and a ridiculous All-Madden difficulty level.  On top of that, other parts of the game just don’t seem realistic at all, such as Nick Folk missing two extra points in a row, Ladainian Tomlinson starting over Shonn Greene, and defensive backs making unneeded, diving interceptions.

A sluggish framerate and UI just add to the mountain of small and large issues I had with Madden NFL 11.  There’s a lot to love about Madden NFL 11, but there are still some glaring issues that make this a disappointment.  Always next year though, right?


Graphics: This is the most noticeable thing above anything else.  The iPhone 4 Retina display makes the game one of the best I’ve ever seen, and while the player models aren’t too impressive (still the same from last year), the detail is absolutely breathtaking.  The audience actually has some depth behind it, the grass is more detailed — everything about it is wonderful.  I had huge gripes about the graphics in Madden 10, so I’m glad to see that they’ve upgraded them significantly this year.

GameFlow management: This type of game feature is for both the hardcore and the casual.  I found it quite useful for just playing the game without having to sift through plays.  The plays that it chooses are quite accurate: the Jets ran over 75% of their plays as running plays.  The integration into the game is all quite smooth, and it’s available after each play along with telling you what play will be called.  It’s an ingenious feature by EA Mobile, and this is one feature I’m mightily impressed with.

NFL Receivers: Last year’s Madden NFL 10 had some of the worst receivers I have ever seen: footballs would bounce out of their hands almost 80% of the time.  There were only specific pass plays that would work, while others didn’t work at all.  This year, the balancing has been improved with more accurate QBs (I’m assuming) and more high-flight receivers, and most of them make the catch if it’s reasonable.


Lack of play clock: Where’s the play clock?  Is there even a play clock?  It’s almost ridiculous how it’s hidden, and I’ve actually had the game tick down from 3:30 to 2:41 without any penalties, then the clock just stopped ticking down at 2:41.  Another time I received a delay of game penalty… with no play clock in sight.  Can someone tell me what’s going on because right now, I’m in a state of utter disbelief.

Animations: Yeah the graphics are great, but the animations are the same, poor animations found in Madden 10.  Actually, the whole game feels almost the same even with the graphical update: the UI is still the same, features are more or less the same, and the animations are absolutely horrible.  You have running backs crossing their legs to dodge a linebacker, receivers spinning like ballerinas after making the catch, and tacklers going through a player… literally.  When your running back is dragged to the ground, he’s dragged almost three or four yards before reaching the floor.

Framerate/UI: The user interface is sluggish.  Pressing a button doesn’t feel smooth, and at times, I have to tap a button and hope it registers.  It’s also the same UI used in Madden 10 with a different font, which is quite disappointing since I didn’t exactly like the UI last year.  The game as a whole just feels sluggish, from scrolling through the playbook to running the play.

Pass interference: Way too many pass interference calls.  The referee obviously needs to chillax and stop called eight pass interference calls in one game, heck one quarter.  If you’re not familiar with pass interference calls, it means that the offense gets to move up wherever that call was (usually 20-30 yards up the field), and they receive a first down.

All-Madden difficulty: The All-Madden mode is plain ridiculous.  Maybe they made it that way so that players won’t say the game is “too easy”, but this is borderline just ridiculous.  Without the ability to see the whole field, you have no clue if the defense is in man, Cover 2, Cover 3, Prevent, etc.  There are no color indicators to show if your receivers are open or not, and even if you have the league’s best offensive line (i.e. the Jets), the defense just happens to get through the line and sack you almost 85% of the time.

Madden NFL 11 is the best football game in the App Store only because there’s only one other competitor: NFL 2011.  And both have their respective, overabundance of problems.  Madden NFL 11 just feels way too sluggish and choppy, even on my iPhone 4, and the UI is still the horrible, unresponsive UI found in last year’s game.  The animations are still absolutely terrible, the play clock situation is absolutely absurd, and I look at this game in total disbelief.

I’m not saying it’s not fun; no, I’m actually having fun with it.  But be aware of the many problems Madden NFL 11 entails and don’t believe the screenshots on the App Store: it feels almost the same as last years.  But hey, if you’re  a diehard football fan like me, there’s no way you’re not picking this up.

