iPhone Life magazine

Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.

Review: LilRacerz Pro Rally by Irix Pty Ltd.

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There have been a number of top down racers available for iOS devices since the inception of the App Store, and one that I’ve particularly enjoyed came out about a year ago.  It’s called Lil’ Racerz Pro Rally, and despite its age it has held up rather well.  It might not be as fancy as the likes of Reckless Racing, but it offers lots of tracks, 10 different cars to unlock and upgrade, and some sweet “modern retro” graphics and sound.  If you're a top down racing fan this would certainly be a fitting addition to your collection.



Review: Crazy John by Trinity Games

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I know there are a lot of people that believe Trinity Games is basically in the business of making cheap knock-offs of other developers’ games.  The truth is that their games do tend to be derivative of other games on the App Store, and often aren’t nearly as good.  You can rest assured, however, that such is not the case with Crazy John, which is why I’m bothering to review it in the first place.  Some will argue that it is merely a Minigore clone, or possibly even a rip off of Age Of Zombies.  The reality is, however, that the game offers more features than the first couple of iterations of Minigore (I honestly haven’t played it lately), and I find it more enjoyable than Age Of Zombies.  If you’ve not been convinced in the past that Trinity Games could take a concept and make it their own, Crazy John might just be the product to persuade you.



Review: Sky Combat by Chillingo

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I love scrolling shooters, I’ve reviewed quite a few of them over time, and I often find myself commenting on how I wish the developers would go back and play 1942 to get a basic feel for how a scrolling shooter should play out.  I’m not sure where the developers of Sky Combat got their inspiration, but they certainly hit the mark.  This game has formations, it has level design, and it’s actually challenging without succumbing to the “bullet hell” gimmick.  I’m not saying it’s perfect – not even 1942 was perfect – but this is definitely one of the best scrolling shooters I’ve played on my iPod Touch.  Take note, Capcom: this is the game First Strike should have been.



Review: Last Stand Stan by GreenBean Games

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Last Stand Stan is kind of like a mix between Missile Command and Asteroids.  Like the latter game you have a 360 degree battle, but much like the former you fight from a fixed position, which in this case is the center of the screen.  Many games that employ this format have you controlling a planet or some critter on top of a planet, but in this case you control a robot named Stan, though you are still tasked with defending a planet.  I think the game has a ton of potential, but in its current incarnation there are enough drawbacks that it hasn’t reached that potential.  What you end up with, then, is an average game that’s on its way to the top.



Review: Dead Space by Electronic Arts

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I was planning on passing this game by, because I’m not a fan of first / third person shooters.  With the way everyone was raving about it, however, I figured I wouldn’t be much of a reviewer if I didn’t check it out.  Turns out it was a wise decision on my part.  I’m still not planning on jumping up and down for joy the next time a big FPS gets released, but this particular outing has been well worth my while.  Much like Half Life for the PC, Dead Space proves that an interesting story can turn an FPS into much more than a “run and blast” experience.  The horror element of the whole thing doesn’t hurt, either.



Review: Volcano Escape by Bravo Games

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I don’t know what it is about the whole falling down / continually climbing genre of games.  It’s no more complex than the constantly running variety, yet it can be just as addictive.  To be perfectly honest, though, when I first started playing Volcano Escape I thought it was going to be different.  I actually didn’t think I was going to get into it.  Turns out I was wrong.  The thing that actually sets Volcano Escape apart from the crowd is you’ll actually find yourself doing better if you don’t completely rush.  There’s no room to dawdle either, but a happy medium will take you a long way.  I’m not sure I’m thrilled about the controls, but given enough time I’ll get used to them.



Review: Cardboard Castle by BulkyPix

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Puzzle games are a dime a dozen, and some genres are so oversaturated that it’s hard to imagine a developer doing any more with them.  Then a game like Cardboard Castle comes along that doesn’t really fit neatly into a category and reminds us of why we love puzzle games in the first place.  You’ll find no matching or physics related quandaries in this game.  Instead what you get is a series of rooms that contain multiple “use this object for this purpose” puzzles that while in hindsight are fairly simple, can be quite perplexing until you’ve figured them out.  Add to that the awesome cardboard graphics theme and you have one pretty snazzy puzzle game to include in your collection.



Review: Treasure Seekers 2 The Enchanted Canvases by G5 Entertainment

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Since I’ve started playing hidden object games I’ve noticed that they have become less about searching a room for a bunch of objects and more about being like an adventure game.  You often need to find an object to be used somewhere else, there are mini-games to be solved to unlock objects or rooms in the game, and you even have dialogs with other people in the game.  The focus tends to be around people searching for their parents, grandparents, or kids, so the original Treasure Seekers was a nice change of pace in that it revolved around a younger child trying to find her brother (and then looking for a treasure, of course).  Now the kids have grown up, but the premise hasn’t changed – sister must find brother, and together they’ll seek the Philosopher’s Stone.  Turns out it’s still as interesting this time around, and the more balanced mini-games make for an overall more pleasant experience.



Review: Shinobi III by SEGA

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I remember playing the Shinobi games on both my Genesis and Game Gear when I was a kid, and I remember them being tough.  However, I also remember them being lots of fun.  I guess I enjoyed my games being a bit punishing in those days.  When I heard they were bringing a Shinobi out for the iPhone I was quite excited, though I was a bit disappointed that it was part 3 instead of Revenge Of Shinobi, which is by far my favorite.  After spending some time with Shinobi III, though, I’m really enjoying it.  The game play actually holds up quite well for a game that’s almost 20 years old, and I’d say this is definitely one of SEGA’s strongest emulated games to date.
 



Review: Push Panic by Appular

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I don’t know if you ever run into this problem or not, but due to the sheer volume of games I go through, it often takes me a while to play many of the games I own.  Then when I finally do, I sometimes think to myself “wow, I wish I would have played this game sooner”.  If you haven’t guessed yet, Push Panic is one of those games.  The concept is simple, yet it’s a fresh take on the matching genre that really sets a new standard for this type of game.  Add to that four different game play modes, social network integration and a snazzy appearance and you have a causal gaming experience that no one should miss.



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