Tag Archives: Avoid

Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 Review: A Shotgun Load of Junk

Activision isn’t known for producing large loads of junk, especially when it comes to the App Store.  Their Call of Duty: World at War Zombies game has been highly praised by us, and so has their dual-stick shooter Geometry Wars.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 has also been a joy to play, and Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 is a solid cartoon racer that we enjoyed.

But question marks start to rise when it comes to Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011, which is quite frankly one of the worst games I have ever seen from such a large company.  Production values are extremely low, textures are extremely low-res, and the controls are far from perfect.

The game is also lacking a save mechanism and requires you to start the entire level over if you decide to quit in the middle of one.

And amidst all the bad, I can’t find anything positive.


Graphics: The graphics are absolutely horrible.  Yes it’s 3D, but the 3D modeling is extremely bland and far from detailed (see Modern Combat 2, NOVA for some detail), and the textures are so pixelized that even on my iPhone 4, you’re able to see pixels.

Linear: Gameplay is more or less extremely linear, with no areas to explore.  Kill this, kill that, follow the one-way path.  Not only does it look horrible, but the game itself isn’t too interesting.

Save system: There is no autosave, and if you’re interrupted by a call or quit the game during the middle of a level, the game starts over at the beginning of the level.  This was a problem maybe in the beginning of the App Store—a whole 2 years ago—and it’s an extremely large oversight on Activision’s part.

Controls: The scope button in Cabela’s is placed in an awkward position, and shooting from the scoped position is absolutely pointless.

This is just another attempt by a big company to cash in on name.  This is an absolutely horrible game that should not be picked up at all costs.  Do yourself a favor and go eat out for lunch; don’t buy Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011.

Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 was developed by Activision, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $4.99.

Death Worm Review: So old school it’s just too old

The iPhone has a lot of strengths as a gaming platform and while maybe it’s been a slow start, there are some stellar examples of top notch modern day gaming on this still new platform.

The thing that has held the iPhone back as a platform has been titles that fall back on old gaming principles that were left behind on platforms like the NES and older. Death Worm is, unfortunately, a prime example of this syndrome that plagues the iDevices.

The game has no premise. You’re dropped in the roll of a creature much like the sand worm in Dune. You swim through the dirt leaping at the surface trying to kill everything that moves from animals to helicopters to UFO’s. Yes, you’re causing such a problem for the surface dwellers even the aliens have come to help kill you. Your sand worm has a vast underground sea of dirt to swim through, presumably because you’re going to grow much longer a la Snake on my 1998 Nokia phone.

As you progress from level to level the scenery stays the same but the enemies increase in difficulty and fire power. It’s very easy to pick up and initially, aside from not being able to understand why you’re essentially playing the bad guy, it’s fun…for about ten minutes.

You receive upgrades to your sand worm making him faster, stronger, and longer, as well as momentary power-ups that will allow you to jump REAL high or spit fire. I played it as far as I could without losing my mind from boredom and was able to unlock the next stage which places the exact same gameplay on a new backdrop. It’s very 1988.

Aside from the first stage, there are two unlock-able stages with a graphical promise of more to come. There is one mini-game which is a sort of dash level where you keep your sand worm from running into underground obstacles. Here, there is also a promise of more mini-games to come.

I could go on and on about my objections to this game but I won’t. Here’s the bottom line.


Old School Gaming: There’s a time and place for old school gaming and while I’m not in the slightest bit a fan of this particular throw back game, I’m happy to admit they do a faithful job capturing the arcade style of play that kept people pumping quarters into those machines in the first arcades.

Smooth Gameplay: This game runs well. It controls well and does so intuitively. It’s extremely pickup-and-go with no learning curve whatsoever.

Game Center: I love Game Center and while I can’t imagine playing this game any longer, I’ve got to salute anyone that’s jumping on Apple’s system and not +Plus, OpenFeint, or Crystal.


Lack of innovation: There is nothing new about Death Worm. We’ve seen it all before and I just don’t feel it does anything but hold the iPhone back and give iPhone naysayers an opportunity to wave their PSP’s at me and say my iPhone doesn’t do games.

I’m the Bad Guy!?: I don’t need a lot of story. I love games like Angry Birds and they give us little premise at all, but they give us a premise nonetheless. All I need is someone to tell me why the hell I want to kill everything on the surface and I’ll do so with reckless abandon, but until they do, I’m going to put it down after two seconds of uncomfortably killing soldiers who seem to just want to kill the thing that’s killing them. In this, even the old games of the 80’s are beating Death Worm.

Death Worm is clearly lacking in innovation, and personally, I’m having trouble playing the game for long periods of time.  With a lack of story, lack of creativity, and an overall lack of fun, I say avoid this worm-hole of a mess until further notice.