Madden NFL 11 was developed by EA Mobile, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $7.99.

Xenome Episode 1 Review: Post-Apocalypse is Cooler than you Think

The post-apocalypse is always a touchy subject that gamers and developers alike have tried to re-imagine.  What happens once the world does stop revolving and all of mankind dies?  Well according to Xenome, the only way you can survive is through cryo freezing, or cryogenics.

And of course, you have a Union ruling the now-empty world.  You take on the role of the Scientist, who as I mentioned before, was frozen by the method of cryogenics: freezing someone so that they can come back to life after a certain period of time.  As you wake up, you’re confronted by a sort of rebel group, and the first person you will speak with is called William Tavner.

Your job is to collect fragments throughout the Xenome world to gather information about what happened during the 250 years you were frozen.  You also must find out information about your past through these fragments, and all in all, it makes for an interesting story.  But for some reason, it reminds of Avatar the Last Airbender in some ways…


Large, large world: This is one of the largest open-world environments I’ve played on the iPhone.  It’s so large, in fact, that you need pingers to get you around or else you will virtually die of starvation and exhaustion (even though the Scientist is not affected by fatigue).  Kudos to Nine Pound Studios for creating one of the largest environments on the App Store.

Ambitious: Nine Pound Studios clearly went against all odds and App Store stereotypes, indie developers make only small games, to create one of the most robust games in the App Store.  While the RPG aspect of it could use some improvement, Nine Pound Studios delivered a well-scripted story along with a ton of variety in weapons, armor, and enemies.

Story: Like I mentioned, the story is very well written.  I’m not much of a reader when it comes to games, but Xenome’s text oddly captured my attention and made it easy for me to follow what exactly is going on.  The quests are well stringed together so that there aren’t any holes and question marks when the player goes from one area to the next.

Balance: Xenome is also surprisingly well-balanced.  There is little to no grinding involved; you’re going from one quest to the other.  The enemies in the area of your quest should be easy to defeat, as they’re either one or two levels below yours.  While games like Zenonia contained huge amounts of grinding, Xenome makes going through the storyline as fast as possible a priority.

Autosave: Autosave always comes as a nice feature that should be included in every game, and Xenome does a solid job of preserving the game at the exact spot.  If you receive a phone call or even a push notification, Xenome will save at the exact spot.

Content: Usually when I hear or see “episode”, I think of short content, a cliff-hanger, and a feeling of longing after completing the “episode”.  But that doesn’t seem to be the case for Xenome (except for the last part), as Xenome could as well be called Xenome and receive the same amount of love from me in terms of content.  Don’t let the “episode 1” in the name turn you off; this is one of the more longer games in the App Store.

Loot: There are a ton of items, weapons, and armor to collect.  Don’t forget the DNA you can also collect to acquire traits of a certain enemy or monster.  It almost reminds me of Dungeon Hunter in the fact that it contains a lot of items and loot.


Sound system: It would be nice to adjust the SFX and GFX of the game, and the menu options seem to be quite lacking.  It only contains invert controls and turn the sand effects off, which should make the game run a bit faster.  Still, this seems to be an oversight by the developers and should be something to fix in the next update.

Controls: The controls are really not that bad.  But it does need some work.  The left stick needs some adjustment in terms of sensitivity, and there are some times when the left stick starts spinning on its own.  Also, controls that feel more like NOVA would be much more comfortable, although adjusting the sensitivity of that left stick would be easier and more or less the same thing, personally.

Framerate: I had the chance to test this on an iPod Touch 2G and an iPhone 3GS, and of course, the iPod Touch 2G didn’t exactly work too well (since it wasn’t made for it).  As for the iPhone 3GS, this is the first time I’ve ever encountered stutters and crashes on that device.  Sure, I turned off the sand effects and everything ran a bit more smoothly, but you have to wonder how much RAM this thing actually eats up.  If Apple’s claims of the iPhone 4 having 512 MB of RAM is true, then this game is running nearly 200 MB RAM, since it’s also stuttering on my iPhone 4.  It’s clearly a problem with the game, and this is one area I would love to see fixed.

Combat system: The combat system of auto-targetting and auto-firing is somewhat flawed in my opinion.  You auto-target but must have to painfully turn around to actually start auto-attacking.  Every single enemy you pass by you have to attack or run away and hope to escape.  As for the auto-attacking, the attack button sometimes doesn’t respond to my touch.  I’m more of a button-mashing type of RPG guy, so the auto-attack didn’t fare too well with my patience.

Leveling up: This is more of a personal preference, but I love adjusting my own stats and creating a fully maxed out character.  Xenome takes those stats and automatically levels them up for you, giving you no option to adjust your strength levels and such.  You also can’t level up your special skills from what I see, which is a shame.

Graphics: You can really tell that there aren’t too many polygons in some of these structures, whether it be rocks or buildings.  Walls were also quite lackluster, and the Scientist himself was a bit pixelated and not too detailed.  I’m not sure I would want better graphics though, as the performance is already crippling under these circumstances.  Still, this is just one to put out there.  Whether you like to have awesome graphics or not is your own preference; I just found to be a bit lacking.

Menu systems: The menu system was a little bit cumbersome, and discarding items was another pain.  The inventory was present in two different menus: one in the equip menu and one in the complete inventory menu.  Discarding an item would basically obliterate the item from existence, and navigating through the small buttons was a little tough.  It’s not too bad, but some improvements to the UI would be welcoming.

For those with patience: You HAVE to be patient with a game like this.  If you own an iPhone 3GS or iPod Touch 3rd Gen, crashes will occur.  If you own an iPhone 4, framerate will suffer at times.  Walking through the empty desert also is quite tiring, and fighting is even more of a hit to patience.  If you’re not a patient person and want instant action, this isn’t one for you.

Xenome is, in one word, raw.  It’s very raw, but it has so much potential that I actually cannot wait for it to finally blossom.  The blossom part is really up to the developers, but Xenome contains maybe one of the easiest to follow storyline, the largest open-environment I’ve ever seen, and a large variety of weapons and armor.  It’s got a lot of work to do before it reaches that elite status, but the potential here is tremendous.

Xenome Episode 1 was developed by Nine Pound Studios, and I played through version 1.0.6790 on my iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.  The game is on sale for $4.99, then it will go up to $7.99.

‘Xenome – Episode 1’ Out now in the App Store

Open-world RPG isn’t too far away, as Xenome Episode 1 has finally been released onto the App Store.  But contrary to assumptions and such, Episode 1 actually contains over 60 missions, an open-world to explore, tons of enemies to fight, and a plethora of loot to collect.

From all the buzz, it seems as if Episode 1 should last around 4-6 hours depending how bad you are at the game, and for $4.99, it’s a reasonable deal.  Unfortunately for most people though, the game only supports 3rd generation devices and higher (iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod Touch third gen).

It is quite unfortunate, but the developers are hard at work to bring the game to almost everyone in the coming updates.  They also promise that by episode 3, it will become an online MMORPG, but only time will tell if that will ever happen.  Developers tend to promise extravagant things and never follow through, so don’t keep your hopes too high now.

Xenome Episode 1 is available for $4.99 as a limited time introductory price.

‘Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck’s Revenge’ Out now for iPhone and iPad

Monkey Island, the first one, was probably one of the best re-imagined retro games for the iPhone, also making it as one of the best point-and-click adventure games on the platform.  I had an enjoyable time with the first version, and while I’m not too keen with point-and-click adventure games, Monkey Island drew me in like no other.

Fortunately, LucasArts has decided to release the second Monkey Island, named Le Chuck’s Revenge to both the iPhone and iPad (separate versions, separate costs).  It brings all the “special” it brought to the first game in the series, with the ability to switch between classic and enhanced graphics, redone musical score, voiceovers, and a hint system.

If you were a fan of the first game, this seems to be a no-brainer.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on this title before the night wanes into dawn.

Monkey Island 2 SE: Le Chuck’s Revenge is available on the iPhone for $7.99 and the iPad for $9.99.