Death Worm is developed by PlayCreek and I played version 1.0 on my iPhone 4. It’s available now for $0.99.

Enchanted Cave Review: Skip the game, buy the coffee

I’m a sucker for dungeon-crawlers. And in the case of Enchanted Cave, a real sucker.

Gamers often waffle over the price of games on the app store. We see a lot of, “Oh, I don’t know. The game is $1.99. I might not like it. I think I’d better wait until it’s on sale.”

To which we often reply, “It’s less than a cup of coffee. Skip your Starbucks today and support a game developer.”

And in the case of Enchanted Cave, I’d have been more satisfied had I bought that cup of coffee instead.

Enchanted Cave is an iPad dungeon crawler, giving you a view of the dungeon that is somehow smaller than an iPhone display. What awaits you in this cave is not enchantment, but boredom. The game lacks any semblance of strategy. Combat is completely automated. You move through the dungeon hitting bad things and picking up good things. Sometimes you find wings which allow you to teleport out of the dungeon to the shop. But when you do, you lose most of your good things, keeping only your artifacts and gold. There are no experience points and monsters do not drop gold, so it behooves you to avoid combat whenever you can. The controls are terrible — four arrow keys tucked into the lower-right corner of the screen. Your inventory and the game’s text are ridiculously small and difficult to make out, which is simply criminal given the size of the iPad’s display. The developers have tried so hard to cram literally EVERYTHING into a single screen that they’ve pretty much ruined any notion of user-friendliness or functional design.

“I love dungeon-crawlers,” I thought. “It can’t be that bad.” And yet it was.

To wit, Enchanted Cave is one of the most poorly executed and pointless dungeon-crawlers I’ve ever wasted my time with. Consider this review a public service announcement: do not buy this game.

Enchanted Cave is developed by Robots & Pencils, and retails for $2.99. Reviewed on an iPad.

Rogue Runner Review: Run Away!

Hot on the heels of nearly every app store success follow the inevitable quick cash-in copycat titles. Glowdot ProductionsRogue Runner is one such game. Crafted in the mold of Halfbrick Studios’ Monster Dash, Rogue Runner attempts to offer a similarly over-the-top, casual run-and-gun experience, and while it plays many of the same notes, it plays them without any feeling. Like an uninspired cover version of your favorite song, Rogue Runner is familiar, but falls flat in its execution.

The story is loose and unclear. You’re some kind of rogue agent having busted out of a facility in the desert and are on the run from both enemies agents and their alien cohorts. In the course of your escape, you will battle enemies both on the ground and in the air while attempting to avoid the desert’s many pitfalls.

As in Monster Dash, tapping the bottom left corner of the screen causes your character to jump, while tapping the bottom right fires your forward aimed weapon. Setting out, you are given the choice of driving either a jeep or a tank. Your choice of vehicle is cosmetic only, however, and has no impact on game play. Ground enemies attack from on foot and in vehicles of their own, though they amount to the same thing. Helicopters and UFOs will also attack you from the air; to destroy them, tap on them to launch surface-to-air missiles or just shoot them down from the peak of your leaps.

Your vehicle can withstand three hits or falls. Miraculously, when you fall into a pit you only lose a heart and then your vehicle parachutes back in from the sky. Huh? Once your vehicle is destroyed, you have a final chance to continue on foot. In an act of pure senselessness, however, there is no game play difference between being in vehicle or on foot. On foot, you move at the same speed, jump exactly the same height and fire surface-to-air missiles out of your buttocks. Huh?!


Pixel Art: I’m a sucker for pixelated, retro graphics. Rogue Runner’s sprites look something like the offspring of Final Fantasy VI and Metal Slug. The pixel art really is the best thing about the game.


It’s all the same: The helicopters are the same as the UFOs. The running agents are the same as the driving agents. The jeep is the same as the tank is the same as the agent on foot. HOW DOES HE FIRE SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILES FROM HIS BUTTOCKS?! I WANT TO KNOW!!

No weapons or pick-ups: One of the things that made Monster Dash so much fun were the different and silly weapons, like the machine gun jetpack! Rogue Runner has none; you have your standard pistol and your butt missiles, and that’s all she wrote. There’s nothing to find, nothing to collect, nothing to do except shoot at your enemies, and your enemies — despite their different appearances — are all the same.

Jumping: The jumping in Rogue Runner just plain stinks. It feels floaty and off, too difficult to control with any degree of accuracy. Monster Dash and Canabalt both nailed the jumping and succeeded because of it. Rogue Runner, on the other hand, just feels wrong and you will constantly and senselessly find yourself falling into pits, not because you’re bad at the game, but because the game just doesn’t feel right.

A Fundamental Lack of Intelligent Design: Your thumbs obscure the lower two corners of the game screen. Monster Dash took this into account, making surfaces tall enough that they were never obscured by your thumbs and you could always see the next rooftop coming. Rogue Runner makes no such allowance. Ground will often scroll into the screen beneath your thumbs, costing you precious milliseconds in which to act as you simply cannot see what’s coming. It’s a flaw in the game that will get you killed repeatedly.

OpenFeint / No Achievements: I usually list OpenFeint support among a game’s strong points, but Rogue Runner fails to take advantage of what OpenFeint has to offer. It uses the service for leaderboards only, and there are no achievements of any kind. Truly lame.

Rogue Runner is obviously attempting to tap into the same market as Canabalt and Monster Dash, and trying to appeal to gamers who enjoyed those games. By their very nature, these running games become repetitive. Canabalt managed to overcome its repetitive nature by providing an atmosphere so compelling, and such attention to detail that it that it succeeded not only as a game, but as a work of digital art. Monster Dash managed to overcome its repetitive nature using achievements, awards, ridiculous statistic tracking, zany weaponry, changing environments and immense charm. Rogue Runner offers none of the above, and simply fails to overcome its own repetitiveness as a result.

Rogue Running looks the part, but sadly does not play it well. The game becomes tiresome quickly — in my case, within the first five minutes of download — and gives very little reason to return to it. It has far less on offer than either of the games it’s aping, and your time would be better spent playing them instead. If nothing else, Rogue Runner just goes to show that when a game makes Apple’s list of New & Noteworthy titles, that only makes it new, and not necessarily noteworthy. I wish I had my dollar back.

Rogue Runner is developed by Glowdot Productions, and sells for $0.99. Don’t buy it.

Maple Story: Thief Edition Review: Not what it could be

Maple Story is one of the most successful MMORPGs thus far, with over 100 million users worldwide.  It’s also one of the first 2D side-scrolling MMORPGs made.  So it only makes sense to bring the experience (albeit single player) to the iPhone, after releasing it on a numerous number of mobile phones.

I will admit that I did play Maple Story at one time and was a complete newbie at it.  I leveled up to around level 30, then decided to stop playing since I had other things to do, and the game started to get a bit boring.  The multiplayer experience wasn’t all that great, but leveling up by yourself and buying items from the shop was probably the most appealing part of Maple Story.

The cash shop was also quite appealing, but I never delved into those waters.

With all that said, I was quite surprised when Maple Story: Thief Edition was brought to the App Store.  It wasn’t the fact that Nexon was looking into the App Store or the fact that it was unannounced; it was just a game that I never even thought would appear in the App Store.

And as of right now, I wish it was released a bit later, after researching the App Store market, making the texts more polished, and prettying up the graphics.


Maple Story world: If you’re familiar with the Maple Story world, this one will look almost exactly the same.  Sure, it feels a bit smaller, but the initial, side-scrolling gameplay is there, and a familiar musical score will be sounding out in the background.  The baddies are also more or less the same, and the city designs seem to be quite parallel to the MMORPG version.

Controls: The large d-pad to the left is actually not too bad, although there are some times when it does get in the way.  But all in all, it’s not something anyone should really worry about.


Auto-save: One piece of evidence that can be used against Nexon to prove that it didn’t research the App Store is the fact that Maple Story Thief Edition does not have auto-save.  That type of problem existed maybe year 1 of the App Store, when developers didn’t know how to implement it and whatnot.  But now?  This is a rare problem.  One phone call and your entire character could be reduced to the dust from whence it come.

Sloppy: I look at this port as a way to cash in on the Maple Story name.  The text is very basic: Marker Felt.  The UI is mediocre at best.  Graphics are way too pixelated, the animations are horrendous, and the music is basically the same one used in the browser version.  This game looks like almost no effort went into it: scale down the browser graphics, include the same music, and make it not online.  I honestly don’t know who developed Maple Story: Thief Edition (maybe Wizet), but this is a pathetic port.

Quests: I feel like there is a direction to the whole Thief Edition thing, but the quests are typical fight this, find that.  It does get a bit boring after a while, and after seeing so many of these types of RPGs, I’m getting a bit tired of them.  So if you don’t like games that are basically “Kill 5 Stumps” and “Find so-and-so in XYZ City”, then this is definitely a game to avoid.

I hate sloppy.  I hate mediocre.  Therefore, I hate Maple Story: Thief Edition.  It’s another attempt by a large company to cash in on its name, and that just doesn’t sit well with me.  Obviously not every single App Store shopper can read this review, but if you are reading this, save yourself a couple of bucks.

Maple Story: Thief Edition was developed by Nexon Mobile, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $4.99.